Divinity of the Holy Spirit, and of the Son.


1. What is the doctrine of the Socinians, the Arians and the Orthodox concerning the Holy Spirit? See Hagenback, Hist. of Doctr. on Arianism. Hill, bk. iii, ch. 9. Turrettin, Loc. iii, Qu. 30. Dr. Wm. Cunningham, Hist. Theol. ch. 9,  § 4.
2. Prove the personality of the Holy Spirit. Turretun, Loc. iii, Qu. 30,  § i-ii. Owen on the Holy Spirit, bk. i, chs. 2, 3. Dick, Lect. 33. Hill, as above. Dwight's Theol. Sermon 70th Knapp.
3. Prove from the Scriptures the Divinity of this Person. Turrettin, Loc. iii, Qu. 30,  § 12, end. Dick, Hill and Dwight as above.
4. State the controversy between the Greek and Latin Churches, on the Procession of the Holy Spirit. Which party is right? Why? Turrettin, Loc. iii, Qu. 31. Dick and Hill as above.
5. Show how the of offices of the Second and Third Persons in redemption imply the possession of proper divinity by them. Turrettin, Loc. iii, Qu. 24; Loc. xiii, Qu. 3. Dick, Lect. 32. Hill, bk. ii, ch. 8, end. Anselm, Cur Deus Homo?

1. History of Doctrine of Holy Spirit.

THE Arian controversy was so fiercely agitated concerning the divinity of the Second Person that the Third Person was almost overlooked in it, by both parties. It is stated that Arius held the Holy Spirit to be a person—but a creature—the first creature namely, which the Son brought into existence by the Father's instruction, after His own creation. He was hence, kti>sma ktismatov. On the other hand, few, perhaps, of the orthodox, except Athanasius, saw clearly the necessity of extending to Him likewise the same essence, oJmoousi>on, with the Father; and attributing to Him in the work of Redemption, proper, divine attributes. The most of them, e. g., a great anti-Arian writer, Hilary of Arles, contented themselves with saying that He was a Person, and was spoken of in the Scriptures as a divine Spirit, and God's beneficent Agent in sanctification; but, farther than this, the scriptures did not bear Him out. A little after the middle of the 4th century, Macedonius, primate of Constantinople, was led, by his semi-Arian views, to teach that the Holy Spirit was but a name for the divine power and influences, diffused from the Father through the Son. It was this error, along with others, occasioned the revisal of the Nicene Creed by the second Œcumenical Council, that of Constantinople. Yet even this, while attributing to the Holy Spirit a procession from the Father, and the same worship and glory attributed to the Father and Son, and while calling Him Life giving Lord, still did not expressly ascribe to Him the phrase, oJmoousi>on tw~| patri>. The consubstantial divinity of the Holy Spirit, however, continued to be the practical doctrine of the Church Catholic. When the Socinians, in the 16th century, sought to overthrow the doctrine of the Trinity, they represented all that is said of the Holy Spirit as mere parallel locutions for the Godhead itself, or as impersonations of the power, energy, wisdom, or general influence of the Godhead on created souls. The words Holy Spirit, then, are, with them, the name, not of a Person, but of an abstraction.

2. His Personality.

Therefore, the first task which we should assume is to learn what the scriptures teach concerning the personality of this Being. We may premise, with Dick, that it is natural and reasonable that the Scriptures would say less to evince the personality and divinity of the Holy Spirit than of the Son; because in the order of the divine manifestation in Redemption, the Son is naturally and properly revealed first. The purchase precedes the application of Redemption. But after a plurality in unity was once established, it was easy to admit a trinity.

Now, we may freely admit that in several places, represented by Psalm 139:7, the word Spirit is a mere parallelism to express God's self. We may freely admit that were there no passages, except those in which the Holy Spirit is said to be shed forth (Isaiah 32:15), it would not be proved that it might not mean only God's influences. But there are many others which admit of no such explanation. First. A number of personal acts are attributed to the Holy Spirit, as creation (Genesis 1:2; Psalm 104:30), the generation of Christ's body and soul (Matthew 1:18; Luke 1:35). Teaching and revealing (John 14:26; 15:25, 26; Galatians 4:6; Romans 8:16; 1 Timothy 4:1; 1 Peter 1:11; 2 Peter 1:21; Isaiah 11:2, 3). To search the decree of God (1 Corinthians 2:10). To set apart to the ministry (Isaiah 61:1; Acts 13:2; 20:28). To intercede, para>klhtov (John 17:7; Romans 8:27). To have volitions (1 Corinthians 12:11). To regenerate and sanctify (John 3:6; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Ephesians 2:22, and so on.). Add here, as showing the personal agencies of the Holy Spirit (Luke 12:12; Acts 5:32; 15:28; 16:6; 28:25; Romans 15:16; 1 Corinthians 2:13; Hebrews 2:4; 3:7).

