Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

ledge of it. It was the great arcanum for the be circumscribed-circumscribed, because enreceiving of which the world was to be many compassed in such a place; and yet not cirages in preparing. As long as the veil of the cumscribed, because extending itself beyond temple remained, it was a secret not to be that place to many others. looked into – a holy of holies, into which But now, on the other side, the divine even the high priest himself did not enter. nature and the Trinity are not the objects of And thus much for the second condition re sense, and consequently sense passes no judgquired to make or constitute a mystery, ment upon them. But they are the objects of namely, that it be above the strength of bare (and so only triable by) the mind and the reason to find it out before it is revealed. understanding; taking in these things from

3. The third and last is this, That after it the reports not of sense, but revelation. is revealed, it be yet difficult to be understood. Which supreme faculty being thus informed And he who thinks the contrary, let him make by revelation tendering these reports to its trial. For although there is nothing in reason apprehension, and withal finding that none to contradict, yet neither is there any thing of those rules or principles, by which it judges to comprehend it. We may as well shut a of the truth or falsity of what it apprehends, mountain within a molehill, or take up the do at all contradict what revelation thus speaks ocean in a cockle-shell, as reach the stupendous and reports of the divine nature and the sacred intricacies of the divine subsistence by Trinity, it rationally judges that they may the short and feeble notions of a created ap and ought to be assented to. prehension.

For the stress of the point lies here, and Reason indeed proves the revelation of it let all the reason of mankind prove, if it can, by God; but then, having done this, here it that wheresoever the denomination of three stops, and pretends not to understand and is ascribed to any nature, it must of necessity fathom the nature of the thing revealed. multiply the nature itself, and not only its

If any one should plead a parity of the relations. Which being so, those that make case, as to this article of the Trinity, and that the article of the Trinity parallel to that of about transubstantiation, and allege, that since transubstantiation, in point of its contrariety we deny not a Trinity, though we understand to reason, if they will speak and argue to the it not, but account it a mystery, and so be purpose, must undertake to prove, that for lieve it; why may we not take transubstan one infinite being or nature to be in any retiation also into the number of mysteries, and spect, or upon any account whatsoever, three, believe it, though it be intricate, and impos without a triplication of that nature, and so sible to be understood ?

a loss of its unity, is as contrary and repugTo this I answer, 1st, in general, that no nant to some known principle of reason disman discoursing or proceeding rationally upon coursing upon the reports of revelation, as this subject, refuses to believe transubstantia for that thing, which all my senses tell me tion merely upon this account, that it is im to be a little piece of bread, to be yet both possible to be understood. 2dly, I affirm, that for figure and dimension really a man's body, the case between transubstantiation and the is contradictory to all those principles by Trinity is very different—the former being which sense judges of those things that procontradicted by the judgment of that faculty, perly fall under the judgment of sense. of which it is properly the object; the latter Let this, I say, be clearly and conclusively being not at all contradicted, but only not made out, and the business is done. But till comprehended by the faculty, to which the then, they must give us leave to judge, that judgment and cognizance of it does belong. there is as much difference between the To make which clear, we must observe, that article of the Trinity, as stated by us, and both the bread and the body of Christ, about that of transubstantiation, as stated by them, which transubstantiation is said to be effected, as there is between difficulty and contradicbeing endued with quantity, colour, and the tion. like, are the proper objects of sense, and so And now, if there be any whose reason is fail under the cognizance of the sight and so unruly and over-curious, as to be still touch ; which senses being entire, and acting inquisitive and unsatisfied, such must rememas naturally they ought, they both can and ber, that when we have made the utmost do certainly judge of their proper objects, and explications of this article, we pretend not upon such judgment, find it to be a contradic thereby to have altered the nature of the tion for a small body retaining its own proper subject we have been treating of, which, after dimensions, at the same time to have the all, is still a mystery; and they must know, dimensions of a body forty times greater. moreover, that when the sacred mysteries of For one body to be circumscribed, and so religion are discoursed of, the business of a compassed in one place, and at the same time Christian is sobriety and submission, and his to fill a thousand more, I say, it is a contradic duty to be satisfied, even though he were not tion ; for it makes the same thing in the very convinced. The Trinity is a fundamental same respect to be circumscribed, and not to article of the Christian religion; and as he

