Page images
PDF
EPUB

I would here make one remark, and leave it with you; and that is, of the kstrict sense wherein the ancients used the word God, as applied to the Son. They argued that it could not be an angel that appeared. Why? Because the Person appearing was called God. Thus Novatian, who speaks the sense of all the rest." Quomodo ergo Deus “si angelus fuit; cum non sit hoc nomen angelis unquam 66 concessum ? But how then is he God, if no more than “ angel, since angels never had the privilege of so high a " title?” Novatian allows (ch. 15.) that angels have been called Gods, meaning in the loose figurative sense : but here he plainly signifies that the word God, when applied to the Son, is to be understood in the strict and proper sense : and thus the ancients in general understood it. Angels, the very highest order of creatures, were not by them thought worthy of the name and title of God. It would have been highly absurd, in their judgment, to have given it'them, in such a sense, and in such circumstances, as they applied it to the Son. They knew nothing of your relative sense of the word: they knew better. But this by the way: let us return to our subject. You will ask me now, perhaps, what did some of the Fathers mean, those especially whom you have quoted in the margin, (p. 22.) by the Son of God's appearing, and speaking in the Person of God the Father? I have shown you what they certainly did not mean : and if I could not so readily account for the other, it is of less moment; the cause being little concerned in it. But I shall endeavour to satisfy you in this point also.

You have but two quotations which are any thing to the purpose; one out of Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, and the other from Tertullian. And they indeed, verbally, may seem to countenance your notion; though, in reality, they meant nothing like it. But what did they mean";

k Other arguments of the strict sense of the word God, as used by the Ante-Nicene writers, and applied to the Son, may be seen in Dr. Fiddes, p. 374, &c.

: 1 Cap. 26.

one by, měv a gooMTW TOű €0, the other by, n auctoritate et nomine (Patris ?) Let it be considered, that the second Person, in the texts above cited, is not represented under his own personal distinguishing character, as a Son, or second Person, or Messiah, or Mediator, as he has been since. It is not said, that the Son of the Lord God, called unto Adam; but the “ Lord God called,” &c. • It is not, I am the Son of the God of Bethel, &c. but “I am the God of Bethel ;and so in the rest. Christ therefore, in these, or the like texts, is not represented under his own peculiar character; but under such a character as is common to the Godhead, to the Father and him too. This character, since the distinction of persons has been revealed to us, has been, in a more eminent and peculiar manner, reserved to the Father. He is represented eminently now as God; and Christ, as Son of God, or Mediator, or Messiah. Christ having before took upon him that part, character, or office, which since that time has been reserved, in a peculiar manner, to the Father, may be said to have acted in the Person of the Father, or in the name of the Father; that is, under the same character or capacity which the Father now chiefly bears with respect to men. This he might well do, being equally qualified for either. As Son of God, he was really God; and as Son of the Almighty, he was Almighty, in his own right, as P Tertullian expresses it: and therefore might as justly bear the style and title of “ Lord God,” “God of Abraham,” &c. while he acted in that capacity, as he did that of “Mediator,” “Messiah,” “Son of the Father,” &c. after he condescended to act in another, and to discover his personal relation,

You cited these words of Tertullian : “ Cujus aucto“ ritate 9 et nomine ipse erat Deus, qui videbatur, Dei “ Filius.” Which might have been rendered thus. “The “ Son of God who appeared, he was God (acting) in his

- Theoph. ad Autol. 1. ii. p. 229. Ox, ed. · Tertull. adv. Marc. 1. ii. c. 27.

• Gen. iii. 9. P Suo jure omnipotens qua Filius Omnipotentis c um et Filius Omnipotentis tam omnipotens sit, quam Deus Dei Filius. Prur. c. xvii. p. 520.

Contr. Marc. 1. ii. c. 27.

« (the Father's) name, and with his authority.” And had you but cited the next immediate words, you might have discovered the true meaning of that passage. “ Sed et “ penes nos, Christus in persona Christi, quia et hoc “ modo noster est:" that is to say, But with us (Christians) Christ is also understood under the character or Person of the Messiah; because he is ours in this capacity also; that is, he is not only our God, but our Mediator and Redeemer; and under that character we receive him, as being more peculiar to him, beyond what he has in common with the Father. Formerly he was received and adored under the one common character of God, Lord, and Jehovah; not merely as representative of God the Father, or as invested with his authority, but as strictly and truly God, consubstantial with God the Father; according to the unanimous opinion of all the ancients, and ' of those in particular who speak of his acting in the name or Person of the Father. But now, having a new title to distinguish him by, we receive him in both capacities : as God, by nature; and as Messiah, or Mediator, by office.

