A SERMON OF THE Credibility of the Mysteries OF THE CHRISTIAN RELIGION, Preached before a LEARNED AUDIENCE.

By THO. SMITH, Fellow of St. Mary Magdalen College in Oxon.

LONDON, Printed by Tho. Roycroft, for Ric. Davis Bookseller in Oxford, 1675.


C. Smith R. P. D. Episc. Lond. à Sacris Domest.
Nobilissimo Viro,
Verae ac Solidae Pietatis,
Summae eruditionis,
Instaurandae sanioris Philosophiae,
Optimè de literis tam Sacris quam
Humanioribus merendi
Famâ longè celeberrimo,
Magno aevi Exemplo & Ornamento:
T. S.
Hanc Concionem (unà cum Appendice)
coram Academicis Oxoniensibus,
solenni S. Marci Evangelistae Festo,
In sacello Collegii B. Mariae Magdalenae
Superiori anno habitam,
In debitae observantiae [...],
Lubens merito dedicat consecrátque.


P. 7. l. 10.— [...]. p. 15. l. 13. belief. p. 17. l. 7. the ordin▪ l. 23. ingenious. p. 21. l. 24. for its read his. p. 26. l. 10▪ revealed,. p. 28. l. 15. when. p. 34. l. 14. belongs. p. 42. l. 5. for I, read we▪ p. 45. l. 12▪ the onely. p. 48. l. 24.— [...].

The Appendix refers to Page 47.

A SERMON Preached before a Learned Audience.

1 TIM. III. the former part of the 16. verse.‘—Without Controversie great is the Mystery of Godliness.’

HOW much the Doctrine of Christianity tends to the im­provement of Reason and Learning, how it has brought into the World a better and more certain knowledg of God and of our selves, how it has advanced the common no­tices of nature, and has chased away with the clear evidences of its truth those thick shades [Page 2] of error, that had darkned the understanding, and has removed all those prejudices, that were taken up from sense and a very partial and deceitful observation of things, may be fully demonstrated by comparing the former estate of Mankind, before the coming of Christ in the flesh, with the present, wherever it is received in its truth and power. Men before were led by opinion and conjecture and fancy only, as to matters of Religion and the con­cerns of another World: They had fears up­on them indeed of a divine justice, that would revenge the violation of the law of nature ei­ther here or hereafter; and a reflection upon the strange traverses and difficulties of life had taught them to expect another life after this: but their eyes were dim however, and they could not see far into futurity; they could have no clear deductions of particular truths for want of a right knowledg of true and certain principles: hence it was, that they were so inconstant and wavering, and knew not well where or what to fix on. But Christ by his appearance and manifesting the will of God to us, [...] Tim. 1. 10. hath brought life and immorta­lity [Page 3] to light through the Gospel, and children and persons of an ordinary reach and capacity may now easily apprehend those things, that is, in reference to God and his attributes, the misery we are in by sin, the means of our re­covery from this woful estate of life, the im­mortality of the Soul, and the like; which before those great Philosophers, notwithstanding all their vaunts and quests after learning, not­withstanding they set up Schools and were am­bitious to give names to Sects, had but a very imperfect knowledg of.

But while these truths were received by those, that were willing to be taught, and to submit themselves to the dictates of reason, and convictions of miracles, which were ad­ded to give all possible satisfaction to the un­derstanding, others, who were resolv'd before hand not to be convinced, who had rather remain in their ignorance and idolatry and their sins, then be converted to a new Religion, and reduced to such strictness of life, as that requires, from their debaucheries and brutish pleasures, who had rather fall down before a Statue or a Picture, because their Fathers had [Page 4] done so before them, and because it was the established Religion of their Country, than acknowledg and adore a Crucified Saviour, re­ject it upon the account of the Mysteries of Faith, without ever examining the weight of the arguments, that would have enforced them upon their belief: They could not in the mean while but acknowledg the happy and glorious change, that Christianity had wrought in the World, how much it exceeds and goes beyond all the morality of the wisest and best Lawgi­vers and Founders of Republicks, how it not only laies down rules for the right ordering of life, but furnishes its votaries with a pow­er to practise them; not only shews us a way to walk in, but takes us by the hand and leads us in it: but the difficulties, it seems, that are to be met with in conceiving some of its mysteries, offended them. This was their pretence and their plea for their infidelity; they would have demonstration for every thing, they would be taught and convinced by Syllogism, their Pride and their Self-con­ceit and the opinion they had of their own learning would not permit them to believe. [Page 5] They made their understanding the measure of all truth, and what did not suit with those nar­row and low principles they had taken up, was scornfully rejected by them. The Jews, saies the Apostle, 1 Cor. 1. 22, 23. require a Sign, and the Greeks seek after Wisdom; but we preach Christ cru­cified, unto the Jews a stumbling-block, and to the Greeks foolishness. But how irrational was the demand of both? for what greater sign could there be to the Jews, than the fulfilling of all the Prophesies in the person of Christ, even to the minute circumstances of his life and death, and those mighty miracles that shewed forth themselves in him? what greater wisdom could the Philo­sophers pretend to or desire, than the wisdom of God in a mystery, as it is called, 1 Cor. 11. 7. than those clear discoveries of the divine na­ture and the essential perfections of the God­head, than the admirable contrivances of the re­demption of mankind by the sufferings and death of Christ, the Son of God, than the ways and means of recovering the dignity of our nature, and of living here like men, and of li­ving hereafter like Angels? Such a wisdom, as will not only gratifie our earnest desires and [Page 6] pursuits after knowledg, but will make us hap­py too for ever. Their weak and blear eyes could not endure such a great light that brake in upon them, and therefore they were desirous to retire into the shade. They could not fully conceive and comprehend them, they seemed therefore foolish and impossible notions, that were owing wholly to an ungovern'd imaginati­on. And hereuponThus Eusebius sums them up in general, it being the common argument of the Heathen Philosophers against the Christian religion— [...]. p. 4. Parisiis, A. C. 1628. they proceed to calumniate the Christians as a company of well-meaning and honest and good-natur'd, but very simple and over-credulous people, who took all things upon trust, without enqui­ring into their truth, and certainty; for such were the slanderous accu­sations ofThe words of Celsus, as we find them, in Orig [...]ns first book against that Epicurean Philosopher, are these— [...]. p. [...]. edit. C [...]ntab. In this latter part he al­ludes to S. Pauls words, 1 Cor. 3. 18. which he most horribly and maliciously per­verts, as Origen shews p. 12. He had before, out of his great Philosophical wariness, advised his readers not to take up opi­nions upon trust, without following rea­son and a rational guide, which he im­putes to the Christians, and reckons them among the [...], &c. such as rashly believe juglers and pretenders to Legerdemain tricks, whose credulity and simplicity they aluse to evil designs and in­tents. So in the third book▪ he most falsly accuses the whole body of Christians, [...], as diving away every wise man from the doctrine of faith, and only admitting persons void of under­standing, and of a base and servile temper. p. 121. Celsus, [Page 7] De morte Peregrini, speaking of the Christians, whom he makes a company of idiots, easily cheated— [...]. Lucian, andIn Eusebius, in the confutation of his impious book (which he intitl'd [...]) wherein he compared Apol­lonius of Tyana to our most blessed Savi­our, where he objects to the Christians [...]lightness and ea­siness of nature, p. 512. and calls them— [...]fools and rusiicks. p. 514. edit. Paris: in fine libro­rum de demonstratione Evangelica. Hierocles, and the rest of the learned enemies of the Christian Re­ligion: They upbraided the Christians of their times, with whom they conversed, in their writings and in their discourses, that they received all [...], with an irrational Faith and an hasty assent, past without any examination, that they could bring no proof or demonstrative argument of what they held so pertinaciously, that nothing was required to make a Christian a Believer, as they used to speak by way of Scorn, but [...], an unjudicious and groundless Faith; yes certainly, a good life and a sancti­fied understanding, and an humble opinion of a mans self. But these are but words, and men are not to be laughed and rallied out of their faith and a well-grounded perswasion; there is nothing of argument in scorn and passion; they only shew the weakness of the cause, and [Page 8] want of reason in those, who make use of them.

But now after so many myriads of Con­verts to the Christian Faith, after the attestation and consent of so many ages, who have exa­mined severely the principles, on which it is founded, who would expect that any one should dare now to question the truth of it a­gain, that men who have been baptized into it, should abjure and renounce it, should no longer acknowledg Christ their Saviour, should deny him to be God, or that he had any commis­sion from Heaven to institute a new Religion, should act over the part of the Jews, and ar­raign the Son of God as an impostor, and side with the Heathen Philosophers against Christianity, as a doctrine not to be endured and embraced, and make use of their very arguments for the defence of their infidelity? But we know whence the malice and the infidelity of these Theists proceed; they have abandoned them­selves to a wicked life, they are immersed in sensual pleasures, which they make the only end of life. They are convinced, that Chri­stianity, which is a Doctrine according to Godli­ness [Page 9] is not consistent with such practices, which yet even nature and right reason utterly con­demn.

