But as it is impossible to be truly Religious, unless we know God, so is it very difficult so to know him, as to become truly Religious. It is true that there is such a Supreme Being in and over the World, as we call God; the the very Light of Nature teaches, and Reason itself demonstrates it to be most certain and undeniable. But what he is, and what Apprehensions we ought to have of this glorious Being, none but himself is able to describe and manifest unto us, so that our Conceptions of him are still to be regulated by the Discoveries that he hath made of himself to us; without which, though we may have some confused Notions of him, yet we can never so know him; as to serve him faithfully, and, by consequence, be truly Religious.
Hence therefore if we would know God, we mus search the Scriptures of the Old and New Testament, wherein God hath been pleased most clearly to manifest and discover himself unto us: I say, both the Old and New Testament; for otherwise, our Knowledge of God may be very Defective and Erroneous, there being several things which God, in the New Testament, hath most plainly revealed of himself, which in the Old Testament are more darkly and obscurely delivered to us. As for Example, The great Mystery of the Trinity; though it be frequently intimated in the Old Testament, yet it is an hard matter rightly to understand it without the New: Insomuch, that the Jews, tho' they have had the Law above three Thousand, and the Prophets above two Thousand Years amongst them, yet, to this Day, they could never yet make this an Article of Faith; but they, as well as the Mahometans, still assert, That God is only one in Person as well as Nature: Whereas nothing can be more plain from the New Testament, than that there is but One God, and yet there are Three Persons, every one of which is that One God: And so that though God be but One in Nature, yet he is Three in Persons; and so Three Persons, as yet to be but One in Nature.
And, verily, although there was no other Text in all the Scripture, whereon to ground this Fundamental Article of our Christian Faith; that of Mat. xxviii.19. Go ye therefore and teach all Nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is a sufficient Foundation for it; there being nothing, I think, necessary to be believed concerning the glorious Trinity, but what may easily and naturally be deduced from these Words, which were spoken, it is true, by our Saviour before his Ascension, but I question whether they were throughly understood, till after the Holy Ghost was come down to Earth. It being only by God himself that we can come to the true Knowledge of him, much less are we able rightly to apprehend, and firmly to believe Three Persons in the Godhead, without the assistance of one of them, that is, of the Holy Ghost; by whom the other two are wont to work; he being the Issue, as I may so say, and Breath of both. Hence it is, that the Wisdom of the Church, for these many Centuries, hath thought fit to Order, That this great Mystery be celebrated the next Lord's Day after the Commemoration of the Holy Spirit's coming down upon the Disciples, and in them, upon all true Believers; both because all Three Persons have now manifested themselves to Mankind; the Father in his Creation of them, the Son in his Conversing with them, and the Holy Ghost by his coming down upon them: And also to shew, that it is only by the Grace and Assistance of God's Spirit, that we can rightly believe in this Glorious and Incomprehensible Mystery, which our Saviour hath so clearly revealed to us in these Words, Go ye, and teach all Nations, &c.
For the opening of which, we must know that our Saviour in the foregoing Verse, acquaints his Disciples, that now all Power was given him in Heaven and in Earth; by vertue whereof, he here issueth forth his Commission to his Apostles, and, in them, to all that should succeed them, to supply his room, and be his Vicegerents upon Earth, he being now to reside in his Kingdom of Heaven. For, saith he, All Power is given to me in Heaven and Earth; Go ye therefore and teach all Nations: As he also saith elsewhere to them, As my Father hath sent me, even so send I you, John xx.21. as if he should have said, My Father having committed to me all Power and Authority both in Heaven and Earth, 1 therefore authorize and commissionate, yea, and command you to go and teach all Nations, &c.
This therefore is part of the Commission which our Lord and Master left with his Apostles immediately before he parted from them. Those being the last words which St. Matthew records him to have spoken upon Earth; and therefore they must needs contain matter of very great Importance to his Church; and it must needs highly concern us all to understand the true Meaning and Purport of them. Which that we may the better do, in treating of them, I shall observe the same Method and Order as he did in speaking them.
