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(Christ) we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Here the apostle plainly supposes that the christians to whom he wrote were well acquainted with the great and practical doctrine of the Trinity, and in their most solemn devotions exercised distinct and peculiar affections towards each distinct person in the Godhead. Now this familiar manner in which Christ and the apostles speak of the doctrine of the Trinity is a strong presumptive evidence that it was not a new doctrine in their day, but a doctrine which had been revealed and believed ever since the first promise that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. If it were ever proper for guilty creatures in this world to present their prayers and praises to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit, it was proper before the law, under the law, and under the gospel. Hence we may justly conclude,
That we ought to address and worship the one true God, as existing in three persons.
As it is the only design of the present discourse to set this subject in a plain and practical light, I shall proceed to illustrate it in the following method:
I. Show that there is but one true God.
II. That the one true God exists in three persons.
III. Why we ought to address and worship the one true God, according to this personal distinction in the divine nature.
I. We are to consider the unity of the Deity.
It is much easier to prove from the light of nature that there is one God, than to prove the impossibility of there being any more than one. Though some plausible arguments in favor of the unity of the Deity may be drawn from the beauty, order and harmony apparent in the creatures and objects around us, and from the nature of a self-existent, independent and perfect Being, yet these arguments fall far short of full proof or strict demonstration. To obtain complete and satisfactory evidence that there is but one living and true God, we must have resort to the scriptures of truth, in which the divine unity is clearly and fully revealed. God has always been extremely jealous of his unity, which has been so often disbelieved and denied in this rebellious and idolatrous world. He has never condescended to give his glory to another, nor his praise to false and inferior deities. He said, in the first of his commands to his own people, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." After this, he directed Moses to go and say, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." These precepts and prohibitions soon lost their restraining influence upon a people prone to backsliding; which gave occasion for more frequent and solemn declarations of the divine unity and supremacy, by succeeding 17
prophets. Isaiah is directed to say, "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts: I am the first, and I am the last; and besides me there is no god." " "Is there any god besides me? yea, there is no god: I know not any." "I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me: Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure." "I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." In these passages, the God of Israel asserts his unity, not only in opposition to the heathen in general, who supposed there were many gods, but more especially against the Manicheans, who supposed there were two eternal, selfexistent beings, the one the author of all good, and the other the author of all evil. And taking these texts in this sense, they prove not only that the God of Israel is the greatest of all that have been supposed to be gods, but that he is the only true God, exclusively of all other beings in the universe. Our Saviour taught the unity of God as plainly and expressly as the prophets. When a certain man came and said unto him, "Good master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life?" he demanded, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God." At another time he said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou hast sent." And when the unity of the Deity was implicitly called in question by Satan, who tempted him to worship him, he repelled and silenced him by saying, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." The apostle Paul also asserts the unity of God in the most plain and unequivocal terms. "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one." "Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one." "There is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all." "Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever. Amen." Thus the inspired writers unitedly and expressly assert, that there is but one living and true God, who possesses selfexistence, independence, and every other divine perfection. But yet,
II. The one living and true God exists in three distinct persons.
It is generally supposed that the inspired writers of the Old Testament give some plain intimations of a plurality of persons in the Godhead. Moses, in speaking of God, very often used
the plural number, when the idiom of the language allowed him to use the same word, or some other, in the singular number; which is a presumptive evidence that he meant to intimate a personal distinction in the divine nature. And this supposition is strengthened, by his representing God himself as speaking in the same manner on different occasions. He tells us that when God was about to create man, he said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." And again, that when he was about to confound the language of the builders of Babel, he said, "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Moses often mentions "the angel of the Lord," who appeared to the ancient patriarchs in the figure of a man, but spake the language of God. This was undoubtedly Christ, the second person in the Trinity, whom the apostle says had been in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God. Job seems to have been acquainted with the plurality of persons in the Deity, and to have built his hopes of salvation upon the atonement of the second. "I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." David clearly understood the doctrine of the Trinity, and frequently refers to each person, in the book of Psalms. He says to God, "Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me." And again he says, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit, or whither shall I flee from thy presence?" He once and again mentions both the Father and Son together. "The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool." This refers to the promise of the Father to the Son, in the second Psalm. "The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession." These predictions respected each person in the Trinity, as the apostle Peter tells us in the second chapter of Acts. "Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins according to the flesh he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne: He, seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we all are witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now see and hear. For David is not ascended into
the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool." After this, Peter farther says, "Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold of these days." It plainly appears from this passage that all the prophets who foretold the coming of Christ understood the doctrine of the Trinity, and the different parts which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit were to act, in carrying into execution the gracious scheme of redemption. And just so far as the people of God understood the predictions of their prophets, respecting the Messiah, they too must have known and believed the plurality of persons in the Deity.
