The Triplicity of the Spirit

Sec. IV.

Man is in the likeness of God, but God is spirit (John iv. 24): the first and most special subject of the divine resemblance, therefore, is the spirit of man. From what has been thus

asserted, it follows that, in the human spirit, the triplicity of the spiritual nature of God is referred to as a type. What we thus conclude, is everywhere the scriptural assumption. It takes it for granted,' when it attributes to God also the same modes of activity that are proper to the human spirit. It takes it for granted when it calls the mediating divine Hypostasis by the name of o X07o?; for Xo7o?, as it may also be conceived, is a spiritual mode of activity, or the product of such an activity: hence the divine Xo7o? is the divine archetype, of precisely the same kind of nature which is so called in the region of man's spirit-life. And how closely Paul suggests to us the resemblance of God's spiritual nature and man's spirit, when he compares (1 Cor. ii. 11) the knowledge about the depths of the Godhead which is proper to the Spirit of God—not as distinguished from the Father and the Son, but as a Spirit of revelation, as distinguished from all other beings—with the knowledge of man's spirit about what is in man! Hence the old church literature is full of the thought that man's spirit is eUwv or filfirjfia of God's spirit-nature. As a piece of glass, says Gregory of Nyssa, reflects the entire form of the sun, although in very diminished proportion, thus out of the limited nature of our spirit shine forth the copies of the inexpressible attributes of the Godhead. In the same sense he calls our spirit, an eye, created of a kindred nature with the sun, in order to look upon the sun.1 If this be scriptural, the triplicity of the human spirit will not be too bold an expression for us to use. Moreover, Jo. Scotus Erigena is not the first who speaks of a trinitas nostra natures in the form of God (de div. nat. ii. 23), but Augustine, before him, teaches a trinitas mentis like to God's (de trin. xiv. 12); and, that this is an expression corresponding to a matter of fact, which obtrudes itself not only on the path of scriptural inquiry, but also on that of self-observation, how many testimonies—intentional, and by no means arbitrary—may be accumulated to prove! "Les perfections de Dieu," says E. G. Leibnitz, in the preface to his Theodicee, "sont celles de nos ames, mais il les possede sans bornes: il est un ocean, dont nous n'avous recu que des gouttes. II y a en nous quelque puissance, quelque connoissance, quelque bonte", 1 Vid. E. W. Moller, Gregorii Nysseni doctrina de hominis natura, sees. 9,10.

mais elles sont toutes entires en Dieu." Among the moderns, Carus confesses in his Psyche—although as little allied to Scripture as dependent on Augustine—a "triplicity of the higher psychical life;" and both he, in his Grundzugen einer neuen und Wissenschaftlichen Cranioscopie, and E. Huschke, in his work, Schddel, Hirn, und Seek, place this trinity of our fundamental spiritual powers in connection1 with the trinity of the volume of the skull and of the brain,—an association which had occurred to the ancients, and not on the ground of arbitrary fancy, but of pathological consideration, as the later physiologists of the brain, certainly not without surprise, might perceive from Nemesios.8

The triplicity of the human spirit is a fact which is established, even although we should not succeed in attaining the exact truth in its development. But, in attempting this, we have to adopt a different method from that of the empirical or rational psychology. For the treatment of this latter is regressive: it analyzes the human spirit, and thus attains to its triplicity, perhaps as a result; whereas, for the biblical psychology, on the other hand, this triplicity is a postulate. For its method proceeds according to scriptural direction, which leads from knowledge of God to knowledge of ourselves—not backwards from the spirit to God, but from the archetype forwards to the antitype. It concerns itself principally about nothing less than about the right knowledge of the internal divine process of the Trinity, so far as the Holy Scripture and living experience render this knowledge a posteriori possible to us.

We have already referred (Div. I. Sec. III.) to a modern conception of this process wholly foreign to Scripture. It is considered as the growth of the divine self-consciousness. If it be thus supposed, that it is in the Spirit generally that God first attains to self-consciousness, so that thus the growth from unconsciousness, or even from a mere potentiality of conscious

1 Similarly e.g. Hanne, in his Confessions (1861), p. 64.

J He teaches that the fore-brain is the organ of the $a>t>utixci (the power of representation), because from it proceed the nerves of sense—»tvpa; the mid-cavity of the brain the organ of the J/«»o»t/xo'» (the intelligence); and the hinder, the organ of the fmnfconvriMt (the capacity of memory). Certainly this rests upon a false view of the division of the brain, and of the nerves of sense, among which only the nerve of Bmell is associated with the fore-brain.

ness, begins, the process is a blind and naturally necessary process, whereby the nature of God is annulled, except for those who identify it pantheistically with the world. Or the selfconsciousness is conceived, which is comprehended in the becoming, as growing higher by the use of means, so that the becoming thus proceeds from immediate self-consciousness. In this case, the process comes under the partial view of the thought, and there remains the supposition, unworthy of God, that in advancing from a lower degree He attained to a higher; in that He proceeds, although not from unconsciousness or mere potentiality of consciousness, still from consciousness undeveloped, and not yet become capable of itself. 1 Cor. ii. 11 is only seemingly in favour of this. Certainly God's Spirit in a peculiar manner is that in God which knows, but not as distinguished from Father and Son, but as distinguished from all creatures by virtue of its proceeding from the Father and the Son: it alone knows both, because its nature primitively exists in both, and is immanent in both; and as the historical process of salvation corresponds to that which is within God, so there is no knowledge of the nature and will of the Father and the Son possible, which does not proceed from Him who proceeds from Father and Son. Where could there be found even one scriptural passage, whence could be gathered that the Father is not already, at the commencement of the process, perfectly conscious of Himself? God becomes objective in an exact resemblance of Himself, but not in. order to become perfectly conscious of Himself to Himself. This likeness is, indeed, called X070?, in so far as it is the perfect knowledge of the Father about Himself, which comprehends and imprints itself therein; and vim, inasmuch as the bringing forth of this exact likeness is not merely an act of thought, but at the same time, and primarily, an act of will.1

But if the proceeding of the Trinity is no process of growing self-consciousness, the antitypical triplicity of the human spirit does not subsist in the triplicity of the momenta wherein the

1 Against the view which prevailed in the middle ages, that the begetting of the Son was effected ner intelkctum divinum, and the emanation of the Spirit per voluntatem divinam, Duns Scotus observed with much justice, that the intelligere did not become gigncre until the interference of the velle.

higher self-consciousness is arrived at. In that the spirit, for instance, itself assumes for itself the position of being, it first of all represents itself to itself as something else which it has in front of itself, and further attains to higher self-consciousness by the recognition of itself in this other nature. Knowing it to be one with itself, and thus returning as a self-conscious spirit from this externalization into itself; in other words, in the act of this higher self-consciousness, the Ego is a nature presenting itself to itself, a nature presented, and a nature recognising itself in this presentation, and thus a threefold nature in uncancelled numerical unity.1 We do not deny that even in this the process of the Trinity is reflected by way of likeness, but very far from exhaustively. There is generally no act of the human spirit, in which the process of the Trinity does not in some way shadow itself forth. Even that completion of the higher self-consciousness is such an act. It is the beginning of all thought—that which underlies all thought, and the general basis which accompanies it. But, assuredly, thought is a reality which partially and in some degree resembles the divine life of the Trinity. The name X070? proves this, for word is surely nothing else than composed and formed thought. But does God attain for the first time to the thought of Ego in the Logos? So little, that He rather comprehends His entire perfectly conscious nature in the Logos in the way of likeness. The process of the Trinity is made finite, by conceiving of it as the accomplishment of self-consciousness; and, at the same time, it is made one-sided when it is conceived of only as a process of thought.

