Samuel Clarke’s 55 Theses

(From Clarke’s Scripture Doctrine of the Trinity)

1. There is one Supreme Cause and Original of Things; One simple, uncompounded, undivided, intelligent Being, or Person; who is the Author of all Being, and the Fountain of all Power.

2. With This First and Supreme Cause or Father of all Things, there has existed from the Beginning, a Second divine Person, which is his Word or Son.

3. With the Father and the Son, there has existed from the Beginning, a Third divine Person, which is the Spirit of the Father and of the Son.

4. What the proper Metaphysical Nature, Essence, or Substance of any of these divine Persons is, the scripture has no where at all declared; but describes and distinguishes them always, by their Personal Characters, Offices, Powers and Attributes.

5. The Father (or First Person) Alone is Self-existent, Underived, Unoriginated, Independent; made of None, begotten of None, Proceeding from None.

6. The Father (or First Person) is the Sole Origin of all Power and Authority, and is the Author and Principle of whatsoever is done by the Son or by the Spirit.

7. The Father (or first person) Alone, is in the highest, strict, and proper sense, absolutely Supreme over All.

8. The Father (or First Person) is absolutely speaking, the God of the Universe; the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; the God of Israel; of Moses, of the Prophets and Apostles; and the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

9. The scripture, when it mentions the One God, or the Only God, always means the Supreme Person of the Father.

10. Whenever the Word, God, is mentioned in Scripture, with any High Epithet, Title, or Attribute annex’d to it; it generally (if not always) means the Person of the Father.

11. The Scripture, when it mentions GOD, absolutely and by way of Eminence, always means the Person of the Father.

12. The Son (or second Person) is not self-existent, but derives his Being or Essence, and all his Attributes, from the Father, as from the Supreme Cause.

13. In what particular Metaphysical Manner, the Son derives his Being or Essence from the Father, the Scripture has no where distinctly declared; and therefore men ought not to presume to be able to define.

14. They are therefore equally worthy of Censure, who either on the one hand presume to affirm, that the Son was made out of Nothing; or, on the other hand, that He is the Self-existent Substance.

15. The Scripture, in declaring the Son’s Derivation from the Father, never makes mention of any Limitation of Time; but always supposes and affirms him to have existed with the Father from the Beginning, and before All Worlds.

16. They therefore have also justly been censured, who pretending to be wise above what is written, and intruding into things which they have not seen; have presumed to affirm that there was a time when he Son was not.

17. The Son (according to the Reasoning of the Primitive Writers) derives his Being from the Father, (whatsoever the particular Manner of that Derivation be,) not by mere Necessity of Nature; (which would in reality be Self-existence, not Filiation;) but by an Act of the Father’s incomprehensible Power and Will.

18. The Word or Son of the Father, sent into the World to assume our Flesh, and die for the Sins of Mankind; was not the internal Reason or Wisdom of God, an Attribute or Power of the Father; but a real Person, the same who from the Beginning had been the Word, or Revealer of the Will, of the Father to World.

19. The Holy Spirit (or Third Person,) is not Self-existent, but derives his Being or Essence from the Father, (by the Son,) as from the Supreme Cause.

20. The Scripture, speaking of the Spirit of God, never mentions any Limitation of Time, when he derived his Being or Essence from the Father; but supposes him to have existed with the Father from the Beginning.

21. In what particular metaphysical Manner the Holy Spirit derives his Being from the Father, the Scripture hath no where at all defined, and therefore men ought not to presume to be able to explain.

22. The Holy Spirit of God does not in scripture generally signify a mere Power or Operation of the Father, but a real Person.

23. They who are not careful to maintain these personal characters and distinctions, but while they are solicitous (on the one hand) to avoid the errours of the Arians, affirm (in the contrary extreme) the Son and Holy Spirit to be (individually with the Father) the Self-existent Being: These, seeming in the Words to magnify the Name of the Son and Holy Spirit, in reality take away their very Existence; and so fall unawares into Sabellianism, (which is the same with Socinianism.)

24. The Word, God, in the New Testament, sometimes signifies the Person of the Son.

25. The Reason why the Son in the New Testament is sometimes stiled God, is not upon account of his metaphysical Substance, how Divine soever; but of his relative Attributes and Divine Authority (communicated to him from the Father) over Us.

26. By the Operation of the Son, the Father both made and governs the World.

27. To the Son are ascribed in Scripture Other the Greatest Things and the Highest Titles; even all Communicable Divine Powers; That is, All Powers which include not That Independency and Supreme Authority, by which the God and Father of All is distinguished to be the God and Father of All.

28. The Holy Spirit is described in the New Testament as the immediate Author and Worker of All Miracles, even of those done by our Lord himself; and as the Conductor of Christ in all the Actions of his Life, during his State of Humiliation here upon Earth.

29. The Holy Spirit is declared in Scripture to be the Inspirer of the Prophets and Apostles, and the Great Teacher and Director of the Apostles in the whole Work of their Ministry.

30. The Holy Spirit is represented in the New Testament, as the Sanctifier of all Hearts, and the Supporter and Comforter of good Christians under all their Difficulties.

31. Concerning the Holy Spirit, there are other Greater Things spoken in Scripture, and Higher Titles ascribed to him, than to any Angel, or any other created Being whatsoever.

