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The Morning Inquiry

Part One: An Important Question Examined [1]




“For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself for the battle? So likewise ye, except ye utter words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air…. If I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian, and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian unto me.”  St. Paul [1 Corinthians 14:8-9,11].

QUESTION:—Can it be properly said that a person believes the truth affirmed by a proposition, the terms of which he does not understand?

In every proposition there are certain words on which the meaning essentially depends. The import of these terms must be understood, or we cannot understand what is affirmed.

Example. The square root of one hundred is ten. I may have a clear idea of the import of the terms one hundred, and the term ten; but still I shall be ignorant of the truth affirmed unless I know the meaning of the words square root. Can I, then, believe in the truth of the proposition while I am ignorant of what is affirmed?

Answer. If the proposition be stated by a scholar on whose veracity I rely, I may believe that he speaks the truth, although I am ignorant of the truth he affirms. But it is one thing to believe that what is stated is true, and another to be­lieve in the truth itself. I may have such confidence in the knowledge and veracity of another person as to believe that he speaks the truth, while I know not the meaning of one word he uses. He may affirm something in a foreign language, with which I have no acquaintance, and I may verily believe that his declaration is true, while I am perfectly ignorant of the truth he affirms. But to believe in the truth affirmed we must have a perception of that truth. This, however, cannot be had prior to a knowledge of the meaning of the terms adopted.

As words are often ambiguous, we must not only know some meaning to the several terms used, but we must know the particular sense of the words in the given proposition, or its meaning will not be understood.

Example. There are three minutes in one league.

Here we have two principal words, both of which are am­biguous, viz. minutes and league. The term minutes is used to denote the records of a court; sketches or memorandums of events, transactions or discourses; the sixtieth parts of an hour, and the sixtieth parts of a degree. The term league is used for a contract between two or more persons; it also denotes a measure of three miles, or the twentieth part of a degree.

To understand the proposition last stated, we must know the particular sense of its terms. For if we mistake the mean­ing of either of the principal words, we necessarily mistake the sense of the proposition.

Suppose the words to be used by a man of known informa­tion and veracity in a company of unlearned men; from confi­dence in the speaker they might all believe that his affirmation contained a truth. But in how many different senses might his language be understood, by attaching different ideas to the terms he used.

One acquainted with geography takes the true idea that a league is a measure of three miles.

Another by minutes understands time and thinks that a league is such a distance as requires three minutes in sailing or running.

A third, by league understands a contract, and by minutes written particulars of a transaction. He supposes that the speaker affirmed that in a certain contract three distinct particulars were implied.

A fourth, by league understands contract, and by minutes time: he takes the idea of a contract which required three min­utes for writing, or which was to be binding on the parties on­ly for the space of three minutes.

A fifth, by league understands a contract, and by three min­utes so many miles. Of course he forms the idea of an enor­mous contract three miles in length.

Others of the company might form ideas different from any of these, and others still might have no definite idea communicated to their minds. Thus a company of a hundred per­sons, from confidence in the speaker, might believe his decla­ration to be true, while but one believes in the truth affirmed. All who mistake the meaning of the terms, mistake the import of the proposition; and while they believe it to be true, their real belief is according to their mistaken views of the terms.

From confidence in the scriptures as the oracles of God, a person may believe that every proposition in the Bible is true, and yet he may be ignorant of nine tenths of the truths affirmed in that sacred book.

Several persons may agree in a belief that a certain Bible proposition is true, and yet each one may have a different opin­ion from any of the others as to the meaning of the text.

Example. “Thou art the christ the son of the living god” [Matthew 16:16].

Christians of every denomination believe that this proposi­tion is true, and true in the sense in which Peter used the terms. They also agree in the belief that Jesus was the Christ or promised Messiah. Thus far they unitedly believe not only that the proposition is true, but in the truth affirmed. They moreover agree that there is truth in the affirmation that Christ is the son of the living god. But still, how various is their belief in respect to the sense in which he is the Son of God, or the ground on which he is so called.

One affirms that Christ is one of three persons in the one God, and eternally begotten.

A second, that he is one of three persons in the one God, and called a son on account of his Mediatorial office.

A third, that he is one of the three persons, and called a son on the ground of his becoming incarnate.

A fourth, that he is one of the three persons, and called a son because his human nature was “created by an immediate act.”

A fifth, that he is one of the three persons, and that the man united to him was called the Son oi God as saints are sons of God.

A sixth supposes him to be a super-angelic creature, and as such called the Son of God.

