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 13 of 19)
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with you, and most of my brethren in the ministry, in
respect to the advantages of a learned education, you may
think it improper for me to suggest any argument from
the Greek language respecting the Holy Spirit. But not
pretending to much knowledge of that language, permit
'me to ask a few questions. Are not the articles and pro-
nouns in the Greek language, agreeing with the terms Holy
Spirit, uniformly of the neuter gender ? And are not the
articles and pronouns agreeing with the Father and Son,
of the masculine gender ? *And what is the ground of this
distinction, if the Spirit be a proper Person ?

In reply to these questions, it has been said, that the
noun, Spirit, is of the neuter gender ; and the genius of
the Greek language requires, of course, that the articles
and pronouns should be of the neuter gender. Alt this is

On the Character of the Holy Spirit. 131

easVy believed ; not seeing that, in this respect, the genius
of the Greek language differs from our own. But why,
Sir, is the noun neuter ? And how did you know that it
was neuter, but by the neuter articles and pronouns ? Had
masculine articles and pronouns been uniformly used
throughout the New Testament, as agreeing with the noun,
Spirit, would you ever have known or thought that the
noun was of the neuter gender ?

Jn some instances, the translators gave us the pronouns,
agreeing with the Spirit, in the neuter gender, according
to the Greek- 4 ' The Spirit itself be&Yr.tli witness with our
Spirit.**** The Spirit itself makeih intercession for us."- *-
Instead of itself, they might have said himself, as well as
to have given us he, his^ him, for &, zte, &c. And if they
had as uniformly given us the pronouns in the neuter, as
they are so in the Greek, the appearance of the Spirit's
bt ing a distinct Person would have been nearly excluded
from the Bible. And we should have as much reason to
suppose that by " our Spirits" are intended Persons disrnct
from ourselves, as that by jhe " Spirit of God" is intended
a Person distinct from the Father. This probably would
have been completely the case, unless we should have had source of information, by which we should have ; been
able to correct the natural import of inspired language.

This subject of the pronouns is not introduced as having
had any influence in forming mv opinion of the Holy Spirit.
It was formed previous to any information on this particu*
lar. Yet, in my view, this circumstance corroborates that
opinion, and is worthy of the mos 5 serious attention.

No person, in conversation with nie, has pretended to
deny the fact, that the pronouns in Greek for the Spirit
are of the neuter gender ; and no one has given me any
satisfactory reason why they should be translated as per-
sonal pronouns of the masculine gender. It is, however,
possible, that you, or some other person, may yet do it ;
but until it is done, you will allow me to consider the ar-
gument in view, as of great weight against the personality
pjf the Holy Spirit.

1 32 On the Character of the Holy Spir it.



Some Passages considered, -which have been supposed to sup*
port the Personality of the Holy Spirit.


IT may be proper now to pay some attention to those
passagea of Scripture, which have been supposed most cer-
tainly to imply the distinct personality of the Holy Spirit.

1 Cor. ii. 1O. u The Spirit searcheth all things, yea the
deep things of God."

This passage has much of the appearance of favoring the
personality of the Spirit. But if we candidly attend to the
following verse, this appearance may disappear " For what
man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man
that is in him ? Even so, the things of God knoweth no
man, but the Spirit of God." It is obvious, that the Spirit
of God is here represented as bearing the same relation to
God, as the spirit of a man does to the man. But as a man
and his spirit are but one person, so God and his Spirit are
^represented as one Person.

Mr. Jones has quoted the last of these verses, to prove,
in opposition to Arians, that the Spirit of God is essential-
ly God, as truly so as the spirit of man is essentially man.
This text does indeed afford a conclusive argument against;
the Arian hypothesis ; but it also affords an argument
equally conclusive against the hypothesis of Mr. Jones. It
is on the ground of the comparison or parallel exhibited in
the text, that Mr. Jones shows this text to be opposed to
the Arian scheme ; and on the same ground it is as clearly
opposed to his own, unless he would undertake to say that
a man and his spirit are two persons. If he could make
this appear to be true, then he might well argue that God
and his Spirit are also two Persons.

Acts v. 3. u But Peter said, Ananias, why hath satan
filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost ?"