32. The Word, God, in Scripture, no where signifies the Person of the Holy Ghost.

33. The Word, God, in Scripture, never signifies a complex Notion of more persons than One; but always means One person only, viz. either the person of the Father singly, or the person of the Son singly.

34. The Son, whatever his metaphysical Essence or Substance be, and whatever divine Greatness and Dignity is ascribed to him in Scripture; yet in This He is evidently Subordinate to the Father, that He derives his Being and Attributes from the Father, the Father Nothing from Him.

35. Every Action of the Son, both in making the World, and in all other his Operations; is only thr Exercise of the Father’s Power, communicated to him after an ineffable manner.

36. The Son, whatever his metaphysical Nature or Essence be; yet, in this while Dispensation, in the Creation and Redemption of the Worl, acts in all things according to the Wil, and by the Mission or Authority of the Father.

37. The Son, how great soever the metaphysical Dignity of his Nature was, yet in the whole Dispensation entirely directed all his Actions to the Glory of the Father.

39. The reason why the Scripture, though it styles the Father God, and also stiles the Son God, yet at the same time always declares there is but one God; is because in the Monarchy of the Universe, there is but One Authority, original in the Father, derivative in the Son: The Power of the Son being, not Another Power opposite to That of the Father, nor Another Power co-ordinate to That of the Father; but it self The Power and Authority of the Father, communicated to, manifested in, and exercised by the Son.

40. The Holy Spirit, whatever his metaphysical Nature, Essence, or Substance be; and whatever divine Power or Dignity is ascribed to him in Scripture; yet in this he is evidently subordinate to the Father; that He derives his Being and Powers from the Father, the Father nothing from Him.

41. The Holy Spirit, whatever his metaphysical Nature, Essence, or Substance be; and whatever divine Power or Dignity is ascribed to him in Scripture; yet in the whole Dispensation of the Gospel, always acts by the Will of the Father, is given and sent by him, intercedes to him, &c.

42. The Holy Spirit, as he is subordinate to the Father; so he is also in Scripture represented as subordinate to the Son, both by Nature and by the Will of the Father; excepting only that he is described as being the Conductor and Guide of our Lord, during his State of Humiliation here upon Earth. ibid.

43. Upon These Grounds, absolutely Supreme Honour is due to the Person of the Father singly, as being Alone the Supreme Author of all Being and Power.

44. For the same Reason, all Prayers and Praises ought primarily or ultimately to be directed to the Person of the Father, as the Original and Primary Author of all Good.

45. And upon the same account, whatever Honour is paid to the Son who redeemed, or to the Holy Spirit who sanctifies us, must always be understood as tending finally to the Honour and Glory of the Father, by whose good Pleasure the Son redeemed, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies us.

46. For the great Oeconomy, or the Whole Dispensation of God towards Mankind in Christ, consists and terminates in this; that as all Authority and Power is originally in the Father, and from him derived to the Son, and exercised according to the Will of the Father by the Operation of the Son, and by the Energy of the Holy Spirit; and all Communications from God to the Creature, are conveyed through the Intercession of the Son, and by the Inspiration and Sanctification of the Holy Spirit: So on the contrary, All Returns from the Creature, of Prayers and Praises, of Reconciliation and Obedience, of Honour and Duty to God; are made in and by the Guidance and Assistance of the Holy Spirit, through the Mediation of the Son, to the Supreme Father and Author of all things.

47. The Son, before his Incarnation, was with God, was in the Form of God, and had Glory with the Father.

48. Yet He had not then distinct Worship paid to him in his Own Person, but appeared only as the [Shecinah or] Habitation of the Glory of the Father: in which the Name of God was.

49. At his Incarnation he freely diverted himself of that Glory, which he had with God before the World was, and by virtue of which He is described as having been in the Form of God: And in this State of Humiliation he suffered and died for the Sins of the World.

50. After, and upon account of, the Accomplishment of which Dispensation, He is described in Scripture as invested with distinct Worship in his Own Person; his original Glory and Dignity being at the same time revealed, and his Exaltation in the Human Nature to his Mediatorial Kingdom declared: Himself sitting upon his Father’s Throne, at the Right Hand of the Majesty of God; and receiving the Adoration and Thanksgivings of his Church, as the alone Mediator between God and men.

51. This Honour the Scripture directs to be paid to Christ; not so much upon account of his metaphysical Essence or Substance, and abstract Attributes; as of his Actions and Attributes relative to Us; his Condescension in becoming Man, who was the Son of God; Redeeming, and Interceding for, us; his Authority, Power, Dominion, and Sitting upon the Throne of God his Father, as our Law-giver, our King, our Judge, and our God.

52. The Honour paid in this manner to the Son, must (as before) always be understood as redounding ultimately to the Glory of God the Father.

53. The Honour which Christians are bound to pay peculiarly to the Person of the Holy Spirit, is expressed in the Texts following; &c.

54. For putting up Prayers and Doxologies directly and expressly to the Person if the Holy Spirit, it must be acknowledged there is no clear Precept or Example in Scripture.

55. The Titles given in the New Testament to the Three Persons of the ever-blessed Trinity, when all mentioned together, are, &c.