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ésm, have a right to remonstrate against the res pealing of it ; though we can never expect to do so, without being persecuted and reviled for it as long as we live.
IV. To prejudice your minds against the Athanasian creed, they inform you, that the doc. trine of the trinity, as there set forth, is not expressed in the words of scripture; there are no such propositions to be found in the declarations of Christ and his apostles.h By this it is meant, that you do not find any such expressions asm trinity in unity not three eternals, but one eter. naland such like. The best course you can take upon this occasion, is to argue with them upon their own principles, which generally stop a man's mouth sooner than any other. Ask them, where they find it asserted in the words of scripture, almighty God is one supreme intele ligent being, or person ? Ask them in what chapter or verse, Christ or his apostles did ever declare, that the Holy Spirit is first minister in the government of the church; and where it is said that he has Angels for his assistants? Ask them, again, where they meet with the propositionthe worship of Christ is inferior, or mediatorial ? And you might ask them twenty more such questions, which they can never answer upon their own principles : so that they have employ. ed an argument to corrupt you, which returns upon themselves, and with this disadvantage on their side, that they have departed from the sense as well as the words of scripture; but the church, if, besides the words of scripture, it uses others, does still retain such a sense, as the words of scripture will clearly justify.
h P. 5.
V. But lest you should believe this, they assure you the Athanasian creed has proposed a downright contradiction as an article of faith : and if this be the case, then indeed we must al. low that such a contradiction cannot be justified by the words of scriplure. “ You must believe (say they) if this creed has any weight, that three Gods is one God.”i If you examine the creed itself, you will find no such doctrine as they have put in it; but, on the contrary, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, arc NOT THREE GODS, but ONE GOD; and again, “We are forbidden by the Catholic reli. gion, to “say, there be three Gods.” I pray you to observe this; and to consider with your. selves, whether our adversaries, supposing them to be satisfied in their own consciences that they were able to confute the Catholic doctrine of three persons, and one God, would have endeavoured to take advantage of your simplicity, by putting this false notion of three Gods into the place of it?
VI. Upon other occasions they try to give you an ill opinion of our ecclesiastical forms, by calling them the decrees of fallible men,k and creeds of human invention;l which is a very mean objection, unless they who make it, and propose a contrary sort of beliei, are themselves infallible. We readily own that the persons, who drew up the forms used in the church, were men like ourselves. But did they deliver the doctrine of these forıms as their own doctrine, or as the doc. trine of almighty God in the scripture? If they deliver it as their own, then their fallibility would be a pertinent consideration : but if it is the doce trine of the scripture, then the fallibility of the men who delivered it, is nothing to the purpose ; and as such only we take it, using our own pri. vate judgment in relation to the men, but submitting our reason to the infallible Spirit of God. A judge who sits upon the bench by the king's authority, to determine civil causes, is a fallible Inan: but so far as he makes the law of the land the rule of his judgment, he is infallible. And we never attempt to persuade you, that the teachers of our church are infallible, but so far only as they make the scripture the rule of their judgment. Therefore, when you hear them re. Acted upon as allible men, do them so much justice as to ask yourselves the question, whether they who make this objection are themselves infallible? Is not the author of an Appeal to the Common Sense of all Christian People a fallible man, when he tells you, in terms of bu. man invention, that God is one supreme intelligent agent, or person? that the holy Spirit is his first minister? that Christ did really suffer in his high, est capacity ?m that he is to be honored with
i P, 87.
k P. 5.
1 P. 37.
mediatorial worship? Doth he not deliver these doctrines as a fallible man? Yea verily, not only as one who may be, but who actually is, deceived, if the scripture is true.
VII. As a farther encouragement to opposition, you are taught that any body may deny the trinity upon protestant principles. And here give me leave to tell you, my friends, that there are some people who seem to think it is the pro. fession of a protestant, not to believe but to deny; and that a man is no good protestant, unless he disputes every thing that falls in his way, Had this been the true Christian spirit, our Saviour would probably have recommended it to his hearers, by setting a bear, or a tyger, or a fox, before them, and proposing these creatures as the best examples of it. Instead of which, he shewed them what his followers ought to be, by presenting to them a little child as their pattern; whence the people were to understand, that as a little child receives the instruction of its parents, without any of the perverse disputings of a corrupted mind; so ought they to receive the kingdom of heaven, that is, the doctrine of the gospel. This is a disposition lovely in the sight of God and men, and so far from rendering the possessors of it more liable to be imposed upon, that none but persons of this temper are able to discern the truth when it is offered, according to that expression of Christ-I thank thee, o Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and kast revealed then unto babes. There would be more peace in the world than there is now, if men would but remember this ; and there would be more wisdom too: for none are so blind as they who are always boasting of the quickness of their own eye-sight; they are so filled up with the opinion of their understanding every thing, that it is impossible to make them understand when they are mistaken.
But it may be dangerous to enlarge any farther upon this subject, lest it should be suspec. ted that I am leading you into Popery.
There is, however, a very false light, in which your liberty, as Protestants, is represented to you, and therefore I think it my duty to make you aware of it.
“ No Protestant (they say) can, consistently with acknowledging the scripture as the only rule, charge you with the least presumption, for bringing decrees not found there to the test of a rational inquiry.”n The decree here alluded to is the doctrine of a trinity in unity. As to myself, my whole book bears witness for me, that I thought it my own duty, and would have it also be your practice, to bring this doctrine to the test of scripture, as the only suíficient rule in such a case. And I am persuaded, no reason. able Christian will have any objection to your proceedings, if you examine in the best manner you are able, whether the Catholic doctrine of the trinity is found in the scripture, or not. shall charge you justly with a great deal of presumption, if you uudertake to compare it with scripture as a decree not found in scripture : for