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The Mystery of the Trinity

The Mystery of the Trinity

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1 Timothy, iii. 16.

Great is the mystery of godliness.

1 Timothy, iii. 16.

Great is the mystery of godliness.

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Oct 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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THE MYSTERY OF THE TRINITYBY THOMAS ARNOLD, D.D.1 Timothy, iii. 16.Great is the mystery of godliness.Few words in the New Testament have ever beenmore strangely misinterpreted than these ; fewcould be found which have been equally perverted,inasmuch as they have been used to inculcate no-tions, the very opposite to their real meaning-.They have been continually quoted, as speaking of the darkness and difficulty of some points in Chris-tianity ; whereas their real purpose is to commendthe great and glorious nature of those truths whichit has made known. They are understood to say,that the secrets of Christianity are wonderful, andabove the understanding of men to fathom; whereastheir real meaning is, that it is the revelations of Christianity which are so wonderful, that what badbeen hid from all the wise and prudent of the00 SERMON XLworld, and what the world, by wisdom, never couldhave attained to, was, by the Gospel, revealedunto babes, and made so familiar, that all couldknow, and all might love it.Above all, it is with reference to the great truthwhich the Church this day commemorates, that thesupposed meaning of the text has been as mis-chievous as its true meaning would be beneficial.Its supposed meaning has been mischievous, be-
cause, by teaching people to regard the Trinity asan incomprehensible mystery, it has naturally madethem regard it as a subject rather awful and won-derful, than full of the deepest practical benefit.Its true meaning would be beneficial, as it callsupon us to thank God for his goodness, in havingmanifested himself to us more than he had everdone before to Jew or Gentile; in having made allhis goodness pass before us; in having taught usto love him as our Redeemer, and having vouch-safed to abide with his Church for ever, as ourComforter and Sanctifier." Great," indeed, " is the mystery of godliness!"great, and for ever blessed, is that secret, concealedfrom the foundation of the world, and revealed bythe Spirit of Christ to Christ's true disciples; the se-cret of Him who " was manifest in the flesh, justi-fied in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto theGentiles, believed on in the world, received upinto glory." Such are the words which follow di-SERMON XI. 97rectly those that I have taken for my text : andhow much is there to be found in them !It is well known that about one word in thispassage there is a great uncertainty; that whereasour translation runs, " Great is the mystery of god-liness: God was manifest in the flesh," &c; thereis very high authority, and many very strong rea-sons, for reading, " Great is the mystery of godli-ness, who was manifest in the flesh," &c; that isto say, " Great are the truths concerning thatwonderful Person, whom the Gospel has revealedto us ; for he was manifest in the flesh," &c. Hecalls Christ the " Mystery of Godliness," or, " the
great Secret revealed by the Gospel;" inasmuchas he is the Author and Finisher of our faith, andthe one great subject of the Gospel revelation. Imention this, because, in preaching on a text of which any of the words are doubtful, it is right tostate plainly that there is a doubt about them. Butas our common reading, if not the true one in word,is a very exact and forcible expression of it inspirit, so I shall follow it on the present occasion,without pretending to enter upon any critical ques-tions, for which this is neither the time nor theplace.The substance, then, of the Gospel revelation is,that God was manifest in the flesh, and justified inthe Spirit; that he was seen of angels, and preachedt< the Gentiles; that lie was believed <n in theVOL. II. I!98 SERMON XLworld, and received up into glory. Now let us at-tend to each of these points in order.The first words are similar to those of St. Peter,where he says, that Christ was " put to death inthe flesh, but quickened by the Spirit;" or, to thoseagain of St. Paul himself, in the Epistle to the Ro-mans, where he says, that Christ was " made of the seed of David according to the flesh; but de-clared to be the Son of God with power, accordingto the Spirit of holiness, by the resurrection fromthe dead." In all these places, and in more whichmight be quoted, there is a distinction drawn be-tween the flesh and the Spirit ; between the hu-man nature of Christ and his divine nature ; be-tween the Son of Man and the Son of God. Be-

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