« Prev That the Son is Eternal and Increate. These… Next »

Chapter IV.—That the Son is Eternal and Increate. These attributes, being the points in dispute, are first proved by direct texts of Scripture. Concerning the ‘eternal power’ of God in Rom. i. 20, which is shewn to mean the Son. Remarks on the Arian formula, ‘Once the Son was not,’ its supporters not daring to speak of ‘a time when the Son was not.’

11. At his suggestion then ye have maintained and ye think, that ‘there was once when the Son was not;’ this is the first cloke of your views of doctrine which has to be stripped off. Say then what was once when the Son was not, O slanderous and irreligious men18811881    Athan. observes that this formula of the Arians is a mere evasion to escape using the word ‘time.’ vid. also Cyril. Thesaur. iv. pp. 19, 20. Else let them explain,—‘There was,’ what ‘when the Son was not?’ or what was before the Son? since He Himself was before all times and ages, which He created, de Decr. 18, note 5. Thus, if ‘when’ be a word of time, He it is who was ‘when’ He was not, which is absurd. Did they mean, however, that it was the Father who ‘was’ before the Son? This was true, if ‘before’ was taken, not to imply time, but origination or beginning. And in this sense the first verse of S. John’s Gospel may be interpreted ‘In the Beginning,’ or Origin, i.e. in the Father ‘was the Word.’ Thus Athan. himself understands that text, Orat. iv. §1. vid. also Orat. iii. §9; Nyssen. contr. Eunom. iii. p. 106; Cyril. Thesaur. 32. p. 312.? If ye say the Father, your blasphemy is but greater; for it is impious to say that He was ‘once,’ or to signify Him by the word ‘once.’ For He is ever, and is now, and as the Son is, so is He, and is Himself He that is, and Father of the Son. But if ye say that the Son was once, when He Himself was not, the answer is foolish and unmeaning. For how could He both be and not be? In this difficulty, you can but answer, that there was a time when the Word was not; for your very adverb ‘once’ naturally signifies this. And your other, ‘The Son was not before His generation,’ is equivalent to saying, ‘There was once when He was not,’ for both the one and the other signify that there is a time before the Word. Whence then this your discovery? Why do ye, as ‘the heathen, rage, and imagine vain phrases against the Lord18821882    Ps. ii. 1. and against His Christ?’ for no holy Scripture has used such language of the Saviour, but rather ‘always’ and ‘eternal’ and ‘coexistent always with the Father.’ For, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God18831883    John i. 1..’ And in the Apocalypse he thus speaks18841884    Rev. i. 4. τάδε λέγει. [On λέγει, &c., in citations, see Lightf. on Gal. iii. 16, Winer, Gram. §58, 9 γ, Grimm-Thayer, s.v. II. 1. e.]; ‘Who is and who was and who is to come.’ Now who can rob ‘who is’ and ‘who was’ of eternity? This too in confutation of the Jews hath Paul written in his Epistle to the Romans, ‘Of whom as concerning the flesh is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever18851885    Rom. ix. 5.;’ while silencing the Greeks, he has said, ‘The visible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead18861886    Ib. i. 20.;’ and what the Power of God is, he teaches us elsewhere himself, ‘Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God18871887    1 Cor. i. 24. Athan. has so interpreted this text supr. de Decr. 15. It was either a received interpretation, or had been adduced at Nicæa, for Asterius had some years before these Discourses replied to it, vid. de Syn. 18, and Orat. ii. §37..’ Surely in these words he does not designate the Father, as ye often whisper one to another, affirming that the Father is ‘His eternal power.’ This is not so; for he says not, ‘God Himself is the power,’ but ‘His is the power.’ Very plain is it to all that ‘His’ is not ‘He;’ yet not something alien but rather proper to Him. Study too the context and ‘turn to the Lord;’ now ‘the Lord is that Spirit18881888    2 Cor. iii. 16, 17. S. Athanasius observes, Serap. i. 4–7, that the Holy Ghost is never in Scripture called simply ‘Spirit’ without the addition ‘of God’ or ‘of the Father’ or ‘from Me’ or of the article, or of ‘Holy,’ or ‘Comforter,’ or ‘of truth,’ or unless He has been spoken of just before. Accordingly this text is understood of the third Person in the Holy Trinity by Origen, contr. Cels. vi. 70; Basil de Sp. S. n. 32; Pseudo-Athan. de comm. ess. 6. On the other hand, the word πνεῦμα, ‘Spirit, is used more or less distinctly for our Lord’s Divine Nature whether in itself or as incarnate, in Rom. i. 4, 1 Cor. xv. 45, 1 Tim. iii. 16, Hebr. ix. 14, 1 Pet. iii. 18, John vi. 63, &c. [But cf. also Milligan Resurr. 238 sq.] Indeed the early Fathers speak as if the ‘Holy Spirit,’ which came down upon S. Mary might be considered the Word. E.g. Tertullian against the Valentinians, ‘If the Spirit of God did not descend into the womb “to partake in flesh from the womb,” why did He descend at all?’ de Carn. Chr. 19. vid. also ibid. 5 and 14. contr. Prax. 26, Just. Apol. i. 33. Iren. Hær. v. 1. Cypr. Idol Van. 6. Lactant. Instit. iv. 12. vid. also Hilar. Trin. ii. 27; Athan. λόγος ἐν τῷ πνεύματι ἔπλαττε τὸ σῶμα. Serap. i. 31 fin. ἐν τῷ λόγῳ ἦν τὸ πνεῦμα ibid. iii. 6. And more distinctly even as late as S. Maximus, αὐτὸν ἀντὶ σπορᾶς συλλαβοῦσα τὸν λόγον, κεκύηκε, t. 2. p. 309. The earliest ecclesiastical authorities are S. Ignatius ad Smyrn. init. and S. Hermas (even though his date were a.d. 150), who also says plainly: Filius autem Spiritus Sanctus est. Sim. v. 5, 2, cf. ix. 1. The same use of ‘Spirit’ for the Word or Godhead of the Word, is also found in Tatian. adv. Græc. 7. Athenag. Leg. 10. Theoph. ad Autol. ii. 10. Iren. Hær. iv. 36. Tertull. Apol. 23. Lact. Inst. iv. 6, 8. Hilar. Trin. ix. 3, and 14. Eustath. apud Theod. Eran. iii. p. 235. Athan. contr. Apoll. i. 8. Apollinar. ap. Theod. Eran. i. p. 71, and the Apollinarists passim. Greg. Naz. Ep. 101. ad Cledon. p. 85. Ambros. Incarn. 63. Severian. ap. Theod. Eran. ii. p. 167. Vid. Grot. ad Marc. ii. 8; Bull, Def. F. N. i. 2, §5; Coustant. Præf. in Hilar. 57, &c. Montfaucon in Athan. Serap. iv. 19. [see also Tertullian, de Orat. init.];’and you will see that it is the Son who is signified.