The Mysteries of Faith do not so much trou­ble these men, as the severity of its commands. These they cannot away with, their lusts help them to arguments against the other, and they content themselves with little pieces of Sophistry, and think to vindicate the ill course of life, they have taken up, this way. Natu­ral conscience and an ordinary reflexion upon the works of nature will not permit them, it may be, to deny a God, though they live, as though there were none: They will acknow­ledg him, it may be too in a good humour, the Creatour of the World, but not the Judg and Governour of it; they look upon themselves, as only born to gratifie their sensual appe­tite; They declare equally for a liberty of living and thinking as they please. They will have no restraint laid upon their understand­ing, or their lives. Christianity is too strict, and therefore too difficult for them; They may have the wit perchance, but not the mo­rality of the Philosophers, whose very lives not­withstanding [Page 10] will condemn them as much as the Christian doctrine▪ Their evil education and custome and prepossession, those great hin­derances of truth, made their refusing Chri­stianity the less inexcusable upon the account of its mysteries, while they acknowledged the rules and institutions of it to be according to the highest reason, and the exaltation of the humane nature, while these men pretend its mysteries to be therefore incredible, because the rules of it, which thwart their lusts so much, are so severe. Little or no good I know is to be done upon these men by perswa­sion or argument, of which they are scarce capable, who turn all things into Burlesque and ridicule: They it seems are too witty (for so they call their boldness and want of judg­ment) either to understand or embrace the principles of Christianity; but their ill lives shew, that were they as clear as the principles of Geometry, so long as a strict and holy life is as necessary and essential to the being of a Christian, as a right and sound faith, they would except and cavil at them, and at last reject them; and if the Gospel be hid, be esteemed [Page 11] after so many clear and undoubted revelati­ons, after such evident proofs and convicti­ons, an obscure and incredible doctrine, it is hid to them that are lost, or rather, [...], in them that are lost; it is only so to such desperate and obstinate wretches, whom reason it self cannot satisfie, in whom the God of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, least the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. 2 Cor. iv. 3, 4.

But these are wild and extravagant per­sons, of debauched understandings and lives, and only to be confuted by the severity of laws; and of the two the Christian religion has suffered more by the secret underminings of Hereticks, than by their bold attaques. These are the more dangerous enemies, who deny the truths and mysteries of it, upon a pre­tence of wariness and caution, and go soberly about to destroy it. But all their objections, how plausible soever, must at last resolve into obstinacy and pride: They fancy things must be, and are, as they would have them, or else [Page 12] they cannot be at all: They vainly suppose themselves able to search into the depths of all divine and humane knowledg, and being once prepossessed with this conceit, they grow pee­vish and angry because the Christian Religion proposes things to their belief, which they cannot grasp, and are too big for their under­standing; and rather than forego this be­loved Principle, they will destroy the Funda­mentals of Christianity, and to apply that of In Apologetico cap. 5. where he men­tions an old decree of the Ron an Senate, Ne qui Deus ab Imperatore consecraretur, [...] à Senatu prebatus; and hereupon he tells us, that the Emperor Tiberius mov­ed by the report of those [mighty] works, which declared the truth of our Saviours Divinity, he received out of Pa­l [...]stine, detulit ad Senatum cum praerogativa suffrag [...]i sui; though the Senate were not disposed to admit him into the number. Tertullian to them, nisi ho­mini Deusplacuerit, Deus non erit, homo jam Deo propitius esse debebit: Christ shall not be God, nor satisfie the divine justice for the sins of man­kind, because this seems incongruous to them; it is a difficulty, that doth puzzle their un­derstanding; it is above the strength of their fancy; their reason, they say, tells them, this cannot be; allowing of no such thing as faith, which is the great duty of the Gospel, and for­getting, that Christianity is, as it is undoubt­edly, the great mystery of Godliness.

Thus under a pretence of clearing the truth [Page 13] of Religion, and making it the more easily in­telligible, to Turks and Jews, they resist it in the true notion of it, and corrupt and destroy it; to whom fully agrees that character, which St. Paul gave of the followers of Simon Magus, 2 Tim. iii. 8. [...], men of corrupt minds, and reprobate concerning the faith; such whose understandings are wholly vitiated and perverted, notwithstan­ding the great and fierce claims they laid to knowledg, as if they were the only men, that understood the will and mind of God; such who reject the establish'd truths of the Gospel, who have no regard to the heavenly doctrine of the E­vangelists and Apostles, the truth of which they sealed and confirmed with their blood; but do [...] [...] to use the words of St. [...]: ex editione Re­verendissimi Usserii Armachani, p 20. This perchance more particularly respects Marcion the heretick; for by that name he called him to his face: as we read in Irenaeus 3. lib. adv. haereses, cap. 3. Polycarp in his Epistle to the Philip­pians, that is, by their frau­dulent devices model the oracles of God according to their own fancies and lusts; who set up a new Religion, which the Catholick Church of Christ never knew or was [Page 14] acquainted with, and endeavour to destroy the faith of Christianity, and think in the mean while they have reason on their side for so do­ing: and how far by their arts and subtilties and plausible insinuations, by this their slight and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive (for it is nothing else, however blancht over and disguised with shews of sober reason) they have prevail'd upon this Age, is too sad to consider; so that now it chiefly concerns us to secure the ground-work, the principles of the do­ctrine of Christ, and to oppose this growing evil, to watch and stand fast in the faith, and quit our selves like men, and not to be like children, carried away with every blast and wind of doctrine, and es­pecially of the vain doctrine of Socinus, as it will appear, when the varnish and false colours are washt of, but to be establisht in the truth of the holy Gospel, as the Church hath taught us to pray in the Collect of this anniversary of St. Mark.

To evince therefore the unreasonableness of their pretensions, I shall endeavour in the fol­lowing discourse to make out these two parti­culars.

1. That the great mysteries of Religion can­not, [Page 15] and ought not to be any way prejudi­cial to the truth of it.

2. That the Christian Religion requires us to believe these mysteries, upon such grounds, as we cannot reject, without do­ing violence to our faculties, and conse­quently, that the rejecting and disbelieving them must be unreasonable.

1. The great mysteries of Religion can­not and ought not to be any way prejudici­al to its truth.

They who find fault with Christianity for proposing such great mysteries to our beliefs, and would have all things so plain and obvious, that they should command and force assent, should first trie their reason in solving the dif­ficulties of nature; and if notwithstanding all their labour and toil, after the most accurate researches into the nature of sensible beings, of things that we daily see and handle, of things that seem to lie level with our understanding, and are no way disproportionable to it, they cannot pretend to a perfect knowledg of them, if the ordinary operations of nature be so ab­struse, and unintelligible, and these depths are [Page 16] not to be fathomed, if her secrets are beyond the discovery of the most piercing judgment and reason; Religion with greater reason must be allowed to have its mysteries; there being such a vast disproportion between things rela­ting to God and his nature, and the things of the world. The contemplation of nature is curious and useful; it is a part of the service and worship we owe to God the Creatour, to admire his wisdom and power in the beautiful frame and order of things, which is best done by enquiring into their natures and properties, into their powers and operations and qualities, by examining the curious contexture and the fitness and usefulness of their parts, and there is nothing in the whole universe, but deserves to be considered, and very much conduces to this end.

This is the business of Philosophy, and what contemplative minds labour in the search of, to discover and make out how things were at first made, and are still continued in their be­ing, and to find out their peculiar virtues, whereby they produce such a variety of effects, and how they may be altered or improved for [Page 17] the farther use and benefit of mankind. No­thing of which can be effected, at least but very imperfectly, and in a way scarce tolera­ble, by acquiescing in general observations, de­rived from weak and slight notices, without descending to severe trials and experiments, or by relying upon the principles of ordinary Phi­losophy, that are confessedly unintelligible, and which instead of explaining nature, do but perplex and confound the understanding, and which have nothing to maintain and keep up their credit, but the authority of a name and the immoderate love of antiquity. But what­ever hypothesis we fix upon, they who have the deepest insight into nature will be forced to confess, they see but a little way, and all that they can pretend to is but conjecture and pro­bability, that when they may seem to arrive at some satisfaction in the order and connexion of things, it is very possible and likely, that things may be made and exert their causalities otherwise, than they suppose, be their fancy never so ingenuous, and their reason never so profound and strong (for who will be so pre­sumptuous, as to limit either the wisdom or [Page 18] power of God, that he can do no more, or must do what they fancy?) that there are thou­sands of things, that they cannot give any sa­tisfactory account of, and that the more they seek to comprehend the reason of things, the more they are at a loss, the more they are dis­satisfied, and the effect of their study is no­thing but disorder and trouble of mind.

Now if we are convinced of the weakness and insufficiency of our reason in our ordina­ry speculations, if it fails us, when we attempt to give an account of our selves, and the ope­ration of our minds, and when we have to do with plain matters of sense, how unfit and un­able must it be to comprehend and make out things, that stand at that infinite distance from it, to which it bears no proportion? They may as well pretend that all these great diffi­culties and perplexities, we meet with in the conceptions of things, should be taken away, that all men ought to be born compleat Philo­sophers, and be inspir'd with the perfect know­ledg of things, which they cannot attain to af­ter several years, spent in labour and study, that nothing should exist, but what we can con­ceive, [Page 19] and that the truth and possibility of things should not derive from the will and pleasure of God, and from that Idea he has in his divine understanding, but only take their measures, and be judged by those narrow con­ceptions, we borrow from sense. Men are not to be disputed out of the belief of their senses, that there is no such thing as motion, or con­tinuity of parts in extended matter, because of the great difficulties, that attend the concepti­on of them, and things are daily produced and by degrees arrive at the perfection of their be­ing, and perform actions suitable to their re­spective natures, though Philosophers disagree in their opinions, and are dissatisfied one with a­nother, and cannot tell how or in what manner they do all this.

