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" The secret of the Lord." Psalm xxv. 14. U DEK the guidance 'of this holy book, we have found God to be a necessary and infinite Spirit. It is much to have been introduced so far into the wonders of his being ; but may we be permitted to penetrate further 1 Or will our continued inquisitiveness expose us to rebuke? If we ask to see more of God, will a voice from heaven reply, " Wherefore dost thou ask, seeing it is secret ?" o, my brethren ; " the
GOD A SOCIAL U ITY. 47 secret of the Lord" shall be revealed to reverent inquirers, and a view of what may be called the interior mysteries of his nature shall not be denied to us. Let us solemnly behold them. The disclosure now to be made to us may be expressed in these words : GOD is A SOCIAL U ITY. I shall take up in succession the two parts of which this proposition consists. I. In the first place, the proposition before us affirms that God is a U ITY, or, in other words, that there is but one God. 1. This truth has already cursorily presented itself to us, as derived by inference from the infinity of God ; for of things infinite it is plain there can be but one, since that which fills all space leaves no room for the existence of another. 2. This truth, which is thus included among our primary conceptions of God, is also expressly taught, and prominently
exhibited, in the sacred Scriptures. Such, for example, was the testimony of Moses when, on God's behalf, he spoke to the Hebrew nation, and distinguished the God who claimed a covenant relation to them from the nuiltitudinous deities of their Egyptian taskmasters : " Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is One LOKD" (Deut. vi. 4). Similar language is continually in the lips of the ancient leaders of sacred song. Take the following as a specimen : " sing unto the LORD a new song, Sing unto the LORD all the earth. Sing unto the LORD, bless his name, Show forth his salvation from day to day. Declare his glory among the nations, His wonders among all people. For the LORD is great and greatly to be praised, He is to be feared above all gods ; For all the gods of the nations are idols, But the LORD made the heavens. " Psalm xcvi. 1-5. In the same spirit the pretensions of the strange gods by whom the affections of the Israelites were so culpably entangled, are thus indignantly rebuked by the mouth of the prophet Isaiah : "Thus saith the LORD, Is there a god beside me? Yea, there is no god ; I know not any." Isaiah xliv. 8.
48 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. "Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth ; For I am God, and there is none else." Isaiah xlv. 22.
The doctrine of the ew Testament corresponds perfectly in this respect with that of the Old. Thus to the Scribe who asked of the Teacher sent from God, "Which is the first commandment of all?" Jesus replied, " The first of all the commandments is, 'Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord'" (Mark xii. 29); thus quoting the words of Moses, and making them his own. "We know," says Paul, "that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one" (i Cor. viii. 4). And with a message of similar import the whole band of apostles and their coadjutors went into the midst of the pagan world, and its crowds of gods. "We preach unto you," said the apostle of the Gentiles, "that ye should turn from these vanities unto the living God, which made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all things that are therein" (Acts xiv. 15). 3. The declaration that there is only one God, thus variously repeated in all parts of Holy Writ, is of great importance, not merely in relation to our views of God to a just conception of whom this idea is, of course, essential but in relation also to the actual tendencies of the human mind. For, in point of fact, a strong tendency has manifested itself among mankind towards the belief and worship of a plurality of gods. The conception of God losing its original majesty and force, men suffered their idea of his glory to diminish, so that one God would no longer answer the purpose for which a deity was required ; and hence, in order to account for different aspects and conditions of the world, they imagined "lords many and gods many;" one for the production of good, another for the production of evil ; one for this country, another for that ; some for the hills, others for the plains ; some to preside over domestic, and others to manage public, affairs. To this tendency the whole of revelation is directly hostile. Its great lesson is, " There is one God, and there is none other but he" (Mark xii. 32); and he is accordingly exhibited as possessing an eternal and inexhaustible sufficiency, not only for himself, but for the universe besides. To testify against the practical results of this tendency was one design with which God separated his
people Israel from all the other nations of the earth, and to