31312. For after making mention of the creation, he naturally speaks of the Framer’s Power as seen in it, which Power, I say, is the Word of God, by whom all things have been made. If indeed the creation is sufficient of itself alone, without the Son, to make God known, see that you fall not, from thinking that without the Son it has come to be. But if through the Son it has come to be, and ‘in Him all things consist18891889    Col. i. 17.,’ it must follow that he who contemplates the creation rightly, is contemplating also the Word who framed it, and through Him begins to apprehend the Father18901890    Vid. contr. Gent. 45–47.. And if, as the Saviour also says, ‘No one knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him18911891    Matt. xi. 27.,’ and if on Philip’s asking, ‘Shew us the Father,’ He said not, ‘Behold the creation,’ but, ‘He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father18921892    John xiv. 8, 9.,’ reasonably doth Paul,—while accusing the Greeks of contemplating the harmony and order of the creation without reflecting on the Framing Word within it (for the creatures witness to their own Framer) so as through the creation to apprehend the true God, and abandon their worship of it,—reasonably hath he said, ‘His Eternal Power and Godhead18931893    Rom. i. 20.,’ thereby signifying the Son. And where the sacred writers say, ‘Who exists before the ages,’ and ‘By whom He made the ages18941894    Heb. i. 2.,’ they thereby as clearly preach the eternal and everlasting being of the Son, even while they are designating God Himself. Thus, if Isaiah says, ‘The Everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth18951895    Is. xl. 28.;’ and Susanna said, ‘O Everlasting God18961896    Hist. Sus. 42.;’ and Baruch wrote, ‘I will cry unto the Everlasting in my days,’ and shortly after, ‘My hope is in the Everlasting, that He will save you, and joy is come unto me from the Holy One18971897    Bar. iv. 20, 22.;’ yet forasmuch as the Apostle, writing to the Hebrews, says, ‘Who being the radiance of His glory and the Expression of His Person18981898    Heb. i. 3.;’ and David too in the eighty-ninth Psalm, ‘And the brightness of the Lord be upon us,’ and, ‘In Thy Light shall we see Light18991899    Ps. xc. 17; xxxvi. 9.,’ who has so little sense as to doubt of the eternity of the Son19001900    de Decr. 12, 27.? for when did man see light without the brightness of its radiance, that he may say of the Son, ‘There was once, when He was not,’ or ‘Before His generation He was not.’ And the words addressed to the Son in the hundred and forty-fourth Psalm, ‘Thy kingdom is a kingdom of all ages19011901    Ps. cxlv. 13.,’ forbid any one to imagine any interval at all in which the Word did not exist. For if every interval in the ages is measured, and of all the ages the Word is King and Maker, therefore, whereas no interval at all exists prior to Him19021902    Vid. de Decr. 18, note 5. The subject is treated at length in Greg. Nyss. contr. Eunom. i. t. 2. Append. p. 93–101. vid. also Ambros. de Fid. i. 8–11. As time measures the material creation, ‘ages’ were considered to measure the immaterial, as the duration of Angels. This had been a philosophical distinction, Timæus says εἰκών ἐστι χρόνος τῷ ἀγεννάτῳ χρόνῳ, ὃν αἰωνα ποταγορεύομες. vid. also Philon. Quod Deus Immut. 6. Euseb. Laud. C. 1 prope fin., p. 501. Naz. Or. 38. 8., it were madness to say, ‘There was once when the Everlasting was not,’ and ‘From nothing is the Son.’ And whereas the Lord Himself says, ‘I am the Truth19031903    John xiv. 6; x. 14; viii. 12; xiii. 13,’ not ‘I became the Truth;’ but always, ‘I am,—I am the Shepherd,—I am the Light,’—and again, ‘Call ye Me not, Lord and Master? and ye call Me well, for so I am,’ who, hearing such language from God, and the Wisdom, and Word of the Father, speaking of Himself, will any longer hesitate about the truth, and not forthwith believe that in the phrase ‘I am,’ is signified that the Son is eternal and without beginning?

