Imatges de pàgina
PDF
EPUB

out, either as unknown, or as not materialp. I am sensible that the phrase of numerical essence has long obtained in the Schools, and is capable of a good sense : but yet essence of essence (ever since that term came in) was always. Catholic doctrine, as God of God; and numerical essence, a more modern phrase, must be so explained as to agree with the other, and to exclude a Sabellian sense. Otherwise it is no doctrine of ours, but an ancient heresy. But enough has been said to show, that the learned Limborch. has used a little too much art, in representing our doctrine as obscure, only by the clouds raised from an obscure expression. The doctrine itself is otherwise clear enough, as. I have before manifested at large : and every plain Christian will understand as clearly what he means when he says,

the "three divine Persons are one God," as when he says, there will be “a resurrection of the dead 9." Both the expressions are large and indefinite, wrapped up in generals; not descending to the minute circumstances belonging to this and that, but abstracting from them, and leaving them undetermined.

I meet with nothing more in Limborch deserving any particular answer. He has indeed some additional considerations in the same place, but such as amount only to mere assertions without proofs, viz. that it is sufficient to believe in Jesus as the Messiah, and that our faith respects the office, not the Person ; that it is enough to consider him as Mediator, and the like; all precarious assertions taking for granted the matter in question, not to mention that the ancient and true notion of Christ as Mediator implies his Divinity, and supposes him to be both truly God

p Sæpe res ipsa fundamentalis esse potest, modus vero rei, et circumstantiæ minime fundamentales. Etenim cum res ipsa tantum in genere revelata est, et tanquam necessaria a Deo imposita, tunc certe res ipsa tantum pro fundamento habenda est, non vero modus et circumstantiæ quæ pari evidentia, aut cum simili necessitatis charactere revelata non sunt. Et re vera, paucissimæ sunt res, præsertim in divinis, quarum modum et circumstantias perfecte noscamus. Alphons. T'urret. de Fundament. p. 20.

4 Lib. v. cap. 9. p. 414.

and truly man'. Strange that a person of his great abilities could persuade himself, that the believing in Christ as to his several offices of Prophet, Priest, and King, should be necessary $, and yet that believing in him as a divine Prophet, a divine Priest, and a divine King, (though the fact be true that he is so,) should be of little or no significancy. One might as easily believe, that the soul is of no consideration to the body, as that our Lord's Divinity, which runs through all his offices, and must enliven and invigorate every part, should be of no consideration, or slight, to a Christian's faith in these offices. But this great man, as well as his greater predecessor, had his prejudices; and both of them had imbibed a very false notion of the ancient churches, as if they had not constantly insisted upon the necessity of believing the doctrine of the Trinity, or had not condemned the contrary opinions as heretical. That was Episcopius's firm persuasion, and he insisted much upon it', having taken up the opinion too hastily from misrepresentations made of the Fathers, by some moderns, not being himself acquainted, to any degree of perfection, with that kind of learningu. And the like may be justly suspected of Limborch also, who trusted to Petavius in that matter, as I have already intimated. Had their surmise in that particular been just, I could not so much have blamed them for the rest. For to make any thing necessary at this time of day, which anciently was not so, or to conceive that the most pure and primitive churches failed in necessaries, is too bold and shocking a thought for any candid considerate man to entertain. But both Episcopius and his disciple were much deceived in that affair, as hath been 'abundantly shown by Bishop Bull; and as I shall endeavour also to make plain to the English reader before I have done. And then it will the more easily be admitted, that the necessity of the doctrine is sufficiently inculcated in Scripture, when it appears that the ancient churches collected such necessity from the same Scripture.

" See my Second Defence, vol. iii. Qu. xvi. p. 347.

• Cum itaque objectum fidei Christianæ proprie respiciat munera Christi, eorum fides ac professio etiam necessaria est. Limb. lib. v. cap. 9. p. 415.

• Episcop. Inst. lib. iv. cap. 34. p. 339, 340. Respons. ad Specim. Calumn.

p. 295.

o Vid. Bull. Præmonit. ad Lector. de necessitat, credend.

