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have told you all the discoveries of our enlightened age. And now, if you understand one jot of the matter, you understand more than I do."
The short of the matter is this. Those who will not believe any thing but what they can comprehend, must not believe that there is a sun in the firmament, that there is light shining around them, that there is air, though it encompasses them on every side, that there is any earth, though they stand upon it. They must not believe that they have a soul, no, nor that they have a body.
14. But, Secondly, as strange as it may seem, in requiring you to believe, "That there are Three that bear record in Heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost; and these Three are One:" you are not required to believe any mystery. Nay, that great and good man, Dr. Peter Browne, some time Bishop of Cork, has proved at large, that the Bible does not require you to believe any mystery at all. The Bible barely requires you to believe such facts, not the manner of them. Now the mystery does not lie in the fact, but altogether in the manner.
For instance: "God said, Let there be light, and there was light." I believe it: I believe the plain fact: there is no mystery at all in this. The mystery lies in the manner of it. But of this I believe nothing at all; nor does God require it of me.
Again. "The Word was made flesh." I believe this fact also. There is no mystery in it; but as to the manner, how he was made flesh, wherein the mystery lies, I know nothing about it, I believe nothing about it. It is no more the object of my faith, than it is of my understanding.
15. To apply this to the case before us. "There are Three that bear record in Heaven-And these Three are One." I believe this fact also, (if I may use the expression,) that God is Three and One. But the manner, how, I do not comprehend: and I do not believe it. Now in this, in the manner, lies the mystery and so it may; I have no concern with it. It is no object of my faith; I beVOL. IX. K
lieve just so much as God has revealed, and no more. But this, the manner he has not revealed: therefore, I believe nothing about it. But would it not be absurd in me, to deny the fact, because I do not understand the manner? That is, to reject what God has revealed, because I do not comprehend what he has not revealed.
16. This is a point much to be observed. There are many things" which eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither hath it entered into the heart of man to conceive.” Part of these God hath "revealed to us by his Spirit:" revealed, that is, unveiled, uncovered: that part he requires us to believe. Part of them he has not revealed; that we need not, and indeed, cannot believe: it is far above, out of our sight.
Now, where is the wisdom of rejecting what is revealed, because we do not understand what is not revealed? Of denying the fact, which God has unveiled, because we cannot see the manner, which is veiled still?
17. Especially when we consider that what God has been pleased to reveal upon this head, is far from being a point of indifference, is a truth of the last importance. It enters into the very heart of Christianity; it lies at the root of all vital religion.
Unless these Three are One, how can "all men honour the Son even as they honour the Father?" "I know not what to do," says Socinus in a letter to his friend," with my untoward followers. They will not worship Jesus Christ. I tell them, it is written Let all the angels of God worship him.' They answer, However that be, if he is not God, we dare not worship him. For it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve.""
But the thing which I here particularly mean, is this: The knowledge of the Three-One God, is interwoven with all true Christian faith, with all vital religion.
I do not say, that every real Christian can declare with the Marquis de Renty, "I bear about with me continually
an experimental verity, and a plenitude of the presence of the ever-blessed Trinity." I apprehend this is not the experience of babes, but rather of fathers in Christ.
But I know not how any one can be a Christian believer, till he hath (as St. John speaks) the witness in himself;" till "the Spirit of God witnesses with his spirit, that he is a child of God:" that is, in effect, till God the Holy Ghost witnesses that God the Father has accepted him, through the merits of God the Son; and having this witness, he honours the Son and the blessed Spirit, "even as he honours the Father."
18. Not that every Christian believer adverts to this; perhaps, at first, not one in twenty; but if you ask any of them a few questions, you will easily find it is implied in what he believes.
Therefore, I do not see how it is possible for any to have vital religion, who denies that these Three are One. And all my hope for them is, not that they will be saved, during their unbelief, (unless on the footing of honest heathens, upon the plea of invincible ignorance,) but that God, before they go hence, will "bring them to the knowledge of the truth."
GOD'S APPROBATION OF HIS WORKS.
GENESIS i. 31.
"And God saw every Thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good."
1. WHEN God created the heavens and the earth, and all that is therein, at the conclusion of each day's work, it is said, "And God saw that it was good." Whatever was created was good in its kind, suited to the end for which it was designed, adapted to promote the good of the whole, and the glory of the great Creator. This sentence it pleased God to pass with regard to each particular creature. But there is a remarkable variation of the expressión, with regard to all the parts of the Universe, taken in connexion with each other, and constituting one system. "And God saw every thing that he had made: and, behold, it was very good."
2. How small a part of this great work of God is man able to understand! But it is our duty to contemplate what he has wrought, and to understand as much of it as we are able. For "the merciful Lord," as the Psalmist observes," hath so done his marvellous works," of Creation as well as of Providence, “that they ought to be had in remembrance" by all that fear him, which they cannot well be, unless they are understood. Let us, then, by the assistance of that Spirit, who giveth unto man understanding, endeavour to take a general survey of the Works
which God made in this lower world, as they were before they were disordered and depraved, in consequence of the sin of man: we shall then easily see, that as every creature was good in its primeval state, so when all were compacted in one general System, "behold! they were very good." I do not remember to have seen any attempt of this kind, unless in that truly excellent poem, (termed by Mr. Hutchinson, That wicked farce!) Milton's Paradise Lost.
1. "In the beginning God created the matter of the heavens and the earth." (So the words, as a great man observes, may properly be translated.) He first created the four Elements, out of which the whole Universe was composed, Earth, Water, Air, and Fire, all mingled together in one common mass. The grossest parts of this, the earth and water, were utterly without form, till God infused a principle of motion, commanding the Air to move " upon the face of the waters." In the next place," the Lord God said, Let there be light: and there was light." Here were the four constituent parts of the universe: the true, original, simple Elements. They were all essentially distinct from each other: and yet so intimately mixed together in all compound bodies, that we cannot find any, be it ever so minute, which does not contain them all.
2. And God saw that every one of these was good, was perfect in its kind. The earth was good. The whole surface of it was beautiful in an high degree. To make it more agreeable,
The universal face with pleasant green.'
He adorned it with flowers of every hue, and with shrubs and trees of every kind. And every part was fertile as well as beautiful: it was no way deformed by rough or ragged rocks: it did not shock the view with horrid precipices, huge chasms, or dreary caverns: with deep, impassable morasses, or deserts of barren sands. But we have not any authority to say, with some learned and ingenious Authors, That there were no mountains on the original earth, no