THEOLOGICAL DISCOURSES; In Two Parts.

The FIRST containing, VIII LETTERS AND III SERMONS Concerning the Blessed Trinity.

The SECOND, DISCOURSES & SERMONS on several Occassions.

By JOHN WALLIS D. D. Professor of Geome­try in OXFORD.

LONDON, Printed for Tho. Parkhurst at the Bible and Three Crowns in Cheapside near Mercers Chappel, 1695.

The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity Briefly Explained. In a Letter to a Friend.

SIR,

THE Doctrine of the Arrians, Socinians, or Anti-Trinitari­ans, (call them as you please, provided you call them not Orthodox Christians) in opposition to those who believe (ac­cording to the Word of God), That the Sacred Trinity, of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are so distinguished each from other, as that the Father is not the Son, or Holy-Ghost; the Son not the Father, or Holy-Ghost; the Holy-Ghost not the Father, or Son; yet so Ʋnited, as that they are all One God; (which, in the Athanasian Creed, is called Trinity in Ʋnity, and Ʋnity in Trinity; or, in common speaking, Three Persons and One God;) is what you were lately discoursing with me, and of which I shall give you some of my present Thoughts.

The Scripture tells us plainly, There are three that bear record in Hea­ven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy-Ghost: and these Three are One, 1. Joh. 5.7. And the Form of Baptism (Mat. 28.19.) is, In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy-Ghost.

And the Christian Church, from the time of Christ and his Apostles downwards hitherto, as well before as since the Council of Nice, have ever held the Divinity of those Three Persons (as they are commonly cal­led;) and that these Three are but One God. And, that they have so held, hath been, by divers, sufficiently proved from the most ancient Christian Writers, which are now exstant. Which, therefore, I take for granted, as sufficiently proved by others, without spending time at present, to prove it a new.

That these are Three, distinguished each from other, is manifest: And, that this Distinction amongst themselves, is wont to be called Personali­ty. By which word, we mean, that Distinction (what ever it be) whereby they are distinguished each from other, and thence called Three Persons.

If the word Person do not please, we need not be fond of Words, so the Thing be agreed: Yet is it a good Word, and warranted by Scripture, Heb. 1.3. where the Son is called the express image of his Fa­thers Person: (For so we render the Word Hypostasis, which is there used; and mean by it, what I think to be there meant.) And we have no reason to wave the Word, since we know no better to put in the Place of it.

If it be asked, what these Personalities or Characteristicks are, whereby each Person is distinguished from other; I think we have little more [Page 2]thereof in Scripture, than that the Father is said to Beget; the Son, to be Begotten; and the Holy-Ghost, to Proceed.

If it be further asked, what is the full import of these Words (which are but Metaphorical), and what is the adequate Meaning of them; I think we need not trouble our selves about it: For, since it is a matter purely of Revelation (not of natural Knowledge,) and we know no more of it than what is revealed in Scripture; where the Scripture is si­lent, we may be content to be ignorant. And we who know so little of the Essence of any thing, especially of spiritual Beings, though finite, need not think it strange that we are not able to comprehend all the Par­ticularities of what concerns that of God, and the Bless [...]d Trinity.

I know that the Fathers, and School men, and some after them, have imployed their Wits to find out some faint Resemblances, from natural things, whereby to express their imperfect Conceptions of the Sacred Tri­nity: But they do not pretend to give an adequate Account of it; but on­ly some conjectural Hypotheses, rather of what May be, than of what cer­tainly Is. Nor need we be concerned, to be curiously inquisitive into it, beyond what God hath been pleased to reveal concerning it.

That the Three Persons are distinguished, is evident; (though we do not perfectly understand what those Distinctions are) That to each of. these, the Scripture ascribes Divinity, is abundantly shewed by those who have written on this Subject: That there is but One God, is agreed on all hands: That the Father is said to Beget; the Son, to be Begotten; and the Holy-Ghost, to Proceed; is agreed also; though we do not perfectly understand the full import of these Words.

