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they have, by many plain and decisive expressions, confined the one Godhead solely to the person of the Father; and thereby excluded every other being whatever from being partaker of it. A very sensible writer* who has distinguished himself in this controversy; and supported the Unitarian cause with great ability, observes : upon a strict inquiry it appears, 'that the word God, occurs in the sacred books of the New Testament, twelve hun. dred and eighty-eight times : that there are several hundred texts, wherein the Father is styled God absolutely, by way of eminence, it being impossible by the construction itself, that it should have any other sense. It is reasonable to understand the word, God, in the same sense in all the other texts, excepting those few, wherein the word is applied to Christ, and other beings, in an inferior sense, expressly. warranted by the sacred writers. There is not one text, wherein the word God, necessarily signifies more persons than one. There is not one text, wherein we are obliged to understand it of three persons; the sa Cred writers have not afforded us the least plausible pre. tence or colour, for any such sense.” Só far this writer.
I have now, my Christian brethren, in this, and the two preceding discourses produced all the passages of seripture that I intend to alledge in proof of my first proposition, which was : that there is one person, or intelligent agent, who alone is God, supreme, almighty, and eternal, and that this one person is the Father, or as he is some. times called in scripture, the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. . This is life eternal, that they might' know thee the only true God." I have selected the most perti. nent and decisive texts ; and could easily have increased their number had it been necessary. Some passages I have purposely omitted, because they come more naturally to be considered under the second proposition, than the first. I shall employ the remainder of this discourse, in pursuing more fully the hints I started in the first, conce
ncerning the repugnancy of this doctrine of a Trioity in unity to the light of natural reason. We have already seen that it is
* The author of the Appeal to the Common Sense of all Christian
contradicted by divine revelation ; the great standard of our belief in religious matters. : Reason points out to us the necessity of believing in a first cause, or original of all things. We are sure that we did not make ourselves, nor the world wherein we live. We are sure, that neither the world nor's ourselves were made by chancezi which properly speaking is nothing but a name, that conveys no idea to the mind. Wel also may be very
certain that the world wherein we live and its ina habitants are not eternat ; because experience and the history of mankind confutes this absurd supposition: and the sacred volume assures us, that in the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.' We find ourselves obliged to suppose a first cause; a cause ancaused by any foreigoi or external cause," who exists by 'absolute necessity of nature, who has been from'eternity; and who gave life and existence to all other beings whatever.
But although one may be compelled by irresistible evidence to acknowledge one first cause ::yet no good ar. gument can be produced to make it even probable, that more than one exists, or can exist. For one divine person or intelligent agent, possessed of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, is sufficient for all the purposes of creation and preservation. This will appear still more clear and striking, by stating an absurd and impossible supposition. Let us suppose for instance, that there are a thousand di. vine persons, each of them perfect God, as the word divine when taken in-a strict and absolute sense implies ; and possessed of all the proper attributes of God. It is perfectly obvious, that any one of these persons could perform as much singly, as the whole could do collectively. For each of them, if he be perfect God, must be omni. potent, omniscient, omnipresent, and infinitely, wise, and good : or in other words, inust possess all the natural and moral attribntés of God. From this consideration it clearly and necessarily follows, that nine hundred and ninety-nine oftiese supposed divino persons would be supernumerary and useless: for while one of them remains, that one is equivalent to the whole; and is sufficient to account for the whole system of pature.
Let us apply this mode of reasoning, to the commonly received doctrine of the Trinity. There are three persons, or intelligent agents, say the advocates for this doctrine,
cach of them God, and perfect God; or possessed of every possible perfection. I would ask the gentlemen who maintain this opinion, what use two of these persons are for; or what purpose they serve in nature ? Is not God the Father alone sufficient to create, or bring into being the universe, and to preserve and continue it in being, when created ? What reason then can be given for the ex. istence of a God the Son, or a God the Holy Ghost, equal with God the Father? It is evident, that these two persons are as much supernumerary and unnecessary, the nine hundred and ninety-nine above mentioned. It is absolutely necessary to stop at one person strictly and properly divine. If we once go beyond simple Unity, there is no saying how far we may proceed. If we adventure to make a second or third divine person, equal to the first, we may advance to a hundred, or a thousand such
persons, until we renew the whole system of Pagan Polytheism. But say the Trinitarians, we do not affirm that the three di. vine persons are three Gods; we deny this conclusion, and positively maintain, that they are not three Gods, but one God. And this is a great ineffable mystery which is beyond the reach of human understanding to fathom or comprehend. To this we reply, that it is no mystery ; but an express contradiction in terms to affirm, that three divine persons, or intelligent agents are not three Gods, but one God. For the words divine person, in the strict sense, are nothing else (as we before remarked) but a round about way of expressing the term God; and if une divine person be one God, it follows undeniably, that three divine persons are thrce Gods. For to say, that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God: and yet affirm that these are not three Gods, but one God, is affirming and denying in the very same breath; and equivalent to the assertion, that a thing is, and is not at the same time. It may with equal propriety be affirmed that God existed from all eternity; and yet began to exist at a certain period : that God exists throughout all nature; and yet is cris fined to a certain locality, or portion of space : that God is all-powerful; and yet is limited in his operations : or that God knows all things, and yet is ignorant of many things.
