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is the avowed design clear through Justin's Dialogue ; and the like may be said of Novatian, Tertullian, Cyprian, Irenæus, and the rest, (except Eusebius, who sometimes varied in this matter,) where they cite these texts, which I have given you a list of.
The argument they used is this. There is a person frequently styled God and Lord, Jehovah, Almighty, &c. who conversed with Adam, appeared to the Patriarchs, and all along headed and conducted the people of the Jews. This Person could not be an angel only: such high titles could never belong to any mere angel. He could not be God the Father: his office was ministerial; he is called an angel; he appeared; he condescended to take upon him human shape, and other resemblances f. These things do not suit with the first Person of the Trinity. Well then, who could he be but God the Son? who being really God, might, in his own right, truly and justly assume those high titles; and yet being second only in the ever blessed Trinity, and designing, in his own due time, to take human nature upon him, might more suitably condescend to act ministerially among men, (a proper prelude to his incarnation, which should come after,) and so might be, not only God, but an angel too. This is their argument, as every one knows, that knows any thing of these matters. Now, suppose that these good fathers had understood, Gen. xxxi. 13. as you do; “ I am the God of “ Bethel;” that is, My Father, whom I represent, is the God of Bethel ; what a trifling argument would you here put into their mouths ? “ Christ declares that the 6 Person whom he represents is God and Lord: there“ fore Christ is God,” &c. Or propose the argument thus, upon your hypothesis : “ The Lord God (the Fa
h I do not find, that the pure simplicity of the divine nature was ever urged, in this case, as a reason why it could not be the Father: nor, that the human affections and actions ascribed to this angel were understood literally, or otherwise than by way of figure. Tertullian gives a very dif. ferent account of it, showing how all might be understood Ison RETW5. Cont. Marc. I. ü.
“ ther) called unto Adam, Gen. viii. 9. God said unto “ Abraham, &c. Gen. xxi. 12. that is, God the Father " spoke by his Son; therefore the Son is called God, and “is God.” Can any thing be more ridiculous? The conclusion which Justin Martyr draws from the whole, and which he triumphantly urges against Trypho, is this ; that Christ is really Lord and God, & Ocòs xaneitai, aj Oeós ési xal ésab. The other writers draw the same conclusion from the same premises; a conclusion without any thing to support it, had they understood these texts, as you pretend they did. In short, the very ground and foundation of all they say upon this article is built upon a supposition diametrically opposite to yours; so little countenance have you from antiquity. Farther, they all conclude that the Person declaring himself to be God and Lord, &c. could not be an angel; not a mere angel. There is some sense in this; if you suppose an angel declaring, in his own person, that he is God and Lord. It is blasphemous and absurd for any mere angel to make such declaration. But, supposing it meant of the Person of the Father, why might not any angel declare, what is certainly true, that the Father is God, or deliver God's errand in his own words ? Had the Fathers thought as you do, they must have argued thus, very weakly: It could not be a mere angel that appeared, or that spoke thus and thus. Why? Because the Person who sent him, and who undoubtedly is the God of the universe, is called God and Lord. Of all the silly things that ignorance and malice have combined to throw upon the primitive martyrs and defenders of the faith of Christ, I have not met with one comparable to this. I am therefore willing to believe that you did not mean to charge them with it, but only expressed yourself darkly and obscurely; which yet should not have been done, by one who would be careful not to mislead even an unwary reader.
i Just. Dial. p. 176. ed. Jebb. See my Answer to Dr. Whitby, p. 52, &c.
I would here make one remark, and leave it with you; and that is, of the k strict sense wherein the ancients used the word God, as applied to the Son. They argued that it could not be an angel that appeared. Why? Because the Person appearing was called God. Thus Novatian, who speaks the sense of all the rest. Quomodo ergo Deus “si angelus fuit; cum non sit hoc nomen angelis unquam
concessum? But how then is he God, if no more than
angel, since angels never had the privilege of so high a " title?" Novatian allows (ch. 15.) that angels have been called Gods, meaning in the loose figurative sense : but here he plainly signifies that the word God, when applied to the Son, is to be understood in the strict and proper sense : and thus the ancients in general understood it. Angels, the very highest order of creatures, were not by them thought worthy of the name and title of God. It would have been highly absurd, in their judgment, to have given it them, in such a sense, and in such circumstances, as they applied it to the Son. They knew nothing of your relative sense of the word: they knew better. But this by the way: let us return to our subject. You will ask me now, perhaps, what did some of the Fathers mean, those especially whom you have quoted in the margin, (p. 22.) by the Son of God's appearing, and speaking in the Person of God the Father? I have shown you what they certainly did not mean : and if I could not so readily account for the other, it is of less moment; the cause being little concerned in it. But I shall endeavour to satisfy you in this point also.
