Of God and the Trinity

by Henry Bullinger

Of God; of the true knowledge of God, and of the diverse ways how to know him; that God is one in substance, and three in persons.

I HAVE up to here, in thirty-two sermons, discoursed upon the word of God, and the lawful exposition of it; upon Christian faith, the love of God and our neighbour. I have also spoken of the law of nature, of man's law, and God's law, and of the parts of God's law, namely, the moral, the ceremonial, and the judicial laws; of the use of the law, and of the fulfilling and abrogation of it; of the likeness and difference between the two testaments and people, the old and the new; of Christian liberty; of offences; of the effect and merits of good works; of sin, and the various sorts of it: and also of the grace of God, or the gospel of Jesus Christ, in whom our heavenly Father has given us all things belonging to life and eternal salvation. Finally, I have treated repentance, and of the things that especially seem to belong to it. Our purpose is to argue discreetly upon the principal points of Christian religion.

And in the premises, we have often heard mention of God, of the knowledge and worship of God, of Jesus Christ, of the Holy Ghost, of good and evil spirits, of the church, of prayer, of the sacraments, and similar holy things. Since we have now come to an end of those former points, necessity itself requires that we now say something here about all and every one of these latter principles according to the holy scripture, so far as the Lord gives me grace and the ability to do that.


Concerning God, there were many erroneous opinions of old, not only among the ruder sort of people, but even in the whole pack of philosophers, and the conventicles of false Christians. Touching philosophers, that ancient and learned writer, Tertullian, was prone to say that philosophers are the patriarchs of heretics.[2085] and touching false Christians, the apostle John said, "They went out from us, but they were not of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us." 1Joh 2.19 Nor do I see what gain you would get by it, if I were to proceed to reckon up for you all their opinions. It is good, perhaps, to know in what they erred, lest we also strike upon the same rock that they did. Therefore, if any that have a desire for it, wish to see the opinions of the heathens and heretics concerning God, let them search Plutarch in his Placitis Philoso. lib. i. chap. 7, or in other heathen writers; or in Cyril's first book Contra Julianum; and in the 4th chapter of Dogmatum vel definitionum Ecclesiast.[2086] I will not at this time trouble the attentive ears and minds of the godly hearers with that burden. That diversity of opinions is derived from no other fountain than from the boldness and unskilfulness of men who are not ashamed, out of their own device and brain, to add and apply to God the things from which he is furthest and free.

And now, that I may not stay long here in declaring the narrow straitness and misty darkness of man's wit, I ask you, Who is able with his understanding, to conceive the being of God, when indeed no man ever fully understood what fashion the soul of man is, of what sort many other things are that are in man's body, and what manner of substance the sun and moon are made of? There are many reasons given by natural philosophy; but the work of God still abides greater and more wonderful than the wit or speech of man is able to comprehend or express.


Therefore, let no man who goes about to know any certainty about God, descend into himself to search Him out with thoughts of his own;[2087] nor let him ground his opinion on men's determinations and weak definitions. For otherwise he will always worship the invention of his own heart, mere folly, trifles, and foolish fantasies. But on the other side again, the man cannot help but think rightly, judge truly, and speak well of God, who attributes nothing to himself, devises nothing by his own brain, nor follows the toys of other men's inventing; but in all things, he gives ear to the word of God, and always follows His holy revelation. Therefore, let this stand as if it were for a continual rule: that God cannot be rightly known except by his word; and God is to be received and believed to be such a one as he reveals himself to us in his holy word. For truly, no creature can better tell what, and what kind of one God is, than God himself.

Now, since this God in his word, by the workmanship of the world, by the holy scriptures, and by his oracles, uttered by the mouth of the patriarchs, prophets, and apostles — indeed, and the very minds and consciences of men — testifies that He exists, the kingly prophet David therefore says: "The fool has said in his heart, There is no God." Psa 14.1 For he must be an ass or a fool, who denies the thing that is evident to all men in the world, who are not out of their wits, namely, that there is a God. Consider that even Cicero, a heathen author, in his book de Natura Deorum, says, "It is bred and born together with men, and grafted in their hearts, to think that there is a God." [2088] Truly, those who deny God, deny the one they nevertheless fear; and therefore, they confess by that fear that he exists, and by that means they convict themselves of lying and falsehood.

Again, this is to be noted: that in demanding who and what God is, even though that question is made and arises by beating out and discussing the scriptures, yet a measure is to be kept, and in any case observed.


To go about over-curiously inquiring after, searching out, and seeking the very eternal being of God, is both perilous and also flatly forbidden. Solomon cries, "As it is not good to eat much honey; so an over-curious [2089] searcher of God's majesty shall be confounded by His glory." [2090] Before that singular and notable communication, in which our God talked with the whole people of Israel at mount Sinai, it is said to Moses: "Set bounds for the people round about the mountain, and say to them, Take heed to yourselves that you do not go up into the mount, or touch the border of it. Whoever touches the mount, let him die the death," etc. Exo 19.12 Look here, it was quick death to pass the limits or bounds prescribed. Therefore our studies are and ought to be definite, not infinite.[2091] Truly, we read in many places of the holy scriptures that the most entire and excellent friends of God stood amazed and trembling, whenever God in any outward show of his own accord, offered himself to their eyes. I need not busy myself too much in reckoning up examples. You know how Abraham behaved himself in the talk which he had with God, in Genesis 18. You know what the parents of Gideon said in the book of Judges;[2092] and what Elijah spoke, in 1Kings 19. Peter, after the miraculous taking of the great draught of fishes, understood that Christ was more than a man. He cried out, saying: "Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man." Therefore, if this is so in any other matters belonging to God, then especially in this, the saints are to be humble, modest, and religious — understanding that His eternal and incomprehensible power and unspeakable majesty are altogether uncircumscriptible,[2093] and cannot be comprehended in any name whatsoever.

Tertullian, in his book De Trinitate, says very eloquently, truly, and godly:

"The proper name of God cannot be uttered, because it cannot be conceived. For what is called by a name, is conceived by the condition of its own nature.


For a name is the significant noting of that thing which may be conceived by the name. But when the thing which is handled is of such a sort that it cannot be rightly conceived by our very senses and understanding, then how will it be rightly named by an apt term and fit nomination? While it is beyond understanding, it must also be above the significance of the term by which it is named. So that when God, for certain causes or occasions, annexes or declares His name to us in words, we may think and know that the actual property of the name is not expressed so much in words, as a certain significance is set down by it. Men may run to this name while in prayers, that they may be able to call upon God and obtain His mercy." [2094]

And again he says:

"Concerning God and those things that are of him and in him, the mind of man is not able to conceive what they are, how great they are, or of what fashion they are; nor does the eloquence of man's mouth utter in speech, words that in any point correlate to this majesty. As to thinking upon and uttering his majesty, all eloquence is mute and dumb, and the whole mind is too little, for it is greater than the mind; nor can it be conceived how great it is.  This is because, if it could be conceived, then it must be less than man's mind in which it may be comprehended. It is also greater than all speech and cannot be spoken; because if it may be spoken, then it is less than man's speech by which, if it is spoken, it may be compassed and made to be understood. But whatever may be thought of Him, will still be less than he is. And whatever is shown of Him in speech, compared with Him, will be much less than He is.


For in silence, to ourselves, we may partly perceive him. But to express him in words, as He is, is altogether impossible. For if you call him Light, then you name a creature of his rather than him, but him you do not express. Or if you call him Virtue, then you name his power rather than him, but him you do not declare. Or if you call him Majesty, then you name his honour rather than him, but him you do not describe. And why should I prolong the time, in running through every individual title? I will declare it all at once. Say everything you can about Him, whatever it is, and you still name some thing of his, rather than himself. For what can you fitly say or think of him, that is greater than all your words and senses? Unless it is in this one way: that as we can, and as our capacity will serve, and as our understanding will let us — we will conceive in our mind what God is, only if we think that he is that which cannot be understood, nor can possibly come into our thoughts, whatever kind of thing, and however great. For just as our eyes so dazzle and dim at seeing the brightness of the sun, that our sight cannot behold the very circle of it because it is overcome by the brightness of the beams that are opposed against it — even so, it fares with the sight of our mind in all our thoughts of God; and however much more she settles herself to consider God, by that much more she is blinded in the light of her cogitation. For (to repeat the same thing again) what can you fitly think about Him that is above all loftiness, higher than all height, deeper than all depth, lighter than all light, clearer than all clearness, brighter than all brightness, stronger than all strength, more virtuous than all virtue, fairer than all fairness, truer than all truth, greater than all greatness, mightier than all might, richer than all riches, wiser than all wisdom, more liberal than all liberality, better than all goodness, juster than all justice, and gentler than all gentleness? For all kinds of virtues must be less than He that is the Father and God of all virtues: so that God may truly be said to be such a being that nothing may be compared to Him. For he is above all that may be spoken." [2095]

Up to here I have cited the words of Tertullian.


Now, although these things are so, and no tongue either of angels or of men can fully express what, who, and of what manner God is, seeing that his majesty is incomprehensible and unspeakable; yet the scripture, which is the word of God, tempering itself to our imbecility, ministers to us some means, forms, and phrases of speech, to bring us by them to some such knowledge of God as may at least suffice us while we live in this world.