First, Therefore, here is the Work he sends his Apostles about; Go ye therefore and teach, ?Poreuthentes oun matheteusate, which more properly may be rendred, Go ye therefore and disciple all Nations, or, make the Persons of all Nations to be my Disciples, that is, Christians. That this is the true meaning of the words, is plain and clear, from the right notion of the word here used, matheteuo, which coming from mathetes, a Disciple, it always signifieth either to be, or to make Disciples, wheresoever it occurs in all the Scriptures, as matheteutheis. Mat. xiii.52. which is Instructed, say we, the Syriakc better, [image of script] that is, made a Disciple, a tlmyd that is, not only a Scholar or Learner, but a Follower or Professor of the Gospel, here called the Kingdom of Heaven. Ana then place where this Word occurrs is, Matt. xxvii.57. ematheteuthe to Iesou, where we rightly translate it, was Jesus Disciple. Another place is, Acts xiv.21. kai matheteusantes hikanous, which we improperly render, having taught many, the Syriack and Arabick, more properly, having made many Disciples. And these are all the places in the New Testament where this Word is used, except those I am now considering, where all the Eastern Languages render it according to its notation, Disciple. The Persian paraphrastically expounds it, Go ye and reduce all Nations to my Faith and Religion. So that whosoever pleads for any other Meaning of these words, do but betray their own Ignorance in the Original Languages, and, by consequence, in the true Interpretation of Scripture.
I should not have insisted so long upon this, but that the false Exposition of thee words hath occasioned that no less dangerous than numerous Sect of Anabaptists in the World; for the old Latin translation having it, Euntes ergo docete omnes Gentes; hence the German, where Anabaptism first began; and all the modern Translations render it as we do, Go ye therefore and teach Nations, baptizing them. From whence it was supposed by some that were not able to dive into the true Meaning of the Words, that our Saviour here commanded, that none should be baptized, but such as were first taught the Principles of the Christian Religion, which is the greatest Mistake imaginable; for our Saviour doth not speak one word of Teaching before Baptism, but only after, ver.20. didaskontes. his Meaning being only that bin Apostles should go about the World, and perswade all Nations to forsake their former Idolatries and Superstitions, and to turn Christians, or the Disciples of Jesus Christ; and such as were so should be baptized. And therefore Infant-Baptism is so far from being forbidden, that it is expresly commanded in these words; for all Disciples are here commanded to be baptized; nay, they are therefore commanded to be baptized, because Disciples. And seeing all Disciples are to be baptized, so are Infants too, the Children of Believing Parents, for they are Disciples as well as any other, or as well as their Parents themselves: For all that are in Covenant with God must needs be Disciples: But that Children were always esteemed in Covenant with God, is plain in that God himself commanded the Covenant should be sealed to them, as it was all along by Circumcision. But that Children are Disciples as well as others, our Saviour puts it out of all doubt, saying of Children, of such is the kingdom of God, Mark x.14. And therefore they must needs be Disciples, unless such as are not Disciples can belong to the Kingdom of God, which a Man must be strangely distemper'd in his Brain before he can so much as fancy.
And besides, that Children, so long as Children, are looked upon as part of their Parents; and therefore as their Parents are, so are they: If the Parents be Heathen, so are the Children; if the Parents be Jews, so are the Children; if the Parents be Christian, so are the Children too; nay, if either of the Parents be a Christian or Disciple, the Children of both are denominated from the better part, and so looked upon as Christians too, as is plain, 1 Cor. vii.14. But now are they holy, that is, in a Federal or Covenant-sense they are in Covenant with God; they are Believers, Christians, or Disciples, because one of their Parents is so.
Now teeing Children are Disciples as well as others, and our Saviour here commands all Disciples to be baptized, it necessarily follows, that Children must be baptized too. So that the Opinion which asserts, That Children ought not to be baptized, is grounded upon a meer Mistake, and upon gross Ignorance of the true meaning of the Scripture, and especially of this place, which is most ridiculously mistaken for a Prohibition, it being rather a Command for Infant Baptism.
But I must crave the Reader's Excuse for this Disgression from the Matter principally intended, tho' I could not tell how to avoid it; nothing being more needful than to rescue the words if our blessed Saviour from those false Glosses, and horrible Abuses which these last Ages have put upon them, especially it coming so directly in my way as this did.
Secondly,, Here is the extent of their Commission, which is very large indeed, not being directed to some few particular Persons, but to Nations; nor to some particular Nations only, but to all Nations, Go ye therefore and disciple all Nations; or, all the World, as it is, Mark xvi.15. This was that which the Prophet Isaiah, or rather God by him, foretells, Isaiah xlix.6. which our Saviour himself items to have respect unto, Luke xxiv.46, 47. The meaning whereof, in brief, is this, That though the Jews hitherto had been the only People of God, and none but they admitted into Covenant with him, now the Gentiles also are to be brought in, and made Confederates or Copartners with them in the Covenant of Grace; that the Partition-Wall being now broke down, the Gospel is to be preached to all other Nations, as well as the Jewish; Christ being now come to be a light to lighten the Gentiles, as well as the glory of his People Israel.
