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But he considered as as men, reasonable creatures; and left for that unapt application of a* son and a grandson that when he tells us there are three existing in his being, deriving themselves from the grandfather, or two brothers of each of which some things are said that must not be from one father. understood spoken of the other, and yet that there is but And although it be also true, and readily acknowledged, one God: we are not incapable of understanding, that that there are numerous instances of involuntary producthese three must agree in Godhead; and yet that they must tions among the creatures, and which are therefore to be be sufficiently distinct, unto this purpose, that we may deemed a sort of natural and necessary productions; yet distinctly conceive of, apply ourselves to, and expect from, that necessity not being absolute, but ez hypothesi only, the one and the other of them. And the frame of our i. e. upon supposition of their productive causes, and all religion is therefore ordered for us accordingly, i. e. for us things requisite to those productions, being so, and so, to whom he hath revealed so much. Others, to whom aptly posited in order thereto, all which depended upon such notices are not given, he expects should deport them one sovereign will at first, so that all might have been selves towards him, according to the light which they have, otherwise, this signifies nothing to exempt them out of not which they have not.
the state and rank of creatures, or invalidate this most XVII. But an hypothesis in this affair, which leaves unalterable distinction between created being and unout the very nexus, that natural, eternal union, or leaves created. it out of its proper place, and insists upon mutual consciouis XIX. Bat if here it shall be urged to me that one indiMESS, which, at the most, is but a consequence thereof, wants vidual, necessarily existent, spiritual Being alone is God, the principal thing requisite to the salving the unity of the and is all that is signified by the name of God; and thereGodhead." If two or three created spirits had never so fore that three distinct individual, necessarily existent, perfect a mutual perspection of one another, that would spiritual Beings must unavoidably be three distinct Gods: not constitute them one thing, though it probably argue I would say, if by one individual, necessarily existent, them to be so; and but probably; for God might, no spiritual Being, you mean one such Being, comprehending doubt
, give them a mutual insight into one another, with Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, taken together, I grant it. out making them one; but if he should create them in as But if by one individual, necessarily existent, spiritual pear a union, as our soul and body are in with one another, Being, you mean either the Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, (and it is very apprehensible they might be created in a taken sejunctly, I deny it; for both the other are traly much nearer and more permanent one, both being of the signified by the name of God too, as well as that one. same nature, and neither subject to decay,) they would as 1 therefore say, the term individual must in this case truly admit to be called one something, (as such a creature now supposed (as possible, not as certain) admit of a twomight well enough be called, till a fitter name were found fold application ; either to the distinct essence of the Father, out,) notwithstanding their supposed continuing distinc- or of the Son, or of the Holy Ghost; or to the entire tion, as our soul and body united, are, notwithstanding essence of the Godhead, in which these three do concur. their continuing distinction, called one man, And I do Each of these conceived by itself are (according to this sincerely profess such a union, with perpetual distinction, supposition) individual essences; but conceived together, seems to me every whit as conceivable, being supposed they are the entire individual essence of God. For there unmade, uncreated, and eternal, as any union is among is but one such essence, and no more ; and it can never be creatures, that must therefore be a made thing, or a tem- multiplied, nor divided into more of the same name and poral production.
nature: as the body and soul of a man, are one individual And whereas necessity of existence (most unquestiona- body, and one individual soul, but both together are but bly of an intellectual being) is a most certain and funda- one individual man : and the case would be the same, if mental attribute of Deity; the Father, Son, and Spirit being a man did consist of two or three spirits so (or more nearly, supposed necessarily existent, in this united state, they can- united together, as his soul and body are. Especially if noi but be God; and the Godhead by reason of this neces- you should suppose, which is the supposition of no impossary union cannot but be one; yet so, as that when you sible or unconceivable thing, that these three spirits which predicate Godhead, or the name of God, of any one of them, together, as we now do suppose, do constitute a man, were you herein express a true but an inadequate conception of created with an aptitude to this united co-existence, but God: i. e. the Father is God, not excluding the Son and with an impossibility of existing separately, except to the Holy Ghost; the Son is God, not excluding the Father Divine power which created them conjunct, and might and the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost is God, not exclud- separate them so as to make them exist apart: which yet ing the Father and the Son. Thus our body is the man, cannot be the case in respect of three such uncreated spinot excluding the soul; our soul is the man, not excluding ritual Beings, whose union is supposed to be by natural, the body. Therefore their union in Godhead being so strict eternal necessity, as their essences are; and are therefore and close, notwithstanding their distinction, to say that any most absolutely inseparable. one of them is God, in exclusion of the other two, would XX. Or if it should be said, I make the notion of God Dot be a true predication. 'Tis indeed said,à the Father to comprehend Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and a Godis the only true God; but that neither excludes the Son head besides common to these three: nor the Holy Ghost from being the true God also; each of I answer; nothing I have said or supposed, implies any them communicating in that Godhead which only is true. such thing; or that the notion of God imports any thing It had been quite another thing, if it had been said, Thou, more of real being, than is contained in Father, Son, and Father, only, art the true God.