GOD A SOCIAL U ITY. 49 testify against it still is one object of Christianity. The voice of the former dispensation protested against the diversion to many gods of the reverence due exclusively to the one; the voice of the latter invites the estranged nations home to the footstool of the forgotten and neglected Father. The truth that there is but one God is also of great practical importance to ourselves, inasmuch as our conception of God affects so largely all the exercises of personal religion. Between more gods than one, if such were 'our conception, respect must necessarily be divided ; and it might be said that in such a case there could be no true religion at all, since to no one being could be rendered that which is due to God. Such divided worship would also be essentially idolatrous, since it would be the rendering to others what could be due to God alone. This consideration is highly worthy of our practical regard. II. We advert now to the second part of the proposition which I have laid down. God, I have said, is a SOCIAL onity. The idea which I mean to convey by this expression is, that, while there is only one God, his nature is not simple but complex, and contains an element of diversity by means of which a social character is given to it. Let us put this subject distinctly before us. God is an eternal, infinite Spirit. Is this eternal, infinite spirit simple, or complex] That is the question. In handling this question, I shall, in the first place, seek for the evidence by which it may be solved ; and afterwards offer some general observations on the conclusion which may
be arrived at In the first place, I seek for the evidence by which the question may be solved. In doing so, I deal exclusively with the testimony of Scripture ; for the doctrine of the Trinity is undoubtedly a doctrine of pure revelation, undiscoverable, doubtless, by any other light, and unentitled to credence on any other authority. i. ow, we cannot become familiar with the phraseology of Scripture, without perceiving that its general language is not framed on the conception of an absolute simplicity in the divine nature. Thus, at the very commencement of the Bible, we have the fact that the word employed for God is, in the Hebrew,
50 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. in the plural number, the verb being generally in the singular. In the first verse of Genesis, for example, we read, " In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth ;" a passage more literally translated as follows : " In the beginning Gods he created the heavens and the earth." This phraseology is of frequent occurrence in the Old Testament, and in one instance it is manifest to the English reader. I refer to the passage in which ebuchadnezzar says to Daniel, " The spirit of the holy gods is in thee" (Daniel iv. 9). If I am asked whether I mean to found on these passages the doctrine of the Trinity, I answer certainly not ; but neither, on the other hand, can I allow phraseology so singular and so marked to be set down as utterly withoxit meaning. And, if it must be assumed to mean something, it is fair to ask what it means. That the sacred writers either intended to teach the existence of more gods than one, or carelessly employed language which conveyed such an idea, is hardly to be supposed ; it is, indeed, a supposition suffici-
ently guarded against by their general testimony on the one hand, and, on the other, by the prevalent use of a singular verb in connexion with the plural noun. ow, if the mode employed do not convey the idea of a plurality of gods, it must intimate something respecting the nature of the one God. And what in his nature can authorize him to be spoken of as a plural noun to be called GODS ? What I have said about it (and I think justly said) is, that the language is not framed on a conception of the absolute simplicity of the divine nature; it is at least congruous with a conception of its complexity. 2. In further examining the phraseology of Holy Writ, we find that divine titles, attributes, and works are ascribed to more persons than one. I mention a few examples : "By his Spirit he hath garnished the heavens." Job xxvi. 13. "The LORD God and his Spirit hath sent me." Isaiah xlviiL 16. Here two persons appear to be spoken of as equally divine, " the LORD God and his Spirit," to the latter of whom also a divine work is attributed. " The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of Jehovah,
GOD A SOCIAL U ITY. 51 Make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, And every mountain and hill shall be made low ;
And the crooked shall be made straight, And the rough places plain : And the glory of Jehovah shall be revealed, And all flesh shall see it together, For the mouth of Jehovah hath spoken it." Isaiah xl. 3-5. In this passage it is clear beyond controversy that there are two persons who are called Jehovah, nor can it be at all doubtful that this name of divine prerogative is here applied to our Lord Jesus Christ. " Be wise now, therefore, ye kings, Be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve Jehovah with fear, And rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, And ye perish from the way When his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him." Psalm ii. 10-12. Here is another clear instance in which a person is called Jehovah who is at the same time called " the Son " of God. " For unto us a child is born, unto us a eon is given, And the government shall be upon his shoulder ; And his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, the everlasting Father, the Prince of Peace." Isaiah ix. 6. In this citation there is evidently a second person, the
