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God him self-sometimes as the effect, viz. the power they possessed of working miracles in consequence of this energy or breathing of the Deity. These significations will be found consistently to explain all the passages relating to the Holy Spirit, without having recourse to its personality. I mention this merely as an argument a priori, a previous, probable argument of the meaning of Holy Spirit. That this is its true meaning we further proceed to prove. I therefore observe, 2nd, That the neuter pronoun, IT, is in no other instance in the Scriptures, ever ápplied to a person. Your main argument, to prove that the Holy Spirit is a third person in the Trinity, is derived from the personal article being applied to it, and personal qualities and offices ascribed to it. This has, I conceive, been sufficiently answered by a multitude of passages, where a similar personification of things inanimate has taken place. I now present the reverse of the argument. This person, if it be a person, has the neuter. article frequently ascribed to it; and is spoken of as a thing inanimate.
answer this as we have answered your ar gument? Can you bring passages from the scriptures where any other person is called It, a thing inanimate? Is the Father, the first person in the Trinity, ever called It? Is the Son, the second person in the Trinity, ever called It? We should start with astonishment at such an appellation; and yet it excites no astonishment that the third person in the Trinity, God the Holy Ghost, should be spoken of as a thing without life or sense!
I scarcely need mention such passages as these, "The spirit itself beareth witness." (Rom. viii. 16.) "It is the spirit which witnesseth." (1 John v. 6.) "For as yet it was fallen upon none of them." (Acts viii. 16.) Our translators have rendered it he, but in the original the participle is neuter. I refer you principally to one passage which is not a little striking, (John xiv. 17.) Our Saviour is personifying the Holy Spirit as a comforter, and ascribing to it personal attributes and offices, and yet he makes use of the following expression: "The spirit of truth which (neuter) the world cannot receive;
because it seeth it not, (neuter) neither knoweth it (neuter); but ye know it, (neuter) because it abideth with you and is in you!" Now, my candid hearers, I ask, Can you conceive it possible that Jesus would have spoken so of the Holy Spirit, if he knew it to be a real God, the third person in the Godhead? Would he have spoken so of his Father? It were a reflection on his character to
suppose it. Would any one of your preachers or writers when speaking of it in a personal character use such language? I leave you to reconcile this in the best manner you are able.
3rd. Notwithstanding the frequent promises of our Saviour to send a comforter, and the personal offices he ascribed to it, no such person ever appeared to the apostles. And it is a proof that they did not understand our Saviour literally, because no surprise is expressed that it was not a person which appeared. I think, my friends, you will not contend that a tongue is a person, and that is the only thing like a substance which appears ever to have descended to them. We hear of their re
ceiving the Holy Spirit, and being filled with it, and of the Holy Spirit's falling upon them, and being poured upon them; but never of his coming to them as a person. Nor do they appear to have expected it!
4th. "In the Epistles of the New Testament, there are, at the beginning and elsewhere, wishes of peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, but none from the Spirit distinctly. Nor are there any doxologies, or ascriptions of glory, to the Spirit distinctly, though there are several such ascriptions to God and Christ, or to God through Christ." I need mention only one or two passages out of many. (Rom. i. 7.) "To all that be in Rome, beloved of God, called to be saints; grace be to you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." "To God only wise, be glory through Jesus Christ, for ever." (Rom. xvi. 27.) "Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Eph. vi. 23.) Now there are no such doxologies to the Holy Spirit, or wishes of peace from it.
The only passage which is brought forward as at all similar to these is that to the Corinthians, where Paul wishes them the communion, fellowship, or participation of the Holy Spirit, which (as we have before observed) can with no propriety be spoken of a person.
How different are these from certain well-known doxologies. "Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, as it was in the beginning," &c. and, "Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three persons in one God, be glory for ever." What am I to argue from this difference? I must infer that persons using expressions
* Doubtless this is said by many very frequently, and with great devotion. But can it be said truly? Does not that deserve consideration? Is there any such doxology in the New Testament? If not, how can it be said to have been in the beginning? Are not the books of the New Testament the most ancient, and the most authentic Christian writings in all the world? It matters not much to inquire, when this doxology was first used, or how long it has been in use, if it is not in the New Testament. And whether it is there or not, may be known by those who are pleased to read it with care; as all may in Protestant countries, where the Bible lies open to be seen and read by all men.
Lardner on the Logos, Postscript, p. 138.