I have not yet mentioned any particular texts declaring such necessity, nor do I think it needful, because the truth of such a doctrine infers its necessity to as many as the doctrine is revealed to. But yet I may observe, that the institution of baptism in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, carries with it a very sensible and affecting argument of the importance of the doctrine. It is indeed, when considered in all its views, a strong proof of the truth of the doctrine, as might be shown at large, and often has been? : but supposing the truth proved sufficiently from other texts, then there cannot be a more convincing argument of the importance of it than this; that our blessed Lord himself has recommended it as the prime and leading doctrine, without the explicit mention whereof a man cannot be made a Christian ; that he has conveyed it to us in that solemn form, that most distinguished manner to every disciple of Christ, as the first thing proper for bim to be acquainted with, deserving and requiring his most early thoughts and care, and also his constant and tenderest devotion ever after. On this foundation was the Church itself erected, and stands to this day. What stronger or more effectual method could have been devised to proclaim the necessity and high importance of this great article? A consideration which may receive yet farther light and strength, by looking into antiquity, and there observing what a stress was laid upon the interrogatories in baptism, and how this article made up the principal part, if not the whole of the first Creed, and what particular care was taken to instruct the candidates in this important doctrine previously to baptism: but what relates to antiquity will more properly come in under a distinct chapter designed for that purpose. I forbear likewise to insist upon another Scripture argument of great force, which St. John's writings afford me; because that also may more conveniently be reserved for another place in these papers.

* See my Sermons at St. Paul's, Serm. viii. vol. ii. p. 173, &c. Bishop Stillingfleet's Vindication of the Trinity, p. 177, &c. 299, &c. Vitringa, Observat. Sacr. tom. ii. cap. 22. p. 813-826. Dr. Trapp's Lecture Sermon, p. 100-104. Mr. Abraham Taylor's True Script. Doct. p. 91, &c. to which may be added, Basil, de Spiritu Sancto, cap. ix.--XV. xxvii.

I have now run through the three several heads of debate, which I undertook; showing in so many distinct chapters, that the received doctrine of the Trinity is both clear and practical, and sufficiently inculcated in Scripture to be esteemed an article of high importance, an essential of Christianity, a fundamental doctrine of the Gospel, diffusing itself through the whole of our religion, and being, as it were, the very life and spirit of it. It remains now to be inquired, how we ought to behave towards those who openly reject or impugn it, or take part with them that do.

CHAP. IV.

Showing, that Communion ought not to be held with men

that openly reject the fundamental Doctrines of Christianity, and persist in so doing.

زا

THIS may be argued two ways; first, from express Scripture texts; and next, from the very nature and reason of the thing considered upon Scripture principles.

1. I begin with Scripture texts. St. Paul's instructions to the Romans in such cases is : “ Mark them which « cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine “ which ye have learned; and avoid them: for they that

are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own

belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the “ hearts of the simple y.” The offenders here pointed at,

, Rom. xvi, 17, 18.

were most probably z the Judaizing false teachers, those that preach up circumcision and the observance of the law as necessary to salvation ; a doctrine subversive of the grace of the Gospel, as observed above. The Apostle therefore exhorts his Christian converts to mark them, that is, to beware of them, in order to avoid them, and to preserve themselves from the infection of their pernicious doctrine. And as he wrote by the Spirit of God, and had the gift of discerning the spirits of men, he could tell his converts, with a certain and well grounded assurance, the insides of the men; that they were men of carnal minds and profligate consciences, using fair and plausible speeches to beguile others, for their own humour, or pleasure, or interest, or vanity. Such indeed is the general character of heresiarchs of all kinds: but yet without very clear and sufficient grounds appearing in overt acts, men ought not to take upon them the liberty of an Apostle, in pronouncing upon the inward motives which heretics are led by: it is sufficient to pass sentence upon the quality of the doctrine, and to condemn it as subversive of the Gospel, (if it really be so,) and to renounce communion with its open favourers and abettors; so much at least is manifestly implied in the advice given to avoid them, or turn from them. Receive them not as ministers of Christ, nor own them as brethren : for they serve not the Lord Jesus Christ ; but their fair speeches and false colourings are fitted to deceive unwary souls. Therefore avoid them, shun them, discountenance them, and that openly : for so they which are approved, will be made manifesta, and not otherwise.

The same Apostle pointing to the same heretics elsewhere says, “There be some that trouble you, and would

pervert (subvert] the Gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other Gospel unto you

z See Grotius, and Whitby, and Wolfius, upon the place: and Vitringa, Observat. Sacr. lib. iv. cap. 9. Buddæi Eccles. Apostol. p. 121.

• 1 Cor. xi. 19.

« AnteriorContinua »