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and the number of persons in the Deity ? As the Word and Spirit are nouns of the neuter gender, and have neuter pronouns, except in a few cases of personification, and as the thousands of pronouns for God are of the singular number, except a very few doubtful cases, in which us is introduced it seems to me that all candid and well-informed persons must admit that the Word and Spirit are generally spoken of in the Bible as not persons, — and God is generally represented as one person only. Such being the Scriptural facts, a creed which denies or contradicts the general meaning of Scripture language, needs such clear and direct proof in its support to render it credible, as I am unable to find in the instructions of the Scriptures, or in any of the dictates of reason.

15. Another query is this, Is it not an undeniable truth, that what John said in a very few verses respecting the Word which was in the beginning with God, is nearly the whole ground on which the hypothesis was formed, that by the Word is meant a distinct person equal with the Father? And is it not also true, that what John recorded of our Saviour's figurative discourse relating to the Comforter, is the principal ground on which it has been imagined that by the Spirit of God is meant a distinct person of the Godhead?

It is believed that these queries will be answered in the affirmative by all candid Christians who have carefully examined the subject. Let it then be remarked, that John is supposed to be the last of the inspired men whose writings have found a place in the Bible. Is it then probable or credible, that John advanced doctrines relating to the personality of God which contradict what had been written on the sane subject by Moses and the prophets? Is it not much more probable, that a few figurative expressions, or a few personifications, in his writings, have been misunderstood and misinterpreted by fallible and uninspired Christians ? If John taught that the Word and the Spirit of God are two persons equal with the Father, and that God is in fact the Holy Three instead of the Holy One, he has not only taught what was not taught by any of his predecessors, but has contradicted what they taught for truth. If he has done so, have we not good reason to doubt his inspiration, or the inspiration of Moses, and all the prophets who represent Jehovah as the Holy One ? Both parts of such a condition cannot be true. If the learned Jews are made to believe, that John so contradicted VOL. XXI. – 30 s. Vol. III. NO. 1.



their lawgiver as to teach that there are three divine persons in the one God, equally worthy of supreme worship, can we wonder that they deny the inspiration of John ? and if they believe, that John obtained bis doctrine from the testimony of Jesus, have they not a better excuse for rejecting bis Messiahship than any which they have been supposed 10 possess ?

16. An error in regard to the number of persons to be worshipped as the true God, is surely an error of a very serious nature. It is, indeed, pleaded by those who profess to worship three distinct persons, that they have but one object of supreme worship, because all the three persons are supposed to be but the one God. Is it not, however, equally true, that they profess to regard each of the three persons as the true God, and possessed of all divine perfections? Is it not also true, that one such person is one object of worship? If so, does it not clearly follow that two such persons are two objects, and three distinct persons three distinct objects? I freely confess, that I have not discernment enough to perceive any incorrectness in these conclusions, except it may be on this ground, that the worshipper has no definite idea of what is meant in this case by persons, and of course worships the Father as but one intelligent being. But of what advantage can it be to profess to worship three persons, if we know not what is meant by the term ? If


of us thus worship, inay it not be truly said of us, “ They worship they know not what.”

I hope I shall never cease to praise God for his goodness in freeing my mind from what I now believe to be great errors respecting his personality. But, having known by experience the confusion and embarrassment of mind, which the triune views are adapted to produce, I wish ever to cultivate in my heart candid feelings towards those who still retain such views. While I regarded myself as a worshipper of one God in three persons, I am conscious that in general my worship was addressed to the Father only, as it now is, and to him as the only living and true God. So far as I am able to judge by the language I hear used in prayer by Trinitarians of the present day, I cannot doubt that in general their worship is paid to the Father as mine formerly was, and as it is now. I therefore do not and cannot impute to them idolatry, or the worship of more Gods than one. God looketh on the heart, and I believe that honest Christians, of every sect, mean to worship one God only. Happy would it be for men, if they were more like God in judging one another.

N. W.

ART. VII. – A Discourse on Miracles, preliminary to the

Argument for a Revelation: Being the Dudleian Lecture, delivered before Harvard University, May 14th, 1836. By the Rev. Orville DEWEY. *

MARK iv. 40, 41. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful ? how is that ye have no faith? And they feared exceedingly, and said one to another, What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him ?

The power

of Jesus on the occasion here referred to, was undoubtedly miraculous. Without dwelling on the circumstances, which are familiar to you, — I wish to call your attention to two points in the narrative, as fairly presenting the subject of my present discourse. One is the natural astonishnient of the disciples, amounting almost to a reluctance to believe what their eyes beheld. " What manner of man is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him ?” The other point, to which I wish to draw your attention, is the language of rebuke with which our Saviour addresses this feeling of incredulity. “How is it that ye have no faith?” And I may add that he frequently reproaches, in similar terms, the want of faith in bis miraculous powers.