13. It is plain then from the above that the Scriptures declare the Son’s eternity; it is equally plain from what follows that the Arian phrases ‘He was not,’ and ‘before’ and ‘when,’ are in the same Scriptures predicated of creatures. Moses, for instance, in his account of the generation of our system, says, ‘And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground19041904    Gen. ii. 5..’ And in Deuteronomy, ‘When the Most High divided to the nations19051905    Deut. xxxii. 8..’ And the Lord said in His own Person, ‘If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice 314because I said, I go unto the Father, for My Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe19061906    John xiv. 28, 29..’ And concerning the creation He says by Solomon, ‘Or ever the earth was, when there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth19071907    Prov. viii. 23..’ And, ‘Before Abraham was, I am19081908    John viii. 58..’ And concerning Jeremiah He says, ‘Before I formed thee in the womb, I knew thee19091909    Jer. i. 5..’ And David in the Psalm says, ‘Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, Thou art, God from everlasting and world without end19101910    Ps. xc. 2..’ And in Daniel, ‘Susanna cried out with a loud voice and said, O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they be19111911    Hist. Sus. 42..’ Thus it appears that the phrases ‘once was not,’ and ‘before it came to be,’ and ‘when,’ and the like, belong to things originate and creatures, which come out of nothing, but are alien to the Word. But if such terms are used in Scripture of things originate, but ‘ever’ of the Word, it follows, O ye enemies of God, that the Son did not come out of nothing, nor is in the number of originated things at all, but is the Father’s Image and Word eternal, never having not been, but being ever, as the eternal Radiance19121912    de Decr. 23, note 4. of a Light which is eternal. Why imagine then times before the Son? or wherefore blaspheme the Word as after times, by whom even the ages were made? for how did time or age at all subsist when the Word, as you say, had not appeared, ‘through’ whom ‘all things have been made and without’ whom ‘not one thing was made19131913    John i. 3.?’ Or why, when you mean time, do you not plainly say, ‘a time was when the Word was not?’ But while you drop the word ‘time’ to deceive the simple, you do not at all conceal your own feeling, nor, even if you did, could you escape discovery. For you still simply mean times, when you say, ‘There was when He was not,’ and ‘He was not before His generation.’


« Prev That the Son is Eternal and Increate. These… Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version





Advertisements



| Define | Popups: Login | Register | Prev Next | Help |