Against the Arians"
Source Used: Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 4. Translated by John Henry Newman and Archibald Robertson. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1892.)
First Discourse Against the Arians
Chapter 1. Introduction. Reason for writing; certain personsindifferent about Arianism; Ariansnot Christians, because sectaries always take the name of their founder.
- Of all other heresies which have departed from the truth it is acknowledged that they have but devised a madness, and their irreligiousness has long since become notorious to all men. For that their authors went out from us, it plainly follows, as the blessed John has written, that they never thought nor now think with us. Wherefore, as says the Saviour, in that they gather not with us, they scatter with the devil, and keep an eye on those who slumber, that, by this second sowing of their own mortal poison, they may have companions in death. But, whereas one heresy, and that the last, which has now risen as harbinger of Antichrist, the Arian, as it is called, considering that other heresies, her elder sisters, have been openly proscribed, in her craft and cunning, affects to array herself in Scripture language , like her father the devil, and is forcing her way back into the Church’s paradise — that with the pretence of Christianity, her smooth sophistry (for reason she has none) may deceive men into wrong thoughts of Christ — nay, since she has already seduced certain of the foolish, not only to corrupt their ears, but even to take and eat with Eve, till in their ignorance which ensues they think bitter sweet, and admire this loathsome heresy, on this account I have thought it necessary, at your request, to unrip ‘the folds of its breast-plate ,’ and to show the ill savour of its folly. So while those who are far from it may continue to shun it, those whom it has deceived may repent; and, opening the eyes of their heart, may understand that darkness is not light, nor falsehood truth, nor Arianism good; nay, that those who call these men Christians are in great and grievous error, as neither having studied Scripture, nor understanding Christianity at all, and the faith which it contains.
- For what have they discovered in this heresy like to the religious Faith, that they vainly talk as if its supporters said no evil? This in truth is to call even Caiaphas a Christian, and to reckon the traitor Judas still among the Apostles, and to say that they who asked Barabbas instead of the Saviour did no evil, and to recommend Hymenæus and Alexander as right-minded men, and as if the Apostle slandered them. But neither can a Christian bear to hear this, nor can he consider the man who dared to say it sane in his understanding. For with them for Christ is Arius, as with the Manichees Manichæus; and for Moses and the other saints they have made the discovery of one Sotades , a man whom even Gentiles laugh at, and of the daughter of Herodias. For of the one has Arius imitated the dissolute and effeminate tone, in writing Thaliæ on his model; and the other he has rivalled in her dance, reeling and frolicking in his blasphemies against the Saviour; till the victims of his heresy lose their wits and go foolish, and change the Name of the Lord of glory into the likeness of the ‘image of corruptible man ,’ and for Christians come to be called Arians, bearing this badge of their irreligion. For let them not excuse themselves; nor retort their disgrace on those who are not as they, calling Christians after the names of their teachers , that they themselves may appear to have that Name in the same way. Nor let them make a jest of it, when they feel shame at their disgraceful appellation; rather, if they be ashamed, let them hide their faces, or let them recoil from their own irreligion. For never at any time did Christian people take their title from the Bishops among them, but from the Lord, on whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our teachers, and have ministered the Saviour’s Gospel, yet not from them have we our title, but from Christ we are and are named Christians. But for those who derive the faith which they profess from others, good reason is it they should bear their name, whose property they have become.
- Yes surely; while all of us are and are called Christians after Christ, Marcion broached a heresy a long time since and was cast out; and those who continued with him who ejected him remained Christians; but those who followed Marcion were called Christians no more, but henceforth Marcionites. Thus Valentinus also, and Basilides, and Manichæus, and Simon Magus, have imparted their own name to their followers; and some are accosted as Valentinians, or as Basilidians, or as Manichees, or as Simonians; and other, Cataphrygians from Phrygia, and from Novatus Novatians. So too Meletius, when ejected by Peter the Bishop and Martyr, called his party no longer Christians, but Meletians , and so in consequence when Alexander of blessed memory had cast out Arius, those who remained with Alexander, remained Christians; but those who went out with Arius, left the Saviour’s Name to us who were with Alexander, and as to them they were hence-forward denominated Arians. Behold then, after Alexander’s death too, those who communicate with his successor Athanasius, and those with whom the said Athanasius communicates, are instances of the same rule; none of them bear his name, nor is he named from them, but all in like manner, and as is usual, are called Christians. For though we have a succession of teachers and become their disciples, yet, because we are taught by them the things of Christ, we both are, and are called, Christians all the same. But those who follow the heretics, though they have innumerable successors in their heresy, yet anyhow bear the name of him who devised it. Thus, though Arius be dead, and many of his party have succeeded him, yet those who think with him, as being known from Arius, are called Arians. And, what is a remarkable evidence of this, those of the Greeks who even at this time come into the Church, on giving up the superstition of idols, take the name, not of their catechists, but of the Saviour, and begin to be called Christians instead of Greeks: while those of them who go off to the heretics, and again all who from the Church change to this heresy, abandon Christ’s name, and henceforth are called Arians, as no longer holding Christ’s faith, but having inherited Arius’s madness.
- How then can they be Christians, who for Christians are Ario-maniacs ? Or how are they of the Catholic Church, who have shaken off the Apostolical faith, and become authors of fresh evils? Who, after abandoning the oracles of divine Scripture, call Arius’s Thaliæ a new wisdom? And with reason too, for they are announcing a new heresy. And hence a man may marvel, that, whereas many have written many treatises and abundant homilies upon the Old Testament and the New, yet in none of them is a Thalia found; nay nor among the more respectable of the Gentiles, but among those only who sing such strains over their cups, amid cheers and jokes, when men are merry, that the rest may laugh; till this marvellous Arius, taking no grave pattern, and ignorant even of what is respectable, while he stole largely from other heresies, would be original in the ludicrous, with none but Sotades for his rival. For what beseemed him more, when he would dance forth against the Saviour, than to throw his wretched words of irreligion into dissolute and loose metres? That, while ‘a man,’ as Wisdom says, ‘is known from the utterance of his word ,’ so from those numbers should be seen the writer’s effeminate soul and corruption of thought. In truth, that crafty one did not escape detection; but, for all his many writhings to and fro, like the serpent, he did but fall into the error of the Pharisees. They, that they might transgress the Law, pretended to be anxious for the words of the Law, and that they might deny the expected and then present Lord, were hypocritical with God’s name, and were convicted of blaspheming when they said, ‘Why do You, being a man, make Yourself God,’ and say, ‘I and the Father are one John 10:30?’ And so too, this counterfeit and Sotadean Arius, feigns to speak of God, introducing Scripture language , but is on all sides recognised as godless Arius, denying the Son, and reckoning Him among the creatures.
Chapter 2. Extracts from the Thalia of Arius. Ariusmaintains that God became a Father, and the Son was not always; the Son out of nothing; once He was not; He was not before his generation; He was created; named Wisdom and Word after God’s attributes; made that He might make us; one out of many powers of God; alterable; exalted on God’s foreknowledge of what He was to be; not very God; but called so as others by participation; foreign in essence from the Father; does not knowor see the Father; does not knowHimself.
- Now the commencement of Arius’s Thalia and flippancy, effeminate in tune and nature, runs thus:—
‘According to faith of God’s elect, God’s prudent ones,
Holy children, rightly dividing, God’s Holy Spirit receiving,
Have I learned this from the partakers of wisdom,
Accomplished, divinely taught, and wise in all things.
Along their track, have I been walking, with like opinions.
I the very famous, the much suffering for God’s glory;
And taught of God, I have acquired wisdom and knowledge.’
And the mockeries which he utters in it, repulsive and most irreligious, are such as these :— ‘God was not always a Father.’ but ‘once God was alone, and not yet a Father, but afterwards He became a Father.’ ‘The Son was not always;’ for, whereas all things were made out of nothing, and all existing creatures and works were made, so the Word of God Himself was ‘made out of nothing,’ and ‘once He was not,’ and ‘He was not before His origination,’ but He as others ‘had an origin of creation.’ ‘For God,’ he says, ‘was alone, and the Word as yet was not, nor the Wisdom. Then, wishing to form us, thereupon He made a certain one, and named Him Word and Wisdom and Son, that He might form us by means of Him.’ Accordingly, he says that there are two wisdoms, first, the attribute co-existent with God, and next, that in this wisdom the Son was originated, and was only named Wisdom and Word as partaking of it. ‘For Wisdom,’ says he, ‘by the will of the wise God, had its existence in Wisdom.’ In like manner, he says, that there is another Word in God besides the Son, and that the Son again, as partaking of it, is named Word and Son according to grace. And this too is an idea proper to their heresy, as shown in other works of theirs, that there are many powers; one of which is God’s own by nature and eternal; but that Christ, on the other hand, is not the true power of God; but, as others, one of the so-called powers, one of which, namely, the locust and the caterpillar , is called in Scripture, not merely the power, but the ‘great power.’ The others are many and are like the Son, and of them David speaks in the Psalms, when he says, ‘The Lord of hosts’ or ‘powers.’ And by nature, as all others, so the Word Himself is alterable, and remains good by His own free will, while He chooses; when, however, He wills, He can alter as we can, as being of an alterable nature. For ‘therefore,’ says he, ‘as foreknowing that He would be good, did God by anticipation bestow on Him this glory, which afterwards, as man, He attained from virtue. Thus in consequence of His works fore-known , did God bring it to pass that He being such, should come to be.’
- Moreover he has dared to say, that ‘the Word is not the very God;’ ‘though He is called God, yet He is not very God,’ but ‘by participation of grace, He, as others, is God only in name.’ And, whereas all beings are foreign and different from God in essence, so too is ‘the Word alien and unlike in all things to the Father’s essence and propriety,’ but belongs to things originated and created, and is one of these. Afterwards, as though he had succeeded to the devil’s recklessness, he has stated in his Thalia, that ‘even to the Son the Father is invisible,’ and ‘the Word cannot perfectly and exactly either see or know His own Father.’ but even what He knows and what He sees, He knows and sees ‘in proportion to His own measure,’ as we also know according to our own power. For the Son, too, he says, not only knows not the Father exactly, for He fails in comprehension , but ‘He knows not even His own essence;’— and that ‘the essences of the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, are separate in nature, and estranged, and disconnected, and alien , and without participation of each other ;’ and, in his own words, ‘utterly unlike from each other in essence and glory, unto infinity.’ Thus as to ‘likeness of glory and essence,’ he says that the Word is entirely diverse from both the Father and the Holy Ghost. With such words has the irreligious spoken; maintaining that the Son is distinct by Himself, and in no respect partaker of the Father. These are portions of Arius’s fables as they occur in that jocose composition.
- Who is there that hears all this, nay, the tune of the Thalia, but must hate, and justly hate, this Arius jesting on such matters as on a stage ? Who but must regard him, when he pretends to name God and speak of God, but as the serpent counselling the woman? Who, on reading what follows in his work, but must discern in his irreligious doctrine that error, into which by his sophistries the serpent in the sequel seduced the woman? Who at such blasphemies is not transported? ‘The heaven,’ as the Prophet says, ‘was astonished, and the earth shuddered Jeremiah 2:12 ‘ at the transgression of the Law. But the sun, with greater horror, impatient of the bodily contumelies, which the common Lord of all voluntarily endured for us, turned away, and recalling his rays made that day sunless. And shall not all human kind at Arius’s blasphemies be struck speechless, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, to escape hearing them or seeing their author? Rather, will not the Lord Himself have reason to denounce men so irreligious, nay, so unthankful, in the words which He has already uttered by the prophet Hosea, ‘Woe unto them, for they have fled from Me; destruction upon them, for they have transgressed against Me; though I have redeemed them, yet they have spoken lies against Me Hosea 7:13.’ And soon after, ‘They imagine mischief against Me; they turn away to nothing.’ For to turn away from the Word of God, which is, and to fashion to themselves one that is not, is to fall to what is nothing. For this was why the Ecumenical Council, when Arius thus spoke, cast him from the Church, and anathematized him, as impatient of such irreligion. And ever since has Arius’s error been reckoned for a heresy more than ordinary, being known as Christ’s foe, and harbinger of Antichrist. Though then so great a condemnation be itself of special weight to make men flee from that irreligious heresy , as I said above, yet since certain persons called Christian, either in ignorance or pretence, think it, as I then said, little different from the Truth, and call its professors Christians; proceed we to put some questions to them, according to our powers, thereby to expose the unscrupulousness of the heresy. Perhaps, when thus caught, they will be silenced, and flee from it, as from the sight of a serpent.
Chapter 3. The Importance of the Subject. The Ariansaffect Scripture language, but their doctrine new, as well as unscriptural. Statement of the Catholic doctrine, that the Son is proper to the Father’s substance, and eternal. Restatement of Arianismin contrast, that He is a creature with a beginning: the controversy comes to this issue, whether one whom we are to believein as God, can be so in name only, and is merely a creature. What pretence then for being indifferent in the controversy? The Ariansrely on state patronage, and dare not avow their tenets
- If then the use of certain phrases of divine Scripture changes, in their opinion, the blasphemy of the Thalia into reverent language, of course they ought also to deny Christ with the present Jews, when they see how they study the Law and the Prophets; perhaps too they will deny the Law and the Prophets like Manichees , because the latter read some portions of the Gospels. If such bewilderment and empty speaking be from ignorance, Scripture will teach them, that the devil, the author of heresies, because of the ill savour which attaches to evil, borrows Scripture language, as a cloak wherewith to sow the ground with his own poison also, and to seduce the simple. Thus he deceived Eve; thus he framed former heresies; thus he persuaded Arius at this time to make a show of speaking against those former ones, that he might introduce his own without observation. And yet, after all, the man of craft did not escape. For being irreligious towards the Word of God, he lost his all at once , and betrayed to all men his ignorance of other heresies too ; and having not a particle of truth in his belief, does but pretend to it. For how can he speak truth concerning the Father, who denies the Son, that reveals concerning Him? Or how can he be orthodox concerning the Spirit, while he speaks profanely of the Word that supplies the Spirit? And who will trust him concerning the Resurrection, denying, as he does, Christ for us the first-begotten from the dead? And how shall he not err in respect to His incarnate presence, who is simply ignorant of the Son’s genuine and true generation from the Father? For thus, the former Jews also, denying the Word, and saying, ‘We have no king but Cæsar John 19:15,’ were immediately stripped of all they had, and forfeited the light of the Lamp, the odour of ointment, knowledge of prophecy, and the Truth itself; till now they understand nothing, but are walking as in darkness. For who was ever yet a hearer of such a doctrine ? Or whence or from whom did the abettors and hirelings of the heresy gain it? Who thus expounded to them when they were at school ? Who told them, ‘Abandon the worship of the creation, and then draw near and worship a creature and a work ?’ But if they themselves own that they have heard it now for the first time, how can they deny that this heresy is foreign, and not from our fathers ? But what is not from our fathers, but has come to light in this day, how can it be but that of which the blessed Paul has foretold, that ‘in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, in the hypocrisy of liars; cauterized in their own conscience, and turning from the truth ?’
