Theological Institutes

Part Second - Doctrines of the Holy Scriptures

By Richard Watson

Chapter 17


THE discussion of this great point of Christian doctrine may b9 included in much narrower limits than those I have assigned to the Divinity of Christ, so many of the principles on which it rests having been closely considered, and because the Deity of the Spirit, in several instances, inevitably follows from that of the Son. As the object of this work is to educe the doctrine of the sacred Scriptures on all the leading articles of faith, it will, however, be necessary to show the evi­dence which is there given to the two propositions in the title of the chapter :-that the Holy Ghost (from the Saxon word GAST, a Spirit,) is a PERSON; and that he is GOD.

As to the manner of his being, the orthodox doctrine is, that as Christ is God by an eternal FILIATION, so the Spirit is God by procession from the Father and the Son. "And I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who proceedeth from the Father and the Son, who, with the Father and Son together, is worshipped and glorified." (Nicene Creed.) "The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding." (Athanasian Creed.) The Holy Ghost, próceeding from the Father and the Son, is of one substance, majesty, and glory, with the Father and the Son, very and eternal GOD." (Articles of the English Church.) The Latin Church introduced the term spiration, from spiro, to breathe, to denote the manner of this procession; on which Dr. Owen remarks, "as the vital breath of a man has a continual emanation from him, and yet is never sepa­rated utterly from his person, or forsaketh him, so doth the Spirit of the Father and the Son proceed from them by a continual Divine emana­tion, still abiding one with them." On this refined view little can be said which has obvious Scriptural authority; and yet the very term by which the third person in the trinity is designated WIND or BREATH may, as to the third person, be designed, like the term Son applied to the second, to convey, though imperfectly, some intimation of that manner of being by which both are distinguished from each other, and from the Father; and it was a remarkable action of our Lord, and one certainly which does not discountenance this idea, that when he imparted the Holy Ghost to his disciples, "he BREATHED on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost," John xx, 22.[1]

But whatever we may think as to the doctrine of "spiration," the PROCESSION of the Holy Ghost rests on direct Scriptural authority, and is thus stated by Bishop Pearson:-

Now this procession of the Spirit, in reference to the Father, is delivered expressly, in relation to the Son, and is contained virtually in the Scriptures. First, it is expressly said, that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father, as our Saviour testifieth, 'When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me,' John xv, 26. And this is also evident from what hath been already asserted: for being the Father and the Spirit are the same God, and being so the same in the unity of the nature of God, are yet distinct in the personality, one of them must have the same nature from the other; and because the Father hath been already shown to have it from none, it followeth that the Spirit hath it from him.

"Secondly, though it be not expressly spoken in time Scripture, that the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father and Son, yet the substance of the same truth is virtually contained there; because those very ex­pressions, which are spoken of the Holy Spirit in relation to the Father, for that reason because he proceedeth from the Father, are also spoken of the same Spirit in relation to the Son; and therefore there must be the same reason presupposed in reference to the Son, which is expressed in reference to the Father. Because the Spirit proceedeth from the Father, therefore it is called the Spirit of God and the Spirit of the Father. 'It is not ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh in you,' Matt. x, 20. For by the language of the apostle, the Spirit of God is the Spirit which is of God, saying, 'The things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God. And we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God,' 1 Cor. 11, 12. Now the same Spirit is also called the Spirit of the Son; for 'because we are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into our hearts,' Gal. iv, 6: the Spirit of Christ; 'Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his,' Rom. viii, 9; 'even the Spirit of Christ which was in the prophets,' 1 Peter i, 11 ; the Spirit of Jesus Christ, as the apostle speaks, 'I know that this shall turn to my salvation, through your prayer, and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ,' Phil. i, 19. If then the Holy Ghost be called the Spirit of the Father, because he proceedeth from the Father, it followeth that, being called also the Spirit of the Son, lie proceedeth also from the Son.

"Again: because the Holy Ghost proceedeth from the Father, he is therefore sent by the Father, as from him who hath by the original communication, a right of mission; as 'the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send,' John xiv, 26. But the same Spirit which is sent by the Father is also sent by the Son, as he saith, 'When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you.' Therefore the Son hath the same right of mission with the Father, and consequently must be acknowledged to have communicated the same essence. The Father is never sent by the Son, because he received not the Godhead from him; but the Father sendeth the Son, because he communicated the Godhead to him: in the same manner, neither the Father nor the Son is ever sent by the Holy Spirit; because neither of them received the Divine nature from the Spirit: but both the Father and the Son sendeth the Holy Ghost, because the Divine nature, common to both the Father and the Son, was communicated by them both to the Holy Ghost. As therefore the Scriptures declare expressly, that the Spirit proceedeth from the Father; so do they also virtually teach that he proceedeth from the Son." (Discourses on the Creed.)