But though the words of the Commission be so clear to this purport, yet the Apostles themselves understood it not, till God had interpreted it from Heaven to St. Peter, shewing him in a Vision, that he should call no Man common or unclean, Acts x.28. From which time forward, he, with the rest of the Apostles, observed their Commission exactly in preaching to the Gentiles as well as the Jews. And this was one End wherefore the Holy Ghost came down amongst them, even to enable them to do what their Master had commanded them. For he had here commanded them to preach unto all Nations, but that they could not do, unless they could speak all Languages, which therefore the Holy Ghost enabled them do, Acts ii.4, 5. which also is clear demonstration of the the true Meaning and Purport of these words: For there was no necessity that the Spirit should teach the Apostles all Languages, but that the Son had first enjoined them to preach unto all Nations.
Thirdly, Hence is the manner whereby they are to admit all Nations into the Church of Christ, or into the Christian Religion, by baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and og the Holy Ghost. For the opening whereof, we must know that Baptism was a Rite in common use amongst the Jews before our Saviour's Time, by which they were wont to admit Proselytes into their Religion, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, or of God. A little before our Saviour's appearance in the World, John Baptist being sent toprepare the way for him, baptized the Jews themselves; As many as came unto him in the Name of the Messiah to come, which was called, the Baptism of Repentance. I indeed Baptize you, says he, with Water, to Repentance; but he that comes after me, is mightier than I, Mat. iii.11. But when our Saviour was to go to Heaven, he left Orders with his Apostles to make Disciples; or, admit all Nations into the Religion which he had preached, confirmed with Miracles, and sealed with his own Blood, by baptizing them in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, which Form of Baptism, questionless, his Apostles faithfully observed all along, as may be gathered also from Acts xix.2, 3. where we may observe, how when they said, they had not so much as heard of an Holy Ghost; he wondring at that, asked them, Unto what then were ye baptized? plainly intimating, that if they had been baptized aright, according to Christ's Institution, they could not but have heard of the Holy Ghost, because they had been baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; but v.5. as also Acts ii.38, c. viii.16. we read of Baptism administred in the Name of the Lord Jesus. From whence some have thought, that the Apostles baptized only the Gentiles, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and the Holy Ghost but the Jews in the Name of the Lord Jesus only; because they believing in the Father already, if they were but baptized in the Name of Jesus, and so testifyed their Belief, that he was the Messiah, they could not but believe in his Spirit too; but this Expression of baptizing in the Name of the Lord Jesus, seems to me rather to intimate that Form of Baptism which the Lord Jesus instituted: for doubtless, the Apostle observed the Precepts of our Lord better than so, as to do it one Way, when he had commanded it to be done another; and baptized only in the Name of Jesus, when he had enjoined them to baptize in the Name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
Neither did the Church ever esteem that Baptism valid, which was not administred exactly according to the Institution, in the Name of all the Three Persons; which the Primitive Christians were so strict in the observance of, that it was injoyned, that all Persons to be baptized should be plunged three times into the Water, first at the name of the Father, and then at the name of the Son, and lastly, at the name of the holy Ghost; so that every Person might be distinctly nominated, and so our Saviour's Institution exactly observed, in the Administration of this Sacrament.
Hence also it was, That all Persons to be baptized; were always required, either with their own Mouths, if adult, or if Infants, by their Sureties, to make a publick Confession of their Faith in the Three Persons, into whose Names they were to be baptized: For this indeed was always looked upon as the Sum and Substance of the Christian Religion, to believe in God the Father, in god the Son, and in god the Holy Ghost, and they who believed in these Three Persons, were still reputed Christians; and they who did not, were esteemed Infidels or Hereticks.
Yea, and our Saviour himself hath sufficiently declared how necessary it is for us to believe this great Mystery; as also how essential it is to be Christian, seeing that he requires no more in order to our Initiation into his Church, but only that we be baptized in the Name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. In which Words we may observe,
First, A Trinity of Persons, into whose Names we are baptized, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: This is that Mystery of Mysteries which is too high for Humane Understandings to conceive, but not too great for a divine Faith to believe, even that although there be but One God, there are Three Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, every one of which is that One and the self-same God; and therefore it is, that Baptism is here commanded to be administred in the Name of all three.
Now to confirm our Faith in this great Mystery, whereinto we were all baptized, I shall endeavour to shew; in few terms, what Grounds we have in Scripture to believe it. For which end we must know, that though this Mystery hath received great Light, by the rising of the Son of Righteousness upon the World, yet it did not lie altogether undiscovered before, yea, from the very Foundation of the World, the Church, in all Ages, hath had sufficient ground whereupon to build their faith on this great and Fundamental Truth: For in the very Creation of the World, he that created it is called, 'lch in the plural Number: And in the Creation of Man, he said, Let us make Man in our own Image; from whence, though not a Trinity, yet a Plurality of Persons is plainly manifest; yea, in the Beginning of the World too, we find both Father, Son and Spirit concurring in the making of it.
