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pungent sorrow. But with Him, who was made perfect through suffering, you will each say, "the cup, which my Father hath given me, shall I not drink it?" Every thing to reconcile our hearts to the dispensations of Heaven, to assuage our grief, to comfort our souls, to animate our hopes and brighten our prospects, is contained in that tender, that endeared word, Father. Let your minds dwell upon the thought, and may the God of all consolation fill each of your hearts with comfort and joy unspeakable through Christ Jesus! And may the same divine Jesus, who himself once wept, while on earth, forgive the weakness of our tears, and in his own good time restore us to the enjoyment of our tender offspring, which he has thus early, and so kindly received to his arms!
EPITAPH FOR AN INFANT, BY FRANCIS HOP-
SLEEP on, sweet babe ! no dreams annoy thy rest,
a multitude of sins: To comfort the best people in the world, and help them on their way to glory.
When we apply ourselves in earnest, and with all suitable affection, to convince and convert, to edify and comfort our friends, our brethren in immortal bonds; the arrangements will be the more natural. The style, though simplified by feeling, will be the more pure and the more impressive. Your whole manner will be the better: plain indeed, and faithful, but inoffensive, dignified, humble, loving, like the manner of good people speaking from their dying beds.
We would not adopt a smooth, cold manner, which brings nothing home to the conscience; which leaves the careless sinner and the hypocrite to sleep on without disturbance. Nor may we be content with being solemn, with telling what is wrong, inveighing against sin, and holding up terror.
Our great business is to testify the gospel of the grace of God.* To make this intelligible, we must faithfully shew men their sin and guilt, and how they are undone by it, and lie at mercy in more respects than one. But the truth, in this case, must be spoken in love, and the vilest sinner tenderly invited and encouraged to return. The grace of Heaven must be held up without ceasing, to the most untoward; and preached with a grace; with all our hearts; with a good will like that which the Saviour himself breathed to his crucifiers,‡ and which the primitive heralds
Acts xx. 24.
of his grace exhibited. Comparing these, we remark with trembling, that to preach the gospel in its own gracious spirit, is a very particular attainment, which many a popular and many a solemn preacher never reached.
Christianity too must be preached as a reality. She must be delineated and portrayed in her own lovely form. To do this justly, and enter well into the spirit of it, is much more than to show what sin is, and testify against it; much more than to say what is not religion. Indeed the most effectual way of detecting what is not, is clearly to show what is. Here then is a great object always to be kept in view.
Here let me add another hint. Let our discourses, as much as possible, be the product, not of mere study, but of practical meditation. Study," says Dr. Manton, "is like a winter sun, that shines, but warms not." Meditation is a serious acting of the soul upon a subject, in the view of its serious nature, as it respects ourselves and others. Composing in this way is profitable to our own hearts. And sach discourses are much more likely to interest and profit oth..
In fine, let us pray and endeavour in all our sermonizing to lose every little concern, in the magnitude of our subject; and go forth to divine things, and to the souls of men, unfettered by any ambition of making a figure and gaining applause, or any fear of coming short of it. Our business is to approve ourselves to God, to honour our Redeemer,
Acts iii. 25,26, and aiii. 38.
and call upon high and low to do the same. To keep him in view, with a just reverential esteem; to feel his authority and the great importance of his messages: and a proper tenderness withal to those we address, will probably command a better style and manner than any of our own speculations could produce, or any rhetorician point out to us.
I write with freedom; but not without a thousand misgivings. I know that a great poet has said, "Let those teach others, who themselves excel." But in fact I should have less to say on this subject, did I not discover, on a review of my own doings, a great deficiency in this instance. Indeed whatever part of ministerial work I turn to, so many failures meet me, that nothing but the force of truth, and a strong desire that others may do better, could have induced me to make observations and lay down rules, with so little
I conceive nothing more dangerous to the churches with respect to the Christian faith, than the misrepresentations of its enemies. Evangelical truth, in its own divine form and dress, has so much to recommend it to the hearts of believers, and to the reason and conscience of all men, that it cannot, without difficulty, be rejected. In itself it has a perfect agreement with the intellectual faculties of the human mind. Whereas error, in its own nature, is totally repugnant to reason, to conscience, and to every upright principle. "Wicked men and deceivers," aware of this, and despairing of success from direct opposition to the truth as such, have recourse to the art of misrepresentation. By their dexterity in this illusive art, they materially alter the form of truth. They disfigure its lovely features, array it in a foreign dress, and surround it with false appendages. By concealment, by addition, and by distortion, they make the truth appear quite another thing. Shaped and dressed by them, it ceases to exhibit its own engaging form, and appears a frightful monster. It must be added, that in all their misrepresentations, they apply, with great address, to the corrupt passions of human nature. While they endeavour to prevent the alarm of conscience, by professing to be the advocates of truth; they obtain success in their mischievous design, by giving truth an air,which is likely to offend the pride of reason and the depravity of the heart, at the same time decking error in such a manner, as to flatter and please. Another method, to which
men owe much of their success, is the misapplication of scripture. Sensible of the high authority, which the scripture has obtained over the minds of people in general, they think it not consistent with prudence, and perhaps it is not quite consistent with their convictions, avowedly to reject it. They therefore resort to it, not with that sacred reverence and implicit submission, which are due to the word of God, but with a determination to derive from it what arguments they can in support of their favourite tenets. It is astonishing to observe what cunning and what boldness they use in detaching passages of scripture from their obvious connexion, or in concealing their true sense by a plausible criticism, or an artful gloss, or in forcing them, in some other way, to favour sentiments, which are contrary to the spirit of revelation,
There are many modes of false reasoning employed by the adversaries of truth, of which it is important for Christians to beware. But I shall chiefly insist upon the two which have been mentioned; misrepresentation of the truth, and a wrong application of scripture.
