Mr. WHISTON's LETTER To the Right Honourable the Earl of Nottingham, Concerning the ETERNITY OF THE SON of GOD And of the HOLY SPIRIT.

Est Deus Pater omnium Institutor & Creator, solus originem nesciens, invisibilis, immensus, immor­talis, aeternus, unus Deus: cujus neque magnitu­dini, neque majestati, neque virtuti quicquam non dixerim praeferri, sed nec comparari potest. Ex quo, quando ipse voluit, Sermo Filius natus est.—Accepit Paracletus a Christo quae nunciet: Major ergo jam Paracleto Christus est: quoniam nec Pa­racletus a Christo acciperet, nisi minor Christo esset.

Novatian. de Trin. §. 31.24.

LONDON: Printed for J. SENEX at the Globe in Salisbury-Court, and W. TAYLOR at the Ship in Pater-noster Row. 1719.



SINCE your Lordship had so very con­siderable a Share in the late Debates in the House of Peers, in Opposition to a Clause for the Toleration of the Christi­an Religion itself, or of all that believed the Holy Scrip­tures and the Common Creed; which I confess I had a great Hand in preparing and recommending, could it have been admitted; and in Behalf of a new Atha­nasian Test to be laid upon Christians; whereby, with the People called Quakers, they were to pro­fess Faith in God the Father, and in Jesus Christ, his Eternal Son, the True God; and in the Holy Spirit; One God Blessed for evermore: Since your Lordship had also the like Share in a late heavy Imputation laid on Dr. C— in the same House of Peers, for omitting the Holy Spirit in Doxologies; where yet that Imputation lay harder on my self, nay indeed on St. Paul and all the Apostles themselves than on Dr. C—: He having only omitted the Holy Spi­rit in his Doxologics sometimes, but I, in Imitation of those Apostles, never making him the direct Ob­ject of any Doxology at all. And since your Lord­ship's [Page 2] Chaplain, Mr. Seaton, has lately publish'd an Essay on the Eternity of the Son of God, address'd to the Laity of this City; and written, I must confess, in a cool and sober Manner; but as it were in Vin­dication of such your Lordship's Proceedings: I think it cannot, on all these Accounts, be impro­per for me, who so greatly dissent from your Lord­ship and your Chaplain in these Matters, to address this Paper to your Lordship, and therein to lay be­fore you and the Christian World a fair Collection of the sacred and primitive Testimonies concerning this important Point; I mean, whether God the Father be the only Eternal Being, the only Eternal God; or whether the Son and Holy Spirit be also Eternal Beings, or be Coeternal with the Father, as all the real Trinitarians assert. I say real Trinitarians only: for as for the nominal or modal Trinitarians, which also include the Sabellians and Socinians, and are now the most numerous, who say the Son and Spirit are not really different from, but are, or make up, together with the Father, the One Eter­nal God, there is no room for the Question among them at all: It being the absurdest Thing in the World to suppose that God is not coeternal to him­self, tho' the Expression be somewhat extraordinary. Now, in order to satisfy your Lordship and the World in this Matter, I shall beg Leave at present to wave the common Method of disputing, and ar­guing, and pleading, and drawing uncertain Con­sequences on either Side, and shall set down, instead thereof, a Collection of those original Texts and Testimonies which relate to this important Do­ctrine; that so every one may, with his own natu­ral common Sense and Judgment, and without Fear of being impos'd upon by modern Inferences, im­partially pronounce on which Side the superior E­vidence lies. Your Lordship well knows that Truth is best discover'd by the open, fair, and solemn Way of Proceedings in Courts of Justice; where the Evidence for Facts is still enquir'd into and ex­amin'd from Eye and Ear-Witnesses, or from the authentick Records themselves produc'd in Court; [Page 3] where the Judges determine of those Facts intirely by that original Evidence; and where all that the Pleaders allege about those Facts goes for nothing, any farther than it is thus proved. Now, what was the Doctrine of our Blessed Saviour and his Apo­stles, or what was the Christian Faith in this Mat­ter, is certainly at this Day an ancient Fact; and no otherwise to be now known but by ancient Evidence, primitive Witnesses, and original Records still re­maining. To these therefore do I solemnly Appeal in the present Question; and by these and these only do I resolve to be determin'd therein. And this Method is so evidently fair and reasonable, that I cannot but hope that your Lordship and all equi­table Enquirers will also approve of it, and be willing to be determin'd by it. Nor do I mean this with Regard to the present Doctrine, or the real and strict Coeternity of the Son and Holy Spirit to the Father only; but with Regard to all the like controverted Points in Christianity also: which can, I think, be no other way so authentickly, so sa­tisfactorily, and so peaceably determined among Christians as by this Procedure; especially while in this Method the Meaning of doubtful Words and Phrases are to be stated no otherwise than by the ancient Use of the same; and no modern Distincti­ons or Evasions unsupported by Antiquity, will be admitted: and where no later Translations will be of Weight, any farther than they are supported by the primary Sense of the Original, in the Ages wherein the Books themselves were written.

I therefore, upon this Occasion, in the most, pub­lick and open Manner, in the Behalf of my self and of others of my Opinion, as to the Points now in Dispute among us, do, before your Lordship, and before the Christian World, invite all the so­ber and learned Athanasians to come into this Propo­sal; I mean, that omitting all the Passions, the Tricks, the Subtilties, the Distinctions and Evasions of the Pleaders or Disputers of this World, they will join with us in a calm, a fair, an authentick, a friendly, and a Christian Examination of these Points in the [Page 4] Bible and primitive Antiquity; and in drawing up, after such an Examination, an upright, impartial, and full Collection of all the ancient Texts and Te­stimonies, before the Days of Athanasius, which concern the same; to be by joint Consent laid be­fore the World; with the bare summing up the E­vidence on both Sides, as the Judges themselves do in their Courts, without any other Comments or Colours of our own whatsoever.

Thus, for Example, the whole Christian Church, My Lord, did ever, and does still unanimously own, that there is but One, Eternal, Omnipotent, Invisible, and Almighty God; the original Cause and Creator of all other Beings: While many of the Trinitarians now affirm, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, taken together, are that One God; and we, on the other Side, assert that God the Fa­ther, and He alone, is that One God. Here, My Lord, we insist, that the present Trinitarians may produce all those original Texts of Scripture, all those ancient Creeds, and all those primitive Testi­monies, which affirm the former: and we will be oblig'd to produce, in the same Manner, all those original Texts of Scripture, all those ancient Creeds, and all those primitive Testimonies which affirm the latter: And this is desir'd as to both Sides, without the Admission of any novel Distinctions, Evasions, or Inferences whatsoever: that so Christian People may have the Cause wholly before them, and may be enabled to determine sairly and impartially on which Side the superior Evidence appears to be; by which superior Evidence all certainly ought to be guided in such Matters. And the like Procedure I would recommend in all parallel Cases whatsoe­ver.

And indeed, My Lord, this seems to me to be the only honest and Christian Method of disentang­ling these and the like Points from the Sophistry of captious Arguments, Replies, and Rejoinders, with which the Writers of Controversy do on all Sides, more or less, perplex and puzzle, but not properly satisfy their Readers. And this Method, [Page 5] I confess, My Lord, I have had principally in my Eye from the very Beginning of my Concern in the present Controversy; tho' the Pamphlets written against me have sometimes turn'd me from that my main Design, and, as it were, forc'd me, in some Degree, to comply with the common Method. I now therefore, My Lord, intend to reassume what I at first propos'd to my self; and, as I have lately, which Your Lordship will see by the enclos'd, laid the State of the Old Christian Doxologies before the World, exactly as I found it in the New Testament, and in the most early Antiquity; without pretend­ing, from any Reasonings of my own, to introduce one single Form, different from what I there found upon Record; So do I here design to lay before Your Lordship and the World, with equal Fair­ness, what I meet with in the first Ages concerning this important Point of the strict Coeternity of the Son and Holy Spirit to the Father. I say, the strict Coeternity only; for as to the Preexistence of our Saviour before all Time, and all Ages, even those the Antients called Eternal Times, with St. Paul, Tit. I. 2. or before the World with all its Creatures and Ages be­gan, as our Version well renders that Passage, this is not the Question. Heb. I. 2. It being allowed on both Sides that this World, with all its Creatures and Ages whatsoever, were made, under the Father, by the Son; who must therefore, of Necessity, be before the same, without the least Consequence to be thence deduc'd that he was therefore really eternal, or truly coeternal with his Father.

N.B. I do not quote the smaller Epistles of Igna­tius, nor some pretended Passages out of Hippolytus, Dionysius Alexandrinus, &c. they being liable to too many Objections as to their Genuineness, to bear any Weight in this or any such Controversy what­soever.

I begin with those Texts of Scripture which Your Lordship's Chaplain, Mr. Seaton, has cited for the Eternity of the Son: and shall set them down both as they stand in our English Bible, and as they more authentickly appear in the Septuagint Ver­sion, [Page 6] which alone was made Use of by Christ and his Apostles. To which I shall add what other Pas­sages occur in the Bible or earliest Antiquity, that seem most to favour the same Eternity, till the very Days of Athanasius.

Prov. viii 22-25. The Lord possessed me; [created me, LXXII.] the Beginning of his Ways, before his Works of Old. I was set up from everlasting; [from the Age, or, Beginning of the World. LXXII.] from the Beginning, or ever the Earth was: When there were no Depths I was brought forth; when there were no Foun­tains abounding with Water: Before the Moun­tains were settled, before the Hills was I brought forth.

