A Defence of the Bles­sed Trinity. By Isaac Barrow. D. D.

Price twelve Pence.

A BRIEF STATE OF THE Socinian Controversy. Concerning a TRINITY in UNITY.

By Isaac Barrow, D. D. Late Master of Trinity-College, in Cambridge.

LONDON, Printed for Brabazon Aylmer, at the Three Pigeons against the Royal-Exchange in Cornhill, 1698. Price two Pence.

A BRIEF STATE OF THE Socinian Controversy.

* THe Sacred Trinity may be consider­ed, either as it is in it self, wrapt up in unex­plicable Folds of Mystery; or, as it hath discovered it self, operating in wonder­ful Methods of Grace to­wards us.

[Page 6] As it is in it self, 'tis an Object too bright and daz­ling for our weak Eye to fasten upon; an Abyss too deep for our short Reason to fathom. I can only say, That we are so bound to mind it, as to exercise our Faith, and express our Hu­mility, in willingly believ­ing, in submissively ado­ring those high Mysteries, which are revealed in the Holy Oracles concerning it; by that Spirit it self, which searcheth the Depths of God, and by that Only Son of God, who residing in his Fa­ther's Bosom, hath thence brought them forth, and Expounded them to us, so far as was fit for our Capacity [Page 7] and use. And the Lectures so read by the Eternal Wis­dom of God, the Propositions uttered by the Mouth of Truth it self, we are obliged with a Docile Ear, and a Credulous Heart, to enter­tain.

That there is One Divine Nature or Essence, common unto Three Persons, incompre­hensibly Vnited, and ineffably Distinguished; united in Es­sential Attributes, distinguish­ed by peculiar Idioms and Re­lations; all equally Infinite in every Divine Perfection, each different from other in Order and Manner of Subsistence; that there is a mutual inexi­stence of One in All, and All in One; a Communication [Page 8] without any Deprivation or Di­minution in the Communicant; an Eternal Generation, and an Eternal Procession without Precedence or Succession, with­out proper Causality or Depen­dence: A Father imparting his own, and the Son receiving his Father's Life, and a Spirit issuing from both, without any Division or Multiplication of Essence; These are Notions which may well puzzle our Reason, in conceiving how they agree, but should not stagger our Faith, in assent­ing that they are true. Up­on which we should medi­tate, not with hope to com­prehend, but with disposi­tion to admire, veiling our Faces in the Presence, and prostrating our Reason at [Page 9] the Feet of Wisdom so far transcending us.

There be those, who be­cause they cannot untie, dare to cut in sunder these Sacred Knots. Who, because they cannot fully conceive it, dare flatly to deny them. Who, instead of confessing their own Infirmity, do charge the plain Doctrines and As­sertions of Holy Scripture with Impossibility. Others seem to think, they can de­monstrate these Mysteries by Arguments grounded upon Principles of Natural Light, and express it by Similitudes derived from common Experience. To repress the Presumption of the former, and to restrain [Page 10] the Curiosity of the latter; the following Considera­tion (improved by your Thoughts) may perhaps somewhat conduce.

We may consider, That our Reason is no competent or capable Iudge coneerning Pro­positions of this Nature. 'Tis not sufficient, nor was ever designed to sound such Depths; to descry the Ra­dical Principles of all Be­ing; to reach the extream Possibilities of Things.

Such an Intellectual Ca­pacity is vouchsafed to us, as doth suit to our Degree (the lowest Rank of Intel­ligent Creatures) as be­cometh our Station in this [Page 11] inferior Part of the World; as may qualify us to dis­charge the petty Businesses committed to our Manage­ment, and the facile Duties incumbent on us. But to know, What God is; How he subsisteth; what he can; what he should do; by our natural Perspicacity, or by any means we can use, farther than he pleaseth to reveal, doth not suit to the Mean­ness of our Condition, or the Narrowness of our Ca­pacity. These really are the most elevated Sublimi­ties, and the abstrusest Sub­tilties that are, or can be in the nature of things. He that can penetrate them, may erect his Tribunal any where in the World, and [Page 12] pretend justly that nothing in Heaven or Earth is ex­empted from his Judg­ment.

But in truth, how unfit our Reason is to exercise such Universal Jurisdiction, we may discern by compa­ring it to our Sense. It is obvious, that many Beasts do (by advantage of a finer Sense) See, Hear, Smell things imperceptible to us. And were it not very un­reasonable to conclude, that such things do not exist, or are in themselves altoge­ther insensible, because they do not all appear to us? Is it not evident, that we ought to impute their Im­perceptibility (respecting [Page 13] us) to the defect of our Sense, to its Dulness and Grossness, in regard to the Subtilty of those Objects? Even so may Propositions in themselves, and in regard to the Capacity of higher Understandings; (for there are gradual Differences in Understanding, as well as in Sense) be true and very intelligible, which to our inferiour Reason seem unin­telligible, or repugnant to the Prenotions, with which our Soul is imbued: And our not discerning those Truths, may argue the Blindness and Weakness of our Understanding, not a­ny Fault or Inconsistency in the Things themselves. Nor should it cause us any [Page 14] wise to distrust them, if they come recommended to our Belief by competent Au­thority.

