« PreviousContinue »
consistently saved sinners without an atonement for sin; and an atonement for sin could not have been made, if there had been but one person in the Godhead. If the person of the Father had existed alone, without the Son and Holy Ghost, he could not have suffered and died for the sinful race of man; and, by consequence, he could not have formed any scheme for their redemption from that destruction, which he had threatened to the transgressors of his holy and righteous law. There could have been no Saviour, and consequently no salvation. This even the Unitarians do not deny, though they say that they do not know but that God could have devised some other way of saving sinners, or have saved them without an atonement. But it appears from the whole current of scripture, that God has formed a design to save them through an atonement. And since he exists a Trinity in Unity, it is easy to see how he could save them in this way. He could, if he saw it to be best, appoint his Son, the second person in his mysterious essence, to become incarnate, and suffer and die for those whose nature he took upon him. This was certainly possible; and therefore there is no presumptive evidence against the truth and divinity of the gospel, as infidels pretend. And now if we find, by examining the gospel, that it does reveal a way of salvation through the joint operations of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, we are bound to believe and embrace it. There is nothing unreasonable or absurd in the Father's appointing the Son to give his life a ransom for many, and die the just for the unjust, that the Holy Ghost might renew and sanctify them, and bring them near to God. But, on the other hand, it is perfectly reasonable to believe, that if the Father designed to save sinners, he should “so love the world, as to give his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life;" for we can see no other possible way in which he could consistently save them. Hence,
2. We learn from what has been said, that if the gospel scheme of salvation could not have been formed without a personal distinction in the divine nature, then it cannot be understood, without understanding the doctrine of the Trinity. This doctrine is the fundamental doctrine of the Gospel, in the highest sense of fundamental: for the whole gospel is founded upon it, so that the denial of it subverts the whole gospel. Some who profess to believe the doctrine, hesitate to say that it is fundamental. But we presume that whoever can fairly refute the doctrine of the Trinity, can as fairly refute the truth and divinity of the gospel, and prove that it is not of divine inspiration. And this is confirmed by fact. Those who deny the doctrine of the Trinity, generally deny all the peculiar and
important doctrines of the Bible; and the arguments they use against the doctrine of the Trinity are equally forcible against the inspiration of the scriptures. If there be one doctrine of the gospel more fundamental than another, it is the doctrine of the ever blessed Trinity. Accordingly Trinitarians in general have believed and maintained it to be essential to Christianity.
3. If the doctrine of the Trinity has been scripturally and properly stated in this discourse, then it is a very intelligible doctrine, notwithstanding the mystery contained in it. The inspired writers clearly reveal the personality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, by describing their distinct offices, and the distinct parts they perform in the work of redemption. They represent the Father as superior to the Son, and the Son as superior to the Holy Ghost, in the order of their operations; and they represent each person as operating voluntarily and distinctly of himself, and performing distinct operations. When we read that the Father sends the Son, but the Son does not send the Father; that the Son sends the Holy Ghost, but the Holy Ghost does not send the Son; that the Father did not die, but the Son did; and that the Holy Ghost did not die, but the Son did; we cannot but conceive that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are distinct persons. And we have as clear an idea of these three divine persons, as of three human persons. There is no mystery in the personality of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, though there is a profound mystery in their being one God. But this has no tendency to prevent our understanding what the scripture reveals concerning their personality. The self-existence and eternity of the Deity is a mystery; but this does not prevent our seeing and believing the plain evidences of his existing of himself from eternity. It is a mystery how God created all things, governs all things, and fills all places at one and the same time; but this mystery does not prevent our believing and loving these great and precious truths. The scriptural doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, is as plain and as easy to be understood as any other doctrine of the Bible. God's works of creation and providence are as mysterious as his work of redemption, which he has revealed in his word. We are as much bound to believe what he has revealed in his word as what he has revealed of himself in the works of creation and providence. The book of divine revelation is as easy to be understood as the book of nature. And those who study the book of nature, find as many difficulties and mysteries as those who study the book of divine revelation.
