The Secret of the Universe, by Nathan R. Wood, , at sacred-texts.com
The inner universe.Human existenceWhy is it what it is?Famous failures to meet the testsSelf-realization, or how we recognize ourselves, and what it reflectsSelf-determination, or how we decide things, and what it reflects"Personal existence itself"The marvelous series of factsEven three personal centres of consciousness"The whole of personal life""A perfect human likeness""In all men"The method of science.
THERE is a more wonderful universe than that which we know as the outer world. It is the inner universe. It is the world within our own souls. You may call it human life, or personal being, or humanity. It is the universe of human existence.
Why is human existence what it is? Is there some great reason for its characteristics and its structure? Why is man constituted exactly as he is? If he grew to be what he is, why was he so constituted as to grow into exactly what he is?
Of what then is human existence constituted? Of what does it consist? Can we see it in a broad and simple, a self-evident way?
The answer to this question cannot be found by plunging into subtleties of metaphysics or psychology. Those are not broad and simple. Nor are speculations, no matter how brilliant, to be classed among self-evident things. The answer is to be gotten rather by standing off and looking at human life in its most obvious,
everyday aspects. There we shall see the broader, simpler structure of human life. Of what does human life as we know it around us, in our friends, in people everywhere,of what does it consist?
Well, first of all, and very obviously, it consists of persons. It is made up of people. Human life, personal life, consists entirely of people, of persons.
Think then of them, of persons. Here is an individual whom you know. In knowing him, you know, as distinguished from all other kinds of things, a person. He is a human being. He is a person.
That, you say, is very simple. So it is. But that is what we want. It is simple, and broad too, and obvious, and fundamental. Here then is an individual whom you know. He is a person.
But that is not all, except in the very shallowest thinking, or the most thoughtless acquaintance with human beings. Suppose that you come to know this person well. You talk with him. You become intimate with him. He tells you his thoughts and feelings. You learn to know why he acts and speaks as he does. You understand his sources of action. Now you say that you know him so well that you know his very nature. We all understand this. You know all of that in him which is back of the person whom most people casually meet and know. You know his nature. That is another great thing, then, about personal existence. You know his nature. You know his inmost primary self.
Now another question, a very simple analysis, not at all abstract, but a matter of daily life. How do you know this person, and this nature back of the person? The answer is evident. You know him as he touches you, as his life comes in contact with your life, and influences
you, and impresses you. You know him, you say, by his personality. We understand clearly what we mean by that. We lay great emphasis upon it in modern life. His personality is he, the person, as he touches the lives of other people. It is the only way in which you can know him. It is the person as he reaches out and influences and impresses you and others. That is a third great thing about personal existence.
Let us gather up what we know. This is what every human being is. A person. Back of the person, a nature. In the lives of others, a personality.
These three things are surely simple and broad. They may never have been gathered together in this way before, it is true, but they are the self-evident elements of personal life. They sum up all that you yourself are, or that anyone else is. They are the three things which every human being is.
Why is human existence just such as this? Why is it in its simple outline exactly what it is? Is there a reason for this threefold structure of human personal life? It cannot be so without some basic reason for it.
Naturally, in view of all that has shown itself to us in the physical universe, one may ask, "Is the reason for this threefold structure of human existence to be found in the universal triunity of Space, and of Matter, and of Time, and in the threefold being of God as presented in the Bible? Is man included in a vast triunity of all things? Is this the explanation of the threefold being of Man, that it reflects God?"
That is not at all to be taken for granted. One cannot jump at so great a conclusion. But it is reasonable to ask the question.
For man is a vital part of the universe. He is bound up in bodily life with space, for his body has dimensions, and with matter, for his body is composed of that, and with time, for his physical existence is a time existence. And he is bound up in soul with those three, also, for he must think spatially, and his soul goes in and out through the doors of the senses, and his mind lives a strictly time existence.
