'I saw the Lord sitting on a throne, high and lifted up. Above Him stood the seraphim. And one cried to another, and said, Holy, holy, holy
is the Lord of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory.' -- Isa. vi.1-3.
'And the four living creatures, they have no rest day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God, the Almighty, which was, and which is, and which is to come.' -- Rev. iv.8.
It is not only on earth, but in heaven too, that the Holiness of God is His chief and most glorious attribute. It is not only on earth, but in heaven too, that the highest inspiration of adoration and praise makes mention of His Holiness. The brightest of living beings, they who are ever before and around and above the throne, find their glory in adoring and proclaiming the Holiness of God: surely there can be for us no higher honour than to study and to know, to worship and adore, to proclaim and show forth the glory of the Thrice Holy One.
After Moses, as we know, Isaiah was the chief messenger of the Holiness of God. Each had a special preparation for his commission to make known the Holy One. Moses saw the Holy One in the fire, and hid his face and feared to look upon God, and so was prepared for being His messenger, and for praising Him as 'glorious in holiness.' Isaiah, as he heard the song of the seraphim, and saw the fire on the altar, and the house filled with the smoke, cried out, 'Woe is me.' It was not till, in the deep sense of the need of cleansing, he had received the touch of the fire and the purging of his sin, that he might bear to Israel the Gospel of the Holy One as its Redeemer. May it be in the spirit of fear and lowly worship that we listen to the song of the seraphim, and seek to know and worship the Thrice Holy One. And may ours too be the cleansing with the fire, that we may be found fit to tell God's people that He is the Holy One of Israel, their Redeemer.
The threefold repetition of the HOLY has at all times by the Church of Christ been connected with the Holy Trinity. The song of the living creatures around the throne (Rev. iv.) is evidence of the truth of this thought. We there find it followed by the adoration of Him who was, and is, and is to come, the Almighty: the Eternal Source, the present manifestation in the Son, the future perfecting of the revelation of God in the Spirit's work in His Church. The truth of the Holy Trinity is often regarded as an abstract doctrine, with little direct bearing on practical life. So far is this from being the case, that a living faith must root in it: some spiritual insight into the relation and the operation of each of the Three, and the reality of their living Oneness, is an essential element of true growth in knowledge and spiritual understanding. Let us here regard the Trinity specially in its relation to God's Holiness and as the source of ours. What does it mean that we adore the Thrice Holy One? God is not only holy, but makes holy: in the revelation of the Three Persons we have the revelation of the way in which God makes holy.
The Trinity teaches us that God has revealed Himself in two ways. The Son is the Form of God, His manifestation as He shows Himself to man, the Image in which His unseen glory is embodied, and to which man is to be conformed. The Spirit is the Power of God, working in man, and leading him up to that Image. In Jesus, He who had been in the form of God took the form of man; and the Divine Holiness was literally manifested in the form of a human life and the members of a human body. A new holy human nature was formed in Christ, to be communicated to us. In His death His own personal holiness was perfected as human obedience, and so the power of sin conquered and broken. Therefore in the resurrection, through the Spirit of Holiness, He was declared to be the Son of God with power to impart His life to us. There the Spirit of Holiness was set free from the veil of the flesh, the trammels that hindered it, and obtained power to enter and dwell in man. The Holy Spirit was poured out as the fruit of Resurrection and Ascension. And the Spirit is now the Power of God in us, working upwards towards Christ, to reproduce His life and Holiness in us, to fit us for fully receiving and showing forth Him in our lives. Christ from above comes to us as the embodiment of the Unseen Holiness of God: the Spirit from within lifts us up to meet Him, and fits us to receive and make our own all that is in Him.
The Triune God whom we adore is the Thrice Holy One: the mystery of the Trinity is the mystery of Holiness: the Glory and the Power of the Trinity is the Glory and Power of God who makes us holy. There is God dwelling in light inaccessible, a consuming fire of Holy Love, destroying all that resists, glorifying into its own purity all that yields. There is the Son, casting Himself into that consuming fire, whether in its eternal blessedness in heaven, or its angry wrath on earth, a willing sacrifice, to be its food and its satisfaction, as well as the revelation of its power to destroy and to save. And there is the Spirit of Holiness, the flames of that mighty fire spreading on every side, convicting and judging as the Spirit of Burning, and then transforming into its own brightness and holiness all that it can reach. All the relations of the Three Persons to each other and to us have their root and their meaning in the revelation of God as the Holy One. As we know and partake of Him, we shall know and partake of Holiness.
And how shall we know Him? Let us learn to know the Holiness of God as the seraphs do: in the worship of the Thrice Holy One. Let us with veiled faces join in the ceaseless song of adoration: 'Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts.' Each time we meditate on the Word, each prayer to the Holy God, each act of faith in Christ the Holy One, each exercise of waiting dependence on the Holy Spirit, let it be in the spirit of worship: Holy, holy, holy. Let us learn to know the Holiness of God as Isaiah did. He was to be the chosen messenger to reveal and interpret to the people the name, the Holy One of Israel. His preparation was the vision that made him cry out, 'Woe is me! for mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts.' Let us bow in silence before the Holy One, until our comeliness too be turned into corruption. And then let us believe in the cleansing fire from the altar, the touch of the live coals of the burning holiness, which not only consumes, but purges lips and heart to say, 'Here am I, send me.' Yes, let us worship, whether like the adoring seraphim, or like the trembling prophet, until we know that our service too is accepted, to tell forth the praise of the Thrice Holy One.
Holy, holy, holy: if we are indeed to be the messengers of the Holy One, let us seek to enter fully into what this Thrice Holy means. HOLY, the Father, God above us, High and Lifted up, whom no man hath seen or can see, whose Holiness none dare approach, but who doth Himself in His Holiness draw nigh to make holy. HOLY, the Son, God with us, revealing Divine Holiness in human life, maintaining it amid the suffering of death for us, and preparing a holy life and nature for His people. HOLY, the Spirit, God in us, the Power of Holiness within us, reaching out to and embracing Christ, and transforming our inner life into the union and communion of Him in whom we are holy. Holy, holy, holy! it is all holiness. It is only holiness -- perfect holiness. This is Divine holiness: holiness hidden and unapproachable; holiness manifested and maintained in human nature; holiness communicated and made our very own.
The mystery of the Holy Trinity is the mystery of the Christian life, the mystery of Holiness. The Three are One, and we need to enter ever more deeply into the truth that neither of the Three ever works separate or independent of the other. The Son reveals the Father, and the Father reveals the Son. The Father gives not Himself, but the Spirit: the Spirit speaks not of Himself, but cries Abba Father! The Son is our Sanctification, our Life, our All: the fulness is in Him. And yet we have ever to bow our knees to the Father for Him to reveal Christ in us, for Him to establish us in Christ. And the Father does not this without the Spirit: so that we have to ask to be strengthened mightily by the Spirit, that Christ may dwell in us. Christ gives the Spirit to them that believe and love and obey; the Spirit again gives Christ, formed within and dwelling in the heart. And so in each act of worship, and each step of growth, and each blessed experience of grace, all the Three Persons are actively engaged: the One is ever Three, the Three are ever One.
Would you apply this in the life of holiness, let faith in the Holy Trinity be a living practical reality. In every prayer to the Father to sanctify you, take up your position in Christ, and do it in the power of the Spirit within you. In every exercise of faith in Christ as your Sanctification, let your posture be that of prayer to the Father and trust in Him as He delights to honour the Son, and of quiet expectancy of the Spirit's working, through whom the Father glorifies the Son. In every surrender of the soul to the sanctification of the Spirit, to His leading as the Spirit of Holiness, look to the Father who grants His mighty working, and who sanctifies through faith in the Son, and expect the Spirit's power to manifest itself in showing the will of God, and Jesus as your Sanctification. If for a time this appears at variance with the simplicity of childlike faith and prayer, be assured that as God has thus revealed Himself, He will teach you so to worship and believe. And so the Holy, holy, holy will become the deep undertone of all our worship and all our life.
Children of God! called to be holy as He is holy, oh, come let us bow down and worship in His holy presence! Come and veil the face: withdraw eye and mind from gazing on what passes knowledge, and let the soul be gathered into that inner stillness, in which the worship of the heavenly Sanctuary alone can be heard. Come and cover the feet: withdraw from the rush of work and haste, be it worldly or religious, and learn to worship. Come, and as you fall down in self-abasement, the glory of the Holy One will shine upon you. And as you hear and take up and sing the song, HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, you will find how in such knowledge and worship of the Thrice Holy One is the power that makes you holy.
BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.
Holy, holy, holy, the Lord God Almighty! which wast, and art, and art to come! I worship Thee as the Triune God. With face veiled and feet covered, I would bow in deep humility and silence, till Thy mercy lift me as on eagles' wings to behold Thy glory.
Most merciful God! who hast called me to be holy as Thou art holy, oh, reveal to me somewhat of Thy Holiness! As it shines upon me and strikes death into the creature and the flesh, may even the most involuntary taint of sin, and its slightest movement, become unbearable. As it shines and revives the hope of being partaker of Thy Holiness, may the confidence grow strong that Thou Thyself art making me holy, wilt even make me a messenger of Thy Holiness.
Thrice Holy God! I worship Thee as my God. HOLY! THE FATHER; holy and making holy; making holy His own Son and sending Him into the world, that we might behold the very glory of God in a human face, the face of Jesus Christ. HOLY! THE SON; the Holy One of God, fulfilling the will of the Father, and so making holy Himself that He might be our holiness. HOLY! THE SPIRIT; the Spirit of Holiness, dwelling within us, making the Son and His Holiness our own, and so making us partakers of the Holiness of God. O my God! I bow down, and worship, and adore.
May even now the worship of heaven that rests not day or night be the worship my soul renders Thee without ceasing. May its song be, down in the depths of the heart, the keynote of my life: HOLY, HOLY, HOLY, Lord God Almighty! which wast, and art, and art to come. Amen.
1. Thought always needs to distinguish and separate: in life alone there is perfect unity. The more we know the living God, the more we shall realize how truly the Three are One. In each act of One Person the other Two are present. There is not a prayer rises but the Presence of the Holy Three is needed through Christ, in the Spirit, we speak to the Father.
2. In faith to apprehend this is to have the secret of holiness. The Holy God above us, ever giving and working; the Holy One of God, the living gift, who has possession of us, in whom we are; the Holy Spirit, God within us, through whom the Father works, and the Son is revealed: this is the God who says, I am holy, I make holy. In the perfect unity of the work of the Three, holiness is found.
3. No wonder that the love of the Father and the grace of the Son do not accomplish more, when the fellowship of the Holy Spirit is little understood or sought or accepted. The Holy Spirit is the fruit and crown of the Divine Revelation, through whom the Son and the Father come to us. If you would know God, if you would be holy, you must be taught and led of the Spirit.
4. As often as you worship the Thrice Holy One, hearken if no voice be heard: Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Let the answer rise, Here am I, send me, and offer yourself to be a messenger of the holiness of God to those around you.
5. When in meditation and worship you have sought to take in and express what God's word has taught, then comes the time for confessing how you know nothing, and for waiting on God to reveal Himself.
The Divine necessity and meaning of the doctrine of the Trinity is seen from the counterpart we have of it in nature. In every living object that exists we distinguish first the life, then the form or shape in which that life manifests itself, then the power or effect as seen in the result which the life acting in its form or manifestation produces. And so we have God as the Unseen One, the Fountain of life; the Son as the Form or Image of God, the manifestation of the Unseen Life; and the Holy Spirit as the Power of that life proceeding from the Father and the Son, and working out the purpose of God's will in the Church. Applying this thought to God as the Holy One, we shall understand better the place of the Son and the Spirit as they bring to us the Holiness of God.