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servations which we meet with in several of the antient fathers relative to it. We learn from Ambrose, that persons at the time of their Baptism, declared their belief in the three persons of the Holy Trinity, and that they were dipped in the water three times : in his Treatise upon the Sacraments he says, « Thou wast asked at thy Baptism, Dost thou believe in God the Father Almighty ? and thou didst reply, I believe, and thou wast dipped; a second time thou wast asked, Dost thou believe in Jesus Christ the Lord ? thou didst answer again, I believe, and thou wast dipped; a third time the question was repeated, Dost thou believe in the Holy Ghost? and the answer was, I believe, then thoù wast dipped a third time (2').” It is to be noticed, that the belief, here expressed separately in the three persons of the Trinity, is precisely the same in all. Tertullian, Basil, and Jerome, all mention this practice of trine immersion, as being derived from apostolical tradition; and Jerome expressly says, “We are thrice dipped in the water, that the mystery of the Trinity may appear to be but one.
We are not baptised in the names of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, but in one name, which is God's; and therefore, though we be thrice put under water to repre
sent (x) De Sac. lib. 2. cap. 7.
"_“ Who,” says
sent the mystery of the Trinity, yet it is reputed but one Baptism (y).”. Didymus,“ will not hence conclude the equality of the sacred Trinity, seeing there is but one Faith in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as Baptism is ministered in the name of all three (2) ?” Cyprian, after reciting the form of Baptism prescribed by our Saviour, says, “He intimatęs a Trinity, by the sacrament of which the nations should be baptised;” and again, “ Christ himself orders the nations to be baptised in the full and united Trinity (a).”—“ If,” says Athanasius,“ the Holy Ghost be not of the substance of the Father and the Son, why then did the Son of God join him together with them in the symbol of sanctification, when he said to his disciples, Go, teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost (b)?” The heretics, who denied the divinity of Christ or of the Holy Ghost, introduced alterations into the form of Baptism to suit their own particular tenets; these alterations are reprobated by many of the orthodox fathers, and the council
of (y) Hieron cont. Luc. cap. 4. lib. 2. in Ephes. 14. (2) De Sp. Sanct. lib. 2. inter. Op. Hier. (a) Cyp. ad Jub. (b) Athanas. Disp. cont. Ar.
of Nice decreed, “ If they do not answer to this doctrine of the Trinity, let them not be baptised.”
Thus the mysterious union of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as one God, was, in the opinion of the purest ages of the Christian church, clearly expressed in this form of Baptism. By it the primitive Christians understood the Father's gracious acceptance of the atonement offered by the Messiah ; the peculiar protection of the Son, our great high priest and intercessor; and the readiness of the Holy Ghost to sanctify, to assist, and to comfort all the obedient followers of Christ, confirmed by the visible gift of tongues, of prophecy, and divers other gifts to the first disciples. And as their great Master's instructions evidently distinguished these persons from each other, without any difference in their authority or power, all standing forth as equally dispensing the benefits of Christianity, as equally the objects of the faith required in converts upon admission into the church, they clearly understood that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, were likewise equally the objects of their grateful worship: this fully appears from their prayers, doxologies, hymns, and creeds, which are still extant. The second passage to be produced in support
of the doctrine now under consideration, is, the doxology at the conclusion of St. Paul's Second Epistle to the Corinthians : “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you.” The manner in which Christ and the Holy Ghost are here mentioned, implies that they are persons, for none but persons can confer grace or fellowship; and these three great blessings of grace, love, and fellowship, being respectively prayed for by the inspired apostle from Jesus Christ, God the Father, and the Holy Ghost, without any intimation of disparity, we conclude that these three persons are equal and divine. This solemn benediction may therefore be considered as another proof of the Trinity, since it acknowledges the divinity of Jesus Christ and of the Holy Ghost.
The third and last passage which I shall quote upon this subject, is the following salutation or benediction in the beginning of the Revelation of St. John: “ Grace and peace from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the Seven Spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ.” Here the Father is described by a periphrasis taken from his attribute of eternity, and the seven spirits is a mystical expression for the Holy Ghost, used upon this occasion either because the salutation
is addressed to seven churches, every one of which had partaken of the spirit, or because seven was a sacred number
among the Jews, denoting both variety and perfection, and in this case alluding to the various gifts, administrations, and operations of the Holy Ghost. Since grace
peace are prayed for from these three persons jointly and without discrimination, we infer an equality in their power to dispense those blessings ; and we farther conclude that these three persons together constitute the Supreme Being, who is alone the object of prayer, and is alone the giver of every good and of every perfect gift.
It might be right to remark that the seven spirits cannot mean angels, since prayers are never in Scripture addressed to angels, nor are blessings ever pronounced in their name (c).
It is unnecessary to quote any of the numerous passages in which the Father is singly called
(c) I purposely omit the contested passage in the First Epistle of St. John, “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." In any case it would be improper to produce a doubtful text in support of so important a doctrine as that of the Trinity ; but I must own, that after an attentive consideration of the controversy relative to that passage, I am convinced that it is spurious.