« PreviousContinue »
tion,) equal unto himself in benignity of nature and power of operation; who, with the Parent source of good, should ever live, and reign, and act, as one benevolent, throughout the intellectual system of the boundless universe-rather than to suppose the Deity a solitary being, or that He only conversed with intelligents greatly inferior to himself, which the very highest orders of angelic beings are uniformly represented to be. "God, we are told in Scripture, is love; but love always attaches itself to its object. It is not compatible with love to be selfish and solitary; it delights in assimilation:"* and the felicity of an infinitely perfect being can only be rendered infinitely perfect, by assimilating with infinitely perfect beings; or could any thing but perfection act in perfect co-operation with perfection? Does not the Deity appear infinitely amiable, by this assimilation of ineffable love? and must not the felicity of the Godhead be rendered infinitely perfect by such association? or can we suppose, that this communication is an unimportant one to us? No, it above all others teemeth with consolation; it is the very communication, which above all others assures us of the exceeding greatness of God's love to us. "For in this was manifested the love of God towards us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him." (1 John iv. 9.) It is the communication which clearly demonstrates the indispensable necessity of evil for the production of excessive good; for had not this irrefragable
necessity existed, we cannot suppose the blessed Son of God, in bliss eternally embosomed with his benignant Father, would have with him ordained the liability of degradation to intelligents, when He, by such ordination himself incurred the liability, nay, to omniscience the certainty involved in the eternal purpose of paternal Deity, that in the dread event of exemplified evil, his beloved Son would be himself compelled to endure the extremest degree of possible evil,* when overcoming evil by good; for the achievements of an infinite being must ever correspond with his infinitude. And the highest degree of possible evil could alone be endured by him, who was in possession of the highest degree of possible good: therefore, nothing short of Deity could in its infinite extent, fulfil the infinite plan. What shall we say then to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall He not with him also freely give us all things?
This is the communication which above all others leads us to search into the sacred volume, which contains the blessed words of everlasting life, and elevates our minds in contemplation on the wisest, best, and highest of all objects, the glorious Deity, whom to know is eternal life, and who, in wondrous condescension, commands himself for the grand object of our feeble imitation. Be ye therefore perfect, as your Father in
* This subject will be further considered hereafter.
On the extent of Christ's atonement we shall futurely inquire.
heaven is perfect; and this is the communication from which (if any) we are enabled to comprehend the breadth, and length, and depth, and height of the unbounded love of Christ; though a full comprehension can never be (at least, on earth) obtained; for, as the apostle well observes, "the love of Christ does far surpass all knowledge." It is, however, a source of tender consolation within the reach of human understanding to reflect, that our blessed advocate is ever in the bosom of his benignant Father.
This is likewise the communication from whence we learn, that it is through the agency of a third glorious person concentrated in deity, that God acts upon and illuminates the dark mind of man; and this agency is represented in Scripture as essential to our minds. The Holy Ghost, we are expressly told, is given to profit withal, how diversified soever are his blessed operations. To suppose, indeed, that God would leave the mind of man uninfluenced, that pure etherial essence, that blessed emanation from his blessed self, is alike irrational and unphilosophical: "Men do not controvert the received systems of natural philosophy; they believe the attraction of gravitation, cohesion, magnetism, and electricity; but in this there is no visible agency, no sensible efflux, influx, or impulse. Yet they believe it, and certainly with reason; but why should they think that God acts thus on matter comparatively vile, and leave mind uninfluenced, which must be said to approach in its nature to divinity, (if man can conceive any thing of divine,) and which has
an inbred tendency to assimilate with its like. The Spirit of that God who is love, still unites itself with man, for whom it has already shown so much affectionate regard in the creation and redemption.
"The doctrine of God's total inaction in the moral and intellectual world, is irreligious and unphilosophical; the wisest heathens exploded it, and it is refuted in the strongest language of Scripture, which expressly teaches us, that the ministration of the Spirit, co-operating on the heart of man with the written word, is to continue its energy to the end of time. The Spirit of God is every where present, like the air which we inhale; it is no less necessary to intellectual life, than the air to animal.
"There is a remarkable passage apposite to the present subject, in the meditations of Antoninus, which I shall give in the translation of Collier, and as it is quoted by Delany: Let your soul,' says the philosopher, receive the Deity as your blood does the air; for the influences of the one are no less vital than the other. This correspondence is very practicable; for there is an ambient, omnipresent Spirit, which lies as open and pervious to your mind as the air you breathe does to your lungs but then you must remember to be disposed to draw it: if,' continues Dr. Delany, 'this gracious gift of heaven should be denied, because it is not found to dwell with the wicked, I answer, that men may as well deny the existence of the dew, because it is not often found upon clods and filth, nor even upon grass tram
pled with polluted feet. Let the grace of God be considered as having some analogy, some resemblance to the dew of heaven, which falls alike upon all objects below it, as the grace of God doth upon all mankind, but resteth not upon things defiled; purity abideth not with pollution. There is an elemental fire, the electrical fluid is diffused through all nature; though unseen, its energy is mighty. So also the divine Spirit actuates the intellectual word-omnipresent, irresistible, invisible.""*
And our divine teacher himself compares the operations of the Spirit to one of the most powerful, though invisible agents of nature-the wind:
The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth; so is every one that is born of the Spirit." (John iii. 8.) Now, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, united as they are by nearness of relationship, bands of closest affinity, and sameness of nature, ever acting as one good, wise, intelligent, in unanimity of purpose, and greatness of operation—may very justly be denominated one Lord, and undoubtedly are in Scripture denominated one Lord, (Deut. vi. 4,) one glorious Trinity, though they were not united in one indissoluble essence.
We shall now examine holy writ on this mysterious subject; requesting our readers' indulgence for the so immediate repetition of passages already inserted; but which, we think, will more clearly elicit the real sense of Scripture on the * Knox's Christian Philosophy.