« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
“If the Father is God, and Christ is God, and the spirit is God, then there are more Gods than one,” are expressions often oc curring with our author. He could not be ignorant of the fact, that Trinitarians do not hold that God is one and three in the same sense, and yet we are unwilling to believe that he would intentionally make an issue where there is none.
We say that it is not impossible, as our author assumes, that the one indivisible intelligent agent" should manifest himself as three moral agents. This we may illustrate by the human mind. I will ask my Unitarian friend, sir, what are you? "One indivisible intelligent agent,” he will doubtless say, with truth. Very well; so you are. Do not forget this. But has this unity of yours no manifested distinct forms ? Verily, it has three of them. Philosophers agree in finding three great powers in the human mind, the distinct existence of which, and no more, is verified by the phenomena of this one indivisible substance. They are, Intellect, Sensibility, and Will. The first is the knowing power, the second is the feeling power, and the third is the acting power. Are these powers distinct? In some respects, perfectly so. You never confound them. Moreover, they each have a body of flesh and blood. The Intellect's body is the brain, and the five senses are its feet, hands and tongue. The Sensibility's body is composed of the nerves of sensation. The Will's body is the system of voluntary muscles. Moreover, and more strangely still, these powers send each other, address and pray to one another, and are mutual ly dependent upon each other. The Will sends the Intelligence to the heavens to study its geography and walk among the stars. Intellect commands the Will to construct a telescope according to the pattern which he presents, that he may
have a chariot in which to perform the required journey. Intellect again fastens his eye upon a poor way-side beggar, an object of deep suffering, and hastens to tell the story to the Sensibility, in whose bosom a flood of pity and compassion is excited. They are both agreed as touching one point, and unitedly they supplicate the Will, who is the executive and holds the purse, to give something for the sufferer's relief. They pray earnestly and with deep emotions, presenting, at the same time,a variety of motives. Will sometimes answers the prayer and grants the supply, and at other times, loving the purse which he holds, he says, "Be ye warmed and filled," and with
needed aid. Sensibility says again to the Will, Gratify this appetite for liquid fire, and the Will doeth it; or the Will responds to the Sensibility, “Indulgence shall not be granted,"
and the drunkard is reformed. The dependence of these powérs upon each other is manifest. Either can say to the others, without me, ye can do nothing.” Moreover still, "these three are one." One what? One indivisible intelligent agent. They are three distinct manifestations of unity.
We must here refer to the obvious distinction between substance or essence, and attributes-a distinction which our author admits. The distinction is plain, and authoritatively affirmed by reason.
Matter is a substance with its peculiar attributes. Among the peculiar attributes of matter are resistance, form, divisibility. How many attributes matter has, we know not. Chemistry alone shows that it has many. Some of these qualities form the foundation of one science, and others of another. But this we know, resistance is not matter itself, nor is form, or divisibility. These are some of the manifested attributes of matter. Other attributes are intangible, but neither one nor all of them constitute matter itself. Matter itself is a substance known only by its attributes or qualities.
Precisely so of mind. It is a substance with its peculiar attributes. Jts attributes are Intellect, Sensibility, and Will. My intellect is not myself. The omniscience of God is not God, but one of his attributes. So omnipotence is not God; nor is omnipresence, nor spirituality, nor eternity, God. They are some of the attributes of God. God himself is a substance, with his peculiar attributes.
To return again to our illustration from the human mind. It is obvious that the plurality of attributes inherent in, or belonging to our minds, does not destroy our unity. I am still “an individual, intelligent agent," although I have these attributes inhering in my nature. This my Ŭnitarian friend must allow. He must admit, too, that if a still greater number of attributes were given to my nature than it now has, I should still be but one. If the attribute of foreknowledge were added, my oneness would remain precisely as now; and the same would be true, if a hundred new attributes were incorporated into my substance. This is plainly undeniable. It is equally obvious that my unity would not be at all impaired, if there were a threefold repetition of the attributes which now inbere in my mind. This would be no more incompatible with unity of substance, than is the actual existence of a plurality of attributes,
We have not introduced this illustration to show that there are three moral agents in one man, but to show that there might be three manifestations of moral agency from one
indivisible substance, without any more mystery or absurdity, than pertains to our present actual mode of existence. The three great powers or attributes of the human mind are essential to one moral agent, and hence a man is but a single moral agent. Our illustration conducts us simply to this conclusion. If one indivisible mind may have a plurality and diversity of attributes, without destroying its unity, then, in the nature of the case, there is no reason to suppose one individual mind might not have inhering in it that number and kind of attributes which are necessary to constitute three moral agents without destroying its unity. This conclusion, we think, is manifest and undeniable. Its bearing is obvious.
Our author admits, as every sensible man must, that in the essence or substance which constitutes the unity of God, there are a variety of attributes inhering, some of which do not belong at all to man. Admitting this, he cannot, with any show of reason, affirm that there may not be inhering in the one divine substance precisely the attributes necessary to constitute three moral agents, instead of one: and if he cannot affirm this, how can he logically assume, that the unity of God is incompatible with the trinity?
