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Chapter III.—Two senses of the word Son, 1. adoptive; 2. essential; attempts of Arians to find a third meaning between these; e.g. that our Lord only was created immediately by God (Asterius’s view), or that our Lord alone partakes the Father. The second and true sense; God begets as He makes, really; though His creation and generation are not like man’s; His generation independent of time; generation implies an internal, and therefore an eternal, act in God; explanation of Prov. viii. 22.
6. They say then what the others held and dared to maintain before them; “Not always 154Father, not always Son; for the Son was not before His generation, but, as others, came to be from nothing; and in consequence God was not always Father of the Son; but, when the Son came to be and was created, then was God called His Father. For the Word is a creature and a work, and foreign and unlike the Father in essence; and the Son is neither by nature the Father’s true Word, nor His only and true Wisdom; but being a creature and one of the works, He is improperly776776 καταχρηστικῶς. This word is noticed and protested against by Alexander, Socr. Hist. i. 6. p. 11 a. by the Semiarians at Ancyra, Epiph. Hær. 73. n. 5. by Basil. contr. Eunom. ii. 23. and by Cyril, Dial. ii. t. v. i. pp. 432, 3. called Word and Wisdom; for by the Word which is in God was He made, as were all things. Wherefore the Son is not true God777777 Vid. Ep. Æg. 12. Orat. i. §5. 6. de Synod. 15, 16. Athanas. seems to have had in mind Socr. i. 6. p. 10, 11, or the like..”
Now it may serve to make them understand what they are saying, to ask them first this, what in fact a son is, and of what is that name significant778778 Vid. Orat. i. §38. The controversy turned on the question what was meant by the word ‘Son.’ Though the Arians would not allow with the Catholics that our Lord was Son by nature, and maintained that the word implied a beginning of existence, they did not dare to say that He was Son merely in the sense in which we are sons, though, as Athan. contends, they necessarily tended to this conclusion, directly they receded from the Catholic view. Thus Arius said that He was a creature, ‘but not as one of the creatures.’ Orat. ii. §19. Valens at Ariminum said the same, Jerom. adv. Lucifer. 18. Hilary says, that not daring directly to deny that He was God, the Arians merely asked ‘whether He was a Son.’ de Trin. viii. 3. Athanasius remarks upon this reluctance to speak out, challenging them to present ‘the heresy naked,’ de Sent. Dionys. 2. init. ‘No one,’ he says elsewhere, ‘puts a light under a bushel; let them shew the world their heresy naked.’ Ep. Æg. 18. vid. ibid. 10. In like manner, Basil says that (though Arius was really like Eunomius, in faith, contr. Eunom. i. 4) Aetius his master was the first to teach openly (φανερῶς), that the Father’s substance was unlike, ἀνόμοιος, the Son’s. ibid. i. 1. Epiphanius Hær. 76 p. 949. seems to say that the elder Arians held the divine generation in a sense in which Aetius did not, that is, they were not so consistent and definite as he. Athan. goes on to mention some of the attempts of the Arians to find some theory short of orthodoxy, yet short of that extreme heresy, on the other hand, which they felt ashamed to avow.. In truth, Divine Scripture acquaints us with a double sense of this word:—one which Moses sets before us in the Law, ‘When ye shall hearken to the voice of the Lord thy God, to keep all His commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the Lord thy God, ye are children of the Lord your God779779 Deut. xiii. 18; xiv. 1.;’ as also in the Gospel, John says, ‘But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God780780 John. i. 12.:’—and the other sense, that in which Isaac is son of Abraham, and Jacob of Isaac, and the Patriarchs of Jacob. Now in which of these two senses do they understand the Son of God that they relate such fables as the foregoing? for I feel sure they will issue in the same irreligion with Eusebius and his fellows.
If in the first, which belongs to those who gain the name by grace from moral improvement, and receive power to become sons of God (for this is what their predecessors said), then He would seem to differ from us in nothing; no, nor would He be Only-begotten, as having obtained the title of Son as others from His virtue. For granting what they say, that, whereas His qualifications were fore-known781781 Theod. Hist. i. 3., He therefore received grace from the first, the name, and the glory of the name, from His very first beginning, still there will be no difference between Him and those who receive the name after their actions, so long as this is the ground on which He as others has the character of son. For Adam too, though he received grace from the first, and upon his creation was at once placed in paradise, differed in no respect either from Enoch, who was translated thither after some time from his birth on his pleasing God, or from the Apostle, who likewise was caught up to Paradise after his actions; nay, not from him who once was a thief, who on the ground of his confession, received a promise that he should be forthwith in paradise.
7. When thus pressed, they will perhaps make an answer which has brought them into trouble many times already; “We consider that the Son has this prerogative over others, and therefore is called Only-begotten, because He alone was brought to be by God alone, and all other things were created by God through the Son782782 This is celebrated as an explanation of the Anomœans. vid. Basil. contr. Eunom. ii. 20, 21. though Athan. speaks of it as belonging to the elder Arians. vid. Socr. Hist. i. 6..” Now I wonder who it was783783 i.e. what is your authority? is it not a novel, and therefore a wrong doctrine? vid. infr. §13. ad Serap. i. 3. Also Orat. i. §8. ‘Who ever heard such doctrine? or whence or from whom did they hear it? who, when they were under catechising, spoke thus to them? If they themselves confess that they now hear it for the first time, they must grant that their heresy is alien, and not from the Fathers.’ vid. ii. §34. and Socr. i. 6. p. 11 c. that suggested to you so futile and novel an idea as that the Father alone wrought with His own hand the Son alone, and that all other things were brought to be by the Son as by an under-worker. If for the toil’s sake God was content with making the Son only, instead of making all things at once, this is an irreligious thought, especially in those who know the words of Esaias, ‘The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, hungereth not, neither is weary; there is no searching of His understanding784784 Is. xl. 28..’ Rather it is He who gives strength to the hungry, and through His Word refreshes the labouring785785 Ib. 29. Again, it is irreligious to suppose that He disdained, as if a humble task, to form the creatures Himself which came after the Son; for there is no pride in that God, who goes down with Jacob into Egypt, and for Abraham’s sake corrects Abim155elek because of Sara, and speaks face to face with Moses, himself a man, and descends upon Mount Sinai, and by His secret grace fights for the people against Amalek. However, you are false even in this assertion, for ‘He made us, and not we ourselves786786 Ps. c. 3..’ He it is who through His Word made all things small and great, and we may not divide the creation, and says this is the Father’s, and this the Son’s, but they are of one God, who uses His proper Word as a Hand787787 Vid. infr. §17 Orat. ii. §31. 71. Irenæus calls the Son and Holy Spirit the Hands of God. Hær. iv. præf. vid. also Hilar. de Trin. vii. 22. This image is in contrast to that of instrument, ὄργανον, which the Arians would use of the Son. vid. Socr. i. 6. p. 11, as implying He was external to God, whereas the word Hand implies His consubstantiality with the Father., and in Him does all things. This God Himself shews us, when He says, ‘All these things hath My Hand made788788 Is. lxvi. 2.;’ while Paul taught us as he had learned789789 μαθὼν ἐδίδασκεν, implying the traditional nature of the teaching. And so S. Paul himself, 1 Cor. xv. 3, vid. for an illustration, supr. §5. init. also note 2., that ‘There is one God, from whom all things; and one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things790790 1 Cor. viii. 6..’ Thus He, always as now, speaks to the sun and it rises, and commands the clouds and it rains upon one place; and where it does not rain, it is dried up. And He bids the earth yield her fruits, and fashions Jeremias791791 Jer. i. 5. in the womb. But if He now does all this, assuredly at the beginning also He did not disdain to make all things Himself through the Word; for these are but parts of the whole.
