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epithets ascribed to our Saviour, a Being so dignified in himself, so perfect in his character, so great in his office, and now so highly exalted by his God. But what account can be given of passages, which contain the most express and formal contradiction of the equality of Jesus with God ? Or, if this for any inconceivable reason was necessary, at least should we not expect, that the manner in which the contradiction was to be reconciled would be explained or hinted at ? If we were reasoning on any other subject, we should say, that one such passage as this, "My Father is greater than I," introduced with nothing to explain or limit it, would set aside a thousand mere inferences of ours in favor of a doctrine, which contradicts this truth. They who can believe, that, although it was the express design of St John in his Gospel to supply the deficiencies of the other Evangelists with regard to the Trinity,* he would yet set down without a word of caution or comment such passages as these, “I came from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me ; My doctrine is not mine, but his that sent me;
" - The Father, which sent me, gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak; “The Father, that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works;
"" FOR THE FATHER IS GREATER THAN I;” " And this is life eternal, that they might know thee, THE ONLY TRUE God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent ”--they, I say, who can be lieve, that these and other similar passages would be set down by a Trinitarian, in the act of proving his doctrine, with no word connected with them to restrain their natu
* This idea has been maintained by Trinitarians, notwithstanding the Evangelist expressly tells us : “ These things are written that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the son of the living God, and that believing ye might have life through his name.”
ral import, ought at least to be more sparing of their charges on others of want of reverence for the scriptures.
These expectations with regard to the kind and degree of evidence which we might have expected to find in the New Testament for the doctrine of the Trinity, are not only intrinsically reasonable, but conform to the analogy of the scriptures themselves. The doctrine of immortal life is in some respects under similar circumstances with that of the Trinity. Neither of them is expressly taught in the Old Testament; though it is thought that there are allusions to both. Moses, however, as he never taught the Hebrews, that there are more objects of worship than one, so he never employed a future life as the sanction of
of his laws. So far there is an agreement in the circumstances of the two doctrines. In all other respects, that of the trinity is by far the stronger case, and would seem to require a much fuller and clearer revelation. The doctrine of immortality is one, which, if not demonstrable from the light of nature alone, certainly has many most powerful arguments in its favor. Bishop Butler has finely shown, that there is nothing in the fact or circumstances of death, which furnishes any presumption against its truth. We know it also as a historical fact, that it was the belief of the great body of the Jewish nation at the time of our Saviour's advent. The Pharisees who embraced it were the ruling party. All these are circumstances which would seem to diminish the necessity of a very full, formal, and frequent recognition of the doctrine in the New Testament.
But how stands the fact? This doctrine, which is really a fundamental, is treated as such throughout the New Testament. It shines everywhere in heaven's own light. It fell constantly from the lips of our Lord. It is asserted and reiterated by every one of his apostles. It is interwoven into the whole texture of Christianity. If then such plenary proof is afforded to a doctrine, which reason, instinct, the tradition of the earliest antiquity, and every good feeling of the human heart, all dispose us to embrace, what evidence may we not justly expect for such a doctrine as the Trinity? The previous presumption is all against this opinion, as much as it is in favor of the doctrine of immortality. Up to this very day, its advocates have been unable fully and fairly to state it in any language, in which terms have a known and definite meaning, without involving an assertion of three Gods, or else an express and manifest contradiction. We have a right to expect, therefore, that this difficulty will be removed in the scripture, and that all we are to believe on this subject will there be expressed in plain and intelligible language. It is from this source alone, we are to remember, that we are to gather all our ideas on this subject. This high and awful mystery lies wholly within the province of revelation. How strong and clear, then, will be the light which will be shed on it in the sacred volume, if it be indeed a truth, and especially a fundamental truth of Christianity! How much stronger and clearer than that which is thrown on the doctrine of immortal life!
I have thus attempted to state some preliminary considerations, which ought to be kept in view by every one who is about to examine the New Testament on the subject of the Trinity. It is believed to be utterly impossible, that a man of a sound mind, who carries with him to the scriptures just views of the evidence which this doctrine demands, or may be expected to possess, can receive it as a part of the gospel, especially as a truth essential to salvation.
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