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believer. This idea is one of those analogies by which the sacred writers set forth the distinction which exists between the three.
Now since the sacred writers have, in every case, taught us how to view this subject by analogy, we have no proper and precise ideas of it. We have no criterion to which to bring any one of these similitudes but by comparing one with another. To oppose one to another of them, (the common practice,) is not the way to receive instruction; because they all stand upon the same authority, and nothing but partiality to one's own opinion can assign a reason why this rather than that shall be relinquished. The only plan that can be vindicated is to assign to each of them its proper department, to compare them together for the correction of each other, and to adopt a system which comprehends them all.
In attempting to lay down such a plan, it must be ob. served that of the five analogies which have been examined, every one gives us some idea of the doctrine of the trinity ; but one part of that doctrine is more perfectly taught by one of them, and another part by another.
1. Some of them more perfectly elucidate the unity of the three. That unity would never be inferred from the analogy of Father, Son, and Comforter. The idea which we have of three persons, is that of three distinct beings. But matter, form, and motion include only one being. The ideas of fire, light, and vital influence, imply no more than
2. Some of them show, much better than the rest, that the distinction is essential, necessary, and eternal. Mat. ter may possibly be without motion; but light and heat are essential to the sun, which cannot be supposed for a mo. ment to exist as the sun without them; and energy
is inseparable from a living, spiritual, and perfect being. There is not a perfect agreement between human paternity and filiation, and the doctrine of God and his eternal Word. The generation of Him “whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting,” Micah v, 2, is not, like human generation, a process which has a beginning. It is not the generation of an infant, which must be nourished that it may grow up to manhood ; but of one who is “the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever.” It is not the
generation of one being by another being ; for “the Word was God.” It is not the generation of one who may again be annihilated; for “ the Son abideth for ever.” In all these points the analogy is lost. But here the Scriptures afford us another source of ideas : an analogy which takes up the subject where the preceding seems only to contradict what the Scriptures have clearly revealed. When the ideas of a Father and his Son no longer serve, the ideas of a Being, and his image conceived by himself, are to be substituted. Here then we have a new order of ideas. We lay aside the relation of paternity and filiation, and consider God as an eternal, ever perfect Mind, always capable of knowing himself; always actually knowing himself; always conceiving an image of himself ; to whom it is never possible that he should be without an image of himself, conceived by himself; whose image of himself, so conceived, must be always perfect as himself, because he always perfectly knows himself and contemplates himself with a capacity to comprehend all his own perfection ; who, because he is perfect, must perfectly conceive his own image; whose image can never vanish, because he cannot forget himself, and because he must love that image which, like himself, is perfect; and lastly, who can, by that image of himself, which he has conceived, discover himself to any intelligent being, in proportion to the capa. city of the recipient. It is equally obvious that an all. perfect and eternal Mind can never have existed without its hoyos reason or discourse, and the wisdom by which that reason is sustained. These comparisons illustrate the essential necessity of the distinctions of the trinity.
3. The nature of the distinction, under the Christian economy, is best illustrated by the personal distinction of Father, Son, and Comforter. In prosecuting the allusion to human paternity and filiation, the sacred writers have taken a scope that could not have been allowed by any other of those comparisons which, on other occasions, they have so much improved. As a son is begotten of his father, the Son of God is called " the only-begotten Son,” John iii, 16, &c. As a father conveys to his son perfect humanity, “it pleased the Father that in him (his dear Son) should all fulness dwell;" even “all the fulness of the godhead,” Col. i, 19; ii, 9. As a son has all the
members, senses, and faculties, which his father has, “ All that the Father hath (said the Son) is mine,” John xvi, 15. Even Mr. G. ascribes to him the “divine perfections." (Vol. i, p: 200.) As a father loveth his son, so the Father says, “ This is my beloved Son, in whom I delight,” Matt. xvii, 5. As a father intrusts his affairs with his confiden. tial son, and makes him the heir of his property, so “the Father loveth the Son,--hath given all things into his hand,” John iii, 35 ; " and hath appointed him heir of all things,” Heb. i, 2. And lastly, As a son obeys, serves, and honours his father, so the Son of God obeys, serves, and honours the Father. How little of this could with propriety be said under any other of those heads of distinction by which the sacred writers have on other occasions illus. trated the subject. In like manner, no other than the personal distinction could have warranted the Holy Spirit's being spoken of as "searching all things, even the deep things of God,” as “knowing the things of God,” as “ hearing what he should speak," as “taking of the things of the Son, and showing them to us," as instructing, wit. nessing, admonishing, reproving, comforting, willing, call. ing men to the ministry, commanding, and interceding. And farther : we could not speak with apparent propriety, of the form praying the essence to send the motion : of a vital influence showing to mankind the things of the light which is returned to the sun: of an image which is resorbed by its original, and an energy which is come to supply its place: or of a word, which knows, and loves, and obeys the mind from which it proceeds, which is re. turned to the bosom from whence it came, and which has left its breath behind to execute its commands, and to com. fort mankind during its absence. These scriptural dis. tinctions, it is evident, are, in such cases, of no use; and to apply them to such doctrines of Scripture, would only be to give to truth the colour of absurdity. The personal distinction is, in such cases, absolutely necessary. And this distinction, the most perfect we have found, applied, as the sacred writers have applied it, makes all these truths plain, natural, and easy.
