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.)
Second Discourse Against the Arians:
- I did indeed think that enough had been said already against the hollow professors of Arius’s madness, whether for their refutation or in the truth’s behalf, to insure a cessation and repentance of their evil thoughts and words about the Saviour. They, however, for whatever reason, still do not succumb; but, as swine and dogs wallow in their own vomit and their own mire, rather invent new expedients for their irreligion. Thus they misunderstand the passage in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord has created me a beginning of His ways for His works ,’ and the words of the Apostle, ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him Hebrews 3:2,’ and straightway argue, that the Son of God is a work and a creature. But although they might have learned from what is said above, had they not utterly lost their power of apprehension, that the Son is not from nothing nor in the number of things originate at all, the Truth witnessing it (for, being God, He cannot be a work, and it is impious to call Him a creature, and it is of creatures and works that we say, ‘out of nothing,’ and ‘it was not before its generation’), yet since, as if dreading to desert their own fiction, they are accustomed to allege the aforesaid passages of divine Scripture, which have a good meaning, but are by them practised on, let us proceed afresh to take up the question of the sense of these, to remind the faithful, and to show from each of these passages that they have no knowledge at all of Christianity. Were it otherwise, they would not have shut themselves up in the unbelief of the present Jews , but would have inquired and learned that, whereas ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,’ in consequence, it was when at the good pleasure of the Father the Word became man, that it was said of Him, as by John, ‘The Word became flesh John 1:14;’ so by Peter, ‘He has made Him Lord and Christ Acts 2:36 ‘ — as by means of Solomon in the Person of the Lord Himself, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works Proverbs 8:22;’ so by Paul, ‘Become so much better than the Angels Hebrews 1:4;’ and again, ‘He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant Philippians 2:7;’ and again, ‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus, who was faithful to Him that made Him.’ For all these texts have the same force and meaning, a religious one, declarative of the divinity of the Word, even those of them which speak humanly concerning Him, as having become the Son of man. But, though this distinction is sufficient for their refutation, still, since from a misconception of the Apostle’s words (to mention them first), they consider the Word of God to be one of the works, because of its being written, ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him,’ I have thought it needful to silence this further argument of theirs, taking in hand , as before, their statement.
- If then He be not a Son, let Him be called a work, and let all that is said of works be said of Him, nor let Him and Him alone be called Son, nor Word, nor Wisdom; neither let God be called Father, but only Framer and Creator of things which by Him come to be; and let the creature be Image and Expression of His framing will, and let Him, as they would have it, be without generative nature, so that there be neither Word, nor Wisdom, no, nor Image, of His proper substance. For if He be not Son , neither is He Image. But if there be not a Son, how then say you that God is a Creator? Since all things that come to be are through the Word and in Wisdom, and without This nothing can be, whereas you say He has not That in and through which He makes all things. For if the Divine Essence be not fruitful itself , but barren, as they hold, as a light that lightens not, and a dry fountain, are they not ashamed to speak of His possessing framing energy? And whereas they deny what is by nature, do they not blush to place before it what is by will ? But if He frames things that are external to Him and before were not, by willing them to be, and becomes their Maker, much more will He first be Father of an Offspring from His proper Essence. For if they attribute to God the willing about things which are not, why recognise they not that in God which lies above the will? Now it is a something that surpasses will, that He should be by nature, and should be Father of His proper Word. If then that which comes first, which is according to nature, did not exist, as they would have it in their folly, how could that which is second come to be, which is according to will? For the Word is first, and then the creation. On the contrary the Word exists, whatever they affirm, those irreligious ones; for through Him did creation come to be, and God, as being Maker, plainly has also His framing Word, not external, but proper to Him — for this must be repeated. If He has the power of will, and His will is effective, and suffices for the consistence of the things that come to be, and His Word is effective, and a Framer, that Word must surely be the living Will of the Father, and an essential energy, and a real Word, in whom all things both consist and are excellently governed. No one can even doubt, that He who disposes is prior to the disposition and the things disposed. And thus, as I said, God’s creating is second to His begetting; for Son implies something proper to Him and truly from that blessed and everlasting Essence; but what is from His will, comes into consistence from without, and is framed through His proper Offspring who is from It.
- As we have shown then they are guilty of great extravagance who say that the Lord is not Son of God, but a work, and it follows that we all of necessity confess that He is Son. And if He be Son, as indeed He is, and a son is confessed to be not external to his father but from him, let them not question about the terms, as I said before, which the sacred writers use of the Word Himself, viz. not ‘to Him that begot Him,’ but ‘to Him that made Him;’ for while it is confessed what His nature is, what word is used in such instances need raise no question. For terms do not disparage His Nature; rather that Nature draws to Itself those terms and changes them. For terms are not prior to essences, but essences are first, and terms second. Wherefore also when the essence is a work or creature, then the words ‘He made,’ and ‘He became,’ and ‘He created,’ are used of it properly, and designate the work. But when the Essence is an Offspring and Son, then ‘He made,’ and ‘He became,’ and ‘He created,’ no longer properly belong to it, nor designate a work; but ‘He made’ we use without question for ‘He begot.’ Thus fathers often call the sons born of them their servants, yet without denying the genuineness of their nature; and often they affectionately call their own servants children, yet without putting out of sight their purchase of them originally; for they use the one appellation from their authority as being fathers, but in the other they speak from affection. Thus Sara called Abraham lord, though not a servant but a wife; and while to Philemon the master the Apostle joined Onesimus the servant as a brother, Bathsheba, although mother, called her son servant, saying to his father, ‘Your servant Solomon 1 Kings 1:19;’— afterwards also Nathan the Prophet came in and repeated her words to David, ‘Solomon your servant.’ Nor did they mind calling the son a servant, for while David heard it, he recognised the ‘nature,’ and while they spoke it, they forgot not the ‘genuineness,’ praying that he might be made his father’s heir, to whom they gave the name of servant; for to David he was son by nature.
- As then, when we read this, we interpret it fairly, without accounting Solomon a servant because we hear him so called, but a son natural and genuine, so also, if, concerning the Saviour, who is confessed to be in truth the Son, and to be the Word by nature, the saints say, ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him,’ or if He say of Himself, ‘The Lord created me,’ and, ‘I am Your servant and the Son of Your handmaid ,’ and the like, let not any on this account deny that He is proper to the Father and from Him; but, as in the case of Solomon and David, let them have a right idea of the Father and the Son. For if, though they hear Solomon called a servant, they acknowledge him to be a son, are they not deserving of many deaths , who, instead of preserving the same explanation in the instance of the Lord, whenever they hear ‘Offspring,’ and ‘Word,’ and ‘Wisdom,’ forcibly misinterpret and deny the generation, natural and genuine, of the Son from the Father; but on hearing words and terms proper to a work, immediately drop down to the notion of His being by nature a work, and deny the Word; and this, though it is possible, from His having been made man, to refer all these terms to His humanity? And are they not proved to be ‘an abomination’ also ‘unto the Lord,’ as having ‘diverse weights Proverbs 20:23 ‘ with them, and with this estimating those other instances, and with that blaspheming the Lord? But perhaps they grant that the word ‘servant’ is used under a certain understanding, but lay stress upon ‘Who made’ as some great support of their heresy. But this stay of theirs also is but a broken reed; for if they are aware of the style of Scripture, they must at once give sentence against themselves. For as Solomon, though a son, is called a servant, so, to repeat what was said above, although parents call the sons springing from themselves ‘made’ and ‘created’ and ‘becoming,’ for all this they do not deny their nature. Thus Hezekiah, as it is written in Isaiah, said in his prayer, ‘From this day I will make children, who shall declare Your righteousness, O God of my salvation.’ He then said, ‘I will make;’ but the Prophet in that very book and the Fourth of Kings, thus speaks, ‘And the sons who shall come forth of you 2 Kings 20:18; Isaiah 39:7.’ He uses then ‘make’ for ‘beget,’ and he calls them who were to spring from him, ‘made,’ and no one questions whether the term has reference to a natural offspring. Again, Eve on bearing Cain said, ‘I have gotten a man from the Lord ;’ thus she too used ‘gotten’ for ‘brought forth.’ For, first she saw the child, yet next she said, ‘I have gotten.’ Nor would any one consider, because of ‘I have gotten,’ that Cain was purchased from without, instead of being born of her. Again, the Patriarch Jacob said to Joseph, ‘And now your two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which became yours in Egypt, before I came unto you into Egypt, are mine.’ And Scripture says about Job, ‘And there came to him seven sons and three daughters.’ As Moses too has said in the Law, ‘If sons become to any one,’ and ‘If he make a son.’ Here again they speak of those who are begotten, as ‘become’ and ‘made,’ knowing that, while they are acknowledged to be sons, we need not make a question of ‘they became,’ or ‘I have gotten,’ or ‘I made.’ For nature and truth draw the meaning to themselves.
- This being so , when persons ask whether the Lord is a creature or work, it is proper to ask of them this first, whether He is Son and Word and Wisdom. For if this is shown, the surmise about work and creation falls to the ground at once and is ended. For a work could never be Son and Word; nor could the Son be a work. And again, this being the state of the case, the proof is plain to all, that the phrase, ‘To Him who made Him’ does not serve their heresy, but rather condemns it. For it has been shown that the expression ‘He made’ is applied in divine Scripture even to children genuine and natural; whence, the Lord being proved to be the Father’s Son naturally and genuinely, and Word, and Wisdom, though ‘He made’ be used concerning Him, or ‘He became,’ this is not said of Him as if a work, but the saints make no question about using the expression — for instance in the case of Solomon, and Hezekiah’s children. For though the fathers had begotten them from themselves, still it is written, ‘I have made,’ and ‘I have gotten,’ and ‘He became.’ Therefore God’s enemies, in spite of their repeated allegation of such phrases , ought now, though late in the day, after what has been said, to disown their irreligious thoughts, and think of the Lord as of a true Son, Word, and Wisdom of the Father, not a work, not a creature. For if the Son be a creature, by what word then and by what wisdom was He made Himself ? For all the works were made through the Word and the Wisdom, as it is written, ‘In wisdom have You made them all,’ and, ‘All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.’ But if it be He who is the Word and the Wisdom, by which all things come to be, it follows that He is not in the number of works, nor in short of things originate, but the Offspring of the Father.
- For consider how grave an error it is, to call God’s Word a work. Solomon says in one place in Ecclesiastes, that ‘God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil Ecclesiastes 12:14.’ If then the Word be a work, do you mean that He as well as others will be brought into judgment? And what room is there for judgment, when the Judge is on trial? Who will give to the just their blessing, who to the unworthy their punishment, the Lord, as you must suppose, standing on trial with the rest? By what law shall He, the Lawgiver, Himself be judged? These things are proper to the works, to be on trial, to be blessed and to be punished by the Son. Now then fear the Judge, and let Solomon’s words convince you. For if God shall bring the works one and all into judgment, but the Son is not in the number of things put on trial, but rather is Himself the Judge of works one and all, is not the proof clearer than the sun, that the Son is not a work but the Father’s Word, in whom all the works both come to be and come into judgment? Further, if the expression, ‘Who was faithful,’ is a difficulty to them, from the thought that ‘faithful’ is used of Him as of others, as if He exercises faith and so receives the reward of faith, they must proceed at this rate to find fault with Moses for saying, ‘God faithful and true ,’ and with St. Paul for writing, ‘God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that you are able 1 Corinthians 10:13.’ But when the saints spoke thus, they were not thinking of God in a human way, but they acknowledged two senses of the word ‘faithful’ in Scripture, first ‘believing,’ then ‘trustworthy,’ of which the former belongs to man, the latter to God. Thus Abraham was faithful, because He believed God’s word; and God faithful, for, as David says in the Psalm, ‘The Lord is faithful in all His words ,’ or is trustworthy, and cannot lie. Again, ‘If any faithful woman have widows 1 Timothy 5:16,’ she is so called for her right faith; but, ‘It is a faithful saying ,’ because what He has spoken has a claim on our faith, for it is true, and is not otherwise. Accordingly the words, ‘Who is faithful to Him that made Him,’ implies no parallel with others, nor means that by having faith He became well-pleasing; but that, being Son of the True God, He too is faithful, and ought to be believed in all He says and does, Himself remaining unalterable and not changed in His human Economy and fleshly presence.
- Thus then we may meet these men who are shameless, and from the single expression ‘He made,’ may show that they err in thinking that the Word of God is a work. But further, since the drift also of the context is orthodox, showing the time and the relation to which this expression points, I ought to show from it also how the heretics lack reason; viz. by considering, as we have done above, the occasion when it was used and for what purpose. Now the Apostle is not discussing things before the creation when he thus speaks, but when ‘the Word became flesh;’ for thus it is written, ‘Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession Jesus, who was faithful to Him that made Him.’ Now when became He ‘Apostle,’ but when He put on our flesh? And when became He ‘High Priest of our profession,’ but when, after offering Himself for us, He raised His Body from the dead, and, as now, Himself brings near and offers to the Father those who in faith approach Him, redeeming all, and for all propitiating God? Not then as wishing to signify the Essence of the Word nor His natural generation from the Father, did the Apostle say, ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him’— (perish the thought! For the Word is not made, but makes)— but as signifying His descent to mankind and High-priesthood which did ‘become’— as one may easily see from the account given of the Law and of Aaron. I mean, Aaron was not born a high-priest, but a man; and in process of time, when God willed, he became a high-priest; yet became so, not simply, nor as betokened by his ordinary garments, but putting over them the ephod, the breastplate Exodus 29:5, the robe, which the women wrought at God’s command, and going in them into the holy place, he offered the sacrifice for the people; and in them, as it were, mediated between the vision of God and the sacrifices of men. Thus then the Lord also, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;’ but when the Father willed that ransoms should be paid for all and to all, grace should be given, then truly the Word, as Aaron his robe, so did He take earthly flesh, having Mary for the Mother of His Body as if virgin earth , that, as a High Priest, having He as others an offering, He might offer Himself to the Father, and cleanse us all from sins in His own blood, and might rise from the dead.
- For what happened of old was a shadow of this; and what the Saviour did on His coming, this Aaron shadowed out according to the Law. As then Aaron was the same and did not change by putting on the high-priestly dress , but remaining the same was only robed, so that, had any one seen him offering, and had said, ‘Lo, Aaron has this day become high-priest,’ he had not implied that he then had been born man, for man he was even before he became high-priest, but that he had been made high-priest in his ministry, on putting on the garments made and prepared for the high-priesthood; in the same way it is possible in the Lord’s instance also to understand aright, that He did not become other than Himself on taking the flesh, but, being the same as before, He was robed in it; and the expressions ‘He became’ and ‘He was made,’ must not be understood as if the Word, considered as the Word , were made, but that the Word, being Framer of all, afterwards was made High Priest, by putting on a body which was originate and made, and such as He can offer for us; wherefore He is said to be made. If then indeed the Lord did not become man , that is a point for the Arians to battle; but if the ‘Word became flesh,’ what ought to have been said concerning Him when become man, but ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him?’ for as it is proper to the Word to have it said of Him, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ so it is proper to man to ‘become’ and to be ‘made.’ Who then, on seeing the Lord as a man walking about, and yet appearing to be God from His works, would not have asked, Who made Him man? And who again, on such a question, would not have answered, that the Father made Him man, and sent Him to us as High Priest? And this meaning, and time, and character, the Apostle himself, the writer of the words, ‘Who is faithful to Him that made Him,’ will best make plain to us, if we attend to what goes before them. For there is one train of thought, and the lection is all about One and the Same. He writes then in the Epistle to the Hebrews thus; ‘Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of Angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behooved Him to be made like His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself has suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus; who was faithful to Him that made Him. ‘
- Who can read this whole passage without condemning the Arians, and admiring the blessed Apostle, who has spoken well? For when was Christ ‘made,’ when became He ‘Apostle,’ except when, like us, He ‘took part in flesh and blood.’ And when became He ‘a merciful and faithful High Priest,’ except when ‘in all things He was made like His brethren.’ And then was He ‘made like,’ when He became man, having put upon Him our flesh. Wherefore Paul was writing concerning the Word’s human Economy, when he said, ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him,’ and not concerning His Essence. Have not therefore any more the madness to say that the Word of God is a work; whereas He is Son by nature Only-begotten, and then had ‘brethren,’ when He took on Him flesh like ours; which moreover, by Himself offering Himself, He was named and became ‘merciful and faithful,’— merciful, because in mercy to us He offered Himself for us, and faithful, not as sharing faith with us, nor as having faith in any one as we have, but as deserving to receive faith in all He says and does, and as offering a faithful sacrifice, one which remains and does not come to nought. For those which were offered according to the Law, had not this faithfulness, passing away with the day and needing a further cleansing; but the Saviour’s sacrifice, taking place once, has perfected everything, and has become faithful as remaining forever. And Aaron had successors, and in a word the priesthood under the Law exchanged its first ministers as time and death went on; but the Lord having a high priesthood without transition and without succession, has become a ‘faithful High Priest,’ as continuing for ever; and faithful too by promise, that He may hear and not mislead those who come to Him. This may be also learned from the Epistle of the great Peter, who says, ‘Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit their souls to a faithful Creator 1 Peter 4:19.’ For He is faithful as not changing, but abiding ever, and rendering what He has promised.
- Now the so-called gods of the Greeks, unworthy the name, are faithful neither in their essence nor in their promises; for the same are not everywhere, nay, the local deities come to nought in course of time, and undergo a natural dissolution; wherefore the Word cries out against them, that ‘faith is not strong in them,’ but they are ‘waters that fail,’ and ‘there is no faith in them.’ But the God of all, being one really and indeed and true, is faithful, who is ever the same, and says, ‘See now, that I, even I am He,’ and I ‘change not ;’ and therefore His Son is ‘faithful,’ being ever the same and unchanging, deceiving neither in His essence nor in His promise — as again says the Apostle writing to the Thessalonians, ‘Faithful is He who calls you, who also will do it 1 Thessalonians 5:24;’ for in doing what He promises, ‘He is faithful to His words.’ And he thus writes to the Hebrews as to the word’s meaning ‘unchangeable;’ ‘If we believe not, yet He abides faithful; He cannot deny Himself 2 Timothy 2:13.’ Therefore reasonably the Apostle, discoursing concerning the bodily presence of the Word, says, an ‘Apostle and faithful to Him that made Him,’ showing us that, even when made man, ‘Jesus Christ’ is ‘the same yesterday, and today, and for ever Hebrews 13:8 ‘ is unchangeable. And as the Apostle makes mention in his Epistle of His being made man when mentioning His High Priesthood, so too he kept no long silence about His Godhead, but rather mentions it immediately, furnishing to us a safeguard on every side, and most of all when he speaks of His humility, that we may immediately know His loftiness and His majesty which is the Father’s. For instance, he says, ‘Moses as a servant, but Christ as a Son Hebrews 3:5-6;’ and the former ‘faithful in his house,’ and the latter ‘over the house,’ as having Himself built it, and being its Lord and Framer, and as God sanctifying it. For Moses, a man by nature, became faithful, in believing God who spoke to Him by His Word; but the Word was not as one of things originate in a body, nor as creature in creature, but as God in flesh , and Framer of all and Builder in that which was built by Him. And men are clothed in flesh in order to be and to subsist; but the Word of God was made man in order to sanctify the flesh, and, though He was Lord, was in the form of a servant; for the whole creature is the Word’s servant, which by Him came to be, and was made.
