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brings before us, let this most serious consideration be addressed. When the Holy
Spirit of God had so far departed from His extraordinary gifts to men, as to "add no more" to the revealed word, the sacred volume of inspiration, at its close, was guarded with this heavy threat: "I testify unto every man that heareth the words of the prophecy of this book, if any man shall add unto these things, God shall add unto him the plagues that are written in this book: And if any man shall take away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God shall take away his part from the book of life, and out of the Holy City, and from the things which are written in this book."* These are, indeed, momentous sayings; and it well becomes every man who doubts of the mysteries of religion, merely because they are mysteries, to consider what he is doing. The doctrine of the Holy Trinity, three Persons in one God, is no new doctrine. It has been most diligently examined into, as matter of faith, by the best, and wisest, and most learned men in every age of the Christian church; and has ever produced conviction of its truth, after a faithful, an humble, a diligent examination. Even under the Mosaic dispensation, this doctrine was so far revealed, as to secure the * Rev. xxii. 18, 19.
belief of the Jews, that there was a plurality of persons in the Godhead: and, what is worthy of great attention, there is not, probably, any religion amongst the various systems of heathen mythology, which is not marked with some striking analogy to the true faith originally revealed, and evidencing some notion of a distinction of Persons in the Supreme Being, though lost in its purity in the progress of universal corruption and sin.
But there is a consideration of far greater weight for us, who are professed believers of the Gospel, to dwell upon; and that is, that this sacred doctrine is so interwoven with the whole scheme of the Christian covenant of mercy, redemption, and sanctification, that we know of this covenant only through the therein acknowledged Deity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.
The very nature and terms of that covenant shew that it was begun, carried on, and perfected on our behalf, by "God, in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself." Far better, then, will it be for every one, in the experimental acknowledgment of his own weakness, to accept a faith, into whose incomprehensible mysteries the very "angels desire to look." It is a faith which has been most diligently examined by the learned and the wise of all ages of the Christian church;
and every aid that sound learning could afford, has served to establish a truth, which, the more it is studied with humility and pious self-application, the better is it seen as a divine revelation issuing for the spiritual and eternal happiness of mankind. To those who thus receive and embrace it, and render it, according to the divine will, practically useful in the promotion of piety and humility, it is a doctrine full of grace and comfort for this life, and assuring them of better knowledge, and eternal glory in the next.
Let us each then examine, with much care and sincerity, what our faith really is; and, at the same time, remember the solemn necessity of a right faith in all matters revealed by Almighty God. Let us prove our ownselves, and see, that what we believe in, as a doctrine coming from God, be well grounded on the truth of His holy word. If it be, it will increase more and more, and manifest itself to our souls in a holy life. This is the genuine, the only fruit of a true faith. Without this proof of faith, there is no more, at present, than the assent of the understanding; and then, like alms deeds without the indwelling principle of charity, it is but as "sounding brass, or a tinkling cymbal." Upon this single test, then, let us be the judges of our own souls. If our lives be sinful; if any one known
or wilful sin, or the determined neglect of some plain duty, stain our daily life, we have not any profitable faith in the divine doctrines of the Gospel. Arguments may possibly have convinced our understanding; but our soul, the seat of the moral feeling, and spring of the moral life, remains still in the hardness and impenitency of unbelief.
Unless we have faith, we cannot please God; and unless our faith be made manifest in a holy life, it is barren, unscriptural, and vain.
Let these considerations, which, in their final prospect await us all at the last judgment, have their proper effect.
Awakened, by divine grace, to the real importance of a right faith in all the great mysteries of the Gospel, let us pray for, and cultivate that 'holy gift, with the earnestness of those who know that they must hereafter give account, not only of what they have done, but of the opportunities which they shall have received here of rightly knowing and understanding what the will and revelation of God are. "Be not wise in your own conceit," is the command of Holy Scripture. Let us submit to the plain teaching of the word of God, practise what is there taught, and praise God, in a holy life, for the mysterious truths, which He hath been graci
ously pleased to reveal, as an exercise of our love, our faith, and trust in Him.
deep things of our holy religion be pondered with reverential awe; let them be accepted with sacred love towards Him who alone can give spiritual strength to understand so much of His nature and His ways, as He intends us to understand. Let us go no further than the plain and simple word written for our learning. That only is the foundation of our faith: that only is the rule of our daily life. So believed in, and so brought into practice, it will then be made a sure and comfortable hope of present peace, and of future and eternal happiness; and God, who in His incomprehensible nature of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, hath reconciled a world, fallen through sin, unto Himself, will vouchsafe to the humble believer of His word, the entire fulfilment of His redeeming love.