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Personal Purity. VIII. On the Love of Change. IX. On the Fear of God.
It should not be forgotten, by the way, that the profits of the sale will be devoted to a charitable purpose.
We have here the first number of a new periodical, which promises to be of great use both to the student in divinity and the matured divine. Its principal feature seems to be the introduction of foreign theology to the English reader, divested of those fanciful speculations and conceited rationalism, which is the bane of the German theological literature. The plan also includes analyses of large commentaries, papers on ecclesiastical history, antiquities, the state of the Sacred Text, scriptural chronology, &c.; in fact, whatever may tend to facilitate the study of the Holy Scriptures, or add to the stores of critical, philological, or exegetical theology. In the present Number, we have extracts or contributions from G. H. and E. F. K. Rosenmüller, D. Gröning, J. H. Mayr, L. J.C. Justi, and W.Gesenius, besides two interesting papers by the Editor, and an unfinished article on the religion of the Druses. We would especially direct attention to Arts. 2, 4, 5, and 7.
He is Risen: an Easter Offering. In
scribed, by permission, to the Governors and Masters of Christ's Hospital. London: Sherwood, &c. 1829. 8vo. pp. 16. 18.
This little Poem originated in the words, “He is Risen," worn, at Easter, on the breasts of the boys of Christ's Hospital. It is a grateful tribute of the author to the governors of that admirable institution for his own education, and that of his children, received under their care. The feelings expressed in it evince a mind impressed with a sober, yet fervent, sense of religion; and the language in which they are conveyed, is a sufficient proof that he, the author, has not neglected to improve the early instructions which he received in the royal foundation of Edward VI. As a specimen, we subjoin the opening lines: We ask not Who?-For every glowing
heart, That swells with Christian triumph, bears
impressed The HEAVENLY CONQUEROR's Name, and
joyful owns The WORLD'S DELIVERER!...... Yes, it
is He, Whom martyr'd Stephen's disincumber'd Saw, ere it closed, through Heaven's un
folding doors Enthroned in glory. He it is, whose voice, Heard in appalling thunder, check'd the
rage of Saul's intemperate zeal; and instant
won A willing convert's faith. ...... 'Tis He
who gave The test of sense by doubting Thomas
claim'd, Conviction palpable; with mild reproof Compelling him to own His LORD! His
The Life of Archbishop Cranmer. By
J. A. SARGANT. London: Hunt & Co. 1829. 12mo. pp. viii. 288. 6s. 6d.
Mr. Topd's forthcoming biography of this celebrated Prelate will, in all probability, afford us an opportunity of presenting our readers with an analysis of his Life, which in the present times cannot fail of awakening reflections of the most powerful interest. The little work before us modestly professes to be written with a view to the improvement and gratification of the rising generation and the simpler walks of life. To such we cordially recommend it; adding, at the same time, that it may also be perused with advantage by many of riper years, and more advanced attainments.
IN THE PRESS. The Rev. W. Trollope will publish, in a few days, two Sermons on Confia mation.
The Repertorium Theologicum; or, a
Critical Record of Theological Literature. Edited by the Rev. D.G. WAIT, LL. D. &c. Part I. May, 1829. To be continued every two months. London: Hearne. 8vo. 58.
PREPARING FOR PUBLICATION. “ Pastoralia." By the Rev. Henry Thompson, M. A. of St. John's College, Cambridge, and Curate of Wrington, Somerset: Author of " Davidica."
SERMON ON THE TRINITY.
1 John v. 7. There are Three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word,
and the Holy Ghost: and these Three are One. · The feast observed by our Church at this season is instituted in honour of the ever-blessed Trinity. The solemn festivals, which, in the foregoing part of our annual service, have presented to our consideration the mysterious work of man's redemption, and the several steps taken to accomplish it, naturally lead us up to, and at last conclude with that of the present day. The incarnation and nativity, the passion and resurrection, of the blessed Jesus, demonstrate how great things the Son of God has condescended to do for us :- the miraculous powers with which the first disciples were endued, and the sanctifying graces with which all the faithful are assisted, prove how great and how necessary a part the Holy Spirit bore in this work, both in publishing the salvation of the world, and in rendering it effectual:- and they all agree in representing to us the inestimable love of the Father, by whom the Son was sent, and the Spirit so wonderfully and so plentifully shed abroad. Most justly, therefore, after such informations of the fitness of this subject for our wonder and adoration, does our Church this day call upon us to celebrate the mystery of those three persons in the unity of the Godhead, each of whom so kindly and so largely contributed to this stupendous and united act of mercy, upon which the whole of all our hopes and happiness depends.
