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be so singularly nice and scrupulous, as not to comply with what wiser and better men could accommodate themselves to; but disturb others, and distress myself, by enthusiastic fancies, purely my own, bred in gloomy solitude, which by time, and the free communication and unfolding of them to others, might be dispersed and removed, and give way to a more cheerful and enlarged way of thinking? It was worth the while at least to try such a method, and not rashly to take a step of which I might long repent.
3. It was suggested, that I was not author or contriver of the things imposed and complained of. All I did was ministerial only, in submission to civil authority, which is, within certain limitations, the authority of God; and which had
thanks, O my soul, if when thou art charged with corrupting God's worship, falsifying thy vows, &c. thou pretendest a necessity for it, in order to a continuance in the ministry,'" &c.
Calamy's Account (Vol. II. p. 175), of Ministers who suffered themselves to be ejected and silenced, to the number of two thousand, rather than submit to the new impositions, and subscribe and conform to the liturgy and articles, against their consciences: a long list, that does honour to human nature, and to our own country in particular, which has hitherto taken the lead in the restoration of God's true religion : for Wickliffe held up the light to Luther that came after him; and may England still hold it up to the rest of the nations!
imposed these things only for peace and public good.---That I ought not only to leave my benefice, but to go out of the world, if I expected a perfect state of things, in which there was no flaw or hardship.—That if there was a general tendency in what was established to serve the interests of virtue and true religion, I ought to rest satisfied, and wait for a change in other incidental matters that were grievous to me, but not generally felt by others. That in the mean time, I had it in my power to forward the desired work, by preparing men's minds for it, whenever there should be a disposition in the state to rectify what was amiss. Therefore, if I could in any way of interpretation, reconcile the prescribed forms with the Scripture in my own mind, and make myself easy, I was not only justified, but to be commended.
These considerations all together were of weight to divert me from the thought of quitting mystation in the church, and brought me in time to remain tolerably quiet and easy in it. Not that I now justify myself therein. Yea, rather J condemn myself. But, as I have humble hope of the divine forgiveness, let not men be too rigid in their censures : let those only blame and condemn, who know what it is to doubt; to be in perplexity about things of highest importance ; to be in fear of causelessly abandoning a station
assigned by Providence, and being found idle and unprofitable, when the Great Master came to call for the account of the talent received.
The methods I took to satisfy my own mind were these. My great difficulty was the point of worship. In comparison with this,* subscription to the articles, however momentous in itself, gave me then but little concern. the devotions of the church are framed in strict agreement with the articles, and correspond with
* The petitioning clergy begun, where all true reformation must begin, in seeking the abolition of subscription. For until this foundation be laid in deeds as well as words, that nothing in the articles or liturgy is to be received and believed, any further than it is agreeable to holy scripture, you are tied down to acknowledge another rule as superior to God's word, and giving law to it, and can make no reformation but in conformity with the articles and liturgy to which you are bound.
However earnestly therefore some of the petitioners might wish for . amendments in many things, they did not think it became them to propose any, lest it should be thought arrogating to themselves an authority of deciding for others in matters of faith, and setting up their sense of holy scripture to be followed by the nation. But if holy scripture was once clearly and authentically acknowledged as the only rule of faith and doctrine, and no declaration or subscription required to any thing else, but so far as found agrecable with that rule, they knew that Athanasianism, Arianism, Socinianism, Calvinism, Pelagianism, all sects and divisions would drop of themselves, and Christians come forth into truth, and perfect liberty and peace,
them more especially in what relates to religious worship, I looked upon my continuing to officiate in them as a constant virtual repetition of my subscription; and therefore I needed not, nor did decline, the actual repetition of it, when occasion served: though I was not forward in seeking such occasions.
I brought myself to consider the Trinitarian forms in the Liturgy, and the invocations at the entrance of the Litany, as a threefold representation of the One God, the Father, governing all things by himself, and by his Son and Spirit; and as a threefold way of addressing him, as a Creator and original benevolent cause of all things; as Redeemer of mankind by his Son, and their sanctifier by his Holy Spirit.
This was the famous and avowed explication of the Trinity, published by Dr. Wallis, Savilian professor of Mathematics in Oxford, which was well received by the University, when Dr. Sherlock's explication, that there were three infinite distinct minds and substances in the Trinity, underwent a public censure.
I shall give it in the professor's own words, as I find them in a pamphlet entitled, “ Considerations on the Explications of the Doctrine of the Trinity,” p. 7, 1693.
The Unitarians having accused the doctors of the church of maintaining, that there was more than one Divine Person or more than One
Person who is true and most high God, Dr. Wallis replies;
“ This reasoning is grounded on this silly mistake, that a Divine Person is as much as to say, a Divinity, or a God; when indeed a Divine Person is only a mode, or respect, or relation of God to his creatures. He beareth to his creatures these three relations, modes, or respects, that he is their Creator, their Redeemer, their Sanctifier: this is what we mean, and all that we mean, when we say God is three persons. He hath those three relations to his creatures, and is thereby no more three Gods, than he was three Gods to the Jews, because he calleth himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”
I took all opportunities, and have done for many years, both in public, and privately, to bear my testimony to this great truth of holy scripture, that there is but one God the Father, with great plainness, and without any reserve. But I purposely refrained from the use of those technical unscriptural names Trinity, Person, Substance, and the like, and every thing that bore the air of controversy, in the pulpit; for I held it an injury to my hearers to waste their hours of public religious improvement in any thing that had not an immediate connexion with a virtuous and holy life, to which it was my most earnest desire and constant endeavour to lead them. And I hoped I was laying a good foun