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SHOWING THAT THERE IS A TRINITY OF PERSONS IN THE UNITY OF THE DIVINE ESSENCE.
Having, in the former chapter, proved that there is but one God, and yet that there is a plurality in the Godhead; I now proceed, III. To prove that this plurality is neither more nor fewer than three; which three are the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: Or, in other words, that there is a Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the divine Essence. The doctrine of a real distinction of three Persons in one God, is denied by the Sabelliaus, called so from Sabellius, who lived in the middle of the third century; and held that there was but one fubjectum, suppositum, hypostasis or perform in the Godhead. This was not first broached by him; for before him Noetus s trenuously asserted, that there was no plurality in the Godhead; that the Father and Son were but one person. From him his followers were called Noetians, and sometimes Patripassans; because they held, in consequence of their former notion, that the Father was incarnate, suffered and died. Yea, before Noetus, Praxeas f44, who was strengthened by Victorinus, was much of the same opinion; against whom Tertullian wrote, and by whom his followers are called Monarchians. The fame Christian writer tells us, That one fort of the Cataphrygians held, that Jesus Christ was both Son and Father. Indeed one of the tenets ascribed to Simon Magus is, that he held but one person in the Godhead; and that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, were only different names of one and the fame person, according to his different way of operation. Simon said of himself, that he was the Father in Samaria, and Son in Judea, and the Holy Ghost in the rest of the nations. He seems to have received his notion of unity, in opposition to a Trinity of Persons in the Deity, from the yews, who were now turned Unitarians; having exploded their anciently received doctrine of the Trinity, in opposition to the Deity and Messiahship of Jesus Christ. I do not mention there things to make any odious comparisons, or to fix any invidious names on persons, but to show the rise and progress of this error; and left any should think that they have got new light, when they have only embraced an old stale error, that has had its confutation over and over.
The opposers of the doctrine of the Trinity, and of the distinction of Persons in it, are not reconciled to the use of the words, Trinity, Unity, Effence, and person; because they are not literally, and syllabically expressed in scripture. But since we have the things themselves signified by them, why we should scruple the use of the words, I see not. As for the word Trinity, though it is not formally expressed, yet the sense of it is clearly signified in scripture: For if there are three which are some way or other really distinct from each other, and yet but one God, we need not scruple to say, there is a Trinity in the Godhead. Nor have we the word Unity in scripture; yet we are told, that the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit are one; and that Christ and his Father are one: Now if they are one, then there is an unity, and that is a sufficient reason why we should make use of the word. The word Essence is not used in scripture; but we are told, that God is that he is, oJ w]n , which is, and was, and is to come; and if God is, then he has an essence. An essence is, that by which a person or thing is what it is; and seeing God is, essence may be truly predicated of him. As for the word person, it is used in Hebrews 1:3. of God the Father; where Christ is said to be “the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person.” It is not indeed agreed, whether the word uJpovaasiv , should be rendered substance or person; I would only observe, That the Greek fathers, when speaking of the Trinity, use the word in the same sense, in which our translators have rendered it. There is another word, which they also make use of, when they speak of the Persons in the Trinity, and that is pro>swpon ; which is used by the apostle when he is speaking of Christ, in 2 Corinthians 4:6. which our translators render “the face of Jesus Christ:” The words might be translated, the person of Christ; and without such a version, the sense of the words is not very easy. Besides, they have rendered the fame word so in 2 Corinthians 1:11. where the sense requires it. Justin Martyr uses the word in abundance of places in his writings, if the Expositio Fidei, and Quaest. & Respons. ad Orthodoxos are allowed to be his; and defines it to be. tro>pov uJpa>rxewv , a mode of subsisting in the divine essence; and says, That there were tri>a pro>swpa , three Persons in God. Tertullian, a little after him, who was one of the first Latin writers, frequently uses the word persona f52 ; and tells us what he means by it f53: “Whatsoever, says he, was the substance of the Word, that I call a person; and to it I give the name of a Son: And whilst I own a Son, I maintain a second from the Father.”