Holy Ghost, taken together, and most intimately, naturally, XVIII. The order, moreover, is this way also very clearly and vitally, by eternal necessity, united with one another. preserved and filly complied with, of priority and posteri- As in a created being, consisting of more things than one, ority, (not of time, as every one sees, but nature,)
which the taken together and united, a man for instance, there is names Father, Son, and Spirit, do more than intimate. nothing more of real entity, besides what is contained in For the Father (usually called by the divines Fons trini- his body and his soul united and taken together. 'Tis true talis) being by this appellation plainly signified to be first that this term, a man, speaks somewhat very diverse from in this sacred triad; the Son, as that title imports, to be of a human body taken alone, or a human soul taken alone, the Father; and the Spirit to be of, or from, both the or from both, separately taken; but nothing diverse from other: let these two latter be considered as being of or both united, and taken together. And for what this may from the first, not by any intervening act of will, by which be unjustly collected to imply of composition, repugnant to it might have been possible they should not have been so; Divine perfection, it is before obviated. Sect. 13. but by natural, necessary, eternal promanation ; so as If therefore it be asked, "What do we conceive under that necessity of existence is hereby made as truly to agree the notion of God, but a necessary, spiritual Being ?" 1 to them as to the first, which is acknowledged the most answer, that this is a true notion of God, and may be passfundamental attribute of Deity. This promanation is able enough, among pagans, for a full one. But we Chrishereby sufficiently distinguished from creation; and these tians are taught to conceive under
the notion of God, a two set infinitely above all creatures, or the whole uni- necessary, spiritual Being, in which Father, Son, and Spirit verse of created beings. Nor is there hereby any place do so necessarily co-exist, as to constitute that Being; and d Johd xvi. 3.
e P. 138. of these considerations.
that when we conceive any one of them to be God, that is covet besides; who, saith he, is so made of iron, as to but an inadeguate, pot an entire and full, conception of the endure that kind of life?" And he introduces Architas Godhead, Nur will any place remain for that trivial cavil, Tarentinus reported to speak to this purpose, -" that if that if each of these have Godhead in him, he therefore one could ascend into heaven, behold the frame of the hath a trinity in him; but that he is one of the three who world, and the beauty of every star, his admiration would together are the One God, by necessary, natural, eternal be unpleasant to him alone; which would be most deliunion.
cious, if he had some one to whom to express his sense of Which union is also quite of another kind than that of the whole." three men (as for instance, of Peter, James, and John) par We are not, I say, strictly to measure God by ourselves taking in the same kind of nature; who, notwithstanding, in this, further than as he himself prompts and leads us. exist separately, and apart from each other. These three But if we so form our conception of Divine bliss, as not are supposed to co-exist in natural, necessary, eternal, and to exclude from it somewhat, whereof that delight in so most intimate union, so as to be one Divine Being. ciety which we find in ourselves may be an imperfect
Nor is it any prejudice against our thus stating the no- faint resemblance; it seems not altogether disagreeable to tion of the Godhead, that we know of no such union in all what the Scriptures also teach us to conceive concerning the creation, that may assist our conception of this union. him, when they bring in the eternal Wisdom, saying, as What incongruity is there in supposing, in this respect, as one distinct from the prime Author and Parent of all well as in many others, somewhat most peculiarly appro- things, Then was I by him, as one brought up with him, priate to the being of God ? If there be no such actual and daily his delight. union in the creation, 'tis enough to our purpose, if such a XXIIÍ. However, let the whole of what hath been one were possible to have been. And we do know of the hitherto proposed be taken together, and to me, it appears actual union of two things of very different natures so as our conception of the sacred trinunity will be so remote to be one thing, and have no reason to think the union of from any shadow of inconsistency or repugnancy, that no two or more things of the same sort of nature, with suf- necessity can remain upon us of torturing wit, and rackficient remaining distinction, less possible or less intel- ing invention to the uttermost, to do a laboured and artifiligible.
