« PoprzedniaDalej »
stand? But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared. Let Israel hope in the Lord ; for with the Lord there is mercy, and with him is plenteous redemption :" Ps. cxxx, 4. 7. “ It is of the Lord's mercies that we are not consumed, because his compassions fail not:" Lam. iii, 22. “ Have I any pleasure at all that the wicked should die ? saith the Lord God, and not that he should return from his ways and live?” Ezek. xviii, 23. “ Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon:" Isa. lv, 7.
Nothing can be conceived more tender and exquisite than the compassions of Jehovah. He follows his unworthy children in all their wanderings; he visits and revisits them with his Holy Spirit; he suffers their rebellion long; he pleads with them as a father; he says, “ How shall I give thee up, Ephraim ? How shall I deliver thee, Israel? How shall I make thee as Admah ? How shall I set thee as Zeboim ? Mine heart is turned within me; my repentings are kindled together :" Hosea si, 8. The prodigal son, humbled under the miserable consequences of his dissolute life, returns with a penitent heart to his paternal home. His father beholds him while yet he is a great way off-runs towards him-falls on his neck and kisses him--puts on bim his best robe--kills the fatted calf for his entertainment-and fondly rejoices over him, because he “ was dead, and is alive again, was lost, and is found :" Luke xv.
But it is in the scheme of redemption, as revealed to mankind in the Gospel of Jesus Christ—in that wonderful truth, that the Father gave the Son to be the Sacrifice for sin, and the Saviour of Sinners—that the mercy of God towards his corrupted and degraded children is displayed in all its brightness, and in all its consistency with the holiness of his nature. “ God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us:" Rom. v, 8. 6. But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ :” Eph. ii, 4, 5. • Herein is love; not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins :"' 1 John iv, 10. When we contemplate this amazing scene, and are humbled in the view of it; when we hear the Spirit say, Come, and the bride say, Come, and, in compliance with the invitation, draw near to the “ fountain opened for sin and for uncleanness ;” when we wash our robes, and make them white in the blood of the
Lamb, and “take the water of life freely;"—then are we prepared to confess of a truth the perfect holiness of Jehovah-then also can we enter into the strength and spirit of the apostle's declaration, that " GOD IS LOVE:" 1 John iv, 16.
VI. Lastly, let it be observed, that God is true and faithful. 6. The word of the Lord is right, and all his works are done in truth :" Ps. xxxiii, 4. • The works of his hands are verity and judgment--all his commandments are sure
re; they stand fast for ever and ever; and are done in truth and uprightness :" Ps. cxi, 7, 8. The truth, no less than the mercy, of God, called forth the praises of his inspired servants. " I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy loving-kindness, and for thy truth; for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name: Ps. cxxxviii, 2. 66 The Lord is good ; his mercy is everlasting, and his truth endureth to all generations:" Ps. C, 5. “ Also the strength of Israel will not lie:" 1 Sam. xv, 29. “If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful; he cannot deny himself:” 2 Tim. ii, 13. The divine quality so plainly declared in these and numerous other passages of Holy Writ is of unutterable importance, because it affords a pledge of that eternal stability in the operation of all his other moral attributes, upon which his dependent creatures may place a perfect reliance. The word of the Lord is sure. His law is unalterable. His judgments are certain. His, promises cannot fail. Let the wicked tremble before him, in the certain assurance that his threats will be executedthat the day of his wrath will come in its season. Let the righteous rejoice, because they have a faithful Creator, to whom, with absolute security, they may commit the keeping of their souls, 1 Pet. iv, 19; because “ he which hath begun a good work in them, will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ,” Phil. i, 6; because they have an hope which tereth into that within the vail," as “ an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast," Hebrews vi, 19; because “ he is faithful that promised,” Heb. x, 23; because God, who " sent redemption unto his people, hath commanded his covenant for ever :" Ps. cxi, 9.
