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Being ; generally using scripture terms, and never venturing to explain or define what they reverently deemed, in their own expressive phrase, “ unwordable. The latter (party) were the subscribers of the orthodox Creed. But these two parties dif. fered more in appearance than in reality, though the one dared not to use the language of the other.”—Gen. Bapt. Hist. vol. i. p. 364.
This is quite enough for my purpose ; which is, to show why Bunyan defined as well as defended, Trinitarianism. He evidently thought with Owen, whose sagacity in the mat. ter, Orme says, “ looks almost like a prediction,” that the fearless speculations about “ Freewill, Universal Redemption, and Apostacy from Grace, were ready to gather to the head of Socinianism.” Orme adds, “ It is a singular fact, that the career of many has been substantially what the Dr. here describes ; from Calvinism to Arminianism, Arianism, and finally Socianism. Priestley, Kippis, and Robinson were all illustrations” of this.-Orme’s Life of Dr. Owen, p. 216. There is much solemn truth in these remarks.
It is, however, only bare justice to say, that the great Confession of the General Baptists in 1660, is so orthodox on the whole, that a moderate Cavinist (and Ivimey says there were of those then who are now called high) might sign it with a good conscience, upon an emergency which called for union. Accordingly, it was signed, if Henry Adis may be believed, by “ some persons of the particular judgment,” as was that of the Seven Churches in London “ by some of another persuasion.” The fact is, both parties were labouring under one odium, and exposed to a common danger, and thus equally interested in Articles of Peace. But the Article on the Trinity, which was for peace' sake in 1660, was turned into a weapon of war by the Socinianized Baptists, in 1670, although only secretly wielded as such then. Bunyan knew this, and had seen some of those who were wounded or shaken by its secret thrusts; and therefore he both counselled them and warned others. This seems to have been the origin of the following masterly sketch of Trinitarianism.
" OF THE PERSONS, OR SUBSISTENCES, IN THE GODHEAD.
6 The Godhead is but one, yet in the Godhead there are three ; . There are Three that can bear record in heaven.' These three are called, the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit;
each of which is really, naturally and eternally God: yet there is but one God. But again, because the Father is of himself, the Son by the Father, and the Spirit from them both; there. fore, to each, the Scripture not only applieth, and that truly, the whole nature of the Deity, but again distinguisheth the Father from the Son, and the Spirit from them both; calling the Father he, by himself: the Son he, by himself; the Spirit he, by himself. Yea, the three of themselves, in their mani. festing to the church what she should believe concerning this matter hath thus expressed the thing ; . Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' Again, The man is become like one of us.' Again, Let us go down, and there confound their language.' And again, Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? To these general expressions might be added, “That Adam heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the midst of the garden :' which voice John will have to be one of the Three, calling that which Moses here saith is the voice, the Word of God. • In the beginning (saith he) was the Word;' the voice which Adam heard walking in the midst of the garden. This Word (saith John) was with God, this Word was God: the same was in the beginning with God.' Marvellous language! once asserting the unity of essence, but twice insinuating a distinction of substances therein. • The Word was with God, the Word was God; the same was in the beginning with God.' Then follows, · All things were made by him, the Word, the Second of the three.'
“ Now the godly, in former ages, have called these three thus in the Godhead, persons or substances ; the which, though I condemn not, yet choose rather to abide by scripture phrase, knowing, though the other may be good and sound, yet the (adversary must needs more shamelessly spurn and reject, when he doth it against the evident text.
“ To proceed then; 1. There are Three. 2. These Three are distinct.
6 1st. By this word Three, is intimated the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost. And they are said to be three, (1.) Because those appellations that are given them in Scripture, demonstrate them so to be, to wit, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. (2.) Because their acts one towords another discover them so to be.
“ 2d. These three are distinct. (1.) So distinct as to be more than one only. There are three. (2.) So distinct as to subsist without depending. The Father is true God, the Son
is true God, the Spirit is true God. Yet the Father is one, the Son is one, the Spirit is one. The Father is one of him. self, the Son is one by the Father, the Spirit is one from them both. Yet the Father is not above the Son, nor the Spirit inferior to either. The Father is God, the Son is God, the Spirit is God.
Among the three then there is not superiority. “ 1. Not as to time : The Father is from everlasting, so is the Son, so is the Spirit. 2. Not as to nature : The Son being of the substance of the Father, and the Spirit of the substance of them both. 3. The fulness of the Godhead is in the Father, is in the Son, and is in the Holy Ghost. The God. head then, though it can admit of a Trinity, yet it admitteth not of an inferiority in that Trinity. If otherwise, then less or more must be there, and so either plurality of gods, or some. thing that is not God: so then, Father, Son, and Spirit are in the Godhead, yet but one God; each of these is God over all, yet no Trinity of Gods, but one God in the Trinity.
