Thomas Smyth.

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

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Holy Ghost. It is into the profession of belief in what is thus
taught— of obedience to it — and of a joyful acquiescence in it —
we are baptized. We are baptized into the names of each of
these persons that is, into the belief of all that is taught con-
cerning each in the word of God — their relations to each other
in the covenant of grace, and to us in the provisions and prom-
ises of the gospel. This comprehends all that is necessary to
our salvation and all that is peculiar and characteristic of the
christian religion. In distinction from the Patriarchal and
Jewish dispensation of the church in which this doctrine of the
Trinity like every other was taught in a progressively devel-
oped form, the church as christian is based upon the knowledge
of God as the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And as
all other forms of religion had many Gods and many mediators
Christianity reveals "one God and Father of all," one Lord and
Mediator between God and man, and "one Spirit" of grace to
renew, sanctify and save.

This doctrine therefore is the comer stone — ^the characteris-
tic and essential feature of Christianity. And that it may not
possibly be obscured by any rationalistic interpretations of
particular texts it is embodied in one of the only two symbolical
sacraments of the christian church, by which it is necessarily
propagated and perpetuated as long as the church itself shall
endure. It has therefore ever been by a profession of belief in
this doctrine, and by a public dedication to this triune God, that
persons have been received whether as infants or adults into



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THE DIYINITY OF CHRIST. 277

the christian church and thus separated from the world lying
in infidelity on the one hand and from the Jews who deny their
God and Saviour the Lord Jesus Christ on the other.

Every member of the christian church thus enters by baptism
into a covenant with God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit by
which he is bound to honor, worship and serve them to seek
their favour and mercy and help — and to live to their honor
and glory, God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit pledging him-
self on his part to fulfill to them all his manifold and gracious
promises.

All that is necessary to be believed and done in order to sal-
vation is thus summarily comprehended in this baptismal com-
mission and formula. It constituted therefore as we shall
show the earliest creed and the basis of all the early christian
creeds as for instance the Apostles, the Nicene, and the Athana-
sian. The love of the Father, the grace of our Lord Jesus
Christ, and the communion and fellowship of the Holy Ghost
comprise the sum of christian blessings and to know God
experimentally in the spiritual indwelling of these heavenly
gifts and graces is eternal life. Nor is there one doctrine of
Christianity which is not embraced in, or does not flow out
from this glorious truth of the triune Redeeming God. Here
we are led to believe in God the creator, preserver, and provi-
dential governor of the universe of mankind — in God the
Redeemer by whose incarnation, mediation, death and inter-
cession man is recovered out of this fallen miserable state, —
and in God the Sanctifier by whom having been redeemed man
is raised to a truly divine life being recovered in the spirit of
his mind purified in conscience and made meet for an inherit-
ance among the saints in light.

Here we behold the love of the Father in originating the
glorious gospel of the blessed God and in receiving, justifying,
adopting and restoring every believing sinner — ^the grace of our
Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ in seeking and saving them
that are lost, in giving them power to become sons of God, and
in keeping, guarding and guiding them through faith unto sal-
vation, — ^and the regenerating, sanctifying and comforting
influences of the Holy Ghost Here we see therefore the
duties which we owe to each of these divine persons arising
from the relations in which they thus stand to us and to each
other. And here therefore we see the whole economy of salva-
tion from its first inception to its full and final consummation
as God is now in and through Christ Jesus reconcilii^ sinners



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278 THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.

unto Himself not imputing unto them their trespasses, but
imputing unto them that righteousness which is without works
on their part and giving His Holy Spirit to them that ask Him.
You will observe that this dedication is €«? eis into, not in, as
our translation renders it, but into the name of the Father, and
into the name of the Son, and into the name of the Holy Ghost
— that is, each of these persons are equally the object to whom
the dedication is made, with whom the covenant is sealed, and
whose blessing is sought and promised. Of this use of the
preposition €«? we have abundant proof. *Now this implies
to use the language of Dr. Smith,t "in the Being who is, in the
highest and most proper sense, the object of it; such properties
as these; capacity to receive the thing or person dedicated,
ability to protect, and a right and power to confer all the good
that is contemplated in the act of dedication. Now the
acknowledgment of these properties, and reliance upon them,
which are manifestly included in the idea of religious dedica-
tion, are affections belonging to the act, or the habit of mental
adoration. The moral use of baptism is also intimated by its
being "the stipulation" of "a good conscience towards God."
Now the existence of a stipulation implies the presence, or in
some way the knowledge of acceptance, of the person to whom
the engagement is made. It supposes, then, in this case, the
presence or cognizance of the Son and the Spirit equally with