" Mon

that denies it may lose his soul, so he that too will not deny, though it would set them hard much strives to understand it may lose his to give a clear account of them. wits. Knowledge is nice, intricate, and tedi Secondly, The same charge of absurdity ous; but faith is easy, and, what is more, it lies against these men upon this account, that is safe. And why should I then unhinge my they prefer their particular reason before the brains, ruin iny mind, and pursue distraction united reason of a much greater number than in the disquisition of that which a little study themselves, every one of which were of as would sufficiently convince me to be not in- great industry to search, and of as great telligible ? Or why should I, by chewing a abilities to understand the mysteries of divipill, make it useless, which, swallowed whole, nity, as these men can be presumed to be. might be curing and restorative? A Chris Now, as this is much beside good manners, tian, in these matters, has nothing to do but so indeed it is no less short of good reason, to believe ; and since I cannot scientifically which will prove thus much at least, that comprehend this mystery, I shall worship it when a few learned persons deny a proposiwith the religion of subinission and wonder, tion, and others forty times more numerous, and casting down my reason before it, receive and altogether as learned, do unanimously it with the devotions of silence, and the affirm it, it is very probable that the truth humble distances of adoration.

stands rather with the majority. But here, having drawn the business so For if I should demand of these men, how far, I cannot but take notice of some of those they come to judge the doctrine of the Trinity blasphemous expressions which the Socinians to be false ? they must tell me, that they have use concerning the sacred mystery of the studied the point, considered the text, exaTrinity; their terms (as I have collected some mined it by the principles of reason, and that out of many) are such as these—“ Deus triper- by the use of these means they come at length sonatus.“ Idolum portentosum.” Figmen- to make this conclusion. tum Satanæ.” “Antichristi Cerberns." “ Tri But to this I answer, that others who have ceps Geryon.” “ Idolum trifrons."

studied the point as much, considered the strum triforme.”. “Deus incognitus, adeoque text as exactly, and examined it by as strong procul rejiciendus, et Satanæ conditori suo principles of reason as their opposites could restituendus." Now, that the authors of pretend to, and so standing upon equal ground these ugly appellations shew themselves not with them in point of abilities, have much ouly bold and impious, but also (what by no the advantage of them in point of number. means they would be thought) very unreason But you will say, Must I therefore conable, will, I think, appear froin these two clude, that what is affirmed by such a maconsiderations,

jority of persons so qualified is certainly true? First, That the doctrine so broadly decried | 1 answer, no; but this I assert, that it is by them is at least very difficult, and hardly great reason, though their assertion appear comprehensible; and therefore, though it could never so strange to me, that I should yet susnot be proved true, yet, upon the same score, pend my judgment, and not peremptorily it can as hardly be proved false. But now conclude it false : since there is hardly any these expressions ought to proceed not only means or way of ratiocination used by one upon the supposition of its bare falsity, but to prove it a falsity, but by the very same also upon the evidence and undeniable clear- | way and means others persuade themselves, ness of its falsity, or they must needs be im that they as strongly prove it to be a truth. pudent and intolerable.

And thus I think, that these men's excepHe who says, that it is clear that there can tions against this great article are, to such us be no such thing as the quadrature of the understand reason, sufficiently proved irracircle, makes an impudent assertion ; for, tional. But since these men reject the docthough possibly there can be really no such trine of the Trinity upon pretence both of its thing, yet since there have been such consider- impiety and absurdity, it is but requisite, that able reasons for it, as to engage the greatest they should acquit themselves, in all their wits in the search after it, no man can ration- doctrine, from holding any thing either imally say, that it is clear and manifest that pious or absurd. But yet, that they cannot there is no such thing. But besides, in this do so, these following positions maintained case they deal very irrationally in rejecting by them will, I believe, demonstrate, the doctrine of the Trivity, because it is not 1. To assert, as Volkelius, in his second intelligible; when not only in divinity, but book, “ De Vera Religione," and the fourth also in philosophy, (where yet, not faith, but chapter, not obscurely does, the matter of the strict ratiocination should take place,) they universe to be a passive principle, eternally acknowledge many thiugs which the best coexisting with God, the active, is impious, reason will scarce be able to frame an explicit and not consistent with God's iufinite power; notion and apprehension of. Such as are the for if matter has its being from itself, it will composition and division of continued quanti- follow, that it can preserve itself in being ties, and the like, which these men, I believe, | agaiust all opposition, and consequently, that

