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of illustrating this doctrine, you would, I doubt not, think it no inconsiderable advantage to your argument. And who can tell what may be the result of the close attention that you propose to give to your great work, in all the time that you may think proper to bestow upon it?
You say, that "the authority of all the three is the same, their power equal, their persons undivided, and their glory one." But if you do not use words without ideas, and which convey no more meaning than Datisi, Bocardo, Ferison, in logic, you must have some notion in your own mind in what sense the proposition to which you give your assent may be true; for otherwise you must think that it may be false; so that disquisitions concerning the mode or manner which you reprobate so strongly, are absolutely unavoidable, for the satisfaction of your own mind.
All particular propositions are reducible to abstract ones, and those abstract ones are predicable of other particulars. Now, if it be true that three divine persons may make only one God, it must be true in general, that three may be one, and also in the same sense, if each of the divine persons want nothing to make them perfect God. But is this abstract proposition true of any thing else?
This reasoning all Protestants urge against the doctrine of Transubstantiation. For if it be true, that the sacramental bread may take the substance of flesh, and yet retain every property of bread, the substance of other things may also be changed, while the properties remain unchanged; but if no such change can be made to appear probable, in any other instance, you justly reject the supposition universally. In the same manner, I will undertake to shew that, on whatever principles you can defend the doctrine of the Trinity, I can, mutatis mutandis, defend that of Transubstantiation. Take your own choice of arguments from reason, or from the Scriptures.
With respect to several of your arguments from the Scriptures, (on which, as you reject all arguments from reason, you justly lay so much stress,) instead of giving us the plain words of Scripture, you give your own arbitrary construction of it.
By the being baptized in the name of God," you say, "can be meant no less than entering into covenant with a person, as God; professing faith in him as such; enlisting one's self into his service; and vowing all obedience and
supra, p. 325, Note.
+ Sermons, p. 37. (P.) Works, VI. p. 87.
submission to him. Such is the natural, the obvious import of this rite, by which we are admitted into the church of Christ, this solemn form of baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, that is, into the faith, service, and worship of the Holy Trinity. For let us reflect a little. The nations were to be baptized in the name of three persons, in the same manner, and therefore surely in the same sense, as in the name of one. Whatever honour, reverence, or regard, is paid to the Father in this solemn rite, the same we cannot but suppose paid to all three. Is he acknowledged as the object of worship? So are the other two persons likewise. Is he God and Lord over us? So are they. Are we his servants, subjects, and soldiers, enrolled under him? So are we equally under áll," &c. &c. You also say, that baptizing in the name of "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost,-is declaring the sacred three to be the one God," and that "no man who had been baptized according to this form, could be ignorant of the doctrine."†
Now all this, as I have said, is not scripture, but your own arbitrary construction of scripture. Where do you find it laid down as a maxim, that baptizing into the name of any person is acknowledging that person for God? And how does baptizing in the name of three persons imply their equality, any more than doing any thing else that respects them all? May not three persons, of very different ranks, be with propriety named together? Do we not read, 1 Chron. xxix. 20, that the people of Israel "bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord and the king”?‡ an argument therefore exactly, and in all its forms, similar to yours, it may be proved that God and the king, being equally objects of worship, must be equal. Was not the action of bowing down, and the manner of performing it, the same respecting both? Must it not, then, have been done in the same sense?
That the phrase being baptized unto a person, or in the name of a person, which must be the same thing, does not imply that the person in whose name the baptism is made is God, may be clearly inferred from Paul's saying, 1 Cor. x. 2, that the Israelites" were all baptized unto Moses,' (not by Moses,)" in the cloud and in the sea." He meant into the religion that was published by Moses. Conse
Sermons, p. 34. (P.) Works, VI. pp. 85, 86. Sermons, p. 3, Note. (P.) Works, VI. p. 62. ↑ See Vol. XI. pp. 498, 499.
quently, being baptized unto Christ, or in the name of Christ, only means into the profession of the religion which was published by Christ.* This must be our inference, if it be allowed that the Scriptures are their own best interpreters, the same phrases being generally used in the same sense. The holy spirit is used because, according to the phraseology of scripture, the gospel was confirmed, or proved to be of God, by the gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Had there been so much solemn and mysterious meaning implied in the phrase of baptizing in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit, as you suppose; had it been intended as a standing assertion of the doctrine of a Trinity in the Divine nature, it might have been expected, both that there would have been some express declaration that this was the intent of it, and also that those words should always have been used when the office was performed; but no such declaration of the meaning of the phrase is to be found in the Scriptures; and it is remarkable, that all the baptisms we read of in the New Testament, are baptisms in the name of Christ only. Must we say that this was another instance of the caution with which the apostles taught the doctrine of the Trinity? You say, that" the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit," are "three persons in one God," is a truth "proposed to us as the ground of our hope, our comfort, and our joy; as the principle on which the conduct of life is to be framed, accepted, and rewarded."+ But surely, Sir, these assertions are most extravagant, and unauthorized. Admitting this doctrine of the Trinity to be true, where do you find one text in which it is proposed to us in any of these lights, "as the ground of our hope, our comfort, or our joy; as the principle on which our conduct is to be framed, accepted, and rewarded"?
