« FöregåendeFortsätt »
Y Bookseller having folicited me to re-publish
this little Treatise, I have corrected the typographical errors of the last edition, and enlarged some passages of the work itself.
The attempt of a late Bishop of Clogher to propagate Arianism in the Church of Ireland, induced me tò keep the doctrine of the Trinity in my thoughts for some years; and I had a particular attention to it as often as the Scriptures, either of the Old or New Testament, were before me. This little book was the fruit of
my ftudy; of which I have seen some good effects already, and ought not to despair of seeing more before I die.
Many other observations have occurred to me since the first publication, which I should willingly have added. But some readers might have been discouraged, if I had presented them with a book of too large a fize: and the merits of the cause lie in a finall compass.
The re-publication of this work, though merely accia dental, is not unseasonable at this time, when we aro
tauglit from the press *, (and the author feems to be very much in earnest) that the only sure way of reducing Christianity to its primitive purity, is to abolish all Creeds and Articles. But the great rock of offence with this writer, is the Trinity; to get rid of which, he would at once diffolve our whole ecclesiastical constitution, and form of worship
This wild project furnishes a melancholy confirmation of the cenfure passed upon us by fome learned Protestants abroad, who have reflected upon England as a country productive of literary monsters t; where fome old heresy is frequently rising up, as old comets have been supposed to do, with new and portentous appearances. And the reader whose fight can penetrate through the vehement accusations of popery, bigotry, persecution, imposition, and other fiery, vapour's with which this author hath furrounded his performance, will discover little, if any thing, more than Arianism at the centre.
The Scripture is the only rule that can enable us to judge whether that or the Catholic doctrine of the Trinity is more agreeable to truth: therefore I have confined myself to this unexceptionable kind of evidence for the proof of the latter, and have made the Scripture its own interpreter. But our adversaries, though they allow the fufficiency of the Scripture, and unjustly pretend to distinguish themselves from us by insisting upon it, do nevertheless make such frequent use of a lower fort of evidence .to bias common readers, and shew the expediency of what they are pleased to call Reformation; that I have thought proper to exhibit a specimen of their method of proceeding in that respect, by adding to this
* In a new work, intitled The Confessionci.
+ Carpzov, Pref, in Pfeudo Critic, Whiteni. VOL. II.
edition A Letter to the Common People, in answer to fome popular Arguments against the Trinity. These arguments are extracted chiefly from a small book, intitled, An Appeal to the Common Sense of all Christian People; a thing very highly commended by the author of the Confessional*. But in this author's estimation, every writer that opposes the faith of the Church of England, is ipfo facto invincible: and consequently, this retailer of Dr. Clarke's opinions, whoever he is, must come in for his share of merit and applause; which I by no means
So far as the Scripture itfelf hath been thought to furnith any objections to the received doctrine, I judged it the fairer and the furer way to answer them as they were offered by Dr. Clarke himself, and have therefore no apology to make for neglecting fome of his disciples, who have not made any improvement on his arguments, as I do not find that this gentleman hath: the second edition of whose Appeal was published in 1754, since which there have been two editions of the Catholic Doctrine in England, and one or more in Ireland.
By all the observations I have been able to make, the greater number of those who disbelieve the Trinity upon principle, (for many do it implicitly, and are credulous
# “ Which book," (says he) " has passed through two editions with out any sort of reply that I have heard of. This looks as if able writers were not willing to meddle with the subject, or that willing writers were not able to manage it.” p. 320. The Rev. Mr. Landon publithed an answer to this book in 1764, printed for Whiffon and Wbite: and he has mentioned another himself in a note. But had the case really been as he had reported in his text, it will by no means follow, that a book is therefore unanswerable, because it hath received no answer. If this be good logic, I could present him with a conclusion or two, which be would not very well like.
in their unbelief) do not profefs to take their notions of God from the Bible, but affect to diftinguith themselves from the common herd, by drawing them from the founa tains of Reason and Philosophy. We cannot be perfuaded that the Trinity is denied by reasoners of this complexion, because the Scripture hath not revealed it: but do rather suspect that some philosophers diffent from this point of Christian doctrine, because they are not humble enough to take the Scripture as a test of their religious opinions. In which case the whole labour of collecting of texts, and framing of comments, and fishing for various readings, is an after-thought. It is submitted to rather for apology than for proof: to reconcile readers of the Scripture to that doctrine which they would be more jealous of receiving if they knew it to have been originally borrowed from another quarter. He that would deceive a Christian, can feldom do his work effectually without a Bible in his hand: a consideration which may help us to a light of the consequences, if persons were permitted to teach in our churches without any previous enquiry concerning their religious sentiments, and so allowed to take the same liberty, either through mistake or ill design, as was taken by the archdeceiver in the wilderness *, who never meant to use the Scripture for edification, but only for destruction; not to apply it as an instrument of good, but to turn it, as far as he was able, into an instrument of evil. The Bible was given us for the preservation of the kingdom of Christ upon earth; as the Book of Statutes in this kingdom is intended to secure the authority of the government, together with the life, peace, and property, of every individual: and we want no prophet to foreshew us the consequences, if all the malecontents in the nation were allowed to be public interpreters of the laws.
* Matt. iv. 6.
Thèse considerations I leave the judicious to apply as they find occasion. I use them chiefly as hints, for the benefit both of such as may be in danger of wresting the Scriptures to their own destruction, and of such philosophers as those alluded to by St. Paul*, who through. the profession of fancied wisdom fell into real folly, and purchased a reputed knowledge of things natural and metaphysical, at the lamentable expence of losing the knowledge of God.
* Rom. i. 22. Cor. i. 21,
PLUCKLEY, Jan. 1, 1767.