|« Prev||Book IV||Next »|
1. The earlier books of this treatise, written some time ago, contain, I think, an invincible proof that we hold and profess the faith in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is taught by the Evangelists and Apostles, and that no commerce is possible between us and the heretics, inasmuch as they deny unconditionally, irrationally, and recklessly, the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet certain points remained which I have felt myself bound to include in this and the following books, in order to make our assurance of the faith even more certain by exposure of every one of their falsehoods and blasphemies. Accordingly, we will enquire first what are the dangers of their teaching, the risks involved by such irreverence; next, what principles they hold, and what arguments they advance against the apostolic faith to which we adhere, and by what sleight of language they impose upon the candour of their hearers; and lastly, by what method of comment they disarm the words of Scripture of their force and meaning.
2. We are well aware that neither the speech of men nor the analogy of human nature can give us a full insight into the things of God. The ineffable cannot submit to the bounds and limits of definition; that which is spiritual is distinct from every class or instance of bodily things. Yet, since our subject is that of heavenly natures, we must employ ordinary natures and ordinary speech as our means of expressing what our mind apprehends; a means no doubt unworthy of the majesty of God, but forced upon us by feebleness of our intellect, which can use only our own circumstances and our own words to convey to others our perceptions and our conclusions. This truth has been enforced already in the first book656656 § 19., but is now repeated in order that, in any analogies from human affairs which we adduce, we may not be supposed to think of God as resembling embodied natures, or to compare spiritual Beings with our passible selves, but rather be regarded as advancing the outward appearance of visible things as a clue to the inward meaning of things invisible.
3. For the heretics say that Christ is not from God, that is, that the Son is not born from the Father, and is God not by nature but by appointment; in other words, that He has received an adoption which consists in the giving of a name, being God’s Son in the sense in which many are sons of God; again, that Christ’s majesty is an evidence of God’s widespread bounty, He being God in the sense in which there are gods many; although they admit that in His adoption and naming as God a more liberal affection than in other cases was shewn, His adoption being the first in order of time, and He greater than other adopted sons, and first in rank among the creatures because of the greater splendour which accompanied His creation. Some add, by way of confessing the omnipotence of God, that He was created into God’s likeness, and that it was out of nothing that He, like other creatures, was raised up to be the Image of the eternal Creator, bidden at a word to spring from non-existence into being by the power of God, Who can frame out of nothing the likeness of Himself.
4. Moreover, they use their knowledge of the historical fact that bishops of a former time have taught that Father and Son are of one substance, to subvert the truth by the ingenious plea that this is a heretical notion. They say that this term ‘of one substance,’ in the Greek homoousion, is used to mean and express that the Father is the same as the Son; that is, that He extended Himself out of infinity into the Virgin, and took a body from her, and gave to Himself, in the body which He had taken, the name of Son. This is their first lie concerning the homoousion. Their next lie is that this word homoousion implies that Father and Son participate in something antecedent to Either and distinct from Both, and that a certain imaginary substance, or ousia, anterior to all matter whatsoever, has existed heretofore and been divided and wholly distributed between the Two; which proves, they say, that Each of the Two is of a nature pro-existent to Himself, and Each identical in matter with the Other. And so they profess to condemn the confession of the homoousion on the ground that that term does not discriminate between Father and Son, and makes the Father subsequent in time to that matter which He has in common with the Son. And they have devised this third 72objection to the word homoousion, that its meaning, as they explain it, is that the Son derives His origin from a partition of the Father’s substance, as though one object had been cut in two and He were the severed portion. The meaning of ‘one substance,’ they say, is that the part cut off from the whole continues to share the nature of that from which it has been severed; but God, being impassible, cannot be divided, for, if He must submit to be lessened by division, He is subject to change, and will be rendered imperfect if His perfect substance leave Him to reside in the severed portion.
5. They think also that they have a compendious refutation of Prophets, Evangelists and Apostles alike, in their assertion that the Son was born within time. They pronounce us illogical for saying that the Son has existed from everlasting; and, since they reject the possibility of His eternity, they are forced to believe that He was born at a point in time. For if He has not always existed, there was a time when He was not; and if there be a time when He was not, time was anterior to Him. He who has not existed everlastingly began to exist within time, while He Who is free from the limits of time is necessarily eternal. The reason they give for their rejection of the eternity of the Son is that His everlasting existence contradicts the faith in His birth; as though by confessing that He has existed eternally, we made His birth impossible.
6. What foolish and godless fears! What impious anxiety on God’s behalf! The meaning which they profess to detect in the word homoousion, and in the assertion of the eternity of the Son, is detested, rejected, denounced by the Church. She confesses one God from Whom are all things; she confesses one Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom are all things; One from Whom, One through Whom; One the Source of all, One the Agent through Whom all were created. In the One from Whom are all things she recognises the Majesty which has no beginning, and in the One through Whom are all things she recognises a might coequal with His Source; for Both are jointly supreme in the work of creation and in rule over created things. In the Spirit she recognises God as Spirit, impassible and indivisible, for she has learnt from the Lord that Spirit has neither flesh nor bones657657 St. Luke xxiv. 39.; a warning to save her from supposing that God, being Spirit, could be burdened with bodily suffering and loss. She recognises one God, unborn from everlasting; she recognises also one Only-begotten Son of God. She confesses the Father eternal and without beginning; she confesses also that the Son’s beginning is from eternity. Not that He has no beginning, but that He is Son of the Father Who has none; not that He is self-originated, but that He is from Him Who is unbegotten from everlasting; born from eternity, receiving, that is, His birth from the eternity of the Father. Thus our faith is free from the guesswork of heretical perversity; it is expressed in fixed and published terms, though as yet no reasoned defence of our confession has been put forth. Still, lest any suspicion should linger around the sense in which the Fathers have used the word homoousion and round our confession of the eternity of the Son, I have set down the proofs whereby we may be assured that the Son abides ever in that substance wherein He was begotten from the Father, and that the birth of His Son has not diminished ought of that Substance wherein the Father was abiding; that holy men, inspired by the teaching of God, when they said that the Son is homoousios with the Father pointed to no such flaws or defects as I have mentioned658658 In § 4.. My purpose has been to counteract the impression that this ousia, this assertion that He is homoousios with the Father, is a negation of the nativity of the Only-begotten Son.
7. To assure ourselves of the needfulness of these two phrases, adopted and employed as the best of safeguards against the heretical rabble of that day, I think it best to reply to the obstinate misbelief of our present heretics, and refute their vain and pestilent teaching by the witness of the evangelists and apostles. They flatter themselves that they can furnish a proof for each of their propositions; they have, in fact, appended to each some passages or other from holy Writ; passages so grossly misinterpreted as to ensnare none but the illiterate by the semblance of truth with which perverted ingenuity has masked their explanation.
