The Trinity





"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

co-eternal."



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

form.[369:2]



"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

One."[370:1]



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

Trinity."[370:2]



Thomas Maurice, in his "Indian Antiquities," describes a magnificent

piece of Indian sculpture, of exquisite workmanship, and of stupendous

antiquity, namely:



"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

triune deity."[371:1]



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

incarnate."



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

called Amora:



"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

forms."[372:2]



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

three persons.[372:3]



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

persons."



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

of India.



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

all."[372:8]



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

nature.



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

Word.[373:5]



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

mysterious principle."[373:6]



"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

religious ceremonies.[374:6]



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

of Orpheus.[375:2]



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

the Spirit."[376:2]



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

Third."[377:3]



The ancient Druids also worshiped: "Ain Treidhe Dia ainm Taulac, Fan,

Mollac;" which is to say: "Ain triple God, of name Taulac, Fan,

Mollac."[377:4]



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

Oriental theology."



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

Egypt."[379:2]



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

God.[380:2]



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

another.[380:5]



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

(Constantine).



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

power.[381:1]



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

established.[382:2]



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

Emperor Theodosius.





FOOTNOTES:



[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

Gnostics, 167.



[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

Hist., 150.



[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.



[372:9] Ibid.



[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.

805.)



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.



[374:2] Ibid.



[374:3] Ibid.



[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,

p. 189.



[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

Logos.



[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.



[376:5] Ibid.



[376:6] Indian Antiquities, vol. iv. p. 259.



[376:7] See Monumental Christianity, p. 65, and Ancient Faiths, vol. ii.

p. 819.



[376:8] Monumental Christianity, p. 923. See also, Maurice's Indian

Antiquities.



[376:9] Idra Suta, Sohar, iii. 288. B. Franck, 138. Son of the Man, p.

78.



[376:10] Vandals--a race of European barbarians, either of Germanic or

Slavonic origin.



[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.

164.



[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.

310.



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.





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