Fathers of the Church
Exposition of the Christian Faith, Books I-III
by Ambrose in 377-380 | translated by H. De Romestin, M.A
[The author praises Gratian's zeal for instruction in the Faith, and speaks lowly of his own merits. Taught of God Himself, the Emperor stands in no need of human instruction; yet this his devoutness prepares the way to victory. The task appointed to the author is difficult: in the accomplishment whereof he will be guided not so much by reason and argument as by authority, especially that of the Nicene Council.]
1. The Queen of the South, as we read in the Book of the Kings, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon. Likewise King Hiram sent to Solomon that he might prove him. So also your sacred Majesty, following these examples of old time, has decreed to hear my confession of faith. But I am no Solomon, that you should wonder at my wisdom, and your Majesty is not the sovereign of a single people; it is the Augustus, ruler of the whole world, that has commanded the setting forth of the Faith in a book, not for your instruction, but for your approval.
2. For why, august Emperor, should your Majesty learn that Faith which, from your earliest childhood, you have ever devoutly and lovingly kept? "Before I formed thee in thy mother's belly I knew thee," saith the Scripture, "and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee." Sanctification, therefore, cometh not of tradition, but of inspiration; therefore keep watch over the gifts of God. For that which no man hath taught you, God hath surely given and inspired.
3. Your sacred Majesty, being about to go forth to war, requires of me a book, expounding the Faith, since your Majest knows that victories are gained more by faith in the commander, than by valour in the soldiers. For Abraham led into battle three hundred and eighteen men, and brought home the spoils of countless foes; and having, by the power of that which was the sign of our Lord's Cross and Name, overcome the might of five kings and conquering hosts, he both avenged his neighbour and gained victory and the ransom of his brother's son. So also Joshua the son of Nun, when he could not prevail against the enemy with the might of all his army, overcame by sound of seven sacred trumpets, in the place where he saw and knew the Captain of the heavenly host. For victory, then, your Majesty makes ready, being Christ's loyal servant and defender of the Faith, which you would have me set forth in writing.
4. Truly, I would rather take upon me the duty of exhortation to keep the Faith, than that of disputing thereon; for the former means devout confession, whereas the latter is liable to rash presumption. Howbeit, forasmuch as your Majesty has no need of exhortation, whilst I may not pray to be excused from the duty of loyalty, I will take in hand a bold enterprise, yet modestly withal, not so much reasoning and disputing concerning the Faith as gathering together a multitude of witness.
5. Of the Acts of Councils, I shall let that one be my chief guide which three hundred and eighteen priests, appointed, as it were, after the judgment of Abraham, made (so to speak) a trophy raised to proclaim their victory over the infidel throughout the world, prevailing by that courage of the Faith, wherein all agreed. Verily, as it seems to me, one may herein see the hand of God, forasmuch as the same number is our authority in the Councils of the Faith, and an example of loyalty in the records of old.
[The author distinguishes the faith from the errors of Pagans, Jews, and Heretics, and after explaining the significance of the names "God" and "Lord," shows clearly the difference of Persons in Unity of Essence. In dividing the Essence, the Arians not only bring in the doctrine of three Gods, but even overthrow the dominion of the Trinity.]
6. Now this is the declaration of our Faith, that we say that God is One, neither dividing His Son from Him, as do the heathen, nor denying, with the Jews, that He was begotten of the Father before all worlds, and afterwards born of the Virgin; nor yet, like Sabellius, confounding the Father with the Word, and so maintaining that Father and Son are one and the same Person; nor again, as doth Photinus, holding that the Son first came into existence in the Virgin's womb: nor believing, with Arius, in a number of diverse Powers, and so, like the benighted heathen, making out more than one God. For it is written: "Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one God."
7. For God and Lord is a name of majesty, a name of power, even as God Himself saith: "The Lord is My name," and as in another place the prophet declareth: "The Lord Almighty is His name." God is He, therefore, and Lord, either because His rule is over all, or because He beholdeth all things, and is feared by all, without difference.
8. If, then, God is One, one is the name, one is the power, of the Trinity. Christ Himself, indeed, saith: "Go ye, baptize the nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit." In the name, mark you, not in the names."
9. Moreover, Christ Himself saith: "I and the Father are One." "One," said He, that there be no separation of power and nature; but again, "We are," that you may recognize Father and Son, forasmuch as the perfect Father is believed to have begotten the perfect Son, and the Father and the Son are One, not by confusion of Person, but by unity of nature.
10. We say, then, that there is one God, not two or three Gods, this being the error into which the impious heresy of the Arians doth run with its blasphemies. For it says that there are three Gods, in that it divides the Godhead of the Trinity; whereas the Lord, in saying, "Go, baptize the nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit," hath shown that the Trinity is of one power. We confess Father, Son, and Spirit, understanding in a perfect Trinity both fulness of Divinity and unity of power.
11. "Every kingdom divided against itself shall quickly be overthrown," saith the Lord. Now the kingdom of the Trinity is not divided. If, therefore, it is not divided, it is one; for that which is not one is divided. The Arians, however, would have the kingdom of the Trinity to be such as may easily be overthrown, by division against itself. But truly, seeing that it cannot be overthrown, it is plainly undivided. For no unity is divided or rent asunder, and therefore neither age nor corruption has any power over it.
[The Emperor is exhorted to display zeal in the Faith. Christ's perfect Godhead is shown from the unity of will and working which He has with the Father. The attributes of Divinity are shown to be proper to Christ, Whose various titles prove His essential unity, with distinction of Person. In no other way can the unity of God be maintained.]
12. "Not every one that saith unto Me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven," saith the Scripture. Faith, therefore, august Sovereign, must not be a mere matter of performance, for it is written, "The zeal of thine house hath devoured me." Let us then with faithful spirit and devout mind call upon Jesus our Lord, let us believe that He is God, to the end that whatever we ask of the Father, we may obtain in His name. For the Father's will is, that He be entreated through the Son, the Son's that the Father be entreated.
13. The grace of His submission makes for agreement[with our teaching], and the acts of His power are not at variance therewith. For whatsoever things the Father doeth, the same also doeth the Son, in like manner. The Son both doeth the same things, and doeth them in like manner, but it is the Father's will that He be entreated in the matter of what He Himself proposeth to do, that you may understand, not that He cannot do it otherwise, but that there is one power displayed. Truly, then, is the Son of God to be adored and worshipped, Who by the power of His Godhead hath laid the foundations of the world, and by His submission informed our affections.
14. Therefore we ought to believe that God is good, eternal, perfect, almighty, and true, such as we find Him in the Law and the Prophets, and the rest of the holy Scriptures, for otherwise there is no God. For He Who is God cannot but be good, seeing that fulness of goodness is of the nature of God: nor can God, Who made time, be in time; nor, again, can God be imperfect, for a lesser being is plainly imperfect, seeing that it lacks somewhat whereby it could be made equal to a greater. This, then, is the teaching of our faith—that God is not evil, that with God nothing is impossible, that God exists not in time, that God is beneath no being. If I am in error, let my adversaries prove it.
15. Seeing, then, that Christ is God, He is, by consequence, good and almighty and eternal and perfect and true; for these attributes belong to the essential nature of the Godhead. Let our adversaries, therefore, deny the Divine Nature in Christ,-otherwise they cannot refuse to God what is proper to the Divine Nature.
16. Further, that none may fall into error, let a man attend to those signs vouchsafed us by holy Scripture, whereby we may know the Son. He is called the Word, the Son, the Power of God, the Wisdom of God. The Word, because He is without blemish; the Power, because He is perfect; the Son, because He is begotten of the Father; the Wisdom, because He is one with the Father, one in eternity, one in Divinity. Not that the Father is one Person with the Son; between Father and Son is the plain distinction that comes of generation; so that Christ is God of God, Everlasting of Everlasting, Fulness of Fulness.
17. Now these are not mere names, but signs of power manifesting itself in works for while there is fulness of Godhead in the Father, there is also fulness of Godhead in the Son, not diverse, but one. The Godhead is nothing confused, for it is an unity: nothing manifold, for in it there is no difference.
18. Moreover, if in all them that believed there was, as it is written, one soul and one heart: if every one that cleaveth to the Lord is one spirit, as the Apostle hath said: if a man and his wife are one flesh: if all we mortal men are, so far as regards our general nature, of one substance: if this is what the Scripture saith of created men, that, being many, they are one, who can in no way be compared to Divine Persons, how much more are the Father and the Son one in Divinity, with Whom there is no difference either of substance or of will!
19. For how else shall we say that God is One? Divinity maketh plurality, but unity of power debarreth quantity of number, seeing that unity is not number, but itself is the principle of all numbers.
[By evidence gathered from Scripture the unity of Father and Son is proved, and firstly, a passage, taken from the Book of Isaiah, is compared with others and expounded in such sort as to show that in the Son there is no diversity from the Father's nature, save only as regards the flesh; whence it follows that the Godhead of both Persons is One. This conclusion is confirmed by the authority of Baruch.]
20. Now the oracles of the prophets bear witness what close unity holy Scripture declares to subsist between the Father and the Son as regards their Godhead. For thus saith the Lord of Sabaoth: "Egypt hath laboured, and the commerce of the Ethiopians and Sabeans: mighty men shall come over to thee, and shall be thy servants, and in thy train shall they follow, bound in fetters, and they shall fall down before thee, and to thee shall they make supplication: for God is in thee, and there is no God beside thee. For thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of lsrael."
21. Hear the voice of the prophet: "In Thee," he saith, "is God, and there is no God beside Thee." How agreeth this with the Arians' teaching? They must deny either the Father's or the Son's Divinity, unless they believe, once for all, unity of the same Divinity.
22. "In Thee," saith he, "is God"—forasmuch as the Father is in the Son. For it is written, "The Father, Who abideth in Me, Himself speaketh," and "The works that I do, He Himself also doeth." And yet again we read that the Son is in the Father, saying, "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me." Let the Arians, if they can, make away with this kinship in nature and unity in work.
