PraysHome - Prayer Book Explained - Preaching - Presbyterian - Catholic - Bible Myths - Men's Bible
Most ViewedHe Descended Into Hell
Jonah Swallowed By A Big Fish
Jacob's Vision Of The Ladder
Receiving The Ten Commandments
Samson And His Exploits
Christ Buddha And Christ Jesus Compared
Least ViewedThe Genealogy Of Christ Jesus
The Trial Of Abraham's Faith
The Song Of The Heavenly Host
The Miracles Of Christ Jesus And The Primitive Christians
The Temptation And Fast Of Forty Days
The Tower Of Babel
Why Christianity Prospered
The Exodus From Egypt And Passage Through The Red Sea
The Second Coming Of Christ Jesus And The Millennium
The Eucharist Or Lord's Supper
"Say not there are three Gods, God is but One God."--(Koran.)
The doctrine of the Trinity is the highest and most mysterious doctrine
of the Christian church. It declares that there are three persons in
the Godhead or divine nature--the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Ghost--and that "these three are one true, eternal God, the same in
substance, equal in power and glory, although distinguished by their
personal propensities." The most celebrated statement of the doctrine is
to be found in the Athanasian creed,[368:1] which asserts that:
"The Catholic[368:2] faith is this: That we worship One God
as Trinity, and Trinity in Unity--neither confounding the
persons, nor dividing the substance--for there is One person
of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy
Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, and of the Son, and of
the Holy Ghost is all one; the glory equal, the majesty
As M. Reville remarks:
"The dogma of the Trinity displayed its contradictions with
true bravery. The Deity divided into three divine persons,
and yet these three persons forming only One God; of
these three the first only being self-existent, the two
others deriving their existence from the first, and yet
these three persons being considered as perfectly equal;
each having his special, distinct character, his individual
qualities, wanting in the other two, and yet each one of the
three being supposed to possess the fullness of
perfection--here, it must be confessed, we have the
deification of the contradictory."[368:3]
We shall now see that this very peculiar doctrine of three in one, and
one in three, is of heathen origin, and that it must fall with all the
other dogmas of the Christian religion.
The number three is sacred in all theories derived from oriental
sources. Deity is always a trinity of some kind, or the successive
emanations proceeded in threes.[369:1]
If we turn to India we shall find that one of the most prominent
features in the Indian theology is the doctrine of a divine triad,
governing all things. This triad is called Tri-murti--from the
Sanscrit word tri (three) and murti (form)--and consists of Brahma,
Vishnu, and Siva. It is an inseparable unity, though three in
"When the universal and infinite being Brahma--the only really existing
entity, wholly without form, and unbound and unaffected by the three
Gunas or by qualities of any kind--wished to create for his own
entertainment the phenomena of the universe, he assumed the quality of
activity and became a male person, as Brahma the creator. Next, in the
progress of still further self-evolution, he willed to invest himself
with the second quality of goodness, as Vishnu the preserver, and with
the third quality of darkness, as Siva the destroyer. This development
of the doctrine of triple manifestation (tri-murti), which appears
first in the Brahmanized version of the Indian Epics, had already been
adumbrated in the Veda in the triple form of fire, and in the triad of
gods, Agni, Surya, and Indra; and in other ways."[369:3]
This divine Tri-murti--says the Brahmans and the sacred books--is
indivisible in essence, and indivisible in action; mystery profound!
which is explained in the following manner:
Brahma represents the creative principle, the unreflected or
unevolved protogoneus state of divinity--the Father.
Vishnu represents the protecting and preserving principle, the
evolved or reflected state of divinity--the Son.[369:4]
Siva is the principle that presides at destruction and
re-construction--the Holy Spirit.[369:5]
The third person was the Destroyer, or, in his good capacity, the
Regenerator. The dove was the emblem of the Regenerator. As the
spiritus was the passive cause (brooding on the face of the waters) by
which all things sprang into life, the dove became the emblem of the
Spirit, or Holy Ghost, the third person.
These three gods are the first and the highest manifestations of the
Eternal Essence, and are typified by the three letters composing the
mystic syllable OM or AUM. They constitute the well known Trimurti or
Triad of divine forms which characterizes Hindooism. It is usual to
describe these three gods as Creator, Preserver and Destroyer, but this
gives a very inadequate idea of their complex characters. Nor does the
conception of their relationship to each other become clearer when it is
ascertained that their functions are constantly interchangeable, and
that each may take the place of the other, according to the sentiment
expressed by the greatest of Indian poets, Kalidasa (Kumara-sambhava,
Griffith, vii. 44):
"In those three persons the One God was shown--
Each first in place, each last--not one alone;
Of Siva, Vishnu, Brahma, each may be
First, second, third, among the blessed three."
A devout person called Attencin, becoming convinced that he should
worship but one deity, thus addressed Brahma, Vishnu and Siva:
"O you three Lords; know that I recognize only One God;
inform me therefore, which of you is the true divinity, that
I may address to him alone my vows and adorations."
