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Church as Heretics. Such is the opinion the learned Bishops Bull and Stillingfleet have left on record, as the result of their researches into the writings of the Ante-Nicene Fathers : and we are glad to be able to add the concurrence in part of Dr. Priestley: “ He admits that all the early writers that have come down to us from Justin Martyn to Athanasius, from the middle of the second century to the middle of the fourth, were TriniTARIANS, with the solitary exception of the Author of the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions.”* The Rev. Joseph Miðner sums up the result of his inquiries into the subject in the following words :—“I cannot but farther conclude, that the doctrine usually called Trinitarian, was universal in the Church in those times: (middle of the third century.) Dionysius, Firmilian, Gregory, Theotecnes, seventy Bishops, the whole Christian world, were unanimous on this head; and this unanimity may satisfactorily be traced up to the Apostles.” †
It is also frequently objected by Unitarians, that the advocates of the doctrine of the Trinity differ widely among themselves as to the view which ought to be taken of it: and Dr. Drummond has furnished a list of ten authors of acknowledged reputation, as having all expressed opposite opinions on the subject. This list we have examined carefully, and find only three of the writers differing materially from each other. The rest only employ different words to express the same thing. But suppose we grant what is required—that all the ten dissent from the established standards of the doctrine: What then? Will the fact of ten men disagreeing in an age on the Doctrine of the Trinity affect the unity of the faith among Trinitarians ? There are twenty thousand Ministers in the Established Church of Great Britain and Ireland, not to mention tens of thousands of most intelligent lay members—surely we can afford to give up one in every two or three thousand that may wish to speculate on the subject, without disturbing the unity of the faith. The fact is, there is no article in the Christian Creed on which greater unanimity prevails among Trinitarians.
* Evans's Sketch.-Aikman's Edition. Trinitarians. † Milner's Church History, vol. 1.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY PROVED AS A CON
SEQUENCE FROM THE DEITY OF OUR LORD
BY THE REV. DAVID JAMES.
“BUT WHEN THE COMFORTER IS COME, WHOM I WILL SEND UNTO YOU
FROM THE FATHER, EVEN THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH, WHICH PROCEEDETH FROM THE FATHER, HE SHALL TESTIFY OF ME."-John xv. 26.
In the order and distribution of subjects for this important Course of Lectures on the Unitarian heresy, I am left in charge with the Doctrine of the Trinity. My subject is expressed in the following form of words:
The DocTRINE OF THE TRINITY PROVED AS A CONSE
QUENCE FROM THE DEITY OF our Lord Jesus
In drawing up the subject in this form, my Reverend Brother had in view to give the preacher to whom it should be entrusted, the privilege of assuming at the outset the proper Deity of Christ as already proved by the two immediately preceding lectures; and of proceeding at once to show, that as a plurality of persons in the Godhead is necessarily established by the proof of the proper
Deity of the Son of God, that plurality must consist of a Trinity: because a third person is spoken of in Scripture as possessing all the characteristics of Deity, in common with the first and the second; and that person is the Holy Ghost.
Of this privilege, however, I shall avail myself only to a certain extent, as I am anxious my Sermon should, in some measure, assume the character of a complete discourse on the great and cardinal Doctrine of the TRINITY.
What I have to say on the subject shall be arranged under consecutive heads: and my first proposition is this:
I. The Moral CHARACTER AND UNITY OF God, not
DISCOVERABLE FROM THE Works of CREATION.
The first great principle which lies at the foundation of all religion, whether true or false, is this: a belief in the existence of God; and the next to it in point of importance is,—the persuasion that God is a moral governor of the world. The Apostle St. Paul had both these in view, when he said—“He that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” *
Man, immediately on the admission of these two principles, feels it no less his interest, than his duty, to inquire :—What is the moral character of this God? And what are the requirements of his government? For on the character of the governor must depend the nature of his government, and on the nature of his government must depend the happiness or misery of his subjects. And he further inquires :—What are the available sources of information on these points ?
• Hel), xi. 6.
In reply to this latter inquiry we state, on the authority of Scripture, that some knowledge of the Divine Being may be derived from the works of creation. This is the testimony of the Royal Psalmist :-“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge.” * The heavens and the firmament, and the succession of day and night, set forth the glory of the Creator, and show knowledge respecting him. And in order to ascertain what kind of knowledge, we have only to refer to the testimony of St. Paul, on the same subject:-“For the invisible things of him (God,) from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made;"—And then, to prevent any mistake as to what things, the Apostle adds,—“Even his eternal power and Godhead." +
It is evident from these two passages, that the works of creation not only declare the existence of God, but make known some of his essential attributes. They exhibit to the gaze and admiration of all intelligent creatures, and especially of man—the glory—the eternal power-and the Godhead of the Great Creator. These are some of his characteristic properties.
But we must inquire to what class of properties these belong; for the attributes of all intelligent beings—the infinite, as well as the finite-range themselves under two heads or distinctions,—the natural and the moral. The natural properties of any being, though ascertained one by one, do not necessarily, and in every instance of action, determine his moral character. They may be exercised for good or for evil, according to the will and disposition of him in whom they reside: or, if this position be considered untenable, we will express it differently, and say,
There are circumstances which make it impossible for man, in every instance, to ascertain, from an examination of the effect, what may have been the precise character of the cause; or determine, by a survey of the work itself, the disposition and moral qualities of the Agent which produced it.
Existence, life, power, and knowledge, are the natural properties of the good and the evil alike; they belong to beings that are morally evil, as well as to those that are morally good : to devils as well as to angels,-to the spirits of wicked men, whether in the body or out of it, as well as to the spirits of just men made perfect.
These properties belong to the Divine Being, in a sense which we call infinite, and were exercised in the production of the visible creation; consequently, that creation presents distinct marks and irrefragable proofs of their existence in the Creator, to this day. But as they fall under the class, natural attributes, they cannot be expected to furnish any satisfactory evidence of the moral character of him in whom they reside.
The Second Sermon* of the series in reply to these Lectures, contains the following passage on this subject:“All minds are known by their works—the human quite as distinctly as the Divine : and if on the material structures of the universe, the moral attributes of his ods) nature may be discerned ;"—implying that such is the fact; whereas reason and common sense, after a patient investigation of the subject, declare that such is not the fact at present, whatever it may have been originally. The point is easily decided.
I would take you either to St. Paul's Cathedral in London, or to the still more distinguished monument of architecture, the venerable Minster in the City of York. I
* Mr. Martineau's Sermon. P. 3.