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constantly practised by the Church of England; and it is remarkable, not only on this account, but as being also one principal ground of a very distinguished doctrine of the Gospel, and of the Church of England, the doctrine of the Trinity. For the plain and natural interpretation of the words is, that by being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we are dedicated and consecrated equally to the service of each of those three divine persons; we are made the servants and disciples of each, and are consequently bound to honour, worship and obey each of them equally. This evidently implies an equality in their nature; “that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in each.” In confirmation of this, we find in various parts of Scripture, that all the attributes of divinity are ascribed to each. And yet, as the unity of the Supreme Being is every where taught in the same Scriptures, and is a fundamental article of our religion, we
are naturally left to conclude with our church in its first article, “That there is but one living and true God, of infinite power and wisdom, the maker and preserver of all things visible and invisible; and that, in the unity of this Godhead, there are three persons, of one substance, power and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” That this is a very mysterious doctrine we do not deny; but it is not more so than many other doctrines of the Christian revelation, which we all admit, and which we cannot reject without subverting the foundation, and destroying the very substance and essence of our religion. The miraculous birth and incarnation of our blessed Lord, his union of the human nature with the divine, his redemption of mankind, and his expiation of their sins by his death upon the cross: these are doctrines plainly taught in Scripture, and yet as incomprehensible to our finite understandings as the doctrine of three persons and one God. But what we contend for in all these instances is, that these - mysteries, mysteries, although confessedly above our reason, are not contrary to it. This is a plain and a well known distinction, and in the present case an incontrovertible one. No one for instance, can say, that the supposition of three persons and one God is contrary to reason. We cannot, indeed comprehend such a distinction in the divine nature ; but unless we knew perfectly what that nature is, it is impossible for us to say that such a distinction may not subsist in it consistent with its unity. The truth is, on a subject where we have no clear ideas at all, our reasoning faculties must fail us, and we must be content to submit (as well we may) to the clear and explicit declarations of holy writ. It is indeed, natural for the human mind to wish that every thing in religion should be intelligible and plain, and that there should be not difficulties to perplex and stagger our faith. But natural as this wish may be, is it a reasonable one? Do we find that in the most important concerns of the present life, in those where our - - - most most essential interests, our property, our welfare, our health, our reputation, our very life, are at stake, that no difficulties, no perplexities, no intricacies occur; that every thing is plain and level before us, and that we are never at a loss how to act, what opinion to form, or what course to take o There are few, I fancy, here present, whose experience has not taught them to their cost, the very reverse of all this. If then, even in the ordinary affairs of life, there is so much difficulty, doubt, and obscurity, how can we wonder to find it in religion also, in those inquiries that relate to an invisible world and an invisible Being, “to the high and lofty One that
inhabiteth eternity “P” And let it never be forgotten, that mysteries mysteries are not (as is often insinuated, and often taken for granted) peculiar to the Christian religion, they belong to all religions, even to that which is generally supposed to be of all others the least encumbered with difficulties, pure deism; or, as it is sometimes called, the religion of nature, of reason, or of philosophy. Who, for instance, can grasp with the utmost stretch of his understanding, the idea of an Eternal Being; of a Being whose existence never had any beginning, and never will have an end ? Where is the man whose thoughts are not lost and confounded in contemplating the immensity of a God who is intimately present to every part of the universe; who sees, with equal clearness, a kingdom perish and a sparrow fall, and to whom every thought of our hearts is perfectly well known * *
* “So far is it from being true (as some one has said) that where mystery begins, religion ends; that religion, even natural religion, begins with a mystery, with the greatest of all mysteries, the self-existence and eternity of God. Let any one tell us how an eternity can be past, unless it was once present, and how that can be be once present which never had a beginning.”—Seed's Sermons, v. ii. S. 7.459.