by W. G. T. Shedd
The words of our Lord to the Samaritan woman, "God is a Spirit" (John 4:24), although spoken for a practical purpose, are also a scientific definition. The original (pneuma ho theos) by its emphatic collocation of pneuma2 and omission of the article implies that God is spirit in the highest sense. He is not a spirit, but spirit itself, absolutely. The employment of the article in the English version is objectionable, because it places the deity in a class with other spiritual beings. But this is not the thought of Christ, who asserts that "no one knows the Father but the Son" (Matt. 11:27), thus claiming for himself a knowledge of the deity as the absolute and unconditioned spirit, who is not cognizable by the finite mind in the manner and degree that finite spirit is. Man knows the nature of finite spirit through his own self-consciousness, but he knows that of the infinite spirit only analogically. Hence some of the characteristics of divine nature cannot be known by a finite intelligence. For example, how God can be independent of the limitations of time and have an eternal mode of consciousness that is without succession, including all events simultaneously in one omniscient intuition, is inscrutable to man because he himself has no such consciousness. The same is true of the omnipresence of God. How he can be all at every point in universal space baffles human comprehension, though it has some light thrown upon it by the fact that the human soul is all at every point in the body.
The divine being is of an essence whose spirituality transcends that of all other spirits—human, angelic, or archangelic—even as his immortality transcends that of man or angel. God alone is said to have immortality (1 Tim. 6:16), because his immortality is a parte ante as well as a parte post. His immortality is eternity.5 And in the same manner, when the spirituality of God is compared with that of his rational creatures, it might be said that he alone has spirituality.
The transcendent nature of divine spirituality is seen in the fact of its being formless and unembodied: "No man has seen God at any time" (John 1:18); "you saw no similitude" (Deut. 4:12). The infinite spirit cannot be so included in a form as not to exist outside of it. The finite spirit can be and in all its grades is both embodied and limited by the body:
That each, who seems a separate whole,
Should move his rounds, and, fusing all
The skirts of self again, should fall
Reemerging in the general soul,
Is faith as vague as all unsweet:
Eternal form shall still divide
The eternal soul from all beside;
And I shall know him when we meet.
The seeming exception to this, in the instance of man between death and the resurrection, is not really such. The disembodiment of the spirit is only temporary. The completeness of the person requires the resurrection and reunion of the bodily form.
Hence in order to have communication with his embodied creature, man, the Supreme Being assumes a form; first in the theophanies of the Old Testament and last in the incarnation of the New. In his own original essence he is formless and hence could not have any intercourse with a creature like man, who is conditioned in his perception by the limitations of finite form. For this reason, "the Word became flesh and dwelled among us full of grace and truth" (John 1:14). Uniting with a human soul and body, "the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has expounded (exēgēsato) him" (1:18). In Phil. 2:6 the trinitarian personality of the Logos is denominated a "form of God" (morphē theou). This does not mean a visible corporeal embodiment, for it describes the Logos before his incarnation. A distinction or mode of divine essence is intended by it. This begotten or filial form of God is purely spiritual and incorporeal and hence is compelled to assume a corporeal form—namely, "the form (morphē) of a servant" (explained by schēma; v. 8)—in order to have society with man. Some have supposed that the incarnation is necessitated not only by man's sin, but by the needs of the angelic world, in order that there may be intercourse between God and the angels. That there is a provision for this latter and that God manifested himself to the holy and happy angels prior to and irrespective of the incarnation of the Word is clear from the biblical representations concerning such an intercourse (cf. Ps. 104:4; 103:20; 1 Kings 22:19; 2 Chron. 18:18; Isa. 6:5; Luke 15:10; Heb. 1:7; 2:5). But the embodiment of God the Son in a perishable human form involves humiliation and suffering for the special purpose of atonement and redemption, and hence it cannot have reference to the needs of the sinless angelic world. Moreover, there would be no reason for the adoption of man's nature and form in order to a manifestation of God to the angels.
While the spiritual essence of God is incorporeal and formless, it is at the same time the most real substance of all. Mere body or form does not add to the reality of an essence, because the form itself derives its characteristics and its reality from the informing spirit: "The things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (Heb. 11:3). Visibles were not made of visibles, but of invisibles. The phenomenon, consequently, is less real than the noumenon; the visible than the invisible. God's incorporeal and formless being is so intensely and eminently real that all formed and corporeal being, in comparison, is unreal: "All nations before him are as nothing and less than nothing and vanity" (Isa. 40:17); "my age is as nothing before you" (Ps. 39:5); "before the mountains were brought forth or ever you had formed the earth and the world, you are God" (90:2). "The more unbodied," says Smith (Nature of God, 123), "anything is, the more unbounded also is it in its effective power: body and matter being the most sluggish, inert, and unwieldly thing that may be, having no power from itself nor over itself; and therefore the purest mind must needs also be the most almighty life and spirit." (supplement 3.1.1.)
The transcendent reality of the divine essence appears also in the fact that it is a necessary essence. The objective reality cannot even in thought, still less in fact, be separated from the subjective idea, as it can be in the instance of contingent and created substance. We can conceive of the nonexistence of the created and contingent being of whom we have an idea, but not of the uncreated and necessary being of whom we have an idea. A being that might be a nonentity does not correspond to our idea of a necessary being. A necessary being, consequently, has more being than a contingent being has. He is further from nonentity. God, therefore, is more real than any of his creatures, be they material or immaterial. The infinite spirit is more real than the finite spirit; and the finite spirit is more real than the body it inhabits because it can exist without it.
While, however, there is this transcendence in the spirituality of God, there is also a resemblance between the infinite and the finite spirit. The invisible, immortal, and intelligent mind of man is like in kind to the divine nature, though infinitely below it in the degree of excellence. What the Arians erroneously asserted respecting the nature of the Son would be true of the nature of man and angels, namely, that it is homoiousios with God, but not homoousios. Man's spiritual nature resembles that of the deity, but is not identical with it.
If the difference between God and man is exaggerated, then the infinite and finite are so separated from one another that religion becomes impossible. God is practically reduced to a nonentity, by being placed wholly outside the sphere of human apprehension. He is so different from his rational creatures that no analogies can be found between them and nothing can be positively and absolutely affirmed concerning him. From this extreme and error spring deism and agnosticism in theory and Epicureanism in practice. Deism asserts divine existence, but with the fewest attributes possible. Bolingbroke denied that any of the moral attributes may be affirmed of God. Only power and adaptive intelligence as seen in physical nature belong to the Supreme Being. This is making the difference between the infinite and finite so great that the religious feelings of adoration, love, faith, and penitence are impossible. Hobbes taught agnosticism, maintaining that God is so totally different from man that he is not only incomprehensible but inconceivable and not an object of thought. Cudworth, in opposition, maintained that God is conceivable but not comprehensible or, in modern phrase, is apprehensible but not comprehensible. Although God is an inscrutable mystery, he is yet an object of thought. Says Conybeare (On Scripture Mysteries):
By mysterious doctrines, we mean those concerning which our ideas are inadequate or indeterminate. This supposes that of mysterious doctrines we have some ideas, though partial and incomplete. Indeed, when we can frame no ideas, we can strictly speaking give no assent. For what is assent, but a perception that the extremes, the subject and predicate of a proposition, do agree or disagree? But when we have no manner of ideas of these extremes, we can have no such perception. And as no combination of terms actually without significance can make a real proposition, so no combination of terms to us perfectly unintelligible can, with respect to us, be accounted a proposition. We maintain, therefore, that we have some ideas even of mysterious doctrines. There is a vast difference between unintelligible and incomprehensible. That is unintelligible concerning which we can frame no ideas; and that is only incomprehensible concerning which our ideas are imperfect.
On the other hand, if the resemblance between the infinite and finite spirit is so exaggerated as to obliterate the distinction between the two, then materialistic theories in philosophy and literalizing theories in theology arise. All the errors of gnosticism, pantheism, and anthropomorphism are the consequence. Gnosticism and pantheism attribute evolution and development to the divine essence and thus subject it to the conditions and limitations of finite growth and succession. Upon this theory, an immutable consciousness that is omniscient, simultaneous, and successionless, in other words, absolutely complete and perfect, cannot belong to the Supreme Being. God's consciousness, according to the pantheist, is mutable, fractional, and increasing like that of man and angel. But this is anthropomorphism; God's mental processes are converted into those of man. Anthropomorphism sometimes exaggerates the resemblance between God and man so far as even to attribute sensuous organs and emotions to God.
It is one of the few benefits in connection with the many evils that have been wrought by modern pantheism that it has brought into view the absoluteness of the deity, his transcendent perfection of being. It is true that what pantheism gives with one hand, it takes back again with the other. In identifying man and the universe with God, it obliterates the distinction between the finite and infinite and thus abolishes the transcendent perfection of the deity which it had so emphatically asserted. But setting aside this self-contradiction, which is characteristic of all error, and considering simply the energy with which a pantheist like Hegel, for example, insists upon the unconditioned nature of the absolute spirit, we perceive that even fatal error may have an element of truth in it.
Two predicates are of fundamental importance in determining the idea of God as a spirit: (1) substantiality: God is an essence or substance and (2) personality: God is a self-conscious being. Predicates are distinguishable from attributes as the base is from the superstructure. It is because God is a substance and a person that he can possess and exert attributes.
In the first place, the idea of God as a spirit implies that of substance or essence, because that which has no substance of any kind is a nonentity: "God is a certain substance; for whatever is not a substance is nothing at all. Therefore, to be something is to be a substance" (Augustine on Ps. 68). God is ens: real actual being. He is not a mere idea or construction of the mind, like a mathematical point or line. A mathematical point is not an entity; it has no substantial being; it exists only subjectively; it is merely a mental construction. The same is true of space and time. These are not two substances. They are not objective entities or beings. Neither are they, as Clarke affirmed in his a priori argument for divine existence, the properties of a substance or being, because properties are of the nature of the substance and have the same kind of objective reality with it. Space and time cannot be classed with either material or spiritual substance. And there are only these two kinds. A substance possesses properties. But space has only one property, namely, extension. This is not sufficient to constitute it a material substance; and it is sufficient to show that it is not spiritual substance, because this is unextended. Time, again, has no one of the properties of matter and thus is still further off from material substance than space is. And it certainly has none of the properties of mind. (supplement 3.1.2.)
Plato (Sophist 247–48) defines substance or objective being as "that which possesses any sort of power to affect another or to be affected by another" or "that which has the power of doing or suffering in relation to some other existing thing." Hence he says that "the definition of being or substance is simply power." Now, whether substance be defined as entity having properties or as entity having power, God is a substance. He has attributes which he manifests in his works of creation and providence; and he has power which he exerts in the universe of matter and mind. He makes an impression upon the human soul, as really as matter and its forces do upon the human body: "I remembered God and was troubled" (Ps. 77:3). Terror in the soul because of God is as vivid a form of consciousness as any physical sensation; and if the objective existence of matter is proved by external sensation, the objective existence of God is proved by internal consciousness. Man is not terrified by a nonentity. The Scriptures justify the application of the idea of substance to God by denominating him "I am" (Exod. 3:14) and "he who is" (Rev. 1:4) and by attributing to him "Godhead" (theotēs; Col. 2:9) and a "nature" (physis; Gal. 4:8; 2 Pet. 1:4). God, therefore, as the infinite and eternal spirit, is a real being and not a mere idea of the human intellect. John of Damascus affirms that "entity is attributed to God in Scripture in a higher sense (kyriōteron) than it is to any creature" (Nitzsch, Christian Doctrine §62). It is as proper to speak of the substance of God as of the substance of matter. (supplement 3.1.3.)
The two substances, matter and mind, are wholly diverse and have nothing in common except that each is the base of certain properties and the ground of certain phenomena. These properties and phenomena being different in kind prove that material substance and spiritual substance differ specifically and absolutely. Matter cannot think, and mind cannot be burned. Spiritual substance is known by its qualities and effects. In this respect it is like material substance, which is cognizable only by its properties and effects. Neither matter nor mind can be known apart from and back of its properties. That these are two substances and that each has its own peculiarity is a common belief of man which appears in the better pagan philosophy:
No origin of souls can be discovered in matter; for there is nothing mixed or compounded in souls; or anything that seems to be born or made from matter (ex terra). There is nothing of the nature of water or air or fire in them. For in such material elements, there is nothing that has the power of remembering, of perceiving, of thinking; nothing that retains the past, foresees the future, and comprehends the present. These characteristics of the soul are divine, and it is impossible to perceive how man could have obtained them, except from God. (Cicero, Tusculan Questions 1.27–28)
Cicero cites this doctrine as Aristotle's and mentions with it Aristotle's opinion that since mind as distinguished from matter has these divine qualities, it must be eternal (ob eamque rem, aeternum sit necesse est) (cf. More, On Immortality 1.3).
