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C Ο Ν Τ
E N T S.
V. O L U M E
IV. The Doctrines of God's Ever lasting Love to his Eleet, and their Eternal
Union with Christ: Together with some other Truths, stated and de-
fended : In a Letter to Dr Abraham Taylor,
SERMONS AND TRACTS.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY,
STATED AND VINDICATED.
Being the Substance of several Discourses on that important Subject;
reduced into the Form of a Treatise.
The Introduction; with the proof of the unity of the Divine Essence; or,
that tbere is but one God.
HE Doctrine of a Trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence
is, without controversy, a great mystery of godliness. The ancient
Jews used to call it the sublime mystery, and sometimes the mystery of all mysteries '; which if a man did not endeavour to make himself acquainted with, it would have been better for him if he had never been created : and sometimes they called it the mystery of faitbo; a phrase which the apostle uses in 1 Tim. iii. 9. where he makes it one part of the qualification of a deacon, to “ hold the mystery of the faith in a pure conscience.” By which, perhaps, agreeable to the use of the phrase among the Jews, he may chiefly design the Vol. III.
doctrine a ragby 87.41 Zohar in Gen. fol. 1. col. 3. Ed. Sultzbach. fol. 3. Ed. Cremon. o qoon 527 889 Zohar in Exod. fol. 66. col. 3. fol. 71. col. 4. Ed. Cremon,
.Ibid רזא דמהימנותא *
doctrine of the Trinity. And if this is to be held in a pure confcience by deacons, much more by the Ministers of Christ, who are stewards of the mysteries of God, and whose business it is to make known the mystery of the gospel to others.
This is a doctrine of pure revelation. That there is a God, and that there is but one God, who is a Being poffeffed of all divine perfections, may be known by the light of nature : but that there is a Trinity of persons in the Godhead, who are distinct, though not divided from each other, is what natural reason could never have discovered. The books of the Old and New Testament contain the “ sure word of prophecy, to which we do well if we take “ heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place”. This is and ought to be our guide in all such abstruse and mysterious doctrines; if we leave this, and are led and governed by the false reasonings of our carnal minds, no wonder if we run ourselves into mazes, and then find it difficult to get clear. “ To the law and to the testimony, if any speak not according to this word, “ it is because there is no light in them." Since this doctrine is revealed in scripture, it ought to be an article of our faith ; though it may be attended with some difficulties, which we cannot account for. That it is a doctrine of great importance, needs no other evidence, though other may easily be given, than the great opposition which Satan has made against it. He, indeed, has recourse to many stratagems, wiles and cunning devices to support his own interest, and hurt the interest of Christ. But there are two ways more especially, which he has taken for this purpofe : one is, to depreciate the divine Being in one or other of the three glorious persons wherein it subsists, in their characters or offices : and the other is, to magnify and exalt the reafon of man, his intellectual powers, and the freedom of his will, in spiritual and divine things. One while man is set up as a creature invested with powers and abilities to .convert himself, to do every thing that is spiritually good, and that may conduce to his present or future happiness, the design of which is, to throw a veil on the glories of divine grace, and render the merits of Christ, and the operations of the spirit, unnecessary: at other times he employes all his strength and cunning, either to destroy the proper Deity of the Son and Spirit, and to bring into contempt their respective characters, offices and works; or to introduce a total confusion into the sacred Trinity, by denying a distinction of persons in the Godhead, the whole of which may be properly called antichristianism; for “ he is Antichrist that denieth the Father and the Son." He that says, The father is the son, and the son is the father, and allows of
no d Ifa. viii, 20. • Viderint igitur Antichristi, qui negant patrem & filium. Negant enim patrem, dum eundem filium dicunt, & negant filium, dum eundem patrem credunt, dando illis quæ non funt, auferendo quæ funt. Tertullian. adv, Prax. cap. 30.
no distinction between them, confounds them both; and by confounding them both, tacitly denies that there is either. Now it being my present design to treat of the doctrine of the Trinity, I shall observe the following method in discoursing on this argument :
1. I shall endeavour to prove the unity of the divine effence, or that there
is but one God, II. That there is a plurality in the Godhead. III. That this plurality is neither more or fewer than three, which three are
the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft. And, IV. I shall consider the several characters, the proper Deity, and distinct
personality of each of these three.