See Ps. XC. 1, 2. of the God of Israel. Lord, thou hast been our Dwelling-place in Generation and Ge­neration. Before the Mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the Earth and the World, even from everlasting to everlasting, [from the Age to the Age; or from the Beginning of the World to the End of the World, LXXII.] thou art God.

Is. ix. 6. The everlasting Father: [the Father of the fu­ture Age. LXXII.]

See Dan. vii. 9. of the God of Israel: The Anci­ent of Days.

Mic. V. 2 His Goings-forth have been from of Old, from the Days of Eternity, [from the Days of the Age, or of the Beginning of the World. LXXII.]

Joh. I. 12. In the Beginning was the Word—The same was in the Beginning with God.

XVII. 5. And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self, with the Glory which I had with thee be­fore the World was.

Col. I. 15, 17. He is before all Things.

II. 9. In him dwelleth all the Fulness of the Godhead, [or divine Power, Rom. I. 20.] bodily.

Heb. I. 3. The Brightness of his Father's Glory; and the express Image of his Person.

XIII. 8. Jesus Christ, the same Yesterday, and to Day, and for ever.

Apoc. I. 17. I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and behold I am alive for ever­more.

[Page 7] Apoc. I. 11. I am Alpha and Omega; the first and the last.

II. 8.11. These Things saith the first and the last; which was dead and is alive.

[See Isaiah xliv. 6. Of the God of Israel: Thus saith the Lord, the King of Israel; and his Re­deemer, the Lord of Hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no God. xlviii. 12. Hearken unto me, O Jacob, and Israel, my called, I am He. I am the first, I also am the last. Apoc. xi. 17. We give Thanks to thee, O Lord God Almighty, which was, and which is, and which is to come. And so Chap. i. 4.8.]

Heb. VI. 3. Without Father, without Mother, without Ge­nealogy, having neither Beginning of Days, nor End of Life; but being made like unto the Son of God, abideth a Priest continually.

1 John i. 1.2. That which was from the Beginning:—That eternal Life which was with the Father.

II. 13. I write unto you Fathers, because ye have known him that is from the Beginning.—

v. 14. I wrote unto you Fathers, because you have known him that is from the Beginning.

Martyr. Polycarp. §. 14. With the [...] eternal and heavenly Jesus Christ. [In Eusebius's Copy, confirm'd by the old Latin Version, and the parallel Language of Poly­carp elsewhere, by the eternal High Priest, Jesus Christ.]

Recogn. i. §. 24. There ever was, and is, and will be that Be­ing, from which the first begotten Will derives its Eternity.

§. 43. Who is the eternal Christ.

Just. Dial. p. 323. Christ is the eternal Priest of God. [ [...].]

Iren. ii. 18. These Hereticks transfer the Manner of Emis­sion of the Word of a Man, which he speaks, un­to the eternal Word of God.

43. Thou art not unmade, O Man; nor didst thou always co-exist with God, as did his own [or his nearest] Word.

55. The Son, who ever co-existed with the Father, did always, in old Time, and from the Beginning, reveal his Father.

iii. 20. Being ever with the Father.

[Page 8] Iren. iv. 37. His Word and his Wisdom are ever with him, his Son, and his Spirit.—That the Word, that is the Son, was always with the Father we have largely demonstrated.

Clem. Alex. Protrept. p. 74, 75. If thou wilt, be thou initiated: And thou shalt be of a Chorus with the Angels, about the un­begotten, and unperishable, and the only true God. While God the Word joins with us in our Hymns, [or, He joining with us in our Hymns, who is God the Word.] He is [...] eternal: The One Jesus, the great High Priest of that One God, who is his Father, prays for Men, and ex­horts them.

Hymn. ad Calcem. P [...]d. iii. He is the perpetual Word, immense [...] eternal Light.

Council of Antioch. Bibl. P. P. Tom. ii. We believe the Son, who was ever with the Father, did fulfil his Father's Will, for the Cre­ation of the Universe.

The singular, and [...] eternal Generation of the only begotten Son.

Eusebius Eccles. Theolog. i. 12. ii. 12. 'Tis manifest that the only begotten Son was with God his Father; being present and together with him always, and at all Times.

Demonst. Evang. iv. 1. He is elder than all Time, and all Ages.

C. 3. That the Son was begotten, not as having for certain Times not been, and then being made; but being before all Ages, and still before them; and being always present, as a Son with his Fa­ther: But not being unbegotten, but begotten of the unbegotten Father: Being the only begotten, the Word, and God of God.

V. 1. The Son subsisted from endless Ages, or rather before all Ages; being with, being always with his Father, as light with the luminous Body.

De laud. Constan­tin. C. 1. The Prae-existing only begotten Word, who is over all, and before all, and after all, the great High Priest of the Great God, the ancientest Be­ing of all Time, and of all Ages.

C. 2. The only begotten Word of God, who reigneth with his Father, from beginningless Ages, [from before the Beginning of the World] to endless and never ceasing Ages.

[Page 9] In Ps. ii. 7. This Day have I begotten thee.] This is spo­ken of his temporary Generation; for as to his beginningless Generation, [his Generation before the Beginning of the World;] the same David says, I have begotten thee from the Womb, before the Morning Star.

Presbyters and Dea­cons of A­lexandria. Vid. infra. God begat his Son before eternal Times.

[N.B. These Passages of Eusebius, and of the Alexandrian Presbyters and Deacons, seem, in our modern Language, to bid the fairest for a real E­ternity of the Son, of any in all Christian Anti­quity: Yet is it very plain and evident, from ma­ny other Passages, that all of them were utterly against this proper Co-eternity of the Son with the Father; and even Eusebius only for the Metaphy­sick or potential Eternity before the Son's Gene­ration, as we shall see hereafter.]

The Texts and Testimonies for the original voluntary Generation and Creation of the Son of God before the World began; and against his Co-eternity with the Fa­ther: Taken chiefly out of my Primitive Christianity Reviv'd. Vol. iv. Artic. vi.

Solomon.] Prov. viii. 22. &c. THE Lord created me, the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works: Before the World he founded me: In the Beginning, before he made the Earth, before the Fountains of Waters came, before the Mountains were fastened: He begat me before all the Hills.

Son of Si­rach.] Eccl. i. 4. Wisdom hath been created before all Things; and the Understanding of Prudence from the Be­ginning of the World.—The Lord created her, &c.

v. 9. Then the Creator of all Things gave me a Com­mandment; and he that created me caused my [Page 10] Tabernacle to rest.—He created me before the World began, from the Beginning; and I shall not fail to the End of the World.

Philo] De temulent. p. 244. God created me the first of his Works; and be­fore the World began did he found me. [See what this Philo says of the first begotten Word of God more largely at the End of my Comment on the three Epistles of St. John.]

Paul.] Col. i. 15. Who is the Image of the invisible God: The first born of the whole Creation. [i. e. the first Being which God created: As all the Parallels shew. Matth. i. 25. Luc. ii. 7. Rom. viii. 29. Col. i. 18. Heb. i. 6. xi. 28. xii. 23. Apoc. i. 5.]

Heb. iii. 2. Christ was faithful to him that made him.

John] Apoc. iii. 14. These Things saith the Amen; the faithful and true Witness; the Beginning of the Creation of God. [With a plain Allusion to Prov. viii. 22. The Lord created me the Beginning of his Ways. And note that [...], the Beginning, with a geni­tive Case, as here, is never used actively in the whole new Testament. See all the Places, Matth. xxiv. 8, 21. Mar. i. 1. x. 6. xiii. 8, 19, John ii. 11. Philip iv. 15. Heb. iii. 14. v. 12. vi. 1. vii. 3. 1 Pet. iii. 4.]

Peter] Praedicat. Petri. ap. Clem. Alex. Strom. VI. p. 635. p. 644. Peter, in his Preaching, says, Know ye, there­fore, that there is one God, who made the Be­ginning of all Things; and has the Power over their End.—Perpetual, incorruptible, unmade; who made all Things by the Word of his Power, in the mystical Sense, i. e. of his Son. There is one Unbegotten Being, the Almighty God; and one Being begotten before the rest also; by whom all Things were made, and without whom was no­thing at all made. For there is, in reality, but One God, who made the Beginning, [or Prin­ciple] of all Things, intimating his first-born Son. Peter writes like one that perfectly well under­ctood that Expression, In the Beginning [or by the Principle] God made the Heaven and the Earth. Now this Person is called Wisdom by all the Prophets.

[Page 11] Hermas] Simil. V. §. 6. To whom the Messenger reply'd, Hearken: That Holy Spirit which was first of all created did God place in a Body, wherein it should inhabit; that is, in a chosen Body, which pleased him.

ix. 12. The Son of God is move ancient than any Crea­ture: Insomuch that he was in Counsel with his Father at the Creation of the Creatures.

Apostles] Constitut. v. 20. Concerning him also spake Solomon, as in his Per­son, The Lord created me the Beginning of his Ways for his Works: Before the World he founded me; in the Beginning, before he made the Earth; be­fore the Fountains of Waters came; before the Mountains were fastened: He begat me before all the Hills.

vi. 10. Some of the Hereticks say that there are three Gods, without Beginning; some, that there are two unbegotten Gods.