Spiritual substance in the instance of the infinite being is not connected with a body or a form in which it dwells. God as spirit is "without body, parts, or passions" (Westminster Confession 2.1). He does not occupy space. But spiritual substance in the instance of finite being is embodied. Both man and angel have form and are related to space. Yet it must be noticed that, even in the case of man, mind is independent of matter. The soul may exist consciously in separation from the body. It does so exist between death and the resurrection: "The spirit returns to God who gave it" (Eccles. 12:7). In dreams, there is consciousness without the use of the senses. In this case, the mind is the sole efficient. St. Paul's vision of the third heavens was independent of the body because he could not determine whether he was embodied or disembodied (2 Cor. 12:2–3). (supplement 3.1.4.)
The truth that God is a substance or essence is important, first, in contradiction to that form of pantheism which defines him as the "absolute idea." An idea is not a being. It is not an objective entity but a notion of the human mind. If God has no reality other than that of an idea, he is not real in the sense of a being or an essence that can affect other beings or essences. The theorist of this class would relieve the difficulty by saying that the absolute idea gets essentiality or reality by "positing" itself in the world or the finite. But this is to say that the finite or the world is the true essence of God and that apart from the world God is not an entity. Second, the truth that God is a substance is important in contradiction to the view that makes him to be the mere order of the universe or "a power that makes for righteousness." This, too, is not a substance. Third, the truth that God possesses essential being is important in reference to that hyperspirituality which transforms him into a mere influence or energy, a stream of tendency pervading the universe, having no constitutional being, and no foundation for natural and moral attributes. The primitive church was troubled with this false spiritualism in the gnostic speculations, which led Tertullian to contend that God possesses "body." This vehement North African father, laboring with the inadequate Punic Latin to convey his thought, was probably contending for the truth and intended no materialism; although Augustine (On the Soul 2.9) thought him to be obnoxious to this charge. Interpreted by what he says elsewhere, we think that Tertullian only meant to assert that God, though a spirit, is a substance or essence and employed the word corpus to designate this. For he expressly declares that God "has not diversity of parts; he is altogether uniform." But a substance which is uncompounded and without parts is not a material substance. It is not a body in the strict sense of the term, but an unextended and imponderable substance. Respecting the spirituality of God, Tertullian (Against Praxeas 16) affirms that "God holds the universe in his hand, like a nest. His throne is heaven, and his footstool is earth. In him is all space (locus), and he is not in space; and he is the extreme limit of the universe." In Concerning the Soul 7 Tertullian asserts a "corporeality of the soul," which is other than the bodily corporeality because it is found when the body is separated from the soul. The instances of Dives and Lazarus are cited. These were disembodied souls, and yet they were capable of suffering and enjoyment. Hence, says Tertullian, they could not be without corporality in the sense of substantiality: "An incorporeal thing cannot suffer, not having the means by which it could suffer; or, if it should have such a means, it would be a body. For insofar as every corporeal thing is susceptible to suffering, insofar is that which is capable of suffering also corporeal."24 Polanus (Syntagma 5.32) so understands Tertullian: "In Tertullian the word body generally signifies a substance truly subsisting, whether visible or invisible. Hence, he said that God also is a body. Nevertheless, it is preferable to avoid an improper use of words such as this." Lactantius (Concerning the Wrath of God 2) combats those who "deny that God has any figure and suppose that he is not moved by any feeling." By "figure" Lactantius means the definiteness of personality. (supplement 3.1.5.)
The pseudospirituality of the gnostics led to these statements of Tertullian and Lactantius. Respecting them, Bentley (Free Thinking, 10) makes the following remark:
With a few of the fathers, the matter stands thus: They believed the attributes of God, his infinite power, wisdom, justice, and goodness, in the same extent that we do; but his essence, no more than we can now, they could not discover. The Scriptures, they saw, called him spiritus (spirit), and the human soul anima (breath); both of which, in their primitive sense, mean aerial matter; and all the words that the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin, of old, or any tongue now or hereafter can supply, to denote the substance of God or soul, must either be thus metaphysical or else merely negative, as "incorporeal" or "immaterial." What wonder, then, if, in those early times, some fathers believed that divine substance was matter or body; especially while the notion of "body" was undefined and unfixed and was as extensive as "thing." Was this such a shame in a few fathers; while the Stoics maintained qualities and passions, virtues and vices, arts and sciences, nay syllogisms and solecisms, to be "bodies"?
Voltaire (Morals of Nations) founds upon these statements of Tertullian and Lactantius the assertion that "the greater part of the fathers of the church, Platonists as they were, considered the soul to be corporeal." Hallam (Literature of Europe 3.94) has the same misconception and asserts that "the fathers, with the exception, perhaps the single one, of Augustine, taught the corporeity of the thinking substance."
Westminster Confession 2.1 defines God to be "a most pure spirit, invisible, without body, parts, or passions." These qualifying clauses define, so far as is possible, the idea of spiritual substance. The invisibility of spirit, as previously remarked, would not of itself differentiate it from matter and material nature. The force of gravity, the chemical forces, electricity, magnetism, and the like are as invisible as God himself or the soul of man. Heat, according to the recent theory, is the invisible motion of invisible molecules. There is an invisible ground of the visible and tangible. Back of the world of ponderable physics, which we apprehend by the five senses, is an unseen world which is natural still, not moral; physical still, not spiritual. Whoever saw, or ever will see, that principle of life of which outward and material nature is but the embodiment or manifestation? When we have stripped the visible world of its visibility and ponderability and have resolved it unto unseen forces and laws, we have not reached any higher sphere than that of nature and matter. He who worships the life of nature or adores the force of gravity; nay, he who has no higher emotions than those of the pantheistic religionist, which are called forth by the beauty and splendor of visible nature or the cloudy and mystic awfulness of invisible nature is as really an idolater as is the most debased pagan who bows down before a visible and material idol. But when this definition of God was made, the invisible side of the material world was not the subject of natural science so much as it has been since. The "material" meant the visible and ponderable. Consequently, the term invisible referred more particularly to the immaterial and spiritual.
In Scripture this characteristic of invisibility is sometimes attributed to God in a relative sense. It denotes that God, even when he has assumed a form, as in a theophany, may be an object too dazzling and resplendent for the creature's eye to look upon. Jehovah says to Moses, "You cannot see my face; for there shall no man see me and live; you shall see my back parts" (Exod. 33:20). The incarnate Son is denominated "the brightness (apaugasma, the reflected splendor) of God's glory" (Heb. 1:3) upon which man can look; but in the instance of the transfiguration, the vision was too resplendent for mortal man to behold. In this sense, God is invisible as the incandescent orb of the sun is invisible to the naked eye. It is impossible to fix the gaze upon it without being blinded by excess of light.
In saying that God, as a pure spirit, is "without body, parts or passions," a definite conception is conveyed by which spirit and matter are sharply distinguished. Matter may have bodily form, be divisible, and capable of passions, that is, of being wrought upon by other pieces of ponderable matter. None of these characteristics can belong to God or to any spirit whatever: "Take, therefore, good heed unto yourselves (for you saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spoke unto you in Horeb, out of the center of the fire) lest you corrupt yourselves and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female" (Deut. 4:15–16). Idolatry conceives of the deity as a form, and the Hebrews were warned against the error.
It is difficult for man, in his present condition, to think of substance and yet not think of figure or parts. Augustine (Confessions 7.1) describes his own perplexity when renouncing Manicheism in the following manner:
Though not under the form of the human body, yet was I constrained to conceive of you as being in space, either infused into the world or diffused infinitely outside of it. Because, whatsoever I conceived of as deprived of this space seemed to me nothing, yea, altogether nothing, not even a void; as if a body were taken out of its place and the place should remain empty of any body at all, yet would it remain a void place, as it were a spacious nothing.
In Confessions 5.14 he says, "Could I once have conceived of a spiritual substance, all the strongholds of the Manicheans would have been beaten down and cast utterly out of mind. But I could not."
But that it is possible to think of unextended substance is proved by the fact that we think of the human soul as without figure and parts, and yet as a real entity. In truth, it is easier to think of the reality and continued existence of the soul after death, than of the body. The body as to its visible substance is dissolved into dust and blown to the four winds and taken up into other forms of matter. But the soul being indissoluble and indivisible has a subsistence of its own apart from and independent of the body. It is easier to realize and believe in the present actual existence of the spiritual part of Alexander the Great than of the material part of him. That the soul of Alexander the Great is this instant existing and existing consciously is not so difficult to believe, as it is to believe that his body is still existing. It is easier to answer the question "where is the soul of a man who died a thousand years ago?" than to answer the question "where is the body of a man who died a thousand years ago?": "The dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God who gave it" (Eccles. 12:7).
Nothing is more natural and common than to speak of our intellectual "nature" or "being," meaning thereby our immortal substance. In this case, "substance" denotes that entity which stands under agencies and phenomena as their supporting and efficient ground. We cannot conceive of the soul as only a series of exercises. There must be an agent in order to agency; a substantial being in order to exercises. To ask us to think away the substance of the soul and then to conceive of its exercises is like asking us to think away the earth around a hole and then to conceive of the hole. The thoughts of the mind are distinguishable from the mind. "This perceiving, active being," says Berkeley (Principles of Knowledge, beginning), "is what I call mind, spirit, soul, or myself. By which words I do not denote anyone of my ideas, but a thing entirely distinct from them."
Hume (Understanding 4.6) denied the reality of spiritual substance, contending that there is nothing but a series of sensuous "impressions" and remembered "ideas" of them. Mill copies Hume in rejecting the notion of a substance as the foundation of consciousness and the agencies of the human soul and defining the soul to be "a permanent possibility of thought and feeling; a thread of consciousness" (Examination of Hamilton, 254–55). American theologian Emmons was understood to hold that the soul is a series of exercises. Dwight seems to have had him in view in his attack upon this theory (Smith, Faith and Philosophy, 241). Mill's definition of mind would not be accepted by the materialist, if applied to matter. The physicist would not grant that gunpowder is only "the permanent possibility of explosion." The term possibility does not denote entity; but the chemist affirms that gunpowder is entity (cf. Locke, On Substance).
That the idea of unextended spiritual substance is a rational idea is proved by the fact that the human intellect naturally adopts it. Plato and Aristotle argued in defense of it in opposition to the atheistic schools of their time, who contended that there is nothing objectively existent but matter or extended substance. The later Platonists also, like Plotinus and Simplicius, affirmed the validity of the idea. Plotinus maintained that "one and the selfsame numerical thing may be, all of it, entirely everywhere"; that "the deity is not part of it here and part of it there"; that "God being not in space is yet present to everything that is in space"; that "God is all of him indivisibly present to whatsoever he is present." Pythagoras and Plutarch took the same ground.
These philosophers endeavored to prove that there is another species of substance than that which has figure in space and is divisible into parts. This is spiritual substance, the eternal essence of God, and the immortal essence of angel and man. Says Cudworth (Intellectual System 5.3):
There are two kinds of substances in nature: the first, extension or magnitude, really existing without the mind, which is a thing that has no self-unity at all in it, but is infinite alterity and divisibility, as it were mere outside and outwardness, it having nothing within nor any other action belonging to it, but only locally to move when it is moved. The second, life and mind, or the self-active cogitative nature, an inside being, whose action is not local motion, but an internal energy, within the substance or essence of the thinker himself or in the inside of him.
Material substance is moved ab extra; spiritual substance is moved ab intra, that is, is self-moved. This is perhaps the most important point in the distinction between mind and matter. Mind moves voluntarily; matter is moved mechanically. That mind is a substance, though unextended and incorporeal, was strongly maintained by Plato and Aristotle:
The Peripatetics, though they expressly held the soul to be asōmatos or incorporeal, yet still spoke of a nous hylikos, a material mind or intellect. This, to modern ears, may possibly sound somewhat harshly. Yet if we translate the words by "natural capacity" and consider them as only denoting that original and native power of intellection which being prior to all human knowledge is yet necessary to its reception, there seems nothing then to remain that can give offense. (Harris, Hermes 3.1)
Spinoza has done more than any other modern philosopher to annihilate the distinction between incorporeal and corporeal substance or between mind and matter, by attributing to his one infinite substance two heterogeneous and incompatible modes or properties: thought and extension. Spinozism (Ethics 2.2) teaches (1) there is only one substance and this substance is God; (2) this substance thinks: "Thinking is an attribute of God, or God is a thinking thing"; and (3) this substance is extended: "Extension is an attribute of God, or God is an extended thing."34 But these two modes of Spinoza's one substance exclude each other. If one and the same substance is extended in space and is also a thinking substance, it follows that matter thinks. To say that matter thinks is materialism, in the same way that to say that matter is God is atheism. This theory is revived in the recent attempt to explain thought by the molecular motion in the brain.
