« PreviousContinue »
In both these senses we firmly believe and constantly preach the doctrine of the DIVINITY OF CHRIST. I know of no other sense in which the phrase can be understood. And yet the charge of not believing the Divinity of Christ, of denying the Divinity of Christ, and the Deity of Christ, is continually urged against us by Trinitarians. Sometimes members of our churches, but more frequently those who are disposed to join Christian churches, are thus asassailed : “I wonder you can hear that man preach — he dont believe in the Divinity of Christ!" "I am surprised to hear that you attend that meeting — those people deny the Divinity of Christ !!" "I am astonished that you should think of joining that church — they deny the Divinity of Christ !!!" In this way those who are unacquainted with the Trinitarian controversy are imposed upon, and made to believe that we reject some doctrine of the Bible, some explicit declaration of Scripture.
Inconsiderate and rash men,” says Dr. Dwight, “ assert roundly, though they do not know that which they assert to be true; and have no sufficient reason to believe it to be true. This conduct is derived only from a want of a just sense of the importance of Truth, and the value of Veracity."
Whence is it that good men are tempted to so frequent and flagrant violations of the ninth commandment ? I think I have never heard or read of a charge of this kind against a Christian minister, but what came from one who had adopted a human creed. Every honest man, every true christian, who voluntarily adopts and advocates a human creed, thinks it to be founded on the Scriptures; even though it should be contradicted by every other creed on earth. If his neighbor does not approve of his creed, and adopt its phraseology, he very naturally infers that his neighbor does not believe in all the word of God. He
In this way
reads the Bible, and speculates upon his neighbor's creed through the medium of his own. Through the same deceptive medium he contemplates his neighbor who has no creed, or whose creed is the Bible. But the truth is, he is deceived, whether his neighbor be right or wrong. Like refracted rays, his moral vision is perverted. He does not see things as they are, but as they are not. he inadvertently bears false witness against his neighbor. There are probably not less than five hundred religious creeds in the world, all of which are contradictory. Consequently there can be but one right one and they may possibly all be wrong. For there is no contradiction in truth none in the Bible. If there be so many such creeds, there is but one chance in five hundred of being led right by adopting a creed. While one is led right by his creed, four hundred and ninety-nine will, by theirs, be led astray. This is, I think, the true source of those unfounded charges so often preferred, by Trinitarians, against those who conscientiously adhere to the Scriptures, to the exclusion of all human creeds, disciplines, canons, and platforms. To a man enveloped in fog, one who enjoys perfect sunshine does not seem to be in the light.
The readiest way to lose the meaning of the Holy Spirit, is to set aside the words by which that meaning is communicated. We do not think it safe to attempt an improvement of the way to heaven by substituting a single sen. tence, phrase, or word. We never put our finishing hand to what God has left perfect. This is the reason why those who are familiar with the language of a human creed are dissatisfied with the doctrine we preach. Not hearing their favorite phraseology, they think it another gospel.
Should the holy apostles come from heaven, and preach precisely the same gospel they did preach when on earth, if they were not known as the apostles, suspicion of their
not being sound in the faith would immediately fasten upon them. No sect, whose creed they rejected, would be satisfied with them. It would be thought they did not preach he whole truth that they did not believe in all the word of God. Should they adopt the creed of one church, they would bring upon themselves the unqualified censure of all of a contrary creed.
Nay, should the Lord Jesus Christ, himself, descend from heaven, appearing in the same form, and preaching the same doctrine as when on earth, there are probably but few churches, called orthodox, that would receive him. Unless he would so modify his gospel that they could hear the favorite language of their creed, they would not suffer him. But this he could not, and would not do, because the creeds are essentially contradictory.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.
The doctrine of the Trinity in unity, as it appears in the creeds of modern times, asserts “ that in the Godhead are three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and that these three are One God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.".-Creed of the Theological School at Andover.
This definition may be abridged in the words of Dr. Watts, thus, “ God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, three in one.”
Now this doctrine is to be rejected, because the belief of it is impossible. Three persons, each of whom is God, are three Gods. This proposition can no more be denied than the following one.
Three persons, each of whom is man, are three men. The doctrine of the Trinity, then, asserts, that there are three Gods. It also asserts, that there is but one God. But no man ever did believe, or ever can believe, that there are three Gods, and that there is but one God. Some Trinitarians have, indeed, remonstrated against the charge of tritheism, and have asserted (but not proved) that the great body of Trinitarians, by the use of the word person, do not mean proper personality. But if they say one thing and mean another, if they say person, and mean something else, they dissemble. If they se words without meaning they talk nonsense. If they ose words that mean - nobody knows what they "speak into the air." This, however, is only an evasion to which
they resort in order to free their system from the “absurdities consequent upon the language of their creed."
The doctrine of the Trinity, as held by the great body of Trinitarians, is, unquestionably, that which it appears to be, the terms person and persons being taken in their proper and obvious sense.
"By person," says Dr. Waterland, whose writings are preeminent with Trinitarians, "I certainly mean a real Person, an Hypostasis, no Mode, Attribute, or Property. Each divine Person is an individual, intelligent Agent; but as subsisting in one undivided substance, they are all together, in that respect, but one undivided Agent. The church never professed three Hypostases, in any other sense, but as they mean three Persons."-See Nortor's Statement of Reasons, p. 3.
Dr. William Sherlock, one of the most learned and respectable dignitaries of the Church of England, and celebrated as a polemic writer, says, “ It is plain the persons are perfectly distinct, for they are three distinct and infinite minds, and therefore three distinct persons; for a person is an intelligent being, and to say, there are three divine persons, and not three distinct infinite minds, is both heresy and nonsense.”— Vindication of the Doctrine of the T'rin. ity, p. 66.
The distinction of persons cannot be more truly and aptly represented than by the distinction between three men: for the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are as really distinct persons, as Peter, James, and John.”—Ibid. p. 105.
“ We must allow the divine persons to be real substantial beings.”—Ibid. p. 47.
Dr. Barrow says, “We first should carefully and duly be affected with the gracious consent, and, as it were, confederacy of the glorious Three in designing and prosecuting our good; their unanimous agreement, in uttering