Book I: Chapter 6
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HAVING concluded what relates to the Father and the Son, the next subject to be discussed is that of the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as this latter is called the Spirit of the Father and the Son. With regard to the nature of the Spirit, in what manner it exists, or whence it arose, Scripture is silent; which is a caution to us not to be too hasty in our conclusions on the subject. For though it be a Spirit, in the same sense in which the Father and Son are properly called Spirits; though we read that Christ by breathing on his disciples gave to them the Holy Ghost, or rather perhaps some symbol or pledge of the Holy Ghost, John xx. 22. —yet in treating of the nature of the Holy Spirit, we are not authorized to infer from such expressions, that the Spirit was breathed from the Father and the Son. The terms emanation and procession, employed by theologians on the authority of John xv. 26. do not relate to the nature of the Holy Spirit; 'the Spirit of truth, ὅ παρὰ τοῦ Πατρὸς ἐκπορεύεται, who proceedeth' or 'goeth forth from theFather;' which single expression is too slender a foundation for the full establishment of so great a mystery, especially as these words relate rather to the mission than to the nature of the Spirit; in which sense the Son also is often said ἐξελθεῖν, which in my opinion may be translated either to go forth or to proceed from the Father, without making any difference in the meaning, Nay, we are even said 'to live by every word (ἐκπορευομένῳ) that proceedeth', or 'goeth forth from the mouth of God,' Matt. iv. 4. Since therefore the Spirit is neither said to be generated nor created, nor is any other mode of existence specifically attributed to it in Scripture, we must be content to leave undetermined a point on which the sacred writers have preserved so uniform a silence.
The name of Spirit is also frequently applied to God and angels, and to the human mind. When the phrase, the Spirit of God, or the Holy Spirit, occurs in the Old Testament, it is to be variously interpreted; sometimes it signifies God the Father himself, —as Gen. vi. 3. 'my Spirit shall not alway strive with man;' sometimes the power and virtue of the Father, and particularly that divine breath or influence by which every thing is created and nourished. In this sense many both of the ancient and modern interpreters understand the passage in Gen. i. 2. 'theSpirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.' Here, however, it appears to be used with reference to the Son, through whom the Father is so often said to have created all things. Job xxvi. 13. 'by his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens.' xxvii. 3. 'the Spirit of God is in my nostrils.' xxxiii. 4. 'the Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.' Psal. civ. 30. 'thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created,' cxxxix. 7. 'whither shall I go then from thy Spirit?' Ezek. xxxvii. 14. 'I shall put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live.' See also many other similar passages.
Sometimes it means an angel. Isai. xlviii. 16. 'the Lord Jehovah and his Spirit hath sent me.' Ezek. iii. 12. 'then the Spirit took me up.' See also v. 14, 24, &c.
Sometimes it means Christ, who, according to the common opinion was sent by the Father to lead the Israelites into the land of Canaan. Isai. lxiii. 10, 11. 'they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit..... where is he that put his Holy Spirit within them?' —that is, the angel to whom he transferred his own name, namely, Christ 'whom they tempted,' Numb. xxi. 5, &c. compared with 1 Cor. x. 9.<204>
Sometimes it means that impulse or voice of God by which the prophets were inspired. Nehem. ix. 30. 'thou testifiedst against them by thy Spirit in thy prophets.'
Sometimes it means that light of truth, whether ordinary or extraordinary, wherewith God enlightens and leads his people. Numb. xiv. 24. 'my servant Caleb, because he had another Spirit within him'-. Nehem. ix. 20. 'thou gavest also thy good Spirit to instruct them.' Psal. li. 11, 12. 'take not thy Holy Spirit from me..... renew a right Spirit within me.' cxliii. 10. 'thy Spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness.' Undoubtedly neither David, nor any other Hebrew, under the old covenant, believed in the personality of that good and Holy Spirit, unless perhaps as an angel.
More particularly, it implies that light which was shed on Christ himself. Isai. xi. 2. 'the Spirit of Jehovah shall rest upon him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of Jehovah.' xlii. 1. 'I have put my Spirit upon him,' compared with Acts x. 38. 'how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.'
It is also used to signify the spiritual gifts conferred by God on individuals, and the act of gift itself. Gen. xli. 38. 'a man in whom the Spirit of God is.' Numb. xi. 17, 25, 26, 29. 'I will take of the Spirit which is upon thee, and will put it upon them.' 2 Kings ii. 9. 'I pray thee, let a double portion of thy Spirit beupon me.' v. 15. 'the Spirit of Elijah doth rest upon Elisha.'
