(owen, trinity. part 5)

same God which worketh all in all." Neither does a denial of his
divine being and distinct existence leave any tolerable sense unto
these expressions. For read the words of the first place from the mind
of the Socinians, and see what is it that can be gathered from them,
"Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
virtue or efficacy of the Father." Can any thing be more assonant from
faith and reason than this absurd expression? and yet it is the direct
sense, if it be any, that these men put upon the words. To join a
quality with acknowledged persons, and that in such things and cases
as wherein they are proposed under a personal consideration, is a
strange kind of mystery. And the like may be manifested concerning the
other places.
  Secondly. He also has the names proper to a divine person only; for
he is expressly called "God," Acts 5. He who is termed the "Holy
Ghost," verse 3, and the "Spirit of the Lord," verse 9, is called also
"God," verse 4. Now, this is the name of a divine person, on one
account or other. The Socinians would not allow Christ to be called
God were he not a divine person, though not by nature, yet by office
and authority. And I suppose they will not find out an office for the
Holy Ghost, whereunto he might be exalted, on the account whereof he
might become God, seeing this would acknowledge him to be a person,
which they deny. So he is called the "Comforter," John 16: 7. A
personal appellation this is also; and because he is the Comforter of
all God's people, it can be the name of none but a divine person. In
the same place, also, it is frequently affirmed, that he shall come,
that he shall and will do such and such things; all of them declaring
him to be a person.
  Thirdly. He has personal properties assigned unto him; as a will, 1
Cor. 12: 11, "He divideth to every man severally as he will;" and
understanding, 1 Cor. 2: 10, "The Spirit searcheth all things, yea,
the deep things of God;" - as also, all the acting that are ascribed
unto him are all of them such as undeniably affirm personal properties
in their principal and agent. For, -
  Fourthly. He is the voluntary author of divine operations. He of old
cherished the creation, Gen. 1: 2, "The Spirit of God moved upon the
face of the waters." He formed and garnished the heavens. He inspired,
acted, and spoke, in and by the prophets, Acts 28: 25, "Well spake the
Holy Ghost by Esaias the prophet unto our fathers;" 2 Pet. 1: 21, "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." He regenerates,
enlightens, sanctifies, comforts, instructs, leads, guides, all the
disciples of Christ, as the Scriptures everywhere testify. Now, all
these are personal operations, and cannot, with any pretence of
sobriety or consistency with reason, be constantly and uniformly
assigned unto a quality or virtue. He is, as the Father and Son, God,
with the properties of omniscience and omnipotence, of life,
understanding, and will; and by these properties, works, acts, and
produces effects, according to wisdom, choice, and power.
  Fifthly. The same regard is had to him in faith, worship, and
obedience, as unto the other persons of the Father and Son. For our
being baptized into his name, is our solemn engagement to believe in
him, to yield obedience to him, and to worship him, as it puts the
same obligation upon us to the Father and the Son. So also, in
reference unto the worship of the church, he commands that the
ministers of it be separated unto himself; Acts 13: 2, "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;" - which is comprehensive of all the religious worship of
the church.
  And on the same account is he sinned against, as Acts 5: 3, 9, 9;
for there is the same reason of sin and obedience. Against whom a man
may sin formally and ultimately, him he is bound to obey, worship, and
believe in. And this can be no quality, but God himself. For what may
be the sense of this expression, "Thou hast lied to the efficacy of
God in his operations" or how can we be formally obliged unto
obedience to a quality? There must, then, an antecedent obligation
unto faith, trust, and religious obedience be supposed, as the ground
of rendering a person capable of being guilty of sin towards any; for
sin is but a failure in faith, obedience, or worship. These,
therefore, are due unto the Holy Ghost; or a man could not sin against
him so signally and fatally as some are said to do in the foregoing
  I say, therefore, unto this part of our cause, as unto the other,
that unless we will cast off all reverence of God, and, in a kind of
atheism which, as I suppose, the prevailing wickedness of this age has
not yet arrived unto, say that the Scriptures were written on purpose
to deceive us, and to lead us into mistakes about, and
misapprehensions of, what it proposes unto us, we must acknowledge the
Holy Ghost to be a substance, a person, God; yet distinct from the
Father and the Son. For to tell us, that he will come unto us, that he
will be our comforter, that he will teach us, lead us, guide us; that
he spoke of old in and by the prophets, - that they were moved by him,
acted by him; that he "searcheth the deep things of God," works as he
will; that he appoints to himself ministers in the church; - in a
word, to declare, in places innumerable, what he has done, what he
does, what he will do, what he says and speaks, how he acts and
proceeds, what his will is, and to warn us that we grieve him not, sin
not against him, with things innumerable of the like nature; and all
this while to oblige us to believe that he is not a person, a helper,
a comforter, a searcher, a willer, but a quality in some especial
operations of God, or his power and virtue in them, were to distract
men, not to instruct them, and leave them no certain conclusion but
this, that there is nothing certain in the whole book of God. And of
no other tendency are these and the like imaginations of our
adversaries in this matter.
