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of our religious affections; would, as to these, altogether lower and debase the religious principle, and, in total repugnance to every former revelation, teach men to look up, as to the bestower of every important blessing, even redemption from eternal misery, not to the great and supreme eternal Father alone, but also to another being who is not God, (as is affirmed,) yet concerning whom we are taught, "that he is the only-begotten Son of God;" "by whom alone we can know God," "or come to God,"—the mediator and intercessor with God for man, by whom we obtain remission of our sins ;—"that he is the way and the truth, the life and light of the world;" who is entitled to our most fervent gratitude, our perfect confidence, our unreserved submission ;-by faith in whom "we are turned from darkness unto light, and from the power of Satan unto God;" —who is “to appear with the holy angels, on the throne of Divine glory, at the last great day of final judgment, to call from the grave the whole human race, to try the secrets of all hearts, and by his sentence fix the eternal doom of every human being."
On the contrary, the view of the incarnation and divinity of Christ, "at once truly God and truly man," the second person in the glorious Trinity, which the Trinitarian doctrine imparts, is most harmoniously connected tvith the statement which the apostolic writings exhibit of the grand scheme of redemption; of the feelings excited by the view of this scheme, of the affections with which believers should regard the Redeemer, and the honor which is due to him: For does it not instantly follow, that faith and obedience, gratitude and adoration, in the very highest degree, are his unquestionable right? If the penitent soul is certain that the same Jesus, who died for his sins, has also risen for his justification; if he is fully assured, that he is not only Man but God, this faith removes that intolerable burden which presses down the humbled sinner's soul, the load of irrevocable and unpardoned guilt, and calms that terror which would embitter to the heart every thought of the Divinity, the terror of unsatisfied justice, which ought not to remit punishment. Despondence is banished, hope revived, repentance encouraged, exertion animated, devotion kindled, and the heart drawn to God by the warmest gratitude, and the most attrac
Looking to Jesus, we behold in the Divine Lawgiver, our unalterable steady friend. In the Divine Judge we behold our
all-merciful Redeemer. As man we are sure of his sympathy, as God we are sure of his power; and from both united, we look for our eternal deliverance. The immense gulf, which appeared to divide the creature from his God, is closed, and we are assured of access to the throne of grace, where our Redeemer sits, to hold out the golden sceptre of mercy, that we may touch and live. We are assured our prayers will be heard, for he who is ever present and ever watchful, and "knoweth what we ought to pray for,” will asist our prayers. Whatsoever "we ask of him, not doubting, we shall receive." “And wheresoever two or three are gathered together in his name, there is he in the midst of them.”
Thus strip the Redeemer of his Divinity, and the whole Gospel scheme would be doubt and darkness, inconsistency and confusion. Admit him to be God and Man, and that Gospel exhibits an object of faith and gratitude, admirably adapted to all the affections and powers, all the wants and weaknesses of human nature; admirably promotive of our reformation and sanctification of our advancement in love to man and love to God, and of the improvement of all the means of grace, the accomplishment of all our hopes of glory.
The argument we have thus pursued in reference to Christ as the second person in the adorable Trinity, and as the meritorious ground and ever-living medium of our acceptance with God and of all spiritual and everlasting good, might also be developed, and with equal force, respecting the absolute necessity of the Holy Spirit in order to secure the regeneration, sanctification and comfort of believers.
The doctrine of the Trinity, therefore, affects every truth in the Bible which bears on man's salvation, the nature, person and work of a Redeemer,—the necessity, nature and way of acceptance with God,—the nature of regeneration, repentance, justification, sanctification and redemption, the principle and motive of all acceptable obedience, of holiness and hope in life,-of peace and comfort in death, and of everlasting life beyond the grave. It affects also, the nature and necessity of prayer, preaching, and the other means of grace, of the church and its ordinances, and of living, loving and experimental piety. In short, compared with the truths which the Bible understood, as Trinitarians interpret it, discloses, all other knowledge is vain and worthless; and compared with the hopes it inspires, all other hopes are cold and comfortless.
"The doctrine of the Trinity therefore, is, and must be, a truth of supreme and practical importance. The simple statement of it is-as Dr. Wardlaw remarks-enough to show that it must rank as a first principle;—an article of prime importance; a foundation stone in the temple of truth; a star of the very first magnitude in the hemisphere of christian doctrine. For my own part, I believe it to be even more than this; a kind of central Sun, around which the whole system of christianity, in all its glory, and in all its harmony, revolves.