Yet notwithstanding, we should still think that the thing which is incomprehensible cannot be defined, but that by those phrases only an occasion is given by which we are brought to greater things through the illumination of the Spirit; and in this disputation we should still have before the eyes of our mind, that true and assured sentence of the eternal God to his servant Moses, saying: "You can not see my face; for no man shall see me and live." Exo 33.20 For once we have departed out of this life, and are unburdened of this mortality and mortal frailty, then we shall see the majesty of God; for the apostle St. John said: "We know that when he appears, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is." 1Joh 3.2 And let us annex to these, the words of the apostle Paul, where he says: "Now we see in a glass, even in a dark riddle;[2096] but then we shall see face to face." 1Cor 13.12 Therefore, let no man go beyond the limited bounds, or prevent the time appointed, nor yet presume by wicked boldness and curiosity in this life to behold the face, that is, the very essence or being of God. Let that revelation of God suffice everyone whom God himself grants in his word to open to us: namely, so much as of his goodness he thinks necessary and profitable for us to know. And I here with warrant say this: that wisdom is the true wisdom, which will not in this matter go about to know or savour more than the eternal wisdom teaches us to know.

The first and chief way to know God is derived from the very names of God attributed to him in the holy scripture. Those names are many and of sundry sorts, because his virtue, his wisdom — by which I mean his goodness, justice, and power — are altogether infinite. I will reckon up and expound to you the most excellent and usual among the rest, according to my skill.

Among all the names of God, that is the most excellent which they call Tetragrammaton, that is (if we may so say), the four-lettered name: for it is compounded of the four spiritual letters, and is called Jehovah.


It is derived from the verb-substantive, Hovah, before which they put Jod and make it Jehovah, that is to say, Being, or I am; as he that is autousia (autousia), a being of himself, having his life and being not from any other, but of himself; lacking nobody's aid to make him be, but giving being to all manner of things — namely, eternal God, without beginning and ending, in whom we live, we move, and have our being. Act 17.28 To this, those words especially belong which we find had passed between God and Moses in the third chapter of Exodus:

"And Moses said to God, Behold, when I come to the children of Israel, to whom you now send me, and say to them, The God of your fathers has sent me to you; and they ask me, saying, What is his name? the what answer shall I make them? And God said to Moses, I am that I am; or, I will be that I will be: and he said, Thus shall you say to the children of Israel, I am, or Being, or I will be, has sent me to you." Exo 3.13-14

That is, I am God that will be, and he has sent me who is himself Being, or Essence, and God everlasting. For their future tense contains three sundry times, He that is, He that was, and He that will be, has sent me. Truly, in his Revelation, the evangelist and apostle John seems to have had an eye to these words of the Lord, which he also went about interpreting, saying in the person of God: "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, RSV's, or the first and the last, says the almighty Lord, which is, and which was, and which shall be."

There are some who observe this for a note, that in almost all tongues, even the barbarous sort, the name of God is written with four letters. Concerning his name in Hebrew it is assuredly so; and in the Greek, Latin, and German tongues it is also true. For God in Greek is called Qeov (Theos); in Latin Deus; and with us Germans he is called Gott. They add, moreover, that the Persians call him Surh (Surh), and the Egyptians Qwuq or Qeuq (Thuth or Theuth), and by contraction, Qwq (Thuuth). And in the four letters, the Cabalists say that there are wonderful mysteries contained. As others have written very diligently about this, I would rather not stand on them here, nor trouble your patience with them.


Also like this are these names of God: Jah (or Yah), and Hu. The first is found in the Psalms more than once: for David says, "Hallelu-Jah" that is, "Praise you the Lord." The latter is also mentioned by David, saying, Hu, that is "he," I say, God, the Being and creator of all things, "spoke the word and it was done; Hu, he commanded and it was." In Isaiah the Lord says: "I am the Lord, Hu is my name, and I will give my glory to no other." Now, those words also are derived from being, and they teach us that God is always like himself, an essence which of itself is eternally, and which gives being to all things that are — as He by whom, in whom, and to whom all things are, being himself a perpetual and most absolute or perfect havingness.[2097] But the Hebrews do not read or express the four-lettered name of God by calling it Jehovah; instead they use the word Adonai. For they say that Jehovah must not be uttered. Now, all interpreters in their translations, where they turn it into Latin, call it Dominus, that is, Lord: for God is the Lord of all things, both visible and invisible. Nor is there any other Lord in the whole world, except this one (and he alone), to whom all things in the world are subject, and obey. For he has a most complete dominion and absolute monarchy over all his creatures. And therefore, for plainness' sake, the word Sabbaoth is sometimes annexed to the name of God;[2098] which some translate "the Lord of powers," and some "the Lord of hosts." For God, being almighty, displays by his power or strength, and declares in his host, what mighty things he is able to do, and how great a power and might he has. For since he is the God of all creatures, and he disposes and uses them as a captain uses his soldiers, to work mighty and marvellous things, he declares even by small things [2099] how great he himself is, and how great his power is. In the host of God are all the angels, of whom Daniel said, "A thousand thousands and hundreds of thousands ministered to him." One of these angels killed in the Assyrians' camp in one night, one hundred eighty-five thousand soldiers under the banner of the most powerful king Sennacherib.


In the host of God are all the winds, all the stars, and all the fiery, airy, and watery impressions. In the host of God are all evil spirits, all men, kings and princes, all the warlike furnishings of every nation, and finally, all creatures, both visible and invisible. And all these He uses according to his own pleasure, yes, according to his own good and just will, when, how much, and how long he wishes, to finish and bring to pass his own will and judgments. In punishing the first world at the deluge, he used water. In destroying Sodom and the cities thereabout, he used fire. And in rooting out the Canaanites and Jews, he used the means of mortal men, or soldiers.

Sometimes there is ascribed to the Lord the word Eleon, and the Lord is called Eleon, that is to say, high. For in the one hundred-thirteenth psalm we read: "The Lord is higher than all nations, and his glory is above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God, who sets himself so high in his habitation?" Psa 113.4-5 And in the ninety-seventh psalm he says: "You, Lord, are higher than all that are in the earth; you are exalted far above all gods." Psa 97.9

Again, God is called El, because of his strength. For what he wills, that he can do, and therefore is he called a strong God, or a giant. For Jeremiah says: "The Lord is with me as a strong giant." Jer 20.11 Isaiah says: "The Lord shall come forth like a giant, he shall stir himself up [2100] like a man of war, he shall roar and overcome his enemies." Isa 42.13 And like this is the word Eloah, whose plural number is Elohim. That name betokens the presence of God, which never fails his workmanship and worshippers. Jeremiah brings in God speaking, and says: "Am I God, that sees only the thing that is near at hand, and not the thing that is far off? [2101] May any man hide himself, so that I shall not see him, says the Lord? Do I not fill heaven and earth?" Jer 23.24


For before him, also David said: "Where shall I go from the breath of your mouth? And where shall I flee from your countenance? If I ascend into heaven, you are there: and if I descend into hell, you are there also. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there your hand shall rule me, and your right hand shall hold me fast." Psa 139.6-10 Therefore the apostle Paul says: "God is not far from every one of us. For by him we live, we move, and have our being." Act 17.28 And for that reasons perhaps, God was called Qeov (Theos), namely, apo Qeein (apo Theein) by the Greeks, because of his readiness and immediate succour; because he never fails mortal men, but always and in all places aids and relieves them. Likewise, Plato in Cratylo, and his interpreter Proclus, think that Qeov (God) is derived apo tou Qeein, that is, running. But that course, or running, does not refer to the presence or help of God, but to another thing.[2102] For when men saw the sun, moon, stars, and heaven itself, still turned around by running, they thought that they were gods. There are some who will derive it apo tou deouv (apo tou deous), that is to say, of fear or dread: for fear of religion believes and persuades men that there is a God. The Latins perhaps framed their Deus (God) from the Greeks' Qeov. But some rather think that Deus is derived a dando, of giving, because he gives all things to all men. For so among the Hebrews he is called Qeov (as I will shortly declare), or Shaddai, because he is sufficient to himself; he lacks nothing, but gives to all men all good and necessary things.[2103] Some others would have God called in Latin, Deus, quod ipsi nihil deest, that is, "God, because there is nothing lacking in him."

But now, the scripture attributes the plural number, Elohim, not to God alone, but also to angels, to judges, and to men in authority: because God is always present with them while they labour in that office which he has appointed them to. And by their ministry, He works the things which he himself wills, and which are expedient for the welfare of mortal men.


And although the word Elohim is plural in number, yet it is set before verbs in the singular number. In the first chapter of Genesis, we find, "In the beginning," Bara Elohim, Creavit Dii, "God created" (for Bara, created, is the singular number) heaven and earth. That phrase of speech shows to us the mystery of the reverend Trinity: for Moses seems to have said in effect, In the beginning, God in the Trinity created heaven and earth. In the seventh chapter of the second book of Samuel, verse 23, Elohim in the plural number is joined with verbs of the plural number, to declare that there is a difference of persons in the blessed Trinity.

Moreover, in the league which God makes with our father Abraham God gives himself another name. For he says: "I God am Shaddai" that is, sufficient, or sufficiency. Gen 17.1 Therefore, God is called Shaddai. Some in their translations turn it Vastator, a destroyer, as if God would name himself a just revenger. But Moses Egyptius [2104] says: "The noun Shaddai is compounded from the verb Daii (which signifies, he suffices) and the letter Shin, which has the same meaning that Ascher has, and signifies, he that. So that Shaddai is as the same as saying, "he that suffices to himself, and is the sufficiency or fulness of all things." Perhaps the heathen have on this occasion derived their Saturnus, which name they gave to those whom they wickedly took to be gods. For as Diurnus comes from Dies, a day; so Saturnus is derived a saturando, of satisfying or filling.[2105] Therefore, God is that One to whom nothing is lacking, who in all things and to all things is sufficient to himself; who needs no man's aid, yes, who alone has all things which pertain to the perfect felicity both of this life and of the world to come; and which he alone can fill and suffice all his people and other creatures. For this reason, the Germans call him Gott, as if to say Guot, good, or best;[2106] because, as He is full of all goodness, so he most liberally bestows upon men all manner of good things. The German word is not unlike the ancient name by which the Egyptians called God; for they called God Theuth, or Thoth: now if we put G for Th, then it is Goth, and we say, Gott.


