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second there is abundant evidence of the contrary. For though the doctrine now spreads itself over so
called, of the doctrine, to be so weak and inconclusive, that he was very desirous of having something else to rest his faith upon. And this is pretty much the case with other advocates for these mysteries. They are willing to allow that none of these things can be proved from scripture, as soon as ever they , can find any thing else to substitute in the room of such miser. ably slender proof. Thus the papists have not only confessed, but contended, that the trinity cannot be proved from scripture. Hi unanimi consensu negant S. Trinitatis unam essentiam in sacris literis esse revelatam : says Sandius, in his Nucleus Hisa toriæ Ecclesiasticæ, pag. 152. edit. Colon. 1676. 4to. ; and he fills some pages with extracts from the writings of numbers of them, in proof of the assertion. See also, Brief Hist. of Unitarians, in Unitarian Tracts, 4to. 1691. vol. i. page 45, col. it. They admit the church, and tradition, and fathers, and councils, as rules of faith : but Mr. Hawkins being excluded by his protes. tantism from these supports for his mysteries, and feeling himself equally distressed by the insufficiency and weakness of scripture-proof, is reduced to the necessity of taking it for granted, that our Saviour's divinity is a point that was settled before the publication of the New Testament; and so is not proved, but only alluded to, in Scripture.
The anonymous author of a “ Vindication of the Trinity,” in three parts, written in 1753, in reply to Bishop Clayton's
Essay on Spirit,” who is said to have been Dr. Thomas Randolph, late Professor of Divinity, at Oxford (see Monthly Review, Old Series, vol. xi. p. 372), has also declared, that the “ divinity of Jesus is rather strongly intimated, than plainly taught," in the Scriptures, “ because Jesus found himself obliged to “ speak and act with great caution and reserve." Upon which an opponent makes some very good observations, and, among other things, asks; « What, caution and reserve, in a point which you deem, “ of such vast importance ? Rem tantam tang
negligenter? ... And is an intimation sufficient to prove a doctrine of so very difficult, and abstruse, and withal of so:
large a space of christian ground, * no one can read the fathers of the church without seeing what hard and long continued struggles it cost the monster to
“ important a nature ?” (See Monthly Review, ibid. p. 126 and 127.)
And it is observed by the authors of the Unitarian Tracts, in 4t0. 1691, &c. that there is not a text of any consequence in the controversy, but what has been given up by some or other of the principal critics among the Trinitarians ; so that among them they have given away the victory to their adversaries. This, they say, has been shewn by Sandius, in a treatise called Scriptura Trinitatis Revelatrix, which he wrote under the borrowed name of Cingallus. They affirm this to be the case with protestants as well as catholics; and they call upon Trinitarians to point out such a text: but the call was never answered. See Unitarian Tracts, vol. i. tract Brief Hist. p. 12 and 45; and vol. ij. tract i. p. 3. ; and vol iii. tract viii. p.
35. It is not to be wondered at, that Mr. Hawkins should feel the scriptures to be weak and insufficient on these points. A man who sets about to deduce the trinity from the appointment of the Lord's day, and from a text so decisive for the unity as 1 Cor. viii. 6. “ To us there is but one God, the father," which, I think, rivals Ambrose's proof from John xvii. 3. (See note in page 92), and who can make the seven spirits, in Rev. i. 4. to be the one person of the holy ghost, thus making up in all nine persons; or rather, as Dr. Wailis calls them, nine somewhats, i. e. a trinity of trinities, in this truly incomprehensible mystery ; cannot well do otherwise than feel the weakness of scripture. proofs. Proofs, call you them! By my faith, if this is your way of proving, you may prove what you will, from such a nose of wax!
* But though trinitarians are numerous, they are by no means one party, except in name; nor probably is there so many them, of any one description, as there are of unitarians. When they condescend to say what they mean by believing in the trinity, there is no such thing as finding ten of them entirely of a mind. When the controversy was agitated at the close of the L 2
work its way: Though aided and abetted by principalities and powers, by the rulers of the darkness of this world, and by spiritual wickedness in high places, its progress has been marked by most slow and painful gradations. It has been compelled to fight its way up, inch by inch, and to carry on the contest from century to century. And never to this hour has it been left in quiet and undisturbed possession of any part of christendom. So far is it from any pretensions to its having been a well known familiar tenet, commonly received and peaceably taught before the writing of the New Testament ! * 17th century, it was reckoned that there were forty different tri. nities which had been defended in writing. (See Unitarian Tracts, 4to. vol. ii. tract i. pages 8–10.) And a later inquirer observes, that ninety different trinities are to be made out of the different explanations that have been given of only two words in the controversy, viz. nature and person. (See Taylor's Ben Mordecai's Apology, vol. i. p. 75. edit. 8vo. 1784. See also p. 66. 84, &c.; and for Bishop Stilling fleet's enumeration of different trinities, see ibid. p. 213.)
