« ПредишнаНапред »
as to the terms to be used in the expression of her faith. We pass therefore to the last subject to be considered in connection with this Article.
III. The Explanation of the Doctrine. In considering what is to be said in explanation of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity it must ever be borne in mind that the terms used by the Church, uía oủola Tpeîs ÚTTOO TÁOELs, una substantia tres personce, “one substance, three persons,” are simply chosen by her in order to express as accurately as possible what she believes to be the real meaning of the statements of the Holy Scripture, in which our Lord revealed all that can be known by man of the divine nature. As we study the language in which our Lord speaks of Himself, and His relation to the Father and the Holy Spirit, it becomes clear that there are two principal dangers to be guarded against—(1) that of exaggerating the distinctions and so separating the “Persons,” and (2) that of explaining away the distinctions, so as ultimately to deny their reality. In other words, we are exposed on the one hand to the danger of 'confounding the Persons," as the Sabellians did; on the other to that of “ dividing the substance," as did the Arians and Socinians of a later day. The sketch given above of the growth of technical phraseology will have shown that the term Persons was only fixed upon to express the doctrine after much hesitation, because it became absolutely necessary, in the face of heresy, to use some term to describe what the Church meant by her teaching on “the Three in the Godhead”; and this term, though not altogether satisfactory, came nearer than any other to express what she understood Holy Scripture to teach. The matter is well put by Augustine in the following passage in his work on the Trinity :
Many writers in Latin who treat of these things, and are of authority, have said that they could not find any other more suitable way by which to enunciate in words that which they understood without words. For, in truth, as the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father, and that Holy Spirit, who is also called the gift of God, is neither the Father nor the Son, certainly they are three. And so it is said in the plural, "I and the Father are one.' For He did not say, 'is one, as the Sabellians say, but are one.' Yet, when the question is asked, what are the three ? human language labours altogether under great poverty of speech. The answer, however, is given, three Persons, not that that might be spoken, but lest nothing should be said.” 1
It is clear, then, from this confession that the term “cannot be employed without considerable intellectual caution." 2
We must guard against taking it in the sense of character, and also against thinking of three separate existences, such as we think of when the ex
1"Non audemus dicere unam essentiam, tres substantias ; sed unam essentiam vel substantiam ; tres autem personas, quemadmodum multi Latini ista tractantes et digni auctoritate dixerunt, cum alium modum aptiorem non invenirent quo enunciarent verbis quod sine verbis intelligebant. Re vera enim cum Pater non sit Filius, et Filius non sit Pater, et Spiritus Sanctus ille qui etiam donum Dei vocatur, nec Pater sit nec Filius, tres utique sunt. Ideoque pluraliter dictum est, Ego et Pater unum sumus. Non enim dixit, unum est, quod Sabelliani dicunt; sed, unum sumus. Tamen cum quæritur quid tres, magna prorsus inopia humanum laborat eloquium. Dictum est tamen tres non ut illud diceretur, sed ne taceretur."-De Trinitate, V. ix. ; cf. VII. vi. And S. Thomas Aquinas, Summa, la, Q. 29 a, 3, “ Conveniens est ut hoc nomen (persona) de Deo dicatur ; non tamen eodem modo quo dicitur de creaturis, sed excellentiori modo."
2 Liddon's Bampton Lectures, p. 32.
* It was probably for this reason that the Greek Church discouraged ind finally altogether discarded the use of the term apbownov as the equivalent of persona.
pression is applied to three men. “ The word Person, used in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, would on first hearing suggest Tritheism to one who made the word synonymous with individual; and Unitarianism another, who accepted it in the classical sense of a mask or character.” 1
The Church, it is needless to say, means neither of these. All that she intends to express by the use of the term “three Persons" is that which sho understands Holy Scripture to teach, namely, that there are three eternal distinctions in the divine nature, anterior to, and independent of any relation to created life.2
1. That the distinctions are eternal is clearly taught in such a passage as S. John i. 1. “The Word,” which was “in the beginning with God” (ipòs Tòv eóv) must have been distinct from God (8 cós), and yet "the Word was God” (cós). And were there no other passages bearing on the subject the saying of our Lord recorded in S. John xvii. 5 (“the glory which I had with Thee before the world was”) would of itself be sufficient to show that the Trinity is not merely “economic”-i.e. God did not become a Trinity when He manifested Himself to mankind as Creator, Redeemer, Sanctifier—but that it is “immanent," i.e. an eternal fact in the divine nature, altogether independent of relation to creation. The Son must have been a distinct Person" before the world was," if He then possessed a "glory” of His own" with the Father."
