« הקודםהמשך »
cept some inaccurate and unwary expressions, his only deviation from the received opinions consisted in his maintaining, that it was sometimes lawful to swerve from truth, and to deceive men by our speech in order to the attainment of some great and important good. This sentiment was not relished, as the most considerable part of the reformed churches adopt the doctrine of Augustine, " That a lie or a violation of the truth can never be allowable in itself, or advantageous in the issue.” The conduct of Maty was much more worthy of condemnation; for, in order to explain the mystery of the Trinity, he invented the following unsatisfactory hypothesis ; " That the Son and the Holy Ghost were two finite Beings, that had been created by God, and at a certain time were united to the Divine nature."
XXVI. The particular confession of faith, that we have already had occasion to mention under the denomination of the Formulary of Agreement or in SwitzerConcord, has, since the commencement of this ing the forcentury, produced warm and vehement contests sw, or Form in Switzerland, and more especially in the canton of Berne. In the year 1718, the magistrates of Berne published an order, by which all professors and pastors, particularly those of the university and church of Lausanne, who were suspected of entertaining any erroneous opinions, were obliged to declare their assent to this For
D See Saurin's Discours Historiques, Theologiques, Criliques. et Moraux, sur les evenemens les plus memorables du Vieux et du Nouveau Testament, tom. i. of the folio edition.
IFy Dr. Mosheim, in another of his learned productions, has explained in a more accurate and circumstantial manner the hypothesis of Maty, which amounts to the following propositions ; " That the Father is the pure Deily; and that the Son and the Holy Ghost are two other persons, in each of whom tbere are two natures; one divine wbich is the same in all the three persons, and with respect to which they are one and the same God, having the same numerical divine essence; and the other a finite and dependent nature, which is united to the divine nature in the same man. ner in which the orthodox say, that Jesus Christ is God and Man." See Moshemi • Dissertationes ad Historiam Ecclesiasticam pertinentes,' published at Altena, in the year 1743, vol. ii. p. 498. But principally the original work of Mr. Maty, which was published at the Hague, in the year 1729, under the following title; · Lettre d'un Theologien a un autre Theologien sur le Mystere de Trinite. The publication of this hypothesis was unnecessary, as it was really destitute even of the merit of novelty, being very little more than a repetition of what Dr. Thomas Burnet, prebendary of Sarum, and rector of West Kingston in Wiltshire, had said, about ten years before, upon this mysterious subject, which nothing but presumption can make any man attempt to render intelligible. See a treatise published, without his name, by Dr. Burnet, in the year 1720, under the following title; • The Scripture Trinity intelligibly explained; or, An Essay toward the Demonstration of a Trinity in Unity from Reason and Scripture, in a Chain of Consequences of certain Principles, &c. by a divine of the Church of England.' See also the same author's 'Scripture Docfrine of the Redemption of the World by Christ, intelligibly explained,' &c. VOL. IV.
mulary, and to adopt it as the rule of their faith. This injunction was so much the more grievous, as no demanı of that kind had been made for some time before this period; and the custom of requiring subscription to this fa mous confession had been suspended in the case of several, who were promoted in the academy, or had entered into the church. Accordingly, many pastors and candidates for holy orders refused the assent that was demanded by the magistrates, and some of them were punished for this refusal. Hence arose warm contests and heavy complaints, which engaged the king of Great Britain, and the States General of the United Provinces, to offer their intercession, in order to terminate these unhappy divisions; and hence the Formulary under consideration lost much of its credit and authority. Nothing memorable happened during this period in the German churches. The reformed church that was established in the Palatinate, and had formerly been in such a flourishing state, suffered greatly from the persecuting spirit and the malignant counsels of the votaries of Rome. Xxvu. The Socinians, who are dispersed through the
different countries of Europe, have never hitherto
been able to form a separate congregation, or to celebrate publicly divine worship, in a manner conformable to the institutions of their sect; though it is well known that, in several places, they hold clandestine meetings of a religious kind. The person that made the principal figure ainong them in this century, was the learned Samuel Crellius, who died in an advanced age at Amsterdam; he indeed preferred the denomination of Artemonite before that of Socinian, and really departed, in many points, from the received doctrines of that sect.
The Arians found a learned and resolute patron in William Whiston, professor of mathematics in the university of Cambridge, who defended their doctrine in various productions, and chose rather to resign his chair, than to renounce his opinions. He was followed in these opinions, as is commonly supposed, by Dr. Samuel Clarke, a man of great abilities, judgment, and learning, who, in the year 1724, was charged with altering and modifying the ancient and orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. But it must argue
2 It is but too evident, that few controversies have so little augmented the sum of knowledge, and so much burt the spirit of charity, as the controversies that have
oc ians, Arians.
