« PreviousContinue »
The passages in question are two only. The first is John X. 30. “I and my Father are one,'—that is, one in essence, as it is commonly interpreted. But God forbid that we should decide rashly on any point relative to the Deity. Two things may be called one in more than one way. Scripture saith, and the Son saith, “I and my Father are one,'-I bow to their authority. Certain commentators conjecture that they are one in essence,-) reject what is merely man's invention. For the Son has not left us to conjecture in what manner he is one with the Father, (whatever member of the Church may have first arrogated to himself the merit of the discovery,) but explains the doctrine himself most fully, so far as we are concerned to know it. The Father and the Son are one, not indeed in essence, for he had himself said the contrary in the preceding verse, my Father, which gave them me, is greater than all,' (see also xiv. 28. my Father is greater than 1,') and in the following verses he distinctly denies that he made himself God, in saying, “I and my Father are one;' he insists that he had only said as follows, which implies far less, v. 36. say ye of him whom the Father hath sanctified, and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest; because I said, I am the Son of God ?? This must be spoken of two persons not only not co-essential, but not coequal. Now if the Son be laying down a doctrine respecting the unity of the divine essence in two persons of the Trinity, how is it that he does not rather attribute the same unity of essence to the three persons ? Why does he divide the indivisible Trinity ? For there cannot be unity without totality. Therefore, on the authority of the opinions holden by my opponents themselves, the Son and the Father without the Spirit are not one in essence. How then are they one ? it is the province of Christ alone to acquaint us with this, and accordingly he does acquaint us with it. In the first place, they are one, inasmuch as they speak and act with unanimity; and so he explains himself in the same chapter, after the Jews had misunderstood his saying: x. 38. "believe the works ; that ye may know and believe that the Father is in me, and I in him. xiv. 10. believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me ? the words that I speak unto you, I speak not of myself, but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works.' Here he evidently distinguishes the Father from himself in his whole capacity, but asserts at the same time that the Father remains in him ; which does not denote unity of essence, but only intimacy of communion. Secondly, he declares hinnself to be one with the Father in the same manner as we are one with him,--that is, not in essence, but in love, in communion, in agreement, in charity, in spirit, in glory. John xiv. 20, 21. 6 at that day ye shall know that I am in the Father, and ye in me, and I in you : he that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father.' xvii. 21. that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee; that they also may be one in us.' v. 23. • I in them, , and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one, and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them as thou hast loved me,' v. 22. the glory which thou gavest me I have given them, that they may be one, even as we are one.' When
the Son has shown in so many modes how he and his Father are one, why should I set them all aside ? why should I, on the strength of my own reasoning, though in opposition to reason itself, devise another mode, which makes them one in essence; or why, if already devised by some other person, adopt it, in preference to Christ's own mode? If it be proposed on the single authority of the Church, the true doctrine of the orthodox Church herself teaches me otherwise ; inasmuch as it instructs me to listen to the words of Christ before all other. *
The other passage, and which according to the general opinion affords the clearest foundation for the received doctrine of the essential unity of the three persons, is 1 John v. 7. there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.' But not to mention that this verse is wanting in the Syriacf and the other two Oriental versions, the Arabic and the Ethiopic, as well as in the greater part of the ancient Greek manuscripts, and that in those manuscripts which actually contain it, many various readings occur, it no more necessarily proves those to be essentially one, who are said to be one in heaven, than it
** The best of those that then wrote (in the first ages of Christianity) disclaim that any man should repose on them, and send all to the Scriptures.' Of Reformation in England. Prose Works, I. 11.
ị This is true of the manuscripts of the old Syriac version, but the printed editions of the Syriac as well as of the Armenian versions contain the disputed clause. See Bishop Marsh's Letters to Archdeacon Travis. Preface, Notes 8, 9, 10, 11. With respect to the Greek manuscripts, Milton expresses himself cautiously. It now appears that the clause is not found in any Greek manuscript written before the sixteenth century, which has been yet collated. For an elaborate account of the arguments for and against its authenticity, see Horne's Introduction, &c. Part II. Chap. iv. Sect. 5.9 6. where references are given to the principal authorities.
those to be essentially one, who are said to be one on earth in the following verse. And not only Erasmus, but even Beza, however unwillingly, acknowledged (as may be seen in their own writings)* that if John be really the author of the verse, he is only speaking here, as in the last quoted passage, of an unity of agreement and testimony. Besides, who are the three who are said to bear witness? That they are three Gods, will not be admitted ; therefore neither is it the one God, but one record or one testimony of three witnesses, which is implied. But he who is not co-essential with God the Father, cannot be co-equal with the Father. This text however will be discussed more at large in the following chapter.
But, it is objected, although Scripture does not say in express words that the Father and the Son are one in essence, yet reason proves the truth of the doctrine from these, as well as from other passages of Scripture.
In the first place, granting, (which I am far from doing,) that this is the case, yet on a subject so sublime, and so far above our reason, where the very. elements and first postulates, as it were, of our faith are concerned, belief must be founded, not on mere reason, but on the word of God exclusively, where the language of the revelation is most clear and particular. Reason itself, however, protests strongly against the doctrine in question ; for how can reason establish (as it must in the present case) a position contrary to reason ? Undoubtedly the product of reason must be something consistent with reason, not a notion as absurd as it is removed from all human comprehension. Hence we conclude, that this opinion is agreeable neither to Scripture nor reason. The other alternative therefore must be adopted, namely, that if God be one God, and that one God be the Father, and if notwithstanding the Son be also called God, the Son must have received the name and nature of Deity from God the Father, in conformity with his decree and will, after the manner stated before. This doctrine is not disproved by reason, and Scripture teaches it in innumerable
*. Annon illico poterunt tergiversari, de consensu dictum esse, non de eadem essentia? ..... Nihil autem æque confirmat auctoritatem testimonii ut consensus. Itaque consentiunt in terra Spiritus aqua et sanguis. Ad hæc tria sunt unum, sicut Pater, Filius et Spiritus Sanctus upum sunt ? Nemo dicit, opinor, sed testimonii consensu sunt unum; ita Pater, Verbum et Spiritus Sanctus sunt unum.' Erasmi Responsio ad Notationes novas Ed. Leid. Tom. IX. p. 278. Edit. Lug. Bat. 1703. • Et hi tres unum sunt : id est, ita prorsus consentiunt ac si unus testis essent; uti re vera unum sunt si ovcíev spectes ; sed de illa (ut mihi quidem videtur) non agitur hoc in loco. Beza in loc.
passages. But those who insist that the Son is one God with the Father, consider their point as susceptible of ample proof, even without the two texts already exam'ined, (on which indeed some admit that no reliance is to be placed) if it can be demonstrated from a sufficient number of Scripture testimonies that the name and attributes and works of God, as well as divine honours, are habitually ascribed to the Son. To
proceed therefore in the same line of argument, I do not ask them to believe that the Father alone and none else is God, unless I shall have proved, first, that in every passage each of the particulars above mentioned is attributed in express terms only to one God the Father, as well by the Son himself as by his apostles. Secondly, that wherever they are attributed to