4. It appears from what has been said concerning the scriptural account of the sacred Trinity, that those who disbelieve and deny the doctrine, ought not to be admitted into the church,
because they cannot consistently observe the two great ordinances of the gospel — baptism and the holy sacrament. Baptism is to be administered in the name of the three distinct persons in the Godhead, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; and how can those who deny the divinity of the Son, and the personality of the Holy Ghost, come to this ordinance themselves, or administer it to others in sincerity, and without mockery or blasphemy? But this was, in the days of the apostles, an initiating ordinance into the church; and they admitted none into it before they submitted to baptism. And christian churches in general have continued to require all adults to be baptized, as an indispensable condition to their admission into their body, and to a participation of the holy sacrament. But it is still more inconsistent to admit those who deny the Trinity to the Lord's supper, than to baptism. For the sacrament was instituted for the very purpose of gratefully acknowledging the grace, the personality and divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ. But how can those who disbelieve that he was the second person in the Godhead, and had only a human or angelic nature, pay public and divine homage to him in the sacrament? However amiable in their conduct, or however eminent for talents and learning Unitarians may be, they are not christians, and have no right to be admitted into christian churches. I know they complain bitterly of being denied the christian name and debarred from christian ordinances. But what reason have they to complain, when they are sentimentally and zealously opposed to the great doctrines and special ordinances of the gospel ? Can real christians suffer the sacred ordinances of the gospel to be profaned, consistently with their love to God, and their solemn engagements to their divine Redeemer?
5. There was a propriety in Christ's appointing an ordinance, in which his friends may hold communion with him in particular. As he was the second person in the Trinity according to the economy of redemption, and the only person who took upon him human nature, and suffered and died in the room of sinners, so there was a peculiar propriety in his appointing an ordinance in which his friends may commemorate his death,
and hold communion with him in particular. If there were not three persons in the Godhead, or if Christ were not a distinct person from the Father and Holy Ghost, there could be no foundation for his appointing an ordinance to commemorate his death, and for holding communion with him in distinction from the Father and Holy Ghost. But the apostle tells us that the sacrament of the supper was appointed for both these purposes.
He says, “ The Lord Jesus, the same night in which he was betrayed, took bread: and when he had given
thanks, he brake it and said, Take, eat; this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me. After the same manner also he took the cup, when he had supped, saying, This cup is the New Testament in my blood: this do ye as oft as ye drink it in remembrance of me. For as oft as ye eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show forth the Lord's death till he come.” In another place the apostle says, “ The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ?" If Christ be a divine person, distinct from the Father and Holy Ghost, then there is a propriety in his appointing the sacrament, and giving his friends a peculiar opportunity to commemorate his death, and hold communion with him in his body and blood, in his sufferings and death. He suffered and died, and not the Father, nor the Holy Ghost; his grace, therefore, is to be remembered and gratefully acknowledged, in distinction from the love of the Father and communication of the Holy Ghost; and with him his friends are to hold particular communion. Christ feels a peculiar affection towards his friends for whom he died, and takes peculiar pleasure in communing with them at his table. He says, “ Eat, О friends ; drink, yea, drink abundantly, O beloved."
“ Behold I stand at the door and knock; if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” But who can do this who does not believe the blessed doctrine of the Trinity; and who does not feel peculiar love and gratitude to the personal character and conduct of the Lord Jesus Christ?
THE IRCE GOD IS TO BE WORSHIPPED AS ITISTING
IN THREE PERSONS.
(ion has revealed his will to mankind gradual's, by one Impored teacher aller another. And these teachers nere repreint any thing as new, which had been revealed before. Thus Mana tuhes it for a revealed and well-known truth that the Babbal is to be sanctified, the first time he mentions that day. All the prophets after him speak of temporal death, human deporavity, and a future state of happiness and misery, as things alicudy revealed and universally believed. Our Saviour nerer preloma to teach any thing as new which had been taught beluvre luy any of the teachers sent from God. And it is very remontable that neither Christ nor the apostles ever speak of the Harreu Trinity as a new, but only as an old doctrine, which had been taught and believed under all the previous dispensations of the gospel, When Christ instituted the ordinance of baplinm, to be administered in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, he gives no intimation that he meant to reveal any thing new, respecting these adorable persons in the (lodhead. So the apostles, in their familiar letters to the churches, occasionally speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as though it were a doctrine well known and universally believed by common christians, that the one true God exists in three equally divine persons. This remark is supported by the phraseology in the text. Speaking of the 'partition wall beiween Jews and Gentiles as being taken away by the gospel, the apostle says, in the most familiar manner, “ Through him