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For the clearing of this difficulty, I shall, with all the brevity I can, offer these following considerations; which I hope, to an impartial and unprejudiced judgment, will be sufficient to remove it, or at least to break the main force and strength of it.

1. I desire it may be well considered, that there is a wide difference between the nice speculations of the fchools, beyond what is revealed in scripture, concerning the doctrine of the Trinity, and what the scripture only teaches and asserts concerning this myItery. For it is not to be denied, but that the schoolmen, who abounded in wit and leisure, though very few

among them had either exact skill in the holy scriptures, or in ecclesiastical antiquity, and the writings of the ancient fathers of the Christian church; I say, it cannot be denied, but that these speculative and very acute men, who wrought a great part of their divinity out of their own brains, as spiders do cobwebs out of their own bowels, have started a thousand subtilties about this mystery, such as no Christian is bound to trouble his head withal : much less is it necessary for him to understand those niceties, which we may reasonably presume that they who talk of them did themselves never thoroughly understand; and, least of all, is it necessary to believe them. The modesty of Christians is contented in divine mysteries to know what God hath thought fit to reveal concerning them, and hath no curiosity to be wise above that which is written. It is enough to believe what God says concerning these matters; and, if any man will venture to say more, every other man surely is at his liberty, to believe as he fees reason.

2. I desire it may, in the next place, be considered, that the doctrine of the Trinity, even as it is asserted in fcripture, is acknowledged by us to be still a great my. stery, and so imperfectly revealed, as to be in a great measure incomprehensible by human reason. And therefore, though some learned and judicious men may have very commendably attempted a more particular explication of this great mystery by the strength of reason; yet I dare not pretend to that, knowing both the difficulty and danger of such attempt, and mine own inCufficiency for it.


All that I ever designed upon this argument was, to make out the credibility of the thing from the authority of the holy scriptures, without descending to a more particular explication of it than the scripture hath given us ; left, by endeavouring to lay the difficulties which are already started about it, new ones should be raised, and such as may perhaps be much harder to be removed than those which we have now to grapple withal. And this I hope I have in some measure done in one of the former discourses, [Ser. 44.]. Nor indeed do I see, that it is any ways necessary to do more ; it being fufficient, that God hath declared what he thought fit in this matter; and that we do firmly believe what he says concerning it to be true, though we do not perfectly comprehend the meaning of all that he hath said about it.

For in this, and the like cases, I take an iinplicit faith to be very commendable ; that is, to believe whatever we are sufficiently assured God hath revealed, though we do not fully understand his meaning in such a revelation. And thus every man who believes the holy scriptures to be a truly divine revelation, does implicitly believe a great part of the prophetical books of scripture, and several obscure expressions in those books, though he do not particularly understand the meaning of all the predictions and expressions contained in them. In like manner, there are certainly a great many very good Christians who do not believe and comprehend the mysteries of faith nicely enough to approve themselves to a scholastical and magisterial judge of controversies, who yet, if they do heartily embrace the doctrines which are clearly revealed in scripture, and live up to the plain precepts of the Christian religion, will, I doubt not, be very well approved by the great and just, and by the infallibly infallible judge of the world.

3. Let it be further confidered, that though neither the word trinity, nor perhaps person, in the sense in' which it is used by divines when they treat of this mystery, be any where to be met with in scripture; yet it cannot be denied, but that three are there spoken of by the names of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in whole name every Christian is baptized, and to each of whom the highelt titles and properties of God are in scripture

attributed ;

attributed; and these three are spoken of with as much distinction from one another as we use to speak of three several persons.

So that though the word trinity be not found in fcripture, yet these three are there expressly and frequently mentioned ; and a trinity is nothing but three of any thing. And so likewise, though the word person be not there expressly applied to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; yet it will be very hard to find a more convenient word whereby to express the distinction of these three. For which reason I could never yet see any just cause to quarrel at this term. For since the Holy Spirit of God in scripture hath thought fit, in speaking of these three, to distinguish them from one another, as we use in common speech to distinguish three several persons, I cannot see any reason why, in the explication of this mystery, which purely depends upon divine revelation, we should not speak of it in the same manner as the scripture doth : and though the word person is now become a term of art, I see no cause why we should decline it, so long as we mean by it neither more nor less than what the scripture says in other words.