The three gods became manifest to him, and replied:
"Learn, O devotee, that there is no real distinction between
us; what to you appears such is only by semblance; the
Single Being appears under three forms, but he is
Sir William Jones says:
"Very respectable natives have assured me, that one or two
missionaries have been absurd enough in their zeal for the
conversion of the Gentiles, to urge that the Hindoos were even
now almost Christians; because their Brahma, Vishnou, and
Mahesa (Siva), were no other than the Christian
Thomas Maurice, in his "Indian Antiquities," describes a magnificent
piece of Indian sculpture, of exquisite workmanship, and of stupendous
"A bust composed of three heads, united to one body,
adorned with the oldest symbols of the Indian theology, and
thus expressly fabricated according to the unanimous
confession of the sacred sacerdotal tribe of India, to
indicate the Creator, the Preserver, and the
Regenerator, of mankind; which establishes the solemn fact,
that from the remotest eras, the Indian nations had adored a
Fig. No. 34 is a representation of an Indian sculpture, intended to
represent the Triune God,[371:2] evidently similar to the one described
above by Mr. Maurice. It is taken from "a very ancient granite" in the
museum at the "Indian House," and was dug from the ruins of a temple in
the island of Bombay.
The Buddhists, as well as the Brahmans, have had their Trinity from a
very early period.
Mr. Faber, in his "Origin of Heathen Idolatry," says:
"Among the Hindoos, we have the Triad of Brahma, Vishnu,
and Siva; so, among the votaries of Buddha, we find the
self-triplicated Buddha declared to be the same as the Hindoo
Trimurti. Among the Buddhist sect of the Jainists, we have the
triple Jiva, in whom the Trimurti is similarly declared to be
In this Trinity Vajrapani answers to Brahma, or Jehovah, the
"All-father," Manjusri is the "deified teacher," the counterpart of
Crishna or Jesus, and Avalokitesvara is the "Holy Spirit."
Buddha was believed by his followers to be, not only an incarnation of
the deity, but "God himself in human form"--as the followers of Crishna
believed him to be--and therefore "three gods in one." This is clearly
illustrated by the following address delivered to Buddha by a devotee
"Reverence be unto thee, O God, in the form of the God of
mercy, the dispeller of pain and trouble, the Lord of all
things, the guardian of the universe, the emblem of mercy
towards those who serve thee--OM! the possessor of all things
in vital form. Thou art Brahma, Vishnu, and Mahesa; thou art
Lord of all the universe. Thou art under the proper form of
all things, movable and immovable, the possessor of the whole,
and thus I adore thee. I adore thee, who art celebrated by a
thousand names, and under various forms; in the shape of
Buddha, the god of mercy."[371:3]
The inhabitants of China and Japan, the majority of whom are
Buddhists, worship God in the form of a Trinity. Their name for him
(Buddha) is Fo, and in speaking of the Trinity they say: "The three
pure, precious or honorable Fo."[372:1] This triad is represented in
their temples by images similar to those found in the pagodas of India,
and when they speak of God they say: "Fo is one person, but has three
In a chapel belonging to the monastery of Poo-ta-la, which was found in
Manchow-Tartary, was to be seen representations of Fo, in the form of
Navarette, in his account of China, says:
"This sect (of Fo) has another idol they call Sanpao. It
consists of three, equal in all respects. This, which has
been represented as an image of the Most Blessed Trinity, is
exactly the same with that which is on the high altar of the
monastery of the Trinitarians at Madrid. If any Chinese
whatsoever saw it, he would say that Sanpao of his country
was worshiped in these parts."
And Mr. Faber, in his "Origin of Heathen Idolatry," says:
"Among the Chinese, who worship Buddha under the name of Fo,
we find this God mysteriously multiplied into three
The mystic syllable O. M. or A. U. M. is also reverenced by the Chinese
and Japanese,[372:4] as we have found it reverenced by the inhabitants
The followers of Laou-tsze, or Laou-keum-tsze--a celebrated philosopher
of China, and deified hero, born 604 B. C.--known as the Taou sect, are
also worshipers of a Trinity.[372:5] It was the leading feature in
Laou-keun's system of philosophical theology, that Taou, the eternal
reason, produced one; one produced two; two produced three; and
three produced all things.[372:6] This was a sentence which Laou-keun
continually repeated, and which Mr. Maurice considers, "a most singular
axiom for a heathen philosopher."[372:7]
The sacred volumes of the Chinese state that:
"The Source and Root of all is One. This self-existent unity
necessarily produced a second. The first and second, by
their union, produced a third. These Three produced
The ancient emperors of China solemnly sacrificed, every three years, to
"Him who is One and Three."[372:9]
The ancient Egyptians worshiped God in the form of a Trinity, which
was represented in sculptures on the most ancient of their temples. The
celebrated symbol of the wing, the globe, and the serpent, is supposed
to have stood for the different attributes of God.[373:1]
The priests of Memphis, in Egypt, explained this mystery to the novice,
by intimating that the premier (first) monad created the dyad, who
engendered the triad, and that it is this triad which shines through
Thulis, a great monarch, who at one time reigned over all Egypt, and who
was in the habit of consulting the oracle of Serapis, is said to have
addressed the oracle in these words:
"Tell me if ever there was before one greater than I, or will
ever be one greater than me?"
