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the Greeks condemning the Latins for adding to the Creed an article contrary to the authority of the Councils, and the truth of which they suspected or denied; and the Latins obstinately retaining it, because it was sanctioned by the Pope, and expressed in their opinion a doctrine agreeable to Scripture, which the Greeks themselves had once admitted in different words.
In adding the words “ Filioque” to the Creed, the Latins thought themselves justified by plain Scripture reasoning. Although the procession of the Spirit from the Son is not literally asserted, yet it is implied in some things which are said of him in relation to the Son. The same expressions, which are used concerning the Holy Ghost in reference to the Father, because he proceeds from him, are used in reference to the Son; and hence it seems warrantable to conclude that the reason is the same. The Holy Ghost is called the Spirit of the Father, because he proceeds from him: “ It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you. But he is also called the Spirit of the Son; and there seems, therefore, to be no valid ground why we should not believe that the same relation is expressed in the one case and in the other: “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts.” “ If any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.”+ Again, the Holy Ghost is sent by the Father, because he proceeds from him,-it being suitable to the order of subsistence in the Godhead, that the Father should send him, not that he should send the Father. Our Lord speaks of him as the Comforter, whom the Father would send. But he is also sent by the Son :- When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you.” “ If I depart, I will send him unto you."! If his mission by the Father is the consequence of his procession from him, may we not conclude, upon the same ground, that he also proceeds from the Son?
Such are the reasons assigned by the Western Church for deviating from the language of the East and of the ancient creeds. There is a degree of probability in the reasoning; but at the same time candour requires me to say, that, as we do not know what procession means, we perhaps venture too far when we positively affirm, that the expressions which we have quoted are equivalent to that ierm. It is only when we thoroughly understand a subject, that we have authority to pronounce that different modes of expression convey exactly the same idea. I presume that no man will affirm that he is thus qualified to decide the present controversy. He who is called the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit of the Son, does certainly appear to stand in the same relation to both; and, if no other language had been used, there could have been but one opinion on the subject. But, when we find that this person is said to proceed from the Father, and is not said to proceed from the Son, we need not be surprised that some should hesitate whether it can be truly affirmed that he proceeds from the Son. If they acknowledge that he is true God, and is the Spirit of the Son, their refusing to say that he proceeds from him, should be accounted a venial error, and, if censured at all, should be censured with gentleness, as having arisen from a principle, which cannot justly be condemned, of scrupulous adherence to the language of Scripture. The Greeks might be wrong, in their violent condemnation of the Latins for adding the words Filioque to the creed; but the Latins were at least as culpable, in accusing the Greeks of heresy, because they preferred their ancient phraseology. The Latins had arguments on their side, deduced from the interpretation of particular passages; the Greeks had on their side the express language of Scripture itself. It was a controversy which, if it could not be avoided, both parties should have carried on with mildness, and in which they should have mutually exercised the spirit of forbearance. There was no heresy on either side; both were sound in the doctrine of the Trinity, and their difference re• Matt. x. 20. | Gal. iv. 6. Rom. viï. 9. # John xv. 26, and xvi. 7.
lated to a point which neither understood. Legitimate inferences from Scripture, are of the same authority with Scripture itself. But, when the inference is attended with a degree of doubt; when it is deduced from premises which are rather assumed than proved, it may be proposed to the consideration of others, but their assent to it should not be imperatively demanded.
It may be true that the phrase, “ the Spirit of the Father,” is equivalent to the phrase, “proceedeth from the Father; ” but, as this cannot be demonstrated, it would have been wiser not to have made a doctrine, founded upon the idea that they are equivalent, an article of faith. We have seen the grounds upon which it rests; but, while there is reason to believe that the Spirit proceeds from the Son, we should deem it rash to condemn the man who would not assent to this proposition, for this reason, that he could not find it so expressed in the Scriptures.
ON THE DECREES OF GOD.
Connexion between the Knowledge and Decrees of God—Nature and Objects of the Divine
Decrees—They are Eternal, Wise, Free, Absolute, and Unconditional-Unconditional De crees not inconsistent with human Responsibility.
HAVING spoken of God and his perfections, of the Holy Trinity, and the Divinity of the Son, and the Holy Ghost, I now proceed to speak of the Acts of the Divine nature.
Of these, according to systematic Divines, there is a threefold distinction. First, there are immanent and intrinsic acts which have no respect to any thing external. Such are the acts which are implied in the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Spirit: and such are the acts of the Divine persons towards each other, of which their mutual love may be mentioned as an instance. The Divine nature, although single, is not solitary; it is the soul, if I may speak so, of communion more intimate and delightful than the closest fellowship among creatures ; and thus it enjoys in itself a perpetual source of infinite blessedness. Secondly, there are extrinsic and transitive acts, which are not in God, but from God efficiently, and in creatures subjectively; or, to express the matter more intelligibly, are exertions of his power terminating upon creatures as the objects of them. To create, to uphold, and to govern, are acts of this kind. Thirdly, there are immanent and intrinsic acts in God, which have a respect or relation to things without him; and these are his Decrees, to which I shall direct your attention in this lecture.