8. But let us suppose that the other creatures could not endure to be wrought by the absolute Hand of the Unoriginate792792 Orat. ii. §24. fin. and therefore the Son alone was brought into being by the Father alone, and other things by the Son as an underworker and assistant, for this is what Asterius the sacrificer793793 Vid. infr. 20. Orat. i. §31. ii. §§24, 28. 37. 40. iii. §§2. 60. de Synod §§18. 19. [Prolegg. ch. ii. §3 (2) a.] has written, and Arius has transcribed794794 Vid. also infr. §20. de Synod. §17. and bequeathed to his own friends, and from that time they use this form of words, broken reed as it is, being ignorant, the bewildered men, how brittle it is. For if it was impossible for things originate to bear the hand of God, and you hold the Son to be one of their number, how was He too equal to this formation by God alone? and if a Mediator became necessary that things originate might come to be, and you hold the Son to be originated, then must there have been some medium before Him, for His creation; and that Mediator himself again being a creature, it follows that he too needed another Mediator for his own constitution. And though we were to devise another, we must first devise his Mediator, so that we shall never come to an end. And thus a Mediator being ever in request, never will the creation be constituted, because nothing originate, as you say, can bear the absolute hand of the Unoriginate795795 Vid. infr. §24. Orat. i. §15. fin. ii. §29. Epiph. Hær. 76. p. 951.. And if, on your perceiving the extravagance of this, you begin to say that the Son, though a creature, was made capable of being made by the Unoriginate, then it follows that other things also, though originated, are capable of being wrought immediately by the Unoriginate; for the Son too is but a creature in your judgment, as all of them. And accordingly the origination of the Word is superfluous, according to your irreligious and futile imagination, God being sufficient for the immediate formation of all things, and all things originate being capable of sustaining His absolute hand.
These irreligious men then having so little mind amid their madness, let us see whether this particular sophism be not even more irrational than the others. Adam was created alone by God alone through the Word; yet no one would say that Adam had any prerogative over other men, or was different from those who came after him, granting that he alone was made and fashioned by God alone, and we all spring from Adam, and consist according to succession of the race, so long as he was fashioned from the earth as others, and at first not being, afterwards came to be.
9. But though we were to allow some prerogative to the Protoplast as having been deemed worthy of the hand of God, still it must be one of honour not of nature. For he came of the earth, as other men; and the hand which then fashioned Adam, is also both now and ever fashioning and giving entire consistence to those who come after him. And God Himself declares this to Jeremiah, as I said before; ‘Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee796796 Jer. i. 5.;’ and so He says of all, ‘All those things hath My hand made797797 Is. lxvi. 2.;’ and again by Isaiah, ‘Thus saith the Lord, thy redeemer, and He that formed thee from the womb, I am the Lord that maketh all things; that stretcheth forth the heavens alone; that spreadeth abroad the earth by Myself798798 Ib. xliv. 24..’ And David, knowing this, says in the Psalm, ‘Thy hands have made me and fashioned me799799 Ps. cxix. 73.;’ and he who says in Isaiah, ‘Thus saith the Lord who formed me from the womb to be His servant800800 Is. xlix. 5.,’ signifies the same. Therefore, in respect of nature, he differs nothing from us though he precede us in time, so long as we all consist and are created by the same hand. If then these be your thoughts, O Arians, about 156the Son of God too, that thus He subsists and came to be, then in your judgment He will differ nothing on the score of nature from others, so long as He too was not, and came to be, and the name was by grace united to Him in His creation for His virtue’s sake. For He Himself is one of those, from what you say, of whom the Spirit says in the Psalms, ‘He spake the word, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created801801 Ps. cxlviii. 5 (LXX)..’ If so, who was it by whom God gave command802802 In like manner, ‘Men were made through the Word, when the Father Himself willed.’ Orat. i. 63. ‘The Word forms matter as injoined by, and ministering to, God.’ προσταττόμενος καὶ ὑπουργῶν. ibid. ii. §22. contr. Gent. 46. vid. note on Orat. ii. 22. for the Son’s creation? for a Word there must be by whom God gave command, and in whom the works are created; but you have no other to shew than the Word you deny, unless indeed you should devise again some new notion.