Peter and other apostles had been filled with the Holy
Ghost in a remarkable manner ; and it was doubtless by
the Spirit of God that Peter was enabled to discern the de-
ceit and falsehood of Ananias. His lying, therefore, was
really lying to the Holy Ghgst* Ananias had doubtless

On the Character of the Holy Spirit. 133

been a -witness of the wonderful things which God had
done, and that the apostles had done, by the Holy Ghost,
or in consequence of being u endued with power from on
high," and for him, in the face of those manifestations of
Divine goodness, wisdom, and power, to come forward
with a lie or deceitful pretence to the apostles, was truJy to
u tempt the Spirit of the Lord," or to tempt the Lord to
display the same power in his destruction, that had been
displayed for the salvation of others.

Heb. iii. 7. " Wherefore, as the Holy Ghost saith, To-
day if ye wi'l hear his voice."

We have many instances in Scripture, in which it is rep-
resented that the Ho y Ghost spake, said, &c. The words
of Peter will explain the matter u Holy men of Godspa&e
as they were moved bv the Holy Ghost." [2 Peter i. 21.]
God by his Spiiit or fulness taught them what " they ought
to speak."

2 Cor. xiii. 14. " The grace of our Lord Jesus Christy
and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy
Ghost, be with you all. Amen."

This, passage has often been urged with considerable con-
fidence as a proof that there are three self-existent Persons
in the Godhead, and that the Holy Ghost is one of those
Persons. But a little attention to the natural import of the
passage may be sufficient to show that neither of the^e ideas
are implied. We may note

1. God is here named as a Person distinct from the
Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ is named as a Per*
son distinct from the self-existent God.

2. The text does not say, u communion with the Holy
Ghost," as though the Spirit were a Person ; but u com*
munion of the Holy Ghost," as though the Spirit were
something to be received. We have a similar phraseology,
1 Cor. x. 16. " The cup of blessing wh ch we bless, is it
not the communion of the blood of Christ T"> Neither the
cup nor the blood of Christ is a person ; but a benefit, of
which we may be the thankful partakers. The import of
the benediction may be this, May you experience the grace
of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, by being made
thankful partakers of the Holy Spirit, to sanctify, to teach,
to support, and to comfort you forever.

The phrase u fellowship of the Spirit," is the same in the
original as communion of the Spirit. This by Poole's Con-

134 On the Character of the Holy Spirit.

tinuators is explained to mean, communion among saints
in the "grace of the Spirit." [Phil, ii! 1.]

In our Savior's affectionate discourse with his disciples
before his passion, for their comfort and support, he prom-
ised them the Holy Spirit under the title of the Comforter.
The substance of what he said in that discourse, respecting
the character of the Spirit shall here be brought into view.

" And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you
another Comforter, that he may abide with you forever,
even the Spirit of Truth." [John xiv. 16, 17.]

" But the Comforter, wh'ch is the Holy Ghost, whom
the Father will send jn my name, he shall teach you all
thingS', and bring to your remembrance all things what-
soever I have said unto you." [John xiv. 26,]

" But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send
unto you from the Father, even the spirit of truth
which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me."
[John xv, 26.]

" If I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto
you ; but if I depart, I will send him^unto you ; and when,
he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteous-
ness, and of judgment." [John xvi. 7, 8.]

u When he, the spirit of truth, is come, he will guide
you into all truth, for he shall not speak of himself ; but
whatsoever he shall hear, that shall he spea 1 * : And he will
show you things to come. He shall glorify me, for he shall
receive of mine, and shall show it unto you." [John xvi. 13.]

Had we no other passages of Scripture, by which to de-
termine the character of the Holy Spirit, we should most
natiirclly be led to the conclusion that the Holy Spirit is a
distinct Person. Yet, it may be asked, should we conclude
that the Spirit is a Person independent, and equal with the
Father ? For throughout the whole description, is not the
Spirit represented as subordinate to the will of the Father?

