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OF THE DIVINE TRINITY AND DIVINE UNITY, AS PERFECTLY COMPATIBLE WITH
WITH EACH OTHER, AND BOTH MEETING IN THE ONE PERSON OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST.
BY THE REV. M, SIBLY.
Zechariah xiv. 9. “And the Lord shall be king over all the earth, in that day the
Lord shall be one, and his name one." “In that day,” are expressions, that frequently occur in the prophetical part of the Holy Word. Hereby is always indicated that the subject treated of is the advent of the Lord. Sometimes the subject is concerning his first advent, in person; sometimes cogcerning his second, in and by his Word; and sometimes concerning both.
The declarations contained in our text, may be considered as baving more especial reference to his second advent, as, until this period, the predictions herein were not verified in that ample manner, as is now the case in the Lord's New Church.
In the primitive times of the church established at our Lord's first advent, however Jehovah might be considered to be one, still there was a distinction taken between him and his name.
This was the case, whether we consider his name to have reference to his divine humanity, or to that essential divine quality which enters into, and is, as it were, the soul of, all other divine attributes and perfections.
The primitive Christians acknowledged the Lord born into the world, to be the Son of God, and one with the Father; still it does not appear that they had those clear ideas of the unity of the godhead, as the Lord has given in this latter day glory, for the establishment of his New Jerusalem, or True Christian Church, in the world ; nor could the Lord, at his first advent, remove all the darkness that enveloped the human mind. The transition from the gross darkness that covered mankind into the marvellous light now to be enjoyed, would have induced, upon their spiritual eyes, a state of incurable blindness.
That this benighted state of the church and of the world, was not always to continue, surely our Lord's own declarations to his disciples, recorded by the Evangelist John (xvi. 25), fully demonstrate : “These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs; but the time cometh, when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but I shall shew you plainly of the Father." Our happy eyes are blessed to behold the dawn of that auspicious day. We are favoured to have those clear views of our God, that at once banish all incertitude and perplexity concerning who is the proper object of religious worship, adoration, blessing, and praise. In the New Church that the Lord is now establishing on the earth, the Lord himself is emphatically become the king; and this is the day in which the Lord is one, and his name one.
That the God of the universe is one, is acknowledged by every man possessed of any religion, who uses his rational and intellectual faculty. Except the God of the universe were one, the vast fabric of creation could not be sustained in existence. To have a conception of more than one God is to make as many first causes as gods, which is impossible to be. The human mind revolts at the idea as idolatrous. Moreover, there must be as many centres of the divine attributes, and of the divine operations, as there are gods, the conception whereof brings the mind into a perturbed and distracted state.
Me thinks I hear it said, that the first,—the old Christian church acknowledges one God. But let it be asked, whether the doctrine she promulgates, that there are three distinct and separate persons in the godhead, each whereof singly and by himself is God and Lord, does not impress upon the mind an idea of as many gods? We fear this cannot be prevented; and so, it appears, did the framers of the Athanasian creed conceive ; wherefore they inserted therein this unaccountable article, that although man cannot, from the doctrine of that creed, prevent his mind-his interior thought, from figuring forth to himself three gods, yet he is not so to pronounce with his lips ; whereby the internal cogitations, and the external, are allowed to be at variance with each other.
The case is otherwise when the mind's eye is directed to one God only. The mind then has, as it were, a central sun to look unto, that sends forth its illuminating rays to its utmost boundaries, wherefrom consolations infil the bosom of that man who can receive this one Lord and God, as his Creator, his Redeemer, his Regenerator, and his Illuminator, which are neither few nor small.
That there is one God, that God is one in whatever possible view we can take of him, is expressly taught in the most decided language of holy writ. In Deuteronomy vi. 4, Moses makes this proclamation to his people; “ Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one Lord.” This scripture our Lord was pleased to recognize in the days of his humanity, adding thereto, “ And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all sool, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. And thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments bang all the law and the prophets.” (Mark xii. 29, 30, 31 ; Matt. xxii. 40.)
This doctrine of the divine unity is also taught by our blessed Lord, in his instruction to a young man, who accosted him with the interrogatory, “Good master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” Our Lord's answer to him is, “Why callest thou me good? There is none good but one, that is God [or, there is none good except the one God] ; but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments."
: Besides these express declarations of the divine unity, the same doctrine is contained in every page of the sacred volume ;throughout every page thereof the God of the Word speaks to us in the singular number. The precepts of the decalogue commence, “I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt. Thou shalt have no other gods but me. I, the Lord thy God, am a jealous God : shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me, and keep my commandments.” The demonstration of the unity of God is not confined to a few passages of holy writ; it is to be deduced from the general tenor thereof, from beginning to end.