“Yes,” they will say, “we have another;” (which indeed I formerly heard Eusebius and his fellows use), “on this score do we consider that the Son of God has a prerogative over others, and is called Only-begotten, because He alone partakes the Father, and all other things partake the Son.” Thus they weary themselves in changing and in varying their phrases like colours803803 ad Serap. i. 3.; however, this shall not save them from an exposure, as men that are of the earth, speaking vainly, and wallowing in their own conceits as in mire.
10. For if He were called God’s Son, and we the Son’s sons, their fiction were plausible; but if we too are said to be sons of that God, of whom He is Son, then we too partake the Father804804 His argument is, that if the Son but partook the Father in the sense in which we partake the Son, then the Son would not impart to us the Father, but Himself, and would be a separating as well as uniting medium between the Father and us; whereas He brings us so near to the Father, that we are the Father’s children, not His, and therefore He must be Himself one with the Father, or the Father must be in Him with an incomprehensible completeness. vid. de Synod. §51. contr. Gent. 46. fin. Hence S. Augustin says, ‘As the Father has life in Himself, so hath He given also to the Son to have life in Himself, not by participating, but in Himself. For we have not life in ourselves, but in our God. But that Father, who has life in Himself, begat a Son such, as to have life in Himself, not to become partaker of life, but to be Himself life; and of that life to make us partakers.’ Serm. 127. de Verb. Evang. 9., who says, ‘I have begotten and exalted children805805 Is. i. 2..’ For if we did not partake Him, He had not said, ‘I have begotten;’ but if He Himself begat us, no other than He is our Father806806 ‘To say God is wholly partaken, is the same as saying that God begets.’ Orat. i. §16. And in like manner, our inferior participation involves such sonship as is vouchsafed to us.. And, as before, it matters not, whether the Son has something more and was made first, but we something less, and were made afterwards, as long as we all partake, and are called sons, of the same Father807807 And so in Orat. ii. §19–22. ‘Though the Son surpassed other things on a comparison, yet He were equally a creature with them; for even in those things which are of a created nature, we may find some things surpassing others. Star, for instance, differs from star in glory, yet it does not follow that some are sovereign, and others serve, &c.’ ii. §20. And so Gregory Nyssen contr. Eunom. iii. p. 132 D. Epiph. Hær. 76. p. 970.. For the more or less does not indicate a different nature; but attaches to each according to the practice of virtue; and one is placed over ten cities, another over five; and some sit on twelve thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel; and others hear the words, ‘Come, ye blessed of My Father,’ and, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant808808 Matt. xxv. 21, 23, 34..’ With such ideas, however, no wonder they imagine that of such a Son God was not always Father, and such a Son was not always in being, but was generated from nothing as a creature, and was not before His generation; for such an one is other than the True Son of God.
But to persist in such teaching does not consist with piety809809 i.e. since it is impossible they can persist in evasions so manifest as these, nothing is left but to take the other sense of the word., for it is rather the tone of thought of Sadducees and the Samosatene810810 Paul of Samosata [see Prolegg. ch. ii. §3 (2)a.]; it remains then to say that the Son of God is so called according to the other sense, in which Isaac was son of Abraham; for what is naturally begotten from any one and does not accrue to him from without, that in the nature of things is a son, and that is what the name implies811811 The force lies in the word φύσει, ‘naturally,’ which the Council expressed still more definitely by ‘essence.’ Thus Cyril says, ‘the term “Son” denotes the essential origin from the Father.’ Dial. 5. p. 573. And Gregory Nyssen, ‘the title “Son” does not simply express the being from another’ vid. infra. §19.), but relationship according to nature. contr. Eunom. ii. p. 91. Again S. Basil says, that Father is ‘a term of relationship,’ οἰκειώσεως. contr. Eunom. ii. 24. init. And hence he remarks, that we too are properly, κυρίως, sons of God, as becoming related to Him through works of the Spirit. ii. 23. So also Cyril, loc. cit. Elsewhere S. Basil defines father ‘one who gives to another the origin of being according to a nature like his own;’ and a son ‘one who possesses the origin of being from another by generation,’ contr. Eun. ii. 22. On the other hand, the Arians at the first denied that ‘by nature there was any Son of God.’ Theod. H. E. i. 3. p. 732.. Is then the Son’s generation one of human affection? (for this perhaps, as their predecessors812812 vid. Eusebius, in his Letter, supr. p. 73 sq.: also Socr. Hist. i. 8. Epiphan. Hær. 69. n. 8 and 15., they too will be ready to object in their ignorance;)—in no wise; for God is not as man, nor men as God. Men were created of matter, and that passible; but God is immaterial and incorporeal. And if so be the same terms are used of God and man in divine Scripture, yet the clear-sighted, as Paul enjoins, will study it, and thereby discriminate, and dispose of what is written according to the nature of each subject, and avoid any confusion of sense, so as neither to conceive of the things of God in a human way, nor to ascribe the things of man to God813813 One of the characteristic points in Athanasius is his constant attention to the sense of doctrine, or the meaning of writers, in preference to the words used. Thus he scarcely uses the symbol ὁμοούσιον, one in substance, throughout his Orations, and in the de Synod. acknowledges the Semiarians as brethren. Hence infr. §18. he says, that orthodox doctrine ‘is revered by all though expressed in strange language, provided the speaker means religiously, and wishes to convey by it a religious sense.’ vid. also §21. He says, that Catholics are able to ‘speak freely,’ or to expatiate, παρρησιαζόμεθα, ‘out of Divine Scripture.’ Orat. i. §9. vid. de Sent. Dionys. §20. init. Again: ‘The devil spoke from Scripture, but was silenced by the Saviour; Paul spoke from profane writers, yet, being a saint, he has a religious meaning.’ de Syn. §39, also ad Ep. Æg. 8. Again, speaking of the apparent contrariety between two Councils, ‘It were unseemly to make the one conflict with the other, for all their members are fathers; and it were profane to decide that these spoke well and those ill, for all of them have slept in Christ.’ §43. also §47. Again: ‘Not the phrase, but the meaning and the religious life, is the recommendation of the faithful.’ ad Ep. Æg. §9.. 157For this were to mix wine with water814814 vid. Orat. iii. §35, and Isa. i. 22., and to place upon the altar strange fire with that which is divine.
11. For God creates, and to create is also ascribed to men; and God has being, and men are said to be, having received from God this gift also. Yet does God create as men do? or is His being as man’s being? Perish the thought; we understand the terms in one sense of God, and in another of men. For God creates, in that He calls what is not into being, needing nothing thereunto; but men work some existing material, first praying, and so gaining the wit to make, from that God who has framed all things by His proper Word. And again men, being incapable of self-existence, are enclosed in place, and consist in the Word of God; but God is self-existent, enclosing all things, and enclosed by none; within all according to His own goodness and power, yet without all in His proper nature815815 Vid. also Incarn. §17. This contrast is not commonly found in ecclesiastical writers, who are used to say that God is present everywhere, in substance as well as by energy or power. S. Clement, however, expresses himself still more strongly in the same way, ‘In substance far off (for how can the originate come close to the Unoriginate?), but most close in power, in which the universe is embosomed.’ Strom. 2. circ. init. but the parenthesis explains his meaning. Vid. Cyril. Thesaur. 