2. Thus Nature has its Mysteries; and who will undertake to explain Secondly, the Mysteries of Providence, and account for all those extraordi­nary events, which have hapned in all ages of the world; O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and power of God! how unsearchable are his Judgments, and his wayes past finding out! Rom. xi. 33. It is presumption to enquire too [Page 20] busily into the ends and reasons of God's pro­ceedings with men, as well as impiety to find fault with them. This should satisfie us, that God, who is of infinite perfection, neither does nor can do any thing, that is unjust; that he governs the World by an infinite wisdom, that he permits men to act according to the liberty of their will; and that they stand accountable to him for the actions of their lives; and that they are but his instruments to bring about his eternal purposes and decrees; and that nothing comes to pass without his ordering or foresight; and that all those cross dispensations are for wise ends, best known to himself. Why things are thus, for instance, why the Jews were sele­cted by him to be his peculiar people; why the coming of the Messias in the flesh was de­ferred so long; why so many Heathen Nations lie yet unconverted, and the like, must be re­ferred wholly to his divine will and pleasure, which is guided by rules of eternal rectitude and wisdom. Let it abundantly content us in all changes and chances of this mortal life, in all those distinguishing acts of Providence, that are every where visible between Nation [Page 21] and Nation, or between man and man in re­spect of the outward conditions and states of being, that God will have it so. God is wonder­ful in his doings with the children of men. These things call for our admiration: They are se­crets not to be enquired into; which way so­ever we look, whether up to heaven, or down upon the earth and sea, and observe what is done in each, or whether we turn our eyes in­ward, we shall find our selves surrounded with wonders, too great for our knowledg, and e­nough to baffle and confound our curiosity, and to convince us, that there is as well an in­finite distance between God and us, in respect of wisdom, as of power. Now would these men have the state of things altered and chan­ged, and the world new modelled, and new laws given to mankind, and a new nature too, and all things reduced to an easier order, and re­gulated by their fancies, that so nothing may be above their capacity and understanding? What is this, but the effect of a foolish pride, that is discontented and troubled, that so many things are out of his reach and power, and that will scarce be brought to acknowledg, that God [Page 22] can do, more than they fancy or comprehend?

3. Besides, those who object against the insti­tuted religion of our Saviour, the greatness of its mysteries, may use the same arguments against the principles of natural religion. That there is an infinite being, in whose Idea is essentially in­cluded all possible perfection, is the voice and dictate of nature, right reason, and conscience, and evidenced by the constant and uninterrup­ted order and course and frame of the universe, and by the universal consent of mankind, who have rites and ceremonies of religion, their Priests and their Sacrifices, to whom they offer up prayers and oblations, to whom they ap­peal for justice when injured, and to whom they flie for refuge and succour, when they are distressed and in danger, as it were by in­stinct, and without any deliberation. But notwithstanding this evidence and clearness and demonstration of the existence of a God, they will not pretend to understand fully the nature of the Godhead. That God is infinite in essence and power, and that all things owe their being to his will, they must be forced to confess, or else deny his being, and fancy an [Page 23] infinite series of causes, infinite periods of mo­tions, and an infinite succession of generations, which is absurd and contradictious and im­possible, though they have only a negative no­tion of infinity. Our understandings can­not reach so far, as to have a compleat and comprehensive notion of it▪ and when we can­not give satisfactory accounts concerning the affections of a natural body, as motion, place, time; much less can it be expected, that we should do this concerning eternity, immensity, or the other necessary and essential attributes of God: so that the difficulty of conceiving a thing does not any way hinder the truth and possibility of its existence. However the most scrupulous and inquisitive may be satisfied, that there are such attributes, and that conse­quently upon a reflection, not only on the na­ture of God, but on the scant measures of know­ledg in creatures, it is necessary, they should be above our reach and comprehension. As we may discover much in a curious piece of art, or wonder of nature, as the Load-stone, or any Electrical body: we may find out some virtue in a plant, or mineral, or peculiar sort [Page 24] of earth; and yet oftentimes after a labori­ous search, the best Naturalists are forced to confess, that there is or may be at least a great deal more, than what they have disco­vered.

But here, they say, that the understanding neither does nor can admit of any thing incre­dible; and we say so too. God doth not, and consequently the Christian Religion, which is the doctrine and revelation of God, does not propose any thing to us, as the object of our faith, that is really impossible in it self, and involves in it a perfect and manifest contra­diction; and nothing less can or ought to be judged incredible. But when they pretend, that no proposition ought or can be believed farther, than it may be cleared up to the un­derstanding by the evidence of natural rea­son, or of the things themselves contained in it, we reject it as an unjust and unreasonable demand, which will fully appear by shewing the falseness of both parts of the supposi­tion.

1. It is utterly false, that nothing is credi­ble, but what can be proved and made out by [Page 25] reason. There are indeed several degrees of credibility, according to which the mind does admit some things with a greater ease and free­ness than others. But however be the matter proposed never so unlikely or unusual, if the authority be just and good, it must not there­fore be pronounced incredible, because per­chance it is not fully agreeable to the present state of affairs and practice of the World, or because I have some little prejudice against it. For as in a matter of fact, where there are suf­ficient proofs given of a Relators both honesty and knowledg, when I have all the assurance in the World, that such a matter is capable of, and that he could not mistake in understanding it, and that his words and thoughts do not in the least disagree, when I can object nothing but a groundless surmise, that possibly, and for ought I know, it may be otherwise, this will challenge my assent, and be a sufficient warrant to me to believe it, whether I have a clear Idea of it or no: for this unlikeliness and seeming repugnancy of it, may arise from my being ig­norant of several circumstances, the knowledg of which would render it probable and easie: [Page 26] so is it in matter of Doctrine; whatsoever is proposed by God, becomes thereby immedi­ately credible, and my assent is rational and just, though the thing be above my apprehen­sion; and this I must ascribe to the greatness of the object, and the imperfections of my rea­son, which neither is nor can pretend to be an arbiter and judge in such matters, which are too high for it: so that before a man can safely pro­nounce a doctrine, that is revealed, incredible, and reject it as such, he must question the pow­er and veracity of God, and maintain, that no­thing is possible, but what we can comprehend; and thus under a pretence of caution, betray the greatest immodesty in the world, when he himself believes several other things, upon the bare testimony of men, which neither his wit nor curiosity, nor his reason can ever be able satisfactorily to make out and demonstrate.

2. It is equally false, that no Proposition ought to be believed, but what may be cleared up to the understanding by the evidence of the things themselves. The falseness of which as­sertion I shall fully evince in these three parti­culars; by shewing

[Page 27] 1. That it destroyes the nature Faith.

2. It takes away the blessedness and re­wardableness annext to it.

3. It reflects on the Wisdom and Sove­raignty of God, who may, if it pleases him, propose such things to us, and command us to believe them.

1. It destroyes the nature of Faith. To believe in general, in the proper notion of it, is to assent to things upon the discovery and attestation of others, which are not evident and apparent of themselves; that is, when I have no demonstrative or sensible knowledg of things, I admit and judge them to be true, not because I either saw them, and can assure my self of them by any of my other senses, or be­cause they are so evident to my reason, that I must needs embrace them, as a principle or conclusion in Philosophy, but because I have received them from another, who informs me and gives me this account of them, for whose sake I assent to them as real and certain. By which it is distinguished from science, which is grounded upon the evidence and clearness of [Page 28] the apprehension of the respective propo­sitions or objects, when things are so plain that they do necessitate our assent, as that the opposite members of a true and per­fect contradiction cannot belong to the same thing at the same time, that equals added to equals make equals, that in a triangle, three angles are always equal to two right angles, and the like. And the like assu­rance and certainty of knowledg is gained, when we draw conclusions according to rule and the laws of method from first prin­ciples, which are assented to, assoon as they are proposed, and the terms understood; whence there is an immediate dependance and connexion of things, and one thing na­turally follows another; Then we are said to know a thing, when we can run it up to its first principles, can trace its original and cause, and understand its effects and opera­tions.

This distinction being so just and natural, to call for evidence and demonstration in things proposed to be believed, is to confound different assents of the mind, to turn Religion [Page 29] into Science, to destroy the truth of History, and Tradition, and Revelation, and to fall into Scepticism, and doubt whether any thing be cer­tain, but what we see and can prove and represent by a Scheme, and at last questi­on whether our Sense, and what we call our Reason do not deceive us, or else, which is the effect of a greater phrensie, run our selves into this gross absurdity, that we are as wise as God, and that he can do no more, than what our gross fancies will have him.

That then some of the grand articles of Religion are not so clear, as Propositions in Metaphysicks or Theorems in Geometry, or in­deed are not clear at all, cannot be objected against their credibility. They are in them­selves as certain and as infallible; nay more certain and more infallible, if infallibility may be supposed to admit of degrees; but in reason, it cannot be expected, our knowledg of them should be as explicit and as clear: Supernatural Truths are not, can­not be determined or judged of by proofs, derived from nature or sense; they have pro­per [Page 30] proofs of their own, as all other arts and sciences have.