Plato (Sophist 246) describes the conflict going on in his day respecting the definition of substance (ousia):
Some of them are dragging down all things from heaven and from the unseen to earth and seem determined to grasp in their hands rocks and oaks; of these they lay hold and are obstinate in maintaining that only the things which can be touched and handled have being or essence, because they define being and body as one, and if anyone says that what is not a body exists, they altogether despise him and will hear of nothing but body. And that is the reason why their opponents cautiously defend themselves from above, out of an unseen world, mightily contending that true essence consists of certain intelligible and incorporeal ideas; the bodies of the materialists which are maintained by them to be the very truth, they break up into little bits by their arguments and affirm them to be generation and not essence. O Theatetus, there is an endless war which is always raging between these two armies on this ground.
The quantity of unextended and invisible substance is greater than of extended and visible substance: (1) God is unextended substance, and his immensity is vaster than that of the whole finite universe; and (2) the unextended and invisible part of the finite universe is larger in amount than the ponderable, extended, and visible part of it, namely, (a) the spirits of men and angels, (b) invisible atoms or molecules, (c) the invisible forces of nature. These constitute a sum total of existence that is greater and more important than the whole visibility that clothes them. The unseen universe is vaster than the seen. A man's soul is greater than his body. The invisible force of gravity is greater than all its visible effects. The invisible force of cohesion is the cause of all the visibility and ponderability of matter. Without it, there would be no extended and ponderable substance, for the atoms or molecules apart from its attraction would be infinitely separated and scattered.
In defining God to be "a most pure spirit without passions," it must be remembered that the term passion is used etymologically. It is derived from patior (to suffer). Passion implies passivity. It is the effect of an impression from without. The effervescence of an alkali under an acid illustrates the meaning of the term. One substance in nature works upon another by virtue of a correlation and correspondence that is fixed. The one in reference to the other is passive and helpless. Ascending higher, passion in sentient existence, as in man or brute, arises from the impression upon a physical nature of the physical object that is correlated to it. Passion in man or brute is the working of mere appetite. In this sense, St. Paul speaks of the motions or passions (pathēmata) of sins which are in the members (Rom. 7:5; Gal. 5:24). Locke (Essay 2.21.4) distinguishes between "active and passive power": "From body, we have no idea of the beginning of motion. A body at rest affords us no idea of active power to move; and when it is set in motion itself, that motion is rather a passion than an action: for when the ball obeys the stroke of the billiard stick, it is not any action of the ball, but bare passion. "Passion" in the Westminster definition is the same as Locke's "passive power."
God has no passions. He stands in no passive and organic relations to that which is not himself. He cannot be wrought upon and impressed by the universe of matter and mind which he has created from nothing. Creatures are passively correlated to each other and are made to be affected by other creatures; but the Creator is self-subsistent and independent of creation, so that he is not passively correlated to anything external to himself. God, says Aquinas, has absolute, not merely relative existence, like a creature: "The essence of relation is to be situated with respect to another. If therefore relation is the divine essence itself, it follows that the essence of divine essence is to be situated with respect to another. But this is incompatible with the perfection of the divine essence, which is completely absolute and subsists through itself" (Summa 1.18). Men and angels are put into a certain relation to the world which they inhabit, and there is action and reaction between them and the external universe. This does not apply to God. He is not operated upon and moved from the outside, but all his activity is self-determined. All the movement in divine essence is internal and ab intra. Even when God is complacent toward a creature's holiness and displacent toward a creature's sin, this is not the same as a passive impression upon a sensuous organism, from an outward sensible object, eliciting temporarily a sensation that previously was unfelt. Sin and holiness are not substances; and God's love and wrath are self-moved and unceasing energies of divine nature. He is voluntarily and eternally complacent toward good and displacent toward evil.
The forces of nature do not make an impression upon divine essence. There is no organic action and reaction between the created universe of mind and matter and the eternal being of God. "In God," says Newton (Scholium at the end of the Principia), "all things are contained and move, but without mutual passion. God is not acted upon by the motions of bodies; and they suffer no resistance from the omnipresence of God." Passions are liable to be excessive. Not being self-determined, but determined ab extra, their intensity depends upon what is outward. God has no passionate or exorbitant emotions. The doctrine that God has passions would imply that there is an organic unity between him and the universe, with action and reaction. But two such different beings as God and material nature, or God and man, cannot constitute one organic system of existence. In an organism, one part is as old as another and as necessary as another. Organs are contemporaneous, having the same common nature and origin and developing simultaneously. This cannot be true of the infinite and finite spirit and still less of the infinite spirit and matter (see Presbyterian Review, Oct. 1880:769–70). (supplement 3.1.6.)
It is important to remember this signification of the term passion and the intention in employing it. Sometimes it has been understood to be synonymous with feeling or emotion, and the erroneous and demoralizing inference has been drawn that divine nature is destitute of feeling altogether. "God," says Spinoza (Ethics 5.17–19), "is free from all passions; he is not affected with joy and sadness or with love and hatred. No one can hate God; and he who loves God cannot endeavor to cause God to love him, because God can neither love nor hate." Spinoza assumes that love and hatred involve alternations of happiness and misery in the being who has such emotions. Consequently, God cannot have either love or hatred. Similarly, Hartmann (Christianity in Crisis, 41) remarks that "the love of God is an anthropopathic conception of entirely the same order with the personalness of God. It stands and falls with this and is just as unnecessary to the religious consciousness from a pantheistic standpoint as these." Such a statement reduces the Supreme Being to mere intelligence and to the lowest form of intelligence; that, namely, which is disconnected with moral characteristics. It denudes God of those emotional qualities that necessarily enter into personality and are requisite in order to love, worship, and obedience upon the part of the creature. But the error could not logically stop here. The intelligence of the deity could not long survive his moral feeling. If he is conceived to have the power of perceiving sin, for example, but no power of feeling displeasure toward it, such a weak and inefficient perception would be unworthy of notice and would soon be theoretically as well as practically denied. A theory that begins with affirming absolute indifference in God and denying that he either loves the good or hates the evil must end ultimately in rejecting all moral attributes and reducing him to blind force. It could not even concede happiness to the deity, because this is a species of feeling. Says Howe (Redeemer's Tears):
When expressions that import anger or grief are used concerning God himself, we must sever in our conception everything of imperfection and ascribe everything of real perfection. We are not to think that such expressions signify nothing, that they have no meaning, or that nothing at all is to be attributed to him under them. Nor are we, again, to think that they signify the same thing with what we find in ourselves and are wont to express by these names. In divine nature, there may be real and yet most serene complacency and displacency, namely, such as are unaccompanied with the least commotion and import nothing of imperfection, but perfection rather, as it is a perfection to apprehend things suitably to what in themselves they are.
The Scriptures attribute feeling to God and nearly all forms of feeling common to man. That all of these are not intended to be understood as belonging to divine nature is plain, because some of them are as incompatible with the idea of an infinite and perfect being as are the material instruments of hands and feet attributed to him in Scripture. Such an emotion as fear, for example, which God is represented as experiencing (Gen. 3:22–23; Exod. 13:17; Deut. 32:27), must be regarded as metaphorical. The same is true of jealousy (Deut. 32:21) and of grieving and repenting (Gen. 6:6–7; Ps. 95:10; Jer. 15:6).
The criterion for determining which form of feeling is literally and which is metaphorically attributable to God is divine blessedness. God cannot be the subject of any emotion that is intrinsically and necessarily an unhappy one. If he literally feared his foes or were literally jealous of a rival, he would so far forth be miserable. Literal fear and literal jealousy cannot therefore be attributed to him. Tried by this test, it will be found that there are only two fundamental forms of feeling that are literally attributable to divine essence: love (agapē) and wrath (orgē). Hatred is a phase of displeasure or wrath. These two emotions are real and essential in God; the one wakened by righteousness and the other by sin. The existence of the one necessitates that of the other; so that if there be no love of righteousness, there is no anger at sin, and, conversely, if there be no anger at sin, there is no love of righteousness. "He who loves the good," says Lactantius (Concerning Wrath 5), "by this very fact hates the evil; and he who does not hate the evil does not love the good; because the love of goodness issues directly out of the hatred of evil, and the hatred of evil issues directly out of the love of goodness. No one can love life without abhorring death; and no one can have an appetency for light without an antipathy to darkness." The necessary coexistence of these opposite feelings toward moral contraries like righteousness and sin is continually taught in Scripture: "All they that hate me love death" (Prov. 8:36); "you that love the Lord, hate evil" (Ps. 97:10).
Complacency toward righteousness and displacency toward sin are not contraries, but opposites or antitheses. They are the action of one and the same moral attribute, namely, holiness, toward the two contraries right and wrong. Consequently, they are homogeneous feelings. Divine wrath is divine holiness in one phase or mode of it; and divine love is the same divine holiness in another phase or mode of it. One involves and supposes the other. But in the instance of contrary feelings, such, for example, as pleasure and pain or contrary qualities like righteousness and sin, there is heterogeneity. Pain and pleasure are not two modes or phases of the same thing; and neither are righteousness and sin. These are not opposite antitheses which involve and imply each other. Each exists alone without the other. The one excludes the other instead of supposing the other. The relation of opposites or antitheses is that of polarity. Moral love and moral wrath are like the two poles, north and south, of the same magnet or the two manifestations, positive and negative, of the same electricity. Boreal magnetism is as really magnetism as austral; and positive electricity is as really electricity as negative. So, also, moral wrath is as truly holiness as moral love. "He who leaves you," says Augustine, "whither goes or flees he, but from you pleased, to you displeased." Accordingly, the two feelings of love of holiness and hatred of evil coexist in the character of God, the most perfect of beings, and in that of angels and redeemed men. Human character is worthless, in proportion as abhorrence of sin is lacking in it. It is related of Charles II that "he felt no gratitude for benefits and no resentment for wrongs. He did not love anyone and hated no one." He was indifferent toward right and wrong, and "the only feeling he had was contempt" (Green, History of the English People, 9).
These emotions of love and wrath are compatible with divine blessedness. To love righteousness is confessedly blessedness itself. To be displeased with and hate wickedness, at first sight, would seem to introduce commotion and unhappiness into the divine mind. But this is because it is confounded with the passion of anger and hatred in the depraved human heart. This is an unlawful feeling; a man has no right to hate his fellow or to be angry with him with this species of wrath. He is forbidden by the moral law to exercise such an emotion. It is the illegitimateness of the feeling that makes it a wretched one. But any emotion that is permitted and still more that is commanded by the moral law cannot cause mental distress. To suppose this is to suppose that morality and misery are inseparably connected and that to feel rightly and righteously is to be miserable.
There is a kind of wrath in the human soul that resembles the wrath of God and constitutes its true analog. It is the wrath of the human conscience, which is wholly different from that of the human heart. This kind of anger is commanded in the injunction "be angry and sin not" (Eph. 4:26). Were this species of moral displacency more often considered, and divine anger illustrated by it, there would be less of the common and unthinking opposition to the doctrine of divine wrath.
That this species of moral displeasure is compatible with blessedness is plain from an examination of the nature of happiness. Aristotle (Ethics 10.4) defines happiness or pleasurable emotion to be "the coincidence and harmony between a feeling and its correlative object." Bishop Butler gives the same definition, substantially, in his remark that "pleasure arises from a faculty's having its proper object." When the feeling of hunger, for illustration, is met by food, two things are brought into contact that are intended for each other, and the consequence is a pleasurable sensation. If the feeling of hunger were met by an innutritious fluid like water, there would be no coincidence and agreement between them, and the result would be dissatisfaction and some degree of pain.
Now when the emotion of anger in a most pure spirit like God comes into contact with moral evil, there is harmony between the feeling and its object. It is a righteous feeling spent upon a wicked thing. When God hates what is hateful and is angry at that which merits wrath, the true nature and fitness of things is observed, and he feels in himself that inward satisfaction which is the substance of happiness. Anger and hatred are associated in our minds with unhappiness, because we behold their exercise only in a sinful sphere and in an illegitimate manner. In an apostate world, the proper and fitting coincidence between emotions and their objects has been disturbed and destroyed by sin. A sinner hates the holiness which he ought to love and loves the sin which he ought to hate. The anger in his heart is selfish and passionate, not legitimate and calm. The love in his heart is illicit; and hence in Scripture it is denominated "lust" or "concupiscence" (epithymia). In a sinful world, the true relations and correlations are reversed. Love and hatred are expended upon exactly the wrong objects. But when these feelings are contemplated within the sphere of the holy and the eternal; when they are beheld in God, a most pure spirit, without body, parts, or passions, and exercised only upon their appropriate and deserving objects; when the wrath falls only upon the sin and uncleanness of hell and burns up nothing but filth in its pure celestial flame; then the emotion is not merely right and legitimate, but it is beautiful with an august beauty and no source of pain either to the divine mind or to any minds in sympathy with it.
