Page images

fects to call it, though he owns himself, in p. 3, that it "begun to be promoted in the fourth century, and "has been propagated ever since) is a gross, irre


gious, antichristian error, is tritheism and heresy." These are very hard words, and contain a very hig charge; and will therefore reflect not a little dis grace upon this writer, if he should fail in making t good. And if he thought himself able to do so, an: was disposed to enter again into the question cocerning the truth of the received doctrine of the Trinity, why did he not write a full and just answer to the doctor's former learned and valuable labours? particularly his Second Defence, Sermons, and Fær ther Defence: whereas he has only revived the old exploded objections, concealing all along from his readers the repeated answers made by the doctor, and others, to them.

Dr. Waterland's book therefore, of the Importance of the Doctrine of the Trinity, has gained its end: the episcopians, or indifferent, are equally condemned on both sides, and the doctrine on all hands allowed to be important. Indeed, on any other supposition, how can our author justify the conduct of his party, who have pestered the world with a long debate concerning a point, which, after all, is of very little or no importance? The importance therefore of the doctrine must be admitted: and now we are to return to the question concerning its truth, where the adversaries had been abundantly baffled before, and made to retreat to the question about importance. So are they driven backwards and forwards, reel and stagger, and are at their wit's end here, just as they are between worship and no worship a P. 1, 2.

of Christ and the Holy Spirit. How our author has managed the argument concerning the truth of the doctrine, (though foreign to his purpose,) will, I trust, appear in the course of these observations.

His three or four first pages are written in such a spirit, that were I really of his opinion, I should not be able to defend or approve his manner of supporting it. He complains of the doctor's as an "b extra


vagant ill-natured book, void of all moderation, de"cency, and even modesty." But the reader will compare and judge for himself; and he will see that this was only a pretence to excuse or palliate his own abusive way of writing. It seems to be the fate of Arianism, that it cannot be supported by fair and reputable methods. Our author might have spared the reflection, that the received doctrine of the Trinity" has been propagated by popish vio"lence and persecution;" because the same bad practices were used to propagate a doctrine directly contrary to it, (with which this writer is well acquainted,) before popery was in being d. And if one may judge from the temper of some men's writings, the pen would not be the only weapon they would draw against their adversaries, if the law allowed them to make use of others. Dr. Waterland then perhaps might resemble Athanasius in more respects than one, and not only write, but suffer for the orthodox cause. But let us quit this subject for one more entertaining: for though this writer's spirit and temper be unchristian enough to make a good man sorry for him, yet his arguments, I am per

[blocks in formation]

d See Cave's Life of Athanasius, or Trapp's Doctrine of the Trinity, p. 192. or Berriman's Historical Account, &c. Serm. IV.

suaded, will have a quite contrary effect, and go near to make him smile.



He would have us believe, p. 4, that Dr. Waterland" does not at all understand what is a funda"mental doctrine of religion." To make us amends, however, he undertakes to tell us. "In natural religion," says he, "there is no fundamental doctrine "or article, but which is clearly evident and de"monstrable by reason :-therefore, in natural religion there is but one fundamental article." But why so, sir? Is there but one article in natural religion which is clearly evident and demonstrable by reason? Yes, says he, "the belief of the existence of "God," (which is one article,) " and his providential government of the world," (which is another,) " and worshipping him under the expectation of a judgment to come," (which is a third,) "is the "sum and substance of natural religion." And therefore in natural religion there is but one fundamental article. Q. E. D.



With regard to revealed religion he is a little more liberal, and, p. 4, allows two fundamental articles, "thus declared," says he, "by our Saviour "himself; This is life eternal, that they may know "thee (the Father) the only true God, and Jesus "Christ whom thou hast sent. John xvii. 3." But need we then believe nothing else, and are no articles but these two necessary? Yes, says our author, in these all others are included. "In the mis"sion of Christ, and his being Mediator, is con"tained and included, not only the belief of his "death, resurrection, and ascension,-but also-the "mission of the Holy Ghost, and belief in him."

e P. 5.

I am afraid then he must enlarge his catalogue of fundamentals; or else allow some articles to be necessary which are in no sense fundamental. And indeed this seems to be his sentiment: that no article, however necessary, however important, can be a fundamental, unless it be, as I may say, a prime verity, a first principle. No article that is a deduction from, nothing that is contained and included in another, can be fundamental. So that this wise builder, as far as I can see, allows nothing to be fundamental, nothing to belong to the foundation, but the very corner-stone. I ask his pardon if I mistake his sentiment, and my reader's if I leave it to confute itselff. However, we will grant him that every fundamental doctrine must be "clearly ex"pressed" in scripture: and what then? why, not to insist upon our Saviour's commission to his disciples to baptize all nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, (Matt. xxviii. 19.) quoted by our author himself; "St. "Paul," says he, " (Ephes. iv. 4, 5, 6.) fully ex


presseth the Christian doctrine of the Trinity "in these words; viz. one Spirit, one Lord, one "God and Father of all, who is above all." So that here again, "in consequence and consistency "with himself," he must acknowledge the Christian doctrine of the Trinity (whatever that is) to be a necessary, an important, a fundamental doctrine.

f 66

I suppose it a much clearer notion of fundamentals, to un"derstand them, not as principles, from whence deductions may "be drawn of theological truths; but in regard of that immediate respect which they have to men's salvation." Bishop Stillingfleet's Grounds of Protestant Religion, p. 50.

[ocr errors]

& P. 5.

What his doctrine of the Trinity is, and what he would insinuate by writing the words above al in different characters, this is not the place to examine.



There is nothing but embarrassment and confusion in this writer's account of fundamentals: let us look for a better elsewhere." There is no giving an "exact catalogue of important, or fundamental doc "trines," though it is certain, "that some are of greater importance than others." And this importance may be estimated, either by the "con"nexion which any doctrine" has "with Christian practice or worship, or with the whole economy of "man's salvation by Christ; or by its being plainly, frequently, or strongly inculcated in holy scrip"ture." Now Dr. Waterland has proved, in three distinct chapters, that the received doctrine of the Trinity is sufficiently clear, and also practical, and "sufficiently insisted upon likewise in scripture, to "be deemed an article of prime importance." All which our author had the prudence to leave just as he found them.


In pages 5, 6. our author seems to think that Dr. Waterland cannot reconcile the passages of scripture [viz. John xvii. 3. 1 Cor. viii. 6. Ephes. iv. 4, 5, 6. 1 Tim. ii. 5.] here quoted by him with his principles. Yes, he can; and, upon the authority of the fathers, can even prove his doctrine of the Trinity from those very places. The reader will satisfy himself of this, by consulting, amongst others, the books referred to in the margin. Whether he has "mis

h Importance, p. 8, 9.

i First Defence, p. 8, 9, 10, &c. Second Defence, p. 50, &c. Sermons, p. 48, 53, &c. Farther Defence, p. 14, 15, 16, &c. The

« PreviousContinue »