A Body of Doctrinal Divinity
Book 1—Chapter 26
Of The Unity Of God.
Having treated of the attributes of God, I shall now proceed to prove that this God, who is possessed of all these great and glorious perfections, is but "one". This is a first principle, and not to be doubted of; it is a most certain truth, most surely to be believed, and with the greatest confidence to be asserted; as he is a fool that says there is no God, he is equally so, who says there are more than one; and, indeed, as Tertullian[a] observes, if God is not one, he is not at all. This is the first and chief commandment which God has given, and requires an assent and obedience to; on which all religion, doctrine, and faith depend, (Mark 12:28-30) it is the voice both of reason and revelation; it is discernible by the light of nature; what teaches men there is a God, teaches them there is but one: and though when men neglected the true God, and his worship, and liked not to retain him in their knowledge, he gave them up to a reprobate mind, to judicial blindness, to believe the Father of lies, who led them on by degrees into the grossest idolatry; yet the wiser and better sort of them, though they complied with the custom of countries in which they lived, and paid a lesser sort of worship to the rabble of inferior deities, in which they are not at all to be excused from idolatry; yet they held and owned one supreme Being, whom they often call the Father of the gods and men[b]; the chief God with the Assyrians, as Macrobius relates[c], was called Adad; which, he says, signifies "one"; and with the Phoenicians, Adodus, the King of the gods[d]; the same with דחא, "one". That there is but one God, is an article in the Jewish Creed, and which still continues; and no wonder, since it stands in such a glaring light in the writings of the Old Testament, and is as clearly and as strongly asserted in the New; so that "we" Christians "know" assuredly, "that there is none God but one" (1 Cor. 8:4). It is a truth agreed on by all, by Jews and Gentiles; by Jewish doctors[e], and heathen poets and philosophers[f]; by Old and New Testament saints; by the holy angels; and even by the devils themselves: it must be right and well to believe it. The apostle James commends the faith of it; "Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well; the devils also believe and tremble" (James 2:19). But I go on,
1. First, To give the proof of this doctrine; which may be taken partly from express passages of scripture, both in the Old and New Testament (see Deut. 6:4; Ps. 86:10; Isa. 43:10, 44:6, 8, 45:5, 6, 14, 18, 21, 22, 46:9; Mark 12:29; John 17:3; Rom. 3:30; 1 Cor. 8:4-6; Eph. 4:6; 1 Tim. 2:5). The sense of these scriptures will be observed hereafter; and partly from the perfections of God, and his relations to his creatures.
The necessary existence of God is a proof of his unity. The existence of God must be either of necessity, or of will and choice; if of will and choice, then it must be either of the will and choice of another, or of his own; not of another, for then that other would be prior and superior to him, and so be God, and not he: not of his own will and choice, for then he must be before himself, and be and not be at the same instant; which is such an absurdity and contradiction as is not to be endured. It remains, therefore, that he necessarily exists; and if so, there can be but one God; for no reason can be given why there should be, or can be, more than one necessarily existent Being.
God is the first Being, the cause of all other beings; he is the first Cause, and last End of all things; the mind of man, from effects, rises to the knowledge of causes; and from one cause, to the cause of that; and so proceeds on until it arrives to the first Cause, which is without a cause, and is what is truly called God; and as therefore there is but one first Cause, there can be but one God; so, according to Pythagoras and Plato, unity is the principle of all things[g].
God, the first Cause, who is without a cause, and is the Cause of all, is independent; all owe their existence to him, and so depend upon him for the preservation, continuance, and comfort of their being; all live, and move, and have their being in him; but he, receiving his being from none, is independent of any; which can only be said of one; there is but one independent Being, and therefore but one God.
God is an eternal Being, before all things, from everlasting to everlasting; and there can be but one. Eternal, and so but one God; "before me", says he, "there was no God formed; neither shall there be after me", (Isa. 43:10) if then no other, then but one God.
God is infinite and incomprehensible; as he is not bounded by time, so not by space; he is not contained or included anywhere, nor comprehended by any. To suppose two infinites, the one must either reach unto, comprehend, and include the other, or not; if it does not, then it is not infinite, and so not God; if it does reach unto, comprehend, and include the other, then that which is comprehended, and included by it, is finite, and so not God; therefore it is clear there cannot be more infinites than one; and if but one infinite, then but one God.
Omnipotence is a perfection of God; he claims this title to himself, The Lord God almighty: now there cannot be more than one Almighty; omnipotence admits of no degrees; it cannot be said, there is one that is almighty, and another that is more almighty, and a third that is most almighty; there is but one Almighty, and so but one God, who can do all things whatsoever he pleases; nothing is too hard, too difficult, or impossible to him; nor can any turn back his hand, or stay and stop him from acting. To suppose two almighties, either the one can lay a restraint upon the other, and hinder him from acting, or he cannot; if he cannot, then he is not almighty, the other is mightier than he; if he can, then he on whom the restraint is laid, and is hindered from acting, is not almighty, and so not God; and therefore there can be but one God.
God is good, essentially, originally, and inderivatively; the source and fountain of all goodness; "There is none good but one", says Christ, "that is, God", (Matthew 19:17) and therefore but one God. The heathens call their supreme God "Optimus", the best; and there call be none better than the best. He is the "summum bonum", the chief good; and that is but one, and therefore but one God.
God is a perfect Being; "your heavenly Father", says Christ, "is perfect", (Matthew 5:48) he is perfect and entire, wanting nothing, completely perfect: now if there are more gods than one, there must be some essential difference by which they are distinguished from one another, and that must be either an excellency or an imperfection; if the latter, then he to whom it belongs is not God, because not perfect; if the former, he in whom it is, is distinguished from all others in whom it is not, and so is the one and only God.
The true God is "El-Shaddai", God all-sufficient, stands in need of nothing; for of him, and by him, and for him, are all things. All-sufficiency can only be said of One, of Him who is the first Cause and last End of all things; and which, as he is but one, so but one God.
Once more, There is but one Creator; whom all receive their beings from, are supported by, and accountable to, (Mal. 2:10) but one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy, (James 4:12) one King and Governor of the world; one kingdom, which belongs to him; who is the King of kings, and Lord of lords. Were there more than one, the greatest confusion would be introduced in the world; if there were more than one that had the sovereign sway, different and contrary laws, edicts, and decrees, might be published, and subjects would not know whom they were to obey, and what their duty to be performed by them; or whose laws they should pay a regard unto. I proceed,
2. Secondly, To explain the sense in which this article of one God is to be understood. And,
2a. First, It is not to be understood in the Arian sense, that there is one supreme God, and two subordinate or inferior ones. This is no other than what is the notion of the better and wiser sort of pagans, as before observed: and if revelation carries us no further than what the light of nature discovers, and that since the fall, and in its corrupt state, we gain nothing by it, with respect to the knowledge of God; nor are the expressions concerning the unity of the divine Being, which are in the Scriptures levelled so much against the notion of more supreme gods, which is a notion that could never prevail much among the heathens; and is so absurd and contradictory, that there is no danger of mens' giving into it; but against petty and inferior deities men might be tempted to embrace and worship. Besides, if two subordinate and inferior deities may be admitted, consistent with one God, why not two hundred, or two thousand? no reason can be given why the one should not stand as much excluded as the other: and again, those deities are either creators or creatures; if creators, then they are the one supreme God; for to create is peculiar to him; but if creatures, for there is no medium between the Creator and the creature, then they are not gods that made the heavens and the earth; and so come under the imprecation of the prophet, "The gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish, or may they perish from the earth, and from under these heavens", (Jer. 10:11) to which may be added, that such are not entitled to religious worship, which would be worshipping the creature besides and together with the Creator, and would be a breach of the first command, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Rom. 1:25; Ex. 20:1, 2).
2b. Nor is this article to be understood in the Sabellian sense, that God is but one person; for though there is but one God, there are three persons in the Godhead, which the Sabellians deny; who are so called from one Sabellius who lived in the middle of the third century; though this notion was breached before him by Noetus[h], whose followers were called Noetians and Patripassians, asserting, in consequence of their principles, that the Father became incarnate, suffered, and died: and before them Victorinus and Praxeas[i] were much of the same opinion, against whom Tertullian wrote, and who speaks[j] of one sort of the Cataphrygians who held that Jesus Christ was both Son and Father; and even it may be traced up as high as Simon Magus, who asserted that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, were only different names of one and the same person, according to his different way of operation[k]: and as before his pretended conversion he gave out that he was some great one, (Acts 8:9) so he did afterwards, and said he was the Father in Samaria, the Son in Judea, and the Holy Ghost in the rest of the nations[l]. Our Socinians and modern Unitarians are much of the same sentiment with the Sabellians in this respect; and some who profess evangelical doctrines have embraced it, or are nibbling at it; fancying they have got new light, when they have only imbibed an old stale-error, an ancient work of darkness, which has been confuted over and over. If the Father, Son, and Spirit, were but one person, they could not be three testifiers, as they are said to be, (1 John 5:7) to testify is a personal action; and if the Father is one that bears record, the Son another, and the Holy Ghost a third, they must be three persons, and not One only; and when Christ says, "I and my Father are one", (John 10:30) he cannot mean one person, for this is to make him say what is the most absurd and contradictory; as that I and myself are one, or that I am one, and my Father who is another, are one person; but of this more hereafter.
2c. Nor is this doctrine to be understood in a Tritheistic sense, that is, that there are three essences or beings numerically distinct, which maybe said to be one, because of the same nature; as three men may be said to be one, because of the same human nature; but this is to assert three Gods and not one; this the Trinitarians indeed are often charged with, and they as often deny the charge; for though they affirm the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, yet not that they are three Gods, but one God. For,
2d. They assert, that there is but one divine essence, undivided, and common to Father, Son, and Spirit, and in this sense but one God; since there is but one essence, though there are different modes of subsisting in it which are called persons; and these possess the whole essence undivided; that is to say, not that the Father has one part, the Son another, and the Holy Spirit a third; but as the whole fulness of the Godhead dwells in the Father, so in the Son, who has all that the Father has, (John 15:16; Col. 2:9) and so in the Spirit, and therefore but one God. This unity of them is not an unity of testimony only; for it is not said of them as of the three that bear record on earth, that they "agree in one", but that they "are one", (1 John 5:7, 8) but it is an unity of nature; they have one and the same infinite and undivided nature; and this unity is not an unity of parts, which makes one compositum, as the body and soul of man do; for God is a simple and uncompounded Spirit; nor an unity of genus and species, under which may be many singulars of the same kind, but God is one in number and nature, and stands opposed to the polytheism of the heathens, who had gods many and lords many, (1 Cor. 8:4, 5) and to all nominal and figurative deities, as angels, civil magistrates, judges, &c. even to all who are not by nature God (Gal. 4:8). Nor is this unity of God to be objected to and set aside by the many names of God, as El, Elohim, Jehovah, &c. since these are names of the one God, as one and the same man may have different names, and yet but one; nor by the "many attributes" of God, which do not differ from him, nor from one another, but are all one in God, and are himself; though distinctly considered by us, because our understandings are too weak to take them in as in the gross, but to consider them apart, as has been observed. Nor by the "persons" in the Godhead being more than one; for though three persons, they differ not from the divine essence, nor from one another, but by their distinctive modes of subsisting, and are but one God. Nor are those passages of scripture which assert the unity of God to be appropriated to one person only, to the exclusion of the others; but to be considered as including each.
The famous passage in Deuteronomy 6:4 which is introduced in a solemn manner, exciting attention, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord!" and which Christ refers the scribe to as the first and chief command, (Mark 12:28, 29) asserts that there is but one Jehovah; but not that this is peculiar to the Father, and as exclusive of the Son and Spirit; for Christ the Son of God is Jehovah, and is often so called (see Ex. 17:7; Num. 21:6 compared with 1 Cor. 10:9; Jer. 23:6; Zech. 12:10) and so the Holy Ghost, (Isa. 6:1, 5, 8, 9 compared with Acts 28:25, 26 and these) with the Father, are the one Lord or Jehovah; and are manifestly included in Elohenu, a word of the plural number, and may be rendered our Gods, or rather our divine persons are one Lord; for Christ the Son is one of them, who is that God whose throne is for ever and ever; and the Spirit that God, or divine person, who anointed Christ as man, (Ps. 45:6, 7) and that the three divine persons who are the one Jehovah are here meant, is not only the sense of Christian[m] writers but even of the ancient Jews and besides, the Son and Spirit are entitled to the same sincere and fervent love of men as the Father, and which is required to be given to the one Jehovah, even Father, Son, and Spirit.
The several passages in Isaiah before referred to, and which so strongly assert the unity of the Divine Being, cannot be understood to the exclusion of the Son and Spirit. In one of them, (Isa. 44:6) the only Lord God calls himself "the first and the last", a title which also Christ the Son of God claims as his, (Rev. 1:8) yea in the same passage the one God styles himself the Redeemer, a name very peculiar to the Son, who agreed to be the Redeemer; came in the fulness of time as such, and has obtained eternal redemption for men: and in another of those passages, (Isa. 45:21) the only Lord God is spoken of as a Saviour; and in (Isa. 45:22) Christ is represented as a Saviour inviting and encouraging persons to look to him for salvation, enforcing it with this reason, for I am God, and there is none else: now as the Father cannot be supposed to be excluded hereby, so neither should the Son and Spirit be thought to be excluded by similar expressions elsewhere; besides, the following verse (Isa. 45:23) is manifestly applied to Christ by the Apostle (Rom. 14:10, 11).
The words of our Lord Jesus Christ, (John 17:3) which affirm the Father to be the only true God, cannot be understood to the exclusion of himself; "this is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent": since Christ also is called the only Lord God, (Jude 1:4) and the true God and eternal life, (1 John 5:20) nor would he have joined himself so closely with the only true God, if he was not so; but he thought it no robbery to be equal with him, yea one with him; of the same nature, power, and glory; and besides, eternal life is made as much to depend on the knowledge of Christ as of his Father; (see John 6:47, 53, 54) the reason of this mode of expression, distinguishing the one from the other, is because Christ is described by his office as sent of God.
In Romans 3:30 it is said, "It is one God which shall justify the circumcision by faith, and uncircumcision through faith"; that is, there is one God of Jews and Gentiles, which this is said to prove, (Rom. 3:29) but Christ cannot stand excluded from the one God that justifies, since he is Jehovah our righteousness, and the Sun of righteousness, (Jer. 23:6; Mal. 4:2) and it is not only his righteousness by which men are justified, Jews and Gentiles; but he himself justifies them by his knowledge, that is, by faith, (Isa. 53:11) nor the Holy Spirit, who brings near Christ's righteousness, and applies it; works faith to receive it, and pronounces men justified by it (1 Cor. 6:11).
The text in (1 Cor. 8:6) which expresses the faith of Christians, there is "but one God the Father, of whom are all things", stands opposed not to any other persons in the Godhead, but to the many lords and gods among the heathens, (1 Cor. 8:5) nor is the Father called the Father of Christ, or opposed to him, but the Father of all; that is, the Creator; see (Mal. 2:10) in which character, the Son and Spirit are included (Eccl. 12:1). Besides, if Christ could be thought to stand excluded from the one God, the Father, by the same rule of interpretation, God the Father must stand excluded from the one Lord, said of Christ in the same text; and these observations may be applied to (Eph. 4:5, 6) and will serve to clear and explain the words there to the same sense.
It is also said in (1 Tim. 2:5) that "there is one God, and one Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus": now the reason why Christ is spoken of as distinct from the one God, though not different, is for the sake of the mention of him in his office as Mediator; but then if he was not the one God, with the other divine persons; or the true God, and the great God, he could not be a Mediator between God and man; he could not be a daysman between them, and lay his hands on both; he could not draw nigh to God, and entreat with him about peace and reconciliation; and much less make peace for men, and be a ransom for them; as in the following verse: but after all, though there are three persons in the Godhead, as will more clearly appear hereafter, and none of them stand excluded from Deity, yet there is but one God; this is an article that must be inviolably maintained.
The doctrine of the unity of the divine Being, is of great importance in religion; especially in the affair of worship. God, the one only God, is the object of it. This is the sense of the first and second Commands, which forbid owning any other God but one, and the worship of any creature whatever, angels or men, or any other creature, and the likeness of them; which to do is to worship the creature, besides, or along with the Creator. But this hinders not but that the Son and Spirit may have acts of worship performed to them, equally as to the Father; and for this reason, because they are, with him, the one God; hence baptism is administered equally, in the name of all Three; and prayer is jointly made unto them; both solemn acts of religious worship (see Matthew 28:19; Rev. 1:4,5). And this doctrine of the unity of the divine Being, as it fixes and settles the object of worship, so being closely attended to, it guides the mind right in the consideration of it, while worshipping, without any confusion and division in it; for let the direction, or address, be to which person it may, as each may be distinctly addressed; be it to the Father, he is considered in the act of worship, as the one God, with the Son and Spirit; if the address is to the Son, he is considered as the one God, with the Father and the Spirit; or if the address is to the Spirit, he is considered as the one God, with the Father and Son. And this doctrine also serves to fix and settle the object of our faith, hope, and love, without division and distraction of mind; which are not to be exercised on different objects, and to be divided between them; but are to centre in one object, the one only true God, Father, Son, and Spirit; whom alone we are to make our confidence, our hope, and the centre of our affections (Jer. 17:7; Ps. 73:25). As well as this doctrine carries a strong and powerful argument to promote unity, harmony, and concord among the saints; for which it is used in Ephesians 4:3-6.
[a] Adv. Marcion. l. 1. c. 3.
Book 1—Chapter 27
Of A Plurality In The Godhead;
Or, A Trinity Of Persons In The Unity Of The Divine Essence.
Having proved the unity of the divine Being, and explained the sense in which it is to be understood; my next work will be to prove that there is a plurality in the Godhead; or, that there are more persons than one, and that these are neither more, nor fewer, than three; or, that there is a Trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine essence. Some except to these terms, because not literally and syllabically expressed in scripture; as Essence, Unity, Trinity, and Person; of which see the Introduction, see topic (point 5), 741, I shall,
1. First, Prove that there is a plurality of persons in the one God; or, that there are more than one. The Hebrew word םינפ which answers to the Greek word προσωπα, is used of the divine persons, ינפ "My persons shall go with thee", (Ex.. 33:14) and if ךינפ "thy persons go not with me, (Ex.. 33:15) and "he brought thee out וינפב by his persons", (Deut. 4:37). The word is used three times in (Ps. 27:8, 9) and in each clause the Septuagint has the word προσωπον, and which, as Suidas[n] observes, is expressive of the sacred Trinity. That there is such a plurality of persons, will appear more clearly,
1a. From the plural names and epithets of God. His great and incommunicable name Jehovah, is always in the singular number, and is never used plurally; the reason of which is, because it is expressive of his essence, which is but one; it is the same with "I AM that I AM"; but the first name of God we meet with in scripture, and that in the first verse of it, is plural; "In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth", (Gen. 1:1) and therefore must design more than one, at least two, and yet not precisely two, or two only; then it would have been dual; but it is plural; and, as the Jews themselves say, cannot design fewer than three[o]. Now Moses might have made use of other names of God, in his account of the creation; as his name Jehovah, by which he made himself known to him, and to the people of Israel; or Eloah, the singular of Elohim, which is used by him, (Deut. 32:15, 16) and in the book of Job frequently; so that it was not want of singular names of God, nor the barrenness of the Hebrew language, which obliged him to use a plural word; it was no doubt of choice, and with design; and which will be more evident when it is observed, that one end of the writings of Moses is to extirpate the polytheism of the heathens, and to prevent the people of Israel from going into it; and therefore it may seem strange, that he should begin his history with a plural name of God; he must have some design in it, which could not be to inculcate a plurality of gods, for that would be directly contrary to what he had in view in writing, and to what he asserts, (Deut. 6:4). "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord": nor a plurality of mere names and characters, to which creative powers cannot be ascribed; but a plurality of persons, for so the words may be rendered, distributively, according to the idiom of the Hebrew language; "In the beginning everyone, or each of the divine persons, created the heaven and the earth". And then the historian goes on to make mention of them; who, besides the Father, included in this name, are the Spirit of God, that moved upon the face of the waters, and the word of God, (Gen. 1:2) which said, "Let there be light, and there was light"; and which spoke that, and all things, out of nothing; see (John 1:1-3). And it may be further observed, that this plural word Elohim, is, in this passage, in construction with a verb singular, "bara", rendered "created"; which some have thought is designed to point out a plurality of persons, in the unity of the divine essence: but if this is not judged sufficient to build it upon, let it be further observed, that the word Elohim is sometimes in construction with a verb plural, as in (Gen. 20:13; Gen. 35:7; 2 Sam. 7:23) where Elohim, the gods, or divine persons, are said to cause Abraham to wander from his father's house; to appear to Jacob; and to go forth to redeem Israel: all which are personal actions: and likewise it is in construction with adjectives and participles plural, (Deut. 4:7, 5:26; Josh. 24:19; 2 Sam. 7:26, 27; Ps. 58:11, Prov. 30:3; Jer. 10:10) in which places Elohim, gods, or the divine persons, are said to be nigh to the people of Israel; to be living, holy, and to judge in the earth; characters which belong to persons; and now, as a learned man[p] well observes, "that however the construction of a noun plural with a verb singular, may render it doubtful to some whether these words express a plurality or not, yet certainly there can be no doubt in those places, where a verb or adjective plural are joined with the word Elohim''. No such stress is laid on this word, as if it was the clearest and strongest proof of a plurality in the Deity; it is only mentioned, and mentioned first, because it is the most usual name of God, being used of him many hundreds of times in scripture; and what stress is laid upon it, is not merely because it is plural, but because it appears often in an unusual form of construction; it is used of others, but not in such a form; as has been observed. It is used of angels, (Ps. 8:5) they being not only many, but are often messengers of God, of the divine Persons in the Godhead, represent them, and speak in their name. And it is used of civil magistrates, (Ps. 82:6) and so of Moses, as a god to Pharaoh, (Ex. 7:1) as they well may be called, since they are the vicegerents and representatives of the Elohim, the divine Persons, the Triune God; nor need it be wondered at, that it should be sometimes used of a single Person in the Deity, it being common to them all; and since each of them possess the whole divine nature and essence undivided, (Ps. 45:6, 7). The ancient Jews not only concluded a plurality, but even a Trinity, from the word Elohim[q]. With respect to the passage in (Num. 15:16) they say, "There is no judgment less than three"; and that three persons sitting in judgment, the divine Majesty is with them, they conclude from (Ps. 82:1) "he judgeth among the gods", םיהלא. Hence they further observes[r], that
"no sanhedrin, or court of judicature, is called םיהלא unless it consists of three".
