Noah Worcester.

Bible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of online

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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 12 of 19)
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more than that a Man or mere human nature suffered and
died, to whom the Son of God was mysteriously united ?
And what is all this, Sir, short of philosophizing upon DI-
VINE NATURE, and drawing conclusions at an extraordi-
nary rate ? Would Gabriel himself pretend to so much
knowledge of DIVINE NATURE as thus to contradict DI-

Though I may have been accused of being " too mathe-
matical for the Bible," yet it is my desire never to be so
philosophical as to prefer my own deductions from fancied
properties of the DIVINE NATURE, to the. most explicit de-
clarations of the Word of God. But while thus disapproving
the conduct of my brethren, the Monitor within whispers,
Such has been thy own inconsistency : and, perhaps, as
great inconsisten y, in some other point, still lurks undis-
covered " Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed
lest he fall." *

* Either while asleep, or awake, the following scene has some-
times been presented to my imagination-
The writer of these Letters is called before an Ecclesiastical

Council to answer to a charge of heresy. The accusers, with
solemn formality,, present against him the following articles of
charge :

1. He has publicly taught, That Jesus Christ is the SON of
God, God's OWN SON.

2. He has also taught, That the SON of God did really suffer
on the cross, for the sins of the world.

The Council inquire of the accused in -what sense he under-
stands those propositions.

He replies. According to the common acceptation and most
natural meaning of the words.

The result follows....

* This Council are of opinion, that the said accused is guilty of
heresy. For though in some mysterious sense, Christ is called
the SON of God, yet he is not the Son of God according to the
common acceptation of the term Son : so far from this, he is per-
sonally the only true God; yea,"jESUS w that Goz>, besides whom

I2O On the real Divinity and Glory ofChri&


SINCE writing the foregoing Lettfcr, it has occurred td
me, that there is one mode of illustrating and supporting
the dignity of the sufferer, which has been adopted by some
Athanasians, that has not been partxularly considered.
Asa woman of low rank is exalted by marriage to a worthy
Prince or Potentate, so it has been supposed that the Man
Jesus or the human nature was exalted by union with the
SON OF GOD. Upon this hypothesis, let it be observed,

1. When this ground is taken, the dign ty of the real
sufferer is supposed to result simply from union with a
Person of infinite dignity. The Queen, after marriage,
takes rank from her Royal Husband : so it is supposed
that the Man Jesus is exalted by union with the SON OF
GOD. It is true, that the King and Queen, in a certaia
sense, are vne ; but not in such a sense that the obedience
or the death of the Queen might be properly considered as
the obedience or the death of the King. And if a King,
for a certain purpose, had engaged to obey and to die, his
becoming married to a woman of low rank, and causing
her to die instead of himself, would not be esteemed very
honorable conduct.

there is no other,"* And though it be represented in the Scrip-
tures, that the SON of God suffered ; yet as he is personally the
immutable God, it was im/iossi&le that HE should really suffer.
The Man or human nature suffered, which was united to the
Person of the Son of God : The sufferings, therefore, are called
the sufferings of the Son of God. It is in our view infinitely de-
grading to Christ, to say, that he isfirofierly and truly the Son
of God ; or to say, that HE did really suffer the death of the
cross.' I. Thus far the result.

It has^ however, been intimated to me, that some of our breth-
ren are prepared to evade all I have written on the sufferings of
the Son of God, by saying, that they ever professed to believe
that Christ is the Son of God, and that he suffered on the cross.
I have, Sir, aimed honestly to state the real difference of senti-
ment between us on those two points. If, in any respect, I have
misapprehended your theory, I shall rejoice in being corrected.
And if indeed yoii do believe that Christ i truly the Son of God,
and that HE really suffered on the cross, I shall be happy in be-
ing informed that there is no ground of controversy between us.
But if I have not mistaken your theory, it is believed that you
have too much generosity of soul and uprightness of heart, to
attempt to evade the force of truth by a mere quibble upon words.

* Mr. Jones jiage 2.

On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ* 121

2. The Scripture representation is, that the SON OF
GOD did really abase himself, and become poor, for our
sakes. But on the hypothesis now before us, the scene is
changed Instead of abasing himself, and taking on him
the form of a servant, he took to himself one who was nai*
urally in the form of a servant, and exalted the Man instead
of abasuig himself- Instead of bt ing " made in the likeness
of men, he raise-! a man to the likeness or dign ty of God
-Instead of dying himself, he caused the Man to die to
\vhorii he was united.