To judge of these things therefore by our narrow conceptions, is a most false and un­warrantable way of procedure; and indeed it cannot seem strange, that so much Error and Blasphemy and all that direful train of He­resies, in matters relating to God and Reli­gion, which have so much disturb'd the peace of Christendome, should spring from this one absurd and corrupt principle. Hence it was also, thatSee the excellent discourse of Plato about this subject, toward the lat­ter end of his second book de Republica, p. 377. &c. lomi secundi ex editione Ser­rani. Orpheus, and the other Greek Poets have dres­sed up their Gods in the ha­bit and figure of men, and cloathed them with all the infirmities and pas­sions incident to humane nature, and hereby made way for all the debaucheries and super­stitions, that lust could possibly suggest, or a troubled fancy invent. They made use of no other faculty to judg of God, but a gross ima­gination; In his Epistle to Herodotus, as it is extant in Diogenes Laertius [...]. edit. Londinensis p. 285.—This he establisht as one of his [...], or main principles of his Philosophy, [...], p. 300. and laid down therefore in the first place by his great admirer and follower Lucretius in the beginning of his philoso­phical Poem, to make the better way for the Atheism, which was to follow, that is, to exclude God, with a fairer pretence, from having any thing to do, either with the framing or governing of the world, and to deny a providence: that censure, which Cotta in Tully mentions to have bin past upon him by several, being ex­actly true—Video non [...]ullis videri Epi­curum, ne in offensionem Atheniensium ca­deret, verbis reliquisse Deos, re sustulisse. lib. 1. de Nat. Deorum, speaking of this very Atheistical afhorism. Epicurus upon this very slight pretence ex­cluded God from having any thing to do in the ordering [Page 31] and governing of the world, because he fancied, this could not be done without anxiety and trouble, like the due management of a great charge or employ­ment, which takes up ones whole time, and requires contrivance and study and foresight to keep things in an equal poise, to prevent dis­orders, to apply remedies to the least inconveniences, that otherwise might quickly grow and improve into a mis­chief, and to secure all by an equal distributi­on of rewards and punishments; forgetting that God's power is infinite and inexhaustible; that his eyes reach from one end of the world to the o­ther, and see into the very essences of things; that all things are at his absolute disposal and command; that trouble only arises either from fear of success, or when we are overwhelm'd with business, or our strength is not propor­tionable or any way sufficient to sustain so great a weight. Aetius presently rejects the eter­nal [Page 30] [...] [Page 31] [...] [Page 32] generation of the Son of God, because this does not in all things agree with natural generati­ons; and because it cannot be so with men, he impiously and dogmatically concludes, it is an impossible notion, and thinks he has reason for his blasphemy and peremptoriness, by lay­ing down seven and forty arguments for it, as they are numbred and confuted byIn haeresi A­n [...]maeorum, quae est LXXVI. Epipha­nius in his Panarium. The same gross fancies have the Mahometans of this article of faith to this day, who deride the Christians, by asking impious questions concerning it, and even in their Devotion renounce it with a great deal of earnestness, with a far be it from thee, what the Christians impute to thee; as if man were the measure and standard of all things, even of God himself, who made him, and who is of infinite perfection, beyond the utmost reach of fancy, or conception. His actions and understanding must needs as much transcend ours, as does his essence. His ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts as our thoughts. Isa. lv. 8.

2. This Hypothesis of theirs, that nothing is or ought to be believ'd but what is cleared up to the understanding by the evidence of the [Page 33] things themselves, does wholly take away the Blessedness and Rewardableness annext to Faith.

One necessary condition to make any acti­on capable of reward or commendation is, that it flow from a principle of liberty; and herein man, who is endowed with reason, the only true foundation of it, has the preeminence above all other creatures, that act only by in­stinct, or the force of appetite, or by necessity ofPrincipio­rum Philoso­phiae parte primâ, sect. XXXVII. Nature; He becomes hereby as it were Lord of himself, and can act or not act, accor­ding as he is guided by counsel and rational motives, or meerly as it pleaseth him; and ac­cording either to the right or ill use of this li­berty, he is to be judg'd, whether he has deser­ved well or no. That Chrystals shoot out in­to curious and exactly regular figures, that the flakes of Snow are Hexagonal, and ten thousand other Rarities of Nature, are not to the com­mendation of the things themselves: They shew admirably the wisdom of the first contri­ver of them: the Artist, not the Pendulum, is praised, though it measures time so exactly, and performs all its various motions without any interruption or inequality, because this necess­sarily [Page 34] arises from a due proportion of weights and wheels, and from a just adaptation of the several parts of it; 'tis the perfection of a man, that he acts freely, and consequently that he is virtuous out of choice, notwithstanding all the allurements and inclinations of sense. And the like is to be said of the several assents of the mind; if the truths of Religion were in them­selves so clear and evident, that we could not but assent, whether we would or no, if they could be prov'd by arguments, deriv'd from sense or nature, where then would be the bles­sedness of Faith our Saviour speaks of,Joh. 20. 29. which be­long to those, who have not seen, and yet have be­lieved? when we have a clear and distinct per­ception of a thing, then we know it; and he must be very stupid and very pertinacious, that [...]ill not submit to the truth, and evidence, and conviction of a demonstration. How ri­diculous would it be to raise a dispute, and heap up arguments against clear evidence, and pretend dissatisfaction in the midst of so great certainty, as science affords? If there were no difficulty in the notions, where were that Obe­dience of Faith, the Apostle St. Paul mentions? [Page 35] where would be our submission and humility? for a trial of which I am perswaded, that many Mysteries are now proposed by God, which here­after as a reward of our Faith shall be more clearly made out to us, and that this shall be one principal part of the glory that shall at­tend the blessed in the other world, when we shall be divested of those circumstances, that now hinder the exertions of Reason, when our understandings shall be enlightned, and our capacities enlarged, and our thoughts heighte­ned and exalted; not that it is possible for the most refined and raised intellect ever to attain to a full and comprehensive knowledg of them (for the Angels, those glorious spirits, who at­tend the throne, and are continually in the pre­sence of God, humbly vail their faces and a­dore) but that what we now know by Faith and Revelation only, we shall have a somewhat clea­rer insight into, and be as fully and satisfacto­rily convinced of, as for instance, that there is a Trinity of Persons in one undivided Essence, as if we understood the manner of their several sub­sistences.

3. It reflects upon the Wisdom and Power [Page 36] of God, who may, if he please, propose these things to us and command us to believe them. For that God may do this, who can question? or deny, that we are as much obliged to give up our judgments and understandings, as our wills, to his will, to assent to any speculation or truth of doctrine revealed by him, as to any mode of instituted worship commanded by him, or any precept of Morality; and that I am not to object and throw in my little con­jectures and probabilities, because it is not al­together, or in the least, evident to my reason, when the nature of the thing renders it impossi­ble that it should, or if it did not, yet his com­mand should be enough to force my assent? now to fancy, that nothing is or ought to be credible, but what can be made out and clea­red up to the understanding by the evidence of the things themselves, destroyes this suppo­sition, which has its certainty from, and is sup­ported by, several of the divine attributes. The Wisdom and Power of God are both infinite, and therefore he knows more, and can do more, than what we possibly can conceive: otherwise we must equal our little knowledg, which we [Page 37] chiefly derive from the images and represen­tations of things in our minds, and which every contemptible insect and vegetable is too big for, with his; and upon the same account, we must fancy our power equal too: which is the effect of an irrational pride and madness, like that of the Apostate Angels, and by conse­quence, throw off our dependence upon him, and deny to yield obedience to his laws, be­cause they do as much cross our vitious and corrupt inclinations, as the Mysteries of our Faith do our narrow conceptions and senti­ments. An infinite understanding only can fully comprehend an infinite perfection; such a proportion between the faculty and the ob­ject being altogether necessary: for if it could be comprehended by a finite intellect, it would immediately cease to be infinite. How insuffe­rable then is such an insolence! How vain and foolish are such imaginations! and every high thing, as the Apostle speaks, extravagant fancies and conceits, that get into the brain, that exalt themselves against the knowledg of God, which ought to be captivated and made subject upon the highest Reason in the World to the obedi­ence [Page 38] and doctrine of Christ: which will appear by descending to the

2. Second Particular, I proposed to make good, that the Christian Religion requires us to believe its Mysteries upon such grounds, as we cannot reject without doing violence to our fa­culties, and consequently, that the rejecting and disbelieving them must be unreasonable.

Now the grounds are chiefly these two.

1. That we believe and admit the divine Revelations.

2. That we yield obedience and submit our understandings and all the powers of our minds to the Will of God.

1. That we believe and admit divine Re­velations; because God is of infinite veracity, and to deceive is repugnant to the holiness of his Nature; there is an utter impossibility in it. Now if we repose so much trust and confidence in a friend, because we have tried him, and know that he is a man of great integrity, and that he abhors the very thought of deceiving any one with the least falsehood, and speaks exactly according to his knowledg without any reserved or secret meaning or equivocation, or [Page 39] concealing part of the proposition in his mind that it may be otherwise understood than he in­tends it; much more with all the readiness of submission of mind imaginable are we to re­ceive, whatever comes from God, without the least demur, or doubt, or contradiction. This an infinite and eternal rectitude does justly challenge from us; for God may assoon deny his being, as falsifie his word; so that whoe­ver goes about to question or disbelieve any thing that God has revealed, will run himself upon one of these two gross and absurd impi­eties, either doubt whether God himself has an exact and perfect knowledg of those things, he has propos'd to our belief, or whether he has been just and true to deliver what he knows. It is a most rational conclusion of St. John 1 Epist. v. 10. he that believeth not God, has made him a lyar. No difficulty then can or ought to deter me from the belief of a thing, if God has once revealed it; nor can the mind of man possibly desire a greater satisfaction than this.

2. That we yield obedience and submit our understandings and all the powers of our minds to the will of God, for

[Page 40] 1. That there are thousands of things de facto above our knowledg and conception can­not be deemed by any, without the highest immodesty, an unjust postulatum.

2. That all or at least most of our knowledg deriving from sense, the more things are freed and abstracted from the entanglements of gross matter, the more difficult is the conception; because they fall less under the examination of our senses, from which we receive so great pre­judices in our infancy and childhood, which make that deep impression on our fancies, that they are not easily to be removed.

