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there in it a unity of spirit in the bond of peace? Do the branches abide in the Vine? Do the scattered and warring members make one spirit in one body? Alas! could there be a sadder mockery, than to pretend to seek in our prevalent Christianity any features corresponding to this divine conception?
Trinitarian Christianity is founded upon a principle directly opposed to the realization of this prospect and vision of Jesus. It declares that there shall be no unity but a doctrinal unity. It rejects that moral and spiritual union which is the bond of peace, and which, as subsisting among his followers, Christ looked forward to as the great proof to the world that God had sent him ;—and it declares that there shall be no bonds but the bonds of Creeds. It breaks up the Christian world into distinct and mutually repulsive parties ; each claimingnot to be disciples of the life of Christ-not to be one with him as he was one with God, in will, aspiration, and purpose of soul, but—to be in possession of the exact doctrinal ideas which constitute a saving faith, of a certain intellectual process of belief, through which alone God conducts the sinner into Heaven, and without which no soul, whatever may be its spiritual oneness with Jesus and his father, can be saved. Now it is clear that a system such as this, requiring not a unity of spirit, but a unity of opinion, cannot be that primitive Gospel, which, according to the expectation of the Saviour, was to gather all the believers under Heaven into a universal Church. Trinitarianism, as a system, does not, and cannot, work out these fruits of the spirit of Christ. It does not gather, but scatters; it does not collect into one; but disunites, severs, and casts out. It disowns all harmony but the harmony of metaphysical conceptions. It has no wider way of salvation, no broader bond of peace, no more open road to Heaven, than a coincidence of ideas, on the essence of the Deity, the mysterious modes of the divine existence ; a person in whom there are two natures; and
then, again, a nature in which there are three persons; and this as preparatory to a moral process, in which a penalty is paid by substitution for a guilt incurred by substitution. I ask not now whether these ideas are true; whether they are realities of God's mind; but I ask, Have they ever been, or can they ever be, bonds of union for a Church Universal ? Are these the grand affinities towards which all hearts shall be drawn; and which, breaking down our minor distinctions into less than nothing, shall bind together the families of man in the fellowship of one spirit? You all know, every man knows, that a uniformity of opinion is an impossibility; that God has nowhere provided the means for producing it; that nowhere does it exist; no-not in that closely-fenced and strictly-articled Church, whose bosom at this very hour is rent by heresies, even as, throughout all her history, they shattered the unity and split the bosom even of infallible Rome; and seeing, therefore, that there is no such doctrinal unity on earth, if Jesus understood his own gospel, this cannot be the oneness with his father and himself, to which he looked forward as the Reign of his Spirit in the world. And yet the Trinitarian Church of England, one of whose Ministers when, on a late occasion, denouncing Unitarian heresies, took the opportunity to give the relief of expression to his horror of other heresies in the bosom of his own communion, and openly denounced as heretics ordained clergymen and dignitaries of his own Church,—this Church of England, notwithstanding all this, still claims to be the great bulwark, among Protestants, of the unity of the Faith, the dignified rebuker of schisms and sects; and still offers to the harassed and distracted, to the rent and divided body of Christ, a creed—and what a creed !-as the only bond of agreement
and of peace.
Either, then, Christ miscalculated the workings of his own spirit, when he contemplated a Universal Church as its natural fruit; or Trinitarianism, when it destroys the spiritual
union of the Church, a moral oneness with Jesus and with
studying the same Models, trusting to the same Image of God to guide us to His presence,-a union of all hearts, seeking to be one, even as God and Christ were one, in the fellowship of the same spirit. This is my heaviest indictment against the practice of Trinitarianism, that it destroys Christ's delightful image of his Spirit's Reign on earth, and creates in its place—what shall I say?--the strife and disunion, the fears of the weak and the arrogance of the coarse; the wranglings of creeds and the absence of love; the heat of controversy and the chill of religion, through the midst of which we are now passing.*
Trinitarianism has long been the prevailing influence of the Christian world; it holds all the religious power of these countries in its own hands; there is nothing external to prevent its carrying into existence its own ideas; and if in the day of its power it has not wrought the works and realized the hopes of Christ, it must be because it has worked in another spirit, and preached another gospel; adding to the primitive “glad tidings” of “repentance and remission of sins," other conditions which are not glad tidings, and which are not Christ's. Now not only can we point to the actual failure in proof of the absence of the true spirit, but we can lay our finger upon the element of mischief, and demonstrate it to be the parent of the evils we deplore, the frustrator of the hope of Christ. Trinitarianism, by demanding a doctrinal assimilation, an intellectual instead of a spiritual union, and wielding, as it does, the prevailing influences of religion, has, in the day of its power, forcibly prevented the formation of that universal Church which Christ contemplated. And until it drops from its essentials the doctrinal oneness, and substitutes in its place a spiritual oneness derived from obedience to God as he is manifested in Jesus, it cannot gather into one fold, and constitute the kingdom of Heaven on Earth.
Now let us suppose, for a moment, that this doctrinal conformity is required by Christianity, and that not trust in Christ, but belief of Creeds, constitutes acceptance of the gospel. Then comes the question, and a most perplexing one it would be, how can any one be sure that the creed he trusts to contains exactly the ideas to which God has annexed safety? Supposing creeds to be the essentials of Christianity, then how can any Christian be sure that he has got the true creed? I can easily conceive with what fear, with what apprehensions of mind, with what a parallyzed intellect, and unconfiding heart, sinking the love of truth in selfish terrors, a man trembling under the conviction that his everlasting safety depended upon his reception of a doctrine, would come to the examination of the Scriptures; I can well conceive how his judgment would be gradually bereft of all calm and trustful independence ; how his fears and passions would slavishly draw him over to whatever party predominated in intolerance, and in the confidence of their assumptions, frightening him into the belief that safety was with them, for that if creeds were the essentials of salvation, the more of creed the more of certainty ;-but after all this sacrifice has been submitted to, after terror has wrought its work, and the intellect has surrendered to the passions—after the man in the pursuit of selfish safety has given up his Reason and his free mind, and stooped his neck to the yoke,–I cannot see how in any way he has altered or bettered his position; I cannot see how he has attained the end for which he has paid such degrading wages; how he can be certain that he has got the creed which ensures salvation ;-and after having sold his birth-right, parted with his free soul for the sake of a safety
upon doctrines, he discovers at last, unless he is a Roman Catholic
, that he has no absolute certainty of these doctrines being the true ones; he is still left in doubt whether after all he is in possession of the particular creed that works salvation-whether, after all, he has not bowed down his soul