« AnteriorContinuar »
nity is that which has had no beginning, nor stands in any reference to time. Son supposes time, gene
ration, and Father; and time also antecedent to · such generation. Therefore the conjunction of these two terms, Son and eternity, is absolutely impossible, as they imply essentially different and opposite ideas.
*The enemies of Christ's divinity have, in all ages, availed themselves of this incautious method of treating this subject, and on this ground have ever had the advantage of the defenders of the God-head of Christ. The doctrine of the eternal Sonship destroys the deity of Christ; now if his deity be taken away, the whole gospel scheme of redemption is ruined. On this ground, the atonement of Christ cannot have been of infinite merit, and consequently could not purchase pardon for the offences of mankind, nor give any right to, or possession of, an eternal glory. The very use of this phrase is both absurd and dangerous; therefore let all those who value Jesus and their salvation, abide by the scriptures.”
Here ends Doct. Clarke's notes; we have been more copious in our extracts from him, because under professions of Trinitarianism, they assume additional reasons why they should be examined, and because from him they are more dangerous, if erroneous. We propose to make some general and then particular remarks upon his notions.
With the Doctor, we say, “abide by the scriptures." He says, “if the deity be taken away, the whole gospel scheme is ruined,” in this also we unite. He says, “there must be infinite merit” in the Saviour, this we believe. And yet, with all respect to the character of Doct. Clarke, we differ from him in most of the essential points, contained in the foregoing extract from his learn. ed and elegant commentary. What we say, if it may not be esteemed precisely a refutation, 'will show our views, wherefore we cannot concur with him, and wherefore, from the lights we have, our doctrine is more satisfactory to us, than his doctrine. Nor ought we to be deterred from examining, and avowing any doctrines of our belief, from fear of the “enemies of Christ.” We hope in the help of divine grace, not to pursue an “incautious method” of doctrine, and if any have, their doctrine should be examined, and shunned with christian temper and firmness, for the authority of names, never can sanction error.
The men of this world have differed, and will continue to differ, not only in the substance, but the terms of things; they have not all the same degree of light; and there is the true light, and some lights that are delusive and deceptive; and some men are more addicted to speculative, than tɔ practical views. It may be so in this case. The adorable appellations of Father and Son, and the term generation, as used by the Doctor, we think are unsuitable. Our lexicographers, obtain and extend the definition of words on authority, and by evident meanings intended to be given to them, by established writers, divines and poets of different ages. And why not regulate definitions by the obvious meaning of the scriptural texts, as well as the profane? May not the term or appellative of Son, from the uses of inspired writers, be rendered as having a more comprehensive meaning, a more copious and somewhat different sense? And in Walker, it is indeed so put down; 66 Son, the 2d person of the Trinity." And this portion of the definition of the term Son, may be
of sufficient force, to obviate, and show the fallacy of the Doctor's logic, for the Trinity consists of persons without beginning, eternal.
We agree the Doctor is right in his illustrations, as to these compellations, or style of address, as Father, Son, and as to the term generation, so far as applied to human relations, affections, and procession, respecting things of time, and concerns finite. But, we are very certain these terms in this limited application and sense, are not to be used to make their more comprehensive, or other use, touching the underived, and uncreated nature of the Mediator, an absurdity. As to the term generation, is it to be applied in the Doctor's way, to things infinite, eternal? They are said to be one now; and there would seem in this sense, no similitude, no single succession, or generation in things infinite, in concerns eternal. The use of the reverent title, Father, and the style of address, Son, in the scripture, we apprehend are not to be spoken of as involving time, or implying generation, in human comparison. In these relations of Deity, they cannot know the limitations, which constitute time ; and which only can relate to finite considerations. Time is finite, and infinitely distinct from eternal. The eternal first cause and effect, (as man speaketh) are one on the circle of eternity; there is no antecedent or posterior. The Doctor has defined the term eternity correctly; he says, it “is that which has had no beginning, nor stands in any reference to time." Still he has taken terms of time, to reason from, in reference to his conclusions. His notions, as to the conjunction of the two terms, eternal Son,” we think is a mere supposition, not founded in good judgment. We cannot see their conjunction, in a scriptural
sense, is ó a contradiction," is impossible," nor can we agree that “they imply essentially different, and opposite ideas." « Eternity is the life of God”-the eternal is God, the Son or Word is God of God, The definition of Son, is the “2d person of the Trinity," the 2d person of the Trinity is the Word, and the Word is eternal, “the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” It appears to us then, by the Apostle John's definition of Son, that there is no “contradiction," nothing absolutely impossible,” nothing from which to “imply essentially different and opposite ideas.” Son is one of the peculiar distinctions of God.
« The Word was made flesh," that is as we understand it, was made kindred to, or kinsman to the whole man ; " not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God;'' of himself, took man's nature in the womb of the virgin; and these two natures became one person. And dwelt, or tabernacled among us, and is enshrined in every heart, received into the same union, and continuing in love, by the quickening and overshadowing of the Comforter. He is tabernacled also in all his churches, they in him and he in them," and this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life; and the life is in his Son, he that hath the Son hath life.” This is the Son of God in his divine nature, this the anti-type of the types of God's presence in the tabernacle, and in the temple.
The Son, in the Bible dictionary, and in his divine nature, means the underived, eternal, “ 2d person in the Trinity," in mysterious union with the Father, and the consecrated and glorified humanity of the Saviour, for the purposes of man's salvation through his įnfinite merit. The mercy
of the triune God in the scheme of man's redemption, it is abundantly evident from the whole current of the bible, is infinite in its offices, and personages. “There are three who bear record in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one."
The Doctor in his commentary, we think, has shown that the best of men are frail, and their works infirm ; for he has fallen into a greater dilemma, a more gratifying error to the unregenerate, and “enemies of Christ,” than can be the one he so feelingly denounces and would obviate; and this is, can he avoid the result, that if the Son of God is meant created nature, and the words have relation to the human nature alone, and not to the divine nature, it is a doctrine fatally destructive of the infinite merit of the Saviour, making him a created, or derived being, and not equal, and one with the Father and Holy Ghost, except in an allegorical sense. And if so, what would the Doctor do with the ordinance of baptism, and the apostolic benediction. Must they not be idolatrous, and must not salvation itself be allegorical? It would appear he had abandoned an invincible part of the defence of the doctrine, in order to evade the attack of the common enemy, on a point where the assault was of little available importance to the assailant, and of very limited injury to the assailed. In order to obviate objections to the divinity of the Sonship, he has conceded that the 2d personage of the Trinity, the Sonship, is the human nature of Christ. As Trinitarians, we say, the Son is divine, and eternal ; and in nature, dignity, and glory, is Jehovah, Saviour; and his divinity is neither derived or created. We must, therefore, marvel at the facility with which