God cannot destroy it, which makes nim not puting against Christ's satisfaction, he pleads, omnipotent.

o that in regard it is," as he says, “contrary 2. To allow God's power to be infinite, and to reason, though the Scripture should never yet his substance to be finite, is monstrously so often affirm it, yet it ought not to be absurd; but to assert, as Crellius, in his book admitted or assented to.” Now, if this be his “De Attributis Dei,” in the 27th chapter, rule, I demand of him, whether, for a man to does, that his substance is circumscribed within preserve himself, and that even with the the compass of the highest heaven, is clearly destruction of the life of the person assailing to make it finite.

him, supposing that he cannot possibly do it 3. To allow all God's prophecies and pre- otherwise, be not as undeniable a dictate or dictions recorded in Scripture, of future con principle of natural reason, as any that he tingent passages, depending upon the free can pretend to be contradicted by Christ's choice of man's will, to have been certain and satisfaction. And therefore, if he can lay infallible, and yet his prescience or foreknow- aside Christ's satisfaction, though the Scripledge of the same contingent things not to be ture were never so express for it, in regard of certain, but only conjectural, as Socinus, in the contrariety he pretends in it to reason, the 8th chapter of his Prelections, does affirm, why may not we, upon the same grounds, is out of measure absurd and ridiculous. assert the necessity of self-preservation in the

4. To affirm Christ to be a mere creature, instance of war, though the Scripture expressly and no more, and yet to contend, that he is to forbids it? Since for a man to relinquish his be invoked and worshipped with divine wor own defence, is indubitably contrary to the ship, is exceedingly absurd, and contrary to dictates of nature, and consequently of reason. all the discourses of right reason ; aud withal, But we need not recur to this, for the waras offensive and scandalous to Jews and Turks, ranting men under the gospel to defend their and such like, as the bare affirmation of his lives, though with the destruction of those divine nature can be pretended to be. But that would take them away. Only this I Socinus, though he denies this, yet is so ear allege as an argument ad hominem, which nest for the divine adoration and invocation sufficiently shews how slight and desultorious of Christ, that he affirms, that, of the two, it this man is in his principles and way of is better to be a Trinitarian, than not to arguing, while at one time lie frames to himascribe this to him,

self a principle for his present turn, and at 6. To assert, that the people of God, under another makes assertions, and raises disthe Jewish economy, lay under the obliga- courses, which that principle most directly tion of no precept to pray to God, as Volkelius, overthrows. Now all the forementioned in his 4th book, “ De Vera Religione,” and absurdities (with many more that might be the 9th chapter, positively affirms, is an asser reckoned) are the tenets of those who deny tion higlıly impious, and to all pious minds the article of the Trinity, because, forsooth, abominable.

it is impious and absurd ; that is, who strain 6. To assert, that it is lawful for a man to at one goat, having already swallowed so tell a lie, to secure himself from some great many vast camels. And yet these are the danger or inconvenience, as the same Vol persons, who in all their writings have the kelius, in the 4th book, and 19th chapter, face to own themselves to the world for those does, is such a thing, as, not only consists not heroes, whom God, by his special providence, with piety and sincerity, but tends to drive has raised up to explain Christian religion, even common honesty and society out of the and to reform the doctrine of the church. Í world.

suppose, just in the same sense that the 7. To assert, that it is unlawful for Chris- school of Calvin was to reform her discipline. tians in any case to wage war, as Socinus him And now in the last place ; because this self does in his 2d epistle to Christophorus article is of so great moment, and stands, as Morstinus, a Polonian commander, in which it were, in the very front of our religion, so he allows him to bring his army into the field that it is of very high concernment to all to in terrorem hostium, provided that he neither be sound and thorough paced in the belief of strikes a stroke, nor draws blood, nor cuts off it, I shall shew, a limb: this, I say, is grossly absurd and un 1. What have been the causes that have natural, and contrary to the eternal principle first unsettled, and at the last destroyed the of self-preservation; as engaging men, even belief of it in some. And, for conscience sake, to surrender their lives 2. What may be the best means to settle and fortunes to any thief or murderer that and preserve the belief of it in ourselves and shall think fit to require them. Neither can others. Socinus, in reason, so urge those words of our For the first of these. There are three Saviour, (in Matth. v. 39,) “of not resisting things, which I think have been the great evil,” in this case, if he will be but true to his causes that have took some off from the belief own principle. For in his 3d book, “De of this article. As, Christo Servatore," and the 6th chapter, dis 1. That bold, profane, and absurd custom