a great want of equity and candour, to rank this eminent man in the class of Arians, taking that term in its proper and natural signification; for he only maintained what is
been carried on in the Christian Church in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity. Mr. Whiston was one of the first divines who revived this controversy in the eighteenth century. About the year 1706, he began to entertain some doubts about the proper eternity and omniscience of Christ. This led him to review the popular doctrine of the Trinity; and, in order to execute this review with a degree of diligence and circumspection suitable to its importance, be read the New Testament twice over, and also all the ancient genuine monuments of the Christian religion till near the conclusion of the second century. By this inquiry, he was led to think, that at the incarnation of Christ, the Logos, or Eternal Wisdom, supplied tbe place of the rational soul or nyeupice : that the eternity of the Son of God was not a real dislinct existence, as of a son properly co-eternal with his father by a true eternal generation, but rather a metaph,sical existence in potentia, or in some sublimer manner in the father, as his wisdom or word; that Cbrist's real creation or generation, for both these terms are used by the earliest writers, took place some time before the creation of the world: that the council of Nice itself established no other eternity of Christ; and, finally, that the Arian doctrine in these points was the original doctrine of Christ himself, of his boly apostles, and of the most primitive Christians. Mr. Whiston was confirmed in these sentiments by reading Novatian's Treatise concerning the Trinity; but more especially by the perusal of the Apostolical Constitutions, the antiquity and authenticity of which he endeavoured, with more zeal than precision and prudence, to prove, in the third part of his Primitive Christianily Revived.
This learned visionary, and upright mun, was a considerable sufferer by his opi. nions. He was not only removed from his theological and pastoral functions, but also from his mathetoatical professorship, as if Arianism had extended its baneful influence even to be science of lines, angles, and surfaces. This measure was undoubtedly singular, and it appeared rigid and severe to all those, of both parties, who were dispassionate enough to see things in their true point of light. And indeed, though we should grant that the good man's mathematics might, by erroneous conclusions, have corrupted his orthodoxy, yet it will still remain extremely difficult to comprehend, bow his heterodoxy could hurt his mathematics. It was not therefore consistent, either with clemency or good sense, to turn Mr. Whiston out of his mathematical chair, because he did not believe the explication of the Trinity that is given in the Athanasian creed ; and I mention this as an instance of the unfair proceedings of immoderate zeal, which often confounds the plainest distinctions, and deals its punishments without measure or proportion.
Dr. Samuel Clarke stepped also aside from the notions commonly received concerning the Trinity; but his modification of this doctrine was not so remote from the popular and orthodox hypothesis, as the sentiment of Whiston. His method of inquiring into that incomprehensible subject was modest, and at least, promised fair as a guide to truth. For be did not begin by abstract and metaphysical reasonings in his illustrations of this doctrine, but turned his first researches to the word and to the testimony, persuaded that, as the doctrine of the Trinity was a matter of mere revelation, all human explications of it must be tried by the declarations of the New Testament, interpreted by the rules of grammar, and the principles of sound criti. cism. It was this persuasion that produced the doctor's famous book, entitled, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinuy, wherein every Text in the New Testament relating to that Doctrine is distinctly considered, and the Divinity of our blessed Sariour, according to the Scriptures, proved and explained. The doctrine which this learned divine drew from his researches, was comprehended in lv propositions, which, with the proper illustrations, form the second part of this work. "The reader will find them there at full length. We shall only observe here, that Dr. Clarke, if he was careful in searching after the true meaning of those Scripture expressions, that relate to the divinity of the Son and the Hoty Ghost, was equally circumspect in avoiding the accusation of beterodoxy, as appears by the series of propositions now referred to. There are three great rocks of heresy, on which many bold adventurers on this anBipacific ocean have been seen to split violently. These rocks are Tritheism, Sabellian ism and Arianism. Dr.Clarke got evidently clear of the first, by denying the self exist. ence of the Son and the Holy Ghost, and by maintaining their derivation from, and subordination to the Father. He laboured hard to avoid the second, by acknowledging the personality and distinct agency of the Son and the Holy Ghost; and he flattered him,
commonly called the Arminian subordination, which has been, and is still adopted by some of the greatest men in England, and even by some of the most learned bishops of that nation. This doctrine he illustrated with greater care and perspicuity than any before him had done, and taught self with having escaped from the dangers of the third, by his asserting the eternity, for the doctor believed the possibility of an eternal production, which Whiston could not digest, of the two divine subordinate
persons. But with all his circumspection, Dr. Clarke did not escape opposition and censure. He was abused and answered, and heresy was subdivided and modified, in order to give him an opprobrious title, even that of semiarian. The convocation threatened, and the doctor calmed by his
prudence the apprehension and fears which his Scripture doctrine of the Trinity had exeited in that learned and reverend assembly. An authentic account of the proceedings of the two houses of convocation upon this occasion, and of Dr. Clarke's conduct in consequence of the complaints that were made against his book, may be seen in a piece supposed to have been written by the Rev. Mr. John Lawrence, and published at London in 8vo. in the year 1714, under the following title; “An Apology for Dr. Clarke, containing an account of the late Proceedings in Convocation upon his Writings concerning the Trinity. The true copies of all the original papers relating to this affair are published in this apology.
