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Waterland (vol. 1, part 2, p. 157,) gives the following positions of some or other of the Arians in respect of the Son:
1. Not consubstantial with God the Father.
2. Not co-eternal, however begotten before all ages, or without any known limitation of time.
3. Of a distinct inferior nature, however otherwise perfectly like the Father.
4. Not strictly and essentially God, but partaking of the Father's Divinity.
5. A creature of the Father's, however unlike to the rest of the creatures, or superior to them.
6. Not like the Father, but in nature and substance like other creatures.
7. Made in time: there having been a time when he was not, made of nothing.
8. Far inferior to the Father in knowledge, power and perfections. 9. Mutable in his nature, as a creature, though unchangeable by decree.
10. Dependent on the good pleasure of the Father for his past, present, and future being.
11. Not knowing the Father perfectly, nor himself; his knowledge being that of a creature, and therefore, finite.
12. Made a litile before the world was made; and for the sake of those that should be after him.
These are the Arian principles, brought down as low as they well can go. Arius, the author and founder of the sect, seems to have gone through all those steps at the first, and indeed, all of them, except the last, hang together, and are but the necessary consequences of each other. Those that stopped in the midway, or sooner, might be more pious and modest,
From "Hymnarium Anglicanum," or, “Hymns of the Ancient Anglican Church," pp. 47, 50.
but less consistent men. The nine last particulars were, for some time, and by the Arians in general, waived, dropped, not insisted on, (as being too gross to take,) or else artfully insinuated only, under specious and plausible expressions. The first they all owned and insisted the most upon, having many pretenses to urge against consubstantiality, either name or thing. The second and third they divided upon, as to the way of expression; some speaking their minds plainly, others with inore reserve ; not so much denying the co-eternity, as forbearing to affirm it. This was the method which the Arians took to propagate their heresy. We do not wonder if they were often forced to make use of collusions, equivocations, and double entendres ; for, being obliged, for fear of offence, to use Catholic words, though without a Catholic meaning; and to maintain their main principle, without seeming to maintain its necessary consequences, (nay, seeming to deny and respect them,) it could not be otherwise. And not only the Catholics frequently complain of those smooth gentlemen, but some even of their own party, could not endure such shuffling; thinking it became honest and sincere men, either to speak out, or to say nothing. Of this kind were Aetius and Eunomius, with their followers, called Anomæans and Exoucontii, being indeed, no other, in respect to the Son's divinity, than such as Arius was at first; and speaking almost as plainly and bluntly as he did. After the disguises and softening, and colourings, had been carried on so long, till all men of sense saw plainly, that it was high time to leave off trifling, and to come from words to things; and that there was no medium, but either to settle into orthodoxy, or, to sit down with the pure Arians and Anomæans, (if they would determine anything, and be sincere and consistent men) some choose the former and some the latter, according as they more inclined to one way or the other. There is certainly no medium betwixt orthodoxy and Arianism, (for *Semi-Arianism, if so understood, is perfect nonsense and contradiction) there being no medium between God and creature, between unmade and made. Men may conceal their sentiments, suppress consequences and speak their minds but by halves; and so one erring may be more cautious, or more artful than another; but, in truth and reality, every man that disowns the consubstantiality, rightly understood, is as much an Arian as Eunomius or Aetius, or any of the ancient Arians were, or,
as Arius himself, excepting only some few particulars, which were not his standing and settled opinions.
"The Son is supposed to be a creature of the Father's. Now, if his being of, or from, the Father, in this sense, makes him one God with the Father, it will follow that angels, or men, or, even things inanimate, are one God with the Father also. Indeed, to do you justice, you do not so much as pretend, that unity of principle, or anything else, can make him one God with the Father ; which is enough to show how very widely you differ from the ancients, in the main point of all. They thought it necessary to assert that Father and Son were both, one God. So Irenæus, Athenagoras, Tertullian, Clement of Alexandrinus, Origen, Hippolytus, Lactantius, and even Eusebius himself, after some debates upon it, as may appear from the testimonies before referred to ; and of the Post-Nicene Catholic writers, in general, every body knows how they contended for it. The thought that the divinity of the Son could not be otherwise secured, and Polytheism at the same time avoided, than by asserting Father and Son to be one God; and they thought right. But what do you do? or how can you contrive to clear your scheme? We ask if the Son be God, as well as the Father? You say, yes. How, then, we ask, is there but one God? Your answer is, the Father is supreme, and, therefore, he, singly, is the one God. This is taking away what you gave us before, and retracting what you asserted of the Son. If supremacy only makes a
*Semi-Arianus, et Semi-Deus, et Semi-creatura perinde monstra et portenta sunt, quæ sani et pii omnes merito exhorrent.-Bull D. F., p. 284.
person God, the Son is no God, upon your principles; or, if he is God notwithstanding, then Father and Son are two Gods. Turn this over as often as you please, you will find it impossible to extricate yourself from it. You can say only this: that you do not admit two supreme Gods. This is very true, no more did the Pagan Polytheists, nor the idolatrous Samaritans, nor others condemned in Scripture for Polytheism."
