Introduction To The Trinity
The Writings Of Loraine
In this chapter we shall
attempt to set forth in
as clear language as
the basic truths which the Church holds concerning the doctrine of the
We shall first present the Scripture evidence on which the doctrine
then we shall present the credal statemerits and formulations that have
set forth by church councils and by individual thinkers as they have
themselves to the interpretation of that evidence through the two
years of the Christian era.
The doctrine of the Trinity is perhaps the most mysterious and difficult doctrine that is presented to us in the entire range of Scripture. Consequently we do not presume to give a full explanation of it. In the nature of the case we can know only as much concerning the inner nature of the Godhead as has been revealed to us in the Scriptures. The tri-personality of God is exclusively a truth of revelation, and one which lies outside the realm of natural reason. Its height and depth and length and breadth are immeasurable by reason of the fact that the finite is dealing with the Infinite. As well might we expect to confine the ocean within a tea-cup as to place a full explanation of the nature of God within the limits of our feeble human minds. It is not our purpose to engage in metaphysical subtleties, nor to speculate on the implications which may be drawn from this doctrine. We do hope, however, that under the guidance of the Holy Spirit we shall be enabled to set forth in a plain simple way, yet as fully as the limitations of our finite minds and language will permit, the truth concerning it, and to guard it against the errors and heresies which have prevailed at one time or another in the history of the Church. While we are not able fully to comprehend the Divine mind, we nevertheless have been created in the image of God and therefore have the right, within limits, to conceive of God according to the analogy of our own nature, and we should be able to grasp enough of this sublime revelation which God has been pleased to give concerning, Himself to make a considerable advance in our spiritual growth. Since in the study of this doctrine we are absolutely dependent on revelation (there being nothing else quite similar to or analogous with it in our own consciousness or in the material world), and since the subject of our study is transcendently sacred, that subject being the innermost nature of the infinitely righteous and transcendent God, our attitude should be that of disciples who, with true humility and reverence, are ready to receive implicitly whatever God has seen fit to reveal.
Since God is the Creator Preserver and final Disposer of all things, the One in whom we live and move and have our being, our knowledge of Him must be basic and fundamental to all our knowledge. In answer to the question, "What is God?", the Scriptures reveal Him to us, in the first place, as a rational and righteous Spirit, infinite in His attributes of wisdom, being, power, holiness, justice, goodness, and truth; and in the second place they reveal Him to us as One who exists eternally as three "Persons", these three Persons, however, being one in substance and existing in the most perfect unity of thought and purpose. It is evident, moreover, that if God does thus exist in three Persons, each of whom has His distinctive part in the works of creation, providence, redemption and grace, that fact governs His activity in all spheres of His work and, consequently, the doctrine which treats of the nature of His Person must seriously affect all true theology and philosophy. Doctrines vital to the Christian system, such as those of the Deity and Person of Christ, the Incarnation, the Atonement, etc., are so inextricably interwoven with that of the Tri-unity of God that they cannot be properly understood apart from it.
We should notice that the doctrine of the Trinity is the distinctive mark of the Christian religion, setting it apart from all the other religions of the world. Working without the benefit of the revelations made in Scripture, men have, it is true, arrived at some limited truths concerning the nature and Person of God. The pagan religions, as well as all philosophical speculations, are based on natural religion and can, therefore, rise to no higher conception than that of the unity of God. In some systems we find monotheism with its belief in only one God. In others we find polytheism with its belief in many separate gods. But none of the pagan religions, nor any of the systems of speculative philosophy have ever arrived at a trinitarian conception of God. The fact of the matter is that apart from supernatural revelation there is nothing in human consciousness or experience which can give man the slightest clue to the distinctive God of the Christian faith, the triune, incarnate, redeeming, sanctifying God. Some of the pagan religions have set forth triads of divinities, such as, for instance, the Egyptian triad of Osiris, Isis and Horus, which is somewhat analogous to the human family with father, mother and child; or the Hindu triad of Brahma, Vishnu and Schiva, which in the cycle of pantheistic evolution personifies the creative, preservative and destructive powers of nature; or the triad set forth by Plato, of goodness, intellect and will,-which are not examples of true and proper tri-personality, not real persons who can be addressed and worshipped, but only personifications of the faculties or attributes of God. None of these systems have anything in common with the Christian doctrine of the Trinity except the notion of "threeness".
