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impose on us his Distinction of three Persons, not revealed to us in wholly Scripture, nor proved by him to be consistent with the Unity of the Godbead.
He says, P. 114. that « The Church might « well determine the Manner of their Unity, so
far as to their being one in Substance and - the Manner of their Distinction, so far as to
their being three in Persons or Subsistences.'
A Distinction, which W. P. might well call impertinent, but that he says, 'tis absurd Blafphemy, we find not.
Our Adversary, P. 115. admits it, ' to be generally fafest to confine our selves to the Use of the Scripture Terms only, in expressing Articles of Faith ; but adds, It may be necessary sometimes, in expressing Articles of Faith, to use other Words than the Scripture uses, to give the true Sense of the Scripture Words, or else
there can be no interpreting of Scripture, which ( cannot be done but in other Words.' But how does that agree, with his Affertion, P: 78. of
the Scripture it felf being its own beft Interpre• ter. He then attempts to shew the Necessity the Church was under of departing from Scripture Terms, in expressing the DoEtrine of the Trinity, in Opposition to the Arrians and Sabellians. But had the Church kept to the Plainness of Scripture Expression, she had escaped that miserable Rent and Division, which the introducing unscriptural Terms occasioned. (1) · For the first three < hundred Years from the Birth of Christ, says
· R. Claridge
(m) R. C's Life and pofthumors Works, p. 394, 395.
• R. Claridge, till the Arrian Controversy was
started, this Doctrine of the Holy Three was generally received and treated of, as it is plain
ly laid down in the Scriptures, and in the Creed • called the Apostles. But in the Beginning of • the fourth Century, when the Dispute arose a« bout the Trinity, between Alexander Bishop of ? Alexandria,and Arriusa Presbyter of chat Place, ? then new Words and unfcriptural Terms began
to be invented, to defend one another's several Opinions. And from this Controversy, being managed with a blind and furious Zeal on both Sides, grew contentious Tumults, railing and
reviling each other; so that the People, some ! taking Part with Alexander, and some with
Arrius, were divided into Factions, and a miserable Rent was made in the Church, about a
Dispute of Words, and a Doctrine inexplicable, • as (m) Conftantine the Emperor calls it, in his
Epistle to Alexanderand Arrius, wherein he • also terms it a certain vain Piece of a Question, • ill begun, and more unadvisedly published: ' A Question which no Law or Ecclesiastical • Canon defineth; a fruitless Contention, the « Product of idle Brains, a matter sa nice, so • obscure, and so intricate, that it was neither to • be explicated by the Priests, nor understood
by the People, but most dangerous when taught + left it introduce Discord and Blasphemy; for it « concerned not the Substance of Faith, or the
Worship of God, nor any chief Command
ment of Scripture ; but was vain, and a Toy, • in respect of Peace and Charity. And there• fore he advises them to cease contending , • and keep their Opinions to themselves, ask one
(d) Eusebius in vita Constantini. l. 2. C. 67, 70, 71.
' another Forgiveness, and exercise mutual Tole • ration.
This is the Substance of Constantine's Letter, by which we may see what his Judgment was of this new started Controversy, he looked upon it to be a Question, not of Faith, but of. Nicety of Dispute, as (12) Dr. Taylor well observes ; and (0) Socrates gives this Character of the Letter, viz. That it contained admirable and prudent Advice.
Our Opponent adds, p. 116. ^ And it were easy to thew what a Number not only of unscripture Words, but contrary to the Scripture, the Quakers use, to express their Faith in the
main Articles of Religion.' And then, under pretence of producing Instancés, packs together certain Expressions; some of them perhaps taken out of their Writings, others probably of his own forming, as the Caution he takes to conceal himself gives just Cause to suspect ; lince he has not mentioned one Author for any of them. And that those Expressions are main Articles of their Religion, is a mere groundless Alsertion, seeing they never called any of them so ; and some of them, till he produce better Authority, we shall continue to think they never used.
Page 117. He puts this
Quest. · Is not the Doctrine of a Distinction of · Perfons in the Godhead, a speculative Subject,
(w) Lib. of Prophecying, Sect. 2. N. 26. (0) Luulei: Hilt. l. 1. c. 8.
the too curious Enquiry into which, tends lit« tle co Godliness, and less to Peace?
For this he quotes, W. P's Key, p. 15. who in answer to this Charge, The Quakers deny the Trinity, says, “ Nothing less: They believe in the
Holy Three or Trinity of Father, Word, and • Spirit, according to Scripture. And that these · Three are truly and properly one: Of one « Nature as well as Will. But they are very ten• der of quitting Scripture Terms and Phrases
for Schoolmen's, fuch as distinct and separate · Persons and Subsistencies, &c. are ; from • whence People are apt to entertain gross Ideas « and Notions of the Father Son and Holy Ghost. • And they judge, that a curious Inquiry into
those high and divine Relations, and other Spe• culative Subjects, though never so great Truths • in themselves, tend little to Godliness, and less « to Peace, which should be the chief Aim of s true Christians. And therefore they cannot
gratify that Curiosity in themselves or others : • Speculative Truths being in their Judgment to
be sparingly and tenderly declared, and never s to be made the Measure and Condition of Chri. • ftian Communion. For besides that Christ Je< sus hath taught them other things, the sad Con
fequence in all times, of superfining upon Scrip• ture Texts, do sufficiently caution and forbid < them. Men are too apt to let their Heads outs run their Hearts, and their Nation exceed their
Obedience, and their Passion support their • Conceits ; instead of a daily Cross, a constant • Watch, and an holy Practice. The despised
Quakers desire this may be their Care, and the • Text their Creed in this, as in all other Points, preferring Self-denial to Opinion, and Charity
« to Knowledge, according to that great Chri
stian Doctrine, i Cor. xiii.
By which it appears, that W. P. was of the fame Opinion with the Emperor Constantine beforementioned, That a fruitless Contention about nice, obscure and intricate Matters is dangerous ; and but vain, and a Toy, in respeet of Peace and Charity. But this our Author is contradictory not only to them, but to the Experience of the Christian World, when he represents, The Do&trine of a Distinction of Persons in the Godhead, as the great Foundation of Godliness and Peace. Did not the different Apprehensions of the Words, Nature, Substance, Hypoftafis and Person, cause great Feuds and long Contention between the Eaftern and Western Christians? And have not the fame continued even to our own Times to be the Subject of Altercation and Debate All which the keeping close to Scripture Terms might have prevented. We may therefore with the greatest Safety lay aside all unscriptural Terms and Phrases of the Schoolmen, før as much as the holy Scriptures without the use of them, do evidently declare that God was manifest in the Flesh, and do instruct us in the right Knowledge of all the other chief Points of our Religion, and the wbole Gospel Dispensation, and Mystery of qur Redemption, and of the Nature and Spirituality of that Baptism of Christ by the which all are baptized into one Body; of the unspeakable Mercy of God ini sending his Son to die for us Sinners ; of the meritorious Obedience of Christ in giving himself a Sacrifice and Propitiation for the Sins of the whole World, and of the gracious Afiftances of the Holy Spirit, enabling us to perform the Terms required of us for our partaking of this Salvation purskafed for us. And thus, through Jesus CHRIST,