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ON THE UNION AND DISTINCTION IN THE DIVINE NATURE.
THE contents of the preceding Essay afford abundant evidence that the doctrine of the unity of God is not only explicitly declared by the inspired writers, but lies at the very foundation of their system of religion, and pervades it in every part. Whether they were led to write of his power, his omniscience, and his wisdom, or to expatiate on his moral attributes, it never failed to be on the allowed and declared principle, that there is no other God but Jehovah, the Creator and Governor of all things, the only proper object of spiritual allegiance and adoration. While, however, this primary truth must ever be held sacred on the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it is on the same authority that we admit another doctrine, namely, that, in his revealed operations, and more especially in the appointment and application of the scheme of man's redemption, God has manifested himself to us as the FATHER, the son, and the HOLY SPIRIT.
In order to the elucidation of this subject-a subject which ought never to be approached without a feeling of profound humility and reverence-we may now advert to some of those scriptural declarations, from which we learn that the Father is God; that the Son is God; and that the Holy Spirit is God.
140 The Father is God: the Son is God. [Ess. vii.
1. That the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who sent his only-begotten Son into the world, is God, is universally admitted by Christians; and, on the present occasion, nothing can be needful but to adduce two or three of those numerous texts of Scripture, in which he is at once distinguished as the Father, and described as the Deity. “God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world ; but that the world through him might be saved :” John iii, 17. “God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord :" I Cor. i, 9. “ Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ:" 1 Pet. i, 3. Such and similar are the terms in which the sacred writers invariably express themselves respecting the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Wherever, indeed, Jesus is described as the Son of God, there the Deity of the Father, as he is distinguished from the Son, is recognized and declared.
2. The divine nature and character of Jesus Christ, the Word or Son of God, will form the principal subject of a subsequent Essay. In the mean time, therefore, we may confine ourselves, in reference to this interesting topic, to the citation of that comprehensive and emphatic declaration, in which, at the very commencement of his Gospel, the apostle John has adverted to the preexistence of the Messiah, and has attributed to him, at once, both the name and the works of Deity. “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men :" John i, 1–4.
3. With respect to the Holy Spirit, we must in the first place, direct our attention to those passages of Scripture, in which he is described, not merely in his
Ess. vii.] Personal Character
141 influence and operation, but in his personal character. Such was the point of view in which the Holy Spirit was held up to the attention of the earliest Christians by the Lord Jesus. “But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, HE? shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you:" John xiv, 26. “ But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me:" xv, 26. “ It is expedient for you, that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send him unto you. And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" John xvi, 7, 8. On another occasion, our Saviour made mention of the Holy Ghost, as of One against whom the sin of blasphemy could never be committed with impunity. “ All manner of sin and blasphemy,” said he, "shall be forgiven unto men; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come:" Matt. xii, 31, 32.
The very pointed allusions thus made by our Saviour to the personality of the Holy Spirit are in exact accordance with the mode of expression which was often adopted, in relati: n to the same subject, by his inspired disciples. From various passages in the Book of Acts, and the Epistles, we can scarcely do otherwise than deduce the inference, that these servants of the Lord regarded the Holy Spirit as one possessing a personal authority, exercising personal powers, and requiring
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of the Holy Spirit. [Ess. VII. a personal allegiance. When Ananias and Sapphira kept back part of the price of their land, it was the Holy Spirit to whom they lied, and whom they conspired to tempt: Acts v, 3, 9. When the church at Antioch was engaged in ministering to the Lord with fasting, it was the Holy Spirit who said unto them, "Separate Me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them;" and it was he by whom these evangelists were sent forth, when they departed unto Seleucia : Acts xiii, 2, 4. It was the Holy Spirit who directed the course of the apostle Paul's journeys; who forbade him to preach the word in Asia; who suffered him not to go into Bythinia: Acts xvi, 6,7. It was the Holy Spirit, as well as the apostles and their brethren, to whom it “seemed good” to refrain from imposing on the Gentiles the burden of the Jewish ritual: Acts xv, 28. It was he who constituted the overseers of the churches : Acts xx, 28. It was he who inspired the apostles; who spake and testified by the prophets ; Mark xiii, 11; Acts xxviii, 25; Heb. iii, 7; ix, 8; x, 15. “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God," said Paul to the Ephesians, “whereby (or by whom) ye are sealed unto the day of redemption,” Ephes. iv, 30; and to the Corinthians, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God?" 1 Cor. vi, 19. Lastly, in describing the diversified, yet harmonious, operation of spiritual gifts, the same apostle says, “ For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge, by the same Spirit, &c. &c. .... But all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit, dividing to every man severally, as he will :" 1 Cor. xii, 8-11.
Now, if the inquiry be addressed to us, Who is HE, of whom Christ and his apostles thus bear witness ; who teaches and consoles the disciples of Jesus; who
Ess. vii.] The Holy Spirit is God.
143 reproves the world of sin, of righteousness, and of judgment; whom it is unpardonable to blaspheme, wicked and dangerous to tempt and to grieve; who finds his temple in the hearts of the righteous;' who inspires the apostle ; speaks by the prophet; appoints the overseer; calls forth, anoints, and directs the evangelist; who distributes to his people, according to his own will, those manifold gifts and graces, by which the church is edified, and the cause of truth promoted ?—the fundamental principles of our religion, and the whole analogy of Scripture, will assuredly admit but of one answer-He is God.
God is a spirit. Invisible, and spiritual in his nature, he fills his own works: he exercises over them an unseen and powerful influence : he dwells and operates in the hearts of men. Nor can we deny the truth of the converse of such a proposition-namely, that the Spirit who fills the works of deity, who exercises over them an unseen, yet powerful, influence, who dwells and operates in the hearts of men, is God.
“Now, THE LORD IS THAT SPIRIT,” saith the apostle Paul; “ and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all with open face beholding, as in a glass, the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image, from glory to glory, even as by the SPIRIT OF THE LORD:" 2 Cor. iii, 17, 18. · II. Such is the scriptural evidence of which we are in possession, that the Father is God, that the Son is God, that the Holy Spirit is God. Having considered this evidence, we may now proceed to take a view of some additional passages in the New Testament, in which the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, whose deity is thus distinctively and separately indicated, are presented to our attention as the united sources of the Christian's help and consolation, the united objects of the Christian's belief and obedience.