The oracle answered thus:
"First God, afterward the Word, and with them the Holy
Spirit, all these are of the same nature, and make but one
whole, of which the power is eternal. Go away quickly,
mortal, thou who hast but an uncertain life."[373:2]
The idea of calling the second person in the Trinity the Logos, or
Word[373:3] is an Egyptian feature, and was engrafted into
Christianity many centuries after the time of Christ Jesus.[373:4]
Apollo, who had his tomb at Delphi in Egypt, was called the
Mr. Bonwick, in his "Egyptian Belief and Modern Thought," says:
"Some persons are prepared to admit that the most astonishing
development of the old religion of Egypt was in relation to
the Logos or Divine Word, by whom all things were made,
and who, though from God, was God. It had long been known that
Plato, Aristotle, and others before the Christian era,
cherished the idea of this Demiurgus; but it was not known
till of late that Chaldeans and Egyptians recognized this
"The Logos or Word was a great mystery (among the
Egyptians), in whose sacred books the following passages may
be seen: 'I know the mystery of the divine Word;' 'The Word of
the Lord of All, which was the maker of it;' 'The Word--this
is the first person after himself, uncreated, infinite ruling
over all things that were made by him.'"[374:1]
The Assyrians had Marduk for their Logos;[374:2] one of their sacred
addresses to him reads thus:
"Thou art the powerful one--Thou art the life-giver--Thou also
the prosperer--Merciful one among the gods--Eldest son of Hea,
who made heaven and earth--Lord of heaven and earth, who an
equal has not--Merciful one, who dead to life raises."[374:3]
The Chaldeans had their Memra or "Word of God," corresponding to the
Greek Logos, which designated that being who organized and who still
governs the world, and is inferior to God only.[374:4]
The Logos was with Philoa most interesting subject of discourse,
tempting him to wonderful feats of imagination. There is scarcely a
personifying or exalting epithet that he did not bestow on the Divine
Reason. He described it as a distinct being; called it "a Rock," "The
Summit of the Universe," "Before all things," "First-begotten Son of
God," "Eternal Bread from Heaven," "Fountain of Wisdom," "Guide to God,"
"Substitute for God," "Image of God," "Priest," "Creator of the Worlds,"
"Second God," "Interpreter of God," "Ambassador of God," "Power of God,"
"King," "Angel," "Man," "Mediator," "Light," "The Beginning," "The
East," "The Name of God," "The Intercessor."[374:5]
This is exactly the Logos of John. It becomes a man, "is made flesh;"
appears as an incarnation; in order that the God whom "no man has seen
at any time," may be manifested.
The worship of God in the form of a Trinity was to be found among the
ancient Greeks. When the priests were about to offer up a sacrifice to
the gods, the altar was three times sprinkled by dipping a laurel
branch in holy water, and the people assembled around it were three
times sprinkled also. Frankincense was taken from the censer with
three fingers, and strewed upon the altar three times. This was done
because an oracle had declared that all sacred things ought to be in
threes, therefore, that number was scrupulously observed in most
Orpheus[374:7] wrote that:
"All things were made by One godhead in three names, and
that this god is all things."[375:1]
This Trinitarian view of the Deity he is said to have brought from
Egypt, and the Christian Fathers of the third and fourth centuries
claimed that Pythagoras, Heraclitus, and Plato--who taught the doctrine
of the Trinity--had drawn their theological philosophy from the writings
The works of Plato were extensively studied by the Church Fathers, one
of whom joyfully recognizes in the great teacher, the schoolmaster who,
in the fullness of time, was destined to educate the heathen for Christ,
as Moses did the Jews.[375:3]
The celebrated passage: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was
with God, and the Word was God,"[375:4] is a fragment of some Pagan
treatise on the Platonic philosophy, evidently written by
Irenaeus.[375:5] It is quoted by Amelius, a Pagan philosopher, as
strictly applicable to the Logos, or Mercury, the Word, apparently as an
honorable testimony borne to the Pagan deity by a barbarian--for such is
what he calls the writer of John i. 1. His words are:
"This plainly was the Word, by whom all things were made, he
being himself eternal, as Heraclitus also would say; and by
Jove, the same whom the barbarian affirms to have been in
the place and dignity of a principal, and to be with God, and
to be God, by whom all things were made, and in whom
everything that was made has its life and being."[375:6]
The Christian Father, Justin Martyr, apologizing for the Christian
religion, tells the Emperor Antoninus Pius, that the Pagans need not
taunt the Christians for worshiping the Logos, which "was with God, and
was God," as they were also guilty of the same act.
