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for and express the infinite, absolute Jehovah. They may each declare, “I am He;" for what they impart to us of him is their true reality. ... The Father plans, presides, and purposes for us; the Son expresses his intended mercy, proves it, brings it down even to the level of a fellow-feeling; the Spirit works within us the beauty he reveals, and the glory beheld in his life. . . . Each and all together dramatize and bring forth into life about us that Infinite One, who, to our mere thought, were no better than Brahma sleeping on eternity and the stars. ... There is, then, a real and proper Trinity in the Scriptures; three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,
Do you ask whether I mean simply to assert a modal Trinity, or three modal persons ? I must answer obscurely. ... If I
If I say that they are modal only, as the word is commonly used, I may deny more than I am justified in denying, or am required to deny, by the ground I have taken. I will only say that the Trinity, or the three persons, are given to me for the sake of their external expression, not for the internal investigation of their contents. ... Perhaps I shall come nearest to the simple, positive idea of the Trinity here maintained, if I call it an INSTRUMENTAL TRINITY, and the persons INSTRUMENTAL PERSONS.. In and through these living persons, or impersonations, I find the Infinite One brought down even to my own level of humanity, without any loss of his greatness, or reduction of his majesty.
.. I perceive, too, that God may as well offer himself to me in these persons, as through trees or storms or stars; that they involve as little contrariety, as few limitations, and yield as much more of warmth as they have more of life. ... But some one, I suppose, will require of me to answer whether the three persons are eternal, or only occasional, and to be discontinued. Undoubtedly, the distinction of the Word, or the power of self-representation in God thus denominated, is eternal. And, in this, we have a permanent ground of possibility for the threefold impersonation called Trinity. Accordingly, if God has been eternally revealed, or revealing himself to created minds, it is likely always to have been, and always to be, as the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. Consequently, it may always be in this manner that we shall get our impressions of God, and have our communion with him. ... That which most discourages such a belief is the declaration of Paul, “ When all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto Him that did put all things under him, that God may be all and in all.” DR. HORACE BUSHNELL : God in Christ, pp. 173–7.
We must allow the divine persons to be real substantial beings, if we allow each person to be God, unless we will call any thing a God which has no real being, as that has not which has not a real nature and essence; whereas all men grant that there are no accidents or qualities or modes in God but a pure and simple essence, or pure act; and therefore the three divine persons are substantially distinct, though in one undivided substance. ...... It is plain the schoolmen were no Sabellians. They did not think the three divine persons to be only three names of the same infinite being, but acknowledged each person to be really distinct from one another, and each of them to have the same numerical essence, and to be truly and properly God, and not to be three modes of the same infinite God, which is little better than three names of one God. . . . By these modi subsistendi (that the Father is of himself, or without any cause; that the Son is begotten of the Father; that the Holy Ghost proceeds from Father and Son] they did not mean, as some mistake them, that the three divine persons are three modes of the Deity, or only modally distinguished; for there are no modes, no more than there are qualities and accidents, in the Deity; much less can a mode be a God. To be sure, all men must grant that the Father is not a mode of the Deity, but essentially God, and yet he has his modus subsistendi, as well as the Son and the Holy Ghost; and no man can think that the Father begat only a modus, and called it his Son, whereas a son signifies a real the same nature, but distinct from his Father. DR. WILLIAM SHERLOCK : Vindication of the Doctrine of the Trinity, pp. 47, 83-4.
Though the Latin word persona, as you say, according to the true and ancient sense, may well enough admit to be so taken as that the same man might sustain three persons, I offer it to your reconsideration whether ever you have observed the word “hypostasis,” in any sort of authors, when it signifies any person at all, ... to be taken in that sense; and whether one hypostasis so taken, as it uses to be when it signifies a person, may not be capable of sustaining three of those persons which you here describe; and whether, according to this sense, you mean not God to be only one such hypostasis. Be pleased further hereupon to consider how well it agrees with this supposition of God's being but one hypostasis, or intelligent suppositum, so frequently to speak as the Holy Scriptures do of the Father, Son or Word, the Spirit or Holy Ghost, as three distinct I's
or He's. ... But the distinct predicates spoken of the three sacred persons in the Godhead seem much more to challenge a greater distinction of the persons than your notion of a person doth seem to admit; that of sending, and being sent, spoken so often of the first in reference to the second, and of the first and second in reference to the third, as not to need the quoting of places. If the same man were a king, a general, and a judge, methinks it would not well square with the usual forms of speaking among men (and God speaks to men as men) to say, that, as the first, he sends the two latter, that is, himself. ... How the incarnation of the Son can be understood, according to your notion of person, without the Father's and Holy Ghost's incarnation also, I confess I cannot apprehend. Your notion of a person ... seems to leave the Godhead to be but one hypostasis, or person in the latter sense. ... Doth not this civil or merely respective notion of a person, the other being left, fall in with the Antitrinitarian?... And consider whether, by your notion of a person, you forsake not the generality of them who have gone, as to this point, under the repute of orthodox; who no doubt have understood, by three persons, three intelligent hypostases.
Yourself acknowledge three somewhats in the Godhead distinct, or else they could not be three. I will not here urge, that, if they be three somewhats, they must be three things, not three nothings. JOHN HOWE: Letters to Dr. Wallis ; in Works, vol. i. pp. 562—3, 566.
