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INQUIRY INTO THE DOCTRINE

OF

THE ETERNAL SONSHIP

OF OUR

LORD JESUS CHRIST.

By RICHARD TREFFRY, JUN.

“Unum igitur hoc est immobile fundamentum ; una hæc est felix fidei
petra : Tu Es Filius Dei vivi, tanta in se sustinens argumenta veritatis,
quantæ perversitatum quæstiones et infidelitatis calumniæ movebuntur.”

ST. HILARY.

LONDON:
PUBLISHED BY JOHN MASON, 14, CITY-ROAD;

AND SOLD AT 66, PATERNOSTER-ROW.

1837.

[ENTERED AT STATIONERS' HALL.]

ROCHE, PRINTER, 70, OLD-STREET ROAD, LONDON. PREFACE.

The design of the following pages is to arrange, in a regular series, the evidences of our Lord's eternal filiation. To a considerable number of Christian students, such an attempt, it is presumed, will not seem to require apology. Others there are, however, both of those who admit and of those who reject that doctrine, from whom may be anticipated objections, which, if not of great weight, are some of them not without plausibility, Nor, till these are obviated, or at least in some measure deprived of their force, can we reasonably expect an equitable estimation, either of the arguments employed, or of their general result. At the risk of a degree of tediousness, therefore, it yet seems necessary here to notice a few of the more obvious objections which may possibly be advanced against the present undertaking.

It may readily be imagined that some exception will be taken to the apparent disproportion between the size of this volume and the supposed importance of the question investigated. The doctrine, assuming it to be true,—thus it will probably be argued,-is not of moment. Many theologians whose general orthodoxy and whose zeal for the analogy of faith are unquestionable and distinguished, take the negative side of the argument; and surely it cannot be of great consequence to correct an

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error which may thus consist with unimpaired piety, and with a cordial acceptance of all the fundamentals of Christianity.

This reasoning is so specious, and so popular, that we may profitably set ourselves to examine its real value. Leaving out of the question, then, all who take up opinions without due investigation, what is actually the theological character of the residue who deny our Lord's Eternal Sonship? Is the majority, is any respectable proportion, orthodox upon all other points? Here it is to be recollected we have to range Socinians, Arians, Sabellians, with all other unbelievers of Christ's Deity, by whatever name distinguished. These invariably, and without exception, repudiate the doctrine in question ; and it is a fact which certainly renders the alleged security of such repudiation exceedingly suspicious, that it thus necessarily brings us into association with heresy in its extreme and fatal forms. At all events, it requires but slight acquaintance with theological statistics to perceive that, for the most part, under the denial of our Saviour's divine Sonship is conveyed a rejection of his divine nature. The theologians who, on the former doctrine alone, vary from what is generally considered the analogy of faith, are an inconsiderable number, being in fact exceptions only to a rule of a very melancholy complexion.

Besides, were the case otherwise, this mode of reasoning, properly carried out, obviously forbids every attempt to vindicate divine truth, except the contrary error is evidently fatal, or highly pernicious; or, what is yet more important, without respectable patronage. this in effect amounts to a prohibition to defend any scriptural doctrine whatever. For, excepting only truths usually classed under the head of natural religion, and the divine authority of the Old and New Testaments, there is no doctrine universally allowed to be fundamental; nor, besides the rejection of these, is there any error which, on all hands, is admitted to be fatal. And then, as to patronage, those opinions must be extravagant indeed which cannot present a fair list of friends and favourers. So that the objection in question, liberally expounded, might be used as the apology for a latitudinarianism the most absolute and unrestricted.

Still it may be urged, why so large a volume ? Granting that the doctrine is to be illustrated and defended, yet why exceed the limits of a pamphlet? Leaving one important reason to be assigned in the sequel, it is meanwhile replied, If in perusing the following treatise the querist find many digressions from the main topic, and much matter altogether irrelevant, which might therefore have been omitted, not only without injury, but with advantage to the general effect,-in that case, his objection will have the force of a just condemnation. But if not, if, as it is presumed, there is nothing here but what legitimately belongs to the argument; if the minute investigation of minor questions, or of such as do not directly bear upon the subject, has usually been avoided; and if in general the evidence cited or illustrated has been condensed to the last degree consistent with perspicuity,—then may the converse of his own query be retorted upon the objector, Why should the volume not be so large ? or why ought the investigation of such a subject to be restricted to a pamphlet? Upon what principle should a discussion be undertaken and left less complete than is required by the nature of the argument, or the amount of the evidence?

It is respectfully suggested also that these persons, and such as on this point think with them, might profitably inquire whether they have not hitherto

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