Indeed, I do not think it possible to conceive how such a doctrine as this can answer any of those purposes. ideas you annex to the terms framing one's conduct upon the doctrine of the Trinity, I cannot imagine. How the doctrine of a future life, or that of the Divine placability, are principles on which the conduct of life is to be formed, I clearly understand; because the belief of them is of great use as a motive to good conduct; but how to make any such practical use of the doctrine of the Trinity, I no more perceive, than I do that its sister doctrine of Transubstantiation should be a practical one.
* See Vol. XIV. pp. 90, 91.
+ Sermons, p. 2. (P.) Works, VI. p. 61.
You say, "Upon the very best authority we are informed that Christ was the lamb slain from the foundation of the world,' that is, (for it cannot be otherwise understood,) slain in effect, in the Divine purpose and counsel. It is likewise said, that grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began. The words intimate that, previous to the creation of the world, something had passed in our favour above; that the plan of our future redemption was then laid; that some agreement, some covenant, relative to it, had been entered into: 'grace was given us,' not in our proper persons, for as yet we were not, we had no being; but in the person of him who was afterwards to become our representative, our Saviour, in Christ Jesus.' Now the plan must have been laid, the covenant entered into, by the parties who have since been graciously pleased to concern themselves in its execution. Who these are, we cannot be ignorant. It was the Son of God, who took our nature upon him, and in that nature made a full and sufficient oblation, satisfaction, and atonement for the sins of the world. It was the Father who accepted such oblation, satisfaction, and atonement; and in consequence forgave those sins. It was the Holy Spirit who came forth from the Father and the Son, through the preaching of the word, and the administration of the sacraments, by his enlightening, healing, and comforting grace, to apply to the hearts of men, for all the purposes of pardon, sanctification, and salvation, the merits and benefits of that oblation, satisfaction, and atonement.'
This is a most remarkable example of drawing many and great conclusions from small premises; indeed, from no premises at all. By grace given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, can be understood nothing more, according to your own mode of interpretation, than that it was in the original counsel of God, that we should be favoured with the blessings of the gospel; which no more implies that Christ pre-existed, than that we ourselves did. Besides, no mention is here made of the Holy Spirit, and still less of any covenant being made between the three, of the Son proposing, the Father accepting, and the Spirit applying. This is not interpreting, but absolutely making Scripture. Where do you read of any such covenant as this but in Milton's Paradise Lost?†
Sermons, p. 43. (P.) Works, VI. pp. 93, 94.
+ B. iii. 80-343, where, according to Pope's just censure, God the Father turns a school divine. In his description of this covenant, Milton appears to have abandoned his earlier belief in a Trinity; no part whatever being here assigned to a third Person, while the representations of the Son, accord, exactly, with the theory which has been denominated high Arianism.
Really, Sir, the Scriptures, in the plainest of all language, teach a doctrine the very reverse of what you here lay down, viz. that God, even the Father, seeing the deplorable condition of mankind, of his own motion, sent first the prophets, and then that "prophet mighty in deed and word," (Luke xxiv. 19,) his own son, to save them; and confirmed his mission by those miracles which are called the gifts of his spirit, or the same divine power that appeared in Christ; who says that the words which he spake were not his own, and that the Father within him did the works. Reconcile this language with your doctrine of the perfect equality of the Son to the Father, if you can.
I could, in like manner, easily go over your other arguments from Scripture, and shew that all the foundations of this great article of your faith are equally weak. They are indeed, most apparently so. You cannot wonder, then, that Unitarians should write with confidence, when they have nothing but such arguments to answer.
I am, &c.
Miscellaneous Articles, and Conclusion.
ALL the friends of ecclesiastical establishments insist upon the right of the civil magistrate to use his own best judgment, in choosing the religion that shall be supported at the expense of the state, especially if the majority of the people should be of the same opinion with him. In Ireland, no regard is paid to this latter circumstance. For there the members of the established church, which takes the tithes of the whole kingdom, are, I believe, computed at little more than one tenth of the people. This, in my opinion, is the most bare-faced tyranny. You, however, have mentioned one circumstance, which may serve to shew how little stress you can sometimes lay on the sentiments either of the civil governors, or the majority of the people. For you say, "Athanasius once stood single against the world,
Thus it is described in a military Memoir of the late Mahratta War, which I have lately seen in MS. The author, Lieut.-Colonel Blacker (B. ii. Ch. ix,) commending The British Conquerors of India" for "the support and confirmation of their Priesthood and Church endowments," to "the original Hindoo population," contrasts this policy "with the state of the immense population of Irish Catholics, who are obliged to pay two Establishments of Clergy: oppression," he indigantly adds, almost inconceivable to distant observers!!"