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while, as a preliminary step, I state the case at issue between ourselves and that class of persons designated Unitarians.
The TriniTARIAN Faith concerning the Holy Ghost is given in our fifth article with so much plainness, so much precision, so much Scriptural fidelity, that it would be difficult to find words, conveying a more clear or comprehensive statement. The first article having laid down the fundamental truth of the UNITY IN TRINITY_“ There
but one living and true God;...... and in unity of this Godhead there be three Persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost” — the fifth proceeds with reference to the subject before us, “The Holy Ghost, PROCEEDING FROM THE FATHER AND THE Son, IS OF ONE SUBSTANCE, MAJESTY, AND GLORY, WITH FATHER AND THE SON, VERY AND ETERNAL God.” Here we openly and honestly declare our belief in the Deity of the Holy Ghost—" He is very and eternal God:” and we as openly and honestly declare our belief in his PERSONALITY—“proceeding from the Father and the Son”–distinct in person, but undivided in substance, -“ of one substance, majesty and glory."
Such is our faith. We believe the Holy Ghost to be God, a Divine Person, one of the subsistents in the incomprehensible and ever-blessed Trinity, in every respect equal to the Father and to the Son; “for that which we believe of the glory of the Father, the same we believe of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, without any difference or inequality."* This is the doctrine our Prayer Book teaches; and this doctrine we are prepared to defend by unanswerable arguments from the Holy Scriptures.
* Communion Service.--Preface for Trinity Sundar.
On this, as on most other points, UNITARIANS are utterly at variance with us; but from the absence of any thing admitted to be an authorized and accredited formulary, it is not easy to state with confidence the precise nature of their faith.
A process, however, by which we may arrive at something like correctness, is suggested by that enactment of the Mosaic law—“ In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established.”* If the testimony of two or three of their theologians respecting the Holy Ghost agrees, the conclusion will not have been rashly formed, that such are the sentiments of Unitarians generally.
The first testimony I shall adduce is that of Dr. Priestley. He writes—“ There is very little in the Scriptures that could give any idea of the distinct personality of the Holy Spirit, besides the figurative language in which our Lord speaks of the Advocate, or Comforter, as we render it, (Trapakantos) that was to succeed him with the Apostles after his ascension. But our Lord's language is upon many occasions highly figurative; and it is the less extraordinary, that the figure called personification should be made use of by him here, as the peculiar presence of the Spirit of God, which was to be evidenced by the power of working miracles, was to succeed in the place of a real person, viz, himself; and to be to them what he himself had been, viz. their Advocate, Comforter, and Guide. That the Apostles did not understand our Lord as speaking of a real person, at least afterwards when they reflected on his meaning, and saw the fulfilment of his promise, is evident from their never adopting the same language, but speaking of the Spirit as of divine power only.”+
* Deut. xix. 15; 2 Cor. xiii. 1. † An History of the Corruptions of Christianity, by Joseph Priestley, LL.D. F.R.S. Vol. I, sec. vii. p. 38.
The next witness I shall call is Mr. Lindsey. In a note on the 28th of St. Matthew's Gospel he says“The Apostle John characterizes the Spirit, or Holy Spirit, which Christ promised to his followers, as a divine person that should be with them, plead for them, and direct them, (xiv. 16, 17, 26; xvi. 7, 13, 14,) when it was nothing but the gifts of a divine power, or wisdom, which he speaks of and personifies."*
The statements of these two witnesses are in such obvious agreement that it will be superfluous to produce a third. It is sufficiently clear that the light in which they regard the Holy Spirit is that of a power or influence emanating from God, and exerted by God.
The QUESTION, therefore, for decision is simply this—Whether the Holy Ghost be, as we maintain, VERY AND ETERNAL GOD, a PERSON, subsisting with the ETERNAL FATHER, and the ETERNAL Son, in the UNITY of the GODHEAD; or—whether the Holy Ghost be, as Unitarians maintain, nothing more than God's power, or influence.
And how is this question to be determined ?-By the Word of God, and by the Word of God alone. By the Word of God we shall stand or fall in the day of the Lord Jesus Christ ;-God's Word will be the rule of judgment then: and, as we value our souls, let God's Word be the rule of our faith now. I cannot, as a Minister (though unworthy) of the Church of England, appeal to any other authority than the authority of Scripture.t As a servant of the Lord Jesus Christ, charged “to preach the Word,”I I dare not refer this matter to any other arbitration than that of the Inspired Volume. “To the law and to the testimony, if they
* Second Address to the Students of Oxford and Cambridge, p. 17.
2 Tim. iv, 2.
speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them."*
One of the writers from whom I have just quoted affects to treat arguments from Scripture with an indifference bordering on contempt. Dr. Priestley, t in one of his controversial letters, writes—“You repeat, indeed, some hackneyed arguments from the Scriptures; but you know that I consider all arguments of that kind as sufficiently exhausted on both sides, and, therefore, have chosen a new field of argument.”| This is, indeed, a very summary way of silencing the only witness whose testimony can bring the question to a definitive decision; but it betrays a weak cause, as well as advances an unsound principle. That Scripture is capable of being misquoted, misapplied, and wrested in support of error, we are compelled by too many painful instances to admit: but are we therefore to give up the appeal to it, and have recourse to some other authority? We have not so learnt Christ. He did not, in the hour of sharp temptation, abandon the Word of God, because Satan himself dared to appeal to Scripture, and say, “ It is written." He did not leave the living oracles for Pharisaic traditions and philosophical disputations. No! He only held the sword of the Spirit with a firmer grasp,—“Get thee hence, Satan.” “It is written again.” ||
Instructed by an example so eminent, and mindful that we are about to discuss a subject, which will maintain its infinite and everlasting importance, when this world's wisdom shall have become like the withered grass and faded flower, we refer this question to that Word of God which liveth and abideth for ever. It will, therefore, be my duty and my endeavour, not so
* Isaiah, viii. 20. Pritsley's Letters to the Rev. John Hawkins.
† Priestley, in text
Isaiah xl. 8
much to search for novel arguments, as to stand in the ways, and see, and ask for the old paths, where is the good way, that we may walk therein, and find rest for our souls. *
I design to treat the three divisions of the subject in the order already laid down.
I. PROVE THE Deity.
May that High and Holy One, of whom we are about to speak, and without whom nothing is strong, nothing is holy, guide us into all truth, that our “faith may not stand in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”+
1. It has been said by some who deny the Deity of the Holy Ghost, that the Scripture nowhere declares that the Holy Ghost is God. If by this is meant that the precise words “the Holy Ghost is God” are not in the Bible, we admit it: but we contend that the Bible contains statements equivalent, and more than equivalent, to these words. The words “ The Father is God," are not to be found in the Sacred Volume, but enough is said in other words to prove Him to be so. And in like manner, I shall show that enough is said concerning the Holy Ghost to prove Him to be one of the Persons of the ever-blessed Godhead.
Let us consider what method the Bible adopts for making known the Supreme Being. Does it instruct us by mere assertions ?-does it lay down certain abstract propositions concerning the essence and subsistence of the Great Jehovah ?-does it not rather lead us to an