The decrees of God are his purpose or determination with respect to future things. I call them purpose or determination, in the singular number, because there was only one act of His infinite mind about future things; although we speak as if there had been many, in reference to the process of our own minds, which form successive resolutions, as thoughts and occasions arise, or in reference to the objects of his decree, which being many, seem to require a distinct purpose for each. But, an infinite understanding does not proceed by steps, as they necessarily do whose knowledge, like light, advances by degrees, and whose ideas come in a train; it perceives all things by a single glance. “ Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world." *
• Acts xv. 18.
This seems to be the place, in which it is proper to introduce a distinction, which is usually made, of the knowledge of God into the knowledge of simple intelligence, or natural and indefinite knowledge, scientia simplicis intelligentiæ ; and the knowledge of vision, scientia visionis, which is also called free and definite. The former is the knowledge of things possible, and is called indefinite, because God has defined or determined nothing concerning them. God knows all possible causes, and all their possible effects. The latter is the knowledge of future things, of things which shall take place, and is called definite, because their existence is determined. They differ, you see, in their object; that of the former, being all things that might exist; that of the latter, being only such things as are to exist. The first kind of knowledge is founded on the omnipotence of God; he knows all things which his power could perform. The second kind of knowledge is founded on his will or decree, by which things pass from a state of possibility to a state of futurition. God knew of innumerable worlds and orders of creatures which his power could have brought into being; but he knew of them, not as things which were to be, but as things which might be. But, he knew of the universe which actually is, as certainly to have a future existence, because he had determined to create it. Lastly, these two kinds of knowledge differ in their order, because the former preceded his decree, and the latter is subsequent to it. Of the things which his Almighty power could accomplish, he purposed to do this and not that; and consequently, the one became certain, and the other remained only possible.
There is a third kind of knowledge, which some Divines have ascribed to God, and which is called scientia media, because it lies in the middle between the two kinds already explained, and differs from both. It differs from natural and indefinite knowledge, because it is conversant not about possible, but about future things; it differs from free and definite knowledge, because it is not founded upon the decree of God, but upon the actions of his creatures, which he foresees. He knows how men will act if placed in particular circumstances, if endowed with certain talents, if favoured with certain opportunities, if exposed to certain temptations. His knowledge is not the effect of his own purpose, but of the foresight of their character and condition; it is not derived from himself, but from his creatures. The design of introducing this distinction, was to give support to the doctrine, that the divine decrees which relate to men are conditional ; or that, for example, men were chosen to eternal life upon the foresight of their faith and obedience; and hence it has been strenuously opposed by the advocates of unconditional decrees. They have endeavoured to shew, that it is a useless distinction, this middle science being comprehended in the knowledge of simple intelligence, or the knowledge of all possible things; that it solves no difficulties, but leaves the question, how God is not the author of sin? unanswered, since he placed Adam in circumstances in which he knew certainly that he would fall; that it renders God dependent upon his creatures, from whom part of his knowledge is derived, and by whose conduct his determinations are regulated; and that it exempts men from the control of their Maker, leaving them to act independently of any act of his will, or any prior arrangement of his wisdom, solely in the exercise of their own liberty. Some of these objections appear to have weight; but, perhaps, this media scientia might be so explained as to free it from them, and render it quite consistent with orthodoxy. Whether you give a distinct name to it or not, you might, one should think, say with the utmost safety, that God, whose understanding is infinite, knew in what manner men would act if placed in particular circumstances, and did place them in such circumstances, with a view to accomplish the design of his administration.
You will understand, by what has been said, the connexion between the knowledge and the decrees of God. When he decreed, he selected, if I may speak so, from the infinity of possible things, those which his wisdom judged proper to be done ; and the things thus selected were henceforth future and certain.
No man will deny, that there are divine decrees, who believes that God is an intelligent being, and considers what this character implies. An intelligent being is one who knows and judges, who purposes ends and devises means, who acts from design, conceives a plan, and then proceeds to execute it. Fortune was worshipped as a goddess by the ancient heathens, and was represented as blind, to signify that she was guided by no fixed rule, and distributed her favours at random. Surely no person of common sense, not to say piety, will impute procedure so irrational to the Lord of universal nature. As he knew all things that his power could accomplish, there were undoubtedly reasons, which determined him to do one thing, and not to do another; and his choice, which was founded upon those reasons, was his decree. Upon this subject, we cannot avoid speaking of him after the manner of men; because, in endeavouring to conceive the acts of his mind, we necessarily refer to the operations of our own, however great is the difference between infinite and finite. When various plans are laid before us, and we prefer one to the rest, this act of our minds is a decree or purpose by which our subsequent conduct is regulated. The works of God, in like manner, necessarily presuppose a decree, as the plan of which they are the developement. It will certainly be admitted, that God intended to create the world before he actually created it; that he intended to make man before he fashioned his body, and breathed the breath of life into his nostrils ; that he intended to govern the world which he had made, according to certain laws; and it will be farther admitted, that when he resolved to create the world, and to make man, and to establish laws physical and moral, he had some ultimate object in view. Having constructed a machine, and set it in motion, he knew what would be the result; and this result was the true reason, or the final cause, why the machine was constructed. This intention of the Deity is his decree. To this general idea of a decree no man can object, whatever difficulties may occur in the detail of the doctrine, because it is as simple, and as necessarily forced upon our minds, as the idea of a purpose in the mind of a wise man, preceding an enterprise in which he embarks, or a particular mode of life which he adopts. In fine, the decree of God is his will, in which the exertions of his power, and the manifestations of his other perfections, originated. When we speak of his decreeing or purposing, we mean nothing mysterious and profound, but merely, that before he acted, he willed to act, that his operations ad extra were not the effects of necessity, but of counsel and design.
