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The Morning Inquiry
Part One: An Important Question Examined 
“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
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
There are three minutes in one league.
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.
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.
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.
acquainted with geography takes the true idea that a league is a measure
of three miles.
by minutes understands time and thinks that a league is
such a distance as requires three minutes in sailing or running.
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.
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.
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
“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
third, that he is one of the three persons, and called a son on the
ground of his becoming incarnate.
fourth, that he is one of the three persons, and called a son because
his human nature was “created by an immediate act.”
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.
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.
ninth supposes that he was truly
a man, who had no preexistence, but was united to the Deity 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.
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
the light of the preceding observations, let us now candidly examine
another proposition, and the faith of its advocates.
“There are three distinct persons in one God.”
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?
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.
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
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?
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.
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.
an article of faith, it has been explained in more different ways than
there are words in the sentence. By some modern Trinitarians,
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.
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.
class have supposed that by the three persons no more is intended than
the power, wisdom, and love of Deity personified.
fourth class by three distinct persons have meant three distinct
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.
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.”
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.
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.
believe that God acts in three distinct offices, as Creator, Redeemer,
and Sanctifier. This is what others have meant by three persons.
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?
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.
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?
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
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?
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
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
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
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
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.
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
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
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?
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?
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
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
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
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
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”
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.”
 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™