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quired by Philip, shortly before his crucifixion, “Lord, shew us the Father,” his plain and pointed reproof was conveyed in these words, “Have I been so long with thee, and hast thou not known me, Philip? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou, shew us the Father !"
Thus almost every chapter throughout the Gospel would furnish evidence to prove that our Lord's existence in this world was not independent of the Father; and that though termed " Son," it was in accommodation and adaptation to our faculties. For it would appear that the “Father" is the inmost essential divinity, the source and essence of all things; the “Son” the approachable manifestation of the invisible and infinite God, by and through which he is pleased to act and to govern all creation,-perfectly distinct essential principles, though one and the same divine being, as soul and body are one man. So our Saviour is called Immanuel, “God with us,” and declares that he came to manifest forth to man the invisible God (John, chap. 1, ver. 18), (for so egnynoato would be better rendered). “My Father dwelleth within me.” 6 The Father that dwelleth within me, he doeth the works.” To this view, too, the apostles give a plain and concurrent testimony: “ God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself.” “ He is the image of the invisible God.” “God manifest in the flesh.” “In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” And thus “He is the true God,” “God over all, blessed for ever more," " The only wise God our Saviour.”
But to proceed to the more immediate subject of this argumentthe distinct personality of the Holy Ghost. Though, if it be proved, as I trust it is, that Jesus Christ cannot be a personal being distinct from the Father, inasmuch as he is himself “the mighty God, the everlasting Father," the great Jehovah manifest in the flesh for the salvation of his creatures, every argument for the separate existence of what is commonly termed the Third Person in the Trinity, must of necessity fall to the ground. But that we may not leave any possible reason for doubt, let us examine the question solely on its own foundation.
Here the principal, and indeed the only strength of the Tripersonalist consists in the ascription of the personal pronoun, as well as personal properties, to the Spirit of God, by the Lord himself, and by his Holy Scriptures; and he says that those who differ from him are obliged to have recourse to some figure of speech, such as prosopopæia or metonymy, to explain such passages, of which he has in some instances attempted to expose the absurdity. But let us not rest on the
of men. Theseneth, is troubleain
And yet who
surface of things. Would we fairly examine the Word of God we should find personal properties, fully as strong, ascribed to the spirits of men. These are common expressions, that the spirit of man “cometh, returneth, is troubled, overwhelmed, faileth, rejoiceth, willeth, searcheth, and even prayeth.” And yet who ever thought of giving his spirit a personal existence, separate from the man himself ? We besides see all the attributes of Deity, his Justice, Judgement, Mercy, Righteousness, and Truth, with many more, constantly personified in the sacred writings; but it were folly to say, they are all separate persons. Nor can it have escaped the attention of any reader how frequently, in the strong and highly figurative language of scripture, personal attributes, and even the personal pronoun, are predicated of things inanimate, as well as the qualities of the mind. Let then the Tripersonalist beware how he taunts his opponents with absurdity, in applying the use of figures to the interpretation of the Word, lest his sneers should perchance miss their aim, and fall on the language of the Most High himself. .
The term Holy Ghost appears to have contributed not a little to the support of the Tripersonal doctrine, though the translators of the New Testament seem to have themselves shown its utter inapplicability, by rendering the same word sometimes “ghost,” and at others “spirit;" for they must have seen that “Ghost of Truth” would have been ridiculous. Now “ghost,” whatever it may have originally signified, does not, we may be allowed to say, carry with it a very proper idea of divinity, and it might have been better had the term never been used; the inconsistency would then have been avoided of translating the same word differently in one chapter, and even in one sentence, as has been done: and all will allow that uniformity in the rendering of Scripture words and phrases is in the highest degree desirable.
But perhaps the word in the original Greek translated “ghost," may give us some intimation of the proper meaning of what has been called the third Person in the Trinity. Tvevua is a neuter noun, and invariably, we believe, joined with the neuter adjective and participle; and more than once where we meet with the personal pronoun “he," as applied to this word in our translation, the neuter pronoun, TO, " it,” is used in the original. The primary signification of avevua is breath, or breathing, which is the sign or evidence of natural life and activity, and it is a general expression applied equally to God, to man, and to the great moving power in nature, air or wind. Spirit, in our language exactly answers to the original, being derived from the N. $. No. 35.-VOL. 3.
Latin word, “spiro,” to breathe ; but ghost is too confined in its signification. Is it then antecedently probable that God, in his Word, would have made use of this indefinite term to denote a separate and personal being? Does is not appear, on the contrary, far more reasonable, that, in the meaning and expressive language of Scripture, “his holy spirit,” was intended to convey the idea of his own divine life and energy operating on, and influencing the mind of man? . In conformity with this view, we find that our Lord promises to his disciples “ a Comforter,—even the Spirit of Truth,” to abide with them for ever. This Holy Spirit should guide them into all truth, and shew them things to come; but not of itself should it speak, but whatsoever it should receive from the Father and the Son. And why? Evidently because proceeding forth from the Almighty God, and hav. ing no independent existenee, it could shew nothing but the things of God. And to make it more plain that it was he himself who was coming to them in spirit, our Saviour adds to this his promise, “I will not leave you comfortless, I will come unto you.”
