The Divine Trinunity, Francis Cheynell. Chapter 4 - This Single and Eternal Godhead does subsist in Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, without any Multiplication of the Godhead.
July 13, 2018
When Gregory Nyssen undertook to confute the artificial blasphemy of Eunomius, he desired that the true God, the Son of the true God, and the Holy Spirit would direct him into all truth. I have likewise implored the divine assistance of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, that I may open this mystery of the single Godhead in three distinct subsistences, with faith and prudence, perspicuity and reverence. I consider that the Godhead is spiritual, and therefore I desire to avoid all carnal expressions in a treatise of this nature.
There is a twofold knowledge of God, absolute, and relative; the absolute knowledge of the eternal power and Godhead is in part discovered by the works of God, as has been shown in the first chapter; but the relative knowledge of God (I speak of inward relations between the three subsistences) is not, nay cannot be attained unto by the light of nature; no example can illustrate, no reason angelical or human comprehend the hidden excellency of this glorious mystery, but it is discovered to us by a divine revelation in the written word, and therefore our faith must receive, and our piety admire what our reason cannot comprehend. It is fit therefore that this grand mystery of the divine trinunity should be soberly explained, that it may be steadfastly believed, and reverently applied in all evangelical administrations.
We read of the Godhead, the nature and subsistence of God in the holy Scriptures.
1. The Godhead, theiotes Rom. 1. 20, theotes Col 2. 9, theios Acts 17. 29. I am not at leisure to play the critique upon the words, it is enough for my purpose simply to declare the truth in the most plain and simple manner.
2. The nature of God is held forth to us in the holy Scriptures, which forbid us to give divine honour to any of those things which are not God’s by nature, Gal. 4. 8. For the Apostle in that place reproves their idolatry, and tells them, that when they knew not God (that is the only true God who is God by nature, because truly God) they did service to them which by nature are no gods; from whence it is easy to conclude that the only true God whom we ought to serve, is God by nature: and we read of the divine nature, 2 Pet. 1. 4. of which all that are regenerate are said to be partakers, because they bear his image; for else it is evident that there is an infinite distance between God, and grace, which is not only finite, but imperfect also, and if it were perfected is but an accident; Nay, there is an infinite distance between the nature of God, and nature of man in respect of excellency, even than when the two natures are most intimately united as they are by an hypostatical union in the person of the Lord Jesus.
3. This only true God, who is God by nature, does subsist. And if we will seek after him, we shall find that he does not subsist very far from any of us, Act. 17. 27. But the Godhead doth not subsist out of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For all the fulness of the self-same Godhead is in every one of the three: and therefore the name of God is attributed to every one of the three, in holy Writ.
(i) To the Father. Rom. 7. 25. Rom 8. 3.
(ii) To the Son. Acts 20. 28, Tit. 2. 13, 1 Tim. 3. 16 & 1 Tim. 6, 15, 16.
(iii) To the Holy Ghost. Acts 5. 3, 4, Ps. 95. 3. 8, 9 compared with Heb. 3. 1, Cor. 3. 16, 17, Heb. 1. 1. compared with 2 Pet. 1. 21, 1 Cor. 12. 5, 6. And when the name of God is specially attributed to the Father (in regard of order, and that gracious dispensation which is by consent of all three vouchsafed for our salvation) the Son and Spirit are not excluded, as we shall prove at large in this very Chapter.
The eternal Godhead does subsist in the Father
For we read of his subsistence, Heb. 1. 3. Christ is the express image of his Father’s subsistence or person, as we do commonly translate the word: but I do not hear that any but gross Atheists have been so bold as to deny the subsistence of God the Father; and therefore I need not superadd any thing to so plain a text.
The same Godhead does subsist in the Lord Jesus
The same Godhead does subsist in the Lord Jesus, who is equal to the Father, because he does subsist in the nature of God, Phil. 2. 6. The word hyparcho (being) is best rendred subsisting, in that place; because there is a comparison there between two subsistences or persons, the Father and the Son; and therefore the Son counts it no robbery to be equal with the Father, because he subsists in the nature of God. He has the same divine nature, the same Godhead with the Father and all the fulness of the Godhead dwells truly, really, bodily in the Son; for body is opposed to shadow. Nay it may be rendered thus: The Godhead dwells personally in the Son: All the fulness of the Godhead dwells really in the subsistence or person of the Son, Col. 2. 9. Christ is the illustrious brightness of his Father’s glory, the lively character of his Father’s subsistence or person, Heb. 1. 3. Christ is not the character of his own subsistence, but of his Father’s subsistence; and therefore the Son has a peculiar subsistence distinct from the subsistence of his Father. Christ is the express image of his Father’s person, and therefore the person of the Son is distinct from the person of the Father; for no person is the image or character of itself. Concerning the word subsistence or person, I shall speak fully in the two next Chapters, and make it evident that the divine subsistences or persons do infinitely excel the subsistences or persons of men and angels. In the mean time I shall clearly prove, that the Godhead does subsist in the Son, and Holy Spirit.