cial violence (by I know not what screws and engines) to XXI. Upon the whole, let such a union be conceived so numerous plain texts of Scripture, only to undeify our in the being of God, with such distinction, and one would glorious Redeemer, and do the utmost despite to the Spirit think (though the complexions of men's minds do strangely of grace. We may be content to let the word of God (or and unaccountably differ) the absolute perfection of the what we pretend to own for a Divine revelation) stand as Deity, and especially the perfect felicity thereof, should be it is, and undistorted speak its own sense. And when much the more apprehensible with us. When we consider we find the Former of things speaking as We or Us, the most delicious society which would hence ensue, among when we find another h 1, possessed by the Lord, in the the so entirely consentient Father, Son, and Spirit, with beginning of his way, before his works of old; so as that whom there is so perfect rectitude, everlasting harmony, he says of himself (as distinct from the other) I was set mutual complacency, unto highest delectation; according up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth to our way of conceiving things, who are taught by our was—and, When he prepared the heavens I was there, &c. own nature (which also hath in it the Divine image) to When we find i the Child born for us, the Son given to us, reckon no enjoyment pleasant, without the consociation of called also the mighty God, and (as in reference to us he some other with us therein; we for our parts cannot but fitly might) the everlasting Father. When we are told of hereby have in onr minds a more gustful idea of a blessed the Ruler that was to come out of Bethlehem-Ephrata, state, than we can conceive in mere eternal solitude. that his goings forth were from everlasting: thai, The
God speaks to us as men, and will not blame us for con- Word was in the beginning with God, and was God that ceiving things, so infinitely above us, according to the all things were made by him, and without him nothing was capacity of our natures; provided we do not assume to made that was made-that this Word was made fleshourselves to be a measure for our conceptions of him, that his glory was beheld as the glory of the only-begotten further than as he is himself pleased to warrant, and direct Son of the Father, full of grace and truth; even that us herein. Some likeness we may (taught by himself) same he that above was said to have been in the beginning apprehend between him and us, but with infinite (not in- with God, and to be God:--that when he who was said » equality only, but) unlikeness. And for this case of de- to have come down from heaven, was, even while he was lectation in society, we must suppose an immense difference on earth, at that time, said to be in heaven that we are between him, an all-sufficient, self-sufficient Being, com- told by himself, he and his Father are one thing :-that prehending in himself the infinite fulness of whatsoever is he is not only said to know the heart, but to know all most excellent and delectable, and ourselves, who have in things :—that even he who P according to the flesh came of us but a very minute portion of being, goodness, or felicity, the Israelites, is yet expressly said to be over all, God and whom he hath made to stand much in need of one blessed for ever:- that when he was in the form of God, another, and most of all of him.
he humbled himself to the taking on him the form of a But when, looking into ourselves, we find there is in us servant, and to be found in fashion as a man:-that 'tis a disposition, often upon no necessity, but sometimes from said," all things were created by him, that are in heaven, some sort of benignity of temper, unto conversation with and on earth, visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, others; we have no reason, when other things concur, and principalities, powers,-and that all things were created do fairly induce, and lead our thoughts this way, tó ap- by him, and for him; than which nothing could have been prehend any incongruity in supposing he may have some said more peculiar or appropriate to Deity that even of distinct object of the same sort of propension in his own the Son of God it is said, he is the true God and eternal must perfect being too, and therewith such a propension life:—that we are so plainly told, he ise Alpha and Omega, itself also.
