Page images

4." In the demonstration of the Spirit and of power;" and other texts might be cited to this purpose. See the discourse on the Holy Spirit.

And as the ancient Jews, in their writings, concur with the scripture in representing the Logos, or Word of God, as the divine wisdom, so they describe the Spirit of God as another divine power; and some of them take the Spirit of God for his will, for which sense Doctor Allix, in his "Judgment of the Jewish Church," page 155. cites Maimonides, and others.

The wisdom, and the effective power of God, are joined in several places in scripture, as being employed in creating the world, Jer. li. 15. "He hath made the earth by his power, he hath established the world by his wisdom," which is repeated Jer. x. 12. and seems a-kin to Ps. xxxiv. 6. " By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the Spirit, or breath of his mouth." And there are several other scriptures where the Word of God, and his Spirit, as well as where wisdom and power are represented as agents, or mediums, by which God created all things.

I do not pretend to produce all these scriptures as divine arguments or proofs of my hypothesis, but only to shew, that the similitude I make use of is not a mere invention of my own, but there is much colour for it in the sacred writings themselves, as well as in the sense of many christian interpreters.

May we not therefore conceive the Word and Spirit as two divine faculties, virtues or powers, in the essence of God? What if we should call the Word, for distinction sake, a divine power, or faculty of knowing and contriving all things? The Spirit an executive power, or faculty, which wills and effects all things? Or, as I noted before, what if the Word rather include knowledge and volition, and the Spirit the divine power of efficience? Not that I would exclude all efficacy from the Word, or intelligence from the Spirit; for the holy penmen do not confine themselves to such a learned and philosophical accuracy. The ideas of these divine powers are oftentimes intermingled in scripture. Sometimes the properties of the Word may be attributed to the Spirit, and those of the Spirit to the Word; for they are both the inseparable powers of an intelligent almighty being, and have incomprehensible union and communion with each other.* But

* I might here cite some of the primitive christian fathers, as Justin Martyr, Athenagoras, Theophilus, Tatian, Tertullian, Irenæus, and others, who speak of the word, wisdom, power, counsel, mind, reason, and will of God the Father, signifying by these various terms, bis Word and his Spirit, which two Ireneus calls "semetipsum," or himself. The reader may find many such citations if he consult the learned Doctor Waterland and his antagonists in the "defence and opposition of the queries; particularly query ii. and `viii, &c. concerning the divinity of Christ, his eternity, his generation, &c." The author of the questions and answers, which are joined with the works of

since God is pleased sometimes to represent his own knowledge and his agency by his wisdom or Word, and his Spirit, why may we not conceive two powers or faculties in the divine nature somewhat analogous to our mind and our will, though they are not the same, since the chief knowledge we can attain to of the blessed God is by analogy to our own souls.

Here let it be noted, that when I represent the Word and Spirit by divine wisdom and power, I do not conceive them merely as two attributes of the divine nature, as justice, goodness, eternity, infinity, &c. but as such distinct faculties, or, perhaps, more distinct than the understanding and will are in human spirits, which two are called powers, rather than properties of the soul.

I grant, that sometimes the terms attribute, property, power, may be used promiscuously for each other; but when there is a distinction made between them, the terms property or attribute, are applied to any sort of modes or qualities, especially the essential ones, that belong to a subject: So immateriality, immortality, finiteness, changeableness, &c. are natural attributes of the human soul: Kindness, justice, faithfulness, &c. are moral attributes of a good man. But the term power denotes a distinct principle of physical agency in the subject, whereby it is rendered capable of acting in this or that manner: So the understanding and the will, so the faculty of perceiving sensible objects, and the faculty of moving the body, are properly called the powers of the soul.