For, First, It is said, that God Created Heaven and Earth, and then, that the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the Waters, Gen. i.2. There are Two Persons, God, and the Spirit of God. And then we read how God made the World by his Word: he said let there be light, and there was light. From which Expression, St. John himself concludes, That all Things were made by the Son of God, or his Word, Joh. i.3. and so does St. Paul, Col. i.16.
Thus we read afterwards, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his Word by my Tongue, 2 Samuel xxiii.2. where we have Jehovah, the Spirit of Jehovah, and the Word of Jehovah, plainly and distinctly set down. As also in Psal. xxxiii.6. and Isai. xlii.1. where there is the Lord speaking of his Son, and saying, That he will put his Spirit upon him: And this also seems to be the Reason, why the Holy Angels, when they praise God,. say, Holy, holy, holy Lord of Host, Isaiah vi.3. Revelations iv.8. saying, Holy thrice, in reference to the Three Persons they Adore.
Thus we might discover this Truth in the Old Testament, but in the New we can scarce look over it: For when Jesus was baptized, Matth. iii.16. had we, who know nothing but by our Senses, been present at this time with Jesus at Jordan, our very Senses would have conveyed this Truth to our Understandings, whether we would or no. Here we should have heard a Voice from Heaven; whose was it, but God the Father? Here we should have seen one coming out of Jordan; who was that but God the Son? Here we should have seen something else too, in the Form of a Dove, who was that but God the Spirit? Thus was God the Father heard speaking; God the Son was seen ascending out of the Water; and God the Holy Ghost descending from Heaven upon him. The first was heard in the sound of a Voice, the second was seen in the form of a Man, and the third was beheld in the Shape of a Dove.
Voce Pater, natus Corpore, flamen Ave.
But there are many such Places as this all the New Testament over, where the Three Persons of the Godhead are distinctly mentioned, as Luke i.35. John xiv.16, 26. Chapter xvi.7. Galatians iv.6. But the Words of Saint Paul are very remarkable too, 1 Corinthians xiii.14. And yet that all these Three Persons were but One God, Gen. xviii.2, 3. John x.30. Saint John expressly asserts, saying, There are Three that bear Record in Heaven, the Father, and the Word, and the Spirit, and these Three are One, 1 John v.7. Which certainly are as plain, and perspicuous Terms as its possible to espress so great a Mystery in. But I need not have gone so far to have proved, That there are Three distinct Persons in the Godhead: The Words I am treating of, being a sufficient Demonstration of it: For as all the Three Persons met together at our Saviour's Baptism; to doth our Saviour here command, That all his Disciples be baptized in the Name of all Three: And therefore I cannot but admire how any one should dare to profess himself to be a Christian, and yet deny, or oppose the Sacred Trinity, into which he was baptized when he was made a Christian; For, by this means, he renouncing his Baptism, blasphemes Christ, unchristians himself, blotting his own Name out of the Catalogue of those who were made Christians, only by being baptized, in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
II. Here is the Godhead of the Trinity, or of every Person in the Trinity, that one as well as the other is God: For here we see Divine Worship is to be performed to them all; and all that profess the true Religion must be baptized in the Name of the Son and Holy Ghost, as well as of the Father which certainly would be the greatest Absurdity, yea, the most horrid Impiety imaginable, was not they God as well as he. For if they be not God, they are Creatures; if they be Creatures, Reason as well as Scripture forbids the same Honour and Worship to be conferred on them, which is given to God himself, and only due to him; which here, notwithstanding, we see is given to them, and that by our Lord himself, commanding Baptism to be administred in his own Name, and in the Name of the Holy Ghost, as well as in the Name of the Father; and so making himself and the Spirit equal Sharers in the same Honour that is given to the Father. So that was there no other place in the whole Scripture to prove it, this alone would be fufficient to convince any Gainsayer, that the Son and Spirit are God as well as the Father, or rather the same God with him. But that I may unvail this Mystery, and confirm this Truth more clearly; we will consider each Person distinctly, and shew, that one as well as the other is really and truly God.
