« PreviousContinue »
ther as much as three men can do, are not three men,
but only one man. If it be faid, with the Antenicene fathers, and with bishops Pearson and Bull, among the modern English writers, that the Father is the fountain of deity, and that the son is derived from him, whether necessarily or voluntarily, whether in time or from eternity, they cannot be of the same rank : but the Father will be possessed of an original, a real, and proper superiority to the Son; who will be no more than an effect upon the Father's exertion of his powers, which is, to all intents and purposes, making the Son to be a production or creature of the Father ; even though it should be supposed with the antients that he was created out of the substance of the Father, and without taking any thing from him. Moreover, as upon this scheme the Son was never capable of giving birth to another person like himself, he must have been originally inferior in power to the Father, the fource from which he himself sprang. On this scheme, therefore, there is no proper equality between these divine persons; and the Antenicene Fathers did not pretend that there was, but distinguished the Father by the epi. thet of autolew, God of himself, and the Son by the inferior title of Qusx Gas, God of God, or a derived God.
If it be said that there is only one intelligent supreme mind, but that it exerts itself three different ways, and has three different modes of action, or
operation (which was the opinion of Dr. Wallis, and that which was generally ascribed to the ancient Sabellians), with respect to one of which the fame divine Being was called the Father, to another the Son, and another the Holy Spirit; there is no proper trinity at all. For on the fame principle one man, bearing three different offices, or having three different relations or capacities, as those of magistrate, father, son, &c. would be three different men.'
Some represent themselves as believing the doc. trine of the trinity by asserting with Dr. Dod. dridge*, that “ God is fo united to the derived
nature of Christ, and does so dwell in it, that, “ by virtue of that union, Christ may be properly « called God, and such regards become due to him,
as are not due to any created nature, or mere creature, be it in itself ever so excellent.”.
What this union is, in consequence of which any creature can be entitled to the attributes and honours of his creator, is not pretended to be explained; but as we cannot possibly have any idea of an union between God and a creature, besides that of God being present with that creature, and acting by him, which is the same thing that is asserted by the Arians or Socinians, there nominal trinitarians must necessarily belong to one or other of these two classes. This is so evident, that it is hardly poffi
* See his Lectures, propofition 128, po 3924
ble not to suppose but that they must have been much affifted at least in deceiving themselves into a belief that they were trinitarians, by the influence: which a dread of the odium and other inconveni ences attending the Arian or Socinian doctrine had on their minds. The presence of God the Father with any creature, whether it be called an union with him, or it be expressed in any other manner whatever, can be nothing more than the unity of the Father in that creature; and whatever it be that God voluntarily imparts, he may withdraw again at pleafure. And what kind of divinity must that be, which is dependent upon the will of another? ;. Upon none of the modifications, therefore, which have been mentioned (and all others may be : reduced to these) can the doctrine of the trinity, or of three divine persons in one God be supported.. In most of them the doctrine itself is loft, and where it remains it is inconsistent with reason and com-mon sense,
II. ARGUMENTS FROM REASON AGAINST THE:
ARIAN HYPOTHESIS.. The Arian doctrine, of the world having been: made and governed not by the supreme God him-self, but by Christ, the Son of God, though no contradiction in itself, is, on several accounts,, highly improbable.
Our reafoning from effects to causes carries us no farther than to the immediate creator of the vifia ble universe. For if we can suppose that being to have had a caufe, or author, we may suppose that his cause or author had a higher cause, and so on ad infinitum. According to the light of nature, therefore, the immediate cause or author of the via fible universe is the self-existent first cause, and not any being acting under him, as his instrument. However, the fcheme itself is not naturally impoffi ble, fince a being possessed of power fufficient to produce the visible universe, which is a limited production, may be finite, and therefore may, derive: his power, and his being, from one who is fuperior to him. But though the Asian scheme cannot be faid to be in itself impoffible, it is, on several accounts, extremely improbable a priori, and there-fore ought not to be admitted without very strong and clear. evidence..
If this great derived being, the fùppofed makerand governor of the world, was united to a human. body, he must either have retained, and have exercised, his extraordinary powers during this union,. or have been divested of them; andi either suppofi-. tion has its peculiar difficulties and improbabilities.
If this great being retained his proper powersduring this union, he must have been sustaining the whole universe, and superintending all the laws of nature, while he was an infant at the breast of his. mother, and while he hung upon the cross. And to imagine the creator of the world to have been in those circumstances is an idea at which the mind revolts, almost as much as at that of the supreme: God himself being reduced to them.
Befides, if Christ retained, and exercifed all his. former powers in this state of apparent humiliation, ke must have wrought all his miracles by a power properly his own, a power naturally belonging to him, as much as the power of speaking and walking bes longs to any other man. But this was expressly disclaimed by our Saviour, when he faid, that of himself he could do nothing, and that it was the fact ther within him who did the works. Also, on this. fuppofition, it must have been this super-angelic: being united to the body of Jesus, that raised him from the dead; whereas this is an effect which isi. always afcribed to God the Father only..
If, on the other hand, Christ was divested of his original powers, or emptied himself of them upon: his incarnation, the whole system of the government. of the universe must have been changed during his: residence upon earth. Either fome other derived being (which this scheme does not provide) must have taken his.place, or the supreme being himself: must have condescended to do that which the: fpheme supposes there was an impropriety. in his doing. For certainly the making and the govern.. ing of the world would not have been delegated to: