« AnteriorContinuar »
new force. 'The Lord he is God,' saith the Psalmist,' it is he that hath made us.' 'By the Word of God,' (i. e. Christ,) saith St. John, 'were all things made.' And saith Job, ' the Spirit of God hath made me.'
To the same Divine Trinity is attributed the quickening of the dead. Thus the Saviour himself declares, that ' The Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them;' and . immediately afterwards he adds, ' even so the Son quickeneth whom he will;' and again, saith the same blessed Teacher, ' it is the Spirit that quickeneth.'
The same expressions occur in relation to the communion of the saints. 'Truly,' saith St. John,' our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ;' to which St. Paul adds, ' The fellowship of the Holy Ghost be with you all.'
In a word, all Divine operations are attributed to the same adorable Trinity; for, as saith the Apostle, 'It is the same God which worketh .all in all;' and again, saith he, 'Christ is all and in all,' and again, 'all these worketh that one and the self same Spirit.' But enough has probably been cited on this branch of the Scripture evidence, and we shall add but a few passages more, to close the whole.
The Saviour, speaking to the doubting Nicodemus, saith, 'Verily, verily, we speak that we do know, and testify that we have seen, and ye receive not our witness.' Why does our Lord speak here in the plural number? Let him answer the question. '1 am one,' saith he elsewhere, 'that bear witness of myself, and the Father that sent me beareth witness of me ;' to which St. John adds, in his first Epistle, 'It is the Spirit that beareth witness.' Here are the three Witnesses which the same Apostle mentions in another text, saying, ' There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost, and these three are one.' Plainer and stronger testimony than this, language cannot furnish ; yet is it corroborated by one manifestation, which appealed to the very senses of the multitude. For on the day when our Lord was baptized, we read, that' the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape, like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.' It is probable, that our blessed Saviour alluded to this very occurrence, when he said, 'I bear witness of myself, and my Father that sent me beareth witness of me.' And certain it is, that a clearer evidence of the Trinity could scarcely be imagined. The Father, invisible, speaking from heaven—the Son, in mortal form, standing on the bank of the river Jordan—and the Spirit, in the emblematic shape of a dove, descending upon him. Here were the three Witnesses again; and if they were thus manifested on earth, how evident it is, that after the ascension of the Redeemer, they must continue to 'bear record in heaven.'
There can be but little wonder felt by any, upon even a slight survey of this mass of proof, in finding the doctrine of the Trinity placed at the very threshold of the Christian Faith ; so that no man should be counted a disciple, who was not solemnly baptized into this great and all important mystery. 'Go ye into all the world,' saith the Lord, after his resurrection, 'and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world :'—a passage which is, of itself, a sufficient evidence of the Trinitarian system, though there were not a second like it, in the whole word of God. » It may perhaps be proper, before we leave the subject, that we notice the objections sometimes made against the word 'Person,' and the term 'Trinity,' on the alleged ground, that these words are not found in Scripture, and therefore ought not to be used by the Church. But why censure us for using language derived from the earliest ages of the Christian religion, and consecrated by nearly seventeen centuries of veneration? If the doctrine, indeed, be not revealed, we are justly open to rebuke; but if it be— so long as words are the signs *of our ideas, and modern ingenuity cannot devise a better substitute—it would seem a reasonable dictate of good sense to let these ancient landmarks of orthodoxy alone. The Church is not given to change, nor ambitious of the praise of invention. Old doctrines—old names—old customs'—she retains with steadfast affection. Dignified by the appellation of his bride, by that God who is 'unchangeable,' she would humbly endeavor to resemble, as far as possible, the character of Iter Lord; and hence she never avoids—but seeks for—the 'old paths,' that she may walk therein.
It only remains that we state, briefly, the reason for <jre distinction which appears, in the Trinitarian doctrine, between the generation of the Son, and the procession of the Spirit from the Father. And this reason, my brethren, is precisely the same which supports the whole, namely, the authority of the word of God. The Scriptures speak of the mystical relation between the First and Second Persons, as the relation of the Father to his only begotten Son. The same Scriptures speak of the Holy Ghost as proceeding from the Father, and sent from the Father by the Son. And the Church—the faithful echo of the Scriptures—repeats their language, without presuming to define, or to describe the nature of a distinction, which is not only altogether beyond the reach of mortal apprehension, but into which it is probable that the highest Archangel might seek to penetrate in vain.
Such, then, my brethren, is a brief review of the Scriptural doctrine, on this most vital point of our holy religion,— that in the un ity of the Godhead, there are three Persons of the same substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost; that each of these is Divine and truly God, yet that there is but one God; that in the economy of man's salvation, the Father is usually styled the Creator,—the Son, in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Redeemer,—and the Holy Spirit, the Sanctifier of our race; although there is, at the same time, a concurrence and unity of design, in all things, amongst the Divine Three. Such is the result of our examination into the testimony of Scripture, and such is the faith of the Universal Church, from the earliest period until the present day. True, it is a mysterious doctrine, altogether above the reach of our feeble intellect to explain, by any human imagery; for 'to what similitude shall we liken God, or with what comparison shall we compare him?' Whatever illustrations, therefore, we have used in the progress of these discourses, must not be understood as intended to shed any light on the ineffable nature of the Deity. Far be from us the presumptuous and perilous attempt. More easy would it be for the poor earth-worm to speculate aright about the faculties and powers of the human race ; for what is the difference between the meanest insect and ourselves, in comparison to the infinite distance between us and the Creator? But although we do not dare to be wise in this high subject above what is written, nor venture one step beyond the plain authority of the Word of God, yet we have used some illustrations to show you, that the doctrine is totally free from contradiction, and that the objections which the infidel scorner and the deluded rationalist advance so boldly against it, are capable of an easy refutation on the mere principles of human reason. We shall now, in conclusion, apply the subject to the language of the text, where the Apostle prays, ' The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.'
1. Remember, then, my brethren, that man, created originally in the likeness of his Maker, and pronounced good, yea, 'very good,' sinned voluntarily, and fell under the sentence of Divine condemnation. Remember that such as he became by transgression, we are by nature, fallen, degenerate, and depraved. And fearfully has this evil nature been developed in our lives, by evil thoughts, words and deeds innumerable, so that we are utterly condemned under that awful denunciation, ' Cursed is every one that continueth not in all tilings written in the Book of the law, to do them.' That curse is upon us all, young and old, male and female, bond and free; and we are altogether destitute of help or hope within ourselves, to bear us up against the storm of Almighty wrath and indignation.
But eternal thanksgiving to the mercy of the Most High, that we are not left to perish. The help that the wide 'world could not afford, was laid upon One ' mighty to save,' even our Lord, Jesus Christ. He, the everlasting Son, the Word of the Father, in Divine compassion towards our ruined world, left the throne of his glory, and shrouded his celestial majesty in mortal form, that he might be a substitute for sinners. For our sakes he became a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief; for our sakes he was bruised, •mitten of God, and afflicted. For our sakes he earned the bright rewards of perfect and sinless obedience, on the one hand, and stooped to the agony of the cross, as if he were a vile malefactor, upon the other; and in recompense of his righteousness, and by virtue of the great atone