Before undertaking the more detailed study of the doctrine of the Trinity it may be well to remind ourselves that man's knowledge of God has been progressive. The most general revelation of the existence of God has been given through nature and is therefore common to all men. The existence of God is an intuitive truth universally accepted by the unprejudiced mind. Man knows himself to be dependent and responsible, and therefore posits the One on whom he is dependent and to whom he is responsible. He attributes to this One in an eminent degree all of the good qualities which he finds in himself, and thus comes to know God as a personal Spirit, infinite, eternal, and perfect in His attributes.
The Second stage in the revelation concerning the nature and attributes of God was that given through the Old Testament period. There a great advance is made over the revelation given through man's intuition and through nature, and God is disclosed as particularly the God of grace and the redeemer of sinners. The third stage, the one in which at present we are particularly interested, is that given in the New Testament in which God is represented as existing in a trinity of Persons, each of whom performs a distinctive part in the works of creation, providence, and redemption. As Dr. Warfield has pointed out:
"The elements of the plan of salvation are rooted in the mysterious nature of the Godhead, in which there coexists a trinal distinction of persons with absolute unity of essence; and the revelation of the Trinity was accordingly incidental to the execution of this plan of salvation, in which the Father sent the Son to be the propitiation for sin, and the Son, when He returned to the glory which He had with the Father before the world was, sent the Spirit to apply His redemption to men. The disclosure of this fundamental fact of the divine nature, therefore, lagged until the time had arrived for the actual working out of the long-promised redemption; and it was accomplished, first of all in fact rather than in word, by the actual appearance of God the Son on earth and the subsequent manifestations of the Spirit, who was sent forth to act as His representative in His absence." (Studies in Theology, p. 113)
We believe that the cosmological. teleological, ontological, and moral arguments for the existence of God are valid for any one with an open and unprejudiced mind. Perhaps they will not convince a rationalist or an atheist, but at present we are not particularly concerned with that class of persons. That theism alone is capable of solving the riddle of the universe is the firm conviction of present day scientific and philosophical thought as we have it set forth in the writings of the most outstanding leaders in these fields, such as Eddington, jeans, Millikan, Whitehead, Hocking, Brightman, etc. The materialistic concept which held almost undisputed sway a few decades ago has been replaced with the idea that behind all that we see there is a personal God who is the Creator and Sustainer of the universe.
The present writer assumes that his readers are convinced theists. Others could hardly be expected to have an interest in theology, much less to be concerned about the doctrine of the Trinity. The psalmist gave the divine appraisal of Atheism in the words, "The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God" (xiv. 1). As a recent writer has pointed out, Atheism is "the very quintessence of absurdity, folly raised to the nth degree. In view of the manifold proofs of His power and wisdom on every hand, it is hard to see how any open mind can deny the existence of a Supreme Being who rules over all. To maintain that this far-flung universe is the result of an accidental juxtaposition of atoms, a fortuitous confluence of cosmic forces, is a hypothesis too nonsensical for refutation. As has been pointed out more than once, as well expect a million monkeys banging away on typewriters accidentally to produce a Paradise Lost. An atheistic explanation of the origin of the world (the sum total of all that is) calls for an immeasurably greater credulity than the tenets of Theism. If there be no God the cosmos is a hopeless riddle" (Dr. C. Norman Bartlett, The Triune God, p. 36).
But while it is so widely recognized that Theism alone offers an adequate explanation of the universe, the fact remains that many theists who firmly believe in the existence of a personal God deny just as strongly that there is a plurality of persons in the Godhead as is set forth in the trinitarian faith. In the Christian doctrine of the Trinity they see only tritheism, or some one of the myriad varieties of polytheism which have been so common in both ancient and modern times. They look upon it as an absurdity or as a contradiction of terms, and are never tired of asserting that if God is one He cannot be three. But when we give more careful thought to the theistic problem we find that the absurdity and irrationality lie on their side of the fence, and that the conception of God as an eternally lonely, solitary person is utterly out of the question. And while we do not go so far as to say that the personality of God necessarily implies the doctrine of the Trinity, we do believe that the personal traits of love, honour, fellowship, trust, sympathy. etc., cannot flower forth in their full beauty and fragrance unless there are objective personal relationships, and that this is true of Deity as well as of humanity.