You have but two quotations which are any thing to the purpose; one out of Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, and the other from Tertullian. And they indeed, verbally, may seem to countenance your notion; though, in reality, they meant nothing like it. But what did they mean;
k Other arguments of the strict sense of the word God, as used by the Ante-Nicene writers, and applied to the Son, may be seen iu Dr. Fiddes, p. 374, &c.
1 Cap. 26.
one by, m įv a gooców ToŨ Oedū, the other by, n auctorilate et nomine (Patris ?) Let it be considered, that the second Person, in the texts above cited, is not represented under his own personal distinguishing character, as a Son, or second Person, or Messiah, or Mediator, as he has been since. It is not said, that the Son of the Lord God, called unto Adam ; but the “ Lord God called,” &c. It is not, I am the Son of the God of Bethel, &c. but “ I am the “God of Bethel ;” and so in the rest. Christ therefore, in these, or the like texts, is not represented under his own peculiar character; but under such a character as is.common to the Godhead, to the Father and him too. This character, since the distinction of persons has been revealed to us, has been, in a more eminent and peculiar manner, reserved to the Father. He is represented eminently now as God; and Christ, as Son of God, or Mediator, or Messiah. Christ having before took upon him that part, character, or office, which since that time has been reserved, in a peculiar manner, to the Father, may be said to have acted in the Person of the Father, or in the name of the Father; that is, under the same character or capacity which the Father now chiefly bears with respect to men. This he might well do, being equally qualified for either. As Son of God, he was really God; and as Son of the Almighty, he was Almighty, in his own rights as p Tertullian expresses it: and therefore might as justly bear the style and title of “Lord God,” “God of Abraham," &c. while he acted in that capacity, as he did that of “Mediator,” “Messiah,” “Son of the Father,” &c. after he condescended to act in another, and to discover his personal relation.
You cited these words of Tertullian : “ Cujus aucto“ ritate 9 et nomine ipse erat Deus, qui videbatur, Dei “ Filius.” Which might have been rendered thus. “The “Son of God who appeared, he was God (acting) in his
Theoph. ad Autol. 1. ii. p. 229. Ox. ed.
. Gen. iii. 9. P Suo jure omnipotens qua Filius Omnipotentis- -cum et Filius Omnipotentis tam omnipotens sit, quam Deus Dei Filius. Prux. c. xvii. p. 520.
9 Contr. Marc. 1. ii. c. 27.
66 Sed et
(the Father's) name, and with his authority.” And had you but cited the next immediate words, you might have discovered the true meaning of that passage. “penes nos, Christus in persona Christi, quia et hoc “ modo noster est :” that is to say, But with us (Christians) Christ is also understood under the character or Person of the Messiah; because he is ours in this capacity also; that is, he is not only our God, but our Mediator and Redeemer; and under that character we receive him, as being more peculiar to him, beyond what he has in common with the Father. Formerly he was received and adored under the one common character of God, Lord, and Jehovah; not merely as representative of God the Father, or as invested with his authority, but as strictly and truly God, consubstantial with God the Father; according to the unanimous opinion of all the ancients, and of those in particular who speak of his acting in the name or Person of the Father. But now, having a new title to distinguish him by, we receive him in both capacities : as God, by nature; and as Messiah, or Mediator, by office.
The sum then of the case is this: when Christ appeared to the Patriarchs, and claimed their obedience, homage, and adoration, he did not do this under the name and character which he has since discovered to be personal and peculiar to him; but under another, which is his too, but in common with the Father; namely, that of “ Lord “God,” “God Almighty,” &c. and being since discovered not to be the Father himself, but the Son; not unoriginated, but God of God; all that he did must be referred back to the Father, the Head and Fountain of all; whose authority he exercised, whose orders he executed, and whose Person, Character, or Office, he (in some sense) represented and sustained. Thus, under the $ New Testa
* See True Script. Doct. continued, p. 196.
• Vid. Tertull. contr. Prax. c. xxi. p. 512. Ego veni in Patris mei nomine-Adeo semper Filius erat in Dei et Regis et Domini, et Omnipotentis, et altissimi nomine.