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Father ;” “the Father, which hath sent me;" “ the works which the Father hath given me to do.” The Apostle Paul says, “ To us there is but one God, the Father ;” and calls him “the God of our Lord Jesus ;” also “the one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in us all.” The great order of the universe depends on him : “ He has put the times and the seasons in his own power." Christ will at last “deliver up the kingdom to God, the Father.” By Christ, “we have access in one spirit to the Father.” “ All things were delivered” to Christ "of his Father," whose will Christ always sought. Thus is the Father spoken of in the New Testament as the Source from which all things have proceeded, and to whom all things tend.
The Son (or Son of God) is spoken of in the New Testament as distinct from the Father, but intimately united with him. The Father gives power: the Son receives it.
The Father gives life: the Son receives it. The Son does * nothing but what he seeth the Father do. “ The Father bath sent me," he says; "and I live by the Father.” “I am not alone; but I, and the Father who sent me.” “The Son is in the Father, and the Father in him.” “No man cometh to the Father but by" him. He shows the Father to the world. The Father is glorified in the Son. He is in the bosom of the Father. The Father sent him to be the Saviour of the world. “He that hath the Son hath life ; ” “ And in him is everlasting life.”
The Holy Spirit, which came after Jesus left the world (also called the Holy Ghosi and the Spirit of God), is an inward revelation of God and of Christ. It teaches all things, comforts, convinces. It is a spirit of life, lifts one above the flesh, makes one feel that he is a Son of God, communicates a variety of gifts, produces unity in the Church, sanctifies, sheds the love of God into the heart, and renews the soul. The New Testament speaks of joy in the Holy Ghost, power of the Holy Ghost, and communion of the Holy Ghost.
According to the New Testament, the Father would seem to be the Source of all things, the Creator, the Fountain of being and of life. The Son is spoken of as the manifestation of that Being in Jesus Christ; and the Holy Ghost is spoken of as a spiritual influence, proceeding from the Father and the Son, dwelling in the hearts of believers, as the source of their life, – the idea of God seen in causation, in reason, and in conscience, as making the very life of the soul itself.
There are these three revelations of God, and we know of no others. They are distinct from each other in form, but the same in essence. They are not merely three names for the same thing; but they are real personal manifestations of God, real subsistences, since he is personally present in all of them. This view avoids all heresies, since it neither “divides the substance" nor “confounds the persons.” And these are really the two heresies, which are the most common, and the most to be avoided. I think it can be easily shown that these are the great practical dangers to be avoided. To “ divide the substance” is so to separate the revelations of God as to make them contradict or oppose each other: to “confound the persons” is not to recognize each as an independent source of truth to the soul.
There is, therefore, an essential truth hidden in the idea of the Trinity. While the Church doctrine, in every form which it has hitherto taken, has failed to satisfy the human intellect, the Christian heart has clung to the substance contained in them all. Let us endeavor to see what is the practical value of this doctrine, for the sake of which its VOL. IV.
errors of statement have been pardoned. What does it say to the Christian consciousness ?
The Trinity, truly apprehended, teaches, by its doctrine of Tri-personality, that God is immanent in nature, in Christ, and in the soul. It teaches that God is not outside of the world, making it as an artisan makes a machine; nor outside of Christ, sending him, and giving to him miraculous powers; nor outside of the soul, touching it ab extra from time to time with unnatural influences, revolutionizing and overturning it; but that he is personally present in each and all. So that, when we study the mysteries and laws of nature, we are drawing near to God himself, and looking into his face. When we see Christ, we see God, who is in Christ; and when we look into the solemn intuitions of our soul, the monitions of conscience, and the influences which draw our heart to goodness, we are meeting and communing with God.
Moreover, the Trinity, truly apprehended, teaches, by its doctrine of One Substance (the Homoousion), that these three revelations, though distinct, are essentially at one; that nature cannot contradict revelation; that revelation cannot contradict nature; and that the intuitions of the soul cannot be in conflict with either. Hence it teaches that the Naturalist need not fear revelation; nor the Christian believer, natural Theism. Since it is one and the same God who dwells in nature, in Christ, and in the soul, all his revelations must be in harmony with each other. To suppose otherwise is to “ divide the substance” of the Trinity.
And again: the Trinity, rightly understood, asserts the distinctness of these three personal revelations. It is the same God who speaks in each ; but he says something new each time. He reveals a new form of his being. He shows us, not the same order and aspect of truth in each manifestation, but wholly different aspects.
And yet again : as the doctrine teaches that the Son is begotten of the Father, and the Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son, it thereby shows how the revelation in nature prepares for the revelation in Christ, and both for the revelation in the soul.
The error of “dividing the substance” is perhaps the most common. The man who sees God in nature, sees him only there : therefore God loses to him that personal character which seems especially to be seen through Christ; for God, as a Person, comes to us most in Christ, and then is recognized also in nature and the soul as a personal Being. So, without Christ, natural religion is cold: it wants love; it wants life. But, on the other hand, the Christian believer who avoids seeing God in nature, and who finds him only in his Bible, loses the sense of law or order, of harmonious growth, and becomes literal, dogmatic, and narrow. And so, too, the mystic, believing only in God's revelation through the soul, and not going to nature or to Christ, becomes withdrawn from life, and has a morbid and ghastly religion; and, having no test by which to judge his inward revelations, may become the prey of all fantasies and all evil spirits, lying spirits, foul spirits, and cruel spirits.
Such errors come from “ dividing the substance;” and they are also only too common. So that, when the true doctrine of Trinity in Unity is apprehended, the most beneficial results may be expected to flow into the life of the Church. No longer believed as a dead formula, no longer held in the letter which killeth, no longer accepted outwardly as a dogma or authority, but seen, felt, and realized in the daily activity of the intellect and heart, the whole
Church will recover its lost union, sects will disappear, and the old feud between science and religion for ever cease. Science will become religious, and religion scientific. Science, no longer cold and dead, but filled through and through with the life of God, will reach its hand to Christianity. Piety, no longer an outlaw from nature, no longer exiled from life into churches and monasteries, will inform and animate all parts of human daily action. Christianity, no longer narrow, Jewish, bigoted, formal, but animated by the great liberty of a common life, will march onward to conquer all forms of error and evil in the omnipotence of universal and harmonious truth.
Natural religion, Christianity, and spiritual piety, being thus harmonized, nature will be more warm, Christ more human, and the divine influences in the soul more uniform and constant. Nature will be full of God, with a sense of his presence penetrating it everywhere. Christianity will become more natural, and all its great facts assume the proportion of laws, universal as the universe itself. Divine influences will cease to be spasmodic and irregular, and become calm, serene, and pure, an indwelling life of God in the soul.
A simple Unity, as held by the Jews and Mohammedans, and by most of the Christian Unitarians, is a bald Unity and an empty Unity. It shows us one God, but God withdrawn from nature, from Christ, from the soul; not immanent in any, but outside of them. It leaves nature godless; leaves. Christ merely human; leaves the soul a machine to be moved by an external impulse, not an inward inspiration.
We conclude, finally, that no doctrine of Orthodoxy is vnom in its form, and so true in its substance, as this. new bach none so untenable as dogma, but none so indis