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humbly conceive,) you are to prove what you can know nothing of; and are to work up a demonstration without ideas. There the matter rests, and, I am persuaded, must rest, till you please to come out of metaphysios'; and to put the cause upon the foot of Scripture and antiquity, the only lights in this matter. Strange that, at this time of day, any need to be told (what cunbelievers only doubted of formerly) that Scripture is our rule to go by, for forming our notions of God; and not the light of nature, which is darkness in comparison
You are offended at the Querist for saying, that the Doctor admits no medium between Tritheism and Sabellianism. I should have said, it seems, no medium for his adversaries ; and you wonder at so palpable a mistake. Indeed the meaning of what I said was so palpable, that there was no occasion for guard, while I supposed myself writing to a man of sense. You have took it right so far: the Doctor allows us, his adversaries, no medium. But I had an eye to something more, viz. that he has, by the same principle, left no medium for himself; as I shall show you in due time. I am only to observe now, that it is not from Scripture, or from Catholic antiquity, that the Doctor has learned this maxim, of no medium (for such as believe Christ to be essentially God) between SaLellianism and Tritheism. This was what I complained of, his making a pompous appearance of Scripture and Fathers, when the whole is made to depend upon a mere philosophical question, which is to be the rule and measure to try Scripture and Fathers by. Let Scripture or Fathers appear ever so strong and clear for such a 'medium, they are condemned beforehand, either to speak another sense, or to be of no weight or authority. If
• Dürs pèp Quasi, oŰre dxd gwrtívn ivvoie, ourw uszána rai Iria yováoxeu á vlgaποις δυνατόν, αλλά τη άνωθεν επί τους αγίους άνδρας τηνικαυσα κατελθούση δωρεά. . Just. Mart. Paren. p. 60.
Ilærtæxódev Toivuv sidives Fenohxsı, öts oídce news fréqws Tigi svõ tñs optñs Diaσεβείας μανθάνειν οίόν τε, ή παρά των προφητών μόνον, των δια της θείας έπιανοίας diduoxóstwy épūs. Ibid. p. 129. ed. Ox. Conf. Hippolyt. contr. Noët. c. 9.
this be the case, (as you seem to admit,) you ought to go upon very sure grounds. And yet the learned Doctor, instead of favouring us with any proof of his main position, which gives the law to the rest, has only often repeated it; which is no more than to say, there cannot be any medium in the case; no, there cannot. We do not pretend to be wise enough to know any thing, a priori, whether there can, or there cannot ; but, a posteriori, we may inquire after fact : and if we find by Scripture, rightly understood, that there really is such a medium; we shall not be concerned for any pretended strength of your maxim against it.
Our defence then against the charge of Tritheism will be as follows. By comparing Scripture with Scripture, we plainly find that the divine unity is not an unity of Person: we observe, that there are more Persons than one dignified with the same high titles of Lord, God, &c. invested with the same high powers, attributes, and perfections; and entitled to the same honour, worship, and adoration : and yet the Scripture never tells us of two true Gods; but constantly asserts that God is one. We take notice, that the Father is Jehovah, and Son is Jehovah, and yet the Lord Jehovah is one Lord; the Father creates, and the Son creates, and yet we have no warrant to say two Creators; the Father is worshipped, and the Son is worshipped, and yet we find no foundation for asserting two objects of worship, or two worships: in a word, the Father is God, and the Son is God, and yet we are nowhere. taught to call them two Gods. The obvious conclusion, from these premises, is, that they are both one God, (otherwise indeed Ditheism is unavoidable,) and thus the Scripture-notion of unity is of more Persons than one in the same Godhead. What confirms us in this reasoning, is, that our blessed Lord has told us, that he and the Father are one ; that whosoever hath seen him, hath seen the Father; that he is in the Father, and the Father in him ; and very familiarly speaking of the Father and himself, he says, “ we will come unto him,"
xxII. OF SOME QUERIES. : 235 (that loveth Christ,) « and make our abode with him.” St. Paul, in his Epistles, asks for the same grace, mercy, and peace from the Father and Son; and also prays that they may direct his way, i Thess. iii. 11. These things serve to illustrate and explain each other; and, all together, abundantly make good the position before laid down, that f Father and Son are one God. Accordingly the Prophet & Isaiah, as may be inferred from h St. John, makes them both to be one holy, holy, Lord of hosts, therein signifying both the distinction of Persons and unity of Godhead. These considerations (with many others too long to recite) convince us that there is a medium (saving the Son's essential divinity) between Sabellianism and Tritheism. We assert not three absolute, original, coordinate divinities, like the Marcionites; we separate not the Persons from each other, with the Arians; we hold not a specific unity, (such as between two individuals of any species, two men, for instance.) If we did any of these, there might be some colour for the charge of Tritheism. But we acknowledge, with the Scriptures, one God the Father with his coessential and coeternal Son and Spirit; one head and fountain of all, the three divine Persons being one in nature, one in knowledge, in presence, in operation, and energy; never separate, never asunder; distinct without division, united without confusion. If this be Tritheism, it is what the Scripture has taught us, and what God, who best knows his own nature, hath recommended to us. But it is not Tritheism ; it is the true and only medium, which may be found by looking in Scripture for it; and which you seem to have lost by following a false light, and wandering too far in fanciful speculations.
f I have hitherto waved the consideration of the Holy Ghost; for which reason also I pass it over here, confining myself chiefly to the point of the Son's divinity, which if sufficiently cleared, the other, I suppose, may be admitted without scruple.