The Godhead does subsist in Jesus Christ, who was before the beginning, John 1. 1. "Was" does note what is past; and therefore had his being before the beginning of time: And that his eternal being is a divine being, is clear, because eternal, and because it is not only said, that he was with God before the beginning, but he was God; and therefore it does clearly follow, that Jesus Christ is the same eternal God with his Father; for it is impossible that there should be more then one God, as I shall clearly demonstrate before I conclude this Chapter.
I wonder at the impudent blasphemy of some who pretend to be saints, in these days of error and vanity; and yet are bold to affirm, that they themselves are as well, and as truly God, as Jesus Christ; because it is said that they have their being in God, Act. 17. 28. are partakers of the divine nature, 2 Pet. 1. 4. and are one with Christ, John. 17. 21, 22, 23, 26. I shall intreat the men of this persuasion to consider that Jesus Christ is over all God blessed for ever, Rom. 9. 5. God manifest in the flesh, 1 Tim. 3. 16. The blessed and only potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords, who only has immortality, &c. to whom honour and power everlasting is ascribed, 1 Tim. 6. 16. He is the great God, Tit. 2. 13. The true God, 1 Joh. 5. 20. Dares any mortal man lay claim to these titles and this honour? To which of the saints or angels did God say at any time, Thou art my son, the heir of all things, the illustrious brightness of my glory, and lively character of my person, thy throne O God, is for ever and ever, and all the angels of God shall worship thee, Heb. 1. These things are so clear and plain, that I am even almost ashamed to write more upon this argument; and yet I am encouraged and even provoked to proceed. Jesus Christ was the wonderful child; a child, and yet a father, the father of eternity; a child, and yet a counsellor, the wisest of all counsellors, for he is wisdom itself; a child, and yet a God, a mighty God. Isa. 9. 6. Certainly this one text is sufficient to put them to the blush who presume to compare themselves with the Lord Jesus, the mighty God.
Jehovah is a title proper and peculiar unto God, Isa. 43. 11, 12. Jehovah is the only Saviour, the only God & Psalm 83. 18. That men may know that thou whose name alone is Jehovah, art the most high over all the earth. But the Lord Christ is Jehovah; and therefore the Lord Christ is God. Jehovah sits on a throne in majesty and glory, Isa. 6. 1, 3, 5, 8. but the Lord Christ is this Jehovah, as the Apostle assures us. John 12. 41, 42. The Lord Christ is that Jehovah to whom every knee must bow; as appears by comparing Isa. 45. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. with Rom. 14. 9 10, 11, 12. and Phil. 2. 6, 9, 10, 11. The like is clear by comparing Psalm 102. 19. 22, 25, 26. with Heb. 1. 10, 11, 12. Once more, compare Num. 14. 26, 27. with 1 Cor. 10. 9, 10. & Num. 21. 6. And hence it is that Christ is so gloriously described, Rev. 1. 5, 6, 7, 8. He is Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, which is which was, and which is to come, the Almighty. And therefore he is Jehovah. For the Apostle does in that place, and so to the end of that Chapter, insist upon these and the like expressions which do comprise in them the sense and meaning of that divine and glorious title of Jehovah. I might farther insist upon this argument, and show that the title of Lord so often given to Christ in the New Testament, does answer to the title of Jehovah in the Old Testament. And as some Reverend Divines conceive, the Apostles did purposely use the title of Lord, that they might not offend the Jews with the frequent pronouncing of the word Jehovah. Thou shalt fear Jehovah thy God, Deut. 6. 13 & Deut. 10. 20 is rendered by the Apostle, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, Mat. 4. 10. And so Deut. 6. 5. Thou shalt love Jehovah thy God, is rendered Matt. 22. 37. Thou shalt love the Lord thy God. I hope no Saint will presume to arrogate the title of Jehovah to himself; for he whose name alone is Jehovah is the mighty God, the most High over all the earth.
Jesus Christ is Immanuel, God with us, Matt. 1. 23 that God who took flesh and blood, 1 Tim. 3. 16 and that God who redeemed the Church with his own blood, Acts 20. 28.
