« AnteriorContinuar »
mind consistent with accountability, 260.-Passive regeneration makes
What are the sources of its moral power, 281.- To be learned
Christian name used as an engine of church policy, 306.—All sects
Best illustrated by its opposite, how a man becomes a heathen in
The principle on which they are established, 364.—Creeds reveal
For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many, and lords many;) but to us there is one God, the Father.—1 Cor. viii. 5, 6.
It was asked of our Saviour on a certain occasion, "Which is the first commandment of all?” in modern phrase, What is the most important fundamental principle of religion? He answered, “Hear, 0! Israel, the Lord your God is one Lord.” Or, as it stands out in greater distinctness and sublimity in the Hebrew original of Moses, "Hear, 0! Israel, Jehovah your God, Jehovah is one.”
He laid the foundation of religion in the Unity of God. His heaven-inspired mind saw more clearly than we can do, the dependence of the purity and integrity of religion on the recognition of one undivided Object of religious worship and affection. We, who see but in part, can perceive the same truth only through the medium of past experience. That has ever vindicated the transcendant wisdom of our Master. For there has been scarcely an error in opinion, or a corruption in practice, in the Christian church which has not been in some way con
nected with a violation of this great truth, that God is one.
In commencing, then, a course of Lectures on Christian Doctrine, I cannot do amiss when I attempt to lay, as he did, the foundation of religion in the Unity of God. But on the very threshhold of our inquiries we meet a difficulty, we encounter what seems to us an opposite doctrine, that God is three Persons. Before we make any progress, then, we must examine this doctrine. To this subject, therefore, our first three lectures will be devoted. And while we discuss the doctrine of the Trinity, let nothing which may be said be construed into disrespect, either for the understanding or the integrity of those who hold it. It is a doctrine for which the present generation are not responsible. It has been handed down to them by their fathers, with the venerable associations of antiquity; it is interwoven with literature and devotion, and thus has a sacredness in their eyes which takes the place of evidence, and almost precludes calm and dispassionate investigation. The duty of the present age is inquiry. Truth is paramount both to authority and sacred association. Our first allegiance is due to Truth. I invite all, then, to the discharge of a duty, when I invite them to follow me in this discussion. If they adopt my conclusions, in justice to their understandings, I should hope it will not be on insufficient ground. If they fail to do so, they will at least exchange a faith derived from tradition for one founded on evidence.
In the course of these Lectures I shall frequently quote from the “Confession of Faith" of the divines at Westminster, and from the "Thirty-nine Articles of the Church of England;” not from any unkindness towards those who profess these creeds, or with a design to hold them up to odium or derision, but merely because they contain the most formal and authentic statement of the doctrines I shall discuss, and because they are the public and acknowledged standards of large and respectable bodies of the Christian church.
The doctrine of the Trinity, as stated in the public symbols of faith, is this: “There are three -persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. These three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.” We object to this doctrine, that it is not taught in nature, that it is rejected by reason, that it is inconsistent and contradictory to itself, and finally, that it is not taught in scripture, but is contradicted by it. Nature is one of the revelations which God has made of himself. There are abundant teachings in nature concerning one of these persons, the Father. “For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead.” Nature teaches no Trinity. It bears evident marks of being the work of one Infinite Mind.
But concerning the second and third of these persons it profoundly silent. Men are said to be without excuse if they do not glorify this one being as God. But