*On the objection to this from the fact "that the Israelites (Smith 17)
were all baptized unto Moses in the cloud and in the sea." We quote Dr.
Smith's words, p. 18: "Reply 1. In this passage the phrase is used in the
sense of a very remote allusion and accommodation. It, might, with as
much reason as is contained in the objection, be contended tnat there is
no being who is truly and proper by God, or that there is no being who
is truly and properly God, or that there is no ground for worshipping hifai
alone, because Moses was made God unto Pharoah." The same figure is
employed in both cases. Moses is here represented as the designed rep-
resentative of Christ, the Head of the new covenant; and the Israelites
were "baptized unto Moses, as tjrpical of the being baptized unto Christ."
"There is good reason for regarding the word Moses as being here put
metonjrmically, for tht institutes or religion of Moses ; as it occurs in the
subsequent epistle, "When Moses is read, the veil is upon their heart.'^
Thus the plain sense of the Apostle's words would be, that the Israelites
were, by their participation in the deliverance from Egyptian slavery,
brought under a public and recognised obligation to obey all that God
might enjoin upon them, by the ministry of Moses. I think it highly prob-
able that the expression, "being baptised into Christ," which occurs twice,
has a similar signification ; denoting, not any external act, but a mental
and practical consecration to the influence of genuine Christianity.

There are respectable grounds for the opinion that, by an ascertained
though not frequent Hebraism, the preposition is put to denote the instru-
mental cause; "they were baptised by Moses." as if it had been.

Thus the ancient Ssrriac translated the passage, using the phrase comnoR
to both the Hebrew and the Arasmean dialects, "by the hand of Moses.**"
The second of these interpretations seems, to my judgment, the best sup-
ported by evidence."

tSee Smith 3, p. 17.



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THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST. 279

that of the Father. From these premises, I think there is
grotind to conclude, that baptism "into the name*' of the Father,
or of Christ, or of the Spirit, implies and includes a measure of
those mental affections and acts which constitute religious
worship; and therefore may justly be considered as, indirectly
and by implication, an act of worship."

The early exposition of the Faith preserved among the works
of Justin Martyr says, "Since in the doctrine of baptism, the
one name has been unitedly delivered to us, of the Father and
the Son and the Holy Spirit ; what reasoning can set aside the
existence of the Son and the Spirit in the Divine and Blessed
Essence."

"The divine majesty and glory," says Limbarch, "are attrib-
uted to the Holy Spirit ; since we are commanded to be baptized
into his name, equally with that of the Father and the Son."
"That the Spirit is put," says a late justly admirable divine of
Germany, "in the same degree of dignity as the Father and the
Son; so that he is entitled to the same religious honour, and
upon the same ground of certain evidence, follows from
the institution of baptism, in which we are dedicated 'to
the name of the Holy Spirit/ as an object of worship and con-
fession. So that the very first entrance into the christian reli-
gion shews, that the Holy Spirit is not a created being, but is
God, equal with the Father and the Son."

But it may be said that it is only into the name of the Father,
Son and Holy Ghost we are to be baptized. The name of God
however often stands for God himself in his power and
majesty.* The name of God, therefore, is in other words the
perfection and glory of God as God. t"Iii the sacred use of the
Old Testament, the phrase under consideration was a formula,
to express the direction and object of a religious act ; and that
all the acts with which it is combined, are such as express men-
tal or external adoration. We will also perceive the same idea
strongly marked in many examples from the New Testament."
The phrase, "into the name," is properly applicable to persons
only. Baptism into the name of a doctrine, or of a system of
doctrines, is a phrase unexampled in the language of Scripture ;
and it presents an incongruous idea. The expression in the
text, if interpreted without bias, manifestly requires that the

♦See Exod. XX, 7; Ps. 20:1; Exod. 3:13, 14 and 34:6; John 17:26;
Is. 26:8; Mai. 1:11 and 2:2; II Chron., 20:8; Ps. 115:1 and 92:1 and
132 :4 and 135 :3. See Smith's Messiah, 2, p. 223-225 and 141-145.

tSmith, 2.224. See John 3:18; Matt. 12:21; Acts 9.27 and 19:5, and
I Cor., 5 :4 ; Acts 9 :13, 14 and I Cor. 1 :2 and Smith as above.



