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infinite and finite, uncreated and created, to receive our addresses, and to be the objects of our love, faith, hope, confidence, and religious adoration.
Query XXIII. Whether the Doctor's notion of the Trinity be more clear
and intelligible than the other ? The difficulty in the conception of the Trinity is, how three
Persons can be one God. Does the Doctor deny that every one of the Persons, singly,
is God? No: Does he deny that God is one ? No: How
then are three one ? Does one and the same authority, exercised by all, make
them one, numerically or individually one and the same God? That is hard to conceive how three distinct Beings, according to the Doctor's scheme, can be individually one
God, that is, three Persons one Person. If therefore one God necessarily signifies but one Person,
the consequence is irresistible; either that the Father is that one Person, and none else, which is downright Sabel
lianism; or that the three Persons are three Gods. Thus the Doctor's scheme is liable to the same difficulties
with the other. There is indeed one easy way of coming off, and that is, by
saying that the Son and Holy Spirit are neither of them God, in the Scripture-sense of the word. But this is cutting the knot, instead of untying it; and is in effect to
say, they are not set forth as divine Persons in Scripture. Does the communication of divine powers and attributes
from Father to Son and Holy Spirit, make them one God, the divinity of the two latter being the Father's divinity ? Yet the same difficulty recurs; for either the Son and Holy Ghost have distinct attributes, and a dis; tinct divinity of their own, or they have not : if they have, they are (upon the Doctor's principle) distinct Gods from the Father, and as much as finite from infinite, creature from Creator; and then how are they one? If they have not, then, since they have no other divinity, but that individual divinity, and those attributes which are inseparable from the Father's essence, they can have no distinct essence from the Father's; and so (according to the Doctor) will be one and the same Person, that is, will
be names only. Q. Whether this be not as unintelligible as the orthodox notion of the Trinity, and liable to the like difficulties: a communication of divine powers and attributes, without the substance, being as hard to conceive, nay, much harder, than a communication of both together?
YOU are pleased to say, that “ had the author at all “ understood Dr. Clarke's books, he would not have « offered these considerations, they are such gross mis“ takes,” (p. 105.) It might be very pardonable to mistake the Doctor, who deals much in general and ambiguous terms; and I am the more excusable, as mistaking on the tender and candid side. I must own to you, I was not then aware, that the Doctor had denied Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be one God. I did not apprehend, he would scruple to call them all together one God; because that would be manifestly excluding Son and Holy Ghost from the one Godhead; and then our dispute about his meaning would be perfectly at an end. I should have been very unwilling to make sò home a charge as that upon him: but since you are a friend, and declare in pùblic that this is his meaning, so it shall be hereafter. And now, I will not ask how three Persons can be one God, upon the Doctor's principles; but I will put the question thus: How can it be true (upon the Doctor's principles) that every Person of the Trinity is God; and true likewise, that there is but one God? The question or difficulty being thus fairly stated, I conceive that my reasoning against the other will, in the main, hold good against this too; only mutatis mutandis. Now then, clear me up this difficulty in the Doctor's scheme, and free it from self-contradiction, if you are able. I have been searching diligently several pages of your answer, to see if I might find any thing like a solution: but I perceive, at length, you was so wise as to drop it. You was to tell me how, notwithstanding that there are three divine Persons, (that is, Gods, according to you,) there is still but one God. But instead of this, you run wandering wide and far, to show how three may be one. What? Three Gods one God? That was what I asked; the rest is not pertinent, but foreign to the point. Finding so little satisfaction from you, in a point so material, in the very pinch of the question between the Doctor and us, I thought proper to have recourse to the Doctor's books again ; to see if any thing could be found there to our present purpose.
