John Biddle set forth twelve arguments from the scriptures to demonstrate that the Holy Spirit is not Himself the one God; rather He acknowledged Him to be a third distinct person besides God and His Christ. Biddle expressed his view in another place: “I believe there is one principal Minister of God and Christ, peculiarly sent from heaven to sanctify the church, who, by reason of his eminency and intimacy with God, is singled out of the number of other heavenly ministers or angels, and comprised in the Holy Trinity, being the third person thereof; and that this minister of God and Christ is the Holy Spirit.” His endeavor here is to show that the Holy Spirit is not Himself the Supreme Being, the one God, viz, the Father, but another distinct person (or rational individual being) besides Him.

Argument 1:

He that is distinguished from God, is not God. The Holy Spirit is distinguished from God: therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The major premise is evident: for if he should be both God, and distinguished from God, he would be distinguished from himself; which implieth a contradiction. The Minor is confirmed by the whole current of the Scripture, which calleth him the Spirit of God, and saith that he is sent by God, and searcheth the depths of God, &c. Neither let any man here think to fly to that ignorant refuge of making a distinction between the Essence and Person of God, saying that the holy Spirit is distinguished from God, taken Personally, not Essentially: For this wretched distinction (to omit the mention of the Primitive Fathers) is not only unheard-of in Scripture, and so to be rejected, it being presumption to affirm any thing of the unsearchable nature of God, which he hath not first affirmed of Himself in the Scripture; but is also disclaimed by Reason. For first, it is impossible for any man, if he would but endeavour to conceive the thing, and not delude both himself and others with empty terms, and words without understanding, to distinguish the Person from the Essence of God, and not to frame two beings or things in his mind, and consequently two Gods. Secondly, If the person be distinct from the Essence of God, then it must needs be something; since nothing hath no accident, and therefore neither can it happen to it to be distinguished. If something, then either some finite or infinite thing: if finite, then there will be something finite in God, and consequently, since by the confession of the adversaries every thing in God is God himself, God will be finite; which the adversaries themselves will likewise confess to be absurd. If infinite, then there will be two infinites in God, to wit, the Person and Essence of God, and consequently two Gods; which is more absurd then the former. Thirdly, to talk of God taken impersonally, is ridiculous, not only because there is no example thereof in Scripture, but because God is the name of a Person, and signifies him that hath sublime dominion or power: and when it is put for the most high God, it denotes Him who with Sovereign and absolute authority rules over all; but none but a person can rule over others, all actions being proper to persons: wherefore to take God otherwise then personally, is to take him otherwise then he is, and indeed to mistake him.

Argument 2:

If he that gave the Holy Spirit to the Israelites to instruct them, be the LORD alone, then the Holy Spirit is not the LORD or God.

But he that gave the Holy to the Israelites to instruct them, is the LORD alone:

therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The sequele of the major premise is plain; for if he that gave the Holy Spirit be the LORD alone, and yet the Holy Spirit that was given be the LORD too, the same will be the LORD alone, and not the LORD alone, which implies a contradiction. The minor is evidenced by Neh. 9. 6, 20. ““You alone are the LORD. You have made the heavens, The heaven of heavens with all their host, The earth and all that is on it, The seas and all that is in them. You give life to all of them And the heavenly host bows down before You… You gave Your good Spirit to instruct them, Your manna You did not withhold from their mouth, And You gave them water for their thirst.” (NASB)

Argument 3:

He that speaketh not of himself, is not God.

The Holy Spirit speaketh not of himself.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The minor premise is clear from Joh. 16. 13. “But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come.” (NASB) The major premise is proved thus: God speaks of Himself; therefore if there be any one that speaks not of himself, he is not God. The antecedent is of itself apparent; for God is the primary Author of whatsoever he doth; but should he not speak of Himself, He must speak from another, and so not be the primary, but secondary author of His speech; which is absurd, if at least that may be called absurd, which is impossible. The consequence is undeniable. For further confirmation of this Argument, it is to be observed, that to speak or to do any thing not of Himself, according to the ordinary phrase of the Scripture, is to speak or do by the shewing, teaching, commanding, authorizing, or enabling of another, and consequently incompatible with the supreme and self-sufficient Majesty of God. Vid. John 5. 19. 20, 30. Joh. 7. 15, 16, 17, 18, 28. John 8. 28, 42. Joh. 11. 50, 51. John 12. 49, 50. John 14. 10, 24. John 15. 4. John 18. 34. Luke 12. 56, 57. Luke 21. 30. 2 Cor. 3. 5.