In opposition to the dothine of the personality and Deity of the Spirit, stands the Socinian hypothesis, which I state before the evidence from Scripture is adduced, that it may be seen, upon examination of inspired testimony, how far it is supported by that authority. Arius regarded the Spirit not only as a creature, but as created by Christ, ktisma mato~, the creature of a creature. Some time afterward, his personality was wholly denied by the Arians, and he was considered as the exerted energy of God. This appears to have been the notion of Socinus, and, with occasional modifications, has been adopted by his followers. They sometimes regard him as an attribute, and at others resolve the pas sages in which he is spoken of into a periphrasis, or circumlocution for God himself; or, to express both in one, into a figure of speech.

In establishing the proper personality and Deity of the Holy Ghost, the first argument is drawn from the frequent association, in Scripture, of a person, under that appellation, with two other persons, one of whom, "the Father," is by all acknowledged to be Divine; and the ascription to each of them, or to the three in union, of the same acts, titles, and autho­rity, with worship of the same kind, and, for any distinction that is made, in an equal degree. This argument has already been applied to establish the Divinity of the Son, whose personality is not questioned; and the terms of the proposition may be as satisfactorily established as to the Holy Spirit, and will prove at the same time both his personality and his Divinity.

With respect to the Son, we have seen that, as so great and funda­mental a doctrine as his Deity might naturally be expected to be announced in the Old Testament revelation, though its full manifestation should be reserved to the New; so it was, in fact, not faintly shadowed forth, but displayed with so much clearness as to become an article of faith in the Jewish Church. The manifestation of the existence and Divinity of the Holy Spirit may also be expected in the law and the prophets, and is, in fact, to be traced there with equal certainty. The SPIRIT is represented as an agent in creation, "moving upon the face of the waters ;" and it forms no objection to the argument, that creation is ascribed to the Father, and also to the Son, but a great confirmation of it. That creation should be effected by all the three persons of the Godhead, though acting in different respects, vet so that each should be a Creator, and, therefore, both a person and a Divine person can be explained only by their unity in one essence. On every other hypothe­sis this Scriptural fact is disallowed, and therefore no other hypothesis can be true. If the Spirit of God be a mere influence, then he is not a Creator, distinct from the Father and the Son, because he is not a per. son; but this is refuted both by the passage just quoted and by Psalm xxxiii, 6, "By the WORD OF THE LORD were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the BREATH (Heb. Spirit) of his mouth." This is farther confirmed by Job xxxiii, 4, "The SPIRIT OF GOD hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life ;" where the second clause is obviously exegetic of the former, and the whole text proves that, in the patriarchal age, the followers of the true religion ascribed creation to the Spirit, as well as to the Father; and that one of his appellations was "the BREATH of the Almighty." Did such pas. sages stand alone, there might indeed be some plausibility in the criticism which solves them by a personification; but, connected as they are with that whole body of evidence, which has been and shall be adduced, as to the concurring doctrine of both Testaments, they are inexpugnable. Again: if the personality of the Son and the Spirit be allowed, and yet it is contended that they were but instruments in creation, through whom the creative power of another operated, but which creative power was not possessed by them; on this hypothesis, too, neither the Spirit nor the Son can be said to create, any more than Moses created the serpent into which his rod was turned, and the Scriptures are again contradicted. To this association of the three persons in creative acts may be added a like association in acts of PRESERVATION, which has been well called a continued creation, and by that term is expressed in the following pas­sage: Psalm civ, 27-30, "These wait all upon thee, that thou mayest give them their meat in due season. Thou hidest thy face, they are troubled; thou takest away their breath, they die, and return to dust: thou SENDEST FORTH Till SPIRIT, they are created, and thou renewest the face of the earth." It is not surely here meant that the Spirit, by which the generations of animals are perpetuated, is wind; and if he be called an attribute, wisdom, power, or both united, where do we read of such attributes being "sent," "sent forth from God 7" The personality of the Spirit is here as clearly marked as when St. Paul speaks of God "sending forth the Spirit of his Son," and when our Lord promises to"send" the Comforter; and as the upholding and preserving of created things is ascribed to the Father and, the Son, so here they are ascribed, also, to the Spirit, " sent forth from" God to "create and renew the face of the earth."

