Rev. Samuel W. Howland
The Trinity of Deity has been discussed more perhaps than any other subject, chiefly because some of the most important doctrines of Christianity seemed to be dependent upon it. It is not satisfactory to say, as some do, that it is above reason and therefore we must not expect to express it in rational form. God is the Absolute Reason, and his mode of existence cannot be above reason. And since we also are rational beings, we ought to be able to have a reasonable idea of his nature and existence, even though we cannot comprehend the Infinite to perfection. There are several ways by which we may attain a clearer knowledge of God. We may reason a priori as to what must be, and therefore is, and with this include the intuitions of reason, as well as what we may call direct personal knowledge of God. But this method, though valid, is very liable to errors of interpretation, and its results must be tested, or verified, by a simpler method—the revelations of God’s word. In addition to this, we may take our stand on the teaching of reason and Scripture, that man is the offspring of God and in his image, and learn something about God from the knowledge of ourselves. This latter method has not been made use of as much as the others, and yet it may be quite helpful. To know God spiritually is life eternal, and the clearer knowledge to which these methods may help us may be the means to a fuller, richer, and more fruitful life.
God is a spirit (John 4:24); angels are spirits (Heb. 1:14); in man there is a spirit, which is the breath of God (Job 32:8), and the gift of God (Eccl. 12:7). The word must convey the same idea in each of these statements, except so far as the circumstances require modification. God and angels are pure spirits, not in bodies as men’s spirits are. Angels and men are finite, not infinite like God. Therefore angels are like God, except for the limitation of finiteness; men are like angels, except for embodiment, and men’s spirits are, like God limited and incarnated. Spirit may be described as rational being, which is being capable of acting rationally, or making use of reasons, perceiving them, acting according to them, etc. We may best know spirit by studying ourselves, being careful to discriminate the spirit in us from the animal soul in us. I have attempted to do this in the article on the “Tripartite Nature of Man” in the October number of this Review, but it is well to note a few distinctions here. That which we find in man differing in kind from what the animal possesses may be regarded as belonging to spirit. Both have intelligence. But the one perceives only through the senses; the other sees causes and reasons, sees what is and what must be, sees God and self, and the relations of the two, and thus knows duty. The feelings of the one are motives to action. In the other they are the result of action, and called experiences. In both there is a kind of will, which in the animal is determined by the motives or impulses, and has no free alternative; while in the spirit the action of the will has an alternative, and carries with it a conscious responsibility. This sense of responsibility enters more or less into all the activities of spirit; so that willing of spirit can hardly be classed by itself. The activities of the animal soul, whether in animals or men, naturally tend to follow the order of knowing, feeling, and willing. But in spirit the better classification, as we shall see, is perceiving, expressing, and experiencing.
These three are perhaps more easily discriminated in the conscience than in other relations. Under “conscience” are usually included all those spiritual activities that concern the rule of right or duty. As in the government of the state, there are three departments, more or less clearly discriminated, i.e. the legislative, the judicial, and the executive; so in the conscience, or self-government of the spirit, the same three activities may be discerned. No good legislature arbitrarily makes laws; but, doing its best to discern or discover what the good of the subjects requires, it declares that to be the law. So the conscience perceives what is duty, i.e. due by itself to God, to others, and to itself, and thus is a law unto itself. If it errs in this, it is because of a lack of clearness of perception, or by some distortion of vision. This perception of duty is legislative action. Again, as a state by its courts expounds the law and applies it to individual cases, so the spirit, as conscience, judges every act of the self, as well as the acts of others, that may be brought to its bar. This expounding by application is in reality expressing the law. The decisions of the courts, as precedents, make up the body of the laws. This judicial department of conscience is recognized by every one. Yet again, as the executive department of state, from the chief ruler down through all his representatives to the local police, enforces the law by rewards and penalties, and by using all reasonable means to secure its observance; so the conscience presses the man to do the perceived duty, and if he does it, rewards him by approval, and if he does not do it, punishes him by the severest pains. This is the executive of the self-governing spirit. These three classes of activity are clearly discriminated from each other, although they may react on each other, and they include all the activity of spirit in relation to the rule of right. In this relation these three together constitute what is called the conscience. But they are equally active in other relations.
