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Ephesians ii. 18.
Through him we both have access by one spirit unto
THE course of our inquiry has led us now to trace the great outline of a christian life, beginning with justification through faith in the saviour, and continued through sanctification by the influence of the holy ghost. In the course of our remarks on the doctrine of justification some reasons were pointed out for holding, if it can be proved, the deity of the son of God; and in considering the doctrine of sanctification we have found similar cause for receiving the deity of the holy ghost. Yet the unity of the Godhead had been already established; and the result of the whole inquiry would lead us at once to the mysterious doctrine of a trinity in the unity of the divine nature.
Nevertheless this is a tenet, far too important to be established incidentally in the course of a discussion upon other subjects. It demands and deserves a separate investigation. I propose therefore to lay before you this morning some of the direct scriptural proofs, by which it may be made to appear, that our previous inferences upon this subject are not unwarranted by the word of God : and may the grace of our lord, Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the holy ghost be with us, to guide us unto the knowledge of his truth, and draw us near to himself!
We are now proceeding, my brethren, to the consideration of a mysterious doctrine, which we learn from scripture alone. An impartial view of nature might teach us, that there is but one God.
But scripture adds to this truth what divine revelation only could make known, that in the unity of this Godhead there are three persons of one substance, power, and eternity, the father, the son, and the holy ghost.
It is necessary therefore, before we examine the proofs of this mystery, that we should entertain a profound reverence for the holy volume, and be ready to believe every assertion, contained in it, merely because it is found there. The authenticity and the genuineness of its several parts have already been discussed by us; and, though the examination has been necessarily brief, I trust the result has been satisfactory. If any one however should doubt concerning any part of it, he should be careful to satisfy that doubt, before he pretends to investigate the evidence of a truth, which rests altogether upon its sole authority.
However, without embarking a second time upon this inquiry, I may be permitted to repeat, that the single fact of the resurrection of Christ, circumstanced as it was, is sufficient to give credibility to all his assertions, even to that, which declared him to be one with the father. God however is revealed to us not only by the words of Christ, but in the whole of the bible: and, if that inspired book reveal him to us in his own absolute perfections, it would be idle and unreasonable not to be prepared to expect, that we shall find in it many things, which are at variance with our preconceived notions : for how should a weak, uninstructed mortal conceive aright of deity? There must be many mysteries in infinity, which transcend our poor apprehensions: and hence, were a revelation of him offered to our notice, which contained nothing in it mysterious or surprising, that very circumstance would be a presumption against its truth.
Let us therefore not be startled or shocked at the word, mystery, but examine candidly, what ground there is in scripture for receiving the doctrine of a trinity in the divine unity! and let us do this with the greater earnestness, because it is a matter of prime importance in religion, that we should entertain right notions of God!
The first argument to be adduced upon this subject requires a slight knowledge of the first elements of grammar. It requires nothing more than this. But its force will be at once felt by all, who are acquainted with the most
ordinary principles of construction in language. To such persons it cannot but appear a very remarkable fact, when they are told, that the very name of God in the original Hebrew, which is the language of the old testament, indicates a plurality in his nature; for it is a plural noun: and it indicates moreover an unity in that plurality; for it constantly agrees with singular adjectives and verbs. Nor was this occasioned by any idiom of the language. It is a peculiarity, which occurs in no other instance, and which was not necessary in this ; for there is a singular number to the noun in question, which is occasionally used, as if to shew, that the plural form, when it occurs, is adopted purely by design: and so convinced were the Hebrew doctors of some mystery, concealed under this peculiar phraseology, that some of them had actually, before the coming of our saviour, deduced the doctrine we are now considering from the obscure hints of it, which are scattered throughout the old testament.
But the peculiarity of scriptural phraseology is not confined to the name of God. The language, occasionally ascribed to him, justifies