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bably soon removed. This circumstance, therefore, only serves to show the scrupulous fidelity of the sacred historians, who, like honest men, fairly tell you every thing that passed on this and on similar occasions, whether it appears to make for them or against them.

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth."

In his divine nature he had this power from all eternity; but it was now to be exercised in his human nature also, which, from a state of humiliation, from the form of a servant, was soon to be exalted to the highest dignity, and placed at the right hand of God. Accordingly, St. Paul informs us, that "God raised our Lord from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but in that which is to come; and put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all*." And again, in his Epistle to the Philippians, he says, that "God has highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father t." In the same magnificent language he is spoken of in the book of Revelations: "Worthy is the Lamb, that was slain, to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." And again, "Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb, for ever and ever‡."

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Such is the dignity of the Lord and Master whom we serve; and such is that authority with which, in the two concluding verses of this chapter, he gives his last command to his apostles: "Go ye, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost; teaching them to observe all things whatever I have commanded you: and, lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world."

The ceremony, then, by which our Lord's disciples were to be admitted into his religion, was baptism. This

Ephes. i, 20-23. * Philipp. ii, 9-11. + Rev. v, 12, 13.

was sometimes used by the Jews on the admission of proselytes, and by the heathens on initiation into their mysteries. But the baptism of Christians was to be accompanied with a peculiar form of words, which distinguished it from every other. They were to be baptized "in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." This form of words has accordingly been used in the Christian church from the earliest times down to the present; and is, as you all know, the mode of baptism adopted and constantly practised by the church of England; and it is remarkable, not only on this account, but as being also one principal ground of a very distinguished doctrine of the Gospel, and of the church of England, the doctrine of the Trinity. For the plain and natural interpretation of the words is, that by being baptized in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, we are dedicated and consecrated equally to the service of each of those three Divine Persons; we are made the servants and disciples of each, and are consequently bound to honour, worship, and obey each of them equally. This evidently implies an equality in their nature; "that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in each." In confirmation of this, we find, in various parts of Scripture, that all the attributes of Divinity are ascribed to each. And yet, as the unity of the Supreme Being is everywhere taught in the same Scriptures, and is a fundamental article of our religion, we are naturally led to conclude with our church, in its first article, "That there is but one living and true God, of infinite power and wisdom, the maker and preserver of all things visible and invisible; and that, in the unity of this Godhead, there are three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."

That this is a very mysterious doctrine we do not deny; but it is not more so than many other doctrines of the Christian revelation, which we all admit, and which we cannot reject without subverting the foundation, and destroying the very substance and essence of our religion. The miraculous birth and incarnation of our blessed Lord, his union of the human nature with the divine, his redemption of mankind, and his expiation of their sins by his death upon the cross: these are doc-trines plainly taught in Scripture, and yet as incomprehensible to our finite understandings as the doctrine of three persons and one God. But what we contend for in

all these instances is, that these mysteries, although confessedly above our reason, are not contrary to it. This is a plain and a well-known distinction, and in the present case an incontrovertible one. No one, for instance, can say, that the supposition of three persons and one God is contrary to reason. We cannot, indeed, comprehend such a distinction in the Divine nature; but, unless we knew perfectly what that nature is, it is impossible for us to say that such a distinction may not subsist in it consistent with its unity. The truth is, on a subject where we have no clear ideas at all, our reasoning faculties must fail us, and we must be content to submit (as well we may) to the clear and explicit declarations of holy writ. It is, indeed, natural for the hnman mind to wish, that every thing in religion should be intelligible and plain, and that there should be no difficulties to perplex and stagger our faith. But, natural as this wish may be, is it a reasonable one? Do we find, that in the most important concerns of the present life, in those where our most essential interests, our property, our welfare, our health, our reputation, our very life, are at stake, that no difficulties, no perplexities, no intricacies occur; that everything is plain and level before us, and that we are never at a loss how to act, what opinion to form, or what course to take! There are few, I fancy, here present, whose experience has not taught them, to their cost, the very reverse of all this. If, then, even in the ordinary affairs of life, there is so much difficulty, doubt, and obscurity, how can we wonder to find it in religion also, in those inquiries that relate to an invisible world and an invisible Being, to the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity?"


And let it never be forgotten, that mysteries are not (as is often insinuated, and often taken for granted) peculiar to the Christian religion. They belong to all religions, even to that which is generally supposed to be of all others the least encumbered with difficulties, pure Deism? or, as it is sometimes called, the religion of nature, of reason, or of philosophy.

