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The text perfectly accords with these memorable words, in our excellent shorter catechism, “ There is but one only, the living and true God; and there are three Persons in the Godhead, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance, equal in power and glory.”
With this explanation of the passage in debate, we may proceed to show,
II. Its actual agreement with the Holy Seriptures in general. If it could be made to appear that the text in view obviously disagrees with the established doctrines of divine revelation, it would be a more conclusive evidence of its spuriousness, than any arguments which have ever been advanced by its opposers.
Its obvious disagreement with their peculiar sentiments, is, unquestionably, the grand reason of the general and pointed war which they have waged with it, through modern ages. be clearly shown that the text in question, strictly accords with the doctrines of the Bible, it will be a strong presumptive evidence of its inspiration. To establish this point, will now be attempted.
1. Is it said, in this passage, that there are three in heaven, called “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost ?? This is manifestly the doctrine of the Scriptures at large. In the Old Testament, JEHOVAH expressly speaks of himself in the plural number. Gen. 1. 26. “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” Chap. 3. 22.* “ And the Lord God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us.” At the erection of the tower of Babel, “ The Lord said,” in Gen. 11. 7, “ Let us go down and there confound their language.” It is also stated by Isa. 6. 8. “I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “ Whom shall I send, and who will go for us." Notwithstanding all the eyasive explanations of Anti-Trinitarian writers,
If it can
these passages of holy writ, are expressed in a very singular phraseology, if God is, in no respect, more than one person. In particular that remarkable expression, “ the man is become as one of us." There is no other way of evading its force, but by supposing that the infinite God, in this case, associates the angels with himself: But, it would be infinitely beneath the dignity of the Lord of Hosts, to associate with himself the most exalted of created beings, in so important a consultation as that which concerned the creation of man. It may truly be said in relation to that event, “ Who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor ?"
If there are three Persons in one Godhead, the passages which have been quoted above, are phrased in a very proper manner ; but if the case is otherwise, they are framed in very strange and inadmissible language. The very names of the Father, Son, and Spirit, are certainly given to these divine persons, in the Old Testament Scriptures. Concerning God, it is said in Jer. 31. 9, “I am a Father to Israel ;” and in Mal. 11. 10, “ Have we not all one Father? hath not one God created us?” There is one mentioned in the second Psalm, to whom it is said, in the 7th verse, “ Thou art my son.” To convince us that he possesses divine perfections as well as the Father, it is said to mankind in the close of that Psalm, “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little.” It is then added, “Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.” Seeing, that we are strictly forbidden, to trust in any being in heaven or on earth but God, this command from on high, establishes the
proper and eternal Deity of that glorious Person who is emphatically called the Son.
With regard to him, who is denominated in the text, the Holy Ghost, which is but another name for Spirit, much is said in the Old Testament. In the 51st Psalm David saith unto God, "Take not thy Holy Spirit from me.”
We read also, in Isa. 63. 10, “ That Israel rebelled, and vexed God's Holy Spirit.” The personality and eternal Deity of the Spirit, might be easily proved from the writings of Moses and the prophets; but the present object is, simply to show, that the Jewish Scriptures agree exactly with the writer of 1 John, 5. 7, respecting the three who are in heaven, and the very names which they bear. I am not under the necessity, of proceeding any further, in discussing this particular point in the general subject.
The three who bear record in heaven, with their appropriate names, are repeatedly and expressly mentioned in the New Testament. The Apostles were solemnly commissioned to baptize the christian converts in the name of each Person in the Divine essence. The phraseology of their commission has a strict accordance with the very words of the text in question. The express words now referred to, are these, “Go ye—and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” It cannot be doubted, that the Father is largely spoken of in the Scriptures--that he is in heaven, and is truly God; and so far, 1 John 5. 7, certainly agrees with the Bible in general. “ The Son," who is called the “ Word,” in our text, is also called by that name, in several other places of the divine oracles. It is said, in the first chapter of John, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same, was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life and the life was the light of men. This account exactly agrees with the statement of Moses, respecting the creation of all things; and the apostle John, evidently alludes
to that portion of the sacred history. Moses writes, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth ;"> and the apostle says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” This apostolical assertion clearly explains the meaning of Moses, in saying, “ And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness ;” and, “ the man is become as one of us."
The Word, is one of the names of the second Person, in the eternal and ever blessed Trinity. As St. John states, he was in the beginning with God, and was God." That this glorious Word became personally united to the man Christ Jesus, appears with great clearness, from John 1. 14. " And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld his glory.” In 1 John 5. 7, it is said, that this mysterious Word is now bearing record in heaven, with the Father. That this Word is a Person, and not merely a perfection or energy of the Deity, very fully appears from Rev. 19. In that portion of Scripture, the writer says, “I saw heaven opened, and hehold, a white horse ; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness doth he judge and make war.
His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself. And he was clothed in a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called, The Word of God.” In a subsequent verse of this chapter, it is added, " And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS AND LORD OF LORDS."
The above description can apply to no other being but the Almighty. The Word, therefore, was God, is now God, and will be God forever. In respect to the Father and Word, 1 John 5. 7, agrees perfectly with the Scrip
tures in general. We must likewise view the Holy Ghost to be a person, bearing record in heaven, as we are baptized in his name, and by a divine command, as well as in the names of the Father, and of the Son. These three are also distinctly mentioned in that inspired benediction, “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” The point under consideration, is, I think, fally evinced.
2. Is it said, in our text, that “the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, bear record in heaven?” This is in perfect harmony with the general testimony of the Holy Scriptures.
The grand truths, to which these divine Persons bear record, are, the Deity of the Son-his atonement, and the great salvation which results from these, to believers. The record of the Father, in respect to these things, is expressly mentioned in Math. 3. 16, 17. After the baptism of Jesus, we read, “ And lo, the heavens were opened unto him: and lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Another testimony of the Father, in respect to the Son, is recorded in Math. 17. The solemn scene was displayed on the mount; and while Christ was transfigured, and Moses and Elijah appeared, the evangelist states, that a bright cloud overshadowed them : and behold, a voice out of the cloud which said, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased: hear ye him.” We find another express witness of this nature, mentioned in John 12. 28. When Jesus was about being delivered up into the hands of his enemies, he said, “Father, glorify thy name.
Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have glorified it, and will glorify it again.”
That the Word bears record in heaven, with the Father, appears from Acts 7. 56. In that passage, the dying Ste