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6. It would be endless almost to proceed in this argument: the rest I shall throw into a narrower compass, and only give hints for your leisure thoughts to inquire into. The strict sense which the ancients had of the word God, as signifying substance, and applying it to the Son, in the same sense; their admitting but one substance to be strictly divine, and their utter abhorrence of any inferior deities; their appropriating worship to the one true God, and worshipping the Son notwithstanding; their unanimous belief of the Son's Being eternal, uncreated, omnipotent, and of his being Creator, Preserver, and Sustainer of the universe: any one of these, singly almost, would be sufficient for the proof of a proper consubstantiality, as asserted by the Ante-Nicene Catholic writers : but all together, and taken with the other particulars before mentioned, they make so full, so clear, so ample a demonstration of a matter of fact, that a man must be of a very peculiar constitution, who, after having well considered the evidences, can make the least doubt or scruple of it. And this I hope may be sufficient in answer to your pretence of an oratorical or figurative consubstantiality; a pretence, which you lay down with an unusual diffidence, and without so much as one reason, or authority, to support it.
It being evident, from what hath been said, that it was a proper, not figurative, consubstantiality, which the Ante-Nicene Fathers inviolably maintained ; this is all I am concerned for. As to the question, whether it shall be called specific or numerical, I am in no pain about it. Neither of the names exactly suits it; nor perhaps any other we can think on. It is such a consubstantiality as preserves the unity, without destroying the distinct personality ; such as neither Sabellians nor Arians would come into, but the Catholics maintained, with equal vigour, against both. It is a medium, to preserve the priority of the Father, and withal the divinity, the essential divinity, of Son and Holy Ghost: in a word; it is the sober, middle way, between the extravagancies of both extremes.
Query XXVI. Whether the Doctor did not equivocate or prevaricate
strangely, in saying, doo The generality of writers before “ the Council of Nice were, in the whole, clearly on his “side :” when it is manifest, they were, in the general, no farther on his side, than the allowing a subordination amounts to ; no farther than our own Church is on his side, while in the main points of difference, the ETERNITY and CONSUBSTANTIALITY, they are clearly against him? that is, they were on his side, so far as we acknowledge him to be right, but no farther.
IN defence of the Doctor, you appeal to his very numerous, and, as you say, plain quotations from the ancient authors. And this, you promise beforehand, will be made further evident to all learned and unprejudiced persons, as soon as “ Dr. Whitby's Observations on Bishop Bull's “ Defens. Fid. Nic. appear in the world.” As to the Doctor's pretended plain quotations from the ancient authors, they have not plainly, nor at all determined against the coeternity and consubstantiality of the Son, the points in question; and therefore can do the Doctor no service: but, on the contrary, the Ante-Nicene writers, in general, have determined plainly against him, as to the main of his doctrine, wherein he differs from us. In asserting which, I say no more than the great Athanasius told the Arians long ago; and it is fact, that all the writers before them, of any repute or judgment, were directly against them. “e We give you demonstration,” says he, “ that « our doctrine has been handed down to us from fathers " to fathers. But you, ye revivers of Judaism and disci“ ples of Caiphas, what writers can you bring to father “ your tenets ? Not a man can you name, of any repute “ for sense or judgment. All to a man are against “you,” &c. To the same purpose speaks St. Austin, in a studied discourse, which may be supposed to contain his coolest and most serious thoughts. “f All the Catholic “ interpreters of the Old or New Testament, that I could “ read, who have wrote before me on the Trinity, which “ is God, intended to teach, conformable to Scripture, " that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost do, by the insepara“ ble equality of one and the same substance, make up “ the unity divine.” Here you may observe the sum of the & Catholic doctrine. The same homogeneous substance, and inseparability. The first makes each Hypostasis, res divina ; the last makes all to be una substantia, una summa res, one undivided, or individual, or numerical substance; one God. This is the ancient Catholic doctrine; and, I think, of the Schools too; though the Schoolmen have perplexed it with innumerable subtilties. Hilary expresses it briefly thus : “ Naturæ indissimilis, atque inseparabilis “ unitas.” This, I say, is the doctrine; confute it, if you please, or if you can: in the meanwhile, however, let us honestly own the fact. But to proceed.
d Answer to Dr. Wells, p. 28.
• Athanas. de Decret. Syn. Nic. p. 233. f Omnes, quos legere potui, qui ante me scripserunt de Trinitate, quæ est Deus, divinorum librorum veteruin et novorum Catholici tractatores hoc intenderunt secundum Scripturas docere, quod Pater, et Filius, et Spiritus Sanctus, unius ejusdemque substantiæ inseparabili æqualitate divinam insinuent unitatem. Aug. Trin. 1. i. c. 3. p. 753.