the first and the last, u he that was, and is, and is to come, XXII. As to what concerns ourselves, the observation the Lord Almighty, the beginning of the creation of God: is not altogether unapposite, what Cicero, treating of friend- the searcher of hearts :-that the Spirit of God is said to ship, discourses of perpetual solitude, “that the affectation search all things, even the deep things of God:—that lying of it must signify the worst of ill humour, and the most to him is said 2 to be lying to God :-that the great Chrissavage nature in the world. And supposing one of so sour tian solemnity, baptism, is directed to be in the name of and morose a humour, as to shun and hate the conversation the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost :-that it is so distinctly of men, he would not endure it, to be without some one said, a there are three that bear record in heaven, the Faor other lo whom he might disgorge the virulency of that ther, the Word, and the Spirit, and that these three are his malignant humour. Or that supposing such a thing one thing. could happen, that God should take a man quite out of I cannot imagine what should oblige us so studiously to the society of men, and place him in absolute solitude, wiredraw all this to quite other meanings. supplied with the abundance of whatsoever nature could XXIV. And for the leaving out of the last mentioned f Prov. viii. & Gen. i. h Prov. vii. i Isa. ix.
u Chan ti. i John i.
x Chap. üi.
k Mic. v.
m John iii.
o John xxi.
n John X.
r Col. i.
91 Jobn v. y 1 Cor. ü.
t Rev. i. 2 Acta v.
a 1 John F.
text in some copies, what hath been said (not to mention | sense, he in another ? they in such a sense as admits-a divers others) by the famously learned Dr. Hammond upon trinity, he in a sense that excludes it? that place, is so reasonable, so moderate, so charitable to But (for such things as did need a superadded verbal the opposite party, and so apt to satisfy impartial and un- revelation) how easy is it to an inventive, pervicacious wit, prejudiced minds, that one would scarce think, after the to wrest words this way, or that. reading of it, any real doubt can remain concerning the XXVI. The Scriptures were writ for the instruction of authenticness of that 7th verse in 1 John v.
sober learners; not for the pastime of contentious wits, Wherefore now taking all these texts together; with that affect only to play tricks upon them. At their rate of many more that might have been mentioned, I must indeed interpreting, among whom he ranks himself, 'tis impossible profess to wonder, that with men of so good sense, as our any doctrine can with certainty be founded upon them. Socinian adversaries are accounted, this consideration Take the first chapter of St. John's Gospel, for instance, and should not have more place and weight, That it being so what doctrine can be asserted in plainer words, than the obvious to any reader of the Scriptures to apprehend from Deity of Christ, in the three first verses of that chapter ? so numerous texts, that Deity must belong to the Son of Set any man of an ordinary, unprepossessed understanding, God, and that there wants not sufficient inducement to to read them, and when he finds that by the Word is meant conceive so of the Holy Ghost also; there should be no Jesus Christ, (which themselves admit,) see if he will not more caution given in the Scriptures themselves to prevent judge it plainly taught, that Jesus Christ is God, in the mistake (if there were any) in apprehending the matter ac- most eminent, known sense; especially when he shall take cordingly; and to obviate the unspeakable consequent notice of so many other texts, that, according to their most danger of erring in a case of so vast importance. How obvious appearance, carry the same sense. But it is first, unagreeable it is to all our notions of God, and to his through mere shortness of discourse, taken for granted,
and usual procedure in cases of less consequencel How little rashly concluded on, that it is absolutely impossible, if the doth it consist with his being so wise and so compassion- Father be God, the Son can be God'too,* (or the Holy ale a lover of the souls of men, to let them be so fatally Ghost,) upon a presumption, that we can know every thing exposed unto so inevitable and so destructive a delusion that belongs to the Divine nature; and what is possible to that the whole Christian church should through so many be in it, and what not; and next, there is hereupon not centuries of years, be even trained into so horrid and con- only a license imagined, but an obligation, and necessity, tinued idolatry by himself who so severely forbids it! I to shake heaven and earth, or tear that divine word that is cannot allow myself to think men of that persuasion in- more stable into a thousand pieces, or expound it to sincere in their professing to believe the divine authority nothing, to make it comply with that forelaid presumptuof the Holy Scriptures, when the leader and head of their ous determination. Whereas if we could bui bend our party wrote a book, that is not without nerves, in defence minds so far to comply with the plain ducture of that reof it. But I confess I cannot devise, with what design they velation God hath made unto us of himself; as to apprecan think those Scriptures were written! or why they hend that in the most only Godhead there may be distincshould count it a thing worthy of infinite wisdom to vouch- tions, which we particularly understand not, sufficient to safe such a revelation to men, allowing them to treat and found the doctrine of a trinity therein, and very consistent use it as they do! And that till some great Socinian wits with the unity of it; we should save the Divine word, should arise fifteen hundred years after, to rectify their and our own minds, from unjust torture, both at once. And Dotions in these things, men should generally be in so our task, herein, will be the easier, that we are neither congreat hazard of being deceived into damnation by those cerned nor allowed to determine, that things are precisely very Scriptures, which were professedly writ to make them so, or so; but only to suppose it possible that so they may wise to salvation !
