Page images

nion 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 Son and Christ, that is, as I say, 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. nothing of the suspicion of spuriousness attached to the passage, 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 always been 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. 1 See page 94, Note 7.

8 • 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, san. guine 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. Drusius coincides in opinion with Beza, and Mede, B. I. Disc. 10.

9 According to the docrine of the Socinians. • Respondemus Spiritum Sanctum quidem per se, et, ut in scholis loquuntur, abstracte sumptum, qualitatem revera esse, non substantiam Crellius, in answer to the question . an Spiritus Sanctus substantia quædam sit, an vero mera tantum qualitas a Deo profecta.' The expression of the old Socinian catechism is

Spiritus Sanctus est virtus Dei.' The earliest heresy on this subject was that of Macedonius, in the middle of the fourth century ; in opposition to which the following words were added to the Nicene creed by the second general council, assembled at Constant ople, A.D. 381 :—The Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father, who with the Father and the Sou together is worshipped and glorified, who spake by the prophets.' Tne wtly cw and the Son' were added subsequently by the Spanish and Gallic Cb ches. See Bull's Judgment of the Catholic Church, chap. vi.

2 See page 94, note 7. 3 This assertion is so far from being correct, that almost all the most judicious defenders of the Trinity, especially in modern times; off thin from resting any part of the weight of their argument on this verse,

I say

:ven when


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,” which mean 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.

[ocr errors]

CHAP. VII.-OF THE CREATION. The second species of external efficiency is commonly called CREATION.“ As to the actions of God before the foundation they admit its genuineness. See particularly Wardlaw On the Socinian Controversy, p. 16, a book which deserves to be mentioned in the very first class of the valuable productions of the present age.

4 Mr. Dunster (Considerations on Milton's Early Reading, and the Prima Stamina of Paradise Lost) has undertaken to prove, and Mr Todd (An Inquiry into the Origin of Paradise Lost, prefixed to Milton's Poetical Works, vol. ii. 246) coincides in the opinlon, that the poet has adopted several thoughts and expressions from Joshua Sylvester's translation of the Divine Bookes and Workes of Du Bartas. As the subject of the poem is the same as that of this chapter, it seemed proper to refer to it for the purpose of ascertşining whether any passages appeared to have been present to the mind of Milton while discussing the same topic. They differ in some important particulars, -as, for instance, on the Trinity, and on the creation of the world out of nothing, Du Bartas maintaining that all this all did once of nought begin. There are, however, a few points sufficiently coincident to deserve noting, which the reader will find quoted



of the world, it would be the height of folly to inquire into them, and almost equally so to attempt a solution of the question. With regard to the account which is generally given from 1 Cor. i. 7. “he ordained his wisdom in a mys. tery, even the hidden mystery which God ordained before the world,”—or, as it is explained, that he was occupied with election and reprobation, and with decreeing other things relative to these subjects, -it is not imaginable that God should have been wholly occupied from eternity in decreeing that which was to be created in a period of six days, and which, after having been governed in divers manners for a few thousand years, was finally to be received into an immutable state with himself, or to be rejected from his presence for all eternity.

That the world was created, is an article of faith : Heb. xi. 3. “through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God.”

CREATION is that act whereby GOD THE FATHER PRODUCED in the proper places. The questions alluded to in the first paragraph of this chapter, are thus noticed by Du Bartas.

Thou scoffing Atheist, that inquirest what
Th’ Almighty did before he framed that ;
What weighty worke his minde was busied on
Eternally, before this world begun

God was not void of sacred exercise ;
He did admire his glories mysteries :
His power, his justice, and his providence,
His bounteous grace, and great beneficence
Were th' holy object of his heavenly thought,
Upon the which eternally it wrought.
It may be also that he meditated
The world's idea, ere it was created.

Sylvester's Du Bartas, London, 1641, p. 2. 5 Milton elsewhere alludes to the less serious employments of the Deity before the creation of the world, referring to Prov. viii. 24, 25, 30. • God himseif conceals us not his own recreations before the world was built ; I was saith the Eternal Wisdom, daily his delight, playing always before him.' Tetrachordun. Prose Works, III. 331.

And again,
Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th’ Almighty Father, pleas'd
With thy celestial song. Paradise Lost, VII. 8.


[ocr errors]


WHEREBY GOD THE FATHER. Job ix. 8. “ which alone spreadeth out the heavens.' Isai. xliv. 24. “I am Jehovah that maketh all things ; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone ; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself.” xlv. 6, 7. “that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me: I am Jehovah, and there is none else : I form the light, and create darkness.” If there be any thing like a common meaning, or universally received usage of words, this language not only precludes the possibility of there being any other God, but also of there being any co-equal person, of any kind whatever. Neh. ix. 6. "thou art Jehovah alone ; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens.” Mal. ü. 10. " have we not all one Father ? hath not one God created us ?Hence Christ him. self says, Matt. xi. 25. “I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth.” So, too, all the apostles, Acts iv. 24. compared with v. 27. “ Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is .... the kings of the earth stood up.... against thy holy child Jesus.'' Rom. xi. 36. “for of him, and through him, and to him are all things. 1 Cor. viii. 6. “to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things.” 2 Cor. iv. 6. " for God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.” Heb. ii. 10. “him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things.” iii. 4. “He that built all things is God.”

BY HIS WORD. Gen. i. throughout the whole chapterGod said.” Psal. xxxiii. 6. "by the word of Jehovah were the heavens made.” v. 9. " for he spake, and it was done.” cxlviii. 5. "he commanded, and they were created.” 2 Pet. iii. 5. "by the word of God the heavens were of old,” that is, as is evident from other passages, by the Son, who appears

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

to let forth The King of Glory, in his powerful Word And Spirit, coming to create new worlds.

Paradise Lost, VII. 207.

« PreviousContinue »