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mediate spiritual communion of inward joy with God is a possibility no longer. The vision of God in any way is a historic fact alone. It is a record in certain documents. It is an antiquity which scholarship has transported to us over the tide of thousands of years. So the Protestants will tell us. The Romanists in turn declare, it is a limited fund, of which this great corporation of theirs in the Church is exclusive trustee. Although the immediate vision, where that is possible, may be of unity, yet for common men, for the mass of men, it is pronounced impossible. We are dependent on a medium; and that dogmatic, ecclesiastic medium certainly teaches a trinity. Nay, in man's inability to realize unity, the trinity is a device of mercy to give him a practical understanding of God.
It has come to this, then, has it? to this pass, our miserable polemics, as the result of ages of argument, have brought us, that we can have no direct feeling of God! Mankind, his own children, can have no feeling of their Father! The human soul, his offspring, cannot lean on his bosom and be sensible of the love and wisdom of which it was begotten and born! Paul was not right when he said, that in him we live, and move, and have our being. The Inspirer is gone. Inspiration is dead and buried. About forty men in all, since the foundation of the world, have been inspired, - to speak and write the Bible, — but of others none! Nay, —
– knowing God in my own breast, beholding others around me that thus know him in his essence and unity, and reading in the Bible countless affirmations of our power to apprehend the one infinite reality, — while every moral creature of necessity affirms and takes this power for granted in every word and act and inward motion of prayer, - I will not deign to stoop from the height and clearness of such knowledge, to refute the contrary assumption. It is absurd, irrational, and on the face of it self-refuted.
Besides, observe to what wretched consequence it leads, of shutting us up in unavoidable illusion! If John saw that
One, without distinction of persons, was on the throne, such at any rate must be the fact in this case of divinity, as Trinitarians themselves must admit, whether we can see it to be the fact or not. If, on account of our weakness and sin, we must see the Divinity threefold, then all is, we must see it as it is not in fact. We must see double, as we say, or treble, as a jaundiced, distorted eye does, when there is but a single object. If God is revealed as threefold, he is revealed as he is not in fact, that is, he is revealed untruly, in accommodation to the weak and guilty human mind. Many theologians boldly take this ground, that we cannot see God as he is, but only under some disguise or false appearance, as we see the sun through a cloud or piece of smoked glass, or as a mock-sun is painted in faint watery reflection and repetition through the mist on the horizon of the earth.
To this I put but one question in reply. Is such a lying communication to be ascribed to the Source of all mercy and truth? No! otherwise indeed he communicates the truth of the unity in which he sits on his throne ! Throne, as you know, in the symbolism of the Scriptures, means supremacy. Here, then, in one text, we have the two ideas of supremacy and unity as constituting the Di. vine nature. Indeed, the Trinity of three equal persons, first, second, and third, in the Godhead, is self-contradictory. The second person cannot be equal to the first. In the very order assumed for it of being second and secon. dary, it is of course inferior and derived. That there are three great names, heavenly offices and influences, reason admits as freely as Scripture declares. But the co-equally personal Trinity of the creeds, in any statement of it ever made, thus, like a shell with an explosive mixture inside, is blown to atoms on the way by what itself contains. The second cannot be the causative, commencing, and creating force, but must itself be dependent thereon. In truth both learning and genius are well aware that the Trinity is not an
original inspiration of the soul, or teaching of any divine prophet, or belief of the first centuries of our religion, but the ecclesiastical invention and prudential metaphysical . construction of a later age.
But to any one who disputes these points, and also denies the immediate vision which patriarchs and prophets, Psalmist and Apostle, affirm, and every holy soul has had, to any one who sees no sense in Christ's own declaration, that “the pure in heart shall see God," — I shall reply, furthermore, that the vision of him through any true medium or mediator is the vision of his unity still. It is only when the medium or mediator is allowed to become a substitute for the object which its only business is to disclose, that any doubleness in our conception is introduced. If we choose to make the medium or mediator another deity equal with the original one whom it but proposes to show, then we have two gods, three gods, as many gods as there are mediums or mediators; and we may worship, as Romanists and Romanizing people do, the Child and the Virgin, the Host and the saints. But we can do it only by violating, and just in proportion as we violate, not only the soul's immediate relation to God, but also the very office for which a medium or mediator exists. What is that office? Never to be itself a finality! Not to be opaque at all, or ever to stand distinctly between to stop our vision ! It self-destructively would lose and abolish thus its one quality, which is simply to manifest what is beyond itself. This, according to its truth or perfection, it always does.
