This only, true God is the creator of the world, the God of Abraham etc. the Jehovah and the Lord, which has revealed Himself, as the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
68. After having answered the inquiry concerning God’s nature, the third question presents itself to us, namely, who is this only living God? There have been carried on, concerning this question, at all times great and dangerous disputes, so that Jews and Heathen and Christians, have contended and persecuted each other for the sake of this inquiry, in as much as each of them pays his homage to another Being, which he regards as his, and as the true and only God.
But that we might be able to discern, who is to be considered as the true and only God, we shall be obliged to turn our attention to the different Revelations, by means of which it has pleased Him, to make Himself known. Of such revelations there are four:
70. I. The first revelation took place, at the moment in which God created heaven and earth; as it is explained by St. Paul, Rom. 1, 19. 20: “Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them (the Gentiles); for God hath showed it unto them; for the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made even his eternal power and godhead, so that they are without excuse.” And this same Apostle, being about to exhort the Athenians on account of their idolatry, and to show them which is the true God, directs their attention in the very outset, to the work of creation; “whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you: God that made the world and all the things therein” etc, Act. 17, 23, 24. And the prophet Jeremiah looks upon the work of creation, as a direct proof, by means of which the true God might be distinguished from other Gods; for his message to the heathens runs thus: “the Gods that have not made the heavens and the earth, even they shall perish from the earth and from under these heavens; He (God) hath made the earth by his power he that established the world by his wisdom,” Jerem. 10, 11. 12. And the Lord Himself in that He created the world, has proved Himself to be the true God; “Thus saith God the Lord, he that created the heavens and stretched them out; he that spread forth the earth, and that which cometh out of it; he that giveth breath unto the people upon it, and spirit to them, that walk therein,” Isa. 42, 5; “thus saith the Lord thy redeemer, and he that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by myself,” Isa. 44, 24. This is therefore the 1st revelation, which teaches Him to be the only and true God, who hath creates heaven and earth.
71. II. Now the heathen do also ascribe to their imaginary Gods the work of creation; but the true God has, besides this, revealed himself to the children of Israel, as well as to the patriarchs Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. —
Thus he led Abraham out of Ur in Chaldea, and made a covenant with him. Genes, 12, 1. ff; 17, 2. ff. Thus he promised unto Isaac and Jacob that their seed should be so large that it could not be numbered, a seed which the Almighty also promised to redeem from a heavy bondage. In the accomplishment of which promises God has revealed Himself to be Almighty, True and Merciful. In the same way revelations are to be met with, by means of which He hath made himself known to Isaac and Jacob, as the history of the Jews abundantly proves.
71. The true God is therefore, as it were, properly designated when he is described as the God of Abraham and as the fear of Isaac, Genes.. 31, 42; as the God of Abraham, of Isaac and of Jacob, Exod. 3, 16; 1. Kings 18, 36; Math. 22, 32; as the God of the Fathers, Exod. 3, 13; Deutro. 1, 21. Wisd. 9, 1; 1. Chron. 30, 18; as the God of the Hebrews, Exod. 5, 3; as the God of Israel, Jos. 7, 13 if; as the God of all the families of Israel, Jerem. 31, 1.
73. III. The third revelation consists in the fact of God’s making known his real name, and this more especially unto Moses. For when this latter was about to be sent unto Pharaoh, upon his inquiring who might be that God, that thus commands him to go to the children of Israel, he receives the reply: “thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you,” Exod. 3, 14. This was still more explained to him, as we read, v. 15. “thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: the Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac and the God of Jacob hath sent me unto you, this is my name forever, and this is my memorial unto all generations;” Exod. 6, 2. 3: “I am the Lord (Jehovah); and I appeared unto Abraham, Isaac and Jacob by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known to them;” Isa. 42, 8: “I am the Lord, that is my name and my glory will I not give to another.”
74. This latter revelation also informs us of the true, appropriate and essential name, wherewith God desires to be called. For even so as the heathens used to distinguish their different Gods, by different names, calling them Baal, Astharoth, Moloch, Jupiter, Neptunus etc. — so also is it the desire of the only God to be distinguished by his own proper name (Jehovah, Lord) from all that which is no divinity.
75. It is, therefore “Jehovah” (or as it is translated in the Bible, Lord), the appropriate and essential name, of the only God, as has been shown by reference to the different passages. Nor is this name, in holy scripture, applied to any of the imaginary divinities, or to any other creature. —
76. IV. The fourth revelation took place, in that God (this Jehovah) makes Himself known as a plurality of persons, thereby teaching, that Jehovah is, and that He is called, the Father, who has created a Son from eternity, the Son, who has been created from the Father in all eternity, from both of which (Father and Son) the Holy Ghost proceeds.
