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version of the pagan world, and by the pro- | Spirit, do not proceed in this manner. Are not gress of the gospel, and which can find no these ideas contradictory? No, my brethren. parallel in the religion of Mahomet, propagat- If we should say, that God has but one esed with the sword, as is confessed by his fol- sence, and that he has three essences, in the lowers, who say, that he fought sixty battles, same sense that we maintain he has but one; and called himself the military prophet. Where- if we should say, that God is three in the as Christianity was established by the prodigies same sense he is one, it would be a contradicof the Spirit, and by force of argument. The tion. But this is not our thesis. We believe mysteries of the gospel are not therefore in the on the faith of a divine book, that God is one first class, which render a religion suspected. in the sense to which we give the confused They do not conceal its origin. This is what name of essence. We believe that he is three we proposed to prove.
in a sense to which we give the confused name II. Mysteries should expose a religion to of persons. We determine neither what is this suspicion, when they imply an absurdity. Yes, essence, nor what is this personality. That surand if Christianity notwithstanding the lumin- passes reason but does not revolt it
. ous proofs of its divine authority; notwith- If we should say, that God in the sense we standing the miracles of its founder; notwith-have called Essence, is become incarnate, and standing the sublimity of its doctrines; notwith at the same time this notion is not incarnate, standing the sanctity of its moral code, the we should advance a contradiction. But this completion of its prophecies, the magnificence is not our thesis. We believe on the faith of of its promises; notwithstanding the convinc- a divine book, that what is called the person ing facts which prove that the books contain of the Son in the Godhead, and of which we ing this religion were written by men divinely confess that we have not a distinct idea, is inspired; notwithstanding the number and the united to the humanity in a manner we cannot grandeur of its miracles; notwithstanding the determine, because it has not pleased God to confession of its adversaries, and its public reveal it. This surpasses reason, but does not monuments; if it was possible, notwithstand- revolt it. ing all this, should the Christian religion in- If we should advance, that God (the Spirit) clude absurdities, it ought to be rejected. Be in the sense we have called Essence, proceeds cause,
from the Father and the Son, while the Father Every character of the divinity here adduc- and the Son do not proceed, we should advance. ed, is founded on argument. Whatever is de- a contradiction. But this is not our thesis. monstrated to a due degree of evidence ought We believe on the credit of a divine book, to be admitted without dispute. The proofs that what is called the Holy Spirit in the Godof the divine authority of religion are demon- head, and of which we confess we have no strated to that degree; therefore the Christian distinct idea, because it has not pleased God religion ought to be received without dispute. to give it, has procession ineffable, while what But were it possible that a contradiction should is called the Father and the Son, differing exist; were it possible that a proposition, ap- from the Holy Spirit in that respect, do not pearing to us evidently false, should be true, proceed. This surpasses reason, but does not ovidence would no longer then be the charac- revolt it. ter of truth, and if evidence should no longer We go even farther. We maintain not only be the character of truth, you would have no that there is no contradiction in those docfarther marks by which you could know that a trines, but that a contradiction is impossible. religion is divine. Consequently, you could What is a contradiction in regard to us? It is not be assured, that the gospel is divine. To an evident opposition between two known me, nothing is more true than this proposition, ideas. For instance, I have an idea of this pula whole is greater than a part. I would reject a pit, and of this wall. I see an essential differreligion how true soever it might appear, if it ence between the two. Consequently, I find a contradicted this fact; because, how evident contradiction in the proposition, that this wall, soever the proofs might be alleged in favour and this pulpit are the same being. of its divinity, they could never be more evi- Such being the nature of a contradiction, I dent than the rejected proposition, that a whole say, it is impossible that any should be found is greater than a part. Our proposition is there in this proposition, that there is one divine esfore confirmed, that mysteries ought to render sence in three persons: to find a contradiction, a religion suspected when they imply absurdi- it is requisite to have a distinct idea of what I ties. We wish you to judge of the Christian call essence, and of what I call person: and, as religion according to this rule.
