Page images

ing and dethroning our Maker, Preserver, King, and Judge; and bringing him down to a level with his creatures.

Besides; we have many express cautions given us in Scripture, not to be wanting in our respects and services towards God the Son; but have no particular cautions against honouring him too much. We know that we ought to “honour him, even as we honour the Father;" which, if it be an ambiguous expression, we are very excusable in taking it in the best sense, and interpreting on the side of the precept. We know that by dishonouring the Son, we do, at the same time, dishonour the Father: but we are nowhere told, that the Father will resent it as a dishonour done to himself, if we should chance, out of our scrupulous regards to the Father and Son both, to pay the Son more honour than strictly belongs to him. On these and the like considerations, (especially when we have so many and so great appearances of truth, and such a cloud of authorities to countenance us in it,) the error, if it be one, seems to be an error on the right hand. Now you shall be heard again. “ Can any man think to please “ the Son of God, by giving that to him which he never “ claimed or could claim?” Positive enough. But will you please to remember that the Query supposes the case doubtful, (which was abundantly civil to you,) doubtful whether the Son of God has claimed it, or no; and the whole argument runs upon that supposition. This therefore discovers either some want of acumen, or great

marks of haste. You add; “ It can be no detraction from the “ dignity of any Person (how great soever that dignity “be) to forbear professing him to be that which he really “is not.” I perceive your thoughts are still absent'; and you do not reflect, that you are begging the question, instead of answering to the point in hand. You are to suppose it, if you please, doubtful, who or what the Person is. In such a case, it may be better to give him what he does not require, than to defraud him of what he does: it is safer and more prudent to run the risk of one, than of

[ocr errors]

the other. You go on;

“ It may well become serious and “ sincere Christians to consider, whether it is not possi“ble, that while, adventuring to be wise beyond what is “ written, they vainly think to advance the honour of the “Son of God, above what he has given them ground for “ in the Revelation, they may dishonour the Father " that sent him,” &c. I am weary of transcribing. Consider, on the other hand, whether it be not more than possible, that, while others adventuring to be wise beyond what is written, (teaching us to profess three Gods, making the Creator of the world a creature, inventing new unscriptural distinctions of a supreme and a subordinate worship, with many other things equally unscriptural and unwarrantable,) they vainly think to bring down mysteries to the level of their low understandings, and to search the “deep

things of God;" they may not dishonour both Father and Son, and run into heresy, blasphemy, and what not; and sap the

very foundations of the Christian religion. You proceed ; “ It may become them to consider what they “ will answer at the great day, should God charge them “ with not observing that declaration of his, I will not

give my glory to another.They may humbly make answer, that they understood that his glory was not to be given to creatures; and therefore they had given it to none but his own Son, and his Holy Spirit, whom they believed not to be creatures, nor other Gods; and whom himself had given his glory to, by commanding all men to be baptized in their names, equally with his own; and ordering particularly, that “ all men should honour the

Son, even as they honour the Father.” If they happened to carry their respect too high, yet it was towards those only whom.' the Father principally delighteth to honour; and towards whom an ingenuous, grateful, and well-disposed mind can hardly ever think he can pay too much. Upon these and the like considerations they may humbly hope for pity and pardon for a mistake; such an one as the humblest, most devote, and most conscientious men might be the aptest to fall into.

But what must an Arian have to say, at that great day, if it appears that he has been uttering blasphemies against the Son of God, and reviling his Redeemer, (the generality of sober Christians looking on, all the while, with horror; shocked at the impiety; and openly declaring and protesting against it,) and for no other reasons, in the last result, but because he thought generation implied division, and necessary generation implied outward coaction; and he could not understand whether the unity should be called specific or individual, nor how there came to be three Persons; nor why one might not have been as good as three; nor why the Father should be said to beget the Son, rather than vice versa; and the like? Is this kind of reasoning suitable to, or becoming Christians, who have their Bible to look into; which alone can give any satisfaction in these matters? To go upon our own fancies and conjectures, in a thing of this kind, is only betraying too little reverence for the tremendous and unsearchable nature of God, and too high an opinion of our own selves, You have a farther pretence, built upon your mistaken notion of individual, which I need not take notice of; having already almost surfeited the reader with it.

