Page images

of mere curiosity. If the doctrine of the Trinity were now first discovered by mankind to be contained in the Scriptures, the words being supposed to have remained always the same, we should undoubtedly be surprised to find that those passages which in our view clearly contain this doctrine, had never been understood by others in the same manner as by ourselves. Particularly, we should be inclined to doubt the soundness of our own interpretations, if we found the Jews construing such passages in the Old Testament, and the early Christians in the New, in a manner totally different from ours. Were such the fact, we should, I think, very naturally suspect our own mode of construction; for we could not easily believe that the Jewish church was always ignorant of this doctrine, if it was really taught by the prophets, nor the early Christian church, if it was decisively communicated by the apostles. It will be easily seen, that the time in which those lived to whom an appeal of this nature is made, must be important, as well as the character of the witnesses. The more ancient the witnesses are, other things being equal, the more valuable must be their testimony; and such testimony, if really ancient, and at the same time explicit and decisive, cannot fail of yielding material satisfaction to every rational inquirer.

Nor is the testimony even of heathens concerning this subject to be disregarded. If we find that the ancient heathen nations generally, or in most or all instances, independently of any acquaintance with the Scriptures, have holden the doctrine of a triad constituting a monad, that is, a supreme God, who was one in one sense, and three in another, we cannot easily avoid the conclusion, that they derived this doctrine from a single source, and that that source was revelation. The doctrine plainly lies wholly out of the course, I think I may say out of the reach, of human thought. There is therefore no reason why we should believe it to have been invented by man. Much less is there any reason to suppose it invented by men in so many different nations, and in such circumstances of barbarism as almost preclude the invention of any philosophical doctrine. The source of the doctrine must, therefore, have been one, and that a Revelation, existing before these nations were separated from each other.

In the text a person declares concerning himself, I have


[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, there am I: and now the Lord God, (in the Original the Lord Jehovah,) and his Spirit hath sent me.' The person speaking in this verse, is in the 2nd verse called 'Jehovah of Hosts,' or Jehovah God of Hosts.' And in the 12th verse he says,' I am he; I am the first: I also am the last.' Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth; my right hand hath spanned the heavens. When I call unto them they stand up together.' The person speaking in the text is then Jehovah of Hosts; the first and the last ;'-' the Creator of the earth and the heavens.' And this person says, And now the Lord Jehovah and his Spirit hath sent me : or, more properly, The Lord Jehovah hath sent me and his Spirit.' Origen, as quoted by Bishop Lowth, comments on this passage in this manner; "Who is it, that saith in Isaiah,



And now the Lord hath sent me and his Spirit?' in which, as the expression is ambiguous, is it the Father and the Holy Spirit, who hath sent Jesus? or the Father, who hath sent both Christ and the Holy Spirit? The latter is the true interpretation." This opinion of Origen appears to be just: because we nowhere read in the Scriptures, that Christ was sent by the Spirit; but everywhere, that both Christ and the Spirit were sent by the Father, called in the text the Lord God,' To the present purpose, however, this difference of interpretation is wholly immaterial. Whether the Spirit send, or he sent, he is equally determined to be a living agent; since in the physical sense it is impossible that any other being should either send, or be sent. In the text then, the doctrine of a Trinity is directly declared by a person, styled 'Jehovah of Hosts.' Let us now see what countenance this doctrine receives from the sources which I have specified above.

It will not be imagined that in the compass of such a Discourse, any thing more can be done, than merely to make a moderate selection of the testimonies referred to. For those, which I shall mention, I am chiefly indebted to Bishop Bull, Doctor Jamieson, Mr. Maurice, and the Asiatic Researches: and it is believed that they will be sufficiently numerous, and sufficiently explicit, to satisfy a mind willing to receive the truth.

I. To the pre-existence of Christ the following testimonies must, I think, be regarded as complete.

1. Justin Martyr, who flourished in the year 140, and was born about the close of the first century, declares Christ to have been the person who appeared to Abraham under the oak of Mamre; and asserts that the person here called Lord, or Jehovah, to whom Abraham prays for Sodom, and who, in the next chapter, is said to rain fire and brimstone on the cities of the plain, was no other than Christ. He also asserts that Christ appeared to Moses in the bush.


2. Irenæus, who flourished in the year 178, declares that Christ, as God, was adored by the prophets; was the God of the living; and the living God;' that he spoke to Moses in the bush; and that afterwards the same person refuted the doctrine of the Sadducees concerning the resurrection of the dead. He further says, that Abraham learned divine truth from the Logos, or Word of God.

3. Theophilus of Antioch, who flourished in the year 181, declares that Christ, assuming то проσWпо! тOU пaтpos, the chaτο πρόσωπον του πατρος, racter of the Father, that is, the divine character, came to Paradise in the appearance of God, and conversed with Adam.

