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ss Laëtantius, iv. 8. Yet the Probole, or Prolatio, which the most orthodox divines borrowed without scruple from the Valentinians, and illustrated by the comparisons of a fountain and stream, the sun and its rays, &c. either meant nothing, or favoured a material idea of the divine generation. See Beausobre, tom. i. 1. iii. c. 7. p. 548.
3% Many of the primitive writers have frankly confessed, that the
Son owed his being to the will of the Father. See Clarke's Scripture. Trinity, p. 280–287. On the other hand, Athanafius and his followers seem unwilling to grant what they are afraid to deny. The schoolmen extricate themselves from this difficulty by the distinction of a preceding and a concomitant will. Petav. Dogm. Theolog, tom, ii. H. vi. c. 3. p. 587—603.
27 See Petav. Dogm. Theolog, toin. ii. l. ii. c. 16. P, 159.
the powers or the duration of the son of an eternal and emnipotent Father. Fourscore years after the death of Christ, the Christians of Bithynia declared before the tribunal of Pliny, that they invoked him as a god; and his divine honours have been perpetuated in every age and country, by the various se&ts who assume the name of his disciples”. Their tender reverence for the memory of Christ, and their horror for the profane worship of any created being, would have engaged them to assert the equal and absolute divinity of the Logos, if their rapid ascent towards the throne of heaven had not been imperceptibly checked by the apprehension of violating the unity and sole supremacy of the great Father of Christ and of the Universe. The suspense and flučtuation produced in the minds of the Christians by these opposite tendencies, may be observed in the writings of the theologians who flourished after the end of the apostolic age, and before the origin of the Arian controversy. Their suffrage is claimed, with equal confidence, by the orthodox and by the heretical parties; and the most inquisitive critics have fairly allowed, that if they had the good fortune of possessing the Catholic verity, they have delivered their conceptions in loose,
avarice. A metaphysical argument became the cause or pretence of political contests; the subtleties of the Platonic school were used as the badges of popular factions, and the distance which separated their respective tenets was enlarged or magnified by the acrimony of dispute. As long as the dark herefies of Praxeas and Sabellius laboured to confound the Father with the Son “, the orthodox party might be excused if they adhered more strićtly and more earnestly to the distinčion, than to the equality, of the divine persons. But as soon as the heat of controversy had subsided, and the progress of the Sabellians was no longer an objećt of terror to the churches of Rome, of Africa, or of Egypt; the tide of theological opinion began to flow with a gentle but steady motion toward the contrary extreme; and the most orthodox doćtors allowed themselves the use of the terms and definitions which had been censured in the mouth of the se&taries “. After the edićt of toleration had restored peace and leisure to the Christians, the Trinitarian controversy was revived in the ancient feat of Platonism, the learned, the opulent, the tumultuous city of Alexandria; and the flame of religious discord was rapidly communicated from the schools to the clergy, the people, the pro