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I JOHN, V. 7.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are onė.
In the preceding discourse, this text was very particularly explained, in conformity with the first head of the grand division. We have also passed through a part of the second head, in showing the agreement of this disputed passage with the Scriptures in general. Under the last mentioned division, it was evinced,
1. That the Old Testament and the New, unite in declaring with 1 John 5. 7, that there are three in heaven, bearing the names of the Father, of the Word, or Son, and of the Holy Ghost. It was likewise shown,
2. In part, that the Scriptures at large agree, that the glorious three in heaven unite in witnessing to the divinity and atonement of the Word, and to the salvation of believers through his powerful intercession.
The way is now prepared to proceed with a farther illustration of this general head of the interesting subject. Therefore,
3. Is it said in our text, that the three who bear record in heaven, are one?" This is the united voice of all the sacred writings.
The unity of God is an established doctrine in the inspired volume, and is a dictate of natural as well as revealed religion. It is said in the writings of Moses, "Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God is one Lord." Deut. 6. 4. The great Jehovah saith, by Isaiah his prophet, "I am the Lord, and there is none else, there is no God beside me." Isa. 45. 5. This doctrine is clearly revealed in the Old Testament, from the commencement to the close. The New Testament exhibits the same important truth, with equal perspicuity. St. Paul, in his epistles, says, "To us there is but one God." 1 Cor. 8. 6. Again; "For there is one God. 1 Tim. 2. 5. In Gal. 3. 20, he says also, God is one."
More testimony on this head, is unnecessary; and we rejoice to find, that it has been the settled belief of pious and well informed minds, in all periods of time. In connexion with what has been said, we argue, If the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, possess, each, underived existence, independence and unlimited perfections, it will necessarily follow that they are the same in essence, and one God. The unity of the Divine essence, and the Trinity of persons in God, are doctrines, revealed without any obscurity in the lively oracles of heaven.
Is it said in 1 John 5. 7,—“ These three are one ?” the Lord Jesus Christ himself, uses the same phraseology in John 10. 30; "I and my Father are one." He assures us in the 14th chapter of the same book, "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father." "I am in the Father, and the Father in me."
In the 1st chap. and 18th verse, it is said, "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him."
As it is asserted, that "no man hath seen God at any time;" it must be the Father who is meant; for, all who
are conversant with the sacred writings, must know, that the God of Israel had often appeared unto men.
In this view of the case, we may clearly perceive, that it was Christ who said unto Abraham, "I am the Almighty God; walk before me, and be thou perfect." In John 1. 18. it is solemnly denied that any man had ever seen the Father; but in Gen. 17. 1, it is clearly stated, " And when Abram was ninety years old and nine, the Lord appeared unto Abram and said unto him, I am the Almighty God." Christ, therefore, must be the Almighty God, on the fairest principles of reasoning. This being admitted, irresistibly proves that he is one with the Father in essence, as well as testimony; which is the very doctrine contained in the text under consideration. If the Father and the Word, are two distinct Persons, in one simple essence, it is easy to see, that the to see, that the Holy Ghost may also be a Person, in the same undivided Godhead. He is certainly ranked with the Father and the Word, in 1 John 5. 7, as a distinct agent, but of the same substance, and equal in perfections and glory :—and with this statement, all Scripture agrees.
The opposers of the Trinity profess to believe, that the Spirit is not a distinct Person in God, but is either one of the names of the Father, or else, merely one of his perfections or operations. But if their sentiment be correct, how shall we understand the commission which Christ gave to his ministers respecting baptism? It must be understood in this sense, "You shall baptize your proselytes in the name of the Father, who is truly God, and in the name of the Son, who is a mere creature: and again, either in the name of the Father, or else, in the name of one of his attributes or operations. According to this doctrine, the same inconsistency and tautology is embraced in the apostle's benediction, with which divine worship is closed in all our congregations.
It is to us, however, a consolation, that the whole Bible, accords with the statement made in 1 John 5. 7. That the Spirit is distinct from the Father and the Word, as a Person, and yet one with them in essence, and in every divine perfection and glory. We know, that the Holy Spirit is spoken of in all the Scriptures, as being God, possessing an eternal, independent existence, and almighty power. The apostle Peter said to Ananias, "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost?-thou hast not lied unto men, but unto God." Acts 5. 3, 4.
In respect to the duration of the Spirit's existence, St. Paul says, "How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself to God, purge your conscience from dead works, to serve the living God." If the Spirit is eternal, it sufficiently proves his independence, for there could be no antecedent being, to operate as a cause of his existence. To labor for far
ther proof on this point, would be a waste of time.
That the divine Spirit possesses almighty power, the works ascribed to him expressly testify. In speaking of the creating power of Jehovah, Job says, "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens." Job 26. 13. At the commencement of creation, Moses states, that "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters." Gen. 1. 2. In relation to the great variety of pestiferous creatures, which were to devour the land of Edom, and to possess it forever, the prophet Isaiah says, God's "mouth it hath commanded, and his Spirit it hath gathered them." 34. 18.
Creating the heart of man anew, is the work of the Spirit, and it is as great a work as the creating of the world, requiring no less power. It is said in John 3. 5. "Except a man be born of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God;" and, that event is called by St. Paul, being "created in Christ Jesus unto good works."
But as Anti-Trinitarians contend that the Holy Spirit is either the Father himself, or his power personified, more evidence of this kind is unnecessary. If the things which have been mentioned of the Holy Ghost are true, and his distinct personality from the Father and the Word, has been made to appear, then the doctrine contained in our text agrees with the Scriptures; which is now the only point in question.
As that point is sufficiently settled, I shall proceed in conformity with my general plan, to adduce,
III. The evidence of the divine authority of the text in dispute.
From the view we have taken of the Scriptures in general, it fully appears, that our contested text, contains no false doctrine, whether it is spurious or genuine. This may be justly considered, as a strong presumptive argument in favor of its inspiration. We are not, however, reduced to the necessity of resting its authenticity on that argument alone, although its weight is great. But in entering into a connected series of evidence, in favor of the divine authority of 1 John, 5. 7, we may observe,
1. That its strict connection with the rest of the chapter, evinces this.
If it were inserted by an uninspired pen, it would surely disturb and weaken the apostle's reasoning, instead of elucidating his subject, or strengthening his argument. This does not appear to be the case; for, if the text were removed from its present position, the force of his reasoning would be greatly enervated. It is evidently his object, in ver. 6, to shew, that "Jesus Christ come by water and blood." In this saying, he undoubtedly alludes to the blood and water, which issued from the Redeemer's side, when it was pierced with the spear. By that precious blood, an atonement was made for sin; and, the