- For, behold, we take divine Scripture, and thence discourse with freedom of the religious Faith, and set it up as a light upon its candlestick, saying:— Very Son of the Father, natural and genuine, proper to His essence, Wisdom Only-begotten, and Very and Only Word of God is He; not a creature or work, but an offspring proper to the Father’s essence. Wherefore He is very God, existing one in essence with the very Father; while other beings, to whom He said, ‘I said you are Gods ,’ had this grace from the Father, only by participation of the Word, through the Spirit. For He is the expression of the Father’s Person, and Light from Light, and Power, and very Image of the Father’s essence. For this too the Lord has said, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father John 14:9.’ And He ever was and is and never was not. For the Father being everlasting, His Word and His Wisdom must be everlasting. On the other hand, what have these persons to show us from the infamous Thalia? Or, first of all, let them read it themselves, and copy the tone of the writer; at least the mockery which they will encounter from others may instruct them how low they have fallen; and then let them proceed to explain themselves. For what can they say from it, but that ‘God was not always a Father, but became so afterwards; the Son was not always, for He was not before His generation; He is not from the Father, but He, as others, has come into subsistence out of nothing; He is not proper to the Father’s essence, for He is a creature and work?’ And ‘Christ is not very God, but He, as others, was made God by participation; the Son has not exact knowledge of the Father, nor does the Word see the Father perfectly; and neither exactly understands nor knows the Father. He is not the very and only Word of the Father, but is in name only called Word and Wisdom, and is called by grace Son and Power. He is not unalterable, as the Father is, but alterable in nature, as the creatures, and He comes short of apprehending the perfect knowledge of the Father.’ Wonderful this heresy, not plausible even, but making speculations against Him that is, that He be not, and everywhere putting forward blasphemy for reverent language! Were any one, after inquiring into both sides, to be asked, whether of the two he would follow in faith, or whether of the two spoke fitly of God — or rather let them say themselves, these abettors of irreligion, what, if a man be asked concerning God (for ‘the Word was God?’), it were fit to answer. For from this one question the whole case on both sides may be determined, what is fitting to say — He was, or He was not; always, or before His birth; eternal, or from this and from then; true, or by adoption, and from participation and in idea ; to call Him one of things originated, or to unite Him to the Father; to consider Him unlike the Father in essence, or like and proper to Him; a creature, or Him through whom the creatures were originated; that He is the Father’s Word, or that there is another word beside Him, and that by this other He was originated, and by another wisdom; and that He is only named Wisdom and Word, and has become a partaker of this wisdom, and second to it?
- Which of the two theologies sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Son of the Father, this which you vomited forth, or that which we have spoken and maintain from the Scriptures? If the Saviour be not God, nor Word, nor Son, you shall have leave to say what you will, and so shall the Gentiles, and the present Jews. But if He be Word of the Father and true Son, and God from God, and ‘over all blessed for ever Romans 9:5,’ is it not becoming to obliterate and blot out those other phrases and that Arian Thalia, as but a pattern of evil, a store of all irreligion, into which, whoever falls, ‘knows not that giants perish with her, and reaches the depths of Hades ?’ This they know themselves, and in their craft they conceal it, not having the courage to speak out, but uttering something else. For if they speak, a condemnation will follow; and if they be suspected, proofs from Scripture will be cast at them from every side. Wherefore, in their craft, as children of this world, after feeding their so-called lamp from the wild olive, and fearing lest it should soon be quenched (for it is said, ‘the light of the wicked shall be put out Job 18:5,’) they hide it under the bushel of their hypocrisy, and make a different profession, and boast of patronage of friends and authority of Constantius, that what with their hypocrisy and their professions, those who come to them may be kept from seeing how foul their heresy is. Is it not detestable even in this, that it dares not speak out, but is kept hidden by its own friends, and fostered as serpents are? For from what sources have they got together these words? Or from whom have they received what they venture to say ? Not any one man can they specify who has supplied it. For who is there in all mankind, Greek or Barbarian, who ventures to rank among creatures One whom he confesses the while to be God and says, that He was not till He was made? Or who is there, who to the God in whom he has put faith, refuses to give credit, when He says, ‘This is My beloved Son Matthew 3:17,’ on the pretence that He is not a Son, but a creature? Rather, such madness would rouse an universal indignation. Nor does Scripture afford them any pretext; for it has been often shown, and it shall be shown now, that their doctrine is alien to the divine oracles. Therefore, since all that remains is to say that from the devil came their mania (for of such opinions he alone is sower ), proceed we to resist him — for with him is our real conflict, and they are but instruments — that, the Lord aiding us, and the enemy, as he is wont, being overcome with arguments, they may be put to shame, when they see him without resource who sowed this heresy in them, and may learn, though late, that, as being Arians, they are not Christians.
Chapter 4. That the Son is Eternal and Increate. These attributes, being the points in dispute, are first proved by direct texts of Scripture. Concerning the ‘eternal power’ of God in Romans 1:20, which is shown to mean the Son. Remarks on the Arian formula, ‘Once the Son was not,’ its supporters not daring to speak of ‘a time when the Son was not.’
- At his suggestion then you have maintained and you think, that ‘there was once when the Son was not;’ this is the first cloke of your views of doctrine which has to be stripped off. Say then what was once when the Son was not, O slanderous and irreligious men ? If you say the Father, your blasphemy is but greater; for it is impious to say that He was ‘once,’ or to signify Him by the word ‘once.’ For He is ever, and is now, and as the Son is, so is He, and is Himself He that is, and Father of the Son. But if you say that the Son was once, when He Himself was not, the answer is foolish and unmeaning. For how could He both be and not be? In this difficulty, you can but answer, that there was a time when the Word was not; for your very adverb ‘once’ naturally signifies this. And your other, ‘The Son was not before His generation,’ is equivalent to saying, ‘There was once when He was not,’ for both the one and the other signify that there is a time before the Word. Whence then this your discovery? Why do you, as ‘the heathen, rage, and imagine vain phrases against the Lord and against His Christ.’ for no holy Scripture has used such language of the Saviour, but rather ‘always’ and ‘eternal’ and ‘coexistent always with the Father.’ For, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1.’ And in the Apocalypse he thus speaks ; ‘Who is and who was and who is to come.’ Now who can rob ‘who is’ and ‘who was’ of eternity? This too in confutation of the Jews has Paul written in his Epistle to the Romans, ‘Of whom as concerning the flesh is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever Romans 9:5;’ while silencing the Greeks, he has said, ‘The visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead ;’ and what the Power of God is, he teaches us elsewhere himself, ‘Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God.’ Surely in these words he does not designate the Father, as you often whisper one to another, affirming that the Father is ‘His eternal power.’ This is not so; for he says not, ‘God Himself is the power,’ but ‘His is the power.’ Very plain is it to all that ‘His’ is not ‘He;’ yet not something alien but rather proper to Him. Study too the context and ‘turn to the Lord.’ now ‘the Lord is that Spirit ;’and you will see that it is the Son who is signified.
- For after making mention of the creation, he naturally speaks of the Framer’s Power as seen in it, which Power, I say, is the Word of God, by whom all things have been made. If indeed the creation is sufficient of itself alone, without the Son, to make God known, see that you fall not, from thinking that without the Son it has come to be. But if through the Son it has come to be, and ‘in Him all things consist Colossians 1:17,’ it must follow that he who contemplates the creation rightly, is contemplating also the Word who framed it, and through Him begins to apprehend the Father. And if, as the Saviour also says, ‘No one knows the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him Matthew 11:27,’ and if on Philip’s asking, ‘Show us the Father,’ He said not, ‘Behold the creation,’ but, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father John 14:8-9,’ reasonably does Paul — while accusing the Greeks of contemplating the harmony and order of the creation without reflecting on the Framing Word within it (for the creatures witness to their own Framer) so as through the creation to apprehend the true God, and abandon their worship of it — reasonably has he said, ‘His Eternal Power and Godhead Romans 1:20,’ thereby signifying the Son. And where the sacred writers say, ‘Who exists before the ages,’ and ‘By whom He made the ages Hebrews 1:2,’ they thereby as clearly preach the eternal and everlasting being of the Son, even while they are designating God Himself. Thus, if Isaiah says, ‘The Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth Isaiah 40:28;’ and Susanna said, ‘O Everlasting God ;’ and Baruch wrote, ‘I will cry unto the Everlasting in my days,’ and shortly after, ‘My hope is in the Everlasting, that He will save you, and joy has come unto me from the Holy One ;’ yet forasmuch as the Apostle, writing to the Hebrews, says, ‘Who being the radiance of His glory and the Expression of His Person Hebrews 1:3;’ and David too in the eighty-ninth Psalm, ‘And the brightness of the Lord be upon us,’ and, ‘In Your Light shall we see Light ,’ who has so little sense as to doubt of the eternity of the Son ? For when did man see light without the brightness of its radiance, that he may say of the Son, ‘There was once, when He was not,’ or ‘Before His generation He was not.’ And the words addressed to the Son in the hundred and forty-fourth Psalm, ‘Your kingdom is a kingdom of all ages ,’ forbid any one to imagine any interval at all in which the Word did not exist. For if every interval in the ages is measured, and of all the ages the Word is King and Maker, therefore, whereas no interval at all exists prior to Him , it were madness to say, ‘There was once when the Everlasting was not,’ and ‘From nothing is the Son.’ And whereas the Lord Himself says, ‘I am the Truth ,’ not ‘I became the Truth.’ but always, ‘I am — I am the Shepherd, — I am the Light,’— and again, ‘Call Me not, Lord and Master? And you call Me well, for so I am,’ who, hearing such language from God, and the Wisdom, and Word of the Father, speaking of Himself, will any longer hesitate about the truth, and not immediately believe that in the phrase ‘I am,’ is signified that the Son is eternal and without beginning?
- It is plain then from the above that the Scriptures declare the Son’s eternity; it is equally plain from what follows that the Arian phrases ‘He was not,’ and ‘before’ and ‘when,’ are in the same Scriptures predicated of creatures. Moses, for instance, in his account of the generation of our system, says, ‘And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground Genesis 2:5.’ And in Deuteronomy, ‘When the Most High divided to the nations Deuteronomy 32:8.’ And the Lord said in His own Person, ‘If you loved Me, you would rejoice because I said, I go unto the Father, for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it has come to pass, you might believe John 14:28-29.’ And concerning the creation He says by Solomon, ‘Or ever the earth was, when there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth Proverbs 8:23.’ And, ‘Before Abraham was, I am John 8:58.’ And concerning Jeremiah He says, ‘Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you Jeremiah 1:5.’ And David in the Psalm says, ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, You are, God from everlasting and world without end.’ And in Daniel, ‘Susanna cried out with a loud voice and said, O everlasting God, that know the secrets, and know all things before they be.’ Thus it appears that the phrases ‘once was not,’ and ‘before it came to be,’ and ‘when,’ and the like, belong to things originate and creatures, which come out of nothing, but are alien to the Word. But if such terms are used in Scripture of things originate, but ‘ever’ of the Word, it follows, O you enemies of God, that the Son did not come out of nothing, nor is in the number of originated things at all, but is the Father’s Image and Word eternal, never having not been, but being ever, as the eternal Radiance of a Light which is eternal. Why imagine then times before the Son? Or why blaspheme the Word as after times, by whom even the ages were made? For how did time or age at all subsist when the Word, as you say, had not appeared, ‘through’ whom ‘all things have been made and without’ whom ‘not one thing was made John 1:3?’ Or why, when you mean time, do you not plainly say, ‘a time was when the Word was not?’ But while you drop the word ‘time’ to deceive the simple, you do not at all conceal your own feeling, nor, even if you did, could you escape discovery. For you still simply mean times, when you say, ‘There was when He was not,’ and ‘He was not before His generation.’
Chapter 5. Subject Continued. Objection, that the Son’s eternity makes Him coordinate with the Father, introduces the subject of His Divine Sonship, as a second proof of His eternity. The word Son is introduced in a secondary, but is to be understood in real sense. Since all things partake of the Father in partaking of the Son, He is the whole participation of the Father, that is, He is the Son by nature; for to be wholly participated is to beget.
- When these points are thus proved, their profaneness goes further. ‘If there never was, when the Son was not,’ say they, ‘but He is eternal, and coexists with the Father, you call Him no more the Father’s Son, but brother.’ O insensate and contentious! For if we said only that He was eternally with the Father, and not His Son, their pretended scruple would have some plausibility; but if, while we say that He is eternal, we also confess Him to be Son from the Father, how can He that is begotten be considered brother of Him who begets? And if our faith is in Father and Son, what brotherhood is there between them? And how can the Word be called brother of Him whose Word He is? This is not an objection of men really ignorant, for they comprehend how the truth lies; but it is a Jewish pretence, and that from those who, in Solomon’s words, ‘through desire separate themselves Proverbs 18:1 ‘ from the truth. For the Father and the Son were not generated from some pre-existing origin , that we may account Them brothers, but the Father is the Origin of the Son and begot Him; and the Father is Father, and not born the Son of any; and the Son is Son, and not brother. Further, if He is called the eternal offspring of the Father, He is rightly so called. For never was the essence of the Father imperfect, that what is proper to it should be added afterwards ; nor, as man from man, has the Son been begotten, so as to be later than His Father’s existence, but He is God’s offspring, and as being proper Son of God, who is ever, He exists eternally. For, whereas it is proper to men to beget in time, from the imperfection of their nature , God’s offspring is eternal, for His nature is ever perfect. If then He is not a Son, but a work made out of nothing, they have but to prove it; and then they are at liberty, as if imagining about a creature, to cry out, ‘There was once when He was not;’ for things which are originated were not, and have come to be. But if He is Son, as the Father says, and the Scriptures proclaim, and ‘Son’ is nothing else than what is generated from the Father; and what is generated from the Father is His Word, and Wisdom, and Radiance; what is to be said but that, in maintaining ‘Once the Son was not,’ they rob God of His Word, like plunderers, and openly predicate of Him that He was once without His proper Word and Wisdom, and that the Light was once without radiance, and the Fountain was once barren and dry ? For though they pretend alarm at the name of time, because of those who reproach them with it, and say, that He was before times, yet whereas they assign certain intervals, in which they imagine He was not, they are most irreligious still, as equally suggesting times, and imputing to God an absence of Reason.
- But if on the other hand, while they acknowledge with us the name of ‘Son,’ from an unwillingness to be publicly and generally condemned, they deny that the Son is the proper offspring of the Father’s essence, on the ground that this must imply parts and divisions ; what is this but to deny that He is very Son, and only in name to call Him Son at all? And is it not a grievous error, to have material thoughts about what is immaterial, and because of the weakness of their proper nature to deny what is natural and proper to the Father? It does but remain, that they should deny Him also, because they understand not how God is , and what the Father is, now that, foolish men, they measure by themselves the Offspring of the Father. And persons in such a state of mind as to consider that there cannot be a Son of God, demand our pity; but they must be interrogated and exposed for the chance of bringing them to their senses. If then, as you say, ‘the Son is from nothing,’ and ‘was not before His generation,’ He, of course, as well as others, must be called Son and God and Wisdom only by participation; for thus all other creatures consist, and by sanctification are glorified. You have to tell us then, of what He is partaker. All other things partake of the Spirit, but He, according to you, of what is He partaker? Of the Spirit? Nay, rather the Spirit Himself takes from the Son, as He Himself says; and it is not reasonable to say that the latter is sanctified by the former. Therefore it is the Father that He partakes; for this only remains to say. But this, which is participated, what is it or whence ? If it be something external provided by the Father, He will not now be partaker of the Father, but of what is external to Him; and no longer will He be even second after the Father, since He has before Him this other; nor can He be called Son of the Father, but of that, as partaking which He has been called Son and God. And if this be unseemly and irreligious, when the Father says, ‘This is My Beloved Son Matthew 3:17,’ and when the Son says that God is His own Father, it follows that what is partaken is not external, but from the essence of the Father. And as to this again, if it be other than the essence of the Son, an equal extravagance will meet us; there being in that case something between this that is from the Father and the essence of the Son, whatever that be.