3. God by virtue of his absolute dominion and soveraignty may command us to assent to things above our reach, and conception, and knowledg. Faith is not to choose its Object, no more than a mans will can prescribe and set to him a Law, because its whole and only power consists in the liberty of obeying or not obeying of a Law prescrib'd by a superiour Power. Whatsoever Doctrine therefore is delivered and revealed by God, becomes im­mediately credible, by reason of the authority, that does accompany it, and enforce it upon [Page 41] us. The Articles of Faith carry along with them sufficient motives of Credibility, but then these motives must not be fetched from the na­ture of the things themselves, as if they were to be so evident, that our Reason might fully dis­cover their connexion and dependance, but from without; that is, my Faith is rightly grounded, and an obligation lies upon me to believe, what is proposed by God, if it be evi­denced so to be, by just and rational proofs; and if the authority be certain and infallible: God therefore declaring his Will, and confirm­ing the Revelations he has made of it by his di­vine Power, this latter is a sufficient proof, and a just and rational ground of my Belief; for how absurd would it be for any one, because he cannot comprehend and make out a thing fully, which in the nature of it, and by reason of our weakness and incapacity, is incompre­hensible, and which he ought to acknowledg to be such, unless he will presume to measure E­ternity and grasp Infinity with a span, therefore to doubt of so plain a truth, as this is, that the divine Power cannot be made use of to confirm any Proposition, but what is exactly true and cer­tain? [Page 42] so that this is not to forego our Reason, as the Socinians plead, for nothing is more agreea­ble to the principles of right Reason, but to act according to it: and therefore to say that we Believe I know not what, if they mean, that the objects of our Faith cannot be proved to exist with the same kinds of proofs, as what is pre­sented to our senses, or as a propriety may be demonstrated of the subject of a speculative Science, this cannot be any prejudice at all to our belief, because in all Faith, whether Humane or Divine, there cannot be the same clearness and evidence, but that there are such Objects of our Faith we are as certainly assured, as if we had a particular demonstration of each.

Now that the Mysteries of Christianity are con­firm'd by such an authority, and therefore are to be believed by us, and consequently that the Christian Religion requires our assent to no more, than what is apparent to be God's Will, we have this assurance, that they were attested and made good by the miracles of our Saviour; by these he proved his Commission to be deriv'd from Heaven. This was the belief of the Jews in ge­neral, both Learned and Unlearned▪ Nicodemus [Page 43] was fully convinced of the truth and evidence of it, Joh. iii. 2. Rabbi, we know, that thou art a Teacher come from God, for no man can do those mi­racles, that thou dost, except God be with him. In the case of the blind man, who was restored to his sight, the doubt was rational, How can a man, that is a sinner do such miracles? Joh. ix▪ 16. If this man were not of God, he could do nothing, v. 33. that is, he could not do such things, as are a­bove the power of a meer Man, which we see him do. It was nothing, but a most unjust pre­judice to our Saviours Person, and to the mean­ness of his Birth and Parentage, arising from a false principle concerning the temporal King­dom of the Messias, through a misunderstand­ing of the Prophesies, that made them, against their Belief and Conscience, reject the authori­ty of so many evident and often repeated mi­racles; and though they would not acknowledg him for their Messias, that came in a way of hu­mility and meekness, so opposite to their hu­mours and expectations, who thought of no­thing, but triumphs and revenge; yet they are forced to acknowledg, that the Messias could not do greater; and lastly our blessed Saviour appeals [Page 44] to miracles, as to his credentials, as being a most rational motive to work faith in the minds of the most scrupulous; if ye believe not me, be­lieve the works that I do. This then is a suffici­ent confirmation of our Saviours mission, and of the doctrine He and the Apostles delivered from him, and preach'd through the several parts of the World, which they travelled, and after put in writing for the benefit and greater satisfaction of all succeeding Generations. Nor are we now at this great distance of time to call for new signs from Heaven, or to desire a farther confirmation of what hath been received so u­niversally for so many successions of Ages. The holy Scriptures are the authentick Registers of the Doctrine and Revelations of God, and that I may add this by the way, were they but of humane authority, they deserved not to be drolled upon, but to be treated with an equal, if not a greater, respect, than Polybius, or Livy, not only upon the account of their Antiquity, but for those excellent remarks they contain, and the Theists of our Age may as well doubt, whether there were such a man as Cyrus and Alexander, as Moses and Joshua, and question [Page 45] whether Cicero wrote those Orations, and the other excellent Books, that go under his name, or Virgil those admired Poems, as whether St. Mathew or St. John, who were the known Disciples of Christ, and conversed daily with him for above three years together, wrote those Gospels, which contain the History and Acts of his Life and Death.

Upon these evidences our assent is raised, which make it rational and just; our Faith is resolv'd into the testimony of God, which is on­ly the rule of it, we believe nothing, but what our Saviour and his Apostles taught, for which we have the authority of their words, and what the whole number of Christian People embra­ced and received, as the just and true meaning of them. Now because we cannot reconcile these express and clear Revelations of the Go­spel, laid down in plain expressions, as that Christ is the son of God, was in the beginning with God, before the world was made, God manifested in the flesh, God blessed for ever, and that he and the father are one (not to descend to the other Arti­cles, which are laid down as clearly) with our narrow conceptions of things, is most irratio­nally [Page 46] to conclude against God in favour of our selves, meerly for this only reason, because we cannot tell or understand, how it can or should be, when he hath told us expresly it is so. Here­upon they heap up strange and absurd inter­pretations of Scripture, and which are impossi­ble to be true; they deny to words their pro­per, and natural and genuine significations; they fancy nothing but improprieties and am­biguities of expression; and admit of absurd notions for all their high vaunts and pretences to reason, which destroy the very design and institution of Christianity. Thus our most blessed Saviour, the only begotten son of God must be only so [...], or [...], God only by grace and favour, and for the holiness and excellence of his life, as [...]. Epiphanius in haeresi Ebionaeoru [...] q [...]ae est XXX. sect. XVIII, ex edit. Pet [...]vi [...]. Peris [...]is 1622. pag. 142. Ebion, andEpiphanius in haeresi A [...]i [...]ncrum, quae est LXIX. sect. XVIII. p. 741. Arius, andGregorius Abulpharagius, in histo­riâ Dynastiarum, Arabicè, p. 129. edit. Oxon. 1663. Eu [...]ychius in Annalibus Alex­andrinis Arabicè, edit. Oxon. parte pri­má p. 397. & 441. Paulus Samosatenus used to blas­pheme of old, or Deus Fa­ctus, a Created God only, such by Designation and Office, as our modern Socinians impi­ously distinguish, when, not only the name, but the essential Attributes of [Page 47] the Godhead are ascribed to him. Thus the Do­ctrine of the Ever blessed Trinity, which is clearly contain'd in the form ofThis argument drawn from the Form of Baptism, is generally made use of by all the antient Fathers, against the blasphemy of Sabellius, Arius, and the rest of the Hereticks, who had depart­ed from the true faith, establisht at first, to follow phansies and inventions of their own. But reserving these nu­merous citations for another work, I shall content my self at present to say with the Author of the Breviarium fidei adversus Arianos, who lived above 1200 years since, put out by the most learned Sirmondus, to whom the world is so much obliged, for his publishing several wri­tings of the antients, out of MSS.—Qui [Spiritus sanctus] si Deus non esset, non in baptismo in uno nomine Deitatis patris & filio sociaretur, sicut scriptum est, ubi regulam baptismi posuit ipse Dominus: Ite, inquit, baptizate omnes gentes in nomine Patris, & Filii, & Spiritus Sancti. Quod solum testimonium deberet haereticis sufficere ad credulitatem insiparabilis Trinitatis, quia nec ipse audent aliter baptizare, ne regulant Domini corrumpere videartur. Et ubi unum nomen dicitur, ibi & mejor & miner ex­cluditur. Baptism, as might fully be made good against the ex­ceptions and cavils of Wol­sogenius, and in St. Joh. v. 7. (a Of this see the Appendix. Verse written by the same hand that wrote all the rest of the Epistle, as it is most evident from the verses in conjunction with it, which would be altogether defective and imperfect without it, however it be omitted in the Alexandrine Manuscript, rather by chance (for that is not the only omission in that Copy) than design, as if it had favoured the Heresie of the Antitrinita­rians;) this Doctrine of the Trinity, I say, must be exploded, because they cannot satisfie their bold curiosity, as why the emanation of the Deity stops at three Hypostases, that is, why the Divine Essence is not communicated to more than Three Persons, and how it can be Commu­nicated, [Page 48] and yet altogether remain Vndivided, and the like. That this Article was explicitly believed in the very beginnings of Christianity, may, to omit at present other wayes of proofs, be evinced hence, that the Heathens of those times used to upbraid the Christians with the belief of so unlikely a Doctrine. Thus Critias in the Dialogue Philopatris (which if not Lu­cians, was written however in Trajan's time, whose victories and successes in the East, and particularly in the taking of Ctesiphon and Ba­bylon and other places from the Persians, and in repressing the incursions of the Scythians, as hapning just at that time, are there mentioned) when Triephon had expressed the belief and sense of the Christians about this Article, by ad­juring [...], makes a mock at it, and replies with a great deal of impudent raillery, [...]. [Page 49] So far is that from having the least truth in it, which the Enemies and Opposers of this Doctrine affirm, without the least shew of Reason and Authority, that it derives whol­ly from Pythagoras and Plato, and was learn­ed in their Schools, and afterwards drest up by the Fathers, who were admirers of that Philosophy, and not heard of till the Third or Fourth Century. So that upon the whole it will appear, that the Christian Religion has just and sure evidences, and therefore to fancy, which is the only thing they can alledge in behalf of their Unbelief, that nothing is or can be believed, but what ought to be fully comprehended by the Understanding, is so foolish, so unjust, so unreasonable a thing, that nothing but intolerable Pride and Ob­stinacy can possibly suggest such a Thought, and consequently that before any one can become an Arrian or a Socinian, he must fore­go his Reason, and forget that God is of in­finite Perfection, and forget too, that he himself is a Man.

