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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 good. And thy own word, by the same expressions, encourages this holy prac tice. 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 a 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 opinions about the holy Trinity, among the contending parties of Christians, had been true, thou knowest with how much 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 single text, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are three real, distinct persons in thy divine nature, 1 had never suffered myself to be bewildered in 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 word, so far as it was possible for me to understand it, 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 ingrafted it into my soul.

Thou hast taught me, holy Father, by the 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 wayfaring man

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or the stranger, though a fool, shall not err therein. And thou hast called the poor and the ignorant, the mean and 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 and distinct 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?

O thou searcher of hearts, who knowest all things, I appeal to thee concerning the sincerity of my enquiries into these discoveries of thy word. Thou knowest me, thou hast seen me, and hast tried my heart towards thee: if there be any lurking hypocrisy in my heart, and secret bias towards any thing but truth, uncover it, O Father of lights, and banish it from my soul for ever. If thine eye discover the least spark of criminal prejudice in any corner of my soul, extinguish it utterly, that I may not be led astray from the truth, in matters of such importance, by the least glance of error or mistake.

Thou art witness, O my God, with what diligence, with what constancy and care, I have read and searched thy holy word; how early and late, by night and by day, I have been making these enquiries. How fervently have I been seeking thee on my bended knees, and directing my humble addresses to thee to enlighten my darkness, and to shew me the meaning of thy word, that I may learn what I must believe, and what I must practise with regard to this doctrine, in order to please thee and obtain eternal life!

Great God, who seest all things, thou hast beheld what busy temptations have been often fluttering about my heart to call it off from these laborious and difficult enquiries, and to give up thy word and thy gospel as an unintelligible book, and betake myself to the light of nature and reason: but thou hast been pleased, by thy divine power, to scatter these temptations, and fix my heart and my hope again upon that Saviour and that eternal life which thou hast revealed in thy word, and proposed therein to our knowledge and our acceptance. Blessed be the name of my God, who has not suffered me to abandon the gospel of his Son, Jesus! and blessed be that holy Spirit that has kept me attentive to the truth delivered in thy gospel, and inclined me to wait longer in my search of these divine truths, under the hope of thy gracious illumination.

I humbly call thee to witness, O my God, what a holy jealousy I ever wear about my heart, lest I should do the slightest dishonour to thy supreme Majesty, in any of my enquiries or determinations. Thou seest what a religious fear, and what a tender solicitude I maintain on my soul, lest I should think or speak any thing to diminish the grandeurs and honours of thy Son Jesus, my dear Mediator, to whom I owe my everlasting hopes. Thou knowest how much afraid I am of speaking one word which may be construed into a neglect of thy blessed Spirit, from whom I hope I am daily receiving happy influences of light and strength. Guard all the motions of my mind, O Almighty God, against every thing that borders upon these dangers. Forbid my thoughts to indulge, and forbid my pen to write, one word that should sink those grand ideas which belong to thyself, or thy Son, or thy holy Spirit. Forbid it, O my God, that ever I should be so unhappy as to unglorify my Father, my Saviour, or my Sanctifier, in any of my sentiments or expressions, concerning them.

Blessed and faithful God, hast thou not promised,

that the meek thou wilt guide in judgment, the meek thou wilt teach thy way? Hast thou 'not told us, by Isaiah, thy prophet, that thou wilt bring the blind by a way which they knew not, and wilt lead them in paths which they have not known? Hast thou not informed us, by the prophet Hosea, that if we follow on to know the Lord, then we shall know him? Hath not thy Son, our Saviour, assured us, that our Heavenly Father will give his Holy Spirit to them who ask him? And is he not appointed to guide us into all truth? Have I not sought the gracious guidance of thy good Spirit continually? Am I not truly sensible of my own darkness and weakness, my dangerous prejudices on every side, and my utter insufficiency for my own conduct? Wilt thou leave such a poor creature, bewildered among a thousand perplexities which are raised by the various opinions and contrivances of men to explain thy divine truth?

Help me, Heavenly Father, for I am quite tired and weary of these human explainings, so various and uncertain. When wilt thou explain it to me thyself, O my God, by the secret and certain dictates of thy Spirit, according to the intimations of thy word? nor let any pride of reason, nor any affecta. tion of novelty, nor any criminal bias whatsoever, turn my heart aside from hearkening to these divine dictates of thy word and thy Spirit. Suffer not any of my native corruptions, nor the vanity of my imagination, to cast a mist over my eyes, while I am searching after the knowledge of thy mind and will, for my eternal salvation!

I intreat, O most merciful Father, that thou wilt not suffer the remnant of my short life to be wasted in such endless wanderings in quest of thee and thy Son, Jesus, as great part of my past days have been; but let my sincere endeavours to know thee, in all the ways whereby thou hast discovered thyself in thy word, be crowned with such success, that my soul, being established in every needful truth by

486 ESSAYS, &c. ON VARIOUS SUBJECTS.

thy holy Spirit, I may spend my remaining life according to the rules of thy gospel; and may, with all the holy and happy creation, ascribe glory and honour, wisdom and power, to thee, who sittest upon the throne, and to the Lamb, for ever and ever.

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