And here we might quietly acquiesce (without troubling our selves fur­ther,) did not the clamorous Socinians importunely suggest the Impossi­bility and Inconsistence of these things, insomuch as to tell us, That, how clear soever the Expressions of Scripture be, or can be, to this purpose, they will not believe it, as being inconsistent with natural Reason And therefore, though they do not yet think sit to give us a bare-fac'd Re­jection of Scripture; yet they do (and must, they tell us,) put such a forced sence on the words of it (be they never so plain) as to make them signify some-what else.

There is, therefore, in this Doctrine of the Trinity, as in that of the Resurrection from the Dead, a double Inquiry: First, whether it be Pos­sible; and then, whether it be True. And these to be argued (in both Cases) from a very different Topick: The one from Natural Reason; the other from Revelation. Yet so, that this latter doth certainly con­clude the former, if rightly understood. And though we should not be able to solve all difficulties; yet must we believe the thing, if revealed, [Page 3]unless we will deny the Authority of such Revelation.

Thus our Saviour, against the Sadducees, who denied the Resurrection, Matth. 22.29. Ye erre (saith he) not knowing the Scriptures, nor the Power of God. The Power of God, if rightly understood, was enough (from the Light of Reason) to prove it not impossible: But, whether or no it will be so (which natural Reason could not determine,) was to be argued from Scripture-Revelation.

In like manner, St. Paul before Agrippa, Act. 26. first argues the Pos­sibility of it; Why should it be thought a thing incredible with you, that God should raise the Dead? ver. 8. For if Agrippa did believe the Creation of the World, (as many even of the Heathen did, from the light of Na­ture) he could not think it Impossible for that God (who had at first made all things of nothing) to recollect, out of its Dust or Ashes, a Body which once had been. But whether or no he would do so, depended upon another Question, to be after asked, ver. 27. King Agrippa, believest thou the Prophets? For this was purely matter of Revelation, and could not otherwise be known: For, as to the Immortality of the Soul, and a future state hereafter, many of the Heathens went very far, by the Light of Nature; but as to the Resurrection of the Body, I do not find they had any Sentiments about it (or but very faint, if any:) And if they had, it may well be supposed to be the remainder of some ancient Tradition from the Jews, or their Predecessors. Nor do I see any foundation in Nature, which should make them think of it (before it was revealed) any more, than of the Redemption of Mankind by Christ, (which we should never have thought of, had not God himself contrived and declared it to us.) But, when that of the Resurrection was once suggested, there was no pre­tence of Reason to think it a thing Impossible, and therefore no reason to doubt the Truth of it, when Declared, if we believe the Scriptures, wherein it is revealed; especially those of the New Testament.

It is much the same as to the Doctrine of the Trinity. It is a thing we should not have thought of, if it had not been suggested by Divine Wri­ters; but, when suggested, there is nothing in natural Reason (that we know of, or can know of) why it should be thought Impossible; but whe­ther or no it be so, depends only upon Revelation.

And in this case the Revelation seems so clear (to those who believe the Scriptures) that we have no reason to doubt of it, unless the thing be found to be really Impossible, and inconsistent with Reason. Nor do the Anti-Trinitarians insist on any other ground why they deny it, save only, That it seems to them absolutely Impossible; and therefore think them­selves bound to put another sence on all places of Scripture (how clear so­ever they be, or can be) which prove or favour it.

So that the Controversie is now reduced to this single Point, Whether it be Possible or not Possible: Whether it be consistent or inconsistent with Natural Light or Reason. (And to that point therefore I shall confine my discourse.) For it seems agreed on all hands (as to those who believe the Scriptures) that, if it be not Impossible, it is sufficiently revea­led.

Now for us who understand so little of God's infinite Essence, and which it is impossible for us fully to comprehend, who are our selves but finite, and mostly conversant with material Objects; in so much that we cannot pretend to understand the Essence of our own Souls; and, when we attempt to explain it, must do it rather by saying what it is not, than what it is; (so hard a matter is it for us to six in our Mind or Fancy, a Notion, Idea, or Conception of a spiritual being, which falls not under our Senses:) 'Tis hard, I say, for us (who understand so little of a Spirit) to determine (of what God is pleased to reveal) that it is Impossible, or inconsistent with his Essence, which Essence we cannot understand.

