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Ghost should be omitted, whose gifts were at that instant poured on the converts, or the name of that God the Father, whom the influence of that Spirit impelled them to magnify ? Surely this were incredible. It is then obvious, that to be baptized in the name of the Lord, is merely a brief expression, denoting most naturally the entire form prescribed by our Lord, from its most peculiar and distinguishing part. Belief in God the Father, might have been part of the convert's original religion; belief in the Holy Spirit alone, might have been mistaken for an acknowledgment of the gifts of the Holy Spirit ; but to be baptized in the name of Christ, implied unambiguously the belief in a person distinct from the Father, and a person by this solemn rite associated with him and the Holy Ghost, as partaking his divinity; and therefore, this expression briefly and accurately denoted the entire form which our Lord prescribed. To affirm therefore that this entire form was not uniformly employed, is a vain subterfuge which serves but to - expose the fallacy of the opinion it is adduced to support, and affects not the force of the argument, that the three names thus united in this solemn rite, must therefore express three divine and equal persons forming the one Godhead, which we are bound to believe in, worship, and obey.
This most important conclusion derives additional and powerful evidence, from an independent though similar argument, founded on the forms of benediction, with which St. Paul frequently commences and concludes his epistles, particularly that remarkable one concluding the second epistle to the Cora inthians, in which he prays, “ The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all, amen.”* If this be considered as a prayer, it is evidently addressed to the three persons of the Godhead, as forming one united object of faith and adoration. If it be merely a solemn wish, that the blessings it enumerates may be enjoyed by the devout Christians, for whom the inspired apostle is interested, still it recognizes three great blessings, as flowing from three distinct sources, even the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all united in the great work of redeeming and blessing the true followers of Christ, though each contributing his distinct part in effecting this scheme of divine mercy: while the usual order of the names being departed from, so as to place that of Christ first in the series, shows how completely all ideas of his inferiority in nature, were excluded from the apostle's mind. This benediction is also evidently designed as an example, and an encouragement to all Christians, to implore the same blessings for each other, from the same divine sources; and must therefore habituate the pious, to look up to these three persons as united in Godhead, though distinct in operation.
* 2 Cor. xiii. 14.
I must here repeat an observation made before, that it could never occur to any plain unprejudiced mind, that of the three names thus united, both in the baptismal rite, and in the apostolic benedictions, one meant the supreme God, a second, a created and therefore infinitely inferior being, and the third, no distinct person or being whatsoever, but merely the miraculous spiritual gifts conferred upon the first Christians. Yet such is the sense maintained by Unitarian commentators,* with this singular addition, “that it is improper to use this text as a form of benediction in public assemblies, because it is improper to express a wish for the participation of those spiritual gifts, which were peculiar to the apostolic age, and which have been long since withdrawn." How chilling and heart-depressing is this system of opinions to the humble Christian--thus shutting him out from the communion of the Holy Spirit, and all those precious influences of divine grace, which alone can renew and sanctify his soul ! How contrary to the cheering promise of our divine Lord to his faithful followers, “I will be with you always, even to the end of the world.” But of this promise and this hope also, these interpreters would rob us; extending this promise of our Lord "only to the end of the age;" that is, (as they explain it,) “ to the end of the Jewish dispensation, until the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple-soon after which," (say they,) “miraculous powers were withdrawn, and no personal appearances of Jesus Christ recorded.” | As if (even taking their own meaning of the term, “ to the end of the world,”) the
* Vide Note to 2 Cor. xiii. 14, in the improved version of the N. T, by the Unitarians.
+ Vide Note on Matt. xxviii. 20, in the improved version.
Jewish dispensation was to terminate with the destruction of the temple; as if the Jews were not still preserved under the peculiar direction of a controlling Providence, to bear witness to the prophecies, and to the truth of revelation, until the fulness of the Gentiles being come in, shall make way for the re-admission of the Jews into the church of God, and “ Christ shall be all in all;" and, with a still more glaring inconsistency, as if all the superintending care of our divine Lord over his Church, all divine assistance to diffuse the Christian faith, to assist believers in fulfilling their baptismal covenant, and enable the ministers of the Gospel to teach, and the world to learn “the observance of all things whatsoever our divine Lord commanded;" as if all this, the very vital principle and support of Christian faith and piety, was to cease and expire, within forty years after our Lord's appearance on earth, before his church had any where firmly fixed its roots, before the empire of idolatry had, in any one nation, or country, been finally overthrown-such is this gloomy system! Happily it is as repugnant to the rational interpretation of the Scriptures, to the truth of history, and the dispensations of Providence, as it is inconsistent with the brightest views of faith, and chilling to the warmest feelings and most ennobling hopes of piety.