The Ancients insist much upon that proof John 16. 15. All things that the Father hath are mine, compared with John 10. 30. I and my Father are one, and John 10. 37. If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; for from hence they do conclude, that Christ has the same divine nature and Godhead with the Father; they both have the same divine and essential titles and attributes, and perform the same inward operations in reference to all creatures whatsoever; and therefore they did farther infer, that they had reason to use the word Consubstantial; for though the word is not in Scripture, yet the sense and meaning of it is orthodox and canonical, because evidently deduced from these texts and some other Scriptures which we have insisted on before. I shall add one Scripture more, to make it yet more clear; compare John 17. 10 with John 16. 15 All things that the Father hath are mine. John 16. 15. Father, all mine are thine, and thine are mine. John 17. 10 that is, whatsoever does belong to the Father as God, does belong to Christ; for we speak not of personal, but essential properties, Christ does lay claim to all that is natural, to all that belongs to the Father as God, not to any thing which belongs to him as the Father, as the first Person of the blessed Trinity. In the 17 of John Christ proves that the Apostles were his Apostles because they were his Father’s Apostles, and given by the Father to him ver. 9 but he gives a more general reason for it ver. 10. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine: It is a general rule expressed in the neuter gender, and therefore cannot be restrained to the Apostles, as the Socinians would limit the speech of Christ; but it must be taken in its full extent; but that I may give full weight and measure pressed down and running over, consider that the other text John 16. 15 has a double note of universality, and therefore is very emphatical for the proof of the point, All things whatsoever that the Father has (as God) are mine, But the Father has an eternal Godhead, infinite power and majesty; and therefore saith Christ, they are mine. Epiphanius disputing against the heresy of Sabellius expounds this rule thus, All that the Father hath is mine; the Father is God and I am God; the Father is life and I am life; for whatever the Father hath is mine. For the clearer demonstration of this truth, let us now descend to particulars: 1. The Attributes of God; 2. The Works of God; and 3. The Worship of God, are all ascribed and given to Jesus Christ, that we may confess and acknowledge him to be God, the true God, the mighty God, the self same only God with the Father and the holy Spirit.
I. The attributes of God are ascribed to the Lord Jesus.
(i) The eternity of God, John. 1. 1. In the beginning was the word; "was" notes some former duration, and therefore we conclude that he was before the beginning, before any creation or creature; for it is said that he was God in the beginning, and his divine nature whereby he works is eternal, Heb. 9. 14. He is the first and last, Rev. 1. 17. Hence it is that he is called the first-born of every creature, because he who created all, and upholds all, has power to command and dispose of all, as the first-born had power to command the family or kingdom, Col. 1. 15, 16, 17. Compare Isa. 44. 6. with Rev. 22. 13. and Prov. 8. 22, 23.
(ii) Jesus Christ is omnipotent, Phil. 3. 21. He is called by a metonymy the power of God, 1 Cor. 1. 24. He is the Almighty, Rev. 1. 8. He made all things, John 1. 3, & Col. 1. 16, 17. Psalm 102. 26.compared with Heb. 1. 8. 10 & John 1. 10. He upholds all things, Heb. 1 3. & Col 1. 17.
(iii) Jesus Christ is unchangeable, Heb. 1. 12 cited out of Psalm 102. 26, 27.
(iv) Christ is omniscient, John 2. 25. He is the searcher of hearts, Rev. 2. 23. He knows all things, John 21. 17. He is the wisdom of the Father, 1 Cor. 1. 24. He does of himself know the Father, Mat. 11. 27. and does according to his own will reveal the secrets of his Father’s bosom, and therefore is called the word, all the treasures of wisdom are in him, Col. 2. 3.
(v) The immensity of God belongs to Christ; for he is not contained in any place, who was before there was any place, and did create all places by his own power, John 1. 1, 3 whilst he was on earth in respect of his bodily presence, he was in the bosom of the Father, which must be understood of his divine nature and person, John 1. 18. He did come down from heaven, and yet remained in heaven, John 3. 13.
II. Christ does perform the works of God.
Such proper and peculiar, such divine and supernatural works as none but God can perform; he did raise the dead by his own power at his own pleasure. John 5. 21, 28, 29 & John 11. 25. He is called the resurrection and the life, because he is the author of both: whatsoever the Father does, the Son does likewise. John 5. 17, 19. He wrought miracles, he has the same nature and power with the Father, and therefore does the same works: He does regenerate our souls, pardon our sins, save our souls; he has appeased the wrath, and satisfied the justice of God, by his divine mediation; he gives temporal, spiritual, eternal life. 2 Cor. 5. 17. Iohn 6. 38. 40.
III. Divine Honour is due to Jesus Christ.
For, (1) All the glorious angels are commanded to worship him, Heb. 1. 6.
(2) All true Christians are described by their calling on and believing in the name of Christ, Acts. 9. 14 & John 1. 12.
(3) All are obliged to give the same honour to Christ, which they are required to give to God the Father, John 5. 23.
(4) Examples every way warrantable, because agreeable to these precepts, are frequent in the word, Act. 7. 59. 60, 1 Cor. 1. 2. &Rev. 22. 20.
(5) Baptism is administered in the name and to the honour of Christ, Mat. 28. 17. 18, 19, 20.
(6) At the Day of Judgement every knee must bow to him, and acknowledge him to be equal to his Father, Isa. 45, 21, 22, 23, 24. 25 compared with Rom. 14. 10, 11, 12 & Phil. 2. 6, 9, 10, 11.
(7) All that are justified do believe in him; and they who do believe in him shall not be ashamed, Rom. 3. 25, 26 & 1 Pet. 2, 6, 7.
(8)The Apostolical benediction so often repeated in the Epistles.
