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other. Those that stopped in the midway, or sooner, might be more pious and modest, but less consistent men. A little experience convinced, as well Arius himself as his followers, that those positions, all together, were too grating upon, and too shocking to every pious Christian at that time. And therefore (without considering how one depended on another, or how a principle could be maintained, and yet its plain, necessary consequences disowned) they immediately went to work, to cut off what should appear most offensive, and retain only what might sound tolerably; especially when worded in ambia guous or Catholic terms.
The nine last particulars were for some time, and by the Arians in general, waved, dropped, not insisted on, (as being too gross to take,) or else artfully insinuated only, under specious and plausible expressions. The first they all owned, and insisted the most upon; having many pretences to urge against consubstantiality, either name or thing. The second and third they divided upon, as to the way of expression; some speaking their minds plainly, others with more reserve; not so much denying the coeternity, as forbearing to affirm it. This was the method which the Arians took to propagate their heresy. We need not wonder if they were often forced to make use of collusions, equivocations, and double entendres. For, being obliged, for fear of offence, to use Catholic words, though without a Catholic meaning; and to maintain their main principle, without seeming to maintain its necessary consequences; (nay, seeming to deny and reject them;) it could not be otherwise. And not only the Catholics frequently complain of those smooth gentlemen, but some even of their u own party could not endure such shuffling; thinking it became honest and sincere men, either to speak out, or to say nothing. Of this kind were Aëtius and Eunomius, with their followers, called Anomæans, and Exoucontii; being indeed no other, in respect
u See Epiphan. Hæres. Ixxvi. p. 916.
to the Son's divinity, than such as Arius was at first; and speaking almost as plainly and bluntly as he did. After the disguises, and softenings, and colourings had been carried on so long, till all men of sense saw plainly that it was high time to leave off trifling, and to come from words to things; and that there was no medium, but either to settle into orthodoxy, or to sit down with the pure Arians and Anomæans, (if they would determine any thing, and be sincere and consistent men,) 'some chose the former, and some the latter, according as they more inclined to one way, or the other. There is certainly no medium betwixt orthodoxy and Arianism, (for SemiArianism, if so understood, is perfect nonsense and con. tradiction,) there being no medium between God and creature, between unmade and made. Men may conceal their sentiments, suppress consequences, and speak their minds but by halves ; and so one Arian may be more cautious or more artful than another: but, in truth and reality, every man thạt disowns the consubstantiality; rightly understood, is as much an Arian as Eunomius or Aëtius, or any of the ancient Arians were; or even as Arius himself, excepting only some few particulars, which were not his standing and settled opinions.
In fine, there is but one iniddle way to take between the arthodox and the Arians, and that is, to avoid determining on either side; to leave the point in medio, and to suspend assent to either; to believe as much, and as high, as any of the Arians did; and as to the rest, neither to believe nor disbelieve it. But this is not the case, either with the Doctor or yourself. You have declared against the consubstantiality, and the proper divinity of Christ, as well as caeternity: and are therefore so far from refining upon, that you really come short of many of the ancient Arians ; though, to do you justice, you are the more con sistent with yourselves for it. I have now sufficiently
? Semi-Arianus, et Semi-Deus, et Semi-creatura perinde monstra et portenta sunt, quæ sani et pii omnes merito exhorrent. Bull. D. F. p. 284.
vindicated every part of the Query; having shown, that the equivocation, in respect of the Son's eternity, is justly chargeable upon the Doctor; and that he has not observed a neutrality in this dispute; nor carried the point higher than the ancient Arians; but has really and fully given into their sentiments, and therein determined against the Catholic Church. The use which I make of this, at present, is to observe to the reader;
1. That the Doctor has not invented any new or more excellent scheme than was thought of, considered, and condemned, near fourteen hundred years ago, by a very wise, numerous, and unbiassed council. . 2. That he cannot justly cite any Catholic, Post-Nicene writer, (nor perhaps Ante-Nicene,) as certainly favouring his main doctrine. 3. That his attempt to reconcile the Nicene and Athanasian Creeds to Arianism, formed in direct opposition to it, is endeavouring to bring light and darkness, and the most irreconcileable inconsistencies to meet together. This for the present: the future use I shall make of it is to come directly to the point in question: for when it is certainly known what the drift, design, and meaning of an author is, much pains may be spared, and a dispute shortened.
