Imatges de pÓgina
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be seen in several passages similar to the above, in the Writings of his modest and accomplished encomiast. What reason have we to think, that if we were standing on the same ground of natural Religion as Socrates, we should have more perfect knowledge of divine things, than Socrates ? Did the philosophers of Rome know more? Did our British ancestors, who were Druidical ; or our Anglo Saxon progenitors, who were Idolaters, know more ? Certainly not, so long as they were heathens. Their more pure wisdom came from Christianity : And from the same source comes our wisdom. But Christianity brought to them, delivers to us, and carries with it, wherever it goes, the doctrine of a Trinity.

LXXXIX. Supposing we reject Christianity, and adopt Judaism ; let us see what satisfaction concerning the point in question, we shall thence derive. We no sooner open the Sacred History, than we find a word implying Plurality introduced as the title of the Almighty. However we may labour to account for this, yet after all it is a very striking circumstance, that when the Sacred Writer might have used a word of singular import (as he does elsewhere) and thus have precluded all ambiguity, he nevertheless uses a word of plural import thirty times, at the beginning of his History and in its primary chapters, and thereby admits ambiguity. And knowing, as we do, that from this and other circumstances, it has been maintained by very learned and considerate men, that the Jews held a Plurality in the Godhead, we should be led to conclude, that at least the doctrine of Unity is far from having been unquestionably the doctrine of the Jews. The point has been disputed, and is still controverted. With respect therefore to deriving any certainty on this doctrine from Judaism, we should be disappointed. The matter is doubtful.

XC. He that should say, “ the doctrine of the Trinity has been disputed among Christians, and is therefore questionable," would say what is fact. But if he should urge this as a sufficient plea for rejecting the doctrine altogether, he would judge hastily, and conclude erroneously. For he should consider on which side of the question by far, very far the major part of Christians, from the Apostles to the Fathers, from the Fathers to us, through all ages of Christianity, have most decidedly determined. He should consider, that while only individuals, comparatively few, have occasionally denied the doctrine of a Trinity, whole nations in a continuance

a and in the most public manner have asserted that doctrine, through successive generations during the long course of Eighteen Centu. ries. On these considerations, as the weight of general and public judgment is evidently against him, he should see there are strong grounds for suspecting, that they, who deny the doctrine of a Trinity, merely because it has been controverted, may possibly be wrong, and are probably wrong, in their dissent from that doctrine.

XCI. To him that should say, “ the supporters of the Trinitarian doctrine were fallible men, and therefore might be mistaken ;" the reply would be," your remark is partly inaccurate, and partly correct. Inaccurate in the highest degree with respect to our Lord, whose doctrine it is, and, who in his divine wisdom was absolutely infallible ; inaccurate also according to the ideas of all Christians, with respect to the Apostles, whose inspiration, taken in the most limited sense, at least prevented them from being mistaken, when delivering fundamental Truths. With regard to other Writers, your remark is correct ; they certainly were fallible men, and as such might be mistaken. But upon the same principle, you also may be mistaken. And among the infinitude of Writers, whether long since dead or still living, who on principles conscientious, and with talents adequate, have interpreted Scripture Texts relating to this subject, the most able and the most numerous Exe positors will prove that you are mistaken ; but that the maintainers of a Trinity are right in their opinion ; on the grounds of Scripture, the grounds on which the question must ultimately stand.

XCII. For our religious principles, whilst they are confined to ourselves, we are responsible to God only. For the manner in which we openly declare our religious principles, and for the conduct we pursue under the influence of them, we are responsible to society also.

XCIII. As the forming of right opinions depends upon a com• bination of many circumstances, how far it may or may not be in our own power to form right opinions, admits of a question. But about the impropriety of injuring society by any mode of propagating our opinions, there should be no question. For, nothing can be more clear, than that man, living in society, is bound by moral and political obligations not to injure such society either by word or deed.