I profess to be perfectly ignorant of the one, Now if there be in our gospels a doctrine and the other, it is impossible I should find an concerning which a good logician has apparent absurdity. When, therefore, I affirm, that cause to exclaim, it is this; a God, who has there is a divine essence in three persons, I do but one essence, and who nevertheless has not pretend to explain either the nature of the three persons; the Son, and the Holy Spirit unity, or the nature of the Trinity: I pretend who is God; and these three are but one. The to advance only that there is something in God Father, who is with the Son, does not become which surpasses me, and which is the basis of incarnate, when the Son becomes incarnate. this proposition; viz. there is a Father, a Son, The Son, who is with the Father, no longer and a Holy Spirit. maintains the rights of justice in Gethsemane, But though the Christian religion be fully when the Father maintains them. The Holy exculpated for teaching doctrines which destroy Spirit, who is with the Father and the Son, themselves, the Church of Rome cannot be jusproceeds from both in a manner ineffable: and tified, whatever efforts her greatest geniuses the Father and the Son, who is with the Holy I may make, in placing the doctrine of the Trini
ty, on the parallel with the doctrine of tran- from what we said at the commencement of substantiation, and in defending it against us this article. A Roman Catholic, consonant to with the same argument with which we defend his principles, has no right to believe the divine the other against unbelievers.
authority of the Christian religion, for the eviWere we, I allow, to seek the faith of the dences of Christianity terminate on this princichurch of Rome in the writings of some indi- ple, that evidence is the character of truth. vidual doctors, this doctrine would be less lia- But if the doctrine of transubstantiation be ble to objections. Some of them have express- true, palpable absurdities ought to be believed ed themselves, on this subject, in an undeter- by the Roman Catholic; evidence, in regard to mined way; and have avoided detail. They him, being no longer the character of truth. say in general, that the body of Christ is in the If evidence in regard to him be no longer the sacrament of the eucharist, and that they do character of truth, proofs the most evident in not presume to define the manner.
favour of Christianity, can carry no conviction But we must seek the faith (and it is the to him, and he is justified in not believing method which all should follow who have a them. controversy to maintain against those of that I go farther still; I maintain to the most communion;) we must, I say, seek the faith of zealous defender of the doctrine of transubstanthe church of Rome in the decisions of her ge- tiation, that properly speaking, he does not be neral councils, and not in the works of a few lieve the doctrine of transubstantiation. He individuals. And as the doctors of the council may indeed verbally assert his faith, but he can of Trent lived in a dark age, in which philoso- never satisfy his conscience: he may indeed bephy had not purified the errors of the schools, cloud his mind by a confusion of ideas, but he they had the indiscretion, not only to deter- can never induce it to harmonize contradictory mine, but also to detail this doctrine; and there- ideas: he may indeed inadvertently adhere to by committed themselves by a manifest contra- this proposition, a body having but a limited cirdiction. Hear the third canon of the third ses- cumference, is at the same time in heaven, and at sion of the council of Trent. “If any one the same time on earth, with the same circumfedeny, that in the venerable sacrament of the rence. But no man can believe this doctrine, eucharist, the body of Christ is really present if by believing, you mean the connecting of in both kinds, and in such sort that the body distinct ideas; for no man whatever can connect of Christ is wholly present in every separate together both distinct and contradictory. part of the host, let him be anathematized.” III. We have said in the third place, that
Can one fall into a more manifest contradic- mysteries should render a religion suspected, tion? If you should say, that the bread is de- when they hide certain practices contrary to stroyed, and that the body of Christ intervenes virtue and good manners. This was a characby an effort of divine omnipotence, you might teristic of paganism. The pagans for the most perhaps shelter yourself from the reproach of part affected a great air of inystery in their absurdity; you might escape under the plea of religious exercises. They said, that mystery mystery, and the limits of the human mind. conciliated respect for the gods. Hence, diBut to affirm that the substance of the bread is viding their mysteries into two classes, they destroyed, while the kinds of bread, which are had their major and their minor mysteries, still but the same bread, modified in such a But all these were a covert for impurity! Who manner, subsist, is not to advance a mystery, can read without horror the mysteries of the but an absurdity. It is not to prescribe bounds god Apis, even as they are recorded in pagan to the human mind, but to revolt its convic- authors? What infamous ceremonies did they tions, and extinguish its knowledge.
not practise in honour of Venus, when initiated If you should say, that the body of Christ, into the secrets of the Goddess? What mystewhich is in heaven, passes in an instant from rious precautions did they not adopt concerning heaven to earth, you might perhaps shelter the mysteries of Ceres in the city of Eleusis yourself from the reproach of absurdity, and No man was admitted without mature expeescape under the plea of mystery, and of the rience, and a long probation. It was so estalimits of the human mind. But to affirm, that blished, that those who were not initiated, the body of Christ, while it is wholly in hea- could not participate of the secrets. Nero did ven, is wholly on earth, is not to advance a not dare to gratify his curiosity on this head;* mystery, but to maintain a contradiction. It and the wish to know secrets allowed to be disis to revolt all its convictions, and to extinguish closed only by gradual approach, was regarded all its knowledge.
