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The first Christians easily believed that the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, sin whose name they were baptized, and tà whom they worshiped, were equally edicine; without troubling themselves about the manner of it, or the reconciling it with the belief in one God." It is much easier to make these assertions than to prove them.
If, as Archdeacon Blackburne observes, we read the supposed baptismal form, Matt. xxviii. 19, as follows, "Go ye, therefore, and disciple fall nations (baptizing them) into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" there is not a single tittle altered in the text of the Evangelist, save in the pointing; and yet a very material alteration of 0 the sense of the passage obtained, which makes the two Evangelists [Matthew and Luke] perfectly consistent with each other. For as the passage stands above, explained by the parenthesis, the command to baptize refers to no particular form at all, and leaves us to suppose, what was certainly the truth of the matter, that the apostles being already well acquainted with the form used in the baptism of Jesus, it was quite superfluous to enjoin it here.
St. John tells us expressly, chap. iv. 2, that the disciples of Jesus made and baptized other disciples to their Master, and these not a few. This is a sufficient proof without any other, that the apostles of Christ were well versed in the form of baptism prescribed by our Saviour; upon which account the repetition of it in this solemn manner, is one of the last things one would look for in this particular passage.
The Archdeacon, I need hardly add, was of opinion that the words in question contain 166 no baptismal form at all." Works, I. xxvi. Appendix B. Barclay, in his Quakerism confirmed, says, That the apostles used the words Father, Son and Holy Ghost, when they baptized, cannot be proved; far less used they the word Trinity, which was not invented [till] long after the apostles' days." Works, III. 139. And, accordingly, he is entirely silent on that doctrine in his "Apology for the true Christian Divinity," which he of course thought might well do without it. The Quakers have always
held that the above text has no relation whatever to water baptism.
Dr. Waterland, as quoted by T. P., adds, "Probably these plain, honest Christians believed every person to be God, and yet but one God." This is oddly enough called "the artless simplicity of the primitive Christians," of which, however, the New Testament, the only, or at least the most authentic record of their faith, affords not even the slightest evidence. "It seems they troubled not their heads with any nice speculations about the modus of it, till prying and pretending men came to start difficulties, and raise scruples and make disturbances; and then," adds the Doctor, "it was necessary to guard," not the purity and simplicity of the apostolic faith, as expressed in Scripture, but "the faith of the church," in new notions which required new terms "against such cavils and impertinencies as began to threaten it."
How did the church act in this difficulty, as T. P. confesses it still is, to reconcile the doctrine of the Divine Unity, with that which he holds the common doctrine of the Trinity? His oracle, Dr. Waterland, says, "Philosophy and metaphysics were called in to its assistance, but not till heretics had shewn the way, and made it in a manner necessary for the Catholics to encounter them with their own weapons."
This is, in other words, to say the Catholics adopted heretical language. I confess there is too much truth in this, whether they or others first set so bad an example. "Some new terms and particular applications came in by this means, that such as had a mind to corrupt or destroy the faith" aforesaid, might be defeated in their purposes; but after the heretics had invidiously represented the Catholics as asserting a division," by the new terms they had adopted in speaking of the one true God, instead of those used by the sacred writers, and by their Lord and Master, "it was high time," says the Doctor, "for the Catholics to resent the injury, and deny," not disprove, "the charge." He adds, "There was no occasion for mentioning of three hypostases, till such as Praxeas, Noetus and Sabellius, had pretended to make one hypostasis
an article of faith," which he calls very properly "their prime position." The duo itself," he says, "might have been spared, at least out of the creeds, had not a fraudulent abuse of good words brought matters to that pass, that the Catholic faith was in danger of being lost, even under Catholic language."
Such is the substance of T. P.'s quotation, of which he says, "The point I aim at is this-to refer the reader to the simple view of the full and supreme divinity of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, ascribed by Dr. Waterland to the apostles and the primitive Christians; for precisely the same view is taken of this high doctrine by the Quakers in the present day; a view, which is greatly confirmed by their almost exclusive use of the Sacred Scriptures as the fountain of their doctrines."
