Page images

the Son self-existent or no, is not now the question. I took hold of the Doctor's expression, charged him with fast and loose, that is, saying and unsaying, contradicting himself. If self-existence be the most essential character of God, it seems to me to follow, that the Son, who by the Doctor's confession wants that character, cannot be truly and by nature God, any more than any thing can be truly and by nature man, without the essential character of man. As to my own part: I never pretended that selfexistence is an essential character of God: you might have considered that we deny it absolutely; we suppose it i negative and relative, and call it a personal character. Necessary-existence is an essential character, and belongs equally to Father and Son: if that be what you mean by self-existence, then that also belongs to both. Explain yourself, and deal not so much in ambiguous terms, which we have just reason to complain of. The Doctor knows how self-existent, by custom, sounds among common readers; and that denying the Şon to be self-existent may be thought by many the same thing with denying him to be God. Had he pleased, in his translations of åyevýtos, and elsewhere, to say oftener unbegotten or underived, instead of self-existent, it would have been kind towards his readers, and perhaps as kind to himself: for it will be always thought as much beneath a grave writer to take the poor advantage of an equivocal word, as it is a disparagement to any cause to be served by it. But to proceed.

You wanted, it seems, to bring in a parcel of quotations, which you might as well have referred to only, where they k lie, and may be seen to greater advantage. Whatever they are, they contradict not me; nor are they at all pertinent to the business of the Query. My design was to show, at once, the Doctor's inconsistency with Scripture and with himself: both which are intimated in the Query. It was your part to defend him, as fairly as you could. The Doctor, I observed, was obliged from Gal. iv. 8. to confess that the Son is by nature truly God. From thence I infer, that his scheme cannot stand with that text; being an express contradiction to it. You insist upon it notwithstanding, that the Son may be by nature truly God, agreeable to the text, and consistent with the Doctor's principles. This then is the sole point between us, to be here discussed.

i Sicut secundum substantiam aio, homo est, sic secundum substantiam nego, cum dico, non-homo est, &c. Relative autem negamus dicendo non-filius : relative igitur negamus dicendo non-genitus. Ingenitus porro, quid est nisi non-genitus ? quod autem relative pronuntiatur, non indicat substantiam. Aug. de Trin. I. v. c. 6. Comp. Fulgent. contr. Arian. p. 52. ed. Paris.

k Script. Doctr. p. 306, &c. alias 273, &c.

“ You have," you say, “ proved, that in Scripture there 6 are different and subordinate acceptations of the word “ God.True, you have proved that men have been called Gods; and idols Gods; the devil is also a God, (2 Cor. iv. 4.) and the belly a God. But, I think, St. Paul hath sufficiently intimated, (1 Cor. viii. 5, 6.) that the Son is not to be reckoned among the nominal Gods; besides that you yourselves confess it. If he be God at all, he is a real one: and now I want to see what Scripture warrants or permits us to profess two real and true Gods. You say, the Son is God, truly, and properly, and by nature, in the Scripture-sense of the word God, (p. 110.) Then, say I, he must be the same with the one supreme God, because there is but one. If he is truly so, he is the same with the only true God; if properly so, his substance is properly divine; if by nature so, he has the same nature with the one God. Yet I very well know that you intend nothing like it: only, from the concurring language of Scripture and antiquity, you find it necessary to say as we say; and are afterwards to rack and strain invention, to find out some subtile and surprising meaning for it. What may we not do with any writings in the world at this rate, so long as words are capable of being pressed and tortured into diverse meanings? But let us go on, to see how you account for the Son's being God by nature.

“ If divine power and dominion be derived and exercised “ partially, temporarily,” or in “ certain emergencies only, “ it makes the Persons to be, and to be styled Gods; not “ by nature, but by grace.” Your notion of dominion making God to be God, has been sufficiently exposed in the former parts. I need only ask here, what was God before the creatures were made ? Or did he then commence God, by nature, when he created the universe, and began to have dominion over it? The Doctor appears to be in the utmost perplexity, how to account for the Son's being called God, Joh. i. 1. He is forced to quit his notion of dominion'. Sometimes it is because he was in popoña OŠ after the creation, and m sometimes because he was partaker of divine power and glory (he knew not how to say dominion) before the creation : and sometimes in Metoxñ tñs atro Jéou Jeótntos. So that now we have the Doctor's own authority for contradicting him, if he tells us again, that the word God is always a word of office. When he was considering the Son as God before the creation, he should have thought a little farther, that the Father was then also God, and should have told us in what sense he was so. But to proceed: give me leave to observe here, that the Son is God, not by nature, but by grace, in consequence of your own principles. Being a creature, and finite, he can exercise the divine power and dominion no otherwise than partially ; and since he did not exercise the divine power and dominion to the utmost, before his resurrection, he exercised it only in certain emergencies; and since the exercise began then, and is to end after the day of judgment, it is barely temporary: and so, by your own characters, you make him God, by grace, like angels, magistrates, and prophets; only his dominion is larger, and for a longer period of time: this is your God by nature. But you are very excusable for not doing what it is ridiculous, at first sight, even so much as to pretend to. For