In these passages, Sir, we may contemplate the Holy
Spirit as properly personified under another name, for the
same reason that we personify the natural sun v- hen we
wish to give a striking and impressive view of its glory,
utility, and importance. And yet there seems to have
been particular care taken that our minds should not be
misled by the personification. If you, Sir, will be at the
trouble of removing from these verses the personal pro-
nouns, and write muter pronouns in their room, so far as

On the Character of the Holy Spirit. 13S

the original will justify such a change, you may find the
personification far less strong than it is in our translation.
After you have made this change in the pronouns, you will
not find the Spirit more strongly personified, or spoken of
as a distinct Person from the Father, than the spirit or soul
of man is often personified, or spoken of, ?s a distinct per-
son from the man. Thus the Psalmist addresses his soul,
" Why art t/iou cast down, O my soul ? Why art thou
disquieted within me ? Hope thou in God," &<:. The
rich fool is represented as addressing his soul as it would
be natural to address another person " I will say to my
sou 1 , Soul, thou hast goods laid up for many years, take
thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry."

Moreover, there are several things said of the Com-
forter, which naturally suggest the idea that it is not a
Person, but an emanation of the Divine fulness, which is
intended. When Christ had named the Comforter, he
immediately explained the Spirit of truth ; which natural-
ly suggests the idea, that what he was speaking of was aa
efficient influence or emanation from that God who is
truth. Besides, he said, u The Holy Ghost which pro-
ceedeth from the Father ;" and this is the precise idea of
emanation. But it does not comport with the idea, that
the Spirit is an independent Person, co-equal with the
Father. r L here is, however, still more decisive evidence
to be produced.

These gracious promises of Christ, of the Comforter,
were renewed to the Apostles after Christ had risen from
the dead ; and in renewing the promises, the personifica-
tion was wholly omitted.

In giving an account of what Christ said to his Apostles
between the resurrection and ascension, Luke in his Gos-
pel states, that Christ said to them, " And behold, I send
tke PROMISE of my Father upon you ; but tarry ye at Je-
rusalem until ye be ENDUED WITH POWER FROM ON HIGH."
[Luke xxiv. 49.)

In the introduction to the Acts of the Apostles, Luke
brings the same thing again into view, but in a different
form. After mentioning that Christ " showed himself
alive after his passion, by many infallible proofs, being
seen of the Apostles forty days, and speaking of things per-
taining to the Kingdom of God," he adds, " And being
assembled together with them, commanded them that the/

136 On the Character of the Holy Spirit.

should not depart from Jerusalem, but wait for the promise
of the Father, which, saith he, ye have heard of me. For
John truly baptized -with water, but ^e shall be* baptized
with the Holy Ghost not manv days hence."

The Apostles were inquisitive, and asked, saying, " Lord,
wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom to Israel ?
And he said unto them, It is not for you to know the times
or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power*
But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come
upon you"

In these several accounts there is an obvious reference
to the prior promise of the Comforter ; and these passages
serve to explain the import of that promise. To be endued
with power from on high, to be baptized with the Holy
Ghost) and to have the Comforter sent unto them are all the
same thing. The substance of the whole was this, that
they shoul be endued with supernatural powers, supernatu~
ral fortitude, supernatural support, assistance, and comfort /
and thus be prepared to go forth in the name of Christ to
preach the Gospel, and to confirm their doctrines by signs
and wonders or incontestible miracles.

And it may be worthy of particular notice, that the Holy
Ghost is represented as someth ng w ith which the Apostles
should be baptized, as John baptized with water. " John
truly baptized WITH water, but ye shall be baptized WITH the
Holy Ghost" The HOLY GHOST, in the baptism which the
Apostles were to receive,answers to the WATER in the bap-
tism administered by John. And unless we may suppose
that the water in John's baptism was an agent, we may not
suppose the Holy Ghost to be an agent in the baptism re-
ceived by the apostles.*

The promise of Christ was fulfilled ; for " when the day
of Pentecost was fully come, the Apostles were all with
one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound
from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all
the house where they were sitting. And there appeared
unto them cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat on each

* As the metaphor of water is abundantly used to represent
the Holy Spirit, baptizing WITH the HOLT GHOST harmon-
izes with that metaphor ; the same as flouring out, shedding
forth, sprinkling, &c. In the NewTestament, six times, we have
the representation of baptizing wifH the BOLT GHOST.
where shall we find one instance in which the Holy Spirit is rep-
resented as an Agent or Administrator in baptizing ?

&n the Character of the Holy Spirit. 137

6f them. And they were all filed -with the Holy Ghost,
and began to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gave
them utterance.