XCIV. Those, who hold the doctrine of a Trinity, however in. dividually they may give different explications of it, are nevertheless Trinitarians : as those, who protest against a particular Church, although unhappily among themselves they have separated from each other, by multifarious divisions, and discriminate each other by subtile distinctions implying even dimidiation, are nevertheless all Protestants. In the former case, disputes about exposition do not prove that therefore the doctrine of a Trinity does not exist in Scripture. In the latter case, dissensions about difficult and nice points do not prove that therefore the religion of Protestants is not to be found in Scripture.

XCV. To particular minds, particular passages of ancient Authors will frequently recur.

What if these sentiments were often recollected ?

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αναριθμητοι κρεμανται. “ around the minds of men hang innumerable errors.” (Pind. 01.7.) “ Seek not out the things that are too hard for thee ; neither search the things that are above thy strength. But what is commanded whee think thereupon with reverence : for it is not needful for thee Appen.

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to see with thine eyes the things that are in secret. Be not curious in unnecessary matters a for more things are shewed thee than men understand.” (Ecclesiasticus iii. 21, 22, 23.) The remembrance of these verities, founded on experience, how should it operate? It should teach Humility and Moderation.

XCVI. Be the subject what it may, in holding the same Doc. trine, taken in a general and enlarged sense, men may agree: in their sentiments about particular points and particular explanations of the principal Doctrine, they may nevertheless differ. And on this account neither side should censure the other. Till the minds of all men can in their talents and conceptions be entirely alike, the judgments of all men cannot be entirely alike. To expect it, were to expect an impossibility.

XCVII. So long as it preserves command of temper, decency of language, propriety of expression, adherence to sound argument either by reason or proof, candid allowance for difference of thinking, and above all, respect for Public Opinion on subjects of a serie ous and sacred nature, Partiality for one's own sentiments is venial. Venial therefore it will be in a Member of the Church of England, if he commends the Collect of his Church for Trinity Sunday, which precisely corresponds with his own views of the subject, as a very fine specimen of clearness and comprehension combined.

XCVIII. Considering the mutability of the human mind, and the several melancholy instances of well meaning persons, who un. der the debility of age have fallen from that rectitude of judgment, which they shewed in the vigour of life and in the full strength of their mental faculties, we cannot conclude our “ Thoughts” on the Triune Godhead more properly, than by offering with all humility that solemn prayer, in which we are well instructed thus to supplicate for divine aid, in wisdom spiritual and in concerns temporal :

“ Almighty and everlasting God! who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Ma. jesty to worship the Unity ; we beseech Thee, that Thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith ; and evermore defend us from all ad. versities; who livest and reignest One God, world without end. Amen."

REFERENCES.

No. XVI. “ Triad.") Cudworth's Intellectual System. Parker's Free and Impartial Censure of the Platonic Philosophy, p. 113. Maurico's Indian Antiquities, vol. IV. p. 426.

No. XXII. “ Thirty times.”] Allix's “ Judgment of the Jewish Church against the Unitarians," p. 116, ed. 1699. See also, p. 119.

No. XXII. “ Decalogue.”] “ That the plural word is used with the design of intimating a plurality in the Godhead, in some respect or other, it is strange that any one should doubt, who has observed, that it is used in places, in which if there be in truth no plurality in the Godhead, the inspired Writers must have been determined by the principles of their religion, studiously to avoid the use of a plural; especially as they had singulars at command. The plural is used in that very precept, which prohibits the worship of any God but one. “ I Jehovah am thy Gods, that brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.”-“Be not unto thee other Gods beside me;" and in every subsequent part of the Decalogue, where God is mentioned, the plural word is introduced. In the second commandment, “ For I Jehovah am thy Gops.” In the third, “ Take not the name of Jehovah thy Gops in vain.” In the fourth, “ The Sabbath of Jehovah thy Gods." In the fifth, “ The land which Jehovah thy Gods is giving thee.” See p. 20, Animadversions on Dr. Geddes's Critical Remarks on the Holy Scriptures, printed by Wilkes and Taylor, 1803.

