FATHER, SON, AND HOLY GHOST
THE names of God which we have so far considered all belong to the Old Covenant, under which "that which may be known of God" was taught "here a little and there a little" (Isa. 28:10), to suit the state in which men were, not knowing God as He has since revealed Himself in Christ, and by His Spirit. The perfect name is declared to us by Jesus Christ, our Lord, even "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost;" in which is united and summed up all that was taught of old in the names revealed to patriarchs and prophets under the Old Covenant. Here, as much as in the patriarchal lives, or in the shadows of the law, Augustine's well-known words hold good, that "the New Testament lies hid in the Old, while the Old is opened in the New." (Note: Augustine: Quoest. in Exod. § 73, on chapter xx. 19.) The "name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," only opens in its fulness what was taught in part, and under a veil, in the names "Elohim," "Jehovah," "El Shaddai," and "Adonai."
This New Testament name comes to us from the mouth of the risen Christ, and is yet revealed by Him to those, who, having known Him after the flesh, and in His divided and partial manifestations, have come, through the knowledge of His cross and resurrection, to receive a mission from Him, to "go and teach all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost" (Matt. 28:19). For He is still amongst us, and by His Spirit can yet "make known His name" (John 17:6), that "our hearts being comforted and knit together in love," we may come in due time "unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, even of the Father, and of Christ" (Col. 2:2). His will is that we should know Him, and that we are partakers of His very nature (2 Pet. 1:4), thus called to reveal, not in word only, but in deed and life, something of that glory which is set before us in this last most wondrous name, of "the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost."
Let us then turn to this name, and may our Lord Himself declare it to us, that the love wherewith the Father has loved Him may be in us, and He in us (John 17:26).
First then "the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," is one name, not three or many. (Note: See the passages from St. Jerome and Euthymius, quoted by Cornelius a Lapide, on Matt. 28:19.) Our Lord did not say, "Baptizing them into the names," but "into the name, of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." For, as He said to the Scribe, "The Lord our God is one Lord" (Mark 12:29). What this name therefore declares is One God, in what, for want of a better word, we call Three Persons; a "Father," who eternally produces Himself in His "Son," and by His "Spirit," and who, in His very being, even as in His works, is a witness of unity in plurality, and of a giving forth out of Himself, and a communion with Himself, which to our fallen senses seems well-nigh impossible. We shall see what is involved in this Threefold Name as we look more closely into it. Here I only notice that it is "the Name," not "Names," of "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
Now this truth, of a diversity in the unity of God, is no new truth. It has been assumed, and more or less expressed, in the varied names of God which were declared under the older revelation. We saw how in "Elohim," who said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness," and again "The man is become as one of us" (Gen. 1:26; 3:22), there was, to say the least, some intimation of plurality; while in the fact that the same name, "Elohim," which is plural, is joined with singular adjectives and verbs, and that He who calls Himself "Elohim" says of Himself distinctly, "There is no God beside me" (Isa. 45:5), we have still more direct assertion of His unity. In the contrast too between the import of the names "Elohim," who is in a covenant-relationship which never fails, and "Jehovah," who loves in virtue of quality and must judge evil, and yet makes His creatures righteous by giving them His own righteousness, and no less in the names "El Elyon," the "Most High," from whom we all proceed, and "El Shaddai," the "Pourer-forth," who gives forth from Himself His life and Spirit to His servants, there were repeated suggestions of that unutterable fulness of Love, and Wisdom, and Power, which are so wondrously expressed in "the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." I may say more. For it is not Holy Scripture only which bears this witness. In our very nature, which shews that fatherhood, sonship, and the spirit of both, are in every man, we have intimations of the mystery of Father, Son, and Spirit, in God, unless we are prepared to grant that the creature can possess and be more than the Creator. It is true that in man, in his fallen state, personality seems to be that which cuts off one man from another. Yet even here we are in one another. Even since the fall the mystery of love answers every objection to the apparent difficulty how two can be one, and one even in a third; for love ever draws two to be one, and by their mingled being forms a third, who has been in both, and proceeds from both, and in whom, in another form, the two are yet one. Still more surely do we know, for Scripture asserts it, that the woman, and therefore her seed in her, was in the man as formed in God's image, until that deep sleep fell upon Adam, in which he lost his primal form, and that which hitherto had been united and one became divided (Gen. 2:23). This is a great mystery. Yet in it we may see how the unity, and yet the plurality also, of God are revealed in man created in His image. It is one of the many preludings which both Nature and Scripture give us of that great harmony, which is perfectly expressed in the Name of "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost."