Argument 4:

He that heareth from another what he shall speak, is not God.

The Holy Spirit doth so:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor premise is plain from the forecited place, John 16. 13. The Major premise is proved thus:

He that is taught, is not God.

He that heareth from another, what he shall speak, is taught:

Therefore, He is not God.

The Major is clear by Isa. 40. 13, 14. compared with Rom. 11. 34. 1 Cor. 2. 16. For these places of the Apostle, compared with that of the Prophet, shew that Isaiah did not by the Spirit of the Lord there understand the Holy Spirit, but the mind, or intention of God. The Minor is evidenced by John B. where our Saviour having said in the 26. verse, Whatsoever I have heard from him (the Father) these things I speak; in the 28. verse he expresses the same sense thus; According as the Father hath taught me, these things I speak. Neither let any man go about to elude so pregnant an Argument, by saying that this is spoken of the Holy Spirit improperly: For let him turn himself every way, and scrue the words as he pleases, yet shall he never be able to make it out to a wise and considering man, how it can possibly be said, that any one heareth from another what he will speak, who is the prime Author of his speech, and into whom it is not at a certain time insinuated by another. For this expression plainly intimates, that whatsoever the Holy Spirit speaks to the Disciples, is first discovered and committed to him by Christ, whose Embassadour he is, it being proper to an Embassador to be the Interpreter not of his own, but of another’s will. But it is contradictious, to imagine that the most high God can have any thing discovered and committed to Him by another.

Argument 5:

He that receiveth of another’s, is not God.

The Holy Spirit doth so: Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor premise is witnessed by the aforesaid place, John 16. 14. The Major is proved thus; God is he that giveth all things to all; wherefore if there be any one that receiveth of another’s, he cannot be God. The antecedent is plain by Acts 17. 25. Rom. 11. 35, 36. The consequence is undeniable: for if God should give all things to all, and yet receive of another’s, He would both give all things, and not give all things; have all things of his own, and have something of another’s; both which imply a contradiction. The Major of the Prosyllogisme is otherwise urged, thus: He that is dependent, is not God. He that receiveth of another’s, is dependent: Therefore He is not God. The Major is unquestionable: for, to say that one is dependent, and yet God, is in effect to say he is God, and not God, which implies a contradiction. The Minor also is evident: for to receive of another’s, is the notion of dependency.

Argument 6:

He that is sent by another, is not God.

The Holy Spirit is sent by another:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor is plain from the fore-quoted place, John. 16. 7. The Major is evinced thus:

He that Ministreth, is not God.

He that is sent, Ministreth:

Therefore, He is not God.

The Major is indubitable, it being dissonant to the supreme Majesty of God to Minister, and serve another; for that were to be God and not God; to exercise sovereign dominion over all, and not to exercise it. The Minor is confirmed by Heb. 1. ult. where the divine Author shows, that the Angels are all Ministring Spirits, in that they are sent forth; as he before intimates Christ to be Lord, because he sitteth at the right hand of God. Thus David, Psal. 2. declareth the Sovereignty of God, in saying that he sitteth in Heaven. The Minor is further proved thus:

He that receives a command for the performance of something, doth Minister:

He that is sent forth, receiveth a command for the performance of something:

Therefore, He ministers.

The Major is evident to common sense, since it suiteth with none but Ministers and inferiours to receive commands. The Minor is manifested by John 12. 49. The Father that hath sent me, he gave me a Command what I shall speak. Neither let any man here reply, that this very thing is spoken also of Christ, unless, having first proved that Christ is the supreme God, he will grant that whatsoever is spoken of him, is spoken of him as God; or can make good that to be sent at least may agree to him as God. The contrary whereof I suppose I have clearly proved in this Argument, shewing that it is unsutable to the divine Majesty.

Argument 7:

He that is the gift of God, is not God.

