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Our doctrine is, that previous to the incarnation, and from all eternity he existed as the Word.
Suppose we admit their views and doctrine of generation as to the relation of Father and Sonand devote a page or two to its consideration. Let us, premise, as to the foregoing question, Mr. Millard answers on his plan, the Son would not partake the fulness of the Godhead, &c. And the Doctor has something of the same idea. Mr. Millard states, that the Son took part of the nature of God, and part of the nature of man, not the whole. The Doctor says, that if Jesus Christ is the Son of God in his divine nature, it destroys the Deity of Christ, and if “his deity be taken away, the whole gospel scheme of redemption is ruined.” In this, the Doctor and Mr. Millard perfectly agree, viz. that if our Lord is the Son of God in his divine nature, then he is not God. Mr. Millard,promptly denies the doctrine of the Trinity, and professes to be in sentiment Unitarian ; the Doctor professes to be a Trinitarian.
Mr. Millard's arguments to support his system, he has triumphantly summed up, in this triumphant question—" if Jesus Christ be the proper son of God, how then can he be the God of which he is the son ?” The Doctor's arguments to support the same question are “if Christ be the Son of God, as to his divine nature, then his Father is of necessity prior, consequently superior to him; and if the divine nature were begotten of the Father, then it must be in time; i.e. there was a period when it did not exist, and a period when it began to exist. This destroys the eternity of our blessed Lord, and robs him at once of his Godhead.”
Suppose a child of fifteen years, should ask, who is this Mr. Millard, is he a man? and he
was to be answered, he is the son of a man. He should still ask, is he not then a man? We should answer, why no child, how do you think he can be a son of man, and a man of which he is the son ? The child asks, is he not man in his nature? We answer he is not a man in his nature he only partakes of part of the nature of man, and is only part man. This is the reason. ing of Mr. Millard, to show that Jesus Christ is not God, and we are desirous he should have all the merit of it.
The Doctor's arguments, on this point agree with Mr. Millard's, that if Jesus Christ is the Son of God in his divine nature, it destroys the eternity and divinity of the Son. The divinity, he observes, or the divine nature, had ng beginning, it was that Word which was with God from eternity, John 1, 1.
If the Doctor's mode of reasoning on the eternal generation of the Son be just, he has truly gotten us into difficulty. But when he comes himself to re-consider, we are grossly mistaken if he does not find himself in some serious difficulty. He tells us the divine nature had no beginning, and then, it was and is that Word which was with God from eternity, and is God. Here are three things exhibited— 1st That this divine nature is eternal, this we always believed. 2dly. That this divine nature, was and is the Word; this we believe is true. 3dly. This divine nature, or Word, was with God from eternity ; in this we perfectly agree.
Now, we will assume the same mode of reasoning, that he does upon the eternal generation of the Son, in this matter. If Christ be the Word of God in his Divine nature, then the Father who
spoke tlus Ward, is of necessity prior, cansequently superior. And if this Divine Word proceeded of, or from the Father, then it must be in time; that there was a time, in which it did not exist, and a period in which it began to exist; this destroys the eternity of our blessed Lord, and robs him at once of the Godhead. Following further this mode of reasoning: to say the Word proceeding from God, was spoken from all eternity is in my opinion absurd, and the phrase eternal Word is a positive self contradiction, therefore, the conjunction of those two terms, Word and Eternity, is absolutely impossible, because they imply essentially different and opposite ideas; this is certainly absurd.
In our long contemplations upon this note of the Doctor's, an anecdote, recorded in Mr. Wesley's Journal, has often occurred to our minds. Mr. Wesley “ being a churchman, was in the habit of reading. prayers in the congregation, and afterwards he got into the habit of praying extempore, or without printed form; in conversation with a churchman, the churchman says to Mr. Wesley, praying extempore is no prayer at all, and I can prove it, for a man cannot think of two things at once; he cannot think how to pray, and pray at the same time.” Mr. Wesley answered, “reading prayers, is no prayer at all, and I can prove it, for a man cannot think of two things at once; a man cannot think how to read, and pray
at the same time.” We think the attentive reader will require no illustration, or explanation of the anecdote.
Thus we see, that the procession of the Godhead, must be something infinitely different in Hature and kind from any thing which takes
piace among creatures, as the foundation of
peint sonal distinction. Those generative expressions which makes individuality, or personality between man and man, and creature relations can little explain or refute the eternal existence or subsistence. Because of the poverty and inapplicability of creature terms, which are infinitely short in conveying a full meaning about infinite relations, the faith of no person ought to be shaken. Signs of ideas, in relations of time can give no adequate and correct views of eternity, and eternal relations, which are infinitely more perfect. In every thing in reference to eternity our ideas are human and imperfect, yet because it is incomprehensible, we cannot presume to deny the fact, that the Father is eternal. It is, however, often verified, that “vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild asses colt.” Job, il, 12. From Father and Son in relation to the Godhead, and their eternal unity, we may learn that in the existence and subsistences of the Deity, there is that which is high above our ideas, or comprehension unless revealed, and if it were not so, we should have no reason to believe in it. That the Bible has revealed, indisputably, the eternal filiation of the son, is to us plain--and the union of man in him by the new birth or by adoption, or the spirit of the bride, under the influences of the Holy Ghost is revealed in terms equally clear, “None but the Supreme Being, can speak properly of him, but himself.”
Thus we arrive, at the conclusion that the critical disquisitions of philosophic pride, refutes itself. If they make the Son of God, a created being, they are ensnared in their own meshes, they gain nothing, but the conceit and pride of
opinion iri opposition to revelation, and the whole scheme of Scriptural redemption, which alone "is the way, the truth and the life.” If they surrender up the Son of God's being a created being, and reasoñi themselves into a belief that he is a derived being, and still reasoning upon divine and infinite things, as they do upon things human and natural, and with great polemic ingenuity speculate upon natural relations, and analogies, still they will run into insuperable difficulties.
And having spun out, their fine and atenuated thread of argument, they may turn to the only volume revealing divine truth and philosophy, and “every description of the Divine Being in the New Testament,” whether of Father, Son, or Holy Ghost, "gives an idea of” the union and personality of the Godhead; the Father, being first of the three which bear record in Heaven;" the Word or Son, the second person; and the Comforter or Holy Ghost the third person, and these three are one," divinely considered ; although, man from his limited and low capacity, may count one, two, three, understanding nothing only in parts. And they may endeavor to unite these as derived, dependant, and created parts, and it will be as the image of Nebuchadnezzar, a union merely of discordant materials ; the dream of human change, and mutability, and weakness; and all afford high evidence, that we forget that human and divine nature, and intelligence, and personality, must essentially differ; and that reasoning from what we know of man, will be defective and inconclusive, as to the existence and subsistences of God, whom to know aright is life eternal. The testimony of Scripture, is as much above sucli reasoning, as heaven is