Page images

ii. 11. For what man knoweth the things of a man sale the spirit of a man which is in him ; even so the things of God knoweth no'man but the spirit of God.' This place seems to afford a decisive proof that by the spirit of God, we are not warranted to understand any being different from God himself. For the Apostle here compares the Spirit of God to the spirit of man; and reasons from the one to the other. He would be a strange reasoner indeed, who should imagine that the spirit or intellectual faculty of a man, was a different agent, from the man himself : and in like man. ner from the nature of the Apostle's argument, it must be equally absurd to conclude, that the Spirit of God the Fa. ther, is a distinct person or agent from God the Father bimself. And that the Holy Spirit is the spirit of the Fa. ther, is evident from the uniform tènor of scripture, which affirms that it was given by the Father even to Christ him. self while upon earth ; and that he received from the Fa. ther after his resurrection and ascension, the promise of the Holy Ghost; and in other places we are told that the Holy Spirit was sent by the Father, and that it proceeds from the Father. But if any doubt could be entertained of what is so manifest, the following passages compared to. gether, will afford a complete demonstration of it. Matth. X. 20. "For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Father which speaketh in you.' Mark xiii. 31. For it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.' Luke xii. 12.

For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.'

The Holy Spirit is sometimes called the spirit of Christ,' because the Father imparted it to him in the fullest man. ner; and because by the instrumentality of Christ, it was dispensed or shed forth upon the Apostles and first Chris. tians. But as Christ received it from the Father, it is ma. nifest, that it can only be called his spirit in a secondary sense; and in strict propriety of speech belongs to the Fa. ther, and to him only. The Holy Spirit being then the spirit of the Father; and the spirit of God being as strictly God (according to the reasoning of St. Paul,) as the spie rit of a man is a man, every argument for the personality of the Holy Spirit, either as a divine person in the godhead, or an inferior agent under God, seems to be effectually overthrown : unless it be affirmed, that there are different

kinds of Holy Spirits ; and that the Spirit of God some. times signifies God the Father himself, and at other times a different agent from him. But this does not appear to be a just or natural way of interpreting scripture, and would lead to great confusion and uncertainty of explication.

The Holy Spirit not being mentioned in several remark. able places of the New Testament, wherein it might have been expected that his name would have appeared, is a good negative argument against his personality. In the introductory addresses in the Epistles of St. Paul and others, we find grace, mercy, and peace, wished from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ; but nothing wished from the Holy Spirit, and not even his name inserted. It seems to me extremely natural from this omission to conclude, that the Spirit is no person, but one of those gifts which the Father confers by Jesus Christ, and so is included under the articles of grace, mercy, and peace.

In 2 Cor. xii. 14. “St. Paul wishes the Church of Corinth, the Commu. nion or participation of the Holy Ghost: but this does not imply personality; and is a very different phrase from wish. ing a thing from the Holy Ghost. In the same manner the Apostle says, 1 Tim. vi. 21. Grace be with thee;' but this does not imply the personality of grace. St. John (Rev. i. 4.) wishes grace, and peace from the seven spi. rits which are before God's throne; but no person has a right to affirm that these seven spirits are the Holy Spirit ; nor can it be said with certainty what they are.' Again, 1 Tim. v. 21, when St. Paul charges Timothy before God, the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect Angels, there is no mention made of the Holy Spirit. And in the Heb. xii. 22, 23, 24. where all the inhabitants of Mount Sion, the city of the living Gud, are enumerated: God, Jesus the Medi. ator of the New Covenant, Angels and the spirits of just men made perfect; still we find the name of the Holy Spi. rit left out. This would be astonishing to the last degree and utterly unaccountable, if the Holy Spirit were as Trinitarians affirm, a divine person equal with God the Father. An ingenious writer who defends the personality of the Holy Spirit, as an inferior agent under God, supposes, that the Holy Spirit is here included, amongst the innumerable company of angels; and that therefore there was no occasion for distinctly mentioning him, but this reason

