Having proved the unity of the divine Being, and explained the sense in which it is to be understood, it is proper to enlarge on the subject of the plurality in the Godhead. The scriptures reveal the true and living God exists in three Persons in the unity of the one indivisible essence. Now, there are some who refuse to identify the Godhead by terms such as Essence, Unity, Trinity and Person. It is argued that since the Bible does not refer to God by these terms, so it is illegitimate language if used when identifying the nature of the Godhead. However, as the purpose of words is designed to accurately convey ideas, so these aforementioned terms exist to identify those concepts of the Godhead revealed in the scriptures. From this standpoint, it is perfectly acceptable to use extra-biblical terms to identify and explain biblical truth.

I shall treat of this subject under two heads: First, I shall prove that there is a plurality of Persons in the one Godhead; Second, I will identify the Three Persons in the one Godhead.

I. Arguments for a Plurality of Persons in the One Godhead.

The Hebrew word paniym is plural, and has been translated, “My presence shall go with thee” (Ex 33:14,15); “[he] brought thee out in his sight” (Deut 4:37); “seek ye my face” (Ps 27:8,9). The Septuagint uses the same word and Suidas observes that this term is expressive of the sacred Trinity. Each reference may be translated, “Persons”—“My Persons shall go with thee”, “[He] brought thee out by His Persons” and “seek ye My Persons”. Now, that there is such a plurality of Persons in the one Godhead, appears more clearly under the following heads:

1. The plural names and epithets of God.

One of the most frequently used names in the Old Testament scriptures for God is Jehovah. This name is always in the singular, for it denotes the essence of God, which is but one—it has the same import as “I AM that I AM.” However, there are other names God has given to Himself which appear in the plural.

(1) Elohim.

The first name ascribed to God, as recorded in the Bible, is Elohim—Genesis 1:1: “In the beginning God (Elohim) created the heaven and the earth.” This name is plural, indicating (1) there is more than one, otherwise it would be singular; (2) there is more than two, otherwise it would be dual; (3) there are at least three, for it is plural. In fact, the Jews admit this name cannot design fewer than three.

1. A Name Chosen on Purpose.

Now, let it be observed that this plural name was selected by Moses on purpose, or, it was given to Moses by design through divine inspiration. Consider: First, the name Elohim was chosen, not because of some barrenness in the Hebrew Language. There were other names of God that could have been used when describing the account of creation. For instance, the name Jehovah is introduced in Genesis 2:4—why could it not have been used in Genesis 1:1? Second, the name Elohim was chosen, not because of a lack of names in the singular. For the name Eloah is the singular of Elohim, and is used in Deuteronomy 32:15,16 and also throughout the book of Job—why did not Moses use the name in the singular, rather than the plural? Third, the name Elohim was chosen, not because Moses was careless in his use of language. Carelessness of language in the scripture narrative is precluded by two unshakeable reasons: (1) As all scripture is given by inspiration of God, so every word is divinely selected and precisely inserted throughout the text so as to seal the scripture with a stamp of perfection; (2) Moses sought to eradicate the polytheism of the heathens, and to prevent the people of Israel from going into it—he frequently taught the people, “Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord.” (Debut 6:4) Now it does seem strange, that he would begin the book of Genesis by referring to God with a plural name, if he was intent on affirming to Israel that there is but one God. We conclude, therefore, that the name Elohim was chosen on purpose, with a design to indicate a plurality in the one God. And, according to the Hebrew language, this plurality is more than a number of names and characters descriptive of God’s creative power; the name Elohim references a plurality of persons creating—“In the beginning Elohim (everyone, or each of the divine Persons) created the heaven and the earth.”

2. A Name Identifying the Divine Persons.

That there is purpose in Moses using Elohim in the first chapter of Genesis is confirmed when he goes on to specify the Persons referenced by the name. It is assumed the Father is referenced automatically, as He is the first of the three Persons identified elsewhere in scripture; the Holy Spirit is referenced in verse 2, as moving upon the face of the waters; and the Son is referenced is verse 3, as the word of God bringing all things into existence out of nothing (see Jn 1:1-3).

3. A Name Recognizing the Divine Persons as Existing in the Unity of the Divine Essence.

The name Elohim, as found in Genesis 1, is joined with a singular verb, “bara”, that has been translated, “created”. Some have interpreted this connection as proof that the plurality of Persons referenced by the name Elohim, exist in the unity of the Divine essence, as they (plural) have created (singular). However, if this interpretation is judged as not receiving sufficient grounds for drawing such a conclusion, let the following point also be considered. The name Elohim is sometimes joined with a plural verb (Gen 20:13; 35:7; 2 Sam 7:23); and likewise it is sometimes in construction with plural adjectives and plural participles (Deut 4:7; 5:26; Josh 24:19; 2 Sam 7:26,27; Ps. 58:11; Prov 30:3; Jer. 10:10). In connection with these passages, a learned man well observes, “that however the construction of a noun plural with a verb singular, may render it doubtful to some whether these words express a plurality or not, yet certainly there can be no doubt in those places, where a verb or adjective plural are joined with the word Elohim”. Now, as the name Elohim is used in this unusual form of construction, is a clear and strong proof of a plurality in the Deity. For it must be noted, the name is used also of others, yet never in such unique expressions—(1) Of angels—Psalm 8:5; (2) Of civil magistrates—Psalm 82:6; (3) Of Moses—Exodus 7:1. As a side note, should it be asked whether it is proper for others to be identified by the name Elohim, we answer it is proper as these persons were representatives of the Elohim (divine Persons, the Triune God). Again, should it be asked whether it is consistent for the name Elohim to sometimes identify a single Person in the Deity, we answer it is proper as the name is common to them all—each of them possesses the whole divine nature and essence undivided (Ps 45:6,7).