These three are sometimes called “faculties,” and, though the term is not altogether satisfactory, we may use it for want of a better one. The faculty which perceives the rule of right is able to perceive all truth, and it was called by the Greek philosophers the nous, and its activity was expressed by the word noeo. The object of this activity is ever something rational,—either a rational being itself, or the work of a rational being, or its qualities or relations. For this reason all the various activities of the nous may be comprehended in the expression, “reason meeting reason,” i.e. rational being going out towards rational being or its qualities or activities or relations. The New Testament recognizes this distinction. It is the nous that perceives the invisible power and Godhead of Deity (Rom. 1:20); it is this that sees that all created things are produced by the power of a First Cause (Heb. 11:3); it is this that recognizes the eternal law of God (Rom. 7:25). This noun and its verb are never used in the New Testament to express any other faculty or activity than this rational one. Yet, though perceiving is the most characteristic action of this faculty called nous, there are other forms of activity which are similar in essential nature, being reason meeting reason, and so belong to this faculty, as we shall see.
The faculty that judges or expresses was called by the Greeks the logos, and its characteristic activity logizomai. This may be briefly described as “reason expressing reason.” The term logos was also used for “word” and for “language,” because these are the expression of reason, or rational nature expressing itself. One animal may be able to convey information to another in various ways, or even to use words by imitation; but it is generally admitted that it cannot form concepts, and so has no proper language. Spirit may also express itself in musical sounds, and in beautiful forms and colors. There is no real beauty in painting or sculpture, in music or in oratory, unless it is the work of a rational nature through its logos. And it is only the nous that can recognize the presence or the handiwork of the logos. An animal never sees beauty, though it may be pleased with bright colors. Judging is included in this activity, because by it the standard is expressed to be compared with the act judged; just as the courts judge by expounding and expressing the law. The word logos is apparently used in only one passage in the New Testament of man’s rational faculty (Acts 18:14); but the verb is frequently used, and everywhere indicates this activity, showing that this is a well-marked and distinct faculty.
The third, or executive, faculty of the spirit is called the pneuma, using the word in a more restricted sense than the ordinary one of spirit in general. The same word is suited for the two meanings, because the exercise of this faculty is the highest activity of the spirit,—it is the crown and end, or goal of all its activity. It may be described as “reason resting in reason,” or spirit experiencing. We cannot always determine whether the word is used in the restricted sense of one of the faculties, or as denoting the spirit as a whole. It is sufficient for our purpose that the distinction is sometimes made. In 1 Cor. 14:14–16 the apostle distinguishes the pneuma from the nous, and contrasts them. He objects to a public worship which is beneficial to only one, being a communion of his spirit with God, but is not helpful to others, because not intelligible to them. As the nous is itself one activity of the spirit, the pneuma spoken of here must be coordinate with it, and be another activity of the spirit, and therefore the word is used in the restricted sense here. In Eph. 4:23 the pneuma of the nous is spoken of as that in which a renewal of character is perfected. A man must be renewed, not only in his choice, which is the first and essential thing, being a setting of the spirit on its throne to rule the whole man; but he must also be made new in his inmost experiences, in the pneuma of the nous, before his renewal is completed. This distinction of two senses to the word seems to give fuller meaning to John 4:23-24. We must worship God not merely spiritually and truly, as it is usually understood, but by a union of spirits, in the pneuma of the nous, the inmost shrine of our hearts; so that we experience love, joy, and peace.
