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who believe that the Son and Spirit out some public phrases, or happens are the true God; though they may to drop some popular argument in fall into very various and different that controversy, or excuses some sentiments about the way of ex doubtful text of scripture from that plaining it.
service. And yet this hath been And, in the last place, I have too often the shameful practice, and attempted to do all this in such the just reproach of many Chrisplain and easy language, that every tians, in whom the fury of an ignoprivate Christian, who reads this rant zeal has prevailed above the doctrine, may understand it, so far heavenly graces of light and love.* as is necessary, may be established At the same time I will take the in the scriptural proofs of it, and freedom to declare, that when a man may have his faith secured in this excepts against one argument for day of temptation.
any sacred truth as feeble, and Upon this account I have been treats another with jest and raillery; watchful against admitting those when he tells you this text is not Latin and Greek words and terms authentic, and the other has quite a of art, which have too often tended different sense ; when he cavils at to flatter the vanity of men, and to
this term because it is not expressly make them learned in mere words written in scripture, and will exand syllables; and which have of press the same truth in no terms at ten proved an incumbrance and all ; nor mention any one argument, burden to their faith, rather than its that is sufficient to prove it: I think support.
that man gives too just a suspicion Having these views and designs that he is no great friend to that ever in my eye, the judicious rea doctrine ; and if he should tell me, der will not wonder that I have I have no reason to deny his orthoomitted some forms of argument, doščy, yet I am sure at best there is and some texts of scripture, which reason enough to doubt of his pruhave often been called into this dence. But to proceed to my deservice. Some of these would, per
sign. haps, have led me to speak of some
The method which I have chosen particular scheme of explication is what the learned call analytic. which was contrary to my design. Beginning with the first and plainOthers did not strike me with the est principle of natural religion, same satifactory evidence, as some and then (supposing the revelation of my fathers or brethren have of scripture) I have attempted to found from them. And though I lead my reader onward to the most will not rob them of their argu easy and yet most satisfying eviments, yet I beg leave to produce
dence of this GLORIOUS MYSTERY of none but my own. And yet I may
the gospel. Nor did I think it necesbe bold to profess, that I believe sary to stand still often, to observe this sacred doctrine as firmly as and answer every objection. For those who think they can prove it these, many times, break in upon the by a multitude of scriptures which order of a discourse, and divert the I have omitted: And I hope this mind from the train of argument; may be a sufficient apology for any and as Dr. Knight well observes, in such omissions.
the preface to his late sermons on It is a most uncharitable and un this subject, “ Objecting is endless ; righteous thing, while a man is pro the pursuit of which wearies the fessing and proving any article of faith in most express language, and
* It would be well if those zealous adby convincing demonstrations, that
vocates for the truth, who hesitate not to he should be suspected of heresy,
rank Dr. Watts with Arius, Socinus, Dr. merely because he chooses to leave
Priestley, &c. &c. would attend to the above paragraph.
mind; draws it too far from the honours to the SACRED THREE, which main argument, and is' apt to leave is the great design for which this it in confusion and obscurity. Ho doctrine was revealed. And there.' nest hearts and common under by we shall effectually secure, and standings, whose concern it is ra evidence our own interest in the ther to discern truth than to know grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the the multiform windings of error, love of the Father, and the combeing once convinced of the good muníon of the Holy Spirit, Amen! ness of the proofs, that infer a doctrine, will be satisfied therewith; though they be not qualified to re There were many thousands of turn an answer to every objector. souls brought to the saving knowFor they well know that objections ledge of God, and trained up for must fall, where the proofs of a Heaven by the various revelations doctrine are clear and conclusive." which God gave to mankind before
I confess my thoughts, sometimes, our Lord Jesus Christ came into the ran out too far, in a defence of world. His own counsels and consome occasional positions, or inci trivances wrought, powerfully, for dental truths; but upon a review, I the salvation both of the Patriarchs have cut them all off from the body and the Jews, under those darker of this discourse, lest the thread of dispensations, without their partiit should be too much interrupted. cular and explicit knowledge of
After all our labours and studies, those divine methods, whereby that it is the good Spirit of God alone, very salvation was to be effected. who can lead us into all truth. If These were reserved as a “mystery he please, he can bless this little hidden from ages and generations, treatise, which is the fruit of retire to be revealed by the gospel in these ment, labour and prayer, and make later times. Therefore the gospel it useful to instruct the ignorant, to is called, The revelation of the settle the wavering, to guard those mystery which was kept secret that are tempted, and to recover since the world began, but now is those that have gone astray. To made manifest by a clear interprethis end I entreat my readers, that tation of the scriptures of the prosince it is but a little book, they phets, and made known to all nawould begin and read it through, tions for the obedience of faith, that they may see all the parts of Rom. xvi. 25, 26, i. e. That the nait in their proper connexion. Then tions might show their obedience to I presume they will not take of
a revealing God, by believing this fence at any single sentence which, doctrine, now it is clearly revealed, if separated from the rest of the and the prophecies, “concerning it,” work, might perhaps have given | explained. surprise or disgust to the weaker 'Tis this gospel that teaches us Christians.
