On the Trinity

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Book IV.

Explains for what the son of God was sent, viz, that by Christ's dying for sinners, we were to be convinced how great is God's love for us, and also what manner of men we are whom he loved. That the word came in the flesh, to the purpose also of enabling us to be so cleansed as to contemplate and cleave to god. That our double death was abolished by his death, being one and single. And hereupon is discussed, how the single of our saviour harmonizes to salvation with our double; and the perfection is treated at length of the senary number, to which the ratio itself of single to double is reducible. That all are gathered together from many into one by the one mediator of life, viz. Christ, through whom alone is wrought the true cleansing of the soul. Further it is demonstrated that the son of god, although made less by being sent, on account of the form of a servant which he took, is not therefore less than the father according to the form of god, because he was sent by himself: and that the same account is to be given of the sending of the Holy Spirit.

Preface.-The Knowledge of God is to Be Sought from God.

1. The knowledge of things terrestrial and celestial is commonly thought much of by men. Yet those doubtless judge better who prefer to that knowledge, the knowledgeof themselves; and that mind is more praiseworthy which knows even its own weakness, than that which, without regard to this, searches out, and even comes to know, the ways of the stars, or which holds fast such knowledge already acquired, while ignorant of the way by which itself to enter into its own proper health and strength. But if any one has already become awake towards God, kindled by the warmth of the Holy Spirit, and in the love of God has become vile in his own eyes; and through wishing, yet not having strength to come in unto Him, and through the light He gives, has given heed to himself, and has found himself, and has learned that his own filthiness cannot mingle with His purity; and feels it sweet to weep and to entreat Him, that again and again He will have compassion, until he have put off all his wretchedness; and to pray confidently, as having already received of free gift the pledge of salvation through his only Saviour and Enlightener of man:-such an one, so acting, and so lamenting, knowledge does not puff up, because charity edifieth;(1) for he has preferred knowledge to knowledge, he has preferred to know his own weakness, rather than to know the walls of the world, the foundations of the earth, and the pinnacles of heaven. And by obtaining this knowledge, he has obtained also sorrow;(2) but sorrow for straying away from the desire of reaching hisown proper country, and the Creator of it, his own blessed God. And if among men such as these, in the family of Thy Christ, O Lord my God, I groan among Thy poor, give me out of Thy bread to answer men who do not hunger and thirst after righteousness,but are sated and abound.(3) But it is the vain image of those things that has sated them, not Thy truth, which they have repelled and shrunk from, and so fall into their own vanity. I certainly know how many figments the human heart gives birth to. And what is my own heart but a human heart? But I pray the God of my heart, that I may not vomit forth (eructuem) into these writings any of these figments for solid truths, but that there may pass into them only what the breath of His truth has breathed into me; cast out though I am from the sight of His eyes,(4) and striving from afar to return by the way which the divinity of His only-begotten Son has made by His humanity. And this truth, changeable though I am, I so far drink in, as far as in it I see nothing changeable: neither in place and time, as is the case with bodies; nor in time alone, and in a certain sense place, as with the thoughts of our own spirits; nor in time alone, and not even in any semblance of place, as with some of the reasonings of our own minds. For the essence of God, whereby He is, has altogether nothing changeable, neither in eternity, nor in truth, nor in will; since there truth is eternal, love eternal; and there love is true, eternity true; and there eternity is loved, and truth is loved.

Chapter I.-We are Made Perfect by Acknowledgement of Our Own Weakness. The Incarnate Word Dispels Our Darkness.

