THE BRACKEN ASSOCIATION
Circular Letter, 1803
To the Churches of which we are composed.
[fs are changed to ss for easier reading.]
SINCE our last annual meeting, it appears that some doubts have arisen in the minds of some Brethren of a sister association, concerning the doctrine of the Trinity - the Divinity of Christ - his Equality with the Father - the Personality, and Deity of the Holy Ghost, which doubts have been propagated, to the overthrowing the faith of some, and the grief of many others. It seemed good unto us, being assembled for the interest of Zion, to lay before you a short Scriptural defence of these solemn truths, for the confirmation of your faith, and the comfort of your souls.
And First, of the Holy Trinity.
There are three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one - Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost - The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God and the communion of the Holy Ghost - And God said let us make man in our image, after our likeness - The man is become as one of us - Let us go down and confound their language. 1 John, v. 7. Matthew xxviii. 19. 2 Corinthians xiii. 14. Genesis i. 26. xi. 7. iii. 22.
Secondly, of the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ, and his Equality with the Divine Father.
Unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be up on his shoulders, and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace - I am Alpha, and Omega, the begining and the ending faith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty Jesus Christ, the fame yesterday and to day and forever - All men should honor the Son, even as they honor the Father - Let all the Angels of God worship him - for, unto the Son he saith, thy throne O God, is forever and ever, a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of thy kingdom - Thou O Lord in the beginning hath laid the foundation of the earth, and the Heavens are the works of thine hands - Christ who is over all, God blessed forever - In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and, the word was God - All things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are in the earth, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities, or powers - all things were created, by him, and for him, and he is before all things, and by him all things consist - I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple - And one cried unto another and said, Holy, Holy, Holy Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of his glory - Then said I, woe is me, for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts - These things said, Esaias, when he saw his glory and spake of him -Thomas saith unto him, my Lord and my God - Feed the church of God which he hath purchased with his own blood. Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us - Jesus Christ, this is the true God and eternal life - The great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ - The Lord of glory ---, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords --- In the form of God --- Equal with God --- To whom every knee shall bow and every tongue confess. Isaiah ix. 6. Revelation i. 8. Hebrews i. 6. viii. 11, xiii. 8. John, i. 1. iii. 5. Colossians i. 14, 17. Isaiah, vi. 1, 5. John, xii. 41. xx. 23. Acts xx. 28. 1 John, iii. 16. v. 20. Titus, ii. 13. 1 Corinthians ii. 8. Philippians, ii. 6.
Thirdly, Of the Deity and personality of the Holy Ghost.
I will pray the Father, says our blessed Redeemer, and he will send you another comforter, even the Spirit of Truth which proceedeth from the Father --- And when he is come, he will reprove the world of sin, of righteousness and of judgment --- The Holy Ghost said, seperate [sic] me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called them --- And they being sent by the Holy Ghost, departed --- Pau! and Timotheus were forbidden of the Holy Ghost to preach the word in Asia ---Take heed to yourselves, and to all the flock over which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers. --- Why hath satan filled thy heart, to lye unto the Holy Ghost? thou hast not lyed unto man, but unto God --- Your bodies are the temples of the Holy Ghost --- The temple of God is holy, which temple ye are. John, xiv. 16, 26. Xv. 2. xvi. 8. Acts, xiii. 2, 3. xvi. 6. xx. 28. iii. 4. I Corinthians vi. 19. iii. 16.
Note 1. We have said nothing of the Deity and personality of the Father as [blur] seems to have called them in question.
2. Our limits did not admit of any comment on the above Scriptures; we therefore recommend to you, to turn to the places, and read them at large in their full connection; which will prove (if rightly done) both pleasing and profitable.
3. We do not say there are three Gods in one God, or three persons in one person; but that there are three persons in the God-head.
4. By person, we understand one who is capabIe of acting, proposing, commanding, for-bidding, &c. in a manner distinct from any other person. And so it is with each of the persons in the ever blessed Trinity.
5. Our own existence and many wonders in nature, we see and know to be true; which yet we cannot explain. So the truth of this doctrine is plain from Scripture, right reason and the experience of christians, yet not to be explained by finite powers.
6. As, the Christian Religion stands or falls with the doctrine of the Trinity; so the doctrine of the Trinity depends entirely oil the Divinity of Christ. And the Christian Religion with all its glorious train of excellencies, must fall to the ground, if Jesus Christ is not God, equal with the Divine Father. For this cause we have been more full in our proof of this article. And indeed the Scriptures themselves equally abound in proof of this, with all other points of doctrine which they inculcate.
7. The great foundation article of our faith, "that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God," so often found in the New Testament, always implies his Diety – So the Jews understood it. John viii. 38, 39. X. 33, 35. Nor did our Lord contradict this meaning of his words, which he would certainly have done, were it not according to truth.
8. Anti-trinitarians are involved in absurdity, when they acknowledge the Lord Jesus to be holy and righteous, yet deny his Divinity, whilst he himself, openly and uniformly asserts his own God-head and his equality with the Divine Father. He received that worship and homage which is due to God alone; which he never would have done, were he not as the Scriptures abundantly testify him to be --- "The great God," as well as "our Saviour."
9. But your own experience (dear brethren) of the pollution of human nature; the enmity of the carnal mind; deceitfulness of the heart, and our ruinous condition in the fall by which we are totally indisposed to do good, will abundantly testify with the above Scriptures in favour of this glorious truth. Who but the Lord, whose name is Jehovah, could first procure and then everlastingly secure your eternal salvation, against the combined efforts of sin and satan? None but Jesus Christ the true God and eternal life.
10. But to deny this truth, would be, 1. to give the lie to God himself, who so frequently affects it in his holy oracles. 2. It would be laying the axe to all revelation, and renouncing the Bible at once. 3. It would argue a wretched ignorance of our state by nature - Our [blur] of the atonement, and. our ruin without it.
11. But dear brethren! if he were only God, and not Man also, We should be still without hope. But he is God and Man - Emanuel - God with us. This, this indeed is the great mystery of godliness, 1 Timothy iii. 16. As man he was grieved – wept – hungered - agonized – groaned – and –died -- "when he made his soul an offering for sin." But as God he is "the same to day, yesterday and forever, in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning." But as his humanity is not disputed among us, and as our letter is already larger than we wished, we will now come to a close.
May we all be taught of the Lord, so that our views of him may be according to truth. And that we may be always found amongst the followers of Jesus, the Lamb of God, the true Messiah, the Lord God Almighty.
JAMES TURNER, Moderator.
WILLIAM BYRAM, Clerk.
[From Bracken Baptist Association Minutes, 1803, pp. 3-4; via SBTS Archives digital documents. Scanned and formatted by Jim Duvall.]
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