But we need not depend on particular examples of the use of the word,—the distinction in activity is what we need to notice. In the conscience the complacency following right action is assigned to the executive department, but it is a blessed experience, and so the action of this faculty stands first among the nine activities of spirit, or “fruits of the spirit,” the three chief fruits being “love, joy, and peace,” which are the typical experiences of the pneuma, as we may proceed to consider. When “reason meets reason “in persons, it is not a mere perceiving. If the person perceived is recognized as a congenial spirit, there is a tendency to go out towards it, and this is a more complete “meeting.” This is the first element of love, and it is itself often called love. The English word “love “is connected with “lief” and “leave,” as if the unconscious witness of language-formers indicated that love is a leaving of self for another. And this characteristic of love is generally recognized. Certainly self-sacrifice is the best evidence of love. The inspired apostle says, “Hereby know we love, in that he laid down his life [or self] for us” (1 John 3:16). This going out of self, or giving of self, involves an act of the will, and therefore it is reasonable for God to command love. But love is only perfected when it is reciprocated by another spirit, and the two spirits, which mutually love, rest in each other, and the pneuma experiences the first of the fruits of the spirit,—perfect love (see 1 John 2:5; 4:12). This may be illustrated by the electric current. When a metal is dipped into a liquid which acts upon it, a state of electrical tension is developed; and, if another metal is dipped in near it, the tension is increased. But only when they are connected by a wire is there a flow of electricity; and the greater the contrast between the metals, the greater the strength of the current. So, when spirit goes out to spirit in love, and is able to rest in it by reciprocation, which is a bond of union, the love is perfected. This is an experience in the pneuma.
Beauty is reason expressed in form, and this is by the logos. When the nous perceives beauty, the pneuma takes satisfaction in it, or rests in it, and the experience is called joy; as is well expressed by the poet, in words that have become a proverb, “A thing of beauty is a joy forever.” The ancient philosophers were accustomed to say that “the Good, the Beautiful, and the True” were the only objects worthy their efforts and search. These have been defined as “Reason in action,” “reason in form,” and “reason in principle.” These correspond to the activities of the nous, logos, and pneuma respectively. These are objects of perception by the nous; and, when they are so perceived, there is a tendency on the part of the logos to express them, resulting respectively in “the hero, the artist, and the sage”; and the accompanying experiences in the pneuma are “love, joy, and peace.” The hero is one who acts most worthily, especially under difficulties, which make manifest his devotion or self-sacrifice. This giving of self contains the first element of love, and is the chief “good.” The artist perceives the ideals of beauty, and expresses them in painting, sculpture, music, or oratory, and the accompanying experience is joy. The sage perceives eternal truths and principles, and enunciates them for others, and the contemplation of them, if sympathetic, secures inward and true peace. Truth is more than personality and more than beauty: it includes them both; it is the eternal verities of reason; it consists of the principles underlying all existence, all excellence, all action. It is well defined as “reason in principle,” and the perception and love of truth give peace, which is higher than love or joy, because it includes them both. The last best gift of Christ to his disciples was peace. It is the perfection of existence. Thus, when the nous perceives outside of itself the activities of nous, logos, and pneuma, as the good, the beautiful, the true, and goes out to meet them in sympathy, the logos tends to express them as hero, artist, and sage, and the pneuma experiences love, joy, and peace.
But the nous has other relations than outside of the self. When the rational spirit in its normal action goes out of itself to meet rational spirit, it finds rational spirit nearest in the self, i.e. in the logos, which is rational spirit expressing itself in order to be the object of this going-out. Therefore the spirit loves itself. The act of love has subject and object, and the self objectifies itself, or makes of itself another self to be the object of the self going forth or loving. This is not selfishness, because it loves itself as if it were other than itself; and it can always be distinguished from selfishness by the fact that it does not stop at self, but goes on to love all rational being. It loves itself only as one of rational beings, and it loves all mankind and God because it loves its other self in this rational, unselfish way. It loves its neighbor as itself, and itself as its neighbor, as Christ commanded.