- Such thoughts then being evidently unseemly and untrue, we are driven to say that what is from the essence of the Father, and proper to Him, is entirely the Son; for it is all one to say that God is wholly participated, and that He begets; and what does begetting signify but a Son? And thus of the Son Himself, all things partake according to the grace of the Spirit coming from Him ; and this shows that the Son Himself partakes of nothing, but what is partaken from the Father, is the Son; for, as partaking of the Son Himself, we are said to partake of God; and this is what Peter said ‘that you may be partakers in a divine nature 2 Peter 1:4;’ as says too the Apostle, ‘Do you not know, that you are a temple of God.’ and, ‘We are the temple of a living God.’ And beholding the Son, we see the Father; for the thought and comprehension of the Son, is knowledge concerning the Father, because He is His proper offspring from His essence. And since to be partaken no one of us would ever call affection or division of God’s essence (for it has been shown and acknowledged that God is participated, and to be participated is the same thing as to beget); therefore that which is begotten is neither affection nor division of that blessed essence. Hence it is not incredible that God should have a Son, the Offspring of His own essence; nor do we imply affection or division of God’s essence, when we speak of ‘Son’ and ‘Offspring;’ but rather, as acknowledging the genuine, and true, and Only-begotten of God, so we believe. If then, as we have stated and are showing, what is the Offspring of the Father’s essence be the Son, we cannot hesitate, rather we must be certain, that the same is the Wisdom and Word of the Father, in and through whom He creates and makes all things; and His Brightness too, in whom He enlightens all things, and is revealed to whom He will; and His Expression and Image also, in whom He is contemplated and known, wherefore ‘He and His Father are one John 10:30,’ and whoever looks on Him looks on the Father; and the Christ, in whom all things are redeemed, and the new creation wrought afresh. And on the other hand, the Son being such Offspring, it is not fitting, rather it is full of peril, to say, that He is a work out of nothing, or that He was not before His generation. For he who thus speaks of that which is proper to the Father’s essence, already blasphemes the Father Himself ; since he really thinks of Him what he falsely imagines of His offspring.
Chapter 6. Subject Continued. Third proof of the Son’s eternity, viz. from other titles indicative of His coessentiality; as the Creator; One of the Blessed Trinity; as Wisdom; as Word; as Image. If the Son is a perfect Image of the Father, why is He not a Father also? Because God, being perfect, is not the origin of a race. Only the Father a Father because the Only Father, only the Son a Son because the Only Son. Men are not really fathers and really sons, but shadows of the True. The Son does not become a Father, because He has received from the Father to be immutable and ever the same
- This is of itself a sufficient refutation of the Arian heresy; however, its heterodoxy will appear also from the following:— If God be Maker and Creator, and create His works through the Son, and we cannot regard things which come to be, except as being through the Word, is it not blasphemous, God being Maker, to say, that His Framing Word and His Wisdom once was not? It is the same as saying, that God is not Maker, if He had not His proper Framing Word which is from Him, but that that by which He frames, accrues to Him from without , and is alien from Him, and unlike in essence. Next, let them tell us this — or rather learn from it how irreligious they are in saying, ‘Once He was not,’ and, ‘He was not before His generation;’— for if the Word is not with the Father from everlasting, the Triad is not everlasting; but a Monad was first, and afterwards by addition it became a Triad; and so as time went on, it seems what we know concerning God grew and took shape. And further, if the Son is not proper offspring of the Father’s essence, but of nothing has come to be, then of nothing the Triad consists, and once there was not a Triad, but a Monad; and a Triad once with deficiency, and then complete; deficient, before the Son was originated, complete when He had come to be; and henceforth a thing originated is reckoned with the Creator, and what once was not has divine worship and glory with Him who was ever. Nay, what is more serious still, the Triad is discovered to be unlike Itself, consisting of strange and alien natures and essences. And this, in other words, is saying, that the Triad has an originated consistence. What sort of a religion then is this, which is not even like itself, but is in process of completion as time goes on, and is now not thus, and then again thus? For probably it will receive some fresh accession, and so on without limit, since at first and at starting it took its consistence by way of accessions. And so undoubtedly it may decrease on the contrary, for what is added plainly admits of being subtracted.
- But this is not so: perish the thought; the Triad is not originated; but there is an eternal and one Godhead in a Triad, and there is one Glory of the Holy Triad. And you presume to divide it into different natures; the Father being eternal, yet you say of the Word which is seated by Him, ‘Once He was not;’ and, whereas the Son is seated by the Father, yet you think to place Him far from Him. The Triad is Creator and Framer, and you fear not to degrade It to things which are from nothing; you scruple not to equal servile beings to the nobility of the Triad, and to rank the King, the Lord of Sabaoth with subjects. Cease this confusion of things unassociable, or rather of things which are not with Him who is. Such statements do not glorify and honour the Lord, but the reverse; for he who dishonours the Son, dishonours also the Father. For if the doctrine of God is now perfect in a Triad, and this is the true and only Religion, and this is the good and the truth, it must have been always so, unless the good and the truth be something that came after, and the doctrine of God is completed by additions. I say, it must have been eternally so; but if not eternally, not so at present either, but at present so, as you suppose it was from the beginning — I mean, not a Triad now. But such heretics no Christian would bear; it belongs to Greeks, to introduce an originated Triad, and to level It with things originate; for these do admit of deficiencies and additions; but the faith of Christians acknowledges the blessed Triad as unalterable and perfect and ever what It was, neither adding to It what is more, nor imputing to It any loss (for both ideas are irreligious), and therefore it dissociates It from all things generated, and it guards as indivisible and worships the unity of the Godhead Itself; and shuns the Arian blasphemies, and confesses and acknowledges that the Son was ever; for He is eternal, as is the Father, of whom He is the Eternal Word, — to which subject let us now return again.
- If God be, and be called, the Fountain of wisdom and life — as He says by Jeremiah, ‘They have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters Jeremiah 2:13;’ and again, ‘A glorious high throne from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary; O Lord, the Hope of Israel, all that forsake You shall be ashamed, and they that depart from Me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the Fountain of living waters ;’ and in the book of Baruch it is written, ‘You have forsaken the Fountain of wisdom Baruch 3:12,’— this implies that life and wisdom are not foreign to the Essence of the Fountain, but are proper to It, nor were at any time without existence, but were always. Now the Son is all this, who says, ‘I am the Life John 14:6,’ and, ‘I Wisdom dwell with prudence Proverbs 8:12.’ Is it not then irreligious to say, ‘Once the Son was not?’ for it is all one with saying, ‘Once the Fountain was dry, destitute of Life and Wisdom.’ But a fountain it would then cease to be; for what begets not from itself, is not a fountain. What a load of extravagance! For God promises that those who do His will shall be as a fountain which the water fails not, saying by Isaiah the prophet, ‘And the Lord shall satisfy your soul in drought, and make your bones fat; and you shall be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not Isaiah 58:11.’ And yet these, whereas God is called and is a Fountain of wisdom, dare to insult Him as barren and void of His proper Wisdom. But their doctrine is false; truth witnessing that God is the eternal Fountain of His proper Wisdom; and, if the Fountain be eternal, the Wisdom also must needs be eternal. For in It were all things made, as David says in the Psalm, ‘In Wisdom have You made them all ;’ and Solomon says, ‘The Lord by Wisdom has formed the earth, by understanding has He established the heavens Proverbs 3:19.’ And this Wisdom is the Word, and by Him, as John says, ‘all things were made,’ and ‘without Him was made not one thing.’ And this Word is Christ; for ‘there is One God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him 1 Corinthians 8:6.’ And if all things are through Him, He Himself is not to be reckoned with that ‘all.’ For he who dares to call Him, through whom are things, one of that ‘all,’ surely will have like speculations concerning God, from whom are all. But if he shrinks from this as unseemly, and excludes God from that all, it is but consistent that he should also exclude from that all the Only-Begotten Son, as being proper to the Father’s essence. And, if He be not one of the all , it is sin to say concerning Him, ‘He was not,’ and ‘He was not before His generation.’ Such words may be used of the creatures; but as to the Son, He is such as the Father is, of whose essence He is proper Offspring, Word, and Wisdom. For this is proper to the Son, as regards the Father, and this shows that the Father is proper to the Son; that we may neither say that God was ever without Word , nor that the Son was non-existent. For wherefore a Son, if not from Him? Or wherefore Word and Wisdom, if not ever proper to Him?
- When then was God without that which is proper to Him? Or how can a man consider that which is proper, as foreign and alien in essence? For other things, according to the nature of things originate, are without likeness in essence with the Maker; but are external to Him, made by the Word at His grace and will, and thus admit of ceasing to be, if it so pleases Him who made them ; for such is the nature of things originate. But as to what is proper to the Father’s essence (for this we have already found to be the Son), what daring is it in irreligion to say that ‘This comes from nothing,’ and that ‘It was not before generation,’ but was adventitious , and can at some time cease to be again? Let a person only dwell upon this thought, and he will discern how the perfection and the plenitude of the Father’s essence is impaired by this heresy; however, he will see its unseemliness still more clearly, if he considers that the Son is the Image and Radiance of the Father, and Expression, and Truth. For if, when Light exists, there be withal its Image, viz. Radiance, and, a Subsistence existing, there be of it the entire Expression, and, a Father existing, there be His Truth (viz. the Son); let them consider what depths of irreligion they fall into, who make time the measure of the Image and Form of the Godhead. For if the Son was not before His generation, Truth was not always in God, which it were a sin to say; for, since the Father was, there was ever in Him the Truth, which is the Son, who says, ‘I am the Truth John 14:6.’ And the Subsistence existing, of course there was immediately its Expression and Image; for God’s Image is not delineated from without , but God Himself has begotten it; in which seeing Himself, He has delight, as the Son Himself says, ‘I was His delight Proverbs 8:30.’ When then did the Father not see Himself in His own Image? Or when had He not delight, that a man should dare to say, ‘the Image is out of nothing,’ and ‘The Father had not delight before the Image was originated?’ and how should the Maker and Creator see Himself in a created and originated essence? For such as is the Father, such must be the Image.
- Proceed we then to consider the attributes of the Father, and we shall come to know whether this Image is really His. The Father is eternal, immortal, powerful, light, King, Sovereign, God, Lord, Creator, and Maker. These attributes must be in the Image, to make it true that he ‘that has seen’ the Son ‘has seen the Father John 14:9.’ If the Son be not all this, but, as the Arians consider, originate, and not eternal, this is not a true Image of the Father, unless indeed they give up shame, and go on to say, that the title of Image, given to the Son, is not a token of a similar essence , but His name only. But this, on the other hand, O you enemies of Christ, is not an Image, nor is it an Expression. For what is the likeness of what is out of nothing to Him who brought what was nothing into being? Or how can that which is not, be like Him that is, being short of Him in once not being, and in its having its place among things originate? However, such the Arians wishing Him to be, devised for themselves arguments such as this —’If the Son is the Father’s offspring and Image, and is like in all things to the Father, then it necessarily holds that as He is begotten, so He begets, and He too becomes father of a son. And again, he who is begotten from Him, begets in his turn, and so on without limit; for this is to make the Begotten like Him that begot Him.’ Authors of blasphemy, verily, are these foes of God! Who, sooner than confess that the Son is the Father’s Image , conceive material and earthly ideas concerning the Father Himself, ascribing to Him severings and effluences and influences. If then God be as man, let Him become also a parent as man, so that His Son should be father of another, and so in succession one from another, till the series they imagine grows into a multitude of gods. But if God be not as man, as He is not, we must not impute to Him the attributes of man. For brutes and men, after a Creator has begun them, are begotten by succession; and the son, having been begotten of a father who was a son, becomes accordingly in his turn a father to a son, in inheriting from his father that by which he himself has come to be. Hence in such instances there is not, properly speaking, either father or son, nor do the father and the son stay in their respective characters, for the son himself becomes a father, being son of his father, but father of his son. But it is not so in the Godhead; for not as man is God; for the Father is not from a father; therefore does He not beget one who shall become a father; nor is the Son from effluence of the Father, nor is He begotten from a father that was begotten; therefore neither is He begotten so as to beget. Thus it belongs to the Godhead alone, that the Father is properly father, and the Son properly son, and in Them, and Them only, does it hold that the Father is ever Father and the Son ever Son.
- Therefore he who asks why the Son is not to beget a son, must inquire why the Father had not a father. But both suppositions are unseemly and full of impiety. For as the Father is ever Father and never could become Son, so the Son is ever Son and never could become Father. For in this rather is He shown to be the Father’s Expression and Image, remaining what He is and not changing, but thus receiving from the Father to be one and the same. If then the Father change, let the Image change; for so is the Image and Radiance in its relation towards Him who begot It. But if the Father is unalterable, and what He is that He continues, necessarily does the Image also continue what He is, and will not alter. Now He is Son from the Father; therefore He will not become other than is proper to the Father’s essence. Idly then have the foolish ones devised this objection also, wishing to separate the Image from the Father, that they might level the Son with things originated.
Chapter 7. Objections to the Foregoing Proof. Whether, in the generation of the Son, God made One that was already, or One that was not.
22 (continued). Ranking Him among these, according to the teaching of Eusebius, and accounting Him such as the things which come into being through Him, Arius and his fellows revolted from the truth, and used, when they commenced this heresy, to go about with dishonest phrases which they had got together; nay, up to this time some of them , when they fall in with boys in the market-place, question them, not out of divine Scripture, but thus, as if bursting with ‘the abundance of their heart Matthew 12:34;’— ‘He who is, did He make him who was not, from that which was [not], or him who was? Therefore did He make the Son, whereas He was, or whereas He was not ?’ And again, ‘Is the Unoriginate one or two?’ and ‘Has He free will, and yet does not alter at His own choice, as being of an alterable nature? For He is not as a stone to remain by Himself unmoveable.’ Next they turn to silly women, and address them in turn in this womanish language; ‘Had you a son before bearing? Now, as you had not, so neither was the Son of God before His generation.’ In such language do the disgraceful men sport and revel, and liken God to men, pretending to be Christians, but changing God’s glory ‘into an image made like to corruptible man. ‘
- Words so senseless and dull deserved no answer at all; however, lest their heresy appear to have any foundation, it may be right, though we go out of the way for it, to refute them even here, especially on account of the silly women who are so readily deceived by them. When they thus speak, they should have inquired of an architect, whether he can build without materials; and if he cannot, whether it follows that God could not make the universe without materials. Or they should have asked every man, whether he can be without place; and if he cannot, whether it follows that God is in place, that so they may be brought to shame even by their audience. Or why is it that, on hearing that God has a Son, they deny Him by the parallel of themselves; whereas, if they hear that He creates and makes, no longer do they object their human ideas? They ought in creation also to entertain the same, and to supply God with materials, and so deny Him to be Creator, till they end in grovelling with Manichees. But if the bare idea of God transcends such thoughts, and, on very first hearing, a man believes and knows that He is in being, not as we are, and yet in being as God, and creates not as man creates, but yet creates as God, it is plain that He begets also not as men beget, but begets as God. For God does not make man His pattern; but rather we men, for that God is properly, and alone truly , Father of His Son, are also called fathers of our own children; for of Him ‘is every fatherhood in heaven and earth named Ephesians 3:15.’ And their positions, while unscrutinized, have a show of sense; but if any one scrutinize them by reason, they will be found to incur much derision and mockery.