6. p. 44. The common doctrine of the Fathers is, that God is present everywhere in substance. Vid. Petav. de Deo, iii. 8. and 9. It may be remarked, that S. Clement continues ‘neither enclosing nor enclosed.’. As then men create not as God creates, as their being is not such as God’s being, so men’s generation is in one way, and the Son is from the Father in another816816 In Almighty God is the perfection and first pattern of what is seen in shadow in human nature, according to the imperfection of the subject matter; and this remark applies, as to creation, so to generation. Athanasius is led to state this more distinctly in another connection in Orat. i. §21. fin. ‘It belongs to the Godhead alone, that the Father is properly (κυρίως) Father, and the Son properly (κυρίως) Son; and in Them and Them only does it hold that the Father is ever Father, and the Son ever Son.’ Accordingly he proceeds, shortly afterwards, as in the text, to argue, ‘For God does not make men His pattern, but rather we men, for that God is properly and alone truly Father of His own Son, are also called fathers of our own children, for “of Him is every father-hood in heaven and on earth named,”’ §23. The Semiarians at Ancyra quote the same text for the same doctrine. Epiphan. Hær. 73. 5. As do Cyril in Joan. i. p. 24. Thesaur. 32. p. 281. and Damascene de Fid. Orth. i. 8. The same parallel, as existing between creation and generation is insisted on by Isidor. Pel. Ep. iii. 355. Basil contr. Eun. iv. p. 280 A., Cyril Thesaur. 6. p. 43. Epiph. Hær. 69. 36. and Gregor. Naz. Orat. 20. 9. who observes that God creates with a word, Ps. cxlviii. 5, which evidently transcends human creations. Theodorus Abucara, with the same object, draws out the parallel of life, ζωὴ, as Athan. that of being, εἶναι. Opusc. iii. p. 420–422.. For the offspring of men are portions of their fathers, since the very nature of bodies is not uncompounded, but in a state of flux817817 Vid. de Synod. §51. Orat. i. §15, 16. ῥευστὴ. vid. Orat. i. §28. Bas. in Eun. ii. 23. ῥύσιν. Bas. in Eun. ii. 6. Greg. Naz. Orat. 28, 22. Vid. contr. Gentes, §§41, 42; where Athan. without reference to the Arian controversy, draws out the contrast between the Godhead and human nature., and composed of parts; and men lose their substance in begetting, and again they gain substance from the accession of food. And on this account men in their time become fathers of many children; but God, being without parts, is Father of the Son without partition or passion; for there is neither effluence818818 S. Cyril, Dial. iv. init. p. 505 E. speaks of the θρυλλουμένη ἀποῤ& 191·οὴ, and disclaims it, Thesaur. 6. p. 43. Athan. disclaims it, Expos. §1. Orat. i. §21. So does Alexander, ap. Theod. Hist. i. 3. p. 743. On the other hand, Athanasius quotes it in a passage which he adduces from Theognostus, infr. §25. and from Dionysius, de Sent. D. §23. and Origen uses it, Periarchon, i. 2. It is derived from Wisd. vii. 25. of the Immaterial, nor influx from without, as among men; and being uncompounded in nature, He is Father of One Only Son. This is why He is Only-begotten, and alone in the Father’s bosom, and alone is acknowledged by the Father to be from Him, saying, ‘This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased819819 Matt. iii. 17..’ And He too is the Father’s Word, from which may be understood the impassible and impartitive nature of the Father, in that not even a human word is begotten with passion or partition, much less the Word of God820820 The title ‘Word’ implies the ineffable mode of the Son’s generation, as distinct from material parallels, vid. Gregory Nyssen, contr. Eunom. iii. p. 107. Chrysostom in Joan. Hom. 2. §4. Cyril Alex. Thesaur. 5. p. 37. Also it implies that there is but One Son. vid. infr. §16. ‘As the Origin is one essence, so its Word and Wisdom is one, essential and subsisting.’ Orat. iv. 1. fin.. Wherefore also He sits, as Word, at the Father’s right hand; for where the Father is, there also is His Word; but we, as His works, stand in judgment before Him; and, while He is adored, because He is Son of the adorable Father, we adore, confessing Him Lord and God, because we are creatures and other than He.
