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ity of Christ without this mark of figu- which the words of inspiration will rative phraseology ? Let the Review- bear an absurd one? To this, we think er answer. “ There are a few texts the Unitarian is driven. A reywhich will bear a Trinitarian mean- elation from heaven has made known ing throughout.” p. 415. Now we to us a great Deliverer from sin and ask, will the text which is supposed to misery, the author of eternal salvation furnish the parallel, bear a literal mea to all them that obey him. “Who ning throughout? Does not every pas- is he then that we may believe on sage adduced by Unitarians as an ex him ?" The Unitarian cannot tell. ample of the inferior use of the word The most important declarations conGod, mark the inferiority of the be- cerning this exalted person, regarded ings spoken of to God, as explicitly as figurative are without meaning, as language can mark it, and therefore and regarded as literal, are absurd require a figurative interpretation. If and incredible. Is this then the revnot, it is to no purpose that the pas- elation which God has given of his sage is adduced as an example. If it Son; or are Unitarians in the interpredoes, then the question is, does every tation of the sacred oracles chargeable passage in which the word is applied with a perversion of reason? to Christ mark with the same pre
e are now prepared to consider cision his inferiority ? “ There are a the third principle which the Reviewfew texts which will bear a Trinitari- er has laid down respecting the interan meaning throughout;" of course pretation of Trinitarian texts ; viz. the alleged parallelism utterly fails that Trinitarians are bound to prove In the ove case the inferiority of the negatively, that it is impossible they beings called gods is distinctly asser should have been used in any other ted, and therefore the texts will not than a Trinitarian meaning ; that the bear a literal interpretation. In the words will bear but one sepse, and other there is not an intimation of the that this is the only sense which they inferiority of the being called God, could have been used to express. and of course the text will not bear We readily accept the task assigned a figurative meaning.
us, and affirm the impossibility deThus we have shown, if we are not manded by the Reviewer. We maindeceived, that the first principle of tain it on two grounds; first, that Unitarian interpretation is wholly ir- there is not in the passage in question rational in itself, and that it is equally the least legitimate evidence, that the irrational to apply the second to the term God is used in a figurative sense, interpretation of Trinitarian texts. In and that the waut of such evidence is these texts there is not according to decisive that the term is not used figthe concessions of Unitarians them- uratively; and secoudly, that the selves, an intimation that the term term is applied to Christ, with such God is used figuratively. They must adjuncts, that it can have no other therefore concede that the Trinitarian than a literal meaning. meaning if rejected at all, must be re As to the point whether the term jected solely on the ground of its ab 56 will bear but one sense,” if the ensurdity. But what greater absurdity quiry were simply whether like other than this? Who will say that God in terms, it be capable of a figurative revealing to us the character of the use in certain cases, there can be no Saviour of the world, has not used lan- diversity of opinion. But this fact, as guage which is intelligible in every we have shewn, does not affect at all age ? Has he then lett us to reject the the real point at issue. The true and “ obvious sense of that language only question is whether the term will when it is capable of no other sense ? bear a figurative sense when applied Is that language literally interpreted, to Christ, according to the principles absurd, and figuratively interpreted, by which we determine it to have a without meaning? Is the only sease figurative meaning in other cases?
This question we have already an. the scriptures, to understand the term swered, and if rightly, then this door when thus applied in its highest sense. is effectually shut against the Unitari- In prosecuting this object, he has an; for in some instances the term shewn, that the New Testament atGod is applied to Christ, when it tributes to Christ equality with God; will bear no other than the Trinitari- represents him as the Creator, the an sense. It is no more possible Preserver, and Governor of the unithat it should have any other sense, verse; declares his omniscience, his than it is that the inspired writers omnipotence, bis eternity, and exhibshould have adopted a method of its him both by precepts and examwriting which no other writer, who ples, as the object of prayer and diintended to teach truth intelligibly, vine worship, by the church in heavever adopted; a method which en and on earth. He alludes also to deprives language of all definiteness that multitude of texts, which require and precision of meaning, and thus us to love him, to obey him, to conrenders it no longer the vehicle of fide in him and to commit ourselves thought.
