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what occasion. About that time there sprang up a heresy of people called Arians, from one Arius, the leader of them. These denied our Saviour to be God, although they allowed all the rest of the gospel, wherein they were more sincere than their followers among us. Thus the Christian world was divided into two parts, till at length, by the zeal and courage of St Athanasius, the Arians were condemned in a general council, and a creed formed upon the true faith, as St Athanasius hath settled it. This creed is now read at certain times in our churches, which, although it is useful for edification to those who understand it, yet, since it contains some nice and philosophical points which few people can comprehend, the bulk of mankind is obliged to believe no more than the scripture doctrine, as I have already delivered it; because that creed was intended only as an answer to the Arians, in their own way, who were very subtle disputers.

But this heresy having revived in the world about a hundred years ago, and continued ever since; not out of a zeal to truth, but to give a loose to wickedness by throwing off all religion ; several divines, in order to answer the cavils of those adversaries to truth and morality, began to find out farther explanations of this doctrine of the Trinity, by rules of philosophy; which have multiplied controversies to such a degree, as to beget scruples that have perplexed the minds of many sober Christians, who otherwise could never have entertained them.

I must therefore be bold to affirm, that the method taken by many of those learned men to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, hath been founded upon a mistake.

It must be allowed, that every man is bound to follow the rules and directions of that measure of reason which God hath given him; and indeed he cannot do otherwise, if he will be sincere, or act like a man. For instance: if I should be commanded by an angel from heaven to believe it is midnight at noon-day, yet I could not believe him. So, if I were directly told in scripture that three are one, and one is three, I could not conceive or believe it in the natural common sense of that expression, but must suppose that something dark or mystical was meant, which it pleased God to conceal from me and from all the world. Thus in the text, “ There are Three that bear record,” &c. Am I capable of knowing and defining, what union and what distinction there may be in the divine nature, which possibly may be hid from the angels themselves ? Again, I see it plainly declared in scripture, that there is but one God; and yet I find our Saviour claiming the prerogative of God in knowing men's thoughts; in saying, “ He and his Father are one;" and s before Abraham was, I am.” I read, that the disciples worshipped him: that Thomas said to him,

My Lord and my God:” and St John, chap. i. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” I read likewise, that the Holy Ghost bestowed the power of working miracles, and the gift of tongues, which, if rightly considered, is as great a miracle as any, that a number of illiterate men should of a sudden be qualified to speak all the languages then known in the world-such as could be done by the inspiration of God alone. From these several texts it is plain, that God commands us to believe there is a union, and there is a distinction; but what that union, or what that distinction is, all mankind are equally ignorant, and must continue so, at least till the day of judgment, without some new revelation.

But because I cannot conceive the nature of this union and distinction in the divine nature, am I therefore to reject them as absurd and impossible, as I would if any one told me that three men are one, and one man is three? We are told, that a man and his wife are one flesh; this I can comprehend the meaning of; yet, literally taken, it is a thing impossible. But the apostle tells us, “ We see but in part, and we know but in part;" and yet we would comprehend all the secret ways and workings of God.

Therefore I shall again repeat the doctrine of the Trinity, as it is positively affirmed in scripture: that God is there expressed in three different names, as Father, as Son, and as Holy Ghost: that each of these is God, and that there is but one God. But this union and distinction are a mystery utterly unknown to mankind.

This is enough for any good Christian to believe on this great article, without ever inquiring any farther. And this can be contrary to no man's reason, although the knowledge of it is hid from him.

But there is another difficulty of great importance among those who quarrel with the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as with several other articles of Christianity; which is, that our religion abounds in mysteries, and these they are so bold as to revile as cant, imposture, and priestcraft. It is impossible for us to determine, for what reasons God thought fit to communicate some things to us in part, and leave some part a mystery: but so it is in fact, and so the holy scriptures tell us in several places. For instance: the resurrection and change of our bodies are called myste

ries by St Paul; our Saviour's incarnation is another: the kingdom of God is called a mystery by our Saviour, to be only known to his disci. ples; so is faith and the word of God by St Paul. 1 omit many others. So that to declare against all mysteries, without distinction or exception, is to declare against the whole tenor of the New Testament.

There are two conditions, that may bring a mystery under suspicion. First, when it is not taught and commanded in holy writ; or, secondly, when the mystery turns to the advantage of those who preach it to others. Now, as to the first, it can never be said, that we preach mysteries without warrant from holy scripture, although I confess this of the Trinity may have sometimes been explained by human invention, which might perhaps better have been spared. As to the second, it will not be possible to charge the

protestant priesthood with proposing any temporal advantage to themselves by broaching, or multiplying, or preaching of mysteries. Does this mystery of the Trinity, for instance, and the descent of the FIoly Ghost, bring the least profit or power to the preachers ? No; it is as great a mystery to themselves as it is to the meanest of their hearers; and may be rather a cause of humiliation, by putting their understanding, in that point, upon a level with the most ignorant of their flock. It is true, indeed, the Roman church hath very much enriched herself by trading in mysteries, for which they have not the least authority from scripture, and which were fitted only to advance their own temporal wealth and grandeur; such as transubstantiation, the worshipping of images, indulgences for sins, purgatory, and masses for the dead ; with many more.

But it is

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the perpetual talent of those who have ill-will to
our church, or a contempt for all religion, taken
up by the wickedness of their lives, to charge us
with the errors and corruptions of
all protestants have thrown off near two hundred
years: whereas those mysteries held by us, have
no prospect of power, pomp, or wealth, but have
been ever maintained by the universal body of
true believers from the days of the apostles, and
will be so to the resurrection; neither will the
gates of hell prevail against them.

It may be thought, perhaps, a strange thing, that God should require us to believe mysteries, while the reason or manner of what we are to believe is above our comprehension, and wholly concealed from us: neither doth it appear at first sight, that the believing or not believing them doth concern either the glory of God, or contribute to the goodness or wickedness of our lives. But this is a great and dangerous mistake. We see what a mighty weight is laid upon faith, both in the Old and New Testament. In the former we read, how the faith of Abraham is praised, who could believe that God would raise from him a great nation, at the very time that he was commanded to sacrifice his only son, and despaired of any other issue: and this was to him a great mystery. Our Saviour is perpetually preaching faith to his disciples, or reproaching them with the want of it: and St Paul produceth numerous examples of the wonders done by faith. And all this is highly reasonable: for, faith is an entire dependence upon the truth, the power, the justice, and the mercy of God; which dependence will certainly incline us to obey him in all things. So that the great excellency of faith consists in the consequence it hath upon our actions: as,


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