Sayfadaki görseller

By the Toleration Act, subscription was indeed required of the dissenting teachers in England, to the Apostles', Nicene, and Athanasian Creeds, as received by the Church of England; but from this

. they are now relieved by 19th of George III.

[ocr errors]

Notwithstanding the strongest evidence that is constantly given them to the contrary, the Jews and others, still insist that Trinitarians destroy the Divine Unity, and worship three Gods, and, of consequence, are Tritheists; a name which is not, perhaps, applicable to any class of Christians in our day.* Even Crellius, who has been reckoned the most acute of the Socinians, is candid enough to acknowledge, that they who hold the Trinity, are not justly chargeable with believing more Gods than one, because of the strict unity

* Some are of opinion, that it may be applied to those who make the Son essentially inferior to the Father, and yet call him God.--That the Son is subordinate to the Father, is what, says Dr. Eveleigh, “no sound member of the Catholic Church has ever denied." Yet Christian divines seem to have widely differed as to the nature and extent of this subordination; but most Trinitarians, I believe, maintain, that, with respect to our Lord's divinity, he is in no sense subordinate to the Father. 66 The subordination of the Son, admitted by Pearson, Bull, Waterland, Bishop Horsley, and others, implies no inferiority in the divine nature of Christ, but a difference of order and office.”—Mr. GRAY's Bamp. Lect. p. 134. Note, where the author refers his readers to “ Defens. Fid. Nicæn. cap. 11.; Pearson on the Creed; Waterland on the Athanasian Creed, and Preface to eight Sermons on the Defence of the Divinity of Christ; Bishop Horsley's 15th Letter to Priestley; Tertull. Advers. Prax. c. 9. 12. 13."


which they maintain to subsist in the Divine Essence. *

RISE, HISTORY, &c.—The enemies of the doctrine of the Trinity insist, that it was an invention of the first ages of the Church; or, that it was borrowed from the Platonic school. But, in the opinion of its friends, the understanding of man can never be more grossly insulted, than when such people labour to persuade them, that a truth, so awfully sublime as that of the Trinity, could ever be the offspring of human invention; nor, according to them, can history be more violated, than when it is made to assign the origin of this doctrine to Plato,t or to any of the schools of Greece.

Equally above the boldest flight of human genius to invent, as beyond the most extended limit of human intellect fully to comprehend, is the profound mystery of the ever blessed Trinity. Through successive

ages, it has remained impregnable to all

* See the passage cited in Stillingfleet, on the sufferings of Christ, part 2d, near the end, vol. iii. p. 407. of the Bi. shop's works in folio. It is obvious to remark here, that the modern Socinians, now called Unitarians, do not think so favourably of Trinitarians and their doctrine ; on the contrary, it is by no means unusual with them to rank together. Trinitarianism and transubstantiation, as being no doubt, in their opinion, both entitled to the same degree of incredibility:

+ Dr. Cudworth proves, that there were others among the ancient Pagans, besides the Platonists, who had some notion of a Trinity. --See his Intellectual System, b. i. c. 4.

[ocr errors]

the shafts of impious ridicule, and unshaken by the bolder artillery of blasphemous invective. It is ever in vain that man essays to pierce the unfathomable arcana of the skies. By his limited faculties, and superficial ken, the deep things of eternity are not to be scanned. Even among Christians, the sacred Trinity is more properly a subject of belief than of investigation; and every attempt to penetrate into it, farther than God, in his holy word, has expressly revealed, is at best an injudicious, and often a dangerous, effort of mistaken piety. If we extend our eye through the remote region of antiquity, we shall find this very doctrine, which the primitive Christians are said to have borrowed from the Platonic school, universally and immemorially flourishing in all those Eastern countries where history and tradition have united to fix those virtuous ancestors of the human race, who, for their distinguished attainments in piety, were admitted to a familiar intercourse with Jehovah, and the angels, the divine heralds of his commands,'* &c.

* Mr. Maurice's Dissertation on the Oriental Trinities,

P. 39, 40.

Following the leading ideas of Sir William Jones, Mr. Maurice asserts, that there is a perpetual recurrence of Sacred Triad of Deity in the Asiatic mythology, and that the doctrine of a Trinity was promulgated in India, in the Geeta, 1500 years before the birth of Plato; for of that remote date are the Elephantia cavern, and the Indian history of Mahabbaret, in which a Triad of Deity is alluded to and designated. Hence he supposes, that the doctrine of a Trinity was delivered from the ancient patriarchs, and diffused

Such is the opinion of one zealous friend of the doctrine of the Trinity; and although some of his

r brethren may not be disposed to adopt his views on the subject, in their full extent, yet to all Trinitarians, I believe it is evident that the devotions of the ancient Church, in the apostolical, and every succeeding age, were paid to every person of the Trinity. Thus, Polycarp's doxology is to the whole Trinity; and Justin Martyr declares, that the object of their worship was the whole Trinity.* To which they add the testimony of Origen, t.who, comparing the practice of heathens and Christians, says, that the former having forsaken the Creator, worshipped the creature; but the latter worshipped and adored no creature, but only the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. I

Most writers, before Vossius, took it for granted, that what is called the Athanasian Creed, was drawn up by Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in the 4th century; but it is now generally thought not to be his, and to have been written originally in Latin, for the use of some part of the Western

over the East, by the migration and dispersion of their Hebrew posterity.

* Lactant. I. iv. c. 16. + In Rom. 1. See Broughton's Histor. Libr. v. ii. 472.

Even Dr. Priestley himself very candidly admits, that all the early writers that have come down to us, except the author of the Clementine Homilies and Recognitions, were Trinitarians, from Justin Martyr to Athanasius, i. e. from the middle of the 2d century to the middle of the 4th. See the Append. to his History of Early Opinions, vol. iv.

p. 391.

[blocks in formation]

Church. It is commonly attributed to Vigilius; the African, who lived about the end of the 5th century; but Dr. Waterland concludes, from five reasons which he assigns, that “ Hilary, bishop of Arles, about the year 430, composed the Exposition of Faith, which now bears the name of the Athanasian Creed, for the use of the Gallican clergy, and particularly those of the diocese of Arles."* This creed obtained in France about A. D. 850, and was received in Spain and Germany about 100 or 180 years later. It was in common use in some parts of Italy in 960, and was received at Rome about 1014. And we have clear proofs of its hav: ing been sung alternately in the churches in Britain in the 10th century. We do not learn, however, that it ever had the sanction of any council; nor is it

yet fully ascertained, how far it is acknowledged by the Greek and Eastern Churches.t


As to the matter of this creed, according to all those that embrace its doctrines, it is a summary of the true orthodox faith, and a condemnation of all heresies, respecting the object of our faith, both ancient and modern. But, unhappily, it has proved a fruitful source of controversy; for, because there are some clauses in it, which threaten damnation to all those who do not give their assent to the doctrines laid down in it, some, even of

See his Crit. Hist. of the Athanasian Creed. # That it is received by the Greek Church, may doubtless be concluded from its having the sanction of public authority in the Russian Church. See Vol. I. of this work, p. 384.

[ocr errors]
« ÖncekiDevam »