- Hence it holds that the Apostle’s expression, ‘He made,’ does not prove that the Word is made, but that body, which He took like ours; and in consequence He is called our brother, as having become man. But if it has been shown, that, even though the word ‘made’ be referred to the Very Word, it is used for ‘begot,’ what further perverse expedient will they be able to fall upon, now that the present discussion has cleared up the word in every point of view, and shown that the Son is not a work, but in Essence indeed the Father’s offspring, while in the Economy, according to the good pleasure of the Father, He was on our behalf made, and consists as man? For this reason then it is said by the Apostle, ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him;’ and in the Proverbs, even creation is spoken of. For so long as we are confessing that He became man, there is no question about saying, as was observed before, whether ‘He became,’ or ‘He has been made,’ or ‘created,’ or ‘formed,’ or ‘servant,’ or ‘son of an handmaid,’ or ‘son of man,’ or ‘was constituted,’ or ‘took His journey,’ or ‘bridegroom,’ or ‘brother’s son,’ or ‘brother.’ All these terms happen to be proper to man’s constitution; and such as these do not designate the Essence of the Word, but that He has become man.
Chapter 15. Texts explained; Fifthly, Acts 2:36. The Regula Fidei must be observed; madeapplies to our Lord’s manhood; and to His manifestation; and to His office relative to us; and is relative to the Jews. Parallel instance in Genesis 27:29, 37. The context contradicts the Arianinterpretation.
11 (continued). The same is the meaning of the passage in the Acts which they also allege, that in which Peter says, that ‘He has made both Lord and Christ that same Jesus whom you have crucified.’ For here too it is not written, ‘He made for Himself a Son,’ or ‘He made Himself a Word,’ that they should have such notions. If then it has not escaped their memory, that they speak concerning the Son of God, let them make search whether it is anywhere written, ‘God made Himself a Son,’ or ‘He created for Himself a Word.’ or again, whether it is anywhere written in plain terms, ‘The Word is a work or creation.’ and then let them proceed to make their case, the insensate men, that here too they may receive their answer. But if they can produce nothing of the kind, and only catch at such stray expressions as ‘He made’ and ‘He has been made,’ I fear lest, from hearing, ‘In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth,’ and ‘He made the sun and the moon,’ and ‘He made the sea,’ they should come in time to call the Word the heaven, and the Light which took place on the first day, and the earth, and each particular thing that has been made, so as to end in resembling the Stoics, as they are called, the one drawing out their God into all things , the other ranking God’s Word with each work in particular; which they have well near done already, saying that He is one of His works.
- But here they must have the same answer as before, and first be told that the Word is a Son, as has been said above , and not a work, and that such terms are not to be understood of His Godhead, but the reason and manner of them investigated. To persons who so inquire, the human Economy will plainly present itself, which He undertook for our sake. For Peter, after saying, ‘He has made Lord and Christ,’ straightway added, ‘this Jesus whom you crucified;’ which makes it plain to any one, even, if so be, to them, provided they attend to the context, that not the Essence of the Word, but He according to His manhood is said to have been made. For what was crucified but the body? And how could be signified what was bodily in the Word, except by saying ‘He made?’ Especially has that phrase, ‘He made,’ a meaning consistent with orthodoxy; in that he has not said, as I observed before, ‘He made Him Word,’ but ‘He made Him Lord,’ nor that in general terms , but ‘towards’ us, and ‘in the midst of’ us, as much as to say, ‘He manifested Him.’ And this Peter himself, when he began this primary teaching, carefully expressed, when he said to them, ‘You men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man manifested of God towards you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as you yourselves know Acts 2:22.’ Consequently the term which he uses in the end, ‘made’, this He has explained in the beginning by ‘manifested,’ for by the signs and wonders which the Lord did, He was manifested to be not merely man, but God in a body and Lord also, the Christ. Such also is the passage in the Gospel according to John, ‘Therefore the more did the Jews persecute Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but said also that God was His own Father, making Himself equal with God.’ For the Lord did not then fashion Himself to be God, nor indeed is a made God conceivable, but He manifested it by the works, saying, ‘Though you believe not Me, believe My works, that you may know that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.’ Thus then the Father has ‘made’ Him Lord and King in the midst of us, and towards us who were once disobedient; and it is plain that He who is now displayed as Lord and King, does not then begin to be King and Lord, but begins to show His Lordship, and to extend it even over the disobedient.
- If then they suppose that the Saviour was not Lord and King, even before He became man and endured the Cross, but then began to be Lord, let them know that they are openly reviving the statements of the Samosatene. But if, as we have quoted and declared above, He is Lord and King everlasting, seeing that Abraham worships Him as Lord, and Moses says, ‘Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrha brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven Genesis 19:24;’ and David in the Psalms, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on My right hand ;’ and, ‘Your Throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Your Kingdom ;’ and, ‘Your Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom ;’ it is plain that even before He became man, He was King and Lord everlasting, being Image and Word of the Father. And the Word being everlasting Lord and King, it is very plain again that Peter said not that the Essence of the Son was made, but spoke of His Lordship over us, which ‘became’ when He became man, and, redeeming all by the Cross, became Lord of all and King. But if they continue the argument on the ground of its being written, ‘He made,’ not willing that ‘He made’ should be taken in the sense of ‘He manifested,’ either from want of apprehension, or from their Christ-opposing purpose, let them attend to another sound exposition of Peter’s words. For he who becomes Lord of others, comes into the possession of beings already in existence; but if the Lord is Framer of all and everlasting King, and when He became man, then gained possession of us, here too is a way in which Peter’s language evidently does not signify that the Essence of the Word is a work, but the after-subjection of all things, and the Saviour’s Lordship which came to be over all. And this coincides with what we said before ; for as we then introduced the words, ‘Become my God and defense,’ and ‘the Lord became a refuge for the oppressed ,’ and it stood to reason that these expressions do not show that God is originate, but that His beneficence ‘becomes’ towards each individual, the same sense has the expression of Peter also.
- For the Son of God indeed, being Himself the Word, is Lord of all; but we once were subject from the first to the slavery of corruption and the curse of the Law, then by degrees fashioning for ourselves things that were not, we served, as says the blessed Apostle, ‘them which by nature are no Gods Galatians 4:8,’ and, ignorant of the true God, we preferred things that were not to the truth; but afterwards, as the ancient people when oppressed in Egypt groaned, so, when we too had the Law ‘engrafted James 1:21 ‘ in us, and according to the unutterable sighings Romans 8:26 of the Spirit made our intercession, ‘O Lord our God, take possession of us ,’ then, as ‘He became for a house of refuge’ and a ‘God and defense,’ so also He became our Lord. Nor did He then begin to be, but we began to have Him for our Lord. For upon this, God being good and Father of the Lord, in pity, and desiring to be known by all, makes His own Son put on Him a human body and become man, and be called Jesus, that in this body offering Himself for all, He might deliver all from false worship and corruption, and might Himself become of all Lord and King. His becoming therefore in this way Lord and King, this it is that Peter means by, ‘He has made Him Lord,’ and ‘has sent Christ.’ as much as to say, that the Father in making Him man (for to be made belongs to man), did not simply make Him man, but has made Him in order to His being Lord of all men, and to His hallowing all through the Anointing. For though the Word existing in the form of God took a servant’s form, yet the assumption of the flesh did not make a servant of the Word, who was by nature Lord; but rather, not only was it that emancipation of all humanity which takes place by the Word, but that very Word who was by nature Lord, and was then made man, has by means of a servant’s form been made Lord of all and Christ, that is, in order to hallow all by the Spirit. And as God, when ‘becoming a God and defense,’ and saying, ‘I will be a God to them,’ does not then become God more than before, nor then begins to become God, but, what He ever is, that He then becomes to those who need Him, when it pleases Him, so Christ also being by nature Lord and King everlasting, does not become Lord more than He was at the time He is sent forth, nor then begins to be Lord and King, but what He is ever, that He then is made according to the flesh; and, having redeemed all, He becomes thereby again Lord of quick and dead. For Him henceforth do all things serve, and this is David’s meaning in the Psalm, ‘The Lord said to my Lord, Sit on My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.’ For it was fitting that the redemption should take place through none other than Him who is the Lord by nature, lest, though created by the Son, we should name another Lord, and fall into the Arian and Greek folly, serving the creature beyond the all-creating God.
- This, at least according to my nothingness, is the meaning of this passage; moreover, a true and a good meaning have these words of Peter as regards the Jews. For Jews, astray from the truth, expect indeed the Christ as coming, but do not reckon that He undergoes a passion, saying what they understand not; ‘We know that, when the Christ comes, He abides for ever, and how do You say, that He must be lifted up ?’ Next they suppose Him, not the Word coming in flesh, but a mere man, as were all the kings. The Lord then, admonishing Cleopas and the other, taught them that the Christ must first suffer; and the rest of the Jews that God had come among them, saying, ‘If He called them gods to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blaspheme, because I said, I am the Son of God John 10:36?’
- Peter then, having learned this from the Saviour, in both points set the Jews right, saying, O Jews, the divine Scriptures announce that Christ comes, and you consider Him a mere man as one of David’s descendants, whereas what is written of Him shows Him to be not such as you say, but rather announces Him as Lord and God, and immortal, and dispenser of life. For Moses has said, ‘You shall see your Life hanging before your eyes.’ And David in the hundred and ninth Psalm, ‘The Lord said to My Lord, Sit on My right hand, till I make Your enemies Your footstool ;’ and in the fifteenth, ‘You shall not leave my soul in hades, neither shall Thou suffer Your Holy One to see corruption.’ Now that these passages have not David for their scope he himself witnesses, avowing that He who was coming was His own Lord. Nay you yourselves know that He is dead, and His remains are with you. That the Christ then must be such as the Scriptures say, you will plainly confess yourselves. For those announcements come from God, and in them falsehood cannot be. If then ye can state that such a one has come before, and can prove him God from the signs and wonders which he did, you have reason for maintaining the contest, but if you are not able to prove His coming, but are expecting such an one still, recognise the true season from Daniel, for his words relate to the present time. But if this present season be that which was of old, afore-announced, and you have seen what has taken place among us, be sure that this Jesus, whom you crucified, this is the expected Christ. For David and all the Prophets died, and the sepulchres of all are with you, but that Resurrection which has now taken place, has shown that the scope of these passages is Jesus. For the crucifixion is denoted by ‘You shall see your Life hanging,’ and the wound in the side by the spear answers to ‘He was led as a sheep to the slaughter Isaiah 53:7,’ and the resurrection, nay more, the rising of the ancient dead from out their sepulchres (for these most of you have seen), this is, ‘You shall not leave My soul in hades,’ and ‘He swallowed up death in strength Isaiah 25:8,’ and again, ‘God will wipe away.’ For the signs which actually took place show that He who was in a body was God, and also the Life and Lord of death. For it became the Christ, when giving life to others, Himself not to be detained by death; but this could not have happened, had He, as you suppose, been a mere man. But in truth He is the Son of God, for men are all subject to death. Let no one therefore doubt, but the whole house of Israel know assuredly that this Jesus, whom you saw in shape a man, doing signs and such works, as no one ever yet had done, is Himself the Christ and Lord of all. For though made man, and called Jesus, as we said before, He received no loss by that human passion, but rather, in being made man, He is manifested as Lord of quick and dead. For since, as the Apostle said, ‘in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe 1 Corinthians 1:21.’ And so, since we men would not acknowledge God through His Word, nor serve the Word of God our natural Master, it pleased God to show in man His own Lordship, and so to draw all men to Himself. But to do this by a mere man beseemed not ; lest, having man for our Lord, we should become worshippers of man. Therefore the Word Himself became flesh, and the Father called His Name Jesus, and so ‘made’ Him Lord and Christ, as much as to say, ‘He made Him to rule and to reign;’ that while in the Name of Jesus, whom you crucified, every knee bows, we may acknowledge as Lord and King both the Son and through Him the Father.
- The Jews then, most of them , hearing this, came to themselves and immediately acknowledged the Christ, as it is written in the Acts. But, the Ario-maniacs on the contrary choose to remain Jews, and to contend with Peter; so let us proceed to place before them some parallel phrases; perhaps it may have some effect upon them, to find what the usage is of divine Scripture. Now that Christ is everlasting Lord and King, has become plain by what has gone before, nor is there a man to doubt about it; for being Son of God, He must be like Him , and being like, He is certainly both Lord and King, for He says Himself, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father.’ On the other hand, that Peter’s mere words, ‘He has made Him both Lord and Christ,’ do not imply the Son to be a creature, may be seen from Isaac’s blessing, though this illustration is but a faint one for our subject. Now he said to Jacob, ‘Become thou lord over your brother;’ and to Esau, ‘Behold, I have made him your lord.’ Now though the word ‘made’ had implied Jacob’s essence and the coming into being, even then it would not be right in them as much as to imagine the same of the Word of God, for the Son of God is no creature as Jacob was; besides, they might inquire and so rid themselves of that extravagance. But if they do not understand it of his essence nor of his coming into being, though Jacob was by nature creature and work, is not their madness worse than the Devil’s , if what they dare not ascribe in consequence of a like phrase even to things by nature originate, that they attach to the Son of God, saying that He is a creature? For Isaac said ‘Become’ and ‘I have made,’ signifying neither the coming into being nor the essence of Jacob (for after thirty years and more from his birth he said this); but his authority over his brother, which came to pass subsequently.
- Much more then did Peter say this without meaning that the Essence of the Word was a work; for he knew Him to be God’s Son, confessing, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God Matthew 16:16;’ but he meant His Kingdom and Lordship which was formed and came to be according to grace, and was relatively to us. For while saying this, he was not silent about the Son of God’s everlasting Godhead which is the Father’s; but He had said already, that He had poured the Spirit on us; now to give the Spirit with authority, is not in the power of creature or work, but the Spirit is God’s Gift. For the creatures are hallowed by the Holy Spirit; but the Son, in that He is not hallowed by the Spirit, but on the contrary Himself the Giver of it to all , is therefore no creature, but true Son of the Father. And yet He who gives the Spirit, the same is said also to be made; that is, to be made among us Lord because of His manhood, while giving the Spirit because He is God’s Word. For He ever was and is, as Son, so also Lord and Sovereign of all, being like in all things to the Father, and having all that is the Father’s as He Himself has said.
Chapter 16. Introductory to Proverbs 8:22, that the Son is not a Creature. Arianformula, a creature but not as one of the creatures; but each creature is unlike all other creatures; and no creature can create. The Word then differs from all creatures in that in which they, though otherwise differing, all agree together, as creatures; viz. in being an efficient cause; in being the one medium or instrumental agent in creation; moreover in being the revealer of the Father; and in being the object of worship.
- (continued). Now in the next place let us consider the passage in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works ;’ although in showing that the Word is no work, it has been also shown that He is no creature. For it is the same to say work or creature, so that the proof that He is no work is a proof also that He is no creature. Whereas one may marvel at these men, thus devising excuses to be irreligious, and nothing daunted at the refutations which meet them upon every point. For first they set about deceiving the simple by their questions, ‘Did He who is make from that which was not one that was not or one that was ?’ and, ‘Had you a son before begetting him ?’ And when this had been proved worthless, next they invented the question, ‘Is the Unoriginate one or two ?’ Then, when in this they had been confuted, straightway they formed another, ‘Has He free-will and an alterable nature ?’ But being forced to give up this, next they set about saying, ‘Being made so much better than the Angels ;’ and when the truth exposed this pretence, now again, collecting them all together, they think to recommend their heresy by ‘work’ and ‘creature.’ For they mean those very things over again, and are true to their own perverseness, putting into various shapes and turning to and fro the same errors, if so be to deceive some by that variousness. Although then abundant proof has been given above of this their reckless expedient, yet, since they make all places sound with this passage from the Proverbs, and to many who are ignorant of the faith of Christians, seem to say somewhat, it is necessary to examine separately, ‘He created’ as well as ‘Who was faithful to Him that made Him ;’ that, as in all others, so in this text also, they may be proved to have got no further than a fantasy.
- And first let us see the answers, which they returned to Alexander of blessed memory, in the outset, while their heresy was in course of formation. They wrote thus: ‘He is a creature, but not as one of the creatures; a work, but not as one of the works; an offspring, but not as one of the offsprings.’ Let every one consider the profligacy and craft of this heresy; for knowing the bitterness of its own malignity, it makes an effort to trick itself out with fair words, and says, what indeed it means, that He is a creature, yet thinks to be able to screen itself by adding, ‘but not as one of the creatures.’ However, in thus writing, they rather convict themselves of irreligion; for if, in your opinion, He is simply a creature, why add the pretence , ‘but not as one of the creatures?’ And if He is simply a work, how ‘not as one of the works?’ In which we may see the poison of the heresy. For by saying, ‘offspring, but not as one of the offsprings,’ they reckon many sons, and one of these they pronounce to be the Lord; so that according to them He is no more Only begotten, but one out of many brethren, and is called offspring and son. What use then is this pretence of saying that He is a creature and not a creature? For though you shall say, Not as ‘one of the creatures,’ I will prove this sophism of yours to be foolish. For still ye pronounce Him to be one of the creatures; and whatever a man might say of the other creatures, such ye hold concerning the Son, you truly ‘fools and blind Matthew 23:19.’ For is any one of the creatures just what another is , that you should predicate this of the Son as some prerogative ? And all the visible creation was made in six days:— in the first, the light which He called day; in the second the firmament; in the third, gathering together the waters, He bared the dry land, and brought out the various fruits that are in it; and in the fourth, He made the sun and the moon and all the host of the stars; and on the fifth, He created the race of living things in the sea, and of birds in the air; and on the sixth, He made the quadrupeds on the earth, and at length man. And ‘the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made Romans 1:20;’ and neither the light is as the night, nor the sun as the moon; nor the irrational as rational man; nor the Angels as the Thrones, nor the Thrones as the Authorities, yet they are all creatures, but each of the things made according to its kind exists and remains in its own essence, as it was made.
- Let the Word then be excepted from the works, and as Creator be restored to the Father, and be confessed to be Son by nature; or if simply He be a creature, then let Him be assigned the same condition as the rest one with another, and let them as well as He be said every one of them to be ‘a creature but not as one of the creatures, offspring or work, but not as one of the works or offsprings.’ For you say that an offspring is the same as a work, writing ‘generated or made.’ For though the Son excel the rest on a comparison, still a creature He is nevertheless, as they are; since in those which are by nature creatures one may find some excelling others. Star, for instance, differs from star in glory, and the rest have all of them their mutual differences when compared together; yet it follows not for all this that some are lords, and others servants to the superior, nor that some are efficient causes , others by them come into being, but all have a nature which comes to be and is created, confessing in their own selves their Framer: as David says in the Psalms, ‘The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handy work ;’ and as Zorobabel the wise says, ‘All the earth calls upon the Truth, and the heaven blesses it: all works shake and tremble at it Ezra 4:36.’ But if the whole earth hymns the Framer and the Truth, and blesses, and fears it, and its Framer is the Word, and He Himself says, ‘I am the Truth John 14:6,’ it follows that the Word is not a creature, but alone proper to the Father, in whom all things are disposed, and He is celebrated by all, as Framer; for ‘I was by Him disposing ;’ and ‘My Father works hitherto, and I work John 5:17.’ And the word ‘hitherto’ shows His eternal existence in the Father as the Word; for it is proper to the Word to work the Father’s works and not to be external to Him.