4. A Name Distinguished by the Ancient Jews.

The ancient Jews not only concluded a plurality, but even a Trinity, from the name Elohim. With respect to Numbers 15:16, they say—”There is no judgment less than three”. And, that these three persons sitting in judgment have the divine Majesty with them, is concluded by them from Psalm 82:1: “He judgeth among the gods”. Hence they further observe, that “no sanhedrin, or court of judicature, is called unless it consists of three”. From whence it is manifest, that the ancient Jews believed that this name not only inferred a plurality of persons, but such a plurality which consisted of three at least.

(2) Adonim.

Another name ascribed to God is Adonim—“If I am a master (Adonim), where is my fear?” (Mal.. 1:6) This too is a plural name. Now, though this may be said of one in the second and third persons plural, yet never of one in the first person, as it is here of God by himself—“If I am master(s)”. We are sure there are two—“The Lord said unto my Lord…” (Ps 110:1).

(3) Watchers and Holy Ones.

Aside from the foregoing names, there are also epithets ascribed to God, which are in the plural. For instance, in Daniel 4:17, the most high God is called the watchers and the Holy Ones—“This matter is by the decree of the watchers, and the demand by the word of the holy ones.” This text refers to the revolution and destruction of the Babylonian monarchy. This monumental incident cannot be ascribed to angels, as some have interpreted the epithets—for though they may be executioners of the decrees of God, yet they are not the makers of His decrees. Rather, as this decree is expressly called, the decree of the most High (Dan 4:24), so the watchers and Holy Ones can be no other than the divine Persons in the Godhead. Each of the Persons are holy in their nature; they watch over the saints to do them good; and they watch over the wicked, to bring evil upon them. Also note, as the decree is called, the decree of the most High (Dan 4:24), and the watcher and Holy One is mentioned in the singular (Dan 4:13), so the watchers and the Holy Ones in the plural (Dan 4:17) are set forth as a plurality in the unity of the divine essence. This is yet another instance where the scriptures preserve the exact meaning of Triunity in the Godhead.

2. The plural expressions used by God.

When speaking of Himself with reference to the works of creation, providence and grace, God frequently uses plural expressions.

(1) The Work of Creation.

1. Genesis 1:26.

In connection with the work of creation, man was distinguished from other creatures when God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26). On the one hand, the unity of the divine essence is referenced by the words “image” and “likeness”, which are in the singular number; on the other hand, a plurality of Persons in the unity of the divine essence is cited by the pronouns “us” and “our”, which are in the plural. That there were more than one involved in the creation of man, is affirmed by a number of other texts which in the original language describe the Creator of men as “my Makers”, “his Makers”, “thy Creators”, “thy Makers” (Job 35:10; Ps 149:2; Ecc 12:1; Is 54:5).

There are, however, some who argue against this view: (1) It is alleged that the above passages are in the plural because they appertain to angels, and not God. But this cannot be so, for angels are creatures themselves—they are not possessed of creative powers, nor was man made after their image and likeness. (2) It is alleged that the above passages are in the plural because they refer to God consulting the angels. But this cannot be so, for “with whom took he counsel?” (Is 40:14) Not with any of His creatures, not even with the highest angel in heaven—none are privy to the counsel of the eternal Godhead. (3) It is alleged that the above passages are in the plural because in them God is set forth as speaking after the manner of kings—rulers often use the plural number when speaking of their edicts and proclamations. But this cannot be so, for such a custom among kings first appeared in the letters of Artaxerxes, king of Persia (Ezra 4:18; 7:23), which is long after the time of Moses. As a learned man observed, “it is a very extravagant fancy, to suppose that Moses alludes to a custom that was not (for what appears) in being at that time, nor a great while after.” In fact, against all of these arguments, the Jews themselves are sensible that the passage in Genesis 1:26 furnishes a proof for a plurality in the Deity. No other legitimate reason can be given for the divine Being referred to in the plural number, than that there are more Persons than one in the unity of the Godhead.

