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elfe, what plan Mr. Fletcher intended to have pursued in the further prosecution of the fubje£t. But after more maturely considering the matter, it appeared that this would by no means answer the end the pious Author had in view in begin. ning this work, as he did not seem to have pro. ceeded far enough to have formed what could be called a proper Vindication of the doctrine of Christ's divinity. It was judged necessary therefore, to carry the argument a little further to render the work, in any. tolerable degree, compleat. In doing this, as I could form no judgment concerning Mr. Fletcher's intentions, I have been under a necessity of pursuing that plan, which seemed most likely to answer the end proposed; endeavouring, however, to preserve such a connexion between the part I have added, and that which Mr. Fletcher had written, that the whole might appear one continued treatise, and not a kind of paich work.
3. As to the style, indeed, the Reader will doubtless observe a material difference between what is mine, and that which is Mr. Fletcher's and will regret that (for the present, at least) he must take leav. of fo entertaining, as well as in. stru Stive, a writer, as the ingenious Author of the Checks, so early, as at the conclusion of the fourila Chapter, and join company with one much less able to mix ihe agreeable with the useful, and render a needful and profitable subject allo pleasing : truth, however, is of more consequence than the garb in which it appears; and, in what I have written, I have chiefly attended to that; and, therefore, have endeavoured, in imitation of the very pious, and truly Reverend Author of these unfinished papers, to keep close to the Scriptures as my guide, and that both with respect to fentiment and expression. It seems to me to be a
dangerous thing, especially in a subject of such importance, concerning which we can know no. thing but by revelation, to depart froin the Bible, or to go a hair's brealth further thin God bath' therein plainly revealed, or than we can fairly infer from what he hath so revealed. I am fully persuaded, that most of the errors and controver. fies, which have darkened, perplexed, and divided the Church, in all ages, respecting this matter, have arisen from a delire to be wise above what is written, not being contented with the information God hath seen fit to give us in his holy word, the sole rule of faith as well as practice.
4. It is undoubtedly a most delirable thing to know as much as we can concerning the perfon of our adorable Saviour, on whom all our hopes depend: but after all we can know, liis person is, and will remain a mystery. Of this, the Scriptures fail not to give us warning. Wherefore enquirest thou after my name ? (lays he, Judges xiii. 18 ) seeing it is secret, or üon derful, as the word osa allo means. His name, (lays Isaiah, ch. ix. 6.) fhall be called xsa, wonderful, or fecret. He hath á nam: written which no one knoweth but himself, faith St. John, knoweth the Son, lays the Lord Jesus, but the Father, even as no one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveill him. It is true, he has revealed bimself, in some degree, by his Apostles and Prophets, and reveals himself Aill more, or rather gives us the true understanding of what he has revealed, by the inward illu. mination of his Spirit. But this respects his offices sather than his person ; what he is to us and the rest of ihe creatures, rather ihan what he is in kimself. And to know this, viz. what he is to us, as it not concerns us, so it is the principal
thing meant in Scripture by the knowledge of Christ.
5. And I may say the same concerning the knowledge of the Father, and of the Holy Spirit, It does not consist in having abstracted and fpeculative ideas of the nature and attributes of God, and the distinctions in the divine essence; but is the beholding (as St. Paul says, 2 Cor. iii. 18.) with open, VOHEX & Alighibh Ew, with unvailed face, (the vail of unbelief being rent from our minds) in the glass of his word and works, and especially in the perlon of his Son, his glory, so as io be changed into the fame image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord. Surely he only knows the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who being made his child by adop.ion and grace, and haying the Spirit of adoption fent into his heart, crying, Abba Father, fo beholds what manner of love the father hath bestowed upon him, as to love God who hath first loved him. For he that loveth not, knoweth not God, for God is love; whereas he that loveth, and only lie, is born of God and knoweth God. He only knows the Lord
Jefus, who knows him as the way, the truth, and the life; as the way, through whom he comes to the Father, as the truth, whose testimony he fully re. ceives, and on whose veracity he absolutely depends; and the life, who has quickened his soul, dead in sin, and by his grace made him a living branch in himself the living vine, a living member in his myftical body, vitally united to the living head. And he only knows the Holy Spirit, who being born of him, and possessed of his witness and this fruits, even love, joy, peace, long-suffering, gentleness, goodness
, fidelity, zneckness, temperance, is become a temple of the Holy Ghost, a habitua tion of God through the Spirit.
6. On the other hand, where there is this wanting, whatever specula ive knowledge we may have of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, and of their natures and relations to each other, we are properly unacquainted with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity, and hare not received that real benefit from it, which the revelation of it was designed 10 produce. Nay, and for any spiritual or saving advantage we derive from it, it might as well not have been revealed to us. Thus Dr. Jer. Taylor, " He that goes about to speak of the mystery of the Trinity, and does it by words and names of man's invention, talking offences, and exiftences, hypoftafes, and personalties, priorities in coequalities, &c. and unity in pluraliiies; may amuse himself, and build a tabernacle in his head, and talk someşhing he knows not whạt: but the good milan that feels the power of the Father, and 10 whom the Son iş become, wisdom, righteoulness, fan&tification, and redemption, and in whose heart the love of the Spirit of God is shed abroad, this man, though he understands nothing of what is unintelligible, yet he alone truly underhands the Christian doctrine of the Trinity." Jer. Taylor on John vii. 17.
7. The Apoille teaches us the true knowledge and use of this doctrine, and at the same time informs us who they are that understand it aright, (when (Eph. ii. 18.) he says, Through him, viz. Christ, the only Mediator between God and man, we both, Jews and Gentiles, have access by one Spirit unto the Father. But when this is not our experience, when we do not approach, or have not access to the Father, through him, and by the Spirit; when we are frangers to the inLuence of the Holy Spirit upon the soul, and of consequence are devoid both of true repentance and /aving faith, which are both of the operation
of God; (see Col. ii, 12, 13.)---whe”, though we have free liberty to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus, in that new and living way which he hath confecrated for us, through the vail, that is to say, his flesh, and have a great high Priest over the house of God; yet we do not use our liberty, and draw near with a true heari in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, as well as our bodies washed with pure water;
when we do not believe in Chrift
, urth our heart unto righteousness, so as 'o be justified by faith in Christ, find peace with God, and obtain the love of God shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Groft given to us,-ihen is the whole doctrine of Chrift concerning the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, hid from us, or abused by us.
8. There is indeed one 'mysical body of Christ, but we do not belong to it, are not meinbers of it; one Spirit, but we have not received him, he does not dwel in us, does not quicken and renew our souls: there is one Lord, but we are not subject to him, he does not reign in and over us, and therefore he is not our Lord; one faith in that one Lord, even a faith working by love, purifying the heart, and overcoming the world, but we have it not; one baptism, but we are not bapsized with it, or if we have had the hgn, have not had the thing fignified thereby, even a death unto fin, and a new birth unto righteousness; there is one God and Father of all, who in and through ihat one Lord, and by that one Spirit, is above all,, and through all, and in all real believers ; but he is not our Father, nor are we his children, nor do we worship him in spirit and in truth.
9. This, I apprehend, is that ignorance or denial of the blefled Trinity---which is most to be dreaded, because most deftrućtive. It leaves the