But what is it that is thus pretended to be Impossible? 'Tis but this, That there be Three Somewhats, which are but One God: (and these Some­whats we commonly call Persons.) Now what Inconsistence is there in all this? That Father, Son, and Holy-Ghost are Three, is manifest; and are in Scripture-Language distinguished. That there is but One God is manifest also, and all those Three are this God: That the name Person is no incongruous Word, is evident from Heb. 1.3. where it is used. If it be said, It doth not agree to them exactly in the same sence in which it is commonly used amongst men; we say so too, nor doth any Word, when applyed to God, signifie just the same as when applyed to men, but only some-what analogous thereunto.

What kind or degree of Distinction (according to our Metaphysicks) this is, we need not be very sollicitous to enquire; or, whether in our Metaphysicks (accommodated to our Notions of Finite Beings) there be any Name for it: 'Tis enough for us if these Three may truly be so di­stinguished, as that one be not the other, and yet all but One God.

Now, that there is no Inconsistence or Impossibility, that, what in one regard are Three, may in another regard be One, is very manifest from many Instances that may be given even in Finite Beings, such as we con­verse with: which, though they do not adequately agree with this of the Sacred Trinity, (nor is it to be expected that they should, Finite, with what is Infinite;) yet there is enough in them to shew, there is no such Inconsistence as is pretended.

I shall spare to instance in many Resemblances which have been given [Page 5]long since by Fathers and Schoolmen, or by later Writers. Which, though they they are not pretended to be adequately the same with that of the Sacred Trinity, (as neither will any thing else be that we can take from finite Beings;) yet are they sufficient to shew that there is no Inconsistence in it. (Which is all that is here incumbent on us to prove.) I shall only name a few.

I Will begin with what concerns the most gross of Finite Being, that is, Material Bodies.

Suppose we then a Cubical Body, (which what it is, every one knows that knows a Dy.) In this are Thee Dimensions,

[illustrative diagram of a cube]

(Length, Breadth, and Heighth) and yet but One Cube. Its Length (suppose between East and West) A. B. Its Breadth (suppose between North and South) C. D. Its Heighth (between Bottom and Top) E. F. Here are Three Local Dimensions, truly Distinguished each from other, (not only imaginably:) The distance between East and West (whether we think or think not of it) is not that between North and South; nor be either of these that between Top and Bottom. The Length is not the Breadth, or Heighth; the Breadth is not the Length, or Heighth; and the Heighth is not the Length, or Breadth: But they are Three Divisions, truly distinct each from other: Yet are all these but One Cube: And if any one of the Three were wanting it were not a Cube. There is no inconsistence therefore; that what in one regard are Three (three Dimensions) may, in another regard, be so united as to be but One, (one Cube.) And if it may be so in Cor­poreals, much more in Spirituals.

Suppose we further, Each of these Dimensions infinitely continued; the Length infinitely Eastward and Westward, the Breadth infinitely Northward and Southward, the Heighth infinitely Upward and Down­ward: Here are Three infinite Dimensions, and but One infinite Cube; and these Three Dimensions (though Distinct) are equal each to other (else it were not a Cube;) & tho we should allow, that a Cube cannot be in­finite (because a Body, and therefore a finite Creature:) Yet a Spirit may; such as is the Infinite God. And therefore no Inconsistence; that there be Three Personalities (each infinite, and all equal); and yet but One In­finite God, Essentially the same with those Three Persons.

I add further, That such Infinite Cube; can therefore be but One, and those Three Dimensions can be but Three, (not more nor fewer:) For, if Infinite as to its Length (Eastward and Westward), and as to its Breadth (Northward and Southward), and as to its Heighth (Upward and Down­ward); it will take up all imaginary space possible; end leave no room ei­ther [Page 6]for more Cubes or more Dimensions: And if this infinite Cube were (and shall be) Eternally so, its Dimensions also must be Infinite and Co­eternal.

