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ceive upon the authority of Scripture, without pretending to explain, what they confess they do not fully understand. They consider their faith as resting upon the most solid foundation, when it rests not on the wisdom of men, but in the declarations of God himself.
Christianity, being a religion intended for men in general, requires nothing more to the reception of its doctrines, than honesty of intention and common sense. Had it been intended as a religion for philosophers only, ingenuity and deep penetration might have been necessary to the perception, and to the understanding of its doctrines. But as it is addressed to the human race, in general, it is calculated to make not one or two in a million, but all to whom it comes, “wise unto salvation." And, that to this wisdom a correct idea of the Divinity of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is absolutely necessary, we must immediately perceive, when we reflect, that the adoration and the supreme love of these Persons, are the necessary consequences of the admission of this doctrine; and that without that adoration and love, a man cannot live as a Christian for a single day.-To the understanding of the language of Scripture, on all those points which constitute the great doctrines of the Christian faith, Sir Isaac Newton possessed no advantage over the man of plain sense and honest intentions, supposing them both to have had the word of God in a language which they understood ; the Gospel being equally the power of God to salvation, to every one that believes it. In illustrating, in enforcing, and in proving the doctrines of Scripture, as well as the nature of moral obligation, the advantages were, no doubt, prodigiously on the side of the philosopher; but the faith and the obedience of the mechanic were as acceptable to God, as those of that immortal sage.
" It is accepted, according to what a man hath, and not according to what lie hath not.” A man of plain understanding, who means well, is a much better judge of the meaning of language, than the sophist, whose ambition to be thought a person of superior sagacity, disposes him to seek an interpretation remote from the ordinary perceptions of men. What a celebrated writer says of a thorough bred lawyer, holds equally true of many an ingenious man, that he never understands any thing in the ordinary sense of language, while it is possible for him to .contrive another, in which to explain it.
Those who take to themselves the name of Unitarians, ascribe the origin of the doctrine of the Trinity to Plato, and suppose that it was from the philosophy of the Platonic school, that it stole into the creed of the early Churches of Christ. That the doctrine was taught by Plato and his followers, is certain ; but that the belief of it was many ages prior to the birth of that philosopher, several writers have proved by evidence the most decisive.* That the same doctrine was believed both by the ancient Hebrews, and by the Jews at the time of our Saviour's appearance, and even some time after it, there are strong proofs.t Whoever is acquainted with the Asiatic Researches, knows that the most indisputable proofs of a Sacred Triad, present themselves every where in the Asiatic mythology. Dr. Buchanan observes “The Hindoos believe in one God, Brahma ; and yet they represent him as subsisting in three persons: and they wor
• See Cudworth’s Intellectual System, Book 1, Chap. 4 ; See also Dr. Jamie, son's Vindication of the Deity of Christ, Vol. I, p. p. 24, 28.
+ See the Work last quoted, Book 1, Chap. 7,
ship one or other of these persons, in every part of India. And what proves distinctly that they hold this doctrine is, that their most ancient representations of the Deity are formed of one body, and three faces. The most remarkable of these is that at the caves of Elephanta, in an Island near Bombay. The author visited it, in the year 1808 ; nor has he seen any work of art in the East, which he contemplated with greater wonder: whether considered with respect to its colossal size, its great antiquity, the beauty of the sculpture, or the excellence of the preser
ation. From causes which cannot now be known, the Hindoos have long ceased to worship at this temple. Each of the faces of the Triad is about five feet in length. The whole of the statue, and the spacious temple which contains it, is cut out of the solid rock of the mountain. The Hindoos assign to these works an immense antiquity, and attribute the workmanship to the gods. The temple of Elephanta is certainly one of the wonders of the world, and is, perhaps a grander effort of the ingenuity of man, than the Pyramids of Egypt.
“ Whence then have the Hindoos derived the idea of a Triune God ? It should seem as if they had heard of the Elohim of revelation in the first chapter of Genesis, · Let us make man.'
" It certainly cannot be proved that the Triad at Elephanta is older than the Christian era. And if it be older, we are yet to consider that the Mosaic records brought down the notion of a Trinity from the earliest ages. The mo. dern Jews contend against this fact, that they may not seem to countenance an argument for the truth of Christianity; but if they will read their own Targum, they will see that their forefathers confessed it; as in the following instance :• Come and behold the mystery of the word Elohim. There are three degrees, and each degree is sole ; notwithstanding they are one, and are united into one, por is one of them divided from another. •R. SIMEON BEN Jccual,
• In Zobar ad sext. Levit. sectionem.""
That the Trinity was worshiped in the first Christian Churches is evident from Polycarp's Doxology to the Three Persons in the Trinity, and from the pointed testimony of Justin Martyr, in his Apology,* and even from the confession of Dr. Priestley himself, from whom the force of truth has extorted this acknowledgment. 66 As to the writers that have come down to us, (if we omit the author of the Clementines, who was an Unitarian) they were all, without exception, from Justin Martyr to Athanasius, Platonizing Trinitarians.”+
If there are three persons in the Divine Essence, each of them must be the object of adoration, of love, and of trust, to all rational intelligences, because that to each of them equally, all such beings are indebted for their creation, for their preservation, and for that system of laws which is necessary to preserve the perfection of their natures, and the enjoyment of their original happiness. Those who believe in the doctrine of the Trinity must, therefore, necessarily allow, that the knowledge of it was so far communicated to the parents of the human race, as to qualify them for the payment of that tribute which natural religion demanded of them, in the state of innocence. Though the existence of the Three Persons in the Trinity, is entirely independent of the doctrine of Redemption, that redemption being the result, not of the existence, but of the love, council, and co-operation of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; yet to the faith, to the worship, and to the hopes of fallen man, a new reason is superinduced from the distinct offices of the Sacred Three, in that most astonishing and wonderful of the works
• Apol. 1, p. 92. † Append. to his Hist. of Early Opinions, Vol. iv, p. 391:
of God, why the doctrine of the Trinity, and those offices should be more perfectly revealed to mankind. That these were not unknown to the penitent and humble worshipers of God, under the Old Testament dispensation, we have seen strong proofs, in our review of the religion of the Jews.
Under the Christian dispensation, the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is not revealed to us, as a point of curiosity and amusement, to exercise our ingenuity, or to employ our talents in the investigation of it; but to lay a firm foundation, on which our faith may securely rest, for the full accomplishment of our eternal redemption from sin, and from all its dreadful consequences.
Did we not know that our redemption had its origin in the infinite wisdom, and in the inestimable love of God the Father, how could we expect that a doctrine, which stretches into regions so vast and unbounded, and which combines blessings so multifarious, and yet all of them so necessary to the honour of the Creator, and to the happiness of fallen man, would ever attain complete success? Did we not know the supreme dignity, by knowing the Divinity of the Son of God, and did we not know the most inti. mate relation in which he stands to his Father; did we not know that the Father had appointed him to the great office, of being Mediator between God and man, and his possession of all the fulness of the Godhead that were necessary to render his undertaking successful, how could we reasonably trust in his mediation, or hope for favours so great, as the forgiveness of our sins, reconciliation with our Maker, an interest in his tenderest affections, and the future possession of eternal glory? Did we not know the Divine Personality of the Holy Ghost, how could we ever hope to burst the chains