« PreviousContinue »
CHAPTER V.- PREFATORY REMARKS. I CANNOT enter upon subjects of so much difficulty as the Son of God and the HOLY SPIRIT, without again premising a few introductory remarks. 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 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
2 • 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 Huntlæus, 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. Curcellæi Dissertatio Prima de vocihus Trinitatis, &c. 38. See also the passages quoted by Curcellæus from writers of the Romish Church.
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 espoiese, 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.5
OF THE SON OF GOD. Hitherto I have considered the INTERNAL EFFICIENCY of God, as manifested 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.
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 its emanation, procession, spirčio
The Spirit of God, promis'd alike and given
Paradise Lost, XII. 519. 64 The sentence is thus written in the original-quid est æquius 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.
tion, and issuing from the Father, -which are all expressions denoting external efficiency. In conjuction with this doctrine they hold that the Son is also co-essential with the Father, and generated from all eternity. 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 proof of his generation from all eternity. They have indeed this excuse, if any excuse can be received in such a case, that it is impossible to find a single text in all Scripture to prove the eternal generation of the Son. Certain, however, it is, whatever some of the moderns may allege 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,
6 Slichtingius, Wolzogenius, Stegman, and others of the Socinian school. See especially their explanations of John viii. 58, the extravagance of which has been well exposed by Dr. Wardlaw, Discourses on the Principal Points of the Socinian Controversy, p. 84–89. Compare also Dr. Pye Smith On the Scripture Testimony to the Messiah, ii. p. 186; Magee On the Atonement, i. 81–88. edit. 1816.
7 Such is the doctrine of our own article, of which the expressions are begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, of one substance with the Father.' These words are not in King Edward's articles of 1552, but were added in 1562 ; probably because the growth of Socinianism made it expedient to insert an explicit declaration of the true faith. The wise reflections of Alexander, Bishop of Alexandria, are so applicable to the Discussion respecting the generation of the Son, on which Milton now enters, that it is impossible not to quote them as a caution to future speculators on this holy mystery. Είς ευσεβείς ουκ οίμαι λογιζομένους τους μέχρι τούτων επηρωτάν, τί τολμώντας διά το ανήκουν τους χαλεπώτερά σου μη ζήτη, και υψηλότερά σου μη εξέταζε ει γάρ ετέρων πολλών ή γνώσις, και τούτων ασυγρίτως κολοβυτέρων, κέκρυπται την ανθρωηπίνν κατάληψιν,. .πώς αν περιεργάσαιτό τις τήν του θεού λόγου υπόστασιν, εκτός ει μη μελαγχολική διαθέσει ληφοείς τυγχάνει και περί ης το προφητικόν πνεύμα φησι, την γενεάν αυτού τις διηγήσηται. Εpist. ad Alexandrum Constantinop. apud Theodorit. Eccles. Hist. 1. 1, c. 4, p. 12, Edit. 1682.
8 Thee next they sang of all creation first, Begotten Son, divine Similitude, in whose conspicuous countenance, without cloud Mlade visible, the Almighty Father shines,
by whom afterwards all other things were made both in heaven and earth. John i. 1-3. “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,” &c. xvï. 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. ii. 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 ;" respecting which 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
Whom else no creature can behold; on thee
Paradise Lost, III. 383.
to me a Son.” Again, v. 5, 6, with reference to the priesthood of Christ ; “so also Christ glorified not himself to be made an High Priest, but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee: as he saith also in another place, Thou art a priest for ever,” &c. Further, it will be apparent from the second Psalm, that God has begotten the Son, that is, has made him a king : v. 6. “yet have I set my King upon my holy hill of Sion;" and then in the next verse, after having anointed his King, whence the name of Christ is derived, he says, “this day have I begotten thee.” Heb. i. 4, 5. “ being made so much better than the angels, as he hath by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they.” No other name can be intended but that of Son, as the follow. ing verse proves : "for unto which of the angels said he at any time, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee?”' The Son also declares the same of himself. John x. 35, 36. “say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God ?" By a similar figure of speech, though in a
” much lower sense, the saints are also said to be begotten of God.'
It is evident however upon a careful comparison and examination of all these passages, and particularly from the whole of the second Psalm, that however the generation of the
2 ...... Into thee such virtue and grace
Immense I have transfus'd, that all may knot
Paradise Lost, VI. 703.
Paradise Regained, IV. 514 • The people of God, redeemed and washed with Christ's blood, and dig nified with so many glorious titles of saints, and sons in the gospel.' — of Reformation in England. Prose Works, II. 378.