The Holy Spirit is the gift of God:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Minor premise is plain by Acts. 12. 17. Forasmuch then as God gave them the like gift (meaning the Spirit) as he did unto us, who have believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, was I one that could withstand God? The Major, though of it self sufficiently clear, is yet further evidenced thus:

He that is not the giver of all things, is not God.

He that is the gift of God, is not the giver of all things:

Therefore, He is not God.

The Major premise is apparent from Act. 17. 25. God giveth to all, life, breath, and all things. The Minor premise is proved thus:

He that is himself given, is not the giver of all things:

He that is the gift of God, is himself given:

Therefore He is not the giver of all things.

The Major premise is undeniable, for otherwise the same would be the giver of all things, and yet not the giver of all things, inasmuch as he himself, a principal thing, is given, which implies a contradiction. The Minor premise needs no proof. Moreover, a gift is in the power, and at the disposal of the giver; but it is gross and absurd to imagine that God can be in the power, or at the disposal of another. Neither let any man here think to evade, by saying, that not the Holy Spirit himself, but only his gifts are imparted to men; Since both the more learned adversaries themselves confess, that the Person of the Holy Spirit is given together with his gifts, and the Scripture puts the matter out of doubt, if you consult Neh. 9. 20. and Rom. 5. 5. In both which places, the Holy Spirit is said to be given contradistinctly from his gifts and operations: in the first, contradistinctly from the instruction flowing from him; in the other, contradistinctly from the love of God diffused in our hearts by him. Whence we may draw this Corollary, that if the Person of the Holy Spirit be out of favour given to certain men, as the aforesaid places testify, then he was not personally present with them before, and consequently, by the concession of the adversaries themselves, cannot be God, since they will not deny that God is always personally present with all alike. But I forestal the following Argument.

Argument 8:

He that changes place, is not God.

The Holy Spirit changes place:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is plain: for if God should change place, he would cease to be where he was before, and begin to be where he was not before; which everteth his Omnipresence, and consequently, by the confession of the adversaries themselves, his Deity. The Minor premise is ocularly apparent, if following the advice of the adversaries, you will but go to Jordan; for there you shall have the holy Spirit in a bodily shape descending from heaven, which is the terminus a quo; and alighting upon Christ, which is the terminus ad-quem, Luke 3. 21, 22. Joh. 1. 32. Neither let any man alledge, that as much is spoken of God, Exod. 3. and chap. 20. and Gen. 18. For if you compare Acts 7. 30, 35, 38, 53. Gal. 3. 19. Heb. 2. 2, 3. and chap. 13. 2. with the foresaid places, you shall find, that it was not God himself that came down, but only an Angel, sustaining the Person and Name of God; which hath no place in the history touching the descent of the holy Spirit.

Argument 9:

He that prayeth unto Christ, to come to judgement, is not God.

The Holy Spirit doth so:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is granted. The Minor is evident from Revel. 22. 17. compared with the 12 verse. “The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.”… He who testifies to these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”” (NASB). Neither let any man think to elude this proof, by saying, that the Spirit is here said to pray, only because he makes the Bride to pray: for when the Scripture would signify the assistance of the Holy Spirit in causing men to speak, it is wont to affirm, either that the Holy Spirit speaks in them, as Matth. 10. 20. or that they spake by the Holy Spirit, as Rom. 8. 15. We have received the Spirit of adoption, by whom we cry, Abba, Father. But here it is expressly said, that the Spirit and the Bride say, Come; not the Spirit in the Bride, nor the Bride by the Spirit.

Argument 10:

He in whom men have not believed, and yet have been disciples and believers, is not God.

Men have not believed in the Holy Spirit, and yet have been so:

Therefore the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is plain: for how can they be disciples and believers, according to the phrase of Scripture, and not believe in him that is God? The Minor premise is proved thus:

Men have not so much as heard whether there were an Holy Spirit, and yet have been disciples and believers:

Therefore, They have not believed in the holy Spirit, and yet have been disciples and believers.