Second. The Holy Spirit is said to exercise the active feelings of a person; to be tempted (Acts 5:9); to be vexed (Isaiah 63:10); to be grieved (Ephesians 4:30).

No Prospopœia Here.

But here we must meet the well known evasion of the Socinian, who pleads that these are but instances of the trope of Impersonation, like those of Romans 7:11; 3:19; 1 Corinthians 13:7; Genesis 4:10; Hebrews 12:24. We will not plead with Turrettin, that the explanation is inapplicable to the Holy Spirit; because impersonations are usually of things corporeal and inanimate, as when the blood of Abel cried, and so on.; for the case of 1 Corinthians 13:7, proves that the Scripture does not limit the figure to this class of objects, but sometimes impersonate abstractions. (a. The true answers are, that the Socinian explanation is inapplicable, because no candid writer uses an impersonation, without placing something in his context, or afterwards dropping the figure, so as to show unmistakably to the reader, that he meant only an impersonation. The force of this is only seen when the reader gathers the multitude of places in the Scriptures, where such language prevails, speaking of the Holy Spirit as though He were a person; and when he finds the utter absence of the proper qualification. (b. The explanation is impossible, because in a multitude of places the Holy Spirit is distinguished from the Godhead, whose impersonated attribute He would be on this supposition; e. g., when it is said, "charity suffereth long and is kind," the only possible meaning is, that the charitable man does so. When it is said God's Spirit will guide us into all truth, if the figure of impersonation were there, the meaning would be, that God, who is spiritual, will guide us. But in that very passage the spirit that guides is distinguished from God. "Whatsoever he shall hear, (i. e., from the Father and Son, that shall he speak." This leads us to argue:—

(c That the Holy Spirit must be a Person, because distinguished so clearly from the Father, whose quality or influence He would be, if He were an abstraction; and farther because distinguished in some places alike from the Father and Son, e. g., He is sent by both (John 14:16; 15:26; 16:7). The pneu~ma, though neuter, is constructed with the masculine pronouns (John 16:13; Ephesians 1:13, 14). He concurs with the Father and Son, in acts or honours which are to them undoubtedly personal:—and Hence, to Him likewise (Matthew 28:19; 2 Corinthians 13:14).

(d His presence is represented by visible symbols, a thing which is never done for a mere abstraction elsewhere in Scripture, and is, indeed, logically preposterous. For the propriety of the material symbol depends wholly on some metaphorical resemblance between the accidents of the matter, and the attributes of the Being symbolised, e. g., Shekinah represents God. Its brightness represents His glory. Its purity—His holiness. Its fierce heat—His jealousy, and so on, and so on. Now, if the dove (Matthew 3:16), and the fiery tongue (Acts 2:3), symbolise the Holy Spirit, and He an abstraction, the analogy has to be sought between the accidents or qualities of the dove and the fire, and the attributes of an abstraction! (Quid rides. But moreover, in Matthew 3:16, the three persons all attest their presence at once—the Father, in His voice from heaven; the Son, in His human person; the Spirit, in the descending dove. Here, surely, the dove does not personate an abstract attribute of the Father or Son, for this would be to personate them as possessing that attribute. But they, at the moment, had their distinct personal representations.

(e The personality of the Holy Spirit is most plainly implied in the act of sinning against Him, committed by Ananias (Acts 5:3), Israel (Isaiah 13:10; to the Pharisees, Matthews 12:31, 32). Some one may say, that 1 Timothy 6:1, speaks of the sin of blasphemy against God's word and doctrine. Such an explanation is impossible in the above cases, and especially in Matthew 12:31, 32. For if the Holy Spirit only represents an attribute of God, then to blaspheme that attribute is simply to blaspheme God. But in this case, the acts of blaspheming the Father and Son, are expressly distinguished from that of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, and have different grades of guilt assigned them.

