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ments is, Hear, O Israel ! the Lord our God is one
“ In that day,” saith the Prophet, “there shall be one Lord, and his name One.”+ Elsewhere in the Prophecies he is styled “the Mighty One,” I "the High and Lofty One," $ &c. And the Apostle Paul not only says that there is one God, but he writes expressly that “God is one." || The general tenor of Scripture is in harmony with the texts cited. From all which it appears, not only that there is “ one God," but that that one God is one, one simply and indivisibly. The Unitarian and the Trinitarian alike believe that there is one God.” But while the latter affirms that in the unity of the Godhead there be three persons,” the former maintains that in the unity of the Godhead there is only one person,
- he affirms that “God is Following up his affirmation respecting the three persons in the Deity, the Trinitarian asserts that “the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God.”tt While the Unitarian, on the other hand, following up his affirmation respecting the one person only in the Deity, asserts that the “ Father is the “only true God.” If Thus distinct and different do their statements stand concerning the doctrine of the Godhead. The Unitarian can state his faith in the very language of the sacred Scripture. But the Trinitarian
* Mark xii. 29.
Zech. xiv. 9. Isa. i. 24, § Isa. Ivii. 15. || Gal. iii. 20. I Westminster Confession, chap, iii., § 3. ** St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, chap. iii., v. 29. it Athanasian Creed. # Christ's prayer, - John xvii. 1, 3.
is compelled to resort to the language of human creeds and confessions.
4. The argument from ecclesiastical history is against it. It is worthy of remark, that the Jewish people never held the doctrine of a threefold God. We know that during a long course of centuries, their nation was the depository of the records of divine revelation. Inspired prophets and teachers were raised up amongst them, time after time, but none of these ever taught the doctrine of the Trinity. Nor did our Saviour and his Apostles ever teach such a doctrine. If we had one enunciation from them that “there are three persons in the one God," the question would be set at rest.
In the first ages of the Church, there was no such distribution of persons in the Deity known to Christians. For three centuries after the death of our Lord, the Apostles' Creed was the only publicly recognized symbol of faith. And even this, the origin of which is obscure, was of a later date than the time of the Apostles themselves. Now the Apostles' Creed is essentially Unitarian in doctrine, and the fact that it was the only creed known during those first ages of the Church clearly shows us that the Christians of those times were believers in the simple unity of God.
Since neither the Jewish people nor the first Christians knew the doctrine of the Trinity, whence then, it may be asked, did it come? We reply, that it can be traced to its origin in the refined speculations of the Gentile philosophy. Plato, the celebrated Athenian sage, who flourished about 360 years before Christ, taught the doctrine of one great First Cause. We are not prepared to say that he taught a Trinity ; but according to the
interpretation put upon his writings by the later Platonists, there were in the divine nature three " principles,” or “hypostases," which they termed To Agathon, the Supreme Good, Logos or Nous, the mind or reason of God proceeding froin the former principle, and Psyche, or soul. According to the Platonic philosophy, these three, taken together, constituted the one Divinity.
Such was the fashionable philosophy at Alexandria when the simple doctrines of the Gospel found their way to that great city. Here Christianity came in contact with it and was corrupted by it. The divine religion which our Saviour taught was too simple for men who had always been accustomed to refined and abstruse speculations. As Christianity found its way among the learned, they engrafted upon it some of their favorite philosophic notions. The three-fold division of the Deity was a prominent doctrine of the reigning philosophy, and this notion was introduced into the Christian system by the philosophizing Christians, as they have been called. It was resisted by the great body of believers as a strange and novel doctrine. To the learned, however, it was acceptable, and they willingly promoted it. The following extract from Tertullian, one of the early Christian writers, will shed a flood of light upon the matter. “ The simple,” says he, “(not to call them ignorant and unlearned), who are always the greater part of believers, since the rule of faith itself transfers them from the many gods of the heathen to the one true God, not understanding that the one God is indeed to be believed, but with his own economy (that is, his distribution into three persons), are startled at the economy. They presume that the number and arrangement of a Trinity is a division of the Unity. They therefore hold out, that two or even three Gods are worshipped by us ; assuming that they are the worshippers of the one God."* From this we may learn how adverse the great body of plain, unlettered Christians were to the reception of the new doctrine.
Alexandria, the famous seat of the Platonic philosophy, was the birthplace of the Christian Trinity. Here it was that the famous controversy broke out concerning the Godhead, in the early part of the fourth century. This is known in bistory as the “ Arian controversy," which for so long a time shook the church and the world. The Arians and the Athanasians (the Unitarians and the Trinitarians of the time) each experienced alternate successes and defeats. Now Arius was degraded and banished by one Council of the church; then Athanasius by another. , Sometimes we find an Arian emperor on the throne, and sometimes an Athanasian. The controversy was carried on with great vigor until the awful severities of Theodosius the Great put down the Arians, and secured the triumph to the Athanasians. Never was a persecution more ruthlessly persisted in than that of Theodosius. “ As he persevered inflexibly,” says Waddington, “his severities were attended by general and lasting success, and the doctrine of Arius, if not perfectly extirpated, withered from that moment rapidly and irrecoverably.” † From the page of history, then, we learn that it was by brute force the Unitarianism of the early times was crushed. Pensie gel nois Ciwaling * Adv. Prax., Sect. 3, p. 502. † History of the Church, p. 99.
The three creeds found in the book of Common Prayer - the Apostles', the Nicene, and the Athanasian furnish an excellent illustration of the progress of the Trinitarian doctrine in the world. The Apostles' Creed runs thus :- " I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son," etc. Now this creed we say is a Unitarian creed, and, as we have already intimated, was the only one publicly recognized by the Church for the first three centuries.
Next we have the Nicene Creed, composed for the most part at the Council of Nice, A. D. 325, which was assembled by order of the Emperor Constantine, to settle the Arian controversy. Here we have the first authoritative promulgation of the Deity of the Son. In this creed Christ is styled "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God,” etc. But even in it, as it came from the Nicene Council, we have no statement of the separate Deity of the Holy Ghost, or third person of the Trinity. This was not added until upwards of half a century afterwards. The statement of the Council of Nice on this head was simply thus : " I believe in the Holy Ghost.” But at the Council of Constantinople, A. D. 381, an addition was made to it, asserting the separate Deity of the third person. As amended by this Council, the clause runs thus : “I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father (and the Son), who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified," etc. The words, "and the Son,” above inclosed in brackets, were another subsequent addition. Thus it was, that at the Council of Con