GENERAL DOCTRINE OF THE DIVINE EXISTENCE.
§ 1. Name of the Deity.
Preliminary to the history of the doctrine of the Trinity, we shall cast a rapid glance at the doctrine of the Divine Existence in its more general aspects. Five topics will claim attention under this introductory division: viz., the name of the Deity; the amount of pantheism and dualism that has prevailed in connection with the development of the Christian doctrine of God; the species of arguments that have been employed by Christian theologians to prove the Divine Existence; the doctrine of the attributes; and the Pagan trinity.
In respect to the name of the Deity, as well as in respect to particular definitions of Him, the Christian church has always been distinguished by freedom of views and conceptions. In the Pagan world we find a superstitious feeling which led men to attach a magical meaning and power to certain names of the Deity, and a disposition to cling to some particular one. Christianity, on the contrary, has ever been free to adopt as the name of the Supreme Being that particular one which it found in current use in the nation to which it came; thereby indicating its belief that there is no particular virtue in a name, and still more that no single term is sufficiently comprehensive to describe the infinite plenitude of being and of excellence that is contained in God.1 The latest missionary like the first takes the terms of the new language, and consecrates them to the higher meaning which he brings to the nation.
At the same time, however, it should be remarked that Christianity, on account of its connection with Judaism, prefers, and adopts when it can, that conception of the Godhead which denotes his necessary and absolute existence. The Hebrew Jehovah was translated in two ways in the Greek version of the Old Testament: 6 a>v, and To Ov. The personal and the impersonal forms were both employed; the former to denote the divine personality in opposition to pantheistic conceptions, the latter to denote an absolute and necessary being (ovaia), in contradistinction to a conditioned and dependent ytvtatg, or emanation. So far, consequently, as the Church gave currency to the Old Testament name of God, through the medium of the Alexandrine Greek, it made use of the same idea and name of the Deity that were employed by the Deity himself in his self-manifestation to his chosen people.
1 The Graeco-Roman, or clas- deus,is from riStyu, to dispose. The sical name of the deity is derived Gothic name comes from a moral from a natural attribute; 3f 6s, attribute; God signifies the good.
§ 2. Pantheism and Dualism in the Church.
Respecting the amount and species of Pantheism that appears in connection with the development of the Christian doctrine of God, we remark the following.
The Church was not disturbed by any formal and elaborated Pantheism during the first eight centuries. Phraseology was, however, sometimes employed by orthodox teachers themselves, that would be pantheistic if employed by an acknowledged pantheist. Tatian, a convert and disciple of Justin Martyr, and one of the early Apologists, speaks of God as vTiosraaig ituvTcav. Hilary uses the phrase, "deus anima mundi." Some of the hymns of Synesius are decidedly pantheistic in their strain. Hippolytus addresses the Christian as follows, in his Confession of Faith. "Thou wilt have an immortal body together with an imperishable soul, and wilt receive the kingdom of heaven. Having lived on earth, and having known the Heavenly King, thou wilt be a companion of God, and a fellow-heir with Christ, not subject to lust, or passion, or sickness. For thou hast become God ( ytyova; yag &tog). For whatever hardships thou hadst to suffer when a man, He gave them to thee because thou wast a man; but that which is proper to God [nagaxoXov&ti, what pertains to God's state and condition], God has declared he will give thee when thou shalt be deified (prav &607toirj&7Jg), being born again an immortal."1 Yet such expressions as these should be interpreted in connection with the acknowledged theistic and Christian character of their authors, and are to be attributed to an unguarded mode of expression, and not to a deliberate and theoretical belief.2
In the ninth century Scotus Erigena, the most acute mind of his time, in his speculations upon the mutual relations of the world and God, unfolded a system that is indisputably pantheistic.8 A tendency to pantheism is also traceable in the scholastic age, in both the analytic and the mystical mind. Rationalizing intellects like Dans Scotns and Occam prepared the way for it, though their own speculations are not strictly chargeable with pantheism. But in Amalrich of Bena, and his disciple David of Dinanto, we perceive an arid and scholastic pantheism distinctly enunciated; while imaginative and mystical minds like Eckart and Silesius exhibit this system in a glowing and poetical form. Pantheism, however, was firmly opposed by the great body of the Schoolmen, and was condemned by councils of the Church, and bulls of the Pope.