From whence it is manifest, that the ancient Jews believed that this name not only inferred a plurality of persons, but such a plurality which consisted of three at least.
Another plural name of God is Adonim; "If I am (Adoaim) Lords, where is my fear?" (Mal.. 1:6) now, though this may be said of one in the second and third persons plural, yet never of one in the first person, as it is here said of God by himself; "I am Lords"; and we are sure there are two, "The Lord said to my Lord", &c. (Ps. 110:1). In Daniel 4:17 the most high God is called the watchers and the Holy Ones; "This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the Holy Ones"; which respects the revolution and destruction of the Babylonian monarchy; an affair of such moment and importance as not to be ascribed to angels, which some understand by watchers and Holy Ones; but however applicable these epithets may be to them, and they may be allowed to be the executioners of the decrees of God, yet not the makers of them; nor can anything in this world, and much less an affair of such consequence as this, be said to be done in virtue of any decree of theirs: besides, this decree is expressly called, the decree of the most High, (Dan. 4:24) so that the watchers and Holy Ones, are no other than the divine Persons in the Godhead; who are holy in their nature, and watch over the saints to do them good; and over the wicked, to bring evil upon them: and as they are so called in the plural number, to express the plurality of them in the Deity; so to preserve the unity of the divine essence, this same decree is called, the decree of the most High, (Dan. 4:24) and they the watcher and Holy One, in the singular number in (Dan. 4:13).
1b. A plurality in the Deity may be proved from plural expressions used by God, when speaking of himself, respecting the works of creation, providence, and grace. At the creation of man he said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness", (Gen. 1:26) the pronouns "us" and "our", manifestly express a plurality of persons; these being personal plural characters; as image and likeness being in the singular number, secure the unity of the divine essence; and that there were more than one concerned in the creation of man, is clear from the plural expressions used of the divine Being, when he is spoken of as the Creator of men, (Job 35:10; Ps. 149:2; Eccl. 12:1; Isa.. 54:5) in all which places, in the original text, it is my Makers, his Makers, thy Creators, thy Makers; for which no other reason can be given, than that more persons than one had an hand herein; as for the angels, they are creatures themselves, and not possessed of creative powers; nor were they concerned in the creation of man, nor was he made after their image and likeness; nor can it be reasonably thought, that God spoke to them, and held a consultation with them about it; for "with whom took he counsel?" (Isa. 40:14). Not with any of his creatures; no, not with the highest angel in heaven; they are not of his privy council. Nor is it to be thought that God, in the above passage, speaks "regio more", after the manner of kings; who, in their edicts and proclamations, use the plural number, to express their honour and majesty; and even they are not to be considered alone, but as connotating their ministers and privy council, by whose advice they act; and, besides, this courtly way of speaking, was not so ancient as the times of Moses; none of the kings of Israel use if; nor even any of those proud and haughty monarchs, Pharaoh and Nebuchadnezzar; the first appearance of it is in the letters of Artaxerxes, king of Persia, (Ezra 4:18, 7:23) which might take its rise from the conjunction of Darius and Cyrus, in the Persian empire, in both whose names edicts might be made, and letters wrote; which might give rise to such a way of speaking, and be continued by their successors, to express their power and glory: but, as a learned man[s] observes, "it is a very extravagant fancy, to suppose that Moses alludes to a custom that was not (for what appears) in being at that time, nor a great while after." The Jews themselves are sensible that this passage furnishes with an argument for a plurality in the Deity. A like way of speaking is used concerning men, in (Gen. 3:22). "And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us"; not as one of the angels, for they are not of the Deity, nor the companions of God, and equal to him; for whatever private secret meaning Satan might have in saying, "Ye shall be as gods"; he would have it understood by Eve, and so she understood it, that they should be not like the angels merely, but like God himself; this was the bait he laid, and which took, and proved man's ruin; upon which the Lord God said these words either sarcastically, "Behold the man whom Satan promised, and he expected to be as one of us, as one of the persons in the Deity; see how much he looks like one of us! who but just now ran away from us in fear and trembling, and covered himself with fig leaves, and now stands before us clothed with skins of slain beasts!" or else as comparing his former and present state together; for the words may be rendered, "he was as one of us"; made after their image and likeness: but what is he now? he has sinned, and come short of that glorious image; has lost his honour, and is become like the beasts that perish, whose skins he now wears. Philo[t], the Jew, owns that these words are to be understood not of one, but of more; the εν και πολλα, the "one" and "many", so much spoken of by the Pythagoreans and Platonists; and which Plato[u] speaks of as infinite and eternal, and of the knowledge of them as the gift of the gods; and which, he says, was delivered to us by the ancients; who were better than we, and lived nearer the gods; by whom he seems to intend the ancient Jews; this, I say, though understood by their followers of the unity of God, and the many ideas in him, the same with what we call decrees; I take to be no other than the one God, and a plurality of persons in the Deity; which was the faith of the ancient Jews; so that the πολλα, of Plato, and others, is the same with the πληθος of Philo, who was a great Platonizer; and both intend a plurality of persons.
God sometimes uses the plural number when speaking of himself, with respect to some particular affairs of providence, as the confusion of languages; "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language"; which also cannot be said to angels; had it, it would rather have been, go "ye", and do "ye" confound their language: but, alas! this work was above the power of angels to do; none but God, that gave to man the faculty of speech, and the use of language, could confound it; which was as great an instance of divine power, as to bestow the gift of tongues on the apostles, at Pentecost; and the same God that did the one, did the other; and so the us here, are after explained of Jehovah, in the following verse, to whom the confounding the language of men, and scattering them abroad on the face of the earth, are ascribed, (Acts 2:8-11). In another affair of providence, smiting the Jewish nation with judicial blindness; this plural way of speaking is used by the divine Being; says the prophet Isaiah, "I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?" (Isa. 6:8) not the seraphim say this, but Jehovah; for to them neither the name Jehovah, nor the work agree; and though there is but one Jehovah that here speaks, yet more persons than one are intended by him; of Christ, the Son of God no question can be made, since the Evangelist applies them to him; and observes, that Isaiah said the words when he saw his glory, and spoke of him, (John 12:40, 41) nor of the Holy Ghost, to whom they are also applied (Acts 28:25, 26). There is another passage in Isaiah 41:21-23 where Jehovah, the King of Jacob, challenges the heathens, and their gods, to bring proof of their Deity, by prediction of future events; and, in which, he all along uses the plural number; "show us what shall happen, that we may consider them; declare unto us things for to come, that we may know that ye, are gods, and that we may be dismayed; '' See also Isaiah 43:9.
And as in the affairs of creation and providence, so in those of grace, and with respect to spiritual communion with God, plural expressions are used; as when our Lord says, "If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him", (John 14:23) which personal actions of coming and making abode, expressive of communion and fellowship, are said of more than one; and we cannot be at a loss about two of them, Christ and his Father, who are expressly mentioned; and hence we read of fellowship with the Father, and his Son Jesus Christ; and also of the communion of the Holy Ghost, (1 John 1:3; 2 Cor. 1:14). To all these instances of plural expressions, may be added (Song 1:11; John 3:11).
1c. A plurality in the Deity may be proved from those passages of scripture which speak of the angel of Jehovah, who also is Jehovah; now if there is a Jehovah that is sent, and therefore called an angel, and a Jehovah that sends, there must be more persons than one who are Jehovah.
The first instance of this kind is in Genesis 16:7, where the angel of Jehovah is said to find Hagar, Sarah's maid, in the wilderness, and bid her return to her mistress; which angel appears to be Jehovah, since he promises to do that for her, and acquaints her with future things, which no created angel, and none but Jehovah could, (Gen. 16:10-12) and what proves it beyond all dispute that he must be Jehovah, is, what is said, (Gen. 16:13) "She called the name of the Lord, or Jehovah, that spake unto her, thou; God, seest".
In Genesis 18:2 we read of three men who stood by Abraham in the plains of Mamre, who were angels in an human form, as two of them are expressly said to be (Gen. 19:1). Dr. Lightfoot[v] is of opinion, that they were the three divine Persons; and scruples not to say, that at such a time the Trinity dined with Abraham; but the Father, and the Holy Spirit, never assumed an human form; nor are they ever called angels. However, one of these was undoubtedly a divine Person, the Son of God in an human form; who is expressly called Jehovah, the Judge of all the earth, (Gen. 18:13, 20, 25, 26) and to whom omnipotence and omniscience are ascribed, (Gen. 18:14, 17-19) and to whom Abraham showed the utmost reverence and respect, (Gen. 18:27, 30, 31) and now he is distinguished, being Jehovah in human form on earth, from Jehovah in heaven, from whom he is said to rain brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah, (Gen. 19:24) which conflagration was not made by the ministry of created angels, but is always represented as the work of Elohim, of the divine Persons (Jer. 50:40; Amos 4:11).
An angel also appeared to Abraham at the offering up of his son Isaac, and bid him desist from it; and who appears plainly to be the same with him who ordered him to do it; expressly called God, (Gen. 22:11, 12 compared with Gen. 22:1, 2) and Jehovah, who swore by himself, and promised to do what none but God could do, (Gen. 22:16-18; Heb. 6:13, 14) where what is here said is expressly ascribed to God. Add to this, the name Abraham gave the place on this occasion, Jehovah-Jireh, because the Lord had appeared, and would hereafter appear in this place.
The angel invoked by Jacob, (Gen. 48:15, 16) is put upon a level with the God of his fathers Abraham and Isaac; yea, is represented as the same; and the work of redeeming him from all evil, equal to that of feeding him all his life long, is ascribed to him; as well as a blessing on the sons of Joseph, is prayed for from him; all which would never have been said of, nor done to, a created angel.
The angel which appeared to Moses in the bush, (Ex. 3:2) was not a created angel, but a divine person; as is evident from the names by which he is called, Jehovah, God, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, "I AM that I AM", (Ex. 3:4, 6, 14) and from the things ascribed to him; seeing the afflictions of the Israelites, coming to deliver them out of Egyptian bondage, and promising to bring them into the land of Canaan, (Ex. 3:7, 8) to which may be added, the prayer of Moses for a blessing on Joseph, because of the good will of him that dwelt in the bush, (Deut. 33:16) and the application of this passage to God, by our Lord Jesus Christ, (Mark 12:26).
Once more, the angel that was promised to go before the children of Israel, to keep and guide them in the way through the wilderness to the land of Canaan, is no other than Jehovah; since not only the obedience of the children of Israel to him is required; but it is suggested, that should they disobey him, he would not, though he could, pardon their iniquities; which none but God can do: and also it is said, the name of the Lord was in him; that is, his nature and perfections; and since it is the same the children of Israel rebelled against, he could be no other than Christ, the Son of God, whom they tempted; the angel of God's presence; who, notwithstanding, saved and carried them all the days of old (Isa. 63:9; 1 Cor. 10:9).
Again, we read of the angel of the Lord, before whom Joshua the high priest was brought and stood, being accused by Satan, (Zech. 3:1) who is not only called Jehovah, (Zech. 3:2) but takes upon him to do and order such things, which none but God could do; as causing the iniquity of Joshua to pass from him, and clothing him with change of raiment (see Isa. 61:10).
To these may be added, all such scriptures which speak of two, as distinct from each other, under the same name of Jehovah; as in the above mentioned text, (Gen. 19:24) where Jehovah is said to rain fire and brimstone from Jehovah, out of heaven; and in Jeremiah 23:5, 6, where Jehovah promises to raise up a righteous branch to David, whose name should be called "Jehovah our righteousness"; and in Hosea 1:7 where Jehovah resolves he would save his people by Jehovah their God. Other passages might be mentioned, as proving a plurality in Deity; but as some of these will also prove a Trinity in it, they will be considered under the following head; where it will be proved,
2. Secondly, That this plurality in the Godhead, is neither more nor fewer than three; or, that there is a Trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence: this I have before taken for granted, and now I shall prove it. And not to take notice of the name Jehovah being used three times, and three times only, in the blessing of the priest, (Num. 6:24-26) and in the prayer of Daniel, (Dan. 9:19) and in the church's declaration of her faith in God, (Isa. 33:22) and the word holy repeated three times, and three times only, in the seraphims' celebration of the glory of the divine Being, (Isa. 6:3) and in that of the living creatures, in Revelation 4:8 which may seem to be accidental, or the effect of a fervent and devout disposition of mind; but there is not anything, no not the least thing, that is said or written in the sacred scriptures, without design.
I shall begin with the famous text in 1 John 5:7 as giving full proof and evidence of this doctrine; "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one": which is not only a proof of the Deity of each of these three, inasmuch as they, are not only said to be "one", that is, one God; and their witness is called the witness of God, (1 John 5:9) but of a Trinity of Persons, in the unity of the divine essence; unity of essence, or nature, is asserted and secured, by their being said to be one; which respects not a mere unity of testimony, but of nature; for it is not said of them, as of the witnesses on earth, that they "agree in one"; but that they "are one". And they may be called a Trinity, inasmuch as they are "three"; and a Trinity of Persons, since they are not only spoken of as distinct from each other, the Father from the Word and Holy Ghost, the Word from the Father and the Holy Ghost, and the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Word; but a personal action is ascribed to each of them; for they are all three said to be testifiers, or to bear record; which cannot be said of mere names and characters; nor be understood of one person under different names; for if the one living and true God only bears record, first under the character of a Father, then under the character of a Son, or the Word, and then under the character of the Holy Ghost; testimony, indeed, would be bore three times, but there would be but one testifier, and not three, as the apostle asserts. Suppose one man should, for one man may bear the characters, and stand in the relations of father, son, and master; of a father to a child of his own; of a son, his father being living; and of a master to servants under him; suppose, I say, this man should come into a court of judicature, and be admitted to bear testimony in an affair there depending, and should give his testimony first under the character of a father, then under the character of a son, and next under the character of a master; every one will conclude, that though here was a testimony three times bore, yet there was but one, and not three, that bore record. This text is so glaring a proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, that the enemies of it have done all they can to weaken its authority, and have pushed hard to extirpate it from a place in the sacred writings. They object, that it is wanting in the Syriac version; that the old Latin interpreter has it not; that it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts; and is not quoted by the ancient fathers who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them. To all which it may be replied; that as to the Syriac version, though an ancient one, it is but a version, and till of late appeared a very defective one; the history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude, and the book of Revelation, were all wanting, till restored from a copy of archbishop Usher's, by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock; and who also, from an Eastern copy, has supplied the version with this text, so that now it stands in it. And as to the old Latin interpreter, it is certain that it is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date, and is in the Vulgate Latin version of the London Polyglot Bible; and the Latin translation which bears the name of Jerom has it; and who, in an epistle to Eustochium, prefixed to his translation of those canonical epistles, complains of the omission of it, by unfaithful interpreters. As to its being wanting in some Greek manuscripts, it need only be said, it is found in many others; it is in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; out of sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephens's, nine of them had it; and it is also said to be in an old British copy. As to its not being quoted by some of the ancient fathers, this can be no proof of its not being genuine; since it might be in the original copy, and not in that used by them, through the carelessness and unfaithfulness of transcribers; or through copies erased falling into their hands, such as had been corrupted before the times of Arius, even by Artemon, or his disciples, who lived in the second century; who held that Christ was a mere man; by whom it is said[w], this passage was erased; and certain it is, that this epistle was very early corrupted; as the ancient writers testify[x]: or it might be in the copies used by the fathers, and yet not quoted by them, having scriptures not without it, to prove and defend the doctrine of it; and yet, after all, it appears plainly to be quoted by many of them; by Fulgentius[y], in the beginning of the sixth century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation: and Jerome, as before observed, has it in his translation, made in the latter end of the fourth century: and it is quoted by Athanasius[z], about the middle of it; and before him by Cyprian[aa], in the middle of the third century: and is manifestly referred to by Tertullian[ab], in the beginning of it; and by Clemens of Alexandria[ac], towards the end of the second century: so that it is to be traced up within a hundred years, or less, the writing of the epistle; which is enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this text. And, besides, it should be observed, that there never was any dispute about it, until Erasmus left it out in the first edition of his translation of the New Testament; and yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy, before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation. Yea, the Socinians themselves have not dared to leave it out in their German Racovian version, A. C. 1630. To which may be added, that the context requires it; the connection with the preceding verse shows it, as well as its opposition to, and distinction from, the following verse; and in 1 John 5:9 is a plain reference to the divine witnesses in this; for the inference in it would not be clear, if there was no mention before made of a divine testimony. But I shall not rest the proof of the doctrine of the Trinity on this single passage; but on the whole current and universal consent of scripture, where it is written as with a sunbeam; according to which, a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead appears in the works of creation, providence, and grace; in all things respecting the office and work of Christ; in God's acts of grace towards and upon his people; and in their worship and duties of religion enjoined them, and practised by them.
2a. In the works of creation: as by these the eternal power and Godhead are made manifest, so in them are plain traces of a Trinity of persons; that God the Father made the heavens, earth and sea, and all that are in them, under which character the apostles addressed him as distinct from Christ his Son, (Acts 4:24, 27) none will doubt; and that the divine Word, or Son of God, was concerned in all this a question cannot be made of it, when it is observed that it is said, "All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that is made" (John 1:3). And as for the Holy Spirit he is not only said to move upon the face of the waters which covered the earth, and brought that unformed chaos of earth and water into a beautiful order, but to garnish the heavens, to bespangle the firmament with stars of light, and to form the crooked serpent, the Leviathan, which being the greatest, is put for all the fishes of the sea; as well as he is said to be sent forth yearly, and renews the face of the earth at every returning spring; which is little less than a creation, and is so called, (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Ps. 104:30) and all three may be seen together in one text, (Ps. 33:6) "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth"; where mention is made of Jehovah, and his Word, the eternal Logos, and of his Spirit, the breath of his mouth, as all concerned in the making of the heavens, and all the host of them. And as in the creation of man, in particular, a plurality has been observed, this plurality was neither more nor fewer than three; that God the Father is the maker of men, will not be objected to; "Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?" (Mal. 2:10) and the Son of God, who is the husband of the church, and the Redeemer of men, is expressly said to be their maker, (Isa. 54:5) and of the Holy Spirit, Elihu in so many words says, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4).
2b. A Trinity of persons appears in the works of providence. "My father", says Christ, "worketh hitherto and I work", (John 5:17) that is, ever since the works of creation were finished, in which both had an hand, they have been jointly concerned in the works of providence, in the government of the world, and in ordering and disposing of all things in it; and not to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit, for, "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?" that is, in the affair of the government of the world, as follows; "With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?" to manage the important concerns of the world, to do everything wisely and justly, and to overrule all for the best ends and purposes (see Isa. 40:13,14). And particularly the three divine persons appear in that remarkable affair of providence, the deliverance of Israel out of Egypt, and the protection and guidance of them through the wilderness to the land of Canaan. Whoever reads attentively (Isa. 63:7-14) will easily observe, that mention is made of Jehovah, and of his mercy, lovingkindness, and goodness to the children of Israel; and then of the Angel of his presence, as distinct from him, showing love and pity to them, in saving, redeeming, bearing, and carrying them all the days of old; and next of his Holy Spirit, whom they rebelled against, and whom they vexed, and yet, though thus provoked, he led them on through the wilderness, and caused them to rest in the land of Canaan.
