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next, that it is our indispensable duty, fairly and diligently to examine it, in order to a thorough information in points, wherein the whole system of that faith, that worship, and that obedience, to which we are bound by our baptismal vow, is founded.
On the whole, it cannot be less than absolutely necessary, that all Christians, that is, all who by baptism take on them the profession of Christianity, should know the Father, from whom they, the whole universe, and the true religion itself, derive their very being ; that all Christians should know the Son, or Christ, and him crucified,' and that they should, with St. Paul, 'count all things but loss, for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus their Lord;' and that all Christians should know the Holy Spirit, by whom the prophets, apostles, and even Christ himself, wrought all their miracles, who inspired all the penmen of the holy Scriptures, and who, by his grace, regenerating and sanctifying the whole church, finishes the great work of salvation.
Having said enough to prove the importance of this knowledge, and to shew the necessity of it, in order to baptism and the Christian covenant, it is now time to shew, in the second place, what it is, and who those persons really are, in whose name we are baptized.
It is agreed on all hands, that the first is true, real, and eternal God, and that God, or the divine nature, is incomprehensible. But whether, either the second or the third person, is as truly and really God, or not, is disputed.
Had nothing farther been revealed in holy Scripture concerning these two persons but what is intimated in the form of baptism, we must have concluded, that as to the mere act of covenanting, we ought to judge the authority of all the persons to be equal in that act, since they are mentioned simply, and without any marks of distinction, in the form itself. If a covenant is made between three contracting parties, thus simply mentioned, on the one side, and a single party on the other, the last will never be able to see any reason in such covenant for his depending more on any one of the three for the performance, than on the other two; if this covenant is a voluntary grant given in the joint name of all the three, whereby the other single party is to hold a va
luable title, or enjoy considerable privileges, that single party thus endowed, will never be able to see any reason, why he should think himself more obliged in gratitude to love any one of the three, than the other two. And farthe, if in consideration of this tithe, and these privileges, he is by virtue of the covenant bound to any services, thus simply contracted for in behalf of all the three, he will never be able, from the tenor of such a covenant, to see a reason, why he should serve or obey any one of the three parties, preferably to the rest.
This reasoning would be sound and just, although the covenant should run plurally in the names of three persons granting and covenanting on the one part;
part; but grows still stronger when it is expressed singularly in the name of all the three, for, in this case, either a unity of nature or authority, or rather of both, as it is irrational and impious to admit the one in this case without the other, infers a unity of gratitude, love, dependence, and obedience, that is, one worship, due from the other covenanting party, to all.
It is farther to be observed, that as the authority whereby we are baptized into this covenant is one, and the name also whereinto we are baptized (such is the expression in the original Greek) is one name, so consequently, in plain construction, that name ought to stand for one being, that one being which constitutes the first and second persons, John x. 30, and includes the third, namely, 'the Spirit of the Father,' Matt. x. 20, and 'the Spirit of the Son,' Gal. iv. 6, • which three are one,' 1 John v.7.
If therefore the Christian covenant is the gift of God, who can neither deceive, nor be deceived, all persons who are baptized, are taught by the form of the covenant itself, to render to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, an equal degree of dependence, love, and obedience, unless what is not distinguished in the form, is plainly distinguished elsewhere in the word of God. If such distinction is not elsewhere made, it will follow from the authoritative form of the covenant itself, given by God himself, either that the Son and the Holy Ghost are, each of them, true and real God, or that the true and real God hath solemnly authorized the worship of two creatures upon a level with himself, because, for any thing ihat appears in the covenant, the dependence, love, and obedience contracted for in that covenant, must be equal in kind and degree, must be the very same, and must be the highest that can possibly be paid, inasmuch as they are confessedly due from all Christians, by virtue of the covenant itself, to the true and real God. To ascribe a covenant like this to the God of all majesty and truth, whereby God and two creatures are to be believed in, loved, obeyed, and worshipped on a level, is, I think, as high an instance of absurdity and blasphemy in one, as the enemy of God could inspire. But, to avoid the wickedness of supposing, that God, contrary to his own declaration, hath actually 'given his honour to another,' to two others, to two creatures, and commanded all men to honour the Son, even as they honour the Father,' though infinitely different in dignity of nature; it will be our business carefully to inquire, whether these scriptural expressions are not to be taken in the common obvious sense of the words; whether the terms, 'God,' and 'worship,' when applied to the Father and the other persons, are equivocal; and whether the Father hath any where in his word, either from himself, or by his Son, or his Holy