4. Clemens Alexandrinus, who flourished in the year 194, exhibits Christ as the author of the former precepts, and of the latter; that is, of the Scriptures of the Old Testament, and of the New; deriving both from one fountain.

5. Tertullian declares that it was the Son of God who spoke to Moses, and who appeared, (that is, as God,) at all times; that he overthrew the tower of Babel; confounded the languages of men; and rained fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah. He calls him, "Dominus a domino;" and says, that "he only, and alway, conversed with men, from Adam down to the patriarchs and prophets, in visions and dreams; and that no other God conversed with men beside the Word, who was afterward to be made flesh."

II. That Christ was the Creator of the world, in the view of the ancient church, the following testimonies satisfactorily


1. Barnabas, who as you well know was a companion of the apostles, and could not but know their views of this subject, says, in an epistle of his, yet remaining, "The sun in the heavens was the work of the Son of God."

[ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors][merged small][ocr errors][ocr errors][ocr errors]

2. Hermas, also a companion of the apostles, says, "The Son of God was more ancient than any creature; seeing he was present with the Father at the creation of the world."

3. Anthenagoras, who flourished in the year 178, says, "By Christ, and through Christ, all thing were created; since the Father and the Son are, one thing;—one substance."

4. Justin Martyr declares, that " More than one divine person are denoted by the phrase, 'The man is become as one of us;' and that one of these is Christ."

5. Clemens Alexandrinus says, "The Logos is the universal architect ;" that is, the Maker of all things. He farther says, "The Logos is the Creator of men and of the world." He also speaks of the Logos as the universal ruler, and instructor.

III. That Christ was truly God, in the view of the ancient Church, will fully appear from the following testimo


1. Clement of Rome, who was a companion of the apostles, calls Christ" the sceptre of the greatness of God;" and says, "He had it in his power to have come with pomp and magnificence, but would not."

2. Polycarp, a disciple of St. John, when at the stake, addressed a prayer to God, which he concluded in this manner; "For all things I praise thee; I bless thee; I glorify thee; together with the eternal and heavenly Jesus Christ; with whom, unto thee, and the Holy Spirit, be glory, both now and for ever, world without end. Amen."

3. Justin Martyr declares, that "Christ, the first-born Word of God, exists as God; that he is Lord and God, as being the Son of God; and that he was the God of Israel."

He also says, "We adore and love the Word of the unbegotten and invisible God." And again, “ Him (the Father of righteousness,) and that Son who hath proceeded from him, and the prophetical Spirit (that is, the Spirit of inspiration,) we worship and adore."

This doctrine also Trypho, his Jewish antagonist, admits as the doctrine of the Gentile Christians, generally.

4. The church of Smyrna, in their epistle to the other churches concerning the martyrdom of Polycarp, in which

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

the abovementioned doxology is quoted, says, "We can never forsake Christ, nor worship any other: for we worship him as being the Son of God."

5. Athenagoras says, "The Nes xa Aoyos, (Mind and Word of God,) is the Son of God;" and, "We who preach God, preach God the Father, God the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one." 6. Tatian, bishop of Antioch, who flourished in the year 172, says, "We declare, that God was born in human form." 7. Melito, bishop of Sardis, who flourished in the year 177, says, "We are worshippers of one God, who is before all, and in all, in his Christ, who is truly God, the eternal Word."

8. Theophilus, bishop of Antioch, says, "The three days before the creation of the heavenly luminaries, represent the Trinity; God, and his Word, and his wisdom."


9. Clemens Alexandrinus prays to Christ to be propitious, and says, "Son and Father, both one Lord, grant that we may praise the Son, and the Father, with the Holy Ghost, all in one; in whom are all things, through whom are all things in one, through whom is Eternity, of whom we are all members, to him, who is in all things good, in all things beautiful, universally wise and just; to whom be glory, both now and for ever. Amen." Amen." He also says, "Gather together thy children, to praise in a holy manner, to celebrate without guile, Christ, eternal Logos, infinite age, eternal light, fountain of mercy."

10. Tertullian says, "The name of Christ is everywhere believed, and everywhere, worshipped, by all the nations mentioned above. He reigns everywhere, and is everywhere adored. He is alike to all a King, and to all a Judge, and to all a God and a Lord."

Again: "Behold all nations henceforth emerging from the gulph of error, to the Lord God the Creator, and to God his Christ."

Tertullian also declares, that, "Tiberius received accounts from Palestine, of the things which manifested the truth of Christ's divinity."

To these Christian testimonies, all of the two first centuries, I shall subjoin a few others, out of multitudes, which belong to a later period.

[ocr errors][merged small]
« PreviousContinue »