A seventh supposes him to be a mere man, extraordinarily endued, and thus called the Son of God.

An eighth supposes him to be a human being, who had pre­existence and was in a peculiar manner united to the one God, the Father, so that in him dwelt all the fulness of the God­head, and therefore called the Son of God.

A ninth supposes that he was  truly a man, who had no preexistence, but was united to the Deity as intimately  as  our souls are united to our bodies, and that he is called the Son of God on the ground of the miraculous conception.

A tenth supposes him to be truly and properly the son of the living god; that he derived his existence from Deity as a son from a father before any creature was formed; and that he became man by a miraculous union to a human body.

Although all Christians may believe that Peter's proposi­tion is true in affirming that Jesus Christ is, in some sense or other, the Son of God, yet no one can believe that it is true in all these various senses. The last accords with the natural import of this language used respecting him, “own Son,” “only begotten Son of God,” etc. And if this be the true sense, those who believe him to be the Son of God in either of the other senses do not believe the truth affirmed by Peter. But by mistaking the meaning of his words, “the Son of the living God,” they mistake the import of his confession and believe in error—as really so as the man did who believed in the ex­istence of a contract three miles long on hearing it said that there are three minutes in one league.

Hence we infer that a man’s professing to believe that a proposition is true is no certain evidence that he believes the truth thus affirmed. To be satisfied that a man believes the truth contained in any article of faith we must be satisfied that he understands the terms. If it be evident that he does not know the meaning of the words, it will also be evident that he does not know the sense of the proposition.

We may also observe that a proposition may be strictly true, and a man may firmly believe it to be true, and yet by mistaking the terms, his sentiment or faith may be perfectly erroneous. A creed, or confession of faith, may be perfectly correct; a man may adopt and subscribe it, believing it to be true, and yet his real opinions may be perfectly inconsistent with the opinions expressed in the articles he subscribed. A number of persons may unite in adopting the same articles of faith, while they are really opposed to each other in sentiment.

In the light of the preceding observations, let us now can­didly examine another proposition, and the faith of its advo­cates.

Proposition. “There are three distinct persons in one God.”

This is viewed by many as an article of the first importance in theology; it therefore demands a careful and thorough examination. And as it is not in the Bible, we may safely criticize on its import, as we would on any other proposition invented by man. It is with this, as with all others, to believe what is affirmed, we must first understand the terms. Without this, we know not what is affirmed, nor what is believed by those who say that the proposition is an article of their faith. And if they do not understand the terms, how do they know what they believe?

Had the proposition been expressed in a foreign language with which we have no acquaintance, should we not have need­ed a distinct explanation of the words? Would it have been consistent to adopt the proposition as an article of faith prior to knowing the meaning of its terms? It is indeed expressed in our own language, and in terms which are common and familiar, yet if we do not know the sense in which they are here used, we do not know what is affirmed.

The terms are used according to their natural import and common acceptation, or they are not. If they are, the proposition contains the same absurdity as saying there are three distinct persons in one King. For the term God, in its common acceptation, as really means one person as the term King. And by three distinct persons we usually mean three distinct beings as really as when we say three distinct men. Therefore, according to the common acceptation of language, the proposition is of this impact, viz. there are three distinct beings in one being or three distinct persons in one person, or three distinct Gods in one God.

But as the advocates for the proposition disavow these ideas, must they not admit that they use the terms in a sense foreign from their common signification? And when terms, which are common and familiar, are used in a sense foreign from their natural import, do they not require as distinct expla­nation as words of a foreign language? And until this explana­tion be given, is not the meaning of the proposition a matter of mere conjecture? Yea, and are not people in more danger of being misled by common and familiar terms when used in an uncommon or unnatural sense, than by words with which they have had no acquaintance? Will not the familiar sense of the words always first arise in the mind on sight of the proposition, and remain as the sense intended until the person be better in­formed by some explanation?

If the terms one God are used in a sense analogous to one Council or one Triumvirate, then they must be understood in order to obtain the sense of the proposition. But if by one God be meant one intelligent Being, so the terms must be un­derstood or the meaning will not be apprehended.

If by three distinct persons be meant three proper persons or beings, we must so understand them. But if by three per­sons be meant only allegorical persons, as three modes or three attributes, or three offices personified, the terms must be so ex­plained and understood or the meaning of the proposition will not be perceived.