Lord Jesus Christ, emphatically designated as " the mighty God." In the evangelical narratives of the ew Testament, in many passages with which we are familiar, our Lord takes to himself the name of " the Son," while to another he gives the name of "the Father;" and he at once assigns divinity to the Father and claims it for himself. Upon one occasion our Lord seems expressly to have taken to himself a name pre-eminently distinctive of a divine glory. He said to the Jews, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it, and was glad. Then said the Jews to him, Thou art not yet fifty years old, and hast thou seen Abraham? Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was I AM." That this was an
52 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. assumption of the name by which God made himself known to Moses appears evident from the narrative now; and that it was so understood by our Lord's immediate hearers is plain from the result " Then took they up stones to stone him " (John viii. 56-59). Hearken to his language on another occasion : " My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any pluck them out of my hand. My Father which gave them me is greater than all, and no one is able to pluck them out of my Father's hand. I and my Father are one. Then the Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus said unto them, Many good works have I shown you from my Father; for which of those works do ye stone me 1 ? The Jews answered him, saying, For a good work we stone thee not, but because thou, being a man, makest thyself God" (John x. 27-33). Had the charge here brought against Jesus been fake, it would have been imperative on
him, as on any honest man, immediately to have denied it. In this connexion I may not withhold from you the sublime and irrefragable passage with which the Gospel of John opens. " In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him, and without him was not anything made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men " (John i. 1-4). Here are undeniably two persons spoken of as divine, and divine works are unhesitatingly ascribed to both. In the latter portion of this Gospel, our Lord develops the work and office of the Holy Spirit in terms which clearly indicate his divinity also. " I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth" (John xiv. 16, 17). " The Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you," verse 26. " Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth; for he will not speak of himself, but whatsoever he shall hear that shall he speak, and he will show you things to come " (chap, xvi 13). This language cannot have been framed on any conception of the Holy Spirit short of his divine personality.
GOD A SOCIAL U ITY. 53 3. At length we have, not merely the separate ascription of divine attributes and operations to more persons than one, but an express <md formal grouping of three elements into a divine unity. This is first developed in the formula prescribed by our Lord for the administration of baptism: "Go ye, therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit" (Matt.
xxviii 19). It is quite impossible to imagine that, in so solemn a formula, and one holding so conspicuous a place among the institutions of Christianity in every region and through every age, such a group should have been formed of dissimilar and incongruous elements. Every consideration demanded that the name into which believers were baptized should be, not partially, but wholly divine, the assumption of it being an act of consecration that is, of worship of the most solemn kind. As presenting a group of elements, each of them divine and all of them combined in the unity of God, the baptismal formula is at once simple and grand; but, if regarded as blending with a first divine element a second which is human, and a third which is wholly impersonal a God, a man, and an emanation the formula must charitably be deemed nonsense, in order to redeem it from the imputation of blasphemy. The conception of God which forms the basis of the baptismal formula is at the foundation also of the current language of the apostles, and is embodied by Paul in an apostolical benediction bearing a striking resemblance to it : " The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all " (2 Cor. xiii. 14). In this, as in the former case, it is a matter of insuperable difficulty to separate divinity from two of the group so intimately associated in an act of prayer, and to attach it only to the third, which is not here even placed in the first position. In fine, we have not only these practical illustrations of a threefold complexity in the divine nature, but a dogmatical statement of it : " For there are three that bear record in heaven; the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit, and these three are one" (i John v. 7). I am aware of the objection raised by some biblical critics against this passage as absent from some manuscripts, and as, consequently, con-
54 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD.
