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hast created all things, nnd for thy pleasure they are and "Were created. '. Thus we fee, in this Vision of St. John, a Trinity of Persons in the Unity of the Godhead, with a Direction to acknowledg the one, and to adore the other. To which end, our Church teaches us,
In the Third place, to pray for Grace to keep us stedfast in this Faith, and evermore defend us from all Adversities and Opposition we may meet, with in it. And this we should the rather do, because this great Article of the Trinity hath met with no small Opposition from the Atheists, Hereticks, and Scepticks of all Ages. The Arians of old were great Enemies and Oppofers of this Doctrine, and so were the Sahe/lians, Eunomians, and many others: and'tis still struck at and sought to be undermin'd by the Deists, Socinians, and Sensualists of our days, who set up their shallow Reason above Divine Revelation, and deride all those Truths which they cannot comprehend. And because the Contagion of these evil Principles seems to spread too far, let us pray that our Faith fail not, but that we may be kept stedfast in the Belief of the Holy Trinity, who have each had their share in the Work of our Redemption; let us take heed that we forget not God that made us, nor deny the Lord that bought us, nor resist the Holy Spirit, that can alone fanctify and fave us. Let not the seeming Difficulties that attend this great Truth, any way stagger or shake our Faith, in a matter of so great Concern and Comfort to us. Our Reason is puzzled about the daily Objects of our Senses, and can scarce know the Nature of any thing that is before us :, how then can we dive into the Essence of God, or comprehend that which is incomprehensible? This Mystery of the blessed Trinity being reveal'd to us by all the Persons of it, we know enough of it foe cur present State: and tho Reason alone cannot teach, and so may not presume to judg of it, yet we have all the reason in the world to believe it• , being made known to us by him who is Truth it self, and cannot deceive any. Our .Knowledg here is but in part, and we cannot see to the bottom of any things and much less may we hope to fathom this unsearchable Depth, And yet God hath imparted to us Knowledg enough to make us magnify him, and lessen ourselves: We know enough to learn Humility, and to discover to as our own Ignorance ; and if we are modest
and contented, we shall e'er long know much more. In the mean time,
Our Faith in this Article of the Trinity will be. more no^ ble and great, when it makes our Reason to .stoop to it, and overcomes all its Doubts •, and we shall better celebrate the Holy Trinity by a profound Silence and Adoration, than by disputing about it, or prying too curiously into the Manner of it. And therefore instead of faying with Nkodemiu, How can these things be? let us pray with hint in the Gospel, Lord I believe, help my Unbelief.
Wherefore, in, the last place, from what hath been faid, let us all learn firmly to adhere to this great Truth against all Opposition^ holding fast the Profession of this Faith without wavering, and not be warp'd or drawn from it by the Smiles or Frowns of any. To this end, let us consider,
1. That this is what we have all promis'd in out Bap* tisin, viz.. to believe all the Articles of the Christian Faiths whereof .this of the Holy Trinity is the prime fundamental one, upon which all the rest are founded. To keep to that, isa good means of being stedfast and immovable in all the rest j but if we waver and fall from that, we endanger the whole Fabrick of our Faith, a1id run into Infidelity. So that the Socinians and Scepticks of our Age, that call in question this or any other Article of the Christian Faith, are guilty of a manifest Breach of their Baptismal Vow •, they ate Deserters and Renegadoes from the Faith, in forfaking that, which they engag'd to stick to to their Lives end. And such Fugitives and Revolters from the Faith shall e'er long receive the heavy Punishment of their Apoftacy: which should teach us to beware of an evil Heart of Unbelief, in departing from the living God.
2. Know that this Doctrine of the Trinity hath not only Divine Revelation to support it, which is the chiefest of all Props j but likewise the concurrent Testimony and Consent of the Catholick Church in all Ages to confirm it, which is an additional Strength or Motive to our Belief of it: for he must be highly conceited of his own Wisdom, that will set it up above the Wisdom of God, and the Faith of the whole Gatholick Church. And having this Evidence, let us continue stedfast in this Faith without any Wavering or Doubtfulness. Moreover,
%. Our Church minds Us, in the Service of this Day, to pray fox Grace so to do, that we may ever acknowledg the 'i U Cl Glory Glory of the eternal Trinity, and likewise persevere in worsoippirig the Unity. There may be many Allurements and Temptations to draw us from this Faith, some endeavouring to discourage, and others to dispute us out of it z, and therefore it will be requisite to call in the Assistance of Divine Grace, to keep us firm and steady to it. And as the three Persons of the Trinity are one in Nature, so let them be united in our Devotion 1 still praying to the Father, in. the Name of the Son, and through the Assistance of the Holy Ghost, that as long as we live we may praise them toge* ther, and magnify them in this manner. So the Apostles were wont to join them in their usual Salutation-, Tht Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Love of God the Father., and the Fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen. And the Church teaches the fame in that devout Doxology, Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. More particularly,, let us this day especially bless God, for his gracious Discovery of this sublime Mystery, and thank our heavenly Father, that the Mystery that was hid in former Ages from the- Wife and Prudent, is now re~ •vealed unto Babes; even so Father, for so it seemed good in thy fight.'
