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In short, either you prove too much, or you prove no
QUERY II. Whether the texts of the New Testament (in the second
column) do not show that he (Christ) is not excluded, and therefore must be the same God?
THE texts cited, if well considered, taking in what goes before or after, are enough to show that Christ is not excluded among the nominal gods, who have no claim or title to our service, homage, or adoration. He is God before the world was, God over all, blessed for ever, Maker of the world, and worshipped by the angels; and therefore certainly he is not excluded among the nominal Gods, whoin to worship were idolatry. But since all are excluded, as hath been before shown, except the one Supreme God, it is very manifest, that he is the same with the one Supreme God. Not the same Person with the Father, as you groundlessly object to us, but another Person in the same Godhead; and therefore the Supreme God is more Persons than one. You argue, (p.40.) that “if Christ “ be God at all, it unavoidably follows, that he cannot be “ the same individual God with the Supreme God, the Fa“ ther.” By individual God, you plainly mean the same individual divine Person, which is only playing upon a word, mistaking our sense, and fighting with your own shadow. Who pretends that the Son is the same Person with the Father? All we assert is, that he is the same Supreme God; that is, partaker of the same undivided Godhead. It will be proper here briefly to consider the texts, by which you attempt to prove, that the Son is excluded from being the one Supreme God: only let me remind you, once again, that you forgot the part you was to bear. Your business was not to oppose, but to respond ; not to raise objections against our scheme, but to answer those which were brought against your own. You observe c from John viii. 54. Matt. xxii. 31, 32. and Acts üi. 13. that God the Father was the God of the Jews, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Very right. But how does it appear that the Son was not ? Could you have brought ever a text to prove, that God the Son was not God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, I must then have owned that you had argued pertinently.
c Page 34.
You next cite John xvii. 3. i Cor. viii. 6. Eph. iv. 6. to prove, that the Father is sometimes styled the only true God; which is all that they prove. But you have not shown that he is so called in opposition to the Son, or exclusive of him. It may be meant in opposition to idols only, as all antiquity has thought; or it may signify, that the Father is d primarily, not exclusively, the only true God, as the first Person of the blessed Trinity, the Root and Fountain of the other two. You observe e that “ in “ these and many other places, the one God is the Person « of the Father, in contradistinction to the Person of the “ Son." It is very certain, that the Person of the Father is there distinguished from the Person of the Son; because they are distinctly named : and you may make what use you please of the observation against the Sabellians, who make but one Person of two. But what other use you can be able to make of it, I see not; unless you can prove this negative proposition, that no sufficient reason can be assigned for styling the Father the only God, without supposing that the Son is excluded. Novatian's remark upon one of your texts, John xvii. 3. (“Thee, the only “ true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent”) may deserve your notice. f He applies the title of the only true God to both, since they are joined together in the same sentence, and eternal life is made to depend upon the knowing of one, as much as of the other. He did not see that peculiar force of the exclusive term (only) which
d Vid. Tertull. cont. Prax. c. 18.
Page 34. f Si noluisset se etiam Deum intelligi, cur addidit, et quem misisti Jesum Christum, nisi quoniam et Deum accipi voluit. Novat. Trin. c. 24.
See the same argument illustrated and improved by the great Athanasius, Orat. iii. p. 558. vol. i. edit. Bened.
you insist so much upon. He knew better; being well acquainted with the language and the doctrine of the Christian Church. His construction, to speak modestly, is at least as plausible as yours. If you can find no plainer or clearer texts against us, you will not be able to help your cause. As to i Cor. viii. 6. all that can be reasonably gathered from it, is, that the Father is there emphatically styled one God; but without design to exclude the Son from being God also: as the Son is emphatically styled one Lord; but without design to exclude the Father from being Lord also b. Reasons may be assigned for the emphasis in both cases; which are too obvious to need reciting. One thing you may please to observe; that the discourse there, v. 4, 5. is about idols, and nominal gods and lords, which have no claim or title to religious worship. These the Father and Son are both equally distinguished from: which may insinuate at least to us, that the texts of the Old or New Testament, declaring the unity and excluding others, do not exclude the Son, “ by whom are all things:” so that here again you have unfortunately quoted a passage, which, instead of making for you, seems rather against you. You have another, which is Eph. iv. 6. “ One God and Father of all, 66 who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” A famous passage, which has generally been understood by the h ancients of the whole Trinity. Above all, as Father; through all, by the Word; and in all, by the Holy Ghost. However that be, this is certain, that the Father may be reasonably called the one, or only God, without the least diminution of the Son's real Divinity: a fuller account of which matter you may please to see in Dr. Fiddes's
& Si enim, ut existimant Ariani, Deus Pater solus est Deus, eadem consequentia, solus erit Dominus Jesus Christus, et nec Pater erit Dominus nec Filius Deus. Sed absit, ut non sit, vel in Dominatione Deitas, vel in Deitate Dominatio. Unus est Dominus et unus est Deus : quia Patris et Filii Dominatio una Divinitas est. Hieron. Comment, in Ephes. iv. 5.