And the being of man does reflect God. Man is much more like God than the physical universe is. That is why we can understand God. The inner world may not be greater than its twin universe, the outer world. For the physical universe seems to be infinite, and the mind is not. At least we know that the physical universe is greater than the mind can comprehend. But the mind is higher, for it can understand itself and this physical universe and God. And it understands God because it is like Him in personal being. In this it is far higher than the physical universe. Does this inner universe of personal existence, then, as we know it in man, agree with the triunity of the outer world and of the God of the Bible, and make that triunity truly universal? Is that why man is what he is?
We know that the being of man reflects God. We know this in a simple but profound way. The things shown to us in the Bible and in Nature about God are confirmed to us by likenesses of them in man. We compare
them with their reflections in the mirror of human existence.
We know for instance what we mean by an omniscient God, a God who knows all things at once, and knows them not simply by reasoning, but by direct vision of all things at once. For we have a faint reflection of that, in our gift of memory, which releases us from seeing only the things of the present, and sees things of other days as though they were to-day. And we, also, have intuitive knowledge, of things back of reasoning. We know our own existence, and God's existence, and mathematical axioms, and that effects follow causes. In our memory and in our intuition we have enough reflection of Divine omniscience to let us comprehend what that omniscience means.
We know what an all-powerful God means. The idea may involve some problems to us, but the essential fact presents no difficulty to our minds. We understand instinctively the supreme, overcoming power of a Divine will. For we know something of it, because of the marvelous power of our human will, which overcomes obstacles, accomplishes the impossible, melts hindrances into channels of power, and carries circumstances before it.
We understand even a God who is omnipresent, everywhere at once,not as an atmosphere is, a part of it here, a part of it there,but in Personal presence,He, the whole of Him, here,He, the whole of Him, there. That is a thing which may truly seem to be without parallel in us. But we have a marvelous faculty, as mysterious in its limited human way as that Divine omnipresence. I sit here at my desk, but this instant I am in London, or in New York, or in the
country, or in India, instantly, absolutely,seeing, thinking and feeling not here but there. In that mysterious and vivid power of transporting myself and my whole consciousness to any distant place, in an instant, so that my mind is there, and is not here,in that which we call imagination,we have a reflection of an omnipresent God.
And a holy God. A sinless God. How can we understand that in God? But, though we are all of us sinful, we do understand His sinlessness, His absolute holiness. We understand it when we are told of it. We could even reckon it without being told of it. For we have a marvelous reflection of it in us, which tells us what holiness means, and leads us to know instinctively that holiness is what personal being at its highest ought to be. We have conscience,which makes us moral beings like Him,conscience, the image and echo in us of the holiness of God, telling us unmistakably what is holy and what is not,what is right and what is wrong.
As for the love of God, how easily we understand that, because we also love.
Although broken and defaced, although dim and dark, man is the mirror of God, and instinctively understands what God is like. Though God is infinite and we are finite, though He is holy and we are sinful, yet we can easily and instinctively understand what He is like, because He is like us, and we are like Him.
Does man then, with a body of space and matter and time, and a mind conditioned also by those things, and in his personal being reflecting all the characteristics of God as shown in the Bible,does man agree in his being with the structure of the universe, and with
what the Bible presents as God's very being, that He is Three in One? These things of which we have been speaking are characteristics of God and of man. But what about the being of man? Does that reflect God? Is that why it is person, nature and personality?
Whether a reflection of God in man is the reason for the structure of human existence depends on whether this threefold being of man in person, nature, and personality is so exactly, or, if you will, so absolutely, like the Triune being of God as found in the Bible, as to be obviously the same principle of being in the Creator and the created. The being of man, if it reflects the being of God, ought to be not less exactly like Him than the physical universe is. It ought to resemble Him even more closely. Is that the case?
The requirements in discovering the answer to that question are not uncertain.
Genuine candor is one,the readiness to take facts as we find them.
Precision is another,a care as great as in any experiment in physical science,accuracy as complete as in any science of the mind,mathematics, or logic, or sane metaphysics,even though it means repetition.
