A full answer to the Essay on spirit : wherein all the author's objections both scriptural and philosophical, to the doctrine of the Trinity; his opinions relating to the uniformity of the church; his online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryUnknownA full answer to the Essay on spirit : wherein all the author's objections both scriptural and philosophical, to the doctrine of the Trinity; his opinions relating to the uniformity of the church; his → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook





m-'' ' ''^•-■ii»M,

3 /

i:;^ OL 5::s i:^ «^^ i:a. ^:2^



x» t> ::v -■%- T I c» >f OF-




dZ Jc//^./^^^

|j Case,

% Shelf f Section

|) Book, N^v- -




9 0'^==s,a eQ

[ xvili J
« How three, as diftind in point of agency^ as
^' Feter^ James^ and Johtiy lliould by one com-
*' mon principle of exiftence, be one eternal
" God J this exceeds the meafure of our finite
" underflandings to comprehend: yet it is not
*' tl^erefore a contradidion ; yet it is not there-
" fore incredible." Which obfervation, though
common, is yet very pious, well exprefied, and
worthy of a Chriftian Divine. But, fays our au-
thor, " If the Do6lor had but inferted any one
" noun-fubflantive after theadjedive three^ which
" he, as all the Athanaftans carefully do, has
*' difingenuoujly omitted, and without which the
" whole fentence is nonfenfe*^ he could not have
** avoided feeing the contradidion, as well as
" pointing it out to others s." The noun-fubftan-
tive inferted by the church upon this occafion, is
the word Perfons : and the moft free and difpaf-
fionate enquirer can perceive no contradiction in
faying, that the blefled Trinity are three Perfons^
and one God\ three and one, in different refpeSs ;
three, in refpecl of their perfonality^ and one in
refped of their divine nature^ or, as Dr. Stehhing
has worded it, xhidv common principle of exiftence.
To fay, either that they are three Perfons and
one Perfon, or, three Gods and one God, would


'* He elfewhere fays of this exprelTion, that it is — nonfenfc
artfully cloathing itfelf, that it may look fomething like
fenfe. 'P. 3405-

be to fuppofe them three and one, in one and
the fame refpe6t, and would indeed amount to a
contradidion in terms; which is the very thing
this author has made of it : '^ for, adds he,
*' every one, who is not out of his ftnfes^ mull fee,
*' that affirming three eternal Gods to be one eternal
" Gcd^ is a contradiction '." Very true : aj^id I
hope no man that is inhisfenfcs, when writing
upon fuch a fubjedl as this, would dare to make a
contradidion where he did not find one. But I
muft prefs this point a little farther: for it is ob-
fervable, that the very fame omiffion of the noun-
fubftantive, and where the very fame fenfe is ex-
prefTed too, occurs more than once in the infpired
writings^ lyu y.oa o TrxJyip EN £(T{xii>', and again, oJloi
a TPEIi:, ENfjci, nefe three are one — fo that
this bold accufation of difingenuity^ nonjenfe^ and
fomething worfe, alledged at firft againft Dr.
Stehhing^ will, when carried forwards, be at laft
fixed upon Him — whofe name I dare not men-
tion upon fuch an occafion.

In order to give a proper account of the anti^
dote^ and enable the reader, as well as I can, to
comprehend the force and propriety of it, it
will be requifite to premife a few of the author's
principles, as they are to be colledted from that
part of his book, which precedes what is called
in the Title-page — An antidote againft all that
Jhallever appear againft the Eflay on Spirit.

' ^ 34' 35'


The author of the Defence then, declares againfl
all the decrees of councils and do6lrines ef men ' ;
advifes rftetaphyftcal divines to forbear their own
comments ^ ; and will fufFer nothing but clear and
exfrefs revelation " to determine kirn with regard
to any article of moment. And yet, in exprefs
contradiction to all this, the ingredients of his
antidote^ which is to preclude all future contro-
verfies, to determine the queftion for ever on the
■Arian fide, and (as its very name implies) to e^c-
pel the poifon of orthodoxy, are nothing more
than a quotation from Juflin Martyr^ ^ and an-
other from the Gentleman's Religion'' ; the former
a very obfure metaphyfecal comment^ the latter a
groundlefs and unfupported aflertion. If we had
not ocular demonftration for this, it would feem
altogether incredible, that the fame author who
has rejeded all human comments^ and fet at naught
all the councils in Chrijlendom^^ fhould think him-
felf fecure under the fhelter of that very autho-
rity, nay, under a fmall and infignificant portion
of it, the whole of which he has made it his bufi-
nefs to vilify and contemn. Had he been more
confiflent with himfelf, and propofed his quota-
tion from Juftin Martyr with the fobriety that
might have been ^xpecled, I fliould then have
attempted to Ihew, that it contains the indivifibk


^P. 3. ^Ibid. "P. 4, 50, ']^.

"P. 541078. »P.79to82. ?"?. 29.

[ xxi ]

mlon of the Son with the fuhftance of the Father y
though blended, as I freely confefs, with fome
perplexed and metaphyfical reafonings, more re-
concilable to the principles of Piato^ than to
thofe of the Holy Scripture. However, as he has
introduced it in fuch a manner as to render it re-
pugnant to his own principles, and therefore in-
capable of doing bis caufe the leafl fervice (be
the doftrine of it this or that) I fhall not try to
give the reader any edification or amufement by
a critical difcuflion of a very long pafTage, un-
likely to afford either.