This otherness in the self by which the self becomes a double self in loving self, is also manifested by the facts of self-consciousness, which is one of the chief characteristics of personality. When the self knows the self, there is within the self a subject and an object of the one action. The object known must be in some sense other than the subject knowing, therefore there must be a distinction within the spirit. The self which knows is the nous, and the self which is known is the logos, which expresses itself in order to be the object of the knowing, just as it is the object of the self-loving. These facts of self-consciousness and self-loving might seem to require only a twofoldness in the self, but a deeper inspection shows the necessity of a third as bond of union. Even if we do not see it in this connection, the third self, or pneuma, is clearly recognized in the facts of conscience and experience, as shown before. The animal does not share in these. Its consciousness is only a shadow or anticipation of the self-consciousness of man. The incidents which are thought by some to indicate the action of a conscience in animals may be accounted for by their well-known sympathy, or rather affection. The more we study the spirit in man, the more facts we find to confirm this analysis of the activities of spirit. For example, holiness, or wholeness, is where the nous goes out in free choice, an act of the will, toward that which is good, including the Good One, and all that is worthy of the going forth; and while the pneuma rests in it (or in Him), the logos expresses the good, and all the activities of the spirit being at their best, the man is whole, or holy.
Thus we find that all the activities of man’s spirit or rational nature are divided into three distinct classes, belonging to the three faculties called the nous, the logos, and the pneuma. In regard to the rule of right, they are the legislative, the judicial, and the executive. In view of truth they are the perceiving, expressing, and experiencing faculties. In general they are “reason meeting reason,” “reason expressing itself,” and “reason resting in reason.” They are activities of the one indivisible spirit, and are mutually dependent, and yet are clearly discriminated in our thought, and in fact, as well as in New Testament usage.
Psychologists usually classify the acts of the human ego as either cognition, sensibility, or will. This is a very natural arrangement of the acts of the psyche, or the animal soul, but is not altogether suitable when we include the spirit in the ego. Thinking is a very characteristic and important action, which does not seem to class itself easily under cognition, but rather demands a class for itself. Rational cognition which is not dependent upon the senses is quite different from knowledge by the senses. It is better called “reason going out to meet reason,” and such willing as involves a choice which affects or forms character easily goes into the same class, under that designation. But spiritual willing in general is any spontaneous activity of the ego, which is not determined by what goes before it, and so does not go into a class by itself, but is rather a characteristic of all spiritual activity. The experiences such as love, joy, and peace are hardly emotions which serve as motives to action, but are rather the resultant of normal spiritual action, a good in themselves, and so standing in a class by themselves. Thus it would seem that mental science, in order to an adequate analysis of its field, should recognize the distinction between soul and spirit, and the differing activities of the two.
The trinity of spirit which we find in ourselves, being normal to rational being, must characterize all spirits, or rational beings, and be found in God himself. Scripture reveals God as Triune, or as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; and comparing what is said of these three distinctions in Deity with the three distinctions in all spirit, which we have been discussing, we find a striking parallelism. The name Pneuma is everywhere applied to the Holy Spirit of God, even though God himself is declared to be a Spirit, or Pneuma. John in his Gospel applies the term Logos to the Son of God. Even the term nous seems to be applied to the Father in Rom. 11:34, “who hath known the nous of the Lord.” The whole passage (ver. 33–36) is trinitarian. All things are of the Father, through the Son, unto the Spirit, who perfects all, and in whom are the highest experiences, the perfection and goal of existence. This verse (36) being introduced by the word “for” indicates that the preceding verse are also trinitarian; and, if so, the nous refers to the Father. But the name itself is not of so much importance, as the activities ascribed to each.
