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which is treading them in the dust, and esteeming their greatest oppressors as their real benefactors! I hold it impossible for a man thoroughly to enter into the religion of Jesus without despising every system of legislation which tends to deprive man of those sacred rights which it proposes
to secure. It is remarkable, that a corrupt religion has ever been subservient to a corrupt government: but the idea of the states of Europe wedding themselves to Christianity, is farcical in the extreme -a species of political mummery too gross to deceive. As for Christianity, it is directly opposed to the crooked policy of this world; and, perhaps, the New Testament contains prin: ciples more dangerous to the governments of Christendom than all the writings of Condorcet, Raynal, or Paine; and as these clear and noble principles shall insinuate themselves more generally into the minds of men, political and spiritual oppression shall gradually die away; the rulers shall no longer have feelings and interests distinct from the ruled; the prince, the priest, the statesman, shall sink into the man; and the people of a future age, who shall read the history of our own times, must possess a deep knowledge of human nature, or they would class it among the fabulous; for to them it would appear as absurd to suppose, that the whole world could be enslaved and degraded by the caprice of a few contemptible individuals, as that Atlas should support the earth on his shoulders." _“ Well done, Clairmont! (facetiously exclaimed Mr. Allen) as usual, abusing the higher powers. A fig for your politicians, who are always squeaking out agaiöst tyranny and oppression—the people deserve it all for being such fools as to bear it. Those who hold the plough of the state are your servants, hired by you for that very purpose. Now, if my ploughman is a thick-headed fellow, and spoils my field, and robs me into the bargain, I send hiin about his business, and engage somebody else—that's my method.
But the asses, called the people, are like my old woman, who's always scolding and grumbling at a servant she's had in the house these twenty years. She tells me, she's the plague of herlife; and yet, if she pleased, she might get rid of this plague at a moments warning. I like to take the shortest method in every thing: here's this pipe, I can't get it to draw-the bore is stopt upwhat's the use of teazing myself with it, and spoiling a com. fortable whiff - that's my way, you see (striking off the bowl with a snap of his finger), and then I try another--Dorcas, another pipe!" (cried out the honest farmer). “ Smoking is a mere habit (shrewdly added Mr. Clairmont); the time will come when men will do without pipes."
Mr. Allen is so irresistibly dry in bis manners, and blunt in his speech-so well meaning though so unpolished, that it is
impossible to be otherwise than pleased with his company, though few would take him as their pattern, or form themselves on his model. Between him and Mr. Clairmont the most perfect familiarity evidently subsists, notwithstanding the difference in the cast of their minds and characters. In the course of the evening I took occasion to ask the farmer, what he thought of the connection between taste and virtue ?" " What ! Clairmont's been at you already (said he). If Clairmont were to undertake it, he could prove a connection between that tobacco-box and virtue, or between taste and my old hat, and he would soon puzzle me, if I were to take the other side of the question. He would begin by defining his terms, and as sure as he defines a thing, so sure am I of knowing nothing about it. Virtue I understand without a definition; but as for taste, with all the definitions in the world, I cannot make it out. 1 look at things with my eyes as well as I can, and try to see the beautiful in a pitchfork, or the sublime in a dunghill; but still the pitchfork and the dunghill seem just the same; but Master Clairmont is blessed with a second "sight, which makes things look so vastly pretty to him--there's a place hard by the house, where this taste hunter goes to stare at, what he calls the picturesque. I fagged up there from home, one hot summer's day, in order to enjoy the prospect with him; but, I assure you, I found twice the enjoyment in a nap under the oak tree.
“And now, Sir (said the honest farmer), allow me to ask you a question, for I understand something of your notions from my friend. How can a young man of your understanding be so foolish as to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity ? (I felt a little disconcerted at so unexpected an enquiry)--the connection between the persons in the Trinity, is as absurd as the connection between taste and virtue; and if I were to assert, that you, and I, and Clairmont, are but one man, L should be set down for a fool, or a liar.”
56 I might assert, Mr. Allen (replied I), that we three are one, inasmuch as we are of one genus, or one common nature. At this observation, Mr. Allen seemed a little foiled, and after taking his pipe two or three times from his mouth, and repeating " one common nature" 5.one common nature"-he began mainly to dispute the principle, though in rather a confused way. "How do you make us of one common nature? Our tempers and dispositions may be quite different from each other—no two men
-Here Mr. Clairmont relieved his friend from his embacrassment. “And why, fariner, need you be afraid to admit us of one common nature? What will Henry gain by the admission? Though we are of the same genus, still are we numerically distinct-still are we three men, Does our friend.
6 It is
mean to say, that the three persons in the Trinity are only one, in the same sense as we are one by a similarity of nature? If so, it follows as a positive consequence, that the three persons are three distinct gods, as much so as we are three distinct men, and polytheism is avowed at once."
" That is clear enough,” said the farmer, with as much satisfaction as though the argument had been his own. impossible (continued Mr. Clairmont, addressing himselfto me) to give any illustration of the Trinity, which can make the doctrine appear even plausible, as long as we are allowed the exercise of our understandings. The Trinitarian tells me, he acknowledges but one God; and yet at the saine time calls upon me to believe in the existence of three persons, each of which is God—the two positions destroy each other, and to attempt any argument to show the absurdity of such an hypothesis, seenis a hopeless task, if the mere statement of it does not strike the mind as carrying contradiction on its face. Two opposite propositions cannot be both true-either there are three gods, or there is but one. The Trinitarian can choose which he pleases, and the Trinity must fall to the ground on either side.
