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it in consequence of the fall, as a human artist would remedy some damage which his workmanship had received by a newly excogitated contrivance adapted to an unforeseen case; but, even from everlasting, both the fall and the remedy were alike present to the contemplation of him, with whom there is neither past for future. God then being thus immutable in his purposes ; how can we believe, that he is mutable in his essence ? How can we rationally bring ourselves to suppose, that, after he had existed in a single person from all eternity, he began in time to exist in three persons ? How, in short, can we reconcile a change of so portentous a magnitude, a change in the very nature of the Divine Being, with his necessary attribute of immutability? If God exist in three distinct persons, a vital truth for which Mr. Bryaut most strenuously and laudably contends : he must surely have so existed from everlasting; he must surely continue thus to exist to everlasting. On the other hand, if he exist but in a single person, as the Socinians maintain ;, he must, unless we give up his attribute of immutability, both have existed and continue to exist in that same single person throughout the countless ages both of a retrospective and of a prospective eternity.
While Mr. Bryant therefore wishes to free the mystery of the Trinity from certain difficulties, he introduces a new difficulty far exceeding any which previously existed in the question.
2. But Mr. Bryant contends, that the doctrine of an eternal generation is as contradictory as the idea of an eternal creation ; because, in fact, it is no generation at all.
This argument is plainly founded on the assumption, that the term generation, as applied to the Word, is used precisely in the same sense, as when applied to a man; that it denotes in short a commencement of homogeneous existence. But it may be doubted, whether any such idea ought to be annexed to it. Allowing however, for the sake of argument, that it imports some ineffable emanation of the divine Son from the divine Father : still, in maintaining its eternity, I can discern nothing of that contradictoriness which Mr. Bryant complains of. If the Son be an eternally component member of an eternal and immutable Deity, his emanation must be as eternal as his personality; that is to say, neither 'the one nor the other can have had a beginning. But, if the Son be not an eternally component member of an eternal Deity, having emanated froin him in time: then the eternal Deity himself is not immutable, which is an evident contradiction. The idea however of an eternal emanation may, without much difficulty, be as perfectly presented to the human inte as the apparently impossible mathematical truth, that two concurrent lines may for ever approximate and
yet never coincide. Light is an emanation from the Sun: but, if the Sun, constituted as it now is, had existed eternally, light must have been an eternal emanation from it ; for the Sun could never have existed without this emanation of light. Each in that case would inevitably be eternal : because, so far from the emanation of light commencing in time, there never could have been a period when it did not emanate; consequently, no precise moment can be selected when it began to emanate from a supposed eternal luminary. Again: as every person well knows who has studied harmonics, the third and fifth tones are necessary emanations from what is styled the key-note, so that the key-note cannot be sounded without instantaneously producing the third and fifth. Now let us suppose a key-note to sound through all eternity both retrospective and prospective: what will be the inevitable consequence ? Clearly, its emanations, the third and fifth, will sound through all eternity likewise ; notwithstanding they are emanations from the key-note. For, the key-note sounding eternally, it will be impossible to pitch upon any moment in time, when the third and fifth began to sound. I by no means wish to bring these examples forward, as bearing any similitude to the filiation of the Word : I adduce them merely to shew, that the doctrine of eternal generation, be it true or be it false, contains in it nothing contradictory ; the point asserted by Mr. Bryant. So far from it indeed, if the generator be eternal, the generated must of necessity be eternal likewise; because no point of time can be specified, when the generation commenced.
as applied to the Son, does at all relate to any emanation of the Word from the Paternal Deity. The names Father and Son clearly indeed import, that the persons, who bear them, are beings of the same species and essential nature: but, as the whole phraseology is employed in condescension to our limited faculties and with a view to give us as much insight into the subject as we are capable of receiving, we ought to be cautious of urging that phraseology to the utmost extent of the letter. We should be shocked at the impiety of any one, who proposed to interpret the term begotten in that gross sense which it bears when a mortal father and son are spoken of: yet, though we shrink instinetively from such odious blasphemy; the mere term itself seems to be the only thing, which has led many divines to conclude, that the Word is so an emanation from the fountain of Deity, as to bear to the invisible Jehovah a relation in some measure similar to that which a son bears to a father. Perceiving however, that, if this exposition were strictly followed up, it would argue both a personal inferiority on the part of the Word and a chronological priority on the part of the Father, they met the difficulty by the hypothesis of an eternal generation; which, as I have already shewn, is at all events free from self-contradictoriness. This I take to be a true account of the rise and progress of the doctrine: and it is easy to perceive, that the entire system has originated from an assumption, that the term begotten denotes a process, to which, however inadequately,
the generation of a mortal son by a mortal father may be best compared.
Here then a question arises, whether we are any way bound to annex such a sense to the term begotten : a sense, which, let us modify it as we please, unavoidably makes the Son to be an emanation from the Father,
I cannot find, that we are at all thus limited by the general phraseology of Scripture. Whenever a person or thing passes into a new state, he or it is said, by an easy metaphor, to be born or begotten into that new condition. Thus the reestablishment of Israel in a living body politic is described, as the birth of the nation :' thus, when a man passes from a state of nature to a state of grace, he is said to be begotten again of God or to be born again of the Holy Spirit:' and thus, allusively to his resurrection, our Lord is styled the first-begotten of the dead ; a mode of speech, which of course implies that all his faithful followers will be similarly begotten of the dead." Such being the case, the term only-begotten or begotten, when applied to the Word with reference to his preëxisting state, does not inevitably relate to his supposed eternal generation or filiation nor indeed to any generation or filiation whatsoever. It may, according to the strict analogy of scrip
Isaiah Isyi. 7-9.
i Cor. iv. 15. Philem. 10. 1 Pet. i. 3. 1 John y. 1, 18. John iii. 3, 5, 7. 1 Pet. i. 23. John i. 13. 1 John iii. 9.' iv. 7. v. 4.
3 Rev. i. 5.