« EdellinenJatka »
divine attributes are ascribed to the Son and Spirit. És the Father represented as concerned in the work of ereation? the Son and Spirit are represented as equally concerned in it. Is the Father to be honored by religious worship? so are the Son and Spirit. All these representations of the divinity and equality of the three persons in the sacred Trinity are to be found in the Bible. Besides, this clearly appears from what was said under the first particular. For that mysterious Something in the divine Nature, which lays a foundation for three persons in the one living and true God, lays an equal foundation for their absolute equality. It is as necessary, that each person in the Trinity should be equal, as that each person should exist. For that, which is the ground of their existence, is the ground of their being absolutely equal in every divine perfection.
3. The Scripture represents the three equally divine Persons in the Trinity, as acting in a certain order, in the work of redemption. Though they are absolutely equal, in Nature; yet in Office, the first person is superior to the second, and the second is superior to the third. The Father holds the office of Creator, the Son the office of Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost the office of Sanctifier. The Father is represented as sending the Son, and the Son is represented as sending the Holy Ghost. The Son acts in subordination to the Father; and the Spirit acts in subordination to the Son and Father both. It is the dictate of wisdom, that where two or more persons act in concert, that they should act in Order. The three equally divine Persons act in concert in the work of redemption; and for that reason, they act in Order, or in subordination one to another. And this superiority and inferiority of Office is the sole foundation of all that noménal inequality, which the Scripture represents as subsisting between the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, in carrying into effect their
grace. 4. The Scripture teaches us, that each of the divine Persons takes his peculiar Name from the peculiar office, which he sustains in the Economy of redemption. Each person has a peculiar name given to him in the text. “There are three that bear record
“ in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost." The first Person assumes the name of Father, because he is by Office the Creator, or Author of all things, and especially of the human nature of Christ. The second Person assumes the name of Son and Word, by virtue of his incarnation, and mediatorial conduct. The Angel, who predicted his birth, intimated to his Mother that he should be called the Son of God, on account of his incarnation. “The power of the Highest shall overshadow thee: there. fore also that holy thing which shall be born of thee, shall be called the Son of God." Christ is called the Word, in reference to his mediatorial conduct. His great business in this world was to unfold the divine purposes. Hence we read, in the first chapter of John, where he is repeatedly called the Word; "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son who was in the bosom of the Father, he hath declar. ed him.” It is equally evident, that the third Person in the Trinity is called the Holy Ghost, on account of his peculiar office as Sanctifier. No other reason can be assigned for his having this peculiar name. He is not essentially more holy than the Father, or Son. But in as much as it is his peculiar office, to apply the redemption procured by Christ, by renewing the hearts of sinners, and making them willing, in the
day of his power, to embrace the offers of mercy, he may be properly called the Holy Ghost.
The distinct office, which each Person in the sacred Trinity sustains, in carrying on the work of redemption, lays a proper foundation for the distinct and pe. culiar name given to each in Scripture. Nor can we derive these names from any other origin. Though there be a foundation in the nature of the Deity, for a distinction of Persons; yet we cannot conceive, that there is the same foundation in his nature, for calling the first Person Father, the second Person Son, and the third Person Holy Ghost. These names clearly appear to originate from the work of redemption, and probably were unknown in heaven until the purposes of grace were there revealed. It is certain, however, that they cannot be supposed to be derived from any original difference between the three Persons in the Godhead, without destroying their Equality, and of consequence, their Divinity. I may add,
5. The Scripture represents these three divine Persons as One God. This is the plain language of the text. “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” Our Lord clearly taught the union between himself and the Father. He asserted, that he dwelt in the Father, and the Father in him. And he said in plain terms, “I and my Father are one It appears from the light of nature, that there is one God; and it appears from the light of divine revelation, that there is but one. The Holy One of Israel declares, “I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no god. Is there a god beside me? yea, there is no god: I know not any.” If there be but One God,
. then it necessarily follows, that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are not three Gods, but only three Per
sons in one self-existent, independent, eternal Be. ing The three Persons are not one Person, but one God. Or the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are three in respect to their personality, and but one in respect to their nature and essence. I now proceed to show,
II. That the Scriptural account of the mysterious doctrine of the sacred Trinity, is not repugnant to the dictates of sound reason. Those, who disbelieve, that God exists a Trinity in Unity, suppose, that such a mode of existence is not oniy above reason, but contrary to its plainest dictates. They consider the doctrine of three Persons in one God, not as a profound mystery, but as a gross absurdity. And it must be granted that any doctrine is absurd, and ought to be exploded, which is really contrary to the dictates of sound reason. The only wise God can no more require us to believe that, which is absurd, than he can command us to do that, which is sinful. If we can clearly perceive, therefore, that there is a real absurd ity in the doctrine of the Trinity, we ought not to believe it. But, perhaps, if we candidly attend to what may be said, under this head of discourse, we shall be convinced, that the Scriptural doctrine of the Trinity is no absurdity, but a great and glorious mystery; which lays a broad and solid foundation, upon
which we may safely build our hopes of a blessed immortality. Here it may be proper to observe,
1. The doctrine of the Trinity, as represented in Scripture, implies no contradiction. Any doctrine, which necessarily involves a contradiction, is repugnant to reason, and demonstrably false. For it is out of the power of the human mind to conceive, that a real contradiction should be true. We cannot conceive, that two and three are equal to ten, nor that ten and five are equal to twenty. We cannot conceive
that a part should be equal to the whole; or that a body should move east and west at the same time. As soon as these propositions are understood, they instantly appear to be plain contradictions. And did the doctrine of the Trinity, according to Scripture, imply that three Persons are one Person, or three Gods are one God, it would necessarily involve a plain contra, diction. But the Scripture speaks more consistently upon this subject. It asserts, that there is but one God, and yet three divine Persons. This only implies, that three divine Persons are one God; and who can perceive a contradiction in this representation of a Trinity in Unity? We find no difficulty in conceiving of three divine Persons. It is just as easy to conceive of three divine persons, as of three human persons. No man, perhaps, ever found the least difficulty, in conceiving of the Father as a distinct Person from the Son, nor in conceiving of the Son as a distinct Per, son from the Holy Ghost, nor in conceiving of the Holy Ghost as a distinct Person from both the Father and the Son. But the only difficulty, in this case, lies in conceiving these three persons to be but one. And it is evident, that no man can conceive three divine Persons to be one divine Person, any more than he can conceive three Angels to be but one Angel. But it does not hence follow, that no man can conceive, that three divine Persons should be but one divine Being. For, if we only suppase, that Being may signify something different from Person, in re spect to Deity; then we can easily conceive that God should be but one Being, and yet exist in three Persons. It is impossible, therefore, for the most discerning and penetrating mind, to perceive a real contradiction, in the Scriptures representing the one living and true God, as existing in three distinct Persons.