77. For the purpose therefore of disposing of the question, viz: who may be that true God? the surest way will be to put together these four different revelations and to say: the only true God is the Creator of heaven and earth, the God of Abraham of Isaac and of Jacob, the Jehovah or Lord, which is the Father of the Lord Jesus Christ; Christ Jesus the Son of the Father, and the Holy Ghost, which proceeds from the Father and the Son,.
78. Concerning the three first mentioned revelations all those who bear the christian name are agreed. But the doctrine regarding the three distinct persons in the one divine Being, or (in the language of the primitive Church) of the Trinity, has, been, from the very beginning of the christian Church, attacked by man different heretics; as for instance by the Ebionites, by Cerinthus, by Macedonius, Sabellius, Paul of Samosate, especially by Anus. This latter revived again the doctrine, which was maintained by the Photinians so called ofter the old heretic Photinus.
79. In stating his conviction it ought to be left to the option of every christian, either to employ the mode of expression which had been made use of in this controversy with these heretics (namely: in the one divine Being there are three persons, or the only God consists of three persons); or simply to express his belief thus: the only, true God is the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost.
80. But in order that the phraseology, which the Church makes use of against the heretics, be more clearly understood, it will be requisite to put it down as a sure and impregnable principle: that under, no circumstances whatsoever more than One God is to be acknowledged or spoken of. For if we shall subsequently succeed in proving that the three different persons constitute the same one God, it must be evident that there are, in this one God, three distinct persons.
81. Although this might be a proper place for giving a clear definition of the term Person; yet, as this definition would have to be drawn from Philosophy, the elucidation of which would be of little profit to the humble inquirer, the following will we hope, suffice.
82. a. For a person it is necessary, to have a substance and a nature. Accordingly the human reason cannot be said to be a person, because it has no substance; but man is a person because of his having his own nature. Just upon the same principle, God the Father is said to be a person, for he is a substance; whilst the power, eternity as well as other attributes of God cannot be called persons, because of their not having a substance or a nature.
83. b. Whatever is to be called a person, ought to have a perfect substance and nature of his own, and not only a part of the same. Therefore neither the human body, nor his soul, on being separated, can be called a person, because of the body being only part of the human being. But man, as he is constituted of body and soul, is a person, for he is an entire being, not making a part of any thing else.
64. c. Whatever is to be called a person, must be alive; therefore an Angel is called a person, in consequence of his being alive; but a stone cannot be called a person, because their is no life in it.
85. d. Whatever is to be called a person, ought to be endued with reason. Thence a man or an Angel are each a person, because of their being furnished with reasoning powers; whilst on the other hand a lion, ox or horse etc., cannot be said to be persons, because they are destitute of reason.
86. e. Whatever constitutes a person, cannot be common to different individuals. Accordingly the human nature of man, being equally met with in every individual cannot be called a person, for reason of its being common to many. But Peter is a person because no other individual can be this self same Peter.
87. It is in this way, that the Church speaks of the divine nature, which although having an entire substance and nature of its own, and although it is alive, and endued with reason, is yet no person, because of its being in common to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. But the Father as well as the Son, as also the Holy Ghost are persons, because of their being alive, and endued with reason, and because of their substance not being common to any other. For there is no other being which is called the Father, or the Son or the Holy Ghost.
88. But as this way of speaking (of the holy Trinity, or the three persons in God) is not to be found in scripture, [that is, not in express words, though in the whole tenure of the same], but has only been adopted by the Church of old, for the purpose of repelling the heresies of Arius and others, no body is bound to make use of the same. It is by no means necessary for any Christian to adopt them, and to trouble himself as to how he was to understand the term “person“; or how the one divine Being could possibly be believed to consist of three different persons. For the humble minded inquirer it will suffice to know and to believe, that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are the only, true and living God; but regarding the possibility of this we ought not to trouble ourselves, seeing that in this life we know only part, and are only able to comprehend the things of God as through a glass, darkly (1 Cor. 13, 9. 12.). We may therefore humbly await the issue, till we pass into life eternal, where we shall see the Lord as He is, and “know Him, even as we are known of Him,” (1 Cor. 13, 12; 1 Joh. 3, 2.)
89. But that the Christian might be able to give an account to God and men concerning his faith, in as far as it is founded upon scripture, three different points are to be proved:
I. that there is in God more than one person;
II. that there are three persons in God, and
III. the distinction which is to he observed between the three persons of the Godhead.
90. I. That in God there are more than one person, the holy scriptures prove in three different ways:
a. God speaks to Himself, as one spake to another; thus Genes. 1, 26: “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness;” ibid. 3, 22: “Behold the man is become like one of us; ibid. 11, 7: “go to, let us go down, and there confound their language.”
