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in all its bearings. We may hope to attain to a right judgment concerning things divine. For so the apostle declares in 1 Cor. ii. 12. “ Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit which is of God; that we might know the things that are freely given unto us of God.” A spiritual man understands in a way altogether different from a natural man. To a natural man, the great doctrines of grace appear to be “ foolishness :” a spiritual man sees Christ to be “ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” A right judgment concerning our conduct in the Church of God, is to be asked for, and may be expected, according to the exhortation of St. Paul, and his prayer on behalf of Timothy ; “ Consider what I say: and the Lord give thee understanding in all things.” (2 Tim. ii. 7.) A right judgment in human affairs may likewise be expected as the gift of God : “ For the Lord giveth wisdom; out of his mouth cometh knowledge and understanding. He layeth up sound wisdom for the righteous : he is a buckler to them that walk uprightly." (Proverbs ii. 6, 7.) In a word, they who are rooted and grounded in Christ, being not unlearned in the Scriptures, and not unstable in spirit, shall partake of Christ's fulness ! The right judgment which Isaiah predicted that Christ should have, every true disciple of his shall also possess, if he will pray for it: “ The Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him: the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the Lord : and shall make him of quick understanding in the fear of the Lord : and he shall not judge after the sight of his eyes, neither reprove after the hearing of his ears: But with righteousness shall' he judge the poor, and reprove with equity for the meek of the earth.” (Isaiah xi. 2-4.)
But we ask also for the consolations of the Spirit ; “ that we may evermore rejoice in his boly comfort." He is especially entitled, the Comforter; and the kingdom of God is described as being to us righteousness, joy, and peace in the Holy Ghost. We may observe the force of this truth in several respects. Thus, when persons are taught by the Holy Spirit, and brought into the fellowship of Christ's true Church, peace of mind is vouchsafed to them, springing from a sense of pardon, acceptance, and the favour of their heavenly Father. “ All thy children shall be taught of God; and great shall be the peace of thy children.” In times of deepest affliction, there are consolations prepared for them : so the Psalmist expresses himself; “ In the multitude of my thoughts within me, thy comforts delight my soul.” (Psalm sciv. 19.) The healthy growth of the Church after a season of persecution, is attributed to this healing and soothing influence of the Spirit. “ Then had the churches rest throughout all Judæa, and Samaria, and Galilee : and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.” (Acts ix. 31.) When a backslider is recovered from sin, it is from the same Spirit that he receives restoring and healing grace; according to that earnest and pathetic prayer of David; “ Create in me a clean beart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me. Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me. Restore unto me the joys of thy salvation, and uphold me with thy free Spirit.” (Psalm li, 10–12.) MAY, 1842.
All this we ask “ through the merits of Christ Jesus our Saviour :" ascribing eternal life and dominion to him, in union with the Father, and with the Spirit. This great subject, however, of the co-equal dignity of the three persons of the Trinity, will come more fully under our view, when we consider the next Collect, which is that for Trinity Sunday.
This Collect has reference to the great doctrine revealed in Scripture, concerning the nature of God: the doctrine, namely, that he is Ove God in Three Persons. On this important subject we here make mention of our confession of faith : and we add a prayer for grace to continue stedfast in the faith.
1. First, we advert to our confession of faith. We acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity : and in the power of the Divine Majesty we worship the Unity. Both our minds and our lips are pledged to this declaration ; for us with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation." (Rom. x. 10.)
The glory of the eternal Trinity is a doctrine clearly established by Scripture. The form of words appointed by our Lord to be used at baptism, is a proof of this doctrine; we are baptized " in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.” (Matt. xxviii. 19.) In the name, not in the names, as though the three persons were not one Being. That phrase, “ the Name," is universally applied in Scripture to the Divine Being ; indicating all his attributes, perfections, and the godhead itself. The Apostolic Benediction exhibits the same truth; « The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” (2 Cor. xiii. 14.) This is a prayer, in which each single person of the godhead is invoked. And the office which is sustained by each one of them, is clearly shown in Ephes. ii. 18 : “ For through him (i. e. Christ) we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” Here is the Father reconciled to us, through the mediation of the Son ; while the Spirit works upon the hearts of believers, disposing and enabling them to approach this father in prayer, by that new and living way which Christ bath offered to us. The three persons are also clearly distinguished in the account of Christ's baptism by Job in the River Jordan. After being baptized, Jesus “ went up straightway out of the water : and lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him. And lo, a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” (Matt. iii. 16, 17.) The Father proclaims the dignity of the Son : and the Spirit rests upon him without measure.
