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CHA P. XI.
Ag. 26. lin. ult. read Phil. 2. 19, 24. P. 39. 1. 3. read thereby
Of the EVERBLESSED
TRINITY in UNITY.
The Occafion and Design of this Difcourfe.
To the Reverend
Dr. SAMUEL CLARKE.
HEN I receiv'd thofe Copies of the several Pieces you have publifh'd concerning the Trinity, which you were pleas'd to fend me; as I could not but efteem them fresh Instances of your good Affections towards me (of which I have had much happy Experience in a Course of many Years Acquaintance) fo I am perfuaded,
You were far from expecting my Approbation of them. On the contrary, as it became a Perfon that loves you fincerely, I fignified to you, by Letter and otherwife, my diflike of your Notions; and you condefcended to bear my ufual Plainess with that Patience, Candor, and Sweetnefs of Temper, which you conftantly discover in your whole Conduct.
You have well (a) observ'd, that the Doctrin of the Trinity is of the greatest importance in Religion; a matter not to be treated of flightly and carelessly, as it were by Accident only, after the manner of Superficial Controver fies about Words, or of particular Occafional Questions concerning the meaning of fingle ambiguous Texts; but which ought, when difcourfed upon at all, to be examin'd thoroughly on all fides, by a ferious study of the whole Scripture, and by taking care that the Explication be confiftent with it felf in every part. You (b) profefs that you have, according to the Weight and Dignity of the Subject, confidered it throughout, as carefully and diftinctly as you were able; and defire only, that the Reader, when he begins the Book, would perufe it all, and confider feriously every Part, and compare the Whole of what is here faid, with other whole Schemes, before he palles his Judgment upon it. For my own part, I folemnly make the fame Profeffion with your felf; and what you defire of the Reader, I have confcientiously perform'd and yet I muft affure you, that after all the Pains I have beftow'd in confidering this nice Subject (both at former Times, and fince your feveral Books have been publifh'd) I am as throughly convinc'd, that you are in the Wrong, as you your felf can be that you are in the Right.
(a) Preface to your Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity.
Now, fince the Subject of thefe your Writings is of fo great Confequence, and the difference between your Sentiments, and thofe which, I firmly believe, are deliver'd in the Holy Scriptures, is fo exceedingly wide, that your Mistakes are not lefs certain than dangerous, and prejujudicial to our common Chriftianity; and fince thefe fatal Errors are Patroniz'd by a Writer of eftablish'd Reputation in the Learned World: certainly thofe who retain any Zeal, in this Lukewarm Age, for the Faith once deliver'd to the Saints, and are perfuaded that an Orthodox Belief is the only firm Foundation of a truly, Chriftian Practice; can't but defire, even with fome degree of Impatience, to fee your Notions fairly examin'd, and fubftantially difprov'd; fo that neither the Weight of your Authority in the Commonwealth of Letters, nor your excellent Management of what I can't but efteem a very ill Caufe, may prejudice the Truth, difturb the Church's Peace, and deceive the Unwary.
Befides, I can't bear the Thoughts of your being injurious to the Church of Chrift. God forbid, that you fhould in any Refpect wound that Religion, which you have in fo many Refpects adorn'd and defended. Farther, I am fully perfuaded, that you'll be glad to fee your Mistakes, and that you will also readily acknowledge them, if they appear to you. I think my felf therefore bound in ftrict Duty to God, and in pure Friendfhip to your felf, to lay afide for a while thofe feveral Tasks, which would otherwife have found me full Imployment, for many Years; that I may contribute what lies in my fmall Power, to the clearing of the Truth, and your Conviction.
These Confiderations, and only thefe, have engag'd me to undertake the prefent Controverfy with you; being fo abundantly fatisfy'd of the Goodnefs of my Caufe, and fo eagerly bent to do what little Service I can (particularly to your felf) that I am refolv'd to rifque my Endevors. And I humbly truft our great and good Master, who will not defert fuch as impartially seek to advance the Truth, and aim only at his Glory, with the Succefs of my Labors.
May that God, who knows the Secrets of both our Hearts; May that incarnat Savior, who muft judge us both at the laft great Day; May that bleffed Spirit, who works in Men both to will and to do; fo direct and influence us both, that no Prejudice, or Intereft may blind our Underftandings, no unmortify'd Luft may pervert our Wils, no Defire of Glory or Reputation may bribe our Affections but that each of us may behave himself, in the Course of this Friendly Difputation, as becomes those who live in a conftant Expectation of giving an Account of all their Actions; and are practically convinc'd, that whatever little Ends may be ferv'd in this World by Artifice, Shift, and Collufion; yet nothing but the most unbiafs'd Integrity in our Conduct here, can prevent our everlafting Difgrace, and infupportable Confufion hereafter.
Let us now, with a firm Dependence on the Divine Affiftance, proceed to the Business lying before us.