(Owen, Trinity. part 3)

  3. Thirdly, It is asserted and believed by the church that Jesus
Christ is God, the eternal Son of God; - that is, he is proposed,
declared, and revealed unto us in the Scripture to be God, that is to
be served, worshipped, believed in, obeyed as God, upon the account of
his own divine excellencies. And whereas we believe and know that he
was man, that he was born, lived, and died as a man, it is declared
that he is God also; and that, as God, he did preexist in the form of
God before his incarnation, which was effected by voluntary actings of
his own, - which could not be without a pre-existence in another
nature. This is proposed unto us to be believed upon divine testimony
and by divine revelation. And the sole inquiry in this matter is,
whether this be proposed in the Scripture as an object of faith, and
that which is indispensably necessary for us to believe? Let us, then,
nakedly attend unto what the Scripture asserts in this matter, and
that in the order of the books of it, in some particular instances
which at present occur to mind; as these that follow: -
  Ps. 45: 6, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." Applied unto
Christ, Heb. 10: 8, "But unto the Son he saith, Thy throne, O God, is
for ever and ever."
  Ps. 68: 17,18, "The chariots of God are twenty thousand, even
thousands of angels: the LORD is among them, as in Sinai, in the holy
place. Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive:
thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that
the LORD God might dwell among them.". Applied unto the Son, Eph. 4:
8-10, "Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led
captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what
is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the
earth? He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above
all heavens that he might fill all things."
  Ps. 110: 1, "The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand."
Applied unto Christ by himself, Matt. 22: 44.
  Ps. 102: 25-27, "Of old hast thou laid the foundation of the earth;
and the heavens are the work of thy hands. They shall perish, but thou
shalt endure: yea, all of them shall wax old like a garment; as a
vesture shalt thou change them, and they shall be changed: but thou
art the same, and thy years shall have no end." Declared by the
apostle to be meant of the Son, Heb. 10: 10-12.
  Prov. 8: 22-31, "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way,
before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting, from the
beginning, or ever the earth was. When there were no depths, I was
brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, before the hills was I brought
forth: while as yet he had not made the earth, nor the fields, nor the
highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens, I
was there: when he set a compass upon the face of the depth: when he
established the clouds above: when he strengthened the fountains of
the deep: when he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should
not pass his commandment: when he appointed the foundations of the
earth: then I was by him, as one brought up with him: and I was daily
his delight, rejoicing always before him; rejoicing in the habitable
part of his earth; and my delights were with the sons of men."
  Isa. 6: 1-3, "I saw also the LORD sitting upon a throne, high and
lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the
seraphim: each one had six wings; With twain he covered his face, and
with twain he covered his feet, and with twain he did fly. And one
cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the LORD of hosts:
the whole earth is full of his glory." Applied unto the Son, John 12:
  Isa. 8: 13, 14, "Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be
your fear, and let him be your dread. And he shall be for a sanctuary;
but for a stone of stumbling and for a rock of offense to both the
houses of Israel, for a gin and for a snare to the inhabitants of
Jerusalem." Applied unto the Son, Luke 2: 34; Rom. 9: 33; 1 Pet. 2: 8.
  Isa. 9: 6, "For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and
the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be
called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father,
The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there
shall be no end."
  Jer. 23: 5, 6, "Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will
raise unto David a righteous Branch; and this is his name whereby he
shall be called, Jehovah our Righteousness."
  Hos. 12: 3-5, "He took his brother by the heel in the womb, and by
his strength he had power with God: yea, he had power over the angel,
and prevailed: he wept, and made supplication unto him: he found him
in Bethel, and there he spake with us; even the LORD God of hosts; the
LORD is his memorial."
  Zech. 2: 8, 9, "For thus saith the LORD of hosts, After the glory
has he sent me unto the nations which spoiled you: and ye shall know
that the LORD of hosts has sent me."
  Matt. 16: 16, "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God."
  Luke 1: 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."
  John 10: 1-3. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with
God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All
things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that
was made."
  Verse 14, "And we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only
begotten of the Father."
  John 3: 13, "And no man has ascended up to heaven, but he that came
down from heaven, even the Son of man, which is in heaven."
  John 8: 57, 58, "Then said the Jews unto him, Thou art not yet fifty
years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily,
verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am."
  John 10: 30, "I and my Father are one."
  John 17: 5, "And now, O Father, glorify thou me with thine own self
with the glory which I had with thee before the world was."
  John 20: 28, "And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my
  Acts 20: 28, "Feed the church of Cod, which he has purchased with
his own blood."
  Rom. 10: 3, 4, "Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was
made of the seed of David according to the flesh; and declared to be
the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness, by the
resurrection from the dead."
  Rom. 9: 5, "Of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over
all, God blessed for ever. Amen."
