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And indeed I could set forth the treatment of this subject by all heavenly Scriptures, and set in motion, so to speak, a perfect forest of texts concerning that manifestation of the divinity of Christ, except that I have not so much undertaken to speak against this special form of heresy, as to expound the rule of truth concerning the person of Christ. Although, however, I must hasten to other matters, I do not think that I must pass over this point, that in the Gospel the Lord declared, by way of signifying His majesty, saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up again.”51805180 John ii. 19. Or when, in another passage, and on another subject, He declares, “I have power to lay down my life, and again to take it up; for this commandment I have received of my Father.”51815181 John x. 18. Now who is it who says that He can lay down His life, or can Himself recover His life again, because He has received it of His Father? Or who says that He can again resuscitate and rebuild the destroyed temple of His body, except because He is the Word who is from the Father, who is with the Father, “by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made;”51825182 John i. 3. the imitator51835183 [John v. 19. The infirmities of language are such that cunning men like Petavius can construct anti-Nicene doctrine out of Scripture itself; and the marvel is, that the Christian Fathers before the Council of Nicæa generally use such precision of language, although they lacked the synodical definitions.] of His Father’s works and powers, “the image of the invisible God;”51845184 Col. i. 15. “who came down from heaven;”51855185 John iii. 31, 32. who testified what things he had seen and heard; who “came not to do His own will, but rather to do the will of the Father,”51865186 John iv. 38. by whom He had been sent for this very purpose, that being made the “Messenger of Great Counsel,”51875187 Isa. ix. 6. He might unfold to us the laws of the heavenly mysteries; and who as the Word made flesh dwelt among us, of us this Christ is proved to be not man only, because He was the son of man, but also God, because He is the Son of God? And if by the apostle Christ is called “the first-born of every creature,”51885188 Col. i. 15. [But not a creature, for the apostle immediately subjoins that He is the Creator and final Cause of the universe. Moreover, the first-born here seems to mean the heir of all creation, for such is the logical force of the verse following. So, πρωτοτοκεῖα (in the Seventy) = heirship. Gen. xxv. 31.] how could He be the first-born of every creature, unless because according to His divinity the Word proceeded from the Father before every creature? And unless the heretics receive it thus, they will be constrained to show that Christ the man was the first-born of every creature; which they will not be able to do. Either, therefore, He is before every creature, that He may be the first-born of every creature, and He is not man only, because man is after every creature; or He is man only, and He is after every creature. And how is He the first-born of every creature, except because being that Word which is before every creature; and therefore, the first-born of every creature, He becomes flesh and dwells in us, that is, assumes that man’s nature which is after every creature, and so dwells with him and in him, in us, that neither is humanity taken away from Christ, nor His divinity denied? For if He is only before every creature, humanity is taken away from Him; but if He is only man, the divinity which is before every creature is interfered with. Both of these, therefore, are leagued together in Christ, and both are conjoined, and both are linked with one another. And rightly, as there is in Him something which excels the creature, the agreement of the divinity and the humanity seems to be pledged in Him: for which reason He who is declared as made the “Mediator between God and man”51895189 1 Tim. ii. 5. is revealed to have associated in Himself God and man. And if the same apostle says of Christ, that “having put off the flesh, He spoiled powers, they being openly triumphed over in Himself,”51905190 Col. ii. 15. he certainly did not without a meaning propound that the flesh was put off, unless because he wished it to be understood that it was again put on also at the resurrection. Who, therefore, is He that thus put off and put on the flesh? Let the heretics seek out. For we know that the Word of God was invested with the substance of flesh, and that He again was divested of the same bodily material, which again He took up in the resurrection and resumed as a garment. And yet Christ could neither have been divested of nor invested with manhood, had He been only man: for man is never either deprived of nor invested with himself. For that must be something else, whatever it may be, which by any other is either taken away or put on. Whence, reasonably, it was the Word of God who put off the flesh, and again in the resurrection put it on, since He put it off because at His birth He had been invested with it. Therefore in Christ it is God who is invested, and moreover must be divested, because He who is invested must also likewise be He who is divested; whereas, as man, He is invested with and divested of, as it were, a certain tunic of the 633compacted body.51915191 Perhaps the emendation homine instead of homo is right. “He puts on and puts off humanity, as if it were a kind of tunic for a compacted body.” And therefore by consequence He was, as we have said, the Word of God, who is revealed to be at one time invested, at another time divested of the flesh. For this, moreover, He before predicted in blessings: “He shall wash His garment in wine, and His clothing in the blood of the grape.”51925192 Gen. xlix. 11. If the garment in Christ be the flesh, and the clothing itself be the body, let it be asked who is He whose body is clothing, and garment flesh? For to us it is evident that the flesh is the garment, and the body the clothing of the Word; and He washed His bodily substance, and purified the material of the flesh in blood, that is, in wine, by His passion, in the human character that He had undertaken. Whence, if indeed He is washed, He is man, because the garment which is washed is the flesh; but He who washes is the Word of God, who, in order that He might wash the garment, was made the taker-up of the garment. Rightly, from that substance which is taken that it might be washed, He is revealed as a man, even as from the authority of the Word who washed it He is manifested to be God.
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