Nothing can be more certain, than that all these passages, and many others of a similar kind in the Old Testament, were understood of the virtue and power of God the Father, inasmuch as the Holy Spirit was not yet given, nor believed in, even by those who prophesied that it should be poured forth in the latter times.
So likewise under the Gospel, what is called the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, sometimes means the Father himself. Matt. i. 18, 20. 'that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost.' Luke i. 35. 'the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.'
Again, it sometimes means the virtue and power of the Father. Matt. xii. 28. compared with Luke xi. 20. 'I cast out devils by the Spirit' or 'finger of God.' Rom. i. 4. 'declared to be the Son of God with power, according to the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection from the dead.' For thus the Scripture teaches throughout, that Christ was raised by the power of the Father, and thereby declared to be the Son of God. See particularly Acts xiii. 32, 33. quoted in the beginning of the last chapter. But the phrase 'according to the Spirit' (secundum Spiritum) seems to have the same signification as Eph. iv. 24. 'which after God (secundum Deum) is created in righteousness and true holiness;' and 1 Pet. iv. 6. 'that they might live according to God (secundum Deum) in the Spirit.' Isai. xlii. 1. comparedwith Heb. ix. 14. 'I have put my Spirit upon him..... who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without spot to God.' Luke iv. 1. 'Jesus, being full of the Holy Ghost,' and v. 18. compared with Isai. lxi. 1. 'the Spirit of the Lord Jehovah is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me,' &c. Acts x. 38. 'God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power.' i. 2. 'after that he through the Holy Ghost had given commandments unto the apostles whom he had chosen.' It is more probable that these phrases are to be understood of the power of the Father, than of the Holy Spirit itself; for how could it be necessary that Christ should be filled with the Holy Spirit, of whom he had himself said, John xvi. 15. 'he shall take of mine?' For the same reason I am inclined to believe that the Spirit descended upon Christ at his baptism, not so much in his own name, as in virtue of a mission from the Father, and as a symbol and minister of the divine power. For what could the Spirit confer on Christ, from whom he was himself to be sent, and to receive all things? Was his purpose to bear witness to Christ? But as yet he was himself not so much as known. Was it meant that the Spirit should be then manifested for the first time to the church? But at the time of his appearance nothing was said of him or of his office; nor did that voice from heaven bear any testimony to the Spirit, but only to the Son. The descent therefore, and appearance of the Holy Spirit in the likeness of a dove, seems to have been nothing more than a representation of the ineffable affection of the Father for the Son, communicated by the Holy Spirit, under the appropriate image of a dove, and accompanied by a voice from heaven declaratory of that affection.
Thirdly, the Spirit signifies a divine impulse, or light, or voice, or word, transmitted from above, either through Christ, who is the Word of God, or by some other channel. Mark xii. 36. 'David himself said by the Holy Ghost.' Acts i. 16. 'the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake before concerning Judas.' xxviii. 25. 'well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet.' Heb. iii. 7. 'wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-day if ye will hear his voice,' &c. ix. 8. 'the Holy Ghost this signifying, that the way into the holiest of all was not yet made manifest.' x. 15. 'whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us.' 2 Pet. i. 21. 'holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' Luke ii. 25, 26. 'the Holy Ghost was upon him: and it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost-.' It appears to me, that these and similar passages cannot be considered as referring to the express person of the Spirit, both because the Spirit was not yet given, and because Christ alone, as has been said before, is properly speaking, and in a primary sense, the Word ofGod, and the Prophet of the Church; though 'God at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,' Heb. i. 1. whence it appears that he did not speak by the Holy Spirit alone, unless the term be understood in the signification which I have proposed, and in a much wider sense than was subsequently attributed to it. Hence, 1 Pet. i. 11. 'searching what or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them' —that is, in the prophets —'did signify,' must either be understood of Christ himself, —as iii. 18, 19. 'quickened by the Spirit, by which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison,' —or it must be understood of the Spirit which supplied the place of Christ the Word and the Chief Prophet.
