« VorigeDoorgaan »
place of God. So far as it is a malicious offence against light, it is an immediate insult upon God, who is light, and who, in the office of our illumination, affording us a plentiful and irresistible light by such wisdom as none but he could utter, and such miracles as none but he could work, is, at one and the same time, acknowledged by the conviction of conscience, and blasphemed by the pride and malice of the tongue. You cannot but be sensible, this aggravation of the sin derives its very essence from this consideration, that God is the immediate object of it; for no creature could give that miraculous evidence, which is thereby resisted and-despised. And so far as this sin sets the devil in the place of God, it carries with it a degree of wickedness peculiar to itself, and far exceeding the heinousness of all other sins. But this is not all; while it gives the honour of God's most holy truths, revealed for the reformation of mankind, and of his glorious miracles, wrought for their relief and cure, to the devil, it ascribes to God the infamy of an opposition to so good a work, and consequently puts him in the place of the devil. The inconceivable blackness of this blasphemy, we see, consists in calling him, who performed the miracles, that is, the Spirit of God, a devil. Now, suppose bim but a creature, and the sin, you perceive, immediately discharged of all its diabolical rebellion and presumption, dwindles to the size of other sins. Were it possible to commit a sin of the same nature against the Father, or the Son, I confess it would be equally unpardonable ; because each is God. But, considering the part the Holy Ghost had to act, which was to dictate the doctrines of our religion, to work the miracles in evidence of those doctrines, and inwardly urge the force of the one, and the excellency of the other, both on the understanding and heart, it seems impossible the divinity could be equally vilified by any resistance given to the person of the Father, or the Son, who throughout the whole dispensation, whenever the minds of men were to be wrought on, acted by the intervention of the Holy Spirit. To him therefore, directly, immediately, was this blasphemous insult offered, which could not be offered to any other, and that by men, who either knew him, or by our Saviour's supposition, had sufficient reason for knowing him, to be God.
Far be it from me to say, that any man, at this distance of time from what was then done, either is, or can be, guilty of this horrible sin. But this I will be bold to say, that a very high degree of pride, of self-sufficiency, and of presumption, in resisting the evidences of divine truth, which the Spirit of God still affords, partakes in the nature of that sin, and approaches nearer to its utmost guilt, in proportion to the measure of those infernal qualities, as well as to the degrees of sense and knowledge, wherewith they happen to be accompanied. This may be truly said of every attack on the truths conveyed to us in those sacred writings whereof the Holy Spirit is author, but of none more truly, of none so immediately, as of those made on the divinity of his person, and the efficacy, I should rather say, the reality, of his grace. That presumption at large is the worst disposition the heart of man can be cursed with, we may learn of David : 'Keep back thy servant,' says that royal prophet, ' from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me: then shall I be upright, then shall I be innocent from the great transgression :' Psal. xix. 13, for which no sacrifice was allowed in the law. But of all kinds or degrees of presumption, there is none so horrible in itself, or so pernicious in its effects, as that species of presumption, which will not suffer God to speak for himself, nor call himself God; but sets up to prompt him with its own detestable conceits. That in what I have this day delivered, I have not incurred the guilt of this frightful crime, I can honestly and confidently appeal to my own heart; and the Scriptures I have quoted will, I hope, satisfy those who hear me, that I have not laboured the point without reason. As to what our adversaries will be able to offer to God, or their own consciences, in justification of their dealings with his word, let them look to it. But I yet can see no other fruits of what they have done, than a growing contempt for the authority of the Scriptures, and a proportionable indifference to their blessed author.
May God, of his infinite goodness, be pleased, by his divine grace, notwithstanding the contempt in which it is held by many, to remedy this greatest of evils, for the sake of Christ Jesus, our blessed Saviour! Amen.
Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty
unto perfection? Having formerly proved, that there is but one God, and that no new God can be produced by adoption, by genera. tion, by creation, or delegation; and having also proved, that Christ and the Holy Ghost are each of them, that one God; what now is left to be done by us as Christians, but to believe what God bath told us concerning himself? Is there any room left for our own speculations on the awful subject of the Trinity ? God alone knows himself; and we neither know, nor can know, any thing of him, but what he hath been pleased to reveal. No man knows the Father, but the Son; nor can any man impart to us that share of this knowledge we are capable of, but the Son. Hear his own words, Matt. xi. 27, 'No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him. He must be infinite, who perfectly knows the Infinite. Christ alone is equal to this. “As the Father knoweth me, even so know I the Father,' John x. 15. For this reason he saith, John xvii. 25, · O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee.' Well therefore might Zophar say to Job, in the words of my text, ' Canst thou by searching find out God? Canst thou find out the Almighty unto perfection? It is as high as heaven ; what canst thou do? deeper than hell; what canst thou know? The measure thereof is longer than the earth, and broader than the sea.' · From hence a reasonable, a modest, a pious, man would conclude that God is incomprehensible to our minds; and that we cannot go a hair's breadth farther in the knowledge of him, than he is pleased to lead us by the light of reve
lation. Yet, unhappily, the mind of man, proud, petulant, and distempered, even to madness, with its own conceit, is for going farther, and putting its counter-questions to those of Zophar. “How can these things be? How can it be true, that there is but one God, and yet true, that the Father is God, the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost God? O infinitely incomprehensible and awful Being! impute it not to us for a crime, if we presume“ to answer these men according to their folly.' He, who asks such questions, asks them not of men, but of God; and if he believes the Scriptures to be the word of God, is impious; if he does not, he hath no right to be answered under this head of inquiry, but must be sent back to this other question, Are the Scrip
tures the word of God? If God, as I have clearly proved to · every Christian, hath affirmed the doctrine of the Trinity,
then he, who demands a reason for the consistency or truth of that doctrine, demands it of God; and will not believe it though God says it, till God shall give him a reason; whereas, sure I am, it is reason sufficient, that God hath said it. And that he hath often, in the strongest terms, said it, I have sufficiently shewn in the four preceding discourses; so that I insist, if these men are still to debate the point, it must be with God. If they have presumption enough for this undertaking (and what is it they cannot presume to do?). Let them bring forth their strong reasons,' and God shall answer them out of the whirlwind; Who are these that darken counsel by words without knowledge.' and will send them to his works, to try the strength and stretch of their talents on them, before he admits them to a speculation on himself,
But if we must engage in this impious controversy, let those answer for it, that drag us into it; for we cannot be silent when the honour of our Redeemer and Comforter is called in question.
Have the Sabellians, the Macedonians, the Arians, the Semi-arians, found out a middle point of inquiry between these two, Whether the Scriptures are the word of God, and whether the doctrine of the Trinity, as set forth in the Athanasian creed, is a true doctrine? For my part, I think it impossible. If the Scriptures were dictated by God himself, this doctrine must be true; for those Scriptures, as I have
fully shewn, set it forth in clear and strong terms ; nay, in such a multitude and variety of terms, as leaves no other possible way of evading the doctrine, but by denying the Scriptures.
But our Anti-trinitarian adversaries think they have found out a middle question, which is this, Whether the Scriptures alleged for this doctrine are rightly understood and applied by us who hold it. Let the Scriptures speak for themselves, in God's name. I have cited them as naked and free from commentaries of my own, as the necessity of shewing why I cited them would permit. The truth is, I think they need none; nor should we ever attempt to give them any, had we not the mortification to see them handled by our adversaries with a freedom so disingenuous, and even contemptuous, that we should ill answer for our charge of so sacred a deposit, did we not endeavour to clear it of the false colours, wherewith they labour to daub it.
The Sabellians allowed the divinity, but denied the personality, of the Son, and the Holy Ghost. The Arians and Semi-arians allowed their personality, but denied their divinity, as the Macedonians did that of the Holy Ghost in particular. Of our modern Anti-trinitarians, some side with the Arians, some with the Semi-arians; but the greater number of them are Socinians, who utterly deny the divinity of Christ, and either join with the Sabellians in sinking the personality of the Holy Ghost, or with the Macedonians in denying his divinity; which latter proceeding seems at present to prevail ; though the former was that which their leaders generally leaned most to. They all in common hold a Trinity, and give the name, style, and worship of God, to the Son and to the Holy Ghost; but deny that either of them is truly and really God, insisting that either is God only by the appointment of the one true God. Hence the amazing distinctions of self-existent, self-originated, eternal,' God, in opposition to those supposed created and delegated gods. Most astonishing! have we more gods than one? Have we one self-existent, and two other derivative gods? Gods dependant on one another for their very being ? Have we one eternal, and two new or temporary gods? And is this horrible system of Polytheism to be fathered on the Scriptures ? No, no; it is derived from the enormous pre