8. For they attempt, by praising the Godhead of the Father only, to deprive the Son of His Divinity, pleading that it is written, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One659659 Deut. vi. 4., and that the Lord repeats this in His answer to the doctor of the Law who asked Him what was the greatest commandment in the Law;—Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One660660 St. Mark xii. 29.. Again, they say that Paul proclaims, For there is One God, and One Mediator between God and men661661 1 Tim. ii. 5.. And furthermore, they insist that God alone is wise, in order to leave no wisdom for the Son, relying upon the words of the 73Apostle, Now to Him that is able to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through age-long times, but now is manifested through the scriptures of the prophets according to the commandment of the eternal God Who is made known unto all nations unto obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory for ever and ever662662 Rom. xvi. 25–27.. They argue also that He alone is true663663 Omitting solus innascibilis et, which are out of place here., for Isaiah says, They shall bless Thee, the true God664664 Is. lxv. 16., and the Lord Himself has borne witness in the Gospel, saying, And this is life eternal that they should know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent665665 St. John xvii. 3.. Again they reason that He alone is good, to leave no goodness for the Son, because it has been said through Him, There is none good save One, even God666666 St. Mark x. 18.; and that He alone has power, because Paul has said, Which in His own times He shall shew to us, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords667667 1 Tim. vi. 15.. And further, they profess themselves certain that in the Father there is no change nor turning, because He has said through the prophet, I am the Lord your God, and I am not changed668668 Mal. iii. 6., and the apostle James, With Whom there is no change669669 i. 17.; certain also that He is the righteous Judge, for it is written, God is the righteous Judge, strong and patient670670 Ps. vii. 12.; that He cares for all, because the Lord has said, speaking of the birds, And your heavenly. Father feedeth them671671 St. Matt. vi. 26., and, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them falleth upon the ground without the will of your Father; but the very hairs of your head are numbered672672 Ib. x. 29, 30.. They say that the Father has prescience of all things, as the blessed Susanna says, O eternal God, that knowest secrets, and knowest all things before they be673673 Susanna (Daniel xiii.) 42.; that He is incomprehensible, as it is written, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is the footstool of My feet. What house will ye build Me, or what is the place of My rest? For these things hath My hand made, and all these things are mine674674 Isai. lxvi. 1, 2.; that He contains all things, as Paul bears witness, For in Him we live and move and have our being675675 Acts xvii. 28., and the psalmist, Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, and whither shall I fly from Thy face? If I climb up into heaven, Thou art there; if I go down to hell, Thou art present. If I take my wings before the light and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even thither Thy hand shall lead me and Thy right hand shall hold me676676 Ps. cxxxix. 6–9 (cxxxviii. 7–10).; that He is without body, for it is written, For God is Spirit, and they that worship Him must worship in spirit and in truth677677 St. John iv. 24.; that He is immortal and invisible, as Paul says, Who only hath immortality, and dwelleth in light unapproachable, whom no man hath seen nor can see678678 1 Tim. vi. 16., and the Evangelist, No one hath seen God at any time, except the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father679679 St. John i. 18.; that He alone abides eternally unborn, for it is written, I Am That I Am, and Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you680680 Exod. iii. 14., and through Jeremiah, O Lord, Who art Lord681681 i. 6 (LXX)..
9. Who can fail to observe that these statements are full of fraud and fallacy? Cleverly as issues have been confused and texts combined, malice and folly is the character indelibly imprinted upon this laborious effort of cunning and clumsiness. For instance, among their points of faith they have included this, that they confess the Father only to be unborn; as though any one on our side could suppose that He, Who begot Him through Whom are all things, derived His being from any external source. The very fact that He bears the name of Father reveals Him as the cause of His Son’s existence. That name of Father gives no hint that He who bears it is Himself descended from another, while it tells us plainly from Whom it is that the Son is begotten. Let us therefore leave to the Father His own special and incommunicable property, confessing that in Him reside the eternal powers of an omnipotence without beginning. None, I am sure, can doubt that the reason why, in their confession of God the Father, certain attributes are dwelt upon as peculiarly and inalienably His own, is that He may be left in isolated possession of them. For when they say that He alone is true, alone is righteous, alone is wise, alone is invisible, alone is good, alone is mighty, alone is immortal, they are raising up this word alone as a barrier to cut off the Son from His share in these attributes. He Who is alone, they say, has no partner in His properties. But if we suppose that these attributes reside in the Father only, and not in the Son also, then we must believe that God the Son has neither truth nor wisdom; that He is a bodily being compact of visible and material elements, ill-disposed and feeble and void of immortality; for we exclude Him from all these attributes of which we make the Father the solitary Possessor.
7410. We, however, who propose to discourse of that most perfect majesty and fullest Divinity which appertains to the Only-begotten Son of God, have no fear lest our readers should imagine that amplitude of phrase in speaking of the Son is a detraction from the glory of God the Father, as though every praise assigned to the Son had first been withdrawn from Him. For, on the contrary, the majesty of the Son is glory to the Father; the Source must be glorious from which He Who is worthy of such glory comes. The Son has nothing but by virtue of His birth; the Father shares all veneration received by that birthright. Thus the suggestion that we diminish the Father’s honour is put to silence, for all the glory which, as we shall teach, is inherent in the Son will be reflected back, to the increased glory of Him who has begotten a Son so great.
11. Now that we have exposed their plan of belittling the Son under cover of magnifying the Father, the next step is to listen to the exact terms in which they express their own belief concerning the Son. For, since we have to answer in succession each of their allegations and to display on the evidence of Holy Scripture the impiety of their doctrines, we must append, to what they say of the Father, the decisions which they have put on record concerning the Son, that by a comparison of their confession of the Father with their confession of the Son we may follow a uniform order in our solution of the questions as they arise. They state as their verdict that the Son is not derived from any pre-existent matter, for through Him all things were created, nor yet begotten from God, for nothing can be withdrawn from God; but that He was made out of what was nonexistent, that is, that He is a perfect creature of God, though different from His other creatures. They argue that He is a creature, because it is written, The Lord hath created Me for a beginning of His ways682682 Prov. viii. 22.; that He is the perfect handiwork of God, though different from His other works, they prove, as to the first point, by what Paul writes to the Hebrews, Being made so much better than the angels, as He possesseth a more excellent name than they683683 Heb. i. 4., and again, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus Christ, who is faithful to Him that made Him684684 Ib. iii. 1.. For their depreciation of the might and majesty and Godhead of the Son they rely chiefly on His own words, The Father is greater than I685685 St. John xiv. 28.. But they admit that He is not one of the common herd of creatures on the evidence of All things were made through Him686686 St. John i. 3.. And so they sum up the whole of their blasphemous teaching in these words which follow:—
12. “We confess One God, alone unmade, alone eternal, alone unoriginate, alone true, alone possessing immortality, alone good, alone mighty, Creator, Ordainer and Disposer of all things, unchangeable and unalterable, righteous and good, of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament. We believe that this God gave birth to the Only-begotten Son before all worlds, through Whom He made the world and all things; that He gave birth to Him not in semblance, but in truth, following His own Will, so that He is unchangeable and unalterable, God’s perfect creature but not as one of His other creatures, His handiwork, but not as His other works; not, as Valentinus maintained, that the Son is a development of the Father; nor, as Manichæus has declared of the Son, a consubstantial part of the Father; nor, as Sabellius, who makes two out of one, Son and Father at once; nor, as Hieracas, a light from a light, or a lamp with two flames; nor as if He was previously in being and afterwards born or created afresh to be a Son, a notion often condemned by thyself, blessed Pope687687 Of Alexandria., publicly in the Church and in the assembly of the brethren. But, as we have affirmed, we believe that He was created by the will of God before times and worlds, and has His life and existence from the Father, Who gave Him to share His own glorious perfections. For, when the Father gave to Him the inheritance of all things, He did not thereby deprive Himself of attributes which are His without origination, He being the source of all things.
