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Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity.
Ith how great Pleafure and Satisfaction I muft have read this most remarkable Book concerning the Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, every one that is at all acquainted with me, or my Writings, will eafily fuppofe; fince it contains, for the main,thofe veryChriftian Doctrines which I have so very earnestly recommended to all Chriftian, especially to all Proteftant Churches, and that in great Part from the fame original Evidence, and on the fame facred Authority. And I cannot but look upon it as a moft happy Omen of the Fall of Error and Antichriftianifm among us, that fo Learned, Judicious, and Eminent a Perfon as Dr. Clarke has fo openly, and with fuch undeniable Strength of Reafon and Evidence, confirmed much the greatest Part of what I have fo long and fo zealously been contending for: And this without the direct Contradiction of almost any one thing that I have afferted. Yet because I cannot approve of fome Things in this noble Work; and do really believe that the Doctors Notions, as here deliver'd,
are in fome degree fhort of the original Chriftian Doctrines; and fome Practices here allow'd more different from the original Chriftian Duties; and because fo great an Authority as Dr. Clarke's may have too much influence on many, to make them avoid the owning and obferving fome plain Truths and Laws of the Gofpel, as they were honeftly receiv'd and obferv'd in the first Ages, I fhall take the Liberty, where I ftill fee Realon to differ from him, without the leaft Breach of Friendship, to tell him and the World my Mind with the utmoft Freedom: That fo either he may own his mistake, and come intirely up to the Doctrines and Duties of Chriftianity as I have propos'd them; or that I may have a better Opinion of his Notions and confequent Practices; if they appear not difagreeable to our old and undefil'd Religion; as upon Conviction I am moft ready to have: Being ever fatisfyed when I fee the real, intire, genuine Doctrines and Practices of the Golpel and not any human Notions and Decrees, prevail among Mankind. Now in this Cafe I fhall comprize what I have to fay to Dr. Clarke under the Obfervations following. I Oblerve
I. That here fometimes appears, efpecially in the fecond Part, to be a visible Byafs indulg'd of reprefenting the Chriftian Doctrines and Practices, as near as poffible in a prudential way; in Language not moft exact, but most inoffenfive; in terms not most authentick, but moft agreeable to the prefent Settlements; with the Omiffion of fuch original Expreffions at leaft, if not Notions as are not Jikely to go down fo well in this Age: Here are alfo in the last Part all the most plaufible Pleas and Apologies made for the Articles, Creeds, and Forms now in the Church of England: Here are Practices endeavour'd to be excus'd, if not justifyed, when no direct Warrant can be pretended. In short, here feems to be such an Account of the Chriftian Faith and Worship as is too much intermix'd with the unwarrantable Additions now in the Church; even where there is not the leaft facred or primitive Authority for them. Now if all this had been done by a Party-nian, writing for any particular Church; if it had been done by a profefs'd Writer on thefe Matters of Controverfy; how great a Man foever otherwife, I fhould not have been furpriz'd. But to be done by one fo very fenfible of the Impofitions of that Sort of Writers, of fo folid a Judgment, and fo great Skill in the Bible, and the rest of the original Books of our Religion, in a matter which he owns to be fo facred, and where we are not to receive him that teaches not only any other Gofpel, but even (a) any thing befiaes what the Apofles taught in fuch facred matters; and this in a defign of giving the Church an account of the New Testament Faith; and in a Book intituled, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity feems to me not fo
(a) Gal. 1.8.
perfectly agreeable to the very Nature of his Undertaking, nor to be the way of an impartial Representation.
There are already Writers enow for every Party, who have reprefented the Doctrines and Duties of Chriftianity in a way but o agreeable to their own Notions, and in Words but too agreeable to their own Settlements. And I had my felf Temptation enough in the drawing up my Account of the Primitive Faith to induce
e to make it as eafy and inoffenfive as poffible, nay to perfwade me, to omit thofe Words and Expreffions that would not eafily now pafs in the World, and that were likely to expofe me to the Displeasure of thofe in Authority, and perhaps to Perfecution allo. Yet was I fo fully fenfible of the indifpenfible Obligation I was under of representing every thing as it really was, and of exactly keeping to the original Notions, Language, and Expreflions of Chriftianity, that I was not, I blefs God, in the leaft byafs'd by any of thofe Temptations; nor did once, to my Knowledge, at all corrupt or mifreprefent the Doctrines of the Gofpel, or its Practices, on any fuch occafion: which I own has been a conftant Foundation of Comfort to me under all the Oppofition and Difficulties I have met with. I with Dr. Clarke and all other Writers may ever take the fame Care, on the like occafions: that fo nothing may be at any time either faid or omitted on fuch facred and important Subjects out of any other regards but thofe to real Truth, Sincerity, and Chriftianity. I Oblerve
II. That the Doctor fully afferts (a) that the Scripture, or the known open publick Books of the New Teftament, are the real and only Rule of Truth among Chriftians; and that the original Creed it felf was therefore to be believ'd, because it expreffed the Senfe of Scripture only, and was an Extract out of the fame; nay, and that Irenaus in particular has that Doctrine. This I affim to be intirely false in fact, and without the leaft ground that I ever saw in Antiquity; and particularly contrary to the exprefs Doctrine of Irenaus. And I infift upon it, that, on the other hand, the Traditionary Dodrines, the Traditionary Creed, and the Traditionary Preaching of the Apostles, which are either authentickly now preferv'd in the Apoftolical Conftitutions, or no where, or however the Scriptures as interpreted according to them, were ever in the first times own'd the only certain Foundations of the Chriftian Settlements; and that the Articles of Faith contain'd in the original Creed were not extracted from the Scriptures, but were of more facred Authority; were probably earlier than any of the Books of our New Teftainent; and were look'd on as immediately deriv'd from Heaven,
(a) Introduc. p. 4. &c.
