Thomas Smyth.

Complete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D online

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call sufferings in this life, but is there any consolation for us
in our sins ? Can Christ sympathize with us, when we experi-
ence the bitterness of remorse, the tortures of an accusing con-
science? Aye, even here, Christ can feel for us. He never

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sinned, it is true, never did guile proceed from his mouth, no
stain of iniquity ever was in his heart ; if so, the hopes of men
were dashed to earth. But though Christ was spotless, yet we
read, that as he was our substitute, God laid on him, as if he
were guilty, all the consequence of our crime, and he had then
to wither under the curse, and then to writhe under the agony
and remorse of sin. If Christ tasted all this, can he not feel
for you ?

Oh, brother in the faith, who hast been betrayed into trans-
gression; recollect that Jesus reproved Peter after his base
denial, after his ungrateful and cowardly desertion of his
master in the last extremity, with no more bitter censure than
this "Simon Peter, lovest thou me ?" Your blessed and divine
master is ready to pity and pardon you in your transgressions,
apply to him, "he ever liveth to make intercession" for you,
pray to him, that you may "go and sin no more." Are there
among us yet, any that have not gone to Jesus, that have never
sought an interest in his intercession, or entreated him saying,
"Lord, save or I perish ?" You may think your iniquity is too
great to be forgiven, and that the amount of your crimes is too
heavy to be removed by any act of divine mercy ; God has told
you, "as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed
our transgressions from us." God has told you that his Son
died for the chief of sinners. Are you the chief of sinners?
Are you a blasphemer, an obstinate, daring infidel? No; well,
then, come now to this Jesus, who "ever liveth to save to the
uttermost those who come imto God by him." Place the great-
est monster the world ever saw under the teaching of the gos-
pel, and if he is brought to believe it, as sure as God is in
heaven he shall be saved ; for God has said, "whosoever believ-
eth shall not be confounded."

Sinners, there is but one crime unpardonable, and it is the
entire, enduring, obstinate rejection of Jesus. If he was a
mere brother beloved, "a brother bom for adversity," full of
sensibility, sympathy, tenderness, your coldness towards him is
an aggravation of all past sins. Cast not away then the gospel
of pardon and salvation, but draw near to him who ever liveth
to make intercession for lost sinners, who can save to the utter-
most and "your souls shall live."

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They received only a single apocrsrpal Gospel which, by muti-
lation and corruption, they had made to harmonize with their
own peculiar views, and discarded the whole canonical New
Testament as it has been delivered down to us.

Having thus disposed of the objections suggested by our
general scriptural argument for the Trinity, we now proceed to
call attention to one particular scriptural proof of the doctrine
of the Trinity, and that is, the divine commission of our Lord
and Saviour considered in connection with the form of christian

The baptismal as well as ministerial commission is found in
Matt. 28:19 in these words, "Go ye therefore, and teach all
nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the
Son, and of the Holy Ghost."

That this passage forms a part of the original text is, and
must be, admitted. Unitarians indeed have dared to suspect,
and some of them positively to assert, that it is a spurious addi-
tion. But, as Dr. Pye Smith with unusual severity remarks,*
"This insinuation, or assertion, is in contradiction to all fair
evidence, and in despite of all legitimate criticism. All the
evidence by which the text of ancient authors is settled, is
incontrovertibly in favour of the genuineness of the passage.
The anxiety and the efforts to expunge this text, even by means
so flagrantly unworthy of liberal learning, indicate a strong
feeling that it cannot, by fair interpretation, be made consonant
with Unitarian views."

The christian benediction is found in ii. Cor. 13, 14, "The
grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the
communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." A
similar form of christian salutation is contained in Rev. i. 4, 5,
"Grace be unto you, and peace, from him, which is and which
was, and which is to come ; and from the seven Spirits which
are before his throne ; and from Jesus Christ, who is the faith-
ful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of
the kings of the earth."

