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into the motives of another, and ascertain his springs of action? It is the principle only I combat.
And much as I might be inclined to respect or to pity the motives of any individual who continued to profess what he disbelieved, the principle, as a general rule, I must-nay, you mustutterly condemn.
Let us now proceed to the explanations of the Trinity in Unity, given by those who have really believed it. Shall I be told, it needs no explanation ; it admits of no explanation ; you are satisfied and require none? Let me ask you, would you not be better satisfied, if you could give an explanation ?
Look into your own mind, and ask yourself, whether your own conviction would not be more firm, your pleasure indefinitely augmented, if your ideas upon
the subject were perfectly clear and distinct, if you could give such a lucid explanation of what you meant, as to satisfy the most doubting mind, and bring the question at issue nearly to a demonstration ?
But however satisfied you may express
yourself, or may really be, the mind will endeavour to understand and to explain.*
* The following quotations from the pions Dr. Watts are so much to the point, and probably will be considered so important as having the sanction of his name, that they ought not to be omitted.
“ Hadst thou informed me, gracious Father, in any place of thy word, that this divine doctrine is not to be understood by men, and yet they were required to believe it, I would have subdued all my curiosity to faith, and submitted my wandering and doubtful imaginations, as far as it was possible, to the holy and wise determinations of thy word. But I cannot find thou hast any
where forbid me to understand it, or to make these enquiries. My conscience is the best natural light thou hast put within me, and since thou hast given me the Scriptures, my own conscience bids me search the Scriptures, to find out truth and eternal life. It bids me try all things, and hold fast that which is goud. And thy own word, by the same expressions, encourages this holy practice. I have, therefore, been long searching into this divine doctrine, that I may pay thee due honour with understanding. Surely I ought to know the God whom I worship, whether he be one pure and simple Being, or whether thou art å threefold Deity, consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.
“Dear and blessed God, hadst thou been pleased, in any one plain scripture, to have informed me which of the different opimions, about the holy Trinity, among the contending parties of Christians, had been true, thou knowest with how muck zeal, satisfaction and joy, my unbiassed heart would have opened itself to receive and embrace the divine discovery. Hadst thou told me plainly in any siugle text, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are three real distinct persons in thy divine nature, I had never suffered myself to be bewildered in
About a century and a half ago, this subject underwent a most ample discussion.
so many doubts, nor embarrassed with so many strong fears of assenting to the mere inventions of men, instead of divine doctrine ; but I should have humbly and immediately accepted thy words, so far as it was possible for me to understand them, as the only rule of my faith. Or hadst thou been pleased so to express and include this proposition in the several scattered parts of thy book, from whence my reason and conscience might with ease find out and with certainty infer this doctrine, I should have joyfully employed all my reasoning powers, with their utmost skill and activity, to have found out this inference and engrafted it into
soul. “ Thou hast taught me, holy Father, by thy prophets, that the way of holiness, in the times of the Gospel, or under the kingdom of the Messiah, shall be a highway, a plain and easy path ; so that the way-faring man or the stranger, though a fuol, shall not err therein. And thou hast called the poor and the ignorant, the mean, and the foolish things of this world, to the knowledge of thyself and thy Son, and taught them to receive and partake of the salvation which thou hast provided. But how can such weak creatures ever take in so strange, so difficult, and so abstruse a doctrine as this, in the explication and defence whereof, multitudes of men, even men of learning and piety, have lost themselves in infinite subtilties of dispute, and endless mazes of darkness? And can this strange and perplexing notion of three real persons going to make up one true God, be so necessary and so important a part of that Christian doctrine, which, in the Old Testament and the New, is represented as so plain and so easy, even to the meanest understandings :">
Watts's Solemn Address to the great and blessed God, p. 3, 4.
The following extract is taken from a pamphlet supposed to contain the last opinions of this worthy man upon the subject.
The most learned men entered into the controversy. Though all agreeing in the
“Now there are but two ways men have found out, or that I can possibly conceive how this can be represented, but by supposing that the same one true Godhead is in three persons, or by supposing that three persons are in the same one true Godhead. The last of these suppositions has been the most common, and I was brought up in the belief of it, as though it had been all scriptural, viz. that three persons are in one Godhead; but upon mature search, I do not find this any where expressed in scripture; nor any thing from which it can be certainly inferred." A Faithful Enquiry after the Ancient and Original Doctrine of the Trinity, 8c. By Isaac Watts, D.D.
This pamphlet was reprinted and first published by Mr. Gabriel Watts, in the year 1802. He gives the following account respecting it in his Preface.
from which this little piece on the Trinity is taken, was accidentally found in a collection of old books several years since ;* and it appears from internal evidence and collateral circumstances to be the work of that eminent and popular author whose name it bears. The solemn Address, indeed, is universally allowed to be his genuine production; and the editors of his works acknowledge, that it was originally prefixed to some pieces of his on the Trinity, which it was not judged necessary to publish. This acknowledgment perfectly corresponds with the order in which the following work was found, and in which it is now reprinted for universal inspection. There is reason to believe, however, that a publication of it was intended, and actually attempted by its worthy author; but that in consequence of undue influence from his immediate connections, it was entirely frustrated.”+
. This was in a bookseller's shop, in Southampton, in the year 1796. The author's name, &c. together with the date, were written at the bottom of the title-page, as in the present impression.
+ In a blank leaf of the original work was written in a fair hand, the following sentence, verbatim :-" The Doctor printed off only fifty
phrase, a Trinity in Unity, the diversity of their opinions, as to what it meant, is not a little remarkable.
I shall first give the explanation of Dr. Wallis,* “ that a person of the Deity means only a mode, a respect, or relation of God to his creatures. He beareth to his creatures these three relations, modes,
, or respects, that he is their Creator, their Redeemer, and their Sanctifier; this is what we mean, and all we mean, when we say that God has three persons.” Is this what you mean—is it all you mean, when you speak of a Trinity in Unity? Then we are agreed. We allow, we fully believe in all these relations of Deity.-Nay, we go further. We believe that he is not only the Creator, the Redeemer, the Sanctifier of his creatures, but also their Protector, their Governor, and their Judge. Agreeing then in the fact, we only ask a few questions.
copies of this work, and shewed them to some friends, who all per. suaded him that it would ruin his character in bis old age, for publishing such dotages, and at length he was prevailed on to burn them; so that the whole impression of fifty was destroyed without publication, except this single copy of it, which by an accident escaped the fames !
* A celebrated mathematician at Cambridge about 1640. He was chaplain to king Charles II. His explanation is I believe How adopted at the University in Oxford.