Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?—Proverbs 20.6

 
David Dickson's

Truth's Victory Over Error

Chapter. II.

Of God, and of the Holy Trinity.

QUESTION I.

"IS there but one only the true and living God?"

Yes; Deut. 6.4. 1 Cor. 8.4,6. 1 Thes. 1.7.

Well then, do not the Trithetiae err, who maintain, Three Gods numerically distinct, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Manicheans err, who maintain, That there are two Gods, being diverse and opposite, as to kind, viz. one good, the author and cause of all good things, and of things immaterial, being the God of the New Testament. The other evil, viz. the devil, the author and cause of all evil things, and of things material, being the God of the Old Testament?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because though there be a plurality of persons mentioned in Scripture, yet it is ever God as one as is evident from the first chapter of the Revelation and the last. For if that one God have in himself all perfections, there can be no perfection beside him, and so no God but this one true God; for if there were, he should not be God, because not infinite in perfection. And if God be infinite in perfection, then surely there cannot be multiplicity of gods, seeing that which is infinite, in that respect, cannot be multiplied.

2d, It is evident from Deut. 32.39. where the Lord speaketh of himself, I even I, am he, and there is no God without me.

3d, Because God is omnipotent, and so cannot be hindered by any other in his working, Rev. 15.3.

4th, It is evident from Christ's words to the young man of the gospel, there is none good but one, that is God.

5th, From the words of Hanna in her song, For there is none beside thee, O Lord, neither is there any rock beside our God.

6th, From the testimony of the apostle, 1 Cor. 8.6. To us, says he, there is but one God.

7th, From what Christ said to one of the scribes, viz. the Lord our God is one Lord, Mark 12.39.

8th, Because God is a most absolute, and most perfect being, and so beyond all other things, one: John 10.29. Psalms 145.3. 147.5.

9th, Because this one blessed God is most absolutely sufficient, and furnished with infinite power, and wisdom, for the production, conversation, and ruling all things in heaven and earth.

10th, Because he is of all things without himself, the first and supreme cause, from which all the creatures visible or invisible, have their rise and beginning.

11th, It is evident, lastly, from the testimonies of the most wise heathens, who have been necessitated to acknowledge but one God only.

Quest. II. "Is God infinite in being and perfection?"

Yes; Job 11.7-9. 26.24.

Well then, do not the Vorstians, Socinians, and Anthropomorphitans err, who maintain, That God is finite in being, and perfection?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because God hath a being from himself, and all things have their dependence from him: And therefore there can be nothing by which he can be limited, Rom. 11.36.

2d, Because God is every where present, in heaven and beyond the heavens, Jer. 23.24. Isa. 66.1.

3d, Because the Scripture affirms, that the perfection of God is the highest, is unmeasurable, unchangeable, and infinitely great, beyond all creatures, John 11.7-9. Psalm 115.3. Job 26.14.

Quest. III. "Is the only living and true God, a most pure Spirit, invisible, without a body and parts?"

Yes; John 4.24. 1 Tim. 1.17. Deut. 4.15,16. Luke 24.39.

Well then, do not the Vorstians, Anthropomorphitans, and Socinians err, who maintain, God to have a body, and endued with parts, and an outward shape and form?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because God is the Father of spirits, Heb. 12.9.

2d, Because God is invisible, 1 Tim. 1.17.

3d, Because God is like to no bodily thing, nor can he be represented by any image, or corporeal likeness, Isa. 40.18. Acts 17.29.

Quest. IV. "Are there in the unity of the Godhead, three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity?"

Yes; 1 John 5.7. Matth. 3.16,17. Matt. 28.19. 2 Cor. 13.14.

Well then, do not the Arians and Socinians err, and others, Who deny the Godhead of the Son, and Holy Ghost?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Trithetiae err, Who deny the unity of the divine essence?

Yes.

Thirdly, Do not the Sabellians err, Who deny the real distinction of the persons?

Yes.

And lastly, Do not the Quakers err, who maintain, There are no persons in the Godhead?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the places of Scripture already cited.