The sum then of the case is this: when Christ appeared to the Patriarchs, and claimed their obedience, homage, and adoration, he did not do this under the name and character which he has since discovered to be personal and peculiar to him; but under another, which is bis too, but in common with the Father; namely, that of “ Lord “God,” “God Almighty,” &c. and being since discovered not to be the Father himself, but the Son; not unoriginated, but God of God; all that he did must be referred back to the Father, the Head and Fountain of all; whose authority he exercised, whose orders he executed, and whose Person, Character, or Office, he (in some sense) represented and sustained. Thus, under the s New Testa

See True Script. Doct. continued, p. 196. • Vid. Tertull. contr. Prax. c. xxi. p. 512. Ego veni in Patris mei nomine— Adeo semper Filius erat in Dei et Regis et Domini, et Omnipotentis, et Altissimi nomine.

ment also, he referred all that he did to the authority of the Father, as the first original, and fountain of all power, preeminence, dignity, &c. acting in his name, executing bis will, and representing his Person. “ I and my Fa“ther are one,” John x. 30. “ He that hath seen me, “ hath seen the Father,” John xiv. 9. “I can of mine s own self do nothing,” John v. 30.) And yet whatever is said of Christ is to be understood of him in his own Person, and not of the Father only, whom he represented. In fine, it is not necessary, that every one who acts in the name, or by the authority, or in the person of another, should usurp the style of that other, and speak in the first person; e. g. a viceroy, or an ambassador, speaks in the king's name, and by his authority, and represents his person : but does not personate the king, in the strictest sense; does not pretend to say, I am the king. And therefore you can draw no certain conclusion from the two passages of Theophilus and Tertullian. On the contrary, I have shown you, from the whole drift, tenor, and tendency, as well as from particular testimonies of the primitive writings, that they are far from favouring your pretences in this case, but are a perfect contradiction to them. From what hath been said, these three things are very plain and evident.

1. That, according to the mind of the ancients, the Son was God, and so called in his own Person.

2. That he was God in his own Person, as being God's Son.

3. That he was God's Son, as having the divine substance communicated from the Father.

These three considerations entirely take off the force of whatever either you or Dr. Clarke hath offered to perplex and puzzle a very clear and manifest truth.

I have insisted chiefly on the first particular, as was proper in this place; though I have, in passing, hinted enough of the two latter also; especially considering that they will often be glanced at again, in the process of our dispute.

VOL. I.

Thus, I hope, I have sufficiently vindicated the argument of this second Query, having shown from plain Scripture texts, that Christ is not excluded from being the one Supreme God in conjunction with the Father; and taken off your exceptions : and lest this should seem insufficient, I have confirmed it farther, from the unanimous consent of all antiquity, before the Council of Nice; which is what yourself appeal to in the case. This article indeed has hereby been drawn out into a disproportionate length: but the importance of it is a sufficient apology. Were you able satisfactorily to answer the following queries, this one, while it stands unanswered, would be enough for all. But I proceed.

Query III. Whether the word (God) in Scripture can reasonably be

supposed to carry an ambiguous meaning, or to be used in a different sense, when applied to the Father and Son, in the same Scripture, and even in the same verse? See John i. 1.

HERE you make answer; that “the word (God) in “ Scripture hath a relative signification, and is used in a 6 supreme and a subordinate sense.” And you appeal to Exod. vii. 1. “ I have made thee a god to Pharaoh;” and to Psalm lxxxii. 1. “God standeth in the assembly of 6 gods; judgeth among gods ;” and you desire that John X. 34, 35. may be compared; “ Is it not written in “ your law, I said ye are gods?" &c. You are impatient, 1 perceive, to come to your distinction of supreme and subordinate, which, you imagine, clears all difficulties; and you will not stay to consider what ought to be said first. The first and most general distinction of the senses of the word God, should be into proper and improper; after which it will be soon enough to come to your famed distinction of supreme and subordinate. Dr. Clarke indeed would persuade us, that the proper Scripture notion of God is dominion ; and that therefore any person

« PreviousContinue »