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The Holy Trinity

The Holy Trinity

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Published by GLENN DALE PEASE
BY HASTINGS RASHDALL, D.C.L., M.A.

Preached in Balliol College Chapel^ Trinity Sunday^ 1894.

** He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
John xvi. 15.

"'THE Holy Ghost is the love wherewith the

Father loves the Son and the Son the

Father." * Such is the teaching of St. Augustine,
BY HASTINGS RASHDALL, D.C.L., M.A.

Preached in Balliol College Chapel^ Trinity Sunday^ 1894.

** He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you."
John xvi. 15.

"'THE Holy Ghost is the love wherewith the

Father loves the Son and the Son the

Father." * Such is the teaching of St. Augustine,

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Published by: GLENN DALE PEASE on Feb 24, 2014
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THE HOLY TRINITY BY HASTINGS RASHDALL, D.C.L., M.A.Preached in Balliol College Chapel^ Trinity Sunday^ 1894. ** He shall take of mine, and shall shew it unto you." John xvi. 15. "'THE Holy Ghost is the love wherewith the X Father loves the Son and the Son the Father." * Such is the teaching of St. Augustine, * The Holy Spirit is shown to be " quo genitus a genitante diligatur genitoremque suum diligat." — De Trin., vi. 5. (Cf. De Fide et symbolOf 19, 20, and De Civ. Dei^ xi., c. 26, where the parallel between the Divine Trinity and the human mind is insisted on : " Nam et sumus et nos esse novimus et id esse et nosse diligimus.") St. Augustine is, no doubt, anxious to show that in God "dilectio" is a "substantia," because in God there is no distinction between substance and accident. This is, of course, a realistic technicality to which it is difficult for the modern mind to attach much meaning, though, no doubt, parallels might be found in modern metaphysicians. To understand the scholastic doctrine of the Trinity it is further necessary to remember that the love of the Father for the Son is really the love of God
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for the objects of His own thought, i,e.^ for His creatures. *' Verbum igitur in mente conceptum est repraesentativum omnis ejus quod actu intelligitur. Unde in nobis sunt diversa verba, secundum diversa quae intelligimus. Sed quia Deus uno actu et se et omnia intelligit, unicum Verbum ejus est expressivum non solum Patris, sed etiam creaturarum." {Summa TheoL, Pt. I. Q, xxxiv. Art. 3.) When, therefore, some modern Divines talk about an intercourse or society subsisting between the Father and the Son, meaning by the Son a conscious being, distinct alike from God, the world, and the "assumptus homo," Jesus Christ, they are 21 22 THE HOLY TRINITY and the doctrine is repeated by the great schoolmen in a more general form : " The love by which we love using language which an orthodox scholastic Theologian would probably have pronounced to be sheer Tritheism. It is true that the Scholastics speak of a "relatio" between the Persons of the Holy Trinity {i.e., a relation between the Power of God, the Wisdom of God, and His Love or Will), but they do not forget that *' relatio in Deo sit idem quod sua essentia." Anyone who thinks that the doctrine here maintained is Sabellianism should read Pt. I. Q. xxviii. of the Sumrna, Stripped of
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technicalities, the Catholic doctrine differs from Sabellianism inasmuch as it asserts (i.) that these different activities are essential to God's nature, not appearances or modes which can be put on or off, and (ii.) that the Incarnation implies an indwelling of the Sapientia Dei in a human soul, but not that Christ was simply God (the whole Trinity) in a human body — carrying with it (as the Patripassians held) the consequence that the Father died upon the cross. All the difficulties of the doctrine of the Trinity have arisen from thinking of that relation between God and the pre-existing Logos as if it were of exactly the same kind as the relation between God and the Incarnate Son. Of course (if we like to eliminate the element of time) we may think of God as having an eternal relation to the man Jesus Christ even before his actual birth, and the idea of the pre-existence of Christ (not merely the Logos) in the form in which it appears in the New Testament seems to have arisen out of the strong conviction that the coming of the Messiah was part of the eternal counsel of God — the central event of the world-plan as it existed in the mind of God. For an admirable discussion of this question see Beyschlag, New Test. Theology (E. T., 1895), I. p. 249 sq., II. p. 79 sq. The doctrine of the Trinity, thus understood, is not a mere scholastic subtlety. It asserts just the essence of Christian Theism, i.e.^ that God is not mere Power or mere Thought or mere Love, but the three combined. It is not surprising to find a learned and candid Unitarian Divine acknowledging that "there were certain elements in Christian experience which, when taken up and interpreted by Greek
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