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النشر الإلكتروني

LECTURE VII.

THE TRINITY.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. Matt. xxviii. 19.

Having in our last Lecture shown one part of man's fall, from a state of loving obedient dependence upon God, with the remedy provided for it, in regeneration or being born again of the Holy Spirit; there remains to be considered the second part of his fall, from the favour of God into a state of condemnation, with the remedy provided for it, in the redemp. tion, propitiation, or atonement of Jesus Christ. But as the efficacy of the atonement depends upon the Deity of Christ, it will be necessary to prepare the way for the proof of that, by first showing the scriptural evidence for the doctrine of the Trinity.

The word Trinity is taken from a Latin word (tres) which means three; the word unity is taken from another, (unus) which means one: a triune being therefore is a being who is both three and one, both a Trinity and a Unity. Such

a being, scripture teaches us, is God. If we are to believe God's own record of himself, we must be both Unitarians and Trinitarians; to be either without the other would be equally unscriptural, This shows, that when we call deniers of the Trinity by the name of Unitarians, it is only on the same principle that we call Papists by the name of Catholics; because, having assumed it to themselves, it has got to be in common use, and is generally understood. But it is necessary to protest against the usurpation; for, though we are Trinitarians and Protestants, we are also Unitarians and Catholics. All arguments and texts therefore brought to prove that God is One, that there is but one Lord, that his name is One, and so on, are just as much on our side as on the Socinian's. They establish one essential part of our doctrine—the Unity of God. People are often deceived by a great array of texts concerning God's Unity, which are prod to disprove his Trinity. We insist that God is One, just as strongly as our opponents do; therefore what can be the use, when arguing against us, of heaping up proofs of what we are both agreed on? The only use it can be, is to deceive ignorant persons into the idea that they have proved their point, when in reality they have only proved what no one denies: they have proved the Unity, but have not gone one step towards disproving the Trinity. Let them bring a single text to prove that God's Unity is not a compound Unity, that in his unity there is not a trinity, and then they will be coming to the point. But they well know that, however many are the assertions in scripture of there being only one God, there is not a word which can be tortured into a proof, that this one God is not also three Persons.

But the thing is absurd, we are told, and impossible in itself: how can God, or anything else, be both three and one? Do you remember St. Paul's answer to the objector, who said, How are the dead raised up, and with what body do they come? If a bucket could be endued with speech and reasov, and was to say, I'll not believe there is such a thing as the ocean, because I cannot contain it-would it be greater folly than that of a worm like man, who will not believe what God reveals of his own nature, because the mysteries of the Infinite cannot be compressed within the compass of his finite mind; because he cannot conceive it, or understand how it is so? “Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven; what canst thou do? Deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.

If he cut off, and shut up, or gather together, then who can hinder him? For he knoweth vain man: he seeth wickedness also; will he not then consider it? For vain man would be wise, though man be born like a wild ass's colt.” Job xi. 7–12. Did you ever try to realise to your mind the existence of a God at all? Hear the words of a man who possessed one of the greatest minds that ever a Christian minister was gifted with Robert Hall; “How the Divine Being exists in an essential and eternal nature of his own, without beginning as well as without end: how he can be present at the same moment in every point of boundless space, without excluding any one of his creatures from the room it occupies: how, unseen, unfelt by all, he can maintain a pervading and intimate acquaintance and contact with all parties and all portions of the universe: how he can be at once all eye, all ear, all presence, all energy, yet interfere with none of the perceptions and actions of his creatures - this is what equally baffles the mightiest and the meanest intellect. This is the great mystery of the universe, which is at once the most certain and the most incomprehensible of all things; a truth enveloped at once in a flood of light and in an abyss of darkness, Inexplicable itself, it explains all besides. It casts a clearness on every question, accounts for every phenomenon, solves every problem, illuminates every depth, and renders the whole mystery of existence as perfectly simple, as it is otherwise perfectly unintelligible: while itself alone remains in impenetrable obscurity. After displacing every other difficulty, it remains the greatest of all, in solitary, insurmountable, unapproachable grandeur. So truly clouds and darkness are round about him; he maketh darkness his secret habitation, his pavilion to cover him thick clouds."

Yes; to allow God's eternity, that he never had a beginning, and then to say that his Trinity is too difficult a thing to believe, is indeed to “strain at a gnat and swallow a camel." But although we fully acknowledge, that there are unfathomable mysteries connected with the doctrine of the trinity, especially in reference to the Son's incarnation, yet as far as the simple fact of a tri-unity is concerned, we contend that the idea is perfectly familiar to our minds, that nuinberless in. stances of it are perpetually before our eyes, and there is not the slightest difficulty either in understanding or believing it. The Pope's triple crown is but one crown. A committee formed of three persons is but one committee. The Prime Minister and other officers under the Queen form but one government. All the electors in a borough form but one constituency, all the members but one House of Commons, the Peers but one House of Lords, and the two Houses together but one Parliament. Husband, wife and children inake but one family, many houses but one town, many drops of water but one river, root branches and leaves but one tree. Many letters make but one word, many words but one sentence, many sentences but one page, many pages but one book, many books but one library. Again, many soldiers make but one regiment, and many regiments but one army. In fact we may safely challenge the Unitarian to produce a single thing, either in nature or art, that is a simple unity. Unities there are in abundance: an army, a parliament, a book, is each a unity; but they are all compound unities. And this, be it observed, is the thing cavilled at as impossible and absurd in the Godhead. No one pretends, that there is any peculiar difficulty in the number three, more than any other number: what the Unitarian pronounces incredible being the plurality of persons in the Godhead; that is, there being more persons than one-the word plurality being taken from a Latin word (plures) which means ‘more.' How marvellous! compelled to acknowledge that every thing around him, down to the minutest atom that the microscope reveals, is a plurality or compound unity, he yet thinks it incredible, that the Maker of them all should be one himself! But the works of creation, be it observed, not only show a plurality in every unity, but in a wonderful number of cases that plurality is found to be a trinity; nay, the deeper science penetrates into the elements of nature, the more certain does it appear, that all creation is a “tri-une shadow" of it's Maker. Take for example the rainbow. What a trinity in unity is this ! “The rainbow, which is light analysed, is but three colours, blue, yellow, and red, with their intermediate shades. I think no one of these can be mixed or made of others, and in their union they produce colourless light." Pure light has no colour; and therefore, although rendering other things visible, is invisible itself. Light is not a simple, but a compound, unity: and being composed of three colours, it is a trinity. In the rainbow, this invisible unity is rendered visible, by being resolved into its three component parts, red, yellow, and blue; which colours however are not three, but one, rainbow. This rainbow is "a token of the covenant" between God and all the earth that he will never destroy it any more with a flood. Now for the application. "God is Light," pure white colourless light, --invisible. This triune Godhead," (which like the light is not a simple, but a compound unity) is “manifested" or rendered visible, by the incarnation of one of its persons in human form. And this manifestation of Deity in the person of Jesus Christ, is “the Mediator of the new covenant,” in virtue of which, "all that believe in him shall not perish, but have everlasting life."

