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Trinity, Gregory Nazianzen says, there are mysteries in all nature, and in the mind of man. “ If,” says he, “ you who inquire concerning these things do not understand yourself, if you do not understand those things which you can examine with your senses, how can you understand God, what and how great he is ? This is great folly." *
The authority of the church was also had recourse to, as an argument to enforce the reception of what could not be proved or explained. “ Some tenets in the church,” says Basil, “ we receive as preserved in writing, but some are of apostolical tradition, handed down as mysteries, both of which have the same force with respect to piety, and no one will question them, who is at all acquainted with the laws of the church.”+
Austin pleaded for implicit faith by the authority of the prophet Isaiah.
“ It was therefore,” he says, “ rationally said by the prophet, (Ch. vi.,) unless ye believe, ye will not understand; where he doubtless distinguishes these two things, and advises that we first believe that we may be able to understand what we believe; so it seems reasonable that faith should precede reason.”
The fathers having meditated so much on the number three, it is no wonder that they should have got a kind of fondness for it, and have thought that there was something very wonderful in it. Epiphanius has taken pains to collect all the instances of this sacred number from the Scriptures, and he makes above one hundred of them.
Austin having mentioned twelve attributes of God, reduces them all to three, viz. eternity, wisdom, and happiness. “ These three,” he says, “are a Trinity, which we call God; and perhaps, in the same manner in which we reduce the twelve attributes to these three, the three may be reduced into any one of them. For if, in the Divine nature, wisdom and power be the same thing, or life and wisdom, why may
Ει σεαυτον εκ έγνως, δςις ει, ο περι τελων διαλεγομενος, ει ταυτα ου κατελαβες, ών και η αισθησις μαρτυς, πως Θεον ακριβως, όπερ τε και οσον εςιν, ειδεναι υπολαμβανεις και πολλης τέλο της αλογιας. Οr. xxix. Opera, p. 493. (Ρ.)
+ Των εν τη εκκλησια πεφυλαγμενων δογμαίων και κηρυγμαίων, τα μεν εκ της εγραφα διδασκαλιας εχομεν, τα δε εκ της των απος ολων παραδοσεως, διαδοθενια ημιν εν μυςηρια παρεδεξαμεθα άπερ αμφοτερα την αυτην ισχυν εχει προς την ευσεβειαν και τελους εδεις ανίερει οςις γε καν κατα μικρον γον θεσμων εκκλησιαςικων πεπειραιαι. De Spiritu Sancto, C. xxvii. Opera, II. p. 351. (P.)
I“ Et ideo rationabiliter dictum est per prophetam: Nisi credideritis, non intelligetis. Ubi procul dubio discrevit hæc duo, deditque consilium quo prius credamus, ut id quod credimus intelligere valeamus. Proinde nt fides præcedat rationem, rationabiliter visum est.” Epist. ccxxii. Opera, Il. p. 859. (P.)
$ “ De Numerorum Mysteriis," Opera, II. p. $04. (P.)
not eternity and wisdom, or happiness and wisdom, be the same thing?"* I need not repeat upon this occasion, what I have before observed concerning the metaphysics of the ancients; and those of the philosophers were no better than those of the fathers.
Austin, after considering the properties of the number three, seems to have thought that of itself it afforded a proof of the doctrine of the Trinity. +
Even the number sir was thought deserving of some particular notice, because it was the double of the sacred number three. Epiphanius says, the number six is also sacred, because it is twice three ; # and Austin treats of the perfection of the number six. & “ One, two, and three," he says, “ make six ; and on account of the perfection of this number, God made all things in six days. Wherefore the three parts of this number six demonstrate to us that God the Trinity, made all things in the trinity of number, measure, and weight.”ll
But, perhaps, the most curious circumstance relating to the number three that the reading of these fathers can furnish, is the following, which was thought worthy of being recorded by Austin. “One father Valerius," he says, “ thought that it was particularly ordered by Providence, that the word salus,” which signifies health, or salvation, in Latin,“ in the language of the Carthaginians,” (which was of Phænician origin,)“ should signify three, or the mystery of the Trinity.” In Hebrew, wbw is three, which is one proof, among many others, of the derivation of the Carthaginians from the Phænicians.