Lastly, the Spirit signifies the person itself of the Holy Spirit, or its symbol. Matt. iii. 16. Mark i. 10. 'he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him.' Luke iii. 22. 'in a bodily shape like a dove.' John i. 32, 33. 'like a dove.' Nor let it be objected, that a dove is not a person; for an intelligent substance, under any form whatever, is a person; as for instance, the four living creatures seen in Ezekiel's vision, ch, i. John xiv. 16, 17. 'another Comforter.' See also v. 26. xv. 26. xvi. 7, 13. xx. 22. 'he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost,' —which was a kind of symbol, and sure pledge of that promise, the fulfilment of which is recorded Acts ii. 2-4, 33. 'having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this.' Matt, xxviii. 19. 'in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' Acts xv. 28. 'it seemed good tothe Holy Ghost.' Rom. viii. 16. 'the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit.' v. 26. 'it helpeth our infirmities..... it maketh intercession for us.' Eph. i. 13, 14. τῷ πνεύματι τῷ ἁγίῳ ὅς ἐστιν ἀρ῾ρ᾽αβών 'ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise which
(who, Whitby, Macknight) is the earnest of our inheritance.' iv. 30. 'grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.'
Lastly, it signifies the donation of the Spirit itself, and of its attendant gifts. John vii. 39. 'but this spake he of the Spirit, which they that believe on him should receive; for the Holy Ghost was not yet given.' Matt. iii. 11. 'he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire.' See also Acts i. 5. and xi. 16. 1 Thess. v. 19. 'quench not the Spirit.'
Who this Holy Spirit is, and whence he comes, and what are his offices, no one has taught us more explicitly than the Son of God himself. Matt. x. 20. 'it is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.' Luke xi. 13. 'how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him.' xxiv. 49. 'behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.' John xiv. 16, 17. 'I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth.' v. 26. 'the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name.' xv. 26. 'the Comforter, whom I will send unto you from the Father, ..... which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me.' xvi. 7. 'I will send him unto you.' v. 8. 'when he is come, he will reprovethe world-.' v. 13. 'he shall not speak of himself; but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.' v. 14. 'he shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine.' v. 15. 'all things that the Father hath are mine: therefore said I that he shall take of mine.' xx. 22, 'when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost.' Acts 11. 2-4, 33. 'having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this-.' v. 32. 'we are his witnesses of these things, and so is also the Holy Ghost whom God hath given to them that obey him.' Rom. xv. 13. 'now the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that ye may abound in hope through the power of the Holy Ghost.' 1 Cor. xii 3. 'no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.'Heb. ii. 4. 'God also bearing them witness both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to his own will.' Hence he is called the Spirit of the Father, the Spirit of God, and even the Spirit of Christ. Matt. x. 20. 'it is the Spirit of your Father that speaketh in you.' Rom. viii. 9. 'but ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you: now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.' v. 15, 16. 'ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father; the Spirit itself beareth witness with our Spirit, that we are the sons of God.' 1 Cor. vi. 11. 'by the Spirit of our God.' 2 Cor. i. 21, 22. 'he which stablisheth 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.' Gal. iv. 6. 'God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.' Eph. i. 13, 14. 'that holy Spirit of promise, which is the earnest of our inheritance.' iv. 30. 'grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed.' ii. 18. 'through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.' 1 Pet. i. 12. 'the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven.' From all which results the command in Matt, xxviii. 19. 'baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' 1 John v. 7. 'there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.' The latter passage has been considered in the preceding chapter; but both will undergo a further examination in a subsequent part of the present.
