Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

το αγιον γεν "

that, in my opinion, the expression is simply descriptive of our Saviour's incarnation, in terms of the angel's address, '“ the Holy Ghost shall come

upon thee, and the power of the highest shall “ overshadow thee'," &c. For Jesus, or the last Adam, was “ the Son of God,” as being

vwflévov the holy thing begotten or born ?." The first Adam was the “ Son of God"7601946, haying been made or created so 3.

Hitherto we have met with nothing in the Nicene creed enjoining the belief of an eternal

generation, in order to prove the eternal Deity of the

One Lord Jesus Christ :” nothing but what the cunning impugners of his Deity held themselves at liberty to avow, and fancied they could warp to their own delirious impiety. Of this the Nicene Fathers were abundantly sensible; and therefore, to meet, or rather outwit, the chicanery of the heretics, and bring the contest to a final issue, they at once introduced an unequivocal and decisive expression, and declared the One Lord Jesus Christ' to be " ' ouofoly TW THATp1,"consubstantial, or “of one “ substance with the Father.” This was a homethrust, the force of which, although not to be parried, the Arians fell upon a shift to elude. By the insertion of an 1, or iota, they formed a word of similar sound, “queri-like in substance,” and

this

F

1 St Luke i. 35.

2 See in the original, St. Luke i. 35. 3 St Luke iii. 38.

o the

6

this they thought would pass undiscovered, and sufficiently answer their end. But the catholic bishops saw through the fallacy, and would not admit the insertion of this • jot or tittle, nor come to any terms with the Arians, without their receiving and professing the “ομοεσιον, , CONSUBSTANTIAL" doctrine, to its full and literal extent. This they would not do, nor have, to this day, ever done. Here therefore stands the criterion of orthodor and catholic faith. It is the “ consubstantiality,that is,

unity or sameness of substance,” which forms that criterion, not the germois,' the generation,' or

begetting, which merely respected the personal, not essential character of the “ One Lord," &c. And this . consubstantiality,' though naturally flowing from ' generation, if admissible in Deity, yet certainly does not depend upon it, but can be properly enough conceived without it.

" Tres autem “unius substantiæ, et unius status, et unius potes• tatis,” says Tertullian, “ quia unus Deus, ex quo " et gradus isti et formæ et species, in nomine Pa“ tris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti, deputantur,”—The Three are of One substance (Consubstantial-'qua

80101) and of one state and of one power, because there is one God (Jehovah), from whom (@:Q 5X 0:) these steps, and forms, and species, are reck

oned, under the denomination of Father, and “ Son, and Holy Ghost.” (Aleim)'. Without at present enlarging on this elucidation, I think it

suf

* See Lib. contra Prax. cap. 2.

sufficiently evident, that Jesus Christ, the one Lord, may be consubstantial with the Father, as well by being God of himself, as by being necessarily begotten of the substance of the Father. Neither does this lead to Tritheism; because there is a diference between substance and subsistence, between 8ola and 'umos@ois, and we may believe that there are three subsistences in one substance, without thinking it necessary that one subsistence should be derived from another.

Before I have done with the Nicene Creed, I have one observation to make, which I think of very considerable weight, in discussing the subject. To the creed, when about to be promulgated, the Council affixed their synodical anathema, in name.of the Holy Catholic Church, against any, who, among other expressions derogatory to the Deity of Christ, should say, that “ πριν γεννη Orval on -before he was begotten he was not." Now, the heresy here, to which the anathema attaches, is certainly-' the denying his existence before ge• neration. For this denial was the origin, and is, to this hour, the distinguishing tenet of the Arian reformers-in other words, the Socinians. But, by all the rules of logic, the reverse of this censurable, not to say, damnable position, must be the Catholic truth; viz. that “

πριν γεννηθηναι ην,” BEFORE HE WAS BEGOTTEN HE EXISTED.

It is therefore impossible, that by the expression cysynspucee', the Council of Nice could mean “eternally begotten ;' since if they so meant, they must have required every catholic christian to say, that the ' eternally begotten Son eristed before eternity. A dilemma this, into which, if we are disposed to allow the Nicene Fathers even common sense, they never could have fallen ; but on which it is unnecessary to enlarge, since every attempt to evade it, must, if words have any meaning, be, upon examination, found so Jame, as to be wholly unworthy of regard.

LETTER VI.

HAVING discussed the Council and Creed of Nice, and as yet found nothing expressly, and in terminis, definitive of “ Eternal Generation," I am, however, well aware, and most ready to acknowledge, that from the Nicene æra, the doctrine did

creep into the christian church, through heat of controversy, and through the eagerness of one party to defend itself against the other; until, under the sanction of papal infallibility, it mounted, at last, to its modern height of importance.

Nay, Nay more, I have no hesitation to join so far with the supporters of this doctrine, as to express my firm belief, that Athanasius himself, (who, though but a deacon, was present in the Council of Nice), was, if not the first assertor of eternal ge• neration, the great patron and propagator of it affording, by his example and influence, as Patriarch of Alexandria, and as an eminent sufferer in the catholic cause, a distinguished precedent to all that should afterwards engage in this thorny controversy. In proof of his zeal for the doctrine now under discussion, it is matter of fact, that Athanasius did quote (and perhaps was the first to quote)

ZEYTOS HQL QYEVITOS,” as the words of St Ignatius; and that he thus did argue from the misquotation —“the blessed Ignatius called him MADE, because “ of the flesh, for Christ (he should have said the « • LOGOS' which makes a material difference) was made flesh, and NOT MADE because he was not of “ the creatures, that are made, but'uO EX 772790, the « Son from the Father."

The passage is produced by Bishop Pearson', in proof of the genuineness of the Vossian epistles. This undoubtedly, in so far, is clear enough; but how far the words of Athanasius are consonant to the Martyr's language or meaning, remains to be proyed. The freedom, which Athanasius however used, was not long of being extended. For, in the

next,

See Vindiciæ, Part I. p. 9.

« AnteriorContinuar »