"If we (Christians) hold," says he, "some opinions near of kin
to the poets and philosophers, in great repute among you, why
are we thus unjustly hated?" "There's Mercury, Jove's
interpreter, in imitation of the Logos, in worship among you,"
and "as to the Son of God, called Jesus, should we allow him
to be nothing more than man, yet the title of the 'Son of God'
is very justifiable, upon the account of his wisdom,
considering you have your Mercury, (also called the 'Son
of God') in worship under the title of the Word and
Messenger of God."[375:7]
We see, then, that the title "Word" or "Logos," being applied to Jesus,
is another piece of Pagan amalgamation with Christianity. It did not
receive its authorized Christian form until the middle of the second
century after Christ.[376:1]
The ancient Pagan Romans worshiped a Trinity. An oracle is said to
have declared that there was, "first God, then the Word, and with them
Here we see distinctly enumerated, God, the Logos, and the Spirit or
Holy Ghost, in ancient Rome, where the most celebrated temple of this
capital--that of Jupiter Capitolinus--was dedicated to three deities,
which three deities were honored with joint worship.[376:3]
The ancient Persians worshiped a Trinity.[376:4] This trinity
consisted of Oromasdes, Mithras, and Ahriman.[376:5] It was virtually
the same as that of the Hindoos: Oromasdes was the Creator, Mithras was
the "Son of God," the "Saviour," the "Mediator" or "Intercessor," and
Ahriman was the Destroyer. In the oracles of Zoroaster the Persian
lawgiver, is to be found the following sentence:
"A Triad of Deity shines forth through the whole world, of
which a Monad (an invisible thing) is the head."[376:6]
Plutarch, "De Iside et Osiride," says:
"Zoroaster is said to have made a threefold distribution of
things: to have assigned the first and highest rank to
Oromasdes, who, in the Oracles, is called the Father; the
lowest to Ahrimanes; and the middle to Mithras; who, in the
same Oracles, is called the second Mind."
The Assyrians and Phenicians worshiped a Trinity.[376:7]
"It is a curious and instructive fact, that the Jews had symbols of the
divine Unity in Trinity as well as the Pagans."[376:8] The Cabbala had
its Trinity: "the Ancient, whose name is sanctified, is with three
heads, which make but one."[376:9]
Rabbi Simeon Ben Jochai says:
"Come and see the mystery of the word Elohim: there are
three degrees, and each degree by itself alone, and yet,
notwithstanding, they are all One, and joined together in
One, and cannot be divided from each other."
According to Dr. Parkhurst:
"The Vandals[376:10] had a god called Triglaff. One of these
was found at Hertungerberg, near Brandenburg (in Prussia). He
was represented with three heads. This was apparently the
Trinity of Paganism."[377:1]
The ancient Scandinavians worshiped a triple deity who was yet one
god. It consisted of Odin, Thor, and Frey. A triune statue representing
this Trinity in Unity was found at Upsal in Sweden.[377:2] The three
principal nations of Scandinavia (Sweden, Denmark, and Norway) vied with
each other in erecting temples, but none were more famous than the
temple at Upsal in Sweden. It glittered on all sides with gold. It
seemed to be particularly consecrated to the Three Superior Deities,
Odin, Thor and Frey. The statues of these gods were placed in this
temple on three thrones, one above the other. Odin was represented
holding a sword in his hand: Thor stood at the left hand of Odin, with
a crown upon his head, and a scepter in his hand; Frey stood at the
left hand of Thor, and was represented of both sexes. Odin was the
supreme God, the Al-fader; Thor was the first-begotten son of this
god, and Frey was the bestower of fertility, peace and riches. King
Gylfi of Sweden is supposed to have gone at one time to Asgard (the
abode of the gods), where he beheld three thrones raised one above
another, with a man sitting on each of them. Upon his asking what the
names of these lords might be, his guide answered: "He who sitteth on
the lowest throne is the Lofty One; the second is the equal to the
Lofty One; and he who sitteth on the highest throne is called the
The ancient Druids also worshiped: "Ain Treidhe Dia ainm Taulac, Fan,
Mollac;" which is to say: "Ain triple God, of name Taulac, Fan,
The ancient inhabitants of Siberia worshiped a triune God. In remote
ages, wanderers from India directed their eyes northward, and crossing
the vast Tartarian deserts, finally settled in Siberia, bringing with
them the worship of a triune God. This is clearly shown from the fact
stated by Thomas Maurice, that:
"The first Christian missionaries who arrived in those
regions, found the people already in possession of that
fundamental doctrine of the true religion, which, among
others, they came to impress upon their minds, and universally
adored an idol fabricated to resemble, as near as possible, a
Trinity in Unity."