2d, From the apostolical benediction in which the three persons of the Godhead are called upon expressly, 2 Cor. 13.14.

3d, From 1 Cor. 12.4-6. Where the three persons are named Spirit, Lord, God. And from John 15.26. But when the comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth.

4th, Because there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, 1 John 5.7. These three must either be three persons, or three gods. This last is the height of impossibility; therefore they must be three persons. here they are put to silence, and have nothing to reply. Such is the strength and power of truth, which is able to stop the mouths of the greatest rebels against religion and reason. But there is good ground for the word Person, Heb. 1.3. where Christ is said to be the express image or impression of the Father's person. Because the person of the Son, perfectly represents the person of the Father, as an impression doth the seal: wherefore he is also called the image of the invisible God. Col. 1.15. The Greek word is hypostasis, substance or person, whereby is understood, the person of the Father as distinct from the Son, and subsisting of himself, and in himself, and is, as the original of the person of the Son, by an eternal and ineffable generation. That there are three persons in the Godhead; it is farther evident,

1st, From all the epistles written to the seven churches of Asia. For, as may be gathered from Rev. 1.1. it is the Father that sends, it is the Son that gives John the commission, and it is the Holy Ghost in the close, that is mentioned as joint speaker.

2d, Because in that epistle written to Thyatira, there are three distinctly named, first, the Father and the Son, in these words, These things saith the Son of God. Next, there is named in the last verse of that second chapter, the Spirit, he that hath an ear let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

3d, Because in the beginning of that epistle to the church of Sardis, they are all three put together, These things, saith he, (viz. the Son) that hath the seven Spirits of God. Here God, that is the Father, is distinctly considered as another person. The seven Spirits are the Holy Ghost.

4th, Because these three persons are most fully and clearly distinguished in the fifth chapter. First, the Father sitting on the throne. Secondly, The Lamb, or the Son of God. And, Thirdly, The seven Spirits, or the Holy Ghost, so called from the pouring out of his gifts upon the churches, in that abundant manner, as if he were seven Spirits, or seven-fold Spirit.

It is evident also, that the Father, Son, and Spirit, are really distinct from one another, and are three persons. They are indeed, in respect of their essence, which is indivisibly communicable to them, one and the same God; but considered personally, they differ really, for the Father is not the Son, neither is he that sits upon the throne the Lamb: Neither the Father nor the Spirit were incarnate, but the Son, who died, and was buried, which cannot be said of none but of a person: It cannot be said that the Father died, or that the Spirit died. Next, Is not the Holy Ghost the Spirit of God, as the Son is the Son of God? And if that suppose a real distinct personality, this must do it also. Now, if the Father be God, and the Son be God, and the Spirit be God, who have one and the same divine nature and essence, indivisibly communicated to them; and so, if there be but one God, and yet these three really distinct, then they must be distinct persons, in respect of their personal properties, seeing they are persons, and distinct. The Son, as was said, is called the express image of the Father's person, which evidently shews, that the Father, considered as distinct from the Son, is a person, and subsists: If then thus it be, must not the Son, as distinct from the Father, and so lively and expressly representing his person, be a person also, having this from the Father? The same must be true likewise of the Holy Ghost, who is God equal with both, yet different from both; for he who proceedeth from the Father, and from the Son, must differ from the Father, and from the Son; as he who is begotten, must be distinct from him that begat him.

Some Quakers, either ignorantly or perversely, will have the word hypostasis, translated substance, as it is Heb. 11.1. and thus they read, Heb 1.3. The character or image of God's substance, which is to be understood of Christ, say they, not simply as God, but as man: but they might as well have said it signifies confident or confidence, because it is so translated 2 Cor. 9.4 and 2 Cor. 11.17. But they speak here consequentially to their own tenets, who in effect deny the Trinity, and all distinction between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, not only in words, but in very deed. The apostle in this place is proving Christ the Son of God, to be the lord and heir of all things; because God created the worlds by him, He is the brightness of his glory, the express image of his person, upholdeth all things by the word of his power. These titles are here given to the Son of God, as a creator, and a preserver of all things, which belong to him only, according to his divine nature: Therefore these titles must be understood of Christ, forasmuch as he is the eternal Son of God, and a light from the eternal light, of one essence and glory with the Father; nevertheless distinguished from the person of the Father, by whom the Father executes his operations, and shews his properties, even as the sun by its light doth shine.