There are several passages in the Old Testament, which from the clearer light thrown upon them by the New, are seen to relate to the doctrine of the Trinity. Thus, at the creation of Adam, it is related, (Gen. i. 26.) « And God said, Let us, snot, let me make man in our (not my) image, after our likeness." The benediction of Aaron
in Numbers vi. 24-26, where the name of Jehovah is thrice invoked, is considered by both Jewish and Christian commentators as an acknowledgment of the Trinity. In Isaiah vi. 3, the repetition of the word “ holy " three times by the seraphim, has the same signification. 6. And one cried unto another, and said, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts : the whole earth is full of his glory.” In like manner we read, that the four living creatures, mentioned in Revelations iv. 8, “rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, boly, Lord God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come.” The saints, who on earth were baptized in the name of the Trinity, and who, when on earth prayed through the grace given to them by the Trinity, will in heaven eternally sing these praises, “ Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts."
A great number of passages might be quoted both from the Old and New Testaments, wherein sometimes one, sometimes another of these divine persons, is separately spoken of, according to his office or operation. But we will merely advert to that one attribute of deity, which this collect mentions, namely, the eternity of God: “ the glory of the eternal Trinity.” In Psalm xc. 2, we read, “ Even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God.” In Exodus iii. 14, we read, " And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM bath sent me unto you.” That is to say, God is self-existent: he has his being from himself alone : and consequently, he must be eternal. It is in reference to this very name, that Christ adopts this language concerning himself, Joho viii. 58. “ Before Abraham was, I am.” The Apostle likewise (Romans ix. 5.) speaking of Christ, adds, “ Who is God over all, blessed for ever." The third person is declared to be eternal, in Hebrews ix. 14. ; “ Christ, through the eternal Spirit, offered himself without spot to God.”
But while we thus acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, we do also, in the power of the Divine Majesty, “worship the unity." The following passages of Scripture shew the unity of the godhead. First, the form of words at Baptism declares it, as we have already noticed : where the three Persons are spoken of under one name : «in the name.” Again, in Exodus vi. 4, it is written, “ Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD: " or, “ Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.” Christ declares, John x. 30, “ I and my Father are one." The very first of the ten commandments forbids us to acknowledge more than one God: “ I am the Lord thy God... Thou shalt have none other gods before me.” (Exodus xx. 2, 3.) And the general language of the Scriptures, even where the three Persons are mentioned or referred to, clearly shews that the unity of the godhead is to be understood : thus, in the passage already quoted, when it had been said, “ Let us make man;" it is immediately added in the next verse, (Genesis i. 27.) “ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created be him; male and female created he them." The creation of man was the work of " the Trinity in unity.”
Now this is, as the Collect declares it to be,“ the confession of a true faith.” It is the truth of Scripture. It is indeed something above our reason; but it is not contrary to our reason. That the soul and the body, being two things, should yet form one man, is a fact which our reason cannot explain ; yet is it a fact which every one of us knows. If we cannot explain our own nature, how shall we pretend to explain the nature of God? We believe, because it is revealed. We acknowledge, and we worship God, not according to our own notions, but according to the Scriptures of truth.
Moreover, in Him who is revealed to us, we find exactly such a God as we need. For, are we not sinners that have rebelled against our Creator and Father ? How can we refuse to seek reconciliation through that only way, which he himself hath appointed, the death of his Son ? Is not our carnal mind enmity against God, alienated from him by wicked works? How can we dare then to spurn the offer of his Spirit, who renews in believers the image of God ? Surely this is a God suited to our worst necessities. Let us not tread under foot the Son of God, or do despite unto the Spirit of grace!