The Antecedent is apparent from Acts 19. 2. “He said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” And they said to him, “No, we have not even heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.”” (NASB) The Consequence is grounded on that of the Apostle, Rom. 10. 14. [How shall they believe in him, of whom they have not heard?] Now if any man, to decline the dint of this Argument, shall say, that by Holy Spirit in these words is meant not the Person, but the Gifts of the Holy Spirit; He, besides that he perverts the plain and genuine meaning of the words, and speaks without example; doth also evacuate the emphasis of the Particles 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, which imply that these disciples were so far from having received the gifts of the holy Spirit, whereof we may, without prejudice to our cause, grant that the question made mention, that they had not so much as heard whether there were an Holy Spirit or not. Again, that the Holy Spirit is not God, doth further appear by this very instance, since the Apostle, when there was so ample an occasion offered to declare it, (if it had been so) doth quite decline it: for it is incredible that he, who was so intent and vigilant in propagating the Truth, as that casually seeing an Altar at Athens inscribed To the unknown God, he presently took a hint from thence, to preach unto the Heathen the true God; yet here being told by disciples that they had not so much as heard whether there were an Holy Spirit, or not, should not make use of the opportunity to discover unto them, and in them to us, the Deity of the holy Spirit, but suffer them to remain in ignorance touching a point of such consequence, that without the knowledge thereof, (if we believe many now-a-days) men cannot be saved. Certainly, the Apostle had a greater care both of the Truth of God, and the salvation of men, then to do so.

Argument 11:

He that hath an understanding distinct from that of God, is not God.

The Holy Spirit hath an understanding distinct from that of God:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is clear: for he that hath an understanding distinct from that of another, must needs likewise have a distinct individual essence, wherein that understanding may reside. The Minor is proved thus:

He that hears from God at the second hand, namely, by Christ Jesus, what he shall speak, hath an understanding distinct from that of God.

The Holy Spirit so hears from God:

Therefore the Holy Spirit has an understanding distinct from that of God.

The Minor premise is evident from Joh. 16. 13, 14, 15.

The Major is confirmed thus:

He that is taught of God, hath an understanding distinct from that of God.

He that heareth from God what he shall speak, is taught of God:

Therefore, he that hears from God has an understanding distinct from God.

The Minor is manifest from Joh. 8. where our Saviour Christ having said, in vers. 26. Whatsoever I have heard from him (the Father) these things I speak. In vers. 28. he expresseth the same sense thus: According as the Father hath taught me, these things I speak. The Major premise is of itself clear: for he that is taught, hath an unknowing understand∣ing, since none can be taught what he knows already; and he that teaches, hath a knowing understanding, otherwise he could not teach another something; but it implies a contradiction, that the same understanding should at the same time be both knowing & unknowing of the same thing. Besides, that the Holy Spirit hath an understanding distinct from that of God, is easily deducible from the words of the Apostle, 1 Cor. 2. 10. where he affirms, that the Spirit searches the depths of God, (as Rom. 8. 27. he intimates, that God searches the heart of the Spirit:) but to search the depths of any one, necessarily supposes one understanding in him that searches, and another understanding in him-whose depths are searched, as is evident not only by collation of other places of the Scripture, as 1 Pet. 1. 11. Rev. 2. 23. but even by common sense, dictating to every man so much, that none can without absurdity be said to search the depths of his own understanding. Whence the Apostle going about to illustrate what he had spoken of the Spirit of God, by a similitude drawn from the spirit of a man, doth not say, that the spirit of a man doth search, but know the things of a man, though his former words did seem to lead him thereunto.

Argument 12:

He that hath a will distinct in number from that of God, is not God.

The Holy Spirit hath a will distinct in number from that of God.

Therefore, the Holy Spirit is not God.

The Major premise is irrefragable. The Minor premise is asserted thus.

He that wills conformably to the will of God, hath a will distinct in number from that of God.

The Holy Spirit so willeth:

Therefore, the Holy Spirit has a will distinct in number from that of God.