1 Bunsen: Hippolytus, 1.184.— in the Modern Church the rejeoIt is evident from Hippolytus's tion of the hypostatical, and ad opown statement, that he does not tion of the modal trinity is somemean to teach pantheism in these times fonnd in alliance with a bold expressions, for the Christian pantheistic tendency. The trinis to have a "body together with itarianism of Schleiermacher is an an imperishable soul." The de- example of this, vout Cowper says: * It is contained in his work De
-there lives and works divisione Naturae, Ed. Gale, Ox
A soul in ail things, and that soni u God." ford 1681. For an account of the
-The Task, Book vi. Mediaeval Pantheism, see Engel
'The charge of pantheism was Hardt'b Dogmengeschichte, II.
made by some of the fathers iii; and Ritter'b Geschichte der
against the Sabellian doctrine of Christlichen Philosophic, III. 206
the trinity. It is noticeable that -296.
The most profound and influential form of this species of infidelity appears in the Modern Church. It began with Spinoza's doctrine of "substantia una et unica," and ended with Schelling and Hegel's so-called "philosophy of identity," in which Spinozism received new forms, but no new matter. Spinoza precluded the possibility of a secondary substance created de nihilo, by his fundamental postulate that there is only one substance endowed with two attributes, extension and thought. All material things are this substance, in the mode of extension; all immaterial things are this same substance, in the mode of cogitation. The first modification of the one only substance yields the physical world; the second, the mental world. There is but one Substance, Essence, or Being, ultimately; and this Being is both cause and effect, agent and patient, in all evil and in all good, both physical and moral. Schelling's system is Spinozism with a prevailing attention to the one only Substance as extended; i. e., to physical pantheism. Hegel's system is engaged with the one only Substance as cogitative, and yields intellectual pantheism.
The theology of Germany, since the middle of the 18th century, has been influenced by this system, to an extent unparalleled in the previous history of the Church; and from the effects of it, it has not yet recovered. Too many of the modes of contemplating the Deity, and of apprehending his relations to the universe, current in Germany, are rendered vague by the failure to draw the lines of theism with firmness and strength. The personality of God is not sufficiently clear and impressive for classes of theologians who yet ought not to be denominated pantheists; while, on the other hand, open and avowed pantheists have held position within the pale of the Lutheran Church. The English and American theologies have been comparatively little influenced by this form of error, so that the most consistent theism for the last century must be sought for within these churches.
The doctrine of the Divine Nature has experienced but little modification and corruption from Dualism. This is the opposite error to Pantheism. All deviations from the true idea of the Deity terminate either in a unity which identifies God and the universe in one essence, or a duality which so separates the universe from God as to render it
either independent of him, or eternally hostile to him. But it was only the Ancient Church that was called to combat this latter form of error.1 During the prevalence of the Manichaean and Gnostic systems, dualistic views were current, but since their disappearance, the Biblical doctrine of the Godhead has had to contend chiefly with the pantheistic deviation.
§ 3. Evidences of the Divine Existence.
The Ancient Church laid more stress upon faith, the Modern upon demonstration, in establishing the fact of the Divine Existence. This is the natural consequence of the increasing cultivation of philosophy. In proportion as science is developed, the mind is more inclined to syllogistic reasoning.
The Patristric arguments for the Divine Existence rest mainly upon the innate consciousness of the human mind. They magnify the internal evidence for this doctrine. Common terms to denote the species of knowledge which the soul has of God, and the kind of evidence of his existence which it possesses, are tficpwov (Clemens Alex.), and ingenitum (Arnobius). Tertullian employs the phrase, "anima naturaliter sibi conscia Dei." The influence of the Platonic philosophy is apparent in these conceptions. They imply innate ideas; something kindred to Deity in the reason of man. The doctrine of the Logos, derived and expanded from the gospel of John, strengthened the Early Fathers in this general view of God. God was conceived as directly manifesting himself to the moral sense, through that Divine Word or Reason who in their phraseology was the manifested Deity. In their view, God proved his existence by his presence to the mind. In the Western Church, particularly, this immediate manifestation and consequent proof of the Divine Existence was much insisted upon. Augustine in his Confessions implies that the Deity evinces his being and attributes by a direct operation,—an impinging as it were of himself, upon the rational soul of his creatures. "Percvlisti cor, verbo tuo" is one of his expressions.1
1 Compare ATHANABtr/s's Oratio men of vigorous reasoning against contra Gentes, § 1-9, for a speci- the dualistic theory of evil.