13. “So there are three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. God, for His part, is the cause of all things, utterly unoriginate and separate from all; while the Son, put forth by the Father outside time, and created and established before the worlds, did not exist before He was born, but, being born outside time before the worlds, came into being as the Only Son of the Only Father. For He is neither eternal, nor co-eternal, nor co-uncreate with the Father, nor has He an existence collateral with the Father, as some say, who688688 Omitting aut aliqui. postulate two unborn principles. But God is before all things, as being indivisible and the beginning of all. Wherefore He is before the Son also, as indeed we have learnt from thee in thy public preaching. Inasmuch then as He hath His being from God, and His glorious perfections, and His life, 75and is entrusted with all things, for this reason God is His source, and hath rule over Him, as being His God, since He is before Him. As to such phrases as from Him, and from the womb, and I went out from the Father and am come, if they be understood to denote that the Father extends a part and, as it were, a development of that one substance, then the Father will be of a compound nature and divisible and changeable and corporeal, according to them; and thus, as far as their words go, the incorporeal God will be subjected to the properties of matter689689 This Epistle of Arius to Alexander is translated substantially as in Newman’s Arians of the Fourth Century, ch. II., § 5, though there are differences of some importance between Hilary’s Latin version and the Greek in Athanasius de Synodis, § 16, from which Newman’s version is made..”
14. Such is their error, such their pestilent teaching; to support it they borrow the words of Scripture, perverting its meaning and using the ignorance of men as their opportunity of gaining credence for their lies. Yet it is certainly by these same words of God that we must come to understand the things of God. For human feebleness cannot by any strength of its own attain to the knowledge of heavenly things; the faculties which deal with bodily matters can form no notion of the unseen world. Neither our created bodily substance, nor the reason given by God for the purposes of ordinary life, is capable of ascertaining and pronouncing upon the nature and work of God. Our wits cannot rise to the level of heavenly knowledge, our powers of perception lack the strength to apprehend that limitless might. We must believe God’s word concerning Himself, and humbly accept such insight as He vouchsafes to give. We must make our choice between rejecting His witness, as the heathen do, or else believing in Him as He is, and this in the only possible way, by thinking of Him in the aspect in which He presents Himself to us. Therefore let private judgment cease; let human reason refrain from passing barriers divinely set. In this spirit we eschew all blasphemous and reckless assertion concerning God, and cleave to the very letter of revelation. Each point in our enquiry shall be considered in the light of His instruction, Who is our theme; there shall be no stringing together of isolated phrases whose context is suppressed, to trick and misinform the unpractised listener. The meaning of words shall be ascertained by considering the circumstances under which they were spoken; words must be explained by circumstances not circumstances forced into conformity with words. We, at any rate, will treat our subject completely; we will state both the circumstances under which words were spoken, and the true purport of the words. Each point shall be considered in orderly sequence.
15. Their starting-point is this; We confess, they say, One only God, because Moses says, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One690690 Deut. vi. 4.. But is this a truth which anyone has ever dared to doubt? Or was any believer ever known to confess otherwise than that there is One God from Whom are all things, One Majesty which has no birth, and that He is that unoriginated Power? Yet this fact of the Unity of God offers no chance for denying the Divinity of His Son. For Moses, or rather God through Moses, laid it down as His first commandment to that people, devoted both in Egypt and in the Desert to idols and the worship of imaginary gods, that they must believe in One God. There was truth and reason in the commandment, for God, from Whom are all things, is One. But let us see whether this Moses have not confessed that He, through Whom are all things, is also God. God is not robbed, He is still God, if His Son share the Godhead. For the case is that of God from God, of One from One, of God Who is One because God is from Him. And conversely the Son is not less God because God the Father is One, for He is the Only-begotten Son of God; not eternally unborn, so as to deprive the Father of His Oneness, nor yet different from God, for He is born from Him. We must not doubt that He is God by virtue of that birth from God which proves to us who believe that God is One; yet let us see whether Moses, who announced to Israel, The Lord thy God is One, has also proclaimed the Godhead of the Son. To make good our confession of the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ we must employ the evidence of that same witness on whom the heretics rely for the confession of One Only God, which they imagine to involve the denial of the Godhead of the Son.
16. Since, therefore, the words of the Apostle, One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things691691 1 Cor. viii. 6., form an accurate and complete confession concerning God, let us see what Moses has to say of the beginning of the world. His words are, And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide the water from the water. And it was so, and God made the firmament and God divided the water through the midst692692 Gen. i. 6, 7.. Here, then, you have the God from Whom, and the God through Whom. If you deny it, you must tell us through whom it was that God’s work in creation was done, or else 76point for your explanation to an obedience in things yet uncreated, which, when God said Let there be a firmament, impelled the firmament to establish itself. Such suggestions are inconsistent with the clear sense of Scripture. For all things, as the Prophet says693693 2 Macc. vii. 28., were made out of nothing; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation into a perfect form of the non-existent. Through whom? Hear the Evangelist: All things were made through Him. If you ask Who this is, the same Evangelist will tell you: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him694694 St. John i. 1–3.. If you are minded to combat the view that it was the Father Who said, Let there be a firmament, the prophet will answer you: He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created695695 Ps. clxviii. 5.. The recorded words, Let there be a firmament, reveal to us that the Father spoke. But in the words which follow, And it was so, in the statement that God did this thing, we must recognise the Person of the Agent. He spake, and they were made; the Scripture does not say that He willed it, and did it. He commanded, and they were created; you observe that it does not say they came into existence, because it was His pleasure. In that case there would be no office for a Mediator between God and the world which was awaiting its creation. God, from Whom are all things, gives the order for creation which God, through Whom are all things, executes. Under one and the same Name we confess Him Who gave and Him Who fulfilled the command. If you dare to deny that God made is spoken of the Son, how do you explain All things were made through Him? Or the Apostle’s words, One Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things? Or, He spake, and they were made? If these inspired words succeed in convincing your stubborn mind, you will cease to regard that text, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One, as a refusal of Divinity to the Son of God, since at the very foundation of the world He Who spoke it proclaimed that His Son also is God. But let us see what increase of profit we may draw from this distinction of God Who commands and God Who executes. For though it is repugnant even to our natural reason to suppose that in the words, He commanded, and they were made, one single and isolated Person is intended, yet, for the avoidance of all doubts, we must expound the events which followed upon the creation of the world.