- But if what the Father works, that the Son works also , and what the Son creates, that is the creation of the Father, and yet the Son be the Father’s work or creature, then either He will work His own self, and will be His own creator (since what the Father works is the Son’s work also), which is absurd and impossible; or, in that He creates and works the things of the Father, He Himself is not a work nor a creature; for else being Himself an efficient cause , He may cause that to be in the case of things caused, which He Himself has become, or rather He may have no power to cause at all.
For how, if, as you hold, He has come of nothing, is He able to frame things that are nothing into being? Or if He, a creature, withal frames a creature, the same will be conceivable in the case of every creature, viz. the power to frame others. And if this pleases you, what is the need of the Word, seeing that things inferior can be brought to be by things superior? Or at all events, every thing that is brought to be could have heard in the beginning God’s words, ‘Become’ and ‘be made,’ and so would have been framed. But this is not so written, nor could it be. For none of things which are brought to be is an efficient cause, but all things were made through the Word: who would not have wrought all things, were He Himself in the number of the creatures. For neither would the Angels be able to frame, since they too are creatures, though Valentinus, and Marcion, and Basilides think so, and you are their copyists; nor will the sun, as being a creature, ever make what is not into what is; nor will man fashion man, nor stone devise stone, nor wood give growth to wood. But God is He who fashions man in the womb, and fixes the mountains, and makes wood grow; whereas man, as being capable of science, puts together and arranges that material, and works things that are, as he has learned; and is satisfied if they are but brought to be, and being conscious of what his nature is, if he needs anything, knows to ask it of God.
- If then God also wrought and compounded out of materials, this indeed is a gentile thought, according to which God is an artificer and not a Maker, but yet even in that case let the Word work the materials, at the bidding and in the service of God. But if He calls into existence things which existed not by His proper Word, then the Word is not in the number of things non-existing and called; or we have to seek another Word , through whom He too was called; for by the Word the things which were not have come to be. And if through Him He creates and makes, He is not Himself of things created and made; but rather He is the Word of the Creator God and is known from the Father’s works which He Himself works, to be ‘in the Father and the Father in Him,’ and ‘He that has seen Him has seen the Father ,’ because the Son’s Essence is proper to the Father, and He in all points like Him. How then does He create through Him, unless it be His Word and His Wisdom? And how can He be Word and Wisdom, unless He be the proper offspring of His Essence , and did not come to be, as others, out of nothing? And whereas all things are from nothing, and are creatures, and the Son, as they say, is one of the creatures too and of things which once were not, how does He alone reveal the Father, and none else but He know the Father? For could He, a work, possibly know the Father, then must the Father be also known by all according to the proportion of the measures of each: for all of them are works as He is. But if it be impossible for things originate either to see or to know, for the sight and the knowledge of Him surpasses all (since God Himself says, ‘No one shall see My face and live ‘), yet the Son has declared, ‘No one knows the Father, save the Son Matthew 11:27,’ therefore the Word is different from all things originate, in that He alone knows and alone sees the Father, as He says, ‘Not that any one has seen the Father, save He that is from the Father,’ and ‘no one knows the Father save the Son ,’ though Arius think otherwise. How then did He alone know, except that He alone was proper to Him? And how proper, if He were a creature, and not a true Son from Him? (For one must not mind saying often the same thing for religion’s sake.) Therefore it is irreligious to think that the Son is one of all things; and blasphemous and unmeaning to call Him ‘a creature, but not as one of the creatures, and a work, but not as one of the works, an offspring, but not as one of the offsprings.’ for how not as one of these, if, as they say, He was not before His generation ? For it is proper to the creatures and works not to be before their origination, and to subsist out of nothing, even though they excel other creatures in glory; for this difference of one with another will be found in all creatures, which appears in those which are visible.
- Moreover if, as the heretics hold, the Son were creature or work, but not as one of the creatures, because of His excelling them in glory, it were natural that Scripture should describe and display Him by a comparison in His favour with the other works; for instance, that it should say that He is greater than Archangels, and more honourable than the Thrones, and both brighter than sun and moon, and greater than the heavens. But he is not in fact thus referred to; but the Father shows Him to be His own proper and only Son, saying, ‘You are My Son,’ and ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.’ Accordingly the Angels ministered unto Him, as being one beyond themselves; and they worship Him, not as being greater in glory, but as being some one beyond all the creatures, and beyond themselves, and alone the Father’s proper Son according to essence. For if He was worshipped as excelling them in glory, each of things subservient ought to worship what excels itself. But this is not the case ; for creature does not worship creature, but servant Lord, and creature God. Thus Peter the Apostle hinders Cornelius who would worship him, saying, ‘I myself also am a man Acts 10:26.’ And an Angel, when John would worship him in the Apocalypse, hinders him, saying, ‘See thou do it not; for I am your fellow-servant, and of your brethren the Prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book: worship God Revelation 22:9.’ Therefore to God alone appertains worship, and this the very Angels know, that though they excel other beings in glory, yet they are all creatures and not to be worshipped , but worship the Lord. Thus Manoah, the father of Samson, wishing to offer sacrifice to the Angel, was thereupon hindered by him, saying, ‘Offer not to me, but to God.’ On the other hand, the Lord is worshipped even by the Angels; for it is written, ‘Let all the Angels of God worship Him Hebrews 1:6;’ and by all the Gentiles, as Isaiah says, ‘The labour of Egypt and merchandize of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto you, and they shall be your servants;’ and then, ‘they shall fall down unto you, and shall make supplication unto you, saying, Surely God is in you, and there is none else, there is no God Isaiah 45:14.’ And He accepts His disciples’ worship, and certifies them who He is, saying, ‘Call ye Me not Lord and Master? And you say well, for so I am.’ And when Thomas said to Him, ‘My Lord and my God ,’ He allows his words, or rather accepts him instead of hindering him. For He is, as the other Prophets declare, and David says in the Psalm, ‘the Lord of hosts, the Lord of Sabaoth,’ which is interpreted, ‘the Lord of Armies,’ and God True and Almighty, though the Arians burst at the tidings.
- But He had not been thus worshipped, nor been thus spoken of, were He a creature merely. But now since He is not a creature, but the proper offspring of the Essence of that God who is worshipped, and His Son by nature, therefore He is worshipped and is believed to be God, and is Lord of armies, and in authority, and Almighty, as the Father is; for He has said Himself, ‘All things that the Father has, are Mine John 16:15.’ For it is proper to the Son, to have the things of the Father, and to be such that the Father is seen in Him, and that through Him all things were made, and that the salvation of all comes to pass and consists in Him.
Chapter 17. Introduction to Proverbs 8:22 continued. Absurdity of supposing a Son or Word created in order to the creation of other creatures; as to the creation being unable to bear God’s immediate hand, God condescends to the lowest. Moreover, if the Son a creature, He too could not bear God’s hand, and an infiniteseries of media will be necessary. Objected, that, as Moseswho led out the Israelites was a man, so our Lord; but Moseswas not the Agent in creation:— again, that unity is found in created ministrations, but all such ministrations are defective and dependent:— again, that He learned to create, yet could God’s Wisdom need teaching? And why should He learn, if the Father works hitherto? If the Son was created to create us, He is for our sake, not we for His
- (continued). And here it were well to ask them also this question , for a still clearer refutation of their heresy — Wherefore, when all things are creatures, and all are brought into consistence from nothing, and the Son Himself, according to you, is creature and work, and once was not, wherefore has He made ‘all things through Him’ alone, ‘and without Him was made not one thing John 1:3?’ or why is it, when ‘all things’ are spoken of, that no one thinks the Son is signified in the number, but only things originate; whereas when Scripture speaks of the Word, it does not understand Him as being in the number of ‘all,’ but places Him with the Father, as Him in whom Providence and salvation for ‘all’ are wrought and effected by the Father, though all things surely might at the same command have come to be, at which He was brought into being by God alone? For God is not wearied by commanding , nor is His strength unequal to the making of all things, that He should alone create the only Son , and need His ministry and aid for the framing of the rest. For He lets nothing stand over, which He wills to be done; but He willed only , and all things subsisted, and no one ‘has resisted His will Romans 9:19.’ Why then were not all things brought into being by God alone at that same command, at which the Son came into being? Or let them tell us, why did all things through Him come to be, who was Himself but originate? How void of reason! However, they say concerning Him, that ‘God willing to create originate nature, when He saw that it could not endure the untempered hand of the Father, and to be created by Him, makes and creates first and alone one only, and calls Him Son and Word, that, through Him as a medium, all things might thereupon be brought to be.’ This they not only have said, but they have dared to put it into writing, namely, Eusebius, Arius, and Asterius who sacrificed.
- Is not this a full proof of that irreligion, with which they have drugged themselves with much madness, till they blush not to be intoxicate against the truth? For if they shall assign the toil of making all things as the reason why God made the Son only, the whole creation will cry out against them as saying unworthy things of God; and Isaiah too who has said in Scripture, ‘The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary: there is no searching of His understanding Isaiah 40:28.’ And if God made the Son alone, as not deigning to make the rest, but committed them to the Son as an assistant, this on the other hand is unworthy of God, for in Him there is no pride. Nay the Lord reproves the thought, when He says, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?’ and ‘one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father which is in heaven.’ And again, ‘Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them; are you not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith ?’ If then it be not unworthy of God to exercise His Providence, even down to things so small, a hair of the head, and a sparrow, and the grass of the field, also it was not unworthy of Him to make them. For what things are the subjects of His Providence, of those He is Maker through His proper Word. Nay a worse absurdity lies before the men who thus speak; for they distinguish between the creatures and the framing; and consider the latter the work of the Father, the creatures the work of the Son; whereas either all things must be brought to be by the Father with the Son, or if all that is originate comes to be through the Son, we must not call Him one of the originated things.
- Next, their folly may be exposed thus:— if even the Word be of originated nature, how, whereas this nature is too feeble to be God’s own handywork, could He alone of all endure to be made by the unoriginate and unmitigated Essence of God, as you say? For it follows either that, if He could endure it, all could endure it, or, it being endurable by none, it was not endurable by the Word, for you say that He is one of originate things. And again, if because originate nature could not endure to be God’s own handywork, there arose need of a mediator , it must follow, that, the Word being originate and a creature, there is need of medium in His framing also, since He too is of that originate nature which endures not to be made of God, but needs a medium. But if some being as a medium be found for Him, then again a fresh mediator is needed for that second, and thus tracing back and following out, we shall invent a vast crowd of accumulating mediators; and thus it will be impossible that the creation should subsist, as ever wanting a mediator, and that medium not coming into being without another mediator; for all of them will be of that originate nature which endures not to be made of God alone, as you say. How abundant is that folly, which obliges them to hold that what has already come into being, admits not of coming! Or perhaps they opine that they have not even come to be, as still seeking their mediator; for, on the ground of their so irreligious and futile notion , what is would not have subsistence, for want of the medium.
- But again they allege this:— ‘Behold, through Moses too did He lead the people from Egypt, and through him He gave the Law, yet he was a man; so that it is possible for like to be brought into being by like.’ They should veil their face when they say this, to save their much shame. For Moses was not sent to frame the world, nor to call into being things which were not, or to fashion men like himself, but only to be the minister of words to the people, and to King Pharaoh. And this is a very different thing, for to minister is of things originate as of servants, but to frame and to create is of God alone, and of His proper Word and His Wisdom. Wherefore, in the matter of framing, we shall find none but God’s Word; for ‘all things are made in Wisdom,’ and ‘without the Word was made not one thing.’ But as regards ministrations there are, not one only, but man out of their whole number, whomever the Lord will send. For there are many Archangels, many Thrones, and Authorities, and Dominions, thousands of thousands, and myriads of myriads, standing before Him , ministering and ready to be sent. And many Prophets, and twelve Apostles, and Paul. And Moses himself was not alone, but Aaron with him, and next other seventy were filled with the Holy Ghost. And Moses was succeeded by Joshua the Son of Nun, and he by the Judges, and they not by one, but by a number of Kings. If then the Son were a creature and one of things originate, there must have been many such sons, that God might have many such ministers, just as there is a multitude of those others. But if this is not to be seen, but while the creatures are many, the Word is one, any one will collect from this, that the Son differs from all, and is not on a level with the creatures, but proper to the Father. Hence there are not many Words, but one only Word of the one Father, and one Image of the one God. ‘But behold,’ they say, ‘there is one sun only , and one earth.’ Let them maintain, senseless as they are, that there is one water and one fire, and then they may be told that everything that is brought to be, is one in its own essence; but for the ministry and service committed to it, by itself it is not adequate nor sufficient alone. For God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to give light upon the earth and to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.’ And then he says, ‘And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night. ‘
- Behold there are many lights, and not the sun only, nor the moon only, but each is one in essence, and yet the service of all is one and common; and what each lacks, is supplied by the other, and the office of lighting is performed by all. Thus the sun has authority to shine throughout the day and no more; and the moon through the night; and the stars together with them accomplish the seasons and years, and become for signs, each according to the need that calls for it. Thus too the earth is not for all things, but for the fruits only, and to be a ground to tread on for the living things that inhabit it. And the firmament is to divide between waters and waters, and to be a place to set the stars in. So also fire and water, with other things, have been brought into being to be the constituent parts of bodies; and in short no one thing is alone, but all things that are made, as if members of each other, make up as it were one body, namely, the world. If then they thus conceive of the Son, let all men throw stones at them, considering the Word to be a part of this universe, and a part insufficient without the rest for the service committed to Him. But if this be manifestly irreligious, let them acknowledge that the Word is not in the number of things originate, but the sole and proper Word of the Father, and their Framer. ‘But,’ say they, ‘though He is a creature and of things originate; yet as from a master and artificer has He learned to frame, and thus ministered to God who taught Him.’ For thus the Sophist Asterius, on the strength of having learned to deny the Lord, has dared to write, not observing the absurdity which follows. For if framing be a thing to be taught, let them beware lest they say that God Himself be a Framer not by nature but by science, so as to admit of His losing the power. Besides, if the Wisdom of God attained to frame by teaching, how is He still Wisdom, when He needs to learn? And what was He before He learned? For it was not Wisdom, if it needed teaching; it was surely but some empty thing, and not essential Wisdom , but from advancement it had the name of Wisdom, and will be only so long Wisdom as it can keep what it has learned. For what has accrued not by any nature, but from learning, admits of being one time unlearned. But to speak thus of the Word of God, is not the part of Christians but of Greeks.
- For if the power of framing accrues to anyone from teaching, these insensate men are ascribing jealousy and weakness to God — jealousy, in that He has not taught many how to frame, so that there may be around Him, as Archangels and Angels many, so framers many; and weakness, in that He could not make by Himself, but needed a fellow-worker, or under-worker; and that, though it has been already shown that created nature admits of being made by God alone, since they consider the Son to be of such a nature and so made. But God is deficient in nothing: perish the thought! For He has said Himself, ‘I am full Isaiah 1:11.’ Nor did the Word become Framer of all from teaching; but being the Image and Wisdom of the Father, He does the things of the Father. Nor has He made the Son for the making of things created; for behold, though the Son exists, still the Father is seen to work, as the Lord Himself says, ‘My Father works hitherto and I work John 5:17.’ If however, as you say, the Son came into being for the purpose of making the things after Him, and yet the Father is seen to work even after the Son, you must hold even in this light the making of such a Son to be superfluous. Besides, why, when He would create us, does He seek for a mediator at all, as if His will did not suffice to constitute whatever seemed good to Him? Yet the Scriptures say, ‘He has done whatsoever pleased Him ,’ and ‘Who has resisted His will Romans 9:19?’ And if His mere will is sufficient for the framing of all things, you make the office of a mediator superfluous; for your instance of Moses, and the sun and the moon has been shown not to hold. And here again is an argument to silence you. You say that God, willing the creation of originated nature, and deliberating concerning it, designs and creates the Son, that through Him He may frame us; now, if so, consider how great an irreligion you have dared to utter.
- First, the Son appears rather to have been for us brought to be, than we for Him; for we were not created for Him, but He is made for us ; so that He owes thanks to us, not we to Him, as the woman to the man. ‘For the man,’ says Scripture, ‘was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man.’ Therefore, as ‘the man is the image and glory of God, and the woman the glory of the man 1 Corinthians 11:7, 9,’ so we are made God’s image and to His glory; but the Son is our image, and exists for our glory. And we were brought into being that we might be; but God’s Word was made, as you must hold, not that He might be ; but as an instrument for our need, so that not we from Him, but He is constituted from our need. Are not men who even conceive such thoughts, more than insensate? For if for us the Word was made, He has not precedence of us with God; for He did not take counsel about us having Him within Him, but having us in Himself, counselled, as they say, concerning His own Word. But if so, perchance the Father had not even a will for the Son at all; for not as having a will for Him, did He create Him, but with a will for us, He formed Him for our sake; for He designed Him after designing us; so that, according to these irreligious men, henceforth the Son, who was made as an instrument, is superfluous, now that they are made for whom He was created. But if the Son alone was made by God alone, because He could endure it, but we, because we could not, were made by the Word, why does He not first take counsel about the Word, who could endure His making, instead of taking counsel about us? Or why does He not make more of Him who was strong, than of us who were weak? Or why making Him first, does He not counsel about Him first? Or why counselling about us first, does He not make us first, His will being sufficient for the constitution of all things? But He creates Him first, yet counsels first about us; and He wills us before the Mediator; and when He wills to create us, and counsels about us, He calls us creatures; but Him, whom He frames for us, He calls Son and proper Heir. But we, for whose sake He made Him, ought rather to be called sons; or certainly He, who is His Son, is rather the object of His previous thoughts and of His will, for whom He makes all us. Such the sickness, such the vomit of the heretics.
Chapter 18. Introduction to Proverbs 8:22 continued. Contrast between the Father’s operations immediately and naturally in the Son, instrumentally by the creatures; Scripture terms illustrative of this. Explanation of these illustrations; which should be interpreted by the doctrine of the Church; perverse sense put on them by the Arians, refuted. Mystery of Divine Generation. Contrast between God’s Word and man’s word drawn out at length. Asterius betrayed into holding two Unoriginates; his inconsistency. Baptism how by the Son as well as by the Father. On the Baptism of heretics. Why Arianworse than other heresies.