91. b. God is speaking of Himself, as one speaks of another, Isa. 48, 16: “I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was there am I; and now the Lord God and his spirit hath sent me;” Jerem. 23, 5. 6: “Behold the days come, saith the Lord, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch, and a King shall reign, and prosper, and shall execute judgment and justice in the earth. In this days Judah shall be saved, and Israel shall dwell safely: and this is his name whereby he shall be called: “THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS;” Hosea 1, 7: “But I will have mercy upon, the house of Judah and will save them by the Lord their God;” Zach. 2, 10. 11: “For lo, I come, and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shalt know that the Lord of hosts hath sent me unto thee. And many nations shall be joined to the Lord in that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in the midst of thee, and thou shaft now, that the Lord of hosts, he hath sent me unto thee;” Zach. 3, 2: “And the Lord said unto Satan: the Lord rebuke thee O Satan; even the Lord…. rebuke thee.’
92. The holy scriptures speak of God as a plurality. Genes. 19, 24: “then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” For which also many other instances might be adduced.
93. As therefore Jehovah, the only God, in all the instances referred to, is speaking to Himself as to a plurality (for nothing can be imagined to be more important to Him, than to avoid giving to men the least occasion for imagining that there is more than one God); and since He speaks to Himself in such a way: “let us make men,” “Adam is become as one of us,” “let us confound the languages,” — all which can not possibly be addressed to an Angel or any other creature, but to God alone; — it must be certain that there are more persons in the Godhead, which are referred to in making use of the Plural forms, us, our, etc.
94. In the same manner Jehovah, the only God says of Himself, that He hath been sent by the Lord; that Jehovah would raise up a seed unto David, which should also be Jehovah; that Jehovah would help Judah again, in this same Jehovah; and in the same way Jehovah says to Satan, Jehovah rebuke thee Satan. In all this, two distinct persons must needs be understood to be spoken of, each of which is yet called Jehovah; (for there is one, which sends, and another which has been sent; one who raises a seed unto David, and that seed which has been raised; one Jehovah, which says unto Satan: the Lord rebuke thee, and another the Lord which is to rebuke). But on all occasions both these two persons are Jehovah the Lord, which is the true and real God, and always remains the only one Jehovah, and the only one God. Which demonstrates that in this Jehovah and Lord there are more than one person, which are thus designated (Lord Jehovah and God), and that several persons are intended by these terms.
95. II. Again we are to learn, that in the divine Being there are three distinct persons, namely: the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. This can especially be proved from that principal reason, that three distinct persons, namely the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost, have each of them revealed themselves to be the only true God. From which circumstance we are to infer: that although scripture pronounces it to be the principal reason and the foundation of all saving knowledge, that there be but one true God, and yet evidently teaches that there are three distinct persons, each of whom is the only true God, it must obviously be acknowledged, that in the divine Being there are three distinct persons.
96. Whatever has been advanced in the last chapter concerning the unity of God, has never been doubted. Nor has all that, which scripture testifies concerning the Father, that is, that He is the only and real God, ever been questioned. But it is necessary to prove, that there are three such persons in the Godhead, as well as that the Son and the Holy Ghost are such persons.
97. In the first place, St. John testifies, as well of the Son, as also of the Holy Ghost, that they are One with the Father, in the following very decided expressions, 1. Ep. 5, 7: “there are three that hear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are One.” It can therefore not be denied, that the Holy Ghost is not to be looked upon as a mere creature, apart from God. Concerning the Son, we are in possession of his own testimony, John. 14, 9. 10. 11:“he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou, then, show me the Father? Believest thou not, that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”
98. From which we draw the following conclusion: that such persons, who are equal with the Father in such a way that whosoever seeth them seeth the Father, the same are of one substance with the Father; and therefore with Him the only true God. The Son and Holy Ghost are one with the father, and therefore in Him, so that, whosoever “seeth the Son, seeth the Father” also; (which can equally be said, of the Holy Ghost, which is even acknowledged by our adversaries to be God). The Son therefore and the Holy Ghost are of one substance with the Father, and consequently together with Him the only true God.
99. That the Son is the same only God as the Father, can be proved as follows. He to whom we find ascribed:
the name of God
the divine character and attributes,
God’s work, and
the honour that is due to Him alone,
the same is the supreme, the true, the everlasting God. Such proofs must suffice us for this reason, because we are only able, to convince ourselves of the fact that the Father is God, from the divine name, attributes and honours being ascribed to Him. If then, very justly, it can be concluded from the latter circumstance that the Father is God, the same should also satisfactorily convince us of the divinity of the Son. Now to the Son, there are ascribed the divine names, character, works and honours, consequently the Son is the supreme, the true eternal God. These four points remain now to be proved.
