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ON THE FATHER.
WHEN the doctrine of the Trinity is discussed, little is said distinctly respecting the Father. The cause of this neglect probably is, that all parties on this subject acknowledge that God is Father; and that the Father is God; and discussions respecting the nature of the Son imply the existence of the Father. But in taking a general view of the divine nature, as it is revealed, it is necessary to notice every character and office attached to it. The sacred scriptures represent the Father as having a distinct name, a distinct character, a distinct office. There is no reason that this part of the subject should be omitted.
God claims the relationship of Father to the human race. He is the Author of their beings; and on this gruond it is proper to call him their Father. The prophet Malachi saith, "A son honoreth his father, and a servant his master; if then I be a Father, where is mine honor, saith the Lord of hosts." Again he inquires, "Have we not all one Father? hath not one God. created us?" Christ taught his disciples, saying, "Be ye perfect, even as your Father, which is in heaven, is perfect." Again he said, "Pray to thy Father, which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly." The apostle Paul saith, "To us there is but one God, the Father." The phrase, "God the Father," is frequently used in the New Testament. When the title, Father, is applied to God, importing his relationship to the
human race, it does not designate distinction in the divine nature. Its import is, God in plurality. When Christ teaches us to pray, "Our Father, who art in heaven," he designs that we should address the one only living and true God without the distinction of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
God is in a more special manner, the Father of believers. He claims a nearer and more endearing relationship to them. He calls them children; he calls them sons. "As many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. Behold what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us that we should be called the sons of God. Beloved, now are we the sons of God. Ye have received the spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The union and affection, which subsist between them, are a just ground for giving them the appropriate names Father and sons. When God takes to himself the name Father in relation to the human race, or to believers, it is not designed to mark a distinction in his nature; but it conveys the idea of divine nature generally. The terms Father and God are frequently used as synonymous.
In all those divine works, which do not involve the work of redemption, God in plurality is brought to view. But when the work of redemption is exhibited, then the Trinity distinctly appears. When one of the sacred Three is exhibited, performing a certain part in the work of salvation, he takes the name of Father, not from the relationship, which he bears toward the human family; but from the relationship, which he bears toward the Son. In the divine nature and in the divine works there is perfect order. In divine offices there is priority and posteriority. By unanimous consent one of the Trinity holds the first place. By unanimous consent he holds authority over the Son, and over the Spirit. As a father is the head of his family, and holds the reins of authority, there appears to be propriety in calling Him Father,
who holds the first office in the work of redemption. The names of each of the Trinity are not of human invention. They are revealed. It may reasonably be expected that God would reveal himself by name or names of appropriate signification; that he would adopt language, which was calculated to convey some correct ideas of himself. When one of the Trinity calls himself Father, it is presumable that there is some analogy between himself and a human father. It is not supposable that any figurative language, or any representation taken from creatures can convey an adequate idea of the divine nature. There is no language, there is no representation, which can bring the infinitude of the Deity within the limits of finite understanding. But language and similitudes drawn from things, with which we are acquainted, help us to form some conception of the nature, character and offices, of the divine Being.
If one of the Trinity be called Father, in relation to Christ, it does not follow that he is his Father in the same sense, in which a man is father of his son. The scriptures abound with pertinent and forcible figures. If there be a striking analogy between the two relationships, there is propriety in calling him Father. It has been observed that the authority, which he holds over Jesus Christ, in the work of redemption, renders it proper that he should be called Father. If the manner of Christ's coming into the world; his introduction into office; his resurrection from the dead be reasons, for which he is called Son, the same reasons are valid for calling him Father, who sent him into the world, introduced him into office, and raised him from the dead. Between a father and son there is similarity of nature and nearness of relationship. Christ is of the same nature with him, who sent him. He perfectly harmonizes with him in all his designs, and in all his works. "What things soever he doth, (i. e. the Father) these also doeth the Son likewise." Christ calls God his Father. He expresses
their union in the strongest language. "I and my Father are one. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me." Christ is said to be in the bosom of the Father. These expressions designate the intimate union, which subsists between them; and shew the propriety in calling them by names, which express the nearest relationship.
A father feels a tender affection for his son. God expresses his great love for Christ. At his baptism he declared, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. The Father loveth the Son." God's love for the world is argued from his sending his only begotten Son into the world. If this be an expression of great love to the world, it follows that he exercised great love toward his Son. The great love which God had for Christ is another reason for calling himself his Father.
"A father frequently makes an only son heir of all he possesses. He, who sent Christ into the world hath appointed him heir of all things. He hath given him all authority. He hath given him dominion over all things in heaven and on earth. This is an additional reason for calling him the Father of Jesus Christ. By way of emphasis Christ is called the Son. By the same emphatical distinction he is called the Father.
It is impossible for finite minds to understand the union and the relationship, which subsists in the divine plurality. The scriptures, by a figure of speech, call Christ Son, and by the same figurative mode of expression they call him, who sent him, Father.
It is not necessary to quote texts of scripture and use arguments to prove the divinity of the Father. For those, who believe there is a God, believe that the Father is God. Besides, the scriptures frequently use the terms, Father and God, as synonymous.
In the covenant of redemption, ratified by the Father and the Son, it is stipulated, that the Son, in consideration for his sacrifice and mediation, "shall see of the travail of his soul and shall be satisfied." The
Father promised to him saying, "I will divide him a portion with the great; and he shall divide the spoil with the strong." The Father promised to give him the heathen, (i. e. the nations) for his inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for his possession; that he shall have dominion from sea to sea, and from the river unto the ends of the earth.
From Christ's own words it appears that the Father has given him a portion of the human race. In his prayer to the Father he saith, "I pray not for the world, but for them, which thou hast given me. Holy Father, keep through thine own name, those, whom thou hast given me. Those, that thou gavest me I have kept. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me be with me, where I am."
It belonged to the office of the Father to send the Son into the world. "God so loved the world that he sent his only begotten Son into the world." In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
The sending of the Holy Spirit is attributed to the Father. "How much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him. The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things. When the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father. Because ye are sons, God hath sent forth the Spirit of his Son into your hearts, crying, Abba, Father."
The Father is the object of Christ's intercession. "He made intercession for the transgressors." Who maketh intercession for us. We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous. Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true, but into heaven