« הקודםהמשך »
DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
OR A CHECK TO
AS TAUGHT BY
CAMPBELLITES, HICKSITES, NEW LIGHTS,
AND ESPECIALLY BY A SECT CALLING THEMSELVES
BY REV. H. MATTISON.
LEWIS COLBY & CO.
ENTERED, according to Act of Congress, in the year 1846, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,
THE subject to which the following pages are devoted, has, perhaps, elicited as much inquiry and investigation, first and last, as any one subject in the whole range of Theology. It was among the first doctrinal points that seemed to engage the attention of the church generally, after the Apostolic age; and it still continues to be discussed, more or less, in all parts of Christendom. The parties in this controversy are divided into two general classes: TRINITARIANS, who hold to a plurality of persons in unity of the Godhead; and UNITARIANS, who deny this doctrine. The Trinitarian class embraces what are usually called the orthodox and evangelical churches, such as Baptists, Methodists, Presbyterians, Episcopalians, Reformed Dutch, Lutherans, &c.; while the Unitarians claim about the same number of religious orders as belonging to their ranks. There is, however, this difference in the two classes named: The Trinitarian churches are decidedly of "one faith" in regard to the mode of the Divine existence, and the character of Christ; but with the Unitarians it is far otherwise. Of these there are at least three distinct subdivisions, distinguished by a wide difference of opinion upon the very subject respecting which they are at issue with Trinitarians. They are, first, the ARIANS; who regard Christ as an exalted creature, and the Holy Ghost, as an attribute or emanation" from the Father; secondly, the SOCINIANS, who believe Christ to be a mere man; and thirdly the SABELLIANS, who teach that the terms Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are merely three names for one person; instead of signifying three distinct persons in one being.
As before said, these all agree in opposing Trinitarianism, and are hence called Unitarians; though as yet they have not been able to agree upon a substitute for the orthodox belief.
As to the comparative strength of these classes respectively,
it is impossible to speak with any degree of certainty. It is believed, however, that there are more Anti-Trinitarians in this country, who would come under the head of Arians, than of either of the other classes. Hence the prominence given to this class in our title-page.
But the Arianism of the present age is not the Arianism of the fourth, nor yet of the seventeenth century. Though in its principal features it may be little changed, it is, nevertheless, greatly modified and transformed in many respects; so that we feel justified in speaking of it as an old error modernized.
As we have named several distinct sects, as the abettors of Arianism, it may be important to glance for a moment at their respective tenets. In so doing, however, it will not be expedient to go beyond the limits of our main subject.
The CAMPBELLITES," or "DISCIPLES," (as they prefer to be called,) are mostly Arians; though they, also, have "revised and improved" the old system. They have succeeded in imparting to it an air of freshness and novelty, which has secured for it a temporary popularity in certain local sections, especially in Virginia and at the West; but in the Eastern and Middle States they are scarcely known. However, they are eminently entitled to consideration in this treatise as they belong to the family of modern Arians, and are, perhaps, as respectable as any other branch of the general household.
The HICKSITES are a body of seceders from the Orthodox Friends, or Quakers. In their ranks they embody almost every species of Unitarianism. Elias Hicks, their founder, was a Socinian, and was often heard to say during his public ministry, that the blood of Christ had no more virtue to atone for sin than the blood of a beast. But it is charitably believed that his grossest blasphemies were never generally endorsed by his followers. Still they embraced most of his notions; and especially what he taught and wrote respecting the doctrine of the Trinity, and the character of Christ. They are, therefore, fully entitled to the appellation of Modern Arians.
The NEW LIGHTS, like the Campbellites, are little known except in some of the Western states, and are probably not very numerous anywhere. They are said to be Arians in sentiment, and are classed here with their brethren, on account of their family likeness, as we wish to follow out the one great error in all its relationships.
The UNIVERSALISTS are perhaps too well known to require any particular description. Among them may be found Socinians and Sabellians; though a majority hold to a modified
Arianism. We hope, therefore, to do something to check its progress in this direction also.
The MORMONS are strong advocates of Arianism with its modern phases. They believe that Christ was a super-angelic, but created being,-that God has a body like man, and that the spirit of God is the soul of the Father; analogous to the spirit of man within him. They therefore oppose the doctrine that God is without body or parts, as well as the doctrine of the Trinity in general.
The sect designated as "CHRISTIANS," are known by different names in different parts of the country. They are sometimes called "Christians," (pronouncing the first i long,) while in other localities they are distinguished as Arians, merely, or as Unitarians. Not unfrequently they are so identified with some prominent preacher of their doctrines as to bear his name; hence the Laneites, the Plummerites, &c. But their sentiments are not materially affected by the title they bear. Whether as "Christians" or "New Lights," "Arians" or "Plummerites," they still disseminate the same dangerous errors. They have never given their views to the world in the form of a Confession of Faith, though they have several small volumes in which their views are set forth in a condensed form, and which amount, in fact, to a creed. Of these, Kinkade's "Bible Doctrine," Millard's "True Messiah," and Morgridge's "True Believer's Defence," may be considered as specimens. These works are generally spoken of by the order as containing their sentiments, though they profess to repudiate all creeds but the Bible. They are industriously circulated by their ministers, and are not unfrequently boasted of as orthodox and unanswerable productions. Mr. Kinkade's work, which was written many years since, has been republished within a few years past, by two preachers of this sect, and recommended by them as expressing their views better than they themselves could express them. Moreover, the "Christian Palladium," the periodical organ of the denomination, commends this new edition in the strongest possible terms. We name these things to show that in discussing Arianism, as found in the above mentioned volumes, we have not been beating the air. These books are, in fact, the exponents of the views of the order, as much so as if they were publicly set forth as Confessions of Faith.
From the above remarks the reader will readily understand what is meant by "MODERN ARIANISM," and why so many different sects are implicated as its advocates. Though it is proposed to consider only one specific and general error, still,