The Major is plain: for conformity must be between two at least, else it will not be conformity, but Identity. The Minor is confirmed by Rom. 8. 26, 27. “In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; 27 and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” (NASB) Neither let any man here reply, that there is no mention made in the Greek either of the will of the Spirit, or of the will of God: For first, the word intercede, which signifies to make suit for something, implies both the will of him that makes the suit, for if he did not will the thing, he would not make suit for it; and also the will of him to whom the suit is made, for were he not endued with a will, it would be bootless to make suit unto him, all suits whatsoever being made to bend the will of him to whom they are made: so that this, without any more, sufficiently sheweth that the Holy Spirit hath a will distinct in number from that of God; since the one sueth, the other is sued to at the same time, and for the same thing. Secondly, the word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, in English rendered Mind, doth here signify the same with Will or Desire, as appeareth from the 6. and 7. verses of this Chapter, and also from the verb 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, whence it is derived, which signifies to Affect, Will, Desire, Pursue: see verse 5. of the same chapter, and Col. 3. 2. Thirdly, though the Greek hath 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to God, yet is this, in the judgement of the English Translators themselves, the same as if it had been said, 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉, according to the will of God; neither can any other commodious interpretation be put upon the words.

But this passage of the Apostle, doth further afford us a second and third impregnable Argument of the Holy Spirit’s being inferiour to God. For first, he is here said to make intercession for us (as we before urged his praying to Christ, Argument 9.) and that with grones unutterable; which is not so to be understood, as if the Holy Spirit were here said to help our infirmities, only by suggesting petitions and groans unto us (as is commonly, but falsely affirmed) for the very words of the context sufficiently exclude such a gloss; since they say, that the Spirit himself, not we by the Spirit, (as we have it in the 15. verse of the same chapter) makes intercession for us: yea, vicarious intercession, as the Greek word 〈 in non-Latin alphabet 〉 signifies: But to help others infirmities, by making intercession; and, what is more, vicarious intercession for them, is not to instil petitions into them, but to pour out petitions apart in their behalf; as is apparent both from the thing is self; since none can intercede for himself, all intercession (at least such as is here spoken of) requiring the entermise of a third person; and by the Collation of verse 34. of the same Chapter, and 1 Tim. 2. 1. Heb. 7. 25. Neither let any man think to baffle off this place, (which is written with a beam of the Sun, and hath together with that, Joh. 16. 13, 14. quite nonplussed, not only Modern Authors, but the Fathers themselves,) by saying, that this is improperly spoken of the Holy Spirit: for, besides that he hath no other ground to say so, but his own preconceived opinion touching the Deity of the Holy Spirit, he ought to know that the Scripture, though it speaks some things of God in a figure, and improperly, yet doth it nowhere say any thing that argues his inferiority to, and dependance on another. But this passage of the Apostle plainly intimates, that the Holy Spirit is inferiour to God, and dependent on him; otherwise what need had he to make intercession to God, and that with groans unutterable, for the Saints? Secondly, the Holy Spirit is here distinguished from him that searcheth the hearts; and this description is made use of to put a difference between God and the Holy Spirit: but how could this be done, were the holy Spirit also a searcher of the hearts? For can a description that is common, yea alike common to two (for so the Adversaries hold concerning God, and the Holy Spirit) be set to distinguish the one from the other? For instance; to prepare the Passover for Christ, is an action common to Peter with John, for they two were sent by Christ to that purpose, and did accordingly perform it; see Luke 22. 8, 13. wherefore can a description taken from this action, be fit to difference Peter from John? and is it suitable to say, He that prepared the Passover for Christ, was a greater Apostle then John? would not this plainly argue, that John did not prepare the Passover for Christ? So that it is apparent, that the Holy Spirit is not a searcher of the hearts. If therefore it would not follow that the Holy Spirit is God, although it had been said in the Scripture, that he searcheth the hearts, unless he had such a faculty originally, and of himself (for nothing hinders but that God may confer it upon others, as we see by the Scripture, that he hath de facto conferred it on Christ, having given him all judgement, and that because he is the Son of man, John 5. 22, 27. for such judgement requires that he be a searcher of the hearts) If, I say, it would not even then follow that he is God; how clearly, how irrefragably doth it on the contrary follow, that he is not God, but hath an understanding distinct from, and inferiour to that of God; inasmuch as he is destitute of such a perfection, as the searching of the hearts, which is inseparable from the divine majesty? These two considerations have I added at the close of my twelfth Argument; because they are not so much new Arguments, as props and further confirmations of the ninth and eleventh Arguments.

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