But whenever a formal demonstration was attempted in the Patristic period, the a posteriori was the method employed. The physico-theological argument, derived from the harmony visible in the works of creation, was used by Irenaeus to prove the doctrine of the unity and simplicity of the Divine Nature, in opposition to Polytheism and Gnosticism,—the former of which held to a multitude of gods, and the latter to a multitude of aeons. The teleological argument, derived from the universal presence of a design in creation, was likewise employed in the Patristic theology.
* Confessions, X. vi. See Nr- of the Early Fathers in handling Andbr's DenkwHrdigkoiten, 1.276 the innate idea of the deity. -280, for a sketch of the method
The ontological argument, which derives its force from the definition of an absolutely Perfect Being, was not formed and stated until the Scholastic age. It then received a construction and statement by Anselm, in his Monologium, and more particularly in his Proslogion, which has never been surpassed. It is no disparagement to the powerful a priori arguments that have characterized modern Protestant theology, to say, that the argument from the necessary nature of the Deity, is unfolded in these tracts of Anselm with a depth of reflection, and a subtlety of metaphysical acumen, that places them among the finest pieces of Christian speculation.
The substance of the Anselmic argument is to be found in the following positions taken in the Proslogion.1
The human mind possesses the idea of the most perfect Being conceivable. But such a Being is necessarily existent; because a being whose existence is contingent, who may or may not exist, is not the most perfect that we can conceive of. But a necessarily existent Being is one that cannot be conceived of as non-existent, and therefore is an actually existent Being. Necessary existence implies actual existence. In conceiving, therefore, of a Being who is more perfect than all others, the mind inevitably conceives of a real and not ah imaginary being; in the same manner as in conceiving of a figure having three sides, it inevitably conceives of a figure having three angles.
'Cap. 2, and 4.—The Proslo- by Bouchette. Compare Rrr
gion, and the objections of Gannilo Ter'b Geschichte der Christlichen
with Anselra's reply, have been Philosophic, Th. Ill, 884 sq., and
translated by MAQimns, in the Bato's Dreieinigkeitslehre, II.
Bibliotheca Sacra, 1851. Both 874 sq., for a critique of Anselm's
the Monologium and Proslogion argument, have been translated into French
The force of this argument depends entirely upon the characteristic of '•'•necessity of existence."1 This is an integral part of the idea of the most perfect Being, and does not enter into the idea of any other being. All other beings may or may not exist, because they are not the most perfect conceivable. Their existence is contingent; but that of the First Perfect is necessary. Hence the idea of God is a wholly unique idea, and an argument can be constructed out of it, such as cannot be constructed out of the idea of any other being. And one of its peculiarities is, that it must have an objective correspondent to itself. This is not the case with any other idea. When, for example, the mind has the idea of a man, of an angel, of a tree, or of anything that is not God, or the most perfect Being, there is no certainty that there is a real man, angel, or tree corresponding to it. It may be a wholly subjective idea; a thought in the mind, without a thing in nature agreeing with it. And this, because the idea of a man, an angel, or a tree does not involve necessity of existence. In the instance, then, of any other idea but that of God, the mere idea in the mind is not sufficient to evince the actual reality of the object. But in the instance of the solitary and totally unique idea of the absolutely Perfect, the mere idea is sufficient for this, because it contains the element of necessity of existence. If therefore, argues Anaelm, we concede as we must that the mind possesses the idea of the most perfect Being conceivable, and also, that perfection of being involves necessity of being, and yet, at the same time, treat it as we do our ideas of contingent and imperfect existences, and say that it may or may not have an objective correspondent, we contradict ourselves. "Surely," remarks Anselm,1 "that, than which a greater cannot be conceived, cannot exist merely in the mind alone. For if we suppose that it exists only subjectively in the intellect, and not objectively in fact, then we can conceive of something greater; we can conceive of a being who exists objectively, and this is greater than a merely mental existence. If, therefore, that than which a greater cannot be conceived exists only in the conception or intelligence, and not outwardly in fact, then that very thing than which a greater cannot be conceived is something than which a greater can be conceived,—which is self-contradictory. There exists, therefore, beyond doubt, both in the mind, and in reality, a Being than which a greater cannot be conceived."
