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doxology, hymns, and creeds, the ancient Church thought there was no need to set apart one particular day for that which was done in each. This Sunday, therefore, was originally no otherwise distinguished than as an octave of Pentecost. The Church, however, in consequence of the heresies of Arius and others, who opposed this divine mystery, thought proper to order that the mystery of the Trinity should be more solemnly commemorated on a particular day..
Q. What reasons led to the institution of this particular. day for the commemoration of the mystery of the Trinity ?
A. This day was chosen in preference to any other for the more solemn commemoration of this mystery, because, after our Lord's ascension into heaven, and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon the disciples, there ensued the full knowledge of the glorious and incomprehensible doctrine of the Trinity. The Church having celebrated in order all the greater festivals, the Nativity, Epiphany, Resurrection, Ascension of our Lord, and the Descent of the Holy Ghost, concludes these solemnities with a festival of full, special, and express service to the honour of the holy, blessed, and glorious Tri. nity.
Q. Explain the lessons for the day.
A. The first lesson for the morning (Gen. i.) seems plainly to set forth three persons in the Godhead. For, besides the “ Spirit of God," which “moved upon the waters,” (ver. 2,) we find the great Creator (ver. 26) consulting with other persons of the Godhead concerning the greatest work of creation, the making of man; the creation of whom, by the almighty power of the Godhead, is recorded in the first lesson for the evening (Gen. ii.) The second lesson for the morning (Matt. iii.) contains one of the most express proofs of this mystery; for it relates at one and the same time the baptism of the Son, the declaration of the Father concerning the Son, and the descent of the Holy Ghost upon him. The second lesson for the evening (John v.) shows, that these three persons, though distinct in number, are but one in essence.
Q. What are we to believe concerning the mystery of the Holy Trinity ?
Ai We are to believe that there is but one true God everlasting, without body, parts, or passions, of infinite power, wisdom, and goodness, the Maker and Preserver of all things, both visible and invisible; and in the unity of this Godhead
there be three persons of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, Son, and the Holy Ghost."*
Q. What is meant by the word person? A. The word person signifies the essence of the Godhead, with a particular manner of subsistence. Each person of the adorable Trinity possesses the essence of the Godhead, and yet subsists in such a particular manner, that the three persons are distinct.
“ The Father is made of none, neither ereated nor begotten. The Son is of the Father alone, not made nor created, but begotten. The Holy Ghost is of the Father and the Son, neither made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding.”+
Q. Why do we believe the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ohost, to be three distinct persons in one divine nature ?
A. The Holy Scriptures, in speaking of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, distinguish them from one another, as we would in common speech distinguish three several persons. They are thus distinguished in the form of administering baptism, which is “in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" also in the apostolic benediction, “ the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost.”g
Q. How does it appear that each of these persons is God?
A. Each of these persons is God, because the names, attributes, and acts of God, are attributed to each of them in the Holy Scriptures.
Q. Where are the names, attributes, and acts of God, attributed to the second person in the blessed Trinity, the Son?
A. The names, attributes, and acts of God are, in various places, attributed unto the Son, manifested in the flesh, as Jesus Christ the Saviour. St. John says, “ the word was made flesh :"h St. Paul, that “God was manifested in the flesh;'i that “ Christ is over all, God blessed for ever."; Eternity is attributed to Jesus Christ the Son; “ the Son hath life in himself. He is the same, and his years shall not
Perfection of knowledge is attributed to him; the Father knoweth me, so know I the Father ;" as also the creation of all things; "all things were made by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.'
We are commanded to "honour the Sori, as we honour the Fa.
* Article 1. f Matt. xxviii. 19. 11 Tim. iii. 16. 1 John X. 15.
+ Athanasian Creed. g 2 Cor. xiii, 14.
h John i. 14. j Rom. ix. 5.
John v. 25; Heb, i 1%. in John i, 3.
ther." The glorified saints sing hallelujahs, as to God the Father, so also to “ the Lamb for ever and ever." And Je. sus himselfp is introduced, saying, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.”q
Q. Where are the names, attributes, and acts of God attributed to the third person in the blessed Trinity, the Holy Ghost ?
A. That the Holy Ghost is a divine person, is evident, from many passages of Scripture. “Lying to the Holy Ghost" is called “ lying unto God.". And because Christians are “the temples of the Holy Ghost," they are said to be "the temples of God." His “teaching all things;" his
guiding unto all truth;" his “ telling things to come;" his
searching all things, even the deep things of God;" his being called “the Spirit of the Lord,” in opposition to the spirit of man, are plain proofs of the divinity of the Holy Ghost.. He is joined also with God the Father, “ who will not give his glory to another," as an object of faith and worship, in baptism, and in the apostolical benediction.
Q. Do these persons constitute but one God?
A. Though the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost do each of them partake of the divine nature, yet there is but one Goch The Trinity, in Unity is to be worshipped; "the Lord our God is one Lord." "Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God of hosts."u; Q. Is there any subordination among
of the Trinity ?
