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De Moor V:28: The Sublimity of the Doctrine of the Trinity, Part 2

Our AUTHOR resolves the Objections that are asserted in favor of the natural knowledge of this Doctrine; and at the same time shows that it is perilous in the extreme to wish to illustrate this Mystery from Arguments and Similitudes taken from nature.

They Object, 1. various Passages, α. Genesis 1:26; see ALTING’S Dissertation V Heptadis Sextæ, Dissertationibus Academicis, § 3-9, where he appeals to the passage of Moses cited, so that he might prove the Minor of this Syllogism: What God manifested of Himself in Man by Creation, that Man is able to know of God by contemplation of himself. But by Creation God manifested in Man that He is of multiple Persons in one Essence. Therefore, this Man is able to know of God by contemplating himself. Responses: a. In this passage, Man in his Integrity is treated: but the Image of God is not likewise remaining today, as it was formerly in Adam; see Chapter I, § 16. And so the proof of the Minor fails, since the term Man is taken more broadly in the Major and Conclusion, than in the Minor; and argumentation from Man in his Integrity to Fallen Man is here precariously made: whence you might say that this Syllogism is troubled by the fallacy of four terms. b. He was not created in accordance with the image of the Trinity as such; but rather in accordance with the Image of the Triune God. Hence, although Man in his Integrity knew the Triune God by concreated natural Wisdom, Man did not learn this truth by the contemplation of his own created nature: and so the Major is also false: compare below, Chapter XIII, § 4, Part II.

β. Job 35:10; see ALTING’S Dissertation V Heptadis Sextæ, Dissertationibus Academicis, § 14-18. An argument for the plurality of divine Persons is sought in these words of Elihu from the conjunction of the singular and plural divine Name, אֱל֣וֹהַּ עֹשָׂ֑י, Eloah/God my Makers. But, a. although I would not wish altogether to repudiate argumentation of this sort for the plurality of divine Persons, as was indicated in § 14: b. the natural Knowledge of that Mystery is not proven from this passage. Seeing that, a. Elihu speaks of God as He is to be acknowledged; he does not assert that He is thus to be known by all, and that by nature. b. He does not so much speak concerning the Knowledge of God; but rather complains of the neglect of His appropriate worship. c. It would have to be proven that Elihu discourses concerning men destitute of all Revelation; which is with good reason denied: compare the Notas of MICHAELIS, and the Commentarium of SCHULTENS on this passage.

γ. John 1:9, where ὁ Λόγος, the Logos/Word, the Son of God, is proclaimed to be τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, the true light, illuminating πάντα ἄνθρωπον, every man, each and every man, ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον, coming into the world, by their common birth: whence it is presumed that every child of woman by this natural Illumination is able to penetrate to the Knowledge of the Son of God, and hence also of the Father: see ALTING’S Dissertation V Heptadis Sextæ, Dissertationibus Academicis, § 10-13. Responses: a. The Son of God does not illuminate all men equally: for He blesses only some with the Light of supernatural Revelation, and still fewer with the Light of the Grace of the Spirit, efficaciously and savingly illuminating the mind: to others He grants only the Light of Nature, which after the Fall does not rise to the knowledge of this Mystery. He illuminates every man with reason and intellect, say the DUTCH in their marginal Notes: see also TRIGLAND, Antapologia, chapter XXXIII, page 452b. b. Christ as God illuminates all men, not precisely as Son: whence He could be apprehended naturally as that φῶς/light, as God, yet not therefore by men penetrating naturally to the knowledge of His Filiation. c. That ἐρχόμενον εἰς τὸν κόσμον, coming into the world, is perhaps better referred to τὸ φῶς, the light, rather than to πάντα ἄνθρωπον, every man; so that the Coming of this Light into the world is noted, John 18:37; 1 Timothy 1:15, and in addition there is a treatment of the supernatural φωτισμῷ/illumination, not of every man universally to the individual, but of whomever without distinction, which before that time had not thus obtained; just as πᾶς/all is quite frequently used of classes of individuals, not of the individuals of classes: see our AUTHOR’S Exercitationes Textuales XXXIV, Part III. SPANHEIM, Disputatione inaugural de Quinquart. Controv., § 31, opera, tome 3, column 1177: “Thus in John 1:9, ὃ φωτίζει πάντα ἄνθρωπον, which lighteth every man; but if concerning the φωτισμῷ/illumination proper to the elect, understand all, as whoever are illuminated, as we say that the sun illuminates all, namely, whoever enjoys the light, with many otherwise being blind or concealing themselves in darkness:” compare VRIEMOET, Adnotationibus ad Dicta classica Veteris Testamenti, tome III, chapter XIV, page 82, where he observes that in this passage Christ is called τὸ φῶς τὸ ἀληθινόν, the true light, undoubtedly with an allusion to the sun, who also is called τὸ φῶς τοῦ κόσμου τούτου, the light of this world, John 11:9. MELANCHTHON also, in his Commentario on this passage, resolves in an exceptional manner the Objection moved from this passage by the patrons of Universal Grace and Free Will, with his words cited by BOGERMAN[1] in his Annotationibus ad Grotii Partes Ordinis Hollandiæ, chapter II, pages 169-171.

[1] Johannes Bogerman (1576-1637) was a Frisian Reformed Theologian. He served as Professor of Theology at Franeker (1633-1637). He was involved in the production of the Dutch Bible, and was president of the Synod of Dort.

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