It is an individual, and therefore something singular: It differs from universal natures. It subsists of itself, and therefore is not an accident; which does not subsist of itself, but inheres in another. It is living; hence a stone, or any other inanimate being, is not a person. It is intelligent, or understands; wherefore an horse, or any other brute, is not a person. It is incommunicable, and so it is distinguished from essence, which is communicable to more. It is nor sustained by another; hence the human nature of Christ is no Person, because it is sustained by the person of the Word. It is not a part of another; hence a human foul is no person, because it is a part of man. In one word, I say, with Dr. Waterland, “ That each divine person is an individual intelligent agent: But as subsisting in one undivided substance; they are altogether, in that respect, but one undivided intelligent agent.”
Or, as he elsewhere expresses it: “A single person is an intelligent agent, having the distinctive characters of I, Thou, He, and not divided or distinguished into more intelligent agents, capable of the same characters” Now, according to either of there definitions, we may argue thus: A person is an individual, that subsists, lives, understands, etc. but such is the Father, therefore a person; such is the Son, therefore a person; such is the Holy Ghost, and therefore a person. From the whole, there seems no reason to lay aside the use of this word. I am not however so attached to it, but that I could part with it, provided a more apt and suitable word was substituted in its room; whereby a real distinction in the Deity, might be maintained:
But it would be apparent weakness to part with this with. out the substitution of another, and that a better word; tho’ it is a difficult thing to change words, in such an important article as this, without altering the sense of it. It is a rule, that in many instances holds good, Qui, fingit nova verba, nova gignit dogmata; he that coins new words, coins new doctrines. If those, who dislike the use of this word, think it is a lessening or diminishing of the glory of the eternal Three, to call them Persons, it must be ten thousand times more so, to bring them down to mere names and characters; and therefore we shall never care to exchange Persons for respective names and characters. If we cannot speak of God as he should be spoken of, let us speak of him as we can; If we cannot speak with the tongue of angels, let us speak as men, in the belt and most becoming way we are able. To reject the use of human phrases, because they are not formally expressed in scripture, is, as Dr. Owen observes, “to deny all interpretation of the scripture, all endeavors to express the sense of the words of it, unto the understanding of one another; which is, in a word, to render the scripture itself altogether useless:
For if it he unlawful for me, to speak, or write, what I conceive to be the sense of the words of scripture, and the nature of the thing signified, and expressed by them; it is unlawful for me also to think or conceive in my mind, what is the sense of the words, or nature of the things; which to say, is to make brutes of ourselves, and to frustrate the whole design of God in giving unto us the great privilege of his word.”
Having premised these things, I shall endeavor to prove the doctrine of a Trinity of Persons, in the one God. Now this being a doctrine of pure revelation, it cannot be expected that it should be demonstrated by arguments taken from the reason of things: Nor shall I go about to illustrate it by natural similes, which have been observed, by some, to advantage; as that of the soul of man, which consists of the mind, and understanding, and will; which are so distinct from each other, so that the one is not the other, and yet are all but one soul: And also, that of the fun; its beams, and light, which are but one fun: And that of the spring, fountain, and streams, which are but one water. But leaving there, I shall endeavor to prove the point from testimonies of scripture, out of the Old and New Testament. And shall begin, 1. With the creation of all things in general. I before endeavored to prove a plurality in the Godhead, from thence; and shall now attempt to establish a Trinity of Persons. I need not long insist on the proof of the Father’s concern in the creation of all things; since he is said ( Ephesians 3:9. Hebrews 1:2.) to have “created all things by Jesus Christ ;” and by him, his Son, to have” made the worlds.” The apostles ( Acts 4:24,26,27) addressed him as the Lord God, who “made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is;” against whole Christ, and holy child, Jesus, “both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together”. Nor need there be any hesitation concerning the Word, or the second person’s having an hand in this great work; seeing the Evangelist John s ays of the Word ( John 1:3), who was in the beginning with God, and was God; that” all things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made”. It was he, the Word, that so often laid, Let it be so, and it was so. And as for the holy Spirit, it was he that “moved upon the face of the waters”, and brought the rude and confused chaos into a beautiful order. The Lord, “by his Spirit, hath garnished the heavens; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent”. ( Job 26:13. <19A430> Psalm 104:30.)