The Greek fathers called the three members of the Trinity hyposiases, as if indicating by the word those parts or powers of Deity which respectively stand under, or are the source of, the three sets of activities manifested in Deity. It is a convenient word, and better than “persons.” They gave the name perichoresis to the mutual relations of the three distinctions in the human spirit, as illustrated by the electric battery. As in man’s spirit the nous is the legislative element, so Scripture teaches that the Father’s will is to be done both by the Son (John 4:34) and by all men. He is the source of authority (Matt 28:18; Heb 2:8). It is he that planned redemption (John 3:16; 17:4), and decreed all things (Eph. 1:3–11; 3:2). As man’s logos is the judicial faculty and the revealer and expounder, so the Son judges (John 5:22; 9:39), and also reveals (John 1:18), and expounds the Father’s will or his law (John 17:8; 14:24, etc). In creation, also, the Father planned (Eph. 3:9) the Word (Ps. 33:6), or Logos (John 1:3), or Son (Heb. 1:2), brought all into existence, expressing the will or plan of the Father. The Spirit perfected the work of creation (Gen. 1:2; Job 26:13), and is perfecting the work of salvation by applying it and making it successful. As the pneuma is the executive in man's conscience, so the work of the Spirit of God is to secure holiness or obedience to God’s law and regard for it. The rewards of obedience, especially peace and joy, are through the agency of the Spirit (Rom. 14:17; John 20:21-22, etc.), and even punishment is by the same agent (Isa. 63:10).
In the aspect of love we find the same activities as in man. God being Rational Spirit, or Absolute Reason, must by his very nature go out toward rational spirit in approval or complacency, which is love. But before creation there was no such object besides himself, and after the creation of angels and human beings, they, being finite, were not a sufficient object to satisfy this going forth of Infinite Being. Only in himself was there a sufficiently worthy object. Therefore God must needs find in himself from all eternity an other self; and in order to this he expresses himself as absolute Logos. This expressing of self to himself, or pressing forth out of self, or taking form, is called in the Bible a being begotten, so that the Divine Logos is the “only begotten Son” (John 1:18; 1 John 4:9). He is also the express image of the divine substance (Heb. 1:2; Col. 1:15; 2 Cor. 4:4). This going forth of the Father toward the Son in approval is love (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; John 3:35; 10:17, etc.), and is from eternity (John 17:24); but it does not stop with the other self, it extends to all rational beings. So the Father loves the world, and especially the church, in the Son (John 17:26; Eph. 1:4), not merely because they are united with him, but because they are rational beings; and so, at least to some extent, worthy objects of the going-forth of rational nature in approval and love. But love is only perfected by a bond of union, and the reciprocal love of the Father and the Son has a divine resting, or bond of union, in the Pneuma, or Holy Spirit, of God. This Holy Spirit is the Spirit of the Father, and also the Spirit of Christ (1 Peter 1:11, etc.). He is said to proceed from the Father (John 15:26); and, being the Spirit of both the Father and the Son, may be said to have, in some respects at least, the same relation to both. He is so one with them that his corning is spoken of as the coming of the Father and the Son (John 14:23). Although love is primarily of the Father, the Son reciprocates and shares in it (John 14:31), and the Spirit perfects it; so that we have, also, the expression “the love of the Spirit” (Rom. 15:30), which confirms the idea of the perichoresis of love, in which the Pneuma takes part.
Again, we observed that when the logos acted, and reason expressed itself in form, it was beauty. But beauty raised to grandeur is glory. Therefore the Divine Logos expressing Absolute Reason is glory; and, for this reason, in the Bible, glory is especially connected with the Son. He is “the effulgence of God’s glory” (Heb. 1:3) and the “Lord of glory” (1 Cor. 2:8), and the light of the knowledge of the glory of God is in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 4:6). As joy, the second of the fruits of the Spirit, is the experience of the pneuma when the nous perceives beauty, which is logos expressing itself; so joy is especially associated with the Son, or Divine Logos. Of Jesus Christ we read, “On whom, believing, ye rejoice greatly with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8); also when Christ’s glory is revealed, we may be “glad with exceeding joy” (1 Peter 4:13), and “we joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Rom. 5:n). It is true that joy in the Holy Spirit is also spoken of; but that is because joy is an experience in our pneuma, which is developed or helped in the presence of God’s glory by our union with the Divine Pneuma.