On the whole, we have learned, 1. That the trinitarian distinction is revealed, and consequently can be known only by analogy; and therefore, as being revealed only by
imperfect shadows, is still a mystery. 2. That,without comprehending the exact truth, we cannot judge of the analogy between that truth and any other mean of eluci. dation; and therefore it is presumptuous to attempt to explain that distinction in any other way than that in which it is explained by divine reyelation. 3. That, since the divine Author of the Christian revelation best knows in what degree, and under what form, we are capable of re. ceiving the truth, and which of all possible views of that truth are likely to be most udvantageous to us, it becomes us to adopt such opinions, and to hold such language, as the Scriptures have suggested. Or, in the more appro. priate expressions of St. Paul, we should speak of the things of God, “not in words which man's wisdom teach. eth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth.” 4. That the Scriptures teach the doctrine of the trinity, not only when they make a personal distinction between the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, but also when they make a distinction which is not personal. 5. That our best conceptions of the subject are very imperfect, and therefore, unless we adopt all those modes of elucidations which are used by the sacred writers, we cannot, in the explanation of the Scriptures, avoid falling into many absurdities. 6. That none of those allusions, by which the Scriptures illustrate the trinity, should be pursued beyond the line of analogy. 7. That when we perceive ourselves to be led, by the abuse of scriptural terms, into any absurdity, or into any doctrine contrary to the plain letter of Scripture, we ought to remember that we have another order of scriptural ideas, which should serve as a clew to guide us out of the labyrinth. 8. That Christianity requires every one of its disciples, whether he embrace or reject the terms which are in common use, to maintain the doctrine of a trinity in unity; to place it on its proper basis, divine revelation; and to impute whatever of difficulty or appa. rent contradiction he meets, not to the unreasonableness of the doctrine, but to the imperfections of his own conceptions.
-Si quid novisti rectius istis,
Of the Origin of the Doctrine of the Trinity. SINCE the preceding pages were written, and some of them were already printed, Mr. G. has published his 9th, 10th, and 11th lectures, in which he has adopted the opi. nion that the doctrine of the trinity is the result of a gra.. dual corruption of the doctrine of the gospel. Having zealously endeavoured, through one whole volume of lec.. tures, to expunge from the Scriptures all the prominent evidence of what he denominates “ the principal doctrines of Christianity," on the supposition that he has perfectly succeeded, he proceeds to maintain this opinion by mul. tiplied references to the fathers of the primitive church.
If they who profess to maintain the doctrines which he has impugned, are prepared to surrender to him the well fortified citadel of Scripture, they must either grant to him the victory, or meet him to finish the contest in the ex. tensive fields of ecclesiastical history.
While the reader hesitates, and hopes to find some alter. native, Mr. G. peremptorily summons him to surrender. “Look, my trinitarian friend, at the ground on which you: stand at the year sixty-six. The apostles, you say,.entertained the same views of Christianity as yourself. Well ; for thirty-three years they travel into different parts of the world for the sole purpose of making converts to the Christian religion; the whole of that time is exclusively occupied in this important work; and multitudes actually become their disciples. An account of their transactions is given by one of their own body; but he totally omits to state that this doctrine of a trinity was one of the doctrines which they taught. Farther : in the course of these thirtythree years, the men thus employed publish twenty-two other works; yet, strange as it may appear, in none of these works is any one of these peculiar phrases to be found, trinity, trinity in unity, three persons in one God, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost." (Vol. ii, p. 8.)
.” If the reader be a genuine “ trinitarian friend," and have the heart of a Christian soldier, he will not be alarm. ed by the lofty tone which Mr. G. has assumed.' He will