Thus, Sir, was Christ's promise of the Comforter fulfil-
led; the Apostles were baptized WITH the Holy Ghost;
they were endued with power from on high ; and as the
first fruits of this power they spake languages that they had
never studied or learned ; and they spake as the Spirit
gave them utterance.

Let us now attend to Peter's account of the fulfilment of
the promise of the Comforter, which he gave in his ser-
mon on that memorable occasion.

" This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are
witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God ex-
alted, and having received of the Father the promise of the
Holy Ghostj he hath SHED FORTH this which ye now see
and hear."

As the Holy Spirit in this baptism answered to the water
in John's baptism, arid as Christ himself had become the
administrator of this baptism, Peter with great propriety
said, <c ZT^hath shed forth this which ye now see and heara"*

Thus evident it is, that, in Peter's view, the Holy Ghost
is something which may be shed forth by the SON of God,
to whom the Spirit had been given not by measure ; by
him, in whom it had pleased the Father that a!! fulness
should dwell. The same view of the Holy Spirit is given
by Paul, in his epistle to Titus u According to his mercy,
he saved us by the washing of regeneration, and renewing
of the Holy Ghost, which he shed on us abundantly
through Jesus Christ our Savior." [Titus iii. 5, 6.]

If by the Holy Spirit be meant the fulness of the God-
head, or an efficient emanation of Divine fulness, the word
shed may very properly be used to express the manner of
its being given or sent. But who will say that this is a
proper term by which to express the act of giving or send-
ing a Person ? And if we may believe that the Apostles
understood the promise of the Comforter, which is the
Holy Ghost, may we not believe that the Holy Spirit is
not a Person distinct from the Father and the Son ?

Thus, Sir, it has been my endeavor to explain what
Christ intended by the Comforter, by making the Scrip-
tures their own interpreter. You will not, it is hoped, see
any sophistry in my reasonings upon this particular* An4

138 On the Character of the Hohj Spirit.

if not, it is believed that you must, at least, very strongly
doubt the correctness of any theory which supposes the
Holy Spirit to be a Person. For in ri<> other instance is
the Spirit so strongly personified as under the name of the

There are two other texts which deserve very particular
attention, viz. Matthew xxviii. 19. and 1 John v. 7. But
my views in relation to these texts will lead me to some
discussions which would be, in this place, rather an inter-
ruption to the mind in regard to the main inquiry. They
shall, therefore, be considered separately in PART IV.
But this may now be premised, that those two texts should
unquestionably be understood in a sense which is consist-
ent with the general tenor of the Gospel in respect to the
Holy Spirit.


Other Considerations, to show, that by the Holy Spirit is not
intended a distinct Person*


HAVING endeavored faithfully to examine most of
those passages of Scripture which have the greatest appear-
ance of favoring your views of the Holy Ghost, and believ-
ing it has been shown that they are perfectly consistent
with my own without any forced construction, some far-
ther considerations, which have had great weight on my
mind against the hypothesis, that the Spirit is a distinct
and self-existent Person, will now be added.
1. Much is said in the Scriptures of the mutual love between
the FATHER and the SON, and the disposition of each to
honor the other ; but where shall we find the least inti-
mation of any love on the part of the Father or the Son
towards the Holy Spirit as a Person ? or on the part
of the Holy Spirit towards either the Father or the
Son ? Yet if the Spirit be a Person, as distinct from the
Father and the Son, as tne Son is from the Father,
should we not have reason to expect the same evidence of
mutual love in the one case as in the other ? And since the

On the Character of the Holy Spirit. 139

evidence of mutual love between the Father and the Son is
so abundant in the Scriptures, and no mention is made 6
any love between the Father and the Spirit, nor between.
th'->Son and the Spirit, have we Dot strong ground to be-
lieve that ihe Spirit is not a distinct Person ?

2. We have much said in the Scriptures of the love of
the Father towards mankind,and also ofthe love of the Son;
but what is said of the love ofthe Spirit towards our ruined
race ?

3. We are required to love the Father, and to love the
Son, as two distinct Persons ; but where do you find any
requirement to love the Spirit as a Person distinct from the
Father or the Son ? Not in the Bible.

\ 4. We have both precept and example for worshipping
the Father and the Son, as two distinct Persons ; but have
we either precept or example in the Scriptures for paying
Divine homage to the Spirit as a Person ?