2c. The three divine persons are to be discerned most clearly in all the works of grace. The inspiration of the scriptures is a wonderful instance of the grace and goodness of God to men, which is the foundation and source of spiritual knowledge, peace, and comfort; it is a divine work: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God", (2 Tim. 3:16) of God, Father, Son, and Spirit; and though it is particularly ascribed to the Holy Spirit, "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost", (2 Peter 1:21) yet no one surely will say, to the exclusion of the Father; nor is there any reason to shut out the Son from a concern herein; and we find all three dictating the writings David was the penman of: "The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in tongue; the God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me", (2 Sam. 23:2, 3) where, besides the Spirit of the Lord, who spake by every inspired writer, there is the Father, the God of Israel, as he is commonly styled, and the Son, the Rock of Israel, the Messiah, often figuratively called the Rock; and in the same manner, and by the same persons David was inspired, all the other penmen of the scriptures were. Those writings acquaint us with the covenant of grace, no other writings do, made from everlasting before the world was; this covenant was made by Jehovah the Father, and was made with his Son, who condescended and agreed to be the surety, mediator, and messenger of it; yea he is said to be the covenant itself; and in which the Holy Spirit is promised, and whose part in it is, and to which he agreed, to be the applier of the blessings and promises of it to those interested therein; see (Ps. 89:3; Isa. 42:6; Mal. 3:1; Heb. 7:22, 12:24; Ezek. 36:27; John 16:14, 15) and they are all three mentioned together as concerned in this covenant, in (Hag. 2:4, 5) where, for the encouragement of the people of Israel to work in rebuilding the temple, it is said, "For I am with you, saith the Lord of hosts", according to "the word that I covenanted with you"; or rather, as Junius renders it, "with the Word" by whom I covenanted "with you, when ye came out of Egypt", (at which time the covenant of grace was more clearly and largely revealed;)"so my Spirit remaineth among you": where may be observed, Jehovah the covenant maker, and his Word, in, by, and with whom he covenanted; and the Spirit standing, as it may be rendered, remaining and abiding, to see there was a performance and an application of all that was promised. In the sacred writings, the economy of man's salvation is clearly exhibited to us, in which we find the three divine persons, by agreement and consent, take their distinct parts; and it may be observed that the election of men to salvation is usually ascribed to the Father; redemption, or the impetration of salvation, to the Son; and sanctification, or the application of salvation, to the Spirit; and they are all to be met with in one passage, (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". The same may be observed in (2 Thess. 2:13, 14) where God the Father is said to choose men from the beginning unto salvation; and the sanctification of the Spirit, is the means through which they are chosen; and the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ, the end to which they are chosen and called: but no where are these acts of grace more distinctly ascribed to each person than in the first chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians, where God the Father of Christ, is said to bless and choose his people in him before the foundation of the world, and to predestinate them to the adoption of children by him, in whom they are accepted with him, (Eph. 1:3-6) and where Christ is spoken of as the author of redemption through his blood, which includes forgiveness of sin, and a justifying righteousness; which entitles to the heavenly inheritance, (Eph. 1:7, 11) and then the Holy Spirit, in distinction from them both, is said to be the earnest of their inheritance, and by whom they are sealed until they come to the full possession of it (Eph. 1:13,14). The doctrine of the Trinity is often represented as a speculative point, of no great moment whether it is believed or not, too mysterious and curious to be pried into, and that it had better be let alone than meddled with; but, alas! it enters into the whole of our salvation, and all the parts of it; into all the doctrines of the gospel, and into the experience of the saints; there is no doing without it; as soon as ever a man is convinced of his sinful and miserable estate by nature, he perceives there is a divine person that he has offended, and that there is need of another divine person to make satisfaction for his offences, and a third to sanctify him; to begin and carry on a work of grace in him, and to make him meet for eternal glory and happiness.
2d. A Trinity of persons in the Godhead may be plainly discovered in all things relating to the office and work of Christ, as the Redeemer and Saviour. In the mission of him into this world on that account: he, the Son of God, was sent by agreement, with his own consent, by the Father and the Spirit; this is affirmed by himself, (Isa. 48:16) "Now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me"; even he who says, (Isa. 48:12, 13) "I am the first and the last", and whose hand laid the foundation of the earth, and whose right hand spanned the heaven, and who is continued speaking to (Isa. 48:16) and must be a divine person; the mighty God, who is said to be sent by Jehovah the Lord God, and by his Spirit; who therefore must be three distinct persons, and not one only; or otherwise the sense must be, "now I and myself have sent myself", which is none at all. Christ the Son of God, sent to be the Saviour, in the fulness of time was made of a woman, or became incarnate; and though he only took flesh, the three divine persons were concerned in this affair; the Father provided a body for him in his purposes and decrees, council and covenant; the Word or Son was made flesh, and dwelt among men, and that which was conceived in the Virgin, was of the Holy Ghost, (Heb. 10:5; John 1:14; Matthew 1:20) and in the message to the Virgin, and the declaration of this mysterious affair to her by the angel, mention is made distinctly of all the three Persons; there is the "highest", Jehovah the Father; and "the Son of the highest", who took flesh of the Virgin; and the Holy Ghost, or "the power of the highest", to whose overshadowing influence, the mysterious incarnation is ascribed (Luke 1:32,35). Christ, the Son of God, being incarnate, was anointed with the Holy Ghost, his gifts and graces without measure; whereby, as man, he was fitted and qualified for his office as Mediator. The anointer is said to be God, his God, the great Jehovah; the anointed, the Son of God in human nature, called therefore the Christ of God, the true Messiah; what he was anointed with was the Holy Ghost, his gifts and grace, signified by the oil of gladness; see (Ps. 45:7; Isa. 61:1; Acts 10:38) when he was thirty years of age he was baptized of John in Jordan, where all the three divine persons appeared; the Son in human nature, submitting to the ordinance of baptism: the Father, by a voice from heaven, declaring him to be his beloved Son; and the Holy Spirit, descending on him as a dove (Matthew 3:16, 17). This was always reckoned so full and clear a proof of the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, that it was a common saying with the ancients, go to Jordan, and there learn the doctrine of the Trinity. Before our Lord's sufferings and death, he gave out various promises to his disciples, that he would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to them; in which there are plain traces of a Trinity of Persons; as when he says, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter" (John 14:16). Here is God the Father of Christ, who is prayed unto, who is one Person; and here is the Son in human nature, praying, a second Person, the Son of God; and because he was so, his prayer was always prevalent; nor could he be a mere creature, who speaks so positively and authoritatively, he shall give you; and then there is another Comforter prayed for, even the Spirit of truth, distinct from the Father and the Son; the same may be observed in and in (John 15:26, 16:7). Christ by his sufferings and death, obtained eternal redemption for men. The price that was paid for it, was paid to God the Father so it is said, "hath redeemed us to God by thy blood" (Rev. 5:9). What gave the price a sufficient value was, the dignity of his person, as the Son of God, (1 John 1:7) and it was "through the eternal Spirit" he offered himself to God, (Heb. 9:14) which some understand of the divine nature; but it is not usual to say, Christ did this, or the other thing, through the divine nature, but by the Spirit, as in (Matthew 12:28; Acts 1:2) besides, in some copies of (Heb. 9:14) it is read, "through the Holy Spirit". Again, Christ having suffered and died for men, he rose again for their justification; in which all the three persons were concerned; God the Father raised him from the dead, and gave him glory, (1 Peter 1:21) and he raised himself by his own power, according to his own prediction, (John 2:19) and was "declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness" or the Holy Spirit, "by the resurrection from the dead" (Rom. 1:4, see also Rom. 8:11).
2e. This truth of a Trinity in the Godhead, shines in all the acts of grace towards or in men; in the act of justification; it is God the Father that justifies, by imputing the righteousness of his Son, without works, (Rom. 3:30, 4:6, 8:33) and it is not only by the righteousness of Christ that men are justified; but he himself justifies by his knowledge, or by faith in him, (Isa. 53:11) and it is the Spirit of God that pronounces the sentence of justification in the conscience of believers; hence they are "justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God", (1 Cor. 6:11) in the act of adoption; the grace of the Father in bestowing such a favour on any of the children of men, is owned, (1 John 3:1) and through the grace of Christ, a way is opened, by redemption wrought out by him, for the reception of this blessing; and he it is that gives power to those that believe in him, to become the sons of God, (Gal. 4:4, 5; John 1:12) and the Holy Spirit witnesses, their adoption to them; hence he is called the Spirit of adoption, (Rom. 8:15, 16) and all three appear in one text, respecting this blessing of grace; "Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father", (Gal. 4:6) where the Father is spoken of as distinct from the Son, and the Son from the Father, and the Spirit from them both, and all three bear their part in this wonderful favour. Regeneration is an evidence of adoption; and an instance of the great love and abundant mercy of God; and which is sometimes ascribed to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, (1 Peter 1:3) and sometimes to the Son of God, who regenerates and quickens whom he will, (John 5:21; 1 John 2:29) and sometimes to the Spirit of God, (John 3:3, 5) and all three are mentioned together in (Titus 3: 4-6) where God the Father called our Saviour, is said to save by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost; which grace of his is shed abroad in men through Jesus Christ our Saviour. Once more, their unction, or anointing, which they receive from the Holy One, is from God the Father, in and through Christ, and by the Spirit; "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", (2 Cor. 1:21, 22) where God the Father is represented as the establisher and anointer, and Jesus Christ, as a distinct person, in whom the saints are established and anointed; and the Spirit, distinct from them both, as the earnest of their future glory.
2f. It plainly appears that there is a Trinity of persons in the Godhead, from the worship and duties of religion enjoined good men, and performed by them. The ordinance of baptism, a very solemn part of divine worship, is ordered to be administered, and is administered, when done rightly, "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost", (Matthew 28:19) which are to be understood, not of three names and characters, but of three persons distinctly named and described, and who are but one God, as the singular word "name", prefixed to them, signifies; men are to be baptised in one name of three persons; but not into one of three names, as an ancient writer[ad] has observed; nor into three incarnates; but into three of equal honour and glory. God alone is to be invoked in prayer, and petitions are directed sometimes to one Person, and sometimes to another; sometimes to the first Person, the God and Father of Christ, (Eph. 3:14) sometimes to Christ himself, the second Person, as by Stephen, (Acts 7:59) and sometimes to the Lord the Spirit, the third Person, (2 Thess. 3:5) and sometimes to all three together, (Rev. 1:4, 5) and whereas the saints, who are made light in the Lord, need an increase of light, prayer is made for them, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, would give unto them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of him, that is, of Christ, (Eph. 1:17, 18) where the Father of Christ is prayed to; the Spirit of wisdom is prayed for; and that for an increase in the knowledge of Christ, distinct from them both: and whereas the saints need an increase of strength, as well as light, prayer is made for them, that the Father of Christ would strengthen them by his Spirit in the inward man, (Eph. 3:14-16; Zech. 10:12) and in a formentioned text, prayer is made to the divine Spirit, to direct the hearts of good men into the love of God, and patient waiting for Christ, (2 Thess. 3:5) where again the three divine Persons are plainly distinguished; and who may easily be discerned as distinct Persons, in the benedictory prayer of the apostle, (2 Cor. 13:14) with which I shall conclude the proof from scripture, of a Trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine essence; "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all". Amen. To which may be added; that a plurality of Persons in the Godhead, seems necessary from the nature of God himself, and his most complete happiness; for as he is the best, the greatest and most perfect of Beings, his happiness in himself must be the most perfect and complete; now happiness lies not in solitude, but in society; hence the three personal distinctions in Deity, seem necessary to perfect happiness, which lies in that most glorious, inconceivable, and inexpressible communion the three Persons have with one another; and which arises from the, incomprehensible in being and unspeakable nearness they have to each other (John 10:38 14:10, 11).
[n] In voce αγιος.
Book 1—Chapter 28
Of The Personal Relations;
Or, Relative Properties Which Distinguish The Three Divine Persons In The Deity.
Since there are Three who are the one God; and these Three are not one and the same Person, but three different Persons, there must be something which distinguishes them from each other; and the distinction between them is not merely "nominal", which is no distinction at all; as when the Sabellians say, God is one Person, having three names, Father, Son, and Spirit; here is no distinction; just as when a man has three names, they no more distinguish him than one would; be he called William, Henry, Frederic, William would not distinguish him from Henry, nor Henry from William, nor Frederic from them both, he being one man, having these several names: nor is the distinction merely "modal"; rather real modal; for though there are three modes of subsisting in the Deity, and each Person has a distinct mode, yet the phrase seems not strong enough; for the distinction is real and personal; the Three in the Godhead are not barely three modes, but three distinct Persons in a different mode of subsisting, who are really distinct from each other; so that the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, nor the Holy Spirit either the Father or the Son; but the difficulty is, what that is which gives or makes the distinction between them? Now let it be observed,
1. Be it what it may, which distinguishes the divine Persons, it must be as early as the existence of God itself: God is from everlasting to everlasting; what God is now he ever was; he is the eternal and immutable "I AM"; he is what he was, and will be what he is; he is he "which is, and was, and is to come"; he is eternally and invariably the same: if the one God existed from eternity; and if the three Persons are the one God, they must exist from eternity, and exist as distinct Persons; and consequently what gives them their distinction must exist as early. Wherefore,
2. Whatever distinguishes them cannot arise from, nor depend upon any works done by them in time, since their distinction is from eternity; and besides, the works of God "ad extra", or his external works, are common to all the three Persons; for though one may be more commonly ascribed to one Person, and another to another, yet the three Persons have a concern in each; and therefore they cannot distinguish them one from another. Creation is commonly ascribed to the Father of Christ, who is said to make the worlds, and create all things by him his Son; not as a mere instrument of action, since he is a co-efficient Cause of them; "without him is not anything made that is made"; and the Holy Spirit has a concern in the same; as has been observed (see Ps. 33:6). The salvation of men is commonly attributed to the Son, and he is called Jesus Christ our Saviour; and yet, in the same place, God the Father is called God our Saviour, and is said to save "by the renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:4-6). Regeneration is more commonly said to be the work of the Spirit; and yet men are said to be born of God, of the Father, and of Jesus Christ, as well as of him; and God the Father is expressly said, to beget men again, according to his mercy (1 Peter 1:3). I have made use of the works of God, both to prove the Being of God, and to illustrate and confirm the doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead; but these do not make God to be, but to appear to be what he is; had they never been wrought, he would have been just the same as he is in his Being, Perfections, and Persons; for,
3. His works are arbitrary, depending upon his pleasure: thus of the works of creation it is said, "For thy pleasure, or by thy will, they are and were created", (Rev. 4:11) and as all things in providence, so all things in grace, are done according to the counsel of his will; it is of his will he has mercy on men, is gracious to them, regenerates and saves them; wherefore these are things that might or might not be, just as he thought fit; but not so his Being, the Persons in the Deity, and their manner of subsisting in it; for if there had never been a creature made, nor a soul saved, nor a sinner sanctified, God would have been the same he is, three Persons in one God. In the economy of man's salvation, to which some ascribe the distinction of Persons, as taking its rise from thence; the three divine Persons are manifested, but not made, nor made distinct; but were so before, and would have been so, if that had never taken place, as it might not have done, since it flows from the goodwill and pleasure of God; whereas,
4. What gives the distinction, be it what it may, is by necessity of nature; God exists necessarily, and not by choice and will, as has been before argued; for if his existence is owing to will and choice, it must be either the will and choice of another, or his own; not another's, for then that other would be prior and superior to him, and so be God, and not he; not his own will, for then he must be before he was; have will and choice before he existed, which is an absurdity not to be endured: if the one God then necessarily existed, and the three Persons are the one God, they must necessarily exist; and if they exist as three distinct Persons, that which gives them the distinction, must be necessary also, or arise from the necessity of nature; as God is, and the manner in which he is, so the distinction in him is by necessity. But,
5. When I say it is by necessity of nature, I do not mean, that the divine nature, in which the divine persons subsist, distinguishes them; for that nature is one, and common to them all; the nature of the Son is the same with that of the Father; and the nature of the Spirit the same with that of the Father and the Son; and this nature, which they in common partake of, is undivided; it is not parted between them, so that one has one part, and another a second, and another a third; nor that one has a greater, and another a lessor part, which might distinguish them; but the whole fulness of the Godhead is in each.
6. To come to the point; it is the personal relations, or distinctive relative properties, which belong to each Person, which distinguish them one from another; as paternity in the first Person, filiation in the second, and spiration in the third; or, more plainly, it is "begetting", (Ps. 2:7) which peculiarly belongs to the first, and is never ascribed to the second and third; which distinguishes him from them both; and gives him, with great propriety, the name of Father; and it is being "begotten", that is the personal relation, or relative property of the second Person; hence called, "the only begotten of the Father", (John 1:14) which distinguishes him from the first and third, and gives him the name of the Son; and the relative property, or personal relation of the third Person is, that he is breathed by the first and second Persons; hence called, the breath of the Almighty, the breath of the mouth of Jehovah the Father, and the breath of the mouth of Christ the Lord, and which is never said of the other two persons; and so distinguishes him from them, and very pertinently gives him the name of the Spirit, or breath (Job 33:4; Ps. 33:6; 2 Thess. 2:8). Those men I have now respect to, hold that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead, or divine nature; and therefore it must be something in the divine nature, and not anything out of it, that distinguishes them; not any works "ad extra", done by them; nor their concern in the economy of man's salvation; nor offices bore by them, which are arbitrary things, which might, or might not, have been, had it pleased God; and what that is in the divine nature that can distinguish them, besides what has been mentioned, let it be named if it can. If one of these distinct Persons is a Father, in the divine nature, and another a Son in the divine nature, there must be something in the divine nature which is the ground of the relation, and distinguishes the one from the other; and can be nothing else than generation, and which distinguishes the third Person from them both, as neither begetting nor begotten. From generation arises the relation, and from relation distinct personality. And as an ancient writer says, "unbegotten, begotten, and proceeding", are not names of essence, (and it may be added, nor of office) but are modes of subsistence; and so distinguish persons.
Upon the whole, it is easy to observe, that the distinction of Persons in the Deity, depends on the generation of the Son; take away that, which would destroy the relation between the first and second Persons, and the distinction drops; and that this distinction is natural and necessary, or by necessity of nature, and not arbitrary, or of choice and will; which, if it was, it might not have been at all, or have been otherwise than it is: those who place it to the economy of the Persons in the redemption of men, have been urged with this, that if it was so, he that is called the Father, might have been called the Son; and he that is called the Son, might have been called the Father; which has so pressed them, that they have been obliged to own, that so it might have been, if it had so seemed to God, and been agreeable to his will. Moreover, those who are in this way of thinking, and explain away the generation of the Son, and make it no other than a communion of nature, and a co-existence with the first Person, though they profess there are three Persons in the Godhead, they are not able to prove it, nor to point out that which distinguishes one from another; and besides, are not able to call them by any name, only say, the one is the first Person, the other the second, and the other the third; and even the reason of this order they cannot account for; for if they have their names and distinction from the economy of man's salvation, and the part they take therein, these cannot be given them antecedent to the said economy; and yet they must exist, and be considered as existing previous to it: if the first Person has the name of a Father, from his constituting and appointing Christ to be the Mediator and Saviour; and the second Person the name of a Son, from his constitution as such; though the reason of such names from hence does not appear; and the third Person has the name of Spirit, from any office or work undertook by him, to breathe into men in creation or regeneration; these names cannot be given them antecedent to such economy, constitution, and agreement, taking place; and yet they must be considered antecedent thereunto, in some view or another. To such straits are men reduced, when they leave the form of sound words, which to do is dangerous, and generally leads into one error or another. But all this will more manifestly appear, by considering each divine person particularly, his relative property, and name pertinent to it. I shall begin with,
6a. First, The first Person; whose distinctive relative property is "begetting", and who is very pertinently called, the Father, which distinguishes him from the second and third Persons: and here let it be observed, that it is not his being a Father with respect to the creatures, that distinguishes him; not a Father in creation, providence, and grace: not in creation; he is a Father as the Creator of all; all his creatures are his offspring; and he is particularly the Father of spirits, of angels, and the souls of men; but this does not give him the name of Father in the Trinity; so he would have been, if not one man had ever been made, or an angel formed; nor does his being a Father to creatures distinguish him from the second and third Persons, for they are equally concerned with him in creation; and being the one God that has made us, they are the one Father of us, even the second and third Persons, as well as the first: nor in providence; God is the Father that provides for all his creatures, supplies them with things necessary, and supports them in their Beings; but this is not peculiar to the first Person; in this the second Person jointly and equally operates with him, by whom all things consist, and by whose power all are upheld; and so the third Person; and therefore on this account equally entitled to the character of Father: nor in grace, in adoption, and regeneration; in which all the three Persons have a concern: in adoption, as the Father bestows the wonderful grace on the sons of men, the son gives to them that believe in him power to become the sons of God; and the Spirit has so much to do with it, that he is called the Spirit of adoption: in regeneration, the Father of Christ begets men again to a lively hope of an inheritance; the Son quickens and regenerates whom he will; and those that are born again, are born of the Spirit: it is not therefore what the first Person does in either of these respects, that entitles him to the character of Father in the Godhead, and distinguishes him from the others; but it is his being the Father of the second Person, or the Father of Christ, as he is often called, and very emphatically and significantly, God the Father, (Gal 1:1; Eph 1:3, 3:14) and this name he has from begetting the Son, who is therefore called his Son, his begotten, his only begotten Son, (Ps. 2:7; John 1:14, 18) and this personal relation, or relative property, is what distinguishes the first Person in the Trinity, it being never attributed to any other.
