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THE

CONTENT S.

VOLUME III.

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SERMONS AND TRACTS.

THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY, STATED AND VINDICATED.

Being the Substance of feveral Difcourfes on that important Subject; reduced into the Form of a Treatife.

CHA P. I.

The Introduction; with the proof of the unity of the Divine Effence; or,

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that there is but one God.

HE Doctrine of a Trinity of perfons in the unity of the divine effence is, without controverfy, a great mystery of godlinefs. The ancient Jews used to call it the fublime mystery, and fometimes the mystery of all myfteries; which if a man did not endeavour to make himself acquainted with, it would have been better for him if he had never been created: and fometimes they called it the mystery of faith; a phrafe which the apoftle uses in 1 Tim. iii. 9. where he makes it one part of the qualification of a deacon, to "hold the mystery of the faith in a pure confcience." By which, perhaps, agreeable to the use of the phrase among the Jews, he may chiefly design the VOL. III. doctrine

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doctrine of the Trinity. And if this is to be held in a pure confcience by deacons, much more by the Ministers of Chrift, who are stewards of the myfteries of God, and whose business it is to make known the mystery of the gofpel to others.

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This is a doctrine of pure revelation. That there is a God, and that there is but one God, who is a Being poffeffed of all divine perfections, may be known by the light of nature: but that there is a Trinity of perfons in the Godhead, who are diftinct, though not divided from each other, is what natural reafon could never have difcovered. The books of the Old and New Testament contain the "fure word of prophecy, to which we do well if we take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place". This is and ought to be our guide in all such abstruse and mysterious doctrines; if we leave this, and are led and governed by the false reasonings of our carnal minds, no wonder if we run ourselves into mazes, and then find it difficult to get clear. "To the law and to the teftimony, if any speak not according to this word, "it is because there is no light in them "." Since this doctrine is revealed in fcripture, it ought to be an article of our faith; though it may be attended with fome difficulties, which we cannot account for. That it is a doctrine of great importance, needs no other evidence, though other may easily be given, than the great oppofition which Satan has made against it. He, indeed, has recourse to many ftratagems, wiles and cunning devices to fupport his own interest, and hurt the intereft of Chrift. But there are two ways more especially, which he has taken for this purpose: one is, to depreciate the divine Being in one or other of the three glorious perfons wherein it fubfifts, in their characters or offices: and the other is, to magnify and exalt the reafon of man, his intellectual powers, and the freedom of his will, in fpiritual and divine things, One while man is fet up as a creature invested with powers and abilities to convert himself, to do every thing that is fpiritually good, and that may conduce to his prefent or future happiness, the defign of which is, to throw a veil on the glories of divine grace, and render the merits of Chrift, and the opera tions of the spirit, unneceffary: at other times he employes all his ftrength and cunning, either to destroy the proper Deity of the Son and Spirit, and to bring into contempt their refpective characters, offices and works; or to introduce a total confufion into the facred Trinity, by denying a distinction of perfons in the Godhead, the whole of which may be properly called antichriftianifm; for he is Antichrift that denieth the Father and the Son." He that fays, The father is the fon, and the fon is the father, and allows of

d Ifa. viii. 20.

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• Viderint igitur Antichrifti, qui negant patrem & filium. Negant enim patrem, dum eundem filium dicunt, & negant filium, dum eundem patrem credunt, dando illis quæ non funt, auferendo quæ funt. Tertullian. adv. Prax. cap. 30.

no distinction between them, confounds them both; and by confounding them both, tacitly denies that there is either. Now it being my prefent defign to treat of the doctrine of the Trinity, I fhall obferve the following method in difcourfing on this argument:

I. I fhall endeavour to prove the unity of the divine effence, or that there is but one God.

II. That there is a plurality in the Godhead.

III. That this plurality is neither more or fewer than three, which three are the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghoft. And, IV. I fhall confider the several characters, the proper Deity, and distinct perfonality of each of these three.