The Scriptures make mention of the decrees of God in many passages, and in a variety of terms. They speak of his foreknowledge, his purpose, his will, the determinate counsel of his will, his good pleasure, and his predestination: Christ, says an apostle," was delivered by the determinate counsel and foreknowledge of God.” “ Whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate.”+ “ He hath made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure, which he hath purposed in himself.”! " He worketh all things after the counsel of his own will."'S It is unnecessary to multiply quotations. There are two remarks which I would make upon the language of Scripture : First, when it represents the decrees of God as his counsel, the word is not to be understood in its usual acceptation, as implying consultation with others, or reflection, comparison, the deduction of inferences from premises, and the establishment of a conclusion as the result of the previous process. This slow procedure suits our limited faculties, but the decisions of an infinite mind are
• Acts i. 23. † Rom. viii. 29. # Eph. i. 9. $ Ibid. 11.
instantaneous. His decrees are called his counsel, to signify that they are consummately wise. Secondly, when they are called his will, it is not meant to insinuate that they are arbitrary decisions; but merely, that in making his decrees, he was under no control, and acted according to his own so
sovereignty. When a man's will is the rule of his conduct, it is usually capricious and unreasonable; but wisdom is always associated with will in the divine proceedings; and accordingly his decrees are said to be the “counsel of his will."
A question has been agitated upon this subject, which is very abstruse, and of which I almost despair of being able to convey a clear idea to you, as I am not sure that I distinctly understand it. It relates to the manner in which the deerees are in God, whether essentially, or inhesively and accidentally. The first is accounted the orthodox opinion. I know not how to explain it; but it is aflirmed that the decrees of God are not different from himself, and are identified with his essence, and that he never was without his decrees. If I have any glimpse of the meaning, it appears to be this, that in God there is nothing analogous to thought in man, which is not his soul itself, but an act of his soul. It is easy to put together words, which shall express this proposition; but I doubt much whether any man can affix a distinct idea to it, with whatever confidence he may repeat it. You may say, that the decrees of God are God himself decreeing, and you may say the same thing of a man, that his decrees are the man himself decreeing: the decrees, however, are not more identified with the essence in the one case, than in the other. We do not indeed understand the operations of an infinite mind, and they must be very different from those of our own; but we would persuade ourselves and others that we do understand them, although it frequently happens, (and the present case, I think, is an instance,) that we darken counsel by words without knowledge. What is the meaning of decrees which are God himself? or what can we infer from the assertion, that God could not be without his decrees, but that they were as necessary as his existence, and consequently, that it was necessary that the world should be created, and all the events should happen, which have taken place, or will take place throughout an endless duration ? There have been distinctions invented to support this opinion, and to answer objections; but I may spare myself and you the trouble of retailing them, as they would neither entertain nor instruct you.
The decrees of God relate to all future things without exception; whatever is done in time, was fore-ordained before the beginning of time. His purpose was concerned with every thing, whether great or small, whether good or evil; although, in reference to the latter, it may be necessary to distinguish between appointment and permission. It was concerned with things necessary, free, and contingent; with the movements of matter, which are necessary; with the volitions and actions of intelligent creatures, which are free; and with such things as we call accidents, because they take place undesignedly on our part, and without any cause which we could discover. It was concerned about our life, and our death ; about our state in time, and our state in eternity. In short, the decrees of God are as comprehensive as his government, which extends to all creatures, and to all events. God did not merely deeree to make man, and place him upon the earth, and then to leave him to his own uncontrolled guidance: he fixed all the circumstances in the lot of individuals, and all the particulars which will compose the history of the human race from its commencement to its close. He did not merely decree that general laws should be established for the government of the world, but he settled the application of those laws to all particular cases. Our days are numbered, and so are the hairs of our heads. We may learn what is the extent of the Divine decrees from the dispensations of providence, in which they are executed. The care of Providence reaches to the most insignificant creatures, and the most minute Vol. 1.-45
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