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II. The one living and true God exists in three distinct Persons.
It is generally supposed, that the inspired writers of the Old Testament, give some plain intimations of a plurality of persons in the Godhead. Moses, in speaking of God, very often used the plural number, when the idiom of the language allowed him to use the same word, or some other, in the singular number; which is a presumptive evidence, that he meant to intimate a personal distinction in the divine nature. And this supposition is strengthened, by his representing God himself as speaking in the same manner, on different occasions. He tells us, that when God was about to create man, he said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” And again, that when he was about to confound the language of the builders of Babel, he said, “Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech.” Moses often mentions “the Angel of the Lord,” who appeared to the ancient patriarchs in the figure of a man, but spake the language of God. This was undoubtedly Christ, the second person in the Trinity, whom the Apostle says “had been in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God.” Job seems to have been acquainted with the plurality of persons in the Deity, and to have built his hopes of salvation upon the atonement of the second. “I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth.” David clearly understood the doctrine of the Trinity, and frequently refers to each Person, in the book of Psalms. He says to God, “Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me.” And again he says, “Whither shall I go from thy Spirit; or whither shall I flee from thy presence?” He once and again mentions both the Father and Son together. “The Lord said unto my Lord, sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” This refers to the promise of the Father to the Son, in the second Psalm. “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.” These predictions respected each person in the Trinity, as the Apostle Peter tells us in the second chapter of Acts. “Men and brethren, let me freely speak unto you of the patriarch David, that he is both dead and buried, and his sepulchre is with us unto this day. Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before, spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption. This Jesus hath God raised up, whereof we are all witnesses. Therefore being by the right hand of God exalted, and having received of the Father the promise of the Holy Ghost, he hath shed forth this which ye now se and hear, For David is not ascended into the heavens: but he saith himself, The Lord said unto my Lord, set thou on my right hand, until I make thy foes thy footstool.” After this, Peter further says, “Yea, and all the prophets from Samuel, and those that follow after, as many as have spoken, have likewise foretold these days.” It plainly appears from this passage, that all the prophets, who foretold the coming of Christ, understood the doctrine of the Trinity, and the different parts, which the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, were to act in carrying into execution
the gracious scheme of redemption. And just so far as the people of God understood the predictions of their prophets, respecting the Messiah, they too must have known and believed the plurality of Persons in the Deity.
But we find this, like many other great and impor: tant doctrines, more clearly revealed, by Christ and the Apostles, than it had been before, by the Prophets. Christ said a great deal about the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. He commended his apostles and their successors in the ministry, to baptize visibie believers, in the name of this sacred Trinity. He promised to send the Holy Ghost, to comfort his disciples, and to convince and convert sinners. And he neglected no proper opportunity of teaching his hearers, that He, his Father, and the Holy Spirit, were three equally divine Persons, united in one God. After his death, his apostles strenuously maintained and propagated the same doctrine. The apostle John wrote his gospel with a principal view, to maintain the divinity and equality of each person in the Trinity. And in his second Epistle he expressly says, “There are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one.” The apostle Paul begins and ends all his Epistles, in the very spirit and language of the Trinity. It may suffice to mention one instance, in the close of his second epistle to the Corinthians. “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Ghost be with you all. Amen.” These few passages of Scripture plainly show, that God has revealed himself to his people, in every age of the church, as existing in three Persons.
III. This leads us to inquire why we ought to address and worship the one true God, according to this personal distinction in the divine nature.
1. Here the first reason which occurs is, because we ought, in our religious devotions, to acknowledge every thing in God, which belongs to his essential glory. Much of his essential glory consists in his existing a Trinity in Unity; which is a mode of existence infinitely superior to that of any other beings in the universe. Though there is a wide difference in the powers and capacities; as well as moral characters, of intelligent creatures, yet we know of no difference in their mode of existence. Among the vast variety of created natures, no individual has ever been known, who existed in a plurality of persons. This mode of existence is peculiar to the one only living and true God, and constitutes one of the essential perfections of his nature. We ought, therefore, to acknowledge this as well as any other divine attribute, in our addresses to the Deity. It is the great design of religious worship, to give unto God all the honour and glory, which are due unto his name. There is precisely the same reason why we should address our Maker, as Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, one God in three Persons; as why we should address him, as the first, the greatest, the wisest, and the best of Beings.
2. We ought to address and worship God, according to the personal distinction in the divine nature, because we are deeply indebted to each person in the Godhead, for the office he sustains and the part he performs, in the great work of redemption.
The Father is by nature God, and by office, the Creator, Lawgiver, Governor, and Judge of the world. It is the Father in his official character, who formed the gospel scheme of salvation; who appointed Christ to be the Redeemer, and the Holy Ghost the sanctifier, of mankind; who created all things according to his eternal purpose in Christ Jesus; who the
hibition to Adam, and the law to Israel, who governed the world from Adam to Christ; and who will judge the world at the last day. Though any or all these works, may be ascribed to the Son and Spirit; yet they cannot be properly ascribed to either, in the same sense in which they are to be ascribed to the Father. Neither the Son, nor the Spirit, ever work officially with the Father; nor the Father officially with the Son, or Spirit. It is the peculiar and exclusive office of the Father, to foreordain all things, to create all things, to govern all things, and to give law and judgment to the whole intelligent creation.
The Son is by nature God, and by office, the Redeemer. Mediator, or Savior of the world. In this office, he has acted, and still acts, in subordination to the Father. According to his eternal appointment, he became personally united with human nature, took upon him the for:n of a servant, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross, to make complete atonement for all mankind: and he now lives to intercede for the elect, and to overrule all things for their benefit.
The Holy Ghost is by nature God, and by office, the Sanctifier and Comforter of the heirs of salvation. In this office, he acts in subordination to the Son, as well as to the Father, and applies the atonement of Christ to those who were ordained to eternal life. He awakens their consciences, renews their hearts, and carries on a work of grace within them until he has made them meet for the kingdom of glory.
Thus each person in the Godhead has laid us under distinct and peculiar obligations to himself, for what he has done to promote our salvation. We are indebted to the Father for bringing us into existence, and sending his Sön to die for us. We are indebted to