100. I. The second person in the Godhead, is the true and everlasting God, because to the Son are applied the divine names, which alone belong unto God. There are three such names to be found in scripture.
101. The first of these names is “God,” this is the proper name that is due to the only true God; for although it has been applied by way of ridicule to heathen idols, as for instance Exod. 12, 12: “Against all the Gods of Egypt I will execute judgment;” and although it has be applied to worldly authorities and judges (Ps. 82, 6.); yet it remains properly due but unto God; Deutr. 32. 39: “See now, that I, even I, am he, and there is no God with me;” Hos. 18. 4: “Thou shalt know no God but me.”
102. In the same sense the name of God is attributed to the Son, John. 1, 1: “the word was God” (namely that word, which had become flesh); Rom. 9, 5: “Christ came, who is over all God blessed for ever;” 1. Timot. 3, 16: “And without controversy great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh;” Act. 20, 28: “The church of God, which be hath purchased with his own blood,” which blood however is not of the Father, but of the Son; of. Ephes 1, 7; 1. Pet. 1, 19. 1. Joh. 1, 7.
103. Another of God’s names is “Lord;” And although it is also given to man, as Gen. 3, 16; 24, 35; Act. 25, 26; Col. 3, 22; yet it properly belongs but to God; Acts. 16, 14 “Liydia…. whose heart the Lord opened; 2 Thes. 3, 5. “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God;” Ephes. 4, 5″ “One Lord, one faith, one baptism.” He to whom, this term “Lord” in its supreme and most appropriate sense is due, the same bears God’s own name.
104. This term Lord is applied to the Son in its highest, and most appropriate signification, Luk. 2, 11: “for unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is “Christ the Lord;” Malach. 3, 1: “the Lord whom ye seek shall suddenly come.” And that the term Lord is applied in the highest sense, according to which the supreme God is called Lord, can be proved from the Adjectives with which it is found connected. For he is called: “the One Lord Jesus Christ,” 1. Cor. 8, 6; “the Lord from heaven,” Mi. 15, 47; “the Lord of glory,” Cor. 2, 8; “the Lord of Lords,” Rev. 17, 14; 19, 16; all of which are God’s own attributes, and not applicable to any creature.
105. The third of those names is that of Jehovah. In which way God applies the same unto Himself has been shown #. 73. He therefore to whom this name is given, to him Gods own name is applied.
This name Jehovah is ascribed to Christ in many passages of holy writ, especially on occasions, when the Old and New testament are brought to bear upon each other, of which only two instances shall be mentioned in this place. The prophet Isaiah saw the Glory of the Lord, and spoke to Him, concerning the wickedness of the Jews. That Christ, or the Son, is that same Lord and Jehovah is testified expressly by John. 12, 41: “these things said Esaias, when he saw his glory, and spake of him.” Isa. 15, 3 that prophet is promised, that was to prepare the way of Jehovah, (the Lord) “the voice of him, that crieth in the wilderness, prepare ye the way of the Lord;” and that the Lord and Jehovah, for whom the way was to be prepared, was the Son is known from the evangelical records. John was this prophet and preacher, Mat. 3, 2. 3; John. 1, 23; he directed the people to go to Jesus, saying. Math. 3, 11: “I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance; but he that cometh after me he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire;” John. 1, 29: “Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sins of the world;” ibid. 3, 29. 30: “My joy therefore is fulfilled; he must increase but I must decrease.” And thus has John prepared the way for no other but for Christ; who is therefore that Jehovah and Lord, for whom this preacher was to prepare the way.
106. II. The second person must be God, because to the Son are ascribed the divine attributes and characters. Now the Being to whom divine attributes are ascribed, attributes belonging to God alone, must be the one supreme and true God; and as to the Son there are ascribed divine properties, which belong only to God; the Son must be the same only supreme, true and everlasting God.
