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2. That I have fully expreffed my Mind as to the Point of Subfcription to our Church's Articles, in my Effay on them. 3. As to our Complyance with other legal Forms, I fhall wave all Difcourfe concerning it, for a Reason which I fhall give, when I come to your Third Part.
Of his First Part.
Your Book is divided into Three Parts. You fay (a), that in the First Part of it (that it might appear what was, not the Sound of fingle Texts, which may eafily mistaken, but the whole Tenour of Scripture) you have collected all the Texts that relate to the Doctrine of the Everbleffed Trinity (which you are not fenfible has been done before) and fet them before the Reader in one View, with fuch References and critical Obfervations, as may ('tis hoped) be of confiderable Ufe towards the Understanding of their true Meaning. I fhall therefore take no further notice of this First Part, than as I fhall find my felf obliged in the Examination of your Second, which refers backwards to, and depends upon, your Firft; and wherein, you (b) fay, is collected into methodical Propofitions the Sum of that Doctrine, which (upon the carefullest Confideration of the whole Matter) appears to you to be fully contained in the Texts cited in the First Part. So that by examining your Second Part, I fhall of confe quence examine your Firft alfo, as much as the Nature of my Design requires; which is to rectify your Notions relating to the Holy Trinity, and to fhew what the Holy Scriptures do really teach concerning it.
(a) Introdu&t. p. 17. (b) Ibid.
Of his Second Part.
Your Second Part confifts of Fifty five Propofitions, each of which I fhall confider diftinctly. Only I must advertise you of one thing.
You (c) fay, You have illuftrated each Propofition (you fhould have faid, the greatest Number of them) with many Teftimonies out of the antient Writers, both before and after the Council of Nice; efpecially out of Athanafius and Bafil; of which are feveral not taken notice of either by Petavius or the Learned Bishop Bull. Concerning all which, you defire it may be obferved, that they are not alledg'd as Proofs, of any of the Propofitions (for Proofs are to be taken from the Scripture alone) but as Illuftrations only; and to fhew how easy and natural that Notion must be allowed to be, which fo many Writers could not forbear expreffing fo clearly and diftin&tly, even frequently, when at the fame time they were about to affirm, and endeavouring to prove, fomething not very confiftent with it. Now, whether you have truly reprefented those Writers, whofe Teftimonys you have alleged, 'tis perfectly needlefs for me to inquire. For why fhould we argue about, or appeal to, the Teftimonys of thofe Perfons, whofe Words you do not allege as Proofs, for the Eftablishment of any Propofition, and whofe Judgment you are refolved beforehand not to abide by?
Wherefore, whether you have juft Grounds to affert, that (d) the greatest part of the Writers before and at the time of the Council of Nice, were really of that
(c) Introdu&t. p. 17. (d) Introduct. p. 18.
Opinion (tho' they do not always speak very clearly and confiftently) which you bave endeavour'd to fet forth in your Second Part; I fhall not examin for the Reason already given. Besides, what does a cloud of Witneffes fignify, unless they are confiftent? But as to the Writers after that Council, you (e) declare, that the Reader must not wonder, if many Paffages not confiftent with (nay, perhaps contrary to) thofe which are by you cited, fhall by any one be alleged out of the fame Authors. For, you fay, you do not cite Places out of these Authors, fo much to show what was the Opinion of the Writers themselves, as to fhew how naturally Truth sometimes prevails by its own native Clearnefs and Evidence, even against the strongest and most fettled Prejudices: according to that of Bafil: I am perfuaded (faith be, as quoted by you) that the Strength of the Doctrine deliver'd down to us, has often compelled Men to contradict their own Affertions. Now, if this be the Cafe with refpect to those who wrote fince the Council of Nice, then we may by your own Confeffion divide thofe Writers between us. And what will the Cause of Truth gain, by our fharing fuch oppofit and felfcontradicting Authoritys?
You fee therefore, that tho? I do by no means Give up either the Antinicene or Poftnicene Writers; yet I juftly wave an Inquiry into their Sentiments, purely to fhorten our Difpute, and that I may speedily bring it to an Iffue, and obtain a Verdict from the Word of God, which alone can infallibly decide the Difference between us.
Of the Doctor's First Propofition.
These things being premifed, I fhall now proceed to your feveral Propofitions.
The First of them is contained in thefe Words;..
<< There is One Supreme Caufe, and Original of Things; One fimple, uncompounded, undivided, intelligent Beċċ ing, or Perfon; who is the Author of all Being, and "the Fountain of all Power.
1. In this Propofition you manifeftly make, as you do alfo elsewhere, intelligent Being and Perfon to be fynonymous and convertible Terms. Now 'tis very true, that in common Speech Intelligent Being and Perfon are convertible Terms; and in this fenfe the one fupreme Caufe of all things, whom I call the Very God, is undoubtedly a Perfou, and but one Perfon: but then the one fupreme Caufe or Very God may be, in a different fenfe, three diftinct Perfons, according to what has been already faid in Chap. 14. p. 218. and in this fenfe, tho' the one fupreme Caufe of all things is an intelligent Being, yet he is more than one Perfon, even three Perfons. Wherefore in your fenfe of the Word Perfon, I grant the Truth of your whole Propofition, which you juftly fay, is the First Principle of Natural Religion, and every where fuppofed in the Scripture Revelation.
2. I need not obferve to you, that none of your References are intended to prove your fenfe of the Word Perfon; and therefore none of them can furnifh an Argument against my fense of the Word Perfon.
His Second Propofition.
"With this First and fupreme Caufe or Father of all "Things, there has exifted from the Beginning, a Second "Divine Perfon, which is his WORD or Son.
I. I have (f) already obferved, that the WORD is never called God's Son in Holy Scripture; tho' I have (g) fhewn, that that Way of fpeaking is allowable in other Writers.
2. That the WORD of God has exifted from the Beginning, is unquestionably true.
3. 'Tis alfo equally true, that the WORD has exifted from the Beginning with the firft and fupreme Cause or Father of all Things, viz. the Very God. But then I have (b) fhewn, that the WORD's exifting with God, does not in Scripture Phrafe, import that he is a diftinct Being from that God with whom he exifted from the Beginning. On the contrary I have (i) proved from Scripture, that the WORD is one and the fame Being with the Very God, with whom he always exifted.
4. The WORD therefore is not a fecond Divine Perfon in your fenfe of the Word Perfon, that is, the WORD is not a second intelligent Being coexifting with the Very God, and diftinct and feparat from him but yet the WORD is a second Divinė Perfon in my fenfe of the Word Perfon, viz. as exifting neceffarily in, and coeffential to, the Very God.
(f) Chap. 11. p. 161, &c.