And reality. One should avoid fancies, or ingenuities, or poetic analogies. Ordinary analogies should be ruled out. They have their value as illustrations, especially in public speech. But they prove nothing. The facts should be self-evident. They ought to be in the basis of personal being. They ought to be living facts, and evident in daily life. And they ought to be so genuinely and exactly like the mysterious distinctions and relations in the Biblical Triunity of Father, Son and Spirit,and therefore like the triunity in the space-matter-time
universe, that anyone of open mind can see that they are the same thing, expressed in terms of human life.
For there are certain famous comparisons between the being of man and the Divine Triunity which fall short very surprisingly when one comes to such analysis. They seem to be based on the nature of personal existence in man and so to be arguments for "necessity" in the personal existence of God. Such arguments for something as necessary in the being of God need to be approached with great care. To argue that God must be so and so because man is so and so is likely to be a futile business. We do not know why God is what He is. Surely He is not what He is because of what man is. That is the trouble with arguments that God must be so-and-so because man is. For man and his being are not the cause of God and His Being.
Witness the argument from Divine Love:"God is love. Love must have an object. Eternal love must have an eternal object. That means at least one other person within God."
This implies more than one in God. It emphasizes the richness of God's inward nature and experience. But it does not prove anything from necessity of being in God or man.
For love is not an abstract necessity of being in God or man. "God is love" comes from the Bible, which also tells us that God is Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The Trinity could equally well be used to prove that God must be Love.
Nor is there the basis of such an argument in any reflection in man's being. Love within the circle of one's
own being in man is self-love, which is the opposite of God's love.
Witness the argument from the nature of God as Father. "God is by eternal nature 'Father.' But there cannot be a Father without a child. Therefore the eternal Sonship is necessary to the eternal Fatherhood."
But this is not an argument from necessity. It is an argument from the Bible. It is the Bible which depicts God as Father. The Biblical depiction of God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit is equally valid, and much more direct as an argument for the Trinity in God.
As for a human reflection, there is nothing in man which reflects Fatherhood and Sonship within one being.
The trouble is that arguments from the being of man to prove that God must be similar fall far short of their goal. "For man and his being are not the cause of God and His Being." They do not determine the nature of God. God is not a reflection of man.
If any of these arguments presented something in man which exactly resembles in a finite way the Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in the Bible, they would have the force, not of arguments from necessity, but of confirmatory proof, by such reflection in man, of the Trinity which the Bible presents.
Witness the argument from the older psychology, of intellect, affections and will, or mind, heart and will. It sounds outmoded now, but it has appealed to many in the past.
But it is not certain that this is a necessary threeness,
in God or in man. Where does memory belong? Or imagination? Or conscience?
Neither are intellect, affections and will in any real way like the Three in the Trinity of the Bible. Although Father, Son and Spirit are spiritual, intellect, affections and will do not at all reflect them as Matter does, or Time, in the physical world.
We must turn away from every argument for "necessity" in the being of God, based upon the being of man. They fall short. They do not reach the being of God. "Man and his being are not the cause of God and His Being."
Nor are love, or fatherhood, or mind, heart and will, in man so much like the Three in God in the Bible as to be a reflection of any such Divine Triunity.
If there is a genuine likeness of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in man, it will not prove that God must be so, or show why He is so. Man is not the reason for God's nature. God is the Cause, and man is the creation. God is the Original, of which man is the reflection. But as a reflection, such a likeness in man will be a vivid evidence of the Original.
It has long been known that the act of self-realization, of realizing one's own existence, shows a real, though dim and limited, resemblance to the three distinctions in the Triune Being of God in the Bible.
A person, we say, is one who can say "I." It is one who realizes himself. We do not say "I" unless we realize that we exist, unless we see our own existence.
There are three factors in this process.