6b. Secondly, The second Person, whose distinctive relative property and character is, that he is "begotten", which is never said of the other two Persons, and so distinguishes him from them, and gives him the name of "Son"; and that he is the Son of God, there is abundant proof; all the three Persons bear testimony of it; the Father at the baptism and transfiguration of Christ, (Matthew 3:17, 17:5; Ps. 2:7, 89:27) the Word, or Son of God himself, (John 19:7, 5:17, 18, 10:30; Mark 14:61, 62; John 8:13-18) and the Spirit, (Matthew 3:16, 17) it is testified and acknowledged by angels, the good angels, (Luke 1:31, 35; Heb. 1:6) evil angels, the devils, (Matthew 8:29; Mark 3:11; Luke 4:41) by men of all sorts; by good men, (John 1:6, 7, 33, 34, 49; Matthew 16:15; 16 John 6:67, 11:27; Acts 8:37) by bad men (Matthew 27:54). So that he is on all hands acknowledged and owned to be the Son of God. The Sonship of Christ is an article of the greatest importance in the Christian religion; it has a very great concern in, and connection with the ordinance of Christian baptism; it was declared by a voice from heaven, at the baptism of our Lord, "saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased" (Matthew 3:17). That ordinance is ordered by our Lord himself to be administered "in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost", (Matthew 28:19) considered as in their natural relative characters to each other, equally divine persons, and not as sustaining any office, which no one name or term used is expressive of; and it is mentioned in the first confession of faith, and as the sum of it, in order to an admission to that ordinance the scripture gives an account of; "I believe", says the eunuch desiring baptism of Philip; who required an express declaration of his faith; "I believe", says he, "that Jesus Christ is the Son of God", (Acts 8:37) and this was the sum and substance of the ministry of the apostle Paul, with which he first set out, and continued in, that Christ is the Son of God, (Acts 9:20; 2 Cor. 1:19) and, indeed, it is the distinguishing criterion of the Christian religion, and what gives it the preference to all others, and upon which all the important doctrines of it depend; even upon the Sonship of Christ as a divine person; and as by generation, even eternal generation. Without this the doctrine of the Trinity can never be supported; of this the adversaries of it are so sensible, as the Socinians, that they have always set themselves against it with all their might and main; well knowing, that if they can demolish this, it is all over with the doctrine of the Trinity; for without this, the distinction of Persons in the Trinity can never be maintained; and, indeed, without this, there is none at all; take away this, and all distinction ceases. A writer of the present age, and who was the first among us who objected to the eternal generation of the Son of God, though Roell, a Dutchman, before him, attempted to explain it away; or, at least, to a different sense; deed, pretends to hold the doctrine of three distinct Persons in the Deity, and yet explodes this: a strange paradox! He owns some divines have strenuously maintained, and "judiciously defended", the doctrine of the Trinity, who held the eternal generation of the Son, and the procession of the Holy Ghost. Why then should this judicious defence be deserted by us? he owns that these properties, begetting, begotten, and proceeding, "plainly prove" the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, to be distinct Persons; why then should they be laid aside? and especially, since without them there is no proof to be made of their being distinct Persons "in the divine nature". He says, that his account of Christ's Sonship, that is, by office, and not by nature, does not take away any argument by which we prove his Deity. But without his eternal generation no proof can be made of his being a distinct divine Person "in the Godhead", and so not of his Deity: he farther says, that it does not take away any argument to prove his distinct personality from the Father and the Holy Ghost; whereas it takes away that which is the only proof of it, without substituting a sufficient one in its room; and, indeed, no other in the divine nature can be substituted in its room; not the office of Christ, as Mediator; for he must first be proved to be a distinct divine Person, before he can be considered as Mediator. The doctrines of redemption, justification, atonement, and pardon of sin, depend upon the divinity of the Person of Christ, as the Son of God, (Gal. 4:4; Rom. 8:3, 4; Heb. 1:2, 3; 1 John 1:7).
I cannot see there is any reason to object to the use of the phrase "eternal generation", as applied to the sonship of Christ, since one divine person is said to "beget", (Ps. 2:7) and therefore must be a Father; and another divine person is said to be "begotten", (John 1:14, 18) and elsewhere, and therefore must be a Son; and if a begotten Son, as he is often said to be, then he must be a Son by generation: for he must be a very illiterate man indeed who does not know that to "beget" and "generate" are the same; and that also to be "begotten" and "generated" are the same; and therefore generation, with great propriety, may be used of the divine persons; and if used of the divine persons as in the divine nature, as if of the Father in the divine nature, then of the Son in the divine nature; and there being nothing in the divine nature but what is eternal, then this generation must be "eternal generation"; there are no persons in the divine nature but who are eternal, the eternal Father, the eternal Son, and the eternal Spirit; nor is there anything in it but what is eternal; every attribute in it is eternal, as eternal power, eternal wisdom, &c. every will, decree, and purpose in it is eternal, the eternal birth of the eternal minds; why not then the Son of God, the Word and Wisdom of God? and indeed Wisdom, or Christ, is expressly said to be "brought forth", יתללוח, a word expressive of generation, twice used in Proverbs 8:24, 25, and there, in some ancient versions, rendered "begotten", as ןומא "brought up", (Prov. 8:30) is in some later versions rendered carried in the bosom, as a son in the bosom of the Father; all which is spoken of as done in eternity: now if Christ was begotten from everlasting, or ever the earth was, before there were any fountains of water, or mountains and hills, and was as early as a son in the bosom of his Father, one would think there can be no difficulty in admitting his eternal generation. To which may be added, that if no moment or instant can be given or pointed at, neither in eternity nor in time, in which Christ was not the begotten Son of the Father, then he must be eternally begotten of him, or be his Son by eternal generation; but no moment and instant can be given or pointed at, neither in eternity nor in time, in which Christ was not the begotten Son of the Father; therefore he must be eternally begotten of him; or, in other words, be the Son of the Father by eternal generation. The phrase "eternal generation" is said to be a contradiction in terms; surely, not more so, than "eternal creation", and an "eternal creature": it may be thought so by those who will say the same of a Trinity in Unity, or of three being one, though expressly asserted in 1 John 5:7 and so is no more a contradiction than a Trinity of persons in one God. Indeed if the phrase was used of human generation, and applied to that, it might well be thought to be a contradiction in terms; but not as used of divine generation, and as applied to that; the one being in a nature finite, the other infinite. Perhaps the distinction of a priority of order, and a priority of time, may serve to remove the seeming contradiction; the former may be in things eternal, but not the latter. Thus, for instance, God is eternal, and so are his decrees; as the decree of election, or rather God's act of choosing men before the foundation of the world; now God may be conceived of as previous to his act of choosing in priority of order, though not in priority of time, which cannot be admitted in eternity. So the Father generating the Son, may be considered in priority of order previous to the Son generated by him, though not in priority of time, of which there can be none in eternity; considering therefore the Son's generation of the Father from eternity, in a priority of order, though there can be none of time, it will not appear to be a contradiction in terms.
When the scriptures ascribe generation to the Divine Being, it must be understood in a manner suitable to it, and not of carnal and corporal generation; no man in his senses can ever think that God generates as man does; nor believe that ever any man held such a notion of generation in God; yet Socinus has the impudence to say, that some called Evangelics, hold that God generates in the divine essence one like himself, "more animantium", as animals do. But generation must be understood of such generation as agrees with the nature of a spirit, and of an infinite uncreated spirit, as God is; that spirits generate we know from the souls or spirits we have about us and in us; our minds, which are spirits, generate thought; thought is the "conception" and "birth" of the mind; and so we speak of it in common and ordinary speech, "I conceive", or such a man "conceives" so and so; this is my "conception" of things, such are the "conceptions" of others, &c. So with the Platonic philosophers, thought is the birth of the mind; they call it the mind begotten by the mind, as it were another like itself; now as soon as the mind is, thought is, they commence together and they co-exist, and always will; and this the mind begets within itself; without any mutation or alteration in itself. Now in some respect these answer: the mind to God who is νους, the eternal mind, and thought, the birth of the mind, to Christ, the eternal λογος, word and wisdom of God; who is in some sort represented by λογος ενδιαθετος, the internal mental word. So Plato says, "thought is λογος, word or speech, by which the soul declares and explains to itself what it considers"; or elsewhere, "thought is a discourse within the soul to itself, without a voice". Aristotle somewhere calls it the λογος, or word, τω νοι συναιδιον, co-eternal with the mind. Now if our finite created spirits, or minds, are capable of generating thought, the internal word or speech, and that without any motion, change, or alteration, without any diminution and corruption, without division of their nature or multiplication of their essence; then in an infinitely more perfect manner can God, an infinite uncreated spirit, beget his Son, the eternal Word, wisdom, reason, and understanding, in his eternal mind, which he never was without, nor was he before it: "In the beginning was the word", &c. (John 1:1) and this same Word is expressly said to be "the only begotten of the Father", (John 1:14) and this perfectly agreeable to the sense and language of the old Jewish church, as appears from the ancient paraphrases, and from Philo, who says of the λογος, or Word, that it is not unbegotten as God, nor begotten as men, and that it is the first begotten Son, with other expressions of like nature: these things considered, may serve in some measure to relieve our minds, and make it more easy to us to conceive of this wonderful and mysterious affair.
Mental or metaphysical generation, as a learned divine observes, is a similitude and adumbration of divine generation; as the mind begets by nature, not by power, so likewise God; as the mind begets a birth co-essential and co-eternal, so God; as the mind simple and perfect begets a birth simple and perfect, so God; as the mind begets immutably (or without mutation) so God; as the mind begets of itself in itself, so God; as the mind does not beget out of matter without itself, so neither God: as the mind always begets and cannot but beget, so God the Father; as metaphysical generation abides, so the divine.''
Not but that there is in some respects a great dissimilitude between these, as the same writer observes; for the mind begets only a faculty, or an inexistent propriety, but God the Father begets a person existing by himself; the mind begins to beget in time, but God begins not to beget, but always begets from eternity, &c. To this may be added another similitude, which may help us in this matter, and serve to illustrate it; and that is the sun, to which God is sometimes compared; the sun generates its own ray of light, without any change, corruption, division, and diminution; it never was without its ray of light, as it must have been had it been prior to it; they commenced together and co-exist, and will as long as the sun endures; and to this there seems to be an allusion, when Christ is called the "brightness", απαυγασμα, the effulgence, the beaming forth "of his Father's glory", (Heb. 1:3) "ut radius ex sole", as the ray from the sun, as Tertullian expresses it. Though such allusions are not to be stretched too far, nor admitted where they imply any imperfection.
It will be granted that the phrases "begetting" and "begotten", as attributed to the divine persons in the Godhead, are used in reference to human generation; between which and divine generation there is some resemblance; as likeness, sameness of nature, personality, &c. and as we consider divine generation, it comes nearer to generation, properly so called, than any scheme or hypothesis opposed to it; but then care must be taken to remove from our minds everything carnal and impure; and what implies an imperfection; as division of nature, multiplication of essence, priority and posteriority, motion, mutation, alteration, corruption, diminution, cessation from operation, &c. to reason from the one to the other, as running parallel to each other, is unreasonable; to argue from human to divine generation; from that which is physical or natural, to that which is hyperphysical or supernatural; from what is in finite nature, to that which is in a nature infinite, unbounded, and eternal, is very irrational; and to reason from the one to the other, without limitation, restriction, care, and caution, is very unsafe and dangerous; since it may lead unawares into foolish and hurtful errors; and when objections of this sort are made, as they too often are, in a vain, ludicrous, and wanton manner, they are to be rejected and detested, as impious and blasphemous; and they that make them are not to be disputed with, but despised: what is objected in a modest and decent way may be attended to; and the chief that I have met with are, that the sonship of Christ by generation makes him to be later than the Father, to be dependent on him, and subordinate to him; or, in other words, that it seems to be contrary to his eternity, independence, and equality. Let us a little consider each of these objections.
6b1. It is urged, that he that generates must be before him that is generated; a father that begets must be before the son that is begotten by him; and putting the sonship of Christ on this foot, he cannot be co-eternal with the Father, but must have a beginning. This is the old stale objection of the Arians, and of Arias himself, who stumbled at this, and set out with it, reasoning thus: "If the Father begat the Son, he that is begotten must have a beginning of his existence; and from hence it must be evident that there was a time when he was not a Son; and therefore it must necessarily follow, that he has his subsistence out of nothing''.
And so Aetius, a follower of his, could not understand how that which is begotten, could be co-eternal with him that begets. But a little attention to a plain rule will set this matter in a clear light, and remove this objection: the rule is, and I think it is a good one, and will hold good, that "correlates mutually put or suppose each other"; that is, they commence together, they exist together, they co-exist, and that one is not before the other, nor the one after the other. Now father and son are correlates, they suppose each other; a father supposes a son, and a son supposes a father; they commence and exist together, they co-exist, they are not one before nor after another: the father, as a father, is not before his son, as such; nor the son, as a son, is not later than his father, as such; let a man have a firstborn son, as soon as he has one he becomes a father, and not before; and his son is as early a son as he is a father; and supposing they live together a term of years, be it an hundred years if you please, which is not an unreasonable supposition, since it has been a fact that father and son have lived together a longer term of time; now at the end of these hundred years, the father, as a father, will not be a moment older than the son as such; nor the son, as a son, one moment younger than the father, as such; their relations rise and continue together till one or other of them cease. There is no priority nor posteriority, no before nor "after" in these relations; and so, as an ancient writer says, "with God there is no post existence of him that is begotten, nor pre-existence of him that begets;" if there is an eternal Father, there must be an eternal Son, and therefore must be co-eternal; there cannot be a Father without a Son, that would be an absurdity, and therefore not before him.
Should it be said, that though these mutual relations exist together, and that one is not before the other; yet surely he that is a father, though not as a father, must exist before him who is his son. As plausible as this may seem to be, it may not appear so plain when examined; for this objection may arise from a false notion of animal generation. Generation is not a production of a non-entity into being, or a bringing into existence what did not exist before; for to bring that into being which was not in being before, is nothing less than a creation, and creation is too much to ascribe to the fathers of our flesh; they are not our creators, they do not give us our being; they do not bring us out of a state of non-existence into a state of existence; God only is the creator. According to the later discoveries in natural philosophy respecting generation, it appears that every man is born of an animalcule; that generation, so called, is no other than a motion of the animalcule into a more convenient place for nourishment and growth. All generation, say our modern philosophers, is with us nothing, so far as we can find, but "nutrition", or "augmentation" of parts: they conclude, that the "animalcule" of every tribe of creatures, were originally formed by the almighty Parent, to be the seed of all future generations of animals; and that it seems most probable, that the "semina", or "stamina", as of all plants, so of animals that have been or ever shall be in the world, have been formed "ab origine mundi", by the almighty Creator, within the first of each respective kind; and that these are no other than the entire bodies themselves "in parvo"; and contain everyone of the same parts and members, with the complete bodies themselves, when grown to maturity; all which, they say, evidently appears, by the help of microscopes: and this is the rather to be attended to, because it so greatly agrees with the sacred scriptures, by which it appears, not only that Levi, the great grandson of Abraham, was in his loins, that is, seminally in him, before his father Jacob was born; but that all mankind were in Adam, that is seminally in him, as well as representatively; the former being the foundation of the latter (Rom. 5:12; 1 Cor. 15:22). If, therefore, the "semina" of all mankind were created together in the first man; and all men were seminally, and in "animalculo" together in Adam, then not one before another, no priority nor posteriority among them: so that these things, rightly considered, instead of weakening, serve to strengthen and illustrate the doctrine pleaded for. How far this philosophy is defensible, I will not say; I only observe it to abate the force of the objection; and the confidence of those who make it, it being not easy to disprove the said hypothesis.
6b2. As to the objection taken from dependence, suggesting that the doctrine of Christ's Sonship by generation is contrary to the independence of Christ as a divine Person. It may be asked, what dependence has a Son upon a Father, in animal generation? Does he depend upon him as the cause of his existence? He does not. He does not bring him into being. God only is the efficient Cause and Author of his Being. He is, at most, only an instrument of removing the animalcule, created of God, into a more convenient situation for nourishment and growth; in order, at a proper time, to come forth into the world, according to the above hypothesis: a parent has no concern in the formation of his child; it is formed without his knowledge, and without asking his consent and will; he knows nothing of its shape, features, and sex, until its birth; and when it is born, its life, and the continuance of its being, do not depend upon him; a son lives when a Father dies, and often many years after him: it is true, in some sense, he may be said to depend upon him with respect to some circumstances, especially in the former part of life; as, for the care of him, provision for him, assistance and protection given him; circumstances which argue weakness in the human nature; but not to be found in the divine nature, nor anything analogous to them; and does not a father oftentimes depend upon his son, as in case of distress, sickness, penury, and old age? But be these things as they may, Christ, as all sound divines hold, is αυτοθεος, "God of himself", and independent of any other, though he is the Son of the Father; and as the distinct personality of the Son of God arises from his relation to his Father as such, so the distinct personality of the Father arises from his relation to his Son as such; hence the distinct personality of the one, is no more dependent, than the distinct personality of the other; and both arise from their mutual relation to each other; and both arise and commence together, and not one before the other; and both are founded in eternal generation.
6b3. As to subordination and subjection, and inequality, which it is supposed the Sonship of Christ by generation implies; it may be answered, that Christ in his office-capacity, in which he, as Mediator, is a Servant, and as he is man, and appeared in the form of one; it will be acknowledged, that he is subordinate and subject to the Father; but not as he is the Son of God: and whatever inequality sonship may imply among men, it implies no such thing in the divine nature, among the divine persons; who in it subsist in perfect equality with one another; and in particular, the Scriptures represent the Son of God as equal to his Father, as one who thought it no robbery to be equal with God; being of the same nature, and having the same perfections with him, and that he is equal to him with respect to power and authority; for with respect to power he says, "I and my Father are one"; and they represent him as having the same claim to equal honour, homage, and worship; since all men are "to honour the Son, as they honour the Father"; not as in subordination to him, but as equal with him. There is a passage which is perverted by some to the sense of subordination and subjection of the Son of God to the Father, which is in 1 Corinthians 15:24, 28. "Then cometh the end, when he shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father and when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him; and put all things under him; that God may be all in all". It should be observed, that all this is said of something that is future; and which, as yet, is not, and so no proof of what is, or has been. Besides, there is a twofold Sonship of Christ, divine and human; from the one he is denominated the Son of God, and from the other the Son of man. Now Christ in the text, is only called "the Son", which does not determine which Sonship is meant. This is to be learnt from the context, where he is spoken of throughout as man, as man who died, and rose again from the dead; from whence, by various arguments, is proved the general resurrection; and so he is continued to be spoken of to the passage under consideration; the plain and easy sense of which is, that at the end of the world, at Christ's second coming, when all the elect of God shall be gathered in, and Christ shall have completely finished his work, as Mediator, he will deliver up the mediatorial kingdom complete and perfect, that is, the whole body of the elect, the kingdom of priests, to the Father, and say, "Lo, I, and the children whom thou hast given me"; and then the delegated power under which he acted, as the Son of man, will cease, and be no more; and that sort of rule, authority, and power, will be put down; and he, as the Son of man, be no longer vested with such authority, but shall become subject to him that put all things under him; and then God, Father, Son, and Spirit, will be all in all; and there will be no more distinction of offices among them; only the natural and essential distinctions of the divine Persons will always continue. There are various passages of scriptures in which Christ, as the Son of God, addresses his divine Father, without the least appearance of any subordination or subjection to him, but as his equal, as Jehovah's fellow, particularly John 17:24. But I shall proceed to examine more particularly, in what sense Christ is the Son of God, or what is the true cause and reason of this relation. The Socinians, unwilling to own the eternal Sonship of Christ, or that he was the Son of God before he was the Son of Mary; and not caring to acknowledge the true cause and reason of it, which is but one, have devised many; which shows the puzzle and confusion they are in; Calovius has collected out of their writings, no less than thirteen causes, or reasons of Christ's Sonship; some of them are so weak and trifling, as not deserving to be mentioned; and others require but little to be said to them: I shall take notice of some of the principal ones: and then proceed to place the Sonship of Christ on its true basis, and assign the proper sole cause and reason of it; his being "begotten" of the Father.
