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Ail these , to which more might be added , are so many characters or aspects of Deity towards his creatures : but to insist on his having precisely three , neither more nor less , as a great and formal doctrine , is really trifling with a sacred subject . It is true that the Father , the Son or Word , and the Spirit , are three names under which we recognize very especially the Divine
agency towards us in the New Testament ; and that the vigour of Christian doctrine hinges very much upon our so doing . But really there is in this no matter of controversy : Unitarians make no serious objection to this kind of Trinity , and it is ungenerous and unjust to represent them as aiming at the shadowy , and therefore invulnerable , doctrine , those serious and earnest remonstrances which they direct against the truly tri-personal Deity of the
popular faith , and against those forms of doctrine and worship which are calculated to convey a real tri-personal idea to the people . There is a want of fair and open dealing in this matter . Trinitarians keep two forms of their doctrine on hand , like two sets of weights in a shop : in practical and devotional religion they prefer the use of the solid and substantial one , but when controversy begins , this is popped under the counter , and assailants are allowed no object of attack but a baseless shadow whi $ h wears its
resemblance . Those that find edification in this kind of religious tactics do well to avail themselves of them . I make these remarks because Mr . Elton , in taking his stand on the merely modal or nominal Trinity , ought in fairness to have observed , both that it was different from the popular creed , and also that it was not that to which Unitarians object . But although this nominal Trinity may be allowed to pass as a thing of little moment when considered only as an abstract distinction in the Divine
Nature , what are we to make of it when taken , as we must take it , in connexion with the doctrine of the Deity of Christ ? The Divine " Word which from the beginning was with God , and was God , " may , indeed , be represented as an aspect or power of the Deity ; and so may the Holy Spirit . But can we say the same of Jesus Christ ? It is impossible . No sophistry nor subtilty can prevent the reader of the New Testament , nor the Christian world at large , from thinking of Jesus Christ as truly a distinct person , a distinct intelligent agent , from the Father that sent him , and to whom he
prayed , saying , "Father , not my will , but thine be done ; " and of whom he said , " Of that day and hour knoweth not the Son , but the Father only . " Not all the half-meaning and no-meaning terms that have been devised , neither substance nor essence , nor mode nor aspect , will ever help common sense out of this dilemma , Jesus Christ is most prominently and unequivocally a distinct being , and person , and agent , or whatever other term may be preferred , from God his Father ; and , therefore , those who contend for
his proper deity , that h £ is in himself , without reserve , truly God , can have no fair refuge from the charge of polytheism in the Sabellkui scheme of the Trinity ; and if they could , would only lapse into the Patripassian heresy . I must insist oti it , then , that it is not the doctrine of the Trinity so much as that of the Deity of Christ , ( in a strict and proper sense , ) that is the main
question between Unitarians and their adversaries . The doctrine of the Trinity is an abstract , scholastic subtlety , which it is scarce worth disputing about ; but that of the Deity of Jesus Christ , roundly and popularly taught , it a very different thing ; it is a broad and palpable conception , and , notwithstanding what Mr . Elton says , does inevitably introduce a second object of worshi p , clothed in all the attributes and honours of the Supreme , ana com--monly drawing to itself by much the larger share of the affections of the worshipers . Here , it is that the Unitarian finds the occasion Q § Ms uncoa
On Mr . Elton ' s " Secdnd Thoughts . * ' 565
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Monthly Repository (1806-1838) and Unitarian Chronicle (1832-1833), Aug. 2, 1827, page 555, in the Nineteenth-Century Serials Edition (2008; 2018) ncse.ac.uk/periodicals/mruc/issues/vm2-ncseproduct1799/page/3/