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exposed it; especially Scotus: and he designed to do fo; as any man that attentively reads him, may plainly discover : for, in his difputation about it, he treats this doctrine with the greatest contempt, as a new invention of the council of Lateran under Pope Innocent III. ; to the decree of which council concerning it he seems to pay a formal submission, but really derides it as contrary to the common sense and reason of mankind, and not at all supported by scripture; as any one may easily difcern that will carefully consider his manner of handling it, and the result of his whole disputation about it.
And now, suppose there were some appearance of absurdity and contradiction in the doctrine of the Trinity as it is delivered in scripture, must we therefore believe a doctrine which is not at all revealed in scripture, and which hath certainly in it all the absurdities in the world, and all the contradictions to sense and reason, and which, once admitted, doth at once destroy all certainty? Yes, say they, why not? since we of the church of Rome are satisfied that this doctrine is revealed in fcripture; or, if it be not, is defined by the church, which is every whit as good. But is this equal, to demand of us the belief of a thing which hath always been controverted, not only between us and them, but even among themselves, at Icast till the council of Trent; and this upon such unreasonable terms, that we must either yield this point to them, or else renounce a doctrine agreed on both sides to be revealed in fcripture ?
To shew the unreasonableness of this proceeding, let us suppose a priest of the church of Rome pressing a Jew or Turk to the belief of tranfubftantiation, and because one kindness deserves another, the Jew or Turk should demand of him the belief of all the fables in the Talmud, or in the Alchoran; since none of these, nor indeed all of them together, are near so absurd as transubstantiation: would not this be much more reasonable and equal than what they demand of us; since no absurdity, how monstrous and big soever, can be thought of, which may not enter into an understanding in which a breach hath been already made wide enough to admit transubstantiation? The priests of Baal did not half so much deserve to be exposed by the Prophet for their superstition and
folly, folly, as the priests of the church of Rome do for this senseless and Itupid doctrine of theirs with a hard name. I shall only add this one thing more, that if this do
trine were possible to be true, and clearly proved to be so; yet it would be evidently useless, and to no purpose. For it pretends to change the substance of one thing into the substance of another thing that is already, and before this change is pretended to be made. But to what purpose ? Not to make the body of Christ; for that was already in being : and the substance of the bread is lost; nothing of it remaineth but the accidents, which are good for nothing, and indeed are nothing, when the substance is destroyed and gone.
All that now remains, is, to make some practical inferences from this doctrine of the unity of the divine nature. And they shall be the same which God himself makes by Moses, Deut. vi. 4. 5.; which text is also cited by our Saviour, Mark xii. 29. 30. 31. Hear, o Ifrael, the Lord our God is one Lord. And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strengih. And thou Jhalt love thy neighbour as thyself. So that, according to our Saviour, the whole duty of man, the love of God, and of our neighbour, is founded in the unity of the diyine nature.
1. The love of God: The Lord our God is one Lord; therefore thou shalt love him with all thine heart, &c. This is the first and great commandment. And it comprehends in it all the duties of the first table, as naturally flowing from it; as, that we should serve him only, and pay no religious worship to any but to him: for to pay religipus worship to any thing, is to make it a God, and to acknowledge it for such ; and therefore God being but one, we can give religious worship to none but to him only. And
among all the parts of religious worship, none is more peculiarly appropriated to the Deity than solemn invocation and prayer : for he to whom men address their requests, at all times, and in all places, must be supposed to be always every where present, to understand all our desires and wants, and to be able to supply them; and this God only is, and can do. So likewise from the unity of the divine nature may
be inferred, that we should not worship God by any fenlible inage or representation ; because God being a fingular being, there is nothing like him, or that can, without injuring and debaling his most spiritual, and perfect, and immense being, be compared to him; as he himself speaks in the Prophet, If. xlvi. 5. To whom will ye liken me, saith the Lord, and make me equal ? And therefore with no distinction whatsoever can it be lawful to give religious worship, or any part of it, to any but God. We can pray to none but to him, because he only is every where present, and only knows the hearts of all the children of men, 1 Kings viii. 39.; which Solomon gives as the reason why we should address our supplications to God only, who dwelleth in the heavens.
