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DOCTRINE OF THE HOLY TRINITY,
USE AND IMPORTANCE OF IT:
PARISH CHURCH OF ST. AUSTIN.
2 Cor. xiii. 14. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God,
and the communion of the Holy Ghost, be with you all.
Amen. This solemn form of blessing, or benediction, in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, laid down by St. Paul, and from him derived into the common liturgies, may be a proper subject for our meditation upon the festival of the Holy Trinity, which we this day celebrate. It is a festival of long standing in the Church; though not so ancient as those of Christmas, Easter, AscensionDay, or Whitsuntide.
Every Lord's Day, formerly, was looked upon as the feast of the Holy Trinity, being in memory of the creation and of Christ's resurrection; in both which the three Divine Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, were all jointly concerned. Besides that in every festival, of old time, it had been customary to celebrate the praises of the Holy Trinity, in the common doxology, (“ Glory “ be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy “ Ghost,"') and in other the like forms, in the daily offices of the Church ; so that it appeared the less necessary to set apart any particular day in the year for the commemoration of the Holy Trinity, when the memory thereof was otherwise kept up in the ordinary and standing liturgies all the year round.
However, since the doctrine of the blessed Trinity is in itself of the highest concernment to all Christians, and had met with many opposers, even among Christians themselves, (by reason of its sublimity far surpassing human understanding,) the piety of our ancestors took care to have this momentous article more particularly inculcated; and, for that very purpose, set apart one more
especial Sunday in the year, to be called Trinity Sunday, as a standing memorial of it. Which seems to have been first done about nine hundred years ago, or at the least six, in some churches or monasteries; and in process of time became the usual and customary way in all churches throughout the world. The day chosen for it is the Sunday after Whitsunday, the most proper of any. For as the festival of Whitsunday is in memory of the great things done for us by God the Holy Ghost, Christmas and Easter, of what hath been done by God the Son, and all of them set forth the inestimable love of God the Father, by whom the Son was sent, and the Holy Spirit shed abroad; after such particular notice taken of the Divine Persons singly and separately, nothing could be more suitable than to have this festival immediately follow, wherein to celebrate the praises of all three together : so that the preceding festivals naturally conclude in this of the present day.
And that I may do some justice to this day's solemnity, I have made choice of a text, which is in effect a prayer put up to the three Divine Persons, imploring their aid, grace, and assistance. It is St. Paul's prayer, while we consider him as looking up to the three Divine Persons, imploring a blessing from them; and it is his benediction, if you consider him as imploring the same for and upon the Corinthians, to whom he is writing: so that the words have a double aspect; are petilionary, with respect to the Divine Persons, asking a blessing of them; and authoritative, with respect to the Corinthians, upon whom, as God's minister, by apostolical authority, he conveys the blessing derived from above. “ The grace of the Lord " Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion " of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen."
I must make a few remarks upon the several parts of the text, for the better understanding of it: which when I have done, I shall proceed to the consideration of the matter contained in it.