- For first of all, as to their first question, which is such as this, how dull and vague it is! They do not explain who it is they ask about, so as to allow of an answer, but they say abstractedly, ‘He who is,’ ‘him who is not.’ Who then ‘is,’ and what ‘are not,’ O Arians? Or who ‘is,’ and who ‘is not?’ what are said ‘to be,’ what ‘not to be?’ for He that is, can make things which are not, and which are, and which were before. For instance, carpenter, and goldsmith, and potter, each, according to his own art, works upon materials previously existing, making what vessels he pleases; and the God of all Himself, having taken the dust of the earth existing and already brought to be, fashions man; that very earth, however, whereas it was not once, He has at one time made by His own Word. If then this is the meaning of their question, the creature on the one hand plainly was not before its origination, and men, on the other, work the existing material; and thus their reasoning is inconsequent, since both ‘what is’ becomes, and ‘what is not’ becomes, as these instances show. But if they speak concerning God and His Word, let them complete their question and then ask, Was the God, ‘who is,’ ever without Reason? And, whereas He is Light, was He ray-less? Or was He always Father of the Word? Or again in this manner. Has the Father ‘who is’ made the Word ‘who is not,’ or has He ever with Him His Word, as the proper offspring of His substance? This will show them that they do but presume and venture on sophisms about God and Him who is from Him. Who indeed can bear to hear them say that God was ever without Reason? This is what they fall into a second time, though endeavouring in vain to escape it and to hide it with their sophisms. Nay, one would fain not hear them disputing at all, that God was not always Father, but became so afterwards (which is necessary for their fantasy, that His Word once was not), considering the number of the proofs already adduced against them; while John besides says, ‘The Word was John 1:1,’ and Paul again writes, ‘Who being the brightness of His glory Hebrews 1:3,’ and, ‘Who is over all, God blessed forever. Amen Romans 9:5.’
- They had best have been silent; but since it is otherwise, it remains to meet their shameless question with a bold retort. Perhaps on seeing the counter absurdities which beset themselves, they may cease to fight against the truth. After many prayers then that God would be gracious to us, thus we might ask them in turn; God who is, has He so become, whereas He was not? Or is He also before His coming into being? Whereas He is, did He make Himself, or is He of nothing, and being nothing before, did He suddenly appear Himself? Unseemly is such an enquiry, both unseemly and very blasphemous, yet parallel with theirs; for the answer they make abounds in irreligion. But if it be blasphemous and utterly irreligious thus to inquire about God, it will be blasphemous too to make the like inquiries about His Word. However, by way of exposing a question so senseless and so dull, it is necessary to answer thus:— whereas God is, He was eternally; since then the Father is ever, His Radiance ever is, which is His Word. And again, God who is, has from Himself His Word who also is; and neither has the Word been added, whereas He was not before, nor was the Father once without Reason. For this assault upon the Son makes the blasphemy recoil upon the Father; as if He devised for Himself a Wisdom, and Word, and Son from without ; for whichever of these titles you use, you denote the offspring from the Father, as has been said. So that this their objection does not hold; and naturally; for denying the Logos they in consequence ask questions which are illogical. As then if a person saw the sun, and then inquired concerning its radiance, and said, ‘Did that which is make that which was, or that which was not,’ he would be held not to reason sensibly, but to be utterly mazed, because he fancied what is from the Light to be external to it, and was raising questions, when and where and whether it were made; in like manner, thus to speculate concerning the Son and the Father and thus to inquire, is far greater madness, for it is to conceive of the Word of the Father as external to Him, and to idly call the natural offspring a work, with the avowal, ‘He was not before His generation.’ Nay, let them over and above take this answer to their question — The Father who was, made the Son who was, for ‘the Word was made flesh John 1:14;’ and, whereas He was Son of God, He made Him in consummation of the ages also Son of Man, unless forsooth, after the Samosatene, they affirm that He did not even exist at all, till He became man.
- This is sufficient from us in answer to their first question. And now on your part, O Arians, remembering your own words, tell us whether He who was needed one who was not for the framing of the universe, or one who was? You said that He made for Himself His Son out of nothing, as an instrument whereby to make the universe. Which then is superior, that which needs or that which supplies the need? Or does not each supply the deficiency of the other? You rather prove the weakness of the Maker, if He had not power of Himself to make the universe, but provided for Himself an instrument from without , as carpenter might do or shipwright, unable to work anything without adze and saw! Can anything be more irreligious? Yet why should one dwell on its heinousness, when enough has gone before to show that their doctrine is a mere fantasy?
Chapter 8. Objections Continued. Whether we may decide the question by the parallel of human sons, which are born later than their parents. No, for the force of the analogy lies in the idea of connaturality. Time is not involved in the idea of Son, but is adventitious to it, and does not attach to God, because He is without parts and passions. The titles Word and Wisdom guard our thoughts of Him and His Son from this misconception. God not a Father, as a Creator, in posse from eternity, because creation does not relate to the essence of God, as generation does.
- (continued). Nor is answer needful to their other very simple and foolish inquiry, which they put to silly women; or none besides that which has been already given, namely, that it is not suitable to measure divine generation by the nature of men. However, that as before they may pass judgment on themselves, it is well to meet them on the same ground, thus:— Plainly, if they inquire of parents concerning their son, let them consider whence is the child which is begotten. For, granting the parent had not a son before his begetting, still, after having him, he had him, not as external or as foreign, but as from himself, and proper to his essence and his exact image, so that the former is beheld in the latter, and the latter is contemplated in the former. If then they assume from human examples that generation implies time, why not from the same infer that it implies the Natural and the Proper , instead of extracting serpent-like from the earth only what turns to poison? Those who ask of parents, and say, ‘Had you a son before you begot him?’ should add, ‘And if you had a son, did you purchase him from without as a house or any other possession.’ And then you would be answered, ‘He is not from without, but from myself. For things which are from without are possessions, and pass from one to another; but my son is from me, proper and similar to my essence, not become mine from another, but begotten of me; wherefore I too am wholly in him, while I remain myself what I am.’ For so it is; though the parent be distinct in time, as being man, who himself has come to be in time, yet he too would have had his child ever coexistent with him, but that his nature was a restraint and made it impossible. For Levi too was already in the loins of his great-grandfather, before his own actual generation, or that of his grandfather. When then the man comes to that age at which nature supplies the power, immediately, with nature, unrestrained, he becomes father of the son from himself.
- Therefore, if on asking parents about children, they get for answer, that children which are by nature are not from without, but from their parents, let them confess in like manner concerning the Word of God, that He is simply from the Father. And if they make a question of the time, let them say what is to restrain God — for it is necessary to prove their irreligion on the very ground on which their scoff is made — let them tell us, what is there to restrain God from being always Father of the Son; for that what is begotten must be from its father is undeniable. Moreover, they will pass judgment on themselves in attributing such things to God, if, as they questioned women on the subject of time, so they inquire of the sun concerning its radiance, and of the fountain concerning its issue. They will find that these, though an offspring, always exist with those things from which they are. And if parents, such as these, have in common with their children nature and duration, why, if they suppose God inferior to things that come to be , do they not openly say out their own irreligion? But if they do not dare to say this openly, and the Son is confessed to be, not from without, but a natural offspring from the Father, and that there is nothing which is a restraint to God (for not as man is He, but more than the sun, or rather the God of the sun), it follows that the Word is from Him and is ever co-existent with Him, through whom also the Father caused that all things which were not should be. That then the Son comes not of nothing but is eternal and from the Father, is certain even from the nature of the case; and the question of the heretics to parents exposes their perverseness; for they confess the point of nature, and now have been put to shame on the point of time.
- As we said above, so now we repeat, that the divine generation must not be compared to the nature of men, nor the Son considered to be part of God, nor the generation to imply any passion whatever; God is not as man; for men beget passibly, having a transitive nature, which waits for periods by reason of its weakness. But with God this cannot be; for He is not composed of parts, but being impassible and simple, He is impassibly and indivisibly Father of the Son. This again is strongly evidenced and proved by divine Scripture. For the Word of God is His Son, and the Son is the Father’s Word and Wisdom; and Word and Wisdom is neither creature nor part of Him whose Word He is, nor an offspring passibly begotten. Uniting then the two titles, Scripture speaks of ‘Son,’ in order to herald the natural and true offspring of His essence; and, on the other hand, that none may think of the Offspring humanly, while signifying His essence, it also calls Him Word, Wisdom, and Radiance; to teach us that the generation was impassible, and eternal, and worthy of God. What affection then, or what part of the Father is the Word and the Wisdom and the Radiance? So much may be impressed even on these men of folly; for as they asked women concerning God’s Son, so let them inquire of men concerning the Word, and they will find that the word which they put forth is neither an affection of them nor a part of their mind. But if such be the word of men, who are passible and partitive, why speculate they about passions and parts in the instance of the immaterial and indivisible God, that under pretence of reverence they may deny the true and natural generation of the Son? Enough was said above to show that the offspring from God is not an affection; and now it has been shown in particular that the Word is not begotten according to affection. The same may be said of Wisdom; God is not as man; nor must they here think humanly of Him. For, whereas men are capable of wisdom, God partakes in nothing, but is Himself the Father of His own Wisdom, of which whoever partake are given the name of wise. And this Wisdom too is not a passion, nor a part, but an Offspring proper to the Father. Wherefore He is ever Father, nor is the character of Father adventitious to God, lest He seem alterable; for if it is good that He be Father, but has not ever been Father, then good has not ever been in Him.
- But, observe, say they, God was always a Maker, nor is the power of framing adventitious to Him; does it follow then, that, because He is the Framer of all, therefore His works also are eternal, and is it wicked to say of them too, that they were not before origination? Senseless are these Arians; for what likeness is there between Son and work, that they should parallel a father’s with a maker’s function? How is it that, with that difference between offspring and work, which has been shown, they remain so ill-instructed? Let it be repeated then, that a work is external to the nature, but a son is the proper offspring of the essence; it follows that a work need not have been always, for the workman frames it when he will; but an offspring is not subject to will, but is proper to the essence. And a man may be and may be called Maker, though the works are not as yet; but father he cannot be called, nor can he be, unless a son exist. And if they curiously inquire why God, though always with the power to make, does not always make (though this also be the presumption of madmen, for ‘who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His Counsellor?’ or how ‘shall the thing formed say to’ the potter, ‘why did you make me thus ?’ however, not to leave even a weak argument unnoticed), they must be told, that although God always had the power to make, yet the things originated had not the power of being eternal. For they are out of nothing, and therefore were not before their origination; but things which were not before their origination, how could these coexist with the ever-existing God? Wherefore God, looking to what was good for them, then made them all when He saw that, when originated, they were able to abide. And as, though He was able, even from the beginning in the time of Adam, or Noah, or Moses, to send His own Word, yet He sent Him not until the consummation of the ages (for this He saw to be good for the whole creation), so also things originated did He make when He would, and as was good for them. But the Son, not being a work, but proper to the Father’s offspring, always is; for, whereas the Father always is, so what is proper to His essence must always be; and this is His Word and His Wisdom. And that creatures should not be in existence, does not disparage the Maker; for He has the power of framing them, when He wills; but for the offspring not to be ever with the Father, is a disparagement of the perfection of His essence. Wherefore His works were framed, when He would, through His Word; but the Son is ever the proper offspring of the Father’s essence.
Chapter 9. Objections Continued. Whether is the Unoriginate one or two? Inconsistent in Ariansto use an unscriptural word; necessary to define its meaning. Different senses of the word. If it means ‘without Father,’ there is but One Unoriginate; if ‘without beginning or creation,’ there are two. Inconsistency of Asterius. ‘Unoriginate’ a title of God, not in contrast with the Son, but with creatures, as is ‘Almighty,’ or ‘Lord of powers.’ ‘Father’ is the truer title, as not only Scriptural, but implying a Son, and our adoption as sons
- These considerations encourage the faithful, and distress the heretical, perceiving, as they do, their heresy overthrown thereby. Moreover, their further question, ‘whether the Unoriginate be one or two ,’ shows how false are their views, how treacherous and full of guile. Not for the Father’s honour ask they this, but for the dishonour of the Word. Accordingly, should any one, not aware of their craft, answer, ‘the Unoriginated is one,’ immediately they spirit out their own venom, saying, ‘Therefore the Son is among things originated,’ and well have we said, ‘He was not before His generation.’ Thus they make any kind of disturbance and confusion, provided they can but separate the Son from the Father, and reckon the Framer of all among His works. Now first they may be convicted on this score, that, while blaming the Nicene Bishops for their use of phrases not in Scripture, though these not injurious, but subversive of their irreligion, they themselves went off upon the same fault, that is, using words not in Scripture , and those in contumely of the Lord, knowing ‘neither what they say nor whereof they affirm 1 Timothy 1:7.’ For instance, let them ask the Greeks, who have been their instructors (for it is a word of their invention, not Scripture), and when they have been instructed in its various significations, then they will discover that they cannot even question properly, on the subject which they have undertaken. For they have led me to ascertain that by ‘unoriginate’ is meant what has not yet come to be, but is possible to be, as wood which is not yet become, but is capable of becoming, a vessel; and again what neither has nor ever can come to be, as a triangle quadrangular, and an even number odd. For a triangle neither has nor ever can become quadrangular; nor has even ever, nor can ever, become odd. Moreover, by ‘unoriginate’ is meant, what exists, but has not come into being from any, nor having a father at all. Further, Asterius, the unprincipled sophist, the patron too of this heresy, has added in his own treatise, that what is not made, but is ever, is ‘unoriginate.’ They ought then, when they ask the question, to add in what sense they take the word ‘unoriginate,’ and then the parties questioned would be able to answer to the point.
- But if they still are satisfied with merely asking, ‘Is the Unoriginate one or two?’ they must be told first of all, as ill-educated men, that many are such and nothing is such, many, which are capable of origination, and nothing, which is not capable, as has been said. But if they ask according as Asterius ruled it, as if ‘what is not a work but was always’ were unoriginate, then they must constantly be told that the Son as well as the Father must in this sense be called unoriginate. For He is neither in the number of things originated, nor a work, but has ever been with the Father, as has already been shown, in spite of their many variations for the sole sake of speaking against the Lord, ‘He is of nothing’ and ‘He was not before His generation.’ When then, after failing at every turn, they betake themselves to the other sense of the question, ‘existing but not generated of any nor having a father,’ we shall tell them that the unoriginate in this sense is only one, namely the Father; and they will gain nothing by their question. For to say that God is in this sense Unoriginate, does not show that the Son is a thing originated, it being evident from the above proofs that the Word is such as He is who begot Him. Therefore if God be unoriginate, His Image is not originated, but an Offspring , which is His Word and His Wisdom. For what likeness has the originated to the unoriginate? (one must not weary of using repetition;) for if they will have it that the one is like the other, so that he who sees the one beholds the other, they are like to say that the Unoriginate is the image of creatures; the end of which is a confusion of the whole subject, an equalling of things originated with the Unoriginate, and a denial of the Unoriginate by measuring Him with the works; and all to reduce the Son into their number.
- However, I suppose even they will be unwilling to proceed to such lengths, if they follow Asterius the sophist. For he, earnest as he is in his advocacy of the Arian heresy, and maintaining that the Unoriginate is one, runs counter to them in saying, that the Wisdom of God is unoriginate and without beginning also. The following is a passage out of his work : ‘The Blessed Paul said not that he preached Christ the power of God or the wisdom of God, but, without the article, ‘God’s power and God’s wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:24;’ thus preaching that the proper power of God Himself, which is natural to Him and co-existent with Him unoriginatedly, is something besides.’ And again, soon after: ‘However, His eternal power and wisdom, which truth argues to be without beginning and unoriginate; this must surely be one.’ For though, misunderstanding the Apostle’s words, he considered that there were two wisdoms; yet, by speaking still of a wisdom coexistent with Him, he declares that the Unoriginate is not simply one, but that there is another Unoriginate with Him. For what is coexistent, coexists not with itself, but with another. If then they agree with Asterius, let them never ask again, ‘Is the Unoriginate one or two,’ or they will have to contest the point with him; if, on the other hand, they differ even from him, let them not rely upon his treatise, lest, ‘biting one another, they be consumed one of another Galatians 5:15.’ So much on the point of their ignorance; but who can say enough on their crafty character? Who but would justly hate them while possessed by such a madness? For when they were no longer allowed to say ‘out of nothing’ and ‘He was not before His generation,’ they hit upon this word ‘unoriginate,’ that, by saying among the simple that the Son was ‘originate,’ they might imply the very same phrases ‘out of nothing,’ and ‘He once was not;’ for in such phrases things originated and creatures are implied.