QUERY XXXI. Whether any thing less than clear and evident demonstra

tion, on the side of Arianism, ought to move a wise and good man, against so great appearances of truth on the side of orthodoxy, from Scripture, reason, and antiquity; and whether we may not wait long before find such demonstration?


IN your answer to this, I am rebuked, first, for giving the name of orthodoxy to a scholastic notion; and, secondJy, for calling your doctrine Arianism. As to the first, I stand so far corrected, as to beg the privilege of. using the word orthodoxy, for the received doctrine. You are pleased to call it a scholastic notion. How far it is scholastic, I do not certainly know; but sure I am that it is primitive and Catholic; and I do not know that the Schoolmen were heretics in this article. If they were; so far, you may depend upon it, our notion is not scholastic. As to your doctrine being justly called Arianism, I hope, without offence, I may say, I have made it plain to a demonstration, (excepting only that, in some particulars, you fall below Arianism,) and I should advise you hereafter, for your own sake, to dispute so clear a point no farther. But let us go on. You add : “ If it be impossi“ ble, by the rule of Scripture and reason, and the sense “ of the most ancient writers and councils of the Church, “ that the scholastic notion should be true; and if there “ be no medium betwixt (the scholastic notion) and the “ notion of Dr. Clarke, (that is, Arianism,) then it will be “ demonstrated that (Arianism) is the true doctrine of Je

sus Christ and his Apostles, as revealed in Scripture, ci and the true sense of Scripture interpreted by right rea“ son, and as understood by the best and most ancient “ Christian writers.” This is your demonstration ; only I have thrown in a word or two, by way of parenthesis, to make it the clearer to the reader. The sum of it is this; if the scholastic notion (by which you mean Sabellianism) be not true; and if there be no medium between Sabellianism and Arianism; then Arianism is the true doctrine, &c. That is, if supposing be proving, and if begging the question be the same thing with determining it; then something will be demonstrated which is not demonstrated. You do well to refer us to your Appendix for proof, and to shift it off as far as possible. Demonstrations are good things, but sometimes very hard to come at; as you will find in the present instance. You may take as much time longer, as you think proper, to consider of it. Give me a demonstration, justly so called; a chain of clear reasoning, beginning from some plain and undoubted axiom, and regularly descending by necessary deductions, or close connection of ideas, till you come at your conclusion. Till you can do this, it will be but labour lost, to endeavour to shake the received doctrine of the


ever blessed Trinity. For, unless you can give us something really solid and substantial, in an article of so great importance, the reasons which we have, on our side of the question, are so many, so plain, and so forcible, that they must, and will, and ought to sway the minds of modest, reasonable, and conscientious men, while the Church stands, or the world lasts. Any man that duly considers what we have to plead from holy Scripture, and what from the concurring judgment and practice of the primitive and Catholic Church; and reflects farther upon the natural tenderness which every pious and grateful mind must have for the honour of his blessed Lord and Saviour, the dread and horror of blasphemy, and how shocking a thing it must appear to begin now to abridge him of that respect, service, and supreme adoration, which has been so long and so universally paid him, and by the blessed saints and martyrs now crowned in heaven; I say, any man that duly considers this, will easily perceive how impossible it is for Arianism ever to prevail generally, except it be upon one or other of these suppositions : either that the age becomes so very ignorant or corrupt, that they know not, or care not, what they do; or that some new light spring up, on the side of Arianism, some hidden reserve of extraordinary evidences, such as, in 1400 years' time, the wit of man has not been able to discover. As to the latter, neither yourself nor yet the learned Doctor has been pleased to favour us with any such discovery: as to the former, I have too good an opinion of you to suspect that you can either hope or wish for it. You will have a mind to try what you can do; and so give me leave to represent to you a short summary of what we are to expect of you.

I. You are to prove, either that the Son is not Creator; or that there are two Creators, and one of them a creature.

2. You are to show, either that the Son is not to be worshipped at all; or that there are two objects of worship, and one of them a creature, i

« PreviousContinue »