6b3a. They say he is called the Son of God because of the great love of God to him, and make beloved and begotten to be synonymous terms; that Christ is the object of the love of God, the Son of his love, his dearly beloved Son, is most certain; but then it is not his love to him that is the foundation and cause of relation to him; he is not his Son because he loves him; but he loves him because he is his Son; it is not love among men that produces such a relation; there may be great love where there is no such relation; Jonathan loved David as his own soul; but this strong love bore to him, did not make him nor denominate him his son. On the other hand, there may be relation and not love; a father may not love his own son; neither love nor hatred effect relation; the one does not make it, nor the other destroy it.
6b3b. Sometimes they ascribe the Sonship of Christ to his likeness to God, and make that to be the cause of it: that Christ is the image of the invisible God, the express image of his Father's Person, and so like him, that he that has seen the one, has seen the other, because the same nature and perfections are in both, is true; yet the reason why Christ is called the Son of God, is not because he is like him, but he is like him because he is his Son; of the same nature and essence with him.
6b3c. At other times they tell us, he is the Son of God by adoption; of which the Scriptures give not the least hint. To which may be objected, that Christ is God's own Son, his proper Son, the Son of himself; and therefore not adopted: whoever adopts an own son? or what reason can there be for it? adoption among men, is not of their own sons: but usually when they have none of their own; as the instances of the adoption of Moses by Pharaoh's daughter, and of Esther by Mordecai show: besides, Christ is the begotten Son of God; and if begotten, then not adopted; these are inconsistent; yea, he is his only begotten Son; whereas, if he was his Son by adoption, he could not be said to be his only Son, since he has many adopted ones; even as many as are predestinated to the adoption of children, by Christ; as many as the Father gave unto him; as many as he has redeemed, "that they might receive the adoption of children"; as many as receive him, that is, believe in him, "to whom he gives power to become the sons of God"; even as many sons as he brings to glory; which is a number no man can number: but the more principal causes of Christ's Sonship they insist upon, and which seem to have the most countenance from scripture, are as follow, and which I shall more particularly and largely consider.
6a3d. The miraculous conception and birth of Christ, or his wonderful incarnation, is assigned as the reason of his Sonship; and this is founded on (Luke 1:35) the words of the angel to Mary, in answer to the difficulties objected by her, to Christ being born of her; "The holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, also, that holy Thing that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God". Now let it be observed, that the angel does not say the holy Thing born of the virgin should "be", but should be "called" the Son of God; for though sometimes the sense of such a phrase is the same as to "be", as in Isaiah 9:6; 1 John 3:1, yet seems not intended here; since this appellation, the Son of God, is a name which Christ has been, and is usually called by; and the angel is not giving a reason of Christ's being the Son of God; for he was so before his incarnation; but of the manifestation and declaration of him as such in the human nature; nor does the angel predict that Christ should be called the Son of God, for "this reason", because of his miraculous birth; for either he was to call himself so, or others were to call him so, for this reason, which neither have been; or else the angel's prediction must be false, which cannot be admitted. Moreover, the particle therefore, is not causal, but consequential; the angel is not giving a reason why Christ should be called the Son of God, but why he should be received and owned as such by his people; who would infer and conclude from his wondrous birth of a virgin, that he must be the Immanuel, the child to be born, the Son given, &c. prophesied of in Isaiah 7:14, 9:6 where he is called the "child born", with respect to his human nature, and the "Son given", with respect to his divine nature (see John 3:16 4:10). Once more, the particle "also", ought not to be neglected; "Therefore, also, that holy Thing", &c. not only the divine person of Christ should be owned and called the Son of God; but also the human nature of Christ, thus wonderfully produced, being taken up into personal union with him, should bear the same name: so that it is not the wonderful birth of the human nature, that so much as gives the name; but the union of this nature to the person of the Son of God; whence it is called by the same name he is. The reasons why Christ cannot be the Son of God, on account of his wonderful incarnation, are the following.
6b3d1. If so, then the Holy Spirit must be the Father of Christ, since he had such a special and peculiar concern in it; as the above passage shows; and then there must be two Fathers in the Trinity; which would introduce a wretched confusion there. But there is but one, distinct from the Word and Spirit (1 John 5:7; Matthew 28:19). Besides, the Father of Christ is, in many places, distinguished from the Spirit, and therefore cannot be the same (John 14:16, 17, 26, 15:26; Eph 1:17, 3:14, 16). To which may be added, that the Spirit is called the Spirit of the Son, (Gal. 4:6) whereas, if this was the case, rather the Son should be called the Son of the Spirit; which he never is.
6b3d2. If the incarnation of Christ is the cause of his divine Sonship, then there was no God the Father of Christ under the Old Testament; this was what the Marcionites of old asserted; which put the ancient writers on proving, as they did, that it was the Father of Christ who made the world, gave the law, spoke by the prophets, and edited the books of the Old Testament; all which appears from Hebrews 1:1, 2. Besides, God existed as the Father of Christ, before the foundation of the world; for so early as such he blessed his people, and chose them in Christ (Eph 1:3, 4).
6b3d3. If Christ was the Son of God, with respect to his human nature only, the distinctive phrase "according to the flesh", when used in speaking of him, would be quite impertinent; for it is never said of any mere man, that he is the son of such an one according to the flesh, but only, that he is his son; but the phrase is very pertinently used to distinguish Christ, the Son of God, according to his divine nature, from his being the Son of David, and of the fathers, according to his human nature, (Rom. 1:4, 9:5).
6b3d4. The incarnation of Christ is not the reason of his being the Son of God, but the manifestation of him as such; he was not made, but manifested thereby to be the Son of God (1 John 1:12, 3:8). In the fulness of time God sent forth his Son--for what? not to be made a Son; he was so before he sent him; but that this Son might be made of a woman, or be made man; that the Word might be made flesh, or become incarnate; and so God, the Son of God, be manifest in the flesh (Gal. 4:4). For,
6b3d5. It is certain that Christ existed, as the Son of God, before his incarnation; and is spoken of in the Old Testament as such; even Nebuchadnezzar, an heathen prince, had a notion of the Son of God; which he might have from Daniel, and other Jews in his palace; for he had many in his dominions, from whom he might learn that there was a glorious Person, who would appear in human nature, under the name of the Son of God; and seeing four persons in the fiery furnace, when only three were cast into it, and the form of the fourth remarkably glorious, he concluded him to be one like him, who had been described to him, (Dan. 3:25; Ezek. 21:10). Agur long before knew that a divine Person existed, as the Son of God; for speaking of the Almighty, and incomprehensible Being, he asks, "What is his name, and what is his Son's name, if thou canst tell?" suggesting that as the name, that is, the nature of God is ineffable, he had a Son of the same nature with himself, equally so (Prov. 30:4). Earlier than he, David speaks of the Son of God, begotten by him; whom he calls all the Kings and Judges of the earth to pay divine homage and worship to; and pronounces them blessed that trust in him, (Ps. 2:7, 12) and speaks of him also as his firstborn, who should call him his God and Father, (Ps. 89:26, 27) yea, Christ existed as a Son, not only before Solomon and David were, but before Melchizedek was, for he is said to be made like unto the Son of God, (Heb. 7:3) yea, he existed as such at the creation of the world; for God, by him his Son, made the worlds, (Heb. 1:2) before any creature was in being he was the Son of God; and so the words may be rendered in Psalm 72:17. "Before the sun was, his name was the Son", the Son of God.
6b3d6. If Christ is only the Son of God as he was man, and so called because made man, then he would be in no other class of Sonship than creatures be. Adam being wonderfully made and created out of the dust of the earth, is called the son of God, and all his posterity are the offspring of God, (Luke 3:38; Acts 17:28). Angels are also the sons of God, by creation; but "to which of the angels said he (God) at any time, Thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee?" (Heb. 1:5) and if not to them, much less to any of the sons of men; and therefore Christ's filiation must be in an higher class than theirs; and not to be ascribed to his incarnation; but must be placed to another account.
6b3e. Another cause or reason assigned by the Socinians why Christ is called the Son of God, is his resurrection from the dead; which cannot be the true reason of it; because,
6b3e1. He was the Son of God before; as has been proved, and they themselves acknowledge; for if he was the Son of God, through his incarnation, as they say, though wrongly, then before his resurrection; and so not on that account: the mission of Christ into this world, as the Son of God; the testimony bore to his Sonship, at his baptism and transfiguration, by his divine Father; the confession of men and angels, good and bad, already observed; show him to be the Son of God before his resurrection, and so not by it.
6b3e2. If he was the Son of God on that account, he must beget himself, and be the author of his own Sonship, which is notoriously absurd; for he raised himself from the dead, as he predicted he would; and as he had power to do, as he declared, and did it (John 2:19, 10:18).
6b3e3. If so, his Sonship must be metaphorical and figurative, and not proper; whereas, he is often called God's own Son, his proper Son, the Son of himself; and God his own proper Father (Rom. 8:3, 32; John 5:18).
6b3e4. On this account, he cannot be called the only begotten Son of God; for though he may, indeed, on account of his resurrection, be called, as he is, the firstborn from the dead, and the first begotten of the dead, and the firstfruits of them that sleep, (Col. 1:18; Rev. 1:5; 1 Cor. 15:20) yet cannot be called the only begotten, since many of the saints rose with him at his resurrection; and all men will be raised at the last day.
6b3e5. If the resurrection of the dead entitles to Sonship, then wicked men would be the sons of God; since there will be a resurrection of the unjust as well as of the just; of some to shame and damnation, as well as of others to everlasting life, (Dan. 12:2; John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15) yet these are never called the sons of God; as not on any other, so not on this account; indeed, the dead in Christ, who will rise first, are said to be the "children of God being the children of the resurrection", (Luke 20:36) not that they then become the children of God, and are so for that reason; for they are so before; but being raised, and put into the possession of the inheritance, they will be manifested, and declared the children of God, "heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ"; and so,
6b3e6. The resurrection of Christ from the dead, is only a manifestation of his Sonship; he was "declared to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead", (Rom. 1:4) and hence it is that the words in Psalm 2:7. "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee", are applied to the resurrection of Christ, (Acts 13:25) not that he was then begotten as the Son of God, for he was so before, as has been proved; but he was then manifested to be the only begotten Son of God; and which words are applicable to any time when Christ was declared and manifested to be the Son of God.
6b3f. The last reason I shall take notice of, which the Socinians give of the Sonship of Christ, is his office as Mediator; they say he is called the Son of God, because he was sanctified, or set apart to his office, as such; and was sent into the world to do it, and has executed it, and is now exalted in heaven. And it is not to be wondered at, that they should assert Christ to be the Son of God by office, when it is a notorious sentiment of theirs, that he is only God by office; for the sake of which they endeavour to support this: the text which they build this notion on is John 10:36. "Say one of him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God?" That Christ is the Son of God, may be concluded from his sanctification and mission; because no other was prophesied of, or promised to be sent, and no other expected to come, but he who was the Son of God; but that his sanctification and mission are the reason of his being so called, cannot be from hence concluded; because he was the Son of God before he was sent. Christ had, in the preceding verses, asserted his equality with God, saying, that he and his Father were one; upon this the Jews charged him with blasphemy; to vindicate himself from this charge, he first argues from his inferior character, as being in office; that if magistrates, without blasphemy, might be called gods, and children of the most High, much more might he be called the Son of God, who was in such an eminent manner sanctified, and sent into the world by the Father; but then he let not the stress of the proof of his Deity and Sonship rest here; but proceeds to prove the same by his doing the same works his Father did; to which he appeals. But that Christ is not the Son of God, by his office as Mediator, the following reasons may be given.
6b3f1. Because if Christ is the Son of God, not by nature, but by office, then he is only the Son of God in an improper and metaphorical sense; as magistrates are called the children of the most High, or sons of God, being in an office under him: whereas, Christ, in a true and proper sense, is the Son of God; he is the Son of the Father in truth, (2 John 5:3) most truly and properly his Son; his own, his only begotten Son, the Son of himself, (Rom. 8:3) his proper Son, (Rom. 8:32) therefore not so in an improper sense.
6b3f2. Because the mediatorial office of Christ is so far from being the ground of his Sonship, that it is his Sonship that is the ground of his mediatorship; for antecedent to his investiture with his office, he must be considered as previously existing under some character or another, and which appears to be his relation to God as his Son. Thus in his inauguration into, and investiture with his kingly office, his Father, in the performance of it, addressed him under this relative character; "unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever", (Heb. 1:8) and of his consecration to his priestly office we read, "The Lord maketh men high priests which have infirmity: but the word of the oath which was since the law", (the eternal council and covenant, made more clear and manifest since the law, Ps. 110:4) "maketh the Son, who is consecrated for evermore"; that is, not makes the Son a Son, but the Son a priest; (Heb. 7:28) so that he was the Son of God before he was considered as a priest: and with respect to his prophetic office, previous to his investiture with, entrance upon; and discharge of that, he was the Son of God; and, indeed, his relation to God, and nearness to him, made him the only fit and proper Person for it; "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him"; his nature, will, purposes, and promises; all which he was privy to, as being the only begotten Son of the Father, and lying in his bosom, (John 1:18) so that previous to his office as Mediator, and each of the branches of it, he was the Son of God; and therefore not so by it: when, I say, Christ, as the Son of God, must be considered previous to his being the Mediator; though he is both from eternity; it must be understood, not of priority of time, of which there is none in eternity; but of priority of order; for Christ must be considered as existing as a divine Person, under some character or relation, ere he can be considered as invested with an office; not in order of time, both being eternal; but in order of nature; even as the eternal God, must be considered as existing previous to any act of his; as of eternal election, not in priority of time, the eternal acts of God being as early as himself; but in priority of order, as one thing must be conceived of and considered by our finite minds, before another.
6b3f3. Because he is frequently distinguished as a Son, from the consideration of him in his mediatorial office; as in the eunuch's confession of Faith; "I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God", (Acts 8:37) and in the ministry of the apostle Paul, who is said to preach "Christ in the synagogues, that he is the Son of God" (Acts 9:20). Now the phrase "Jesus Christ" respects his office as the Saviour, the anointed Prophet, Priest, and King; and if the other phrase, the Son of God, is a term of office also, they coincide, and signify the same thing; and then the sense of them only is, that Christ is the Christ, and the Mediator; the Mediator confessed by the one, and preached by the other; which carry in them no distinct ideas; whereas the meaning is, that the one believed, and the other preached, that Jesus, the Saviour and true Messiah, who had lately appeared with all the true characters of the promised one, was no less than a divine Person, the Son of God (see also 1 John 4:14, 15, 5:5).
6b3f4. Because Christ, as Mediator, is the Servant of God; and especially so he appears in the discharge of some parts of that his office; as in his obedience and suffering death, see (Isa. 42:1, 49:3 53:11; Phil. 2:7, 8). A servant and a son are very different relations, and convey very different ideas; our Lord observes the distinction, (John 8:35) and Christ, as a Son, is distinguished from Moses, as a servant, in the house of God, (Heb. 3:5, 6) whereas, if Christ was a Son by office, or as mediator, he would be no other than a servant, as Moses was, only of an higher rank, and in a greater office; no one is ever called a son because he is a servant; one that is a son may indeed be a servant, but is never called a son on that account; so that this is to lessen the glory of Christ, as the only begotten of the Father, and reduce him to the character and state of a servant.
6b3f5. Because the Sonship of Christ is sometimes spoken of as adding a lustre to his office as Mediator; as when the apostle says, "Seeing then that we have a great High Priest that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession", (Heb. 4:14) that which makes this High Priest so great an one, and furnishes out so strong an argument to a constant profession of him, is his being the Son of God, not by office, but by nature; for if this was only a term of office, it would not only coincide with his being an high priest, but there would be no emphasis in it, nor evidence of his greatness; nor such strength in the argument formed upon it. Likewise, the Sonship of Christ is represented as putting a virtue and efficacy into what he has done as Mediator, and therefore must be distinct from his office as such; so particularly the apostle John ascribes the efficacy of his blood, in cleansing from sin, to his being the Son of God; "And the blood of Jesus Christ his Son", (there lies the emphasis) "cleanseth us from all sin" (1 John 1:7). Sometimes it is observed, wonderful, that he who is the Son of God, should perform some parts of his office as Mediator; as obedience and suffering death; "Though he was a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered", (Heb. 5:8) but there would be nothing strange and wonderful, that, he, being the Mediator, should perform the part of one; but it lies here, that he, being the Son of God, in the form of God, and equal to him, should appear in the form of a servant, and be obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
6b3f6. Because the Sonship of Christ is made use of to express and enhance the love of God, in the gift of him to the sons of men, (John 3:16; 1 John 4:9) which would not be so strongly expressed, and so greatly enhanced, and appear in such a glaring light, if Christ, in such a gift, is considered not as a Son by nature, but as a Servant, and in an office capacity; God has given what is more than men, or than people, for the life of his chosen; to do which would be love; but he has given his own Son; which is a far greater instance of love, (Isa. 43:4).
6b3f7. Lastly, If Christ is the Son of God, and may be called his begotten Son, by virtue of his constitution as Mediator, it should be shown, that there is something in that constitution which is analogous, or answers to generation and Sonship, and lays a sufficient ground and foundation for Christ being called God's own Son, his proper and only begotten Son; what is there in the first Person's appointing and constituting the second to be a Mediator, that gives him the name of a Father? and what is that in the constitution of the second Person in such an office, that gives him the name of the Son, of the only begotten Son?
Having removed the chief and principal of the false causes, and reasons of Christ's Sonship, assigned by the Socinians; I shall proceed to establish the true cause of it; and settle it on its true basis; by assigning it to its proper and sole cause, his eternal generation by the Father; which I shall attempt to do by various passages of scripture.
There are some passages of scripture, which have been made use of to prove the eternal generation of the Son of God, I shall not insist upon, particularly Isaiah. 53:8. "Who shall declare his generation?" which is to be understood, neither of the human, nor of the divine generation of Christ, as it was by the ancient writers; not of his human generation; for that the prophet himself declared; as that he would be born, and be born of a virgin, (Isa. 7:14, 9:6, 7) nor of his divine generation, which is declared both by the Father and the Son; though, indeed, the manner of both generations is inexplicable and ineffable, and cannot be declared by men: but the words are either to be understood of Christ's spiritual generation; the seed he should see, (Isa. 53:10) his spiritual seed and offspring; a generation to be accounted of, but not to be counted by men, their number being not to be declared: or, rather, of the wickedness of that age and generation in which Christ should appear in the flesh; called by him, a wicked, adulterous, and faithless generation; the wickedness then rife both in the Gentile and Jewish world, was such as not to be declared; and particularly the barbarity and cruelty of the Jews, in putting Christ to death, and persecuting his apostles, were such as no tongue and pen could fully declare.
