« EelmineJätka »
here observe, that the names Father, Word or Son, and Spirit are not intended to describe the manner in which the three divine persons subsist; but the manner in which they act : not what they are in themselves (that is not revealed) but what they are to us, ac
according to their respective offices, which they have been pleased to assume in the redemption of man.
And therefore, though one of the names of office may seem greater than the rest; yet this does not denote that the person who bears the name is greater than the other. The name of the Father may seem greater than that of the Son, or of the Spirit; and Christ speaks of the Father as greater than he; and the Spirit, as well as the Son, is 'sent;' but as these are names of office and not of essence, they only describe the nature of the office assumed, which may be greater or less ; but as to the essence, there is no difference nor inequality ; but as it is expressed in the Athanasian Creed— In this Trinity none is afore nor after other : none is greater or less than another; but the whole three persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal. The Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost is all one : the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal.'
Our further proof of the Trinity shall be from the history of man's creation—the application of the name of the Deity to each divine person distinctly—the institution of baptism-and the apostolical blessing.
In the history of man's creation, we find these words (Gen. i. 26.) “And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' Surely this expression denotes that there is a plurality of persons in the divine nature, or why should it be used Some tell us it is only an accommodation to the mode of speaking used by kings, who in their public acts say we and us. But this is ridiculous ; for kings had no existence before the creation of man. Besides, kings use this phrase out of modesty, or to signify the concurrence of their council ; but Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been his counsellor ?' Rom. xi. 34. In like manner we find the Lord God saying, after man had fallen (Gen. iii. 22) • Behold, the man is become like ONE OF us. Some think this was spoken ironi
cally, in allusion to Satan's promise, when he tempted our first parents to eat of the forbidden tree, shall be as gods, &c. Others think it refers to the covenant, in which one of the divine persons had engaged to become man, in order to redeem man, Be this as it may, the expression plainly proves a plurality, such as is more plainly expressed (John i. 1)In the beginning was the WORD' (the very name used for Christ in the text), and the Word was with God, and the WORD was God.' But again,
The name of God is applied to each of the divine persons distinctly. That the Father is called God, neod not be proved. Jesus Christ is also called God in many places of Scripture. Thomas said to him (John xx. 28) · My LORD and my God.' St. Paul says (Rom. ix. 5) He is over all, God blessed for ever.' St. John says (1 John v. 20) • Jesus Christ is the TRUE God, and eternal life.' The Psalmist says, That the Israelites in the wilderness - tempted and provoked THE MOST high God:' and St. Paul, speaking of the same thing says, They tempted Christ;' consequently, he is the Most High God.' Psalm lxxviii, 56, and 1 Cor. x. 9. Isaiah had a vision, concerning which he says,
Mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.' Isaiah vi. 5. St. John, speaking of that vision, says, * These things said Esaias, when he saw his (CHRIST's) glory, and spake of him.' (John xii. 41); and from whence it follows, that Jesus is the Lord of Hosts. And let it be carefully observed, that the name LORD, or Jehovah, which signifies the essence of God, is never, upon any occasion, given to a creature. Yet this name is given to Jesus Christ, as in the text last mentioned, and also in the following (Jer. xxiii. 6), • This is the naine wherehy he shall be called, the LORD (that is JEHOVAH) our righteousness. Now, who is che righteousness of believers ? Every Christian knows that Christ is made unto us-righteousness.' And in Isa. xliii, 11, 1, even I, am the Lord, and, besides me, there is no Savionr.' But we know who alone is the Saviour of the world, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.' But unless he were God as well as man, he could be no Saviour ; for Jehovah says there is no Saviour besides himself.* Passing by many more texts for want of room, we shall mention but one more in proof of our Lord's divinity. Our Saviour has graciously promised his presence with all his people wherever they assemble together. See Matt. xviii. 20. • Where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. Now, how is it possible for Christ to be present in all the thousands of places, where Christians are assembled, unless he be the true God?