As an article of faith, it has been explained in more different ways than there are words in the sentence. By some modern Trinitarians,[2] it has been explained to mean three distinct agents in one Being. But in every other case, the term three distinct agents mean three distinct beings. These exposi­tors have therefore yet to explain what they mean by distinct agents in contradistinction to distinct beings. And until this be done, we cannot tell what they mean by the proposition, or whether they mean anything which can be understood.

It is suspected that the most numerous class of divines have meant one proper person, and two allegorical persons, or the wisdom and energy of God personified for the Son and Holy Spirit.

Another class have supposed that by the three persons no more is intended than the power, wisdom, and love of Deity per­sonified.

A fourth class by three distinct persons have meant three distinct offices.

A fifth class by three persons mean the same as three be­ings somehow so united as to be one God. And this, it is suspected, is the most common idea among the unlearned who have affixed any meaning to the terms. But some divines, as well as many other people, use the form of words without any definite meaning and do not profess to know what is intended, or ought to be intended, by them.

All these various classes profess to believe that the propo­sition contains a truth of the first importance. But are we to suppose that it is true in all the various senses in which it has been explained? This no person of discernment will pretend. In what sense, then, is it true? If it be true in any one sense, and in but one, of what value is the faith of those who believe it to be true in any other sense? They are so far from believing the truth affirmed that they believe in error, as really as those by whom the article is totally rejected. With sufficient self-complacency, and not a little censoriousness, has it not been pretended that the doctrine of three distinct persons in one God has been believed by all the true church of Christ from the days of the apostles to the present time? But after all, it may be asked, how far have Trinitarians themselves been united in their belief? And what has been the amount of their faith? Can it be said that they have been agreed as to the meaning of this article of their faith? Certainly not: for it is well known that, from generation to generation, divines have, in this respect, been much divided in opinion. Has not their agreement consisted merely in admitting a form of words as an article of faith, which the best divines have explained in many different senses? If merely agreeing in a form of words implies union of sentiment, we may affirm that all professed Christians have been united in opinion respecting the character of Christ. For all have admitted the proposition that he is “the Christ the Son of the living God.” Yet we have seen a great variety of opinions respecting this article of faith, and about the same va­riety among Trinitarians themselves respecting the import of their favorite article—“There are three distinct persons in one God.”

Let anyone fix on either of the explanations which have been given, and then inquire whether there be any evidence that a majority, even of Trinitarians, have believed the proposi­tion in that particular sense. Let us farther inquire whether there be not reason to suppose that nine-tenths of those who have admitted the article have done this affixing to the words no definite meaning, or one which implies three distinct Beings, and whether it be not a fact that ninety-nine out of a hundred have admitted the form of words on the authority of others without any careful examination respecting their import.

I do not, indeed, admit this combination of words as a correct expression of any Bible truth. But excepting this single circumstance, I am, perhaps, as much of a Trinitarian as one half the persons who have adopted the article. I believe in the three attributes of God: power, wisdom, and love. And this is all that some Trinitarian divines have meant by the three persons in one God.

I believe that God acts in three distinct offices, as Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier. This is what others have meant by three persons.

I also believe in God as one proper person or intelligent Being, and in his wisdom and energy, and that these may be sometimes personified. This, it is supposed, was the trinity of Origen, of Calvin, and of Baxter and their numerous, genuine followers. Why, then, am I not as really a Trinitarian as the several classes whose sentiments have now been represented? These several classes, it is believed, comprise much the greater part of all the Trinitarian divines who have lived since the year A. D. 381, when the doctrine in question received its “finishing touch.” Why then may I not have some share in the renown attached to Trinitarian orthodoxy?

It may here be proper to inquire what virtue or praiseworthiness can there be in believing a proposition to be true, while its meaning is unknown? If I have evidence that the affirma­tion was made by God, or one inspired by him, my believing it to be true, while its meaning is unknown, may be evidence of my confidence in the wisdom and veracity of Jehovah. But I may not thus call any man, Father, When men state what they believe in a form of words not found in the scriptures, we have a right to ask what they mean. And if they have any definite meaning, they can make it known. If they say they know not the meaning of their own terms, we may safely say, they know not what they affirm. If they cannot tell their own meaning, how can they reasonably expect others to adopt their proposition as an article of faith? But if the writer of a pro­position has a definite meaning to his words, and that meaning be the truth, yet if another adopt it with a different meaning, he in fact embraces error instead of truth.