In reference to this last passage Dr. Smith remarks as the
conclusion of a critical examination of the passage,t "I conceive
that the principles of rational interpretation authorize our coin-
ciding with those interpreters who understand by the expres-
sion "the Seven Spirits which are before the throne," that one

♦Test, to Messiah, vol. 3, p. 23.
IPyc Smith 3, p. 144.

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Divine Person who is called in Scripture the Holy Spirit, and
the Spirit of God."

The general import, so far as they relate to the doctrine of
the Trinity, of these several passages is the same. The bap-
tismal communion and the benediction both alike refer to the
three persons — Father, Son, and Spirit as objects of worship,
sources of all spiritual and divine blessings, and therefore as
equally divine, omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. The
first forms the basis on which Christianity is made to rest, —
the initiatory form of christian dedication and profession, —
and the latter forms the short and closing form of christian
prayer salutation and benediction to be used in all occasions of
christian worship.

We shall confine our remarks chiefly to the former, that is,
to the instituted form of baptism, since much of what will be
brought forward in elucidation of its bearing upon the doctrine
of the Trinity will apply equally to the latter.

This is the language of the risen Saviour before ascending
up to that glory which he had with the Father from before the
foundation of the world. It was delivered to the collected body
of his disciples, met by appointment in Galilee. It was intro-
duced with the declamation that all power of every kind, the
highest authority in heaven and on earth was delivered unto
Him. That is as the only begotten Son of God, he derived
from God the communication of that divine essence which
involved power and prerogatives which could neither be
received nor exercised by any being less than God. And con-
sidered as referring also to his mediatorial character and work
it is to be borne in mind that,* "The mediatorial function, and
the assuming of human nature in order to discharge that func-
tion, constitute a new office, a new character, new manifesta-
tions of the uncreated glory to intelligent beings, a new kind and
course of relation to those beings. In the contemplation of
these, nothing can be more proper than to say that the dominion
and glory of Christ are the gift to him of the Divine Father,
"of whom are all things ;" while the essential excellences of his
superior nature remain necessarily unchangeable, because they
are infinite."

In these words therefore we have the authoritative commis-
sion upon which rests the ministry, ordinances, and order of
the church of Christ upon earth. It refers to all nations, and
to all ages, and to every thing pertaining to the discipling or

*Smith, Messiah, vol. 2, p. 186.

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converting of men to the faith as it is in Jesus, and to instruct-
ing them, when baptized, in the doctrines and duties of Chris-
tianity as there known or to be communicated by Christ through
His Spirit and the Apostles as inspired by Him. And as tliis
commission is introduced with the declaration of Christ's infi-
nite dignity and powei so it is closed with the same assurance of
omnipresent and omniscient abiHty to bless, prosper and govern
those who acted in conformity to his command. This, then, is
the fundamental, permanent and supreme constitutional basis
of the Church of God under its last and christian dispensation.*

♦Similar is the declaration in Matt 18 : 20 : "For where two or three are
gathered together in my name there am I in the midst of them." Smith 2,
p. 224, 225, 226. "What, then, is it, to be gathered together to the name
of Christ ?" The connexion plainly shows, that it is the union of christians,
for the preservation of good order and purity among themselves, with social
prayer tor the divine direction and blessing. "Again, verily I say unto you,
that if two of you consent upon earth, concerning any matter about which
they may supplicate, it shall be done for them by my Father who is in
heaven : for where are two or three gathered together unto my name, there
am I in the midst of them."

"It appears therefore that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (his perfec-
tions and glories manifested in his revealed truth), is the object, to do
honour to which the social worship of christians is to be conducted ; and
that the language especially selected by him, for conveying this declara-
tion, is in exact conformity with that which in the Old Testament is appro-
priated to the Eternal Deity. Is it imaginable that the wisest, meekest,
and best of teachers would have selected such language as this — language
by no means of frequent occurrence, if he were conscious to himself of
nothing, in nature and condition, above the rank of a human prophet!
Upon the hjrpotheses of denying any such superior and truly Divine nature,
would not this language be a most unwarrantable, unnecessary, and danger-
ous deviation from plain modes of speech ; seeming, at least, to intrench
upon the prerogatives of the Divine Majesty, and likely to be an occasion
of serious error and actual idolatr>' I

Christ promises a peculiar presence of himself : "There am I in the midst
of them.''