17. When the world was complete and its inhabitant was to be created, the words spoken concerning him were, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness696696 Gen. i. 26.. I ask you, Do you suppose that God spoke those words to Himself? Is it not obvious that He was addressing not Himself, but Another? If you reply that He was alone, then out of His own mouth He confutes you, for He says, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness. God has spoken to us through the Lawgiver in the way which is intelligible to us; that is, He makes us acquainted with His action by means of language, the faculty with which He has been pleased to endow us. There is, indeed, an indication of the Son of God697697 Reading Filii., through Whom all things were made, in the words, And God said, Let there be a firmament, and in, And God made the firmament, which follows: but lest we should think these words of God were wasted and meaningless, supposing that He issued to Himself the command of creation, and Himself obeyed it,—for what notion could be further from the thought of a solitary God than that of giving a verbal order to Himself, when nothing was necessary except an exertion of His will?—He determined to give us a more perfect assurance that these words refer to Another beside Himself. When He said, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness, His indication of a Partner demolishes the theory of His isolation. For an isolated being cannot be partner to himself; and again, the words, Let Us make, are inconsistent with solitude, while Our cannot be used except to a companion. Both words, Us and Our are inconsistent with the notion of a solitary God speaking to Himself, and equally inconsistent with that of the address being made to a stranger who has nothing in common with the Speaker. If you interpret the passage to mean that He is isolated, I ask you whether you suppose that He was speaking with Himself? If you do not understand that He was speaking with Himself, how can you assume that He was isolated? If He were isolated, we should find Him described as isolated; if He had a companion, then as not isolated. I and Mine would describe the former state; the latter is indicated by Us and Our.
18. Thus, when we read, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness, these two words Us and Our reveal that there is neither one isolated God, nor yet one God in two dissimilar Persons; and our confession must be framed in harmony with the second as well as with the first truth. For the words our image—not our images—prove that there is 77one nature possessed by Both. But an argument from words is an insufficient proof, unless its result be confirmed by the evidence of facts; and accordingly it is written, And God made man; after the image of God made He him698698 Gen. i. 27.. If the words He spoke, I ask, were the soliloquy of an isolated God, what meaning shall we assign to this last statement? For in it I see a triple allusion, to the Maker, to the being made, and to the image. The being made is man; God made him, and made him in the image of God. If Genesis were speaking of an isolated God, it would certainly have been And made him after His own image. But since the book was foreshowing the Mystery of the Gospel, it spoke not of two Gods, but of God and God, for it speaks of man made through God in the image of God. Thus we find that God wrought man after an image and likeness common to Himself and to God; that the mention of an Agent forbids us to assume that He was isolated; and that the work, done after an image and likeness which was that of Both, proves that there is no difference in kind between the Godhead of the One and of the Other.
19. It may seem waste of time to bring forward further arguments, for truths concerning God gain no strength by repetition; a single statement suffices to establish them. Yet it is well for us to know all that has been revealed upon the subject, for though we are not responsible for the words of Scripture, yet we shall have to render an account for the sense we have assigned to them. One of the many commandments which God gave to Noah is, Whoso sheddeth man’s blood, for his blood shall his life be shed, for after the image of God made I man699699 Ib. ix. 6.. Here again is the distinction between likeness, creature, and Creator. God bears witness that He made man after the image of God. When He was about to make man, because He was speaking of Himself, yet not to Himself, God said, After our image; and again, after man was made, God made man after the image of God. It would have been no inaccuracy of language, had He said, addressing Himself, I have made man after My image, for He had shewn that the Persons are one in nature by, Let us make man after Our image700700 I.e. by the word Our.. But for the more perfect removal of all doubt as to whether God be, or be not, a solitary Being, when He made man He made him, we are told, After the image of God.
20. If you still wish to assert that God the Father in solitude said these words to Himself, I can go with you as far as to admit the possibility that He might in solitude have spoken to Himself as if He were conversing with a companion, and that it is credible that He wished the words I have made man after the image of God to be equivalent to I have made man after My own image. But your own confession of faith will refute you. For you have confessed that all things are from the Father, but all through the Son; and the words, Let Us make man, shew that the Source from Whom are all things is He Who spoke thus, while God made him after the image of God clearly points to Him through Whom the work was done.
21. And furthermore, to make all self-deception unlawful, that Wisdom, which you have yourself confessed to be Christ, shall confront you with the words, When He was establishing the fountains under the heaven, when He was making strong the foundations of the earth, I was with Him, setting them in order. It was I, over Whom He rejoiced. Moreover, I was daily rejoicing in His sight, all the while that He was rejoicing in the world that He had made, and in the sons of men701701 Prov. viii. 28–31.. Every difficulty is removed; error itself must recognise the truth. There is with God Wisdom, begotten before the worlds; and not only present with Him, but setting in order, for She was with Him, setting them in order. Mark this work of setting in order, or arranging. The Father, by His commands, is the Cause; the Son, by His execution of the things commanded, sets in order. The distinction between the Persons is marked by the work assigned to Each. When it says Let us make, creation is identified with the word of command; but when it is written, I was with Him, setting them in order, God reveals that He did not do the work in isolation. For He was rejoicing before Him, Who, He tells us, rejoiced in return; Moreover, I was daily rejoicing in His sight, all the while that He was rejoicing in the world that He had made, and in the sons of men. Wisdom has taught us the reason of Her joy. She rejoiced because of the joy of the Father, Who rejoices over the completion of the world and over the sons of men. For it is written, And God saw that they were good. She rejoices that God is well pleased with His work, which has been made through Her, at His command. She avows that Her joy results from the Father’s gladness over the finished world and over the sons of men; over the sons of men, because in the one man Adam the whole human race had begun its course. Thus in the creation of the world there is no mere soliloquy of an isolated Father; His Wisdom is His partner 78in the work, and rejoices with Him when their conjoint labour ends.
22. I am aware that the full explanation of these words involves the discussion of many and weighty problems. I do not shirk them, but postpone them for the present, reserving their consideration for later stages of the enquiry. For the present I devote myself to that article of the blasphemers’ faith, or rather faithlessness, which asserts that Moses proclaims the solitude of God. We do not forget that the assertion is true in the sense that there is One God, from Whom are all things; but neither do we forget that this truth is no excuse for denying the Godhead of the Son, since Moses throughout the course of his writings clearly indicates the existence of God and God. We must examine how the history of God’s choice, and of the giving of the Law, proclaims God co-ordinate with God.