as a presumption. It was forbidden under the If you should that some parts of the penalty of death to disclose those mysteries, body of Jesus Christ are detached, and mixed and solely, if we may believe Theodoret, and with the symbols of the holy sacrament, you Tertullian, to hide the abominable ceremonies, might perhaps avert the charge of contradic- whose detail would defile the majesty of this tion, and escape under the plea of mystery, place. And if the recital would so deeply deand the limits of the human mind. But to af- file, what must the practice be? firm, that the body of Christ is but one in num- The mysteries of Christianity are infinitely ber, and meanwhile, that it is perfect and en- distant from all those infamous practices. The tire in all the parts of the host, which are with-gospel not only exhibits a most hallowing moout number, is not to advance a mystery, it is rality, but whatever mysteries it may teach, it to maintain a contradiction. It is not to pre- requires that we should draw from their very scribe bounds to the human mind, but to revolt obscurity motives to sanctity of life. If we say, all its convictions, and to extinguish all its that there are three persons who participate in knowledge.
So you may indeed conclude, my brethren, * Life of Nero by Suetonius, chap. 34.
Do you espouse the part of irreligion? Do
disdain to govern them? How do you reply to
most sublime, that ever appeared on earth?
of the world; and of the perfections of God; of
gloss to the apostle's words, that
in all naTo these difficulties which we avow, join all tions he that feareth God is aceepted of him?” those we do not avow. Join all the pretexts Acts x. 35. And is this the system which is you affect to find in the arguments which na- exempt from difficulties? How, superseding the ture affords of the being of a God, and the re-authority of the Bible, will you maintain this ality of a providence. Join thereto whatever principle? How will you maintain it against you shall find the most forcible against the au- the terrors God denounces against the base, thenticity of our sacred books, and what has “and the fearful," Rev. xxi. 8; against the inbeen thought the most plausible against the junction “to go out of Babylon; against the marks of Divine authority exhibited in those duty prescribed of consessing him in presence Scriptures. Join to these all the advantages of all men,” Isa. xlviii. 20; Matt. 2. 32; and presumed to be derived from the diversity of with regard to the fortitude he requires us to opinions existing in the Christian world, and in display on the rack, and when surrounded with all its sects which constantly attack one another. fire and fagots, and when called to brave them Make a new code of all these difficulties. — for the sake of truth! How will you maintain Form a system of your own objections. Draw it against the care he has taken to teach you the conclusions from your own principles, and the truth without any mixture of lies? build an edifice of infidelity on the ruins of re- Do you take the part of believing nothing? ligion. But for what system can you decide Do you conclude from these difficulties, that which is not infinitely less supportable than re- the best system is to have none at all. Obstiligion?
nate Pyrrhonian, you are then resolved to doubt Do you espouse that of atheism? Do you of all! And is this the system which is exempt say, that the doctrine of the being of a God from difficulties? When you shall be agreed owes its origin to superstition and the fears of with yourself; when you have conciliated your men? And is this the system which has no dif- ! singular system with the convictions of your
mind, with the sentiments of your heart, and it is not from their approbation that they derive with the dictates of your conscience, then you their authority. Meanwhile, it is a felicity, we shall see what we have to reply.