That the Father is God, none ever deny'd it, and therefore we need not prove it. But if the Father be God, the Son must needs be God too; for the same Names, Properties, Works, and Worship, which, in Scripture, are ascribed to the Father, are frequently ascribed to the Son also in Scripture: The Father is called Jehovah in Scripture, so is the Son, Hos. i.7. Jerem. xxiii.6. The Father is called God, so is the Son, John i.1. In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God: with God, as to his Person; God as to his Nature. So also John xx.28. Acts xx.28, &c, Moreover, Is the Father Alpha and Omega, the first and the last? So is the Son, Rev. i.8. Is the Father Eternal so is the Son, Isaiah ix.6. Revel. i.8, Is the Father Almighty? so is the Son, Heb. i.3. Is the Father everywhere? so is the Son, Matt. xviii.20. Doth the Father know all things? so doth the Son, John xxi.17. Chap. ii.24. Did the Father make all things? so did the Son, John i.3. Doth the Father preserve all things? so doth the Son, hebr. i.3. Doth the Father forgive Sins? so doth the Son, Matthew ix.6. Is the Father to be worshipped? so is the Son, Hebrews i.6. Is the Father to be honoured? so is the Son, John v.23. No wonder therefore that Christ being thus in the Form of God, thought it no robbery to be equal with God, Philippians ii.6. He did not rob God of any Glory by saying himself was equal to him. The greatest Wonder is, How any one can believe the Scriptures to be the Word of God, and yet deny this great Truth, than which nothing can be more plain from Scripture: Nothing being more frequently and more clearly asserted than this is. And, verily, it is well for us that it is so; for if Christ was not God, neither could he be our Saviour. None being able to free us from our Sins; but only he against whom they were committed. And therefore I cannot imagine how any one can doubt of Christ's Divinity, and yet expect Pardon and Salvation from him: All Our Hopes and Expectations from him depending only upon his assumption of our Humane Nature into a Divine Person.
And that the Holy Ghost also is God, is frequently asserted in the Holy Scriptures, which himself lndited. Indeed his very Inditing of the Scriptures, was a clear Argument of his Deity, as well as the Scriptures indited by him. What Man, what Angel, what Creature, who but God could compose such Articles of Faith, enjoin such Divine Precepts, fortel and fulfil such Prophesies as in Scripture are contained, who spake unto, or by the Prophets? Whom did they mean, when they said, Thus saith the Lord of Hosts? Who was this Lord of Hosts that instructed them what to speak or write? Was it God the Father, or God the Son? No, but it Was God the Holy Ghost; For the Prophecy came not in old time by the will of Man, but Holy Men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, 2 Peter i.21. Acts xxviii.25; 21:11. Chapt. xxi.11. The Holy Ghost therefore being the Lord of Hosts, he must needs be God, there being no Person that is or can be called the Lord of Hosts, but He that is the very and eternal God.
This also may be gathered from 1 Corinth. iii.16. Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and the spirit of God dwelleth in you; for none can be the Temple of God, but he in whom God dwells; for it is God's dwelling in a place, that makes that place the Temple of God; and yet we are here said to be the Temple of God, because the Spirit dwelleth in us. And so elsewhere, Know ye not, saith the Apostle, that your Body is the Temple of the Holy Ghost that is in you? 1 Cor. vi.19. which could not be unless the Holy Ghost was God.
Another express Scripture we have for it in Acts v.3, 4. where St. Peter, propounds this Question to Ananias, Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lye to the Holy Ghost? And then tells him in the next Verse, Thou hast not lyed to men but to God: And so expresly asserts the Holy Ghost to be God.
Moreover, That the Holy Ghost is truly God, coequal to the Father and Son, is plain, in that the Scriptures assert him to be, to have, and to do whatsoever the Father or Son is, hath, or doth, as God. For, Is the Father and Son eternal? so is the Spirit. Hebrews ix.14. Is God the Father and the Son everywhere? so is the Spirit, Psalm cxxxix.7. Is God the Father, and the Son, a wise, understanding, powerful, and knowing God? so is the Spirit, Isaiah xi.2. Are we baptized in the Name of the Father, and the Son so are we baptized in the Name of the Holy Ghost. May we Sin against the Father and the Son? so may we Sin too against the Holy Ghost. Nay, the Sin against this Person only is accounted by our Saviour to be a Sin never to be pardoned, Matthew xii.31, 32. We may Sin against God the Father, and our Sin may be pardoned: We may Sin against God the Son, and our Sin may be pardoned: But if we Sin or Speak against the Holy Ghost, that shall never be forgiven, neither in this world, nor yet in that which is to come. But if the Holy Ghost be not God, how can we Sin against him? or how comes our Sin against him only to be unpardonable, unless he be God? I know it is not therefore unpardonable because he is God, for then the Sins against the Father and the Son would be unpardonable too, seeing they both are God as well as he: Yet though this Sin is not therefore unpardonable, because he is God, yet it could not be unpardonable unless he was God. For, supposing him not to be God, but a Creature, and yet the Sin against him to be unpardonable, then the Sin against a Creature would be unpardonable, when Sins against God himself are pardoned: Which, to say, would, itself, I think, come near to the Sin against the Holy Ghost. But seeing our Saviour describes this unpardonable Sin, by blaspheming or speaking against the Holy Ghost, let them have a care that they be not found guilty of it, who dare deny the Holy Ghost to be really and truly God, and so blaspheme and speak the worst that they can against him.