Such is a feeble sketch of the account presented to us in the Scriptures, of the nature and character of God. In the recollection of the principal features of our subject, we are once more to observe, that there is no other God but Jehovah ; that this one God is from eternity to eternity; that he gave existence to all other beings, and alone is the Creator of the heavens and the earth; that, in the work of creation, he displayed an absolute omnipotence and perfect wisdom; that he meni
fests the same attributes in the perpetual maintenance of the laws of nature; that he is the absolute sovereign of the universe, and orders the whole course of events by his providence; that he is invisible, yet omnipresent, filling his own works; that he is omniscient, penetrating the inmost recesses of the hearts of his children ; that he is absolutely holy, the Fountain of purity, abhorring sin, rejecting and condemning all iniquity; that he is just, conducting his moral government on a system of righteous retribution, in which it is well with the good, and ill with the wicked; that, in the application of this retributive system, he maintains a perfect equity : that he is good, abounding in benevolence towards all his sensible creatures, protecting the injured and oppressed, and, in an especial manner, extending his fostering care to those who fear and serve him ; that, although he leaves the impenitent sinner to suffer, yet he comforts and supports every contrite mourner, and overrules the afflictions of the righteous to their eternal advantage; that he is willing to forgive, and rich in mercy towards the whole degraded family of mankind; that, in the scheme of man's redemption, above all, it is made abundantly manifest, that GOD IS LOVE. Finally, that, in his truth and faithfulness, we have an unfailing warrant that his judgments will be executed, his mercies perfected, and all his promises found to be yea and amen for ever.
In retiring from the consideration of this awful subject, must we not exclaim with the Psalmist, “ When I consider the heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars which thou hast ordained, what is man that thou art mindful of him, and the son of man that thou visitest him !" Must we not be hunbled in the dust under a sense of the incomprehensible condescension of God, who is pleased to dwell in us, and to invite us, as a father, to dwell in Him? And ought we not to press with holy diligence after that better state of being, in which we shall know God, “ even as we are known”-in which we shall find eternity not too long for contemplating the attributes, performing the will, and declaring the praise, of JEHOVAH.
ON THE UNION AND DISTINCTION IN THE DIVINE NATURE.
THE contents of the preceding essay afford abundant evidence that the doctrine of the unity of God is not only explicitly declared by the inspired writers, but lies at the very
foundation of their system of religion, and pervades it in every part. Whether they were led to write of his power, his omniscience, and his wisdom, or to expatiate on his moral attributes, it never failed to be on the allowed and declared principle, that there is no other God but Jehovah, the Creator and Governor of all things, the only proper object of spiritual allegiance and adoration. While, however, this primary truth must ever be held sacred on the authority of the Holy Scriptures, it is on the same authority that we admit another doctrine,---namely, that, his revealed operations, and more especially in the appointment and application of the scheme of man's redemption, God has manifested himself to us as the FATHER, the son, and the HOLY SPIRIT.
In order to the elucidation of this subject--a subject which ought never to be approached without a feeling of profound humility and reverence--we may now advert to some of those scriptural declarations, from which we learn that the Father is God; that the Son is God; and that the Holy Spirit is God.
1. That the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who sent his only-begotten Son into the world, is God, is universally admitted by Christians; and, on the present occasion, nothing can be needful but to adduce two or three of those numerous texts of Scripture, in which he is at once distinguished as the Father, and described as the Deity. “Godsent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved :” John iii, 17. 66 God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord :" 1 Cor. i, 9. 66 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ :" 1 Pet. i, 3. Such and similar are the terms in which the sacred writers invariably express themselves respecting the Father of our Lord Jesus
Christ. Wherever, indeed, Jesus is described as the Son of God, there the Deity of the Father, as he is distinguished from the Son, is recognized and declared.
2. The divine nature and character of Jesus Christ, the Word or Son of God, will form the principal subject of a subsequent essay. In the mean time, therefore, we may confine ourselves, in reference to this interesting topic, to the citation of that comprehensive and emphatic declaration, in which, at the very commencement of his Gospel, the apostle John has adverted to the preexistence of the Messiah, and has attributed to him, at once, both the name and the works of Deity. “ In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him: and without his was not any thing made that was made. In him was life ; and the life was the light of men :" John i, 1–4.
3. With respect to the Holy Spirit, we must, in the first place, direct our attention to those passages of Scripture, in which he is described, not merely in his influence and operation, but in his personal character. Such was the point of view in which the Holy Spirit was held up to the attention of the earliest Christians by the Lord Jesus. 66 But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, HE* shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you :" John xiv, 26. 6 But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of Truth, which proceedeth from the Father, het shall testify of me:”
" It is expedient for you, that I go away ; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you ; but if I depart, I will send him unto you.
And when he* is come, he will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment:" John xvi, 7, 8. On another occasion, our Saviour made mention of the Holy Ghost, as of One against whom the sin of blasphemy could never be committed with impunity. “All manner of sin and blasphemy,” said he," shall be forgiven unto men ; but the blasphemy against the Holy Ghost shall not be forgiven unto men. And whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him ; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven him, neither in this world, neither in the world to come :" Matt. xii, 31, 32.
The very pointed allusions thus made by our Saviour to the