- If they have confidence in their own positions, they should stand to them, and not change about so variously ; but this they will not, from an idea that success is easy, if they do but shelter their heresy under color of the word ‘unoriginate.’ Yet after all, this term is not used in contrast with the Son, clamour as they may, but with things originated; and the like may be found in the words ‘Almighty,’ and ‘Lord of the Powers.’ For if we say that the Father has power and mastery over all things by the Word, and the Son rules the Father’s kingdom, and has the power of all, as His Word, and as the Image of the Father, it is quite plain that neither here is the Son reckoned among that all, nor is God called Almighty and Lord with reference to Him, but to those things which through the Son come to be, and over which He exercises power and mastery through the Word. And therefore the Unoriginate is specified not by contrast to the Son, but to the things which through the Son come to be. And excellently: since God is not as things originated, but is their Creator and Framer through the Son. And as the word ‘Unoriginate’ is specified relatively to things originated, so the word ‘Father’ is indicative of the Son. And he who names God Maker and Framer and Unoriginate, regards and apprehends things created and made; and he who calls God Father, thereby conceives and contemplates the Son. And hence one might marvel at the obstinacy which is added to their irreligion, that, whereas the term ‘unoriginate’ has the aforesaid good sense, and admits of being used religiously , they, in their own heresy, bring it forth for the dishonour of the Son, not having read that he who honours the Son honours the Father, and he who dishonours the Son, dishonours the Father. John 5:23 If they had any concern at all for reverent speaking and the honour due to the Father, it became them rather, and this were better and higher, to acknowledge and call God Father, than to give Him this name. For, in calling God unoriginate, they are, as I said before, calling Him from His works, and as Maker only and Framer, supposing that hence they may signify that the Word is a work after their own pleasure. But that he who calls God Father, signifies Him from the Son being well aware that if there be a Son, of necessity through that Son all things originate were created. And they, when they call Him Unoriginate, name Him only from His works, and know not the Son any more than the Greeks; but he who calls God Father, names Him from the Word; and knowing the Word, he acknowledges Him to be Framer of all, and understands that through Him all things have been made.
- Therefore it is more pious and more accurate to signify God from the Son and call Him Father, than to name Him from His works only and call Him Unoriginate. For the latter title, as I have said, does nothing more than signify all the works, individually and collectively, which have come to be at the will of God through the Word; but the title Father has its significance and its bearing only from the Son. And, whereas the Word surpasses things originated, by so much and more does calling God Father surpass the calling Him Unoriginate. For the latter is unscriptural and suspicious, because it has various senses; so that, when a man is asked concerning it, his mind is carried about to many ideas; but the word Father is simple and scriptural, and more accurate, and only implies the Son. And ‘Unoriginate’ is a word of the Greeks, who know not the Son; but ‘Father’ has been acknowledged and vouchsafed by our Lord. For He, knowing Himself whose Son He was, said, ‘I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me;’ and, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father,’ and ‘I and the Father are One ;’ but nowhere is He found to call the Father Unoriginate. Moreover, when He teaches us to pray, He says not, ‘When you pray, say, O God Unoriginate,’ but rather, ‘When you pray, say, Our Father, which art in heaven Luke 11:2.’ And it was His will that the Summary of our faith should have the same bearing, in bidding us be baptized, not into the name of Unoriginate and originate, nor into the name of Creator and creature, but into the Name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. For with such an initiation we too, being numbered among works, are made sons, and using the name of the Father, acknowledge from that name the Word also in the Father Himself. A vain thing then is their argument about the term ‘Unoriginate,’ as is now proved, and nothing more than a fantasy.
Chapter 10. Objections Continued. How the Word has free will, yet without being alterable. He is unalterable because the Image of the Father, proved from texts.
- As to their question whether the Word is alterable , it is superfluous to examine it; it is enough simply to write down what they say, and so to show its daring irreligion. How they trifle, appears from the following questions:— ‘Has He free will, or has He not? Is He good from choice according to free will, and can He, if He will, alter, being of an alterable nature? Or, as wood or stone, has He not His choice free to be moved and incline hither and there?’ It is but agreeable to their heresy thus to speak and think; for, when once they have framed to themselves a God out of nothing and a created Son, of course they also adopt such terms, as being suitable to a creature. However, when in their controversies with Churchmen they hear from them of the real and only Word of the Father, and yet venture thus to speak of Him, does not their doctrine then become the most loathsome that can be found? Is it not enough to distract a man on mere hearing, though unable to reply, and to make him stop his ears, from astonishment at the novelty of what he hears them say, which even to mention is to blaspheme? For if the Word be alterable and changing, where will He stay, and what will be the end of His development? How shall the alterable possibly be like the Unalterable? How should he who has seen the alterable, be considered to have seen the Unalterable? At what state must He arrive, for us to be able to behold in Him the Father? For it is plain that not at all times shall we see the Father in the Son, because the Son is ever altering, and is of changing nature. For the Father is unalterable and unchangeable, and is always in the same state and the same; but if, as they hold, the Son is alterable, and not always the same, but of an ever-changing nature, how can such a one be the Father’s Image, not having the likeness of His unalterableness ? How can He be really in the Father, if His purpose is indeterminate? Nay, perhaps, as being alterable, and advancing daily, He is not perfect yet. But away with such madness of the Arians, and let the truth shine out, and show that they are foolish. For must not He be perfect who is equal to God? And must not He be unalterable, who is one with the Father, and His Son proper to His essence? And the Father’s essence being unalterable, unalterable must be also the proper Offspring from it. And if they slanderously impute alteration to the Word, let them learn how much their own reason is in peril; for from the fruit is the tree known. For this is why he who has seen the Son has seen the Father; and why the knowledge of the Son is knowledge of the Father.
- Therefore the Image of the unalterable God must be unchangeable; for ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever Hebrews 13:8.’ And David in the Psalm says of Him, ‘Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. They shall perish, but You remain; and they all shall wax old as does a garment. And as a vesture shall Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but You are the same, and Your years shall not fail.’ And the Lord Himself says of Himself through the Prophet, ‘See now that I, even I am He,’ and ‘I change not.’ It may be said indeed that what is here signified relates to the Father; yet it suits the Son also to say this, specially because, when made man, He manifests His own identity and unalterableness to such as suppose that by reason of the flesh He is changed and become other than He was. More trustworthy are the saints, or rather the Lord, than the perversity of the irreligious. For Scripture, as in the above-cited passage of the Psalter, signifying under the name of heaven and earth, that the nature of all things originate and created is alterable and changeable, yet excepting the Son from these, shows us thereby that He is no wise a thing originate; nay teaches that He changes everything else, and is Himself not changed, in saying, ‘You are the same, and Your years shall not fail Hebrews 1:12.’ And with reason; for things originate, being from nothing , and not being before their origination, because, in truth, they come to be after not being, have a nature which is changeable; but the Son, being from the Father, and proper to His essence, is unchangeable and unalterable as the Father Himself. For it were sin to say that from that essence which is unalterable was begotten an alterable word and a changeable wisdom. For how is He longer the Word, if He be alterable? Or can that be Wisdom which is changeable? Unless perhaps, as accident in essence , so they would have it, viz. as in any particular essence, a certain grace and habit of virtue exists accidentally, which is called Word and Son and Wisdom, and admits of being taken from it and added to it. For they have often expressed this sentiment, but it is not the faith of Christians; as not declaring that He is truly Word and Son of God, or that the wisdom intended is true Wisdom. For what alters and changes, and has no stay in one and the same condition, how can that be true? Whereas the Lord says, ‘I am the Truth John 14:6.’ If then the Lord Himself speaks thus concerning Himself, and declares His unalterableness, and the Saints have learned and testify this, nay and our notions of God acknowledge it as religious, whence did these men of irreligion draw this novelty? From their heart as from a seat of corruption did they vomit it forth.
Chapter 11. Texts Explained; And First, Philippians 2:9, 10. Whether the words ‘Wherefore God has highly exalted’ prove moral probation and advancement. Argued against, first, from the force of the word ‘Son;’ which is inconsistent with such an interpretation. Next, the passage examined. Ecclesiastical sense of ‘highly exalted,’ and ‘gave,’ and ‘wherefore;’ viz. as being spoken with reference to our Lord’s manhood. Secondary sense; viz. as implying the Word’s ‘exaltation’ through the resurrection in the same sense in which Scripture speaks of His descent in the Incarnation; how the phrase does not derogate from the nature of the Word.
- But since they allege the divine oracles and force on them a misinterpretation, according to their private sense , it becomes necessary to meet them just so far as to vindicate these passages, and to show that they bear an orthodox sense, and that our opponents are in error. They say then, that the Apostle writes, ‘Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him, and given Him a Name which is above every name; that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven and things in earth and things under the earth Philippians 2:9-10;’ and David, ‘Wherefore God even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.’ Then they urge, as something acute: ‘If He was exalted and received grace, on a ‘wherefore,’ and on a ‘wherefore’ He was anointed, He received a reward of His purpose; but having acted from purpose, He is altogether of an alterable nature.’ This is what Eusebius and Arius have dared to say, nay to write; while their partizans do not shrink from conversing about it in full market-place, not seeing how mad an argument they use. For if He received what He had as a reward of His purpose, and would not have had it, unless He had needed it, and had His work to show for it, then having gained it from virtue and promotion, with reason had He ‘therefore’ been called Son and God, without being very Son. For what is from another by nature, is a real offspring, as Isaac was to Abraham, and Joseph to Jacob, and the radiance to the sun; but the so called sons from virtue and grace, have but in place of nature a grace by acquisition, and are something else besides the gift itself; as the men who have received the Spirit by participation, concerning whom Scripture says, ‘I begot and exalted children, and they rebelled against Me.’ And of course, since they were not sons by nature, therefore, when they altered, the Spirit was taken away and they were disinherited; and again on their repentance that God who thus at the beginning gave them grace, will receive them, and give light, and call them sons again.
- But if they say this of the Saviour also, it follows that He is neither very God nor very Son, nor like the Father, nor in any wise has God for a Father of His being according to essence, but of the mere grace given to Him, and for a Creator of His being according to essence, after the similitude of all others. And being such, as they maintain, it will be manifest further that He had not the name ‘Son’ from the first, if so be it was the prize of works done and of that very same advance which He made when He became man, and took the form of the servant; but then, when, after becoming ‘obedient unto death,’ He was, as the text says, ‘highly exalted,’ and received that ‘Name’ as a grace, ‘that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow Philippians 2:8.’ What then was before this, if then He was exalted, and then began to be worshipped, and then was called Son, when He became man? For He seems Himself not to have promoted the flesh at all, but rather to have been Himself promoted through it, if, according to their perverseness, He was then exalted and called Son, when He became man. What then was before this? One must urge the question on them again, to make it understood what their irreligious doctrine results in. For if the Lord be God, Son, Word, yet was not all these before He became man, either He was something else beside these, and afterwards became partaker of them for His virtue’s sake, as we have said; or they must adopt the alternative (may it return upon their heads!) that He was not before that time, but is wholly man by nature and nothing more. But this is no sentiment of the Church. but of the Samosatene and of the present Jews. Why then, if they think as Jews, are they not circumcised with them too, instead of pretending Christianity, while they are its foes? For if He was not, or was indeed, but afterwards was promoted, how were all things made by Him, or how in Him, were He not perfect, did the Father delight Proverbs 8:30? And He, on the other hand, if now promoted, how did He before rejoice in the presence of the Father? And, if He received His worship after dying, how is Abraham seen to worship Him in the tent , and Moses in the bush? And, as Daniel saw, myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands were ministering unto Him? And if, as they say, He had His promotion now, how did the Son Himself make mention of that His glory before and above the world, when He said, ‘Glorify Thou Me, O Father, with the glory which I had with You before the world was John 17:5.’ If, as they say, He was then exalted, how did He before that ‘bow the heavens and come down;’ and again, ‘The Highest gave His thunder ?’ Therefore, if, even before the world was made, the Son had that glory, and was Lord of glory and the Highest, and descended from heaven, and is ever to be worshipped, it follows that He had not promotion from His descent, but rather Himself promoted the things which needed promotion; and if He descended to effect their promotion, therefore He did not receive in reward the name of the Son and God, but rather He Himself has made us sons of the Father, and deified men by becoming Himself man.
- Therefore He was not man, and then became God, but He was God, and then became man, and that to deify us. Since, if when He became man, only then He was called Son and God, but before He became man, God called the ancient people sons, and made Moses a god of Pharaoh (and Scripture says of many, ‘God stands in the congregation of Gods ‘), it is plain that He is called Son and God later than they. How then are all things through Him, and He before all? Or how is He ‘first-born of the whole creation ,’ if He has others before Him who are called sons and gods? And how is it that those first partakers do not partake of the Word? This opinion is not true; it is a device of our present Judaizers. For how in that case can any at all know God as their Father? For adoption there could not be apart from the real Son, who says, ‘No one knows the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him Matthew 11:27.’ And how can there be deifying apart from the Word and before Him? Yet, says He to their brethren the Jews, ‘If He called them gods, unto whom the Word of God came John 10:35.’ And if all that are called sons and gods, whether in earth or in heaven, were adopted and deified through the Word, and the Son Himself is the Word, it is plain that through Him are they all, and He Himself before all, or rather He Himself only is very Son , and He alone is very God from the very God, not receiving these prerogatives as a reward for His virtue, nor being another beside them, but being all these by nature and according to essence. For He is Offspring of the Father’s essence, so that one cannot doubt that after the resemblance of the unalterable Father, the Word also is unalterable.
- Hitherto we have met their irrational conceits with the true conceptions implied in the Word ‘Son,’ as the Lord Himself has given us. But it will be well next to cite the divine oracles, that the unalterableness of the Son and His unchangeable nature, which is the Father’s, as well as their perverseness, may be still more fully proved. The Apostle then, writing to the Philippians, says, ‘Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus; who, being in the form of God, thought it not a prize to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men. And, being found in fashion as a man, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even the death of the cross. Wherefore God also highly exalted Him, and gave Him a Name which is above every name; that in the Name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father Philippians 2:5-11.’ Can anything be plainer and more express than this? He was not from a lower state promoted: but rather, existing as God, He took the form of a servant, and in taking it, was not promoted but humbled Himself. Where then is there here any reward of virtue, or what advancement and promotion in humiliation? For if, being God, He became man, and descending from on high He is still said to be exalted, where is He exalted, being God? This withal being plain, that, since God is highest of all, His Word must necessarily be highest also. Where then could He be exalted higher, who is in the Father and like the Father in all things ? Therefore He is beyond the need of any addition; nor is such as the Arians think Him. For though the Word has descended in order to be exalted, and so it is written, yet what need was there that He should humble Himself, as if to seek that which He had already? And what grace did He receive who is the Giver of grace ? Or how did He receive that Name for worship, who is always worshipped by His Name? Nay, certainly before He became man, the sacred writers invoke Him, ‘Save me, O God, for Your Name’s sake ;’and again, ‘Some put their trust in chariots, and some in horses, but we will remember the Name of the Lord our God.’ And while He was worshipped by the Patriarchs, concerning the Angels it is written, ‘Let all the Angels of God worship Him Hebrews 1:6.’