Irenæus I. v. c. 18. p. 315. ed. Bened. Hippolytus contr. Noet. c. xiv. p. 16. Fabric. ed. Athanasius Ep. ad Serap. p. 676. Marius Victorin. B. P. tom. iv. p. 258. Hieronym. tom. iy. p. 1. p. 362. ed. Bened,
Body of Divinity, vol. i. p. 383, &c. As to the remaining texts cited by you, some are meant of Christ as Man, or as Mediator : and those which certainly respect him in a higher capacity, may be accounted for on this principle, that we reserve, with the ancients, a priority of order to the Father, the first of the blessed Three.
This may serve for a general key to explain the texts mentioned, or others of like import. I cannot, in this place, descend to particulars, without running too far into the defensive; and leading the reader off from what we began with. Had you pleased to observe the rules of strict method in dispute, you should not here have brought texts to balance mine; but should have reserved them for another place. All you had to do, was to examine the texts I had set down in the second column; and to give such a sense of them as might comport with your own hypothesis, or might be unserviceable to mine. You should have shown that John i. 1. Heb. i. 8. and Rom. ix. 5. may fairly be understood of a nominal God only; one that stands excluded, by the texts of the first column, from all pretence or title to religious homage and adoration : for, as I have before observed, he must either be entirely excluded, or not at all: and if he be not excluded, he is comprehended in the one Supreme God, and is one with him : or, at least, you should have set before the reader your interpretation of those texts, and have shown it to be consistent with the texts of Isaiah. For example, take John i. 1.
" In the beginning was the WORD, and the WORD “ was with the one SUPREME God, and the WORD was “ANOTHER God inferior to him, a CREATURE of the. “ GREAT GOD: all things were created by this “ CREATURE,” &c.
This interpretation, which is really yours, as shall be shown in the sequel, is what you should have fairly owned, and reconciled, if possible, with the texts of Isaiah, (purposely designed to exclude all inferior, as well as coordinate Gods,) and particularly with Isaiah xliii. 10.
“ Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there “ be After me;" words very full and expressive against any Creature-Gods. But, instead of this, you tell us, God could not be with himself, as if any of us said, or thought, that was St. John's meaning. Thus you industriously run from the point, misrepresent our sense, and artfully conceal your own. In this slight manner, you pass over the three first texts already mentioned; but you think you have some advantage of the Querist, in respect of Phil. ii. 6. and Heb. i. 3. and, not content to say, that they come not up to the point, you are very positive, that “they prove the direct contrary to that for which “ they are alleged;” and express your wonder, that “they “ should be offered.” Whether you really wonder at a thing, which no man who is at all acquainted with books and learning can wonder at; or whether only you affect that way of talking, I determine not; but proceed to consider what you have to offer against my sense of the two texts.
Upon Phil. ii. 6. you press me with the authority of Novatian; whom, I do assure you, I very much respect, as I do all the primitive writers. As to Novatian's interpretation of Phil. ii. 6. it shall be considered presently; only, in the first place, let me observe to you, that, as to the main of my argument, built upon that and other texts, he was certainly on my side. He i cites Isaiah xlv. 5. and understands it of God the Father; not so as to exclude the Son from being comprehended in the one God, but in opposition to false Gods only. He proves the divinity of Christ from his receiving worship of the Church, and his being every where present, k besides many other topics ;
i Ego Deus, et non est præter me. Qui per eundem Prophetam refert: Quoniam majestatem meam non dabo alteri, ut omnes cum suis figmentis ethnicos excludat et hæreticos. Cap. iii. p. 708. See also the citation above,
* Si homo tantummodo Christus, quomodo adest ubique invocatus, cum hæc hominis natura non sit, sed Dei, ut adesse omni loco possit? Cap. xiv, p. 715.