An Apology for the Doctrine of the Trinity : being a chronological view of what is recorded concerning, the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the blessed Trinity, whether in the sacred writings, or in Jewish, Heathen, and Christian authors .. online

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Simpson, David, 1745-1799.
An Apology for the Doctrine
of the Trinity





Boctrme of tl)t Crinit^ :

A Chronological View


C O N C e R N 1 N C, ,


{(■'hdhrr in the saaed ff'ittings, or in 'Je^'iih, Heathen, and Christian

By the Rev. DAVID SIMPSON, M. A.

I dciirc only to have thing? fairly rcpiccnied, as tliey really are ; no evidence
smothered or stifled on either side. Let every reader sec plainly what may be
justly pleaded hrrc, or there, no more; and then let it be left to his im-
partial judgirciit, after a full view of the ca<e. Misquoutions and misrepre-
sentdtioiis will do j good cja.-c harm, and will not long be of service to a bad
one. Water LAND.

:^af clc0ficlti :



Dillv, in London ; and Clarke, in Manchester.

, out^QSW^ "*

THE author of this Apology has often wished to find a
complete treatise upon the doctrine of the Trinity,
Various are the persons who have written upon different branches
of the subject, and said all that seemed necessary, to establish
their own particular views ; but what he wished to see, was, a
full, yet compendious digest of the whole evidence, that every
man might learn, at one view, what the Word of God, together
with Heathen, Jewish, and Christian antiquity, actually contains
upon this great subject, without having recourse to many books.
Not meeting with any work of this kind, which came up to the
idea he had formed in his own mind, he resolved, as expeditiously
as his other engagements, and an infirm stale of health, would
permit, to examine for himself, and to pursue his own plan of in-
vestigation. He does not know that the result of his inquiries
will, by any means, afford that satisfaction to others, which he
hath received from them himself: nor is he so vain as to suppose,
that no method can be invented more likely to ascertain what are
the real doctrines of holy scripture upon the subjects in question.
Every man hath his own peculiar way cf thinking ; and every
man is obliged, to the utmost of his power, no: only to investigate
truth for himself, but as far as he can, to guard the unwary from,
error, and labour the promotion of, wliat he conceives to be, im-
portant truth. His thoughts have proceeded in the following
train. He hath, First, made some general observations upon the
doctrines under consideration. Secondly, he hath traced the scrip-
tures concerning our Lord's person and character, chronologi-
cally, through every age, from the beginning of the world, till
the close of the divine car.on. Thirdly, the doctrine concerning

A 2 the


the Holy Spirit Is examined through the Old and New Testa-
ments, though not with that variety of observation as the former.
This he did not conceive to be necessary ; because, if the doctrine
of a plurality of persons in the Divine Nature can be fairly esta-
blished, it will not admit of a dispute what persons compose that
jnysterious unity. Fourthly, the doctrine of the Trinity is
traced in the same chronological manner as the divinity of Christ,
and through the same extent of duration. A chronological me-
thod of investigati /n seemed preferable to every other, because
the divinitv of Christ, and Holy Spi ri t, together with the
doctrine of the Sacred Tri N ITY, have been, in some mea>.
sure, hidden from ages and generations, and were not all at once,
but gra iually made known to the sons of men.

In the course of this inquiry, he hath produced the opinions of
various Jews and Heathens, who lived both before, and since
our Saviour's time. If they are found to have entertained similar
serrtiments with us upon these subjects, it will aiFord a strong pre-
sumption, that our interpretations of the Old Testament writings
are just; and a'ceftain confirmation, that our views of these great
doctrines are not so novel as some zealous moderns would wish
inankind to believe.