I can barely touch this here, but I note it in passing; for the doctrine of the Trinity, that is of what God is, as "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," has too often been regarded, even by believers, as an isolated truth, standing apart from, and having no relation to, our human hearts and human consciousness; whereas, inasmuch as man was made in God's image, what God is in Himself is the very ground, not only of our relation to Him, but of our very being, and of our true knowledge of ourselves and of our duties. If God is love, and love requires (for to dwell in solitude is not love) such a communion and relationship as is expressed in "the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," then our true life, if we are His sons, must have the same characteristics, and be a life of communion and relationship. On the other hand, the very cravings of our nature for communion and relationship witness, that in Him, "in whom we live, and move, and have our being" (Acts 17:28), there must be the substance of that, of which our life, with its relationships and communions, is but the shadow. This is what our Lord reveals, in making known to His disciples "the Name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost." And just in proportion as we really know that God is "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," we shall reflect something of the fellowship and love, which such a name declares to us. The world's selfishness is the result of not knowing what He truly is, from whom we come, and for whom we were created (Col. 1:16).
What then does this name declare? It says that God is Father,—that therefore there must be a Son,—and that the Father and the Son are One in One Spirit. Thus it speaks of a life which brings forth life,—of a life which is brought forth,—and of a still further proceeding forth of life, which nevertheless is all one. Who is sufficient for these things; for life is that which everywhere eludes our grasp. And yet our Lord Himself reveals this to us, for as we see it we reflect and are transformed into the same image.
First, God is "The Father." In Himself, as God, there is this relationship with One, who, though He is "with God," and also "is God," is no less "His Only-begotten Son" (John 1:1, 14, 18). Fatherhood is not confined to creatures. Rather creatures are and can be fathers, because in the Divine Nature there is both a Father and a Son. What this relation expresses of an eternal love between Him who begets and Him who is begotten,—what it tells us of a union and communion in Him who is the source and ground of all being,—in its height and depth transcends all language. Yet we have a broken shadow of it in every earthly father, and in all fatherhood, even as seen in this world, where sin is still working. "Father" tells us of a source of life; of one in whom his sons have been (Heb. 7:10), and from whom they come, and whose image and likeness they are called to manifest. "Father" tells us of relationship, in nature and in blood; and of a love, which, because it is in virtue of relationship, must be unchanging and unchanged, even though the son becomes a prodigal; which therefore loves him, even when far off, and will fall on his neck and kiss him, while the rags of the far country still cover him (Luke 15:12-24). "Father" says much more. It speaks of one who will guide and bear with babes, "who are borne by him from the belly, and are carried from the womb" (Isa. 46:3, 4); it declares that he who bears this name must educate and rule, and "as a father charge his sons" (1 Thess. 2:11, 12); that he must correct them also, "for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?" (Heb. 12:7). What shall I say more? "A father pitieth his children" (Psalm 103:13). A father "knoweth what things his children have need of, before they ask him" (Luke 12:30). "If a son ask bread of any that is a father, will the father give him a stone; or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?" (Luke 11:11, 13). Is it not a father's joy "to lay up for the children, and not the children for the fathers?" (2 Cor. 12:14). Even if they perish in some crime, must not a father cry, like David, "Would God I had died for thee, my son, my son"? (2 Sam. 18:33). What then must be the relationship in God, who is perfect love, between the Father and the Son? What must He be, who is "The Father," "of whom all fatherhood in heaven and earth is named"? (Eph. 3:15). What must be His love to His beloved Son? (Matt. 3:17; 17:5). What must be His will towards all, who in and by His Son are made His sons, and have come from, or been begotten by, Him?
