(Owen, Trinity. part 4)

surely, not in heaven in the same nature, by his bodily presence, with
God and his holy angels.
  And let me add this, by the way, that the interpretation of this
place, John 10: 1, to be mentioned afterward, and those of the two
places before mentioned, John 8: 58, 3: 13, Faustus Socinus learned
out of his uncle Laelius' papers, as he confesses; and does more than
intimate that he believed he had them as it were by revelation. And it
may be so; they are indeed so forced, absurd, and irrational, that no
man could ever fix upon them by any reasonable investigation; but the
author of these revelations if we may judge of the parent by the
child, could be no other but the spirit of error and darkness. I
suppose, therefore, that notwithstanding these exceptions, Christians
will believe "that in the beginning the Word was with God;" that is,
that the Son was with the Father, as is frequently elsewhere declared.

  But who was this Word? Says the apostle, He was God. He was so with
God (that is, the Father), as that he himself was God also; - God, in
that notion of God which both nature and the Scripture do represent;
not a god by office, one exalted to that dignity (which cannot well be
pretended before the creation of the world), but as Thomas confessed
him, "Our Lord and our God," John 20: 28; or as Paul expresses it,
"Over all, God blessed for ever;" or the most high God; which these
men love to deny. Let not the infidelity of men, excited by the craft
and malice of Satan, seek for blind occasions, and this matter is
determined; if the word and testimony of God be able to umpire a
difference amongst the children of men. Here is the sum of our creed
in this matter, "In the beginning the Word was God," and so continues
unto eternity, being Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the Lord
God Almighty.
  And to show that he was so God in the beginning, as that he was one
distinct, in something, from God the Father, by whom afterward he was
sent into the world, he adds, verse 2, "The same was in the beginning
with God." Farther, also, to evince what he has asserted and revealed
for us to believe, the Holy Ghost adds, both as a firm declaration of
his eternal Deity, and also his immediate care of the world (which how
he variously exercised, both in a way of providence and grace, he
afterward declares), verse 3, "All things were made by him." He was so
in the beginning, before all things, as that he made them all. And
that it may not be supposed that the "all" that he is said to make or
create was to be limited unto any certain sort of things, he adds,
that "without him nothing was made that was made;" which gives the
first assertion an absolute universality as to its subject.
And this he farther describes, verse 10, "He was in the world, and the
world was made by him." The world that was made, has a usual
distribution, in the Scripture, into the "heavens and the earth, and
all things contained in them;" - as Acts 4: 24, "Lord, thou art God,
which best made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them
is;" that is, the world, the making whereof is expressly assigned unto
the Son, Heb. 1: 10, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the
foundation of the earth; and the heavens are the works of thine
hands." And the apostle Paul, to secure our understandings in this
matter, instances in the most noble parts of the creation, and which,
if any, might seem to be excepted from being made by him, Col. 1: 16,
"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." The Socinians say, indeed, that he made angels to
be thrones and principalities; that is, he gave them their order, but
not their being: which is expressly contrary to the words of the text;
so that a man knows not well what to say to these persons, who, at
their pleasure, cast off the authority of God in his word: "By him
were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth."
  What now can be required to secure our faith in this matter? In what
words possible could a divine revelation of the eternal power and
Godhead of the Son of God be made more plain and clear unto the sons
of men? Or how could the truth of any thing more evidently be
represented unto their minds? If we understand not the mind of God and
intention of the Holy Ghost in this matter, we may utterly despair
ever to come to an acquaintance with any thing that God reveals unto
us; or, indeed, with any thing else that is expressed or is to be
expressed, by words. It is directly said that the Word (that is
Christ, as is acknowledged by all) "was with God," distinct from him;
and "was God," one with him; that he was so "in the beginning," before
the creation, that he "made all things," - the world, all things in
heaven and in earth: and if he be not God, who is? The sum is, - all
the ways whereby we may know God are, his name, his properties, and
his works; but they are all here ascribed by the Holy Ghost to the
Son, to the Word: and he therefore is God, or we know neither who nor
what God is.