It is here and thus that we can explain the blessedness of God in connection with his omniscience and omnipresence. We know that sin and the punishment of sin are ever before him. The feeling of wrath against the wickedness of man and devils is constantly in the divine essence. Yet God is supremely and constantly blessed. He can be so only because there is a just and proper harmony between the wrath and the object upon which it falls; only because he hates that which is hateful and condemns what is damnable. Hence he is called "God over all, blessed forever." Divine blessedness is not destroyed by the sin of his creatures or by his own holy displeasure against it. And here, also, is seen the compatibility of some everlasting sin and misery with divine perfection. If the feeling of wrath against moral evil is right and rational, there is no impropriety in its exercise by the Supreme Being, and its exercise by him is the substance of hell. If the feeling is proper for a single instant, it is so forever.
While therefore God as a most pure spirit has no passions, he has feelings and emotions. He is not passively wrought upon by the objective universe, so that he experiences physical impressions and organic appetites, as the creature does, but he is self-moved in all his feelings. God's moral love and wrath relate to the character and actions of free moral agents. He does not either love or hate inorganic matter. He has no physical appetite or antipathy. The emotions of love and wrath go forth not toward the substance of free agents, but toward the agency only. God does not hate the soul of a sinner, but only his sin; and he does not love with holy complacence the substance of the human mind, but its activity.
Personality is the second fundamental predicate of spirit. God is a personal being. Personality is marked by two characteristics: (a) self-consciousness and (b) self-determination.
Self-consciousness is, first, the power which a rational spirit has of making itself its own object and, second, of knowing that it has done so. All consciousness implies a duality of subject and object: a subject to know and an object to be known. If there be a subject but no object, consciousness is impossible. And if there be an object but no subject, there can be no consciousness. Mere singleness is fatal to consciousness. I cannot be conscious of a thing unless there is a thing to be conscious of. Take away all objects of thought, and I cannot think.
Consciousness is very different from self-consciousness, and the two must be carefully discriminated. In consciousness, the object is another substance than the subject; but in self-consciousness the object is the same substance as the subject. When I am conscious of a tree, the object is a different entity from my mind; but when I am conscious of myself, the object is the same entity with my mind. In consciousness, the duality required is in two things. In self-consciousness, the duality required is in one thing. (supplement 3.1.7.)
An animal has consciousness in the sense of sentiency, but not self-consciousness. It is impressed by external objects that are no part of its own substance, but it is never impressed by itself. It never duplicates its own unity and contemplates itself. It is aware of heat and cold, of pleasure and pain, but it is never aware of the subject which experiences these sensations. It cannot refer any of its experiences back to itself as the person that experiences them. An animal is not a person and cannot have the consciousness of a person; that is to say, it cannot have self-consciousness. Says Christlieb (Modern Doubt, 153):
Why is it that the gorilla with a throat similar to that of man can only howl or whine, and that man with a throat like the ape's can speak and sing? The answer is that the beast cannot form an objective notion of his sensations and feelings and therefore cannot reproduce them in language; it cannot distinguish between a personal ego and the momentary sensation. It is the power to do this and not his organs of voice (for even the deaf and mute make a language for themselves) which gives man the faculty of speech.
Man has both consciousness and self-consciousness. He has that inferior species, in which he only feels, but does not place his feeling in relation to himself as the ego. In the first place, he has the sensuous consciousness of the animal and the blind agencies of physical appetite. This is mere sentiency, differing from that of the animal only in the fact that it is capable of being scrutinized and converted into self-consciousness. In the second place, there are the spontaneous workings of thought and feeling continually going on, which constitute a consciousness but not necessarily a self-consciousness. The man thinks, but does not think of what he thinks. He feels, but does not scrutinize his feeling. His feeling is said to be "unconscious" in the sense of unreflecting or not self-conscious. It is one of the effects of conviction by the Holy Spirit to convert consciousness into self-consciousness. Conviction of sin is the consciousness of self as the guilty author of sin. It is forcing the man to say, "I know that I have thus felt and thus thought and thus acted." The truth and Spirit of God bring sinners to self-knowledge and self-consciousness from out of a state of mere consciousness.
Self-consciousness is higher than consciousness. It is the highest and most perfect form of consciousness. It is the species that characterizes the Supreme Being. God does not like man have consciousness separate from self-consciousness. In the first place, he has no sentiency. He is not impressed and wrought upon by an external object, as creatures are, by virtue of a correlation between himself and it. He is without body, parts, or passions. In the second place, there are no blind and unreflecting mental processes in God. He never comes to self-consciousness out of mere consciousness as man does; but he is perpetually self-contemplating, self-knowing, and self-communing. God is cognizant of the universe of matter which he created ex nihilo and which consequently is no part of his own essence. But this cognition comes not through the medium of the senses and is not an imperfect kind of knowledge like the sentiency of an animal or the passive consciousness of the unreflecting man. Divine consciousness of the universe, as an object, is always related to and accompanied with divine self-consciousness, which is immutable and eternal. In God, consciousness and self-consciousness are inseparable, but not in man. Man may be conscious, yet not self-conscious. God cannot be. Man passes from consciousness to self-consciousness and back again. God does not. Consequently, God's self-consciousness is more perfect and of a higher grade than that of man or angel.
Self-consciousness is more mysterious and inexplicable than mere consciousness. It has been the problem of the philosophic mind in all ages. The pantheist asserts that the doctrine of the dualism of mind and matter renders cognition impossible, but that the doctrine of monism explains cognition. He maintains that if it can be shown that all consciousness is in reality self-consciousness, because all substance is one substance, then the problem of cognition is made clear. But in fact it is made darker. For mere sameness of substance does not account for cognition. One stone is identical in substance with another, but this does not go to prove that one stone knows or can know another stone. There is no reason, consequently, for asserting that mind cannot know matter unless mind and matter are the same substance. In order to be conscious of a material object, it is not necessary to be a material subject. The only case in which it is necessary for the subject and object to be identical in substance is that of self-consciousness. In this instance, the object known must be one in substance with the subject knowing. The identity of subject and object is true only in reference to the knowledge which the individual person has of himself. The instant he passes to the knowledge of any other object than his own soul he has another form of consciousness than self-consciousness. When I cognize a tree, I am conscious, but not self-conscious. When I know God, I am conscious, not self-conscious. The substance or object known in each of these instances is not my substance, but that of another being, and my consciousness is not self-consciousness. I can indeed pass from consciousness to self-consciousness, by referring the consciousness of the tree to the self as the subject of it. But this is a second act additional to the first act of mere consciousness. (supplement 3.1.8.)
The truth is that it is more difficult to explain self-consciousness than consciousness; to conceive how the subject can know itself than how it can know something that is not itself. The act of simple consciousness, which is common to both man and brute, is comparatively plain and explicable. When we look at an object other than ourselves, when we behold a tree or the sky, for example, the act of cognition is easier to comprehend than is the act of self-knowledge. For there is something outside of us, in front of us, and another thing than we are, at which we look and which we behold. But in this act of self-inspection, there is no second thing, external and extant to us, which we contemplate. That which is seen is one and the same thing with that which sees. The act of cognition, which in all other instances requires the existence of two totally different entities—an entity that is known and an entity that knows—in this instance, is performed with only one entity. It is the individual soul that perceives, and it is this identical individual soul that is perceived. It is the individual man that knows, and it is this very same man that is known. The eyeball looks at the eyeball. This latter act of cognition is much more mysterious than the former, so that nothing is gained by contending that all consciousness is really self-consciousness (cf. Augustine, On the Trinity 14.6).
We have said that all consciousness implies a duality of subject and object. Self-consciousness, consequently, requires these. And the peculiarity and mystery is that it obtains them both in one being or substance. The human spirit in the act of self-cognition furnishes both the subject that perceives and the object that is perceived. The soul duplicates its own unity, as it were, and sets itself to look at itself. It is this power which the rational spirit possesses of making itself its own object, that constitutes it a personal being. Take away from man this capacity of setting himself off over against himself and of steadily eyeing himself, and whatever other capacities he might be endowed with, he would not be a person. Even if he should think and feel and act, he could not say, "I know that I think; I know that I feel; I know that I am acting."
God as personal is self-conscious. Consequently, he must make himself his own object of contemplation. Here the doctrine of the Trinity, the deep and dark mystery of Christianity, pours a flood of light upon the mystery of divine self-consciousness. The pillar of cloud becomes the pillar of fire. The three distinctions in the one essence personalize it. God is personal because he is three persons: Father, Son, and Spirit.
Self-consciousness is (1) the power which a rational spirit or mind has of making itself its own object and (2) of knowing that it has done so. If the first step is taken and not the second, there is consciousness but not self-consciousness, because the subject would not, in this case, know that the object is the self. And the second step cannot be taken if the first has not been. These two acts of a rational spirit or mind involve three distinctions in it or modes of it. The whole mind as a subject contemplates the very same whole mind as an object. Here are two distinctions or modes of one mind. And the very same whole mind also perceives that the contemplating subject and the contemplated object are one and the same essence or being. Here are three modes of one mind, each distinct from the others, yet all three going to make up the one self-conscious spirit. Unless there were these two acts and the three resulting distinctions, there would be no self-knowledge. Mere singleness, a mere subject without an object, is incompatible with self-consciousness. And mere duality would yield only consciousness, not self-consciousness. Consciousness is dual; self-consciousness is trinal.
Revelation represents God as "blessed forever." This blessedness is independent of the universe which once did not exist and which he created from nothing. God, therefore, must find all the conditions of blessedness within himself alone. He is "blessed forever" in his own self-contemplation and self-communion. He does not need the universe in order that he may have an object which he can know, which he can love, and over which he can rejoice: "The Father knows the Son" from all eternity (Matt. 11:27), "loves the Son" from all eternity (John 3:35), and "glorifies the Son" from all eternity (17:5). Prior to creation, the eternal Wisdom "was by him as one brought up with him and was daily his delight, rejoicing always before him" (Prov. 8:30); the eternal Word "was in the beginning with God" (John 1:2); and "the only begotten Son" (or God only begotten, as the uncials read) was eternally "in the bosom of the Father" (1:18). Here is society within the essence and wholly independent of the created universe, and self-knowledge, self-communion, and blessedness resulting therefrom. But this is impossible to an essence destitute of these internal personal distinctions. Not the singular unit of the deist, but the plural unity of the trinitarian explains this. A subject without an object could not know (what is there to be known?), could not love (what is there to be loved?), and could not rejoice (what is there to rejoice over?). And the object cannot be the created universe. The infinite and eternal object of God's infinite and eternal knowledge, love, and joy cannot be his creation because this is neither eternal nor infinite. There was a time when the universe was not; and if God's self-consciousness and blessedness depend upon the universe, there was a time when he was neither self-conscious nor blessed. The objective God for the subjective God, therefore, must be very God of very God, begotten not made, the eternal Son of the eternal Father.
At this point, the radical difference between the Christian Trinity and that of the later pantheism appears. The later pantheism (not the earlier of Spinoza) constructs a kind of Trinity, but it is dependent upon the universe. God distinguishes himself from the world and thereby finds the object required for the subject. This is the view of Hegel: "As God is eternal personality, so he eternally produces his other self, namely, nature, in order to self-consciousness" (Michelet, History of Philosophy 2.647). This conditions the infinite by the finite. God makes use of the world in order to personality. To know himself as ego, he must know the universe as the non-ego. Without the world, therefore, he could not be self-conscious. There would be nothing from which to distinguish himself, and without such an act of distinction and contrast he would be impersonal. God is thus dependent upon the world for his personality. But by his idea, he cannot be dependent upon anything that is not himself. Consequently, God and the world must ultimately be one and the same substance. God's personality is God's becoming conscious of himself in man and in nature. These latter are a phase or mode of the infinite. The universe, consequently, must be coeval with God, because he cannot have any self-consciousness without it. Says Hartmann (Christianity in Crisis, 42), "A contrast in God of self-consciousness and world consciousness, of I and not I, of subject and object, is not conceivable. Rather, its self-consciousness is one with its intuitive world consciousness. The absolute can have no other self-consciousness than its intuitive world consciousness" (see Kurtz, Sacred History, 23).
