« הקודםהמשך »
a mere man.
printer of a gazette should take upon himself to proclaim as orthodox, a point of doctrine by no means settled amongst those whose especial province it is to elucidate matters of faith. A fair and candid defence of one's religious opinions belongs of right to all, and the members of the New Church would be the last to deny this privilege to any of their fellow Christians. But a manly and dignified criticism is quite a different thing from a scurrilous attack upon the sentiments of others, and we are sorry to see that Anti-Socinus, in the heat of his passion, has lost sight of that honourable course which it behoves men of his profession to pursue. Let us examine and see whether this writer is supported in his assertions by scripture truth and by sound sense. He charges Mr. Clowes with using “ Socinian expressions.” This we wholly deny. The Socinian system maintains Christ to be
Mr. Clowes declares him to be the very and eternal God. Surely Anti-Socinus must be ignorant of the term he has used, or he has wilfully misrepresented, and as charity induces us to suppose the latter not to be the case, we are compelled to ascribe his assertion to a want of information. As to the charge of “ error and falsehood," our readers must decide for themselves. Those who have embraced the doctrines of the New Jerusalem are well persuaded that “ In Jesus Christ dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily,” that He " is the True God and eternal life,” and that he is “ the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, the First and the Last, who is, who was, and who is to come, THE ALMIGHTY."
“ It is truly strange that Trinitarians, whilst defending their tenets from the attacks of Socinians, find it necessary to combat upon New Church ground, by maintaining that Jesus Christ is Jehovah, and yet, inconsistent as it may appear; when they argue with those who advocate the same belief, they charge them with Socinianism, and flee for refuge to Tri-theism, as has been the case with the writer now before us. The truth is, that no arguments are substantial but such as are founded upon the sole and exclusive Divinity of Christ, and when this Truth, the corner. stone of the Christian Church, is assailed, our opponents are forced to abandon the use of the rational faculty, and cry out, “ Incomprehensible mystery !"
That the doctrine of a Trinity of persons has been maintained since the time of Christ, as asserted by Anti-Socinus, is not supported either by scripture or by history. The expression of “three
persons” is no where to be found either in the Old or New Testament, and there is reason to believe that that doctrine was not broached until the heresy of Arius induced the council of Nice, in the year 335, to promulgate it. The two principal passages of scripture from which this doctrine is confirmed, in opposition to a thousand others which declare the unity of God, are these, “Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost," and, “ There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost.” Now, in relation to the first of these passages, let us inquire, how was it understood by those to whom it was addressed ? Did they suppose that by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, were meant three distinct persons ? Most unquestionably not, for if they did, they must have disobeyed the commands of their Lord, for we find that in every instance, in the holy volume, where the particular mode of baptism is recorded, it is invariably stated to have been in the name of Jesus CHRIST alone. And why? because the disciples well knew, that, “ He that acknowledgeth the Son hath the Father, also,” (1 John, ii. 23,) and that “ He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son,” (2 John, i. 9,) see Acts ii. 38, 41. viii. 12, 13, 16, 38. ix. 18. X. 48. xvi. 15, 33. xviii. 8. ix. 5. xxii. 16. Rom. vi. 3. Gal. iii. 27. In relation to the second text quoted, it is evident that John did not intend to inculcate the doctrine of three persons, for, as if to avoid such an interpretation, he immediately follows his expression by the declaration, 6 and these three are one,” and thus evidently excluding the idea of three.
Much is said by the advocates of tri-personality, respecting mysteries which are « above human reason, that is, incomprehensible to human reason.” Admitting this to be true, is that any reason why a man is not to exercise his rational faculty, as far as it will extend, for the purpose of endeavouring to acquire a clear conception of what he is told he must believe? Or, because a doctrine has been a mystery, during the period of one particular Church, is that any reason why we are to conclude the veil will never be removed ? We find that a life after death was scarce. ly known to the Jews, and that the veil of futurity was, in some degree, removed under the Christian dispensation. May it not then be, that what was once spoken in parables, shall now be plainly declared ? May we not, in fine, anticipate a period when
those words of the Lord will be fulfilled, “ In that day I will shew you plainly of the Father,” and, “In that day there shall be One Lord, and his name One." Whilst upon the subject of human reason, we cannot omit to make a further remark, which is this,—There are undoubtedly some matters which are above human comprehension, but these are carefully to be distinguished from those which are in opposition to human reason.
We know that the grass grows, and that the soul operates upon the body, but how these effects are wrought we cannot ascertain. Still they are not in opposition to reason. We also know that God assumed the human nature, and was thereby “ manifested in the flesh.” This too is most agreeable to all the dictates of sound and sober reason, as explanatory of the idea of a Trinity in Unity, and yet we are told that such an assertion is “ false," not indeed because it does not comport with the general declaration of the scripture, but simply because it is a new.” Did ever critic, in an enlightened age, build his logic upon such a baseless foundation ? The Jewish doctors and Sanhedrim did, no doubt, object to the revelation of Jesus Christ, because it was new, but could it ever have been anticipated that a champion in the cause of Christianity, could have adopted so weak, so slender a mode of defence ?