The next association of the three persons we find in the inspiration of the prophets. "GOD spake unto our fathers by the prophets," says St. Paul, Heb. i, 1. St. Peter declares, that these "holy men of God spake as they were moved by the HOLY GHOST," 2 Pet. i, 21; and also that it was "the Spirit of CHRIST which was in them," 1 Pet. i, 11. We may defy any Socinian to interpret these three passages by making the Spirit an influence or attribute, and thereby reducing the term Holy Ghost into a figure of speech. "God," in the first passage, is, unquestionably, God the Father, and the "holy men of God," the prophets, would then, according to this view, be moved by the influence of the Father; but the influence, according to the third passage, which was the source of their inspiration, was the Spirit, or the influence of "Christ." Thus the passages contradict each other. Allow the trinity in unity, and you have no difficulty in calling the Spirit, the Spirit of the Father, and the Spirit of the Son, or the Spirit of either; but if the Spirit be an influence, that influence cannot be the influence of two per­sons, one God, and the other a creature. Even if they allowed the pre existence of Christ, with Arians, the passages are inexplicable by Socinians; but, denying his pre.existence, they have no subterfuge but to interpret "the Spirit f Christ," the Spirit which prophesied of Christ, (New Version in loc.) which is a purely gratuitous paraphrase; or "the spirit of an anointed one, or prophet;" that is, the prophet's own spirit, which is just as gratuitous, and as unsupported by any parallel, as the former. If, however, the Holy Spirit be the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, united in one essence, the passages are easily harmon­ized. In conjunction with the Father and the Son, he is the source of that prophetic inspiration under which the prophets spoke and acted. So the same SPIRIT which raised Christ from the dead is said by St. Peter to have preached by Noah, while the ark was preparing, an allusion to the passage," My Spirit shall not always strive (contend, debate) with man." This, we may observe, affords an eminent proof, that the writers of the New Testament understood the phrase "the Spirit of God," as it occurs in the Old Testament, personally. For, whatever may be the full meaning of that difficult passage in St. Peter, Christ is clearly declared to have preached by the Spirit in the days of Noah; that is, he, by the Spirit, inspired Noah to preach. If, then, the apostles un­derstood that the Holy Ghost was a person, a point which will presently be established, we have, in the text just quoted from the book of Genesis, a key to the meaning of those texts in the Old Testament, where the phrases "My Spirit," "the Spirit of God," and "the Spirit of the Lord," occur; and inspired authority is thus afforded us to interpret them as of a person; and if of a person, the very effort made by Socinians to deny his personality, itself indicates that that person must, from the lofty titles and works ascribed to him, be inevitably Divine. Such phrases occur in many passages of the Hebrew Scriptures; but in the following the Spirit is also eminently distinguished from two other persons. "And now the LORD GOD and his SPIRIT hath sent ME." Isa. xlviii, 16; or, rendered better, " hath sent ME and his SPIRIT," both terms being in the accusative case. "Seek ye out of the book of the Lord, and read :- for my mouth it hath commanded, and HIS SPIRIT it hath gathered them," Isa. xxxiv, 16. "I am with you, saith the LORD OF HOSTS according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so MY SPIRIT remaineth among you: fear ye not. For thus saith the LORD OF HosTs,-I will shake all nations, and the DEsIRE OF ALL NATIONS shall come," Haggai ii, 4-7. Here, also, the SPIRIT of the Lord is seen collocated with the LORD OF HOSTS and the DESIRE OF ALL NATIONS, who is the Messiah. For other instances of the indication of a trinity of Divine persons in the Old Testament, see chap. 9.

Three persons, and three only, are associated also, both in the Old and New Testament, as objects of supreme worship; as the one name in which the religious act of solemn benediction is performed, and to which men are bound by solemn religious covenant.