The Lord himself, in the sixth chapter of Exodus, puts these two names together, Shaddai and Jehovah, as two of the most excellent names that he has, and says: "I am Jehovah. And I appeared to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, as God Shaddai: but in my name Jehovah I was not known to them;" Exo 6.3 — not that the patriarchs had not heard or known the name Jehovah. For that name began to be called upon in the time of Seth, immediately after the beginning of the world. Therefore, it seems that the Lord in effect meant this: "I opened myself to the patriarchs as God Shaddai, who is able in all things to sufficiently fill them with all goodness; and therefore I promised them a land that flows with milk and honey: but I was not yet known to them by my name Jehovah, that is, I did not perform unto them that which I promised." For we have heard already that he is called Jehovah, of that which he brings about; and therefore he brings his promise to performance. "Now therefore" (he says) "I will indeed fulfil my promise, and show myself to be, not only Deum Shaddai, an all-sufficient or almighty God, but also show myself to be Jehovah, an essence or eternal being, immutable, true, and in all things like myself, or standing to my promise." [2107]

Last of all, we read in the third chapter of Exodus, that God said to Moses: "Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, The Lord God of our fathers, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, has sent me to you. This is my name forever, and this is my memorial from one generation to another." Exo 3.15 So then, here we now have another name of God; for he would be called the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob. "This," he says, "shall be my memorial from one generation unto another; namely, that in which I will keep in memory my benefits bestowed upon those patriarchs, so that by them the posterity may know and remember me." For when we hear the names of those patriarchs, they put us in mind of all the excellent and innumerable benefits which God bestowed on our forefathers.


These are not in vain, and with such great diligence, particularly reckoned up by Moses in his first book called Genesis. For He will be our God, even as he was theirs, if we so believe in him as they did. For to us who believe, he will be both Shaddai and Jehovah, eternal and immutable truth, being, life, and heaped-up storehouse of all manner of good things.

And now, by the way, it is not without a mystery that, when he is also the God of other patriarchs, such as Adam, Seth, Enosh, and especially Enoch and Noah, yet out of the number of them, he picked those three: Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. And to every one of their names he severally prefixed his own name, saying: "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob." He evidently did this to teach the mystery of the Trinity in the unity of the divine substance, and that each one of the persons is of the same divinity, majesty and glory; that is, that the Father is very God, the Son is very God, and the Holy Ghost is very God; and these three are one God; for he says, "I am God," etc. I will speak of this in a convenient place.

This much up to here concerning the names of God, out of which a general knowledge of God may easily be gathered. I know that one Dionysius [2108] has made a busy commentary upon the names of God. But I know too, that the godly sort, and those who are studious of the apostles' doctrine, understand that the disciples of the apostles far more simply handled matters belonging to religion. I know that other take account of seventy-two names of God out of the scriptures and books of the Cabalists. As I have repeated these  in another place, [2109] so I will hereafter repeat to you the chief of them, out of Exodus.

Secondly, God is exhibited to be seen in the word of God, to be beheld, and to be known by visions and divine mirrors, as though in a certain parable; while he is set before our eyes by Prosopography, Prosopopoeia, or mortal shapes.


And yet we are warned not to stick on those visible things, but to lift up our minds from visible things, to invisible and spiritual things. For God is not bodily in his own substance, just because in visions he is exhibited to us in a bodily shape like a man. Nor did any of the old saints before the birth of Christ express God in the shape and picture of a mortal man, just because God had exhibited himself in that shape so as to be seen by the patriarchs and prophets. It is the doting [2110] error of the Anthropomorphites [2111] to say that God exists bodily, and that he has members like a mortal man. And so that no man in this case deceives himself by attributing falsely to God the thing that is against his honour, I will here, instead of a remedy against that poison, recite to you, dearly beloved, the words of St. Augustine. Out of the pure understanding of the holy scriptures, and assured testimonies of catholic true doctors, he wrote to Fortunatus — De Videndo Deo, against the Anthropomorphites:

"Concerning the members of God, which the scripture mentions in every place, know this: lest any man believe that, according to the fashion and figure of this flesh, we are like God, that same scripture also said that God has wings, which it is manifest that we men do not have. Therefore, just as when we hear wings named, we understand God's protection and defence; so when we hear of hands, we must understand his operation; when we hear mention made of feet, we must understand his present readiness; when we hear the name eyes, we must understand his sight, by which he sees and knows all things: and when we hear of his face, we must understand his justice, by which he is known to the whole world: and whatever else like this that the same scripture mentions, I believe truly that it must be understood spiritually. Nor do I alone, nor am I the first that thinks this; but even all those who with a basic understanding of the scriptures, withstand the opinion of those who, for that reason, are called Anthropomorphites.


I mean to allege here one testimony out of the writings of St. Jerome. I will not cite too much, so as not to cause too long a stay. For when that man, who was most excellently learned in the holy scriptures, expounded the Psalm, where it is said, "Understand, you unwise among the people; you fools, at length be wise. He that planted the ear, shall he not hear; or he that made the eye, shall he not see?" Psa 94.8-9 Jerome said among other things,

"This place most of all works against the Anthropomorphites, who say that God has members even as we have. For example, he is said to have eyes. 'The eyes of the Lord behold all things; the hand of the Lord makes all things.' And 'Adam heard the sound of the feet of the Lord walking in paradise.' They understand these places simply as the letter lies, and refer mortal weakness to the magnificent mightiness of the immortal God. But I say that God is all eye, all hand, and all foot. He is all eye, because he sees all things; all hand, because he works all things; all foot, because he is present everywhere. Therefore, mark what he says: 'He that planted the ear, shall he not hear? or he that made the eye, shall he not see?' He did not say, therefore He has no eyes. But he said, 'He that planted the ear, shall He not hear; or He that made the eye, shall He not see? He made the members, and gave them the efficient powers.'

And a little afterwards, St. Augustine says:

In all this which I have cited out of the saints and doctors, Ambrose, Jerome, Athanasius, Gregory [Nazianzen], and whatever else like these from other men's works that I could ever read or come by (which I think would be too long to recite here individually), I find that God is not a body, nor does he have members like a man; neither is he divided by the distance of places, but by nature he is unchangeably invisible. And with the help of God, I believe without wavering, and so far as he gives me grace, I understand that when in the holy scriptures he is reported to have been seen with corporal eyes, he did not appear to those to whom he appeared, by that same invisible nature and substance, but by a visible shape taken to himself, as it pleased him."

This much out of Augustine. [2112]


To these I will now also add the words of Tertullian, a very ancient ecclesiastical writer, in his excellent book De Trinitate.

"By members, are meant the efficient powers of God, not the bodily fashion of God, or corporal lineaments. For when the eyes are described, it is set down because he sees all things; and when the ear is named, it is named because he hears all things; and when the finger is mentioned, then a certain signification of his mind is declared;


and when the nostrils [2113] are spoken of, the receiving of prayers as sweet smells is thereby noted; and when the hand is talked of, it argues that He is the author of all creatures; and when the arm is specified, thereby is declared that no nature can withstand the power of God; and when the feet are named, that puts us in mind that God fills all things, and that there is no place where he is not present. For neither members nor the offices of members are necessary to Him, whose will alone all things obey and are ready at hand, without any words. For why should He require eyes, when he is himself the light? Or why should he seek feet, when he is himself present everywhere? Or why should he go in, since there is nowhere to go out from himself? Or why should he wish for a hand, whose will works all things without words? Nor does he need ears, who knows the most secret thoughts. Or why should he lack a tongue, whose thinking alone is a command? For these members were necessary to men, and not to God; because the counsel of men would have no effect, unless the body fulfilled the thoughts. But they are not needful to God, whose will the very works not only follow without any stirring business, but immediately proceed and go forward with his will. He is all eye, because he wholly sees. He is all ear, because he wholly hears. He is all hand, because he wholly works; and He is all foot, because he is wholly everywhere. For whatever is simple does not have in itself any diversity — not of itself. But whatever things are born to dissolution, those things fall into a diversity of members; but things that are not concrete, cannot feel diversity." [2114]

And as follows. For all these, up to here, are the words of Tertullian.


Therefore, when we read that Moses saw God face to face, and that Jacob, Israel, and the prophets saw God plainly and not obscurely, what is meant is that a vision most manifest, effectual, and very familiar was exhibited to them. For truly, said Theodoret, the bishop of Cyrus: "We say that the fathers did not see the divine nature or substance — which cannot be circumscribed, comprehended, or perceived in the mind of man, but itself comprehends all things. But we say that they saw a certain glory and certain visions, which correlated to their capacity, and did not surpass the measure of it." [2115] For these assured sentences of the holy scripture always remain most true: "No man ever saw God at any time." Joh 1.18 "God dwells in the light that no man can attain unto, whom no man has seen nor can see;" 1Tim 6.16 and again, "No man shall see my face, and live;" Exo 33.20 that is, so long as he lives on this earth in the corruption and imperfection of his flesh no man shall behold the essence of God, which is eternal and light that cannot be looked upon. For once we are delivered from this corruption and are glorified, then we shall see him as he is. 1Joh 3.2


Therefore, God is said to have been seen by the fathers, not according to the fulness of his divinity, but according to the capacity of men.