I say further, If in this (supposed) Cube, (we suppose in Order, not in Time) its first Dimension, that of Length, as A. B., and to this Length be given an equal Breadth (which is the true generation of a Square) as C. D., which compleats the square Basis of this Cube; and to this Basis (of Length and Breadth) be given (as by a further Procession from Both) an equal Heighth E. F., which compleats the Cube; and all this eternally, (for such is the Cube supposed to be,) here is a fair Re­semblance (if we may parvis componere magna) of the Father, (as the Fountain or Original;) of the Son, (as generated of him from all Eter­nity;) and of the Holy-Ghost, (as eternally Proceeding from Both:) And all this without any Inconsistence. This longum, latum, prosundum, (Long, Broad, and Tall) is but One Cube; of Three Dimensions, and yet but One Body: And this Father, Son, and Holy-Ghost; Three Persons, and yet but One God. And as, there, the Dimensions are not (in the Abstract) predicated or affirmed each of other, or the Cube of either, (the Length is not the Breadth or Heighth, nor either of these a Cube;) but (in the Concrete) Cube is affirmed of all; this longum, latum, profun­dum, is a Cube, and the same Cube: So here, (in the Abstract) the Per­sonality of the Father is not that of the Son, nor either of these that of the Holy-Ghost, nor the Deity or Godhead any of these; but (in the Con­crete) though the Personalities are not, yet the Persons are, each of them God and the same God.

If it be objected, that those Concretes are Affirmed or Predicated each of other; (that longum is also latum and profundum, (this Long is Broad and Tall;) but not so here, the Father is not the Son or Holy-Ghost: I an­swer, That, if the words be rightly considered, the Analogy holds here also: For when we say, this Long is Broad and Tall (where Cube or Body is understood) the full meaning is plainly thus: This Body, which, as to one Dimension (that of Length), is said to be a long Body, is the same Body, which, as to another Dimension (that of breadth,) is said to be a broad body, and which, as to a third Dimension (that of Heighth), is said to be a tall body. So here, That God, which (as to one Personali­ty) is God the Father, is the same God, which (as to another Persona­lity) is God the Son, and which (as to a third Personality) is God the Ho­ly Ghost. So the Analogy holds every way, nor is there any Inconsistence in either Case.

I proceed to the Consideration of somewhat more Spiritual, and less Material than that of a body locally extended.

Suppose we then a Created Angel, or Humane Soul: At least if those who deny the Blessed Trinity will allow that there are such beings; but if they be Sadducees, who do not acknowlege either Angel or Spirit, or that the Holy Scriptures are the word of God, which testifie both, (which I doubt is the case of some of them) let them speak out, that so we may know whom we have to deal with, and not pretend to nibble only at the Athanasian Creed, or some Expressions therein, while the quarrel is in­deed at somewhat higher, (though, ad amoliendam invidiam, they think fit to dissemble it,) and that they do but faintly believe (if at all) that the Holy Scriptures are the Word of God, or the Doctrines therein con­tained to be such. And we have reason to suspect it, when they spare not to let us know, that, were this Doctrine of the Trinity therein de­livered in Words as express as could be, they would not believe it.

But suppose we, (what they would seem to grant, and what I am so charitable as to think divers of them do believe) That there are spiritu­al beings, such as Angels and the Souls of Men: and that these Spiritual Beings are endued with Knowledge (or Wisdom) and force (or an executive Power) to act according to that Knowledge. That there is some such thing, at least in Man, (whether Body or Soul) they cannot but acknow­ledge; for themselves be, and know, and do. And though we cannot fully comprehend, much less express in Words, how all this is so; (for we are here at a loss, as well as in higher things:) Yet, that it is, they cannot deny, though they do not know How.

