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* AND IT CAME TO PASS, WHILE A POL LOS WAS AT CORINTH, PAUL HAVING PASSED THROUGH THI UPPER COASTS, CAME TO EPHESUS; AND FINDING CERTAIN DISCIPLES, HE SAID UNTO THEM, HAVE YB RECEIVED THE HOLY GHOST SINCE YE BE LIEVED? AND THEY SAID UNTO HIM, WE HAVE NOT SO MUCH AŚ HEARD WHETHER THÉRÈ BE ANÝ HOLY GHOST. AND HE SAID UNTO THEM, UNTO WHAT THEN WE'RE YE BAPTIZED AND THEY ŠAID, UNTO JOHN'S BAPTISM. , THEN SAID PAUL, JOHN VÉRILY BAPTIZED WITH THE BAPTISM OF RÉPENTANCE, SAYING. UNTO THE PEOPLB, THAT THEY SHOULD BELIEVE ON HIM WHICH SHOULD COME AFTER HIM, THAT IS, ON CHRIST JESUS. WHEN THEY HEARD THIS THEY WERE BAPTIZED IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS, AND WHEN PAUL HAD LAID HIS HANDS UPON THEM, THE HOLY GHOST CAME ON THEM; AND THEY SPEAK
WITH TONGUES AND PROPHESIED,
THE confufion, ambiguity and metaphysical subtilties, introduced into the subject of Deity, by
the doctrine of a trinity, have done unspeakable prejudice. The abuse and corruption the christian religion has suffered from this quarter, cannot be thought of by any serious person, who has real religion at heart, without the utmost concern and grief. If the doctrine of the pre-existence of Chrift (as I have endeavoured to show in a previous difcourse) has no real foundation in scripture; how many doctrines which depend upon it fall to the ground. The doctrine of a second divine per fon' assuming a human body, so difficult to conceive, fo embarrassing, need not be admitted : and if the holy ghost does not mean a person or being distinct from God, but God himself, or the immediate effect of his power and agency, which I verily believe to be scripture truth; this absolutely clears us of the whole notion of a trinity, which, whether in the Nicene, or Arian sense, is so extremely disagreeable to a thinking mind, and has produced so much disturbance and unchristian animosity and contention. The difference is but little between asserting a trinity of unequal, or equal persons. However, let these things, so freely spoken, occafion no disagreeable debates amongst us. Let us judge freely and seriously for ourselves, pursue truth for our own benefit, and recommend it to others as we have opportunity: let us examine what is proposed to us, and receive only what appears right and true to our own minds.
The minds of men have been fadly perplexed, with respect to the very object of their homage. To be clear in the conception, and firm in the persuasion of one God over all, is a thing of the utmost importance : it is a first principle, and of ' the greatest consequence'to well-directed worship, and the just exercise of devout affe&tions. The idea of one God, the maker and governor of the whole universe, is the foundation of true religion. And God is also to be conceived of, as one single, all-perfect, intelligent agent, absolutely distinct from, and infinitely superior to all other beings. The divine unity is so obvious a dictate of reason, so clearly and expressly taught, so earnestly and emphatically inculcated, both in the Old and New Testament, that it is surprising christians should ever have admitted sentiments inconsistent with it : but so it has been, for the doctrine of three persons in the godhead, is absolutely inconsistent with it. Trinity and unity are contradictory ideas, and cannot, poffibly, subfift together : the attempt to reconcile them is vain and absurd, and has produced nothing but the most contemptible jargon and mysterious nonsense. One of the two doctrines must be given up: they cannot both be true. But the divine unity is a fundamental point: and that there can be but ONE SUPREME BEING, is clear as a fun beam : absolute unity indeed arises from the idea of God: we must on no account, admit any thing inconsistent with this:
and whatever contradicts it, ought to be discarded. Would christians lay afide prejudice, examine the scriptures with unbiaffed minds, in the free exercise of their reason; they might certainly difcern that the trinity notion has no real foundation there. One God is the plain indisputable doctrine of both the Old and the New Testament. Would we impartially attend to all that the scriptures say concerning our blefied saviour and the holy ghoft; we should not find any real ground to consider one as, a second, the other as a third person in the divine nature.
What appears clearly to my own mind to be the true scripture doctrine concerning our blessed faviour, I have laid before you, afferting his real humanity in a way entirely exclusive of all refer, ence to a trinity. I would now, briefly show what we are to understand by the holy ghost, as used in scripture.
Could chriftians be once generally brought to a just discernment of the real humanity of our blessed saviour, and to a clear persuasion that we are not to attribute distinct personality to the holy ghoft, or to consider it as intending a fpiritual being different from God, but to understand it as signifying, in general, the miraculous exertion of the divine power in confirmation of the gospel ; it would, I cannot but apprehend, be of vast advantage to the christian religion, and produce a great and happy alteration in the christian
fyftem : it would clear us of many, great difficul ties which have arisen from different conceptions : it would reduce christianity to a noble plainness and fimplicity :: it would bring us more directly to God: and it would place ús more fully and immediately' under the moral power and influence of the gospel. Till this be the case, as it seems to me, the gospel cannot spread and prosper in the world. It is not poffible christianity should flourish, while the shocking perplexities of a trinity remain: they are a dead weight upon it. Nor do I perceive how they can be entirely and effe&tually removed, otherwise than by the prevalence of the above-mentioned sentiments. It will, I fuppofe, be no difficult matter to satisfy reasonable persons, that there is no neceflity to attribute real diftinct being to the holy ghoft.
I am persuaded, that from an examination of the scriptures, we shall find, that by the spirit, the spirit of God, the spirit of the Lord, the holy Spirit, the holy ghost, we are to understand, either God bimself, or some extraordinary effect or effects of his immediate influence, power and agency.
It is not uncommon in scripture to denote, man himself by his fpirit. It is said with regard to Moses, that the Israelites provoked his spirit, i.e. provoked him. One of St. Paul's valedictory wishes is this,' the grace of our lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit, i. e. with thee. . According to this mode of expreffion, the spirit of God is freE 5