Billeder på siden
PDF
ePub

been believed by the Church Universal and held as an article of faith: Some of them, however, are so artfully constructed, that those which are their opposites savour of novelty and send forth an odour of falsehood. Beside the fact, that the greatest part of them are imposed on us through calumny. I now proceed to the consideration of the eleven which follow, that I may see whether the fabricators have acted in a more happy and judicious manner, either in imputing them to me, or in reckoning them as errors or heresies. May God direct my mind and my hand, that I may with a good conscience declare those things which are in unison with the truth, and which may conduce to the peace and tranquillity of our brethren.

ARTICLE XXI. (I.) It is a new, heretical and Sabellian mode of speaking, nay it is

blasphemous, to say that the Son of God is auto beov, (very God,)for the Father alone is very God, but not the Son and the Holy Spirit.

ANSWER. Most of those persons who are acquainted with me at all, know with what deep fear, and with what conscientious solicitude, I treat that sublime doctrine of a Trinity of Persons. The whole manner of my teaching demonstrates, that when I am explaining this article I take no delight either in inventing new phrases, that are unknown to Scripture and to orthodox antiquity, or in employing such as have been fabricated by others. All my auditors too will testify, how willingly I bear with those who adopt a different mode of speaking from my own, provided they intend to convey a sound meaning. These things I premise, lest any one should suppose, that I had sought to stir up a controversy about this word, with other persons who had employed it.

But when, in the course of a particular disputation, a certain young man with much pertinacity and assurance defended not only the word itself, but likewise that meaning which I believe and know to be contrary to all antiquity, as well as to the truth of the Scriptures, and was not backward in expressing his serious disapproval of the more orthodox opinions; I was compelled to explain what were my sentiments about the word and its meaning

I said that the word is not contained in the Scriptures; yet, because it had been used by the orthodox, both by Epiphanius, (Heres. 69,) and by some divines in our days, I do not reject it, provided it be correctly received.

But it may be received in a two-föld signification, according to the etymon of the word; and may mean, either one who is truly and in himself God, or one who is God from himself. In the former signification, I said, the 'word might be tolerated; but in the latter,' it was in opposition to the Scriptures and to orthodox antiquity

When the opponent still urged, that he received the word in this last sense ; and that Christ was indeed autoleov, that is; God from himself, who has in reality an essence in common with the Father but not communicated by the Father; and when he asserted this with the greater boldness, because he knew that in this opinion he had Trelcatius of pious memory agreeing with him, from whose instructions he appeared to have derived his ideas on the subject; I said, that this opinion was a novel one, which was never heard of by the ancients, and unknown both to the Greek and Latin Fathers; and that, when rigidly examined, it would be found to be heretical, and nearly allied to the opinion of Sabellius, which was that the Father and the Son are not distinct persons, but one person called by different names.-I added, that, from this opinion, the entirely opposite heresy might likewise be deduced, which is—that the Son and the Father are two different persons, and two collateral gods ;. this is blasphemous.

I proved my remarks by the following brief arguments : First, It is the property of the person of the Father, to have his being from himself, or, which is a better phrase, to have his being from no one. But the Son is now said to have his being from himself, or rather, from no one: Therefore the Son is the Father ; which is Sabellianism.-SECONDLY. If the Son have an essence in common with the Father, but not communicated by the Father, he is collateral with the Father, and therefore they are two gods: Whereas all antiquity defended the unity of the Divine essence in three distinct persons, and placed a salvo on it by this single explanation" that the Son has the same essence in num“ber, which is communicated to him by the Father ; but that “the Holy Spirit has the very same essence from the Father and " the Son."

This is the explanation which I adduced at that time, and in the maintenance of which I still persist; and I affirm, that in this opinion I have the Scriptures agreeing with me, as well as the whole of antiquity, both of the Greek and the Latin churches. It is therefore most wonderful, that our brethren have dared to charge this upon me as an erroneous sentiment. Yet, in doing this, they do not act with sincerity, since they do not explain the

[ocr errors]

word autobcov, by removing its ambiguity; which they undoubtedly ought to have done, lest any person should suppose that I denied the Son to be autobkov in; every sense, and therefore that he is not very and true God. This they ought the more particularly to have done, because they know that I have always made a distinction between these significations, and have admitted one of them, but rejected the other.

Since the matter really stands thus, I might simply accuse this article of making a false charge ; because in a certain sense I confess the Son to be autocov, also the Holy Spirit, and not the Father alone. But, for the sake of justifying this phrase and opinion, the framers of it declare, “ When it is said, The Son is God from himself, then the phrase must be received in this

sense, The essence which the Son has, is from himself, that is, from no one. For the Son is to be considered as he is God, “ and as he is the Son: As God, he has his being from himself : As the Son, he has it from the Father. Or two things are to be sub

jects of consideration in the Son, his essence and his relation:

According to his essence, the Son is from no one or from him“ self: According to his relation, he is from the Father."

But I answer, First, This mode of explanation cannot, except by an impropriety of speech, excuse him who says, “ The Son has indeed an essence in common with the Father, but not communicated."