2. Genesis 3:22.

A similar expression is used by God after Adam transgressed His law—Genesis 3:22: “And the LORD God said, Behold, the man is become as one of us.” Even as man was made in the image and likeness of the plurality in the Godhead, so now God says man has become as one of us. This may be understood in one of two ways. First, God may have been speaking sarcastically. For it was Satan who told Eve that “in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods” (Gen 3:5). No doubt, Satan referred to God in the plural. Whereupon, the LORD God said in essence, “Behold the man whom Satan promised, and he expected to be as one of us, as one of the Persons in the Deity; see how much he looks like one of us! Who but just now ran away from us in fear and trembling, and covered himself with fig leaves, and now stands before us clothed with skins of slain beasts!” Second, God may have been speaking comparatively—the former state of man set in contrast to his present state. Hence, the words may be rendered, “he was as one of us” (Gen 3:22). In essence, the LORD God may be saying, “While man was made after our image and likeness, what is he now? He has sinned, and come short of that glorious image! He has lost his honour, and is become like the beasts that perish, whose skins he now wears.”

It was the faith of the ancient Jews, together with that of the Pythagoreans and Platonists, that there is a unity of One, and a plurality of many. Philo, the Jew, believed the words of Genesis 3:22 are to be understood as more than one. Plato spoke of the infinite and eternal, and the knowledge of them as the gift of the gods. Although all of this was understood by their followers of the unity of God, and the many ideas in Him, yet I take it to mean no other than the one God, and a plurality of Persons in the Deity.

(2) The Work of Providence.

1. Genesis 11:7.

In connection with the work of providence, God uses the plural number when speaking of Himself concerning His judgment at the city of Babel—Genesis 11:7: “let us go down, and there confound their language…”. While some interpret this as a reference to angels, yet this cannot be so: (1) for then the language of the text would be go “ye”, and to “ye” confound their language; (2) and, this work of confounding the language of men is beyond the power of angels to do. Only God has the power to give the faculty of speech and to confound it. Just as it was God that bestowed the gift of languages on the apostles, at Pentecost, so it is He who confounded the gift of languages among the people, at Babel. That this text refers to a plurality in the Godhead is affirmed by the context of the passage, for the same that confounded the languages is He who scattered them abroad on the face of the earth (Acts 2:8-11).

2. Isaiah 6:8.

A similar expression is used by God in Isaiah 6:8, when the Lord commissioned Isaiah to serve as a prophet to the Jewish nation who had been put under the divine judgment of judicial blindness—“I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” It is clear that Isaiah heard the voice of the Lord speak these words, which means it is Jehovah that referred to Himself in the plural. This is affirmed in the New Testament, where these words are ascribed to the Son of God (Jn 12:40,41) and also to the Holy Spirit (Acts 28:25,26).

3. Isaiah 41:21-23.

Another instance where the plural number is used by God when referring to Himself is Isaiah 41:21-23. Herein, Jehovah challenges the heathens, and their gods, to bring proof of their deity, be prediction of future events. Throughout the challenge, Jehovah uses the plural number—“show us what shall happen, that we may consider them; declare unto us things for to come, that we may know that ye, are gods, and that we may be dismayed.” See also Isaiah 43:9.

(3) The Work of Grace.

With respect to the work of grace, God does refer to Himself also in the plural number. Take, for instance, the saint’s spiritual communion with God. The Lord Jesus said, “If a man love me, he will keep my words; and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (Jn 14:23). These personal actions of coming and making abode, are expressive of communion and fellowship God shares with His people. God is said to be more than one, and we are not at a loss as to who they are—Christ and His Father. Hence, we read in 1 John 1:3 and 2 Corinthians 13:14 that the saint has fellowship with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ, and also communion with the Holy Spirit. To these instances of plural expressions may be added Song of Solomon 1:11 and John 3:11.

3. The Angel of Jehovah, Sent by Jehovah.

That there is a plurality in the Godhead may be proved from those references in the scriptures which speak of the angel of Jehovah. As the angel is none other than Jehovah Himself, so there must be more than one person in the Deity—He that sends Himself, and He that is sent are distinct, yet one and the same God.

(1) Genesis 16:7: “And the angel of the LORD…”

The angel of Jehovah is said to find Hagar, Sarah’s maid, in the wilderness, and bid her return to her mistress. That this angel is Jehovah, appears from the promises given to her, together with an unfolding of future events, which reaches beyond the capacity of a created angel. Only Jehovah is qualified to speak such things (Gen 16:10-12). This is confirmed by Hagar, who “called the name of Jehovah that spake unto her, Thou God seest” (Gen 16:13).

(2) Genesis 18:2: “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him…”

While in the plains of Mamre, Abraham is accompanied by three men, who were angels in human form (Gen 19:1). Although Dr. Lightfoot believed the three angels were the three Persons of the Godhead, yet the Father and the Holy Spirit never assumed a human form, nor are they ever called angels. Rather, only one of these three angels is expressly called Jehovah, and it is the Son of God who had come in the form of a man (Gen 18:13,20,25,26). It is to the Son of God that omnipotence and omniscience are ascribed (Gen 18:14,17-19), and to whom Abraham showed the utmost reverence and respect (Gen 18:27,30,31). It is this selfsame angel, or the Son of God, who is said to rain brimstone and fire on Sodom and Gomorrah (Gen 19:24), which judgment is always represented as the work of Elohim, and not of a mere created angel. (Her 50:40; Amos 4:11)

(3) Genesis 22:11: “And the angel of the LORD…”

He which ordered Abraham to offer up his son Isaac (Gen 22:1,2), also instructed him to desist from it, who is depicted as the ‘angel of the LORD’ (Gen 22:11,12). Indeed, this was Jehovah, who swore by Himself, and promised to do what none but God could do (Gen 22:16-18). And what is here spoken is expressly ascribed to God (Heb 6:13,14). Consider also, that Abraham gave this place a name—Jehovah-Jireh—because the Lord had appeared, and would hereafter appear in this place again.