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280 THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.

name of the Son, and that of the Spirit, must be understood,
not of the doctrine of the one and the influence of the other, but
with the same relation as the name of the Father ; that is, with
relation to a personal subsistence.^

Baptism therefore is a dedication to three persons, and to
each of them as God, since they are represented as capable of
performing all the acts, and of bestowing all the mercies of
which the Deity is capable; and of receiving invocation and
worship as God ; and of displaying all the perfections and glory
of God's name. The inference is inevitable which has been
drawn from this passage by christians in all ages that the
Father, Son and Spirit are each divine and yet one God, a
trinity in Unity since both here and in the doxology these three
persons are represented as voluntary, sovereign, effective and
almighty agents and as having equal powers attributed to them.

All Three plainly stand upon a level. They are equal in power
and authority. If the Son, as some would represent him, was a
created God, and the Holy Ghost a created substance, each
of them would be infinitely inferior to the Father, and incapa-
ble of being joined with him on such an important occasion and
in such an equivocal manner. The majesty of the Father
would not have suffered any one to be in such a fundamental
ordinance and as the object of its divine invocation, to be widi
him, had he not been God equal with himself, God in the very
same sense as he is. And hence baptism into the name of the
Father, Son and Holy Ghost, is a plain and unanswerable argu-
ment that each of these divine persons must be God. Were
not the Son as truly, and as much by nature God as the Father ;
and the Holy Ghost as truly and properly God as either Father
or Son, our being baptized in their name could not be rationally
accounted for. We are in this ordinance in a most affecting
manner reminded of the distinct divine benefits they severally
confer. The Father adopts us as his sons, and the heirs of
eternal life ; the Son washes us from our sins in his own blood ;
and the Holy Ghost regenerates us, and furnishes us with all
needful grace. And since we are dedicated to each, each must
be God: and the benefits which they confer being so distinct,
they must be distinct in the Godhead. This is an argument
which we should have always at hand, wherewith to rq)el the
assaults of those who deny the Deity either of Son or Spirit.
We should look as far back as our baptism, and remember that
by that rite which is ordered to be administered in the name
of the Son and Spirit as well as of the Father, our Saviour



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THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST. 281

has represented each of these three persons as joint objects of
Faith, Worship, and Obedience, and that we by being baptized
into their names are in the most solemn manner required to
render them such equal and divine reverence and confiding
trust

Every christian therefore should remember seriously, "that
Three great names were named upon them in their baptism,
without any sign of an inequality, and that they have in this
way been assured, the Father, Son and Spirit agreed in being
favorable and propitious to them, received them into their dis-
cipline, grace, and patronage, and engaged to bestow the best
and richest blessings upon them, upon their performing the
conditions of the covenant. And they should not forget on the
other hand, that they are bound with a firm faith, equally to
acknowledge and confess the Sacred three, and to repose an
equal hope and confidence in them ; giving to each of them the
hi^est adoration, and a perpetual obedience. And since this
is plain duty, 'tis evident the Son and Holy Ghost must be God
as well as the Father. And this is an argument that may, I
think, convince and confirm, such as are strangers to the force
of abstracted proofs, and that have no relish for the niceties of
criticism. The very form of thy baptism, friend, may satisfy
thee as to the Deity of thy Saviour. For had not the Son been
God as well as the Father, he never would have been joined
with him upon that solemn occasion, and rq)resented as the
joint object of the Faith, Hope, Love, Trust, Worship and
Obedience. The Holy Ghost also must be God, or his name
would not have been brought in upon the same occasion ; nor
would he have been ranked with the other Two, or represented
as a joint object with them of divine trust, worship and obedi-
ence."