The doctrine of the Trinity may be properly called the fundamental doctrine of the Christian Church. It is a doctrine, without the declaration of which no minister has authority to baptize; and without the acknowledgment of which, on the part of himself by his sureties, no person can be baptized. It is a doctrine, without the declaration of which the Lord's Supper cannot be administered or received. It is a doctrine, which has nevertheless been disputed and attacked by the enemies of our holy religion, more than any other of the articles of our belief. But notwithstanding all the objections which have been repeatedly urged against it, it continues to be professed and maintained by men of the most comprehensive minds, and the most exact and accurate knowledge of the Scriptures.
Indeed, every one, of unprejudiced mind, and with such an acquaintance with the Bible as the most unlearned of us ought to possess, must be convinced of the truth of this doctrine. Though it is not, perhaps, positively stated and expressed by words in Scripture, the verse of St. John, which the text exhibits, being of uncertain authenticity, yet every one that opens the pages of divine revelation must admit that it is the spirit in which the Scriptures are written. From the beginning to the end of the Bible, in the Old Testament as well as in the New, in all the instructions and knowledge which they convey, allusions to the doctrine are constantly, made. But in the New Testament particularly the doctrine is clearly, and almost expressly, revealed. When the incarnation of our Lord was announced, those memorable words of the angel to Mary plainly point out the Trinity:-
“The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore, that holy thing that shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God.” It was made manifest, likewise, by the evidence of the senses, when, at the baptism of our Lord in the River Jordan, the Holy Spirit descended like a dove, and a voice from heaven, the voice of the Father, was heard--" This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Again, it is clearly contained in the salutation which the Apostles use in their Epistles “ The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.” Such expressions as these are most decided allusions to the Trinity.
But without producing all the texts, which have been repeatedly, and, indeed, unanswerably, alleged in support of the doctrine in question, they are, it may in general be remarked, so many and so express, that, did they contain any thing but a mystery, no possible dispute could arise about the sense and meaning of them. Most of them, indeed, are so clear (as, for instance, those which have just been produced), that they are only liable to wilful misinterpretation; and, therefore, though a superficial view of the doctrines of religion, which require an implicit faith, may dispose the Infidel to call in question the authority of religion itself; yet for men to dispute or doubt the doctrines of our religion, while they allow its authority, seems to be as whimsical an instance of folly, as human nature is capable of presenting.
I must not, however, omit to observe, that the Scriptures, which are so clear in the Trinity of Persons, are no less distinct as to the Unity of the Godhead. Hence we so often read of “ one Lord, one God," and “none other but He," who is, therefore, called the “ only true God.” Although to the heathen, there “ are that are called gods many and lords many,” yet, to us Christians, “ there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him." We are also baptized in the name of three; but we are taught nevertheless, and bound to profess, “ one Lord and one God, one Faith and one Baptism.” In all which, we are assured that there is no absurdity or inconsistence, since “ there be three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost," and " these three are one." And what greater proof can be reasonably demanded of a doctrine so sublime, and so much above our comprehension, than that three persons should be mentioned in Scripture, the only source of supernatural knowledge, in terms proper to God alone; that they should be described as one God; and that each should have perfections attributed to him, which are peculiar to God alone?
The truth is, that it is the mysterious nature of this doctrine, which alone has given rise to objections against it. It is utterly impossible for human reason to unravel and explain it; and, therefore, the unbeliever presumptuously dares to question its credibility. This is evidently owing to an erroneous idea of the proper subjects of rational inquiry, and to the jealousy with which reason regards her supposed privileges. Human reason is, doubtless, a test of truth, as far as her capacity, which is evidently limited, extends; and never is
she more honourably employed, than in candidly investigating the evidences of religion. But there is, indisputably, a certain point, at which reason stops, whatever be the nature of her inquiries. Not only in religious, but in natural truths, the powers of the understanding are circumscribed, but the necessity of belief is infinite. The nature of the eye, the process of vegetation, and the animating power of human life, are subjects which defy the curiosity of man, and compel him to admit what he cannot comprehend. But it is not so with the Bible sceptic. He sees certain articles proposed to him as trials of his faith, which he instantly rejects as false, because they exceed his limited understanding. But reason has no right to dispute a fact, unless it is able to disprove it. A man would be looked upon as worse than mad, were he to deny the growth of a tree, because he cannot discern the vegetating powers which cause its growth. It does not follow, that because a doctrine surpasses the reach of human reason, that it necessarily contradicts human reason. On the contrary, every individual doctrine of the Gospel, though totally undiscoverable by mortal wisdom, and inconceivable by mortal capacity, is perfectly consistent with reason, and beyond its power to dispute. Is there any thing unreasonable, for instance, in the doctrine of man's redemption, or can reason offer any thing to controvert its truth? The divinity and incarnation of our blessed Lord, and his atonement for the sins of man upon the cross, are doctrines which it would be presumptuous to endeavour to unfold; but is it not worse than impious to cavil at the method, which an all-merciful God employs in reconciling to himself his sinful and rebellious creatures? Surely it were better for man, who cannot comprehend the nature of the objects around him, to check his inquisitive researches into the hidden mysteries of God.