cannot be urged by any Trinitarian. Further, when our Lord says,

Matth. xi. 27. None knoweth the Son but the Father; neither knoweth any the Father, save the Son ;' why should the Holy Spirit be omitted, who upon the Tri. nitarian system must know both the Father and the Son, as well as they can know each other? Again in Rev. v. 13. the following words occur, Every creatureheard I, saying, blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and un. to the lamb for ever and ever.' He that sits upon the throne is God the Father, and the lamb is our Lord Jesus Christ, but why is not glory ascribed to the Holy Spirit along with them ? It seems the famous Trinitarian doxology is unknown in heaven, although so much used on earth. In the words of our text, life eternal is said to consist in the knowlege of the Father the only true God, and of Jesus Christ whom he has sent. But why is it not said also to consist in the knowledge of the Holy Spirit ? Many more places might have been alleged, wherein it was natural to expect to find the Holy Spirit named, but these are sufficient for our purpose. It is impossible to assign a reason for these omissions, on the supposition that the Holy Spirit is a divine person equal with God the Father; and it is not even probable that he should have been omit. ted so often, supposing him to have been an inferior being. But if we understand the spirit of God, or Holy Spirit, in the true scriptural acceptation of the word, as signifying either God the Father bimself, or the divine power, energy, operation, influence, or inspiration, this difficulty will be entirely removed. We now leave this subject, and proceed to the consideration of other objections.

Mat. xxviii. 20. “Lo I am with you alway even unto the end of the world. St. Luke informs us, that our Lord Jesus Christ after his resurrection ascended into heaven ; and Peter tells us, Acts iïi. 21. 'that the heaven must receive him, until the times of restitution of all things.' He could not therefore be personally present with the Apostles after his ascension. But he must be understood here, as referring to the Holy Spirit, or the miraculous powers and gifts, which he received of the Father, and shed forth upon the Apostles and first converts to christianity ; and we. are warranted to interpret his words in this manner, be



cause he represents himself in another place, as coming to his disciples in this sense. See John siv. 16, 17, 18. The original words, εως της συντελείας τε αιώνος may be translated, even unto the end of the age;' and are by some re. stricted to the apostolic age, while miraculous powers con. tinued in the Christian church: and the words of our Lord being directed to the Apostles themselves, seems to confirm this interpretation.

Luke i. 16, 17. 'And many of the children of Israel shall he (John the Baptist) turn to the Lord their God.' And he shall before him in the spirit and power of Elias,' &c. Ver. 76. And thou child shall be called the prophet of the highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare his ways.' For an explanation of these passages turn to Discourse viii. Page, 136.

John i. 1 to 14." 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. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness com. prehended it not. There was a man sent from God whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear wit. ness of the light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that light, but was sent to bear witness of that light. That was the true light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not. He came unto his own, and his own received him not. many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name : which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth:

St. John begins his Gospel, in a manner very different from the other Evangelists; and various have been the conjectures of learned men, concerning his intention in writing this introduction to it. Some eminent critics have imagined, that he intended to condemn the opinions of Ce. rinthus; but others equally respectable and discerning, do

But as

not think that the Apostle alluded to him or his tenets at all, Some have endeavoured to trace a connection betwixt tha language of St. John concerning the Logos or Word; and the doctrine of Plato and his followers: but others reject this notion, and consider the Apostle as having used this term, as a sense quite foreign and opposite to that of the Platonists, The Trinitarians have often adduced the first verses of St. John's Gospel, as a clear proof, and absolute demonstration, of the supreme divinity of Jesus Christ: and it is our business at present to shew, that these words of the Apostle afford no foundation for such an opinion.

It is not likely that St. Jolin should have inculcated a doctrine of this kind, at his first setting out; since in the course of his Gospel, he has furnished us with many answer. able arguments against it. It is St. John that has recorded those discourses of Christ, wherein he declares, that he could do nothing of himself; that the Father who dwelt in him did the works; that he was not the author of his own doctrine; that the Father gave him a commandment-what he should say and what he should speak; that the Father was greater that he ; that the Father was in the words of our text' thu only true God;' that he himself was his Messenger: and many other things utterly incompatable with proper divinity. St. John also informs us, towards the conclusion of his gospel, that his intention in writing it was to ascertain the Messiahship of Jesus, or to prove that he was the anointed son of God. John xx. 31. “These (things) are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ the Son of God.'' But according to our opponents, it was written to'prove, not that Jesus is the Son of God in the scriptural sense of the word, but that he is the most high God himself. In considering this passage, we shall first give the Trinitarian interpretation of it, with a refutation ; and then the different explications of Unitarians, both of the Arian and Socinian denomination.

The Trinitarian is as follows : . In the beginning was the Word.' Jesus Christ, or God the Son existed when things first began to be created, and consequently must be eternal. Reply. If the Word here means a person, and that per son is Jesus Christ; yet it will not follow that he is eternal, because he is said to have existed in the beginning of the Mosaic creation. If St. John had intended to establish the

« PreviousContinue »