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3. Since God exists in three equally divine persons, there appears to be good ground to pay divine homage to each person distinctly. Though the Father is most generally to be distinctly and directly addressed; yet sometimes there may be a great propriety in addressing the Son and Spirit
, according to their distinct ranks and offices. Christ said, “the Father would that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.” Accordingly, Christ never rejected nor condemned the divine homage, which was repeatedly paid to him both before and after his resurrection. Stephen, we know, with his dying breath prayed and said, “Lord Jesus receive my spirit.” This, if there were no other instance of the kind recorded in scripture, would warrant us to pray distinctly and directly to Christ, as well as to the Father. It is true, we have no precept nor example for paying distinct and direct homage to the Holy Ghost; but his divine nature and office evidently render him a proper object of religious worship, and both justify and encourage us, to pray immediately and distinctly to him for his sanctifyi:ng guiding, and comforting influences. There appears to be the same reason for praying to our Sanctifier for grace, as to our Redeemer for pardon. And this has been the general opinion of orthodox christians, who have, from age to age, had their doxologies, in which they have paid distinct and equal adoration and praise to the Father, to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost.
4. If we ought to acknowledge and worship the true God, according to the personal distinction in the divine nature; then we ought to obey bim, according to the same distinction. We find somecommandsgiven by the Fathes, some by the Son, and some by the Holy Ghost.
Though we are equally bound to obey each of these divine Persons, in point of authority, yet we ought to
obey each from distinct motives, arising from the distinct relations they bearto us, and the distinct things they have done for us. We ought to obey the Father, as our Creator; the Son as our Redeemer; and the Holy Ghost, as our Sanctifier. This distinction is as easy to be per ceived and felt, as the distinction between creating goodness, redeeming mercy, and sanctifying grace. Every true believer will feel constrained from a sense of gratitude, to distinguish the commands of the Father, Son, and Spirit, and to pay a cheerful obedience to the commands of each Person, from the most endearing motives, Christ expected his friends should obey his commands from a sense of his kindness, as well as of his authority. “If ye love me keep my commandments. Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. If a man love me, he will keep my words.” The apostle and the primitive christians felt the constraining influence of gratitude, to live a life of obedience to him, who suffered and died for them. “For the love of Christ constraineth us, because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead: and that he died for all, that they which live, should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him who died for them, and rose again.” If the love of Christ be a distinct reason for obeying his commands, then the love of the Father is a distinct reason for obeying his commands; and the love of the Spirit is a distinct reason for obeying his precepts and prohibitions. Thus a cordial belief of the glorious doctrine of the Trinity, cannot fail of having a powerful and happy influence upon every branch of the christian life, as well as every act of christian piety and devotion.
It now concerns the professors of religion to inquire whether they are real, or only nominal christians. The doctrine we have been considering is a proper
criterion, to determine this serious and interesting question. If those who bear the christian name, will bring themselves to this standard, it is more than possible, that many at this day, may find that they have no good ground to hope that they are real christians. Have any a right to entertain this hope, who do not acknowledge and worship the only true God, as he has revealed himself in the gospel? Has he not there revealed himself, as the only living and true God, existing in three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost? Do either the Arians, or Socinians, or Sabellians, or Unitarians, acknowledge and worship God, as existing a Trinity of Persons in a unity of essence? Do they honour the Son, or the Spirit, as they honour the Father? Is there any essential difference between their religious homage, and the religious homage of Deists or Pagans? They all perfectly agree in the sole object of their supreme worship; and may they not all be equally sincere in their religious devotions? But do any of them acknowledge and worship the only true God, according to the personal distinction in the divine nature? Do any of them approach the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit? Is there the least trait of christianity in their religious worship? And can such infidel and pagan services meet the divine approbation? If the doctrine of the adorable Trinity be true, it must lie at the foundation of Christianity, both in theory and practice, and brand all those as antichristian, who refuse to worship God, in the belief and love of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. It is hard to conceive how any man can persuade himself, that he is a real christian, who has never had any communion with the sacred Trinity, and who has always in his religious devotions, symbolized with Pagans and Infidels.
HUMAN AND DIVINE AGENCY INSEPARABLY
Genesis xlv, 5. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with your
. selves, that
ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life. IT is the peculiar excellence of sacred history, to disa play the hand and counsel of God, in the government of the moral world. The inspired writers relate not only the free and voluntary actions of men, but represent them as inseparably connected with the free and voluntary agency of the Deity. This circumstance renders sacred history much more interesting and instructive than profane, which contains little more than the bare recital of past actions and events. The agency and design of God in all the concerns of men, give them their greatest importance. Though the history of Joseph contains a great variety of singular and surprising events; yet these would appear comparatively trifling, were they not related in connexion with the ultimate design and superintendency of God, in bringing them to pass. In this view, there is something extremely interesting in the account of Joseph's making himself known to his brethren. “Then Joseph could not refrain himself before all them that stood by him; and he said, Cause every man to go out from me: and there stood no man with him, while Joseph made himself known to his brethren. And he wept aloud; and the Egyptians and the house of Pharaoh heard. And Joseph said unto his breth
ren, I am Joseph; doth my father yet live? And his
? brethren could not answer him: for they were troubled at his presence. And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you; and they came near: and he said I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.” This was as much as to say, “Though you meant to destroy a brother's life, and break a father's heart; yet I freely and heartily forgive you. And though you meant to defeat the design and control the hand of God, for which you ought to repent in dust and ashes; yet be not grieved that the event took place, for God was the supreme agent in it, and made use of you as instruments, to accomplish the wise and benevolent purpose of preserving your lives, and the lives of millions in the midst of the present extensive and destructive famine." In this address to his brethren, Joseph represents God as doing what they had done. Though they sent him into Egypt, yet he represents God as sending him thither. He more fully expresses this idea in the words immediately succeeding the text. “These two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in which there shall be neither earing or harvest. And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance. So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God.” That is, God was the primary and supreme agent, in bringing about this great and most happy event. This is the truth which now naturally falls under our consideration,