III. We have seen what Ground we have to believe, that there are Three Persons in the Godhead, and that every one of these Persons is God, we are now to consider the Order of those Persons in the Trinity, described in the Words before us,
First, The Father, and then the Son, and then the Holy Ghost; every one of which is really and truly God; and yet they are All but One real and true God. A Mystery which we are all bound to believe, but yet must have a great Care how we speak of it; it being both easy and dangerous to mistake in expressing so mysterious a Truth as this is. If we think of ii, How hard is it to contemplate upon one numerically Divine Nature, in more than one and the same Divine Person? or, upon Three Divine Persons in no more than One and the same Divine Nature? If we speak of it, How hard is it to find out fit Words to express it? If I say, The Father, Son, and Holy Ghost be Three, and every One distinctly God, it is true: But if I say, They be Three, and every one a distinct God, it is false. I may say, The Divine Persons are distinct in the Divine Nature: But I cannot say, That the Divine Nature is divided into the Divine Persons. I may say, God the Father is One God, and the Son is one God, and the Holy Ghost is One God: But I cannot say, That the Father is One God, and the Son Another God, and the Holy Ghost a Third God. I may say, The Father begat another who is God; yet I cannot say, That he begat another God. And from the Father and the Son proceeded another who is God; yet I cannot say, from the Father and the Son proceedeth another God. For, all this while, though their Nature be the same, their Persons are distinct; and though their Persons be distinct, still their Nature is the same. So that though the Father be the First Person in the Godhead, the Son the Second, and the Holy Ghost the Third; yet the Father is not the First, the Son a Second, and the Holy Ghost a Third God. So hard a thing is it to word so great a Mystery aright; or to fit so high a Truth with Expressions suitable and proper to it, without going one way or another from it. And therefore I shall not use many words about it, lest some should slip from me unbecoming of it: But, in as few Terms as I can, I will endeavour to shew, upon what account the Father is the First, the Son the Second, and the Holy Ghost the Third Person in the Trinity.
First, therefore, The Father is placed. first, and really is the First Person, not as if he was before the other Two, for they are all Coeternal; but because the other Two received their Essence from him: For, the Son was begotten of the Father, and the Holy Ghost proceedeth both from Father and Son: And therefore the Father is termed by the Primitive Christians, riza kai pege Theotetos, the Root and the Fountain of Deity. As in Waters there is the Fountain or Well Head; then there is the Spring that boils up out of that Fountain; and then there is the Stream that draws both from the Fountain and the Spring; and yet all these are but one and the same Water: So here, God the Father is the Fountain of Deity; the Son, as the Spring that boils up out of that Fountain; and the Holy Ghost, that flows from both, and yet all Three is but one and the same God. The same also may be explained by another familiar Instance: The Sun, you know, begets Beams, and from the Sun and Beams together, proceed both Light and Heat: So God the Father begets the Son, and from the Father and Son together, proceeds the Spirit of Knowledge and Grace: But as the Son is not before the Beams, nor the Beams before the Light and Heat, but all are together: So neither is the Father before the Son, nor Father or Son before the Holy Ghost, but only in order and relation to one another: In which only respect, the Father is the first Person in the Trinity.
Secondly, The Son is the second Person, who is called the Son, yea, and the only begotten Son of God, because he was begotten of the Father, not as others are by Spiritual Regeneration, but by Eternal Generation, as none but himself is: For the opening whereof, we must know, that God that made all things fruitful, is not himself Steril or Barren, but he that hath given Power to Animals, to generate and produce others in their own Nature, is himself much more able to produce one, not only like himself, but of the self-same Nature with himself, as he did in begetting his Son by communicating his own unbegotten Essence and Nature to him. For the Person of the Son was most certainly begotten of the Father, otherwise he would not be his Son; but his Essence was unbegotten, otherwise he would not be God. And therefore the highest Apprehensions that we can frame of this great Mystery, the Eternal Generation of the Son of God, is only by conceiving the Person of the Father to have communicated his Divine Essence to the Person of the Son. And so of himself begetting his other Self the Son, by communicating his own Eternal and unbegotten Essence to him. I say, by communicating of his Essence, not of his Person to him, for then they would be both the same Person, as now they are of the same Essence: The Essence of the Father did not beget the Son by communicating his Person to him, but the Person of the Father begat the Son by communicating his Essence to him; so that the Person of the Son is begotten, not communicated; but the Essence of the Son is communicated not begotten.
This Notion of the Father's begetting the Son by communicating his Essence to him, I ground upon the Son's own Words, who certainly best knew how himself was begotten; for, as the Father, saith he, hath life in himself, so hath he given to the Son to have life in himself, John v.26. To have Life in himself, is an Essential Property of the Divine Nature, and therefore wheresoever that is given, or communicated, the Nature itself, must needs be given, and communicated too.