Our making this confession of a true faith, is here attributed to the grace of God. For it is through his mere mercy that we are made acquainted with this doctrine. It is he who hath revealed himself: never could man by his own wisdom bave found out the Almighty. “ No man can say that Jesus is the Lord (that is, Jehovab,) but by the Holy Ghost.” (1 Cor. xii. 3.) And when Peter declared to our Saviour,“ Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;" Jesus answered, “ Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona; for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven.” (Matt. xvi. 16, 17.)
2. Let us now consider the prayer which we offer up, with reference to this doctrine : “ We beseech thee to keep us steadfast in this faith.”
Some persons of an infidel turn of mind, tell us that it is of very little importance what men believe, provided their conduct is good. One of our poets has ridiculed matters of doctrine, as if it were bigotry to defend them ; adding, · He can't be wrong, whose life is in the right.' But this is very profane. It springs from presumptuous enmity against God and against the Bible. The real truth is, that no man's life can be right, till his heart is right: and no man's heart can be right, till he knows God aright. Most earnestly therefore ought we to pray that he would enlighten us concerning the true faith, and then keep us steadfast in it.
Let us only reflect for a few moments, how many causes tend to shake men from their steadfastness. That men really are in great danger of letting go the true faith, is plain enough from the following facts. In the old world, what Adam had been taught by God, was utterly corrupted in the days of Noah ; at which time only one righteous family remained. What Noah taught was soon uiterly corrupted, so that Abraham almost alone represented the Church in his day. The revelation given to Moses was corrupted by the Israelites, who were continually following idols. The revelation made by Jesus Christ and his Apostles, was rejected by the Jews, and it has been foully corrupted by Mahomedans, by Socinians, and heretics of many descriptions : while all that has ever been known in the world concerning God, is corrupted by millions of idolaters. Some of our unhappy fellow-creatures deny the Trinity; others depart from the Unity. Sound Scriptural Christians alone uphold the lifegiving doctrine of the Trinity in Unity.
What then are the causes of want of faith, and want of steadfastness? We will briefly enumerate them. They are the natural bent of man's heart to depart from the living God; his natural love of a shewy, sensual religion : his pride of intellect, prying into things, which he cannot understand : ignorance of God's revealed word : “Ye do err, not knowing the Scriptures, nor the power of God :" forgetfulness of our great guilt, misery, and helplessness : the activity of heretics, who are stirred up by Satan to vex the Church, and beguile weak and unstable souls: to all which must be added, the cruel power of persecution. Meditating on these multiplied dangers, within us and around us, wbat cause have we to pray without ceasing, on behalf of ourselves and of the whole Church, " We beseech thee to keep us steadfast in this faith!”
“ And evermore defend us from all adversities." Here alone is safety. The world will soon pass away ; and it is full of woes while we are in it; woes, which do not diminish, but rather increase with a man's increasing years. Those alone are safe, who have God for their Father, Jesus for their Saviour, and the Holy Spirit for their Sanctifier. They are blessed, even in the midst of this present evil world : they are ready for death: and they have a joyful prospect of a glorious immortality.
We may very suitably close our remarks upon this Collect, with those beautiful words of St. Jude, wherein each person of the Godhead is referred to, and mention made of their several offices in the work of man's salvation : “ But ye, beloved, building up yourselves in 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.”
FIRST SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY.
The earnestness of a believer when approaching the throne of grace, is seen in the appeals which he makes, the pleas which he urges, and the petitions which he offers to his heavenly Father. Of all these we have an example in the Collect now before us.
1. The appeal here made is to God, as being “ the strength of all them that put their trust in him.” Innumerable are the passages of Scripture which prove the truth of this. If we turn to one single part, namely, the Book of Psalms, we shall find this character of God constantly exhibited. “I will love thee, O Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my bigh tower.” (Psalm xviii. 1, 2.) “ The Lord is my strength and my shield ; my heart trusteth in him, and I am helped : therefore my heart greatly rejoiceth, and with my song will I praise him. The Lord is their strength, and he is the saving strength of his anointed.” (Psalm xxviii. 7, 8.) Many similar passages might be