If it be the divine will that a doctrine which is to be understood and believed as one of the primary articles of our faith, should be delivered without obscurity or confusion, and explained, as is fitting, in clear and precise terms, —if it be certain that particular care ought to be taken in every thing connected with religion, lest the objection urged by Christ against the Samaritans should be applicable to us —'ye worship ye know not what,' John iv. 22. —if our Lord's saying should be held sacred wherever points of faith are in question —'we know what we worship' —the particulars which have been stated seem to contain all that we are capable of knowing, or are required to know respecting the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as revelation has declared nothing else expressly on the subject. The nature of these particulars is such, that although the Holy Spirit be no where said to have taken upon himself any mediatorial functions, as is said of Christ,nor to be engaged by the obligations of a filial relation to pay obedience to the Father, yet he must evidently be considered as inferior to both Father and Son, inasmuch as he is represented and declared to be subservient and obedient in all things; to have been promised, and sent, and given; to speak nothing of himself; and even to have been given as an earnest. There is no room here for any sophistical distinction founded on a twofold nature; all these expressions refer to the Holy Spirit, who is maintained to be the supreme God; whence it follows, that wherever similar phrases are applied to the Son of God, in which he is distinctly declared to be inferior to the Father, they ought to be understood in reference to his divine as well as to his human character. For what those, who believe in the Holy Spirit's co-equality with the Father, deem to be not unworthy of him, cannot be considered unworthy of the Son, however exalted may be the dignity of his Godhead. Wherefore it remains now to be seen on what grounds, and by what arguments, we are constrained to believe that the Holy Spirit is God, if Scripture nowhere expressly teach the doctrine of his divinity, not even in the passages where his office is explained at large, nor in those where the unity of God is explicitly asserted, as in John xvii. 3. 1 Cor. viii. 4, &c. nor where God is either described, or introduced as sitting upon his throne, —if, further, the Spirit be frequently named the Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit of God, Eph. iv. 30. so that the Spirit of God being actually and numerically distinct from God himself, cannot possibly be essentially one God with him whose Spirit he is, (except on certain strange and absurd hypotheses, which have no foundation in Holy Scripture, but were devised by human ingenuity for the sole purpose of supporting this particular doctrine) —if, wherever the Father and the Holy Spirit are mentioned together, the Father alone be called God, and the Father alone, omitting all notice of the Spirit, be acknowledged by Christ himself to be the one true God, as has been proved in the former chapter by abundant testimony; if he be God who 'stablisheth us in Christ,' who 'hath anointed us,' who 'hath sealed us,' and 'given us the earnest of the Spirit,' 2 Cor. i. 22. if that God be one God, and that one God the Father; if, finally 'God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying Abba, Father,' Gal. iv. 6. whence it follows that he who sent both the Spirit of his Son and the Son himself, he on whom we are taught to call, and on whom the Spirit himself calls, is the one God and the only Father. It seems exceedingly unreasonable, not to say dangerous, that in a matter of so much difficulty, believers should be required to receive a doctrine, represented by its advocates as of primary importance and of undoubted certainty, on anything less than the clearest testimony of Scripture; and that a point which is confessedly contrary to human reason, should nevertheless be considered as susceptible of proof from human reason only, or rather from doubtful and obscure disputations.
First, then, it is usual to defend the divinity of the Holy Spirit on the ground, that the name of God seems to be attributed to the Spirit: Acts v. 3, 4. 'why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost ?..... thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God.' But if attention be paid to what has been stated before respecting the Holy Ghost on the authority of the Son, this passage will appear too weak for the support of so great a doctrinal mystery. For since the Spirit is expressly said to be sent by the Father, and in the name of the Son, he who lies to the Spirit must lie to God, in the same sense as he who receives an apostle, receives God who sent him, Matt. x. 40. John xiii 20. St. Paul himself removes all ground of controversy from this passage, and explains it most appositely by implication, 1 Thess. iv. 8. where his intention is evidently to express the same truth more at large: 'he therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his Holy Spirit.' Besides, it may be doubted whether the Holy Spirit in this passage does not signify God the Father; for Peter afterwards says, v. 9. 'how is it that ye have agreed together to tempt the Spirit of the Lord?' that is, God the Father himself, and his divine intelligence, which no one can elude or deceive. And in v. 32. the Holy Spirit is not called God, but a witness of Christ with the apostles, 'whom God hath given to them that obey him. So also Acts ii. 38. 'ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost,' given, that is, by God. But how can the gift of God be himself God, much more the supreme God?
The second passage is Acts xxviii. 25. compared with Isai. vi. 8, 9. 'I heard the voice of the Lord, saying' —&c......'well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet,' &c. See also Jer. xxxi. 31. compared with Heb. x. 15. But it has been shewn above, that the names Lord and Jehovah are through out the Old Testament attributed to whatever angel God may entrust with the execution of his commands; and in the New Testament the Son himself openly testifies of the Holy Spirit, John xvi. 13. that 'he shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak.' It cannot therefore be inferred from this passage, any more than from the preceding, that the Holy Ghost is God.
The third place is 1 Cor. iii. 16. compared with vi. 19. and 2 Cor. vi. 16. 'the temple of God'.....'the temple of the Holy Ghost.' But neither is it here said, nor does it in any way follow from hence, that the Holy Spirit is God; for it is not because the Spirit alone, but because the Father also and the Son 'make their abode with us,' that we are called 'the temple of God.' Therefore in 1 Cor. vi. 19. where we are called 'the temple of the Holy Ghost,' Paul has added, 'which ye have of God,' as if with the purpose of guarding against any error which might arise respecting the Holy Spirit in consequence of his expression. How then can it be deduced from this passage, that he whom we have of God, is God himself? In what sense we are called 'the temple of theHoly Ghost,' the same apostle has explained more fully Eph. ii. 22. 'in whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.'