5. We have an account, in the visions of John, of the
Throne of God and ofthe Lamb ; but does John make any
mention of the Throne of the Holy Ghost ? Or is there
any intimation in the Bible, that the Spirit, as a Person,
has a Throne in Heaven ?

Now, Sir, on the supposition that the Spirit is a Person
co equal with God the Father, how will you be able to ac-
count for these distinctions, or these omissions, in the ,sa-
crr:d Scriptures ? If we could find the same evidence of
mutual love between the Father and the Holy Spirit, as be-
tween the Father and the Son ; and the same evidence that
the Spirit, as a Person, loves mankind, as that the Father
and the Son do ;* or if we could find such evidence in favor
of loving and honoring the Spirit as a distinct Person, as for
loving and honoring the Father and the Son ; it might
seem presumptuous to call in question the personality of the
Spirit. But since the Scriptures are silent in all these im-
portant respects, suffer me to dissent from your opinion ;

* It may be said, that "the love ofthe Spirit" is once men-
tioned by St. Paul, Rom. 15, 30. Bat it is needless to give an ex-
position of my own, to show that the passage does i ot represent
the Spirit as a Person loving. It may suffice to copy the exposi-
tion of Mr. Poole's Continuators, who were Athanasian writers
And for the lo\ e of the Spirit" q. d. " If you love the Spirit of
God ; or rather if the grace of love be wrought in you by the
Spirit, show it \r\ this thing."

I4O On the Character of the Holy Spirit.

and to take the Scriptures for my guide in preference to
any human theory. 1

6. Though St. John had no vision of the Holy Spirit
as personally seated on the Throne, he had a vision of the
enthroned Lamb of God, as having sevtn horns and seven
eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God These seven
Spirits of God have been understood by some Athanasian
Expositors to be the same as the Holy Spirit. This ap-
pears to be correct. But that an individual Person should
be called the seven Spirits of God, must appear very unnatu-
ral ; but if by the Holy Spirit be intended the Divine ful-
ness or sufficiency, this may well enough be called the seven
Spirits of God in reference to its perfection and manifold
operation. In a text, several times quoted, we read, with
respect to the Son, that " God giveth not the Spirit by
measure unto him ;" and, in the passage now before us,
w^ find Christ represented as having seven horns and
seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God. Horr\s
are understood to be an emblem of power, and eyes of
wisdom. Then the seven horns and seven eyes denote the
perfect fulness of Christ, and his all-sufficiency to open the
ook, and to loose the seals, or to direct and govern the af-
fairs of the universe. In view of this plenitude of wisdom
and power, with which the Son was endued, and his tak-
ing the book and opening the seals, all that stood about the
Throne u sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to
take the book, and to open the seals thereof ;for thou wast
slain, an 1 hast redeemed us to God by thy blood, out of
every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation." Let
us, my dear brother, go and do likewise.

Such a Trinity in unity as appears to be represented in
the Scriptures, may be illustrated by the following simile-
Suppose a FOUNTAIN OF LIVING WATERS, a necessary
MEDIUM OF EFFUSION, or display, and an abundant STREAM
proceeding trom the Fountain through the Medium, and
spreading far and wide, producing the most beneficial ef-
Let this FOUNTAIN be supposed to represent the " ONE
GOD, the FATHER, of whom are all things" In this
fountain we may contemplate infinite intelligence, almighty
power, and unbounded benevolence

Let the MJ:DIUM represent the " ONE LORD JESUS
CHRIST, by whom are all things." Let this Medium bf

On the Character of the Holy Spirit. 141

considered as an intelligent Being truly derived from God
before the worlds, in one view properly distinct from the
Father, and in another view perfectly united by the indwell-
ing of Divine fulness-
Let the STREAM, proceeding from the Fountain through
the Medium, represent the HOLY SPIRIT, which proceed-
ethfrom the Father, through the Son, and operates through
the universe.

Does not this illustration preserve the most perfect
unity in God, exalt the Son as Lord of all, and help us to
an easy and natural construction of all that is said in the
Scriptures of the Holy Spirit ? I

In this view of the Trinity, may we not properly ascribe
the attributes of Deity either to the Father, the Son, or the
Holy Spirit, arid yet avoid even the appearance of having

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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 13 of 19)