(4) Genesis 48:16: “The Angel which redeemed me from all evil…”

In the blessing Jacob extended to Joseph, he calls upon the God of Abraham and Isaac, who is forthwith described as “the Angel which redeemed me from all evil”. That this cannot refer to a created angel, but must be one and the same with Jehovah, is clear from the language of the text.

(5) Exodus 3:2: “And the angel of the LORD…”

That the angel which appeared to Moses in the bush is a divine person, is evident from the following reasons: First, the names ascribed to Him—Jehovah, God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, “I AM that I AM” (Ex 3:4,6,14); Second, the works that are ascribed to Him—He sees the afflictions of the Israelites, He is coming to deliver them out of Egyptian bondage, and He promises to bring them into the land of Canaan (Ex 3:7,8); Third, the prayer of Moses—a blessing is sought on Joseph, because of the good will of him that dwelt in the bush (Deut 33:16); Fourth, the application of this passage by Christ—who expressly identifies the angel to be God (Mk 12:26).

(6) Exodus 23:23: “For mine Angel shall go before thee…”

The angel that was promised to go before the children of Israel, to keep and guide them in the way through the wilderness to the land of Canaan, is no other than Jehovah. First, obedience of the children of Israel to the angel is required—and should they disobey Him, He would not, though He could, pardon their iniquities; Second, the name of the Lord was in him—his nature and perfections; Third, it is the same that the children of Israel rebelled against, which could be no other than the Son of God, whom they tempted. These things belong only to Jehovah, who Himself saved and carried the children of Israel all the days of old (Is 63:9; 1 Cor 10:9).

(7) Zechariah 3:1: “…the angel of the LORD…”

The angel of the Lord, before whom Joshua the high priest stood, having been accused by Satan, is none other than Jehovah Himself. Not only is He called Jehovah (Zech 3:2), but He orders and works such things, which only God is authorized and capable of accomplishing—such as causing the iniquity of Joshua to pass from him, and clothing him with change of raiment (Is 61:10).

(8) Jeremiah 23:5,6: “Behold, the days come, saith the LORD, that I will raise unto David a righteous Branch…and this is his name whereby he shall be called, THE LORD OUR RIGHTEOUSNESS.”

Aside from these passages which refer to the “angel of Jehovah”, there are more scriptures which speak of two, as distinct from each other, under the same name of Jehovah. The above text (Jer 23:5,6) promises to raise up a righteous branch to David, whose name should be called “Jehovah our righteousness”. Another instance of this is found in Genesis 19:24, where Jehovah is said to rain fire and brimstone from Jehovah, out of heaven. One other example of this is found in Hosea 1:7, where Jehovah resolves He would save His people by Jehovah their God. All such passages plainly declare a plurality in the Godhead. Now, there are other scriptures which also prove a plurality in the Godhead, but as they specify a Trinity, so they are considered under the following head:

4. The Nature of God Himself.

A plurality of Persons in the Godhead is necessary in the nature of God Himself, for He must be His own happiness. As He is the best, the greatest and most perfect of Beings, His happiness in Himself must be most perfect and complete. Now, such happiness does not lie in solitude, but in society and community. Hence, the three personal distinctions in Deity, seem necessary to perfect happiness, which lies in that most glorious, inconceivable, and inexpressible communion the three Persons have with one another. Indeed, it is an eternal happiness belonging to an unspeakable nearness they have to each other (Jn 10:38; 14:10,11).

II. Identification of Three Distinct Persons in the One Godhead.

It has been taken for granted under the preceding head that there is a Trinity of persons in the unity of the divine essence. It is now my purpose to prove, that the whole current and universal consent of scripture has written as with a sunbeam, the number and names of the Persons in the Godhead. This may be viewed under the following heads:

1. The Direct Statement of Scripture.

Since 1 John 5:7 gives full proof and evidence of this doctrine, I shall confine my comments to this one passage of scripture: “For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.”

(1) An Explanation of the Text.