When he sent forth his Spirit, all his creatures were brought into being; and by him, the face of the earth is renewed every returning spring; which is little less than a new creation. And you’ll find all these three mentioned together, as concerned in the great work of creation: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hope of them by the breath of his mouth”. ( Psalm 33:6) Where by the Lord, is meant God the Father; and by his word, the Lo>gov , or Word that was with him from everlasting; and by the breath or spirit of his mouth, the Holy Ghost. Now here are three who were manifestly concerned in the production of all creatures, into being; nor can any one of them be dropped, nor can a fourth be added to them. It remains then, that there is a Trinity in the Godhead. 2. This will further appear from the creation of man in particular; in which, as it is easy to observe a plurality, so it is to behold a Trinity. If God the Father, made the heaven, and the earth, and the lea, and all that in them is; then he must have made man the principal inhabitant of the lower world:
And if without the Word was not any thing made that was made; then without him man was not made, who was made. Betides, Christ, the Word, is called the Lord, our Maker: ( Psalm 95:6,7,8) “O come let us worship and bow down, let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God, and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand; to day if ye will hear his voice”.
Which words are expressly applied to Christ, by the author of the epistle ( Hebrews 3:6,7) to the Hebrews. In his hand are all God’s elect, who may be truly called the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand; being his care and charge, and constantly fed and preserved by him. To none so properly as to Christ do those words belong in the prophesy of Isaiah : “Thy Maker is thine husband, and thy Redeemer the holy one of Israel”; he being in a peculiar sense, the Husband and Redeemer of his people. And as for the Holy Ghost, ‘tis expressly said of him, by Elihu ( Job 33:4): “The Spirit of God hath made me; and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life”.
From the whole it appears, That as there was a plurality concerned in the formation of man, this plurality was neither more, nor fewer than three; which are the Father, the Word, and the Spirit; and which three are but one God: For “have ( Malachi 2:10) we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us”? 3. In the account which is given Isaiah 63:7, 9, 10, 11, 14. of the people of Israel’s deliverance out of Egypt, and of their protection and guidance through the wilderness, is a clear testimony of a Trinity of Persons in the Deity; where there are three distinctly mentioned; and to them distinct personal characters and actions are ascribed. There is, first, the Lord, Jehovah the Father, whole mercies and loving kindnesses towards the house of Israel, are taken notice of in ver. 7. and they are said to be his people, and he to be their Savior, in ver. 8. And betides him, there is mention made in ver. 9. of the angel of his presence, as distinct from him; and who also showed to the people of Israel, great love, pity, and compassion; and in consequence of it, saved them, and redeemed them, and bore them, and carried them all the days of old; all which cannot be said of a created angel: Nor are they applicable to mere frames and characters.
And then the holy Spirit is introduced, not as a mere name or character, but as a distinct divine person, in ver. 10. 11, 14. against whom the Israelites rebelled, and whom they vexed; insomuch that he turned to be their enemy, and fought against them: And yet, though they thus provoked him, he led them on, and caused them to rest, to make himself a glorious name. 4. This truth may receive some further confirmation, from the consideration of the covenant of grace; in which, all the three persons are manifestly concerned. The Father made the covenant; the Son is become the Surety, Mediator, and Messenger of it; and the Spirit of God stands by, as a witness to it; and to see all the articles agreed upon between the Father and the Son, performed on each fide. The Father’s part in this covenant, was to fill it with all spiritual blessings and suitable promises; the Son’s part was to receive them all, in the name, and on the behalf of all the elect; and the Spirit’s part is to apply all, in time, to the promised seed. You have them all distinctly mentioned in Haggai 2:4, 5. where the Lord, by the prophet, exhorts Zerubbabel, and Joshua, the high priest, and all the people of the land, to be strong, and work, in rebuilding the temple; and for their encouragement, adds: “For I am with you, faith the Lord of Hosts, Cum verbo, quo pepigeram vobiscum, with the Word, in whom I covenanted with you, (as Junius reads the text) when ye came out of Egypt; so my Spirit remaineth among you: Fear ye not”. Where it may be observed, That here is Jehovah, the Lord of Hosts, the first person who promises to be with them, together with the Word, the second person, in whom he covenanted with them, when they came out of Egypt; at which time God was pleased more largely than heretofore, to reveal the covenant of his grace, which he had made with his Word, from everlasting: And then here is the Spirit of God, the third person, who was remaining, tdm[ standing, continuing, and abiding among them, to see that there was a performance, and to make an application of all that Jehovah, and his Word, had covenanted about, and had agreed unto.
