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revelation. If it is clear that the doctrine is contained in Holy Scripture, and that the Holy Scripture is a revelation from God, then the doctrine must be received, not as reasonable" nor as
nor as “unreasonable," but simply as scriptural. It is only from what God has disclosed to us of Himself and His eternal Being that we are entitled to affirm the existence of personal distinctions within the divine nature. But, still, when once the doctrine has been revealed it can be shown to be "agreeable to reason," and to harmonise with and throw fresh light upon man's deepest thoughts of God. Our whole conception of God is an unworthy and impoverished ono unless we regard Him as in His essence love. But if He be indeed essentially and eternally love, it would seem to follow of necessity that there must be a plurality within the Godhead. Love requires an object on which to spend itself. It is only conceivable as “a personal relationship of a lover and a loved ”; and unless God only became love when His creative work was begun, He must have found within His divine Being one toward whom His love could eternally flow forth. And that which reason is thus seen to demand is supplied in the Christian doctrine of “the Word " which "was in the beginning with God,” and which “was God.” In the only-begotten Son, who is revealed to us as from all eternity " in the bosom of the Father," is found the eternal object of the divine love.
Whether we can go further than this, and say that reason suggests that there are more than two Persons within the Godhead may be doubtful. It has appeared indeed to many thoughtful minds that certain considerations almost necessitate a Trinity. It has been pointed out that our own personality is necessarily triune, and that if we are to think of God as personal, we must regard Him as possessing in transcendent perfection the same attributes which are imperfectly possessed by man, and as therefore triune. 1 Again, where there is a subject and an object there must be that which unites them. So some have felt that reason points not only to the Eternal Father and the Eternal Son, but to the Eternal Spirit, the bond of love that unites them. But there is no need to press such considerations as these. They will probably never appeal forcibly to any but the few who are philosophically trained. Without laying stress on them we may well be content to find that reason is so far in harmony with revelation as to suggest that at least there are personal distinctions of some sort within the Godhead, and that our God is no “ monotonous unity," no “ lonely” God, but one who is eternal love. ?
II. The History of the Doctrine in the Church and the
growth of Technical Phraseology in connection with it.
When we pass from Holy Scripture to the writers of the early Christian Church we find ample proof that from the very first the doctrine of the Holy Trinity was held and believed, although the belief was what may be called an implicit and informal one. The Church was content to believe without defining. Nor did she at first feel the need of technical phraseology, or terms to express with accuracy the relation of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, or the exact character of the unity. In the earliest days, therefore, we hear nothing of such terms as “Trinity," "Three Persons," or "One Substance." But still we can clearly see not only that the faith of the Church was monotheistic, but also that the Son and Holy Spirit were believed in as God, and yet were
Illingworth's Bampton Lectures, p. 74.
2 See on the whole subject Illingworth's Bampton Lectures, p. 67 seq. and Gore's Bampton Lectures, p. 134 seq.
not confused with or merged in the Person of the Father. Thus Clement of Rome, the earliest of the Fathers, writing before the close of the first century, says: “As God liveth and the Lord Jesus Christ liveth, and the Holy Ghost, who are the faith and hope of the elect."i The language of Ignatius more especially on the Divinity of the Christ is most emphatic, while in some passages of his epistles the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are mentioned together in such a way as to show that Ignatius recognised real distinctions within the Godhead.
During the latter half of the second century the language of the Fathers begins to be somewhat more precise and formal,* and recognised terms now make their appearance. The word Trinity is the earliest. The
Clem. Rom., Ad Cor. i. ch. lviii.; cf. ch. xlvi., "Have we not one God and one Christ and one Spirit of grace that is shed forth upon
' E.g., "Ignatius, who is also Theophorus, unto her that hath found mercy in the bountifulness of the Father most high, and of Jesus Christ His only Son; to the Church that is beloved and enlightened through the will of Him who willed all things that are, by faith and love towards Jesus Christ our God." Ad Rom. ch. i.; cf. ch. vi., “Permit me to be an imitator of the passion of my God."