No. XXII. “ repetition.”] “Hear, O Israel (saith Moses) Jehovah our God is one Jehovah." Deut. vi. 4, as translated by the late good and learned Dr. Randolph, p. 131, vol. II. “A View of our Blessed Saviour's Ministry.” The same passage is translated by Dr. Randolph thus also ; “ Jehovah our Gods is one Jehovah.” This, adds (Dr. R.) if he did not hereby design to denote a Plurality of Persons in the Godhead, should seem to be a strange form of expression. P. 7.“ Vindication of the Worship of the Son and of the Holy Ghost,” ed. 1775. “Let those, who have any doubt whether Elohim when meaning the true God, Jehovah, is plural or not, consult the following passages, where they will find it joined with Adjectives, Pronouns, and Verbs plural." P. 22. Ed. 1792. Hebrew and English Lexicon by Parkhurst, who refers to twenty-five texts, in the Old Testament, on this occasion. The same Expositor thus explains JEHOVAH—“the peculiar and incommu ble name of the Divine Essence (see Is. xliii. 8. Hos. xii. 4, 5.) subsisting in a Plurality, i. e. Trinity of Persons." See Deut. vi. 4. xxviii. 58. Lexieon, p. 173.

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No. XXXIX. “ blasphemy."] St. Mat. xxvi. 63–5. St. John x. 33. See “ The Divinity of Christ proved from his own Declarations attested and interpreted by his Living Witnesses, the Jews;" in a Sermon, by Thomas Burgess, now Bishop of St. David's : preached in 1790.

No. XXXIX. “Son of God."] Alix, Chapter 17.

No. XLIII. “ appellation of toyos."] Allix, Ch. 12. Kidder, Part III. Ch. v.

No. XLVIII. “were denied.") With the division of the Books in the New Testament into Ομολογεμενα, and Αντιλεγομενα, made by Eusebius, every student in divinity is acquainted. See also Grotius de Verit. Rel. Chr. iii. 3. and, “ Illustrations of the Truth of the Christian Religion," by Edward Maltby, p. 32, sqq. Ed. 1802, where the discriminating marks, which distinguish the Genuine from the Spurious Gospels are pointed out with much learning and ingenuity.

No. XLIX. “in the four first Centuries.”] See “ A new and Full Method of settling the Canonical Authority of the New Testament,” by Rev. Jeremiah Jones. Vol. I. pp. 42, 62. Ed. 1798.

No. LIII.“ says Michaelis.”] Michaelis's “Introductory Lectures to the Sacred Books of the New Testament;" translated by Butler, afterwards Bishop of Hereford, in 1761.

No. LIV.“ Erasmus, or Crellius.”] See Mill's Note on Rom. ix. 5. Wolfii“ Curæ Philologicæ," on the same passage. Michaelis in Butler's Translation ; p. 64. The same Professor's “ lotroduction to the New Testament,” translated by Marsh. Vol. II. pp. 387, 417, 471.

No. LX. the same duty.”] See Bishop Porteus's “ Lectures on the Gospel of St. Matthew." Lect. xxiv. p. 335, &c. vol. II. Ed. 1802. Bishop Pretyman's “ Elements of Christian Theology." Part III. Art. i. p. 84. vol. II. Ed. 1799. Both these Writers found the Doctrine of the Trinity on our Lord's final commission in St. Matt. xxviii. 19; and with the strongest reason.

No. LXVIII. " Philopatris.") Dialogue of Lucian so entitled. In vol. II. p. 998, Ed. Benedicti. Bishop Bull maintains this Dialogue to have been written by Lucian, in opposition to the opinion of Micyilus, who ascribes it to some more early Author. If however it was written by some more early Author, it proves (to use Bp. Bull's words) " qualisnam fuerit Christianorum fides de SS. Trinitate, etiam sub Trajani imperio, diu ante Luciani tempora." Def. Fid. Nic. p. 69. Ed. 1721.

No. LXXXVIII. " that he denied.”] See p. 377, “ Thesis," annexed to “ Illustrations of the Truth of the Christian Religion ;" by Edward Maltby, B. D. Ed. 1802.

No. XCVII.“ temper.”] The several qualities here enumerated are all combined in that prime Scholar, acute Critic, excellent Man, and faithful Friend, Dr. Charles Burney; the Urbanity of whose Manners is equal to the depth of his Erudition ; and both confessedly place him at the head of Literary Characters most emi. nent in this nation.

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