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MISCELLANEOUS REMARKS.-The Christian Trinity is not a Trinity of principles, like that of the Persian philosophers; it does not consist of mere logical notions, and inadequate conceptions of the Deity, like that of Plato; but it is a Trinity of subsistences, or persons joined by an indissoluble union; and if it be true, “it is no doubt in the highest degree important and interesting."*
“Say not,” observes the late pious and excellent Bishop Horne, “say not, that the doctrine of the Trinity is a matter of curiosity and amusement only. Our religion is founded upon it: For what is Christianity, but a manifestation of the three divine persons, as engaged in the great work of man's redemption, begun, continued, and to be ended by them, in their several relations of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, three persons, one God?-If there be no Son of God, where is our redemption? If there be no Holy Spirit, where is our sanctification ?-Without both, where is our salvation?
jamin Ben Mordecai to his Friends, for embracing Christianity, in Seven Letters to Elisha Levi, Merchant of Amster. dam; together with an Eighth Letter on the Generation of Jesus Christ, with Notes and Illustrations. The 2d edit. with Alterations and Additions. By Henry Taylor, rector of Crawley, and vicar of Portsmouth; London, 1784, 2 vols. “ These letters were printed at various times, from 1771 to 1777, in 4to; they are composed with great learning and ingenuity, and contain the most formidable attack on, what is called, the Athanasian system, that is any where to be met with."-Bishop Watson's Catal. in the last vol. of his Tracts.
* So can even Dr. Priestley say; see Dr. Horsley's Let. ters to him, p. 186., VOL. II.
« And if these two persons be any thing less than divine, why are we baptised, equally, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost ?-Let no man therefore deceive you:“ This is the true God, and eternal life."*
* 1 John, v. 20.
Sermon on The Trinity in Unity, (in the fifth volume of his Lordship’s Sermons,) which sce, together with that on The Duty of contending for the Faith, in the same volume.
NAMES.—The Sabellians were so called from Sabellius, a presbyter, of, according to others, a bishop, of Upper Egypt, who was the founder of the sect. As, from their doctrine, it follows that God the Father suffered, they were hence called, by their adversaries, Patripassians; and, as their idea of the Trinity was by some called a Modal Trinity, they have likewise been called Modalists.
Sabellius having been a disciple of Noëtis, Noetians is another name by which his followers have sometimes been known;—and as, from their fears of infringing upon the fundamental doctrine of all true religion, the unity of God, they neglected all distinctions of persons, an i taught the notion of one God with three names, they may hence be also considered as a species of IJnitarians.
Rise, &c.-Sabellius flourished about the middle of the 3d century, when his doctrine began to be known under the persecution of Valerian. It had its rise, and chiefly prevailed in Ptolemais, or Barce, one of the five cities of Pentapolis, a province of Upper Egppt;* and it seems to have had many followers, for some little time; but its growth was soon checked by the opposition made to it by Dionysius, bishop of Alexandria, and the sentence of condemnation that was pronounced upon thor by Pope Dionysius, in a council held at Rome, A. D. 263.
It was afterwards condemned in a council at Alexandria, A. D. 319. Epiphanius however remarks, that its abettors had spread in considerable numbers throughout Mesopotamia, and in the neighbourhood of Rome; and the circumstance of their baptism having been rejected in a council at Constantinople, A. D. 381, is a proof that the sect was not then extinct. But St. Augustine seems to be of opinion, that it had no existence in the beginning of the 5th century.t
And though the adherents of Sabellianism, properly 'so called, have at no time been numerous in the Church since that period, yet their doctrine has given occasion to, or, at least, modifications of it have subsisted in, various succeeding heresies; and it is said to subsist, at this day, in the creed of many of the General Baptists in the principality of Wales. The Swedenborgians, also, have lately been charged with Sabellianism; and I am not yet aware that they have effectually repelled the charge.
* Euseb. Hist. lib. vii. cap. 6., &c. Hence it was called Damnabilis Pentapolitana Doctrina,
† Aug. De Her. c. 4.
DistingUISHING Tenet.—Sabellius taught, that there is but one person in the Godhead; and, in confirmation of this doctrine, he made use of this comparison :-as man, though composed of body and soul, is but one person, so God, though he is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is but one person. Hence the Sabellians reduced the three persons in the Trinity to three characters or relations, and maintained, that the Word and Holy Spirit are only virtues, emanations, or functions, of the Deity ;-that he who is in heaven is the Father of all things ;—that he descended into the Virgin, became a child, and was born of her as a Son ;—and that, having accomplished the mystery of our redemption, he diffused himself upon the apostles in tongues of fire, and was then denominated the Holy Ghost. This they explained by resembling God to the sun, the illuminative virtue or quality of which was the Word, and its warming virtue the Holy Spirit. The word, according to their doctrine, was darted, like a divine ray, to accomplish the work of redemption; and, having re-ascended to heaven, the influences of the Father were communicated, after a like manner, to the apostles.
They also attempted to illustrate this mystery