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three persons are three postures, or internal relations of the one substance of Deity to itself."
The real doctrine, however, is best explained by ARCHBISHOP SECKER; because his explanation contradicts itself two or three times in the course of one sentence; which is just as it should be. It is this. "Since there is not a plurality of Gods, and yet the Son and Spirit are each of them God no less than the Father; it plainly follows, that they are in a manner by us inconceivable so united to him that these three are one, but still in a manner equally inconceivable so distinguished from him, that no one of them is the other." It follows very plainly indeed.
We are told in the Athanasian Creed, that "in this trinity none is afore or after other;" but MR. SPAULDING tells us that "the divine principle necessarily supposes an order of divine persons, viz. a covenant maker or mover, which gives the idea of the first person; a covenant subject or one brought into covenant, which gives the idea of a second person; and a covenant interest, which gives the idea of a third person. And here again a trinity is implied; first, the inaugurator, or one who anoints; second, the inaugurated, or one who is anointed; and third, the oil, which the anointer pours, and the anointed receives."
The following is BISHOP BEVERIDGE's explanation of the trinity.
"If I say the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be three, and every one distinctly God, it is true; but if I say they be three, and every one a distinct God, it is false. I may say the divine persons are distinct in the divine nature, but I cannot say the divine nature is divided into the divine persons. I may say God the Father is
one God, and the Son is one God, and the Holy Ghost is one God; but I cannot say the Father is one God, and the Son another God, and the Holy Ghost a third God. I may say that the Father begat another who is God, yet I cannot say he begat another God. And from the Father and the Son proceedeth another who is God, yet I cannot say from the Father and the Son proceedeth another God." This elucidation of the mystery is so acute, hair-splitting, and logical, that we cannot but recommend it to any who are in want of a truly mysterious plan.
The equally intelligible explanation of BISHOP GASTRELL, however, may be preferred. "The Father includes the whole idea of God, and something more; the Son includes the whole idea of God, and something more; the Holy Ghost includes the whole idea of God, and something more; while altogether the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost make one entire God, and no
DR. THOMAS BURNET "maintains one self existent, and two dependent beings, but asserts that the two latter are so united to and inhabited by the former, that by virtue of that union, divine perfections may be ascribed, and divine worship paid to them." In opposition to the Athanasian Creed, which says that the Son is begotten and not created, and that the Holy Ghost is neither created nor begotten, but proceeding, he avers that "the Son and the Holy Ghost are created beings, and are Gods only by the indwelling of the Father's Godhead."
BISHOP BURGESS teaches, that "the Father is a person, but not a being, the Son is a person but not a
being, and the Holy Ghost is a person but not a being, and these three nonentities make one perfect being."
The doctrine of THE FRENCH AND BELGIC CONFESSION is, that "the Father is the cause of all; the Son is his wisdom and word; and the Holy Ghost is his virtue or power."
A CONNECTICUT DIVINE informs us, that "we may consider God as standing in a circle; standing on this part he is the Father, on that he is the Son, and on the other he is the Holy Spirit."
And HEBER, in his Bampton lectures, discovers to us the secret, that "the Father is the first person in the trinity, the archangel Michael the second, and the angel Gabriel the third."
We do not ask our readers to understand, or to attempt to understand, the following exposition of the trinity by DR. BARROW, but only to read it over with attention, as the system which DR. MILLER, in his Letters on Unitarianism, represents as the common belief of the orthodox, and adopts as his own. He introduces it thus.
"We mean to express a certain (to us mysterious) threefold mode of existence, in the one living and true God, which carries with it the idea of an INEFFAGLORIOUS SOCIETY in the Godhead, and lays a foundation for the use of the personal pronouns, I, Thou, He, in that ever blessed society. In short, to employ the language of Dr. Barrow, we believe, "That there is one divine nature or essence, common to three persons, incomprehensibly united, and ineffably distinguished; united in essential attributes, distinguished by peculiar relations; all equally infinite in every divine perfection; each different from the other in
order and manner of subsistence; that there is a mutual existence of one in all, and all in one; a communication without any deprivation or diminution in the communicant; an eternal generation, and an eternal procession, without precedence or succession, without proper casuality or dependence; a Father imparting his own, and the Son receiving his Father's life, and a Spirit issuing from both, without any division or multiplication of essence. These are notions which may well puzzle our reason in conceiving how they agree, but should not stagger our faith in assenting that they
Several other discordant systems of Trinitarianism might be added to the above; but for the present these will suffice to show, that there is not such an exact agreement among the orthodox, as to warrant their making a want of agreement an objection against unitarianism. But we are tempted to especial wonder at their effrontery, when we consider the fact, that with regard to the Supreme object of belief and worship, unitarians do not disagree at all.
The supreme object of belief and worship is GOD. Now all unitarians accord in maintaining that God is in the strictest sense, one-one being in one person, and not in three, nor any other number of persons. Here is perfect agreement on the most important point of doctrine. God, in the unitarian's creed, stands alone, and there is no other God beside him. There is not the least discordancy among us, when we come to the great Creator, Upholder, and Preserver of all things. We all unite, when we contemplate the eternal throne. In our opinions on the person of Christ, it is true that we differ. Some regard him as a man,
and others as an angel or superangelic being; but all believe him dependent and created; none make him equal with the Father, or a part of the Divine existThe discordancies of trinitarianism begin with the very first article of all religion, the being and nature of God; but here unitarians are at peace and in unison. And on the mere question of agreement or disagreement, what candid mind will fail to acknowledge the immense advantage on the side of unitarianism?
Reviewing the list of clashing opinions which we have given, we are impelled also to ask, what could have blinded those men so completely, that they were not led to suspect the truth of a doctrine, which they not only differed widely in explaining, but to explain, or rather to state which, they were obliged to resort to words and phrases for which the Scriptures furnish no authority or justification? Where do they find in the whole Bible any thing like this confusion of sounds, and these undistinguishable distinctions? The sacred pages give them no example. Why then do they palm their own base coinage on the world, for the pure gold of the Gospel?
And finally we would observe, that when any of our brethren are solicited to adopt the trinity into their creed, it will always be fair to ask in return, which trinity? They are so numerous and so various, that it will be necessary to point out in the first place, the particular one intended; and then it will be time enough to examine its merits and its foundations.