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istence of a Trinity of Persons, in the same Divine Nature, is even contradictory, and therefore impossible; that it overthroweth the primary Notions of our Understanding, and allowed Principles of Reason. Even many Professors of Christianity, who acknowledge all the Revelations of Christ to be true, and believe him to have acted by a Divine Mission, yet stumble at this Stone of Offence; and therefore to avoid it, have taken up unwarrantable Opinions, plainly repugnant to the whole Tenor of the Gospel, as the Arians of old, and Socinians in later Days.
That we therefore may not be scandalized with the fame Difficulties, that we may be able to resist the Delusions, and even overcome the Prejudices of these Men, it will not be amiss to consider, as far as we may with Safety and Modesty, that Doctrine which is the peculiar Business of this Day. For altho’ it becomes us not too narrowly to pry into the Secrets of Heaven, and rafhly determine Matters, the cognizance of which bclongeth not to us; yer since it hath pleased God to reveal this Mystery to Mankind, and make it an Article of Faith, it now ceafeth to be a Secret of Heaven, and it is both our Duty and Concern to enquire into the credibility of it.
For the Christian Religion debars us not from a scrupulous Search into the Truth of her Doctrines, and placeth no Merit in a
blind Belief of her Propositions. It is ac, cepred indeed by God, as an Act of Obe. dience and Merit (I mean Merit in a large sense) to believe his Promises of a Resurrection and eternal Life afrer Death; as it was imputed unto Abraham for Righteous. nefs, that trusting in the Promises of God, of giving him a better Inheritance in ano. ther Land, he forsook his own Country, and his Father's House; altho' neither we nor he have received the Assurance of those Promises by the Evidence of Sense: He had not yet seen the Land of Canaan, and we do not yet enjoy the Possession of those glorious Promises.
Notwithstanding all this, God neither requires nor accepts an irrational Belief in Man; but as he at first endued him with reasonable Faculties, so he expects he should make use of them to bis Glory; which is by no other thing so much diminish’d, as by affixiog to him Revelations repugnant to Reason, and including Contradictions; and that the Doctrine of the Trinity is not such, I will endeavour to mani. fest, as plainly as the Obscurity of the Subject will permit.
The Foundations of my intended Discourse are laid down by the Apostle in the Text, and in the Context of it; which therefore it will be necessary to explain; and therein I desire you to accompany me, by looking upon the place. The Apostle had, in the firft eight Verses of this Chapcer, declared the Nature and Simplicity of his Preaching and Doctrine; that it was not recommended by pompous and affected Ornaments of Rhetorick; that it depended not upon Syllogisms and nice Speculations, as did that of the Gentile Philosophers, who were esteemed the only knowing Men of the Age; that the Matters declared by him, were not such as might be found out by the natural Light of Reason; or when found out, were such as would be applauded by the World as extraordinary Flights of Speculation. [They were not the Wisdom of Men, nor the Wisdom of the World,] .5, and 6. [But the Wisdom of God;] Matters not to be found out by the sole Gui. dance of Reason, but deliver'd by the infallible Revelation of God, who had atteft. ed the Truth of them by the wonderful Effects of his Power and Spirit, manifested in the Miracles and successful Preaching of Christ and his Apostles.
And left it should seem incredible to any, that the Matters of Divine Revelation shou'd be inconceivable to human Reason, acting by its own Power, he sheweth us in the 9th Verse; That this was no more than was foretold by the ancient Prophets, whose Veracity was allowed by the far greater part of those to whom he writ. For it was written in the Prophet Isaiah, [Eye hath not feen, nor ear beard, neither have entred into the heart of man, the things which God bath prepared for them that love him.] So that it is undeniable, that the Will of God, and the Mysteries of Heaven may be unknown to Men, acting by the sole Light of Reason; but to Men acquainted with the Divine Revelations concerning them may be certainly known: Now this is the Case of Christianity. For as it followeth in the 1oth Verse, [God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit,] that is, by his Son acting by the Spirit and Commission of God, and by his Holy Spirit instructing the Apostles in the knowledge of them, and confirming them by Signs following. And that such Revelation is infallible, none can deny; for that it proceedeth from one who infallibly knew the Truth of what he taught, even the Spirit of God, [For the Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep things of God.]
And lest any one should except to these Revelations, and deny assent to them, because they are things which he never thought of before; and which, even when revealed to him, he cannot well conceive; the Apostle fhews us, that we have no reason to wonder or stumble at this, from the obvious Example of the Soul of Man, in the rith Verse: The Nature of which cannot be conceived by any Being inferior to it, nor the Secrets, or the secret Thoughts of it, found out by any Being equal to it. [For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the Spirit of man which is in him?] Yet would it be unreasonable for an inferior Bę. ing (if it could speak and argue) to deny that the Soul of Man is endued with noble Faculties, because it cannot conceive the Nature of them; or for one Man to deny that there are any secret Thoughts in the Soul of another, because he cannot attain to the knowledge of them. And if things be so, then we must allow the Conclusion drawn in the Text, [Even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the spirit of God] and not unreasonably doubt of the Truth of them, because we cannot conceive the man. ner and nature of them.
So then, all Objections drawn from the Difficulty of the Conception cease; and it remains only to consider, whether the al. ledged Revelation be truly Divine. This therefore the Apostle asserts in the 12th Verse; declaring his Preaching of it to be founded, not upon bare Conjectures and nice Conclusions, as were the Systems of Philofophy then received and applauded in the World; from which he distinguisheth the Christian Faith by these two Characters, that this proceeded from the Revelation of God, that from the Invention of Men: [Now we bave received not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God.] And that whereas the Gentile Philosophy, the Wif dom of this World, contributed nothing to promote the Happiness of Man, and secure to him the Favour of God; the other effect