On no points do the enemies of evangelical religion carry their efforts to a higher pitch, than on those which immediately relate to God. The scripture doctrine of the Trinity is at the foundation of revealed religion, and is peculiarly and inseparably connected with the economy of redemption. The cordial and pious reception of this doctrine, which is so incomprehensible and mysterious, requires that the pride of erring reason
be subdued, and that faith rest implicitly on the testimony of God. On this account men, who are governed by a proud conceit of their own understand ing, or by the principles of corrupt philosophy, bestir themselves to overwhelm it with infamy or contempt. It is my design in this number to give a specimen of their misrepresentations of the doctrine, and their misapplication of scripture in opposing it.
The capital misrepresentation of the doctrine of the Trinity, which I shall notice, is, that it implies polytheism, or asserts the existence of three Gods, and that it contains a palpable contradiction or absurdity, by asserting that these three are one.
The charge of peism is wholly groundless, because correct Trinitarians do not affirm, either directly or indirectly, that there are three Gods. Their belief is, that in the mode of the divine existence there is a foundation for a personal distinction; or in other words, that the Supreme Being exists in three persons, the FATHER, the SON, and the HOLY GHOST. The nature of this personal distinction they pretend not to describe. idea, that it resembles the distinction among human persons, is by no means admitted. As the distinction is peculiar to the existence of Jehovah, and is founded in his infinite perfection, it is deemed absurd to borrow any similitudes from other beings in order to explain it. To designate the distinction briefly and conveniently, the term, fersons, is adopted. The term, however, is not used according to its common acceptation, but
in an appropriate, theological sense. And why is not the use of technical terms as allowable and important in theology, as in any other science? In the arts and sciences, instead of making new words to express every idea, words are frequently taken from common language, and used in a scientific or technical manner. And it is understood, that whenever such words are employed with reference to the arts and sciences, they convey a meaning different from what they previously bore in common use. Now because in common language three persons signifies three men, it cannot be inferred, that three persons, when applied to the divine nature, signifies three Gods. Whatever the term persons may signify, when applied to men, in its theological sense it must always be understood to denote a kind of plurality, which is perfectly consistent with the proper unity of God. The FATHER, the WORD, and the SPIRIT are three; not three Gons, but as Trinitarians are accustomed to speak, three persons, the word being used to signify the indescribable and incomprehensible distinction between the Father, Son, and Spirit in the unity of the Godhead. Accordingly Trinitarians adopt the plainest and most forcible construction of all those scriptures, which assert the oneness or unity of the Supreme Being. "The Lord our God is one Lord," means as much upon the Trinitarian, as upon the Antitrinitarian scheme.
When, therefore, the opposers of the scripture doctrine of the Trinity bring against it the charge of polytheism, and say
that it makes three Gods, let Christians mark well the charge, and remember that it is a misrepresentation highly injurious to the Trinitarian scheme. For neither do the advocates of the doctrine believe, nor does the doctrine itself indicate, that there are, in heaven or in earth, more Gods than one.
The other part of the misrepresentation is, that the doctrine of the Trinity contains a palpable contradiction or absurdity, by as serting that three are one. It is conceded, that any doctrine, which contains a real contradiction, is contrary to the dictates of sound reason, and ought to be exploded. A proposition, which involves an absurdity, cannot possibly be true. If the doc trine of the Trinity implied, that Jehovah is three in the same respect in which he is one; in other words, if the doctrine implied, that three persons are one person, or three Deities one Deity, it would be a plain contradiction, and must be instantly rejected. But the doctrine involves no contradiction, because it does not assert that God is three and one in the same sense. Trinity is ascribed to God as to personali. ty, and unity as to divine essence. Now surely there is no contradic. tion in saying, that a Being, who is three in one respect, is one in another. But we pretend not to give any adequate description of the difference between divine personality and divine essence. We acknowledge our incapacity to understand, or by any terms whatever to express, the precise manner, in which the Trinity subsists in perfect divine unity. Our faith rests on the authority of God, who cannot lie. He knows
his own perfections, & has deigned in mercy to give us needed instruction. In his word we find that distinct personal agency and all divine perfections are ascribed to the FATHER, and to the Son, and to the HOLY SPIRIT, and thus we are taught, that the one living and true God is, in a mysterious manner, triune, or cxists in a Trinity. Like all other truths respecting God, it is incomprehensible, and like many others it is wholly inexplicable; but who can say, that it involves an absurdity?
Beware then, Christian churches, of all attempts to expose, depreciate, or obliterate from your creed, this sacred tenet of Christianity. It is the basis of 1evealed religion. Your dependence, your af ons, and your worship must be indissolubly connected with your sentiments on this fundamental point. When they, who arrogate to themselves the name of Unitarians, use their genius and science to undermine this truth, be assured their science is "falsely so called," and their genius is kindled by an unhallowed fire. Your attentive minds will easily observe, how earnestly they wish to diminish your reverence for the holy Scriptures, and how decidedly they prefer an appeal to the oracles of human reason, before an appeal to the oracles of God. The argument which they most violently urge against the Trinity, appears, on careful inquiry, to be a manifest misrepresentation. Yet to this misrepresentation is to be chiefly ascribed the influence which they have gained in the world. Take heed, then, lest any man deceive you. Be alarmed at the presumption of