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EXTRACTS FROM A LETTER ON THE TRINITY, BY NON QUIS, SED QUID. A. D. 1694.
1st, There is nothing, with submission to the learned writers who have so much vexed this controversy, more unaccountable and absurd than their jangling and wrangling about the meaning of the word person. It is a great argument they have forgot, or do not believe the Athanasian Creed, which saith, We are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person to be by himself God.' And if a person was any thing but God, or not the same with God, it would be ido
latry to worship him. Is it not a demonstration that those that pay the highest adoration to a person, have no different ideas of God and a Divine Person, but, by adoring him, do acknowledge him to be God? And is not a Divine Person an Uncreate, Eternal, Incomprehensible, Almighty Being? And what is God, but such a Being? We cannot have a higher idea of God, than that he is such a Person; and to frame any other, it must be one that is lower, and consequently blasphemy against God. Were there any thing more in God than in a Divine Person, he could not be God.
2d, If a man is an animal, all that is in the idea of animal must be contained in that of man, otherwise he could not be an animal. Man is no other animal than that which is rational; a man is a rational animal, and a rational animal is a man: they are convertible terms, and are only different words to express the same being. So a Divine Person and God are convertible terms; for there cannot be more in the idea of God than of a Divine Person, "because he is God; and it is as evident
that there is nothing contained in the idea of a Divine Person that is not contained in that of God; to affirm the contrary, would be so far from making God three persons, that there would be something wanting to make him one person.
3d, I must desire of you to inform me, how it is possible, since God and a Divine Person are the very same being, that there should be three persons and but one God. To say that each person by himself, that is, singly and distinct from others, is God, and yet all three together are but one God, is to say a single person is and is not God. In affirming God is three persons, and yet one person is God, you affirm that there are three and not three persons contained in the idea of God. And does not the creed make it damnation to believe any difference or distinction between God and a single person, because that must be denying each person is God? And does it not also make it damnation not to believe a difference, nay, so great a one as that three of the first are but one of the last? So that this good, charitable creed only damns all those that cannot
believe a divine person is and is not the same with God. If God be not three persons, then there is an end of the Trinity; and if he be three, then a single person is not God, because God is three persons.
4th, If these things must not be called contradictions, they must at least be allowed to be unintelligible, and consequently can never be the subject-matter of belief; and do not people, like parrots, repeat these propositions without apprehending them? Is it not saying a thing, and then unsaying it again, which is saying nothing at all? If the last clause is to be believed, the first cannot, because the last is a negation of the first; and if the first is to be believed, for that very reason the last cannot.
5th, That can never be revealed unto man, which he is not capable of understanding; and if all must be damned that do not believe the Athanasian Creed, the compiler himself cannot avoid that fate.
6th, In short, can there be a more absurd attempt than to endeavour to prove there are three divine persons, each of
whom is God, and yet but one God? Because the arguments that prove there is but one God, must prove that there is but one divine person, because God and a divine person are the same; and on the contrary, the arguments that prove three persons, must prove three Gods, because a person is God.
7th, If the Father is an infinite, allperfect being, and if the Son is distinct from the Father, he must, if he be a God, be a distinct, infinite, all-perfect being ; for the same being can be no ways distinct from himself, and certainly two distinct, all-perfect beings are two distinct Gods.
8th, If the Son is the same God, as he is that created a Son, he must create a Son too, except the same God did and did not create a Son; but if he created a Son, he created himself, which is creating nothing at all, because he himself must be before he could act.
9th, If God be three persons, and each person is God, there must be nine persons; because each single person must be three persons, otherwise he could not be