« EelmineJätka »
Philip said, show us the Father; in his answer to him he asserts an unity of nature; "he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” John xiv. 8, 9. But when the Jews ask him the same question, where is thy Father? He answers it upon a distinction of persons. Saith he, 6 ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.” John v. 37. And again, he that sent me is true, whom ye know not. John vii. 28.
2. The Son did many things peculiar to himself, which are never ascribed either to the Father or the Spirit. He alone was made of a woman, and made under the law. Gal. iv. 4. He did by himself purge away our sins. Heb. i. 4. He is that eternal life who was with the Father : and manifested to us, was looked upon and handled. 1 John i. 2. He is the first begotten from the dead. He loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. Rev. i. 5.
S. The Spirit is said to move the holy men of God, before Christ came, and to make apostles and overseers of the Churches, afterwards. Acts xx. 28. He is not the Son, but another Com
forter ; he is not the Father, but sent by him. . We know Christ no more after the flesh, but here is one who shall abide with us for ever. All the three persons are inentioned in that short account, that Christ being raised by the right hand of God, had received of the Fa. ther the promise of the Holy Ghost. Acts ii. 33.
Upon the whole, then, I exhort and testify
that this is the true grace of God wherein ye stand. ). Pet. v. 12. This is the faith once delivered to the saints, and must be delivered back again by them, pure and unrebukable, at the coming of Jesus Christ. But as it is our work, both to cast up the highway, and to remove the stumbling blocks out of the way of the people, so let me give you an answer to what has been lately published by some gainsayers, who are striving to draw away disciples after them.*
Obj. l. It is a mere spirit of vanity to tell us, that the word person is not scriptural, and that it bears an uncertain signification. One would think, it is to show whence their learning comes, and whither their devotion is a going, when they say it is a term taken from the playhouse, and that a person is one who represents another. But
1. Is not this talking against all the sense of mankind ? Has the word person been so understood for above a thousand years? It is usually said that the word knave once signified only a servant; but I believe none of them would think me excused by any antiquity if I should call him so. The word villain imports no more than a tenant, but does not every one know what it means? When we talk of three persons. we intend by it, that one is not another; that the Father is not the Son, and the Son is neither Father nor Spirit. And there is no great learning shown, by insulting our ignorance of the extent, to which this difference reaches,
* See a book written by a Layman
when it is universally owned, that we cannot tell, what the principle of individuationt is. Let them first determine what it is that makes a distinction of persons among men, before we go any farther.
2. I am sure, that to speak of God and his two powers, that is Christ as the intelligent cognoscitive power, and the Spirit as an intelligent volitive power, I is less scriptural, and a great deal more barbarous. Must the docttrine of three persons in one nature be called vulgar, scholastic, and popish to make room for this rumbling talk.
3. Our way of speaking has long obtained in the Church of God, and till we find a better, we ought to keep it. “ Three distinct con* scious minds, one person, and two powers, “ or two principles of operations," only show that when people will not consent to wholesome words, they grow impatient of contradiction, doting about questions and strifes of words. This has proved a root of bitterness. From hence we have, as the people of God always 'had, backbitings, evil surmisings, and perverse disputings. 1. Tim. vi. 3. Ministers lived in peace, and Churches were edified, till these clear ideas, have thrown a shameful darkness, upon all our glory. I see neithertruth nor peace that is got, by seeking out many innovations. The design of God's people, in all ages, has been to secure the unity of the Godhead, and express the whole of that distinction, which † Individuation is that which makes an individual.
the scripture has revealed, between the three that hear record in heaven.
Obj. 2. Without allowing a figurative personality, we cannot secure the unity of the divine nature. I answer,
1. It has been secured without it, 1700 years already, and will be so when their root is rottenness, and their blossom gone up as dust. Ministers have preached, and people have received the love of the truth in greater demonstration of the Spirit, than either you or I have seen, since the arrival of these divers and strange doctrines. I was much affected with a passage in Dr. Owen, “ Let us, " saith that great man, carefully remeinber the “ faith of them who went before us in this na“ tion, the professors of the last age. I “ am apt to think there was not a more glori. “ous profession for a thousand years, upon “ the face of the earth, than among the pro« fessors of this nation. And pray what faith “ were they of? Were they half Arminian, half « Socinian, half Papist, and half I know not « what? Remember how zealous they were “ for the truth, and how little their holy souls " would have borne with those public defec• tions from the doctrines of truth, which we “ see and do not mourn over, but make nothing “ of, in the days wherein we live. God was " with them; they lived to his glory, and di“ ed in peace; whose faith follow and exam« ple pursue. Remember the faith they liv. “ ed and died in. Look round about, and try “ whether any of these new creeds, have pro“ duced a new holiness to exceed theirs,'
• Were these holy men at a loss, either in believing or defending the unity of the divine nature? Had they such clear ideas of God's love, and none at all of his being? Yes surely, they stood in the good old ways, and so found rest to their souls. As for those who say they will not, walk therein, we must leave them to their own crooked ways. It is by the word that we have heard from the beginning, that peace shall be upon Israel. - 2. If I cannot explain the consistence of one doctrine to another, it only proves that without controversy great is the mystery. 1. Tim. iji. 16. In revealing deep things which we cannot comprehend, God acts like himself. This objection may be urged, as it once has been against the resurrection of the dead. The apostle asserted no more than the fact, and people began to inquire about the manner which is only the evasion of unbelief. Thou wilt say, how are the dead raised, and with what body do they arise? 1. Cor. xv. 35. He gives the man who makes the objection, his proper title, thou fool, that which thou sowest is not quickened except it die. But he never comes down, into an explication of what is all invisible and future.
Obj. 3. These clear ideas, as some have the vanity to call their own imaginations, are to defend the truth and bring over the enemy. I answer, · 1. That is to be determined by the issue ; and till I hear that one Arian is brought over, I must needs think that the Lord has rejected