For,—and I would call attention to this,—it is a Will that is specially declared in all these acts, which I have referred to as characteristic of a father. Whether it be the love which begets, or which guards the babes, or which righteously corrects evil, even in the sons, or which answers the children's cry, or which lays up good things for them unasked, or which, having loved them, loves them to the end,—every act is the expression of a Will. "The Father" is the Will, in the mystery of the ever-blessed Trinity. As we look further into the name, we shall see that it contains more than a Will. But an eternal Will is the foundation, a Will which loves and cannot but love, and which shews itself in Him who comes forth from the Father, to tell us what the Father is, and to reveal Him to His creatures.
For the name is not "Father" only, but "The Son," who "being the brightness of God's glory, and the express image of His person" (Heb. 1:3; Col. 1:15), reveals the Father and His love, by His works in all creation; "for by Him were all things created that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible" (Col. 1:16), to tell out God's glory (Psalm 19:1); and who, when through our fall we could see no love in such wondrous works, "came forth from the Father, and came into the world" (John 16:28), that He might declare His Father's name and nature to us. Thus, as the Apostle tells us, He is "the Word," who was "with God and was God" (John 1:1); the "Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and who hath declared Him" (John 1:18); "the Light which shineth in the darkness, though the darkness comprehends it not: the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world" (John 1:5, 9); who says, "I will declare thy name unto my brethren" (Heb. 2:12); "I will shew you plainly of the Father" (John 16:25). This is He who reveals the Father, and who being Himself "the Son," and thus in personal relation with a Father, not only reveals God, as "the Word," but, by His indwelling in us, makes us as persons sons together with Him. For to "as many as receive Him He gives power to become the sons of God, even to them which believe in His name, who are born, not of blood, (Note: Observe the Greek here, ἐξ αἱμάτων, that is "of bloods," referring to the division caused by the fall. Compare ἐξ ἑνὸς αἵματος, in Acts 17:26-28, where the life is referred to, which we receive as God's offspring.) nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God" (John 1:12-13). So, in the wondrous prayer recorded by St. John, He says, "I have manifested thy name to the men thou gavest me out of the world; for the words which thou gavest me I have given them; and I have declared unto them thy name and will declare it, that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them and I in them" (John 17:6, 8, 26).
Oh, what a revelation of the Father it is which the Son has made to men. What a Word has He been, and is, and ever will be. And what a Will in the Eternal Father has He revealed to us. Surely the heavens and earth have told us much, declaring His glory and shewing His handy work (Psalm 19:1). Sunshine and rain and fruitful seasons, filling men's hearts with food and gladness (Acts 14:17), have said with no uncertain voice that God loves all and cares for all, seeing that He is a Giver (Acts 17:24-25), even when they know Him not. But the "Son" has shewn us more, even that death and pain, which sin has brought, shall be overcome, and even now may be overcome, in as many as receive Him, because He Himself, the Lord of all, has stooped to meet us, and has even come under our curse, and Himself been made sin for us, though He knew no sin, that so He might abolish death, and be the Creator of a new creation, where sin and death shall be no more. The Gospels tell it all—how He has revealed the Father to us. For His works are the works of God. "The Son does nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do, these things also doeth the Son in like manner" (John 5:19). Are there leprous creatures, cut off from men, and crying, "Unclean, unclean"? The Son reveals the Father's Will, and makes them clean (Matt. 8:3). Are there palsied souls, grievously tormented, who can do no work for God or man? He speaks, and the palsied are restored and healed the self-same hour (Matt. 8:6, 13). Are there others, like Peter's wife's mother, in whom sin works as a fever, which keeps them in burning restlessness and disquietude? He yet takes such by the hand, and the fever leaves them (Matt. 8:14, 15). Are there others suffering even worse, possessed with devils, who answer for the possessed, as if they were himself, and cry, "My name is Legion"? The "Son" can cast them out (Mark 5:2-15). There is no evil He cannot meet. Bodily or spiritual lameness, blindness, dumbness, deafness, dropsy (Matt. 11:5; Luke 14:2), a spirit of infirmity, which bows souls down through long and weary years (Luke 13:11),—even death, when the dead are, not only dead "in the house" (Mark 5:39, 40), but "laid in the grave," and even "stinking" (John 11:38, 39),—all yield to Him who is the "Son," who thus reveals the "Father." And no less does He reveal Him in His terrible rebukes to those, who "trust in themselves that they are righteous," and "thank God that they are not as other men;" who judge of their state God-ward, not by their love, that is their likeness to their Lord, but by their privileges, that they are here "clothed with the purple and fine raiment" of the kingdom, while yet they have no pity for the lost, who are "full of sores," even "at their gates," and to whom the very "dogs" shew more kindness (Matt. 23:13, 29; Luke 16:19; 18:9, 11). Who has ever spoken like "The Son" to judge hypocrisy and wrong? Who has so stripped deceivers bare, spite of all their outward religiousness? Oh blessed yet awful revelation of the Father through the Son. "He that hath seen Him hath seen the Father" (John 14:9). For "the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" (John 1:18).