- And if, as David says in the 71st Psalm, ‘His Name remains before the sun, and before the moon, from one generation to another ,’ how did He receive what He had always, even before He now received it? Or how is He exalted, being before His exaltation the Most High? Or how did He receive the right of being worshipped, who before He now received it, was ever worshipped? It is not a dark saying but a divine mystery. ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;’ but for our sakes afterwards the ‘Word was made flesh.’ And the term in question, ‘highly exalted,’ does not signify that the essence of the Word was exalted, for He was ever and is ‘equal to God Philippians 2:6,’ but the exaltation is of the manhood. Accordingly this is not said before the Word became flesh; that it might be plain that ‘humbled’ and ‘exalted’ are spoken of His human nature; for where there is humble estate, there too may be exaltation; and if because of His taking flesh ‘humbled’ is written, it is clear that ‘highly exalted’ is also said because of it. For of this was man’s nature in want, because of the humble estate of the flesh and of death. Since then the Word, being the Image of the Father and immortal, took the form of the servant, and as man underwent for us death in His flesh, that thereby He might offer Himself for us through death to the Father; therefore also, as man, He is said because of us and for us to be highly exalted, that as by His death we all died in Christ, so again in the Christ Himself we might be highly exalted, being raised from the dead, and ascending into heaven, ‘whither the forerunner Jesus is for us entered, not into the figures of the true, but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.’ But if now for us the Christ is entered into heaven itself, though He was even before and always Lord and Framer of the heavens, for us therefore is that present exaltation written. And as He Himself, who sanctifies all, says also that He sanctifies Himself to the Father for our sakes, not that the Word may become holy, but that He Himself may in Himself sanctify all of us, in like manner we must take the present phrase, ‘He highly exalted Him,’ not that He Himself should be exalted, for He is the highest, but that He may become righteousness for us , and we may be exalted in Him, and that we may enter the gates of heaven, which He has also opened for us, the forerunners saying, ‘Lift up your gates, O you rulers, and be lifted up, you everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in.’ For here also not on Him were shut the gates, as being Lord and Maker of all, but because of us is this too written, to whom the door of paradise was shut. And therefore in a human relation, because of the flesh which He bore, it is said of Him, ‘Lift up your gates,’ and ‘shall come in,’ as if a man were entering; but in a divine relation on the other hand it is said of Him, since ‘the Word was God,’ that He is the ‘Lord’ and the ‘King of Glory.’ Such our exaltation the Spirit foreannounced in the eighty-ninth Psalm, saying, ‘And in Your righteousness shall they be exalted, for You are the glory of their strength.’ And if the Son be Righteousness, then He is not exalted as being Himself in need, but it is we who are exalted in that Righteousness, which is He 1 Corinthians 1:30 .
- And so too the words ‘gave Him’ are not written because of the Word Himself; for even before He became man He was worshipped, as we have said, by the Angels and the whole creation in virtue of being proper to the Father; but because of us and for us this too is written of Him. For as Christ died and was exalted as man, so, as man, is He said to take what, as God, He ever had, that even such a grant of grace might reach to us. For the Word was not impaired in receiving a body, that He should seek to receive a grace, but rather He deified that which He put on, and more than that, ‘gave’ it graciously to the race of man. For as He was ever worshipped as being the Word and existing in the form of God, so being what He ever was, though become man and called Jesus, He none the less has the whole creation under foot, and bending their knees to Him in this Name, and confessing that the Word’s becoming flesh, and undergoing death in flesh, has not happened against the glory of His Godhead, but ‘to the glory of God the Father.’ For it is the Father’s glory that man, made and then lost, should be found again; and, when dead, that he should be made alive, and should become God’s temple. For whereas the powers in heaven, both Angels and Archangels, were ever worshipping the Lord, as they are now worshipping Him in the Name of Jesus, this is our grace and high exaltation, that even when He became man, the Son of God is worshipped, and the heavenly powers will not be astonished at seeing all of us, who are of one body with Him , introduced into their realms. And this had not been, unless He who existed in the form of God had taken on Him a servant’s form, and had humbled Himself, yielding His body to come unto death.
- Behold then what men considered the foolishness of God because of the Cross, has become of all things most honoured. For our resurrection is stored up in it; and no longer Israel alone, but henceforth all the nations, as the Prophet has foretold, leave their idols and acknowledge the true God, the Father of the Christ. And the illusion of demons has come to nought, and He only who is really God is worshipped in the Name of our Lord Jesus Christ. For the fact that the Lord, even when come in human body and called Jesus, was worshipped and believed to be God’s Son, and that through Him the Father was known, shows, as has been said, that not the Word, considered as the Word, received this so great grace, but we. For because of our relationship to His Body we too have become God’s temple, and in consequence are made God’s sons, so that even in us the Lord is now worshipped, and beholders report, as the Apostle says, that God is in them of a truth. As also John says in the Gospel, ‘As many as received Him, to them gave He power to become children of God John 1:12;’ and in his Epistle he writes, ‘By this we know that He abides in us by His Spirit which He has given us 1 John 3:24.’ And this too is an evidence of His goodness towards us that, while we were exalted because that the Highest Lord is in us, and on our account grace was given to Him, because that the Lord who supplies the grace has become a man like us, He on the other hand, the Saviour, humbled Himself in taking ‘our body of humiliation Philippians 3:21,’ and took a servant’s form, putting on that flesh which was enslaved to sin. And He indeed has gained nothing from us for His own promotion: for the Word of God is without want and full; but rather we were promoted from Him; for He is the ‘Light, which lightens every man, coming into the world John 1:9.’ And in vain do the Arians lay stress upon the conjunction ‘wherefore,’ because Paul has said, ‘Wherefore, has God highly exalted Him.’ For in saying this he did not imply any prize of virtue, nor promotion from advance , but the cause why the exaltation was bestowed upon us. And what is this but that He who existed in form of God, the Son of a noble Father, humbled Himself and became a servant instead of us and in our behalf? For if the Lord had not become man, we had not been redeemed from sins, not raised from the dead, but remaining dead under the earth; not exalted into heaven, but lying in Hades. Because of us then and in our behalf are the words, ‘highly exalted’ and ‘given.’
- This then I consider the sense of this passage, and that, a very ecclesiastical sense. However, there is another way in which one might remark upon it, giving the same sense in a parallel way; viz. that, though it does not speak of the exaltation of the Word Himself, so far as He is Word (for He is, as was just now said, most high and like His Father), yet by reason of His becoming man it indicates His resurrection from the dead. For after saying, ‘He has humbled Himself even unto death,’ He immediately added, ‘Wherefore He has highly exalted Him;’ wishing to show, that, although as man He is said to have died, yet, as being Life, He was exalted on the resurrection; for ‘He who descended, is the same also who rose again.’ He descended in body, and He rose again because He was God Himself in the body. And this again is the reason why according to this meaning he brought in the conjunction ‘Wherefore;’ not as a reward of virtue nor of advancement, but to signify the cause why the resurrection took place; and why, while all other men from Adam down to this time have died and remained dead, He only rose in integrity from the dead. The cause is this, which He Himself has already taught us, that, being God, He has become man. For all other men, being merely born of Adam, died, and death reigned over them; but He, the Second Man, is from heaven, for ‘the Word was made flesh John 1:14,’ and this Man is said to be from heaven and heavenly , because the Word descended from heaven; wherefore He was not held under death. For though He humbled Himself, yielding His own Body to come unto death, in that it was capable of death , yet He was highly exalted from earth, because He was God’s Son in a body. Accordingly what is here said, ‘Wherefore God also has highly exalted Him,’ answers to Peter’s words in the Acts, ‘Whom God raised up, having loosed the bonds of death, because it was not possible that He should be holden of it Acts 2:24.’ For as Paul has written, ‘Since being in form of God He became man, and humbled Himself unto death, therefore God also has highly exalted Him,’ so also Peter says, ‘Since, being God, He became man, and signs and wonders proved Him to beholders to be God, therefore it was not possible that He should be holden of death.’ To man it was not possible to succeed in this; for death belongs to man; wherefore, the Word, being God, became flesh, that, being put to death in the flesh, He might quicken all men by His own power.
- But since He Himself is said to be ‘exalted,’ and God ‘gave’ Him, and the heretics think this a defect or affection in the essence of the Word, it becomes necessary to explain how these words are used. He is said to be exalted from the lower parts of the earth, because death is ascribed even to Him. Both events are reckoned His, since it was His Body , and none other’s, that was exalted from the dead and taken up into heaven. And again, the Body being His, and the Word not being external to it, it is natural that when the Body was exalted, He, as man, should, because of the body, be spoken of as exalted. If then He did not become man, let this not be said of Him: but if the Word became flesh, of necessity the resurrection and exaltation, as in the case of a man, must be ascribed to Him, that the death which is ascribed to Him may be a redemption of the sin of men and an abolition of death, and that the resurrection and exaltation may for His sake remain secure for us. In both respects he has said of Him, ‘God has highly exalted Him,’ and ‘God has given to Him;’ that herein moreover he may show that it is not the Father that has become flesh, but it is His Word, who has become man, and receives after the manner of men from the Father, and is exalted by Him, as has been said. And it is plain, nor would any one dispute it, that what the Father gives, He gives through. the Son. And it is marvellous and overwhelming verily; for the grace which the Son gives from the Father, that the Son Himself is said to receive; and the exaltation, which the Son bestows from the Father, with that the Son is Himself exalted. For He who is the Son of God, became Himself the Son of Man; and, as Word, He gives from the Father, for all things which the Father does and gives, He does and supplies through Him; and as the Son of Man, He Himself is said after the manner of men to receive what proceeds from Him, because His Body is none other than His, and is a natural recipient of grace, as has been said. For He received it as far as His man’s nature was exalted; which exaltation was its being deified. But such an exaltation the Word Himself always had according to the Father’s Godhead and perfection, which was His.
Chapter 12. Texts Explained; Secondly, Psalm 45:7, 8.}–> Whether the words ‘therefore,’ ‘anointed,’ etc., imply that the Word has been rewarded. Argued against first from the word ‘fellows’ or ‘partakers.’ He is anointed with the Spirit in His manhood to sanctify human nature. Therefore the Spirit descended on Him in Jordan, when in the flesh. And He is said to sanctify Himself for us, and give us the gloryHe has received. The word ‘wherefore’ implies His divinity. ‘You have loved righteousness,’ etc., do not imply trial or choice.
- Such an explanation of the Apostle’s words confutes the irreligious men; and what the sacred poet says admits also the same orthodox sense, which they misinterpret, but which in the Psalmist is manifestly religious. He says then, ‘Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your Kingdom. You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity, therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows.’ Behold, O you Arians, and acknowledge even hence the truth. The Singer speaks of us all as ‘fellows’ or ‘partakers’ of the Lord: but were He one of things which come out of nothing and of things originate, He Himself had been one of those who partake. But, since he hymned Him as the eternal God, saying, ‘Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever,’ and has declared that all other things partake of Him, what conclusion must we draw, but that He is distinct from originated things, and He only the Father’s veritable Word, Radiance, and Wisdom, which all things originate partake , being sanctified by Him in the Spirit ? And therefore He is here ‘anointed,’ not that He may become God, for He was so even before; nor that He may become King, for He had the Kingdom eternally, existing as God’s Image, as the sacred Oracle shows; but in our behalf is this written, as before. For the Israelitish kings, upon their being anointed, then became kings, not being so before, as David, as Hezekiah, as Josiah, and the rest; but the Saviour on the contrary, being God, and ever ruling in the Father’s Kingdom, and being Himself He that supplies the Holy Ghost, nevertheless is here said to be anointed, that, as before, being said as man to be anointed with the Spirit, He might provide for us men, not only exaltation and resurrection, but the indwelling and intimacy of the Spirit. And signifying this the Lord Himself has said by His own mouth in the Gospel according to John, ‘I have sent them into the world, and for their sakes do I sanctify Myself, that they may be sanctified in the truth.’ In saying this He has shown that He is not the sanctified, but the Sanctifier; for He is not sanctified by other, but Himself sanctifies Himself, that we may be sanctified in the truth. He who sanctifies Himself is Lord of sanctification. How then does this take place? What does He mean but this? ‘I, being the Father’s Word, I give to Myself, when becoming man, the Spirit; and Myself, become man, do I sanctify in Him, that henceforth in Me, who am Truth (for Your Word is Truth), all may be sanctified.’
- If then for our sake He sanctifies Himself, and does this when He has become man, it is very plain that the Spirit’s descent on Him in Jordan was a descent upon us, because of His bearing our body. And it did not take place for promotion to the Word, but again for our sanctification, that we might share His anointing, and of us it might be said, ‘Do you not know that you are God’s Temple, and the Spirit of God dwells in you 1 Corinthians 3:16?’ For when the Lord, as man, was washed in Jordan, it was we who were washed in Him and by Him. And when He received the Spirit, we it was who by Him were made recipients of It. And moreover for this reason, not as Aaron or David or the rest, was He anointed with oil, but in another way above all His fellows, ‘with the oil of gladness,’ which He Himself interprets to be the Spirit, saying by the Prophet, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because the Lord has anointed Me Isaiah 61:1;’ as also the Apostle has said, ‘How God anointed Him with the Holy Ghost. Acts 10:38 ‘ When then were these things spoken of Him but when He came in the flesh and was baptized in Jordan, and the Spirit descended on Him? And indeed the Lord Himself said, ‘The Spirit shall take of Mine;’ and ‘I will send Him;’ and to His disciples, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ And notwithstanding, He who, as the Word and Radiance of the Father, gives to others, now is said to be sanctified, because now He has become man, and the Body that is sanctified is His. From Him then we have begun to receive the unction and the seal, John saying, ‘And you have an unction from the Holy One;’ and the Apostle, ‘And you were sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise.’ Therefore because of us and for us are these words. What advance then of promotion, and reward of virtue or generally of conduct, is proved from this in our Lord’s instance? For if He was not God, and then had become God, if not being King He was preferred to the Kingdom, your reasoning would have had some faint plausibility. But if He is God and the throne of His kingdom is everlasting, in what way could God advance? Or what was there wanting to Him who was sitting on His Father’s throne? And if, as the Lord Himself has said, the Spirit is His, and takes of His, and He sends It, it is not the Word, considered as the Word and Wisdom, who is anointed with the Spirit which He Himself gives, but the flesh assumed by Him which is anointed in Him and by Him ; that the sanctification coming to the Lord as man, may come to all men from Him. For not of Itself, says He, does the Spirit speak, but the Word is He who gives It to the worthy. For this is like the passage considered above; for as the Apostle has written, ‘Who existing in form of God thought it not a prize to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, and took a servant’s form,’ so David celebrates the Lord, as the everlasting God and King, but sent to us and assuming our body which is mortal. For this is his meaning in the Psalm, ‘All your garments smell of myrrh, aloes, and cassia;’ and it is represented by Nicodemus and by Mary’s company, when the one came bringing ‘a mixture of myrrh and aloes, about an hundred pounds weight;’ and the others John 19:39; Luke 24:1 ‘the spices which they had prepared’ for the burial of the Lord’s body.