1. I, who realize or see. That is absolutely and evidently the first factor.
2. That self whom I see or realize. That is the object of the act of such self-realization.
But one does not realize oneself or one's existence unless one goes further than this. If I see myself, but do not realize that it is myself, if I see my existence, but do not realize that it is my existence, it is not self-realization, and I do not say "I." The kitten chases its tail, and does not recognize it as a part of itself. The baby puts its foot into its mouth, not knowing what it bites. The little child never says "I," but says "Johnny is tired," or "Mary wants a drink," and does not say "I" until self-realization begins. The insane person sees self but thinks it is some one or something else, Napoleon, or Cæsar, or a steam-engine. All these are examples of a process of self-realization which is incomplete because it stops short of the third element. There is, therefore:
3. Myself recognized as myself. Then there is unity, and in the unity there is realization of self. The first, "I who see," and the second, "I who am seen by myself," are united by the completion of the circle in the third, "I who am recognized by myself."
These three somewhat dim distinctions in the process of personal self-realization in several ways reflect the distinctions and relations between the Three Persons of the Trinity in the Bible. There are of course limits to this likeness. These are due largely to the very limited characteristics of these three distinctions in self-realization. And because they are dim and abstract these distinctions cannot be said to be real to most people. They can hardly, for instance, be called three centres
of consciousness, as any likeness of the Divine Triunity in man must be, when no one is actually conscious of them in daily life. They are not as real in experience as the Trinity is to Christians! Something must make them more real and conscious before we can call them three centres of consciousness, or see them as a vivid reflection of the Divine Triunity of the Bible.
There is a more distinct human likeness of centres of personal consciousness. It has appealed to many. It occurs in that daily experience of yours in which you consider what you will do; and look at the problem from this point of view, and then from that point of view, and then from the other point of view,and then decide.
A business man is faced with a question of finance. "Shall I go into this business opportunity? As a financial man, I think I will. It is a sound financial proposition. The returns will be large and steady, and long-continued.""But there is another point of view. As a husband, I am not sure. The business will take me much away from home, altogether too much. My wife and I may even grow somewhat apart. As a husband, I think I will not do it.""And now there is another point of view. Let me consider the question from that point of view. I am a father. If I go into this business, while I shall make money for my children, I shall neglect them personally, just in these years when they and I ought to know each other best. No, I think I will not do it.""But there is another point of view. I must
remember that I am a citizen. This business will give me power, and financial influence. I can use these as a citizen. I can do great good in the community. I can have the strong influence a man ought to have. I don't know,perhaps I will enter this business." "But there is still another point of view. I am a Christian. How does that affect this business opportunity? Why didn't I think of that before! I shall have to do some things in it which I cannot do as a Christian. It is a respectable business, but to succeed in it I shall have to do some things which I cannot do as a Christian. Really, I can't do it." And then, after all these personal points of view, as a business man, as a husband, as a father, as a citizen, and as a Christian, he, the human being, all of these things in one, decides: "I won't do it."
This power to take different points of view, to have all one's consciousness of oneself centered first in one point of view, and then in another, and then another, and then after such division and debate, finally, one's unified self, all these points of view in one, to decide,this truly presents something like personal centres of consciousness in one human being. But they are not three. Nor are they in any way like Father, Son and Holy Spirit in God as presented in the New Testament. Nor are they invariable; they are constantly changing into many varied points of view. They are distinct, and real in daily experience, but unless something makes them three, and invariably the same three, and like the Three in the God of the Bible, they cannot be called a finite reflection of the Divine Triunity of Scripture, such as we find so marvelously in Space, in Matter and in Time.
None of these things are personal existence. They are aspects or activities. They are characteristics of human existence. They are not existence itself.
The being of man, the broad, simple, self-evident structure of human existence itself,that is what we must deal with.
We have already seen that realistic pattern and structure of personal existence, and seen it as Person, Nature and Personality. Some have objected that this triunity in man is new, and not already known in psychology or philosophy. But when all familiar likenesses of the Trinity fail, it would seem that newness is an advantage. In the Outer Universe new vision has not proved a disadvantage.
Then let us ask in regard to that new but very real pattern of human life, in the person, and his inner nature, and his personality affecting others:"Is this what it is because of what God is? Is man what he is because in his threefold person, nature and personality he reflects his Maker?"