In the same manner, by way of analogy, we may suppose infinity, eternity, unchangeableness, &c. to be the natural attributes of God; goodness, justice, truth, are his moral attributes; for none of these are properly physical principles, or capacities of action. But his Word, and his Spirit, seem to be represented in scripture as the physical principles of knowing, willing, and efficiency, and therefore I call them powers, because this sort of ideas seems to admit of a greater distinction both in God and in creatures, than those qualities which we usually call attributes or properties.

The reader will pardon the necessary impropriety, or unsuitableness, of some of these terms, when applied to the great and blessed God, since we are forced to borrow all our representations of divine things from analogy to human ideas, and the terms of haman language.

I proceed now to set this distinction of the divine persons in Justin Martyr, says, "God, or the Father, and the Word his Son, and the Holy Spirit Mer xala duvaμly are united as far as possible, for the Son is the mind, word, wisdom of the Father, and the Spirit is an emanation, as light from fire." Question 139. The primitive fathers do not always confine their language to such a philosophical niceness, but sometimes use those terms promiscuously, whereby they explain the Word and the Spirit.

an easy light, and represent it in one contracted view, under the few following queries.

SECT. III.-Several Queries to illustrate this Doctrine.

Query I. As the soul includes in it both the powers of understanding and acting, that is mind and will, may not the soul properly represent the complete divine nature, or God? And may not his Word and Spirit be represented by the human mind and will, that is, the power of knowing and contriving, and the power of effecting.



Some of the ancients have represented the Father as the whole of the godhead, and the Son and Spirit as his powers. Hippolytus, an anti-nicene father, expresses himself in this manner, ΤΟ δε παν παλης, εξ ὃ δυναμις λόγω. The Father is the whole, from whom is the power called the Logos or Word." Irenæus calls the Word and Spirit of God God's own self, semetipsum," for they are always present with him as his word and his wisdom, libro ii. capite 56. And Tertullian saith," Pater tota substantia est: Filius vero derivatio et portio totius. The Father is the whole substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole." Contra Praxeam, capite 9.

In some of the foregoing dissertations I have shewn, that not only the primitive fathers, but modern writers of the greatest reputation, have represented God as one spiritual being, and the Word, or Son, and the Spirit, as the wisdom and power of God the Father. And it may be made to appear, that this is not only the sentiment of single divines, but multitudes of them met together in synods, to form confessions of faith, have used. the same manner of speaking. I shall mention only these two.

The confession of the French churches, 1561, saith, "God is one only simple spiritual essence, and in that singular and divine essence there subsist three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father, the first in order, the cause and original of all things; the Son his wisdom and eternal Word; the Holy Spirit his virtue, power and efficacy."

The Dutch confession, composed 1561, and confirmed in a synod of the churches, 1579, saith, "there is one only simple and spiritual essence, which we call God, and that in this one God are three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Father is the cause, origin, and beginning of all things visible and invisible; the Son is the Word, wisdom, and image of the Father; the Holy Spirit, the eternal virtue, and power, &c.

II. May not the soul be described as employing its mind and will in different exercises or actions? May not a spirit properly say, "I employed my mind to search out such a truth, I engaged my will in such a pious resolution, or in the practice of such a duty?" And in the same manner, may not God be said to

employ his divine powers in his work of creation, viz. his Word in contriving, and his Spirit in effecting all things? Or in his works of grace, viz. the Word in redemption, and the Spirit in Sanctification? Thus God created all things by his Word and Spirit, and he saves mankind by the same Word and Spirit.* The great God, by his word or wisdom, directs the agency of his Spirit or executive power.

III. May not the soul be sometimes considered as the prime agent, in distinction from the mind and will, while the soul is said to employ the mind and will in particular transactions? Aud thus, while the divine nature, or God, employs his two powers, the Word and Spirit, may he not sometimes in this view be esteemed, in an economical sense, the chief agent, and thus sustain a distinct sort of personality, even what is usually called the personality of the Father, though it may not signify that he is the author, or producer of the Word, or of the Spirit ?

