Imatges de pÓgina

be true to the data of revelation and so to combine the truths of the divine Unity and Tripersonality as to exclude incongruent or self-contradictory conceptions, and present the whole view in a form open to the unhindered acceptance of a rational faith. In the light of the theological discussion of the past we may rightly formulate the Scripture doctrine of the Trinity in the following propositions and explanations:

1. The fundamental Unity of God: There is one God, numerically one as excluding and denying any other-one God, indivisible in essence, substance, nature, and being. All the Scripture proofs of pure monotheism assure this. This Essence (Substance) in which the Unity stands, it must be remembered, is Spirit-essence.

II. The tripersonality, based on the Unity: This one indivisible Essence or Being, One God, exists eternally as three Subsistences, Hypostases or Persons, three forms of personal Godhead (uopoñi Deoû, Phil. ii. 6), Father, Son, and Holy Ghost—all being of the same Essence, but each distinguished by certain incommunicable peculiarities or relations not predicable of the others. These incommunicable properties, by which One is Father, One is Son, and One the Holy Spirit, form, not impersonal distinctions, but determinate personality which employs the pronouns “I," “ Thou,” and “He.” Tripersonality as truly belongs to God as does Unity. This involves no contradiction. For He is One and Three, not in the same respects, but in different respects. In respect of Essence He is One; in respect to His self-conscious Eternal Life He is Three-in total Being triune.

III. The relations between the Persons or Subsist

ences :

1. The three Persons exist eternally as One Being, or


indivisible Essence, that is God. This statement simply holds the tripersonality with the unity of the pure Christian monotheism.

2. Inasmuch as they are one Essence or Being, all the essential attributes belonging to that Essence, belong to each person. This proposition simply reminds us that the same Essence or Substance must hold throughout all the attributes which mark and identify it as the

All the essential divine attributes belong to the Father; all the essential divine attributes belong to the Son; all the essential divine attributes belong to the Holy Spirit. The affirmation rests the tripersonality in the unity, and relates the Persons as equal in essence.

3. They subsist in each other. This statement is employed both to guard the truth of the unity, One Essence, and to exclude the idea that the Persons or Subsistences have their divine character independently of each other. It has the aim of repudiating the notion likely to come from the misleading influence of the word “ Person" in human connection, of regarding the three divine Persons as subsisting separately alongside of each other, after the manner of three human persons possessing the same humanity. It excludes also all idea of subordination or inequality, and answers to words of our Lord Himself: "Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father in me" (John x. 38). This feature of the relation has been designated most frequently by the Greek term repixópnous, a moving round, or by the Latin immanentia, immeatio, circumincessio, or inexistentia mutua et singularissima, all expressing the idea that the Tripersonality is wholly within the very life-movement of the divine existence. The specification thus means that the Persons of the Godhead are such, i. e., divine Persons, not by and in themselves, but each with and in the others. They cannot be Godeither one or all—separate. They cannot be separated; and if conceived separated, the concept would not be a true concept of God; the result would be tritheism, or three coequal beings, no one with the fullness of Godhead. The Father is not God or Father without the Son and Holy Spirit ; the Son is not God without the Father and the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost is not God without the Father and the Son—but each is God in and with the others. Sartorius aptly says: “All that the

“ Father hath is the Son's (John xvi. 15); and the latter is, not through Himself, but through the Father, His essential equal, the express image of His being (Col. i. 15; Phil. ii. 6). . . . Not as though the Son were, or as though He had, another being beside the infinite Father; for if each had His own to Himself, they would then not have had all in common; they would then have confronted each other in mutual limitation, in a dualistic manner, having, so to speak, infinity, not almighty, but half-mighty, as two half-gods. No, says Christ, I and the Father are one (John x. 30, 38); the Son is not beside the Father as a second God, but in Him, in His bosom (John i. 18), in the one infinite glory of His being, a sharer thereof (ouocúolos) through the infinite unenvious love of the Father (John xvii. 24), who reserves nothing egotistically to Himself, but imparts all to Him, without thereby losing or alienating anything" (John iii. 35)."

This subsistence in each other explains the fact, hereafter to be noted, that while the Father, Son, and Spirit are specialized personal subsistences, and manifest them

“Doctrine of the Divine Love," p. 10.

selves in special activities, or opera ad extra, the distinguishing work of one may be ascribed also to the others. Though the Son is the revealer, the Father may be said to reveal Himself, for He does so in and through the Son (Heb. i. 2; John v. 17, 19; xiv. 9, II; 2 Cor. v. 19; John v. 22; compare with Acts xvii. 31). Whatever the Holy Spirit does Christ may be said to do; for the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Christ, as well as of the Father. Augustine carefully pointed out how the Three Persons of the Trinity were associated in every divine economic activity, as evidence against the encroaching of tritheism and subordination upon the Divine Unity.' This interpenetration, intercommunion, and intercommunication express the oneness of the divine life in all. The Father is not Father or God without the Son. The Son is not Son or God without the Father. One cannot be thought without the other. They are correlates.

4. The incommunicable, or untransferable peculiarities which distinguish the subsistences internally, as made known in the Scriptures, mark the following relations :

(a) As to the first Person, Himself unbegotten, eternally Father—the relation characterized by the terms begetting, yevous, generatio, with respect to the Son; and spiratio with respect to the Holy Spirit.

(6) As to the second Person, begotten, only begotten, filiatio, or generatio passiva, with respect to the Father ; and, according to the Western Church faith, also spiratio with respect to the Holy Spirit.

(C) As to the third Person, proceeding, étropévous, pra cessio, with respect to both the Father and the Son. For the source of the term “proceeding,” see John xv. 26. We need here, as with regard to the term Person, to guard carefully against understanding the various words employed in marking these relations simply in the sense of the human relations and experiences from which they are drawn. The transcendent realities in the Trinity, in the being of the eternal Spirit, cannot be exactly or adequately named in human speech, as they are beyond all human experiences which mould our words. The point of truth that we are seeking here to designate is, that these intransferable, tripersonal relations, in whatever form they may exist, are not mere aspects of manifestation, but internal in the Godhead, denoting eternal modes of the divine Essence ad intra, or as life-activities in God's very being. They are, so to speak, constitutional and immanent modes of the divine Essence, in which that Essence lives or energizes internally from everlasting to everlasting, and by which it is trinalized in three-form distinctions called Persons. This statement is not made to explain how this can be, but simply to hold together before our view the content of what the Scriptures manifestly speak of as a fact.

1"De Trinitate," III., Pref. iv., 21.

It will help our understanding of the use and significance of these terms as marking the Trinitarian personal relations, to keep in mind the following points :

(1) That it is in Spirit-Being that these activities and relations are affirmed to exist. God is not matter. The whole conception of dead material must be put far aside. SPIRIT is in its very nature and essence active. It is life —nothing dead, inert, rigid, immobile in it. Especially must the Absolute and Infinite Spirit be absolute and pure eternal life or movement. "The Father hath life in Himself”—is the “living God.” Before all worlds

· Dorner, “System of Christian Doctrine," I., p. 375.

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