But before I proceed further, I shall briefly consider the notions of a late f61 writer; concerning the covenant, who seems to be aware, that the common notion of the covenant of grace, as an agreement, or compact by stipulation, between two, at least, will furnish out an argument for a distinction of Persons in the Godhead; which he is not willing to allow of. I overlook his mistake in calling that a covenant of peace, in Zechariah 6:13. which is only a council of peace, and has no reference to any eternal transaction between God and the Lamb; the transaction being past in eternity: And this. whatever is meant by it, was future, was to come, when the prophesy was given forth. The text does not say, the council of peace was, but shall be between them both. ‘Tis true indeed, there was an eternal transaction between God and Christ, which may be called a council of peace; because it was concerning the peace and reconciliation of God’s elect: And it is, perhaps, in allusion to this text, that it is so called by divines; but the thing it fell is not intended in it, but something else; namely, that peace which should be between Jew and Gentile, as the consequence of peace made by the blood of Christ, and of his preaching it to them both, by his apostles. But to proceed: This author tells us, That by the covenant, “we are not to understand a striking of hands, as some men boldly speak, as the Father proposed conditions to the Word, which he complied with on the behalf of sinners”.
As to the phrase of striking of hands, ‘tis used among men to express a mutual agreement; and so it is used in scripture, Job 17:3. <200601>Proverbs 6:1. and 22:26. And when it has been used by divines, with respect to the covenant, and the concern of Christ in it, they only design by it to express the suretyship-engagements of Christ, and the mutual agreement between the Father and him, respecting the elect. And this figurative expression need not be accounted a bold one, since the act signified by it, was performed by one who thought it no robbery to be equal with God.
Moreover, the Father did propose conditions to the Word, or things upon condition to him. For instance, upon condition of his making” his soul ( Isaiah 53:10,11,12) an offering for sin”; he proposed to him, that he should “see of the travail of his soul, and be satisfied and by his knowledge justify many”. He proposed to him a great reward, and promised to “divide him a portion with the great, and the spoil with the strong”, on condition of his “pouring out his soul unto death; being numbered with the transgressors, and bearing the sin of many; and making intercession for transgressors”. And with all this, the Word, or Son of God, complied, and said: “Lo, I come: In the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: Yea, thy law is within my heart”. ( Psalm 40:7,8) This author goes or, in order to remove the notion of agreement by stipulation from the covenant, to tell us, That the word covenant is used to signify a promise; and for the proof of this, cites Galatians 3:15, 16, 17.
Now granting this, that the covenant of grace is a promise of eternal life to God’s elect; it should be observed, that this promise was made before the world began; and so could not be made to the elect, as personally exiling; but must be made to Christ, with respect to them, into whose hands it was certainly put: Hence we read ( 2 Timothy 1:1) of “the promise of life, which is in Christ Jesus”. So that the argument for a distinction of Persons, is as strong, when taken from a promise, as from the covenant. For if the Father made a promise to the Word, the Word, to whom this promise is made, must be distinct from him, by whom it is made. And after all, this author is obliged to acknowledge, that the “sure and everlasting covenant is made of our God with his Christ and in him, and with respect to him, with his people”; which is the substance of what found divines say concerning the covenant. 5. The doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, may be learnt from the economy of man’s salvation, in which the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, are concerned, and take, by agreement, their distinct parts. Thus we find in scripture, that election is, in a more peculiar manner, ascribed to the Father, redemption to the Son, and sanctification to the Spirit. And we meet with them all in one verse ( 1 Peter 1:2): “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ”.
