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The dependence, confidence, affections, and worship peculiar to Christianity, are manifestly connected by an indissoluble tie, with our sentiments on this respect for, (not to anticipate the subject of the ensuing Essay) how can we avoid grieving the Spirit, if we entertain thoughts of him infinitely beneath his divine dignity and excellency?
Men may continne confidently to assert without proof, that the doctrine of the Trinity is either a contradiction in itself, or inconsistent with the Unity of the Deity they may inform us, that the primitive Christians learned it from Plato and his followers, and so corrupted the faith by philosophy (though it is a thousand times more likely, that Plato borrowed his ideas from those Scriptures, which were extant in his time :) and they may dignify themselves as Unitarians, as if none worshipped the one true God but themselves. But we shall still have the satisfaction (mingled with our regret at such depar tures from the faith) to find, that they grow proportionably shy of the phraseology of the Scripture; that they want to diminish men's reverence for the sacred writers; that they are constrained to adopt methods of interpretation, in respect of those testimonies, which they still admit to be a divine revelation, that would be deemed contemptible, if employed in fixing the sense of any reputable classical writer; and that they make their principal appeal, not to the oracles of God, but to the oracles of human reason, or to the vague and disputed standard of antiquity. It must be evident to all who are conversant with modern treatises on these subjects, that the opposers of the doctrine no longer attempt to support their sentiments by a particular examination of Scripture testimonies, allowing the Bible, as we have received it from our fathers, to be the infallible word of God; and that it ought to be interpreted by the same rules, which judicious scholars employ in explaining other ancient writers. A small part of the Scripture is by them considered to be of divine authority; and the rest they would have us discard as doubtful, or irrational, or at most to give it a subordinate measure of attention.
Could it be proved, that the Trinitarians were not Unitarians also, some ground would be gained by them; but we suppose, that the Trinity of Per-. sons in the Deity consists with the Unity of the Divine Essence: though we pretend not to explain the modus of it, and deem those to have been reprehensible, who have attempted so to do; as the modus, in which any being subsists, according to its distinct nature and known properties, is a secret to the most learned naturalists to this present day, and probably will continue to be so. But if the most common of God's works, with which we are the most conversant, be, in this repsect, incomprehensible; how can men think that the modus existendi, (or manner of existence) of the infinite Creator can be level to their capacities?—The doctrine of the Trinity is indeed a mystery: but no man hath yet shown, that it involves in it a real contradiction. Many have ventured to say, that it ought to be ranked with transubstantiation, as equally absurd. But Archbishop Tillotson has shown, by the most convincing arguments imaginable, that transubstantiation includes the most palpable contradictions; and that we have the evidence of our eyes, feeling, and taste, that what we receive in the Lord's Supper is bread, and not the body of a man; whereas we have only the testimony of our eyes, that the words, "This is my body," are in the Scriptures.-Now this is intelligible to the meanest capacity, fairly made out, and perfectly unanswerable: but who ever attempted thus to prove the doctrine of the Trinity to be self-contradictory? Or what testimony of our senses, or demonstrated proposition, does it contradict? Yet, till this be shown, it is neither fair, nor convincing, to exclaim against it as contradictory, absurd, irrational, &c.
Indeed, it may be easy to say that Three and One cannot be the same; and then to show, that the absurd tenet which they would persuade men that we hold, is self-contradictory: but if we may not quote the much-contested text, (1 John v. 7, 8) as an authority, we may surely use it as expressing our sentiments: "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these Three are one;" three Persons, the
masculine being used; one Being, the neuter being substituted. Now let any man in logical form prove if he can, that these words involve a real contradiction but till this is done, let no man mistake confident assertion for demonstration.