In the plural form of the name of God, which has already been con­sidered, (chapter 9,) each received equal adoration. That threefold personality seems to have given rise to the standing form of triple bene­diction used by the Jewish high priest, also before mentioned, (chapter 9.) The very important fact, that, in the vision of Isaiah, chapter vi, the LORD OF HOSTS, who spake unto the prophet, is in Acts xxviii, 25, said to be the HOLY GHOST who spake to the prophet, while St. John declares that the glory which Isaiah saw was the glory of CHRIST, proves, indisputably, (chapter 9,) that each of the three persons bears this august appellation; it gives also the reason for the threefold repeti­tion "HOLY, HOLY, HOLY," and it exhibits the prophet and the very se­raphs in deep and awful adoration before the triune Lord of hosts. Both the prophet and the seraphim were, therefore, worshippers of the Holy Ghost and of the Son, at the very time and by the very acts in which they worshipped the Father, which proves that, as the three persons received equal homage in a case which does not admit of the evasion of pretended superior and inferior worship, they are equal in majesty, glory, and essence.

As in the tabernacle form of benediction, the triune Jehovah is recognized as the source of all grace and peace to his creatures; so in apostolic formula of blessing, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the COMMUNION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, be with you all. Amen."

Here the personality of the three is kept distinct, and the prayer to the three is, that Christians may have a common participation of the Holy Spirit, that is, doubtless, as he was promised by our Lord to his disciples, as a Comforter, as the source of light and spiritual life, as the author of regeneration. Thus the Spirit is acknowledged, equally with the Father and the Son, to be the source and the giver of the high. est spiritual blessings, while the solemn ministerial benediction is, from its specific character, to be regarded as an act of prayer to each of the three persons, and therefore is, at once, an acknowledgment of the Divinity and personality of each. The same remark applies to Rev. i, 4, 5, "Grace be unto you and peace from Him which was, and which is, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne," (an emblematical representation, in reference, probably, to the golden branch with its seven lamps,) "and from Jesus Christ." The style of the book sufficiently accounts for the Holy Spirit being called "the seven spirits;" but no created spirit or company of created spirits are ever spoken of under that appellation; and the place assigned to the seven spirits between the mention of the Father and the Son, indicates, with certainty, that one of the sacred three, so eminent, and so exclu­sively eminent in both dispensations, is intended.

The form of baptism next presents itself with demonstrative evidence on the two points before us, the personality and Divinity of the Holy Spirit. It is the form of COVENANT by which the sacred three become our ONE or ON, an we become HIS people. "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in THE NAME of the FATHER, and of the SON, and of the HOLY GHOST." In what manner is this text to be disposed of, if the personality of the Holy Ghost is denied? Is the form of baptism to be so understood as to imply that it is baptism in the name of one God, one creature, and one attribute? The grossness of this absurdity refutes it, and proves that here, at least, there can be no per­sonification. If all the three, therefore, are persons, are we to make Christian baptism a baptism in the name of one God and two creatures? This would be too near an approach to idolatry, or rather, it would be idolatry itself; for, considering baptism as an act of dedication to God, the acceptance of God as our God, on our part, and the renunciation of all other deities, and all other religions, what could a heathen convert conceive of the two creatures so distinguished from all other creatures in heaven and in earth, and so associated with God himself as to form together the one name, to which, by that act, he was devoted, and which he was henceforward to profess and honour, but that they were equally Divine, unless special care were taken to instruct him that but one of the three was God, and the two others but creatures? But of this care, of this cautionary instruction, though so obviously necessary upon this theory, no single instance can be given in all the writings of the apostles.

Baptism was not a new rite. It was used as a religious act among heathens, and especially before initiation into their mysteries. Proselytes to the law of Moses were, probably, received by baptism; whe­ther in, or into, the name of the God of Israel does not appear;[2] but necessarily on professing their faith in him as the true and only God. John, the forerunner of our Lord, baptized, but it does not appear that he baptized in the name or into the name of any one. This baptism was to all but our Lord, who needed it not, a baptism "unto repentance," that is, on profession of repentance, to be followed by "fruits meet for repentance," and into the expectation of the speedy approach of Messiah. But Christian baptism was directed to be in the NAME of three persons, which peculiarly implies, first, the form of words to be used by the administration; second, the authority conveyed to receive such per­sons as had been made disciples into the Church, and, consequently, into covenant with God; third, the faith required of the person bap­tized, faith in the existence of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and in their character according to the revelation made of each, first, by inspired teachers, and in after times by their writings; and, fourth, consecration to the service of the three persons, having one name, which could be no other than that of the one GOD. What stronger proof of the Divinity of each can be given than in this single passage? The form exhibits three persons, without any note of superiority or inferiority, except that of the mere order in which they are placed. It conveys authority in the united name, and the authority is, therefore, equal. It supposes faith, that is, not merely belief, but, as the object of religious profession and adherence, trust in each, or collectively in the one name which unites the three in one; yet that which is Divine only can be properly the object of religious truth. It implies devotion to the service of each, the yielding of obedience, the consecration of every power of mind and body to each, and therefore each must have an equal right to this sur­render and to the authority which it implies.