4. It deserves further to be considered, that there hath been a very ancient tradition concerning three real differences or distinctions in the divine nature; and these, as I said before, very nearly resembling the Christian doctrine of the Trinity.

Whence this tradition had its original, is not easy, upon good and certain grounds, to say. But certain it is, that the Jews anciently had this notion; and that they did distinguish the Word of God, and the Holy Spirit of God, from him who was abfolutely called God, and whom they looked upon as the first principle of all things ; as is plain from Philo Judæus, and Moses Nachmanides, and others, cited by the learned Grotius, in his incomparable book of the truth of the Christian religion, book 5.

And, among the Heathen, Plato, who probably cnough might have this notion from the Jews, did make three distinctions in the Deity, by the names of Esential Goodness, and Mind, and Spirit: So that whatever objections this matter may be liable VOL. III м


to, it is not so peculiar a doctrine of the Christian religi0:1, as many have imagined, though it is revealed by it with much inore clcarness and certainty: and, consequently, neither the Jews nor Plato have any reason to object it to us Christians; especially since they pretend no other ground for it but either their own reason, or an ancient tradition from their fathers : whereas we Christians do appeal to express divine revelation for what we believe in this matter, and do believe it singly upon that account.

5. It is besides very considerable, that the scriptures do deliver this doctrine of the Trinity without any manner of doubt or question concerning the unity of the divine nature; and not only so, but do most stedfastly and constantly assert, that there is but one God. And in those very texts in which these three differences are mentioned, the unity of the divine nature is expressly asserted; as where St. John makes mention of the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, the unity of these three is likewise affirmed: There are three that bear record heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit ; and these three are one.

6. It is yet further considerable, that from this mystery, as delivered in fcripture, a plurality of Gods cannot be inferred without making the scripture grossly to contradict itself; which I charitably suppose the Socinians would be as loth to admit as we ourselves are. And if either councils, or fathers, or schoolmen, have so explained this mystery, as to give any just ground, or so much as a plausible colour for such an inference, let the blame fall where it is due, and let it not be charged on the holy scriptures; but rather, as the Apostle says in another case, lei God be true, and every man a liar.

7. and lastly, I desire it may be considered, that it is Kot repugnant to reason, to believe some things which are incomprehensible by our reason; provided that we have sufficient ground and reason for the belief of them : especially if they be concerning God, who is in his nature incomprehensible ; and we be well assured that he hath revealed them. And therefore it ought not to offend us, that these differences in the Deity are incomprehensible by our finite understandings; because the divine nature itself is so, and yet the belief of that is the foundation of all religion.

There are a great many things in nature which we cannot comprehend how they either are, or can be : As the continuity of matter ; that is, how the parts of it do hang so fast together, that they are many times very hard to be parted; and yet we are sure that it is fo, because we see it every day. So likewise, how the finall seeds of things contain the whole form and nature of the things from which they proceed, and into which by degrees they grow; and yet we plainly see this every year.

There are many things likewise in ourselves, which no man is able in any measure to comprehend, as to the manner how they are done and performed: As the vital union of soul and body. Who can imagine by what device or means a spirit comes to be so closely united and so firmly linked to a material body, that they are not to be parted without great force and violence offered to nature? The like may be laid of the operations of our several faculties of sense and imagination, of memory and reason, and especially of the liberty of our wills : and yet we certainly find all these faculties in ourselves, though we cannot either comprehend or explain the particular manner in which the several operations of them are performed.

And if we cannot comprehend the manner of those operations which we plainly perceive and feel to be in ourselves, much less can we expect to comprehend things without us; and lealt of all can we pretend to comprehend the infinite nature and perfections of God, and every thing belonging to him. For God himself is certainly the greatest mystery of all other, and acknowledged by mankind to be in his nature, and in the particular manner of his existence, incomprehensible by human understanding. And the reason of this is very evident; because God is infinite, and our knowledge and understanding is but finite : and yet no sober man ever thought this a good reason to call the being of God in question.

The same may be said of God's certain knowledge of future contingencies, which depend upon the uncertain M 2


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