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that it makes three Gods, let Christians mark well the charge, and remember that it is a misrepresentation highly injurious to the Trinitarian scheme. For neither do the advocates of the doctrine believe, nor does the doctrine itself indicate, that there are, in heaven or in earth, more Gods than one.
The other part of the misrepresentation is, that the doctrine of the Trinity contains a palpable contradiction or absurdity, by as serting that three are one. It is conceded, that any doctrine, which contains a real contradiction, is contrary to the dictates of sound reason, and ought to be exploded. A proposition, which involves an absurdity, cannot possibly be true. If the doc trine of the Trinity implied, that Jehovah is three in the same respect in which he is one; in other words, if the doctrine implied, that three persons are one person, or three Deities one Deity, it would be a plain contradiction, and must be instantly rejected. But the doctrine involves no contradiction, because it does not assert that God is three and one in the same sense. Trinity is ascribed to God as to personali ty, and unity as to divine essence. Now surely there is no contradiction in saying, that a Being, who is three in one respect, is one in another. But we pretend not to give any adequate description of the difference between divine personality and divine essence. We acknowledge our incapacity to understand, or by any terms whatever to express, the precise manner, in which the Trinity subsists in perfect divine unity. Our faith rests on the authority of God, who cannot lie. He knows
his own perfections, & has deigned in mercy to give us needed instruction. In his word we find that distinct personal agency and all divine perfections are ascribed to the FATHER, and to the Son, and to the HOLY SPIRIT, and thus we are taught, that the one living and true God is, in a mysterious manner, triune, or exists in a Trinity. Like all other truths respecting God, it is incomprehensible, and like many others it is wholly inexplicable; but who can say, that it involves an absurdity?
Beware then, Christian churches, of all attempts to expose, depreciate, or obliterate from your creed, this sacred tenet of Christianity. It is the basis of revealed religion. Your dependence, your affections, and your worship must be indissolubly connected with your sentiments on this fundamental point. When they, who arrogate to themselves the name of Unitarians, use their genius and science to undermine this truth, be assured their science is "falsely so called," and their genius is kindled by an unhallowed fire. Your attentive minds will easily observe, how earnestly they wish to diminish your reverence for the holy Scriptures, and how decidedly they prefer an appeal to the oracles of human reason, before an appeal to the oracles of God. The argument which they most violently urge against the Trinity, appears, on careful inquiry, to be a manifest misrepresentation. Yet to this misrepresentation is to be chiefly ascribed the influence which they have gained in the world. Take heed, then, lest any man deceive you. Be alarmed at the presumption of
those who practically affirm, that the human understanding is more competent to determine on the mysteries of the divine nature, than the infinite wisdom of God. Consider how dangerous to the souls of men is the prevalence of those principles, which cover unyielding pride of heart and consequent alienation from genuine scriptural divinity, and which evidently lead on to avowed apostasy from all religion. It is with grief I make the additional observation, that Socinians have been much aided and supported in their practice of misrepresentation, by the false theories which some professed Trinitarians have adopted, and by the various hypotheses which have been devised, and the vain attempts, which have for many ages been made, to explain the mode of the divine existence.
But this species of misrepresentation is not the only instrument, which Unitarians employ against the doctrine of the Trinity. We cannot, without solemn reprehension, notice their manner of explaining and applying holy writ. One grand misapplication with which we charge them is, that they collect together those scriptures, which speak of an inferiority of the Son to the Father, and urge them as direct arguments against Trinitarians. This, we contend, is neither just nor pertinent, unless Trinitarians hold, that the character of a divine person is the only character which Christ sustains. But this is not their creed. They ap prehend that the Son of God, in his original divine character, was not qualified for the work of a Redeemer, and therefore that the character which was suited to
that work, was an assumed character. This, they believe, agrees with the Christian scriptures, which explicitly teach, that he who was rich became poor; that he who was in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God, made himself of no reputation, and was found in fashion as a man; that he who was Lord of all, became a servant; in short, that the eternal Son of God, for the purpose of redemption, united human nature to his divine nature, and so, in an incomprehensible manner, became God and man in one person. Thus he was qualified to sustain every office which must belong to a Redeemer. In his assumed character he became an atoning priest, a prophet, a servant, a mediator. In all the offices which he executes in the work of redemption, he is subordinate to the Father, and in his human nature entirely dependent.