The process of the Trinity, as the Scripture instructs us about it, comes chiefly (1) under the point of view of the will; for the Father, in begetting the Son, desires an object of His love, who, in order to satisfy His loving will, must be of like nature with Himself: (2) under the point of view of thought and knowledge; for, in begetting the Son, He thinks Himself, and combines the whole fulness of this self-thought in Him, the Logos, i.e. the Word ;—He knows Himself in begetting the Son; and after He has begotten Him, He knows Himself in Him: (3) under the point of view of experience; for, after that God

1 Read the instructive article "Triniliit," by Hagemann, in the WetzerWelteschen Catholic Church Lexicon.

had attained an object of His love, the love of the loving one, and the responding love of the loved one, as the one finds Himself in the other, become a reciprocal experience of love, which is hypostatized in the Holy Ghost, who proceeds from both.1 The process, in all its momenta, of this self-completion, is undergone by the divine self-consciousness, which does not come into being first of all in the middle of the process, but precedes it, and throughout accompanies it; for neither will, nor thought and knowledge, nor experience, are possible without self-consciousness: they are all personal acts.' They are a trine of acts, which, however, form an indissoluble unity. For as little as it can be said that God first attained to self-consciousness in the third hypostasis, as little also can it be said that He then first attained to experience. For (1) the will which becomes the fact of the begetting of the Son, has as its precedent ground the perception of the want of the Ego in respect of a Tu, and the experience of the longing of love for such a Tu. This perception and this experience are the impelling forces of the will. (2) The thought and knowledge which become the objectiveness of God in His own likeness in the Word—the Logos —have, as their precedent ground, the experience of want of satisfaction, and the will to make to themselves an object, in order to find satisfactiont herein. (3) The experience has, as its precedent ground, the knowledge of the one by the other, and the will passing over into one another, reciprocally immanent in one another. There are three acts, but in such a way that every single act involves both the others in itself; and it is thus a tri-unity of acts. These three acts are not the three persons of the Godhead themselves, but the foundation of their actus personales.

"In the divine nature of love," says an old theological scholar,2 " which is merely unending life, there is a central, or most inward of all, infinite, and experiencing will, or willing experience, which power of experience may be called the disposition; and in the same the sense may be distinguished from the understanding (the subjective primitive wisdom of God). 'The infinite will of God must have an infinite desire, longing,

1 On the internal necessity of this hypostatizing, compare the discussions of Richard of St Victor, brought to remembrance by Liebner and Sartorius.

2 The anonymous German editor of John Pordage's works.

and aspiration after an adequate—that is, infinite—object, that it may unite itself therewith; and because there is no other infinite nature than the spirit of eternity itself, it has an infinite hunger after itself, as the only object which can suffice its craving and appease all its hunger. Therefore it excites its whole nature, and turns and impels it upon itself into its central or innermost disposition. And thus the eternal will begets or generates, by such inward turning of its whole nature upon its own foundation upon its everlasting mind, an eternal infinite essential living, all-filling, all-satisfying, and sufficing experimental notion and knowledge of itself, which is the essential image of itself, and the sufficing immediate object of its desire.

"In this birth we have to observe the coincidence of two things, attributes, or perfections,—one active, the other passive, —to wit, (1) the strong, eager desire of the divine will, which stirs the whole nature of the Godhead, forces together and throws all its rays as a divine seed into its own innermost being; and (2) the passive disposition, (which, although as yet merely life, is in itself power and influence, but is nevertheless passive in respect of the will, and of this impregnation,) that receives into itself all these irradiating powers, grasps them, holds or fixes them,—gives to them, as it were, an abiding nature, and moulds them into an eternal birth of a blessed essential knowledge,—perhaps the deep source of the two infusions1 in nature, male and female, which concur in the bringing forth of all things.

"From these two (the infinite desiring suljecto or base, and the all-filling infinite objecto or object) originates and proceeds infallibly a third,—namely, an infinite essential triumphant joy, —which flows through the whole being, and tinges it, as it were, whh an infinite, all-surpassing, inconceivable restorative taste of itself, and thereby concludes and perfects its own infinite blessedness. For by virtue of the divine unity of nature, every reality or perfection in God communicates itself to all the rest, which can occur no otherwise than by one influencing the other, and therefore by one beaming into the other its essential effluences. And thus all the powers of the contented and satisfied subject or ground, in most intimate union with the all-satisfying object, must communicate to one another a taste and comfort of its 1 Tincturen, orig.

joy, by essential irradiations of every one of them into all the rest; which most holy mutual irradiations of every one into all the others together, constitute, as it were, a divine air, respiration, breath, or spirit, which penetrates the entire divine nature."

