Imatges de pàgina

All the Fathers insist upon this, that if there were more than one fountain of the divinity, or if the three persons were each of them a self-dependent principle of divinity, or if the three persons were separate from each other, then there would be three Gods. But being there is but one fountain of the divinity, the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost deriving their divinity from that fountain, and that so, as still to exist in it, and be inseparably united to it, there is but one God. That this is the unanimous consent and constant doctrine of the primitive Fathers, I have fully shewed in my Defensio Fidei Nicenæ. I shall here resume, and more fully explain, only one testimony which I have there alleged, because it shews us what was then accounted Sabellianism, what Tritheism, and what the catholic doctrine concerning the blessed Trinity; matters so hotly disputed among us at this day.

Dionysius, bishop of Rome, who flourished about the year 259, whom his great namesake of Alexandria styles λόγιόν τε και θαυμάσιον, α learned and wonderful man, in an Epistle against the Sabellians, (which doubtless he wrote, as the manner then was, with the advice and consent of the clergy of his diocese synodically convened, after he had refuted the doctrine of Sabellius , thus proceeds to discourse against the contrary heresy of those “who divide “ and cut asunder, and overthrow the most sacred 6 doctrine of the church of God, parting the mon“ archy into three certain powers and hypostases, “ separated from each other, and consequently into “ three Deities. For I hear that there are some

b Apud Athan. de Decret. Syn. Nic. tom. I. p. 275. [c. 26. vol. I. p. 231.]

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catechists and teachers of the word of God among you, who maintain this opinion; therein diametrically, if I may so speak, opposing the hypothesis

of Sabellius. For he blasphemeth by affirming that “ the Father is the Son, and, on the other side, that “ the Son is the Father; but these men in a manner “ teach three Gods, whilst they divide the holy

Unity into hypostases, alien and wholly divided “ from each other. For it is absolutely necessary “ that we hold, that the divine Word is united to the “ God of all things, and that the Holy Ghost re“ mains and dwells in God; and also, that the divine * Trinity is gathered together and united into one,

as into a certain head; I mean the omnipotent « God, the Father of all things."

Here we see what is Sabellianism, viz. To affirm that the Son is the Father, and the Father the Son; and consequently that the Holy Ghost is the same with both. And all they come very near this heresy, who acknowledge only a modal distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. What is Tritheism he also shews us plainly, viz. That it is to hold, that the three persons in the Trinity are of a different nature, or separated and divided from each other; or that there is more than one fountain or principle of the divinity. According to which account, Dr. Sherlock is certainly clear from the charge of Tritheism : the catholic doctrine he declares to be this, “ That there are three really distinct hypostases “ in the Godhead, and yet that there is but one God;

c And afterwards in the conclusion he saith, that in this way only, και η θεία Τριάς και το άγιον κήρυγμα της μοναρχίας διασώζοιτο, i. e. “Both the divine Trinity,” (that is, a real Trinity,) " and also “ the holy doctrine of the monarchy, can be preserved." [p. 232.]

“ because the Father only is the head of the divinity, " and the Son and Holy Ghost, as they are derived “ from him, so they exist in him, and are inseparably “ united to him."

Of such a distinction and union of persons we have indeed no example, or exact similitude among created beings: but what then? It does not follow that therefore there cannot be such a distinction and union in the transcendent and most spiritual nature of God. The Antitrinitarians can never produce a demonstrative reason to prove that this cannot be; and divine revelation assures us that so it is. The most weighty arguments that are brought by the Antitrinitarians against a distinction of hypostases in the Godhead are reducible to one, which if well answered, the rest will fall to the ground.

The argument is this:

The most simple being admits of no distinction.
God is the most simple being ;
Therefore God admits of no distinction.

Answ. If the Antitrinitarians that make this objection are the Socinians among us, as I presume they are, it is news to hear that they should argue from the simplicity of the Godhead, seeing the great masters of that sect, Socinus, Crellius, &c., held that God is a material being, and consequently compounded of matter and form. Express citations to this purpose may be seen in Dr. Edwards's Antidote against Socinianism, part I. p. 65, 66. .

This opinion they held, because they could not conceive how there can be any substance that is purely spiritual, and abstracted from all matter: and if they could have conceived this, perhaps they would not have stuck at the doctrine of the Trinity. For the great difficulty of conceiving a Trinity in Unity in the Godhead arises chiefly from hence, that men are apt to measure the divine nature from ideas and notions taken from material things. But to the purpose:

1. The simplicity of the divine nature does indeed exclude all mixture; i. e. all composition of things heterogeneous in the Godhead, there being nothing in God but what is God; but for all that, there may be distinction of hypostases in the Godhead, provided they are homogeneous, and of the same nature, as the catholic doctrine teaches.

2. The simplicity of the divine nature, if rightly considered, is so far from excluding, that it necessarily infers a distinction of hypostases in the Godhead. For wherein does the simplicity of the Godhead especially consist but in this, that God is a pure eternal mind, free from the mixture of all kind of matter whatsoever? Now an eternal mind must needs have in it from eternity an έννοια or λόγος, α notion on: conception of itself, which the schools term verbum mentis ; nor can it be conceived without it. This word in God cannot be, as it is in us, a transient, vanishing accident, for then the divine nature would indeed be compounded of substance and accident, which would be repugnant to its simplicity; but it must be a substantial subsisting word. The great apostolical bishop of Neocæsarea, Gregory, surnamed Thaumaturgus, in his Panegyric to Origen, (by all confessed to be genuine,) calls it, “the most perfect,

living, and animate word of the very first mind d.” This word also is manifestly (though not divided,

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yet) distinct from the eternal mind from whence it proceeds. And this is no novel subtlety of the schools, but a notion that runs through all the Fathers, even those of the first ages, as appears from the testimonies produced out of them in my Defensio Fidei Nicene, and it is also grounded on holy Scripture.

Hence the excellent Athanasius, than whom no man better understood the sense of Scripture and the doctors of the church that were before him in the article of the Trinity, insists upon it in his Oration against the Sabellians. In the beginning of which, having first shewn how the catholic church of Christ, in her notion and worship of God, differs from the heathens and Jews, he proceeds to declare the difference betwixt the orthodox Christians and the Sabellians, and other Unitarians of his time, who under pretence of defending the unity of the Godhead, denied all distinction of hypostases therein. His words are these; “ We are separated also from “ those who corrupt Christianity with Judaism, who,

denying the God of God, profess one God as the “ Jews do, affirming him (the Father) to be the only “ God, not upon account that he only is unbegotten, “and the only fountain of the Deity, but as if he “were without a Son, and barren, and void of his

living word and true wisdom. For they conceive “ the word of God to be such as proceeds from the “mind of man, and his wisdom to be such as that “ of ours; and therefore affirm God with his Word “ to be one person, just as we say that a man toge“ther with his word is one man; being in this no “ wiser than the Jews, who own not the Evangelist “in the beginning of his Gospel, proclaiming, In

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