If the publication of the sermon in question has done no other good, it has effected one great purpose, that of bringing to light, in unequivocal terms, the belief of at least one sect of Christians. Anti-Socinus, who in the outset talks much about mysteries, has, in the course of his discussion, removed their veil. He declares a person to mean “a rational substance or being.” Now, three persons must be three rational beings, and particularly when they are “ perfectly distinct, independent and complete in themselves;" and thus, the conclusion of necessity follows, that AntiSocinus' opinion warrants us in applying to him, personally, the remark made generally by the writer of the article signed Faith, “ that on this subject, some have used expressions which lead to Polytheism.” But, strange as it may appear, Anti-Socinus, after taking great pains to prove that the term person can only be applied to the human form, and is not to be taken in any other sense than that in which it is generally used,” yet, to prove the existence of a trinity of persons, he represents one of them as a dove. If we were here at liberty to be jocose, we might, with perfect propriety, retort upon him his risum teneatis, but on serious subjects we hold it to be decorous to observe a serious demeanour, and we would recommend a similar mode of procedure to Anti-Socinus, when he next undertakes to defend mysteries by unveiling them.
The candid writer before us, so scrupulous, as he wishes to be thought, of truth, should well have reflected, before he made the assertion, that “ Mr. Clowes, in fine, seems to think that works alone, and not faith, are of primary importance in the obtaining of salvation.” If Anti-Socinus intends to convey the idea that Mr. Clowes believes that faith alone does not ensure salvation, he is perfectly correct; but if he wishes, on the contrary, to intimate that he believes works alone to be effective, he has not fairly represented Mr. Clowes' sentiments. That reverend and worthy minister of the Lord has published volumes of sermons, in which the union of faith with works is, throughout, declared to be the only means of salvation; and this doctrine is the only true one collected from the Word of God.
With respect to the second writer, whose communication, under the signature of “ Faith,” is above transcribed, we cannot see that he differs much in his opinions from his friend AntiSocinus, except that he possesses more discretion, and holds it “ safest” to say as little upon the subject of mysteries as the case will admit of. He very properly corrects bis coadjutor, in relation to his misapplication of the term Socinian, and so far may be considered as a more ingenuous antagonist. His concluding sentence, relative to Polytheism, is indeed true, and perhaps to a greater extent than he is aware of. Had he said
instead of some, he would have been nearer the truth. But although both these writers, who, we have been informed, are clergymen, entertain opinions very similar to each other, yet we hope, in Christian charity, they will avoid the dangerous heresy of so dividing their one God, as to imprint upon the minds of their hearers an idea of three. As an instance of the profane and absurd extremes into which the Catholic Church had fallen, at some period of its duration, we subjoin the following extract from a work entitled “ Evans's Sketch of the Denominations of the Christian World.”
“ Bishop Burnet tells us, that before the reformation, it was usual in England to have pictures of The Trinity. God the Father was represented in the shape of an old man with a triple erown, and rays about his head! The Son, in another part of the picture, looked like a young man, with a single crown on his head, and a radiant countenance. The blessed Virgin was between them, in a sitting posture; and the Holy Ghost, under the appearance of a dove, spread his wings over her. This picture, he tells us, is still to be seen in a prayer-book, printed in the year 1526, according to the ceremonial of Salisbury. Skippon also tells us, there is at Padua a representation of the Trinity, being the figure of an old man, with three faces and three beards.”
ON THE EXCLUSIVE DIVINITY OF JESUS CHRIST.
The following essay, although not in every expression conformable to the doctrines of the New Jerusalem Church, is so nearly orthodox, that we cannot refuse to comply with the request of its author. The communication is made to us anonymously, but we feel well persuaded that it comes from the pen of a member of the Old Church, who has so far progressed in his knowledge of the doctrines of the New Jerusalem, as to receive that great truth of the New Dispensation, the sole divinity of Christ. We are well acquainted with the fact, that this important doctrine is gaining ground amongst the members of many societies of Christians, who have no acquaintance with the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg, and we cannot but regard it as a proof of an increasing influx from the spiritual into the natural world.
In the following paper, we take it for granted that the writer, in objecting to the doctrine of a trinity, means a trinity of persons, and not a trinity of essentials or principles residing in the one person of Jesus Christ. His using the term justice, where he says,
6 the sacrifice which his justice called for,” is objectionable on the principles of the New Church. Although God is a Being of infinite justice, yet the term, as used in the sense in which it is applied in the Old Testament, is widely different from that acceptation of it which is commonly received. Divine mercy is the grand attribute of the Great Jehovah, and no justice can be predicated of him that is not strictly consistent with mercy. It was “ according to his mercy he saved us," as says St. Paul, in his epistle to Titus, iii. 5, in speaking of “ God our Saviour," and hence his assumption of the human nature, his sufferings and