The joy of the Lord is frequently spoken of; e.g. Ps. 104:31, “The glory of the Lord is forever. The Lord shall rejoice in his works.” This may be paraphrased: “The glory of God, which is manifested in his works, being the self-revealing of the Logos, is eternal, and he experiences joy in his Spirit when contemplating them.” The highest experience in ourselves is peace, and this is wrought in our pneuma by the Divine Pneuma. Paul speaks of “the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace,” and of “the communion of the Holy Spirit.” Aside from this, the peace which God has in himself is called blessedness, which is of essentially the same character. There are thus in the Godhead the three experiences of love, joy, and peace, corresponding to the activities of the nous, logos, and pneuma. And we find the Good, the Beautiful, and the True represented by the three hypostases respectively. God the Father is especially the Good One (Matt. 19:17); Christ is, as we have noticed, the glory or beauty of God; and the Holy Spirit is “the Spirit of Truth” (John 14:17; 15:26; 16:13). Christ is called the Truth (John 14:6), but this is in the same sense that he is the Life. This life is from the Holy Spirit; though Christ is the one who secures it for us, and the Spirit of Truth comes to us by his agency, and for this reason he may be called the Truth and Life. Thus we see that the three hypostases in Deity, called the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, correspond exactly in activities and characteristics with the three so called faculties in man’s spirit, i.e. the nous, logos, and pneuma.
It has been customary to call the three hypostases three “persons”; but a person is a being endowed with self-consciousness and free-will. Although we might speak of three forms of will activity, it is not easy to see how there could be three distinct self-consciousnesses normally in Deity, seeing that self-consciousness is the nous going out toward the logos. Yet the Bible teaches that Jesus Christ was a real and perfect man, constituted in all points like his brethren. Therefore he must have had the three,—nous, logos, and pneuma. Paul teaches that the soul and body of Jesus (called “flesh “) were derived from his ancestors (“seed of David”), just as with other men, while his spirit was the divine (Rom. 1:2) Son of God. It is of course absurd to suppose that the Infinite can become finite in essence or nature. But when the Infinite Spirit so unites with an inherited human soul and body that its activity in connection with that soul and body is conditioned by them, they being the agents of that activity, then that activity, including self-consciousness, is limited, and becomes practically equivalent to that of other human spirits in such connection; while the essence and moral character of the Divine Spirit remain unchanged.
This is not Apollinarianism; for by this the humanity of Christ is perfect in all its activities and experiences. It is true that by this the Divine Logos becomes the spirit in Jesus, but not in such a way that no Logos remains in unlimited Deity. The Logos, as such, is not limited, but only its activity in this connection. We simply say that God, who is a spirit, acts as the spirit in Jesus, in union with the inherited soul and body, and in that activity is limited by them, by the limits of their capacities. Nor must we say that, because it was the Logos that became incarnate, the spirit activity in Jesus was without nous or pneuma. Spirit is not divisible, though its activity may be divided; and wherever it acts, it must act as nous, logos, or pneuma. But it is the Logos that reveals; and, as Christ came to reveal God, it could not be other than the Logos that became incarnate. We may illustrate by the case of a tree. A perfect tree is made up of root, stem, and leaves, and the activities of these three are different and more or less distinct. If we wish to have another tree, we take a portion of the stem of that tree and plant it, i.e. put it in circumstances favorable for forming another tree, and soon we have a complete and apparently distinct tree, with root, stein, and leaves. As a general rule, only a portion of the stem will do this, neither root nor leaf can be taken for the purpose; but the piece of stem at once, or very soon, performs the office of the three. Even when a seed is planted, the process is the same; for botanists tell us that the seed is only a modified portion of the stem of the parent tree. So Logos, acting in a separate connection from the normal, must, because it is spirit, act as nous, logos, and pneuma. Therefore Jesus was a perfect man, and there were at least two persons in the Godhead; Jesus Christ being a distinct person, at least as far as self-consciousness is concerned.