This is a matter for careful comparison of those Persons in God as presented by Jesus and the New Testament with these distinctions found in human life. And must there not be accuracy at least as great as in any important experiment in physics or astronomy?
In the Triunity of God in the Bible there is Absolute Threeness. There are never any more than three presented. There are never less than Three.
The distinctions of nature, person and personality in man are in a finite way an absolute threeness. "The
person","back of the person a nature","merging in the lives of others, a personality",there are no other such distinctions in daily actual human life. There are no more than these three. Can you think of any other such factors? There are no more. And there are no less. For one is not a personal being unless all three elements are present.
In the Triunity of God in the Bible each of the three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, is presented as so distinct that no one of the Three can be either of the others. There can be no less than the three.
Each one of the three factors in man is so distinct that no one of the three can be either one of the others. There can be no less than the three.
And in absolute Divine Threeness, such as that of God in the Bible, each of the Three is inevitable to the existence of the others.
In the triunity in man's being each of the three factors is inevitable to the others. Without the person there is no nature or personality. Without the nature there is no person, no personality. And there is no person, no nature, without personality as a consequence.
In the triunity of God in the Bible there is absolute Oneness. The Three are so much One that each one is actually the whole. Each one is not simply a part of God. Each one is the whole. Each is God.
Person, nature and personality in man are also one. They are so much one that each is the whole man. Each one is not simply a part of the man. Each one is the whole.
The person is of course the whole man.
His nature is the whole man, also. His nature is really all of him, all that he actually is, working together
to be the source of what he, the person, says and does.
And his personality,that is the whole man, too, as he affects others. He may try for an artificial personality, based on only a part of himself and his nature. But the totality of what he is will none the less, in spite of himself, and perhaps unconsciously to others, form his personality as it affects others.
Each of these three, then, person, nature and personality, is truly the whole. By that highest test the three are deeply and entirely one.
In the Triunity of God in the Bible the Three, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, are what God is, not simply what he does, or three ways in which he acts. They are three modes of Being.
The three factors in personal human life, the person, the nature, the personality,are manifestly three things which the man is. They are not three things that he does. They are not mainly three ways in which he acts. When he is not acting he is these three. The person is what one is. One's nature is what one is. One's personality is what one is. They are three modes of being.
In all of these tests the simple, realistic, self-evident structure of human life is seen to be an exact human likeness of the Distinctions in the Divine Triunity of the New Testament. But there are other tests. There are all those relations and those characteristics described in the Three in One of the Bible. Is there any likeness to these also in human existence? Can such a mysterious, infinite Triunity as that be paralleled or imaged in a finite human life? This comparison cannot be too careful. We want no poetic analogies or metaphysical
abstractions. This is a time for exactness, a laboratory experiment in the reality of human life. We may be pardoned if we make the experiment one of extreme precision. We need not let this weary us, if we remember that it is the way to certainty, and if we let ourselves feel the thrill of such a series of facts as now unfold themselves before us.
In God as found in the Bible the Father is the source. The Father is unseen. He reveals Himself in the Son.
In man the nature is the source. The nature is unseen. It reveals itself in the person.
In that Triune God the Son is the visible embodiment of the Father. He is begotten, eternally, from the Father.
In this triune man the person is the visible embodiment of the nature. The person is begotten continually from the nature.
The Father reveals Himself in the Son. No man hath seen God. The only-begotten Son, he hath revealed Him. He that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father.
The nature reveals itself in the person. No one has seen the nature by itself. The person, begotten from the nature, reveals it. He who has really seen and known the person has seen the nature.
The Son is the visible embodiment of the whole Godhead, including both Father and Spirit. In him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
The person is the visible embodiment of the whole being, including both nature and personality. In the person, then, dwells the whole being bodily.
In God in the Bible it is the Son who especially acts. He is the executive.
In man in finite life it is the person who especially acts. He is the executive.
The Son works in certain ways, in other lives, by the Spirit. Yet that is also the Son himself working in other lives. The Spirit is his other self.