Now, to Be, and to Know, and to Do, are certainly distinct each from other, (though perhaps we are not all agreed, of what kind, or in what degree this Distinction is:) To be is not the same as to know, for that may be where this is not; and to do is (for the same reason) somewhat diffe­rent from both those, for a Man may Be and may Know what he doth not Do; yet 'tis one and the same Soul (at least one and the same Man) which Is, and Knows, and Does. There is therefore no Impossibility or Inconsistence in it, That what in one regard are Three, may in another regard be One. Thus in the Sacred Trinity, if we conceive of the Fa­ther as the Original or First: Person, who begets the Son; the Son as the Wisdom of the Father, begotten of Him; and the Holy-Ghost as the Spi­rit of the Father and the Son, as proceeding from both, and yet the same God with both; (or what other Distinction there may be of these Three Persons, who are but One God, that we do not know;) there is no Incon­sistence in it, that these Three may be One; Three in one regard, and One in another.

I might shew the same as to the Ʋnderstanding, Will, and Meaning, [Page 8]which are all the same Soul: And the known Metaphysical Terms of Ʋ ­num, Verum, Bonum, which are all but the same Ens. And many other Instances of like Nature.

But we hold (it will he said) a greater Distinction (than that of Ʋnum, Verum, Bonum) between the Three Persons in the Sacred Trinity. Be it so. (But what that greater Distinction is, we do not pretend to compre­hend.) However, it is from all these Instances evident, that there is no Impossibility, or Inconsistence with Reason, that what in one regard are Three, may in another Regard be One. Which is what we undertook to shew.

'Tis true, that not any, nor all of these Instances, nor any of those given by other Learned Men do adequately express the Distinction and Unity of the Persons in the Sacred Trinity, (for neither hath God di­stinctly declared it to us, nor are we able fully to comprehend it, nor is it necessary for us to know.) But because we do not knowEccles. 11.5. How the bones grow in the womb of her that is with Child, shall we therefore say they do not grow there ? Or, becauseJob 11.7. We cannot by searching find out God, because we can­not find out the Almighty to perfection, shall we therefore say, things cannot be, when God sayes they are, only because we know not How? If God say,1 Joh. 5.7. These Three are One? shall we say, they are not? If God say,Joh. 1.1, 14. The word was God, and, The word waes made Flesh, shall we say, Not so, only because we cannot tell, How? It is safer to say It is, when God says It is, though we know not (in particular) How it is. Especially when there be so many In­stances in Nature, to shew it not to be Impossible or Inconsistent with Reason. The thing is sufficiently revealed to those who are willing to be taught, and2 Thes. 2.10 receive the truth in the love of it. (Nor is it denyed, by those who gainsay it, but that, if the thing be possible, it is sufficiently revealed; there being no other Exception made, as to the Revelation, but the Impossibility of the thing.)1 Cor. 11.16. Rom. 2.8. But if any man list to be contentious, and to2 Tim. 6.4. Tit. 3.9. quarrel about words, it is no wonder ifAct. 28.28. Matt. 13.13. hearing they do hear and not un­derstand; and that God2 Thess. 2.10, 11. Rom. 1.21.18. give them over to believe a lye, who do not love the truth. ButPsal. 25.9. the humble he will teach his way. And, while we be so, we be safe.

August 11. 1690.
Yours, John Wallis.

The Second Letter Concerning the Sacred TRINITY.

SIR,

I Ʋnderstand by your Letter (of Sep. 20.) that you have printed a Let­ter of mine concerning the Trinity; and have sent me some Copies of it to Oxford. But I am not there to receive them; and so have yet seen none of them: (But your Letter thither was sent me thence by the Post.) I have, since yours, received (by the same way) a Letter directed to me, subscribed W. J. But I know not from whom. I suppose it is some body in London, to whom you have presented a Book, for which he returns me thanks.

That Letter to me was thus, (with the Post-mark at London, SE. 23. from whence I supply the Date, which in the Letter was wanting) For the Reve­rend Dr. Wallis, Professor of Geometry, at Oxford.

SIR,

I Received the Honour of your Letter; and return you humble and hearty thanks for it. 'Tis writ in my Opinion, in a Modest, Peaceable, and Christian Stile: And I wish it may please others as well as it doth me. I am afraid however, that it will not give sa­tisfaction to the Scholastick Athanasian Trinitarian. For they are so particular, and withal so positive, in the explication of the greatest of Mysteries, as if they understood it as well as any Article of their Christian Faith.