It does not necessarily follow from this that the Holy Spirit is a distinct person. The bond of union, not only within Deity, but also with other spirits, is the Pneuma; therefore, when God acts on the spirits of men, it is the Holy Spirit acting, the third hypostasis of Deity, and it is personal activity, because God is a personal being. The separate personality of the Holy Spirit is often argued from the Scripture statements as to the personal acts of the Spirit. But they are personal acts because they are the acts of God, though in a separate class from his other acts. There seem to be no passages speaking of personal acts between the members of the Trinity, except between the Father and the Son, and those only during the incarnation. The love before the foundation of the world, and the glory (John 17:5, 24), as we have seen above, do not indicate separate personality. The personal pronouns used by Christ in speaking of the Spirit in John xiv.-xvi., have been adduced to prove a separate personality of the Spirit. But these pronouns are some of them neuter, while some are masculine, and they vary according to the gender of the noun to which they refer, Pneuma being neuter, and Parakletos masculine; so that nothing is proved by them. The word Parakletos might suggest personality; but it may be a sort of personifying, because the acts are personal acts. In the same connection (14:23), Jesus, speaking of the coming of the Spirit, said: “We will come,” i.e. the Father and I: Therefore the coming of the Spirit is the coming of the Father and the Son, which language could hardly be used if he were a separate personality. Yet the acts of God as Spirit (Pneuma) are just as much personal as if the Pneuma were a separate person from the Father; and therefore the Holy Spirit may be addressed as a person.
It may be said that the fact of there being a distinct personality in Christ proves that there is a difference between the Trinity of Deity and the trinity of man’s spirit. But this does not necessarily follow; for the separate personality in Deity seems to be due to the incarnation, and therefore lasting only from the beginning of his mediatorial work (John 1:14) to the end of his kingdom (1 Cor. 15:28), and in a certain sense not normal to Deity. In some men we have examples of double personality; and, though they are abnormal, due to injury or disease, they yet show the possibility, and even the probability when circumstances require it. Much has been said in recent years about the humanity of Deity, and the naturalness of God’s becoming man. This seems to be brought out better by the exposition given above than by the usual explanations. Although the incarnation is called “abnormal,” this word must not be pressed too far. The incarnation is certainly not the same mode of existence in Deity, as that before the incarnation, as is shown plainly in Phil. 2:7, yet it is not unnatural to God, or contrary to his nature. It helps us to realize better how fully man is in God’s image, and how really he is God’s offspring, fitted for communion with him, and only perfected by that communion.
The trinity of spirit throws light on various passages of Scripture. The “seven spirits of God” (Rev. 4:5) which are seven lamps before the throne, and are also the “seven eyes “of the Lamb (Rev. 5:6), are found in the sevenfold activity of the Divine Pneuma resting upon the spirit of Christ and stimulating all its activities in the nous, logos, and pneuma, each both objectively and subjectively; so that we have the result described in Isa. 11:2, where “the spirit of the Lord” is like the shaft of the candlestick in the temple, bearing three pairs of branches, and itself furnishing the central and highest light The first member of each of the pairs describes an activity relating to the outer world, while the second member is subjective. These sevenfold activities are found in every Christlike believer, as shown by the “fruit of the Spirit” (Gal. 5:22). Here the first three are the activities of the pneuma in relation, respectively, to the work of the nous, logos, and pneuma in other rational being as seen above. They are like the “knot under two branches of the same” (Ex. 25:35) in the golden candlestick, for the second triplets of the “fruit” are the activities of the pneuma, logos, and nous, respectively, in objective relations, and the next three are the same in reverse order, and subjective. Thus the two outer branches —”goodness,” “self-control”—are the two kinds of activity of the nous, and so especially connected with the knop “love,” on the main shaft, while “kindness” and “meekness “belong to the logos, and “long suffering” and “faithfulness” are of the pneuma, resting on the upper knop of “peace.” This illuminates the figure of “the two sons of oil” (Zech. 4:14) receiving the oil of divine grace and shining as lights in the world, representing not merely the anointed king and priest, but also all “witnesses,” who are “children of light” (Eph. 5:9), while “the fruit of the light” (rev. ver.) is described, according to the nous, logos, and pneuma, as “goodness, righteousness, and truth.” Thus the essential and necessary trinity of all spirit elucidates and illuminates the doctrine of the Divine Trinity, the Person of Christ, and the spiritual nature of man.