(f It is also implied that the Holy Spirit is a Person, by the distinction made between Him and His gifts (1 Corinthians 12:4, 8). If the Holy Spirit were an influence, or exertion of God's power on the creature, as He must be held to be in these places, by Socinians, then He would be virtually here, the gift of a gift! This leads us to notice a class of texts, in which the Socian explanation appears supremely ridiculous; it is those in which the Holy Spirit is distinguished from the power of God. Now, if He be but a name of God's influences and energies upon the souls of men, the general word power, (du>namiv), ought to represent the idea of Him with substantial correctness. Then when Luke 4:14 says:—Christ returned from the desert to Galilee "in the power of the Spirit," it is equivalent to:—"In the power of the power." Acts 1:8—"But ye shall receive power, after that the holy power is come unto you." 1 Corinthians 2:4—"And my speech and my preaching were not with enticing words of man's wisdom, but in demonstration of the power, and of power" (also Acts 10:38 Romans 14:13, 19).

The Holy Spirit then, is not an abstraction, nor an influence merely, but a Person, in the full sense in which that word is applied to the Father and Son, possessing will and active principles, intelligence, and action.

3. This Person Is Divine.

The next step is to prove His proper divinity; and this has now become comparatively easy. We follow the familiar order, showing that He has in Scripture the names, attributes, works, and worship of God. The principles upon which the argument proceeds, are the same already unfolded in the argument for the divinity of Christ. First. We find the name Jehovah applied to the Spirit, by comparing Exodus 17:7 with Hebrews 3:9; 2 Samuel 23:2; Isaiah 6:9 with Acts 28:25; possibly Jeremiah 31:31, compared with Hebrews 10:15. The name God, is by plain implication ascribed to Him in Acts 5:3, 4, and so on, and 1 Corinthians 3:16 with 6:19. The name Highest, seems to be given Him in Luke 1:35. Second. The attributes are ascribed to Him; as omnipresence, implied by 1 Corinthians 3:16, and by the promises of the Holy Spirit to an innumerable multitude of Christians at once. Omniscience (1 Corinthians 2:10 with 5:11); Omnipresence (1 Corinthians 12:13). The same thing appears from His agency in inspiration and prophecy (John 16:13; 2 Peter 1:21). Sovereignty (1 Corinthians 12:11). Third. The works of God, as of creation (Genesis 1:2). Preservation (Psalm 104:30). Miracles (Matthew 12:28; 1 Corinthians 12:4). Regeneration and sanctification (John 3:5; 1 Corinthians 6:11; 2 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Peter 1:2). Resurrection of the dead (Romans 8:11). Fourth. The worship of God is also attributed to Him, in the formula of Baptism, the Apostolic benediction, and the prayer of Revelation 1:4. Other passages cited seem to me of very questionable application.

Objections Answered.

Against the Spirit's personality, it has been urged, that it is preposterous to speak of a Person as shed forth, poured out; as constituting the material of an anointing (1 John 2:27); whereas, if the Holy Spirit is understood as only a name for God's influences, the figure is proper. The answer is, that the Holy Spirit's gifts are meant, when the giver is named, a most common and natural metonymy. The expressions are surely no harder to reconcile, than those of "putting on Christ," to be "baptised into Christ" (Ephesians 5:30; Romans 13:14; Galatians 3:27).

To the proper divinity of the Holy Spirit it has been objected, that He is evidently subordinate, inasmuch as He is sent by the Father and the Son, and is limited in His messages by what they commit to Him (John 16:7, 13). The obvious answer is, that this subordination is only economical, relating to the official work to which the Divine Spirit condescends for man's redemption, and it no more proves His inferiority, than the humiliation of the Son, His.