Ai The persons of the adorable Trinity are all co-equal; and co-eternal. In respect to power and glory
none is afore or after other, none is greater or less than another." The only subordination is that of order, the Son being “begotten of the Father," and the Holy Ghost "proceeding from the Father and the Son.", Christ is called the “only. begotten Son of God.”v. And the Holy Ghost is said to be the Spirit of the Father, and of the Son.w
Q. Wherein consists the mystery of the blessed Trinity ?
A. The mystery of the Trinity consists in our not being able to comprehend the manner of the existence of the three persons in the same divine nature,
Q. Is it reasonable to believe things concerning God which we cannot comprehend ?
n John v. 23.
o Rev. vii. 10. 9 Rev, xxii. 13.
r. Aets v. 3, 4, t. Deut. vi. 4.
u Isa. vi. 3. w Rom, viii. 11; Gal. iv. 6.
Rev, xxij. 16. SI Cor. ij. 16. v Jonn iii. les
A. The divine nature is infinite, and, consequently, above our comprehension ; and, therefore, there can be no ground from reason to reject ang doctrine which God has revealed concerning his ineffable nature, though it be very mysterious, and the manner of it incomprehensible by us.
Q. Is it not a contradiction to say, that each of the divine persons is God, and yet that there are not three Gods, but one God?
A. It is not said that the divine persons are one and three in the same respect--they are one as substance; they are three as to manner of subsistence. The divine essence is that alone which makes God; that can be but one ; and therefore there can be no more Gods than one. But because the Scriptures, which assure us of the unity of the divine essence, do likewise, with the Father, join the Son and the Holy Ghost in the same attributes, operations, and worship; therefore we believe that they are distinct as to the relation which they bear to each other, but not as to their essence, which is but one.
Q. Are we then bound to believe doctrines of Christianity which we cannot comprehend ?
A. It is a true distinction, that things may be above our reason, without being contrary to it. Of this kind are, the nature, the power, the universal presence of God. The most common operations of nature, the growth of an animal, a plant, or of the smallest seed, are mysteries to the wisest among men.
The manner whereby the soul and body are united, and how they are distinguished, is as great a mystery as that of the Trinity. God will never require us to believe what is absolutely contradictory, either to our senses, or our reason. But every truth relating to his divine nature must necessarily be above our reason. Yet all these truths, if they come attested with proper evidence, we are bound to receive. The mystery attending them is no reason for rejecting them. For if we disbelieve the existence of whatever As incomprehensible, we shall be led into universal doubt and scepticism.
Q. What then is the use of reason in religion?
A. By reason we try the evidence and proof of revealed religion. The only proper exercise of reason in a Christian, is to inquire and examine, whether what is proposed and rea quired to be believed, is revealed by God; whether it comes with the true credentials of his authority, and hath him really for its author. When convinced of the authority of divine
revelation, reason assists us to discern and ascertain its true and genuine sense; to illustrate and enforce its doctrines; and to apply the general rules contained in it to all special
Reason itself would dictate to us to receive every doctrine revealed by God, though it may be above our comprehension. For God is infinitely wise and omniscient, and therefore cannot be deceived; and being infinitely good, we may be sure he will not deceive us.
Q. Is not the doctrine of the Trinity a practical doctrine, and closely interwoven with the principles of the Christian life?
A. The doctrine of the Trinity is a practical doctrine, and closely interwoven with the principles of the Christian life. There are no motives to obedience more affecting or more endearing than the love of God the Father, in sending his beloved Son to redeem us; and the love and condescension of God the Son, in submitting to be sent. To deny the divinity of Christ alters the very foundations of Christianity, and destroys all the powerful motives drawn from the love, the humility, and condescension of our blessed Lord, which are the peculiar motives of the Gospel. The doctrine of the atonement is necessarily connected with the doctrine of the Trinity. It is not possible for the blood of any creature to: take away the sins of the world; since no creature can do more than his duty, nor can he have any stock of merit to spare for other creatures. The Scriptures assure us, that it was Jehovah who was pierced ;* it was God who purchased the Church with his own blood ;y it was the High Lord who bought us ;z it was the Lord of glory who was crucified. Whoever, therefore, denies the divinity of Christ, overthrows the doctrine of the alonement, and consequently leaves the penalty of the divine law, which we have violated, in full force against us. The doctrine of the Trinity, too, is closely interwoven with the doctrine of divine grace and assistance : for if the Holy Spirit be a creature, and if a creature be the only instrument and principle of grace, we shall soon be tempted, either to deny the grace of God, or to make it only an external thing, and entertain a very low opinion of its power and efficacy. The doctrine of the Trinity therefore is interwoven with the very frame and texture of the Christian system, with the whole scheme and economy of man's redemption.* x Zech. xii. 10, compared with John xix. 37. y Acts XX. 28.
a I Cor. ii. 8; compare 1 John i. 7; Heb. ix. 14. *The practical nature and tendency of the doctrine of the Trinity, are
22 Peter ï. ).