Imatges de pÓgina
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conviction that Jesus Christ is Son of God. We may translate this into any language we like, but we cannot explain it away without a total departure from the ancient faith of Christendom. To say, therefore, that it has only a historic interest, as representing the point of view of that day, does not quite correspond with the facts. It is the Nicene form given to the thought that Christ is Son of God, just as oμoovσiov is the Greek word expressed in English by the phrase "of one substance." The real matter is one of fact, of truth or falsity, and not of expression merely.

We have now concluded our account of the Christian doctrine of God. We contend that it is the result of revelation, by which we do not mean that it was thrust in upon the mind of man without any relation to his own method of thought, or that the Word of God had no influence upon the minds of thinkers outside the lines of the Jewish and Christian faiths; but that its certainty is greater than any which can be reached by merely human methods. The nature of this certainty consists largely in certain coincidences. It consists in the coincidence of the Christian doctrine of God, as flowing from the Person of Christ, with the highest and best aspirations of man's heart and mind. But more than this, it satisfies questionings which, but for it, could never have arisen. It is not, therefore, a human solution of the world's problem, more successful than others, but it comes from a knowledge of the actual conditions of things which is wider than any that man can boast. All human speculations, so far as they are true, find place under its shadow, and yet there is room.

This fact justifies the method which we described in the Introduction. So far from being an advantage to

to

the Creed to be capable of demonstration by ordinary speculative methods, such an event would be the demonstration that its claim was false. The method proper Theology will not be that of a science of which human experience supplies all the subject-matter. In Theology we shall have done our utmost, and done, too, all that any one has a right to expect, if we show the coherence of the Articles of the Creed with the ultimate needs of

man.

The Doctrine of God. Sabellianism, etc., Tert., Adv. Praxeam. S. Ath., Or. adv. Ar. IV. S. Bas., Ep. 210. Trinitarianism, Didymus, De Trin. S. Basil, De Spiritu Sancto. S. Aug., De Trinitate. S. Thom. Aq., Summa, Pt. I. Quæst. xxvii.-xliii. Waterland, On the Trinity. Lux Mundi, Ess. ii. Martineau, Study of Religion, Bk. II. ch. i.

For the Relation of the Doctrine to Greek Thought.Cudworth, True and Intellectual System. Morgan, The Trinity of Plato and Plotinus. Hatch, Hibbert Lectures. General History of the Doctrine.—Baur, Lehre der Dreieinigkeit.

CHAPTER V

THE DOCTRINE OF MAN: CREATION-FALL-ATONEMENT

TILL recent years Creation would have seemed an easy subject to describe. It would have been enough to cite the evidence of the first chapter of Genesis, and then it would have been assumed that the meaning was plain; that God made separately the various kinds of animals, as a man might make various kinds of figures in wood or stone. The exact analysis of the idea of Creation was pratically ignored. It would have been thought sufficient to mention it as a fact. But the doctrine of evolution has changed all this. It is no longer possible to speak of Creation and suppose that its meaning is clear; the exact sense in which God is believed to be in contact with the created world has to be explained.

Two ideas seem to be essential to the notion of Creation: (1) that God was really and exclusively the agent in the production of the created world; (2) that the process occurred in time. We must consider both these points somewhat carefully.

I. God is really and exclusively the agent in the production of the created world. In the last chapter we said that the Trinitarian view of God relieved us of the pantheistic necessity of conceiving the world as a

necessary condition of the completeness of the Divine Life. The Holy Trinity is eternally complete, needing nothing from without; the world has no necessary existence, it depends for its being simply upon the fiat of God. It is sometimes argued that this theory of Creation really involves a degradation of God, since it imposes limits upon His changelessness and His infinity, and implies the operation of motives of desire and want, thus suggesting material limitations. The argument that the changelessness of God is affected by Creation turns on the assumption that before the created world. started into being, God must have meant not to create, that He then changed His mind and brought the world into being. We are not in a position to discuss this fully as yet, because it raises the difficulty of understanding time in connection with the Divine purpose. We may, however, answer provisionally that though God cannot change His will, He may will a change, and that we have no reason for saying that the will to create was the fruit of a sudden or accidental motive.

1

The second is a more serious difficulty. It seems to involve a real limitation upon the infinity of God, that He should fix definite laws for created existence and allow a thought to take shape, as it were, outside Himself in an independent fashion. It is possible that Creation may mean in some sense a self-limitation on the part of God, though we cannot fully understand in what sense. But it will be remembered that in the last chapter we quoted an ancient doctrine mentioned by S. Irenæus, that the nature of God is self-limiting; the Father, writes S. Irenæus, is unmeasured, the Son is the measure of the

1 S. Thom. Aq., Summa Theol., Pt. I, Quæst. xix. Art. vii.

Father. This thought is far truer, we believe, and more suitable to the notion of God than the popular epithet infinite. This word is purely negative in its associations; it means literally nothing but the absence of all limits. And there is nothing in it to show that it does not include the absence of all positive existence. Positive existence involves limitations of a certain kind; it is impossible to imagine a being who has not some definite character, i.e., who is not also necessarily without certain other definite characters, and if all positive characteristics are equally derogatory to an Infinite Being, there is nothing for it but to deny His existence.2

Moreover, such a conception of God leaves out of account any idea of personal activity and life; for these are no less unworthy than positive limitations: and therefore the notion of God belongs to an atmosphere, as it were, which is beneath personal being, a dead, motionless, and characterless person is inconceivable. It must not be supposed that we accept or offer for acceptance the opposite term finite. What we desire to affirm is, that neither finite nor infinite has any proper meaning apart from the idea of quantity, and that this is out of place in speaking of personal life. On the other hand, the idea of self-limitation has none of the disadvantages

1 'Pater immensus, mensura Patris Filius,' Adv. Hær. IV. iv. 2. 2 It has, of course, been maintained by a certain class of theologians that the truest form in which we can conceive of the existence of God is a negation-that non-existence is as true of God as existence, because His mode of Being must be so widely diverse from anything of which we can have experience that every account of Him must be wrong. We are inclined to think that the strong insistence in modern times upon the conception of infinity has some survival of that negative point of view still remaining in it, and that it is open to the same objections. Cf. Philo, Leg. All. I. xv. S. Clem. Alex., Dion. Areop., 14.

Strom. V. xi. 72, 82, 83.
De Div. Nom. i. 1, 3, 4.

Plot., Enn. VI. ix. 3.
Scot. Erig., De Div. Nat. i.

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