Tertullian thinks that all things in the old Testament were done of God the Father by the Son, who, taking upon with himself a competent shape, appeared to men and spoke to the fathers. In the beginning of his epistle to the Hebrews, 2.14 Paul significantly speaks of the Son of God incarnate, not absolutely denying that the Father ever did anything by the Son. Tertullian says:

"To the Son was given all power in heaven and on earth. But that power could not be of all things, unless it were of every time. Therefore, it was the Son who always descended to talk with men, from Adam to the patriarchs and prophets, in vision, in dream, in a mirror, and oracle. So it always pleased God to be familiar with men in the earth, being none other than the Word who afterward was to be made flesh. And it pleased him to so make a way for us to faith, that we might more easily perceive that the Son of God descended into the world, and that we might know that such a thing was done." [2116]

And so forth as follows; for all these are the words of Tertullian. After this introduction,[2117] we will now add the visions of God's majesty exhibited to holy men.

God exhibited to his servants many and sundry visions in which, in a way, he foreshadowed his majesty to them.  It would be too long a labour for me to repeat and expound to you all of these visions. You shall find the most notable ones in Exodus 19, Isaiah 6, Ezekiel 1, Daniel 7, and in the Apocalypse of the blessed evangelist and apostle John. It is sufficient to put you in mind of them. But now, the most renowned and excellent one of all, I will recite here and handle at large. It is found in the thirty-third and thirty-fourth chapters of Exodus.


Moses had trial of the facility and goodness of God, and that there was nothing which he obtained that was not at God's hand. Therefore he takes it upon himself to boldly ask this also of the Lord: to see God in his substance, glory, and majesty; which all the true wise men of every age only wished and longed for. For Moses says: "Because I understand that you, O God, wish me well, and that you can deny nothing, I beseech you, then: show me your glory." That is, allow me, I pray you, to see you as you are in your glorious substance and majesty. Now, in answering this request, which is the greatest of all others, God says to him: "I will make all my goodness pass before you, and I will cry the name of the Lord, or in the name of the Lord,[2118] before you." Exo 33.19 In these words, he promises two things to Moses. The one is, "All my goodness shall pass before you." But this chief good of God can be nothing else than the good and mighty God himself, or rather, the Word of God — I say, the very beloved Son of God, in whom we believe that all the treasures of wisdom, divinity, goodness, and perfection are placed and laid up. For he set before Moses' eyes his appearance in a human and visible shape, that same appearance he would have at the end of the world, incarnate. The other thing that he promised is this: "I will cry the name of the Lord, or in the name of the Lord, before you;" that is, I will proclaim the names of my glory, by which you may understand who I am, and see me in your mind.

But now, so that no man should attribute so excellent a vision to the merit of Moses, the Lord adds a subsequent sentence. This vision does not happen to you because of your own merit. For "without man's merits I reveal myself to whom I will, and without respect of persons I will have compassion on whom it pleases me." This consideration of the free grace and liberal goodness of God greatly belongs to the true knowledge of God.


Then the Lord continues, and more significantly declares to Moses in what manner and order he will exhibit or show himself to him. "You may not in this life see my face;" that is, you may not fully see me in my substance; for that is reserved for the blessed spirits and glorified bodies in the world to come. I will therefore show myself to you in this fashion. You shall go up into the mountain; there in a rock I will show you a cleft, in which you shall place yourself: and I will lay my hand upon you, that is, a cloud, or some such thing, so that, as I come toward you, you may not look directly in my face. In that phrase of speech, the Lord imitates the fashion of men, whose order is to spread their hands over the eyes of the one whom they would not have narrowly behold anything. The Lord then adds: And in the meantime, I will pass by; that is, the image which I take, namely, the shape of a man, in which I will exhibit myself to be seen, shall pass by before you. And once I am past, so that you can not see my face, I will take away the hand with which I hid your eyes, and then you shall behold the back of the figure, or my hinder parts. Now the hinder parts of God are the words and deeds of God, which he leaves behind him, so that we may learn by them to know him. Again, beholding God's face is taken for the most exact and precise knowledge of God; but those who see the back only, do not know as well as those who see the face. And in the hinder or latter times of the world, God sent his Son into the world, born of a woman;[2119] whoever beholds him in faith, does not see the Godhead in his humanity, but by his words and deeds, they know who God is, and so they see the Father in the Son. For they learn that God is the chief good, and that the Son of God is God, being co-equal and of the same substance with the Father.

Now let us see how God (according to this promise he made) exhibited himself to be seen by Moses. Moses, rising up in good time, ascends up into the mountain cheerfully to the rock which the Lord had shown him, placing himself in the cleft. He looks greedily for the vision or revelation of God. At length, the Lord descended in a cloud, and came upon the mountain to the cleft of the rock in which Moses waited for him.


And presently, when Moses' face was hidden, the figure of God passed by before him — that is, the shape of a man which God took upon himself. And when the back of the figure was toward Moses, so that he could no longer see its face, the Lord took his hand away, and Moses beheld the hinder parts of him. By this he gathered that God would one day, that is to say, in the hinder times of the world, be incarnate and revealed to the world. We will afterward say something more about this revelation. Once the Lord had gone past, he cried out as he promised, and as in a certain catalogue, he reckoned up his names by which, as in a shadow, he declared His nature. For he said, "Jehovah, Jehovah, God, merciful and gracious, long-suffering, and abounding in goodness and truth; keeping mercy in store for thousands, forgiving wickedness, transgression, and sin: and yet not allowing the wicked to escape unpunished, visiting the wickedness of the fathers upon the children and children's children, to the third and fourth generation." Exo 34.6-7 What else is this, than if God had said,

'I am the uncreated essence, being of myself from before all beginning, who gives being to all things, and keeps all things in being; I am a strong and almighty God; I do not abuse my might, for I am gentle and merciful; I love my creatures, and man especially, on whom I wholly yearn in the bowels of love and mercy; I am rich and bountiful, and ready at all times to help my creatures; I freely, without recompense, give all that I bestow; I am long-suffering, and not irritable to anger or hasty to revenge, as mankind is; I am no niggard [2120] or envious, as wealthy men in the world usually are; I am most liberal and bountiful, rejoicing to be shared among my people, and to heap up benefits upon the faithful. Moreover, I am true and faithful; I deceive no man; I lie about nothing; what I promise, I stand to, and faithfully perform it. I neither can nor do so waste my riches that, at length, all is spent and I myself am drawn dry. For I keep good turns in store for a thousand generations, so that even if the former age never lived so wealthily with my riches, yet those who are still to come and be born, even till the end of the world, shall nevertheless find in me enough to suffice and satisfy their desire.


For I am the well-spring of good that cannot be drawn dry; and if any man sins against me and afterward repents of it, I am not unappeasable. For of my own free-will I forgive errors, sins, and heinous crimes. And yet, let no man therefore think that I am delighted with sins, or that I am a patron of wicked-doers. For I, even I, punish wicked and impenitent men, and chasten even those who are my own, that thereby I may keep them in order and office. But let no man think that he may sin and escape unpunished, because he sees that his ancestors sinned and were not punished — that is, sinned and were not utterly cut off and wiped out. For I reserve revenge till a just and full time, and I so behave myself, that all are compelled to confess me to be a God of judgment.'

Now, when Moses the servant of God had heard and seen these things, he made haste, and fell down prostrate to the earth, and worshipped. Let us also do the same, being surely certified that the Lord will not grant, so long as we live in this transitory world, to reveal himself and his glory any whit more fully and publicly,[2121] than he was exhibited to us in Christ his Son. Therefore, let the things that sufficed Moses suffice us also: let the knowledge of Christ suffice and content us.

For thirdly, the most evident and excellent way and means to know God, is laid out before us in Jesus Christ, the Son of God incarnate and made man. For we just heard, even now, that the shadow of Christ was set before Moses, when it pleased God to most familiarly reveal himself to him. And the apostle Paul places the illumination or appearing of "the knowledge of the glory of God, in the face of Jesus Christ." 2Cor 4.6 And in another place, the same Paul calls Christ "the brightness of his Father's glory, and the living image of his substance." Heb 1.3 Truly, he most plainly says himself in the gospel, "No man knows the Father but the Son, and he to whom the Son will reveal him." Mat 11.27 For he is the way to the Father, and the Father is seen and beheld in him. For we again read in the gospel, "No man has ever seen God at any time; the only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he has revealed Him to us." Joh 1.18


But again the apostle says, "Since, in the wisdom of God the world through their wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of preaching to save those who believe." 1Cor 1.21 That which he calls "the wisdom of God" in this place, is the very creation and workmanship of the world, and the wonderful works of God, in which God would be known to the world. And in beating out and considering this, all the wisdom of all the wise men till then, altogether lay. But because the consideration of those things did them no good, because man's wisdom for the most part referred the causes of things to something other than God, who is the true and only mark to which they should be referred. And while men thought themselves wise, as the same apostle [2122] teaches us, they became fools in their own reasonings. Thus, it pleased God to be known to the world by another way; namely, by the foolish preaching of the gospel, which indeed is the most absolute and perfect wisdom; but to the worldly wisdom of mortal men, it seems foolishness. For it seems a foolish thing to the men of this world, that the true and very God, being incarnate or made man, was resident with us here in the earth, in poverty, hungry, suffered, and died. And yet, even this is the way by which God is most evidently known to the world, together with His wisdom, goodness, truth, righteousness, and power. For the wisdom of God, which no tongue can utter, shines out very brightly in the whole ministry and wonderful dispensation of Christ — but far more publicly, if we discuss and beat out the causes (of which I spoke elsewhere), and thoroughly weigh the doctrine of Christ. In the incarnation of the Son of God, it appears how God wishes the world well, it being sunk and drowned in sin, as that to which he is bound by an indissoluble league. And through Christ He adopts the sons of death and the devil, into the sons and heirs of life everlasting. Now, Christ most exactly fulfils all those things which the prophets foretold of him by the revelation of God; and he most liberally performs the things which God the Father promised about him; and that declares how unchangeable and true the eternal God is.