Your Explication of Personality, gives no distast to me, when you say (page 3.) They are distinguished by Personality: And, by Personality I mean, that distinction whereby they are distinguished. Yet I'm afraid the High-flown School-Trinitarians will say, This is Trifling, and idem per idem. Though to me it hath this good Sense, That we know there is a Distin­ction betwixt them, which we call Personality; but we can affix no No­tion to this Personality, which is common to it with other Personalities, either Humane or Angelical; and therefore we can only say, It is that distinction whereby the three Hypostases are distinguished.

But you still use a greater Latitude, as to the Notion of these Persons, or Personalities, when you call them somewhats (page 9) That, you say, which is pretended to be impossible by the Anti-Trinitarians, is only this, That there be three somewhats, which are but one God; and these somewhats we commonly call Persons. This I take only to signifie, that the [Page 4]true Notion, and the true Name of that distinction is unknown to us, yet the distinction is certain.

But the Deep-learned School-Trinitarians, who decide all things to an Hairs breadth, will, I imagine, ridicule this Expression.

A late Learned and Ingenious Author, you know, hath gone much fur­ther in his determinations about this point. He makes your three somewhats, Dr. Sherlock. not only three Persons, but three Substantial Beings, (page 47.) and three Infinite Minds, (page 66.) And the contrary, he says, is both Heresie and Non-sense.

Three Infinite Minds, is the same as three Infinite Spirits. And, by Infinite, the Author understands here, not Infinite in Extension, but in Perfection. So that the three Hypostases are three Spirits, whereof each is Infinite in Perfection.

Then, saith the Anti-Trinitarian, they are three Gods. For what bet­ter Notion, or what better Definition, have we of GOD, than that he is A Spirit Infinitely Perfect. And, if there be three such, there are three Gods. In like manner, three substantial beings really distinct, are three Substances really distinct. And if each of these Sub­stances be endued with Infinite Perfection, it will be hard to keep them from being three Gods.

We do not well know what particular Explication of the Trinity those Persons gave, whom the Ancients call Tritheites. But this we know, that the great offence which is taken at the Christian Doctrine of the Trinity, by the Jews and Mahometans, is, from the appearance of Polytheism in that Doctrine. Which appearance, methinks, is rather in­creased than lessened by this Explication: And, consequently, the scan­dal which (to them) follows upon it.

But the Learned Author hath an expedient to prevent Polytheism, notwithstanding the real distinction of his three Infinite Spirits. Which is, by making them mutually conscious of one anothers Thoughts and Actions: whereby, he says, they would be so united, as to make but one God. That, methinks, doth not follow, That upon this mutual consci­ousness they would be but One God. That which follows is this, That they would be three Gods mutually conscious. For there is no rea­son why this mutual consciousness should make their God-head cease, if without this they would be three distinct Gods. No Union amounts to Identity.

It came in my way to mind you of this more punctual and demonstra­tive Explication of the Trinity, as it is said to be, that you might not expect that every one should be of your Mind, nor approve of your Mo­desty as I do.

Your Similitude and Comparisons, are as just as the Nature of the Sub­ject will admit. The great defect of the First, seems to be this; that it can­not be said of any One Dimension, that it is a Cube, or a Body: Where­as it is said of every Person, that he is God.

Your Second Comparison interferes again with the Learned Author a­bove-mentioned. For he says, (page 72.) 'Tis a mistake to think that Knowledge and Power, even in Men, is not the same thing; where­as you suppose them distinct, and, upon that, ground your Simili­tude.