But "the name" revealed by the risen Lord, and into which we are baptized, goes even further. For it is not only the name of the "Father" and of the "Son," but also of the "Holy Ghost." Now this word "Ghost" or "Spirit," elsewhere translated "Breath" or "Wind" (See Job 33:4; Ezek. 37:5, 6, 8, &c.; John 3:8), expresses a power unseen but felt, like the breath of heaven which moves the forest and the sea (Isa. 7:2; Psalm 107:25, &c.); which may come sometimes like a strong wind which rends the mountains (1 Kings 19:11), or at others as the balmy breath which makes the waters flow (Psalm 147:18); now blowing on the gardens, that their spices may flow out (Song 4:16); and again breathing upon the sick and dead, that they may live (Ezek. 37:9); always free as the air we breathe, encompassing us about, and even entering into us, as the very breath of life to all creatures. Such is the "Holy Ghost," the very Breath or Spirit of the living God, the worker of the Father's Will. For as at creation He moved upon the waters (Gen. 1:2): as He strove with the old world, when the wickedness of man was great upon the earth (Gen. 6:3): as He came upon judges, prophets, and kings (Judges 6:34; 14:6; 15:14; 1 Sam. 16:13; Ezek. 3:12, 14; 11:1, 24), out of weakness to make them strong, to carry out God's purposes towards His people; so He yet fulfils God's will in men, now convincing the world of sin, now taking of the things of Christ to shew them to disciples (John 16:8-14); giving to one the word of wisdom, to another the word of knowledge, to another gifts of healing, to another divers kinds of tongues; all being the working of that one and self-same Spirit, who divideth to every man severally as He will (1 Cor. 12:6-11). Under this name therefore we get the revelation, not only of a Will and Word in God, but of a Power also, which is indeed Almighty; a revelation of all, and even more than all, that the name "El Shaddai" taught of old; for the name now taught is "Holy Ghost," not power only, but holy power, even the power of love, which never fails, until by the sacrifice of itself it has made others partakers of the same Spirit. Such a Spirit, the "Spirit" of the "Father" and of the "Son," lifts those who receive it into a sphere, where the inequalities of this life are swallowed up in a "communion," "where there is neither Jew nor Greek, nor bond nor free" (Gal. 3:28); where, inspired by God's own Spirit, of holiness and love, we too may minister His Spirit, and, like His Son, be not only "living souls," but "quickening spirits" also (1 Cor. 15:45), to reveal Him in a world that knows Him not.
This then is the crowning name, "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," the witness that there is in God all, and more than all, that the creature can need for its salvation,—a Will in the "Father," who can never change, to bless and do us good,—a Word in the "Son," who is no less changeless, to make us know the Father,—and a Power in the "Holy Ghost," who is Almighty, to fulfil the Will and Word of God, until through judgment all things are made new. In the name, "the Father," we have that love which our inmost souls require: in the name of "the Son," the revelation of that righteousness and truth, which we no less need to save us from our adversary: in the name of "the Holy Spirit," the might and power to conform us to God's will, and to enable us, not only to enlighten, but to comfort and strengthen, others. And we need the name in all its fulness, "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." We cannot take one part of it and deny the rest, without robbing God of His glory, and ourselves of the grace which He possesses for us. Have we not seen how some who say that there cannot be a Son in God, while they profess to contend the loudest for His Fatherhood, have come to deny also that He has made any sacrifice for men? They call Him Love, but would take from Him that which is love's inmost impulse, even to give forth one's life to beget another, or to sacrifice what is most precious to us for another. So again the denial of the Godhead of the Son would make the Spirit which He gives us only a creature, which, however helpful, can never make men sons of God, or restore in man God's marred image. Therefore the Church has so earnestly contended for this name, "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost," seeing in it the foundation of all our hopes and aspirations. The more it opens, the more it shews us of the fulness of our God. Oh the depth of the riches here revealed! "Lo, these are parts of His ways, but how little a portion is heard of Him" (Job 26:14).