But this is not the way in which the self-consciousness of the Godhead is mediated and brought about according to divine revelation. In the Christian scheme of the Trinity, the media to self-consciousness are all within the divine essence and are wholly separate from and independent of the finite universe of mind and matter. Divine nature has all the requisites to personality in its own trinal constitution. God makes use of his own eternal and primary essence and not of the secondary substance of the world as the object from which to distinguish himself and thereby be self-knowing and self-communing. God distinguishes himself from himself, not from something that is not himself. This latter would yield consciousness merely, not self-consciousness. God the Father distinguishes himself from God the Son and in this way knows himself: "No man knows the Son but the Father; neither knows any man the Father save the Son" (Matt. 11:27). Divine self-contemplation is the beholding and loving of one divine person by another divine person, and not God's beholding of the universe and loving and communing with it: "The Father loves the Son and shows him all things that himself does" (John 5:20); "the first love of God the Father to the Son is that which we call ad intra, where the divine persons are objects of each other's actings. The Father knows the Son, and the Son knows the Father; the Father loves the Son, and the Son loves the Father; and so consequently of the Holy Spirit, the medium of all these actings" (Owen, Sacramental Discourse, 22).
The self-consciousness of God has an analog in the self-consciousness of man, in that the latter also is brought about without the aid of any other substance or object than the mind itself. In the instance of the finite spirit of man, we have seen that in the act of self-consciousness no use is made of the external world or of the non-ego. The human spirit in this act of self-contemplation duplicates its own unity and finds an object for itself as a subject in its own substance and not, as in the act of mere consciousness, in the substance of the external world. If this is possible and necessary in reference to man and finite personality, it is still more so in reference to God and infinite personality. The Supreme Being cannot be dependent upon another essence than his own for the conditions of self-consciousness. He is self-sufficient in this central respect, as in all others, and finds in his own nature all that is requisite to self-knowledge, as well as to self-communion and blessedness. Were it not so, God would be dependent upon his creation, and the blasphemous language which Byron puts into the mouth of Lucifer would be true:
He is great,
But, in his greatness, is no happier than
We in our conflict.…
… Let him
Sit on his vast and solitary throne,
Creating worlds, to make eternity
Less burthensome to his immense existence
And unparticipated solitude.
Let him crowd orb on orb: he is alone.…
Could he but crush himself, 'twere the best boon
He ever granted; but let him reign on,
And multiply himself in misery!
… He, so wretched in his height,
So restless in his wretchedness, must still
Create, and recreate.
The biblical doctrine of three distinctions in one essence, each of which possesses the whole undivided essence, shows how God's self-consciousness is independent of the universe. God makes himself his own object. The first act, in the natural order, is the distinguishing of himself from himself. This yields the first and second distinctions or persons. The eternal Father beholds himself in the eternal Son, his alter ego or other self. The subject contemplating is different and distinct as to form (morphē; Phil. 2:6; see p. 103 n. 38) but not as to essence (ousia) from the object contemplated. God the Father is not the same person (morphē tou theou) as God the Son, though he is the same substance or being (ousia tou theou). But this is not the whole of the trinitarian process. There must be a second act, namely, the perception that the subject-ego and object-ego, arrived at in the first act, are one and the same essence, that the Father and the Son are not two beings but one. This second act of perception supposes a percipient; and the percipient is a third distinction or mode of divine essence, the Holy Spirit, who is different as to form (morphē) from the first and second because he recognizes both their distinctness of person and their unity and identity of nature. The circle of divine self-consciousness is now complete. By the two acts of perception and the three resulting distinctions, the eternal being has made himself his own object and has perceived that he has done so. And there is real trinality in the unity. For the subject-ego is not the object-ego; the first form of God is not the second form of God. And the third distinction who reunites these two in the perception of their identity of essence is neither the subject-ego nor the object-ego; the third form of God is not the first or the second form and yet is consubstantial with them both. The third distinction does not, like the first, posit an object, but only perceives the act of positing. There is, consequently, no second object that requires to be reunited in the unity of essence. Hence the two acts and the three resulting distinctions are sufficient to complete the circle of self-consciousness.
Thus divine personality, in the light thrown upon it by the revealed doctrine of the Trinity, is seen to be wholly independent of the finite. God does not struggle out into self-consciousness by the help of the external universe. Before that universe was created and in the solitude of his own eternity and self-sufficiency, he had within his own essence all the conditions of self-consciousness. And after the worlds were called into being, divine personality remained the same immutable self-knowledge, unaffected by anything in his handiwork:
Oh Light Eternal, sole in thyself that dwellest,
Sole knowest thyself, and known unto thyself,
And knowing, lovest and smilest on thyself!
—Dante, Paradise 33.125
This analysis shows that self-consciousness is trinal, while mere consciousness is only dual. The former implies three distinctions; the latter only two. When I am conscious of a tree, there is a subject (my mind) and an object (the tree). This is all there is in the process of consciousness. But when I am conscious of myself, there is a subject (my mind as a contemplating mind), an object (my mind as a contemplated mind), and still another subject (my mind as perceiving that these two prior distinctions are one and the same mind). In this trinal process of self-consciousness, there is much more than in the dual process of simple consciousness.
The earlier pantheism of Spinoza differs from the later of Hegel in combating the doctrine of divine personality altogether and in any form whatsoever. Hegel, as has been previously noticed, would obtain a kind of personality for the infinite through the medium of the world, but Spinoza maintains that the infinite, from the very idea of it, cannot be personal. If it should become so, it would cease to be infinite. He condensed his view in the dictum: "All limitation is negation." A person in order to be such must distinguish himself from something that is not himself. If God is personal, he must therefore be able to say that he is not the world. In personally defining himself, he sets limits to himself; and if he sets limits, he is not unlimited; and if not unlimited, not infinite. If God and the universe, says Spinoza, are two different substances and exclude each other in the way the theist maintains, then God is not the all and therefore not the infinite. God plus the universe would be greater than God minus the universe. (supplement 3.1.9.)
This reasoning proceeds upon a false idea and definition of the infinite. It confounds the infinite with the all. The two are wholly diverse. In the first place, the infinite is the perfect. Consequently, it excludes all modes of existence that are imperfect; but the all includes these. Second, infinite qualities of necessity exclude finite qualities; but the all does not. One and the same being cannot be both infinite and finite. But the fact that a being is not finite and in this sense limited does not make him finite. This is the obvious fallacy in the pantheistic position that if God can distinguish himself as other than the world, and as not the world, he is not infinite. A limitation of this kind is necessary in order that he may be the infinite. To say that a being is not finite, to "determine" him by this "negative" (using Spinoza's dictum), is the very way to say that he is infinite. An infinite power cannot be a finite power; an infinite knowledge cannot be a finite knowledge. A physical force able to lift one hundred pounds cannot be a force able to lift only fifty pounds, any more than one hundred can be only fifty. The infinite, therefore, does not, like the all, comprise all varieties of being, possible and actual, limited and unlimited, good and evil, perfect and imperfect, matter and mind. The infinite can create the finite, but cannot be the finite. Third, the infinite is simple; the all is complex. Everything in the former is homogeneous. The contents of the latter are heterogeneous. Fourth, the infinite is without parts and indivisible; the all is made up of parts and is divisible.
The all, consequently, is pseudoinfinite, and to assert that it is greater than the simple infinite is the same error that is committed in mathematics when it is asserted that an infinite number plus a vast finite number is greater than the simple infinite. Mathematical infinity is neither increased nor diminished by the addition or subtraction of millions of units. In like manner, it is no increase of infinite and absolute perfection to add a certain amount of finite imperfection to it. God's essence, for example, is eternal, immutable, and necessary; the substance of the finite universe is temporal, mutable, and contingent. The former must be and cannot be conceived of as nonexistent; the latter may or may not be. Now, to add such an inferior and secondary species of being to the absolutely perfect and eternal essence of God and regard it as increasing his eternity and immensity or to subtract it and assert that it diminishes his eternity and immensity is irrational. God's power again is infinite. This omnipotence would not be made more mighty by endowing it with that infinitely less degree of power which resides in a man or an angel. The same is true of infinite knowledge. God's omniscience would not be made greater by the addition of a narrow finite intelligence. To add contingent being to necessary being does not make the latter any more necessary. To add imperfect being to perfect being does not make the latter any more perfect. "God," says Müller (Sin 1.14), "is a universe in himself, whether the world exist or not." (supplement 3.1.10.)
The error of confounding the infinite with the all has been committed by writers who are far from pantheism in their intention. The phraseology of Edwards is sometimes open to objection in that he appears to combine God with the universe in one system of being, thereby making him a part of the all and obliterating the distinction between infinite and finite existence. "If the deity," he says (Nature of Virtue), "is to be looked upon as within that system of beings which properly terminates our benevolence or belonging to that whole, certainly he is to be regarded as the head of the system and the chief part of it; if it be proper to call him a part who is infinitely more than all the rest, and in comparison of whom and without whom all the rest are nothing, either as to beauty or existence." This qualification of his remark shows that Edwards had doubts whether it is proper to speak of one universal system of being, what he elsewhere calls "being in general," of which God is a part. In another place (End in Creation), he speaks still more unguardedly when he says that "the first being, the eternal and infinite being, is in effect being in general and comprehends universal existence." This, if found in Spinoza, would mean that God is the all. A similar confounding of God with the all is found in Edwards (Will 1.3), who remarks that "there is a great absurdity in supposing that there should be no God or in denying being in general." Here, "God" and "being in general" are convertible terms. Andrew Fuller (Calvinism and Socinianism, letter 7) says that "God must be allowed to form the far greater proportion, if I may so speak, of the whole system of being." He probably borrowed this from Edwards. This is the same error that appears in Greek pantheism, which regarded to hen as to pan.
Dorner (Christian Doctrine 1.319) falls into the same error: "We have previously regarded God as the infinite original being or essence—indeed as the original all of being. God is originally the totality of being, and therefore a universality attaches to him, inasmuch as somehow all being must originally be included in him." Cudworth (Intellectual System 4.17) finds the doctrine that God is all in the Orphic poetry, but would interpret it in an allowable sense, referring to such texts as "God is all in all" (1 Cor. 15:28) and "in him we have our being" (Acts 17:28). But he thinks that the Stoics and some others held the doctrine in a "gross" pantheistic sense, there being "Spinozism before Spinoza." Hamilton and Mansel confound the infinite with the all and employ this spurious idea in proving the position that the personal infinite involves limitation and self-contradiction. If God distinguishes himself from the universe, then God minus the universe is less than God plus the universe. Hamilton, in his letter to Calderwood, explicitly defines the infinite as to hen kai pan. He also confounds the infinite with the indefinite or unlimited (see his list of antinomies in Bowen's Hamilton, 522).
The personality of the essence or Godhead must be distinguished from that of a person in the essence or Godhead. The existence of three divine persons in the divine essence results in the self-consciousness of the essence. This general self-consciousness of the triune Godhead must not be confounded with the particular individual consciousness of the Father as Father, of the Son as Son, of the Spirit as Spirit. The personality of the Trinity is not the same as that of one of its persons. The personality of a trinitarian person consists in the fatherhood or the sonship or the procession, as the case may be. But the personality of the Trinity consists not in any one of these individual peculiarities, but in the result of all three. The three hypostatic consciousnesses make one self-consciousness, as the three persons constitute one essence. (supplement 3.1.11.)
The personality of one of the persons, the Greek trinitarians denominated idiotēs (individuality), that peculiarity which distinguishes him from the others. The personality of the Son is his sonship; of the Father his paternity; of the Spirit his procession. In this reference, it is preferable to speak of the personality of the essence rather than of the person of the essence, because the essence is not one person but three persons. The personality of the divine essence or of God in the abstract is his self-consciousness, which, as we have seen, results from the subsistence of three persons in the essence and the corresponding trinal consciousness. From this point of view, it is less liable to misconception to say that God is personal, than to say that God is a person. The latter statement, unless explained, conflicts with the statement that God is three persons; the former does not.
Divine essence cannot be at once three persons and one person, if "person" is employed in one signification; but it can be at once three persons and one personal being. Divine essence, by reason of the three distinctions in it, is self-contemplative, self-cognitive, and self-communing. If there were only a single subject, this would be impossible. Consequently, that personal characteristic by which the trinitarian persons differ from each other cannot be the personal characteristic of the essence or the entire Godhead. The fatherhood of the first person is not the fatherhood of the Trinity. The sonship of the second person is not the sonship of the Trinity. The procession of the third person is not the procession of the Trinity. If, however, the distinction is marked between a single trinitarian person, such as the Father or the Son or the Spirit, and a triune person such as the Godhead, it would not be self-contradictory to say that God is three persons and one person because the term person is employed in two senses. In one instance it denotes the hypostatic personality, in the other the tripersonality; in one case it denotes a consciousness that is single, in the other a consciousness that is trinal; in one case the consciousness is simple, in the other complex.