Of course Unitarians must have some way of explaining a
passage so plainly and positively perpetuating the doctrine of
the Trinity. Some, as has been said in flagrant contradiction
to the fact of the undisputed genuineness of the passage, would
nevertheless reject it as spurious. It is not, it is said, again
referred to in the New Testament, but neither is the Lord's
prayer. Others, like Socinus and Emlyn, would persuade us
that baptism is only to be administered to such as become
converts to Christianity from a heathen or infidel state.f They
would thus willingly forfeit the promise of our Saviour's pres-

tSee his Disput. de Brnptitm. Aqutce, and his Questions on Bapt. in
Tracts.



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282 THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.

ence and blessing, whom they render incapable of fulfilling it,
rather than perpetuate an ordinance which is a standing demon-
stration to every age that the Son and the Holy Ghost, to whom
all professing christians are devoted, jointly with the Father,
are as truly God as He is God, equal with them in that sacred,
initiating solemnity.

Let us therefore cling to this proof of our holy faith that we
may be assured of its truth and that our faith may have an
abiding influence upon our hearts and lives. This doctrine is
to be taught to all nations and to all ages as the true and only
fountain of all spiritual blessing.

But seeing the futility and untenableness of such positions as
these it is attempted to give this passage an interpretation con-
sistent with Unitarian views. AH such renderings, however,
of necessity neither translations, paraphrases, nor interpreta-
tions but the most arbitrary and unwarranted substitutions of
man's wild and incongruous ideas for the plain, simple and
sublime doctrine which is according to godliness. "Thus Dr.
Lardner would substitute for the passage this astounding decla-
mation,:]: 'Go ye, therefoife, into all the world, and teach, or
disciple, all nations, baptizing them into the profession of faith
in, and an obligation to obey, the doctrine taught by Christ,
with authority from God, the Father and confirmed by the Holy
Ghost.* Thus, besides the unreasonable force put upon the
construction of the words, we are presented with the incongru-
ous combination of the name of the Deity, the name of a doc-
trine, and the name of certain historical facts."

Dr. Beard, in his recent work on the Trinity, says, "Our
Lord here speaks not of essences but relations."* "They are
accordingly terms of relation, and not terms of nature that he
employs : the Father, the Son, the Holy Ghost."t "The words
simply speak of three subjects, termed Father, Son, and Holy
Spirit." "The words, however, point to three relations, to
three well known relations, relations that are found in the
whole economy of redemption." "The Father, the author, the
Son, the medium, the Holy Ghost, the advocate of the Gospel ;
such is the practical relation in which the three subjects stand
to each other, and in which every name is accurately descrip-
tive and characteristic. As such, these few words are a sum-
mary of the whole Gospel, from its first conception to its last

tSmith 3, p. 22, in his Letter on the Logos. First Postscript.
^Beard's Rise, Prosfress and Decline of Trinitarianism, p. 82.
tDo., p. 83, thrice.

\



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THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST. 283

achievement. As such the words find a comment in every page
of the evangelists, and in every discourse and letter of the
Apostles."

In all this last we agree. But he goes on to say (Dr. Beard,
pp. 83 and 84) : "Well, then may our Lord have required all
nations to be baptized into these three subjects, for by compli-
ance with the prescribed rite, they would signify their readi-
ness to receive the system of religious truth which had been
given by the Father, published by the Son, and attested by the
Holy Spirit. Let it not be objected, that as the Father and
Son are persons, so the Holy Ghost must, also, be a person.
We answer, the personality of no one of the three comes for-
ward in the text. It is not asserted ; is not implied. The name
Father, is a word of relation, not essence, the same is true of
the word Son ; Jesus is the personal name of our Lord ; equally,
the term Holy Ghost refers to that relation, which the sanctify-
ing Spirit of God bears to God himself." "A spiritual Saviour
will not satisfy us."

"We consider the text, then, as setting forth a form by which
neophytes were to signify their acceptance of the Gospel, bind-
ing themselves to receive, in a docile and reverent spirit, instruc-
tions on the three great divisions of gospel truth, represented
by the three terms, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost."