Hence the propriety of those scriptures, which represent him as sent by the Father, as praying to him and assisted by him, as performing the actions of a man, obeying, suffering, &c. And considering that his work on earth required him to appear and act wholly in his assumed character, it is easily accounted for, that his humanity and his official inferiority are so often presented to view. But although the New Testament so frequently exhibits Christ in his official and subordinate character, it does not conceal his high original, but declares, in the plainest and most emphatical language, his eternal power and Godhead. Now if the scriptures never spoke of Christ, except in his human or official character, or if it were
impossible for a person truly divine to assume and sustain a character of inferior dignity; or, to use different words, if it were absolutely necessary, that the character of Christ the Saviour should consist either of mere Deity or of mere humanity; then it would be sound reasoning to urge those scriptures, which speak of Christ's inferiority to the Father, as arguments against his equality, and those which speak of his humanity, as arguments against his divinity. But the fact is, Christ sustains characters and offices exceedingly various, and so a foundation is laid for the variety of manner, in which the scriptures speak of him with reference to those offices. At one time he is represented as the creator and upholder of all things in heaven and earth; at another time, as a feeble infant. At one time he is described as the supreme king; at another, as the servant of worms. At one time he is represented, as immortal, having life in himself; at another time, he expires on the cross, and is laid in a sepulchre. Such various and widely distant characteristics belong to the same person;-a person, however, executing different offices, and uniting different natures. These things are taught in the word of God. It is the part of faith to receive them. And there is no more propriety in arguing from the official inferiority of the Son against his equality, than there would be in arguing from original equality against his inferiority. It would appear as correct reasoning, to argue from those passages which assert, that Christ is God, against the doctrine of
his manhood, as it is to argue from passages asserting his manhood, against the doctrine of his Deity. Both these methods of reasoning are antiscriptural, and totally inconclusive.
Keeping these observations in mind, let us attend to a few of the particular passages which Socinians urge against the Trinity.
In Deut. xviii. 18. is the following prediction of Christ. "I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I command him." "Here," says a learned Unitarian," is nothing like a second person in the Trinity, a person equal to the Father, but a mere prophet, delivering in the name of God whatever he is ordered so to do."
Reply. If Trinitarians denied, that Christ sustains any character but that of a divine person, this reasoning would be valid. But as they do not, where is its force? "Much in the same manner might those, who never saw David till he was ascending Mount Olivet, weeping, with his head uncovered, and barefoot, say, here is nothing like the king of Israel. Jesus says to his disciples, Lo, I am among you as one that serveth. With equal propriety might it be argued from these words, that he could be in no respect superior to his disciples, because here is nothing like superiority! The words of God by Moses will equally prove that Christ is not a priest or a king, as that he is not a divine person, because he is not here mentioned under any of these characters."
The prophets predict, and the evangelists narrate the Messiah's
sufferings and death. These, it is said, are characters, not of God, but of a man.
Reply. Sufferings and death undoubtedly belong to Christ, as man. It was in his human nature only, that he was capable of them. But we cannot thence infer that he is not God, unless it appear that sufferings and death were the sublimest traits in his character. According to the reasoning now under consideration, we might infer from those scriptures which declare Christ to be the Creator of the world, that he is nothing but Creator.
Many scriptures represent Christ as praying to the Father, which is inconsistent with his being God.
Reply. This objection proves nothing against the Trinity, if it be possible, that a divine person should voluntarily assume human nature, and in that nature be the subject of those graces and perform those duties which belong to man. Is Christ's praying a certain proof that he is not God? Why is not his being the object of prayer to his disciples an equal proof that he is not man?