  Rom. 14: 10-12, "For we shall all stand before the judgment-seat of
Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall
bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of
us shall give account of himself to God."
  1 Cor. 8: 6, "And one Lord Jesus, by whom are all things, and we by
  1 Cor. 10: 9, "Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also
tempted, and were destroyed of serpents;" compared with Numb. 21: 6.
  Phil. 2: 5, 6, "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ
Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be
equal with God."
  Col. 1: 15-17, "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn
of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in
heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be
thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were
created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him
all things consist."
  1 Tim. 3: 16, "Without controversy great is the mystery of
godliness: God was manifest in the flesh."
  Tit. 2: 13, 14, "Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious
appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ; who gave
himself for us.
  Heb. 1 throughout.
  Chap. 3: 4, "For every house is builder by some man; but he that
built all things is God."
  1 Pet. 1: 11, "Searching what, or what manner of time, the Spirit of
Christ which was in them did signify."
  Chap. 3: 18-20, "For Christ also has once suffered for sins, being
put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit: by which also
he went and preached unto the spirits in prison; which sometime were
disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of
  1 John 3: 16, "Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid
down his life for us."
  Chap. 5: 20, "And we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus
Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life."
  Rev. 1: 8, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending,
saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the
  Verses 11-13, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last: and,
What thou sees, write in a book..... And I turned to see the voice
that spake with me. And, being turned, I saw seven golden
candlesticks; and in the midst of the seven candlesticks one like unto
the Son of man." 
  Verse 17, "And when I saw him, I fell at his feet as dead. And he
laid his right hand upon me, saying unto me, Fear not; I am the first
and the last."
  Chap. 2: 23, "I am he which searcheth the reins and hearts: and I
will give unto every one of you according to your works."
  These are some of the places wherein the truth under consideration
is revealed and declared, - some of the divine testimonies whereby it
is confirmed and established, which I have not at present inquired
after, but suddenly repeated as they came to mind. Many more of the
like nature and importance may be added unto them, and shall be so as
occasion does require.
  Let, now, any one who owns the Scripture to be the word of God, - to
contain an infallible revelation of the things proposed in it to be
believed, - and who has any conscience exercised towards God for the
receiving and submitting unto what he declares and reveals, take a
view of these testimonies, and consider whether they do not
sufficiently propose this object of our faith. Shall a few poor
trifling sophisms, whose terms are scarcely understood by the most
that amongst us make use of them, according as they have found them
framed by others, be thought meet to be set up in opposition unto
these multiplied testimonies of the Holy Ghost, and to cast the truth
confirmed by them down from its credit and reputation in the
consciences of men? For my part, I do not see in any thing, but that
the testimonies given to the Godhead of Christ, the eternal Son of
God, are every way as clear and unquestionable as those are which
testify to the being of God, or that there is any God at all. Were men
acquainted with the Scriptures as they ought to be, and as the most,
considering the means and advantages they have had, might have been;
did they ponder and believe on what they read, or had they any
tenderness in their consciences as to that reverence, obedience, and
subjection of soul which God requires unto his word; it were utterly
impossible that their faith in this matter should ever in the least be
shaken by a few lewd sophisms or loud clamours of men destitute of the
truth, and of the spirit of it.
  That we may now improve these testimonies unto the end under design,
as the nature of this brief discourse will bear, I shall first remove
the general answers which the Socinians give unto them, and then
manifest farther how uncontrollable they are, by giving an instance in
the frivolous exceptions of the same persons to one of them in
particular. And we are ready, God assisting, to maintain that there is
not any one of them which does not give a sufficient ground for faith
to rest on in this matter concerning the Deity of Christ, and that
against all the Socinians in the world.
  They say, therefore, commonly, that we prove not by these
testimonies what is by them denied. For they acknowledge Christ to be
God, and that because he is exalted unto that glory and authority that
all creatures are put into subjection unto him, and all, both men and
angels, are commanded to worship and adore him. So that he is God by
office, though he be not God by nature. He is God, but he is not the
most high God. And this last expression they have almost continually
in their mouths, "He is not the most high God." And commonly, with
great contempt and scorn, they are ready to reproach them who have
solidly confirmed the doctrine of the Deity of Christ as ignorant of
the state of the controversy, in that they have not proved him to be
the most high God, in subordination unto whom they acknowledge Christ
to be God, and that he ought to be worshipped with divine and
religious worship.