I perceived, that “ e dominion and authority,” according to him, “ make God to be 'God." Upon this principle, he supposes the Son, “ f by nature truly God, having “ true divine power and dominion :” and he says, “ g The “word God, in Scripture, is always a relative word of “office, signifying personal dominion.” The obvious conclusion, from these premises, is, that if dominion and authority, such as make any Person truly God, be lodged in three Persons; those three Persons, upon the Doctor's principles, must be three Gods. The Doctor being sensible of this difficulty in his scheme, and not being able to solve it, nor willing to profess three Gods, tries to disguise and elude it. He asks; “h Why must three divine Beings, “ of necessity, be conceived as three Gods ?” The answer is very easy: Because three divine Beings, or Persons, is exactly the same, in other words, with three Gods, upon his principles; and because every one of the three is supposed to have personal dominion, that very dominion which is sufficient to make a Person truly God; and such as makes God to be God. He goes on to distinguish the three Persons by the names of God, Lord, and Holy Spirit; as if he had forgot, or had no mind to own, that either of the two last is God. He proceeds: “ They can “ no more truly be said to be three Gods, than each of “ them, singly, can be truly said to be the God and Fa66 ther of all, who is above all; which is the Apostle's “ definition of the one supreme God.” But this is not to the purpose; unless no one can be God, that is not the supreme God. If the Doctor says that, he contradicts himself strangely; having took a great deal of pains to show that the Son, though not the supreme God, is yet truly God, having true divine power and dominion. If he thinks the Apostle's definition of God to be better than his own, why did he not stand to it? And then it would be seen plainly, that his meaning is, that no one can be God but the Father ; which is making short work with the doctrine of the divine Trinity, and striking out Son and Holy Ghost at once. It is evident to a demonstration, that the three Persons are, upon the Doctor's hypothesis, as really and truly three Gods, as that every one, singly, is God: and therefore either let him say plainly, that there are three Gods; or that neither the Son nor the Holy Ghost is God. The difficulty then still remains unanswered; how (upon the Doctor's principles) three Persons can be every one, singly, God; and yet Scripture say true, that there is but one God. . And now, I return to you again, whom I left instructing the reader, very particularly, how three may be one; viz. in agreement of mind, in their joint care of the Church, in testimony, &c. which might have been pertinent, had I been arguing from the text, “ I and my Father are one;" or from 1 Joh. v. 7. But your answering so copiously to what I did not ask, and slipping over the main difficulty, looks as if you were more concerned how to keep your reader from the sight of the question, than how to give him any reasonable satisfaction. The first pertinent thing I meet with from you is in page 108, where you charge me with a manifest erșor, for supposing it Sabellianism to make the one God but one Person ; namely, the Person of the Father. What I assert is, that it is Sabellianism to say, that there is but one who is God, one Person only, instead of one nature: or to suppose the Godhead to be but one single Hypostasis ; or novongównos, a Father without his substantial Word or Spirit eternally and essentially subsisting with him and from him. This is what I maintain, and what you will not be able to disprove. But let us see how you go about it. « One God,” you say, “ is “ one Person only; otherwise one Person could not be “ one God.” . I answer, that no one Person is one God, exclusively of the other two Persons. You add, “ if one “ God be two Persons or more, it is impossible for one “ Person to be God.” When we say one Person is God, we mean that he is a divine Hypostasis, Deitatem habens, as the schools speak: but when we say God is three Persons, we understand it of the divine essence, or substance: so that the word God is sometimes taken essentially and sometimes personally, which makes the difference. You proceed: “ The defenders of the scholastic notion” (you mean the defenders of the Trinity in unity) “ profess the “ Father alone, and distinct from the Son and Spirit, is “ God, or the one God.” Very true: in the personal sense before mentioned, distinct from, not exclusive of, the Son and Holy Spirit. In the same sense, either of the other Persons is God, and the one God.' There is a farther reason, why the Father is peculiarly and eminently styled the one God: not to exclude the other Persons ; but to signify his priority of order, as Father, and as Fountain of all. Thus I have answered your reasons, which you are pleased to call demonstration; though it is manifest that, all along in your reasoning, you take it for granted, that God is one Person only, and suppose the very thing in question. You next proceed to confute my assertion, that the making the one God but one Person is Sabellian. And you say thus : “ If by one Person he " means one intelligent agent, he makes the Sabellians “ Catholics, and condemns his own friends for Tritheists.”. I certainly mean a real Person, an Hypostasis, no mode, attribute, or property, as you might easily have perceived. The charge of Tritheism I have sufficiently answered before, and returned it to its proper owners. I shall only
8 Ib. p. 290,
e Reply, p. 301.
Ib. p. 81.