The theory that God is superpersonal is, of course, an absurdity. In the nature of the case Divine personality is an infinitely greater thing than human personality ; but the only alternative to a personal God is an impersonal God. And when we assert that God is impersonal we assert the primary tenet of atheism. If God exists, lie must be personal. We cannot worship the Principle of the Absolute, nor hold communion with a Cosmic Power: and to assert that God is superpersonal is but to deceive ourselves with a high-sounding phrase.
Statement of the Doctrine of Trinity
Assuming that Theism is the accepted form of belief. and that God is personal, we would state the doctrine of the Trinity under the following heads:
One of the most common objections alleged against the doctrine of the Trinity is that it involves tritheism, or a belief in three Gods. The fact of the matter, however. is that it stand-, unalterably opposed to tritheism as well as to every other form of polytheism. Scripture, reason and conscience are in perfect agreement that there is but one self-existent, eternal, supreme Being in whom all of the divine attributes or perfections inhere and from whom they cannot be separated. That both the Old and the New Testament do teach the unity of God is clearly set forth in the following verses:
" Hear, 0 Israel: Jehovah our God is one Jehovah" (Deut. 6:4). "Thus saith Jehovah, the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no God" (Isa. 44:6). The Decalogue, which is the foundation of the moral and religious code of Christianity, as well as of Judaism, has as its first and greatest commandment, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exod. 20:3). "I and the Father are one," said Jesus (John 10:30). "Thou believest that God is one; thou doest well" (Jas. 2:19). "We know that no idol is anything in the world, and that there is no God but one" (I Cor. 8:4). There is but "one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all, and through all, and in all" (Eph. 4:5, 6). "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end" (Rev. 22: 13). From Genesis to Revelation God is declared to be one.
That the universe is a unit is the settled conclusion of modern science and philosophy; and with this, of course, goes the corollary that the God who created it and who rules it is One. Astronomers tell us, for instance, that the same principles which govern in our solar system are also found in the millions of stars which are trillions of miles away. Physicists analyze the light that comes from the sun and from the distant stars and tell us that not only are the same elements, such as iron, carbon, oxygen, etc., which are found on the earth also found on them, Nit that these elements are found in practically the same proportion as here. From the law of gravitation we learn that every material object in the universe attracts every other material object with a force which is directly proportional to their masses and inversely, proportional to the square of the distance between their centers. Hence every grain of sand in the desert and on the sea-shore is linked up with every sun in the universe. The sluggish earth mounts upward to meet the falling snowflake. The microscope reveals marvels just as wonderful as those revealed by the telescope, and everywhere it is the same unified system.
Certainly the Unitarians have no monopoly on the doctrine of the unity of God. Trinitarians hold this just as definitely. The unity of God is one of the basic postulates of theism, and no system can possibly be true which teaches otherwise.
II. While God In His Innermost Nature Is One, He, Nevertheless, Exists As Three Persons
The best concise definition of the doctrine of the Trinity, so far as we are aware, is that found in the Westminster Shorter Catechism: "There are three persons within the Godhead; the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one God, the same in substance. equal in power and glory." We would prefer, however, to use the term "Spirit" rather than "Ghost," since a ghost is commonly understood to be a spirit that once had a body but lost it, and the Holy Spirit has never possessed a body of any kind.
We have seen that the Scriptures teach that there is but one true and living God. They teach with equal clearness that this one God exists as three distinct Persons, as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit:
(a) The Father is God: "To us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things" (I Cor. 8:6). "Paul, an apostle . . . through Jesus Christ, and God the Father" (Gal. 1: 1). "There is . . . one God and Father of all" (Eph. 4:6). "At that season Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, 0 Father, Lord of heaven and earth ... " (Matt. 11 :25). "For him (the Son) the Father, even God. hath sealed" (John 6:27). "According to the foreknowledge of God the Father" (I Pet. 1:2). "That every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:11 ). "I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God" (John 20:17). "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and truth" (John 4:23). Jesus prayed to God the Father (Mark 14:36; John 11:41; 17:11, etc.).
