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lancthon, which I have put into the margin, will be more full and complete.
Query XXV. Whether it be not clear from all the genuine remains of
antiquity, that the Catholic Church before the Council of Nice, and even from the beginning, did believe the eternity and consubstantiality of the Son; if either the oldest creeds, as interpreted by those that recite them; or the testimonies of the earliest writers, or the public censures passed upon heretics, or particular passages of the ancientest Fathers, can amount to a proof of a thing of this nature?
YOU tell me, in answer, that it is “ not clear that the « Ante-Nicene Church professed the notion of IndIVI66 DUAL consubstantiality :” that “the objector cannot “ produce one single passage in all Catholic Ante-Nicene 6 antiquity, which proves an INDIVIDUAL or NUMERI“CAL consubstantiality in the three divine Persons.” This answer is scarce becoming the gravity of a man, or the sincerity of a Christian, in so serious and weighty an argument. Did I speak of individual consubstantiality? or, if I had, could I mean it in your sense? I ask, whether the Fathers believed the three Persons to be one substance; and do affirm that they did, universally. You answer, that they did not assert the three Persons to be one Person; which is the constant sense you make of individual. And here you would make a show, as if the objector had been mistaken, and as if you contradicted him: when all resolves into a trifling equivocation, and you really contradict him not at all. That present scholastic notion, as you call it, of three Persons being one Person, Hypostasis, or Suppositum, is nowhere present, that I know of, amongst any that own a Trinity: neither is it the scholastic notion; as any man may see, that will
imaginem suam ab æterno genuit, et Filius imago Patris coæterna, et Spiritus Sanctus procedens a Patre et Filio. Melanct. Loc. Theolog. de Deo,
but look into the Schoolmen, and read with any judgment. Individual has been generally owned, but not in your sense; and numerical too, but in a sense very different from what you pretend to oppose it in: and therefore, to be plain with you, this way of proceeding, in an important controversy, is neither fair towards your adversaries, nor sincere towards the readers; but, at best, is only solemn trifling. You know, or you know little in this controversy, that all the Fathers, almost to a man, either expressly or implicitly, asserted the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father. Call it individual, or call it specific; that is not now the question. They unanimously maintained that the Son was not of any created or mutable substance, but strictly divine ; and so closely and nearly allied to the Father's Person, (in a mysterious way above comprehension,) that the substance of the Son might be justly called the Father's substance, both being one. And this is all that ever any sober Catholic meant by individual or numerical; as I have often observed.
Is not this sufficient to urge against Dr. Clarke and you, who make the Son of an inferior substance, differing entirely in kind from the Father's; in short, a creature, though you care not to speak it in broad terms? This is what you have not so much as one Catholic Post-Nicene or Ante-Nicene writer to countenance you plainly in. The main of your doctrine, the very points wherein your scheme is contained, and on which it turns, and which distinguish you from the present orthodox, stand condemned by all antiquity. Do you imagine all this is to be turned off, only by equivocating upon the word numerical ; or by throwing out the term scholastic, to make weak persons believe, that we have borrowed our doctrine from the Schoolmen only? No: we know, and you may know, if you please to examine, that, as to the main of our doctrine of the blessed Trinity, we have the universal Church, as high as any records reach, concurring with us. To them we appeal, as well as to the Scriptures, . that, together with Scripture, we may be the more secure that we follow the true interpretation. I need not go on to prove that the primitive writers asserted the consubstantiality, because you have not denied it in the sense I intended; and indeed could not. Your slipping a word upon us, and sliding off to another point, may be taken for a confession and acknowledgment, that the Query was just; and should have been answered in the affirmative, could your cause have subsisted, after so large and frank a confession. “As to creeds,” you say, " none of " the three first centuries express the Querist's notion:” meaning your own notion of individual, which is not the Querist's. What follows (p. 118.) is still pursuing the same mistake. Since you have told us, that there is no proof of individual consubstantiality, (that is, of personal identity, as you understand it, and in which sense nobody opposes you,) it would have been fair and ingenuous to have owned that the Fathers did unanimously hold a consubstantiality, in some sense or other. If not numerical, or individual in the strictest sense, was it, think you, specific ? Yet, if so, it will follow that all the Fathers were directly opposite to the Doctor and you; and condemned your notion of the Son's being inferior in kind, nature, substance, &c. Specific unity implies equality of nature; as two men, specifically one with each other, are in nature equal; and so, any other two things of the same sort and kind. This notion, if it were what the Fathers held, you might charge with Tritheism : and, at the same time, you must give them all up, as no way favourable to your hypothesis. But the Fathers constantly took care to signify that they did not mean that the Persons were specifically one, like three human persons having a separate existence independent of each other: nor would they allow three suns, which would be specifically one, to be a proper or suitable illustration; but the rays of the same sun, the streams of the same fountain, and the like; all to intimate a much closer tie, a more substantial union, than specific amounts to. The Persons, the Hypostases, were three; and yet una substantia, as Tertullian expresses it, in all.