The next evidence which is produced for this purpose, is the ascription of the divine attributes to the Spirit. And first, Omniscience; as if the Spirit were altogether of the same essence with God. 1 Cor. ii. 10, 11. 'the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God: for what man knoweth the things of of a man, save the spirit of a man which is in him ? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.' With regard to the tenth verse, I reply, that in the opinion of divines, the question here is not respecting the divine omniscience, but only respecting those deep things 'which God hath revealed unto us by his Spirit' —the words immediately preceding. Besides, the phrase 'all things' must be restricted to mean whatever it is expedient for us to know: not to mention that it would be absurd to speak of God searching God, with whom he was one in essence. Next, with regard to the eleventh verse, the essence of the spirit is not the subject in question; for the consequences would be full of absurdity, if it were to be understood that the Spirit of God was with regard to God, as the spirit of a man is with regard to man. Allusion therefore is made only to the intimate relationship and communion of the Spirit with God, from whom he originally proceeded. That no doubt may remain as to the truth of this interpretation, the following verse is of the same import: 'we have received.....the Spirit which is of God.' Thatwhich is of God, cannot be actually God, who is unity. The Son himself disallows the omniscience of the Spirit still more plainly. Matt. xi. 27. 'no man knoweth the Son, but the Father, neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.' What then becomes of the Holy Spirit ? for according to this passage, no third person whatever knoweth either the Father or the Son, except through their medium. Mark xiii. 32. 'of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father.' If not even the Son himself, who is also in heaven, then certainly not the Spirit of the Son, who receiveth all things from the Son himself; John xvi. 14.
Secondly, Omnipresence, on the ground that 'the Spirit of God dwelleth in us.' But even if it filled with its presence the whole circle of the earth, with all the heavens, that is, the entire fabrick of this world, it would not follow that the Spirit is omnipresent. For why should not the Spirit easily fill with the influence of its power, what the Sun fills with its light; though it does not necessarily follow that we are to believe it infinite ? If that lying spirit, I Kings xxii. 22. were able to fill four hundred prophets at once, how many thousands ought we not to think the Holy Spirit capable of pervading, even without the attributes of infinity or immensity?
Thirdly, divine works. Acts ii. 4. 'the Spirit gave them utterance.' xiii. 2. 'the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work.' Acts xx. 28. 'the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers to feed the church of God.' 2 Pet. i. 21. 'holy men ofGod spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.' A single remark will suffice for the solution of all these passages, if it be only remembered what was the language of Christ respecting the Holy Spirit, the Comforter; namely, that he was sent by the Son from the Father, that he spake not of himself, nor in his own name, and consequently, that he did not act in his own name; therefore that he did not even move others to speak of his own power, but that what he gave he had himself received. Again, 1 Cor. xii. 11. the Spirit is said to 'divide to every man severally as he will.' In answer to this it may be observed, that the Spirit himself is also said to be divided to each according to the will of God the Father, Heb. ii. 4. and that even 'the wind bloweth where it listeth,' John iii. 8. With regard to the annunciation made to Joseph and Mary, that the Holy Spirit was the author of the miraculous conception, Matt. i. 18, 20. Luke i. 35. it is not to be understood with reference to his own person alone. For it is certain that, in the Old Testament, under the name of the Spirit of God, or of the Holy Spirit, either God the Father himself, or his divine power was signified; nor had Joseph and Mary at that time heard anything of any other Holy Spirit, inasmuch as the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit are not acknowledged by the Jews even to the present day. Accordingly, in both the passages quoted, πνεῦμα ἅγιον is without the customary article; or if this be not considered as sufficiently decisive, the angel speaks in a more circumstantial manner in St. Luke; 'the Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore that holy thing which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God,' —that is, of the Father: unless we suppose that there are two Fathers, —one Father of the Son of God, another Father of the Son of man.
