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testimony to the truth asserted in our text: “There are three that bear record on earth; the Spirit, and the water, and the blood : and these three agree in one :" they agree in attesting that the Lord Jesus “ Christ came by water and blood; not by water only, but by water and blood.”
How can we be sufficiently thankful for such clear and unquestionable testimonies to these important truths! Here is nothing left to arbitrary interpretations of a few select passages, which an advocate for some favourite doctrine might be supposed to pervert for the purpose of establishing his own sentiments: here are ordinances which speak for themselves, and which cannot be perverted : the spiritual import of them cannot admit a doubt: so that we may consider the truth of our text as fully declared, and incontrovertibly established.] 2. By visible operations on the souls of men
[The Holy Spirit has yet further attested this truth by his immediate agency on the soul. He came down in a visible shape, in cloven tongues, as of fire, upon the Disciples on the day of Pentecost, in order to qualify them to proclaim these truths in all manner of languages; and, in confirmation of their word, he converted not less than three thousand souls to God in one day, enlightening all their minds, renewing all their souls, and filling them all with the richest consolations. When Peter opened the Gospel to the Gentiles also in the house of Cornelius, the Holy Spirit again bore witness to the truth in the same manner. The manner in which this is noticed by the historian, is worthy of particular observation. St. Peter, in his discourse respecting Christ, said, “ To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Then we are told, “ While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word.” Here you perceive, it was at the very moment when Peter was proclaiming Jesus as a Saviour, not as a teacher, but as a Saviour, who was come not by water only, but by water and blood,” that the Holy Spirit descended visibly.upon all to attest that blessed truth. So, in like manner, at the present day, the Holy Spirit bears witness to this truth in every place: he works by it to the conversion of men to God, to the enriching of them with peace and joy, to the transforming of them into the Divine image, and to the bringing of them safely to glory. No other doctrine is ever honoured by him for these ends; but this is invariably, wherever it is proclaimed with that fidelity which becomes a servant of Christ. The people, who receive this doctrine into their hearts, are themselves made living witnesses of its truth, being enabled by it to live as no other persons can live, and to shine as lights in a dark benighted world. In
every age this doctrine has been, and to the end of the world it shall be, "preached with the Holy Ghost sent down from heaven"] ADDRESS
1. Be careful to receive these truths into your hearts
[It cannot be that, when so much care has been taken to reveal them to us, we should be at liberty to neglect them : yet are they most grievously neglected by the great majority of the Christian world. The blood of Christ is actually denied by many as an atonement for sin: and of those who do not systematically deny its virtue, many are yet unmindful of it as a source of salvation to their own souls. And as for the influences of the Holy Spirit, they are derided by the generality as the dreams of a heated imagination. Ah ! brethren, let it not be thus with you. Trample not in this ungodly manner upon "the blood of the covenant,” whereby alone you can be purged from guilt: and “ do not such despite to the Spirit of God,” by whose all-powerful influence alone you can ever be truly sanctified and saved - But rather seek to be
yourselves living witnesses of their truth and efficacy. Seek by the sprinkling of the blood of Christ upon your souls to obtain peace with God and in your own consciences: and seek by the effusion of the Spirit of God upon your souls to be renewed in your
inward man, and rendered meet for heaven. So shall you in this world be "epistles of Christ, known and read of all men;" and in the world to come be everlasting trophies of his redeeming love.]
2. Beware that you never attempt to separate what God has joined together
[Some there are of a self-righteous turn, who look to sanctification only as the means of recommending them to God; whilst others of an Antinomian cast think of little but of justification through the Redeemer's blood. But both of these are involved in most grievous errors; and, if they obtain not juster views of Gospel truth, will perish for ever: for, on the one hand, there is no fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness, but that which was opened on Mount Calvary; nor, on the other hand, can any one that is unsanctified behold the face of God in peace: for “without holiness no man shall see the Lord.” If any take refuge in the doctrines of predestination and election, let them know, that God has ordained the means as well as the end; and that, if we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father," it is “ through sanctification of the Spirit unto obedience, and the sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ d.” Whichever of these truths any man confide in as of exclusive importance, we would say to him, as our Lord said to the self-deceiving Pharisees, " 'Ï'hese ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone."]
c 1 Pet. i. 12,
d 1 Pet. i. 2.
THE DOCTRINE OF THE TRINITY VINDICATED.
1 John v. 7. There are three that bear record in heaven, the
Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost : and these three are onea.
NEVER was there any record so well attested, so worthy of acceptation, so necessary to be believed, as that which God has given of his Son. Upon the receiving or rejecting of it depends the eternal welfare of all mankind. The riches of wisdom, and love, and mercy that are contained in it, surpass all the comprehension of men or angels. With respect to the truth of it, every species of testimony that could be given to it by friends or enemies, by angels from heaven, by men on earth, yea, even by devils themselves, has been given in the most abundant degree. But it has been confirmed by other testimony still, even by the Three Persons in the adorable Trinity.
