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taught in the New Testament. The work concludes fwith two sections, the first of which is designed to evince that the doctrine of the Trinity, instead of being, as is pretended, fundamental and essential to the religion, is in fact a hindrance to its prevalence in the world. By removing it, we remove a stumbling-block in the way of faith, and render the religion more credible by making it more rational ; and as for any apparent difficulties on the subject which the language of the Bible may present, it is more credible that this language been altered, erroneously understood, or wrongly translated, than that the Scriptures, inspired by the God of truth, contain contradictory propositions.
'The Protestant theologians, who hold the doctrine of the Trinity, and urge it in their sermons, instructions, and books, cannot be aware, either of the mischief they are doing, or of their own inconsistency. They do not know how many persons, little educated, but of good sense, they alienate from the religion of Christ, by maintaining that it teaches that the Father is God, the Son is God, the Holy Ghost is God, and yet that there is but one God. I have often conversed with unbelievers, and I have sighed when I have found them rejecters of Christianity because it had been presented to them in a false view, and because they had been required to receive theological propositions which are not in the gospel. When I have said to them, “But you are deceived; what you cite to me is the Christianity of your curate or your pastor, not that of Jesus Christ;"- I have clearly seen by the manner in which they listened, that if they had been sooner set right on the subject, if their contempt of all which purports to be revelation had not become inveterate from long habit, and through the prejudices which wrong instruction had rooted in them, they would have opened their souls to the real truths of the gospel, and perhaps have become disciples of him, whom they now refuse to hear. Who is responsible before God for the lot of these souls? Is it not the human teacher who has shut against them the door which his Master had charged him to open, and represented as obscure and embarrassed with thorny and difficult questions a doctrine, which the celestial Teacher exhibited as so attractive and persuasive at Jerusalem ? Read the sermon on the mount, the last discourses of Jesus with his Apostles; compare with them the symbols of Athanasius or of Bullinger ; — and then decide.'
The final section returns to the thought with which the Essay commenced, that this much contested doctrine is
not to be regarded as essential to salvation. We must select from it one paragraph.
'I cannot repeat too often, or with too strong emphasis, that these obscure doctrines do not concern what is essential to salvation. The essential doctrines, which have influence on the heart and soul and conduct of the Christian, have been so clearly taught and in so express terms, that there is scarcely any controversy respecting them, and from the beginning they have been universally admitted by all the Christian churches throughout the world. And this, because the Apostles and Evangelists in all their writings have taught them in formal and express language, and insisted upon them strenuously. And they did so, because these are the vital principles of Christianity, powerful to touch the heart and to direct the life. But where do we find that Jesus and the Apostles exacted of those who embraced the new religion, the profession of one God in three persons of the same essence? Does the book of Acts mention it? In the 'Apologies, which Irenæus and Tertullian presented to the emperors in order to give them a correct idea of the Christian faith, do we find this doctrine inserted among the sacred verities of the infant and growing church ? Not at all. Does the Apostles' Creed, which has preserved the principal heads of the doctrine of the church from the first years of its foundation until the fourth century, does it speak to us of a Trinity, of God the Son, God the Holy Ghost, God-man, God incarnate, &c. ? Not at all. The gospel is represented as teaching a practical religion, which is to sanctify the life, and not a speculative science, bristling with metaphysical questions.
Opinions have greatly varied on this point, and even Trinitarians have not been agreed respecting the importance and necessity of faith in this system. Melancthon, who lived at the time of the Reformation, — Mosheim, a Trinitarian of the eighteenth century, did not feel themselves bound to condemn and to exclude from salvation those who cannot find this doctrine in the Scriptures. Melancthon, though surrounded by austere doctors, was inclined to indulgence, because, like us, he could find no definition which was not with reason liable to the charge of either Tritheism or Sabellianism. There were then, and, what is surprising, there are still in our own days, a goodly number of theologians who censure this moderation, and who deem that those are excluded from salvation, cut off from the promises, and reserved to everlasting fire, who do not profess the doctrine of the Trinity, even though they admit the divinity of Christianity, the authority of Jesus, the worth of his sacrifice, and the necessity of obedience to his laws. The Council of Nice,
after establishing the consubstantiality of the Word, terminated its exposition of doctrines with anathemas : 'Such is the Catholic faith; he who does not faithfully and firmly believe it, cannot be saved.' An Illyrian synod produced the first germs of the decree, which the creed, called Athanasian, sanctioned in the fifth century. It was addressed to the Eastern bishops, A. D. 375. “Let those who do not preach the consubstantial Trinity be accursed! The kingdom of heaven is prepared for those who preach the consubstantial Trinity. We beseech you therefore, brethren, that you teach nothing else, that you innovate in nothing; but if you preach always and every where the Trinity, you shall possess the kingdom of God.” One can conceive that such narrow and anti-christian notions should enter the head of theologians in the fourth century; but it is more difficult to comprehend how they should infest those of 1831. Yet there are not wanting in our days, as I very well know, rigid Calvinists, who exalt Fr. Turretin with the highest honors on account of his famous apothegm : Not only those who deny the holy Trinity, but those who have not the knowledge of it, are exposed to eternal damnation.”. Happily there lies an appeal from the sentence of these theologians; and reason, common sense, and the gospel hold quite a different language.'