So that the reason of these two precepts is founded in the unity and singularity of the divine nature; and, unless there be more gods than one, we must worship him only, and pray to none but him; because we can give invocation to none, but to him only whom we believe to be God; as St. Paul reasons, Rom. X. 14. How shall they call on him in whom they have not believed ?
2. The love likewise of our neighbour is founded in the unity of the divine nature, and may be inferred from it : Hear, o Ifrael, the Lord our God is one Lord; therefore thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. And the Apostle gives this reason why Christians should be at unity among themselves, Eph. iv. 6. There is one God and Father of all; and therefore we should keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace; that is, live in mutual love and peace. The Prophet likewise assigns this reafon why all mankind should be upon good terms with one another, and not be injurious one to another, Mal. ii. 10. Have we not all one father ? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother?
And therefore, when we see such hatred and enmity among men, such divisions and animosities among Chriftians, we may not only ask St. Paul's question, Is Chris divided, that we cannot agree about serving him ; either all to serve him in one way, or to bear with one another in our differences ? I say, we
ay not only ask St. Paul's question, Is Christ divided? but may ask further, Is God divided? Is there not one God? and are we not all his offspring? Are we not all the fons of Adam, who was the son of God? So that, if we trace ourselves to our original, we shall find a great nearness and equality a. mong men. And this equality, that we are all God's creatures and image, and that the one only God is the father of us all, is a more real ground of mutual love, and peace, and equity in our dealings one with another, than any of those petty differences and distinctions, of strong and weak, of rich and poor, of wise and foolish, of base and honourable, can be to encourage men to any thing of infolence, injustice, and ineqality of dealing one towards another : because that wherein we all agree, that we are the creatures and children of God, and have all one common father, is essential and constant; but those things wherein we differ, are accidental and mutable, and happen to one another by turns.
Thus much may fuffice to have been spoken concern. ing the first proposition in the text, There is one God. To him, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, be all honour, and glory, dominion, and power, now and for Amen.
S E RM Μ ο Ν XLIX. Concerning resolution and stedfastness in re
Preached at St. Lawrence-Jewry, June 3. 1684.
The PREFACE to the Reader.
Eing, I hope, for the remainder of my life, released and wrangling about religion, I small now turn my thoughts to something more agreeable to my temper, and of a more direct and immediate tendency to the promoting of true reli-,
gion, to the happiness of human society, and the reformation of the world.
I have no intention to reflect upon any that stand up in defence of the truth, and contend carnestly for it, endeapouring in the spirit of meekness to reclaim those that are veral occasions be almost unavoidably engaged in controverfies of religion ; and if he have a head clear and cool enough, so as to be master of his own notions and temper in that hot kind of service, he may therein do considerable advantage to the truth: though a man that hath once drawn blood in controversy, as Ni. Mede expresseth it, is seldom known ever perfectly to recover his own good temper afterwards.
For this reason, a good man should not be very willing, when his Lord comes, to be found so doing, and as it were beating his fellow-fervants. And all controversy, as it is usually managed, is little better. A good man would be loth to be taken out of the world reeking hot from a sharp. contention with a perverse adversary; and not a little out of Countenance, to find himself in this temper tranlated into the calm and peaceable regions of the blessed, where nothing but perfect charity and good-will reign for ever.
I know not whether St. Paul, who had been taken up into the third heavens, did by that question of his, Where is the disputer of Tht's world? intend to insinuate, that this wrangling work hath place only in this world, and upon this earth, where only there is a dist to be raised; but will have no place in the other. But whether St. Paul inztended this or not, the thing itself I think is true, that in the other world all things will be clear, and past dispute To be fire, among the blelled; and probably also among the miserable, unless fierce and furious contentions, with great heat without light, about things of no moment and concernment to them, Jhould be designed for a part of their torment.
As to the following fermons, I am fenfible that the style of them is more love and full of words, than is agreeable to just and exact discourses; but so I think the style of popular sermons ought to be : and therefore I have not been very careful to mend this matter ; chusing rather that they should appear in that native fimplicity in which, so many years ago, they were first framed, than dressed up with too much care VOL. III.