1 "I am not unapprehensive that mediately to have concluded the
I might here indeed, following existence of God, from his idea
great examples, have proceeded itself. And I see not but treading
in another method than that those wary steps which the in
which I now ohoose; and because comparable Dr. Cudworth, in his
we can have no true, appropriate, Intellectual System, hath done,
or distinguishing idea or concep- that argument admits, in spite of
tion of deity which doth not in- cavil, of being managed with
elude necessity of existence in it, demonstrative evidence." Hows:
have gone that shorter way, im- Living Temple, Pt. I. Ch. ii, § 8.
'Proslogion, Cap. 2.
Anselm goes a step further, and argues that the mind cannot conceive of the non-existence of God., without a logical contradiction.1 Here, again, the difference between the idea of the Supreme Being, and that of all other beings is apparent. There is nothing self-contradictory in supposing the nonexistence of man, of angels, of trees, or of matter universally, because their definition does not imply that they must exist of necessity. But to suppose that a Being who is in his nature necessarily existent is not in existence is absurd. We can, therefore, think the creation out of existence, but we cannot even in thought annihilate the Creator. In the fourth chapter of the Proslogion, Anselm argues this point in the following manner. "A thing is conceived, in one sense, when the mere words that designate it are conceived; in another sense, when the thing itself is in its own nature understood and 'comprehended. In the former sense, God can be conceived not to exist; in the latter sense he cannot be. For no one who understands what fire is, and what water is, can conceive that fire is water; though he may conceive this as to the mere sound and meaning of the words. In like manner, no one who understands what God is, and clearly comprehends that he is a necessarily existent Being, can conceive that God is non-existent,—although, like the Psalmist's fool, he may say in his heart the words, 'There is no God.' For God is that, than which a greater cannot be conceived. He who properly understands this, understands therefore that this something exists in such a mode, that it cannot even be conceived of as non-existent. He therefore who understands that God exists as the most perfect Being conceivable, cannot conceive of him as a non-entity. Thanks be to Thee, O Lord, thanks be to Thee, that what I at first believed through thine own endowment, I now understand through thine illumination; so that even if I were unwilling to believe that thou art, I cannot remain ignorant of thine existence."
'auselm maintains that any "Et quod incipit a non esse, et being who can logically be con- potest cogitari non esse .... id ceived as non-existent is by this non estproprieet absolute." Prosvery fact proved not to be the -logion, c. 22. most perfect being conceivable.
Anselm's argument was assailed by a monk Gaunilo, in a little work entitled, Liber pro insipiente (A plea for the fool); in allusion to Anselm's quotation from the Psalms: 'The fool hath said in his heart, there is no God.' His principal objection is, that the existence of the idea of a thing does not prove the existence of the thing. "Suppose," he says,1 "that we have the idea of an island more perfect than any other portion of the earth; it does not follow that because this island exists in the mind, it therefore exists in reality." This objection started by Gaunilo has been frequently urged since. The mere idea of a griffin, or of a chimaera, it has been said, does not evince the actual existence of a griffin or a chimaera. But an objection of this kind fails to invalidate Anselm's argument, because there is no logical parallelism between the two species of ideas. It overlooks the fact that the idea of the Deity is wholly solitary and unique; there is no second idea like it. As Anselm remarks in his reply to Gaunilo, if the island abovementioned were tlie most perfect thing conceivable, then he would insist that the existence of the idea in the mind would be evidence of the existence of the island itself.1 But the idea of the island does not, like the idea of God, contain the elements of absolute perfection of being, and necessity of being. And the same is true of the idea of a griffin, or of a chimaera, or of any imaginary or contingent existence whatever. The idea of a man, or an angel, does not carry with it that the man, or the angel, cannot but exist, and that his non-existence is inconceivable. But the idea of God, as a Being totally different from all created and contingent beings, does carry with it the property of necessary existence; and therefore an objection like that of Gaunilo, drawn from the province of contingent existences, does not hold. It is an instance of what Aristotle denominates fitrd/Saaig tig aXXa ytvog,—a transfer of what is true of one species to a species of totally different nature. As if one should transfer what is true of the idea of matter, to the idea of mind; or should argue that because a solid cube is capable of being measured and weighed, therefore the invisible soul of man can be also. According to Anselm, the idea of God is wholly unique. It is the only idea of the species. No other idea, consequently, can be a logical parallel to it; and therefore all these arguments from analogy fail. The idea of every other being but God contains the element of contingent existence, and therefore can afford no logical basis upon which to found an argument against an ontological dernonstration that rests upon the element of necessaiy existence contained in the idea of the most perfect Being, who of course must be the only being of the kind.1