The Christian fathers also, who flourished in the three or four
first centuries, are of great importance in this inquiry. They ap-
pear to him the very best and most authentic interpreters of holy
scripture, so far, at least, as they are consistsnt one with another.
They lived near the age of our Saviour. Some of them knew
him personally. Others were apostles themselves, or conversed
familiarly with the apostles. Several of them were great, most of
them pious and learned men. They had, accordingly, much bet-
ter opportunities of knowing in what sense the scriptures were
originally understood, than we can have in these latter ages, unless
we interpret them under the guidance of their writings- This is
the method, which hath been pursued, by the most judicious and
successful interpreters of scripture, in every period of the Chris-
tian church. And this, therefore, he lays down as a principle,
from which we should cautiously depart, that the most reasonable



and safe mode of understanding the Word of God, is, to consult
the general sense of the Christian writers, who lived in the first
centuries after the birth of our Saviour. They are our best
human guides, at least so far as facts are concerned ; and what they
have concurred to establish, under the direction of the sacred
writings, bids fair to be the truth.

in addition to the whole, he hath thrown into the notes the ob-
servations and reasonings of many of our first theologians, to
corroborate and illustrate what had been advanced in the text ; and
he makes no question but these will be considered as the mosc
valuable parts of the work. The opinions of the Fathers too,
have been frequently added, to illustrate a variety of passages,
and sometimes even more than once, besides the general view of
their opinions which is given in the seventh part. This is the case
likewise with some of the scriptural quotations ; but then they
are always produced with different views, and to prove a different
doctrine. In short ; the author hath used every help within the
compass of a small library, in a country place, and without any
advice or assistance from the learned. This he hath done for his
own satisfaction. The labour hath been considerable, but not
unpleasant. And he hath reaped the consolation of finding, that
the divinity of Christ, and the Holy Spirit, together with the
doctrine of the Blessed Irinity, are not only contained in
the pages of divine revelation, but have pervaded all nations and
^l«_£^ all time, with greater or less degrees of perspicuity.

But, these doctrines are attended with difficulty ! — True.
—This, however, is not our concern. The simple question is —
1)6 the sacred writings contain these distinguishing peculiarities }
If they do, the point in question is g-iined. To the latv and 1§
the testimotty ; if they speak not according to that nxjord, it is because
there is no light in them. The difficulty attending the comprehension
of any particular representation of the nature of the Divine Be-
ing, supposing it to be clearly revealed, is no substantial objec-
tion. The first principle of natural religion contains innumer-
able — I had almost saic — impossibilities. What is God? is
involved in the most absolute incomprehensibility. And yet we



must either admit the principle, or embrace ten thousand absurdi-
ties and impossibilities. Man was not made to cavil at every thing
he doth not fully comprehend (for what does he fully compre-
hend f ) but modestly to investigate the truth — to submit to the
best evidence the nature of the case will admit— and zealously to
adore the Author of his being, according to the fullest light,
which reason and revelation have afforded him.

It is much to be apprehended, various mistakes will be discover-
'ed by the attentive reader in the course of so long a work,
tespecially in the quotations, references, and translations. The
Author deprecates the severity of criticism. He can assure
the reader, however, much attention has been paid to these matters,
snd he is rot conscious of having, in any instance, perverted a
sentiment to favour an hypothesis. He sincerely wishes truth to
have its full scope. If any passage is turned from its proper
meaning, he is not conscious of it, is sorry for it, and intreats the
reader to restore it to its genuine signification. It has been his
endeavour to bring every thing that is material upon the great
doctrines under consideration, into one view, to make certain
observations upon such as seemed to need it, and then to leave
the serious Christian to draw his own conclusions. He contends
for no human creeds or explications whatever. He would not
give a rush for a million of themi. They may be right, or they
may be wrong. He troubles not his head about them. The
scripture is enough for him. Every other authority is human.
Christ alone is king in his own church.

It will be perceived, that one or more asterisks are placed before
several of the quotations from scripture. These are designed
to draw the reader's attention to such passages as are more import-
ant than ordinary, and absolutely conclusive against some peculi-
arity of the Arian or Socinian schemes.

Some of the other scriptures quoted, he freely confesses, appear
to him fanciful or impertinent, nor does he mean to repose any
serious stress upon them. But, as they have all been brought
forward, by one or another, he has noticed them in their respective
ptaces, bearing his testimony, at the same time, against all evi-


dence that Is not solid and substantial. Nothing will stand, no-»
thing can stand, but what is so. Nor ought we even to wish to
extract meanings from texts, which the Divine Spirit never in-
tended. We always injure the cause of truth, when we attempt
to make scripture prove too much.

The strength of the following evidence will depend very mainly
upon the connected view of it. But though every text of scrip*
ture, which is brought to support any particular doctrine, were
set aside, but one, as being little or nothing to the purpose, that
one ought to be considered as conclusive, till the validity of it can
be fairly disproved.