* “ Nunc igitur cum dicimus, ætervus, sapiens, beatus, hæc tria sunt Trinitas, quæ appellatur Deus: redegimus quidem illa duodecim iu istam paucitatem trium sed eo modo forsitan possumus et hæc tria in unum aliquod horum. Nam si una' eademque res in Dei natura potest esse sapientia et potentia, aut vita et sapientia, cur bon una eademque res esse possit in Dei natura, æternitas et sapientia, aut beatitudo et sapientia?" De Trinitate, L. xvi. C. vi. Opera, III. p. 416. (P.)
† “ Divisio trium in ter unum est. Quid autem aliud hic numerus ostendit, nisi Trinitatem, quæ Deus est?" Opera, IV. p. 68. (P.)
I Opera, II. p. 307. (P.)
i “ Unum et duo, et tria, sex faciunt. Ideoque propter hujus numeri perfectionem sex diebus operatus est omnem creaturam. Tres ergo bæ partes senarii numeri demonstrant nobis Trinitatem Deum, in trinitate numeri mensura et ponderis, fecisse omnem creaturam.” Questiones, Ixv. Opera, IV. p. 684. (P.)
I “ Quod pater Valerius animadvertit admirans. In quorumdam rusticanorum collocutione cum alter alteri dixisset, Salus, quæsivit ab eo qui et Latine nosset et Punice, quid esset salus : responsum est, Tria. Tum illi agnoscens cum gaudio saJutem nostram esse Trinitatem, convenientiam linguarum non fortuitu sic sonuisse arbitratus est, sed occultissima dispensatione divinæ providentiæ; ut cum Latine nominant salus, à Punicis intelligant, tria: et cum Punici lingua sua tria nominant, Latine intelligant, salus." Ad Rom. Opera, IV. p. 1181. (P.)
OF THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH THE DOCTRINE OF THE
TRINITY WAS DEFENDED.
SECTION I. Arguments from the Old Testament. Having given a view of the doctrine of the Trinity in all its variations, with the several illustrations of it, I shall now proceed to shew in what manner it was defended by its ancient advocates ; and it is easy to imagine that all their arguments must be drawn from the Scriptures, as it was always acknowledged that nature teaches no such doctrine, though it had been imagined that it was capable of being illustrated by some natural objects. These arguments from scripture I shall arrange according to the order of the books from wbich they are drawn.
It will be thought extraordinary, that the very first verse in the book of Genesis which asserts the creation of all things by one God, should, notwithstanding this, have been imagined to teach the doctrine of the divinity of Christ. But it arose from this circumstance. Among other synonyms of the divine nous, or logos, agxon (principle), as has been observed, was one; being taken from one of the Platonic principles of things; and this having been interpreted to signify Christ, wherever that word is used in the Greek translation of the Old Testament, several of the fathers thought that they had a right to suppose that Christ was intended. Since, therefore, Moses says, that“ in the beginning (ev apx) God created the heaven and the earth,” they thought it was the same as if it had been said, that God in Christ, or by Christ, made the heavens and the earth. Theophilus says, that in the agxn means by the agxn, that is, as an instrument. *
“In the principium, that is, in Christ,” says Ambrose, “ God made the heaven and the earth." + “What principium, says Austin, “ can we understand but the Son? For he himself answered the Jews, who questioned him concerning himself,
* Εν αρχη εποιησεν ο Θεος τον ερανoν, τείεςι δια της αρχής γεγενησθαι τον ερανoν. Αd Autolycum, L. ii. p. 97. (P.)