2. But since we are exiled from the unchangeable joy, yet neither cut off nor torn away from it so that we should not seek eternity, truth, blessedness, even in those changeable and temporal things (for we wish neither to die, nor to be deceived, nor to be troubled); visions have been sent to us from heaven suitable to our state of pilgrimage, in order to remind us that what we seek is not here, but that from this pilgrimage we must return thither, whence unless we originated we should not here seek these things. And first we have had to be persuaded how much God loved us, lest from despair we should not dare to look up to Him. And we needed to be shown also what manner of men we are whom He loved, test being proud, as if of our own merits, we should recede the more from Him, and fail the more in our own strength. And hence He so dealt with us, that we might the rather profit by His strength, and that so in the weakness of humility the virtue of charity might be perfected. And this is intimated in the Psalm, where it is said, "Thou, O God, didst send a spontaneous rain, whereby Thou didst make Thine inheritance perfect, when it was weary."(5) For by "spontaneous rain" nothing else is meant than grace, not rendered to merit, but given freely,(6) whence also it is called grace; for He gave it, not because we were worthy, but because He willed. And knowing this, we shall not trust in ourselves; and this is to be made "weak." But He Himself makes us perfect, who says also to the Apostle Paul, "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness."(7) Man, then, was to be persuaded how much God loved us, and what manner of men we were whom He loved; the former, lest we should despair; the latter, lest we should be proud. And this most necessary topic the apostle thus explains: "But God commendeth," he says, "His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life."(8) Also in another place: "What," he says, "shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how has He not with Him also freely given us all things?"(9) Now that which is declared to us as already done, was shown also to the ancient righteous as about to be done; that through the same faith they themselves also might be humbled, and so made weak; and might be made weak, and so perfected.

3. Because therefore the Word of God is One, by which all things were made, which is the unchangeable truth, all things are simultaneously therein, potentially and unchangeably; not only those things which are now in this whole creation, but also those which have been and those which shall be. And therein they neither have been, nor shall be, but only are; and all things are life, and all things are one; or rather it is one being and one life. For all things were so made by Him, that whatsoever was made in them was not made in Him, but was life in Him. Since," in the beginning," the Word was not made, but "the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and all things were made by Him;" neither had all things been made by Him, unless He had Himself been before all things and not made. But in those things which were made by Him, even body, which is not life, would not have been made by Him, except it had been life in Him before it was made. For "that which was made was already life in Him;" and not life of any kind soever: for the soul also is the life of the body, but this too is made, for it is changeable; and by what was it made, except by the unchangeable Word of God? For "all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made." "What, therefore, was made was already life in Him;" and not any kind of life, but "the life [which] was the light of men;" the light certainly of rational minds, by which men differ from beasts, and therefore are men. Therefore not corporeal light, which is the light of the flesh, whether it shine from heaven, or whether it be lighted by earthly fires; nor that of human flesh only, but also that of beasts, and down even to the minutest of worms. For all these things see that light: but that life was the light of men; nor is it far from any one of us, for in it "we live, and move, and have our being."(10)

Chapter 2.-How We are Rendered Apt for the Perception of Truth Through the Incarnate Word.

4. But "the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not." Now the "darkness" is the foolish minds of men, made blind by vicious desires and unbelief. And that the Word, by whom all things were made, might care for these and heal them, "The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us." For our enlightening is the partaking of the Word, namely, of that life which is the tight of men. But for this partaking we were utterly unfit, and fell short of it, on account of the uncleanness of sins. Therefore we were to be cleansed. And further, the one cleansing of the unrighteous and of the proud is the blood of the Righteous One, and the humbling of God Himself;(11) that we might be cleansed through Him, made as He was what we are by nature, and what we are not by sin, that we might contemplate God, which by nature we are not. For by nature we are not God: by nature we are men, by sin we are not righteous. Wherefore God, made a righteous man, interceded with God for man the sinner. For the sinner is not congruous to the righteous, but man is congruous to man. By joining therefore to us the likeness of His humanity, He took away the unlikeness of our unrighteousness; and by being made partaker of our mortality, He made us partakers of His divinity. For the death of the sinner springing from the necessity of comdemnation is deservedly abolished by the death of the Righteous One springing from the free choice of His compassion, while His single [death and resurrection] answers to our double [death and resurrection].(12) For this congruity, or suitableness, or concord, or consonance, or whatever more appropriate word there may be, whereby one is [united] to two, is of great weight in all compacting, or better, perhaps, co-adaptation, of the creature. For (as it just occurs to me) what I mean is precisely that co-adaptation which the Greeks call armonia. However this is not the place to set forth the power of that consonance of single to double which is found especially in us, and which is naturally so implanted in us (and by whom, except by Him who created us?), that not even the ignorant can fail to perceive it, whether when singing themselves or hearing others. For by this it is that treble and bass voices are in harmony, so that any one who in his note departs from it, offends extremely, not only trained skill, of which the most part of men are devoid, but the very sense of hearing. To demonstrate this, needs no doubt a long discourse; but any one who knows it, may make it plain to the very ear in a rightly ordered monochord.