It has been objected, that baptism is, in the book of Acts, frequently mentioned as baptism "in the name of the Lord Jesus" simply, and from hence the Socinians would infer that the formula in the Gospel of St. Matthew was not in use. If this were so, it would only conclude against the use of the words of our Lord as the standing form of baptism, but would prove nothing against the significancy of baptism in whatever form it might be administered. For as this passage in St. Matthew was the original commission under which, alone, the apostles had authority to baptize at all, the import of the rite is marked out in it, and, whatever words they used in baptism, they were found to explain the import of the rite, as laid down by their Master, to all disciples so received. But, from the passages adduced from the Acts, the inference that the form of baptism given in Matthew was not rigorously followed by the apostles does not follow, "because the earliest Christian writers inform us, that this solemn form of expression was uniformly employed from the beginning of the Christian Church. It is true, indeed, that the Apostle Peter said to those who were converted on the day of pentecost, Acts ii. 38, 'Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ;' and that, in different places of the book of Acts it is said, that persons were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus; but there is inter­nal evidence from the New Testament itself, that when the historian says, that persons were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus, he means they were baptized according to the form prescribed by Jesus. Thus the question put, Acts xix, 3, 'Unto what then were ye baptized?' shows that he did not suppose it possible for any person who adminis­tered Christian baptism to omit the mention of 'the Holy Ghost;' and even after the question, the historian, when he informs us that the disci­ples were baptized, is not solicitous to repeat the whole form, but says in his usual manner, Acts xix, 5, 'when they heard this, they were baptized, in the name of the Lord Jesus.' There is another question put by the Apostle Paul, which shows us in what light he viewed the form of baptism: 1 Cor. i, 13, 'Were ye baptized in the name of Paul?' Here the question implies that he considered the form of baptism as so sacred, that the introducing the name of a teacher into it was the same thing as introducing a new master into the kingdom of Christ."

Ecclesiastical antiquity comes in, also, to establish the exact use of this form in baptism, as the practice from the days of the apostles. The most ancient method was for the persons to be baptized to say, "I be­lieve in God the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." This was his profession of faith, and with respect to the administration, Justin Martyr, who was born soon after the death of the Apostle John, says, in his first Apology, "Whosoever can be persuaded and believe that those things which are taught and asserted by us are true-are brought by us to a place where there is water, and regenerated according to the rite of re­generation, by which we ourselves have been born again. For then they are washed in the water, in the name of God the Father and Lord of all, and of our Saviour Jesus Christ, and of the Holy Ghost." This passage, I may observe by the way, shows that, in the primitive Church, men were not baptized in order to their being taught, but taught in order to their being baptized, and that, consequently, baptism was not a mere expression of willingness to be instructed, but a profession of faith, and a consecration to the trinity, after the course of instruction was completed. Tertullian also says, " the law of baptism is enjoined and the form prescribed, Go teach the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit." (Be Baptismo.)

The testimonies to this effect are abundant,[3] and, together with the form given by our Lord, they prove that every Christian in the first ages did, upon his very entrance into the Church of Christ, pro­fess his faith in the Divinity and personality of the Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father and the Son.

But other arguments are not wanting to prove both the personality and the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. With respect to the former,

1. The mode of his subsistence in the sacred trinity proves his per­sonality. He proceeds from the Father and the Son, and cannot, therefore, be either. To say that an attribute proceeds and comes forth would be a gross absurdity.