The importance of this text lies in the twofold truth set forth in the brevity of words. First, the unity of essence, or nature of God, is asserted and secured, by the declaration that the three witnesses are one—that these witnesses must be one in nature, and not merely in some unity of testimony, is confirmed by the fact that they “are one”, as opposed to the witnesses on earth (1 Jn 5:8) who are said to merely “agree in one”. Second, the Trinity of Persons in the unity of the divine essence is asserted and secured, by the affirmation that there are three distinct witnesses, identified as one God (1 Jn 5:9). These witnesses may be called a Trinity, inasmuch as they are “three”. These witnesses may also be called a Trinity of Persons, for the following reasons: (1) They are referred to as distinct witnesses—the Father is distinguished from the Word and the Holy Spirit; the Word is distinguished from the Father and the Holy Spirit; the Holy Spirit is distinguished from the Father and the Word. (2) A personal action is ascribed to each of them—each of the three Persons is identified as a testifier, which means there are three Persons (testifiers), giving a separate testimony. However, sometimes this text is construed to present God as having a single personality, who is giving three testimonies under the name of three characters. But this cannot be the true meaning of the text, for if one living and true God only bears record, first under the character of a Father, then under the character of a Son, or the Word, and then under the character of the Holy Spirit, then testimony may indeed be given three times, but there would be but one testifier, and not three, as the apostle asserts. For example, take the testimony one man may give under the names of three different characters—one man may stand in the relation of a father to his son; of a son to his father; and of a master to servants under him. Suppose this man should come into a court of judicature, and be admitted to bear testimony on a case. Perhaps he first gives his testimony under the character of a father, then under the character of a son, and finally under the character of a master. It will be evident to all, that though three testimonies were given, yet there was but one testifier. Likewise, it runs against the meaning of the text to suppose God has but one personality, giving testimony under three characters, or names.

(2) A Defense of the Text.

As this text (1 Jn 5:7) gives such proof of the doctrine of the Trinity, those that oppose this truth have gone to great lengths to extirpate it from a place in the sacred writings. The basic objections they bring against this text, in an attempt to weaken its authority, may be stated thus:

First, that it is wanting in the Syriac version. Although the Syriac is an ancient version, yet it is only a version, and till of late appeared to be a very defective one. For instance, the history of the adulterous woman in the eighth of John, the second epistle of Peter, the second and third epistles of John, the epistle of Jude and the book of Revelation were all missing. It wasn’t until a copy of archbishop Usher’s, by De Dieu and Dr. Pocock, was supplied, that these passages were restored. Likewise, it was from an Eastern copy, that the passage in 1 John 5 was included in the text, as it now stands.

Second, that the old Latin interpreter has it not. It is certain that the passage in 1 John 5 is to be seen in many Latin manuscripts of an early date. Not only is it in the Vulgate Latin version of the London Polyglot Bible, but it is also found in the Latin translation which bears the name of Jerom. In fact, in an epistle to Eustochium, which is prefixed to Jerom’s translation of those canonical epistles, he complains of the omission of it, by unfaithful interpreters.

Third, that it is not to be found in many Greek manuscripts. Yes, but it is found in many other Greek manuscripts—it is in the Complutensian edition, the compilers of which made use of various copies; it is in nine of the sixteen ancient copies of Robert Stephanes; and it is also said to be in an old British copy.

Fourth, that it is not quoted by the ancient fathers who wrote against the Arians, when it might have been of great service to them. This is an insufficient proof against the authenticity of the text in 1 John 5, for: (1) The text might be in the original copy, and not in that used by the fathers, through the carelessness and unfaithfulness of transcribers; (2) The text might be in the original copy, and not in that used by the fathers, as they may have been in possession of corrupted copies. Such copies were in circulation before the times of Arius, and even Artemon, who lived in the second century. Since some though of Christ as mere man, they sought to fortify their views by erasing passages of scripture which contradicted their belief. That the epistle of 1 John was brought under such attack is verified by the ancient writers; (3) The text might be in the copies used by the fathers, and yet not quoted by them, having selected other scriptures to prove and defend to the doctrine of the Trinity; (4) This text appears to be quoted by many of the ancient fathers. It is used by Fulgentius, in the beginning of the sixth century, against the Arians, without any scruple or hesitation; it is used by Jerom, as before observed, for he has it in his translation, made in the latter end of the fourth century; it is quoted by Athanasius, about the middle of the fourth century; and before him by Cyprian, in the middle of the third century; it is manifestly referred to by Tertullian, in the beginning of the third century; it is used by Clemens of Alexandria, towards the end of the second century; so that it is to be traced up within a hundred years, or less, the writing of the first epistle of John. This should be enough to satisfy anyone of the genuineness of this text. Nevertheless, let it be observed, (5) This text was never in dispute, until Erasmus left it out in the first edition of his translation of the New Testament. Yet he himself, upon the credit of the old British copy, before mentioned, put it into another edition of his translation. Yea, the Socinians themselves have not dared to leave it out in their German Racovian version, A. C. 1630. To which may be added, (6) The context of the passage requires the disputed verses. First, the connection with the preceding verse suggests it, as well as its compliment to the following verse; Second, 1 John 5:9 references the witnesses of the 7th verse, which inference would be unclear, if there is no mention before made of the divine testimony.

2. The General References in Scripture.

As there is not anything, no not the least thing, that is said or written in the sacred scriptures, without design, so the following references are worthy of consideration. The name Jehovah is used three times in, (1) The blessing of the priest (Num 6:24-26); (2) The prayer of Daniel (Dan 9:19); (3) The church’s declaration of her faith in God (Is 33:22); (4) The seraphim’s celebration of the glory of the divine Being (Is 6:3). To this may be added the four beasts in Revelation 4:8 who rest not night or day, saying, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.”

