Imatges de pÓgina
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common

it is common or technical, if we cannot conceive what it is ? Can we know more than we can conceive, or more than we can know? The knowledge of the technical meaning of a word is the parent of that meaning, it cannot exist without it. Therefore as no one knows the supposed technical meaning of the word person, in theology, it must be concluded, there is none; so the term must stand

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its sense, when applied theologically, as well as otherwise.

It may be well to consider the origin or foundation for affixing technical meanings to words. When an art, or science, or new doctrine is first invented, or made known, the author or authors thereof may give technical meanings to words they use relating to the subject; but they always know what the meaning is, and can describe it, and make it intelligible ; which they do, in some way or other.

But never was it known, that a pupil or advocate of such art, science, or doctrine, centuries afterwards, gave new technical meanings to the words of the author, or added new terms, which they said had technical meanings, but they could not tell what they were. When words are not used in the common sense, the author always establishes the sense in which they should be understood. There are technical terms in all the sciences; but they were established by the first authors thereof; we do not find new meanings springing up in them, like mushrooms in the night. The science of the law has technical terms, established from time immemorial; but none of the most

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learned judges or most able commentators of the pres-
ent day, presume to give new technical meanings to
law terms, nor to add terms of supposed or unknown
meanings; and it certainly would be ridiculous for a
jury to undertake it. I will state a case. John Doe was
indicted for theft ; the evidence supported the indict-
ment; but the jury returned a verdict, that the defend-
ant was guilty of blasphemy. But, said the Court to the
jury, how can you find the man guilty of blasphemy,
when he is only indicted for theft ? Why, please
your honor, replied the jury, we considerd that the
term theft had a technical meaning ; that it should
not be considered, in the indictment, in its common
sense; and as we could not conceive what the tech-
nical meaning was, we concluded, as the defendant is
a wicked sort of a man, therefore to call it blasphe-
my. And we were led to this conclusion by infer-
ence, because blasphemy is a violation of the com-.
mandment of God, and so is stealing ; therefore we
inferred that stealing is blasphemy. And this rea-
soning is as good as the reasoning about the
technical meaning of the word person; and the jury
had as much authority to give a technical meaning
to the term theft, as Trinitarians have to that of per-
son. For there is not a single instance in the Bible
where the word person is used, (and it is used very
frequently,) but it must, clearly, have its common
meaning. Neither can there be found in the Bible
any such expressions, as three persons in one God,
or the first, or second, or third person of the Trini-
ty. No such idea was ever conceived, by any one,

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till, at least three or four hundred years after the preaching and writings of the Apostles. There is therefore no authority in the Bible, for giving any meaning to the word person, but its common meaning. And if we regard the dictates of nature and reason, we can have no doubts. If a Rev. Doctor informs me, that he has three hundred persons in his church, I know that he means, that he has three hundred members (men and women) in his church; I cannot believe that he has but one hundred members, and that each member has three persons, which would, in the whole, make up three hundred persons. This would be, at least, ridiculous; for we know, beyond doubt, that a person is a man, or some higher intelligent being, one person must be one intelligent being only, neither more nor less. One man is one person; and one God must be one great and glorious Person or Being; he cannot be three, any more than he can be a million. Person and an intelligent being must be synonymous.

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CHAPTER XVI.

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THE TRINITARIAN CREEDS, CATECHISMS, CONFESSIONS, AND

ECCLESIASTICAL DECREES CONSIDERED.

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We have already considered most of the texts relied on for proof of the doctrine of the Trinity; and we think that they all, and each of them, not only fail to support the doctrine, but actually disprove and overthrow it.

We will now attempt to show, that all the creeds, catechisms, confessions, and decrees of ecclesiastical councils, since the Apostles wrote, if fully considered, must have the same effect.

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It is unfortunate for the cause of Christian truth, that most of the writings of Heggesippus, a learned Jewish convert, who wrote a continuation of the history of the affairs of the church, from the time of the Acts of the Apostles by Luke, have been lost. Whether they were destroyed by the monks or friars in the dark ages, or otherwise, is not material for our consideration. There have been various conjectures on the subject. From all the evidence we can collect, it is evident they contain nothing of a trinitarian aspect.

For a century after the time of the Apostles, we find very little written by the early fathers, concerning the faith or practice of the Christian church. About the close of the first century, Ignatius, Bish

op of Antioch, gained some distinction as a writer. Among his writings may be found this expression ; " there is one God, who revealed himself by Jesus Christ, his Son, who is his eternal Logos, not proceeding from silence.” This passage shows, that Ignatius was indoctrinated into the philosophy of Plato; but it affords not a shadow of evidence relative to the three equal persons of Deity; the strict unity of God being declared by him.

Justin Martyr, who had been a Heathen philosopher, wrote about the middle of the second century. From some of his writings, which we have already quoted, (page 176,) and from others also, it is evident that this Platonic Christian father adhered strongly to his philosophy ; but there cannot be found in his writings any intimation of the doctrine of the Trinity, even so far as was established at the Council of Nice, or afterwards amended by other councils. He fully establishes the subordination of the Son, and takes no note of the Holy Spirit at all.

The first formal, general creed of the early fathers that I have found, is that of Irenæus, Bishop of Lyons, who wrote about the middle of the second century. (See the creed quoted page 175). In this we find a full display of the unity of God, and the subordination of the Son. It is true, Bishop Hopkins has inserted in his translation after the word advent, the words, of God, (which alters the sense,) which are not in the original, as given by the bishop himself. I will here state another error of the same bishop. He represents expressly, that Thomas, after his un

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