The Trinity -- By: H. B. Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 003:12 (Nov 1846)
Article: The Trinity
Author: H. B. Smith


The Trinity

Rev. H. B. Smith

Introductory Note

[There are several reasons which might be urged, for presenting in the pages of this Review such a discussion of the doctrine of the Trinity as is contained in this article. In the first place, the article is of interest in connection with the present condition of German theology. Since the times when a negative Rationalism prevailed in that country, it is the first elaborate attempt to uphold this doctrine in its orthodox form. These lectures of Dr. Twesten awakened a new interest in this subject among the Germans; and in the more recent discussions, they are uniformly referred to with respect, and as an authority. In the second place, it is of value for the historical materials with which it is filled. While it does not profess to contain a history of the doctrine, it shows on every page the thorough study which the author has bestowed upon the works of the ablest theologians. The subsequent sections are especially valuable, as exhibiting the force and pertinency of many of the distinctions of the Scholastics. No treatise by English or American theologians with which we are acquainted, contains so much of valuable material from like sources. It might be urged, again, that every thorough and fair-minded disquisition upon a doctrine of so much importance, should be received with candor, and may be read with profit, because it may disclose some new aspects and relations of an inexhaustible truth. No doctrine presents itself to every mind in the same relations; and the more important the doctrine, and the more thorough the study of it, the greater variety will there be in the modes of its application and illustration. The more we love a doctrine, the more shall we think about it: and the more we think about it, the more shall we see its connection with other truths; and every one who reverences and loves and thinks about the truth, may aid us in our own studies, even though we do not think all his speculations sound. In the fourth place, in respect to this particular doctrine, it is well known, that the most ortho-

dox divines, while assenting to the fundamental formula, have differed in the way in which they have explained and defended it; and this fact should keep us from arguing that an exposition which is new to us, is therefore an unwarrantable speculation and a hazardous tampering with the faith. The doctrine is contained in the Bible, and it rests upon the authority of the Bible; and this is what Dr. Twesten maintains. But the formula is not in the Bible; and the business of the theologian who embraces this formula is, to show that it best expresses the true sense of the Scriptures, and to defend it against philosophical and other objections. We who hold the same formula, may p...

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