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fed Trinity; I have in the First Part of the following Treatise, (that it might appear what was, not the Sound of single Texts which may be easily mistaken, but the whole Tenour of Scripture,) collected ALL the Texts that relate to that matter, (which I am not sensible has been done before,) and set them before the Reader in One View, with such References and Critical Observations, as may ('tis hoped) be of considerable Use towards the understanding of their true Meaning.
In the Second Part, is collected into methodical Propositions the Sum of that Do&rine, which (upon the carefullest consideration of the whole matter ) appears to me to be fully contained in the Texts cited in the first Part. And I have illustrated each Proposition with many Testimonies out of the Antient Writers, both before and after the Council of Nice; Especially out of Athanafius and Bafil; Of which, are several not taken notice of either by Petavius or the learned Bp Bull. Concerning all which, 1 desire it may be observed, that they are not alleged as Proofs of any of the Propositions, (for Proofs are to be taken from the Scripture alone,) but as Illustrations only; and to show how easy and natural That Notion must be allowed to be, which so many
Writers could not forbear expressing so clearly and distinAtly, even frequently when at the same time they were about to affirm, and endeavouring to prove, something not very consistent with it. The greatest part of the Writers before and at the time of the Council of Nice, were (I think) really of That Opinion, (though they do not always speak very clearly and consistently,) which I have endeavoured to set forth in those Propositions. But as to the Writers after that Time, the Reader must not wonder, if many Passages not consistent with (nay, perhaps contrary to) those which are here cited, shall by any One be alleged out of the same Authors. For I do not cite places out of these Authors, so much to show what was the Opinion of the Writers themselves, as to show how naturally Truth sometimes prevails by its own native clearness and evidence, even against the strongest and most settled prejudices: According to that of Basil: I am per “Ουτως διμαι το και fwaded (faith he) gdósews iqueģv?that the Strength of vñge Tonnexis To's árthe Toδίrine deli- δρας και τους οικείοις vered down to us, aut dózuaoi arti has often compelled aéquiv. De Spiritu
contradikt Sancto, cap. 29. their own Asertions.
In the Third Part there is, first, brought together a great number of Passages out of the Liturgy of the Church of England, wherein the Doctrine set forth in the former Parts is exprefly affirmed; And then in the next place are collected the principal Passages, which may seem at first sight to differ from That Doctrine: And these latter I have indeavoured to reconcile with the former, by fhowing how they may be understood in a Sense confistent both with the Doctrine of Scripture, and with the other before-cited Expressions of the Liturgy. And This is absolutely necessary to be done by every one, who when he prays with his Mouth, defires to pray with his Understanding also.
It is a thing very destructive of Reli. gion, and the Cause of almost all Divisions among Christians; when young persons at their first entring upon the Study of Divinity, look upon Humane and perhaps Modern Forms of speaking, as the Rule of their Faith; understanding These also according to the accidental Sound of the Words, or according to the Notions which happen at any particular Time to prevail among the Vulgar; and then picking out (as Proofs) some few single Texts of Scripture, which to minds already strongly prejudiced must needs seem to found, or may easily be accommodated,
the same way; while they attend not impartially to the whole Scope and general Tenour of Scripture. Whereas on the contrary, were the Scriptures first thoroughly studied, and seriously considered, as the Rule and Only Rule of Truth in matters of Religion ; and the Sense of all humane Forms and Expressions, deduced from thence; the greatest part of Errors, at least the greatest part of the uncharitable Divisions that have happened among Christians, might in all probability have been prevented. The different States, which the Controversies concerning Predestination, Original Sin, Freewill, Faith and good Works, and the do. ctrine of the ever-blessed Trinity, have at different Times gone through, are a sufficient Evidence of this Truth.
The Church of Rome indeed requires men to receive her particular Doctrines (or Explications of Doctrines) and Traditions, as part of the Rule it self of their Faith : And therefore with Them no good Christian can possibly comply. But the Protestant Churches, utterly disclaiming all such Authority; and requiring men to comply with their Forms, merely upon Account of their being agreeable to Scripture ; and consequently in fuch Sense only, wherein they are agreeable to Scripture ; 'tis plain that every person
may reasonably agree to such Forms, whenever he can in any sense at all reconcile them with Scripture.
The first Reformers, when they had laid aside what to Them seemed intolerable in the Doctrines of the Church of Rome, in other matters chose to retain the words they found ; yet declaring that they meant thereby to express only the Sense of Scripture, and not that of Tradition or of the Schools. If Tradition or Custom, if Carelesness or Mistake, either in the Compiler or Receiver, happen at any time to put a Sense upon any humane Forms, different from that of the Scripture, which those very Forms were intended to explain, and which is at the same time declared to be the only Rule of Truth ; 'tis' evident no man can be bound to understand those Forms in such Sense; nay, on the contrary, he is indispensably bound not to understand or receixa them in such Sense. For (as the learned Mr Thorndike. rightly observes, ) That which once was not Matter of Faith, can never by process of Time, or any At the Church can do, [or by any Interpretation of Words, that Custom or Carelesness or Contentiousness may have introduced,] become Matter of Faith. Epilog. Part II. pag. 155.