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Chapter I.

St. Ambrose now goes back to the address of Liberius when he gave the veil to Marcellina. Touching on the crowds pressing to the bridal feast of that Spouse Who feeds them all, he passes on to the fitness of her profession on the day on which Christ was born of a Virgin, and concludes with a fervent exhortation to love Him.

1. Inasmuch as I have digressed in what I have said in the two former hooks, it is now time, holy sister, to reconsider those precepts of Liberius32553255    This is Liberius, Bishop of Rome a.d. 352–366, who temporized with Arianism. [St. Hil. Pict. Fragm. VI.; St. Athan. Apol. C. Arian. 89; Hist. Arian. 41; St. Jerome, De Vir. Ill. 97, etc.] He subsequently returned to the Catholic teaching and atoned by later acts for his temporary weakness. of blessed memory which you used to talk over with me, as the holier the man the more pleasing is his discourse. For he, when on the Nativity of the Saviour in the Church of St. Peter you signified your profession of virginity by your change of attire32563256    Evidently a public profession with receiving the veil, etc. (and what day could be better than that on which the Virgin received her child?) whilst many virgins were standing round and vying with each other for your companionship. “You,” said he, “my daughter, have desired a good espousal. You see how great a crowd has come together for the birthday of your Spouse, and none has gone away without food. This is He, Who, when invited to the marriage feast, changed water into wine.32573257    S. John ii. 9. He, too, will confer the pure sacrament of virginity on you who before were subject to the vile elements of material nature. This is He Who fed four thousand in the wilderness with five loaves and two fishes.”32583258    S. Luke ix. 13. He could have fed more; if more had been there to be fed, they would have been. And now He has called many to your espousal, but it is not now barley bread, but the Body from heaven which is supplied.

2. To-day, indeed, He was born after the manner of men, of a Virgin, but was begotten of the Father before all things, resembling His mother in body, His Father in power. Only-begotten on earth, and Only-begotten in heaven. God of God, born of a Virgin, Righteousness from the Father, Power from the Mighty One, Light of Light, not unequal to His Father; nor separated in power, not confused by extension of the Word or enlargement as though mingled with the Father, but distinguished from the Father by virtue of His generation. He is your Brother,32593259    Cant. v. 1. without Whom neither things in heaven, nor things in the sea, nor things on earth consist. The good Word of the Father, Which was, it is said, “in the beginning,”32603260    S. John i. 1. here you have His eternity. “And,” it is said, “the Word was with God.”32613261    S. John i. 1. Here you have His power, undivided and inseparable from the Father. “And the Word was God.”32623262    S. John i. 1. Here you have His unbegotten Godhead, for your faith is to be drawn from the mutual relationship.

3. Love him, my daughter, for He is good. For, “None is good save God only.”32633263    S. Luke xviii. 19. For if there be no doubt that the Son is God, and that God is good, there is certainly no doubt that God the Son is good. Love Him I say. He it is Whom the Father begat before the morning star,32643264    Ps. cx. [cix.] 3. as being eternal, He brought Him forth from the womb as the Son; He uttered him from His heart,32653265    Ps. xlv. [xliv.] 1. as the Word. He it is in Whom the Father is well pleased;32663266    S. Matt. xvii. 5. He is the Arm of the Father, for He is Creator of all, and the Wisdom32673267    1 Cor. i. 30. of the Father, for He proceeded from the mouth of God;32683268    Wisd. xxiv. 3. the Power of the Father, because the fulness of the Godhead dwelleth in Him bodily.32693269    Col. ii. 9. And the Father so loved Him, as to bear Him in His bosom, and place Him at His right hand, that you may learn His wisdom, and know His power.

4. If, then, Christ is the Power of God, was God ever without power? Was the Father ever without the Son? If the Father of a certainty always was, of a certainty the Son always was. So He is the perfect Son of a perfect Father. For he who derogates from the power, derogates from Him Whose is the power. The Perfection of the Godhead does not admit of inequality. Love, then, Him Whom the Father loves, honour Him Whom the Father honours, for “he that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father,”32703270    S. John v. 23. and “whoso denieth the Son, hath not the Father.”32713271    1 John ii. 23. So much as to the faith.


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