Chapter 3.-The One Death and Resurrection of The, Body of Christ Harmonizes with Our Double Death and Resurrection of Body and Soul, to the Effect of Salvations in What Way the Single Death of Christ is Bestowed Upon Our Double Death.

5. But for our present need we must discuss, so far as God gives us power, in what manner the single of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ answers to, and is, so to say, in harmony with our double to the effect of salvation. We certainly, as no Christian doubts, are dead both in soul and body: in soul, because of sin; in body, because of the punishment of sin, and through this also in body because of sin. And to both these parts of ourselves, that is, both to soul and to body, there was need both of a medicine and of resurrection, that what had been changed for the worse might be renewed for the better. Now the death of the soul is ungodliness, and the death of the body is corruptibility, through which comes also a departure of the soul from the body. For as the soul dies when God leaves it, so the body dies when the soul leaves it; whereby the former becomes foolish, the latter lifeless. For the soul is raised up again by repentance, and the renewing of life is begun in the body still mortal by faith, by which men believe on Him who justities the ungodly;(13) and it is increased and strengthened by good habits from day to day, as the inner man is renewed more and more.(14) But the body, being as it were the outward man, the longer this life lasts is so much the more corrupted, either by age or by disease, or by various afflictions, until it come to that last affliction which all call death. And its resurrection is delayed until the end; when also our justification itself shall be perfected ineffably. For then we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.(15) But now, so long as the corruptible body presseth down the soul,(16) and human life upon earth is all temptation,(17) in His sight shall no man living be justified,(18) in comparison of the righteousness in which we shall be made equal with the angels, and of the glory which shall be revealed in us. But why mention more proofs respecting the difference between the death of the soul and the death of the body, when the Lord in one sentence of the Gospel has made either death easily distinguishable by any one from the other, where He says, "Let the dead bury their dead"?(19) For burial was the fitting disposal of a dead body. But by those who were to bury it He meant those who were dead in soul by the impiety of unbelief, such, namely, as are awakened when it is said, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."(20) And there is a death which the apostle denounces, saying of the widow, "But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth."(21) Therefore the soul, which was before ungodly and is now godly, is said to have come alive again from the dead and to live, on account of the righteousness of faith. But the body is not only said to be about to die, on account of that departure of the soul which will be; but on account of the great infirmity of flesh and blood it is even said to be now dead, in a certain place in the Scriptures, namely, where the apostle says, that "the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness."(22) Now this life is wrought by faith, "since the just shall live by faith,"(23) But what follows? "But if the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit which dwelleth in you."(24)