to him, in a manner which could not The other ground is that the term be required were he not God. We God is applied to Christ with such now ask what mode of speaking adjuncts, that it is impossible it could be devised which should teach should have any other than a literal the divinity of the Lord Jesus? If to meaning. We here come on to ground call a being God, if to ascribe to him already successfully occupied by Pro- every attribute of God, is to exhibit fessor Stuart, and fully unite with him as performing the works which him in saying;
God only cau perform, if to represent
him as the object of that worship That the very reason above all other which is due only to God, and of all reasons, why I believe Christ to be truly divine, is because the conne.cion, when he is
those acts of holy obedience which called God, ascribes to him such attributes God only can claim, does not desigand works, as leave me no room lo doubl, nate that being as really God, and that the New Testament writers meant to render every other meaning of the assert his proper divinity. pp. 109, 110.
term impossible, we ask how can the It is impossible to do justice to this meaning of language be made certain ? part of Mr. S's. argument, without How do we learn from the Bible that transcribing the whole of his able there is a God? How is he described, letter. This however our limits for. how is he distinguished from all other bid, nor does equity of argumentation beings ? Let it be told in what maddemand it, since neither Mr. C. nor ner this is done which will not dethe Reviewer has attempted to meet cide that the Lord Jesus Christ is the Professor on this ground. The God. presumption is warranted, when they And now, notwithstanding Christ have not even professed to assail the is called God again and again, and main argument of their opponent, after finding every thing said of him that it is unassailable. We shall to designate him as God which we find therefore only recur to its general said of the Father, and when inspira. structure, referring our readers, who tion thus comments on its own declaare willing to see a most luminous and rations, are we to be told that these decisive array of testimony in support declarations may possibly have anothof the divinity of the Saviour, to the er meaning? Is this the manner in whole of Mr. S's third letter.
which the inspired writers use lanMr. Stuart's object is to shew, that guage? Adopt the same principle and the New Testament bestows upon ask what is the doctrine of TrioChrist the appellation of God, accom- itarians—they assert Christ to be panied by such adjuncts as unavoida- God, they ascribe to him divine attribly to lead the honest interpreter of butes, and render to him divine wor
ship, but possibly they intend not to meaning of God confounded and lost affirm that he is God. And here let in a chaos of wanton conjectures ? Unitarians say on what principles Men may adopt such principles, if they ascribe to us the doctrine of they will, but let us not be insulted Christ's divinity, which do not oblige with hearing the mockery of calling them to ascribe it to the inspired it criticism, sound rational criticism. writers. They may say, it is credi But the charge which we haye venble that we should hold absurdities, tured to bring against Unitarians, but not that they should. True, but rests on another fact, of a still more if such language is absurd in our decisive nature. They reject the inouths, why not in theirs ? Are not“ obvious sense” of the divine declathey as responsible for the intelligi- rations, because their reason pronoungible use of language as we, and can ces that sense to be absurd, and this we safely rely on that as a revelation in a case, in which reason knows from God, while we exempt the wri- nothing and can prove nothing. ters of it from the obligation to use Whether the doctrine of the Trinity language intelligibly? Would it be a be absurd is a question of mere phirevelation? Unitarians may pro- losophy or reason. Such at the same dounce the doctrine absurd and con time is the capacity of the human tradictory, but let them not be so mind, that if the absurdity of the docabsurd themselves as to tell us, that trine be as palpable as Unitarians that is a revelation from God which represent it to be, viz. as that three reveals nothing ; nay rather let them Gods are one God, we should expect Bot tell us that God has inspired men at least that a majority of minds to teach us the truth concerning his would perceive the absurdity. How Son; and left them to use language in then has it happened that ninety nine a manner, that could have but one hundredths of the professed followers possible meaning in the mouths of all of Christ have embraced as truth such other men and yet that it has another palpable absurdity ? How is it that possible meaning, in theirs ! Is such Unitarians so clearly discern what a principle