[ocr errors]

Script. Doctr. p. 73. ed. 2. n Ibid. p. 73.

m Ibid. p. 240. ed. 2.

ture, at a principles, is not easy

how should the Son be God by nature, upon your principles, when the Father himself, whatever his metaphysical nature may be, (which the Doctor allows not to come into consideration,) is God by office only; might not have been God at all, if he had pleased to make no creatures; and may cease to be God, in the Scripture-sense of the word, whenever he will, by letting all things drop into their primitive nothing. Now unless nature and office signify the same, it is not easy to conceive, upon the Doctor's principles, how any person can be God, by nature, at all. You say, " if the divine powers and domi“nion be derived to, and exercised by a nature, person, " or intelligent substance, UNIVERSALLY,” (which is impossible to suppose in a finite creature,) “ PERMA“ NENTLY,” (which is contrary to your own supposition of a kingdom which is to have an end,) “UNALTER“ ABLY,” (though an alteration is presumed in respect of the Son, and might be supposed even in respect of the Father himself;) if these things be so; that is, if contradictions be true, what then? 'Then 6 such a Being, or Per“ son, is God by nature,” &c. And this you give us as " the true meaning of Gal. iv. 1.” But, I hope, we shall have more respect for an inspired Apostle than to father any such meaning upon him. For the true sense and import of it, I refer you to the P learned gentleman, who has so well defended this text against Dr. Clarke. You add, “ Had not the Scriptures this sense of the word « God, they could not be intelligible or reconcileable,” (p. 113.) But are you well assured that you understand whatever is intelligible or reconcileable? “ The metapby“ sical definition," you say, “ cannot be the only Scrip“ ture-sense of the term God." You allow then that it may be the principal, though not the only Scripturesense; which I am glad to hear from you. The learned Doctor will not admit the metaphysical sense to be 9 ever

• Script. Doctr. p. 243, 296. alias 210, 263. Reply, p. 301.
p True Script. Doctr. continued, p. 73, &c.
a Script. Doctr. p. 296. Reply, p. 119, 290.

the Scripture-sense of the term God. The metaphysical sense, he expressly says, is “ never intended;” but the “ constant usage of Scripture” is different. “The word “ God, in Scripture, is ALWAYS a relative word of office:” which though the Doctor has no proof of, nor ground for, nor is himself well satisfied in; yet he knew why he said it, having very good prudential reasons for it. For, if the metaphysical sense be ever intended, when the word God is spoken of the Father, no good reason can be assigned why it should not be so always, when spoken of the same Person: and if this be the current and most usual sense of the word God, in Scripture, we shall have · a fair handle to prove that it was intended in the same sense, when spoken, in such and such circumstances, of the Son: or, at least, the Doctor will have little or no pretence left, upon his principles, for saying that the Son is truly and properly God. You observe, that the metaphysical definition of one self-existent, underived, independent, supreme Being, would exclude the Son, who is derived. This is the sum of your argument, and clearer than you have put it. But I must observe to you, that this definition, or something like it, hath long passed current with men who believed a Trinity of divine Persons, and were never apprehensive of any such consequence as you would draw from it. It is properly a definition of the ©£žov, the divine nature, abstracting from the consideration of the distinction of Persons, which is the usual method that the Schoolmen and others have taken; and there the words self-existent, underived, independent, are not considered as personal, but essential characters. Necessarilyexisting, uncreated, immutable, all-sufficient, are what they mean in that definition: otherwise it is a definition of the Person of the Father only, singly considered. But if, instead of metaphysics, (which must always be content to stand corrected by Gospel Revelation,) we choose to take our definition of God from Scripture, then that of Me

* Deus est essentia spiritualis, intelligens, verax, bona, pura, justa, misericors, liberrima, immensæ potentiæ, et sapientiæ, Pater æternus qui Filium

« PreviousContinue »