(b) The Son is God: "Christ ... who is over all, God blessed for ever" (Rom. 9:5). "For in Him (Christ) dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Col. 2:9). "Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God" (John 20:28). "1 and the Father are one" (John 10:30). "Looking for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ" (Titus 2:13). "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God" (Matt. 16:16). Christ assumed power over the Sabbath, and "called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God" (John 5:18). He assumed the prerogatives of God in forgiving sins (Mark 2:5). "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God" (John 1:1).
The attributes which can be ascribed only to God are ascribed to Christ: Holiness-"Thou art the Holy One of God" (John 6:69) ; "Him who knew no sin," (II Cor. 5:21) ; "Which of you convicteth me of sin?" (John 8:46) ; "Holy, guileless, undefiled, separate from sinners" (Heb. 7:26). Eternity-"In the beginning was the Word" (John 1:1) ; "Before Abraham was born, I am" (John 8:58) ; "But of the Son he saith, Thy throne 0 God, is forever and ever" (Heb. I : 8) ; "The glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5). Life - "In Him was life" (John 1:4) ; "I am the way, and the truth, and the life: no one cometh unto the Father but by me" (John 14:6) ; "I am the resurrection and the life" (John 11:25). Immutability-"Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and to-day, yea and for ever" (Heb. 13:8), "They (the heavens) shall perish; but thou continuest.... They shall be changed: but thou art the same" (Heb. I : 11, 12). Omnipotence-"All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth" (Matt. 28:18) ; "The Lord God, who is and who was and who is to come. the Almighty" (Rev, 1:8). Omniscience-"Thou knowest all things" (John 16:30) ; "Jesus knowing their thoughts" (Matt. 9:4) ; "Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray Him"(John 6:64) ; "In whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden" (Col. 2:3). Omnipresence-" I am with you always" (Matt. 28:20) ; "The fulness of him that filleth all in all" (Eph. 1:23). Creation-"All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made" (John 1 :3) ; "The world was made through him" (John 1:10) ; "For in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him; and he is before all things, and in him all things consist" (Col. 1 :16, 17) ; "Upholding all things by the word of his power" (Heb. 1:3). Raising the dead-"And he (God the Father) gave him (Christ the Son) authority to execute judgment ... for the hour cometh in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment" (John 5:27-29). judgment of all men--"But when the Son of man shall come in his glory, and all the angels with him, then shall he sit on the throne of his glory: and before him shall be gathered all the nations: and he shall separate them one from another, as the shepherd separateth the sheep from the goats; and he shall set the sheep on his right hand, and the goats on the left. Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. . . . And he shall say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire, which is prepared for the devil and his angels.... And these shall go away into eternal punishment: but the righteous into eternal life" (Matt. 25:31-46). Prayer and worship are to be directed to Christ-"If ye shall ask anything in my name, that will I do" (John 14:14) ; "He was parted from them, and was carried up into heaven. And they worshipped him" (Luke 24:51, 52) ; "Stephen, calling upon the Lord, and saying, Lord Jesus, receive my spirit" (Acts 7:59) ; all are to "honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He that honoreth not the Son honoreth not the Father that sent him" (John 5:23) ; Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved" (Acts 16:31) ; "Let all the angels of God worship him" (Heb. 1 :6) ; "That in the name of Jesus every knee should bow ... and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father" (Phil. 2:10, 11) ; "Our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ" (II Pet. 3:18) ; "Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory for ever and ever" (Heb. 13:21; and when we compare these verses with statements such as we have in Isaiah, "Look unto me and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth; for I am God, and there is none else" (45:22), and Jeremiah, "Thus saith Jehovah, Cursed is the man that trusteth in man and maketh flesh his arm" (17:5), we are faced with this dilemma: either the Christian doctrine of the Trinity must be true, or the Scriptures are self-contradictory; either the Scriptures recognize more Gods than one, or Christ, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit is that one God.
All of these ascriptions of holiness, eternity, life, immutability, omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, creation, providence, raising the dead, judgment of all men, prayer and worship due to Christ, most clearly teach His Deity. Such attitudes of mind if directed toward a creature would be idolatrous.
