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firms,—the rule will more than bring into doubt some of the fundamental truths of natural religion. The instance which I have adduced in illustration, is that of the Divine omnipresence; about which enough will come to be said in a future part of this work.--I now refer it to the reader, whether the sentiment thus expressed gave any just occasion for Mr. Yates's entering his “ protest,” in terms of severe and sweeping censure, “ against those desolating pleas for religious mystery, which tend to sap the foundation of all human knowledge, and to introduce an irksome scepticism on every subject.(P. 45.) Nothing, indeed, can be more unfortunate than representing the sentiment in question as tending to scepticism. For it is the opposite sentiment that is the very principle and basis of scepticism—if it be proper to apply the term basis to a system of doubts. It is the sentiment that nothing is to be believed that we do not fully comprehend,-it is this sentiment that leads to the scepticism which Mr. Yates so feelingly deprecates. It is this that unsettles the mind, and throws it loose from all sure belief and stable principle. There are so many things the nature of which is beyond the apprehension of our limited faculties,—so few, indeed, an, bout which puzzling difficulties may not be started, that such a sentiment must necessarily leave us very little to believe. It is somewhat curious, that while Mr. Yates represents my views on the subject of mysteries in religion, as calculated to « introduce an irksome scepticism on every subject,” I happen to have mentioned, in the very context of the passage which he quotes,-or rather which he garbles and mistranslates,– their tendency to universal scepticism as one of the evils of the sentiments which I was opposing. “Incalculable mischief “ has arisen from men's aspiring at knowledge beyond the 6 reach of their own, or of any finite powers, and beyond - the limits of the Divine declarations. Yet the attempt to 6 comprehend the mode in which the Divine unity subsists in “ three persons, is certainly not more foolish, than it is to re6 fuse credence to the fact, because it exceeds our compre“ hension. He who does so, on such a subject as this, must “ either, as we have seen, be guilty of the most palpable and

glaring inconsistencies, or else the limits of his belief must be « narrow indeed. There is hardly a point, in fact, at which a man of this description can consistently stop, short of universal scepticism.(Discourses, p. 24.)— The reader is left to judge, whether an humble readiness in the mind, to receive as true, on sufficient evidence, what yet it cannot comprehend, be a disposition likely to involve it in endless uncertainty and hesitation ;-whether faith is the direct road to scepticism ;—belief the high way to doubt.-I might safely, indeed leave the respective tendencies of the Unitarian and the orthodox system, in this particular, to the decision of fact. On which side is it that the greatest measure is to be found of a free-thinking (I use the word in malam partem) and sceptical turn of mind ?

Mr. Yates adopted his own definition of mystery in preference to mine, because it was better accommodated to the tenor of my reasonings.”—Erratum-for tenor read subversion. So, I doubt not, Mr. Yates thought it. He has substituted his own definition for mine; and has made it mine, by inserting it in my argument where mine should have stood. He has made his opponent say what he would have him say, 6 and then reasoned from his own misrepresentation,” * doing what lay in his power to make me argue inconclusively, and to fasten on me sentiments widely different from those which

* Brown's Strictures, p. 23.


my language expresses. His making me deny, without qualification, the propriety of “making it a rule to understand the terms of a proposition before believing it,” arose from his having, “ without leave asked or obtained,” fathered his own definition upon

For where is the proposition, of which I have denied the necessity of understanding the terms before believing it? He has pointed out none;—and that for a very good reason, because there is none.

There are propositions relative to the fact of the Trinity; and the terms used in these, as declarative of the fact, are understood. But there is not (as I have already noticed) any proposition in the Scriptures, relative to that which we do not comprehend, namely, the MODE of the fact. There is nothing on this point which we are called to believe. There is no room, therefore, for the “ rule” of “ understanding the terms of a proposition “ before believing it;”—for there is no proposition to be believed, no terms to be understood.

3dly. I might perhaps have spared the reader the trouble of going through the preceding reasonings, by placing my third observation first:- The chapter is futile and useless in the argument; because it admits all that I should reckon it necessary to plead for.

Thus, (p. 45.) “ I have already stated the fact, which it

would be the height of presumption to deny, that concern“ing every class of beings there are truths, clear to superior “ intelligences, though seen indistinctly, or not at all, by us.” -If “concerning every class of beings,”—most of all, surely, concerning the first and highest of beings. How will Mr. Yates prove, that the mode of the Divine existence may not be one of that description of truths to which he refers ? —that superior intelligences may have some clearer knowledge of it, —and that such knowledge we ourselves may attain, in the


higher state of our future existence ?--that " what we know not now, we shall know hereafter?”—Perhaps, indeed, it may not be so; for the mode of the Divine subsistence may, for aught we can tell, be beyond the grasp of all finite intelligence:-but still it may be so; and this is enough-enough to silence the “ presumption” that would refuse assent to an incomprehensible proposition (incomprehensible in its matter, not unintelligie ble in its terms) on such a subject.

Thus again :-“ Notwithstanding, therefore, the apparent “ force of these observations, I would still maintain an humble “ conviction, that my understanding is weak and deceitful; “ and hence I am prepared to admit the truth of any unintel“ ligible proposition, which is supported by the authority of “ Scripture.” (P. 44.) And again :-“ On all these subjects “ truths may be enunciated, so far as human language is ad

apted to convey them, which to inferior minds will appear “ difficult to be conceived, or entirely incomprehensible. No “ thing, therefore, can be more unreasonable, than absolutely “ to deny a proposition because we attach no distinct concep" tions to the terms in which it is expressed.” (P. 41.)

Now, first of all here, what does Mr. Yates mean by assenting to the truth of an unintelligible proposition-i. e. of a proposition to the terms of which he affixes no conceptions, or no distinct conceptions ?-What is it, in this case, that he really believes ? It is evidently nothing expressed in the proposition itself. There is a very material difference between believing that a particular proposition contains some truth or other, and believing the truth which the proposition contains. The former only is what a man believes, when a proposition is uttered to him in an unknown tongue; or, if he be entirely ignorant of mathematics, when he hears it said by a mathematician, that “an ellipse is one of the conic sections."-Such

alone could be our belief with regard to the Trinity, if the terms in which the doctrine is expressed were unintelligible. -But “ there is a vast difference between unintelligible and incomprehensible. That is, strictly speaking, unintelligible,

concerning which we can frame no ideas; and that only incomprehensible concerning which our ideas are imperfect. “ It is plain, therefore, that a doctrine may be intelligible, “ and yet incomprehensible.”*_Is Mr. Yates, then, prepared to give his assent to what is unintelligible, and determined to withhold it from what is incomprehensible?-to admit the truth of propositions whose terms he does not understand, and to deny the truth of propositions, which affirm a fact in terms perfectly clear and intelligible, and which only leave unexplained the manner of the fact ?—to yield his assent to what is not revealed at all (for that certainly is not at all revealed, which is expressed in terms that cannot be understood), and to refuse his assent to what is partially revealed, because it is not revealed more fully; when, for aught we know, the reason of the limitation may have been the impossibility of any thing further being so expressed as to bring it within the apprehension of the human faculties? I cannot suppose he will be so inconsistent.—To the inquiry, On what grounds our assent should be yielded to mysterious propositions? he answers, with great propriety—that “ our belief must arise “ solely from implicit reliance upon the authority which de“ clares them.” I need not hesitate to say, that it is on this ground I am a believer in the doctrine of the Trinity. I believe that in one sense Deity is One, and that in some other sense Deity is THREE. I believe it simply on the authority of God, who declares it in his word;—and I durst not with

* Conybeare's Sermon.

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