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SERMON XVII.

THE HOLY TRINITY WITNESSED INWARDLY.1

1 ST. JOHN, v. 10.

"He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."

THE true dignity of man, and his true happiness, consist in the knowledge of God-a knowledge most graciously vouchsafed to him in the days of his innocence, and never wholly withdrawn from him while his time of probation lasts. "Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth, glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth Me, that I am the Lord which exercise loving-kindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth." "2 And our blessed Saviour says, "This is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent." Our glory and our life, our true eternal life, consist in knowing God. 'Preached on Trinity Sunday. 2 Jer. ix. 23.

glory and our Yet we cannot

3 St. John, xvii. 3.

know Him perfectly, because He is infinite and we are finite. We cannot know Him, in our present state, as the holy angels know him; for they are pure and upright spirits, but we are fallen and corrupt. It almost seems to us sometimes as if our knowledge of Him were well-nigh completely obscured. "For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain. For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind that museth upon many things. And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth, and with labour do we find the things that are before us: but the things that are in heaven who hath searched out?" How can we know Him who is all-holy? or how enjoy the vision of Him who is a pure Spirit, and dwells in heaven among the spirits? How is it possible for us to know Him? It is possible, for He has willed it. It is possible, for He has Himself become our teacher, has given wisdom, and sent "His Holy Spirit from above." Frail and earthly though we be, it is possible, for His strength avails to invigorate our weakness. Sinful and miserable as we are, it is possible, for He Himself has become the Healer of the deep wound of sin, and the Comforter of the miserable.

From the very first it pleased Him who made man to reveal Himself to man. In the garden of innocence He received the pure worship of His upright creatures; and when our first parents fell, He graciously continued to communicate the knowledge Wisdom, ix. 14-17.

of His power and goodness to those who were born sinners. From generation to generation the knowledge of Almighty God, first imparted to Adam, was handed down; soon, indeed, perverted and corrupted by the carelessness and sinfulness of men, but never wholly lost. Traces there always were of the knowledge of God to be found amongst the most ignorant heathen nations, but, alas! obscured by miserable superstitions, and joined with awful wickedness of life. The whole world, except the twilight of the land of Israel, lay in darkness and the shadow of death; until that Holy Child was born of the Virgin Mary, "A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of His people Israel;"" until Christ came to teach the hearts of the faithful, and to guide all child-like souls into the way of truth.

But now that Christ has been among us, and gone away again, He has done more than leave a light behind Him; He has poured down light from above; He has returned by His Spirit to dwell for ever in the Church of His redeemed; and in each faithful heart He has lighted a flame of knowledge and of love, which grows brighter every day, as death comes nearer, in those who persevere. "For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the Face of Jesus Christ."6

Consider, then, dear brethren, how glorious a privilege is granted us as Christians. Let us turn with a solemn joy to contemplate the thoughts sug

'St. Luke, ii. 32.

62 Cor. iv. 6.

And who When the

gested by the text concerning our Creator, our Redeemer, and our Sanctifier. Joyful it is that we may contemplate Him in whom we live and move; by whose hands we were made; Him by whose precious blood we were redeemed; and Him by whose invigorating and purifying graces we are sanctified. Joyful, and yet most solemn. For who is our Teacher, but the Almighty God, holy and jealous, who cannot look upon iniquity? are we, that we can see God and live? glory of God appeared upon the mount, and His voice was heard rehearsing the Ten Commandments in the ears of the children of Israel, the earth trembled, the mountain was filled with thick clouds, the lightnings shone round about, and the thunders went abroad, so that the people requested they might hear that awful voice no more. And when the prophet Isaiah beheld the glory of God in the temple, and heard the voices of the seraphim, as they cried one to another, and said, "Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of Hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory," he exclaimed, "Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts." So also in the New Testament, St. John, the beloved disciple, fell upon his face as one dead when he beheld the glory of his ascended Lord." The vision of God was too glorious to be gazed upon by human eyes; it was overwhelming even to saints. How then

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can we bear it? Is not the nature of the Holy Trinity too awful an object for us to contemplate? It is too awful, unless we be supported by a Power above ourselves. Unless He who reveals His glory also enable us to look upon its brightness, we must be blinded. The contemplation of highest mysteries of the faith must always injure those who love the world, or please the flesh, or indulge the evil passions of the mind. But those of us, dear brethren, who are conscious of a sincere purpose of pleasing our Heavenly Father, need not fear to meditate upon the words of the text, though they lead us into the deepest mysteries of our holy faith. We need not fear, if we trust ourselves to His safe keeping, if we beseech Him to be our Guide. Isaiah was cleansed and invigorated by the burning coal from the altar; St. John was lifted up and comforted. God will support us also, if we reverently betake ourselves to Him for help and guidance. Let us pray Him, therefore, to be with us; to guard us from presumptuous thoughts, from vain imaginings, and from all heresy and false doctrine.

Now I observe, in connection with what I have said already, that those visions of the majesty of God which overwhelmed His faithful servants from time to time, were open visions; outward tokens of that Inward Majesty towards which unaided human nature cannot approach and live. But that Blessed Witness which is granted to Christians is an inward gift, which purifies and strengthens, while it informs; "He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself."

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