authorized by reason ? the rest of the world cannot discover ? Such a principle is indeed as power- We know not that they can make ful and plastic as scepticism and spec- any indisputable claim to superiority ulation and unbelief can desire. It in natural or acquired capacity, or to cannot fail to blot from the sacred any distinguished honesty or diligence page every doctrine, which the cor- in research, which enables them to ruption of the heart, the exigencies of see absurdity to which the rest of the theory, or the pride of false philosophy world are blind. We know not that may demand. If any language and public opinion has awarded them this all language may be pronounced fig- preeminence, nor in short that their urative, and that without a single dis- confident assertions of absurdity are tinctive mark of its being so, if lan- entitled to any more authority over guage be capable in its most perfect the faith of men, that the equally conactual use, of many possible meanings, fident denial of the orthodox. Still if there be no way of determining it 10 it is simply on the authority of their have any definite and certain import, reason that we are called upon to be and if any what-you-please, inter- lieve that the doctrine of the Trinity pretations may be given of it, of what is absurd. Before we do this, we real value are the eterval oracles to shall be free to enquire how much man? What is a book from God Unitarians infallibly know on the subhimself worth, which conveys by no ject and also how much they can laws of interpretation, the least defin- prove. ite meaning? And what are the 1. Do Unitarians infallibly know laws of interpretation by which the that the doctrine of the Trinity is abvoice of God is thus silenced, and the surd. Mere assertion in argument, Vol. 3.- No. IV.
unless it contain a self-evident truth knowledge does not extend. Sup. is entitled to no weight. The point pose then that we should affirm, that then is whether the doctrine be a self- in the essence of God there is a threeevident absurdity, i. e. is it seen by fold distinction, which constitutes disthe mind to be absurd, with the same tinct personality.
tinct personality. This affirmation intuition that we see that a part is not concerning the essence of God, the equal to the whole, or that two and Reviewer does not know to be false two are not five. We grant, if the according to his own confession ; for doctrine were that God is one and three he says “ of the nature of any being in the same sense; or that he is one in we can know nothing but by the propevery possible sense, and yet three in erties or attributes of that being.” some other sense, it would be a self- Does the Unitarian then possess such evident absurdity. But such is not the infallible knowledge respecting what doctrine. Trinitarians hold no such constitutes the whole nature of the ideas; they utterly disclaim them. infinite Being, that no evidence of Unitarians in all their attempts to miracles could convince him, that prove such a doctrine to be absurd, there is a threefold mode of existence (and we never knew them attempt to in the Godhead, which is a foundation prove absurdity on any other) have for a threefold personal distinction? all the glory of a triumph. But they Has he sent his penetrating glance touch not the doctrine of the Trioity. around and through the essence and This doctrine is that God is one in attributes of the self-existent and infisome sense and three in some other nite God, and so exactly surveyed sense. Now we affirm that absurdity the lines and limits and nature and can no more be charged on the doc- mode of his existence, as to know by trine thus stated, than on the proposi- such discoveries that God is one in tion that husband and wife are one in every possible sense ? Has Mr. C. some sense and two in some other done this ? Has the Reviewer done sense. We adduce this example sim- it? Why then do they talk as if they ply to shew that when we affirm that had ? Why do they affirm what can, God 'is one in some sense, we do and what cannot be true of the mode not contradict the affirmation that he of the divine existence, with the same is three in some other sense; "the boldness and confidence as had they terms being used in senses not really actually found out the Almighty to opposed to each other.” We “bring perfection? It is presumption, dartogether no ideas which are incom- ing presumption; nor shall we hesitpatible with each other." And we ate to pronounce it such, until they say that nothing but absolute stupidi- prove to us that they have the same ty can fail to see that such is the fact, knowledge of God, which God has of and nothing but wiltul perverseness himself. It is to no purpose to tell can resuse to conless it. The Re- us that the doctrine of the Trinity viewer has as we have seen virtually seems to them to be a contradiction made this confession.
