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Arguments of the ancient Unitarians from Reason.
TTAVING stated what the principles of the ancient Unitarians were, I shall in the next place, give a view of the arguments by which they defended them; and as some of these were drawn from the principles of reason, and others from the scriptures, 1 mall mention the former in the first place. But in this I need not insist upon their capital argument, viz. that the doctrine of the divinity of Christ and of the trinity, is an infringement of the great doctrine of natural and revealed religion, the unity of God. This has appeared sufficiently already. Also many of their other arguments have been mentioned in the replies of their trinitarian adversaries. I shall, therefore, only recite such others as have happened to occur separately.
That the ancient Unitarians were much addicted to reasoning, and that they often disputed with great acuteness and subtility, so as to puzzle their opponents, may be inferred from what is said of them by Eusebius, viz. that " they neglected the "scriptures, and reasoned in syllogisms *." No doubt they did reason, and probably in the syllogistic form, as was the custom with logicians, and I doubt not very closely and justly; but it will be seen that they were far from neglecting the scriptures.
According to the most ancient doctrine of the generation of .the Son, there was a time when the Father was simply one, and had not generated this Son. Upon this idea, Marcellus said that, "if it be a per"section in the Father to have a Son, he "was imperfect while he was without "onef."
* Ou T( ai 3ei«i Tsyiui yqatpai grUisiltf, a>0\ oTtoav ax,r,(jia bcyio-fix ii( rm nj; Oseomoj tufifa avrao-p, piXcuwaj atuxvle;. Hist. lib. 8. cap. 28. p. 253. - • ■
\ E< yag au T£?.£io; 0 9eoj, xai waf£nv aula Swa^cif Ts walegx avlcni Eivau, <y Ko*.w aulov uvai tsatya tti Tousih Wib, avaSafAslM,,
tavlov Ts Ka*u mfiaxet, Kui a; ES"iv Eisteiv, E| H Ouvotlai tsalrig ttvMuis. Contra Marcellum, lib. 1. p. 22.
To the doctrine of divine generation in general, the objection was, that the divine essence must then be corporeal. *« Marcellus said, that, if the Son be aprobole," or production, *' from the Father, and he be "his offspring, like the offspring of other "living creatures, both the being pros' ducing, and the being produced, must be "corporeal *."
That the Son, who was generated from the Father, was allowed by those who first advanced that doctrine to be inferior to the Father, the most abundant proof has been given. Afterwards all this was retracted. But the Unitarians retorted it upon them. "The enemies of truth," fays Chrysostom, *' urge that, if the Son be equal to the "Father, why did not the Father become "incarnate? As it was the Son who took "the form of a servant, is it not plain that *' he is inferior. But if on this account "he took human nature, the Spirit, who,
% Ei yap wf cnv o viof m vetkafr ytwa yin t| cculx tiroia Tcc ra (uuv yzmiiMtla, avayxn trunx. ttvai lot wpoGatf-avlat rov vtpo&frripmv. Contra Marcellum, lib. I. p. 22.
Vol. III. Ee "they te they say (though we do not acknowledge "this) is inferior to the Son, should have "been incarnate*."
The trinitarians, giving a reason for the mystery of the incarnation, held that the divinity gave a value to the sufferings of the human nature to which it was united. But the Unitarians urged the absurdity of this; saying, according to Theodoret, *' If a man *' only suffered, it was a man that saved "us-j-." This is an argument to which the orthodox have always made very lame replies. They have never chose to say that the deity of Christ suffered, or that it partook of the sufferings of the human nature. Consequently, is it was only man that suffered, the satisfaction made by that suffering could only be finite j and in fact,
* Kai yap xai Thio wtfupEpsow ot in; a*.r&£ix; £JC$?W> *sywkf i oil ei uo; w To ysywwoit, Tivcj evuev o wo/wf Hx anteiGe aaqxa, wo; uiribu Twv T« Os^s f&ogtpm ; otpot at £U0*ritot} oil £7T£il\ tccSaoWffs; r,v; xai finv ti Sia Tisio Tyiv tyitfefov vmS'u tpuvtv, To meufux, o <panv auloi Ts I/is Ctmtiov twax (a yaq av Mftfij tiiroifitv) (xmt caqicaSwai lict. Set. 51. Opera, vol. 5. p. 697.
f AvSpwo; sv n/juv mctfM^f Tw aak^m. Dial. 3. Opera, vol 4. p. 116.