Let not offence be taken at the quaint grossness of these words; the process of the Trinity can hardly be better exhibited a posteriori than is here accomplished. Chiefly it is rightly concluded from them, as elsewhere from theosophy, that the primitive ground of the Godhead is a will originating by nothing, infinite, and conceiving itself: not as though this will in God could in any way have temporally preceded being and-selfconsciousness,—a representation militating against the eternal absoluteness of God, against which we have already sufficiently explained ourselves; but the true conception of God requires that, even in relation to being and self-consciousness, the will should be apprehended as the primitively causal first in God.1 Later theology will be compelled to acknowledge this more and more; for the great problem of Christology—the Kenosis—is absolutely insoluble without this prior assumption. In a wellconsidered glance at the incarnation, Thomasius therefore conceives of the will as the absolutely primitive in God: u The nature of God is not inflexible dead substance, but throughout is will, life, actus,—is itself ordaining, itself willing, itself absolutely powerful over itself."2 And he remarks thereupon, that this determination of all earnestness must be placed at the summit of theology. When God Himself declares His own most mysterious name (Ex. iii. 14) by nviK "it?K n'1?!*> He gives to its meaning the will which wills itself and determines itself out of itself as a root.3 And when the apostle (1 John iv. 8)

1 Thus, what J. P. Lange remarks against this (Deutsche Zeitschr. 1859, p. 23), does not touch us: "The will, with respect to which the thought and experience is first consecutive, cannot yet be conceived of as spirit; as a dim impulse of becoming, it comes under the category of natural development." We are far from attributing to God self-unconscious will, which indeed would be a blind natural impulse; but none the less His selfwilling will passes with us as the ground of His being, and His one selfcomprehending will as the ground of His self-consciousness.

* Dogm. § 8, comp. 41 (ii. 208).

8 See the remarks of Drechsler in my Commentary on Genesis, p. 67, ed. 3. In the personal creature, being precedes will: in God, indeed, the will does not precede existence; but, as distinct from the creature, God

says of God, not that He is the love, but that He is love (ivydirrj),i.e. that He is love in the deepest ground and entire circuit of His nature living itself forth,—we obtain the disclosure—which follows, besides, from the fact, that He is light, absolutely free from darkness (1 John i. 5),—that the will which is the root of His being has love as its impulse, and is thus the will of love. Therefore Scripture places the process of the Trinity under the point of view of love. It is mediated in the Son of Love. The loving will of the Father, entering into the ground of His self-conscious and self-experiencing nature, engenders the thought and longing after an object of love that is present, then forms it into the Word, and satisfies it in the Son; and the Son is the brightness of the Father's glory, and the very image of this hidden nature, in which the Father acknowledges Himself, and which acknowledges the Father in itself and of itself,—the substance of His self-acknowledgment brought forth and realized by the Father's loving will; and the Holy Ghost is the breathing forth of the mutual love of both— the breath of love of the loving one and the beloved one—the emanation of the experience of love, in which the loving one discovers the beloved one, and the beloved one discovers the loving one. If I were to picture to the senses in a figure the process of the Trinity, I would paint a fiery circle as the symbol of the fiery loving will of the Father; and in this circle a sunlight centre as the symbol of the Son,—the object of love, which lights the whole infinite depth of the divine nature of love; and proceeding from this sunlight centre to the circumference of the fiery circle, an abundance of rays, as the symbol of the triumph of love going forth from the Father through the Son, and entirely filling Father and Son.1

is Lord of His own existence, absolutely causa sui (opposed to Philippi, Glaubenskhre, ii. 63-65). The name of Jehovah designates Him, be the etymological origination of the idea what it will, as the absolute Ego—as the absolute personality, ruling with unconditioned freedom (Keil, Genesis, p. 37).