11. We [the Apostles] who are the Children of God, and the Sons of Peace, do preach the holy and right Word of Piety; and declare one on­ly God, the Lord of the Law and of the Prophets, the Maker of the World, the Father of Christ: Not a Being that caused himself, or begat him­self, as the Hereticks suppose; but [...] eternal, and without Original, and inhabiting Light inaccessible: Not two, or three, or mani­fold, but [...] eternally one only, [or, the only eternal Being.]—The God and Father of the only Begotten, and of the first-born of the whole Creation. One God, the Father of one Son, not of many.

vii. 36. That we might come into the Remembrance of that Wisdom which was created by thee: How he submitted to be made a Woman upon our Ac­count, &c.

41. His only begotten Son, the first-born of the whole Creation; who, before the Ages, was be­gotten by the good Pleasure of the Father.

viii. 12. Thou didst beget him before all Ages by thy Will, thy Power, and thy Goodness, without any Instrument: The only begotten Son; God the [Page 12] Word; the living Wisdom; the first-born of the whole Creation.

viii. 12. He that was begotten before Time, was born in Time. Vide Ignat. ad Polycarp. §. 3.

41. Let us dedicate our selves, and one another, [...], to the eternal God, through that Word which was in the Beginning.

Can. 49. If any Bishop or Presbyter baptizes into three Beings, without Beginning,—let him be de­priv'd.

Ignatius] ad Magnes. §. 8. Who is his Word, not pronounced but substan­tial; for he is not the Voice of articulate Speech, but a Substance begotten by the divine Power.

Ad Anti­och. §. 14. He that is alone Unbegotten preserve you stable in the Spirit, and in the Flesh; through him who was begotten before the Ages.

Ad Tars. §. 6. And elsewhere [he speaks by Solomon,] the Lord created me the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works; before the World did he found me, and before all the Mountains did he beget me.

Author of the Recog­nitions of Clement] iii. §. 8. He therefore who had no Beginning, that God I have been speaking of, begat the first-born of the whole Creation.—God therefore begat that which we have learn'd to call the Workmanship of God; which we may therefore call a Being be­gotten, and a Being made, or by the parallel Names.—And therefore is it that he is truly and agreeably called a Being begotten, and a Being made, and a Being created; because his Substance is not any thing Unbegotten.

§. 10. God therefore begat him, without any Change in himself, his Will going before.

§. 11. Whereas therefore there is but one Unbegotten Being, and one Begotten; the Holy Spirit cannot he called the Son of God, nor his first-born: For he was made by a Being which was himself made.

Justin Martyr] Apol. i. §. 28. §. 31. §. 61. §. 68. The Word, which is the first Production of God, without Mixture.

§. 31. Being his Word, and First-born, and Power.

§. 61. We have been taught that [...]ist is the first-born of God; as we have declared already.

68. He is the first-born to the Unbegotten God.

[Page 13] §. 75. From God the Creator, and his first-begotten Christ.

Apol. ii. §. 6. But his Son, who alone is properly called his Son, the Word, who was with him, and was be­gotten by him before the Creatures.

Dialog. cum Tryp. p. 264. This Christ, the Son of God, who was before the Morning Star, and the Moon.

p. 267. That this Christ prae-existed, being God before the World began.

p. 276. Who was God before the World was made.

p. 284, 285. In the Beginning, before all Creatures, God be­gat of himself a certain rational Power, which is called, by the Holy Spirit, the Glory of the Lord; sometimes the Son, sometimes Wisdom, some­times an Angel, sometimes God, sometimes the Lord, and the Word; sometimes he calls himself the General of the Host, when he appear'd in the Form of a Man to Joshua the Son of Nun. And he is call'd by all these Names, because of his mi­nistring to his Father's Will; and because he was begotten voluntarily of the Father.—But the Production, which really proceeded from the Fa­ther before all Creatures, was with the Father, and to him did the Father speak, as the Word declares by Solomon: For in the Beginning, before all Creatures, this very Off-spring was produc'd by God; which, by Solomon, is stiled Wisdom: [alluding to Prov. viii. 22, &c. where 'tis said, God created Wisdom, the Beginning [...] his Ways, for his Works.]

p. 287. Then said Trypho, Let him be own'd, by you of the Gentiles, as Lord, and Christ, and God, as the Scriptures declare; by you, I say, who have all obtain'd the Name of Christians from him. But for us, who are the Worshippers of that God who made him, we stand in no need of such a Confession, nor of such a Worship.

p. 288. And that he was before the Sun.

p. 310. The first-born of all the Creatures.

p. 323. He is one that existed before all Things.

p. 326. Knowing that he is the first-born of God, and before all Creatures.

[Page 14] p. 327. When we say he is his Son, we understand that he really existed, and proceeded from the Father before all Creatures, by his Power and his Will.

p. 354. He is stiled God, because he is the first-born Son of all creatures.

p. 358. I said that this Power was begotten of the Fa­ther, by his Power and his Will.

p. 359. The Word declar'd, that this Production was begotten by the Father absolutely before all Crea­tures.

p. 367. Melito] Christ is the first-born of the whole Creation.

He was a true God, [or truly God,] before the World began. [Apud Cave. Histor. Literar. Part II. p. 33.

N.B. This Melito wrote a Book, now lost, con­cerning the Creation and Generation of Christ.

Tatian] §. 7. God was in the Beginning. But we have re­ceiv'd this Notion, that this Beginning was the Power of the Word. For the Lord of the Uni­verse, being he in from all Things subsist, was alone; if we regard the Creation which was not yet made: But if we regard this, that all the Power of visible and invisible Beings subsisted in him, all Things were with him; for with him, in metaphysick Existence, the Word himself, which was in him, subsisted. Now by his mere Will the Word came forth. But the Word pro­ceeding from him, who did not thereby become empty, became the first-born Work of the Father. Him we know to be the Beginning of the World.

§. 10. The heavenly Word was made a Spirit by the Father, and the Word from his rational Power, according to the Image of the Father that begat him.

Theophi­lus of An­tioch] Ad Autolyc. ii. p. 88. God therefore having his Word inserted in his own Bowels, begat him, with his Wisdom, by Emission from him, before the Creation of the Universe.

p. 100. When it pleased God to make whatsoever he had determin'd, then he begat his Word, by send­ing him forth, the first-born of the whole Crea­tion, &c.

[Page 15] Athenago­ras.] Legat. §. 38, 39, 40. If you have a Mind, out of your Depth of Un­derstanding, to consider what this Son means, I will briefly inform you. He is the first Production of the Father: Not as a Being made: [out of no­thing.] (For God, who from the Beginning was an eternal Mind, had in himself his Word or Reason, being eternally rational.) But in such Manner as when all material Beings, of unform'd Matter, or Earth, as their Substratum, had lighter or heavier Parts mix'd together, he proceeded out to them, that they might exist both in Idea and Reality. The prophetick Spirit also agrees to this account; for, says he, the Lord created me the Be­ginning of his Ways, for his Works.

Irenaeus] v. 36. That his Production, his first-begotten Word, may descend upon his Workmanship.

Tertull.] Adv. Prax. §. 5. They say, indeed, that Genesis, in the Hebrew, begins thus, In the Beginning God made himself a Son. But suppose that be not certain; yet other Arguments there are which support my Opinion, taken from the Oeconomy of God, in which he was before the Constitution of the World, until the Generation of his Son. For before all Things God was alone, &c.

§. 6. Hearken therefore to Wisdom, as to a second Person created. First, we have this, The Lord created me the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works; before he made the Earth, before the Mountains were fastened, nay, he begat me before all the Hills.

§. 7. This is the compleat Nativity of the Word, in his Procession from the Father; at first created by him, so far as thought, under the Name of Wisdom: The Lord created me, the Beginning of his Ways.

Adv. Her­mog. §. 3. Because God is both a Father and a Judge, yet was he not therefore always a Father and a Judge, because he was always God. For he could not be a Father, before he had a Son; nor a Judge, be­fore there was any Sin. Now there was a Time when there was no Sin, and he had no Son. The [Page 16] former made him a Judge, and the latter a Fa­ther.

Adv. Her­mog. §. 4. What other Characteristick is there of God, than Eternity? What other Meaning is there of Eterni­ty, than to have always been heretofore, and to continue always in Being hereafter, by that great Privilege of no Beginning and no End? If this be a Property of God, it must be peculiar to God alone, whose Property it is. For altho' there be that are call'd Gods, whether in Heaven or in Earth; so far as the Name extends; yet there is but One God the Father, of whom are all Things, &c.

§. 18. To conclude, Assoon as he perceiv'd Wisdom was necessary for the making of the World, he pre­sently creates her, and begets her in himself. The Lord says, Wisdom created me, the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works; before the World he founded me; before he made the Earth, before the Mountains were fasten'd: He begat me before all the Hills.

Clemens Alexan.] ad Gent. p. 52. Why must I be oblig'd to declare to you the My­steries of Wisdom, and the Words of that wise young Man among the Hebrews. The Lord created me the Beginning of his Ways for his Works.

Strom. V. p. 591. They did not perceive that these Things were spoken of the first created Wisdom of God.

VII. p. 700 Among the Things we know by the Mind is what is ancienter in its Generation, before Time, and before the Beginning: the Beginning and First-fruits of all Beings, the Son: from whom we are to learn the supreme Cause, the Father of the Universe, the most ancient and most beneficent of all Beings, &c.