This truly is a refinement upon Christianity. This surely is
transcendental enough for any philosopher who spake what he
neither understood himself nor any that heard him. "Alas,"
exclaims this exalted genius, our minds are materialized;
hence our conceptions are low, and unworthy, and we cannot
rise to the spirituality of the doctrine of Christ."

Converts to Christianity are initiated by being formally and
solemnly baptized into three relations, which are no essences at
all — which are none of them, no, not even the Father — beings
at all. This surely were ridiculous absurdity were it not down-
right profanity. What 1 are we, and all men of all nations and
of all ages to the end of time, to be baptized into the name of
"three relations" called by the mystic, cabbalistic, titles of
Father, Son and Holy Ghost? What puerile stuff is this, and
how certainly does it prove the impregnable nature of this testi-
mony to the doctrine of a triune God.

"Since," says Bishop Burnet,* without any distinction, or
note of inequality, "all Three, the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
are in this charge set together, as persons in whose name this

*0n the XXXIX Art.



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284 THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.

transaction is to be managed, they must be all three the True
God; otherwise it looks like a just prejudice against our
Saviour and his whole gospel, that by his express direction, the
first entrance to it, which gives the visible and federal right to
the great blessings that are oflfered by it, or their initiation into
it, should be in the name of two created beings (if the one
can be called so much as a being, according to their hypothesis)
and that even in an equality with the Supreme and uncreated
being. The plainness of this charge, and the great occasion
upon which it was given, makes this an argument of such force
and evidence, that it may justly determine the whole matter."

But it is further argued that this passage cannot contain a
prescribed form for baptism because, as is alleged, not only is
it not followed by the Apostles but is not even quoted by the
early fathers as a proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, or as
essential to christian baptism.

Now as to the former part of this objection, it is sufficient to
say that we have no record of the actual form of words with
which the Apostles baptized but only of the fact that they bap-
tized into Christ, or into the name of Christ, a phrase which,
as we have seen, must either mean into the baptism instituted
and prescribed by Christ in contrast to that of John or of the
Jews, or else into the faith, worship and belief of Christ as
"over all God blessed for ever" the supreme object of christian
faith and worship. In either way of interpretation, the doc-
trine of the Trinity as promulgated in this passage is confirmed
and enforced.

And as it regards the early fathers and christians nothing is
more capable of proof than that the very reverse of what is
affirmed is true, and that, with emphatic strength, they repre-
sent themselves as believing that in this passage we have a dear
and undeniable declaration of the doctrine of the trinity, — that
that doctrine is in this passage made the essential form of chris-
tian baptism, — ^that a profession of faith in this doctrine was
required of all candidates for baptism, — ^and that the omission
of this doctrine as the form of administering baptism was made
the test of orthodox or heretical baptism.

"If," says Dr. Pye Smith,* "it be allowable, in any theologi-
cal question, to draw an argument from prescription and uni-
versal use, in no case could that argument be more justly
applied than in the present ; in no case, (excq)ting however, the
innovation of a few Unitarians of our own day,) could the

♦I, p. 15. 18.



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THE DIVINITY OP CHRIST. 285

rule of quod semper et ubique et ab omnibus be more triumph-
antly pleaded."

The only recognized creed, or formula of faith in the chris-
tian church, was for a long time this very form of words deliv-
ered by Christ. The earliest creed was therefore this creed of
the Trinity as it has been called. Such is the opinion of Eras-
mus, Vossius, Stillingfleet and indeed of all learned anti-
quarians.**

Justyn Martyr who was born in Palestine soon after the
death of the Apostle John, A. D. 89, says, "that persons who
were admitted to baptism, performed the washing in the water
in the name of God, the Father and Sovereign of the universe,
and of Jesus Christ our Saviour, and of the Holy Spirit."] |

"The law of baptism," says TertuUian A. D. 160-220, "is
enjoined and the form prescribed; Go teach the nations, bap-
tizing them into the name of the Father and the Son and the
Holy Spirit."

§"The form of baptism," he elsewhere says, "was prescribed
by our Saviour himself as a law to his church."

Cyprian, A. D. 245, expressly declares,! "That the form of



Online LibraryThomas SmythComplete works of Rev. Thomas Smyth, D. D → online text (page 30 of 68)