+ “In hoc ergo principio, id est in Christo, fecit Deus cælum et terram." Hirameron, L. i. Opera, 1. p. 6. (P.)
the principium who speaks to you.”* We render that passage, [John viii. 25,] “ The same that I said unto you from the beginning
As a proof that Moses was not ignorant that the world was made by the living and substantial word of God, Cyril of Alexandria alleges God's saying, “ Let there be light, and there was light," &c. t
This passage, one would rather think, was a proof that the world was made not by a substantial or personified word, but by the simple word, or mere power, of God. But in the age of Cyril, the term word, or whatever implied word, suggested the idea of the living and substantial logos.
Tertullian expresses his dislike of this interpretation, and says that principium, in this place, is synonymous to initium, beginning. # Jerome also shews the same good sense upon this occasion, saying that “according to both the Greek and the Hebrew, it ought to be rendered, In the beginning."$
I shall in this place, point out some other arguments of the fathers in favour of the divinity of Christ, from their supposing him to be intended by the word agxn in the Scriptures. Origen proves that the Son is agxn, from Rev. xxii. 13, though at the same time he says he cannot be agxen in all respects. “ That the Son is the agxn may be clearly proved,” it is said in the extracts of Clemens Alexandrinus, is from Hosea i. 10.”
* “ Quid aut principium intelligendum putabimus, nisi Filium ? Ipse enim de se ipso interrogantibus Judæis quis esset, respondit : Principium qui et loquor vobis.” Quest. Ixv. Opera, IV. pp. 675, 682. (P.)
* Ένα γαρ και αυτος τον φυσει τε και αληθως διακηρυτίει Θεον, εκ ηγνοηκως τον, δι' ου τα παντα παρηκίαι προς γενεσιν, τον ζωνία τε φημι και ενυποςαίον λογον αυτε, και το εν Θεω τε και εξ αυτο πνευμα ζωοποιον, το δι' υια τη κτισει απεμπομενον εφη γαρότι εν αρχη εποιησεν ο Θεος τον ερανον και την γην, κεφαλαιωδεςερον δε, και ως εν βραχει τη λογω γενεσιεργον των ολων απoφηνας αυτον, επεξεργαζεται το διηγημα, και δεδειχεν ότι δια ζων/ος λογα τα κρατοντό παντων Θεου, παρηχθη προς υπαρξιν τα οκ οντα σοτε, ζωογονειλαι δε και εν πνευμαίι· ειπε φησιν ο Θεος, Γενηθήτω φως, και εγενείο φως, Γενηθήτω τερεωμα εν μεσω 78 udalos, nas eyevelo OUTW5. Contra Julianum, L. i. Juliani Opera, II. p. 21. (P.) I“ Ita principium, sive initium, inceptionis esse verbum, non alicujus substantiæ
Nam et ipsum principium, in quo Deus fecit cælum et terram, aliquid volunt fuisse quasi substantivum et corpulentum, quod in materiam interpretari possit.” Adv. Hermogenem, S. xis. p. 240. (P.)
S“ In principio fecit Deus cælum et terram plerique existimant, sicut in altercatione quoque Jasonis et Papisci scriptum est, et Tertullianus in libro contra Praxeam disputat, nec non Hilarius in expositione cujusdam Psalmi affirmat, in Hebræo haberi, in Filio fecit Deus cælum et terram: quod falsum esse, ipsius rei veritas comprobat, nam et septuaginta interpretes et Symmachus, et Theodotion, in principio transtulerunt: et in Hebræo scriptum est, beresith n'wp72." Questiones in Genesim, Opera, I. p. 853. (P.)
Η Εγω ειμι αρχη και το τελος, το Α και το Ω, ο πρωτος και ο εσχατο αναγκαιον δε ειδεναι ότι ου κατα σαν και σνομαζεθαι αρχη εσιν αυτος σως γαρ καθ' ο ζων εςι δυναται Eivat apxm; In Johan. Comment. II. p. 19. (P.)
