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nying Christ,” “ denying the Lord that bought them,” “of Antichrist," and "denying the Father and the Son."
. In the second and third centuries, when the common doetrine of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost was taught in the Church generally, Praxeas and Sabellius wrote against it, on the ground, as they alleged, that it destroyed the divine unity. They maintained the sole supremacy of the Father, and that the terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were only modes or forms of the manifestation of God to his creatures. Against this sentiment were arrayed all the distinguished fathers of the Church, Justin the Martyr, Theophilus of Antioch, Athenag. oras, Ireneus, Clemens Alexandrinus, Origen, Cyprian and Novitian. Though these fathers differed somewhat in their philsosophical speculations, and improperly attempted to define The distinctions in the divine nature, yet they all agreed in rejecting the errors of Praxeas and Sabellius. Their errors were also publicly condemned in a council, held at Antioch, about the year A. D. 264.
Next, in the fourth century, arose the celebrated Arius, who taught that the Son was totally and essentially distinct from the Father; the first and noblest of all those beings whom the Father had created out of nothing, and the instrument by whom the world was made: that the Holy Spirit was of a different nature from the Father and the Son, and created by the Son. This doctrine gained many adlıerents, and produced great excitement, as being a departure from the faith. In the year A. D. 325, Constantine, Emperor of Rome, called a council
, consisting of 380 bishops, or presbyters, to discuss and settle the disputed doctrine. They met at Nice, and the doctrine of Arius was condemned as heresy, and he himself was condemned and banished as an heretic. Athanasius, the leading opponent of Arius, drew up a creed of the Catholic or Orthodox faith, in which he says, “The Catholic faith is this : That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity. For there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal—the majesty co-eternal."
From the fourth to the sixteenth century,* but few writers or bishops dissented from the Athanasian or Nicene creed: but when the Reformation was in full progress, Faustus Socinus of Poland, advanced the doctrine that Christ was a mere man,
The semi-Arians held that the Son was of like substance with the Father, and begotten, not crealed.
endowed with extraordinary gifts, and constituted the Governor of the world; and that the Holy Ghost was a mere attribute or operation of God. The followers of Socinus were known by the name of Socinians, or more generally Unitarians, because they held to the divine Unity in opposition to Trinity. But this doctrine was rejected, both by Protestants and Catholics. Not long after, Servetus revived the old doctrine of Sabellius, that there are no distinctions in the divine nature, but that the terms, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are modes or forms in which God manifests himself : he was condemned by the magistrates of Geneva, and executed on the charge of heresy, and violating the peace of the state. Since then, others in England, Germany, and the United States, have advanced theories differing from the ancient faith ; but it is a pleasing fact, that at this time, the doctrine of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—is the prevailing doctrine of the Christian world--the faith of every Christian denomination that has any written and established creed! The very faith drawn from the living pages of inspiration, in which holy men have lived, and martyrs died in triumph—the faith that wrought so mightily in such men as Edwards, Doddridge, Baxter, Luther, Augustine, Chrysostom, Tertullian, Iræneus, and the venerable Polycarp. If we are mistaken in our belief, we have at least the consolation of knowing, that it is a common error of the Church on earth, and that in which those best entitled to the name of saints, have believed and died, during eighteen centuries !
2. Another consideration that may strengthen your confidence in this doctrine is—that while the belief of it as a revealed fact makes the Bible appear plain and consistent with itself, every departure from it involves us in doubt, and sets the mind afloat on the ocean of conjecture. We know it has been common to represent the doctrine of the Trinity, as very mysterious, wonderful, incomprehensible ; and, on the other hand, that of one God the Father only, as simple and clearly understood. But to us, on supposition that the Bible is our standard, directly the contrary is true. We admit
, that closing the Bible, and looking solely at the works of creation, the idea of a Supreme Being, without the distinctions of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is simple. But you are not a deist. You do not take your religion from nature, but from the Scriptures. Open then that volume. You read, “I am the Lord, that is my name, and my glory will I not give to another."-But a little farther on, you read, “ Christ, who is over all, God blessed forever”—Creator, Upholder of all things, to be worshipped
by all on earth and all in heaven a little farther you read of the Holy Ghost—the Spirit of truth searching all things-dividing as a sovereign bis gifts-united with the Father and the Son as an object of worship, into whose name we must be baptized, and from whom we invoke and receive spiritual blessings. Now, which is the more plain and easy to be understood -to say that the one Jehovah is revealed as to his mode of existence, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; or to deny it, and then define what the Son and Holy Ghost means? Is it easier and plainer to deny ? Come, then, tell us what you mean by Christ and the Holy Spirit. Do you hold with the Ebeonites, that Christ was a mere man, just like one of us ? or with the Gnostics, that he was a divine emanation, a ray from the Father? or with the Arians, that he was the first of all creatures, and then made the Creator of the world? or with Sabellius, that he was a mode of God's operation, an energy put forth in this particular form? or do you hold with the semi-Arians, that he was of like substance with the Father, begotten, not created ? or with Socinus, as man, and nothing more in nature, but deified that is, made a God, like a heathen hero, and appointed to rule and judge the world? We ask, What do you believe ? Can you defend what you believe? Are you willing to say what you believe? What, we would ask, do you call the Holy Spirit ? an energy, an attribute, an emanation, a miraculous power, or what? If any of these, is it a proper subject to be baptized into--to be united with the great Father of all in prayer---to be distinguished over and over again from that God, of whom he is an attribute, influence, or power ?