But no where are those acts of divine grace more distinctly ascribed to each person, than in the first chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians; where, in ver. 3, 4, 5, 6. the God and Father of Christ, is laid to biers his people with all spiritual blessings in him; to choose them in him before the foundation of the world; and to predestinate them unto the adoption of children by him; and to make them accepted in the beloved. After which, in ver. 7. Jesus Christ is spoken of as the author of redemption, in whom the saints have the remission of sin, and a justifying righteousness, whereby they come to have a right to the glorious inheritance, ver. 11. and then in ver. 13, 14. the holy Spirit is mentioned with a distinction from the Father, and from Christ, as the earnest of this inheritance, by whom believers are sealed up, until they come to the full and actual possession of it. 6. The Lord Jesus Christ was sent in the fullness of time, to work out the salvation of his people; and the account which is given of his mission, to this work, in Isaiah 48:16 “And now the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me”, is a clear proof of three distinct Persons in the Deity. The only difficulty in determining the sense these words, lies in fixing the person who is laid to be sent by the Lord and his Spirit. And, that a divine person, and not the prophet Isaiah, as some think, is here intended, will appear from the context. He that speaks here, and says, “I have not spoken in secret from the beginning, from the time that it was, there am I; and now the Lord God and his Spirit hath sent me”; is no other than he, who in ver. 12. 13. says of himself, “I am he, I am the first, I also am the last. Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand hath spanned the heavens”, And this fame person is continued speaking, in ver. 14. 15. unto the words under consideration, From whence it is manifest, that it is a divine person, the mighty Jehovah, the Word of God, who is here said to be sent by his Father and the Spirit; which are not so many names and characters of one and the fame person. For then the sense of the words would be: And now I, and my fell, have sent myself; which is no sense at all. 7. The Son of God, being lent in the fullness of time to redeem his people, was made of a woman. God was manifest in the flesh, the divine Word was incarnate; upon which occasion all the three Persons appear; though but one of them was made flesh, and dwelt among us. Mention is made of them all three in the account of the incarnation, which was given by the angel to Mary, in Luke 1:32.35. where we read of the Highest, that is, the Father, who is the most high God; and of the Son of the Highest, which is the Lord Jesus Christ, who took flesh of the virgin; and of the Holy Ghost, or power of the highest, to whose overshadowing influence the mysterious incarnation is owing. 8. Christ being sent, and having united an human nature to his divine person, he was anointed by, and with the Holy Ghost; whereby he was fitted and qualified for his office, as Mediator. This is prophetically expressed, in <236301>Isaiah 63:1. “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because he hath anointed me, etc.” where ‘tis easy to observe three divine Persons: The Anointer is the Spirit of the Lord; the Anointed is the Messiah, the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ: And betides there, here is the Lord, or Jehovah, by whole Spirit he was anointed. Much to the same purpose is <234201>Isaiah 42:1. Under this head may be very properly reduced the unction and sealing of believers with Christ; the account of which is given in 2 Corinthians 1:21. 22. “Now he which establisheth us, with you, in Christ, and hath anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts”.
Where God the Father is considered as the Establisher and Anointer; and Jesus Christ, as a distinct person, in whom the saints were established and anointed; and the Spirit as distinct from them both, as the earnest of their future glory. 9. Christ, the Word, being made flesh, and dwelling among men, when he was about thirty years of age was baptized of John in Jordan; at which time the Holy Ghost descended like a dove, and lighted on him; and a voice was heard from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. ( Matthew 3:16,17) Here was the Son of God submitting to the ordinance of baptism; and the Father, by a voice, declaring him to be his Son; and the Spirit of God descending on him as a dove. This has been thought so full a proof of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, that it was a common laying with the ancients: Go to Jordan, and there learn the doctrine of the Trinity. A late writer seems to intimate, that this proof is insufficient; and that it was not the Father’s voice which was heard; since our Lord has said: ( John 5:37) “And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath born witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape”.
