A Puritan Theology: Doctrine for Life in a Year:
[Thomas Goodwin (1600-1680)] also notes this principle of orthodoxy: “It is a certain Rule, that Opera Trinitas ad extra sunt indivisa, all their works to us-ward of Creation and Redemption, and whatsoever else, they are all works of each Person concurring to them. As they have but one Being, one Essence, so they have but one work.”
However, because they have distinct subsistences (modus subsistendi), the persons have several manners of working. Thus, while the Father is said to raise Christ (Rom. 4:24; Col. 2:12-13), it is also true that Christ raised Himself (John 2:19; 10:17-18), and the Spirit raised Christ (Rom. 8:11). Because “all Three Persons concur in every work,” the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are said to have raised Christ from the dead.
However, in raising Christ from the dead, His body “concurred nothing to it, for that was dead, but the Son of God, the Second Person, concurred and raised up that Body and Soul.”
John Arrowsmith (1602-1659) sums up the nature of external works (ad extra) in relation to the Trinity by insisting that these works are common to all three persons. The Father, Son, and Spirit all create; the will of God is the same in all the three persons because they share in the same essence.
However, “because they have difference Subsistencies, the Father a distinct Person from the Son, and the Son from the Holy Ghost, therefore, they have a distinct manner of working.” The unity of God is maintained as well as the distinction of the three persons, based on the idea of subsistence.
Goodwin, likewise, suggests that though the persons share in the same essence, because they have distinct personalities, the operation of each person “follows the distinction of their Existences and bears the resemblence of them.”
Therefore, the Father, as the fountain of the other two substistences, begins the work, the Son carries on the motion, and the Spirit, proceeding from both, “perfects, consummates, and executes the work” (1 Cor. 8:6).
(A Puritan Theology, p. 92)