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It remains therefore, that Matthew must have been fully initiated into the knowledge of the Trinity. If true, it must have been represented to him as of the same indescribable value and importance which it is now supposed to possess. He must have received it, and believed in it, as the distinctive peculiarity of his Master's religion-the vital, fundamental doctrine of the Gospel. How criminally unfaithful has he been, then! He has professed to write a history of our Lord, and to give an account of his religion, yet the most important doctrine of that religion, he has suppressed, or has so obscurely alluded to it, that if, by any chance, his Gospel alone had been preserved, the world would have been for ever ignorant of it!
But it is a moral impossibility, that he should have been unfaithful or remiss in such a case. Every motive combined to make him faithful. If he was a man, he could not, in such circumstances, be otherwise than scrupulously Love of the truth, which he had preached so long, and for which he afterwards suffered martyrdom-attachment to his Master, whom he had followed so long-selfrespect-all united to ensure fidelity, and a complete and perfect record. For all he knew or could know, his might be the only history that would ever be written by an ear and eye witness; and how could he be otherwise than most anxiously and minutely careful, that every truth of his Master should be recorded, and in a manner corresponding to its relative importance? But the doctrine is not contained or taught in his Gospel; or, at most, it is so obscurely implied, that it will not be pretended, that except testimony could be drawn from other quarters, it would be possible to establish it on the hints afforded by this Evangelist, or even to guess at the existence of such a dogma. Therefore, we conclude, that Jesus never taught the doctrine to Matthew-that the Evangelist never heard of it, and never intended to record it.
I have now presented some general considerations, tending to show, that if Matthew really believed the doctrine of the Trinity, it would have occupied a far more prominent place in his Gospel than has been given it; that it would have stood forth in strong, clear, statements, as the one great and distinguishing tenet of the religion of his Master. This has not been done. And there arises, therefore, a strong presumption that the doctrine is not a doctrine of his Gospel; and that such passages as have been thought by some to teach or imply it, are misunderstood. (To be Continued.)
It is generally admitted, that if Christianity be a revelation from God, it must contain evident traces of its author, and possess features which essentially distinguish it from all other systems; that if not manifestly superior to all that previously existed in the world, there would be no sufficient reason for its promulgation-it would be void of interest, and unworthy the source from which it professed to emanate; and, therefore, that Christianity will, if true, contain the requisite vouchers in support of its high pretensions, and possess those unrivalled and superhuman characteristics, which can alone demonstrate the divinity of its origin.
The Christian Unitarian, accordingly, finds upon it the impress of unbounded benevolence. He embraces a code of morality, which, displaying with resistless energy the perfections of Deity, portrays in simple but vivid language, the dependence of man upon a Creator's power, and traces out his reciprocal duties with a strength and clearness, compared with which, the most refined speculations, the brightest conceptions of sages and philosophers, are grovelling and insignificant. Its intimate acquaintance with the springs of human action-its immediate tendency to produce order, harmony, and peace amongst mankind— its valuable counsels and admonitions for every situation in which man can be placed-its adaptation to every ascent and advance which has been, or can be progressively made in knowledge and intellectuality, until perfection be as nearly approximated as mortality will admit of; nay, still proceeding in onward career, midst the wreck of elements and the crash of worlds, leading from imperfect to superior intelligences, from sublunary to celestial scenes, an angelic guide from time to eternity, the companion and counsellor of man, and his conductor from things of time and sense, to a never-ending existence and unfading happiness,here are its beauties, its excellences, its heavenly character. The Unitarian embraces Christianity on still stronger grounds. Its promulgator, himself the pattern and exemplar of its requirements, a practical illustration of its effects, was a demonstration by the power of God of its truth; who, by rising from the dead, raised the veil which had hitherto bounded the views and hopes of man, brought life and immortality to light, revealed the truth of a re
newal of existence, and exchanged for visionary speculations, the fact, that to this life succeeds the judgment. And believing, that the Mediator of the new covenant is appointed, by the behest of Jehovah, to glory and honour, far above the most vivid conceptions of mortality, and that his faithful followers will be beatified with him in regions of eternal joy-the Unitarian is conscious of the possession of holy truths, which unassisted reason could not possibly discover, nor imagination shadow out; which the most wise or enlightened of his race approached not even in conjecture, which he therefore considers to be truly worthy the designation of a revelation from on high, and as allimportant knowledge for the sons of men.
But the peculiar doctrines of Revelation, as popularly held, are very different. Their advocates delight in dwelling upon them as inconceivable mysteries, to be received with a reverent prostration of the understanding-to be implicitly believed-not examined. Thus, difficulties have to be encountered at the very outset, since what is really revealed, is no longer mysterious,-that which is explained cannot remain still hidden and inexplicable, and to affirm it, is to affirm a palpable contradiction. To declaim, therefore, of the mysterious truths of Revelation, at which reason stands aghast, and faith herself is more than half confounded, is to be led away by mere sound, to the utter sacrifice of common sense. Mystery is not a peculiarity of Revelation; it is denounced in most expressive terms by the Apostle John. It has, indeed, long been a favourite with Christian professors, and can boast a most venerable antiquity on behalf of its claims; but mysteries in religion, and other equally venerated peculiarities, are of Pagan, not Scriptural origin; to prove which, is my present object.
