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one person, can be attributed to either of the others. There are such things ascribed to the Father, which cannot be ascribed to the Son or Spirit ; and there are such things ascribed to the song. as cannot be attributed to the Spirit or Father, so likewise there are such properties ascribed to the Spirit, as are never given to the other two.
The Father is declared to beget the Son. Thus speaks the Psalmist : “ Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee.” This is repeatedly applied to Jesus Christ in the New Testament, and he is often stiled the only begotten of the Father. Neither of these personal characters can be applied to the Spirit. “ The « Father sent the Son into the world to take flesh upon him, and “ to be born of a woman. The Son became fleshi, and dwelt " among us." But neither the Father or the Spirit ever became flesh. The Spirit is said to be given or sent by the Father and the Son, and to proceed from them ; but the Father or Son are never said to be sent by the Spirit, nor to proceed from him. This is sufficient to show that there are properties, operations, and conduct ascribed to each of those divine persons, and not common to all, and in these they stand distinguished one from another.
I shall now go on to bring forth the more direct proofs in favor of the doctrine of the Trinity, both from the old testament and the new. The old testament was, in many respects, a dark dispensation ; but the saints were saved under it, by that grace and mercy which it revealed. They had not those full, clear, and spiritual discoveries of divine things, which are afforded to the people of God under the new. And among other things reveal. ed to them more darkly than to us, was the doctrine of the Trinio ty. However, they believed in the mercy of God, through a Mesiah who was to come, and to whom the ends of the earth were to look for salvation. And this manifested that they had some knowledge of a plurality of subsistences in God. They daily read in their scriptures, that the name wbich we translała God, is, in the Hebrow, in the plural number, and this must
i have given to the serious and attentive mind, some glimmering apprehensions of some distinctions in the Godhead; especially when they met with the terms creators, makers, &c. frequently in the plural in such places as these : “Remeinber thy Creators, “in the day of thy youth. Let Israel rejoice in his Makers ; "one saith, where is God my Makers 2" Thy “ Makers is tly “ Husbands," and various other places, to the same effect.
But a plurality of persons in one God was fully intimated to the ancient saints, when God says, “ Let us make man." And after the fall, “ The Lord God said, behold the man is becone " as one of us." This is a very strong and distinguishing expresa sion in favor of there being more persons in the Godhead than one. Remarkable is that sentence recorded by the prophet Isaiah : “ Also I heard the voice of the Lord saying, whom shall I send, “and who will go for us?" Here Father, Son, and Spirit seem evidently to be denoted, I as one God, and us as three persons. The same prophet elsewhere says, “The Lord God and liis “Spirit hath sent me." Whether saith David, “Shall I go from "thy Spirit ?" And « God, thy God, hath anointed thee with “the oil of gladness above thy fellows." This is particularly ap-. plied to Christ in the epistle to the Hebrews. Here we find God anointing, and Christ Jesus receiving the same. Job seemed to have a clear understanding of this doctrine, when he declares, “I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the “ latter day upon the earth ; whom I shall see for myself, and “my eyes shall behold, and not another.”
But we proceed to the more full and perfect display of this, as well as most other spiritual things in the new testament. Here we are plainly taught the doctrine of a Trinity in an unity of Godhead. “ I came not of myself,” says Christ, “but of my Father who “ sent me.” Here is one coming, and another sending him. It would be contrary to all propriety of speech, and even to truth itself, for one to say that he sent himself, and that he came not
of himself. Our Lord'again says, “ I will pray the Father, and * he shall send you another comforter.” Here is now one person praying, a second prayed to, and a third to be sent. It would be a strange interpretation to'say, that Christ prayed to himself, that he would send himself as another comforter.
