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takes to shew the reasonableness of the honour paid by Christians to the Father in the first place, to the Son in the second, and to the Holy Ghost in the third, and says, that their assigning the second place to a crucified man, was, by unbelievers, denominated madness, because they were ignorant of the mystery, which he then proceeds to explain (g). Athenagoras, in replying to the same charge of Atheism urged against Christians, because they refused to worship the false gods of the heathen, says, "Who would not wonder, when he knows that we, who call upon God the Father, and God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, shewing their power in the unity, and their distinction in order, should be called Atheists (h)?" Clement of Alexandria, not only mentions three divine persons, but invokes them as one only God. Praxeas, Sabellius (i), and other unitarians,

(g) Page 60.

(h) Athenag. ad Colum. Just. Mart. p. 11. edit. Par. 1615.

(i) Praxeas and Sabellius taught an unity of persons as well as of substance, supposing that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, were only different terms for the same person, which led to the heresy of the Patripassians, who affirmed, that the Father was incarnate, and suffered upon the cross. It is curious to observe the contrast which the antient Ebionites and the modern Socinians form to these opinions. Praxeas lived in the second, and Sabellius in the third century.

[PART III. unitarians, accused the orthodox Christians of tritheism, which is of itself a clear proof that the orthodox worshipped the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and though in reality they considered these three persons as constituting the one true God, it is obvious that their enemies might easily represent that worship as an acknowledgment of three Gods. Tertullian, in writing against Praxeas, maintains, that "A Trinity rationally conceived, is consistent with truth; and that unity irrationally conceived, forms heresy." He had before said, in speaking of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, that "there are three of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, because there is one God:" and he afterwards adds, "The connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Comforter, makes three united together, the one with the other; which three are one thing, not one person; as it is said, I and the Father are one thing, with regard to the unity of substance, not to the singularity of number:" and he also expressly says, "The Father is God, and the Son Is God, and the Holy Ghost is God;" and again, "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, believed to be three, constitute one God." And in another part of his works he says, "There is a Trinity of one Divinity, the Father, and the Son,


And Tertullian not only

and the Holy Ghost." maintains these doctrines, but asserts that they were prior to any heresy, and had indeed been the faith of Christians from the first promulgation of the Gospel (k). To these writers of the second century we may add Origen and Cyprian in the third; the former of whom mentions Baptism (alluding to its appointed form) as the

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(k) These passages, from this most antient of the Latin fathers, appear to me so important, that I am tempted to transcribe the words of the original: Duos et tres (deos) jam jactitant a nobis prædicari; se vero unius Dei cultores præsumunt: quasi non et Unitas, irrationaliter collecta, hæresim faciat; et Trinitas, rationaliter expensa, veritatem constituat. Adv. Prax. cap. 2.-Tres unius substantiæ, et unius statûs et unius potentiæ, quia unus Deus. cap. 2.-Connexus Patris in Filio, et Filii in Paracleto, tres afficit cohærentes, alterum ex altero: qui tres unum sunt, non unus ; quomodo dictum est, Ego et Pater unum sumus, ad substantiæ unitatem, non ad numeri singularitatem. cap. 16.-Pater est Deus omnipotens, Filius est suo jure Deus omnipotens. cap. 12.-Spiritus Deus est. cap. 16.-Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus, tres crediti, unum Deum sistunt. cap. 21.-Trinitas est unius Divinitatis, Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus. De Pud, cap. 20.-Hanc regulam ab initio Evangelii decucurrisse, etiam ante priores quosque hæreticos, nedum ante Praxean hesternum, probabit tam ipsa posteritas omnium hæreticorum, quam ipsa novellitas Praxeæ hesterni. Adv. Prax.

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source and fountain of graces to him who dedicates himself to the divinity of the adorable Trinity (1)." And the latter, after reciting the same form of Baptism, says, that "by it Christ delivered the doctrine of the Trinity, unto which mystery or sacrament the nations were to be baptised."

It would be easy to multiply quotations upon this subject; but these are amply sufficient to shew the opinions of the early fathers, and to refute the assertion that the doctrine of the Trinity was an invention of the fourth century.

To these positive testimonies I will subjoin a negative argument: those who acknowledged the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, are never called heretics by any writer of the first three centuries; and this circumstance is surely a strong proof that the doctrine of the Trinity was the doctrine of the primitive church; more especially, since the names of those, who first denied the divinity of Christ and of the Holy Ghost, are transmitted to us as of persons who dissented from the common faith of Christians.

But, while we contend that the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity is founded in Scripture, and supported

(1) Orig. Tom. 6. in Rom.

supported by the authority of the early Christians, we must acknowledge that it is not given to man to understand in what manner the three persons are united, or how, separately and jointly, they are God. It would, perhaps, have been well, if divines, in treating this awful and mysterious subject, had confined themselves to the expressions of Scripture; for the moment we begin to explain it beyond the written Word of God, we plunge ourselves into inextricable difficulties. And how can it be otherwise? Is it to be expected that our finite understandings should be competent to the full comprehension of the nature and properties of an infinite Being? "Can we find out the Almighty to perfec-. tion (m)," or penetrate into the essence of the Most High?" God is a Spirit (n)," and our gross conceptions are but ill adapted to the contemplation of a pure and spiritual Being. We know not the essence of our own mind, nor the precise distinction of its several faculties; and why then should we hope to comprehend the personal characters which exist in the Godhead? If I tell you earthly things, and you understand them not, how shall ye understand if I tell you heavenly things? When we attempt to investigate the nature of the Deity, whose existence is com

(m) Job, c. 11. v. 7.




(n) John, c. 4. v. 24.

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