- What advancement then was it to the Immortal to have assumed the mortal? Or what promotion is it to the Everlasting to have put on the temporal? What reward can be great to the Everlasting God and King in the bosom of the Father? See ye not, that this too was done and written because of us and for us, that us who are mortal and temporal, the Lord, become man, might make immortal, and bring into the everlasting kingdom of heaven? Blush ye not, speaking lies against the divine oracles? For when our Lord Jesus Christ had been among us, we indeed were promoted, as rescued from sin; but He is the same ; nor did He alter, when He became man (to repeat what I have said), but, as has been written, ‘The Word of God abides forever.’ Surely as, before His becoming man, He, the Word, dispensed to the saints the Spirit as His own , so also when made man, He sanctifies all by the Spirit and says to His Disciples, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost.’ And He gave to Moses and the other seventy; and through Him David prayed to the Father, saying, ‘Take not Your Holy Spirit from me.’ On the other hand, when made man, He said, ‘I will send to you the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth John 15:26;’ and He sent Him, He, the Word of God, as being faithful. Therefore ‘Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and for ever Hebrews 13:8,’ remaining unalterable, and at once gives and receives, giving as God’s Word, receiving as man. It is not the Word then, viewed as the Word, that is promoted; for He had all things and has them always; but men, who have in Him and through Him their origin of receiving them. For, when He is now said to be anointed in a human respect, we it is who in Him are anointed; since also when He is baptized, we it is who in Him are baptized. But on all these things the Saviour throws much light, when He says to the Father, ‘And the glory which You gave Me, I have given to them, that they may be one, even as We are one John 17:22.’ Because of us then He asked for glory, and the words occur, ‘took’ and ‘gave’ and ‘highly exalted,’ that we might take, and to us might be given, and we might be exalted in Him; as also for us He sanctifies Himself, that we might be sanctified in Him.
- But if they take advantage of the word ‘wherefore,’ as connected with the passage in the Psalm, ‘Wherefore God, even Your God, has anointed You,’ for their own purposes, let these novices in Scripture and masters in irreligion know, that, as before, the word ‘wherefore’ does not imply reward of virtue or conduct in the Word, but the reason why He came down to us, and of the Spirit’s anointing which took place in Him for our sakes. For He says not, ‘Wherefore He anointed You in order to Your being God or King or Son or Word.’ for so He was before and is for ever, as has been shown; but rather, ‘Since You are God and King, therefore You were anointed, since none but You could unite man to the Holy Ghost, Thou the Image of the Father, in which we were made in the beginning; for Yours is even the Spirit.’ For the nature of things originate could give no warranty for this, Angels having transgressed, and men disobeyed. Wherefore there was need of God and the Word is God; that those who had become under a curse, He Himself might set free. If then He was of nothing, He would not have been the Christ or Anointed, being one among others and having fellowship as the rest. But, whereas He is God, as being Son of God, and is everlasting King, and exists as Radiance and Expression Hebrews 1:3 of the Father, therefore fitly is He the expected Christ, whom the Father announces to mankind, by revelation to His holy Prophets; that as through Him we have come to be, so also in Him all men might be redeemed from their sins, and by Him all things might be ruled. And this is the cause of the anointing which took place in Him, and of the incarnate presence of the Word , which the Psalmist foreseeing, celebrates, first His Godhead and kingdom, which is the Father’s, in these tones, ‘Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your Kingdom ;’ then announces His descent to us thus, ‘Wherefore God, even Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness above Your fellows. ‘
- What is there to wonder at, what to disbelieve, if the Lord who gives the Spirit, is here said Himself to be anointed with the Spirit, at a time when, necessity requiring it, He did not refuse in respect of His manhood to call Himself inferior to the Spirit? For the Jews saying that He cast out devils in Beelzebub, He answered and said to them, for the exposure of their blasphemy, ‘But if I through the Spirit of God cast out demons Matthew 12:28.’ Behold, the Giver of the Spirit here says that He cast out demons in the Spirit; but this is not said, except because of His flesh. For since man’s nature is not equal of itself to casting out demons, but only in power of the Spirit, therefore as man He said, ‘But if I through the Spirit of God cast out demons.’ Of course too He signified that the blasphemy offered to the Holy Ghost is greater than that against His humanity, when He said, ‘Whosoever shall speak a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him;’ such as were those who said, ‘Is not this the carpenter’s son ?’ but they who blaspheme against the Holy Ghost, and ascribe the deeds of the Word to the devil, shall have inevitable punishment. This is what the Lord spoke to the Jews, as man; but to the disciples showing His Godhead and His majesty, and intimating that He was not inferior but equal to the Spirit, He gave the Spirit and said, ‘Receive the Holy Ghost,’ and ‘I send Him,’ and ‘He shall glorify Me,’ and ‘Whatsoever He hears, that He shall speak.’ As then in this place the Lord Himself, the Giver of the Spirit, does not refuse to say that through the Spirit He casts out demons, as man; in like manner He the same, the Giver of the Spirit, refused not to say, ‘The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me Isaiah 61:1,’ in respect of His having become flesh, as John has said; that it might be shown in both these particulars, that we are they who need the Spirit’s grace in our sanctification, and again who are unable to cast out demons without the Spirit’s power. Through whom then and from whom behooved it that the Spirit should be given but through the Son, whose also the Spirit is? And when were we enabled to receive It, except when the Word became man? And, as the passage of the Apostle shows, that we had not been redeemed and highly exalted, had not He who exists in form of God taken a servant’s form, so David also shows, that no otherwise should we have partaken the Spirit and been sanctified, but that the Giver of the Spirit, the Word Himself, hast spoken of Himself as anointed with the Spirit for us. And therefore have we securely received it, He being said to be anointed in the flesh; for the flesh being first sanctified in Him , and He being said, as man, to have received for its sake, we have the sequel of the Spirit grace, receiving ‘out of His fullness John 1:16.’
- Nor do the words, ‘You have loved righteousness and hated iniquity,’ which are added in the Psalm, show, as again you suppose, that the Nature of the Word is alterable, but rather by their very force signify His unalterableness. For since of things originate the nature is alterable, and the one portion had transgressed and the other disobeyed, as has been said, and it is not certain how they will act, but it often happens that he who is now good afterwards alters and becomes different, so that one who was but now righteous, soon is found unrighteous, wherefore there was here also need of one unalterable, that men might have the immutability of the righteousness of the Word as an image and type for virtue. And this thought commends itself strongly to the right-minded. For since the first man Adam altered, and through sin death came into the world, therefore it became the second Adam to be unalterable; that, should the Serpent again assault, even the Serpent’s deceit might be baffled, and, the Lord being unalterable and unchangeable, the Serpent might become powerless in his assault against all. For as when Adam had transgressed, his sin reached unto all men, so, when the Lord had become man and had overthrown the Serpent, that so great strength of His is to extend through all men, so that each of us may say, ‘For we are not ignorant of his devices. 2 Corinthians 2:11 ‘ Good reason then that the Lord, who ever is in nature unalterable, loving righteousness and hating iniquity, should be anointed and Himself sent, that, He, being and remaining the same , by taking this alterable flesh, ‘might condemn sin in it ,’ and might secure its freedom, and its ability henceforth ‘to fulfil the righteousness of the law?’ in itself, so as to be able to say, ‘But we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in us Romans 8:9.’
- Vainly then, here again, O Arians, have you made this conjecture, and vainly alleged the words of Scripture; for God’s Word is unalterable, and is ever in one state, not as it may happen , but as the Father is; since how is He like the Father, unless He be thus? Or how is all that is the Father’s the Son’s also, if He has not the unalterableness and unchangeableness of the Father ? Not as being subject to laws , and biassed to one side, does He love the one and hate the other, lest, if from fear of falling away He chooses the one, we admit that He is alterable otherwise also; but, as being God and the Father’s Word, He is a just judge and lover of virtue, or rather its dispenser. Therefore being just and holy by nature, on this account He is said to love righteousness and to hate iniquity; as much as to say, that He loves and chooses the virtuous, and rejects and hates the unrighteous. And divine Scripture says the same of the Father; ‘The Righteous Lord loves righteousness; Thou hate all them that work iniquity ,’ and ‘The Lord loves the gates of Sion, more than all the dwellings of Jacob ;’ and, ‘Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated Malachi 1:2-3;’ and in Isaiah there is the voice of God again saying, ‘I the Lord love righteousness, and hate robbery of unrighteousness Isaiah 61:8.’ Let them then expound those former words as these latter; for the former also are written of the Image of God: else, misinterpreting these as those, they will conceive that the Father too is alterable. But since the very hearing others say this is not without peril, we do well to think that God is said to love righteousness and to hate robbery of unrighteousness, not as if biassed to one side, and capable of the contrary, so as to select the latter and not choose the former, for this belongs to things originated, but that, as a judge, He loves and takes to Him the righteous and withdraws from the bad. It follows then to think the same concerning the Image of God also, that He loves and hates no otherwise than thus. For such must be the nature of the Image as is Its Father, though the Arians in their blindness fail to see either that image or any other truth of the divine oracles. For being forced from the conceptions or rather misconceptions of their own hearts, they fall back upon passages of divine Scripture, and here too from want of understanding, according to their wont, they discern not their meaning; but laying down their own irreligion as a sort of canon of interpretation , they wrest the whole of the divine oracles into accordance with it. And so on the bare mention of such doctrine, they deserve nothing but the reply, ‘You do err, not knowing the Scriptures nor the power of God Matthew 22:29;’ and if they persist in it, they must be put to silence, by the words, ‘Render to’ man ‘the things that are’ man’s, ‘and to God the things that are’ God’s.
Chapter 13. Texts Explained; Thirdly, Hebrews i. 4. Additional texts brought as objections; e.g. Hebrews 1:4; 7:22. Whether the word ‘better’ implies likeness to the Angels; and ‘made’ or ‘become’ implies creation. Necessary to consider the circumstances under which Scripture speaks. Difference between ‘better’ and ‘greater;’ texts in proof. ‘Made’ or ‘become’ a general word. Contrast in Hebrews 1:4, between the Son and the Works in point of nature. The difference of the punishments under the two Covenants shows the difference of the natures of the Son and the Angels. ‘Become’ relates not to the nature of the Word, but to His manhood and office and relation towards us. Parallel passages in which the term is applied to the Eternal Father.
- But it is written, say they, in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord created me the beginning of His ways, for His Works ;’ and in the Epistle to the Hebrews the Apostle says, ‘Being made so much better than the Angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.’ And soon after, ‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Christ Jesus, who was faithful to Him that made Him.’ And in the Acts, ‘Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God has made that same Jesus whom you have crucified both Lord and Christ.’ These passages they brought forward at every turn, mistaking their sense, under the idea that they proved that the Word of God was a creature and work and one of things originate; and thus they deceive the thoughtless, making the language of Scripture their pretence, but instead of the true sense sowing upon it the poison of their own heresy. For had they known, they would not have been irreligious against ‘the Lord of glory 1 Corinthians 2:8,’ nor have wrested the good words of Scripture. If then henceforward openly adopting Caiaphas’s way, they have determined on judaizing, and are ignorant of the text, that verily God shall dwell upon the earth , let them not inquire into the Apostolical sayings; for this is not the manner of Jews. But if, mixing themselves up with the godless Manichees , they deny that ‘the Word was made flesh,’ and His Incarnate presence, then let them not bring forward the Proverbs, for this is out of place with the Manichees. But if for preferment-sake, and the lucre of avarice which follows , and the desire for good repute, they venture not on denying the text, ‘The Word was made flesh,’ since so it is written, either let them rightly interpret the words of Scripture, of the embodied presence of the Saviour, or, if they deny their sense, let them deny that the Lord became man at all. For it is unseemly, while confessing that ‘the Word became flesh,’ yet to be ashamed at what is written of Him, and on that account to corrupt the sense.
- For it is written, ‘So much better than the Angels.’ let us then first examine this. Now it is right and necessary, as in all divine Scripture, so here, faithfully to expound the time of which the Apostle wrote, and the person , and the point; lest the reader, from ignorance missing either these or any similar particular, may be wide of the true sense. This understood that inquiring eunuch, when he thus besought Philip, ‘I pray you, of whom does the Prophet speak this? Of himself, or of some other man Acts 8:34?’ for he feared lest, expounding the lesson unsuitably to the person, he should wander from the right sense. And the disciples, wishing to learn the time of what was foretold, besought the Lord, ‘Tell us,’ said they, ‘when shall these things be? And what is the sign of Your coming Matthew 24:3?’ And again, hearing from the Saviour the events of the end, they desired to learn the time of it, that they might be kept from error themselves, and might be able to teach others; as, for instance, when they had learned, they set right the Thessalonians , who were going wrong. When then one knows properly these points, his understanding of the faith is right and healthy; but if he mistakes any such points, immediately he falls into heresy. Thus Hymenæus and Alexander and their fellows were beside the time, when they said that the resurrection had already been; and the Galatians were after the time, in making much of circumcision now. And to miss the person was the lot of the Jews, and is still, who think that of one of themselves is said, ‘Behold, the Virgin shall conceive, and bear a Son, and they shall call his Name Emmanuel, which is being interpreted, God with us Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23;’ and that, ‘A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up to you Deuteronomy 18:15,’ is spoken of one of the Prophets; and who, as to the words, ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter Isaiah 53:7,’ instead of learning from Philip, conjecture them spoken of Isaiah or some other of the former Prophets.
- (3.) Such has been the state of mind under which Christ’s enemies have fallen into their execrable heresy. For had they known the person, and the subject, and the season of the Apostle’s words, they would not have expounded of Christ’s divinity what belongs to His manhood, nor in their folly have committed so great an act of irreligion. Now this will be readily seen, if one expounds properly the beginning of this lection. For the Apostle says, ‘God who at sundry times and various manners spoke in times past unto the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken unto us by His Son Hebrews 1:1-2;’ then again shortly after he says, ‘when He had by Himself purged our sins, He sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become so much better than the Angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent Name than they.’ It appears then that the Apostle’s words make mention of that time, when God spoke unto us by His Son, and when a purging of sins took place. Now when did He speak unto us by His Son, and when did purging of sins take place? And when did He become man? When, but subsequently to the Prophets in the last days? Next, proceeding with his account of the economy in which we were concerned, and speaking of the last times, he is naturally led to observe that not even in the former times was God silent with men, but spoke to them by the Prophets. And, whereas the prophets ministered, and the Law was spoken by Angels, while the Son too came on earth, and that in order to minister, he was forced to add, ‘Become so much better than the Angels,’ wishing to show that, as much as the son excels a servant, so much also the ministry of the Son is better than the ministry of servants. Contrasting then the old ministry and the new, the Apostle deals freely with the Jews, writing and saying, ‘Become so much better than the Angels.’ This is why throughout he uses no comparison, such as ‘become greater,’ or ‘more honourable,’ lest we should think of Him and them as one in kind, but ‘better’ is his word, by way of marking the difference of the Son’s nature from things originated. And of this we have proof from divine Scripture; David, for instance, saying in the Psalm, ‘One day in Your courts is better than a thousand :’ and Solomon crying out, ‘Receive my instruction and not silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold. For wisdom is better than rubies; and all the things that may be desired are not to be compared to it Proverbs 8:10-11.’ Are not wisdom and stones of the earth different in essence and separate in nature? Are heavenly courts at all akin to earthly houses? Or is there any similarity between things eternal and spiritual, and things temporal and mortal? And this is what Isaiah says, ‘Thus says the Lord unto the eunuchs that keep My sabbaths, and choose the things that please Me, and take hold of My Covenant; even unto them will I give in Mine house, and within My walls, a place and a name better than of sons and of daughters: I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off Isaiah 56:4-5.’ In like manner there is nought akin between the Son and the Angels; so that the word ‘better’ is not used to compare but to contrast, because of the difference of His nature from them. And therefore the Apostle also himself, when he interprets the word ‘better,’ places its force in nothing short of the Son’s excellence over things originated, calling the one Son, the other servants; the one, as a Son with the Father, sitting on the right; and the others, as servants, standing before Him, and being sent, and fulfilling offices.