In the deeds or miracles of Christ our Lord — in his resurrection, in his glorious ascension into heaven, and the most plentiful outpouring of his holy Spirit upon his disciples, but especially in converting the whole world from paganism and Judaism to the evangelical truth — appear the power, long-suffering, majesty, and unspeakable goodness of God the Father. In the death of Christ, the Son of God, shines the great justice of God the Father, who having once been offended with our sins, could not be pacified except with such and so great a sacrifice. Finally, because He did not spare not his only-begotten Son, but gave him up for us who are his enemies and wicked rebels — even in this, is that mercy of His made known to the world, which is very rightly commended above all the works of God. Therefore, in the Son and by the Son, God most manifestly makes himself manifest to the world; so that whatever is needful to be known about God or his will, and whatever belongs to heavenly and healthful wisdom, that is wholly opened and thoroughly perceived and seen in the Son.

Therefore, when Philip said to Christ, "Lord, show us the Father, and that will suffice us;" we read in John that the Lord answered, "Have I been so long with you, and do you not yet know me? Philip, he that has seen me has seen the Father; and how can say you, show us the Father? Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" Joh 14.8-10 Now, in this he calls back all the faithful from over-curious searching after God, laying before them the mystery of the dispensation in which he would have us rest and content ourselves, namely this: that God was made man. Therefore whoever desires to see and know God truly, let them cast the eyes of their mind upon Christ, and believe the mystery of him contained in words and deeds, learning by them what and who God is. For God is such a one as he exhibits himself to be known in Christ, and in that very knowledge, he appoints eternal life to be, where he says: "And this is eternal life, that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Joh 17.3


Let him that wishes himself well, take heed that he not go about to know any more than God himself teaches us in Christ. But whoever follows the rule and subtleties of man's wit, neglecting Christ, truly comes to nothing and perishes in his thoughts.

The fourth means by which to know God, is fetched out of the contemplation of His works. David says, "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows forth the works of his hands." Psa 19.1 And the apostle Paul says, "His invisible things, being understood by his works through the creation of the world, are seen, that is, both his eternal power and Godhead." Rom 1.20 Look, the power and Godhead of God are these invisible things of God; and yet they are understood by the consideration of God's works. Therefore, even God himself is known by the works of God.

But now, the works of God are doubly considered, or are of two sorts. For either they are laid before us to be beheld in things created for the benefit of men, as in the heavens and earth themselves, and those things that are in heaven and on earth, and are governed and preserved by the providence of God. Of this sort are the stars and the motions or courses of the stars, the influence of heaven, the course [2123] of time, living creatures of all kinds (trees, plants, fruits of the earth), the sea and whatever is in it, stones, and whatever things are hidden within and dug out of the earth for the use of men. St. Basil and St. Ambrose have written about these very learnedly and godly in their books entitled, "The Work of Six Days," which they called Hexaëmeron.[2124] Here may be inserted that history of nature, which the glorious and worthy king David in the Psalms, especially the hundredth psalm, most fitly applies to our purpose. But lest we make the course of this present treatise entangled and intricate, I will hereafter speak of the creation of the world, and of God's government and providence, as the same. At present, it shall suffice to know [2125] that heaven and earth, and all that is in them, declare to us, and set before our eyes as it were, an evident argument that God, just as He is most wise, is also most mighty, wonderful, of an infinite majesty, of an incomprehensible glory, most just, most gracious, and most excellent.


Isaiah therefore, a faithful teacher of the church, giving good counsel for the state of mortal men, says to them: "Lift up your eyes on high, and consider who has made these things that come forth by heaps,[2126] calling them all by their names; whose strength is so great, that none of them fails." Isa 40.26 For although, even from the beginning, the stars have shined to the world, and have performed in their course, that for which they were created — yet they are not worn by use, nor consumed away or darkened ought at all by their continuance; for they are preserved whole, by the power of their maker. Jeremiah also cries: "Lord, there is none like you. You are great, and great is your name with power. Who would not fear you, O king of the Gentiles? For yours is the glory: for among all the wise men of the heathen, and in all their kingdoms, there is none that may be likened to you." Jer 10.6-7 And immediately after, again:

"The Lord God is a true and living God and king. [2127] If he is angered, the earth shakes, nor can the Gentiles abide his indignation. He made the earth with his power; with his wisdom he orders the whole compass of the world; and with his discretion he has spread the heavens out. At his voice, the waters gathered together in the air; he draws up the clouds from the uttermost parts of the earth; he turns lightning to rain, and brings the winds out of their treasuries." Jer 10.10-13

Or else, the works of God are set forth for us to behold in man, the very lord and prince of all creatures, not so much in the workmanship or making of man — which Lactantius and Andreas Vesalius [2128] have surpassingly painted out for all men to see — as in the works which toward man, or in man, or by man, the Lord himself finishes and brings to pass.


For God justly punishes some men; and by punishing them he declares that he knows the dealings of mortal men, and hates all wrong and injury. Upon others, he heaps up very large and ample benefits; and in being bountiful to them, he declares that He is rich, yes, that He is the fountain of goodness which cannot be drawn dry; and that he is bountiful, good, merciful, gentle, and long-suffering. There are innumerable examples of this in the history of the Bible. Cain, for the murder committed upon his brother, lived a miserable and wretched life here on earth. For the just Lord revenges the blood shed of the innocent. The first world was drowned in the deluge;[2129] a plague was laid on it for the contempt of God; but Noah and his were saved in the ark by the mercy of God. God brings Abraham from Ur of the Chaldees, and places him in the land of Canaan, blessing and loading him with all manner of goods. He wonderfully keeps Jacob in all his troubles and infinite calamities. Through great afflictions, he lifts up Joseph from the prison [2130] to the throne of Egypt. He grievously plagues the Egyptians for the tyranny shown in oppressing Israel, and for the contempt of his commandment. But it would be too long and tedious to make a catalog of all the examples.

Now, by these and like works of God we learn who, and how great, our God is, how wise he is, how good, how mighty, how liberal, how just and rightful; and with this we learn that we must believe him, and obey him in all things. For Asaph says:

"The things that we have heard and known, and such as our fathers have told us, those we will not hide from our sons; but will show to the generations to come the praise of the Lord, his mighty and wonderful works which he has done: that the children which are born, when they come to age, may show their children the same; that they may put their trust in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments." Psa 78.3-7 And as follows in the seventy-eighth Psalm.

Another means to know God, fifthly, is that which is gathered from comparisons. For the scripture compares all the most excellent things in the world with God, whom it prefers before them all; so that we may gather by this, that God is the chief good, and that his majesty is incomprehensible.


This one place in Isaiah may take the place of many, where in the fortieth chapter he says:

"Who has measured the waters with his fist? Who has measured heaven with his span? Who has held the dust of the earth between three fingers, and weighed the mountains [2131] and hills in a balance? Who has directed the Spirit of the Lord? Who gave him counsel? Who taught him? Who is of his counsel, to instruct him? Behold, all people are in comparison to him are a drop in a bucket-full, and counted as the least thing that the balance weighs. Yes, he shall cast out the isles as the smallest crumb of dust. Lebanon is not sufficient to provide Him wood to burn, nor its beasts enough for one sacrifice to him. All people in comparison to him are reckoned as nothing; and if they are compared with him, they are counted as less than nothing... Do you not understand this? Has it not been preached to you since the beginning? Have you not been taught this by the foundation of the earth? It is he that sits upon the circle of the world, whose inhabiters are (in comparison to him) but as grasshoppers. He spreads out the heavens as a covering, and stretches them out as a tent to dwell in. He brings princes to nothing, and makes the judges of the earth as though they did not exist." Isa 40.12-17, 21-23 And so forth.

Now, to this place belong the Prosopopoeial [2132] statements of God. You may find many sundry examples of them, besides the visions we placed in the second way or means of knowing God. But the most excellent are found in the eighteenth Psalm, and in the fifth chapter of Solomon's Ballad. [2133] I passed over both of these, untouched, because I did not mean to keep you too long; for we must descend to the other points.

Last of all, sixthly, God is known by the sayings or sentences uttered by the mouths of the prophets and apostles. Of this sort is that notable speech of Jeremiah, where he says:


"Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, nor the strong man in his strength, nor the rich man in his riches: [2134] but let him that glories glory in this: that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord, and do mercy, judgment, and righteousness upon earth. Therefore I am delighted in such things alone, says the Lord." Jer 9.23-24 Now, by the mercy of God we are saved and adorned with sundry great benefits; by his judgment he punishes the wicked and disobedient according to their deserts, and with this he keeps equity: even as his righteousness also truly performs that which he promises. Therefore, we say that God is a Saviour, a liberal giver of all good things, an upright Judge, and assured truth in performing his promises.

And here, now, is to be referred the doctrine of the prophets and apostles, which teaches the true knowledge of God, acknowledging Him to be one in essence, and three in persons. Concerning the unity of the divine essence (by the allegation of which, the plurality of the heathen gods is utterly rejected and flatly condemned), I will cite those testimonies out of the holy scripture which seem to be more evident and excellent than all the others — which are so many in number, that a man can hardly count them all. The most notable is that which is grounded upon prophetic and evangelical authority. It is cited out of the sixth chapter of Deuteronomy, 6.4 and set down in these words in the twelfth chapter of Mark: "Jesus said, The first of all the commandments is, Hearken, Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like this, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is no other commandment greater than these." Mar 12.29-31 It now follows in the gospel: "And the Scribe said, Well, Master, you have said the truth; that there is one God, and that there is no other but he; and that to love him with all the heart, with all the mind, with all the soul, and with all the strength, and to love a man's neighbour as himself, is greater than all the burnt-offerings and sacrifices." Mar 12.32-33 All the other notable testimonies in the law, agree with this one.