To draw towards a Period. Christianity be­ing a Great Mystery, and necessarily such:

[Page 50] It is but a natural inference, that all our enquiries into the Articles of it be sober and modest; that we expect not a comprehensive knowledg of them; that we be not too busie and curious in our Searches into the Secrets of God; that being conscious to our selves of the defects, and shallowness, and weakness of our Reason in lesser matters; how imper­fect and untrue oftentimes our collections are of sensible beings, to which our faculties may seem proportionate; and to what errors and delusions we are subject, by taking up false notions, by fancy and prejudice; we learn to be wise unto sobriety, and not to think of our selves, above what we ought to think. It was nothing at first, but an overbold curiosity, not content with Revelation, and with just proofs of it, that raised in the mind thoughts of Disbelief; but it stopt not here; it soon improved into a proud conceit of mastering all the difficulties of Religion by the strength of Reason; and to this we may justly impute the original and growth of all those Heresies and Blasphemies, that have been vented from the very first Preaching of the Gospel to this [Page 51] day. It is a vain thing to think to do this; 'tis a passing beyond the bounds which God and our own Nature hath set us; a piece of Sacrilegious rashness, as Salvian justly words it, in his third Book De Gubernatione Dei, speaking of the various dispensations of Pro­vidence: Hoc ipsum genus quasi Sacrilegae teme­ritatis est, si plus scire cupias quàm sinaris: The Articles of Faith, as they are not to be tried, so neither to be proved by the Principles of Mathematicks or Natural Philosophy. It is as great folly to attempt it, as to expect it, both arising from a wantonness of Wit, which quickly looses it self in a Labyrinth of wild Opinions, and pleasing it self with new No­tions and Ideas, is more and more perplext and entangled, and is scarce ever reducible to a right and sober temper.

What ill success the Schoolmen have had in their attempts this way upon the Articles of Religion, Christendome has long since had sad experience of; these men guilty of the o­ther extream would scarce acknowledg any thing of Mystery in it; all things seemed so clear to them, as if they had had a particu­lar [Page 52] Revelation; they have thrown open the Vail, that covers the Ark; they define boldly, and obtrude their Conjectures for Oracles. St. Paul and St. John shall be explained and proved by the Writings of Plato and Aristotle; thus prostituting the Majesty of the Sacred Scriptures, and corrupting the Simplicity of the Christian Religion by their niceties and subtilities of Distinctions, and exposing it the more to the Cavils of Hereticks, who ob­serving the falseness of their Principles, and the weakness and incompetency of their Proofs, are more encouraged to reject the truth of it. Hereby too a Contentious and Disputative Theology has been introduced in the Schools; and unnecessary and bold questions started, impossible to be resolved with any satisfaction, which perplex and confound the Understanding, and are so far from Building us up in our Holy Faith, and from explaining the Doctrine of it, that it has scarce suffered by any one thing more. Some things we may understand, but we see more to admire, which with all our art and subtility we can ne­ver attain to. It is enough, that the Chri­stian [Page 53] Religion doth perswade us by Rational Arguments to the acknowledgment of its Do­ctrine, that it laies down sufficient grounds of the certainty and necessity of our Belief, that it gives us all the assurance we can, with any modesty, pretend to, and all the proofs the nature of the things, proposed to our belief, are capable of and will bear. 'Tis Faith in Christ, that He is the Son of God and the Saviour of the World, that denominates us Christians; to deny this, how excellent a Person soever we make him for Meekness and Holiness of Life, is to renounce Christianity, and in effect to turn Mahometans; for they acknowledg Christ to have been a Great Prophet, to have been born of a Virgin, to have been assumed into Heaven, and the like. Satis sit pro universis ra­tionibus Author Deus; as the same Salvian has it. This is that, that is equivalent to ten thousand Demonstrations; this will level all those objections, that are raised against the Mysteries of Christianity; that will silence all the Sophistry of Corrupt Reason, and cut off all those Arguments, which presumptuous Men are wont to make: and certainly if we rightly [Page 54] consider it, the Mysteries of Christianity, as they are proposed in the Scriptures, are by reason of the great difficulties, that attend the conception of them, so far from being in­credible, that they ought thereby to become more credible; that is, they are more worthy of the infinite Majesty and perfection of God, by how much they are above the reach of our Faculties.

2. Let us remember that Christianity is a My­stery of Godliness, and consequently that the Great Mysteries of it ought to have an influ­ence upon our Lives and Practices. As on the one hand, to say, that these Great Articles of our Faith are nice Speculations, and the ex­plicit Belief of them, as they are proposed, not necessary, and to question that Sense of them, in which they have always been received by the Catholick Church, is to undermine the Fun­damentals of Christianity; So on the other side, it takes off very much from the obligation to Obedience, and dulls those affections, which a reflexion on these Great Mysteries must needs cause in the mind.

That God should send his Son into the [Page 55] world to discover this Mystery to us in Per­son, and in order to our Redemption, was the Effect of an Infinite Wisdom, and of an Infinite Love; that God should be Manifested in the Flesh for our sakes, and submit himself to the weaknesses, and imperfections, and contu­melies of the humane nature; that the Second Person of the Trinity, Co-essential and Co-eternal with the Father, should condescend to assume flesh, and therein to suffer; a reflection on this cannot but fill us with admiration and love. One great part of the Worship we owe to God consists in our admiring his infi­nite Perfections; all our Praises and Thanks­givings are but the outward significations of this, and faint expressions of our thoughts, which loose themselves in the contemplation of them. Now these Mysteries afford us eter­nal matter for our admiration. Besides, what greater obligation to Obedience can there pos­sible be, than the Revelation of this Mystery, upon which our Salvation is founded? A Ho­ly and Religious Life then is the best evidence of our belief of these Articles of Christianity be­yond all subtility of Disputation. This es­pecially [Page 56] concerns us, who are dignified with the Holy Priesthood, who are Ministers of Christ, and Stewards of the Mysteries of God. This shews, that we do more than barely assent to the truth of them, when they produce in us all, both Priests and Lay, these effects, for which they were principally discovered; that so living in obedience to the will of God revealed to us by his Son, whom he sent out of his own Bosom, and in all holy conversation and godliness, we may at last be admitted to the sight and fruition of his glorious Godhead, to sing Praises and Hallelujah's to the blessed Trinity for ever and ever, Amen.


