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THE

NEW

ENGLANDER.

No. xxix.

FEBRUARY, 1850.

ART. 1.--THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY.

God in Christ : three discourses delivered at New Haven, Cam

bridge and Andover ; by HORACE BUSHNELL, Hartford. Theophany; or the Manifestation of God, in the Life, Charac

ter, and Mission of Jesus Christ; by Rev. ROBERT TURN

BULL, Hartford. On the Character and Works of Christ; by William B. HAYDEN.

We have placed before our readers the titles of these several works, not with the design of reviewing and discussing their particular contents, but rather as affording the occasion for presenting some thoughts upon the general subject thus indicated.

The attention of the religious community has been very generally drawn of late to the long agitated, much disputed, much calumniated doctrine of the Trinity. Recent discussions have given new interest and importance to the subject ;-a subject which can never be without interest indeed to the reflecting mind, but upon which, at the present moment, the most diverse and conflicting opinions are found to prevail

, among those who are at once the sincere friends, and the earnest champions, of truth.

By some the divine tri-personality, by others the divine unity is regarded as the element of chief importance, and is earnestly contended for, as in danger of being overlooked. The minds of men are enquiring more earnestly now, than at any time, perhaps, for the last fifty years, for some definite, true and solid ground of belief touching these matters. A patient and careful re-examination of the whole subject, seems to be demanded. We hope that the present article will contribute in some degree to this result, at least by inducing the reader to enter for himself upon such re-examination.

VOL. VII.

1

The Scriptures, in the plainest terms, assert the unity of God, and as plainly do they ascribe divinity to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit. Nowhere however do they put these things together, by way of explanation ; nor do they offer any solution of the apparent discrepancy.

The moment we undertake to do this for ourselves, we find ourselves in difficultya difficulty which seems insurmountable, and of which we become only the more thoroughly and painfully conscious by all our efforts to overcome it.

For any such investigation, the Scriptures afford us no other aid, than simply to furnish the correct data which must lie at the basis of all our reasoning. This, however important and even indispensable in itself, does not remove the labor or the difficulty of the undertaking.

Such being the state of the case, the subject one involved in difficulty, and the Scriptures furnishing no direct information or assistance with regard to it, shall we pass the matter by, as something quite inexplicable, and beyond our reach, which it is of no use for us to investigate, and which it is even presumptuous for us to attempt ? Shall we regard the silence of Scripture as an indication that God does not design to unfold this mystery of his being to us creatures of yesterday who know nothing?

So some may possibly conclude. And yet it would seem as if every man who reads the Bible, and meditates on what he reads, must sometimes put these two things together in his mind,- the unity of God, the divinity of Jesus Christ, and of the Spirit,-and compare them, and ask himself how these truths consist with each other, and seek in his thoughts some solution of the problem, some explanation of the apparent discrepancy. Every reflecting man will do this. Some method of meeting this difficulty, some theory respecting the matter, he will be likely to have ; and if it is not a right, then it will surely be a wrong theory. For centuries this subject has been the fruitful source of error, discussion, contention, heresy, sect, in the Christian world. This only shows, not the folly and fruitlessness of thinking on these things at all, but the importance of thinking clearly and rightly on them.

The proper inquiry would seem to be, What view of this matter is on the whole most in accordance with the teaching of Scripture? In the absence of any direct positive testimony on the point, what may be fairly and legitimately inferred from what the Bible does affirm respecting the divine being ?

The subject is one which should, however, be approached with awe. It is no theme for proud and vain philosophizing, or selfconfident speculation. He who approaches it should come humbly, and put off the shoe from his foot, for he is to tread on sacred ground; reverently let him come, as Moses drew near the bush that burned, as the Elders of Israel approached the mount that quaked, and beheld from afar the God of their fathers.

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