« Prev Objections Continued. Whether we may decide the… Next »

Chapter VIII.—Objections Continued. Whether we may decide the question by the parallel of human sons, which are born later than their parents. No, for the force of the analogy lies in the idea of connaturality. Time is not involved in the idea of Son, but is adventitious to it, and does not attach to God, because He is without parts and passions. The titles Word and Wisdom guard our thoughts of Him and His Son from this misconception. God not a Father, as a Creator, in posse from eternity, because creation does not relate to the essence of God, as generation does.

26. (continued). Nor is answer needful to their other very simple and foolish inquiry, which they put to silly women; or none besides that which has been already given, namely, that it is not suitable to measure divine generation by the nature of men. However, that as before they may pass judgment on themselves, it is well to meet them on the same ground, thus:—Plainly, if they inquire of parents concerning their son, let them consider whence is the child which is begotten. For, granting 322the parent had not a son before his begetting, still, after having him, he had him, not as external or as foreign, but as from himself, and proper to his essence and his exact image, so that the former is beheld in the latter, and the latter is contemplated in the former. If then they assume from human examples that generation implies time, why not from the same infer that it implies the Natural and the Proper19831983    Supr. de Decr. 6. The question was, What was that sense of Son which would apply to the Divine Nature? The Catholics said that its essential meaning could apply, viz. consubstantiality, whereas the point of posteriority to the Father depended on a condition, time, which could not exist in the instance of God. ib. 10. The Arians on the other hand said, that to suppose a true Son, was to think of God irreverently, as implying division, change, &c. The Catholics replied that the notion of materiality was quite as foreign from the Divine Essence as time, and as the Divine Sonship was eternal, so was it also clear both of imperfection or extension., instead of extracting serpent-like from the earth only what turns to poison? Those who ask of parents, and say, ‘Had you a son before you begot him?’ should add, ‘And if you had a son, did you purchase him from without as a house or any other possession?’ And then you would be answered, ‘He is not from without, but from myself. For things which are from without are possessions, and pass from one to another; but my son is from me, proper and similar to my essence, not become mine from another, but begotten of me; wherefore I too am wholly in him, while I remain myself what I am19841984    It is from expressions such as this that the Greek Fathers have been accused of tritheism. The truth is, every illustration, as being incomplete on one or other side of it, taken by itself, tends to heresy. The title Son by itself suggests a second God, as the title Word a mere attribute, and the title Instrument a creature. All heresies are partial views of the truth, and are wrong, not so much in what they say, as in what they deny. The truth, on the other hand, is a positive and comprehensive doctrine, and in consequence necessarily mysterious and open to misconception. vid. de Syn. 41, note 1. When Athan, implies that the Eternal Father is in the Son, though remaining what He is, as a man in his child, he is intent only upon the point of the Son’s connaturality and equality, which the Arians denied. Cf. Orat. iii. §5; Ps.-Ath. Dial. i. (Migne xxviii. 1144 C.). S. Cyril even seems to deny that each individual man may be considered a separate substance except as the Three Persons are such (Dial. i. p. 409); and S. Gregory Nyssen is led to say that, strictly speaking, the abstract man, which is predicated of separate individuals, is still one, and this with a view of illustrating the Divine Unity. ad Ablab. t. 2. p. 449. vid. Petav. de Trin. iv. 9..’ For so it is; though the parent be distinct in time, as being man, who himself has come to be in time, yet he too would have had his child ever coexistent with him, but that his nature was a restraint and made it impossible. For Levi too was already in the loins of his great-grandfather, before his own actual generation, or that of his grandfather. When then the man comes to that age at which nature supplies the power, immediately, with nature, unrestrained, he becomes father of the son from himself.