It seems to have been the general idea, that the Son o
God became united to the Man or human nature, that he
might be in a situation to obey and to suffer. And yet, on
your theory, it was just as impossible that he should obey
and suffer after the union as it was before. Dr. Hopkins
expressly says, that " this personal union of the Divine na-
ture, or of God the second Person in the Godhead, with
the human nature, does not cause or suppose any change
in the former ; all the change, or that is changeable, is in
the human nature" [System, vol. I. p. 411.] By " the
Divine nature, or God the second Person in the Godhead"
the Doctor meant the SON OF GOD. The Son of God, there-
fore, experienced no change, either in becoming un'ted to
the Man or human nature, nor in consequence of this union
* He was then in precisely the same situation in regard to
Obedience and suffering alter the union, that he \vas before.
What, then, Sir, has the SON OF GOD either done or suf*
fered for our salvation ? And why will you pretend that
he became united to a Man that he might obey and suffer ?

3. If a mere Man, by virtue of a union with the Son of
God, might derive such dignity as to atone for the sins of
the world, it is evident that the same dignity might result
from the same mysterious union between the s .me M<m
and the Father. And as the Man Christ Jesus never spake
of his union with a second D vine Person, but often spake
of his union with the Father, the probability would be much
in favor of the idea that his union was with the Father.
If, then, the Socinians would only add to their theory the
idea of a mysterious union between the Man Christ Jesus
and God the Father, what would be the difference between
your Savior a- d theirs ? It is not in my power to discern
that there would be so much as one shade of difference. -^-
The Man Jesus, considered separately from his union with

122 On the real Divinity and Glory of Christ.

the Godhead, is perhaps as great on their theory as on
yours ; nor will you pretend that the Son is greater than
the Father. If the Socinians would ohly annex that one
idea to their theory, it does not appear that you would have
the least ground to dispute with them about the greatness
of the SAVIOR, however much you might dispute about
the number of SELF-EXISTENT PERSONS. Be not, Sir, of-
fended at this comparison : my aim here is simply to
urge you to inquiry, and to a thorough examination of your
own theory.




By the Holy Spirit is intended the same as the Fulness of the



HAVING stated to you my views of the Father and
the Son, the Character of the Holy Ghost will now be con-
sidered. On this point the Oracles of God are our only
guide ; and to their dictates it behoves us to submit with

You will not consider me insensible of my accountability
to God in regard to aU my writings : nor can you reason-
ably view me as haying any interest to promote, aside from,
the promotion of Truth.

If your views of the Holy Ghost are according to truth,
certainly there can be nothing for me to gain by advancing
and advocating a different hypothesis : unless it may be for
my advantage to expose myself to censure and reproach.

On the other hand, if my views are according to truth,
it is as important for you, as it is for me, to understand and
admit them.

Your having so great a majority of the Christian world
on your side, is not sufficient to secure to you the approba- -
tion of God. -Be entreated to keep these things in mind,
while you read and reflect on the important subject now
before us.

From what you have already seen on the character of
God and his Son, you have doubtless concluded, that in my
view the Holy Spirit is not a self-existent Person. You

124 On the Character of the Hcly Spirit.

now see, that in my view the Holy Spirit is compre*
h-nd; d in the self-existence of Jehovah, fcut without distinct
personality. The terms Holy Spirit, or Holy Ghost, as
used in Scripture, do not appear to me intended to express
another Person besides the Father and the Son ; yet, to my
understanding, thu se terms convey an 'dea of that which is
of no less estimation. It is that in God, by which he is able
to do good and communicate, either immediately, or through
the instrumenta ity of other agents.

.By the Holv Ghost, radically considered, the same is

Understood as by the phrase, thefiiinfss of the Godhead. Yet

the terms Holy Spirit, ire, it Is thought, most commonly

app'ied to the productive, efficient emanations of Divine


The following phrases, appear to be perfectly synony-
mous The Holy Ghost the Holy Spirit the Spirit of
G0</ the Spirit 'of the Lord the Spirit of the Lord God
the Spirit of the Father. That these are synonymous, will
probably not be denied by any person well acquainted with
the Scriptures. And should anyone be disposed to deny
3t, the idea may be fairly established by comparing; Scrip*-
tun; with Scripture.

