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JQA Diary, volume 48 11 March 1838


Neal Millikan Religion

11. VI:45. Sunday

Vernal— Heard this Morning at the Presbyterian Church, Mr Fowler, from Philippians 1.21. “For to me, to live, is Christ”—a figurative expression of great energy, and as the preacher remarked, altogether characteristic of St. Paul— In the afternoon I attended at St. John’s Church. Mr Hawley read prayers for the second Sunday in lent and Mr Higbee, preached from 2. Corinthians 13. and 14.— “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.[”] a Sermon upon the Trinity— Dogmatical and Pragmatical— It reminded me of what the Irish Jacobin Clergyman Beresford, said to me at St. Petersburg— I told him I had been reading an admirable Sermon of Massillon, upon the divinity of Christ— Ah! said he—well—I think I will look it up, and preach it next Trinity Sunday— Mr. Higbee spoke rather scornfully of persons who affect to draw distinctions between theoretical and practical philosophy or Science— He said that all practical action in religion must be founded upon doctrine, which may be true—but the converse may be questionable, whether all doctrine 827must necessarily be followed by practice— He did not very conclusively shew, to what practical result the doctrine of the Trinity is essential; nor was his doctrine very logically deducible from his text, which very emphatically distinguishes between God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, on one hand, and the Holy Ghost on the other— There are to be sure three persons distinguishable in the text, and one of them is God—but there is not the shadow of an intimation, that either the Lord Jesus Christ, or the Holy Ghost is identical with God— The irresistible implication is the reverse— The blessing invoked by the Apostle upon his Corinthian disciples is three-fold— The grace or favour of the Lord Jesus Christ—the Love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost— Now the favour of Jesus Christ as Mediator between God and Man is one thing—the Love of God is another—the communion of the Holy Spirit is a third—but if Jesus Christ is God, what is the difference between his grace, and his love—and if the Holy Ghost be God, what is the difference between his communion and his love— Mr Higbee drove rough shod through all this, but his whole Sermon was didactic and not argumentative—breathing the Spirit of the Athanasian creed, and dealing damnation round every stubborn unbeliever. The church was unusually chiefly with women, filled, for an afternoon service, and Mr Higbee’s positive and domineering tone, was apparently very acceptable to the auditory— Such is generally the Trinitarian temper, but it is not the temper of the meek and lowly Jesus— I have tried very hard, and very sincerely to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, because there are passages in the New Testament which I cannot deny give countenance to it—but when a dogmatist gives me a text which to my naked reason furnishes an argument against it which I find it difficult to answer, and then threatens me with eternal damnation for not believing him—incredulus odi—my spirit revolts against the yoke, and loses much of its reverence for him who would impose it.