I cannot but hope, that the preceding concise arguments have fully shown, that the sacred writers spoke as strong language, concerning the Personality and Deity of the Holy Spirit, as even the Nicene Fathers: though they did not use such illustrations, explanations, distinctions, or definitions, as the latter unhappily employed in the controversy. Nor can I doubt, but that the Deity of Christ hath been fully proved in the seventh and eighth Essays. And if these two points have been established on Scriptural authority, all that can be said against the doctrine of the Trinity on other grounds, only suggests these questions:-Is the human intellect, or the infinite understanding of God, most competent to determine on the incomprehensible mysteries of the Divine Nature? Shall we abide by the language of inspiration, or give it up for that of human reason? But what is faith? Is it not a disposition to say, "let God be true, and every man a liar?" For "the testimony of God is sure, and giveth wisdom to the simple." If the Scriptures be incontestably proved to be the word of God, by unanswerable external and internal evidences; and a man shall dare to say, "that to allow such a doctrine as that of the Trinity to be contained in it, is enough to impeach its divine authority;" it amounts only to this, that he is so wise in his own eyes, so leans to his own understanding, and is so fond of his own sentiments, that he is determined not to be convinced by any testimony, human or divine.
In addition to the general argument for the doctrine in question, which has been considered, it may be proper to consider a few remarkable passages of Scripture, in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are mentioned together, or jointly addressed in the same act of worship. When our Lord was baptized, the Father by a voice from heaven, declared him to be his beloved Son, and publicly sealed his appointment to the mediatorial office; of which he solemnly accepted, and on which he then entered. And the Holy Spirit, descending visibly, under the emblematic representation of a dove, lighted upon him, as through him to be communicated to all his true disciples; thus the Three Persons in the sacred Trinity, evidently acted according to the parts sustained by them in the great work of man's salvation. But the appointed form of Christian baptism is far more conclusive, "Baptize them into the name" (not names)" of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." By baptism we declare our dependence on, and devotedness to him in whose name we are baptised; and it implies one of the most solemn acts of worship that we can perform. Would it not then greatly tend to mislead us, if a mere creature, and an attribute, were joined with the One True God in this ordinance? Upon the Trinitarian system it is extremely proper: but that man must surely have very lax notions of the peculiar honour due to God, which he will not give to another, who can think it consistent with the doctrine of our opponents. This form of baptism fully warrants the excellent doxology of our Church, "Glory be to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost," &c. and it is worthy of observation, that ancient Anti-trinitarians attempted to improve our Lord's words, saying, "In the name of the Father, and through the Son, and by, or in the Holy Ghost:" which, joined with modern attempts to show the form to be non-essential to baptism, &c., constitutes a full proof that the argument is of great force, even in the opinion of our opponents. When our Lord says, (John xvi. 13-15), " The Spirit of Truth,-He shall glorify me,-all that the Father hath are mine," &c.; he establishes the doctrine of the Trinity. The personality, and consequently the Deity of the Spirit, has been proved from many testimonies: if all things belonging to the Father, belong to Christ also, his Deity must be allowed: and thus the three persons in the Trinity are here pointed out to our observation. The apostolic benediction
(2 Cor. xiii. 14), refers to the One Name in which Christians are baptised; and leads our thoughts to the form of blessing appointed in the law, (Numb. vi. 24-26); in which benedictions were pronounced on the people with a threefold repetition of the name of Jehovah, as well as to the adorations of the heavenly hosts, "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord," &c. (Isaiah vi. 3; Rev. iv. 8). Now this benediction is in reality a prayer in behalf of the Corinthians, for all the blessings of salvation; and these are sought from the Lord Jesus, and from the Holy Spirit, as well as from God the Father. To this accords the address of the Apostle John to the seven churches in Asia, in which he wishes, or prays, for grace and peace to them, from the eternal Father, from the seven Spirits before the throne, and from the Lord Jesus, &c. (Rev. i. 4-6.) According to the emblematic syle of this book, the Holy Spirit, with reference to his manifold gifts and graces, and to the seven churches in Asia, is spoken of as the seven Spirits, &c.: but we cannot doubt of the meaning, nor can we imagine, that any created spirits would have been thus joined with the eternal God, in such an evident act of adoration.