My ideas of the Spirit may be better understood by a
little attention to some Scripture metaphors God is rep-
resented bv the metaphor of the natural Sun. u The Lord
God is a SUN." T!u ; n the rays of light and heat, which,
emanate or proceed from the sun, are an emblem of the
**- rioly Spirit which proceedeth from the Father." Like the
rays of the sun, these Divine emanations of the fulness of
God, illuminate, quicken, invigorate, and fructify.

God is also represented as a Fountain of living waters.
If we consider the Fountain as in the earth, then the eifu-
sions or streams which proceed from the Fountain may
represent the Holy Spirit. But if \ve consider the Foun-
tain as. a fountain of vapor in the air, then the showers of
yain or dcrv will properly represent the emanations of Z)z-
vine fullness.

Bv the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, is not, in my
vie xv, intended any one attribute merely, but all those at-
tributes which are implied in the FULNESS or ALL-SUFFI-
C*E\'CY of the Godhead.

Before an attempt to explain those texts pf Scripture
which have been supposed to import that tne Spirit of God

On the Character of the Holy Spirit.

is a distinct Person from the Father and the Son, it may
b^ well to exhibit a part of the considerations which have
had influence on iny mind in favor of giving up that opin-

1. It has appeared to me inconsistent to suppose that
the Spirit should be both a self-existent Person and the
Spirit of a Person ; yet the Spirit is perhaps spoken of as
the Spirit of a Person twentv times to its being once spok-
en of as though it were a distinct Person. There are in-
deed several instances in which the Holy Spirit is personi-
fied or spoken of as it would be natural to speak of a Pvr-
son ; but the number of these instances is much less than
was expected previous to inquiry. And it is observab'e
that the spirit or soul of man is also several times personi-
fied in the Bible, and spoken of as though it were some-
thing distinct from the man ; or as though the man and his
spirit were two persons. Instances of this are perhaps
nearly as numerous as the instances in which the Spirit of
God is personified. But it ought to be distinctly noted,
that when we have become habituated to the idea that by
the Holy Spirit is intended a Person, the idea of a Person
will immediately arise in our minds, upon hearing or see-
ing the words Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost. So if we had
been taught from our infancy that the natural sun is a per-
son, then we should think of it as such whenever it should
come into view. This may account for its having been
supposed that there is much in the Scriptures in favor of
the distinct personality of the Holy Ghost.

In general, throughout the Bible, the Holy Spirit is
spoken of as the spirit of a person, just as we speak of the
spirit of man as the spirit of a person ; and in the same
manner as the sacred writers speak of the attributes of God;
not as distinct Persons, but as something of a. Person, or
in a Person, or belonging to a Person. The inspired wri-
ters speak of the Spirit of Man, the Spirit of God, the
Spirit of the Lord, the Wisdom of God, the Power of
God, the Goodness of God, and the Will of God.

We may also observe, that when God speaks of the
Spirit, he says, " my Spirit," just as he says, " mi/ Power,'*
** my Goodness," &c. These and similar forms of speech,
respecting the Holy Spirit, are very numerous in the Bi-
ble, and they naturally convey the idea that the Spirit of
God is not a distinct Person, but the Spirit of a Person j

126 On the Character of the Holy Spirit.

as naturally as the forms of speech respecting Wisdom,
Power, and Goodness, convey the idea that they are at*
tributes of a Person, and not so manyMist'nct Persons.

If it were admitted, that the term God means three self-
existent Persons, even on that supposition the phrase, the
Spirit of God, would not imply that the Spirit is one of those
Persons, but it would be the Spirit of three Persons.

If the Holy Spirit be a self-existent Person distinct
from the Father, it is doubtless an important truth, and one
l^hich we should not expect would have been unrevealed
until the taking place of the Gospel dispensation. Yet may
it not be said with safety, that there is no more evidence
in the Old Testament of the distinct personality of the Ho-
ly Spirit, than there is of the distinct personality of the
Power of God, or the Knowledge of God, or the Goodness
of God ? * faK as before observed, the Spirit is uniform-
ly spoken of as something belonging to God, and not as a
distinct Person.

The phrases " the Spirit of God," " the Spirit of the
Lord," my Spirit," thy Spirit," " his Spirit," are the
usual phrases by which the Ghost is represented in
the Old Testament. The terms, " the Holy Ghost," are
not, I think, to be found in it. The terms, Holy Spirit,
are found three times ; and in each of those instances it is
spoken of as the spirit of a person, and not as being a self-
existent Person. " Take not thy Holy Spirit from me."
" And vexed his Holy Spirit 1 ' " And put his Holv Spirit
within him." Unless, then, the saints under the Old Tes
tament had some evidence which has not come to us, was
it possible that they shou d believe that by the Spirit of God,
or the Holy Spirit, was intended an independent Person
co-eternal with the Father ?