Ibid. p. 703. The Son cannot be ever obstructed, as being Lord of all: Especially while he ministers to the Will of his Good and Almighty Father. Nor can any En­vy affect the Lord, who was, [or was made,] before the Beginning of the World.

Origen.] cont. Cels. p. 238. They are illuminated by that Wisdom which is the Efflux, or Splendor, of the eternal Light.

[Page 17] Phot. Bib­liothec. Cod. 10. Origen] cont. Cels. V. p. 257. Clement also in his Hypotyposeis depresses the Son into the Rank of a Creature, as Photius witnesses.

The Son of God, the First-born of the whole Cre­ation, altho' he seems to have been incarnate but very lately, yet is he not therefore a late Being: for the sacred Oracles own him to be the ancientest of all Creatures.

Comment. in Psal. I. Tom. I. p. 38. Pray to the Father, the God of the Universe, through our Saviour as High Priest, who is the made God.

In Psal. I. Edit. Huet. p. 31. Thou art my Son, this Day have I begotten thee. This is said to the Son by God; with whom it is always to Day; for there is no Evening with God. I do also suppose that neither is there any Morning with him: but that a Time coextended with his unmade and eternal Life, is, if I may so say, that Day, or to Day with him, in which the Son was made, the Beginning of his Origin being thus not found, as neither of this Day.

Peri Arch. V. apud Origenian 58. He is the First-born of the whole Creation, a Crea­ture, Wisdom: for Wisdom herself says, God cre­ated me, the Beginning of his own Ways, for his Works.

Ibid. The Son and Holy Ghost are Creatures.

Cod. p. 42. Photius assures us, that Origen's Opinion was, that the Son was made by the Father, and the Spi­rit by the Son.

Haeres. 64. § 4, 5, 8. Epiphanius says of Origen, that he supposes the Son deriv'd from the Substance of the Father, but to have been created by him: And again, That it was most plainly his Doctrine, that the Son of God is a Creature; and that from this bold Attempt a­bout God it is to be supposed it was, that he de­clared the Holy Spirit to be created also: And a­gain, That when Origen says the Son is a made God, he plainly determines that he is but a Created Be­ing.

Gregory of Neocaes.] Bas. Ep. 64 Basil informs us, that we shall indeed find in Gregory of Naeocaesarea many Expressions which did then afford the greatest Strength to the Hereticks; such as the Word Creature, and that of a Being, made by God, and the like.

[Page 18] Novatian] de Trin. C. 31. Before the Son there was nothing but the Father.—God the Father was therefore the Ordainer of all Things, and their Creator. He alone is with­out original, invisible, immense, immortal, eter­nal, the One God; to whose Greatness, or Maje­sty, or Power, nothing can, I don't say be preferr'd, but so much as compar'd. Of whom, when it pleas'd the Father, the Word, which is his Son, was begotten.—Since therefore he was begotten by the Father, he is always in the Father: I say always, in such a Sense only, which supposes him not unbe­gotten but begotten. But I reckon he who was before all Time, is said to have been always in the Father; least the Father should not be always a Father. For the Father is prior to him; since it must needs be, that as he is his Father, he must be prior to him; because it must needs be, that he who has no Ori­gin must be before him who has one.—He proceed­ed from the Father when the Father pleased.—He is certainly before all Things, but after his Father: mak­ing a second Person after his Father, as being his Son.

Cyprian.] Testimon. ad Quirin. I. 1. In the Proverbs of Solomon, The Lord created me the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works; be­fore the World he founded me; in the Beginning, before he made the Earth, and before he appointed the Deeps; before the Mountains were plac'd; the Lord begat me before all the Hills.—Paul also says to the Collossians, Who is the Image of the invisible God; the First-born of the whole Creation.

Dionysius Alexand.] Ep. 41. ad Max. Basil owns that he had seen a great Number of the Books of Dionysius of Alexandria, and adds,—We don't admire every thing he says; nay, some things we intirely disapprove. For this very Man is the first, as far as we have discover'd, who laid the Seeds of this present noted Impiety of the Anomaeans.—He does not only suppose a Difference as to their Sub­sistences, but a Diversity of Substance, an Inferiori­ty of Power, and a Difference of Glory.

Athanas. de Senten. Dionysii Tom. 1 § 4 Athanasius also speaks of the same Person thus: The Arians affirm, that the Blessed Dionysius said the Son of God was a Creature, and a Being made. Yes; he did write so: We ourselves also do own that there is such an Epistle of his.

[Page 19] Theogno­stus.] Phot. Cod. 106. Photius says Theognostus affirm'd that the Father was to have a Son; but that when he spake of that Son, he declar'd that he was a Creature.

Methodi­us.] de Creat. p. 345. The Lord created me, the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works: Before the World he found­ed me.—Wherefore He is the the Origin of other Beings, after the Father; who is his own unorigi­nated Origin.

Lactanti­us.] II §. 8. God,—before he set about the making this World,—produc'd a Spirit like unto himself, who should be endued with the Powers of God the Fa­ther. Now after what Manner he did this, we will endeavour to shew in the fourth Book.

IV: §. 6. God therefore, the Contriver and Framer of the World, as we observ'd in the second Book, before he set about this great Work of making the World, begat an holy and incorruptible Spirit, which he called his Son.—He, I mean, is the Son of God, who spake by Solomon, the wisest of Kings, and one full of the Divine Spirit, as follows: God created me in the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works; before the World he founded me; in the Beginning, before he made the Earth, before he appointed the Deeps, before the Fountains of Water came: The Lord begat me before all the Hills.

Eusebius Caesar] ap. Cave Hist. Literar. P. II. p. 64, 65. Eusebius had a Chapter concerning God the Word, as concerning that Wisdom which does substantial­ly subsist, and was created by God before the World began, &c.

Praep. Ev. XI. 14. v. Hist. Eccl. I. 2. Solomon, says he elsewhere, gives us the same Sense in other Language; and using the Name of Wisdom instead of the Word, makes this Declara­tion, as in her Person—Then he subjoins after­wards, The Lord created me, the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works; before the World he found­ed me; in the Beginning, before he made the Earth, before the Mountains were fasten'd: He begat me before all the Hills.

Demonst. Evang. IV. 3. The Light does not shine forth by the Will of the luminous Body, but by a necessary Property of Nature. But the Son, by the Intention and Will [Page 20] of the Father, receiv'd his Subsistence, so as to be the Image of the Father. For by his Will did God become the Father of his Son, and caused to subsist a second Light, in all Things like unto himself—Receiving before all Ages a real Subsistence, by the inexpressible and inconceivable Will and Power of the Father. See Dr. Clarke's Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity, Edit. 2. p. 252, 253, 254.

Hist. Eccl. V. 1. He is named the First-born of the whole Creati­on; according to that Text, The Lord created me, the Beginning of his Ways; for his Works.

Ibid. The Divine Scripture sometimes calls the Son the First-born of the whole Creation; as in his own Person, in that Text; The Lord created me, the Beginning of his Ways.

Contra Marcell. II. 7. The same Eusebius, who by Direction from the Council of Constantinople wrote against Athanasius's great Friend, the Heretick Marcellus, charges his affirming the Son to be [...], unbegotten, as a grand Branch of his Heresy; and to be [...], eter­nal, as another Branch of the same Heresy, and di­rectly implying the same with unbegotten.

Ibid. The same Eusebius says: But perhaps thou art afraid that if thou allowest the Father and Son to be two Substances, thou shouldst introduce two Principles, and shouldst deny the Divine Mo­narchy. Learn therefore, that since there is but one God, without any Origin, and without Ge­neration; and that the Son is begotten of him; there is but one Principle, and one Monarchy, and one Kingdom: Since the Son himself reckons the Father to be his Origin. For God is the Head of Christ, as the Apostle says.

Demonst. Evang. IV 3. The Father existed before the Son, and had a Subsistence before his Generation; as being alone unbegotten.

Cap. 15. God the Word was alone begotten of him, by a Communication from him that begat him; who was the unbegotten, [...] first, and the greater Be­ing; and he was declar'd God of God, and cal­led the Christ and the Anointed.

[Page 21] C. 15. Therefore, O God, He has anointed thee, who is the supreme, and greater Being, and also thy God; so that he who anointed is a great deal Prior to him that was anointed; being the God of the Universe, and especially of him who was anoint­ed. See Maufaucon Praeliminar. in Psalm. p. 19.

V. 1. The Son had not a Co-existence with the Fa­ther, without Beginning; the one being unbegot­ten, the other begotten: And the one being the Father, the other the Son. And every Body will confess that a Father does pre-exist, and has an earlier Subsistence than a Son.

Vid. Mau­faucon. Praelimin. Euseb. in Psal. p. 27. The Son is the perfect Creature of him that is perfect, the wise Building of him that is wise.

He is a Being made.

Ap. Epi­phan. Hae­res. 69. Arius, in his private Letter to his great Patron Eusebius of Nicomedia, before the Council of Nice, affirms, that this Eusebius of Caesarea, and Theodosi­us, and Paulinus, and Athanasius, and Gregorius, and Aetius, and all the Eastern Bishops, say, that God existed before his Son; without any Begin­ning: Excepting Philogonius, and Hellanicus, and Macarius, who were no better than uncatechiz'd Hereticks.

