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Bramunical Arguments against the Trinity. A
PROMISE was given in our last number, at the conclusion of the article headed Bramuns and Missionaries, that a particular account should be presented to our readers of the arguments alleged in the Bramunical Magazine against the doctrine of the Trinity It cannot but be interesting to observe how the learned natives of India reason upon a doctrine which has been so much agitated among Christians; and how far their objections to it coincide with those which have been urged by Unitarians. The controversy is novel in its complexion, and of singular importance from the inferences which may be drawn from it, and the consequences by which it may be followed. It will give us some idea of the minds and attainments of one cast, at least, of a people, with whom the eastern missionaries have now to do; and may lead us to form some conjec. tures with regard to the reception of a religion so incumbered with mystery as that is, which those gentlemen inculcate. It may also, in connexion with other
existing circumstances, justify us in arguing success to those views, which we regard as true Christianity.
In the second number of the Bramunical Magazine, a writer proposed five questions, or difficulties, on the subject of the Trinity, with a request that they might be answered. They are as follows. Referring to the missionaries, he says,
“They call Jesus Christ the son of God, and the very God. How can the Son be the very Father?
“They sometimes call Jesus Christ the son of man, and yet say no man was his father.
“They say that God is one, and yet say that the Father is God, the Son is Gud, and the Holy Ghost is God.
“They say that God must be worshipped in spirit, and yet they worship Jesus Christ as very God, although he is possessed of a material body.
“They say that the Son is of the same essence and existence as the ather, and they also say that the Son is equal to the Father. But how can equality subsist except between objects possessed of different essences and existences?"
These difficulties were answered in a partial manner, and in the English language alone, in the Friend of India, a periodical work conducted by the missionaries. The native who proposed them, after expressing his disappointment at not being favoured with an answer both in the English and Bengalee languages, "as the controversy in question,” he says, "is intended by both parties chiefly for the benefit of the Hindoo community, and secondarily for the use of Europeans," proceeds with his reply, in the third number of the Bramunical Magazine. This reply occupies the whole of the number, consisting of twenty-four pages of English, and as many of Rengalee, printed opposite to each other. Some of the arguments, as might be expected, are not so forcible as others; but we think that
dur readers will agree with us, that when the novelty of this controversy is considered, and the little preparation from study which a Hindoo could have received, the reasoning is in every way remarkably acute and sound.
The first question is one, which it was very natural for a native to put. He reasons with himself thus. If the Father is God, and the Son is God, and there is but one God, why then the Son is the Father. But how can the son be the
father? Of course the missionaries answer this objection in the usual way. But let us hear the account of the Hindoo.
“As to my first question proposed in the Magazine in the following words, They call Jesus Christ the Son of God, and the very God. How can the son be the very father?' the Editor denies the accuracy of the information on which I found this question, and firmly asserts that the Bible no where says that the Son is the Father. I therefore deem it necessary to show my reason for the above query, leaving it to the public to pronounce on the justifiableness of it, either in their conversation, or religious publications.
“Christian teachers profess that God is one, and that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and the very God. Hence I naturally concluded that they believe the Son to be the Father, and consequently questioned the reasonableness of such a doctrine. For when a person affirms that such a one, say James, is one, and that John is his son, and again says that John is actually James, we should naturally conclude that he means that John the son is James the father, and be at liberty to ask, how can John the son be James the father? But as the Editor, a leading minister of that religion, declares that 'the Bible no where says that the Son is the Father, but says that the Son is equal to the Father in nature and essence, and distinct in person,' and recommends me to reflect on mankind, of whom 'every son, who has not the same human nature with his father, must be a monster, it would be too much boldness on my part to give preference to my apprehension of the meaning of the Bible over that of the Editor. 1 would therefore have admitted, as suggested by the Editor, that the Son of God is God, on the analogy, and in the sense, that the son of a man is a man, had I not been compelled by his very suggestion to
reject entirely his other still more important assertion--that is, the coeval existence of the Son with the Father. For, the belief of the nature of the son of a man being the same as that of the father, though it justifies the idea of the Son of God being God, is utterly repugnant to the possibility of the Son being coeval with his Father. It is evident that if a son of a man be supposed coeval with his father, he must be considered something more extraordinary than a monster.
“It is believed by all religionis sects, that when God reveals his will or law to the human race, he reveals them through their language in its common acceptation. I beg therefore of the Editor to favour me with a direct reply to the following question. Do the missionary gentlemen take the word 'God' as a proper name, or as a common one? all nouns being divided into two kinds, common and proper. In the former case, that is, if they consider the term God appropriated to one individual existence, as every other proper name is, they must relinquish the idea of the Son of God being the very God. How can we think the son of John or James to be John or James, or coeval with John or James? And in the latter case, that is, if they receive the term God as a common name, they may maintain the opinion that the Son of God is God, in the same way as the son of a man is man, which, as the Editor says, 'must necessarily be the case;' but they, in this case, cannot be justified in possessing a belief in the equal duration of the Son with the Father; for, every son, whatever may be his nature, must have existence originating subsequently to that of his father. The only difference between these two common nouns, God and man, would be, that the latter includes a great many individuals under it, and the former only three distinct persons, though of superior power and nature. We see individuals, under one term of mankind, though they are distinct in person, yet one in nature, as being all men. In like manner, three beings under one Godhead, according to the Editor, though they are distinct in person, are yet, I infer, considered by him one in nature as Gods; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. Is this the unity of God which the Editor professes? Can this doctrine justify him in ridiculing Hindoo polytheism; because many of them say that under one Godhead there are more than three beings, distinct in person, but one in nature?”
The second objection is taken up after all the rest are discussed. We must say, that neither the answer of the missionaries to it, nor the reply of the Bramun
The third point is managed much better; and the advantage, in our opinion, is entirely on the side of the Bramun. “They say God is one, and yet say that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.” The editor of the Friend of India admits the fairness of this statement, and supports the doctrine as other Trinitarians do.
“But,” says the Bramun, "instead of showing the reasonableness of the idea of three distinct Gods being one God, as applied for, he confesses the total inconsistency of this doctrine with reason, and makes the Bible responsible for it, saying, ‘But the Bible, while it fully reveals these facts, still forbears to inform us how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, exist, and forin the triune God;' and adds, ‘nor had it informed, are we certain that we should have comprehended it.' The Editor, or’his colleagues, ought to have taken into consideration such unreasonableness attaching to the most important of all their doctrines, before they had published in the Sumachar Durpun the letter accusing the Vedant, and the rest of the Hindoo Shastrus, of the want of reason; a circumstance which might have saved the Editor the reluctant avowal of the unreasonableness of the foundation of his own system of faith.”
We cannot but stop here to notice one expression of this same editor. Who he is, we know not, but we are bound to suppose him a very strong pillar of the cause which he tries to support. “Nor had it informed,” says he, "are we certain that we should have comprehended it.” Extraordinary information this must be, to be sure. Trinitarians often tell us that their doctrine was not meant to be understood, but simply to be believed, and we have been apt to call in question the validity of even this assertion, as we much doubt whether an unintelligible proposition can be made the subject either of belief or disbelief. But here is a man, who is so exceedingly diffident of the capacity of