This triune God consisted of, first "the Creator of all things," second,
"the God of Armies," third, "the Spirit of Heavenly Love," and yet these
three were but one indivisible God.[377:5]
The Tartars also worshiped God as a Trinity in Unity. On one of their
medals, which is now in the St. Petersburgh Museum, may be seen a
representation of the triple God seated on the lotus.[378:1]
Even in the remote islands of the Pacific Ocean, the supreme deities are
God the Father, God the Son, and God the Spirit, the latter of which is
symbolized as a bird.[378:2]
The ancient Mexicans and Peruvians had their Trinity. The supreme
God of the Mexicans (Tezcatlipoca), who had, as Lord Kingsborough
says, "all the attributes and powers which were assigned to Jehovah by
the Hebrews," had associated with him two other gods, Huitzlipochtli
and Tlaloc; one occupied a place upon his left hand, the other on his
right. This was the Trinity of the Mexicans.[378:3]
When the bishop Don Bartholomew de las Casas proceeded to his bishopric,
which was in 1545, he commissioned an ecclesiastic, whose name was
Francis Hernandez, who was well acquainted with the language of the
Indians (as the natives were called), to visit them, carrying with him a
sort of catechism of what he was about to preach. In about one year from
the time that Francis Hernandez was sent out, he wrote to Bishop las
Casas, stating that:
"The Indians believed in the God who was in heaven; that this
God was the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and that the Father
was named Yzona, the Son Bacab, who was born of a Virgin,
and that the Holy Ghost was called Echiah."[378:4]
The Rev. Father Acosta says, in speaking of the Peruvians:
"It is strange that the devil after his manner hath brought a
Trinity into idolatry, for the three images of the Sun called
Apomti, Churunti, and Intiquaoqui, signifieth Father and
Lord Sun, the Son Sun, and the Brother Sun.
"Being in Chuquisaca, an honorable priest showed me an
information, which I had long in my hands, where it was proved
that there was a certain oratory, whereat the Indians did
worship an idol called Tangatanga, which they said was 'One
in Three, and Three in One.' And as this priest stood amazed
thereat, I said that the devil by his internal and obstinate
pride (whereby he always pretends to make himself God) did
steal all that he could from the truth, to employ it in his
lying and deceits."[378:5]
The doctrine was recognized among the Indians of the Californian
peninsula. The statue of the principal deity of the New Granadian
Indians had "three heads on one body," and was understood to be "three
persons with one heart and one will."[378:6]
The result of our investigations then, is that, for ages before the
time of Christ Jesus or Christianity, God was worshiped in the form of a
TRIAD, and that this doctrine was extensively diffused through all
nations. That it was established in regions as far distant as China and
Mexico, and immemorially acknowledged through the whole extent of Egypt
and India. That it flourished with equal vigor among the snowy mountains
of Thibet, and the vast deserts of Siberia. That the barbarians of
central Europe, the Scandinavians, and the Druids of Britain and
Ireland, bent their knee to an idol of a Triune God. What then becomes
of "the Ever-Blessed Trinity" of Christianity? It must fall, together
with all the rest of its dogmas, and be buried with the Pagan debris.
The learned Thomas Maurice imagined that this mysterious doctrine must
have been revealed by God to Adam, or to Noah, or to Abraham, or to
somebody else. Notice with what caution he wrote (A. D. 1794) on this
subject. He says:
"In the course of the wide range which I have been compelled
to take in the field of Asiatic mythology, certain topics have
arisen for discussion, equally delicate and perplexing.
Among them, in particular, a species of Trinity forms a
constant and prominent feature in nearly all the systems of
After saying, "I venture with a trembling step," and that, "It was not
from choice, but from necessity, that I entered thus upon this
subject," he concludes:
"This extensive and interesting subject engrosses a
considerable portion of this work, and my anxiety to prepare
the public mind to receive it, my efforts to elucidate so
mysterious a point of theology, induces me to remind the
candid reader, that visible traces of this doctrine are
discovered, not only in the three principals of the Chaldaic
theology; in the Triplasios Mithra of Persia; in the
Triad, Brahma, Vishnu, and Siva, of India--where it was
evidently promulgated in the Geeta, fifteen hundred years
before the birth of Plato;[379:1] but in the Numen Triplex of
Japan; in the inscription upon the famous medal found in the
deserts of Siberia, "To the Triune God," to be seen at this
day in the valuable cabinet of the Empress, at St.
Petersburgh; in the Tanga-Tanga, or Three in One, of the South
Americans; and, finally, without mentioning the vestiges of it
in Greece, in the Symbol of the Wing, the Globe, and the
Serpent, conspicuous on most of the ancient temples of Upper
It was a long time after the followers of Christ Jesus had made him a
God, before they ventured to declare that he was "God himself in human
form," and, "the second person in the Ever-Blessed Trinity." It was
Justin Martyr, a Christian convert from the Platonic school,[380:1]
who, about the middle of the second century, first promulgated the
opinion, that Jesus of Nazareth, the "Son of God," was the second
principle in the Deity, and the Creator of all material things. He is
the earliest writer to whom the opinion can be traced. This knowledge,
he does not ascribe to the Scriptures, but to the special favor of
The passage in I. John, v. 7, which reads thus: "For there are three
that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost,
and these three are one," is one of the numerous interpolations which
were inserted into the books of the New Testament, many years after
these books were written.[380:3] These passages are retained and
circulated as the word of God, or as of equal authority with the rest,
though known and admitted by the learned on all hands, to be forgeries,
willful and wicked interpolations.