  But there cannot be any thing more empty and vain than these
pretences; and, besides, they accumulate in them their former errors,
with the addition of new ones. For, -
  First. The name of the most high God is first ascribed unto God in
Gen. 14: 18, 19, 22, denoting his sovereignty and dominion. Now, as
other attributes of God, it is not distinctive of the subject, but
only descriptive of it. So are all other excellencies of the nature of
God. It does not intimate that there are other gods, only he is the
most high, or one over them all; but only that the true God is most
high, - that is, endued with sovereign power, dominion, and authority
over all. To say, then, that Christ indeed is God, but not the most
high God, is all one as to say he is God, but not the most holy God,
or not the true God; and so they have brought their Christ into the
number of false gods, whilst they deny the true Christ, who, in his
divine nature, is "over all, God blessed for ever," Rom. 9: 5; a
phrase of speech perfectly expressing this attribute of the most high
  Secondly. This answer is suited only unto those testimonies which
express the name of God with a corresponding power and authority into
that name; for in reference unto these alone can it be pleaded, with
any pretence of reason, that he is a God by office, - though that also
be done very futilously and impertinently. But most of the testimonies
produced speak directly unto his divine excellencies and properties,
which belong unto his nature necessarily and absolutely. That he is
eternal, omnipotent, immense, omniscient, infinitely wise; and that he
is, and works, and produces effects suitable unto all these
properties, and such as nothing but they can enable him for; is
abundantly proved by the foregoing testimonies. Now, all these concern
a divine nature, a natural essence, a Godhead, and not such power or
authority as a man may be exalted unto; yea, the ascribing any of them
to such a one, implies the highest contradiction expressible.
  Thirdly. This God in authority and of office, and not by nature,
that should be the object of divine worship, is a new abomination. For
they are divine, essential excellencies that are the formal reason and
object of worship, religious and divine; and to ascribe it unto any
one that is not God by nature, is idolatry. By making, therefore,
their Christ such a God as they describe, they bring him under the
severe combination of the true God. Jer. 10: 11, "The gods that have
not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the
earth, and from under these heavens." That Christ they worship they
say is a God; but they deny that he is "that God that made the heavens
and the earth:" and so leave him exposed to the threatenings of him,
who will accomplish it to the uttermost.
  Some other general exceptions sometimes they make use of, which the
reader may free himself from the entanglement of, if he do but heed
these ensuing rules: -
  First. Distinction of persons (of which afterwards), it being in an
infinite substance, does no way prove a difference of essence between
the Father and the Son. Where, therefore, Christ, as the Son, is said
to be another from the Father, or God, spoken personally of the
Father, it argues not in the least that he is not partaker of the same
nature with him. That in one essence there can be but one person, may
be true where the substance is finite and limited, but has no place in
that which is infinite.
  Secondly. Distinction and inequality in respect of office in Christ,
does not in the least take away his equality and sameness with the
Father in respect of nature and essence, Phil. 2: 7, 8. A son, of the
same nature with his father, and therein equal to him, may in office
be his inferior, - his subject.
  Thirdly. The advancement and exaltation of Christ as mediator to any
dignity whatever, upon or in reference to the work of our redemption
and salvation, is not at all inconsistent with the essential honour,
dignity, and worth, which he has in himself as God blessed for ever.
Though he humbled himself, and was exalted in office, yet in nature he
was one and the same; he changed not.
  Fourthly. The Scriptures, asserting the humanity of Christ, with the
concernments thereof, as his birth, life, and death, do no more
thereby deny his Deity than, by asserting his Deity, with the
essential properties thereof, they deny his humanity.
  Fifthly. God working in and by Christ as he was mediator, denotes
the Father's sovereign appointment of the things mentioned to be done,
- not his immediate efficiency in the doing of the things themselves.
  These rules are proposed a little before their due place in the
method which we pursue. But I thought meet to interpose them here, as
containing a sufficient ground for the resolution and answering of all
the sophisms and objections which the adversaries use in this cause.
  From the cloud of witnesses before produced, every one whereof is
singly sufficient to evert the Socinian infidelity, I shall in one of
them give an instance, both of the clearness of the evidence and the
weakness of the exceptions which are wont to be put in against them,
as was promised; and this is John 10: 1-3, "In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in
the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him
was not any thing made that was made."
  By the Word, here, or "ho Logos", on what account soever he be so
called, either as being the eternal Word and Wisdom of the Father, or
as the great Revealer of the will of God unto us, Jesus Christ the Son
of God is intended. This is on all hands acknowledged; and the context
will admit of no hesitation about it. For of this Word it is said,
that "he came" into the world, verse 10; "was rejected by his own,"
verse 11; "was made flesh and dwelt among us, whose glory was the
glory as of the only begotten Son of the Father," verse 14; called
expressly "Jesus Christ," verse 17; "the only begotten Son of the
Father," verse 18. The subject, then, treated of, is here agreed upon;
and it is no less evident that it is the design of the apostle to
declare both who and what he was of whom he treats. Here, then, if any
where, we may learn what we are to believe concerning the person of
Christ; which also we may certainly do, if our minds are not perverted
through prejudice, "whereby the god of this world does blind the minds
of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of
Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them," 2 Cor. 4: 4.