The manner of representing the Holy Ghost in the Old
Testament is common in the New. We often read, in the
New Testament, of the Spirit of God, the Spirit of the
Lord ; we also read of the Spirit of the Father, and his
Holy Spirit.

Some writers, if I have not misunderstood them, have
been disposed to make a distinction between what they call
" the personal Spirit," and the Spirit of God or the ema-
nations of Divine fulness ; but I have not been able to find
any ground for this distinction. That which is called the
Spirit of God, or the Spirit of the Lord, in one place, is

On the Character of the Holy Spirit. I2f

called the Holy Ghost in another. In the prophecy of
Isaiah, we have several predictions respecting the Son of
God, and his being endued with the Spirit of the Lord
" I have put my Spirit upon him" "The Spirit of the Lord
God is upon me," &c. These predictions were fulfilled
on the day of Christ's baptism, when the Holy Ghost
descended upon him. Matthew says, " the Spirit of God
descended :" Mark and John simply say, u the Spirit
descended ;" but Luke, in giving the same .account, says,
" the Holy Ghost descended." From these passages it is
evident, that " the Spirit," " the Spirit of the Lord," " the
Spirit of God," and " the Holy Ghost," mean the same
thing. Moreover, when the Holy Ghost was given to the
Apostles in such an extraordinary manner, on the day of
Pentecost, Peter in his sermon said, " This is that which
was spoken of by the propKet Joel, And it shall come to
pass in the last days, saith God, that J will pour out of my
Spirit upon all flesh."

There is another class of parallel texts which may help
us to some correct ideas of the Holy Ghost. When Christ
sent forth his disciples to preach, he forewarned them that
they should be brought before Governors and Kings for his
sake. " But," said he, " when they deliver you up, take
no thought how or what ye shall speak ; for it shall be giv-
en you in that same hour what ye shall speak : for it is not
ye that speak, but the Spirit of your Father which speaketh
in you." [Matt. x. 19, 20.] This is Matthew's represen-
tation. Mark expresses the same thing thus, " For it is
not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost." [Mark xiii. 11.]
Luke says, u For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the
same hour what ye ought to say." [xii. 12.] And Luke,
in another place, repeats this, or a similar promise of
Christ, in these words, " For I will give you a mouth,
and wisdom, which all your adversaries shall not be able
to ga : nsay nor resist." [ch. xxi. 15.] From these several
passages compared, it clearly appears, that the Spirit of the
Father, and the Holy Ghost, are the same thing ; that the
Spirit of the Father speaking in them, the Holy Ghost's
speaking, the Holy Ghost's teaching them what they ought
, to speak, and Christ's giving them a mouth and wisdom,
are all of the same import ; and that the sum of the
promise to the Apostles was, that they should be endued

JL28 On the Character of the Holy Spirit*

with supernatural sufficiency or assistance on such

2. That the Holy Spirit, or the Spirit of God, is not a
distinct Person, may appear from a number of other terms
which are used as synonymous.

The breath of the Lord is used as synonymous with the
Spirit of the Lord. The wicked are represented as con-
st med both by the "breath of the Lord," and by the
" Spirit of the Lord**" By the blast of God they perish,
and by the breath of his mouth are they consumed" " And
then shall that wicked be revealed whom the Lord shall
consume with the Spirit of his mouth" Moreover, as an
emblem of giving the Spirit , Christ breathed on his dis-
ciples, and said, " Receive ye the Holy Ghost."

The HAND of the Lord and the SPIRIT of the Lord are
used as synonymous. " So the SPIRIT of th* Lord lifted
me up, and took me away but the HAND of the Lord was
Strong upon me" u B^* his Spirit he hath garnished the
heavens ; his hand hath formed the crooked serpent"-^
44 The heavens are the work of thv hand" u And the hand
of the Lord was with them, and a great multitude believed
and tiir ed to the Lord."

Thtjinger of God and the Spirit of God arc synony-
mous. u Bv his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens"
44 1 consider the heavens the work of thy finger f " But if
1 cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the Kingdom
of God is come unto you" u But if I with thejinger of
God cast out devils, no'doubt the Kingdom of God is come
upon \ou."