The person works in certain ways, in other lives, by his personality. Yet that is also the person himself working in other lives. His personality is his other and unseen self in other lives.
The Spirit proceeds, goes out, from the Son. He is not the embodiment of the Son. Quite the contrary. The Spirit is invisible. He is never seen, but He is felt. He works unseen, in other beings. He reveals the Son.
The personality proceeds, goes out, from the person. It is not the embodiment of the person. Quite the contrary. The personality is invisible. It is never seen, but it is felt. It works unseen, in other beings. It reveals the person.
The Spirit proceeds not only from the Son, but from the Father. He proceeds from the Father, through the Son. That is the clear presentation found in the Bible.
The personality proceeds not only from the person, it proceeds from the nature. (There may be an attempt to form an artificial personality, by a false cordiality, a false forcefulness, a false sincerity. But it does not really succeed. The personality, proceeding from the person, proceeds ultimately from the inner and unseen nature of the person.) It proceeds from the nature, through the person. That is the clear presentation found in human life.
The Son sends the Spirit. He sends the Spirit, he tells us, from the Father.
The person sends out his personality. He sends out his personality, as we know, from his inner nature.
The Father sends the Spirit, in the name of the Son, we are told.
The nature sends out the personality, with the name of the person upon it.
The Spirit reveals the Son, but He also just as truly reveals the Father, in and through the Son.
The personality reveals the person, but it also just as truly reveals the nature, in and through the person.
In all of this in God there is a logical, causal order. The Father is first. He is the source of all that God is. The Son is second, embodying and perpetually begotten from the Father. The Spirit is third, proceeding from the Father through the Son. It is not that one is first, one second, one third, in deity, for all are God; nor that one is first, one second, one last, in time, for all are eternal. It is a logical, causal order.
In all of this in man there is a logical, causal order. Nature is first. It is the source of all that you are. Person is second, embodying and perpetually begotten from the nature. Personality is third, proceeding from the nature through the person. It is not that one is first, one second, one third, in identity, for all are you; nor that one is first, one second, one last, in time, for as early and as long as you exist all three exist. It is a logical, causal order.
This surely is absolute likeness! It goes far beyond the likeness between the triunities of space, matter and time and the Biblical Triunity of God. Where are there any parallels like it? It breaks through the realm
of analogies, and becomes identity. We gaze on the same principle, first in terms of Divine life, and then in terms of human life. It is identity, not of substance, but of pattern and structure, extending into every possible detail. As we said in talking of the physical universe and the Biblical Triunity, we can say now of this likeness between the Triunity of God in the Bible and the triunity of man,"They are the same triunity, as the image of yourself in the mirror is more than similar, it is yourself, but in terms not of flesh and blood and spirit, but of glass and quicksilver and light." So it is the same triune structure, in the one case presented in the being of God, in the other in man.
The likeness is so extraordinary,can we then go on to a further test? It was a test impossible for the physical universe. But nature, person and personality lie in the realm of personal existence. Does this extraordinary reflection in man extend its likeness of absolute Triunity to the point of reflecting three Personal centres of consciousness in one Being?
We have found nothing like that. Space has nothing of that kind. Matter and time say "It is not in us." Nor have we seen any such thing in man. "I who see," "I who am seen" and "I who am realized" in self-consciousness are not conscious enough to be three personal centres of consciousness. The points of view in inward debate and decision are not apparently three, but endless. Do Nature, Person and Personality do what self-realization and self-direction do not? Do they present three personal centres of consciousness
in one being? Do they show to our astonished vision a thing as marvelous as that?
We have, as we have said, various centres of personal consciousness in inward debate and decision. We experience them every day. They are intensely real. But they are not three, unless they group themselves in some inevitable way in three habitual, invariable, all-inclusive centres of consciousness. Do they do this? Are they naturally three? How do they group themselves?
We should find the answer, if we can find it at all, in the light of our new three factors of Nature, Person and Personality, the structure of every day human existence. What do these three factors show us?