1 In the Lutheran monthly publication Lehre und Wehre (St Louis 1858, iv. 63), a word of Gregory of Nazianzum is recalled to me, in reference to the above passage: "On the subject of God's birth we ought with reverence to be silent." But Gregory, with the other fathers who were faithful to the Nicene faith, has himself pointed out that it is not unbecoming to speak of this mystery with adoring veneration, and to reflect

If we now consider the human spirit, there are three fundamental forms in which its life is occupied: a striving forwards, a going forwards, a going into itself and being still. It strives and longs after the attainment of its destination in God: it attains in the way of thought to its object; and then reposes in His nature, as in a continual current and constant circular motion.1 Briefly, the life of the spirit is a threefold unity of will, thought, and experience. We say—of experience;8 for as there is a psychical experience, which consists in direct perception of the irradiated sensuous charms of experience, and a psychical feeling of pleasure or displeasure, which proceeds from furthering or restraining impressions which intrude into our psychical life, so there is also a higher spiritual experience, which receives its excitements even from the thinking and willing life of the spirit: as, for example, the peace and the joy which are the reflex of the idea of God borrowed from the spirit in its thought and will, which nevertheless, in fact, has nothing to do with our nerves of perception. Without thus interchanging experience and feeling, in the sense of these conceptions that is now customary, we analyze the life of the spirit into will, thought, and experience. These are three well distinguishable realities, of which none comes into operation, none is present in actuality, without the other two being somewhere therein—like to the irepi^wprjiri<; of the three divine acts and the three divine persons, which, by virtue of their likeness of nature, invariably penetrate and live through one another: so that every person, by its relation, shares in the possession of the nature of the two others; and its knowledge and will, reflecting one another in reciprocal love, are an absolutely united nature.'

on the hints of the Holy Scripture with trembling joy: for to be able to think is the dignity of man; and even to be allowed to think upon the holiest of all subjects is one of his most blessed prerogatives, which indeed will be exercised in the consciousness of our infancy in this state (1 Cor. xiii. 11): for " woe to the wise in their own eyes,"—we are nothing but stammering children.

1 According to Goschel, Der Mensch diesseits und jenseits, p. 35.

8 Not,—" of feeling," as e.g. Kahnis, in the psychologic section, ix. 2 (p. 185), of his Dogmatics, according to which the feeling, thought, will, of the spirit, correspond to the experience, perception, desire of the soul.

3 Zockler, Naturiheol. i. 758, says, with reference to the above, that I compare thought to the Son; and that this comparison of the will, thought,

The threefold life of the willing, thinking (word-forming), and experiencing spirit which points back to this archetype, is fitted for man, even still in his present natural condition, without its being possible to call it a remainder of the primitive divine likeness; for it is only the framework that is left to man of what he has inherited. Willing, thinking, experiencing, are indeed, in themselves, mere forms of life. In the original condition this threefold life of the spirit was a life of love in the likeness of God, filled up by the power of a glad conscience, which knew itself one with God,—an image of the eternally resting flow, and the eternally flowing rest, of the blessed life of the Godhead. As God has satisfaction in Himself, so the human spirit sought and found satisfaction in God. God was the object of his will, the contents of his thought, the fountain of his experience. Not as though He had not also made created being the object and contents of His will, thought, and experience, but everything in God, and with a view to God. For the necessity is based in the nature of the spirit to possess an object corresponding to the nobility of its original source, with which it might make itself one, and in the union of which with itself it might feel itself blessed. God is indeed love, and the spirit of man is the inspiration of this. God, therefore—the life of the spirit— is love, and nothing truly satisfies it but the love whence it originated. After it has fallen from this love, still its life does not renounce this character of love implanted in it. For what he continues to make the substance of his will, thought, and experience, has the purpose of satisfying this necessity of love, or of removing what, is adverse to this satisfaction. What a French philosopher lately maintained—Aimer Jest vouloir, et vouloir cest aimer—is, in substance, true also of thought and experience. Each of the three has for a final purpose the apprehension, acknowledgment, and experience of an object of

and experience, with Father, Son, and Spirit, almost corresponds to the Taulerish triad concupiscentia, ratio, ira. But this triad is the wholly useless dregs of a Platonic representation; and the case does not stand thus, that I compare the thought to the Sou ; but the act by which the Father— the will, having its original foundation in Himself—brings forth the Son I compare to the thought: for the Son is Ao'yof, Word, i.e. embodiment of the thought which the Father conceives in thinking of an object of His loving will, that may be like to Him with exact likeness.

