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those many, who cannot but know that it is incumbent on them, ' to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered unto the saints. This present brief endeavour is only to assist and direct those, who are less exercised in the ways of managing controversies in religion, that they may have a brief comprehension of the truths opposed, with the firm foundations whereon they are built, and have in a readiness to shield their faith, both against the fiery darts of Satan, and secure their minds against the 'cunning sleights of men, who lie in wait to deceive.' And wherein this discourse seems in any thing to be too brief or concise, the author is not to be blamed; who was confined unto these strait bounds by those whose requests enjoined him this service.
EXPLAINED AND VINDICATED.
The doctrine of the blessed Trinity may be considered two ways. First, In respect unto the revelation and proposal of it in the Scripture, to direct us unto the author, object, and end of our faith, in our worship and obedience. Secondly, As it is farther declared and explained, in terms, expressions, and propositions, reduced from the original revelation of it, suited thereunto, and meet to direct and keep the mind from undue apprehensions of the things it believes; and to declare them unto farther edification. : In the first way, it consists merely in the propositions wherein the revelation of God is expressed in the Scripture; and in this regard two things are required of us. First, To understand the terms of the propositions, as they are enunciations of truth ; and secondly, To believe the things taught, revealed, and declared in them.
In the first instance, no more, I say, is required of us, but that we assent unto the assertions and testimonies of God concerning himself, according to their natural and genuine sense, as he will be known, believed in, feared, and worshipped by us, as he is our Creator, Lord, and Rewarder; and that because he himself hath by his revelation, not only warranted us so to do, but also made it our duty necessary and indispensable. Now the sum of this revelation in this matter is, that God is one; that this one God, is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that the Father is the Father of the Son; and the Son, the Son of the Father; and the Holy Ghost, the Spirit of the Father and the Son; and that in respect of this their mutual relation, they are distinct from each other.
This is the substance of the doctrine of the Trinity, as to the first direct concernment of faith therein. The first intention of the Scripture in the revelation of God towards us
is, as was said, that we might fear him, believe, worship, obey him, and live unto him, as God. That we may do this in a due manner, and worship the only true God, and - not adore the false imaginations of our own minds, it declares, as was said, that this God is one, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; that the Father is this one God, and therefore is to be believed in, worshipped, obeyed, lived unto, and in all things considered by us as the first cause, sovereign Lord, and last end of all; that the Son, is the one true God, and therefore is to be believed in, worshipped, obeyed, lived unto, and in all things considered by us as the first cause, sovereign Lord, and last end of all. And so also of the Holy Ghost. This is the whole of faith's concernment in this matter, as it respects the direct revelation of God made by himself in the Scripture, and the first proper general end thereof. Let this be clearly confirmed by direct and positive divine testimonies containing the declaration and revelation of God concerning himself, and faith is secured as to all its concerns. For it hath both its proper formal object, and is sufficiently enabled to be directive of divine worship and obedience. The explication of this doctrine unto edification suitable unto the revelation mentioned, is of another consideration; and two things are incumbent on us to take care of therein. First, That what is affirmed and taught, do directly tend unto the ends of the revelation itself, by informing and enlightening of the mind in the knowledge of the mystery of it, so far as in this life we are by divine assistance capable to comprehend it; that is, that faith may be increased, strengthened, and confirmed, against temptations and oppositions of Satan, and men of corrupt minds; and that we may be distinctly directed unto, and encouraged in, the obedience unto, and worship of, God that are required of us. Secondly, That nothing be affirmed or taught herein, that may beget, or occasion any undue apprehensions concerning God, or our obedience unto him, with respect unto the best, highest, securest revelations, that we have of him and our duty. These things being done and secured, the end of the declaration of this doctrine concerning God is attained. -In the declaration then of this doctrine unto the edification of the church, there is contained a farther explanation of the things before asserted, as proposed directly, and
in themselves as the object of our faith, namely, how God is one, in respect of his nature, substance, essence, Godhead, or divine being ; how, being Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, he subsisteth in these three distinct persons, or hypostases: and what are their mutual respects to each other, by which as their peculiar properties giving them the manner of their subsistence, they are distinguished one from another, with sundry other things of the like necessary consequence unto the revelation mentioned. And herein, as in the application of all other divine truths and mysteries whatever, yea, of all moral commanded duties, use is to be made of such words and expressions as it may be are not literally and formally contained in the Scripture; but only are unto our conceptions and apprehensions expository of what is so contained. And to deny the liberty, yea, the necessity hereof, is to deny all interpretation of the Scripture, all endeavours to express the sense of the words of it, unto the understandings of one another; which is in a word to render the Scripture itself altogether useless. For if it be unlawful for me to speak or write what I conceive to be the sense of the words of the Scripture, and the nature of the thing signified and expressed by them, it is unlawful for me also to think or conceive in my mind what is the sense of the words or nature of the things; which to say, is to make brutes of ourselves, and to frustrate the whole design of God in giving unto us the great privilege of his word.
Wherefore in the declaration of the doctrine of the Trinity, we may lawfully, nay, we must necessarily, make use of other words, phrases, and expressions, than what are literally and syllabically contained in the Scripture, but teach no other things.
Moreover, whatever is so revealed in the Scripture, is no less true and divine as to whatever necessarily followeth thereon, than it is, as unto that which is principally revealed and directly expressed. For how far soever the lines be drawn and extended, from truth nothing can follow and ensue but what is true also; and that in the same kind of truth, with that which it is derived and deduced from. For if the principal assertion be a truth of divine revelation, so is also whatever is included therein, and which may be rightly from thence collected, Hence it follows, that when the Scripture revealeth the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. to be one God, seeing it necessarily and unavoidably follows thereon that they are one in essence, wherein alone it is possible they can be one ; and three in their distinct subsistences, wherein alone it is possible they can be three :this is no less of divine Revelation, than the first principle from whence these things follow. & These being the respects which the doctrine of the Trinity falls under, the necessary method of faith and reason in the believing and declaring of it, is plain and evident. First, The revelation of it is to be asserted and vindicated, as it is proposed to be believed for the ends mentioned. Now this is, as was declared, that there is one God; that this God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and so, that the Father is God, so is the Son, so is the Holy Ghost. This being received and admitted by faith, the explication of it is, Secondly, To be insisted on, and not taken into consideration until the others be admitted. And herein lies the preposterous course of those who fallaciously and captiously go about to oppose this sacred truth. They will always begin their opposition, not unto the revelation of it, but unto the explanation of it, which is used only for farther edification. Their disputes and cavils shall be against the Trinity, essence, substance, persons, personality, respects, properties of the divine persons, with the modes of expressing these things, whilst the plain scriptural revelation of the things themselves from whence they are but explanatory deductions, is not spoken to, nor admitted into confirmation. By this means have they entangled many weak, unstable souls, who when they have met with things too high, hard, and difficult for them (which in divine mysteries they may quickly do), in the explication of this doctrine, have suffered themselves to be taken off from a due consideration of the full and plain revelation of the thing itself in Scripture; until their temptations being made strong, and their darkness increased, it was too late for them to return unto it; as bringing along with them the cavils wherewith they were prepossessed, rather than that faith and obedience which is required. But yet all this while these explanations so excepted against, are indeed not of any original conside