stituting a doubtful part of the genuine text ; but, without entering into this controversy which would be unsuitable here I may make, in passing, two observations : the first is, that critics of equal celebrity are found on both sides of it ; and the second is, that so large a number of manuscripts remain uncollated, that, while it is impossible to anive positively at an affirmative opinion, it is unsafe to form a negative one. The verse may yet be found in a great majority of manuscripts, and antecedently to a full examination no one can affirm that it will not be so. Assuming the genuineness of this passage which, however, is of no special importance in relation to the doctrine of the Trinity, since it is only one of many witnesses whose testimony is clear and satisfactory without it I may be permitted to remark one of its peculiarities, its lateness in the scriptural canon. The effect of its occurring almost at the end of the Bible is this; it causes the divine Trinity to be exhibited in the Scriptures rather as a fact than as a doctrine, somewhat after the manner of the existence of God himself, which, though implied in every page of the Holy Word, is nowhere doctrinally taught in it. Into this mode of exhibition some of the ancient manifestations of the divinity recorded in the Old Testament are doubtless resolvable; manifestations which appear to have been made by the assumption of human form by the second person of the Trinity, in accordance with the name given to him in the Old Testament Scriptures, " the Messenger (or angel) of the covenant." "We have thus examined, at as much length as is compatible with the limits of a pulpit discourse, and at sufficient length for the purpose of candid inquiry, the current language of Holy Writ, from the uniform tenour of which it appears to be plain that the divine nature is not simple, but complex ; that it is chai*acterized by an element of diversity of a threefold aspect ; and that this diversity exhibits itself to us under the personal forms of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The only possible way to avoid this conclusion is,
either to get rid of the terms employed, which cannot be done, since they are at once too numerous and too extensively incorporated with the entire Scriptures; or to understand them in some other meaning which has, indeed, been often attempted, but with very indifferent success. As a
GOD A SOCIAL U ITY. 55 type of this class of biblical interpreters may be cited Emmanuel Swedenborg, who, denying any distinction in the divine nature, affirms God to be a simple being differently manifested, sometimes as the Father, sometimes as the Son, sometimes as the Holy Spirit, thus presenting to our faith a mere trinity of names an interpretation at once too forced and too trivial to deserve a serious refutation. The safest and the easiest of all modes is, in a childlike spirit of teachableness and humility, to receive the testimony of God concerning himself in the natural and unconstrained meaning of the words in which it is given. There have been some persons, indeed, who have told us that, in their view, the doctrine of the Trinity was so intrinsically impossible and absurd that no testimony, not even that of the Bible, could convince them of it; and that> if they thought the Bible really contained it, they should rather reject the book than believe the doctrine. This, however, is evidently a matter of taste, and about matters of taste it is proverbially useless to dispute. The class to which these men of superlative wisdom belong is already formed. They are akin to those who sent Galileo to the Inquisition because he discovered the motion of the earth, and refused credit to Harvey when he demonstrated the circulation of the blood. They will believe no fact on its proper evidence. Their own opinion outweighs all the evidence in the world. Let them take their own course. The Bible is not the less true because some men reject it. The case is simply this: they entertain certain opinions, and will receive the Bible if it teaches them ; we, on the contrary, receive the Bible as the oracle of truth,
and with it accept all the doctrines it contains. Having thus ascertained, on the only competent authority, the fact of a complexity in the divine nature, or the existence of a divine Trinity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, I proceed, in the second place, to offer on it some general observations. i. And, first, in the simplest and most direct manner / meet the charge t/iat it is mysterious and unintelligible. The question is asked, Can you explain it 1 To this question I answer frankly that I cannot. It is, of course, a mystery. I ask, however, in return, Why should this be a stumbling block to the faith of a man who lives in a world of mysteries? Is any one going to proceed on the principle
56 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. of believing nothing more than he can explain? Certainty and mystery are blended in every object around us, a necessity of believing with an impossibility of explaining. You believe in the production of effects ; but you will be the first of philosophers if you can explain the process of causation. You believe in the acquisition of knowledge, but the acutest of metaphysicians are still disputing about the mode of its acquirement. You believe in the existence of organic life, but impenetrable mystery still hangs over both its origin and its processes. You believe in your own identity, but you will ponder long before you can explain the mode in which it is preserved. Mystery? Yes, verily; it is, as I said, a world of mysteries. Every object is full of them air, earth, and sky; every plant, every animal, in creation, and man, creation's lord. Shall God alone be transparent and easy of explanation? In him, surely, it is reasonable to expect the proftnmdest mysteries of all, and such we have already found. The infinity of
