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require to be examined anew from its foundation, and discussed in a manner very different from what it has been. Religion must be taken, I will not say out of the hands of priests, - that race is passing away, but out of the hands of divines, such as the generality of divines have been; and its exposi tion and defence must become the study of philosophers, as being the highest philosophy. Some degree of attention to the fact is necessary, to be aware of the general and gross ignorance that exists concerning almost every subject connected with our faith. But they
who would communicate the instruction which is so much needed, must expect to be continually impeded and resisted by prejudice and misapprehension. Let them, however, understand their task and qualify themselves for it. In the present state of opinion in the world, it is evident that he is assuming a responsibility for which he is wholly unfit, who comes forward as a teacher or defender of Christianity, without having prepared himself by serious thought and patient study. The traditionary believer, if he have taken this responsibility upon himself, should stop in his course, till he has ascertained whether he is doing good or evil. A conflict between re
ligion and irreligion has begun, which may not soon be ended; and in this conflict, Christianity must look for aid, not to zealots, but to scholars and philosophers. Our age is not one in which there can be an esoteric doctrine for the intelligent, and an exoteric for the uninformed. The public profession of systems of faith by Christian nations and churches, which are not the faith of the more enlightened classes of society, has produced a state of things that, it would seem, cannot long continue. We may hope that in Protestant countries its result will not be, as it was in France, general infidelity. We may hope that it will not end in a mere struggle between fanaticism and irreligion, as seems to be the tendency of things in some parts of our own country. But these results can be prevented only by awakening men's minds to inquire, What Christianity is? How far it has been misrepresented? What are its evidences? What is its value? And what is to be done to remove those errors which now deprive it of its power?
STATEMENT OF REASONS.
PURPOSE OF THIS WORK.
I PROPOSE, in what follows, to give a view of the doctrines of Trinitarians respecting the nature of God and the person of Christ; to state the reasons for not believing those doctrines; and to show in what manner the passages of Scripture urged in their support ought to be regarded.
THE PROPER MODERN DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY CONTRADICTORY IN TERMS TO THAT OF THE UNITY OF GOD.— FORMS IN WHICH THE DOCTRINE HAS BEEN STATED, WITH REMARKS. THE DOCTRINE THAT CHRIST IS BOTH GOD AND MAN, A CONTRADICTION IN TERMS.— NO PRETENCE THAT EITHER DOCTRINE IS EXPRESSLY TAUGHT THE MODE OF THEIR SUPPOSED
IN THE SCRIPTURES.
PROOF WHOLLY BY WAY OF INFERENCE.
THE proper modern doctrine of the Trinity, as it appears in the creeds of latter times, is, that there are three persons in the Divinity, who equally possess all divine attributes; and the doctrine is connected with an explicit statement that there is but one God. Now, this doctrine is to be rejected, because, taken in connection with that of the unity of God, it is essentially incredible; one which no man, who has compared the two doctrines together with right conceptions of both, ever did or ever could believe. Three persons, each equally possessing divine attributes, are three Gods. A person is a being. No one who has any correct notion of the meaning of words will deny this. And the being who possesses divine attributes must be God or a God. The doctrine of the Trinity, then, affirms that there are three Gods.
It is affirmed at the same time, that there
is but one God. But no one can believe that there are three Gods, and that there is but one God.
This statement is which can be made.
as plain and obvious as any But it is not the less forcible
because it is perfectly plain and obvious. Some Trinitarians have indeed remonstrated against charging those who hold the doctrine with the "ABSURDITIES consequent upon the language of their creed"; and have asserted that in this creed the word person is not used in its proper sense. I do not answer to this, that, if men will talk absurdity, and insist that they are teaching truths of infinite importance, it is unreasonable for them to expect to be understood as meaning something wholly different from what their words express. The true answer is, that these complaints are unfounded; and that the proper doctrine of the Trinity, as it has existed in latter times, is that which is expressed by the language used taken in its obvious sense. By person, says Waterland, than whom no writer in defence of the Trinity has a higher reputation, "I certainly mean a real Person, an Hypostasis, no Mode, Attribute, or Property...... Each divine Person is an individual, intelligent Agent; but as subsisting in one undivided substance, they are all together, in that respect, but one undivided intelligent Agent. . . . . . The church never professed three Hypostases in any other sense, but as they mean
* The words quoted are from Professor Stuart's Letters to the Rev. W. E. Channing, p. 23, 2d ed.