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ever, from the nature of things. Till finite shali be able to understand infinite, the divine nature will continue to be a mystery. And shall we dare,
that there is no such glorious Being, because we cannot comprehend eternity and infinity? This is both unreasonable and wicked. “ Who by searching can find out God, or the Almighty to perfection ? Could any of his creatures comprehend him, he would cease to be God; and consequently he would be no longer an object of supreme love and adoration.
The belief of the existence of a supreme Intelligence, who created and who
ho governs the world, forces itself upon the mind. The Christian who receives the sacred scriptures as the ground of his faith and practice, will also admit the doctrine of a Trinity in Unity. That there are three who bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the holy Ghost, and that these three are one, he readily admits ; although he does not attempt to explain this mysterious union, even to himself. He feels no greater embarrassment in admit. ting this truth than he does in admitting the belief of an eternal, self-existent First Cause. All that relates to the modus of the divine existence, must, by reason of our limited capacities, be mystery to us.
The same may be said with regard to the incarnation of Christ. The sacred scriptures de clare, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;" that in the man Jesus dwelt " all the fullness of the Godhead bodily." But this union between the divine and human natures of Christ, or what 'St. Paul calls “God manifest in the Hesh," is, without controversy, a great mystery
The same thing may be asserted as to the work of creation. What idea have we of God's creating all things out of nothing? or, can we conceive of that act of Deity that gave existence to matter, and reduced it to its various forms? It was so; but how it was, we know not. He spake, and it was done ; he commanded, and it stood fast; he said, Let there be light, and there was light.
3. Mystery attends the providence of God. Clouds and darkness are round about him. His way is in the sea, and his judgments are a great deep. I need not take up your time by enume. rating the many unaccountable things that take place in the divine government, which Jehovah, had he seen fit, could have prevented, but hath not.
4. This is the case with the gospel, or with divine revelation :
Here I would remark, (1.) That it is no reasonable objection to Christianity, that there are mysteries in it, any more than it is to creation and providence. The objection may with equal force be applied to the latter as to the former.
(2.) I remark, that a mystery is not contrary to reason, but above it. It may be perfectly consistent with reason, though reason may not be able to comprehend or explain it. I may 'illustrate this observation in the following manner : The minds of mankind are not equal as to pow. ers or information. Hence it follows, that what may be a mystery to one, may be well understood by another. To a very ignorant man, of 'small powers of mind, many things are unintelligible,
Ascend from him to a person of a greater mind and better information, and he correctly understands what perplexed the other. Thus we may ascend, from men of common capacities, to the astonishing genius of a Newton; and we shall find that the things which were mysteries to many persons of less penetration than he, were well understood by his great and penetrating mind. Pass from a Newton to the holy angels, and they comprehend what he could not. Pass from angels to the Infinite Mind, and no mystery remains. All things lie naked and open to his view. These observations show, that what may be a mystery to some, is plainly understood by others. It follows, that a matter may be above our reason that is not contrary to it; if contrary to it, the matter could not be comprehended by
(3.) I pass naturally to observe, from what has been said, that the increase of religious knowledge will naturally remove much perplexity from the mind. This is the case in this life. Hence Paul says, “ When I was a child, I thought as a child ; I understood as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things.” Christians have many childish things, which they will put away upon their increase of divine knowledge. But when they shall arrive in glory, they shall know even as they are known.
“ Now they see through a glass darkly, then face to face.” This thought may afford the Christian some consolation under present ignorance and perplexity. Increase of knowledge will, undoubtedly, be a great part of the happiness of heaven.
2. I now pass to mention, that the term mystery is used in the holy scriptures to signify a truth that the disciples understood, but which the people at large did not understand. “ To you it is given,” said Christ to his disciples, “ to know the mysteries of the kingdom; but to them that are without, these things are done in parables.” Matt. xiii. 11. The disciples understood what Christ calls the mystery of the kingdom, but the world did not.
3. It is used to signify a truth that had been long hid, but which was at length revealed. Thus Paul speaks of the calling of the Gentiles : The mystery which had been hid from ages and from generations ; but which is now made man. ifest to the saints; that the Gentiles should be fellow-heirs, and partakers of the same blessings with the Jews. Colos. i. 26.
Thus we learn, that the term mystery, in the holy scriptures, is used in three senses ; for a truth that is in its own nature incomprehensible, as the eternal, self-existent Jehovah; the doctrine of the Trinity ; the incarnation of Christ, &c. Also for a truth that was known to the disciples, but not to the people at large. And for a truth that had been long hid, but was at length revealed; as the calling of the Gentiles to the fellowship of the gospel. The latter appears to be the sense of the term in the text.
II. “Behold I shew you a mystery : we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed, in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump; for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed."
This change that will pass on the saints at the last day he calls a mystery, because,
1. It had been a hidden truth or fact till now revealed. “ Behold I shew you a mystery :” that is, I reveal to you what you never knew before. As soon as revealed, it was no more a mystery.
2. He calls this change a mystery, because it will be produced in a mysterious manner. The same divine power that created the universe, will be exerted to produce this wonderful and instantaneous change on the bodies of living saints. How striking is Paul's account of this change_“In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.” We are here taught the suddenness of this change" in a moment.” Perhaps too, in a moment unlooked for. Solemn thought!
We are also taught that the resurrection of the dead will be alike sudden, and that the same pow. er that will raise the dead will change the living saints. “The dead,” says he, “shall be raised, and we shall be changed:” both will take place in the same moment. What an august scene will open to an astonished universe!
The apostle says, “We shall not all sleep." He uses the term we, not to intimate that he should remain till Christ's second coming ; but as one of the great family of man. We, mankind at large, shall not all sleep, i. e. die. He himself hath been dead many centuries, and will be among the number who shall be raised at the last day. But some of the human race, both saints and sinners, will remain alive at that period, who will be changed.