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tics before him. What remains of it at this day is to be met with chiefly among the Socinians; those of them, I mean, who have refined upon their master Socinus, in this particular; and are more properly Photinians, or Sabellians. Ak celebrated writer abroad has openly espoused this Photinian notion in part; disguising it a little under the name reason, answering pretty nearly to the heretical sense of the xóyos évdiάdetos, or inward thought: so that now the Sabellian interpretation, after the latest improvements, runs thus.
"In the beginning was Reason, and Reason was in God, " and Reason was God himself. It was in God from the beginning, before the world was: for whatever is in na❝ture was made with the highest Reason, neither is there "that single thing that was made without Reason."
But against this, or any other the like Sabellian construction of the first chapter of St. John, many unanswerable reasons have been urged both by ancients and moderns.
1. As first, St. John does not say that the WORD was 1Oeos, a divine Word, which might have favoured the Sabellian sense, but ☺sòs, God; thereby strongly denoting a real Person. A man's word, or thought, is not called man; nor would the Word or Wisdom of God be called God, if a mere attribute or operation only was intended, and not a real person. Or if it be said, that it does denote a Person, the same Person that was before spoken of as God, in the same verse; then how can the other words
bius, or the Arians. Vid. Orig. in Joh. p. 24, in Jerem. p. 184. Euseb. contr. Marc. p. 120. de Laud. Const. c. 12. Cyril. Hierosol. Catech. iv. c. 5. p. 50. Athanas. Expos. Fid. p. 99. Orat. ii. p. 503. Basil. Hom. xxvii. p. 602. Ambros. de Fid. lib. iv. cap. 7. Ignat. Epist. Interpolat. ad Magnes. c. 8. Some even of the Arians, after they came to make a distinction of a twofold aóyos, adopted, in part, this very Sabellian notion. Vid. Athanas. p. 503, 282, 260. Cyril. Alex. in Joh. lib. i. p. 30. Ambros. de Fid. lib. iv. c. 7.
k Le Clerc. Comment. in Joh. i. 1.
1 Vid. Euseb. contr. Marcel. p. 83. Tertull. contr. Prax. p. 504. Epiph. Hæres. lxv. p. 609. Deus erat Verbum cessat Sonus vocis-Res est, non Sonus; natura, non Sermo; Deus, non inanitas est. Hilar, p. 796.
stand, that he was with God? He cannot be supposed the self-same Person with whom he was. m With God, plainly signifies the same as with the Father, (see 1 Joh. i. 2.) who is God. The Apostle can never be supposed to mean that the Father was with the Father; the Word therefore, if it denotes a Person at all, must be understood of another Person. But that it denotes a Person will appear farther.
2. For it is not said that the WORD, or REASON, was in God, as might be proper of an attribute, &c. but with God; which is another personal character 1.
3. It is said that all things were made by the Word: which (as appears from other texts) comes to the same as to say, that the WORD made all things: which is a farther confirmation that a real thing is intended by the WORD, not an attribute only.
4. The Apostle observes (v. 8.) of John the Baptist, that he (ixeivos) was not that Light, intimating thereby that he had been speaking of a Person before, who really was; and therefore from hence also it appears that the WORD is something real.
5. It is said (ver. 11.) of the WORD, that "he came "unto his own, and his own received him not." This is good sense, and sounds well. But to say that Reason, the attribute, came unto its own, and its own received it not, has hardly either sense or propriety.
6. The WORD is represented (ver. 14.) as the only-begotten of the Father; which again is personal. For if begotten may be a proper expression, concerning an attribute or property; yet only-begotten is not, unless God has no more attributes than one. The characters therefore being
m Ei ô Xóyos ñv Teòs ròv Deòv, oùx ô dóyos isì ægòs öv ñv. núdè yàp ô ægòs öv ñv isı Xóyos. Epiphan. Hæres. lxv. p. 609.
n Verbum erat apud Deum. Nunquid audieras in Deo, ut Sermonem reconditæ cogitationis acciperes??-non in altero esse, sed cum altero prædicatur. Hilar. p. 796.
• Fecit enim et ipse, quæ facta sunt per illum. Quale est ut nihil sit ipse sine quo nihil factum est? Ut inanis solida, et vacuus plena, et incorporalis corporalia sit operatus? Tertull. contr. Prax. c. 7. Comp. Phœbad. p. 304.
thus plainly personal, and no necessity appearing why we should have recourse to figure, the literal interpretation is undoubtedly preferable.
7. I may add, lastly, that St. John in his Revelations expressly applies the name of Aóyos, or WORD, to Christ Jesus. "His name," saith he, " is called the WORD of "God," Rev. xix. 13.
These reasons are abundantly sufficient to convince us, that St. John intended not any attribute or operation by the WORD, but a real, living, substantial thing or person, distinct from the Father: and so the Church of Christ from the beginning has constantly understood it. So much for the Sabellian interpretation of this chapter.