Tbere are those who, in order to get rid of the train of difficulties which the orthodox notion of the Trinity brings with it, have considered that the Deity is but one simple and undivided being, and that the three persons of the Trinity are the three different relations in which the same being stands to man in bringing about his salvation-God the father, as creator; God the son, as redeemer; and God the holy ghost as sanctifier. But what wretched nonsense inust this make of all those passages in which Jesus declares, he acts under superior directione I came not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me;" that is, of himself, according to this hypothesis and again, “the father is greater than I;" that is, I am greater than myself. But why is that Being, of whose vastness it is impossible to form any other than mean conceptions, who has lighted up ten thousand suns, and fixed the course of infinite worlds !--why, I say, is that Being brought down to humanity, and wrapt in swaddling clothes, but merely because the vanity of this magnificent dust, called man, has fancied it essential to his salvation ?
The doctrine of the Trinity is, in every point of view, impiously absurd; but you will tell me it is taught in the scriptures. This I deny; and, if it were, the question with me would not be, is the doctrine of the Trinity true, but are the scriptures true? The ground on which I admit them as true, is their accordance with the reason and nature of things; but if this doctrine formed a part of them, that ground is at once de
stroyed. What a degraded idea must men possess of revelar, tion, who seem only to suppose it was designed to defy all rea, sonable belief, and to contradict all probability. There never was a more striking instance of the triumph of ignorance and superstition over truth and philosophy, than in the general reception of the doctrine of the Trinity, and the abhorrence expressed at the simple notion of the unity of the Deity. When I conceive, in my own mind, a benevolent, self-existent, omnipotent Being, the source of all wisdom, and the author of all things, I cannot but ask myself, what would the Trinitarian have more-what is there dangerous in such a sentiment ?!? “ There is nothing dangerous, Mr. Clairmont (said I) in the bare sentiment you have expressed; but then you give up the divinity of God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost." tainly I do; because it is absolutely necessary to preserve the divinity of God the Father; for if you give the attributes of Omnipotence to either the Son or the Holy Spirit, you thereby deprive the Father of them, it being impossible to suppose the existence of two or more Omnipotent Beings. The Atheist and the Trinitarian run into opposite extremes, both in direct violation to the principles of philosophizing—the one believes the world could exist without a sufficient cause, the other dateş its existence to more causes than are necessary.”
Here I interrupted Mr. Clairmont, by observing, that I be. lieved as much as bimself in one God. That cannot be (said the old gentleman); for when I say, I acknowledge the exist. ance of one God, I mean only one, and thereby exclud. a be. lief in the existence of all other Gods--whereas the definition of your one is three. I suspect, my friend, that in reality you know not what you believe--you persuade yourself to believe an impossibility, a direct contradiction, and there is no axiom but what you will break through-no truism but what you will kick down-no self-evident proposition but what you will violate, in order to retain it. Thus, for example, the whole is greater than a part; but according to the calculations of orthodoxy, each of the persons of the Trinity is God, and yet all together are no more than Göd.” “ According to my judgment (said the farmer), it ought to be a God, and carry two. “ Excuse (continued Mr. Clairmont) the drollery of my friend; I know how it affects the timidity of prejudice to hear the sportive sally of wit directed against subjects which it e teems sacred ; but truly when a doctrine has in it nothing but the absuril, it is presuming too much on Christian charity to expect, that by merely calling it sacred, satire can be disarmed of its weapons, or ridicule converted into respect. I koow, Henry, your inind is in an unsettled state as to the Trinity; you neii her know how to receive, nor how to reject it; you have VOL. II.
dared to doubt, you have commenced an examination of the scriptures, not to confirm your prejudices, but to convince your understanding Go on! the investigation is bonourabletruth should be sought after as for hidden treasure. The scriptures are invaluable--only let all inquiry into them be conducted on principles broad and copious. An important doctrine must not rest on a word, or a verse, or a figure of speech, or be gathered from an equivocal sentence, or a difficult passage, or a doubtful translation ; but every leading truth of Revelation should flow with the stream, and drift with the current of the the sacred writings. In ascertaining whether the Trinity is a revealed truth, examine whether the Deity first made himself known to man as a simple or compound Being (if the expressions be allowed); what the people who received the divine oracles believed in this respect-what were the sentiments acknowledged, and taught by the patriarchs, Moses, and the prophets--whether Jesus or his apostles made any communication concerning the divine nature, different from what had been previously set forth by the teachers and messengers of the Mosaic dispensation--whether the doctrine of the Trinity formed the ground of any argument, the theme of any dissertation, the subject of any dispute, the object of any illustration, From such an expansive mode of research, you wil) come out with astonishment, to find that this Trinity, which has given endless motion to the pens of polemics, which has kindled the faggots of persecution, and bent the knees of devotees; in the belief of which whole nations have united, and revolving ages passed away, is a nonentity, and that to the Christian there is NONE OTHER GOD BUT ONE.",
The faithful old-fashioned monitor, in the corner of the room, warned Mr. Allen it was time to depart-a joke~a knudgea squeeze of the hand-ended our evening's entertainment.
In conversation the next day, Mr. Clairmont gave me the following account of his friend :-“ Mr. Allen is a worthy man ;-if his huge bulk were reduced to an essence, it would leave nothing but good nature. In mind he exhibits a strange compound of sense and weakness, a combination, of clearness and confusion. Sometimes his ideas are plain and simple, and his argument nervous ; at other times he is trifling, puerile, and sophistical; on some occasions he has a pertinency of remark, almost exclusively his own; on others his thoughts are vague, and his conceptions exiguous. We have been engaged in controversy, more than once, with some of our superstitious neighbours on doctrinal points. I have listened with pleasure to Mr. Allon; when, in eager dispute, he has pursued a chain of reasoning with peculiar force and perspicuity, my feelings and interests have all been engaged in the argument,