of some persons, in attempting to paint and phenomena as undoubted truths, speak as represent it in figure. He who paints God, peremptorily and confidently of this profound does a contradiction ; for he attempts to mystery, as if it were a thing obvious to the inake that visible, which he professes to be first apprehensions of sense. It was a good invisible. The ministers of Transylvania and and a pious saying of an ancient writer, Sarmatia, rank assertors of the Socinian “ Periculosum est de Deo etiam vera dicere.” heresy, in a certain book,* (wherein they No wonder, therefore, if these men, discoursmake confession of their faith as to these ing of the nature and subsistence of God, in articles,) insist upon nothing so much, nor a language neither warrantable nor appreindeed so plausibly, for their rejection of tlie hensible, have by their modalities, suppositaarticle of the Trinity, as those several strange lities, circumincessions, and twenty such other pictures and images of the Trinity, which chimeras, so misrepresented this adorable some persons had set up in several of their article of the Trinity to meu's reason, as to churches, sometimes describing it by orie bring them first to loathe, and at leugth to head carved into three faces, to which, so set

deny it. up in a certain church, they subjoin this 3. A third cause, which has much weakdistich,

ened some men's belief of this article, has

been the imprudent building it upon some “ Mense trifrons isto Janum pater urbe bifrontem Expulit, ut solus regnet in orbe trifrons ;"

texts of Scripture, which indeed will evince

no such thing. Such as those places which I that is to say, that the God having three mentioned out of the Old Testament; and faces, had driven, or, if you will, outfaced such as one of the ancients once brought for a poor Janus out of the world, who had but proof of the eternal generation and deity of two. Avd likewise elsewhere such another, – the Word, from that expression of David,

(Psalm xliv. 1,)“Quisquamne dubitat,” says " Jane biceps, anni tacite labentis origo; Trifrontem pellas, ni wiser esse velis."

he, “ de divinitate Filii, cum legerit illud

Psalmistæ, Cor meum eructavit verbum boSometimes also they represent it by a ring num?” Concerning which and the like set with three diamonds, in three equidistant allegations, I shall only make one very obvious, places of it; and sometimes by the picture of but as true, and perhaps too true, a remark, three men of an equal pitch sitting together that whatsoever is produced and insisted upon at one table, and upon one seat : aud some in behalf of any great and momentous point times the same is expressed by the image of of religion, if it comes not fully close and an old man, a child, and a dove; one signify home to tlie same, it is always found much ing the Father, one the Son, and the third more effectual to expose the truth it is brought the Holy Ghost. All which things, being so for, than to support it, and to confirm the contrary to the very natural notions which heretic it is brought against, than to convince reason has of God, have brought many sober him. parts of the world to pauseate and abhor our And thus having shewn some of the causes whole religion, and to reject Christianity as that undermine men's belief of the article of only a new scheme of the old Gentile idolatry ; the Trinity, I shall now assign sume means and withal have warranted the forementioned also to fix and continue it in such minds as heretics to think they haul cause for all those do already embrace it. And these shall be vile anal wretched appellations with which briefly two, we shew how they bespattered this divine 1. To acquiesce in the bare revelation of mystery : which blaspliemies will, no doubt, the thing itself, and in those expressions be one day laid at the door, not of those only under which it is revealed. As for the thing who denied, but of those also who painted the itself, God has expressly said, that there are Trinity, and by so doing, made others to three above the rank of created beings, the deny it. And iudeed, so far has the common Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And sort of mankind took offence at these things, as for the words in which he has conveyed that if the belief of a God were pot very this to us, they are few, easy, and intelligible, deeply imprinted in man's nature, such men's and to be believed just as they are proposed, cursed irrational boldness, in presuming to that is, simply, and in general, and without paint him, would go very near to bring all entering too far into particulars. those abont them, by degrees, to question the 2. To suppress all nice and over-curious very Deity itself.

inquiries into the peculiar nature, reason, and 2. A second cause of the same evil, is the manner of this mystery. For God having equally bold and insignificant terms which not thought fit to reveal this to us any farthel some of the schoolmeu have expressed this than he has yet actually done, sufficiently de great article by; who, pursuing their own clares it to have been his intent, that it should * See a Latin book in 4to, entitled,

indeed be no farther known, nor indeed Christi et apostolorum, per ministros quosdam in Sarmatia et

searched into by us; and perhaps so far as it Transylvania," &c.

is yet unknown, it may, to a created reasot.

