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THE TRUE GOD IS TO BE WORSHIPPED, AS EXISTING IN THREE PERSONS.
EPHESIANS ii, 18.
For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.
GOD has revealed his will to mankind gradually, by one inspired teacher after another. And these teachers never represent any thing as new, which had been revealed before. Thus Moses takes it for a revealed and well known-truth, that the sabbath is to be sanctified, the first time he mentions that day. All the prophets after him speak of temporal death, human depravity, and a future state of happiness and misery, as things already revealed and universally believed. Our Saviour never pretends to teach any thing as new, which had been taught before, by any of the teachers sent from God. And it is very remarkable, that neither Christ nor the Apostles ever speak of the sacred Trinity as a new, but only as an old doctrine, which had been taught and believed, under all the previous dispensations of the gospel. When Christ instituted the ordinance of Baptism, to be administered in the name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, he gives no intimation, that he meant to reveal any thing new, respecting these adorable persons in the Godhead. So the Apostles, in their familiar letters to the churches, occasionally speak of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, as though it were a doctrine well known and universally believed, by common christians, that the one true God exists in
three equally divine Persons. This remark is supported by the phraseology in the text. Speaking of the partition wall between Jews and Gentiles as being taken away by the gospel, the Apostle says in the most familiar manner, "Through him (Christ), we both (Jews and Gentiles) have access by one Spirit unto the Father." Here the Apostle plainly supposes, that the christians to whom he wrote, were well acquainted with the great and practical doctrine of the Trinity, and in their most solemn devotions, exercised distinct and peculiar affections towards each distinct person in the Godhead. Now this familiar manner, in which Christ and the Apostles speak of the doctrine of the Trinity, is a strong presumptive evidence, that it was not a new doctrine in their day; but a doctrine, which had been revealed and believed ever since the first promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent's head. If it were ever proper for guilty creatures in this world, to present their prayers and praises to the Father, through the Son, and by the Spirit, it was proper before the law, under the law, and under the gospel. Hence we may justly conclude,
That we ought to address and worship the one true. God, as existing in three Persons.
As it is the only design of the present discouse, to set this subject in a plain, and practical light, I shall proceed to illustrate it, in the following method:
I. Show that there is but one true God.
II. Show that the one true God exists in three Persons.
III. Show why we ought to address and worship the one true God, according to this personal distinction in the divine nature.
Į. We are to consider the unity of the Deity.
It is much easier to prove from the light of nature, that there is one God, than to prove the impossibility of there being any more than one. Though some plausible arguments in favour of the unity of the Deity, may be drawn from the beauty, order, and harmony apparent in the creatures and objects around us, and from the Nature of a self-existent, independent, and perfect Being; yet these arguments fall far short of full proof or strict demonstration. To obtain complete and satisfactory evidence, that there is but one living and true God, we must have resort to the Scriptures of truth, in which the divine Unity is cleary and fully revealed. God has always been extremely jealous of his unity, which has been so often disbelieved and denied in this rebellious and idolatrous world. He has never condescended to give his glory to another, nor his praise to false and inferior deities. He said, in the first of his commands to his own people, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me." After this, he directed Moses to go and say, "Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord." These precepts and prohibitions soon lost their restraining influence upon a people bent to backsliding; which gave occasion for more frequent and solemn declarations of the divine unity and supremacy, by succeeding prophets. Isaiah is directed to say, "Thus saith the Lord the King of Israel, and his Redeemer the Lord of Hosts; I am the first, and I am the last; and beside me there is no god. Is there any god beside me? yea, there is no god: I know not any: I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me: Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure. I am the Lord, and there is none else. I form the light, and create
darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things." In these passages, the God of Israel asserts his unity, not only in opposition to the heathens in general, who supposed there were many gods, but more especially against the Manicheans, who supposed there were two eternal, self-existent beings, the one the author of all good, and the other the author of all evil. And taking these texts in this sense, they prove not only, that the God of Israel is the greatest of all that have been supposed to be gods; but that he is the only true God, exclusively of all other beings in the universe. Our Saviour taught the unity of God, as plainly and expressly as the prophets. When a certain man came and said unto him, Good master, what good thing shall I do that I may have eternal life? he demanded, "Why callest thou me good? there is none good but one, that is God." At another time he said, "This is life eternal, that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom thou has sent." And when the unity of the Deity was implicitly called in question by Satan, who tempted him to worship him, he repelled and silenced him by saying, "Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve." The Apostle Paul also asserts the unity of God in the most plain and unequivocal terms. "We know that an idol is nothing in the world, and that there is none other God but one. Now a mediator is not a mediator of one; but God is one. There is one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only "wise God, be honour and glory forever and ever. Amen." Thus the inspired writers unitedly and expressly assert, that there is but one living and true God, who possesses self-existence, independence, and every other divine perfection. But yet,
II. The one living and true. God exists in three distinct Persons.
It is generally supposed, that the inspired writers of the Old Testament, give some plain intimations of a plurality of persons in the Godhead. Moses, in speaking of God, very often used the plural number, when the idiom of the language allowed him to use the same word, or some other, in the singular number; which is a presumptive evidence, that he meant to intimate a personal distinction in the divine nature. And this supposition is strengthened, by his representing God himself as speaking in the same manner, on different occasions. He tells us, that when God was about to create man, he said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." And again, that when he was about to confound the language of the builders of Babel, he said, "Go to, let us go down, and there confound their language, that they may not understand one another's speech." Moses often mentions "the Angel of the Lord," who appeared to the ancient patriarchs in the figure of a man, but spake the language of God. This was undoubtedly Christ, the second person in the Trinity, whom the Apostle says "had been in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God." Job seems to have been acquainted with the plurality of persons in the Deity, and to have built his hopes of salvation upon the atonement of the second. "I know that my Redeemer liveth; and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth." David clearly understood the doctrine of the Trinity, and frequently refers to each Person, in the book of Psalms. He says to God, "Cast me not away from thy presence, and take not thy Holy Spirit from me." And again he says, "Whither shall I go from thy Spirit; or whither shall