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Triumphs Of Truth: Chapter 2 PDF Print E-mail
Written by Wilson Thompson   

Men have sought out many inventions; and have written as though they could understand the very mode of God's existence! I must confess that I have felt sorry to see, and hear, men of grace, and piety, give such a loose to their conjectures on this important subject.

First they will tell us, that we cannot comprehend the mode of God's existence; and then, in the next breath, or page; go about to explain the very mode of His existence; by saying, there is but one divine essence, but in this essence, there exists three divine, distinct, and equal persons, each one truly and properly God. Now if God had revealed the mode of his existence to us, in this way, it would have been for us and our children; but as he has not, we know nothing about it.

If by essence, is meant nature; and by distinct, is meant separate; and by person, is meant individual; then according to this hypothesis, the divine nature is but one, but there are three separate individuals existing in that one nature; and each of these separate individuals, separately considered, is truly God; and yet, (though each one of the three is God, separately considered) there is but one God. If one text in the volume of revelation, could be found, to say this was God's mode of existence, I should feel bound to believe it; whether I could comprehend it or not. But as I never have been able to find anything in the scriptures, about these distinct divine persons, I must leave it only accounted for, in the same way, that I account for the popes place of pergation. All a phantom of the brain, a tradition of anti-christian origin; which ought to be expunged from every religious creed. If God be one in nature, or essence; and three in person, it argues a plurality of Gods, as conclusively as three distinct individuals of the human essence, or nature, would argue a plurality of men. All men are one in essence, or nature, but many in persons; so that saying God exists in unity of essence, no more proves the unity of God; than saying the human race exists in one essence, or nature, would prove the notorious absurdity, that there is but one man, because but one in nature, or essence. If the unity of God be only in the divine essence or nature, and in this essence, there are three distinct, or separate persons; then in the human essence, there is the very same kind of unity, but many distinct human persons in that essence. Now if every separate, or distinct person, of the human essence, be a man, I cannot see why every separate, or distinct person in the divine nature, is not a god.

In a former treatise which I published, I hinted, that the tri-personal scheme, was of Anti-christian origin and some of my readers, thought this was rather harsh, and unfriendly. I will here introduce some evidence, on which I predicated that intimation. I believe all Protestants agree, that when the Church of Rome was established by law, it was no longer a gospel church, but immediately became an anti-christian body. This I presume will be acceded to by every Baptist, and if so, my point is easily proven; for in that body, thus established, the idea of three distinct persons in the Godhead was introduced. I will refer the reader to the two creeds, formed in that body; the one called the Nicene Creed, the other the Athanasian Creed. The council of Nice appears to have been called by the Emperor Constantine the Great; by the advice, and at the request of Alexander, bishop of Alexandria. The council consisted of all the bishops in Asia, Africa, and Europe, who met together in his palace at Nice, a city of Bethania. The intention of this council was to evince and condemn from the authority of the Holy Scriptures, the heresy of Arius, a presbyter of Alexandria, who denied the divinity of Jesus Christ. This council was convened some time from A.D. 318, to that of 325. That the members of this council agreed in this determination, that three divine persons: Father, Son, and Holy Ghost have existed from eternity will appear plainly from the two creeds above mentioned. On this point the Nicene Creed reads as follows: "I believe in one God, the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth; and in one Lord Jesus Christ, the only begotten Son of God, begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, of one substance with the Father, who come down from heaven, and was incarnate by the Holy Ghost, of the virgin Mary; and I believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and giver of life, who

proceedeth from the Father to the Son, who with the Father and the Son together is worshipped and glorified." In the Athanasian creed it is said: "This is the catholic faith, that we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity, neither confounding the persons, nor dividing the substance; for there is one person of the Father; another of the Son, and

another of the Holy Ghost. But whereas we are compelled by the christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord, so we are forbidden by the Catholic religion to say there be three God's or three Lords." Now if the divinity of the blessed Jesus be the second divine person in the Trinity, and this divine person was begotten of the Father before all worlds, God of God, than the divinity of the incarnate God was a derived divinity; derived, or begotten of the Father. This is too degrading to my Saviour! What, him who is Immanuel, God with us; he who is the Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, begotten! He who is the Lord God of the holy prophets, begotten! He who is called the mighty God, The everlasting Father, begotten! This I cannot admit, for if my God and Saviour is only a begotten or derived divinity, how shall I trust in him?

The Rev. J. Clowes M.A., in a letter on the doctrine of the divine Trinity, addressed to the Editors of the Christian Observer, p. 13, says, "You know as well as I can tell you, that the primitive christians, from the time of the apostles down to the Council of Nice, during the three first centuries, did not maintain the doctrine of the Trinity under any such idea of tri-personality, and that some of the Greek fathers were offended at the Latin church for adopting it. Thus Gregory Nazianzen on this subject, has the following words: "The Latin's held the doctrine of the Trinity as we do; but through the poverty of their language, and not rightly distinguishing between the Greek hypostasis and essence, they adopted the persons, lest they should seem to hold three substances in the Godhead." The same author, p.14, says, "You know yet further [or ought to know] that at a general meeting of the vice Chancellor and the Heads of Colleges and halls of the University of Oxford, on Nov. 25, 1695, they judged and decreed the position of the realists, [so called from holding the term person according to its literal and common acceptation] to be false, impious, and heretical, contrary to the doctrine of the church, and especially of the Church of England, and that the Nominals [so called to distinguish them from the Realists] were more correct, who denied the existence of three real persons, among whom were Dr. South, Dr. Walls, Mr. Hooker & many other of great note." Benedict says, P. 23, Vol. 1, "The first general council was held at Nice, in Bythinia," he dates it in 325, and says, "The deputies of the church universal were summoned by the Emperor Constantine, to put an end to the Arian controversy, which then began to rage extensively." He says at this council, that upwards of three hundred Bishops were assembled, and continued in session about a year. From all that I can find on this subject it appears, that some time from the year of our Lord 318 to 325, all the Bishops in the established church of Rome, were called together by Constantine the Great, in order to consult the most effectual method to destroy the Arian heresy from the earth, and for this purpose formed the above mentioned creeds; and then made use of them, as a criterion to try heretics by. However abominable the heresy of Arius might have been, this creed seems to have persecution for its object, the Bishops of Rome for its authors, and the council of Nice for its birth place; for I think no man can show that three distinct divine persons in the Godhead, was ever maintained till about this time. So I still contend that the tri-personal scheme is of anti-christian origin.

It is thought by some, that if we deny the tri-personality of the Trinity, we must be Arians, but I shall now clearly show, that while I reject the tri-personality of the Trinity, I differ three times as much from Arius, as those do who contend for the three distinct divine persons in the Godhead. Arius held that Jesus was the first formed of all creatures, of a super-angelic nature, and a God by delegation. See Elly's contrast page 264. The tri-personal scheme holds that Jesus is a divine person, distinct from the Father and begotten of him; [see the above creeds] the one holds that Jesus was God by delegation, the other holds that he was God by derivation or being begotten of the Father; while I hold Jesus to be exclusively God, without delegation, derivation, or filiation, for he does not derive his divinity from his filiation or sonship, but is independently, and exclusively God.