If Dr. Clarke was attacked by authority, he was also combatted by argument. The learned Dr. Waterland was one of his principal adversaries, and stands at the head of a polemical body composed of eminent divines, such as Gastrel, Weils, Nelson, Mayo, Knight, and others, who appeared in this controversy. Against these, Dr. Clarke, unawed by their numbers, defended himself with great spirit and perseve. rance, in several letters and replies. This prolonged a controversy, which may often be suspended through the fatigue of the combatants, or the change of the mode in theological researches, but which will probably never be terminated; for nothing affords such an endless subject of debate, as a doctrine above the reach of human understanding, and expressed in the ambiguous and improper terms of human language, such as persons, generation, substance, &c. which in this controversy either convey no ideas at all, or false ones. The inconveniences, accordingly, of departing from the divine simplicity of the Scripture language on this subject, and of making a matter of mere revelation an object of human reasoning, were palpable in the writings of both the contending parties. For if Dr. Clarke was accused of verging toward Arianism, by maintaining the derived and caused existence of the Son and the Holy Ghost, it seemed no less evident that Dr. Waterland was verging toward tritheism, by maintaining the self-existence and independence of these divine persons, and by asserting that the subordination of the Son to the Father is only a subordination of OFFice, and not of NATURE. So that if the former divine was deservedly called a semiarian, the latter might, with equal justice, be denominated a semitritheist. The difference between these two learned men lay in this, that Dr. Clarke, after making a faithful collection of the texts in Scripture that relate to the Trinity, thought proper to interpret them by the maxims and rules of right reasoning, that are used on other subject:: whereas Dr. Waterland denied that this method of reasoning was to be admitted in illustrating the doctrine of the Trinity, which was far exalted above the sphere of human reason, and therefore he took the texts of Scripture, in their direct, literal, and grammatical sense. Dr. Waterland, however, employed the words persons, subsistence, &c. as useful for fixing the notion of distinction; the words uncreated, eternal, and immutable, for ascertaining the divinity of each person ; and the words interior generation and procession, to indicate their union. This was departing from his grammatical method, which ought to have led him to this plain conclusion, that the Son and the Holy Ghost, to whom divine attributes are ascribed in Scripture, and even the denomination of God to the form r, possess these attributes in a manner which it is impossible for us to understand in this present state, and the understanding of which is consequently unessential to our salvation and happiness. The doctor, indeed, apologizes in his queries, p.321, for the use of these metaphysical terms, by observing; that“ they are not designed to enlarge our views, or to add any thing to our stock of ideas, but to secure the plain fundamental truth, That Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are all strictly divine, and uncreated; and yet are not three Gods, but one God.” It is, however, difficult to comprehend how terms, that neither enlarge our views, nor give
that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are equal in nature, and different in rank, authority, and subordination. A great number of English writers have endeavoured, in a variety of ways, to invalidate and undermine the doctrine of the Holy Trinity; and it was this consideration that engaged a lady,' eminently distinguished by her orthodoxy and opulence, to leave by her testament a rich legacy as a foundation for a lecture, in which eight sermons are preached annually by a learned divine, who is nominated to that office by the trustees. This foundation has subsisted since the year 1720, and promises to posterity an ample collection of learned productions in defence of this branch of the Christian faith.
us ideas, can secure any truth. It is difficult to conceive what our faith gains by being entertained with a certain number of sounds. If a Chinese should explain a term of his language which I did not understand, by another term, which he knew beforehand that I understood as little, his conduct would be justly considered as an insult against the rules of conversation and good breeding; and, I think it is an equal violation of the equitable principles of candid controversy, to offer as illustrations, propositions or terms that are as unintelligible and obscure as the thing to be illustrated. The words of the excellent and learned Stillingfleet, in the Preface to his Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity, administer a plain and a wise rule, which were it observed by divines, would greatly contribute to heal the wounds which both truth and charity have received in this controversy. 6 Since both sides yield, says he, that the matter they dispute about is above their reach, the wisest course they can Cake is, to assert and defend what is revealed and not to be peremptory, and quarrelsome about that which is acknowledged to be above our comprehension; I mean as to the manner how the three persons partake of the divine nature.”
Those who are desirous of a more minute historical view of the manner in which the trinitarian controversy has been carried on during this present century, may consult a pamphlet, entitled, “ An Account of all the considerable Books and Pamphlets that have been wrote on either side in the Controversy concerning the Trinity since the year 1712; in which is also contained, an Account of the Pamphlets written this last year, on each side, by the Dissenters, to the end of the year 1719. This pamphlet was published at London in the year 1720. The more recent treatises on the subject of the Trinity are sufficiently known.
Is a It will appear to those who read the preceding note z, that Dr. Mosheim has here mistaken the true hypothesis of Dr.Clarke,or, at least expresseth it imperfectly; for what he says here is rather applicable to the opinion of Dr. Waterland.
Dr. Clarke maintained an equality of perfections between the three Persons ; but al subordination of nature in point of existence and derivation.
by Lady Moyer.