23. After God had often spoken with Abraham, Sarah was moved to wrath against Hagar, being jealous that she, the mistress, was barren, while her handmaid had conceived a son. Then, when Hagar had departed from her sight, the Spirit speaks thus concerning her, And the angel of the Lord said unto Hagar, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, and it shall not be numbered for multitude, and again, And she called the Name of the Lord that spake with her, Thou art God, Who hast seen me702702 Gen. xvi. 9, 10, 13.. It is the Angel of God Who speaks703703 The parenthesis which follows: “Now angel of God has two senses, that of Him Who is, and that of Him Whose He is” interrupts the sense and seems quite out of place. The same distinction in the case of the word Spirit, in Book II. § 32 may be compared., and speaks of things far beyond the powers which a messenger, for that is the meaning of the word, could have. He says, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, and it shall not be numbered for multitude. The power of multiplying nations lies outside the ministry of an angel. Yet what says the Scripture of Him Who is called the Angel of God, yet speaks words which belong to God alone? And she called the Name of the Lord that spake with her, Thou art God, Who hast seen me. First He is the Angel of God; then He is the Lord, for She called the Name of the Lord; then, thirdly, He is God, for Thou art God, Who hast seen me. He Who is called the Angel of God is also Lord and God. The Son of God is also, according to the prophet, the Angel of great counsel704704 Isaiah ix. 6 (LXX).. To discriminate clearly between the Persons, He is called the Angel of God; He Who is God from God is also the Angel of God, but, that He may have the honour which is His due, He is entitled also Lord and God.
24. In this passage the one Deity is first the Angel of God, and then, successively, Lord and God. But to Abraham He is God only. For when the distinction of Persons had first been made, as a safeguard against the delusion that God is a solitary Being, then His true and unqualified name could safely be uttered. And so it is written. And God said to Abraham, Behold Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as far Ishmael, behold. I have heard thee and have blessed him, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve nations shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation705705 Gen. xvii. 19, 20.. Is it possible to doubt that He Who was previously called the Angel of God is here, in the sequel, spoken of as God? In both instances He is speaking of Ishmael; in both it is the same Person Who shall multiply him. To save us from supposing that this was a different Speaker from Him who had addressed Hagar, the Divine words expressly attest the identity, saying, And I have blessed him, and will multiply him. The blessing is repeated from a former occasion, for Hagar had already been addressed; the multiplication is promised for a future day, for this is God’s first word to Abraham concerning Ishmael. Now it is God Who speaks to Abraham; to Hagar the Angel of God had spoken. Thus God and the Angel of God are One; He Who is the Angel of God is also God the Son of God. He is called the Angel because He is the Angel of great counsel; but afterwards He is spoken of as God, lest we should suppose that He Who is God is only an angel. Let us now repeat the facts in order. The Angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar; He spoke also to Abraham as God. One Speaker addressed both. The blessing was given to Ishmael, and the promise that he should grow into a great people.
25. In another instance the Scripture reveals through Abraham that it was God Who spoke. He receives the further promise of a son, Isaac. Afterwards there appear to him three men. Abraham, though he sees three, worships One, and acknowledges Him as Lord. Three were standing before him, Scripture says, but he knew well Which it was that he must worship and confess. There was nothing in outward appearance to distinguish them, but by the eye of faith, the vision of the soul, he knew his Lord. Then the Scripture goes on, And He said unto him, I will 79certainly return unto thee at this time hereafter, and Sarah thy wife shall have a son706706 Gen. xviii. 10.; and afterwards the Lord said to Him, I will not conceal from Abraham My servant the things that I will do707707 Ib. 17.; and again, Moreover the Lord said, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is filled up, and their sins are exceeding great708708 Ib. 20.. Then after long discourse, which for the sake of brevity shall be omitted, Abraham, distressed at the destruction which awaited the innocent as well as the guilty, said, In no wise wilt Thou, Who judgest the earth, execute this judgment. And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes709709 Ib. 25, 26.. Afterwards, when the warning to Lot, Abraham’s brother, was ended, the Scripture says, And the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven710710 Ib. xix. 24.; and, after a while, And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and did unto Sarah as He had spoken, and Sarah conceived and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him711711 Ib. xxi. 1, 2.. And afterwards, when the handmaid with her son had been driven from Abraham’s house, and was dreading lest her child should die in the wilderness for want of water, the same Scripture says And the Lord God heard the voice of the lad, where he was, and the Angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What is it, Hagar? Fear not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad from the place where he is. Arise, and take the lad and hold his hand, for I will make him a great nation712712 Ib. 17, 18..
26. What blind faithlessness it is, what dulness of an unbelieving heart, what headstrong impiety, to abide in ignorance of all this, or else to know and yet neglect it! Assuredly it is written for the very purpose that error or oblivion may not hinder the recognition of the truth. If, as we shall prove, it is impossible to escape knowledge of the facts, then it must be nothing less than blasphemy to deny them. This record begins with the speech of the Angel to Hagar, His promise to multiply Ishmael into a great nation and to give him a countless offspring. She listens, and by her confession reveals that He is Lord and God. The story begins with His appearance as the Angel of God; at its termination He stands confessed as God Himself. Thus He Who, while He executes the ministry of declaring the great counsel is God’s Angel, is Himself in name and nature God. The name corresponds to the nature; the nature is not falsified to make it conform to the name. Again, God speaks to Abraham of this same matter; he is told that Ishmael has already received a blessing, and shall be increased into a nation; I have blessed him, God says. This is no change from the Person indicated before; He shews that it was He Who had already given the blessing. The Scripture has obviously been consistent throughout in its progress from mystery to clear revelation; it began with the Angel of God, and proceeds to reveal that it was God Himself Who had spoken in this same matter.