From whence I argue, since God will not give his glory to another, because he is true, Isa. 48. 11 and cannot because he is just; it follows, that though Christ be a distinct person, yet he is not a distinct God from his Father, but one and the same God with him, God blessed for ever. Much more might be produced upon this argument: That which has been said, is abundantly sufficient, if God set it home upon our spirits by his own Spirit: but if men will not be persuaded by these Scriptures, neither would they be persuaded though one should rise from the dead. In the next place I am to demonstrate the Divine Nature, Person, Titles, Attributes, Works, Worship of the Holy Ghost.
The same eternal Godhead does subsist in the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost is a spiritual and infinite substance, subsisting with peculiar properties, and acting according to the counsel of his divine will. The Apostle having distinguished between the Spirit, and the gifts of the Spirit, shows that the Spirit itself, that one Spirit, that one and self-same Spirit, does work and distribute all those excellent gifts according as he pleases, 1 Cor. 12. 4.
Now, 1. These particularising and indigitating terms, that one,that same Spirit. 2. The will of the Spirit. 3. The discriminating energy or efficacy of the Spirit, do all demonstrate the subsistence of the Spirit, and peculiarity of his subsistence. When the Spirit of truth shall come, he will guide John 16. 13. he saith not "it", but "he", and therefore does not speak of an attribute, but a person, he &c. which is the more to be observed, because the word in the original which signifies Spirit is of the neuter gender, and yet our Saviour speaking of the Spirit, saith he, to point out the peculiar subsistence or person of the Spirit, When he the Spirit of truth, &c. John 16. 13. and therefore we ought to take special notice of that expression; and all those notes of particularity, 1 Cor. 12 applied to the Spirit, do show that he is a particular, and undivided substance, one Spirit, the same Spirit, the self same Spirit, one and the self same Spirit, 1 Cor. 12. from the 4th verse to the 12th. And that this spiritual particular undivided substance is a divine sub∣stance is evident, because it is said that the same Spirit who does work all in all is the same Lord, and the same God. 1 Cor. 12. 5, 6 and Lord in the New Testament does answer to Jehovah in the Old, as has been proved above in this very Chapter: when Peter drew up a charge against Ananias, he puts this question to him, Why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the holy Ghost? thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God, Act. 5. 3, 4. The black and unpardonable sin is after a more special manner committed against the Godhead subsisting in the Holy Ghost, and the peculiar office and dispensation of the Holy Ghost, than against the Father or the Son; and that sin is in some respects pronounced the most grievous sin, Mat. 12. 32. If the Holy Ghost were only the power of God, as Socinians love to dream, that sin would not be so highly aggravated; for it is not the highest and foulest aggravation of sin, to say it is committed against the power of God. The Father, Son and Spirit have but one power, as they have one and the same nature; and therefore the Father is said to work in the Son, and by the Spirit; and hence it is that Christ is called the power of God, 1 Cor. 1. 24. and the Holy Ghost is called the power of the Most High, Luk. 1. 35. because the power of the Father, (who is called the most High in opposition to the highest of creatures,) does reside in, is exercised and made manifest by the Holy Ghost, and especially manifested in that omnipotent work of the conception of our Lord and Saviour; the very shadow of the Holy Ghost makes a virgin to conceive; this miracle speaks him God.
The Holy Ghost is Jehovah, the great God, and King above all gods, as is evident by comparing, Psal. 95. 3, 6, 7, 8, 9 with Heb. 3. 7, 9. The Spirit of Jehovah is the God of Israel, 2 Sam. 23. 2, 3. The people rebelled against Jehovah, and tempted him in the wilderness, Deut. 6. 16 & Numb. 14. 26, 27 & Deut. 9. 7, 24 now that is meant of tempting and rebelling against the Holy Ghost, as well as against God the Father and Jesus Christ, as is clear, if you compare Isa. 63. 10 & Heb. 3. 7, 9. with the places alledged. The Holy Ghost is that Jehovah who made the New Covenant with his chosen People, Jer. 31. 31. compared with Heb. 10. 15, 16. The Holy Ghost is that Jehovah who spake by Isaiah the Prophet; compare Isa. 6. 8, 9. with Acts 28. 25, 26. we might argue in like manner, from Levit. 19. 2. &c. compared with Heb. 9. 7, 8. and several other places, Num, 12. 6. Heb. 1. 1, 2 Pet. 1. 21. 1 Cor. 12. 5, 6.
I. & II The attributes of God ascribed to the Holy Ghost and the Holy Ghost does perform the works of God.
(i) The Omnipotence of the Spirit is clearly proved, because he works all in all, according to the counsell of his will, and works miracles, which transcend not only the common course and order, but the whole power of nature, 1 Cor. 12. 6, 9, 10, 11 such are the raising of the dead, Rom. 8. 11, the regeneration and sanctification of our souls, Tit. 3. 5 & 1 Cor. 6. 11 and therefore he is called the Holy Ghost, because the Father and the Son do according to divine dispensation sanctify us by the operation of the Holy Ghost. Moreover the Holy Ghost did teach the Prophets and Apostles, and lead them into all truth, he overshadowed the virgin, &c. John 16. 13, Acts 2. 4, 1 Pet. 1. 11 & 2 Pet 1. 21. The Holy Ghost is the great God and creator of all things Psal. 93. 3. 5 & Heb. 3.