Fourthly, divine honours. Matt, xxviii. 19. 'baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' Here mention is undoubtedly made of three persons; but there is not a word that determines the divinity, or unity, or equality of these three. For we read, Matt. x. 41 Johnxiii. 20. of receiving a prophet in the name of a prophet, and a righteous man in the name of a righteous man, and of giving a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple; which evidently means nothing more, than because he is a prophet, or a righteous man, or a disciple. Thus too the Israelites 'were baptized unto Moses,' 1 Cor. x. 2. that is, unto the law or doctrine of Moses; and 'unto the baptism of John,' occurs in the same sense, Acts xix. 3. and 'in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,' Acts ii. 38. and 'into Jesus Christ,' and 'into his death,' Rom. vi. 3. and 'into one body,' 1 Cor. xii. 13 To be baptized therefore in their name, is to be admitted to those benefits and gifts which we have received through the Son and the Holy Spirit. Hence Paul rejoiced that no one could say he had been baptized in his name, 1 Cor. i. 13-15. It was not the imputation of making himself God that he feared, but that of affecting greater authority than was suitable to his character. From all which it is clear that when we are baptized in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, this is not done to impress upon our minds the inherent or relative natures of these threepersons, but the benefits conferred by them in baptism on those who believe, —namely, that our eternal salvation is owing to the Father, our redemption to the Son, and our sanctifcation to the Spirit. The power of the Father is inherent in himself, that of the Son and the Spirit is received from the Father; for it has been already proved on the authority of the Son, that the Son does every thing in the name of the Father, and the Spirit every thing in the name of the Father and the Son; and a confirmation of the same truth may be derived from the words immediately preceding the verse under discussion; v. 18. 'all power is given unto me..... go ye therefore..... baptizing in the name,' &c. and still more plainly by 1 Cor. vi. 11. 'but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.' Here the same three are mentioned as in baptism, 'the Son,' 'the Spirit,' and 'our God;' it follows therefore, that the Father alone is our God, of whom are both the Son and the Spirit.
But invocation is made to the Spirit. 2 Cor. xiii. 14. 'the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all.' This, however, is not so much an invocation as a benediction, in which the Spirit is not addressed as a person, but sought as a gift from him who alone is there called God, namely, the Father, from whom Christ himself directs us to seek the communication of the Spirit. Luke xi. 13. If the Spirit were ever to be invoked personally, it would be then especially, when we pray for him; yet we are commanded not to ask him of himself, but only ofthe Father. Why do we not call upon the Spirit himself, if he be God, to give himself to us ? He who is sought from the Father, and given by him, not by himself, can neither be God, nor an object of invocation. The same form of benediction occurs Gen. xlviii. 15, 16. 'the God before whom my fathers did walk..... the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads:' and Rev. i. 4. 'grace be unto you, and peace from him which is..... and from the seven spirits.' It is clear that in this passage the seven spirits, of whom more will be said hereafter, are not meant to be invoked. Besides that in this benediction the order or dignity of the things signified should be considered, rather than that of the persons; for it is by the Son that we come to the Father, from whom finally the Holy Spirit is sent. So 1 Cor. xii. 4-6. 'there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit: and there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord: and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.' Here the three are again mentioned in an inverse order; but it is one God which worketh all in all, even in the Son and the Spirit, as we are taught throughout the whole of Scripture.
Hence it appears that what is said Matt. xii. 31. 32, has no reference to the personality of the Holy Spirit. For if to sin against the Holy Spirit were worse than to sin against the Father and Son, and if that alone were an unpardonable sin, the Spirit truly would be greater than the Father and the Son. The words must therefore apply to that illumination, which, as it is highest in degree, so it is last in order of time, whereby the Father enlightens us through the Spirit.and which if any one resist, no method of salvation remains open to him. I am inclined to believe, however, that it is the Father himself who is here called the Holy Spirit, by whose Spirit, v. 28, or finger, Luke xi. 20. Christ professed to cast out devils; when therefore the Pharisees accused him falsely of acting in concert with Beelzebub, they are declared to sin unpardonably, because they said of him who had the Spirit of his Father, 'he hath an unclean spirit,' Mark iii. 30. Besides, it was to the Pharisees that he spoke thus, who acknowledged no other Spirit than the Father himself. If this be the true interpretation of the passage, which will not be doubted by any one who examines the whole context from v. 24 to v. 32. that dreaded sin against the Holy Spirit will be in reality a sin against the Father, who is the Spirit of holiness; of which he would be guilty, who should affirm that the Spirit of the Father which was working in Christ was the prince of the devils, or an unclean spirit; —as Mark clearly shows in the passage quoted above.
