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first verse of the 45th Psalm. The argument founded upon this disappears altogether in our common version, which renders it: "My heart is inditing a good matter." But the word in the Septuagint corresponding to matter in the common version is Logos; and the Fathers understood the passage thus: My heart is throwing out a good Logos. A proof that the second person in the Trinity became incarnate, was found in Proverbs ix. 1: "Wisdom hath builded her house"; † for the second person, or the Son, was regarded in the theology of the times as the Wisdom of the Father. These are merely specimens taken from many of a similar character, a number more of which may be found in the work of Whitby just referred to in the margin. Since the first introduction of the doctrine, the mode of its defence has been continually changing. As more just notions respecting the criticism and interpretation of the Scriptures have slowly made their way, one passage after another has been dropped from the Trinitarian roll. Some which are retained by one expositor are given up by another. Even two centuries ago, Calvin threw away or depreciated the value of many texts, which most Trinitarians would think hardly to be spared. ‡
* Dissertatio de S. Scripturarum Interpretatione secundum Patrum Commentarios, p. 75.
† Ibid., p. 92.
[Thus, for example, in his note on John x. 30, "I and my Father are one," Calvin says: "The ancients improperly used this passage to prove that Christ is of the same substance with the Father. For
There are very few of any importance in the controversy, the Orthodox exposition of which has not been abandoned by some one or more of the principal Trinitarian critics among Protestants.* Among Catholics, there are many by whom it is rather affirmed than conceded, that the doctrine of the Trinity is not to be proved from the Scriptures, but rests for its support upon the tradition of the Church.
WHENCE, then, was the doctrine of the Trinity derived? The answer to this question is impor tant. Reason and Scripture have borne their testimony against the doctrine; and I am now about to call another witness, Ecclesiastical History.
he is not speaking of a unity of substance, but of his agreement (consensu) with the Father; implying that whatever he does will be confirmed by the Father's power." - Opp. VI. P. II. 103.
It may be observed, that the earlier Christian Fathers who treat of this passage do not explain it in the manner which is censured by Calvin. They understood the word "one," which is in the neuter gender in the original, as denoting, not a unity of nature, but of will and affection, a moral unity; referring for this use of language to other passages of Scripture, as John xvii. 11, 21-23; Acts iv. 32; 1 Cor. iii. 8, &c. So Tertullian, Advers. Praxeam, c. 22; Novatian, De Trinitate, c. 27; Origen, Cont. Celsum, Lib. VIII. c. 12, Opp. I. 750, 751; Comm. in Joannem, Tom. xiii. c. 36, Opp. IV. 245; and elsewhere. See also the citations from Hippolytus, Alexander of Alexandria, and Eusebius, in Jackson's notes on Novatian, pp. 368, The passage is understood in a similar manner by Erasmus, Grotius, Bp. Pearce, Abp. Newcome, Bp. Middleton, Knapp, Rosenmüller, Kuinoel, Stuart, Schleusner, Wahl, and Robinson.]
[For abundant proof of this fact, see Wilson's "Concessions of Trinitarians," Manchester, Eng., and Boston, U. S., 1845. 8vo.]
ON THE ORIGIN OF THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.
WE can trace the history of this doctrine, and discover its source, not in the Christian revelation, but in the Platonic philosophy;* which was the prevalent philosophy during the first ages after the introduction of Christianity, and of which all the more eminent Christian writers, the Fathers as they are called, were, in a greater or less degree, disciples. They, as others have often done, blended their philosophy and their religion into one complex and heterogeneous system; and taught the doctrines of the former as those of the latter. In this manner, they introduced errors into the popular faith. "It is an old complaint of learned men," says Mosheim, "that the Fathers, or teachers of the ancient church, were too much inclined to the philosophy of Plato, and rashly confounded what was taught by that philosopher with the doctrines of Christ, our Saviour; in consequence of which, the religion of Heaven was greatly corrupted, and
I state the proposition in this general form, in which the authorities to be adduced directly apply to it. But it is to be observed, that the doctrine of the personality of the Logos, and of his divinity, in an inferior sense of that term, which was the germ of the Trinity, was immediately derived from Philo, the Jewish Plato as he has been called, which fact I shall hereafter have occasion to advert to.
the truth much obscured." This passage is from the Dissertation of Mosheim, Concerning the Injury done to the Church by the Later Platonists. In the same Dissertation, after stating some of the obstructions thrown in the way of Christianity by those of the later Platonists who were its enemies, he proceeds to say: "But these evils were only external, and although they were injurious to our most holy religion, and delayed its progress, yet they did not corrupt its very nature, and disease, if I may so speak, its vitals. More fatal distempers afflicted Christianity, after this philosophy had entered the very limits of the sacred city, and had built a habitation for herself in the minds of those to whom the business of instruction was committed. There is nothing, the most sacred in our faith, which from that time was not profaned, and did not lose a great part of its original and natural form." "Few of the learned," he adds in another place, "are so unacquainted with ecclesiastical history, as to be ignorant what a great number of errors, and most preposterous opinions, flowed in from this impure source." Among the false doctrines thus introduced from the Platonic philosophy is to be reckoned, pre-eminently, that of the Trinity. Gibbon says, with a sneer, that "the Athenian sage [Plato] marvellously anticipated one of the most surprising discoveries of the
* Mosheim, De turbatâ per recentiores Platonicos Ecclesiâ Commentatio, § vi.
Ibid., § xxxiii. ‡ Ibid., § xlviii.
fined, and unsettled; which, by now assuming one shape and then another, elude the grasp of reason. In disproving from the Scriptures the proposition that Christ is God, the arguments that have been urged, I trust, bear upon it in any Trinitarian sense which it may be imagined to express. But what does a Trinitarian mean by this proposition? Let us assume that the title "Son of God," applied to Christ, denotes, in some sense or other, proper essential divinity. But the Son is but one of three who constitute God. You may substitute after the numerals the word person, or distinction, or any other; it will not affect the argument. God is a being; and when you have named Christ or the Son, you have not, according to the doctrine of the Trinity, named all which constitutes this being. The Trinitarian asserts that God exists in three persons; or, to take the wholly unimportant modification of the doctrine that some writers have attempted to introduce, that "God is three in a certain respect." But Christ, it is also affirmed, is God, the Son is God. Does he, then, exist in three persons? Is he three in a certain respect? Unquestionably not. The word "God" is used in two senses. In one case, as applied to the Supreme Being, properly, in the only sense which a Christian can recognize as the literal sense of the term; in the other case, as applied to Christ, though professedly in the same, yet clearly and necessarily in a different signification, no one can tell what.
Again: the Father is God.
Nothing can be