It is disingenuous to conclude we have subverted any particular
doctrine, when we have only tried our strength with its feeblest
supports, while its main arguments are left untouched.

As the author avows himself a believer of the pre-existence
and divinity of the Saviour of mankind, together with the per-
sonality and deity of the Holy Ghost, after the fullest investiga-
tion and most serious consideration of these subjects of which
he is capable, the reader will peruse those parts of this Apology
with caution, and weigh the premises and conclusions with the>
most scrupulous exactness.

He Is not backward to confess, that to him these doctrines ap-^
pear essential to the Christian scheme of redemption. If others
are of a different opinion, he has no quarrel with them. Every
man must examine and judge for himself. To our own Master
we stand or fall.

He has no fear but the genuine truths of Christianity shall
ultimately prevail, whatever those truths may be. God will vin-
dicate his own cause. The gates of hell have long been at work
to subvert the whole system of divine truth, but they have nor
yet prevailed, nor is it to be suspected they ever will. The
great Head of the church, indeed, is shaking the nations, and is
about to purge his floor. The gold, silver, and precious stones
shall abide the day of trial ; but the chaff will be blown away ;
ihe wood, hay, and stubble shall be burnt up ; all superstitious
ordinances shall be subverted ; but the Word of the Lord shall
eudiire forever.



Kere then the author of this treatise posits his faith. Anti-
christ may fall ; superstlcious observances may ceaae ; religious
establishments may be tumbled into ruins ; empires and kingdoms
may he overturned ; princes and governours may be deposed ;
the wise men of the world may take pare with the eneniies of
truth ; error and delusion may run like wild-fire among the thick-
est ranks of the people ; unbelievers may rage, and minute phi-
losophers imagine a vain thing ; but the Bilf/e shall arise out of
its present obscurity, and, being stripped of all human appen-
dages, shall be universally had in honour ; the method of redeem-
ing a lo";! race therein revealed shall be generally seen and em-
braced ; the enemies of evangelical religion shall be confounded
world without end ; JesuS shall reign, maugre all opposition, in
his glorified human body, at the right hand of the Majesty on
high, till all the ends of the earth have seen his great salvation,
and every opposing power is brought into complete suljection.
At the present moment, he is dashing the nations together like the
vessels of a potter ; but yet, notwithstanding the confusion and
disorder of the world, of which we have heard so much, and
which we ourselves may yet possibly witness ; all the dispensations
of creation, providence, and grace, are founded in wisdom and
goodness, and shall wind up, to the Redeemer's everlasting credit.


Jan. I. 17(^8.



Introduction, containing miscellaneous ob-
servations upon the Divinity of Christ, and
the Doctrine of the Trinity, with illustrations,'
and answers to the most common objections i — 71
Section t.
Information concerning the Messiah for the

first 3000 years of the world 71 — S3

Section 1.
Information concerning the Messiah from
the Psalms and writings of David — 83 — 96

Section 3.
Information concerning the Messiah from

the writings of Solomon 97 — ^^^

Section 4.
Information concerning the Messiah from
the writings of the proplicts Amos, Hosea,

Isaiah, and Micah loi— 120

Section 5.
Information concerning the Messiah from
Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Haggai, Zechari-

ah, and Mdlachi 121— 132

Section 6.
Observations on the name Jehovah, and
the invisibility of the Divine Being 133 — '3^

SiiCTiON 7.
Opinions of both Ancients and Moderns
on the Divine Appearances, under the Old

Testament dispensation 137 — 155

Section 8.
A short view of the Divine Appearances
recorded in the Old Testament — 155 — 17^




Section i.
Various testimonies to the Person and
Character of Christ, immediately antecedent
to his birthj and during his abode upon earth 177 — 190
Section 2.
The testimony of Christ himself, concern-
ing his own Person and Character 190 — 220

Section 3.
Christ's Manner of working miracles a

proof of his divinity 220 — 222

Section 4-
Christ's testimony to his own Person and
Character at the close of his life and after nis

resurrecdon 223 — 230

Section 5.
Testimonies to the Person and Character
of Christ, by his Apostles and Disciples,
after his ascension into heaven — 230—242

Section 6.
The Divinity of Christ argued from some
circumstances in the Acts of the Apostles 242—246
Section 7,
The Invocation of Christ a proof of his