1 Liber pro insipiente, in Anselmi Opera, Ed. Migne, I. 246.
"Fidens loquor; quia Bi quis hujus meae argumentations, in
invenerit mihi aliquid ant reipsa, veniam, et dabo illi perditam in
aut sola cogitationo existens, prae- sulam amplius non perdendam."
ter quo majus cogitari non possit, Anselmi Opera, Ed. Migne, I.
oni aptare valeat connexionem 252.
1 The nature of this argument an imaginary being is not the of Anselm may be seen by throw- most perfect being that I can coning it into the following dialogue, ceive of. The being who corre"Anselm. I have the idea of the sponds to my idea must be a real most perfect being conceivable, being. If therefore you grant Qaunilo. True: but it is a mere me my postulate, namely, that I idea, and there is no being cor- have the idea of the most perfect responding to it. Anselm. But if being conceivable, you concede there is no being answering to the existence of an actual being my idea, then my idea of the correspondent to it." most perfect being conceivable is Another a priori argument for that of an imaginary being; but the Divine Existence might be constructed in Anselm's method by selecting actuality of existence, instead of necessity of existence, aa an element in the idea of the most perfect Being. Thus: "I have the idea of the most perfect being conceivable; but the most perfect being conceivable cannot be an imaginary one. The idea of an absolutely perfect being implies an objective correspondent, as necessarily as the idea of a figure bounded by three straight lines implies a figure containing three angles. Three-sidednessinafigure implies triangularity of necessity. In like manner, if the idea of the most perfect being conceivable be granted, then that of an actually existent being is conceded by necessary implication, because tho perfection of being must be an
The a priori mode of proving the Divine Existence was the favorite one in the Scholastic age, for two reasons. In the first place, it harmonized most with the metaphysical bent of the time, and afforded more scope for subtle thinking, and close reasoning. In the second place, the low state of natural science, and the very slight knowledge which men had of the created universe, left them almost destitute of the materials of a posteriori arguments. Arguments from the order, harmony, and design in the universe, cannot be successfully constructed, unless that order, harmony, and design are apparent. But this was impossible in an age when the Ptolemaic astronomy was the received system,—the earth being the centre of the solar system, and the starry heavens, in Milton's phrase,
actual being. Two objections,
not urged by Anselm's opponents in his own day, but by modern critics of his argument, are worthy of notice. The first is, that
the argument makes mere existence an attribute of the most perfect being, when in fact it is being itself. But this is an error. Anselm does not build his argument upon the notion of mere existence, but of necessity of existence. And this is an attribute or characteristic quality, as truly as contingency of existence. The second objection is, that Anselm's argument amounts only to the hypothetical proposition: "If there be a necessarily existent being, of course there is an actually existent one." But as the most perfect being conceivable is one who cannot be conceived of as existing contingently, it is as illogical to employ the subjunctive mode in reference to him, and speak of him as possibly non-existent, as to employ the hypothetical mode in reference to the mathematical proposition that two and two make four.
"With centric and eccentric scribbled o'er,
Cycle and epicycle, orb in orb."
The moral argument for the Divine Existence is found in its simplest form, in the very earliest periods in the Church. God is known by being loved; love then, or a right state of the heart, implies and contains a proof of the reality of the Divine Being that is incontrovertible certainly to the subject of the affection. The more elaborate form of this argument is not found until the time of Kant, who elevated it in his system to a high degree of importance.
In the modern Protestant theology, both the a priori and a posteriori methods of demonstrating the divine existence have been employed. The progressive development has been confined mostly to the a posteriori arguments. The cultivation and advancement of natural science has furnished both matter and impulse to the evidences from design, order, and harmony in creation. Progress in the a priori argument depends so much upon purely metaphysical acumen, while the scope for variety in the construction and statement of the demonstration
is so very limited, that the ontological argument remains very nearly as it was when Anselm formed it.
§ 4. The doctrine of the Attributes.
