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shown us what body of men, or what y single man, ever taught that doctrine, which you take so much pains to confute. Let me now propose a difficulty, much of the same kind, and nearly in the same words, to you; only to convince you that objections of this nature are not peculiar to the doctrine of the Trinity, but affect other points likewise, whose truth or certainty you make no manner of doubt of. What I mean to instance in, is God's omnipresence : that God, the same individual God, is every where, you will readily allow; and also that the substance of God, is God. Now, will you please to tell me, whether that divine substance, which fills heaven, be the same individual substance with that which filleth all things? If it be not the same individual substance, (as by your reasoning it cannot,) it remains only that it be specifically the same; and then the consequence is, that you make not one substance in number, but many; the very thing which you charge the doctrine of the Trinity with. But farther, the divine substance is in heaven; that is without question: now, I ask, whether the substance which fills heaven, be part only of that substance, or the whole? If it be part only, then God is not in heaven, but a part of God only; and the attributes belonging to the whole substance cannot all be contracted into any one part, without defrauding the other parts; and therefore there can be only part of infinite power, part of infinite wisdom, part of infinite knowledge, and so for any other attribute. For if you say, that the whole infinite wisdom, power, &c. residing in the whole, is common to every part, “ it is” (to use your own words) “ so flagrant a contra“ diction, that I question whether there can be a greater “ in the nature and reason of things.” Can the same individual power, wisdom, &c. be communicated, and not communicated? Or, can there be a communication, and nothing communicated? For it is supposed, that the whole wisdom, power, &c. is communicated to one particular párt; and yet remains whole and uncommunicated in the other parts; “which is evidently to be, and not to be, at the same time.” If you tell
y As to your gird upon Tertullian, in your notes, I refer you to Bull, D.F. p. 95. for an answer.
and whole are not properly applied to wisdom, power, &c. I shall tell you again, that they are (for any thing you or I know) as properly applied to the attributes, as they are to the subject; and belong to both, or neither. And since you are pleased to talk of parts and whole of God's substance, of which you know little, give me leave to talk in the same way, where I know as little. The learned Doctor represents it as a great solecism to speak of an z ell, or a mile of consciousness. He may be right in his observation : but the natural consequence deducible from it is, that thought is not compatible with an extended subject. For there is nothing more unintelligible, or, seemingly at least, more repugnant, than unextended attributes in a subject extended : and many may think that an ell, or a mile of God (which is the Doctor's notion) is as great a solecism as the other. Perhaps, after all, it would be best for both of us to be silent, where we have really nothing to say: have begun,
I must go on with the argument, about the omnipresence, a little farther. Well, if it cannot be part only of the divine substance, which is in heaven, since God is there, and since all the perfections and attributes of the Deity have there their full exercise; let us say that the whole divine substance is there. But then how can he be omnipresent? Can the same individual substance be confined and unconfined? Or can there be a diffusion of it every where, and yet nothing diffused ? For it is supposed that the whole essence or substance is diffused all over the universe, and yet remains whole and undiffused in heaven. Which, again, is “ evidently to be, " and not to be, at the same time.'
