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Almighty and everlasting God, who hast given unto us thy servants grace, by the confession of a true faith, to acknowledge the glory of the eternal Trinity, and in the power of the Divine Majesty to worship the Unity; we beseech thee," that thou wouldest keep us steadfast in this faith, and ever, more defend us from all adversities; who livest and reignest one God, world without end.. Amen.
66 TN the ancient liturgies we find that this day
I was looked upon only as an Octave of Pentecost, the observation of it as the feast of the Trinity being of a later date: for since the praises of the Trinity were every day celebrated in the doxology, hyinns, and creeds, therefore the church thought there was no need to set apart one particular day for that which was done on each. But afterwards, when the Arians, and such like heretics, were spread over the world, and had vented their blasphemies against this Divine mystery, the wisdom of the church thought it convenient, that, though the blessed Trinity was daily commemorated in its public offices of devotion, yet it should be the more solemn subject of one particular day's meditation. So that from the time of Pope Alexander III. if not before, the festival of the Holy Trinity was observed in some churches on the Sunday after Pentecost, in others, on the Sunday next before Advent; until VOL. II.
in the year 1305 it was made an established feast, as it stands in our present Calendar."'*
The day thus chosen for the celebration of the glory which is due to the Triune Jehovah seems peculiarly proper. For as on the foregoing festivals each person in the Godhead has been acknowledged to be God and Lord, and as by the teaching of the Holy Ghost at Pentecost “a right “ judgment in all things" was conferred on the church, and particularly in this important doctrine, it seems to be congruous with propriety that the day on which the Trinity in Unity is adored with special regard, should follow those on which the Son and Holy Ghost have been particularly honoured and the descent of the Spirit is celebrated.
But though the festival of the Holy Trinity is, comparatively with the other festivals of our church, of a modern date, we are not to suppose that the doctrine which it recognizes is modern, or that the worship which it requires was unknown to the primitive church. These we can clearly trace to the time of the Apostles, and sanction by their paramount authority. Nay, we can justify qur practice by that of a church which is subject to no errors, in whose services there are no flaws. For among the innumerable company of angels, and the church of glorified saints, as we shall presently see, the glory of the eternal Trinity is acknowledged, and the Unity worshipped.
The practice of the Christian church in the apostolic age, when men full of the Holy Ghost conducted her worship, may be gathered from the Acts of the Apostles, their Epistles, and the Revelation of St. John. And though no public
they honether are commande act of worship
liturgy of that early æra hath been preserved, at least none that can be absolutely proved to have been composed during -the Apostolic period (though there are several which the testimony of high antiquity ascribes to it), yet the evidence on record is all-sufficient for our purpose. To a believer in the plenary inspiration of the Scriptures (and in this argument we have nothing to do with, Deists) the testimony or practice of one man, declared to be taught and led by the Spirit of God will be equivalent to the testimony or practice of the whole church, since the former could no more be deceived than the latter. .
" For the first age the Scripture is sufficient evidence of the Christian practice. For, not to insist on the precept of honouring the Son as they honoured the Father; or the form of baptism in which they are commanded to join the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost in one act of worship; or the injunction to believe in the Son as they believed in the Father ; with many other acts of internal worship peculiar to God alone: I only argue from their example and practice. St. Stephen the protomartyr, when he was sealing his confession with his blood, breathed out his last breath in a prayer to Christ, “ Lord Jesus, re“ ceive my spirit;” and “Lord, lay not this sin “ to their charge.” (Acts vii. 59.) St. Paul professes he never baptized any but in the name of Christ. (1 Cor. i. 13.) And his common forms of blessing were with invocation of the name of Christ. “Grace be to you, and peace, from God " the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ.”' And “The Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and “ the love of God, and the communion of the “ Holy Ghost, be with you all :" as the solemn forms run almost in all his epistles, both in the beginning and the conclusion of them. Nay, so common was this practice, that among other ti. tles of the believers, at their first rise and appearance in the world, they were distinguished by the character of those that called on the name of Christ.* (Acts ix. 14, 21. 1 Cor. i. 2. 2 Tim. ii. 22.) Many other such like evidences are obvious to any one that reads the New Testament. I only add that of the Revelation (ch. v. 8—14) where the church in heaven and earth together is represented as offering both prayers and hymns to Christ. (See also chap. vii. 9, 10.)
“We have here seen the model of the worship of Christ (and of the Holy Ghost) as begun and settled in the practice of the church in the first age. And we shall find it continued in the same manner in those that followed immediately after. For Pliny, who lived in the beginning of the second century, and as a judge under Trajan took the confessions of some revolting Christians, says, they declared to him they were used to meet on a certain day before it was light, and among other parts of their worship sing a hymn to Christ as to their God. Which is a plain indication of their worship of Christ on the Lord's day. Not long after this lived Polycarp, who joins God the Father and the Son together in his prayers for grace and benediction upon mèń: “ The God and Father of “ our Lord Jesus Christ, and Jesus Christ Him“ self, the eternal High Priest, the Son of God, “ build you up in faith and truth, &c. and give “ you a lot and part among the saints, and to us so with you, and to all them that are under heaven “ who shall believe in Jesus Christ our Lord and “ in His Father who raised Him from the dead."
* ETIHAANUEVON TO ovoua Xpista.
beloved Son, with heavenly Jesus
" and the
And so he begins his epistle, “ Mercy and peace " from God Almighty, and from the Lord Jesus " Christ be multiplied unto you.” And when he came to his martyrdom, he made a prayer to God at the stake, before he was burnt, concluding it with this doxology to the whole Trinity: “I bless “ thee, I praise thee, I glorify thee for all things, " together with the eternal and heavenly Jesus “ Christ, thy beloved Son, with whom unto thee " and the Holy Spirit, be glory both now and for " ever, world without end. Amen."
5. When Polycarp was dead, the church of Smyrna wrote a circular epistle to other churches, to give an account of his sufferings, wherein they relate this remarkable occurrence,—That as soon as he was dead the Jews suggested to the heathen judge, that he should not suffer the Christians to take Polycarp's body to bury it, lest they should leave their crucified Master and begin to worship this other, “ Not considering,” says the epistle, " that we can never either forsake the worship of “ Christ, who suffered for the salvation of all those ss who are saved in the whole world, the just for “ the unjust; or worship any other. For we '" worship Him as being the Son of God; but the “ martyrs we only love as they deserve for their “ great affection to their King and Master, and as « being disciples and followers of their Lord, " whose partners and fellow disciples we desire to, “ be.” This is an unanswerable testimony to prove both the Divine worship of Christ, as the true Son of God, and that no martyr or other saint was worshipped in those days. Not long after this lived Justin Martyr, who in his second apology, to wipe off the charge of Atheism brought against them by the Heathens, who objected to them, " That they had cast off the