Further, a Trinity of persons is taught in the most express man. ner at the baptism of our Savioure “Jesus when he was baptised “ went up straightway from the water, and lo, the heavens were “ opened, and he saw the spirit of God descending like a dove, 66 and lighting upon him; and lo, a voice 'from heaven saying, " this is my beloved son, in whom I am well pleased.” Here is one going up from Jordan, one descending in the likeness of a . Dove, and one speaking from heaven. Surely if the most High had not designed to reveal to us a Trinity of persons, there would never have been such a representation made-unto us. Wherefore it was 'wont to be a common saying among the primitive christians, “Go to Jordan, and you will see the Trinity." Attend to this exhibition_here is God the Father, speaking in a voice of thunder ; behold God the Son, cloathed in all the humiliation of huanan nature, and see God the Holy Ghost, resting upon him in the form of a dove.
"The same thing is confirmed from the institution of christian baptism. This is commanded to be performed in the “ Name of " the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” Nothing has a higher tendency to lead us into the belief of a Trinity, than this divine institution. If there were not three personal distincrions in the Godhead, surely they would never be so explicitly mentioned in such a solemn act of worship, as our consecration to God in the holy ordinance of baptism. This ordinance is a standing monument in the church, that there are three persons in the Godhead. And to deny the Trinity, seems to be drawing nigh to renouncing christian baptism. Sure I ain, did I disbelieve this doctrine, I never would baptise more in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.
This doctrine is likewise established from this declaration, * When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you froin " the Father, even the spirit of truth which proceedeth from the « Father, he shall testify of me." In this passage, we have the distinct personal conduct of three, strongly expressed: the Holy Ghost, or Comforter, as coming and testifying of Christ; Christ as sending him, and being witnessed of by him ; and the Fathes as the person from whom he comes, and from whom he proceeds.
The same thing is clearly evinced from the apostolic benediction, which St. Paul gave to the Corinthian christians, “ The " grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the " communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” This benediction, comprehends all the graces and blessings necessary for the salvation or eternal life of guilty man—therefore, the Apostle particularly addresses the three persons of the Trinity. But St. Paul, in another place, most directly and explicitly declares this doctrine. “ There is one Spirit, one Lord, one God and Father " of all.” What can be more clearly or plainly expressed than this? Here is the Holy Ghost, the Lord Jesus Christ, and God the Father, each of them declared to be one. It is remarkable that the word one, is here three times repeated, and with great beauty and force applied to the three divine persons; so that with the utmost propriety, we may declare the God of the bible to be the three one God.
Lastly, to all these testimonies in support of three personal dis. tinctions in the Godhead, may be added the words of our text. “ For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the “Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.”
You will please here to observe, that I have quoted only a few of those scriptures where the three persons are distinctly mentioned. Time would fail me to produce all those passages which relate the personal conduct of the Father, the personal characters of the Son, where he is called Redeemer, Mediator, Son of God, &c
and the personal actions of the holy Spirit, as being a witness, sending forth the Apostles, forbidding them to preach in certain places, speaking in them, and dwelling in true believers. Every one who attentively reads his bible without prejudice or prepossession, must be effectually convinced, that there is a Trinity, three distinct subsistences, having communion in the same essence, or that there are three divine persons, and yet but one God.
It is vain and impertinent to object, that this doctrine is too deep and incomprehensible for created minds. Is not God himself, and every attribute and perfection of his nature, far beyond the comprehension of any mortal creature ? Who can explain tlie existence of God without a beginning ; the eternity of God with. out succession, an eternity past, and an eternity to come ; the immensity of God without extension; that he loves without passion, repents without change ; with whom that which is past is not gone, and that which is future is not to come? Three persons, in one indivisible essence, is not more mysterious and incom. prehensible, than these branches of the divine character. He who would attempt the explication of the nature and mode of existence of these things, would he not darken counsel by words without knowledge? Would he not prove himself a vain man, knowing nothing? God, in all respects, and in every view, is “ As high as heaven, what canst thou do? Deeper than hell, « what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the « carth, and broader than the sea."
Wherefore, my brethren, though we cannot comprehend, perfectly understand, or strictly explain any of these matters; though we cannot describe how far the Godhead is one, or say where the personal distinction in the divine essence takes its origin, yet being fully assured, that there are three persons and but one God, let us with our whole hearts believe and adore ; as what is reveal. ed is abundantly sufficient to make us wise to salvation.
I shall not at present detain your attention to a farther confir