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who reject the Saviour to this day. Neither should we take our stand in the Gospel narratives or on the day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit was poured out, important as these points are historically and doctrinally. But we should take our stand at the close of revelation; on the apex of the pyramid of truth, and fix our eyes upon the vision of the spirit-world.
The first question is, Who is God?
And we must look up when the door is opened in heaven, and behold who is in the throne. Alas, our sight is so dim! but light is descending on our reason, and we can take a backsight on revelation and correct by doctrine also the personal equation, so as to remove the bias of the natural mind, the errors of education, the false doctrines of an hereditary faith, and the misleading tendency of natural words used of divine and spiritual things..
The finishing touch of Revelation, its completing principle and point of highest glory, is in the words, "THE GRACE OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST BE WITH YOU ALL. AMEN."
Jesus Christ is the Lord! Is he the Lord in such a sense that there is no God "besides him?" In his divine-human person is there the fullness of the Holy Trinity? Is the Father in him? and is the Holy Spirit or Comforter his Spirit? Let us answer these inquiries by the history and doctrine contained in the Sacred Scriptures themselves. Here is the first most significant statement: "I Jesus have sent mine angel to testify unto you these things in the churches." Rev. xxii, 16. "The Lord God of the holy prophets sent his angel to show unto his servants things which must shortly be done." Rev. v, 6.
Placing these passages together we see that Jesus and the
* The term "personal equation" is used in astronomy to denote the equation of the difference which arises in different individuals in noting instrumentally the time of an observation. It amounts to less than one half a second, yet it is made an element in nice calculations. So the surveyor takes a back-sight to assure himself of the correctness of his course. With how much more caution should we study our methods when we look to the "High and Lofty One who inhabiteth eternity!" And with what care should we lay our course to the holy city! The particular feature of progress in science may be summed up in one sentence as a philosophy of method in material things, and what wonders it works! And Revelation may be summed up as a philosophy of method in spiritual realities. So it should be applied throughout, and it will work untold wonders in the soul. See John vii, 15-18, 37-39; Luke x, 17-24.
Lord God are equivalent names, applied to the same person. This is the "revelation of Jesus Christ which God gave unto him." Rev. i, 1. The revelation was from his own divinity and concerning his own divine-human person, [?] or from himself and of himself. Or how was it understood in heaven as shown to John? The angel which showed these things to John was so exceedingly glorious with the glory of Jesus that the apostle, mistaking him for his transfigured master, twice fell at his feet to worship him; but it was said to him, "See thou do it not,"* q. d., thy master is much above me, even the Lord God. "I am thy fellow-servant and of thy brethren the prophets; worship God."
But in heaven, where there is such abhorrence of idolatry, all fall down and worship the Lamb. (Rev. v, 8, 9.) This is the proper name of the divine-human person of Jesus, as is evident from the connection and the following history: "Again the next day after John stood and two of his disciples, and looking upon Jesus as he walked he saith, Behold the Lamb of God." John i, 35, 36. It cannot then have been a human weakness which overcame St. Thomas when, with the person of Christbefore him, he cried out, "My Lord and my God; † nor is it an error in our Articles of Religion, [art. ii,] which calls him. the "Very and Eternal God." He is the very being called JAH and JEHOVAH in the Psalms and Prophets: Sing unto God, sing praises to his name; extol him that rideth upon the heavens by his name JAH, and rejoice before him; for the LORD JEHOVAH is my strength and song; he also is become my salvation. It is he to whom they sing in heaven ALLELUIA, or praise JAH; or as extended in the song itself into the words, "Salvation and glory and honor and power unto the Lord our God." Hence we see that the Divine Father is not another God! Such an idea of the distinctions in the godhead is utterly inadmissible. For this is the same "I JESUS," who says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last." Rev. xxii, 13. "He that was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty." "I am he that liveth, and was [became, Bengel] dead, and behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the
* Rev. xix, 10; xxii, 8, 9. Mark this whole connection in John xix, 24-28. Psa. lxviii, 4; civ, 35; cvi, 48; cxv, 18; cxvii, 2. Halleluiah is the word. § Isa. xii, 2. Bengel's Gnomon, on Rev. xix, 1.
