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Was probably the earliest peopled land,
In persons of Osiris, Cneph, and Phtha."* Before leaving this presumptive argument, we will offer three remarks in confirmation of it:
In the first place, we would wish it to be distinctly understood that we do not by any means, concur with Dr. Beard and other Unitarian and infidel writers, in thinking that the heathen triads are similar to the christian Trinity, or could by any
*For the testimonies of the heathen to the doctrines of a Trinity, see Professor Kidd's Essay on the Trinity: Maurice's Indian Antiquities, vol. iv., ch. 2, 3 and 4: Dr. Hales on the Trinity, vol. ii., pp. 266-285 : Simpson's Plea for the Divinity of Jesus, p. 432-456 : Kidder's Demonstration of the Messiah: Cudworth's Intellectual System: Pritchard's Egypt, p. 295 : Faber's History of Idolatry, vol. iii., pp. 111, &c., 611, 616, 617 : Work on Egypt, by London Tract Society, p. 136, &c. Newman's History of Arianism in the 4th Century, p. 100: Poole's Horæ Egyptiacæ, p. 204-206 : Gale's Court of the Gentiles, vol. iv., p. 306, and vol. i., ch. 2, R. 68: Smith's Testimony to the Messiah, vol. iii., p. 420: Morris's Prose Essay on the Hindus, pp. 165, 365, and notes, p. 391 : Spencer de Leg. Hebrae., Lib. iii., Diss. 5, ch. 3: Hutchinson's Trinity of the Gentiles and Moses, Linc. Hey's Lectures on Div., B. iv., Art. 1, § 1, vol. i., p. 486, 2 vol. ad. See however, particularly, Ancient Fragments, with an Introd. Dissert., and an Inq. into the Trinity of the Ancients, by Isaac Preston Cory, 2d Ed., Lond., Pickering, 1832, which contains all the evidence from which to form our opinion.
This argument is also pursued at length, by Chevalier Ramsay, in his Princ. of Nat. and Rev. Rel., ed. Glasgow, 1748, vol. i., p. 97, and vol. ii. See also, Vossines, Huct, Kurher, Thomassin, Stanley and Purchas. Ramsay regards all the Pagan triads as variations of one common original faith, and the Chinese and Egyptian triads as going beyond and being independent of the Mosaic records.
See also, note A, being an Analysis and Historical account of the Pagan Triads, p. 560, vol. viii, of So. Pres. Review.
force of imagination have been transmuted into it. Many learned and able writers, who have perceived in the heathen triads the corruption of a primitive revelation of the Trinity, have nevertheless pointed out their manifest and essential dissimilarity to it.*
On this subject there is, therefore, a safe and middle way to be pursued. We are not, with Bishop Horsley, to attempt to construct out of the heathen triads a clear threefold personal distinction co-existing in one essential Godhead or nature, nor are we, on the other hand, to reject the manifest and indisputable analogy which they present to the doctrine of the Trinity. This analogy is as great in regard to this doctrine as it is to that of sacrifice and other firmly revealed and divinely authorized truths, and so great as to be altogether inexplicable, except upon the supposition, that like them, it is the corruption of a primitive revealed truth.†
Our object in the presentation of this presumptive argument in favour of the Trinity has, therefore, been twofold. First, to repel the a priori objection to this doctrine founded upon its alleged unreasonableness and contrariety to the general conceptions of mankind, and secondly, to prove that as the doctrine is one evidently above, and beyond, and contrary to, the natural conceptions of uninstructed reason, it must be traced to the source to which the Fathers and ancient philosophers them
*Şee Gale, vol. iv., p. 383: Cudworth, B. i., c. 4, § 34 and 35, and particularly Faber, as above, and in the pages following.
*“Much, (says Mr. Cory,) in his very learned work, (Anct. Fragments of the Phænician, Chaldean, and other writers, with Dissert. and Inq. into the Trinity of the Ancients, Lond. 1832, Pickering,) as has been said upon the Platonic trinity, I must confess that I can find fewer traces of that doctrine in the writings of Plato, than of his less refined predecessors, the Mythologists. I have given such extracts as appear to me to relate to the subject, together with a fragment of Amelius, which expressly mentions the three kings of Plato as identical with the Orphic Trinity. Dr. Morgan, in his Essay upon the subject, satisfactorily refutes the notion, that Plato regarded the Logos as the second person of the Trinity; and upon this refutation he denies that Plato held the doctrine at all, more particularly, as from the time of Plato to that of Ammonius Saccas, in the third century, no disciple of his school seems to have been aware that such a doctrine was contained in his writings. Perhaps, however, we may trace some obscure allusions to it in the beginning of the second hypothesis of the Parmenides, and in the passage which I have given, (though in the latter the doctrines appear rather to refer to the Monad and Duad, than to the genuine Trinity of the ancients.) So far from any such doctrine being maintained by the Pythagoreans, or in the Academy, we find only such vague allusions as might be expected among philosophers who reverenced an ancient tradition, and were willing after they had lost the substance, to find something to which they might attach the shadow. "The Christian Trinity is not a Trinity of principles, like that of the Persian philosophers; it does not consist of mere logical notions, and inadequate conceptions of Deity, like that of Plato; but it is a Trinity of subsistences, or persons, joined by an indissoluble union."
selves traced it, that is, to an originally divine revelation. "We may reasonably conclude," says Cudworth, “that which Proclus assented to of this Trinity, as it was contained in the Chaldaic Oracles to be true, that it was at first a Theology of divine tradition or revelation, or a divine Cabbala, viz: amongst the Hebrews first, and from them afterwards communicated to the Egyptians and other nations."*
The understanding of man can never be more grossly insulted than when Infidelity labours to persuade us, that a truth so awfully sublime as that at present under consideration, could ever be the offspring of human invention: nor can history be more violated than when it traces the origin of this doctrine to the schools of Greece. Equally above the boldest flight of human genius to invent, as beyond the most extended limit of human intellect fully to comprehend, is the profound mystery of the ever blessed Trinity.