- But the sentiment of Truth in this matter must not be hidden, but must have high utterance. For the Word of God was not made for us, but rather we for Him, and ‘in Him all things were created Colossians 1:16.’ Nor for that we were weak, was He strong and made by the Father alone, that He might frame us by means of Him as an instrument; perish the thought! It is not so. For though it had seemed good to God not to make things originate, still had the Word been no less with God, and the Father in Him. At the same time, things originate could not without the Word be brought to be; hence they were made through Him — and reasonably. For since the Word is the Son of God by nature proper to His essence, and is from Him, and in Him , as He said Himself, the creatures could not have come to be, except through Him. For as the light enlightens all things by its radiance, and without its radiance nothing would be illuminated, so also the Father, as by a hand , in the Word wrought all things, and without Him makes nothing. For instance, God said, as Moses relates, ‘Let there be light,’ and ‘Let the waters be gathered together,’ and ‘let the dry land appear,’ and ‘Let Us make man ;’ as also Holy David in the Psalm, ‘He spoke and they were made; He commanded and they were created.’ And He spoke , not that, as in the case of men, some under-worker might hear, and learning the will of Him who spoke might go away and do it; for this is what is proper to creatures, but it is unseemly so to think or speak of the Word. For the Word of God is Framer and Maker, and He is the Father’s Will. Hence it is that divine Scripture says not that one heard and answered, as to the manner or nature of the things which He wished made; but God only said, ‘Let it become,’ and he adds, ‘And it became;’ for what He thought good and counselled, that immediately the Word began to do and to finish. For when God commands others, whether the Angels, or converses with Moses, or commands Abraham, then the hearer answers; and the one says, ‘Whereby shall I know Genesis 15:8?’ and the other, ‘Send some one else Exodus 4:13;’ and again, ‘If they ask me, what is His Name, what shall I say to them ?’ and the Angel said to Zacharias, ‘Thus says the Lord ;’ and he asked the Lord, ‘O Lord of hosts, how long will You not have mercy on Jerusalem.’ and waits to hear good words and comfortable. For each of these has the Mediator Word, and the Wisdom of God which makes known the will of the Father. But when that Word Himself works and creates, then there is no questioning and answer, for the Father is in Him and the Word in the Father; but it suffices to will, and the work is done; so that the word ‘He said’ is a token of the will for our sake, and ‘It was so,’ denotes the work which is done through the Word and the Wisdom, in which Wisdom also is the Will of the Father. And ‘God said’ is explained in ‘the Word,’ for, he says, ‘You have made all things in Wisdom;’ and ‘By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made fast.’ and ‘There is one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him. ‘
- It is plain from this that the Arians are not fighting with us about their heresy; but while they pretend us, their real fight is against the Godhead Itself. For if the voice were ours which says, ‘This it My Son ,’ small were our complaint of them; but if it is the Father’s voice, and the disciples heard it, and the Son too says of Himself, ‘Before all the mountains He begot me ,’ are they not fighting against God, as the giants in story, having their tongue, as the Psalmist says, a sharp sword for irreligion? For they neither feared the voice of the Father, nor reverenced the Saviour’s words, nor trusted the Saints, one of whom writes, ‘Who being the Brightness of His glory and the Expression of His subsistence,’ and ‘Christ the power of God and the Wisdom of God ;’ and another says in the Psalm, ‘With You is the well of life, and in Your Light shall we see light,’ and ‘You made all things in Wisdom ;’ and the Prophets say, ‘And the Word of the Lord came to me Jeremiah 2:1;’ and John, ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ and Luke, ‘As they delivered them unto us which from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word John 1:1; Luke 1:2;’ and as David again says, ‘He sent His Word and healed them.’ All these passages proscribe in every light the Arian heresy, and signify the eternity of the Word, and that He is not foreign but proper to the Father’s Essence. For when saw any one light without radiance? Or who dares to say that the expression can be different from the subsistence? Or has not a man himself lost his mind who even entertains the thought that God was ever without Reason and without Wisdom? For such illustrations and such images has Scripture proposed, that, considering the inability of human nature to comprehend God, we might be able to form ideas even from these however poorly and dimly, and as far as is attainable. And as the creation contains abundant matter for the knowledge of the being of a God and a Providence (‘for by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the Maker of them is seen Wisdom 13:5 ‘), and we learn from them without asking for voices, but hearing the Scriptures we believe, and surveying the very order and the harmony of all things, we acknowledge that He is Maker and Lord and God of all, and apprehend His marvellous Providence and governance over all things; so in like manner about the Son’s Godhead, what has been above said is sufficient, and it becomes superfluous, or rather it is very mad to dispute about it, or to ask in an heretical way, How can the Son be from eternity? Or how can He be from the Father’s Essence, yet not a part? Since what is said to be of another, is a part of him; and what is divided, is not whole.
- These are the evil sophistries of the heterodox; yet, though we have already shown their shallowness, the exact sense of these passages themselves and the force of these illustrations will serve to show the baseless nature of their loathsome tenet. For we see that reason is ever, and is from him and proper to his essence, whose reason it is, and does not admit a before and an after. So again we see that the radiance from the sun is proper to it, and the sun’s essence is not divided or impaired; but its essence is whole and its radiance perfect and whole , yet without impairing the essence of light, but as a true offspring from it. We understand in like manner that the Son is begotten not from without but from the Father, and while the Father remains whole, the Expression of His Subsistence is ever, and preserves the Father’s likeness and unvarying Image, so that he who sees Him, sees in Him the Subsistence too, of which He is the Expression. And from the operation of the Expression we understand the true Godhead of the Subsistence, as the Saviour Himself teaches when He says, ‘The Father who dwells in Me, He does the works John 14:10 ‘ which I do; and ‘I and the Father are one,’ and ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me John 10:30.’ Therefore let this Christ — opposing heresy attempt first to divide the examples found in things originate, and say, ‘Once the sun was without his radiance,’ or, ‘Radiance is not proper to the essence of light,’ or ‘It is indeed proper, but it is a part of light by division; and then let it divide Reason, and pronounce that it is foreign to mind, or that once it was not, or that it was not proper to its essence, or that it is by division a part of mind.’ And so of His Expression and the Light and the Power, let it do violence to these as in the case of Reason and Radiance; and instead let it imagine what it will. But if such extravagance be impossible for them, are they not greatly beside themselves, presumptuously intruding into what is higher than things originate and their own nature, and essaying impossibilities ?
- For if in the case of these originate and irrational things offsprings are found which are not parts of the essences from which they are, nor subsist with passion, nor impair the essences of their originals, are they not mad again in seeking and conjecturing parts and passions in the instance of the immaterial and true God, and ascribing divisions to Him who is beyond passion and change, thereby to perplex the ears of the simple and to pervert them from the Truth? For who hears of a son but conceives of that which is proper to the father’s essence? Who heard, in his first catechising , that God has a Son and has made all things by His proper Word, but understood it in that sense in which we now mean it? Who on the rise of this odious heresy of the Arians, was not at once startled at what he heard, as strange , and a second sowing, besides that Word which had been sown from the beginning? For what is sown in every soul from the beginning is that God has a Son, the Word, the Wisdom, the Power, that is, His Image and Radiance; from which it at once follows that He is always; that He is from the Father; that He is like; that He is the eternal offspring of His essence; and there is no idea involved in these of creature or work. But when the man who is an enemy, while men slept, made a second sowing , of ‘He is a creature,’ and ‘There was once when He was not,’ and ‘How can it be?’ thenceforth the wicked heresy of Christ’s enemies rose as tares, and immediately, as bereft of every right thought, they meddle like robbers, and venture to say, ‘How can the Son always exist with the Father.’ for men come of men and are sons, after a time; and the father is thirty years old, when the son begins to be, being begotten; and in short of every son of man, it is true that he was not before his generation. And again they whisper, ‘How can the Son be Word, or the Word be God’s Image? For the word of men is composed of syllables , and only signifies the speaker’s will, and then is over and is lost.’
- They then afresh, as if forgetting the proofs which have been already urged against them, ‘pierce themselves through ‘ with these bonds of irreligion, and thus argue. But the word of truth confutes them as follows:— if they were disputing concerning any man, then let them exercise reason in this human way, both concerning His Word and His Son; but if of God who created man, no longer let them entertain human thoughts, but others which are above human nature. For such as he that begets, such of necessity is the offspring; and such as is the Word’s Father, such must be also His Word. Now man, begotten in time, in time also himself begets the child; and whereas from nothing he came to be, therefore his word also is over and continues not. But God is not as man, as Scripture has said; but is existing and is ever; therefore also His Word is existing and is everlastingly with the Father, as radiance of light. And man’s word is composed of syllables, and neither lives nor operates anything, but is only significant of the speaker’s intention, and does but go forth and go by, no more to appear, since it was not at all before it was spoken; wherefore the word of man neither lives nor operates anything, nor in short is man. And this happens to it, as I said before, because man who begets it, has his nature out of nothing. But God’s Word is not merely pronounced, as one may say, nor a sound of accents, nor by His Son is meant His command ; but as radiance of light, so is He perfect offspring from perfect. Hence He is God also, as being God’s Image; for ‘the Word was God John 1:1 ‘ says Scripture. And man’s words avail not for operation; hence man works not by means of words but of hands, for they have being, and man’s word subsists not. But the ‘Word of God,’ as the Apostle says, ‘is living and powerful and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do. Hebrews 4:12-13 ‘ He is then Framer of all, ‘and without Him was made not one thing John 1:3,’ nor can anything be made without Him.
- Nor must we ask why the Word of God is not such as our word, considering God is not such as we, as has been before said; nor again is it right to seek how the word is from God, or how He is God’s radiance, or how God begets, and what is the manner of His begetting. For a man must be beside himself to venture on such points; since a thing ineffable and proper to God’s nature, and known to Him alone and to the Son, this he demands to be explained in words. It is all one as if they sought where God is, and how God is, and of what nature the Father is. But as to ask such questions is irreligious, and argues an ignorance of God, so it is not holy to venture such questions concerning the generation of the Son of God, nor to measure God and His Wisdom by our own nature and infirmity. Nor is a person at liberty on that account to swerve in his thoughts from the truth, nor, if any one is perplexed in such inquiries, ought he to disbelieve what is written. For it is better in perplexity to be silent and believe, than to disbelieve on account of the perplexity: for he who is perplexed may in some way obtain mercy , because, though he has questioned, he has yet kept quiet; but when a man is led by his perplexity into forming for himself doctrines which beseem not, and utters what is unworthy of God, such daring recurs a sentence without mercy. For in such perplexities divine Scripture is able to afford him some relief, so as to take rightly what is written, and to dwell upon our word as an illustration; that as it is proper to us and is from us, and not a work external to us, so also God’s Word is proper to Him and from Him, and is not a work; and yet is not like the word of man, or else we must suppose God to be man. For observe, many and various are men’s words which pass away day by day; because those that come before others continue not, but vanish. Now this happens because their authors are men, and have seasons which pass away, and ideas which are successive; and what strikes them first and second, that they utter; so that they have many words, and yet after them all nothing at all remaining; for the speaker ceases, and his word immediately is spent. But God’s Word is one and the same, and, as it is written, ‘The Word of God endures for ever ,’ not changed, not before or after other, but existing the same always. For it was fitting, whereas God is One, that His Image should be One also, and His Word One and One His Wisdom.
- Wherefore I am in wonder how, whereas God is One, these men introduce, after their private notions, many images and wisdoms and words , and say that the Father’s proper and natural Word is other than the Son, by whom He even made the Son and that He who is really Son is but notionally called Word, as vine, and way, and door, and tree of life; and that He is called Wisdom also in name, the proper and true Wisdom of the Father, which coexist ingenerately with Him, being other than the Son, by which He even made the Son, and named Him Wisdom as partaking of it. This they have not confined to words, but Arius composed in his Thalia, and the Sophist Asterius wrote, what we have stated above, as follows: ‘Blessed Paul said not that he preached Christ, the Power of God or the Wisdom of God,’ but without the addition of 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 in Him ingenerately, is something besides, generative indeed of Christ, and creative of the whole world, concerning which he teaches in his Epistle to the Romans thus —’The invisible 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 Romans 1:20.’ For as no one would say that the Godhead there mentioned was Christ, but the Father Himself, so, as I think, ‘His eternal Power and Godhead also is not the Only Begotten Son, but the Father who begot Him.’ And he teaches that there is another power and wisdom of God, manifested through Christ. And shortly after the same Asterius says, ‘However His eternal power and wisdom, which truth argues to be without beginning and ingenerate, the same must surely be one. For there are many wisdoms which are one by one created by Him, of whom Christ is the first-born and only-begotten; all however equally depend on their Possessor. And all the powers are rightly called His who created and uses them:— as the Prophet says that the locust, which came to be a divine punishment of human sins, was called by God Himself not only a power, but a great power; and blessed David in most of the Psalms invites, not the Angels alone, but the Powers to praise God.’
- Now are they not worthy of all hatred for merely uttering this? For if, as they hold, He is Son, not because He is begotten of the Father and proper to His Essence, but that He is called Word only because of things rational , and Wisdom because of things gifted with wisdom, and Power because of things gifted with power, surely He must be named a Son because of those who are made sons: and perhaps because there are things existing, He has even His existence , in our notions only. And then after all what is He? For He is none of these Himself, if they are but His names : and He has but a semblance of being, and is decorated with these names from us. Rather this is some recklessness of the devil, or worse, if they are not unwilling that they should truly subsist themselves, but think that God’s Word is but in name. Is not this portentous, to say that Wisdom coexists with the Father, yet not to say that this is the Christ, but that there are many created powers and wisdoms, of which one is the Lord whom they go on to compare to the caterpillar and locust? And are they not profligate, who, when they hear us say that the Word coexists with the Father, immediately murmur out, ‘Are you not speaking of two Unoriginates?’ yet in speaking themselves of ‘His Unoriginate Wisdom,’ do not see that they have already incurred themselves the charge which they so rashly urge against us ? Moreover, what folly is there in that thought of theirs, that the Unoriginate Wisdom coexisting with God is God Himself! For what coexists does not coexist with itself, but with some one else, as the Evangelists say of the Lord, that He was together with His disciples; for He was not together with Himself, but with His disciples — unless indeed they would say that God is of a compound nature, having wisdom a constituent or complement of His Essence, unoriginate as well as Himself , which moreover they pretend to be the framer of the world, that so they may deprive the Son of the framing of it. For there is nothing they would not maintain, sooner than hold the truth concerning the Lord.
- For where at all have they found in divine Scripture, or from whom have they heard, that there is another Word and another Wisdom besides this Son, that they should frame to themselves such a doctrine? True, indeed, it is written, ‘Are not My words like fire, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces Jeremiah 23:29?’ and in the Proverbs, ‘I will make known My words unto you Proverbs 1:23;’ but these are precepts and commands, which God has spoken to the saints through His proper and only true Word, concerning which the Psalmist said, ‘I have refrained my feet from every evil way, that I may keep Your words.’ Such words accordingly the Saviour signifies to be distinct from Himself, when He says in His own person, ‘The words which I have spoken unto you John 6:63.’ For certainly such words are not offsprings or sons, nor are there so many words that frame the world, nor so many images of the One God, nor so many who have become men for us, nor as if from many such there were one who has become flesh, as John says; but as being the only Word of God was He preached by John, ‘The Word was made flesh,’ and ‘all things were made by Him.’ Wherefore of Him alone, our Lord Jesus Christ, and of His oneness with the Father, are written and set forth the testimonies, both of the Father signifying that the Son is One, and of the saints, aware of this and saying that the Word is One, and that He is Only-Begotten. And His works also are set forth; for all things, visible and invisible, have been brought to be through Him, and ‘without Him was made not one thing.’ But concerning another or any one else they have not a thought, nor frame to themselves words or wisdoms, of which neither name nor deed are signified by Scripture, but are named by these only. For it is their invention and Christ-opposing surmise, and they make the most of the name of the Word and the Wisdom; and framing to themselves others, they deny the true Word of God, and the real and only Wisdom of the Father, and thereby, miserable men, rival the Manichees. For they too, when they behold the works of God, deny Him the only and true God, and frame to themselves another, whom they can show neither by work, nor in any testimony drawn from the divine oracles.
- Therefore, if neither in the divine oracles is found another wisdom besides this Son, nor from the fathers have we heard of any such, yet they have confessed and written of the Wisdom coexisting with the Father unoriginately, proper to Him, and the Framer of the world, this must be the Son who even according to them is eternally coexistent with the Father. For He is Framer of all, as it is written, ‘In Wisdom have You made them all.’ Nay, Asterius himself, as if forgetting what he wrote before, afterwards, in Caiaphas’s fashion, involuntarily, when urging the Greeks, instead of naming many wisdoms, or the caterpillar, confesses but one, in these words —’God the Word is one, but many are the things rational; and one is the essence and nature of Wisdom, but many are the things wise and beautiful.’ And soon afterwards he says again:— ‘Who are they whom they honour with the title of God’s children? For they will not say that they too are words, nor maintain that there are many wisdoms. For it is not possible, whereas the Word is one, and Wisdom has been set forth as one, to dispense to the multitude of children the Essence of the Word, and to bestow on them the appellation of Wisdom.’ It is not then at all wonderful, that the Arians should battle with the truth, when they have collisions with their own principles and conflict with each other, at one time saying that there are many wisdoms, at another maintaining one; at one time classing wisdom with the caterpillar, at another saying that it coexists with the Father and is proper to Him; now that the Father alone is unoriginate, and then again that His Wisdom and His Power are unoriginate also. And they battle with us for saying that the Word of God is ever, yet forget their own doctrines, and say themselves that Wisdom coexists with God unoriginately. So dizzied are they in all these matters, denying the true Wisdom, and inventing one which is not, as the Manichees who make to themselves another God, after denying Him that is.
- But let the other heresies and the Manichees also know that the Father of the Christ is One, and is Lord and Maker of the creation through His proper Word. And let the Ario-maniacs know in particular, that the Word of God is One, being the only Son proper and genuine from His Essence, and having with His Father the oneness of Godhead indivisible, as we said many times, being taught it by the Saviour Himself. Since, were it not so, wherefore through Him does the Father create, and in Him reveal Himself to whom He will, and illuminate them? Or why too in the baptismal consecration is the Son named together with the Father? For if they say that the Father is not all-sufficient, then their answer is irreligious , but if He be, for this it is right to say, what is the need of the Son for framing the worlds, or for the holy laver? For what fellowship is there between creature and Creator? Or why is a thing made classed with the Maker in the consecration of all of us? Or why, as you hold, is faith in one Creator and in one creature delivered to us? For if it was that we might be joined to the Godhead, what need of the creature? But if that we might be united to the Son a creature, superfluous, according to you, is this naming of the Son in Baptism, for God who made Him a Son is able to make us sons also. Besides, if the Son be a creature, the nature of rational creatures being one, no help will come to creatures from a creature , since all need grace from God. We said a few words just now on the fitness that all things should be made by Him; but since the course of the discussion has led us also to mention holy Baptism, it is necessary to state, as I think and believe, that the Son is named with the Father, not as if the Father were not all-sufficient, not without meaning, and by accident; but, since He is God’s Word and own Wisdom, and being His Radiance, is ever with the Father, therefore it is impossible, if the Father bestows grace, that He should not give it in the Son, for the Son is in the Father as the radiance in the light. For, not as if in need, but as a Father in His own Wisdom has God founded the earth, and made all things in the Word which is from Him, and in the Son confirms the Holy Laver. For where the Father is, there is the Son, and where the light, there the radiance; and as what the Father works, He works through the Son , and the Lord Himself says, ‘What I see the Father do, that do I also;’ so also when baptism is given, whom the Father baptizes, him the Son baptizes; and whom the Son baptizes, he is consecrated in the Holy Ghost. And again as when the sun shines, one might say that the radiance illuminates, for the light is one and indivisible, nor can be detached, so where the Father is or is named, there plainly is the Son also; and is the Father named in Baptism? Then must the Son be named with Him.