12. The case being thus, let who will among them consider the matter, so that one may abash them by the following question; Is it right to say that what is God’s offspring and proper to Him is out of nothing? or is it reasonable in the very idea, that what is from God has accrued to Him, that a man should dare to say that the Son is not always? For in this again the generation of the Son exceeds and transcends the thoughts of man, that we become fathers of our own children in time, since we ourselves first were not and then came into being; but God, in that He ever is, is ever Father of the Son821821 ‘Man,’ says S. Cyril, ‘inasmuch as he had a beginning of being, also has of necessity a beginning of begetting, as what is from him is a thing generate, but.…if God’s essence transcend time, or origin, or interval, His generation too will transcend these; nor does it deprive the Divine Nature of the power of generating, that it doth not this in time. For other than human is the manner of divine generation; and together with God’s existing is His generating implied, and the Son was in Him by generation, nor did His generation precede His existence, but He was always, and that by generation.’ Thesaur. v. p. 35.. And the origination 158of mankind is brought home to us from things that are parallel; but, since ‘no one knoweth the Son but the Father, and no one knoweth the Father but the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him822822 Matt. xi. 27.,’ therefore the sacred writers to whom the Son has revealed Him, have given us a certain image from things visible, saying, ‘Who is the brightness of His glory, and the Expression of His Person823823 Heb. i. 3.;’ and again, ‘For with Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light shall we see light824824 Ps. xxxvi. 9.;’ and when the Word chides Israel, He says, ‘Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of wisdom825825 Bar. iii. 12.;’ and this Fountain it is which says, ‘They have forsaken Me the Fountain of living waters826826 Jer. ii. 13. Vid. infr. passim. All these titles, ‘Word, Wisdom, Light’ &c., serve to guard the title ‘Son’ from any notions of parts or dimensions, e.g. ‘He is not composed of parts, but being impassible and single, He is impassibly and indivisibly Father of the Son…for…the Word and Wisdom is neither creature, nor part of Him Whose Word He is, nor an offspring passibly begotten.’ Orat. i. §28..’ And mean indeed and very dim is the illustration827827 Ad Serap. 20. compared with what we desiderate; but yet it is possible from it to understand something above man’s nature, instead of thinking the Son’s generation to be on a level with ours. For who can even imagine that the radiance of light ever was not, so that he should dare to say that the Son was not always, or that the Son was not before His generation? or who is capable of separating the radiance from the sun, or to conceive of the fountain as ever void of life, that he should madly say, ‘The Son is from nothing,’ who says, ‘I am the life828828 John xiv. 6.,’ or ‘alien to the Father’s essence,’ who, says, ‘He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father829829 Ib. 9?’ for the sacred writers wishing us thus to understand, have given these illustrations; and it is unseemly and most irreligious, when Scripture contains such images, to form ideas concerning our Lord from others which are neither in Scripture, nor have any religious bearing.
13. Therefore let them tell us, from what teacher or by what tradition they derived these notions concerning the Saviour? “We have read,” they will say, “in the Proverbs, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways unto His works830830 Prov. viii. 22, and cf. Orat. ii. throughout.;’” this Eusebius and his fellows used to insist on831831 Eusebius of Nicomedia quotes it in his Letter to Paulinus, ap. Theodor. Hist. i. 5. And Eusebius of Cæsarea, Demonstr. Evang. v. 1., and you write me word, that the present men also, though overthrown and confuted by an abundance of arguments, still were putting about in every quarter this passage, and saying that the Son was one of the creatures, and reckoning Him with things originated. But they seem to me to have a wrong understanding of this passage also; for it has a religious and very orthodox sense, which had they understood, they would not have blasphemed the Lord of glory. For on comparing what has been above stated with this passage, they will find a great difference between them832832 i.e. ‘Granting that the primâ facie impression of this text is in favour of our Lord’s being a creature, yet so many arguments have been already brought, and may be added, against His creation, that we must interpret this text by them. It cannot mean that our Lord was simply created, because we have already shewn that He is not external to His Father.’. For what man of right understanding does not perceive, that what are created and made are external to the maker; but the Son, as the foregoing argument has shewn, exists not externally, but from the Father who begat Him? for man too both builds a house and begets a son, and no one would reverse things, and say that the house or the ship were begotten by the builder833833 Serap. 2, 6. Sent. Dion. §4., but the son was created and made by him; nor again that the house was an image of the maker, but the son unlike him who begat him; but rather he will confess that the son is an image of the father, but the house a work of art, unless his mind be disordered, and he beside himself. Plainly, divine Scripture, which knows better than any the nature of everything, says through Moses, of the creatures, ‘In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth834834 Gen. i. 1.;’ but of the Son it introduces not another, but the Father Himself saying, ‘I have begotten Thee from the womb before the morning star835835 Ps. cx. 3.;’ and again, ‘Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee836836 Ps. ii. 7..’ And the Lord says of Himself in the Proverbs, ‘Before all the hills He begets me837837 Prov. viii. 25.;’ and concerning things originated and created John speaks, ‘All things were made by Him838838 John i. 3.;’ but preaching of the Lord, he says, ‘The Only-begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He declared Him839839 Ib. 18.’ If then son, therefore not creature; if creature, not son; for great is the difference between them, and son and creature cannot be the same, unless His essence be considered to be at once from God, and external to God.
