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of Nice decreed, "If they do not answer to this doctrine of the Trinity, let them not be baptised.'

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Thus the mysterious union of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as one God, was, in the opinion of the purest ages of the Christian church, clearly expressed in this form of Baptism. By it the primitive Christians understood the Father's gracious acceptance of the atonement offered by the Messiah; the peculiar protection of the Son, our great high priest and intercessor; and the readiness of the Holy Ghost to sanctify, to assist, and to comfort all the obedient followers of Christ, confirmed by the visible gift of tongues, of prophecy, and divers other gifts to the first disciples. And as their great Master's instructions evidently distinguished these persons from each other, without any difference in their authority or power, all standing forth as equally dispensing the benefits of Christianity, as equally the objects of the faith required in converts upon admission into the church, they clearly understood that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, were likewise equally the objects of their grateful worship: this fully appears from their prayers, doxologies, hymns, and creeds, which are still extant.

The second passage to be produced in support


of the doctrine now under consideration, is, the doxology at the conclusion of St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you." The manner in which Christ and the Holy Ghost are here mentioned, implies that they are persons, for none but persons can confer grace or fellowship; and these three great blessings of grace, love, and fellowship, being respectively prayed for by the inspired apostle from Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, without any intimation of disparity, we conclude that these three persons are equal and divine. This solemn benediction may therefore be considered as another proof of the Trinity, since it acknowledges the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Ghost.

The third and last passage which I shall quote upon this subject, is the following salutation or benediction in the beginning of the Revelation of St. John: "Grace and peace from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the Seven Spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ." Here the Father is described by a periphrasis taken from his attribute of eternity, and the seven spirits is a mystical expression for the Holy Ghost, used upon this occasion either because the salutation

is addressed to seven churches, every one of which had partaken of the spirit, or because seven was a sacred number among the Jews, denoting both variety and perfection, and in this case alluding to the various gifts, administrations, and operations of the Holy Ghost. Since grace and peace are prayed for from these three persons jointly and without discrimination, we infer an equality in their power to dispense those blessings; and we farther conclude that these three persons together constitute the Supreme Being, who is alone the object of prayer, and is alone the giver of every good and of every perfect gift.

It might be right to remark that the seven spirits cannot mean angels, since prayers are never in Scripture addressed to angels, nor are blessings ever pronounced in their name (c).

It is unnecessary to quote any of the numerous passages in which the Father is singly called God,

(c) I purposely omit the contested passage in the First Epistle of St. John, "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." In any case it would be improper to produce a doubtful text in support of so important a doctrine as that of the Trinity; but I must own, that after an attentive consideration of the controversy relative to that passage, I am convinced that it is spurious.

God, as some of them must be recollected by every one, and the divinity of the Father is not called in question by any sect of Christians; and those passages which prove the divinity of the. Son and of the Holy Ghost separately, will be more properly considered under the second and fifth articles. In the meantime we may observe, that if it shall appear, as I trust it will, from Scripture, that Christ is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, it will follow, since we are assured that there is but one God, that the three persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, by a mysterious union, constitute the one God, or as this article expresses it, that THERE IS A TRINITY IN UNITY; AND IN THE UNITY OF THIS GODHEAD THERE BE THREE PERSONS OF ONE SUBSTANCE, POWER, AND ETERNITY, THE FATHER, THE SON, AND THE HOLY GHOST.

The word Trinity does not occur in Scripture, nor do we find it in any of the early confessions of faith; but this is no argument against the doctrine itself, since we learn from the fathers of the first three centuries, that the divinity of the Son and of the Holy Ghost was, from the days of the apostles, acknowledged by the Catholic church, and that those who maintained a contrary opinion were considered as



heretics (d); and as every one knows that neither the divinity of the Father, nor the unity of the Godhead, was ever called in question at any period, it follows that the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity has been in substance, in all its constituent parts, always known among Christians. In the fourth century it became the subject of eager and general controversy; and it was not till then that this doctrine was particularly discussed. While there was no denial or dispute, proof and defence were unnecessary: Nunquid enim perfecte de Trinitate tractatum est, antequam oblatrarent Ariani (e)?" But this doctrine is positively mentioned as being admitted among catholic Christians, by writers who lived long before that age of controversy. Justin Martyr, in refuting the charge of Atheism urged against Christians, because they did not believe in the gods of the heathen, expressly says, "We worship and adore the Father, and the Son, who came from him and taught us these things, and the prophetic Spirit (f);" and soon after, in the same Apology, he under


(d) Vide Letters between Dr. Horsley and Dr. Priestley, Dr. Knowles's Primitive Christianity, and Wilson's Illustration of the Method of Explaining the New Testament by the early opinions of Jews and Christians concerning Christ.

(e) Augustine.

(f) Just. Mart. edit. Par. 1636, page 56.

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