« הקודםהמשך »
minian Subordination, which has been, and is still, FENT. XXII. adopted by some of the greatest men in England, *
Clarke, after making a faithful collection of the texts in Scripture that relate to the Trinity, thought proper to interpret them by those maxims and rules of right reasoning, which are used on other subjects; 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 Seripture (and even the denomination of God to the former), 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, apologises 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 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, if observed by divines, would greatly contribute to heal the wounds which both truth and charity have received in this controversy. “Since both sides yield (says he) that the “ matter they dispute about is above their reach, the wisest “ course they can take is, to assert and defend what is revealed, " and not to be peremptory and quarrelsome about that which “ is acknowleged to be above our comprehension; I mean as
BENT. XVI. and even by some of the most learned bishops in that country.
This doctrine he illustrated with greater care and perspicuity than any before him had done, and taught 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 modes, to invalidate and undermine the doctrine of the holy Trinity; and it was this consideration that engaged a lady b, eminently distinguished by her orthodoxy and opulence, to bequeath a valuable 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.
“ 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 the present century, may consult a pamphlet that was published in 1720, entitled, An Account of all the considerable Books and Pamphlets that have been written 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. The more recent treatises on the subject of the Trinity are sufficiently known.
ta It will appear to those who read the preceding note, that Dr. Mosheim has here mistaken the true hypothesis of Dr. Clarke, or, at least, expresses it imperfectly, for what he says here is rather applicable to the opinion of Dr. Waterland.' Dr. Clarke maintained an equality of perfections in the three
persons, but a subordination of nature in point of existence and derivation.
b Lady Moyer.
THE FIRST APPENDIX.
MOSHEIM's Ecclesiastical History can be justly appreciated only by considering it as a general epitome. As such, it is indeed excellent; the arrangement is luminous; the style, both of the author and of his translator, is in general perspicuous; and though topics of the greatest importance are, from the nature of the work, necessarily treated with a brevity which the reader may sometimes regret, the references at the bottoms of the pages inform him where he may, on every subject, find fuller information. It must, however, be confessed, that those references, being for the most part made to the works of German authors, are of less value to us than to those for whose use the history was originally composed; and, perhaps, it cannot be wholly denied, that the author, learned and pious as he undoubtedly was, either had not studied the works of the primitive fathers of the Christian church with sufficient care, or labored under some prejudices, from which the most powerful minds are not wholly exempt, that made him refer to learned moderns for the decision of questions, which the ancients alone can decide. This, we think, appears most remarkably in the view which he exhibits of the constitution, government, and discipline, of the primitive church, of which it is obvious that we can know nothing but from the testimony of the primitive writers.
The Fathers, as they are called, may have been bad critics, as we think they generally were; they may have been extremely credulous, and ready to attribute, to the miraculous interposition of God, natural events, for which their philosophy did not enable them to account; and their speculative doc
trines may have been often corrupted by that science, falsely so called, which spread from the Alexandrian school over the whole Christian world; but the integrity of men who laid down their lives for what they believed to be the truth, cannot surely be questioned. “I see no reason," said one, who did not pay to them undue deference, “ why their veracity “ should be questioned, when they bear witness to " the state of religion in their own times, because “ they disgraced their judgement, in giving ear to “ every strange tale of monkish extraction. Con" troversy apart, their testimony to common facts
may yet stand good;” and surely the constitution, government and discipline of the church, were common facts, about which none of them could be deceived.
The view however which Dr. Mosheim has given of the primitive church, appears not to us to be countenanced by any primitive writer; and accordingly he rarely appeals directly to them in support of what he advances, but refers to modern authors, generally French or Germans, who have written on the subject, and who could write nothing on it authentic, which they did not derive from the ancients. The qualifications indeed which he thinks essential to an historian, and the rules which he lays down for the manner of treating ecclesiastical history, though highly valuable in themselves, are by him stated in such a manner as cannot fail to excite, in the reflecting mind, suspicions of the authenticity of his account of the government and discipline of the primitive church. After observing that, in order to render the history of the church useful and interesting, it is necessary to trace effects to their causes, and to connect events with the circumstances, views, principles, and instruments that have contributed to their existence, he adds, “ In order to discover the secret “ causes of public events, some general succours are “ to be derived from the history of the times in which
a Warburton in his introduction to Julian.
« they happened, and the testimonies of the authors
by whom they are recorded. But, beside these, a “ considerable acquaintance with human nature, “ founded on long observation and experience, is ex
tremely useful in researches of this kind. The “ historian who has acquired a competent knowlege “ of the views that occupy the generality of men, “ who has studied a great variety of characters, and s« attentively observed the force and violence of hu" man passions, together with the infirmities and s contradictions they produce in the conduct of life, “ will find, in this knowlege, a key to the secret " reasons and motives which gave rise to many of “ the most important events of ancient times. A s knowlege also of the manners and opinions of the
persons concerned in the events that are related, “ will contribute much to lead us to the true origin “ of things
There is unquestionably much truth as well as good sense in this account of the qualifications requisite to render an historian instructive and interesting; for it is obvious that he who has merely studied human nature through the inedium of books, not in the society of men, and who has not observed the motives which generally influence human conduct, can never trace events to their causes, or discover the springs of those actions on which perhaps the happiness or misery of millions may depend. But, if this knowlege of human nature be ever employed to counteract the testimony of ancient authors, who were under no conceivable temptation to write falsely; or if the actions of men in one stage of society be traced to the same motives from which similar actions are observed to spring in another stage altogether different, and in many respects the reverse; if, because men are prompted by avarice and ambition to solicit offices which at one period lead to honor and opulence, it be inferred that they must have
b Introduction, sect. xii.