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hold my assent from the fact, that it is so, because he has not been pleased to tell me the mode of the fact, or how it is so.
To the above quotations, the following may be added :“ A prophet who proves his Divine commission by miracles,
may announce a doctrine in terms, to which I annex no “ distinct conceptions; yet I may believe that the prophet does, “ that angels and superior spirits may, that I myself may, in a “more advanced stage of my existence; in deference, there“ fore, to his Divine authority, I would yield my humble and “ entire assent.” (Pages 41, 42.)— Now the concessions made in these various extracts, of the propriety of believing even unintelligible propositions on the authority of the sacred records, being applicable, a fortiori, to partially revealed truths, appear to me to nullify the whole chapter about mysteries, converting it into a mere logomachy—a useless verbal dispute.
DEFENCE OF THE REASONINGS IN SUPPORT OF THE TRINITY, AND OF THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST, AGAINST THE ANIMADVERSIONS OF MR. YATES.
I HAVE now done with preliminary topics: and if any of my readers shall think that on those of them which are of a personal nature I have detained him too long, I have only to assure him for his comfort, that I have left unsaid a good deal of what I once intended to say. I conceive it to be not merely natural and pardonable, but, on various and important grounds, obligatory on every man, and especially on every man who occupies a station of public usefulness, to vindicate himself from misrepresentations and aspersions. But I trust I shall never be left to place myself and my cause on any thing like the same level in the scale of importance. Let what will of the mire of controversial disparagement adhere to me, I shall consider myself richly recompensed, if I shall, in any measure, succeed in clearing the cause of God and truth.
I have a slight objection to offer against the manner in which Mr. Yates announces the division of his subject, in the second and third parts of his work. In the former, he proposes to state the opinions and arguments of Unitarians; and in the latter, to consider the objections by which I have endeavoured to invalidate them. I demur at this. Tripita
rians are not to be placed on the inferior ground of objectors; as if the opposite system were the generally received one, and theirs the exception. Their views are the views of ninety-nine hundredths of what is called the Christian world. Their opponents are the dissenters from the prevailing faith. They therefore are the objectors;—they are the assailants. Trinitarians are entitled to consider themselves in ull possession of the field of Scripture, till this little band of enemies shall succeed in dispossessing them. To some of my readers this
may appear a circumstance of trivial moment. I have no wish to attach more importance to it than it deserves. But I must insist on the presumption being decidedly against so very small a minority of the professed believers and investigators of the Bible; nor do I feel at all inclined to allow to those whom I consider as enemies of the truth of God, any higher ground than they are entitled to occupy.
Although I have closed my remarks on preliminary topics, I still find in my way a great deal of matter, that is entirely irrelevant to the points immediately in dispute.
Of Mr Yates's Second Part, the first chapter is entitled “ The Evidence for the Unity of God from the Light of Na“ ture;” and the second—“The Evidences for the Unity of “God from the Testimony of the Scriptures.”—These are very good. And as we are not less desirous than Mr. Yates to establish the doctrine of the Divine unity, we are obliged to him for the concise and perspicuous view of the argument on this topic, especially in the former of these two chapters.—Of the provokingly disingenuous representation given by Mr. Yates, in a subsequent part of his volume, of my reasonings relative to the unity of God, I shall have occasion to speak afterwards.
I pass over, in the mean time, the statements of Unitarian doctrine, and the reasonings used in support of them, contain
ed in the remaining chapters of Part II.; and proceed immediately to Part III., in which Mr. Yates professes to state the views, and to answer the arguments, of Trinitarians.-How far he has done either, will by and by appear.
When we consider the powerful propensity which mankind have always discovered, to intrude into what has been left secret, and to exercise their ingenuity in attempts to explain what is beyond the reach of their capacities, it will not surely appear wonderful, that different opinions should have been formed, and different theories, and principles of explication, adopted, on such a doctrine as that of the Trinity. These varieties have afforded a handle to its adversaries, of which they have shown, as might have been expected, abundant readiness to take advantage. They are also, without doubt, fitted to stumble sincere and serious inquirers. Of such inquirers I request the particular attention to the remarks which follow.
The varieties of opinion on this subject are reduced by Mr. Yates to three general heads. I have no particular objections to make to his classification. I have already, with sufficient distinctness, avowed myself to belong to the class which he places, third in order, consisting of those who consider “the 6 subject as so completely removed beyond the view of the hu“ man understanding, that it is impossible for us to form up66 on it
any clear or accurate conceptions.”—I have made this avowal in the following, amongst other passages :“Of the s precise import of the term personality, as applied to a dis66 tinction in the Divine essence, or of the peculiar nature 6 and mode of that distinction, I shall not presume to at
tempt conveying to your minds any clear conception. I “ cannot impart to you what I do not possess myself: and, o convinced as I am that such conception cannot be attained
“ by any, it had been well, I think, if such attempts at ex“planation, by comparisons from nature and otherwise, had “ never been made. They have afforded to the enemies of “ the doctrine much unnecessary occasion for unhallowed bur
lesque and blasphemy.—The Scriptures simply assure us “ of the fact : of the mode of the fact they offer no explana“tion. And where the Bible is silent, it becomes us to be “ silent also ; for when, in such cases, we venture to speak, “ we can only darken counsel by words without knowledge.' “ The fact, and not the manner of it, being that which is “ revealed, is the proper and only object of our faith. We 6 believe that it is so; but how it is so, we are not ashamed “ to say we do not presume even to conjecture.” *
Mr. Yates may call this “an elusive representation of the “ doctrine," and hold me up to ridicule, as “ striving to ren“ der the doctrine of the Trinity invulnerable by reducing it “ to a shadow.” I cannot help this. I have no desire to go farther, on this or any other subject, than my Bible carries me. Explanation of the doctrine of the Trinity is the incessant demand of Unitarians; and an acknowledgment, fifty times repeated, that you do not pretend to explain, produces no abatement in the urgency of the demand. But the demand is a most unreasonable one; and every attempt to satisfy it is foolish. For my own part, I am perfectly resigned to be the object of Unitarian pity for my weakness, in humbly submitting to the limits of Divine instruction, in believing the fact, as testified in the Oracles of Truth, and leaving the mode of the fact amongst the “secret things that belong unto 6 the Lord,"--concealed in that “light to which no man “ can approach."
I most readily admit (for how can it be otherwise ?) that on
* Discourse I. page 11.