Such is this name, which sums up "that which may be known of God" (Rom. 1:19), revealed by Christ Himself, to those, who, having first known Him after the flesh, have come in due time, through following Him to His cross, to see and know Him in resurrection also. Only such souls ever really enter into the fulness here opened to us. Thank God, the fact, that God is what He is, does not depend upon our understanding of it: God does not change, because we cannot see His glory. But the joy and strength of His disciples depends not a little on what they know of Him, and that there is a "Son" in God, who has shewn us the "Father," and given us His "Spirit," so that we too, as sons of God, may "shew forth His virtues" (See the Greek or margin, 1 Pet. 2:9). To others the Threefold Name cannot but for awhile be more or less "dark with excess of light," though, because it is revealed by Him who is our Lord, it may yet be implicitly believed, and sacramentally minister of its own love, and joy, and peace, to those, who, though yet babes in Christ, have been baptized into it. It is confessedly a "mystery," that is a truth which cannot be explained by words alone, but must be grown up into by the communication of the same life, and through the experience of a certain discipline. (Note: See Liddell and Scott's Lexicon, under the word μυστήριον.)
And yet, though it is a mystery which is only "revealed from faith to faith" (Rom. 1:17), saints have pointed out how much there is, even in present nature and in man, to reflect, though in imperfect and divided figures, something of the eternal undivided truth, which the "name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost," declares to us. Temporal things, because they are broken and divided, cannot perfectly reveal what is eternal and undivided; and yet they may and do give us "shadows of the true" (Heb. 8:5; 9:24; 10:1), which, though imperfect and divided, may help us to conceive how there can be a Son co-eval with the Father: how He can come forth, as the Word, to tell us of the Father and give us His Spirit, and yet ever abide in Him, in the unity of the same Spirit. Take the figure, which Scripture gives us, that "God is a sun" (Psalm 84:11), and that "our God is a consuming fire" (Heb. 12:29). In the sun we have first fire, then light, then heat; the light, differing from fire or heat, yet produced and brought forth by the fire; and the heat, differing from fire or light, yet proceeding from the fire. Yet these three are substantially one, as we can prove, and all are co-eval. But which of the three produces the others? Does the light or brightness come from the fire, or the fire from the brightness? The light or brightness comes from the fire, not the fire from the brightness. The fire produces the light. "Thus," as St. Augustine says, "the fire is the father of the light, and they are co-eval. Give me a fire without brightness, and I may believe that the Father ever was without the Son. ... Shew me an eternal fire, and I will shew you an eternal light." (Note: Augustine, Serm. lxvii. § 11; (Ben. 117.) and Serm. lxviii. § 2; (Ben. 118.)) So, to take another illustration, which arises directly from our Lord's title as the "Word," who "in the beginning was with God, and was God" (John 1:1). Does not even man's word convey some hint, how a word may be in us, and yet come forth to convey to others what has been hidden in our hearts? I quote again from St. Augustine:—"Lo, the word which I am speaking to you I have had in my heart. It comes forth from me to you, and, if you receive it, it may enlighten and abide with you; yet it does not leave me because it comes to you. Even so the Word may come forth to us from the Father, and yet not depart from Him. ... And you may each and all receive the Word without division. If it were a cake of bread which I was giving to you, to take it in you would have to divide it, and each could only have a part. But in receiving a word, whether mine or God's, it comes whole to all and each. You may each have the whole, for the Word of God is whole everywhere." (Note: Augustine, Serm. lxix. § 7; (Ben. 119.) and Serm. lxx. § 3. (Ben. 120.)) I have already alluded to the constant argument of the same great Church teacher, that, if God is Love, there must be in Him a Lover, a Beloved, and the Spirit of Love; for there is no love without a lover and a beloved:—"Ubi amor, ibi trinitas." (Note: See the viith, ixth, and xth books of Augustine's De Trinitate, almost passim.) But even more striking are the considerations, which, as Augustine shews so fully, are suggested by the trinity in man, namely, of a will, a reason, and an affection, which, though three, are no less truly one. (Note: See the ixth and xth, xiiith, and xivth books of the De Trinitate.) I write however for those, who, because Christ says it, believe that "the Lord our God is One Lord," though He is no less certainly "Father, Son, and Holy Ghost." If only we walk with Him, till heaven opens to us, and our hearts are truly knit together in love, we shall surely come into all the riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, even of the Father, and of Christ, and His Spirit.
