Imatges de pàgina
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Son to be worshipped and glorified.” This council did not expressly make the Holy Spirit equal with the Father, but implicitly the contrary; because they say, it“ proceeded from the Father," therefore could not be equal with him. Indeed, the perfect equality both of the Holy Spirit and of the Son with the Father was not expressly declared, or established by any ecclesiastical council, for some centuries afterwards. But when it came to be generally received, when it was determined, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, each of them, was God, was Lord, was almighty, was supreme, self-existent, and independent, it seemed to be a matter of necessity, that there must be three equal, supreme Gods; the Bible, and all nature to the contrary notwithstanding! To remedy this difficulty, the Trinity was so amended, as to make it a trinity of persons numerically the same, or having all one and the same singular existent being. And this was the last, finishing, important stroke to the trinitarian fabrication. The learned Cudworth, when considering the different kinds of trinitarian doctrines, observes, " that not a few of those ancient fathers, who were therefore reputed Orthodox, because they zealously opposed Arianism, namely, Gregory, Nyssen, Cyril of Alexandria, and others, entertained the opinion, that the three persons in the Trinity were three distinct individuals, like three individual men, Thomas, Peter, and John ;” and remarks, that “some would think, that the ancient and genuine Platonic trinity, taken with all its faults, is to be preferred before

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this Trinity.” But he says, “as this Trinity came afterwards to be decried for tritheistic, so in the room thereof, there rose up that other trinity of persons numerically the same, or having all one and the same singular existent essence ; a doctrine which seemeth not to have been owned by any public authority in the Christian church, save that of the Lateran council only.” This council was convened under Pope Innocent the Third, A. D. 1215, in the depth of the dark ages ; (it is not fully acknowledged as æcumenical, ) it was composed principally of monks and scholastic enthusiasts. It was this council, that put the finishing touch upon the Trinitarian creed. It was this council, that established the not more absurd doctrine of transubstantiation. It was this council, which directed a vindictive persecution of heretics, ordering them to be sought out and exterminated. It was this conncil, that promoted the tribunals of the inquisition. And will Christians, in this enlightened age, for their guide in faith and practice, take the decrees of such a council, in preference to the plain, puré doctrines of the Son of God? Since the thirteenth century, I believe, there have been no essential alterations in the scheme. Whatever change there has been, has been in unmeaning words, - not at all for the better.

It now remains only to account for the origin, progress, and continuance of the doctrine to this day, without the necessity of acknowledging its truth. And this is an easy matter.

It must be acknowledged, that, while the Apostles had the admin

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istration of the affairs of the church, there was nothing that appeared at all like the present Trinitarian doctrine. But when they had left the world, after having converted to their faith many learned doctors, and Platonic philosophers, who possessed almost all the learning and talent of the

age, natural, and a matter of course, that the control, direction, and all the affairs of the church, should (as they did) go into their hands. And although they were sincere converts to Christianity, yet as they were but men, (having prepossessions like other men,) no less could have been expected of them, than that they should amalgamate the doctrines of their early-taught philosophy into their late adopted religion; which we find they did. And so

And so by them, and their successors, the origin and progress of the doctrine was effected; while the common and unlearned Christians were generally opposed to it; and I believe ever have been so, (when left to act freely,) from that time to the present. But what could they do? Not one in ten of them, in that age, could read or write at all. And those who could read had not the means for it; there were then no books printed ; and manuscripts and copies were so few, and costly, that the poor and common Christians could not obtain them. What could have been expected, but that they would be controlled, directed, and carried along, as they were, in the strong current caused by the Platonizing fathers, who had become their teachers? This current was made powerful by a multitude of Platonizing fathers, and by the

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addition of local ecclesiastical councils, so as to im-
merge all other streams of faith ; and in the fourth
century, it was by a general council at Nice, with
the great Emperor Constantine at its head, (the civil
and ecclesiastical powers being then first united,)
made as absolutey irresistible, as the current of the
Mississippi, or the billows of the ocean.
one attempted to resist the decrees, what was his
fate ? He must be excommunicated, anathematized,
imprisoned, or banished, or put to death; nay more,
he must be damned eternally! Who would not
profess to believe anything, to free himself from
these evils, to save himself from temporal and eter-
nal death? And what merit would there be in such
a forced faith ? This system of persecution for
opinion's sake was carried on for centuries, even
through all the dark ages. True, there were some
little breathings of liberty and hope, when there
happened to be a favorable change of emperors; but
these were short and few. And, since great light
has dawned upon the world, even since the Reforma-
tion, (as it is called,) though the arm of civil power
has been generally witheld, yet the minds of Chris-
tians to this day have been directly, or indirectly,
almost irresistibly led and compelled to receive this
unscriptural doctrine, by the solemn decrees of
ecclesiastical councils, by the gloomy dogmas of
priestcraft, and the insinuating influence of early
education. Such faith, thus produced, thus sustained,
can be no evidence of the truth of its doctrines,
whatever length of time may have groaned under

30*

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them. Then let us rely on the Bible only. Let us go for direction, and for our faith, to Him who “ hath the words of eternal life.”

But it may be useful, more particularly, to account for the prevalence and continuance of this doctrine in modern times, and especially in this enlightened age. This doctrine was entailed upon modern times by the enthusiasm of monks, by the force of ecclesiastical creeds and decrees, and by the power of civil authority, by persecuting, by inflicting temporal punishment, and threatening with future condemnation, all who would not receive the Orthodox faith. But at present the same kind of persecutions and corporal punishments are not used. Trinitarians now do not imprison the body, but only fetter and chain the mind; they do not hold men to their faith, by threatening them with temporal evils, but by insuring to them eternal destruction, if they depart from the faith. Their system is to begin with children ; to teach them mystical catechisms, and strange doctrines, which minds of their age, and of no age, can understand. They instruct them parrot-like, in their peculiar doctrines and creeds, so that by the habit of constant repetition (and habit is second nature) they become fixed and tolerable, and are thought to be as true as the Bible. * And

* I can remember the time when I thought the Westminster Assembly's Catechism, and the preaching of our minister, were as true and as much to be regarded as the Bible; for I was taught my catechism by my mother, who was a pious woman; and I knew ale loved me most affectionately, and would not teach me anything

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