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Written by Wilson Thompson   

The Triumph of Truth.

Truth, in all ages of the world has been unpopular, but probably never more so, than in the present age; and in no part of the world more so, than in America. I cannot therefore flatter myself, with the pleasing hope of gaining much applause from the public voice of my readers, nor do I aim to court the smiles, or fear the frowns of men; but to take the word of God alone for my criterion. To it I make my appeal, by it I wish my doctrine tried, and if anything should appear in the following work repugnant thereto, myself alone is accountable.

When I think of the very important work in which I am about to engage, and know my own imperfections, both as to talents and literature and the general taste for criticism that is almost predominant, I am ready to decline, but when I see the errors, and delusions that are spreading over our land, and the infatuated multitudes, that are floating down this complicated torrent, to the whirlpool of endless ruin, I am again resolved to prosecute my purpose, and if but one be profited thereby, I shall be well rewarded, and my God and Saviour shall have all the praise.

As one of the most important subjects in Theology is God and the Holy Trinity; I shall here invite the attention of my serious reader, to a dispassionate, and scriptural elucidation of this momentous article of the christian religion. May God lead my mind to write the truth, and my readers to understand it.

OF GOD AND THE HOLY TRINITY.

That there is one indivisible God who is unbegotten, absolutely of himself and without beginning, is a doctrine well supported from scripture. Psa.45:6, "Thy throne O God, is forever end ever." Psa.90:2, " Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God. " This truth may also be proven from the things that are seen which declare his eternal power and Godhead, from our own existence, from the existence of all things around us and from his impressions on the minds of men. I think it unnecessary to consume time in offering any arguments in support of the Being, and unity of God; for who but an Atheist ever denied his Being? Or who that professes the christian name, will deny his unity? My present object is, to illustrate the doctrine of the Trinity, or show in what sense God is triune.

No article in Theology is more generally subscribed to, than the unity, and indivisibility of the divine essence. Yet while the christian world is so generally agreed to the unity of the divine essence, various are the conjectures, and diversified are the conclusions drawn from the same premises. The Arian, the Socinian, the Sabellian, and the Trinitarian all agree to the unity of the divine essence; but when these different sects undertake to explain the mode of existence in this essence, they are at once divided. One infers from personal pronouns, plural nouns, &c., that there are three distinct persons existing in the one essence of God; while another infers from the indivisibility of the divine essence that Jesus Christ was not divine except by delegation. Warm have been the disputes, and fiery the zeal of each of those parties; and many are the cruelties, which have betrayed the malignity of these partisans. This should admonish us to be satisfied with what the scriptures reveal and not go farther than we have a positive, thus saith the Lord, for then we know we are right. Is it not sinful to attempt to comprehend the mode of existence in the divine essence farther than God has revealed it? If so, let us retract and like humble disciples, throw off our loads and clogs of tradition, and come as learners to the Bible for instruction. Let us not be wise above what is written. The first thing for our consideration is, can we comprehend God? No, we cannot, see Job 11:7- 9. "Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea." Job 37:5 & 23. "Great things doth he, which we cannot comprehend; touching the Almighty, we cannot find him out." See also, Psa.77:19, Isa. 40:28, Rom.11:33, 34. From the above passages we are taught that man cannot comprehend God. What folly then! What presumptuous folly to attempt to comprehend the very mode of his existence; but vain man would be wise. Now it is no way mysterious, that the first cause of all things should be incomprehensible; but it is very unreasonable for man, a creature of a day, a child of mortality, a [mite and fallen being, to presume to comprehend the mode of the existence of his infinite Creator. The next thing to which we shall invite the attention of the reader is the unity of God as an object of worship. Exod.34:14. "Thou shalt worship no other God." I Cor.8, 4, 6. "There is none other God but one; to us there is but one God." See Psalms 83:18, Isa.40:8, Isa.45:21, 22. This God is a Spirit, and they that worship him, must worship in spirit. As I presume all professing christians will agree to the unity and indivisibility of God, or the divine essence, I shall pass to the main object of this chapter, which is: the Holy Trinity.

This subject is of very great importance, and requires much attention, not only on account of its sublimity and worth; but on account of the spurious philosophy and sophism in which this doctrine has been long shrouded. That we may not err in this article, we come at once to the scriptures, to hear there what God the Lord has revealed. That God is revealed in a triune manner, is evident from I John 5: 7, "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father the Word and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." We have been often told that these three are persons, each divine, and one in essence; but does the scripture say so? If not, it is only conjecture; and not revelation. Neither has it any foundation in good reason, for reason forbids the idea of three distinct persons, each one truly and properly God, considered by itself, distinct from the other two, and yet but one God. If the first, second and third person, each one distinct from the other two be a God, there is no reason in saying there is but one God; but if there be but one God, there is no reason in saying that there are three persons and each one distinctly considered, truly and properly God.