23. There is, therefore, God in God, but not two Gods; for it is written that there is one God, and there is Lord in Lord, but not two Lords, forasmuch as it is likewise written: "Serve not two lords." And the Law saith: "Hear, O lsrael! The Lord thy God is one God;" moreover, in the same Testament it is written: "The Lord rained from the Lord." The Lord, it is said, sent rain "from the Lord." So also you may read in Genesis: "And God said,—and God made," and, lower down, "And God made man in the image of God;" yet it was not two gods, but one God, that made[man]. In the one place, then, as in the other, the unity of operation and of name is maintained. For surely, when we read "God of God," we do not speak of two Gods.
24. Again, you may read in the forty-fourth psalm how the prophet not only calls the Father "God" but also proclaims the Son as God, saying: "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever." And further on: "God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows." This God Who anoints, and God Who in the flesh is anointed, is the Son of God. For what fellows in His anointing hath Christ, except such as are in the flesh? You see, then, that God is by God anointed, but being anointed in taking upon Him the nature of mankind, He is proclaimed the Son of God; yet is the principle of the Law not broken.
25. So again, when you read, "The Lord rained from the Lord," acknowledge the unity of Godhead, for unity in operation doth not allow of more than one individual God, even as the Lord Himself has shown, saying: "Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or believe Me for the very works' sake." Here, too, we see that unity of Godhead is signified by unity in operation.
26. The Apostle, careful to prove that there is one Godhead of both Father and Son, and one Lordship, lest we should run into any error, whether of heathen or of Jewish ungodliness, showed us the rule we ought to follow, saying: "One God, the Father, from Whom are all things, and we in Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him." For just as, in calling Jesus Christ "Lord," he did not deny that the Father was Lord, even so, in saying, "One God, the Father," he did not deny true Godhead to the Son, and thus he taught, not that there was more than one God, but that the source of power was one, forasmuch as Godhead consists in Lordship, and Lordship in Godhead, as it is written: "Be ye sure that the Lord, He is God. It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves."
27. "In thee," therefore, "is God," by unity of nature, and "there is no God beside Thee," by reason of personal possession of the Substance, without any reserve or difference.
28. Again, Scripture speaks, in the Book of Jeremiah, of One God, and yet acknowledges both Father and Son. Thus we read: "He is our God, and in comparison with Him none other shall be accounted of. He hath discovered all the way of teaching, and given it to Jacob, His servant, and to Israel, His beloved. After these things He appeared upon earth, and conversed with men."
29. The prophet speaks of the Son, for it was the Son Himself Who conversed with men, and this is what he says: "He is our God, and in comparison with Him none other shall be accounted of." Why do we call Him in question, of Whom so great a prophet saith that no other can be compared with Him? What comparison of another can be made, when the Godhead is One? This was the confession of a people set in the midst of dangers; reverencing religion, and therefore unskilled in strife of argument.
30. Come, Holy Spirit, and help Thy prophets, in whom Thou art wont to dwell, in whom we believe. Shall we believe the wise of this world, if we believe not the prophets? But where is the wise man, where is the scribe? When our peasant planted figs, he found that whereof the philosopher knew nothing, for God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the strong. Are we to believe the Jews? for God was once known in Jewry. Nay, but they deny that very thing, which is the foundation of our belief, seeing that they know not the Father, who have denied the Son.
[The Unity of God is necessarily implied in the order of Nature, in the Faith, and in Baptism. The gifts of the Magi declare the Unity of the Godhead; Christ's Godhead and Manhood. The truth of the doctrine o£ the Trinity in Unity is shown in the Angel walking in the midst of the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.]
31. All nature testifies to the Unity of God, inasmuch as the universe is one. The Faith declares that there is one God, seeing that there is one belief in both the Old and the New Testament. That there is one Spirit, all holy, grace witnesseth, because there is one Baptism, in the Name of the Trinity. The prophets proclaim, the apostles hear, the voice of one God. In one God did the Magi believe, and they brought, in adoration, gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Christ's cradle, confessing, by the gift of gold, His Royalty, and with the incense worshipping Him as God. For gold is the sign of kingdom, incense of God, myrrh of burial.
32. What, then, was the meaning of the mystic offerings in the lowly cattle-stalls, save that we should discern in Christ the difference between the Godhead and the flesh? He is seen as man, He is adored as Lord. He lies in swaddling-clothes, but shines amid the stars; the cradle shows His birth, the stars His dominion; it is the flesh that is wrapped in clothes, the Godhead that receives the ministry of angels. Thus the dignity of His natural majesty is not lost, and His true assumption of the flesh is proved.
33. This is our Faith. Thus did God will that He should be known by all, thus believed the three children, and felt not the fire into the midst whereof they were cast, which destroyed and burnt up unbelievers, whilst it fell harmless as dew upon the faithful, for whom the flames kindled by others became cold, seeing that the torment had justly lost its power in conflict with faith. For with them there was One in the form of an angel, comforting them, to the end that in the number of the Trinity one Supreme Power might be praised. God was praised, the Son of God was seen in God's angel, holy and spiritual grace spake in the children.
[The various blasphemies uttered by the Arians against Christ are cited. Before these are replied to, the orthodox are admonished to beware of the captious arguments of philosophers, forasmuch as in these especially did the heretics put their trust.]
34. Now let us consider the disputings of the Arians concerning the Son of God.
35. They say that the Son of God is unlike His Father. To say this of a man would be an insult.
36. They say that the Son of God had a beginning in time, whereas He Himself is the source and ordainer of time and all that therein is. We are men, and we would not be limited to time. We began to exist once, and we believe that we shall have a timeless existence. We desire after immortality—how, then, can we deny the eternity of God's Son, Whom God declares to be eternal by nature, not by grace?
37. They say that He was created. But who would reckon an author with his works, and have him seem to be what he has himself made?
38. They deny His goodness. Their blaspheming is its own condemnation, and so cannot hope for pardon.
39. They deny that He is truly Son of God, they deny His omnipotence, in that whilst they admit that all things are made by the ministry of the Son, they attribute the original source of their being to the power of God. But what is power, save perfection of nature?
40. Furthermore, the Arians deny that in Godhead He is One with the Father. Let them annul the Gospel, then, and silence the voice of Christ. For Christ Himself has said: "I and the Father are one." It is not I who say this: Christ has said it. Is He a deceiver, that He should lie? Is He unrighteous, that He should claim to be what He never was." But of these matters we will deal severally, at greater length, in their proper place.
41. Seeing, then, that the heretic says that Christ is unlike His Father, and seeks to maintain this by force of subtle disputation, we must cite the Scripture: "Take heed that no man make spoil of you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, and after the rudiments of this world, not according to Christ; for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of Godhead in bodily shape."
42. For they store up all the strength of their poisons in dialetical disputation, which by the judgment of philosophers is defined as having no power to establish aught, and aiming only at destruction. s But it was not by dialectic that it pleased God to save His people; "for the kingdom of God consisteth in simplicity of faith, not in wordy contention."
[By way of leading up to his proof that Christ is not different from the Father, St. Ambrose cites the more famous leaders of the Arian party, and explains how little their witness agrees, and shows what defence the Scriptures provide against them.]
43. The Arians, then, say that Christ is unlike the Father; we deny it. Nay, indeed, we shrink in dread from the word. Nevertheless I would not that your sacred Majesty should trust to argument and our disputation. Let us enquire of the Scriptures, of apostles, of prophets, of Christ. In a word, let us enquire of the Father, Whose honour these men say they uphold, if the Son be judged inferior to Him, But insult to the Son brings no honour to the good Father. It cannot please the good Father, if the Son be judged inferior, rather than equal, to His Father.
44. I pray your sacred Majesty to suffer me, if for a little while I address myself particularly to these men. But whom shall I choose out to cite? Eunomius? or Arius and Aetius, his instructors? For there are many names, but one unbelief, constant in wickedness, but in conversation divided against itself; without difference in respect of deceit, but in common enterprise breeding dissent. But wherefore they will not agree together I understand not.
45. The Arians reject the person of Eunomius, but they maintain his unbelief and walk in the ways of his iniquity. They say that he has too generously published the writings of Arius. Truly, a plentiful lavishing of error! They praise him who gave the command, and deny him who executed it! Wherefore they have now fallen apart into several sects. Some follow after Eunomius or Aetius, others after Palladius or Demophilus and Auxentius, or the inheritors of this form of unbelief. Others, again, follow different teachers. Is Christ, then, divided? Nay; but those who divide Him from the Father do with their own hands cut themselves asunder.
46. Seeing, therefore, that men who agree not amongst themselves have all alike conspired against the Church of God, I shall call those whom I have to answer by the common name of heretics. For heresy, like some hydra of fable, hath waxed great from its wounds, and, being ofttimes lopped short, hath grown afresh, being appointed to find meet destruction in flames of fire. Or, like some dread and monstrous Scylla, divided into many shapes of unbelief, she displays, as a mask to her guile, the pretence of being a Christian sect, but those wretched men whom she finds tossed to and fro in the waves of her unhallowed strait, amid the wreckage of their faith, she, girt with beastly monsters, rends with the cruel fang of her blasphemous doctrine.
47. This monster's cavern, your sacred Majesty, thick laid, as seafaring men do say it is, with hidden lairs, and all the neighbourhood thereof, where the rocks of unbelief echo to the howling of her black dogs, we must pass by with ears in a manner stopped. For it is written: "Hedge thine ears about with thorns ;" and again: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers;" and yet again: "A man that is an heretic, avoid after the first reproof, knowing that such an one is fallen, and is in sin, being condemned of his own judgment." So then, like prudent pilots, let us set the sails of our faith for the course wherein we may pass by most safely, and again follow the coasts of the Scriptures.