27. Therefore, if on asking parents about children, they get for answer, that children which are by nature are not from without, but from their parents, let them confess in like manner concerning the Word of God, that He is simply from the Father. And if they make a question of the time, let them say what is to restrain God—for it is necessary to prove their irreligion on the very ground on which their scoff is made—let them tell us, what is there to restrain God from being always Father of the Son; for that what is begotten must be from its father is undeniable. Moreover, they will pass judgment on themselves in attributing19851985    [But see Or. iii. 65, note 2.] such things to God, if, as they questioned women on the subject of time, so they inquire of the sun concerning its radiance, and of the fountain concerning its issue. They will find that these, though an offspring, always exist with those things from which they are. And if parents, such as these, have in common with their children nature and duration, why, if they suppose God inferior to things that come to be19861986    S. Athanasius’s doctrine is, that, God containing in Himself all perfection, whatever is excellent in one created thing above another, is found in its perfection in Him. If then such generation as radiance from light is more perfect than that of children from parents, that belongs, and transcendently, to the All-perfect God., do they not openly say out their own irreligion? But if they do not dare to say this openly, and the Son is confessed to be, not from without, but a natural offspring from the Father, and that there is nothing which is a restraint to God (for not as man is He, but more than the sun, or rather the God of the sun), it follows that the Word is from Him and is ever co-existent with Him, through whom also the Father caused that all things which were not should be. That then the Son comes not of nothing but is eternal and from the Father, is certain even from the nature of the case; and the question of the heretics to parents exposes their perverseness; for they confess the point of nature, and now have been put to shame on the point of time.

28. As we said above, so now we repeat, that the divine generation must not be compared to the nature of men, nor the Son considered to be part of God, nor the generation to imply any passion whatever; God is not as man; for men beget passibly, having a transitive nature, which waits for periods by reason of its weakness. But with God this cannot be; for He is not composed of parts, but being impassible and simple, He is impassibly and indivisibly Father of the Son. This again is strongly evidenced and proved by divine Scripture. For the Word of God is His Son, and the Son is the Father’s Word and Wisdom; and Word and Wisdom is neither creature nor part of Him whose Word He is, nor an offspring passibly begotten. Uniting then the two titles, Scripture speaks 323of ‘Son,’ in order to herald the natural and true offspring of His essence; and, on the other hand, that none may think of the Offspring humanly, while signifying His essence, it also calls Him Word, Wisdom, and Radiance; to teach us that the generation was impassible, and eternal, and worthy of God.19871987    This is a view familiar to the Fathers, viz. that in this consists our Lord’s Sonship, that He is the Word, or as S. Augustine says, Christum ideo Filium quia Verbum. Aug. Ep. 120. 11. Cf. de Decr. §17. ‘If I speak of Wisdom, I speak of His offspring;’ Theoph. ad Autolyc. i. 3. ‘The Word, the genuine Son of Mind;’ Clem. Protrept. p. 58. Petavius discusses this subject accurately with reference to the distinction between Divine Generation and Divine Procession. de Trin. vii. 14. What affection then, or what part of the Father is the Word and the Wisdom and the Radiance? So much may be impressed even on these men of folly; for as they asked women concerning God’s Son, so19881988    Orat. iii. 67. let them inquire of men concerning the Word, and they will find that the word which they put forth is neither an affection of them nor a part of their mind. But if such be the word of men, who are passible and partitive, why speculate they about passions and parts in the instance of the immaterial and indivisible God, that under pretence of reverence19891989    Heretics have frequently assigned reverence as the cause of their opposition to the Church; and if even Arius affected it, the plea may be expected in any other. ‘O stultos et impios metus,’ says S. Hilary, ‘et irreligiosam de Deo sollicitudinem.’ de Trin. iv. 6. It was still more commonly professed in regard to the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation. Cf. Acta Archelai [Routh. Rell. v. 169]. August. contr. Secund. 9, contr. Faust. xi. 3. As the Manichees denied our Lord a body, so the Apollinarians denied Him a rational soul, still under pretence of reverence because, as they said, the soul was necessarily sinful. Leontius makes this their main argument, ὁ νοῦς ἁμαρτητικός ἐστι. de Sect. iv. p. 507. vid. also Greg. Naz. Ep. 101. ad Cledon. p. 89; Athan. in Apoll. i. 2. 14. Epiph. Ancor. 79. 80. Athan., &c., call the Apollinarian doctrine Manichæan in consequence. vid. in Apoll. ii. 8. 9. &c. Again, the Eranistes in Theodoret, who advocates a similar doctrine, will not call our Lord man. Eranist. ii. p. 83. Eutyches, on the other hand, would call our Lord man, but refused to admit His human nature, and still with the same profession. Leon. Ep. 21. 1 fin. ‘Forbid it,’ he says at Constantinople, ‘that I should say that the Christ was of two natures, or should discuss the nature, φυσιολογεῖν, of my God.’ Concil. t. 2. p. 157 [Act. prima conc. Chalc. t. iv. 1001 ed. Col.] A modern argument for Universal Restitution takes a like form; ‘Do not we shrink from the notion of another’s being sentenced to eternal punishment; and are we more merciful than God?’ vid. Matt. xvi. 22, 23. they may deny the true and natural generation of the Son? Enough was said above to shew that the offspring from God is not an affection; and now it has been shewn in particular that the Word is not begotten according to affection. The same may be said of Wisdom; God is not as man; nor must they here think humanly of Him. For, whereas men are capable of wisdom, God partakes in nothing, but is Himself the Father of His own Wisdom, of which whoso partake are given the name of wise. And this Wisdom too is not a passion, nor a part, but an Offspring proper to the Father. Wherefore He is ever Father, nor is the character of Father adventitious to God, lest He seem alterable; for if it is good that He be Father, but has not ever been Father, then good has not ever been in Him.

