by John Howe
COLLECTED OUT OF THE FOREGOING DISCOURSES,
MORE BRIEFLY OFFERING TO VIEW THE SUBSTANCE OF WHAT IS CONTAINED IN THEM
1. OF the unity of the Godhead there can be no doubt, it being in reason demonstrable, and most expressly, often asserted in Scripture.
2. That there is a trinity in the Godhead, of Father, Son or Word, and Holy Ghost, is the plain, obvious sense of so many Scriptures, that it apparently tends to frustrate the design of the whole Scripture revelation, and to make it useless, not to admit this trinity, or otherwise to understand such Scriptures.
3. That therefore the devising any other sense of such Scriptures ought by no means to be attempted, unless this trinity in the Godhead can be evidently demonstrated to be impossible.
4. That the impossibility of it can never be demonstrated from the mere unity of the Godhead, which may be such as to admit these distinctions in it, for aught we know.
5. Nothing is more appropriate to the Godhead than to be a necessarily existent, intelligent Being; since all creatures, whether intelligent or unintelligent, are contingent, depending upon the will of the necessary, intelligent Being.
6. If therefore, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost do co-exist in the Godhead necessarily, they cannot but be God.
7. And if the first be conceived as the fountain, the second as by natural, necessary (not voluntary) promanation from the first, the third by natural, necessary (not voluntary) spiration, so as that neither of these latter could have been otherwise; this aptly agrees with the notions of Father, Son, and Spirit distinctly put upon them, and infinitely distinguishes the two latter from all creatures that depend upon will and pleasure.
8. Whatever distinction there be of these three among themselves, yet the first being the Original, the second being by that promanation necessarily and eternally united with the first, the third by such spiration united necessarily and eternally with both the other; inasmuch as eternity and necessity of existence admit no change, this union must be inviolable and everlasting, and thereupon the Godhead which they constitute, can be but one.
9. We have among the creatures, and even in ourselves, instances of very different natures continuing distinct, but so united as to be one thing; and it were more easily supposable of congenerous natures.
10. If such union with distinction be impossible in the Godhead, it must not be from any repugnancy in the thing itself, since very intimate union, with continuing distinction, is in itself no impossible thing; but from somewhat peculiar to the Divine Being.
11. That peculiarity, since it cannot be unity, (which because it may admit distinctions in one and the same thing, we are not sure it cannot be so in the Godhead) must be that simplicity commonly wont to be ascribed to the divine nature.
12. Such simplicity as shall exclude that distinction, which shall appear necessary in the present case, is not by express Scripture any where ascribed to God; and therefore must be rationally demonstrated of him, if it shall be judged to belong at all to him.
13. Absolute simplicity is not a perfection, nor is by any ascribed to God: not by the Socinians themselves, who ascribe to him the several intellectual and moral excellencies, that are attributed to him in the Scripture,—of which they give very different definitions, as may be seen in their own Volkelius at large,—which should signify them not to be counted, in al respects, the same thing.
14. That is not a just consequence, which is the most plausible one that seems capable of being alleged for such absolute simplicity, that otherwise there would be a composition admitted in the divine nature, which would import an imperfection inconsistent with Deity. For the several excellencies that concur in it, howsoever distinguished, being never put together, nor having ever existed apart, but in eternal, necessary union, though they may make some sort of variety, import no proper composition, and carry with them more apparent perfection than absolute omnimodous simplicity can be conceived to do.
15. Such a supposed possible variety even of individual natures in the Deity, some way differing from each other, infers not an unbounded liberty of conceiving what pluralities therein we please or can imagine. The divine revelation, which could only justify, doth also limit us, herein, mentioning three distinct I's or He's, and no more.
16. The several attributes which are common to these three, do, to our apprehension and way of conceiving things, require less distinction; no more, for aught we know, than may arise from their being variously modified, according to the distinction of objects, or other extrinsical things, to which they may be referred.
We that so little know how our own souls, and the powers and principles that belong to them do differ from one another, and from them, must be supposed more ignorant, and should be less curious, in this.