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proper persons, for as yet we were not-we had no beingbut in the person of him who was afterward to become our representative, our Saviour in Christ Jesus.' Now the plan must have been laid, the covenant entered into, by the parties who have since been graciously pleased to concern themselves in its execution. Who these are, we cannot be ignorant. It was the Son of God, who took our nature upon him; and, in that nature, made a full and sufficient oblation, satisfaction, and atonement, for the sins of the world. It was the Father, who accepted such oblation, satisfaction, and atonement; and, in consequence, forgave those sins. It was the Holy Spirit who came forth from the Father and the Son, through the preaching of the word and the administration of the sacraments, by his enlightening, healing, and comforting grace, to apply to the hearts of men, for all the purposes of pardon, sanctification, and salvation, the merits and benefits of that oblation, satisfaction, and atonement.
Say no more, then, that the doctrine of the Trinity is a matter of curiosity and amusement only. Our religion is founded upon it. For what is Christianity, but a manifestation of the three divine persons, as engaged in the great work of man's redemption, begun, continued, and to be ended by them, in their several relations of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier, three Persons, one God? If there be no Son of God, where is our redemption? If there be no Holy Spirit, where is our sanctification? Without both, where is our salvation? And if these two persons be any thing less than divine, why are we baptized, equally, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost? Let no man therefore deceive you; "This is the true God, and eternal life.' [1 John v. 20.]
And while you suffer no man to deceive you, do not deceive yourselves. Benefits conferred require duties to be paid. Remember what the three divine persons have done for you, and forget not what they expect that you should do in return. For how little will it avail you to believe aright concerning the Trinity, if you live so as to displease the Trinity?—You know and believe in the true God; you do well. But let not that which is an honour to you, be any encouragement to dishonour God; the knowledge of whom can only serve to increase your condemnation, if you live in the practice of pride
and malice, envy and hatred, lust and intemperance, even as the heathen who knew him not. And though it be the faith of a Christian, which distinguishes him from the rest of mankind, yet that faith, to profit him, must appear in the conduct of his life; as love to a friend is best witnessed by a readiness to do him service. Without holiness no man shall see the Lord: none of the world's dross or impurity will be suffered to continue in his sight. And in this he is no hard master, reaping where he has not sown, and requiring the fruit of good works, without giving us strength and ability to bring them forth. He has provided for us the precious blood of the Lamb, and offered to us the assistance of his Holy Spirit, that we may be enabled to serve that true and living God, in whom we believe. If we are purged by him, we shall be clean; if he washes us, we shall be whiter than snow; and when the kingdom of God shall come, and his glory shall appear, we shall be prepared to behold his face in righteousness.
The sum of the whole matter, as St. Paul has wonderfully expressed it in a single verse, is this- Through Christ we have an access by one Spirit unto the Father.' [Ephes. ii. 18.] To the Father, with a due sense of this great honour and privilege, as sons of God, let us therefore address ourselves for pardon, and admission to our heavenly inheritance; O God, the Father of heaven, have mercy upon us miserable sinners.' But as we have no deserts of our own, no works of righteousness by which to claim his favour, and are entitled only through the sufferings and satisfaction of Christ, let us beseech him to intercede for us, and plead his merits with the Father; O God the Son, Redeemer of the world, have mercy upon us miserable sinners!' And since the benefits of his merits are applied, and our pardon sealed, and ourselves enabled to render an acceptable service, only by the operations and assistances of the Holy Spirit, let us implore his aid also; 'O God the Holy Ghost, proceeding from the Father and the Son, have mercy upon us miserable sinners!' Yet remembering, that, how various soever the economy may be, salvation is the one sole, undivided end and work of all; therefore to all let us address our earnest prayers and invocations, as to the great Power to whom we have consecrated ourselves and services; O holy, blessed, and glorious Trinity, three persons and one God, have mercy upon us miserable sinners!'
And thou, almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace by the confession of a true faith to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the divine Majesty, to worship the Unity; we beseech thee, that thou wouldest keep us stedfast in this faith; and evermore defend us from all adversities; who livest and reignest one God, world without end.
1 JOHN V. 7.- -For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these three are one.
[Text taken from the second Evening-lesson.]
THIS day being set apart to acknowledge our belief in the eternal Trinity, let us employ our present meditations upon that subject.