But the Spirit bestows grace and blessing upon the churches in conjunction with the Father and the Son; Rev. i. 4, 5. 'grace be unto you and peace from him which is..... and from the seven spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ.' It is clear, however, that the Holy Spirit is not here meant to be implied; the number of the spirits is inconsistent with such a supposition, as well as the place which they are said to occupy, standing like angels before the throne. See also iv. 5. and v 6. where the same spirits are called 'seven lamps of fire burning before the throne,' and the 'seven horns' and sage, which is a matter of criticism rather than of doctrine. Further, I would ask whether there is one Spirit that bears record in heaven, and another which bears record in earth, or whether both are the same Spirit. If the same, it is extraordinary that we nowhere else read of his bearing witness in heaven, although his witness has been always most conspicuously manifested in earth, that is, in our hearts. Christ certainly brings forward himself and his Father as the only witnesses of himself, John viii. 16, 19. Why then, in addition to two other perfectly competent witnesses, should the Spirit twice bear witness to the same thing ? On the other hand, if it be another Spirit, we have here a new and unheard of doctrine. There are besides other circumstances, which in the opinion of many render the passage suspicious; and yet it is on the authority of this text, almost exclusively, that the whole doctrine of the Trinity has been hastily adopted.'seven eyes' of the Lamb. Those who reduce these spirits to one Holy Spirit, and consider them as synonymous with his sevenfold grace, (an opinion which is deservedly refuted by Beza, ) ought to beware, lest, by attributing to mere virtues the properties of persons, they furnish arguments to those commentators who interpret the Holy Spirit as nothing more than the virtue and power of the Father. This may suffice to convince us, that in this kind of threefold enumerations the sacred writers have no view whatever to the doctrine of three divine persons, or to the equality or order of those persons; —not even in that verse which has been mentioned above, and on which commentators in general lay so much stress, 1 John v. 7. 'there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one,' where there is in reality nothing which implies either divinity or unity of essence. As to divinity, God is not the only one who is said to bear record in heaven; 1 Tim. v. 21. 'I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels,' —where it might have been expected that the Holy Spirit would have been named in the third place, if such ternary forms of expression really contained the meaning which is commonly ascribed to them. What kind of unity is intended, is sufficiently plain from the next verse, in which 'the spirit, the water, and the blood' are mentioned, which 'are to bear record to one,' or 'to that one thing.' Beza himself, who is generally a staunch defender of the Trinity, understands the phrase unum sunt to mean, agree in one. What it is that they testify, appears in the fifth and sixth verses —namely, that 'he that overcometh the world is he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God, even Jesus Christ,' that is, the anointed; therefore he is not one with, nor equal to, him that anointed him. Thus the very record that they bear is inconsistent with the essential unity of the witnesses, which is attempted to be deduced from the passage. For the Word is both the Son and Christ, that is, as has been said, the anointed; and as he is the image, as it were, by which we see God, so is he the word by which we hear him. But if such be his nature, he cannot be essentially one with God, whom no one can see or hear. The same has been already proved, by other arguments, with regard to the Spirit; it follows, therefore, that these three are not one in essence. I say nothing of the suspicion of spuriousness attached to the pas
Lest however we should be altogether ignorant who or what the Holy Spirit is, although Scripture nowhere teaches us in express terms, it may be collected from the passages quoted above, that the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as he is a minister of God, and therefore a creature, was created or produced of the substance of God, not by a natural necessity, but by the free will of the agent, probably, before the foundations of the world were laid, but later than the Son, and far inferior to him. It will be objected, that thus the Holy Spirit is not sufficiently distinguished from the Son. I reply, that the Scriptural expressions themselves, 'to come forth,' 'to go out from the Father,' 'to proceed from the Father,' whichmean the same in the Greek, do not distinguish the Son from the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as these terms are used indiscriminately with reference to both persons, and signify their mission, not their nature. There is however sufficient reason for placing the name as well as the nature of the Son above that of the Holy Spirit in the discussion of topics relative to the Deity; inasmuch as the brightness of the glory of God, and the express image of his person, are said to have been impressed on the one, and not on the other.
This seems to be said in allusion to the controversies which arose between the Eastern and Western Churches on the subject of the spiration or procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father and the Son.
Sciunt, qui in Hebræis literis versati sunt, quam late pateat Spiritus nomen. Origine sua ventum significat; ob cujus subtilitatem, quæ visum fugit, ad alia transfertur; primum ad substantias; nam Deus, angeli boni malique, deinde ipse hominis animus eo vocabulo nuncupatur.' Grotius ad Luc. ix. 55. See also Glocester Ridley's First Sermon on the Divinity and Personality of the Holy Ghost, where he cautions against those grosser errors which arise from a confusion of kind.