be, for ought that we know. Which will I am certain not XXV. Nor is it of so weighty importance in this contro- be so hard nor so bold an undertaking, as his, who shall persy, to cast the balance the other way, that a noted critic take upon him to prove, that any thing here supposed is (upon what introducement needs not be determined) | impossible. changed his judgment, or that his posthumous interpreta Indeed if any one would run the discourse into the tions of some texts (if they were his interpretations) carry abyss of infinity, he may soon create such difficulties to an appearance of bis having changed it; because he himself, as it ought not to be thought strange, if they be thought such texts might possibly admit to be interpreted greater than any human understanding can expedite. But otherwise, than they usually were, by such as alleged them not greater than any man will be entangled in, that shall for the trinity, or the disputed) Deity of the Son or Spirit, set himself to consider infinity upon other accounts; which or that the cause must be lost, upon his deserting it, or that yet he will find it imposed upon him unavoidably to adhe was still to be reckoned of the opposite party, (as this mit
, whether he will or no: not greater than this author author calls it,) and that such texts as we most relied upon, will be equally concerned in, upon his doing that right to were therefore given up by some of our own.
truth, in opposition to the former leaders of his own party, And it is really a great assuming, when a man shall ad- as to acknowledge the omnipresence of the Divine essence, venture to pronounce so peremptorily, against the so (p. 32.) which he will find, let him try it when he will: nor common judgment of the Christian church, without any yet so great, nor accompanied with so gross, so palpable colour of proof, that our copies are false copies, our trans- and horrid absurdities, as he will soon be encountered lations, our explications false, and the generality of the with, should be retract his grant, or entertain the monstrouswisest, the most inquisitive, most pious, and most judiciously maimed,
and most deformed, impious conceit of a finite, assertors of the Christian cause, for so many continued ages, or limited Deity. fools, or cheats, for owning and avowing them; for no other XXVII. Yet also in this present case, the impossibility imaginable reason, but only because they make against to our narrow minds of comprehending infinity, is most him! How will he prove any copies we rely upon to be rationally improveable to our very just advantage. It ought false? Is it because he is pleased to suspect them? And to be upbraided to none as a pretext, or a cover to sloth, is an interpretation false, because the words can possibly or dulness. 'Tis no reproach to us that we are creatures, be tortured unto some other sense ? Let him name me the and have not infinite capacities. And it ought to quiet text
, wherein any doctrine is supposed to be delivered that our minds, that they may so certainly know they have is of merely supernatural revelation, of which it is not pos- limits; within which, we are to content ourselves with such sible to devise some other meaning, nor more remote, alien, notions, about indemonstrable and unrevealed things, as or unimaginable, than theirs, of most of the disputed they can, with great ease to themselves, find room for.