IT must be confessed, that this Verse is not to be met with in several Old MSS. as particu­larly in the mentioned Alex­andrine, now in the Kings Li­brary at St. Jame's, brought out of Egypt by Cy­rillus Lucari, when he removed from the See of Alexandria to the Patriarchate of Constantinople, who was strangled by the Turks in the year 1638, and sent to K. Charles I. though not so antient, I believe, as is pretended, as if it had been wrote by the hand of Thecla, an Egyptian Woman of an honourable Extraction, and a Martyr for the Christian Faith, condemned to the Amphitheatre under Dioclesian, as Eusebius re­lates in the Supplement to the Eight Book of his Ecclesiastical History, which is found in se­veral Copies, if it be his (cap. 3.) before the first Council of Nice, which is barely said and con­jectured; and I suppose, that it may be pro­ved, that the Vatican exemplar is the more Genu­ine [Page 58] of the two, and comes nigher the Original. It is omitted also in an ancient Manuscript in the Archives of our Colledg Library, containing the New Testament entire (except the Apocalyps) with the Psalter and several Hymns collected out of the Old Testament, the words [...] be­ing also wanting in the eight verse, and in seve­ral others. Upon this the Enemies of this Do­ctrine triumph and boldly pretend, that it was inserted by the Catholicks: Thus to mention on­ly one for all, Socinus himself in his Commen­tary on these words—Satis constat illa esse A­dulterina, & ab hominibus, qui suum dogma de tri­no & uno Deo quâcun (que) ratione defendere & propa­gare volebant, in hunc locum infarcta. But let the appeal lye to any indifferent Person, which is most likely, that those, who professed their be­lief of this Doctrine, which was grounded too upon several other Texts of Scripture, and was derived down to them from the first Ages of the Church, and which they contended for with so much earnestness, should without any ne­cessity dare commit, such a Forgerie, which could not but be taken notice of by their watchful Enemies, or that this should be done [Page 59] by the Opposers of this Doctrine, who were ar­raigned in general, by all the Catholick Writers, who had to do with them, as falsifiers of the sacred Records, and were so much concern'd to do it in defence of their private tenets and fancies, and especially to raze this Text, with which they were so oppressed, out of several Co­pies, from which by Transcripts it might easi­ly be propagated into others: And consequent­ly it is not to be admired, that several of the Fathers, no not Athanasius himself, nor Cyril of Alexandria, not St. Hilary, who defended with so much learning the truth of this great Myste­ry, did not make use of this Testimony, they lighting upon some of these Transcripts; which is to be said also for St. Austin, in his Book 3. Chap. 22. against Maximinus an Arian Bishop, for St. Leo in his Epistle to Flavian Bishop of Constantinople, against the Heresie of Eutyches, Ep. 10. Cap. 5. for Eucherius de questionibus N. Testamenti, and for Oecumenius in his Commen­tary on this Epistle, and several others. The same reason holds for the omission of it in the Syriack, Arabick, and Aethiopick Translations, the two former of which, as they are now extant, as [Page 60] is most probable, were made long since the times of Arius, notwithstanding the pretensions of some to a far greater Antiquity, the last is confessedly of a later Date. The scarcity of Co­pies in those days, and the malitious industry and cunning of the Hereticks render the conje­cture sufficiently probable, if no Copy were to be found with this Verse entire, and that we had only the authority of some of the Antients, who cite it as authentick, as having met with it in their Books. The Divines of Lovain in colla­ting the N. T. with a great number of Latin Co­pies, found it only wanting in five. R. Stepha­nus in his Edition of the N. T. had the use of fifteen or sixteen old Greek MSS. above half of which retain'd it. So the Edition of the N. T. at Complutum compared with antient MSS. prin­ted in the beginning of the Restauration of Po­lite Literature in Christendome, at the expences of the great Cardinal Ximenes, only with this va­riation, [...]. Thus Erasmus confesses he met with a Manuscript in England, which he calls by the name of Codex Britanicus, which had [Page 61] the whole seventh Verse, as we now read it, and the eight Verse, the latter part thus altered, [...]. I shall lay no stress upon two Writings, which pass under the name of Athanasius, where this Verse is cited, because it is not to be met with in those larger works of his, which are acknow­ledged genuine, the one is an account of a dis­putation, according to the title, had with Arius in the Council of Nice; but the title is faulty, as appears from the Discourse it self; nor was A­rius the Person disputed with there, but one of his followers; and the reason of the mistake of the title may be ascrib'd to an ignorant Libra­rius, putting down Arius for Arianus, and the Dialogue not real, but supposed, as was usual a­mongst the Fathers, introducing the Hereticks pleading their Cause, and the Orthodox refuting their Cavils and defending the Truth. And if this may pass for likely, there can be no great reason to suspect the Authenticalness of it, the 1 V [...]l. p. 147. Paristis. 1627. words are, [...]. The other is in a Book extant only in Latine Tom. 2 p. 55 [...]. lib. 1. de unitâ [Page 62] Deitate Trinitatis ad Theophilum, dicente Joanne Evangelistâ in Epistolà sua, tres sunt, qui testimoni­um dicunt in Coelo, Pater, & Verbum, & Spiritus. But this piece, I confess, is very justly rejected as none of his, though perchance wrote not ma­ny years after his time. St. Cyprian, who suffered Martyrdome about the year of Ch. 258. Galienus and his Son Valerianus being then Emperours, about sixty years before the calling of the Coun­cil of Nice, in his book de unitate Ecclesiae Catho­licae, cites this Text expresly, as found in the Co­pies of his time:—Dicit Dominus, Ego & Pater unum sumus, & iterum de Patre & Filio & Spi­ritu Sancto, & hi Tres unum sunt. It is not any way material to the design and purpose of this Scholion to inquire, in what sense St. Cyprian understood these words, but only to vindicate the antiquity of the Copies, that retained this reading, though it might easily be proved that it was a thing usual with the Fathers, as no one can be ignorant, who has turn'd over their Wri­tings, to interpret places of Scriptures some­times, not according to their primary intent, but by way of accomodation. Which testimo­ny is so clear and convincing that Sandius in [Page 63] his Appendix quaestionum Paradoxarum, p. [...]8 [...]. uses all his art and skill to avoid the force of it, by preten­ding, that several things have been changed, ad­ded, taken away, and some other way varied in the Epistle, as appears by the observation of Pos­sevinus, who took the pains to compare the prin­ted Copies with four MSS. and the acknow­ledgment of others, Perkins, James, and Rivet: from which premises he concludes very boldly upon a meer possibility, that this place was ne­ver cited by that blessed Martyr, but put in by some body else; Quam facile ita (que) etiam hic locus interseri potuit ab his, qui non exhorruerunt sacras li­teras corrumpere propter metum Hereticorum. But first this is barely said without the least proof, and without the authority of any MS. Secondly neither Pamelius nor Rigaltius, nor any other, as I know of, who put forth St. Cyprian, make men­tion of any various reading in this place, all a­greeing in it. Now that this Epistle is St. Cy­prians is undoubted: St Cyprian himself referring to it, and that the reading is the same now, as it was in the old Copies written above eleven hundred and forty years ago, appears from Ful­gentius, who not only cites this seventh verse in [Page 64] his book de fide Catholicâ adversus Pintam Epis­copum Arianum, p. 772. in his testimonies del rinitate, and in his book de Trinitate ad Felicem Notarium, c. 4. which thus begins, En habes in brevi alium esse Patrem, alium Filium, alium Spiritum sanctum, ali­um & alium in personâ, non aliud & aliud in natu­ra; & idcirco ego, inquit, & pater unum sumus; u­num, ad naturam referre nos docens, sumus, ad per­sonas: smiliter & illud. Tressunt, inquit qui te­stimonium dicunt in Coelo, Pater, Verbum, & Spiritus, & hi tres unum sunt. Audiat Sabellius, sumus: audiat tres: & credat esse tres personas, & non sa­crilego corde blasphemet, dicendo, ipsum sibi esse Pa­trem, ipsum sibi Filium, ipsum sibi Spiritum sanctum, tanquam modo quodam seipsum gignat, aut modo quodam a seipso ipse procedat, cum hoc etiam in na­turis creatis minime inveniri possit, ut aliquid seip­sum gignere valeat. Audiat scilicet & Arius u­num, & non differentis filium dicat esse naturae, cum natura diversa unum dici ne­queat, p. 591 ex Editione Theophili Ranaudi, Soc. Jesu, [...]arisiis 1671. printed with St. [...] Maximus T [...]urinensis, and four others which make up the [...]pras [...]raesu­lum. but cites this very place of St. Cyprian, in his book contra objectiones Arianorum, in his answer to the tenth or last objection. His words are these,P. 447. In Patre & Filio, & Spiritu sancto unitatem [Page 65] substantiae accipimus, personas confundere non audemus; beatus enim Johannes Apostolus testatur, dicens, tres sunt, qui testimonium perhibent in Coelo, Pater, Verbum, & Spi­ritus, & hi tres unum sunt. Quod etiam beatissimus Mar­tyr Cyprianus in Epistolâ de unitate Ecclesiae confitetur, dicens, qui pacem Christi & concordiam rumpit, adversus Christum facit: qui alibi praeter Ecclesiam colligit, Christi Ecclesiam spargit. At (que) ut unam Ecclesiam unius Dei esse monstraret, haec confestim testimonia de Scriptur â inseru­it, dicit Dominus, Ego & Pater unum sumus, & iterum, de Patre & Filio & Spiritu sancto scriptum est, & hi tres unum sunt. If it be said, that St. Cyprian cited only the latter part of the 8. v. where the vulgar Latine has those very words, & hi tres unum sunt lib. 1. p. 16. ex Edit. I. Sir­mondi Parisiis 1629. and that thus Facundus, Episcopus Hermianensis, in the time of Justinian, to whom he dedicates his book, which he wrote pro desensione trium capitulorum Con­cilii Chalcedonensis, seems to understand it, without taking any notice of the 7. v. citing this place of St. Cyprian, though by a lapse of his memory he saies it is to be found in Epistolâ sive libro, quem de Trini­tate scripsit: I reply first in general that [in] might easily be left out by the oscitancy of the Librarii, not to say, razed out by the Hereticks; the Syriack Interpreter reading in his Greek Copy, what we find in [Page 66] ours, as to the latter part, [...], and accordingly translating it so, & tres sunt testes, Spiri­tus & Aqua & Sanguis, & hi tres in uno sunt [...] Be­chad, and so the Arabick Interpreter [...] in uno, only the Aethiopick conforming to the present read­ing of the vulgar Latine. But what will they say to the Alexandrine MS. which they so much adore, which has the same reading, [...]; which are the words also of our MS. so in the Copies, which Oecumenius followed [...] St. Hierom's translation leaves out in the 8. v. & hitres unum or in unum sunt, and so the Greek of Arias Montanus, and the Complu­tensian Edition; in the Margin of which later it is no­ted, that Aquinas in the exposition of the second de­cretal de summâ Trinitate against Abbot Joachim, who perversely interpreting the end of the 7. v. of the u­nity of will and consent, alledges the end of the 8. v. for his authority and justification, had made this observation, sed hoc in veris exemplaribus non habetur, sed dicitur esse appositum ab Hereticis Arianis ad perver­tendum intellectum sanum auctoritatis praemissae de u­nitate essentiae trium personarum. I suppose the great [Page 67] respect Aquinas had for the vulgar Latin, made him rather suspect the whole to be added, than that it was ill translated, which he would easily have acknow­ledged, had he consulted any Gr. MS. But this kind of learning they were not acquainted with in that Age of Scholastical ignorance and barbarousness. Secondly, as they take it for granted, that this was the reading of the vulgar Latine at that time, so they more vainly and weakly suppose, that St. Cyprian made use of the same vulgar Latine edition, the con­trary of which appears in several of his citations, and it is more likely, that he might translate so lite­rally the latter part of the 7. v. and not at all regard the 8. v. or the vulgar translation, and so it appears from the testimony of Fulgentius, cited above, that he understood it.

