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has ascribed to nature, or to second causes, exclusively of the first; and what men vulgarly call chance or unforeseen accident; is in scripture resolved into the immediate will and providence of God. Thus, when a person is sain by chance or accident, as men vulgarly speak, the scripture more accurately expresses it, saying, that God delivered such a one into the hand of him that flew him without design. Exod. xxi. 13. And in all other instances the same notion is every-where kept up in scripture: neither is it merely in a pious manner of expression, that the scripture ascribes every event to the providence of God; but is strictly and philosophically true in nature and reason, that there is no such thing as chance or accident: it being evident that those words do not signify any thing really existing, any thing that is truly an agent, or the cause of any event; but they signify merely men's ignorance of the real and immediate caufe. And this is so true, that very many, even of those who have no religion, nor any sense at all of the providence of God, yet know very well by the light of their own natural reason, that there neither is nor can be any such thing as chance, that is, any such thing as an effect without a cause; and therefore what others ascribe to chance they ascribe to the operation of necesjity or fate. But fate also is itself in reality as truly nothing, as chance is. Nor is there in nature any other proper cause of any event, but only the free will of rational and intelligent creatures acting within the sphere of their limited faculties, and the supreme power of God directing, by his omnipresent providence, the inanimate motions of the whole material and unintelligent world. This is the truest philosophy, as well as the best divinity. For what is nature ? is it an understanding being? or is it not? If it be not, how can an undesigning being produce plain notices of contrivance and design? If it be an underftanding being, who acts throughout the universe; then it is that great being whom we call God. For nature, necesity, and chance, mere phantoms, which have no reason, wisdom, or power, cannot act, with the utmost exactness of wisdom, powerfully, incessantly, and every-where.
V. We believe the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be Three per
... three distinct persons in the divine nature; because Jons in ihe the holy scriptures in several places distinguish Godhead. them from one another, as we use in common speech to distinguish three several persons: this is recorded in the form of administering the facrament of baptism, which is in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: and in the solemn blessing with which St. Paul concludes his second epistle to the Corinthians: The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost: and also the three witnesses in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, prove that each of these persons is God. Besides, the names, properties, and operations of God are attributed to each of them in holy writ.' That the names, properties, and operations of God are attributed to the second person in the blessed Trinity, the Son, is plain from St. John, the Word was God. St. Paul says, that God was manifested in the flesh; that Christ is over all, God blessed for ever; and that the word of God is sharper than a two-edged sword, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intent of the heart. Eternity is attributed to him; the Son hath life in himself, he is the same, and his years shall not fail: perfection of knowledge; as the Father knoweth me, so know I the Father : the creation of all things; all things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. And we are commanded to honour the Son as we honour the Father : and the glorified saints sing their hallelujahs, as to God the Father, so also to the Lamb for ever and ever. And
We ascribe the same names, properties, and operations of God, to the third person in the blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost; for lying to the Holy Ghost is called lying to God, And, because the Christians are the temples of the Holy Ghost, they are said to be the temples of God: his teaching all things; his guiding into all truth; his telling things to come; his searching all things, even the deep things of God; his being called the spirit of the Lord, in opposition to the spirit of man; are plain characters of his divinity. Besides, he is joined with God the Father (who will not impart his
glory to another) as an object of faith and worship in baptism, and the apostolical blessing. And the blasphemy committed against him is said to be forgiven neither in this world, nor in the world to come.
These plain texts shew we are obliged to believe the doctrine of the holy Trinity; and ourchurch affirms, "There is • but one living and true God, everlasting, without body, * parts or passions, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness,
the maker and preserver of all things, both visible and in• visible; and in the unity of this godhead there be three • persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, • the Son, and the Holy Ghost.'* Which doctrine of the Trinity, tho'it is above reason, in that we cannot Why it mult comprehend the manner of it, is not however con- be believed. trary to reason: neither does it imply a contradiction to say, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God; and yet there are not three Gods, but one God: because we do not affirm they are one and three in the same respect. The divine being is that alone which makes God; that can be but one, and therefore there can be no more Gods than one : but, because the scriptures, which assure us of the unity of the divine being, do likewise with the Father join the Son and Holy Ghost, in the same attributes, operations, and worship, as proved above; therefore they are capable of number as to their relation to each other, but not as to their being, which is butone. Consequently, the difficulty, which some men pretend they find in the belief of a Tri- Why diffe nity, is the effect of their own presumption and ig- culi to be norance, which pretend to dive into the secret believed. things of God by the weakness of human capacity: and because they cannot unfold the depths of divine wisdom, they charge God foolishly with contradiction. The truth of the case is this: our prospect is bounded by a very narrow horizon; our faculties limited within a very narrow sphere of activity. And whatever absurdities some people may alledge, without being able to prove, against the Trinity; the greatest absurdity of all is, that weak ignorant creatures should pretend to fathom an infinite subject with a very scanty line.