I have directed your attention to the benediction of St. Paul, recognizing equally, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because it is most exactly correspondent to the declaration of our divine Lord contained in the text. But, with respect to the divinity of our adorable Saviour, it is equally decisive to remark, that this great apostle, in whose recollections that divinity seems ever uppermost, a never-failing source of joy and hope and devotion, begins every one of his epistles* (that to the Hebrews only excepted) with imploring, as the highest blessing he could bestow on the pious converts to whom he addressed these epistles, “grace and peace,” or “grace, mercy, and peace be with you all, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”. Is it not then as certain as the word of inspiration can render it, that these invaluable blessings, which assuredly God only can bestow, are to be eqally expected, and equally to be implored from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour ? This the apostle distinctly declares, when he prays for his converts among the Thessalonians; “ Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, who hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work."* Therefore, both the Father and Christ, the Son, are equally the objects of that faith and adoration, that gratitude and love, which can be due only to God; and, therefore, they are equally God. Or perhaps it may be more accurately true to say, that the great blessings here prayed for are not to be expected or implored from either of these divine persons separately from the other; but that as their Godhead is one, and their union in that Godhead complete, so also their union in the great work of redemption, and the parts they act in it, though distinct are yet inseparable, so that grace, mercy, and peace are to be looked for only from both united, or from God the Father, through the mediation of our Lord Jesus Christ. Is it not also evident, from the constant, affectionate, and fervent repetition of this blessing in this unaltered form by the apostle, that this great truth of the divinity of our Redeemer, and his union with God the Father, is not merely a speculative dogma, necessary indeed to our entrance into the church of Christ by baptism, but which may be afterwards neglected, or forgotten; but, that as with the holy apostle, so with us, it should be ever uppermost in our recollection, as a source of faith and hope, of gratitude and love, and adoration to those divine persons, equally united in the majesty of the Godhead, and also equally united in the work of our salvation.
* Vide Rom. i. 7; 1 Cor. i. 3; 2 Cor. i. 2; Galat. i. 3; Ephes. i. 2; Philip: i. 2; Coloss. i. 2; 1 Thess. i. 1 ; 2 Thess. i. 2; 1 Tim. i. 2; 2 Tim. i. 2; Titus, i. 4; Philenon, i. 3.
N. B.- From this enumeration, the epistle to the Colossians is to be omitted, according to Griesbach, who omits the words, “and from the Lord Jesus Christ,” in the second verse; and in the first to the Thessalonians, he questions the genuineness of the entire clause, “ from God the Father, and the Lord Jesus,” &c. But when we reflect how decidedly his authority establishes the genuineness of the clause, in eleven epistles of St. Paul, we may omit the two instances he objects to, without weakening the force of the argument.
It would be an unpardonable omission in this argument, not to observe, that the benediction thus imploring "grace, mercy,
• 2 Thess. 2. 16, 17.
and peace from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ,” as inseparably uniting in the divine majesty of the Godhead, and in redeeming love, is not peculiar to St. Paul. It is adopted by St. John the beloved apostle : “grace be with you,” says he, “mercy and peace from God the Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, in truth and love."*
Thus also, he affirms most distinctly, that the Father and Son are inseparably united as objects of that faith, which is essential to salvation. “ Whosoever transgresseth,” says he, "and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God; he that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son." Thus also St. Jude in his epistle, short as it is, uses the same blessing in substance, though not exactly in phrase.
66 Jude," says he, "a servant of Jesus Christ, to them that are sanctified by God the Father, and preserved in Jesus Christ, and called, mercy unto you, and peace and love be multiplied.”+ And in the close of his exhortation, “to contend earnestly for the faith once delivered to the saints," he unites the Three Persons of the Trinity, so as to prove they are equally the objects of that faith, and equally, though distinctly engaged in the work of redemption. For thus he exhorts : “But, ye beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ, unto eternal life.” Thus also, St. Peter, addressing the collective body of Christians, calls them, “those who have obtained like precious faith with us, through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;"I thus uniting them in the power of bestowing righteousness or justification, which is surely an incommunicable power of the moral Ruler of the world, the supreme God. And he adds, “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you, through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus, our Lord.”
We thus have proved, how accurately all the apostles fulfilled the injunction of our Lord in the text which formed the subject of this discourse. Not only did they baptize men every where, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ; but they perpetually inculcated on them this great truth, that these divine
* 2 John, v. 3.
+ Jude, 1, 2, 20, 21.
12 Peter, i. 1, 2.