I have not, in my Treatise on the Trinity, insisted on Micah 5:2 as a proof of the eternal generation of the Son of God; of whom it is there said, "whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting"; though this has been, and still is, insisted on by great and good men as a proof of it: but when he is said to go forth from the Father, it may seem, as it does to some, rather to intend his mission in time, or as coming into the world; not by change of place, but by assumption of nature, (John 16:28) besides, the phrase is plural; "goings forth"; which seem to denote various acts; whereas that of begetting is a single act: to which may be added, that, that is an act of the Father; these seem to be acts of the Son; and therefore may seem rather to be understood of his goings forth in the covenant, in acts of grace and love towards his people, and delight in them; in approaching to God in a covenant way, and asking them of his Father, and all blessings of grace for them; in becoming their Surety, and engaging to be their Saviour and Redeemer. However, these words are a full proof of the eternal existence of Christ; or otherwise these things could not be predicated of him and his existence so early, under the relation and character of the Son of God, and that previous to his goings forth in a mediatorial way; as before proved. Yet, after all, I see not but that the divine generation of Christ may be included in those goings forth; and be the first and principal, and the foundation of the rest; since the contrast in the text is between the Deity and humanity of Christ; or, between his two births and sonships, divine and human; and the phrase of going forth, suits very well with the modern notion of generation, before observed; and the word יצא, is frequently used of generation, (Gen. 46:26; Isa. 11:1, 48:1,19) and, indeed, in the very text itself. But,
The text in Psalm 2:7 though some have parted with it, as a proof of this point, I choose to retain; "The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee"; which are the words of the Messiah, the Lord's anointed; against whom the kings of the earth set themselves, (Ps. 2:2) the King set and anointed over the holy hill of Zion, (Ps. 2:6) and who says in the beginning of this verse, "I will declare the decree"; which he speaks either as King, signifying, that he would, as such, declare and publish the laws, statutes, and judgments; so the word signifies; by which his subjects should be ruled and governed: or as a Prophet, who would declare the covenant, as the Targum, the covenant of grace, the things contained in it; and none so fit as he, who is the messenger of it: or the counsel and decree, as we render it, the scheme of man's redemption and salvation by himself; or the gospel, called the whole counsel of God, (Acts 20:27) for this respects not what follows, the sonship of Christ; though that is the ground and foundation of the whole gospel scheme; but that depends not on any decree, counsel!, or will of God, but is of nature; and the mention of it is introduced, to show the greatness and excellency of the Person spoken of in the context; and so to aggravate the wickedness of his enemies; since the King they opposed, is no other than the natural and proper Son of God; and in like manner are these words quoted in Hebrews 1:5 to show the pre-eminence of Christ to the angels: and as for the date, "this day", it may well enough be thought to be expressive of eternity, since one day with the Lord is as a thousand years, and as eternity itself; and which is expressed by days of eternity in Micah 5:2 as the eternal God himself is called the Ancient of days, (Dan. 7:9) and, indeed, this passage is applicable to any day or time in which Christ is declared and manifested to be the Son of God; as at his incarnation, (Heb. 1:6; John 3:8) and at his baptism and transfiguration, (Matthew 3:17 17:5) as it is to the time of his resurrection; when he was declared to be the Son of God (Acts 13:33; Rom. 1:4). And agreeable to this sense of the words, as it respects his eternal generation, and his being the natural and proper Son of God, he is after treated as his heir, and bid to ask what he would for his inheritance, (Rom. 1:8, 9) and, is represented as the object of religious worship and adoration, and of trust and confidence, (Rom. 1:12) which belong to none but a divine person. So Justin Martyr interprets this passage of the manifestation of Christ's generation to men.
The text in Proverbs 8:22 though a glorious proof of Christ's eternal existence, yet I formerly thought not so clear an one of his eternal generation. But, upon a more close consideration of it, it appears to me a very clear one; as the phrases in this, and some following verses, being "possessed, brought forth", and "brought up", clearly show: much darkness has been spread over it, by a wrong translation in the Greek version, which renders the words, "the Lord created me", &c. and which has led into more errors than one. Arius from hence concluded, that Christ, as a divine person, was created by his Father in some instant in eternity, and that he was made by him, not of the same nature with him, but of a like nature to him; and is his first and most excellent creature, and whom he made use of in the creation of others: but if the Wisdom of God, the person here speaking, was created by God, then God must be without his Logos, word, and wisdom, until he was created; whereas, he was always with him; and besides, he is the Creator, and not a creature; for all things were made by him (John 1:1-3).
Some, of late, have put a new sense on these words, equally as absurd as the former, and interpret them, of the creation of the human soul of Christ in eternity; which, they say, was then made and taken up into union with God. But to this sense it must be objected,
6b1. That the human soul of Christ is not a person, nor is even the whole human nature, which is called a thing, and not a person, (Luke 1:35) it never subsisted of itself, but always in the Person of the Son of God; and there are wise reasons in the economy and scheme of man's salvation, that so it should be; whereas wisdom here speaking is all along in the context represented as a Person, "I Wisdom", (Prov. 8:12) "the Lord possessed me" (Prov. 8:22 "I was set up", Prov. 8:23, &c).
6b2. The human soul of Christ is only a part of the human nature; whereas Christ has assumed a whole human nature, a true body, and a reasonable soul; and both were necessary to become a sacrifice; as they have been, (Isa. 53:10; Heb. 10:10). According to this notion, Christ assumed the human nature by parts, and these as widely distant as eternity and time; one part assumed in eternity, another part in time; what a sad mangle is this of our Lord's human nature! is this to be made in all things like unto his brethren? of the two, it would be more agreeable that the whole human nature was assumed so early; but was that the case, it would not be the seed of the woman, nor the seed of Abraham, nor the son of David, nor the son of Mary; nor would Christ be a partaker of "our" flesh and blood; and it should be considered, whether this would have been of any avail to us.
6b3. But what of all things is most absurd, this human soul is said to be created in eternity, or before time; which is a contradiction in terms, time being nothing else but the measure of a creature's duration; as soon as a creature was, time was; time begins with that, let it be when it will; and therefore cannot be before time: suppose a creature to be made millions of ages before the common date of time, the creation of the world, time must be reckoned from the existence of that creature; but what is worst of all, is the fatal consequence of this to divine revelation; for if there was anything created before time, or before the world was, whether an angel or a man, or a part of man, the human soul, or the whole human nature of Christ, our Bible must begin with a falsehood; and then who will believe what is said in it afterwards? which asserts, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"; that is, in the beginning of time, or when time first began. And this is so agreeable to reason, that Plato says, time and heaven were made together; and Timaeus Locrus, God made the world with time; and Plato defines time thus, Time is the motion of the sun, and the measure of motion; which was as soon as a creature was made; the first things that God made were the heavens and the earth; and therefore if anything was created before them, this must be an untruth. How careful should men be of venting their own whims and fancies, to the discredit of the Bible, and to the risk of the ruin of divine Revelation. Should it be said, Were not the angels created before? I answer, No: surely no man, thinking soberly, will assert it: how can it be thought, that the angels of heaven, as they are called, should be made before there was a heaven for them to be in? Should the text in (Job 38:7) be produced in proof of it, let it be observed, that it is far from being clear that angels are there meant, since they are never elsewhere compared to stars, nor called the sons of God; rather good men are there meant, to whom both epithets agree; but be it understood of angels or men, it is not to be connected with (Job 38:6) nor respects the time of laying the foundation and cornerstone of the earth; but the phrase in (Job 38:4) is to be repeated at the beginning, "Where wast thou when the morning stars sang together?" &c. and so refers to some time soon after the creation of the heavens and the earth; and to a meeting, whether of angels or men, in which the praises of God, on account of his works, were celebrated, before Job had a being. No, neither angels nor men, nor any other creature, were before time; this is peculiar to Jehovah; this is a claim he makes, and none else can put in for it; "Before the day was, I am he", (Isa. 43:13) that is, before there was a day, before time was, I existed, when none else did; none existed in and from eternity but Jehovah, Father, Son, and Spirit; not an angel nor an human soul: it is a notion of Origen, condemned by Jerome as heretical, that the soul of the Saviour was, before he was born of Mary; and that this is that which, when he was in the form of God, he thought no robbery to be equal with God. What has led men into this notion of the human nature of Christ, either in part, or in whole, being created before time, or in eternity, is another error, or mistake, as one error generally leads to another; and that is, that Christ could not take upon him, nor execute the office of Mediator, without it; whereas, it is most certain, that a divine Person can take upon him an office, and execute it, without assuming an interior nature; as the Holy Spirit of God has; he, in the covenant of grace, took upon him the office of applying the grace and blessings of the covenant, the things of Christ in it, to the covenant ones; in doing which he performs the part of a comforter to them, and a glorifier of Christ; and yet never assumed any inferior nature; and this without any degradation of his person: and it is easy to observe, among men, that when two powers are at variance, one, even superior to them both, will interpose as a mediator, without at all lessening his dignity and character. Christ, as a divine Person, could and did take upon him the office of Mediator, without assuming human nature; it was sufficient for his constitution as such, that he agreed to assume it in time, when it was necessary; and there are various parts of his mediatorial office, which he could and did execute in eternity without it; he could and did draw nigh to his divine Father, and treat with him about terms of peace and reconciliation for men; he could and did covenant with him on the behalf of his elect; which to do, no more required an human nature in him, than in the Father; he could and did become a Surety for them in the covenant, and receive promises and blessings for them; and agreed to do all for them that law and justice could require: and to make such terms, agreements, promises, &c. of what use and avail would an human soul, or the whole human nature, have been unto him? There are other parts of his office, indeed, which required the actual assumption of the human nature; and when it was proper for him to perform them, then, and not before, was it necessary for him to assume it; such as obedience to the law, shedding of blood, and suffering death to make peace, reconciliation, and atonement for his people.
Wherefore, if this translation of Proverbs 8:22. "He created me", is to be retained, it is better to interpret it of the constitution of Christ in his office, as Mediator, as the word "create" is used in common language, of making a king, peer, judge, or one in any office: but this is rather meant in the following verse, "I was set up, or anointed", invested with the office of Mediator; anointing being used at the investiture of kings, priests, and prophets, with their office, is put for the act of investiture itself; for Wisdom, or Christ, proceeds in this account of himself, in a very regular and orderly manner; he first gives an account of his eternal existence, as the Son of God, by divine generation; and then of constitution, as Mediator, in his office capacity; this latter is expressed by his being "set up", and the former by his being "possessed" or "begotten"; so the same Greek version renders this word in (Zech. 13:5) and it may be rendered here, "the Lord begat me", and so possessed him as his own Son, laid a claim to him, and enjoyed him as such; for this possession is not in right of creation, in such sense as he is the possessor of heaven and earth, (Gen. 14:19, 22) but in right of paternity, in which sense the word is used, (Deut. 32:6) as a father lays claim to, possesses and enjoys his own son, being begotten by him, or signifies possession by generation, (Gen. 4:1) the following phrase, "in the beginning of his way", should be rendered without the preposition in, which is not in the text; for Wisdom, or Christ, is not in this clause, expressing the date of his being begotten, but describing him himself, who is the begotten of the Father; as "the beginning of his way", of his way of grace; with whom God first begun, taking no one step without him, nor out of him; his purposes of grace being in him, the scheme of reconciliation formed in him, the covenant of grace made with him, and all grace given to the elect in him; in whom they were chosen: and all this "before his works of old", the works of creation; of which Christ is the beginning; the first and co-efficient cause, (Rev. 3:14) and this sense of the words, as understood of the begetting of Christ, is confirmed by some other phrases after used, as of being "brought forth", (Prov. 8:24) as conceived, as the Vulgate Latin version; or begotten, as the Targum and Syriac version; so the Greek version, of (Prov. 8:25) is, he "begat" me; and the word is used of generation in (Job 15:7; Ps. 51:5) and is repeated, (Prov. 8:25) partly to excite attention to it, as being of great moment and importance, and partly to observe the certainty of it; the eternal generation of Christ being an article of faith, most surely to be believed: Wisdom further says of himself; "Then was I by him, as one brought up with him", (Prov. 8:30) being begotten by him, and being brought forth, he was brought up with his Father; which expresses the most tender regard to him, and the utmost delight in him. The word ןומא may be rendered, carried in his bosom, as a son by a nursing father (Num. 11:12; John 1:18).
To these proofs might be added, all those scriptures which speak of Christ as the begotten, the only begotten of the Father; which have been referred to, (John 1:14, 18, 3:16; 1 John 4:9) which cannot be understood of him as a man, for as such he was not begotten, and so was without father, the antitype of Melchizedek; and whose generation must be understood not of his nature; for his nature is the same with the nature of the Father and Spirit, and therefore if his was begotten, theirs would be also; but of his person; as in natural, so in divine generation, person begets person, and not essence begets essence; and this begetting is not out of, but "in" the divine essence; it being an immanent and internal act in God; and in our conception of it, as has been already observed, we are to remove every thing impure and imperfect, division and multiplication, priority and posteriority, dependence, and the like; and as for the modus, or manner of it, we must be content to be ignorant of it, as we are of our own generation, natural and spiritual; and of the incarnation of Christ, and of the union of the human nature to his divine Person. If we must believe nothing but what we can comprehend, or account for the manner, or "how" it is, we must be obliged to disbelieve some of the perfections of God; as eternity, immensity, and omniscience, &c. yea, that there is a God, or that there are three distinct Persons in the Godhead; which, however, clearly revealed in scripture "that" they are, yet the manner, or "how" they are, how they subsist distinctly as three Persons, and yet but one God, is incomprehensible and inexplicable by us: and at this rate, there are many things in nature, and in philosophy, which must be given up, which yet are certain; since the manner how they be, cannot be explained; it is enough, that it is plain they are, though "how" cannot be said; as the union of our souls and bodies; and the influence that matter and spirit have on each other; and in the present case, it is enough that Christ is revealed as begotten of the Father; though the manner how he is begotten, cannot be explained: Athanasius expresses the thing well; "'How' the Father begat the Son, I do not curiously inquire; and 'how' he sent forth the Spirit, I do not likewise curiously inquire; but I believe that both the Son is begotten, and the holy Spirit proceeds, in a manner unspeakable and impassable." And says Gregory Nazianzen, "Let the generation of God be honoured in silence; it is a great thing, (abundantly so) for thee to learn or know, that he is begotten; but "how" he is begotten, is not granted to thee to understand, nor, indeed, to the angels." "It is enough for me, says the same ancient divine, that I hear of the Son; and that he is "of" the Father; and that the one is a Father, and the other a Son: and nothing besides this do I curiously inquire after. Do you hear of the generation of the Son? do not curiously inquire the το πως, the "how" it is: Do you hear that the Spirit proceeds from the Father? do not curiously inquire the το οπως, the "manner" how he does; for if you curiously inquire into the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Spirit; I also, in my turn, will curiously inquire of thee, the temperament of soul and body; how thou art dust, and yet the image of God; what it is that moves thee, or what is moved; how it is the same that moves, and is moved; how the sense abides in one, and attracts that which is without; how the mind abides in thee, and begets a word in another mind; and how it imparts understanding by the word: and, not to speak of greater things, what the circumference of the heavens, what the motion of the stars, or their order, or measure, or conjunction, or distance; what the borders of the sea; from whence the winds blow; or the revolutions of the seasons of the year, and the effusions of showers? If thou knowest not any of these things, O man--of which sense is a witness, how canst thou think to know God accurately, "how" and "what" he is? this is very unreasonable." Nor should the phrase, "eternal generation", be objected to, because not syllabilically expressed in scripture; it is enough that the thing is which is meant by it: nor are the words, a "Trinity of Persons", or three distinct Persons in one God; nor the word "satisfaction", expressive of a doctrine on which our salvation depends. It is most certain, that Christ is the Son of God; and it is as certain, that he is the "begotten" Son of God; and if begotten, then the word generation may be used of him, for what is begotten is generated; and since he is God's own Son, or his proper Son, he must be so by proper generation, and not by improper, or figurative generation, which must be the case if a Son by office; and if he is the Son of God by proper generation, he must be so either as man, or as a divine Person; not as man, for as such he was not begotten at all; but was made of a woman, and born of a virgin: it remains, that he must be so considered, as a divine Person; and since it was from everlasting, before the earth was, or any creature had a being, that he was begotten, and brought forth, and as early brought up, as a Son with his Father; with the utmost safety and propriety may eternal generation be attributed to him; and, indeed, in no other sense can he be the Son of God.
To close all; this phrase, "the Son of God", intends what is essential and natural to him; and suggests to us, that he is the true and natural Son of God; not a Son in an improper and figurative sense, or not by office, but by nature; that, as such, he is a divine Person, God, the true God, (Heb. 1:8; 1 John 5:20) that he is equal with God, as the Jews understood him; in which they were not mistaken, since our Lord never went about to correct them, which he would have done had they misunderstood him, (John 5:17, 18, 10:30) and it is to be observed, that he has been concluded to be the Son of God from his divine perfections and works; from his omniscience, (John 1:48, 49) from his omnipotence, (Matthew 14:33) and from the marvellous things that happened at his crucifixion (Matthew 27:54). In short, as the phrase, "the Son of man", denotes one that is truly man; so the phrase, "the Son of God", must intend one that is truly God, a divine Person; and as Christ is called the Son of man, from the nature in which he is man; so he is called the Son of God, from the nature in which he is God. I have been the longer upon the Sonship of Christ, because it is that upon which the distinction in the Godhead depends; take that away, and it cannot be proved there is any distinction of persons in it. I proceed,
6c. Thirdly, To consider the third Person, and his personal relation; or distinctive relative property; which is, to be "breathed", or to be the "breath" of God; which is never said of the Father and Son; and which, with propriety, gives him the name of "Spirit", or "Breath", as he is called (Ezek. 37:9). I shall treat of this very briefly, since the scriptures speak sparingly of it. It should be observed, that though he is most frequently called, the Holy Spirit, yet it is not his being of an holy nature, and of a spiritual substance, which distinguishes him from the Father and the Son; for since they are of the same nature, which is perfectly pure and holy, they must be equally holy, as he is: and since God, essentially considered, is a Spirit or spiritual, such is God, personally considered; or such is each person in the Godhead. Nor does he take his name of Spirit, or Breath, from any actions of his, on, in, or with respect to creatures; as in breathing into Adam the breath of life, (Gen. 2:7) or in breathing the breath of spiritual life, in the regeneration and conversion of men, (Ezek. 37:9; John 3:8) nor from his inspiration of the scriptures, (2 Tim. 3:16; 2 Peter 1:21) nor from the disciples receiving the Holy Ghost through Christ's breathing upon them (John 20:22). Though all these are symbolical of, analogous to, and serve to illustrate his original character, and personal relation and distinction, which denominates him the breath of the Almighty, (Job 33:4) and distinguishes him from Jehovah the Father, the breath of whose mouth he is called, (Ps. 33:6) and from Christ the Son of God, the breath of whose mouth he is also said to be, (2 Thess. 2:8) and the Spirit, or breath, of the Son, (Gal. 4:6) and as Jehovah the Father was never without his Word, the Son, so neither the Father, nor the Word, were ever without their Breath, or Spirit: let none be offended, that the third Person is called Spirit, or Breath, since this suggests not, a mere power, or quality, but designs a Person; so an human person is called, (Lam. 4:20) and here a divine Person; to whom personal acts, and these divine, are ascribed; such as the establishing of the heavens, the making of man, the editing of the scriptures, and filling the apostles with extraordinary gifts, (Ps. 33:6; Job 33:4; 2 Peter 1:21; John 20:22) whose distinct personality, and proper Deity, together with the personality and Deity of the Father and Son, will be more particularly considered in the next chapters. I take no notice of the procession of the Spirit from Father and Son, which, though it illustrates his distinction from them, yet rather seems to be understood of his coming forth from them, not with respect to his Person, but his office, in a way of mission by them, to be the Convincer and Comforter of men, and the Applier of all grace unto them (see John 15:26, 16:7, 8).
 Justin. Expos. Fid. p. 373.
Book 1—Chapter 29
Of The Distinct Personality,
And Deity Of The Father.
Though what has been already observed, clearly shows there is a distinction of Persons in the Godhead, and wherein that distinction lies; yet other things may be added, which will serve to illustrate and confirm it; and which will be produced, not as making it, but as making it more clearly to appear. A person is by some defined, "An individual that subsists, is living, intelligent, is not sustained by another, nor is a part of another;" and which is true of each of the three Persons, Father, Son, and Spirit. I shall begin with the personality of the Father; the word "Person" is expressly used of him in Hebrews 1:3 where Christ his Son, by whom he made the worlds, is called, "the express image of his person": the word υποστασις, here used, is translated "substance" in Hebrews 11:1 and some would have it so rendered here; and some of the Latin writers did use the word "substantia, substance": but then they understood it, and made use of it, just in the same sense as we do the word person; but finding it to be an ambiguous word, and that it tended to lead men to imagine there were three distinct divine Beings, they left it off, and chose the word person, as less exceptionable; the Greek writers, and some even before the council of Nice, took the word here used, in the same sense as we do, for "subsistence", or person; and so it is here rendered by many learned men, as Valla, Vatablus, Erasmus, Calvin, Beza, Piscator, Paneus, and others; in which translation we may safely acquiesce.
The definition of a person agrees with the Father of Christ, as before observed. The Father of Christ is an individual, and so distinguishable from the divine nature he is possessed of, in common with the Son and Spirit; he subsists of himself, he does not owe his being to another, nor is he upheld in it by another; nor is he possessed only of a part, but of the whole Deity; he is the living Father, has life in himself, and not from another, (John 5:26, 6:57) and is intelligent, knows himself, his Son and Spirit, and all things (Matthew 11:27).
The personality of the Father may be concluded from those personal actions which are ascribed to him; for besides begetting the Son, which is what distinguishes him from the other two persons, there are other acts which illustrate and confirm the distinction made, though they do not make it; as,
1. The creation of all things is ascribed to him; he is said, as the Father of Christ, to make the worlds by him his Son, and to create all things by him; not as an instrument, but as a co-efficient cause (Heb. 1:2; Eph. 3:9).