I can reflect upon nothing in what is here proposed, but Nor indeed do we need to expect that natural sentiment what is intelligible without much toil, or much metaphysics. in itself, that there is but one God, (which this author takes As matters, of so common concernment, ought, to our such pains to prove, as if he thought, or would make other uttermost, to be represented in such a way that they may men think, we denied it.) For though it is so generally ac- be so; we need not be concerned in scholastic disquisiknowledged, doth he not know it is not so generally an- tions about union; or by what peculiar name to call that derstood in the same sense? Against whom
doth he write? which is here supposed. It's enough for us to know there Doth he not know they understand this oneness in one may be a real, natural, vital, and very intimate union, of
things that shall, notwithstanding it, continue distinct, and some lepidities had been left out, as that of Inicinea del that shall, by it, be truly one. Nor do we need to be anxToboso, foc. iously curious in stating the notions of person or personality, And to allude to what he says of Dr. Cudworth, his of suppositum and suppositality, though I think not the displeasure will not hurt so rough an author as Arnobius, term person disallowable in the present case. Nor will I so many ages after he is dead, if he should happen to say what that noted man (so noted that I need not name offend him, by having once said, Dissoluti—est pectoris in him, and who was as much acquainted with metaphysics rebus seriis quærere voluptatem-4c. as most in his age) published to the world above twenty But for all of us, I hope we may say without offence to years ago, that he counted the notion of the schools about any, common human frailty should be more considered, suppositum a foolery. For I do well know, the thing itself, and that we know but in part, and in how small a part! which our Christian metaphysicians intended, to be of no We should, hereupon, be more equal to one another. And small importance in our religion, and especially to the when it is obvious to every one, how we are strained in doctrine of redemption, and of our Redeemer.
this matter, and that we ought to suppose one another inXXVIII. But I reckon they that go the more metaphy- tently aiming to reconcile the Scripture discovery with sical way, and content themselves with the modul distinc- natural sentiments, should not uncharitably censure, or tion of three persons in the Godhead, say nothing herein labour to expose one another, that any seem more satisfied that can be proved absurd or contradictious. As to what with their own method than with ours. What an odd and is commonly urged, that if there be three persons in the almost ludicrous spectacle do we give to the blessed angels Deity, each perso: must have its distinct individual essence, that supervise us, (if their benignity did not more prompt as well as its distinct personality, I would deny the conse- them to compassion,) when they behold us fighting in the quence, and say, that though this be true in created per- dark, about things we so little understand; or, when we sons (taking person in the strict metaphysical sense) it is all labour under a gradual blindness, objecting it to one not necessary to be so in uncreated : that the reason is not another, and one accusing another, that he abandons not the same between finite things and infinite; and would his own too weak sight, to see only by his (perhaps) blinder put them to prove, if they can, that the same infinite essence eye. cannot be whole and undivided in three several persons ; Thus, Sir, you have my sense what I think safe and knowing there can be nothing more difficult urged in the enough to be said in this weighty matter. To you, these case, than may against the Divine omnipresence; which thoughts are not new, with whom they have been commuirrefragable reasons, as well as the plainest testimony of nicated and discoursed heretofore, long ago. And I beScripture, will oblige us to acknowledge.
lieve you may so far recollect yourself, as to remember the But I think, though this hypothesis, abstractedly con- principal ground was suggested to you, upon which this sidered, and by itself, is not indefensible, it doth not alto- discourse now rests,-viz. necessity of existence, and congether so well square with the Christian economy, nor so tingency ;, emanations absolutely independent upon any easily allow that distinction to the Father, Son, and Holy will at all, and the arbitrary productions of the Divine Spirit, which seems requisite to found the distinct attribu- will;-—as the sufficient and most fundamental difference tions that are severally given them in the Holy Scriptures. between what is uncreated and what is created; and upon
XXIX. T'o conclude, I only wish these things might be this very account, as that which might give scope and considered, and discoursed with less confidence, and pe- room to our thoughts, to conceive the doctrine of the remptory determination; with a greater awe of what is trinity, consistently with the unity of the Godhead; and divine and sacred; and that we may more confine our so, as that the Son, though truly from the Father, and the selves to the plain words of Scripture in this matter, and Holy Ghost, though truly from both, shall yet appear infibe content therewith. I generally blame it in the Socini- nitely distinguished from all created beings whatsoever. ans, (who appear otherwise rational and considering men,) So much you know was under consideration with us above that they seem to have formed sheir belief of things, not twenty years ago; and was afterwards imparted to many possible to be known but by the Scriptures, without them; more; long before there was any mention or forethoughi, and then think they are by all imaginable arts, and they within our notice, of such a revival of former controvercare not what violence, (as Socinus himself hath in effect sies, upon this subject, as we have lately seen. confessed,) to mould and form them according to their This occasion, now given, ... th put me upon revolving preconceived sense. Common modesty, and civility, one anew these former thoughts; and upon digesting them would have thought, should have made Schlictingius ab- into some order, such as it is, for public view. If they stain from prefixing, and continuing that as a running title shall prove to be of any use, it appears they will not be to a long chapter: Articulus Evangelicorum de Trinitate out of season; and it will be grateful to me to be any way sum sensu communi pugnat ; engrossing common sense to serviceable to so worthy a cause. If they should be found himself and his party, and reproaching the generality of altogether useless, being evicted either of impertinency, Christians, as not understanding common sense. They or untruth, shall not be ungrateful; for I thank God, i should take upon them less, and not vaunt, as if they were find not a disposition in my mind to be fond of any notions the men, and wisdom must die with them.
