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ries without warrant from holy scripture ; although I confess, this of the Trinity may have sometimes been explained by human invention, which might, perhaps, betrer have been spared. As to the second, It will not be possible to charge the Protestant priesthood with proposing any temporal advantage to them felves, by broaching, or multiplying, or preaching of myfteries. Does this mystery of the Trinity, for instance, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, bring the least profit or power to the preachers ? No; it is as great a mystery to themselves, as it is to the meanest of their hearers; and may be rather a cause of humiliation, by putting their understanding, in that point, upon a level with the most ignorant of their flock. It is true, indeed, the Roman church hath very much enriched herself, by trading in mysteries, for which they have not the least authority from scripture, and which were fitted only to advance their own temporal wealth and grandeur ; such as, tranfubftantiation, worshipping of images, indulgences for fins, purgatory, and masses for the dead, with many more. But, it is the perpetual talent of those who have ill-will to our church, or a contempt for all religion, taken up by the wickedness of their lives, to charge us with the errors and corruptions of Popery, which all Protestants have thrown off near two hundred years; whereas, those mysteries held by us, have no prospect of power, pomp, or wealth ; but have been ever maintained by the universal body
of true believers, from the days of the apostles, and will be fo to the resurrection; neither will the gates of hell prevail against them.
It may be thought, perhaps, a strange thing, that God should require us to believe mysteries, while the reason or manner of what we are to believe, is above our comprehension, and wholly concealed from us. Neither doth it appear, at first fight, that the believing, or not believing them, doth concern either the glory of God, or contribute to the goodness or wickedness of our lives. But this is a great and dangerous mistake. We see what a mighty weight is laid upon faith, both in the Old and New Testament. In the former, we read, how the faith of Abraham is praised, who could believe, that God would raise from him a great nation, at the very fame time that he was commanded to sacrifice his only fon, and despaired of any other issue : and this was to him a great mystery. Our Saviour is perpetually preaching faith to his disciples, or reproaching them with the want of it; and St. Paul produceth numerous examples of the wonders done by faith. And all this is highly reasonable : for, faith is an entire dependence upon the truth, the power, the justice, and the mercy of God, which de- . pendence will certainly incline us to obey him in all things. So that the great excellency of faith consists in the consequence it hath upon our actions : as, if we depend upon the truth and wifdom of a man, we shall certainly be more dispos
ed to follow his advice. Therefore, let no man think, that he can lead as good a moral life without faith, as with it; for this reason, because he who has no faith, cannot, by the strength of his own reason or endeavours, so easily refift temptations, as the other, who depends upon God's assistance in the overcoming his frailties, and is sure to be rewarded for ever in heaven, for his victory over them. Faith, says the apostle, is the evidence of things not seen. He means, that faith is a virtue, by which any thing commanded us by God to believe, appears evident and certain to us, although we do not see, nor can conceive it ; because, by faith, we entirely depend upon the truth and power of God.
It is an old and true distinction, that things may
be above our reason, without being contrary to it. Of this kind, are the power, the nature, and the universal presence of God, with innumerable other points. How little do those who quarrel with mysteries, know of the commoneft actions of nature ? The growth of an animal, of a plant, or of the smallest seed, is a myftery to the wisest among men. If an ignorant person were told, that a loadstone would draw iron at a distance, he might say, it was a thing contrary to his reason, and could not believe, before he saw it with his eyes.
The manner whereby the foul and body are united, and how they are distinguished, is wholly unaccountable to us. We see but one part,
and yet we know we consist of two: and this is a mystery we cannot comprehend, any more than that of the Trinity.
From what hath been said, it is manifest, that God did never command us to believe, nor his minifters to preach, any doctrine which is contrary to the reason he hath pleased to endue us with ; but, for his own wise ends, has thought fit to conceal from us the nature of the thing he commands; thereby to try our faith and obedience, and increase our dependence upon him.
It is highly probable, that, if God should please to reveal unto us this great mystery of the Trinity, or some other mysteries in our holy religion, we should not be able to understand them, unlefs he would, at the same time, think fit to beftow on us some new powers or faculties of the mind, which we want at present, and are reserved till the day of resurrection to life eternal. For now, as the apostle says, we see through a* glass, darkly, but then face to face.
Thus, we see, the matter is brought to this isfue; we must either believe what God directly commands us in holy fcripture, or we must wholly reject the scripture, and the Christian religion, which we pretend to profess. But this, I hope, is too desperate a step for any of us to make.
I have already observed, that those who preach up the belief of the Trinity, or of any other mystery, cannot propose any temporal advantage to themselves by so doing. But this is not the case
of those who oppose these doctrines. Do they lead better moral lives than a good Christian ? Are they more just in their dealings ? more chaste, or temperate, or charitable ? Nothing at all of this; but, on the contrary, their intent is to overthrow all religion, that they may gratify their vices, without any reproach from the world, or their own conscience; and are zealous to bring over as many others as they can to their own opinions ; 'because, it is some kind of imaginary comfort, to have a multitude on their side.
There is no miracle mentioned in holy writ, which, if it were strictly examined, is not as much contrary to common reason, and as much a mystery, as this doctrine of the Trinity; and therefore, we may, with equal justice, deny the truth of them all. For instance, it is against the laws of nature, that a human body should be able to walk upon the water, as St. Peter is re* corded to have done; or that a dead carcase fhould be raised from the grave after three days, when it began to corrupt ; which those who understand anatomy, will pronounce to be imposfible, by the common rules of nature and reason. Yet, these miracles, and many others, are positively aflirmed in the gospel; and these we must believe, or give up our holy religion to Atheists and Infidels.
I shall now make a few inferences and observations upon what hath been said.
First, It would be well, if people would not lay fo much weight on their own reason, in mat