De Moor V:9: Eternal Generation Defended against the Remonstrants, Part 3

The argument that this Pauline passage furnishes WESSELIUS draws tight, Nestorianismo et Adoptianismo redivivo confutato, chapter XXIV, § 290, pages 538, 539, observing, “1. that his axioms are plainly discerned here, that He is a Son, and that He learns obedience, or in rendering obedience He experiences however much is required for the vicarious Active and Passive Obedience necessary in the Surety, so that the debt willingly undertaken might be expunged. And, 2. that thus indeed are discerned those axioms in Paul, that he does not infer from obedience as a Cause the divine Filiation of Christ, but that from Filiation he magnifies the magnitude of the love of Christ, who obligated Himself to furnish that obedience for us, and so that he might show at the same time the efficacy of the merit of that obedience, which is in this, that it is the OBEDIENCE OF THE SON OF GOD, and so of infinite value, whereby He became the Author of eternal salvation unto all that obey Him. 3. In addition, that, if He be the Son of God also as Mediator and Christ, this speech of Paul would be inept and weak. Since the sense would be, that, although He were Mediator and Christ, nevertheless He learned of what great weight is the Office of Mediator. 4. That this is not to be passed by, that, if He be the Son of God because of the Office of Mediator, He would owe all obedience to God. While Paul in this his speech supposes that obedience was not fitting for Him as the Son of God of Himself. For, he says, although He were a Son, of Himself not at all obligated to that Vicarious obedience, yet He took that upon Himself with great willingness, and willed to become Mediator and Christ, so that He might save sinners.”

ε. It was previously observed, that from a double or triple Filiation of this sort two Persons, a plurality of Persons, is introduced into Christ; since the same Person that is the Proper Son of His Parent through Generation and Birth is not able to be made a Son of the same Parent through Adoption or whatever other less proper manner: diverse Filiations of this sort are well able to fall into diverse Persons. But thus Angels also and Magistrates are less properly, and in a less substantial sense, called Gods. But the Son of God is not without absurdity able to be said to be true God, φύσει Θεὸν, according to the divine Nature, and at the same time made God, improper, as He enjoys the most excellent Mediatorial Office and the most glorious human Nature. That is not able to fall to one and the same Person. But it is equally absurd for the two dissimilar Filiations mentioned above to be assigned to one Son of God: see Judicium Ecclesiasticum laudatum, chapter III, § 11, page 98. Hence GREGORY NYSSEN, adversus Apollinarem, opera, tome 3, page 262, repudiates as a calumnious fabrication, that there are those among the Orthodox that acknowledge two Filiations of this sort in Christ: Προφέρουσι γὰρ ὡς τινῶν τῶν κατὰ τὴν καθολικὴν ἐκκλησίαν δύο πρεσβεύοντων υἱοὺς ἐν τῷ δόγματι, τὸν μὲν, κατὰ φύσιν ὄντα· τὸν δὲ, κατὰ θέσιν ὕστερον προσγενόμενον· οὐκ οἶδα παρ᾽ ὅτου τὸ τοιοῦτον ἀκηκοότες, καὶ πρὸς ποῖον διαπληκτιζόμενοι πρόσωπον. οὔπω γὰρ ἔγνων τὸν τοιαῦτα παραφθεγξάμενον, for they, namely, the Apollinarians, set forth, as of those providing leadership in accordance with the catholic church, two sons in the doctrine, the one being according to nature, the other to an adoption added later: I do not know from whom they are hearing such, and with whom they are wrangling: for I have not yet discovered who is uttering such things. Compare CALVIN’S Institutes of the Christian Religion, book II, chapter XIV, § 6; and especially WESSELIUS, Nestorianismo et Adoptianismo redivivo confutato, chapters IV-IX, pages 141-295, where he evinces at length against Cremer that the whole Catholic and Reformed Church always held, that only one divine Filiation is applicable to Christ by the force of His eternal and natural Generation by the Father.

What They Object is not so, that, since Christ is called πρωτότοκον ἐν πολλοῖς ἀδελφοῖς, the firstborn among many brethren, He has many Brethren sharing in the same Filiation with Him: and so He, no less than they, ought to be called Son improperly and not according to the singular divine Nature on account of natural Generation.

I Respond by Denying the Consequent: for, α. He who is Only-Begotten is able to obtain many brethren by the Adoption of the Father, to whom Filiation is not applicable by the same title, and with respect to whom that Only-Begotten is able to be called Firstborn. Thus the Emperor Claudius had a proper son, Britannicus, of Messallina: but then he adopted Domitius Nero, the son of his wife, Julia Agrippina, and of Domitius Ahenobarbus, who in this manner became the brother of Brittanicus, but thence Brittanicus was not any less the proper son of Claudius.

β. It is worth noting that Christ is nowhere called the Firstborn Son of God; but either the Firstborn absolutely, or with relation to Creatures, whether all, or the elect: hence they explain this title of His Dominion over creatures, and especially over His Believing Brethren, also applicable to Him as Mediator (although this His Excellence and Dominion, as well as the whole Mediatorial Office, in the final analysis is founded in the Eternal, Divine Filiation, according to which He is the Only Begotten Son of the Father); which was already of old an observation of ATHANASIUS, see WESSELIUS’ Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, chapter VII, § 106, 107, pages 215-224, § 108, page 226, who himself more elaborately enlarges and commends this exegesis of the title Firstborn, given to Christ, with special relation to the particular passages where it occurs, chapters XI-XIII, § 149-169; add WESSELIUS’ Dissertationes Academicas XVI, XIX, § 10-12, pages 580-588, § 22, pages 604, 605; compare NICOLAUS ARNOLDI’S Refutationem Catecheseos Racovianæ, pages 304-306, ad Catechesem Racovianam de Cognitione Personæ Christi, chapter I, questions 74, 75, page 106.

If any of the Fathers, says our AUTHOR, or Theologians of a preceding age here light the way for the Remonstrants, we do not make their problematic expression our own.On which words I would have HEINRICH ALTING to be consulted, Theologia problematica nova, locus XII, problem VII, pages 569, 570; and JOHANNES WILHELMIUS, Voorreden voor Paulus Hulsius Mengelstoffen, where he discourses at length concerning the unique divine Filiation of Christ against Cremer; and especially the frequently cited treatise of the Most Illustrious JOHANNES WESSELIUS, Nestorianismum et Adoptianismum redivivum confutatum, sive de Christo Unico et Proprio Dei Filio, non Metaphorico, librum singularem, etc.

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Dr. Steven Dilday holds a BA in Religion and Philosophy from Campbell University, a Master of Arts in Religion from Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia), and both a Master of Divinity and a  Ph.D. in Puritan History and Literature from Whitefield Theological Seminary.  He is also the translator of Matthew Poole's Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters and Bernardinus De Moor’s Didactico-Elenctic Theology.




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