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this and on all similar subjects, it is difficult to select, on every occasion, such terms as cannot be perverted, and made to assume the appearance of inconsistency, by an acute and subtle disputant. I am not, however, sensible that any thing in my volume is really at variance with the sentiments of the above extract. When a man has once stated the sense in which he employs any particular term, he is certainly entitled to be understood accordingly, in his subsequent use of it on the same subject. In the preceding quotation from my first Discourse, it is explicitly declared, that when the terms person and personality are used, I would not be understood as pretending to any precise and definite conception of the nature of that distinction in Deity which these terms import. Was it, then, an unreasonable expectation, that my readers should carry this declaration along with them, through the remainder of my volume;—that when the same terms are used again, they should be understood with the qualification previously affixed to them ;—that when I speak of the persons in Deity as distinct, I should not be interpreted as pretending to comprehend clearly how they are distinct ? A generous disputant would certainly have felt himself bound to proceed on this reasonable principle. Yet, because I have not been perpetually repeating my explanation, Mr. Yates has thought fit to represent me as, “through more than the « latter half of my volume, treating the distinction of per
sons in the Godhead as a clear and intelligible doctrine;" and he strives, in this way, to set the latter half at variance with the former.
This attempt to convict me of inconsistency and contradiction, is connected with an endeavour to fix upon me the usual charge of tritheism. The former, indeed, is involved in the latter, and forms part of the disingenuous means by
which the charge is supported. It would have been very foolish in me, to expect to pass a Unitarian inquisition, without having this hackneyed libel preferred against me. Let us see how Mr. Yates goes to work in finding ground for it.
The first ground he finds, he makes for himself, by introducing a statement of the doctrine of the Trinity which is not mine. Finding it somewhat difficult, I presume, to attack me directly on the favourite charge of believing in three Gods;—disappointed at not being able to select any passage from my Discourses sufficiently gross and revolting to the reader's mind;-he brings in a quotation from Dr. Sherlock, possessing this quality in a degree quite to his satisfaction,a quotation containing a statement of the doctrine of the Trinity, such as he perfectly well knows I never could adopt;—no, nor one in hundreds, I am bold to say, of the Trinitarian body:—and then he tries to make out that my sentiments are the same in substance, although different in expression.—I say,
tries to make out. For what is his proof?_" Mr. Ward“ law,” says he, “is no less explicit than Dr. Sherlock, in main“ taining that the three persons in the Godhead are distinct.” The whole weight of evidence by which he seeks to identify me with Dr. Sherlock, consists in my having used the term persons, and applied to these persons the epithet distinct, to which he gives the emphasis of Italics. But was not Mr. Yates perfectly aware, that, in using these terms, I had explicitly disavowed all pretension to understanding the nature of the distinction which is expressed by them?—and that therefore , I considered all attempts at explanation, and all such language as that of Dr. Sherlock, to be the height of presumption, originating in self-sufficiency, and terminating in self-contradiction? I am explicit in maintaining the persons in Deity to be
distinct. And what then? Is there any inconsistency in using this epithet, to distinguish my views from Sabellianism, and yet meaning by the use of it no more, than that in the unity of the Godhead there is a distinction, which, while I believe it to exist, I cannot pretend to explain or to comprehend?
Remarks of a similar kind will apply to my use of the term person. I have employed it in compliance with established usage,
and because I do not know that another could be devised more appropriate. But of its precise import, as applied to a distinction in the Divine essence, I have professed my own incompetency, and my conviction of the incompetency of others, to form any clear conception.' But Mr. Yates alleges, that the whole of the latter part of my volume is at variance with this profession.
« In his Discourse," says he, “ on the Divinity and Personality of the Holy Spirit, he gives
a most clear, ample, and correct account of the significa66 tion of the term person.
What,' says be, do we mean by a person? By a person we mean that which
possesses person“ al properties,'” '&c.-Such, in truth, is the amount of the 6 clear, ample, and correct account” of the signification of the term person: for as to the quotation afterwards introduced by me from Paley, the design of it is not at all to enumerate the particular properties, or kinds of properties, of which the possession is essential to personality; but merely to confirm the position, that the only possible proof of personality, is the proof of the possession of personal properties:—which end it an
swers, by showing, that in the department of natural religion, • we do not, and cannot, prove the personality of Deity from any
knowledge we possess of his essence, but solely from the indications abounding in the works of nature, of certain properties possessed by their Author, from which his personality is necessarily inferred. When, after defining a person to be that
possesses personal properties, I proceed to show that, in the Scriptures, properties confessedly of this nature are ascribed to the Holy Spirit, the inference certainly is intended to be, that the Holy Spirit, as possessing these properties, must be a person. But does this imply my understanding, or pretending to understand, how the Holy Spirit subsists in personal distinction from the Father and the Son?-in what manner personal properties are possessed and exercised by each?—which is the same thing as, what the nature of the distinction is?- The question is, Are personal properties ascribed to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit, in such a way as to indicate a distinction in the unity of the Godhead? I have affirmed, and endeavoured to prove, that they are. But fur ther I have not presumed to go; because the volume of Revelation goes no further. Mr. Yates, therefore, would have spared his laboured attempt,-an attempt which, I have no doubt, he himself thought peculiarly happy,--to set in pointed contrast the first and second parts of my volume, had he only done, what justice and generosity alike required of him;-had he taken along with him the qualifying explanation which I had given at the outset, and which I certainly intended should accompany to the close my use of the terms distinct, subsistences, persons and personality, in their application to Deity.
In the same connexion, in Mr. Yates's Reply, there occurs an instance of misrepresentation, which I hardly know whether to ascribe to carelessness or to design. After having endeavoured to fasten on me the view of Dr. Sherlock, as to the Holy Spirit being a distinct mind, or intelligent Being, he proceeds to say~ That he” (Mr. W.) “ holds the same doc“ trine concerning the second person is equally manifest. He
assigns as a reason for not proving Jesus Christ to be a person, that his personality, in the sense in which the term
“ personality is applied to the Holy Spirit, was never disputed.* 66 When, therefore, he calls the second of the three distinct 66 subsistences a person, he means, that that subsistence is a “ distinct mind, or intelligent being." (Pages 127, 128.)
Now either Mr. Yates was nodding when he penned this, or he felt himself sadly pinched for proof, and calculated largely on the stupidity of his readers. The most effectual way to show this, will be to give at length the paragraph from which his garbled quotation is taken.
66 In the more “ direct discussion of this subject, I shall begin with the evi6 dence of personality.To some of you this may, perhaps, " appear preposterous. But by the proof of personality, on “ the present occasion, is meant, it should be observed, the “proof that the Holy Spirit is a person at all. On our for“ mer subject, there was no necessity for our leading a proof 6 of this nature; the personality of Jesus Christ, in this sense “ of the term, t having never been disputed. The only ques“ tion on that subject was, not whether he was a person, but “ whether he was a person in the Godhead. But in the argu- . “ment now before us, the case is otherwise. The Holy Spi66 rit is not considered, at least in general, by the opponents “ of his Divinity, as a creature, possessing distinct personal ex6 istence; but as a quality, a power, an influence. In this case, “ therefore, the proof of personality is an important and es“ sential step towards the proof of his Divinity. And, indeed, “ in many instances, the evidence of the former will be found 6 to involve in it a proof of the latter.” (Discourses, pages 280, 281,)
The meaning of this does not seem to be very obscure. The personality of Jesus Christ, apart from his Divinity,
* The Italics are Mr. Yates's. + The words alluded to by Mr. Yates.