3.1.1 (see p. 155). Osiander maintained that "man was created in the image of God because he was formed after the similitude of the future Messiah in order that he might resemble him whom the Father had already decreed to clothe with flesh. Whence he concluded that if Adam had never fallen, Christ would nevertheless have become man." Calvin (2.12.4–6) opposes this as follows: "The notion that Christ would have become man, even though the human race had needed no redemption, is a vague speculation. I grant, indeed, that at the original creation Christ was exalted as head over angels and men; for which reason Paul calls him 'the firstborn of every creature'; but since the whole Scriptures proclaim that he was clothed with flesh in order to become a Redeemer, it is excessive temerity to imagine another cause for it. The end for which Christ was promised from the beginning is sufficiently known; it was to restore a fallen world. Therefore under the law his image was exhibited in sacrifices to inspire the faithful with a hope that God would be propitious to them, after he should be reconciled by the expiation of their sins. The prophets proclaimed and foretold him as the future reconciler of God and men. When Christ himself appeared in the world, he declared the design of his advent to be to appease God and restore us from death to life. The apostles testified the same. If anyone object that it is not evinced by these testimonies that the same Christ who has redeemed men from condemnation could not have testified his love to them by assuming their nature if they had remained in a state of integrity, we briefly reply that since the Spirit declares these two things—Christ's becoming our Redeemer and his participation of our nature—to have been connected by the eternal decree of God, it is not right to make any further inquiry. For he who feels a desire to know something more, not being content with the immutable appointment of God, shows himself not to be contented with this Christ, who has been given to us as the price of our redemption. I admit that Adam bore the divine image because he was united to God; yet I contend that the similitude of God is to be sought only in those characteristics of excellence with which God distinguished Adam above the other creatures. And that Christ was even then the image of God is universally allowed; and therefore whatever excellence was impressed on Adam proceeded from the circumstance that he approached to the glory of his maker by means of his only begotten Son. But this Son was a common head to angels as well as men; so that the same dignity which was conferred on man belonged to angels also. But if God designed his glory to be represented in angels as well as in men and to be equally conspicuous in the angelic as in the human nature, it would follow from Osiander's view that angels were inferior to men; because they certainly were not made in the image of Christ."
3.1.2 (see p. 157). Newton, in the Scholium generale at the end of the Principia, says that God, "by his universal existence, both in time and space, is the Creator of time and space" ("Principia" in Penny Cyclopaedia). There are two objections to this: (1) It makes time and space to be substances or entities; for whatever is created by God is a substance or entity, either material or mental. God does not create nonentities. (2) In making God to exist in space, it makes him to be matter, for this is the only space-filling substance; and in making him to exist in time, it makes his consciousness to be a consecutive series undergoing continual change, in which case it is not the simultaneous, all-comprehending, and immutable consciousness of an eternal being.
That space and time are neither entities nor substances, nor properties of entity or substance, is proved by the fact that whether we add them to or subtract them from an object, be it matter or mind, the body or the soul, makes no difference with the object itself. They are not given as properties in a chemical analysis of matter. A piece of gold, when subjected to analysis, will yield all of its constituent properties without any reference to the questions where it is or when it is—that is, to space and time. The only question for the chemist is what it is. Space and time are wholly foreign to it considered as a substance or entity. They are merely the mental forms under which material substance is contemplated by a finite understanding; and there is no more reason for asserting their objective reality than that of the categories of Aristotle and Kant, quantity, quality, relation, etc. These latter are confessedly only subjective in their nature, the manner in which the human mind thinks of objects. They are not substantial properties of objects. The propensity to regard space as an entity is seen in Newton's remark in this same Scholium that "any particle of space always is." A particle is an atom or molecule; and space has no atoms.
Locke (King, Life of Locke, 66) in his Journal denies the substantiality of space: "Imaginary space seems to me to be no more anything than an imaginary world. For space or extension, separated in our thoughts from matter or body, seems to have no more real existence than number has without anything to be numbered; and one may as well say the number of the sea-sand does really exist and is something, the world being annihilated, as that the space or extension of the sea does exist or is anything, after such annihilation." Also, in his "Miscellaneous Papers" (Life, 336, 339), he argues to the same effect: "If it be possible to suppose nothing or, in our thoughts, to remove all manner of beings from any place, then this imaginary space is just nothing and signifies no more but a bare possibility that body may exist where now there is none. Besides this, there seems to me this great and essential difference between space and body, that body is divisible into separable parts, but space is not. If one take a piece of matter of an inch square and divide it into two, the parts will be separated if set at further distance one from another; and yet nobody, I think, will say that the parts of space are or can be removed to a further distance one from another."
3.1.3 (see p. 158). The distinction in substance and kind between matter and mind was made by Plato and Aristotle, who represent the best Greek philosophy; by Cicero, who represents the best Roman; by Plotinus and Proclus, who represent the later Platonism; by the Christian fathers; by the Schoolmen; by the great discoverers in modern physics: Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, and Linnaeus; and by the leading modern philosophers: Bacon, Descartes, Leibnitz, Locke, and Kant. The distinction has also gone into the literatures of the world and been recognized by the creative minds: by Homer and Aeschylus, by Virgil, by Dante and Cervantes, by Pascal, by Shakespeare and Milton. The denial of the distinction is confined to the pantheistic and materialistic schools, to which physical science is not indebted for any of its leading discoveries and to which literature in its higher forms is not at all indebted.
If this distinction is valid, all substance in the created universe is either matter or mind; and if it is the one it cannot be or become the other. A chasm lies between the two realms that cannot be filled up. The limits between them are impassable. There is no transmutation of matter into mind or of mind into matter, no evolution of one into the other. The dualism of theism, not the monism of pantheism, is the truth. The Darwinian physics is monistic in asserting the transmutation of matter into mind, of brute into man, of animal life into moral and spiritual. An examination of the phenomena of animal life evinces that it is a part of the realm of matter, not of mind. The distinctive characteristic that differences the mental, moral, and spiritual world from the material, physical, and nonmoral; the human from the animal soul, is reason. "Brutes," says Aristotle (Ethics 7.3), "have no universal conceptions, but only an instinct of particulars and memory." In the Epinomis attributed to Plato, the animal is distinguished from man by its ignorance of number: "The animal does not know two and three, even and odd, and is entirely ignorant of number." By reason is not meant any and all intelligence, but a particular species of it. Animal life is intelligent in a certain way, because even in its very lowest forms there is selection of means to an end, and this implies a kind of knowledge. We never think of vegetable life as intelligent in any manner whatever, but the action of instinct in the animal world manifests both perception and volition. The volitions by which "infusoria avoid each other as well as obstacles in their way" and by which "animalcules move by undulations, leaps, oscillations, or successive gyrations"; the intelligence by which the ichneumon fly deposits its eggs on the species of caterpillar that furnishes the appropriate food for its young and by which the young grubs themselves "gnaw the inside of the caterpillar, carefully avoiding all the vital parts," in order to preserve their food as long as possible—such intelligence as this, though remarkable, is not reason or intuitive power. And neither is that still more wonderful instinct by which the bee constructs its hexagonal cells and the ant builds its galleries and corridors; nor is that wisdom by which the hawk flies (Job 39:26) and by which he plunges with the unerring velocity of a cannonball from his height in the clouds to the depths where he grasps his prey; nor is that foresight by which the migrations of birds are directed; nor is the still higher intelligence of the dog, horse, and "half-reasoning elephant"—nothing of all this merely adaptive skill and foresight in the tribes of earth, air, and water reaches into the sphere of intuitive perception in mathematics, esthetics, ethics, and religion. Though it is the highest grade of instinct, yet it is no grade at all of reason; as the power of the architect, however great of its own kind, cannot be or become the power to create life. "A magnificent temple," says Gibbon (chap. 40), "is a laudable monument of national taste and religion, and the enthusiast who entered the dome of St. Sophia might be tempted to suppose that it was the residence or even the workmanship of the deity. Yet how dull is the artifice, how insignificant the labor, if it be compared with the formation of the vilest insect that crawls upon the surface of the temple!" As one of the senses cannot do the work of another; as the sense of smell, however acute, cannot possibly see objects or hear sounds, so the intelligence of the animal, however keen in its own sphere, cannot possibly enlighten it with the knowledge of things above that sphere. The whole range of cognition in mathematics, esthetics, ethics, and religion is absolutely beyond its ken. No education whatever can give to an animal the power of intuitively perceiving axiomatic and necessary truth, because education is gradual, but intuition is instantaneous. If the truth of the axiom that the whole equals the sum of the parts is not perceived immediately it cannot be perceived at all. No amount of teaching and argument in support of it will produce the intuition. The attempt to introduce an intuition into the mind gradually is like the attempt to exhibit a mathematical point by making a dot with a pen. The attempt is suicidal, because the mathematical intuition of the point excludes all dimension in space. The animal, consequently, though having an intelligence that is superior to that of man within a certain sphere (for what man can move to a distant unseen point like the bee on a "beeline" or the wild goose in his annual migration), must ever be an irrational, nonintuitive creature. It is not so with mental and rational life in man. The most degraded savage, conceivably and actually, may become by the development of his created capacity even a Newton or Milton, because the kind of his intelligence is like theirs. He is not barred out of the higher regions of knowledge by the structure and constitution of his mind. The most imbruted tribes of men may become the most civilized and enlightened, the most moral and religious, as is seen in the modern Englishman compared with his progenitors; but no tribe of apes, no breed of dogs, can be lifted by training and education above their animal and material range and plane. To the instinctive, irrational intelligence of the brute, the Creator has said: "Thus far shall you go and no further."
Reason, strictly defined, with Kant, as distinct from understanding, is the power of intuitively perceiving the ideas and truths of mathematics, esthetics, ethics, and religion and distinguishes animal intelligence from human. The most sagacious dog does not perceive that the whole is equal to the sum of the parts, that there is beauty in the object which strikes his eye, that his anger or deception are wrong and damnable before the moral law, that God is his Creator and that he is obligated to him. Neither can he be taught these truths. He can be taught a great variety of actions and tricks that stretch his animal intelligence to the utmost; but no action or trick that involves the perception of any of these higher ideas. He cannot be trained to perceive the truth of an axiom, the beauty of a form, the guilt of a feeling or act, the infinity and glory of God. How do we know this? it may be objected. Because there is no manifestation of such knowledge as there is of that other kind of intelligence which we have noticed. The only conclusive evidence of the existence of a power is its actual operation. The burden of proof, consequently, is upon him who affirms that instinctive intelligence is potentially rational intelligence and by a natural evolution may be transmuted into it. He is bound to furnish the instances and examples.
By reason, then, of the absence of rational intuitive perception, the animal belongs only to the world of living organic matter, not of mind or spirit. His animal soul is not spiritual like mind, but nonspiritual like matter; is not moral like mind, but nonmoral like matter; is not immortal like mind, but mortal like matter. The intelligence with which he is endowed is related only to the world of sense and has no connection with the immaterial world of spirit. It is given to him by his maker only to subserve the purposes of a brief, transitory existence here upon earth. The "be all and the end all" of the animal is "here, on this bank and shoal of time."
Having thus located the animal within the world of matter and excluded him from that of spirit, we proceed to consider more particularly the nature of animal life. Life in all its forms is an invisible power or principle. No man has seen or can see it. Be it vegetable or animal, it is a power and principle that cannot be detected by the naked or the armed eye. The vitality that builds up the individual plant or animal eludes all observation. Yet it is an objective entity and not a mere conception or figment of the mind, like a mathematical point or line, because, unlike these latter, it produces effects that are both visible and tangible. This evinces its objectivity and proves that it belongs to the world of real substance. But if animal life is of the nature of matter, there must be a mode or form of matter that is invisible, intangible, and imponderable. In common phraseology, however, matter and mind are differenced as the visible and invisible, the tangible and intangible, the ponderable and imponderable. Matter is popularly defined as extension in the three geometrical dimensions, and this is supposed to exhaust the subject. But there is another form of matter which the mind must recognize. This is its unextended and invisible mode or form. The ultimate of matter, on either the dynamic or atomic theory of it, is without extension and invisible. If we adopt Kant's theory that extended and visible matter is the resultant of two invisible forces that meet in equilibrium and evince their balancing counteraction by a visible product that fills space with a certain degree of intensity and impenetrability; or if we adopt the theory that visible matter is composed of invisible atoms—in either case we assume an invisible mode of matter. Neither these primordial forces nor these primordial atoms are extended, visible, or ponderable. And yet they are assumed to be entities. Their advocates will not concede that they are mere fictions of the imagination or mere notions of the mind, like the square root of two. These unextended, invisible forces or molecules are claimed to be as objectively real as the visible matter of which they are the underlying substance and ground.
