« PreviousContinue »
prehensibility of the doctrine is in the mode by which the Trinity exists. There is nothing incomprehensible in the doctrine as a simple proposition. Now all that we are required to believe is, that God does exist, three in one. We are not required to believe any thing about the mode of this. There is nothing revealed about the mode by which the Trinity exists; and as nothing is revealed about this mode, we are not asked to believe any thing in reference to it. All we are asked to believe is, that God does exist in this mode, and this we can just as easily understand as that man exists in Bi-unity, two in one, composed of soul and body. Now whether God does exist in this Tri-unity, is a matter of evidence which depends not on the comprehensibility or incomprehensibility of the doctrine, but on our belief or rejection of the word of God.
By this process of reasoning, I think that I have cut short all those, who may be disposed to deny the doctrine of the Trinity, from the stale objection of its incomprehensibility. And the reason why we have suffered persons to wrap themselves up in the mantle of their skepticism, is that they have been permitted to run away with the idea, that we required them to believe that which was incomprehensible, and then, with a mighty compliment to human reason, they have said, we cannot believe that which is incomprehensible, as if this had ever been asked of them. You may rest assured, my friends, that in relation to the mysteries of the Scripture, God will never let you off so easily, and with a compliment to your own pride. Every mystery in nature, every mystery in providence, every mystery in religion, is of course, in a certain sense, incomprehensible. If it were not so, it would not be mysterious. But what part of a mystery of nature, of providence, or of religion, is incomprehensible? Only that part of it which relates to the mode; never, never that which relates to the fact. And if any individual on the surface of the earth should be so lost to every principle of ordinary reason, as to deny a fact of religion, because he could not comprehend its mode, he would, by the very necessity of the case, sink down to hell with a lie in his right hand, and be scorned and despised by the apostate spirits themselves, as destroyed by his own foolishness. There is not an individual here, I presume, but who believes that there is a God. Butsuppose some one should rise up in his folly and say, that because he does not fully understand how God exists, therefore he cannot believe that God does exist. Who is asked to understand how God exists? Canst thou by searching find out God? Is any one asked to believe how God exists?
But let what has been said suffice. In the application of this whole subject to the doctrine of the Trinity, my object has been just clearly to state what you are, and what you are not, required to believe. You are required to believe the doctrine simply as a fact, to be proved by sufficient evidence. How there are three persons in the unity of one divine essence, you are not, required to believe. The fact which you are required to believe is, that there is in the unity of the divine essence three distinct persons; and this fact you can comprehend, and like every other fact, it stands or falls by the competency of the proof which is brought to sustain it. And this leads me to my
IId general division, viz: Can we prove that the doctrine is true ?
I have sought, my friends, to employ your minds at this time with special attention. I do not wish to fatigue, by too much effort; I therefore leave this to the next occasion. As I conclude, I desire most seriously to put in a caution. This subject which we have been discussing, is one of infinite importance. On the doctrine of the Trinity, I ask you to believe nothing which you cannot comprehend; but I wish you to be most scrupulously careful in your meditations, lest you apply to the fact, that which belongs only to the mode. The one you can; the other you cannot,comprehend. The one you are; the other you are not required to believe. Faith in the doctrine of the Trinity, is simply a belief that God is triune; and though you will not comprehend how it can be, and therefore are not required to believe how it can be, yet you can comprehend that God does so exist; and, therefore, just what you can comprehend you are required to believe, and nothing more. It is this which cuts up the apology of infidelity root and branch, and establishes the doctrinę beyond all cavil on the perfectly comprehensible declaration of the fact, which can be proved to be true by the word of God.
THE FACT OF THE TRINITY IN THE GODHEAD.
MATTIEW xxviii. 19.
I am constrained to take it for granted, my friends, that the main drift of my argument in my last discourse was understood. I stated the doctrine of the Trinity to be, that in the unity of the divine essence there were three persons; or, in perhaps better words, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are the one living and true God; and yet with such a personal distinction as to justify, as applied to each, the personal pronouns I, thou, and he; and that divine attributes are applied to each. This is a plain proposition to be proved by evidence. The proposition itself is perfectly easy to comprehend, and what you can comprehend in it, you are required to believe. How it is that there can be three persons in one God, is a subject which you cannot comprehend; and how this is, you are not required to believe. I place the doctrine of the Trinity before you as a mere fact, to be believed or not, according to evidence; but then he who rejects it, is necessarily cut short of his excuse, that he rejects it on account of its incomprehensibility, and thrown upon the naked avowal of his unbelief in the word of God. What is incomprehensible about the Trinity, that is, the mode, I do not ask him to believe; I ask him to believe the fact, and this fact rests on evidence.
My second division was, Can I prove the doctrine to be true? This I am to undertake. But before I do this, I will just state a principle of natural philosophy, which I wish you to bear in mind. It is an axiom of philosophy, that things which are equal to the same thing, are equal to one another. For instance, I have in my right hand one rod, in my left hand two; I take one from my left hand and measure it with the one in my right, and find them equal. I then take the other from my left hand and measure it with the one in my right hand and find them equal. Now as the two rods in my left hand, when measured separately with the one in my right, were both found equal to it, of course they are equal to each other. This is perfectly apparent.
In attempting to prove the doctrine of the Trinity, I mean to do it in this form—that is, I mean to prove that the Father is represented as God, that the Son is represented as God, and that the Holy Ghost is represented as God. That the Son is therefore equal to the Father, by the same process that the Holy Ghost is equal to the Father; and then the Son and the Holy Ghost being equal to the Father, are of course equal to each other. I then mean to state the argument in the form of what is called the sylogistic method of reasoning, and the sylogism will be as follows: