« ПредишнаНапред »
stone, whether that faith be given him of grace, or what its nature and quality were when it was infused, for, when charity, piety, a purpose to lead a new life, and a free power of doing good or evil, are denied to man, there is no sign left to testify its presence: the marks generally adduced as testifying the existence of that faith in man, are altogether ludicrous, and not unlike the auguries of the ancients taken from the flight of birds, or the prognostications of astrologers drawn from the stars, or those deduced from a cast of dice. Such sort of evidences, with other things still more ludicrous, are a consequence of the Lord's imputed righteousness, which, together with the faith that is called such righteousness, is infused into the subject of election. III. THAT THE FAITH, WHICH IS IMPUTATIVE OF THE MERIT AND RIGHTEOUSNESS OF CHRIST THE REDEEMER, FIRST TOOK ITS RISE FROM THE DECREES OF THE COUNCIL OF NICE, CONCERNING THREE DIVINE PERSONS FROM ETERNITY, WHICH FAITH, FROM THAT TIME TO THE PRESENT, HAS BEEN RECEIVED BY THE WHOLE CHRISTIAN WORLD.
632. With respect to the Council of Nice, it was called by the Emperor Constantine the Great, at the instance of Alexander Bishop of Alexandria; at this council all the Bishops in Asia, Africa, and Europe, were assembled in the emperor's palace at Nice, a city of Bithynia, for the purpose of refuting and condemning, from the authority of the Holy Scriptures, the heresy of Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, who denied the Divinity of Jesus Christ: this happened in the year of Christ 318. That the members of this council came to a conclusion, that there have been from eternity three divine persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, may appear evident from the two creeds, called the Nicene and Athanasian; in the Nicene Creed it is written, "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven
* This council is more usually placed in the year 325, but there are several ancient writers who date it as above.
and earth; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only-begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, of one substance with the Father, who came down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost, of the virgin Mary; and I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified." In the Athanasian Creed it is said, "This is the Catholic faith, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance; for there is one person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But whereas we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there be three Gods, or three Lords ;” that is, it is allowable to acknowledge three gods, and three lords, but not to say there are three gods or three lords; and the reason assigned in the latter case is, because religion forbids it, and in the former, because verity or truth dictates it. This Athanasian Creed was composed, immediately after the Council of Nice, by one or more of the members who were present at that council, and was also received as (Ecumenical or Catholic. It appears then from hence to have been decreed and determined at that time, that the three divine persons from eternity ought to be acknowledged, and that although each person singly by himself is God, yet nevertheless they ought not to be called three gods, or three lords, but one.
633. That a belief in three divine persons has been generally received since that time, and has been confirmed and preached by all bishops, prelates, rulers of the church, and presbyters, even to the present day, is a well known fact; and since a mental persuasion of three gods has been the result, it was impossible for any other system of faith to be conceived or formed, but what was applicable to those
three persons in their respective stations; as for instance, that God the Father ought to be approached and implored to impute the righteousness of His Son, or to be merciful for the sake of His Son's sufferings on the cross, and to send the Holy Ghost in order to operate the mediate and ultimate effects of salvation. This faith is a birth sprung from the two creeds above-mentioned, which, however, when stripped of its swadling-clothes, exhibits to view, not one, but three persons, at first indeed joined together as in close embrace, but presently separated from each other; for the decree says of them, that they are joined in essence, but separated in their particular offices of creation, redemption, and operation; or of imputation, imputed righteousness, and the application of it: and this is the reason why, notwithstanding they have compounded one God of three, yet they have not made one person out of three, lest the idea of three gods should be obliterated; for so long as each person singly is believed to be God, according to the assertion in the creed, [the superstructure may stand, but] supposing the three persons to be made one, the whole house, founded as it were upon three pillars, must fall to the ground. The reason why the above-mentioned council introduced three divine persons from eternity, was, because they did not rightly examine the Word, and consequently could find no other asylum against the Arians; but the reason why they afterwards compounded into one God those three persons, each whereof was declared singly by himself to be God, was, because they were fearful of being blamed and reproached by every rational and religious person in three quarters of the globe, for asserting a belief in three gods. The reason why they formed a system of faith applicable to the three in successive order, was, because no other system could possibly be consistent with the principles they had established; add to this, that supposing one of the three to be omitted in such application, the mission of the third could
not take place, and consequently all the operations of divine grace must be unprofitable.