But were there no other argument in favour of this, there are many passages, which, if there be any meaning in language, are so wholly irreconcilable with the popular doctrine of the distinct personality of the Holy Spirit, that they must alone be more than sufficient to disprove it, to any man who will use his reason on the subject. We will mention only a few for the sake of brevity. “ The Holy Spirit was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified.” To say nothing of the perfect no-meaning which the expression, “a person given,” must convey to the mind, since the word “given ” is an acknowledged interpolation, how can the tri-personalist account for there being no Holy Spirit till after our Lord's glorification? What then becomes of the eternal trinity of persons ? Must it not be plain, that “the Holy Spirit which was not yet,” is the full and perfect life-giving energy for the redemption of mankind, which proceeds from the entire union of the divine with the human nature in heaven,---for this was our Lord's glorification ? So he himself declares, “ It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart I will send him unto you.” (It may be here remarked, that though the frequent use of the word “sending,” in reference to the Son and the Spirit, appears to favour the idea of a tripersonal God, as it seems to imply a separate identity in the sender and the sent,—this cannot be brought forward in legitimate argument, inasmuch, as it is impossible to predicate motion or progression of an Infinite and Omnipresent Deity; and it must be used, with the like
expressions of " coming” and “descending," and the still more materials terms of “wrath and anger,” “hands and feet,” and other “parts and passions," when spoken of the Almighty, in accommodation to our weak and finite powers and faculties. And when these are gone, there is little indeed for the advocates of this doctrine to rest on!)
Again, one of the last acts of our Lord before his Ascension, “And He breathed on his disciples and said : Receive ye the Holy Spirit,” is altogether inconsistent with the supposition of this spirit's having a separate personality ; yet how beautiful and expressive an act for imparting to them His own Divine Spirit and Power before He left them. So in desiring them to wait in Jerusalem for the fuller manifestation of the Holy Spirit, He says, “ Tarry, till ye be endued with Power from on High;" plainly indicating the nature of the spirit they were to receive, and that it could have no personal existence. And, accordingly, on the day of Pentecost, when it was fully revealed, we find, not a divine person come to comfort and instruct them, but the divine influence and power imparted from God, working in, and by them, most astonishing effects in the natural world, and among men.
And, lastly, though our Saviour himself expressly enjoined his apostles,-“Go ye into all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit,” we see that in every instance where this sacred rite is mentioned, they baptized their converts solely into the name of Jesus. Will they tell us that in the person of Jesus Christ were comprehended the three Persons of the Trinity ? Surely they will not offer such a gross insult to our common sense! For, even if it be admitted possible that three persons may make up one Godhead, it would be the very extreme of unmeaning absurdity to affirm, that three persons can be one person ! Did then the apostles neglect their Master's last positive injunction ? No! they could not! And the only alternative is, that in the person of our Saviour Christ“ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” In him are comprehended the three essentials of the Divine Trinity,—the inmost Divinity, the Divine Humanity, or manifestation to angels and men, and the operative life and energy thence proceeding, -answering to the soul, the body, and the active spirit in man; for He is declared, by more than human authority, to be “ God manifest in the flesh,”— “the only wise God, our Saviour.”
To him, then, “ let' every knee be bowed,” as the only God of heaven and earth, who in his infinite love for man has created and sustained all things living; and by “taking our nature upon him," has brought himself nearer to his fallen creatures, after they had de.. parted from him, and has thus saved and redeemed us from the power of sin and of Satan. Then may we expect, when this acknowledgment becomes general in the world, that blessed consummation of all prophecy, when “there shall be but one fold under one Shepherd ;" for “in that day there shall be one Lord, and his name One.”
THE BISHOP OF CHESTER_HON. AND REV. A. P.
wwwwww It is not our intention to make any remark upon the following extracts, further than that they will be found to be highly important, and deeply interesting to every member of the New Church.
The first extract is taken from a recent Charge by the Bishop of Chester, advocating the doctrine of Justification by faith alone.
The second extract is taken from a Letter to the Bishop of Chester, by Mr. Percival, in refutation of his lordship.
The third extract is taken from the last number of the British Critic.
The first extract from the Charge of the Bishop of Chester, is as follows :
“And here it is impossible not to, remark upon the subtle wiles of that adversary, against whom the Church of Christ is set up, and whose power it is destined to overthrow. His activity is in exact proportion to the activity which is used against him; his vigilance never fails to seize the opportunities which the weakness of man too frequently supplies. No sooner is good seed sown in the field, than tares are found springing up amidst the wheat. Such has been the case throughout the whole history of the Church; and it has been signally and unexpectedly exemplified in the present day, by the favour shewn to notions which might seem inconsistent with the advancement of reason, [and] by the revival of errors which might have been supposed to be buried for ever.
“ To enter upon this subject generally or fully, would be quite incompatible with the limits of a Charge; and to treat it cursorily, would not be respectful to my brethren. I shall confine myself to a brief review of two points, in which the interests committed to us are specially concerned.
“1. The principle by which, in all ages and countries, the power