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And to bring this matter home to the Ari. ans ; it is to be observed, that
article of the Christian faith depends upon the doctrine of a trinity in unity. If that be given up, the other doctrines of our religion must go with it, and so it has been in fact, that the authors who have written against the trinity, have al. so disputed away some other essential parts of Christianity; particularly the doctrines of the satisfaction and of original sin.
The whole Bible treats of little else but our creation, redemption,sanctification, resurrection and glorification, by the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit: and the reader will find hereafter, that there is neither name, act, nor attribute of the godhead, that is not shared in common by all the persons of the trinity. If, therefore, the persons
of Christ and the Spirit are not God in the unity of the Father, then the prayers and praises we offer to them, as the authors of every blessing, will not be directed to thé supreme Lord andGod, beside whom no other is to be worshipped, but to his creatures and instruments : which overthrows the sense of our whole religion; and drives us upon a sort of second-rate faith and worship, which, beside the blasphemy of it, can be nothing but confusion and contradiction. It is no wonder then, that the Arians and Socinians, with their several under-sects and divisions, who have fallen into this snare, and departed from the divine unity, while they pretend to be the only men who assertit, have never yet been able to agree in the forms of religious worship. Some of them allowing that Christ is to receive divine worship, but always with this reserve, that the prayer tend ultimately to the person
of the Father. So that Christ is to be worshipped, only he is not to be worshipped : and if you should venture, when you are at the point of death, to say with St. Stephen-Lord Jesus, receive my spirith-and confess the person of Jesus to be the God of the spirits of all fleshi by committing your own spirit into his hands; you are to take care not to die without throwing in some qualifving comment, to assure him you do it only in hypocrisy, not meaning him but another. Others, again, knowing this distinction to be vain and inde fensible, and the same for substance with the Latria and Dulia by which the church of Rome excuses her adoration of the Blessed Virgin, &c. have fairly got rid of it, by denying to the person of Christ any divine worship or invocation at all; which is the case with our Socini. an Unitarians here in England; for those of Poland are quite of another mind.
How far such differences as these must needs affect a liturgy, it is very easy to forsee: and that it will for ever be as impossible to frame a creed or service to please all those who bear the name of Christians, as to make a coat that shall fit men of all sizes. * Prayer and divine worship and religious confession, are the fruit and breath of faith; and out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh:k so that until we are agreed in matters of faith, then is neither hope nor possibility of our agreeing in any form of worship. God is the fountain-head, and religion the stream that descends from it. Our sentiments as to religion, always Aow from the opinion we have formed of the divine pature; and will be right or wrong, sweet or bitter, as the fountain is from whence they are derived. It is the have ing a different God, that makes a different religion. A true God produces a true religion ; a false God, a false religion. Jews, Turks, Pagans, Deists, Arians, Socinians and Chris tians, all differ about a religion, because they differ about a God.
b Acts vii. 59.
i Numbers xvi. 22.
These few observations will be sufficient, I hope, to raise the attention of the reader; and persuade him, that a right faith in God is a much more serious affair than some would make it; that it is of the last concern, and hath a necessary influence upon the practice and holiness of our lives; that as no other devotion is acceptable with God, but that which is seasoned with love and charity and uniformity, the very mark and badge whereby his disciples are to be known from the men of this world, it is the principal duty of every Christian to know in whom he ought to believe, that with one mind, and with one mouth we may glorify God:l for a right notion of God, will as surely be followed by a sound faith, and an uniform profession in all other points, as a false faith and discordant worship will grow from every wrong opinion of him.
k Matthew xii 34. * Hales of Eton, in his sarcastic and malicious Tract upon Schism, proposes it as a grand expedient for the advancing of unity, that we should consider all the liturgies, that are and ever bave been; and remove from them whatever is scandalous to any party, and leave nothing but what all agree on.” He should have closed this sentence a little sooner; and advise us fairly and honestly to leave nothing : for that will certainly be the event, when the objections of all parties are suffered to prevail; there being no one page of the litergy, wherein all who pretend to worship God as "Pristians, are agreed.
All that can be known of the true God, is to be known by revelation. The false lights
. indeed of reason and nature are set up and recommended, as necessary to assist and ratify the evidence of revelation : but inquiries of this kind, as they are now managed, generally end in the degradation of Christ, and the Christian religion :* til it can be shewn there
1 Rom, xv. 6. * You may have a proof of this from the Essay on Spirit, by comparing the book with its title, which runs thus The Doctrine of the Trinity considered in the light of Reason and Valure, &c.
fore that the scripture neither does nor can shine by a light and authority of its own, the evidence we are to rest in, must be drawn from thence : and as we all have the same scripture, without doubt we ought all to have the same opinion of God.
But here it is commonly objected, that men will be of different opinions, and that they have a right to judge for themselves; and that when the best evidence the nature of the case will admit of is collected and laid before them, they must determine upon it as it appears to them, and according to the light of their own consciences : so that if they adhere as closely to their errors after they have consulted the proper evidence as they did before, we are neither to wonder nor to be troubled at it. This very moderate and benevolent
of thinking, has been studiously recommended by those, who found it necessary to the wellbeing of their own opinions, that not a spark of zeal should be left amongst us. And surely it is no new thing, that the advocates of any particular error, next to themselves and their own fashion, should naturally incline to those who are softest, and stand least in the way. Hence it is, that however magisterial and insolent they may carry themselves in their own cause; they always take care to season their writings with the praises of this frozen indifference, calling that Christian