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and declare, has brought forward some assumed, but questionable deductions from reason, and a copious catalogue of later fathers; but he has brought forward not one appropriate text of Scripture. A de: fect this, which must of necessity startle every protestant reader; who, whatever respect he
feel for antiquity, never can place it on a level with the holy Scriptures. And this has been, and, with me, is still, just matter of complaint, that, not merely in Scripture instances, but in treating of the works of uninspired writers, men should shew themselves to be “ wise above what is written." Yet of this we have a notable proof, and that too, on the very subject in hand, from the pen of Mr Reeves, the well known translator of the ancient christian Apologists.--For this gentleman, in translating a long and intricate
passage in the Apology of Tertullian, says, in one place,
“ thus it is in the eternal ge“ neration of the Logos;" and a little after_" and
so the Son is subordinate to the Father;" when it is visible to every school-boy, that, in the text of Tertullian, there is nothing which, at the greatest distance, points to either one or other of these dicta. If such conduct is warrantable, then it follows, that any thing may be found in any writer. Yet are the
Apologies” of Mr Reeves put into the hands of the 'Theological Student, as an excellent preparatory work. That they ought to be perused with caution, I hope it is not now too much for me to
I See Reeves' Tertul. Apol. ch. 21.
say. But I shall have occasion to take some further notice of Mr Reeves, before I have done with the present discussion.
NOTWITHSTANDING what you find advanced in the foregoing Letters-notwithstanding the silence which pervades the whole code of Scripture, on the subject of the eternal generation' of Christ--and notwithstanding the variety of sentiment to which, both before and after its obtaining the sanction of long use, or of express decision, the doctrine has given birth, 1, for one, should not have scrupled to let it pass, as one way, though in my opinion not the best way, of endeavouring to explain what appears to me inexplicable—viz. the mode of a TRINE SUBSISTENCE IN ONE ESSENCEthat is, of a Trinity of persons in•the unity of the Godhead. But the consequences of such acquiescence are greatly to be dreaded ; and it is the consideration of these consequences, and that alone, which has stimulated me to occupy so much time in ex
posing, to your view, the unsolid ground on which, not merely the doctrine itself, but every argument urged in favour of it, doth originally rest.
I am not to be told, that a doctrine is not justly chargeable with
any bad consequence ascribed to it by its cavilling opponent, unless the friends and abettors of the doctrine do not only see, but avow such consequence. When however the bad consequence is not only seen, but is avowed-nay more, when the doctrine is the more strenuously urged and defended, for the sake of establishing this very consequence, what remains, but that the person who feels himself warranted in gainsaying the consequence, should minutely examine the doctrine from which it avowedly flows, and if cause and effect cankot be separated, to reject both ?
With the doctrine of eternal generation, this, I am sorry to say, is decidedly the case.
• SUBOR• DINATION,' with its inseparable associate · INFERI
ORITY,' is undeniably consequent on it. And these are qualities, which, I can never persuade myself, to be consistent with true and proper Deity ; nor, in in any manner of way, applicable to it. That the Saviour of mankind must be, and that he is, truly and properly God, I was early, and upon conviction never to be shaken, taught to believe. From this belief, by God's grace, I never have departed, and never will depart; insomuch, that when I entered into the service of the church, about fifty-five years
ago, and found the doctrine of : eternal generation' to be the current doctrine, held, (by my superiors in years and talents) to be “ worthy of all accep“tation,” I was overwhelịned with doubt and perplexity. Whether I was right or not, in drawing, what others deemed an inadmissible consequence, from the doctrine, was, for some time, with me a matter of uncertainty ; until that (now many years ago) I met with Dr Bull's celebrated * Defensio “ Fidei Nicenæ,” which dissolved the spell. Por, to my no small astonishment, and I will add mortification, to find my own suspicions verified, I beheld the last section of that elaborate performance, entitled, “ DE SUBORDINATIONE Filii— Of the Subor. « dination of the Son."
Here the very title excited alarm. His three first sections, under appropriate Greek designations, gave me the wished for satisfaction pour apšisquos Eric, and ouvoideathe praeristence, the consubstantiality, and con-eternity of Jesus Christ. For I had concluded, and I hope justly concluded, that, from the Greek being the original language of christianity,"these three Greek terms expressed true and primitive doctrine. Besides I had, in the course of my theological studies, hit on a rule for detecting spurious doctrine, which seldom or ever bas misled
The rule is this--where, in points of christi· an doctrine and discipline, the Romanists and we agree, those points are all of them designated by an appropriate name of Greck derivation ; such as
APOSTLE, CATHOLIC, CANON, ANATHEMA, ECCLESIASTIC, EPISCOPACY, PRESBYTER, DEACON, BAPTISM, • EUCHARIST, and such like: while such points as *äre matter of difference between the Romanists • and us, are all of Latin derivation, and therefore • novel : such are—INDULGENCES, PURGATORY, SUPREMACY, INFALLIBILITY, SACRAMENTS, EXTREME UNCTION, MERITS, TRANSUBSTANTIATION,' &c. It is indeed surprising, that a man so eminent as Dr Bull confessedly was for his skill in the learned languages, could not have found, or could not have formed a proper Greek word, by which to express the matter of which the concluding section of his work was meant to treat ; when those preceding had all been thus appropriately characterized. He had constructed the first thesis of his concluding section thus : “ That the generality of the catholic
doctors, both before, and after the Council of
Nice, have all, with one consent, taught, that the “ divine nature and perfections do agree to the
Father and the Son, not collaterally, or co-ordi
nately, but SUBORDINATELY.” Yet if such had been the unanimous doctrine of this body collective of Grecian sages, it is not too much for us to présume, that, in their writings, some particular term must have existed, expressive of the subordination, which, “ with one consent,” these doctors“ taught.” Why then did not our Doctor
produce the word which the generality of the catholic Doctors used, to have made his performance uniform? Or, if he could not discover the precise K 2