The same reasoning applies to the invisible form of matter in the inorganic world as well as in the organic. The forces of attraction and repulsion, of cohesion, of gravitation and chemical affinity, are not, like space and time in the Kantian theory, mere forms of the understanding without objective existence, but real powers and entities. They are substance or being of some kind, because they are able to produce effects, which absolute nonentity cannot do. They constitute a part—and a most important part—of the material universe. Without them there would be no extended and visible matter whatever. But they are themselves unseen; they are inorganic matter in its invisible mode or form. They are the mē phainomena of Heb. 11:3, which were created ex nihilo in that "beginning" spoken of in Gen. 1:1, when the chaotic matter of the universe was created of which they are the constitutive and regulative forces. Once they were not; now they are. This places them among entities. But if nonextension and invisibility may be a characteristic of inorganic and dead matter, it surely may be of organic and living matter. If we can believe with Kant that the ultimate form of matter in the rock is an invisible, we certainly can that the ultimate form of matter in the vegetable and animal is; that that unseen vitality which is the substans of the visible tree or lion is a real somewhat and makes a constituent part of the material universe of God, the Creator of "all things, visible and invisible" (Col. 1:16).
The answer, then, to the question "what is animal life?" is that it is an invisible material principle that is able to vitalize, organize, and assimilate inorganic and lifeless matter and thereby build up a living animal. Having reference only to the distinction between matter and mind, animal life is matter, not mind, and in this respect is no higher in kind than the inorganic forces of gravity and chemical affinity below it. Like them, it is an invisible form of matter. It no more belongs to the mental, moral, and spiritual world than they do. It is no more rational, moral, spiritual, immortal, free, and responsible than they are. But considered within its own sphere of the material and physical and compared with other varieties of matter, animal life is higher than vegetable life, and vegetable life is higher than gravity and chemical affinity. Though animal and vegetable life and the inorganic forces are all alike physical, material, and nonmoral, yet they cannot be evolved from one another. Animal life is not produced by a natural process from vegetable life and still less from the inorganic mechanical forces. A distinct and definite fiat of the Creator is requisite to its origination, as well as in order to that of the vegetable and the nonvital forces. Such fiats are indicated in Gen. 1:3, 11, 20, 24: "God said, Let there be light; let the earth bring forth grass; let the waters bring forth the moving creature that has life; let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind."
This view of animal life and the animal soul, as different in kind from rational life and the rational soul, is supported by Scripture. The vitalizing and organizing principle in the animal is denominated a "soul of life" or a "living soul" Gen. (1:20–21, 24). When God created it he addressed the "waters" and the "earth" and made both body and soul together and simultaneously. He did not "breathe" the animal soul, as a distinct and separate thing, into the animal body which it vivified and inhabited, nor did he create it after "his own image and likeness." But when he created the "soul of life" or rational soul in the first man, he addressed himself, not the waters or the earth, and inbreathed it into a distinct and separate body previously made of "the dust of the ground" and described it as made after his own image and likeness. This difference in the manner of the creation infers the higher grade of being. Again, Scripture describes death in the instance of man as the separation of the soul from the body, the continued existence of the former and the dissolution of the latter. The animal is never represented as "giving up the ghost," nor is the animal soul described as leaving the body, as being "gathered to its fathers" and continuing to exist in happiness or misery. The death of the animal is the physical destruction of the total creature—body and soul: "The spirit of the beast goes downward to the earth" (Eccles. 3:21); "the beasts perish" (Ps. 49:12, 20).
According to this view the entire animal world and animal life, in all its varieties, is of the earth, earthy. It is matter, not mind; physical, not spiritual. It has no immortality, no everlasting permanency. The animal soul, although it may exhibit a striking kind of intelligence that allies it with man in some degree, yet is destitute of man's distinguishing characteristic of reason and rational intuition. Having no moral ideas and sustaining no moral relations, it dies with the body which is has vitalized, organized, and used, in accordance with the design of the Creator, within that narrow and transitory sphere of existence in this world, to which alone it belongs.
The instinctive intelligence of the animal is incapable of passing beyond a certain point. It cannot be trained or educated to pass it. Up to that point it may be very acute and sagacious, even exceeding that of man upon the same subject. The instinct of the beaver is an illustration. If the current is weak, the beavers build their dam straight across; if strong, they build it convexly. This supposes an intelligence or knowledge on the part of the beaver upon this point; but not upon cognate points. The beaver knows that the current is weak or strong, as the case may be; otherwise he would not build in two ways. And he knows that building in one way in one case will not do in the other. But he does not know the properties of the arch, in which figure he builds his dam in a strong current, and cannot make the conclusions of the mathematician concerning it. His knowledge has a limit beyond which he cannot go, any more than if he were a piece of inorganic matter. Now, how does he come to have this degree of intelligence? He must get it, not from the unintelligent molecules of dead matter and of living protoplasm, but from the intelligent being who made him. The Creator's instruction explains that form of intelligence called "instinct": "Does the hawk fly by your wisdom?" asks Jehovah of Job (39:26). The implied answer is, "No; by my wisdom." The whole of the thirty-ninth chapter of Job attributes all the instinctive intelligence of animals and birds to God as the author and cause of it. This lower form of intelligence, like the higher form in man, is an illumination of the animal by the Creator. This is taught by Paley (Natural Theology, 18), who thus explains the design which the animal shows in his instinctive action: "When a male and female sparrow come together, they do not meet to confer upon the expediency of perpetuating their species. As an abstract proposition, they care not whether the species be perpetuated or not; they follow their sensations; and all those consequences follow which the most solicitous care of futurity, which the most anxious concern for the sparrow world, could have produced. But how do these consequences ensue? The sensations and the physical constitution upon which they depend are as manifestly directed to the purpose which we see fulfilled by them, and the train of intermediate effects as manifestly laid and planned with a view to that purpose—that is to say, design is as completely evinced by the phenomena as it would be even if we suppose the operations to begin and be carried on from what some will allow to be alone properly called instincts, that is, from desires directed to a future end and having no accomplishment or gratification distinct from the attainment of that end. Now, be it so that those actions of animals which we refer to instinct are not performed with any view to their consequences, but that they are attended in the animal with a present gratification alone; what does all this prove but that the prospection, which must be somewhere, is not in the animal, but in the Creator?"
3.1.4 (see p. 159). Augustine holds that angels have bodies: "The question arises whether angels have bodies adapted to their duties and their swift motions from place to place or whether they are only spirits. For, if we say that they have bodies, we are met by the passage, 'He makes his angels spirits'; and if we say that they have not bodies, a still greater difficulty meets us in explaining how, if they are without bodily form, it is written that they appeared to the bodily senses of men, accepted offers of hospitality, permitted their feet to be washed, and used the meat and drink that was provided for them. For it seems to involve us in less difficulty if we suppose that the angels are called 'spirits in the same manner as men are called 'souls'; for example, in the statement that so many souls (not meaning that they had not bodies also) went down with Jacob into Egypt, than if we suppose that without bodily form all these things were done by angels. Again, a certain definite height is mentioned in the Apocalypse as the stature of an angel, in dimensions which can apply only to bodies, showing that that which appeared to the eyes of men is not to be explained as an illusion, but as resulting from the power which we have spoken of as easily excited by spiritual bodies. But whether angels have bodies and whether anyone be able to show how without bodies they could do all these things, it is nevertheless certain that in that city of the holy in which those of our race who have been redeemed by Christ shall be united forever with thousands of angels, voices proceeding from organs of speech shall give expression to the thoughts of minds in which nothing is hidden; for in that divine fellowship it will not be possible for any thought in one to remain concealed from another, but that shall be complete harmony and oneness of heart in the praise of God, and this shall find utterance not only from the spirit, but through the spiritual body as its instrument. This, at least, is what I believe" (Letter 95.8 to Paulinus and Therasia, A.D. 408).
3.1.5 (see p. 160). Fichte supposed that theism can be maintained and yet the essentiality of God be denied. He denied that God is spiritual substance and asserted that he is only "the moral order of the universe." "It is an error," he says (Smith, Fichte 1.104), "to say that it is doubtful whether there is a God. It is not doubtful, but the most certain of all certainties, nay, the foundation of all certainties, the one absolutely valid objective truth, that there is a moral order in the world; that to every rational being is assigned his particular place in that order, and the work he has to do; that his destiny, insofar as it is not occasioned by his own conduct, is the result of this plan; that in no other way can even a hair fall from his head nor a sparrow fall to the ground about him; that every true and good action prospers, and every bad action fails; and that all things must work together for good to those who truly love goodness. On the other hand, no one who reflects for a moment and honestly avows the result of his reflection can remain in doubt that the conception of God as a particular substance is impossible and contradictory; and it is right to say this candidly and to silence the babbling of the schools, in order that the true religion of cheerful virtue may be established in its room."
An analysis of this extract yields the following definition of God: God is not a substantial being, but the assignment of a place and work to every rational being, the plan of every man's work, and the process whereby all things work for good. He is not a spiritual essence or entity, but an arrangement, a plan, and a process. Fichte believed that he was defending the doctrine of divine existence in a statement that annihilates his existence, if by existence he meant real objective being. The moral order is no more a substance having objective existence than the moral law is. No one would think of denominating the latter a being or essence having qualities and attributes.
3.1.6 (see p. 165). The doctrine that God and the universe constitute an organic unity accords with the monism of pantheism, but not with the dualism of theism. If God is infinite and the universe finite, as theism affirms, the latter is immanent in and dependent on the former, but not organically one with it. Yet this last is affirmed sometimes by writers who repudiate pantheism. Caird (Philosophy of Religion, 241, 243, 251) asserts that a "true solution of the higher problems of religion is impossible if we start from dualistic suppositions. A true solution can be reached only by apprehending the divine and the human, the infinite and the finite, as the moments or members of an organic whole in which both exist at once in their distinction and their unity. The true infinite is not the mere negation of the finite, but that which is the organic unity of the infinite and finite." There are the following objections to this view:
1. The infinite excludes the finite because, so far as finite elements and qualities are conceived as belonging to an infinite essence, it is not infinite, as water is not water so far as fire is supposed to be a component in it. The true infinite is, therefore, the negation or the exclusion of the finite.
2. An organic unity constituted of both the infinite and finite would be an infinite-finite, not the simple infinite, as when, for illustration, the Logos unites with an individual human nature he is no longer simply divine, but divine-human.
3. An organic unity composed of God and the universe would make them one sum and system of being. The deity would become a part of a general system. But God is not a part of anything. The universe is a creation from nothing by his omnipotence and is of a different substance from divine essence. It cannot, therefore, be put into a sum total along with God and constitute one common mass of being with him. Once the universe was not. But God always was. The universe is contingent being; God is necessary being. To combine under the notion of an organic whole such totally different objects as God and the world, temporal being and eternal being, contingent being and necessary being, contradicts the nature of each. But this is attempted. "We are required to show," says Caird, "first, that finite spirit presupposes or is intelligible only in the light of, the idea of, the infinite Spirit; and, second, that the infinite Spirit contains in the very idea of its nature organic relations to the finite." Here the difference in kind between the infinite and finite is overlooked. It is true that man supposes God and is inexplicable without him. But the converse is not true. God does not suppose man, and man's existence does not explain that of God. It is true that we cannot think of man independently of God; but we can and must think of God independently of man: "Before the mountains were brought forth or ever you had formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, you are God." The infinite cannot, therefore, be brought into the same class of being with the finite. But it is so brought when it is made a part of one and the same system. Nature may be an organic unity. Man as a species may be an organic unity. But God and nature together cannot be an organic unity; and neither can God and universal man be such.
4. In a true organism the parts are equally necessary and coeval. All of the organs of an organism have the same contemporaneous origin in the original germ and develop simultaneously. This, of course, cannot be true of the infinite mind and the finite mind and still less of the infinite mind and matter.
We have taken notice of the error of making God a part of "being in general" (pp. 176–77). The doctrine that God and the universe are an organic unity is essentially the same thing. The duality in essence and the difference in kind between God and the universe, affirmed from the beginning by theistic philosophers, precludes it. God is from eternity; the finite universe, both of mind and matter, began in time by a creative fiat of God. The latter is immanent in, but not emanent from, the former (Acts 17:28). The "immanence of God in the universe" is often asserted. But, strictly speaking, the universe is immanent in God, rather than God in the universe. The greater contains the less, not the less the greater (cf. what is said respecting divine omnipresence on pp. 277–78). Whenever, therefore, divine immanence is mentioned it should be guarded by divine transcendence. There is no such existence of God in his universe as precludes his existence out of and beyond it. Otherwise God is only the soul of the universe. Man "lives and moves and has his being in God," says St. Paul; but he does not say that "God lives and moves and has his being in man."
The inscription on the temple of Sais, in Egypt, contains the error of making God and the universe one system of being or the all: "I am all that was and is and shall be." Rothe, as cited by Müller (Sin 1.11), contends that "all right speculative knowledge must start from one primary datum and from this develop by strict logic a system of thought consecutively evolved. This system must be an exact counterpart or image of the universe; using this word in the widest sense as including God." Müller, in criticizing Rothe's general position, remarks that "we have no right to put God and the world together in our conception of the universe, for then the world must be regarded as the complement of God, and this contradicts the idea of the absolute. God is a universe in himself, whether the world exists or not" (Sin 1.14n). It is by such a remark as this that Müller evinces his consistent theism and that he was not influenced by the monism of Schelling and Hegel, as were theologians like Rothe, Martensen, and Dorner.