The Church early recognized the distinction between the essence and the attributes of the Deity. The former, in and by itself, was regarded as unknowable by the finite mind. The theologians of the first two centuries sometimes distinguished between the unrevealed and the revealed Deity. By the former, they meant the simple substance of the Godhead apart from the attributes, of which it was impossible to affirm anything, and which consequently was beyond the ken of the human mind. They intended to keep clear of that vague idea of an abstract Monad without predicates, which figures in the Gnostic systems under the name of the Abyss (Bv&og), and which has re-appeared in the modern systems of Schelling and Hegel, under the names of the Urgrund, and Das Nichts, but they did not always succeed. Their motive was a good one. They desired to express the truth that the Divine Nature is a mystery which can never be fathomed to the bottom by any finite intelligence; but in their representations they sometimes ventured upon the dangerous position, that the Godhead is above all essence, and without essence (vntgovaiog, and avovOiog). As theological science advanced, however, it was perceived that the essence of the Deity cannot safely be contemplated apart from his attributes. The essence is in the attributes, and the attributes in the essence, and consequently Christian science must seize both ideas at once, and hold them both together. This led to the examination and exhibition of the Divine attributes, as real and eternal characteristics of the Deity.
We cannot follow out the developement of thought upon the Divine attributes; for this would require their being taken up one by one, and their history exhibited through the various periods. A single remark, only, can be made at this point. In proportion as the attributes have been discussed in connection with the essence of the Deity, has the doctrine of God been kept clear from pantheistic conceptions. In proportion, on the contrary, as speculation has been engaged with the essence of the Godhead, to the neglect or non-recognition of the attributes in which this essence manifests itself, has it become pantheistic. It is impossible for the human mind to know the Deity abstractly from his attributes. It may posit, i. e. set down on paper, an unknown ground of being, like the unknown x in algebra, of which nothing can be predicated, and may suppose that this is knowing the absolute Deity. But there is no such dark predicateless ground; there is no such Gnostic abyss. The Divine Nature is in and with the attributes, and hence the attributes are as deep and absolute as the' Nature. The substance and attributes of God are in the same plane of being. Neither one is more aboriginal than the other. Both are equally eternal, and equally necessary. Christian science, consequently, has never isolated them from each other. It distinguishes them, it is true, in order that it may form conceptions of them, and describe them, but it is ever careful to affirm as absolute and profound a reality in the Divine attributes as in the Divine essence. It never recognizes a Divine essence without attributes, any more than it recognizes Divine attributes without a Divine essence. The Gnostic and the Pantheistic speculatist, on the contrary, has bestowed but little reflection upon the personal characteristics of the Deity. He has been inclined to contemplate and discuss the bare predicateless Essence or Being,—To 6v rather than 6 av} Attributes like personality, unity, immutability, and, still more, moral attributes like holiness, justice, truth, and mercy, enter little, or none at all into the ancient Gnostic, and the modern Pantheistic construction of the doctrine of God. Yet these constitute the very divinity of the Deity; and hence the Christian theologian made them the object of his first and unceasing contemplation. These attributes are personal qualities, and thus it is easy to see, that theism is inseparably and naturally connected with the developement of the doctrine of the Attributes.
1 The use of the phrase, "The an example of this predicateless Absolute," in Hegel's system, is abstraction.
§5. The Pagan Trinity.
Some of the theologies of pagan antiquity contain intimations of trinality in the Divine Being. The writings of Plato, particularly, in Occidental philosophy, and some of the Oriental systems, such as the Hindoo, contain allusions to this mode of the Divine Existence. But the Pagan trinity is one of figurate personification, and not of interior hypostatical distinctions in the Divine Essence constituting three real persons who may be addressed in supplication and worship. It is commonly constructed in one of two ways. Either the Triad is made out, by personifying three of the more fundamental faculties and attributes of God,—as Goodness, Intellect, and Will,—which is Plato's method; 1 or else "by personifying three of the powers of nature,—as the creating, preserving, and destroying forces of the Hindoo Trimurti. In these schemes, the faculties, attributes, and functions of the Deity take the place of interior and substantial distinctions in his Essence. There is, therefore, when the ultimate analysis is made, no true and proper tripersonality. There is merely a personification of three impersonalities. The Pagan trinity, consequently, is only a figurative and nominal one.