Afterward when several, out of an evil design to overthrow the Mystery of the most blessed and ado­rable Trinity, omitted in their translations of the Scriptures into the Latin Tongue this Verse (a liber­ty which, it seems, every Pretender almost made use of, and it may well be suspected, that an Arian then, as a Socinian now, in his translation would be over­favourable to his own opinions, by leaving out and putting in what might make for them, and accor­dingly [Page 68] interpreting what was retained to their best advantage:This Pre­face is print­ed in an old edition of the N. T. with the interlineary Gloss, and I find it in se­veral MSS both in the Bodleyan and our own Col­ledg-Library before the Catholick Epi­stles. The Stile is exactly St. Hierom's and questionless his, and ac­knowledg'd as such, both by Erasmus and Socinus, however o­mitted by E­rasmus in his edition of St. Hierom's works at Ba­sil. St. Hierome in his preface to the Ca­nonical Epistles, vindicates the antient reading, and laies open the baseness and perfidiousness of these men. I shall here put down the whole Preface; Non ita ordo est apud Graecos, qui integrè sapiunt, & fidem rectam sectantur Epistolarum septem, quae Canonicae nun­cupantur, sicut in Latinis codicibus invenitur: Quod quia Petrus primus est in numero Apostolorum, primae sunt e­tiam ejus Epistolae, in or dine caeterarum; sed sicut Evan­gelistas dudum ad veritatis lineam correximus, ita has proprio ordini Deo juvante reddidimus. Estenim prima earum una Jacobi, duae Petri, & tres Johannis, & Judae una. Quae si sicut ab eis digestae sunt, ita quo (que) ab Inter­pretibus fidelitèr in Latinum verterentur eloquium, nec ambiguitatem legentibus facerent, nec sermonum sese va­rietas impugnaret, illo precipuè loco, ubi de unitate Tri­nitatis in primâ Johannis Epistolâ positum legimus, in quâ etiam ab infidelibus translatoribus, multum err atum esse à fidei veritate comperimus; tria tantummodo voca­bula, hoc est, aquae, sanguinis, & spiritus in ipsâ suâ editi­one ponentibus, & Patris verbi (que) ac spiritûs testimonium omittentibus, in quo maximè & fides Catholica roboratur, & patris ac filii ac spiritûs sancti una divinitatis sub­stantia comprobatur. In caeteris vero Epistolis, quantum [Page 69] à nostra aliorum differt editio; Lectoris prudentiae dere­linquo. Sed tu Virgo Christi, Eustochium, dum à me im­pensius Scripturae veritatem inquiris, meam quodammo­do senectutem invidorum dentibus corradendam exponis, qui me falsarium corruptorem (que) sacrarum Scripturarum pronunciant. Sed ego in tali opere nec aemulorum meo­rum invidentiam pertimesco, nec sanctae Scripturae veri­tatem poscentibus denegabo. Erasmus and Socinus are so urged with this testimony of St. Hierome, that they are forced to make use of very pitiful and dis-in­genuous arguments to invalidate it. Socinus had said before—fortasse ante Hieronymum vix ullus inveni­etur, qui testimonium istud hoc in loco planè agnoverit, the falsity of which conjecture, however so warily laid down, has been disproved; hereby craftily con­cealing the citation out of St. Cyprian, he very bold­ly accuses St. Hierome of Forgery, who having got a Copy or Copies, in which this verse was added, adversus fidem aliorum omnium exemplarium, tam La­tinorum, quam Graecorum, lectionem particulae istius tan­quam germanam defendere & promovere coepit, conque­rens publicè eam culpâ & fraude hereticorum abrasam à vulgatis codicibus fuisse. But St Hierome has suffi­ciently confuted the falseness and boldness of this Cavil. He was used to this kind of language, as if [Page 70] he had corrupted the Scriptures, but he was no way moved by it; though this accusation of those of his own time perchance may not so much be referr'd to this place, as to his translation in general, and may proceed not so much from heretical malice and pravity, as envy of several of his contemporaries, who were orthodox in the faith, but were no friends to his new translation. He charges the omission up­on these unfaithful Translators (questionless Sabelli­ans and Arians) and upbraids them with it as a thing manifest and notorious, and easily demon­strable; and certainly he would not have made him­self so obnoxious, unless he had grounded his con­fidence upon the authority of several Greek Copies: with what little pretence of reason therefore Eras­mus and Socinus fancy St. Hierome to have changed the publick and common reading, let any indiffe­rent person judge. But supposing that the Copies of those times varied, which Erasmus grants (and therefore St. Hierome is most falsely and unjustly ac­cused by Socinus to have been the author of this in­terpolation) He enquires, quonam argumento docet u­trum sit rectius, utrumve scriptum sit ab Apostolo, prae­sertim cum quod reprehendit, turn haberet publicus usus Ecclesiae? To this it may be answered, 1. that some [Page 71] vitiated and defective Copies, ought not to preju­dice the authority of entire and better Copies, whe­ther Latin or Greek. 2. that St. Hierome had reason to prefer and vindicate that reading, which gives such an evident proof of this great Article of the Christian Religion, agreeable to the doctrine of the Ca­tholick Church, derived down to them by an universal Tradition, and acknowledged as such, by all, except­ing a few, whom either discontent, or pride and con­ceitedness of their own parts, and a love of innova­tion and of being the author of a Sect, had drawn into the contrary heretical opinion. Besides, his words are so clear, that one might justly wonder, that Erasmus should pretend any difficulty or per­plex sense in them, as he does in his, non satis video, quid sibi velit hoc loco Hieronymus; but that we have too just cause to suspect, how that great Scholar was biast and perverted in his judgment, concerning those great mysteries of Faith; though he is so wary and cunning, as not to discover himself too open­ly. He indeed is forced to confess the nature of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost to be simple and undi­vided, and the essence the same, though he is pe­remptory, that it cannot be proved from this Text, constat hic agi de fide testimonii, non de substantia per­sonarum, [Page 72] herein followed byde illâ ( [...]) ut mihi quidem videtur non agitur hoc in loco; quod & glossa ista in­terlinearis, quam vocant, agnosci [...]. Beza, and with a great deal of ceremony confesses it to be pious to sub­mit our understanding to the judgment of the Church, as soon as she shall declare herself (as cer­tainly she has done in this in her publick Creeds, to the great shame and conviction of Hereticks, who reject her authority) yet still for all this demure­ness, he pleads for a liberty of interpreting Scripture, as if the truth were not yet wholly reveal'd, and the Church might err in her declarations, nec interim ne­fas est citra contentionem scrutari verum, ut Deus aliis alia patefecit (which is also the pretence of Socinus and his followers:) and accordingly he interprets several places of Scripture in favour of Arius and the other Hereticks, and particularly this, cum totus locus sit obscurus, non potest admodum valere ad revincendos Haereticos (the same pretence being made use of for all places, though never so plain) and endeavours to elude the force of that famous place in 1 Tim. 3. 16. by expunging the word [...], as much as in him lies, that is, by pretending it was added by the A­rian Hereticks. So that we need the less value the cen­sure he passes upon S. Hierome in this matter, where nothing but pure zeal for the truths of God could make him so concern'd and fervent—Ille saepe nu­mero [Page 73] violentus est parum (que) pudens, saepe varius, parum (que) sibi constans.

Idacius Clarus a Spanish Bishop, who died about the year 388, at what time the elder Theodosius and Valentinian were Emperours, cites both verses, though as to their order transposed, and with a lit­tle alteration, in his book against Varimadus an A­rian Deacon, Tom. 4. Biblio­thecae veterum Patrum. Paris. 1610. pag. 372. responsione 3.—Item ipse (i.e. Johannes E­vangelista, whose Gospel he had just before cited) ad Parthos, tres sunt, inquit, qui testimonium perhibent in terrâ, Aqua, Sanguis, & Caro, & tres in nobis sunt: & tres sunt, qui testimonium perhibent in coelo, Pater, Ver­bum & Spiritus, & hi tres unum sunt; which very cita­tion is made use of, as being borrowed hence, by the author of the collections of the decretal Epistles, which beyond all doubt are proved to be counter­feitConsule E­pistolarum Pontificalium censuram à D. Blondello edi­tam Genevae. A. Chr. 1628. pag. 190. and supposititious, in the 1 Epistle of Hyginus, and by this is to be corrected, Item ipse ad Parthos, tres sunt, qui testimonium perhibent in terram, Aqua, San­guis & Caro; & tres in nobis sunt, qui testimonium per­hibent in coelo, Pater, Verbum, & Spiritus, & hi tres u­num sunt. There is like variety of reading in both verses in several old Copies, some leaving out [...] and [...], others retaining them▪ For this [in terrâ] Socinus confesses to be [Page 74] found in quibusdam emendatis exemplaribus, though that we may gain nothing by this confession, he tells us immediately after, it is not extant in emendatio­nibus. It might easily be foreseen, that if either had been lest, and particularly this latter; the one would have infer'd the other justly and necessarily, and therefore it cannot seem strange, if the first corrup­ters of this Scripture, to make all sure, and to rend­er their false and perfidious dealing the more un­suspected, omitted both; so too in that antient MS. Grotius made use of, though he gives us no proof of its antiquity in that place, and suppose it were written a thousand years since, we are not to be swayed by it, as if it were authentick, [...], and no more, who thereupon conjectures these words [...], with the former verse to have been added by the Arians to prove the father, son and holy ghost, to be one in consent only, but afterwards re­moved and altered by the Catholicks, and added to the former verse, which is said without any the least proof either from reason or antiquity, and has nothing to maintain the fancy, but the great name of the Author of it.

That whichIn appendice Interpretatio­num Paradox­arum p. 381. Sandius and several others allege [Page 75] in the first place, that eo omisso meliorem esse verbo­rum connexionem, the connexion is far better, if the 7 v. were omitted, and that therefore it ought to be so, and was antiently omitted; if the supposition were true, is not only vain and frivolous, but very bold and immodest to ty the spirit of God to such a way of writing, as pleases their humours and fancies best, and savours most of humane ar­tifice, and by the same argument they may reject not only verses, but whole chapters in the N. T. for the meanness and inaccuracy of the stile, and the seeming carelesness of the method, which is not al­ways conformable to the rules of the Gr. eloquence. 2. Indignum est summo Deo esse testem, inio coram quo judice testis foret? is a groundless and bold cavil; for this witnessing is nothing else but the declaration of God to mankind by evident signs and tokens con­cerning our Saviours being the true Messias, and of his being born in the flesh, and that he came from him. This God has attested and sufficiently made known to the World, and in this sense the Word often occurs in the Scriptures, without the least in­dignity offered to the Divine Nature. The only pre­tence he has for his fancy is a base and unworthy comparison he conceives in his mind between Gods [Page 76] being a witness, and mans being a witness in our Courts of Judicature, forgetting the genuine and easie sense of the word, as I have above expressed it. 3. That it is highly probable that this verse was inserted by a Sabellian, the contrary whereof is most true. 4. That in several MSS. and Editions of modern languages, there is a transposition of these two verses. The same before was acknowledged to be found in some Greek copies, which no way proves the pretended interpolation, but only that antient copies do not all agree. 5. That this v. does very highly favour the Arians, but this is such a strain of fancy, that he may as well allege the first words of the Book of Genesis, to prove Aristotles opinion of the eternity of the World. If men out of a pre­judicate opinion, against the doctrine of the Ca­tholick Church, allow themselves to interpret Scri­pture according to their own fancies, it cannot seem strange to any, that they should go about to prove and justifie their blasphemies from the plainest texts of Scripture, that in the judgment of all sober persons, who are free from those prejudi­ces, do most evidently refute them.


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