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be lowered indeed, if begotten means no more than appointed to an office.
John i. 18. “The only-begotten Son, which is in the , bosom of the Father.” A circumstance this, which implies a relation by nature; and that of a kind, which begets the highest affection. The terms (only-begotten , Son) joined together, occur so often, that either all or . none of them, must relate to the existence of Christ, and to that only.
John i. i4. “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” Such a glory as might be expected in one so descended. Full of grace and truth, which Christ inherited by nature, and that fully, not shared with others, he being the only-begotten of the Father. A glory this, and divine perfections, not derived from his mediatorial office, but putting an honour upon it.
As being the Only-Begotten, he is called the Heir, Matt. xxi. 38. and the Heir of all things, Heb. i. 2. And it is adınitted, that this relationship (* begotten of the Father,”) is the ground upon which a Son is the heir of a Father.
But it is said, the expression, “ This day have I begotten thee,” is particularly applied to the incarnation of Christ; that “ the words this day, imply a particular time.” The expression is quoted from Heb. i. 5.; and it is evidently there introduced, to show the divine nature and origin of Christ to be superior to that of Angels; for God speaks not to Angels in terms implying either their eternity, or that intimate and endearing relation to himself, in which Christ stands recognized by the Father.
The phrase to day (which literally means time present) is analogous to I AM, and is declarative of the eternity of Christ : “ For, with the Lord, one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."
Nor does Heb. i. 6. prove, that the term begotten is ap-, plied to Christ's incarnation; nay, it here stands in express contra-distinction to it. First-begotten is spoken of as-an appellation of Christ, before, and at the time he was brought into the world. Begotten of his Father before all worlds, not then, when he assumed the human nature. His assuming the human nature is represented as the joint, act and counsel of the Father, and of the Son,. Phil. ii. 7., not the peculiar act of the Father alone, implied in the phrase, Only-Begotten of the Father.
It is further said, the term begotten is applied to the tesurrection of Christ, and the second Psalin, as quoted in Acts xiii. 39, 35, proves it.
This Psalm is quoted by St. Paul to shew the divinity of Christ in the first place, and the resurrection only by iriference. Christ was by nature and descent immortal: therefore, though he submitted to death, yet it was not possible he should be holden of it. (So also John x. 18.) This is an argument a priori to show, that Christ must certainly rise again : what follows is an argument a pasteriori, and it is introduced as such :" And as concerning (the matter of fact) that he raised him up from the dead.” Then follows the argument from prophecy, and the promise of God, ver. 35, 36; and from testimony, ver: 37, which also alludes to ver. 31. The saine arguments, and in the same order', occur in Acts ii.
Undoubtedly, Christ is called the First-begotten of the : dead, the First-born from the dead. Godly persons also are said to be born of God, begotten of God; but not in that high sense, in which Christ is called the ONLY: Begotten of the Father.
Whatever ground there is to suppose, that the title, Son of God, when applied to Christ, is not “merely a title of office," or belonging only to the human nature, which he assumed, just the same ground is there to suppose, that the appellation only-begotten does not imply“ merely his being set up and appointed for an othice." And the very same difficulty will attend our conceptiou of one as the other.
But it is said, we cannot go beyond our own ideas."
In strictness, we can neither believe nor disbelieve a proposition to us utterly unintelligible. It is to us no proposition at all. But a proposition may be worded in very general terins; may be understood, may be assented to in general terms, though we be ignorant of the particulars implied in it: and we meet with few propositions in divinity; but what are more or less general ones. That the dead strall be raised incorruptible, is a general proposition. As such, we may understand and believe it, yet be'ignorant' how their scattered ashes can possibly be again collected, and united to the soul. We may ask, how are the dead raised, and with whát body do they cume? and in what way is it, that the body is rendered incorruptible, and lienceforth inseparable from the soul? Dur ignorance of these, and many other particulars, does
pot render the general proposition either unintelligible or incredible.
So again, “We have redemption through the blood of Christ, even the forgiveness of sins," and we may add, through his blood only. This we may understand and believe, yet be ignorant in what way his blood has such a mighty effiicacy as to cleanse'us from all sin. Nor is it needful, either to the clear understanding or the belief of this proposition, that we should be informed what necessity there was, in respect of God's government and attributes, for this shedding of blood. We may know and see the mercy of God and the love of Christ in thus dying for sinners, without a "satisfactory discovery of every hindrance to the free exercise of mercy on God's part,” or without being acquainted with the “causes, nature, and design of our Redeemer's sufferings,” further. than as they respect man; not as they respect God. *
On the whole, we inay conclude, that the term onlybegotten, when applied to Christ in the passages before quoted, does relate to his divine existence; that the Scripture (John v. 19. 1 Corin. ii. 10. John xiv. 16. xv. 26. xvi. 7, 24.) speaks in different terms of the divine nature and existence of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and therefore that they are differentt: To say no more than this, is indeed to speak in very general terms.
