Page images

in the third place, if such ternary forms of expression really contained the meaning which is commonly ascribed to them. What kind of unity is intended, is sufficiently plain from the next verse, in which the spirit, the water, and the blood are mentioned, which are to bear record to one, or to that one thing. Beza himself, who is generally a staunch defender of the Trinity, understands the phrase unum sunt to mean, agree in one.1 What it is that they testify, appears in the fifth and sixth verses-namely, that he that overcometh the world is he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God, even Jesus Christ, that is, the anointed; therefore he is not one with, nor equal to, him that anointed him. Thus the very record that they bear is inconsistent with the essential unity of the witnesses, which is attempted to be deduced from the passage. For the Word is both Son and Christ, that is, as I say, anointed; and as he is the image, as it were, by which we see God, so is he the word by which we hear him. But if such be his nature, he cannot be essentially one with God, whom no one can see or hear. The same has been already proved, by other arguments, with regard to the Spirit; it follows, therefore, that these three are not one in essence. I say nothing of the suspicion of spuriousness attached to the passage, which is a matter of criticism rather than of doctrine. Further, I would ask whether there is one Spirit that bears record in heaven, and another which bears record in earth, or whether both are the same Spirit. If the same, it is extraordinary that we nowhere else read of his bearing witness in heaven, although his witness has always been most conspicuously manifested in earth, that is, in our hearts. Christ certainly brings forward himself and his Father as the only witnesses of himself, John viii. 16, 19. Why then, in addition to two other perfectly competent witnesses, should the Spirit twice bear witness to the same thing. On the other hand, if it be another Spirit, we have here a new and unheard-of doctrine. There are besides other circumstances, which in the opinion of many render the passage suspicious; and yet it is on the authority of this text, almost exclusively, that the whole doctrine of the Trinity has been hastily adopted.3

1 See page 94, Note 7.

2 See page 94, note 7.

3 This assertion is so far from being correct, that almost all the most judicious defenders of the Trinity, especially in modern times, abstain from resting any part of the weight of their argument on this verse, even when

Lest, however, we should be altogether ignorant who or what the Holy Spirit is, although Scripture nowhere teaches us in express terms, it may be collected from the passages quoted above, that the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as he is a minister of God, and therefore a creature, was created or produced of the substance of God, not by a natural necessity, but by the free will of the agent, probably before the foundations of the world were laid, but later than the Son, and far inferior to him. It will be objected, that thus the Holy Spirit is not sufficiently distinguished from the Son. I reply, that the Scriptural expressions themselves, "to come forth, to go out from the Father, to proceed from the Father," which mean the same in the Greek, do not distinguish the Son from the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as these terms are used indiscriminately with reference to both persons, and signify their mission, not their nature. There is, however, sufficient reason for placing the name as well as the nature of the Son above that of the Holy Spirit in the discussion of topics relative to the Deity; inasmuch as the brightness of the glory of God, and the express image of his person, are said to have been impressed on the one, and not on the other.


THE second species of external efficiency is commonly called CREATION. As to the actions of God before the foundation they admit its genuineness. See particularly Wardlaw On the Socinian Controversy, p. 16, a book which deserves to be mentioned in the very first class of the valuable productions of the present age.

4 Mr. Dunster (Considerations on Milton's Early Reading, and the Prima Stamina of Paradise Lost) has undertaken to prove, and Mr Todd (An Inquiry into the Origin of Paradise Lost, prefixed to Milton's Poetical Works, vol. ii. 246) coincides in the opinion, that the poet has adopted several thoughts and expressions from Joshua Sylvester's translation of the Divine Bookes and Workes of Du Bartas. As the subject of the poem is the same as that of this chapter, it seemed proper to refer to it for the purpose of ascertaining whether any passages appeared to have been present to the mind of Milton while discussing the same topic. They differ in some important particulars,-as, for instance, on the Trinity, and on the creation of the world out of nothing, Du Bartas maintaining that all this all did once of nought begin.' There are, however, a few points sufficiently coincident to deserve noting, which the reader will find quoted

of the world, it would be the height of folly to inquire into them, and almost equally so to attempt a solution of the question. With regard to the account which is generally given from 1 Cor. ii. 7. "he ordained his wisdom in a mystery, even the hidden mystery which God ordained before the world," or, as it is explained, that he was occupied with election and reprobation, and with decreeing other things relative to these subjects,—it is not imaginable that God should have been wholly occupied from eternity in decreeing that which was to be created in a period of six days, and which, after having been governed in divers manners for a few thousand years, was finally to be received into an immutable state with himself, or to be rejected from his presence for all eternity.

That the world was created, is an article of faith: Heb. xi. 3. "through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God."

