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held to be. So, in order to defend himself from anything like Tritheism, Tertullian lays down that the Son is of one substance (unius substantice with the Father.1 Ву early Greek Fathers the nature or essence of the Godhead which is communicated to the Son and Holy Spirit from all eternity was expressed by two words—ousia (ovola), and hypostasis (útbotaos). Some among the Alexandrians especially have employed the former word to denote the essence or “substance” of the Godhead, while elsewhere among the Greeks hypostasis was sometimes used with the same meaning. But while the unity was thus established, it was also necessary to define more closely in what the distinctions within the Godhead consist. The Sabellians taught that they were merely distinctions of character. In opposition to this erroneous teaching the Church was driven to enlarge her terminology. She was compelled to explain what she meant by her Creed, and forced to say what was to be understood by her assertion that the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost were
“ three.” Three what ? This question was persistently asked, though it is clear that the Church at first shrank from answering, feeling that no one human term was adequate to express exactly what she under
Adv Praxeam, ch. ii.: "Nihilominus custodiatur olkovoulas sacramentum, quæ unitatem in trinitatem disponit, tres dirigens, Patrem et Filium, et Spiritum Sanctum, tres autem non statu sed gradu, nec substantia sed forma, nec potestate sed specie, unius autem substantive et unius status et unius potestatis, quia unus Deus, ex quo et gradus isti et formæ et species in nomine Patris et Filii et Spiritus Sancti deputantur.”
* Clement of Alexandria has ovola, Strom. ii. 2, 5; iv. 25, 163 ; v. 10, 66. Still earlier, Justin Martyr had spoken of the Son as not being separ. ated from the ouola of the Father, Dial. ch. 128. Origen also has oiola. In Joann. X. 21, De Orat. 23, and so have the Alexandrian Diony, sius, and Alexander. Ümbotaois is used by Dionysius of Rome (Routh, Reliquiæ Sacræ, iii. p. 373), as well as by Gregory Thaumaturgus (cf. Basil, Ep. 210, 5). It is also the term generally employed by Athanasius himself for "substance," though in one of his earlier works he speaks of "three Hypostases." See Robertson's Athanasius, p. 90.
stood the language of Scripture to teach. She would have preferred to remain content with expressing the unity by the neuter of the pronoun, saying that the Father and the Son were unum, not unus, and the distinction by the masculine; yet Tertullian, in writing against Praxeas, is at last compelled to use the word Persons, Personce. Hippolytus, a little later, uses apówna, its true Greek equivalent. Origen, however, employing hypostasis in a different sense from that in which it had been generally used by the Church, speaks of there being more hypostases than one in the Godhead, thus making it the equivalent of Person, and using it to express the distinction. It will be seen from what has now been said that a door was opened to confusion of thought, the word hypostasis being taken in two different senses, in one of which it expressed an entirely different conception from the Latin substantia, its true etymological equivalent. Hence, in the fourth century, two questions arose with regard to υπόστασις. .
(a) Is there one, or are there three in the Godhead ? (6) What is its Latin equivalent ?
(a) The use of the word Ousia for “Substance by the vihrought more into prominence by the language orthodox thus ed at Nicæa (325) against the Arian confronted with the accepting the truth of Chef. ch. xii. : "Alium autem quomodo His personal distinction frometerum ubique teneam unam sub
e: personæ, non substantiæ, nomine, ad those who maintained it with Tri Gods. To meet this charge it bechilosoph. ix. 12.
οστάσεις πειθόμενοι τυγχάνειν. . to dwell on the unity, but also to
an Platonists 0) Alexandria, the distinction between Father, So is commonly Hypostasis, that
put is frequently ousia." Yet 1 Our knowledge of Praxeas is chiefly d tinctions : De Orat. 15, &repos him. For the character of his teaching ser tatpós, as also did Pierius of
See Eusebius, V. xxviii.