" Præmonitiones

be also unknowable. For when we are once assured that the thing itself is, for us to amuse ourselves and others with bold per

SERMON XLIV. plexing questions, (as they can be no better,) how, and which way it comes to be so, espe

ILL-DISPOSED AFFECTIONS BOTH NATU cially in matters relating to Almighty God,

RALLY AND PENALLY THE CAUSE OF must needs be equally irreverent and imper

DARKNESS AND ERROR IN THE JUDGtinent. Those words of an ancient commen

MENT. tator upon Saint John contain in them an

PART I.. excellent rule, and always to be attended to, “ Firmam fidem,” says he, “mysterio adhi " And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that bentes, nunquam, in tam sublimibus, illud

they should believe a lie." — 2 Thess. ii. 11. quomodo aut cogitemus, aut proferamus.” Which rule, had it been well observed, both Of all the fatal effects of sin, none looks in this and some other articles of our religion, so dreadfully, none strikes so just a horror not only the peace of particular churches and into considering minds, as that every sinful consciences, but also the general peace of action a man does, naturally disposes him to Christendom, might in great measure have another; and that it is hardly possible for been happily preserved by it.

him to do any thing so ill, but that it proves Let this therefore be fixed upon, that there a preparative and introduction to the doing is no obedience comparable to that of the of something worse. Upon which account, understanding; no temperance, which so that notable imprecation of the Psalmist much commends the soul to God, as that upon his own and the Church's enemies, which shews itself in the restraint of our (Psalm Ixix. 27,) namely, “that they say curiosity. Besides which two important con

fall from one wickedness to another,” is siderations, let us consider also, that an over- absolutely the bitterest and most severe of anxious scrutiny into such mysteries is utterly any extant in the whole book of God, as useless as to all purposes of a rational in- being indeed the very abridgment of that quiry. It wearies the mind, but not informs grand repository of curses, the 28th chapter the judgment. It makes us conceited and of Deuteronomy; and that with the addition fantastical in our notions, instead of being of something besides, and of so much a more sober and wise to salvation. It may provoke killing malignity than all of them put toGod also, by our pressing too much into the gether, by how much the evil of sin is consecrets of heaven, and the concealed glories of fessedly greater, than the evil of any suffering his nature, to desert and give us over to strange for it whatsoever. The like instances to which delusions. For they are only things revealed, we have iu the text now before us, of a sort of (as Moses told the Israelites, in Deut. xxix. men, first casting off the love of the truth, and 29,)“ which belong to the sons of men” to from thence passing into a state of delusion; understand and look into, as the sole and and lastly, settling in a steady, fixed belief proper privilege allowed them by God, to of a lie. By such wretched gradations is it, exercise their noblest thoughts upon : but as that sin commonly arrives at its full oxun, or for such high mysteries as the Trivity, as maturity. So that in truth it is the only the subsistence of one nature in three Persons, perpetual motion which has yet been found and of three Persons in one and the same out, and needs nothing but a beginning to individual nature, these are to be reckoned keep it incessantly going on. Accordingly, in the number of such sacred and secret things as every immoral act, in the immediate and as belong to God alone perfectly to know, direct tendency of it, is certainly a step downbut to such poor mortals as we are, humbly wards, and a very large one too, so, in all to fall down before, and adore.

motions of descent, it is seldom or never found, To which God, incomprehensible in his that a thing so moving makes any stop in its nature, and wonderful in his works, be ren fall, till it is fallen so far, that it is past falling dered and ascribed, as is most due, all praise, any farther. And much the same is the case might, majesty, and dominion, both now and with a man as to his spirituals; after he has for evermore. Amen.

been long engaged in a course of sinning, his progress in it grows infinite, and his return desperate.

Now in the words I have here pitched upon, as they stand in coherence with the precedent and subsequent verse, there are these two things to be considered,

First, A severe judgment denounced against a certain sort of men ; namely, “that God would send them such strong delusion, that they should believe a lie.” . And,

« AnteriorContinuar »