3. The Works of Creation.

As the works of creation are a demonstration of the eternal power and Godhead, so in them are clear traces of a Trinity of persons. (1) The Creation of the World. That God the Father made the heavens, earth and sea, and all that are in them, cannot be doubted, as the apostles addressed Him as distinct from Christ His Son in Acts 4:24,27; that God the Son is ascribed the authorship of creation cannot be disputed, for the apostle John declared, “All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that is made.” (Jn 1:3); that the Holy Spirit was involved with the work of creation is clear, for not only is He said to have moved upon the face of the waters which covered the earth, and brought that unformed choas of earth and water into a bountiful order, but He also garnished the heavens, to bespangle the firmament with stars of light, and to form the crooked serpent, the Leviathan, which being the greatest, is put for all the fishes of the sea. More than this, the Holy Spirit is sent forth yearly, and renews the face of the earth at every returning spring. (Gen 1:2; Job 26:13; Ps 104;30). The work of the Trinity in creation is affirmed by Psalm 33:6, where all three are seen together in the same text—”By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the breath of his mouth.” Mention is here made of Jehovah, and His Word, the eternal Logos, and of His Spirit, the breath of His mouth—all three are concerned in the making of the heavens, and all the host of them. (2) The Creation of Man. That God the Father is the maker of men, none can dispute, for, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us?” (Mal. 2:10); that God the Son is the maker of men, none can oppose (Is 54:5); that God the Holy Spirit is the maker of men, none can contest, for Elihu confessed in Job 33:4: “The Spirit of God hath made me, and the breath of the almighty hath given me life.”

4. The Works of Providence.

That there is a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead is demonstrated in the works of providence. (1) Asserted by Direct Statement. In John 5:17, Jesus said, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” The meaning of Christ is this—ever since the works of creations were finished, in which the Father and the Son had a hand, they have been jointly concerned in the government of the world, and in ordering and disposing of all things therein. Neither have they governed to the exclusion of the Holy Spirit, for, “Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him?”—that is, in the affair of the government of the world, as follows; “With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and showed to him the way of understanding?”—that is, to manage the important concerns of the world, to do everything wisely and justly, and to overrule all for the best ends and purposes (Is 40:13,14). (2) Affirmed by Way of Example. The three divine Persons appear in that remarkable affair of providence, when Jehovah delivered the children of Israel out of Egypt, securing them with protection and guidance through the wilderness to the land of Canaan. Isaiah 63:7-14 ascribes credit for these displays of divine glory to, (1) Jehovah, who in mercy, lovingkindness, and goodness extended grace to the children of Israel; (2) and also to the Angel of His presence, as a distinct Person of Jehovah, who showed love and pity to them, by saving, redeeming, bearing, and carrying them all the days of old; (3) and then of His Holy Spirit, as a distinct Person of Jehovah, and different from the Angel, whom they rebelled against, and whom they vexed, and yet, though thus provoked, He led them on through the wilderness, and caused them to rest in the land of Canaan.

5. The Works of Grace.

Over and above the works of creation and providence, the three Persons of the Godhead are most clearly revealed in all the works of grace. Now, the doctrine of the Trinity is often represented as a speculative point, of no great moment whether it is believed or not. In fact, some have gone so far as to conclude the Trinity is too mysterious and curious a matter to be pried into, and that it had better be left alone than meddled with. But, alas! The three Persons of the Godhead enter into the whole of our salvation. From the inspiration of the holy scriptures, into all the doctrines of the gospel and to the experience of the saints. Indeed, there is no gospel if there be no Trinity!

(1) The Inspiration of the Holy Scriptures.

The holy scriptures are a wonderful instance of the grace and goodness of God to men, which is the foundation and source of spiritual knowledge, peace, and comfort. The apostle identifies God as the author of the scriptures, for he writes, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God” (2 Tim 3:16). The inspiration of the scriptures is particularly ascribed to the Holy Spirit, for “holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost” (2 Pet 1:21). Nevertheless, the Father and the Son are also to be credited with the inspiration of the scriptures, for we find the Trinity dictating the writings that David was the penman of—“The Spirit of the LORD spake by me, and his word was in my tongue. The God of Israel said, the Rock of Israel spake to me, He that ruleth over men must be just, ruling in the fear of God.” (2 Sam 23:2,3) Herein is the Spirit of the Lord, who spake by every inspired writer; as well as the Father, who is identified as the God of Israel; and also the Son, who is the Rock of Israel. Forthwith, by drawing together 2 Timothy 3 and 2 Samuel 23, we conclude all scripture was given in the same manner—the Persons who inspired David, likewise inspired all the other penman of the Old and New Testament scriptures.

(2) The Covenant of Grace.

The central theme of the holy scriptures may be summed up under the terms and promises of the covenant of grace. This covenant was made from eternity, by Jehovah the Father with His Son; and by the Father and the Son with the Holy Spirit. The Son agreed to be the surety, mediator and messenger; yea, He is said to be the covenant itself. The Holy Spirit agreed to be the applier of the blessings and promises of it to those interested therein. (Ps 89:3; Is 42:6; Mal 3:1; Heb 7:22; 12:24; Eze 36:27; Jn 16:14,15) Hence, all three Persons are mentioned together as concerned in this covenant (Hag 2:4,5), where, for the encouragement of the people of Israel to work in rebuilding the temple, it is said, “for I am with you, saith the LORD of hosts: according to the word that I covenanted with you when ye came out of Egypt, so my spirit remaineth among you.” Now, Junius renders it, “with the Word by whom I covenanted with you”, and at which time the covenant of grace was more clearly and largely revealed. Let it be observed, therefore, that Jehovah the Father is the covenant maker, who is joined by Jehovah the Son in, by and with whom He covenanted, who together are joined by Jehovah the Spirit remaining and abiding, to see there was a performance and an application of all that was promised.

