17. Afterwards I asked where I could find those of the learned with the keenest minds who stood for a Divine trinity divided into three persons. Three of these presented themselves; and I said to them, "How can you divide the Divine trinity into three persons, and assert that each person, by Himself or singly, is God and Lord? Is not a confession of the mouth that God is one thus made as remote from the thought as the south from the north?"
To this they replied, "It is not at all remote, since the three persons possess one essence, and the Divine essence is God. In the world we were guardians of a trinity of persons, and the ward under our charge was our faith; in that faith each Divine person had his office - God the Father to impute and bestow, God the Son to intercede and mediate, and God the Holy Spirit to carry out the work of imputation and mediation."
 But I asked, "What do you mean by the 'Divine essence?'"
They said, "We mean omnipotence, omniscience, omnipresence, immensity, eternity, and equality of majesty."
I replied, "If that essence makes one God of several you might add more yet, for example: a fourth, mentioned by Moses, Ezekiel, and Job, under the name of 'God Schaddai.' Something of this kind was done in Greece and Italy by the ancients, who ascribed equal attributes and a like essence to their gods, for example, to Saturn, Jove, Neptune, Pluto, Apollo, Juno, Diana, Minerva, and even Mercury and Venus; although they could not say that all these were one God. Moreover, yourselves, who are three persons, and as I apprehend alike in learning and therefore in that respect of a similar essence, are not able to combine yourselves into one learned man."
They laughed at this, and said, "You are joking. With the Divine essence it is different: it is not tripartite, but one; not divisible, but indivisible; partition and division do not apply to it. "
 Hearing this I said, "Let us come down to this ground and discuss the matter." And I asked, "What do you mean by a 'person?' and what does the term signify?"
They said, "The term 'person' signifies that which has no part or quality in another, but subsists by itself. Thus do all the heads of the church define it, and we agree with them."
I said, "Is this the definition of 'person'?"
They replied, "It is."
To this I answered, "There is then no part of the Father in the Son, or of either in the Holy Spirit. From this it follows that each is at His own disposal, and possesses His own rights and powers, and therefore there is nothing that joins them together except the will, which is proper to each, and thus communicable at pleasure. Does not this make the three persons three distinct Gods? Listen again: You have also defined 'person' as that which subsists by itself; consequently there are three substances into which you divide the Divine essence; and yet you say that this is incapable of division, since it is one and indivisible. Furthermore, to each substance, that is, to each person, you attribute properties that do not exist in the others, and even cannot be communicated to the others, namely, imputation, mediation, and operation. What can follow from this except that the three 'persons' are three Gods?"
At these remarks they withdrew, saying, "We will canvass these statements and then answer you."
 There was present a wise man who, hearing the arguments, said, "I do not care to view this lofty subject through such fine network; but apart from these subtleties I see clearly that in your thought you have the idea of three Gods; but as you would incur disrepute by publishing this idea openly to all the world (for if you did so you would be called madmen and fools), it is expedient for you, in order to avoid that ignominy, to confess with your lips one God."
But the three, tenacious of their opinions, paid no attention to this; and as they went away they muttered some terms culled from metaphysical lore: from which I saw that metaphysics was their tripod from which they wished to give responses.