The subtle and profound questions concerning the nature, generation, the
distinction, and the quality of the three divine persons of the
mysterious triad, or Trinity, were agitated in the philosophical and in
the Christian schools of Alexandria in Egypt,[380:4] but it was not a
part of the established Christian faith until as late as A. D. 327, when
the question was settled at the Councils of Nice and Constantinople. Up
to this time there was no understood and recognized doctrine on this
high subject. The Christians were for the most part accustomed to use
scriptural expressions in speaking of the Father, and the Son, and the
Spirit, without defining articulately their relation to one
In these trinitarian controversies, which first broke out in
Egypt--Egypt, the land of Trinities--the chief point in the discussion
was to define the position of "the Son."
There lived in Alexandria a presbyter of the name of Arius, a
disappointed candidate for the office of bishop. He took the ground
that there was a time when, from the very nature of Sonship, the Son
did not exist, and a time at which he commenced to be, asserting that it
is the necessary condition of the filial relation that a father must be
older than his son. But this assertion evidently denied the
co-eternity of the three persons of the Trinity, it suggested a
subordination or inequality among them, and indeed implied a time
when the Trinity did not exist. Hereupon, the bishop, who had been the
successful competitor against Arius, displayed his rhetorical powers in
public debates on the question, and, the strife spreading, the Jews and
Pagans, who formed a very large portion of the population of Alexandria,
amused themselves with theatrical representations of the contest on the
stage--the point of their burlesques being the equality of age of the
Father and the Son. Such was the violence the controversy at length
assumed, that the matter had to be referred to the emperor
At first he looked upon the dispute as altogether frivolous, and perhaps
in truth inclined to the assertion of Arius, that in the very nature of
the thing a father must be older than his son. So great, however, was
the pressure laid upon him, that he was eventually compelled to summon
the Council of Nicea, which, to dispose of the conflict, set forth a
formulary or creed, and attached to it this anathema:
"The Holy Catholic and Apostolic Church anathematizes those
who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, and
that, before he was begotten, he was not, and that, he was
made out of nothing, or out of another substance or essence,
and is created, or changeable, or alterable."
Constantine at once enforced the decision of the council by the civil
Even after this "subtle and profound question" had been settled at the
Council of Nice, those who settled it did not understand the question
they had settled. Athanasius, who was a member of the first general
council, and who is said to have written the creed which bears his
name, which asserts that the true Catholic faith is this:
"That we worship One God as Trinity, and Trinity in
Unity--neither confounding the persons nor dividing the
substance--for there is one person of the Father, another of
the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost, but the Godhead of the
Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one,
the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal,"
--also confessed that whenever he forced his understanding to meditate
on the divinity of the Logos, his toilsome and unavailing efforts
recoiled on themselves; that the more he thought the less he
comprehended; and the more he wrote the less capable was he of
expressing his thoughts.[382:1]
We see, then, that this great question was settled, not by the consent
of all members of the council, but simply because the majority were in
favor of it. Jesus of Nazareth was "God himself in human form;" "one of
the persons of the Ever-Blessed Trinity," who "had no beginning, and
will have no end," because the majority of the members of this council
said so. Hereafter--so it was decreed--all must believe it; if not,
they must not oppose it, but forever hold their peace.
The Emperor Theodosius declared his resolution of expelling from all the
churches of his dominions, the bishops and their clergy who should
obstinately refuse to believe, or at least to profess, the doctrine of
the Council of Nice. His lieutenant, Sapor, was armed with the ample
powers of a general law, a special commission, and a military force;
and this ecclesiastical resolution was conducted with so much
discretion and vigor, that the religion of the Emperor was
Here we have the historical fact, that bishops of the Christian church,
and their clergy, were forced to profess their belief in the doctrine
of the Trinity.
We also find that:
"This orthodox Emperor (Theodosius) considered every heretic
(as he called those who did not believe as he and his
ecclesiastics professed) as a rebel against the supreme powers
of heaven and of earth (he being one of the supreme powers of
earth) and each of the powers might exercise their peculiar
jurisdiction over the soul and body of the guilty.
"The decrees of the Council of Constantinople had ascertained
the true standard of the faith, and the ecclesiastics, who
governed the conscience of Theodosius, suggested the most
effectual methods of persecution. In the space of fifteen
years he promulgated at least fifteen severe edicts against
the heretics, more especially against those who rejected the
doctrine of the Trinity."[382:3]
Thus we see one of the many reasons why the "most holy Christian
religion" spread so rapidly.
Arius--who declared that in the nature of things a father must be older
than his son--was excommunicated for his so-called heretical notions
concerning the Trinity. His followers, who were very numerous, were
called Arians. Their writings, if they had been permitted to
exist,[383:1] would undoubtedly contain the lamentable story of the
persecution which affected the church under the reign of the impious
[368:1] The celebrated passage (I. John, v. 7) "For there are three that
bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and
these three are one," is now admitted on all hands to be an
interpolation into the epistle many centuries after the time of Christ
Jesus. (See Giles' Hebrew and Christian Records, vol. ii. p. 12.
Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii. p. 556. Inman's Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p.
886. Taylor's Diegesis and Reber's Christ of Paul.)
[368:2] That is, the true faith.
[368:3] Dogma Deity Jesus Christ, p. 95.
[369:1] "The notion of a Triad of Supreme Powers is indeed common to
most ancient religions." (Prichard's Egyptian Mytho., p. 285.)
"Nearly all the Pagan nations of antiquity, in their various theological
systems, acknowledged a trinity in the divine nature." (Maurice: Indian
Antiquities, vol. vi. p. 35.)
"The ancients imagined that their triad of gods or persons, only
constituted one god." (Celtic Druids, p. 197.)
[369:2] The three attributes called Brahma, Vishnu and Siva, are
indicated by letters corresponding to our A. U. M., generally pronounced
OM. This mystic word is never uttered except in prayer, and the sign
which represents it in their temples is an object of profound adoration.
[369:3] Monier Williams' Indian Wisdom, p. 324.
[369:4] That is, the Lord and Saviour Crishna. The Supreme Spirit, in
order to preserve the world, produced Vishnu. Vishnu came upon earth for
this purpose, in the form of Crishna. He was believed to be an
incarnation of the Supreme Being, one of the persons of their holy and
mysterious trinity, to use their language, "The Lord and Savior--three
persons and one god." In the Geita, Crishna is made to say: "I am the
Lord of all created beings." "I am the mystic figure O. M." "I am
Brahma Vishnu, and Siva, three gods in one."
[369:5] See The Heathen Religion, p. 124.
[370:1] Allen's India, pp. 382, 383.
[370:2] Asiatic Researches, vol. i. p. 272.
[371:1] Indian Antiquities, vol. iv. p. 372.
[371:2] Taken from Moore's "Hindoo Pantheon," plate 81.
[371:3] Asiatic Researches, vol. iii. pp. 285, 286. See also, King's
[372:1] Davis' China, vol. ii. p. 104.
[372:2] Ibid. pp. 103 and 81.
[372:3] Ibid. pp. 105, 106.
[372:4] Ibid. pp. 103, 81.
[372:5] Ibid. 110, 111. Bell's Pantheon, vol. ii. p. 36. Dunlap's Spirit
[372:6] Indian Antiquities, vol. v. p. 41. Dupuis, p. 285. Dunlap's
Spirit Hist., 150.
[372:7] Indian Antiquities, vol. v. p. 41.
This Taou sect, according to John Francis Davis, and the Rev. Charles
Gutzlaff, both of whom have resided in China--call their trinity "the
three pure ones," or "the three precious ones in heaven." (See Davis'
China, vol. ii. p. 110, and Gutzlaff's Voyages, p. 307.)
[372:8] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 210.
[373:1] Indian Antiquities, vol. i. p. 127.
[373:2] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 14.
The following answer is stated by Manetho, an Egyptian priest, to have
been given by an Oracle to Sesostris: "On his return through Africa he
entered the sanctuary of the Oracle, saying: 'Tell me, O thou strong in
fire, who before me could subjugate all things? and who shall after me?'
But the Oracle rebuked him, saying, 'First, God; then the Word; and
with them, the Spirit.'" (Nimrod, vol. i. p. 119, in Ibid. vol. i. p.
Here we have distinctly enumerated God, the Logos, and the Spirit or
Holy Ghost, in a very early period, long previous to the Christian era.
[373:3] I. John, v. 7. John, i. 1.
[373:4] The Alexandrian theology, of which the celebrated Plato was
the chief representative, taught that the Logos was "the second
God;" a being of divine essence, but distinguished from the Supreme
God. It is also called "the first-born Son of God."
"The Platonists furnished brilliant recruits to the Christian churches
of Asia Minor and Greece, and brought with them their love for system
and their idealism." "It is in the Platonizing or Alexandrian, branch of
Judaism that we must seek for the antecedents of the Christian doctrine
of the Logos." (A. Reville: Dogma Deity Jesus, p. 29.)
[373:5] Higgins: Anacalypsis, vol. ii. p. 102. Mithras, the Mediator,
and Saviour of the Persians, was called the Logos. (See Dunlap's Son
of the Man, p. 20. Bunsen's Angel-Messiah, p. 75.) Hermes was called
the Logos. (See Dunlap's Son of the Man, p. 39, marginal note.)
[373:6] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 402.
[374:1] Bonwick's Egyptian Belief, p. 404.
[374:4] Ibid. p. 28.
[374:5] Frothingham's Cradle of the Christ, p. 112.
[374:6] See Prog. Relig. Ideas, vol. i. p. 307.
[374:7] Orpheus is said to have been a native of Thracia, the oldest
poet of Greece, and to have written before the time of Homer; but he is
evidently a mythological character.
[375:1] See Indian Antiquities, vol. iv. p. 332, and Taylor's Diegesis,
[375:2] See Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Orpheus."