“It is very obvious, therefore, that two systems, of which the sentiments, on subjects such as these, are in direct opposition, cannot, with any propriety, be confounded together under one common name. That both should be christianity is impossible; else christianity is a term which distinguishes nothing. Viewing the matter abstractly, and without affirming, for the present, what is truth and what is error, this, I think, I may with confidence affirm, that to call schemes so opposite in all their great leading articles by a common appellation, is more absurd, than it would be to confound together those two irreconcileable theories of astronomy, of which the one places the Earth, and the other the Sun, in the center of the planetary system." They are, in truth, essentially different religions. For, if opposite views as to the object of worship, the groundhope for eternity, the rule of faith and duty, and the principles and motives of true obedience; if opposite views as to these do not constitute different religions, we may, without much difficulty, discover some principle of union and identity amongst all religions whatever; we may realize the doctrine of Pope's universal prayer; and extend the right hand of fellowship to the worshippers at the Mosque, and to the votaries of Brama. “I unfeignedly account the doctrine of the Trinity," says Richard Baxter, “the sum and kernel of the christian religion."
What other conclusion can be drawn from that final, authoritative commission given by Christ as the Divine Head of the Church, when about to ascend to that glory which he had with the Father from before the foundation of the world? The evidences and effects of his Divine power had been everywhere displayed. As Head of the Church, All power in Heaven and Earth were given unto him. And in the exercise of that power we find Christ making an express profession of faith in the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, the doctrinal foundation of the Church of God which he had purchased with his own blood,
and the form of initiation into its membership.-(Matt. xxviii: 16.)
The very learned Bishop Bull,* in his elaborate work on proof of the fact that the Church of God in the earliest ages considered it essential to believe in the doctrine of the Trinity, observes, that his antagonist Episcopius admitted, that the most ancient creed used in the administration of baptism, from the very times of the Apostles, was this—“I believe in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost;" according to the form prescribed by Jesus himself. Episcopius, it is true, wished to weaken the force of the inference from this form, but the "Bishop in answer, shows that in this creed, brief as it was, the true divinity of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is so distinctly asserted, that in so short a form of words, it was scarcely possible it could be more clearly expressed; for first, it is plain, that in this form, "I believe in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit,” the word God is referred in common to the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, a fact which is still more evident in the original Greek than in the translation. It is most certain that the ancients thus understood this brief confession. For instance, Tertullian, expounding the common faith of christians, with respect to the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, affirms, “The Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, and each is God.” Cyprian also, in his epistle to Jubajanus, thus argues against the Baptism of Heretics: “If one can be baptized by Heretics, he can obtain the remission of sins; if the remission of sins, he is sanctified and become a temple of God. "I ask, of what God? if of the Creator, it cannot be, for he has not believed on him: if of Christ, how can he be the temple of Christ, who denies that Christ is God? if of the Holy Spirit, since the three are one, how can the Holy Spirit be propitious to him, who is the enemy either of the Father or the Son ?" The attentive reader will here also observe, that Cyprian most expressly teaches, that a belief of the real Godhead of our Lord Christ was altogether necessary to salvation, since he declares that "he cannot become the temple of God;" which is the same thing as to say, he cannot be saved who denies that Christ is God. “And to me, continues this learned prelate, it appears, that in these few words, “I believe in God the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost," this great truth, even that the Son and Holy Spirit are one God
*Judicium Eccl. Cath. Ch. iv. + This we shall have occasion afterwards to prove.
with the Father, is more clearly expressed than in some more full creeds which were afterwards introduced, in which other additions being made to the words: “I believe in God the Father," and also after the mention of the Son, without repeating the word God in the clauses concerning the Son and the Holy Spirit, it might seem, and did seem to some, that the title God belonged to the Father alone, plainly contrary to the intention and opinion of those who formed these more enlarged creeds. Secondly, in this form, the Son, as well as the Holy Spirit, are united with the Father as partners of the dominion, and sharers of that faith, honor, worship, and obedience, which the person to be baptized vows and promises, and which he who believes can belong to a mere man, or to any creature, must be conceived totally ignorant of what it is which constitutes the horrible guilt of idolatry."
But, in addition to the truth of this great doctrine, this divine commission of our Saviour makes evident what is too often unattended to, and what we now wish to illustrate, the direct practical tendency of the doctrine of the Trinity, since it is connected by him with that scheme of instruction which "teaches men to observe and do all things whatsoever he had commanded." Beyond any reasonable doubt or controversy, the grand peculiar doctrine of the christian Revelation is here declared to be the existence of Three Persons in the Divine essence, forming together the one Godhead, the exclusive object of our adoration and obedience; and in the Divine dispensation towards man, and especially in the grand scheme of redemption, contributing each their distinct parts, which supply distinct grounds of gratitude and reverence to each of these divine persons. This great truth is, therefore, put forward by the founder of our holy religion, the author and finisher of our faith, not as an obscure and unconnected dogma, which may be rejected because mysterious, or disregarded as unessential, but as the great confession of faith, indispensably required from all who seek admission into his church on earth, or hope to be received as his followers in Heaven.
Is it not also evident, from the constant, affectionate, and fervent repetition of this promise in the form of a benediction by the Apostles, that this great truth of the divinity of our Redeemer, and his union with God the Father, is not merely a speculative dogma, necessary indeed, to our entrance into the Church of Christ, by baptism, but which may be afterwards neglected, or forgotten; but, that as with the holy apostle, so