(ii) The Holy Ghost is Omniscient; for he knows the deep things of God, and the secrets of men; he inspired the Prophets and Apostles, and moved them to reveal the mysteries of faith and godliness, 1 Cor. 2. 10. 11. and 1 Pet. 1. 11 and 2 Pet. 1. 21 and Rom. 9. 1 and Rev. 2. 23.
(iii) The Holy Ghost is omnipresent, he dwells in all saints as in a temple, he repairs, adorns, beautifies his temple, and acts in every single saint, as the spirit of disobedience acts in children of wrath: we cannot flee from the presence of the Spirit because he is omnipresent, Psalm 139. 7.
By what has been already written, it is evident that the Holy Ghost has the titles and attributes of God, he does perform works proper to God; and that divine honour is due unto him, I shall clearly prove because it is denied by the bla∣sphemous wits of this discoursing age.
III. Divine Honour is due to the Holy Ghost
The Holy Ghost who spake by Isaiah the Prophet, is worshipped by the angels of God, as is most evident by comparing Isa. 6. 3. 9. with Acts 28. 25. 26. The whole Church of God is exhorted to worship the Holy Ghost as the great God, as Jehovah, as our make; to bow down and kneel before him, that is, to give him divine worship both inward and outward, because he is our God, as appears by comparing, Psalm 95. 3. 6. 7. with Heb. 3. 7, 8. 9. The Apostle gives divine honour to the Holy Ghost when he appeals to him as to the searcher of hearts, Rom. 9. 1. and the Holy Ghost who speaks to the churches, joins with the Son of God (who speaks to them also) in searching of the heart and reins, Rev. 2. 17. 18. 23. and all the churches are commanded to hearken to both as unto God blessed for ever. Our souls and bodies are said to be the temples of God because they are the temples of the Holy Ghost; and therefore we are commanded to worship and glorify the Holy Ghost with our souls and bodies; for the Spirit does dwell in his temple that he may be worshiped in his temple.
The temple is a profane place, if there be no worship there; and it is, must be, pure, holy and spiritual worship, and sacrifice, such as the Holy Spirit delights in; else the temple will be defiled, destroyed. Compare, 1 Cor. 3. 15. 16, 17. and 1 Cor. 6, 19, 20. and 2 Cor. 6. 16. 18. and 2 Cor. 7. 1. The Church is blessed in the name of the Holy Ghost as in the name of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit is spiritual and saving as well as the special grace of Christ, and love of the Father, as appears by that solemn Apostolical benediction, 2 Cor. 13. 14, and the beloved disciple proclaims the Spirit to be the fountain of grace and peace as well as the Father of Jesus Christ, and therefore does beg grace and peace of the Spirit of grace (who does purify and pacify our hearts) for all the churches, Rev. 1. 4. The Holy Ghost does regulate all churches and church affairs. Acts 13. 2. 4 & Acts 15. 28 & Acts 20 28. Baptism is administered in the name and for the honour of the Holy Ghost. The Holy Ghost does bestow upon us, and work in us those spiritual and glorious blessings which are sealed in or conveyed by Baptism, and therefore we are more especially baptized by the Holy Ghost. Matt. 3. 11 & John 3. 5, 6, for we are born of the Spirit, regenerated, washed, renewed by the Spirit, who purifies the soul as water doth the body, Titus 3. 5, 6.
The violation of the honour and worship of the Holy Ghost is most severely punished, Mark 3. 29 & Heb. 6. 4 & Heb. 10. 28. 29. and therefore there is special care taken in the holy Scriptures both for the preservation and vindication of the honour of the Holy Ghost; we must not grieve, vex, resist quench the Holy Ghost, that is, we must not displease him, we must not disobey him, we must obey his dictates, his motions, we must be quickened, taught, led, ruled, governed by him: we must attribute all the glorious titles to the Holy Ghost given him in Scripture, of which we have so largely discoursed; we must acknowledge him to be the Spirit of truth, and therefore must believe in him; the spirit of supplication, the spirit of grace and holiness, and therefore love him and pray to him: we must either renounce our baptism in his name, or else we must confess that we are obliged to believe in him, reverence, love, obey, glorify him with all inward and outward worship: for we are debtors to the Spirit to live to the Spirit, and glorify the Spirit of regeneration who works in us the instrument of justification, that there may be an effectual application of Christ to our souls; though Christ make the purchase, the Spirit of adoption makes the assurance, he seals us up to the day of redemption, and therefore good reason have we to offer up our souls and bodies in a spiritual sacrifice to him; for these temples were made for sacrifice; Rom. 12. 1, 2 & 1 Pet. 2. 5. Now if God who will not give his glory to another, because he is true and just, gives all this glory to the Holy Ghost, it concerns us to glorify him.