107. This can be proved by the following argument. He who is Omniscient, and Omnipresent, is entitled to a divine character. Now the Son is Everlasting, Almighty, and Omniscient, and he is therefore in possession of divine attributes; for the Son is:
108. A. Everlasting. He was before John “He it is, who coming after me, is preferred before me,” John. 1, 27; he was also before Abraham, John. 8, 58: “Verily, verily, I say unto you. Before Abraham was, I am.” He was before every other creature, John. 1, 1: “In the beginning was the word.” v. 3: “All things were made by him” (the word). He was before the beginning of the world, John. 17, 5: “0 Father glorify thou me, with thine own self with the glory, which I had with thee before the world was.” Coloss. 1, 17: “He is before all things.” He stands therefore out of, and beyond all time, and is consequently Everlasting. The Son of God is also:
109. B. Almighty. Almighty power has been given to him even in the! days of his flesh, Matth. 28, 18: “All power is given unto me in heaven and upon earth;” John. 3, 35: “the Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hands.” Besides this, his almighty power has come to light by the works he performed, in the creation of the world, and in many other respects. Whosoever accomplishes almighty works, must certainly be possessed with almighty powers. The Son of God is:
110. C. Omniscient; Joh. 21, 17. Peter says to him “Lord thou knowest all things;” he knows what is in man, Joh. 2, 25: “He needed not, that any should testify of man, for he knew what is in man;” he is able to discern the thoughts of man, Matth. 9, 4; he shall judge the secrets of men, Rom. 2, 16; he will bring to light the hidden things of God” 1. Cor. 4, 5. He searcheth the reins and the heart and he will give to every one according to his works, Rev. 2, 23; Future things are known to him, ere they have yet come to pass; thus he predicted to his disciples all the persecutions which they should have to suffer; Matth. 10, 17. 18; John. 16, 2. He pointed out before hand him who was to betray him, before even the heart of the betrayer had itself conceived the idea, to do so, John. 13, 11; and he predicted the flight of his disciples, as well as the denial of Peter, Matth. 26, 31. 34.
[D. Christ is also Omnipresent; he says, Matth. 18, 20: “Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them;” and Chapt. 28, 20: “Lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.” Of which, he has given abundant proofs to his disciples, after his resurrection. In order that they might have faith in his promises, at times when he shall have ceased to be visibly present with them.]
111. III. That the second person is God, is also evident from the fact, that to the Son there is ascribed the power of performing divine works. Which leads us to conclude, that to whom the power of performing divine works is attributed the committal of which is alone in the power God, such a one is the supreme only, and true God. Now we have seen, that to the Son there is ascribed the power of performing divine works, and therefore he must necessarily be the only, supreme, true and real God. Of such works, we find two different kinds taken notice of, viz:
aa) general works, and
bb) special works.
aa. Of the first kind we intend to mention four different instances:
112. a. The work of creation of heaven and earth, which God ascribes to Himself in such a manner, that nobody besides Him, can have partaken in the same. Nevertheless we find this creation ascribed to Christ, John. 1, 3: “All things were made by him (the word, the Son), and without him was not anything made, that, was made.” Also Coloss. 1, 16: for by him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible or invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him and for him.”
113. b. The preservation and governing of the whole creation; which attribute can be due to none but unto God, because He alone is able to govern the world, who has created it; as it is clearly expressed by the Apostle, Acts. 17, 28: “In him we live, we move, and have our being;” the preservation and governing of world is directly ascribed to Christ, Coloss 1, 17: By him all things exist;” also John. 5, 17: “My father worketh hitherto, and I work; and Heb. 1,3: Upholding all things, by the word of his mouth.”
114. c. The working of miracles; the Lord Jehovah shows Himself to be the true God, in that He performs miracles, Exod. 7, 17: “Thus saith the Lord, by this thou shalt know, that I am the Lord; behold I will smite with the rod, that is in mine hand upon the waters which are in the river and they shall be turned into blood;” ibid: Chap. 8, 10: “the frogs shall depart from thee, that thou mayest know, that there is none like unto the Lord our God.” And the Son has performed miracles in order to prove, that he is in the Father, and the Father in him, John. 14, 11: “Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or also believe me for the very works sake.”
115. But these miracles have not been wrought by Christ in such a way, as for instance Moses and the Apostles etc. performed them, namely merely as being authorised fop this purpose by any other power, of which they were but the channel. Christ the Son of God has performed them out of his own power. This is evident, partly because he has been able to give to others the power to work them; Matth. 10, 8: “go… heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils;” Luk. 9, 1: “he gave them (the twelve) power over all devils and to cure diseases”: which power neither the prophets nor the Apostles were able to bestow; — partly also from the fact that he in whose name miracles are performed, must be the chief cause of the same, and cause them to come about by his own power. Thus Moses performed his miracles in the name of the Lord, in order to prove the Lord to be the principal and only cause of the same. But on the other hand the Son of God never performed a miracle but in his own name; Luk. 7, 14: “Young man, I, say unto thee, arise;” Mark. 5, 41: “Damsel I say unto thee, arise.” The Apostles again wrought miracles solely in the name of Christ. Acts 3, 6: “In the name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise up and walk;” ibid. 4, 10: “by the name of Jesus of Nazareth…. doth this man stand here before you whole;’’ ibid. 9, 34: “Aeneas, Jesus Christ maketh thee whole” etc. “For the Lord (was) working with them, and confirming the word with signs following,” Mark. 16, 20.
