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


Leiden

[And the care of the Dutch Synods against him ought to be highly commended and diligently observed.]See Judicium Ecclesiasticum contra Röellius laudatum, chapter I.Also, the Theological Faculty of Leiden, which at that time was made up of FREDERIC SPANHEIM the Younger, JACOBUS TRIGLAND the Grandson, and JOHANNES MARKIUS, expressing its Judgment at the command of the Orders of Holland on March 15, 1692, on the theological Dissertation of Herman Alexander Röellius concerning the Generation of the Son and the temporal Death of believers, printed at Franeker in 1689, declared, that in that book they found various positions, which in this manner neither did it find in the Word of God, nor was able to reconcile easily with received doctrine, which is derived from the Word:which the Faculty then abundantly confirms, both out of the Word of God, as we have already seen above in § 8, where we present it as proven, that this Generation is to be said to be altogether Proper; and out of the Heidelberg Catechism, Question XXXIII,[1] compared with the Explicatione of ZACHARIAS URSINUS, the primary author of this Catechism, page 246 in octavo, and out of the Belgic Confession, articles IX[2] and X,[3] where, lest any doubt remain, the Confession also appeals to the three Symbols of the Faith, of the Apostles, of Nicea, and of Athanasius, likewise to that which concerning these things was concluded out of the Ancients in a manner conformable to those:which three Symbols the Theologians of Leiden also show to militate against Röellius, the Apostolic in professing faith in Jesus Christ as the Only-Begotten Son of God in the sense in which the Heidelberg Catechism explains this title; the Nicean in those things that it has at length concerning the divine Generation of the Son of God; the Athanasian no less expressly, articles I-III,[4] XIX-XXIII,[5] XXVIII.[6]To which they add, as ὁμοψήους/ homologating, the Helvetic Confession, chapter III,[7]page 4; the English Confession published in the Synod of London in 1562, article II,[8]page 99; the Gallic Confession, article VI,[9]page 78; in Corpore Confessionum Fidei.And they note that EPIPHANIUS, in his grave and moving address to Aëtius,[10]Against Heresies, book III, tome I, heresy LXXVI, opera, tome I, page 944, testifies that it was always the doctrine of orthodox and pious confessors, long before the times of Constantine and Athanasius.And, just as Röellius himself, Dissertatione, § 14, page 16, confesses that in this business he has departed from the common manner of speaking, so also after all the things mentioned above they readily commit to the judgment of others, whether he holds also the very truths and substance comprehended in the Confession and Catechism:neither do they believe that the exception of Röellius is in any way to be admitted here, on which he depends in order to protect himself, Dissertatione, § 67, page 70, What the authors of the Confessions meant to say is not always able or ought so much to be known, as what they said, and ought to have said, according to Scripture.The Articles of faith, which they expressed and delivered in public confessions, he professes to receive, whoever subscribes to them, but not the individual words and points.This is not able to be applied to the present business, and, once admitted, it will make for the great mockery of the use of the Formulæ of Union, since to those each one will subscribe in whatever sence he wishes to attach to them.And finally, they are grieved that Röellius, although in the faith of the Trinity professing himself to be unconnected to the Socinians and the like, nevertheless in impugning the Proper and Eternal divine Generation of the Son, and in eluding the passages customarily adduced by the Reformed for it, everywhere makes use of arguments and exceptions that the Arians and Socinians have long made use of to enervate the same mystery; and that the arms, wherewith the orthodox Church by divine grace had already for more than thirteen centuries triumphed over the enemies of the truth, are declared invalid by him, when he writes, Dissertatione, § 35, page 36, As far as I am concerned, I am not able to conceal that I have never sufficiently understood the sense or force of most of the responses with which our men attempt to loosen the arguments that by adversaries are sought against the true Deity of the Son from the nature of Generation properly so called, etc.And in § 25, page 25, he concludes:Of whom Generation properly so called is affirmed, of Him true Deity is not to be denied.

