« AnteriorContinuar »
Trinity in uinity; nor to the intimations of it in the Old Testatnent (one of which is alledged by our Lord, Matt. xxii. 45.) nor to the clearer manifestations of it in the New. And this great truth men were from the first prepared to receive, by the har. monious system of the visible world, proclaiming one Maker and Governor of all; and it was afterwards; as it were visibly con firmed to the Jews by their miraculouis deliverance from Egypt, and the victory of the true God over all the gods of Egypt.
Ju the second discourse the same gradual and progressive manner of instruction, which had obtained under the Law, is traced under the Gospel. Here what was first of all necessary was the reception of the Gospel Covenant ; in order to which it was to be proved, by the fulfilment of foregoing prophecies and by great signs and wonders, that the Messenger of this Covenant was the great Prophet, Priest, and King, who bad been foretold, of the seed of Abraham and of the house and lineage of David. The character therefore, in which our blessed Saviour was first to appear, was that of “ the Son of Man." As such he was born of human nature ; exhibited a perfect pattern of righteousness; and, as the second Adam, reversed, by his meritorious death, ilie fall of the tirst Adain and all its fatal consequences. Hence the three earliest Gospels and the common lenor of our Lord's own doctrine concerning himself related chiefly and directly to the evidence of his being the Messiah, the great Prophet that was to come into the world; but with occasional intimations, some furnished by facts (as his miraculous conception, and the attestation from heaven at his baptism) and some by his numerous declaratious concerning himself, that he had higher pretensions, and that his nature was indeed elernal and divine.
And here it was very justly observed, that these intimations
possess a much greater degree of evidence than may at first be imagined.” Consider the jealousy, with which the Almighty ever watched over the honour of his name: consider the even superstitious veneration, with which that name was hallowed by the Jews; and consider the perfect pattern of piety and humility exhibited by our Lord, together with his anxious care not to give needless offence; consider these things, and it must be regarded as impossible, that, under such circumstances, he could ever apparently pretend to an equality with God, unless such equality were true and meant to be claimed by him. “ We may conclude therefore, that the evidence of all less direct and ex. plicit circumstances and declarations is little, if at all, less than a full and decisive proof of the Saviour's divinity.”
We have always considered this as a most clear and convincing argument, sufficient of itself to satisfy the scrupulous enquiret,
and to confound the most pertinacious objector. It is level 10 the comprehension of the most unlettered understanding, and will bear the scrutiny of the most vigorous and best cultivated intellect. Neither Moses, nor Elijah, uor David, nor any of the prophets were ever suspected of being more than men. There is not a sentence or syllable in all their bistory, whereon to raise a doubt whether they were men, highly indeed favoured of God, but, in all other respects, of like passions aud infirmities with vurselves. Now had the blessed Jesus, the meek and lowly Son of Man, been merely of the race of prophets, how much soever he might surpass all that came before him, in the dignity of his commission, in the multitude and splendor of his miracles, or in other adventitious circumstances, yet if he was simply of human birth, a prophet and nothing more than a prophet, to suppose that instead of speaking of himself as he does repeatedly, as, in its proper signification, the Son of God; to suppose that, instead of claiming to himself, or allowing others to attribute to him, an equality with God, he would not have rejected with ivdignation these groundless honours, we must believe him, instead of being one who sought not his own glory, instead of be. ing meek and lowly in beart, to have been, in truth, a monstrous example not only of arrogance, but of imposture and blasphemy.
Nothing in the shape of argument can convince the unsubdued pride and prejudice of an evil heart of unbelief. Humility and repentance are, in such sad cases, first of all necessary; and where these are wanting, the argument may indeed be evaded or resisted; but to refute or answer it, is, we are persuaded, absolutely impossible. We, therefore, thank the worthy Author of these discourses for bringing forward this topic, which is not, in general, so much insisted on as it deserves.
The same principle of utility to man, leading to a reserva.tion of some sacred truths till the full and clear manifestation of them might be a “ light to our feet,” is applied in the third discourse, which treats of the Holy Spirit; and it is observed, that
“ We must, consequently, expect to find the third person in the glorious Trinity represented, in the more ancient Scriptures, according to the conception which men ordinarily frame of him, from the term by which he is denominated, the Spirit of God.” P. 39.
Accordingly, in oue or other of the two general acceptations of this word, Spirit, in the original language, that is, breath and soul or mind, we read first of the Spirit of God moving upon the face of the waters, in order to the creation of this world; of his striving with man to prolong his existence; of his being sent forth that the living creatures might be made, and the face of the earth renewed; and of his informing the spirit of man with knowledge, and with a disposition to act according to the purpose and will of God. To go beyond this common apprehension on the subject appears to be as little wise, as it is necessary; since all which that revelation seems to have been intended to communicate, or was then useful for man to learn, was, that he must ascribe his being and all his faculties to God alone, and acknowledge hiin, in opposition to idols and false gods.
The personality, therefore, of the Holy Spirit, was an article of faith reserved till the times of the Gospel Dispensation. And as the Divinity of the Blessed Saviour of mankind did not even then attain its clearest and fullest manifestation, till after that He was declared to be the Son of God with power by his resurrection from the dead; so we must expect a similar method also in the manifestation of this great article of faith. Hence we are led to look for the most express declarations concerning it towards the end of the Gospels, and in the portions of Scripture that succeeded them. Accordingly we tind this article of faith displayed, when the fittest occasion arrived for bringing it to light; when our blessed Lord, before his sufferings, consoled his afflicted dis. ciples, as St. John relates, with the promise, that his absence should be compensated by another Comforter, the Spirit of Truth, who should abide with them for ever, and guide them into all truth.