[The likeness of Christ to the Father is asserted on the authority of St. Paul, the prophets, and the Gospel, and especially in reliance upon the creation of man in God's image.]
48. The Apostle saith that Christ is the image of the Father—for he calls Him the image of the invisible God, the first-begotten of all creation. First-begotten, mark you, not first-created, in order that He may be believed to be both begotten, in virtue of His nature, and first in virtue of His eternity. In another place also the Apostle has declared that God made the Son "heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds, Who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His substance." The Apostle calls Christ the image of the Father, and Arius says that He is unlike the Father. Why, then, is He called an image, if He hath no likeness? Men will not have their portraits unlike them, and Arius contends that the Father is unlike the Son, and would have it that the Father has begotten one unlike Himself, as though unable to generate His like.
49. The prophets say: "In Thy light we shall see light;" and again: "Wisdom is the brightness of everlasting light, and the spotless mirror of God's majesty, the image of His goodness." See what great names are declared! "Brightness," because in the Son the Father's glory shines clearly: "spotless minor," because the Father is seen in the Son: "image of goodness," because it is not one body seen reflected in another, but the whole power [of the Godhead] in the Son. The word "image" teaches us that there is no difference; "expression," that He is the counterpart of the Father's form; and "brightness" declares His eternity. The "image" in truth is not that of a bodily countenance, not one made up of colours, nor modelled in wax, but simply derived from God, coming out from the Father, drawn from the fountainhead.
50. By means of this image the Lord showed Philip the Father. saying, "Philip, he that sees Me, sees the Father also. How then dost thou say, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?" Yes, he who looks upon the Son sees, in portrait, the Father. Mark what manner of portrait is spoken of. It is Truth, Righteousness, the Power of God: not dumb, for it is the Word; not insensible, for it is Wisdom; not vain and foolish, for it is Power; not soulless, for iris the Life; not dead, for it is the Resurrection. You see, then, that whilst an image is spoken of, the meaning is that it is the Father, Whose image the Son is, seeing that no one can be his own image.
51. More might I set down from the Son's testimony; howbeit, lest He perchance appear to have asserted Himself overmuch let us enquire of the Father. For the Father said, "Let us make man in Our image and likeness." The Father saith to the Son "in Our image and likeness," and thou sayest that the Son of God is unlike the Father.
52. John saith, "Beloved, we are sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: we know that if He be revealed, we shall be like Him." O blind madness O shameless obstinacy I We are men, and, so far as we may, we shall be in the likeness of God: dare we deny that the Son is like God?
53. Therefore the Father hath said: "Let us make man in Our image and likeness." At the beginning of the universe itself, as I read, the Father and the Son existed, and I see one creation. I hear Him that speaketh. I acknowledge Him that doeth: but it is of one image, one likeness, that I read. This likeness belongs not to diversity but to unity. What, therefore, thou claimest for thyself, thou takest from the Son of God, seeing, indeed, that thou canst not be in the image of God, save by help of the image of God.
[The likeness of the Son to the Father being proved, it is not hard to prove the Son's eternity, though, indeed, this may be established on the authority of the Prophet Isaiah and St. John the Evangelist, by which authority the heretical leaders are shown to be refuted.]
54. It is plain, therefore, that the Son is not unlike the Father, and so we may confess the more readily that He is also eternal, seeing that He Who is like the Eternal must needs be eternal. But if we say that the Father is eternal, and yet deny this of the Son, we say that the Son is unlike the Father, for the temporal differeth from the eternal. The Prophet proclaims Him eternal, and the Apostle proclaims Him eternal; the Testaments, Old and New alike, are full of witness to the Son's eternity.
55. Let us take them, then, in their order. In the Old Testament—to cite one out of a multitude of testimonies—it is written: "Before Me hath there been no other God, and after Me shall there be none." I will not comment on this place, but ask thee straight: "Who speaks these words,—the Father or the Son?" Whichever of the two thou sayest, thou wilt find thyself convinced, or, if a believer, instructed. Who, then, speaks these words, the Father or the Son? If it is the Son, He says, "Before Me hath there been no other God;" if the Father, He says, "After Me shall there be none." The One hath none before Him, the Other none that comes after; as the Father is known in the Son, so also is the Son known in the Father, for whensoever you speak of the Father, you speak also by implication of His Son, seeing that none is his own father; and when you name the Son, you do also acknowledge His Father, inasmuch as none can be his own son. And so neither can the Son exist without the Father, nor the Father without the Son. The Father, therefore, is eternal, and the Son also eternal.
56. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." "Was," mark you, "with God." "Was"—see, we have "was" four times over. Where did the blasphemer find it written that He "was not." Again, John, in another passage—in his Epistle—speaketh of "That which was in the beginning." The extension of the "was" is infinite. Conceive any length of time you will, yet still the Son "was."
57. Now in this short passage our fisherman hath barred the way of all heresy. For that which was "in the beginning" is not comprehended in time, is not preceded by any beginning. Let Arius, therefore, hold his peace. Moreover, that which was "with God" is not confounded and mingled with Him, but is distinguished by the perfection unblemished which it hath as the Word abiding with God; and so let Sabellius keep silence. And "the Word was God," This Word, therefore, consisteth not in uttered speech, but in the designation of celestial excellence, so that Photinus' teaching is refuted. Furthermore, by the fact that in the beginning He was with God is proven the indivisible unity of eternal Godhead in Father and Son, to the shame and confusion of Eunomius. Lastly, seeing that all things are said to have been made by Him, He is plainly shown to be author of the Old and of the New Testament alike; so that the Manichaean can find no ground for his assaults. Thus hath the good fisherman caught them all in one net, to make them powerless to deceive, albeit unprofitable fish to take.
[St. Ambrose questions the heretics and exhibits their answer, which is, that the Son existed, indeed, before all time, yet was not co-eternal with the Father, whereat the Saint shows that they represent the Godhead as changeable, and further, that each Person must be believed to be eternal.]
58. Tell me, thou heretic,—for the surpassing clemency of the Emperor grants me this indulgence of addressing thee for a short space, not that I desire to confer with thee, or am greedy to hear thy arguments, but because I am willing to exhibit them,—tell me, I say, whether there was ever a time when God Almighty was not the Father, and yet was God. "I say nothing about time," is thy answer. Well and subtly objected! For if thou bringest time into the dispute, thou wilt condemn thyself, seeing that thou must acknowledge that there was a time when the Son was not, whereas the Son is the ruler and creator of time. He cannot have begun to exist after His own work. Thou, therefore, must needs allow Him to be the ruler and maker of His work.
59. "I do not say," answerest thou, "that the Son existed not before time;" but when I call Him "Son," I declare that His Father existed before Him, for, as you say, father exists before son." But what means this? Thou deniest that time was before the Son, and yet thou wilt have it that something preceded the existence of the Son—some creature of time, —and thou showest certain stages of generation intervening, whereby thou dost give us to understand that the generation from the Father was a process in time. For if He began to be a Father, then, in the first instance, He was God, and afterwards He became a Father. How, then, is God unchangeable? For if He was first God, and then the Father, surely He has undergone change by reason of the added and later act of generation.
60. But may God preserve us from this madness; for it was but to confute the impiety of the heretics that we brought in this question. The devout spirit affirms a generation that is not in time and so declares Father and Son to be co-eternal, and does not maintain that God has ever suffered change.
61. Let Father and Son, therefore, be associated in worship, even as They are associated in Godhead; let not blasphemy put asunder those whom the close bond of generation hath joined together. Let us honour the Son, that we may honour the Father also, as it is written in the Gospel. The Son's eternity is the adornment of the Father's majesty. If the Son hath not been from everlasting, then the Father hath suffered change; but the Son is from all eternity, therefore hath the Father never changed, for He is always unchangeable. And thus we see that they who would deny the Son's eternity would teach that the Father is mutable.
[Christ's eternity being proved from the Apostle's teaching, St. Ambrose admonishes us that the Divine Generation is not to be thought of alter the fashion of human procreation, nor to be too curiously pried into. With the difficulties thence arising he refuses to deal, saying that whats ever terms, taken from our knowledge of body, are used in speaking of this Divine Generation, must be understood with a spiritual meaning.]
65. Hear now another argument, showing clearly the eternity of the Son. The Apostle says that God's Power and Godhead are eternal, and that Christ is the Power of God—for it is written that Christ is "the Power of God and the Wisdom of God." If, then, Christ is the Power of God, it follows that, forasmuch as God's Power is eternal, Christ also is eternal.
63. Thou canst not, then, heretic, build up a false doctrine from the custom of human procreation, nor yet gather the wherewithal for such work from our discourse, for we cannot compass the greatness of infinite Godhead, "of Whose greatness there is no end," in our straitened speech. If thou shouldst seek to give an account of a man's birth, thou must needs point to a time. But the Divine Generation is above all things; it reaches far and wide, it rises high above all thought and feeling. For it is written: "No man cometh to the Father, save by Me." Whatsoever, therefore, thou dost conceive concerning the Father—yea, be it even His eternity—thou canst not conceive aught concerning Him save by the Son's aid, nor can any understanding ascend to the Father save through the Son. "This is My dearly-beloved Son,"s the Father saith. "Is" mark you—He Who is, what He is, forever. Hence also David is moved to say: "O Lord, Thy Word abideth for ever in heaven,"—for what abideth fails neither in existence nor in eternity.
64. Dost thou ask me how He is a Son, if He have not a Father existing before Him? I ask of thee, in turn, when, or how, thinkest thou that the Son was begotten. For me the knowledge of the mystery of His generation is more than I can attain to,—the mind fails, the voice is dumb—ay, and not mine alone, but the angels' also. It is above Powers, above Angels, above Cherubim, Seraphim, and all that has feeling and thought, for it is written: "The peace of Christ, which passeth all understanding." If the peace of Christ passes all understanding, how can so wondrous a generation but be above all understanding?