2. The works of providence, as upholding and sustaining all creatures in their being, supplying them with all things necessary, governing the world, ordering and disposing of all persons and things in it, are attributed to him, in distinction from his Son, though in conjunction with him, "my Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17).
3. The mission of his Son into the world to be the Saviour of men, shows his distinct personality from him, which is often said of him; now he that sends, and he that is sent, cannot be the same person, but must be distinct; indeed the Spirit of God is said also to send Christ, as well as the Father, (Isa. 48:16) but then, though the Son is sent by both, and the Spirit is sent both by the Father and the Son, yet the Father is never said to be sent by either; he is always the sender, and never the sent.
4. The several distinct acts of grace towards the elect in Christ, will serve to evince the distinct personality of the Father. Men are said to be elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, (1 Peter 1:2) and are said to be chosen by him in Christ unto salvation, through sanctification of the Spirit, and therefore must be distinct from Christ, in whom, and to whose salvation they are chosen; and from the Spirit, through whose sanctification they are chosen to the obtaining of the glory of Christ, (Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13, 14) planning the scheme of man's salvation by Christ; reconciling, or forming the scheme of reconciliation in Christ; consulting in the council of peace with him about it, are personal acts, and distinguish him from Christ; making a covenant with his Son on account of elect men, putting their persons into his hands, blessing them with all spiritual blessings in him, and giving grace to them in him before the world was; as they are personal acts, so they show him to be distinct from his Son, with whom he covenanted, and whom he entrusted with the said persons and things: his drawing them by the powerful influences of his grace in time, to come to Christ and believe in him, (John 6:44) promising and giving the Spirit as a convincer, comforter, enlightener, and strengthener, with many other things, serve to illustrate and confirm his distinct personality. Now we call the Father the first person, not that he is so in order of time or causality, and as if he was "fons Deitatis", the fountain of Deity, as some good men have wrongly called him; for rather the Deity is the fountain of the divine persons, from whence they arise together, and in which they subsist, and in which they have no superiority and preeminence of one another; but as it is necessary to speak of them in some order, it seems most proper to place the Father first, whence we call him the first person, and then the Son, and then the Spirit; in which order they are usually put in scripture; though to show there is a perfect equality between them, this order is sometimes inverted.
That the Father of Christ, as he is a person, so a divine person, will not be doubted; nor is his Deity called in question; and yet it may be proper to say something of it, and establish it; which may be done, not only by observing that he is expressly and distinctly called God, (Rom. 15:6; Gal. 1:1; Phil. 2:11) but this may be proved,
1. From his divine perfections: God necessarily exists, owes his being to no other, subsists of himself, and is independent of any; such is the Father of Christ, he "has life in himself" and of himself, and does not derive it from another (John 5:26). God is from everlasting to everlasting, without beginning and end; so is the Father of Christ, he is he "which is, and which was, and which is to come" (Rev. 1:4). God is immense and omnipresent, cannot be circumscribed by space, he fills heaven and earth, and is contained in neither; such is the Father of Christ, of whom he often speaks as in heaven, and yet with him on earth, and with all his people, at all times, and in all ages (John 14:23, 16:32). God is omniscient, knows all persons and things; and so does the Father of Christ, he knows the Son in such sense as no other does, and knows that which neither the angels nor the Son, as man, know, even the day and hour of judgment, (Matthew 11:27; Mark 13:32; Acts 1:7; 2 Cor. 11:31). God is omnipotent, he can do all things; and so can the Father of Christ, "Abba, Father", says Christ, "all things are possible unto thee" (Mark 14:36; Matthew 19:26; John 10:29). Once more, God is immutable, not subject to any change and variation; God, the Father of Christ, is the Father of lights, with whom there is no variableness nor shadow of turning, (James 1:17) he is unchangeable in his purposes and promises made in Christ, and in his love which is in Christ Jesus the Lord. In short, there is no perfection in Deity but what God, the Father of Christ, is possessed of.
2. His Deity will appear from the works which are ascribed to him, and which none but God could do; such as making the heaven, the earth and sea, and all that in them are; and who as the maker of them is addressed by the apostle, (Acts 4:24-27) and hence by Christ called Father, Lord of heaven and earth, (Matthew 11:25) and the works of providence, before observed, are ascribed to him, as supporting the world by his power, governing it by his wisdom, and supplying it by his goodness, which none but God could do: (see Matthew 6:26, 32) And his mighty acts of grace in quickening sinners dead in sins, in doing which the same power is put forth as in raising Christ from the dead, (Eph. 2:1, 1:19) and in forgiving the sins of men, which none but God can do, (Mark 2:7) and for which Christ prayed to his Father on the behalf of his enemies, (Luke 23:34) to which may be added the resurrection of the dead, which is purely a divine work, and requires almighty power. The resurrection of Christ is most frequently ascribed to him, and he will raise the dead at the last day (1 Cor. 6:14). From these and from many other divine works, may the Deity of the Father be concluded, as well as,
3. From the worship due to him, and given to him. None but God is and ought to be the object of religious worship and adoration; "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve", (Matthew 4:10) now true worshippers of God "worship the Father in spirit and in truth, for the Father seeketh such to worship him", (John 4:23) and the Father of Christ is frequently represented as the object of faith, hope, and love; to whom prayer is to be made, and to whom prayer was made both by Christ and his apostles; how often are grace and peace wished for from him in the several epistles? and he stands first in the form of baptism, which is a solemn act of divine and religious worship.
 Vid. Wendelin. Christ. Theolog. l. 1. c. 2. p. 93, 94.
Book 1—Chapter 30
Of The Distinct Personality,
And Deity Of The Son.
That the Son of God is a person, and a divine person distinct from the Father and the Spirit, cannot be doubted; for since his Father is a person, and he is the "express image of his person", he must be a person too; and he must be the express image of him, as he himself is a divine person, the Son of God, and truly God; and not as he is man and mediator; not as he is man, or as having an human nature, for his Father never had any, and therefore he could not be the image of him in that respect; for though man is the image of God as to some qualities in him, yet is he never called his character or express image, much less the express image of any of the persons in the Deity: nor as mediator, and in an office capacity, for his Father was never a mediator, nor in an office: it remains therefore that it must be the express image of his person, as he himself is a divine person, abstracted from any consideration of his human nature, and of his office. For as Plato says, that which is like must needs be of the same species with that to which it is like. The definition of a Person agrees with him: he is an individual, distinct, though not separate from the divine nature, he has in common with the Father and the Spirit; he subsists of himself in that nature distinctly, and independently; is not a part of another, the whole fulness of the Godhead dwells in him; nor is his human nature, which he assumed in time, a part of his person, nor adds anything to his personality; but being taken up into union with his person, subsists in it; he has life in himself, and is the living God; is intelligent, has understanding and will; knows himself, his Father and the Spirit, and all creatures and things, and does whatsoever he pleases.
Besides the distinctive, relative property, or personal relation of the Son, which is to be begotten, and which gives and makes the distinction of him, as a divine person, from the Father and Spirit, who are never said to be begotten; there are many other things which show, or make him appear to be a distinct person.
1. His being with God as the Word, (John 1:1) and with his Father as a Son, as one brought up with him, (Prov. 8:30) clearly expresses his distinct personality; he must be a person to be with, and to be brought up with another; and he must be distinct from him with whom he is; he cannot with any propriety be said to be with himself, or to be brought up with himself.
2. His being set up from everlasting as mediator, and the covenant head of the elect; the Father making a covenant with him, and putting the persons of the chosen ones, with all the blessings of grace for them, into his hands, show him to be a person; a mere name and character could not be said to be set up, to be covenanted with, or to have persons and things committed to his care and charge; and these show him to be a distinct person from him who set him up, and entrusted him with all these persons and things (see Prov. 8:23; Ps. 89:3, 28; Deut. 33:3; Eph. 1:3; 2 Tim. 1:9).
3. His being sent in the fulness of time to be the Saviour of his people, and that under the character of the Son of God, shows him to be distinct from the Father, whose Son he is, and by whom he was sent; if he was not a person, but a mere name, he could not be sent; and he must be distinct from him that sent him; he that sends, and he that is sent, cannot be one and the same person; or else it must be said, that he sent himself, which is too gross and absurd to be admitted; see (Rom. 8:3; Gal. 4:4; 1 John 4:9, 14).
4. His becoming a sacrifice, and making satisfaction for the sins of men, and so the Redeemer and Saviour of them, plainly declare his distinct personality. Was he not a person, he could not offer himself a sacrifice, and he must be distinct from him to whom he offered himself; was he not a person, he could not make satisfaction, or reconcile men to God; or, in other words, make reconciliation and atonement for sin; these are personal acts, and he must be distinct from him to whom the satisfaction, reconciliation, and atonement are made; or to whom men are reconciled by him; if he has redeemed men to God by his blood, as he has, he must be a person that is the redeemer of men, and he must be distinct from him to whom he has redeemed them; for he cannot with propriety be said to reconcile and redeem them to himself; see (Eph 5:2; Heb. 9:14; Rom. 5:10, 11; Rev. 5:9).
5. His ascension to heaven, and session at the right hand of God, show him to be a person that ascended, and is sat down; and though it was in human nature that he ascended and sat down, yet it was God in that nature "God is gone up with a shout" (Ps. 47:5). "Thou", the Lord God, "hast ascended on high", (Ps. 68:17, 18). "The Lord said to my Lord, sit on my right hand", (Ps. 110:1) and he must be distinct from his God and our God, from his Father and our Father, to whom he ascended, and cannot be the same person with him at whose right hand he sits, (John 20:17; Heb. 1:13).
6. His advocacy and intercession with his Father, is a plain proof of his distinct personality. He is said to be an "advocate with the Father", (1 John 2:1) and therefore must be a person to act the part of an advocate; and must be distinct from him with whom he advocates; unless it can be thought he is an advocate with himself; he himself says, "I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter", meaning the Spirit of truth, as next explained (John 14:16, 17). Now he must be distinct from the Father to whom he prays, for surely he cannot be supposed to pay to himself; and he must be distinct from the Spirit, for whom he prays. He appears in the presence of God for his people, and ever lives to make intercession for them, and must be a person to do this; and must be distinct from him in whose presence he appears, and to whom he makes intercession; for he cannot with any propriety he said to appear in his own presence for his people, and to mediate and make intercession for them with himself (see Heb. 7:25, 9:24).
7. His judging the world at the last day, with all the circumstances thereof; gathering all nations before him, dividing them, and setting them, some on his right hand and others on his left, and passing the definitive sentence on them, prove him to be a person, a divine person, and distinct from the Father and the Spirit; for as for "the Father, he judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son", (John 5:22) nor is ever the final judgment of the world ascribed to the Spirit (see Matthew 25:31-41; Acts 10:42, 17:31).
8. It is promised to the saints that they shall be with Christ, where he is; see him as he is, and behold his glory, and shall reign with him for evermore; and he is represented as the object of their praise, wonder, and worship, to all eternity; and that as distinct from the Father and the Holy Ghost; all which, and much more, show him to be a person, and to be distinct from them both; for surely he must be a person, a divine and distinct one, whom the saints shall he, live and dwell with to all eternity; and whom they shall praise, serve, and adore throughout endless ages.
The Deity of Christ may he next considered, and proved; or, that he is a divine Person, truly and properly God. Not a made or created God, as say the Arians. He was made flesh, and made of a woman; but not made God; for then he must make himself, which is absurd; since "without him was not anything made that was made; but all things were made by him" (John 1:3). Nor God by office, as say the Socinians; for then he would be God only in an improper sense; as magistrates are called gods; and not truly and properly God: nor God by name only; as there are called lords many, and gods many; such were the gods of the heathens, inanimate, irrational, lifeless beings, and so could have no divinity in them. But he is God by nature; as these were not; having the whole essence and nature of God in him. This will appear,
1. First, From the names which are given to him; he has the same glorious names the most high God has; as Ejeh, I AM that I AM, (Ex. 3:14) to which our Lord refers, and takes to himself, (John 8:58) and Jehovah, which is incommunicable to a creature, and peculiar to the most High, (Ps. 83:18) it is not given to angels; for wherever an angel is so called, not a created but the uncreated angel is meant; nor to the ark, (2 Sam. 6:2) for not the ark, but God, whose the ark was, is there called by the name of the Lord of hosts: nor to Jerusalem, (Jer. 33:16) but to the Messiah, (Jer. 23:6) for the words may be rendered, "This is the name wherewith he shall be called by her, the Lord our Righteousness": nor to the church absolutely, (Ezek. 48:35) but in composition, or with addition; and is only symbolical of Jehovah's presence being with her; and the same may be said of mount Moriah; and of some altars, called Jehovah-Jireh, Jehovah-Nissi, and Jehovah-Shalom; which are only symbolical, and designed to call to remembrance the wonderful appearance of Jehovah; the gracious help, and divine assistance, he granted to his people in those places, (Gen. 22:14; Ex 17:15; Judg. 6:24) nor is this name given to priests and judges, (De 19:17) for Jehovah is not to be explained by them; but is distinguished from them; and though he is joined with them, this only designs his presence in judiciary affairs, agreeable to (Ps. 82:1) if, therefore, it can be proved that the name Jehovah is given to Christ, it will prove him to be the most High over all the earth.
Now we are told that God spake to Moses, and said, "I am the Lord", or Jehovah; by which name he was not known to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that is, not by that only, or that was not so fully made known to them, as it had been to Moses, and to the Israelites by him, (Ex. 6:2, 3, 3:14) which person that appeared to Moses, and said those words, is called the Angel of the Lord, (Ex. 3:2) not a created angel, (Ex. 3:6) but an uncreated one; and must be understood, not of God the Father, who is never called an angel; but of the Son of God, the Angel of his presence, who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, went before them, and led them through the Red Sea, and wilderness, to the land of Canaan, (Ex 3:8, 13:21, 14:19, 23:20; Isa. 63:9) he, whom the Israelites tempted in the wilderness, is expressly called Jehovah, (Ex 17:7) and nothing is more evident than that this Person was Christ, (1 Cor. 10:9) he whom Isaiah saw on a throne, making a very magnificent appearance, is not only called Adonai, (Isa. 6:1) but by the seraphim, Jehovah, (Isa. 6:3) and so by Isaiah, (Isa. 6:5), who was bid to say to the Jews, (Isa. 6:8, 9). "Hear ye indeed", &c. which words Christ applies to himself; and observes that, "those things Isaiah said, when he saw his glory and spoke of him" (John 12:39, 40, 41). There is a prophecy in (Isa. 40:3). "The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord", or of Jehovah, "make straight in the desert, and high way for our God", which, by the evangelist Matthew, is applied unto, and interpreted of John the Baptist, (Matthew 3:1-3) wherefore, the Jehovah, whose way he was to prepare, and our God, whose paths he was to make straight, could be no other than Christ; whose harbinger and forerunner John was, and whose way and paths were prepared and made straight by him, through his preaching the doctrine of repentance, administering the ordinance of baptism, and declaring the kingdom of heaven, or of the Messiah, was at hand. Moreover, the Messiah, or Christ, is expressly called, the Lord, or Jehovah, our righteousness, in (Jer. 23:6) it being his work, as Mediator, to bring in everlasting righteousness; and is the end of the law for it, and is made righteousness to everyone that believes. Once more, Jehovah promises to pour forth the Spirit of grace and supplication on some persons described in (Zech. 12:10) and then adds, "They shall look upon me", Jehovah, "whom they have pierced"; which was fulfilled in Christ, when one of the soldiers with a spear pierced his side, (John 19:34, 37) the same words are referred to, and applied to Christ (Rev. 1:7). Now, since in these, and in many other places, Christ is intended by Jehovah, he must be truly and properly God, since this name is incommunicable to any other.
It may be observed also, that in some places of scripture, Christ is absolutely called God; as in Psalm 45:6, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever"; where he is distinguished from God his Father, (Ps. 45:7) and the words are expressly applied to him as the Son of God (Heb. 1:8). "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God", &c. yea, Christ calls himself God; as he well might, since he is in the form of God, and therefore thought it no robbery to be equal to him; saying, "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else; I have swore by myself", &c. (Isa. 45:22, 23) which last words, in connection with the other, are, by the apostle Paul, applied to Christ (Rom. 14:10-12). The evangelist John, says of the Word, or Son of God, who was made flesh, and dwelt among men, and so cannot be understood of any but Christ, that "the Word was God", (John 1:1, 14) and the same inspired writer observes, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us", (1 John 3:16) from whence it follows, that he that laid down his life for men, which can only be said of Christ, and wherein his love to them appeared, must be God.
And Christ is not only called God absolutely, but with some additional epithets, with possessive pronouns, as, our God, the Jews were waiting for, and John was the forerunner of, (Isa. 25:9, 40:3) "your God", who should come when miracles would be wrought as proofs of it, (Isa. 35:4, 5) "their God", (Luke 1:16) "my Lord, and my God", by Thomas (John 20:28). Now though angels, magistrates, and judges, are called gods in an improper and metaphorical sense; yet never called our gods, your gods, &c. Christ is said to be Immanuel, God with us, God in our nature, that is, God manifest in the flesh, (Matthew 1:22; 1 Tim. 3:16). Some additional characters are given of Christ, when he is called God; which show him to be truly and properly God; as, "the mighty God", in (Isa. 9:6) which is manifestly a prophecy of him; and who elsewhere is called the most Mighty, the Almighty, (Ps. 45:3; Rev. 1:8) and "over all" God blessed for ever", (Rom. 9:5) over all creatures, angels and men, who are made by him; and he is blessed for ever in himself. He is called "the great God", whose glorious appearing, and not the Father's, saints are directed to look for; besides, this great God, is explained of Jesus Christ our Saviour in the next clause, Titus 2:13: compare with this Revelation 19:17 where he who is called the great God, is the mighty warrior, whose name is the Word of God, and King of kings, and Lord of lords, (Rev. 19:11, 13, 16) Christ is also said to be the "living God", (Heb. 3:12) for he only is spoken of in the context; and this is only said of the most high God; which distinguishes him from all other deities, (Jer. 10:10) and, to add no more, he is called, "the true God", in opposition to all false and fictitious deities, (1 John 5:20) for what is there said, is said expressly of the Son of God.
2. Secondly, The Deity of Christ may be proved from the divine perfections he is possessed of; "for in him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead", (Col. 2:9) not one perfection of the divine nature excepted; or otherwise it could not be said, that all the fulness of Deity was in him. God is necessarily and self-existent, and independent on any; such is Christ, he is αυτοθεος, God of himself: as man and mediator he has a life given him for himself, and others, and lives by the Father; but, as God, he owes his life and being to none; it is not derived from another; he is over all, God blessed for ever. Eternity is a perfection of God; God is from everlasting to everlasting; Christ was not only before Abraham, but before Adam; and before any creature was in being; for he is the αρχη, the beginning, the first Cause of the creation of God, (Rev. 3:14) the first born, or rather, the first parent and producer of every creature; as the word πρωτοτοκος, by the removal of the accent, may be rendered which best agrees with the apostle's reasoning in the next verse; where all things are said to be created by him; and therefore, as the apostle argues, he must be before all things, (Col. 1:15-17) as Mediator, he was set up from everlasting; his goings forth in the covenant were of old; the elect were chosen in him before the foundation of the world; and had grace given them in him, before that began; all which suppose his eternal existence. Hence he is called Alpha and Omega the first and the last, the beginning and the ending; which is, and was, and is to come; Melchizedek's antitype, having neither beginning of days nor end of life (Rev. 1:8; Heb. 7:3). Omnipresence, or immensity, is another perfection of Deity, (Jer. 23:23, 24). Christ, as the Son of God, was in heaven, in the bosom of his Father; when, as the Son of man, he was here on earth, (John 1:18, 3:13) which he could not be, if he was not omnipresent; nor could he make good his promises to his ministers, churches, and people, to be with them at all times, in all ages, and in all places, wherever they are, (Matthew 18:20, 28:20) nor walk in the midst of his golden candlesticks, the several churches, in different places; and fill all things and persons in them, as he certainly does, (Rev. 1:13; Eph 4:10). Omniscience is another divine perfection, and most manifestly appears in Christ; he knew what was in man, and needed not that any should testify to him what was in man; he could tell the woman of Samaria all that ever she did; he knew from the beginning who would believe in him, and who would betray him; he knew the secret thoughts of the Scribes and Pharisees; and is that Word that is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart; and he will hereafter let all the world and churches know, that he searches the hearts and reins. In short, he knows all things, as Peter affirmed unto him, (John 2:24, 25, 4:29, 6:64; Matthew 9:4; Heb. 4:12; Rev. 2:23; John 21:17) and though he is said not to know the day of judgment, this is said of him as the Son of man, not as the Son of God (Mark 13:32). Omnipotence is a perfection that belongs to Christ, and is peculiar to God, who only can do all things; Christ is almighty, and his works declare it; the creation of all things, the sustentation of the universe, the redemption and preservation of his people, and the resurrection of them at the last day; all which are, "according to his mighty power, which is able to subdue all things to himself" (Phil. 3:21). To observe no more, immutability belongs solely to God; who is without any variableness or shadow of turning; and such is Christ, the same today, yesterday, and for ever, (Heb. 13:8; see Ps. 102:26 compared with Heb. 1:12) and since therefore such perfections of the Godhead are in Christ, he must be truly and properly God.