Spirit, taught us to make the important and necessary distinction between his own divine, and their created natures, and between the love, dependence, and worship, which we ought to pay to him alone, and the respect he allows us to pay to two of his creatures so highly dignified. I call this an important distinction, because, of all things, we ought to know the object of divine worship; and I call it a necessary distinction, because, without it, we might be tempted 'to turn the truth of God into a lie, and to worship the creature,' rather than the Creator.' Now nothing was easier than for the Scriptures to tell us, once for all, that although Christ and the Holy Ghost are set forth in very exalted lights by revelation, yet we are to know, that neither of them is God, nor to be worshipped by prayer as God; or at least, that they are but inferior delegated Gods, and to be worshipped only as such, only as mere representatives of the one true and supreme God. This would have prevented all doubts and disputes on the most important point by far of our whole religion; and this, I say it again, and beg it may be well considered, was as easy as it was absolutely necessary. If therefore neither the second nor the third person in the Trinity is God, nor to be worshipped as true and real God, the Scriptures must roundly and plainly tell us so, or they cannot be the word of God, for 'God neither deceiveth, nor tempteth any man.' I beg it may be farther considered, that as mankind, from the beginning, and throughout all ages, have been wonderfully prone to worship the creature, as well as, or even more, than the Creator; and as God, throughout the Scriptures, hath left no expedient unemployed to prevent this unhappy and damnable apostacy of men; we might by all means expect to find the characters of the Son and the Holy Spirit, supposing them only creatures, set forth in those Scriptures in the lowest lights their real natures could with truth admit of, rather than in such as are too high. Yet here, in the very institution of baptism, in the solemn form of the new covenant, in that strict and guarded form of words which introduces us to, and comprehends the whole of the Gospel, they are set forth as equal with the Father, equal in authority, equal in their respective contributions to the work of our salvation, and consequently as equal objects of our faith, our gratitude, our love, and our adoration; and in other parts of Scripture are frequently styled God.
But if, after all, there is any room left for doubt about this matter, to the Scriptures at large we ought to go for the farther explanation of a form so short, that we may see, whether their Divine Author hath therein actually represented the three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, as one only God; or given us reason to believe that we have in baptism covenanted for forgiveness of sins, and eternal salvation, equally with God and two creatures, with the one only infinite Being, and two infinitely inferior beings, and that by the express appointment of God himself.
Now, it is evident, at first sight, to every Deist, and indeed to every thinking Christian, that God could not possibly have done the latter; and his word, if candidly consulted, will glaringly prove, he hath actually done the former.
We shall readily own indeed, that Christ frequently speaks of himself, and is spoken of by the apostles as suborainate, and in some sense, inferior to the Father. But, at the same time, nothing can be more plain, than that he is only subordinate, as every son should be to his father, and only inferior in respect to his human nature. This hath been a thousand times fully proved ; but we shall see presently, that it needs no proof.
We likewise as freely confess, that the Holy Ghost is sometimes spoken of in Scripture, with marks of subordination, as sent by the Father and the Son, and as not speaking of himself, but speaking whatsoever he heareth, and as taking that which belongeth to Christ, and shewing it unto the disciples. That these things derogate by no means from his nature, but only shew that he acts voluntarily in subordination to the Father, the fountain of the Godhead, and to Jesus Christ, the proprietor, by right of purchase, of all things, hath been often clearly proved, though here again I venture to say, there was no necessity for such proof; for,
In respect both to the Son and the Holy Ghost, it is to be observed, first, that the holy Scripture nowhere denies either of them to be God; and secondly, that, in many places, it affirms each of them to be God. If that can be made appear, then it will follow, that no obscure or indirect expression, though found in the same Scriptures, can be so interpreted, as to prove either of them not to be God, in contradiction to the plain and positive affirmations of God; it will also from hence appear, that the equality wherewith they seem to be proposed in the form of baptism, is a true and real equality, both of nature and authority. If it shall likewise be proved, that the word of God denies the being of any God, or any object of divine worship, but one, whom mankind may fall down before, and to whom they may offer sacrifice or prayer ; then it will necessarily follow, that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are not three distinct Gods, but one only God; and lastly, it will necessarily follow from the express affirmation of God, and from his positive institution of baptism, that we are consecrated, in that solemn sacrament, to the service of the ever blessed and holy Trinity, by faith in a mystery which we may easily understand, so far as it is proposed to our apprehensions, but can never account for, because the divine nature is incomprehensible to all created minds. Whosoever hath so much sense, not to say modesty, as to confess that God is incomprehensible to his mind, will find no difficulty in a conse