First, there is the simple, elementary point-of-view or centre-of-consciousness. It is the point from which we think and see first of all. It is the simple, personal point of view,of me, the person, simply as self, and of my proposed action as affecting myself and my so-called personal interests. "Will it be good for me?" "How will it affect me?" "Will it benefit me?" That is the first habitual and universal point of view. There is no wrong in it, if it is not the only point of view.
Second, there is the point of view of my essential, true nature, and of my proposed action as true or false to that nature. "Is it true to my higher nature?" "Is it true to my real self?" That is the second great, inclusive point of view.
Third, there is the point of view of me as related to others, and as my action will affect others,family, community, and so forth. "Will it be good for others?" "Will it make others happy?" "Will it do harm to others?" That is the third great point of view.
All my consciousness in thinking and in deciding centres itself constantly in these three points of view in turn. They include all the possible centres of my consciousness. All of the changing points of view in my swiftly moving consciousness come into these inclusive personal centres,myself as a person,my nature,myself as related to others,in other words, Person, Nature, Personality.
These are the elements of every human life. Their interplay is the story of any human soul.
There, for instance, is the story of every soul as told in a few immortal words,the story of the lost and forgiven son. He said, "Father, give me what belongs to me;" there is one point of view, the person,"what belongs to me;" and from that point of view he did whatever he wanted, "and wasted his substance in riotous living."
But "when he came to himself,"there is a second point of view, his true nature, his true and higher self. Then he said, "I will arise and go unto my Father, and say unto him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven and in thy sight;'" there is the third great point of view, himself as related to others.
That is the story of the human soul.
The indisputable facts dawn upon us, then.
Nature, person, personality, these three simple, essential elements of life in human beings, gather all the possible points of view or centres of personal consciousness in human life into three all-inclusive, constant centres of personal consciousness in one being.
Nature, person and personality are themselves therefore the three all-inclusive, constant centres of all personal consciousness in one being in man.
And these three centres of consciousness in man reflect, as our entire study has shown us, all the distinctions and relations of that vast, mysterious Divine Triunity of Scripture.
In self-realization we saw that there are three distinctions, "I who see," "I who am seen," and "I who am known by myself." Those are, as far as they go, like the Three in the Three in One. But they are dim. And they have very few characteristics. And they are not very conscious. Do Nature, Person and Personality cover also those dim distinctions in self-realization, and make them real and vivid, and clearly conscious, and with characteristics like the Three in One?
The Nature is the innermost, fixed and supreme vantage point from which I see all things. I see all things, unavoidably, from the view-point of my own nature. My nature is the primal "I" which sees. It is "I who see."
The Person is always that which is seen. It is that which is seen by others. It is that which is seen by myself. It is "I who am seen."
Personality is that by which a Person is known. It is I as I touch, affect and influence others and am known by them. It is equally that through which I know myself. It is I as I touch and affect and influence myself as well as others. It is the "I who am known by myself."
Those three centres of personal consciousness,Nature, Person and Personality,cover, as we saw a moment ago, all the points of view in inward decision, or
self-direction,and so make them always three,and only three,and marvelously like the Three in One.
And we can see that Nature, Person and Personality cover the three dim distinctions in self-realization,and make them vivid and real,and centres of consciousness,and openly and clearly like the Three in One.
It hardly needs to be said that there is no thought of calling Nature, Person and Personality three persons in one human being. They are three centres of consciousness in one person. They are a purely human and limited likeness, in purely human terms, of the Three Persons in one Being in the Triunity of the Bible.
But that is exactly what a perfect human reflection should be. It is what an exact translation of such a Divine Triunity into terms of finite human life should be.
Three Persons in one Divine Being means three centres of Personal consciousness at once. It means Three who think at once, who know simultaneously, who act at one and the same time. It means Three who are conscious at one and the same time, and all the time.