3.1.7 (see p. 169). Hamilton (ed. Bowen, 127) defines consciousness by "I know that I know." This is self-consciousness, not simple consciousness. The latter is expressed by "I know." In self-consciousness the person is conscious that he is conscious. In consciousness he is merely conscious. Consciousness is the sentiency or feeling in the inner or outer sense which occurs in the waking moments of every man without his taking cognizance of it by reflection upon it. A man may see without reflecting that he sees; think without thinking of his thinking; feel without scrutinizing his feeling; in other words, may be conscious without being self-conscious. Again, in mere consciousness the object is other than the ego and external to it, but in self-consciousness the object is the ego in one of its modifications or subjective states. To illustrate: A man is conscious of a mountain; he receives various impressions and sensations from it. Up to this point he is conscious of an object other than ego, namely, of the mountain. Thus far he is not conscious of himself as the ego that is modified by the mountain, but only of the mountain. If now he takes the second step and makes this consciousness itself, these sensations and impressions themselves, the object of cognition, he passes to self-consciousness. He becomes conscious of his consciousness, that is, he becomes self-conscious. For the object now is not the mountain, as in the former case, but himself as affected by the mountain. He is now examining and cognizing the ego in one of its states and not the non-ego, or mountain, and is getting a knowledge of himself rather than of the mountain. He obtained all the knowledge of the mountain that is possible to him by his previous sensation or consciousness of it, but obtained no knowledge of himself in the process because he did not contemplate himself as affected by the mountain. But afterward he ceases to obtain any more knowledge of the mountain and gets a knowledge of himself by examining and becoming self-conscious of his inward experience. In this way it appears that consciousness is the knowledge of the non-ego as an object and that self-consciousness is the knowledge of the ego as an object. There is therefore the same difference between consciousness and self-consciousness as between knowledge and self-knowledge.
Hamilton (ed. Bowen, 131) defines consciousness to be "the recognition by the thinking subject of its own acts or affections." This also is self-consciousness, not consciousness. It is cognizing something subjective and internal, namely, the mind's own action and state, not cognizing something objective and external. As Hamilton denominates it, it is recognition or cognizing again a second time. The mind first knows the object consciously and then again knows this knowledge or consciousness by reflecting upon it and thereby becomes self-conscious.
This analysis, whereby the difference between consciousness and self-consciousness is apparent, shows the error in Berkeley's theory of consciousness. He asserts that the sensation and the accompanying idea in the mind constitute the object of consciousness and the only object there is. In this way there is nothing externally and really objective. But the truth is that neither the inward sensation nor the inward idea is the object of the consciousness, but is the consciousness itself. For illustration, I am conscious of the sensation of heat. Heat is my sensation or consciousness. If now, according to Berkeley, this sensation is itself the object of my sensation or consciousness, then I have a sensation of a sensation or a consciousness of a consciousness. This is making a sensation both its own object and its own subject, both the thing perceived and the percipient. It is no answer to the question "why am I conscious?" and "of what am I conscious?" to say, "I am conscious because of my consciousness"and "of my consciousness because of my sensation and of my sensation." The true answer is that I am conscious of an external object that is not myself or any modification of myself, like a sensation, which causes my consciousness or sensation. Instead of saying, as Berkeley does, that sensations and ideas are the object of consciousness, we must say that sensations and ideas are consciousness.
Berkeley's reasoning would apply better, but not fully, to self-consciousness in distinction from consciousness. In this case the subject does constitute the object. In self-consciousness the object is not a different substance from the subject, but is identical with it. The external reality of the object in this instance, in the sense of its being a different and another substance from the ego, must be denied. But even in this instance the consciousness of the self is not the self. It is the soul, the ego, and not the self-consciousness that is the real object of the self-consciousness.
I am conscious of the sensation of heat from a hot coal. This sensation is not the hot coal; that is to say, is not the object of the sensation. It is true that the sensation includes all that I know about the coal, but this does not prove that this is all there is of the coal. My sensation is the measure of my knowledge of the object, but not of the whole reality and nature of the object. If it were, then it would follow that nothing exists but what I know of and as I know it. The presence of a sensation infers the reality of an external object as the cause of it; otherwise, there is an effect without a cause. But the absence of a sensation does not infer the unreality or nonentity of an external object. When I cease to be conscious of a landscape, the landscape does not cease to exist. My sensation of its ceases, but the external object does not. This is proved by the fact that I can recover and renew my sensation of the landscape by going to it and beholding it once more.
3.1.8 (see p. 171). Schelling's explanation of all cognition by an assumed identity of substance between the knowing subject and the known object, of which a clear statement is given by Coleridge in his Biographia literaria (chap. 12), gets no support from the fact that in self-consciousness the subject and object are identical in substance. For this is not because the object, in order to be known, must be identical in substance with the knowing subject, that is, because mind cannot know anything but mind, or matter anything but matter, but because in order to know self the self must, of course, be posited as the object to be known. The monistic assumption that if mind and matter are heterogeneous the former cannot cognize the latter and that therefore the fundamental distinction between them must be given up converts all consciousness into self-consciousness.
This is expressly said by the advocates of this theory: "The apparent contradiction that the existence of things without us, which from its nature cannot be immediately certain, should be received as blindly and as independently of all grounds as the existence of our own being, the transcendental philosopher can solve only on the supposition that the former is unconsciously involved in the latter; that it is not only coherent but identical and one and the same thing with our own immediate self-consciousness. To demonstrate this identity is the office and object of his philosophy" (Coleridge, Works 3.340). But when a person is conscious of a tree or the sky, he knows as certainly as he knows anything that this is not being conscious of himself. The self must, of course, be the object, if the cognition is to be self-cognition. But when the cognition is to be the cognition of the not-self, when consciousness and not self-consciousness is to occur, identity of substance between the knowing subject and the known object is excluded from the very nature of the case.
3.1.9 (see p. 175). It is an error in Spinoza to say that in order to self-consciousness a person "must distinguish himself from something that is not himself," that is, from the world. This would be the consciousness of another object than self, which, of course, would not be the consciousness of self. The non-ego would be cognized, but the ego would still be uncognized. The person would indeed know negatively that he is not the world, but would not know positively what he himself is. What the ego is cannot be told until the cognition settles upon the ego, and the instant this is done the non-ego or the world is no longer the object contemplated. So that the very reverse of Spinoza's proposition is the truth. A person must cease distinguishing himself from and cognizing the world and begin to distinguish himself from and cognize himself in order to the very first step in personal self-knowledge. He must by an act of reflection duplicate himself and obtain an object for the contemplating subject by making himself and not the world the object. So long as he takes the world for the object he cannot take himself for it. And until he does this he has no self-knowledge, though he has knowledge. He knows the world, but not himself. He has consciousness, but not self-consciousness.
3.1.10 (see p. 176). The indefinite. It may be greater or less. Unlimited space, conceivably, may be added to or subtracted from. The infinite, on the contrary, is the definite and fixed; it is incapable of either increase or diminution. A divine attribute like omnipotence cannot be conceived of as being more or less of power. Indefiniteness in quantity is excluded by its strict infinity. Says Cudworth (Intellectual System 3.131): "There appears no sufficient ground for this positive infinity of space, we being certain of no more than this, that be the world or any figurative body never so great, it is not impossible but that it might be still greater and greater without end. Which indefinite increasableness of body and space seems to be mistaken for a positive infinity thereof. Whereas for this very reason, because it can never be so great but that more magnitude may still be added to it, therefore it can never be positively infinite." Descartes makes a similar statement and confines the term infinite to God (Principles of Philosophy 1.26–27): "To those who demand whether the half of an infinite line is also infinite and whether an infinite number is even or odd and the like, we answer that in reference to such things as these, in which we discover no limits, we will not therefore affirm that they are strictly infinite, but regard them simply as indefinite. Thus, because we cannot imagine extension so great that we cannot still conceive greater, we will say that the magnitude of possible things is indefinite, and because a body cannot be divided into parts so small that each of these may not be conceived as again divided into others still smaller, let us regard quantity as divisible into parts whose number is indefinite; and as we cannot imagine so many stars that it would seem impossible for God to create more, let us suppose that their number is indefinite, and so in other instances. We will therefore call all such things indefinite rather than infinite, with the view of reserving to God alone the appellation of infinite; in the first place, not only because we discover in him no limits on any side, but also because we positively perceive that he admits none; and in the second place, because we do not in the same way positively perceive that things like space and bodies are in every part unlimited, but merely negatively admit that their limits cannot be discovered by us." Cudworth (Intellectual System 2.536) also defines the infinite as the perfect and confines the term to God: "Infinity is nothing else but perfection. For infinite understanding and knowledge is nothing else but perfect knowledge, that which has no defect or mixture of ignorance with it. So in like manner infinite power is nothing else but perfect power, that which has no defect or mixture of impotency in it; a power of producing and doing all whatsoever is possible, that is, whatsoever is conceivable. Infinite power can do whatsoever infinite understanding can conceive and nothing else; conception being the measure of power and its extent, and whatsoever is in itself inconceivable being therefore impossible. Last, infinity of duration or eternity is really nothing else but perfection, as including necessary existence and immutability in it; so that it is not only contradictious to such a being to cease to be or exist but also to have had a newness or beginning of being or to have any flux or change therein, by dying to the present and acquiring something new to itself which was not before. Notwithstanding which, this being comprehends the differences of past, present, and future or the successive priority and posteriority of all temporary things. And because infinity is perfection, therefore can nothing which includes anything of imperfection in the very idea and essence of it be truly and properly infinite, such as number, corporeal magnitude, and successive duration. All which can only counterfeit and imitate infinity in their having more and more added to them indefinitely, whereby notwithstanding they never reach it or overtake it. There is nothing truly infinite, neither in knowledge nor in power nor in duration, but only one absolutely perfect being or the holy Trinity." Howe (Oracles 2.9) takes the same view, though rejecting a certain use of the term indefinite: "It has been a question much agitated among philosophers whether the created universe have any created limits at all or not. It has been agitated by some with a very ill design. With a mixture of fraud and folly, in discussing the question whether the created universe were infinite or not, they have told us they would not say it was infinite, but it was indefinite. When the terms are distinguished or infinite and indefinite, I would fain know what they mean by the latter. If by indefinite they mean that which has in itself no certain limits, then they plainly say that the created universe is infinite, because it has no fixed and certain limits. But if they mean by it only that it has no known limits to us, that anyone readily acknowledges; and so it is best to say it is finite, if they mean only so. Infinity is the proper predicate or attribute of deity alone. To say that the universe is infinite is to say that it is not a creation; and this would be taking away all the foundations of religion by confounding God and the creature. If the creature were infinite, there could be no subject of religion. And there can be no place for religion if there were no subject of it, any more than if there were no object of it."
3.1.11 (see p. 177). Coleridge commits the error of finding the personality of the Godhead or Trinity in one of the persons alone and not in the union of the three persons and thus of confounding the personality of the Trinity with the hypostatic personality. "I cannot," he says (Works 5.269), "meditate too deeply or too devotionally on the personeity of God and his personality in the Word." "O most unhappy mistranslation of hypostasis by person! The Word is properly the only person" (Works 5.406). It is difficult to determine what Coleridge means by "personeity" in distinction from "personality," as he says little upon the point (cf. Works 5.410). But it seems to be what he elsewhere denominates the "thesis," which looks like the Sabellian and the Pythagorean ground for the Trinity. In this case the personality evolves from the personeity and appears in the Son or Logos. This is not the Nicene doctrine, as Coleridge indirectly acknowledges by his partial disagreement with writers like Waterland and Bull. "It would be no easy matter," he says, "to find a tolerably competent individual who more venerates the writings of Waterland than I do. But still, in how many pages do I not see reason to regret that the total idea of the 4 = 3 = 1 of the adorable tetractys, eternally manifested in the triad, Father, Son, and Spirit, was never in its cloudless unity present to him. Hence both he and Bishop Bull too often treat it as a peculiarity of positive religion, which is to be cleared of all contradiction to reason, and then, thus negatively qualified, to be actually received by an act of mere will" (Works 5.404). "It cannot be denied that in changing the formula of the tetractys into the trias by merging the prothesis in the thesis, the identity in the Ipseity, the Christian fathers subjected their exposition to many inconveniences" (Works 5.416). For further criticism of this feature in Coleridge's trinitarianism, see Shedd, Literary Essays, 320–21.
Source: Dogmatic Theology