  But say the Socinians, "These things are quite otherwise, and the
words have another sense in them than you imagine." What is it, I
pray? We bring none to them, we impose no sense upon them, we strain
not any word in them, from, beside, or beyond its native, genuine
signification, its constant application in the Scripture, and common
use amongst men. What, then, is this latent sense that is intended,
and is discoverable only by themselves? Let us hear them coining and
stamping this sense of theirs.
  First, they say that by "In the beginning," is not meant of the
beginning of all things, or the creation of them, but the beginning of
the preaching of the gospel. But why so, I pray? Wherever these words
are else used in the Scripture, they denote the beginning of all
things, or eternity absolutely, or an existence preceding their
creation. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,"
Gen. 1: 1. "I was set up from everlasting, from the beginning, or ever
the earth was," Prov. 8: 23. "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid
the foundation of the earth," Heb. 1: 10. And besides, these words are
never used absolutely anywhere for the beginning of the gospel. There
is mention made, indeed, of the "beginning of the gospel of Jesus
Christ," Mark 1: 1, which is referred to the preaching of John
Baptist: but "In the beginning," absolutely, is never so used or
applied; and they must meet with men of no small inclination unto
them, who will, upon their desire, in a matter of so great importance,
forego the sense of words which is natural and proper, fixed by its
constant use in the Scripture, when applied in the same kind, for that
which is forced and strained, and not once exemplified in the whole
book of God. But the words, they say, are to be restrained to the
subject-matter treated of. Well, what is that subject-matter? "The new
creation, by the preaching of the gospel." But this is plainly false;
nor will the words allow any such sense, nor the contempt, nor is any
thing offered to give evidence unto this corrupt perverting of the
words, unless it be a farther perverting of other testimonies no less
clear than this.
  For what is, according to this interpretation, the meaning of these
words, "In the beginning was the Word?" "That is, when John Baptist
preached, and said, "This is the Lamb of God," which was signally the
beginning of the gospel, - then he was." That is, he was when he was,
- no doubt of it! And is not this a notable way of interpreting of
Scripture which these great pretenders to a dictatorship in reason,
indeed hucksters in sophistry, do make use of? But to go on with them
in this supposition, How was he then with God, - "The Word was with
God?" "That is," say they, "he was then known only to God, before John
Baptist preached him in the beginning." But what shall compel us to
admit of this uncouth sense and exposition, - "'He was with God;' that
is, he was known to God alone?" What is there singular herein?
Concerning how many things may the same be affirmed? Besides, it is
absolutely false. He was known to the angel Gabriel, who came to his
mother with the message of his incarnations Luke 1: 35. He was known
to the two angels which appeared to the shepherds upon his birth, Luke
2: 9, - to all the heavenly host assembled to give praise and glory to
God on the account of his nativity, as those who came to worship him,
and to pay him the homage due unto him, Luke 2: 10,13,14. He was known
to his mother, the blessed Virgin, and to Joseph, and Zacharias, and
to Elizabeth, to Simon and Anna, to John Baptist, and probably to many
more to whom Simon and Anna spoke of him, Luke 2: 38. So that the
sense pretended to be wrung out and extorted from these words, against
their proper meaning and intendment, is indeed false and frivolous,
and belongs not at all unto them.
  But let this pass. What shall we say to the next words, "And the
Word was God?" Give us leave, without disturbance from you, but to
believe this expression, which comprises a revelation of God, proposed
to us on purpose that we should believe it, and there will be, as was
said, an end of this difference and debate. Yea, but say they, "These
words have another sense also." Strange! They seem to be so plain and
positive, that it is impossible any other sense should be fixed on
them but only this, that the Word was in the beginning, and was God;
and therefore is so still, unless he who is once God can cease so to
be. "But the meaning is, that afterwards God exalted him, and made him
God, as to rule, authority, and power." This making of him God is an
expression very offensive to the ears of all sober Christians; and was
therefore before exploded. And these things here, as all other
figments, hang together like a rope of sand. In the beginning of the
gospel he was God, before any knew him but only God; that is, after he
had preached the gospel, and died, and rose again, and was exalted at
the right hand of God, he was made God, and that not properly, which
is absolutely impossible, but in an improper sense! How prove they,
then, this perverse nonsense to be the sense of these plain words?
They say it must needs be so. Let them believe them who are willing to
perish with them.
  Thus far, then, we have their sense: - "In the beginning," that is,
about sixteen or seventeen hundred years ago, "the Word," that is, the
human nature of Christ before it was made flesh, which it was in its
being, "was with God," that is, known to God alone; and "in the
beginning," that is afterwards, not in the beginning, was made God! -
which is the sum of their exposition of this place.
  But what shall we say to what is affirmed concerning his making of
all things, so as that without him, that is, without his making of it,
nothing was made that was made; especially seeing that these "all
things" are expressly said to be the world, verse 10, and all things
therein contained, even in heaven and earth? Col. 1: 16. An ordinary
man would think that they should now be taken hold of, and that there
is no way of escape left unto them; but they have it in a readiness.
By the "all things" here, are intended all things of the gospel, - the
preaching of it, the sending of the apostles to preach it, and to
declare the will of God; and by the "world," is intended the world to
come, or the new state of things under the gospel. This is the
substance of what is pleaded by the greatest masters amongst them in
this matter, and they are not ashamed thus to plead.
And the reader, in this instance, may easily discern what a desperate
cause they are engaged in, and how bold and desperate they are in the
management of it. For, -
  First, The words are a plain illustration of the divine nature of
the Word, by his divine power and works, as the very series of them
declares. He was God, and he made all things: "He that built all
things is God," Heb. 3: 4.
  Secondly, There is no one word spoken concerning the gospel, nor the
preaching of it, nor any effects of that preaching; which the apostle
expressly insists upon and declares afterward, verse 15, and so
  Thirdly, The making of all things, here ascribed unto the Word, was
done in the beginning; but that making of all things which they
intend, in erecting the church by the preaching of the word, was not
done in the beginning, but afterwards, - most of it, as themselves
confess, after the ascension of Christ into heaven.
  Fourthly, In this gloss, what is the meaning of "All things?" "Only
some things," say the Socinians. What is the meaning of "Were made?"
"That is, were mended." "By him?" "That is, the apostles, principally
preaching the gospel." And this "In the beginning?" "After it was
past;" - for so they say expressly, that the principal things here
intended were effected by the apostles afterwards.
  I think, since the beginning, place it when you will, - the
beginning of the world or the beginning of the gospel, - there was
never such an exposition of the words of God or man contended for.
  Fifthly, It is said, "He made the world," and he "came" into it, - 
namely, the world which he made; and "the world," or the inhabitants
of it "knew him not." But the world they intend did know him: for the
church knew him, and acknowledged him to be the Son of God; for that
was the foundation that it was built upon.
  I have instanced directly in this only testimony, to give the reader
a pledge of the full confirmation which may be given unto this great
fundamental truth, by a due improvement of those other testimonies, or
distinct revelations, which speak no less expressly to the same
purpose. And of them there is not any one but we are ready to
vindicate it, if called whereunto, from the exceptions of these men;
which how bold and sophistical they are we may, in these now
considered, also learn and know.
  It appears, then, that there is a full, sufficient revelation made
in the Scripture of the eternal Deity of the Son of God; and that he
is so, as is the Father also. More particular testimonies I shall not
at present insist upon, referring the full discussion and vindication
of these truths to another season.