CREATION is that act whereby GOD THE FATHER PRODUCED in the proper places. The questions alluded to in the first paragraph of this chapter, are thus noticed by Du Bartas.

Thou scoffing Atheist, that inquirest what
Th' Almighty did before he framed that;
What weighty worke his minde was busied on
Eternally, before this world begun

God was not void of sacred exercise;
He did admire his glories mysteries:
His power, his justice, and his providence,
His bounteous grace, and great beneficence
Were th' holy object of his heavenly thought,
Upon the which eternally it wrought.
It may be also that he meditated

The world's idea, ere it was created.

Sylvester's Du Bartas, London, 1641, p. 2. 5 Milton elsewhere alludes to the less serious employments of the Deity before the creation of the world, referring to Prov. viii. 24, 25, 30. 'God himself conceals us not his own recreations before the world was built; I was, saith the Eternal Wisdom, daily his delight, playing always before him.' Tetrachordon. Prose Works, III. 331. And again,

Before the hills appear'd, or fountain flow'd,
Thou with eternal Wisdom didst converse,
Wisdom thy sister, and with her didst play
In presence of th' Almighty Father, pleas'd
With thy celestial song.

Paradise Lost, VII. &.


WHEREBY GOD THE FATHER. Job ix. 8. "which alone spreadeth out the heavens." Isai. xliv. 24. "I am Jehovah that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself." xlv. 6, 7. "that they may know from the rising of the sun, and from the west, that there is none beside me: I am Jehovah, and there is none else: I form the light, and create darkness." If there be any thing like a common meaning, or universally received usage of words, this language not only precludes the possibility of there being any other God, but also of there being any co-equal person, of any kind whatever. Neh. ix.

[ocr errors]

6. "thou art Jehovah alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens.' Mal. ii. 10. "have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us?" Hence Christ himself says, Matt. xi. 25. "I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth." So, too, all the apostles, Acts iv. 24. compared with v. 27. "Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is... the kings of the earth stood up.... against thy holy child Jesus." Rom. xi. 36. "for of him, and through him, and to him are all things." 1 Cor. viii. 6. "to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things." 2 Cor. iv. 6. "for God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ." Heb. ii. 10. "him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things.' "He that built all things is God."

[ocr errors]

iii. 4.

BY HIS WORD. Gen. i. throughout the whole chapter"God said." Psal. xxxiii. 6. "by the word of Jehovah were the heavens made." v. 9. "for he spake, and it was done." cxlviii. 5. "he commanded, and they were created." 2 Pet. iii. 5. "by the word of God the heavens were of old," that is, as is evident from other passages, by the Son, who appears

.to let forth

The King of Glory, in his powerful Word
And Spirit, coming to create new worlds.

Paradise Lost, VII. 207.

hence to derive his title of Word. John i. 3, 10. "all things were made by him: by him the world was made." 1 Cor. viii. 6. "to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things." Eph. iii. 9. "who created all things by Jesus Christ." Col. i. 16. "by him were all things created." Heb. i. 2. "by whom also he made the worlds;" whence it is said, v. 10. "thou hast laid the foundation of the earth.” The preposition per sometimes signifies the primary cause, as Matt. xii. 28. "I cast out devils (per Spiritum) by the Spirit of God." 1 Cor. i. 9. 66 God is faithful, (per quem) by whom ye are called," sometimes the instrumental, or less principal cause, as in the passages quoted above, where it cannot be taken as the primary cause, for if so, the Father himself, of whom are all things, would not be the primary cause; nor is it the joint cause, for in such case it would have been said that the Father created all things, not by, but with the Word and Spirit; or collectively, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit created; which phrases are nowhere to be found in Scripture. Besides, the expressions to be of the Father, and to be by the Son, do not denote the same kind of efficient cause. If it be not the same cause, neither is it a joint cause; and if not a joint cause, certainly the Father, of whom are all things, must be the principal cause, rather than the Son by whom are all things; for the Father is not only he of whom, but also from whom, and for whom, and through whom, and on account of whom are all things, as has been proved above, inasmuch as he comprehends within himself all lesser causes; whereas the Son is only he by whom are all things; wherefore he is the less principal cause. Hence it is often said that

7 Thyself, though great and glorious, dost thou count

Or all angelic nature join'd in one,

Equal to him, begotten Son? by whom,

As by his Word, the mighty Father made

All things, ev'n thee.


Abdiel's speech to Satan, Paradise Lost, V. 833.
Compare also VII. 163–167.

8 For an answer to this assertion, and indeed with reference to the whole of this chapter, see Waterland's Second Sermon in defence of the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, where he proves that Christ is properly Creator.

« PreviousContinue »