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Son, he is not essentially God, but there are, in the manner of his existence, a mutability and a dependence inconsistent with our ideas of the Divine Nature. The opinion of Dr. Clarke, therefore, is in reality that of the Semi-Arians, who were called Homoiousians, because they exalted Christ above the rank of creatures, and held that, not by necessity of nature, but by special privilege, he was like to God. On the other hand, according to the third system, eternity in its proper sense, and necessary existence, are ascribed to the Son. All the attributes of the godhead are conceived to belong to him by nature, and it is not supposed possible that he could be other than that which he is. Dr. Clarke and his opponents agree that the Son is not self-existent; for both account the Father the fountain of deity. But Dr. Clarke thinks, that, since the Son is not self-existent, he does not exist necessarily, while his opponents affirm, that, with the consent of the Father, and according to his will, yet by necessity of nature, the Son derived his being from the Father. Dr. Clarke and his opponents agree that the Son is subordinate to the Father; but the subordination of Dr. Clarke implies an essential inferiority of nature, while his opponents do not admit of any difference in point of duration or dignity, and understand the word subordination as respecting merely order. Dr. Clarke and his opponents agree that the Father and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are three distinct persons, to every one of whom the name God is applied: but Dr. Clarke considers that name as belonging in its highest sense to the Father, and only in an inferior sense to the other two, and thus maintains the unity of the godhead upon the same principle with the Arian system, while his opponents, making no distinction between the word God when applied in Scripture to the Father, and the same word when applied in Scripture to the Son, and inferring, from the language of Scripture, that it may also be applied to the Spirit, have recourse to the principles which were stated under the third system, for maintaining the unity of three persons, each of whom is truly God.

In stating this unity, the opponents of Dr. Clarke adhered to the word which had been used by the council of Nice, saying that the three persons were ömoovbioi, con-substantial, which is rendered, both in the English Articles

and in our Confession of Faith, “ of one substance.” It did not escape the acuteness of Dr. Clarke, that the phrase is ambiguous. “ One substance” may mean one numerical substance, i.e. a substance which is one in number, individual; or one generical substance, i. e. the same in kind, that which belongs to all of one kind, as Aristotle said all the stars are ouoouota. On account of this ambiguity, Dr. Clarke required his opponents to declare in what sense they understood the word ; and by a succession of writers, who followed his steps, and wished to expose the third system as untenable, the following dilemma is often stated.“ If you mean, by con-substantial, that the three persons are of the same individual substance, you destroy their personality; for three persons, of whom each has not his own distinct substance, but who are in one substance, are only different modifications or manners of being, so that your Trinity becomes nominal and ideal, and in your zeal for the unity of the godhead, you recur to Sabellianism. If, on the other hand, you mean by con-substantial, that the three persons are of the same generical substance, then you destroy their unity ; for three persons, having the same substance in kind, have each of them his own substance, and are, in reality, three beings."

This dilemma, like many others which appear to be inextricable, is merely captious. For the ancients, who seem to have understood ouoouolos, as marking a generical identity of substance, declare that they consider the three persons as not separated from one another like three individuals of the same species, but as united in a manner more perfect than we are able to conceive; and the moderns, many of whom seem to understand con-substantial as marking a numerical identity of substance, declare that they consider each of the three persons as having a distinct subsistence, and the divine substance as in this respect essentially distinguished from every thing material, that without diminution or division it extends to three persons. The difficulty, therefore, arising from the ambiguity of the word con-substantial, with which those who hold the Catholic system have been so often pressed, is only a proof that it is a vain attempt to apply the terms of human science to the manner of the divine existence, and that the multiplication of words upon this subject does not in any degree increase the stock of our ideas.