We are thus strenuous in stating and corroborating the divine unity, because hereupon depends the quality of the doctrine of the church, Wheresoever the unity of God is affectionately and rationally assented unto, without any reservation, according to the plain scriptural statement thereof, the many erroneous doctrines that have crept into the Christian church, will inevitably fall to the ground. If God is altogether one, He is one in person ; He is one in essence; He is one in operation. The same God that is the Creator is also the Redeemer, the Sanctifier, and the Regenerator of his people.
In him likewise is contained the divine
trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, with every other divine attribute as well as every divine and human perfection.
If God is one, we say, in the first place, that he is one in person. According to the popular hypothetical doctrine of the day, the one deity is split into three distinct and separate persons; but in searching through the sacred volume, from beginning to end, we do not find therein the term persons ever applied to the deity. We discard it, therefore, as altogether onscriptural, and as tending to lead the mind into idolatrous ideas.
As is well known, the essential name of the God of the Old Testament is Jehovah. Thus the before-cited scripture reads from the Hebrew original, “ Hear, O Israel, Jehovah thy God, Jehovah is one.” Also, our present text, “And Jehovah shall be king over all the earth; in that day Jehovah shall be one, and his name one." In our authorized Bible, this general Old Testament naine of the deity, is usually rendered Lord; and, to distinguish it from any other Hebrew name, that might be similarly translated, is printed in capital letters.
That Jehovah was the proper name of the one, only, living, and true God, under the Old Testament dispensation, becomes demonstrated from the divine declaration, by the prophet Isaiah (xlii. 8) : “I am Jehovah, that is my name, and my glory I will not give to another, neither my praise to 'graven images.” Whence it is manifest, that this divine name pertains to none other, than the one Lord and God of heaven and earth.
If we attend to the following scriptures, we shall find that this one God, whose pame alone is Jehovah, promises, in the fulness of time, to become the Saviour and Redeemer of the fallen human race: “All flesh shall know, that I, Jehovah, am thy Saviour and thy Redeemer” (Isaiah xlix. 26) : “ Thus saith Jehovah, the king of Israel, and his Redeemer, Jehovah of hosts, I am the first, and I am the last, and besides me, there is no God" (xliv. 6): “ It shall be said in that day, Behold, this is our God, we have waited for him, and he will save us ; this is Jehovah, whom we have expected” (xxv. 9): “The voice crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah; Behold, the Lord Jehovih shall come with strong hand, and shall feed his flock like a shepherd" (xl. 3, 5, 10, 11): "Jehovah of hosts is his name ; and thy Redeemer, the holy one of Israel ; the God of the whole earth shall he be called" (liv. 5): “Behold, the days come saith Jehovah, that I will raise unto David a righteous branch ; and a king shall reign and prosper; and this is the name whereby he shall be called, Jehovah our righteousness”(Jer. xxiii. 5, 6). These scriptures incontestibly prove that it was Jehovah himself, the one and only God of heaven and earth, who, in the fulness of time, came into the world, in an assumed humanity, to be the Redeemer and the Saviour of his people from their sins.
With these glorious declarations of the Old Testament, let us connect, in our contemplative minds, the following from the New. It is recorded in the gospel by Matthew (i. 23), that the Lord about to be born into the world, “should be called Emanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Herein we are most decidedly taught, that, in the Lord born into the world, were sulfilled all the prophetic annunciations of the advent of Jehovah to be the Redeemer and Saviour of the fallen human race, thus, that it was the one and only God of heaven and earth, whose name alone is Jehovah, who made his advent into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ.
Surely, this doctrine is corroborated by the teaching of Paul in his first epistle to Timothy (iii. 16); “ Great is the mystery of godliness, God was manifest in flesh.” Also, by his declaration in his first epistle to the Corinthians (v. 47): “The second Adam is the Lord from heaven."
The Lord born into the world, the Son of God, his humanity, baving been conceived of the essential divinity, was, as to his life and soul, the very Jehovah; and the assumed humanity was, at length, glorified and made divine ; so that at the divine human ascension, and since, Jehovah God exists in divine human form, the visible object of love, faith, obedience, and worship, to angels and men. Whether we say, Jehovah God in his divine humanity, or, our Lord Jesus Christ, it is one and the same; for, except in the person of Jesus Christ, Jehovah God is altogether unapproachable and inapprehensible.
Thus the Lord's New Church confidently asserts, upon the veracity of divine revelation, upon the Word of God himself, given purposely to instruct us in knowledges respecting himself and the way of salvation by him, as highly as our human capacities can apprehend divine subjects: That God in person is one ; that he was so from eternity, is so through time, and will be so to eternity. That from eternity the one and only Jehovah God existed in first principles of humanity, which, in time, he was pleased to bring forth into the last, for the accomplishment of our redemption. This ultimate humanity he was pleased to glorify