(3) The Salvation of Sinners.

As the three Persons of the Godhead have engaged in a gracious covenant, so they take their distinct parts in the economy of man’s salvation. (1) 1 Peter 1:2: “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus.” Herein, the election of men to salvation is ascribed to the Father, unto the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, which is applied through sanctification of the Holy Spirit. (2) 2 Thessalonians 2:13,14: “God hath from the beginning chosen you to salvation through sanctification of the Spirit and belief of the truth: whereunto he called you by our gospel, to the obtaining of the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.” Herein, God the Father is said to choose men from the beginning unto salvation; the means through which they are chosen is the sanctification of the Holy Spirit; and the end to which they are chosen and called is the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ. (3) Ephesians 1:3-14. Nowhere are the acts of grace more distinctly ascribed to each Person of the Godhead than in this first chapter of the epistle to the Ephesians. Herein, God the Father is said to bless and choose His people in Christ before the foundation of the world, predestinating them to the adoption of children by Christ, in whom they are accepted with Him (Eph 1:3-6); God the Son, in the person of Jesus Christ, is spoken of as the author of redemption through His blood, which includes the forgiveness of sin, and a justifying righteousness, which is the title to the heavenly inheritance (Eph 1:7-12); God the Holy Spirit, in distinction from the Father and the Son, is said to be the earnest of their inheritance, and by whom they are sealed until they come to the full possession of it (Eph 1:13,14).

(4) The Justification of God’s Elect.

Of particular note is the act of justification, wherein each Person of the Trinity takes part. God the Father justifies, by imputing the righteousness of His Son, without works (Rom 3:30; 4:6; 8:33); God the Son justifies by His knowledge, or by faith in Him (Is 53:11); and, God the Holy Spirit pronounces the sentence of justification in the conscience of believers—hence, they are “justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (1 Cor 6:11).

(5) The Adoption of God’s Elect.

Closely related to the act of justification is that of adoption. God the Father opens the way for sinners to be adopted, by bestowing such a favour upon them through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus (1 Jn 3:1); God the Son gives power to those that believe in Him, to become the sons of God (Gal 4:4,5; Jn 1:12); God the Holy Spirit bears witness of this adoption to them, whereby He is called the Spirit of adoption (Rom 8:15,16). Indeed, all three Persons of the Godhead appear in Galatians 4:6: “Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father.” The Father is spoken of as distinct from the Son, and the Son from the Father, and the Spirit from them both—all three bear their part in this wonderful favour.

(6) The Regeneration of God’s Elect.

The evidence of adoption is regeneration—and instance of the great love and abundant mercy of God. This act is sometimes ascribed to God the Father (1 Pet 1:3), and sometimes to God the Son (Jn 5:21; 1 Jn 2:29) and sometimes to God the Spirit (Jn 3:3,5). And, all three are mentioned together in Titus 3:4-6: “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but 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 Saviour.” Herein, God the Father is called our Saviour, who is said to saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Spirit; which grace is shed abroad in men through Jesus Christ our Saviour.

(7) The Anointing of God’s Elect.

To these spiritual blessings may be added that special unction, or anointing, which is received from the Holy One. It is from God the Father, in and through Christ, and by the Holy Spirit—2 Corinthians 1:21,22: “Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” God the Father is represented as the establisher and anointer; Jesus Christ, as a distinct Person, in whom the saints are established and anointed; and the Holy Spirit, distinct from them both, as the earnest of their future glory.

6. The Office and Work of Christ.

A Trinity of Persons in the Godhead may be plainly discovered in all things relating to the office and work of Christ, as the Redeemer and Saviour.

(1) The Mission of Christ.

The Son of God was sent by agreement, with His own consent, by the Father and the Spirit. This is affirmed by Himself in Isaiah 48:16: “Now the Lord God, and his Spirit, hath sent me.” He that speaks these words is none other than the Son of God, who also said, “I am the first and the last”, and whose hand laid the foundation of the earth, and whose right hand spanned the heaven, and who is continued speaking to Isaiah 48:16. It is this divine Person, who is said to be sent by Jehovah the Lord God, and by His Spirit, whereupon there must be three distinct Persons, and not only one. Otherwise, the sense would be, “now I and myself have sent myself”, which is a meaningless declaration.

(2) The Incarnation of Christ.