It is the opinion of some ministers that it is best to give no explanation of the doctrine of three persons in one God. They say it is a mystery, and no explanation can be reasonably expected. Hence they feel under no obligations to tell what they mean by the three distinct persons. Why, then, would it not have been infinitely better to have left the subject just as it stood in the sacred oracles? Does it become men to express, as articles of faith, their own opinions of the import of any passages in the Bible in language which they themselves cannot explain? It there be passages of scripture which are to us mysterious, would it not be far more wise and safe to let them stand as they are, and wait for farther light, than to pretend to express their import in propositions unintelligible to ourselves and to others?

Moreover, if the passages in the Bible, which are supposed to favour the doctrine in question, be really mysterious beyond explanation, how does any mortal know that their meaning is expressed in the unintelligible proposition? To know that this expresses the meaning of any passages of scripture, we must first know the meaning of those passages, and then the meaning of the proposition, so as to be able to compare them together. Yet men venture to express what they say is the meaning of scripture in language which they cannot explain. Not only so, they make their own unintelligible form of words an essential article of Christian faith, and that, too, while they know not the meaning of their own terms.

To me it appears that there is no passage of scripture which has respect to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit, which is half so difficult to explain, or half so likely to be misunderstood as the proposition now under examination. Yet this unintelli­gible combination of words must be considered as so sacred as to be made a criterion of Christian fellowship. But notwith­standing all the importance which men have attached to this article, and all the confidence with which it has been maintain­ed, it is a serious fact that those who reject it are no more op­posed in sentiment to those who embrace it, than those who admit it are opposed to each other. And is it not also a fact that the greater part of those who have adopted the article are as ignorant of its real import as a blind man is of the colours of a rainbow? Confiding in the “tradition of the Elders without examination, they have adopted the proposition, either with no meaning, or as great a variety of discordant meanings as were supposed in the company of unlearned men who heard it affirmed that there are three minutes in one league.

Is it not much to be lamented that men of eminence in learning and piety, with sentiments really discordant, should contend for a human proposition which is professedly inexpli­cable, as though the whole fabric of Christianity were depending on this as its foundation? If it be an error for people to be­lieve a plurality of self-existent Beings, who can reasonably doubt that this proposition is of bad tendency if left unexplain­ed? For who is able to distinguish between three persons and three beings? And might we not just as safely tell common people that there are three beings in one Gad, as three persons in one God? They know not any difference between a person and an intelligent being. And where is the divine who will hazard his character so far as to attempt to explain the difference? There may be some who will venture to say there is a difference; but I have not known of anyone who has attempt­ed to state in what the difference consists. If, then, it be a fact that the terms three distinct persons do naturally convey the idea of three distinct beings, and no one explains the dif­ference, it is evident that the proposition has a direct tendency to lead people into the belief that there are three distinct intel­ligent beings some how united in one God. Does it not, then, seriously behoove the advocates for the proposition either to agree in some intelligible explanation, or to give up the article as useless and of evil tendency?

The conduct of one sect, in assuming the title of rational Christians, has justly been accused by Trinitarian writers. But whether some of them have not been equally reprehensible may be worthy of consideration. How much have they labored to make the world believe that true piety has been found only among Trinitarians? And which is the most evidential of pride, for a sect to arrogate to themselves a peculiar share of rational­ity, or all the piety in the Christian world?

For the purpose of self-commendation, or to cast an odium on others, or to deter people from a thorough examination of their sentiments, or for some other purpose not very obvious, some have taken considerable pains to impress the idea that all, or nearly all, who depart from Trinitarianism, proceed from bad to worse, until they make shipwreck of the faith once delivered to the saints. And, of course, when any one openly dissents from their creed, they would have the public expect that he will totally apostatize from the Christian faith. Such representa­tions procure applause to those who can thus commend themselves; they excite a jealous, censorious, and clamorous spirit towards such as feel bound to dissent from the popular myste­ry; and they also deter multitudes from any impartial exam­ination of the doctrine in question, or anything proposed as more scriptural.

It is my wish not to render evil for evil or reviling for re­viling; but may I not ask whether a resort to such methods for the support of the Trinitarian cause is not beneath the dignity of the clergy of that denomination? Does it not evince want of solid argument, and inattention to the true state of facts? Before such representations are any more urged, it is wished that Trinitarian writers would attend a little to the following reasonable inquiries.

In what sense did the bishops of Constantinople understand the terms, three distinct persons in one God? Dr. Mosheim in­forms us that it was a council in that place which “gave the ‘finishing touch’” to this doctrine in the year A. D. 381. As it had not received “its finishing touch” till that time, it seems to be a matter of high importance to know what those bishops meant by the terms they used; for the doctrine was then in its primitive purity. Had these bishops any definite meaning to their words? Or did they mean everything which has since that time been held by Trinitarians on the ground of this article? If they had but one meaning to their proposition, what was that one meaning?

