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certain it is, that the converted Jews have always pressed them upon their countrymen as possessing great weight, of which two instances may here be mentioned. Peter Alphonsi, an eminent Jew of the twelfth century, in a learned treatise, insists on the triple form of blessing enjoined to the priests as a plain evidence that there are three persons, to whom the great and incommunicable name, Jehovah, is applied. And another Jew, converted in England about sixty years ago, named John Xeres, in a printed letter to his unbelieving brethren, asks them how that frequent mention of God, by nouns of a plural number annexed to a singular verb, can be accounted for, unless on the trinitarian system, in which the Unity of the Godhead and the Trinity of the Divine Persons are both maintained. It is, perhaps, further worthy of remark, that the ancient Jewish High Priests, according to a tradition very current among their Rabbis, used a gesture, at the time of pronouncing the three-fold benediction, which showed plainly their sense of its meaning, for 'they lifted up their hands,' says the Rabbi Bechai, ' and disposed their fingers into such a form as to express a trinity.' Strange! that they, with only the Old Testament Scriptures to direct them, should have believed that sacred doctrine, which many in our day disbelieve under all the advantages of a complete revelation.
At this stage of our argument, however, my brethren, we must pause, since it would prolong the present discourse too much, were we to enter upon the far more copious and decisive testimony which the New Testament furnishes on the question before us. In our next we design to pursue the subject, by examining the proofs of our Lord's Divinity; then we shall consider the personal agency of the Holy • Spirit, and lastly we shall apply the whole to its practical connexion with Scriptural, primitive, and unadulterated Christianity. Meanwhile, my beloved brethren, let us not forget that if there is a mystery in the doctrine, it is what might and ought to be expected ; for ' who can by searching find out God, who can find out the Almighty to perfection?' All we can do is humbly and thankfully to accept the language of the Scriptures, and reverently to speak of God as he speaks of himself, remembering withal that as we cannot fathom the trinity of the soul, mind, and body in ourselves, nay, that every thing around us affords mysteries too great for any mortal comprehension, therefore it would be most preposterous to expect that the mode of subsistence of the Almighty Creator himself, could possibly be within the feeble compass of our reasoning powers. It is enough for us to know that it is revealed, and that it involves no absurdity nor contradiction. May we all have grace to receive it with the fullest assent of the understanding and the deepest reverence of the heart, that so, while the angels in heaven are prostrating themselves in the Divine presence, saying, 'Holy, Holy, Holy Lord God Almighty'—while the glorious company of Cherubim and Seraphim are worshipping the Spirit, and Him that sitteth on the throne, and the Lamb, we, too, on earth, may unite in the same blessed work of praise, believing in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and having life through his name.
1 Tim. in. 16. Great Ts The Mystery Of Godltness: God Was Mantfest Tn The Flesh.
We stated, in the previous discourse, the doctrine of the Christian Trinity—that there is but one living and true God, while in the unity of this Godhead there are three Persons, co-eternal, co-equal, and Divine, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. We considered, and, as we trust, satisfactorily answered the common objection, that it is unreasonable and contradictory to suppose each of these three Persons to be God, while yet there is but one God. We examined the proofs contained in the Old.Testament Scriptures, which plainly point to a plurality of persons in the Godhead, and which indicate, though obscurely, this plurality of persons to be three; and we showed, that, in speaking of the Deity as three and one, We Speak Of Him As He Speaks Of Himself, the only course in which it is possible for us to be correct, on a subject so mysterious and sublime. In the present discourse we are to examine the evidence of the New Testament in connexion with the Old, as it respects the Divinity of Christ. Our next will be devoted to the personality of the Holy Spirit, and we shall conclude this branch of our undertaking, by an application of the whole doctrine to the great result of its influence on practical religion.
But here, my brethren, though it be somewhat in anticipation, let me deprecate the influence of a sentiment which is, unhappily, but too prevalent on this subject. Many think the doctrine of the Trinity of little moment, under the mistaken idea that it is merely speculative, without any real effect upon true piety or virtue. But is there any just ground for this opinion? Can there be any true piety or virtue without true religion? Can there be any true religion without the worship of the true God? And can we worship the true God unless we acknowledge him according to the testimony of his own word? And if we cast aside any portion of that word, or construe it so as to make it speak erroneously of the very nature of the Godhead, is it not manifest, that, so far as our error may extend, we cease to worship the God of the Bible, and substitute a Deity, in * our notions of whom some things may be taken from Scripture, but others are derived from our own brain? And how can we be sure, that the Holy One of Israel will accept a faith which presumes to call his own account of himself into question, and ventures to cut it down to the standard of our weak and erring intellect?
The danger of mistake in this point, however, may be still more plainly apprehended, when it is applied to the person of our Lord Jesus Christ. We are told by the Rationalist, that he is a creature, and ought not to be worshipped as Divine. We say, with almost the whole Church of Christ, that he is indeed a creature, as respects his humanity, but that he is also the Eternal Word of God, the second person in the adorable Trinity, and that he ought, therefore, to be worshipped as Divine. Now here the difference is enormous. If the Rationalist is right, we are guilty of idolatry, because we raise a creature to an equality with God Almighty; but if the Rationalist is wrong, does he not stand exposed to awful peril? For who shall define the danger, consequent upon the denying the true character of the Redeemer, and refusing him that honor which is his due? Can that doctrine, then, be trivial or unimportant,—can a right understanding of it be uninteresting, or unnecessary, when a mistake in it may involve such fearful consequences; and can there be a subject in Theology more worthy of our best efforts to comprehend it aright,—more deserving of our humble and fervent prayer, that the Spirit of Truth himself may enlighten and direct us?
Let us proceed, therefore, my brethren, reverently to investigate the first branch of the subject proposed, by inquiring into the Divinity of Christ, and thus ascertain upon what ground we believe him to be not only man, but also 'God over all blessed for ever.' And we shall, perhaps, best effect this by showing, that the,same titles which are given to God in Scripture are also given to Christ; the same works are ascribed to both, the same blessings supplicated from both, the same worship paid to both, by all which it will be manifest that both must possess the same Divine nature, since there is but One living and true God.
1. To begin, then, with the titles of the Deity,—one of his incommunicable names is, the First and the Last. The Prophet Isaiah, declares, 'Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer, the Lord of Hosts, I am the First and the Last, and besides me there is no God.' But this name is assumed by Christ Jesus expressly, where he saith, < I am Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the Ending, the First and the Last.' The same Prophet, introduces the Deity calling himself the Saviour, saying, 'I am the Lord, and besides me there is no Saviour.' But St. Peter, calls Christ 'Our Lord and Saviour,' St. John calls him 'the Saviour of the