2. From so many Scriptures being wholly unintelligible and even absurd, unless the Holy Ghost is allowed to be a person. For as those who take the phrase as ascribing no more than a figurative personality to an attribute, make that attribute to be the energy or power of God, they reduce such passages as the following to utter unmeaningness:

"God anointed Jesus with the Holy Ghost and with power," that is, with the power of God and with power. "That ye may abound in hope through the power of time Holy Ghost," that is, through the power of power. "In demonstration of the Spirit and of power," that is, in demonstration of power and of power. And if it should be pleaded that the last passage is a Hebraism for "powerful demonstration of the Spirit," it makes the interpretation still more obviously absurd, for it would then be "the powerful demonstration of power." "It seemed good to the Holy Ghost," to the power of God, "and to us." "The Spirit and the bride say, Come,"-the power of God and the bride say, Come. Modern Unitarians, from Dr. Priestley to Mr. Beisham, ven­ture to find fault with the style of the apostles in some instances; and those penmen of the Holy Spirit have, indeed, a very unfortunate me­thod of expressing themselves for those who would make them the patrons of Socinianism; but they would more justly deserve the cen­sures of these judges of the "words which the Holy Ghost" taught, had they been really such writers as the Socinian scheme would make them, and of which the above are instances.

3. Personification of any kind is, in some passages in which the Holy Ghost is spoken of, impossible. The reality which this figure of speech is said to present to us is either some of the attributes of God, or else the doctrine of the Gospel. Let this theory, then, be tried upon the following passages :-" He shall not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he speak." What attribute of God can here be personified? And if the doctrine of the Gospel be arrayed with personal attributes, where is there an instance of so monstrous a proso­popaeia as this passage would present ?-the doctrine of time Gospel not speaking "of himself" but speaking "whatsoever he shall hear !"- "The Spirit maketh intercession for us." What attribute is capable of interceding, or how can the doctrine of the Gospel intercede? Personi­fication, too, is the language of poetry, and takes place naturally only in excited and elevated discourse; but if the Holy Spirit be a personification, we find it in the ordinary and cool strain of mere narration and argumentative discourse in the New Testament, and in the most incidental conversations. "Have ye received the Holy Ghost since ye believed? We have not so much as heard whether there be any Holy Ghost." How impossible is it here to extort, by any process whatever, even the shadow of a personification of either any attribute of God, or of the doctrine of the Gospel. So again, "The Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot." Could it be any attribute of God which said this, or could it be the doctrine of the Gospel?

It is in vain, then, to speak of the personification of wisdom in the book of Proverbs, and of charity in the writings of St. Paul; and if even instances of the personification of Divine attributes and of the doctrine of the Gospel could be found under this very term, the Holy Spirit, yet time above texts and numerous other passages being utterly incapable of being so resolved, would still teach the doctrine of a per­sonal Holy Ghost. The passage on which such interpreters chiefly rely as an instance of the personification of the doctrine of the Gospel is 2 Cor. iii, 6, "Who also bath made us able ministers of the New Testament, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life." To this Witsius well replies :- "Were we to grant that the Spirit, by a metonymy, denotes the doctrine of the Gospel; what is improperly ascribed there to the Gospel as an exemplary cause, is properly to be attributed to time person of the Holy Spirit, as the principal efficient cause. Thus also that which is elsewhere ascribed to the letter of the law is, by the same analogy, to be attributed to the person of the lawgiver. But it does not seem ne­cessary for us to make such a concession. Time apostle does not call the law 'the letter;' or the Gospel ' the Spirit;' but teaches that the letter is in the law, and the Spirit in the Gospel, so that they who minister to the law, minister to the letter; they who minister to the Gospel, to the Spirit. He calls that the letter, which is unable at first, and by itself, to convert a man; or to give a sinner the hope of life, much less to quicken him. By the Spirit, he understands both the person of the Spirit, and his quickening grace; which is clearly disclosed, and rendered efficacious, by means of the Gospel. In a preceding verse, the apostle undoubtedly distinguishes the Spirit from the doctrine, when he calls the Corinthians 'the epistle of Christ, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God.'" (Exposition of Creed.)

Finally, that the Holy Ghost is a person, and not an attribute, is proved by the use of masculine pronouns and relatives in the Greek of the New Testament, in connection with the neuter noun pneuma, Spirit; and by so many distinct personal acts being ascribed to him, as, to come, to go, to be sent, to teach, to guide, to comfort, to make intercession, to bear witness, to give gifts, "dividing them to every man as he WILL," to be vexed, grieved, and quenched. These cannot be applied to the mere fiction of a person, and they, therefore, establish the Spirit's true


Some additional arguments, to those before given to establish the DIVINITY of the Holy Ghost may also be adduced.