& Isa. ch. 6.
Vid. Athanas. p. 108, 877, 889. ed. Bened. Basil. contr. Eunom. 1. v. p. 115. Hieron. in Isa. vi. et Epist. ad Damas. de eod. Epiph. Ancorat. p. 15, 31.
To confirm us still more in this, we perceive, upon due inquiry, that those who lived nearest the apostolical age, and best knew the mind of the Scriptures, they also taught the same doctrine which we teach. There was some appearance of Tritheism in it then, as there is now; which is an argument to us, that it is still the same: but if any Christian seriously took upon him to charge the doctrine with Tritheism, and persisted in it, he was immediately rejected by the wiser and soberer Christians, as a heretic.
Praxeas, about the year 186, began openly to charge the Catholics with Tritheism. But his pretences were easily despised by the Church; and his arguments answered by Tertullian.
Not long after, Noëtus revived the charge, and his i plea was, that God is one, and that there could not be a plurality in the Godhead: but he went away with the character of a weak and rash man; and was condemned by the Christian Church. At the same time, the Noëtians had so high an opinion of the divinity of Christ, (Scripture and tradition running strong for it,) that k they had no way of solving the difficulty, but by making Father and Son one Person, and, in consequence, were Patripassians.
About the middle of the third century arose Sabellius. He pretended to be extremely zealous for the unity, and I charged the Catholics with asserting three Gods. He has been thought to have refined upon the Noëtian scheme,
i Epiphan. Hær. lvii. p. 480. Theod. Hæret. Fab. I. iii. c. 3. Hippol. contr. Noët. c. xi. p. 14.
* Ne videantur duos Deos dicere, neque rursus negare Salvatoris Divinitatem, unam eandemque substantiam Patris ac Filii asseverant: id est duo quidem nomina secundum diversitatem causarum recipientem, unam tamen Hypostasin subsistere, id est, unam Personam duobus nominibus subjacentem, qui Latine Patripassiani appellantur. Orig. apud Pamph. Apol. p. 226. ed. Bened.
1 Epiphan. Hæres. Ixii. p. 514.
(if we may call it refining,) by denying a God incarnate, after the example of the earlier heretics; by which he avoided the error of the Patripassians. If so, he may be looked upon as holding nearly the same principles with the modern Socinians. This conjecture is grounded on a passage in m Epiphanius. But n St. Austin understood the matter otherwise, and the Sabellians have been generally reckoned with the Patripassians.
Within a few years after Sabellius, Paul of Samosata carried on the same charge of • Tritheism (or rather Ditheism) against the Catholics; and was a warm, injudicious Passerter of the unity, confining it to the Father only, exclusive of the other Persons. But the Catholic Bishops, as 9 Eusebius informs us, ran together against him, as against a wolf, that was endeavouring to destroy the flock of Christ.
About fifty years after him appeared Arius; who, to avoid-Tritheism, (as he thought,) and to preserve the unity of the Godhead, and that there might be one s self-existent Being, or Person, (the same pretexts, in the main, which had been handed down by some t before Praxeas, as well as by Praxeas himself, and Noëtus, Sabellius, and Paul of Samosata,) denied the divinity of the second Person, only allowing a real preexistence, and so making him more ancient than the others before-mentioned did. Such were the men who formerly (joining therein with u Jews and Pagans) charged the Catholics with holding a plurality of Gods; while the Catholics notwithstanding retained the faith; despising the accusation, as weak, false, and groundless; and defending themselves upon such princi
m Epiphan. Synops. tom. i. 1. 2. p. 398. tom, ii, p. 146. ed. Petay. n Aug. Hæres. 41. • Epist. Synod. Antioch. Lab. tom. I. p. 845. p Theodoret. Hæret. Fab. l. ii. c. 8. Athanas. vol.. ii. p. 942. 4 Euseb. Eccl. Hist. 1. vii. c. 27. r Ep. Alexand. apud Theod. E. H. I. i. c. 4. Ambr. de Fid. 1. i. c. I. • “EM và dyvytes, is ey-vs Tos. + Vid. Novatian. c. 30. u Athan. vol. i. p. 564. Lucian. Philopatr. p.770, 774.