[375:3] Ibid., art. "Plato."
[375:4] John, i. 1.
[375:5] The first that we know of this gospel for certain is during the
time of Irenaeus, the great Christian forger.
[375:6] See Taylor's Diegesis, p. 185.
[375:7] Apol. 1. ch. xx.-xxii.
[376:1] See Fiske: Myths and Myth-makers, p. 205. Celsus charges the
Christians with a recoinage of the misunderstood doctrine of the
[376:2] See Higgins' Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 105.
[376:3] See Indian Antiquities, vol. iii. p. 158.
[376:4] See Indian Antiquities, vol. vi. p. 346. Monumental
Christianity, p. 65, and Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 819.
[376:6] Indian Antiquities, vol. iv. p. 259.
[376:7] See Monumental Christianity, p. 65, and Ancient Faiths, vol. ii.
[376:8] Monumental Christianity, p. 923. See also, Maurice's Indian
[376:9] Idra Suta, Sohar, iii. 288. B. Franck, 138. Son of the Man, p.
[376:10] Vandals--a race of European barbarians, either of Germanic or
[377:1] Parkhurst: Hebrew Lexicon, Quoted in Taylor's Diegesis, p. 216.
[377:2] See Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 169. Maurice: Indian
Antiq., vol. v. p. 14, and Gross: The Heathen Religion, p. 210.
[377:3] See Mallet's Northern Antiquities.
[377:4] Celtic Druids, p. 171; Anacalypsis, vol. i. p. 123; and Myths of
the British Druids, p. 448.
[377:5] Indian Antiquities, vol. v. pp. 8, 9.
[378:1] Isis Unveiled, vol. ii. p. 48.
[378:2] Knight: Anct. Art and Mytho., p. 169.
[378:3] Squire: Serpent Symbol, pp. 179, 180. Mexican Ant., vol. vi. p.
[378:4] Kingsborough: Mexican Antiquities, vol. vi. p. 164.
[378:5] Acosta: Hist. Indies, vol. ii. p. 373. See also, Indian Antiq.,
vol. v. p. 26, and Squire's Serpent Symbol, p. 181.
[378:6] Squire: Serpent Symbol, p. 181.
[379:1] The ideas entertained concerning the antiquity of the Geeta, at
the time Mr. Maurice wrote his Indian Antiquities, were erroneous. This
work, as we have elsewhere seen, is not as old as he supposed. The
doctrine of the Trimurti in India, however, is to be found in the
Veda, and epic poems, which are of an antiquity long anterior to the
rise of Christianity, preceding it by many centuries. (See Monier
Williams' Indian Wisdom, p. 324, and Hinduism, pp. 109, 110-115.)
"The grand cavern pagoda of Elephants, the oldest and most magnificent
temple in the world, is neither more nor less than a superb temple of a
Triune God." (Maurice: Indian Antiquities, vol. iii. p. ix.)
[379:2] Indian Antiquities, vol. i. pp. 125-127.
[380:1] We have already seen that Plato and his followers taught the
doctrine of the Trinity centuries before the time of Christ Jesus.
[380:2] Israel Worsley's Enquiry, p. 54. Quoted in Higgins' Anacalypsis,
vol. i. p. 116.
[380:3] "The memorable test (I. John v. 7) which asserts the unity of
the three which bear witness in heaven, is condemned by the universal
silence of the orthodox Fathers, ancient versions, and authentic
manuscripts. It was first alleged by the Catholic Bishop whom Hunneric
summoned to the Conference of Carthage (A. D. 254), or, more properly,
by the four bishops who composed and published the profession of faith,
in the name of their brethren." (Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii. p. 556, and
note 117.) None of the ancient manuscripts now extant, above four-score
in number, contain this passage. (Ibid. note 116.) In the eleventh and
twelfth centuries, the Bible was corrected. Yet, notwithstanding these
corrections, the passage is still wanting in twenty-five Latin
manuscripts. (Ibid. note 116. See also Dr. Giles' Hebrew and Christian
Records, vol. ii. p. 12. Dr. Inman's Ancient Faiths, vol. ii. p. 886.
Rev. Robert Taylor's Diegesis, p. 421, and Reber's Christ of Paul.)
[380:4] See Gibbon's Rome, ii. 309.
[380:5] Chambers's Encyclo., art. "Trinity."
[381:1] Draper: Religion and Science, pp. 53, 54.
[382:1] Athanasius, tom. i. p. 808. Quoted in Gibbon's Rome, vol. ii. p.
Gennadius, Patriarch of Constantinople, was so much amazed by the
extraordinary composition called "Athanasius' Creed," that he frankly
pronounced it to be the work of a drunken man. (Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii.
p. 555, note 114.)
[382:2] Gibbon's Rome, vol. iii. p. 87.
[382:3] Ibid. pp. 91, 92.
[383:1] All their writings were ordered to be destroyed, and any one
found to have them in his possession was severely punished.
Next: Paganism In Christianity
Previous: The Birth-day Of Christ Jesus