heresy, which denied the eternal Divinity of the Son. In the Creed which was there promulgated, it was stated that the Son was “ Only-Begotten, that is, of the substance of the Father” (μονογενή τουτέστιν εκ της ουσίας του matpós), and again that He is “of one substance with the Father " (ouoouo lov tỘ matpi). But in the anathemas appended to the Creed, the use of ÚTootaois as an equivalent for oủola was recognised, for those were condemned who said that the Son was of “a different substance or essence” from the Father (è étépas ÚTOotáoews ň oủolas). Consequently, this older use of the word hypostasis for Substance lingered on side by side with the more recent use, in which it was taken as meaning Person. It is obvious that such a double use of a single term might lead to misconception and misunderstanding Those who took hypostasis as identical in meaning with ousia, would charge anyone who spoke of " three Hypostases” with Arianism or Tritheism, and might fairly appeal to the Nicene anathema in support of their views; while, on the other hand, those who were familiar with the use of the word in the sense of Person would regard the assertion that there
one Hypostasis " in the Godhead as pure Sabellianism. And this is, in fact, what actually happened. The trouble arose at Antioch in connection with the Meletian schism. And, together with other questions raised by that schism, it was brought before the Council of Alexandria in 362. There the question of terminology was inquired into, and, by the wise moderation of Athanasius, the trouble was set at rest. Both parties stated their views before the Council, and were cross-examined as to the meaning of the terms they employed. The result was, that it was speedily made manifest that both were perfectly orthodox. Hypostasis " was not intended to be Sabellian, nor was three Hypostases” meant to express Arian views. AC
cordingly, it was agreed that each party might retain its own usage, since questions of words must not be suffered to divide those who think alike. By this wise decision any danger of a schism on account of the varying terminology was avoided. But still some inconvenience could not but be felt at this double use of the term hypostasis now as Person," and now as Substance." This was gradually removed by the general adoption of the phraseology first employed by Origen. Πρόσωπα gradually dropped out of use, ousia was universally employed to denote the substance, and hypostasis was restricted to mean the distinctions, and thus in the end all the Greeks united in the formula, μια ουσία τρεις υποστάσεις.8
(6) Meanwhile, in the west, some difficulty had arisen with regard to the word to be used to express the distinctions within the Godhead. Substantia was, of course, the true etymological equivalent of hypostasis; and, indeed, hypostasis, in the sense of substance or essence, seems to have been originally adopted by the Greeks as its translation. When, then, the Greek hypostasis had had a new meaning stamped upon it, and was used as equivalent to Person, what were the Latins to do? Were they to alter their terminology as the Greeks had done, or to continue to use the expression which had come down to them with the authority of the earlier Fathers, such as Tertullian? Some few Latin writers, such as Hilary of Poictiers, attempted to assimilate their terminology to that of the Eastern Church, and spoke of " tres substantice," 1 but such language never found favour in the west. It could not safely be used without a great deal of explanation, and to most minds would be immediately suggestive of Arianism. Consequently it soon dropped out of use. It is vehemently rejected by Jerome 2 and Augustine, the latter of whom speaks as if the phraseology was firmly fixed as una essentia or substantia, and tres persona, by the time when he wrote his great work on the Trinity (A.D. 416). And in the use of these terms the Western Church since then has never varied.
1 See Athanasius, Tomus ad Antiochenos, sec. 5 seq., in Robertson's Athanasius, p. 484.
2 Although at Sardica (343), as at Nicæa, oủola and Útóctons had been treated as identical, yet they are carefully distinguished in the synodal letter sent from Constantinople in 382, which speaks of ovola ula . . . € τρισι τελειοτάταις υποστάσεσιν, ήτοι τρισί τελείoις προσώποις.
3 'Ουσία signifying τήν φύσιν της θειότητος, and υποστάσεις expressing Tås TÔ Tply lô!ótytas. - Greg. Nazianz. Orat. xxi. 46, with which cf. Hooker, V. li. § 1.
There is no need to pursue the history of the doctrine further. There have, it is true, from time to time been serious controversies within the Church as to its exact meaning, and incautious language has sometimes been used, that was perilously near to Tritheism on the one hand and Sabellianism on the other. But there has been no change or wavering on the part of the Church
1 Hilary, De Synodis. He is, however, very careful to explain his language. “Idcirco tres substantias esse dixerunt, subsistentium personas per substantias edocentes, non substantiam Patris et Filii diversitate dissimilis essentiæ separantes.”— Vol. ii. p. 480.
Ep. ad Damasum, xv., where he gives an account of the trouble in which he was involved in Syria, because of his refusal to speak of "three Hypostases,” a refusal which he bases on the ground that, “in the whole range of secular learning, hypostasis never means anything but essence.'
* S. Aug. De Trinitate, V. ix.
* For the later history of the doctrine reference may be made to Hagenbach's History of Doctrines, vol. ii. p. 209, and vol. iii. p. 327. In the leventh century the nominalism of Roscellinus exposed him to the harge of Tritheism, while Abelard's teaching drew upon him the charge of Sabellianism. For the controversy in the seventeenth century between Dr. South and Dean Sherlock, in which charges of Sabellianism were gain raised, see Perry's English Church History, pt. ii. p. 564; and on Waterland's masterly vindication of the doctrine of the Trinity, in oppo. tion to the Arianism of Dr. Clarke and others, see Abbey and Overton's nglish Church in the Eighteenth Century, ch. viii.