Athanas.] Orat. II. contr. A­rian. Let them learn to read, after a due Manner also, what is said in the Proverbs, which it self has a right Meaning: For 'tis written, The Lord created me, the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works.

N.B. There is one Record, ancienter than the Council of Nice, so very remarkable in this Case, that I cannot forbear to set it down intirely: 'Tis a publick Letter from the Presbyters and Deacons of Alexandria, sent on the Behalf of the Arians to their Patriarch Alexander, who afterward con­demn'd them, in these Words;

The Presbyters and Deacons to the Blessed Fa­ther, our Bishop Alexander, send greeting in the Lord.

Apud A­thanas. De Synod. A­rim & Se­leuc. Op. Vol. I. p. 885, 886. & Epiphan. Haeres. LXIX. §. 7. p. 732, 733. Our Faith, which we have receiv'd from our Fore-fathers, and which, Blessed Father, we have [Page 22] learn'd from you also, is this. We own but One God, who is alone Unbegotten, who is alone E­ternal, who is alone without Beginning, who is alone the true God, who alone has Immortality, who alone is Wise, who alone is Good, who alone is the Potentate, who is the Judge, the Orderer and Disposer of all Things: Immutable and Unal­terable, Righteous and Good, the God of the Law and the Prophets, and of the new Covenant; who begat his only begotten Son before the World be­gan: By whom he made the Ages and the Uni­verse. Begat him, we mean, not in Appearance only, but Reality; giving him his Subsistence by his own Will; the Immutable, and Unalterable, and Perfect Creature of God, but not as one of the ordinary Creatures: A Being begotten by him, but not as one of the ordinary Beings which were begotten. Not that this Being begotten was an Emanation, as was the Doctrine of Valentinus; nor, as Manichaeus suppos'd, is the Being begotten a Consubstantial Part of the Father: Nor, as Sabel­lius, who divided the Unity, and call'd him both Son and Father: Nor, as Hieraeas, Light from a Light, or as one Lamp divided into two: Nor, as one that before was, yet afterward was begotten, or created into a Son. As even you your self, Blessed Father, in the midst of the Church, and in the Assembly of the Clergy, have frequently re­jected those who introduc'd these Opinions. But, as we say, that he was Created by the Will of God before Time, and before the World began; and that he receiv'd his Life, and his Being, and all his Glory from the Father. For the Father, when he made him Heir of all Things, did not deprive himself of any Thing which he has in himself, without being begotten. For He is the Fountain of all Things. Wherefore there are three Substan­ces, and God himself, who is the Cause of all Things, is alone without Beginning. But the Son being begotten by the Father before Time, and created and founded before the World began, was not before he was begotten; but he alone, as [Page 23] begotten before Time by the Father, did really subsist; for he is not eternal, or co-eternal, or unbegotten as the Father is; nor has he his Ex­istence together with the Father, as some say; who after a sort introduce two unbegotten Principles; but God is so before all Things as the only Being, and the Beginning of all Things. Wherefore he is before his Son, as we have learn'd from you, when you have preach'd in the midst of the Church. In as much, therefore, as he has his Being, and all his Glory, and his Life from God; and all Things are deliver'd to him, thence is God his Origin and Governor; for he governs him as his God, and as being Prior to him. But if that Expression, From him; and that, From the Womb; and that, I came out from the Father, and come; are understood as implying his being a con­substantial Part of him, as an Emanation; the Fa­ther is a compound Being, capable of Division, and Mutable; and, indeed, according to them, a Body: And so, as far as their Notions extend, the Incorporeal God is liable to Corporeal Af­fections.

Hist. Eccl. I. 15. Sozomen also relates, that when this Dispute was started at Alexandria, this Alexander knew not, at first, which Side to take; and that it was a good while before he yielded to those that said our Sa­viour was [...], Consubstantial and Co-eternal with the Father.

Theodor. Hist. Eccl. I. 12. The Council of Nice it self were so far from denying the Creation of the Son, that the Words of St. Paul, who stiles him the First-born of the whole Creation, were, by Eusebius, at first, insert­ed into that Creed which he brought into the Council; and which he informs us the Emperor and the whole Council agreed to be right; tho' that Clause was afterwards omitted, as not sufficiently favourable to the Designs against the Arians at that Time. They were also so far from affirming the real Co-eternity, or proper eternal Generation of the Son, that they only asserted the metaphysick Existence of the Word, before his Generation; as [Page 24] Eusebius shews, in the only Original Account we have of that Matter, in these Words: And far­ther, says Eusebius there, The Anathema denounc'd a­gainst such as say, He was not before he was begotten, did not appear unreasonable; since tis confess'd by all that he was the Son of God, even before his Generation, according to the Flesh. Nay, besides this, our Emperor, beloved of God, confirm'd by Reason, that even as to his Divine Generation he was before all Ages; seeing that before he was actually begotten, he was potentially in his Father, when not yet begotten. The Father being always a Father; as he was always a King, and a Sa­viour, and every Thing potentially; being always thus invariably and unalterably the same.

These, my Lord, are the principal original Texts and Testimonies which concern the important Sub­ject before us, till the very Days of Athanasius himself.

And now, to sum up the Evidence on both Sides, with what Clearness I can, the Evidence for the Co-eternity of the Son to the Father, which has been above alledg'd; I mean, if, as we ought to do, we take the Septuagint Version, whence Christ, and his Apostles, and the ancient Fathers, always quoted the Old Testament, to be of more Authority than our own, or any modern ones, in such Matters, comes to no more than this: Viz. That our Saviour was created or begotten by his Father in or before the Beginning of the World; before all the Ages, Heb. i. 2. or that first Constitution of Things which was made or ordain'd by him under the Father: That he was to be the Father of the future Age, or World to come, Heb. ii. 5. which we call the last Age, or Days of the Messiah: That his Origin was of Old, from the Beginning of the World: That he was in Be­ing, and was with God his Father in the very Be­ginning of Things; nay, had Glory with his Father before the World was: That he was before all Things; that he was the first, and will be the last: That he was Alpha, and will be Omega: And that some of these Expressions are the same, or very like to [Page 25] those, by which the absolute Eternity of the Fa­ther is in other Places suppos'd to be express'd; which last Observation, however, is only here taken for granted, without Proof: It no Way ap­pearing that the sacred Writers meddle, beyond our Faculties, with any such absolute Eternity, ei­ther a parte ante, or a parte post, as the School-men have since done; and yet without the Proof of that Point all this Evidence is very inconsiderable.

It must also be remembred, that the ancient Christians ever allow'd that the Expressions in the Old Testament, concerning the invisible Father, whenever there was a visible Person appear'd, were spoken by the Son, as the Image of that invisible God, or as representing and personating the Father, as his Minister and Vicegerent among Men: and that they never look'd on them as true, in the high­est Sense, of the Son himself, but of the Father only: Nor did they ever draw such Consequences from those Texts as do the Moderns.

Melchisedek is, indeed, said to have neither Be­ginning of Days, nor End of Life, when he is repre­sented as a Type of Christ's earliest Origin and latest Duration; but this certainly without the least Pretence to any proper Eternity of his at all. So that the known Books of the Old and New Testament, as understood before the Days of Atha­nasius, seem to have no proper Evidence at all for the real Eternity of the Son of God. As for Po­lycarp's and Justin's Expressions of Christ, that he is the [...], the eternal Priest, or High Priest, no wise Man will thence gather any Thing about the real Eternity of the Son, before he was an High Priest. The Author of the Recognitions also speaks of the Eternity of the Son, and calls him the eternal Christ: But then, it is well known, that he did not thereby mean his real Co-eterni­ty, a parte ante, with his Father: Nay, it has ap­pear'd already, that of all the Ancients he is the most express for his being a Creature; and he therefore hereby rather gives us a Rule how we ought to explain such Words in other ancient Au­thors, [Page 26] while they seldom or never mean, by such Expressions, more than from the Beginning of the World, or to the End of it. Irenaeus does, in­deed, say not only that Christ was God's eternal Word, but that he was unmade, or, as I suppose he means, not made out of nothing, as he supposed Men to be; that he did always co-exist with God, and was ever with him; and avoided saying that God created him, which the rest used freely to say in those A­ges: All this makes it very probable that this Fa­ther did believe the Eternity of the Son, in some Sort or other. But then, it must not be dissem­bled, that even Irenaeus, as we have seen, owns him a derived Being, produc'd by his Father be­fore all other Beings: Which seems hardly recon­cilable to an absolute Co-eternity: And that this Sort of Eternity of the Word, which we meet with in some such Philosophers of the second, third, and fourth Century, is quite another Thing from the real Co-eternity of the Son under our present Consideration: As is most obvious in the ancient Accounts of that Matter. Their Notion was plain­ly this; that all other Beings were made out of nothing; but that the Son was in a subtile man­ner in his Father, virtually, potentially, or, as his internal Word and Wisdom from all Eternity; and that a little before the Creation, and not sooner, this Word was, in an ineffable manner, begotten or created, out of his Substance, into a real subsisting Being, or Person: So that the Te­stimonies for this Sort of Eternity, which alone we find even till a good while after the Council of Nice it self, are a Demonstration that the real Co-eternity of the Son with the Father, or his pro­per eternal Generation, was then utterly unknown among Christians. Nor does even this metaphy­sick, this virtual, or potential, or internal Eter­nity of the Son ever appear in the sacred Writings; in the ancient Creeds or Liturgies; or in any of the Apostolical Fathers. Whereby 'tis plain, that it is no Part of the Sacred, the Apostolical, or the Christian Doctrine; and no more than a Conje­cture [Page 27] or Hypothesis of some ancient Christian Phi­losopers. Whether Clement of Alexandria ever be­liev'd, even in his younger Years, before he was throughly instructed in Christianity, that Christ was really eternal, it is not certain: Because the Epithet eternal in the former Passage cited from him does not always denote a real Eternity, and may belong to the Father and not to the Son; and if Clement did once call him the eternal Light in a Poem, the Latitude of such Writings, espe­cially of that romantick Piece ascrib'd to him, in­to which this Phrase is inserted, still more plain­ly forbids us to draw any such settled Conclusion from it: Especially when he elsewhere most plain­ly said, he was the first created Wisdom of God; and in another Work, directly depress'd him into the Rank of a Creature; as we have already seen. So that unless we believe such Authors had a Fancy that a common Creature, or the World it self, might be co-eternal to its Creator, we must not quote them for the Son's proper Co-eternity to his Fa­ther. And as to the seemingly most express Te­stimonies of Eusebius, who calls the Generation of the Son [...] eternal, and says the Son was always, and [...] beginningless, and at all Times, with the Father; that he was elder than all Time, and all Ages; before, and still before all Ages; that he subsisted from endless Ages, or rather before all Ages; that he was before all; was the ancientest Being of all Time and of all Ages; that he reign'd with his Fa­ther from beginningless Ages; and that of the P [...]es­byters and Deacons of Alexandria, that God begat him before eternal Times; they here, according to the ancient Stile, denote no more than that he was be­fore the World began; as we are fully assured by ma­ny other clearer and plainer Passages of the same Authors, wherein they directly and absolutely de­ny the Son's Co-eternity with the Father notwith­standing; as we shall see hereafter.