We are thus brought back, after reviewing a multiplicity of opinions, to the few simple positions which constitute the whole amount of the knowledge that Scripture has given us concerning the Trinity, and which may be thus briefly stated. The Scriptures, while they declare the fundamental truth of natural religion, that God is one, reveal two persons, each of whom, with the Father, we are led to consider as God, and ascribe to all the three distinct personal properties. It is impossible that the three can be one in the same sense in which they are three : and therefore it follows, by necessary inference, that the unity of God is not an unity of persons; but it does not follow, that it may not be an unity of a more intimate kind than any which we behold. An unity of consent and will neither corresponds to the conclusions of reason, nor is by any means adequate to a great part of the language of Scripture, for both concur in leading us to suppose an unity of nature. Whether the substance common to the three persons be specifically or numerically the same, is a question, the discussion of which cannot advance our knowledge, because neither of the terms is applicable to the subject; and after all our researches and reading, we shall find ourselves just where we began, incapable of perceiving the manner in which the three persons partake of the same divine nature. But we are very shallow philosophers indeed, if we consider this as any reason for believing that they do not partake of it; for we are by much too ignorant of the manner of the divine existence to be warranted to say that the distinction of persons is an infringement of the Divine unity. “ It is strange boldness in men,” says Bishop Stillingfieet, (iii. 352,) to talk of contradictions in things above their reach. Hath not God revealed to us that he created all things ; and is it not reasonable for us to believe this, unless we are able to comprehend the manner of doing it? Hath not God plainly revealed that there shall be a resurrection of the dead? And must we think it unreasonable to believe it, till we are able to comprehend all the changes of the particles of matter from the creation to the general resurrection? If nothing is to be believed but what may be comprehended, the very being of

God must be rejected, and all his unsearchable perfections. If we believe the attributes of God to be infinite, how can we comprehend them? We are strangely puzzled in plain ordinary, finite things ; but it is madness to pretend to comprehend what is infinite ; and yet, if the perfections of God be not infinite, they cannot belong to him. Let those, who presume to say that there is a contradiction in the Trinity, try their imaginations about God's eternity, not merely how he should be from himself, but how God should co-exist with all the differences of times, and yet there be no succession in his own being; and they will perhaps concur with me in thinking that there is no greater difficulty in the conception of the Trinity than there is of eternity. For three to be one is a contradiction in numbers; but whether an infinite nature can communicate itself to three different substances, without such a division as is among created beings, must not be determined by bare numbers, but by the absolute perfections of the Divine nature: which must be owned to be above our comprehension.”

Since then the Scriptures teach that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are one, and since the unity of three persons who partake of the same divine nature must of nečessity be an unity of the most perfect kind, we may rest assured that the more we can abstract from every idea of inequality, division, and separation, provided we preserve the distinction of persons, our conceptions approach the nearer to the truth. But since the manner of the Divine existence is confessedly above our comprehension, and since no words or images that we can employ are found to. correspond to the unity of these three persons, there are two inferences or advices that present themselves upon this subject, which I shall just mention in taking leave of it.

The first inference is, that men of speculation ought to exercise mutual forbearance if they differ from one another in their attempts to explain that which all acknowledge to be inexplicable. It is vain to think of confining the human mind to those researches in which she may easily attain some certain conclusion. She loves to soar and to roam, and she gathers much wisdom from her own most adventurous flights ; but this lesson surely should not be one of the last, that those who presume to expatiate in the sublime regions, where the light of human science becomes

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dim and uncertain, need not be surprised to meet with many wanderers. Every sober inquirer, who finds that, after all his investigations, the union of the three persons in the Godhead remains to him involved in impenetrable darkness, will judge with candour of the attempts made by other men to obtain a solution of the difficulties which presented themselves to their minds; and he will not readily suppose that they doubt of the fact, although they may differ from him in the manner of explaining the fact.

The second inference or advice is, that as you cannot expect to give the body of the people clear ideas of the manner in which the three persons are united, it may be better in discoursing to them, to avoid any particular discussion of this subject; and to follow here, as in every other instance, the pattern of teaching set in the New Testament. Our Lord and his Apostles do not propose any metaphysical explication of the unity of the Divine nature. But they assume it, and declare it as a fundamental truth; and they never insinuate that it is in the smallest degree infringed by the revelation which they give of the three persons. After this example, I advise you never to perplex the minds of the people with different theories of the Trinity, and never to suggest that the unity of the Divine nature is a questionable point; but, without professing to explain how the three persons are united, to place before your hearers, as you have occasion, the Scripture account of the Son and the Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father, and thus to preserve upon their minds what the Scriptures have revealed, and what upon that account it is certainly of importance for them to learn, the dignity of the second and third persons, their relation to us, and their power to execute the gracious offices necessary for our salvation. These essential points of Christian instruction, which it is the duty of the ministers of the Gospel to impress upon the people, are revealed in the Scriptures in such a manner as to be in no danger of leading into the Sabellian, the Arian, or the Tritheistic scheme of the Trinity; and, therefore, if we adhere, as we ought always to do, to the pure revelation of Scripture in our account of the three persons, we have no occasion to expose to the people the defects of these schemes; and we may

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