From the words before us, we shall be led to shew, I. Who they are that are here said to “ bear
record": Much has been written, and well written, to disprove the authenticity of this text. Certainly, if the genuineness of this text be admitted, and the sense be given to it which those who adduce it as establishing
Any one who should preach on this subject can use his own discretion about the mode of introducing it. If he be perfectly assured that the words are an interpolation, he can state his views of that matter, and adopt the text, in order to shew, that, though the words themselves are not authentic, the truths contained in them are truly scriptural, and important : or he can take ver. 9. for his text.
the doctrine of the Trinity, maintain, it will put an end to all controversy on the subject of the Trinity. But we need not be anxious about the validity of this individual passage, as though the doctrine of the Trinity rested upon it ; since, if the text were expunged from the Bible, there are a multitude of others which maintain most unequivocally the same important truth.
To establish the mysterious doctrine of a Trinity in Unity, we shall lay down, and substantiate, three positions : 1. There is but one God
[The unity of God may be deduced even from reason itself: but it is repeatedly affirmed in Scriptureb; nor must a doubt of it ever be suffered to enter into our minds. It is true, that in a subordinate sense there are gods many, and lords many; because angels, and magistrates, and the idols of heathens, are sometimes called by these names on account of the resemblance they bear to God in the authority vested in them, and the respect paid to them: but there is One Supreme Being, who alone is self-existent, and from whom all other beings, whether in heaven or earth, derive their existence. He, and he only, is God..]
2. Though there is only one God, yet there are three distinct Persons in the Godhead
[In reference to this subject, we use the term persons, because there is no other so suitable: but we mean not that these persons are in all respects as distinct from each other as Peter, James, and John; but only that in some respects they are distinguished from each other, though they subsist together in one undivided essence.
It is certain that there are three persons mentioned in the Scripture : for baptism is ordered to be administered, not in the name of God merely, but “ in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." These three are represented as distinct from each other; for the Son has told us, that “he will send the Holy Spirit from the Fathere." They are moreover spoken of as performing separate offices in the work of redemption; the Father elects'; the Son redeems8; the Spirit sanctifiesh; and St. Peter, comprising in few words the whole mystery of redemption, ascribes to each of these persons his
b Compare Deut. vi. 4. with Mark xii. 29.
h Rom. xv. 16.
c 1 Cor. viii. 5, 6.
Eph. i. 4.
proper office'. They are also declared to be sources of distinct õlessings to the Church; the Apostle prays, that “the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God the Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, may be with us allk. ]
3. Each of these persons is God, without any difference or inequality
[We shall not occupy any time with proving the Godhead of the Father; but, taking that for granted, shall establish the Godhead of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.
To each of these belong the same names as unto the Father. Is the Father God ? so is the Word', (as Christ is called in the text). He is " Emmanuel, God with usm," God manifest in the flesh”, the mighty God', God over all, blessed for evermore P. To Him is also given the incommunicable name, Jehovah; for we are to call him, “ Jehovah our Righteousness9.” To the Holy Spirit also these names belong. Ananias, in lying unto the Holy Ghost, lied unto God'. And we, in being the temples of the Holy Ghost, are the temples of Gods. The words also which were confessedly spoken by Jehovah to the Prophet Isaiah', are quoted by St. Paul as spoken by the Holy Ghostu.
To each of these the same attributes also are ascribed as characterize the Father. Is the Father eternal, omnipresent, omniscient, almighty ? So is the Son
and so is the Holy Ghosty — -]
What now is the conclusion to be drawn from these premises, but that which is asserted in the text, that “there are THREE that bear record in heaven; and that those Three are ONE??”
i i Pet. i. 2. k 2 Cor. xiii. 14.
1 John i. 1. m Matt. i. 23. n 1 Tim. iii. 16.
o Isai, ix. 6. P Rom. ix. 5. 9 Jer. xxiii. 6.
r Acts v, 3, 4. s 1 Cor. iii. 16. t Isai. vi, 9, 10.
u Acts xxviii. 25, x Mic. v. 2. and Heb. xii. 8. Matt. xviii. 20. and xxviii. 20. John ii. 25. and xxi. 17. John i. 3. and Matt. xxviii. 18.
y Heb, ix. 14. Ps. cxxxix. 7, 8. 1 Cor. ii. 10. Gen. i. 2. and Job xxvi. 13.
z Hence we see how properly we are taught to express our belief of this doctrine in the Athanasian Creed: “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 ... So that in all things the Unity in Trinity, and Trinity in Unity, is to be worshipped."