One more instance must suffice; but that one perhaps the most perfect that the universe can supply. Did it never strike you,

while you were denying the possibility of a trinity in God, that you are a trinity yourself-body, soul, and spirit, yet but one man? Did it never strike you why you are a trinity? That you were made in the image of God? “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," were the words of Jehovah the Elohim, and man stood forth a trinity in unity, body, soul and spirit, the triune image of his Maker. No doubt man was also made in the moral image of God, "in righteousness and true holiness,” and likewise in the bodily image of that form, in which God had from eternity determined to manifest himself;* but his trinity I believe to have been the chief point of the purposed resemblance. That man is a trinity, even science, unaided by scripture, has long ago discovered; although it is not always easy or possible to fix the exact functions of the three component parts. We have no need, however, to stand on any such ground, for we have the infallible authority of an inspired apostle to certify us of the fact; “I pray God your whole spirit, and soul, and body, be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ.” I Thes. v. 23. And yet this very tri-une man has the folly to deny the possibility of a Trinity in the God, after whose image he was created. “Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools,” and give but too plain a proof, tbat in reason, and understanding, as well as in righteousness and holiness, man is a fallen creature.

There are others, however, who profess their perfect readiness to believe the doctrine, if it can be proved from scripture: but these two things seem to stagger them; that the words trinity, triune, &c. never occur in the Bible,t and that the doc. trine is not fully and clearly taught in any one place. To the first I would reply; neither is the word Deity in the Biblethen is there no such thing? How fond Unitarians are of talking about “the supreme Being,” “the great Author of all things," " " the moral Governor of the universe; are any of these expressions in Scripture? No, but the word Deus, we are told, from which Deity is derived, may be found in a Latin Bible. What has that to do with it? No doubt the thing Deity is in scripture; so is the thing Trinitythe cavil in both cases is about the word. Is there such a word as Christianity in either the Old or New Testament? or Morality? or Unitarianism? Perhaps we shall be told that the word unus, from which Unitarianism is derived, may be found in a Latin Bible;

* St. Paul calls Adam “ the figure of him that was to come.” Rom. v. 14.

+ Socinus himself acknowledges the unreasonableness of this objection in the following words :-"It is sufficient with all lovers of the truth, that the thing itself, about which a question is raised, should be confirmed by reasons or proofs ; although the words, which are used in unfolding the question, may not be expressly written.

but unus means one, not Unitarianism; as Deus means God, not Godhead—which is the meaning of Deity. The fact is, that Unitarians, as well as every other sect, are compelled to go out of scripture for terms to express their belief, on account of the different meanings put upon nearly every expression in scripture. If we were all confined to scripture words, it would be utterly impossible to tell, what any single person believed about any single doctrine. For such is the perverse ingenuity of man in torturing God's words to make them express his sentiments, that every sect and party claim the Bible on their side. A creed drawn up only in scriptural words, would be readily subscribed to by Bapist and Protestant, Calvinist and Unitarian; and yet while avowing the same belief, their opinions would be as opposite as black and white, because each would attach his own meaning to the words.* As a mutual accommodation therefore, in order to understand one another, we agree to state our separate opinions of what the words of scripture mean, in other words. The Unitarian and I both profess to believe "the gospel of Jesus Christ,” “the truth as it is in Jesus," and so on; but as these words convey a very different idea to his mind and to mine, we agree to call what he thinks “the gospel of Jesus Christ” means, by the name of Unitarianism; and what I think it means, by the name of Trinitarianism. And then the very man, who calls himself a Unitarian, and his creed Unitarianism, and who talks about the Deity, the Supreme Being, &c. &c. actually turns round and declares our belief to be unscriptural, because the word Trinity is not in the Bible!! Why if we are to use no words but what are in the Bible, how are we to preach, teach, or expound ? we must do nothing but read it. If it has to be explained at all, it must of course be explained in other words, Why does the Unitarian use the words Christianity, or Morality? Because it is a short easy way of expressing a complex idea. All the different things, which make up Christianity or Morality, might no doubt be mentioned in scriptural words, whenever he wanted to convey the idea; but it would be a long troublesome process.

For the same reason we use the word Trinity.

• How could the ruling powers in any Christian Church obey the command in Titus iii. 10 about rejecting a heretic, if they could only examine him in scriptural words? It would be iinpossible to detect him! A well known instance will at once occur to the minds of many who read this.

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