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of terms instead of a mode of generation. This is the whole that is revealed concerning the generation of the Son of God. Whoever wishes to be wiser than this, becomes foiled in his pursuit after wisdom, entangled in the deceitfulness of vain philosophy, or rather of sophistry, and involved in darkness.
Since, however, Christ not only bears the name of the only begotten Son of God, but is also several times called in Scripture God, notwithstanding the universal doctrine that there is but one God, it appeared to many, who had no mean opinion of their own acuteness, that there was an inconsistency in this; which gave rise to an hypothesis no less strange than repugnant to reason, namely, that the Son, although personally and numerically another, was yet essentially one with the Father, and that thus the unity of God was preserved.
But unless the terms unity and duality mean the same with God as with man, it would have been to no purpose that God had so repeatedly inculcated that first commandment, that he was the one and only God, if another could be said to exist besides, who also himself ought to be believed in as the one God. Unity and duality cannot consist of one and the same essence. God is one ens, not two; one essence and one subsistence, which is nothing but a substantial essence, appertain to one ens; if two subsistences or two persons be assigned to one essence, it involves a contradiction of terms, by representing the essence as at once simple and compound. If one divine essence be common to two. persons, that essence or divinity will either be in the relation of a whole to its several parts, or of a genus to its several species, or lastly of a common subject to its accidents. If none of these alternatives be conceded, there is no mode of escaping from the absurd consequences that follow, such as that one essence may be the third part of two or more.
There would have been no occasion for the supporters of these opinions to have offered such violence to reason, nay even to so much plain scriptural evidence, if they had duly considered God's own words addressed to kings and princes,"
8 In the unity of this Godhead there be three persons of one substance, power and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost? First Article of the Church of England.
.for glory done
Paradise Lost, XI. 696.
Psal. lxxxii. 6. "I have said, Ye are gods, and all of you are children of the Most High;" or those of Christ himself, John x. 35. "if he called them Gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken-;" or those of St. Paul, 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6. " for though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or earth, (for there be gods many and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things,"&c. ; or lastly of St. Peter, ii. 1, 4. "that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature," which implies much more than the title of gods in the sense in which that title is applied to kings; though no one would conclude from this expression that the saints were co-essential with God.
Let us then discard reason in sacred matters, and follow the doctrine of Holy Scripture exclusively. Accordingly, no one need expect that I should here premise a long metaphysical discussion, and advocate in all its parts the drama of the personalities in the Godhead: since it is most evident, in the first place, from numberless passages of Scripture, that there is in reality but one true independent and supreme God; and as he is called one, (inasmuch as human reason and the common language of mankind, and the Jews, the people of God, have always considered him as one person only, that is, one in a numerical sense) let us have recourse to the sacred writings in order to know who this one true and supreme God is. This knowledge ought to be derived in the first instance from the Gospel, since the clearest doctrine respecting the one God must necessarily be that copious and explanatory revelation concerning him which was delivered by Christ himself to his apostles, and by the apostles to their followers. Nor is it to be supposed that the gospel would be ambiguous or obscure on this subject; for it was not given for the purpose of promulgating new and incredible doctrines respecting the nature of God, hitherto utterly unheard of by his own people, but to announce salvation to the Gentiles through
1 Down, reason, then; at least vain reasonings, down.
Samson Agonistes, 322.
2 Seem I to thee sufficiently possess'd
Second to me or like, equal much less. Paradise Lost, VIII. 404.
Messiah the Son of God, according to the promise of the God of Abraham. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him,” John i. 18. Let us therefore consult the Son in the first place respecting God.
According to the testimony of the Son, delivered in the clearest terms, the Father is that one true God, by whom are all things. Being asked by one of the scribes, Mark xii. 28, 29, 32, which was the first commandment of all, he answered from Deut. vi. 4, "the first of all the commandments is, 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord;' or as it is in the Hebrew, “Jehovah our God is one Jehovah." The scribe assented; "there is one God, and there is none other one but he;" and in the following verse Christ approves this answer. Nothing can be more clear than that it was the opinion of the scribe, as well as of the other Jews, that by the unity of God is intended his oneness of person. That this God was no other than God the Father, is proved from John viii. 41, 54, "we have one Father, even God.... it is my Father that honoureth me; of whom ye say that he is your God." iv. 21, "neither in this mountain, nor yet at Jerusalem, shall ye worship the Father." Christ therefore agrees with the whole people of God, that the Father is that one and only God. For who can believe it possible for the very first of the commandments to have been so obscure, and so ill understood by the Church through such a succession of ages, that two other persons, equally entitled to worship, should have remained wholly unknown to the people of God, and debarred of divine honours even to that very day? especially as God, where he is teaching his own people respecting the nature of their worship under the gospel, forewarns them that they would have for their God the one Jehovah whom they had always served, and David, that is, Christ, for their King and Lord. Jer. xxx. 9. "they shall serve Jehovah their God, and David their King, whom I will raise up unto them." In this passage Christ, such as God willed that he should be known or worshipped by his people under the gospel, is expressly distinguished from the one God Jehovah, both by nature and title. Christ himself therefore, the Son of God, teaches us nothing in the gospel respecting the one God but what the law had before taught, and every where clearly asserts him to
be his Father. John xvii. 3. "this is life eternal, that they might know thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent."3 xx. 17. "I ascend unto my Father and your Father; and to my God and your God:" if therefore the Father be the God of Christ, and the same be our God, and if there be none other God but one, there can be no God beside the Father.
