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Father, water the Holy Ghost, and by blood is meant the word. This explanation is fine, but it still leaves a little confusion.
St. Irenæus goes much farther; he says,* that Rahab the prostitute of Jericho, in concealing three spies of the people of God, concealed the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost; which is strong, but not consistent.
On the other hand, the great and learned Origen confounds us in a different
way. The following is one of many of his passages ;t
6 The Son is as much below the Father as he and the Holy Ghost are above the most noble creatures.”
What can be said after that? How can we help confessing, with grief, that nobody understands it? How can we help confessing, that from the first—from the primitive Christians, the Ebionites, those men so mortified and so pious, who always revered Jesus though they belived him to be the son of Joseph-until the great controversy of Athanasius, the platonism of the Trinity was always a subject of quarrels. A supreme judge was absolutely required to decide, and he was at last found in the council of Nice, which 'council afterwards produced new factions and wars. EXPLANATION OF THE TRINITY, ACCORDING
ABAUZIT. “ We can speak with exactness of the manner in which the union exists of God and Jesus Christ, only by relating the three opinions which exist on this subject, and by making reflections on each of them.
“Opinion of the Orthodox. “ The first opinion is that of the orthodox. They establish-Ist. A distinction of three persons in the divine essence, before the coming of Jesus Christ into the world; 2dly. That the second of these persons is united to the human nature of Jesus Christ; 3dly. That the union is so strict, that by it Jesus Christ is God; that we can attribute to him the creation of the * Book iv. chap. xxxiv. + Book xxiv. on St. Johni.
world, and all divine perfections; and that we can adore him with a supreme worship.
“Opinion of the Unitarians.* 66 The second is that of the Unitarians. Not conceiving the distinction of persons in the Divinity, they establish-1st. That divinity is united to the human nature of Jesus Christ; 2dly. That this union is such that we can say, that Jesus Christ is God; that we can attribute to him the creation of the world and all divine perfections; and adore him with a supreme worship.
Opinion of the Socinians. “ The third opinion is that of the Socinians, who, like the Unitarians, not conceiving any distinction of persons in the Divinity, establish—1st. That divinity is united to the human nature of Jesus Christ; 2dly. That this union is very strict; 3dly. That it is not such that we can call Jesus Christ God, or attribute divine perfections and the creation to him, or adore him with a supreme worship; and they think, that all the passages of Scripture may be explained without admitting any of these things.
“Reflections on the First Opinion. “ In the distinction which is made of three persons in the Divinity, we either retain the common idea of persons or we do not. If we retain the common idea of persons, we establish three gods; that is certain. If we do not establish the ordinary idea of three persons, it is no longer anything more than a distinction of properties; which agrees with the second opinion. Or if we will not allow that it is not a distinction of persons, properly speaking, we establish a distinction of which we have no idea. There is no appearance, that to imagine a distinction in God, of which we can have no idea, Scripture would put men in danger of
* Or rather Arians, as now understood.T.
becoming idolaters, by multiplying the Divinity. It is besides surprising, that this distinction of persons having always existed, it should only be since the coming of Jesus Christ that it has been revealed, and that it is necessary to know them.
* Reflections on the Second Opinion. “ There is not indeed so great danger of precipitating men into idolatry in the second opinion as in the first; but it must be confessed that it is not entirely exempt from it. Indeed, as by the nature of the union which it establishes between Divinity and the human nature of Jesus Christ, we can call him God and worship him, there are two objects of adoration--Jesus Christ and God. I confess it may be said, that it is God whom we should worship in Jesus Christ; but who knows not the extreme inclination which men have to change invisible objects of worship into objects which fall under the senses, or at least under the imagination ? an inclination which they will here gratify without the least scruple, since they say that Divinity is personally united to the humanity of Jesus Christ.
Reflections on the Third Opinion. « The third opinion, besides being very simple and conformable to the ideas of reason, is not subject to any similar danger of throwing men into idolatry. Though by this opinion Jesus Christ can be no more than a simple man, it need not be feared, that by that he can be confounded with prophets or saints of the first order. In this sentiment there always remains a difference between them and him. As we can imagine, almost to the utmost, the degrees of union of divinity with a man, so we can conceive, that in particular the union of divinity of Jesus Christ has so high a degree of knowledge, power, felicity, perfection, and dignity, that there is always an immense distance between him and the greatest prophets. It remains only to see whether this opinion can agree with Scripture, and whether it be true that the title of God,
divine perfections, creation, and supreme worship, are not attributed to Jesus Christ in the gospels.”
It was for the philosopher Abauzit to see all this. For myself I submit, with my heart and mouth and pen, to all that the catholic church has decided, and to all that it may decide on any other such dogma. I will add but one word more on the Trinity, which is a decision of Calvin's that we have on this mystery. This is it:
“ In case any person prove heterodox, and scruples using the words Trinity and Person, we believe not that this can be a reason for rejecting him ; we should support him without driving him from the church, and without exposing him to any censure as a heretic."
It was after such a solemn declaration as this, that John Calvin—the aforesaid Calvin, the son of a cooper of Noyon—caused Michael Servetus to be burnt at Geneva by a slow fire with green faggots.*
“ PILATE therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth : every one that is of the truth heareth my voice. Pilate saith unto him, What is truth? and when he had said this, he went out," &c. (St. John, chap. xviii.)
It is a pity for mankind that Pilate went out, without hearing the reply: we should then have known what truth is. Pilate was not very curious. The accused, brought before him, told him that he was king, that he was born to be a king, and he informs himself not how this can be. He was supreme judge in the name of Cæsar, he had the power of the sword, his duty was to penetrate into the meaning of these words. He should
Was that good or consistent ? Let the followers of this man
have said,-Tell me what you understand by being king? how are you born to be king, and to bear witness unto the truth? It is said that you can only arrive at the ear of kings with difficulty ; I, who am a judge, have always had extreme trouble in discovering it. Inform me, whilst your enemies cry outside against you; and you will render me the greatest service ever rendered to a judge. I would rather learn to know the truth, than condescend to the tumultuous demand of the Jews, who wish me to hang you.
We doubtless dare not pretend to guess what the author of all truth would have said to Pilate.
Should he have said, “ Truth is an abstract word which most men use indifferently in their books and judgments, for error and falsehood ?” This definition would be wonderfully convenient to all makers of systems. Thus the word wisdom is often taken for folly, and wit for nonsense.
Humanly speaking, let us define truth, to better understand that which is declared-such as it is.
Suppose that six months only had been taken to teach Pilate the truths of logic: he would doubtless have made this concluding syllogism :-A man's life should not be taken away who has only preached a good doctrine ; now he who is brought before me, according even to his enemies, has often preached an excellent doctrine; therefore he should not be punished with death.
He might also have inferred this other argumentMy duty is to dissipate the riots of a seditious people, who demand the death of a man without reason or juridical form; now such are the Jews on this occasion; therefore I should send them away, and break up their assembly.
We take for granted that Pilate knew arithmetic; we will not therefore speak of these kind of truths.
As to mathematical truths, I believe that he would have required three years at least before he could have been acquainted with transcendent geometry. The truths of physics, combined with those of geometry, would have required more than four years. We gene