6. Therefore on this double death of ours our Saviour bestowed His own single death; and to cause both our resurrections, He appointed beforehand and set forth in mystery and type His own one resurrection. For He was not a sinner or ungodly, that, as though dead in spirit, He should need to be renewed in the inner man, and to be recalled as it were to the life of righteousness by repentance; but being clothed in mortal flesh, and in that alone dying, in that alone rising again, in that alone did He answer to both for us; since in it was wrought a mystery as regards the inner man, and a type as regards the outer. For it was in a mystery as regards our inner man, so as to signify the death of our soul, that those words were uttered, not only in the Psalm, but also on the cross: "My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?"(25) To which words the apostle agrees, saying, "Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin;" since by the crucifixion of the tuner man are understood the pains of repentance, and a certain wholesome agony of self-control, by which death the death of ungodliness is destroyed, and in which death God has left us. And so the body of sin is destroyed through such a cross, that now we should not yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.(26) Because, if even the inner man certainly is renewed day by day,(27) yet undoubtedly it is old before it is renewed. For that is done inwardly of which the same apostle speaks: "Put off the old man, and put on the new;" which he goes on to explain by saying, "Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth."(28) But where is lying put away, unless inwardly, that he who speaketh the truth from his heart may inhabit the holy hill of God?(29) But the resurrection of the body of the Lord is shown to belong to the mystery of our own inner resurrection, where, after He had risen, He says to the woman, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father;"(30) with which mystery the apostle's words agree, where he says, "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; set your thoughts(31) on things above."(32) For not to touch Christ, unless when He had ascended to the Father, means not to have thoughts(33) of Christ after a fleshly manner. Again, the death of the flesh of our Lord contains a type of the death of our outer man, since it is by such suffering most of all that He exhorts His servants that they should not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.(34) Wherefore the apostle says, "That I may fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh."(35) And the resurrection of the body of the Lord is found to contain a type of the resurrection of our outward man, because He says to His disciples, "Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have."(36) And one of the disciples also, handling His scars, exclaimed, "My Lord and my God!"(37) And whereas the entire integrity of that flesh was apparent, this was shown in that which He had said when exhorting His disciples: "There shall not a hair of your head perish."(38) For how comes it that first is said, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father;"(39) and how comes it that before He ascends to the Father, He actually is touched by the disciples: unless because in the former the mystery of the inner man was intimated, in the latter a type was given of the outer man? Or can any one possibly be so without understanding, and so turned away from the truth, as to dare to saythat He was touched by men before He ascended, but by women when He had ascended? It was on account of this type, which went before in the Lord, of our future resurrection in the body, that the apostle says, "Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ's."(40) For it was the resurrection of the body to which this place refers, on account of which he also says, "Who has changed our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body."(41) The one death therefore of our Saviour brought salvation to our double death, and His one resurrection wrought for us two resurrections; since His body in both cases, that is, both in His death and in His resurrection, wasministered to us by a kind of healing suitableness, both as a mystery of the inner man, and as a type of the outer.

Next Section

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

FootNotes:

  1. 1 Cor. viii. 1.
  2. Eccles. i. 18.
  3. Matt. v. 6.
  4. Ps. xxxi. 22.
  5. Ps. lxviii. 9.-Pluviam voluntariam.
  6. Gratis.
  7. 2 Cor. xii. 9.
  8. Rom. v. 8-10-Donavit.
  9. Rom. viii. 31,32.
  10. Acts xvii. 27, 28.
  11. John i. 1, 14.
  12. [This singleness and doubleness is explained in chapter 3.-W.G.T.S.].
  13. Rom. iv. 5.
  14. 2 Cor. iv. 16.
  15. I John iii. 1.
  16. Wisd. ix 15.
  17. Job. vii. 1.
  18. Ps. cxliii. 2.
  19. Matt. viii. 22.
  20. Eph. v. 14.
  21. I Tim. v. 6.
  22. Rom viii. 10.
  23. Rom. i. 17.
  24. Rom. viii. 10, 11.
  25. Ps. xxii. 1, and Matt. xxvii. 46.
  26. Rom. vi. 6, 13.
  27. 2 Cor. iv. 16.
  28. Eph. iv. 22-25.
  29. Ps. xv. 1, 3.
  30. John xx. 17.
  31. Sapite.
  32. Col. iii. 1, 2.
  33. Sapere.
  34. Matt. x. 28.
  35. Col. i. 24.
  36. I.uke xxiv. 39.
  37. John. xx. 28.
  38. Luke xxi. 18.
  39. John xx. 17.
  40. 1 Cor. xv. 23.
  41. Phil iii. 21.