  But let us briefly consider what is objected in general unto the
truth we have confirmed: -
  They say, then, "The Holy Spirit is said to be given, to be sent, to
be bestowed on men, and to be promised unto them: and therefore it
cannot be that he should be God; for how can any of these things he
spoken of God?"
  I answer, First, As the expressions do not prove him to be God (nor
did ever any produce them to that purpose), yet they undeniably prove
him to be a person, or an intelligent, voluntary agent, concerning
whom they are spoken and affirmed. For how can the power of God, or a
quality, as they speak, be said to be sent, to be given, to be
bestowed on men? So that these very expressions are destructive to
their imaginations.
  Secondly. He who is God, equal in nature and being with the Father,
may be promised, sent, and given, with respect unto the holy
dispensation and condescension wherein he has undertaken the office of
being our comforter and sanctifier.
  Thirdly. The communications, distributions, impartings, divisions of
the Spirit, which they mention, as they respect the object of them, or
those on whom they were or are bestowed, denote only works, gifts,
operations, and effects of the Spirit; the rule whereof is expressed,
1 Cor. 12: 11. He works them in whom he will, and as he will. And
whether these and the like exceptions, taken from acting and
operations which are plainly interpreted and explained in sundry
places of Scripture, and evidently enough in the particular places
where they are used, are sufficient to impeach the truth of the
revelation before declared, all who have a due reverence of God, his
word, and truths, will easily understand and discern.
  These things being declared in the Scripture concerning the Father,
the Son, and the Holy Ghost, it is, moreover, revealed, "And these
three are one;" that is, one God, jointly to be worshipped, feared,
adored, believed in, and obeyed, in order unto eternal life. For
although this does absolutely and necessarily follow from what is
declared and has been spoken concerning the one God, or oneness of the
Deity, yet, for the confirmation of our faith, and that we may not, by
the distinct consideration of the three be taken off from the one, it
is particularly declared that "these three are one;" that one, the one
and same God. But whereas, as was said before, this can no otherwise
be, the testimonies given whereunto are not so frequently multiplied
as they are unto those other heads of this truth, which, through the
craft of Satan, and the pride of men, might be more liable to
exceptions. But yet they are clear, full, and distinctly sufficient
for faith to acquiesce in immediately, without any other expositions,
interpretations or arguments, beyond our understanding of the naked
importance of the words. Such are they, of the Father [and] the Son,
John 10: 30, "I and my Father are one;" - Father, Son, and Spirit, 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." Matt. 28: 19,
"Baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the
Holy Ghost." For if those into whose name we are baptized be not one
in nature, we are by our baptism engaged into the service and worship
of more gods than one. For, as being baptized, or sacredly initiated,
into or in the name of any one, does sacramentally bind us unto a holy
and religious obedience unto him, and in all things to the avowing of
him as the God whose we are, and whom we serve, as here we are in the
name of the Father, Son, and Spirit; so if they are not one God, the
blasphemous consequence before mentioned must unavoidably be admitted:
which it also must upon the Socinian principle, who, whilst of all
others they seem to contend most for one God, are indeed direct
polytheists, by owning others with religious respect, due to God
alone, which are not so.