If T. P. has done the Quakers justice, I must say that on this point the Unitarians have greatly the advantage of them, for the Scriptures are not merely " almost," but the sole fountain of their doctrines. Freely admitting T. P.'s right to profess his own faith in any words he may choose for himself, or adopt from any writer, ancient or modern, I must demur to his competency to speak in such positive terms of the faith of the Quakers, even" in the present day;" amongst whom, perhaps, I have had as large an acquaintance as himself, and at least equal, if not better opportunities of knowing their sentiments, and how very generally the most strict amongst them of every class, even when closely pressed, refuse to admit in any sense whatever, any distinction of persons in the Deity. I have also read many of the writings of their best and most approved authors, none of whom, so far as I know, ever professed to hold that doctrine. William Penn said, very truly, in his Sandy Foundation Shaken, for writing and publishing which, being a notable attack on "public opinion," he was persecuted by his enemies, but applauded by his friends the Quakers, with remarkable unanimity, that "the Scriptures undeniably prove that ONE is God, and God only is that only ONE; therefore he cannot be divided into or subsist," says he, "in an holy THREE,
or THREE distinct and separate holy ones.
In pointing out "the absurdities that unavoidably follow the comparison of the vulgar doctrine of Satisfaction, being dependent upon the second person of the Trinity," he even describes "Jesus Christ as a finite and impotent creature," without reference to the unscriptural notion of two natures, and his God and Father as
the infinite and omnipotent Creator." I am aware that some of their approved authors have sometimes used mystical language on the subject, as nearly approaching the present standard of reputed orthodoxy, as Sabellians have long ago employed, but I know of only one writer amongst them who has gone so far as T. P., and that is the author, whom I much esteem, of a work published in 1813, by Wm. Phillips, London, and entitled "Remarks suggested by the Perusal of a Portraiture of Primitive Quakerism, by William Penn; with a Modern Sketch of Reputed Orthodoxy,' &c., by Thomas Prichard."
The Portraiture is reviewed in your journal for 1812 (VII. 523). The remarks on it have, I believe, not come under your notice. The greater part of the pamphlet consists of a republication of another tract of Penn's, which was more to the Editor's taste than the Portraiture, the readers of which he describes as "introduced to this amiable writer, only through the medium of Unitarian quotation." Whereas, it must be confessed, the other tract is rather strongly, tinctured with Sabellianism, but with nothing like "the common doctrine of the Trinity," without which he considered the Quakers as consigned "to the invidious condition of the bat in the fable, neither bird nor beast, with all its pernicious consequences.' Yet he tells his readers, that Penn's Sandy Foundation Shaken, or the above Portraiture, "professes to attack all that is of mere human authority and invention in the tenets that relate to the Trinity, imputed righteousness, and the satisfaction and atonement made by Christ." The author considered the whole as founded on the sand, and tells us he "endeavoured a total enervation of those cardinal points, and chief doctrines so firmly believed,
and continually imposed for articles of Christian faith.”
T. P. concludes his letter to the Editor of the Christian Observer by saying, "So strong is my desire to detach the Quakers from that identity with the Unitarians, under which some mistaken minds regard them, that I
may perhaps feel rather gratified than hurt at any consequences that may result from the general diffusion of this knowledge, that their tenets are at an irreconcileable variance. T. P." The Editors, in a courteous P. S., say "T. P. will find a letter in our Vol. for 1819, p. 582, signed Samuel Fennel, containing a similar complaint against the Monthly Repository, and a defence of the Society of Friends from the charge of Socinianism."
In this letter S. F. does, indeed, repeat his totally groundless charge against you. [XIV. 400.] As to his defence of Friends, he has indeed shewn, that the Quakers had not wholly discarded the term Trinity. Directly after his quotation, abruptly ending with an &c.," ," Penn adds, "But they are very tender of quitting Scripture terms and phrases for Schoolmen's, such as distinct and separate persons, and subsistences, &c. are, from whence people are apt to entertain gross ideas and notions of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost."
I would willingly remove T. P.'s painful but groundless apprehension, that it is a favourite design with the Unitarians to identify "their tenets" with those of the Quakers, farther than they actually approximate. They can have no motive to do this. He does not seem to be aware, that from the time of Sabellius, those who "say nothing of three hypostases [or persons] but keep to one," in expressing their belief in God, have always been considered by the reputedly orthodox, as nearly allied to the Unitarians, notwithstanding their occasional use, like the Quakers, of obscure, ambiguous or semi-orthodox language.