If however the doctrine of the Trinity is infinitely beyond the understanding, it is admirably adapted to the religious wants and necessities of man. The corruption of mankind, by which we are rendered incapable of paying that love and obedience which is confessedly due from a creature to his Creator, naturally calls for some satisfaction. This satisfaction is made by the death of Christ upon the Cross, and it seems almost impossible that any other should have been a sufficient sacrifice. It would clearly be preposterous for any one human being, to look up to another mere human being, who should by his own merits have acquired such influence with the supreme Creator as to atone for his fellow creature's transgressions. But the harmony between the doctrine of Redemption and the divinity of Christ, the second person in the Trinity, at once removes every difficulty. The part also which the Holy Ghost bears in the Trinity is excellently calculated to assist the spiritual infirmities of man. There are certain conditions to be performed by every member of the Christian covenant, which by his unassisted and frail nature he is utterly incapable of performing. But the sincere believer is enabled to overcome all the difficulties of his Christian warfare, by the secret, but effectual, cooperation of the Holy Spirit. .
Having now set before you the truth, the reasonableness, and the blessings of the Scripture doctrine of the Trinity in Unity, I shall conclude by drawing a few practical inferences from what has been said.
Every person, when admitted into the congregation of Christ's flock by baptism, is received in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. The belief in this doctrine therefore is fundamentally essential to the very profession of Christianity; and every person, who is a sincere disciple of Jesus Christ, will therefore be stedfast in the faith whereby he was made a member of his Church. He will be most anxious to avoid those errors and heresies which of all others strike the deepest at the very root of our religion, by denying the truth of its most distinguishing doctrine, the holy Trinity. It is this article of belief which so clearly separates and exalts the Chris. tian above the followers of every other creed ; for though there are several sects who disbelieve the Trinity of persons, there are very few who deny the existence of a God. But the mere belief of a doctrine, the assent of the understanding only, is but a secondary part of our Christian calling. The sincerity of our faith must be manifested by the purity of our actions. As we excel others in the truth of our profession, we must excel them also in the holiness of our lives and conversations. We must show ourselves to be Christians indeed, by believing the assertions, trusting on the promises, fearing the threatenings, and obeying the precepts of Christ our Master; that even infidels and heretics “ may see our good works,” and be led thereby “ to glorify our Father which is in heaven.” We should endeavour to outstrip all others, in our piety towards God, in love to our neighbours, charity to the poor, unity amongst ourselves, and justice to all mankind. This indeed would be a clear demonstration that our faith is the best, inasmuch as our lives are the holiest. And be assured, that if we believe what Christ has taught us, and do what he has commanded us, we shall also obtain what he has promised, and enjoy eternal happiness in heaven, in the presence of that mysterious and holy Being, in whose name we were baptized; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost for evermore.
But let us examine more closely the momentous truths, in which as Christians we have been instructed; all that was taught, promised, and effected, by a divine, incarnate, crucified, and exalted Saviour. We have not only been baptized into the name of Christ, but we have been begotten again by him to a lively hope, -we have been taught the articles of our faith, the commands of our Master, the vows which are upon us, and the obligations which accompany all that a Christian ought to know and believe to his soul's health. We have, most of us, by our own mouths, ratified the promises and vows which were made in our behalf. We have received those holy mysteries, in the participation of which we are “fed with the spiritual food of the precious body and blood of Jesus Christ.” We have thus become “very members incorporate of the mystical body of the Son of God :" we thus “ show forth the Lord's death till his coming again ;' professing that we are “heirs through hope of his everlasting kingdom," and praying unto our God to “grant that by the merits and death of his Son our Saviour Jesus Christ, and through faith in his blood, we and all his whole Church may obtain remission of our sins, and all the
VOL. XI. NO. VI.