For in the twentieth chapter of Exodus, we read that the Lord himself said with his own mouth at mount Sinai: "I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; have no other gods but me." [2135] Again, at the end of his song Moses brings in God saying: "See now, how I am God, and there is no other God but me. I kill, and make alive again. I wound, and I heal, nor is there any who can deliver out of my hand." Deu 32.39 The testimonies of the prophets also agree with those in the law. For in the eighteenth Psalm, David says: "The way of God is an undented way, the word of the Lord also is tried in the fire. He is the defender of all them that put their trust in him. For who is God but the Lord? or who has any strength [2136] except our God?" Psa 18.30-31 There are many of this sort in other places in the volume of the Psalms.

The Lord says in Isaiah, and cries by Isaiah, "I am the Lord, Hu [2137] is my name, and my glory I will not give to any other, nor my honour to graven images." Isa 42.8 "I am the first and the last, and beside me there is no God. And who is like me? (If any are), let him call forth and openly show what is past, and lay before me what has happened since I appointed the people of the world;[2138] and let him tell what will happen afterward, and come to pass." Isa 44.6-7 "I the Lord do all things; I alone spread out the heavens, and only I have laid out the earth by myself." Isa 42.5 "I make the tokens of witches of no effect, and make the soothsayers fools. As for the wise, I turn them backward, and make their wisdom foolishness. I set up the word of my servant, and fulfil the counsels of my messengers." Isa 44.25-26  "I am the Lord, and there is no other; who creates [2139] light and darkness, and makes peace and trouble: yes, even I the Lord do all these things." Isa 45.7

To these testimonies of the prophets we will now add one or two out of St. Paul, the great instructor and apostle of the Gentiles. In his epistle to Timothy he says: "There is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." 1Tim 2.5


And again he says: "One Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, which is above all, and through all, and in you all." Eph 4.5 Again, the same apostle says to the Corinthians: "There is no other God but one. And if others are called gods, whether in heaven or on earth, (as there are many gods, and many lords) yet to us there is but one God, even the Father, of whom are all things, and we in him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by him." 1Cor 8.4-6 Now I suppose these divine testimonies are evident enough, and sufficiently prove that God is one in substance, of incomprehensible essence, eternal, and spiritual.

But under the one essence of the Godhead, the holy scripture shows us a distinction of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Now, note here that I call it a distinction, not a division or separation. For we adore and worship no more Gods than one; but we neither confound, nor yet deny or take away the three subsistences or persons of the divine essence, nor the properties of it. Noetus (indeed Anoetus) [2140] and Sabellius the Libyan, a godless, bold, and very rude ass, from whom sprang up the gross heresy of the Patripassians, [2141] taught that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost imported no distinction in God, but that they were diverse attributes of God. For they said that God is called the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, in no other sense than when he is named good, just, gentle, omnipotent, wise, etc. They said the Father created the world; and only in the name of the Son, he took on flesh and suffered; and again, merely changing his name, he was the Holy Ghost who came upon the disciples. But the true, prophetic, and apostolic faith expressly teaches that the names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost show us what God is in his own proper nature. For naturally and eternally, God is the Father, because from before beginnings, he unspeakably begot the Son. The same God is naturally the Son, because he was begotten of the Father from before beginnings. The same God is naturally the Holy Ghost, because he is the eternal Spirit of them both, proceeding from both, being one and the same God with them both.


And when in the scriptures, he is called a gentle, good, wise, merciful, and just God, it is not so much expressed by this what he is in himself, as what a God he exhibits to us. The same scripture openly says, that the Father created all things by the Son; and that the Father did not descend into the earth, nor did he take our flesh upon himself, nor suffer for us. For the Son says, "I went out from the Father, and came into the world;" again, "I leave the world, and go to the Father." Joh 16.28 The same Son, falling prostrate in the mount of Olives prays, saying, "Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from me." Mat 26.39 Again, in the gospel he says, "I will pray to the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter." Joh 14.16 Look, here he says the Father shall give you another Comforter. And yet again, lest we separate or divide the divine nature because of those persons and the properties of those persons, the Son says in the gospel, "I and the Father are one." Joh 8.16 For when he says "one," he overthrows those who separate or rend the divine substance or nature. And when he says, "We are," and not "I am," he refutes those who confound the subsistences or persons in the Trinity. Therefore, the apostolic and catholic doctrine teaches and confesses that they are three, distinguished in properties; and of those three, there is but one and the same nature or essence — the same omnipotence, majesty, goodness, and wisdom. For although there is an order in the Trinity, there is no inequality at all. None of them is before another in time, or worthier than another in dignity. But of the three, there is one Godhead, and these three are one and eternal God.

The primitive church, truly, under the apostles and in the times that came after them, believed so simply, despising and rejecting curious questions and needless disputations. And even then, overly pestilent men arose in the church of God, speaking perverse things, whom the apostle for good cause calls "grievous wolves, not sparing the flock." Act 20.29 They first brought in [2142] very strange and dangerous questions, and sharpened their blasphemous tongues against heaven itself. For they took the stance that three persons could not exist in one nature or essence; therefore, by naming the Trinity (they said), Christians worshipped many Gods, as the heathen do.


Again, since there can be but one God, they consequently infer that the same God is Father, Son, and Holy Ghost unto himself. It was thus agreeable that they should dote in folly, whom the word of God did not lead, but the gross imagination of mortal flesh. And by these means, God punished the giant-like boldness of those men, whose minds, being without any reverence and fear of God, wickedly strived to fasten the sight of the eyes of the flesh upon the very face of God. But the faithful and vigilant overseers and pastors of the churches were compelled to drive such wolves from the folds of Christ's sheep, and to valiantly fight for the sincere and catholic truth — that is, for the Unity and Trinity, for the monarchy and mystery of the dispensation. Such strife bred diverse words, with which it was necessary to hold and bind those slippery merchants.[2143] Therefore, immediately after the beginning, these terms sprang up: Unity, Trinity, essence, substance, and person. The Greeks for the most part used ousia, hypostasis, and prosopon, which we call essence, subsistence, and person.

From these again sprang up new and fresh contentions in the churches.[2144] They disputed sharply about the essence and subsistence, whether they are the same or different things. For Ruffinus Aquileiensis,[2145] in the twenty-ninth chapter and first book of his ecclesiastical history, says:

"There arose a controversy about the difference between substances and subsistences, which the Greeks call ousia and hypostasis. For some said that substance and subsistence seem to be the same; and because we do not say that there are three substances in God, we should not say that there are three subsistences in him. But on the other side, those who took substance for one thing, and subsistence for another, said that substance denotes the nature of a thing and the reason on which it stands; but that the subsistence of every person shows that very thing which subsists." [2146]


Basilius Magnus wrote a learned epistle to his brother Gregory about the difference between essence and subsistence.[2147] And Hermius Sozomenus, in the twelfth chapter of his fifth book of Histories, says:

"The bishops of many cities, meeting together at Alexandria, together with Athanasius and Eusebius Vercellensis,[2148] confirm the decrees of Nicaea, and confess that the Holy Ghost is co-essential with the Father and the Son, and name them the Trinity. They teach that the man, which God the Word took upon himself, is to be accounted perfect man, not in body only, but in soul also; even as the ancient doctors of the church also thought. But because the question about Ousia and Hypostasis troubled the churches, and there were contentions and disputations concerning the difference between them, they seem to me to have determined very wisely, that those terms should not at the first presently be used in questions about God. That is, unless a man were compelled to use them to beat down the opinion of Sabellius, lest by lack of words, he seemed to call one and the same by three names — when he should understand each one particularly, in that three-fold distinction." [2149]

Socrates adds this in the seventh chapter and third book of his History: "But they did not bring into the church a certain new religion devised by themselves, but that which, from the beginning even till then, the ecclesiastical tradition taught, and prudent Christians evidently set forth." [2150] And so forth.


Therefore, away with the pope's champions, to the place where they are worthy. For when we teach that all points of true godliness and salvation are fully contained and taught in the canonical scriptures, by way of objection, they demand to know in what passage of scripture we find the terms Trinity, person, essence, and substance; and finally, where do we find that Christ has a reasonable soul? For although those specific words, consisting in those syllables, are not to be found in the canonical books (which were written by the prophets and apostles in another tongue, and not in Latin), yet the things, matter, or substance which those words signify, are most manifestly contained and taught in those books. All and every nation may likewise express these things in their language, and speak and pronounce them for their commodity and necessity. Away also with all sophisters, who think it is a great point of learning to make the reverend mystery of the sacred Trinity, dark and intricate with their strange, curious, and pernicious questions. It is sufficient for the godly, according to the scriptures and the apostles' creed, to simply believe and confess that there is one divine nature or essence, in which are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. Nor is it greatly material whether you call them substances, or subsistences, or persons, so long as you plainly express the distinction between them, and each one's individual properties — so confessing the unity, that you do not confound the Trinity, nor spoil the persons of their properties.

And here now, it will do very well [2151] to cite out of the scriptures evident testimonies that may evidently prove the mystery of the Trinity, with the distinction and several properties of the three persons. The Lord says in the Gospel of Matthew: "All power is given to me in heaven and on earth: go therefore and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you." Mat 28.19-20


Tertullian, alleging those words against Praxeas, says: "He last of all commanded his disciples to baptize into the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We are baptized not into one, nor once, but three times, at every name, into every several person." [2152] This much from Tertullian. Now as every several person is severally expressed, so the divinity of them all is singularly taught to be one and common to them all, because he bids us to baptize, not only into the name of the Father, but also of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The apostle and elected vessel, Paul, flatly denies that any man either ought to be, or ever was, baptized into the name of any man, who is nothing but a mere man. "Were you," he says, "baptized in the name of Paul?" 1Cor 1.13 So then, the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, into whose name we are baptized.

