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any sense whatsoever of the personality or existence of another; and none of these persons can be called the Son of God, in that sense which it is necessary for him to be God; seeing he must be included in the term God. This does not hinder him from being Son of God in another sense, viz. the relation he undertook in divine condescension, to fulfil the purposes of Jehovah concerning men, which was not absolutely necessary to the being and existence of God.
Now, where Christ is called the Son of God, if the term God be taken for the Deity, this will destroy the scheme, for then he will be the Son of the essence: but according to it, he is the Son of one person in the essence, by a communication of the essence. If this is so, it must follow, that wheresoever the Son of God is mentioned, the term God must be restricted to one person, viz. the Fa ther, exclusive of the other two. Does not this plainly suppose, that the Father only is God? That is to say, he is God in such a sense, as neither of the other two persons are; which is the very soul of that doctrine commonly called Arianism: for men of that denomination grant the Word and Holy Ghost to be God, not in the same, but an inferior sense to that in which the Father is God; hence, agreeable to this scheme, they reason thus: “ Christ is the Son of God as to his divine person; but the term God is to be restricted to the person of the Father: therefore, he only is God in the highest sense of the word.” Now if these premises hold, the inference is good; for if Christ, as to his divine person, is the Son of another person in Deity, he cannot be God in the same sense, as a Son, that the other who begat his divine person is as a Father.
Thus it is evident, that the Arian doctrine by necessary consequence is countenanced in the pretended orthodox scheme: but, I hope the shame of thus yielding the glorious cause of Christ's proper divinity, by such incoherent notions so far from scripture, and beyond the sphere of human conception, as not to be made either good divinity or good sense, will rouse the lovers of his honor to the vindication of it from revelation itself, where it is abundantly evident to every unprejudiced enquirer.
2. It is maintained in the scheme, that it is peculiarly proper to the Lord Jesus, to have his divine personality from another. If this is so, it must be either from the divine essence, or from the person of the Father: if the former, then he is the Son of the essence, and is no more from the Father, than the Father is from him: and if the divine essence is the Father of our Lord Jesus, then he is as much the Son of himself, and the Holy Ghost, as of the Father: since the essence or divine nature is common to all the three. But though this is allowed in one part of the scheme, it cannot be admitted consistent with this part of it; for here the personality of the Son is limited to the communication of the essence from the Father, which not only contradicts some other parts of it, but manifestly vests a supremacy in the Father, and appropriates a derived personality to the Son, which destroys his proper Deity.
It cannot be denied, that every effect must in point of time be posterior or after its cause. Consequently every effect must have a beginning. Filiation, or sonship, is an effect, and therefore must have had a beginning. Now, if one in Deity be naturally and necessarily a Son, it will as necessarily follow that his nature is derived: since that is affirmed to be natural to him which is an effect, and must be derived. Every kind of derivation supposeth the beginning of the thing derived: but generation, (according to all the ideas we can have of generation) is one kind of derivation, and must necessarily suppose a beginning of that which is generated. Consequently to put eternal to generation with reference to time past, is a direct contradiction, and is the same as if we should say, the beginningless beginning of any thing; which is no more a contradiction in terms than eternal generation is.
If the Lord Jesus Christ had the divine nature communicated to him,-if he is naturally and necessarily a Son,--and was generated as a divine person, he must be derived, as he is not without an external cause of existence, and so cannot be self-existent; and if he is not without an external cause of existence, he must have had a beginning, is posterior to some other being, and consequently is not eternal à parte ante.
There are but two ways any person can exist; either naturally, necessarily, and independently, which we call self-existence; or, by some external cause, at the pleasure and will of another. It is an absolute truth that the Lord Jesus Christ selfexists, as I proved formerly. But a communicated personality, is the direct opposite of necessary existence: hence, there is no tolerable sense the terms in the scheme will bear, but that the Lord Jesus Christ is a derived being, who exists at the pleasure of God his Father; which is the most that ever any Arian did plead for.
3. The argument mentioned, p. 206, in favor of Christ's economical sonship, effectually destroys the notion of sonship by an eternal generation. All the fundamental articles of faith necessary to salvation, are plain, familiar, easy to be understood, and clearly revealed in the word of God; but the belief of Christ being the Son of God, is made necessary to salvation; therefore, it must be easy to be understood, and clearly revealed in the word of God. Now, to take his sonship for an eternal generation of the divine person of the Lord Jesus, by the person of the Father, is what no man ever professed to upderstand any thing about: but even by all the supporters thereof, it is acknowledged to be an ineffable, unconceivable mystery: which nevertheless, would not make it false, was it matter of divine revelation. Had God made known the truth of it, we were then bound to believe it, though we could not define the manner of it. But for my own part, I freely confess, after many years' search, I never could find, and I suppose it would puzzle the whole world to find, the least hint of any eternal generation in all the word of God. There is not one text, where the Lord Jesus is called the ETERNAL Son of God, or that he was begotten from eternity. That he is the EteRNAL God, is manifest from abundance of scriptures; but that he is an eternal Son, the divine oracles no where insinuate. Eternal generation is merely the product of man's invention: for it cannot be gathered from revelation by the remotest consequence.
'Tis true the doctrine of the trinity,--the union of the nature of God and man, in the person of Emanuel,--and the union of the saints with Christ, commonly called by the systematics, the hypostatic and mystical unions, are mysteries as to the manner of them, yet they are to be believed; but why? Not for their mysteriousness, but because it is clearly revealed in the sacred
they are: and though the manner of them remains a secret to mortals, yet the testimony of the Lord of Hosts, is sufficient warrant for our believing the truth of them. There is nothing can be called a mystery, that is revealed in any text of scripture. A revealed mystery is no better sense than eternal generation. Had we one text for the eternal sonship of Christ, we durst not hesitate a moment in receiving it as an article of faith, though we did not understand the manner of his being begotten. We are bound to believe revealed truths on the veracity of the unerring Spirit of God, without daring to bring them to the bar of our vitiated reason, to judge of their truth, by what we can learn of the manner of them.
If eternal generation be a truth, it requires express revelation to support it; nothing short of a divine discovery could possibly make it known; without this, every thing concerning the trinity is beyond the reach of the most intelligent to investigate by reasoning and implication. Here created capacities are limited, and at their neplus ulira. This is one glory of divine revelation, that it discovers things otherwise unsearchable. But where is that text which teacheth us eternal sonship? Or, that the divine person of the Lord Jesus was begotten by an act of eternal generation? Now, as this doctrine is not taught in the word of God, and even contrary to reason and common sense; must it not be adulterating the precious truths of God, -abus. ing the reason of mankind,--and doing violence to the rights of their consciences, who will not be ruled in matters of faith by the dictates of men, to press upon them such a notion as a fundamental article of the christian faith?
4. I would observe, that there is nothing can be more evident, if the scope of the new testament