Can it be viewed as proper or respectful to speak of one
self-existent P< rson as the breath, the hand, or the finger,
of another co-equal Person ?

As the arm, the hand, or \hefinger of a person, is sub-
ordinate to his will, so the Spirit of God is uniformly-
represented as subordinate to the will of God. And as
any thing which is done bv the hand of a man, is clone by
the man, so any thing which is done bv the Spirit of God,
is done by God. Accordingly, in the Scriptures, the same
things are at one time attributed to God, and at another to
the Spirit of God, or the Holy Ghost.

3. The metaphors made use of in Scripture to repre-
sent the Spirit, the act of giving or sending the Spirit, and
the descent ot the Spirit, are clearly against the opinion that

On the Character of the Holy Spirit. 129

the Spirit is a distinct Person. Water is the metaphor
most frequently used to represent the Spirit ; and the act
of sending or giving the Spirit is represented by pouring
out, shedding forth, sprinkling^ -washing, or baptizing ;
and the descent of the Spirit is compared to the descent of
rain and dew*

Giving the Spirit is also compared to giving water to
drink, and to anointing with oil. And in reference to the
impression the Spirit makes on the hearts of saints, it is
compared to ink.

Can you, Sir, suppose, that these metaphors and repre-
sentations properly apply to a Person, or to the act of send-
ing a self-existent Person ? Pouring out and sprinkling
are perhaps the most common metaphors to represent the
act of sending the Holy Spirit ; and what metaphors could
you invent more improper to represent the act of sending
a Person ? It is GOD who says, " I will pour out my
Spirit." And if you say by GOD is meant only one of three
self-existent Persons, will you also say that one self-exist-
ent Person promises that he will pour out another self-
existent Person ?

Permit me, Sir, to ask, what do you mean when you
pray to God to pour out his Spirit'? Do you mean to ask
one self-existent Person to pour out another ? Do you not
mean to ask God to make a gracious display of his fulness
for the production of some important effects ?

When you speak of a great out-pouring of the Spirit of
God, do you mean to represent that one self-existent Per-
son has made a great out-pouring of another co-equal Per-
son ? Do you not mean that God has made a great display
of his power, wisdom, and goodness, upon the hearts and
minds of men ? It is presumed you will admit that the
latter is your meaning. And it is a comforting thought
that my views of the Spirit not only accord with the natural
import of Scripture language, but with what appears to
be the real views of God's people in their prayers for the

3. The Spirit of God is spoken of in the Scriptures as
something which may be given by measure, or without
measure ; and when communicated or displayed by meas-
ure, we may speak of a residue.

After John the Baptist had seen the emblem of the
descent of the Holy Ghost upon^the Son of God, he not

13Q On the Character of the Holy Spirit.

only bare record that He is the Son of God, but also that
44 He ^ horn Gcd hath sent, speaketh the words of God ;
for God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him" In
this verse, the Sr>n's having the Spirit Without measure, is
given as the reason why the words which he speaketh are
the -words of God.

As the Son of God had the Spirit not by measure, so he
had it in a manner that he could communicate it to others ;
therefore John further testified, " This is He, or the same
is He, which b 'ptizeth with the Holy Ghost" But while
the Son had the Spirit without measure, the Apostles and
saints had it by measure.

The prophet Malachi, in leaving testimony against the
conduct of the Jews in putting away their wives, brings
into view the wise conduct of God in creation, in making
but one ivoman for one man 4t And did not he make one ?
yet had he the residue of the Spirit" The idea intended
to be communicated appears to be this, that God did not
neg'ect to make more than one woman for one man through
any defect of wisdom, power, or goodness. Had it been
best, he was all-sufficient to have made more, and would
have done it. Does not, then, this text plainlv suggest,
that by the Spirit is intended the fulness or all-sujjiciency of
God ? And do not the phrases, the Spirit by measure^
and the residue of the Spirit, naturally oppose the opinion
that by the Spirit is intended a distinct and independent
Person ?

As infinite wisdom saw fit not to place me on a level

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Online LibraryNoah WorcesterBible news, of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit : in a series of letters. In four parts. I. On the unity of God. II. On the real divinity and glory of Christ. III. On the character of the Holy Spirit. IV. An examination of difficult passages of Scripture. The whole addressed to a worthy minister of → online text (page 12 of 19)