Divinity 246—262

Section 8.
The Divinity of Christ argued from vari-
ous passages in the writings of St. Paul 262 — 282
Section 9.
The Divinity of Christ argued from se-
veral passages in the Episde to the Plebrcws 282 — ^96
Section 10.
The Divinity of Christ argued from se-
veral passages in the Gospel of St. John 297-^315
Section ii.
The Divinity of Christ argued from som.c
passages and in the first Epistle of St. John 315 — 322




Sectioh 12.
The Divinity of Christ argued from some
passages in the book of Revelation — 322—330
Section i.
A view of the doctrine concerning the
Holy Spirit, from the Old Testament 331—343

Section 2.
A view of the doctrine concerning the
Holy Spirit, from the New Testament 348—375

Section i.
A view of the doctrine of the Holy Tri-
nity from the Old Testament — — 276 — 407
Section 2.
A view of the doctJine of the Holy Tri-
nity from the New Testament — 407 — 438
Section i.
Opinions of the ancient Jews concerning
the plurality of the Divine Nature, from the

Apocryphal books 439—445

Section 2.
The Opinions of Philo, and other ancient
Jews concerning the plurality of the Divine

Nature • ■ 446 — 469

Section i.
Opinions of the ancient Heathen concern-
ing the plurality of the Divine Nature — 469 — 482
Section 2.
Opinions of the more modern Heathen
concerning the plurality of the Divine Nature 483 — 498

PART vn.

On the utility of the writings of the Chris-
tian fathers in determining the question con-
cerning the doctrine of the Holy Trinity 498 — 506




Section a.

The opinions of the Apostolical fathers

concerning the Person of Christ and doctrine

of the Trinity 506 — 5 1 8

Section 3.
The opinions of the Christian fathers, who
lived in the first part of the second century,
concerning the Person of Christ, and the

doctrine of the Trinity 518 — 522

Section 4.
The opinion of Justin Martyr concerning
the Person of Christ, with a vindication of
him from the charge of innovation — 522 — 534
Section 5.
The opinions of the Christian fathers,
who lived in the latter part of the second
century, concerning the Person of Christ,
and the doctrine of the Trinity ■ — 534 — 549

Section 6.
The opinions of the Christian fiithers and
others, of the third century, concerning the
Person of Christ, and the doctrine of the

Trinity 571—594

Section 7.

Opinions of the Christian fathers, and

others, who flourished in the fourth, and be-.

ginning of the fifth centuries, concerning the

Person of Christ, and the doctrine of the

Trinity 571—5^4

Section 8.
Pvliscellaneous evidence to the Person of
Christ, and doctrine of the Trinity, from
Councils, Heretics, and other circumstances

of the first ages 594 — 602

Recapitulation of the v/holc Evidence 603 — 627



RIGHT knowledge of God, and the relation we
stand in to him, arc essentially necessary, it should seem,
in all ordinary cases, to the attainment of future felicity.
If our general notions of the Divine Being are wrong,
considered as an object of worship, we adore a creature
of our own imagination, rather than the living and true
God. If we are not well acquainted also, with our own
real and relative state respecting him, it is impossible
we should demean ourselves in a becoming and accep-
table manner : for, we should ever remember, that very
different conduct is due from an innocent creature, to
that which is due from one in a state of degeneracy and
moral depravity.

An innocent creature can be in no need of a Saviour,
in no need of repentance, in no need of pardon, in no
need of sanctification. Guilty fears, dread of God*s
wrath, remorse of conscience, and the like uneasy sen-
sations of mind, are things to which he must ever be a
stranger, while he retains his integrity. But a sinner,
as such, is in want of pardon; and, if his Creator thinks
not proper to grant that pardon, by an absolute act of
sovereignty, he is in want of a Saviour ; and if his na-
ture, at the same time that it contracted guilt, contract-
ed also a moral stain, and became depraved, he will need
a Sanctifier : repentance, fear, dread, remorse, and all
the other concomitants of guilt, are not less the sure
consequences thereof, than they are becoming his situa-
tion and circumstances.