keys of hell and of death." Rev. i, 17, 18. The "I Am that I Am" [or He who was, is, and will be*] of Exodus iii, 14; the "name of God for ever and his memorial unto all generations." Or, as he explains himself, Gen. vi, 3: "And I appeared unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, by the name of God Almighty, but by my name JEHOVAH was I not known unto them." This is the I Am of John viii, † and the " Alpha and Omega, saith the Lord; he that was and is and is to come, the Almighty," of Rev. i and xxii, unless there are two infinite and eternal beings. But as this cannot be, the distinctions that are made are the unfoldings of One Infinite and Eternal Being, whose essential divinity is personified by the Father, whose
*See Alex. McWhorter's Yaveh, an excellent and timely production.
See Mr. Wesley's Translation and Notes on verses 24, 28.
To say that three "Gods created," which seems really the expression of the argument from the plural Alohim, sometimes used, proves too much. So also to mark strongly that the divine person of Christ is distinct from the person of the Father makes him less than God, and destroys the doctrine of the Trinity altogether. I have looked in vain, in a History of All Denominations in Christendom, for an expression like the following: "Each person of the Trinity is to be worshiped through the mediation of Jesus Christ; " especially when affirmed against the statement of St. Paul that "There is ONE GOD and ONE Mediator." 1 Tim. ii, 5. It is an innovation fit to go with the following expressions attributed to Sartorius:
"God is love, not only as creator and preserver, but in himself from eternity. Eternal love in person, and surely in more than one person, for love consists in the unity of (at least) two persons. The subject of love is not conceivable without an object, nor personal love without a personal object, without which it would be but self-seeking. The I must have a thou; the eternal I must have an eternal thou; eternal love an eternal object. 'Therefore,' says Bickersteth, 'if the Son were not from everlasting, (as the Father himself,) the first and last, the beginning and the ending, then before the world or any worlds through the receding cycles of a past eternity the Divine Mind would have dwelt in an immense solitariness, without reciprocity of affection, and without communion of intellectual enjoyment.""
Here is a family of Gods, or "at least two;" two everlasting beings, individuals, which love each other and hold intellectual feasts together; two infinites, two eternals, "at least two;" there may be more! And in looking at this polytheistic picture nothing of ancient mythology is wanting except the goddesses; the eternal consort of the Father and the Mother of this Eternal Son! What a pitiful conception of the Eternal and Infinite One; of love itself and wisdom itself! And what an idea is that of "immense solitariness" in the ineffable God, who has by himself declared that he knows no other. "Is there a God besides me? Yea, there is no God. I know not any." Isa. xliv, 8. Of course to such minds the monotheistic trinity of Plato and the Hindoos" would be considered too ideal, and Christianity would be claimed as revealing three "real persons," that is, as distinct as Peter, James, and John.
image is the divine-human person of the Son, and whose divine 'Proceeding" is personified † in the Holy Spirit.
* Articles of Religion, art. iv.
The term person is very ambiguous in theology. See Wakeley's Logic, App., on Ambiguous Terms. It is not scriptural, misleads the mind, and confuses the understanding. As used in our first Article of Religion, it is not metaphysically definable; for it is said, "There is but one living and true God, . . . without body or parts, and in the unity of the godhead there are three persons," etc. Of course they must be each and all without body or parts. There is therefore no real person taught in our Articles, except (see art. ii,) the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, who is declared to be both God and man, in "one person." I have used the term personified as the best expression of the sense of the first and fourth articles. This term may be more, yet differs from the idea of a real person. Thus Abraham is made to personify the Lord by Paul, who calls him the father of all that believe. It is not the person Abraham after the flesh, but God, who is really the Father of all. (Comp. Rom. iv, 11-25; viii, 8-17.) So of David, Psa. cx, compared with Matt. xxii, 42-45; Rev. xxii, 16, "I am the root and offspring of David," etc. The kingdom of God is personified by the "throne of David." Isa. ix, 7. Other instances will be given further on.