Mystery, the inseparable concomitant of imposture, was borrowed by the primitive Christians from their idolatrous -neighbours. Commencing with the outward forms of religion, and the celebration of worship, the insidious poison soon pervaded, and was amalgamated with the faith of the Nazarenes. "The precautions," observes a celebrated historian, "with which the disciples of Christ performed the offices of religion, were at first dictated by fear and necessity; but they were continued from choice. By imitating the awful secresy which reigned in the Eleusinian mysteries, the Christians had flattered themselves, that
they should render their sacred institutions more respectable in the eyes of the pagan world."* The same author subsequently asserts, as the practice at the time of Constantine's conversion, that "the awful mysteries of the Christian faith and worship, were concealed from the eyes of strangers, and even of catechumens, with an affected secresy which served to excite their wonder and curiosity."+ From this unholy source, then, have those truths been lamentably distorted and disfigured, which he who runs ought to read and understand. The Church of Rome has sedulously preserved the deteriorating alloy; and all the existing churches of christendom, Catholic, Protestant, or reformed, save the Unitarian only, pertinaciously advocate the mysteries of Revelation.
That most august and imposing tenet which can boast such high pre-eminence in the creed of modern Christians, to doubt which is horrid blasphemy, but to impugn whose truth, is to close for ever the exercise of mercy, and call down the most tremendous wrath, even the doctrine of the sacred and ineffable Trinity, which is now the venerated idol of the Christian world, and is hedged round with care from prying examination, is borrowed from the crudities of pagan mythology-is a portion of the spawn derived from the wild and shadowy speculations of oriental philosophy. The Trinity, a peculiar doctrine of Revelation! No: but it is a grand and distinguishing feature of idolatry. Our barbarous ancestors revered a Trinity, long before they were blessed with the light of Christianity; it was indeed generally, if not always included in the creeds of the nations of antiquity; the trinities of Greece and Rome must be familiar to every one, and the Chaldee, Persian, and Egyptian trinities were then, as now, mysteries. To Egypt, that land of hieroglyphics and mystery, is Christendom indebted for her Trinity; from thence sprung that highly lauded symbol, by which men have attempted to bring down the mode of existence of Deity to mathematical demonstration. The equilateral triangle was an invention of the Egyptian priests, wherewith to express their triad, as in later days it has been seized upon as a happy illustration of the tri-unity of the Christian's God. Plato studied thé hieroglyphical lore of Egyptian mythology, and tinctured thereby, the Athenian
* Gibbon, chap. xvi.
+ Ibid. chap. xx.
sage considered the divine nature under "the threefold denomination, of the first cause, the reason, or logos, and the soul or spirit of the universe."
Justin Martyr, the Samaritan philosopher, after being a disciple successively of the Stoic, the Peripatetic, the Pythagorean, and the Platonic schools, embraced Christianity as a useful philosophy, and amalgamated the Logos of his last master, with the person of Jesus Christ; and, it appears, was the author of the doctrine of his pre-existence and incarnation.*
The Orthodox Trinity is, therefore, of Egyptian origin, and is not a peculiar doctrine of Revelation. To assert this, indeed, proves the extreme length to which the advocates of an opinion will proceed, on its behalf. Thus, the tri-partite idol in the Cave of Elephanta, a fit companion for those emblems of a personal trinity, which once adorned the places of worship of Great Britain,† is looked upon by a zealous Trinitarian with intense interest, as worthy the admiration of the Christian world, and as a corroboration of the doctrine he so much admires. "The Hindoos," says Dr. Buchanan in his Christian Researches, "believe in one God, Brahma, and yet they represent him as subsisting in three persons.” "Whence, then, have the Hindoos derived the idea of a tri-une God?" inquires he.‡ The conjecture which he hazards, that they have obtained it from revelation, and that its source is the plural termination of the word Elohim, requires proof. The term Elohim does not limit to three merely, as is conveniently assumed; it grants a latitude to range any where between unity and the bounds of computation; nay, it may even
* About the middle of the second century, the word Trinity was used by Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, to express the persons of the Godhead: about the end of the century, it was used to signify unity of substance and plurality of persons. The consubstantiality of the Father and the Son, was denied by the Council of Antioch, and decisively asserted by that of Nice, owing probably to the exertions of Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, coiner of the phrase a Unity in the Trinity. To Athanasius is ascribed the discovery of the consubstantiality of the Spirit. Hence, the last finishing touch, the completion of this holy mystery, must be ascribed to that turbulent saint! not to Jesus.
† According to Burnet, the Trinity was represented by a man possessing three faces in one head; or an old man with a young man before him, and a dove over his head.
Had the Doctor not been a Trinitarian, he would easily have traced the Trinitarian graft upon the stem of Christianity, to its true source; as it is, he is obliged to have recourse to a halting supposition, which does any thing but prove the Godhead to be limited to three only.