Quest. V. "Is the Son of God of the same substance, power, and eternity with the Father?"

Yes; 1 John 5.20. Rom. 9.5. Isa. 9.6.

Well then, do not the Arians err, who maintain, The Son to be a creature, brought forth before the foundations of the world?

Yes.

Do not likewise the Socinians err, who maintain, The Son to have had no existence, before he was conceived in the womb of the virgin Mary?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, From the Scriptures above cited.

2d, Because the Son is omnipotent, the creator and preserver of all things, Rev. 1.18. Col. 1.16,17.

3d, Because he is omniscient, and the searcher of the heart, Mat. 9.3,4. John 2.25. and 21.17.

Quest. VI. "Is the Holy Ghost God?"

Yes; Acts 5.3. 1 Cor. 6.19,20. 1 Cor. 3.16,17.

Well then, do not the Macedonians, or Pneumatomachians, Arians, Socinians, and many of the Anabaptists err who maintain, The Holy Ghost to be a creature, as do the Macedonians, or a power, virtue, or efficacy of the Father, as many Socinians and others do?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because the Holy Ghost is to be worshipped as God, Mat. 28.19. 2 Cor. 13.14. Rev. 1.4.

2d, Because he is omniscient and knoweth all things, 1 Cor. 2.10,11.

3d, Because he is omnipotent, the maker, and preserver of all things, the worker of miracles, and it is he that sanctifies, and justifies the believers, Gen. 1.2. Psalm 33.6. Matth. 12.28. Compare Isa. 6.9. with Acts 28.25-27.

4th, Because Ananias is said to lie to the Holy Ghost, Acts 5.3. and v. 4 he is said not to lie to men, but to God.

5th, Because believers are said to be the temple of God, 1 Cor. 3.16,17. And they are said, 1 Cor. 6.19 to be the temple of the Holy Ghost; therefore the Holy Ghost is God, seeing to be the temple of God, and the temple of the Holy Ghost are the same.

6th, Because none can be properly sinned against but the true God; therefore the Holy Ghost is God, because many have been said to have sinned against the Holy Ghost. Matth. 12.31.

Quest. VII. "Doth not the Holy Ghost eternally proceed from the Father, and the Son?

Yes; John 15.26. Gal. 4.6.

Well then, doth not the Greek church err, who maintain, The Holy Ghost to proceed only from the Father?

Yes.

By what reasons are they confuted?

1st, Because he is sent by the Son, John 15.16. Acts 2.33.

2d, Because all things which are the Son's are the Father's except the personal properties by which they are distinguished; and all things are communicated from the Father to the Son, and consequently the Holy Ghost, John 16.13-15. Mat. 11.27. John 7.16.

3d, Because Christ gave to his apostles the Spirit by breathing it upon them, John 20.22. to shew that he proceeded from himself.

4th, Because he is the Spirit of the Son, no less than the Spirit of the Father: Gal. 4.6.

5th, Because if the Holy Ghost did not proceed from the Son, as truly as from the Father, he would not be a person really distinct from the Son which is contrary to John 14.16,17.

6th, Because it is said, John 16.14. He shall glorify me (namely, by his testimony, gifts, miracles) for he shall receive of mine, (that is, the doctrine of salvation which I have taught you, he shall also reveal it unto you, seeing he shall receive the same from me) and shall shew it unto you. And Rom. 8.9. He is called the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. It is said if any man hath not the spirit of Christ; that is, the same Spirit which in the foregoing verse is called the Spirit of God, namely the Father, and is here also called the Spirit of Christ, because he also proceeds from Christ, and is procured for us by Christ, John 14.26. and 16.7.