must confess, and an anticipation of the happy What then shall you do to find a light with period when our faith shall be changed to sight, out darkness, and an evidence to your mind to find in sound reason the basis of all the grand Do you take ihe part of the libertine? Do you truths religion reveals, and to convince ourabandon to colleges the care of religion, and selves by experience, that the more we know leaving the doctors to waste life deciding who of man, the more we see that religion was made is wrong, and who is right, are you determined for man. Let us return to our first principle. as to yourself to rush head foremost into the The narrow limits of the human mind shall world Do you say with the profane, “Let us open one source of light on the subject we diseat and drink, for lo-morrow we die?" Do you cuss; they shall convince us, that minds cirenjoy the present without pursuing uncertain cumscribed, as ours, cannot before the time pe rewards, and alarming your mind with fears of netrate far into the adorable mysteries of faith. miseries which perhaps may never come? And We have elsewhere distinguished three faculis this the system destitute of mysteries? Is this ties in the mind of man, or rather three classes the system preferred to what is said by our apos- of faculties which comprise whatever we know tles, our evangelists, our doctors, our pastors, and of this spirit; the faculty of thinking; the faculty by all the holy men God has raised up for the of feeling; and the faculty of loving. Examine perfecting of the saints, and for the work of the these three faculties, and you will be convinced ministry?" But though the whole of your ob- that the mind of man is circumscribed within jections were founded; though the mysteries of narrow bounds; they are so closely circumthe gospel were a thousand times more difficult scribed, that while attentively contemplating a to penetrate; though our knowledge were in- certain object, they cannot attend to any other. comparably more circumscribed; and though You experience this daily with regard to the religion should be infinitely less demonstrated faculty of thinking. Some persons, I allow, than it is; should this be the part you ought to extend attention much beyond common men; take? The sole probability of religion, should but in all it is extremely confined. This is so it not induce us, if not to believe it, yet at least, received an opinion, that we regard as prodigies Bo to act, as if in fact we did believe it And of intellect, those who have the art of attending the mere alternative of an eternal happiness, or closely to two or three objects at once; or of dian eternal misery, should it not suffice to re- recting the attention, without a glance of the strict us within the limits of duty, and to regu- eye, on any game, apparently less invented to late our life, in such sort, that if there be a hell, unbend than to exercise the mind. Meanwhile, wę may avoid its torments?
this power is extremely limited in all men. If We conclude. Religion has its mysteries; the mind can distinctly glance on two or three we acknowledge it with pleasure. Religion has objects at once, the fourth or the fifth confounds its difficulties; we avow it. Religion is shook it. Properly to study a subject, we must attend (we grant this for the moment to unbelievers, to that alone; be abstracted from all others, though we detest it in our hearts,) religion is forgetful of what we do, and blind to what we shook, and ready to fall by brilliant wits. But see. after all, the mysteries of the gospel are not of The faculty of feeling is as circumscribed as that cast which should render a religion doubt that of thinking. One sensation absorbs or diful. But after all, Christianity all shook, all minishes another. A wound received in the wavering, and ready to fall, as it may appear heat of battle; in the tumult, or in the sight of to the infidel, contains what is most certain, and the general whose approbation we seek, is less the wisest part a rational man can take, is to acute than it would be on a different occasion. adhere to it with an inviolable attachment. For the like reason the same pain we have
But how evident soever these arguments may borne during the day, is insupportable in the be, and however strong this apology for the night. Violent anguish renders us insensible difficulties of religion may appear, there always of a diminutive pain. Whatever diverts from remains a question on this subject, and indeed a pleasing sensation diminishes the pleasure, an important question, which we cannot omit and blunts enjoyment; and this is done by the resolving without leaving a chasm in this dis reason already assigned; that while the faculty course. Why these mysteries? Why these sha- is attentive to one object, it is incapable of apdows And why this darkness? Does not the plication to another. goodness of God engage to remove this stum- It is the same with regard to the faculty of bling-block, and to give us a religion radiant loving. It rarely happens that a man can inwith truth, and destitute of any obscuring veil? dulge two or three leading passions at once: There are various reasons, my brethren, which “No man can serve two masters: for either he render certain doctrines of religion impene- will hate the one, and love the other; or else he trable to us.
will hold to the one, and despise the other." The first argument of the weakness of our So is the assertion of Jesus Christ, who knew knowledge is derived from the limits of the hu- the human heart better than all the philosophers man mind. It is requisite that you should fa- put together. The passion of avarice, for the vour me here with a little more of recollection most part, diminishes the passion of glory; and than is usually bestowed on a sermon. It is not the passion of glory, diminishes that of avarice. requisite to be a philosopher to become a Chris- It is the same with the other passions. tian. The doctrines of our religion, and the Besides, not only an object engrossing a faprecepts of our moral code, are sanctioned by culty, obstructs its profound attention to any the testimony of an infallible God: and not de other object related to that faculty; but when a riving their origin from the speculations of men, faculty is deeply engrossed by an object, all
others, if I may so speak, remain in solitude, and of the knowledge of God; how unsearchable
And with the prophet, "Lord, open thou mine
which excite certain emotions in my brain, and