« AnteriorContinuar »
doctrine of the Trinity that no ingenuity can set aside. It is very certain that the Father is a person, and the Son a person, and hence it must follow that the Holy Ghost also is a person, and thus we have three persons presented to us. But these three are in another sense one, for but one Name is ascribed to them. If they were distinct natures as well as distinct persons, baptism would have been in their names, and not their name. But there is ascribed to the three only a single Name, which here, as elsewhere, denotes the essence of the Being to whom it is attached. This fact proves that whilst in personal distinctions they are three, so that personal names and actions may be ascribed to each, yet in essence and nature they are one, so that but a single Name can be rightly ascribed to this mysterious and adorable Nature. Hence we have here the proclamation of the ineffable Name of that great Being, who appeared to the Patriarchs as the Almighty God, the Elohim ; to the chosen seed, as Jehovah, the I AM of his own people; but to those who live under the third great dispensation of the covenant, as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, three persons, but one God-three persons, the same in substance, but equal in power and glory. This however is the doctrine of the Trinity.
3. They were to teach the disciples thus baptized, all that Jesus commanded them. “Teaching them to
observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you."
These words imply a promise of plenary inspiration, for they constitute the apostles the vehicles through which the commands of Jesus are to be transmitted to us. Now, as these commands are to be kept on pain of the most fearful condemn. ation, we cannot conceive it possible that our Lord would not secure a transmission of them that would be infallible. To ordain a law, the violation of which involves the severest penalty, and yet make no provision for the certain and infallible record of that law, would be a refinement of cruelty that can never be charged on the kingdom of Christ. Hence we have here a formal investiture of the apostles with that high function of conveying Christ's words to the world in speech and writing, from which we have the inspired scriptures of the New Testament.
We have here presented to us the great function of the ministry. It is to teach the world all things that Christ has commanded. It is not to teach systems of politics, of philosophy, or of art, but to teach the commands of Cbrist in all the forms in which he has delivered them, to preach the gospel, unmingled with either the frozen traditions of the past, or the fiery fạnaticisms of the present.
We have in these three clauses of the apostolic commission a recognition of the three offices which
Christ executes as our Redeemer. When men are "made disciples,” there is recognized his Prophetic office, by which he is the great Teacher of the will of God for the salvation of men. When they are “baptized as disciples," unto remission of sins, there is a recognition of his Priestly office, by which this remission is purchased and applied, and through which the gift of the sanctifying Spirit was procured and sent into the world. When they are “ taught as disciples,” to observe all the commands of Christ, there is an acknowledgment of his Kingly office, by virtue of which he has the right to command, and we are bound to obey all that he has thus commanded. Thus Christ is set forth in all the wondrous and mani. fold riches of his character and offices, as the great subject of gospel preaching, the great object of gospel faith, and the great end of gospel obedience. Men in their ignorance must be led to him to know the way of approach to God; in their guilt, to receive forgiveness and acceptance; and in their weakness to receive strength and guidance; 80 that Christ must be to them the Alpha and Omega, the centre and circumference of a complete and full-orbed piety.
III. We have the encouragement given to those who are to execute this commission. “Lo! I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world.”
The encouragement is the perpetual presence
of Christ. We are prone to think of Jesus as a being of eighteen hundred years ago, or at least as a resident in heaven, and to attach the idea of distance and separation to him. This prevents us from feeling his influence with that real and living power that ought to accompany it. When we think of one as dead or distant, we cease to feel his personal power as we do when we think of him as near and living. Hence it is that our Lord assures us that he is neither dead nor distant, but near us, with us, and with us at all times and places of the future.
There are two peculiarities of expression here that deserve notice. The first is the mode in which he speaks of his presence. He does not say, I will be with you always, but I am with you, developing thus the fact that he spake as the Divine Redeemer, that eternal and self-existent Being, to whom there is neither future nor past, but one unchanging, eternal now. The promise to be with them always to the end of the world, implies that it was not addressed to them as individuals merely, but as representatives of the church, for they were not to live always, to the end of the world. This proves at once the perpetuity of the church, and the divinity of the Saviour. If he is to be with his church to the end of the world, the church shall exist to that time, and hence be perpetual. If he is to be with
his people scattered through all ages and lands, at all times, he must be omnipresent, and therefore divine. Hence we have two implied claims of attributes belonging to God alone in these words, proving that he who uttered them was the Incarnate Word, “God manifest in the flesh,” “God over all, blessed for ever.”
The second peculiarity of phrase here is the words rendered “alway," which are literally "all days," not merely always, but all kinds of days, that were before them-days of light and of shadow, sunshine and storm, heat and cold, all the varying days of their destiny his presence should be with them ; a pillar of cloud, when the heat and burden of the day came pouring down in a pressure of toil and sorrow; a pillar of fire, when cloud and darkness gathered over the path, giving cheer and guidance when all other lights had gone out; the shadow of a great rock in a weary land, when the sun beat fiercely on their heads; and a covert from the tempest, "when the blast of the terrible ones is a storm against the wall."
But what is the nature of this presence? It is not simply the presence of the Holy Spirit, for he says expressly “I” will be with you, announcing a personal presence with his ministers and people, of a real and most important character. It is not the presence of his human nature, for that is in