  4. Fourthly, We are, therefore, in the next place, to manifest that
the one, or the like testimony, is given unto the Deity of the Holy
Spirit; that is, that he is revealed and declared in the Scripture as
the object of our faith, worship, and obedience, on the account and
for the reason of those divine excellencies which are the sole reason
of our yielding religious worship unto any, or expecting from any the
reward that is promised unto us, or to be brought by them to the end
for which we are. And herein lies, as was showed, the concernment of
faith. When that knows what it is to believe as on divine revelation,
and is enabled thereby to regulate the soul in its present obedience
and future expectation, seeing it is its nature to work by love and
hope, there it rests. Now, this is done to the utmost satisfaction in
the revelation that is made of the divine existence, divine
excellencies, and divine operations of the Spirit; as shall be briefly
But before we proceed, we may, in our way, observe a great congruency
of success in those who have denied the Deity of the Son and those who
have denied that of the Holy Spirit. For as to the Son, after some men
began once to disbelieve the revelation concerning him, and would not
acknowledge him to be God and man in one person, they could never
settle nor agree, either what or who he was, or who was his Father, or
why he was the Son. Some said he was a phantasm or appearance, and
that he had no real subsistence in this world; and that all that was
done by him was an appearance, he himself being they know not what
elsewhere. That proud beast, Paulus Samosatenus, whose flagitious life
contended for a preeminence in wickedness with his prodigious
heresies, was one of the first, after the Jews, that positively
contended for his being a man, and no more; who was followed by
Photinus and others. The Arians perceiving the folly of this opinion,
with the odium of it amongst all that bare the name of Christians, and
that they had as good deny the whole Scripture as not grant unto him a
pre-existence in a divine nature antecedent to his incarnation, they
framed a new Deity, which God should make before the world, in all
things like himself, but not the same with him in essence and
substance, but to be so like him that, by the writings of some of
them, ye can scarce know the one from the other; and that this was the
Son of God, also, who was afterward incarnate. Others, in the
meantime, had more monstrous imaginations: some, that he was an angel;
some, that he was the sun; some, that he was the soul of the world;
some, the light within men. Departing from their proper rest, so have
they hovered about, and so have they continued to do until this day.
  In the same manner it is come to pass with them who have denied the
Deity of the Holy Ghost. They could never find where to stand or
abide; but one has cried up one thing, another another. At first they
observed that such things were everywhere ascribed unto him in the
Scripture as uncontrollably evidence him to be an intelligent,
voluntary agent. This they found so plain and evident, that they could
not deny but that he was a person, or an intelligent subsistence.
Wherefore, seeing they were resolved not to assent unto the revelation
of his being God, they made him a created spirit, chief and above all
others; but still, whatever else he were, he was only a creature. And
this course some of late also have steered.
  The Socinians, on the other hand, observing that such things are
assigned and ascribed unto him, as that, if they acknowledge him to be
a person, or a substance, they must, upon necessity, admit him to be
God, though they seemed not, at first, at all agreed what to think or
say concerning him positively, yet they all concurred peremptorily in
denying his personality. Hereon, some of them said he was the gospel,
which others of them have confuted; some, that he was Christ. Neither
could they agree whether there was one Holy Ghost or more; - whether
the Spirit of God, and the good Spirit of God, and the Holy Spirit, be
the same or no. In general, now they conclude that he is "vis Dei" or
"virtue Dei," or "efficacia Dei;" - no substance, but a quality, that
may be considered either as being in God, and then they say it is the
Spirit of God; or as sanctifying and conforming men unto God, and then
they say it is the Holy Ghost. Whether these things do answer the
revelation made in the Scripture concerning the eternal Spirit of Cod,
will be immediately manifested. Our Quakers, who have for a long
season hovered up and down like a swarm of flies, with a confused
noise and humming, begin now to settle in the opinions lately by them
declared for. But what their thoughts will fall in to be concerning
the Holy Ghost, when they shall be contented to speak intelligibly,
and according to the usage of other men, or the pattern of Scripture
the great rule of speaking or treating about spiritual things, I know
not, and am uncertain whether they do so themselves or no. Whether he
may be the light within them, or an infallible afflatus, is uncertain.
In the meantime, what is revealed unto us in the Scripture to be
believed concerning the Holy Ghost, his Deity and personality, may be
seen in the ensuing testimonies.
  The sum of this revelation is, - that the Holy Spirit is an
eternally existing divine substance, the author of divine operations,
and the object of divine and religious worship; that is, "Over all,
God blessed for ever," as the ensuing testimonies evince: -
  Gen. 10: 2, "The Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters"
  Ps. 33: 6, "By the word of the LORD were the heavens made; and all
the host of them by the Spirit of his mouth."