that they think it is a contradiction. Again if the statement of the doc. Of what authority are the opinions trine involves no absurdity, there is and conjectures of mere ignorance? but one other way in which the doc- Do they know it to be a contradiction? trine can be known to be absurd; We put this question to the conscience, viz. by actual knowledge that God is and claim an answer without equivoone in every possible sense. This cation. discovery if Unitarians have made it, 2. We enquire whether Unitarians and can prove that they have made can prove the doctrine of the Trinity it, is to their purpose. On the con- to be absurd. This Mr. C. has at. trary, if they have not made it, then tempted, and has we fully believe givthey do not know that God is not en to the argument all its plausibility three in some sense to which their and force. We have already given
this argument on pp. 132, 133. The when God, in a well attested revelareader will see if he will recur to it, tion, affirms that it shall be raised inchat its whole strength lies in the phi- corruptible. So, reasoning from the losophical principle, that difference commonly received principles of phiof properties, 'acts and consciousness losophy, we should never come to the is proof of different beings. Now letbelief of a Trinity. But what are we it be conceded that the representation to believe should God in a well atteswhich Mr. C. has made of the doctrine ted revelation and according to the of the Trinity is just; viz. that the only true principles of interpreting properties, acts and consciousness of language, deny the soundness of our one of the sacred persons of the Trin- reasonings, and declare the personal ity are not those of another. Let it plurality
of the Godhead. be also conceded, that difference of But says Mr. C. “if these things properties, acts and consciousness is, do not imply and constitute threein all other cases, satisfactory proof of beings we are utterly at a loss to know different beings. The argument then how three-beings are to be formed.” is merely analogical, i. e. since it is We have no doubt of the truth of his admitted that difference of properties confession. And what if Mr. C. and &c. proves difference of being with re- his brethren are utterly at a loss to spect to creatures, therefore difference know how three beings are to be forof properties &c. in the persons of the med in any other way than that here Godhead proves that there are different supposed. We have no doubt of beings in the Trinity. This is the whole their ignorance on this point and we force of Mr. C's.argument, and it lies are glad to hear them confess it ; and in the assumption that what we believe what does their ignorance prove ? of the mode of created existence, must The fact that Unitarians are "at a be true of the mode of God's existence. loss” on this subject, is just what we We feel constrained to ask can any are attempting to shew, a fact which man of ordinary intelligence and up- surely is entitled to no weight in an rightness rely on a conclusion which argument, which is to set aside the othrests solely on the assumption, that erwise acknowledged import of the nothing more substantially pertains to words of God. Does Mr. C. krou the nature of the self-existent God, what constitutes a being? What if God chan what pertains to the nature of should declare something to be true man ? But this assumption is all the on this subject, which no philosopher proof that Mr. C. has furnished that has hitherto thought of, or that somethe doctrine of the Trinity is absurd. thing, contrary to what Mr. C. sup.
But we will further concede that poses, besides properties, acts and from the mere light of nature, or from consciousness, enters into the constiwhat we know of the mode of cre- tution of a being. What, then, beated existence generally, we should comes of Mr. C.'s philosophy, and the bave probable evidence that God does confident conclusions founded upon not exist in three persons. Such ev- it? What does reason now say? Does idence however as we have seen, (es- it say that he is authorized to argue pecially if we reflect that it would from what he does not know, against consist merely in the want of evi- what God declares ? Does it tell him dence to support the contrary opiri- still to rely on the decisions of his ion may be easily and wholly set philosophy, or rather on his acknowlaside by opposing evidence. Thus edged ignorance, and, on such authoin reasoning merely from what we rity, to reject what would otherwise be know of the tendency of the human the plain import of the divine declabody to dissolution, we should con- rations? Or does reason say, nothing clude that it would never be resusci- can be more true than the declarations tated from the dust to which it returns. of the God of truth, and nothing more But how stands our belief on this point rational than to believe what he re