29. But, observe, say they, God was always a Maker, nor is the power of framing adventitious to Him; does it follow then, that, because He is the Framer of all, therefore His works also are eternal, and is it wicked to say of them too, that they were not before origination? Senseless are these Arians; for what likeness is there between Son and work, that they should parallel a father’s with a maker’s function? How is it that, with that difference between offspring and work, which has been shewn, they remain so ill-instructed? Let it be repeated then, that a work is external to the nature, but a son is the proper offspring of the essence; it follows that a work need not have been always, for the workman frames it when he will; but an offspring is not subject to will, but is proper to the essence19901990    Vid. Orat. iii. §59, &c.. And a man may be and may be called Maker, though the works are not as yet; but father he cannot be called, nor can he be, unless a son exist. And if they curiously inquire why God, though always with the power to make, does not always make (though this also be the presumption of madmen, for ‘who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His Counsellor?’ or how ‘shall the thing formed say to’ the potter, ‘why didst thou make me thus19911991    Rom. xi. 34; ib. ix. 20.?’ however, not to leave even a weak argument unnoticed), they must be told, that although God always had the power to make, yet the things originated had not the power of being eternal19921992    Athan.’s argument is as follows: that, as it is of the essence of a son to be ‘connatural’ with the father, so is it of the essence of a creature to be of ‘nothing,’ ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων; therefore, while it was not impossible ‘from the nature of the case,’ for Almighty God to be always Father, it was impossible for the same reason that He should be always a Creator. vid. infr. §58: where he takes, ‘They shall perish,’ in the Psalm, not as a fact but as the definition of the nature of a creature. Also ii. §1, where he says, ‘It is proper to creatures and works to have said of them, ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων and οὐκ ἦν πρὶν γεννηθῇ.’ vid. Cyril. Thesaur. 9. p. 67. Dial. ii. p. 460. on the question of being a Creator in posse, vid. supra, Ep. Eus. 11 note 3.. For they are out of nothing, and therefore were not before their origination; but things which were not before their origination, how could these coexist with the ever-existing God? Wherefore God, looking to what was good for them, then made them all when He saw that, when originated, they were able to abide. And as, though He was able, even from the beginning in the time of Adam, or Noah, or Moses, to send His own Word, yet He sent Him not until the consummation of the ages (for this He saw to be good for the whole creation), so also things originated did He make when He would, and as was good for them. But the Son, not being 324a work, but proper to the Father’s offspring, always is; for, whereas the Father always is, so what is proper to His essence must always be; and this is His Word and His Wisdom. And that creatures should not be in existence, does not disparage the Maker; for He hath the power of framing them, when He wills; but for the offspring not to be ever with the Father, is a disparagement of the perfection of His essence. Wherefore His works were framed, when He would, through His Word; but the Son is ever the proper offspring of the Father’s essence.

« Prev Objections Continued. Whether we may decide the… Next »
Please login or register to save highlights and make annotations
Corrections disabled for this book
Proofing disabled for this book
Printer-friendly version


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