The allegations made by Unitarians therefore, that this doctrine is absurd and contradictory, is founded on ignorance and presumption. It is also suicidal, since all such objections apply with equal, if not greater, force to the Unitarian hypothesis. . The existence of God as an omnipotent, omnipresent, and yet spiritual being, involves every difficulty and every apparent contradiction imputed to the doctrine of the Trinity, and is just as far beyond the utmost capacity of human reason. Difficulties insurmountable to human reason inhere in the very nature of the subject; and such difficulties therefore, must be one characteristic of a divine revelation and pre-eminently, as it relates to the nature of God and his mode of existence. Besides, to use the words of Bishop Horsley, “hath the Arian hypothesis no difficulty, when it ascribes both the first formation and the perpetual government of the universe, not to the Deity, but to an inferior being ? Can any power or wisdom less than supreme, be a sufficient ground for the trust we are required to place in Providence ? Make the wisdom and the power of our ruler what you please ; still, upon the Arian principle, it is the wisdom and the power of the creature. Where then, will be the certainty that the evil which we find in the world, hath not crept in through some imperfections in the original contrivance, or in the present management? Since every intellect below the first, may be liable to error, and any power, short of the supreme, may be inadequate to purposes of a certain magnitude. But if evil may have thus crept in, what assurance can we have that it will ever be extirpated ? In the Socinian scheme, is it no difficulty that the capacity of
or of any created being, should contain that wisdom by which God made the universe ? Whatever is meant by the Word in St. John's gospel, it is the same Word of which the Evangelist says, that “all things were made by it,” and that it "was itself made flesh." If this Word be the divine attribute Wisdom, then that attribute, in the degree which was equal to the formation of the universe, in this view of the Scripture doctrinie, was conveyed entire into the mind of a mere man, the son of a Jewish carpenter. A much greater difficulty, in my apprehension, than any that is to be found in the Catholic faith.
The Unitarian hypothesis implies also, that the Son was born before all times, yet is not eternal; not a creature, yet not God; of God's substance, yet not of the same substance; and his exact and perfect resemblance in all things, yet not a second Deity--a creed really involving those contradictions in terms of which the orthodox are wrongfully accused. It cannot escape from one of two conclusions—“either the establishment of a sort of polytheism or as the more practical alternative, that of the mere humanity of Christ ; i. e. either the superstition of paganism, or the virtual atheism of philosophy. It confesses our Lord to be God, yet at the same time infinitely distant from the perfections of the One Eternal cause. Here, at once, a ditheism is acknowledged. But Athanasius pushes on the admission to that of an unlimited 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." 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 scheme.'
The Arian creed, if considered in all its bearings and deductions, will, perhaps, appear much less rational and philosophical than has been sometimes asserted. It has been described as a simpler and less mystical
*See Newman's History of Arians of the Fourth Century, pp. 220, 221, 246-248.
hypothesis than that of the Trinitarians, and yet it requires us to apply the same term, God, to two beings who differ as widely from each other as the Creator and his creature. It requires us to speak of Christ as the begotten Son of God, though he only differs from all other creatures by having preceded them in the order of time. It requires us to believe of this Created Being, that he was himself, employed in creating the world; and to invest him with every attribute of Deity, except that of having existed from all eternity. If we contrast these notions with the creed of the Trinitarians, they will be found to present still greater difficulties to our faculties of comprehension.*
*Burton's Testimonies of the Fathers to the Trinity, page 4.
FURTHER OBJECTIONS TO THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY
A consideration of the Heathen Doctrine of the Trinity, the
opinions of the ancient Jews, and the almost universal
testimony of the christian world, both ancient and modern. We have now endeavoured to meet fairly, fully and candidly, the objections offered as presumptive arguments against the doctrine of the Trinity.
There is, however, one other objection that occurs to our minds, and which may deserve a passing notice. It has been said that if this doctrine of the Trinity is so essential, and so practically important as we allege, it would have been revealed as clearly in the Old Testament as in the New. To this objection we would reply, first, that the objection admits that the doctrine of the Trinity is taught clearly in the New Testament. But, if the doctrine of the Trinity is clearly revealed, as true, in the New Testament, then to all who receive it as containing the doctrine taught by Christ and his apostles, it becomes fundamental, and vitally essential, whatever may have been the degree in which it was revealed to believers under the Old Testament. But, in the second place, we reply, that the doctrines of a future life, of the resurrection of the dead, of the nature of everlasting life, of the mercy of God, the way of acceptance with him, and the principle of obedience, not to mention others, are, on all hands, adınitted to be of fundamental and practical importance, and among "the first principles of the oracles of God," and yet these are far more clearly and fully revealed in the New than in the Old Testament. And it is therefore only in accordance with the progressive character of God's revelation that the doctrine of the Trinity should be more distinctly revealed in the New, than in the Old Testament. But, thirdly, we affirm that there is more in the Old Testament to lead to the belief of a plurality in the Divine Godhead, than there is to regard that Godhead as a simple and absolute personal unity; and as this plurality is limited to the mention of the invisible Jehovah,—the visible, Jehovah, the God of Israel—and the Holy Spirit, we have in the Old Testament a sufficient revelation of the doctrine of the Trinity.