* "So far is it from being true (as some one has said), that where mystery begins, religion ends; that religion, even natural religion, begins with a mystery, with the greatest of all mysteries, the selfexistence and eternity of God. Let any one tell us how an eternity can be past, unless it was once present, and how that can be once present, which never had a beginning."-Seed's Sermons, vol. ii, ser. vii, p. 459.

Who, for instance, can grasp, with the utmost stretch of his understanding, the idea of an Eternal Being; of a Being, whose existence never had any beginning, and never will have an end? Where is the man, whose thoughts are not lost and confounded in contemplating the immensity of a God, who is intimately present to every part of the universe; who sees, with equal clearness, a kingdom perish and a sparrow fall, and to whom every thought of our hearts is perfectly well known* ?

Who can reconcile that foreknowledge of future and contingent events, which is an unquestionable attribute of the Almighty, with that free will and free agency, which are no less unquestionable properties of man? Who, in fine, can account, on the principles of mere natural religion, for the introduction of natural and moral evil into the works of a benevolent Creator, whose infinite goodness must necessarily incline him to intend the happiness of all his creatures?

These considerations may serve to show, and it might be shown in various other cases, that it is in vain to expect an exemption from difficulty and mystery in any religion whatever. The real truth is, that not only the religion of nature, but the philosophy of nature, the works of nature, the whole face of nature, are full of mystery; we live and move in the midst of mystery t.

* "J'apperçois Dieu partout dans ses œuvres. Je le sens en moi, je le vois tout autour de moi; mais sitôt que je veux le contempler en lui même, sitôt que je veux chercher où il est, ce qu'il est, quelle est sa substance, il m'echappe, & mon esprit troublé n'apperçoit plus rien. Rousseau, v. viii, p. 32. Enfin plus je m'efforce de contempler son essence infinie, moins je la conçois; mais elle est, cela me suffit; moins je la conçois, plus je l'adore.

I have cited these fine passages from the eloquent Rousseau in his own language (for no translation can do justice to them), because no arguments are so convincing as those which are drawn from the concessions of sceptics themselves, which fall from them incidentally and undesignedly; and because the sentiments here quoted stand in direct contradiction to that writer's cavils in other places against the Christian mysteries. For if, notwithstanding the difficulties which attend the contemplation of the Deity himself, he firmly believes his existence, on what ground can he make his Savoyard vicar doubt the truth of the Gospel on account of its mysteries?-Vol. viii, p. 93. †This, M. Voltaire himself acknowledges; and it is a complete answer to all the objections he has made in various parts of his works to the mysteries of Revelation. See Questions sur l'Encyclopedie, art. Ame.

"The whole intellectual world is full of truths incomprehensible,

And if, to avoid this, we have recourse to Atheism itself, even that will be found to be more encumbered with difficulties, and to require a greater degree of faith than all the religions in the world put together.

Let not then the mysteries of the Gospel ever be a rock of offence to you, or in any degree shake the constancy of your faith. They are inseparable from any religion that suited to the nature, to the wants, and to the fallen state of such a creature as man. When once we are convinced that the Scriptures are the word of God, we are then bound to receive with implicit submission, on the sole authority of that word, those sublime truths, which are far beyond the reach of any finite understanding, but which it was natural and reasonable to expect in a revelation pertaining to that incomprehensible Being, whose "greatness is unsearchable, and whose ways are past finding out." Let us not, in short, "exercise ourselves too much and too curiously in great matters, which are too high for us, but refrain our souls, and keep them low*.' Laying aside all the superfluity of learning, and all the pride of human wisdom, let us hold fast the profession of our faith, without wavering, and without cavilling at what we cannot comprehend. Let us put ourselves, without reserve, into the hands of our heavenly Guide, and submit with boundless confidence to his direction, who, as he died to save us, will certainly never mislead us. Since we know in whom we believe; since we know that the author of our religion is the Son of God, let us never forget that this gives him a right, a divine right, to the obedience of our understandings, as well as to the obedience of our will. Let us therefore resolutely beat down every bold imagination, every high thing that exalteth itself against the mysterious truths of the Gospel; bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ, and receiving" with meekness the ingrafted word, which is able to save our soulst."

Yet, however firmly we may believe all the great essential doctrines of the Gospel, this alone will not ensure our salvation, unless to our faith we add obedience to all the laws of Christ. This we are expressly told in

and yet incontestible. Such is the doctrine of the existence of God, and such are the mysteries admitted in Protestant communions." Rousseau, vol. ii, p. 15.

* Psalm cxxxi, 2, 3.

+ James i, 21.

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