I cannot but be of your Mind in this particular also. For Power be­longs to theI should rather say, To the Exe­cutive Faculty or, Power of Doing. Will, and Knowledge to the Under­standing. And 'tis plain, that we know many things that we cannot do: And, on the contrary, we can do many things, and know not how they are done. It may be the Ingenious Author would be hard put to it to tell us how he pronounces his own Name; that is, what Organs of Speech are moved, and how; by what Muscles and Nerves; and what the whole Action is that intervenes betwixt the inward Thought and the outward Sound; or betwixt the first Cause and the last Effect. Or, if he be so good an Anatomist and Philosopher as to understand all this, at least his little Son, or little Daughter, who can pronounce the same as well as himself, know not in what manner, or by what means they do it. So, Fools and Children can move their Hands, Fingers, and all the Members of the Body, as well as Philosophers: Though they do not know, in what Method, or by what Mechanism, they are mo­ved. These things are the Effects of Will, independently on Know­ledge. And 'tis as plain, on the other hand, that we know how ma­ny things are to be done, which yet we cannot do, for want of Strength or Force. I can lift a Weight of two or three hundred Pounds, but I cannot lift one of five or six hundred; though I understand as well how the one is moved as the other. And a brawny Porter shall raise that of five or six hundred, though he understands Staticks less than I do. I can bend a Stick, but cannot bend a Bar of Iron: Though I use just the same Method, and understand as much how the one is done as the other. And innumerable instances of like nature shew, Know­ledge and Force to be different things. But this, Sir, I say only in your defence.

Your Conclusion also agrees very well to my Sense. And I think them exceedingly to blame, that presume to measure these Infinite Na­tures, and all their Properties, by our narrow Understandings. The Anti-Trinitarians generally are no great Philosophers, yet they take up­on [Page 6]them as if they were the only Masters of Reason: And in the most Sublime and Mysterious Points, will scarce allow Revelation to be of greater Authority than their Judgment.

But however, on the other hand, (though I never felt any Inclina­tion or Temptation to Socinian Doctrines, yet) I cannot heartily joyn with you in the damnatory Sentences; neither would I have us Spin Creeds, like Cobwebs, out of our own Bowels. In the Name of God, let us be content with what is revealed to us in Scripture concerning these Mysteries; and leave the rest to make part of our Heaven, and fu­ture Happiness. To strain things to these heights, makes still more Divi­sions in the Church. We that now have School-Trinitarians, and Scrip­ture-Trinitarians; and either of them will have their Plea, and Pursue their Interest; till, by Zeal for Opinions which are disputable, we have destroyed Christian Charity and Unity, which are indispensable Vertues and Duties. I am, Sir, with Sincerity and Respect,

Your obliged humble Servant, W. J.

If you know from whom it is, pray thank him from me for his Civili­ties therein. And you may please to tell him, that he doth understand me aright, and puts a true sense upon my words: By Personallity, I mean that distinction (whatever it be) whereby the Three are distinguished; but, what that is, I do not pretend to determine. And if I should guess (for it will be but Guessing) how it may be; I should not be positive, that just so it is. (Ʋpon the same account, that it is not thought prudent in a Siege, to enlarge the Line of Defence too far.) There is a Distinction (this we are sure of) between the Three: This Distinction I call Personality: And by this word I mean that Distinction, whatever it be: But, what this Di­stinction is (or what degree of Distinction) I cannot well tell. If this be Trifling, I cannot help it, (nor, if they please to ridicule it:) But, to me, it seems to be good sense.

If others will venture to determine it more nicely than I have done; they perhaps may understand it more distinctly than I pretend to do; but will give me leave to be ignorant (therein) of what the Scripture doth not tell me.

Of the Damnatory Sentences (as he calls them) I had said nothing. Nor do I think, that the Author of the Athanasian Creed did intend them [Page 7]in that Rigour that some would put upon them. And, if it be well con­sidered how there they stand, he will find them annexed (at least so they seem to me) only to some Generals which he thought necessary, (as, That we ought to hold the Catholick Faith; That the Trinity in Ʋnity is to be Worshipped; That the Son of God was Incarnate;) not to every Punctilio in his Explications. Which are but as a Comment on these Generals, how he thought they were to be understood, or might be explained. Which Explica­tions I take to be True, and Good; but not within the purview of those Clau­ses: And that a man may be saved (even in the judgment of that Au­thor) who doth Hot know, or doth not fully understand, some of them. His true meaning therein, seems to me to be but this; That the Doctrine there­in delivered (concerning the Trinity, and the Incarnation of Christ,) is the sound Orthodox Doctrine; and such as (for the substance of it) ought to be believed by those who expect Salvation by Christ. Certainly his mean­ing never was, that Children, and Idiots, and all who do not understand the School-terms, or perhaps have never heard them, should be therefore de­nyed Salvation.