65. Do thou, then (like the angels), cover thy face with thy hands, for it is not given thee to look into surpassing mysteries I We are suffered to know that the Son is begotten, not to dispute upon the manner of His begetting. I cannot deny the one; the other I fear to search into, for if Paul says that the words which he heard when caught up into the third heaven might not be uttered, how can we explain the secret of this generation from and of the Father, which we can neither hear nor attain to with our understanding?
66. But if you will constrain me to the rule of human generation, that you may be allowed to say that the Father existed before the Son, then consider whether instances, taken from the generation of earthly creatures, are suitable to show forth the Divine Generation. If we speak according to what is customary amongst men, you cannot deny that, in man, the changes in the father's existence happen before those in the son's. The father is the first to grow, to enter old age, to grieve, to weep. If, then, the son is after him in time, he is older in, experience than the son. If the child comes to be born, the parent escapes not the shame of begetting.
67. Why take such delight in that rack of questioning? You hear the name of the Son of God; abolish it, then, or acknowledge His true nature. You hear speak of the womb—acknowledge the truth of undoubted begetting. Of His heart—know that here is God's word. Of H is right hand—confess His power. Of His face—acknowledge His wisdom. These words are not to be understood, when we speak of God, as when we speak of bodies. The generation of the Son is incomprehensible, the Father begets impassibly, and yet of Himself and in ages inconceivably remote hath very God begotten very God. The Father loves the Son, and you anxiously examine His Person; the Father is well. pleased in Him, you, joining the Jews, look upon Him with an evil eye; the Father knows the Son, and you join the heathen in reviling Him.
[It cannot be proved from Scripture that the Father existed before the Son, nor yet can arguments taken from human reproduction avail to this end, since they bring in absurdities without end. To dare to affirm that Christ began to exist in the course of time is the height of blasphemy.]
68. You ask me whether it is possible that He Who is the Father should not be prior in existence. I ask you to tell me when the Father existed, the Son as yet being not; prove this, gather it from argument or evidence of Scripture. If you lean upon arguments, you have doubtless been taught that God's power is eternal. Again, you have read the Scripture that saith: "O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto Me, there shall be no new God in thee, neither shalt thou worship a strange God." The first of these commands betokens [the Son's] eternity, the second His possession of an identical nature, so that we can neither believe Him to have come into existence after the Father, nor suppose Him the Son of another Divinity. For if He existed not always with the Father, He is a "new" [God]; if He is not of one Divinity with the Father, He is a "strange" [God]. But He is not after the Father, for He is not "a new God;" nor is He "a strange God," for He is begotten of the Father, and because, as it is written, He is "God above all, blessed for ever."
69. But if the Arians believe Him to be a strange God, why do they worship Him, when it is written: "Thou shall worship no strange God"? Else, if they do not worship the Son, let them confess thereto, and the case is at an end,—that they deceive no one by their professions of religion. This, then, we see, is the witness of the Scriptures. If you have any others to produce, it will be your business to do so.
70. Let us now go further, and gather the truth in conclusion from arguments. For although arguments usually give place, even to human evidence, 2 still, heretic, argue as thou wilt. "Experience teaches us," you say, "that the being which generates is prior to that which is generated." I answer: Follow our customary experience through all its departments, and if the rest agree herewith, I oppose not your claim that your point be granted; but if there be no such agreement, how can you claim assent on this one point, when in all the rest you lack support? Seeing, then, that you call for what is customary, it comes about that the Son, when He was begotten of the Father, was a little child. You have seen Him an infant, crying in the cradle. As the years passed, He has gone forward from strength to strength—for if He was weak with the weakness of things begotten, He must also have fallen under the weakness, not only of birth, but of life also.
71. But perchance you run to such a pitch of folly as not to flinch from asserting these things of the Son of God, measuring Him, as you do, by the rule of human infirmity. What, then, if, while you cannot refuse Him the name of God, you are bent to prove Him, by reason of weakness, to be a man? What if, whilst you examine the Person of the Son, you are calling the Father in question, and whilst you hastily pass sentence upon the Former, you include the Latter in the same condemnation!
72. If the Divine Generation has been subject to the limits of time,— if we suppose this, borrowing from the custom of human generation, then it follows, further, that the Father bare the Son in a bodily womb, and laboured under the burden whilst ten months sped their courses. But how can generation, as it commonly takes place, be brought about without the help of the other sex? You see that the common order of generation was not the commencement, and you think that the courses of generation, which are ruled by certain necessities whereunto bodies are subject, have always prevailed. You require the customary course, I ask for difference of sex: you demand the supposition of time, I that of order: you enquire into the end, I into the beginning. Now surely it is the end that depends on the beginning, not the beginning on the end.
73. "Everything," say you, "that is begotten has a beginning, and therefore because the Son is the Son, He has a beginning, and came first into existence within limits of time. Let this be taken as the word of their own mouth; as for myself, I confess that the Son is begotten, but the rest of their declaration makes me shudder. Man, dost thou confess God, and diminish His honour by such slander? From this madness may God deliver us.
[Further objections to the Godhead of the Son are met by the same answer—to wit, that they may equally be urged against the Father also. The Father, then, being in no way confined by time, place, or anything else created, no such limitation is to be imposed upon the Son, Whose marvellous generation is not only of the Father, but of the Virgin also, and therefore, since in His generation of the Father no distinction of sex, or the like, was involved, neither was it in His generation of the Virgin.]
74. The next objection is this: "If the Son has not those properties which all sons have, He is no Son." May Father, Son, and Holy Spirit pardon me, for I would propound the question in all devoutness. Surely the Father is, and abides for ever: created things, too, are as God hath ordained them. Is there any one, then, amongst these creatures which is not subject to the limitations of place, time, or the fact of having been created, or to some originating cause or creator, Surely, none. What, then? Is there any one of them whereof the Father stands in need? So to say were blasphemy. Cease, then, to apply to the Godhead what is proper only to created existences, or, if you insist upon forcing the comparison, bethink you whither your wickedness leads. God forbid that we should even behold the end thereof.
75. We maintain the answer given by piety. God is Almighty, and therefore God the Father needs none of those things, for in Him there is no changing, nor any place for such help as we need, we whose weakness is supported by means of things of this kind. But He Who is Almighty, plainly He is uncreate, and not confined to any place, and surpasses time. Before God was not anything—nay, even to speak about anything being before God is a grave sin. If, then, you grant that in the nature of God the Father there is nought that implies a being sustained, because He is God, it follows that nothing of this sort can be supposed to exist in the Son of God, nothing that connotes a beginning, or growth, forasmuch as He is "very God of very God."
76. Seeing, then, that we find not the customary order prevailing, be content, Arian, to believe in a miraculous generation of the Son. Be content, I say, and if you believe me not, at least have respect unto the voice of God saying, "To whom have ye esteemed Me to be like?" and again: "God is not like a man that He should repent." If, indeed, God works mysteriously, seeing that He doth not work any work, or fashion anything, or bring it to completion, by labor of hands, or in any course of days, "for He spake, and they were made; He gave the word and they were created," why should we not believe that He Whom we acknowledge as a Creator, mysteriously working, discerning it in His works, also begat His Son in a mysterious manner? Surely it is fitting that He should be regarded as having begotten the Son in a special and mysterious way. Let Him Who hath the grace of majesty unrivalled likewise have the glory of mysterious generation.
77. Not only Christ's generation of the Father, but His birth also of the Virgin, demands our wonder. You say that the former is like unto the manner wherein we men are conceived. I will show—nay more, I will compel you yourself to confess, that the latter also hath no likeness to the manner of our birth. Tell me how it was that He was born of Mary, with what law did His conception in a Virgin's womb agree, how there could be any birth without the seed of a man, how a maiden could become great with child, how she became a mother before experience of such intercourse as is between wives and husbands. There was no [visible] cause,—and yet a son was begotten. How, then, came about this birth, under a new law?
78. If, then, the common order of human generation was not found in the case of the Virgin Mary, how can you demand that God the Father should beget in such wise as you were begotten in? Surely the common order is determined by difference of sex; for this is implanted in the nature of our flesh, but where flesh is not, how can you expect to find the infirmity of flesh? No man calls in question one who is better than he is: to believe is enjoined upon you, without permission to question. For it is written, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness." Language is vain to set forth, not only the generation of the Son, but even the works of God, for it is written: "All His works are executed in faithfulness;" His works, then, are done in faithfulness, but not His generation? Ay, we call in question that which we see not, we who are bidden to believe rather than enquire of that we see.
[Discussion of the Divine Generation is continued. St. Ambrose illustrates its method by the same example as that employed by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The duty of believing what is revealed is shown by the example of Nebuchadnezzar and St. Peter. By the vision granted to St. Peter was shown the Son's Eternity and Godhead—the Apostle, then, must be believed in preference to the teachers of philosophy, whose authority was everywhere falling into discredit. The Arians, on the other hand, are shown to be like unto the heathen.]
79. It will be asked: "In what sort was the Son begotten?" As one who is for ever, as the Word, as the brightness of eternal light, for brightness takes effect in the instant of its coming into existence. Which example is the Apostle's, not mine. Think not, then, that there was ever a moment of time when God was without wisdom, any more than that there was ever a time when light was without radiance. Judge not, Arian, divine things by human, but believe the divine where thou findest not the human.