  Once more: It is revealed, also, that these three are distinct among
themselves, by certain peculiar relative properties, if I may yet use
thee terms. So that they are distinct, living, divine, intelligent,
voluntary principles of operation or working, and that in and by
internal acts one towards another, and in acts that outwardly respect
the creation and the several parts of it. Now, this distinction
originally lies in this, - that the Father begets the God, and the Son
is begotten of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from both of
them. The manner of these things, so far as they may be expressed unto
our edification, shall afterwards be spoken to. At present it
suffices, for the satisfaction and confirmation of our faith, that the
distinctions named are clearly revealed in the Scripture, and are
proposed to be its proper object in this matter: - Ps. 2: 7, "Thou art
my Son, this day have I begotten thee." Matt. 16: 16, "Thou art the
Christ, the Son of the living God." John 10: 14, "We beheld his glory,
the glory as of the only begotten of the Father." Verse 18, "No man
has seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom
of the Father, he has declared him." John 5: 26, "For as the Father
has life in himself, so has he given to the Son to have life in
himself." 1 John 5: 20, "The Son of God is come, and has given us an
understanding." John 15: 26, "But when the Comforter is come, whom I
will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which
proceeds from the Father, he shall testify of me."
  Now, as the nature of this distinction lies in their mutual relation
one to another, so it is the foundation of those distinct acting and
operations whereby the distinction itself is clearly manifested and
confirmed. And these acting, as was said, are either such as where one
of them is the object of another's acting, or such as have the
creature for their object. The first sort are testified unto, Ps. 110:
l; John 10: 18, 5: 20, 17: 5; 1 Cor. 2: 10, 11; Prov. 8: 22; most of
which places have been before recited. They which thus know each
other, love each other, delight in each other, must needs be distinct;
and so are they represented unto our faith. And for the other sort of
acting, the Scripture is full of the expressions of them. See Gen. 19:
24; Zech 2: 8; John 5: 17; 1 Cor. 12: 7-11; 2 Cor. 8: 9.
  Our conclusion from the whole is, - that there is nothing more fully
expressed in the Scripture than this sacred truth, that there is one
God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; which are divine, distinct,
intelligent, voluntary, omnipotent principles of operation and
working: which whosoever thinks himself obliged to believe the
Scripture must believe; and concerning others, in this discourse, we
are not solicitous.
  This is that which was first proposed, - namely, to manifest what is
expressly revealed in the Scripture concerning God the Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost; so as that we may duly believe in him, yield obedience
unto him, enjoy communion with him, walk in his love and fear, and so
come at length to be blessed with him for evermore. Nor does faith,
for its security, establishment, and direction, absolutely stand in
need of any farther exposition or explanation of these things, or the
use of any terms not consecrated to the present service by the Holy
Ghost. But whereas it may be variously assaulted by the temptations of
Satan, and opposed by the subtle sophisms of men of corrupt minds; and
whereas it is the duty of the disciples of Christ to grow in the
knowledge of God, and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, by an
explicit apprehension of the things they do believe, so far as they
are capable of them; this doctrine has in all ages of the church been
explainer and taught in and by such expressions, terms and
propositions, as farther declare what is necessarily included in it,
or consequent unto it; with an exclusion of such things, notions, and
apprehensions, as are neither the one nor the other. This I shall
briefly manifest, and then vindicate the whole from some exceptions,
and so close this dissertation.
  [First.] That God is one, was declared and proved. Now this oneness
can respect nothing but the nature, being, substance, or essence of
God. God is one in this respect. Some of these words, indeed, are not
used in the Scripture; but whereas they are of the same importance and
signification, and none of them include any thing of imperfection,
they are properly used in the declaration of the unity of the Godhead.
There is mention in the Scripture of the Godhead of God, Rom. 1: 20,
"His eternal power and Godhead;" and of his nature, by excluding them
from being objects of our worship who are not God by nature, Gal. 4:
8. Now, this natural godhead of God is his substance or essence, with
all the holy, divine excellencies which naturally and necessarily
appertain whereunto. Such are eternity, immensity, omnipotence, life,
infinite holiness, goodness, and the like. This one nature, substance,
or essence, being the nature, substance, or essence of Gad, as God, is
the nature, essence, and substance of the Father, Son, and Spirit; one
and the same absolutely in and unto each of them: for none can be God,
as they are revealed to be, but by virtue of this divine nature or
being. Herein consists the unity of the Godhead.
