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lieved. They involve manifest contradictions, and no man can believe what he perceives to be a contradiction. In what has been already said, I have not been bringing arguments to disprove these doctrines; I have merely been showing that they are intrinsically incapable of any proof whatever; for a contradiction cannot be proved;- that they are of such a character, that it is impossible to bring arguments in their support, and unnecessary to adduce arguments against them.
HERE, then, we might rest. If this proposition. have been established, the controversy is at an end, as far as it regards the truth of the doctrines, and as far as it can be carried on against us by any sect of Christians. Till it can be shown that there is some ESSENTIAL mistake in the preceding statements, he who chooses to urge that these doctrines were taught by Christ and his Apostles must do this, not as a Christian, but as an unbeliever. If Christ and his Apostles communicated a revelation from God, these could make no part of it, for a revelation from God cannot teach absurdities.
But here I have no intention of resting. If I were to do so, I suppose that the old, unfounded complaint would be repeated once more, that those who reject these doctrines oppose reason to revelation; for there are men who seem unable to comprehend the possibility that the doctrines of their sect may make no part of the Christian revelation. What pretence, then, is there for asserting that the doctrines in question are taught in the
Scriptures? Certainly they are nowhere expressly taught. It cannot even be pretended that they are. There is not a passage from one end of the Bible to the other on which one can by any violence force such a meaning as to make it affirm the proposition, "that there are three persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory"; or the proposition that Christ "was and continues to be God and man in two distinct natures and one person for ever." There was a famous passage in the First Epistle of John (v. 7), which was believed to affirm something like the first-mentioned proposition; but this every man of tolerable learning and fairness, at the present day, acknowledges to be spurious. And now this is gone, there is not one to be discovered of a similar character. THERE IS NOT A PASSAGE TO BE FOUND IN THE SCRIPTURES WHICH CAN BE IMAGINED TO AFFIRM EITHER OF THOSE DOCTRINES THAT HAVE BEEN REPRESENTED AS BEING AT THE VERY FOUNDATION OF CHRISTIANITY.
What pretence, then, is there for saying that those doctrines were taught by Jesus Christ and are to be received upon his authority? What ground is there for affirming that he, being a man, announced himself as the infinite God, and taught his followers also that God exists in three persons? But I will state a broader question. What pretence is there for saying that those doctrines were
* [Westminster Assembly's Shorter Catechism, Answers 6 and 21.]
taught by any writer, Jewish or Christian, of any book of the Old or New Testament? None whatever; - if, in order to prove that a writer has taught a doctrine, it be necessary to produce some passage in which he has affirmed that doctrine.
What mode of reasoning, then, is adopted by Trinitarians? I answer, that, in the first place, they bring forward certain passages, which, they maintain, prove that Christ is God. With these passages they likewise bring forward some others, which are supposed to intimate or prove the personality and deity of the Holy Spirit. It cannot but be observed, however, that, for the most part, they give themselves comparatively little trouble about the latter doctrine, and seem to regard it as following almost as a matter of course, if the former be established. Now there is no dispute that the Father is God; and it being thus proved that the Son and Spirit are each also God, it is inferred, not that there are three Gods, which would be the proper consequence, but that there are three persons in the Divinity. But Christ having been. proved to be God, and it being at the same time regarded by Trinitarians as certain that he was a man, it is inferred also that he was both God and The stress of the argument, it thus appears, bears upon the proposition that Christ is God, the second person in the Trinity.
Turning away our view, then, for the present, from the absurdities that are involved in this proposition, or with which it is connected, we will proceed to inquire, as if it were capable of proof, what Christ and his Apostles taught concerning it.
THE PROPOSITION, THAT CHRIST IS GOD, PROVED TO BE FALSE FROM THE SCRIPTURES.
LET us examine the Scriptures in respect to the fundamental doctrine of Trinitarianism; I mean, particularly, the Christian Scriptures; for the evidence which they afford will render any consideration of the Old Testament unnecessary.
I. In the first place, then, I conceive, that, putting every other part of Scripture out of view, and forgetting all that it teaches, this proposition is clearly proved to be false by the very passages which are brought in its support. We have already had occasion to advert to the character of some of these passages, and I shall now remark upon them a little more fully. They are supposed to prove that Christ is God in the highest sense, equal to the Father. Let us see what they really prove.
One of them is that in which our Saviour prays: "And now, Father, glorify thou me with thyself, with that glory which I had with thee before the world was." John xvii. 5.
The being who prayed to God to glorify him, CANNOT be God.
The first verse of John needs particular explanation, and I shall hereafter recur to it. I will here
only observe, that if by the term Logos be meant, as Trinitarians believe, an intelligent being, a person, and this person be Christ, then the person who was WITH God could not have been God, except in a metaphorical or secondary acceptation of the terms, or, as some commentators have supposed, in an inferior sense of the word cós (God), -it being used not as a proper, but as a common
In John v. 22, it is said, according to the common version, "The Father judgeth no man; but hath committed all judgment unto the Son." "The Father judgeth no man, that is, without the Son," says a noted Orthodox commentator, Gill, "which is a proof of their equality." A proof of their equality! What, is it God to whom all judgment is committed by the Father?
We proceed to Colossians i. 15, &c., and here the first words which we find declare, that the being spoken of is "the image of the Invisible God." Is it possible that any one can believe, that God is affirmed by the Apostle to have been the image of God?
Turn now to Philippians ii. 5-8. Here, according to the modern Trinitarian exposition,* we are told, that Christ, who was God, as the passage is brought to prove, did not regard his equality with God as an object of solicitous desire, but humbled himself, and submitted to death, even
[The exposition and translation of Professor Stuart are here referred to. See his Letters to Dr. Channing, p. 93.]