« PreviousContinue »
ON THE SACRED DOCTRINE OF THE
A SERMON FOR TRINITY SUNDAY.
1 CORINTHIANS, CHAPTER 2, VERSES 13, 14.
"Not in the words which man's wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man receiveth not the things of the spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
WHEN the image of God was lost to our souls through sin, it was a necessary consequence that the powers of our understanding should also suffer; that, corrupted in heart, the mind should become naturally weak and ignorant of spiritual wisdom. The proofs of this sad fruit of original sin are within us and around us everywhere. The moral degradation of our nature exists in the frequency of sin and sinful habits; in that strange alienation of our natural will and affections from God, that gracious Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier, in whom we all "live and move and have our being." And the degraded condition of the
powers of our understanding is equally manifest in the sad errors continually occurring in all ranks of mankind, from the wrong use of reason, from the feeble exercise of reason, and from the insufficient improvement of reason in the management of our minds.
This day's solemn service calls, in an especial manner, for our earnest attention to such reflections as these, which shew the naturally corrupt and infirm state of the human understanding, inasmuch as it is the day set apart by our church for the profitable and reverential meditation upon the deep mystery of the Incomprehensible Godhead; a day more immediately dedicated for purposes of true Christian worship, in honour given to the eternal God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
The text which is now brought before us, speaks of spiritual things, unknown to, never to be understood by, the natural man; by any man under his own natural weakness and insufficiency; by any man in a state of wilful sin, whatever be his intellectual acquirements; by any man unrenewed by the Holy Spirit: and the reason given for this is, "because they are spiritually discerned," to be known, in their permitted extent, to those only who are endued with the Christian graces of the Spirit of God. Such, among other sacred truths
of our holy religion, is the doctrine of the Adorable Trinity. That we may the better consider our duty in the receiving and making practical this most assured truth, let us divide it into two heads:
First, that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is a Scripture doctrine. Secondly, that there is dreadful danger in refusing to receive it.
The first proposition, that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is a Scripture doctrine, may be shewn from very many passages of Holy Scripture, and from the very nature and express revelation of the Christian covenant. Every one who will read Scripture, as it ought to be read, with an humble and teachable spirit, cannot read long without being convinced of this great truth.
No one will deny the unity of God: Holy Scripture most clearly, and with the most watchful' jealousy declares, that there is but one God. The same 'Scripture, with exactly the same assurance and authority, as clearly shews, that, in the unity of the Godhead, there are three divine Persons, each taking the "attributes of Deity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.
With respect to the divine attributes of the "Father, none can doubt of their right application. He, whom we Christians believe to be the first Person of the incomprehensible God
head, is, without all contradiction, very and eternal God.
Holy Scripture also frequently speaks of the second Person, the Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, as God. St. John begins his Gospel with these remarkable words. "In the beginning was the WORD," well understood in this place to mean Christ; "and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."* Christ Himself said, "I and my Father are One :"+ and the Jews of that very time, who heard these words spoken, readily perceived that He hereby "made Himself God." And
our Lord Himself afterwards confirmed this truth in the hearing of His own disciples, in these words: "He that hath seen me, hath seen the Father."§
It was this great and essential truth which was preached everywhere by the Apostles, after Christ had ascended into the heavens, and they made Him known to Jews and Gentiles, as "Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever."||
These texts are plain and positive. Language cannot admit of a simpler mode of teaching a doctrine upon which stands the strong foundation of the Christian faith.
Without great violence and much perver
John, i. 1. + John, x. 30.
‡ John, x. 33. Rom. ix. 5.
sion of the passages which entirely prove this doctrine to have come from God, the plain doctrine thus taught in His own most holy word, cannot be misunderstood. Many other texts, equally plain and positive, and a vast number easily rendered to bear upon the same truth by the sense and nature of the subject, might be brought before us. But these are
He who will resist one single argument, plain, and adapted for the entire proof of some Scripture doctrine, would not be really convinced by increased evidence of the same kind. In the mind of such persons there must be some predisposing cause against being convinced at all. Let such look for it in some moral or intellectual error, and then consider what was once said to one in torment
upon this very point, of the proof of religious truth: "Neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead."
The third Person in the adorable Trinity, the Holy Ghost, hath the nature and attributes of Deity ascribed to Him, equally with the Father and the Son. That "lying to the Holy Ghost was lying unto God," St. Peter most expressly declared on the awful judgment to be inflicted on Ananias and Sapphira.* St. Paul speaks of "the deep things of God,"
* Acts, v.