Nevertheless if God has revealed this, we must believe the fact; but I challenge the christian world, to present one solitary text in the Old or New Testament, that says anything much or little about there being three divine persons in the Godhead, or about three distinct persons being one in the unity of the divine essence. If this be a truth, it is not a Bible truth. A word on the Trinity: 1 John 5:7- "There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one." The apostle is here adducing several evidences, by which the people of God are distinguished, such as faith, love and obedience. At the 5th verse he asks: "Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?" -verse 6 -"This is he that came by water and blood, even Jesus Christ; not by water only, but by water and blood. And it is the spirit that beareth witness, because the spirit is truth. " Here are three, the water, the blood, and the spirit, that bear witness that Christ has come. Shall we call them persons? If so there are three persons in every man for all men have water, spirit, and blood. -Verse 7 -"There are three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one. " The eleventh verse informs us what this record is: "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. " -verse 8 -"There are three that bear witness in earth, the spirit, and the water, and the blood; and these three agree in one. " See verse 10. "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself. " Now it is plain; the earth that the water, spirit, and blood, bear witness in is the believer; for, "he that believeth bath the witness in himself. " So the heaven in which the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost bear record is the church; for, "This is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. " Then eternal life given to us in the Son of God is the record borne in heaven [that is, in the church called the kingdom of heaven] and the scriptures contain the record; hence in them we think we have eternal life, and they are they, which testify of Jesus Christ the Son of God, and of that life which God hath given us in him. The word record, and the word witness are synonymous terms, see Rom.10:2 -"For I bear them record" -that is, I bear them witness. The Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, bear record in heaven, [the Church, or Kingdom of heaven] and the scriptures contain the record, which testify that God hath given us [the subjects of this heavenly kingdom] eternal life, and this life is in his Son. These three are one, that is one God, or one testifier. God was manifest in the flesh, God was in Christ who came by water and blood, and the spirit beareth witness because the spirit is truth. "The Word was made flesh. " John 1:14. The Father was in him. John 10:38 "The Father is in me, and I in him." The Spirit was upon him. Isa.61:1. "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me. " These three are one. Christ says, "I and my Father are one. " John 10:30. Thus from positive scripture language we see, that when the Word was made flesh the Father was in him, and the spirit of the Lord God upon him; here are the three that bear record in heaven in Jesus Christ -who came by water and blood, to which the Spirit beareth witness. By water he was manifested to Israel, see John 1:31. "That he should be made manifest to Israel, therefore I am come baptizing with water. " When Jesus was baptized, the Spirit in the form of a dove, and the voice or testimony of the Father was given in saying, "this is my beloved Son. " Matt.3 : 17. " Here the Father that was in him, and the Spirit that was upon him; bear record to the senses of John, that this was the Messiah, and John "saw and bear record that this is the Son of God." (John 1:31 to 34 inclusive.) Here are the three that bear record in heaven, in the one person of Jesus Christ; who was manifested to Israel by water in baptism; by blood he redeemed his church, and the Spirit beareth witness in the church. So in earth, that is, in every believer, the water, the spirit, and the blood bear witness. The water in washing, see Heb.10:22. "Having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water." 1 Cor.6:11. The blood in witnessing to our pardon and justification [1 Pet.1:1-2] and the Spirit in quickening the soul, and applying to it, both the cleansing water, and atoning blood; so these three agree in one. Of what we have said, this is the sum. The three that bear record in heaven are all in Jesus Christ, who established his kingdom on earth, and delivered this record to it in his word. He was the everlasting Father, Isa. 9:6. He was a quickening spirit, see I Cor 15:45 -"The last Adam was made a quickening spirit." He was the Word. John 1:14. "The Word was made flesh and dwelt amongst us." Now these three are one; that is, God the Father, or first cause, is a Holy Spirit, or a most pure spirit, as says our confession, and this God was manifested in the flesh, or man Christ Jesus, or the Word, which was the Son of God. The kingdom of Heaven which Christ came to establish on earth, is the heaven in which the record is borne, and the scriptures are the record book, or in which the record is registered. The three that bear witness in earth, are the water to wash his subjects, the Spirit to quicken them, and the blood to justify them, and their earthly body is the earth in which they bear witness, for the comfort of the soul; and these three agree in one God man, whose divine Spirit quickens them, washes them with water by the word, and justifies them by his blood. So we see nothing favoring the tri-personal scheme in this passage; but we find that the whole Trinity was in one person, and the man Christ Jesus, whose divine nature was the Triune God, and whose humanity -or person was the mediator, according, to I Tim.2:5. "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus. " Although this text has been so often called or rather forced into the tri-personal service, yet it says not one word about persons more or less, therefore it can prove nothing for them more or less.

Objection: May we not fairly infer three persons, as there are three that bear record, and bearing record is a personal act?

Answer: We are no better supported in inferring persons from the three that bear record in heaven, than we should be in inferring three persons from the three that bear witness in earth, for bearing witness, is as much a personal act, as bearing record, and as no man ever will attempt to infer persons in the latter case, in any other than a figure of speech, personifying that which is not a person, there is no more justice in the former case, than in the latter.

Premises must be settled by positive testimony, and then we may infer with some safety, but inferential witnesses will not do to settle premises upon. If I read the account of three thousand souls being added to the church in one day; recorded Acts 2:41, and then infer that all or some of them were infants; I am equally as well supported in drawing this inference, as when I infer persons in the other case. If it be objected on the ground that infants are not mentioned in the latter case; I answer, neither are persons mentioned in the former case, and if I may infer persons from the three that bear record in heaven, then with equal propriety I may infer infant from the three thousand that were added to the church in a day. Then I may as fairly infer infant baptism, and infant church membership in this case; as three distinct divine persons in the Godhead, in the other case.

Last Updated ( Wednesday, 13 September 2006 )
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