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Whatever the being whom I address, wants of boundless power, a perfect, all-comprehensive wisdom, and inexhaustible goodness, is something taken from the undoubting confidence with which I should otherwise repose myself upon him; it is something wanting to the fullness of that feeling of filial reverence and love, with which I should otherwise pour forth my soul in prayer to him, who had all the riches of the universe in his power and every energy of nature under his controul. For examples of the strength of devotional feeling, and the sublimity of devotional poetry, we must seek among those nations which have worshipped the one true and living God.
I observe further, that not only does Christianity claim an immeasurable advantage over Paganism in this respect, as a doctrine according to godliness, but that every doctrine calling itself a part of Christianity, which tends to weaken and obscure the notion of the Divine Unity, however it may claim to be a peculiar doctrine, a vital doctrine, an evangelical doctrine, does in reality destroy that, which is the great peculiarity, the vital principle, of true religion, to which prophets, evan gelists and apostles have borne their united and most zealous testimony. When I read in the first article of our national church, the emphatic declaration "that there is but one liv
ing and true God, everlasting, without body, parts or passions, of infinite wisdom and goodness, the maker and preserver of all things visible and invisible," I recognise the simple and impressive truths of Scripture, sublime, consistent and intelligible: but when I proceed, "and in unity of this godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," I have exchanged scriptural truths for the words in which man's wisdom teaches the doctrines of its own invention. If I turn to the writings of those who have professed to maintain and to explain this doctrine, to learn what its meaning may be, I find an eloquent dignitary of the church in whose articles it appears, declaring "that it is both he resy and nonsense to understand the word persons, as applied to the Trinity, in any other way than of three distinct infinite minds;" and I feel myself trembling on the very verge of polytheism. If I place myself at the feet of another great master in Israel, and am told that the three persons in the godhead are only three relations which the one God bears to his creaturest, I am amazed at the
* Sherlock's Vindication, p. 66.
+ The doctrine of Dr. Wallis, approved by the University of Oxford. See his Considerations on the Trinity, p. 7.
perverse ingenuity which could veil this simple truth in the mysterious language of the article which I have quoted. How unlike to the clear, unambiguous declaration of Scripture; "To us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things and we in him ; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things and we by him!" You may darken and confuse this statement by cominents and additions, but you cannot increase its clearness or its force. In fact, however the framers of articles and creeds may have contrived to accumulate antithesis and contradiction in their statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, the great labour of every one who undertakes to explain it is, to make it look as like Unitarianism as possible, and to evade the consequences which immediately suggest themselves when it is presented in the Athanasian form. They are happy, when by any new turn of language, or subtle analogy, they can make the reader acquiesce in the belief that a Trinity in Unity is not absolutely absurd. Surely, then, some strong case should be made out, of the advantages derived from the reception of this doctrine, which so much embarrasses its own defenders.
Where are these advantages to be found? Is there any thing in it which more power
fully lays hold of the religious affections, which satisfies some want of the mind which a belief in the divine unity leaves unsatisfied? Can the Son make known something to the Father, concerning the wants of his creatures, with which the Father's omniscience was not acquainted; or move him to some act of love or mercy, to which his own boundless goodness and long suffering did not incline him? Can the Holy Spirit shed down upon us some influences, which could not have been received from the Father of our spirits, from whom cometh every good and perfect gift, in whose hands are the hearts of all men, and who alone worketh in them both to will and to do of his own good pleasure? If each of the persons be infinite, each of them must have every attribute, every disposition, every degree of power and knowledge which the others possess; they can differ only in their relation to each other; and consequently, he who worships one infinite Deity, worships whatever is supposed to give to the three persons of the Trinity their several claims to our homage, with this unspeakable advantage, that he keeps at a distance from every possibility of lapsing into the worship of more gods than one.
I am aware that it may be said, that I exaggerate this danger; that the doctrine of the
Trinity has long been the established faith of most countries of Christendom, and yet no symptoms have shown themselves of a return to the errors of polytheism. The fact may be so, but why? Because the Unity of God is so strongly forced upon the reflecting mind by the appearances of nature, so loudly proclaimed by Revelation, that it takes habitual possession even of those who cling most closely to the profession of a Trinitarian belief. It is ONE God whom we trace in the wonders of the starry heavens, whose wisdom we see in the pages of history, to whom the heart turns with thankfulness or resignation amidst the enjoyments or sorrows of life; it is to one God that the stream of devotional feeling and invocation always flows, when its course is not disturbed by some artificial obstacle. What makes the doctrine of the Trinity comparatively harmless is, that it is really seldom in the thoughts even of those who would feel the greatest horror at the positive denial of it. That it does not interfere more with the belief of the Unity of God, is owing, therefore, to extrinsic causes, to the salutary influence of that philosophy whose interference in matters of religion orthodoxy is so eager to forbid; to the controul of that natural reason which it denounces as carnal, and whose light it would