And as to some other of the Testimonies, omit­ted in this Sum of the Evidence, they are so lit­tle [Page 28] to the Purpose, that the insisting on them shews how scarce the Proofs are on that Side.

Vid. Jud. v. 6. To conclude this Head: As the Greek Language has three Ways of Speaking, which are sometimes rendred eternal; the first [...], or [...], or [...], or [...] The second, [...] And the third, [...] The first of which does seldom or never signify a proper Eternity; the second not always; and the third, and that alone, always does so; 'tis very remarkable that the Bi­ble and Apostolical Fathers never, in this Case of the Antiquity of the Son, use any but the first; none of those before the Council of Nice more than the first, and very rarely the second; while Athanasius and his Followers, and none before them, directly ventur'd on the third Way of Speak­ing, and called the Son Co-eternal. Which how it cou'd happen, if the proper Co eternity of the Son to the Father were then all along the known Do­ctrine of Christianity, I do by no Means under­stand. Briefly, in the fourth Century we find this Co-eternity plainly asserted; we find obscure In­timations about a subtile Sort of Eternity in the third and latter Part of the second; but in the former Part of the second, and the first Century we lose all certain Footsteps of any Eternity whatsoever: Which Observation renders this E­vidence for the Co-eternity, even tho' we had no opposite Evidence to weigh on the other Side, ex­ceeding weak and precarious.

But then, as to the original Evidence against this Co-eternity of the Son, and for his voluntary Genera­tion or Creation by the Power of the Father, before the World began, the Sum of it is as follows.

That the Son was not an underiv'd, unorigina­ted, independent and, in that Sense, an Eternal Be­ing, but truly derived from, and produced, or be­gotten by the Father, is the unanimous Voice of all Christian Antiquity, both in and after the Aposto­lical Age; and is not directly deny'd by any Atha­nasian at this Day. Now, how a confessedly deriv'd, produc'd, and begotten Being; an Only-begotten [Page 29] Son, should be really coeternal with his underiv'd, unbegotten, and necessarily-existing Author, Pro­ducer, and Father, I cannot possibly understand.

That the Son was also voluntarily begotten by the Power of the Father, we have the plain and nu­merous Testimonies of the Apostles themselves in their Constitutions, of Ignatius, of the Author of the Recognitions of Clement, of Justin Martyr, of Tatian, of Tertullian, of Novatian, of Lactantius, of Eusebius, and of the Presbyters and Deacons of Alex­andria; without the least Syllable, that any one Christian thought of his being deriv'd from the Fa­ther, as the Moderns pretend, by Necessity of Nature.

That he was also created by God the Father, is also most evident in all Sacred and Christian Anti­quity. This Doctrine begins from Solomon in the Old Testament, as explain'd by the Christian Re­velation; and is continued by the Son of Sirach, and Philo the Jew, to the Writers of the New Te­stament, Peter, Paul, John, Hermas; the Apostles in general, in their Constitutions; all these in the first Century: Thence it passes down to Ignatius, to the Author of the Recognitions of Clement, to Ju­stin Martyr, Melito, Tatian, and Athenagoras, in the secon'd Century: And from all these it comes down to Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, Gregory of Neocoesarea, Novatian, Cyprian, Dionysius of Alex­andria, Theognostus, and Methodius, in the 3d Cen­tury; to Lactantius and Eusebius, and to the Alexan­drian Presbyters and Deacons, nay, even to Athanasius himself in the fourth Century; and this, so far as we know, without any one Person's excepting against the Word Created, as improper, 'till Athanasius: without any one's asserting that the Son was uncreated, till he did it: and with the direct Assertion of several, that he was a Creature, a Being made by the Father; tho' vastly superior to all other Creatures or Beings made by him.

That the voluntary Generation or Creation of the Son, (for I take them to mean the same Thing) was a little before the Creation of the World also, is the only natural Import of almost all, and the direct Assertion of some of the Testimonies; with­out the Contradiction of any one Christian Writer [Page 30] also, that I know of, till the fourth Century, or the Days of Athanasius.

That the Body of the Church, even in the Be­ginning of the fourth Century, nay, even at and some Years after the Council of Nice it self, knew nothing of any real Eternity of the Son; nor de­ny'd that he was a Being begotten or created by the Will and Power of God, a little before the Begin­ning of the World, is very plain from the Testimo­nies here produc'd. So that 'tis hard to say what ori­ginal Evidence the real Trinitarians have gone up­on, when they have so long made the World believe that the Son is truly Coeternal with the Father; and this as a prime Article establish'd at the Council of Nice, nay, as a fundamental Doctrine of Christia­nity it self; since, whatever Authority there may be for the potential or metaphysick, there seems to be directly none at all for this real Coeternity, or pro­per eternal Generation, 'till a good while after the Council of Nice. Nor would the great and learned Eusebius, when he wrote by the Direction of the Council of Constantinople, and several Years after that of Nice, have ventur'd openly to charge Mar­cellus with Heresy, for saying that Christ was [...] eternal, if that his Eternity had been the known De­termination of the Council of Nice, or indeed the known Doctrine of the Church, either in that or in the foregoing Ages of the Gospel.

That this Coeternity of the Son is a very strange Doctrine to such as have the Unity of God for the Foundation of their Religion; such as all the Pa­triarchs, the Jews, and the Christians ever had, will be granted by all. That therefore there was a great Occasion for a clear and express Declaration of this Eternity of the Son, if it were true, is very evident: while yet neither the Scriptures, nor the Apostolical Constitutions, nor any ancient Creeds whatsoever, have any one such clear Declaration; nay, have many such clear Declarations concerning One only true or eternal God, Rom. I. 20 1 Tim. 1.17. One only eternal Power and Godhead, One only King of Ages, or eter­nal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, as supposes [Page 31] the contrary; especially while they add to those De­clarations, that this One God is no other than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Thus all the old Creeds or Confessions of Faith do begin with this as the first Doctrine of Christianity, I believe in One God the Father; or as the Baptismal Creed itself expresses it, Constitut. 7.41. I believe in One unbegotten Being, the only true God Almighty, the Father of Christ; while what they say of the Son has not the least In­timation of either his Coequality or Coeternity, but the contrary; which is particularly the Case of the original Creed beforemention'd, where the Ar­ticle concerning the Son begins thus: I believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, the First-born of the whole Creation; who, before the Ages, was begotten by the good Pleasure of the Father; which seems to me an authentick, a sacred, and an undeni­able Testimony against any real Coeternity of the Son to the Father.

Nor indeed, My Lord, are the Expressions all along used in the foregoing Collection of Texts and Testimonies capable of any fair Sense, con­sistent with this Coeternity, since many of them directly confute the same. Thus the Apostolical Constitutions affirm, That God the Father is eter­nally One only; or, The Only Eternal Being: That those are Hereticks who say [as do the Trinitarians in Effect] that God is three, or manifold; or that there are three Gods, coeternal with one another. The Apostles Paul and John, by calling Christ the First-born of the whole Creation, and the Beginning of the Creation of God, do in the most plain, usual, and ob­vious Sense of the Words, and as they were under­stood in the first Ages; [especially, if we consider the Allusion these Passages bear to the Text in the Proverbs, as then understood by all, The Lord crea­ted me, the Beginning of his Ways] directly affirm that Christ was the first Being God created. The Author to the Hebrews directly affirms, that God made Christ; which in the fourth Century was reckon'd so hete­rodox, that this Epistle was in some Places seldom read in publick, and that partly out of the Dread of such an Expression; as Philastrius assures us.De Haeret. C. 41.

