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equal boldness they describe the manner of the eternal procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father and Son.
After these successful attempts on the part of trinitarians to unfold all the secret things of their doctrine, it is with an ill grace, that they call it a mystery. And it would be more ungracious still, for them to charge it as a crime against any one, that he desires to know whether these things be true, and takes it upon him to examine the arguments by which these assertions respecting the nature of the Deity are supported. As pursued by the opposers of the trinity, the inquiry regards nothing more than the truth of the doctrine. Is there a trinity? When this is settled, the inquiry is at an end. The doctrine must be believed. And in settling this point, no honest mind will discourage investigation by calling it a mystery.
The above remarks are translated from Wolzogen's Præparatio ad utilem Lectionem Librorum Novi Tes amenti; "Preparation for a profitable Study of the Books of the New Testament." They set in a clear light the subject of mystery, as applied to a knowledge of the trinity. It has always been a fashion with trinitarians, when argument failed, to take refuge in this last resort. When they could neither convince nor refute, they have found it easy to gain a safe retreat behind the strong works of mystery. When they could communicate no light to others, nor find any in themselves, they have made a merit of their darkness.
In the first place, unitarians do not put them to the task of explaining a mystery. They only call for a proof, that there is such a mystery. Let them make this appear, and then they may quietly enjoy all the
advantage which it affords. Prove the truth of such a doctrine as the trinity, and, mystery or not, unitarians will believe it. But while this point remains unsettled, how is it to be expected, that we shall grope in darkness for a thing, which its warmest advocates assure us can never be found.
Again, as Wolzogen has observed, trinitarians make no mystery of their doctrine, when it is once allowed to be true. They only tell you it is a mystery, when they cannot convince you of its reality. Look at their endless disputes among themselves. How hot have been the controversies about essences and persons, consubstantiality, modes, and substances, eternal generation and procession, and many other dogmas concerning the elemental properties of the trinity. The truth is, that in these speculations all pretence to mys tery has been given up. Nothing has been too profound or too difficult for the human mind to fathom. Even the secret purposes of Jehovah himself have been laid open. The particular offices of each person of the trinity have been found out, and made known by the initiated. The agreement between the first and second persons of the trinity before the creation, respecting the destiny of man, and the consent of the third person to unite in aiding their designs, have been developed in volumes of massive size.
The relation in which these persons of the trinity stand to each other has been a subject of high controversy among trinitarians, but never a matter of mystery. Even at this day we see learned divines gravely disputing the point, whether the Son has proceeded from the Father by an eternal generation, or whether he has always had an independent existence. Think
you, that these divines believe the whole thing to be a mystery? Why then dispute about it? And while they continue to dispute on subjects, which lie at the very bottom of the trinity, why do they affect to be invulnerable to their common opponents by thrusting themselves into the panoply of mystery? Among churches we find a difference of sentiment. The Romish and English Churches affirm, that the "Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and the Son;" but the Greek Church declares, that the "Holy Spirit is from the Father only, and not from the Father and Son." Notwithstanding this difference, both parties have made a positive decision, which they would hardly have done, if they believed the whole subject to be a mystery, not within the compass of the human faculties.
In short, nothing is clearer, than that trinitarians, in their discussions of this doctrine among themselves, have always treated it as a thing, which might be understood and explained. They can have no ground of complaint, therefore, if unitarians insist on their making it intelligible, as well as proving its truth. Every one, who attempts to define the trinity, shows that he does not consider it an inexplicable mystery, for he well knows that such a thing could not be defined. If it can be conceived by one mind, so it can by another; and if you excuse yourself from making an intelligible communication of your own conceptions, because they embrace a mystery, you cannot think the inference an unreasonable or strange one, that you have no definite ideas to communicate.
Moreover, we have no authority in the Scriptures to call any doctrine of revelation a mystery. What Le Clerc says of mystery in a particular case, may be ap
plied to the whole New Testament. Mysterium est non quod sit in se naraλrov, sed quia de eo sine revelatione Novi Testamenti nunquam homines cogitassent. A mystery is not such, because it has any thing in itself incomprehensible, but because it never would have been thought of, had it not been revealed in the New Testament." The term mystery in the Scriptures is never applied to any doctrine, which is required to be believed, and which is at the same time unsearchable, unintelligible, and incomprehensible. It is used to denote truths, which have been revealed, but which were before unknown. After they are revealed, they must be understood, and are no longer a mystery. And in regard to the trinity, if it be actually a mystery, it has never been revealed, and cannot be an article of christian faith.
Le Clerc further says, in respect to the trinity, Mysterium illud, quod hactenus theologis omnibus crucem fixit, facile explicatu esse, modo recte ineatur via, contendimus. “I contend, that this mystery, which has hitherto tortured all theologians, may be easily explained, if they will go about it in the right way." What this right way is, Le Clerc has not made known; but he has encouraged us to search and try, by taking away the impenetrable cloud of mystery. With this freedom and encouragement, we may at least have a glimmering light of hope, that our labour and patience of inquiry may not be absolutely unprofitable. But when you send us in search of a doctrine, which is hidden in the impervious fogs of mystery; when you present us with arguments, which can prove nothing, since nothing can be proved; when you call on us to yield assent to an article of faith, which you affirm to
be essential to salvation, but which you neither pretend to understand, nor to make intelligible to others; when you impose this tax on our credulity, and these shackles on our freedom, you can hardly suppose, that we shall forsake our reason, and resist the stern commands of conscience, to follow a delusion, or chase a shadow.
Tell us, that your doctrine is in Scripture, and show us where it is; tell us it is from heaven, and may be understood; tell us it is true, and may be proved; then call on us as rational beings to examine, judge, and beA. lieve. But tell us no more of mystery.
Prosperity the Cause of Self-confidence.
Ir is a melancholy fact in the history of man, that the blessings which are showered down upon him in such rich profusion by his Heavenly Father, not only, in many instances, do not leave a trace of gratitude upon his heart, but even become the means of nourishing his pride, and hardening him in sin. Notwithstanding every man is to be judged at last, according to the talents with which he has been entrusted, we do not find that this furnishes a standard by which we can estimate the measure of religious improvement We do not discover the virtues and among men. graces of the Gospel, in exact proportion to the talents and privileges which are bestowed, on the contrary, those who have reflected the brightest lustre on the Christian name, have often had the blessings of Providence, and the means of religious improvement, dealt out to them in the most sparing manner; and instead of finding the man who has been most highly