Now it is this presumption against miracles, - in other words it is the preliminary ground of the argument for Christianity, that I propose in this discourse to examine. And of such importance do I hold this preliminary view of the subject, that I think it will make all the difference, with many minds, between believing in Christianity, and not believing. That is to say, the evidences of revelation are strong enough to produce belief, if it were not for this presumption against them. Let there be no prejudice against miracles ; let it appear, in any man's account, perfectly reasonable and philosophical to admit them ; let him regard it as extremely probable that the Supreme Being would interpose for our spiritual relief; and then

* We gladly avail ourselves of the author's permission to lay the entire discourse before our readers. — Ed.

I say, that he must feel the evidence, actually offered, to be ample and overwhelming. It is not from the weakness of the proof, but from the strength of the presumption against it, that it fails of producing conviction.

That there is this presumption against miracles, I hardly need say. It appears in many forms. There has always been a prejudice of this nature lurking in the bosom of science. The doctrine of philosophical necessity seems to me to proceed from the same source, though I am aware that its advocates do not deny the Christian attestation to those facts which we denominate miraculous. The modern system of German Rationalism is a standing and recorded proof of the same presumption against miracles. Nay, with some writers it has amounted to an assertion of the essential incredibility of such facts. * And where it falls short of this, it is still a

The essential incredibility of miracles, the impossibility indeed of such occurrences, has lately been argued by an English writer, the author of “ Essays on the Pursuit of Truth,” in the Third Essay. “It is the old argument of Mr. Humne; but it is presented with great clearness, in a manner at once very calm and imposing, and without any of those terms that would indicate its purpose, or any consideration of the answers that have been, and may be, given to it.

The course of the author's argument is as follows. In the first place, he maintains that all reasoning, belief, and knowledge depend on the uniformity of causation; in other words, upon the regular succession of antecedents and consequents. That most of them do, is doubtless true. We could not anticipate the future nor interpret the past, but upon the supposition that the same principles have been, and will be in operation, that are now. But whether there is no other basis or source of belief, is the question. Most philosophers have persuaded themselves that the world had a beginning, - an event which quite breaks in upon their order of sequences.

In the next place, the author maintains that our belief in the uniformity of causation is instinctive, original, ultimate, and irresistible in the mind. That a general sense of preference of order is so, I believe; and that experience working upon this, or without it, must create a very strong conviction of the regularity of nature, is obvious; but whether any thing more than this is true, I must doubt.

But I am willing to give the argument the benefit, on both points, of any doubts that do not involve a begging of the question, and come at once to the conclusion. The question, then, of miracles is brought to the point of conflicting testimonies. Nature, on the one hand, testifies, it is said, to undeviating regularity. Change, then, is impossible. Man's testimony, too, is valuable, and has its regularity as truly as nature ; but it is more liable to be mistaken, or we are more liable to mistake its marks, and therefore it can never counterbalance the testimony of nature. Therefore a miracle is impossible; and the belief in it, absurd.

This argument proves too much. For suppose now that I acquiesce secret reluctance to receive them. And I think this reluctance has some unusual developement among many reflecting persons in this country, at the present moment. It is seen in the disposition of many to turn from the miracles to what they call the internal evidence. It is not uncommon in society to hear the miracles spoken of slightly. There is in every age, a

in the conclusion, and quietly take my seat in this pinfold of philosophy, what does this argument suppose me to say ? Or what does the skeptic say, who strives to lift his head high enough (but cannot) above the machinery of causes, to declare their laws, and processes, and bounds ?

In the first place, he says that God Almighty either cannot change the course of things, though he should please to do it, or else that He will not please to do it. For the reader will observe, that such a change is pronounced, without qualification, impossible! To know so much of the Omniscient purpose,

- to know so little of the Omnipotent power, - presents a solecism in which it is difficult to tell whether the ignorance or the presumption is the most extraordinary.

In the second place, this argument would prove that the world and the universe are eternal. They could never have begun, they can never cease to exist ; for either fact would be a deviation from the uniformity of causation. In the one case, there would be a consequent without any regular antecedent. In the other, an antecedent without any regular consequent. Nay, since the author holds that there is the same unchangeable order of sequences in the intellectual as in the physical world, the race of men can have, in his theory, neither beginning nor end. In short, this assumption seems to me to be compatible with nothing but Atheism. If there be no Power superior to nature, none that can interfere with its processes, then perhaps it is fair to infer that its processes must go on unchanged and unchangeable. But if there is a God, the possibility of change is equal to his power; it is unbounded and unquestionable.

In the third place, the argument proves too much, because it goes beyond all reasonable and known bounds of skepticism. The author who says to his fellow-men,“ You cannot justly believe in a miracle ; the thing is impossible, and faith is impossible,” transcends the bounds of all human experience, if not of all human patience. Because almost all men, who have ever lived, have believed in miracles. And is not the very question before us, in fact, a question about experience ? Could all 'men have believed in miracles, if, as our author contends, an original and fundamental law of the mind forbade their believing in them? Is it not as unphilosophical, as it is intolerable, to say that all mankind have been found believing in a thing which is plainly impossible? What is meant by its being impossible? That God cannot perform it? I will not impute to any one the intentional blasphemy of such an averment. Is it meant, then, that it is impossible that we should be. lieve it? But we do believe it. We can believe it. All men do and can; all but the few, the very few who agree with our author. Is there any remaining idea, then, that can be attached to the word impossible ? I know of none.

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