how God the Father sent his own I conclude with an ardent ad Son to assume human nature, and dress to heaven, that the sacred therein to fulfil all righteousness, mysteries of our religion, and par and to make full satisfaction for our ticularly this doctrine, which con sins by his sufferings and death, in tains in it, and carries with it the order to restore us to the favour of substance and glory of the gospel, God. 'Tis this gospel that tells us, may prevail over all the clouds and how our Lord Jesus Christ ascendpowers of error. O may it never ed to heaven, and receiving from more be profaned by angry disputes, the Father the promise of the Spirit, and fruitless janglings; but be sends Him down to renew our nahumbly received and piously im tures to holiness, and to restore us proved, in order to pay necessary to the image of God. And 'tis this VOL. I.
gospel that calls us to believe and of the TRINITY, has some great and trust in this Lord Jesus Christ, the unsearchable difficulties, which atSon of God, in order to be restored tend its full explication ; such as the to the favour of God by his righte wisest men in all ages, have found ousness and death, and to be re too hard, and too high for their comnewed after the divine image, by prehension ; and yet it is as certain, the operations of the Holy SpỊRIT. that so much of this doctrine as is
Thus we are taught by the gos necessary to salvation, is plainly pel, what hand the Son and SPIRIT revealed in scripture, and so easy have in our salvation as well as the to be understood, that the unlearnFather. The FATHER appears, here, ed, and persons of the meanest caas our sovereign and offended go pacity, may attain the knowledge vernor, condescending to be recon of it. For, the “highway" to heaciled, and appointing this method ven, which was to be revealed under for our recovery. The Son of God the gospel, must be marked out appears as a Redeemer and Recon
with such plainness and evidence, ciler; and the SPIRIT of God as a that, “the wayfaring men, though sanctifier; and we are taught to fools, shall not err therein.” Is. get an actual interest in these bless. XXXV. 8. ings by faith.
It shall be my business, therefore, Upon this account, when we are at present, to lead the unlearned admitted into the profession of the Christian by soft and easy steps Christain faith, the names of the into this mystery, so far as may furFATHER, the Son and the Holy Spi nish him with a sufficient knowledge RIT, are joined together in the very of it, for his own salvation; and ceremony of admission. We are show him how to confirm and mainbaptized with this form of words, tain his belief of it by the plain eviaccording to the institution of
dence of scripture; and to secure Christ, Matt. xxviii. 19. “Go teach him from making shipwreck of his all nations, baptising them into the faith in a day of temptation. And I name of the FATHER, the Son and shall attempt this, without perplexthe Holy Ghost."
ing and embarrassing his mind with Thus, though the ancient Jews any of those various mazes of scheme and patriarchs might be saved with and hypotheses, which men of learnout an explicit knowledge of the ing have invented to explain and special methods of this salvation, defend this sacred article of the and the divine persons concerned Christian faith. in it, because they were not then The way wherein I shall pursue clearly revealed ; yet, since they this design, is by laying down the are clearly revealed to us by Christ following propositions, viz.: and his apostles in the New Testa I. There is a God. ment, and appointed to be a part of II. This God is the creator of all both our faith and our profession, things, the first and the eternal be'tis evident that some knowledge of ing, the greatest, the wisest, and the these divine persons, the Father, best of beings, the sovereign lord and the Son and the Spirit, and their se disposer of all his works, the righteveral sacred offices; or
ous governor of his intellectual quaintance with the doctrine of the creatures, and the proper object of BLESSED TRINITY, is now become a
their worship. necessary part of our religion. So III. There is, and there can be, that, I know not how any man can but one true God, but one such God properly be called a CHRISTIAN as agrees with the foregoing descripwithout it.
tion. It is indeed certain, and must be IV. Since there can be but one confessed, that this sacred doctrine God, the peculiar, divine and distin
guishing characters of Godhead cannot belong to any other being.
V. God, himself, is so jealous of his own honour, and so concerned to maintain the dignity of his Godhead, as never to suffer these peculiar distinguishing characters to be ascribed to any other besides himself.
VI. He is also so kind and faithful to his creatures, as to tell them what are these peculiar and distinguishing characters of Godhead, that they may not run into the mistake of ascribing them to any other.
VII. The peculiar and distinguishing characters of Godhead, are those NAMES, TITLES, ATTRIBUTES, WORKS, and WORSHIP, which God has assumed to himself in his word, exclusive of any other being; and has either asserted them, expressly, to belong to himself, or left it sufficiently evident in his word, that they belong to him alone.
VIII. Yet these very names, titles, attributes, works and worship, which are peculiar to God, and incommunicable to another, are ascribed to THREE, by God himself, in his word; which three are distinguished by the names of FATHER, Son, and SPIRIT.
IX. There are, also, some other circumstantial, but convincing evidences, that the Son and the SPIRIT true and
Godhead ascribed to them, as well as the FA
actions, characters and circumstances ascribed to these THREE, as are usually ascribed to three distinct PERSONS among men.
