Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

named, constitute that one true God, into whose name, faith, and profession, people of all the nations of the earth, and, among them, we who are here assembled, have been baptized. In this consisted the sum of Christianity: on this foundation were the apostles to erect a church throughout all the world. Here, if any where, a right understanding, upon so important a point, as the nature of God, and the manner of his existence, would be highly necessary: nor could any one mistake more dangerously and fundamentally, than in such an article as this.-Let us then consider how much is implied in the form of baptism, thus prescribed by our Lord to the universal church, and by that church observed, from its first foundation to the present hour; how this is confirmed by the declarations of Scripture at large; and the interest we have in the doctrine, that shall be thus established.

I. Now by the being baptized in the name of God, can be meant no less than entering into covenant with a person, as God; professing faith in him as such; enlisting one's self into his service; and vowing all obedience and submission to him. Such is the natural, the obvious import of this rite, by which we are admitted into the church of Christ, this solemn form of baptizing in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; that is, into the faith, service, and worship, of the Holy Trinity.

For let us reflect a little

The nations were to be baptized in the name of three persons, in the same manner, and therefore in the same sense, as in the name of one. Whatever honour, reverence, or regard, is paid to the Father in this solemn rite, the same we cannot but suppose paid to all three. Is he acknowledged as the object of worship? So are the other two persons likewise.-Is he God and Lord over us? So are they.-Are we his subjects, servants, and soldiers, enrolled under him? So are we equally under all.-Are we hereby regenerated and made the temple of the Father? So are we likewise of the Son and Holy Ghost. 'We will come,' says our Lord, and make our abode with him.' [John xiv. 23.] The outward act respects all the three; the inward meaning and signification must do the same.

We may consider likewise, that in the very names of Father and Son, a near relation, alliance, and unity, between two of the persons, is intimated; and in reason, we must infer some

thing of a similar kind for the third, so closely joined with them. It is not said, 'in the name of God and his two faithful servants :' nor of God, and Christ, and the Holy Ghost:' which might have suggested a thought, that one only of the three was God; but in the name of the Father and of the Son,' a style perfectly equal and familiar, without any note of distinction more than that of a personal relation, carrying with it the idea of a sameness of nature; as, among men, every father and son are of the same human nature with each other. From the very wording of the form of baptism, therefore, most reasonably it might be presumed, that the two first persons named were equally divine: and the inference from thence would fairly, and indeed unavoidably, reach to the third, to make all suitable and consistent; besides that the terms Holy, and Spirit, evidently point the same way.

But it is yet further to be considered by us--and a consideration it is of very great weight indeed upon the subjectthat a new religion was to be introduced with this solemn form of words. And among whom was it to be introduced? Among Gentiles, or heathen nations. These were to be taught to turn from their vanities to the living God; to renounce their idols and false gods, and so to be baptized in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Now what must occur to them, upon this occasion, but that, instead of all their deities, to whom they had before bowed down, they were in future to serve, worship, and adore Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as the only true and living God? From the pompous and solemn proclamation of these three persons in opposition to all other gods, what could they conclude, but that these three possessed in reality that Divinity, which was falsely presumed with respect to the gods of the nations; that they had a natural right to all that homage and service, which men pay to a Divine Being? We may add, that the circumstance of the form running in the name—not names, but in the singular number, name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, might and did in the strongest manner intimate, that the authority of all the three was the same, their power equal, their persons undivided, and their glory one.

The last consideration under this head shall be, that nothing can appear more unreasonable, or unnatural, than to suppose that God and two creatures are here joined together in so

solemn a rite of admission into a new religion, into the service of the living God, in direct opposition to all creature-worship. For no rational account can be given, why the Son and Holy Ghost should be thus closely and equally joined with the Father in an act so public, and of so high importance to the salvation of all men,-unless it be, that all men are required to believe in, to worship, and to serve them also, as well as the Father: neither can it be reasonably imagined, that they are recommended to us in any such capacity, as persons to be believed in, served, and adored, if they be creatures only; much less, if Christ be no more than a mere man, like one of us; and the Holy Spirit a property, or quality only, of the Father-in short, if the three, taken together, be any other than the living and true God.

Thus far we have been arguing on the words of the text, and the doctrine implied in them, without taking in what the Scripture has revealed at large concerning the Divinity of the three persons, which was in the second place proposed to be done.

