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CENT. XVI11.“ 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, who had been created by “ God, and at a certain time were united to the
“ divine nature y." The disputes XXVI. The particular confession of faith, that
we have already had occasion to mention under the cerning the denomination of the Formulary of Agreement or
Concord, has, since the commencement of this cenor Form of tury, produced warm and vehement contests in Agreement.
Switzerland, and more especially in the canton of Bern. In 1718, the magistrates of Bern published an order, by which all professors, and particularly
in Switzerland con•
y 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 Deity; and that the Son “ and the Holy Ghost are two other persons, in each of whom " there are two natures; one divine, which 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 6 is united to the divine nature in the same manner in which the “ orthodox say, that Jesus Christ is God and man.” See Dissertationes ad Historiam Ecclesiasticam pertinentes, (published at Altena in 1743,) vol. ii. p. 498, but principally the original work of Mr. Maty, which was published at the Hague) in 1729, under the following title : Lettre d'un Theologien à un autre Theologien sur le Mystere de la Trinité.The publication of this hypothesis was unnecessary, as it was destitute even of the merit of novelty, being very little more than a repetition of what Dr. Thomas Burnet, prebendary of Sarum, 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 1720, with this title : The Scripture Trinity intelligibly explained; or, An Essay towards the Demonstration of a Trinity in Unity from Reason and Scripture, in a Chain of Consequences from certain Principles, &c. by a Divine of the Church of England. See also the same author's Scripture Doctrine of the Redemption of the World by Christ, intelligibly explained, &c.
those of the university and church of Lausanne, whO CENT. XVIII. were suspected of entertaining erroneous opinions, were obliged to declare their assent to this Formu. lary, and to adopt it as the rule of their faith. This injunction was so much the more grievous, as no demand of that kind had been made for some time before this period; and the custom of requiring subscription to this confession had been suspended in the case of several who were promoted in the university, 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 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.
XXVII. The Socinians, dispersed through the Socinians. different countries of Europe, have not hitherto been able to form a separate congregation, or to celebrate publicly divine worship, in a manner conformable to the institutions of their sect, although, in several places, they hold clandestine meetings of a religious kind. The person that made the principal figure among them in this century, was the learned Samuel Crellius, who died in an advanced age at Amsterdam : he indeed preferred the denomination of Artemonite to that of Socinian, and departed in many points from the received doctrines of that sect.
The Arians found a learned and resolute patron Arians. in William Whiston, professor of mathematics in
CENT. XVII. 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, judgement, and learning, who, in 1724, was accused of altering and modifying the ancient and orthodox doctrine of the Trinity? But it must
K z It is too evident that few controversies have so little augmented the sum of knowlege, and so much hurt the spirit of charity, as the controversies that have 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 xviiith 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, he read the New Testament twice over, and also all the genuine monuments of the Christian religion prior to 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 the place of the rational soul, or hverja ; that the eternity of the Son of God was not a real distinct existence, as of a son properly co-eternal with his father by a true eternal generation, but rather a metaphysical existence in potentia, or in some sublimer manner, in the Father, as his wisdom or word; that Christ'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 holy apostles, and of the 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 Christianity Revived.
This learned visionary, and upright man, was a considerable sufferer by his opinions. He was not only removed from his theological and pastoral functions, but also from his mathematical professorship, as if Arianism had extended its baneful influence even to the science of lines, angles, and surfaces. This measure was undoubtedly singular, and it appeared rigi and severe to all those, of both parties, who were dispassionat enough to see things in their true point of light; and, indeed
argue a great want of equity and candor, to rank CENT. XVIII. this eminent man in the class of Arians, taking that
though we should grant that the good man's mathematics might, by erroneous conclusions, have corrupted his orthodoxy, it will still remain extremely difficult to comprehend, how his hetero. doxy 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. Clarke also stepped 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 fairly as a guide to truth. For he 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, being 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 criticism. It was this persuasion that produced his famous book, entitled, The Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, wherein every Text in the New Testament relating to that Doctrine is distinctly considered, and the Divinity of our blessed Saviour, according to the Scriptures, proved and explained. The doctrine, which this learned divine drew from his researches, was comprehended in 55 propositions, which, with the proper illustrations, form the second part of the work. As the reader will find them in that work at full length, we shall only observe here, that Dr. Clarke, if he was careful in searching for the true meaning of those scriptural expressions that relate to the divinity of the Son and the Holy Ghost, was equally circumspect in avoiding the accusation of heterodoxy, as appears by the series of propositions now referred to. There are three great rocks of heresy on which many bold adventurers on this Anti-Pacific ocean have been seen to split violently. These rocks are Tritheism, Sabellianism, and Arianism. Dr. Clarke got evidently clear of the first, by denying the self-existence of the Son and the Holy Ghost, and by maintaining their derivation from, and subordination to the Father. He strenuously labored to avoid the second, by acknowleging the personality and distinct
agency of the Son and the Holy Ghost; and he flattered himself with having escaped from the dangers of the third, by his asserting the eternity (for he believed the possibility of an eternal production which Whiston could not digest) of the two
. term in its proper and natural signification ; for he
divine subordinate persons. But, with all his circumspection,
If Dr. Clarke was attacked by authority, he was also com-