14. ‘Has then the passage no meaning?’ for this, like a swarm of gnats, they are droning about us840840 περιβομβοῦσιν. So in ad Afros. 5. init. And Sent. D. §19. περιέρχονται περιβομβοῦντες. And Gregory Nyssen. contr. Eun. viii. p. 234 C. ὡς ἂν τοὺς ἀπείρους ταῖς πλατωνικαῖς καλλιφωνίαι περιβομβήσειεν. vid. also περιέρχονται ὡς οἱ κάνθαροι. Orat. iii. fin.. No surely, it is not without meaning, but has a very apposite one; for it is true to say that the Son was created too, but this took place when He became man; for creation 159belongs to man. And any one may find this sense duly given in the divine oracles, who, instead of accounting their study a secondary matter, investigates the time and characters841841 πρόσωπα. vid. Orat. i. §54. ii. §8. Sent. D. 4. not persons, but characters; which must also be considered the meaning of the word, contr. Apoll. ii. 2. and 10; though it there approximates (even in phrase, οὐκ ἐν διαιρέσεῖ προσώπων) to its ecclesiastical use, which seems to have been later. Yet persona occurs in Tertull. in Prax. 27; it may be questioned, however, whether in any genuine Greek treatise till the Apollinarians., and the object, and thus studies and ponders what he reads. Now as to the season spoken of, he will find for certain that, whereas the Lord always is, at length in fulness of the ages He became man; and whereas He is Son of God, He became Son of man also. And as to the object he will understand, that, wishing to annul our death, He took on Himself a body from the Virgin Mary; that by offering this unto the Father a sacrifice for all, He might deliver us all, who by fear of death were all our life through subject to bondage842842 Heb. ii. 15.. And as to the character, it is indeed the Saviour’s, but is said of Him when He took a body and said, ‘The Lord created me a beginning of His ways unto His works843843 Prov. viii. 22..’ For as it properly belongs to God’s Son to be everlasting. and in the Father’s bosom, so on His becoming man, the words befitted Him, ‘The Lord created me.’ For then it is said of Him, as also that He hungered, and thirsted, and asked where Lazarus lay, and suffered, and rose again844844 Sent. D. 9. Orat. 3, §§26–41.. And as, when we hear of Him as Lord and God and true Light, we understand Him as being from the Father, so on hearing, ‘The Lord created,’ and ‘Servant,’ and ‘He suffered,’ we shall justly ascribe this, not to the Godhead, for it is irrelevant, but we must interpret it by that flesh which He bore for our sakes: for to it these things are proper, and this flesh was none other’s than the Word’s. And if we wish to know the object attained by this, we shall find it to be as follows: that the Word was made flesh in order to offer up this body for all, and that we partaking of His Spirit, might be deified845845 [See de Incar. §54. 3, and note.], a gift which we could not otherwise have gained than by His clothing Himself in our created body846846 Orat. 2, §70., for hence we derive our name of “men of God” and “men in Christ.” But as we, by receiving the Spirit, do not lose our own proper substance, so the Lord, when made man for us, and bearing a body, was no less God; for He was not lessened by the envelopment of the body, but rather deified it and rendered it immortal847847 Cf. Orat. ii. 6. [See also de Incar. §17.].
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