I hardly know whether strict method would permit me to take notice of the latter part of your Reply, (contained in pages 62, 63, 64.) it is so wide and foreign. You must have had a great mind to say something of eternal generation ; otherwise you would never have introduced it in a place so improper. The pretence is, that we equivocate in talking of eternal generation; and therefore it is proper to retort it upon us, in answer to a charge of equivocation. But wherein do we equivocate, or do any thing like it? Is it in the word eternal ? But we undoubtedly mean it in the strict and proper sense. Is it in the word generation? That is a word of latitude, capable of more senses than one. We use it in the sense which has prevailed in the Church fifteen hundred years; and in a proper sense, according to the rule of Tertullian, Omnis origo parens est. And where then is the impropriety or equivocation in the word generation, as used by us? True, it is not the same with human generation. But who will pretend that human is to be the measure and standard of all generation ? Generation, you say, implies beginning; and yet we call it y eternal. Admit that it did so; yet, till that can be made appear; we may be very sincere in calling it eternal, intending no equivocation : you have not proved that all generation implies beginning; and what is more, cannot. You endeavour to make the notion of it absurd; but, unless you can demonstrate the absurdity of it, how will you charge us with equivocation'; which was the point ? All you have to say turns only upon your misconstruction of, I should say equivocation in, the word individual ; which, you must needs know, we 'understand not in your sense of it; unless we are weak enough to suppose Father and Son to be one Person. You make another argument, by equivocating in the word production; which if we use at all, we always take care to explain to a good sense; and never once imagine, that the eternal generation is a temporal production. You are very unhappy, to : equivocate all the way, while you are retorting the charge of equivocalion ; besides that, could you have retorted it in a handsomer manner, it would not have been pertinent, because it' comes out of place. For your proper part here is, 'not so much to object against our scheme, as to defend your own: please to clear your own hypothesis first; and then we may hear what you can say against ours. The Church of Christ has been in possession of the present prevailing doctrines, at least, for fourteen hundred years : it concerns us, before we part with them, to see that we' may have something better in their stead. What if the Catholic doctrine has some difficulties? Has
1 Μή χρονικής αρχήν του υιού καταδέξη τινος λέγοντος, αλλά άχρονον άρχήν γίνωσκε τον πατέρα. 'Αρχή γάρ υ άχρονος, ακατάληπτος, άναρχος ο πατήρ πηγή τη της δικαιοσύνης ποταμού, του μονογενούς και πατήρ, ο γεννήσας αυτόν, καθώς οι δεν avròs móvos. Cyril. Catech. xi. p. 145.
with many ficulty Woude that
Arianism none? Or must we change the former for the latter? No; let us first consider whether Arianism has not more and greater; and then perhaps we may see reason enough to keep as we are.
It is an usual thing with many, (moralists may account for it,) when they meet with a difficulty which they cannot readily answer, immediately to conclude that the doctrine is false, and to run directly into the opposite persuasion : not considering that they may meet with much more weighty objections there than before; or that they may have reason sufficient to maintain and believe many things in philosophy or divinity, though they cannot answer every question which may be started, or every difficulty which may be raised against them. As to the point we are upon; while some are considering only the objections against the doctrine of the Blessed Trinity, (how three can be one ; how the Son could be generated ; how person and being can be different; and the like;) they imagine presently, that the world, in a manner, has been hitherto miserably mistaken; and that they are the happy men, who see clearly how, and why. Let but the very same men have patience awhile, and not embark in the opposite cause, till they are able to find out a truer and a juster scheme, and to clear it of all considerable difficulties; I say, let them but do thus, and then, I am persuaded, they will be much less sanguine in their pursuit of novelties. In the present controversy there are three schemes, which I may call Catholic, Sabellian, and Arian: one of the three must, in the main, be true. The way to know which, is to weigh and consider the difficulties attending each respectively; and to balance them one against another. The advocates of the two latter have performed reasonably well, in the offensive part; and especially against each other : but have neither of them yet been able to defend tolerably their respective schemes ; nor, I suppose, ever will be. But I proceed.