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In the meantime there is, at least to our apprehension, a distinct empire in Christ: but THEN the Son also himself shall be subject unto Him that put all things under him, to God the Father with the Holy Ghost; and all Three the Subject of one notion, as they are now of three, which the infirmity of our human understanding will not allow us at present to comprehend in one: and no wonder, as the presence of the nearest witness of the Three, being therefore the third named or last, is now but little known and seldom heeded. For if we have not so much as an infant perception of the Holy Ghost, how are we to ascend by his means to the perception and enjoyment of the Father and the Son? We know, that all intellectual government must proceed by the medium of an image, as all spiritual government must by the medium of an impulse; there being no immediate government in this intermediate state. The matter is to apprehend either Medium as a distinct form or presence of the Deity, but not as a distinct subject; to wit, the Father as a form or presence distinct from the Son ; either of these, from the Holy Ghost; and all or either, from their respective objects, the minds, the souls and bodies that are blessed with their presence; as in the first place our Lord, Jesus Christ, the first-born among many brethren, and next they who are predestinate to be conformed to his image (Rom. viii. 29); but neither as a subject distinct from the Deity in the relations which they bear to it respectively. So neither can we conceive the Logos, Word, or Image of God to be a distinct person from the substance of Christ: for where then were his person? nor the Holy Spirit to be a distinct person from that which is embodied in Christ and his—“they that are Christ's, and have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts” (Gal. v. 24)—"the church; which is his body, the fulness of Him that filleth all in all” (Eph. i. 22, 23).
Wherefore, if it should be asked How we are to understand the Word alone bearing record with the Father and the Holy Ghost in Heaven, and not the Son in whose person the same Word is presented, and if the Son did not bear record with the Father and Holy Ghost on the subject alluded to, why he should not? To satisfy these inquiries, it will be necessary to advert to the record itself or the matter recorded; “And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son " (John I. v. 11). It would not therefore have been either seemly or authentic for the Son to bear record of himself as he observes, according to his humanity ; “ If I bear witness of myself (says he) my witness is not true” (John v. 31): while on the contrary, speaking of bimself as the Eternal Word, which was in the beginning with God, was God himself in the beginning, and latterly born in him to the created world, he says, “ Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: for I know whence I came, and whither I go” (Ib. viii. 14). The Son and the Word are one form or presence, as the Father is one with the Son and Holy Ghost: and one designation will apply to each. The Father is truth, the Word is truth and the Holy Ghost is truth: and therefore beareth he witness, “ because the Spirit is truth” (John I. v. 6).
So the Father is good, the Son is good, and the Holy Ghost is good; and in other characteristics these three are also One, as before observed, and ever must be; there being but one character in divinity, as there is but one essence; these two, namely Character and Essence, forming one homogeneous Substance, in which the three divine Persons or Correlatives aforesaid are united.
Therefore, in applying the name of goodness, or truth, or any other attribute, as of wisdom and power for example to different modes of the divine Presence, we should beware of giving it too personal a meaning; as if it denoted the modes entirely, and they merely consisted in the attributes so named, being only the more conspicuous and characteristic of many meeting in them; as the Word or Wisdom of God in his more intellectual mode or Presence,
and the Power of God in his more spiritual; also both in one person,
“ Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God” (Cor. I. i. 24); in other words, his peculiar Pre
For a subject may be PRESENT in a foreign medium, and REPRESENTED by that which has no share in it, but can only be PRESENTED in or by itself. And speaking of the divine Subject or Deity, St. Paul observes, “The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made" (Rom. i. 20): while God himself, that is, “the eternal Power and Godhead, no man hath seen at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him” (John i. 18); being the only, and as the forecited apostle also observes, express image of his Person” (Heb. i. 3).