The Lord says in the Gospel of St. John: "When the Comforter comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, that is, the Spirit of truth," Joh 15.26 "he will lead you into all truth. He shall not speak of himself: but whatever he hears, that he shall speak. He shall glorify me, for he shall receive of mine, and show to you. All things that the Father has are mine: therefore said I to you that he shall take of mine, and show to you." Joh 16.13-15 In these words of the Lord's, you hear mention made of the person of the Father from whom the Spirit is sent, of the person of the Son who sends him, and of the person of the Holy Spirit who comes to us. You also hear of the mutual and equal communion of the divinity and all good things between the three persons. For the Holy Ghost speaks not of himself, but that which he hears. "He shall," says the Son, "take of mine." And again: "All things that the Father has are mine."


And therefore, what things the Son has, those are the Father's: and the divinity, glory, and majesty of them all is co-equal.

Two manifest testimonies of John the Baptist agree with these most evident statements. First he says: "He whom God has sent speaks the words of God; for God does not give the Spirit by measure to him. The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. He that believes on the Son has everlasting life," etc. Joh 3.34 Look, here again, in the one Godhead you hear the three persons distinguished by their properties. For the Father loves and sends the Son, and gives all things into his hand; the Son is sent, and he receives all things; but the Holy Ghost is given by the Father, and received by the Son according to fulness. Then the Baptist cries out the second time, and says:

"I saw the Spirit descending from heaven like a dove, and it abode on him. And I did not know him; but He that sent me to baptize with water, said to me, Upon whomever you see the Spirit descending, and still tarrying upon him, this is He who baptizes with the Holy Ghost. And I saw, and bare record that this is the Son of God." Joh 1.32-34

Here again are shown to us, as clear as daylight, the three persons distinguished and not confounded. For He that sends John is the Father. The Holy Ghost is neither the Father, nor the Son, but appears upon the head of Christ in the likeness of a dove. And the Son is the Son, not the Father, and the Son of the Father too, on whose head the Holy Ghost stayed. And now to this place belongs the testimony of the Father, uttered from heaven upon his Son Christ. For he says: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased." Mat 3.17 But one and the same cannot be both father and son to himself. The Father is one, and the Son is one: and yet they are not diverse, but one and the same God, of one and the same nature. For the Son in one place most plainly says: "I and the Father are one," etc. Joh 10.30

Moreover, what could be more clearly spoken for the proof of the express distinction and properties of the three persons in the reverend Trinity, than where the archangel Gabriel in St. Luke, declaring the sacrament [2153] of the Lord's incarnation.


He evidently [2154] says the following to the virgin, the mother of God: "The Holy Ghost will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore also, that holy one who shall be born will be called the Son of God." Luk 1.35 What, I pray you, could have possibly been invented on purpose, to be more manifestly spoken for the proof of this matter, than these words of the angel? You have here the person of the Highest, that is, of the Father. For in the words of the angel, a little before, it is said: "He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest." Luk 1.32 Now the Son is the Son of the Father. We also have the persons of the Son and of the Holy Ghost expressed, with their properties neither mingled nor confounded. The Father is not incarnate, nor the Holy Ghost, but only the Son. To the Father is born of the virgin, a Son, even he that was the Son by the eternal and unspeakable manner of begetting. But the Holy Ghost, which is the power of the Most Highest, overshadowed the virgin, and made her with child. And so, by this means you see here the persons distinguished, not divided; and how they differ in properties, not in essence of deity, or in nature.

Here now (although these places might seem to suffice any reasonable man [2155]) I will add yet other testimonies of the holy apostles, and the three most excellent among all the apostles. St. Peter, preaching the word of the Gospel before the church of Israel, as Luke testifies in the Acts of the Apostles, says among other things: "This Jesus God has raised up, and exalted him to his right hand; and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he has shed forth what you now see and hear." Act 2.32-33 Look, God the Father raises up and exalts the Son; the Son is raised up, exalted, and sits at the right hand of the Father; and the Son, receiving the Holy Ghost from the Father, bestows it on the apostles. Therefore, the Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son, subsisting in his own person, but being one and the same Spirit of them both. Moreover, in the sermon made at Caesarea in the congregation of the Gentiles, that is, in the house and family of Cornelius the centurion, the same apostle just as plainly expresses the person of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and knits the Trinity together into one essence of the divine nature. Act 10


St. Paul says in the beginning of his epistle to the Romans, that he was "appointed to preach the gospel of God, which he had promised beforehand by his prophets in the holy scriptures, about his Son; who was made of the seed of David after the flesh, and has been declared to be the Son of God with power after the Spirit that sanctifies." Rom 1.1-4 Again, he says to the Galatians: "God sent his Son, made of a woman, that by adoption we might receive the right of sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father." Gal 4.4-6 And again, he says to Titus: "God, according to his mercy, has saved us by the fountain of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost,[2156] which he shed on us richly through Jesus Christ our Saviour." Tit 3.5 Therefore, St. Cyril, speaking very truly of the apostle Paul, Libro in Joan. ix. cap. 45, says: "That holy man rightly knew the enumeration of the sacred Trinity. And therefore he teaches that every person properly and distinctly subsists; and yet he preaches openly the immutable self-sameness of the Trinity." [2157] Concerning this matter, if any man would gather together and reckon up all the testimonies that Paul has for the proof of it, he must of necessity recite all his epistles.

In his evangelical history as well as in his epistle, the blessed apostle and evangelist John, more strongly and evidently than the others, affirms and sets forth the mystery of the Trinity and the distinction of the persons. Among many, this one will be sufficient at this time. In his canonical epistle, he says: "Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is Christ? He is antichrist, who denies the Father and the Son. Whoever denies the Son, does not have the Father... Therefore let that abide in you which you have heard from the beginning." 1Joh 2.22-24


And a little after, he says again: "You do not need that any man teach you, as the same anointing teaches you about all things, and it is true, and not lying." 1Joh 2.27 In these words, you hear the Father, you hear the Son, you hear the anointing, that is, the Holy Ghost. The Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Father; neither is the Holy Ghost the Father, or the Son: but the Father is the Father of the Son, the Son is the Son of the Father, and the Holy Ghost [2158] proceeds from them both. And yet, those persons are so joined and united, that he who denies one of them, has none of them in him. Indeed, whoever denies this Trinity is pronounced to be antichrist, for he denies God, who is one in Trinity and three in Unity. And consequently, by confounding or taking away the properties of God, he denies that God is such a one as He is indeed.

Now, I suppose that these many and so manifest testimonies will suffice the godly. For they believe the scriptures, and do not over-curiously pry into the majesty of God. They are content with those things alone in which it has pleased God of his goodness, to appear and shine to us mortal men. There are some who endeavour by certain parables or similitudes to shadow this matter; that is to say, to show how the three persons are said to be distinguished, and yet notwithstanding to be one God. But in all the things that God has made (as I admonished you in the beginning of this treatise), there is nothing which can properly be likened to the nature of God. Nor are there any words in the mouths of men that can properly be spoken about it. Nor are there any similitudes of man's invention that can rightly and squarely agree with the divine Essence. St. Basil, disputing in de Ousia et Hypostasi, says: "It cannot be that the comparisons of examples should in all points be like those things, the use of which the examples serve." [2159] You may say that injury is done to the majesty of God if it is compared with mortal things. But because the holy scripture greatly condescends and tempers itself to our infirmity, I will propose a similitude, although indeed it is much unlike that which is usually taken and commonly used.


Behold the sun and the beams that come from it, and then the heat that proceeds from them both. Just as the sun is the headspring of the light and the heat, so the Father is the headspring of the Son, who is light of light. And just as the heat comes from the sun and the beams together, so the Holy Ghost proceeds from the Father and the Son together. But now, imagine that the sun were such that it never had a beginning, nor will ever have an ending; I ask you, would not the beams of this everlasting sun then be everlasting too? And would not the heat, which proceeds from them both, be everlasting, as well as they? Finally, would not the sun still be one in essence or substance, and yet three by reason of the three subsistences or persons? Tertullian used this parable of the sun. His words, which also contain other solitudes,[2160] I will not be grieved to recite to you:

"I would not doubt to call both the stalk of a root, the brook of a spring-head, and a beam of the sun, by the name son; for every original is a parent, and everything that issues from that original is a son. Much more, then, even the Word of God may properly have the name of Son. And yet, just as the stalk is not separated from the root, nor the brook from the spring-head, nor the beam from the sun — no more is the Word separated from God. Therefore, according to the fashion of these examples, I profess to say that there are two: God and his Word, the Father and his Son. For the root and the stalk are two things, but joined in one; and the spring-head and the brook are two kinds, but undivided; and the sun and its beams are two forms, but both clinging one to the other. Everything that comes from anything must be second to that out of which it comes; and yet it is not separated from that from which it proceeds. But where a second exists, there are two; and where a third exists, there are three. For the third is the Spirit of God and of the Son; even as the third from the root is the fruit of the stalk, the third from the spring-head is the river of the brook, and the third from the sun is the heat of the beam: yet none of these is alienated from the matrix from which they take the properties that they have.


So too the Trinity, descending by annexed and linked degrees from the Father, does not work against the monarchy [or unity of the Godhead], and it defends the economical state — that is, the mystery of the dispensation. Understand that I profess this rule everywhere, in which I testify that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are unseparated from one another — and you shall know how everything is spoken." [2161]

And so forth; for all these are the words of Tertullian, who flourished in Africa, not long after the age of the apostles.