Of this Word, then, this Son of God, it is affirmed, that he "was in
the beginning." And this word, if it does not absolutely and formally
express eternity, yet it does a pre-existence unto the whole creation;
which amounts to the same: for nothing can preexist unto all
creatures, but in the nature of God, which is eternal; unless we shall
suppose a creature before the creation of any. But what is meant by
this expression the Scripture does elsewhere declare. Prov. 8: 23, "I
was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever the earth
was." John 17: 5, "Glorify thou me with thins own self, with the glory
which I had with thee before the world was." Both which places, as
they explain this phrase, so also do they undeniably testify unto the
eternal pre-existence of Christ the Son of God. And in this case we
prevail against our adversaries, if we prove any pre-existence of
Christ unto his incarnation; which, as they absolutely deny, so to
grant it would overthrow their whole heresy in this matter. And
therefore they know that the testimony of our Saviour concerning
himself, if understood in a proper, intelligible sense, is perfectly
destructive of their pretensions, John 8: 58, "Before Abraham was, I
am." For although there be no proper sense in the words, but a gross
equivocation, if the existence of Christ before Abraham was born be
not asserted in them (seeing he spoke in answer to that objection of
the Jews, that he was not yet fifty years old, and so could not have
seen Abraham, nor Abraham him; and the Jews that were present,
understood well enough that he asserted a divine pre-existence unto
his being born, so long ago, as that hereon, after their manner, they
took up stones to stone him, as supposing him to have blasphemed in
asserting his Deity, as others now do in the denying of it); yet they
[Socinians], seeing how fatal this pre-existence, though not here
absolutely asserted to be eternal, would be to their cause, contend
that the meaning of the words is, that "Christ was to be the light of
the world before Abraham was made the father of many nations;" - an
interpretation so absurd and Scottish, as never any man not infatuated
by the god of this world could once admit and give countenance unto.
  But "in the beginning," as absolutely used, is the same with "from
everlasting," as it is expounded, Prov. 8: 23, and denotes an eternal
existence; which is here affirmed of the Word, the Son of God. But let
the word "beginning," be restrained unto the subject matter treated of
(which is the creation of all things), and the pre-existence of Christ
in his divine nature unto the creation of all things is plainly
revealed, and inevitably asserted. And indeed, not only the word, but
the discourse of these verses, does plainly relate unto, and is
expository of, the first verse in the Bible, Gen. 1: 1, "In the
beginning God created the heaven and the earth." There it is asserted
that in the beginning God created all things; here, that the Word was
in the beginning, and made all things. This, then, is the least that
we have obtained from this first word of our testimony, - namely, that
the Word or Son of God had a personal pre-existence unto the whole
creation. In what nature this must be, let these men of reason satisfy
themselves, who know that Creator and creatures take up the whole
nature of beings. One of them he must be; and it may be well supposed
that he was not a creature before the creation of any. 
  But, secondly, Where, or with whom, was this Word in the beginning?
"It was," says the Holy Ghost, "with God." There being no creature
then existing, he could be nowhere but with God; that is, the Father,
as it is expressed in one of the testimonies before going, Prov. 8:
22, "The LORD possessed me in the beginning of his way, before his
works of old;" verse 30, "Then was I by him as one brought up with
him, and I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him;" that
is, in the beginning this Word, or Wisdom of God, was with God.
  And this is the same which our Lord Jesus asserts concerning
himself, John 3: 13, "And no man," says he, "has ascended up to
heaven, but he that came down from heaven, even the Son of man which
is in heaven." And so in other places he affirms his being in heaven,
- that is, with God, - at the same time when he was on the earth;
whereby he declares the immensity of his nature, and the distinction
of his person; and his coming down from heaven before he was incarnate
on the earth, declaring his pre-existence; by both manifesting the
meaning of this expression, that "in the beginning he was with God."
But hereunto they have invented a notable evasion. For although they
know not well what to make of the last clause of the words, that says,
then he was in heaven when he spoke on earth, - "The Son of man which
is in heaven," answerable to the description of God's immensity, "Do
not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord," Jer. 23: 24, but say
that he was there by heavenly meditation, as another man may be; yet
they give a very clear answer to what must of necessity be included in
his descending from heaven, namely, his pre-existence to his
incarnation: for they tell us that, before his public ministry, he was
in his human nature (which is all they allow unto him) taken up into
heaven, and there taught the gospel, as the great impostor Mohammed
pretended he was taught his Koran. If you ask them who told them so,
they cannot tell; but they can tell when it was, - namely, when he was
led by the Spirit into the wilderness for forty days after his
baptism. But yet this instance is subject to another misadventure; in
that one of the evangelists plainly affirms that he was "those forty
days in the wilderness with the wild beasts," Mark 10: 13, and so,

(continued in part 4...)

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