To be in the midst, CJlfnil *°^ iHlH)* '« * Jewish phrase, frequent

in the Old Testament, applied to every variety of subject, and simply denot-
ing presence: sometimes with the accessory idea of presiding, as in the
prophe<nr of Zephaniah ; "The righteous Jehovah in the midst of her : — ^the
King of Israel, Jehovah, in the midst of thee ; — ^Jehovah, thy God, in the
midst of thee, mighty."

The question is : "In what sense is this presence attributed to Christ ?"
After a very full and lengthened examination of all possible modeo of
interpreting the passage, see p. 225-235. Dr. Smith thus concludes: "It
remains for me to express my conviction, founded on the preceding reasons,
that the only fair and just interpretation of this important passage is that
which regards it as a declaration of such a spiritual and emcient presence
as implies Divine perfections: such a special exercise of power and mercy
as in the use of this phrase, the Scriptures habitually ascnbe to the Deity ;
and such as involves the attribute of omnipresence." Smith 3, p. 458,
459. The ancient Rabinnical Jews attribute this condescension to the She-
cinah ; which term they applied to the Messiah : "Where two sit together,
and their conversation is not of the law, that is the seat of the scomer. —
But where two sit together and converse upon the law, the Divine Majesty
(the Shecinah) dwells between them ; according to (the declaration.) They
that fear the Lord converse each one with his neighbour, and the Lord
hears it and observes it, and a memorial is written before him for them."
Pirke Avoth (Dictates of the Fathers), one of the most revered parts of

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Of this church, or of this dispensation of the church, rather,
baptism is made the initiatory rite, sign, and seal instead of
circumcision and sacrifice which had hitherto existed. For
the alteration of the sacramental sign of initiation into the
church of God this is the only positive authority besides apos-
tolic example. Baptism is therefore every where said to be in
the name of Christ, as denoting his authority,* in the origin of
the institution, or "to his name" as the object of the honor and
obedience implied in this observanccf

And whatever may be, in other respects, the nature and
extent of that honour and obedience which are here signified,
it is unquestionable that they recognize their object as the
Head of a religious dispensation.

What then does this instituted sacrament of initiation into
the christian church import. If we revert to the sacrifices
which constituted the primitive form of initiation into the
church of God and the mode by which the Sons of Grod and the
sons of men were distinguished — ^the manner in which men
called upon the name of the Lord — and the manner in which
Noah and Job deprecated divine anger, implored divine blessing
and returned grateful thanks for divine favours to them and
their children — we are led to regard baptism as an act of invo-
cation imploring divine blessings, — ^as an act of divine authority
administered in the name and by the divine commission of the
parties in whose name it is performed, — as an act of dedication
by which the parties baptized are devoted to their worship,
honor, and service, — and as an act of solemn covenant in which
God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost ratify by an outward seal

the Mishna, of which it forms the Fourth Seder and the Tenth Book.
The Jews attribute it to a very high antiquity, and there can be no reason-
able doubt of its having been in their possession from, at the lowest, the
third or fourth century. This passage is in Surenhusiur's Mishna, part
II, p. 435 and Rabe's German Translation (Onolzback, 1760) vol. 4, p. 276.

On this passage of Scripture, Abaddee remarks, p. 240, 241 : "A promise
this, which Christ could not perform, as man, but only as God : because, as
man, he is limited by time and place ; as God, he acts independently on
both. To say that he is in the midst of our religious assemblies by his
Spirit is not sufficient For if the Spirit intended be the Spirit of Christ,
Christ must be God; because that Spirit is present, with devout worship-
pers, in all places at the same time. But that Jesus is really and properly
God, our opponents will not allow. The Spirit in question, therefore, must
be that of the Father, and not of Christ ; consequently, not our Lord, but
Divine Father, is present in our assemblies. Nor is Jesus said to be in the
midst of his people *by faith,' which is ^ft of the Holy Ghost. Elisha
received a portion of the Spirit of Elijah, in receiving from God such gifts
as were similar to those of Elijah ; yet it is never said that Elijah was with
the Jews, or in the midst of their assemblies, after his ascension into

♦Acts 10 :48.

tActs 8 : 10 and 19 : 5, and 2 : 38, when it is 2 1 with regard to Christ.

