« ZurückWeiter »
even I, saith the Lord,' Deut. xxxii. 39, 'am he, and there is no God with me,' that is, 'no other God.
Nor can there be with us, if we are truly Christians; for St. Paul says, 'to us, there is but one God,' 1 Cor. viii. 6. And our blessed Saviour, quoting the law, Matt. iv. 10, saith, Get thee hence, Satan; for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve,' pursuant to the first commandment; whereon all religion and morality are founded, and wherein the same Lord or God saith, Thou shalt have none other gods before me.'
Since, therefore, the Father is, on all hands, acknowledged to be God; since the Son and the Holy Ghost are plainly spoken of in holy Scripture as God; since there is but one only God, one only object of divine faith, worship, and obedience; and since here in the form of baptism the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are proposed, without any distinction, as equal authors and parties to the covenant, and as equal objects of our faith, love, dependence, and obedience; it necessarily follows, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are that one only God, one, not only in name, authority, and testimony, but in nature and substance also; for each is God, and there is but one God, who is a jealous God, and giveth not his glory,' the peculiar glory of his divinity and worship,“ to another.'
But the Arians and Socinians tell us, the word, God, in Scripture, hath several meanings. Two or three, we confess, it hath, for it is applied to the true God, to potentates, and to false gods. But can these men shew us, that it is applied in two infinitely different meanings, that is, that it signifies indifferently, either the one infinite eternal God, or a finite and bounded creature, when it signifies the object of our adoration? They do, indeed, impiously attempt to shew this, and in so doing, only attempt to shew, that God prevaricates with the world on the very first article of all religion, and equivocates even on his own name; the former, in the words of a covenant of his own solemn proposing to all mankind; and the latter, in his first commandment, and in numberless other passages of his word. What success they have had, I leave it to the knowing; or what success they ought to have had, I leave it to every plain and honest Christian to judge.
It is now to be observed, that the Christian religion, and the Christian covenant, are but one and the same thing; that the whole of this religion, the whole body of our faith, by which alone we can be saved, is virtually, or by necessary consequence, comprehended in the form prescribed for baptism, or the ratification of this covenant; for he who believes in the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, must believe in what each hath done, said, or suffered, for his salvation ; that there is no difference between knowing God, as he is revealed to us in his word, and knowing his revealed religion; and that therefore, as Christianity is the only true religion, the doctrine of the Trinity, as here laid down from Scripture, must be the only true Christianity; or else we covenant in baptism for something different from Christianity, or only for a part of it; and covenant by our faith, and on our vows, for the pardon of all our sins, and for eternal life, with some one else than God. Let the Arian answer for this, if he can, to his friend the Deist, and if he satisfies him, we promise to be satisfied too. But let no set of men who call themselves Christians, contrive systems of Christianity, and carry on arguments within the church, which in their consciences they know, every one without must condemn as gross nonsense, or something worse.
What then is Christianity? Is it not a covenant granted by, and made with, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, whereby all we ought to dread may be averted, and all we ought to desire obtained, on condition of our faith in, and obedience to, the Holy Trinity ? and is all Christianity, or the whole of our religion, summed up in a faith placed formally and equally on the one eternal God, and two infinitely inferior beings, and in an obedience, rendered due by a solemn vow to the only God, and two creatures? If ours is the only religion that seems to recommend itself to the assent of a rational man by the genuine signs of divine truth; and if this religion, closely examined in its great essential, proves itself thus essentially absurd and impious ; must not the Arian become a Deist, and that Deist an Atheist ? Reason, thus setting out, knows not where to stop in the shocking progress. Let the world think what it will of our religion, it consists in a belief of the Father, the Son, and the
Holy Ghost, as one only God, one only object of love, dependence, and obedience, that is of divine worship.