Now here we see how God the Father Communicated this his Essential Property, and so his Essence to the Son; and, by consequence, though he be a distinct Person from him, yet he hath the same unbegotten Essence with him: And, therefore, as the Father hath Life in himself, so hath the Son Life in himself; and so all other essential Properties of the Divine Nature, only with this Personal Distinction, that the Father hath this Life in himself, not from the Son, but from himself; whereas the Son hath it, not from himself but from the Father: Or, the Father is God, of himself, not of the Son; the Son is the same God, but from the Father, not from himself; and, therefore, not the Father, but the Son is rightly called by the Council of Nice, God of God, Light of Light, yea, very God of very God.
Thirdly, Having thus spoken of the two first Persons in the Sacred Trinity, we now come to the last, the Holy Ghost. The last, I say, not in Nature or Time, but only in Order: For, as to their Nature, one is not better or more God than another; neither, as to Time; is one before another; none of them being measured by Time, but all and every one of them Eternity itself. But though not in Nature or Time, yet in Order, one must needs be before another; For the Father is of himself, receiving his Essence neither from the Son, nor from the Spirit, and therefore is, in Order, before both; the Son received his Essence from the Father, not from the Spirit, and therefore, in Order, is before the Spirit, as well as after the Father; but the Spirit receiving his Essence both from the Father and the Son, must needs, in Order, be after both.
I confess, the Spirit is no where in Scripture said to proceed from the Son, and therefore the incerting this into the Nicene Creed, was the occasion of that Schism betwixt the Western and Eastern Churches, which hath now continued for many Ages; in which, I think, both Parties are blameworthy; the Western Churches for incerting this Clause following into the Nicene Creed, without the Consent of a General Council and the Eastern for denying so plain a Truth as this is: For though the Spirit be not said to proceed from the Son, yet he is called the Spirit of the Son, Galatians iv.6. Rom. viii.9. which, questionless, he would never have been, did not he proceed from the Son, as well as from the Father. And, verily, the Father communicating his own individual Essence, and so whatsoever he is (his Paternal Relation excepted) to the Son, could not but communicate this to him also, even to have the Spirit proceeding from him, as it doth from himself. So that as whatsoever the Father hath Originally in himself, that hath the Son by Communication from the Father: So hath the Son this, the Spirit's proceeding from him by communication from the Father, as the Father hath it in himself: And the Spirit thus proceeding both from the Father and the Son, hence it is that he is placed after both, not only in, the Words before us, but also in 1 John v.7. and so elsewhere.
From what I have hitherto discoursed concerning this great Mystery, the Trinity in Unity, and Unity in Trinity, I shall gather some few Inferences, and so conclude.
1. Is the Son God, yea, the same God with the Father? Hence I observe what a strange Mystery the Work of Man's Redemption is, that God himself should become Man. And he that was begotten of his Father, without a Mother, from Eternity, should be Born of his Mother, without a Father, in Time; that he who was perfect God, like unto the Father, in every thing, his Personal Properties only excepted, should also be perfect Man, like unto us in all things, our personal Infirmities only excepted; that he that made the World, should be himself made in it; that Eternity should stoop to Time, Glory be wrapt in Misery, and the Son of Righteousness hid under a Clod of Earth; that Innocence should be betrayed, Justice condemned, and Life itself should die, and all to redeem Man from Death to Life. Oh Wonder of Wonders! how justly may we say with the Apostle, without Controversy, great is the Mystery of Godliness, 1 Tim. iii.16.
2. Is the Spirit also GOD? Hence I observe, That it is God alone that can make us Holy; for seeing the Scripture all along ascribes our Sanctification unto the Spirit of God, and yet the Spirit of God is himself really and truly God, it necessarily followeth, that the special Concurrence and Influence of Almighty God himself is necessary to the making us really and truly Holy.
3. Are all Three Persons in the Trinity one and the same God? Hence I inferr, They are to have one and the same Honour conferred upon them, and one and the same Worship performed unto them. Or, as our Saviour himself saith, That all Men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, John v.23. And ye believe in God, believe also in me, John xiv.1. And as we pray to the Father, so should we pray to the Son too, as the Apostles did, Luke xvii.5. and St. Stephen, Acts vii.59. and St. Paul to all Three, 2 Cor. xiii.14.