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and a sacramental ordinance the covenant of grace, making
over to the parties baptized the several blessings promised by
binding them on their part to seek and to secure them in the
way of God's appointment.

The church, by its ministers, is therefore required to baptize,
consecrate and introduce into the church under its christian dis-
pensation, all such persons of every nation and people under
the whole heaven, as had ever been initiated, and she is to do
this in the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, and as author-
ized to do it as their representatives. God thus engages to ful-
fill to every one thus baptized the promise "he that believeth
and is baptized shall be saved." "To this," to use the language of
Calamy,* "God in baptism sets his seal ; and all the sacred three
are concerned. The Father engages that He will be reconciled
and gracious ; the Son that he will fully act the part of a kind
and faithful mediator; and the Holy Ghost, that he will be a
sanctifier, guide and comforter. All this is as certain, in the
case of persons truly devoted, and that are afterwards faithful,
as it is that water which we see with our bodily eyes is applied
in the sacred name of the triune God. And we ministers by
applying this water in their name, do in their stead give assur-
ance of all this. And it being but agreeable to our commission
so to do, it may as much be depended on by persons truly seri-
ous, that these engagements will be answered, as if each of the
sacred three assumed a bodily shape, and gave verbal assurance
of it."

Before this commission was given, baptism, administered byf
John into the name of Him who was to come, or by the dis-
ciples of Christ into the name of Jesus, was, legitimate and per-
fect for all purposes, because it was so ordained by the supreme
authority ; but now that the recognition of the Persons is dis-
tinctly prescribed, to omit any of them would be an act of dis-
obedience to the command of Christ.

Baptism therefore "signifies the full and entire consecration
of the person who is baptized to the service and honor of that
Being, in whose name it is administered." But if this is the only
signification we can attach to baptism — ^then it follows that this
consecration can never be made to CJod and two of his
creatures, nor to God with one of his creatures together with
an attribute an energy and a mode of operation. Such an idea
would be as absurd as it is impious.

*Calamy on Trinity, p. 171.

tThe Jews in the name of the Father only.

18— Vol. IX.

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What ! baptize in the name of God and two creatures, in the
name of God and two servants, the one inferior to the other!
I baptize thee in the name of the Father, and of the Son, his
servant and of the Holy Ghost, an inferior servant! the serv-
ant of a servant — the creature of a creature! Such, when
analyzed, is the Arian baptism. On the same principles of
analysis, the Arian benediction will run thus. The grace of the
Lord Jesus Christ, a creature of God, a servant of the Deity,
and the love of God — and the communion of the Holy Ghost, a
servant of Jesus Christ — a servant of a servant be with you
all. Amen.

And this absurdity and impiety would be increased when to
use the words of Dr. Wardlaw* the words are considered as
the terms of an initiatory rite, connected with a religion, in
which all worship but what is addressed to the one Jehovah, is
under every form, whether expressed or implied, so decidedly
condemned. The apostles were to teach the Gentiles, that they
should "turn from those vanities which they worshipped, to the
living God:" and those who received their instructions they
were to baptize "in the name of the Father, the Son, and Holy
Spirit." What, then, must have occurred to their hearers and
converts, from the use of these words, but that they were now,
instead of the multitude of their former deities, to adore and
serve the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, as the one
living and true God ? Baptism was to be administered, in the
name of all the three, in the very same way; and surely, there-
fore, there is the fairest reason to conclude, in the same sense.
It is not, "baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of his
two servants, the Son and the Holy Spirit ;" — nor even, "bap-

*0n the Socinian Controversy, p. 49, 50.