634. But the truth must be declared.-When a belief in three gods was introduced into the Christian Churches, which has continued since the time of the Council of Nice, all the good of charity, and all the truth of faith, were banished, being utterly inconsistent with the mental worship of three gods, and the lip-worship of one God at the same time; for in such case the mind denies what the mouth speaks, and the mouth denies what the mind thinks, so that at length there is no belief either in three gods or in one. Hence it is evident, that the Christian temple, since that time, has not only tottered on its foundations, and been full of chinks and clefts, but has fallen down and become a heap of ruins; and since that time the well of the bottomless pit has been opened, from which the smoke as of a great furnace hath ascended, and darkened the sun and the air, and from which locusts have come forth upon the earth, Rev. ix. 2, 3(: See an explanation of these particulars in the APOCALYPSE REVEALED). Nay, from that time the desolation foretold by Daniel has begun and increased, Matt. xxiv. 15: and to that faith and its imputation the eagles have been gathered together, verse 28 of the same chapter; by eagles in that passage are meant the lynxeyed, or sharp-sighted primates of the church. It may be urged, perhaps, in favour of the doctrine of three divine persons, that the council which established it was composed of a great number of bishops and persons distinguished for their learning, who were unanimous in its favour: but what dependance is to be placed on the authority and unanimity of a general council, when the Roman Catholic councils have been alike unanimous in decreeing and establishing the pope's vicarship, the invocation of saints, the veneration of images and of bones, the divison of the holy eucharist, purgatory, indulgences, and the like? What dependance is to be placed on councils
when the council of Dort unanimously confirmed the abominable doctrine of predestination, and extolled it as the palladium of religion! Do not you then, my reader, depend on councils, but on the Holy Word, and go to the Lord, and you will be enlightened; for He is the Word, that is, the Divine Truth Itself therein.
635. I shall conclude the present article with the declaration of this arcanum. The consummation of the present church is described in seven chapters of the Revelation, in like manner as the devastation of Egypt is described, and both by similar plagues, each of which spiritually signifies some particular false, which brought on its devastation even to its complete destruction; on this account too the present church, which is at this day destroyed, is in a spiritual sense called Egypt, Rev. xi. 8. The plagues in Egypt were these: the waters were turned into blood, so that every fish died, and the river stank, Exod. vii. the like is said in the Revelation, chap. viii. 8, chap. xvi. 3: by blood is signified divine truth falsified, as may be seen in the APOCALYPSE REVEALED, n. 379, 404, 681, 687, 688; and by the fish which died, truths in the natural man, similarly destroyed, n. 290, 405. Frogs came up over all the land of Egypt, Exod. viii. frogs also are mentioned in the Revelation, chap. xvi. 13: by frogs are signified reasonings originating in the lust of falsifying truths, as may be seen APOC. REV. n. 702. In Egypt noxious ulcers or sores broke out upon man and upon beast, Exod. ix. the same is said in the Revelation, chap. xvi. 2: by ulcers or sores are signified interior evils and falses destructive of good and truth in the church, as may be seen in the APOC. REV. n. 678. In Egypt there was great hail mixed with fire, Exod. ix. the same is said in the Revelation, chap. viii. 7, chap. xvi. 21: hail signifies、 the infernal false, see APOC. REV. n. 399, 714. Upon Egypt were sent locusts, Exod. x. so also in the Revelation, chap. ix. 1 to 11: locusts signify falses in the extreme