27. The course of the Divine narrative is accompanied by a progressive development of doctrine. In the passage which we have discussed God speaks to Abraham, and promises that Sarah shall bear a son. Afterwards three men stand by him; he worships One and acknowledges Him as Lord. After this worship and acknowledgment by Abraham, the One promises that He will return hereafter at the same season, and that then Sarah shall have her son. This One again is seen by Abraham in the guise of a man, and salutes him with the same promise. The change is one of name only; Abraham’s acknowledgment in each case is the same. It was a Man whom he saw, yet Abraham worshipped Him as Lord; he beheld, no doubt, in a mystery the coming Incarnation. Faith so strong has not missed its recognition; the Lord says in the Gospel, Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day; and he saw it, and was glad713713 St. John viii. 56.. To continue the history; the Man Whom he saw promised that He would return at the same season. Mark the fulfilment of the promise, remembering meanwhile that it was a Man Who made it. What says the Scripture? And the Lord visited Sarah. So this Man is the Lord, fulfilling His own promise. What follows next? And God did unto Sarah as He had said. The narrative calls His words those of a Man, relates that Sarah was visited by the Lord, proclaims that the result was the work of God. You are sure that it was a Man who spoke, for Abraham not only heard, but saw Him. Can you be less certain that He was God, when the same Scripture, which had called Him Man, confesses Him God? For its words are, And Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, and at the set time of which God had spoken to him. But it was the Man who had promised that He would come. Believe that He was nothing more than man; unless, in fact, He Who came was God and Lord. Connect the incidents. It was, confessedly, the Man who promised that He would come that Sarah might con80ceive and bear a son. And now accept instruction, and confess the faith; it was the Lord God Who came that she might conceive and bear. The Man made the promise in the power of God; by the same power God fulfilled the promise. Thus God reveals Himself both in word and deed. Next, two of the three men whom Abraham saw depart; He Who remains behind is Lord and God. And not only Lord and God, but also Judge, for Abraham stood before the Lord and said, In no wise shalt Thou do this things, to slay the righteous with the wicked, for then the righteous shall be as the wicked. In no wise wilt Thou Who judgest the whole earth, execute this judgment714714 Gen. xviii. 25.. Thus by all his words Abraham instructs us in that faith, for which he was justified; he recognises the Lord from among the three, he worships Him only, and confesses that He is Lord and Judge.
28. Lest you fall into the error of supposing that this acknowledgment of the One was a payment of honor to all the three whom Abraham saw in company, mark the words of Lot when he saw the two who had departed; And when Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; and he said, Behold, my lords, turn in to your servant’s house715715 Ib. xix. 1, 2.. Here the plural lords shews that this was nothing more than a vision of angels; in the other case the faithful patriarch pays the honour due to One only. Thus the sacred narrative makes it clear that two of the three were mere angels; it had previously proclaimed the One as Lord and God by the words, And the Lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I then bear a child? But I am grown old. Is anything from God impossible? At this season I will return to thee hereafter, and Sarah shall have a son716716 Ib. xviii. 13, 14.. The Scripture is accurate and consistent; we detect no such confusion as the plural used of the One God and Lord, no Divine honours paid to the two angels. Lot, no doubt, calls them lords, while the Scripture calls them angels. The one is human reverence, the other literal truth.
29. And now there falls on Sodom and Gomorrah the vengeance of a righteous judgment. What can we learn from it for the purposes of our enquiry? The Lord rained brimstone and fire from the Lord. It is The Lord from the Lord; Scripture makes no distinction, by difference of name, between Their natures, but discriminates between Themselves. For we read in the Gospel, The Father judgeth no man, but hath given all judgment to the Son717717 St. John v. 22.. Thus what the Lord gave, the Lord had received from the Lord.
30. You have now had evidence of God the Judge as Lord and Lord; learn next that there is the same joint ownership of name in the case of God and God. Jacob, when he fled through fear of his brother, saw in his dream a ladder resting upon the earth and reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it, and the Lord resting above it, Who gave him all the blessings which He had bestowed upon Abraham and Isaac. At a later time God spoke to him thus: And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to the place Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of thy brother718718 Gen. xxxv. 1.. God demands honour for God, and makes it clear that demand is on behalf of Another than Himself. He who appeared to thee when thou fleddest are His words: He guards carefully against any confusion of the Persons. It is God Who speaks, and God of Whom He speaks. Their majesty is asserted by the combination of Both under Their true Name of God, while the words plainly declare Their several existence.
31. Here again there occur to me considerations which must be taken into account in a complete treatment of the subject. But the order of defence must adapt itself to the order of attack, and I reserve these outstanding questions for discussion in the next book. For the present, in regard to God Who demanded honour for God, it will suffice for me to point out that He Who was the Angel of God, when He spoke with Hagar, was God and Lord when He spoke of the same matter with Abraham; that the Man Who spoke with Abraham was also God and Lord, while the two angels, who were seen with the Lord and whom He sent to Lot, are described by the prophet as angels, and nothing more. Nor was it to Abraham only that God appeared in human guise; He appeared as Man to Jacob also. And not only did He appear, but, so we are told, He wrestled; and not only did He wrestle, but He was vanquished by His adversary. Neither the time at my disposal, nor the subject, will allow me to discuss the typical meaning of this wrestling. It was certainly God Who wrestled, for Jacob prevailed against God, and Israel saw God.
32. And now let us enquire whether elsewhere than in the case of Hagar the Angel of God has been discovered to be God Himself. He has been so discovered, and found to be not only God, but the God of Abraham 81and of Isaac and of Jacob. For the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses from the bush; and Whose voice, think you, are we to suppose was heard? The voice of Him Who was seen, or of Another? There is no room for deception; the words of Scripture are clear: And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire from a bush, and again, The Lord called unto him from the bush, Moses, Moses, and he answered, What is it? And the Lord said, Draw not nigh hither, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. And He said unto him, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob719719 Exod. iii. 2, 4–6.. He who appeared in the bush speaks from the bush; the place of the vision and of the voice is one; He Who speaks is none other than He Who was seen. He Who is the Angel of God when the eye beholds Him is the Lord when the ear hears Him, and the Lord Whose voice is heard is recognised as the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. When He is styled the Angel of God, the fact is revealed that He is no self-contained and solitary Being: for He is the Angel of God. When He is designated Lord and God, He receives the full title which is due to His nature and His name. You have, then, in the Angel Who appeared from the bush, Him Who is Lord and God.
33. Continue your study of the witness borne by Moses; mark how diligently he seizes every opportunity of proclaiming the Lord and God. You take note of the passage, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One720720 Deut. vi. 4.. Note also the words of that Divine song of his; See, See, that I am the Lord, and there is no God beside Me721721 Ib. xxxii. 39.. While God has been the Speaker throughout the poem, he ends with, Rejoice, ye heavens, together with Him and let all the sons of God praise Him. Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people, and let all the Angels of God do Him honour722722 Ib. 43 (LXX.). God is to be glorified by the Angels of God, and He says, For I am the Lord, and there is no God beside Me. For He is God the Only-begotten, and the title ‘Only-begotten’ excludes all partnership in that character, just as the title ‘Unoriginate’ denies that there is, in that regard, any who shares the character of the Unoriginate Father. The Son is One from One. There is none unoriginate except God the Unoriginate, and so likewise there is none only-begotten except God the Only-begotten. They stand Each single and alone, being respectively the One Unoriginate and the One Only-begotten. And so They Two are One God, for between the One, and the One Who is His offspring there lies no gulf of difference of nature in the eternal Godhead. Therefore He must be worshipped by the sons of God and glorified by the angels of God. Honour and reverence is demanded for God from the sons and from the angels of God. Notice Who it is that shall receive this honour, and by whom it is to be paid. It is God, and they are the sons and angels of God. And lest you should imagine that honour is not demanded for God Who shares our nature723723 Dei naturalis: cf. Book ix. § 39., but that Moses is thinking here of reverence due to God the Father,—though, indeed, it is in the Son that the Father must be honoured—examine the words of the blessing bestowed by God upon Joseph, at the end of the same book. They are, And let the things that are well-pleasing to Him that appeared in the bush come upon the head and crown of Joseph724724 Deut. xxxiii. 16.. Thus God is to be worshipped by the sons of God; but God Who is Himself the Son of God. And God is to be reverenced by the angels of God; but God Who is Himself the Angel of God. For God appeared from the bush as the Angel of God, and the prayer for Joseph is that he may receive such blessings as He shall please. He is none the less God because He is the Angel of God; and none the less the Angel of God because He is God. A clear indication is given of the Divine Persons; the line is definitely drawn between the Unbegotten and the Begotten. A revelation of the mysteries of heaven is granted, and we are taught not to dream of God as dwelling in solitude, when angels and sons of God shall worship Him, Who is God’s Angel and His Son.