There were many writings extant in the times of Athanasius and Austin, which have not come down to us; and therefore their testimonies, in the case, are of the greater force. I might mention other Catholics, about that time, who appealed to antiquity, with all the assurance and freedom imaginable. But the most remarkable instance to our purpose is, that when in the time of Theodosius the Arians were pressed by the Catholics in dispute, and fairly challenged to refer the matter in controversy to the concurring judgment of the writers before them, and to put it upon that issue ; the Arians declined it, and durst not abide the trial. See the story at large, in h Socrates and iSozomen. So dull were the Catholics at that time, nay, so unthinking were the Arians too, that they could not perceive, what is now so clear to the Doctor, that the generality of writers, before the Council of Nice, were on the Arian side: but one party was confident, and the other suspected, at least, that the contrary was true.
& I shall add another passage of St. Austin, to explain his sense more clearly.
Trinitas propter Trinitatem Personarum, et unus Deus propter inseparabilem Divinitatem, sicut unus Omnipotens propter inseparabilem Omnipotentiam. Ita ut etiam cum de singulis quæritur, unusquisque eorum et Deus et Omnipotens esse respondeatur; cum vero de omnibus simul, non tres Dii, vel tres Omnipotentes, sed unus Deus Omnipotens : tanta inest in tribus inseparabilis unitas, quæ sic se voluit prædicari. August. in Civit. Dei, 1. xi. c. 24.
But I need not take this indirect way of confuting the Doctor's assertion; though it affords us a very strong presumption, and is of much greater weight and authority than the single judgment of any of the moderns : many of the Ante-Nicene writings, by the good providence of God, are yet extant, and can speak for themselves; besides that the incomparable Bishop Bull has unanswerably defended them, and vindicated them from all such exceptions as appeared to have any shadow of truth or probability in them. To show you how little reason the Doctor or yourself hath to boast of the Ante-Nicene writers as favourable to your cause, I shall here set down several positions, in which the Doctor and you run mani. festly counter to the whole stream of antiquity.
1. That the Son is not consubstantial with God the Father. You are directly opposite to all antiquity in this your leading position, on which the rest hang, and on which the controversy turns. This is very clear from the testimonies collected by Bishop Bull, and from what additional observations I have made under the last Query.
2. That the Son is not coelernal with the Father. Consubstantiality implies coeternity : besides that the aforementioned learned Prelate has given us numerous direct testimonies for it from the Ante-Nicene Fathers, above
b Lib. v. e. 10.
i Ibid, vii. c. 12.
twenty of them; not one of any note plainly contradicting them. These two main points being determined against you, the rest are of less moment. Yet I cannot find that the ancients agreed with you in your other inferior positions, which you bring in as under-props to your scheme.
3. That God is a relative word, Jeòs and Jeórns signifying not substance, but dominion and authority. This is directly k contrary to all Catholic antiquity, a very few instances excepted.
4. That God the Father only was God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This position I have shown to be contrary to the sentiments of the Ante-Nicene writers.
5. That the titles of one, only, &c. are exclusive of the Son. This also I have shown, in these papers, to be directly contrary to the judgment of the ancients.
6. That the Son had not distinct worship paid him till after his resurrection. This, in the sense wherein you understand it, is not true; nor agreeable to the sentiments of the ancient Church.
7. That Father and Son (or any two Persons) ought not to be called one God. I have referred to the Ante-Nicene writers, who so called them, more than once. Some of the testimonies may be seen at large in Dr. Fiddes.
8. That the title of God, in Scripture, in an absolute construction, always signifies the Father. Directly con
'k See Fiddes, vol. i. p. 375, &c. and what I have observed above, p. 60. Nothing more common than Isórns for divine nature (as évIywrórns also for the human) in ecclesiastical writers. I shall point to a few instances only out of many.
Melito apud Cav. Hist. Lit. vol. ii. p. 33. Grabe, Spicileg. vol. i. p. 245. Hippolyt. vol. i. p. 226. vol. ii. p. 24. Orig.contr. Cels. p. 342, 404. Cyril. Hierosol. Catech. xi. p. 142. Cyril. Alex. Thesaur. p. 232. Dial. i. de Trin. p. 405, Damasc. de Orth. Fid. 1. ii. c. 11.
N. B. There is, in strictness, some difference between To Isãoy and grótus, (though the latter is often used for the former,) such nearly as between concrete and abstract; but still Jeórns refers to nature and substance, (as Osos also generally does,) not dominion. Abstract names of substances are not very common indeed. (See Locke, H. U. 1. iii. c. 8.) but here there was a necessity for it.