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Tenets of all terminate in a common Point, and are only so many different Evasions of the same great Truths, the Divinity of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.—If these great Truths may be sufficiently evinced by that very Authority of Scripture which these our Enemies pretend to submit to, and be judged by, (as indeed their above-mentioned Leaders, and other Hereticks have done before them) all Tenets whatsoever, and in what manner soever impugning the Force of them, will equally and utterly vanish into nothing; and therefore I shall proceed in a general Method of Enquiry, and only touch upon any particular Doctrine or Notion as the occasional Review of it may serve to illustrate the Subject Matter before me.
The Question at present to be resolved then is— Whether the Holy Scriptures are not sufficiently clear and explicit upon these great Articles of our Faith, to overthrow the Pleas and Pretences of Scepticism and Infidelity?
Now without producing all the Texts which have been repeatedly, and indeed unanswerably, quoted in Support of the Doctrine of the Holy Trinity, they are, it may be in general remarked, so many, and so express, that did they contain any thing but a Mystery, no possible Disputes could arise concerning the Sense and Meaning of them. Most of
the Passages in Scripture declarative of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead are so clear, that they are only liable to wilful Misinterpretation: The Benediction of St. Paul at the End of the second Epistle to the Corinthians, and the Scripture Form of Baptism for instance, are as plain as Words can make them; and therefore though a general and superficial View of the Doctrines of Religion, which require an implicit Faith, may dispose the Wisdcm of this World, to call in question the Authority of Religion itself, (which has been already, 'tis hoped, cleared up) yet for Men to dispute, or tacitly to doubt, the Doctrines of our Religion, while they allow it's Authority, seems to be as whimsical a kind of Composition, as human Pride can well be conceived to offer.
It is true, Infidels have attempted to explain away many Places of Scripture which most infallibly prove the Divinity of the Son, or of the Holy Ghost; to charge some with Corruption and Ungenuineness; and to oppose to others, by way of Counterbalance, certain Passages which seem to imply the Inferiority of the Second Person, and the Impersonality of the Third in the Blessed Trinity.
But the first Attempt may be obviated by observing, that if the Texts appealed to in the present Question can be explained away, the Infidel is
F 2 defied defied to produce any Passage in any Author that cannotk.—Granting further, for Argument's sake, the Truth of the second Objection in every Instance pretended, the accidental, or even designed Corruption of particular Places, cannot affect the Sense and Signification of those that are undeniably genuine and true; and lastly, though some Expressions necessarily and visibly referring to the Humanity and Mission of the Son, or describing the Operations and Effects of the Holy Spirit, must be couched in Terms correspondent to the Ideas designed to be conveyed by them, yet they cannot possibly invalidate the Force, or lessen the Importance, of such as directly and evidendy express the Divinity and Personality of both: For in the present supposed Case of a Revelation from God himself, all, and every Article and Passage must in some Sense be true; and if any particular Passage will bear no Sense but a literal, though mysterious one, according to the general Rules of understanding all Writings, that Sense is without doubt to be put upon it.
Indeed if we do not understand and interpret the Scriptures by general and acknowledged Rules ; if we may put a literal or a figurative Sense upon any Expression, as our Argument may be best served by it, without regarding the manifest Design of the whole, we may disprove by scriptural Au
k See John i. i. I Cor. viii. 6. John v. 21. x. 30. xiv. 11. Col. i. 17. Heb. i. 3. Rev. i. 17, 18, &c. &c.
thority, thority, not only the Divinity, or Personality of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, but of God the Father also. We may prove God to be a mere Quality; for God is.Love; (1 John iv. 8.) We may prove him to be nothing but the Æther*, or a subtler kind of Matter; for God is Light; (1 John i. 5.) We may demonstrate him to be a Rock, a Fortress, a Tower, &c. (Psalm xviii. I.) the Absurdity of all which Constructions is too gross to be enlarged upon. In short, the Texts relative to the human Nature of Christ, and the Commission he had to discharge on Earth, are easily reconcileable with those that declare his Divine; but the Properties, Powers, and Attributes of Divinity ascribed to him, cannot with any Colour of Propriety be affirmed of a mere Man, or any created Being.
After all, 'tis no uncommon Thing to find Men making Mysteries, though they will not believe them, and industriously removing Difficulties, by establishing Impossibilities. If the sacred Theory be in some essential Particulars incomprehensible, the Inventions and Hypotheses of human Wit to subvert it, are at least equally so, and require the same Degree of Faith, without any thing like the same Foundation. It would be endless to enumerate the several Schemes which the Extravagance of Imagination has devised to evade the Force of the many clear Passages which evince the Doctrine
the Trinity: And the Absurdity of these Schemes is equal to their Presumption. They, who would make us believe with Socinus, that Jesus Chrijl had no Existence before he was born of a Woman, should acquaint us in what tolerable Sense he existed before Abraham, or by what Means he made the World; or, if he himself was made for this Purpose, and is only the Instrument, the Favourite, or the Deputy of God Almighty, (as some of his Followers, and others have held) we ought to have explained to us the Nature of a Created Creator, or a God by Delegation.—If the Holy Ghost be no more than a Quality, a Motion, or a Grace, let those whom it concerns ascertain to us the Idea of a Motion 1 teaching, m Searing Witness, "making Intercession; or of a Quality ° descending in a bodily Shape from Heaven.—It is easy indeed, were it but aS rational, to resolve every Expression in Scripture that is either too excellent for our Conceptions, or too delicate for our Passions, into Figure and Allegory: But this is an Expedient that plainly resolves away the very Principles and Vitals of Religion itself, and in it's Consequences must involve the Scope and Tendency not only of the speculative, but also of many of the practical Points of Christianity.
1 i Cor. ii. 13. "» Heb. x. 15. ■ Rom. viii. 26, &c, * Luke ill. 22.