I. I shall endeavour to prove the unity of the divine essence; or, that there is but one God. This is a truth which the wiser fort' of the heathens, their philosophers and poets, have assented to, who laughed at, and derided the polytheism of their own people: the Jews have always retained it even to this day, as an articles in their Creed; and no wonder they should, since it is write ten, as with a sun-beam, in the writings of the Old Testament: and as for us Christians, “ we know as the Apostle says ", That an idol is nothing in the “ world; and that there is none other God but one.” So that we are all Unitarians in a sense, though not in the same sense. The method I fall take in discoursing on this head, will be this:
First, I shall endeavour to prove the assertion, that there is but one God. Secondly, Explain in what sense we use the words, when we say, there is but
First, I shall endeavour to prove the assertion. Now that there is but one God, will admit of proof from the consideration of the being and perfections of God, and his relation to his creatures; as well as from the testimonies both of the Old and of the New Testament.
ift, That there is but one God, may be concluded from the confideration of the being and perfections of God, and his relation to his creatures.
It may be argued from the necessary existence of God. He that is God, necessarily exists: if he does not necessarily exist, his existence must be owing
Mercurius, Trismegistus, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Proclus, Plotinus, Porphyry, Aristotle, Epictetus, Seneca, Cicero, Plutarch, Homer, Heliod, Theognis, Sophocles, &c. Mornacus de Verit. Christ. Relig. 1. 3.
• It is the second Article in their Creed; and is strongly asserted by Maimonides, in Yefode Hattora, c. 1. 5. 4. and by R. Joseph Albo, in Sepher Ikkarim, 1. 2. c. 6, 7, 1 Cor. viii. 4.
to some cause, which cause must be either himself or another ; not another, for then he that is the cause of his existence, must be God, and not he himself: and if he was the cause of his own existence, then he must be, and not be at the same moment, or be before he was; either of which is a contradiction
It remains then, that God exifts necessarily : and if he exists necessarily, then there is but one God; for a reason cannot be given, why there should be more than one that necessarily exists.
The same truth may be proved from the eternity of God. He that is God, is eternal; he is before all things; he is from everlasting to everlasting; he is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, and without either ; he only hath immortality ; eternity is peculiar to him; so as it cannot be ascribed to any other being; nor can there be more than one eternal, and therefore no more than one God : for if, as he says, “ before him there was no God “ formed; neither shall there be after him '';” and again, that there is a no “ God with him *;" then it follows, there can be none but himself.
The immensity and infinity of God are strong proofs of his unity. God is infinite in his being and perfections: “his understanding is infinite !,” and so are his power, his goodness, his justice and his holiness, &c. As his eternity is that perfection by which he is not bounded by time, so his immensity; or infinity, is that perfection by which he is not bounded, or circumscribed by space. He that is God is every where ; there is no fleeing from his presence ; he fills heaven and earth with it; and by filling them, is not contained in them : “ the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain m" him. Now more infinites than one there cannot be: if we suppose two, either the one must reach unto, comprehend, and include the other, or it must not; if it does not, then it is not infinite and immense, and so not God; if it does reach unto, comprehend and include the other; then that which is included by it is finite, and so not God. In short, there cannot be more infinites than one ; and if there cannot be more infinites than one, then there cannot be more gods than one.
The argument will receive some strength from the consideration of God's omnipotence. He, that is God, is almighty ; can do all things; fits, in the heavens, and does whatsoever he pleases : and if there is one that can do all things, what need is there of more? or what reason can be given why more should be supposed ? The word, almighty, admits of no degrees; it cannot be said that there is one that is almighty, and another that is more almighty, and another that is most almighty; no, there is but one almighty, and therefore but one God.
Illa. xliii. io.
« Deut. xxxii. 39.
1. Pfalm cxlvii. 5.
1 Kings viii. 87.