  Secondly. The distinction which the Scripture reveals between
Father, Son, and Spirit, is that whereby they are three hypostases or
persons, distinctly subsisting in the same divine essence or being.
Now, a divine person is nothing but the divine essence, upon the
account of an especial property, subsisting in an especial manner. As
in the person of the Father there is the divine essence and being,
with its property of begetting the Son, subsisting in an especial
manner as the Father, and because this person has the whole divine
nature, all the essential properties of that nature are in that
person. The wisdom, the understanding of God, the will of God, the
immensity of God, is in that person, not as that person, but as the
person is God. The like is to be said of the persons of the Son and of
the Holy Ghost. Hereby each person having the understanding, the will,
and power of God, becomes a distinct principle of operation; and yet
all their acting ad extra being the acting of God, they are undivided,
and are all the works of one, of the selfsame God. And these things do
not only necessarily follow, but are directly included, in the
revelation made concerning God and his subsistence in the Scriptures.
  [Thirdly.] There are, indeed, very many other things that are taught
and disputed about this doctrine of the Trinity; as, the manner of the
eternal generation of the Son, - of the essence of the Father. - of
the procession of the Holy Ghost, and the difference of it from the
generation of the Son, - of the mutual in-being of the persons, by
reason of their unity in the same substance or essence, - the nature
of their personal subsistence, with respect unto the properties
whereby they are mutually distinguished; - all which are true and
defensible against all the sophisms of the adversaries of this truth.
Yet, because the distinct apprehension of them, and their accurate
expression, is not necessary unto faith, as it is our guide and
principle in and unto religious worship and obedience, they need not
here be insisted on. Nor are those brief explications themselves
before mentioned so proposed as to be placed immediately in the same
rank or order with the original revelations before insisted on, but
only are pressed as proper expressions of what is revealed, to
increase our light and farther our edification. And although they
cannot rationally be opposed or denied, nor ever were by any, but such
as deny and oppose the things themselves as revealed, yet they that do
so deny or oppose them, are to be required positively, in the first
place, to deny or disapprove the oneness of the Deity, or to prove
that the Father, or Son, or Holy Ghost, in particular, are not God,
before they be allowed to speak one word against the manner of the
explication of the truth concerning them. For either they grant the
revelation declared and contended for, or they do not. If they do, let
that concession be first laid down, namely, - that the Father, Son,
and Spirit, are one God and then let it be debated, whether they are
one in substance and three in persons, or how else the matter is to be
stated. If they deny it, it is a plain madness to dispute of the
manner of any thing, and the way of expressing it, whilst the thing
itself is denied to have a being; for of that which is not, there is
neither manner, property, adjunct, nor effect. Let, then, such persons
as this sort of men are ready to attempt with their sophistry, and to
amuse with cavils about persons, substances, subsistence, and the
like, desire to know of them what it is that they would be at. What
would they deny? What would they disapprove? Is it that God is one? Or
that the Father is God, or the Son, or the Holy Ghost is so? If they
deny or oppose either of these, they have testimonies and instances of
divine revelation, or may have, in a readiness, to confound the devil
and all his emissaries. If they will not do so, if they refuse it,
then let them know that it is most foolish and unreasonable to contend
about expressions and explications of any thing, or doctrine, about
the manner, respects, or relations of any thing, until the thing
itself, or doctrine, be plainly confessed or denied. If this they
refuse, as generally they do and will (which I speak upon sufficient
experience), and will not be induced to deal openly, properly, and
rationally, but will keep to their cavils and sophisms about terms and
expressions, all farther debate or conference with them may justly,
and ought, both conscientiously and rationally, to be refused and
rejected. For these sacred mysteries of God and the gospel are not
lightly to be made the subject of men's contests and disputations.
  But as we dealt before in particular, so here I shall give instances
of the sophistical exceptions that are used against the whole of this
doctrine, and that with respect unto some late collections and
representations of them; from whence they are taken up and used by
many who seem not to understand the words, phrases, and expressions
themselves, which they make use of.