Christ the Son of God, sent to be the Saviour, was in the fulness of time made of a woman, or became incarnate. Now, all three Persons were concerned in this affair—God the Father provided a body for Him under His purposes and decrees, council and covenant; God the Son was made flesh, and dwelt among men; God the Holy Spirit came upon the virgin Mary, conceiving in her the incarnate Son of God. (Heb 10:5; Jn 1:14; Matt 1:20) And, when the angel brought the message of this mysterious affair to the Virgin, mention is made distinctly of all the three Persons—there is the “highest”, Jehovah the Father; and “the Son of the highest”, who took flesh of the Virgin; and the Holy Spirit, or “the power of the highest”, to whose overshadowing influence, the mysterious incarnation is ascribed (Lk 1:32,35).

(3) The Anointing of Christ.

Christ, the Son of God, being incarnate, was anointed with the Holy Spirit, whereby He received the gifts and graces of the Spirit which are without measure. Henceforth, as a man, He was fitted and qualified for His office as Mediator. The anointer is said to be God, His God, the great Jehovah; the anointed, the Son of God in human nature, called therefore the Christ of God, the true Messiah; what he was anointed with was the Holy Spirit, His gifts and grace, signified by the oil of gladness. (Ps 45:7; Is 61:1; Acts 10:38)

(4) The Baptism of Christ.

When Christ turned thirty years of age, He was baptized of John in Jordan, where all the three Persons of the Godhead appeared. God the Father, by a voice from heaven, declared Him to be His beloved son; God the Son, in the person of Jesus Christ, submitted to the ordinance of baptism; God the Holy Spirit descending as a dove upon Him. (Matt 3:16,17) That this event has always been reckoned so full and clear a proof of the Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, is demonstrated by the common saying among the ancients—“Go to Jordan, and there learn the doctrine of the Trinity.”

(5) The Prayer and Promise of Christ.

Before the Lord’s sufferings and death, He gave out various promises to His disciples. One such promise was that He would send the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to them. Herein may be traced a Trinity of Persons. When He says, “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter” (Jn 14:16), there is God the Father to whom Christ is praying, and God the Son who is making the prayer; and then there is another Comforter prayed for, even the Spirit of truth, distinct from the Father and the Son. The same may be observed in John 15:26; 16:7.

(6) The Death of Christ.

Christ by his sufferings and death, obtained eternal redemption for men. The three Persons of the Godhead have their part in this work. It was God the Father to whom the price was paid, for it is said, “hath redeemed us to God by thy blood” (Rev 5:9); It was God the Son, in the dignity of His person, who gave the price a sufficient value (1 Jn 1:7); and it was “through the eternal Spirit” He offered Himself to God (Heb 9:14). Although some understand this last scripture as a reference to the divine nature, yet it is not usual to say, Christ did this, or the other thing, through the divine nature, but by the Spirit, as in Matthew 12:28 and Acts 1:2. Besides this, in some copies of Hebrews 9:14, it reads, “through the Holy Spirit”.

(7) The Resurrection of Christ.

Again, Christ having suffered and died for men, He rose again for their justification. All three Persons are concerned in this also. God the Father raised Him from the dead, and gave Him glory (1 Pet 1:21); God the Son raised Himself by His own power, according to His own prediction (Jn 2:19); and God the Holy Spirit declared Him to be the Son of God with power, by the resurrection from the dead (Rom 1:4; 8:11).

7. The Worship and Duties of Religion.

It is clear there is a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead, from the worship and duties of religion enjoined upon the people of God.

(1) The Ordinance of Baptism.

The ordinance of baptism is a very solemn part of divine worship. It is ordered to be administered, and is administered, when done rightly, “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt 28:19). This is to be understood, not of three names and characters, but of three Persons distinctly named and described. That they are but one God, is indicated by the singular word “name”, prefixed to them. Men are to be baptised in one name of three Persons, equal in honour and glory—but not into one of the three names, as an ancient writer has observed, nor into three incarnates.

(2) The Blessedness of Communion.

A Trinity of Persons in the Godhead is easily discerned in the benedictory prayer of the apostle—2 Corinthians 13:14: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” Herein is set forth the blessedness of communion with God, which is a communion not only of the Holy Spirit, but also of the Father and of the Son. This is demonstrated when God is invoked in prayer. The petitions are directed sometimes to one Person, and sometimes to another—sometimes to the first Person, the God and Father of Christ (Eph 3:14), and sometimes to Christ himself, the second Person, as by Stephen (Acts 7:59), and sometimes to the Lord the Spirit, the third Person, (2 Thess 3:5). There are even times when all three are addressed together. (Rev 1:4,5)

(3) The Supply of Spiritual Growth.

That there is a Trinity of Persons in the Godhead may also be observed when the saints of God seek the Lord for spiritual nourishment. For instance, (1) As the saints of God are made light in the Lord, so when they need an increase of light, prayer is made to God the Father, who is able to give unto them the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Christ; the Spirit of wisdom is that prayed for; and that for an increase in the knowledge of Christ (Eph 1:17,18). (2) As the saints of God need an increase of strength, prayer is made to God the Father who is able to strengthen them by His Spirit in the inward man (Eph 3:14; Zech 10:12); and in a forementioned text, prayer is made to the divine Spirit, to direct the hearts of God’s people into the love of God, and patient waiting for Christ (2 Thess 3:5). Here again, the three divine Persons are plainly distinguished.


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