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like this, it is no reflection either upon the goodness or justice of God, to permit wickedness sometimes to prosper, and righteousness to be despised and trodden under foot. The permission of such evils does not prove that the righteous Lord "sits on the circle of heaven" as an idle spectator of passing events, unconcerned about our actions, whether they are vicious or virtuous. No; it only argues that here men are allowed to use their free agency; for the abuse of which they must hereafter give a solemn account to God. Difficulties like these must be left to the day of retribution, when that which is "crooked will be made straight," and a perfect separation will take place between the precious and the vile;when the wicked "shall go away into everlasting punishment, but the righteous into life eternal'."
Matt. xxv. 46.
ON THE SACRED TRINITY.-THE DIVINITY OF CHRIST.DIVINITY AND PERSONALITY OF THE HOLY SPIRIT.
§ 1. THE SACRED TRINITY.
2 Corinth. xiii. 14. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ,and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. REASON, by the utmost extent of her researches, could never have found out the mystery which the Bible reveals, that in the Divine nature there exist three distinct Persons, subsisting in one undivided essence, each of whom is acknowledged by himself to be "God and Lord"." This is indeed a doctrine which we can neither fully comprehend nor explain; yet we should thankfully receive the infor
• Athanasian Creed.
mation which God, who best knows the mode of His own existence, has been pleased to give us respecting it. Without entering into a metaphysical disquisition on a subject so awfully profound, I shall select a few of those passages of Holy Writ (to which many others might be added) which have led sincere Christians to believe the doctrine, on the testimony of the Divine Records.
1. The unity of the Godhead is constantly asserted by the Sacred Penmen, who assure us there is but one God, infinitely wise, powerful, and good, the Author and Sustainer of all things. It seems to be one of the leading designs of the Old Testament to establish this truth, in opposition to the multitude of false Deities, in whom the Heathen professed to believe. To prevent the Israelites from being infected with the reigning idolatry, great pains were taken to give them correct notions of the God with whom they had entered into covenant. "Hear,
O Israel! the Lord our God is one Lordaa." The first commandment interdicts the worship of Idols, and declares the honour due to the Supreme Majesty of heaven: "Thou shalt have no other Gods but me".
The Lord asserts the unity of his Divine essence in the clearest manner: "There is no other God but one. Besides me there is none else: I know no other "." "Before me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and besides me there is no Saviourd'
The New Testament speaks just in the same strain: And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." The Apostles uniformly inculcate the belief Exodus.xx. 8. Isai. xliv. 6-8. Isai. xliii. 10, 11. John xvii. 3.
Deut. vi. 4.
of One God amongst the first articles of the Christian faith: they reprobate the Polytheism of the Gentile world, as a most aggravating affront to the Divine Being; and draw an argument for the mu'tual forbearance, love, and union of believers with one another, from the Scripture doctrine, "There is one God, one Lord, one faith, one baptism"."
2. Whilst the Scriptures thus affirm the unity of the Divine nature, they positively teach us, that in this one true God there are Three distinct personal subsistences, of the same power and excellence", though distinguished as to order of time and operation:-God the Father, who is the fountain of the Deity; God the Son, mysteriously begotten of the Father before all worlds, even from all eternity; and God the Holy Ghost, proceeding from both. It will be in vain to attempt to demonstrate this point by unassisted reason; for it must be admitted that the existence of Three Persons in One God could never have been thought of, had it not been so expressly revealed in the Bible. There are several intimations of the doctrine in the Old Testament. The use of the Hebrew substantive Elohim, which is in the plural number, with a singular verb, was most probably designed to prepare us for the reception of this mystery. It is not easy to discover what end could be answered by the adoption of this anomalous form of expression, unless we suppose it was intended to suggest a plurality of Divine persons in the Godhead.
Again; the frequent union of Elohim with plural verbs, adjectives, and pronouns, leads to the same conclusion'.
f 1 Cor. viii. 6.
Eph. iv. 5, 6.
h 1 John v. 7,
1 Gen. i. 1-6. iii. 22. xi. 26, 27. Deut. iv. 7. See Jones on
There are other notices of this truth scattered throughout the writings of Moses and the Prophets. The mention of the Lord raining fire from the Lord upon Sodom*; the form which the High-priest was taught to adopt in blessing the Children of Israel '; the description of the Wisdom of God, as a Person with God from eternity"; the mention of the Spirit of God as assisting in the work of creation", and as inspiring the Prophets in the delivery of their predictions", afford ground for believing that they pointed at the doctrine of a Triune God, as the proper object of religious adoration. In the New Testament, such clear proofs are given on the subject, as ought to satisfy the scruples of the most incredulous persons. The commission given by Jesus Christ to his Apostles is decisive on the point:" Go, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Baptism is an act of dependence and devotion. To be baptized, therefore, in the name of the Trinity, intimates a thorough reliance on those Three Divine Persons, as joint donors of spiritual mercies, and a desire to consecrate ourselves to their service. Now this act of dedication to the Son and Holy Ghost, as well as to the Father, undeniably evinces their divinity and equality in a solemn act of worship, which can only belong to the Divine nature. None but God can ensure the grant of heavenly blessings; and, therefore, as the Three Persons are joined together without any distinction, in whose name men are to be "baptized for the remission of sins," they must all Three be the True God; otherwise the name of a mere man, or of
a creature, or of some quality or operation of Deity, would be thus associated with that of God, which is absurd and blasphemous to suppose.
The benediction of St. Paul in behalf of the Corinthians is a remarkable confirmation of this truth. At one time, he invokes a blessing on them, in the name of Two of the sacred Persons: "Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father, and Christ Jesus our Lord"." At another, he unites them all: "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all." Now, if Christ and the Holy Spirit were merely created Beings, it would indeed be a great offence against God to class him with creatures so much inferior to himself: but, since they are named as distinct Persons, and prayed to as the grand fountains whence all spiritual good flows, we inust conclude they are all equal and Divine; otherwise it would be highly improper to place Christ before the Father, in an act of adoration which is due only to the blessed God.
There are passages in which the Three Divine Persons are mentioned altogether; such as that in which Christ says, " I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever." The salutation of St. John to the Churches in Asia refers to the sacred Three: "Grace and peace, from Him which is, and which was, and which is to come; and from the seven spirits which are before his throne, and from Jesus Christ"." They who wish to see a more full discussion of the subject, may consult those authors who have enlarged upon
2 Timothy i. 2.
• Rev. i. 4, 5.