If, as we have seen, the attributes of the human unity may be separately revealed, each with its own peculiar organism; if they may send each other, and be dependent upon each other, seeming almost to be clothed with real personality, how can it be said that the three groups of attributes necessary to a threefold moral agency in the divine unity may not be separately revealed, (since, too, the divine substance is supposed to be omnipresent,) each, if you please, with its own peculiar organisms and relations—that they may not send each other and be sent, and may not be clothed with a real personality, so far as all the exigencies of moral agency are concerned, while they are yet dependent upon each other? We see not how this can be denied. Quite, sure we are that our author utterly fails to show that it may not be so.
It may be needful here to define a moral agent. A moral agent, then, is a mind, a substance, possessing intelligence, sensibility, and free-will, or the attributes necessary to impose moral obligation. Now the difference between the three moral agents in the Divine Trinity, and the three moral agents, Paul, Peter, and John, is this: in the former case, the substance of the three is not separate and distinct, but is one individual essence. Their attributes are distinct from each other and separately revealed. In the latter case, each of the three moral agents has a separate and distinct substance, alike in each case, yet separate and disunited. If we could suppose the three separate substances of Paul, Peter, and John, to become united so as to be literally but one substance or essence, and yet otherwise remaining as they now are, then the two cases would be similar, only that the one would be an infinite and the other a finite trinity-one substance would be infinite, with infinite attributes, and the other would be finite, with finite attributes.' For the benefit of those who regard the doctrine of the Trinity as utterly unreasonable, it may not be amiss to say, that many philosophers of the present day hold that all human minds have one common substance.
To these three moral agents in the Godhead, we apply the names, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We say that the Father is the Supreme God of the Universe; and by this title we designate the one indivisible infinite substance which reveals itself in one 'group of attributes necessary to moral agency. The attributes are not the supreme God, but the substance. So we call the Son the supreme God, and the Holy Ghost, for precisely the same reason. Whether we give the title God to either of the persons, we designate the same thing, the one individual mind. By the term person we mean the separate manifestation of moral agency. The three persons are perfectly equal. They are equal, because their essence or real being is the same, and because their attributes are all infinite and alike in kind and number, One infinite will has all the power three could have, and so of other attributes.
Thus far, then, we think we have cleared the doctrines of the Trinity and the Supreme Divinity of Christ, of all objection on the ground of absurdity or unreasonableness. They are plainly no more difficult of conception than is our own admitted mode of existence. We have shown also, that the basis of our author's reasoning—the incompatibility of unity and trinity-has no foundation to support it.
We must here notice two or three of our author's prominent arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity, before passing more especially to our review of his positions in reference to Christ's supreme Divinity.
The first is that to which we have before alluded - If God is one, he cannot be three.” After what has been said, the statement of the argument suggests an ample refutation. If God is one essence, he cannot be three essences. This we admit. This the doctrine of the Trinity does not contradict. If the author means any more than this by his argument, it is a palpable begging of the question. We have shown that one divine essence may manifest itself through the attributes of a threefold moral
agency. A second argument of our author is, that “the doctrine of the Trinity involves the idea of Tri-theism." The doctrine of the Trinity is, that there is but one God subsisting in three persons. This argument is worthless, until it be shown, that one God cannot manifest himself, as we have shown that he may.
Another argument is given by our author in his lectures, substantially thus: "By the term person, as used by Trinitarians, must be meant that which is a distinct being, mind, or intelligence, or that which is not a distinct being, mind, or intelligence. Now if God exists in three persons, and yet by a person is meant that which is a distinct being, then there are three distinct Beings existing in God-three infinite and eternal Gods, which is Tri-theism. If by the term person be meant that which is not a distinct being, then neither Father, Son, nor Spirit, is a distinct being, and there is no distinct God actually existing in the universe.”
The major premise of the argument is false. By the term person it is not necessary that we should mean " that which is a distinct being, mind, or intelligence, or that which is not a distinct being, &c." It may mean just what we use it to mean, viz, that which is, and is not a distinct being, &c. --that is, is in one sense, and is not in another and a widely different sense.
Our readers will see that our author can wield the reductio ad absurdum only by attaching such a sense to our words as makes us teach that God is one and three in the same sensema thing which no respectable Trinitarian holds. Stated as our author's positions are in this argument, the reasoning is of the petitio principii order. Change the premises so as to meet the real issue, and they will not allow of one of the formidable inferences, which he, with such a show of logic, would draw from them. Let the term person denote distinctness in one sense, wbile it does not deny unity in another, according to Trinitarian usage, and all this reasoning falls like “ the baseless fabric of a vision.” The peculiar vice in our author's argumentation is, that he is perpetually, in oné form or another, begging the question.