116. d. The work of the covenant, which God has made with men, by means of baptism. Baptism is called “the answer (covenant) of a good conscience towards God, 1. Pet. 3, 21. Now this covenant is always made with the Son of God, as can be shown from his own words, Matth. 28, 19: “baptize them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Man therefore, in receiving baptism is admitted into the covenant of mercy, not only of the Father, but also by the Son, as well in his own name, as in that of the Father. Consequently the Son is, like the Father the true and living God.
117. bb. As to the special works, which are ascribed to the Son of God, not a few instances are to be met with, which, though in the Old testament they are ascribed to the God of Israel, are yet, in the New testament attributed, by the Apostles and Evangelists to the Son of God. Thus it is exulted in, as the work of God “thou (Lord) hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts of men.” His ascension, along with all its consequences is spoken of as being accomplished by Jehovah. But this Jehovah is the Lord Jesus, to whom Paul expressly applies this passage, Ephes. 4, 8: “Wherefore he saith, when he ascended up on high he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth?” etc.
In the same Psalm, he who is said to have ascended up on high, is also spoken of as having delivered his people out of Egypt, and as having given them in a glorious manner his law, V. 7, 8: “God when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness; the earth shook, the heavens also dropped at the presence of God.” Now these are two great, divine works, which can be ascribed to none but the Lord. But as the Son is that same Lord, which has ascended up on high etc.; it follows that he must also be the same, who brought the children of Israel out of Egypt, and who has given them the law; and that, having performed divine works, he must necessarily be the true God.
118. IV. That the second person in the Godhead is the true God, is also finally evident, because that to the Son divine honours are paid. Isa. 42, 8.: “my glory will I not give to another.” All Christians, moreover, are bound to offer unto him divine worship, John. 5, 22. 23: “for the Father judgeth no man but he hath committed all judgment unto the Son, that all men should honour him even as they honour the Father.” Now to the Father there is divine worship offered, which has been stated to be also due to the Son. The honour which belongs unto God is twofold, viz:
119. a. Worship; Deutr. 10, 20; Matth. 4, 10: “thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.” Of the Son, we read, Heb. 1, 6: “when he bringeth in the first begotten into the world he saith. And let all the angels of God worship him.” It is said of him, that he is to be worshipped on the great day of judgment, “Every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God,” Rom. 14, 11. This latter act is one of adoration to which no other is entitled but God, Isa. 45, 23.
120. b. Faith and the highest confidence, which the human heart can put in his God, and which God alone deserves, “cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm”. Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is,” Jerem. 17, 7. 9.
Such a confidence and such a faith is to be, put in the Son of God, as he himself says “ye believe in God, believe also In me,” Joh. 14, 1. Accordingly the real saving faith is called: faith in Jesus, Rom. 3, 26.
Thus we have, by means of the preceding inferences established, and by the adduced passages proved the fact, that the Son is, like the Father, the only true and living God.
121. It now but remains for us to show, that the Holy Ghost is the only, true and living God. But in this inquiry we take it for granted, that the Holy Ghost is part of the divine Being. And if we therefore succeed in proving, that the Holy Ghost is not merely a property, power, or energy of God, — but a person, then we establish thereby also the fact that the Holy Ghost is a divine person, and therefore very God.
For the better establishing of this ‘ part of the christian doctrine, we proceed to prove the two following points:
A. that the Holy Ghost is a person, and
B. that the Holy Ghost is the true, real God.
122. A. The first proposition, that the Holy Ghost is a person, can be proved from the following arguments: whosoever, we say, is entitled, and gets ascribed to him a) personal names, b) personal works, c) personal revelations and appearances, d) personal accidents and occurrences, that same must indeed he a person. For these are the characteristics, by means of which alone we are able to perceive that man or angel, or God the Father are persons. Wherever, then, these characteristics are to be met with, there we must conclude having met a person.
123. To the Holy Ghost are due, and there are ascribed to him:
a. personal names. The term “God” it applied to him, which is the name of a person (of #. 130); as also that of “another Comforter” which are also significations of persons etc.
124. b. Personal works, more especially:
1. The creation, Job 33, 4: “the spirit of the Lord hath made me, and the breath of the Almighty hath given me life.” Psalm. 33, 6: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens made; and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.”-
2. The governing of the Church; Acts. 20, 28: “The Holy Ghost hath made you overseers,” etc. 1. Cor 12, 11: “All these (gifts, healings, miracles) worketh that one and selfsame spirit, dividing to every man severally as he will.”
3. The mission and the anointing of the Messiah; Isa. 61, 1; Luk. 4, 18: “the Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the Gospel to the poor.”
4. The bestowal of spiritual gifts, 1. Cor. 12, 11: “dividing to every man severally as he will.”
5. The delivering of Israel from Egypt. Isa. 63, 11. 12: “Where is he that put his Holy Spirit, within him, that led them by the right hand of Moses?”
