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In answer to the charge of making in our views of the Trinity three co-ordinate Gods, we must be content to go no further than the scriptures have given authority. In tracing the scriptures, from Genesis to the Revelations, inclusive, we find Father to be first of the “ three which bear record in heaven;" He is the Majesty on High, the Holy One; Father is frequently used as the whole Godhead. Says Mr. Wesley, Holy and Holiness mean the same as God, and God-head. The scriptures abundantly speak of the Holiness and glory of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost. And hereby is the mystery of the Holy Trinity eminently confirmed. Holiness is often styled glory; often his Holiness and Glory are celebrated together, for holiness is covered glory, and glory is uncovered holiness." The Angelic doxology is always, “Holy, holy, holy," three times repeated, and is a solemn, confirmatory enumeration.
The very name Father, imports and confirms the idea of the first person of the God-head, and must bear with weight upon every unprejudiced and christian mind, under all the gospel, and doctrinal uses of the appellation. If confidence is to be placed on the internal evidences of scripture; and if also, we may rely on the greatest historians, and on men of the deepest wisdom and piety, as witnesses for the verity and steadfastness of the churches in the three first centuries of christianity, in maintaining the ground; we may assuredly say that the Father sustains the first office in the Trinity, and is the first which “bears record in heaven." We think some important consequences result from considering the divine person Father is neither of the persons of the Trinity sent.
We have heretofore made some remarks on some of our Lord's expressions, We shall only add, we understand the Father in the works of the God-head, fills the first office, and this is perfectly consistent in the relation, and most perfectly belongs to him. Our Lord's saying “My Father is greater than I," confirms it, and must have reference to the station or office the Father fills in this relation. When he saith " what he seeth the Father do, that doth the Son,” must have respect to the dignity and glory or holiness of the nature of the Son, which was nothing inferior to the Father's. He might then say with striking propriety, that all men should honour the Son as they honour the Father. And for additional reasons there is great propriety in it. Because the Father had committed all judgment to the Son. The Son possessed the God-head as fully and inherently in himself as the Father. And if we do not honour the Son, we do not honour the Father, for very plain reasons; we rob the Father of theglory which is justly due to his paternity, or fathership, and we dishonour the Father as to his love in the gift of his Son to man for their redemption, and it is pouring contempt on the Father's authority in sending the Son into the world. All this is very plainly evidenced by our Lord's observations to his disciples; “ He that despiseth you, despiseth me; and he that despiseth me, despiseth him that sent me.”
In candidly weighing all these points, in the balance of reason and in the light of scripture testimony, we may see a most perfect union and harmony in our Lord's declarations to the Jews, conecrning himself and his Father, as to the dignity and glory of their character, and the station
or offices they sustain in the works of creation and redemption. And these points were of the highest importance to the Jews, as well as to the succeeding generations in every age of the world. If we do not mistake, this is the ground, and the only ground which the christians endeavoured to maintain in the three first centuries, against every sect of their opposers, Deists,Polytheists, Tritheists, Ditheists, and Arians, and those who held in that day the doctrines of Sabellius, and the doctrines afterwards embraced by Socinius.
The doctrine of the Trinity is so very important in our view, that it is not in man to discern how any other plan could have been laid for man's salvation without it. Vary the plan, or constructively alter, one jot or tittle, and we have not from human speculation, been able to perceive a character in the universe, who could consistently become surety for man; or that could be made under the law, broken by man, and at the same time could be able to offer himself, and become an infinite sacrifice and oblation for sin. Where is the infinite merit and ransom ? unless the Father and Son are equal in point of nature, dignity, glory, and attributes ; unless the divine nature of Christ, under the law, is the Son, and“ heir of all things," in the eternal counsel and act of the God-head.
If the Father does not sustain the first station or office in the Trinity, and if there is not a proper Father and proper Son in perfect Unity in the Trinity, we are confounded and dismayed, and know not which way to turn, or look for salvation; and, unless taught of God, we can discover nothing but chaos and ruin, and we have no other revelation. And it is hoped every discriminating and charitable Socinian and Arian, will perceive
and acknowledge in evident difference betweent our plan, and tritheism, or in ather words three co-ordinate and separate Gods. At any lay, we attach very different ideas to our theory. Indeed we perceive not only a decided difference, but a manifest propriety, and harmony, in the phraseology of the gospel, that the Father in the relation of the works of the God-head, should be first in his relation to the other subsistences, in his paternity, and the first who“ bears record in heave
That we should find many passages of the Bible speaking of the Father in this light, and that in the divine baptismal sacrament, the Father should be placed first, appears to us as it should be. And it appears to us a no less plain and desirable revelation, that our Lord should speak of the Father, in a sense having a manifest reference to, and comprehending the whole God-head, “I am in the Father and the Father in me;" and that the Holy Ghost, the third person who beareth record, should be comprehended in the Divine nature, is as conclusively manifest.
The order, in which they are placed in the gospel in the relation of sending and sent; the order, and number, and oneness in the God-head; the order, number, and fellowship in the work; the order, number and oneness in angelic and christian worship, and in which they bear record in heaven ; and the agreement in number with those who bear witness in earth, and which “ agree in one,” and which are elegantly and harmoniously subservient to the three persons testifying in heaven ; and the whole unity, and general current of scripture, explaining and proclaiming the plan ; are striking and illustrative coincidences, which must have a favoring influence upon every sensible. mind, and christian temper. Superadded to all this, the authority of the Fathers in the first centuries, and as well as the leaders of the reformation, who have always been careful, and anxiously assiduous in placing the trinitarian doctrine in the most plain point of light; and the whole, crowned as it is by the co-operation and the unity and communion of experimental christianity working upon the faith; are strong corroborative testimony, which if mistaken, would be passing strange. All these, in heaven and in earth bear the same unerring testimony, that the Son of God is divine, is the God of all grace. They testify of Him, in his state of humiliation on earth, and of his state of exaltation and glory. All power, all things and beings made and sustained, all beings redeemed and sanctified, are of the Godhead, and not by any thing different from the mind of the God-head. Who can make, or bring man to be the image of God, but a God?
There is not the least discrepancy in the testimony of Christ's being the Son of God, in his divine nature. The whole tenor of revelation attests the fact. The Father, the Son or Word, and the Holy Ghost, in solemn enumeration, bear record in heaven, and they each testify to the fact on earth also. And “ these three are one;" one in essence, in knowledge, in will, and in their testimony. The God-head testifies of it. The angels testify of his glory and exaltation, and in all the solemnity of their doxology perpetuate it. John the Baptist, testified of his exaltation, and humiliation, and so do the apostles. This testimony we have thought was perfect. The Holy God, the Majesty on High, the God of all grace, and ihe God of all truth, hath testified of it: "?