In short then, let us establish our Minds in a stedfast Belief of this Divine Truth, that nothing may shake or draw us from this Faith in the ever-blefled and undivided Trinity: to which end, let us submit our Reason to Divine Revelation, believing what God hath told us, tho we cannot fully understand the Manner of it ^ waiting for a fuller Manifestation of this and all other Mysteries in the World to come.
Now to God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, be all Honour and Praise, world without end. Amen.
St. John iii. i 16.
There was a Man of the Pharisees, named, Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews ; she fame came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a Teacher come from God; for no Man can do these Miracles that thou doest, except God be with him, &C.
THIS Conference of our Blessed Saviour with Nicodemus, serving to give some light into the Knowledg and Belief of the Holy Trinity, is appointed to be read as the Gospel for this Day to that end. For here we have express and distinct mention made of God the Father, whose immediate Power and Presence was with Jesus Christ in all that he faid or did, ver. 2. And likewise of God the Son, who came dawn from Heaven, and continu'd to be in Heaven, even when he convers'd here on Earth, ver. 13. As also of God the Holy Ghost, who moving npon the Waters of Baptifin, effects a new Creation, as he did by moving upon the face of the Waters in the old Creation, ver. 5,6. The Relation of which Particulars begins thus:
There was a Man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a Ruler of the Jews; one of the Sanhedrim, their great Council: The same came to Jesus by night, not venturing to come by day for fear of the Jews; and said unto him, Rabbi, a Tir tie usually given to the Jewish Doctors, we how that thoy art a Teacher come from God, for no Man can do these Miracles that thou doest, except God with him. Where we have a plain Confession of God the Father, to whose Almighty Influence he ascribes both his Doctrine and Miracles. Qur Saviour liking well enough of this Confetlion, seeks to carry him farther, and to psrfoade him to be one of his Proselytes and Followers, faving unto him, Verily, verily I fay unto thee, Except a Man be born again, he cannot see the Kingdom of God; ver. 3. Nicodemus, as yet gross of understanding, and knowing little or nothing of such spiritual matters, replies to him, How can a Man be born again when he is old ?. • Can he enter a second time into his Mother s Womb, and be born? Jesus perceiving the Dulness of his Apprehension, and how little he knew of the Christian Religion, endeavours to inform him better, and to give him a clearer Insight into heavenly and spiritual Matters •, to which end, he renews and explains his former Answer, laying. Verily, verily I say unto thee, Except a Man be hornagain 'of Water, and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the Kingdovi of God. Where, beside what is faid before and after of God'the Son, is express mention of the Spirit, or God the Holy Ghost, the third Person in the ever-blessed Trinity: adding withal, that'tis the receiving a new Birth by Baptism, and enteringupon a new Life by spiritual Regeneration, that can alone qualify us for the Sight and Fruition of God •, for without the washing of Water, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost, we can neither enter into the Church or Kingdom of Grace here, nor into Heaven or the Kingdom of Glory hereafter. Proselytes were admitted of old by Water into the Jewish Church, and so they are still into the Christian Church by the Waters of Baptising but so, that as the Waters of Bethefda were stir'd by an Angel before they became medicinal or fanative for the Health of the Body, so the Waters of Baptism must be mov'd by the Holy Spirit, before they become useful or falutary for the Health of the Soul. And as the Jewish Proselytes were faid to be recens ndxi, new born, so the Christian Proselytes are by the Laver of Regeneration faid to be born again of Water and the Holy Ghost. So that Nicodemm'i Error was the mistaking a natural for a spiritual Regeneration, and taking an Entrance into the Church for a second Entrance into the Mother's Womb. In short, the Sense of our Saviour's Words to Nicodemus was, that the owning his Doctrine and Miracles to be divine, was not sufficient for his Salvation, but he must become a Christian Proselyte, or a Follower of Christ, before he could receive any Benefit by either •, and that he must enter into the Chprch, before he could enter into Heaven : which shews us the absolute "Necessity of Baptism in order to Salvation, and the great Danger of neglecting it, where it may be had by duly qualify'd and authoriz'd Persons,