2. But while it is thus taught in Scripture that the Persons are eternally distinct, it is implied with equal clearness that though distinct they are not "separate." Our Lord's own deliberate utterance maintained His unity with the Father. "I and the Father are one." 'Εγώ και ο πατήρ έν εσμεν (S. John x. 30). «Every
Newman's Arians, p. 442.
word,” says Bishop Westcott, “in this pregnant clause is full of meaning. It is I, not the Son; the Father, not my Father; one essence (év, Vulgate unum), not one person (els, unus); are, not am ... It seems clear that the unity here spoken of cannot fall short of unity of essence. The thought springs from the equality of power (My hand, the Father's hand [see vers. 28, 29]); but infinite power is an essential attribute of God; and it is impossible' to suppose that two beings distinct in essence could be equal in power."1 Here then, in the compass of this brief utterance, we find a full and satisfactory refutation of both Arianism and Sabellianism. “Per unum Arius, per sumus Sabellius refutatur.” ? The plural verb emphasises the distinction of Persons, while the neuter, év (unur, abrings out the truth which the Church has expressed gd szying that the Son is “ of one substance with the Father,” that is, partaker of His eternal and essential nature.
3. But, further, while Holy Scripture in this way reveals to us the unity of the divine nature, there is another truth also taught in it which requires to be carefully kept before the mind, if the full teaching of the Church is to be realised. This is the truth that the Father is alone unoriginate, the fount of Deity in the eternal life of the Trinity. There is perhaps a danger lest we should represent to ourselves a sort of abstract “Godhead," behind the three Persons, and think that of it all three equally partake, so that in it is to be found their source and origin. Against any such erroneous notion the Church has guarded by the doctrine of the Monarchia, which teaches that the Father is the only source or åpxń, the sole Fount of Deity (Tiny Deótntos) from which the Son and Holy Ghost from all eternity derive their divine
Comnurntary on S. John's Gospel, in loc.
pression is applied to three men. “The word Person, used in the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, would on first hearing suggest Tritheism to one who made the word synonymous with individual; and Unitarianism to another, who accepted it in the classical sense of a mask or character.” 1 The Church, it is needless to say, means neither of these. All that she intends to express by the use of the term “three Persons” is that which she understands Holy Scripture to teach, namely, that there are three eternal distinctions in the divine nature, anterior to, and independent of any relation to created life.2
the distinctions are eternal is clearly taught First, the Son the
“The Word," which Third.
Nor is this order ghn i. 1. ternal and necessary, by virtue of a subordination of the Second unto the First, and the Third unto the First and Second. The Godheat was communicated from the Father to the Son, not from the Son unto the Father; though, therefore, this were done from all eternity, and so there can be no priority of time, yet there must be acknowledged a priority of order, by which the Father is First, and the Son Second. Again the same Godhead was communicated by the Father and the Son unto the Holy Ghost, not by the Holy Ghost to the Father or the Son; though, therefore, this was also done from all eternity, and therefore can admit of no priority in reference to time, yet that of order must be here observed; so that the Spirit receiving the Godhead from the Father, who is the First Person, cannot be the First; receiving the same from the Son, who is the Second, cannot be the Second, but, being from the First and Second, must be of the Three the Third." 2
1 Cf. Athanasius, Orat. Contr. Arian. iv. ch. i. uia åpxn Debtytos kal où δυο αρχαι όθεν κυρίως και μοναρχία εστίν.
Pearson, Exposition of the Creed, Article VIII. & 22; cf, Article I. ch. iij. g 11.