These are affirmations that every man of sound under.
standing will admit to be contradictory and absurd; and the same good sense which discovers the inconsistency of
these assertions, would, if it were permitted to operate and exert; itself, shew an equal contradiction in the scheme of a consubstantial Trinity in unity. But (as an eminent writer observes) : “ This distinction of persons in the Godhead, or divine essence, is also attended with other very great absurdities, as explained by divines. For they are constrained to allow and maintain that every person is distinguished from the other two by his own peculiar property ; otherwise, they would not be distinct or different persons, but one and the same person.! Accordingly they tell us, that every person in the divine nature or essence, is an intelligent substance, subsisting by itself, and really distinguished from the other two by its own incommunicable property. And if so, then it follows, that every person in the Godhead, or divine essence, has some property which the other two have not. For instance, the incom. municable and distinguishing property of the Father is ayevrold, or his being unbegotten : which property belongs neither to the Son nor: the Spirit, but to the Father alone ;l and being incommunicable, cari belong to none but him. The incommunicable and distinguishing property of the Son is yevinçıs.or being begotten, which property be.Jongs neither to the Father nor the Spirit, but to the Son alone; and being incommunicable can belong to none but him. The incommunicable and distinguishing property of the Spirit is extrOPEVOIS or his proceeding from the Father and the Son ; which property belongs neither to the Fa. ther, nor the Son,, but to the Spirit alone; and being in. communicable can belong to none but him. Now sceing every one of those persons is supposed to be, or subsist in the divine essence, it follows that every one of these properties which belongs to these persons, must also be in the divine essence. And certaindy every property in the divine nature ,or essence, must be a perfection. For in a nature infinitely perfect, nos property can possibly be a defect or imperfection. Whence it follows, that every one of the persons-supposed td subsist in the Godhead or divine essence, must have at least one perfection which the other two want; and must want, at least two perfections which the others have.-Consequently, no one of the persons
upon this scheme can be absolutely perfect, (because every one wants at least two perfections,) and so to one of the three persons can be the one true God, or the ne. cessarily all-perfect being. If it be said, that all the three persons together, make the one true God, then it is evident that the essence of the one true God is compounded of perfections and defects ; seeing every person in the divine essence wants two perfections, which the others have, or hath one perfection which the others want. But this is absurd and inconsistent with the all-perfect nature of God. Nay, further, it will follow, that the essence of the one true God, must admit of contradictory and opposite properties or perfections. For one person in the Godhead, or divine essence, will be endowed with the property of being unbegotten, and another person with the contrary and opposite property of being begotten. One person will pro. ceed, and the other two will not proceed, so that it will, at the same time, be true of the divine essence, that it is begotten and not begotten, that it proceeds and doth not proceed, which is absurd, and altogether inconsistent with the all perfect nature of God. Thus this scheme terminates in atheism, or the denying of the one only Lord God, Jude ver. 4."*
From these considerations it appears, how dangerous it is to depart from the precise and simple notion of unity in speaking or reasoning concerning the divine being. The Trinitarians are perpetually varying and shifting their theories and hypotheses, and often to avoid one absurdity find themselves obliged to run into a greater. They have frequently invented new modes of explication and illustration : and the new when accurately examined, are found to be full as contradictory as the old.
There is always some latent absurdity, discoverable by an acute and intelli. gent examiner, which unawares oversets the whole profound and intricate system, which had cost so much labour of thought, and consumption of time, to fabricate.
Some Trinitarians have affirmed, that their three divine * Taylor's tracts, Vol. I. p. 59, note. London, 1768.--For this quotation am indebted to the late learned and acute Dr. Taylor, sometime pastor to a society of Protestant Dissenters at Norwich: and afterwards Professor of Divinity at the academy of War. rington,