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as heresy which was opposed to the doctrines they preached ; and those alone were heretics, who, according to Rom. xvi. 17, 18, “ caused divisions or offences contrary to the doctrine of the Apostles, serving not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly"; and hence I maintain, that, since the books of the New Testament were written, nothing can rightfully be called heresy which is not opposed to them. For myself, I hold to the Scriptures alone ; I follow no sect or party. Of heretics, as they are called, I had read none of the writings ; but the incautious handling of the Scriptures among those who are accounted orthodox, and their various blunders, first taught me to agree with their opponents, so often as those opponents agreed with the Scriptures. If this be heresy, of a truth I confess with Paul, Acts xxiv. 14, “ that after the way which they call heresy, so worship I the God of my fathers, believing all things which are written in the law and the prophets” ; and, I add, all things that are contained in the books of the New Testament. Other judges, or sovereign interpreters of the Christian faith, in common with the whole Protestant Church, I reject, together with that faith which is called implicit.
What remains, then, Brethren, but that ye cultivate truth with brotherly love ? Judge of what I have said as the spirit of God shall direct you ; adopt my opinions, or, if you are not moved thereto by a full assurance and by
the clear testimony of the Scriptures, reject them. Finally, live in the faith of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. Farewell.
LAST THOUGHTS ON THE TRINITY.
I CANNOT enter upon subjects of so much difficulty as the Son of God and the Holy Spirit, without again premising a few introductory words. If, indeed, I were a member of the Church of Rome, which requires implicit obedience to its creed on all points of faith, I should have acquiesced, from education or habit, in its simple decree and authority, even though it denies that the doctrine of the Trinity, as now received, is capable of being proved from any passage of Scripture. But since I enrol myself among the number of those who acknowledge the word of God alone as the rule of faith, and freely advance what appears to me much more clearly deducible from the Holy Scriptures than the commonly received opinion, I see no reason why any one who belongs to the same Protestant or Reformed Church, and professes to acknowledge the same rule of faith as myself, should take offence at my freedom, particularly as I impose my authority on no one, but merely propose what I think
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more worthy of belief than the creed in general acceptation. I only entreat that my readers will ponder and examine my statements in a spirit which desires to discover nothing but the truth, and with a mind free from prejudice. For without intending to oppose the authority of Scripture, which I consider inviolably sacred, I only take upon myself to refute human interpretations as often as the occasion requires, conformably to my right, or rather to my duty, as a man. If, indeed, those with whom I have to contend were able to produce direct attestation from heaven to the truth of the doctrine which they espouse, it would be nothing less than impiety to venture to raise, I do not say a clamor, but so much as a murmur, against it. But inasmuch as they can lay claim to nothing more than human powers, assisted by that spiritual illumination which is common to all, it is not unreasonable that they should on their part allow the privileges of diligent research and free discussion to another inquirer, who is seeking truth through the same means and in the same way as themselves, and whose desire of benefiting mankind is equal to their own.
In reliance, therefore, upon the divine assistance, let us now enter upon the subject itself.
OF THE SON OF GOD.
Since Christ not only bears the name of the only begotten Son of God, but is also several times called in Scripture God, notwithstanding the universal doctrine that there is but one God, it appeared to many, who had no mean opinion of their own acuteness, that there was an inconsistency in this ; which gave rise to an hypothesis no less strange than repugnant to reason, namely, that the Son, although personally and numerically another, was yet essentially one with the Father, and that thus the unity of God was preserved.
But unless the terms unity and duality be signs of the same ideas to God which they represent to men, it would have been to no purpose that God had so repeatedly inculcated that first commandment, that he was the one and only God, if another could be said to exist besides, who also himself ought to be believed in as the one God. Unity and duality cannot consist of one and the same essence. God is one ens, not two ; one essence and one subsistence, which is nothing but a substantial essence, appertain to one ens; if two subsistences or two persons be assigned to one essence, it involves a contradiction of terms, by representing the essence as at once simple and compound. If one divine essence be common to two persons, that essence or divinity will either be in the relation of a whole to its several parts, or of a genus to its several species, or lastly, of a common subject to its accidents. If none of these alternatives be conceded, there is no mode of escaping from the absurd consequences that follow, such as that one essence may be the third part of two or more.
There would have been no occasion for the supporters of these opinions to have offered such violence to reason, nay, even to so much plain Scriptural evidence, if they had duly considered God's own words addressed to kings and princes, Psal. Ixxxii. 6, “I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High"; or those of