I. I shall endeavour to prove the unity of the divine effence; or, that there is but one God. This is a truth which the wiser fort' of the heathens, their philofophers and poets, have affented to, who laughed at, and derided the polytheism of their own people: the Jews have always retained it even to this day, as an article in their Creed; and no wonder they should, fince it is writ ten, as with a fun-beam, in the writings of the Old Testament: and as for us Christians, "we know as the Apostle fays, That an idol is nothing in the "world; and that there is none other God but one." So that we are all Unitarians in a sense, though not in the same sense. The method I shall take in difcourfing on this head, will be this:

First, I shall endeavour to prove the assertion, that there is but one God. Secondly, Explain in what sense we use the words, when we fay, there is but one God.

First, I fhall endeavour to prove the affertion. Now that there is but one God, will admit of proof from the confideration of the being and perfections of God, and his relation to his creatures; as well as from the teftimonies both of the Old and of the New Teftament.

ift, That there is but one God, may be concluded from the confideration of the being and perfections of God, and his relation to his creatures.

It may be argued from the necessary existence of God. He that is God, neceffarily exists: if he does not neceffarily exist, his existence must be owing

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f Mercurius, Trifmegiftus, Pythagoras, Socrates, Plato, Proclus, Plotinus, Porphyry, Ariftotle, Epictetus, Seneca, Cicero, Plutarch, Homer, Hefiod, Theognis, Sophocles, &c. Mornaeus de Verit. Chrift. Relig. 1. 3.

It is the fecond Article in their Creed; and is ftrongly afferted by Maimonides, in Yefode Hattora, c. 1. §. 4. and by R. Jofeph Albo, in Sepher Ikkarim, 1. z. c. 6, 7. 1 Cor. viii.

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to fome caufe, which caufe must be either himself or another; not another, for then he that is the cause of his existence, must be God, and not he himself: and if he was the cause of his own existence, then he must be, and not be at the fame moment, or be before he was; either of which is a contradiction in terms. It remains then, that God exifts neceffarily and if he exists neceffarily, then there is but one God; for a reafon cannot be given, why there should be more than one that neceffarily exifts.

The fame truth may be proved from the eternity of God. He that is God,. is eternal; he is before all things; he is from everlasting to everlasting; he is the first and the last, the beginning and the end, and without either; he only hath immortality; eternity is peculiar to him; fo as it cannot be ascribed to any other being; nor can there be more than one eternal, and therefore no more than one God: for if, as he fays, " before him there was no God. "formed; neither shall there be after him," and again, that there is "no "God with him ;" then it follows, there can be none but himself.

The immenfity and infinity of God are strong proofs of his unity. God is infinite in his being and perfections: "his understanding is infinite'," and fo are his power, his goodness, his juftice and his holiness, &c. As his eternity is that perfection by which he is not bounded by time, fo his immensity; or infinity, is that perfection by which he is not bounded, or circumfcribed by space. He that is God is every where; there is no fleeing from his presence; he fills heaven and earth with it; and by filling them, is not contained in them: "the heaven, and the heaven of heavens cannot contain " him. Now more infinites than one there cannot be: if we fuppofe two, either the one must reach unto, comprehend, and include the other, or it must not; if it does not, then it is not infinite and immenie, and fo not God; if it does reach unto, comprehend and include the other; then that which is included by it is finite, and fo not God. In fhort, there cannot be more infinites than one; and if there cannot be more infinites than one, then there cannot be more gods than one.

The argument will receive fome ftrength from the confideration of God's omnipotence. He, that is God, is almighty; can do all things; fits in the heavens, and does whatsoever he pleases: and if there is one that can do all things, what need is there of more? or what reafon can be given why more fhould be fuppofed? The word, almighty, admits of no degrees; it cannot be faid that there is one that is almighty, and another that is more almighty, and another that is most almighty; no, there is but one almighty, and therefore but one God.

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The 1. Pfalm cxlvii. 5. m 1 Kings viii. 27.

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