Mr. Wesley considered the doctrine of the Trinity inexplicable; but with his characteristic orthodox catholicity would "not insist on any one using the term 'trinity' or 'person.' . . . If any man has any scruple concerning them, who shall constrain him to use them? I cannot." (Sermons, vol. ii, pp. 20, 21.) He insists on nothing but what the Scriptures plainly teach. In preparing the Articles of Religion for the Church in America, Mr. Wesley left out article viii, and thirteen others of the Church of England Articles. Article viii indorses the Athanasian, Nicene, and Apostles' Creeds. There is no creed indorsed by our Articles of Religion. (See Dixon's Methodism in America on this noticeable fact.) Mr. Fletcher says, "Were we to divide the Son from the Father and consider him a separate being, [real, distinct person,] and worship him as such, then we should worship another God." The danger of the term person is to lead us to think the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit have distinct wills and intellects. (See Works, vol. iii, p. 468.) Dr. Adam Clarke says, "In the ever-blessed Trinity, from the indivisible unity of the persons, there can be but one will, one purpose, and one infinite and uncontrollable energy." Com. on Gen. i, 1. This definition destroys while it uses the term person. So the Athanasian Creed seems to us to affirm both sides of a contradiction. It is a person, and it is not a person! That creed is not in use in any Church in America except the Roman Catholic. The Episcopal Church amended article viii in this particular, and indorses only the Nicene and Apostles' Creeds. The latter is against the metaphysical explanation of the Trinity in the first part of the Athanasian Creed. That creed, human and defective as it is, has some excellences, and we will here insert it from the Church of England Prayer Book. It is not found in the American edition, and is often referred to by ministers among us who fail to produce it correctly.
THE ATHANASIAN CREED.
(Obtained in France A.D. 850, and in Rome 1014.)
"Whosoever will be saved, before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholic Faith. Which Faith, except every one do keep whole and undefiled, without
The Father is an ocean of eternal love itself; a boundless love-being, "above all height;" the Son or Word is Infinite Wisdom itself, which rays around the Father "brighter than
doubt he shall perish everlastingly. And the Catholic Faith is this: That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity; neither confounding the Persons nor dividing the Substance. For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son, and another of the Holy Ghost. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, is all one; the glory equal, the majesty co-eternal, Such as the Father is, such is the Son, and such is the Holy Ghost. The Father uncreate, the Son uncreate, and the Holy Ghost uncreate. The Father incomprehensible, the Son incomprehensible, and the Holy Ghost incomprehensible. The Father eternal, the Son eternal, and the Holy Ghost eternal. And yet there are not three eternals, but one eternal. As also there are not three incomprehensibles, nor three uncreated, but one uncreated, and one incomprehensible. So likewise the Father is almighty, the Son almighty, and the Holy Ghost almighty, and yet there are not three almighties, but one almighty. So the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet there are not three Gods but one God. So likewise the Father is Lord, the Son Lord, and the Holy Ghost Lord, and yet not three Lords but one Lord. For like as we are compelled by the Christian verity to acknowledge every person by himself to be God and Lord, so are we forbidden by the Catholic Religion to say there be three Gods and three Lords. The Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone; not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and of the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. So there is one Father, not three Fathers; one Son, not three Sons; one Holy Ghost, not three Holy Ghosts. And in this trinity none is afore or after other. None is greater or less than another; but the whole three persons are co-eternal together, and co-equal. So that in all things, as is aforesaid, the unity in trinity and the trinity in unity is to be worshiped. He therefore that will be saved must thus think of the Trinity. Furthermore, it is necessary to everlasting salvation that he also believe rightly the incarnation of our Lord Jesus Christ; for the right Faith is that we believe and confess that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is both God and man; God of the substance of the Father, begotten before all worlds, and man of the substance of the mother, born in the world; perfect God, and perfect man, of a reasonable soul and human flesh subsisting. Equal to the Father as touching his godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching his manhood; who, although he be God and man, is not two but one Christ; one not by the conversion of the godhead into flesh, but by taking the manhood into God; one altogether, not by confusion of substance, but by unity of person. For as the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ; who suffered for our salvation, descended into hell, rose again the third day from the dead. ascended into heaven, he sitteth on the right hand of the Father, God Almighty; from whence he shall come to judge the quick and the dead. At whose coming all men shall rise again with their bodies, and shall give account for their works. And they that have done good shall go into life everlasting, and they that have done evil into everlasting fire. This is the Catholic Faith, which except a man believe faithfully he cannot be saved."
Here the idea of person is a "somewhat!" as Archbishop Whateley would say.