3 Ignatius, Ad Ephes. ch. ix., "Ye are stones of a temple, which were prepared beforehand for a building of God the Father, being hoisted up to the heights through the engine of Jesus Christ, which is the cross, and using for a rope the Holy Spirit.” Ad Magnes. ch. xiii., “Do your diligence therefore that ye be confirmed in the ordinances of the Lord and of the Apostles, that ye may prosper in all things whatsoever ye do in flesh and spirit, by faith and by love, in the Son and Father and in the Spirit.”
“Nothing is said in the text of the well-known passage in Justin Martyr's first Apology (ch. vi.) in which he appears to include the angels as objects of the Christian's worship, placing them before the Holy Ghost, because there is evidently some error connected with it; cf. Otto's note, in
As Professor Swete observes : “Certainly no writer, catholic or heretical, would have intentionally represented the Holy Spirit as inferior to angels ; so that the passage, if pressed against S. Justin's orthodoxy, proves too much.”—Early History of the Doctrine of the Holy Ghost, p. 17.
Greek T'piás is found for the first time in the works of Theophilus of Antioch (A.D. 180), who speaks of the first three days of creation as “ Types of the Trinity, of God, and of His word, and of His wisdom."i The Latin word Trinitas occurs a few years later in the writings of Tertullian, himself the first Latin writer of the Church, 2 and from his days onwards it is used as a well-known term.
Athenagoras, one of the Greek apologists who wrote about 176, uses language which shows that the relation of the three Persons of the Godhead was beginning to attract attention. “ Who would not marvel to hear men call us atheists, although we speak of God the Father, and God the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and set forth at once their power in unity (την εν τη ενώσει δύναμιν), and their distinction in order” (την εν τη τάξει διαίρεσιν). But it was not till the rise of false teaching forced the orthodox to say what they meant by their belief that the terms Person and Substance came into use. During the last quarter of the second century two formidable heresies arose, in meeting which the Church was compelled to enlarge her vocabulary, and make use of more precise and definite language with regard to the Godhead than she had hitherto done. When Theodotus and Artemon taught that Christ was “a mere man " (finoy åv@pwarov), it became necessary to bring into even greater
1 Ad Autolycum. i. sec. 15, τύποι της τριάδος, του θεού και του Λόγου αυτού και της Σοφίας αυτού. .
Adv. Praxeam, ch. iii. 3 So S. Cyprian speaks of the Jews as having observed three hours of prayer, “Sacramento Trinitatis."—De Dom. Orat. ch. 34.
* Legat. a.
8 On the heresy of the Artemonites, see Eusebius, V. ch. xxviii. Artemon taught at Rome at the end of the second and beginning of the third century. He was excommunicated by Pope Zephyrinus (A.D. 198-217).
prominence than before the truth which had been held all along that He is essentially divine. When, on the other hand, Praxeas 1 taught that Christ was personally one with the Father, so that it was actually the Father who suffered on the cross in the character of the Son, the Church in denying this was compelled to say what she held the distinctions within the Godhead to be.
The particular form of heresy of which Praxeas appears to have been the originator is sometimes called Patripassianism, from the fact that its advocates asserted that the person of the Father suffered in Christ; and sometimes Sabellianism, from a teacher who refined somewhat on the teaching of Praxeas. Its essential feature consists in the denial that the distinctions in the Godhead are personal, and the assertion that they are merely distinctions of character, phenomenal rather than real.
It is only after the rise of these two heresies that the terms Person and Substance begin to come into prominence. The teaching of Artemon was characterised as a
God-denying apostasy.” It was met by a threefold appeal, to Holy Scripture, to the traditional teaching, and to the worship of the Church; and it was shown that the essential Divinity of Christ had been believed in by the Church from the beginning. But then, as the orthodox thus met the teaching of Artemon, they were confronted with the assertions of the Sabellians, who, accepting the truth of Christ's Divinity, erred in denying His personal distinction from the Father, and charged those who maintained it with Tritheism, or belief in three Gods. To meet this charge it became necessary not only to dwell on the unity, but also to explain of what kind the distinction between Father, Son, and Holy Ghost was
1 Our knowledge of Praxeas is chiefly due to Tertullian's work against him. For the character of his teaching see especially ch. i.
? See Eusebius, V. xxviii,