The great and comfortable doctrines of redemption, as voluntarily wrought by Christ in the sucrifice of his blood, and of sanctification, as voluntarily wrought in us by the grace of the Holy Spirit, which call upon the grateful heart for the utmost returns of love and trust; these doctrines, every where so strongly inculcated by the word of God, prove the Son and the Holy Ghost to be truly God; for, surely, if they thus freely concur in the blessed work of our eternal salvation, we ought in gratitude to love each of them as much as the Father, that is, with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our strength; and being baptized into the name of each, as the uncompelled author of our salvation, we ought to trust to each for the performance of every thing promised us in the covenant, as well as to the Father. Now, is it to be conceived, that God, who every where takes such infinite care to guard against the worship of the creature, should authorize us by the very form of the covenant, by the very nature of our redemption and sanctification, and by the concurring tenor of almost the whole Scriptures, to love, trust in, and adore, two creatures, as entirely, as ardently as himself? No, it is impossible; it is hideous and blasphemous to suppose it. Hear, O Christian, the 'Lord thy God is,' not only one God the Father, of whom are all things, but also one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things,' and into whom you are baptized ; and 'that one Spirit who taketh away the vail of darkness' by his inspirations, to whom you ‘owe all your Christian liberty, and by whom ye are all baptized into one body of Christ.'
Is, therefore, your love and confidence to be divided ? God forbid. These three are one; one, not only in nature and substance, but likewise in love, in mercy, in truth, towards you. He is one God who hath created, redeemed, and sanctified you, and into whom ye are baptized. Him bless, him adore, as not more mystical and incomprehensible in his nature, than in his love.
If you are a truly rational man, you cannot make a difficulty in believing the most mysterious doctrine on the authority of his word, for you know he is truth itself. This I say to you the rather because he hath used you to mysteries, by giving you a nature exceedingly mysterious, and by placing you here in a system of mysteries. You see, you breathe, you eat, you drink, you live on, nothing but mysteries; mysteries, every one of them, as hard to be accounted for or comprehended as the Trinity. While he gives a dignity to your nature by thus feeding and surrounding you with wonders, remember, he, at the same time, and by the same means, preaches humility to your bounded understanding, inasmuch as he hath made it impossible for you to comprehend, either what you yourself are, or how you are subsisted.
Can you, after all this, stumble at any thing merely mysterious in regard to his nature, who is altogether mysterious and incomprehensible to the highest angel of light? Is it harder for your reason to believe in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, than it was for that of Abraham to believe, that he should have a numerous posterity by his son Isaac after he had put him to death, when he was yet unmarried and childless? Or is it harder for you, in consequence of your faith in the Trinity, to submit your inordinate affections to the several precepts of the gospel, in order to eternal life, than it was for Abraham to give up his parental affection, pursuant to the divine command, and slay his son with his own hands on the distant, and probably incomprehensible, prospect of having an innumerable issue by a son at that instant to be cut off? Consider, if you cannot follow Abraham, although at so great a distance, in his faith, you cannot follow him in his practice, the effect of that faith ; and if you can neither imitate the faith nor works of Abraham, you cannot be one of his children, who is the father of all the faithful; nor can you be gathered into his bosom, when you leave this world.
Consider this, and God give you understanding in all things, through Christ Jesus our Saviour, to whom, in the unity of the ever-blessed Trinity, be all might, majesty, dignity, and dominion, now and for evermore. Amen.
[PREACHED ON EASTER SUNDAY.)
CHRISTIAN FAITH DEMONSTRATED BY THE
RESURRECTION OF CHRIST.
Acts xvii. 31. .
He hath appointed a day in the which he will judge the world in righteousness, by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assur
ance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead. Two things are more especially observable in these words, first, that God will, at a certain time, known only to himself, try and pass sentence on all men by his Son Christ Jesus; and secondly, that sufficient assurance of this his intention hath been published to all men by the resurrection of Christ from the dead. As to the rewards or punishments to which, on that occasion, we shall be doomed, they are represented in many other parts of Scripture in terms expressive of somewhat inconceivably desirable or dreadful, which is never to have an end.
It would not only prevent all possibility of virtue, but throw every community into confusion, were each man tried, sentenced, and rewarded, or punished, immediately upon every good or evil action. In all kingdoms and communities, therefore, stated times are appointed for this purpose. In the kingdom of God particularly, men are suffered to live such lives as they think fit, with very moderate temporal encouragements to virtue, and discouragements to vice; and sometimes, in appearance, the contrary, till death finishes their state of trial. After this, assurance is given, that they shall be raised again to life, as Christ was, and shall all appear before his judgment-seat, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.'
This is the great assize of God's kingdom, wherein all