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Epis. Still they do not believe he was equal with the Father.
Unit. No, and for this plain reason, that he himself declares his own inferiority. “My Father is greater than 1.” “Of that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.” And there are numerous passages to the same effect.
Epis. But these he said in his human nature.
Unit. Where do you learn that? He himself makes no mention of his being possessed of two natures, and how else could we have derived the knowledge of a combination so wonderful, a combination of the Infipite with a feeble man, of Omniscience with ignorance, of Almighty power with that dependent frailty, which cannot provide for its own support a single moment.
Epis. He nowhere says, however, that he was not possessed of two natures, the human and divine, and upon no other supposition can we reconcile Scripture with Scripture.
Unit. Upon no other supposition can you reconcile Scripture with the Athanasian Creed. But how can you set aside the positive testimony of our Lord himself upon the subject? You will admit that of Jesus it is truly said, “no guile was found in his mouth.” Now suppose I were to shut one of my eyes, and protest, while I was looking at you with the other, that I did not see you. I might excuse myself for this falsehood, by saying, I did not see you with the eye which was closed; but would you think me guiltless in attempting to deceive you by such a quibble; will you impute such conduct, as would be base in another, to him who was without guile, and whose example we are commanded in all things to follow?
Epis. Without answering what, I am willing to confess, I find at present rather difficult to answer, I will bring the plain words of Christ against you, to prove that he was God. He says, “I and my Father are
Unit. True; but does he not sufficiently determine the meaning of this expression, by what is recorded a few chapters afterwards? In praying for his disciples, he says, “Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one as we are.” And further on he makes the signification of these words still more general, by saying, "Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word, that they all may be one; as thou Father art in me, and I in thee, that they may
be one in us." Does Jesus Christ mean to say, that he and his Father are one, in
sense than that in which, not only his immediate followers, but his disciples through all ages, might become one? You surely cannot help seeing, that the passage you have quoted is not only of no assistance, but that it is of decided disadvantage to your argument. And even if it proved al} that you thought it did, it would not prove the doctrine of the trinity. It would prove that there were two persons only, and not three, in one.
[Here the first speaker, who had been for some time silent, again rallied to the attack, with a look of expected triumph.]
Eld. Gent. The trinity may not be proved in that text, but it certainly is in this; “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one."
Unit. I have nothing to do with what is, or is not proved by words which were never penned by one of the sacred writers. The verse which you have cited from the First Epistle of John, is contained in not a single Greek manuscript of the Scriptures, of any antiquity or authority. The most learned among the orthodox themselves have altogether rejected it, as not genuine; and it is a shame that it should still be printed in our Bibles, as a part of the oracles of truth.
Eld. Gent. Well, well, I know very little about those matters. But did not Jesus command his disciples to go and teach all nations, “baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost?” That is in the manuscripts, that is genuine, is it not?
Unit. It is. I cannot see, however, that it proves the doctrine of the trinity. It does not go on to say that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one God. The converts to Christianity, by their baptism, acknowledged their belief in, and subjection to, the one God as their Father, to Jesus Christ as his authorized and inspired Messenger, and to the Holy Spirit of God, by whose influences, and not by those of any other power, the new religion had been revealed, its Messenger had been directed, and its apostles endued with supernatural gifts.* You cannot think that the mere circumstance of these names being placed together in the same sentence, is of any weight. . In 1 Chron. xxix. 20, it is said, "All the congregation blessed the Lord God of their fathers, and bowed down their heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the king." Now you would not contend, from these words, either that Jehovah and the king were the same being, or that the people, in worshipping them, as our translators have rendered it, paid them equal homage; would you?
* For a more full exposition of this text, see vol. ii. of the Miscellany, page 213.
[How much longer this conversation would have continued, or what impression was produced by it on the advocates for the trinity, I know not; for, just at this time, the steam-boat touched the wharf at New-York. In a moment all was confusion. The porters'swarmed into the boat; each man hurried to look after his own baggage, and then took his own way into the city.]
Liberal Sentiments of Le Clerc.
[EVERY biblical student knows that Dr. Hammond's Paraphrase and Annotations on the New Testament were translated into Latin, by the celebrated Jean Le Clerc, and much improved by the addition of valuable and copious notes of his own. He printed the first edition of this work, in 1698. But it is not so generally known, that these additional notes of Le Clerc were subsequently translated from Latin into English, and published separately. They were printed at London, in one small quarto, in 1704. The volume is, at least in this country, exceedingly scarce.
This publication, if not suggested, was approved by Le Clerc himself. He learn from a letter written by him, and prefixed to the book, that the sheets were sent over to him in Holland, that he might revise them. It was thought, no doubt, that it would prove a valuable supplement to the original work of Hammond.
Le Clerc entertained a high opinion of the theological literature of England, as it then was, and often expressed himself to that purpose. In the letter above mentioned, he says, “There is no man, it may be, in the continent, that has a greater value for the English clergy, and other learned men of that nation, than I, or that speaks or writes oftener in their praise.” And in his “Parrhasiana,” he expresses himself thus forcibly on the same subject. “To say the truth, Mr. L. C. attributes more weight to the judgment of that free and learned nation, than to that of all the slavish and lazy theologians of all the rest of Europe.”
Sentiments of this kind, and still more his bold and rational religious opinions, and expositions of Scrip. ture, drew down upon him the heavy animadversions and anathemas of many of the theologians on the continent. Whenever Le Clerc came out, and it was pretty often, with a sensible book, or a free opinion, he was sure to have the Philistines upon him; and the great watch word and war-cry was, that he was a Socinian. In England, too, he was not without his adversaries. He quotes, in the letter already alluded to, an anonymous English pamphlet, in which are some severe censures on his writings, and among them the old charge of Socinianism. His answer, distinguished for its spirit, and its good sense, we give with pleasure to our readers.]
The cause I have undertaken to defend, both in all my other printed works, and my additions to Dr. Hammond, is no other than the cause of Christ and