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At the foundation of every creed of Christianity lies the belief in the existence of "one supreme, self-existent Being," who is from everlasting to everlasting — who always was and always will be infinite in being and perfection. A proper view of God is essential to acceptable worship. By this is not meant that we are to comprehend him, or understand the mode of the divine existence; but to know him in his attributes, so far as he has been pleased to reveal himself in nature and revelation. None of the sacred writers undertook to prove the existence of God; they simply affirmed it. When Moses commenced to write the history of creation, he said, "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth"; thus assuming the existence of such a Being. So in the formulation of creeds and confessions this great fundamental fact is assumed. Thus the Apostles' Creed commences, "I believe in God the Father Almighty." The Nicene Creed begins, "I believe in one God the Father Almighty." The Westminster Confession commences by affirming, "There is but one only living and true God." The United Brethren Confession begins, "We believe in the only true God." In like manner, other creeds commence by affirming this cardinal truth.
Every true worshiper should seek to know as much about God as it is possible to know; and it is possible to know a great deal about him. God only is absolutely perfect perfect in all his attributes. Angels and men may be perfect in a degree, but absolute perfection belongs to God, and to him alone. His divine perfections are brought within our view in nature and the Holy Scriptures, so that we can form some conception of his character and greatness. The perfections ascribed to God in the Scriptures, and in some degree visible in his works, are eternity, unity, spirituality, omniscience, omnipotence, omnipresence, immutability, holiness, truth, justice, and goodness. With all these divine and absolute perfections, the humble worshiper may draw nigh unto him and call him by the endearing name "Father." An old divine. after having reviewed the attributes of God, says, "Who then, as he contemplates this glorious being in the tran
scendent beauty of his revealed character, can forbear to pray, 'Thy name be hallowed; Thy kingdom come; Thy will be done; as in heaven, so in earth'?"
There lies deep in the human consciousness the abiding conviction that there is a God. To doubt the existence of a being such as the Scriptures reveal to us is to doubt our own consciousness. This belief is implanted in our nature, from which we cannot separate ourselves. Upon this idea a distinguished scholar said: "I feel myself to be an accountable being; therefore there must be one superior to me who can reward and punish. Otherwise my existence would be a contradiction."
In whatever direction we turn our thoughts, we meet with evidences of the divine existence. If we look within, we are confronted by our own consciousness. If we look into the vast field of nature, we see the evidences of wisdom, power, and goodness. There are contrivances and a fitness of things for one another which compel us to look for the contriver. Whence all these worlds and systems? Whence all these laws and forces? Whence all this order and harmony? Whence all this complete adaptation of one thing to another? Whence all this multiplicity of contrivance in every department of the universe? Did all these spring out of nothing? Was there not a cause for all these things? To these and many other similar questions there is but one reasonable answer,"In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." The idea of one supreme, self-existent Being of beings is the doctrine declared in this first article of our Confession.
It should be constantly kept in mind that to worship this great and holy Being acceptably, it must be performed in spirit and in truth. Jesus said to the woman of Samaria: "The hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." God is great, and greatly to be feared and adored. He is above all and over all the supreme object of worship both in heaven and on the
earth. May we not join with the pious psalmist and say, “O, come, let us worship and bow down; let us kneel before the Lord our Maker; for he is our God."
THE HOLY TRINITY.
Next to a belief in the existence of God is a belief in the existence of a Holy Trinity. The doctrine of the divine unity is taught and believed by the Christian church in general. Both the Old and New Testaments, in plain, unequivocal language, teach that there is none other God but one. "Thou art the God, even thou alone" (II. Kings 19:15). "Thou art God alone" (Psalm 86: 10; Isaiah 37: 16). But the Scriptures teach that there are three distinct but not separate persons in this one Godhead. The article under review says, "These three are one- the Father in the Son, the Son in the Father, and the Holy Ghost equal in essence and being with the Father and the Son."
This fundamental doctrine, however mysterious and incomprehensible it may be to us, lies at the very base of the whole Christian system. Remove this foundation stone and the whole superstructure falls to the ground. God is one and triune — three persons in one God. For the truth of this great doctrine we are indebted to the Holy Scriptures. Reason alone rejects it, not because it is contrary to right reason, but because it is above her highest reach. Reason has her realm, beyond which she may not go. No one can comprehend the mode of the divine existence, or fathom the depths of the divine essence. Why then reject the doctrine of the Trinity because of its incomprehensibility? Mysteries are all around us and in us. Even life is a mystery. We see and feel the evidences of it, but cannot tell what it is. We know, or may know, something about many things, but do not and cannot know all about anything. "It is happy for us," says Bishop Hall, "that God makes us of his court, and not of his council."
The Scriptures abundantly teach that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and that these three are one. "It is," says Dr. Meyer, "the
point on which all Christian ideas and interests unite; at once the beginning and end of all insight into Christianity." To reject the doctrine of the Trinity is to undermine the whole Christian system. "Those who have no Trinity have no Savior."
There are three distinct, but not separate, persons, of one essence,- three in unity. Dr. Ralston says: "The Bible doctrine of the Trinity is one of those sublime and glorious mysteries which the mind of man, at least while shrouded in clay, cannot penetrate. . A trinity of persons in the unity of the Godhead is something of which we can form no definite idea. The fact is revealed to us beyond contradiction in God's Holy Word." While in this time-haze, clothed with mortality, we walk by faith; but when these earthly vestments are laid aside, and we are permitted to see as we are seen, and know as we are known, we may then understand some of those mysteries which are now hidden from us. Faith is never so eloquent and triumphant as when, in the midst of inexplicable mysteries, she looks up into the face of God and exclaims, "Father, it is so, because thou hast said it!" To God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost, three in one, be praise, and honor, and dominion evermore. This subject is further treated under Article IV. "Deity of the Holy Ghost."
THE CONFESSION OF FAITH
WE believe that this triune God created the heavens and the earth, and all that in them is, visible and invisible; that he sustains, protects, and governs these, with gracious regard for the welfare of man, to the glory of his name.
THIS article contains two cardinal doctrines: first, creation; second, providence. It will be observed that these are closely allied to the propositions laid down in the first article, namely, "God and the Holy Trinity. It is the beauty, excellency, and utility of a confession of faith to state in systematic order all the fundamental doctrines of Christianity. This much we claim for the confession of faith now under review; not that it is superior to other creeds, but that it is not inferior to the very best.
"We believe that this triune God created the heavens and the earth, and all that in them is, visible and invisible." There is a visible and tangible universe, which exhibits marks of design and workmanship. Many theories have been advanced concerning the origin of matter and mind; but the Mosaic account given in Genesis 1:1 is not only the most ancient but the most reasonable theory that has ever been given. "In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth." This is a clear and unequivocal statement. Creation is the work of God; he alone has power to create · - to bring a universe out of nonentity. In Romans 1:20 Paul says "For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead." In Hebrews 11:3 we read, "Through faith we understand that the worlds. were framed by the word of God, so that things which