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offered to reason, than to bring to the examination of the Divine Word any preconceived notions or prejudices whatever, which could hinder us from a fair and honest reception of its sacred testimony.
It is clear, therefore, from the very nature of the case, that the Holy Scriptures, once ascertained to be the record of a Divine revelation, arte entirely superior to our reason in point of authority, since they make known to us a class of truths altogether above the range of mortal discovery: while, on the other hand, faith demands the continual agency of reason, as well in guarding the evidence of Scripture as in the interpretation of its contents. Reason, then, is the judge, but revelation is the law. The judge has no right to make the law, nor yet to argue it away; but it is his duty truly and honestly to construe it.
Now the general rule of interpretation, already mentioned as the rule of sound legal construction, implies in its proper . extent, that nothing is required to be believed, which imports a contradiction, either in itself, or to our senses, or to any other part of the same revelation. The same God who is the author of nature, being the author of the whole canon of Scripture, it is unreasonable to charge him with contradicting himself, either in his word or in his works. And this affords us' a principle, by .which the distinction between the Trinitarian doctrine and the Romish tenet of the real presence, can be readily perceived, although the Socinian is so apt to class them together. Thus, it is easy to demonstrate that the Romish dogma of transubstantiation cannot be correct, because it makes the senses contradict each other. It is only by the sense of §ight, that we know the words,' This is my body,' 'this is my blood,' to be in the Bible ; but the same sense of sight proves to us, that the bread and wine, in the Lord's supper, continue bread and wine after the
words of consecration, as before; and in addition to this, the smell, the touch, and the taste, all testify that no change of their material substance, has been effected. Of course, as the subject is one which belongs to the range of the senses, and as the senses decide that the words, 'this is my body,' cannot be true in a material manner, we adopt a spiritual meaning, which consists, not only with the evidence of our senses, but also with the other parts of Scripture. < Here, then, we proceed securely, on the evidence of sense, in a question peculiarly within the power of sense to decide. But the enquiry into the essence of the Godhead is not subject to such a test, nor does reason possess any knowledge upon this most sublime and unapproachable of all topics, except what is derived from the Scriptures. Hence, we must take their testimony as we find it, with reverence, and sub- , mission. We have no authority to add to it—we have no right to take any thing away. Whether the Unity of God be simple, or complex—whether it can consist with a Trinity of persons or not—are subjects totally beyond the reach of reason, except so far as reason is guided by the word of God, in the exercise of a sound and sober interpretation.
After thus examining the proper office of reason in the setding of religious truth, we might enter on the subject before us by observing, that almost the whole Christian world hold the point in question precisely as we do. Presbyterians, Methodists, Baptists, Lutherans, Independents, Seceders, Covenanters, Congregationalists, Moravians, Waldenses, and the extensive Churches of Greece and Rome, all maintain the Trinitarian doctrine. However these various denominations in the Catholic Church differ in other points, on this they agree. However some of them may have corrupted the truth in other matters, in this they all concur. However the lapse of rime may have introduced superstition or disorder in other respects, this seems to have been one of the fundamental principles of the faith which has withstood every shock, and is taught at the present moment, precisely as k was in the days of primitive purity, on the authority of the written word of God. And we might ask you whether this fact alone did not merit, from the minds of all men, a respectful consideration. But we have no desire to excite any extraneous influence in our favor. We ask only for a candid and an open mind, willing to see and to acknowledge the truth. And in order to give their utmost weight to the objections of our adversaries, we shall proceed to consider them at once, before we produce the evidence on which we rely.
Their chief, if not their only objection to the doctrine of N the Trinity is this, that it is unreasonable, absurd, and contradictory to say, that God is both three and one. Now we think it can be easily shown that it is neither unreasonable, absurd, nor contradictory; but that the Trinitarian has both reason and analogy on his side, independently of Scripture.
Let us first, however, quote from the articles of our religion the exact statement of the doctrine. 'There is but one liv-i ing and true God, everlasting, of infinite power, wisdom and goodness, the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and invisible.' Thus far, be it noted, we maintain the Unity of God, as strongly and as clearly, by the very words of our own article, as any body of men that ever breathed; but here lies the difficulty, as they say, that(in the unity of this Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.' This, they tell us, is a contradiction, that each di. vine person should be God, while notwithstanding there is only one God. Surely, however, if we can show that a similar proposition may be stated on other subjects, where every one admits its truth, it will be sufficient to answer this charge of unreasonableness and contradiction.
Take, then, for illustration's sake, the Sun in the firmaJ ment, and you will find that it is three and one. There is first, the round orb; secondly, the light; thirdly, the heat. Each one of these we call the Sun. When you say that the Sun is almost 900,000 miles in diameter, you speak of the round orb; when you say that the Sun is bright, you mean the light; when you say that the Sun is warm, you mean the heat. The orb is the Sun, the light is the Sun, and the heat is the Sun; and they all mean different things, and still there is but one Sun. Here is a manifest trinity and unity even in a material substance, known and understood by all, yet it is just as open to objection as the Christian doctrine, that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and these are different persons, while, nevertheless, there is but one God.
But again, from that object which is the crown of the / inanimate creation, let us look to him who' was made lord I of this lower world,—let us look into ourselves, and see 'whether we cannot find a further illustration of the same ; truth. Is not every man living an example of a trinity and , unity in his own person? Has he not a soul, and a rational mind, and a body, and do we not call each by the same name—man? For instance, when we say that man is immortal, do we not mean his soul;—when we say that the man is learned, do we not mean his mind;—when we say the man is sick, or dead, do we not mean his body? Each of these we call the man, and they are all different from each other, and yet there are not three men, but one man. Surely here is another plain case to shew the unreasonableness of this objection.
Even in the very mind itself, however, according to the I
old system of metaphysics, we may discover another, and perhaps on some accounts a closer illustration. There is the judgment, the memory, and the imagination, three faculties, each of which we call mind. In every exertion of the waking intellect, these three concur, and yet they are so distinct that neither can do the office of the other. It is the office of imagination to invent ideas; of memory, to treasure up and recall them ; of judgment, to compare and decide. Yet, although each is called mind, there are not three minds, but one mind. And here is another instance of a triune organization, to manifest the error of the assertion, that the same being cannot possibly be at the same time both three and one.
But there is a farther objection to the doctrine of the Trinity, which it may be as well to notice. We say that the Son of God, the second person in the adorable Trinity, is from all eternity, as well as the Father, and that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father and the Son, while yet this third Person is also from eternity. And here, they tell us, is another absurdity, that the Son is as old as the Father, and the Spirit which proceeds, as eternal as those from whom he proceeds; these propositions being a fresh instance of what they are pleased to term contradictions. But even here, if we recur once more to the Sun in the natural firmament, we shall find an analogy to answer the allegation. Thus, for instance, it is not denied by any one, that the orb sends forth the light. It might therefore be called the father of the light, by a common figure of speech. And, in like manner, it is not to be questioned that the heat of the Sun proceeds from the orb, and likewise from the light, because it accompanies the rays of light and may be separated from them by the action of the prism ; yet surely it is easy to conceive, that both the Jight and the heat of