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happened to Lot, happened also to many others.* And now let it be sufficient to have said these things, in favour of the explication of the ancients, and of other very excellent Divines of the Reformed Church. Nor do I imagine that equitable judges will blame me for having attempted to show, that those pious and learned men neither spoke inconsiderately, nor, by their arguments, did any prejudice to the good cause they undertook to maintain. But should any one think otherwise, it is not our province to contend with him. We shall use much stronger arguments than these with such a person."
I perfectly agree with the learned author whom I have quoted, that we have stronger arguments, wherewith to establish the great fundamental article of our faith, the doctrine of the Trinity; and should be sorry to build its truth on the foundation afforded by these chapters. But in such a review of the patriarchal theology, as my correspondence with you professes to take, it seemed improper to pass by this remarkable manifestation to the father of the faithful; and in the notice I felt constrained to take of it, I have suggested the interpretation of the Divine appearance which approved itself the most to my own mind. But, as I have before said, there are difficulties on every hypothesis which has been
* It had happened to Abraham just before.
framed; while that which our church has sanctioned, by her appropriation of Gen. xviii to her service on the day when she particularly calls her members to the duty of thankfulness to God, for that he has given them grace, by the confession of a true faith to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the unity;" that interpretation appears to me to comport most satisfactorily with the sacred text, and with the opinion both of the ancient Jews and of the Christian Fathers. I
modern commentators explode it ;* but I have met with no sufficient reason for abandoning it. It proposes nothing contrary to the analogy of the faith ; it builds on no excursion of the imagination. It draws its inference from a collation of different parts of the same narrative.
The only ground for its rejection that I can conceive, is a prevailing notion entertained by many that such explicit views as it supposes of Divine truth, were not vouchsafed to ancient believers. But if the doctrine of the Trinity be essential to a well founded hope in the great atonement, and to the enjoyment of Divine Influence, the knowledge of it was as necessary to the safety and comfort of the antediluvian and
* See Owen on Heb. xiii. 2. And the Christian Observer, Vol. iv. P. 131.
post-diluvian patriarchs as it is to our own. And if the doctrine of a plurality of persons in the Godhead was revealed in the august title of Aleim, and in other forms of words and things by which Jehovah from the beginning revealed Himself, why should it be thought incredible that that plurality should have been made known as a triunity. If the doctrine of the Cherubim, as advocated in some former letters, be correct, the Abrahamic vision of Three Divine Persons may be considered as a comment on it.
If, moreover, it be generally allowed, as I believe it is, that in the intended sacrifice of Isaac, on which I mean to employ my next letter, Abraham saw the day of Christ, and was gladdened by the sight; if he understood the meaning of that striking type, as I hope to prove that he did; why may it not be admitted that he was previously made acquainted, by a special Divine revelation, with the personal distinction in Deity, on which alone the doctrine of effectual atonement can be built, and without which the promised redemption must have been altogether unintelligible to his mind. God did not leave his seeking servants, even in the twilight of Revelation, to grope their way to peace and salvation without sufficient discoveries of that way in which He could be
just and yet the justifier” of the believer in the promised Seed of the woman, the source of every spiritual blessing. How could Abraham under
stand that one to descend from himself according to the flesh, should bless all nations, unless the Divine character of this universal Benefactor was made known to him ? Had he less information than his grandson Jacob, who, in his dying moments, professed his faith in the Goel-Angel, the Deliverer from all evil ?
We know that Abraham and the other faithful patriarchs, before and after him, “ died in faith," having embraced the promise of the Saviour who was to come, and that their faith produced the same practical fruit in conversion of heart to God which it now produces. Heb. xi. 13—16. But what is the principal object of faith? It is “the True God and Jesus Christ whom” He was then engaged by promise to send into the world, and whom “ He hath" since actually “sent.” The true God is JEHOVAH ALEIM, a name describing a plurality of persons in the Godhead; and it was by this name that He revealed Himself to Abraham. And if He had so revealed Himself by verbal language, is it any matter of surprise that He should, according to his usual and gracious mode of acting throughout both the patriarchal and Levitical dispensations, have illustrated that revelation by visible exhibition?
Every fresh view, my dear friend, which we can take of Divine compassion, as manifested to sinful man throughout the history of his fallen state, must give increased satisfaction to the
Christian mind, to which Christ is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, of all Divine Revelation. While in the words of the hundredth Psalm, (used in our Morning Service after the Second Lesson, in which a portion of the Gospel history exhibits the fulfilment of the promises, prophecies, and types of the former dispensation) the church proclaims her renewed assurance that the “ mercy" of the Aleim “is everlasting, and that His truth endureth from generation to generation;" what exultation should her members feel in recollecting the evidence, afforded from the time of the fall to our own era by successive revelations, of the glory of these Divine perfections! From Adam to Noah, from Noah to Abraham, from Abraham to the Exodus, and afterwards still more abundantly to the time of the coming of the Shiloh in the flesh, God “at sundry times and in divers manners," revealed His own merciful purpose, confirmed His promise concerning it, and comforted the hearts of his people whom he instructed to build their hope of salvation on that purpose and promise. The coruscations which gilded the morning af the patriarchal period, though swallowed up in the clear light of our own noon, should be gratefully remembered by us as preparatives to the brightness of the meridian sun.
Before I conclude, in order to prevent a misconstruction of what I have said, I beg to observe