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then, from a council to the Trinity, fails. And it does not follow, that because the neuter pronoun it cannot properly be applied to the Trinity, that therefore there is no Trinity of equal Persons in the Godhead. Such objections are fallacious.
The term Godhead being repeatedly used, instead of the word God, has with me the weight of an argument, in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity. Why should it be so used, unless to indicate a plu. rality of Persons in God ? Should we not conceive, that the word Theos, God, would be more proper to have been uniformly used, than to have Theiotees, Godhead, introduced, if God consisted of but one Person? It seems the Assembly of Di. vines at Westminster, conceived there was some weight in this argument. They therefore say, " How many Persons are there in the Godhead ? There are three Persons in the Godhead, the Fa. ther, Son and Holy Ghost, and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and in glory. .
Very early in the Bible, we find who these Three in the Godhead are; their number ; and their names : They are God, the Spirit of the Lord and the Person predicted to appear as the woman's Seed. These three are found, under different names, through the Bible. In the last chapter of Revelation, they are “God, the Lamb, and the Spirit.” In innumerable passages they are, the Father, Son, and Boy Gliost; the Father, the Word and the Froly Ghost; God, Christ, and the Comforter. Thus under different names they are known. They are spoken to, and spoken of, as Three; yet each really God; and each the only God; So that they are not three Gods, but one God.
Read the divine commission of baptism. “Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” is not this calculated to evince that there are indeed three divine Persons in the Godhead? Why are the subjects of baptism, in this standing, sealing ordinance of God's kingdom, baptized in the name of the Fa. ther, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, if there be not these three divine Persons in the Godhead? This commission of baptism is indeed calculated to contirm this doctrine. The name is one; the Persons possessing it are three ; - in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Who can say, that here is not a Trinity of equal Persons in one God?
The same Trinity we find in the apostolic benediction. “ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." Who are the Three here found? Can it be admitted, that one of them, viz. the second mentioned, is the one only Person of the living God; another, viz. the first mentioned, is a totally distinct Being, a derived, and a constituted God; and the third is a Person only in figure? The real God; a real creature; and a nonentity, or the energy of God personified! Is this the Trinity, or the Godhead, of whom the church have read in their Bibles from ancient date? What is there mysterious in such a Trinity ? Is it not the easiest idea concern. ing God imaginable ? Does it not appear like having" by searching found out God ?". Why then should Christ any longer be called Wonderful? or be said to have a name which no man knoweth but himself ?" Rev. xix. 12. Why should it any longer stand in our Bible, that " Without controversy, great is the mystery of you.
Liness ; God was manifest in the flesh.?99 And why may we not presume to bring every thing, rel. ative to God, down to the level of our own conceptions ? « Vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.”
In 1 John, v. 7, 8, we have the doctrine, of the Trinity in unity of the Godhead, clearly ascertained. "For there are three, that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness on earth; the Spirit, the water and the blood; and these three agree in one." If we be willing that God should decide this point, and willing to abide his decision ; it certainly appears here to be decided, in larguage the most positive.*
* I am not insensible, that the authenticity of this first verse, relative to the three heavenly witnesses, is by some called in question; it being wanting in numbers of ancient Greek manuscripts. As our opponents have triumphed in the supposition of their having proved the want of authenticity in this text; and as I believe in its authenticity; I must be excused in the length of this note, in exhibiting the grounds of my confidence, that this text was in the original Epistle of St. John.
1. This verse is found in the Latin fathers, of an early date; as we learn in Panoplist for May, 1811, page 534. The Latin was the language of the Romans, the masters of the world, at the commencement of the Christian era. In the third century, (a much earlier date than were any of the present Greek MSS. written) referenee is found, in the writings of the noted Cyprian, to this verse. In the fifth century, quotations are made from it by Fulgentius, and the authors of the African Confession. In the sixth century, Cassiodorus makes use of this text: And in the eighth, Etherius, and Beatus. Where did these early fathers find this text, if not in the writings of St. John ? Cyprian suffered martyrdom, a little after the middle of the third century, under Valerian. He hegan his public ministry, not much more than a century after the death of St. John. Did he not know the writings of this apostle? Apd could such a man as Cyprian add, or diminish, and this too relative to so material a point, in the word of God? There were adversaries enougla to this ductrine of the Trinity, to have detected such an interpolation, had Cyprian, or any man been disposed perversely to
Relative to these heavenly witnesses, we read; John viii. 17,4" It is also written in your law, that the testimonies of two men is true.” Christ
insert this text. After the noted Arius of the fourth century arose, denying the Tripity, and the divinity of Christ, had Ful. gentius, and the authors of the African Confession, quoted this text without proper authority, it would have been ascertained, and cundemned. The silence of the Arians upon this point, implies, that they could not controvert the authenticity of the quotation.
