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and that the multiplication of words upon this subject does not in any degree increase the stock of our ideas.

We are thus brought back, after reviewing a multiplicity of opinions, to the few simple positions which constitute the whole amount of the knowledge that Scripture has given us concerning the Trinity, and which may be thus briefly stated. The Scriptures, while they declare the fundamental truth of natural religion, that God is one, reveal two persons, each of whom, with the Father, we are led to consider as God, and ascribe to all the three distinct personal properties. It is impossible that the three can be one in the same sense in which they are three: and therefore it follows, by necessary inference, that the unity of God is not an unity of persons; but it does not follow, that it may not be an unity of a more intimate kind than any which we behold. An unity of consent and will neither corresponds to the conclusions of reason, nor is by any means adequate to a great part of the language of Scripture, for both concur in leading us to suppose an unity of nature. Whether the substance common to the three persons be specifically or numerically the same, is a question, the discussion of which cannot advance our knowledge, because neither of the terms is applicable to the subject; and after all our researches and reading, we shall find ourselves just where we began, incapable of perceiving the manner in which the three persons partake of the same divine nature. But we are very shallow philosophers indeed, if we consider this as any reason for believing that they do not partake of it; for we are by much too ignorant of the manner of the divine existence to be warranted to say that the distinction of persons is an infringement of the Divine unity. "It is strange boldness in men," says Bishop Stillingfleet, (iii. 352,) "to talk of contradictions in things above their reach. Hath not God revealed to us that he created all things; and is it not reasonable for us to believe this, unless we are able to comprehend the manner of doing it? Hath not God plainly revealed that there shall be a resurrection of the dead? And must we think it unreasonable to believe it, till we are able to comprehend all the changes of the particles of matter from the creation to the general resurrection? If nothing is to be believed but what may be comprehended, the very being of


God must be rejected, and all his unsearchable perfections. If we believe the attributes of God to be infinite, how can we comprehend them? We are strangely puzzled in plain ordinary, finite things; but it is madness to pretend to comprehend what is infinite; and yet, if the perfections of God be not infinite, they cannot belong to him. Let those, who presume to say that there is a contradiction in the Trinity, try their imaginations about God's eternity, not merely how he should be from himself, but how God should co-exist with all the differences of times, and yet there be no succession in his own being; and they will perhaps concur with me in thinking that there is no greater difficulty in the conception of the Trinity than there is of eternity. For three to be one is a contradiction in numbers; but whether an infinite nature can communicate itself to three different substances, without such a division as is among created beings, must not be determined by bare numbers, but by the absolute perfections of the Divine nature: which must be owned to be above our comprehension."

Since then the Scriptures teach that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one, and since the unity of three persons who partake of the same divine nature must of nečessity be an unity of the most perfect kind, we may rest assured that the more we can abstract from every idea of inequality, division, and separation, provided we preserve the distinction of persons, our conceptions approach the nearer to the truth. But since the manner of the Divine existence is confessedly above our comprehension, and since no words or images that we can employ are found to correspond to the unity of these three persons, there are two inferences or advices that present themselves upon this subject, which I shall just mention in taking leave of it. The first inference is, that men of speculation ought to exercise mutual forbearance if they differ from one another in their attempts to explain that which all acknowledge to be inexplicable. It is vain to think of confining the human mind to those researches in which she may easily attain some certain conclusion. She loves to soar and to roam, and she gathers much wisdom from her own most adventurous flights; but this lesson surely should not be one of the last, that those who presume to expatiate in the sublime regions, where the light of human science becomes

dim and uncertain, need not be surprised to meet with many wanderers. Every sober inquirer, who finds that, after all his investigations, the union of the three persons in the Godhead remains to him involved in impenetrable darkness, will judge with candour of the attempts made by other men to obtain a solution of the difficulties which presented themselves to their minds; and he will not readily suppose that they doubt of the fact, although they may differ from him in the manner of explaining the fact.