- Therefore, when He made His promise to the saints, He thus spoke; ‘I and the Father will come, and make Our abode in him;’ and again, ‘that, as I and Thou are One, so they may be one in Us.’ And the grace given is one, given from the Father in the Son, as Paul writes in every Epistle, ‘Grace unto you, and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.’ For the light must be with the ray, and the radiance must be contemplated together with its own light. Whence the Jews, as denying the Son as well as they, have not the Father either; for, as having left the ‘Fountain of Wisdom Baruch 3:12,’ as Baruch reproaches them, they put from them the Wisdom springing from it, our Lord Jesus Christ (for ‘Christ,’ says the Apostle, is ‘God’s power and God’s wisdom 1 Corinthians 1:24),’ when they said, ‘We have no king but Cæsar John 19:15.’ The Jews then have the penal award of their denial; for their city as well as their reasoning came to nought. And these too hazard the fullness of the mystery, I mean Baptism; for if the consecration is given to us into the Name of Father and Son, and they do not confess a true Father, because they deny what is from Him and like His Essence, and deny also the true Son, and name another of their own framing as created out of nothing, is not the rite administered by them altogether empty and unprofitable, making a show, but in reality being no help towards religion? For the Arians do not baptize into Father and Son, but into Creator and creature, and into Maker and work. And as a creature is other than the Son, so the Baptism, which is supposed to be given by them, is other than the truth, though they pretend to name the Name of the Father and the Son, because of the words of Scripture, For not he who simply says, ‘O Lord,’ gives Baptism; but he who with the Name has also the right faith. On this account therefore our Saviour also did not simply command to baptize, but first says, ‘Teach;’ then thus: ‘Baptize into the Name of Father, and Son, and Holy Ghost;’ that the right faith might follow upon learning, and together with faith might come the consecration of Baptism.
- There are many other heresies too, which use the words only, but not in a right sense, as I have said, nor with sound faith , and in consequence the water which they administer is unprofitable, as deficient in piety, so that he who is sprinkled by them is rather polluted by irreligion than redeemed. So Gentiles also, though the name of God is on their lips, incur the charge of Atheism , because they know not the real and very God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. So Manichees and Phrygians , and the disciples of the Samosatene, though using the Names, nevertheless are heretics, and the Arians follow in the same course, though they read the words of Scripture, and use the Names, yet they too mock those who receive the rite from them, being more irreligious than the other heresies, and advancing beyond them, and making them seem innocent by their own recklessness of speech. For these other heresies lie against the truth in some certain respect, either erring concerning the Lord’s Body, as if He did not take flesh of Mary, or as if He has not died at all, nor become man, but only appeared, and was not truly, and seemed to have a body when He had not, and seemed to have the shape of man, as visions in a dream; but the Arians are without disguise irreligious against the Father Himself. For hearing from the Scriptures that His Godhead is represented in the Son as in an image, they blaspheme, saying, that it is a creature, and everywhere concerning that Image, they carry about with them the phrase, ‘He was not,’ as mud in a wallet , and spit it forth as serpents their venom. Then, whereas their doctrine is nauseous to all men, immediately, as a support against its fall, they prop up the heresy with human patronage, that the simple, at the sight or even by the fear may overlook the mischief of their perversity. Right indeed is it to pity their dupes; well is it to weep over them, for that they sacrifice their own interest for that immediate phantasy which pleasures furnish, and forfeit their future hope. In thinking to be baptized into the name of one who exists not, they will receive nothing; and ranking themselves with a creature, from the creation they will have no help, and believing in one unlike and foreign to the Father in essence, to the Father they will not be joined, not having His own Son by nature, who is from Him, who is in the Father, and in whom the Father is, as He Himself has said; but being led astray by them, the wretched men henceforth remain destitute and stripped of the Godhead. For this phantasy of earthly goods will not follow them upon their death; nor when they see the Lord whom they have denied, sitting on His Father’s throne, and judging quick and dead, will they be able to call to their help any one of those who have now deceived them; for they shall see them also at the judgment-seat, repenting for their deeds of sin and irreligion.
Chapter 19. Texts explained; Sixthly, Proverbs 8:22. Proverbs are of a figurative nature, and must be interpreted as such. We must interpret them, and in particular this passage, by the Regula Fidei. ‘He created me’ not equivalent to ‘I am a creature.’ Wisdom a creature so far forth as Its human body. Again, if He is a creature, it is as ‘a beginning of ways,’ an office which, though not an attribute, is a consequence, of a higher and divine nature. And it is ‘for the works,’ which implied the works existed, and therefore much more He, before He was created. Also ‘the Lord’ not the Father ‘created’ Him, which implies the creation was that of a servant.
- We have gone through thus much before the passage in the Proverbs, resisting the insensate fables which their hearts have invented, that they may know that the Son of God ought not to be called a creature, and may learn lightly to read what admits in truth of a right explanation. For it is written, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways, for His works ;’ since, however, these are proverbs, and it is expressed in the way of proverbs, we must not expound them nakedly in their first sense, but we must inquire into the person, and thus religiously put the sense on it. For what is said in proverbs, is not said plainly, but is put forth latently , as the Lord Himself has taught us in the Gospel according to John, saying, ‘These things have I spoken unto you in proverbs, but the time comes when I shall no more speak unto you in proverbs, but openly John 16:25.’ Therefore it is necessary to unfold the sense of what is said, and to seek it as something hidden, and not nakedly to expound as if the meaning were spoken ‘plainly,’ lest by a false interpretation we wander from the truth. If then what is written be about Angel, or any other of things originate, as concerning one of us who are works, let it be said, ‘created me;’ but if it be the Wisdom of God, in whom all things originate have been framed, that speaks concerning Itself, what ought we to understand but that ‘He created’ means nothing contrary to ‘He begot.’ Nor, as forgetting that It is Creator and Framer, or ignorant of the difference between the Creator and the creatures, does It number Itself among the creatures; but It signifies a certain sense, as in proverbs, not ‘plainly,’ but latent; which It inspired the saints to use in prophecy, while soon after It does Itself give the meaning of ‘He created’ in other but parallel expressions, saying, ‘Wisdom made herself a house Proverbs 9:1.’ Now it is plain that our body is Wisdom’s house , which It took on Itself to become man; hence consistently does John say, ‘The Word was made flesh John 1:14;’ and by Solomon Wisdom says of Itself with cautious exactness , not ‘I am a creature,’ but only ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works ,’ yet not ‘created me that I might have being,’ nor ‘because I have a creature’s beginning and origin.’
- For in this passage, not as signifying the Essence of His Godhead, nor His own everlasting and genuine generation from the Father, has the Word spoken by Solomon, but on the other hand His manhood and Economy towards us. And, as I said before, He has not said ‘I am a creature,’ or ‘I became a creature,’ but only ‘He created.’ For the creatures, having a created essence, are originate, and are said to be created, and of course the creature is created: but this mere term ‘He created’ does not necessarily signify the essence or the generation, but indicates something else as coming to pass in Him of whom it speaks, and not simply that He who is said to be created, is at once in His Nature and Essence a creature. And this difference divine Scripture recognises, saying concerning the creatures, ‘The earth is full of Your creation,’ and ‘the creation itself groans together and travails together ;’ and in the Apocalypse it says, ‘And the third part of the creatures in the sea died which had life;’ as also Paul says, ‘Every creature of God is good, and nothing is to be refused if it be received with thanksgiving ;’ and in the book of Wisdom it is written, ‘Having ordained man through Your wisdom, that he should have dominion over the creatures which You have made Wisdom 9:2.’ And these, being creatures, are also said to be created, as we may further hear from the Lord, who says, ‘He who created them, made them male and female ;’ and from Moses in the Song, who writes, ‘Ask now of the days that are past, which were before you since the day that God created man upon the earth, and from the one side of heaven unto the other Deuteronomy 4:32.’ And Paul in Colossians, ‘Who is the Image of the Invisible God, the Firstborn of every creature, for in Him were all things created that are in heaven, and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created through Him, and for Him, and He is before all. ‘
- That to be called creatures, then, and to be created belongs to things which have by nature a created essence, these passages are sufficient to remind us, though Scripture is full of the like; on the other hand that the single word ‘He created’ does not simply denote the essence and mode of generation, David shows in the Psalm, ‘This shall be written for another generation, and the people that is created shall praise the Lord ;’ and again, ‘Create in me a clean heart, O God ;’ and Paul in Ephesians says, ‘Having abolished the law of commandments contained in ordinances, for to create in Himself of two one new man Ephesians 2:15;’ and again, ‘Put on the new man, which after God is created in righteousness and true holiness.’ For neither David spoke of any people created in essence, nor prayed to have another heart than that he had, but meant renovation according to God and renewal; nor did Paul signify two persons created in essence in the Lord, nor again did he counsel us to put on any other man; but he called the life according to virtue the ‘man after God,’ and by the ‘created’ in Christ he meant the two people who are renewed in Him. Such too is the language of the book of Jeremiah; ‘The Lord created a new salvation for a planting, in which salvation men shall walk to and fro ;’ and in thus speaking, he does not mean any essence of a creature, but prophesies of the renewal of salvation among men, which has taken place in Christ for us. Such then being the difference between ‘the creatures’ and the single word ‘He created,’ if you find anywhere in divine Scripture the Lord called ‘creature,’ produce it and fight; but if it is nowhere written that He is a creature, only He Himself says about Himself in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord created me,’ shame upon you, both on the ground of the distinction aforesaid and for that the diction is like that of proverbs; and accordingly let ‘He created’ be understood, not of His being a creature, but of that human nature which became His, for to this belongs creation. Indeed is it not evidently unfair in you, when David and Paul say ‘He created,’ then indeed not to understand it of the essence and the generation, but the renewal; yet, when the Lord says ‘He created’ to number His essence with the creatures? And again when Scripture says, ‘Wisdom built her a house, she set it upon seven pillars Proverbs 9:1,’ to understand ‘house’ allegorically, but to take ‘He created’ as it stands, and to fasten on it the idea of creature? And neither His being Framer of all has had any weight with you, nor have you feared His being the sole and proper Offspring of the Father, but recklessly, as if you had enlisted against Him, do ye fight, and think less of Him than of men.
- For the very passage proves that it is only an invention of your own to call the Lord creature. For the Lord, knowing His own Essence to be the Only-begotten Wisdom and Offspring of the Father, and other than things originate and natural creatures, says in love to man, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways,’ as if to say, ‘My Father has prepared for Me a body, and has created Me for men in behalf of their salvation.’ For, as when John says, ‘The Word was made flesh John 1:14,’ we do not conceive the whole Word Himself to be flesh , but to have put on flesh and become man, and on hearing, ‘Christ has become a curse for us,’ and ‘He has made Him sin for us who knew no sin ,’ we do not simply conceive this, that whole Christ has become curse and sin, but that He has taken on Him the curse which lay against us (as the Apostle has said, ‘Has redeemed us from the curse,’ and ‘has carried,’ as Isaiah has said, ‘our sins,’ and as Peter has written, ‘has borne them in the body on the wood ‘); so, if it is said in the Proverbs ‘He created,’ we must not conceive that the whole Word is in nature a creature, but that He put on the created body and that God created Him for our sakes, preparing for Him the created body, as it is written, for us, that in Him we might be capable of being renewed and deified. What then deceived you, O senseless, to call the Creator a creature? Or whence did you purchase for you this new thought, to parade it ? For the Proverbs say ‘He created,’ but they call not the Son creature, but Offspring; and, according to the distinction in Scripture aforesaid of ‘He created’ and ‘creature,’ they acknowledge, what is by nature proper to the Son, that He is the Only-begotten Wisdom and Framer of the creatures, and when they say ‘He created,’ they say it not in respect of His Essence, but signify that He was becoming a beginning of many ways; so that ‘He created’ is in contrast to ‘Offspring,’ and His being called the ‘Beginning of ways ‘ to His being the Only-begotten Word.
- For if He is Offspring, how call ye Him creature? For no one says that He begets what He creates, nor calls His proper offspring creatures; and again, if He is Only-begotten, how becomes He ‘beginning of the ways?’ for of necessity, if He was created a beginning of all things, He is no longer alone, as having those who came into being after Him. For Reuben, when he became a beginning of the children , was not only-begotten, but in time indeed first, but in nature and relationship one among those who came after him. Therefore if the Word also is ‘a beginning of the ways,’ He must be such as the ways are, and the ways must be such as the Word, though in point of time He be created first of them. For the beginning or initiative of a city is such as the other parts of the city are, and the members too being joined to it, make the city whole and one, as the many members of one body; nor does one part of it make, and another come to be, and is subject to the former, but all the city equally has its government and constitution from its maker. If then the Lord is in such sense created as a ‘beginning’ of all things, it would follow that He and all other things together make up the unity of the creation, and He neither differs from all others, though He become the ‘beginning’ of all, nor is He Lord of them, though older in point of time; but He has the same manner of framing and the same Lord as the rest. Nay, if He be a creature, as you hold, how can He be created sole and first at all, so as to be beginning of all? When it is plain from what has been said, that among the creatures not any is of a constant nature and of prior formation, but each has its origination with all the rest, however it may excel others in glory. For as to the separate stars or the great lights, not this appeared first, and that second, but in one day and by the same command, they were all called into being. And such was the original formation of the quadrupeds, and of birds, and fishes, and cattle, and plants; thus too has the race made after God’s Image come to be, namely men; for though Adam only was formed out of earth, yet in him was involved the succession of the whole race.
- And from the visible creation, we clearly discern that His invisible things also, ‘being perceived by the things that are made Romans 1:20,’ are not independent of each other; for it was not first one and then another, but all at once were constituted after their kind. For the Apostle did not number individually, so as to say ‘whether Angel, or Throne, or Dominion, or Authority,’ but he mentions together all according to their kind, ‘whether Angels, or Archangels, or Principalities :’ for in this way is the origination of the creatures. If then, as I have said, the Word were creature He must have been brought into being, not first of them, but with all the other Powers, though in glory He excel the rest ever so much. For so we find it to be in their case, that at once they came to be, with neither first nor second, and they differ from each other in glory, some on the right of the throne, some all around, and some on the left, but one and all praising and standing in service before the Lord. Therefore if the Word be creature He would not be first or beginning of the rest; yet if He be before all, as indeed He is, and is Himself alone First and Son, it does not follow that He is beginning of all things as to His Essence , for what is the beginning of all is in the number of all. And if He is not such a beginning, then neither is He a creature, but it is very plain that He differs in essence and nature from the creatures, and is other than they, and is Likeness and Image of the sole and true God, being Himself sole also. Hence He is not classed with creatures in Scripture, but David rebukes those who dare even to think of Him as such, saying, ‘Who among the gods is like the Lord ?’ and ‘Who is like the Lord among the sons of God.’ and Baruch, ‘This is our God, and another shall not be reckoned with Him Baruch 3:35.’ For the One creates, and the rest are created; and the One is the own Word and Wisdom of the Father’s Essence, and through this Word things which came to be, which before existed not, were made.
- Your famous assertion then, that the Son is a creature, is not true, but is your fantasy only; nay Solomon convicts you of having many times slandered him. For he has not called Him creature, but God’s Offspring and Wisdom, saying, ‘God in Wisdom established the earth,’ and ‘Wisdom built her an house.’ And the very passage in question proves your irreligious spirit; for it is written, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works.’ Therefore if He is before all things, yet says ‘He created me’ (not ‘that I might make the works,’ but) ‘for the works,’ unless ‘He created’ relates to something later than Himself, He will seem later than the works, finding them on His creation already in existence before Him, for the sake of which He is also brought into being. And if so, how is He before all things notwithstanding? And how were all things made through Him and consist in Him? For behold, you say that the works consisted before Him, for which He is created and sent. But it is not so; perish the thought! false is the supposition of the heretics. For the Word of God is not creature but Creator; and says in the manner of proverbs, ‘He created me’ when He put on created flesh. And something besides may be understood from the passage itself; for, being Son and having God for His Father, for He is His proper Offspring, yet here He names the Father Lord; not that He was servant, but because He took the servant’s form. For it became Him, on the one hand being the Word from the Father, to call God Father: for this is proper to son towards father; on the other, having come to finish the work, and taken a servant’s form, to name the Father Lord. And this difference He Himself has taught by an apt distinction, saying in the Gospels, ‘I thank You, O Father,’ and then, ‘Lord of heaven and earth Matthew 11:25.’ For He calls God His Father, but of the creatures He names Him Lord; as showing clearly from these words, that, when He put on the creature , then it was He called the Father Lord. For in the prayer of David the Holy Spirit marks the same distinction, saying in the Psalms, ‘Give Your strength unto Your Child, and help the Son of Your handmaid.’ For the natural and true child of God is one, and the sons of the handmaid, that is, of the nature of things originate, are other. Wherefore the One, as Son, has the Father’s might; but the rest are in need of salvation.
- (But if, because He was called child, they idly talk, let them know that both Isaac was named Abraham’s child, and the son of the Shunamite was called young child.) Reasonably then, we being servants, when He became as we, He too calls the Father Lord, as we do; and this He has so done from love to man, that we too, being servants by nature, and receiving the Spirit of the Son, might have confidence to call Him by grace Father, who is by nature our Lord. But as we, in calling the Lord Father, do not deny our servitude by nature (for we are His works, and it is ‘He that has made us, and not we ourselves ‘), so when the Son, on taking the servant’s form, says, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways,’ let them not deny the eternity of His Godhead, and that ‘in the beginning was the Word,’ and ‘all things were made by Him,’ and ‘in Him all things were created. ‘
Chapter 20. Texts Explained; Sixthly, Proverbs viii. 22 Continued. Our Lord is said to be created ‘for the works,’ i.e. with a particular purpose, which no mere creatures are ever said to be. Parallel of Isaiah 49:5, etc. When His manhood is spoken of, a reason for it is added; not so when His Divine Nature; Texts in proof.
