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1 Joba 5. 7.
For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father,
the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and
these three are one.
I INTEND no long discourse upon this subject, nor longer
than may consist with the design of going over the several heads of religion, in as plain a manner, and in as short a way as I can. It would very ill agree with such a design, to insist upon, and discourse upon all the several texts of Scripture arguments and objections this way and that, which are wont to be ventilated upon this point. All that can be expected, according to the course I have proposed to use, will be barely to represent that which I take, and which (I hope) we generally agree to be the truth in this matter, in as few and as plain words as is possible. If one should take the large course, which some (it may be) would expect, it would be to make one particular subject the business of a long life's time, and would he to turn this place into a theatre of contentious disputations rather than serious instructions, tending only to gratify vain minds, rather than to edify the sober mind.
I shall not need to stay at all upon the particular controversy about this text, the authenticity of it, which, it is true, is disputed : but upon that account only, that some copies have been found not to have it. But for such as are in doubt there. upon concerning it, I need do no more than recommend them (amongst others) to what hath been most judiciously, and, indeed, very charitably written as to that matter by Dr. Hammond, in his annotations on the New Testament, where he hath, with equal judgment and charity, represented how it is very easily supposable that in the transcribing of some copy or another, two verses coming here together, this seventh and eighth that do begin and end, both of them, somewhat alike, the eye of the transcriber might fall upon the latter, and so write without looking back to the former. A very obvious supposition, and a great deal more probable (as it is a great deal more charitable) than to suppose that either side, in the time of the Arian controversy, did design a corruption of the Scripture text; I say, it is a great deal more rational, (as it is more charitable) because indeed it had been a very foolish thing, merely out of favour to one side, to have corrupted the Scripture in that one particular place, leaving other scriptures to stand as they were that speak so fully the same thing, as that 28 Math. 18. 19. and that John 10. 30. “ I and my Father are one." It is not likely there should be a designed corruption, where the loss of reputation would be so very great, and the gain and advantage so very little; but we have reason enough to be satisfied that the most ancient copies have it as we here find.
* Preached, March 27. 1691,
And for the way of managing the discourse upon this subject, I shall not offer at that which some have done, the demonstrating a Trinity in the Godhead in a rational way, as that which sone have supposed sufficiently evident by rational light; and which some have made it their business to evince, (both Poiret and others before bim,) and with no contemptible endeavour. But whether such do demonstrate their point yea or no, it is to me a very strong demonstration of the strange imbecility of the human mind, that some should think it rationally denionstrable, that, that cannot but be, which others take to be rationally demonstrable cannot be. This, I say, it is a great demonstration to me of; and I do believe that they who do read the other writings of Poiret and others, who think the Trinity rationally demonstrable, and read the writings of Socinus and others, his followers, who think the contrary, will apprehend in other matters, l'oiret to be as rational a man as ever Socinus was, or any that followed him. Compare the writings of the one and the other, in other matters; and then I
it is a strong demonstration, and that which doth require our very serious thoughts, of the imbecility of the minds of men, and how little the confident pretences to rational demonstrations, by interested persons, engaged and dipped in a party this way and that, are to be relied upon, when some very highly rational men shall undertake to demonstrate, that it is impossible this should be ; when others as rational as they, shall undertake to demonstrate it is impossible not to be. That is, that there could have been no such thing as creation nor indeed any action in the Deity, and consequently, no Deity at all if there were not a Trinity in it. That is, if there were not an eternal mind which, when there was nothing else, should like an intellectual sun turn its beams ioward upon itself, and so by consequence, beget an eternal action, its own eternal image, and that there must be an eternal love between that mind begetting, and the mind begotten: and there you have the Trinity in the Deity.
But this I insist not on; only that it may appear that it is not impossible: and I hope that all pretence that it is, will in due time, and easily vanish. It is so plainly revealed in Scripture, that there is a Trinity in the Godhead, that we may very well take it upon the word of him that reports it to us, and who best (we may be sure) understands his own nature. Take it, I say, amongst those things of God, which are only to be known by the Spirit of God; as there are things of a man, that are only known by the spirit of a man that is in him : (as the apostle speaks, 1 Cor. 2. 14.) and if the mind and spirit of every particular man, have its own particularities known only to itself, till the man is pleased to reveal and make them known, sure it is very little strange that the divine Being should have his peculiarities too, not otherwise knowable than as he is pleased to reveal them. And if he plainly reveal to us, that there is a Trinity in the Unity of his nature, then surely, to sober inquirers and learners, the business is done.
As to the latter part of the verse, I shall not need to insist upon it, “these three are one,” having, I hope, sufficiently evinced to you the Unity of the Godhead from another text. And I close to do it from another text rather, that had that expression in it which this bath not. For this doth not expressly say, these three are one God, but it doth say, these three are one. But having already proved to you that the Godhead is but one, it leads us with so much the more clearness (having asserted the doctrine of the unity of the Godhead to be true) to apprehend, that it must be the truth of this place, and so shall have occasion but to repeat concerning that which we have already proved, but not to prove it any more. And therefore, the plain contents of this scripture you may take thusthat there is a Trinity in the Deity, or--if you will, a little more largely—that there are three which we cannot more fit
ly express or conceive of, than by the name of persons, in the only one Godhead. And,
1. I shall evince the truth of this doctrine.
And now to let you see that this is reasonably given you, as the sense and meaning of this place, I shall proceed by some gradual steps : and,
1. To prepare my way, let you see that this is spoken here in this place; it is the doctrine of this place. So that if it can be made appear to be in itself true, we shall have all the reason in the world to conclude, that it is fitly represented as the doctrine held forth in this text. And for the truth of the thing, we shall come to consider from other places afterwards. And,
(1.) It seems very reasonable, inasmuch as we otherwise ascertained that there is but one God, that the one thing wherein the three persons mentioned are said to be united, is the Godhead. “These three are one." One what? It is most reasonable to understand the meaning is, that they are one God, though this be not expressed in the text. For it is very plain, from what hath been already said, that the Godhead can be but one. And when it is said, there are three in heaven that are all one, that one thing which they are said to be, must needs be God, or the Godhead wherein they are said to unite ; especially the Father being said to be one of the three, concerning whose Godhead there is no doubt.
(2.) It is very plain, (upon supposition that the three mentioned in the text do unite, or are united in the Godhead,) the meaning must be, that they are one God and no more; that is, that the one God which they are said to be, is but one, is one God and no more. There can be no reason imagined why it should be said they are one, if the intendment were not that they were only one ; or that that thing which they are said to be, is but one. To
say the Godhead is one, it must always mean one exclusively, that is, that there is no other God but that, that one. And so, that is the thing that these three do unite, or are united in : not one witness, it is not a being united in their end : that cannot be meant here: for it is manifest that the apostle doth vary the form of expression in the following verse, where it is said, “ These three agree in one;" all to one purpose, all to one design, all giving one and the same testimony concerning Christ, concerning that Jesus who was descended and come down into this world. But here it is said in the text, they are one, are one thing, not one person, and therefore, it doth signify that they do agree, or do unite and meet in that wherein it is gever intended to say or intimate