Did they mean that God is three distinct agents? Some would, probably, be pleased to have this granted. Let this, for the present, be admitted as the true Trinitarian doctrine. What then has become of Calvin, of Baxter, and the many thousands who have supposed that the Son and Spirit are the wisdom and energy of Deity personified? And what has been the fate of all the other classes of Trinitarians who have supposed the three persons to be three modes or three attributes or three offices personified? And those also who have so far dissented as to use the terms without any meaning? Are all these classes to be considered as apostates, having drawn back unto perdition?

Again, was the original doctrine of three persons in one God no more than Origen’s allegorical Trinity, improved by the use of the word person? There are pretty strong reasons for supposing this to be the fact. If so, Calvin, Baxter, and those who have agreed with them have been the true Trinitarians. And those who have given a different meaning to the proposition have been dissenters. What then will become of those who hold to three distinct agents in one God? Are they apostates and in the road to perdition? Will not the doom, which some have passed on all who dissent from the strict Trinitarian doctrine, come upon those who involve themselves among the apostates?

Moreover, it is well known that Doctor Watts departed from the doctrine of three persons in one God in the latter part of his life. And do Trinitarians wish to have it believed that Watts is among the damned? And that all his disciples have gone, or are going, to the same place of torment?

Once more. It is desired that those who have been dispos­ed to deal so largely in censure would consider what a number of apostates might be reckoned up, who never departed from the Trinitarian doctrine, but have, by their practice, made ship­wreck not only of Christian faith, but Christian works. If an invidious mind should make a full collection of such names, and attribute their apostasy to their having embraced Trinitarian sen­timents, might not the catalogue bear a comparison with any which has been made out by Trinitarian writers. And would it not be treating them as they have been disposed to treat those who have dissented from their opinion? But would it not, at the same time, be rendering evil for evil, and reviling for re­viling?

On such ground, it would be very easy to raise a hue and cry against every denomination of long standing. But is it not as abominable as it is easy? There have been, and are now, many, very many amiable characters among the Trinitarians; nor do I feel any less respect for them on account of the many bad characters of that denomination. But neither bad nor good characters are exclusively of any one sect of Christians.

But although some Trinitarians are not altogether so candid towards such as reject their favorite proposition, they are remarkably liberal towards each other, in respect to the latitude allowed for explanation. With any one of the seven or eight distinct opinions as to the import of the term, a man may stand on very fair ground. And a man may be a very good and firm Trinitarian if he only admit the favorite article, without any opinion of its real import. The great thing requisite is to ad­mit the proposition as true, in some sense or other, either known or unknown.

There is indeed some occasion for this extensive candor in respect to the various explanations, for it must be evident to every person of discernment that the proposition cannot be un­derstood according to the natural import of the terms. Its meaning, therefore, must be a matter of conjecture. And every explanation which has yet been given, in a greater or less de­gree, contradicts the most obvious import of one or other of the terms of the proposition. Most of the explanations perfectly exclude the idea of three distinct persons and represent God as strictly one person as he is supposed to be by any Unitarian.

But is it not extraordinary that there should be such zeal for a form of words, while it is viewed as a matter of such in­difference what meaning, or whether any meaning, be attached to them? What are words but vehicles for the conveyance of truth? Shall then the form of words be held so sacred, and the meaning of them be of no importance?

To this it may be replied that the subject is mysterious, and we cannot expect words to be clearly explained which are used to express a mystery. But if the subject be mysteri­ous, then for conscience sake let it stand in the words of inspi­ration, and not in the words of human wisdom or human folly. If the texts of scripture, which are supposed to support the pro­position, be mysterious beyond explanation, is it any thing short of extreme presumption to pretend to explain them, or to form a proposition in other words as expressive of their import? And especially to do this by a combination of terms which no human being can unravel or explain?

If these passages of scripture be really of mysterious and inexplicable import, and the proposition founded on them be so likewise, how can any man know the meaning of either, or whether they are accordant or discordant with each other? Can these things be known otherwise than by special inspira­tion? And if the import of the proposition be unknown, can it be less than absurd to attempt to support it by the unknown meaning of any passages of scripture? In such an effort do not men attempt to support they know not what, and by they know not what?

Some will probably think that giving up the proposition is giving up a fundamental article of the Christian faith. But if its meaning be unknown, how can any one know that it con­tains any gospeI doctrine? For surely this form of words is not found in the Bible. And if the meaning be not known, it can­not be made to appear that giving up the article is giving up any divine truth.