Milton seems to allude to the Rabbinical interpretation of this passage, which, following the opinion of some of the Fathers, explains the Spirit of God to mean τὴν δύναμιν διαπλαστικὴν, or τὴν ενεργείαν ζωτικὴν, the creative or vivifying power. It seems extraordinary that Patrick should have chosen to adopt a mode of explanation nearly similar, and not less objectionable. 'This therefore we are to understand to be here meant; the infinite wisdom and power of God, which made a vehement commotion and mighty fermentation (by raising perhaps a great wind) upon the face of the waters.' So too Grotius.
The Spanish Jesuit Sanctius, and Pradus (In Ezechielem Explanationes, &c. Romæ 1596.) understand this passage in the sense attributed to it by Milton.
See an elaborate refutation of the opinion that this doctrine was unknown before the Christian Revelation, in Ridley's Second Sermon on the Holy Ghost.
..... In likeness of a dove
The Spirit descended, while the Father's voice
From Heav'n pronounc'd him his beloved Son.
Paradise Regained, I. 30.
In another part of the same book, Milton intimates an uncertainty respecting the real signification of the descent of the Holy Spirit, which is very consistent with the hesitating manner in which he comments on the passage in this treatise.
..... thence on his head
A perfect dove descend, (whate'er it meant,)
And out of Heav'n the sorran voice I heard, &c. 82.
Clarke, as might be expected, gives the same explanation of the passage, (Scripture Doctrine, Part I. Sect 2. No. 66.) also quoting 1 Thess. iv. 8. He supports his opinion on the authority of Athanasius. Ὥστε ὁ ψευσάμενος τῷ ἁγίῳ πνεύματι, τῷ Θεῷ ἐψεύσατο, τῷ κατοικοῦντι ἐν ἀνθρώποις διὰ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ; ὅπου γάρ ἐστι τὸ πνεῦμα τοῦ Θεου, ἐκεῖ ἐστιν ὁ Θέος. ἐν τούτῳ γὰρ, φησὶ, γινώσκομεν ὅτι ὁ Θέος ἐν ἡμῖν μένει ὅτι ἐκ τοῦ πνεύματος αὐτοῦ δέδωκεν ἡμῖν. De Incarnat. Verbi, et contra Arianos.
There is some error in this passage in the manuscript, where it is written thus: 'Quicquid incertum est annon hoc loco Spiritus Sanctus Deum Patrem significat: idem enim Petrus, &c.' Unless we suppose that some words have fallen out, the sentence may be corrected by a very slight alteration: —Quid, quod incertum est annon hoc loco Spiritus Sanctus Deum Patrem significet? idem, &c. I have followed this conjecture in the translation, as it is a form of sentence very frequently used in other parts of the treatise.
So Beza and Grotius explain the passage.
'Dei majestati adjungit suos stipatores, non tamen quasi illos ulla in parte Deo exæquet, vel cum Christo conferat, sicut etiam Paulus testes una citat Deum, Christum, et angelos, 1 Tim. v. 21. Nam quod septem hos spiritus nonnulli pro Spiritu Sancto acceperunt, cujus septiformis, ut loquuntur, sit gratia, manifeste refelli potest vel ex eo quod scribitur infra v. 5, 6. At ne quis hoc loco offendatur, quasi ad istos spiritus aliquid transferatur quod ad Deitatem tantum pertineat, vel quasi Christus istis spiritibus subjiciatur, considerentur divina elogia quæ paulo post tribuuntur Christo Unius enim Dei est, et quidem qui homo sit factus, sanguine suo abluere mundi peccata; neque usquam angelis gloria et robur æternum tribuitur, sed hoc ipsum est quod angeli Dei acclamant. Christus ergo ut Deus hic describitur; septem autem isti spiritus ut ministri ante thronum collocantur; ergo etiam coram Christo, ut qui Deo Patri assideat. Denique ut nemo de hoc possit ambigere, iidem isti septem Spiritus infra v. 5, 6. Agni cornua et oculi, id est, ministri, dicuntur.' Beza ad Apoc. i. 4.
According to the doctrine of the Socinians. 'Respondemus Spiritum Sanctum quidem per se, et, ut in scholis loquuntur, abstracte sumptum, qualitatem re vera esse, non substantiam.' Crellius, in answer to the question 'an Spiritus Sanctus substantia quædam sit, an vero mera tantum qualitas a Deo profecta.'
See page 125, note.