his being is one mystery; the necessity of his being is another mystery ; and the threefold complexity of his being is, doubtless, a third ; but it is only a third ; it is but one of a series of cognate mysteries, and is neither the first nor the last. Why should it be isolated, and made to stand alone? With its companion mysteries let it stand or fall. It will be time enough to abandon it on the ground of mystery, when it shall -be ascertained to be the only mystery that demands an explanation. But what, after all, is the meaning of this charge of mystery? We know God plainly only so far as his being is analogous to our own; what we know of him beyond this limit is obscure that is, mysterious because we experience nothing analogous to it by help of which it may become plain. Hence we cannot distinctly apprehend either the infinity or the necessity of his being, and for the same reason we cannot distinctly conceive of the Trinity. Were a threefold complexity in our nature as well as in God's, the matter would be plainer to us; but, since there is not, it is obscure in other words, a mystery. This, then, is the whole case ; there is no element in human nature analogous to the complexity of the divine a very insufficient cause, certainly, for a denial of its existence. 2. Although the doctrine of the Trinity cannot be explained,
GOD A SOCIAL U ITY. 57 however, there may be laid down certain canons according to which it is to be understood, and which no interpretation of it must be permitted to violate. The doctrine of the Trinity must be understood in ha/rmony with the divine unity. We have already seen with how much explicitness and force the Scriptures affirm that there is but one God, and it
cannot be supposed for a moment that the Trinity is laid down by the same writers in any sense inconsistent with this cardinal truth. or in any sense inconsistent with this cardinal truth do we hold it. With a firm faith in the Trinity, we do not believe in three Gods. It is of no use to meet us here with an exercise in arithmetic, and to tell us that one cannot be three and three cannot be one. We might be shut up to self-contradiction, indeed, if we affirmed that God was three in the same sense in which he is one, and one in the same sense in which he is three ; but this is not our position. What we say is, that God is in essence one and undivided, but that in this one and undivided essence there is a threefold complexity of structure which, I believe, is no contradiction. The doctrine of the Trinity must be understood as affirming the true divinity of each person. Attempts have sometimes been made to escape the difficulty supposed to be involved in the doctrine of the Trinity, by assigning to the second and third persons in the godhead a grade inferior to the first, a high dignity, but a merely nominal, or quasi, divinity. I have no sympathy with these modes of representing the matter. In my view, if the second and the third persons are not altogether equal to the first they are not divine, for divinity does not admit of degrees; and, if they are not divine, there is no longer any trinity in the godhead. Whatever else there may be, or may be supposed to be, while certainly no less difficult of belief, its existence, real or fancied, is not worth contending for. The doctrine of tJie Trinity must not be understood according to the laios of human personality. It is a common formula for the expression of this doctrine that there are three persons in one God. ow I am not about to object to the use of the word person, than which, perhaps, our language does not supply one more expressive or more just ; but it is proper and necessary to observe that,
58 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. as applied to the divine Trinity, the word person cannot have the full meaning which it has as applied to mankind. or can this be expected, since it is a term taken from human life, and applied to a being to whom man has otherwise but a very imperfect resemblance, and in this respect no resemblance at all. With us a person is a human being complete in himself, and separate from all other human beings; and three persons must necessarily be three separate individuals. Such an idea the use of the word person in relation to the divine Trinity has, no doubt, a tendency to convey to our minds as the meaning of the doctrine; and this tendency requires to be strictly guarded against, since it would land us, of course, in the conception of three Gods. What we have to recollect is, that the word person, as applied to the divine Trinity, does not mean all, but only part, of that which it means as applied to men; and that the godhead, although in some sense constituted of three persons, does not consist of three separate individuals. The doctrine of the Trinity, nevert/ieless, establishes practically a personal distinction within the godhead; a distinction of persons without a division of substance. The current language of Scripture sufficiently shows this. The divine three are everywhere spoken of as if they were distinct persons. This is a sample : " God so loved the world that he gave his Son" (John iii. 16). "I am not alone, but I and the Father who sent me" (John viii. 16). "The Father shall send you another Comforter, even the Spirit of truth " (John xiv. 1 6). "The Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work to which I have called them " (Acts xiii. 2). These are but samples of a style of expression which runs through all the Bible, and which demonstrates that the complexity in the divine nature is for all practical purposes a personal distinction. Such are our views of the doctrine of the Trinity, its