In like manner we might shew that the peculiar names of the Deity are given to the Holy Spirit, and that, therefore, he also is a Person, and a Divine Person. One, out of many, may be sufficient. St. Peter, reproving Ananias for the lie he had told respecting his substance, saith (Acts v. 3), “Why hath Satan filled thine heart to lie unto the Holy Ghost?' and, in the next verse, he adds - Thou hast not lied unto man, but unto God. This is a most plain and undeniable proof that the Holy Ghost is God.+
The ordinance of Christian baptism affords another proof of the Trinity. In the baptism of our Lord himself, a voice from Heaven said, “This is my beloved Son ;' also, the Holy Spirit descended visibly,' in the manner and form of a dove, lighting upon him.' Matt. ii. 16, 17. Here was the Trinity. The Father testifying to the Son, and the SPIRIT descending upon him. Hence, the primitive Christians used to say, to
If the reader wishes to see more proofs of this kind, let hím consult the following places :
-Isaiah viii. 13, 14, with 1 Peter ii. 7, 8; Isaiah xliv. 6, with Rev. xxi. 13 ; Luke i. 76, with Matt. xi. 10; 2 Cor. v. 19, John xiv. 11, Isaiah ix. 6, Rev. i. 8, 1 Kings viii. 39, with Rev. ii. 23. And as to those places in which Christ saith, “The Father is greater than I,' &c. they are to be understood as referring to his human nature and office, or as the Creed expresses it, ' Inferior to the Father as touching his manhood.'
+ Other proofs may be found in Acts xii. 2–5; 2 Tim. iii. 16, compared with 2 Pet. i. 21 ; 1 Cor. ii. 16, with 1 Cor. vi. 19, 1 Cor. ii. 11, 14 ; Psalm cxxxix. 7..
any who doubted the truth of this doctrine, • Go to Jordan, and you will see the Trinity.' Plainer still is this truth from the form of words appointed to be used in Christian baptism :— Baptizing them in the name of the FATHER, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost.' This is an ordinance of initiation ; it stands, as it were, at the threshold of Christianity; so that in taking upon us this distinguishing badge of the Christian profession, we avow this great doctrine. baptized into the name of each divine Person, that is by the authority of each, and into the faith, worship, and profession of each, equally and alike, as the one God of the Christian religion. Hereby we profess the Trinity, that is, One God in three Persons, in opposition to all false gods and false worship; and thereby dedicate ourselves to them, according to their personal relations ; to the Father as our Creator, and as reconciled in Christ; to Christ as our Redeemer, to deliver us from the guilt and power of sin ; and to the Holy Spirit, to teach, comfort, and sanctify us. This is a kind of proof of the doctrine suited to the weakest capacity. Each of the sacred Three is mentioned distinctly and by name, which certainly implies a distinction of persons; yet they are all united in the same ordinance of baptism, which shews their equality and unity. So that all who would not renounce that sacred ordinance, may see it in a full, clear, and satisfactory proof of the Trinity.
Much the same may be said of the apostolical benediction (2 Cor. xiii. 14) : • The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen.' In these words St. Paul prayed for the Corinthians ; and in the same words almost all Christian ministers pray for their people, at the close of every public service. It is a kind of prayer to each divine person singly, expressing a desire that the people may partake of the grace of Christ, who is full of grace,' through whose mediation we are reconciled to God—that they may also enjoy the love of God, namely, of God the Father, which is the source of our whole salvation, manifested in the gift of his Son, his Spirit, and his Word—and finally, that they may partake of the Holy Ghost, as all real Christians do in
his application to their souls of all the blessings of salvation, proceeding from the Father, and flowing to us through the Son. And thus are we continually reminded of this great truth, and led also to make a practical use of it, in seeking from each of the divine persons the peculiar blessings that each, in the economy of the covenant, has undertaken to bestuw.
From what has been said, however briefly, it is sufficiently evident, that the Doctrine of the Trinity is a scriptural doctrine; and as such, we are bound to receive it, unless we renounce our Bibles. It is true that it is a sublime and a mysterions doctrine ; yet there is nothing at all in it contrary to reason. Some men make a great outcry against it. They tell us it is absolutely impossible that three should be one, and that the Trinitarians must believe there are three Gods. In answer to this we say we do not affirm that the three are one, in the same sense that they are three. They are three, in one respect; one in another; -we say there are three in person ; one in essence ;-we affirm, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are not three Gods, but one God. We have abundantly proved froin Scripture, that there are three to whom divine names are given, divine attributes ascribed, and divine offices assigned; and we affirm, with our text, and according to the whole tenor of Scripture, and the voice of reason too, that these three are one.
And what is there in all this absurd or contradictory? Were we to affirm that three are one, in the same respect that they are three, it would, no doubt, be a contradiction in terms : but we say not that three persons are one person, or three Gods are one God; we only say that the three persons are one God. This is revealed, therefore we believe it; and though we cannot fully comprehend it, we think it becomes such weak and fallible creatures as ourselves, humbly to receive it with other truths, as the word of God, and not of man.
But it is by no means enough merely to assent to the doctrine; we ought to make a practical use of it. It is far from being a matter of speculation ; it is a branch