80. The heathen king saw in the fire, together with the three Hebrew children, the form of a fourth, like as of an angel, and because he thought that this angel excelled all angels, he judged Him to be the Son of God, Whom he had not read of, but in Whom he believed. Abraham, also, saw Three and adored One. 81. Peter, when he saw Moses and Elias on the mountain, with the Son of God, was not deceived as to their nature and glory. For he enquired, not of them, but of Christ what he ought to do, inasmuch as though he prepared to do homage to all three, yet he waited for the command of one. But since he ignorantly thought that for three persons three tabernacles should be set up, he was corrected by the sovereign voice of God the Father, saying, "This is My dearly beloved Son: hear ye Him." That is to say: "Why dost thou join thy fellow-servants in equality with thy Lord? "This is My Son." Not "Moses is My Son," nor "Elias is My Son," but "This is My Son." The Apostle was not dull to understand the rebuke; he fell on his face brought low by the Father's voice and the glorious beauty of the Son, but he was raised up by the Son, Whose wont it is to raise up them that are fallen. Then he saw one only, the Son of God alone, for the servants had withdrawn, that He might be seen to be Lord alone, Who alone was entitled Son.
82. What, then, was the purpose of that vision, which signified not that Christ and His servants were equal, but betokened a mystery, save that it should be made plain to us that the Law and the Prophets, in agreement with the Gospel, revealed as eternal the Son of God, Whom they had heralded. When we, therefore, hear of the Son coming forth of the womb, the Word from the heart, let us believe that the Son was not fashioned-with hands but begotten of the Father, not the work of a craftsman but the offspring of a parent.
83. He, therefore, Who said, "This is My Son," said not, "This is a creature of time," nor "This being is of My creation, My making, My servant," but "This is My Son, Whom ye see glorified." This is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, Who appeared to Moses in the bush, concerning Whom Moses saith, "He Who is hath sent me." It was not the Father Who spake to Moses in the bush or in the desert, but the Son. It was of this Moses-that Stephen said, "This is He Who was in the church, in the wilderness, with the Angel." This, then, is He Who gave the Law, Who spake with Moses, saying, "I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob." This, then, is the God of the patriarchs, this is the God of the prophets.
84. It is of the Son, therefore, that we read, thy mind understandeth the reading, let thy tongue make confession. Away with arguments, where faith is required; now let dialectic hold her peace, even in the midst of her schools. I ask not what it is that philosophers say, but I would know what they do. They sit desolate in their schools. See the victory of faith over argument. They who dispute subtly are forsaken daily by their fellows; they who with simplicity believe are daily increased. Not philosophers but fishermen, not masters of dialectic but taxi-gatherers, now find credence. The one sort, through pleasures and luxuries, have bound the world's burden upon themselves; the other, by fasting and mortification, have cast it off, and so doth sorrow now begin to win over more followers than pleasure.
85. Let us now see how far Arians and pagans do differ. The latter call upon gods, who are different in sex and unequal in power; the former affirm a Trinity where there is likewise inequality of power and diversity of Godhead. The pagans assert that their Gods began to exist once upon a time; the Arians lyingly declare that Christ began to exist in the course of time. Have they not all dyed their impiety in the vats of philosophy? But indeed the pagans do extol that which they worship, the Arians maintain that the Son of God, Who is God, is a creature.
[That the Son of God is not a created being is proved by the following arguments: That He commanded not that the Gospel should be preached to Himself; that a created being is given over unto vanity; that the Son has created all things; that we read of Him as begotten; and that the difference of generation and adoption has always been understood in those places where both natures —the divine and the human—are declared to co-exist in Him. All of which testimony is confirmed by the Apostle's interpretation.]
86. It is now made plain, as I believe, your sacred Majesty, that the Lord Jesus is neither unlike the Father, nor one that began to exist in course of time. We have yet to confute another blasphemy, and to show that the Son of God is not a created being. Herein is the quickening word that we read as our help, for we have heard the passage read where the Lord saith: "Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to all creation." He Who saith "all creation" excepts nothing. How, then, do they stand who call Christ a "creature"? If He were a creature, could He have commanded that the Gospel should be preached to Himself? It is not, therefore, a creature, but the Creator, Who commits to His disciples the work of teaching created beings.
87. Christ, then, is no created being; for "created beings are," as the Apostle hath said, "given over to vanity." Is Christ given over unto vanity? Again, "creation"—according to the same Apostle—"groans and travails together even until now." What, then? Doth Christ take any part in this groaning and travailing—He Who hath set us miserable mourners free from death? "Creation," saith the Apostle, "shall be set free from the slavery of corruption." We see, then, that between creation and its Lord there is a vast difference for creation is enslaved, but "the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom."
88. Who was it that led first into this error, of declaring Him Who created and made all things to be a creature? Did the Lord, I would ask, create Himself? We read that "all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made." This being so, did He make Himself? We real—and who shall deny?—that in wisdom hath God made all things. If so, how can we suppose that wisdom was made in itself?
89. We read that the Son is begotten, inasmuch as the Father saith: "I brought thee forth from the womb before the morning star" We read of the "first-born" Son, of the "only-begotten"—first-born, because there is none before Him; only-begotten, because there is none after Him. Again, we read: "Who shall declare His generation?" "Generation," mark you, not "creation." What argument can be brought to meet testimonies so great and mighty as these?
90. Moreover, God's Son discovers the difference between generation and grace when He says: "I go up to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God." He did not say, "I go up to our Father," but "I go up to My Father and your Father." This distinction is the sign of a difference, inasmuch as He Who is Christ's Father is our Creator.
91. Furthermore He said, "to My God and your God," because although He and the Father are One, and the Father is His Father by possession of the same nature, whilst God began to be our Father through the office of the Son, not by virtue of nature, but of grace—still He seems to point us here to the existence in Christ of both natures, Godhead and Manhood,—Godhead of His Father, Manhood of His Mother, the former being before all things, the latter derived from the Virgin. For the first, speaking as the Son, He called God His Father, and afterward, speaking as man, named Him as God.
92. Everywhere, indeed, we have witness in the Scriptures to show that Christ, in naming God as His God, does so as man. "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? " And again: "From My mother's womb Thou art My God." In the former place He suffers as a man; in the latter it is a man who is brought forth from his mother's womb. And so when He says, "From My mother's womb Thou art My God," He means that He Who was always His Father is His God from the moment when He was brought forth from His Mother's womb.
93. Seeing, then, that we read in the Gospel, in the Apostle, in the Prophets, of Christ as begotten, how dare the Arians to say that He was created or made? But, indeed, they ought to have bethought them, where they have read of Him as created, where as made. For it has been plainly shown that the Son of God is begotten of God, born of God—let them, then, consider with care where they have read that He was made, seeing that He was not made God, but born as God, the Son of God; afterward, however, He was, according to the flesh, made man of Mary.
94. "But when the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law." "His Son," observe, not as one of many, not as His in common with another, but His own, and in saying "His Son," the Apostle showed that it is of the Son's nature that His generation is eternal. Him the Apostle has affirmed to have been afterwards "made" of a woman, in order that the making might be understood not of the Godhead, but of the putting on of a body—"made of a woman," then, by taking on of flesh; "made under the Law" through observance of the Law. Howbeit, the former, the spiritual generation is before the Law was, the latter is after the Law.
[An explanation of Acts ii. 36 and Proverbs viii. 22, which are shown to refer properly to Christ's manhood alone.]
95. To no purpose, then, is the heretics' customary citation of the Scripture, that "God made Him both Lord and Christ." Let these ignorant persons read the whole passage, and understand it. For thus it is written. "God made this Jesus, Whom ye crucified, both Lord and Christ." It was not the Godhead, but the flesh, that was crucified. This, indeed, was possible, cause the flesh allowed of being crucified. It follows not, then, that the Son of God is a created being.
96. Let us despatch, then, that passage also, which they do use to misrepresent,-let them learn what is the sense of the words, "The Lord created Me." It is not "the Father created," but "the Lord created Me." The flesh acknowledgeth its Lord, praise declareth the Father: our created nature confesseth the first, loveth, knoweth the latter. Who, then, cannot but perceive that these words announce the Incarnation? Thus the Son speaketh of Himself as created in respect of that wherein he witnesseth to Himself as being man, when He says, "Why seek ye to kill Me, a man, Who have told you the truth?" He speaketh of His Manhood, wherein He was crucified, and died, and was buried.
97. Furthermore, there is no doubt but that the writer set down as past that which was to come; for this is the usage of prophecy, that things to come are spoken of as though they were already present or past. For example, in the twenty-first psalm you have read: "Fat bulls(of Bashan) have beset me," and again: "They parted My garments among them." This the Evangelist showeth to have been spoken prophetically of the time of the Passion, for to God the things that are to come are present, and for Him Who foreknoweth all things, they are as though they were past and over; as it is written, "Who hath made the things that are to be."
98. It is no wonder that He should declare His place to have been set fast before all worlds, seeing that the Scripture tells us that He was foreordained before the times and ages. The following passage discovers how the words in question present themselves as a true prophecy of the Incarnation: "Wisdom hath built her an house, and set up seven pillars to support it, and she hath slain her victims. She hath mingled her wine in the bowl, and made ready her table, and sent her servants, calling men together with a mighty voice of proclamation, saying: 'He who is simple, let him turn in to me.'"Do we not see, in the Gospel, that all these things were fulfilled after the Incarnation, in that Christ discIosed the mysteries of the Holy Supper, sent forth His apostles, and cried with a loud voice, saying, "If any man thirst, let him come to Me and drink." That which followeth, then, answereth to that which went before, and we behold the whole story of the Incarnation set forth in brief by prophecy.
99. Many other passages might readily be seen to be prophecies of this sort concerning the Incarnation, but I will not delay over books, lest the treatise appear too wordy.
[The Arians blaspheme Christ, if by the words "created" and "begotten" they mean and understand one and the same thing. If, however, they regard the words as distinct in meaning, they must not speak of Him, of Whom they have read that He was begotten, as if He were a created being. This rule is upheld by the witness of St. Paul, who, professing himself a servant of Christ, forbade worship of a created being. God being a substance pure and uncompounded, there is no created nature in Him; furthermore, the Son is not to be degraded to the level of things created, seeing that in Him the Father is well pleased.]
