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Luke xi. 13. If the Spirit were ever to be invoked personally, it would be then, especially, when we pray for him ; yet we are commanded not to ask him of himself, but only of the Father. Why do we not call upon the Spirit himself, if he be God, to give himself to us? He who is sought from the Father, and given by him, not by himself, can neither be God, nor an object of invocation. The same form of benediction occurs Gen. xlviii. 15, 16, “ The God before whom my fathers did walk, the angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads"; and Rev. i. 4, “Grace be unto you and peace from him which is ... and from the seven spirits.' It is clear that in this pássage the seven spirits, of whom more will be said hereafter, are not meant to be invoked. Besides that in this benediction the order or dignity of the things signified should be considered, rather than that of the persons ; for it is by the Son that we come to the Father, from whom finally the Holy Spirit is sent. So 1 Cor. xii. 4-6, "There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit ; and there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord ; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all." Here the three are again mentioned in an inverse order ; but it is one God which worketh all in all, even in the Son and the Spirit, as we are taught throughout the whole of Scripture.
Hence it appears that what is said Matt. xii. 31, 32, has no reference to the personality of the Holy Spirit. For if to sin against the Holy Spirit were worse than to sin against the Father and Son, and if that alone were an unpardonable sin, the Spirit truly would be greater than the Father and the Son. The words must therefore apply to that illumination, which, as it is highest in degree, so it is last in order of time, whereby the Father enlightens us through the Spirit, and which if any one resist, no method of salvation remains open to him. I am inclined to believe, however, that it is the Father himself who is here called the Holy Spirit, by whose "Spirit," ver. 28, or “ finger," Luke xi. 20, Christ professed to cast out devils ; when therefore the Pharisees accused him falsely of acting in concert with Beelzebub, they are declared to sin unpardonably, because they said of him who had the Spirit of his Father, “ He hath an unlcean spirit," Mark iii. 30. Besides, it was to the Pharisees that he spoke thus, who acknowledged no other Spirit than the Father himself. If this be the true interpretation of the passage, which will not be doubted by any one who examines the whole context from ver. 24 to ver. 32, that dreaded sin against the Holy Spirit will be in reality a sin against the Father, who is the Spirit of holiness ; of which he would be guilty, who should affirm that the Spirit of the Father which was working in Christ was the prince of the devils, or an unclean spirit ; – as Mark clearly shows in the passage quoted above.
But the Spirit bestows grace and blessing upon the churches in conjunction with the Father and the Son ; Rev. i. 4,
5, “Grace be unto you and peace from him which is,
and from the seven spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ.” It is clear, however, that the Holy Spirit is not here meant to be implied ; the number of the spirits is inconsistent with such a supposition, as well as the place which they are said to
occupy, standing like angels before the throne. See also iv, 5, and v. 6, where the same spirits are called " lamps of fire burning before the throne," and the " seven horns " and seven eyes” of the Lamb. Those who reduce these spirits to one Holy Spirit, and consider them as synonymous with his sevenfold grace, (an opinion which is deservedly refuted by Beza,) ought to beware, lest, by attributing to mere virtues the properties of persons, they furnish arguments to those commentators who interpret the Holy Spirit as nothing more than the virtue and power of the Father. This may suffice to convince us, that in this kind of threefold enumerations the sacred writers have no view whatever to the doctrine of three divine persons, or to the equality or order of those persons; not even in that verse which has been mentioned above, and on which commentators in general lay so much stress, 1 John v. 7, “ There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one,” where there is in reality nothing which implies either divinity or unity of essence. As to divinity, God is not the only one who is said to bear record in heaven; 1 Tim. v. 21, “I charge thee before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and the elect angels,” - where it might have been expected that the Holy Spirit would have been named in the third place, if such ternary forms of expression really contained the meaning which is commonly ascribed to them. What kind of unity is intended is sufficiently plain from the next verse, in which “the spirit, the water, and the
are mentioned, which “are to bear record to one,” or “to that one thing." Beza himself, who is
generally a staunch defender of the Trinity, understands the phrase "unum sunt " to mean
agree in one." What it is that they testify appears in the fifth and sixth verses, namely, that “he that overcometh the world is he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God, even Jesus Christ,” that is, “the anointed"; therefore he is not one with, nor equal to, him that anointed him. Thus the very record that they bear is inconsistent with the essential unity of the witnesses, which is attempted to be deduced from the passage. For the Word is both the Son and Christ, that is, as has been said, “the anointed"; and as he is the image, as it were, by which we see God, so is he the word by which we hear him. But if such be his nature, he cannot be essentially one with God, whom no one can see or hear. The same has been already proved by other arguments, with regard to the Spirit; it follows, therefore, that these three are not one in essence. I say nothing of the suspicion of spuriousness attached to the passage, which is a matter of criticism rather than of doctrine. Further, I would ask whether there is one Spirit that bears record in heaven, and another which bears record in earth, or whether both are the same Spirit. If the same, it is extraordinary that we nowhere else read of his bearing witness in heaven, although his witness has been always most conspicuously manifested in earth, that is, in our hearts. Christ certainly brings forward himself and his Father as the only witnesses of himself, John viii. 16, 19. Why, then, in addition to two other perfectly competent witnesses, should the Spirit twice bear witness to the same thing ? On the other hand, if it be another Spirit, we have here a new and unheard-of doctrine. There are, besides, other circumstances, which in the opinion of many render the passage suspicious; and yet it is on the authority of this text, almost exclusively, that the whole doctrine of the Trinity has been hastily adopted.
Lest however we should be altogether ignorant who or what the Holy Spirit is, although Scripture nowhere teaches us in express terms, it may be collected from the passages quoted above, that the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as he is a minister of God, and therefore a creature, was created or produced of the substance of God, not by a natural necessity, but by the free will of the agent, probably before the foundations of the world were laid, but later than the Son, and far inferior to him. It will be objected, that thus the Holy Spirit is not sufficiently distinguished from the Son. I reply, that the Scriptural expressions themselves, " to come forth," "to go out from the Father," "to proceed from the Father,” which mean the same in the Greek, do not distinguish the Son from the Holy Spirit, inasmuch as these terms are used indiscriminately with reference to both persons, and signify their mission, not their nature. There is, however, sufficient reason for placing the name as well as the nature of the Son above that of the Holy Spirit in the discussion of topics relative to the Deity ; inasmuch as the brightness of the glory of God, and the express image of his person, are said to have been impressed on the one, and not on the other.