The Trinity -- By: H. B. Smith

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 004:13 (Feb 1847)
Article: The Trinity
Author: H. B. Smith


The Trinity

Rev. H. B. Smith

[Translated from the Theological Lectures of Dr. A. D. C. Twesten, Professor of Theology in the University of Berlin, West Amesbury, Mass. Concluded from No. XII. p. 774.]

§ 6. Character Hypostatics. (I) Notae Internae

Now that we have considered the doctrine of the Trinity as a whole, and have become acquainted with the doctrinal formulas of the church upon the relation of the divine essence to the three Persons of the Godhead, it still remains for us to examine more closely the relations of the Persons to one another, and the peculiar attributes or characteristics belonging to them individually, the sum of which we call their hypostatic or personal character. These are, as we have already signified,1 of two kinds: they have reference, partly, to the internal relations of the Persons in their mode of subsistence (τρόπος ὑπάρξεως) and, partly, to the mode in which the Father, the Son and the Spirit are revealed in the world (τρόπος ἀποκαλύψεως). Accordingly, we distinguish the internal and external characteristics (notae internae et externae), or the internal and external character (character ad intra et ad extra), of the three Persons. The first of these, the internal characteristics, we will consider in this section; and the external characteristics, in the following.

Under internal characteristics we comprise both the order and the manner of subsistence (ordo subsistendi, ratio subsistendi). By the former is meant that the Father is unchangeably the first, the Son the second, and the Holy Spirit the third Person in the Godhead: by the manner of subsistence, which is the necessary condition of the order, is meant that the second Person has the ground of its subsistence in the first, and the third in the first and second. This last rests upon two acts immanent in the divine essence (opera ad intra, actus personales), from which we derive, on the one hand, those three peculiar properties which constitute the notion of the three Persons (proprietates personales); and, on the other handsome other characteristics (called notiones personales), which also serve to distinguish them. We will then proceed to consider the internal characteristics of the Persons of

the Trinity under these four heads: personal acts, personal attributes, personal conceptions, and order of subsistence. Since our later divines are not wholly agreed in their application of this terminology, we will hold fast to the older and stricter usage, from which it will be easier to...

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