You would persuade us, (finding, I supposé, that either specific or individual consubstantiality would be equally against you,) I say, you would persuade us, that it was some oratorical and figurative consubstantiality which the Fathers meant. This I apprehend from what you drop in page 121. where you expressly apply this new solution to the difficulty arising from 'Ouościos in the Nicene Creed. I will not suffer the English reader to go away with this groundless notion, instead of a just answer. Such as know any thing of antiquity do not want to have such pretences confuted : such as do not, may please to take along with them these following considerations. .
1. The doctrine of the consubstantiality appears to have been a constant settled thing; a sort of ruled case, running through all in general, Strange, that they should all rhetoricate in a matter of faith, of so great weight and importance; and that we should not meet with so much as one grave sober writer, to strip the matter of all flourish and varnish, and to tell us the naked truth.
2. It is to be observed, that the notion does not occur only in popular harangues, but in dry debates; chiefly in controversy with heretics, where it concerned the Catholics to speak accurately and properly, and to deliver their sentiments very distinctly,
3. This is farther confirmed from the objections made by heretics to the Catholic doctrine. There were two standing objections made by heretics to the Catholic doctrine: one was, that it inferred a division of the Father's substance: the other, that it was Tritheism. We find footsteps of the former as early as s Justin Martyr. We meet with it in *Tertullian, as urged by Praxeas. Tatian and *Theophilus both allude to it. y Sabellius was full of it';
• Dial. p. 183, 373. Jeb. See Bull. D. F. p. 66, 67, 33. t Contr. Prax. c. 8. u Tat. p. 21. ed. Worth. Theoph. 1. ii. p. 129. 5 Alexand. apud Theod. E. H. I. i. c. 4. p. 17. Athanas. p. 942.
and it was afterwards one of the chiefest pretences of Arius; as may appear from his own Letters, besides many z other evidences. Now, what colour or pretence could there have been for the objection, had not the Catholics professed a proper communication of the same substance? Need we be told that angels and archangels, or any created beings, were derived from God without any abscission from, or division of, his substance ? Or could it ever enter into any man's head to make so weak an objection to the Catholic doctrine, unless a proper consubstantiality had been taught by them? Yet this was the principal, the standing pretence for, and support of, heresy, for near two hundred years together.
The other was Tritheism ; objected all along by the Sabellians, and afterwards (though more sparingly) by the Arians. What kind of Tritheism the Sabellians meant (Tritheism in the highest and strictest sense) appears, not only from the former objection about the division of the Father's substance, but also from the way they took to solve the difficulty; namely, by making Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one and the same Hypostasis, as well as one substance; and their thinking it not beneath the Father himself to have submitted to passion. This makes it extremely probable that the Church, at that time, believed the three Persons to be consubstantial in a proper, not figurative, sense ; in consequence whereof it was pretended that there would be three Gods; in like manner as three human persons, of the same specific nature, are three men.
4. What puts this farther beyond all reasonable doubt, is the method which the Catholics took to answer the two fore-mentioned objections. As to that about division of substance : they never tell the heretics, that there was no manner of ground or colour for the objection: they never say, that the same difficulty would lie against God's creating angels, or archangels, or any other creature ; as