SECONDLY. “The essence, which the Son has, is from no one," is not tantamount to the phrase, “The Son, who has an essence, is from no one.” For, “ Son” is the name of a person that has relation to a Father, and therefore without that relation it cannot become a subject either of definition or of consideration. But “ Essence” is something absolute: And these two are so circumstanced between themselves, that “essence" does not enter into the definition of “Son,” except in the oblique case, thus, “ He is the Son, who has the Divine essence communicated to him by the Father;" which amounts to this, “ He is the Son, who is begotten of the Father:" For, to beget is to communicate his essence.

Thirdly. These two respects in which He is God and in which He is the Son, have not the same affection relation between each other, as these two have, “to exist from himself or from no one,” and “to exist from the Father,” or “to have his essence from himself,” or “ from no one,” and “to have it from the Father:" Which I demonstrate thus by two most evident arguments: (1.) “God” and “the Son” are consentaneous and subordinate: For the Son is God. But to derive his being from no one" and " to derive it from another," "to have his

or

essence from no one” and “ to have it from another,” are opposites, and cannot be spoken about the same person. (2.) In the comparison which they institute, those things which ought to be collated together are not properly compared, nor are they opposed to each of their parallels and classes or affinities. For a double ternary must here come under consideration, which is this:

He is God :- HE IS THE FATHER: HE IS THE Son :He has the Divine essence : He has it from no one : He has it from the Father :

These are affinities and parallels: (1.) “He is God," and “has the Divine essence.” (2.)“ He is the Father,” and “has the Divine essence from no one.” (3.) “He is the Son,” and “has the Divine essence from the Father."

But, by the comparison which our objectors institute in their explanation, these things will be laid down as parallels: “He is God,” and “has his essence from no one.” If this comparison be correctly formed, then either the Father alone is God, or there are three collateral Gods. But far be it from me to charge with such a sentiment as this those who say, “ The Son is autoleov, that is, God from himself.” For I know that they occasionally explain themselves in a modified manner: But their explanation does not agree with the phraseology which they employ. For this reason Beza excuses Calvin, and openly confesses “that he had not with sufficient strictness observed the difference between these particles a se and per se." *

I have stated only what follow as consequences from these phrases, and from the opinion which agrees with them; and I have therefore said, that people must refrain from the use of such phraseology. I abstain from proofs, multitudes of which I could bring from the Scriptures and the Fathers; and if necessity require, I will immediately produce them: For I have had them many years in readiness.

God-is from eternity-having the Divine Essence.

THE FATHER-is from no one-having the Divine Essence from no one, which others say is “ from himself.”

The Son—is from the Father having the Divine Essence from the Father.

This is a true parallelism, and one which, if in any manner it be inverted or transposed, will be converted into a heresy : So · that I wonder much, how our brethren could consider it proper to make any mention of this matter; from which they would with far more correctness and prudence have abstained, if, while meditating upon it, they had weighed it in equal balances.

* Præfat. in Dialog. Athanasii.

ARTICLE XXII. (II.) It is the summit of Hasphemy to say, that God is freely good.

ANSWER In this article likewise our brethren disclose their own disgraceful proceedings, which I would gladly allow to remain buried in oblivion. But, because they recal this affair to my recollection, I will now relate how it occurred.

In a Disputation it was asked, “ Can Necessily and Liberty “ be so far reconciled to each other, that a person may be said “ necessarily or freely to produce one and the same effect?," these words being used properly according to their respective strict definitions, which are here subjoined : “An agent acts necessarily, “ who, when all the requisites for action are laid down, cannot do “ otherwise than act, or cannot suspend his acting. An agent “ acts freely, who, when all the requisites for action are laid “ down, can refrain from beginning to act, or can suspend his " acting." I declared, “ that the two terms could not meet in one subject :” Other persons said, “ that they could,” evidently for the purpose of confirming the dogma which asserts, " Adam “ sinned freely indeed, and yet necessarily. Freely, with

respect to himself and according to his nature: NECESSARILY, “ with respect to the Decree of God.”

Of this their explanation I did not admit, but said, Necessarily and Freely differ not in respects but in their entire essences, as do Necessity and Contingency, or what is Necessary and what is Contingent, which, because they divide the whole amplitude of being, cannot possibly co-incide together, no more than can Finite and Infinite. But Liberty appertains to Contingency.

To disprove this my opinion, they brought forward an instance, or example, in which Necessity and Liberty met together ; and that was God, who is both necessarily and freely good. This assertion of theirs displeased me so exceedingly, as to cause me to say, that it was not far removed from blasphemy. At this time, I entertain a similar opinion about it; and in few words I thus prove its falsity, absurdity, and the blasphemy (contained] in the falsity.

(1.) Its Falsity. He who by natural necessity, and according to his very essence and the whole of his nature, is good,—nay, who is Goodness itself, the Supreme Good, the First Good from which all good proceeds, through which every good comes, in which every good exists,—and by a participation of which what zhings soever have any portion of good in them are good, and Vol. II.

D

« ForrigeFortsæt »