The first is taken from his being the subject of blasphemy-" the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men," Matt. xii, 31. This blasphemy consisted in ascribing his miraculous works to Satan; and that he is capable of being blasphemed proves him to be as much a person as the Son; and it proves him to be Divine, because it shows that he may be sinned against, and so sinned against, that the blasphemer shall not be forgiven. A person he must be, or he could not be blasphemed; a Divine person he must be to constitute this blasphemy a sin against him in the proper sense, and of so malignant a kind as to place it beyond the reach of mercy.

He is called GOD. "Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost? Why hast thou conceived this in thine heart? Thou hast not lied unto men; but unto God." Ananias is said to have lied, particularly "unto the Holy Ghost," because the apostles were under his special direction, in establishing the temporary regulation among Christians than they should have all things in common; the detection of the crime itself was a demonstration of the Divinity of the Spirit, because it showed his omniscience, his knowledge of the most secret acts. In addition to the proof of his Divinity thus afforded by this history, he is also called God, "Thou hast not lied unto men; but unto GoD." He is also called the LORD, "Now the Lord is that Spirit," 2 Cor. iii, 17. He is ETERNAL, "the eternal Spirit," Heb. ix, 14. OMNIPRESENCE is ascribed to him, "Your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost ;" "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God." Now, as all true Christians are his temples, and are led by him, lie must be present to them at all times and in all places. He is said to be OMNISCIENT, "The Spirit searcheth all things, even the deep timings of GOD." Here the Spirit is said to search or know "all things" absolutely; and then, to make this more emphatic, that he knows "the deep things of God," things hidden from every creature, the depths of his essence, and the secrets of his counsels; for, that this is intended, appears from the next verse, where he is said to know "the things of God," as the spirit of a man knows the things of a man. SUPREME MAJESTY is also attributed to him, so that "to lie to him," to "blas­pheme" him, "to vex" him, to do him "despite," are sins, and render the offender liable to Divine punishment.

He is the source of INSPIRATION. "Holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost." "He shall lead you into all truth." He is the source and fountain of LIFE. "It is the Spirit that quickeneth." "He that raised up Christ from the dead shall quicken your mortal bodies, by his Spirit that dwelleth in you." As we have seen him acting in the material creation, so he is the author of the NEW CREATION, which is as evidently a work of Divine power as the former:

"Born of the Spirit ;" "The renewing of the Holy Ghost." He is the author of religious COMFORT-" The Comforter." The moral attributes of God are also given to him. HOLINESS, which includes all in one :- the HOLY Ghost is his eminent designation. GOODNESS and GRACE are his attributes. "Thy Spirit is good." "The Spirit of grace." TRUTH also, for he is "the Spirit of truth."

How impracticable it is to interpret the phrase, "The Holy Ghost," as a periphrasis for God himself, has been proved in considering some of the above passages, and will be obvious from the slightest consider­ation of the texts. A Spirit, which is the Spirit OF GOD; which is so often distinguished FROM the Father: which "SEES" and "REARS" "the Father;" which SEARCHES "the deep things" of God; which is "SENT" by the Father; which "PROCEEDETH" from him; and who has special PRAYER addressed to him at the same time as the Father, cannot, though one with him," be the Father; and that he is not the Son, is acknow­ledged on both sides.

As a DIVINE PERSON, our regards are, therefore, justly due to him as the object of worship and trust, of prayer and blessing; duties to which we are specially called, both by the general consideration of his Divi­nity, and by that affectingly benevolent and attractive character under which he is presented to us in the whole Scriptures. In creation we see him moving upon the face of chaos, and reducing it to a beautiful order; in providence, "renewing the face of the earth," "garnishing the heavens," and "giving life" to man. In grace we behold him expanding the prophetic scene to the vision of the seers of the Old Testa­ment, and making a perfect revelation of the doctrine of Christ to the apostles of the New. He "reproves the world of sin," and works secret conviction of its evil and danger in the heart. He is "the Spirit of grace and supplication;" the softened heart, the yielding will, all heavenly desires and tendencies are from him, lie hastens to the troubled spirits of penitent men, who are led by his influence to Christ, and in whose hearts he has wroughtfaith, with the news of pardon, and "bears witness" of their sonship "with their Spirit." He aids their "infirmities;" makes "intercession for them;" inspires thoughts of consolation and feelings of peace; plants and perfects in them whatsoever things are pure, and lovely, and honest, and of good report; delights in his own work in the renewed heart; dwells in the soul as in a temple; and, after having rendered the spirit to God, without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing, sanctified and meet for heaven, finishes his benevolent and glorious work by raising the bodies of saints in immortal life at the last day. So powerfully does "the Spirit of glory and of God" claim our love, our praise, and our obedience! In the forms of the Churches of Christ; in all ages, he has, therefore, been associated with the Father and the Son, in equal glory and blessing; and where such forms are not in use, this distinct recognition of the Spirit, so much in danger of being neglected, ought, by ministers, to be most carefully and constantly made, in every gratulatory act of devotion, that so equally to each person of the eternal trinity glory may be given "in the Church throughout all ages. Amen."

The essential and fundamental character of the doctrine of the holy and undivided trinity has been already stated, and the more fully the evidences of the Divinity of the Son and the Spirit are educed from the sacred writings, the more deeply we shall be impressed with this view, and the more binding will be our obligation to "contend earnestly for" this part of " the faith which was once delivered unto the saints." Nor can the plea here be ever soundly urged, that this is a merely speculative doctrine; for, as it has been well observed by a learned writer, "The truth is, the doctrine of the trinity is so far from being merely a matter of speculation, that it is the very essence of the Christian religion, the foundation of the whole revelation, and connected with every part of it. All that is peculiar in this religion has relation to the redemption of Christ, and the sanctification of the Spirit. And whoso­ever is endeavouring to invalidate these articles is overthrowing or undermining the authority of this dispensation, and reducing it to a good moral system only, or treatise of ethics.

"If the Word, or Logos, who became incarnate, was a created being only, then the mystery of his incarnation, so much insisted on in Scrip­ture, and the love expressed to mankind thereby, so much magnified dwindle into an interested service; and a short life of sufferings, con­cluded, indeed, with a painful death, is rewarded with Divine honours, and a creature advanced thereby to the glory of the Creator; for the command is plain and express, that' all the angels of God' should 'worship him.' And have not many saints and martyrs undergone the same sufferings without the like glorious recompense? And is not the advantage to Christ himself, by his incarnation and passion, greater on this supposition, than to men, for whose sake the sacred writers represent this scheme of mercy undertaken?

"Again: if the motions of the Holy Spirit, so frequently spoken of, are only figurative expressions, and do not necessarily imply any real person who is the author of them, or if this person be only a created being, then we are deprived of all hopes of Divine assistance in our spiritual warfare; and have nothing but our own natural abilities wherewith to contend against the world, the flesh, and the devil. And is it not amazing that this article could ever be represented as a mere abstracted speculation, when our deliverance both from the penalty and power of sin does so plainly depend upon it? In the sacred writings a true faith is made as necessary as a right practice, and this in particular in order to that end. For Arianism, Socinianism, and all those several heresies, of what kind or title soever, which destroy the Divinity of the Son and Holy Ghost, are, indeed, no other than different schemes of infidelity; since the authority, end, and influence of the Gospel are as effectually made void by disowning the characters in which our Redeemer and Sanctifier are there represented, as even by contesting the evidences of its Divine original. These notions plainly rob those two Divine persons of their operations and attributes, and of the honour due to them; lessen the mercy and mystery of the scheme of our salvation; degrade our notion of ourselves and our fellow creatures; alter the nature of several duties, and weaken those great motives to the observance of all that true Christianity proposes to us." (Dodwell.)


[1] "The Father hath relation to the Son, as the Father of the Son; the Son to the Father, as the Son of the Father; and the Holy Ghost being the spirit, or breath of the Father and the Son, to both." (Lawson's Theo. Pol.) But though breath or wind is the radical signification of pneuma, as also of spiritus, yet, pro­bably from its sacredness, it is but rarely used in that sense in the New Testament.

[2] The baptism of Jewish proselytes is a disputed point. It was strenuously maintained by Dr. Lightfoot, and opposed by Dr. Benson. Wall has, however, made the practice highly probable, and it is spoken of in the Gospels as a rite with which the Jews were familiar. Certainly it was a practice among the Jews near the Christian era.

[3] Sec Wall's History of Infant Baptism and Bingham's Antiquities.