6. The knowledge of divine counsels, 1. Cor. 2, 10: “for the spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God.”
7. the divine teaching; Luk. 12, 12: for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour, what ye ought to say.” Joh. 14, 26.
8. Prayer and intercession; Rom. 8, 26: “the spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings, which cannot he uttered.”
9. The Holy Ghost is introduced as speaking; Acts. 1, lo: “the Holy Ghost spake before by the mouth of David,” Luk. 2, 26: “It was revealed unto him (Simeon) by the Holy Ghost;” John. 16, 13: “Whatever he (the Holy Ghost) shall hear that shall he speak.”
It is not to be denied that in some parts of scripture such works are spoken of as having been performed by divine wisdom and Omnipotence. Nevertheless we consider this point, just as it is, strong enough for our purpose, if put together with the rest of our proofs.
125. There are also applied to the ‘Holy Ghost:
c. Personal revelations and appearances. Of this there are especially two instances recorded; the first took place on the occasion, of the baptism of Christ, and is described by Luk. 3, 21. 22: “It came to pass that Jesus also being baptized and praying, the heaven was opened, and the Holy Ghost descended in bodily shape like a dove upon him.” This appearance St. John described as being a visible one, (1, 32.) “I saw the spirit descending from heaven like a dove and it abode upon him.”
The second revelation of the Holy Ghost took place on the day of Pentecost. That the Holy Ghost on that occasion appeared in a visible shape, may be gathered from the fact which is recorded, “that it sat upon each of them.” It is impossible for all this to be said merely concerning a divine power or property, but it must most assuredly refer to a person, which as such, is alone able to render itself visible.
126. To the Holy Ghost there are also ascribed:
d. personal properties, namely reason and purpose. And that the Holy Ghost is in possession of divine reason and purpose is evident from the works, which have been stated to have been ascribed to him, such as the creation, the governing of the world, imparting of spiritual gifts etc. [I. Cor. 12, 2: “severally as he will;” 1. Cor. 2, 10.]
127. Finally there have been ascribed to the Holy Ghost
e. personal occurrences, as:
i. The Bible speaks of a blasphemy against the Holy Ghost, Matth. 12, 31; a sin of which it is said, that it never shall be forgiven.
ii. The Holy Ghost dwells in the saints as in his temple, “know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the spirit of God dwelleth in you?” 1 Cor. 3, 16.
iii. The Holy Ghost is tempted; Acts. 5, 9: “How is it, that ye have agreed together to tempt Hie Spirit of the Lord?”
iv. He is resisted; Acts. 7, 51: “ye do always resist the Holy Ghost.”
v. He is grieved; Eph. 4, 30: “Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God.”
vi. He is rebelled against and vexed; “they rebelled and vexed his Holy Spirit,” Isa. 63, 10.
vii. He is along with the Father and the Son spoken of as a person; Matth. 28, 19: baptize in the name of the Father” etc.; 2. Cor. 13, 14: “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ” etc.
All of which it is impossible to ascribe to a mere power or property; it could only be applied to a person.
128. B. That the Holy Ghost is truly God can be proved as follows: whosoever is possessed of
1) divine nature,
2) divine names,
3) divine powers, and
4) divine honour,
the same is the true and only God. Such has never been doubted. Now of the Holy Ghost all this has been testified, and therefore the Holy Ghost is the very true God.
129. 1. That the Holy Ghost is of a divine nature nobody will attempt to deny. And 1. Cor. 2, 11, we find ascribed to the Holy Ghost a knowledge of the divine counsels, because of His being in God.
130. 2. Divine names are ascribed to Him, as “God” and “Lord;” Acts. 5, 3. 4: “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie to the Holy Ghost? thou hast not lied unto men but unto God;” 1. CoV. 12, 4. 5. 6: “there are diversities of gifts, but the same spirit; and there are differences of administration but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations but it is the same God which worketh all in all.”
131. 3. Divine properties are ascribed to Him, as:
a. Eternity; “Christ, who through the eternal spirit offered himself,” Heb. 9, 14.
b. Omniscience; 1. Cor. 2, 10: “the Spirit (of God) searcheth all things, yea the hidden things of God.”
c. Omnipresence, Pslm. 139, 7: “Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I go from thy presence?”
132. 4. To the Holy Ghost are also ascribed divine works, part of which have been specified already. Among these are especially are especially to be noticed the work of creation, and the governing of the Church. To these are to be added: prophecy, 1. Tim. 4, 1: “the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith;” 2. Pet. 2, 21: “HoIy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Ghost. Amongst the number of the divine works of the Holy Spirit is also to be mentioned the Covenant of mercy, into which man is admitted by the Holy Ghost by means of baptism, John 3, 5. 6: “Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven; that which is born of the Spirit, is Spirit;” Titus. 3, 5: God saves us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.” But this can alone be done by God; for baptism is “an answer of a good conscience towards God,” 1. Pet. 3, 21.
