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“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.” Our common way of expressing it in the Liturgy is, “ The grace of
our Lord Jesus Christ.” And so many of the old Greek copies and versions, and ancient Fathers, read this text of St. Paul: instead of the Lord Jesus, our Lord Jesus ; though the difference is not very material.
The next words are," and the love of God;" that is, of God the Father. And so also some Greek copies, one version, and a Greek Father read the place. But the other reading is best warranted, and therefore rightly preserved in our translation. God the Father has particularly and eminently the name of God given him, in the Scripture style, because he was first made known to the world, and because God the Son and God the Holy Ghost (though one God with the Father) are yet represented as submitting to inferior offices, and to be sent by the Father: and one of them is his Son, and the other his Spirit, referred to him, as being the first in the Godhead, and fountain of both the other.
The following words, " the communion of the Holy “Ghost,” in the usual form, is the fellowship of the Holy Ghost : in which there is no more difference, than the putting one English word for another. Fellowship is the old word, and more properly English, the word communion being borrowed from the Latin. Our Liturgy being older than the present English translation of the New Testament, keeps the old word fellowship, which the people had been used to in the daily service. But communion being thought the handsomer expression of the two, after fellowship became vulgar, it was chosen rather than the other.
The Amen at the end of this text has been thought not to be St. Paul's, but to have been added by the Church of Corinth; it having been customary for them to say Amen after the reading of this epistle to them. This conjecture is founded upon the Amen's being wanting in some ancient copies : but since a much greater number of copies have it, the conjecture goes upon very
slight grounds. And this is all I thought necessary to be said, in relation to the words of the text. I now proceed to the matter. My design is to treat of the nature, distinction, union, and offices of the three Divine Persons herein mentioned: not in the dry controversial way, which I think not proper for popular discourses, but in such a way as may be sufficient to give every common hearer a good notion of what I am talking about, and may be useful to him, in respect both of his faith and practice.
In the text, we find first grace, as coming from God the Son; then love, as from God the Father; and lastly, communion, as being of the Holy Ghost.
What these three things mean, I shall show, when I come to speak of their distinct offices.
The method I intend is this.
1. To treat of the nature, distinction, union, and offices of the three Divine Persons. And,
II. To intimate the use and importance of these great articles of our Christian faith.
I. I am first to treat of the nature, distinction, union, and offices of the three Divine Persons.
1. In the first place, it is proper to say something of the nature of each Person, that you may the better conceive what kind of Persons they are.
The first and most general distinction of all things that are, is into two kinds, created and uncreated. The nature of a creature is this, that it comes into being by the order, will, and pleasure of another, and may cease to be whenever the Creator pleases. Of this kind are the sun, moon, stars, men, angels, and archangels: they are all of a frail, changeable nature; they might cease to be, and sink into nothing, as from nothing they came, were they not supported by a superior hand. Only the three Divine Persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, they can never fail or cease: they always were, and always will be; their property is always to exist from everlasting to everlasting, without the help or support of any thing else whatever, being indeed the stay and support of the whole
creation, of the whole bulk and mass of beings. Our
To conceive then rightly of the three Divine Persons,
said to send, the Son to be sent, and the Holy Ghost to proceed, or go forth. The Father is represented as one witness, and the Son as another witness: the Son as one comforter, the Holy Ghost as another comforter, not both one comforter. The Father is introduced as speaking to the Son, and the Son as speaking to the Father, and the Holy Ghost as delivering commands from both. These and a multitude of other particulars plainly prove their distinction one from another; which being analogous to, and nearly resembling the distinction of persons among men, or angels, or other rational creatures, we therefore presume to call it a personal distinction, and to call the three, three Persons.
3. But as there is a distinction amongst them, there is also an union, a very close and unexpressible union, among the Divine Three. And though Scripture every where represents these three Persons as Divine, and every one singly God and Lord; yet the same Scriptures do as constantly teach that there is but one God and one Lord. From whence it evidently follows, that these three are one God and one Lord. And if such an imperfect union as that of husband and wife be reason sufficient to make them twain to be one flesh; and if the union of a good man to Christ shall suffice to make them in a certain sense one spirita, how much more shall the incomparably closer and infinitely higher union of the three Divine Persons one with another, be sufficient to denominate them one God, or one Lord! There is no other union like it, or second to it; an union of will, presence, power, glory, and all perfections : an union so inseparable and unalterable, that no one of the Persons ever was or ever could be without the other two; it being as necessary for the three to be, and to act together, as to be at all ; which is the perfection of unity, and the strongest conjunction possible.
Our blessed Lord therefore intimates, that he and the
a 1 Cor. vi. 17.
Father are one : and they are represented by St. John in his Revelations, as being one templeb, and as having but one throne , and making but one light.
The Holy Ghost likewise is represented as being one with the Father, as much as the soul of man is one with the man whose soul it is d. And they are all three together said to be one; “these three are one," which though a disputed text, is yet not without very many and very considerable appearances of being truly genuine. The doctrine however is certain from many other places of Scripture, whatever becomes of that text; and the unity of three Persons in one Godhead sufficiently revealed, as well as their distinction. Neither is there any difficulty in admitting that three things may be three and one in different respects; distinct enough to be three, and yet united enough to be one; distinct without division, united without confusion. These therefore together are the one Lord God of the Christians, whom we worship, and into whom we have been baptized.
I proceed now, after considering what the Divine Persons are in themselves, to observe also what their offices are, relative to us. We are taught in our common and excellent Church Catechism, taken from Scripture, to believe in God the Father who made us, in God the Son who redeemed us, and in God the Holy Ghost who hath sanctified us. So that the peculiar offices of the three Divine Persons are, to create, redeem, and sanctify. To the Father it peculiarly belongs to create, to the Son to redeem, to the Holy Ghost to sanctify. The Father is God the Creator, the Son is God the Redeemer, the Holy Ghost is God the Sanctifier. Which is not to be so understood, as if neither the Son nor Holy Ghost were concerned in creating ; nor as if neither the Father nor Holy Ghost were concerned in redeeming ; nor as if neither Father nor Son were concerned in sanctifying. All the three Persons concur in every work; all the three toge
b Rev, xxi. 22.
el John v. 7.
c Rev. xxii. 1. di Cor. ii. 11.