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And follies are miscall'd the crimes of fate.
I cassot enter upon subjects of so much difficulty as the SoN of GoD and the Holy SPIRIT, without again premising a few introductory words. If indeed I were a member of the Church of Rome, which requires implicit obedience to its creed on all points of faith, I should have acquiesced from education or habit in its simple decree and authority, even though it denies that the doctrine of the Trinity, as now received, is capable of being proved from any passage of Scripture.” But since I enrol myself among the number of those who acknowledge the word of God alone as the rule of faith, and freely advance what appears to me much more clearly deducible from the Holy Scriptures than the commonly received opinion, I see no reason why any one who belongs to the same Protestant or Reformed Church, and professes to acknowledge the same rule of faith as myself, should take offence at my freedom, particularly as I impose my authority on no one, but merely propose what I think more worthy of belief than the creed in general acceptation. I only entreat that my readers will ponder and examine my statements in a
* “But I would show you that divers ways the Doctors of your Church do the principal and proper work of the Socinians for them, undermining the doctrine of the Trinity, by denying it to be supported by those pillars of the faith, which alone are fit and able to support it, I mean Scripture, and the consent of the ancient Doctors. For Scripture, your men deny very plainly and frequently that this doctrine can be proved by it. See if you please this plainly taught, and urged very earnestly by Cardinal Hosius, De Auctor. Sacr. lib. iii. p. 53. by Gordonius Huntlaus, Tom. I. Controv. 1. De Verbo Dei, lib. x. by Gretserus and Tannerus, in Colloquio Ratisbon. and also by Vega, Possevin, Wickus, and others.' Chillingworth's Preface to the Author of Charity Maintained, a work published in 1630 by Matthias Wilson, a Jesuit, under the name of Edward Knott. “Longe ergo sincerius facerent, et prout ingenuos disputatores decet, si cum Pontificiis faterentur istam distinctionem ex Scriptura non posse probari, sed tantum ex traditione." Curcellaei Dissertatio Prima de vocibus Trinitatis, &c. 38. See also the passages quoted by Curcellaeus from writers of the Romish Church.
spirit which desires to discover nothing but the truth, and with a mind free from prejudice. For without intending to oppose the authority of Scripture, which I consider inviolably sacred, I only take upon myself to refute human interpretations as often as the occasion requires, conformably to my right, or rather to my duty as a man. If indeed those with whom I have to contend were able to produce direct attestation from heaven to the truth of the doctrine which they espouse, it would be nothing less than impiety to venture to raise, I do not say a clamour, but so much as a murmur against it. But inasmuch as they can lay claim to nothing more than human powers, assisted by that spiritual illumination which is common to all,” it is not unreasonable that they should on their part allow the privileges of diligent research and free discussion to another inquirer, who is seeking truth through the same means and in the same way as themselves," and whose desire of benefiting mankind is equal to their own.
In reliance, therefore, upon the divine assistance, let us now enter upon the subject itself.”
OF THE SON of GoD.
Hitherto I have considered the INTERNAL EFFICIENCY of God, as shown in his decrees.
His ExTERNAL EFFICIENCY, or the execution of his decrees, whereby he carries into effect by external agency whatever decrees he has purposed within himself, may be comprised under the heads of GENERATION, CREATION, and the GovERNMENT OF THE UNIVERSE.
* The Spirit of God, promis'd alike and given
* The sentence is thus written in the original—quid est aequius quam ut permittant alteri eandem atque ipsi ratione ac via veritatem indaganti—probably an error for eadem.
* * Which, imploring divine assistance, that it may redound to his glory, and the good of the British nation, I now begin.” History of Britain, B. I. Prose Works, IV. 3.
First, GENERATION, whereby God, in pursuance of his decree, has
begotten his only Son; whence he chiefly derives his appellation of Father.
Generation must be an external efficiency, since the Father and Son are different persons; and the divines themselves acknowledge this, who argue that there is a certain emanation of the Son from the Father (which will be explained when the doctrine concerning the Holy Spirit is under examination); for though they teach that the Spirit is co-essential with the Father, they do not deny that it emanates, and goes out, and proceeds, and is breathed from the Father, which are all expressions denoting external efficiency. In conjunction with this doctrine they hold that the Son is also co-essential with the Father, and generated from all etermity. Hence this question, which is naturally very obscure, becomes involved in still greater difficulties if the received opinion respecting it be followed; for though the Father be said in Scripture to have begotten the Son in a double sense, the one literal, with reference to the production of the Son, the other metaphorical, with reference to his exaltation, many commentators have applied the passages which allude to the exaltation and mediatorial functions of Christ as proofs of his generation from all eternity. They have indeed this excuse for their proceeding, if any excuse can be offered in such a case, that it was impossible to find a single text in all Scripture to prove the eternal generation of the Son. This point appears certain, notwithstanding the arguments of some of the moderns to the contrary, that the Son existed in the beginning, under the name of the logos or word, and was the first of the whole creation," by whom afterwards all other things were made both in heaven and earth, * Thee next they sang of all creation first, Begotten Son, divine Similitude, In whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud Made visible, the Almighty Father shines, Whom else no creature can behold; on thee
Impress'd, the effulgence of his glory abides,
John i. 1–3. in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, &c. xvii. 5. and now, O Father, glorify me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was. Col. i. 15, 18. the first-born of every creature. Rev. iii. 14. the beginning of the creation of God. 1 Cor. viii. 6. Jesus Christ, by whom are all things. Eph. iii. 9, who created all things by Jesus Christ. Col. i. 16. all things were created by him and for him. Heb. i. 2. by whom also he made the worlds, whence it is said, v. 10, thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; on which point more will be said in the seventh Chapter, on the Creation.
All these passages prove the existence of the Son before the world was made, but they conclude nothing respecting his generation from all eternity. The other texts which are produced relate only to his metaphorical generation, that is, to his resuscitation from the dead, or to his unction to the mediatorial office, according to St. Paul's own interpretation of the second Psalm : I will declare the decree; Jehovah hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee—" which the apostle thus explains, Acts xiii. 32, 33. God hath fulfilled the promise unto us their children, in that he hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second Psalm, Thou art my Son ; this day have I begotten thee. Rom. i. 4. declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead. Hence, Col. i. 18. Rev. i. 4. the first begotten of the dead. Heb. i. 5, speaking of the exaltation of the Son above the angels; for unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee? and again, I will be to him a Father, and he shall be to me a Son. Again, v. 5, 6, with reference to the priesthood of Christ; so also Christ glorijied not himself to be made an High Priest, but he that said unto him,
* Hear my decree, which unrevok'd shall stand;
Him have anointed, whom ye now behold