We remark then, in the second place, that the very earliest manifestations of the Deity to unfallen, and to fallen man, give proof that God was then known, not as a personal unity but as a Trinity. God, we are everywhere taught in the Scriptures, is absolutely invisible to mortal eyes, and as a fact, never has been visible, “no man having seen," or being able to see “God at any time."! The Jehovah therefore, who is everywhere visible to men,—who appears to them and converses with them, cannot be Jehovah the Father, but must be Jehovah the son.
We find however, in addition to this primitive revelation of a visible Jehovah,—and of a plural deity who is also called Jehovah,--distinct mention made of "THE SPIRIT OF GOD moving on the face of the waters," which SPIRIT we are told, would "not always strive with the children of men."$ And thus we are led to the belief that a knowledge of a trinity of persons in the divine unity was the primitive revelation made of himself by God to man, and that the universal traditionary beliefs in this doctrine are the fossil remains of that primitive revelation.”
The third remark, on which we wish to dwell at some length before leaving this point is, that even should it be denied that this universal belief in the doctrine of a Trinity is the traditionary form of a primitive revelation, it does not follow that the christian doctrine originated as Dr. Beard and Unitarians generally,—following Voltaire, Volney, Gibbon, and other infidels, 1-affirm, in Pagan and idolatrous superstition. For, as we have already seen in part, and will further hereafter shew, there are sufficient grounds to believe that this doctrine of the Trinity is the doctrine of the Old as well as of the New Testament, and of the ancient Jews as well as of the primitive christians, and thus we are again brought to the conclusion that the doctrine of a Trinity is found to exist among all nations, must have been derived from the Hebrew Scriptures and people, or from a primitive and common revelation, and not from Pagan philosophy. And to suppose that mankind so universally, and in many cases so clearly, arrived at the separate and independent belief of some kind of Trinity in unity, is at once to abandon the whole foundation on which opposition to this doctrine rests, and to admit that instead of being irrational, contradictory, absurd, and incredible, the doctrine of the Trinity, and not the doctrine of a personal unity of the Godhead, is the result to which human reason has been universally brought by its own convictions. And if this is so, then that revelation should teach clearly, authoritatively and universally, what reason only taught obscurely, unauthoritatively and to the initiated and philosophic few, is in perfect accordance with the teachings of relevation, on the subjects of future life, immortality, and many other doctrines, such as the existence of angels.*
*B. i., c. 1, $ 35, quoted by Gale in Court of Gentiles, vol. iii., p. 386, and see also, vol. i., p. 8, ch. 2.
† Maurice Ind. Antiq., vol. iv., pp. 39, 40.
The historical fact that the doctrine of a Trinity is found embodied in all the most ancient forms of religion the world over, must be explained in some way. The hypotheses by which this fact can possibly be explained, are, however, very few.
By collecting all the evidence that can be had, and examining separately, and excluding successively every hypothesis which shall be found inconsistent with the admitted and undeniable facts, we may contract the circle of conjecture till but one hypothesis is left; which one must be the truth, and is thus negatively rendered matter of demonstration.
Now, Mr. Faber, in his admirable work on the Pagan Idolatry, has collected and separately examined all the different systems of the Heathen Mythology; and has shown that there
See Voltaire's Works, vol. 24, 26, 27, and Gibbon Hist. of Decl. and Fall, vol. ii., 4 to p. 227.
*See Horsley's Tracts, p. 45-50, and also Tholuck, as Note B.
is such a singular, minute and regular accordance among them, not only in what is obvious and natural, but also in what is arbitrary and circumstantial, both in fanciful speculations and in artificial observances, so as to render untenable every other hypothesis than this,-that they must all have arisen from some common source.
Having thus shewn their common origin, he enumerates three hypotheses, as the only three on which, he conceives, the common origination of the various systems of Paganism can be accounted for:
I. Either all nations agreed to borrow from one, subsequent to their several settlements :
II. Or all nations, subsequent to their several settlements, were compelled by arms to adopt the superstition of one:
III. Or all nations were once assembled together in a single place and in a single community, where they adopted a corrupt form of religion, which they afterwards respectively carried with them into the lands that they colonized.
After examining and shewing the utter impossibility of maintaining either the first or the second of these hypotheses, he concludes that the third only can be the truth.
May we not, therefore, as Dr. Cudworth remarks, adore the wonderful providence of God, who so ordered that this doctrine of a Trinity should have been generally retained in the heathen world, and received by their wisest philosophers. “Whereas," says the learned writer, bold and conceited wits, precipitantly condemning the doctrine of the Trinity for nonsense, absolute repugnancy to human faculties, and impossibility, have thereupon, some of them, quite shaken off christianity, and all revealed religion professing only Theism, others have frustrated the design thereof by paganizing it into creature worship or Idolatry; this ignorant and conceited confidence of both may be refunded and confuted from hence, because the most ingenious and acute of all the Pagan philosophers, the Platonists and Pythagoreans, who had no bias at all upon them, nor any Scripture, (which might seem to impose upon their faculties,) but followed the free sentiments and dictates of their own minds, did, notwithstanding, not only entertain this Trinity of divine hypostases eternal and uncreated, but were also fond of the hypothesis, and made it a main fundamental of their theology.* The latter Platonists and unbelieving Jews
*See also remarks to the same effect in Stillingfeet on the Trinity, pp. 216, 217. See also Note A.