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PRACTICAL INFERENCES FROM THE WHOLE
MY DEAR FRIEND,
I have at last brought the plan which I proposed to myself, in complying with your request, to a close: and lengthened as it is, I know not how I could have shortened it; though I might easily have extended it, either by introducing other parts of the patriarchal history, or by enlarging on those to which I have called your attention. I shall be glad to find that Patriarchal Theology, as illustrating our Christian system, has proved equally delightful to you, as it has done to my own mind.
Though I have endeavoured to execute the task
you have assigned me, and have finished what I had in view; yet I cannot lay aside my pen without pointing out to you some practical inferences which arise from the whole subject which has been before us. Such inferences, I conceive, naturally result from it, as are highly important in the Christian life ;-inferences which not only show the unity of that religion which God has revealed to man, in all times and in all places; but which prove the vitality of all its doctrines, the connexion of every member with the whole, and its essentiality to the perfection of the system in which it is contained. The scriptural system of Divine Truth resembles the natural body, as the latter is described in 1 Cor. xii. 14, &c. It consists of many members. And though some are essential to life while others are not so, yet all are required to the symmetry and beauty of the body; and all, with a view to their vitality and energy, must be pervaded by the same influence which connects and quickens the whole. I begin with the important doctrine of a Trinity of Persons in the unity of the Godhead; a doctrine maintained in both Testaments, and in both considered as a fundamental axiom of practical Divinity.
This momentous but mysterious doctrine is, I fear, regarded by many persons who admit its truth on the credit of Revelation, as being altogether of a theoretic character, and the belief of it as unconnected with “the life of God in the soul of man.” I take a very different view of its character and importance. It stands in close connexion with every other thesis in the Christian creed, and with all the exercises of the Divine life. And its relative association appears, to me,
to derive its best illustration from the analogy which I have described, and which I conceive to have been Divinely intended, between animal and spiritual life, their respective functions, and the influence by which they are severally originated and maintained. In that analogy I discover the rationale of our being baptised “in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" each of these Divine Persons having his gracious office to fulfil in the regeneration and progressive sanctification of the fallen soul, and all acting in unison for the accomplishment of the grand effect. Therein 1 find the best comment on the Apostolic Benediction,“the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost,”—compared with that which was prescribed to be pronounced by the Aaronic Priesthood, Num. vi. 24,—“Jehovah bless thee and keep thee; Jehovah make his face to shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee; Jehovah lift up the light of his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.”—“And they,” Aaron and his sons in succession, “shall put my name upon the children of Israel, and I will bless them." Both in the Aaronic Benediction and the form of Baptism, the communication of the threefold Name is the principal feature.
But I must be more explicit in stating the practical view which I take of the orthodox doctrine of the Trinity. You will recollect that
I have considered animal life as subsisting in three capacities, and as produced and supported by a threefold material agency. The necessity of vital air to its comfort and even to its existence is well known to the man who has been for a time inclosed in the chamber of a diving bell ; as is the necessity of vital heat to the frost-bitten traveller, whose limbs have been rendered torpid and useless by the extremity of cold. Nor is the importance of the other condition of the heavenly fluid less essential to sensation, though we are, perhaps, less acquainted with the nervous system than we are with the other branches of the animal economy. In the spiritual system, fellowship of the Holy Ghost" produces and maintains spiritual life, whose existence and enjoyments are inseparably connected with “the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God” the Father. This threefold life, which cannot subsist apart, arises from the threefold influence of a Triune Agent.
I shall not here repeat what I have already ventured to say on this mysterious subject in an early part of my correspondence. I advert to it again, merely for the purpose of recalling to your recollection the practical tendency of the analogical views which I have presented to your mind. While I receive the doctrine simply on the credit of Divine revelation, I find in its analogical illustration something at least which is comprehensible. In its connexion with Christian experience, it is brought (partially and imperfectly indeed, but still with some degree of satisfaction) within the grasp of my understanding. I seem therein to discern the reason of that awful declaration by which the publication of the Gospel is sanctioned, “He that believeth and is baptised,” viz. “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost,”—“shall be saved; and he that believeth not shall be damned.” I find in this analogy a full justification of those clauses in the Athanasian creed which have been deemed uncharitable. They imply no more, in relation to spiritual life and the salvation of the soul, than would be implied in a similar declaration in respect of animal life, that air, and heat, and light, are essential to its existence and enjoyment. In this analogy I find the readiest confutation of error, and the easiest confirmation of truth.
In the doctrine of the Cherubim I find another important though subordinate image of the same vital dogma of Biblical theology. In the connexion of that symbol with all the services of the patriarchal and Levitical periods, there is evidence of the essentiality of that which it represented to the manifestative glory of the Triune Jehovah; and also to the salvation of man, which is graciously made the means of exhibiting that glory in the stupendous work of