But we find this, like many other great and important doctrines, more clearly revealed by Christ and the apostles, than it had been before by the prophets. Christ said a great deal about the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He commanded his apostles and their successors in the ministry to baptize visible believers in the name of this sacred Trinity. He promised to send the Holy Ghost, to comfort his disciples, and to convince and convert sinners. And he neglected no proper opportunity of teaching his hearers that he, his Father, and the Holy Spirit, were three equally divine persons, united in one God. After his death, his apostles strenuously maintained and propagated the same doctrine. The apostle John wrote his gospel with a principal view to maintain the divinity and equality of each person in the Trinity. And in his first epistle he expressly says, "There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one." The apostle Paul begins and ends all his epistles in the very spirit and language of the Trinity. It may suffice to mention one instance, at the close of his second epistle to the Corinthians. "The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen." These few passages of Scripture plainly show that God has revealed himself to his people, in every age of the church, as existing in three persons.
III. This leads us to inquire why we ought to address and worship the one true God, according to this personal distinction in the divine nature.
1. The first reason which occurs is, because we ought, in our religious devotions, to acknowledge every thing in God which belongs to his essential glory. Much of his essential glory consists in his existing a Trinity in Unity, which is a mode of existence infinitely superior to that of any other beings in the universe. Though there is a wide difference in the
powers and capacities, as well as moral characters of intelligent creatures, yet we know of no difference in their mode of existence. Among the vast variety of created natures, no individual has ever been known who existed in a plurality of persons. This mode of existence is peculiar to the one only living and true God, and constitutes one of the essential perfections of his nature. We ought, therefore, to acknowledge this as well as any other divine attribute, in our addresses to the Deity. It is the great design of religious worship to give unto God all the honor and glory which are due unto his name. There is precisely the same reason why we should address our Maker as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God in three persons, as why we should address him as the first, the greatest, the wisest, and the best of beings.
2. We ought to address and worship God according to the personal distinction in the divine nature, because we are deeply indebted to each person in the Godhead, for the office he sustains and the part he performs in the great work of redemption. The Father is by nature God, and by office the Creator, Lawgiver, Governor and Judge of the world. It is the Father in his official character who formed the gospel scheme of salvation; who appointed Christ to be the Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost the Sanctifier of mankind; who created all things according to his eternal purpose in Christ Jesus; who gave the prohibition to Adam, and the law to Israel; who governed the world from Adam to Christ, and who will judge the world at the last day. Though any or all of these works may be ascribed to the Son and Spirit, yet they cannot be properly ascribed to either, in the same sense in which they are to be ascribed to the Father. Neither the Son nor the Spirit ever work officially with the Father, nor the Father officially with the Son or Spirit. It is the peculiar and exclusive office of the Father to foreordain all things, to create all things, to govern all things, and to give law and judgment to the whole intelligent creation. The Son is by nature God, and by office the Redeemer, Mediator or Saviour of the world. In this office he has acted, and still acts, in subordination to the Father. According to his eternal appointment, he became personally united with human nature, took upon him the form of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, to make complete atonement for all mankind; and he now lives to intercede for the elect, and to overrule all things for their benefit. The Holy Ghost is by nature God, and by office the Sanctifier and Comforter of the heirs of salvation. In this office he acts in subordination to the Son as well as to the Father, and applies the atonement of Christ to those who were ordained to eternal life. He awakens