As to what he objects to me, That it cannot be said of any one Di­mension, that it is a Cube, or a Body; whereas it is said of every Person, that he is God: He might observe, that I had already obvia­ted this Objection. For though we cannot say (in the Abstract) that length is a Cube, (and so of the rest;) yet (in the Concrete) this Long thing (or this which is Long) is a Cube; and so, this which is Broad, or this which is High, is a Cube: Just so; we do not say (in the Abstract) that Pater­nity is God; but (in the Concrete) the Father is God; (and so of the other Persons.) The Personality is not said to be God, but the Person is. Which fully answers that exception.

What he cites of a Learned Author falls not within the compass of what I undertook to defend; (and that learned Person will excuse me, if I do not pretend to understand all his Notions; and leave it to him to explain himself.) But what I have endeavoured to defend, is as much (I think) as we need to maintain in this point.

Where that Author calls it a Mistake to think that Knowledge and Power (in the same Man) are not the same thing: I suppose (not ha­ving the Book at hand) he means no more but this; That though they dif­fer indeed (to use the School-language) ex parte rei, yet not ut res & res, but rather ut modus & modus; that is, not as two Things, but as two Modes of the same thing. And if he should say the like of Length, Breadth and Thickness; I would not contend about it: For, even so, it will serve my Similitude well enough, If that of the three Persons be more than so: It is then (I think) such a Distinction as to which (in our Metaphysicks) [Page 8]we have not yet given a Name. But of this, I determine nothing (be­cause I would not spin the Thread too fine: And content my self to say, It is that, of the three Personalities in one Deity; without determining, How great that is. And I may the rather be allowed thus to forbear; Because I find, even in matters of ordinary Conversation (such as those but now mentioned) the School-men are not well agreed, what things shall be said to differ ut res & res, and what only ex parte rei. Much more, therefore may I be allowed a like latitude of thought in the present case.

I add no more but that I am

Yours, John Wallis.
FINIS.

Books Printed for, and Sold by Tho. Parkhurst, &c.

1. A Body of Practical Divinity, consisting of above 176 Sermons on the lesser Ca­techism; Composed by the Reverend Assembly of Divines at Westminster, &c. By Thomas Watson, formerly Minister of St Stephens Walbrook London.

2. A Paraphrase on the New Testament, with Notes Doctrinal and Practical by plain­ness and bervity; fitted to the use of Religious Families in their daily reading of the Scriptures; and of the Younger and Poorer sort of Schollars and Ministers who want fuller helps: By the late Reverend Mr. Richard Baxter.

3. Of free Justification by Christ, written first in Latin by John Fox, Author of the Book of Martyrs, against Osorius, and now Translated into English, &c.

4. A Calm and sober enquiry concerning the possibility of a Trinity in the God­head; in a Letter to a Person of VVorth, occasioned by the lately published consi­derations on the Explications of the Doctrine of the Trinity; by Dr. Wallis, Dr. Sher­lock, Dr. Sth, Dr. Cudworth, &c. Together with certain Letters (hitherto un­published) formerly written to the Reverend Dr. Wallis on the same Subject.

5. A Letter to a Friend, concerning a Postscript to the Defence of Dr. Sherlocks No­tion of the Trinity in Unity; relating to the calm and sober Enquiry upon the same Subject.

6. A View of that part of the late considerations addrest to H. H. about the Trinity, which concerns the sober Enquiry on that subject; in a Letter to the former Friend: These Three last by John Howe M. A.

7. The Confirming work of Religion, or its great things made plain by their prima­ry evidences and demonstrations, whereby the meanest in the Church may soon be made able to render a solid and rational account of their Faith; by R. Fleming Author of the Fulfilling of the Scripture.

8. An Earnest call to Family Religion, or a discourse concerning Family VVorship; being the substance of 18 Sermons, by Sam. Slater A. M.

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