I have sometimes almost been led strongly to wish that the word (“person "] had never come into use among Christians; as it is a stranger, at least in the sense of modern usage, to the Scriptures. .. Yet, after all the difficulties which lie in the way, I am not persuaded that the word can now be dismissed from our theological vocabulary. When the Father is represented as sending his Son into the world in order to redeem it, and the Son as saying, “ Lo! I come, my God, to do thy will ;." when God sends his Spirit, and pours out his Spirit; when I, thou, he, are employed with verbs, &c., designating purposes, actions, feelings, &c., of Father, Son, and Spirit; when we acknowledge that there are works or developments appropriate to each, — in what way are we to designate the distinctions which these things and modes of representation seem to imply, if not by the use of the word "person ”? Let any one who acknowledges the fact of such distinctions: make the effort to designate them conveniently, and yet avoid the use of the word “person," and he will find himself embarrassed. — MOSES STUART, in Biblical Repository or July, 1835; vol. vi. p. 98.
The preceding extract we have made from Stuart as an answer to his own Sabellian views. It must indeed be embarrassing, if not impossible, for any one to employ language clearly involving the idea of distinct personality, consciousness, and agency, as that quoted here from Scripture in reference to God and Christ, without being reduced to the necessity of using terms less vague than " distinctions” or “relations," without being compelled to use words unequivocally implying the conception or belief of more beings than one. We know of no advocate for the theory of trinal developments who is not forced, by the uniform tenor of the Christian Records, to speak of the Messiah as a being altogether distinct from his God and Father.
In these broad and bold assumptions (that God is strictly and simply one, but that he could not be sufficiently revealed without evolving a Trinity of persons, and that these personalities are the dramatis persone of revelation] we have the germ of Dr. BUSHNELL'S theory. 1. It is assumed that God could not reveal himself without evolving a Trinity of persons. By what process has this been ascertained ? and where the giant intellect that has so comprehended the essence of God, sweeping back to the very oneness of the Absolute before it invented the triform dramatis persone that were to manifest it to men and to angels, and becoming cognizant of the vain effort of “God struggling to reveal himself” ? But wherein consists the insuperable difficulty of manifestation in oneness of personality, - a difficulty so great that even the “struggling ” “ Absolute” could not surmount it? Is one less explicable than three ? and if plurality be required, simply as a mean of manifestation, why may not two answer ? or why may not seven be required? We have a twofold reason for the rejection of this theory, --- first, its intrinsic absurdity; and, second, because it passes all the bounds of reason and knowledge, and claims a cognizance of the ontology of Jehovah before he has revealed himself, - claiming to know what he is, and what he can do. 2. Again : this theory resolves the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost - persons revealed — into mere manifestations of the actions and feelings of the one Absolute. They are not God, but only factitious representations ; false in fact, but true in design, designed to “import God into knowledge." They are not God, but represent him; just as the actor is not Shakspeare, but only imports ” Shakspeare “into knowledge.” The actor may develop fully the genius of Shakspeare; but, alas for the Absolute, with all his “strugglings”! even the Trinity fails to “import him into knowledge;" for these dramatis personæ are, after all, only “finite forms," and must therefore fail to represent “the Infinite." This Trinity, then, is also a Trinity of “forms," and not of
substance. Three shadows are bound together, and to the Trinity! a God! - DR. D. W. CLARK, in the Methodist Quarterly Review for January, 1851; fourth series, vol. iii. pp. 136-7.
§ 13. SUMMARY OF TRINITIES.
In the preceding pages of this chapter, we have given at some length the principal views of the doctrine of a Trinity, and particularly of that of a Trinity in Unity, which have been held by various sections and members of the Christian church; and have shown, by copious extracts from the writings of eminent Trinitarians, that all these representations of the Deity, except that in the creed attributed to the apostles, and called by their name, are either vague, mystical, unintelligible, or irrational and unscriptural; that, in some of them, the language is so obscure or so abstract as to be altogether incomprehensible by the human understanding; that, in others, the propositions laid down are mutually contradictory and mutually destructive; and that, in all of them which are capable of being understood, the ideas involved are of a character totally different from that which appears in the formal profession of " three persons in one God,” — namely, in representing the Deity as consisting either, — 1. Of only one supreme, underived, and infinite Intelligence, the Father; and the Son and Spirit, though partaking of the same nature with the Father, as dependent, finite, and inferior existences: 2. Of three self-existent and independent Minds or Beings, who, though harmonious in will, purpose, and action, are, and can be nothing less thạn, three equal Gods: or, 3. As merely one Person or Being, sustaining the three characters or relations of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; of Creator, Redeemer, and Sanctifier.
The same remarks will be found to apply to all the definitions which can be given of a Triune God, that they are either unintelligible or absurd; either tritheistic or unipersonal; either indicating a real personal identity of God, Christ, and Spirit, that is at war with the whole tenor of the Jewish and Christian revelations, or necessarily implying a polytheism which Sacred Soripture rebukes, which right reason rejects, and which the very symbols and confessions that involve the absurdity dare not openly express. To corroborate the truth of our statement, we shall give an abstract of some of the terms which have been employed on this subject in venerated creeds and by eminent theologians, - a very imperfect list, indeed, but, in connection with the extracts already made, sufficiently copious to show the perversity and daringness of the human intellect in penetrating into the essence of the Unsearchable, — in diving into mysteries, of which nature and the Bible are silent, --- in being unsatisfied with that simple and sublime declaration of Moses, which was reiterated by Jesus, and taught in various forms by prophets and apostles, that “ JEHOVAH OUR GOD, JEHOVAH IS ONE."
In the following tables, we shall give the precise words of the authors referred to, unless where, for the sake of room, abridgment is necessary.