But I muft not throw his book afide, without
giving fome fhort account of his language; I
mean, of his candour, humility, and charity ;
which virtues areas much difreg-arded in the De-
fence (if that be poflible) as they are recommended
in the EJ/ay.

The gentlemen who have advifed the Reve-
rend author of the Effay to refign his preferment-,
that is, in efted, to appeafe his confcience, re-
trad his fubfcription, and ceafe to difturb the
peace of the church with his own private fcru-
ples ; he upbraids with a fpirit of per fe cut ion and
ignorance"^ I which is not more unkind than it is
untrue and injudicious. For, on the contrary,
thofe reftlefs and difcontented men, who have
railed againft the dodrines and authority of the

'P. 52. z

[ xxii ]

church as an intolerable burden, and have undef«
taken to fupplant its truth by a furreptitious in-
troduflion of theirownerrors, (whatever fpecious
appearances of candour and moderation they
might at firft affume mpropofmg them) have in
fad, when affairs have taken an unhappy turn,
themfelves proved the mod lawlefs perfecutors
and rnercilefs opprefTors of all civil and religious
liberty : And I leave it to be confidered, whether
the fpirit which has difcovered itfelf in this i)e^
fence,, were it permitted to have its full play,
would not treat all its opponents with as little
mercy as they did. Befides, how inconfiftent is
it, firft to tell us that our do(5i:rines and fubfcrip-
tions are fuch as muft drive all men of fenfe and
honefiy (fuch as the author isj out of the church^ -^
and then, when we ground a flight admonition
upon his own principle, to turn fhortupon us with
the ftale pretences of ppery ! perfecution ! St,
Dominic ! Bifliop Bonner ! fire ! faggot^ &c. ' !

Dean Swift he calls a Goliah of Gath^ fent out
(by the republication of his fermon in Ireland)
to defy the armies of the living God ; and thinks he
h^'ifung a few round pebbles of arguments fo dire£fly
inhisfaccy as to 'make him lie profir ate upon the
ground^. Which unnatural application of the
Scripture-hiftory gives us a tafte of his vanity v
and fhews, that in his opinion the Arians are the

^P. 52. ^Ihid. "P. 21. and 53.

[ xxiii ]

cledb people of God, the true IfraeliUs, whilH
all the oppofers of their do6lrine (which I hope
includes every good chriflian in the nation) are
uncircumcifed PMliflines, infidels, idolaters, and
in profelTed rebellion againft the living God.

The orthodox Clergy in general, he reviles as
a fet of cloudy, bigotted, indolent men, who, if
they can hut freferve their fubfcriptions and good
livings^ care not what becomes of Chrijiianity ^ j be-
caufe they have not wrote an anfwer (or had not
at leafl when his book was publifhed) to the late
Lord Bolingbroke*^ objedtions ; and unlefs he has
written one himfelf it is unfair to make this a pre-
tence for infulting them.

The learned gentlenlen that have appeared in
print againft the EJfay^ he calls, collectors of ca-
'vils\ orthodox gentry ^^ men that neither under-
ftand th$ difpute^ nor any thing elfe *", their own
trumpet ers\ minor fcrihbkrs^^ animals \ buzzing
infeCfs"^^ hard heads'"^ &c. &c. charges the grave
and learned Dr. Stebbing with wilful nonfenfe^ the
whole church with blafphemy'' : then wipes his
mouth, and humbly defires that if any body
fhould undertake to anfwer the Effay on Spirit^
they will do it with — Chriflian candour and mo-
deration P !



^P. 2. eP. 19. and 53.


^P. 17. ''P. ^i. T.52.


"P. 52. *P, 10,44. '^'52-

[ xxJv ]

From this view of things, we cannot but coii-
ceive a proper opinion both of the talents and the
fpirit of this author j whom, in truth, it has
given me much lefs pleafure to expofe, than con-
cern that there was occafion for it. And now, if
this Defence was written by the author of the EJfay^
what an amazing change of chara6ler is here!
In the EJjay it is — Homo fum^ htimani nihil a me
alienmn puto ^ — That principle which dire5fs us to
life all men well^ can never vindicate usinufingany
man ill'' — And again — were it not that experience
convinces us of the matter of fa5f^ it would be vlakd
TO BELIEVE that mcns paffions could carry them to
that degree of animofity againfl each other y on account
of opinions barely speculative (fuch as the
Catholic doElrine of the 'Trinity is fuppofed to be,
and upon which the difpute has turned in this
JDefence) which we find praEiifed in all countries^
and almofl in all ages', There the ruling principle
is an univerfal love and affedtion, making chari-
table allowances for every fe6l of men in the
world-, extending even to Hereticks^ Infidels, Jews^
and Maho-metans ', and lavifhly difpenfmg, as
from the papal chair, its indulgencies to every
error under heaven. But here fin the Defence) a
very different pafTion is predominant ; fo far from
making allowances in favour of error, that it can-
not bear even the lead degree of oppofitionfrom

'^D^di. p. 35. 'Ded.p. 35. ""IbiJ. p. 33*

[ XXV 3

the fincere advocates of txhe truths but vents it*
felf in wilful forgeries, contempt, calumny, and
all the overflowings of an enraged malevolence.
The Ejay and the Defence of it being generally
allowed to have come from the fame hand, the
indecent heat and obloquy of this latter piece

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryUnknownA full answer to the Essay on spirit : wherein all the author's objections both scriptural and philosophical, to the doctrine of the Trinity; his opinions relating to the uniformity of the church; his → online text (page 1 of 13)