(c) The Holy Spirit is God: "Peter said, Ananias, why hath Satan filled thy heart to lie to the Holy Spirit? . . . Thou has not lied unto men, but unto God" (Acts 5:3,4) ; "For who among men knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of the man, which is in him? even so the things of God none knoweth, save the Spirit of God" (I Cor. 2:11) ; "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me" (John 15:26). In the Baptismal Formula, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt. 28:19), and in the Apostolic Benediction, "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all" (11 Cor. 13:14), the Holy Spirit is placed on a plane of absolute equality with the Father and the Son as Deity and is regarded equally with them as the source of all power and blessing.
There are many, even among professedly Christian people. who have no higher conception of the Holy Spirit than that of an impersonal, mysterious, supernatural power or influence of God. It is true that in the Old Testament, where the emphasis was upon the unity of God, the references to the Spirit, while not incapable of being applied to a distinct person, were more generally understood to designate simply God's power or influence. But in the more advanced revelation of the New Testament the distinct personality of the Holy Spirit is clearly seen. No longer can He be looked upon as merely a divine power or influence, but as a divine Person. Some people, even among those in the Christian Churches, because they are very thoughtless, speak of the Holy Spirit as it, when a little reflection would show them that the proper term is He or Him.
That the Holy Spirit is a Person is clearly taught in the following verses: "The Spirit said unto Philip, Go near, and join thyself to this chariot" (Acts 8:29). "The Spirit said unto him (Peter), Behold, three men seek thee. But arise, and get thee down. go with them. nothing doubting: for I have sent them" (Acts 10:19, 20). "The Holy Spirit said, separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them" (Acts 13:2). "The Holy Spirit shall teach you in that very hour what ye ought to say" (Luke 12:12). "When lie, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself ; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you" (John 16:13, 14). "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth: whom the world cannot receive; for it beholdeth him not. neither knoweth him: ye know him; for he abideth with you, and shall be in you" (John 14:16, 17),-here the Holy Spirit is called a "Comforter" (marginal reference Advocate), that is, one called to stand by our side as our Guide, Teacher, Instructor, Sponsor; and in the nature of the case, therefore, He must be a Person. In a parallel passage Christ is similarly spoken of,-"We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous" (I John 2:1 ) "The spirit I Himself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered" (Rom. 8:26). "Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God" (Eph. 4:30). "He that hath an ear, let him bear what the Spirit saith to the churches" (Rev. 2:17). "Every sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: but the blasphemy against the Spirit shall not be forgiven. And whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever shall speak against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, nor in that which is to come (Matt. 12:31, 32)-the language here used implies that it is impossible to commit a sin against a more divine personage than the Holy Spirit, that of all possible sins the sin against the Holy Spirit is the worst, both in its nature and consequences, and thus implies His eternal dignity and Deity.
Words which in the Old Testament are ascribed to God are in the New Testament more specifically said to have been spoken by the Holy Spirit,-compare Jer. 31 :33, 34 with Heb. 10: 15-17, Ps. 9 -,:7-11 with Heb. 3:711 ; Isa. 6:9, 10 with Acts 28:25-28. In the Old Testament we read that the Holy Spirit brought order out of the primeval chaos (Gen. 1 :2) ; and He strove to lead the ante-diluvians in the ways of righteousness (Gen. 6:3) ; He equipped certain men to become prophets (Num. 11 :26, 29) ; He instructed the Israelites as a people (Neh. 9:20) ; He came upon Isaiah and equipped him to be a prophet (61 : 1 ), and caused Ezekiel to go and preach to those of the captivity (3 :12, 15 ). In the New Testament the miracle of the virgin birth of Christ was wrought through His power (Luke 1 ;35) ; He descended on Jesus at the baptism and equipped Him for the public ministry (Matt. 3:16) ; He was promised as a Comforter and Teacher to the disciples (John 16:7-13) ; He came upon the disciples on the day of Pentecost and equipped them to be world missionaries (Acts 2:1-42) ; He kept Paul from going in one direction and sent him in another (Acts 16:6-10) ; He equips different individuals with different gifts and talents (I Cor. 12:4-31) ; He performs the supernatural work of regenerating the souls of men (Titus 3:5, John 3:5) ; He inspired the prophets and apostles so that what they spoke or wrote in God's name was truly His word to the people (II Pet. 1 :20, 21) ; in the works of regeneration and sanctification He applies to the heart of each of the Lord's people the objective redemption which was wrought out by Christ, and in general He directs the affairs of the advancing Church. He is thus set forth as the Author of order and beauty in the physical world, and of faith and holiness in the spiritual world.