100. Now will I enquire particularly of the Arians, whether they think that begotten and created are one and the same. If they call them the same, then is there no difference betwixt generation and creation. It follows then, that forasmuch as we also are created there is between us and Christ and the elements no difference. Thus much, however, great as their madness is, they will not venture to say.
101. Furthermore—to concede that which is no truth, to their folly-I ask them, if there is, as they think, no difference in the words, why do they not call upon Him Whom they worship by the better title? Why do they not avail themselves of the Father's word? Why do they reject the title of honour, and use a dishonouring name?
102. If, however, there is—as I think there is—a distinction between "created" and "begotten," then, when we have read that He is begotten, we shall surely not understand the same by the terms "begotten" and "created." Let them therefore confess Him to be begotten of the Father, born of the Virgin, or let them say how the Son of God can be both begotten and created. A single nature, above all, the Divine Being, rejects strife(within itself).
103. But in any case let our private judgment pass: let us enquire of Paul, who, filled with the Spirit of God, and so foreseeing these questionings, hath given sentence against pagans in general and Arians in particular, saying that they were by God's judgment condemned, who served the creature rather than the Creator. Thus, in fact, you may read: "God gave them over to the lusts of their own heart, that they might one with another dishonour their bodies, they who changed God's truth into a lie, and worshipped and served the thing created rather than the Creator, Who is God, blessed for ever."
104. Thus Paul forbids me to worship a creature, and admonishes me of my duty to serve Christ. It follows, then, that Christ is not a created being. The Apostle calls himself "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ," and this good servant, who acknowledges his Lord, will likewise have us not worship that which is created. How, then, could he have been himself a servant of Christ, if he thought that Christ was a created person? Let these heretics, then, cease either to worship Him Whom they call a created being, or to call Him a creature, Whom they feign to worship, lest under colour of being worshippers they fall into worse impiety. For a domestic is worse than a foreign foe, and that these men should use the Name of Christ to Christ's dishonour increaseth their guilt.
105. What better expounder of the Scriptures do we indeed look for than that teacher of the Gentiles, that chosen vessel—chosen from the number of the persecutors? He who had been the persecutor of Christ confesses Him. He had read Solomon more, in any case, than Arius hath, and he was well learned in the Law, and so, because he had read, he said not that Christ was created, but that He was begotten. For he had read, "He spake, and they were made: He commanded, and they were created.' Was Christ, I ask, made at a word? Was He created at a command?
106. Moreover, how can there be any created nature in God? In truth, God is of an uncompounded nature; nothing can be added to Him, and that alone which is Divine hath He in His nature; filling all things, yet nowhere Himself confounded with aught; penetrating all things, yet Himself nowhere to be penetrated; present in all His fulness at one and the same moment, in heaven, in earth, in the deepest depth of the sea, to sight invisible, by speech not to be declared, by feeling not to be measured; to be followed by faith, to be adored with devotion; so that whatsoever title excels in depth of spiritual import, in setting forth glory and honour, in exalting power, this you may know to belong of right to God.
107. Since, then, the Father is well pleased in the Son; believe that the Son is worthy of the Father, that He came out from God, as He Himself bears witness, saying: "I went out from God, and am come;" and again: "I went out from God." He Who proceeded and came forth from God can have no attributes but such as are proper to God.
[That Christ is very God is proved from the fact that He is God's own Son, also from His having been begotten and having come forth from God, and further, from the unity of will and operation subsisting in Father and Son. The witness of the apostles and of the centurion—which St. Ambrose sets over against the Arian teaching—is adduced, together with that of Isaiah and St. John.]
108. Hence it is that Christ is not only God, but very God indeed—very God of very God, insomuch that He Himself is the Truth, If, then, we enquire His Name, it is "the Truth;" if we seek to know His natural rank and dignity, He is so truly the very Son of God, that He is indeed God's own Son; as it is written, "Who spared not His own Son, but gave Him up for our sakes," gave Him up, that is, so far as the flesh was concerned. That He is God's own Son declares His Godhead; that He is very God shows that He is God's own Son; His pitifulness is the earnest of His submission, His sacrifice, of our salvation.
109. Lest, however, men should wrest the Scripture, that "God gave Him up," the Apostle himself has said in another place, "Peace from God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave Himself for our sins;" and again: "Even as Christ hath loved us, and given Himself for us." If, then, He both was given up by the Father, and gave Himself up of His own accord, it is plain that the working and the will of Father and Son is one.
110. If, then, we enquire into His natural pre-eminence, we find it to consist in being begotten. To deny that the Son of God is begotten[of God] is to deny that He is God's own Son, and to deny Christ to be God's own Son is to class Him with the rest of mankind, as no more a Son than any of the rest. If, however, we enquire into the distinctive property of His generation, it is this, that He came forth from God. For whilst, in our experience, to come out implies something already existent, and that which is said to come out seems to proceed forth from hidden and inward places, we, though it be presented but in short passages, observe the peculiar attribute of the Divine Generation, that the Son doth not seem to have come forth out of any place, but as God from God, a Son from a Father, nor to have had a beginning in the course of time, having come forth from the Father by being born, as He Himself Who was born said: "I came forth from the mouth of the Most High."
111. But if the Arians acknowledge not the Son's nature, if they believe not the Scriptures, let them at least believe the mighty works. To whom doth the Father say, "Let us make man?" save to Him Whom He knew to be His true Son? In Whom, save in one who was true, could He recognize His Image? The son by adoption is not the same as the true Son; nor would the Son say, "I and the Father are one," if He, being Himself not true, were measuring Himself with One Who is true. The Father, therefore, says, "Let us make." He Who spake is true; can He, then, Who made be not true? Shall the honour rendered to Him Who speaks be withheld from Him Who makes?
112. But how, unless the Father knew Him to be His true Son, should He commend to Him His will, for perfect co-operation, and His works, for perfect bringing in out in actuality? Seeing that the Son worketh the works which the Father doeth, and that the Son quickens whom He will, as it is written, He is then equal in power and free in respect of His will. And thus is the Unity maintained, forasmuch as God's power consists in that the Godhead is proper to each Person, and freedom lies not in any difference, but in unity of will.
113. The apostles, being storm-tossed in the sea, as soon as they saw the waters leaping up round their Lord's feet, and beheld His fearless footsteps on the water, as He walked amid the raging waves of the sea, and the ship, which was beaten upon by the waves, had rest as soon as Christ entered it, and they saw the waves and the winds obeying Him,—then, though as yet they did not believe in their hearts they believed Him to be God's true Son, saying, "Truly Thou art the Son of God."
114. To the same effect the confession of the centurion, and others who were with him, when the foundations of the world were shaken at the Lord's Passion,—and this, heretic, thou deniest! The centurion said, "Truly this was the Son of God." "Was" said the centurion—"Was not" says the Arian. The centurion, then, with bloodstained hands, but devout mind, declares both the truth and the eternity of Christ's generation; and thou, O heretic deniest its truth, and makest it matter of time! Would that thou hadst imbued thy hands rather than thy soul! But thou unclean even of hand, and murderous of intent, seekest Christ's death, so far as in thee lies, seeing that thou thinkest of Him as mean and weak; nay, and this is a worse sin, thou, albeit the Godhead can feel no wound, still wouldst do thy diligence to slay in Christ, not His Body, but His Glory.
115. We cannot then doubt that He is very God, Whose true Godhead even executioners believed in and devils confessed. Their testimony we require not now, but it is withal greater than your blasphemies. We have called them in to witness, to put you to the blush, whilst we have also cited the oracles of God, to the end that you should believe.
116. The Lord proclaimeth by the mouth of Isaiah: "In the mouth of them that serve Me shall a new name be called upon, which shall be blessed over all the earth, and they shall bless the true God, and they who swear upon earth shall swear by the true God." These words, I say, Isaiah spake when he saw God's Glory, and thus in the Gospel it is plainly said that he saw the Glory of Christ and spoke of Him.
117. But hear again what John the Evangelist hath written in his Epistle, saying: "We know that the Son of God hath appeared, and hath given us discernment, to know the Father, and to be in His true Son Jesus Christ, our Lord. He is very God, and Life Eternal." John calls Him true Son of God and very God. If, then, He be very God, He is surely uncreate, without spot of lying or deceit, having in Himself no confusion, nor unlikeness to His Father.
[The errors of the Arians are mentioned in the Nicene Definition of the Faith, to prevent their deceiving anybody. These errors are recited, together with the anathema pronounced against them, which is said to have been not only pronounced at Nicaea, but also twice renewed at Ariminum.]
118. Christ, therefore, is "God of God, Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten of the Father, not made; of one substance with the Father."
119. So, indeed, following the guidance of the Scriptures, our fathers declared, holding, moreover, that impious doctrines should be included in the record of their decrees, in order that the unbelief of Arius should discover itself, and not, as it were, mask itself with dye or face- paint. For they give a false colour to their thoughts who dare not unfold them openly. After the manner of the censor's rolls, then, the Arian heresy is not discovered by name, but marked out by the condemnation pronounced, in order that he who is curious and eager to hear it should be preserved from falling by knowing that it is condemned already, before he hears, it set forth to the end that he should believe.
120. "Those," runs the decree, "who say that there was a time when the Son of God was not, and that before He was born He was not, and who say that he was made out of nothing, or is of another substance or ousi'a, or that He is capable of changing, or that with Him is any shadow of turning,—them the Catholic and Apostolic Church declares accursed."
121. Your sacred Majesty has agreed that they who utter such doctrines are rightly condemned. It was of no determination by man, of no human counsel, that three hundred and eighteen bishops met, as I showed above more at length, in Council, but that in their number the Lord Jesus might prove, by the sign of His Name and Passion, that He was in the midst, where His own were gathered together. In the number of three hundred was the sign of His Cross, in that of eighteen was the sign of the Name Jesus.