  Job 26: 13, "By his Spirit he has garnished the heavens."
  Job 33: 4, "The Spirit of God has made me."
  Ps. 104: 30, "Thou sendest forth thy Spirit, they are created."
  Matt. 28: 19, "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
  Acts 1: 16, "That scripture must needs have been fulfilled, which
the Holy Ghost by the mouth of David spake."
  Acts 5: 3, "Peter said, Ananias, why has Satan filled thins heart to
lie to the Holy Ghost?" verse 4, "Thou hast not lied unto men, but
unto God."
  Acts 28: 20, 26, "Well spake the Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet
unto our fathers, saying, Go unto this people, and say," etc.
  1 Cor. 3: 16, "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that
the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?"
  1 Cor. 12: 11, "All these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit,
dividing to every man severally as he will." Verse 6, "And there are
diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in
  2 Cor. 13: 14, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of
God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all."
  Acts 20: 28, "Take heed to the flock over the which the Holy Ghost
has made you overseers."
  Matt. 12: 31, "All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven
unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be
forgiven unto men."
  Ps. 139: 7, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit?"
  John 14: 26, "But the comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the
Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things."
  Luke 12: 12, "The Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what
ye ought to say."
  Acts 13: 2, "As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy
Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I
have called them."
  Verse 4, "So they, being sent forth by the Holy Ghost, departed unto
Seleucia," etc.
2 Pet. 1: 21, "For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of
man, but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost."
  It is evident, upon the first consideration, that there is not any
thing which we believe concerning the Holy Ghost, but that it is
plainly revealed and declared in these testimonies. He is directly
affirmed to be, and is called, "God," Acts 5: 3, 4; which the
Socinians will not say is by virtue of an exaltation unto an office or
authority, as they say of the Son. He is an intelligent, voluntary,
divine agent; he knows, he works as he will: which things, if, in
their frequent repetition, they are not sufficient to evince an
intelligent agent, a personal subsistence, that has being, life, and
will, we must confess that the Scripture was written on purpose to
lead us into mistakes and misapprehensions of what we are under
penalty of eternal ruin, rightly to apprehend and believe. It
declares, also, that he is the author and worker of all sorts of
divine operations, requiring immensity, omnipotence, omniscience, and
all other divine excellencies, unto their working and effecting.
Moreover, it is revealed that he is peculiarly to be believed in, and
may peculiarly be sinned against, [as] the great author of all grace
in believers and order in the church. This is the sum of what we
believe, of what is revealed in the Scripture concerning the Holy
  As, in the consideration of the preceding head, we vindicated one
testimony in particular from the exceptions of the adversaries of the
truth, so on this we may briefly sum up the evidence that is given us
in the testimonies before produced, that the reader may the more
easily understand their intendment, and what, in particular, they bear
witness unto.
  The sum is that the Holy Ghost is a divine, distinct person, and
neither merely the power or virtue of God, nor any created spirit
whatever. This plainly appears, from what is revealed concerning him.
For he who is placed in the same series or order with other divine
persons, without the least note of difference or distinction from
them, as to an interest in personality; who has the names proper to a
divine person only, and is frequently and directly called by them; who
also has personal properties, and is the voluntary author of personal,
divine operations, and the proper object of divine worship, - he is a
distinct divine person. And if these things be not a sufficient
evidence and demonstration of a divine, intelligent substance, I
shall, as was said before, despair to understand any thing that is
expressed and declared by words. But now thus it is with the Holy
Ghost, according to the revelation made conceding him in the
Scripture. For, -
  First. He is placed in the same rank and order, without any note of
difference or distinction as to a distinct interest in the divine
nature (that is, as we shall see, personality) with the other divine
persons. Matt. 28: 19, "Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and
of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. 1 John 5: 7, "There are three that
bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and
these three are one." 1 Cor. 12: 3-6, "No man can say that Jesus is
the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost. Now, 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

(continued in part 5...)

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