The meaning of which words I take to be this, That though the Father’s shape was never seen, nor his voice heard, under the Old Testamentdispensation, but only that of the Word, who was to be incarnate; yet the Father had, by a voice from heaven, born witness to the Son-ship of Christ:
And therefore the Jews were the more inexcusable in not believing on him; since the Father had, in such a peculiar way, which he had never used before, given testimony to him. The said author endeavors to support his hypothesis from a text in John 12:28. 29. where, upon hearing a voice from heaven, some of the people that stood by, said it thundered; others said, that an angel spake to him. Upon which, this writer observes, that he “doubted not, many amongst us, who profess themselves Christ’s disciples, would think both those sentiments of the Jews alike mistaken, had not our Lord himself determined it”.
And I must take the liberty to tell this author, That many do think, and that very justly, that both those sentiments of the Jews were alike mistaken; and that because our Lord himself, in ver. 28. has determined it to be the voice of his Father. It was not an angel that spoke; nor was it the voice of an angel that was heard at his baptism, any more than at his transfiguration; when “he ( 2 Peter 1:17) received, from God the Father, honor and glory; when there came such a voice to him, from the excellent glory,” This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased”. The same writer insinuates as though it was not the likeness of the holy Spirit, which was seen at Christ’s baptism; because the holy Spirit is invisible; but that this likeness was ministerial: And gives, as he thinks, a parallel instance in the book of the Revelations; where, he supposes, a created angel appeared in the likeness of Christ; and in his name, laid, I am the Alpha and Omega, etc. which I apprehend to be a very great mistake. For the angel, by whom Christ made known the Revelation to John, is not the same with him, whom John s aw in the vision, in the midst of the golden candlesticks, and who said the above mentioned. It is not usual for those who are messengers, ambassadors, or legates, to say, they are the very persons by whom they are sent; nor could a created angel, without blasphemy, say, that he was the first and the last, which is peculiar to the Most High God.
In fine, I apprehend that the voice, which was heard at Christ’s baptism, was an articulate voice, formed by God; that it was not the voice of an angel, nor the voice of the Son, nor of the Spirit, but of the Father only:
And the likeness which was seen, was not the likeness of an angel, nor of the Son, nor of the Father, but of the Spirit, which was assumed pro tempore; as he afterwards appeared in the shape of cloven tongues, like as of fire, and sat upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost. And now I am speaking of the baptism of Christ, it may be proper to mention ours, which ought to be performed “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy”. We are not baptized into three names or characters, but in the one name of three Persons distinct, though not divided from each other: “Not into one of three names, as an ancient writer has observed, nor into three incarnates, but into three who are of equal honor and glory.” 10. Our Lord Jesus Christ, not long before his sufferings, and death, made several promises to his disciples, that he would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, unto them; in which there are plain traces of a Trinity of Persons; as when ( John 14:16) he says, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever.”
Nothing is more manifest, than that there are here three distinct Persons.
Here is the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the person praying; and the Father, another person, who is prayed unto; and here is another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth as distinct from the Father, and the Son, who is prayed for. He that prays, cannot be the same person with him who is prayed unto; nor he that is prayed unto, be the same with him that prays; nor he that is prayed for, be the same with him who prays, or is prayed unto. In short, if the distinction between them is not personal, but merely nominal, the sense of the words must be this: I’ll pray myself, and I myself, will give you myself to abide with you for ever. A writer, I have lately mentioned, acknowledges, that I, Thou, and He, are personal characters; and if so, then they, to whom they belong, must be Persons: And if these personal characters belong to Father, Son, and Spirit, they must be Persons. Again, when our Lord says, ( John 14:26) “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will fend in my name, he shall teach you all things, etc.” he gives a plain intimation of a Trinity of Persons, to whom he ascribes distinct personal actions and characters: For otherwise the sense of the words must be, I’ll send myself, in the name of myself, who shall teach you all things, etc. Once more, when he says, f64 “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me;” John 15:26 we may fairly infer a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead. We are indeed told, That “if we consider, the Father dwelleth in, and is one with the Son, he might well say, The Comforter should be sent by him, from the Father, to denote his being enriched immeasurably, by his Father and his God, who is a Spirit.”