I will not conclude these notes on this last name of God, as revealed by the risen Christ to disciples upon whom He had breathed, and to whom He had said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," without noticing how this same name, in a slightly different form, is taught by the Apostle Paul to "babes in Christ," of whom he says, "I could not speak to you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal" (1 Cor. 3:1), who, unlike their teacher, as yet only "knew Christ after the flesh" (2 Cor. 5:16) and were still full of their own "envyings and strifes," and "debates and backbitings" (1 Cor. 3:3; 2 Cor. 12:20). To these "carnal" disciples the Apostle thus declares the Threefold Name:—"The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you all. Amen" (2 Cor. 13:14). Need I point out how the order of the Persons in the Godhead here differs from the order as revealed by the risen Lord to those who knew something of the power of His resurrection. This is not without a purpose. As in the Law of the Offerings of old, the Sin and Trespass offerings, that is the view of Christ as Sin-bearer, though last in order of institution, were in order of use and application invariably prior to the Sweet-savour offerings, which shewed Christ in His sinless obedience, voluntarily yielding up Himself to God in everything; (Note: Compare Lev. 1-7, which gives the order of institution, with Exod. 29; Lev. 8, 9, and 14; and 2 Chron. 29; which latter chapters give the order in which the sacrifices were offered by God's people.) so in the revelation of God's name, the knowledge of what He is for sinners, and the course in which His grace and love are now made known, is needed by carnal and imperfect souls before they can really receive the higher truth of what He is in Himself in His eternal generation. Therefore to carnal souls the Apostle says, "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Ghost, be with you. Amen." We are so familiar with the words that we are in danger of overlooking all that is taught in them, and what they imply as to the state of those to whom they were addressed by the Apostle.
For the words describe a growing experience. As sinful creatures our first knowledge of God is through "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ." Awakened souls always begin here. We feel that we are sinners; that we are lepers, palsied, fevered, lame, or blind. We want some help and deliverance. How are we to get it? We do not yet know God. Till we have tasted of "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," God is practically a stranger to us. So, in one way or another, as poor, lost creatures, with more or less knowledge of our need, we come or are brought to Christ, or He comes to us, and we find "His grace is sufficient for us." Observe, that it is "the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" with which the blessing here commences. The Apostle does not say, "The grace of the Son of God," though of course Jesus Christ is Son of God. The deep mystery of the Divine Sonship might be too deep for carnal souls. Besides, when we first come or are brought to Christ, our thoughts of Him are as of a "Lord," who has power to save or judge us, rather than of His eternal relation to the Father. At such a stage what we chiefly need is to "know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that, though He was rich, yet for our sakes He became poor" (2 Cor. 8:9). As we see Him in the flesh, we learn to see "the exceeding riches of His grace" (Eph. 2:7), and how it can save souls in every condition of will or mind, and out of every form of plague and evil. It cleanses the leper, who believed in His power, but hardly in His will, to help; who said, "Lord, if thou wilt, thou canst make me clean" (Matt. 8:2). It casts the evil spirit out of the man possessed with devils, whose father believed in Christ's will, but doubted His power; whose cry was, "If thou canst do anything, have compassion on us" (Mark 9:22). It healed the paralytic, because of the faith of those who brought him (Matt. 9:2). It raised the dead, without any faith, either on their own part, or in those about them (Luke 7:13). It delivered another demoniac, even against his shrinking from the Lord who healed him, and in spite of his prayers to be "let alone." (Mark 5:7. See also Mark 1:24 and Luke 4:34.) It healed the ear of one who had come out only to seize and bind the Lord (Luke 22:51). It prayed even for those who slew the life which thus shewed grace to all (Luke 23:34). In all these and in countless other cases, "where sin abounded, grace did much more abound" (Rom. 5:20). And this "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ" is still the same. Blessed are they who know it. Such know at least One Person of the ever-blessed Trinity. And though as yet they may know Him most imperfectly, hardly knowing He is "Son of God," with the blind man of old they can now say, "One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see" (John 9:25, 35); for "of His fulness they have received, and grace for grace" (John 1:16).