[Page 32]St. Peter is also introduc'd in that very ancient Book called The Preaching of Peter, as declaring that God made his first-born Son. St. Hermas directly asserts, that the Holy Spirit, which was placed in a Body, or the Word of God incarnate, was created the first of all Beings. The Apostolical Constituti­ons enjoin us to dedicate our selves to the eternal God, not through his coeternal Word, as the Athanasi­ans would certainly have said; but through that Word which was in the Beginning; as the greatest An­tiquity of the Son then known in the Church. Ig­natius, and the Author of the Recognitions of Cle­ment, assure us, that the very Substance of our Savi­our was not the unbegotten Substance of the Father, but was it self begotten by the Divine Power. The Author of the Recognitions affirms, that Christ was himself a made Being; and that the Will of God preceded his Generation. Justin Martyr, who al­ways indeed avoided those Expressions himself, of a Creature and a made Being, did not yet in the least find Fault with Trypho the Jew, when he declar'd that he understood that both he, and the Scriptures quoted by him, meant that the God of the Jews made our Lord and God Christ Jesus. Nor does this Justin, among his numerous Expressions con­cerning the Son's praeexisting State, of which he is so very full, ever venture to say any thing that looks like his real Coeternity with the Father. Ter­tullian, who yet favour'd the Son's metapyhysick Eternity as much as any, directly affirms there was a Time when God was not a Father, and had not a Son. Clement of Alexandria, whatever he had said in his younger Years, did at last own that Christ was the first created Wisdom of God; and was to be reckon'd as a Creature. Origen did also plainly and clearly own, that he was one of the Creatures of God, tho' the ancientest of 'em all; even so ancient, that he cared not to assign the Date of his first Generation or Creation; and the Reason seems to have been, that he had a Fancy that the World it self, though created by God, might possibly be coeternal with its Creator. Gregory of Naeocaesarea did also directly [Page 33] profess that Christ was a Creature, or a Being made by God. Novatian also, or the acute but unknown Author of the Book concerning the Trinity, affirms that God the Father is the only eternal God, to whom no other Being can be so much as compar'd; that the Son was then begotten when it pleased the Father; who, and who alone, was prior to him; and that as a necessary Consequence from his being his Fa­ther. Dionysius of Alexandria directly affirms Christ to have been a Creature; and supposes not only a Dif­ference of the Subsistences of the Father and Son, but a Diversity of Substance, an Inferiority of Power, and a Difference of Glory; so that he, as well as many others, seems not to have had so much as a Notion of a metaphysick Eternity. Theognostus also declar'd, that the Son was a Creature. Lactan­tius is express for the Generation or Creation of the Son, a little before the World was made.

The great Eusebius, whom the Athanasians used sometimes to hale over to their Party, as if he be­liev'd the Coeternity of the Son, is so fully understood, since the later Publication of some of his Works long lost, that he is now generally allowed, as he was in his own Age, to be clearly against it. Nor is there Room for any Dispute, since he directly says, the Father was prior, nay, a great deal prior to the Son; and charg'd Marcellus, as introducing an Heretical Notion, when he asserted that the Son was [...], Eternal, which Assertion he directly took to be the same as Unbegotten; of all which O­pinions of Eusebius the very learned Monfaucon has given so full an Account, in his Preliminaries to Eusebius's Psalms, that I reckon none of the truly Learned will any more pretend he was an Athanasi­an. Nor will any one doubt of the Opinion of many of the Bishops in the East and in Egypt; hardly indeed of Alexander of Alexandria, and of the Council of Nice's own Opinion against the pro­per Coeternity, Collection of ancient Monuments by me. who carefully peruses the original Records here and elsewhere publish'd relating to that Age; which yet was generally dispos'd to ad­vance [Page 34] the Dignity and Antiquity of the Son as much as possible. I now proceed to the other Point, the Coeternity of the Holy Spirit.

The Texts and Testimonies which prove that the Holy Spirit was created or made, under the Father, by the Son, before the World began; and against his Coeter­nity.

Paul] CHRIST, through [...] the eternal [or Ho­ly] Spirit, [so twelve or thirteen of the Copies read of the Text] offer'd himself, without Spot, to God.

Peter] 1. Pet. 1.11. The Spirit of Christ.

Apostles.] Constitut. vi. 11. One God, the Father of One Son, not of ma­ny; the Maker of One Comforter by Christ.

vii. 41. I am also to be baptized unto the Holy Ghost, that is the Comforter; who wrought in all the Saints from the Beginning of the World.

Justin] Apol. i §. 46. The Spirit spake in the Prophets, as from the Divine Word that moved them.

Ibid. §. 77. Plato read, that it was said by Moses, that the Spirit of God moved on the Face of the Waters. He assigns the third Place to the Spirit that is said to have moved on the Water, when he says, But the third Sort of Offices belong to the third Per­son.

Athenago­ras] Legat. §. 6. All Things are held together by that Spirit, which is derived from him.

Theophi­lus of An­tioch] Ad Antotyc. i. p. 72. He begat him, together with his Wisdom, and sent him out before the Beginning of the World.—This Person then, being the Spirit of God, and the Origin of Things, and Wisdom, and the Power of the Most High, descended upon the Pro­phets, and by them spake what concern'd the making of the World, and all other Things. For the Prophets were not in Being when the World [Page 35] was made; but that Wisdom which was in him, which was the Wisdom of God, and his Holy Word, which is always present with him, &c.

Irenaeus] i. 19. By his Word and Spirit he makes, and orders, and governs all Things.

iv. 17. There do minister to the Father his own Off­spring, and his own Figuration; that is, the Son, and Holy Spirit; his Word, and Wisdom.

37. There are ever present with God his Word and Wisdom, the Son and Spirit; by whom, and in whom he made all Things, freely and spontane­ously; to whom also he spake, saying, Let us make Man after our Image, and after our Like­ness.

Ibid, And that Wisdom, which is the Spirit, was with God before the intire Constitution of Things, he says by Solomon: God, by Wisdom, hath found­ed the Earth, by Prudence hath he prepared the Heaven. By his understanding the Abysses brake forth, and the Clouds dropped down Dew. And again, the Lord Created me the Beginning of his Ways, for his Works; before the World he found­ed me: In the Beginning, before he made the Earth; before the Fountains of Waters came, be­fore the Mountains were fastened: He begat me before all the Hills, &c.

v. 6. Man was made by the Hands of the Father; i. e. by the Son, and Holy Spirit, after the Likeness of God.

Author of the Recog­nations] 1. §. 69. We say the Son of God is the only begotten Be­ing, derived from no other Origin; but begotten or born of Him after an ineffable Manner. In like Manner do we speak of the Comforter.

iii. 11. Whereas then there is one Unbegotten Being, and one Begotten, the Holy Spirit cannot be cal­led a Son, nor the First-begotten: For he was made by a Being that was himself made. But he is recounted in Subordination to the Father and the Son, as the first perfect Effect of the Power of the second Being.

Tertull.] Adv. Prax. I suppose the Spirit is deriv'd from no other Origin than from the Father, by the Son.

[Page 36] Origen.] Comment. in Joan. p. 56, 57, 58. We must enquire whether it follows from this Place, which affirms, that all Things were made by the Word, that the Holy Spirit was made by him also. For I suppose he that says, The Holy Spirit is a Being made, and admits of this Assertion, that all Things were made by the Word, must of Ne­cessity grant, that the Holy Spirit was made by him; and that, by Consequence, [N.B.] the Word was more ancient than he. But he that will not admit that the Holy Spirit was made by Christ, must, by Consequence, say he is Unbe­gotten; if he, withal, judges what is said in the Gospel to be true.—We who are perswaded that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three Substances, and do believe there is nothing Un­begotten but the Father, do admit this Notion as most agreeable to Piety and Truth; that when all Things are said to be made by the Word, the Holy Spirit is the most honourable, and first in Order of those Beings which the Father made by Christ, &c.

Eusebius] De Eccles. Theolog. iii. 6. Now the Son alone is honour'd with the Pater­nal Divinity, and has the Power of making, and creating, all Things that are made, visible and invisible, and even is the Producer of the Ex­istence of the Spirit, the Comforter himself. For all Things were made by him; and without him not one Thing was made. And by him were all Things created, both those in Heaven, and those on Earth; whether they be visible, or invisible.—Now the Son is the only begotten God, who is in the Bosom of the Father. But the Spi­rit, the Comforter, is neither God, nor the Son [of God] because he did not receive his Genera­tion from the Father, in the same Manner as did the Son; but is one of those Beings which were made by the Son. For all Things were made by him; and without him not one Thing was made. These are then the Mysteries of the Catholick and Holy Church, deliver'd by the Divine Oracles; while Marcelius, confounding all Things,—in­troduces one Substance, with three Persons, and [Page 37] three Names therein; saying, that God, and the Word, which is in him, and the Holy Spirit are all one.