It cannot be rea­sonable out of Prin­ciples drawn from ordina­ry Experience,P. 21. about these most low and imperfect Things to collect; that there can be no other kind of Vnions, of Distinctions, of Generations, of Processions, than such as our own gross Sense doth represent to us. Reason it self more forcibly doth oblige us to think, that to sublimer Beings there do pertain Modes of Existence and Action, Vnions and Di­stinctions, Influences and E­manations of a more high [Page 15] and perfect Kind: Such as our course Apprehension cannot adequate, nor our rude Language express: Which we perhaps, have no Faculty subtile enough to conceive distinctly, nor can attain any congruous Prin­ciples, from which to Dis­course solidly about them. No Words,Id. on the Creed, p. 337. per­haps, which we do use to signify our Conceptions about these Material and In­feriour Things, will per­fectly and adequately suit to a Mystery, so much remote from the common Objects of our Knowledge, so far transcending our Capacity. Shall we then, who cannot pierce into the Nature of a [Page 16] Peble; that can­not apprehend how a Mushroom doth grow;V. Defence of the B. Trinity, p. 26. that are baffled in our Philosophy about a Gnat or a Worm, debate and de­cide (beyond what is taught us from above) concerning the precise manner of Di­vine Essence, Subsistence, or Generation? I do (saith St. Chrysostom) eat Meats, but how they are divided into Phlegm, into Blood, into Iuice, into Choler, I am igno­rant. These things which eve­ry day we see and taste, we do not know; and are we curi­ous about the Essence of God?

Wherefore do we stretch our Judg­ment [Page 17] beyond its Limits,P. 55. un­to Things so infinitely ex­ceeding it? Why do we suffer our Reason to be Prag­matical, unjustly Invading the Office not belonging thereto; intruding into Things which it hath not seen, Col. ii. 18. nor can comprehend; those secret Things, which be­long to the Lord our God, Deut. xxix. 29. and the compre­hension whereof he hath re­served unto himself?

These Considerations may suffice in some manner, to shew, that St. Chrysostom had reason to exclaim so much against the Madness, as he styleth, it, of those, who are busily Curious in Speculation about the Essence of God; da­ring [Page 18] to subject Divine Myste­ries to their own Ratiocinati­ons. That St. Basil's Ad­vice was wholsom, not to be meddlesom about things, about which Holy Scripture is silent.

ThatZeno Ve­ronens. another Ancient Writer did say no less prettily, than truly, that in these Matters curiositas reum facit, non peritum; we may easilier incur blame, than attain Skill by nice Enquiry into them. That many of the Fathers do with great Wisdom dislike and dissuade the searching [...], the manner of Things being true or possible, as a suspi­cious Mark, or a dangerous Motive of Infidelity. That St. Paul's Rules, Rom. xii. 3. [Page 19] [...], to be wise so as withal to be sober, and modest; and [...], not to con­ceit any thing without warrant of Scripture, 1 Cor. iv. 6. are in this Case most especially to be heeded. That, ac­cording to St. Peter's Ad­monition, we should as new-born Babes (unprepossess'd with any Noti­ons or Fancies of our own) long for, 1 Pet. ii. 2. [...]. and greedily suck in the sincere milk of the Word; not diluting it with baser Liquors of Humane Device. That where God doth in­terpose his definitive Sen­tence, our Reason hath no­thing to do but to attend and submit. No Right to [Page 20] Vote, no Licence to Debate the Matter. Its Duty is to listen and approve what­ever God speaketh, to read and subscribe to whatever he writeth. At least in any case it should be mute, or ready to follow Job, saying, Behold, I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand upon my mouth, Job xl. 4.

In fine; The Testimony of God, with a sufficient clearness represented to the Capacity of an Honest and Docile Mind (void of all partial Respects, and clear from all sorts of Prejudice; loving Truth, and forward to entertain it; abhorring to wrest or wrack Things, [Page 21] to use any Fraud or Vio­lence upon any Principle, or Ground of Truth) the Testimony of God, I say, so revealed, whatever Ex­ception, our shallow Reason can thrust in, should abso­lutely convince our Judg­ment, and constrain our Faith.

If the Holy Scripture teacheth us plainly, and frequently doth inculcate upon us (that which also the uniform Course of Na­ture, and the peaceable Go­vernment of the World doth also speak) That there is but One True God. If it as manifestly doth ascribe to the Three Persons of the Bles­sed Trinity, the same August [Page 22] Names, the same Peculiar Characters, the same Divine Attributes (essential to the Deity) the same Superlative­ly admirable Operations of Creation and Providence: If it also doth prescribe to them, the same Supreme Honours, Services, Praises and Acknow­ledgments to be paid unto them All; this may be abundant­ly enough to satisfy our Minds, to stop our Mouths, to smother all Doubt and Dispute about this High and Holy Mystery.

It was exceeding Good­ness in God, that he would condescend so far to in­struct us; to disclose so No­ble a Truth unto us; to en­rich our Minds with that [...], [Page 23] that most excellent Knowledge of himself. And it would be no small Ingratitude and Unworthi­ness in us, any wise to sus­pect his Word, or pervert his Meaning; any wise to subject his Venerable Ora­cles to our rude Canvasses and Cavils.

In fine; The proper Em­ployment of our Mind a­bout these Mysteries, is not to search and speculate a­bout them, to Discourse flippantly and boldly about them; but with a pious Credulity to embrace them, with all humble Respect to Adore them.


Books Printed for Brabazon Aylmer, in Cornhil.

A Seasonable Vindication of the B. Trinity. Be­ing an Answer to this Que­stion, Why do you believe the Doctrin of the Trinity? Col­lected from the Works of the Most Reverend Dr. John Tillotson, Late Lord Arch­bishop of Canterbury, and the Right Reverend Dr. Edward Stillingfleet, now Lord Bishop of Worcester. Price 12d.

A Method of daily Devo­tion. A Method of Devo­tion for the Lord's-Day. Likewise several small Books against Debauchery, Pro­faness, Blasphemy, Cursing, and Swearing, &c. Price two Pence each, and some­thing cheaper to them that give away Numbers.

All these by Dr. Ashton.

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