He has, I own, completely absolved himself from the imputation, but before he again asserts "that the Quakers have precisely the same view of this high doctrine" as himself, I recommend him to make farther inquiry, lest he should mistakenly represent them as forsaking generally or collectively, the authentic testimony of
scriptural revelation on this point of primary importance, and teaching, in its stead, for doctrine, the inventions of men. THOMAS FOSTER.
I HAVE several times endeavoured to procure from the booksellers, Yates's " Sequel" to his "Vindication of Unitarianism:" but the answer is uniformly the same-out of print. Now, Sir, as the theological critic in the British Quarterly Review, with a meanness of dissimulation which, I suppose, he would excuse by the convenient subterfuge of inherent moral incapacity, has sunk upon his readers the existence of this tract, although incidentally he betrays his knowledge of it, and as the great advocate of tritheism and vicarious righteousness himself, Dr. Wardlaw continues with unabashed ostentation to re-advertise in the Newspapers his "Unitarianism incapable of Vindication," may I ask why the "Sequel" is not reprinted? If the able author himself be unwilling to risk the expense, (though I should have thought the sale of the first edition a guarantee for the success of the undertaking,) why is not this tract, which so calmly and rationally exposes the hollow blustering pretensions of the orthodox school, reprinted and liberally re-advertised at the expense of the society?
Let me take this opportunity of suggesting also the expediency of reprinting in a separate tract, and at a cheap rate, the excellent and learned Dr. Lardner's "Posthumous Discourses on the Trinity," which appear to state the respective grounds of the Trinitarian, Arian and Unitarian doctrine, with a plainness, comprehension and acumen, calculated to make a strong, popular impression, and, at the same time, to remove much of the prejudice existing against the simplicity of the ancient faith in minds pre-occupied by college theology; and to awaken serious doubts whether "the things which they have learned" be in reality "sound doctrine." This little publication is further needed as a set-off against the affectedly impartial, but really dogmatic and bigoted, not to say insidious, statement of Dean Tucker; entitled a "Brief and Dispassionate View of the Difficulties
attending the Trinitarian, Arian and Socinian Systems," to which it forms no less striking a contrast in force, than in fairness of reasoning.
Feb. 15, 1822. IN the last Volume of the Repository, p. 354, your ingenious and learned correspondent, Dr. Jones, animadverts upon my having said that "the New Testament disciples of Jesus were not ashamed or afraid to own that worthy name by which they were called."" He conceives me chargeable with "a total inattention to the fact." He has not made it evident what "fact" he adverts to; but we cannot be mistaken if we understand him as referring to one, or more probably to both, of the statements which immediately follow: "that all the Jewish converts considered Christianity and Judaism as the self-same religion;" and "that the name Christians was given the disciples by their enemies as a term of reproach: and that, for this reason, the apostles and the converts made by them declined the use of it."
Neither of these assertions can I regard as "beyond controversy;" and I do seriously think that strong objections lie against them both. Nor do I perceive that Dr. Jones has replied to the remarks which I proposed upon his sentiment, (I comply with his wish in not calling it hypothesis,) that Philo and Josephus were Christians. (Script. Test. I. 449, 450.) Till those remarks are distinctly met, I do not feel myself called upon to embark anew in the dispute. My only object at present is to say, that Dr. Jones has misapprehended the point of my reference. Perhaps I did not express myself with due explicitness: but the citation of James ii. 7, I had supposed would have prevented any misconception. By the "worthy name" I did not mean exclusively the appellation Christian, as my respected friend takes it; but the name Jesus, or the official designation Christ, as well as the term Christian: and to that name or designation the allusion was principally intended. My argument was, that had Philo and Josephus, and the persons whom they speak of as having embraced Judaism, been really Christians, there would not have been the
deep silence which reigns through the writings of the former, upon the name and history of JESUS the CHRIST, nor would the alleged Heathen converts have avoided the being distinguished as disciples of Jesus, or Christians, It is, indeed, not improbable that the appellative Christian was first applied to the followers of Jesus by their opponents; and that, according to a prevalent association of idea with Latin adjectives in anus denoting party, the new term might have a discreditable appearance. But it is worthy of observation, that this term was invented and brought into use with reference to the first Gentile church, and at the time when the right of Gentiles to the blessings and privileges of the gospel, without being subjected to circumcision or any other Judaical observance, was established by apostolical authority. Thus there was, prima facie, some reason why converts from Heathenism to the religion of Jesus should have been the more eminently called Christians. If the name had an unfriendly origin, it would soon, according to the common principles of human nature, cease to convey an unwelcome association, and would be accepted and gloried in as a badge of honour.