Throughout the Scriptures the Holy Spirit is thus set forth as a distinct Person, with a mind, will and power of His own. Baptism is administered in His name. He is constantly associated with two other Persons, the Father and the Son, whose distinct personalities are recognized,-a phenomenon which could lead only to confusion if He too were not a distinct Person. The personal pronouns, "He," "Him," "I," and "Me," are applied to Him, pronouns which can be used intelligently only when applied to a person. They occur so repeatedly through the prose narratives and cannot be set aside as a tendency to personify an impersonal force. That two and two make four does not appear more clear and conclusive than that the Holy Spirit is a living Agent, working with consciousness, will and power.
After the personality of the Holy Spirit is established there are but few who will deny His Deity. It is certain that He is not a creature, and consequently those who admit His personality accept His Deity readily enough. Most of the heretical sects that have maintained that Christ was a mere man have, in accordance with that, maintained that the Spirit was only a power or influence. This was the opinion held by the Gnostics and Socinians, as well as that held by present-day Unitarians and rationalists.
That there should be any doubt at all concerning the personality of the Spirit may seem strange; and yet, as Dr. A. H. Strong has pointed out:
"It is noticeable that in Scripture there is no obtrusion of the Holy Spirit's personality, as if He (the One who inspired the prophets as they wrote) desired to draw attention- to Himself. The Holy Spirit shows not Himself, but Christ Like John the Baptist, He is a mere voice, and so an example to Christian preachers, who are themselves 'made . . . sufficient as ministers . . . of the spirit' (11 Cor.3:6). His leading is therefore often unperceived; He so joins Himself to us that we infer His presence only from the new and holy exercises of our own minds; He continues to work in us even when His presence is ignored and His purity is outraged by our sins" (Systematic Theology, p. 324).
III The Terms "Father "Son" And "Holy Spirit" Designate Distinct Persons Who Are Objective To Each Other
The terms Father, Son and Spirit do not merely designate the different relations which God assumes toward His creatures. They are not analogous to the terms Creator, Preserver and Benefactor, which do express such relations, but are the proper names of different subjects who are distinct from one another as one person is distinct from another. That this is true is clear from the following personal relations which they bear toward each other:
(a) They mutually use the pronouns I, thou, he and him when speaking to or of each other. "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear ye him" (Matt. 17:5). "Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that the Son may glorify thee" (John 17:1). "1 came out from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father" (John 16:28). "When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself: but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come" (John 16:13).
(b) The Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father. The Spirit glorifies the Son. "The Father loveth the Son, and hath given all things into his hand" (John 3:35). "I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love" (John 15:10). "He (the Holy Spirit) shall glorify me; for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you" (John 16:14).
(c) The Son prays to the Father. "And now, Father, glorify thou me with thine own self with the glory which I had with thee before the world was" (John 17:5). "And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may be with you for ever" (John 14:16).
(d) The Father sends the Son, and the Father and the Son send the Holy Spirit who acts as their Agent. "He that receiveth you receiveth me, and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me" (Matt. 10:40). "As thou didst send me into the world" (John 17:18). "And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ (John 17:3). "But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you" (John 14:26). "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 go, I will send him unto you" (John 16:7).
Thus we see that the Persons within the Godhead are so distinct that each can address the others, each can love the others, the Father sends the Son, the Father and the Son send the Spirit, the Son prays to the Father, and we can pray to each of them. They act and are acted upon as subject and object, and each has a particular work to perform. We say they are distinct persons, for a person is one who can say I, who can be addressed as thou, and who can act and be the object of action.
doctrine of the Trinity, then, is but the synthesis of these facts.
have said these three things,-that there is but one God, that the
the Son and the Spirit is each God, and that the Father and the Son and
Spirit is each a distinct Person,-we have enunciated the doctrine of
Trinity in its fulness. This is the form in which it is found in the
Scriptures, and it is also the form in which it has entered into the