Here, then, we have on the page of history, the glaring fact, that all who have departed from what we call the simple doctrine of one God, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, have ever and always been at variance in their belief-while all who hold the doctrine of the Trinity, have uniformly agreed or differed only in philosophical explanations of it. This fact we throw into the scale against the thousand objections about mystery in the Trinity. We say, admitting the Bible to be the standard, the mystery all lies on the other side. It is a mystery that the Bible reads so, that almost all the Christian world, through eighteen hundred years, should believe the doctrine, if it is not
It is a mystery, that the very design for which the Bible was given, viz. to promote the worship of the only true God, should, if this doctrine is not true, lead to almost universal idolatry. It is a mystery, that if this doctrine is not true, no man can tell what is—for from the Ebeonites to Faustus So
cinus, and ever since, there has been no agreement among those who have denied it.
If any of you falter in this doctrine ; if you are tempted to deny it and embrace some other, let us request you first to decide, what you will believe, and why you will believe it. You will find a scale of faith respecting Jesus Christ, extending from earth to high heaven. At the bottom of the scale you will find him marked as a mere man, like one of us, liable to err and to sin ; and at the top, you will find him marked next in rank to the great Supreme, though created and dependent. Determine where you will place him; and, after having placed him there, then take the Scriptures, and read every passage relating to him; and we predict that, before you shall have read your New Testament half through, you will sincerely doubt whether you have placed your Lord on the right spot. As to tlie Holy Spirit, make out, if you can, what you are to believe, before you renounce his distinct personality and true divinity. We pray you take not a leap in the dark !
Do you ask, how it comes to pass that so many are in diffi. culty on this doctrine, if it is indeed plain? We will tell you. It is because, they undertake to know and explain what God has not revealed. He has revealed the fact that divine attributes, works and worship belong to the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost-and this as a fact, is as plain and easy to be understood, as that God made the world. Not content with this, you ask how the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are united, so as to constitute the one Jehovah? what is the exact distinction between them? This the Bible does not say one word about. Yet you allow your mind to work itself into difficulty on the subject, and your difficulties are the necessary resultthe punishment of your presumption. Suppose you were to try to explain how God is self-existent and eternal--how he created the world out of nothing---or how your soul and body are united ? You would find quite as many difficulties on either of these points, as you ever did on the subject of the Trinity.
3. A third consideration which should evdear the doctrine to you, is its important connexions and practical influence. It gives us some knowledge of the Supreme Being, which we could never have learnt from the light of nature. Suppose a new system of worlds were laid open to your view, in which the Deity should make a more full and sublime manifestation of himself, than he has done in the world which we inhabit ? Would you shut your eyes and refuse to learn more? Rather would you not thankfully receive and treasure up the additional koowledge, and derive from it a new impulse to obedience, and VOL. VI.-NO. XII.
a fresh influx of joy? In the Scriptures, God has laid open a
Again-this doctrine is interwoven with all the peculiar doctrines of the Christian system; so that the rejection of it is naturally, we may say, inevitably, followed by the denial of all the rest. For instance, the doctrine of atonement for sin, by the sacrifice which Jesus Christ offered, once for all. Deny the proper divinity of Jesus Christ, and you destroy the efficacy of his atonement. You disrebe him of all the qualities essential to such a work. You reduce the atonement for sin, which the Scriptures ascribe to him, to nothing but an example of suffering virtue, or a worthy instance of martyrdom. It is not possible in the nature of things, unless he was more than a created dependent being, for bim to make satisfaction for our sins, any more than Paul, or Stephen, or Peter could. Deny his divinity, and who is your Saviour ? A dependent creature, to whom you can assign no definite rank in the universe! Oh, how can you commit to such an one that precious soul, and enter eternity! Do you say, God is my Saviour-but out of