« ElőzőTovább »
The points of doctrine which Catholics maintain, in common with a majority of the Reformed Churches, but which are denied by some Protestants, are also numerous and important. Besides the Catholic articles just mentioned, they hold the necessity of believing in a Trimity of Persons in the Deity, equal in power, wisdom, and glory. The following reasoning on, and illustration of, this ineffable mystery, which the Author of our religion did not see proper to reveal, or explain, to his immediate disciples, is taken from one of the books* acknowledged as authority in the Catholic church; “ Of the Mysterie of the blessed Trinity.” Ist. Was God solitarie and all alone before the creation of the world ?- No; he was from all eternity the most sacred company of the blessed Trinity: for as he is the cause of all fruitfulness in creatures, so is he first of all most fruitful within himself, in re. gard of his fecundity, both in his understanding and in his will; and, therefore, although there were no more things but himself, and he himself was but one thing, yet this one thing was always existent with three personalities. And this is that which we call the mystery of the blessed Trinity and Unity of God.
2d. How can this be-It is a thing which
*« A Declaration of the Principall Pointes of Christian Doctrine, gathered out of diverse Catechismes, and set forth by the English Priests dwelling in Tournay Colledge.” p. 15, et. seq. Printed at Paris, A. D. 1647.
we cannot comprehend : for as God himself is incomprehensible to us, so is all that which is in God, and particularly this mystery of the most blessed Trinity.
3d. Is there no example to help us to conceive this mystery?-Yes; it may, in some sort, be exemplified in a fountain, which produceth a river, and the river and it together, a lake : for the lake, the river, and the fountain, are distinguished from one another, and yet, the water, by which they are all constituted, is one and the same, in every one of them.
4th. What, then, meaneth the mystery of the Unity and Trinity of God - It meaneth, that in God there is only one divinity, or, as we say, essence and divine nature; which, nevertheless, is in three divine persons, who are called Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and so there is bat one God, and every person is truly that one God.
5th. Wherefore are the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, three distinct persons ?-Because they have three distinct notions; for though the being of the Godhead be most single and indivisible, and, consequently, the self-same in all three ; yet the manner of this being is not the same, but each one hath his special manner of being, which cannot be common to the rest. For the Father is the fountain from whence the other two persons do proceed, and he hath no
source himself to proceed from, and, therefore, he produceth, but is not produced. The Son proceedeth from the Father, and only from him. The Holy Ghost proceedeth both from the Father and the Son. And hence it ariseth, that the three persons are distinguished (though not divided) one from another : and, therefore, though we cannot say, that the Godhead of the Son proceedeth from the Godhead of the Father, or the Godhead of the Holy Ghost from the Godhead of the Father and the Son ; yet we are bound to believe, that the person of the Son proceedet h from the person of the Father, and the person of the Holy Ghost, from the persons of the Father and the Son. •
6th. How doth the Son proceed from the Father?-He is not made, nor created, but begotten of his Father's own substance, by his understanding. For the Father knowing himself by an infinite knowledge, produceth by his understanding, a most perfect word, or expression of himself; which is his Son co-eternal, and equal in all things to himself, and must needs possess the same nature with him, because he is produced of his own substance.
7th. Why is he called his Son ? Because his production is a true generation. For as the end of generation in creatures is to make a thing like in nature to that from which it proceeds, so doth the word of the divine understanding produced through the force of the Father's intellectual nature, by the manner of its production naturally express the thing which is understood, which is God the Father himself.
8th. Hath God the Father but one Son, begotten of his own substance ?-No; neither can he have any more than one: for it is otherwise in God than in men; because no man can give all that he himself is to any son, and therefore he may have many children; but God Almighty doth give his own substance so perfectly to his son by generation, as that he giveth him all that is in himself, and can be communicated; inso. much that there remaineth nothing to be given by way of generation to any other.
9th. How doth the Holy Ghost proceed from the Father and the Son ?-He doth proceed from them both, as from one only source, and not as made or created, nor as begotten, but produced through the will by an ineffable way, which divines term spiration.
10th. What is spiration ?-It is a breathing or impulse of the will, by which it expresseth its affection: for the Father loving his Son infinitely, as being his only begotten, and the Son his Father, as the fountain from whom he proceedeth, they produce a mutual bond of love, whereby the Father and Son are ineffably linked together: and this is the Holy Ghost, the third
person of the blessed Trinity, eternal God, and equal to both the other two persons.
· 11th. Why are these three persons one only God ?-Because they have one self-same essence, one self-same power, one self-same wisdom, one self-same goodness, one self-same understanding, and one self-same will.
12th. Did then all these three divine persons create the world ?-- Yes, for all three having from all eternity the same power, the same will, and the same understanding, whatsoever is done out of God by one, is done by all.”*
The Church is defined by the Council of Trent to be the one, visible, holy, and Catholic, that is, universal Church, established by God on a solid
* It is hardly necessary to remark, that this doctrine of the Trinity is admitted into the creeds of a very large majority of the Reformed Churches. It is, however, denied by many of the Churches of Transylvania, and other places, remnants of the Polish Socinians. At home, the 'Trinity is rejected by the following sects : Arians, Modern Socinians, Humanitarians, or Unitarians, Sabellians, Swedenborgians,t and by a very large portion of Quakers. There are now many clergymen of the Church of England who are reputed Anti-Trinitarians; and the opponents of this tenet seem of late years to have very rapidly increased in this country ; though the penal laws are very severe against hereticks of this description.
+ This modern sect believe that Jesus Clirist is the only true God; they are a sort of Modalists,