2. The next that offers itself is the Socinian, properly so called; never espoused by Heretic or Catholic; never so much as thought of, at least not heard of, before the days of Socinus. He supposes St. John to have intended a real Person, by the Word, viz. the man Christ Jesus. His interpretation then is to this effect.
"In the beginning of the Gospel, was the man Christ "Jesus, otherwise called the WORD. He was with God,
having been taken up into heaven before he entered on "his ministry. And he was God, having the office, ho"nour, and title of a God conferred upon him, after his "resurrection. The same was in the beginning of the Gospel with God. All things belonging to the Gospel-state were reformed and renewed by him: and without him was there not any thing reformed or renewed."
A construction so manifestly forced and foreign, as this is, carries its own confutation along with it. It serves only to show what contempt the heads of a sect generally have, not only of the rest of mankind, but even of their own disciples; while they can thus unmercifully impose the wildest conceits imaginable upon them. To do the later Socinians justice, they have, I think, for the most part given up this violent interpretation; and, instead of it, have rather closed in with the Sabellian construction, which is more ingenious and plausible, and serves their
hypothesis as well. Neither of them will answer to the truth of the sacred Writ: they are both no other than the device of man, and must equally come to nought.
I proceed to the Arian interpretation, which appears better than either of the former, as coming nearer to the true one; and it is for that P very reason the most insinuating and dangerous of any.
3. The Arian construction, invented probably before, but first openly espoused and propagated in the beginning of the fourth century, is as follows.
"In the beginning of all things, before ever the earth "or the world was made, there existed a very glorious "and excellent creature, (since called the WORD,) the "Oracle of God, and Revealer of his will. That excellent "Person, the first whom God of his own good pleasure "and free choice gave being to, was with God the Fa"ther; and he was God, another God, an inferior God, infinitely inferior; but yet truly God, as being truly "partaker of divine glory then, and fore-ordained to have "true dominion and authority in God's own time. God "employed him as an instrument, or under agent, in "framing and fashioning the world of inferior creatures; ❝ and approved of his services so well, as to do nothing "without him."
This is the sum of the Arian interpretation, as nearly as I could draw it, out of the most general principles of the sect. For it must be observed that there never was a sect so divided and various, so unsettled and fluctuating in their principles as they. The reason of it is this; they take a kind of middle way between Catholics and Socinians, which admits of so great a latitude, that they know not where to fix. The Catholics looking upon the Son as essentially God in one capacity, and as man in another,
P Vinci illi vel facile possunt, vel facile vitari, quorum prima propositione omne consilium pectoris proditur. At vero hi (Ariani) quibus multa nobiscum paria sunt, facile possunt innoxias mentes, et Soli Deo deditas, fraudulenta societate percutere, dum malorum suorum virus per bona nostra defendunt. Pseud. Ambros. de Fid. Orthodoxa, cap. i. p. 347. ed. Bened.
easily know what may be proper to ascribe to him, in this or in that respect. The Socinians believing him to be man only, can as easily come to a resolution in the particulars of their scheme. But the Arians supposing him a creature at large, and not knowing the several degrees of perfection on this side infinite, are always in uncertainty ; not being able to determine how much or how little it may be proper to ascribe to the Son of God: and hence it is that they could never unite together in any one fixed and certain set of principles; but have been always wavering, various, and unconstant; and must ever be so to the world's end. But this by the way: having laid before you the Arian interpretation, nothing now remains but to offer to you the Catholic sense of this chapter, which I mean to explain, and defend; and that will be the same thing with confuting the Arian.
4. The Catholic construction, at length, is this.
"In the beginning, before there was any creature, (con"sequently from all eternity,) the WORD existed; and the "WORD was no distant separate power, estranged from “God, or unacquainted with him, but he was with God, "and himself also very God; not another God, but an"other Person only, of the same nature, substance, and "Godhead. All things were created by him, &c."
This I presume to call the Catholic and truly primitive interpretation of the first verse of this chapter: and what time your patience will farther allow me, shall be taken up in asserting and maintaining it. St. John has here called the WORD, God. In what sense, is the question.
Dei Verbum, imo magis ipse Deus. Iren. p. 132.
Ἓν γὰρ ἄμφω ὁ Θεός· ὅτι εἶπεν, ἐν ἀρχῇ ὁ λόγος ἦν ἐν τῷ Θεῷ· καὶ Θεὸς ἦν ὁ λόγος. Clem. Alex. p. 135.
Alium autem quomodo accipere debeas, jam professus sum. Personæ, non substantiæ nomine; ad distinctionem, non ad divisionem. Tertull. contr. Prax. p. 506. Hunc didicimus Filium Dei esse, et Deum dictum ex unitate substantiæ. Tertull. Apolog. c. 21.
Εἰ δὲ οὖν ὁ λόγος πρὸς τὸν Θεὸν, Θεὸς ὢν, τί οὖν φήσειεν ἄν τις δύο λέγειν θεούς; Δύο μὲν ἐκ ἐρῶ θεὸς ἀλλ ̓ ἢ ἕνα, πρόσωπα δὲ δύο, &c. Hippol. contr. Noët. c. xiv. જે