4. History of Question of Procession.

The Nicene Creed, as settled A.D. 381, by the Council of Constantinople, had stated that the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father, saying nothing of any procession from the Son. But the Western Doctors, especially Augustine, leaned more and more towards the view, that His personal relation connected Him in the same inscrutable way, with the Father and the Son. As the Arian Christians of the Gothic nations, who had occupied the Western provinces of the empire, began to come into the Orthodox Catholic Church, it was judged more important, to assert the procession of the Holy Spirit from the Son equally with the Father, in order to eradicate any lingering ideas of a subordination of substance in the Son, which converts from Arianism might be supposed to feel. Hence, we are told a provincial council in Toledo, A.D. 458, first enacted that the Latin form of the creed should receive the addition of the words, filioque. But this, although popular in Spain and France, was not adopted in Rome, even so late as A.D. 809, when Charlemagne endeavoured in vain to secure its adoption by the Bishop of Rome. But the Latin Christians were continually using it more extensively, to the indignation of the Greeks. This addition, as yet unwarranted, was the bone of contention (along with others), throughout the 9th and subsequent centuries. The Latin Primate seems to have sanctioned the addition to the creed, about the 11th century, proceeding upon that general doctrinal consent, which the Latin Church had for so many centuries, held to be the voice of inspiration, according to the maxim of Vincentius of Lerins. In the great Council of Lyons, A.D. 1374, the Greeks, eager for a compromise, on account of the pressure of the Mohammedans, submitted to the Latin doctrine. But they soon returned to their old views with new violence. Again, in 1439, the kingdom of Constantinople, then tottering to its fall, submitted to a partial compromise, in order to secure Western support; and it was agreed in the Council of Florence (adjourned to Pisa), that it should be said:—the Holy Spirit proceedeth from the Father through the Son. But even this, the Greeks soon repudiated; and both parties have returned, ever since, to their opposition.

Argument Inconclusive.

To the dispassionate mind, the dispute cannot but appear of small importance, and the grounds of both parties uncertain. The basis on which the idea itself of an eternal and necessary relation of procession rests, seems to me scarcely sufficiently solid without the analogy of the Son. It is composed of the facts that the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit, pneu~ma, of the Father (from pne>w), and that in one solitary passage (John 15:26), it is said, He "proceedeth from the Father." All parties admit, that if there is such an eternal relation as procession, it is inscrutable. On the one hand, the Greeks rely on the fact that He is never said to proceed from the Son; and on the ancient view of the Greek scholastic fathers, that the Father alone is the ajrch>, or phgh> qeou~. On the other hand, the Latins urge, that the Holy Spirit is stated to be related to the Son, in the Scriptures, in every way, except procession, just as He is to the Father. He is the "Spirit of the Son," as well as the Spirit of the Father (and they suppose the very name, Spirit, expresses His eternal relation as much as the word procession). He is sent by the Son, and He is sent by the Father; He shows the things of the Son as much as those of the Father; for Christ says, "All things that the Father hath are mine" (John 16:15). But as Dick well observes:—Unless it can be proved that spiration, mission, and speaking the things of Christ, exhaust the whole meaning of procession, the demonstration is not complete. And since the whole meaning of procession is not intelligible to human minds, that quality of meaning cannot be known, except by an express assertion of God Himself. Such an express word we lack; and Hence, it appears to me, that this is a subject on which we should not dogmatise. Should it be that the Son does not share with the Father the eternal spiration of the Spirit, this would no more imply an essential inferiority of the Second Person, than does his filiation. The essence is common to the three Persons; the relations incommunicable. Enough for us to know the blessed truth, that under the Covenant of Grace, the Divine Spirit condescends economically to commit the dispensation of His saving influences to the Son as our king, and to come at His bidding, according to the agreement, to subdue, sanctify, and save us. It may be said, that, as there is a peculiar point of view from which the grace, condescension and majesty of both the other persons are especially displayed, calling for our gratitude and reverence, so the same thing is true of the Holy Spirit. The Father condescends, in giving his Son. The Son, in assuming our nature and guilt; and the Spirit, in making His immediate abiding place in our guilty breasts, and there purging out the depravity, which His majesty and justice, as very God, would rather prompt Him to avenge.

Divinity of the 2nd. And 3rd. Persons Proved By Offices In Redemption.

The nature of the offices performed by the Second and Third Persons in redemption, implies and demands a proper divinity. This argument will require us to anticipate some truths concerning the I mediatorial offices, and the doctrines of redemption; but I trust that sufficient general knowledge exists in all well informed young Christians, to make the discussion intelligible to them. This argument is peculiarly important and interesting, although too little urged by theologians, ancient or modern. It shows that this high mystery of the Trinity has a most extensive practical aspect; and that the scheme of the Socinian not only impugns a mystery, but makes havoc of the Christian's most practical hopes.