I shall close the present Essay by observing, that the subject before us is of the greatest importance. Either Trinitarians, or Anti-trinitarians, are idolaters; for they cannot both worship that God who reveals himself to us in Scripture; but one of them must-substitute an imaginary being in his place. It is not therefore a subject to be decided by sallies of wit, or ostentation of learning, or by attempting to render one another odious or ridiculous. A sober, humble, teachable mind, disposed to believe the testimony of God, is above all things requisite in such inquiries; this must be sought of God by fervent prayer; and then the Scriptures must be daily and diligently examined with an obedient and reverential mind. The writer of these remarks was once an Anti-trinitarian, and on the point of leaving the Church of England, from objections to her doctrine and worship in this respect. But the study of the Scriptures has changed his judgment: and as he then neglected or disliked the other doctrines which he now values more than life, and was a stranger to vital, experimental religion; so he observes, that they who deny this doctrine, gradually give up other peculiarities of Christianity till the name alone, or very little more, be left of it. He cannot therefore but deem it, (like the key-stone of an arch) essential to the support of evangelical piety; and would subjoin these observations on the Trinity with the apostle's words, "This is the true God, and eternal life; little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen."
But whilst we deem the rejection of this doctrine as a virtual renunciation of Christian baptism; a dissent from the apostolical benediction; and a substitution of another object of worship in the place of the God of the Bible; and whilst we lament the rapid progress of this destructive heresy, which often proves a forerunner to prepare the way for a more avowed apostacy; we must also observe, that it is almost equally to be lamented, that so few who profess the doctrine, seem to understand its real nature and tendency, or to experience its sanctifying efficacy upon their hearts. Alas! what will it avail any man to have maintained, or even triumphantly contended for this fundamental truth, if he continue the devotee of ambition, avarice, or any other vile affection? Of what use is it to show the distinct offices of the Father, Son, and Spirit, in the work of our salvation; unless we, as lost sinners, depend on the everlasting love and free mercy of the Father; on the merits and mediation of the incarnate Son, and on the sanctifying grace of the Holy Spirit? No outward administration of baptism, can profit those who are not made by "the true baptism," the spiritual worshippers and servants of " the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." Nor can the pronunciation of the apostle's benediction save any man who does not partake of the blessings pronounced, in the inward experience of his own soul.
Moreover, whilst we disregard the charge of bigotry, in refusing all religious intercourse with Anti-trinitarians, lest we should give a sanction to
their heresy: let us protest against all attempts to injure them in their temporal interests. Every kindness is due to them as men, when they need it ; many of them, as good members of society, are entitled to civil respect and commendation; and by this conduct, we shall best silence the censures brought against our principles as intolerant; and prove that they enlarge the heart with the most diffusive philanthropy.
On the Gifts and Influences of the Holy Spirit.
THE doctrine which is selected for the subject of the present Essay, has occasioned a great variety of dangerous or destructive mistakes. Some persons have advanced claims, which seem at least to place them upon an equality in this respect, with the prophets, apostles, and inspired writers; and others, (perceiving the absurdity or arrogance of such pretences; deeming themselves wise, strong, or good, by their native powers and exertions; and having no experience to direct them in discriminating between what is Scriptural and what is anti-scriptural) have argued, that we neither want, nor are warranted to expect any such influences: that they were exclusively vouchsafed to the apostles and primitive Christians; and that all, which is now spoken of the operations or assistance of the Spirit, is mere enthusiasm and delusion. These opposite extremes have also admitted of intermediate errors and variations; whilst some contend, that there is no discoverable distinction between divine influences and the actings of our own minds; and do not clearly admit of an exception, in respect of the diverse effects produced by these distinct causes; others suppose, that they are immediately distinguishable by an inward and a kind of instinctive consciousness, (like that which doubtless assured prophets of their divine inspiration); and thus, whilst they seem to honour the Spirit, and will attempt nothing, till, as they say, they are moved by him, they covertly advance a claim to infallibility and perfection, in those favoured seasons, or impute all their mistakes and follies to this sacred Agent. Nor is it uncommon for men to plead that they are influenced by the Holy Spirit, in order to establish other rules of faith and practice than the written word of God, to bring that, or some parts of it, into a measure of discredit; or even to substitute something wrought in or by them, in the place of the righteousness and atoning blood of that Saviour, whom he, the Spirit, is sent to glorify among men. In short, much enthusiasm and spiritual pride, and many fatal or disgraceful delusions have, on the one hand, arisen from misapprehensions of this subject; and, on the other, multitudes have taken occasion from these things, to treat the whole doctrine with the most profane contempt and derision.