[1] Heidelberg Catechism 33: “Why is Christ called the only begotten Son of God, since we are also the children of God? Because Christ alone is the eternal and natural Son of God; but we are children adopted of God, by grace, for His sake.” [2] Belgic Confession, article 9: “All this we know, as well from the testimonies of Holy Writ as from their operations, and chiefly by those we feel in ourselves. The testimonies of the Holy Scriptures, that teach us to believe this Holy Trinity, are written in many places of the Old Testament, which are not so necessary to enumerate as to choose them out with discretion and judgment. In Genesis 1:26, 27, God saith: Let us make man in our image, after our likeness, etc. So God created man in His own image, male and female created He them. And Genesis 3:22: Behold, the man is become as one of us. From this saying, Let us make man in our image, it appears that there are more persons than one in the Godhead; and when He saith God created, He signifies the unity. It is true He doth not say how many persons there are, but that which appears to us somewhat obscure in the Old Testament is very plain in the New. For when our Lord was baptized in Jordan, the voice of the Father was heard, saying, This is My beloved Son: the Son was seen in the water, and the Holy Ghost appeared in the shape of a dove. This form is also instituted by Christ in the baptism of all believers. Baptize all nations, in the name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. In the Gospel of Luke the angel Gabriel thus addressed Mary, the mother of our Lord: The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee, therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God. Likewise, The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. And, There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. In all which places we are fully taught that there are three persons in one only divine essence. And although this doctrine far surpasses all human understanding, nevertheless we now believe it by of the Word of God, but expect hereafter to enjoy the perfect knowledge and benefit thereof in heaven. Moreover we must observe the particular offices and operations of these three persons towards us. The Father is called our Creator by His power; the Son is our Savior and Redeemer by His blood; the Holy Ghost is our Sanctifier by His dwelling in our hearts. This doctrine of the Holy Trinity hath always been defended and maintained by the true Church, since the times of the apostles to this very day, against the Jews, Mohammedans, and some false Christians and heretics, as Marcion, Manes, Praxeas, Sabellius, Samosatenus, Arius, and such like, who have been justly condemned by the orthodox fathers. Therefore, in this point, we do willingly receive the three creeds, namely, that of the Apostles, of Nice, and of Athanasius; likewise that which, conformable thereunto, is agreed upon by the ancient fathers.” [3] Belgic Confession, article X: “We believe that Jesus Christ, according to His divine nature, is the only begotten Son of God, begotten from eternity, not made nor created (for then He would be a creature), but coessential and coeternal with the Father, the express image of His person, and the brightness of His glory, equal unto Him in all things. He is the Son of God, not only from the time that He assumed our nature, but from all eternity, as these testimonies, when compared together, teach us. Moses saith that God created the world; and John saith that all things were made by that Word, which he calleth God. And the apostle saith that God made the worlds by His Son; likewise, that God created all things by Jesus Christ. Therefore it must needs follow that He who is called God, the Word, the Son, and Jesus Christ did exist at that time when all things were created by Him. Therefore the prophet Micah saith: His goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting. And the apostle: He hath neither beginning of days nor end of life. He therefore is that true, eternal, and almighty God, whom we invoke, worship, and serve.” [4] Athanasian Creed, articles I-III: “Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the catholic faith; which faith except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the catholic faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity…” [5] Athanasian Creed, articles XIX-XXIII: “For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every Person by himself to be God and Lord; 20. So are we forbidden by the catholic religion to say; There are three Gods or three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and of the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.” [6] Athanasian Creed, article XXVIII: “He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity.” [7] Second Helvetic Confession, chapter III: “We believe and teach that God is one in essence or nature, subsisting in himself, all sufficient in himself, invisible, incorporeal, immense, eternal, Creator of all things both visible and invisible, the greatest good, living, quickening and preserving all things, omnipotent and supremely wise, kind and merciful, just and true. Truly we detest many gods because it is expressly written: “The Lord your God is one Lord” (Deuteronomy 6:4). “I am the Lord your God. You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:2-3). “I am the Lord, and there is no other god besides me. Am I not the Lord, and there is no other God beside me? A righteous God and a Savior; there is none besides me” (Isaiah 45:5, 21). “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness” (Exodus 34:6). Notwithstanding we believe and teach that the same immense, one and indivisible God is in person inseparably and without confusion distinguished as Father, Son and Holy Spirit so, as the Father has begotten the Son from eternity, the Son is begotten by an ineffable generation, and the Holy Spirit truly proceeds from them both, and the same from eternity and is to be worshipped with both. “Thus there are not three gods, but three persons, consubstantial, coeternal, and coequal; distinct with respect to hypostases, and with respect to order, the one preceding the other yet without any inequality. For according to the nature or essence they are so joined together that they are one God, and the divine nature is common to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. “For Scripture has delivered to us a manifest distinction of persons, the angel saying, among other things, to the Blessed Virgin, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God” (Luke 1:35). And also in the baptism of Christ a voice is heard from heaven concerning Christ, saying, “This is my beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). The Holy Spirit also appeared in the form of a dove (John 1:32). And when the Lord himself commanded the apostles to baptize, he commanded them to baptize “in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19). Elsewhere in the Gospel he said: “When the Counselor comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me, etc.” (John 15:26). In short, we receive the Apostles’ Creed because it delivers to us the true faith. “Therefore we condemn the Jews and Mohammedans, and all those who blaspheme that sacred and adorable Trinity. We also condemn all heresies and heretics who teach that the Son and Holy Spirit are God in name only, and also that there is something created and subservient, or subordinate to another in the Trinity, and that there is something unequal in it, a greater or a less, something corporeal or corporeally conceived, something different with respect to character or will, something mixed or solitary, as if the Son and Holy Spirit were the affections and properties of one God the Father, as the Monarchians, Novatians, Praxeas, Patripassians, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, Aetius, Macedonius, Antropomorphites, Arius, and such like, have thought.” [8] Thirty-nine Articles, article II: “The Son, which is the Word of the Father, begotten from everlasting of the Father, the very and eternal God, and of one substance with the Father, took man's nature in the womb of the blessed Virgin, of her substance: so that two whole and perfect natures, that is to say, the Godhead and manhood, were joined together in one person, never to be divided, whereof is one Christ, very God and very man, who truly suffered, was crucified, dead, and buried, to reconcile His Father to us, and to be a sacrifice, not only for original guilt, but also for all actual sins of men.” [9] Gallic Confession, article VI: “These Holy Scriptures teach us that in this one sole and simple divine essence, whom we have confessed, there are three persons: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Father, first cause, principle, and origin of all things. The Son, his Word and eternal wisdom. The Holy Spirit, his virtue, power, and efficacy. The Son begotten from eternity by the Father. The Holy Spirit proceeding eternally from them both; the three persons not confused, but distinct, and yet not separate, but of the same essence, equal in eternity and power. And in this we confess that which hath been established by the ancient councils, and we detest all sects and heresies which were rejected by the holy doctors, such as St. Hilary, St. Athanasius, St. Ambrose, and St. Cyril.” [10] Aëtius of Antioch (flourished 350) was the founder of the Anomoean sect of the Arians, denying the consubstantiality of the Father and the Son.

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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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