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advantage can be claimed by it. For all that can be said in its favor is, that the mind does not revolt at it quite so much, as at the original hypothesis.
With respect to the Trinitarians of the present age, and especially with us in England, those who have written on the subject are far from being agreed in their opinions, and therefore ought to be classed very differently from one another. But as they can agree in using the same phraseology, and mankind in general look no farther, they pass uncensured, and the emoluments of the establishment are equally accessible to them all. They are all, however, reducible to two classes, viz: that of those who, if they were ingenuous, would rank with Socinians, believing that there is no proper divinity in Christ, besides that of the Father: or else with Tritheists, holding three equal and distinct Gods. For, it cannot be pretended that the word being, and persons, have any definable difference in their corresponding ideas, when applied to this subject.
The generality of the more strict Trinitarians, make three proper, distinct persons, in the Trinity, independent of each other, which is nothing less than making three distinct Gods. Mr Howe would have helped out this hypothesis by supposing a mutual self-consciousness among them. But this is equally arbitrary and ineffectual; since three perfectly distinct, intelligent beings still remain. For supposing a proper self-consciousness to be communicated to three men, this circumstance could never be imagined to make them one man.
Bishops Pearson and Bull, were of opinion, that "God “the Father is the sole fountain of deity, the whole divine
nature being communicated from him to the Son and Spir“il, yet so that the Father, Son, and Spirit are not separate or "separable from the divinity, but still exist in it." But this union is a mere hypothetical thing, of which we can neither have evidence nor ideas. If the Father be the sole fountain of deity, he only is God, in the proper sense of the word, and the two others can be nothing but creatures, whether they exist in the deity (of which also we have no ideas) or out of him.
Dr Wallis thought the distinction of these three persons was only modal; which seems, såys Dr Doddridge, to have been Tillotson's opinion also. If so, they were both of
them nothing more than Sabellians, whom all the ancients classed with Unitarians.
In the same class also ought to be ranked Dr Thomas Burnett, who maintained " one self-existent and two depen“dent beings, but asserted that the two latter are so united
to, and inhabited by, the former, that, by virtue of that “union, divine perfections may be ascribed, and divine wor
sbip paid to them.” This, too, was evidently the opinion of Dr Doddridge himself, and probably that of a great number of those who were educated under him, and perhaps, also, that of Dr Watts. But, in fact, this scheme only enables persons to use the language, and to enjoy the reputation of orthodoxy, when they have no just title to either. For the divinity of the Father dwelling in, or ever so intimately united to, what is confessed to be a creature, is still no other than the divinity of the Father in that creature, and by no means any proper divinity of his own.
Besides, whatever we may fancy we can do by words, which are arbitrary things, and which we can twist and vary as we please, the properties and prerogatives of divinity cannot be communicated. The Divine Being cannot give his own supremacy, and whatever he can give, he must have a power of withdrawing, so that if he should communieate any extraordinary powers to Christ, or to the Holy Spirit (supposing this to have been a distinct being) he can, whenever he pleases, withdraw those powers; and for the same reason, as he voluntarily gave them their being, he must have a power of taking away that also. How then can they make two parts of a proper Trinity in the divine nature, and be said to be equal in power and glory with the Father?
Christians should be ashamed of such unworthy subterfuges as these. The most fearless integrity, and the truest simplicity of language, become christians, who wish to know, and to propagate truth. Certainly, if men be deceived, they are not instructed. All that we can gain by ambiguous language is to make our readers, or hearers, imagine that we think as they do. But this is so far from disposing them to change their opinions, or to lay aside their prejudices, that it can only tend to confirm them. As to any in.conveniences that we may bring upon ourselves by an undisguised avowal of whatever we apprehend to be the truth; we may assure ourselves, that the God of truth, whom we
honor by our conduct, will reward us, at least with that inward peace of mind, which can never be enjoyed by those who so miserably prevaricate in a business of such moment as this. And what are all the honors and emoluments of this world, without that satisfaction of mind ?
Light having thus, at length sprung up in the christian world, after so long a season of darkness, it will, I doubt not, increase to the perfect day. The great article of the unity of God will, in time, be uniformly professed by all who bear the christian name; and then, but not before, may we hope and expect, that, being also freed from other corruptions and embarrassments, it will recommend itself to the acceptance of Jews and Mahometans, and become the religion of the whole world. * But so long as christians in general are chargeable, with this fundamental error, of worshipping more gods than one, Jews and Mahometans will always hold their religion in abhorrence. As, therefore, we wish to see the general spread of the gospel, we should exert ourselves to restore it to its pristine purity
in this respect.
* Appendix G.
CORRUPTIONS OF CHRISTIANITY.
THE HISTORY OF OPINIONS RELATING TO THE DOCTRINE OF ATONE
As the doctrine of the divine unity was infringed by the introduction of that of the divinity of Christ, and of the Holy Spirit (as a person distinct from the Father) so the doctrine of the natural placability of the divine being, and our ideas of the equity of his government, have been greatly debased by the gradual introduction of the modern doctrine of atonement, which represents the Divine Being as withholding his mercy from the truly penitent, till a full satisfaction be made to his justice; and for that purpose, as substituting his own innocent Son in the place of sinful men.
This corruption of the genuine doctrine of revelation is connected with the doctrine of the divinity of Christ; because it is said, that sin, as an offence against an infinite being, requires an infinite satisfaction, which can only be made by an infinite person, that
one who is no less than God himself. Christ, therefore, in order to make this infinite satisfaction for the sins of men, must himself be God equal to the Father. The justice of God being now fully satisfied by the death of Christ, the sinner is acquitted. Moreover, as the sins of men have been thus imputed to Christ, his righteousness is, on the other hand, imputed to
them; and thus they are accepted of God, not on account of what they have done themselves, but for what Christ had done for them.
As I conceive this doctrine to be a gross misrepresentation of the character and moral government of God, and to affect many other articles in the scheme of christianity, greatly disfiguring and depraving it; I shall shew, in a fuller manner than I mean to do with respect to any other corruption of christianity, that it has no countenance whatever in reason, or the scriptures; and therefore that the whole doctrine of atonement, with every modification of it, has been a departure from the primitive and genuine doctrine of christianity.
THAT CHRIST DID NOT DIE TO MAKE SATISFACTION FOR THE
SINS OF MEN.
It is hardly possible not to suspect the truth of this doetrine of atonement, when we consider that the general maxims to which it may be reduced, are no where laid down or asserted, in the scriptures, but others quite contrary to them.
It is usual with the sacred writers, both of the Old and New Testament, to assign the reasons of such of the divine proceedings respecting the human race, as are more difficult to be comprehended, and the necessity and propriety of which are not very obvious, and might be liable to be called in question. Such is the divine condescension, to the weakness, short-sightedness, and even the perverseness of men.
He is willing that we should be satisfied that all his ways are equal, that they are all just, reasonable, and expedient, even in cases where our concern in them is not very apparent. Much more, then, might we expect an explanation of the divine measures, when the very end which is answered by them is lost if we do not enter into the reaşons of them, as is evidently the case with respect to the doctrine of atonement; since the proper end of the meas