  The sum of what they say in general is, - 1. "How can these things
be? How can three be one, and one be three Every person has its own
substance; and, therefore, if there be three persons, there must be
three substances, and so three Gods."
  Answer. Every person has distinctly its own substance, for the one
substance of the Deity is the substance of each person, so it is still
but one; but each person has not its own distinct substance, because
the substance of them all is the same, as has been proved.
  2. They say, "That if each person be God, then each person is
infinite, and there being three persons, there must be three
  Ans. This follows not in the least; for each person is infinite as
he is God. All divine properties, such as to be infinite is, belong
not to the persons on the account of their personality, but on the
account of their nature, which is one, for they are all natural
  3. But they say, "If each person be God, and that God subsist in
three persons, then in each person there are three persons or Gods."
  Ans. The collusion of this sophism consists in that expression, "be
God" and "that God." In the first place the nature of God is intended;
in the latter, a singular person. Place the words intelligibly, and
they are thus: - If each person be God, and the nature of God subsists
in three persons, then in each person there are three persons; and
then the folly of it will be evident.
  4. But they farther infer, "That if we deny the persons to be
infinite, then an infinite being has a finite mode of subsisting, and
so I know not what supposition they make hence; that seeing there are
not three infinites, then the Father, Son, and Spirit are three
unites, that make up an infinite."
  The pitiful weakness of this cavil is open to all; for finite and
infinite are properties and adjuncts of beings, and not of the manner
of the subsistence of any thing. The nature of each person is
infinite, and so is each person because of that nature. Of the manner
of their subsistence, finite and infinite cannot be predicated or
spoken, no farther than to say, an infinite being does so subsists.
  5. "But you grant," say they, "that the only true Good is the
Father, and then if Christ be the only true God, he is the Father."
  Ans. We say, the only true God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. We
never say, the Scripture never says, that the Father only is the true
God; whence it would follow, that, he that is the true God is the
Father. But we grant the Father to be the only true God; and so we say
is the Son also. And it does not at all thence follow that the Son is
the Father; because, in saying the Father is the true God, we respect
not his paternity, or his paternal relation to his Son, but his
nature, essence, and being. And the same we affirm concerning the
other persons. And to say, that because each person is God, one person
must be another, is to crave leave to disbelieve what God has
revealed, without giving any reason at all for their so doing.
  But this sophism being borrowed from another, namely, Crellius, who
insisted much upon it, I shall upon his account, and not on theirs,
who, as far as I can apprehend, understand little of the intendment of
it, remove it more fully out of the way. It is proposed by him in way
of syllogism, thus, "The only true God is the Father; Christ is the
only true God therefore he is the Father." Now, this syllogism is
ridiculously sophistical. For, in a categorical syllogism the major
proposition is not to be particular, or equipollent to a particular;
for, from such a proposition, when any thing communicable to more is
the subject of it, and is restrained unto one particular, nothing can
be inferred in the conclusion. But such is this proposition here, The
only true God is the Father. It is a particular proposition, wherein
the subject is restrained unto a singular or individual predicate,
though in itself communicable to more. Now, the proposition being so
made particular, the terms of the subject or predicate are supposed
reciprocal, - namely, that one God, and the Father, are the same;
which is false, unless it be first proved that the name God is
communicable to no more, or no other, than is the other term of
Father: which to suppose, is to beg the whole question; for the only
true God has a larger signification than the term of Father or Son. So
that, though the only true God be the Father, yet every one who is
true God is not the Father. Seeing, then, that the name of God here
supplies the place of a species, though it be singular absolutely, as
it respects the divine nature, which is absolutely singular and one,
and cannot be multiplied, yet in respect of communication it is
otherwise; it is communicated unto more, - namely, to the Father, Son,
and Holy Ghost. And, therefore, if any thing be intended to be
concluded from hence, the proposition must be expressed according to
what the subject requires, as capable of communication or attribution
to more than one, as thus: Whoever is the only true God is the Father;
- which proposition these persons and their masters shall never be
able to prove.
  I have given, in particular, these strictures thus briefly upon
these empty sophisms; partly because they are well removed already,
and partly because they are mere exscriptions out of an author not

(continued in part 6...)

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