Do you query as to this position? I need only refer to familiar earthly illustrations to prove it. Glass is an ordinary material medium. But two persons on an evening walk through a neighboring street see in the entry of a dwellinghouse a light burn so clear, they cannot decide whether there be any glass betwixt it and their eyes. The glass, like a good medium, indeed, makes nothing of itself, and disappears. I
saw a diamond, glued to the under side of the top of a jewel. ler's case, yet through the transparent partition shining so clear, that a thief, passing by, might be tempted to try to seize it, it so manifestly seemed to be on the outside. The medium did its work so completely as utterly to vanish away. Air is a medium. I stood some years ago, in Switzerland, on the Wengern Alp, and gazed over at the Jungfrau, looking like the snowy vertex of the sky, being nearly three miles above the level of the sea. Its distance from me seemed horizontally but an arrow's fight, though it was ten miles off, so fine and modest a medium the clear air was to make the mountain known. I walked in a hollow of some hills, after a snow-patch, to which I imagined a few steps would fetch me, to quench the thirst occasioned by a very long and laborious ascent; but, after I had discovered and begun to seek it with a half-hour's fatiguing jaunt, the snow-patch still kept me at bay with its far-off glittering crystals of frost, so spotless was the medium of the atmosphere through which it was beheld.
When, too, the medium is one of organized life, we have evidence to the same result. The face of a man is the medium of his soul. But when, by the working of a noble soul, it has been wrought and transformed into a faultless medium, we do not much peruse the separate features, — face, forehead, and mouth, - or dwell on the fleshly substance and shape; but, through all that is external and material, the inner power, thought, and love of our admired and endeared ones pass into our own bosoms. This explains the fact, that intimate lovers and kindred cannot, even so well as comparative strangers to them may, describe each other's physical characteristics. Two warm friends of a man once disputed, and were unable to decide, on a matter so obvious as the color of his eyes. It was, of course, because his eyes, faithful mediums, as God meant they should be, had done nothing for his friends but to convey his heart and mind. What did it matter whether they were blue or gray or black ? We speak of the qualities of a voice, - of a sweet, rich, loud, mellow
voice. I hope it is not in poor taste or a heresy to say so; but it is a bad voice that draws attention to itself, though its tones were as delicious ear-drink as can come from an organ or Æolian harp. The best voice is that which most disappears and is consumed in its meaning, and which you cannot remember or even hear in any separate sound, save as a pure and perfect medium of the sentiment or idea it would express.
So of all mediums. The imperfection of the medium is what the so-called school of Spiritualists at the present day complain of, in the communications from the unseen land they profess to receive.
So of the great and truly perfect Mediator between God and man.
The office, the glory, of Jesus Christ is not to be part of a Trinity, second person in a Godhead, but to be a medium to show God himself, to bring him near, to break down all walls that had intervened, never by any means to make or be a new wall, and no wise to eclipse the Almighty Friend with his own personality, but just to let the absolute Being and Glory, in its own wonderful unity, through In one word, the Mediator discharges and fulfils his work when he sinks from sight and draws us into immediate view of our God and Father, such as elevated and blessed the inspired penman of our text. So then we end where, in this discouse, we began. Mediate knowledge of God concludes in immediate, and both in unity.
We may doubtless properly consider Jesus Christ, in his own life and character, as an individual being by himself; but in his capacity as Mediator, that is, his highest capacity, his charm, his beauty, his excellency is, by whatever he does and says, to acquaint us with Him that sent him. So of all things which are mediums or mediations to us of the Divine. As the sweet singer, Herbert, tells us,