II. Concerning the Divinity of the Father, there is no dispute. The divine titles, given to the Son in the Holy Scripture, are as follow. He is called the Word, that was in the beginning with God, and was God;' that was made flesh,' and whose 'glory was the glory of the only begotten of the Father.' [John i. 14.] When it is said, A virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, it is said also, they shall call his name Immanuel, that is, God with us.' [Matt. i. 23.] He is the Lord, before whose face John the Baptist was sent:' [Luke i. 76.] the Lord God foretold by Isaiah, who was to feed his flock like a shepherd.' [Isa. xl. 10, 11.] Of Jesus Christ it is affirmed by St. John, this is the true God, and eternal life.' [1 John v. 20.] St. Paul mentions the appearance of the Great God and our Saviour,' or, our great God and Saviour, Jesus Christ,' [Tit. ii. 13. 1 Peter i. 7.] for it is he who shall appear to judge the world. Isaiah styles him, Wonderful, Counsellor, the mighty God;' [Isa. ix. 6.] St. Paul again, God over all, blessed for evermore.' [Rom. ix. 5.] In the Old Testament, Christ is frequently called Jehovah, [Jer. xxiii. 6. Zech. xii. 10. cited John xix. 34. Rev. i. 7. Isaiah xl. 10.] a name which can belong to no one but God. In the Revelation he is introduced as saying of himself, I am

Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.' [Rev. i. 11.] By St. Paul, he is styled the Lord of glory; and by St. John, King of Kings, and Lord of Lords.' And thus much for his titles.

As to his attributes, he is declared to be eternal, without beginning of days, or end of life;' [Heb. vii. 3.] unchangeable, remaining the same, when the heavens, and the earth, and all that is therein, shall be changed, and pass away; 'Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever;' [Heb. xiii. 8.] knowing all things,' [John xvi. 30. xxi. 17.] knowing what is in man,' [John ii. 25.] searching the hearts and reins;' [Rev. ii. 23.] present every where in the midst of his people wherever assembled, [Matt. xxviii. 20.] to hear the prayers put up at the same time from the different quarters and ends of the earth; which cannot be the case of saints or angels.

Of the actions ascribed to Christ, it may suffice to name four only. According to the Scriptures, he created the world by his power: [John i. 3. Heb. i. 10.] he governs it by his providence; how else can he superintend the concerns of his church? He redeemed it by his mercy; and he will judge it at the last day. No being, less than divine, can be equal to works like these. When he shall appear on his throne, as the Judge of all the earth, who is the man that will refuse to worship him?

The Holy Spirit is described in Scripture as the immediate author and worker of miracles; the inspirer of prophets and apostles; the searcher of all hearts, and the comforter of good Christians in difficulties. To lie to him is the same thing as to lie to God. Blasphemy against him is unpardonable. To resist him is the same thing as to resist God. He is in God, and knows the mind of God as perfectly as a man knows his own mind; and that in respect of all things, even the deep things of God. The bodies of men are his temple, and, by being his temple, are the temple of God. He is joined with God the Father, not only in the solemn form of baptism, as we have seen above, but in religious oaths, and invocations for grace and peace; in the same authoritative mission and vocation of persons into the ministry; the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul.' [Acts xiii. 2.] Must he not then be a person? In a word, he is Lord, or Jehovah, and God, and Lord of Hosts.

To these testimonies for the Divinity of the Son and Holy Spirit, I shall add only one observation more, namely, that, in a great number of instances, the very same things are said, in different places of Scripture, of all the three divine persons, and the very same actions ascribed to them. The whole Trinity is said to be eternal, holy, true, living, and every where present; to have made man; to instruct and illuminate him; to lead us, to speak to us, and to be with us; to give authority to the church; to sanctify the elect; to perform every divine and spiritual operation; and to raise the dead. Therefore, these three were, are, and will be, one God, from everlasting to everlasting.

Having now considered the doctrine of the Trinity as implied in the words of the text, and confirmed by the declarations of the Scriptures at large, I am to show, in the third and last place, the interest we all have in the doctrine thus established.

III. Many apprehend the doctrine of the Trinity to be a speculative doctrine only; concerning which men may think, and conjecture, and reason, and dispute, for their amusement, but of no effect or importance in a religious life. This is a considerable mistake in judgement; and to prove that it is so; let us only ask one question: What is the doctrine of most importance to man, in his religious concerns? Undoubtedly it is that of his redemption from sin and sorrow, from death and hell, to righteousness and joy, immortality and glory. But of such redemption, what account do the Scriptures give us? Was not the gracious scheme originally concerted, and afterwards carried into execution, by the three persons of the ever blessed and adorable Trinity?

It was not an after-thought, a new design, formed upon the transgression and fall of our first parents. That event was foreseen, and provision made accordingly. For upon the very best authority we are informed, that Christ was the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world;' [Rev. xiii. 8.] that is, slain in effect, in the divine purpose, and counsel. It is likewise said, that grace was given us in Christ Jesus, before the world began.' [2 Tim. i. 9. Tit. i. 2.] The words intimate, that, previous to the creation of the world, something had passed in our favour above; that the plan of our future redemption was then laid; that some agreement, some covenant, relative to it, had been entered into; grace was given us,' not in our

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »