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greatest elaboration. The author searches all through nature and human life for analogies by which to make his meaning clearer, and his book has been the source of most speculation upon the subject in the West.
It is easy to see that this way of looking at the relations of the three Persons is far more nearly akin to the phrase added by the Westerns to the Nicene Creed than to that which the Eastern theologians prefer. The phrase 'through the Son' is more definite-enters too accurately into the nature, if we may so say, of the procession for the Western mind. Under the influence of S. Augustine Western theologians have thought more of the indissoluble unity of will and operation in the Holy Trinity than of the precise contribution (to speak in human language) of each single Person. To them, therefore, the indifferent conjunction 'and' is preferable to the definiteness of the Greek preposition 'through.' And the difficulty which the Greeks raised against their phraseology, that it slurred over the unity of the source of Godhead, can hardly have been before their minds. To say that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and the Son would not suggest to them a twofold origin or principle of Deity; it would simply affirm, with the indefiniteness of inadequate knowledge, the co-operation of the Son in that which the Father does.
We have entered somewhat more carefully into this matter than may seem quite necessary in a work of the present scale, because it is of great importance to insist that there is no radical dogmatic difference on this point between the Eastern and Western Churches. Both held precisely the same beliefs, and hold them still; but they describe them, as has been shown, in different ways.
And a point like this could hardly have been a subject upon which two churches could have suspended communion, if it had not been for the rancour which political disputes imparted to the discussion.
But the question may still be asked, Which expression is preferable? Being in communion with the Western Church, and under Western influences, we not unnaturally prefer the Western use, and see reasons for preferring it. The Eastern phrase, as we have already hinted, is closely associated with metaphysical speculations. It marks the influence of the Greek philosophical types of thought upon the doctrines of the Church. Without in any degree implying any variation from absolute identity of essence between Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, it still bears a somewhat striking resemblance to those systems of development which Platonism had devised by way of an explanation of the world. The aim of these was, as we have mentioned more than once, to explain the rise of the world as it is at present, from a Being absolutely simple and changeless in nature. To this end the changeless Being was supposed to have evolved beings, like Himself indeed, but with a tendency away from Himself towards creation, through which, many or few as the case might be, creation was evolved. The subordination-idea, when applied to the Holy Trinity without qualification from the other point of view, is apt to look painfully like one of these speculations. And directly the phrases which express it become matter of controversy they tend to lose their due qualifications. The doctrine of the coinherence, on the other hand, is the peculiar property of Christian thought. It is impregnated through and through with the specially Christian belief in God as Love; without
in any measure blurring or confusing the distinctions between the Persons, it keeps steadily in view the unity of God, and insists upon the co-operation of the whole Trinity of Persons in every act of God. And we believe that the Western phrase has arisen owing to the emphasis laid upon this doctrine by the greatest theologian of the West.
We have been chiefly concerned of late with mysteries. We have spoken to the best of our powers about the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, using as a guide the interpretation of it given by S. Augustine. And we have pointed out that the definition of it involved no presumption on the part of the Church, for the problem was set before it by the words of our Lord; and that no theory about it which regards it as a mere economy or condescension can be regarded as satisfactory. In some sense or another it states what is fact about God (indeed, if it does not, it is hard to see in what sense it is a concession to human infirmity, for it certainly does not make things easier); but we have not yet ventured upon the question what exactly it is that it does tell us, what it is that we regard as fact. To this we must now proceed.
What do we mean by Person as applied to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? We have observed that the analogy of human personality and its complex selfrealization fails us here. For men find themselves raised into completeness by means of others no less personal than they, no less independent and self-contained. And all these conditions are human; they belong to beings who are limited in time and space, who are enclosed in the prison-house of the flesh: union so accidental and dissoluble as that between man and man
can hardly be applied directly to the indissoluble unity of the Godhead.
Let us ask first how we came to use this word Person at all. It is of course an inheritance from the Latin Church, and goes back to the days of Tertullian. In Roman law, from which some have derived its use, it means a holder of legal rights. In this sense it would not be quite coextensive with our word 'person.' For we should call a slave a person, though he was incapable of sustaining legal rights, and we should not call a Corporation or College a 'person,' though legal rights may be vested in one. These differences of usage serve to bring out the central meaning of the Latin word: we may paraphrase it 'one who performs, or is capable of, certain functions.' The term is applied in view of these alone, nothing is said of any other characters he may sustain. If this legal phraseology is the origin of the use of the word, there is no Greek theological phrase which precisely corresponds with it. But there is another theory of its origin which connects it with the Greek рóσwжоv. This word and its Latin equivalent mean 'a character' in a play, and referred originally to the mask worn by the actor rather than to the part he played. Whatever be the exact history of πρόσωπον and persona in the sense of πρόσωπον, there can be no doubt that the words are inadequate to the purpose required of them. They tend to mean merely aspects' of a Divine substance, and therefore savour of Sabellianism.
On the Greek side there are two words which are of
importance here—οὐσία and ὑπόστασις. They seem originally to have been almost equivalent terms; that is, it seems to have been equally accurate to say that there is
one ovσía, or that there is one vπóσTaσis in the nature of God. But by degrees, through a process which we need not describe in detail, vπóσraσis was reserved to express the three Persons, while ovoía was used as before for the Divine Substance. Thus it would become necessary to speak of one οὐσία and three ὑποστάσεις. This change caused some stir in the West. The Latins had translated ÚTÓ-σTaσis into sub-stantia, and used substantia as an equivalent to ovoía. It was, therefore, a great shock to Jerome on going to the East to find theologians there speaking of three vooráσes, which he, of course, translated 'tres substantias.' In the end persona is used where óσTαois would be used in Greek, and substantia is restricted to the sense of οὐσία. The word ÚTÓσTασis was a metaphysical word, for which we have no exact equivalent. Having originally meant the sediment at the bottom of a fluid, it came to mean the substratum or ground of qualities, and so a person, that is, the underlying reality upon which various characters and experiences are based.1 It is plain that this is too strong a word, as persona was seen to be too weak. It goes too far in the way of separation, and inclines towards Tritheism, as the other word had inclined towards Sabellianism.
Let us now ask what it is that we know of each of the three Divine Persons. Of the Father we know that He so loved the world that He sent His Son into it to save it; that He is the source of all that the Son does (S. John v. 19); that He has sent us a Comforter in place of the presence of His Son Incarnate. That is, the
1 It is worth mentioning that in Heraclides Ponticus the verb iploraolai constantly means to play the part of, to represent, which may possibly connect vπóσraσis with persona in the sense of mask.' Cf. for instance, Hom. All., chap. lxv.