Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

THE

V.

THE TRINITY AS TAUGHT BY CHRIST.

HE word "Trinity" does not occur in Scripture, nor is there anything to be found there corresponding to those complicated formulas by which (notably in the so called Athanasian Creed) theologians have tried to define the relations of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. The doctrine of the Trinity is involved throughout in the language of the New Testament, but it is never defined, there is no attempt whatever to explain the mysteries which are inseparable from all thought as to the being and manifestations of God; when the subject is referred to it is always for practical purposes, not for the satisfaction of the speculative reason; hence not only the language but even the thought is simple. The simple practical thoughts are like familiar objects of nature standing clear and welldefined before us; but all around and behind and above there is the infinite azure with its measureless depths, and if men would only content themselves with seeing in sharp definition that which is capable of it, and leaving the atmosphere, as in nature, in vague illimitable profundity, they would see clearly all that it is necessary to see, while the invisible and unfathomable background would have all its value as an atmosphere without any attempt being made to penetrate it or set it bounds. If theologians had only followed the Scriptures in this respect, how many bitter controversies might have been

spared, and how many needless difficulties and perplexities would have been avoided.

We cannot have a better illustration of our thought than is afforded by those striking words of our Lord, in which He speaks of Himself as the Way, the Truth, and the Life. There we see our familiar Friend and Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ, set before us in a threefold relation. He Himself stands out clear before us in His human nature, in the midst of the sorrowful little company in the upper room; and what He says of Himself is perfectly simple in all its practical relations; and yet there is an atmosphere of mystery all around it, where the speculative mind may very readily lose itself. Yet there is no need to lose ourselves: Christ is speaking, not for the speculative mind, but for the troubled heart, which He longs to comfort with the assurance of a Father's love. "I am the Way," He says. The way whither? we ask, and the answer to this "whither" leads us back to "the Father of an infinite majesty." But how can we know Him if He be of an infinite majesty? We cannot grasp the infinite. We cannot see Him. We cannot reach Him with our finite powers of knowledge. Alas, are we not lost? Listen again: "I am the Truth." Let not your thoughts roam in the infinite. Look unto Me. I am the Way; I am also the Truth; I not only show you how to reach the Father, I am Myself the revelation of the Father to you: "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." "I am the Truth" is simple and practical, and yet therein lies all the mystery of the divine Sonship. "No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him." But something more is necessary. There must not only be the objective revelation of the Divine, there must be a power to see the Divine in it.

Except

a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God." The way may be open, but without this new birth there is no desire to take it. The Truth may be clear, but without this inward light there is no power to see it. Not only love and light from above are needed, but life within, before the wants of man are fully met. Listen again: "I am the Life," says the Lord Jesus, claiming thus the special prerogative of the Holy Spirit; so that within the compass of these few simple words we have "the Father, of an infinite majesty, His honourable, true, and only Son, also the Holy Ghost."

Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, then, are all here; but in no perplexing separation or confusion; they are all in Christ Jesus; "I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life." The Father is here; but we do not see Him in His infinite majesty, we see Him as He is revealed in the man Christ Jesus; the eternal Son is here, but we do not see Him in His eternal glory, for it is veiled in mortal flesh. The Spirit is here, but only as the stream is in the fountain-the Holy Spirit is not yet given, but the promise of the gift is even now on the Saviour's lips, the promise of the Comforter, the Life Giver, ready to be sent as soon as His work as Opener up of the Way and Revealer of the Truth is done. Yes, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are all here, each found in Him, so that our thoughts are not to leave Christ when they pass to the Father, or to the Holy Spirit-Christ is all-"In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."

Now this is manifestly the way in which we are intended to realise to ourselves the truth about God as Father, as Son, and as Holy Ghost-not by wandering away into the infinite, but by sitting at the feet of Jesus and looking up into His face. How simple this makes it all, if we would only be content with the simplicity of Scripture !

The reason why some get into difficulty and perplexity is their perverse determination-notwithstanding all the directions and cautions the Master has given-to seek a separate knowledge of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. They wish to know God the Father, and in order to find Him they look away from Christ, instead of at Him; they gaze into the infinite unknown instead of looking at the face of Jesus. And when they think of the Spirit, again they must have this as a separate region of theological lore, so again they look away from the face of Jesus to find somewhere else God the Holy Spirit. If they could have what they are vainly seeking, they would have three Gods instead of one, as practically many puzzled Christians have. For they actually have great difficulty sometimes as to which of the Three to go to. What Christian minister has not again and again been consulted by good people, who were in some perplexity as to which of the Three Persons of the Trinity they should address themselves to. And what is worse, there are those who are afraid of praying too much to one Person, and too little to another, with the notion evidently in their poor confused minds that there is danger of jealousy between them!

It is very easy to show how utterly needless all this perplexity is, and how thoroughly unscriptural are all those notions out of which it grows. There is only one Person to whom any one can go, and that Person is Christ. We should go to Him always, under all circumstances with our prayers, with our tears, with our longings, with our doubts, with our difficulties, with our troubles, with our innumerable wants.

But does not Christ Himself teach us to pray, saying, "Our Father who art in heaven"? Perfectly true; but when we say "Our Father," we must look to Christ, for He plainly tells us that we cannot reach the Father but

F

by Him ("I am the Way"); and not only so, but we cannot hold the Father in our thought without filling our minds with Christ ("I am the Truth"). Christ Himself says, as plainly as tongue can express it, that it is impossible to know the Father apart from Him. "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." And when, even after that plain statement, the still puzzled disciple says, "Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us," what can the Master do but repeat the same truth in still more emphatic terms, as if He said to Philip, “You are seeking the Father, are you? And yet you are looking away from Me up into the unfathomable heaven; look not there, look here-do you not know Me yet?" "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father." Who can suppose that Philip retained his perplexity after so clear an answer? Why should any one be perplexed now?

What has been the consequence of trying to know the Father otherwise than by going to Christ? Agnosticism. Let any man of clear intellect and strong logical power begin by rejecting Christ and he is sure to end in Agnosticism, which is only a confirmation of our Saviour's doctrine, "No man cometh unto the Father but by Me." There is no way to the Father through halls of science or academic groves. Christ is the only way, and those who turn away from Him set their faces to the outer darkness.

The same considerations apply to those who perplex and confuse themselves by trying to have a knowledge of the Spirit apart from their knowledge of Christ. Our Saviour is most careful to guard against this error. He had said indeed, "It is the Spirit that quickeneth;" but He feels under no constraint to say, "I am the Way and the Truth, but the Holy Spirit is the Life," as if the work of

« AnteriorContinuar »