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sense applied to the reconciled penitent. As our Lord is the Priest and King of His redeemed, they, as members of Him, are accounted kings and priests also. They are said to be Christs, or the anointed, to partake of the Divine Nature, to be the well-beloved of God, His sons, one with Him, and heirs of glory; in order to express the fulness and the transcendant excellence of the blessings gained to the Saints by Christ. In all these forms of speech, no religious mind runs the risk of confusing its own privileges with the real prerogatives of Him who gave them; yet it is obviously difficult in argument to discriminate between the primary and secondary use of the words, and to elicit and exhibit the delicate reasons lying in the context of Scripture for conclusions, which the common sense of a Christian is impatient as well as shocked to hear disputed. Who would so trifle with words, to take a parallel case, as to argue that, because Christians are said by St. John to “know all things, that therefore God is not omniscient in a sense infinitely above man's highest intelligence ?
It may be observed, moreover, that the Arians were inconsistent in their application of the allegorical rule, by which they attempted to interpret Scripture; and showed as great deficiency in their philosophical conceptions of God, as in their practical devotion to Him. They seem to have fancied that some of His acts were more comprehensible than others, and might accordingly be made the basis on which the rest might be interpreted. They referred the divine gennesis or generation to the notion of creation; but creation is in fact as mysterious as the divine gennesis; that is, we are as little able to understand our own words, when we speak of the world's being brought out of nothing at God's word, as when we confess, that His Eternal Perfections are reiterated, without being doubled, in the person of His Son. “ How is it,” asks Athanasius, “that the impious men dare to speak flippantly on subjects too sacred to approach, mortals as they are, and incapable of explaining even God's works upon earth? Why do I say, His earthly works ? let them treat of themselves, if so be they can investigate their own nature; yet venturous and self-confident, they tremble not before the glory of God, which Angels are fain reverently to look into, though in nature and rank far more excellent than they..". Accordingly he argues that nothing is gained by resolving one of the divine operations into another ; that to make, when attributed to God, is essentially distinct from the same act when ascribed to man, as incomprehensible as to give birth or begeto; and consequently that it is our highest wisdom to take the truths of Scripture as we find them there, and use them for the purposes for which they are vouchsafed, without proceeding accurately to systematize them or to explain them away. Far from elucidating, we are evidently enfeebling the revealed doctrine, by substituting onlycreated for only-begotten; for if the words are synonymous, why should the latter be insisted on in Scripture? Accordingly, it is proper to make a distinction between the primary and the literal meaning of a term. All the terms which human language applies to the Supreme
5 Athan. on Matt. xi. 22. § 6.
s Athan. de Decr. Nic. 11 ; vide also Greg. Naz. Orat. 35, p. 566. Euseb. Eccl. Theol. i. 12.
Being, may perhaps be more or less figurative; but their primary and secondary meaning may still remain as distinct, as when they are referred to earthly objects. We need not give up the primary meaning of the word Son as opposed to the secondary sense of adoption, because we forbear to use it in its literal and material sense.
4. This being the general character of the Arian reasonings, it is natural to inquire what was the object towards which they tended. Now it will be found, that this audacious and elaborate sophistry could not escape one of two conclusions :—the establishment either of a sort of ditheism, or, as the more practical alternative, of a mere humanitarianism as regards our Lord; either a heresy tending to paganism, or the virtual atheism of philosophy. If the professions of the Arians are to be believed, they confessed our Lord to be God, God in all respects?, full and perfect, yet at the same time to be infinitely distant from the perfections of the One Eternal Cause. Here at once they are committed to a ditheism; but Athanasius drives them on to the extreme of polytheism. “If,” he says," the Son were an object of worship for His transcendent glory, then every subordinate being is bound to worship his superior S.” But so repulsive is the notion of a secondary God both to reason, and much more to Christianity, that the real tendency of Arianism lay towards the sole remaining alternative, the humanitarian doctrine.--Its essential agreement with the heresy of Paulus has already been incidentally shown; it differed from it only when the pressure of controversy required it. Its history is the proof of this. It started with a boldness not inferior to that of Paulus; but as soon as it was attacked, it suddenly coiled itself into a defensive posture, and plunged amid the thickets of verbal controversy. At first it had not scrupled to admit the peccable nature of the Son ; but it soon learned to disguise such consequences of its doctrine, and avowed that, in matter of fact, He was indefectible. Next it borrowed the language of Platonism, which, without committing it to any real renunciation of its former declarations, admitted of the dress of a high and almost enthusiastic piety. Then it professed an entire agreement with the Catholics, except as to the adoption of the single word consubstantial, which they urged upon it, and concerning which, it affected to entertain conscientious scruples. At this time it was ready to confess that our Lord was the true God, God of God, born timeapart, or before all time, and not a creature as other creatures, but peculiarly the Son of God, and His accurate Image. Afterwards, changing its ground, it protested, as we shall see, against non-scriptural expressions, of which itself had been the chief inventor; and proposed an union of all opinions, on the comprehensive basis of a creed, in which the Son should be merely declared to be “in all things like the Father,” or simply "like Him.” This versatility of profession is an illustration of the character given of the Arians by Athanasius, some pages back, which is further exemplified in their conduct at the Council in which they were condemned; but it is here adduced to show the danger to which the Church was exposed from a party who had no fixed tenet, except that of opposition to the true notion of Christ's divinity; and whose teaching, accordingly, had no firm footing of internal consistency to rest upon, till it descended to the notion of His simple humanity, that is, to the doctrine of Artemas and Paulus, though they too, as well as Arius, had enveloped their impieties in such admissions and professions, as assimilated it more or less in appearance to the faith of the Catholic Church.
7 πληρής Θεός. s Cudw. Intell. Syst. 4. § 36. Petav. ii. 12. $ 6.
The conduct of the Arians at Nicæa, as referred to, was as follows.
“When the Bishops in Council assembled,” says Athanasius, an eye-witness," were desirous of ridding the Church of the impious expressions invented by Arius, 'the Son is out of nothing,' is a creature,
once was 'not, of an alterable nature, and perpetuating those which we receive on the authority of Scripture, that the Son is the Only-begotten of God by nature, the Word, Power, the sole Wisdom of the Father, very God, as the Apostle John says, and as Paul, the Radiance of His glory, and the express Image of His Person; the Eusebians, influenced by their own heterodoxy, said one to another, 'Let us agree to this; for we too are of God, there being one God, of whom are all things.?.... The Bishops, however, discerning their cunning, and the artifice adopted by their impiety, in order to express more clearly the of God,' wrote down of God's substance,' creaturės being said to be of God, as not existing of themselves without cause, but having an origin of their production; but the Son being peculiarly of the substance of the Father. Again, on the Bishops asking the few advocates of Arianism present, whether they allowed the Son to be, not a creature, but