br from our Saviour himfelf, after he had been in Heaven: Áll which has been already prov'd in my Effay on the Apoftolical Conftitutions. And I beg of the Doctor to give me but one fingle Proof of this his Afiertion of fo great Importance, in any of the, moft early Ages of the Church. Without which he cannot but know that any Mans or Churches modern Opinions are of no Authority at all. But this is not a proper Place to enlarge on that Mattel. I Obferve
III. That the great Latitude Dr. Clarke allows, (a) that every Perfon may reasonably agree to modern Forms, under a Proteftant Settlement, which owns the Scripture as the Rule of Faith, whenever he can in any Senfe at all reconcile them with Scripture, if it be with a Declaration how he reconciles them; even tho' it be in a Senfe which is own'd to be plainly forc'd and unnatural; feems to me not juftifyable; but contradictory to the direct Meaning and Defign of thofe forms; and of the moft pernicious confequence in all parallel Cafes. Nor do I fee at this rate,that the fame Liberty can be wholly deny'd to a Proteftant, as to the Popish Doctrines and Practices; fince there alfo 'tis fuppos'd that thofe forms are intended to oblige Men to nothing but what is agreeable to Chriftianity. If to this Obfervation the Doctor fhould reply, that complying with the Church of Rome, and joining with a Proteftant Church in the manner and with the Declarations he does, are quite different Things on these two Accounts, (1) Because the Church of Rome will not permit any of her Members to make any fuch Declaration concerning her Doctrines, but pofitively infifts upon every ones implicit Submiffion to them, in the Senfe that Church and her Councils receive them, without examining them by the Rule of Scripture, And (2) becaufe many of the Doctrines of the Church of Rome, fuch as the Invocation of the Virgin Mary, and of Saints, &c. with the Worfhip of Images, can in no Senfe be reconciled, but are directly contrary to it, as fetting up other Mediators inftead of Christ, and teaching Men to apply to fuch Beings as have no Power or Dominion over them; whereas the Invocation of the Holy Ghoft, and fo of the whole Trinity as ufed in the Church of England; fome of the moft fulpicious of all the Things allow'd by him; may be understood (and Declar'd) to be only a defiring him to beftow thofe Gifts upon us, in Subordination to the Father and the Son, which we are fure from Scripture it is his proper Office, and in his Power to diftribute: If I fay the Doctor fhall make this Reply, I muft Antwer, (1) That I doubt our Church does not properly allow her Members to make any fuch Declarations as is here intimated, but expects their Submiffion in that Senfe the and
(a) P. 20. &c.
her Synods have impos'd her Doctrines and Devotions; and tho' it be not under the Notion of implicit Faith, and without Examination, yet as acquiefcing in her Judgment, interpreting the Scripture according to her Articles and Creeds, and fubmitting to her Aubaity in Controverfies of Faith. (2) That there are even in the Church of Rome few or no fuch Doctrines or Practices, but Perlons well difpofed to it can in fome Senfe or other reconcile them with Scripture; or at least think they can; which is here almoft the fame Cafe; without dreaming of fetting up other Mediators inftead of Chrift, or doubting of fome Degree of Power and Anthority in the Beings fo Invocated. So that if we, without all facred or even primitive Command or Example, may follow our Church in the Invocation of the Holy Spirit,and fo of the whole Trinity,from fome uncertain Reafonings of our own, I do not fee how we can condemn the Papifts for following their own Church in the Invocation of Angels,nay hardly in that of Saints alfo,and of the Virgin Mary herfelf. Nor can any Explications of Forms directly against the known Senfe of Words, and of the Impofers, be other than Proteftatio contra factum,and fo wholly unjustifyable. Nor indeed, if this were fomewhat tolerable in fome particular Cafes of fmall moment can it be at all fo in the moft facred Articles and Offices of Religion. If this way be allowable, (a) then is the Offence of the Crofs ceafed; then the Martyrs have commonly loft their Lives. without fufficient caufe; and thofe Jews who would dye rather than eat Swines Flesh, and thofe Chriftians that would fuffer the like Punishment, rather than caft a little Incenfe on the Heathen Altars, were very unfortunate,as having fuffered without neceflity. What will become of all Oaths, Promifes, and Securities among Men, if the plain, real Truth and Meaning of Words be no longer the Measure of what we are to profefs, affert, or practice; but every one may,if he do but openly declare it, put his own ftrained Interpretation, as he pleafes upon them? Efpecially if this be to be allow'd in the moft facred matters of all, the figuing Articles of Faith, the making folemn Confeffions of the fame, and the offe ting up publick Prayers, Praifes, and Doxologies to the great God, in the folemn Affemblies of his Worship: This I own, I dare not do, at the Peril of my Salvation: And if I can no way be permitted to enjoy the Benefit of Chrifts holy Ordinances in pubick, without what I own would be in my felf grofs Infincerity and Prevarication, I fhall, I believe, think it my Duty to aim to enjoy that Benefit fome other way: whatever Odium or Suffering Imay bring upon my felf thereby. I Obferve,
IV. That Dr. Clarke afferts, (b)that there are the greateft Thing's poken of,and the higheft Titles afcribed to the Son of God in Sci
(1) Gal, V. 11,
(b) P. 298.