51 (continued). For the passage in the Proverbs, as I have said before, signifies, not the Essence, but the manhood of the Word; for if He says that He was created ‘for the works,’ He shows His intention of signifying, not His Essence, but the Economy which took place ‘for His works,’ which comes second to being. For things which are in formation and creation are made specially that they may be and exist , and next they have to do whatever the Word bids them, as may be seen in the case of all things. For Adam was created, not that He might work, but that first he might be man; for it was after this that he received the command to work. And Noah was created, not because of the ark, but that first he might exist and be a man; for after this he received commandment to prepare the ark. And the like will be found in every case on inquiring into it — thus the great Moses first was made a man, and next was entrusted with the government of the people. Therefore here too we must suppose the like; for you see, that the Word is not created into existence, but, ‘In the beginning was the Word,’ and He is afterwards sent ‘for the works’ and the Economy towards them. For before the works were made, the Son was ever, nor was there yet need that He should be created; but when the works were created and need arose afterwards of the Economy for their restoration, then it was that the Word took upon Himself this condescension and assimilation to the works; which He has shown us by the word ‘He created.’ And through the Prophet Isaiah willing to signify the like, He says again: ‘And now thus says the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to gather together Jacob unto Him and Israel, I shall be brought together and be glorified before the Lord. ‘
- See here too, He is formed, not into existence, but in order to gather together the tribes, which were in existence before He was formed. For as in the former passage stands ‘He created,’ so in this ‘He formed;’ and as there ‘for the works,’ so here ‘to gather together;’ so that in every point of view it appears that ‘He created’ and ‘He formed’ are said after ‘the Word was.’ For as before His forming the tribes existed, for whose sake He was formed, so does it appear that the works exist, for which He was created. And when ‘in the beginning was the Word,’ not yet were the works, as I have said before; but when the works were made and the need required, then ‘He created’ was said; and as if some son, when the servants were lost, and in the hands of the enemy by their own carelessness, and need was urgent, were sent by his father to succour and recover them, and on setting out were to put over him the like dress with them, and should fashion himself as they, lest the capturers, recognising him as the master, should take to flight and prevent his descending to those who were hidden under the earth by them; and then were any one to inquire of him, why he did so, were to make answer, ‘My Father thus formed and prepared me for his works,’ while in thus speaking, he neither implies that he is a servant nor one of the works, nor speaks of the beginning of His origination, but of the subsequent charge given him over the works — in the same way the Lord also, having put over Him our flesh, and ‘being found in fashion as a man,’ if He were questioned by those who saw Him thus and marvelled, would say, ‘The Lord created Me the beginning of His ways for His works,’ and ‘He formed Me to gather together Israel.’ This again the Spirit foretells in the Psalms, saying, ‘You set Him over the works of Your hands Hebrews 2:7;’ which elsewhere the Lord signified of Himself, ‘I am set as King by Him upon His holy hill of Sion.’ And as, when He shone in the body upon Sion, He had not His beginning of existence or of reign, but being God’s Word and everlasting King, He vouchsafed that His kingdom should shine in a human way in Sion, that redeeming them and us from the sin which reigned in them, He might bring them under His Father’s Kingdom, so, on being set ‘for the works,’ He is not set for things which did not yet exist, but for such as already were and needed restoration.
- ‘He created’ then and ‘He formed’ and ‘He set,’ having the same meaning, do not denote the beginning of His being, or of His essence as created, but His beneficent renovation which came to pass for us. Accordingly, though He thus speaks, yet He taught also that He Himself existed before this, when He said, ‘Before Abraham came to be, I am John 8:58;’ and ‘when He prepared the heavens, I was present with Him;’ and ‘I was with Him disposing things.’ And as He Himself was before Abraham came to be, and Israel had come into being after Abraham, and plainly He exists first and is formed afterwards, and His forming signifies not His beginning of being but His taking manhood, wherein also He collects together the tribes of Israel; so, as ‘being always with the Father,’ He Himself is Framer of the creation, and His works are evidently later than Himself, and ‘He created’ signifies, not His beginning of being, but the Economy which took place for the works, which He effected in the flesh. For it became Him, being other than the works, nay rather their Framer, to take upon Himself their renovation , that, whereas He is created for us, all things may be now created in Him. For when He said ‘He created,’ He immediately added the reason, naming ‘the works,’ that His creation for the works might signify His becoming man for their renovation. And this is usual with divine Scripture ; for when it signifies the fleshly origination of the Son, it adds also the cause for which He became man; but when he speaks or His servants declare anything of His Godhead, all is said in simple diction, and with an absolute sense, and without reason being added. For He is the Father’s Radiance; and as the Father is, but not for any reason, neither must we seek the reason of that Radiance. Thus it is written, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God John 1:1;’ and the wherefore it assigns not ; but when ‘the Word was made flesh John 1:14,’ then it adds the reason why, saying, ‘And dwelt among us.’ And again the Apostle saying, ‘Who being in the form of God,’ has not introduced the reason, till ‘He took on Him the form of a servant;’ for then he continues, ‘He humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross Philippians 2:6-8;’ for it was for this that He both became flesh and took the form of a servant.
- And the Lord Himself has spoken many things in proverbs; but when giving us notices about Himself, He has spoken absolutely ; ‘I in the Father and the Father in Me,’ and ‘I and the Father are one,’ and, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father,’ and ‘I am the Light of the world,’ and, ‘I am the Truth ;’ not setting down in every case the reason, nor the wherefore, lest He should seem second to those things for which He was made. For that reason would needs take precedence of Him, without which not even He Himself had come into being. Paul, for instance, ‘separated an Apostle for the Gospel, which the Lord had promised afore by the Prophets Romans 1:1-2,’ was thereby made subordinate to the Gospel, of which he was made minister, and John, being chosen to prepare the Lord’s way, was made subordinate to the Lord; but the Lord, not being made subordinate to any reason why He should be Word, save only that He is the Father’s Offspring and Only-begotten Wisdom, when He becomes man, then assigns the reason why He is about to take flesh. For the need of man preceded His becoming man, apart from which He had not put on flesh. And what the need was for which He became man, He Himself thus signifies, ‘I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him which has sent Me, that of all which He has given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of My Father, that every one which sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day.’ And again; ‘I have come a light into the world, that whosoever believes in Me, should not abide in darkness.’ And again he says; ‘To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth.’ And John has written: ‘For this was manifested the Son of God, that He might destroy the works of the devil 1 John 3:8.’
- To give a witness then, and for our sakes to undergo death, to raise man up and destroy the works of the devil , the Saviour came, and this is the reason of His incarnate presence. For otherwise a resurrection had not been, unless there had been death; and how had death been, unless He had had a mortal body? This the Apostle, learning from Him, thus sets forth, ‘Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might bring to nought him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage Hebrews 2:14-15.’ And, ‘Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead 1 Corinthians 15:21.’ And again, ‘For 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; that the ordinance of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit Romans 8:3-4.’ And John says, ‘For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved John 3:17.’ And again, the Saviour has spoken in His own person, ‘For judgment am I come into this world, that they who see not might see, and that they which see might become blind.’ Not for Himself then, but for our salvation, and to abolish death, and to condemn sin, and to give sight to the blind, and to raise up all from the dead, has He come; but if not for Himself, but for us, by consequence not for Himself but for us is He created. But if not for Himself is He created, but for us, then He is not Himself a creature, but, as having put on our flesh, He uses such language. And that this is the sense of the Scriptures, we may learn from the Apostle, who says in Ephesians, ‘Having broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, to create in Himself of two one new man, so making peace Ephesians 2:14-15.’ But if in Him the two are created, and these are in His body, reasonably then, bearing the two in Himself, He is as if Himself created; for those who were created in Himself He made one, and He was in them, as they. And thus, the two being created in Him, He may say suitably, ‘The Lord created me.’ For as by receiving our infirmities, He is said to be infirm Himself, though not Himself infirm, for He is the Power of God, and He became sin for us and a curse, though not having sinned Himself, but because He Himself bare our sins and our curse, so , by creating us in Him, let Him say, ‘He created me for the works,’ though not Himself a creature.
- For if, as they hold, the Essence of the Word being of created nature, therefore He says, ‘The Lord created me,’ being a creature, He was not created for us; but if He was not created for us, we are not created in Him; and, if not created in Him, we have Him not in ourselves but externally; as, for instance, as receiving instruction from Him as from a teacher. And it being so with us, sin has not lost its reign over the flesh, being inherent and not cast out of it. But the Apostle opposes such a doctrine a little before, when he says, ‘For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus Ephesians 2:10;’ and if in Christ we are created, then it is not He who is created, but we in Him; and thus the words ‘He created’ are for our sake. For because of our need, the Word, though being Creator, endured words which are used of creatures; which are not proper to Him, as being the Word, but are ours who are created in Him. And as, since the Father is always, so is His Word, and always being, always says ‘I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him Proverbs 8:30,’ and ‘I am in the Father and the Father in Me John 14:10;’ so, when for our need He became man, consistently does He use language, as ourselves, ‘The Lord has created Me,’ that, by His dwelling in the flesh, sin might perfectly be expelled from the flesh, and we might have a free mind. For what ought He, when made man, to say? ‘In the beginning I was man?’ this were neither suitable to Him nor true; and as it beseemed not to say this, so it is natural and proper in the case of man to say, ‘He created’ and ‘He made’ Him. On this account then the reason of ‘He created’ is added, namely, the need of the works; and where the reason is added, surely the reason rightly explains the lection. Thus here, when He says ‘He created,’ He sets down the cause, ‘the works;’ on the other hand, when He signifies absolutely the generation from the Father, straightway He adds, ‘Before all the hills He begets me Proverbs 8:25;’ but He does not add the ‘wherefore,’ as in the case of ‘He created,’ saying, ‘for the works,’ but absolutely, ‘He begets me,’ as in the text, ‘In the beginning was the Word John 1:1.’ For, though no works had been created, still ‘the Word’ of God ‘was,’ and ‘the Word was God.’ And His becoming man would not have taken place, had not the need of men become a cause. The Son then is not a creature.
Chapter 21. Texts Explained; Sixthly, Proverbs 8:22, Continued. Our Lord not said in Scripture to be ‘created,’ or the works to be ‘begotten.’ ‘In the beginning’ means in the case of the works ‘from the beginning.’ Scripture passages explained. We are made by God first, begotten next; creatures by nature, sons by grace. Christ begotten first, made or created afterwards. Sense of ‘First-born of the dead;’ of ‘First-born among many brethren;’ of ‘First-born of all creation,’ contrasted with ‘Only-begotten.’ Further interpretation of ‘beginning of ways,’ and ‘for the works.’ Why a creature could not redeem; why redemption was necessary at all. Texts which contrast the Word and the works.
- For had He been a creature, He had not said, ‘He begets me,’ for the creatures are from without, and are works of the Maker; but the Offspring is not from without nor a work, but from the Father, and proper to His Essence. Wherefore they are creatures; this God’s Word and Only-begotten Son. For instance, Moses did not say of the creation, ‘In the beginning He begot,’ nor ‘In the beginning was,’ but ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth Genesis 1:1.’ Nor did David say in the Psalm, ‘Your hands have begotten me,‘ but ‘made me and fashioned me ,’ everywhere applying the word ‘made’ to the creatures. But to the Son contrariwise; for he has not said ‘I made,’ but ‘I begot ,’ and ‘He begets me,’ and ‘My heart uttered a good Word.’ And in the instance of the creation, ‘In the beginning He made;’ but in the instance of the Son, ‘In the beginning was the Word John 1:1.’ And there is this difference, that the creatures are made upon the beginning, and have a beginning of existence connected with an interval; wherefore also what is said of them, ‘In the beginning He made,’ is as much as saying of them, ‘From the beginning He made:’— as the Lord, knowing that which He had made, taught, when He silenced the Pharisees, with the words, ‘He which made them from the beginning, made them male and female Matthew 19:4;’ for from some beginning, when they were not yet, were originate things brought into being and created. This too the Holy Spirit has signified in the Psalms, saying, ‘Thou, Lord, at the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth ;’ and again, ‘O think upon Your congregation which You have purchased from the beginning ;’ now it is plain that what takes place at the beginning, has a beginning of creation, and that from some beginning God purchased His congregation. And that ‘In the beginning He made,’ from his saying ‘made,’ means ‘began to make,’ Moses himself shows by saying, after the completion of all things, ‘And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work which God began to make Genesis 2:3.’ Therefore the creatures began to be made; but the Word of God, not having beginning of being, certainly did not begin to be, nor begin to come to be, but was ever. And the works have their beginning in their making, and their beginning precedes their coming to be; but the Word, not being of things which come to be, rather comes to be Himself the Framer of those which have a beginning. And the being of things originate is measured by their becoming , and from some beginning does God begin to make them through the Word, that it may be known that they were not before their origination; but the Word has His being, in no other beginning than the Father, whom they allow to be without beginning, so that He too exists without beginning in the Father, being His Offspring, not His creature.
- Thus does divine Scripture recognise the difference between the Offspring and things made, and show that the Offspring is a Son, not begun from any beginning, but eternal; but that the thing made, as an external work of the Maker, began to come into being. John therefore delivering divine doctrine about the Son, and knowing the difference of the phrases, said not, ‘In the beginning has become’ or ‘been made,’ but ‘In the beginning was the Word.’ that we might understand ‘Offspring’ by ‘was,’ and not account of Him by intervals, but believe the Son always and eternally to exist. And with these proofs, how, O Arians, misunderstanding the passage in Deuteronomy, did you venture a fresh act of irreligion against the Lord, saying that ‘He is a work,’ or ‘creature,’ or indeed ‘offspring?’ for offspring and work you take to mean the same thing; but here too you shall be shown to be as unlearned as you are irreligious. Your first passage is this, ‘Is not He your Father that bought you? Did He not make you and create you ?’ And shortly after in the same Song he says, ‘You deserted God Who begot you, and forgot God Who nourished you.’ Now the meaning conveyed in these passages is very remarkable; for he says not first ‘He begot,’ lest that term should be taken as indiscriminate with ‘He made,’ and these men should have a pretence for saying, ‘Moses tells us indeed that God said from the beginning, Let Us make man Genesis 1:26,‘ but he soon after says himself, ‘God that begot you you deserted,’ as if the terms were indifferent; for offspring and work are the same. But after the words ‘bought’ and ‘made,’ he has added last of all ‘begot,’ that the sentence might carry its own interpretation; for in the word ‘made’ he accurately denotes what belongs to men by nature, to be works and things made; but in the word ‘begot’ he shows God’s lovingkindness exercised towards men after He had created them. And since they have proved ungrateful upon this, thereupon Moses reproaches them, saying first, ‘Do ye thus requite the Lord.’ and then adds, ‘Is not He your Father that bought you? Did He not make you and create you Deuteronomy 32:6?’ And next he says, ‘They sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not. New gods and strange came up, whom your fathers knew not; the God that begot you you deserted. ‘
- For God not only created them to be men, but called them to be sons, as having begotten them. For the term ‘begot’ is here as elsewhere expressive of a Son, as He says by the Prophet, ‘I begot sons and exalted them;’ and generally, when Scripture wishes to signify a son, it does so, not by the term ‘created,’ but undoubtedly by that of ‘begot.’ And this John seems to say, ‘He gave to them power to become children of God, even to them that believe in His Name; which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God John 1:12-13.’ And here too the cautious distinction is well kept up, for first he says ‘become,’ because they are not called sons by nature but by adoption; then he says ‘were begotten,’ because they too had received at any rate the name of son. But the People, as says the Prophet, ‘despised’ their Benefactor. But this is God’s kindness to man, that of whom He is Maker, of them according to grace He afterwards becomes Father also; becomes, that is, when men, His creatures, receive into their hearts, as the Apostle says, ‘the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father.’ And these are they who, having received the Word, gained power from Him to become sons of God; for they could not become sons, being by nature creatures, otherwise than by receiving the Spirit of the natural and true Son. Wherefore, that this might be, ‘The Word became flesh,’ that He might make man capable of Godhead. This same meaning may be gained also from the Prophet Malachi, who says, ‘Hath not One God created us? Have we not all one Father Malachi 2:10?’ for first he puts ‘created,’ next ‘Father,’ to show, as the other writers, that from the beginning we were creatures by nature, and God is our Creator through the Word; but afterwards we were made sons, and thenceforward God the Creator becomes our Father also. Therefore ‘Father’ is proper to the Son; and not ‘creature,’ but ‘Son’ is proper to the Father. Accordingly this passage also proves, that we are not sons by nature, but the Son who is in us ; and again, that God is not our Father by nature, but of that Word in us, in whom and because of whom we ‘cry, Abba, Father Galatians 4:6.’ And so in like manner, the Father calls them sons in whomsoever He sees His own Son, and says, ‘I begot.’ since begetting is significant of a Son, and making is indicative of the works. And thus it is that we are not begotten first, but made; for it is written, ‘Let Us make man Genesis 1:26;’ but afterwards, on receiving the grace of the Spirit, we are said thenceforth to be begotten also; just as the great Moses in his Song with an apposite meaning says first ‘He bought,’ and afterwards ‘He begot.’ lest, hearing ‘He begot,’ they might forget their own original nature; but that they might know that from the beginning they are creatures, but when according to grace they are said to be begotten, as sons, still no less than before are men works according to nature.
- And that creature and offspring are not the same, but differ from each other in nature and the signification of the words, the Lord Himself shows even in the Proverbs. For having said, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways;’ He has added, ‘But before all the hills He begot me.’ If then the Word were by nature and in His Essence a creature, and there were no difference between offspring and creature, He would not have added, ‘He begot me,’ but had been satisfied with ‘He created,’ as if that term implied ‘He begot.’ but, as it is, after saying, ‘He created me a beginning of His ways for His works,’ He has added, not simply ‘begot me,’ but with the connection of the conjunction ‘But,’ as guarding thereby the term ‘created,’ when he says, ‘But before all the hills He begot me.’ For ‘begot me’ succeeding in such close connection to ‘created me,’ makes the meaning one, and shows that ‘created’ is said with an object , but that ‘begot me’ is prior to ‘created me.’ For as, if He had said the reverse, ‘The Lord begot me,’ and went on, ‘But before the hills He created me,’ ‘created’ would certainly precede ‘begot,’ so having said first ‘created,’ and then added ‘But before all the hills He begot me,’ He necessarily shows that ‘begot’ preceded ‘created.’ For in saying, ‘Before all He begot me,’ He intimates that He is other than all things; it having been shown to be true in an earlier part of this book, that no one creature was made before another, but all things originate subsisted at once together upon one and the same command. Therefore neither do the words which follow ‘created,’ also follow ‘begot me;’ but in the case of ‘created’ is added ‘beginning of ways,’ but of ‘begot me,’ He says not, ‘He begot me as a beginning,’ but ‘before all He begot me.’ But He who is before all is not a beginning of all, but is other than all ; but if other than all (in which ‘all’ the beginning of all is included), it follows that He is other than the creatures; and it becomes a clear point, that the Word, being other than all things and before all, afterwards is created ‘a beginning of the ways for works,’ because He became man, that, as the Apostle has said, He who is the ‘Beginning’ and ‘First-born from the dead, in all things might have the preeminence Colossians 1:18.’
- Such then being the difference between ‘created’ and ‘begot me,’ and between ‘beginning of ways’ and ‘before all,’ God, being first Creator, next, as has been said, becomes Father of men, because of His Word dwelling in them. But in the case of the Word the reverse; for God, being His Father by nature, becomes afterwards both His Creator and Maker, when the Word puts on that flesh which was created and made, and becomes man. For, as men, receiving the Spirit of the Son, become children through Him, so the Word of God, when He Himself puts on the flesh of man, then is said both to be created and to have been made. If then we are by nature sons, then is He by nature creature and work; but if we become sons by adoption and grace, then has the Word also, when in grace towards us He became man, said, ‘The Lord created me.’ And in the next place, when He put on a created nature and became like us in body, reasonably was He therefore called both our Brother and ‘First-born.’ For though it was after us that He was made man for us, and our brother by similitude of body, still He is therefore called and is the ‘First-born’ of us, because, all men being lost, according to the transgression of Adam, His flesh before all others was saved and liberated, as being the Word’s body ; and henceforth we, becoming incorporate with It, are saved after Its pattern. For in It the Lord becomes our guide to the Kingdom of Heaven and to His own Father, saying, ‘I am the way’ and ‘the door ,’ and ‘through Me all must enter.’ Whence also is He said to be ‘First-born from the dead Revelation 1:5,’ not that He died before us, for we had died first; but because having undergone death for us and abolished it, He was the first to rise, as man, for our sakes raising His own Body. Henceforth He having risen, we too from Him and because of Him rise in due course from the dead.