of mine, as they are such; nor to be more adventurous, or For this author, I congratulate his nearer approach to us, confident, in determining of things hid, not only in so pro from those who were formerly leaders of his party, in the founu, wat in most sacred darkness, than I have all along doctrines of God's omnipresence, and the perceptiveness expressed myself. I ought indeed to be the more cautious and activity of separate souls. He writes with sprightliness of offending in this kind, that being the thing I blame, und vigour, and, I doubt not, believes really, what he the positive asserting this or that to be impossible, or not writes with so little seeming doubt. And because his possibly competent, to the nature of God, which by his own spirit appears to be of a more generous, exalted pitch, than I word, or the manifest reason of things, doth not plainiy to comport with any thing against his judgment, for secu- i appear to be so: much more which his vord doth, as ir interest and advantage, I reckon it the greater pity it plainly as it is possible any thing can be expressed by should want the addition of what would be very orna- words, ascribe to him. The only thing I assert is, that a mental to it, and which he wishes to two of the persons, trinity in the Godhead may be possible, for ought we know, to whom he makes himself an antagonist, more of the ten- in lié way that I have proposed : at least it is so, sor any derness and catholic charity of genuine Christianity, (p. 19. thing that I do as yet know. And sn confident I am of col. 2.) to accompany those his abilities and learnir the trurn, and true meaning of his word, reveanng a trinity which would not thereby be the lesser (as he speaks) nor in his ternal Godhead, that I strongly hope, if ever it shall the less conspicuous.
be preved to be impossible upon these terms that I have I believe few would have thougir ope to see the less here set down, by the same, or by equal light, the possiclearly, if he had been content to see for himself, not for bility of it some other way will appear too; i. e. that not mankind. And if he had not talked at that rate, as if he only a trinity in the unity of the Godhead is a possible carried the eyes of all the world in his pocket, they would thing, but that it is also possible that the Father, Son, and have been less apt to think he carried his own there. Nor Holy Ghost may be sufficiently distinguished to answer had his performance, in this writing of his, lost any thing the frame and design of Christianity: and that will eqnally of real value, if in a discourse upon so grave a subject, I serve my purpose. For so, however, will ine scandal be removed, that may seem to lie upon our holy religion, propagated, and more cheerfully practised: which is aí. through the industrious misrepresentation which is made that is coveted and sought by, of it , by sceptics, deists, or atheists, as if it were made
Sir, up of inconsistencies and absurdities, and were fitter
Your very respectful, to be entertained with laughter than faith: and being
humble servant, &e. effectually vindicated, it will be the more successfully
FLAVING the copies of some letters by me, which I wrote the schoolmen's reasonings concerning that simpluusy, to Dr. Wallis between two and three years ago, upon this 'which they will have to be divine; and, for ought I do subject; I think, Sir, it is not improper, and perhaps it yet know, have competently occurred to it in this foremay be some way useful, to let them accompany this to going letter, and partly in what you will now find I wrote yourself
. And here I shall freely tell you my principal to him. But what there is of real infirmity, or impertiindncements (taking notice in some of the Doctor's printed nency to this case (as it is, and ought to be represented) in letters of others to him, contained in them) to send him in their arguings, I reckoned he would both see and evince cogaito one also; but with that reason against printing it, more clearly than I. which you find towards the end of the first letter.