B This


This is the state of human nature. IFc have all sin-
ned j and ccme short of the. <^lcry cf God., and he hath de-
clared he will not pardon, by an absolute act of grace ;
and if we have all sinned, and God will not pardon, by
an absolute act of grace, we stand in need of a Saviour:
and if our natures have contracted a moral taint, v/c
want some being or other, to restore our lapsed powers.
Fear, dread, and remorse of conscience become us.
And not to repent, not to be grieved and sorry, not to
be possessed with fear, dread, remorse, and the like un-
easy sensations, is unnatural, and infinitely unbecoming
our situation.

But, if we are in want of a Saviour, and if a Saviour
has been graciously provided for us, it will become us,
not only to believe in him, but narrowly to examine,
under the guidance of God's own manifestations, into
the nature and offices of that Saviour j and, at the same
time, closely to consider, in what respects we stand in
need of his assistance. These two views will have a
tendency to throw light upon each other. And, if wc
act a reasonable part, our dependance upon, and confi-
dence in the Redeemer, will be in exact proportion to
our own wants, his ability, and the knowledge we have
of God, the Redeemer, and ourselves. For instance ;
if we think ourselves innocent, the gospel of Christ is
to us no better than sounding brass and a tinkling cymbal-,
it is a pretended remedy where there is no need. And
if we think ourselves, though not innocent, yet pretty
good, and in no eminent danger of future misery, our
love to Christ will be faint, weak, feeble, almost nothing.
To whom little is forgiven:, they will love little. If we are
convinced of sin, and of our dangerous condition, so far
as to be weary and distressed with its burden, the news
of salvation by Jesus Christ will be glad tidings of
great joy. To whom much is forgiven, they will love much.
On the other hand, if v/e consider God as a being all
mercy, without any regard to the veracity, justice, and
holiness of his nature j then Christ will not be so super-


eminently precious ; because we shall not discover either
the necessity or fitness of his mediation.

If we look upon our blessed Saviour as a mere man
only, then we shall esteem him but little more than as
Moses, or as one of the Prophets. If we consider him
at all, in short, with regard to his superior nature, as a
created being, though of the most exalted kind, our re-
gard to him, and esteem for him, will be that of one
creature to another ; considerable indeed, according to
the rank he bears ; but far from that supreme regard,
that unbounded confidence, that matchless love, which
are due to him, in common with the Father and the
Holy Ghost.

From this consideration it may be observed how ne*
cessary it is, that v/e should have a competent scriptural
knowledge of the person and offices of the Redeemer,
if v/e would pay unto him a reasonable service. If he i$
a mere man, he ought to be looked upon as such, by all
created intelligences. If he is but an angd, though of
the highest order, he ought to be regarded as an angel.
He ought not, surely, to have religious adoration paid
him; nor is he capable, scripture and reason being
judge, of making satisfaction to divine justice for the sins
of the world.

But, if he is God and man ineffably united in one
mediator : if he is " God, of the substance of the Fa-
" ther, begotten before the worlds ; and man, of the
" substance of his m.other, born in the world : if he is
*' perfect God and perfect rrmn, of a reasonable soul
" and human flesh subsisting," then only, as it seems to
me, he is, and can be, such a Redeemer as we stand in
need of. Then only he is, in comm.on with the Father,
the proper object of divine worship, prayer, praise, and
adoration. And if he is God, equal with the Father,
and we Christians have in the bible sufficient evidence of
this matter of fact, it must be an inexcusable dishonour
to his glorious majesty, to demean him to the level of a
mere man, or to the more exalted rank of an angel. If,

B 2 I say.


I Say, he is, in his divine nature, equal with the Father
in niajesty, glory and power j not to honour him even as
we honour the Father, is, to dethrone him, and, for any
thing we know to the contrary, will one day be resented
by him upon his adversaries. To ilkistrate my mean-
ing by an historical fact : Maximinus, emperor of Rome,
no sooner came to the throne, than he adopted his son
Maximus with him, as partner and emperor, with
equal power and authority. Let it be supposed, that
we, being the subjects of Maximinus, refused to pay the
same respect to Maximus, the son, v^hich we did to

Online LibraryUnknownAn Apology for the Doctrine of the Trinity : being a chronological view of what is recorded concerning, the person of Christ, the Holy Spirit, and the blessed Trinity, whether in the sacred writings, or in Jewish, Heathen, and Christian authors .. → online text (page 1 of 57)