We confess that we have read this little work with great interest, and look with no small expectation to the publications which are to follow it. It is as if a new fountain were opening to us; and we are curious to compare the mode of discussion and the results at which it may arrive in that distant, peculiar, and insulated community, with those to which other free and inquiring minds have come in a similar of investigation and controversy. The present specimen is a gratifying one. It is written in a tone of manly and decorous frankness, which commands respect and becomes the subject and the cause. We do not doubt that the succeeding Essays will afford equal gratification. Of the Second we hope to be able to give some account in our next Number.
[For the Christian Examiner.]
Art. IV. - Oaths, Judicial and Ertra-Judicial.
It is the policy of our laws, as it is of those from which ours are chiefly derived, to secure the performance of almost every civil duty by the obligation of an oath. The administration of justice in all its departments, the official acts of every class of public agents, and the revenue in every stage of its collection, are made mainly to depend on the sanction which this solemnity imposes; so that here, as in England, it may be said without exaggeration, that a pound of tea can scarcely travel from the ship to the consumer, without costing half a dozen oaths at the least.'
Every man is liable to the claim, which the laws make on him in this regard, and so too is almost every child. It was indeed formerly considered not to be lawful to administer an oath to a person of tender years, but a better principle has prevailed of late, and any one may be admitted as a witness in a court of justice, whose intellect enables him to understand the nature and obligation of an oath. But what is this nature, and this obligation? How many adults are sensible of their force and effect ? How many of the vast multitudes who are daily the subjects of this important and momentous ceremony, know correctly what it means, or feel the sacredness of the claims which it makes ? A child, who is on the line where the strength of his capacity is in some degree doubtful, is questioned by the presiding judge, before he is allowed to give testimony, whether he understands the nature and obligation of an oath. The examination thus instituted, is often a painful one, because the knowledge of duty is not always accompanied by the power to explain it, and because very frequently we feel willing to trust to the frankness and ingenuousness of youth, ignorant as it may be of the effect of judicial forms, for a discovery of truth, and we place more confidence in its apparently artless narration, than in the practised and instructed confidence of experienced wit
But the question, thus judicially put to a child, might embarrass many, whose age exempts them from the inquiry
An oath is a civil and a religious obligation binding the
party who takes it to the performance of the promise which it contains.
Thus a juryman's oath to return a true verdict, according to law and the evidence given him, is his promise to render a verdict on such principles, under the civil and religious sanction which the oath contains.
A witness in like manner promises that the evidence to be given by him shall be true. And the importer, who hands to the proper department the invoices or other papers which the laws require, promises that they are true under the sanction of these religious and civil obligations.
What are these obligations ? is then the first inquiry. We speak of them as civil and religious, not because a man is not under a religious obligation to perform all his civil duties. We think he is. We think the pervading influence of the religious principle should be felt and have its operation on every condition and connexion of life. A serious, conscientious, and religious man will not be satisfied with a mere eye-service. He will neither be willing to limit the performance of his duties by the line which civil institutions prescribe, nor within that line to feel that these alone are the only or the highest inducements to action ; but under a high sense of the necessity and utility of civil institutions in promoting the happiness of mankind, he will constantly feel the power of a religious principle enforcing the duties of a citizen, and aiding in the execution of the public laws. But we speak of the civil and religious obligations of oaths in reference to the manner in which a breach of them is supposed to be punishable ; and of the responsibility, of him who takes an oath, to the laws of the land, which society has the means of enforcing, and to the laws of God, which are beyond the power of human administration. Both these combine in every instance of a deliberate oath, and are worthy of a careful consideration.
The law denounces its fearful displeasure against the guilt of perjury. The disgusting catalogue of crimes, enumerated in the penal code, has none more abhorrent and odious, and not many to which a more severe punishment is awarded, than deliberate false swearing. The civil obligation of an oath is therefore the requirement of the law to keep it inviolate, under the penalty of prosecution and conviction, and punishment for its infraction. He who respects the laws of
N, S. VOL. VII. NO. I.