The Godhead then is common to the three, but the three themselves abide distinct in that Godhead : distinct, I say, as Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit.
“ This is manifest further by these several positions.
“1. Father and Son are relatives, and must needs therefore have their relation as such : A Father begetteth, a Son is begotton.
“ Proof. · Who hath ascended up into Heaven, or descended? who hath gathered the wind in his fist? who hath bound the waters in a garment? What is his name, and what is his Son's name, if thou canst tell ? God so loved the world, that he
gave his only begotton Son,' &c. The Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.'
“2. The Father then cannot be that Son he begat, nor the Son that Father that begat him, but must be distinct as such.
“Proof. “I am one that beareth witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me.' I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world. Again, •I leave the world, and go to the Father.'
666 The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judg. ment unto the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.'
63. The Father must have worship as a Father, and the Son as a Son.
“ Proof. They that worship the father must worship him in spirit and in truth; for the Father seeketh such to worship him.'
“ And of the Son he saith, · And when he bringeth his firstbegotten into the world, he saith, And let all the angels of God worship him.'
“ 4. 'The Father and Son have really those distinct, but heavenly relative properties, that discover them, as such to be two as well as one.
“Proof. • The Father loveth the Son, and showeth him all things.' • Therefore doth my Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again.' The Father sent the Son; the Father commanded the Son; the Son prayed to the Father, and did always the things that pleased him.
“ The absurdities that flow from the denial of this are divers; some of which hereunder follow.
“ 1. It maketh void all those scriptures that do affirm the doctrine ; some of which you have before.
6 2. If in the Godhead there be but one, not three, then the Father, Son, or the Spirit must needs be that
any one only : so then the other two are nothing. Again, if the reality of a being be neither in the Father, Son, nor Spirit, as such, but in the eternal Deity, without consideration of Father, Son and Spirit, as three; then neither of the three are any thing but notions in us, or manifestations of the Godhead, or nominal distinctions, so related by the Word: but if so, then when the Father sent the Son, and the Father and Son the Spirit, one notion sent another, one manifestation sent another. This being granted, this unavoidably follows, there was no Father to beget a Son, no Son to be sent to save us, no Holy Ghost to be sent to comfort us, and to guide us into all the truth of the Father and Son, &c. The most amounts but to this, a notion sent a notion, a distinction sent a distinction, or one manifestation sent another. Of this error, these are the consequences; we are only to believe in notions and distinctions, when we believe in the Father and the Son; and so shall have no other heaven and glory than notions and nominal distinctions can furnish us withal.
" 3. If Father and Son, &c. be no otherwise three than as notions, names, or nominal distinctions, then to worship these distinctly, or together, as such, is to commit most gross and horrible idolatry ; for albeit we are commanded to fear that great and dreadful name, The Lord our God;' yet to worship
a Father, a Son, and Holy Spirit in the Godhead, as three, as really three as one, is by this doctrine to imagine falsely of God, and so to break the second commandment: but to wor. ship God under the consideration of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost, and to believe them as really three as one when 1 worship, being the sum and substance of the doctrine of the Scriptures of God, there is really substantially three in the eternal Godhead.
“ But to help thee a little in thy study on this deep.
“1. Thou must take heed when thou readest, there is in the Godhead, Father and Son, &c. that thou do not imagine about them according to thine own carnal and foolish fancy; for no man can apprehend this docrine but in the light of the word and Spirit of God: “No man knoweth the Son but the Father ; neither knoweth any man the Father save the Son; and he to whom the Son will reveal him.' If, therefore, thou be desti. tute of the Spirit of God, thou canst not apprehend the truth of this mystery, as it is in itself, but will either by thy darkness be driven to a denial thereof; or if thou own it, thou wilt, (notwithstanding thy acknowledgment) falsely imagine about it.
“ 2. If thou feel thy thoughts begin to wrestle about this truth, and to struggle concerning this, one against another, take heed of admitting of such a question, How can this thing be? for here is no room for reason to make it out? here is only room to believe it is a truth. You find not one of the prophets propounding an argument to prove it, but asserting it; they let it lie for faith to take it up and embrace it.
“ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
I preserve this document to prove how well Bunyan could define and compress even upon the most difficult of all subjects. This characteristic of his power is the more interesting, be. cause he always approached the doctrine of the Trinity with awful solemnity as well as modesty.
He did not reckon the doctrine “unwordable” exactly; but he did better ; he cherished the habitual conviction, that the mystery is enough to crush the spirit, and stretch the strings of the most capa. cious and widened soul that breatheth on this side of Glory, even if exceedingly enlarged by revelation."-Works, vol. ï. p. 1107.