If there were not all this and a great deal more to be said for the honour of the Holy Ghost, yet it were an invincible argument to me if I could only say that the Holy Ghost is God, and therefore to be worshipped as God with divine worship; The Holy Ghost is one with the Father and the Son, one God, and therefore all three are to be worshipped with the same divine worship. It were enough for such men as have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost, or no, Acts 19. 2 to talk as the filthy dreamers and blasphemous heretics of this rotten age usually do, who belch out the language of hell against the Spirit of grace; and I cannot but wonder that subtile Jesuits, Arminians and Socinians who pretend to study and search the Scriptures, should say that there is nothing to be found in Scripture concerning the worshipping of the Holy Ghost.
That the Spirit acts according to the counsel of his divine will, has been sufficiently proved; only it must be considered that as Father, Son and Spirit have but one nature, so they have but one will.
Concerning the peculiar and personal properties of the Holy Ghost, I shall treat when I come to speak of the distinction of these subsistences.
For conclusion of this chapter I am to prove that the Godhead does subsist in Father, Son, and Spirit, all three without any multiplication of the Godhead.
The Father and the Son are but one God, John. 10. 30. I and my Father are one. The Father, Son and Spirit, all three are but one God. 1 John 5. 7. There is but one God. Eph. 4. 6. Deut. 6. 4. Isa. 44. 6. 8. Isa. 45. 21. 22. Nay there can be but one God; there can be but one most perfect being, one infinite perfection; the most perfect being is the most single being, and therefore Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all three but one only God; they are consubstantial, co-equal, co-eternal, they have one nature, mind, will, power, Godhead: Some of the Ancients who meant well, said there were three substances, but they meant three subsistences or persons, as Hilary expounds them; for, saith he, They did not intend to assert three different essences. Hence it is, that such as were more wary in their expressions, did use the word subsistence, and said that there were three subsistences, but one substance or essence in this divine trinunity. This is the first of all the commandments, to acknowledge one only God, Mark 12. 29. As there is but one mediator to intercede, so there is but one God to justify, and intercede unto for justification. 1 Tim. 2. 5, Rom 3. 30, and Gal. 3. 20. It is one and the same God who commands heaven and earth, Deut. 4. 35, 39 and Isa. 37. 16. The gods of the heathens were false gods, dunghill-gods, or devil-gods: Magistrates are but mortal gods; they must die, and rise to judgment, and hold up their hand at the tribunal of Jehovah, Psalm 86. 8, 9. 10 & Psalm 82 6, 7 & 1 Cor. 8. 6. I prove this point at large, because I perceive by Mr. Fry his sad account, we are much misconstrued in this weighty point, as if by acknowledging three distinct subsistences, we did create two new gods, and affirmed Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost to be two distinct gods both from the Father and from one another. But we are no Tritheites: we acknowledge a trinunity, as well as a trinity in opposition to the error of the Tritheites; we believe the unity of the Godhead; and I never read of the Trinity of the Godhead in English, until I read it in the Title of Mr. Fry his opinion, which he delivered to the House, and has since printed and published to the world.
We do believe that God is one, most singly and singularly one, and an only one: The unity of the Godhead is not a generical, or a specifical unity, but a most singular unity, which I need not call a numerical unity, as some do; I had rather call it the most single singular and perfect unity, as some profound Divines do, who have told me what I have read in others, that I had need be very curious in the delivery of this weighty point. All the three persons have one and the same single and infinite Godhead, and therefore must needs mutually subsist in one another, because they are all three one and the same infinite God. Three consubstantial, co-essential, co-eternal, co-equal persons, are distinguished, but not divided, are united, but not confounded; united in their one nature, not confounded in their distinct subsistences; nay though their subsistence is in one another, yet their subsistences are distinct, but their nature most singularly the same; nay the divine nature is as singular as any one of the single subsistences, and yet whatever is proper to the divine nature is common to all three of these divine subsistences; and the divine nature doth not subsist out of these three divine subsistences.
But the more we deliver concerning the unity of the Godhead, the more advantage do the Socinians hope to gain for the justifying of their blasphemous dreams: for of this unity of the Godhead be not only notional but real, and God is most singly and singularly one, and an only one, as has been proved; why then say they, we will be bold to urge an invincible argument to prove that God the Father alone is God, and therefore neither Jesus Christ nor the Holy Ghost is truly and properly God by nature. God the Father alone is the only true God; but neither the Son nor the Holy Ghost is God the Father. Ergo, neither the Son nor the Holy Ghost is the only true God. For the proof of this proposition, that the Father alone is the only true God, they cite some of those places which I have alleged to prove the unity of the Godhead; but they lay most weight upon John 17. 3. Behold, say they, a plain acknowledgment from the mouth of Jesus Christ: Christ does acknowledge his Father to be the only true God, and therefore doth exclude both himself and the Holy Ghost; for there is but one only God, and God the Father alone is that only true God.
These subtile heretics are guilty of a pitiful piece of sophistry in the drawing up of this argument, which is more full of blasphemy then wit: for observe:
(a) Our Saviour does not say, [That we may know Thee only to be the true God] but [That we may know Thee the only true God:] For as Athanasius said well, We must know Jesus Christ to be the only true God also; because Christ, and so the Holy Ghost also, is one and the same God with the Father; all three persons are the only true God; for though they differ in subsistence, they do not differ in nature, they have all of them one and the same singular Godhead, the self-same divine nature; the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, are but one and the same infinite Spirit, one Jehovah, one God, who is the only true God, God blessed for ever.