Want * See the first Article of Religion,
Want of humility, in points of so high a nature, is always, in some degree, want of sense. There may be a bright and
parkling imagination, but there can be no such thing as a Tel-poised judgment and sound sober sense, without humility. Let us then proceed in our researches after truth, with all due humility and modesty; and not stand upon terms with our Maker, and lose the humble and meek christian in the vain disputer of this world. For, however valuable a clear discernment and an uncommon reach of thought may be, yet humility, which does not exercise itself in matters which are too high, is undoubtedly far more amiable in the fight of that being, who, though he inhabiteth eternity, yet dwells with the lowly and contrite. We then give the best proofs of the strength of our reason, when we own the weakness of it, in the deep things of God; humbly content to see him through a glass darkly, till we can see him as he is, face to face.
This should teach us to submit our reason to the obedience of faith. To believe this mystery, which we are sufficiently How to be assured God hath revealed, though we cannot i:quired comprehend it. To contain ourselves within the in.o. bounds of fobriety, without wading too farinto abstruse,curious, and useless inquiries. Toadmire and adore the most glorious Trinity, as being the joint authors of our salvation. To acknowledge the extreme love of God towards us, in giving his only-begotten Son, who was in the bosom of the Father from alleternity, to die for us finners; and the wonderful condescension of our dear Redeemer, the merits of whose sufferings were made of more value by the dignity and excellenceof his person; and never to grieve that eternal Spirit, by whose gracious help we are made partakers of life everlaiting. The least grain of fand is able to baffle the finest understanding: and yet we would pretend to found the depths of the divine nature and counsels; never considering, what has been often observed, that, • if what was revealed con'cerning God were always adapted to our comprehension; • how could it with any fitness represent that nature, which 'we allow to be incomprehensible?' We need not to ranfack the scripture for difficulties: every thing about us and within us, above us and beneath us, convinces us, that we are very ignorant ; and, if once we come to a resolution to quit what is clear (such are the proofs for christianity) upon the account of what is obscure, we shall run into universa
cism. Where Observe, in answer to a very popular argument against christianity, That to believe such doctrines of christianity as we cannot comprehend does not take away
Does not destroy the use of reason in religion : for nothing the use of can be a greater reflection upon religion, than to reason. say it is unreasonable; that it contradicts that natural light, which God has fixed in our minds, and that it declines a fair and impartial trial, and will not bear the test of a thorough examination. For God inlightened man with reason to difcover the grounds of natural religion, and inculcate the wifdomand prudence of actingaccording to them. Reason shews the conveniency of things to our natures, and the tendency of them to our interest and happiness; since as we are thereby convinced, that piety towards God, that justice, gratitude, and mercy towards men, are agreeable to our natures : so reason discovers to us, that these duties are good, because they bring benefit and advantage to us. And this reason is the faculty whereby the evidence and proof of revealed religion is to be tried: the proper exercise of it in a christian is to examine and inquire, whether what is proposed and required to be believed is revealed by God; whether it comes with the true marks of his authority, and hath him really for its author: for our accepting of any thing as revealed by God must be grounded upon evidence that it comes from him. And when by proper arguments we are convinced of the divine authority of the revelation, reason assists us in discerning the true and genuine sense of such a revelation, and helps us to apply general rules contained in it to all manner of fpecial cases whatsoever. And when we are satisfied that a doctrine is revealed by God, though it is above the reach of our understanding; yet we have the strongest and most cogent reason in the world to believe it : because God is infinitely wise and all-knowing, and therefore cannot be deceived ; and being infinitely good, we may be sure he will not deceive