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denied, that we are led by the force of the senses to believe many things that we cannot fully understand. But where the evidence of sense does not compel us, how can we believe what is not only beyond our comprehension, but contrary to it and to the common course of nature, and directly against revelation; which declares positively the unity of God as well as his incomprehensibility; but no where ascribes to him any number of persons, or any portion of magnitude P Job xxxvi. 26: “Behold God is great, and we know him not.” Ch. xxxvii. 23: “Touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out.” Psalm crlv. 3: “His greatness is unsearchable.” Neither are my attempts owing to a strong hope of removing early impressions from the breasts of those whose education instilled certain ideas into their minds from the moment they became capable of receiving them; for, notwithstanding great and long-continued exertions on my part to do away Hindoo polytheism, though palpably gross and absurd, my success has been very partial. This experience, therefore, it may be suggested, ought to have been sufficient to discourage me from any other attempt of the kind; but it is my reverence for Christianity, and for the author of this religion, that has induced me to endeavour to vindicate it from the charge of Polytheism as far as my limited capacity and knowledge extend. It is indeed mortifying to my feelings to find a religion that, from its sublime doctrines and pure morality, should be respected above all other systems, reduced almost to a level with Hindoo theology, merely by human creeds and prejudices; and from this cause brought to a comparison with the Paganism of ancient Greece; which, while it included a plurality of Gods, yet maintained that Osog āorrl sig, or “God is one,” and that their numerous divine persons were all comprehended in that one Deity. Having derived my own opinions on this subject en
tirely from the Scriptures themselves, I may perhaps be excused for the confidence with which I maintain them against those of so great a majority, who appeal to the same authority for theirs; inasmuch as I attribute the different views, not to any inferiority of judgment compared with my own limited ability, but to the powerful effects of early religious impressions; for when these are deep, reason is seldom allowed its natural scope in examining them to the bottom. Were it a practice among Christians to study first the books of the Old Testament as found arranged in order, and to acquire a knowledge of the true force of scriptural phrases and expressions without attending to interpretations given by any sect; and then to study the New Testament, comparing the one with the other, Christianity would not any longer be liable to be encroached upon by human opinions. I have often observed that English divines, when arguing with those that think freely on religion, quote the names of Locke and Newton as defenders of Christianity; but they totally forget that the Christianity which those illustrious persons professed, did not contain the doctrine of the Trinity, which our divines esteem as the fundamental principle of this religion. For the conviction of the public as to the accuracy of this assertion, I beg to be allowed to extract here a few lines of their respective works, referring my readers to their publications upon religion for more complete information. Locke's Works, Vol. VII. p. 421 : “But that neither he nor others may mistake my book, this is that in short which it says—1st, That there is a faith that makes men Christians—2dly, That this faith is the believing ‘Jesus of Nazareth to be the Messiah'—3dly, That the believing Jesus to be the Messiah, includes in it a receiving him for our Lord and King, promised and sent from God, and so lays upon all his subjects an absolute and indispensable necessity of assenting to all that they can attain of the knowledge that he taught, and of sincere obedience to all that he commanded.” Sir I. Newton's Observations upon the Prophecies, p. 262 : “The Beasts and Elders, therefore, represent the Christians of all nations; and the worship of these Christians in their churches is here represented under the form of worshiping God and the Lamb in the Temple, God for his benefaction in creating all things, and the Lamb for his benefaction in redeeming us with his blood:—God as sitting upon the throne and living for ever, and the Lamb exalted above all by the merits of his death.” It cannot be alleged that these personages, in imitation of several Grecian philosophers, published these sentiments only in conformity to the vulgar opinion, and to the established religion of their country; for both the vulgar opinion and the religion of the government of England in their days were directly opposite to the opinions which these celebrated men entertained. The mention of the name of Sir Isaac Newton, one of the greatest mathematicians (if not the greatest) that ever existed, has brought into my recollection a mathematical argument which I some time ago heard a divine adduce in support of the Trinity, and which I feel inclined to consider here, though I am afraid some of my readers may censure me for repeating an argument of this kind. It is as follows: that as three lines compose one triangle, so three persons compose one Deity. It is astonishing that a mind so conversant with mathematical truth as was that of Sir Isaac Newton, did not discover this argument in favour of the possible existence of a Trinity, brought to light by Trinitarians, considering that it must have lain so much in his way. If it did occur to him, its force may possibly have given way to some such considerations as the following:—This analogy between the Godhead and a triangle, in the first instance, denies to God, equally with a line, any real existence: for extension of all kinds, abstracted from position or relative situation, exists only in idea. Secondly, it destroys the unity which they attempt to establish between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; for the three sides of a triangle are conceived of as separate existences. Thirdly, it denies to each of the three persons of God the epithet “God,” inasmuch as each side cannot be designated a triangle; though the Father of the universe is invariably called God in the strict sense of the term. Fourthly, it will afford to that sect among the Hindoos who suppose God to consist of four persons or wrotos an opportunity of using the same mode of arguing, to shew the reasonableness of their sentiments, by comparing the compound Deity with the four sides of a quadrilateral figure. Fifthly, this manner of arguing may be esteemed better adapted to support the polytheism of the majority of Hindoos, who believe in numerous persons under one Godhead; for, instead of comparing the Godhead with a triangle, a figure containing the fewest sides, and thereby proving the three persons of the Godhead, they might compare God with a polygon, more suitable to the dignified rank of the Deity, and thus establish the consistency with reason, of the belief that the Godhead may be composed of numerous persons. Sixthly, this mode of illustration would, in fact, equally suit the Atheist as the Polytheist. For, as the Trinity is represented by the three sides of a triangle, so the eternal revolution of nature without any divine person may be compared to the circle, which is considered as having no sides nor angles; or, Seventhly, as some great mathematicians consider the circle as a polygon, having an infinite number of sides, the illustration of the Trinitarian doctrine by the form of the triangle will by analogy justify those sects, who maintain the existence of an infinite number of persons in the Godhead, in referring for an illustration of their opinions to the circular, or rather perhaps to the globular figure, in which is to be found an infinity of circles, formed each of an infinite number of sides.
As I was concluding this Appendix, a friend to the doctrine of the Trinity kindly lent me Serle's “Horae Solitariae.” I confine here my attention only to four or five arguments, which the author has adduced in the beginning of his work, and that for several reasons. 1st, Because a deliberate attention to the nature of the firstmentioned arguments may furnish the reader with a general idea of the rest, and justify me in neglecting them. 2ndly, Because such of the others as seem to me at all worthy of notice have been already considered and replied to; and, 3rdly, Because I am unwilling to protract further discussion, which has already grown to a length far beyond my original intention.
At page 10, Mr. Serle alleges, that “God says by Moses in the book of Genesis, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth; and then just afterwards, the Spirit moved upon the face of the waters. Here are three persons in one power; the Beginning, God, and the Spirit.” If a bare mention of the word “beginning” and “spirit,” (or, properly speaking, “wind,”) in the first two verses of Genesis, justifies the numbering of them as two persons of God, how can we conscientiously omit the “water” mentioned in the same verse as coexistent with “spirit,” making it the fourth person, and darkness, which is mentioned before spirit, as a fifth person of God: and if under any pretence we are justified in classing “beginning” an abstract relation, as a person of God, how can we deny the same dignity to the “end,” which is equally an abstract relation P Nay, the very words of chap. i. 8 of Revelation might be quoted to prove one of the persons of God to be the “ending;”—“I am Alpha and Omega, the BEGINNING and the ENDING, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” We have, then, God, the Beginning, the Spirit, and the Ending, four persons at least whom we must admit into the Godhead, if Mr. Serle's opinion have any foundation.