An Alphabetical Analysis
Volume 7 - Doctrinal Truth - Page 98 of 297
At the time this study was being written, a friend was preparing to
undergo an operation.  The malady from which he suffered had influenced his
temper and outlook, and we found ourselves saying, without any need of
explanation 'when the operation is over, he may be a new person'.  Archbishop
Whately in his book The Elements of Logic has an appendix illustrating
certain terms which are peculiarly liable to be used ambiguously.  One of
these terms is the word 'person'.
'Person, in its ordinary use at present, invariably implies a
numerically distinct substance.  Each man is one person, and can be but
one.  It has, also, a peculiar theological sense in which we speak of
"three Persons" of the blessed Trinity.  It was used thus probably by
our Divines as a literal, or perhaps, etymological rendering of the
Latin word "persona"'.
The Archbishop quotes from Dr. Wallis, a mathematician and logician,
'"That which makes these expressions" (viz. respecting the Trinity)
"seem harsh to some of these men, is because they have used themselves to
fancy that notion only of the word person, according to which three men are
accounted three persons, and these three persons accounted to be three men
... The word person (persona) is originally a Latin word, and does not
properly signify a man:" (so that another person must needs imply another
man;) for then the word homo would have served.  "Thus the same man may at
once sustain the person of a king and a father, if he be invested with regal
and paternal authority.  Now because the king and the father are for the most
part not only different persons and different men also, hence it comes to
pass that another person is sometimes supposed to imply another man; but not
always, nor is that the proper sense of the word.  It is Englished in our
dictionary by the state, quality or condition whereby one man differs from
another; and so as the condition alters, the person alters, though the man be
the same"'.
Nearly all who contend for the doctrine of the Trinity, maintain that
God is essentially, and from all eternity, three Persons, but if we use the
word person in its original meaning, it will indicate character, office,
function, temporarily assumed in time and can be spoken of as beginning, or
being limited by time or space, of being subject to suffering, dying, without
intruding such conceptions into the realm of the eternal, the absolute or the
unconditional.  Our problems begin when we transfer the idea of 'persons'
from the realm of the manifest and the ages, to the realm of the timeless,
the essential and the eternal.  Reverting to the definitions given in Lloyd's
dictionary, we read:
A human being represented in fiction or on the stage; a
External appearance; bodily form or appearance.
'If it assume my noble father's person'
(Shakespeare: Hamlet, i. 2).
Human frame; body: as, cleanly in person.
A human being; a being possessed of personality; a man, woman, or
child; a human creature.