122. This also was the teaching of the First Confession in the Council of Ariminum, and of the Second Correction, after that Council. Of the Confession, the letter sent to the Emperor Constantine beareth witness, and the Council that followed declares the Correction.
[Arius is charged with the first of the above-mentioned errors, and refuted by the testimony of St. John. The miserable death of the Heresiarch is described, and the rest of his blasphemous errors are one by one examined and disproved.]
123. Arius, then, says: "There was a time when the Son of God existed not," but Scripture saith: "He was," not that "He was not." Furthermore, St. John has written: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God." Observe how often the verb "was" appears, whereas "was not" is nowhere found. Whom, then, are we to believe?—St. John, who lay on Christ's bosom, or Arius, wallowing amid the out-gush of his very bowels?—so wallowing that we might understand how Arius in his teaching showed himself like unto Judas, being visited with like punishment.
124. For Arius bowels also gushed out—decency forbids to say where— and so he burst asunder in the midst, falling headlong, and besmirching those foul lips wherewith he had denied Christ. He was rent, even as the Apostle Peter said of Judas, because he bought a field with the price of evil-doing, and falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out." It was no chance manner of death, seeing that like wickedness was visited with like punishment, to the end that those who denied and betrayed the same Lord might likewise undergo the same torment.
125. Let us pass on to further points. Arius says: "Before He was born, the Son of God was not," but the Scripture saith that all things are maintained in existence by the Son's office. How, then, could He, Who existed not, bestow existence upon others? Again, when the blasphemer uses the words "when" and "before," he certainly uses words which are marks of time. How, then, do the Arians deny that time was ere the Son was, and yet will have things created in time to exist before the Son, seeing that the very words, "when," "before," and "did not exist once," announce the idea of time?
126. Arius says that the Son of God came into being out of nought. How, then, is He Son of God—how was He begotten from the womb of the Father— how do we read of Him as the Word spoken of the heart's abundance, save to the end that we should believe that He came forth, as it is written, from the Father's inmost, unapproachable sanctuary? Now a son is so called either by means of adoption or by nature, as we are called sons by means of adoption. Christ is the Son of God by virtue of His real and abiding nature. How, then, can He, Who out of nothing fashioned all things, be Himself created out of nothing?
127. He who knows not whence the Son is hath not the Son. The Jews therefore had not the Son, for they knew not whence He was. Wherefore the Lord said to them: "Ye know not whence I came;" and again: "Ye neither have found out Who I am, nor know My Father," for he who denies that the Son is of the Father knows not the Father, of Whom the Son is; and again, he knows not the Son, because he knows not the Father.
128. Arius says:"[The Son is] of another Substance." But what other substance is exalted to equality with the Son of God, so that simply in virtue thereof He is Son of God? Or what right have the Arians for censuring us because we speak, in Greek, of the ousi'a, or in Latin, of the Substantia of God, when they themselves, in saying that the Son of God is of another "Substance," assert a divine Substantia.
129. Howbeit, should they desire to dispute the use of the words "divine Substance" or "divine Nature," they shall easily be refuted, for Holy Writ oft-times hath spoken of ousi'a in Greek, or Substantia in Latin, and St. Peter, as we read, would have us become partakers in the divine Nature. But if they will have it that the Son is of another "Substance," they with their own lips confute themselves, in that they both acknowledge the term "Substance," whereof they are so afraid, and rank the Son on a level with the creatures above which they feign to exalt Him.
130. Arius calls the Son of God a creature, but "not as the rest of the creatures." Yet what created being is not different from another? Man is not as angel, earth is not as heaven, the sun is not as water, nor light as darkness. Arius' preference, therefore, is empty—he hath but disguised with a sorry dye his deceitful blasphemies, in order to take the foolish.
131. Arius declares that the Son of God may change and swerve. How, then, is He God if He is changeable, seeing that He Himself hath said: "I am, I am, and I change not"?
[St. Ambrose declares his desire that some angel would fly to him to purify him, as once the Seraph did to Isaiah—nay more, that Christ Himself would come to him, to the Emperor, and to his readers, and finally prays that Gratian and the rest of the faithful may be exalted by the power and spell of the Lord's Cup, which he describes in mystic language.]
132. Howbeit, now must I needs confess the Prophet Isaiah's confession, which he makes before declaring the word of the Lord: "Woe is me, my heart is smitten, for I, a man of unclean lips, and living in the midst of a people of unclean lips, have seen the Lord of Sabaoth." Now if Isaiah said "Woe is me," who looked upon the Lord of Sabaoth, what shall I say of myself, who, being "a man of unclean lips," am constrained to treat of the divine generation? How shall I break forth into speech of things whereof I am afraid, when David prays that a watch may be set over his mouth in the matter of things whereof he has knowledge? O that to me also one of the Seraphim would bring the burning coal from the celestial altar, taking it in the tongs of the two testaments, and with the fire thereof purge my unclean lips!
133. But forasmuch as then the Seraph came down in a vision to the Prophet, whilst Thou, O Lord, in revelation of the mystery hast come to us in the flesh, do Thou, not by any deputy, nor by any messenger, but Thou Thyself cleanse my conscience from my secret sins, that I too, erstwhile unclean, but now by Thy mercy made clean through faith, may sing in the words of David: "I will make music to Thee upon a harp, O God of Israel, my lips shall rejoice, in all my song to Thee, and so, too, shall my soul, whom Thou hast redeemed."
134. And so, O Lord, leaving them that slander and hate Thee, come unto us, sanctify the ears of our sovereign ruler, Gratian, and all besides into whose hands this little book shall come—and purge my ears, that no stains of the infidelity they have heard remain anywhere. Cleanse thoroughly, then, our ears, not with water of well, river, or rippling and purling brook, but with words cleansing like water, clearer than any water, and purer than any snow—even the words Thou hast spoken—"Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow."
135. Moreover, there is a Cup, wherewith Thou dost use to purify the hidden chambers of the soul, a Cup not of the old order, nor filled from a common Vine,—a new Cup, brought down from heaven to earth, filled with wine pressed from the wondrous cluster, which hung in fleshly form upon the tree of the Cross, even as the grape hangs upon the Vine. From this Cluster, then, is the Wine that maketh glad the heart of man, uplifts the sorrowful, is fragrant with, pours into us, the ecstasy of faith, true devotion, and purity.
136. With this Wine, therefore, O Lord my God, cleanse the spiritual ears of our sovereign Emperor, to the end that, just as men, being uplifted with common wine, love rest and quietness, cast out the fear of death, have no feeling of injuries, seek not that Which belongs to others, and forget their own; and so he, too, intoxicated with thy wine, may love peace, and, confident in the exultation of faith, may never know the death of unbelief, and may display loving patience, have no part in other men's profanities, and hold the faith of more account even than kindred and children, as it is written: "Leave all that thou hast, and come, follow Me."
137. With this Wine, also, Lord Jesus, purify our senses, that we may adore Thee, and worship Thee, the Creator of things visible and invisible. Truly, Thou canst not fail of being Thyself invisible and good, Who hast given invisibility and goodness to the works of Thy Hands.
[Twelve names of the Son of God are recounted, being distributed into three classes. These names are so many proofs of the eternity not only of the Son, but of the Father also. Furthermore, they are compared with the twelve stones in the High Priest's breastplate, and their inseparability is shown by a new distribution of them. Returning to the comparison with the High Priest's breastplate, the writer sets forth the beauty of the woven-work and the precious stones of the mystic raiment, and the hidden meaning of that division into woven-work and precious stones, which being done, he expounds the comparison drawn by him, showing that faith must be woven in with works, and adds a short summary of the same faith, as concerning the Son.]
1. Enough hath been said, as I think, your sacred Majesty, in the book preceding to show that the Son of God is an eternal being, not diverse from the Father, begotten, not created; we have also proved, from passages of the Scriptures, that God's true Son is God, and is declared so to be by the evident tokens of His Majesty.
2. Wherefore, albeit what hath already been set forth is plentiful even to overflowing for maintaining the Faith—seeing that the greatness of a river is mostly judged of from the manner in which its springs rise and flow forth—still, to the end that our belief may be the plainer to sight, the waters of our spring ought, methinks, to be parted off into three channels. There are, then, firstly, plain tokens declaring essential inherence in the Godhead; secondly, the expressions of the likeness of the Father and the Son; and lastly, those of the undoubtable unity of the Divine Majesty. Now of the first sort are the names "begetting," "God," "Son," "The Word;" of the second, "brightness," "expression," "mirror," "image;" and of the third, "wisdom," "power," "truth," "life."
3. These tokens so declare the nature of the Son, that by them you may know both that the Father is eternal, and that the Son is not diverse from Him; for the source of generation is He Who is, and as begotten of the Eternal, He is God; coming forth from the Father, He is the Son; from God, He is the Word; He is the radiance of the Father's glory, the expression of His substance, the counterpart of God, the image of His majesty; the Bounty of Him Who is bountiful, the Wisdom of Him Who is wise, the Power of the Mighty One, the Truth of Him Who is true,8 the Life of the Living One. In agreement, therefore, stand the attributes of Father and Son, that none may suppose any diversity, or doubt but that they are of one Majesty. For each and all of these names would we furnish examples of their use were we not constrained by a desire to maintain our discourse within bounds.
4. Of these twelve, as of twelve precious stones, is the pillar of our faith built up. For these are the precious stones—sardius, jasper, smaragd, chrysolite, and the rest,—woven into the robe of holy Aaron, even of him who bears the likeness of Christ, that is, of the true Priest; stones set in gold, and inscribed with the names of the sons of Israel, twelve stones close joined and fitting one into another, for if any should sunder or separate them, the whole fabric of the faith falls in ruins.