Wardlaw, p. 50, 51. "On what principle of criticism, then, are we to
interpret the expression, 'the grace, or favour, of our Lord Jesus Christ,'
an expression so precisely the same in form, in a different sense ? in a sense
that does not imply Jesus Christ's being the object of a similar inward
aspiration? And the same question might be asked, with regard to the
remaining phrase, 'the communion of the Holy Spirit.' It should be con-
sidered, too, that the Corinthians, to whom he thus wrote, would at once
associate the phraseology employed with the terms of the initiatory ordi-
nance of baptism, to which they had submitted on their entrance into the
christian church. They would perceive the coincidence between the one
and the other ; and would understand the apostle as addressing himself, in
their behalf, to the three persons in whose name they had, upon his own
instruction, been baptized. I would only further ask at present, how we
can suppose an inspired man, or even a man of common understanding,
to recommend, in the solemn language of prayer, his converts and brethren,
to the love of God, and to the favour and communion of two of his
creatures : or to the love of God, the favour of a man, and the communion
of an attribute, or influence, or energy? and that, too. not only in terms
so exactly alike, but with a precedence given to the creature, in the order
of address?"

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tizing them in the name of God, and of Christ, and of the
Spirit ;" but, without the slightest intimation or symptom of any
change in the meaning of the expression, in its application to
one of the persons more than another — ^**baptizing them in the
name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit."
The very same kind, and the very same degree, of honour and
reverence, that are paid in this rite to one, are paid, as far as
language can indicate the meaning of the speaker, alike to all."

This baptismal commission therefore implies necessarily
invocation of the divine persons in whose name it is performed.
It is the solemn invocation of all those blessings which consti-
tute the glad tidings of great joy, the fulness of the blessings
of the gospel of Christ, peace with God and life everlasting,
for every helpless, guilty, sinful child or adult who is baptized,
from those whose Godlike prerogative it is to bestow grace,
mercy and peace. It is a solemn invocation addressed by the
minister, the church, and the parents, to those divine beings
who are supposed to be present and able to accomplish what is
desired. And these persons, though not sensibly, are believed
to be really present, such prayer is an act of religious worship.
The blessings sought are not of that kind which one creature is
competent to bestow upon another. They refer both in bap-
tism and in the benediction to the judicial state of an accounta-
ble being before God ; to the remission of moral offences ; to
the production and preservation of certain mental qualities,
which none can efficaciously and immediately give but He who
holds the dominion of human minds and feelings ; and to the
enjoyments of supreme and endless felicity. They are Grace,
Mercy, and Peace: Grace; the free favour of the Eternal
Majesty to those who have forfeited every claim to it; such
favour as is, in its own nature and in the contemplation of the
supplicant, the sole and effective cause of deliverance from the
greatest evils and acquisition of the greatest good : Mercy; the
compassion of infinite goodness, conferring its richest bestow-
ments of holiness and happiness on the ruined, miserable and
helpless: Peace; the tranquil and delightful feeling which
results from the rational hope of possessing these enjoyments.
These are the highest blessings that Omnipotent Benevolence
can give, or a dependent nature receive."

The Sacred Three are not only distinctly named, but invoked,
and called upon for needful help to keep the bond which the
parties baptized are brought under. And therefore Origen
represents baptism as an invocation of the adorable Trinity.

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Athanasius, speaking of the form of baptism, says, "What
society and communion can a creature have with the Creator?
Why is that which was made reckoned up with the Maker?"
And Gregory Nazianzen says, "The Trinity is not an enumera-
tion of unequal things, but a complexion or comprehension of
those that are equal and alike in honour."

Baptism also as certainly and necessarily implies, dedication
to these three persons as invocation.. The object held forth in
this ordinance is unquestionably recognized as the head of the
christian dispensation, the foundation on which it rests, the
source of its authority and blessings and the distinguishing
badge of peculiar and characteristic doctrine of Christianity.
God therefore as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, is the object to
whom by baptism every christian is solemnly consecrated. The
whc4e scheme of Christianity centers in the revelation made to
us of this triune God. The sum of all saving knowledge is
comprehended in what is taught concerning Father, Son, and

Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 29 of 68)