Now it does not follow that the Father, Son and Spirit do differ essentially, because they differ personally: for these three are one, 1 John. 5. 7. One God, who is the only true God. The Father is the only true God; behold, the predicate in that proposition is not personal, but essential, and very essential predicate belongs to all and every one of the three persons, because they have one and the same divine essence, and therefore the Apostle saith these three are one.
(b) Observe how John 17. 3 is expounded by John himself, in 1 John 5. 20. And we know that the Son of God is come, and has given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. Now add, John 17. This is life eternal to know thee the only true God, &c. and then put all together thus, This is life eternal that they might know thee the only true God and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent. [The only true God] for as John himself expounds This Jesus Christ is the true God and eternal life. 1 John 5. 20.
(c) Observe that John himself expounds this also of the Holy Ghost; for, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are one only God, 1 John 5. 7. These three are one; and therefore it does not at all follow that the Son and Spirit are not the true God, because the Father is the only God; for they are all three one and the same God, who is the only God, the only true God.
(d) Observe that I do not (as some lear∣ned men do) only affirm that the word [only] is put there to exclude false gods, but I say it does also deny Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost to be different gods, other gods from God the Father, because they are one and the same God with the Father, as is evident in those two places 1 John 5. 7, 20 cited before.
Those learned men do well to exclude false gods, the Socinians do ill to exclude the Son and Spirit who are the same God with the Father; [only] does exclude every false god; but the Son and Spirit, are (as the Father is) the only true God, blessed for ever.
The term [only] does not exclude any divine person, but it does exclude all and every one of the creatures; because every divine person has the same divine nature, but no creature is capable of the divine nature, unless we do understand it as 2 Pet. 1. 4 is to be understood, of the image of God, or having such an interest in the divine attributes, that God will exercise and put forth his wisdom, power, and all, for their everlasting good, and be himself their all sufficient reward, portion, and objective happiness. And it is to be observed that the terms only and true, are both applied to the same part of the proposition, namely to the predicate alone.
(e) This is life eternal, to know thee: But the text saith, This is life eternal to know Jesus Christ also; that is, this is the way and means for the obtaining of eternal life, and this is the beginning of eternal life, to know, believe, love and obey Jesus Christ. But eternal life is perfected by knowing of God in heaven, not by faith but by sight. Now eternal life does not consist in the knowledge, belief, or love of any mere creature; and therefore the Godhead of Jesus Christ is proved out of this very text, which they urge (who deny his Godhead) to justify their blasphemy in the denial of it.
(f) Eternal life does consist in knowing of Jesus Christ, whom God has sent to be our mediator; and this eternal life will be perfected in heaven, when the mediation of Christ will have an end: and therefore it is the knowing of and believing in this mediator as God satisfying for us, which makes us happy; for he does perfect the work of mediator as God by his eternal Spirit, that is his divine nature, Heb. 9. 14 and by the blood of God, Acts 20. 28. By the sufferings of the Lord of glory, 1 Cor. 2. 8. for he obtained eternal redemption for us by virtue of his eternal spirit, Heb. 9. 12. 14.
(g) To know Jesus, that is, to know him as a Saviour, as one that saves us from our sins, is to know him as a God, as one God with his Father, as the true God and the only God; according to that which we read Isa. 43. 10, 11, 12, 25 that ye may know and believe and understand that I am he; I even I am Jehovah, and beside me there is no Saviour. And Isa. 45. 21, 22, 23, 24, 25. There is no God else beside me. A just God and a Saviour, there is none beside me. Look unto me and be ye saved all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.—to me every knee shall bow.—in Jehovah have I righteousness. —In Jehovah shall the seed of Israel be justified. Compare this with Rom. 14. 10, 11 and the Socinians may as safely conclude that there is no other God but Jesus Christ, as they may conclude that there is no God but God the Father, from the 17th Chapter of John. But they and we ought to conclude from these and the other Scriptures mentioned before, that Jesus Christ is not a different God from his Father, but is one and the same God with him. These exclusive and restrictive terms [One, and Alone, &c.] do not then exclude any of those three who are one in nature and essence, though they differ in their manner of subsistence: for I cannot conclude from that text, 1 Cor. 8. 6. To us there is but one God, the Father, &c. that the Father only is God; no more then I can conclude from the words following in the very same verse [and one Lord Jesus Christ] that Christ only is Lord, and so exclude the Father from Lordship as the Socinians would exclude the Son from the Godhead. 1 Tim 6. 14, 15, 16 is urged by some to prove, that Jesus Christ only has immortality: but they dare not conclude from thence, that God the Father is not immortal. I read Mat 23. 10 One is your Master, even Christ: but I must not conclude that the Father is not our Master; for the Father teaches, John 6. 45 and the Holy Ghost was Doctor, Master, Teacher even to the Apostles themselves, John. 14. 26. John 16. 13.