It must be confessed, that, by the malice of those who are enemies to all revealed religion, and are not content to possess their own infidelity in silence, without communicating it to the disturbance of mankind, the doctrine of the Trinity hath suffered very much, and made Christianity suffer along with it. For these two things must be granted: first, that men of wicked lives would be very glad there were no truth in Christianity at all; and secondly, if they can pick out any one single article in the Christian religion, which appears not agreeable to their own corrupted reason, or to the arguments of those bad people, who follow the trade of seducing others, they presently conclude that the truth of the whole gospel must sink along with that one article. This is just as wise as if a man should say, because he dislikes one law of his country, he will therefore observe no law at all; and yet that one law may be very reasonable in itself, although he does not allow it, or does not know the reason of the lawgivers.
Thus it hath happened with the great doctrine of the Trinity; which word is, indeed, not in scripture, but was a term of art invented, in the earliest times, to express the doctrine by
a single word, for the sake of brevity and convenience. The doctrine, then, as delivered in holy scripture, though not exactly in the same words, is very short, and amounts only to this, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are each of them God, and yet that there is but one God.
It must be allowed, that every man is bound to follow the rules and directions of that measure of reason which God hath given him; and, indeed, he cannot do otherwise, if he will be sincere, or act like a man. For instance: if I should be commanded by an angel from heaven, to believe it is midnight at noon-day, yet I could not believe him. So, if I were directly told in scripture, that three are one,' and one is three,' I could not conceive or believe it in the natural common sense of that expression, but must suppose that something dark or mystical was meant, which it pleased God to conceal from me and from all the world. Thus, in the text, There are three that bear record,' &c. Am I capable of knowing and defining what union and what distinction there may be in the divine nature, which possibly may be hid from the angels themselves? Again: I see it plainly declared in scripture, that there is but one God; and yet I find our Saviour claiming the prerogative of God in knowing men's thoughts; in saying, he and his Father are one;' and, before Abraham was, I am.' I read, that the disciples worshipped him; that Thomas said to him, My Lord and my God.' And St. John, chap. i., In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' I read likewise that the Holy Ghost bestowed the gift of tongues, and the power of working miracles, which, if rightly considered, is as great a miracle as any; that a number of illiterate men should, of a sudden, be qualified to speak all the languages then known in the world, such as could be done by the inspiration of God alone! From these several texts it is plain, that God commands us to believe there is a union and there is a distinction: but what that union, or what that distinc> tion is, all mankind are equally ignorant, and must continue so, at least till the day of judgement, without some new revelation.
But because I cannot conceive the nature of this union and distinction in the divine nature, am I therefore to reject them as absurd and impossible, as I would if any one told me that three men are one, and one man is three? We are told, that a man and his wife are one flesh: this I can comprehend the
meaning of; yet, literally taken, it is a thing impossible. But the Apostle tells us, We see but in part, and we know but in part; and yet we would comprehend all the secret ways and workings of God.
Therefore I shall again repeat the doctrine of the Trinity, as it is positively affirmed in scripture; that God is there expressed in three different names, as Father, as Son, and as Holy Ghost; that each of these is God, and that there is but one God. But this union and distinction are a mystery utterly unknown to mankind.
This is enough for any good Christian to believe on this great article, without ever enquiring any further. And this can be contrary to no man's reason, although the knowledge of it is hid from him.
But there is another difficulty of great importance among those who quarrel with the doctrine of the Trinity, as well as with several other articles of Christianity; which is, that our religion abounds in mysteries; and these they revile as cant, imposture, and priestcraft. It is impossible for us to determine for what reasons God thought fit to communicate some things to us in part, and leave some part a mystery. But so it is in fact; and so the holy scriptures tell us in several places. For instance, the resurrection and change of our bodies are called mysteries by St. Paul; our Saviour's incarnation is another; the kingdom of God is called a mystery by our Saviour, to be only known to his disciples; so are faith and the word of God by St. Paul: I omit many others. So that to declare against all mysteries without distinction or exception, is to declare against the whole tenor of the New Testament.
There are two conditions that may bring a mystery under suspicion. First, when it is not taught and commanded in holy writ; or, secondly, when the mystery turns to the advantage of those who preach it to others. Now, as to the first, it can never be said, that we preach mysteries without warrant from holy scripture. As to the second; it will not be possible to charge the Protestant priesthood with proposing any temporal advantage to themselves by broaching, or multiplying, or preaching of mysteries. Does this mystery of the Trinity, for instance, and the descent of the Holy Ghost, bring the least profit or power to the preachers? No, it is as great a mystery to themselves, as it is to the meanest of their hearers: and may