That the Father dwells in the Son, and is one with him in nature or essence, is allowed; but unless there is a distinction of Persons between them, he could not well say, that the Comforter should be sent by him, from the Father. 11. Our Lord Jesus Christ, by his sufferings and death, procured eternal redemption for his people. Now the redemption price was paid, the atonement made, and the sacrifice offered up to God, in the person of the Father; and that by the Word, or Son, the second person in human nature; and all this through the eternal Spirit, or third person in the Deity, according to Hebrews 9:14. “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God, etc.”
Some indeed, by the eternal Spirit, understand the divine nature of Christ.
But it is not an usual phrase in scripture, to say, That Christ did this, or the other thing by his divine nature; but it is usual to say, That he did this, or the other thing by the Spirit. Thus he is said ( Matthew 12:28. Haggai 1:2.) to “cast out devils by the Spirit of God;” and to “give commandments to the apostles, through the Holy Ghost ;” and in some copies of Hebrews 9:14. it is read, through the Holy Spirit. 12. Christ having suffered and died in the room and stead of his people, was buried, and the third day was raised from the dead; when “he was declared to be the Son of God, with power, according to the Spirit of Holiness:” ( Romans 1:4) All the three divine Persons were concerned herein. That God the Father raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, will not be denied: And it is very evident, that he railed himself according to his own prediction. Nor must the Spirit be excluded, who will have so great a share in the resurrection of our bodies at the last day: For “if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead, dwell in you; he that raised up Christ from the dead, shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” ( Romans 8:11) 13. And now I am speaking of Christ’s resurrection, it may not be improper to take notice of the work of regeneration, which is sometimes ascribed to it; and which work is the work of Father, Son, and Spirit.
Sometimes it is given to the Father of Christ, as in 1 Peter 1:3. and sometimes to the Son, as in 1 John 2:29. and sometimes to the Spirit, as in Titus 3:4, 5, 6. where you’ll meet with all the three Persons together, by observing, that God, our Savior, in ver. 4. is manifestly distinguished from Jesus Christ our Savior, in ver. 6. and the Holy Ghost is distinguished from them both, in ver. 5 to whom the washing of regeneration and the work of renovation are ascribed. 14. Adoption is an act of divine grace, in which all the three Persons appear. The Father of Christ predestinates to the adoption of children; Christ gives the right and power to as many as believe in him, to become the sons of God; and the Spirit witnesseth, with our spirits, that we are the children of God. Hence one of his titles is, The Spirit of adoption. And they are all three to be seen together in one verse. “And because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba Father;” ( Galatians 4:6) where God the Father is spoken of as distinct from his Son, and his Son as distinct from him, and the Spirit as distinct from them both. 15. The children of God, after conversion, need fresh divine illuminations; for which the apostle prays, in Ephesians 1:17, 18. “That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give unto you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, in the knowledge of him: The eyes of your understanding being enlightened, etc.”
Which prayer is no inconsiderable proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. Here is the God and Father of Christ, who is prayed unto; and the Spirit of wisdom who is prayed for; and that in order to the saints increase in the knowledge of Christ, who is distinct both from the Father and the Spirit. 16. The apostle not only prays for greater illuminations, but, in Ephesians 3:14, 15, 16. for larger supplies of grace and strength: “For this cause, says he, I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man.”
He bows his knees to the Father of Christ, as a distinct person from him, whom he describes as the God of the universe, and implores his Spirit to strengthen the saints with might in their inner man. 17. Though the love of God is plenteously shed abroad in the hearts of his people, at their first conversion, yet they have need to be afresh directed into it by the Spirit of God. Hence the apostle put up such a fervent prayer for the Thessalonians, “The Lord direct your hearts in to the love of God, and patient waiting for Jesus Christ.” 2 Thessalonians 3:5.
