Page images
PDF
EPUB

"

next century, Theodoret of Cyrus, an ecclesiastical historian, having occasion to quote the words of Ignatius, and finding 'ayer' applied to Christ, which, in the sense of unbegotten,' (admitted by himself to be the proper sense), he saw, would not comport with the current doctrine of the age, he is hardy enough to read the passage'ye ayev

BEGOTTEN OF THE UNBEGOTTEN.' But at this the reader will cease to wonder, when he finds so accurate a writer as Bishop Pearson saying, "that "this sentence of Theodoret's is found in the epistle "to the Ephesians to this day"."

In the same century with Theodoret lived Pope Gelasius, the first Latin writer perhaps, who, in conformity with Athanasian usage, if not in imitation of it, renders the Greek of St Ignatius, into the Latin 'factus et non factus-made and not made. And it would seem to me, as if his papal authority had granted warrant to all succeeding ages, to adhere to this rendering, as the true one. Be this as it may, it is easy to see, how prevalent the influence of Athanasius afterwards became, and how studiously all his writings are both composed and quoted, with a view to the scheme of eternal generation.' Yet, it is owned by Bishop Pearson, that Athanasius acknowledges Christ to be called ' arysy'T' by Ignatius, (why then did he quote ayeros, as his language?) but that others after Ignatius,

6

spoke

• See Vindicia, p.12.

[ocr errors][ocr errors]

"

spoke otherwise; and, that although Athanasius disputed much with the Arians about ays, he never himself quotes Ignatius in the argument, having laid it down as a fundamental position, that “ 'εν το αγεννητον, ο πατηρ-there is one unbegotten, " even the Father'." Thus expressed, the position to every Greek scholar must appear not a little strange, more especially, when he takes into account the immediate design of it. Had this fundamental position been couched in the masculine gender, “ "εις 'ο αγεννητος, ο πατηρ,” like the text in the gospel of St Mark, so eagerly claimed by our modern Arians " εδεις αγαθος, ει μη 'ες, ο Θεος—there is none good but one, that is God," it would have better served the purpose so much triumphed in, of restraining the unbegotten' to the person of the Father. But in the neuter form, in which the position is stated, Scripture authority warrants me to extend it beyond the person of the Father, "Eyw nau ο πατης 'EV Eμεego et pater UNUM sumus-I and my Father are one;"" nay even to the whole Trinity, if that other text of St John be acknowledged genuine, “ 'ὗτοι οι τρες ἕν εισι—hi tres UNUM sunt σε "these three are one." Nor is the extension, thus scripturally authorized, unwarranted by Athanasius himself, if credit be due to the following source of information. I have in my possession four dialogues, ascribed to Athanasius, and translated

"

66"

46

[ocr errors]

1 See Vindicia, p. 126, 127.
3 St John s. 30.

2 St Mark x. 18.

4 1 St John v. 7,

lated by Beza, in which I find, among many quiddities, and perplexing distinctions of the schools, sundry things, which if I did understand, I cannot reconcile one with another. Yet, if the translation be just, (for which, as I am not inclined to give implicit faith to modern translations of the Fathers, I dare not vouch) in his first dialogue with the Anomaans, (a sect of Arians), on the he"retics asking, is not το αγέννητον-ingenitum-unbegotten' proper to the Father?" Athanasius "It is not," and adduces, for a

6

66 6

makes answer,
proof, the Holy Ghost himself.

But the time having now arrived, when the doctrine of eternal generation' had become the subject of much altercation and explication, there arose a curious question, which has occasioned no small controversy ever since. The question is this," Un"de et quomodo fluit hæc generatio, an ex natura an ex persona?-Whence flows this generation? does it "flow from nature or from person ?"

Athanasius had laid it down as another fundamental position, that " Father is the property of Fa"ther, Son of Son, and Spirit of Spirit '," of which, not to call it a mere gratis dictum, I shall only say, Quid explicat? From this position he argues, that the "property of the hypostasis of the Father, is Father," &c.; and that, by hypostasis, he means what we term Person, is plain, from his telling us,

in

See the above quoted Dialogues, Dial. I.

66

in the same place, that "Essence is common to Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and therefore we say-One essence, three hypostases."

66

[ocr errors]

66

66

But he had said before, and he repeats it again, and again, that the Son is Son, "by being genitus "ex hypostasi-begotten of the hypostasis:" and even with this peculiar addition, ex utero-from the womb of the hypostasis." This idea he had derived from the Septuagint translation of the third verse of the hundredth and tenth psalm-"x yasgos προ εωσφορ8 εγεννησα σε :” which translation Jerom has followed, "er utero ante luciferum genui te-from

the womb, before the morning, I have begotten "thee." Yet as the original gives no countenance to the active “eyena," I cannot help thinking our English translation preferable to both-" the dew of

thy birth is of the womb of the morning;" or, as in the new translation, "from the womb of the "morning, thou hast the dew of thy youth❞—

[ocr errors]

-Yet upon the corrupt ren מרחם משחר לך טל ילדתך

[ocr errors]

dering of the Septuagint, it is, that Athanasius
reasons with his adversary; applying the
"womb," to the hypostasis of the Father, without any
warrant from Scripture whatever', Nay, he makes
this application the great mark of distinction be-
tween the modus of the Son, and that of the Holy
Ghost,

G

1 In Psalm xxii. 9, 10. we find the Son speaking thus: "Thou art "he that took me out of my mother's womb;" but we nowhere read "of the womb of the Father;" nor does the Septuagint or Jerom make any such exclusive restriction in their translations of Psalm cx. 3.

Ghost, that the Son is "ex utero-from the womb," and the Spirit, "ex ore-from the mouth;" with this, not very logical, explication, that " womb" expresses generandi vim-the power of generation:" and mouth," "docendi facultatem-the faculty of teaching."

66

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

All this however rests on the faith of Beza's translation, which must be my apology, if I shall be found to have done injustice to the great Athanasius. My reason for the above observations is simply to shew, that his solution of the question, "unde et quomodo fluit hæc generatio," &c. attributes generation,' to the hypostasis or person of the Father; although, in another place, he contradicts himself, and expressly says, "We therefore "believe him to be the only begotten Son-quia “unicus ipse, ut antea diximus, er essentia genitus est “—because he only, as we have before said, is begotten of the Essence.'" On the supposition therefore, that Beza has done him justice, it can be no injustice to Athanasius' memory, for me to say, that the "unde et quomodo fluit hæc generatio, an ex natura, an ex persona ?" is ascribed at one time, by him, to the essence or nature,' at another to the hypostasis or person;' and therefore that no authority whatever attaches to his solution.

66

[ocr errors]

The case however is otherwise with one, who

flourished

[merged small][ocr errors]
« PreviousContinue »