* It is curious to see the different fancies of those who, one way or another, will have a trinity. Mr, Hawkins takes it for granted, that the doctrine was fully and clearly taught, and quietly acquiesced in, before the publication of the holy writings. Petavius, on the contrary, affirms, and the generality of trinitarians
agree with that learned writer on this point, that “ the “ catholic church accommodating itself, through prudential “ reasons, to human weakness, came not to the full profession 6 of its doétrines, but by little and little, and by certain de “grees." (See Taylor's Ben Mordecai, vol. i. p. 191 ; or Peta. vius de Trinit. lib. 11. cap. vii. sect. ii.) Petavius also allows, that the ante-nicene fathers were Arians. (See Taylor, ibid. p. 183, and also p. 45–59.)
All this serves to shew, how weak, men feel the scripture-proof of the doctrine to be.. One party of those who opposed the tri
No, Sir; the only true way of accounting for those incidental expressions which theologians dislocate and torture in order to make them speak the language of their school-bred systems, is by supposing, what all history confirms, that the doctrine was never known, nor thought of, till long after the New Testament was written. The writers of that book had no more conception that any body could ever be so extravagant as to conceive that Jesus was • really Jehovah,' than the writers of the Old Testamenţ had, that any body would conceive Moses, or a civil magistrate, to be Jehovah. And it was for this reason, and for this alone, that both the one and the other gave the title of God to a human ben ing, without scruple or hesitation.
Had they been aware of the folly and absurdity of succeeding ages, had they entertained the most distant suspicion that such a doctrine ever could be broached, the writers of the New Testament would have been as careful to avoid applying to their master, not only the term Gød, but every other metaphor which theologues have so much misconstrued
nity, were branded with the name of Scripturarians. See ibid. p. 176. Petavius says, that such as attempt to prove the trinity by scripture alone, sudare plus satis eos necesse est, et sạo artificio superari. De Trinitate, lib. iii. cap. xi. sect. ix. And even Sherlock, a strenuous defender of the doctrine, did not seem to be willing that the question should be decided by the scriptures only. See Unitar. Tracts. 4to. 1691. vol. i. tract on the Acts of Athanasius, p. 3. I have before observed, that all the texts have been given up by one or other of the trinitarians. See, in addi. fion to the references cited in the note, in page 147, the Unitar. Tracts, vol. ii. tract last, p. 30. L 3
and abused, as their master himself, had he suspected that such a thing as transubstantiation ever could have been conceived, would, no doubt, have been to avoid the words, this is my body. But the sober and rational Jesus, though during the very riod of his ministry he saw much of the folly and madness of his fellow-creatures, had no more notion that they could ever proceed to such a pitch of infatuation as to maintain that a piece of bread was really his body, than they could ever maintain that à stock of wood (John X. 7. xv. 1.) or a stone (1 Cor. x. 4.) was really that body. And in like manner his first and most rational disciples, whose thoughts and words were wholly moral and never metaphysical, or theological, had no more idea that
eye would ever see, or ear hear, or that it would “ enter into the heart of man," however they or any one else might incidentally express themselves, that the crucified Jesus was really Jehovah, than they had that the jews conceived him to be really Beel. zebub (Matt. X. 25.), or that Paul thought him to to be really Adam (1 Cor. xv. 45.), or that either jew or gentile, would ever suppose him to be really, either a lamb, or a lion (John i. 36. Rev. v. 5.).*
* Sir Isaac Newton, who, it appears, was what you call a Socinian, and who lamented Dr. Clarke's embracing Arianism, which opinion he feared had been, and would be, a great obstruction to the progress of christianity, declared to his friend Hopton Haynes, Esq. his persuasion, that the time would come, when the doctrine of the incarnation, as commonly received, would be exploded as an absurdity equal to transubstantiation. See page xviii. of the preface to vol. i. of Baron's tracts, called A Cordial “ for low Spirits.”