* But the argument of this Supreme Relation BEGINS to exceed its proportionate allowance. If all that has been said thereon may serve to give a notion of the same, or as far as can be expected, to moderate capacities, they who might have been satisfied with a less expense of words, as well as they who needed not any for the sake of such a notion, will have the liberality to excuse what either may find superfluous. And may they in return, with Christians of every sort and stature, have the happiness to feel the spirit as well as to comprehend the letter of their profession. May people begin to contract in deed, and not in tongue only, such obligations as they are mutually concerned to keep in the name and with the sanction of the ever blessed Trinity! For the professors of an unlimited subjection to this divine Authority are more than a thousand to one in comparison with its observers. They enter upon the stage of life with this professed subjection, they are happy to have its sanction for the domestic duties which they require of each other; they invoke the name of the Trinity in behalf of their public treaties and international transactions of every kind; and what is their object? Why
to bind, and not to be bound by their mutual engagements made before God in appearance : esteeming the gift before the altar, the gold before the temple, and the temple before Him that dwelleth therein”: fools and blind as they are (Matt. xxiii. 16, &c). For even in his temple, where
every man doth speak of his honour” (Ps. xxix. 8), it is more common to hear the mystery of the Trinity discussed, than the observance of its authority recommended : and while more is there said of these three that bear record in Heaven than the attainments of the speakers will often warrant, the plain duty of obedience to this divine authority, which may be obeyed without being comprehended, and the awful presence of such a witness, whether acknowledged or not, to every engagement however public, and to every action however private, are hardly remembered.
It may hardly be needful to add, that a delight in the several Persons of the ever blessed Trinity-in the FATHER, “ who maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good” (Matt. v. 45): in the WORD, which is “a lantern unto our feet, and a light unto our paths” (Ps. cxix. 105): in the SPIRIT, which is an object of inward peace and satisfaction (Rom. xiv. 17): in all and each, as God that delight which constitutes the highest enjoyment of an intellectual being in Heaven or in earth, and the proper reward of honouring that Presence-is not only a mystery for most, but a mystery unheard of-for many; who have never “ tasted the good word of God, and the powers of the world to come” (Heb. vi. 5). But such are the objects which the Gospel recommends to its professors as objects of worship and delight: such as they have been now described are also more particularly the views or notions with which we worship and delight in One only God, the Almighty, Maker of Heaven and Earth : and, to recapitulate the same in few words, and shew what we worship, it is
God—the Word of God, and Spirit of God;
God—the Son of God, and Power of God;
God--the Wisdom of God, and Goodness of God: HIM; his Bounty, and Providence; his Holy Spirit, his Holy Word, however named, or conceived, or distinguished; by persons or things, by types and characters, by angels and men, or by any other medium, presence or expression; but especially by the medium of two volumes in the Old and New Testament, with the criticisms, commentaries, decisions and traditions subservient thereto.
As we are bound to worship thus, and not ignorantly, but knowing what we worship, we accordingly endeavour to conceive and explain to each other as far as possible the sublime doctrine of divinity in its different relations, and chiefly in the forementioned three of simplicity, duality and trinity,--with a proper diffidence of our own conceptions, and allowance for other people's: hoping to meet the same allowance if necessary, and willing to receive a fairer exposition of the truth, when it is to be had; being what we worship in the Holy Trinity. We “worship the Father in Spirit and in Truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him” (John iv. 23). This high relation is the scope of our highest allegiance: and if we are, as we ought to be, resolved by God's grace to preserve the same inviolate come what will of it, our mind cannot conceive nor our heart desire a dearer object than light on this head. If light is dear to the eye for any perception, it should be dearer to the mind for this. Let it never be said again, that “light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil” (Ib. iii. 19). “The night is far spent; the day is at hand” (Rom. xiii. 12). In anticipation therefore of a fuller enjoyment of that glorious light, we should as sincere expectants endeavour to divest ourselves not only of “
every weight and the sin which doth so easily beset us” (Heb. xii. 1); but also of every false prejudice, which is a deadly weight upon the mental sight, substituting continually