But those who have got thus far will soon go further. Jesus is "the way" to God (John 14:6). Souls, therefore, who know the "grace of our Lord Jesus Christ," speedily come to know the "love of God." It is of course "the love of the Father," for Christ is witness that "God so loved the world that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life" (John 3:16). But it is here seen as the "love of God." God thus "commendeth His love towards us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us" (Rom. 5:8). "Hereby perceive we the love of God" (1 John 3:16). So we are brought to know another Person of the Blessed Trinity, and to "love Him, because He first loved us." There is much more that we have yet to learn; but when by grace we have "peace with God," because "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts" through Jesus Christ our Lord (Rom. 5:1, 5), we can say with joy, "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?" (Rom. 8:31, 32). Therefore the Apostle concludes touching this love,—"I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Rom. 8:38, 39).
There is yet more to know. Having thus learnt the "love of God," we may and shall come to the "communion of the Holy Ghost" also; to know that God's own Spirit has come to us, to "dwell in us," in dwellings which to Him must be full of foulness and corruption; not standing outside or afar off, but even coming into sin-stained hearts, until He "shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto Christ's glorious body" (Phil. 3:21), by such love proving that He is the Holy Ghost. For it is to a "communion" that we are thus called, even the "communion of the Holy Ghost;" to have One always with us, who shares His riches with us, and makes us partakers of His own Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13), while He no less bears our burdens and helps our infirmities, by making intercession for us (Rom. 8:26). What this "communion of the Holy Ghost" did for saints of old is witnessed by their works. Men walked in the consciousness, not only that heaven would one day be their home, but that even here this heaven was open to them (Luke 3:21; John 1:51; Acts 10:11). No need for them, like the heathen, by wizards and consulters with familiar spirits (Deut. 18:9-12; Isa. 8:19), to seek a communion with the unseen, for which, so long as he is in selfhood, man is unfit, and which, as sought in self-will, can only hurt him. The "communion of the Holy Ghost" gave man something far better, through the "grace of the Lord Jesus" and the "love of God," even "fellowship with the Father and with the Son" (1 John 1:3), which practically silenced and swallowed up, as Aaron's rod did the rods of the Egyptian magicians (Exod. 7:12), all inferior methods of communion with the so-called invisible. Such a "fellowship" was found to be something higher, and more powerful, and more true, than all the wonders of the old-world magic; for it witnessed that men were "heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ;" it brought them "to Mount Sion, the city of the living God, to an innumerable company of angels, and to the church of the first-born, which are enrolled in heaven; and to God, the judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect; and to Jesus, the mediator of the new covenant, and to the blood of sprinkling, which speaketh better things than that of Abel" (Heb. 12:22-24). In such a "communion" men were taught, as they could bear it, what God hath prepared for them that love Him; "things which eye hath not seen, nor hath ear heard, but which are revealed by God's Spirit" (1 Cor. 2:9, 10). Blessed be God, the self-same Spirit yet abides, to guide us into all truth, by taking of the things of Christ and of God, and by shewing them to us (John 16:13, 15).
Thus in different measures and in different ways is the last great name of God, the name of "the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost," revealed and opened to believers; some apprehending it as it unveils vital relationships in God; some, as it meets the need of His creatures, who have fallen from Him. In whatever measure it is received, it must give peace. In every age it has been true, that "they who know God's name will put their trust in Him" (Psalm 9:10). Much more should we, to whom by His beloved Son He has revealed Himself as "our Father," trust Him, and rest in Him, in every trial. Shall we not pray, "Our Father, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done"? (Matt. 6:9-10). Shall we not bless Him for the assurance, that "all nations shall come and worship before Him, and shall glorify His name" (Psalm 86:9)? Shall we not say, even while the conflict lasts, "Blessed be His glorious name for ever, and let the whole earth be filled with His glory. Amen and Amen" (Psalm 72:19)?
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