It may also be said that giving up this proposition will be giving up a doctrine which has, for many ages, been a source of comfort to the friends of Christ. But which class of the Trinitarians have been the partakers of this supposed comfort? Or have all the various classes been alike comforted? If the comfort has been the same to a//, has it not resulted from the sound rather than the meaning of words? Or shall we say that the various and contradictory meanings have been alike conducive to comfort? But what shall be said of that class who have admitted the article without affixing any meaning to the terms? Have they also had a share in the comfort? If so, on what ground has it resulted?

It may, perhaps, be supposed by some that the comfort has in a great measure resulted from the humility implied in ad­mitting, as true, a.proposition which is so perfectly mysterious and unintelligible. But if this be the ground of the comfort, must not some deduction be made from the supposed amount, on account of the pride of those several classes who have at­tempted to explain the mystery or to tell the meaning of the term? And must not the greater portion of the comfort be set to the account of those who have been so very humble as to re­ceive the form of words, as sound, without pretending to know their meaning, or even making any serious inquiry respecting their import?

On the whole, is it not worthy of the most serious inquiry whether the supposed comfort has not resulted chiefly from the popularity of the mystery, and the opinion that true piety and the true church have been found only among Trinitarians?

But, in calculating the real benefit of Trinitarianism to the Christian world, it may be proper to have some respect to the evils of which it has been productive. It has unquestionably been an occasion of great perplexity and embarrassment to such Trinitarians as have been much in the habit of thinking and inqui­ry. It may have been the occasion of much dissimulation with many who have had too great regard to their own popularity. It has, in time past, been the occasion of considerable animostiy among different classes of its advocates. It has been the occa­sion of much bitterness and alienation between those who have embraced the article and those by whom it has been rejected. This bitterness and censoriousness has been the occasion of great grief to pious souls of every denomination. Add to these evils the enormous flood of sinful revilings poured forth by the contending parties, and the uncomfortable and un­christian feelings which they have indulged one towards another.

Now, from the sum total of the supposed good, deduct the sum total of the real evils and mischiefs; then let candor esti­mate the neat amount of real benefit to the Christian world, and will it not pronounce on the contested proposition as Jehovah did on the useless Monarch of Babylon: “TEKEL, thou art weighed in the balances and art found wanting” [Daniel 5:27]?

[1] This article, the first of three parts, appeared in the first issue of the very first Unitarian journal, The General Repository and Review (January 1812; pp. 73-89). It was a custom in those days to publish articles anonymously or with only the initials of the author, so we do not know the author of this article as anything more than “H.R.” This letter to the editor, which accompanied the author’s submission, tells us a little bit about the author: “Sir, I have in MS. a work entitled ‘The Morning Inquiry,’ which is written in Numbers. A friend has requested that the first No. may appear in your work. To this I have consented. But I wish it to be understood that I have no party interest to promote, and no desire to degrade any denomination of professing Christians. The detection of error and the display of truth must tend to the advantage of all sects of Christians. Your name, your character, and your theological opinions are wholly unknown to me. But as, on the plan you have adopted, you consider yourself as not “responsible for the particular opinions,” which may appear in your Repository, so you will doubtless consider the writers as not responsible for yours. Whatever you may receive from me will, I hope, be found free from the spirit of reviling, yet written with that independence of mind, which becomes one who expects to give account of himself to God. H.R.”

[2] Those who believe that the one God is three persons appropriate to themselves the name Trinitarians. Therefore the term is here used in that sense. But the writer wishes it to be understood that he does not deny the scripture doctrine of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. He, howev­er, believes the doctrine that God is three persons does really imply a denial of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the scripture sense of those terms. Before the Messiah appeared in the flesh, God said thus, “I have put my spirit upon him” (Isa. 42:1). This was prophecy; and when the Messiah was inducted into office, God proclaimed, “This is my beloved son in whom I am well pleased” [John 1:33]; at the same time, “the spirit of God descended and abode upon him” [John 1:32].  John says, “I saw and bare record that this is the Son of God” [John 1:34]. He also said, “God giveth the Spirit not by measure unto him” [John 3:34]. Thus “god anointed jesus of Nazareth with the holy spirit and with power” [Acts 10:38]. Such is the scriptural account of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. But in all this ac­count, the Father is the one god, Jesus is his Son, and the Holy Spirit is that with which God anointed and endued the Son in whom he was well pleased.

© 2005 American Unitarian Conference