1 Cudworth attempts to find a hypostatical trinity in Plato. MorGan (Trinity of Plato and Philo) concedes the monotheism of Plato, but denies that the Christian or hypostatical trinity is to be found in his writings.
The following passage from the Epinomis (986. d, Ed. Tauchnitz, VI. 495) has been supposed to teach the doctrine of the Logos: "Each [of the eight heavenly powers (8wiifitis) residing in the sun, moon, &c] goes through its revolution, and completes the order (k6<tpov) which reason (Kayos), the most divine of all, has appointed to be visible." Here, says Morgan (Trinity of Plato, p. 6),
"Plato is speaking merely of the law of harmony which prevails in the material universe; and the word Xdyor is without the article. The connection shows conclusively, that he is speaking of an abstract principle, and not of a person."
Another passage which Oudworth and others suppose teaches the doctrine of a hypostatical trinity is found in Plato's second Epistle to Dionysius (Opera VIII. 118, Ed. Tauchnitz). "As regards the king of all, all things are his, and all are for his sake, and he is the cause of all beautiful things. And there is a second, in respect to secondary thinsa.
and a third, in respect to tertiary things."
According to Oudworth (Intellectual System, II. 864 sq. Tegg's Ed.), Plato held a hypostatical trinity, consisting of ro tryaSov, vois, and i^v^ij. These, he thinks, are what Plato meant by his "king of all," "second," and "third," in his Epistle to Dionysius. Respecting the first and second hypostases, he contends that there can be no doubt that Plato held them to be uncreated and eternal subsistences. Respecting the third, the so-called "mundane soul," he concedes that there "may be some more reason to make a question " whether Plato held to its eternity. He is himself of the opinion that Plato "held a double Psyche, or Soul; one mundane, which is, as it were, the concrete form of this corporeal world [the plastic prinoiple in nature]; another, supermundane, which is not so much the form as the artificer of the world." This latter, Cudworth contends is the third hypostasis in the Platonic trinity, and is uncreated and eternal.
The Platonio and Pythagorean trinity, Cudworth (Intel. Syst. II. 888, 889, 840) holds to be a "theology of Divine tradition, or revelation,—3fojrapri8oTor 3foXoyia, a Divine cabala,—amongst the He
brews first, and from them afterwards communicated to the Egyptians, and other nations." He also distinguishes the genuine Platonio from the pseudo-Platonio trinity of the later Platonists. This latter consisted in deifying with the first universal Mind, many secondary particular minds,— namely, all particular souls above tho human. In this way, they "melted the deity by degrees, and bringing it down lower and lower, they made the juncture and commixtion betwixt God and the creature so smooth and close, that where they indeed parted was altogether undiscoverable." In this way, thoy " laid a foundation for infinite polytheism, cosmolatry (or world-idolatry) and creature worship."—Theodorrt (De affect II. 750) remarks, that "Plotinus and Numenius, explaining the sense of Plato, say, that he taught three Principles, beyond time, and eternal: namely Good, Intellect, and the Soul of All." Plotinus (4 Ennead, iv. 16) says of this trinity: "It is as if one were to place Good as the centre, Intellect like an immovable circle round, and Soul a movable circle, and movable by appetite."
The Hindoo trinity is a combination of threo powers,—that of creation (Brahma), preservation
This examination of the Pagan trinitarianism refutes the assertion of Socinus that the Church derived the doctrine of the trinity from the writings of Plato. The two doctrines are fundamentally different. At the same time, however, they have just sufficient resemblance to each other, to justify the assertion, that the Biblical doctrine of the trinity cannot be so utterly contrary to the natural apprehensions of the human mind, as its opponents represent, inasmuch as the most elaborate and thoughtful of the pagan philosophies and theologies groped towards it, though they did not reach it. An inadequate and defective view of truth is better than none at all; and although it is insufficient for the purposes of either theory or practice, it is yet a corroboration, so far as it reaches, of the full and adequate doctrine. Both the copy and the counterfeit are evidences of the reality of the original.
(Vishnu), and destruction (Siva), or Time without bounds. "The
And these three are emanations dualism of Persia made the two
from the original Monad (Brahm). antagonist powers to be created
The Persian worship recognizes by, or proceed from, the One Su
two great principles, Ormusd and preme or Uncreated." Milman:
Ahriman, both subordinate to History of Christianity, p. 200,
Mithra, the great Primal Cause, Harper's Ed.