But letting pass the parables, similitudes, or comparisons of man's invention, let us steadfastly believe the evident word of God. What man's capacity cannot attain to, let faith hold that fast. What the sacred scriptures declare to us, what Christ in his flesh taught us, what was confirmed by so many miracles for our sakes,[2162] what the Spirit of God in the true church tells us, that must be thought more true and certain than what is proved by a thousand demonstrations, or what all your senses are able to conceive. Paul denies that he would listen to an angel, if it were to speak anything contrary to the gospel of Christ. Yes, surely it is a prank of arrogant foolishness, to doubt the things that are laid out and taught with such great authority in the scriptures. But it is a greater madness if a man will not believe the oracles of God, and for no other cause than that our understanding cannot attain to the knowledge of all things, when nevertheless we know that our understanding is naturally blind and hates God.


Among philosophers, the one rejects the authority of any notable and approved writer, is considered an impudent fellow. It was enough to persuade the scholars of Pythagoras for a man to say to them, autov efh "he said it." Then would a Christian dare to seek loopholes, and jangle about, asking curious questions, when it is said to him, God said it, and taught you to believe it? No man doubts the king's letters patent,[2163] if its seal is acknowledged. Therefore, what a folly it is to doubt the divine testimonies, which are so evident, and firmly sealed with the Spirit of God!

Therefore, that I may here recapitulate and briefly express the principal sum of our exposition, I will recite to you, dearly beloved, the words of the holy father Cyril, which are to be found in Libra in Joan. ix. cap. 30, in the following sense:

"True faith is in God the Father, and in the Son, not simply, but incarnate, and in the Holy Ghost. For the holy and consubstantial Trinity is distinguished by the differences of names, that is, by the properties of the persons. For the Father is the Father, and not the Son: and the Son is the Son, and not the Father: and the Holy Ghost is the Holy Spirit proper to the Father and the Son. For the substance of the Deity is all one, or the same. Therefore we preach not three, but one God. Therefore we must believe in God; but distinctly and more fully expounding our faith, we must so believe, that we may refer the same glorification to every person. For there is no difference of faith. We should not have a greater faith in the Father than in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost; but the measure and manner of it must be one and the same, equally consisting in each of the three persons, so that by this means we may confess the unity of nature in the trinity of persons. This faith must be firmly grounded in our minds, which faith is in the Father, and in the Son, (and the Son, I say, even after he was made man), and in the Holy Ghost." [2164]

This much out of Cyril.


Now, all these points shall be thoroughly confirmed with fuller testimonies, once we come to prove the divinity of the Son of God, and of the Holy Ghost; which I mean to reserve till a convenient time.

But let no [2165] man think that this belief of the unity and trinity of the Godhead was either invented by the fathers or bishops of the churches, or first of all preached by the apostles immediately upon Christ's death and ascension. For all the holy patriarchs, prophets, and elect people of God, even from the beginning of the world, believed and grounded their faith in this same way that I have declared to you up to here. Although I do not deny that the mystery of the Trinity was more clearly expounded to the world by Christ, yet it is evident by some undoubted testimonies (which I will add shortly), that the mystery of the Trinity was very well known to the patriarchs and the prophets. But first, I will admonish you by the way, that the holy patriarchs and prophets of God held themselves content with the bare revelation and word of God, not raising curious questions about the unity and trinity of God. They clearly understood that there is one God, the Father of all, the only Saviour and author of all goodness; and that without or beside him there is no other God at all. And they again evidently saw that the Son of God, that promised Seed, has all things in common with the Father. For they most plainly heard that he is called the Saviour, and is the Redeemer, from whom all good things proceed and are bestowed upon the faithful.


By this it was now easy for them to gather that the Father and the Son are one God, although they differ in properties. For insomuch as they were assuredly certain that the damnable doctrine of the plurality of gods sprung from the devil, they did not worship many, but only one God, whom notwithstanding they believed to consist of a trinity of persons. For Moses, the undoubted servant of God, in the very first verse of his first book says: "In the beginning (creavit Dii) God created heaven and earth." He joins here a verb of the singular number to a noun of the plural number, not to make incongruity of speech, but to note the mystery of the Trinity. For the sense is as if he had said, That God which consists of three persons created heaven and earth. For a little after, consulting with himself about the making of man, God says, "Let us make in our image." Look, here he says, "Let us make," and not, "Let me make," or, "I will make." And again he says, "In our image," and not, "In my image." But lest any man think that this consultation was had with the angels, let him hear what God himself says in Isaiah: "I the Lord," he says, "make all things, and stretch out the heavens alone of myself," (that is, of my own power, without any help or fellow with me) "and set the earth fast." Isa 44.24 Therefore, the Father consulted with the Son, by whom also he created the world. And again, lest any man think (as the Jews object) that these things were according to the order and custom of men, spoken by God in the plural number for honour's sake and worship,[2166] you may hear what follows in the end of the third chapter: "Behold, this man has become as one of us, in knowing good and evil." Now here, by enallage [2167] he puts these words, "has become," for "shall become," or, "shall happen:" so that his meaning is as if he had said, "Behold, the same will happen to Adam that will come to one of us," that is, to the Son; namely: that he would have a trial of good and evil; that is, he would feel sundry fortunes — namely sickness, calamities, and death — and (as the proverb says) feel both sweet and sour; for that is the lot or condition of man.


But the Son being incarnate for us, not the Father nor the Holy Ghost, was found in shape as a man, and had a trial of sundry fortunes and of death. This was foretold to Adam, as it is manifest, for consolation's sake, and not in the way of mocking. For the good Lord with a garment, strengthened the body of our first parent [2168] against the unseasonableness of the air, when for Adam's sin God purposed to banish him out of paradise; so he comforted and cheered up his sorrowful mind with a full example of the Son's incarnation and suffering. And when he had so armed him in body and soul, he casts him out of the garden of felicity, into a careful and miserable exile.

There are in every place, many examples of this matter like this. For Abraham saw three; but with those three, he talked as with one, and he worshipped one. Gen 18 And "The Lord rained upon Sodom and Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven, and overthrew those cities." Gen 19.24 But lest any man interpret it and say, The Lord rained from the Lord, that is, from heaven; he presently adds, "From heaven." For as the Father created all things by the Son, so he preserves all things by him, and even still, works all things by him.

Next after Moses, the most notable prophet, David, says in his Psalm: "By the word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by the breath of his mouth." Psa 33.6 So here you hear that there is one Lord, in whom is the Word and the Spirit, both distinguished but not separated. For the Lord made the heavens, but by the "Word; and the whole furniture of heaven stands by the breath of the mouth of the Lord. The same David says: "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool." Psa 110.1 Note that in another place, David flatly says that beside the Lord there is no other. And yet here again he just as plainly says, "The Lord said to my Lord;" meaning the Father, who had placed the Son, who was David's Lord, at His right hand in heaven.


Out of Isaiah may be gathered very many testimonies. But the most notable of all is that which Matthew the apostle cites in these words: "Behold, my Son whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom my soul is pleased: I will put my Spirit upon him," etc. Isa 42.1 With this agrees that which Luke cites,4.18 saying: "The Spirit of the Lord upon me, because he has anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has he sent me," etc. Isa 61.1 In these testimonies here, you have the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. A few out of many; for I do not wish to turn over the entire scriptures of the old Testament.

So then, this faith with which we believe in God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we have received from God himself, being delivered to us by the prophets and patriarchs, but most evidently of all, declared by the Son of God himself, our Lord Jesus Christ, and his holy apostles. From this we now easily gather why it is that all the sincere bishops or ministers of the churches, together with the whole church of Christ, have ever since the apostles' time, maintained and held this faith in honour, with so firm a consent. It would be truly a detestable impiety to leave this catholic and true rule of faith, and to choose and follow one newly invented. There are extant even today, most godly and learned books of ecclesiastical writers, in which they have declared and defended this catholic faith by the holy scriptures, against all wicked and blasphemous heretics. There are extant sundry symbols of faith, but all tending to one end, set forth and published in many synodal assemblies of bishops and fathers. There is extant today, that creed commonly called the Apostles' Creed, learned and repeated by the universal Church and all its members, both learned and unlearned, and by every sex and age. In it, we profess nothing else than what we have declared up to here: namely, that we believe in one God — the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And because this consent of all the saints concerning this true faith has been so sure and firm ever since the beginning of the world, it was very well and godly provided by ancient kings and princes, that no man should once dare be so bold as to either call into doubt, or with curious questions and disputations, to deface or make intricate, this belief concerning the unity and trinity of the almighty God. [2169]


Of old among the Israelites, the man was struck through and slain, who passed beyond the limited bounds that the Lord had set. And we also have certain appointed bounds about the knowledge of God; to pass them is hurtful to us; indeed, it is punished with assured death.

God grant that we may truly know, and religiously worship, the high, excellent, and mighty God, even so, and even such, as He himself is. For up to here I have, as simply, sincerely, and briefly as I could, discoursed about the ways and means to know God, who is one in substance, and three in persons. And yet we acknowledge and freely confess, that in this entire treatise up to here, there is nothing spoken that is worthy of or comparable to His unspeakable majesty. For the eternal, excellent, and mighty God is greater than all majesty, and than all the eloquence of all men; so far am I from thinking that by my words I, in one jot, come near to his excellency. But I humbly beseech the most merciful Lord, that he will grant of his inestimable goodness and liberality, to enlighten in us all the understanding of our minds with sufficient knowledge of his name, through Jesus Christ our Lord and Saviour. Amen.


SourceThe Decades by Henry Bullinger

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