But it is safest to say little on such high subjects. It becomes the modesty of a Christian to be cautious how he goes beyond Scripture. We are neither to deny the general propositions clearly contained in Scripture, because we do not understand particulars; nor yet io disgrace Scripture with our vain and presumptuous
There are, who say, they see the particular way, in which the demands
of God's justice were answered by the sufferings and death of Christ.” Be it so. Yet they, who can neither see this by the light of reason, nor yet find it in Scripture, may nevertheless believe in the atonement of Christ, though not in so particular a way as others. And they may equally rest satisfied, “ that there is now no condemnation to them, who are in Christ Jesus, and who walk not after the flesh, but after the spirit.”—It is one thing to deny the justice of God; quite another to say, we are ignorant of much that relates to it:
+“Here then I fix my foot: that there are three differences in the Deity, which the Scripture speaks of by the names of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and every where speaks of them as we use to do of three distinct persons: and therefore I see no reason why, in this argument, we should nicely abstain from using the word Person; though I remember, that St. Jerom does somewhere desire to be excused from it.” Tillotson, 1.3, p. 215, Serni. 44.
Vol. VII. Churchm. Mag. July, 1804. E comments,
comments, where it is silent. Wait for that time, wher
shall know, even as we are known. There are, who go further, and say, that is the terms Father and Son have no meaning, if they do not imply, that the one" derived his being from the other;" that it is the leading, the principal idea conveyed in such a metaphor; that “this is confirmed, when we read (John iii. 35. v. 19, 26. x. 29. xvii. 24. Col. i. 15, 19. Heb. 1,'9, 8, &c.) that the Son's power, glory, and dominion were' alí .
. If we 'should admit this, it will not follow, that Christ was a created being; 'or, that there was a time, when he did not existt. It cannot be shewn, that the two propositions-Christ derived this existence from the Father-Christ always 'existedare contradictory; unless you will so understand them, as to beg the question. We know too little of the nature of of divine existence to say much about it, and what we do say is best expressed in the words of Scripture. The Church, with due caution and modesty, uses no other in her devotions, and the most essential parts of her liturgy. The explanatory part of the Athanasian Creed may be thought an exception, and indeed it'is no other than the comment of some follower of Aristotle on the Scripturedoctrine of the Trinity 1. When the philosophers of Greece and Rome became Christians, they explained whatever was not particularly revealed by their favourite philosophy. And so do the Metaphysicians of our days. What else are their conceits about self-existence, necessary existence, eternal generation, &c.? We need not be solicitous about understanding such terms, nor pay them that reverence, which is undoubtedly due to whatever we find in Scripture.
* Dr. Powell's third Charge. p. 341, # Is not even this proposition unintelligible? For, what is time witk God? Perhaps all, that we talk so frequently and earnestly on such subjects, may appear hereafter to be utterly destitute of meaning; the empty prattle of children.
As a sort of editor of this Essay, I think it necessary to say, that my sentiments respecting the explanatory part of the Athanasian Creed do not exactly agree with those, which are here expressed by Mr. Ludlam. What my sentinents on this subjectare, may be seen, if the reader think it worth his while to see, by turning toʻiny Reinarks on the word "Mystery," inserted-in the Orthodox Churchman's Mag, for July 1803.
. E. P.
ON THE WELCH TRANSLATION OF THE FAST
TO THE EDITOR OF THE ORTHODOX CHURCHMAN'S
MAGAZINE MR. EDITOR, I ,
of my reverend countrymen would, long ere this time, have noticed, in the Orthodox Churchman's Magazine, the Welch prayers for fast-days and other occasions. It is a subject that well deserves attention, and indeed is an imperious duty that lies at somebody's door. The English prayers for such occasions are in general well written, and approach nearly the excellent pattern for them in our Liturgy. The insertion, however, of a certain prayer in
the Form for the 19th of October, 1803, has caused some animadversions; and, in the opinion of most peos ple, noi unjustly. In the composition of such public prayers, the Liturgy should be the model, both in the elegance yet plainness of its diction, and in its pure and orthodox piety.
The Welch Common Prayer is reckoned a good transe lation, though no doubt there is room for improvement; and the Bible is allowed to be excellent, surpassing the English, and if the expression may be used, indeed truly original. With respect to the occasional prayers that have for some years been translated, all clergymen with whom I have conversed uniformly disapproved of the version: the language being stiff, affected, and incorrect, as' far as ibe elision of vowels; plain and common expressions rendered in words obsolete and perfectly unintelligible to the generality of hearers, and the orthography widely differing from the Bible and Common Prayer. Some of my parishioners have told me that they understood' but little of many of the prayers, consequently could not join with me in offering up their addresses to the Throne of Grace. I need not enlarge on this as the inutility and indeed the evil tendency of such devotion must be evident to every one, and that great responsibility certainly attaches to the translator or his employers : the one for undertaking what he has pot the ability to perform, and the others for not seeing their orders properly executed.