Τ Οτι δε αρχη ο υιος Ωσηε διδασκει σαφως και εξαι, εν τω τόπω ου εργηθη αυτοις, ο age us iuste kamencocokan Ter sau ovrae kan nyayoncorraiá unor locaen
These interpretations will surprise us the less, if we consider how familiar it was with the fathers to consider og xn as synonymous to logos, which they always understood of Christ. Thus Clemens Alexandrinus says, that “ the Son is
απαρχη of all things, of whom we must learn the cause, the Father of all, the most ancient, and the benefactor of all.”* In another passage he calls Christ the agxn; saying, “ Because the logos was from above, he is and was the divine agxon of all things.
of all things. This logos, the Christ, was the original author of our being ; for he was in God, and of our well-being. This logos has now appeared to men, he alone being both God and man, the author of all good to us.” †
Theophilus also speaks of the logos, as having been in God, as the αρχη the Spirit of God, who spake by the prophets.
God, therefore, having his own logos in his own bowels, generated him with his wisdom, throwing him out before all things. This logos, generated by himself, he used as his assistant, and by him made all things. He is called the αρχη, because he rules and governs all things that are made by him. He, therefore, being the Spirit of God, I and the αρχη,
and wisdom, and supreme power, went into the prophets, and by them spake concerning the maker of the world and all things. For there were no prophets when the world was made, but the wisdom of God, which was in him, and the holy logos, which is always with him.”
However, the term agxn was not so appropriated to Christ, but that it was common to all the three great principles of
επι ταυτο, και θησονίαι εαυτους αρχην μιαν, και αναβησονlαι εκ της γης. Combefis Auctuarium, I. p. 197. (P.)
Το πρεσβύτερον εν γενεσει, την αχρονων και αναρχον αρχην τε και απαρχην των ονίων, τον υιον, παρ' ου εκμανθανειν επεκεινα αιτιον, τον πατερα των όλων, το πρεσβιςον και πανίων ευεργετικωλαίον. Strom. vii. p. 700. (Ρ.)
* Αλλ' ότι μεν ην ο λογος ανωθεν, αρχη θεια των πανίων ην τε και εσιν ότι δε νυν ονομα ελαβεν, το παλαι καθωσιωμενον, δυναμεως αξιον, Χριςος, καινον ασμα μοι κεκληλαι ουλος γεν ο λογος ο Χριςος, και τα ειναι παλαι ήμας, ην γαρ εν Θεώ, και το ευ ειναι νυν δη επεφανη ανθρωπους αυτος ουτος λογος, ο μονος αμφω, Θεος τε και ανθρωπος, απανίων ημιν αιτιος αγαθων παρ' ου το ευ ζην εκδιδασκομενοι, εις αίδιον ζωην παραπεμπομεθα. Ad Gentes, Opera, p. 5. (P.)
| It is observeable, that Theophilus makes the logos to be the same with the Spirit, πνευμα. Εusebius also says, that λογος and πνευμα have no difference with respect to God. It is, indeed, impossible that they should have conceived any difference between them, and yet this circumstance throws great confusion into the orthodox system. (P.)
ΚΑΙ Εχων εν ο Θεος τον εαυτε λογον ενδιαθελον εν τοις ιδιους σπλαγχνοις, εγεννησεν αυτον μετα της εαυτο σοφιας εξερευξαμενών προ των όλων τελον τον λογον εσχεν υπεργον των υπ' αυτο γεγενημενων, και δι' αυτα τα παντα σεποιηκεν δυτος λεγείαι αρχη, ότι κυριευει σανλων των δι' αυτο δεδημιεργημενων δυτος εν ων πνευμα Θεου, και αρχη και σοφια, και δυναμις υψις, κατηρχετο εις τες προφηθας, και δι' αυτων ελαλει τα περι της ποιησεως το κοσμο και των λοιπων απανίων° ου γαρ ησαν οι προφηται ότε ο αλλα η σοφια η εν αυτω οσα η τε Θεου, και ο λογος ο αγιο αυτε ο αει συμπαρων αυτο διo δη και δια Σολομωνος προφητε ουτω λεγει. L. ii. p. 82, (Ρ.).