If that text 1 Tim. 6. 15, 16. be meant, as some conceive it is, of God the Father; yet I find the same titles given to Jesus Christ, Rev. 19. 16. and therefore I conclude, That both are one and the same immortal God and King, 1 Tim. 1. 12, 16, 17 & 1 Joh. 5. 20.
I read, 1 Cor. 12. 6. That the same God works all in all. & v. 11. that one and the self same Spirit works all: but I dare not conclude from thence, that the Spirit only is God, and that the Father and the Son work nothing at all.
From these and many other such like expressions, we may safely conclude:
1. That these terms [One, and Only] are not always universally exclusive in the Scripture sense, if all circumstances be duly considered and the Scriptures rightly compared, 1 Cor. 9. 6. I only and Barnabas; The word [only] does not exclude Barnabas, but include him; Barnabas was joined with Paul; but Jesus Christ is more nearly joined with the Father. John 8. 9 Jesus was left alone; but the woman was with him, all that were for her condemnation are excluded. 1 King. 12. 20. There are two exclusive terms; [There was none followed the house of David but the Tribe of Judah only] and yet the tribe of Benjamin adhered to David, as you may read in the next verse, but surely the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are more closely united then the tribe of Judah was with the tribe of Benjamin. Deut. 1. 36. None should see the good land save Caleb, but Joshua is joined with him v. 38 and therefore he was not excluded. You see here is some union or conjunction still between the persons that are included; but there is the highest union, nay, unity between the Father, Son, and Spirit, because these three are one in nature, and that nature most simply single, and singularly one.
2. When the term Only, or any the like term is applied to the Divine nature, or to any Divine title, attribute, or work, the Father, Son and Holy Ghost being one in nature, cannot be divided or separated by that exclusive term, though there is a personal difference between them, and a special order and dispensation to be observed amongst them, as we shall hereafter prove. But the intent of the Holy Ghost is to exclude all that are not God’s by nature, as the Apostle speaks, Gal. 4. 8 from the Godhead, and from laying any claim to the natural attributes of God, or pretending to do any work that is proper and peculiar to God. The true and living God is opposed to Idols, 1 Thes. 1, 9. But Jesus Christ and the Holy Ghost are to be acknowledged and served as one true and living God with the Father. The living God, the God of truth, and King of eternity, is opposed to those counterfeit gods, Jer 10, 11, 12. And therefore when the Apostle saith There is no other God but one, 1 Cor. 8 4 he tells you whom he does exclude, such as are but conceited gods, so called and so reputed, equivocal gods, v. 5, 6. The Lord Jesus and the Holy Ghost are God by nature, the same God with the Father, and therefore they are not excluded. In like manner, when it is said that Jehovah alone did lead the people in the wilderness, and conduct them unto Canaan, that exclusive particle is put to exclude strange gods, such as were then idolized, but were indeed no gods, as is most evident, Deut. 32. 12. So Jehovah alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him: but these strange gods who are here excluded, were no gods, as is clear by comparing the 16th and 21st verses of the same Chapter.
I have already proved that the title of Jehovah is given both to Christ and the Holy Spirit, and therefore when it is said, Jehovah alone did lead them in the wilderness, the Son and Spirit are not excluded; for the Spirit did instruct and guide them in the wilderness, Neh. 9. 20. and the Spirit did instruct their teachers also; but they rebelled against the Spirit Isa. 63. 10. And Jesus Christ the Angel of God's presence was present with them to guide them Exod 23. 21. The name of God, and the nature of God is in him, for he is to pardon sin, or punish as he pleases. Our Saviour is called the only Lord, and, the only wise God. Jude Epistle in the 4th, and 25th verses; but the Father is not thereby excluded from being God, for he is the only wise God also: 1 Tim 1. 17 and therefore by the same reason the Father is the only true God and the Son and Spirit are the very same only true God also. When our Saviour presses that text Matt. 4. 10. Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve; he does not exclude himself, or the Holy Ghost; for both are to be worshipped with divine worship, as hath been already proved at large in this very Chapter.
Many other proofs might be produced from other Scriptures, and divers other arguments collected from the 17th of John, to prove that Jesus Christ is not excluded from being the same only God with his Father. To know Christ who is God, and anointed of God, Heb. 1 8, 9 & Psalm 45. To know Christ whom thou hast sent; Ergo he was a divine person before he was sent to take the human nature, and he had eternal glory with his Father before the world was, John 17. 5. Nay his calling of God Father, makes him equal with God; nay, he is not only equal to, but one with his Father, John 5. 18 & John 10. 30. Moreover, if the Father have not a divine and eternal Son how is he a divine and eternal Father? Finally, if the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not all three the same true God, there is no God, for these three are one, and therefore all three are one God, or else there is no God at all: from whence it will follow, that if we will be Socinians, we must be Atheists. The Son and Spirit have the same nature with the Father; and therefore if his nature be divine, so is theirs.