By the Lord, we are to understand the Lord the Spirit, as he is called in 2 Corinthians 3:18. being manifestly distinguished from God the Father, into whose love, and from Jesus Christ, into a patient waiting for whom, he is desired to direct their hearts, which is his proper work and business. 18. And since I have mentioned several petitions, it may not be amiss to consider the object of prayer, and our manner of address to him. The object of prayer, is the one God, the Father, Son, and Spirit. Sometimes the God and Father of Christ is tingly addressed, as in some of the preceding instances; and frequently grace and peace are wished for from Jesus Christ, as well as from the Father; sometimes supplication is made to the Spirit, as in the instance last mentioned; and sometimes we find them all three addressed together, as in Revelation 1:4, 5. “John to the seven churches which are in Asia: Grace be unto you, and peace, from him which is, and which was, and which is to come:” Which is a periphrasis of Jehovah the Father. “And from the seven spirits which are before his throne:” By whom we are not to understand angels, the worshipping of them being forbidden. Betides, it is absurd to imagine that grace and peace should be wished for from them, equally as from God; or that they should be put upon a level with Jehovah, and set before the Lord Jesus Christ. But by these seven Spirits are meant the Holy Spirit of God; so called because of the fullness and perfection of his gifts and grace; and in allusion to his revert names in Isaiah 11:2, 3. and with a view to the seven churches of Asia , who were under his influence. And then it is added, “And from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth ;” about whom there is no difficulty. Our manner of address in prayer is to God, in the person of the Father, though not exclusive of the Son, and Spirit; and through the Lord Jesus Christ, as Mediator; and by the assistance of the blessed Spirit:
Which furnishes out a considerable argument for a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, and is very fully and distinctly expressed by the apostle, in Ephesians 2:18. “For through him, i.e. Christ, we both have an access, by one Spirit unto the Father.”
A late writer conceives, the words “should be thus understood, that God brings Jews and Gentiles, by his powerful influence, as one Spirit through Christ unto himself, as their common Father:” And to this purpose our Lord says, No man can come to me, except the Father who hath sent me, draw him.” But it ought to be observed, that the apostle is speaking, not of God’s bringing souls to himself, through Christ, by his powerful and efficacious grace, as at conversion, but of the comfortable access of his people already converted to himself, through Christ, by the Spirit of Grace; much less does he speak of their being brought as one Spirit, but by one Spirit; and that unto God, as their Father, in a way of special grace and favor. But to go on, 19. I might instance in the inspiration of the scriptures, which is wholly a divine Work, and is peculiarly ascribed to the Holy Ghost, though not to the exclusion of the Father, and of the Son: For David, in his last words, assures us, That the writings which he was the penman of, as the sweet psalmist of Israel, were dictated to him by the eternal Three; when he says, in 2 Samuel 23:2, 3. “The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, The rock of Israel spake, to me, etc.”
By the God of Israel I understand God the Father, the mighty God of Jacob; from whence is the Messiah, the shepherd and stone of Israel: And by the rock of Israel, I understand the Messiah, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, and prince of peace; who is sometimes figuratively called the rock: And by the Spirit of the Lord, the third person, under whole influential motions and directions the psalmist spoke and wrote. 20. There are several passages in scripture, where the name Jehovah is three times mentioned, and that only; and where an epithet of the divine Being is three times repeated; which, though they do not prove the doctrine of the Trinity, yet they cast some light upon it; and one cannot well read them without taking some notice of it, as Numbers 6:24, 2 5, 26. “The Lord bless thee and keep thee: The Lord make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The Lord lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.” Isaiah 33:22. “The Lord is our Judge., the Lord is our Lawgiver, the Lord is our King, he will save us.” Daniel 9:19. “O Lord hear, O Lord forgive, O Lord hearken and do, etc.” The angels, in their adoration of God, say, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord of Hosts,” Isaiah 6:3. Revelation 4:8. Lastly, I shall conclude this argument with the apostle’s final benediction to the church at Corinth, 2 Corinthians 13:14. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.” Where not only three distinct Persons are mentioned, but distinct personal actions are ascribed to them. Now this account I may venture to call the scripture-doctrine of the Trinity. And though I do not suppose that every proof I have produced, carries equal evidence in it; yet, when taken altogether, that man must willfully shut his eyes, that cannot see plain intimations of a Trinity of Persons in one God, in the scriptures.