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is communicated to him, which he had not originally of himself. A derived being, or person who is not self-originated, is just in other words, a dependent creature. Of this kind must our Lord Jesus Christ be, if his essence or personality is communicated to him, which is plainly taught in the doctrine of the scheme we are considering.
To suppose the terms begotten to signify that he derived his existence or personality (as it is commonly called) from the Father, and in the mean time to say, he is properly God, is directly contrary to the known principles of philosophy and natural reason itself, which there is not one article of truth that contradicts; for it supposes something derivative, and which is not self-existent in Deity; than which there can be nothing more repugnant to the self-evident notion, which reason itself suggests to us of true and proper Deity; for if we exclude self-existence and independency out of our conceptions of Deity, (which must be the case with respect to the Deity of Jesus Christ upon this plan) we leave nothing whereby it is distinguished from created existence; at least, we exclude the chief thing which distinguishes the one from the other in our notions of them.
By this part of the scheme, the proper Deity of the Lord Jesus, and the Holy Ghost, is unavoidably betrayed or given up to the enemies of that doctrine. It is impossible to defend it upon such a principle: and not only so, but there is the most glaring absurdity and contradiction in it. For, first, it is affirmed, that these so very different properties are natural to the manner in which the divine three exist in the essence; and yet their sameness in the essence is asserted ;--that they are the same in substance, perfection, and glory. Which affirmations are as different as any two propositions can be that contradict each other.
There can be no argument formed to prove that there are different properties in the divine three, whom revelation declares to be one. As far as we know these qualites, properties, and perfections ascribed to God in scripture, which appear different to us, may be one and the same in the view of God. And we are sure, that all perfections,—all that is ascribed to Deity, is ascribed to each of the divine three. Where then is either foundation for, or propriety in ascribing such different qualities or properties unknown in revelation to each of them, and then asserting, in the strongest terms, that these are as natural and necessary to each, as to be God? This must be shocking, when we consider that among men, these qualities which are ascribed to them admit of degrees; but how is it possible, that any thing of the kind can be ascribed in that manner to the infinite JehoVAH, who is absolutely beyond all degrees of comparison?
Though the unspeakable condescension of God is manifest, in revealing himself under relative characters, and expressing what he designed we should know of him by distinct (and to the carnal conception very different) attributes; yet we must not conceive, that these are in God, as qualities are in creatures, in whom power is different from wisdom, and so of all other. In God there cannot be this and that perfection, or different attribute, who is a simple, uncompounded, indivisible divine Being
It is said, these properties are only the modes of personal subsistence; it is certain there are three in Deity; but these three are one in name, nature,
and glory. What ground is there then to believe such a very different manner of subsistence, as evidently infers different degrees of personal perfections? Is not each of them all that God is? From whence then have we ground to believe such a difference of the divine nature in one more than in another? By a necessary consequence from the doctrine in the scheme, the divine nature primarily belongs to one person, and must be communicated to the other two. This not only introduceth a difference of personal glory among the divine three; but in effect says, there is none of them (at least the Son and Spirit) properly God; and if admitted it must be at the expence of the equality or sameness, and co-eternity of the three who are one; which can never be supported upon the supposition of these so very different qualities, or properties, mentioned in the human scheme, being applied to the divine nature of the Faiher, Word, and Holy Ghost; who are the same in substance, equal in name, perfections, and glory,
And as there is no authority in revelation for any such internal, natural, or necessary distinctions, which are so very different, and yet essential to their personal subsistence, as are alledged in the scheme; I cannot see how any man that has no other rule of faith than the scriptures, can obtain evidence sufficient to command his assent to such terms so applied.
It is abundantly evident from scripture, that with God there is neither prior, nor posterior; no superior, or inferior, when we speak of person or subsistence: but it will be difficult to determine, how this can be reconciled with the terms in the scheme, as first, second, and third, communicating of the essence, begetting in the essence, &c. no part of which has the least countenance in revelation; but invented by men to account for the distinction of the divine persons; while such terms restricted to Deity, (if they have any meaning at all so applied) destroy the proper Deity of each divine person. For such terms have not the least analogy to proper Deity, or what is commonly called selfexistence, except we were to judge by the rule of contraries, and for first, second, and third,—read, neither first, second, nor third; for communicated, read uncommunicated, &c. which conceptions are more agreeable to any account the Supreme Being hath given of himself in the sacred records, than these terms so much insisted on by the advocates for the divinity of the human scheme.
Must it not be the highest presumption in men to say positively more concerning God, than he hath been pleased to reveal of himself by attempting to give definitions of his nature, or the manner of his existence? A subject confessed by all, to be infinite and inconceivable. “ Surely it must be darkening wisdom with words without knowledge; and talking foolishly for God.” Language itself must fail, in every attempt to express the sublimity of it. Would the unmeaning prattle of an infant be sustained as a clear demonstration of the abstruse problems among astronomers? Infinitely less is the quintessence of all languages under heaven capable to demonstrate this inconceivable divine subject; and they certainly discredit the truth of its inconceivableness, who begin to investigate, or define it in terms of human invention; for that moment any one is capable to conceive it, he must either be endowed with infinite capacity, or it must cease to be an infinite mystery.
The nature of God is not a subject of definition; nor can it be apprehended by one adequate conception or notion. AD definitions limit the subject defined; but God is infinite, and cannot be limited by definition. Nor can the compound finite capacity of creatures apprehend the simple infinite nature of God. Consequently to attempt a definition of the nature of God, must be a daring insult upon his infinite majesty,—an attempt to limit him within the bounds of finite comprehension,---and supposes him only a creature like ourselves. Can any one then imagine it equitable for any number of men to compose an explication of this subject, independent on revelation, and impose it on the consciences of their fellow men, by requiring an implicit belief of it as a term of communion in the church of Christ?
I SHALL now more particularly observe some things relating to that part of the scheme, which concerns the sonship of the Lord Jesus Christ. And first, I observe that the terin God, when used in scripture to denote the Supreme Being, generally includes the three special denominations of his character, by which he discovers himself to us in the work of our salvation; which are these of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, unless when one of these denominations is predicated to point out one of the sacred three.
The scriptures intimate, that the divine plurality are as necessary, according to what they teach us concerning the being and existence of God, as the divine nature which is but one; and as the word God points out to us all that is in God, then it must follow, that one person cannot be a cause in