Therefore I greatly desired to have engaged him upon It was rarely the apprehension, which had long remained this point; but I could not prevail. And am therefore willwith me, that the simplicity, which (if the notion of it were ing that what I writ then with design of the greatest pristretched too far), not the Scriptures, but the schools, have vacy, should now become public. Not that I think it hath so tanght us to ascribe to the being of God, was that alone great value in itself; but that perhaps it may further serve to which hath given us difficulty, in conceiving a trinity in excite some others more able and more at leisure to search the only one God.
and inquire into this matter; and either to improve or It is not the unity or oneliness of the Godhead, but the disprove what I have essayed. And which of the two it simplicity of it, as the school-men have stated it, that hath is, 'tis all one to me; for I have no interest or design, but created the matter of dispute. Unity, you know, denies that of truth, and the service of the Christian cause. more of the same; simplicity denies more in it. Concern- I was so little apprehensive of any such future use to ing the former, that there could be no more gods that one, be made of these letters, that I kept no account of the dates, we are at a point; the reason of the thing itself, and the except that one of the two latter (which both only refer to Holy Scriptures so expressly asserting it, leave it out of the first) I find, by the copy I have in my hands, to have dispate.
been sent December 19th, 1691. I remember it was a All the doubt is about the latter. Not whether such a long time, and guess it might be six or eight weeks ere I thing belong to the nature of God; but concerning the heard any thing of the first, after I had sent it. Probably just explication of it. As it is a real excellency, not a it might have been sent in October, or the beginning of blemish; and not merely a moral, but a natural excellency, November, before. I at length heard of it very casually, there can be no doubt of its belonging to the Divine nature; being in a house in London, whither the Doctor's eighth but if you understand it as exclusive of all variety therein, letter was newly arrived (then no secret) in order to imTou find not any express mention of such an attribute of pression. I then found this my first letter was lightly God in the Scriptures. They are silent in the matter. It touched, but mistaken; which occasioned (it being a post bath no authority, but of the schools. That and the reason night) my second. That was followed by the third, the next that can be brought for it must give it its whole and only post after, when I had a little more time wherein to express upport. It is the only thing that must open, and give way, my mind, though I still concealed my name, as it is yet to admit the doctrine of the trinity; and it is the only thing fittest to do, my main business in my letter to you lying wat needs to do so. For we none of us assert a trinity of with a person, who (blamelessly enough) conceals his. Gods; but a trinity in the Godhead. It is the only thing that These two latter of my letters to the Dr. produced some can to the adversaries of the trinity, with any colourable pre- alteration in that paragraph of his eighth letter, which relence, seem opposite to it. And which therefore I thought lates to my first. But yet no way answering the design for the only thing that remained to be sifted and examined, which I writ it. You have them now together exactly acf they will state it in opposition thereto. And consider, cording to the copies I have by me, excepting one or two what so mighty and invincible strength of reason it had, circumstantial things fitly enough left out, or somewhat Thence alone either to shock the authority, or prevent the altered. And they had all slept long enough, if this occaplain meaning, of the Holy Scriptures, discompose the sion had not brought them to light. whole frame of Christian religion, disturb the peace of the But before I give them to you, let me suggest some church, perpler very thinking minds, subvert the faith of things further to you concerning the foregoing letter to some, and turn it into ridicule with too many.
yourself. You may apprehend that some will think it I reckoned the Dr. (as I still do, notwithstanding the strange (if not an inconsistency) that I should suppose it contempt this author hath of him) a person of a very clear, possible an absolute omnimodous simplicity may not be amuddied understanding. I found him, by what he cx- long to the Divine Being, when yet I absolutely deny all pressed in his first letter of the trinity, not apt to be awed composition in it. by the authority of the schools
, nor any bigot to them, as And I apprehend too some may think so, at least awhile; haring declined their notion of a person, and fixing upon but such as have considered well
, will not think so, and another, (less answering, as I apprehend, the scheme and such as shall, I presume will not long. For, design of Christianity,) 'I thought it easy, and reputable 1. If I had denied the simplicity of the Divine nature, Enough to him to add, what might be requisite in this had the inference been just, that therefore I must grant a matter, without contradicting (directly or discernibly) any composition ? How many instances might be given of one thing he had said. I gave him the opportunity of doing opposite not agreeing to this or that thing, when also the it, as from himself, without seeming to have the least thing other doth as little agree! And most of all doth the tranto that purpose suggested to him by any other. I had scendent excellency of the Divine nature exempt it from myself, I think, seen and considered the main strength of the limiting by partitions to which creatures are subject. •