133. 5. Divine honours are paid to the Holy Ghost; thus we believe in Him, for we confess “I believe in the Holy Ghost, Rom. 9, 1: “I say the truth I lie not, my conscience bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost.” This is an attribute due but unto God, in whose name alone we are permitted to give an oath; Deutr. 6, 13: “thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and serve him, and shalt swear by His name.”
134. III. The third of the propositions which we made #. 89. remains now to be enlarged upon namely the distinction which is to be made between the persons of the Godhead. For although the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father,
and all three persons are of one substance, there is yet a distinction between them, so that the Father cannot be said to be the Son, or the Son to be the Holy Ghost etc.
135. As to the nature of this distinction, we are unable, with our present capacities, to comprehend them, seeing that we are now but able to understand the things of God as through a glass, darkly. It is nevertheless our duty in as far as it bas pleased God to reveal it unto us, to acquire as clear an understanding of it as is possible for us, that we might be, kept from confounding the different persons. As much namely can safely be said on this head, that the Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten; that the Son is of the Father, not made, nor created, but begotten; that the Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son; neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding, as we are taught by the creed of St. Athanasius.
136. For the farther elucidation of this subject it will be necessary in the first instance, to view the relation between the Father who has begotten the Son, and the Son who has been begotten by the Father.
a. The terms Father and Son point at a distinction between those two persons of such nature, that in the same sense God can be called Father by no other creature. For the Word, or the second person of the Godhead is called “the only begotten of the Father.” John. 1, 14.
b. The holy scriptures expressly speak of such a begetting of the Son; Ps. 2, 7; “thou art my son, this day have I begotten thee; Heb. 1, 5: “for unto which of the angels said he at any time, thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee?” John.1, 14: “We beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father.” Christ is also called God’s own Son, Eom. 8, 32: “He that spared not His own Son.”
c. In the Creed of our Church this relation is referred to in the following word: “I believe that Jesus Christ is very God begotten from the Father in all eternity.”
137. As to the way and the extent in which the Son has been begotten by the Father, this need not necessarily create great concern in us. For we ought always to look upon this subject as a mystery, the complete perception of which is only possible to us in a future life.
138. In order to point out the distinction which exists between the Holy Ghost, and the Father and the Son, it is said that the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son. This relation we are authorised to make, partly by the words mi(Hebrew) and Trvevfia(greek), by which the Holy Ghost is named, and which, in the hebrew and greek languages signify the “breath, spirit,” which proceeds out of the mouth of men. It is therefore with these words, as with a figure expressed, that the Holy Ghost is the “breath of the almighty,” Job 33, 4.
139. But as God is not of flesh and blood, and therefore cannot be spoken of as having a mouth, like a man, we make the following inferences:
a. That between the Father and Son, of which the Holy Ghost proceeds, and the Holy Ghost himself, there exists a certain distinction.
b. That the Holy Ghost as a person originates with the Father and the Son in another manner, than can be said respecting the Son. For the Son is by being begotten; whilst on the contrary the Holy Ghost originates with the breath of the Father and the Son. The manner in which this is effected, we will be able to understand only then, when we shall be permitted to see the Lord face to face.
140. The personal properties, which the Holy Ghost is said to possess, can also be proved from the word of God. Namely, that the Holy Ghost is proceeding:
a. from the Father, John. 15,26: “the Comforter, the spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father;” in consequence of which the Holy Ghost is called “the breath of the Almighty,” Job 33, 4.
b. From the Son, for:
1. The Holy Ghost is called the Spirit or the breath of the Lord Jesus, Galat. 4, 6: “God hath sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts.”
2. The Holy Ghost is called “the breath of His lips,” Isa. 11, 4: “He shall smite the earth with the rod of his mouth, and with the breath of his lips ‘shall he slay |he wicked;” 2. Thess. 2, 8: “then shall that Wicked (the Antichrist) be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the Spirit of his mouth.”
3. The Holy Ghost has been communicated by the Son to his disciples in that he breathed on them; John. 20, 22: “He (Jesus) breathed on them and said” etc.; which proves, that the Son also communicates the Holy Ghost by breathing on him, who is to be favoured with the latter. For he whose breath, whose mouth and lip the Holy Ghost is, of that same the Holy Ghost must proceed; just as every man issues, his own breath. But this again is one of the Mysteries of our christian faith, which we are bound to believe, and concerning which we are required to subject our reason to the obedience of faith.