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Chapter XIII.

The wicked and dishonourable opinions held by Arians, Sabellians, and Manichæans as concerning their Judge are shortly refuted. Christ’s remonstrances regarding the rest of His adversaries being set forth, St. Ambrose expresses a hope of milder judgment for himself.

108. Let us proceed, then, with your accusations, and see how you gain the favour of your Judge. Speak now, speak, I say, and tell Him: “I consider Thee, O Christ, to be unlike Thy Father;” and He will answer: “Mark, if thou canst, mark, I say, and tell Me wherein thou holdest Me to differ.”

109. Say again: “I judge Thee to be a created being;” and Christ will reply: “If the witness of two men is true, oughtest thou not to have believed both Me and My Father, Who hath called Me His Son?”

110. Then you will say: “I deny Thy [perfect] goodness;” and He will answer: “Be it unto thee according to thy faith; so will I not be good to thee.”

111. “That Thou art Almighty, I hold not;” and He will answer, in turn: “Then can I not forgive thee thy sins.”

112. “Thou art a subject being.” Whereto He will reply: “Why, then, dost thou seek freedom and pardon of Him Whom thou thinkest to be subject as a slave?”

113. I see your accusation halt here. I press you not, forasmuch as I myself know my own sins. I grudge you not pardon, for I myself would obtain indulgence, but I would know the object of your prayers. Look, then, whilst I recite before the Judge your desires. I betray not your sins, but look to behold your prayers and wishes set forth in their order.

114. Speak, therefore, those desires, which all alike would have granted to them. “Lord, make me in the image of God.” Whereto He will answer: “In what image? The image which thou hast denied?”

115. “Make me incorruptible.” Surely His reply will be: “How can I make thee incorruptible, I, Whom thou callest a created being, and so wouldst make out to be corruptible? The dead shall rise purified from corruption—dost thou call Him corruptible Whom thou seest to be God?”

116. “Be good to me.” “Why dost thou ask what thou hast denied [to Me]? I would have had thee to be good, and I said ‘Be ye holy, for I Myself am holy,’20582058    Lev. xix. 2. 239and thou settest thyself to deny that I am good? Dost thou then look for forgiveness of sins? Nay, none can forgive sins, but God alone.20592059    S. Mark. ii. 7. Seeing, then, that to thee I am not the true and only God, I cannot by any means forgive thee thy sins.”

117. Thus let the followers of Arius and Photinus speak. “I deny Thy Godhead.” To whom the Lord will make answer: “‘The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God’20602060    Ps. xiv. 1; liii. 1. These words mean, not so much that a man says “There is no God” because he is a fool, because he is wanting in intelligence, but rather that when a man has left off to behave himself wisely and to do good—i.e. does foolishly, that is to say, wickedly—it is because he has said in his heart, “There is no God.” Of whom, think you, is this said?—of Jew or Gentile, or of the devil. Whosoever he be of whom it is said, O disciple of Photinus, he is more to be borne with, who held his peace;20612061    The “fool” (i.e. wicked man) has only said in his heart, secretly, “No God”—he has not ventilated his atheism. thou, nevertheless, hast dared to lift up thy voice to utter it, that thou mightest be proved more foolish than the fool. Thou deniest My Godhead, whereas I said, ‘Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most Highest?’20622062    Ps. lxxxii. 6; S. John x. 34 ff. And thou deniest Him to be God, Whose godlike works thou seest around thee.”

118. Let the Sabellian speak in his turn. “I consider Thee, by Thyself, to be at once Father and Son and Holy Spirit.” To whom the Lord: “Thou hearest neither the Father nor the Son. Is there any doubt on this matter? The Scripture itself teaches thee that it is the Father Who giveth over the judgment, and the Son Who judges.20632063    S. John v. 22. Thou hast not given ear to My words: ‘I am not alone, but I and the Father, Who sent Me.’”20642064    S. John viii. 16; xvi. 32.

119. Now let the Manichæan have his word. “I hold that the devil is the creator of our flesh.” The Lord will answer him: “What, then, doest thou in the heavenly places? Depart, go thy way to thy creator. ‘My will is that they be with Me, whom my Father hath given Me.’20652065    S. John xvii. 24. Thou, Manichæan, holdest thyself for a creature of the devil; hasten, then, to his abode, the place of fire and brimstone, where the fire thereof is not quenched, lest ever the punishment have an end.”

120. I set aside other heretical—not persons, but portents. What manner of judgment awaits them, what shall be the form of their sentence? To all these He will, indeed, reply, rather in sorrow than in anger: “O My people, what have I done unto thee, wherein have I vexed thee? Did I not bring thee up out of Egypt, and lead thee out of the house of bondage into liberty?”20662066    Micah vi. 3; Ex. xx. 2.

121. But it is not enough to have brought us out of Egypt into freedom, and to have saved us from the house of bondage: a greater boon than this, Thou hast given Thyself for us. Thou wilt say then: “Have I not borne all your sufferings?20672067    Isa. liii. 4. Have I not given My Body for you? Have I not sought death, which had no part in My Godhead, but was necessary for your redemption? Are these the thanks I am to receive? Is it this that My Blood hath gained, even as I spake in times past by the mouth of the prophet: ‘What profit is there in My Blood, for that I have gone down to corruption?’20682068    Ps. xxx. 9. Is this the profit, that you should wickedly deny Me—you, for whom I endured those things?”

122. As for me, Lord Jesu, though I am conscious within myself of great sin, yet will I say: “I have not denied Thee; Thou mayest pardon the infirmity of my flesh. My transgression I confess; my sin I deny not.20692069    Ps. xxxii. 5; li. 3. If Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean.20702070    S. Matt. viii. 2. For this saying, the leper obtained his request. Enter not, I pray, into judgment with Thy servant.20712071    Ps. cxliii. 2. I ask, not that Thou mayest judge, but that Thou mayest forgive.”


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