Christ performs the work of our redemption in three offices, as prophet, priest, and king. The offices of the Holy Spirit, in applying redemption, connect themselves with the first in enlightening and guiding us, and with the third in converting us. I shall, therefore, couple the evidence of His divinity from those two offices, with what I have to say of the Son's under the same heads.

Christ and Holy Spirit As Guides, Must Be Divine.

1st. Christ and His Spirit cannot be the sufficient guides of an immortal spirit, unless they have a truly infinite understanding. If our view be limited only to the preparation of a Bible for us, and all the constant, varied, endless, inward guidance be left out of view, then the wonder would be, how one moderate volume could be made to contain principles sufficient for an infinite diversity of applications. No human book does this. To draw up, select topics for, digest such a code, required omniscience.

But this is not all. We have daily inward guidance, by the Holy Spirit and providences applying the word. Now, so endlessly diversified and novel are the exigencies of any one soul, and so eternal and infinite the consequence connected, it may be, with any one act, that it requires an infinite understanding to lead one soul, infallibly, through its mortal life, in such a way as to insure safe consequences to all eternity. How much more to lead all Christians at once?

But this is not all. Saints will be under duty in heaven. They will have approached towards moral stability and wisdom to an indefinite degree, by means of their ages of holy action and strengthening habits. But they will still not be omniscient nor absolutely immutable. These perfections belong to God only. To a fallible creature, every precept and duty implies a possible error and transgression, just as a right branch in a highway implies a left. But as the saint's existence is protracted to immortality, the number and variety of these moral exigencies become literally infinite. Hence, had he only a finite wisdom and holiness to guide him through them, the possibility of error, sin and fall at some one of these tests, would become a probability, and would grow ever towards a violent one, approaching a certainty. The gospel promises that the saint's glorified state shall be everlasting and infallible. This can only be accomplished by his having the guidance of infinite perfections. But since we are assured that "the Lamb is their light," we see at once, that his light is none other than that of omniscience.

Christ As A Priest, Must Be Divine.

2d. None but a properly divine being could undertake Christ's priestly work. Had he been the noblest creature in heaven, his life and powers would have been the property of God, our offended Judge; and our Advocate could not have claimed as He does (John 10:18), that He had, ejxousi>an, to lay down His life and to take it again. Then:—unless above law, He could have no imputable, active obedience. 3d. Unless sustained by omnipotence, unless sustained by inward omnipotence, He could never have endured the wrath of the Almighty for the sins of the world; it would have sunk Him into perdition. 4th. Had there not been a divine nature to reflect an infinite dignity upon His person, His suffering the curse of sin for a few years, would not have been a satisfaction sufficient to propitiate God for the sins of a world. After the sacrifice, comes intercession. His petitioners and their wants are so numerous, that unless He were endowed with sleepless attention, an omnipotence which can never tire, an infinite understanding, omnipresence, and exhaustless kindness, He could not wisely and graciously attend to so many and multifarious calls. Here we see how worthless are Popish intercessors, who are only creatures.

5. Our King Must Be Divine.

(c. Christ, through His Holy Spirit, begins His kingly work with us, by "subduing us unto Himself." This is effected in the work of regeneration. Now we shall see, when we discuss effectual calling, that this is a directly almighty work. Our sanctification also demands omniscience. For he who would cure the ulcer, must probe it; but the heart is deceitful beyond all created ken. If the Holy Spirit, who is the practical, indwelling agent of these works, is a creature, then we have but a creature redemption, no matter how divine the Beings that send Him. For the channel of communication to our souls being finite, the communications would be limited. If you have the whole Atlantic Ocean connected with your reservoir by an inch pipe, you can draw but an inch of water at once. The vastness of the source does you no good, beyond the calibre of the connecting pipe. Moreover, Christ has all power committed to His hand, for the Church's good. It requires omniscience to comprehend this, and omnipotence to wield it, especially when we recall the power of our enemies (Romans 8:38, 39Ephesians 6:12).

In fine, all is enhanced, when we remember that our stake is the soul, our all, whose loss is irreparable. There is no comfort unless we have an infallible dependence.