Paul, the apostle and interpreter of Christ, teaches the same in so clear and perspicuous a manner, that one might almost imagine the inculcation of this truth to have been his sole object. No teacher of catechumens in the church could have spoken more plainly and expressly of the one God, according to the sense in which the universal consent of mankind has agreed to understand unity of number. 1 Cor. viii. 4-6. ". we know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one: for though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many and lords many), but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." Here the expression there is none other God but one, excludes not only all other essences, but all other persons whatever; for it is expressly said in the sixth verse, 'that the Father is that one God;" wherefore there is no other person but one; at least in that sense which is intended by divines, when they argue from John xiv. 16. that there is another, for the sake of asserting the personality of the
3 Milton makes the following remarkable comment on this text, in his treatise on Logic. Exclusiva quidam est vel subjecti vel prædicati; subjecti, quæ, nota exclusiva præposita, excludit omnia subjecta alia a prædicato. Sed frustra hanc regulam ratio dictarit, si logicis quibusdam modernis, et nominatim Kickermanno licebit, eam statim, conflato ad id ipsum canone, penditus evertere. Exclusiva,' inquit, subjecti non excludit concomitantia; ut solus pater est verus Deus. Hic,' inquit, 'non excluditur concomitans, filius, et Spiritus Sanctus.' At quis non videt subornatum hunc canonem ad locum illum luculentissimum, Joan, xvii. 3. ludificandum?'-Prose Works, Symmons' Ed. VI. 294.
4 The allusion may be, amongst others, to Diodati, the friend of Milton, and whose annotations on Scripture were doubtless well known to him. His remark on this verse is, That the Holy Ghost is distinct from the Sonne in his personall subsistence, and in the manner of working in believers.'-Diodati's Annotations on the Holy Bible, 3d. Edit., London,
Holy Spirit. Again, to those who are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, God the Father of whom are all things is opposed singly; he who is numerically one God, to many gods. Though the Son be another God, yet in this passage he is called merely Lord; he of whom are all things is clearly distinguished from him by whom are all things, and if a difference of causation prove a difference of essence, he is distinguished also in essence. Besides, since a numerical differ- . ence originates in difference of essence, those who are two numerically, must be also two essentially. There is one Lord, namely he whom "God the Father hath made," Acts ii. 36. much more therefore is the Father Lord, who made him, though he be not here called Lord. For he who calls the Father one God, also calls him one Lord above all, as Psal. cx. 1. "the Lord saith unto my Lord,"- —a passage which will be more fully discussed hereafter. He who calls Jesus Christ one Lord, does not call him one God, for this reason among others, that "God the Father hath made him both Lord and Christ," Acts ii. 36. Elsewhere therefore he calls the Father both God and Lord of him whom he here calls " one Lord Jesus Christ." Eph. i. 17. "the God of our Lord Jesus Christ.' 1 Cor. xi. 3. "the head of Christ is God." xv. 28. "the Son also himself shall be subject unto him." If in truth the Father be called the Father of Christ, if he be called the God of Christ, if he be called the head of Christ, if he be called the God to whom Christ described as the Lord, nay, even as the Son himself, is subject, and shall be subjected, why should not the Father be also the Lord of the same Lord Christ, and the God of the same God Christ; since Christ
5 Res etiam singulæ, sive individua, quæ vulgo vocant, singulas sibique proprias formas habent; differunt quippe numero inter se, quod nemo non fatetur. Quid autem est aliud numero inter se, nisi singulis formis differre ? Numerus enim, ut recte Scaliger, est affectio essentiam consequens. Quæ igitur numero, essentia quoque differunt; et nequaquam numero, nisi essentia, differrent. Evigilent hic theologi. Quod si quæcunque numero, essentia quoque differunt, nec tamen materia, necesse est formis inter se differant; non autem communibus, ergo propriis.' Artis Logicæ plenior Institutio. Prose Works, Symmons' Ed., VI. 214. The hint thrown out to the theologians in this passage is very remarkable; but I am not aware that it has ever been noticed as affording a clue to the opinion of Milton on the important subject alluded to, which could scarcely have been expected to be found in a treatise on Logic. See below, p. 132.