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and full of gross Absurdities, and Contradictions. And then, as a natural Consequence from this Doctrine, I (secondly) concluded that those Divine Perfons differed only in teoro imcípžsas, in the manner of their Existence. And yet what that can signifie in the Son, according to this Doctrine, it will not, I think, be very easy intelligibly to declare.
That the Difference can be only Modal, even Dr. South bath fully demonstrated : And that this was the Opinion generally received from the fourth Century, may be seen in the close of my first Part to Dr. Waterland. And
yet ! the Right Reverend Bishop Bull (a) positively affirms, “That this is rank Sabellianism in these Words, ' • A Person can't be conceived without El
fence, unless you make a Person in Divine Matters
to be nothing else but a mere Mode of Existence, · which is manifest Sabellianism.' And the judicious Dr. Cudworth, (b) tells us, " That the Orthodox • Anti-Arian Fathers did all of them zealously con
demn Sabellianism, the Doctrine whereof is no other but this, That there is but one Hypostasis, or single individual Elence of the Father, Son, and
Holy Ghost; and consequently that they were indeed ; but three Names, or Notions, or Modes, of one " and the self-Same thing. Wbence such Absurdities
as these would follow, That the Father's begetting
the Son was nothing but a Name, Notion, or • Mode of one Deity begetting another ; or else the
fanne Deity under one Notion begetting it self under • another Notion. And when again the Son, or
Word is said to be incarnate, and to have suffered
(a) Addo ego, Personam fine Essentiâ concipi non posse, nili ftatueris Personam in Divinis nihil aliud esse quam merum Tpórow i'w depžews. quod plane Sabellianum, 1. 4. p. 439.
(6) Cud. Syftem, ch. 4. p. 605.
but a mere logical Notion, or Mode of the Deity i under one particular Notion or Mode only.
That the Doitrine of the Sabellians was exaftly the Jame with that of those who stile themselves the Orthodox, asserting that the Father, and the Son, are numerically one and the same God, is evident from the Words of Athanasius (a) and Epiphanius ; both (b) testifying, That to say the Father and the Son were novościon or tablościer, of one and the fame Substance was Sabellianism. And surely, of Consequence to contend that this is the Doitrine of the Church of England, is to dishonour our Church, and in Effect to charge her wits that Heresy, which was exploded with Scorn by the whole Church of Christ, from the third to this present Century.
In a Word, all other Notions of the Word Person, besides the plain and obvious one, signifying a real and intelligent Agert, have been already to excellently baffled and learnedly confuted * that I own I am not able to resist the shining Evidence of Truth: Nor am I ashamed to confess my former Mistakes and Errors in these Matters after such strong and irresistible Coilviction, seeing, Humanum eft errare, all Men are liable to Error. And as upon this Principle, I can'not but think it the most gross Hypocrisy, after such Conviction, to perfijt in a Mistake ; so without Question, it is the greatest Abuse of Humility and free Thinking, to attribute such open and ingenuous Acknowledgements to a wavering Judgment, or levity of Mind.
(a) Ουτε δ υίο πάτερα φρονούμεν ως οι Σαβέλλιου μονούσιον. Expos. Fidei p. 241.
(6) Και ου λέγομεν ταυτοέσιον, ίνα μή και λέξις ωρα τισι λεγομένη Ex Btania ameixa. Anomeorum Herefis, 76. N. 7.
See Dr. Clarke, Mr.'Jackson, and others.
Neithir are there wanting Examples of good and great Men amongst the Antients to bear me out in ibis Matter. St. Cyprian (a) frankly confejles, in bis Epistle to Antonianus, that he was formerly in the rigid Opinion of Tertullian, that the Peace of the Church was never to be given to Adulterers, to Mur therers, and Idolaters ; and having changed bis Opinion, he apologizes for it by saying, “ Mea apud
te & Perfona & Caufa purganda est, ne me aliquis existimet a proposito meo leviter decefile ; & cum Evangelicum Vigorem primo & inter initia defenderim, postmodum videar animum meum a Disciplina
& Censura priore flexise. And this honest procedure which he practised himself, he also approved in others, saying, (6) Non quia semel erratum eft, ideo semper errandum esse, cum magis sapientibus & Deum timentibus congruat, patefactæ veritati libenter & incunctanter obsequi, quam pertinaciter, atque obsti-natè relu&tari ; That a Man's having once erred, is not a Reason why he should continue to do so, for that it becomes wise Men, and such as fear God, to yield freely and readily to Truth, whenever made known to them, rather than to persist obstinately in rejecting it.
St. Austin was not more renowned for any of his Works, than for his two Books of Retractations, in which he confeleih all the Errors he had committed in all bis other Writings.
And this my Retractation, or Change of my Opinion, after all my former Endeavours to asert and establish a contrary Doctrine, deserves the more to be considered, because it proceeds (and indeed can proceed) from me for no other Reason, but purely from the
(a) Epist. 55
jtrong and irresistible Convi&tions, which are now up on me, that I was mistaken.
Nothing, I say, but the love of Truth can be fupposed to extort such a Retractation from me, who baving already lived so long beyond the common Period of Life, can have nothing else to do but to prepare for my great Change ; and in order thereunto to make my Peace with God, and my own Conscience before I die. To this purpose I solemnly appeal to the Searcher of Hearts, and call God to Witness, whether I have hastily, or rashly departed from the common Opinion ; or rather, whether I have not deliberately and calmly weighed the Arguments on both Sides drawn from Scripture and Antiquity ?
As I have no Views for this World ; so it cannot be imagined, that the Motives drawn from Interest, Ambition, or fecular Glory, can have any Place with
Or if I bad, neither can it be imagined that I would choose to dissent from the receivd Opinion, the Maintainers whercof are they who grasp Honours. and Preferments, and think they have the best Title to those Advantages.
So that upon the whole, if I have erred in change ing my Opinion, I desire it may be observed, that my Error bath neither Prejudice, nor secular Views to support it ; and that my Mistake (if such it will be reputed) bath been all along attended with constant Prayers to the Throne of Grace, and what hath ah way appeared to me to be the strongest Reason, and most undeniable Evidence.
And even yet, if any will be so kind, as in the Spirit of Meekness, to answer the Arguments I have produced to justify my Change, if it please God to give me the fame Degree of Health, and Soundness of Mind, which, by his Blessing and Goodness, I now enjoy, I promise sincerely to consider them, and to at suitably
to the Strength of the Argument; but if any such An: fwer is attempted with angry Invectives, and haughty Sophistry, aiming to be wise above what is Written, Í must say, pués copes Ey áo tep to pešv, i. e. I must remain in my present Sentiments ; having in this short Treatise seriously considered all that I had said in
Commentary to the contrary, and fully answered the most considerable Places I had then produced for Confirmation of the Do&trines I there too haftily endeavoured to establish.
I conclude with those Words of St. Austin : Errare possum, hæreticus elle nolo, that is, I may err, but I will not be an Heretick : As yet I must be in St. Paul's Sense, * if I would aɛt against the Dictates, and strong Convictions of my Conscience. He having expresy said, That a Heretick is one who is évtoxa té xpila, condemned in his own Conscience for what be doth assert. Now that the God of Truth would give to me, and all others, a right Understanding in all things, is the Prayer of,
* Titus, 3. 10, 11.