- But if He is also called ‘First-born of the creation ,’ still this is not as if He were levelled to the creatures, and only first of them in point of time (for how should that be, since He is ‘Only-begotten?’), but it is because of the Word’s condescension to the creatures, according to which He has become the ‘Brother’ of ‘many.’ For the term ‘Only-begotten’ is used where there are no brethren, but ‘First-born ‘ because of brethren. Accordingly it is nowhere written in the Scriptures, ‘the first-born of God,’ nor ‘the creature of God;’ but ‘Only-begotten’ and ‘Son’ and ‘Word’ and ‘Wisdom,’ refer to Him as proper to the Father. Thus, ‘We have seen His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father John 1:14;’ and ‘God sent His Only-begotten Son 1 John 4:9;’ and ‘O Lord, Your Word endures for ever ;’ and ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God;’ and ‘Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God 1 Corinthians 1:24;’ and ‘This is My beloved Son.’ and ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God.’ But ‘first-born’ implied the descent to the creation ; for of it has He been called first-born; and ‘He created’ implies His grace towards the works, for for them is He created. If then He is Only-begotten, as indeed He is, ‘First-born’ needs some explanation; but if He be really First-born, then He is not Only-begotten. For the same cannot be both Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations;— that is, Only-begotten, because of His generation from the Father, as has been said; and First-born, because of His condescension to the creation and His making the many His brethren. Certainly, those two terms being inconsistent with each other, one should say that the attribute of being Only-begotten has justly the preference in the instance of the Word, in that there is no other Word, or other Wisdom, but He alone is very Son of the Father. Moreover , as was before said, not in connection with any reason, but absolutely it is said of Him, ‘The Only-begotten Son which is in the bosom of the Father John 1:18;’ but the word ‘First-born’ has again the creation as a reason in connection with it, which Paul proceeds to say, ‘for in Him all things were created Colossians 1:16.’ But if all the creatures were created in Him, He is other than the creatures, and is not a creature, but the Creator of the creatures.
- Not then because He was from the Father was He called ‘First-born,’ but because in Him the creation came to be; and as before the creation He was the Son, through whom was the creation, so also before He was called the First-born of the whole creation, not the less was the Word Himself with God and the Word was God. But this also not understanding, these irreligious men go about saying, ‘If He is First-born of all creation, it is plain that He too is one of the creation.’ Senseless men! If He is simply ‘First-born of the whole creation,’ then He is other than the whole creation; for he says not, ‘He is First-born above the rest of the creatures,’ lest He be reckoned to be as one of the creatures, but it is written, ‘of the whole creation,’ that He may appear other than the creation. Reuben, for instance, is not said to be first-born of all the children of Jacob , but of Jacob himself and his brethren; lest he should be thought to be some other beside the children of Jacob. Nay, even concerning the Lord Himself the Apostle says not, ‘that He may become First-born of all,’ lest He be thought to bear a body other than ours, but ‘among many brethren Romans 8:29,’ because of the likeness of the flesh. If then the Word also were one of the creatures, Scripture would have said of Him also that He was First-born of other creatures; but in fact, the saints saying that He is ‘First-born of the whole creation Colossians 1:15,’ the Son of God is plainly shown to be other than the whole creation and not a creature. For if He is a creature, He will be First-born of Himself. How then is it possible, O Arians, for Him to be before and after Himself? Next, if He is a creature, and the whole creation through Him came to be, and in Him consists, how can He both create the creation and be one of the things which consist in Him? Since then such a notion is in itself unseemly, it is proved against them by the truth, that He is called ‘First-born among many brethren?’ because of the relationship of the flesh, and ‘First-born from the dead,’ because the resurrection of the dead is from Him and after Him; and ‘First-born of the whole creation,’ because of the Father’s love to man, which brought it to pass that in His Word not only ‘all things consist ,’ but the creation itself, of which the Apostle speaks, ‘waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, shall be delivered’ one time ‘from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.’ Of this creation thus delivered, the Lord will be First-born, both of it and of all those who are made children, that by His being called first, those that come after Him may abide , as depending on the Word as a beginning.
- And I think that the irreligious men themselves will be shamed from such a thought; for if the case stands not as we have said, but they will rule it that He is ‘First-born of the whole creation’ as in essence— a creature among creatures, let them reflect that they will be conceiving Him as brother and fellow of the things without reason and life. For of the whole creation these also are parts; and the ‘First-born’ must be first indeed in point of time but only thus, and in kind and similitude must be the same with all. How then can they say this without exceeding all measures of irreligion? Or who will endure them, if this is their language? Or who can but hate them even imagining such things? For it is evident to all, that neither for Himself, as being a creature, nor as having any connection according to essence with the whole creation, has He been called ‘First-born’ of it: but because the Word, when at the beginning He framed the creatures, condescended to things originate, that it might be possible for them to come to be. For they could not have endured His nature, which was untempered splendour, even that of the Father, unless condescending by the Father’s love for man He had supported them and taken hold of them and brought them into existence ; and next, because, by this condescension of the Word, the creation too is made a son through Him, that He might be in all respects ‘First-born’ of it, as has been said, both in creating, and also in being brought for the sake of all into this very world. For so it is written, ‘When He brings the First-born into the world, He says, Let all the Angels of God worship Him Hebrews 1:6.’ Let Christ’s enemies hear and tear themselves to pieces, because His coming into the world is what makes Him called ‘First-born’ of all; and thus the Son is the Father’s ‘Only-begotten,’ because He alone is from Him, and He is the ‘First-born of creation,’ because of this adoption of all as sons. And as He is First-born among brethren and rose from the dead ‘the first fruits of them that slept 1 Corinthians 15:20;’ so, since it became Him ‘in all things to have the preeminence Colossians 1:18,’ therefore He is created ‘a beginning of ways,’ that we, walking along it and entering through Him who says, ‘I am the Way’ and ‘the Door,’ and partaking of the knowledge of the Father, may also hear the words, ‘Blessed are the undefiled in the Way,’ and ‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. ‘
- And thus since the truth declares that the Word is not by nature a creature, it is fitting now to say, in what sense He is ‘beginning of ways.’ For when the first way, which was through Adam, was lost, and in place of paradise we deviated unto death, and heard the words, ‘Dust you are, and unto dust Genesis 3:19 shall you return,’ therefore the Word of God, who loves man, puts on Him created flesh at the Father’s will , that whereas the first man had made it dead through the transgression, He Himself might quicken it in the blood of His own body , and might open ‘for us a way new and living,’ as the Apostle says, ‘through the veil, that is to say, His flesh Hebrews 10:20;’ which he signifies elsewhere thus, ‘Wherefore, if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold all things have become new 2 Corinthians 5:17.’ But if a new creation has come to pass, some one must be first of this creation; now a man, made of earth only, such as we have become from the transgression, he could not be. For in the first creation, men had become unfaithful, and through them that first creation had been lost; and there was need of some one else to renew the first creation, and preserve the new which had come to be. Therefore from love to man none other than the Lord, the ‘beginning’ of the new creation, is created as ‘the Way,’ and consistently says, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of ways for His works;’ that man might walk no longer according to that first creation, but there being as it were a beginning of a new creation, and with the Christ ‘a beginning of its ways,’ we might follow Him henceforth, who says to us, ‘I am the Way:’— as the blessed Apostle teaches in Colossians, saying, ‘He is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the preeminence.’
- For if, as has been said, because of the resurrection from the dead He is called a beginning, and then a resurrection took place when He, bearing our flesh, had given Himself to death for us, it is evident that His words, ‘He created me a beginning of ways,’ is indicative not of His essence , but of His bodily presence. For to the body death was proper ; and in like manner to the bodily presence are the words proper, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways.’ For since the Saviour was thus created according to the flesh, and had become a beginning of things new created, and had our first fruits, viz. that human flesh which He took to Himself, therefore after Him, as is fit, is created also the people to come, David saying, ‘Let this be written for another generation, and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord.’ And again in the twenty-first Psalm, ‘The generation to come shall declare unto the Lord, and they shall declare His righteousness, unto a people that shall be born whom the Lord made.’ For we shall no more hear, ‘In the day that you eat thereof, you shall surely die Genesis 2:17,’ but ‘Where I am, there ye’ shall ‘be also;’ so that we may say, ‘We are His workmanship, created unto good works John 14:3; Ephesians 2:10.’ And again, since God’s work, that is, man, though created perfect, has become wanting through the transgression, and dead by sin, and it was unbecoming that the work of God should remain imperfect (wherefore all the saints were praying concerning this, for instance in the hundred and thirty-seventh Psalm, saying, ‘Lord, You shall requite for me; despise not then the works of Your hands ‘); therefore the perfect Word of God puts around Him an imperfect body, and is said to be created ‘for the works;’ that, paying the debt in our stead, He might, by Himself, perfect what was wanting to man. Now immortality was wanting to him, and the way to paradise. This then is what the Saviour says, ‘I glorified You on the earth, I perfected the work which You have given Me to do John 17:4;’ and again, ‘The works which the Father has given Me to perfect, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me;’ but ‘the works ‘ He here says that the Father had given Him to perfect, are those for which He is created, saying in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways, for His works;’ for it is all one to say, ‘The Father has given me the works,’ and ‘The Lord created me for the works.’
- When then received He the works to perfect, O God’s enemies? For from this also ‘He created’ will be understood. If you say, ‘At the beginning when He brought them into being out of what was not,’ it is an untruth; for they were not yet made; whereas He appears to speak as taking what was already in being. Nor is it pious to refer to the time which preceded the Word’s becoming flesh, lest His coming should thereupon seem superfluous, since for the sake of these works that coming took place. Therefore it remains for us to say that when He has become man, then He took the works. For then He perfected them, by healing our wounds and vouchsafing to us the resurrection from the dead. But if, when the Word became flesh, then were given to Him the works, plainly when He became man, then also is He created for the works. Not of His essence then is ‘He created’ indicative, as has many times been said, but of His bodily generation. For then, because the works had become imperfect and mutilated from the transgression, He is said in respect to the body to be created; that by perfecting them and making them whole, He might present the Church unto the Father, as the Apostle says, ‘not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish Ephesians 5:27.’ Mankind then is perfected in Him and restored, as it was made at the beginning, nay, with greater grace. For, on rising from the dead, we shall no longer fear death, but shall ever reign in Christ in the heavens. And this has been done, since the own Word of God Himself, who is from the Father, has put on the flesh, and become man. For if, being a creature, He had become man, man had remained just what he was, not joined to God; for how had a work been joined to the Creator by a work ? Or what succour had come from like to like, when one as well as other needed it ? And how, were the Word a creature, had He power to undo God’s sentence, and to remit sin, whereas it is written in the Prophets, that this is God’s doing? For ‘who is a God like You, that pardons iniquity, and passes by transgression Micah 7:18?’ For whereas God has said, ‘Dust you are, and unto dust shall you return Genesis 3:19,’ men have become mortal; how then could things originate undo sin? But the Lord is He who has undone it, as He says Himself, ‘Unless the Son shall make you free ;’ and the Son, who made free, has shown in truth that He is no creature, nor one of things originate, but the proper Word and Image of the Father’s Essence, who at the beginning sentenced, and alone remits sins. For since it is said in the Word, ‘Dust you are, and unto dust you shall return,’ suitably through the Word Himself and in Him the freedom and the undoing of the condemnation has come to pass.
- ‘Yet,’ they say, ‘though the Saviour were a creature, God was able to speak the word only and undo the curse.’ And so another will tell them in like manner, ‘Without His coming among us at all, God was able just to speak and undo the curse.’ but we must consider what was expedient for mankind, and not what simply is possible with God. He could have destroyed, before the Ark of Noah, the then transgressors; but He did it after the ark. He could too, without Moses, have spoken the word only and have brought the people out of Egypt; but it profited to do it through Moses. And God was able without the judges to save His people; but it was profitable for the people that for a season judges should be raised up to them. The Saviour too might have come among us from the beginning, or on His coming might not have been delivered to Pilate; but He came ‘at the fullness of the ages Galatians 4:4,’ and when sought for said, ‘I am He John 18:5.’ For what He does, that is profitable for men, and was not fitting in any other way; and what is profitable and fitting, for that He provides. Accordingly He came, not ‘that He might be ministered unto, but that He might minister ,’ and might work our salvation. Certainly He was able to speak the Law from heaven, but He saw that it was expedient to men for Him to speak from Sinai; and that He has done, that it might be possible for Moses to go up, and for them hearing the word near them the rather to believe. Moreover, the good reason of what He did may be seen thus; if God had but spoken, because it was in His power, and so the curse had been undone, the power had been shown of Him who gave the word, but man had become such as Adam was before the transgression, having received grace from without , and not having it united to the body; (for he was such when he was placed in Paradise) nay, perhaps had become worse, because he had learned to transgress. Such then being his condition, had he been seduced by the serpent, there had been fresh need for God to give command and undo the curse; and thus the need had become interminable , and men had remained under guilt not less than before, as being enslaved to sin; and, ever sinning, would have ever needed one to pardon them, and had never become free, being in themselves flesh, and ever worsted by the Law because of the infirmity of the flesh.
- Again, if the Son were a creature, man had remained mortal as before, not being joined to God; for a creature had not joined creatures to God, as seeking itself one to join it ; nor would a portion of the creation have been the creation’s salvation, as needing salvation itself. To provide against this also, He sends His own Son, and He becomes Son of Man, by taking created flesh; that, since all were under sentence of death, He, being other than them all, might Himself for all offer to death His own body; and that henceforth, as if all had died through Him, the word of that sentence might be accomplished (for ‘all died 2 Corinthians 5:14 ‘ in Christ), and all through Him might thereupon become free from sin and from the curse which came upon it, and might truly abide for ever, risen from the dead and clothed in immortality and incorruption. For the Word being clothed in the flesh, as has many times been explained, every bite of the serpent began to be utterly staunched from out it; and whatever evil sprung from the motions of the flesh, to be cut away, and with these death also was abolished, the companion of sin, as the Lord Himself says , ‘The prince of this world comes, and finds nothing in Me;’ and ‘For this end was He manifested,’ as John has written, ‘that He might destroy the works of the devil 1 John 3:8.’ And these being destroyed from the flesh, we all were thus liberated by the kinship of the flesh, and for the future were joined, even we, to the Word. And being joined to God, no longer do we abide upon earth; but, as He Himself has said, where He is, there shall we be also; and henceforward we shall fear no longer the serpent, for he was brought to nought when he was assailed by the Saviour in the flesh, and heard Him say, ‘Get behind Me, Satan Matthew 16:23,’ and thus he is cast out of paradise into the eternal fire. Nor shall we have to watch against woman beguiling us, for ‘in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the Angels Mark 12:25;’ and in Christ Jesus it shall be ‘a new creation,’ and ‘neither male nor female, but all and in all Christ ;’ and where Christ is, what fear, what danger can still happen?
- But this would not have come to pass, had the Word been a creature; for with a creature, the devil, himself a creature, would have ever continued the battle, and man, being between the two, had been ever in peril of death, having none in whom and through whom he might be joined to God and delivered from all fear. Whence the truth shows us that the Word is not of things originate, but rather Himself their Framer. For therefore did He assume the body originate and human, that having renewed it as its Framer, He might deify it in Himself, and thus might introduce us all into the kingdom of heaven after His likeness. For man had not been deified if joined to a creature, or unless the Son were very God; nor had man been brought into the Father’s presence, unless He had been His natural and true Word who had put on the body. And as we had not been delivered from sin and the curse, unless it had been by nature human flesh, which the Word put on (for we should have had nothing common with what was foreign), so also the man had not been deified, unless the Word who became flesh had been by nature from the Father and true and proper to Him. For therefore the union was of this kind, that He might unite what is man by nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, and his salvation and deification might be sure. Therefore let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Essence, deny also that He took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin ; for in neither case had it been of profit to us men, whether the Word were not true and naturally Son of God, or the flesh not true which He assumed. But surely He took true flesh, though Valentinus rave; yea the Word was by nature Very God, though Ario-maniacs rave ; and in that flesh has come to pass the beginning of our new creation, He being created man for our sake, and having made for us that new way, as has been said.
- The Word then is neither creature nor work; for creature, thing made, work, are all one; and were He creature and thing made, He would also be work. Accordingly He has not said, ‘He created Me a work,’ nor ‘He made Me with the works,’ lest He should appear to be in nature and essence a creature; nor, ‘He created Me to make works,’ lest, on the other hand, according to the perverseness of the irreligious, He should seem as an instrument made for our sake. Nor again has He declared, ‘He created Me before the works,’ lest, as He really is before all, as an Offspring, so, if created also before the works, He should give ‘Offspring’ and ‘He created’ the same meaning. But He has said with exact discrimination , ‘for the works;’ as much as to say, ‘The Father has made Me, into flesh, that I might be man,’ which again shows that He is not a work but an offspring. For as he who comes into a house, is not part of the house, but is other than the house, so He who is created for the works, must be by nature other than the works. But if otherwise, as you hold, O Arians, the Word of God be a work, by what Hand and Wisdom did He Himself come into being? For all things that came to be, came by the Hand and Wisdom of God, who Himself says, ‘My hand has made all these things Isaiah 66:2;’ and David says in the Psalm, ‘And You, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands ;’ and again, in the hundred and forty-second Psalm, ‘I do remember the time past, I muse upon all Your works, yea I exercise myself in the works of Your hands.’ Therefore if by the Hand of God the works are wrought, and it is written that ‘all things were made through the Word,’ and ‘without Him was not made one thing John 1:3,’ and again, ‘One Lord Jesus, through whom are all things 1 Corinthians 8:9,’ and ‘in Him all things consist Colossians 1:17,’ it is very plain that the Son cannot be a work, but He is the Hand of God and the Wisdom. This knowing, the martyrs in Babylon, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, arraign the Arian irreligion. For when they say, ‘O all you works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord,’ they recount things in heaven, things on earth, and the whole creation, as works; but the Son they name not. For they say not, ‘Bless, O Word, and praise, O Wisdom;’ to show that all other things are both praising and are works; but the Word is not a work nor of those that praise, but is praised with the Father and worshipped and confessed as God , being His Word and Wisdom, and of the works the Framer. This too the Spirit has declared in the Psalms with a most apposite distinction, ‘the Word of the Lord is true, and all His works are faithful ;’ as in another Psalm too He says, ‘O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In Wisdom have You made them all. ‘
- But if the Word were a work, then certainly He as others had been made in Wisdom; nor would Scripture distinguish Him from the works, nor while it named them works, preach Him as Word and own Wisdom of God. But, as it is, distinguishing Him from the works, He shows that Wisdom is Framer of the works, and not a work. This distinction Paul also observes, writing to the Hebrews, ‘The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, reaching even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, neither is there any creature hidden before Him, but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom is our account Hebrews 4:12-13.’ For behold he calls things originate ‘creature;’ but the Son he recognises as the Word of God, as if He were other than the creatures. And again saying, ‘All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom is our account,’ he signifies that He is other than all of them. For hence it is that He judges, but each of all things originate is bound to give account to Him. And so also, when the whole creation is groaning together with us in order to be set free from the bondage of corruption, the Son is thereby shown to be other than the creatures. For if He were creature, He too would be one of those who groan, and would need one who should bring adoption and deliverance to Himself as well as others. But if the whole creation groans together, for the sake of freedom from the bondage of corruption, whereas the Son is not of those that groan nor of those who need freedom, but He it is who gives sonship and freedom to all, saying to the Jews of His time , ‘The servant remains not in the house for ever, but the Son remains for ever; if then the Son shall make you free, you shall be free indeed John 8:35-36;’ it is clearer than the light from these considerations also, that the Word of God is not a creature but true Son, and by nature genuine, of the Father. Concerning then ‘The Lord has created me a beginning of the ways,’ this is sufficient, as I think, though in few words, to afford matter to the learned to frame more ample refutations of the Arian heresy.