evidence, and its import. Let us, in conclusion, contemplate some of the aspects of the fact which has thus been brought before us. First: What a wonderful view of the divine natwre is thus presented to its! In our preceding Lectures we may be said to have looked upon the divine nature from without, and we have seen it spreading in breadth through all space, and in length through
GOD A SOCIAL U ITY. 59 all duration; but now we have, by gracious permission, looked on it from within, and have seen what may well be called " the secret of the Lord." Like ourselves, God is a conscious being; but our consciousness is single, and his is complex not twofold only, but threefold, within the same essential unity. Adorable name ! God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit ! This is the God whom we worship, both in unity and in trinity; and we address our worship with justice, not merely to the three divine persons in unison, but to each apart. It is impoi'tant, however, that our experience should be guarded, after the same manner as our doctrinal views. I once had a religious professor confess to me that, while holding, as he supposed, the orthodox view of the Trinity, he had practically worshipped three gods, and he added that he thought many others did so too. In this I hope he was mistaken ; but a tendency may set in this direction, against which we ought all to be on our guard. If the trinity in God may not be surrendered to his unity, on the other hand the unity of God should not be lost in the trinity. It will be well for us to recollect and to realize both, and studiously to cultivate a corresponding exercise of the devout affections. Secondly : What immense practical influence must be eocer-
cised by the complexity of the divine nature! It relieves the solitariness otherwise attached to the conception of divinity. God, as God, stands alone; not only alone in the universe which he has created, and from every portion of which he is at an infinite remove, but alone in the eternity antecedent to creation, when none but himself existed. There is something strange in the idea of the solitude in which the Divine Being is thus placed, by the necessity of his nature existing, but without a companion to engage his love, or to share his thoughts. Infinitely glorious, indeed, but doomed to the solitary contemplation of his own excellence, with none capable either of reflecting or beholding it. Accustomed as we are to the sense of social pleasure, and with the necessity which we feel for it, the solitariness which attaches to the idea of God is, when we dwell upon it, awful, even to painfulness. This feeling, however, is greatly, it may be said wholly, relieved by the complexity of his being. Within it, we have learned, is a threefold personal distinction, and for all practical purposes God is as if there
60 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. were three beings, each infinite, and possessing all other essential glories of divinity. He is thus, as I have called him, a SOCIAL U ITY, and all the elements exist out of which a society more glorious and blessed than can be conceived must have been eternally constituted and maintained. 1. In particular. Scope is thus created for the exercise of complacent love. It is not now that God beholds his glory in himself; he sees it reflected from another, namely, in the person of his Son, or of the Holy Spirit. And the glory of God is thus reflected, not, as it is in his works, partially and with an infinite inferiority, but completely and with infinite perfection. One person of the ever-blessed Trinity sees in another a nature like his own, the adequate reflection of his own excellence, and thus a worthy object of his complacent
love; an object upon which his complacency may rest, not in the small and graduated measure in which it may be attracted by created things, but with a divine intensity; an object which even God may love (if I may accommodate the expression) with all his heart, and soul, and strength. What an infinite and eternal source of happiness is here ! 2. A motive for action is thus presented to the divine mind. It is a scriptural, and undoubtedly a just representation, that God created all things for his own glory (Eev. iv. u). Indeed, no other reason is conceivable why he should have created anything at all. But, were the nature of God simple and not complex were God alone, and not in trinity it would be difficult to detach altogether from this view an element which we cannot describe otherwise than by the word selfishness. God in trinity, however, can act for his own glory, not in himself but in another; the Father for the glory of the Son, and the Son for the glory of the Father, and the whole trinity mutually for the glory of each other. A motive to action is thus supplied, which, to our conception, is no longer selfish, but generous. In accordance with this idea we are told by an apostle that " God created all things by Jesus Christ" (Eph. iii. 9); or, as I suppose we may explain, with a view to his glory. And the following passage in the book of Proverbs seems to be founded on a similar conception : " The Lord possessed me in the beginning of his way, Before his works of old. I was set up from everlasting,
GOD. A SOCIAL U ITY. 6 1 From the beginning, or ever the earth was ; When there were no depths I was brought forth, When there were no fountains abounding with water.