Or in other words, they hold that there are three distinct persons in the Godhead, and that the divinity of Jesus is the second one of these persons distinct from the other two, and was begotten of the Father, while I believe that Jesus in his divine nature, was the everlasting Father, the quickening Spirit, and the Word, or that the whole Trinity was in him as his proper, and underived, and unbegotten divinity. Now if three equal persons be three times as much as one of those equals, then on their own plan of reasoning, I hold the divinity of Jesus, to be just three times what they do; that is they hold that in the Godhead there are three distinct equal persons; and that Jesus is one of them, while I hold that Jesus in his divine nature is all three of these equals. They hold that Jesus as a divine person was begotten, by what they call eternal generation; while I hold his divinity to be the whole God to the exclusion of all distinct persons, unbegotten, underived, independent of delegation, or filiation. Now let men or angels, Trinitarians, or Unitarians, Arians or Socinians judge, who is the nearest Arianism, he that holds Jesus to be begotten in his divinity --- or divine person, and of course eternally derived of the Father or he who holds him to be unbegotten, underived by an eternal begetting, or any other kind of generation, but that he is independently God from everlasting to everlasting, the first to the exclusion of all divine persons before him, the last to the exclusion of divine persons proceeding from him. The filiation of Christ is in his human nature and not in his divine nature, yet many works only proper to his divine nature are attributed to him as Son, because performed by him in the human nature, and many of them designed to demonstrate his true Messiah-ship, or that he was the Son of God.

Is the Father, the first person in the Trinity? Jesus is the Father. "His name shall be called the everlasting Father." Christ said, "I and my Father are one." -"He that has seen me hath seen the Father."

Is the Word, the second person in the Trinity? Jesus is the Word; for "the Word was made flesh" &c.

Is the Spirit, the third person in the Trinity? Jesus is the Spirit; for "the second man was made a quickening spirit."

Now if these three are persons they are all three in Christ, and so the whole Trinity of Father, Word, and Holy Ghost is in Jesus, and if these three be one God, Jesus is that God, for he is the "Lord God of the Holy Prophets." So we see, take it any way; Jesus is the whole Triune God, to the exclusion of all distinct persons. Now leaving out the terms distinct persons, as the scripture does, and the above scriptures pointedly prove without inference, comment, or even implication, but in positive language that Jesus is the everlasting Father, the Word, and the Spirit. As these three are one so Jesus is the Lord God of the holy prophets; then my point is proved by positive scripture language, without inference. Three distinct, divine, equal persons in the unity of the divine essence, never was, nor never will be proven by the same class of testimony until we get new scriptures.

When we take the book of revelation for our guide, how easy, how plain to the child of grace. He believes in a God that is manifest in the flesh, he rejoices to view him in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, and worships the revealed God of the Bible; while many doctors, sages, and priests, are spending years in learned questions and criticisms, in order to find three distinct divine persons in the Godhead; but after all their labor and toil, what is produced? What advantage does the church derive? What profit does posterity receive on this point? Nothing but to be told that the mystery is so great that men cannot know it. What is this mystery? Lo, it is three distinct divine persons, each one truly and properly God, and yet but one God. This indeed is a mystery, and no doubt will be, for God has not revealed it, but what he has revealed, is not designed to puzzle his people, but to instruct them. "Whatsoever was written aforetime was written for our learning, that we through patience, and comfort of the scriptures, might have hope." The christian humble enough to take the scriptures, for his only guide, can set in his cottage, or tent door, with his Bible in his hand, and its consoling doctrine in his heart; and behold the glory of God in the face of Jesus; he rejoices in the hope of the glory of God, and puts no confidence in the flesh, and feels none of the entanglements, of the tri-personal mystery, but beholds God in Christ reconciled to his soul, and feeding him with the word of reconciliation. O my God, let this lot be mine! Every error that has been introduced into the church, has been supported by inference, and implication. If the Baptists had never departed from plain scripture, but had been consistent with themselves, and in all other matters of faith and practice, stood on the word of God, and not have moved, without positive scripture, as they have in the case of Baptism, they would this day, be as pure a church in doctrine, as they were in the apostolic age and not divided, and subdivided as they are at present. O Christian brethren, let us return to the good old way, and manifest as great zeal for the doctrine of God our Saviour, as for any ordinance of his house. Whatever may have been our former relaxed state, let us now rally to the standard of the Word of God, and believe nothing in religion without positive scripture; then we shall show that we are christians indeed.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 September 2006 )
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