Imatges de pÓgina
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of sin in the abuse of the powers of creature wills, disobedience to God, a thing whose very nature is a contradiction to His will.

The only residuum of mystery thus left is : Why did God, foreseeing the possibility or the reality of this abuse, nevertheless, create a moral world? And with respect to this we are clearly entitled to say: First, that the creation of a moral world, in itself considered, is consistent with goodness, not only as a forming of creature existence with full adaptation to happiness, but as constituting a higher and nobler realm of being, excellence, and happiness than all being and blessedness otherwise possible. God's creative goodness reached the climax of love in forming creatures in the image of His own personal excellence, endowed with the possibilities of life in fellowship with Himself, and sharing the blessedness of such high position. It desired and provided for the supreme happiness of creature existence. Secondly, assuming that God foresaw the abuse of the moral endowment, we may well think that His further “purpose " to add the grace of a redemptive administration for recovery from sin, is no indication that the creational work was lacking in benevolence or goodness. Especially so, since in the redemptory action the goodness rises to the higher grade of kindness to the guilty and ill-deserving, and this, too, through an economy of patience and self-sacrifice. Man's guilty sin is made the occasion for the display of a divine goodness that becomes the crowning proof of God's love. We are justified in believing that God's foresight of creature sin simply did not annul His purpose to crown this earthly creation with its supreme realm of rational life and freedom, and its fellowship in the divine thought and blessedness, and in thinking also that, could we see the whole problem with the eye of omniscience, we should find the divine goodness fully vindicated.

4. TRUTH, or VERACITY. This is the divine attribute by which God's action and communication are always in perfect harmony with His own nature and with things as they are in genuine reality. It is, therefore, that principle in which all the attributes maintain their selfconsistency and consummate their perfect import. Truth, correctly conceived, is always that which truly is, either in reality or in conformity of word or life with reality. God's infinite knowledge is a knowledge of what really is, has been, or is possible. His justice and righteousness are true to the perfect standard of His own nature. He is faithful to His words of promise and of threatening. He cannot lie or deny Himself (Num. xxiii. 19; 2 Tim. ii. 13; Deut. xxxii. 4; Ps. c. 5; cxlvi. 6; Rev. xv. 3).

No difficulty need be felt in the exegesis of a few Scripture passages which seem to imply non-fulfillment of some divine threatenings, as Jonah iii. 4, 10; Jer. xviii. 7, 8. It is enough, in all such cases, to remember that the divine threatenings, like the divine promises, are always conditional, the issue being dependent on the question of heeding or disregarding the divine will on the part of man.

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CHAPTER III.

THE TRINITY.

The Scriptures clearly teach that there is One, and only One God, and that this One God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. To designate the great truth thus taught, theology, from its earliest days, has appropriated the word Trinity' (Greek, Tpiás, Latin, Trinitas, Triunity). Our Lutheran Church, in harmony with catholic Christianity, confesses: “The decree of the Nicene Council concerning the unity of the divine essence and of the three persons is true and without doubt to be believed, to wit: that there is one divine essence, that is called and is God, eternal, without body, indivisible, of infinite power, wisdom, goodness, the Creator and Preserver of all things, visible and invisible, and yet that there are three persons of the same essence and power, who also are co-eternal, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit."

The Trinity is a truth, the knowledge of which we

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1 First formally adopted by a Synod at Alexandria, A. D. 317. Augustine distinguishes between Trinity and Triplex, and says: “God is not to be thought of as triplex.” (“On Trinity,” Book VI., ch. vii., 8.) Gerhard follows this and says: “That is triune which, one in essence, has three modes of subsistence ; that is triplex which is compounded of three. We say God is triune, but are forbidden by the Christian religion to say that He is triplex" (threefold). Theologians, however, often ignore this distinction and use the word threefold ; not, however, in the sense of compounded of three substances, but as having a threefold mode of being. Augsburg Confession,” Art. I.

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owe purely to the revelation of the Holy Scriptures. It is not a discovery of rational theism. Natural theology cannot reach it. It can, and does, indeed, certify the existence of a Supreme Personal First Cause or Creator, and discovers some of His attributes, but evidently cannot reach the mode of His existence. He alone can reveal this. The various so-called trinities of pagan mythologies or philosophies are found to have nothing essentially in common with the Christian Trinity, being so thoroughly different in relation and conception as to show naturalistic thinking a blank as to this truth, outside of the illumination of Biblical teaching. Hence, only what the Scriptures declare or directly imply must determine the content and form of this doctrine. Even as revealed and defined according to the data of revelation, it stands in theology as a mys tery—a truth involving inscrutable features, and relations—the Báon toŮ Deoû, of 1 Cor. ii. 10. This recognition of it as a mystery by no means consents that it may be declared an absurdity, which is something self-contradictory and incredible. The Trinity merely transcends the reach of human means of full understanding—as is the case with thousands of other realities in the realm of cosmic existence about us. We accept the facts of nature, whose full truth is insoluble. So the Trinity, since divinely revealed and certified, comes within the sphere of a rational faith, with numerous deep and significant harmonies that afford ground for rational vindication.

After all the labors of Biblical scholarship in recent years, much of it under the influence of reconstruct

1 On Trinity in Chinese Religion, Legge's “Religion in China," pp. 167-189. On Hinduism, “ Religious Systems of the World" (Macmillan & Co.), pp. 115, 199; Bose!s""Hindu Philosophy,” p. 60.ive temper, we must still claim that justly interpreted the Old Testament revelation, while not explicitly teaching a Trinity of the Godhead, nevertheless truly foreshadows this divine reality. In its records of the creative work and providential administration, this is reflected through the implications of fact and language. Peculiar forms of thought and expression, here and there surprising the reader's attention, are in such deep and suggestive harmony with the full teaching of the Christian disclosures as strongly to imply that the divine Spirit of inspiration was already speaking out of the center of this great truth. It may be that a plural. ity in the Godhead may not lurk in the use of the plural term Elohim for God; but it is very significant that both “God” and “the Spirit of God” appear in the very first lines in the statement of the creation, as well as in various passages in the later Scriptures (Gen. i. 1-2; Job xxvi. 13; Ps. civ. 30; Neh. ix. 20; Isa. lxiii. 10; xlviii. 16). It looks quite like the shaping force of the yet undisclosed mystery, when the narrative phraseology represents plurality, fellowship, and counsel in the Deity (Gen. i. 26; iii. 22 ; xi. 7 ; Isa. vi. 8), or gives a threefold benediction in the Aaronic formula (Num. vi. 24-26), and the trisagion ascription of Isa. vi. 3. Nor can we rightly avoid, if we permit the New Testament revelation to shed back its light upon the preparatory dispensation, recognizing in the numerous Old Testament theophanies actual manifestations of the revealing Son before the incarnation.”

A This last seems to imply that the Divine Spirit is not an impersonal thing or influence, but a personal Being or Agent.

* See Hengstenberg, “ Christology of the Old Testament," Vol. I., Pp. 109-121 (T. & T. Clark).

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