Further. In a letter from the accomplished scholar Charles Butler, Esq. (in the second volume of his Horæ Biblicæ) to Dr. Marsh, is contained evidence, of vast weight, relative to thi point. The letter is given in the aforementioned Panoplist. I will here insert it. :
“ TO THE REV. HERBERT MARSH: Dear Sir-When I had last the pleasure of your company, I mentioned to you that I thought the argument in favor of the verse of The Three Heavenly Witnesses, or 1 John, chap. 5, v. 7, from the Confession of Faith presented by the Catholic Bishops to Huneric in 484, had not been sufficiently attended to: I now beg leave to trouble you with my thoughts upon it. I shall first copy Mr. Archdeacon Travis's account of it, from his letters to Mr. Gibbon, 3d edit. p. 57.
In A. D. 484, an assembly of African Bishops was convened at Carthage by King Huneric the Vandal and the Arian. The style of the edict, issued by Huneric on this occasion, seems *worthy of notice. He therein requires the orthodox Bishops of his dr pinions to attend the council thus convened, there to defend by the Scriptures the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, against certain Arian opponents. At the time appointed, nearly four hundred bishops attended this council, from the various provinces of Africa, and from the isles of the Mediterranean sea ; at the head of whom stood the venerable Eugenius, bishop of Carthage. The public professions of Huneric promised a fair and candid discussion of the Divinity of Jesus Christ; but it soon appeared that his private intentions were to compel, by force, the vindicators of that belief to submit to the tenets of Arianism. For when Eugenius, with his anti-Arian prelates, entered the room of consultation, they found Cyrila, their chief antagonist, seated on a kind of throne, attended by his Arian coadjutors, and surrounded by armed men; who quickly, instead of waiting to hear the reasonings of their opponents, offered violence to their persons. Convinced
then proceeds to adduce two witnesses,--the number demanded in their law. “I am one, that bear witness of myself; and the Father that sentine
by this application of force that no deference would be paid to argument, Eugenius and his prelates withdrew from the council-room ; but not without leaving behind them a protest, in which, (among other passages of Scripture) this verse of St. John is thus especially insisted upon, in vindication of the belief to which they adhered.-Thai it may appear more clear than the light, that the Divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one, see it proved by the Evangelist St. John, who writes thus : There are three which bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one. . This remarkable fact appears to be alone amply decisive as to the originality of the Verse in question. The manner in which it happened seems to carry irresistible conviction with it. It was not a thing done in a corner, a transaction of solitude or obscurity. It passed in the metropolis of the kingdom, in the court of the reigning prince, in the face of opponents, exasperated by controversy, and proud of royal support, and in the presence of the whole congregated African church. Nor is the time, when this trausaction happened, less powerfully cong vincing than its manner. Not much more than three centuries had elapsed from the death of St. John, when this solemn appeal was thus made to the authority of This Verse. Had the Verse been forged by Eugenius and his bishops, all Christian Africa would have exclaimed at once against them. Had it even been considered as of doubtful original, their adversaries the Arians, thus publicly attacked by this protest, would have loudly challenged the authenticity of the Verse, and would have refused to be in any respect concluded by its evidence. But nothing of this kind intervened. Cyrila and his associates received its testimony in sullen silence; and by that silence admitted it to have proceeded from the pen of St. John.* With great respect, dear Sir, I am, &c.
CHARLES BUTLER. January 7, 1306."
The transaction here related by Mr. Travis, was at an ear. lier date, than was the writing of any Greek MSS. of the New Testament now extant. For none of them are, by the best judges, carried back to the fifth century. That transaction then, must give more weight of evidence in favor of the divine
* For the remaining part of the letter, see Panoplist, volume üjj. New Series, page 540.