4. Is Baptism to be Administred in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? Hence I observe, how necessary it is to believe in these Three Persons, in order to our being real and true Christians: For we being made Christians in the Name of all Three, that Man ceaseth to be a Christian that believes only in One: For Faith in God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, is necessary to the very Constitution of a Christian; and is the Principal, if not the only Characteristical Note whereby to distinguish a Christian from another Man; yea, from a Turk: For this is the chief thing that the Turk both in their Alcoran, and other Writings, upbraid Christians for, even because they believe a Trinity of Persons in the Divine Nature. For which Cause they frequently say they are People that believe God hath Companions; so that take away this Article of our Christian Faith, and what depends upon it, and there would be but a little difference betwixt a Christian and a Turk: But by this means, Turks would not turn Christians, but Christians Turks, if this Fundamental Article of the Christian Religion was once removed: For he that doth not believe this, is no Christian upon that very account, because he doth not believe this by which a Christian is made: And whatsoever else Errors a Man may hold, yet if he believes in God the Father, God the Son, and God. the Holy Ghost, I cannot, I dare not but acknowledge him to be a Christian in general, because he holds fast to the Foundation of the Christian Religion, though perhaps he may build upon it Hay and Stubble; and so his Superstructure be infirm and rotten.
I shall conclude with a Word of Advice to all such as call themselves by the Name of Christ: I suppose and believe they are all Christians, from their taking that Name; and therefore I need not use any Arguments to perswade them to turn Christians, for so they are already by Profession; But, seeing that they are Christians, let me desire them to consider bow they tame to be so? even by being baptized in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. And if they desire to be Christians still, I must advise them to continue stedfast in that Faith whereby they were made so. Of all the Errors and Heresies which Satan hath sowed amongst us, let us have an especial care to avoid such as strike at the very Foundation of our Religion; I mean the Arrians, Macedonians, Socinians, and all, manner of Antitrinitarians, such as deny the most Sacred Trinity.
But I hope we have better learned Christ, than to hearken to such Opinions as these are; and therefore my next Advice in brief is only this, That as we excel others in the Truth of our Profession, so we would excel them also in the Holiness of our Life and Conversation: Let us manifest our selves so be Christians indeed, by believing the Assertions, trusting on the Promises, fearing the Threatnings, and obeying the Precepts of Christ our Master, that both Infidels and Hereticks may be convinced of their Errors, by seeing us outstripping them in our Piety towards God, Equity to our Neighbours, Charity to the Poor, Unity amongst ourselves, and Love to all: For this would be a clear Demonstration, that our Faith is better than theirs is, when our Lives are holier than theirs are; and for our Encouragement thereunto, I dare engage, That if we believe thus, as Christ hath taught us, and live as he hath commanded us, we shall also obtain what he hath promised, even Eternal Happiness in the World to come; where we shall see, enjoy, and praise that God, into whose Name we are baptized, even Father, Son, and Holy Ghost for evermore. There, with Angels and Arch-Angels, with the Heavens and all the Powers therein; with Cherubin and Seraphin, and all the blessed Inhabitants of those everlasting Mansions; with the glorious Company of the Apostles, the goodly Fellowship of the Prophets; the noble Army of Martyrs; all the Company of Heaven, and the Holy Church throughout all the World, we shall Eternally laud and magnify thy Sacred Name: "O God, the Father of Heaven; O God, the Son, Redeemer of the World; O God the Holy Ghost, proceding from the Father and the Son; O Holy, Blessed, and Glorious Trinity, Three Persons and One God, evermore praising thee, the Father of an Infinite Majesty; together with thine Honourable, True and Only Son; thee the King of Glory, O Christ; and thee, O Holy Ghost, the Comforter; still joyning with the heavenly Choire, and saying, "Holy, holy, Lord God of Hosts, Heaven and Earth are full of thy Glory; Glory be to thee, O Lord, most high. We praise thee, we bless thee, we worship thee, we glorify thee, we give Thanks to thee for thy great Glory, O Lord God, Heavenly King, God the Father Almighty. O Lord, the only begotten Son, Jesu Christ; O Lord God, Lamb of God, Son of the Father, that takest away the Sins of the World, and sittest at the Right-hand of God the Father, O Blessed, Glorious, and Eternal Spirit; for thou only art Holy, thou only art the Lord; thou only, O Christ, with the Holy Ghost, art most high in the Glory of God the Father; for thine, O Lord, is the Kingdom, and the Power, and the Glory, for ever and ever. Amen.
Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy Servants, Grace by the confession of a true Faith to acknowledge the glory of the Eternal Trinity, and in the Power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; we beseech thee, that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this Faith, and evermore defend us from all Adversities, who livest and reignest one God, World without End. Amen.
And now having led the Christian through this first Stage of his Course, and instructed him in the Principles of his Religion, and in the great Mystery of the Trinity, into which he was baptized, it may be fit to bring him into the World, and shew him how he ought to demean himself in regard to the Things of it.