Before the mountains were settled, Before the hills was I brought forth ; While as yet he had not made the earth nor the fields, or the highest part of the dust of the world. When he prepared the heavens I was there, When he set a compass upon the face of the depths ; When he established the clouds above, When he strengthened the fountains of the deep ; When he gave to the sea his decree That the waters should not pass his commandment, When he appointed the foundations of the earth ; Then I was by him as one brought up with him : And I was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him, Rejoicing in the habitable part of his earth, And my delights were with the children of men." Proverbs viii. 22-31. 3. Opportunity is thus afforded for joint counsel and action. The divine works are undoubted manifestations of a divine purpose. ot under the most ordinary conceptions of human wisdom can we deem God to have rushed into the arena which his own boundless nature supplied, to scatter in it, as by hazard, a multitude of crude and undigested works. The order and beauty everywhere prevalent are wholly incompati-
ble with such a notion. And it is not to be supposed that the conceptions and purposes of the divine mind with respect to the created universe were confined to one person of the adorable Trinity; it was doubtless in concert planned, as in concert executed, the result of common wisdom as the effect of common power. In relation to the work of redemption, however, the fact of mutual consultation becomes more obvious. Then the work to be achieved becoming more complex, the execution of it is more complex too, and it is carried out, not by simple concert but by co-operative subordination. It is divided into parts, and these parts are taken for separate accomplishment by the several persons of the Trinity, each accepting an economical superiority or inferiority, as the work to be done may require. God the Father becomes the fountain of mercy, in sovereign grace and judicial righteousness; God the Son becomes the messenger of peace, the atoning sacrifice, the mediating priest, the king, the judge; while God the Holy Spirit becomes the regenerator and the sanctifier. That
62 ACQUAI TA CE WITH GOD. for all this there must, to speak humanly, have been preparatory counsel, cannot be doubted ; none but deep thoughts of mutual wisdom could have arranged or devised a machinery so vast and intricate, or have secured the perfect subserviency of every part to an issue so glorious. 4. Occasion is thus supplied for exercising tlie love of benevolence, and for the expression of gratitude. These words may seem to sound strangely in relation to the divine Trinity; yet what but a love of benevolence towards the Father can be conceived of as animating the bosom of the Son when he accepted the mission of mercy, and undertook a part involving such deep humiliation and unutterable sorrow? And what less than gratitude can be the feeling of the Father towards the Son, by whom he has been so devotedly served,
and so highly honoured; a feeling expressed in so many touching declarations of love which earth has heard, and substantially embodied in an exaltation and glory which shall be eternally conspicuous in the highest heaven ? How like, in all this, is God to ourselves, and yet how different! Love, counsel, co-operation, gratitude, are ours, but they belong to us as individuals, separate and apart from one another; in God alone are they found developed, by virtue of a mysterious complexity of nature, in one and the same being, who thus marvellously combines life and love in unity. Thirdly : Wluat a new relation the doctrine of the Trinity opens between the creature and the Creator! Everything in creation, doubtless, bears in some measure the likeness of God, since from his own nature alone could the conceptions which are the types of creation be derived. To this rule, however, the social nature of creatures might seem to have constituted an exception ; for, if God himself had been solitary, how could he have conceived of society? And yet would it have been possible to believe that a world so full of social happiness was the product of a being himself a stranger to the exercise of the social affections? The complexity of the divine nature solves for us this enigma. He is a social being, and at once the concentration and the fountain of the social affections of the universe. The social life of creatures is an emanation from himself, and an imperfect resemblance of his own. Finally : What a basis the doctrine of tlw Trinity lays for the best hopes of mankind I To the work of human redemption as it is presented to us in the Scriptures, the trinity in the godhead is not only conducive, but essential. If without it the universe could have been created, without it the world could not have been redeemed. The fact of the wonderful development of the trinity in the actual work of redemption is a demonstration sufficient, that, in the hands of him by whom nothing is wasted, the instrument was as necessary as
the result is glorious. Come, sinful, wretched, ruined, race ! Adore in this wonderful prerogative of your Maker that which alone has capacitated him to be your Redeemer too; and glorify, as the God of your mercy and your hope, the God of salvation, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. HYM . SPIRIT eternal, infinite. Veiled in excess of radiant light, Thy secret, opened to our gaze, Awakes our voice of reverent praise. In thine essential nature one, In thy divinity alone, Yet complex is thy being, Lord, The Father, Spirit, and the Word. Our souls adore the sacred Three : How bright their blended glories be ! Their counsels and their love supply The Godhead with a social joy. ot such are we ; we live apart, And singly beats each loving heart : But thou, prerogative divine ! In one dost life and love combine.
1. 68 FREE BOOKS http://www.scribd.com/doc/21800308/Free-Christian-Books
2. ALL WRITI GS http://www.scribd.com/glennpease/documents?page=1000
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