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If this is true, we may as well resort to the Athenian altar, for truly we worship an 66 UNKNOWN GOD!"
2. But, we say again, that unitarianism is the unembarrassed doctrine of the scriptures. We find no difficulty in believing that the Father is the Supreme and only God, and that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But the moment we take up the trinitarian hypothesis, we are perplexed and troubled on every side. We are not only perplexed by the general strain of the scriptures, but we are confounded by the very passages that are brought to support it. If we could find one text that plainly told us that God exists in three persons, that would relieve us. But the text in John, concerning "the three that bare record in heaven," the only one that has any pretension to be of this character, is now set aside by the consent of the learned of all parties as an interpolation; that is, a passage introduced by the fraud or negligence of transcribers, in some former age, when copies of the Bible were multiplied only by writing. It is remarkable, we may add in passing, that two other passages commonly brought to support the trinity, and two of the most important, are very generally, by the learned, admitted to have suffered injury from the same cause, viz; 1 Tim. iii, 16, "God was manifest," which should be read, "he who was manifest in the flesh was justified," &c. and Acts, xx, 28, "to feed the church of God, which he purchased with his own blood,” which should be read-“to feed the church of the Lord," &c. On these points, it is true, that common Christians cannot judge for themselves, but when many learned Trinitarians concur in giving up these passages, there is certainly a strong pre
sumption against them. And then, as to the few remaining proof texts, if we held the trinity, they would certainly embarrass more than they would satisfy us. For suppose that in the beginning of John's gospel, the "Word" spoken of, was Jesus Christ, and not as we believe, a mere divine attribute, the wisdom or power of God, which is afterwards said to have been "made flesh;" that is, manifested in the person of Jesus; suppose, which we do not admit, that in the first five verses of John, our Saviour is personally represented by the Logos, how strange and perplexing would the language be! In the beginning there was a being, and this being was with God, and this being was God. How is it possible that a being who was with God could be God himself? Refer now to the passage in the 1st of Hebrews, " Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," yet immediately after, it is said, "therefore God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." If Jesus is God, yet here is another God, represented as superior to him, as his God, as anointing him, and placing him above his fellows or associates! Can a being inferior, subject, anointed by God, and having equals and associates, possibly be regarded as the Supreme God? Look, again, at the text, Rom. ix, 5; of whom, as concerning the flesh, that is, by lineage, "Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever." That is to say, Christ was of Jewish descent; and what follows? Is it credible that Paul meant to say, that a being who was of Jewish descent, was the supreme God? that a long line of Jewish genealogy was terminated by the Almighty Author and Sovereign of the Universe? Could he bring these ideas into
the same sentence, could he utter them in the same breath, without experiencing the most overwhelming horror, and awakening in others, not only the utmost -horror, but the most absolute incredulity? We believe, indeed, that the passage is susceptible of another translation ;* and to some other translation we are urged, or else to the entire suspension of our judgment, by the monstrous incongruities and contradictions of the popular explanation. On the whole, we think, it has been justly said, that the doctrine of the trinity is overthrown by the very texts that are brought to support it. Instead of being promoted, it is inextricably embarrassed, by the very arguments that are used to set it forth.
3. We find another general reason for embracing the contrary doctrine-the doctrine of the simple unity of God, of the supremacy of the Father, and the inferiority of Jesus, in the fact, that it is the current doctrine of scripture.
Reference has been made in an earlier part of this essay, to the period of time previous to the advent of our Saviour, in order to free the subject from the obscurity that is thrown over it by the doctrine of the incarnation.
* Of whom by lineage Christ came; God, who is over all,-or He, who is over all God,-i. e. He who is the Supreme God, be blessed for ever. The natural construction of the Greek of this passage, if it does not require, at least does not forbid the rendering here given. It is a very strong circumstance that the early Fathers of the Church never applied this language to our Saviour; nay, some of them expressly forbade such an application, considering the title "God over all," or the Supreme God, as appropriate to the Father alone. Have we more accurate copies of the scriptures in these days, or do we understand Greek better?
But, in reality, there is the same argument against the trinity in every thing which we are taught concerning Jesus Christ during his abode on earth. A plain and unprejudiced reader of the New Testament, we are persuaded, would never think of his being God. The Jews did not, except in pretence; and the ground of that pretence was not allowed, but altogether denied and refuted by our Saviour. (See the 10th chapter of John.) We are persuaded, moreover, that the disciples never thought of him as God. For it is incredible that there could have been that free play of their thoughts and passions, which is indicated in the evangelical narrative, that they could have indulged in familiar conversation, in petty disputes, in their questionings and doubts, and the contentions of worldly ambition, if they had felt themselves to be in the personal and visible presence of the infinite God.
Nor, surely, is this at all surprising, but perfectly natural. Jesus constantly spoke of himself as inferior to God; constantly averred, that he received all his power, authority, and doctrine from God. He testified his dependence on the Father by habitual prayer, expressly. acknowledged that he could do nothing of himself, and on one occasion, solemnly referring to a future and momentous event, declared, that "of that day and hour he knew nothing," that it was inscrutably hidden in the counsels of God alone. Now, besides the simple and clear inference from all this, there is a dilemma for the trinitarian, from which nothing can extricate him, but an impeachment of the veracity of Jesus. Either our Saviour did know of the event in question, either he did possess power and authority to do all things of himself,
or he did not. If he did not he was not God. If he did possess the knowledge or power in question, he acted the part of a deceiver. Surely, no christian will hesitate which of these to believe.
On this head of the prevailing sense of scripture, we will only add a passage from a work lately published in England, and addressed to Bishop Burgess.
"And now, my lord, in all cases in which any book may be considered as having passages not distinctly intelligible, or some seemingly opposed to others, is it not to the general sense we are to look? In such cases, can human wisdom devise a more equitable or judicious proceeding, to come at the true import, than a candid reference to the general tenor? Grant but this fair and necessary reasoning, and it goes at once to a decision of the question; for there is such an overwhelming mass of testimony in our favour, as must surprise even those who read their Bible, but have never seen the passages collected together and presented in one view, many of them in terms as clear and explicit as language can furnish, and some apparently so strongly pointed against a plurality of persons, each truly God, that had they been given expressly to counteract such a doctrine, they could scarcely have been given in words more satisfactory.
"I will offer here a summary of these texts, taken from that intelligent work, Grundy's Lectures. In the work itself they may all be seen at full length.
"Those passages in the New Testament in which the FATHER is styled ONE, or ONLY GOD are in number 17.
"Those passages where he is styled GoD, absolutely, by way of eminence and supremacy, are in number 320.