John v. 20. I can of my own self do nothing. Mark xiii. 32. Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father. John vi. 57. As the Father hath sent me, and I live by the Father; so he that eateth me, even he shall live by me. Here Christ disclaims underived power, omniscience, and self-exist
Reply. All this is true of Christ, in that. nature which he assumed, and that character which he sustained as Mediator.
In these scriptures he speaks of himself as the Son of man. But his being the Son of man was the consequence of his humiliation. He took upon him the form of a servant, and in his whole mediatorial work on earth, he was a servant, and acted as a servant. With reference to his divine nature, he makes very different declarations.
Churches of Christ, these remarks are made to fortify you against the seductive influence of those, who deny the sacred Trinity. Let me state it as a maxim to be constantly kept in remembrance, that we are not to deter mine the character of Christ from a few detached passages, but from the tenor of scripture, or from a connected view of all those passages which relate to him. Unitarians have written in their books, and will repeat to you with an air of infallible wisdom, that Christ cannot be God, because he is called the Son of man; because he said, I can do nothing of myself; because he was sent by the Father, acknowledged that his Father was greater than he, &c. You will not fail to consider it an essential gospel truth, that Christ, in the work of redemption, is subordi nate to the Father; that, in the official character which he sustains, as High Priest, Mediator, &c. he is dependent on the Father, prays to him, serves him, suffers, and dies. But let it never be ungratefully forgotten, that all this is the effect of his voluntary humiliation. Had he not consented in love to sinners, to be made in the likeness of men, to assume the form of a servant, to become poor, to be a despised, suffering, dying
man; had he not consented to all this in order to redeem transgressors, he never would have appeared in any lower character, than that which is ascribed to him by John; In the begin ning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the WORD WAS GOD; and by Paul; All things were made by him and for him. From the low abasement, to which the Son of God mercifully condescended, will you take occasion to deny the exalted dignity and the uncreated glory, which belongs to his original character, and which are not altered, though in a measure concealed, by the humble form of a servant. We allow that he was a man, a servant, a sufferer. But we allow it to the eternal praise of his love and condescension, not to the rejection of his Godhead. Let not the evidence of Christ's human nature and his abasement turn to his reproach; but always lead you to contemplate, with holy admiration, his eternal Majesty, and the infinite descent of that Majesty in compassion to sinners. The lowliness of his human character sets off the glory of his divinity; while the infinite height of his divine character sets off the glory of his humility. Such, brethren, are the dictates of rea son sanctified by the gospel. But what shall we say of that reason, which deduces from the condescension and voluntary abasement of the merciful Saviour, an argument against that divine excellence and sublimity of character, without which his condescension would have no merit? Such reason, however admired by man, is foolishness with God. How celebrated so
ever the literary fame of some, who deny the sacred Trinity; be not captivated by the fame of their learning. That very literary greatness, which tempts you to implicit confidence in their opinions, carries them furthest from the simplicity of the gospel, and renders even a just respect for their talents dangerous. Beloved brethren, think often of that day, when the honourable distinctions of genius and erudition will be no longer recognised; when the last great assembly will see, that they, who reject the Son, reject the Father also; when that presumption of pride, which disbelieves what is mysterious, and revolts from what is humiliating, will be cov ered with infamy; and when unfading crowns of glory will adorn all those, who, distrusting their own understanding, are taught by grace to confide in the wisdom and obey the commands of the INCOMPREHENSIBLE GOD.
THOUGHTS ON MATT. XXIII. 35.
That upon you may come all the righteous blood shed upon the earth, from the blood of righteous Abel, unto the blood of Zacharias, son of Barachias, whom ye slew between the temple and the altar.
THE passage presents two difficulties; the first of which is to ascertain the person here mentioned under the name of Zacharias.
Of the various opinions, which expositors convey on this subject, the following seems most probable; viz. that the person here mentioned is that Zacharias, whom the Jews slew by com