De Moor V:9: Eternal Generation Defended against Roellius, Part 2


Dionysius Andreas Roell

δ. In this way the Mystery of the Trinity necessarily goes forth either unto Tritheism, that is, if the distinction of the Persons is placed, not in the Mode of having the Essence, but in the Essence itself; or unto Sabellianism, if the distinction here is neither in Essence, not in the Subsistence by that communicated, when nothing but a distinct name is left. For, if the Son was God with the Father from eternity, He was either distinct from the Father, or not. If not, or in Name alone, the Mystery of the Trinity is denied, and you profess Sabellianism. But if so, how are and were the Father and Son distinct from eternity? If you should say, Economically, by a division of the work of Redemption among them: I Respond, That does not make and constitute diverse Persons, but suppose them: and if you do not acknowledge another distinction among the divine Persons, you overturn the Trinity of Persons, and there will be only one divine Person, variously denominated according to the variety of His work; but also in this way we slide toward Sabellianism: which Röellius, and Lampe following him in this, would rashly impute to orthodox Theologians, because of true distinction of Persons taught, with respect to Mode of subsistence, since in other respects those Three have the same Numerical Essence common among themselves; see Judicium Ecclesiasticum laudatum, chapter III, § 4, page 73, § 14, page 110; and LAMPE’S Libellum duobolarem contra Zelotem Rotterod., page 4. Or, if you admit the Three divine Persons to be Coexistent from eternity, truly distinct from each other, and thus suited to undertake various Works economically; yet you do not allow that those things that are said and taught in Scripture concerning the Generation, Nativity, and Procession, ἐκπορεύσει, of these Persons to be referred to the natural Mode of their Subsistence; then they will be obliged to be distinct species in possession of the same, equal divine Essence: but in this way this Mystery passes into Tritheism; which, as believed by him, I do indeed believe to be a sin rashly to smear on anyone: but it is another thing to indicate something, which is able to be deduced by legitimate consequence from his opinion with him perhaps unaware; and it is additionally worthy of note, that Röellius, frequently professing the Unity of the Deity in Trinity, yet nowhere in this disputation, as far as I know, assigns Numeric and Individual Unity to the divine Essence, but studiously abstains, as it were, from these terms: see Judicium Ecclesiasticum laudatum, chapter III, § 14, pages 107-115, compared with the Præfatione of DIONYSIUS ANDREAS RÖELLIUS[1] before tome 2 of Commentarii Patris in Epistolas ad Ephesios et Colossenses, in which he treats this painstakingly, so that he might free his Father from the charge of Tritheism. For pressing the error of Röellius with Sabellianism or Tritheism as thence resulting, ARMINIUS had already furnished occasion, disputing against such that were saying that the divine Essence of the Three Persons is common, and that that is righlty and properly said; but that it is only improperly belived that the Essence was communicated to the Son and Spirit by the Father: see the Declarationem Sententiæ Arminii ad Ordines Hollandiæ et West-Frisiæ, page 61 and the beginning of the following; likewise Arminius’ Responsiones ad XXXI Articulos, page 138.


ε. Finally, the eternal Deity of the Son was not able truly to be acknowledged, with His eternal divine Filiation denied: since by the Essence and divine Life eternally Communicated to the Son from the Father, which is the foundation of Filiation, the Son is also God from eternity: but if you take away the Communcation of Deity to Him, you also take away His eternal Deity: compare § 8.


Johannes a Marck

[Which pertains no less to the Spirit than to the Son, etc.]For, if all Communication of Essence and distinction in Mode of Subsistence ought to be kept from the divine Persons, the peculiar manner of Subsistence in the Holy Spirit also perishes, which the Catholic Church has hitherto believed to be signified in Scripture by ἐκπόρευσιν/procession in the manner of a Spiration, as it were, incomprehensible and ineffable, from the Mouth of the Most High.[2]Indeed, it was spoken of the eternal and natural Distinction of the three divine Persons among themselves.Which is not able to be offset by a substituted Economic distinction, which, with the natural distinction of the Persons denied, is altogether arbitrary; but it verily supposes another, more natural Distinction in the Trinity itself as such, so that that Economic distinction might be able to find a place among the three truly distinct Persons:such that it is in vain, that Röellius seeks the eternal characters of the Person in the divine counsel concerning future works outside of themselves:see Judicium Ecclesiasticum laudatum, chapter III, § 14, especially pages 107, 114, 115.

[1] Dionysius Andreas Röellius (1689-1733) was the son of Herman Alexander Röellius. He served as Professor of Philosophy at Deventer. [2] See John 15:26: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth (ἐκπορεύεται) from the Father, he shall testify of me…”

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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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