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The German goddess, Trygla, was drawn in the same
'The Gauls also united their gods in triple groupes, in a manner generally similar, as is evident from sculptures either now or lately remaining.
(10.) The Japanese and Chinese anciently acknowledged a triad.
The great image of the Japanese is one form, with three heads; generally resembling that of Brahma, Veeshnu, and Seeva, already described as worshipped by the Hindoos. The Chinese worshipped in ancient times one supreme God without images, or symbols of any kind. This worship lasted until after the death of Confucius, about five hundred years before the birth of Christ.
Lao Kiun, the celebrated founder of one of the philosophical or religious sects in China, delivered this as the great leading doctrine of his philosophy, "That the eternal Reason produced one; one produced two; two produced three; and three produced all things."
(11.) The American nations also have in several instances acknowledged a triad.
The Iroquois hold, that before the creation three spirits existed, all of whom were employed in creating mankind.
The Peruvians adored a triad, whom they styled, The father and lord Sun, the son Sun, and the brother Sun.
In Cuquisaco, a province of Peru, the inhabitants worshipped an image named Tangatanga, which in their language signifies, One in three, and three in one.
Thus have I finished this numerous collection of testimonies to the great scriptural doctrine of the Trinity. The labour employed in making it has, I hope, not been useless. In a serious mind it cannot I think fail to produce, not conviction only, but astonishment and delight, to see the wonderful manner in which God has diffused and perpetuated the evidence of this doctrine throughout the successive periods of time. The testimonies of the Jewish and Christian churches are complete and irresistible. We are not to expect that, amid all the ignorance of heathenism, correct and unobjectionable ideas of God should be found in any nation.
But when we consider that the doctrine of a triad has been
so evidently received without a question in all the four quarters of the globe, and by so many different nations; that it was received among almost all those who were ancient; that it was received independently of the Scriptures; that it was expressed in so many forms, and those completely decisive as to the real meaning; that the scheme in all these forms was unanswerably the union of three divine beings (or persons,) in one; and that this scheme was so often and so definitely explained in multiplied and very various modes of expression, modes of expression too which are incapable of being misconstrued; we cannot I think fail to determine, that the doctrine of the Trinity was originally revealed to the human race; and has almost everywhere been conveyed down, both in their worship, and their sacred traditions.
THE AGENT: HIS AGENCY.
NOT BY WORKS OF RIGHTEOUSNESS WHICH WE HAVE DONE, BUT ACCORDING TO HIS MERCY HE SAVED US, BY THE WASHING OF REGENERATION, AND THE RENEWING OF THE HOLY GHOST.
TITUS III. 5.
IN a preceding Discourse, I proposed to enter upon an inquiry into the great subject of Regeneration under two principal heads :
I. The agent in this work.
II. The work itself.
The former of these subjects I proposed to discuss under these heads:
I. The character of the Agent.
II. His agency.
The character of the agent I have already examined.
In investigating his agency I propose to consider,
II. Its nature.
III. Its necessity.
IV. The objections to it.
It will be observed that I here take it for granted, that mankind are, in some instances, really regenerated; reserving the proof of this doctrine to a future occasion, when I shall come to the discussion of the second thing originally proposed;
viz. The work of regeneration. In discoursing on collateral subjects of theology, or of any other science, it is, not very unfrequently, necessary to suppose one or more of them for the time allowed, to preclude useless embarrassment in the discussion of the others. This, however, is to be done only for the time, and only for the purpose which has been specified. It is no part of my design in this system to take any point in theology for granted; nor to expect the belief of any doctrine alleged by me, unless the arguments adduced to support it shall be found solid and convincing. Nor do I ever intend to consider any thing as granted by those who differ from me, unless I suppose it to be really granted by them. If there be found in this System of Discourses any thing contrary to these principles, I hope it will be considered as the result of inattention and error on my own part; for no departure from them will receive any justification from me.
With these things premised, I shall now proceed to a consideration of,
The fact, that the Holy Ghost is the agent in the regeneration of man.
It will be easily seen that the proof of this position must be derived from the Scriptures; and that all the evidence concerning it furnished by reason and experience must be merely auxiliary, and cannot, in the nature of the case, be decisive. From the Scriptures then I shall proceed to allege such proofs of this doctrine, as to me appear satisfactory.
1. I argue this doctrine from declarations of the Scriptures. The text is one of these declarations.
In this passage we are said to be saved by the washing of regeneration, and the renewing of the Holy Ghost.' The word ' renewing' is an exact translation of the original word in this place. To renew signifies, as you well know, to make new, or to make over again. This operation is here ascribed to the Holy Ghost in as simple and unambiguous terms as are possible.
John i. 12, 13, is another example of the same nature. But to as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God; even to them that believe on his name. Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh. nor of the will of man, but of God.'
In this passage of Scripture it is asserted, that the birth by which mankind become the sons of God, is derived not from blood,' or natural descent; nor from the will of the flesh; nor from the will of man; that is, not from human contrivance and determination in any form: but from God.' It is difficult to conceive how this doctrine could be more clearly asserted. But if those who sustain this character are born of God, they are born of the Spirit of God. For our Saviour, discoursing on this subject in chap. iii. ver. 5, 6, says, Except a man be born of water, and of the Spirit, he cannot see the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh, is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit, is spirit.' Here the persons said in the former passage to be born of God, are declared by our Saviour to be born of the Spirit; and that which is born of the Spirit is declared alone to be spiritual. So far as I can see, these passages in the most decisive manner assert regeneration to be exclusively the work of the Spirit of God.
In this passage, also, that which is born of the flesh is' declared to be flesh;' that is, whatever proceeds from a fleshly source partakes of its fleshly nature. The word flesh' is customarily used in the Scriptures to denote the native character of man. In this sense 'the carnal,' or fleshly' mind is declared by St. Paul to be enmity against God, not subject to his law, neither indeed capable of being subject to it.' In the same sense, the same apostle says, ' In me, that is, in my flesh,' or natural character, dwelleth no good thing.'
A contrast is studiously run between that which proceeds from the Spirit, and that which proceeds from the flesh; or, to use the words of our Saviour, in the passage above quoted, between that which is flesh, and that which is spirit, in several passages of Scripture. To be carnally minded,' says St. Paul, is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace,' Rom. viii. 6. In the Original, The minding of the flesh is death; but the minding of the Spirit is life and peace.' And again, Gal. v. 19-23, Now the works of the flesh are manifest, which are these; Adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lasciviousness, idolatry, witchcraft, hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, murders, drunkenness, revellings, and such like; of the which I tell you before, as I have also told you in time past, that they which