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Thoughts are here given in preference to DissertaTions, for the sake of brevity and compression.
The several Clauses appear detached : there is, however, a gradual connexion between them. The subject is begun on such principles of abstract reasoning as might have been adopted, even if there had been no Revelation, Jewish or Christian. It is continued with reference to Heathen and Jewish opinions. It is pursued, as implied in the Baptismal Form delivered by Our Lord, and as taught by Evangelists, Apostles, Fathers. Of the question is then taken a retrospective view, which leads to the conclusion.
The mind of the Writer has long been much impressed with the force of the concluding words in this solemn charge ;
" When thou art converted, STRENGTHEN THY BRETHREN.” He is anxious to obey it. On examination and reflection being himself convinced, he employs his efforts to assist others, and support them in the Ancient Faith.
THIS SECOND AND POSTHUMOUS EDITION.
The First Edition of this work called forth many Remarks. Those Remarks were of various descriptions, and therefore must each receive an appropriate answer.
1. The Mottos were censured because taken from Poets.
If by one was inculcated Intellectual Humility; by the other, Spiritual Moderation ; whether the precepts were delivered in Verse or Prose, must be matter of indifference. They were, in the language of another Poet, φωναντα συνετοισι, « “ intelligible to the wise.' (Pind. Olymp. ii. 152.)
2. Invectives and Insinuations were thrown out against the Author.
Peace to those, from whom Invectives and Insinuations proceeded. No retort of a similar nature will be made by the Author. The subjects considered are much too serious for irritation of Mind, or for asperity of language.
3. Observations of a more grave cast were published.
To some of those Observations the following pages will offer no reply, and for this reason ; to argue on solved not to admit in evidence the very testimonies, by the force of which the Question must be decided, is labour ineffectual, and therefore not to be undertaken.
But there were other Observations, which are entitled to a considerable degree of notice. The Writers of them allow we are bound to receive, as Articles of religious Faith, the Doctrines which are either expressly taught in the Holy Scriptures, or which, by clear inference, are deducible from them. The attention due to all who acknowledge the Sacred Writings impart Truths of Divine Revelation; who therefore hold those Writings in profound reverence; and who take them as the Standard by which to determine whether opinions concerning points of Christianity are just or erroneous, demands an attempt to improve the original Copy of this work. Endeavours have been applied for such purpose. The result of those endeavours will be found among the insertions, elucidations, and corrections contained in this Second Edition.
It is material for the Reader to observe circumstances, which in past years seem to have been little considered ; viz. that the Argument sometimes proceeds entirely on the grounds of Natural Reason; and that more than once a Section subsequent is explanatory of a Section antecedent. After a comparison of different passages one with another, and when References with Proofs have been attentively consulted, it is hoped Conceptions and Expressions, which if taken singly may on a cursory view appear questionable, will be found in reality to be neither improper, nor unsupported by good authority.
Nov. 28. 1820.
THOUGHTS ON THE TRINITY.
When we mean to speak of a circumstance as difficult to be understood, or as altogether inexplicable, we call
Mystery.” In these acceptations of the word mystery, the creation and existence of the Universe the production of the several substances in the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms; the combination of instinct with brute forms, and the union of soul and body in Man ; are each of them respectively a mystery. They are however all matters of fact: from which consideration we are led to conclude, it is not consistent with true philosophy to deny the reality of a thing, merely because it is mysterious.
He, who believes that the Universe was created by God, believes a mystery. And he, who believes the Universe, with all its beauty and fitness, was produced by chance, believes a still greater mystery. Between the two cases there is indeed this difference ; in the former case, faith is rational ; in the latter, it is against all conclusions of reason. In either case however, faith and mystery are inseparable.
It has often been said, “ where mystery begins, re