|« Prev||Chapter III.||Next »|
The absurd doctrine of Abaelard, who attributes properly and specically the absolute and essential names to one Person, is opposed.
5. Now notice more clearly what he thinks, teaches, and writes. He says that Power properly and specially belongs to the Father, Wisdom to the Son, which, indeed, is false. For the Father both, is, and is most truly called, Wisdom, and the Son Power, and what is common to Both is not the proprium , of Each singly. There are certainly some other names which do not belong to Both, but to One or the Other alone, and therefore His own Name is peculiar to Each, and not common to the Other. For the Father is not the Son, nor the Son the Father, for He is designated by the name of Father, not because He is the Father with regard to Himself, but with regard to His Son, and in like manner by the name of Son is expressed not that He is Son with regard to Himself, but to the Father. 267It is not so with power and many other attributes which are assigned to the Father and the Son in common, and not singly to Each taken by Himself. But he says, “No; we find that omnipotence belongs especially to the proprium of the Person of the Father, because He not only can do all things in union with the other two Persons, but also because He alone has His existence from Himself, and not from Another, and as He has His existence from Himself, so has He His power.” O, second Aristotle! By parity of reasoning, if such were reasoning, would not Wisdom and; Kindness belong properly to the Father, since equally the Father has His Wisdom and Kindness from Himself, and not from another, just as He has His Being and His Power? And if he does not deny this, as he cannot reasonably do, what, I ask, will he do with that famous partition of his in which, as he has assigned Power to the Father and Wisdom to the Son, so he has assigned Loving Kindness to the Holy Spirit properly and specially? For one and the same thing cannot well be the proprium of two, that is, to be the exclusive property of each. Let him choose which alternative he will: either let him give Wisdom to the Son and take It from the Father, or assign It to the Father and deny It to the Son; and again, let him assign Loving Kindness to the Spirit without the Father, or to the Father without the Spirit; or let him cease to call attributes which are common, propria ; and though the Father has His Power from Himself, yet let him not dare to concede It to Him as being a proprium , lest on his own reasoning he be obliged to assign Him Wisdom 268and Loving Kindness which He has in precisely the same way, as His propria also.
6. But let us now wait and see in how theoretic a manner our theologian regards the invisible things of God. He says, as I have pointed out, that omnipotence properly belongs to the Father, and He makes it to consist in the fulness and perfection of Rule and discernment. Again, to the Son he assigns Wisdom, and that he defines to be not Power simply, but a certain kind of Power in God, namely, the Power of discernment only. Perhaps he is afraid of doing an injury to the Father if he gives as much to the Son as to Him, and since he dares not give Him complete power, he grants Him half. And this that he lays down he illustrates by common examples, asserting that the Power of discernment which the Son is, is a particular kind of Power, just as a man is a kind of animal, and a brazen seal a particular form of brass, which means that the power of discernment is to the power of Rule and discernment, i.e., the Son is to the Father, as a man to an animal, or as a brazen seal to brass. For, as he says, “a brazen seal must first be brass, and a man to be a man must first be an animal, but not conversely. So Divine Wisdom, which is the power of discernment, must be first Divine Power, but not conversely” (Abael. Theol. B. ii. p. 1083). Do you, then, mean that, like the preceding similitudes, your similitude demands that the Son to be the Son must first be the Father, i.e., that He who is the Son is the Father, though not conversely? If you say this you are a heretic. If you do not your comparison is meaningless.
7. For why do you fashion for yourself the comparison, 269and with such beating about the bush, apply it to questions long ago settled and ill-fitted for debate? Why do you bring it forward with such waste of energy, impress it on us with such a useless multiplicity of words, produce it with such a flourish, if it does not effect the purpose for which it was adduced, viz., that the members be harmonized with each other in fitting proportions? Is not this a labour and a toil, to teach us by means of it, the relation which exists between the Father and the Son? We hold according to you, that a man being given an animal is given, but not conversely, at least by the rule of your logic; for by it it is not that when the genus is given we know the species, but the species being given we know the genus. Since, then, you compare the Father to the genus, the Son to the species, does not the condition of your comparison postulate, that in like manner, when the Son is known you declare the Father to be known and not conversely; that, as he who is a man is necessarily an animal, but not conversely, so also, He who is the Son is necessarily the Father, but not conversely? But the Catholic faith contradicts you on this point, for it plainly denies both, viz., that the Father is the Son, and that the Son is the Father. For indubitably the Father is one Person, the Son another; although the Father is not of a different substance from the Son. For by this distinction the godliness of the Faith knows how to distinguish cautiously between the propria of the Persons, and the undivided unity of the Essence; and holding a middle course, to go along the royal road, turning neither to the right by confounding the Persons, nor 270looking to the left by dividing the Substance. But if you say that it rightly follows as a necessary truth that He who is the Son is also the Father, this helps you nothing; for an identical proposition is necessarily capable of being converted in such a way that what was true of the original proposition is true of the converse; and your comparison of genus and species, or of brass and the brazen seal does not admit of this. For as it does not follow as a necessary consequence that the Son is the Father, and the Father the Son, so neither can we rightly produce a convertible consequence between man and animal, and between a brazen seal and brass. For though it be true to say, “If he is a man he is an animal,” still the converse is not true, “If he is an animal he is a man.” And again, if we have a brazen seal it necessarily follows that it is brass; but if we have brass it does not necessarily follow that it is a brazen seal. But now let us proceed to his other points.
8. Lo! according to him we have omnipotence in the Father, a certain power in the Son. Let him tell us also what he thinks of the Holy Spirit. That loving-kindness, he says, which is denoted by the name of the Holy Spirit is not in God power or wisdom (Theol. ii. 1085). I saw Satan as lightning fall from heaven (S. Luke x. 18). So ought he to fall who exercises himself in great matters, and in things that are too high for him. You see, Holy Father, what ladders, nay what dizzy heights, he has set up for his own downfall. All power, half power, no power. I shudder at the very words, and I think that very horror enough for his confutation. Still, I will bring forward a testimony which occurs to my 271troubled mind, so as to remove the injury done to the Holy Spirit. We read in Isaiah: The Spirit of wisdom, the Spirit of ghostly strength (Is. xi. 2). By this his audacity is plainly and sufficiently answered, even if it is not crushed. Be it that blasphemy against the Father or the Son may be forgiven, will blasphemy against the Spirit? The Angel of the Lord is waiting to cut you asunder; for you have said “The Holy Spirit in God is not power or wisdom.” So the foot of pride stumbles where it intrudes [where it ought not].
|« Prev||Chapter III.||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version