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“through him that we can have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Sinful creatures cannot approach to the Father in the same way that innocent creatures
The holy angels can approach to the Father directly without the mediation or intercession of Christ. But we must approach to the Father, in that new and living way which Christ has consecrated for us, through his atoning blood. Indeed, according to the economy of redemption, we can have nothing to do with God, our offended Sovereign, only as existing in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is only through Christ, that we have liberty of access unto the Father, and may come boldly unto the throne of grace for pardoning mercy. This renders it not only proper, but indispensable, that we should address and worship God, according to the personal distinction in the divine nature. For, it is only in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, our mediator and intercessor that the Father can consistently hear our prayers, accept our persons, and make us forever happy in the enjoyment of heaven.
IMPROVEMENT. 1. This discourse teaches us, that the doctrine of the Trinity is one of the essential and most important articles of Christianity.
It is universally allowed, that some doctrines of the gospel are more important, than others; but it is not so universally allowed, that the doctrine of the Trinity is a primary article of faith. Some deny the importance of this doctrine from one motive, and some from another. Some who really disbelieve the doctrine, choose to conceal their disbelief, by only calling its importance in question. Some who doubt whether the doctrine be true are very willing to speak of it as
a dark and unimportant point. And among those who profess to believe the truth of the doctrine, there are some who, for the sake of holding communion with the doubting and disbelieving, are disposed to discard it from the catalogue of the essentials and fundamentals of Christianity. But it is extremely absurd for any who admit the truth, to deny the importance, of the doctrine of the sacred Trinity. A more plain, or a more important, or a more practical doctrine, cannot be found in the whole volume of inspiration. It is as easy to conceive of three divine Persons, as to conceive of one divine Person, the only difficulty is to conceive how three divine Persons, should be but one divine Being. But this is the mystery of the doctrine, which it is neither possible nor necessary for us to understand. It is enough for us to believe, that there are three equally divine persons in the Godhead, and to feel and conduct towards each person according to his divine nature and peculiar office. This the man of the meanest capacity, as well as the most learned and acute divine, may and ought to do, because the doctrine of the Trinity is as plainly revealed in Scripture, as any other divine mystery. No man can seriously and impartially read the Bible, whether he believes it to be of divine inspiration or not, without finding the doctrine of the Trinity there. It is true, this, like several other important doctrines, is more clearly revealed in the New Testament, than in the Old; but it is so clearly revealed in both, that it cannot be denied, or explained away, without shaking the foundation of the gospel. For the whole scheme of redemption was not only devised and adopted by the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; but each person engaged to bear a distinct part, in carrying it into execution. If there be, therefore, any one doctrine of the gospel,
which may be properly called fundamenial, the doctrine of the Trinity may be properly called so, because the whole gospel is built upon it. Accordingly we find that those who deny the doctrine of the Trinity, do equally deny the doctrine of the atonement, and every other peculiar and important doctrine of Christianity, and bring it down to a level with mere natural religion. The doctrine of the Trinity is so fundamental to the gospel, that it cannot be denied or subverted, without denying or subverting the whole gospel. Nor is it less necessary and important in a practicul, than in a speculative view. All religious worship, true devotion, or vital piety depends upon it. No prayers, nor praises of ours can find acceptance with the Father unless they flow from the influence of the Spirit, and are offered in the name of the Son. We may as well hope to worship God in a right and acceptable manner, without believing and loving the the gospel; as without believing and loving the doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity. It is only in the belief and love of this great and fundamental truth, that we can so worship and glorify God, as to enjoy him forever. We ought, therefore, to hold the doctrine of the adoraable Trinity, in high estimation, and endeavor to transmit it pure and uncorrupt to the latest generations. In this light, orthodox christians in every age of the church have considered it, and never failed to give it a place in all their public Creeds or Confessions of faith. And though there have been divers Sects, who have partially or totally denied the doctrine; yet the great body of the most pure and pious christians have from the Apostles' days to the present time, treated and defended it, as one of the first principles of the Oracles of God; and generally denied christian communion and fellowship to those, who have openly embraced either the Arian, Socinian, Sabellian, or Unitarian error.
2. It appears from what has been said, that we ought to regard and acknowledge the FATHER, as the head of the sacred Trinity, and the primary object of religious homage. Though all the three Persons in the Godhead are equal in every divine perfection, yet they are not equal in respect to the order and the office, which they severally sustain, in the work of redemption. The Father is the first in order, and the supreme in office; and for this cause, we ought to present our prayers and praises more immediately and directly to him, than to either of the other persons in the Godhead. This is plainly intimated in the text.
. “Through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the FATHER.” We often read of Christ's praying unto the Father, but never read of the Father's
praying unto Christ. He taught his disciples to pray in the same form in which he prayed, and to say, “Our Father which art in heaven;" and to "ask the Father in his name,” for every thing they wanted. And how often did the Apostles offer up their devout and fervent prayers for others, to “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ?” This common mode of expression, in their addresses to the throne of grace, plainly implies, that they meant to acknowledge the Father, as the primary or supreme object of adoration. Though the heavenly hosts pay divine homage to the Son of God, yet they more immediately and directly address the Father in their most solemn and grateful devotions. “They say, blessing and honor and glory and power be unto Him that sitteth on the throne, and unto the Lamb forever and ever." These examples of Christ, of the Apostles, and of the heavenly Hosts, not only warrant, but require christians to address their prayers and praises to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as the primary object of dis vine homage and adoration. But,
3. Since God exists in three equally divine persons, there
appears to be good ground to pay divine homage to each person distinctly. Though the Father is most generally to be distinctly and directly addressed; yet sometimes there may be a great propriety in addressing the Son and Spirit, according to their distinct ranks and offices.
Christ said, “the Father would that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” Accordingly, Christ never rejected nor condemned the divine homage, which was repeatedly paid to him both before and after his resurrection. Stephen, we know, with his dying breath prayed and said, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” This, if there were no other instance of the kind recorded in scripture, would warrant us to pray distinctly and directly to Christ, as well as to the Father. It is true, we have no precept nor example for paying distinct and direct homage to the Holy Ghost; but his divine nature and office evidently render him a proper object of religious worship, and both justify and encourage us, to pray immediately and distinctly to him for his sanctifyi:ng guiding, and comforting influences. There appears to be the same reason for praying to our Sanctifier for grace, as to our Redeemer for pardon. And this has been the general opinion of orthodox christians, who have, from age to age, had their doxologies, in which they have paid distinct and equal adoration and praise to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
4. If we ought to acknowledge and worship the true God, according to the personal distinction in the divine nature; then we ought to obey him, according to the same distinction. We find somecommandsgiven by the Father, some by the Son, and some by the Holy Ghost. Though we are equally bound to obey each of these divine Persons, in point of authority, yet we ought to