The second inference or advice is, that as you cannot expect to give the body of the people clear ideas of the manner in which the three persons are united, it may be better in discoursing to them, to avoid any particular discussion of this subject; and to follow here, as in every other instance, the pattern of teaching set in the New Tes tament. Our Lord and his Apostles do not propose any metaphysical explication of the unity of the Divine nature. But they assume it, and declare it as a fundamental truth; and they never insinuate that it is in the smallest degree infringed by the revelation which they give of the three persons. After this example, I advise you never to perplex the minds of the people with different theories of the Trinity, and never to suggest that the unity of the Divine nature is a questionable point; but, without professing to explain how the three persons are united, to place before your hearers, as you have occasion, the Scripture account of the Son and the Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father, and thus to preserve upon their minds what the Scriptures have revealed, and what upon that account it is certainly of importance for them to learn, the dignity of the second and third persons, their relation to us, and their power to execute the gracious offices necessary for our salvation. These essential points of Christian instruction, which it is the duty of the ministers of the Gospel to impress upon the people, are revealed in the Scriptures in such a manner as to be in no danger of leading into the Sabellian, the Arian, or the Tritheistic scheme of the Trinity; and, therefore, if we adhere, as we ought always to do, to the pure revelation of Scripture in our account of the three persons, we have no occasion to expose to the people the defects of these schemes; and we may

reserve to ourselves all the speculations about the manner in which the three persons are united.

I conclude this specimen of the variety of opinions, and of the kind of language which you may expect to find in ancient and modern writers upon the Trinity, with mentioning the books from which I have derived most assist


The best writer in defence of the Catholic system of the Trinity is Bishop Bull. His works are published in a large folio volume, more than half of which is filled with the three following treatises: Defensio Fidei Nicenæ— Judicium Ecclesiæ Catholicæ-Primitiva et Apostolica Traditio. All the three respect the Trinity, and are often quoted by succeeding writers, who borrow the greatest part of their matter from this very learned and able divine. His principal work is, Defensio Fidei Nicenæ, which consists of four parts. 1. The goags, pre-existence of the Son—2. 50 qucoudrov, consubstantiality of the Son-3. ro Guvaïdios, his eternal co-existence with the Father. 4. His subordination to the Father. Bishop Pearson, in his Exposition of the Creed, gives the same view of the Trinity with Bishop Bull; which is the true Athanasian scheme; and he states it as he states every other point in theology of which he treats, with clearness, with sound judgment, and with much learning. Dr. Cudworth, in that magazine of learning, which he calls the Intellectual System, gives a full view of the Christian and the Platonic Trinity. If you consult, when you read him, the ingenious and learned notes which Mosheim has added to his Latin edition of Cudworth, you will be preserved from some errors, and your views of the subjects treated will be much enlightened and improved. When you come down to the last century, Dr. Clarke's Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity is the first book which will engage your attention. As a collection of texts upon the subject it is most useful; as a view of the opinions of the ancient church it is to be read, for the reasons which I mentioned, with suspicion; and as the argument of a very able and acute man, upon a subject which seems to have been near his heart, it is proper that you should read at the same time what was said by his opponents. There are two books by Dr. Waterland.

The one, Sermons in Defence of the Divinity of Jesus Christ; the other, A Vindication of Christ's Divinity. And there is an excellent book, not so controversial as Dr. Waterland's, which should be read by every student of divinity, A Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity, by Dr. Thomas Randolph. Dr. Randolph opposes the principles of Dr. Clarke. But he writes directly in answer to a small book entitled, An Essay on Spirit, which presents a modification of the Arian system. You will read with pleasure a rational intelligible history of Arianism, which Dr. Jortin, who is very far from having any prejudice in favour of the Catholic system, gives in the third volume of his Remarks on Ecclesiastical History. I referred formerly to Ben Mordecai's Apology by Taylor. You will find many able attacks upon all the parts of the Catholic system, in the works of Mr. Thomas Emlyn.— Mosheim, in his valuable work, De Rebus Christianorum ante Christianum Magnum, gives the most complete information as to Sabellianism, and the other early systems of the Trinity; and his Church History joins to a short account of all the variety of opinions upon this subject, references to the authors who have treated of them more largely. Mr. Gibbon has introduced into his second volume a history of the Arian controversy, in which he professes to delineate the three systems of the Trinity. But it displays the same inveterate prejudice against religion, and the same constant endeavour to turn into ridicule every branch of that subject, which disgrace so large a portion of the writings of this illustrious historian. Some of the books which I have mentioned will prepare you for reading this part of Gibbon, by enabling you to discern where his account is lame or unfair. Lardner, Priestley, Lindsey, and the other Socinians of later times, incline to the Sabellian system, and employ every art to represent the other two as contrary to Scripture, to reason, and to the opinions of the primitive church. They have been attacked by many modern writers. But you will need no other antidote to their heresy than the volume of tracts by Bishop Horsley, a formidable antagonist, whose superiority in argument and in learning gives him some title to use that tone of disdain which pervades the volume.

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