About eighteen years after, we find the apostle Peter writing thus: "If any one of you suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God on this behalf." I Peter iv. 16.
It can scarcely be necessary for me to add, that the argument is not nullified by the passage which has been sometimes called the testimony of Josephus to Christ; for it appears to me very satisfactorily shewn by Lardner and others, that the passage is spurious.
Unavoidable hindrances prevented my finishing this letter in time for the last month. I proceed to Dr. Jones's critical and doctrinal remarks on Phil. ii. 6-8, in pp. 535, &c. of your last volume.
(1.) He asserts "that a p is a parallelism with Ev μoppy ou, and is but a varied expression of the same idea." This appears to me to be imputing to the apostle an absolute tautology. If the two terms are synonymous, each of them may be put then the apostle will be made to say,
"Being a, he deemned it not a thing to be grasped at to be a."
(2.) On the meaning a ew, it would be unreasonable to ask you to reprint the reasons and the authorities from Greek writers, especially the Septuagint, which are adduced in the Script. Test. (II. 385-402, 414, 415) to support the interpretation of the phrase which the evidence of the case appears to me to warrant. Those who are sufficiently interested in the question to take the trouble of the examination, will, perhaps, do me the favour to weigh my arguments before they reject my interpretation.
(3.) To Dr. J.'s mode of supplying the ellipsis which he supposes the passage to require, I feel no objection: nor does it militate against the doctrine of the Deity of Christ, except upon the assumption of what we most earnestly protest against, that, in holding that doctrine, we suppose that the death of Jesus was the death of Jehovah. That doctrine attributes to the Lord and Redeemer of mankind, not only THE DIVINE NATURE with all its essential perfections, but also the human nature with all its proper qualities.
(4.) I must likewise protest against Dr. J.'s seeming to impute to me the opinion "that God has any form, or that form and nature have here the same meaning." To which assumption he adds, "In this confusion, gross and palpable as it is, is founded the interpretation put upon this passage by the orthodox divines." What I had said concerning the use of pop in this passage was to this purport: that the word " can be understood of the Divine Being only in the way of an imperfect analogy. As the visible and tangible figure of a sensible object is, in ordinary cases, the chief property, and frequently the only one, by which we know the object and distinguish it from others; so, that part of what may be known of God, (Rom. i. 19,) that which distinguishes him from all other objects of our mental apprehension, may thus, allusively and analogically, be called the form of God. Therefore, dropping the figure, the notion is evidently that of specific difference, or essential and distinguishing properties. It might, I conceive, be unexceptionably ex
pressed by the phrase, teristics of God."
(5.) Of a passage of Josephus, adduced as an instance of this analogical sense of μopp, my respected friend affirms, "This is said in reference to the Greeks, who represented their gods under material images; and the object of the writer is to set aside that superstitious practice. His words are to this effect: God is not in the least visible in form; it is, therefore, most absurd to represent him under forms that are visible.'".
The passage in question is a part of a long and interesting recital, in the style of just panegyric, of the religion, laws and manners of the Jews. The paragraph from which a small part only, for the sake of brevity, was cited in the Script.Test., is as follows: "God, the all-perfect and blessed, possesses all things, himself sufficient to himself and to all other beings, the beginning and the midst, and the end of all. He, though displayed by his works and his kindnesses, and more manifest than any other being whatever, yet, as to his nature [literally form] and greatness, is the most remote from our view. All material substance, even the most valuable, compared to his image, is worthless and all art is incompetent to the conception of an imitation. We can neither conceive, nor is it lawful to imagine, any thing as a resemblance to him. We see his works; the light, the heaven, the earth, the sun and moon, the waters, the generations of animals, and the productions of vegetation. These hath God made, not with hands, not with labours, not needing any assistants; but, by the mere act of his will determining these good things, they instantly came into existence, good according to his design. Him we all ought to follow, and serve by the practice of virtue; for this is the holiest manner of serving God." reader will judge, whether it is the more probable that Josephus here uses opp in the sense of those who formed corporal ideas of the Supreme. Being, or to denote the characteristic and spiritual properties (the metaphysical form) of that Infinite Nature, Other and not contemptible evidence for this sense, may be seen in Elsner, (Obs. in N. T. II. 241,) and it is un