In these promises and declarations, several of which are here alledged, it is evident, that
« On a subject above our conceptions, and in its own nature Mhcomprehensible, the Saviour himself hath used language, the plain import of which gives us to understand, that the Holy Spirit of God, however in former times he might have been spoken of as a mere energy or influence of the Deity, is a person like himself, ' who should descend from heaven to supply his place, and abide for ever on earth, to act a gracious part in establishing the cove, nant of the Gospel.” P. 43.
After what manner the blessed Spirit proceeds from the Father, or from the Son, and how He who is said to be the Word, is the Son of God, the only begotten of the Father, we do not know nor enquire. But
“ We use these terms in our creeds, because they are the terms of Scripture; and we understand them as only shadowing out, by a figure taken from human matters, relations which we believe to exist, but in a manner to us incomprehensible. P. 44.
On On the day of Pentecost the Lord and giver of life manis fested his promised descent with that awful pomp which peculiarly suited the character of his nature and his office. The “ rushing mighty wind," and the "cloven tongues, like as of tire," proclaimed the presence of that Spirit, who, as he had given breath to all, and was the author of knowledge and elo. quence, so now did he give wisdom and utterance to such as he thereafter informed and directed.” When St. Peter said to Ananias, “ Wliy haih Satan filled thine beart to lie to the Holy Ghost? Thon last not lied imto men, but unto God;" it is clearly implied, that the Holy Ghost was present, as a Person who could take cognizance of an offence committed against himself, a contempt of Him ulio then abode on earth, the Divine Ruler and Governor of the Church of Christ. As such, he said unto Peter, “ Behold, three men seek thee. Arise therefore, and go with them, doubting nothing; for I have sent them.” As such he said to the prophets and teachers at An. tioch,“ Separate me Barnabas and Saul, for the work whereunto I have called then).” And Paul exhorted the elders at Miletus to take heed unto themselves, and to all the flock, over which the Holy Ghost had made them overseers.
“ Thus does the sacred history, subsequent to the Gospels, con, firm the fact which the Divine Savicur had before revealed; that as a second person in the Gedhead had descended from heaven to make a covenant of immortal life with mankind, so, after his de, parture, a third should in like manner come down, to establish that covenant and administer it for ever."
It is pot easy to compress these Sermons, full of matter as they are in every page. In the sketch which we have given of them, after repeated per usals and much thought, we have en. deavoured to select such parts or passages, as may shew the scope of the argument; and, highly gratified as we have been with the admirable canduur as well as ingenuity of the learned author, we beg leave very earnestly to recommend the discourses to the attention of our readers; desiring them particularly to ob. serve the new light, in which a momentous subject that must have engaged the pious meditation and enquiry of every faithful servant of Christ from the day of the Ascension to ihis hour, is liere placed. It is true, it is a circumstance only in the sublime and heavenly theme ; but it is a circumstance of much interest. If on patiently weighing the author's arguments, and carefully pursuing his hints, it is found that his idea of the subject is correct and well founded, it will furnish a ready solution of many minor difficulties, and atford a more clear, distinct,
and satisfactory view of this great branch of divine revelation, iban is elsewhere to be met with. At the same time another incontrovertible remark, which is here suggested, that the doc. trine of the Unity of the Divine Nature, or of one God, is, neither by the ancient Scripture nor by the new, set in opposition to the belief of three Persons in that nature, but solely in oppur sition to the “gods many and lords many" of an idolatrous world, removes at once and entirely the very foundation of mo,
dern intidelity, which has of late years so loudly and arrogantly, - decried * the established faith as opposite to the constant doctrine. of Scripture."
Still, however, the judicious enquirer will always distinguish between what is subordinate and what is essential. What is clearly taught or revealed in Holy Scripture, whether it be in Genesis or the Apocalypse, in a single passage or in every book of the sacred voluwe, is alike entitled to serious belief. If we were redeenied from sin, not by a creature, but by tie eternal Son of God, this consideration has a powerful tendency to confirm our faith, to enhance our gratitude, and promote our obedience. If the Holy Spirit, also eternal and divine, per. sonally abideth with us, and dwelleth in us, making our bodies his temple, the knowledge of this truth is a mighty consolation to all believers, a ground of hope, and call for vigilance ; for it is written, "if any man defile the temple of God, him shall God destroy." Ti Cor. iij. 17.).
We are too well aware ourselves of the strange errors of the press which occasionally creep into the text, to notice them in others. li if necessary however for the sense, to observe, that in p. 17. 1. 1. for “advocates" should be read adversaries."
ART. II. The Journal of a Mission to the Interior of Africa,
in the Year 1805. By Mungu Park: together with other Documents, official and private, relating to the same Mission. To which is prefixed, an Account of the Life of Mr. Park. 4to. Il. 11s. 6d. 8vo. 125. Murray. 1815.
IT is not less surprising than humbling to reflect how small a part of the globe is known even to the most enlightened of mo
* Printed by an error of the press, “ descried.”