34. Let this be taken as our answer from the books of Moses, or rather as the answer of Moses himself. The heretics imagine that they can use his assertion of the Unity of God in disproof of the Divinity of God the Son; a blasphemy in defiance of the clear warning of their own witness, for whenever he confesses that God is One he never fails to teach the Son’s Divinity. Our next step must be to adduce the manifold utterance of the prophets concerning the same Son.
35. You know the words, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One; would that you knew them aright! As you interpret them, I seek in vain for their sense. It is said in the Psalms, God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee725725 Ps. xlv. 7 (xliv. 8).. Impress upon the reader’s mind the distinction between 82the Anointer and the Anointed; discriminate between the Thee and the Thy: make it clear to Whom and of Whom the words are spoken. For this definite confession is the conclusion of the preceding passage, which runs thus; Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity. And then he continues, Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. Thus the God of the eternal kingdom, in reward for His love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity, is anointed by His God. Surely some broad difference is drawn, some gap too wide for our mental span, between these names? No; the distinction of Persons is indicated by Thee and Thy, but nothing suggests a difference of nature. Thy points to the Author, Thee to Him Who is the Author’s offspring. For He is God from God, as these same words of the prophet declare, God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. And His own words bear witness that there is no God anterior to God the Un-originate; Be ye My witnesses, and I am witness, saith the Lord God, and My Servant Whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe and understand that I am, and before Me there is no other God, nor shall be after Me726726 Is. xliii. 10.. Thus the majesty of Him that has no beginning is declared, and the glory of Him that is from the Unoriginate is safeguarded; for God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. That word Thy declares His birth, yet does not contradict His nature727727 His human nature also; cf. next §, and Book xi. § 18.; Thy God means that the Son was born from Him to share the Godhead. But the fact that the Father is God is no obstacle to the Son’s being God also, for God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. Mention is made both of Father and of Son; the one title of God conveys the assurance that in character and majesty They are One.
36. But lest these words, For I am, and before Me there is no other God, nor shall be after Me, be made a handle for blasphemous presumption, as proving that the Son is not God, since after the God, Whom no God precedes, there follows no other God, the purpose of the passage must be considered. God is His own best interpreter, but His chosen Servant joins with Him to assure us that there is no God before Him, nor shall be after Him. His own witness concerning Himself is, indeed, sufficient, but He has added the witness of the Servant Whom He has chosen. Thus we have the united testimony of the Two, that there is no God before Him; we accept the truth, because all things are from Him. We have Their witness also that there shall be no God after Him; but They do not deny that God has been born from Him in the past. Already there was the Servant speaking thus, and bearing witness to the Father; the Servant born in that tribe from which God’s elect was to spring. He sets forth also the same truth in the Gospels: Behold, My Servant Whom I have chosen, My Beloved in Whom My soul is well pleased728728 St. Matt. xii. 18.. This is the sense, then, in which God says, There is no other God before Me, nor shall be after Me. He reveals the infinity of His eternal and unchanging majesty by this assertion that there is no God before or after Himself. But He gives His Servant a share both in the bearing of witness and in the possession of the Name of God.
37. The fact is obvious from His own words. For He says to Hosea the prophet, I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, but will altogether be their enemy. But I will have mercy upon the children of Judah, and will save them in the Lord their God729729 Hos. i. 6, 7.. Here God the Father gives the name of God, without any ambiguity, to the Son, in Whom also He chose us before countless ages. Their God, He says, for while the Father, being Unoriginate, is independent of all, He has given us for an inheritance to His Son. In like manner we read, Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance730730 Ps. ii. 8.. None can be God to Him from Whom are all things731731 I.e. We cannot say Thy God of the Father., for He is eternal and has no beginning; but the Son has God, from Whom He was born, for His Father. Yet to us the Father is God and the Son is God; the Father reveals to us that the Son is our God, and the Son teaches that the Father is God over us. The point for us to remember is that in this passage the Father gives to the Son the name of God, the title of His own unoriginate majesty. But I have commented sufficiently on these words of Hosea.
38. Again, how clear is the declaration made by God the Father through Isaiah concerning our Lord! He says, For thus saith the Lord, the holy God of Israel, Who made the things to come, Ask me concerning your sons and your daughters, and concerning the works of My hands command ye Me. I have made the earth and man upon it, I have commanded all the stars, I have raised up a King with righteousness, and all His ways are straight. He shall build My city, and shall turn back the captivity of My people, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of Sabaoth. Egypt shall labour, 83and the merchandise of the Ethiopians and Sabeans. Men of stature shall come over unto Thee and shall be Thy servants, and shall follow after Thee, bound in chains, and shall worship Thee and make supplication unto Thee, for God is in Thee and there is no God beside Thee. For Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour. All that resist Him shall be ashamed and confounded, and shall walk in confusion732732 Is. xlv. 11–16.. Is any opening left for gainsaying, or excuse for ignorance? If blasphemy continue, is it not in brazen defiance that it survives? God from Whom are all things, Who made all by His command, asserts that He is the Author of the universe, for, unless He had spoken, nothing had been created. He asserts that He has raised up a righteous King, who builds for Himself, that is, for God, a city, and turns back the captivity of His people, for no gift nor reward, for freely are we all saved. Next, He tells how after the labours of Egypt, and after the traffic of Ethiopians and Sabeans, men of stature shall come over to Him. How shall we understand these labours in Egypt, this traffic of Ethiopians and Sabeans? Let us call to mind how the Magi of the East worshipped and paid tribute to the Lord; let us estimate the weariness of that long pilgrimage to Bethlehem of Judah. In the toilsome journey of the Magian princes we see the labours of Egypt to which the prophet alludes. For when the Magi executed, in their spurious, material way, the duty ordained for them by the power of God, the whole heathen world was offering in their person the deepest reverence of which its worship was capable. And these same Magi presented gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh from733733 Reading ex for et. the merchandise of the Ethiopians and Sabeans; a thing foretold by another prophet, who has said, The Ethiopians shall fall down before His face, and His enemies shall lick the dust. The Kings of Tharsis shall offer presents, the Kings of the Arabians and Sabeans shall bring gifts, and there shall be given to Him of the gold of Arabia734734 Ps. lxxi. (lxxii.) 9, 10.. The Magi and their offerings stand for the labour of Egypt and for the merchandise of Ethiopians and Sabeans; the adoring Magi represent the heathen world, and offer the choicest gifts of the Gentiles to the Lord Whom they adore.