Is it not generally given as one reason, why Christ is called the Son of God in his pre-existent nature, viz. that he is appointed to his royal offices by God himself, considered as the supreme rector of the world? Now, if Christ may be called a Son in scripture, Ps. ii. 7. and Ps. lxxxix. 27. as being deputed to the mediatorial government, why may not God, the supreme rector of the world, who deputes him to this government, be called the Father on this account? Ps. lxxxix. 26. Surely I should suppose, that those who grant a filiation to be derived from the economy, might allow the same concerning paternity.

IV. Is God ever called the Father in scripture, as giving birth or origin to the divine nature, either of the Word or Spirit? Are they ever plainly represented as depending upon him, or derived from him, as to their divine existence? Does not the word Father rather signify the godhead, considered as the supreme head, as the spring and origin of all creatures, or as being the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as man? Or, at most, as only sustaining the character of the Father, or chief agent, in the economy of creation and redemption ?

V. May not the human mind and the will be represented in a personal manner, or as distinct personal agents, at least by a figurative way of speaking, though they are but two powers of the same soul? May I not use such language as this, "My mind

God is not only said to act by his Word and his Spirit, but he is sometimes said to send forth his Word, and sometimes his Spirit, yet all this may be very fairly expounded concerning two divine powers, since in other places of scripture God is said to send several things which have no proper personality, Ps. Ivii. 3. "God shall send forth his mercy and his truth." Ps. lxxviii. 49. where the original Hebrew by the same word expresses "God sending forth the fierceness of his anger, wrath and indignation as he does the sending forth of evil anzels." P. cxi. 9. "He sent forth redemption to his people," Ps. xx. 2, "The Lord send thee help from the sanctuary."



has laboured hard to find out such a difficulty; my will is resolutely bent to pursue such a course?" And many other common expressions there are of the same nature, wherein the mind and will are still more evidently and plainly represented as persons.

And since human powers are thus represented as persons, why may not the Word and the Spirit, which are divine powers, be thus represented also? and why may not God be represented as a person transacting his own divine affairs with his Word and his Spirit under personal characters, since a man is often represented as transacting human affairs with his understanding, mind, will, reason, fancy, or conscience, in a personal manner? See this treated of more at large in the considerations contained in the "dissertation on the use of the word person."

VI. Have not the greatest part of the writers on ts subject applied the word person to such sort of ideas, or distinctions in the divine nature, as would not bear the proper and literal application of that word, which properly and literally signifies a distinct conscious mind? And therefore they have been constrained to use the word in an analogical and figurative sense. The reverend Doctor Wallis, in his letters on the "Doctrine of the Trinity," illustrates this doctrine of the Father, Son, and Spirit, by the essence, the wisdom, and the force, or executive power of a human soul, letter I. page 16. and freely acknowledges, that the name of person, when it is applied to this divine subject, is metaphorical, or figurative. And indeed, those who make the greatest distinction between the sacred three, viz. the true Athanasiaus do still suppose, that the word person is not taken in the most complete sense of three separate or separable spirits, as three men, or three angels, when it is applied to the doctrine of the Trinity.

VII. Since the mind and will make up the soul, and the soul acts by them in all things that it doth, may not each of these powers be called the soul? May we not say, the mind is the soul, or the will is the soul? So if the Word and Spirit are those divine powers by which God doth every thing, may not each of them be called God? May we not say, the Word is God, and the Spirit is God? May not what each of them does be appro priated to God, since they are the powers by which God operates? And does not this bid fair for the true meaning of scripture, where such sort of language appears: And especially when we consider that this is the language of the ancient Jews, and the primitive christians, who called the Logos God, and attribute to God what is done by his divine Word or his Spirit.

VIII. Doth not this representation of things shew how the sacred three, that is, the Father, the Word, and the Spirit, have sufficient unity, or oneness of nature, to be exhibited to us in scripture as one God, and yet how they may have a sufficient

« PreviousContinue »