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IV.-God is a Spirit :-The Trinity.
THE succession of the great events of the ecclesiastical year in its Christian course leads us in one uniform tenor to the highest of all contemplations, that of the Almighty Being, who is "one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all1;" who has revealed himself to us for the most beneficial purposes, and in the Gospel of his Son Jesus Christ has declared a sacrifice for sin, which we never could have known, experienced, or deserved; who has breathed into our nostrils the breath of a divine life, in which "we live, move, and have our being;" and who has opened to our eyes the vision of a future world with the awful alternative, a threat of punishment to the guilty, a promise, through Christ, of reward to the righteous.
These are divine thoughts, as much above human conception as heaven is higher than the earth. Remove the word of revelation, and where are we? sailing on an ocean that has no shore, wandering in an entangled forest that has no path; with this accumulating misery, that we continue to carry corruption in our own breasts, like "the worm that dieth not, and the fire that is not quenched "." But after the Christian mind is well settled on Christian objects, when we
are assured that "he who establisheth us in Christ, and hath anointed us is God, who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts"," we may then call God for a record upon our souls, that if we accept not his gracious offers, we hazard that which the wisest among us cannot buy. If we trace back our Christian path in the year of the redeemed now closing upon us, the brightness of salvation will cheer our road, and the beauties of Salem will arise before us; "The wilderness and the solitary place shall be glad for us, and the desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose. The glory of Lebanon shall come unto us, the fir-tree, the pine-tree, and the boxtree together, to beautify the place of thy sanctuary"."
Here, then, resting on the revealed pleasure of the Lord, let us recapitulate the order of redemption, the wonderful steps our blessed Saviour took in his painful passage through the world; his incarnation, nativity, passion, resurrection, and ascension; and, lastly, the benevolence of his last legacy in the miraculous descent of the Holy Ghost, gratefully perpetuated by his residence in every Christian heart.
In the gift of the Holy Ghost we recognise the union of love in the Holy and undivided Trinity. This essential doctrine of the Gospel is wound up with the revelation of the whole will of God. The true value of all Scripture-knowledge depends upon it.
1 2 Cor. iv. 21, 22.
2 Isaiah xxxv. 1. Ibid. xi. 13.
If it be above the attainment of our reason, even then we have no cause of complaint; for we were not, like the blessed Jesus, in the beginning with God. The plan of divine providence is fully displayed in the word of the Gospel, and in that constituent part of it delivered, both in their preachings and in their writings, by his accredited apostles. We may frame a Gospel of our own; but it would be only our own Gospel, not "the Gospel of Jesus Christ the Son of God."
The awful subject on which we now reflect brings before us in one view that union which connects every doctrine of Scripture; for, if the divine union be an essential quality of a divine life, it cannot be illustrated with more effect than in the personal distinctions of the Creator of the universe. As a general doctrine applicable to the redeemed, wherever created man is found qualified by such knowledge as every rational creature possesses, and not wilfully rejecting truth founded on the best principles of reason, he cannot but admire, while he peruses the plain and honest language of the Gospel, the condescension of the Son of God in giving his life a ransom for the sin of a miserable world; the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the graces miraculously bestowed in the presence of an indiscriminate multitude of unprejudiced spectators; and the infinite love of the Father by whom the
1 Mark i. 1.
Son was sent, and the Spirit thus gloriously and plentifully poured out. The unity of the divine nature is clearly established in one passage of St. Paul. Through him, [that is, Jesus Christ,] we, both [Jew and Gentile,] have access by one Spirit unto the Father" If the same mind be united in the three persons of the Godhead, each holding the distinct quality necessary for the great and declared purposes of salvation, we must acknowledge, that "The same Lord over all, is rich unto all that call upon him 2.” This sublime doctrine is splendidly displayed by the Apostle Paul. "Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord; and there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all "." Here, reason may be thought to fail in explaining so deep a mystery; but here reason triumphs in establishing the authenticity of that sacred roll where this sublime doctrine is recorded. "This is the true God and eternal life;" for every part of Scripture declares that it is God who worketh all in all; it is Christ, by whose infinite redemption sinners are saved; and that the Holy Spirit, proceeding from the Father and the Son, sanctifies and preserves the faithful in a state of purification. Thus by the gracious dispensation of Divine Providence, in a manner known only to the Almighty, yet revealed to
1 Eph. ii. 18.
1 Cor. xii. 4, 5, 6.
2 Rom. x. 12.
us in the Gospel of his blessed Son, are we placed in a state of salvation, become members of Christ, children of God, and inheritors of the kingdom of heaven. "And we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding that we may know him that is true, and we are in him that is true, even in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life '."
The expressions of St. Paul explanatory of the persons in the divine unity, however different in themselves, are called by the apostle "the manifestation of the Spirit, which is given to every man to profit withal;" and, that "all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally Under this distinction the doctrine of
as he will "." the Trinity is essential to our spiritual edification. The diversities of gifts, the differences of administrations, and the diversity of operations, are attributed to the same Spirit, the same Lord, and the same God; these confessedly constitute the "one living and true God;" whose glory is equal, whose majesty is coeternal.
That "God is a Spirit," our blessed Lord declares ; and his inference is, that "they who worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth 3." Our religion, therefore, is a religion of faith, and spiritual in its origin. May we truly catch a ray of the divinity, that we may be enabled, through his grace, to feel
11 John v. 20.
2 1 Cor. xii. 7—11.
3 John iv. 24.