But a careful attention to the Scriptures, and to the ends for which the Holy Spirit was promised, may enable us properly to discriminate in this matter; and to show in what sense, and for what purposes, we ought to expect and depend on the influences of the Spirit, and which of his gifts and operations were peculiar to the primitive times, or to such extraordinary occasions. I shall therefore at present offer some thoughts on the miraculous gifts and powers imparted by the Holy Ghost;-on those ordinary endowments which uninspired men may reasonably expect to receive from him ;on his common influences upon the minds of many unconverted persons ;and on the special nature of those influences which he vouchsafes, and of that sanctifying work which he effects on "the vessels of mercy, prepared before unto glory.”.
If we accurately mark the language of the Scriptures, we shall find that
the Holy Spirit is spoken of as the Author and Giver of all those miraculous and supernatural powers with which any of the human race ever were endued. Not only did “ holy men of God speak as they were moved by the Holy Ghost,” (2 Pet. i. 21); not only did apostles, evangelists, and primitive believers receive the Holy Ghost, to enable them to cast out devils, heal the sick, raise the dead, speak in languages before unknown, or to interpret the discourses of others : but even Christ himself was “ anointed by the Holy Ghost,” to work his beneficent miracles, (Acts x. 38): he cast out devils " by the Spirit of God,” (Matt. xii. 28); "who was not given to him by measure,” (John iii. 34): and through “ the Holy Ghost he gave commandments to his apostles,” (Acts i. 2). Indeed the promises made to him, in the Old Testament especially, relate to this ; and his very title of the Messiah, the Christ, the anointed of the Lord, was derived from it, (Psalm xlv. 7; Isaiah xi. 2, 3 ; xlii. 1 ; lix. 21 ; lxi. 1). Nor can we easily and satisfactorily account for these expressions, or reconcile them with our Lord's conduct in speaking and acting, as in his own name, or by his own authority and power ; unless we advert to the distinction between his divine and human nature, and his personal and mediatorial dignity; and remember that in respect to his divine nature, he is one with the Father, and with the Holy Spirit, in all the essence, perfections, and operations of the Godhead. We must therefore consider the Holy Spirit as the great Agent, according to the economy of the everlasting covenant, in the inspiration of the Scriptures, in the performance of all those miracles, by which the messengers of God authenticated their doctrine, and in the revelation of those future events, which being interwoven with every part of the sacred volume, and receiving their accomplishment from age to age, confirm the divine original of the whole to every attentive and impartial inquirer. Such discoveries of the truth and will of God had been made from the beginning: but they became more particular and copious when Israel was brought out of Egypt, and the law was given by Moses. The prophets, and other servants of God, who from time to time were raised up to call the attention of Israel to his law and promises, or to effect extraordinary deliverances for the nation, were endued with miraculous powers by the same Spirit: at the coming of Christ, Mary, Elizabeth, Zacharias, Simeon, &c., spake of him by the Spirit; and his apostles and seventy disciples partook of his extraordinary gifts, and miraculous powers, even before our Lord's crucifixion. Yet the out-pouring of the Spirit, at and after the day of Pentecost, was so vastly superior in energy, extent, and duration, that St. John who had witnessed and shared both, says, in relating the discourses of Christ, “ this he spake of the Spirit—for the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified,” (John vii. 39). Whatever had preceded that great event, might be an earnest of, but did not properly belong to “ the dispensation of the Spirit," nor was worthy to be compared with it. But when Jesus was risen, and ascended on high, these gifts were showered down on men in rich abundance, to confirm the testimony of the apostles to his resurrection, and to qualify them and their fellow-workers to spread the gospel through the nations; and being communicated by the laying on of the apostles' hands, the number of witnesses and instruments was continually multiplied, and provision was made for the rapid progress of their salutary doctrine.
The evident design and use of these extraordinary influences of the Spirit was to rouse the attention of a careless world to the spiritual doctrines of the gospel; to counterbalance men's prejudices in favonr of their old traditions, and against religious innovations; and to put honour on those who were employed to propagate Christianity in the midst of contempt and persecution. The gift of tongues especially seems to have been indispensably necessary, to enable the first preachers of the gospel to address men of different nations in a suitable manner; and the difficulty of learning the languages of heathen nations, forms, at this day, one grand impediment to the propagation of Christianity. These miraculous powers seem to have conti