Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Doctrinal Treatises of St. Augustin: Chapter 2
Chapter 2.—The Three Things Which are Found in Love Must Be Considered. 705
2. And this being so, let us direct our attention to those three things which we fancy we have found. We are not yet speaking of heavenly things, nor yet of God the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, but of that inadequate image, which yet is an image, that is, man; for our feeble mind perhaps can gaze upon this more familiarly and more easily. Well then, when I, who make this inquiry, love anything, there are three things concerned—myself, and that which I love, and love itself. For I do not love love, except I love a lover; for there is no love where nothing is loved. Therefore there are three things—he who loves, and that which is loved, and love. But what if I love none except myself? Will there not then be two things—that which I love, and love? For he who loves and that which is loved are the same when any one loves himself; just as to love and to be loved, in the same way, is the very same thing when any one loves himself. Since the same thing is said, when it is said, he loves himself, and he is loved by himself. For in that case to love and to be loved are not two different things: just as he who loves and he who is loved are not two different persons. But yet, even so, love and what is loved are still two things. For there is no love when any one loves himself, except when love itself is loved. But it is one thing to love ones self, another to love ones own love. For love is not loved, unless as already loving something; since where nothing is loved there is no love. Therefore there are two things when any one loves himself—love, and that which is loved. For then he that loves and that which is loved are one. Whence it seems that it does not follow that three things are to be understood wherever love is. For let us put aside from the inquiry all the other many things of which a man consists; and in order that we may discover clearly what we are now seeking, as far as in such a subject is possible, let us treat of the mind alone. The mind, then, when it loves itself, discloses two things—mind and love. But what is to love ones self, except to wish to help ones self to the enjoyment of self? And when any one wishes himself to be just as much as he is, then the will is on a par with the mind, and the love is equal to him who loves. And if love is a substance, it is certainly not body, but spirit; and the mind also is not body, but spirit. Yet love and mind are not two spirits, but one spirit; nor yet two essences, but one: and yet here are two things that are one, he that loves and love; or, if you like so to put it, that which is loved and love. And these two, indeed, are mutually said relatively. Since he who loves is referred to love, and love to him who loves. For he who loves, loves with some love, and love is the love of some one who loves. But mind and spirit are not said relatively, but express essence. For mind and spirit do not exist because the mind and spirit of some particular man exists. For if we subtract the body from that which is man, which is so called with the conjunction of body, the mind and spirit remain. But if we subtract him that loves, then there is no love; and if we subtract love, then there is no one that loves. And therefore, in so far as they are mutually referred to one another, they are two; but whereas they are spoken in rep. 127 spect to themselves, each are spirit, and both together also are one spirit; and each are mind, and both together one mind. Where, then, is the trinity? Let us attend as much as we can, and let us invoke the everlasting light, that He may illuminate our darkness, and that we may see in ourselves, as much as we are permitted, the image of God.
[Augustin here begins his discussion of some ternaries that are found in the Finite, that illustrate the trinality of the Infinite. Like all finite analogies, they fail at certain points. In the case chosen—namely, the lover, the loved, and love—the first two are substances, the last is not. The mind is a substance, but its activity in loving is not. In chapter iv. 5, Augustin asserts that “love and knowledge exist substantially, as the mind itself does.” But no psychology, ancient or modern, has ever maintained that the agencies of a spiritual entity or substance are themselves spiritual entity or substances. The activities of the human mind in cognizing, loving, etc., are only its energizing, not its substance.
The ambiguity of the Latin contributes to this error. The mind and its loving, and also the mind and its cognizing, are denominated “duo quædam” the mind, love, and knowledge, are denominated “tria quædem.” By bringing the mind and its love and knowledge under the one term “quædam,” and then giving the meaning of “substance” to “thing,” in “something,” the result follows that all three are alike and equally “substantial.”
This analogy taken from the mind and its activities illustrates the trinality of the Divine essence, but fails to illustrate the substantiality of the three persons. The three Divine persons are not the Divine essence together with two of its activities (such, e.g., as creation and redemption), but the essence in three modes, or “forms,” as St. Paul denominates them in Phil. 3.6Phil. iii. 6
If Augustin could prove his assertion that the activities of the human spirit in knowing and loving are strictly “substantial,” then this ternary would illustrate not only the trinality of the essence, but the essentiality and objectivity of the persons. The fact which he mentions, that knowledge and love are inseparable from the knowing and loving mind, does not prove their equal substantiality with the mind.—W.G.T.S.]
Next: Chapter 3
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