Chapter 22. Texts Explained; Sixthly, the Context of Proverbs 8:22, and application of it to created Wisdom as seen in the works. The Son reveals the Father, first by the works, then by the Incarnation.
But since the heretics, reading the next verse, take a perverse view of that also, because it is written, ‘He founded me before the world Proverbs 8:23,’ namely, that this is said of the Godhead of the Word and not of His incarnate Presence , it is necessary, explaining this verse also, to show their error.
- It is written, ‘The Lord in Wisdom founded the earth Proverbs 3:19;’ if then by Wisdom the earth is founded, how can He who founds be founded? Nay, this too is said after the manner of proverbs , and we must in like manner investigate its sense; that we may know that, while by Wisdom the Father frames and founds the earth to be firm and steadfast , Wisdom Itself is founded for us, that It may become beginning and foundation of our new creation and renewal. Accordingly here as before, He says not, ‘Before the world He has made me Word or Son,’ lest there should be as it were a beginning of His making. For this we must seek before all things, whether He is Son , ‘and on this point specially search the Scriptures ;’ for this it was, when the Apostles were questioned, that Peter answered, saying, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the Living God Matthew 16:16.’ This also the father of the Arian heresy asked as one of his first questions; ‘If Thou be the Son of God Matthew 4:3;’ for he knew that this is the truth and the sovereign principle of our faith; and that, if He were Himself the Son, the tyranny of the devil would have its end; but if He were a creature, He too was one of those descended from that Adam whom he deceived, and he had no cause for anxiety. For the same reason the Jews of the day were angered, because the Lord said that He was Son of God, and that God was His proper Father. For had He called Himself one of the creatures, or said, ‘I am a work,’ they had not been startled at the intelligence, nor thought such words blasphemy, knowing, as they did, that even Angels had come among their fathers; but since He called Himself Son, they perceived that such was not the note of a creature, but of Godhead and of the Father’s nature. The Arians then ought, even in imitation of their own father the devil, to take some special pains on this point; and if He has said, ‘He founded me to be Word or Son,’ then to think as they do; but if He has not so spoken, not to invent for themselves what is not.
- For He says not, ‘Before the world He founded me as Word or Son,’ but simply, ‘He founded me,’ to show again, as I have said, that not for His own sake but for those who are built upon Him does He here also speak, after the way of proverbs. For this knowing, the Apostle also writes, ‘Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ; but let every man take heed how he builds thereupon.’ And it must be that the foundation should be such as the things built on it, that they may admit of being well compacted together. Being then the Word, He has not, as Word , any such as Himself, who may be compacted with Him; for He is Only-begotten; but having become man, He has the like of Him, those namely the likeness of whose flesh He has put on. Therefore according to His manhood He is founded, that we, as precious stones, may admit of building upon Him, and may become a temple of the Holy Ghost who dwells in us. And as He is a foundation, and we stones built upon Him, so again He is a Vine and we knit to Him as branches — not according to the Essence of the Godhead; for this surely is impossible; but according to His manhood, for the branches must be like the vine, since we are like Him according to the flesh. Moreover, since the heretics have such human notions, we may suitably confute them with human resemblances contained in the very matter they urge. Thus He says not, ‘He made me a foundation,’ lest He might seem to be made and to have a beginning of being, and they might thence find a shameless occasion of irreligion; but, ‘He founded me.’ Now what is founded is founded for the sake of the stones which are raised upon it; it is not a random process, but a stone is first transported from the mountain and set down in the depth of the earth. And while a stone is in the mountain, it is not yet founded; but when need demands, and it is transported, and laid in the depth of the earth, then immediately if the stone could speak, it would say, ‘He now founded me, who brought me hither from the mountain.’ Therefore the Lord also did not when founded take a beginning of existence; for He was the Word before that; but when He put on our body, which He severed and took from Mary, then He says ‘He has founded me;’ as much as to say, ‘Me, being the Word, He has enveloped in a body of earth.’ For so He is founded for our sakes, taking on Him what is ours , that we, as incorporated and compacted and bound together in Him through the likeness of the flesh, may attain unto a perfect man, and abide immortal and incorruptible.
- Nor let the words ‘before the world’ and ‘before He made the earth’ and ‘before the mountains were settled’ disturb any one; for they very well accord with ‘founded’ and ‘created;’ for here again allusion is made to the Economy according to the flesh. For though the grace which came to us from the Saviour appeared, as the Apostle says, just now, and has come when He sojourned among us; yet this grace had been prepared even before we came into being, nay, before the foundation of the world, and the reason why is kindly and wonderful. It beseemed not that God should counsel concerning us afterwards, lest He should appear ignorant of our fate. The God of all then — creating us by His own Word, and knowing our destinies better than we, and foreseeing that, being made ‘good Genesis 1:31,’ we should in the event be transgressors of the commandment, and be thrust out of paradise for disobedience — being loving and kind, prepared beforehand in His own Word, by whom also He created us , the Economy of our salvation; that though by the serpent’s deceit we fell from Him, we might not remain quite dead, but having in the Word the redemption and salvation which was afore prepared for us, we might rise again and abide immortal, what time He should have been created for us ‘a beginning of the ways,’ and He who was the ‘First-born of creation’ should become ‘first-born’ of the ‘brethren,’ and again should rise ‘first-fruits of the dead.’ This Paul the blessed Apostle teaches in his writings; for, as interpreting the words of the Proverbs ‘before the world’ and ‘before the earth was,’ he thus speaks to Timothy ; ‘Be partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God, who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who has abolished death, and brought to light life 2 Timothy 1:8-10.’ And to the Ephesians; ‘Blessed be God even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself Ephesians 1:3-5.’
- How then has He chosen us, before we came into existence, but that, as he says himself, in Him we were represented beforehand? And how at all, before men were created, did He predestinate us unto adoption, but that the Son Himself was ‘founded before the world,’ taking on Him that economy which was for our sake? Or how, as the Apostle goes on to say, have we ‘an inheritance being predestinated,’ but that the Lord Himself was founded ‘before the world,’ inasmuch as He had a purpose, for our sakes, to take on Him through the flesh all that inheritance of judgment which lay against us, and we henceforth were made sons in Him? And how did we receive it ‘before the world was,’ when we were not yet in being, but afterwards in time, but that in Christ was stored the grace which has reached us? Wherefore also in the Judgment, when every one shall receive according to his conduct, He says, ‘Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world Matthew 25:34.’ How then, or in whom, was it prepared before we came to be, save in the Lord who ‘before the world’ was founded for this purpose; that we, as built upon Him, might partake, as well-compacted stones, the life and grace which is from Him? And this took place, as naturally suggests itself to the religious mind, that, as I said, we, rising after our brief death, may be capable of an eternal life, of which we had not been capable , men as we are, formed of earth, but that ‘before the world’ there had been prepared for us in Christ the hope of life and salvation. Therefore reason is there that the Word, on coming into our flesh, and being created in it as ‘a beginning of ways for His works,’ is laid as a foundation according as the Father’s will was in Him before the world, as has been said, and before land was, and before the mountains were settled, and before the fountains burst forth; that, though the earth and the mountains and the shapes of visible nature pass away in the fullness of the present age, we on the contrary may not grow old after their pattern, but may be able to live after them, having the spiritual life and blessing which before these things have been prepared for us in the Word Himself according to election. For thus we shall be capable of a life not temporary, but ever afterwards abide and live in Christ; since even before this our life had been founded and prepared in Christ Jesus.
- Nor in any other way was it fitting that our life should be founded, but in the Lord who is before the ages, and through whom the ages were brought to be; that, since it was in Him, we too might be able to inherit that everlasting life. For God is good; and being good always, He willed this, as knowing that our weak nature needed the succour and salvation which is from Him. And as a wise architect, proposing to build a house, consults also about repairing it, should it at any time become dilapidated after building, and, as counselling about this, makes preparation and gives to the workmen materials for a repair; and thus the means of the repair are provided before the house; in the same way prior to us is the repair of our salvation founded in Christ, that in Him we might even be new-created. And the will and the purpose were made ready ‘before the world,’ but have taken effect when the need required, and the Saviour came among us. For the Lord Himself will stand us in place of all things in the heavens, when He receives us into everlasting life. This then suffices to prove that the Word of God is not a creature, but that the sense of the passage is right. But since that passage, when scrutinized, has a right sense in every point of view, it may be well to state what it is; perhaps many words may bring these senseless men to shame. Now here I must recur to what has been said before, for what I have to say relates to the same proverb and the same Wisdom. The Word has not called Himself a creature by nature, but has said in proverbs, ‘The Lord created me;’ and He plainly indicates a sense not spoken ‘plainly’ but latent , such as we shall be able to find by taking away the veil from the proverb. For who, on hearing from the Framing Wisdom, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways,’ does not at once question the meaning, reflecting how that creative Wisdom can be created? Who on hearing the Only-begotten Son of God say, that He was created ‘a beginning of ways,’ does not investigate the sense, wondering how the Only-begotten Son can become a Beginning of many others? For it is a dark saying ; but ‘a man of understanding,’ says he, ‘shall understand a proverb and the interpretation, the words of the wise and their dark sayings Proverbs 1:5-6.’
- Now the Only-begotten and very Wisdom of God is Creator and Framer of all things; for ‘in Wisdom have You made them all ,’ he says, and ‘the earth is full of Your creation.’ But that what came into being might not only be, but be good , it pleased God that His own Wisdom should condescend to the creatures, so as to introduce an impress and semblance of Its Image on all in common and on each, that what was made might be manifestly wise works and worthy of God. For as of the Son of God, considered as the Word, our word is an image, so of the same Son considered as Wisdom is the wisdom which is implanted in us an image; in which wisdom we, having the power of knowledge and thought, become recipients of the All-framing Wisdom; and through It we are able to know Its Father. ‘For he who has the Son,’ says He, ‘has the Father also;’ and ‘he that receives Me, receives Him that sent Me.’ Such an impress then of Wisdom being created in us, and being in all the works, with reason does the true and framing Wisdom take to Itself what belongs to its own impress, and say, ‘The Lord created me for His works;’ for what the wisdom in us says, that the Lord Himself speaks as if it were His own; and, whereas He is not Himself created, being Creator, yet because of the image of Him created in the works , He says this as if of Himself. And as the Lord Himself has said, ‘He that receives you, receives Me Matthew 10:40,’ because His impress is in us, so, though He be not among the creatures, yet because His image and impress is created in the works, He says, as if in His own person, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works.’ And therefore has this impress of Wisdom in the works been brought into being, that, as I said before, the world might recognise in it its own Creator the Word, and through Him the Father. And this is what Paul said, ‘Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it unto them: for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made Romans 1:19-20.’ But if so, the Word is not a creature in essence ; but the wisdom which is in us and so called, is spoken of in this passage in the Proverbs.
- But if this too fails to persuade them, let them tell us themselves, whether there is any wisdom in the creatures or not ? If not how is it that the Apostle complains, ‘For after that in the Wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God 1 Corinthians 1:21?’ or how is it if there is no wisdom, that a ‘multitude of wise men ‘ are found in Scripture? For ‘a wise man fears and departs from evil Proverbs 14:16;’ and ‘through wisdom is a house built ;’ and the Preacher says, ‘A man’s wisdom makes his face to shine;’ and he blames those who are headstrong thus, ‘Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days were better than these? For thou dost not inquire in wisdom concerning this.’ But if, as the Son of Sirach says, ‘He poured her out upon all His works; she is with all flesh according to His gift, and He has given her to them that love Him Sirach 1:9-10,’ and this outpouring is a note, not of the Essence of the Very Wisdom and Only-begotten, but of that wisdom which is imaged in the world, how is it incredible that the All-framing and true Wisdom Itself, whose impress is the wisdom and knowledge poured out in the world, should say, as I have already explained, as if of Itself, ‘The Lord created me for His works?’ For the wisdom in the world is not creative, but is that which is created in the works, according to which ‘the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handywork.’ This if men have within them , they will acknowledge the true Wisdom of God; and will know that they are made really after God’s Image. And, as some son of a king, when the father wished to build a city , might cause his own name to be printed upon each of the works that were rising, both to give security to them of the works remaining, by reason of the show of his name on everything, and also to make them remember him and his father from the name, and having finished the city might be asked concerning it, how it was made, and then would answer, ‘It is made securely, for according to the will of my father, I am imaged in each work, for my name was made in the works;’ but saying this, he does not signify that his own essence is created, but the impress of himself by means of his name; in the same manner, to apply the illustration, to those who admire the wisdom in the creatures, the true Wisdom makes answer, ‘The Lord created me for the works,’ for my impress is in them; and I have thus condescended for the framing of all things.
- Moreover, that the Son should be speaking of the impress that is within us as if it were Himself, should not startle any one, considering (for we must not shrink from repetition ) that, when Saul was persecuting the Church, in which was His impress and image, He said, as if He were Himself under persecution, ‘Saul, why do you persecute Me Acts 9:4?’ Therefore (as has been said), as, supposing the impress itself of Wisdom which is in the works had said, ‘The Lord created me for the works,’ no one would have been startled, so, if He, the True and Framing Wisdom, the Only-begotten Word of God, should use what belongs to His image as about Himself, namely, ‘The Lord created me for the works,’ let no one, overlooking the wisdom created in the world and in the works, think that ‘He created’ is said of the Substance of the Very Wisdom, lest, diluting the wine with water , he be judged a defrauder of the truth. For It is Creative and Framer; but Its impress is created in the works, as the copy of the image. And He says, ‘Beginning of ways,’ since such wisdom becomes a sort of beginning. and, as it were, rudiments of the knowledge of God; for a man entering, as it were, upon this way first, and keeping it in the fear of God (as Solomon says , ‘The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom’), then advancing upwards in his thoughts and perceiving the Framing Wisdom which is in the creation, will perceive in It also Its Father , as the Lord Himself has said, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father,’ and as John writes, ‘He who acknowledges the Son, has the Father also.’ And He says, ‘Before the world He founded me ,’ since in Its impress the works remain settled and eternal. Then, lest any, hearing concerning the wisdom thus created in the works, should think the true Wisdom, God’s Son, to be by nature a creature, He has found it necessary to add, ‘Before the mountains, and before the earth, and before the waters, and before all hills He begets me,’ that in saying, ‘before every creature’ (for He includes all the creation under these heads), He may show that He is not created together with the works according to Essence. For if He was created ‘for the works,’ yet is before them, it follows that He is in being before He was created. He is not then a creature by nature and essence, but as He Himself has added, an Offspring. But in what differs a creature from an offspring, and how it is distinct by nature, has been shown in what has gone before.
- But since He proceeds to say, ‘When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him ,’ we ought to know that He says not this as if without Wisdom the Father prepared the heaven or the clouds above (for there is no room to doubt that all things are created in Wisdom, and without It was made not even one John 1:3 thing); but this is what He says, ‘All things took place in Me and through Me, and when there was need that Wisdom should be created in the works, in My Essence indeed I was with the Father, but by a condescension to things originate, I was disposing over the works My own impress, so that the whole world as being in one body, might not be at variance but in concord with itself.’ All those then who with an upright understanding, according to the wisdom given unto them, come to contemplate the creatures, are able to say for themselves, ‘By Your appointment all things continue ;’ but they who make light of this must be told, ‘Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools;’ for ‘that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has revealed it unto them; for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being perceived by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, but served the creature more than the Creator of all, who is blessed forever. Amen.’ And they will surely be shamed at hearing, ‘For, after that in the wisdom of God (in the mode we have explained above), the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of the preaching to save them that believe 1 Corinthians 1:21.’ For no longer, as in the former times, God has willed to be known by an image and shadow of wisdom, that namely which is in the creatures, but He has made the true Wisdom Itself to take flesh, and to become man, and to undergo the death of the cross; that by the faith in Him, henceforth all that believe may obtain salvation. However, it is the same Wisdom of God, which through Its own Image in the creatures (whence also It is said to be created), first manifested Itself, and through Itself Its own Father; and afterwards, being Itself the Word, has ‘become flesh John 1:14,’ as John says, and after abolishing death and saving our race, still more revealed Himself and through Him His own Father, saying, ‘Grant unto them that they may know You the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. ‘
- Hence the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of Him; for the knowledge of Father through Son and of Son from Father is one and the same, and the Father delights in Him, and in the same joy the Son rejoices in the Father, saying, ‘I was by Him, daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him Proverbs 8:30.’ And this again proves that the Son is not foreign, but proper to the Father’s Essence. For behold, not because of us has He come to be, as the irreligious men say, nor is He out of nothing (for not from without did God procure for Himself a cause of rejoicing), but the words denote what is His own and like. When then was it, when the Father rejoiced not? But if He ever rejoiced, He was ever, in whom He rejoiced. And in whom does the Father rejoice, except as seeing Himself in His own Image, which is His Word? And though in sons of men also He had delight, on finishing the world, as it is written in these same Proverbs Proverbs 8:31, yet this too has a consistent sense. For even thus He had delight, not because joy was added to Him, but again on seeing the works made after His own Image; so that even this rejoicing of God is on account of His Image. And how too has the Son delight, except as seeing Himself in the Father? For this is the same as saying, ‘He that has seen Me, has seen the Father,’ and ‘I am in the Father and the Father in Me John 14:9-10.’ Vain then is your vaunt as is on all sides shown, O Christ’s enemies, and vainly did ye parade and circulate everywhere your text, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways,’ perverting its sense, and publishing, not Solomon’s meaning, but your own comment. For behold your sense is proved to be but a fantasy; but the passage in the Proverbs, as well as all that is above said, proves that the Son is not a creature in nature and essence, but the proper Offspring of the Father, true Wisdom and Word, by whom ‘all things were made,’ and ‘without Him was made not one thing. John 1:3 ‘