I should hardly forgive myself, upon any other occasion, such trifling in serious things. If you take to this kind of reasoning (which is really not reasoning, but run
but as you
ning riot with fancy and imagination) about matters infinitely surpassing human comprehension, you will make lamentable work of it. You may go on, till you reason, in a manner, God out of his attributes, and yourself out of your faith; and not know at last where to stop. For, indeed, all arguments, of this kind, are as strong for atheism, as they are against a Trinity: wherefore it concerns you seriously to reflect, what you are doing. This, and the like considerations, have made the wisest and coolest men very cautious how they listened to the rovings of wanton thought, in matters above human comprehension. The pretended contradictions, now revived by many, against the doctrine of the Trinity, are very old and trite. They were long ago objected to the Christians, by the heathen idolaters. They almost turned the heads of Praxeas, Noëtus, Sabellius, Manichæus, Paul of Samosata; not to mention Arius, Nestorius, Eutyches, and other ancient heretics. The Catholics were sensible of them: but having well considered them, they found them of much too slight moment, to bear up against the united force of Scripture and tradition. The doctrine of the Trinity, with all its seeming contradictions, has stood the test, not only of what human wit could do, by way of dispute; but of all that rage and malice could contrive, through a persecution almost as bitter and virulent, as any that had ever been under heathen emperors. This is to me an additional confirmation, that the doctrine we profess is no such gross imposition upon the common sense and reason of mankind, as is pretended. It was neither force nor interest that brought it in; nor that hath since, so universally, upheld it: and men are not generally such idiots, as to love contradictions and repugnancies, only for humour or wantonness, when truth and consistency are much better, and may be had at as easy a rate. These reflections have carried me rather too far: but they may have their use among such readers as know little of the history of this controversy; or how long it had been buried; till it pleased some amongst us to call it up again,
and to dress it out with much art and finesse; to take the populace, and to beguile the English reader. Many things have fallen under this Query, which properly belonged not to it. But it was necessary for me to pursue you, what way soever you should take. You was more at liberty: my method is determined by yours.
Query XX. Whether the Doctor need have cited 300 texts, a wide of the purpose, to prove what nobody denies, namely, a subordination, in some sense, of the Son to the Father; could he have found but one plain text against his eternity or consubstantiality, the points in question?
YOUR answer to this is very short, not to say negligent. You
“ if the Doctor's 300 texts prove a real “subordination, and not in name only, the point is gained
against the Querisť's notion of individual consubstantiality ; unless the same individual intelligent substance
can be subordinate to itself, and consubstantial with it“self.” Here you are again doubling upon the word individual. The Querist never had such a notion as that of personal consubstantiality, which is ridiculous in the sound, and contradiction in sense; and yet you are constantly putting this upon the Querist, and honouring him with your own presumptions. Let me again show you, how unfair and disingenuous this method is. Do not you say that the same individual substance is present in heaven, and, at the same time, filleth all things ? That it pervades the sun, and, at the same time, penetrates the moon also? I might as reasonably argue that you, by such positions, make the same individual substance greater and less than itself, remote and distant from itself, higher and lower than itself, to the right and to the left of itself, containing and contained, bounded and unbounded, &c. as you can pretend to draw those odd surprising consequences
· Clarke's Reply, p. 7.
upon the Querist. Would not you tell me, in answer, that I misinterpreted your sense of individual, and took advantage of an ambiguous expression ? Let the same answer serve for us; and you may hereafter spare your readers the diversion of all that unmanly trifling with an equivocal word. But enough of this matter. I might have expected of you, in your reply to this Query, one text or two to disprove the Son's eternity and consubstantiality, and to supply the deficiency of the Doctor's treatise: but since you have not thought fit to favour me with any, I must still believe that the Doctor's 300 texts, though very wide of the purpose, are all we are to expect; being designed, instead of real proof, to carry some show and appearance of it, that they may seem to make up in number what they want in weight. All that the learned Doctor proves by his 300 texts, or more, is only that the Son is subordinate to the Father: whether as a Son, or as a creature, appears not. However, the tacit conclusion which the Doctor draws from it, and insinuates carefully to his reader, is, that the Son is not strictly and essentially God; but a creature only. This inference we deny utterly; alleging that a subordination may be, and may be understood, between two persons, without the supposition of any inferiority of nature : but all the answer we can get to this is, that b nature and essence are obscure metaphysical notions; (which is neither true, nor to the purposé, nor consistently pleaded by one who builds so much upon self-existence, a metaphysical term, the word equivocal, and the notion sufficiently obscure.) And thus, as soon as the learned Doctor comes up to the pinch of the question, not being willing to own the force of what is urged, he very wisely dissembles it, and goes off in a mist of words.
I cannot but take notice, upon this occasion, of your charging us frequently, in an invidious manner, with the use we make of metaphysical terms. I know no reason
b Reply, p. 17, 19, 21.