These, my Lord, are the chief among the Pri­mitive Texts and Testimonies concerning the O­rigin of the Holy Spirit, which are so much on one Side, even till long after the Council of Nice, that I have not found it necessary to divide them under two Heads, as I did those of the Son. Since the only valuable Testimony that may seem to fa­vour the real Eternity of the Holy Spirit, which is that in the Epistle to the Hebrews, of the eter­nal Spirit, uses only the Word [...], which sel­dom or never signifies a proper Eternity; since so many of the Copies have not there even that Epithet, but the usual one of Holy instead of Eter­nal Spirit; and since 'tis not certain that this Place belongs to the third Person at all, but perhaps, to the Divine Nature or Word it self in Christ; Bull. De­fens. Fid. Nicaen. Sect. i. §. 5. which Grotius and Bishop Bull have shewed several Times to have the Character of an Holy Spirit. So that I have no Occasion here to sum up the Evidence on both Sides at all, as to the Co-eterni­ty of the Holy Spirit to the Father, or even as to his equal Antiquity with the Son; for either of which there is not, that I know of, one proper or direct Testimony sacred or primitive, now extant, in the Records of the Christian Church, till long after the Council of Nice, in the latter Days of Atha­nasius himself.

And now, My Lord, I beg that your Lordship will please soberly to review the Evidence that is here produc'd before you and the World; and will suppose your self in the High Court of Chancery, in the same Capacity as your Noble Father formerly presided there; and will put the Case, that your Lordship had an exactly paral­lel Cause before you; that the Witnesses were as numerous and as plain on each Side as these here produc'd appear to be, and no otherwise; and that your Lordship were oblig'd to proceed exact­ly, [Page 38] secundum allegata & probata, which is the known Rule of that and all other like Courts of Justice and Equity among us: And I thereupon Appeal to Your Lordship, supposing you had no Byass on either Side, as no upright Judge ought to have, whether you could possibly, with a safe Consci­ence, determine on the Side representing the Atha­nasians? Whether, in a Point where the general Light of Nature and common Sense is so strong against the Athanasian Doctrine; the Testimonies for it comparatively so few, and so uncertain; and those against it so very many and so very preg­nant; whether, I say, your Lordship could possi­bly, with a safe Conscience, pronounce from this Evidence, that the Son of God and his Holy Spi­rit are strictly Co-eternal to the Supreme God the Father, as the Athanasians affirm? Or whether you would not be forced to declare, in Agreement with the Voice of Natural, the Patriarchal, the Jewish, and the original Christian Religion, that there is but one eternal Being, one eternal God; and that he is no other than the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And here, My Lord, give me Leave to wish, heartily to wish, that these ancient Texts and Testimonies, thus plainly produc'd before you in this one important Article, might so far influence Your Lordship, as to engage you to endeavour that the same Method might be taken in the other Branches of this and all other the like Controver­sies among Christians: That Your Lordship, who has had long so considerable a Hand in the pub­lick Management of Affairs, Sacred and Ecclesia­stical, as well as Temporal and Civil, in this Na­tion; might be a happy Means of bringing all the Parts of our old genuine Christianity to such a fair, open, and impartial Examination, as I have here propos'd, and endeavour'd to exempli­fy in these Papers; that so, Party, Faction, and Prejudice laid aside, all honest and sober Chri­stians might, in a peaceable Manner, unite toge­ther into such Societies, for promoting Primitive Chri­stianity, [Page 39] as has been formerly exemplify'd at my House; or, however, might jointly prosecute the same pious Designs for the Discovery and Resto­ration of the Pure and Holy Religion of our Sa­viour Christ, as it was once deliver'd to the Saints, by such other Christian Methods as they should judge might better tend to the same excellent End.

It has hitherto been Your Lordship's great Glory to have supported and encourag'd that Church of England in which you was educated; and the World has great Reason to believe, by your dai­ly religious Attendance on the Church's Liturgy at Home; as well as by your alike devout week­ly Attendance on the same publick Service at Church; either of which, in our Age, I am sorry to say it, is but too uncommon in Persons of your Lordship's Quality; that you are in earnest in such your Support and Encouragement thereof; or that you do it because you believe this Church to be truly agreeable to the Primitive State of the Gos­pel. Would it not therefore, My Lord, be still more highly honourable for your Lordship, to be a Means of making a more careful Review of our Doctrine, Worship, Practice, and Discipline? That so the same Church, which has long been the Glory and Bulwark of the Protestant Religion, even in it's present imperfect State, may first of all the rest be exactly conform'd to the Perfection of the Christian Settlement; and so may be the great Exemplar and Pattern of all the other Churches, as they become gradually sensible of the Necessity of such a farther Reformation? All the modern Churches, and among them our own, are, to be sure, very unwilling to allow that they stand in any great Need of a farther Reformation. But as your Lordship will easily observe, that the learn­ed Members of every one of these Modern Churches declare such a farther Reformation to be necessary in all other Churches but their own; so am I ve­ry sure that the truly Learned and Impartial of e­very one of them, who have carefully compar'd [Page 40] the present Settlements with that of the first three Centuries of Christianity, do privately know, how little soever they may publickly confess that every one of the present Churches, without Exception, do stand in no small Need of such a farther Re­formation. I beg Leave, my Lord, to conclude here very nearly in the Words with which I for­merly ended my fourth Volume of Primitive Chri­stianity Reviv'd.

I do here solemnly appeal, as to the Truth and Fairness of my Quotations and Assertions, here and elsewhere, to Archbishop Wake, Bishop Hooper, Bishop Smalridge, Bishop Potter, Bishop Chandler, L. C. J. King, Sir Isaac Newton, Dr. Bentley, Dr. Whit­by, Dr. Clarke, Dr. Hare, Dr. Marshal, Dr. Water­land, Mr. Wall, Mr. Gale, Mr. Reeves, and the other great Masters of Primitive Antiquity; and claim it as the Right of Truth and Religion, that they speak their Minds fairly and fully, as they will an­swer it to our common Lord another Day, when no po­litical, prudential, or temporal Regards, will be admitted against the plain Demands of Conscience and Sincerity. And I humbly move those in Authority, that they procure this whole Matter to be impar­tially and publickly examin'd, as the other Popish Doctrines were at the Beginning of the Reforma­tion; and, if the common Opinions appear not on­ly destitute of, but contrary to the Evidence of Scripture and the first Centuries, as I am fully per­swaded they will, that then Care be taken to cast them out of the Church; and to amend and re­form all our publick Offices, Creeds, and Articles, and reduce them all to the Primitive Standards. I also humbly move that, in Order to these and the like Amendments and Improvements in our Eccle­siastical Establishment, the Pretensions of that wonderful Book still extant, the Apostolical Consti­tutions, be examin'd, with the like Care, and in the same publick Manner: And, so far as it shall appear to be a genuine, uncorrupted, Apostolical Work by Clemens Romanus, with the Addition of the most authentick original Jewish and Gentile [Page 41] publick Liturgies; as I am fully perswaded it will; it may then be allow'd its due Weight in the Amend­ment of the Doctrine, Discipline, Government, Worship, and Canons of the Church; or rather, that it may intirely be admitted as an original Rule and Standard in those Matters; as all Chri­stians, who believe them genuine, and, [for the Main] uncorrupt, are immediately oblig'd to do: especially since the leaving these Constitutions, and setting up other Doctrines and Orders in their stead, seem to have been the very Causes of almost all the Anti-christian Corruptions of these last 1200 or 1300 Years together. But if all these my honest and well-meant Endeavours and Desires be rejected; and instead of any Reformation, I my self be traduc'd, and abus'd, and persecuted, I can only acquiesce in the Sense of having sincerely, with some Trouble and Hazard to my self in this World, discharg'd my Duty; and patiently wait for my Reward in that which is to come. For as to those Anathema's, or Names of Distinction and Reproach, which in this Case I must expect, I va­lue them not at all: As having long accustom'd my self to govern both my Belief and my Life by the original Standards of Christianity, without Regard to the contrary Opinions and Practices of these later and corrupter Ages: And so, LIBERAVI ANI­MAM MEAM.

I am, My Lord, with great Respect,

Your Lordship's most humble and obedient Servant, Will. Whiston.

BOOKS printed for J. Senex in Salis­bury-Court, and W. Taylor at the Ship in Pater-noster-Row.

  • I. AN humble and serious Address to the Princes and States of Europe, to admit, or at least o­penly to tolerate the Christian Religion in their Do­minions. Containing, 1. A Demonstration that none of them do, properly speaking, admit or o­penly tolerate the Christian Religion in their Do­minions at this Day. 2. The true Occasions why it is not admitted or openly tolerated by them. 3. Some Reasons why they ought to admit, or at least openly tolerate this Religion. 4. An earnest Address to the several European Princes and States, grounded upon the Premises, for the Admission, or at least the open Toleration of the same Christian Religion in their Dominions.
  • II. A Letter of Thanks to the Right Reverend the Lord Bishop of London, for his late Letter to his Clergy, against the Use of new Forms of Dox­ology, &c.
  • III. A second Letter to the Right Reverend the Lord Biship of London, concerning the Pimitive Doxologies, wherein the Seasonable Review of his Account of them is consider'd.
  • IV. Scripture Politicks: Or, an impartial Ac­count of the Origin and Measures of Government Ecclesiastical and Civil; taken out of the Books of the Old and New Testament: With a Post­script relating to the Report of the Committee of Convocation, about the Bishop of Bangor's Pre­servative and Sermon before the King; to which is subjoin'd, The Supposal: Or a new Scheme of Government, first publish'd, A.D. 1712, and now re-printed.

All by the Reverend Mr. William Whiston, M.A. some­time Professor of the Mathematicks in the University of Cambridge.

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