love which satisfies the spirit's need of love. In the present natural condition of man, all the three indeed have not the right direction and the right contents; but the triad of spiritual activities, and their working one into the other, is nevertheless a shadow of the three acts of the divine life, and their Perichoresis.

This consideration of the spirit in the light of its archetype, affords us the great advantage of making known to us those capacities and activities which belong to it, even apart from the Psyche,—as in this division we wish to advance gradually from the most internal to the most external nature of man. This is to us doubly important. We thus become, for the first time, capable of finding our way in the biblical nomenclature of spiritual powers and efficiencies. Proceeding from the psychological mode of speech in Scripture, we should have been entangled in a labyrinth, as the psychological researches of Roos and Beck show. For the use of language in Scripture is absolutely swayed by the fundamental view, that the spiritual life in itself, that the spiritual and psychical life, that the threefold life of man—the spiritual, psychical, and corporeal life—is a unity. The same Perichoresis which unites the three spiritual activities compactly into efficiency, shows itself also in their verbal denominations. Willing, thinking, experiencing, are never distinguished in Scripture with terminologic sharpness. The word XTV indicates not merely knowledge, but also experience; the word Djf&, not merely taste, but also understanding; the word nEro, not only thinking or representation, but also remembering or purpose to do anything. In "iVJi thought and will are combined as one forming efficiency of the heart. And rich as the Old Testament language is in words which signify to will, and to desire, yet there is never once imprinted on it the distinction between inclination of the will, and determination of the will, which in the Greek is represented by (3ovKeadai and dekeiv. The efficiencies of the spirit are neither distinguished in themselves, nor are the efficiencies of the spirit, as such, sharply distinguished from those that are psychico-somatically effected. Will, thought, and experience, and all the higher and lower activities into which their spiritual fundamental activities ramify, are predicated of nn, 3.!?, and t?W indiscriminately,—in so far as Wi is the supreme principle, E'W the secondary principle, emanating herefrom towards the side of the corporeity, and 3j? is the internal focus of the threefold life of man. Thus all these, in their manner, partake in the highest and lowest activities and affections of that life. It may, at any rate, be said that the spirit of man, in the immediateness of its origin, is called notiO; in the concentration of its activities, especially of its thought and will, 3?; in the circumstantial and sensitive unity of its thought and will pervading from ntpBo throughout the 3P,—Wl. But even this distinction is not clearly marked; although certainly nvi by far the most frequently designates the spirit, not as thinking and willing, but as experiencing,—or the general circumstantial character and idea which includes thought and will in itself. A reflex of the relation of the trinity is not easy to be mistaken in the mode of speech; but it is not to be gathered from it by itself, without close examination through the typical relation that has just been considered by us.

In the New Testament, especially in the Pauline writings, the psychologic mode of expression is much sharper and profounder. The mystery of the Trinity, that has become historically revealed in the work of redemption, throws here its noonday light into the depth of human nature; and it is, indeed, the conceptive, highly-cultivated Greek tongue, in which the primitive condition, the actual condition, and the destination of man are treated upon,—not without the interposition of the endeavour already made in Alexandrianism, to introduce at the same time with the elements of truth contained in the Greek philosophy, the forms of speech that it had coined, into the religion of revelation. There are especially three ideas, to which the New Testament disclosures upon the likeness of God in the spirit-life of man are bound. The psychologic main and universal idea which the New Testament, as distinct from Hellenism, primarily establishes, is Pneuma, spirit; the three ideas which we have now to consider strictly, according to the New Testament meaning and use, are the threefold development of this one main and universal idea.