3. Thirdly, The truth of Christ's proper divinity may be proved from the works done by him; which are the same that are done by the Father; and in which he is a coefficient cause with him; and are done by him ομοιως, in like manner as by the Father, (John 5:17, 19) such as the creation of all things out of nothing; of the whole world and all things in it, visible or invisible, (John 1:2, 3; Col. 1:16) the making of the worlds, the heaven and the earth, are particularly ascribed to the Word and Son of God; and he that built all things is God, (Heb. 11:3, 1:10, 3:4) the work of providence, the government of the world, and the disposing of all things in it, Christ is jointly concerned in with the Father; "My Father worketh hitherto; and I work", that is, with him (John 5:17). Christ upholds all things by his power; bears up the pillars of the earth; and by him do all things consist, (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:17) the miracles Christ wrought on earth in human nature, as they were proofs of his Messiahship, so of his Deity; such as curing the lame, the blind, and dumb, and deaf, and even raising the dead, by a word speaking; which were what none but God could do: these prove that the Father was in him, and he in the Father, (Matthew 11:4, 5; John 10:37, 38). If he was not the mighty God, he could never have been able to have wrought and obtained the redemption and salvation of his people, by his own arm: what gave virtue and efficacy to his blood, to purchase his church and people, and cleanse them from their sins, is his Deity; and so to his righteousness, to make it a justifying one before God; and to his sacrifice, to make it expiatory of sin, and acceptable to God. The acts of forgiveness of sin, and justification from it, are peculiar to God. None can forgive sin but God; yet Christ has done it, and therefore must be God, (Mark 2:7, 9, 10) it is God that justifies men from sin, and acquits them from condemnation, (Rom. 8:1, 33) and so does Christ (Isa. 53:11). The Resurrection of the dead is a work of almighty power, and which none but God can do; and yet Christ has raised himself from the dead, and thereby is declared to be the Son of God with power; that is, truly and properly God, (Rom. 1:4; John 2:19, 10:18) and he will raise all the dead at the last day, by his mighty power; and at his all commanding voice, the dead will come forth out of their graves, wherein they have lain, (John 5:28, 29; 1 Thess. 4:16, 17). The judgment of the world is committed to him; "The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment to the Son" (John 5:22). Now if he was not God omnipotent and omniscient he would never be able to do what he will do; gather all nations before him, separate them, and place them some on his right hand, and some on his left; bring to light the counsels of the heart, and judge the secrets of it, and give to every man for the deeds done in the body, whether good or evil; pronounce the several decisive sentences, and put them in execution, (Matthew 25: 31-46; Rom. 2:16; 1 Cor. 4:5; 2 Cor. 5:10).
4. Fourthly, As a further proof of the Deity of Christ, the worship given him both by angels and men may be observed; for when he, God's firstborn, was brought into the world, he said, "Let all the angels of God worship him", (Heb. 1:6) which order to the celestial inhabitants, would never have been given, if he was not God: it is also the declared will of the divine Father of Christ, "that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father"; that is, worship him with the same divine worship; which he would never have declared, who will not give his glory to another besides himself, was not Christ his Son the one God with him (see Ps. 2:12). Men are directed to exercise faith and hope on him; yea, Christ himself directs unto it, equally to be exercised on him, as on his Father; which he would never have done, but that he and his Father are one, one in nature, and so in power and glory, (John 14:1, 10:30) yea, if he was not God, but a mere man, instead of men being blessed and happy, who make him their hope, and trust in him, they would be cursed for so doing (Jer. 17:5, 7). Baptism, a solemn ordinance of religious worship, is ordered to be administered in his name, equally as in the name of the Father, (Matthew 28:19) which, if a mere creature, would be idolatry and blasphemy; for which reason the apostle Paul was so cautious, lest any should think they were baptized by him in his own name (1 Cor. 1:13-15). Prayer, another branch of religious worship, is often made to Christ; and that not by a single person only, as by Stephen, in his last moments, (Acts 7:59) but by whole churches and communities; who are said in every place to call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord; and how often are grace and peace wished for, by the apostles, as from God our Father, so from the Lord Jesus Christ? (1 Cor. 1:2, 3) all which would never be performed by saints, nor be admitted of by God, was not Christ truly and properly God; nor need we scruple to worship him, nor be fearful lest we should give him too much: and great encouragement we have to commit our souls, and the salvation of them into his hands, and trust him with our all; since he is God the only Saviour.
Book 1—Chapter 31
Of The Distinct Personality,
And Deity Of The Holy Spirit.
What only remains now to be considered, under the article of the Trinity, are the personality and divinity of the Holy Ghost; to prove that he is a Person, a distinct Person, from the Father and Son; and a divine Person, or truly and properly God.
1. First, That he is a Person, and not a mere name and character, power or attribute of God; which will appear by observing,
1a. That the description of a Person agrees with him; that it subsists and lives of itself, is endowed with will and understanding, or is a willing and intelligent agent. Such is the Spirit of God; as the Father has life in himself, and the Son has life in himself, so has the Holy Spirit; since he is the author of natural and spiritual life in men; which he preserves unto eternal life; and therefore called, the Spirit of life; which he could not be, unless he had life in himself; and if he has life in himself, he must subsist of himself: he has a power of willing whatever he pleases: the apostle, speaking of his influences, administrations, and operations, says, "All these worketh the one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will", (1 Cor. 12:11) and that he is an intelligent agent, is clear from his knowing the things of God which none can know but him; and from his teaching men all things, and guiding them into all truth, and giving the spirit of wisdom and knowledge to one and another; now "he that teacheth men knowledge, shall not he know?" (1 Cor. 2:11, 12:8; John 14:26 16:13; Ps. 94:10).
1b. Personal actions are ascribed unto him; he is said to be a reprover and convincer of men; to reprove or convince the world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). Now he that convinces another of his mistakes, brings him to a sense and acknowledgment of them, and to repentance for them, must be a Person, and not a mere name and character. He is spoken of as a teacher, that teaches all things, all doctrines necessary to salvation, and all the duties of religion: an human teacher is a person, and much more a divine one, (John 14:26; 1 John 2:27) he is promised as a Comforter, (John 16:7) and which he answers to, by shedding abroad the love of God in the hearts of the Lord's people; by taking the things of Christ, and showing them to them; by applying to them exceeding great and precious promises; by declaring to them the pardon of their sins; by pronouncing the sentence of justification in their consciences; and by being the earnest and seal of their future happiness; all which are personal actions: he is one of the three witnesses in heaven, (1 John 5:7) who particularly testifies of Christ, of his Deity, sonship, offices, and grace, (John 15:26) and bears witness to the spirits of saints, that they are the children of God, (Rom. 8:16) which a mere name and character could not do; but a person. He is represented not only as a Spirit of grace and supplication, and an helper of the infirmities of the saints in prayer, but as making intercession for them, according to the will of God (Zech. 12:10; Rom. 8:26, 27). Now as the advocacy and intercession of Christ, prove him to be a Person, and a distinct one from the Father, with whom he intercedes; so the intercession of the Spirit, equally proves his personality, even his distinct personality also: to which may be added, that the Spirit is the giver of gifts to men, whereby they are qualified for the work of the ministry, (1 Cor. 12:8-11) and he calls them to that work, and appoints and sets them as overseers of particular churches, to feed them with knowledge and understanding, (Acts 13:2, 20:28) and, to observe no more, he is often described as an inhabitant in the saints, that dwells in their bodies, and in their souls, and will always abide in them, until he has wrought them up for that self-same thing, eternal glory and happiness; now to dwell with any person, or in any place, is a personal action, and describes a person, (John 14:16, 17; 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19; Rom. 8:9, 11).
1c. Personal affections are ascribed to the Spirit; as love, grief, &c. we read of the love of the Spirit, as well as of the Father, and of the Son; and which appears in the regeneration and sanctification of men, and in the application of grace unto them, (Rom. 15:30) and of the Spirit's being grieved with the sins of God's people, and their unbecoming behavior towards God and one another, (Eph. 4:30) and of his being rebelled against, vexed, and provoked; as he was by the Israelites (Isa. 63:10). All which could not be said of him, was he not a person. He is, moreover, said to be lied unto; as by Ananias and Sapphira, (Acts 5:3) and to be blasphemed, and sinned against with an unpardonable sin, (Matthew 12:32, 33) which could never be, nor with propriety be said, was he not a Person, and a divine Person too.
2. Secondly, The Holy Spirit is not only a Person, but a distinct Person from the Father and the Son; and besides his distinctive relative property, spiration, or being the breath of them both, and so distinct from each; the following things may be observed:
2a. His procession from the Father and the Son: of his procession from the Father express mention is made in (John 15:26) and therefore must be distinct from the Father, from whom he proceeds; which, whether it respects his nature or his office, proves the same: it was once a warm controversy between the Greek and Latin churches, whether the Spirit proceeded from the Son or from the Father; which was denied by the former, and asserted by the latter; and which seems most correct; since he is called the Spirit of the Son, (Gal. 4:6) however, since he is the Spirit of the Son, he must be distinct from him whose Spirit he is.
2b. The mission of the Holy Spirit, by the Father and the Son, clearly evinces his distinct personality from them; of his being sent by the Father, see (John 14:16, 26) and of his being sent by the Son (see John 15:26, 16:7). Now as a mere name and character, quality, power, and attribute, could not be said to be sent, but a Person; so the Spirit that is sent, must be a distinct Person from the Father and Son, said to send him.
2c. The Holy Spirit is called another Comforter, (John 14:16) the Father of Christ is one; he is the God of all comfort; that comforts his people in all their tribulations, (2 Cor. 1:3, 4) and Jesus Christ is also a Comforter; one of his names with the Jews is Menachem, a Comforter; a name well known with the Jews: hence good old Simeon is said to be waiting for the "Consolation of Israel", (Luke 2:25) that is, for the Messiah; whom the Jews expected as a Comforter: and now the Holy Ghost is another Comforter, distinct from both; from the Son, who prayed for him as such; and from the Father, prayed unto on that account.
2d. The Holy Spirit is represented as doing some things distinct from the Father and the Son; particularly, as directing into the love of God, that is, the Father; and into a patient waiting for Christ; and so is distinguished from them both, (2 Thess. 3:5) and also as taking of the things of Christ, called likewise the things of the Father, and showing them to them that are Christ's; in which also he is distinguished from the Father, and from Christ, whose things he takes and shows (John 16:14, 15). Song regeneration, renovation, sanctification, and conversion, are distinct things, and very peculiar to the Spirit.
2e. There are some distinct appearances of the Spirit, which show his distinct personality; as at the baptism of Christ, when he descended as a dove and lighted on him; and thereby was distinguished from the Father, whose voice was heard from heaven; and from the Son, who was baptized in Jordan, and on whom the Spirit lighted, (Matthew 3:16,17) and on the day of Pentecost the Spirit descended on the apostles, in the form of cloven tongues, as of fire; and with respect to this the apostle Peter says, that Christ "being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear"; meaning the effusion of the Holy Ghost, and his extraordinary gifts; and who is plainly distinguished from the Father, who made promise of him, and from the Son, who received this promise, and shed his gifts in the manner he did.
2f. The Holy Spirit is represented as a distinct person in the ordinance of baptism; and the form of it being to be administered in his name, as distinct from the name of the Father and of the Son, in whose name also it was to be administered, (Matthew 28:19) and so he is mentioned as a distinct witness from the Father and the Word, in the record bore in heaven; for if he is not a distinct person from them, there could not be three testifiers, or three that bore record in heaven (1 John 5:7).
3. Thirdly, The Holy Ghost is not only a person, and a distinct person from the Father and Son, but a divine person, or truly and properly God; which was denied by the Macedonians of old, and by the Socinians of late; and generally by all that oppose the divinity of Christ: but the Deity of the Spirit is to be proved by the same mediums and arguments which are to be fetched from the same sources as the Deity of the Son. And,
3a. From the names which are given unto him; as particularly the name Jehovah, peculiar to the most High; it was Jehovah, the Lord God of Israel, that spake by the mouth of all the holy prophets from the beginning of the world; and it is certain that they spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, (Luke 1:68, 70; 2 Peter 1:21) it was Jehovah, the Rock and God of Israel, that spake by David; and it is clear that it was the Holy Ghost that spake by him; for so Peter says, "This scripture must needs be fulfilled, which the Holy Ghost, by the mouth of David, spoke before concerning Judas", (2 Sam. 23:2, 3; Acts 1:16) it was Jehovah, the Lord God, whom the Israelites tempted, proved, and provoked in the wilderness; and this the Holy Ghost speaks of as done to himself; "Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, Today if ye will hear his voice, harden not your hearts, as in the provocation, in the day of temptation in the wilderness, when your fathers tempted me, proved me", me, the Holy Ghost, (Ps. 95:6, 7; Heb. 3:7-9; see Isa. 63:10) it was Jehovah that said to Isaiah, "Go and tell this people, hear ye indeed", &c. and according to the apostle Paul, the same was the Holy Ghost; for to the Jews he says, "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Isaiah the prophet, saying, Go unto this people, and say, hearing ye shall hear", &c. (Isa. 6:8, 9; Acts 28:25, 26). The Greek word κυριος, used in the New Testament, answers to Jehovah and Adonai in the Old; and this is said of the Holy Spirit, he is that Spirit which is the Lord, and is called the Lord the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17, 18; see also 2 Thess. 3:5). Moreover the Holy Spirit is very plainly called God in scripture: when Ananias lied to the Holy Ghost, he is said to lie not unto men but unto God; wherefore if lying to the Holy Ghost is lying to God, it follows that the Holy Ghost must be God (Acts 5:3, 4). The saints of God are called the temple of God, and the reason proving it is, because the Spirit of God dwells in them, and because their bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost, they are exhorted to glorify God in their bodies: Now if the Holy Ghost is not called God, or meant by God in these passages, there is no force of reasoning in them (1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19, 20). Moreover the apostle gives to the Holy Ghost the divine names of Spirit, Lord, and God, when he is speaking of the diversities of his gifts, administrations, and operations; for of him only is he speaking by whom all these are (1 Cor. 12:4-6).
3b. The Deity of the Spirit may be proved from the perfections of God, which are manifestly in him, as eternity; hence, as some think, he is called the eternal Spirit, (Heb. 9:14) however he was present at the creation of the heavens and the earth, and was concerned therein, (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13) and therefore must be before any creature was, before time was, and so from eternity; as God the Father never was without his Son, so never without his Spirit; when it is said in some places that the Spirit was not yet, and that there were some that had not heard that there was any Holy Ghost; this is to be understood of the wonderful effusion of the gifts of the Holy Spirit on the apostles at Pentecost, which was not to be until after the glorification of Christ; and of which dispensation the disciples at Ephesus had not then heard (John 7:39; Acts 19:2). Omnipresence, or immensity, another divine perfection, is ascribed to the Spirit; says David, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit? and whither shall I flee from thy presence?" (Ps. 139:7) he is not to be shunned and avoided; there is no going any where from him, for he is every where, otherwise he might be avoided; and if every where, he must be the omnipresent God: the saints are his temples in which he dwells, and he dwells in them all, at all times, in all places; which he could not do if he was not immense and omnipresent. Omniscience is another divine perfection to be observed in the Spirit of God; he knows all things, even the deep things of God, the thoughts, counsels, and purposes of his heart; which he could not know, if he was not the omniscient God (1 Cor. 2:10, 11) nor could he teach the saints all things, nor guide them into all truth, and much less show things to come, (John 14:26, 16:13) as he did under the Old Testament, when he testified beforehand, by the prophets, the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow, (1 Peter 1:11) and under the New Testament, witnessing to the apostle Paul that bonds and afflictions should abide him in every city, which he found to be true; and foretelling, by Agabus, that there would be a great dearth throughout the world, which came to pass in the times of Claudius Caesar (Acts 20:23, 11:28). Omnipotence is predicated of him; he is called the power of the Highest, and the finger of God; his concern in creation, and in the formation of the human nature of Christ, the miraculous signs and wonders wrought by his power, the gifts that he bestows, and the grace that he works in the hearts of men, loudly proclaim his omnipotence; and if such perfections, which are peculiar to Deity, are to be found in him, he must be truly and properly God.
3c. The works which are ascribed unto him are a clear and full proof of his divinity: creation, a work of divine power, is attributed to him; he not only moved upon the face of the waters that covered the earth, at the first creation, and brought the rude and unformed chaos into a beautiful order, and garnished the heavens, and bespangled them with the luminaries and stars of light; but by him, the Breath, or Spirit of the Lord, the heavens and the host thereof were made and established, (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13; Ps. 33:6) yea man, the most excellent and curious part of the creation, is made by him, as Elihu owns, "The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life" (Job 33:4). The work of providence he is jointly concerned in with the Father and the Son; "Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? with whom took he counsel (the Spirit of the Lord) and taught him in the path of judgment? and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?" (Isa. 40:13, 14) that is, how to govern the world, and manage and direct all affairs in it. The editing of the scripture is of him; "All scripture is given by inspiration of God"; by the Breath or Spirit of God, (2 Tim. 3:16) this is a work purely divine, and is of the Spirit; "holy men spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost" (2 Peter 1:21). It was the Holy Spirit that formed the human nature of Christ; what was conceived in the Virgin was of the Holy Ghost; that was fearfully and wonderfully made by him, and curiously wrought by him, in the lowest parts of the earth, (Matthew 1:20; Ps. 139:14, 15) and was richly anointed by him with his gifts and graces; even above his fellows, and without measure, (Ps. 45:7; Isa. 61:1; John 3:34) and the miracles of Christ were by him, the finger of God; and those which the apostles wrought for the confirmation of the gospel, were by the power of the Holy Ghost, (Matthew 12:28; Luke 11:20; Rom. 15:19; Heb. 2:3, 4) the work of grace in the heart is his work; regeneration and renovation are of the Holy Ghost; sanctification is called the sanctification of the Spirit; this is not by might nor power of man, but by the Spirit of God; and in which there is such a display of the exceeding greatness of divine power, as is equal to that which was exerted in raising Christ from the dead, (Titus 3:5; 1 Peter 1:2; Zech. 4:6; Eph. 1:19) yea, the resurrection of Christ himself from the dead, is attributed to the Spirit of holiness; and it is by him the Spirit which dwells in the saints, that God will quicken their mortal bodies (Rom. 1:4, 8:11).
3d. The worship which is due to the Spirit of God, and is given unto him, proves him to be God; for were he not, such worship would never be paid him; not only temples are erected by him, but for him, in which he is worshipped and glorified (Eph. 2:22; 1 Cor. 3:16, 6:19, 20). Baptism, a solemn act of religious worship, is administered in his name, as in the name of the Father and the Son (Matthew 28:19). Swearing, which is another act of worship, a solemn appeal to the omniscient God, and is mentioned as a branch of serving him, (Deut. 6:13) is made by the Spirit, and he is called upon as a witness to facts (Rom. 9:1). And prayer, a very principal part of worship, is directed to him, sometimes singly, as in (2 Thess. 3:5; Song 4:16) and sometimes, in conjunction with the other divine Persons (Rev. 1:4, 5). All which prove him to be truly and properly God; and therefore we should be careful to give him the honour and glory due unto him, as to the Father and the Son; and as we trust the Son with the whole affair of our salvation, and trust in him for it; so we should trust the Spirit of God with the work of grace upon our souls; and be confident that he that has begun it, will perform it; since "it is God that works in us, to will and to do, of his good pleasure".
My Treatise on the Trinity, was written near forty years ago, and when I was a young man; and had I now departed from some words and phrases then used by me, it need not, at such a distance of time, be wondered at: but so far from it, that upon a late revisal of it, I see no reason to retract anything I have written, either as to sense or expression; save only, in a passage or two of scripture, before observed, which then did not stand so clear in my mind, as proofs of the eternal generation of the Son of God; but, upon a more mature consideration of them, I am inclined to think otherwise, and have accordingly altered my sense of them; which alteration, as it is no ways inconsistent with the doctrine as before held by me, so it serves but the more strongly to confirm it.