The perfect reflection of that in man must be finite. Finite consciousness, such as man's, is limited by laws of succession and of one thing at a time. He thinks one thing after another, and from one point of view after another. He has three great centres of consciousness,nature, person and personality. But as centres of consciousness they are always successive. He shifts from one to another of the three. These shiftings may be, and are, constant, rapid, and endless. But they are always
successive. A perfect human reflection of Three Persons in One should reflect the distinctions and relations of those Three. They should include all the conscious points of view in human life. They should be constant and invariable, the very structure of human life. But as centres of consciousness they should be always successive, not three simultaneous persons in one being, but three invariable points in one consciousness. That perfect finite likeness of the Biblical Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit is what human life marvelously presents.
As in the study of the physical universe and God, two great conclusions emerge again in the study of man and God.
1. The Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit in God the Creator as described in Scripture presents truly an infinite and adequate reason for man's being what he is.
No other reason is needed. Above all other created things, man finds reason and cause for the pattern of his being in the Triune Being of God in whose image man exists. Man reflects everything else about God. His whole being seems to be a reflection of the Divine Being. Even sin cannot conceal this fact. Now we see that above all he reflects such Triunity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. That explains man's pattern of existence. There is nothing else about God which man so marvelously reflects. There are men who are without love, to reflect God's love. There are men who seem to be without imagination, to reflect God's omnipresence. There are men who seem to be without will, to reflect God's omnipotence. There are men who seem to be
without conscience, to reflect the holiness of God. But there are no men without nature, person and personality, however distorted or sinful those things may be, to reflect the Triunity of God. And there is no man who so absolutely reflects the love, the omnipresence, the omnipotence, the holiness of God as every man reflects the Triunity of God.
Perhaps this is why the human soul has always so instinctively and easily accepted the mysterious Triunity of Scripture, just as it has accepted God's love, or wisdom, or power, or goodness. It is because the soul is made in His likeness. It is not because we are thoughtless, but because we are profound. It is because we are like that Triunity ourselves. And perhaps that is why the simple, intuitive vision of children, and of savages, and of the untutored, and the profound intuitive vision of apostles, and saints, and great thinkers, and the simple and profound intuitive vision of every human heart which follows its instinct, has always so readily grasped the teaching of a Triune God. For the soul was made like Him that it might know Him.
2. On the other hand, man, in the absolute likeness of his essential being to the Being of God,Father, Son and Holy Spirit,as described in Scripture, is the highest and most exact confirmation in the universe as we know it of that Divine Triunity.
For such Triunity of God, which ought to be reflected in His universe, ought above all to be reflected in man who is made in His image. And so it is. For man presents in his being a marvelous likeness of that Triunity of Father, Son and Holy Spirit. At every point, in every detail, the essential being of man parallels that Triunity. Even in three centres of personal consciousness
the being of man rises into complete finite likeness of that infinite Triunity. It is supreme confirmation.
It is the method of science. The scientist says, "If such and such a great principle exists in the universe, it will be confirmed by its presence in such and such a place, and in such and such ways." The astronomer argued that the deflection of the planet Uranus from its exact orbit was due to the influence of an unknown planet. He figured that if this were so, then that unknown planet should be discovered exactly at a certain place in the solar system at a certain time. And it was discovered exactly there, confirming the principle. And so we say, "If such a Triunity as Father, Son and Holy Spirit, Three in One, exists in God, it will be confirmed, not only as we have seen it confirmed by the physical universe, but by a similar triunity in finite personal life in man, who as a personal being is made so much in God's likeness." Is it confirmed there? Remarkably. More precisely than anything else about God is confirmed in man's being. More exactly than anything else about the infinite is confirmed by the finite. The method of science, of confirmatory proof, is triumphant in this operation. Never did it work more successfully. An extraordinary Triunity was presented in the Bible and in Christian experience. It was corroborated elaborately by the physical universe. Now it is confirmed again, where it most ought to be, by the same principle exactly translated into finite terms in human life.
"The heavens declare the glory of God." Space, matter and time reflect the Three in One. "And God said, 'Let us make man in our own image.'" Even so He made him, the marvelous mirror and confirmation of the Triune God.