39. As for the men of stature who shall come over to Him and follow Him in chains, there is no doubt who they are. Turn to the Gospels; Peter, when he is to follow his Lord, is girded up. Read the Apostles: Paul, the servant of Christ, boasts of his bonds. Let us see whether this ‘prisoner of Jesus Christ’ conforms in his teaching to the prophecies uttered by God concerning God His Son. God had said, They shall make supplication, for God is in Thee. Now mark and digest these words of the Apostle:—God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself735735 2 Cor. v. 19.. And then the prophecy continues, And there is no God beside Thee. The Apostle promptly matches this with For there is one Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom are all things736736 1 Cor. viii. 6.. Obviously there can be none other but He, for He is One. The third prophetic statement is, Thou art God and we knew it not. But Paul, once the persecutor of the Church, says, Whose are the fathers, from Whom is Christ, Who is God over all737737 Rom. ix. 5.. Such is to be the message of these men in chains; men of stature, indeed, they will be, and shall sit on twelve thrones to judge the tribes of Israel, and shall follow their Lord, witnesses to Him in teaching and in martyrdom.
40. Thus God is in God, and it is God in Whom God dwells. But how is There is no God beside Thee true, if God be within Him? Heretic! In support of your confession of a solitary Father you employ the words, There is no God beside Me; what sense can you assign to the solemn declaration of God the Father, There is no God beside Thee, if your explanation of There is no God beside Me be a denial of the Godhead of the Son? To whom, in that case, can God have said, There is no God beside Thee? You cannot suggest that this solitary Being said it to Himself. It was to the King Whom He summoned that the Lord said, by the mouth of the men of stature who worshipped and made supplication, For God is in Thee. The facts are inconsistent with solitude. In Thee implies that there was One present within range, if I may say so, of the Speaker’s voice. The complete sentence, God is in Thee, reveals not only God present, but also God abiding in Him Who is present. The words distinguish the Indweller from Him in Whom He dwells, but it is a distinction of Person only, not of character. God is in Him, and He, in Whom God is, is God. The residence of God cannot be within a nature strange and alien to His own. He abides in One Who is His own, born from Himself. God is in God, because God is from God. For Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour.
41. My next book is devoted to the refutation of your denial that God is in God; for the 84prophet continues, All that resist Him shall be ashamed and confounded and shall walk in confusion. This is God’s sentence, passed upon your unbelief. You set yourself in opposition to Christ, and it is on His account that the Father’s voice is raised in solemn reproof; for He, Whose Godhead you deny, is God. And you deny it under cloak of reverence for God, because He says, There is no other God beside Me. Submit to shame and confusion; the Unoriginate God has no need of the dignity you offer; He has never asked for this majesty of isolation which you attribute to Him. He repudiates your officious interpretation which would twist His words, There is no other God beside Me, into a denial of the Godhead of the Son Whom He begot from Himself. To frustrate your purpose of demolishing the Divinity of the Son by assigning the Godhead in some special sense to Himself, He rounds off the glories of the Only-begotten by the attribution of absolute Divinity:—And there is no God beside Thee. Why make distinctions between exact equivalents? Why separate what is perfectly matched? It is the peculiar characteristic of the Son of God that there is no God beside Him; the peculiar characteristic of God the Father that there is no God apart from Him. Use His words concerning Himself; confess Him in His own terms, and entreat Him as King; For God is in Thee, and there is no God beside Thee. For Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour. A confession couched in words so reverent is free from the taint of presumption: its terms can excite no repugnance. Above all, we must remember that to refuse it means shame and ignominy. Brood in thought over these words of God; employ them in your confession of Him, and so escape the threatened shame. For if you deny the Divinity of the Son of God, you will not be augmenting the glory of God by adoring Him in lonely majesty; you will be slighting the Father by refusing to reverence the Son. In faith and veneration confess of the Unoriginate God that there is no God beside Him; claim for God the Only-begotten that apart from Him there is no God.
42. As you have listened already to Moses and Isaiah, so listen now to Jeremiah inculcating the same truth as they:—This is our God, and there shall be none other likened unto Him, Who hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth and dwelt among men738738 Baruch iii. 35–37.. For previously he had said, And He is Man, and Who shall know Him739739 Jer. xvii. 9 (LXX.).? Thus you have God seen on earth and dwelling among men. Now I ask you what sense you would assign to No one hath seen God at any time, save the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father740740 St. John i. 18., when Jeremiah proclaims God seen on earth and dwelling among men? The Father confessedly cannot be seen except by the Son; Who then is This who was seen and dwelt among men? He must be our God, for He is God visible in human form, Whom men can handle. And take to heart the prophet’s words, There shall be none other likened to Him. If you ask how this can be, listen to the remainder of the sentence, lest you be tempted to deny to the Father His share of the confession. Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One. The whole passage is, There shall be none likened unto Him, Who hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth and dwelt among men. For there is one Mediator between God and Men, Who is both God and Man; Mediator both in giving of the Law and in taking of our body. Therefore none other can be likened unto Him, for He is One, born from God into God, and He it was through Whom all things were created in heaven and earth, through Whom times and worlds were made. Everything, in fine, that exists owes its existence to His action. He it is that instructs Abraham, that speaks with Moses, that testifies to Israel, that abides in the prophets, that was born through the Virgin from the Holy Ghost, that nails to the cross of His passion the powers that are our foes, that slays death in hell, that strengthens the assurance of our hope by His Resurrection, that destroys the corruption of human flesh by the glory of His Body. Therefore none shall be likened unto Him. For these are the peculiar powers of God the Only-begotten; He alone was born from God, the blissful Possessor of such great prerogatives. No second god can be likened unto Him, for He is God from God, not born from any alien being. There is nothing new or strange or modern created in Him. When Israel hears that its God is one, and that no second god is likened, that men may deem him God, to God Who is God’s Son, the revelation means that God the Father and God the Son are One altogether, not by confusion of Person but by unity of substance. For the prophet forbids us, because God the Son is God, to liken Him to some second deity.
|« Prev||Book IV||Next »|
►Proofing disabled for this book
► Printer-friendly version