- Scripture, in speaking thus, implies, O Arians, not that the Son is originate, but rather other than things originate, and proper to the Father, being in His bosom. (4.) Nor does even the expression ‘become,’ which here occurs, show that the Son is originate, as you suppose. If indeed it were simply ‘become’ and no more, a case might stand for the Arians; but, whereas they are forestalled with the word ‘Son’ throughout the passage, showing that He is other than things originate, so again not even the word ‘become’ occurs absolutely , but ‘better’ is immediately subjoined. For the writer thought the expression immaterial, knowing that in the case of one who was confessedly a genuine Son, to say ‘become’ is the same with saying that He had been made, and is, ‘better.’ For it matters not even if we speak of what is generate, as ‘become’ or ‘made;’ but on the contrary, things originate cannot be called generate, God’s handiwork as they are, except so far as after their making they partake of the generate Son, and are therefore said to have been generated also, not at all in their own nature, but because of their participation of the Son in the Spirit. And this again divine Scripture recognises; for it says in the case of things originate, ‘All things came to be through Him, and without Him nothing came to be John 1:3,’ and, ‘In wisdom have You made them all ;’ but in the case of sons which are generate, ‘To Job there came to be seven sons and three daughters Job 1:2,’ and, ‘Abraham was an hundred years old when there came to be to him Isaac his son Genesis 21:5;’ and Moses said Deuteronomy 21:15, ‘If to any one there come to be sons.’ Therefore since the Son is other than things originate, alone the proper offspring of the Father’s essence, this plea of the Arians about the word ‘become’ is worth nothing.
(5.) If moreover, baffled so far, they should still violently insist that the language is that of comparison, and that comparison in consequence implies oneness of kind, so that the Son is of the nature of Angels, they will in the first place incur the disgrace of rivalling and repeating what Valentinus held, and Carpocrates, and those other heretics, of whom the former said that the Angels were one in kind with the Christ, and Carpocrates that Angels are framers of the world. Perchance it is under the instruction of these masters that they compare the Word of God with the Angels.
- Though surely amid such speculations, they will be moved by the sacred poet, saying, ‘Who is he among the gods that shall be like the Lord ,’ and, ‘Among the gods there is none like You, O Lord.’ However, they must be answered, with the chance of their profiting by it, that comparison confessedly does belong to subjects one in kind, not to those which differ. No one, for instance, would compare God with man, or again man with brutes, nor wood with stone, because their natures are unlike; but God is beyond comparison, and man is compared to man, and wood to wood, and stone to stone. Now in such cases we should not speak of ‘better,’ but of ‘rather’ and ‘more;’ thus Joseph was comely rather than his brethren, and Rachel than Leah; star is not better than star, but is the rather excellent in glory; whereas in bringing together things which differ in kind, then ‘better’ is used to mark the difference, as has been said in the case of wisdom and jewels. Had then the Apostle said, ‘by so much has the Son precedence of the Angels,’ or ‘by so much greater,’ you would have had a plea, as if the Son were compared with the Angels; but, as it is, in saying that He is ‘better,’ and differs as far as Son from servants, the Apostle shows that He is other than the Angels in nature.
(6.) Moreover by saying that He it is who has ‘laid the foundation of all things Hebrews 1:10,’ he shows that He is other than all things originate. But if He be other and different in essence from their nature, what comparison of His essence can there be, or what likeness to them? Though, even if they have any such thoughts, Paul shall refute them, who speaks to the very point, ‘For unto which of the Angels said He at any time, You are My Son, this day have I begotten You? And of the Angels He says, Who makes His Angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire Hebrews 1:7.’
- Observe here, the word ‘made’ belongs to things originate, and he calls them things made; but to the Son he speaks not of making, nor of becoming, but of eternity and kingship, and a Framer’s office, exclaiming, ‘Your Throne, O God, is for ever and ever;’ and, ‘Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Your hands; they shall perish, but You remain.’ From which words even they, were they but willing, might perceive that the Framer is other than things framed, the former God, the latter things originate, made out of nothing. For what has been said, ‘They shall perish,’ is said, not as if the creation were destined for destruction, but to express the nature of things originate by the issue to which they tend. For things which admit of perishing, though through the grace of their Maker they perish not, yet have come out of nothing, and themselves witness that they once were not. And on this account, since their nature is such, it is said of the Son, ‘You remain,’ to show His eternity; for not having the capacity of perishing, as things originate have, but having eternal duration, it is foreign to Him to have it said, ‘He was not before His generation,’ but proper to Him to be always, and to endure together with the Father. And though the Apostle had not thus written in his Epistle to the Hebrews, still his other Epistles, and the whole of Scripture, would certainly forbid their entertaining such notions concerning the Word. But since he has here expressly written it, and, as has been above shown, the Son is Offspring of the Father’s essence, and He is Framer, and other things are framed by Him, and He is the Radiance and Word and Image and Wisdom of the Father, and things originate stand and serve in their place below the Triad, therefore the Son is different in kind and different in essence from things originate, and on the contrary is proper to the Father’s essence and one in nature with it. And hence it is that the Son too says not, ‘My Father is better than I John 14:28,’ lest we should conceive Him to be foreign to His Nature, but ‘greater,’ not indeed in greatness, nor in time, but because of His generation from the Father Himself , nay, in saying ‘greater’ He again shows that He is proper to His essence.
- (7). And the Apostle’s own reason for saying, ‘so much better than the Angels,’ was not any wish in the first instance to compare the essence of the Word to things originate (for He cannot be compared, rather they are incommeasurable), but regarding the Word’s visitation in the flesh, and the Economy which He then sustained, he wished to show that He was not like those who had gone before Him; so that, as much as He excelled in nature those who were sent afore by Him, by so much also the grace which came from and through Him was better than the ministry through Angels. For it is the function of servants, to demand the fruits and no more; but of the Son and Master to forgive the debts and to transfer the vineyard.
(8.) Certainly what the Apostle proceeds to say shows the excellence of the Son over things originate; ‘Therefore we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by Angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation; which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him Hebrews 2:1-3.’ But if the Son were in the number of things originate, He was not better than they, nor did disobedience involve increase of punishment because of Him; any more than in the Ministry of Angels there was not, according to each Angel, greater or less guilt in the transgressors, but the Law was one, and one was its vengeance on transgressors. But, whereas the Word is not in the number of originate things, but is Son of the Father, therefore, as He Himself is better and His acts better and transcendent, so also the punishment is worse. Let them contemplate then the grace which is through the Son, and let them acknowledge the witness which He gives even from His works, that He is other than things originated, and alone the very Son in the Father and the Father in Him. And the Law was spoken by Angels, and perfected no one Hebrews 7:19, needing the visitation of the Word, as Paul has said; but that visitation has perfected the work of the Father. And then, from Adam unto Moses death reigned Romans 5:14; but the presence of the Word abolished death. 2 Timothy 1:10 And no longer in Adam are we all dying 1 Corinthians 15:22; but in Christ we are all reviving. And then, from Dan to Beersheba was the Law proclaimed, and in Judæa only was God known; but now, unto all the earth has gone forth their voice, and all the earth has been filled with the knowledge of God , and the disciples have made disciples of all the nations Matthew 28:19, and now is fulfilled what is written, ‘They shall be all taught of God John 6:45; Isaiah 54:13.’ And then what was revealed was but a type; but now the truth has been manifested. And this again the Apostle himself describes afterwards more clearly, saying, ‘By so much was Jesus made a surety of a better testament;’ and again, ‘But now has He obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also He is the Mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.’ And, ‘For the Law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did.’ And again he says, ‘It was therefore necessary that the patterns of things in the heavens should be purified with these; but the heavenly things themselves with better sacrifices than these.’ Both in the verse before us, then, and throughout, does he ascribe the word ‘better’ to the Lord, who is better and other than originated things. For better is the sacrifice through Him, better the hope in Him; and also the promises through Him, not merely as great compared with small, but the one differing from the other in nature, because He who conducts this economy, is ‘better’ than things originated.
- (9.) Moreover the words ‘He has become surety’ denote the pledge in our behalf which He has provided. For as, being the ‘Word,’ He ‘became flesh John 1:14 ‘ and ‘become’ we ascribe to the flesh, for it is originated and created, so do we here the expression ‘He has become,’ expounding it according to a second sense, viz. because He has become man. And let these contentious men know, that they fail in this their perverse purpose; let them know that Paul does not signify that His essence has become, knowing, as he did, that He is Son and Wisdom and Radiance and Image of the Father; but here too he refers the word ‘become’ to the ministry of that covenant, in which death which once ruled is abolished. Since here also the ministry through Him has become better, in that ‘what the Law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh Romans 8:3,’ ridding it of the trespass, in which, being continually held captive, it admitted not the Divine mind. And having rendered the flesh capable of the Word, He made us walk, no longer according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit, and say again and again, ‘But we are not in the flesh but in the Spirit,’ and, ‘For the Son of God came into the world, not to judge the world, but to redeem all men, and that the world might be saved through Him John 3:17.’ Formerly the world, as guilty, was under judgment from the Law; but now the Word has taken on Himself the judgment, and having suffered in the body for all, has bestowed salvation to all. With a view to this has John exclaimed, ‘The law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ John 1:17.’ Better is grace than the Law, and truth than the shadow.
- (10.) ‘Better’ then, as has been said, could not have been brought to pass by any other than the Son, who sits on the right hand of the Father. And what does this denote but the Son’s genuineness, and that the Godhead of the Father is the same as the Son’s ? For in that the Son reigns in His Father’s kingdom, is seated upon the same throne as the Father, and is contemplated in the Father’s Godhead, therefore is the Word God, and whoever beholds the Son, beholds the Father; and thus there is one God. Sitting then on the right, yet He does not place His Father on the left ; but whatever is right and precious in the Father, that also the Son has, and says, ‘All things that the Father has are Mine John 16:15.’ Wherefore also the Son, though sitting on the right, also sees the Father on the right, though it be as become man that He says, ‘I saw the Lord always before My face, for He is on My right hand, therefore I shall not fall.’ This shows moreover that the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son; for the Father being on the right, the Son is on the right; and while the Son sits on the right of the Father, the Father is in the Son. And the Angels indeed minister ascending and descending; but concerning the Son he says, ‘And let all the Angels of God worship Him Hebrews 1:6.’ And when Angels minister, they say, ‘I am sent unto you,’ and, ‘The Lord has commanded;’ but the Son, though He say in human fashion, ‘I am sent ,’ and comes to finish the work and to minister, nevertheless says, as being Word and Image, ‘I am in the Father, and the Father in Me;’ and, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father.’ and, ‘The Father that abides in Me, He does the works ;’ for what we behold in that Image are the Father’s works.
(11.) What has been already said ought to shame those persons who are fighting against the very truth; however, if, because it is written, ‘become better,’ they refuse to understand ‘become,’ as used of the Son, as ‘has been and is ;’ or again as referring to the better covenant having come to be , as we have said, but consider from this expression that the Word is called originate, let them hear the same again in a concise form, since they have forgotten what has been said.
- If the Son be in the number of the Angels, then let the word ‘become’ apply to Him as to them, and let Him not differ at all from them in nature; but be they either sons with Him, or be He an Angel with them; sit they one and all together on the right hand of the Father, or be the Son standing with them all as a ministering Spirit, sent forth to minister Himself as they are. But if on the other hand Paul distinguishes the Son from things originate, saying, ‘To which of the Angels said He at any time, You are My Son.’ and the one frames heaven and earth, but they are made by Him; and He sits with the Father, but they stand by ministering, who does not see that he has not used the word ‘become’ of the essence of the Word, but of the ministration come through Him? For as, being the ‘Word,’ He ‘became flesh,’ so when become man, He became by so much better in His ministry, than the ministry which came by the Angels, as Son excels servants and Framer things framed. Let them cease therefore to take the word ‘become’ of the substance of the Son, for He is not one of originated things; and let them acknowledge that it is indicative of His ministry and the Economy which came to pass.
(12.) But how He became better in His ministry, being better in nature than things originate, appears from what has been said before, which, I consider, is sufficient in itself to put them to shame. But if they carry on the contest, it will be proper upon their rash daring to close with them, and to oppose to them those similar expressions which are used concerning the Father Himself. This may serve to shame them to refrain their tongue from evil, or may teach them the depth of their folly. Now it is written, ‘Become my strong rock and house of defense, that You may save me.’ And again, ‘The Lord became a defense for the oppressed ,’ and the like which are found in divine Scripture. If then they apply these passages to the Son, which perhaps is nearest to the truth, then let them acknowledge that the sacred writers ask Him, as not being originate, to become to them ‘a strong rock and house of defense;’ and for the future let them understand ‘become,’ and ‘He made,’ and ‘He created,’ of His incarnate presence. For then did He become ‘a strong rock and house of defense,’ when He bore our sins in His own body upon the tree, and said, ‘Come unto Me, all you that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest Matthew 11:28.’
- But if they refer these passages to the Father, will they, when it is here also written, ‘Become’ and ‘He became,’ venture so far as to affirm that God is originate? Yea, they will dare, as they thus argue concerning His Word; for the course of their argument carries them on to conjecture the same things concerning the Father, as they devise concerning His Word. But far be such a notion ever from the thoughts of all the faithful! For neither is the Son in the number of things originated, nor do the words of Scripture in question, ‘Become,’ and ‘He became,’ denote beginning of being, but that succour which was given to the needy. For God is always, and one and the same; but men have come to be afterwards through the Word, when the Father Himself willed it; and God is invisible and inaccessible to originated things, and especially to men upon earth. When then men in infirmity invoke Him, when in persecution they ask help, when under injuries they pray, then the Invisible, being a lover of man, shines forth upon them with His beneficence, which He exercises through and in His proper Word. And immediately the divine manifestation is made to every one according to his need, and is made to the weak health, and to the persecuted a ‘refuge’ and ‘house of defense;’ and to the injured He says, ‘While you speak I will say, Here I am Isaiah 58:9.’ Whatever defense then comes to each through the Son, that each says that God has come to be to himself, since succour comes from God Himself through the Word. Moreover the usage of men recognises this, and every one will confess its propriety. Often succour comes from man to man; one has undertaken toil for the injured, as Abraham for Lot; and another has opened his home to the persecuted, as Obadiah to the sons of the prophets; and another has entertained a stranger, as Lot the Angels; and another has supplied the needy, as Job those who begged of him. And then, should one and the other of these benefited persons say, ‘Such a one became an assistance to me,’ and another ‘and to me a refuge,’ and ‘to another a supply,’ yet in so saying would not be speaking of the original becoming or of the essence of their benefactors, but of the beneficence coming to themselves from them; so also when the saints say concerning God, ‘He became’ and ‘become Thou,’ they do not denote any original becoming, for God is without beginning and unoriginate, but the salvation which is made to be unto men from Him.
- This being so understood, it is parallel also respecting the Son, that whatever, and however often, is said, such as, ‘He became’ and ‘become,’ should ever have the same sense: so that as, when we hear the words in question, ‘become better than the Angels’ and ‘He became,’ we should not conceive any original becoming of the Word, nor in any way fancy from such terms that He is originate; but should understand Paul’s words of His ministry and Economy when He became man. For when ‘the Word became flesh and dwelt among us John 1:14 ‘ and came to minister and to grant salvation to all, then He became to us salvation, and became life, and became propitiation; then His economy in our behalf became much better than the Angels, and He became the Way and became the Resurrection. And as the words ‘Become my strong rock’ do not denote that the essence of God Himself became, but His lovingkindness, as has been said, so also here the ‘having become better than the Angels,’ and, ‘He became,’ and, ‘by so much is Jesus become a better surety,’ do not signify that the essence of the Word is originate (perish the thought!), but the beneficence which towards us came to be through His becoming Man; unthankful though the heretics be, and obstinate in behalf of their irreligion.