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himself, how hard a thing it is, not to be borne down with the current of the blood and spirits; and accordingly layeth some part of the blame upon the weakness of human nature, for he hath felt the force and rapidity of it within his own breast; although, perhaps, in another instance, he remembereth how it rageth and swelleth by opposition; and, although it may be restrained, or diverted for a while, yet it can hardly ever be totally subdued.
Or, has the man sinned out of custom? he then, from his own experience, traceth a habit into the very first rise and imperfect beginnings of it; and can tell by how slow and insensible advances it creepeth upon the heart; how it worketh itself, by degrees, into the very frame and texture of it, and so passeth into a second nature; and consequently he hath a just sense of the great difficulty for him to learn to do good, who hath been long accustomed to do evil.
Or, lastly, hath a false opinion betrayed him into a sin? he then calleth to mind what wrong apprehensions he hath made of some things himself; how many opinions, that he once made no doubt of, he hath, upon a stricter examination, found to be doubtful and uncertain ; how many more to be unreasonable and absurd. He knoweth farther, that there are a great many more opinions that he hath never yet
examined into at all, and which, however, he still believeth, for no other reason, but because he hath believed them so long already without a reason.
Thus, upon every occasion, a man intimately acquainted with himself
, consulteth his own neart, and maketh every man's case to be his own, and so puts the most favourable interpretation upon it. Let every man therefore look into his own
heart, before he beginneth to abuse the reputation of another; and then he will hardly be so absurd as to throw a dart that will so certainly rebound and wound himself. And thus, through the whole course of his conversation, let him keep an eye upon that one great comprehensive rule of Christian duty, on which hangeth not only the law and the prophets, but the very life and spirit of the Gospel too: “Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them.” Which rule that we may all duly observe, by, throwing aside all scandal and detraction, alí spite and rancour, all rudeness and contempt, all rage and violence, and whatever tendeth to make conversation and commerce either uneasy or troublesome, may the God of peace grant, for Jesus Christ his sake, &c.
Consider what hath been said ; and the Lord give you a right understanding in all things. To whom, with the Son and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, now and for ever.
ON THE TRINITY.
FIRST PRINTED IN 1744.
FIRST EPISTLE GENERAL OF JOHN, v.7.
For there are Three that bear record in Heaven, the
Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost ; and these Three are One..
[Of this discourse lord Orrery has said, “ It is indeed a sermon, The best illustration of the dean's intentions in preaching this
and one of the best of its kind. The mysterious parts of our religion are apt to have dreadful effects upon weak minds. The general comments upon the Sacred Writings, and the several sermons upon the most abstruse points of Scripture, are too often composed in the gloomy style. Damnation, eternal damnation, is placed with all its horror before our eyes; and we are so terrified at the prospect, that fear makes us imagine we can comprehend mysteries, which, on this side the grave, must be for ever denied to limited understandings. Swift has taken the safest and the properest method of expounding these arcana. He advances every position that can be established upon so incomprehensible a subject. He sustains the belief, avows the doctrine, and adapts the matter of faith, as well as possible, to the human capacity. His manner of reasoning is masterly, and his arguments are nervous,"
sermoni, occurs amongst his 'Thoughts on Religion. “ To remove opinions fundamental in religion is impossible, and the attempt wicked, whether those opinions be true or false, unless your avowed design be to abolish that religion altogether. So, for instance, are the famous doctrine of Christ's divinity, which has been universally received by all bodies of Christians, since the condemnation of Arianism under Constantine and his successors; wherefore the proceedings of the Socinians are both vain and unwarrantable, because they will never be able to ad. vance their own opinion, or meet any other success, than breed: ing doubts and disturbances in the world. Qui ratione sua disturbant mænia mundi.The want of belief is a defect that ought to be concealed, when it cannot be overcome. The Christian religion, in the most early times, was proposed to the Jews and heathens without the article of Christ's divinity, which I remember Erasmus accounts for, by its being too strong a meat for babes. Perhaps if it were now softened by the Chinese missionaries, the conversion of these infidels would be less difficult; and we find by the Alcoran, it is the great stumblingblock of the Mahometans. But in a country already Christian, to bring so fundamental a point of faith into dispute, can have no consequences that are not pernicious to morals and public peace."
This day being set apart to acknowledge our belief in the Eternal Trinity, I thought it might be proper to employ my present discourse entirely upon that subject; and I hope to handle it in such a manner, that the most ignorant among you may return home better informed of your duty in this great point, than probably you are at present.
It must be confessed, that, by the weakness and indiscretion of busy, or at best of well-meaning people, as well as by the malice of those who are enemies to all revealed religion, and are not con
tent to possess their own infidelity in silence, without communicating it, to the disturbance of mankind; I say, by these means, it must be confessed, that the doctrine of the Trinity hath suffered very much, and made Christianity suffer along with it. For these two things must be granted: first, that men of wicked lives would be very glad there were no truth in Christianity at all; and, secondly, if they can pick out any one single article in the Christian religion, which appears not agreeable to their own corrupted reason, or to the arguments of those bad people who follow the trade of seducing others, they presently conclude, that the truth of the whole gospel must sink along with that one article. Which is just as wise, as if a man should say, because he dislikes one law of his country, he will therefore observe no law at all; and yet that one law may be
very reasonable in itself, although he does not allow it, or does not know the reason of the lawgivers.
Thus it hath happened with the great doctrine of the Trinity; which word is indeed not in the scripture, but was a term of art invented in the earlier times to express the doctrine by a single word, for the sake of brevity and convenience. The doctrine then, as delivered in holy scripture, though not exactly in the same words, is very short, and amounts only to this; that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are each of them God, and yet there is but one God. For as to the word Person, when we say there are three Persons; and as to those other explanations in the Athanasian Creed, this day read to you (whether compiled by Athanasius or not), they were taken up three hundred years after Christ, to expound this doctrine; and I will tell you upon