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Many, when they begin to make the Scrio' tures their study, have but little or no idea of going to the old testament for information on this subject. Some will acknowledge, that when they had but superficially entered into their scriptural studies, and professed to know more about common law, than about the Gospel, that they thought Stephen might be a very good man, but tho't he answered very inconsistently and remotely to the indictment preferred against him ; but, that having taking more minute and comprehensive views, and having since found his key, and the force of his allusions, they feel as ready to acknowledge, that of all the portions of divinity, recorded in the scriptures, there is none which exceeds what he delivered; both in point as relates to the accusation, and in force, in regard to his justification, and correctness in doctrine : and we will add, that is more illustrative of the subject in hand.
We are aware of an objection which will, and has been raised against the doctrine, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God in his divine nature, and as such, none inferior to the Father. The objection made is, that if Jesus Christ be truly God in his nature, would it not be as inconsistent for the son to make his appearance in the form of an angel, or that of a man, as it would for the Father to make his appearance in the same way, or in the same character? We answer no, it would not. And we are constrained to say, that if we would lay aside that heat and spirit which generally arises from uncharitableness, bigotry, and controversy, we may see the difference. Yea, we are persuaded, that in the midst of controversy, when the spirits are ever so
fvarmi, let every man ask himself the following propositions or questions, and he would be conyinced it was not as natural and consistent when he heard them sound in his own earsNamely, the Son so loved the world that he gave his own father that begot him, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life? And, again, He that spared not his only Father, but freely delivered him for us all, will he not also give us all things ? And the same might be said respecting the Holy Ghost. How would it appear and sound to us, to say, that the Holy Ghost sent either of the other persons in the divine nature, that is, the Father, or Son ?
Every candid reader, feels the mantling blush, at such ideas being spread on paper, or sounding from the tongue, they appear so self contradictory to reason, to scripture, and nature. Exhibiting the ideas, seems to call for an apology, even after looking to God in the most solemn manner, for direction in this important question; unless it is done from a sense of duty, and in the hope, that candid and considerate Arians and Socinians, will hereby, at least, see some propriety in the Father's sending his Son into the world, and the impropriety of the Son's sending his Father into the world; admitting the Father has an only begotten Son.
We have, however, a further reason for exhibiting these last mentioned ideas. It is found, among some orders of christians, who appear to be exceeding zealous to defend the doctrine of the Trinity, as we call it, and tlie Deity of the Son, that their minds revolt, to hear one' word said in favor of the Father's filling a station or
office above the Son. This class of believers, were we accurately and scripturally to defend the real God-head of the Son, and ever so perfectly, would be out upon us with denunciations, and accusations, that we do not make the Son equal with the Father; and that we were leaning towards Arianism !
Before the accusing and condemning spirit of any class of christians should utter any thing about leaning towards Arianism, we think it suitable, they should understand themselves, or understand what Arianism is.
Arius believed, That Jesus Christ was a created being, which God the Father created, out of nothing; and that he was of an Angelic nature, and the first creature that God the Father created. But if it be true that God the Father hath an only Son, created, which he calls his only begotten Son, there is an infinite difference between them, not only in degree, but in nature.
We think that every philosopher will be willing to acknowledge, that there are two things in the universe, in which there is an infinite distinction or disproportion, viz. Between the uncreated substance of God, and all created things.And between entity, and non-entity-or in other words, between beings of creation and non-creation. In either of these cases, one is infinitely above the other, and infinitely distinct from each other: Consequently it is impossible in the nature of things, if we believe in the only begotten Son of God, and believe that he is from the uncreated substance of the Father, it is, we say impossible, to lean towards Arianism. There may be, however, different species of Arianism, of which we know nothing.
Not only so, but we think, that to maintain and defend the proper sonship of our Lord, (and his eternal generation so called) is the only way to defend the proper deity of our Savior and Mediator. This appears to be the ground that the Apostles and their successors have taken for more than three hundred years after our Lord sent forth the disciples to preach the gospel to all nations. It is equally true, that all the reformed churches, so called, which have arisen to any degree of eminence, for the last three centuries, have adopted the same doctrine, clearly and explicitly in their articles of faith : and most generally so clearly and explicitly, that it seems morally impossible, for any man of common reading and ability to misunderstand them; or to construe them differently. From the plain import of the language they have used, there is no ambiguity.
In defining these first principles of christianity, we are to acknowledge, that there has been some in every age of christianity, who have differed from the principles above stated, even in the Apostolic age. And of these, him and his followers, who adopted the doctrine, now called, Socinianism. And in the second century Sabellius arose who maintained a doctrine very different, from the doctrine of the Trinity, so called; or proper paternity of the Father, and the proper correlative or filiation of the Son. Sabellius maintained, if we mistake not, that God acted as Father in creation, and Son in Redemption, and Holy Ghost in being poured out on the day of Pentacost. This amounts to a trinity of offices, and not to a trinity of persons, therefore it destroys the idea of Father and Son in the Trin
áty. This doctrinė iš aeknowledged by lister rians to be condemned by the churches of that age.
The doctrine of Arianism, propagated by Arius in the third century, which denies the proper paternity of the Father, and of consequence, the proper divine relation of the Son. This doctrine was condemned by the great council at Nice in the year 325.
But what is most astonishing and mysterious to us, is, that many professing trinitarians of the present day, deny, what some of the most eminent fathers of the reformation called a procession: Or in other terms, that the Son proceeded from the Father, and the Holy Ghost, proceeded from the Father and Son. They think that the eternal relation of the Son, is a doctrine which cannot be defended by scripture. They therefore contend that Jesus Christ is not the Son of God, in his divine nature, but in his human nature. And they frequently deny that the human and divine were so united, that a sense of feeling was communicated from one nature to the other; and that also, that the divine nature was not made under the law, which was broken by our first parents.
There are a few things which are peculiar to these people in general. Perhaps no class of believers are so bitterly opposed to the Arians and Socinians, yet none, come so near them in doctrine. They make much pretension to orthodoxy, and contend that the doctrine of the Trinity, is the only catholic faith, which was known or preached in the three first centuries, and defended by the Niccan Council, in the 4th century. This we believe, that the doctrine of the Trinity, so call