XIII. Therefore it has been the custom of the Christian church, in almost all ages, to use the word “PERSON,” in order to describe these three distinctions of FATHER, Son, and Spirit, and to call them three distinct PERSONS.
XIV. Though the sacred three are evidently and plainly discovered in scripture to be one and the same God, and three distinct personal agents, or persons, yet the scripture hath not, in plain and evident language, explained and precisely determined the particular way and manner, how these three persons are one God; or how this one Godhead is in three persons.
XV. Thence I infer, that it can never be necessary to salvation, to know the precise way and manner, how one Godhead subsists in these three personal agents, or how these three persons are one God.
XVI. Yet we ought to believe the general doctrine of the TRINITY, viz. that these three personal agents, Father, Son, and Spirit, have real communion in one Godhead, though we cannot find out the precise way and manner of explaining it.
XVII. And wheresoever we meet with any thing in scripture that is incommunicably divine, ascribed to either of these THREE PERSONS, we may venture to take it in the plain and obvious sense of the words, since we believe the true and eternal Godhead to belong to them all.
XVIII. Where any thing inferior to the dignity of Godhead, is really and properly attributed in scripture to the person of the Son, or the Holy Spirit, it may easily be imputed to some inferior nature, united to the Godhead, in that person, or to some inferior character or office sustained by that person.
XIX. Nor do these inferior nature or natures, character or agencies, at all hinder our firm belief of
X. Thence it necessarily follows, that these three, viz. THE FATHER, Son, and HOLY SPIRIT have such an intimate and real communion in that one GODHEAD, as is sufficient to justify the ascription of those peculiar and distinguishing divine characters to them.
XI. Since there is, and can be but one true God, these THREE, who have such a communion in GodHEAD, must properly be called THE ONE God, or THE ONLY TRUE God.
XII. Though THE FATHER, Son, and SPIRIT are but one God, yet there are such distinct properties,
the Godhead of these three persons;
ON TIIE DURATION OF FUTURE which is so plainly expressed in
PUNISHMENT. scripture; nor should it abate or diminish our most sacred regards to (Continued from page 204.) them.
II. Another class of texts is adXX. We are bound, therefore, to
duced in this controversy, which pay divine honours to each of the sa
are alleged to predicate God's wilCRED THREE, viz. THE FATHER, THE
lingness to save all the human famiSon, and the Holy SPIRIT, accord ly. To the superficial observer, ing to their distinct characters and
these texts will appear decisive. offices assigned to them in scripture. We shall quote some of the princiXXI. In so doing we shall effec
pal ones. Matt. xxiii. 37. “O Jerutually secure our own salvation.
salem! Jerusalem! who killest the For the scripture has made our sal
prophets, and stonest them that are vation to depend on those offices, sent unto thee: how often would I which these divine persons sustain,
have gathered thy children, as a hen and in the honours due to them, ac
gathereth her chickens under her cording to those offices, rather than
wings, and ye would not.” Ezek. upon any deep, philosophical no
xviii. 23. “ Have I any pleasure at tions of their essence and person all that the wicked should die, saith alities; any nice and exact acquaint the Lord God?" and verse 39, “ For ance with their mysterious union
I have no pleasure in the death of and distinction.
him that dieth ;” and chap. xxxiii. XXII. The man, therefore, who
11. “Say unto them, as I live, saith professes each of the sacred Three
the Lord, I have no pleasure in the to have sufficient divine
death of the wicked, but that the capacity to sustain the characters, wicked should turn from his way and fulfil the offices attributed to and live: turn ye,
from the them in scripture, and pays due ho evil of your ways, for why will ye nour to them according to those of die, o house of Israel?” 2 Peter fices, may justly be owned by me, iii. 9. "The Lord is not willing that and received as a Christian brother, any should perish, but that all should though we may differ much in our
come to repentance.” 1 Tim. ii. 4. notions and opinions about the ex * Who will have all men to be saved plication of the blessed Trinity, or and come to the knowledge of the though we may both be ignorant or truth.” Were there no other pordoubtful of the true way of explain-tions of sacred writ, with whose ing it.
meaning must be reconciled that of Now, if these propositions are the passages above cited, while they found agreeable to the mind and
present apparently a different view will of God in his words, then
may of the subject, we should consider his blessed Spirit furnish me with all controversy on the subject, not clearness of thought, with force of as simply puerile, but as blaspheargument, and happiness of expres mously audacious, in rushing on the sion, to explain and prove them, so thick bosses of Jehovah's buckler. far as to enlighten the understand Here we have the solemn oath of ing, and satisfy the consciences of Jehovah, that he has no pleasure in humble and sincere Christians, in the death of the sinner- his solemn this great and glorious doctrine of oath that he would rather the sinner the Trinity, that they may pay their should return and live. Let us distinct honours to the sacred three, state the amount in the strongest in this world of darkness and im terms in the language of a man of perfection, and walk on rejoicing in rare genius, whose work both detheir way to the world of perfect serves to be, and shall be, more fully light and happiness! Amen. noticed hereafter. “ What else can