« AnteriorContinuar »
A letter to the Common People, in ar suer to some popular arguments agains the trinity. These arguments are ex tracted chiefly from a small book,entitled An Appeal to the Common Sense of al Christian people; a thing very highly commended by the author of the Confes. sional.* But in this author's estimation, every writer that opposes the faith of the church of England, is ipso facto invincible: and consequently, this retailer of Dr. Clarke's opinions, whoever he is, must come in for his share of merit and applause; which I by no means envy him.
So far as the scripture itself hath been thought to furnish any objections to the received doctrine, I judged it the fairer and the surer way, to answer them as
*"Which book," (says he)“ has passed through two edi. tions without any sort of reply that I have heard of. This looks as if able writers were not willing to meddle with the subject, or that willing writers were not able to manage it,” p. $20 The Rev. Mr Landon published an answer to this book in 1764, printed for Wiston and White: and he has mentioned another himself in a note. But had the case really been as he hath reported in his text, it will by no means follow, that a book is therefore unanswerable, be. cause it hath received no answer If this be good logic, I could present him with a conclusion or two, which he would not very well like.
they were offered by Dr. Clarke himself; and have therefore no apology to make for neglecting some of his disciples, who have not made any improvement on his arguments; as I do not find that this gentleman hath; the second edition of whose Appeal was published in 1754, since which there have been two editions of the Catholic doctrine in England, and one or more in Ireland.
By allthe observations I have been able to make, the greater number of those who disbelieve the trinity upon principle (for many do it implicitly, and are credulous in their unbelief) do not profess to take their notions of God from the Bible, but affect to distinguish themselves from thecommon herd by drawingthem from the fountains of reason and philosophy. We cannot be persuaded, that the trinity is denied by reasoners of this complexion, because the scripture hath not revealed it: but do rather suspect, that some pbilosop! rs dissent from this point of Christian doctrine, because they are not humble enough to take the scripture as a test of their religious opinions. In which
case, the whole labor of collecting texts, and framing of comments, ar fishing for various readings, is an afte thought. It is submitted to rather fe apology than for proof: to reconcile rea ders of the scripture to that doctrine which they would be more jealous of re ceiving if they knew it to have been ori ginally borrowed from another quarter He that would deceive a Christian, car seldom do his work effectually without a Bible in his hand : a consideration, which may help us to a sight of the consequences, if persons were permitted to teach in our churches without any previous inquiry concerning their religious sentiments, and so allowed to take the same liberty, either through mistake or ill design, as was taken by the arch deceiver in the wilderness, * who never meant to use the scriptures for edification, but only for destruction; not to apply it as an instrument of good, but to turn it, as far as he was able, into an instrument of evil.' The Bible was given us for the preservation of the kingdom
* Matt. iv. 6.
of Christ upon earth; as the book of statutes in this kingdom is intended to secure the authority of the government, together with the life, peace, and property of every individual; and we want no prophet to foreshew us the consequences, if all the malecontents in the nation were allowed to be public interpreters of the laws.
These considerations I leave the judi. cious to apply as they find occasion. I use them chiefly as bints, for the benefit both of such as may be in danger of wresting the scriptures to their own destruction, and of such philosophers as those alluded to by St. Paul,* who through the profession of fancied wisdom fell into real folly, and purchased a reputed knowledge of things natural and metaphysical, at the lamentable expense of losing the knowledge of God.
Pluckley, Jan. 1, 1767.
* Rom. i. 22. 1 Cor. i. 21.