5. This, then, is the foundation of our faith—to know that the Son of God is begotten; if He be not begotten, neither is He the Son. Nor yet is it sufficient to call Him Son, unless you shall also distinguish Him as the Only-begotten Son. If He is a creature, He is not God; if He is not God, He is not the Life; if He is not the Life, then is He not the Truth.
6. The first three tokens, therefore, that is to say, the names "generation," "Son," "Only-begotten," do show that the Son is of God originally and by virtue of His own nature.
7. The three that follow—to wit, the names "God," "Life," "Truth," reveal His Power, whereby He hath laid the foundations of, and upheld, the created world. "For," as Paul said, "in Him we live and move and have our being;"' and therefore, in the first three the Son's natural right, in the other three the unity of action subsisting between Father and Son is made manifest.
8. The Son of God is also called the "image" and "effulgence" and "expression" [of God], for these names have disclosed the Father's incomprehensible and unsearchable Majesty dwelling in the Son, and the expression of His likeness in Him. These three names, then, as we see, refer to [the Son's] likeness [to the Father].
9. We have yet the operations of Power, Wisdom, and Justice left, wherewith, severally, to prove [the Son's] eternity.
10. This, then, is that robe, adorned with precious stones; this is the amice of the true Priest; this the bridal garment; here is the inspired weaver, who well knew how to weave that work. No common woven work is it, whereof the Lord spake by His Prophet: "Who gave to women their skill in weaving? ' No common stones again, are they—stones, as we find them called, "of filling; " for all perfection depends on this condition, that there be nought lacking. They are stones joined together and set in gold—that is, of a spiritual kind; the joining of them by our minds and their setting in convincing argument. Finally Scripture teaches us how far from common are these stones, inasmuch as, whilst some brought one kind, and others another, of less precious offerings, these the devout princes brought, wearing them upon their shoulders, and made of them the "breastplate of judgment," that is, a piece of woven work. Now we have a woven work, when faith and action go together.
11. Let none suppose me to be misguided, in that I made at first a threefold division, each part containing four, and afterwards a fourfold division, each part containing three terms. The beauty of a good thing pleases the more, if it be shown under various aspects. For those are good things, whereof the texture of the priestly robe was the token, that is to say, either the Law, or the Church, which latter hath made two garments for her spouse, as it is written'—the one of action, the other of spirit, weaving together the threads of faith and works. Thus, in one place, as we read, she makes a groundwork of gold, and afterwards weaves thereon blue, and purple, with scarlet, and white. Again, [as we read] elsewhere, she first makes little flowerets of blue and other colours, and attaches gold, and there is made a single priestly robe, to the end that adornments of diverse grace and beauty, made up of the same bright colours, may gain fresh glory by diversity of arrangement.
12. Moreover (to complete our interpretation of these types), it is certain that by refined gold and silver are designated the oracles of the Lord, whereby our faith stands firm. "The oracles of the Lord are pure oracles, silver tried in the fire, refined of dross, purified seven times." Now blue is like the air we breathe and draw in; purple, again, represents the appearance of water; scarlet signifies fire; and white linen, earth, for its origin is in the earth. Of these four elements, again, the human body is composed.
13. Whether, then, you join to faith already present in the soul, bodily acts agreeing thereto; or acts come first, and faith be joined as their companion, presenting them to God—here is the robe of the minister of religion, here the priestly vestment.
14. Faith is profitable, therefore, when her brow is bright with a fair crown of good works. This faith—that I may set the matter forth shortly—is contained in the following principles, which cannot be overthrown. If the Son had His origin in nothing, He is not Son; if He is a creature, He is not the Creator; if He was made, He did not make all things; if He needs to learn, He hath no foreknowledge; if He is a receiver, He is not perfect; if He progress, He is not God. If He is unlike (the Father) He is not the (Father's) image; if He is Son by grace, He is not such by nature; if He have no part in the Godhead, He hath it in Him to sin."There is none good, but Godhead."
[The Arian argument from S. Mark x. 18, "There is none good but one, that is, God," refuted by explanation of these words of Christ.]
15. The objection I have now to face, your sacred Majesty, fills me with bewilderment, my soul and body faint at the thought that there should be men, or rather not men, but beings with the outward appearance of men, but inwardly full of brutish folly—who can, after receiving at the hands of the Lord benefits so many and so great, say that the Author of all good things is Himself not good.
16. It is written, say they, that "There is none good but God alone." I acknowledge the Scripture—but there is no falsehood in the letter; would that there were none in the Arians' exposition thereof. The written signs are guiltless, it is the meaning in which they are taken that is to blame. I acknowledge the words as the words of our Lord and Saviour—but let us bethink ourselves when, to whom, and with what comprehension He speaks.
17. The Son of God is certainly speaking as man, and speaking to a scribe,—to him, that is, who called the Son of God "Good Master," but would not acknowledge Him as God. What he believes not, Christ further gives him to understand, to the end that he may believe in God's Son not as a good master, but as the good God, for if, wheresoever the "One God" is named, the Son of God is never sundered from the fulness of that unity, how, when God alone is said to be good, can the Only-begotten be excluded from the fulness of Divine Goodness? The Arians must therefore either deny that the Son of God is God, or confess that God is good.
18. With divinely inspired comprehension, then, our Lord said, not "There is none good but the Father alone," but "There is none good but God alone," and "Father" is the proper name of Him Who begets. But the unity of God by no means excludes the Godhead of the Three Persons, and therefore it is His Nature that is extolled. Goodness, therefore, is of the nature of God, and in the nature of God, again, exists the Son of God—wherefore that which the predicate expresses belongs not to one single Person, but to the [complete] unity [of the Godhead].
19. The Lord, then, doth not deny His goodness—He rebukes this sort of disciple. For when the scribe said, "Good Master," the Lord answered, "Why callest thou Me good? "—which is to say, "It is not enough to call Him good, Whom thou believest not to be God." Not such do I seek to be My disciples—men who rather consider My manhood and reckon Me a good master, than look to My Godhead and believe Me to be the good God."
[The goodness of the Son of God is proved from His works, namely, His benefits that He showed towards the people of Israel under the Old Covenant, and to Christians under the New. It is to one's own interest to believe in the goodness of Him Who is one's Lord and Judge. The Father's testimony to the Son. No small number of the Jewish people bear witness to the Son; the Arians therefore are plainly worse than the Jews. The words of the Bride, declaring the same goodness of Christ.]
20. Howbeit, I would not that the Son should rely on the mere prerogative of His nature and the claims of peculiar rights of His Majesty. Let us not call Him good, if He merit not the title; and if He merit not this by works, by acts of lovingkindness, let Him waive the right He enjoys by virtue of His nature, and be submitted to our judgment. He Who is to judge us disdains not to be brought to judgment, that He may be "justified in His saying, and clear when He is judged."
21. Is He then not good, Who hath shown me good things? Is He not good, Who when six hundred thousand of the people of the Jews fled before their pursuers, suddenly opened the tide of the Red Sea, an unbroken mass of waters?—so that the waves flowed round the faithful, and were walls to them, but poured back and overwhelmed the unbelievers.
22. Is He not good, at Whose command the seas became firm ground for the feet of them that fled, and the rocks gave forth water for the thirsty? so that the handiwork of the true Creator might be known, when the fluid became solid, and the rock streamed with water? That we might acknowledge this as the handiwork of Christ, the Apostle said: "And that rock was Christ."
23. Is He not good, Who in the wilderness fed with bread from heaven such countless thousands of the people, lest any famine should assail them, without need of toil, in the enjoyment of rest?—so that, for the space of forty years, their raiment grew not old, nor were their shoes worn, a figure to the faithful of the Resurrection that was to come, showing that neither the glory of great deeds, nor the beauty of the power wherewith He hath clothed us, nor the stream of human life is made for nought?
24. Is He not good, Who exalted earth to heaven, so that, just as the bright companies of stars reflect His glory in the sky, as in a glass, so the choirs of apostles, martyrs, and priests, shining like glorious stars, might give light throughout the world.
25. Not only, then, is He good, but He is more. He is a good Shepherd, not only for Himself, but to His sheep also, "for the good shepherd layeth down his life for his sheep." Aye, He laid down His life to exalt ours—but it was in the power of His Godhead that He laid it down and took it again: "I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. "
26. Thou seest His goodness, in that He laid it down of His own accord: thou seest His power, in that He took it again—dost thou deny His goodness, when He has said of Himself in the Gospel, "If I am good, why is thine eye evil?" Ungrateful wretch what doest thou? Dost thou deny His goodness, in Whom is thy hope of good things—if, indeed, thou believest this? Dost thou deny His goodness, Who hath given us what "eye hath not seen, nor ear heard"?
27. It concerns my interest to believe Him to be good, for "It is a good thing to trust in the Lord. " It is to my interest to confess Him Lord, for it is written: "Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good."
28. It is to my interest to esteem my Judge to be good, for the Lord is a righteous Judge to the house of Israel. If, then, the Son of God is Judge, surely, seeing that the Judge is the righteous God and the Son of God is Judge, [it follows that] He who is Judge and Son of God is the righteous God.
29. But perchance thou believest not others, nor the Son. Hear, then, the Father saying: "My heart hath brought forth out of its depth the good Word." The Word, then, is good—the Word, of Whom it is written: "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God." If, therefore, the Word is good, and the Son is the Word of God, surely, though it displease the Arians, the Son of God is God. Let them now at least blush for shame.
30. The Jews used to say: "He is good." Though some said: "He is not," yet others said: "He is good,"—and ye do all deny His goodness.
31. He is good who forgives the sin of one man; is He not good Who has taken away the sin of the world? For it was of Him that it was said: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sin of the world."
32. But why do we doubt? The Church hath believed in His goodness all these ages, and hath confessed its faith in the saying: "Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for thy breasts are better than wine;" and again: "And thy throat is like the goodliest wine." Of His goodness, therefore. He nourisheth us with the breasts of the Law and Grace, soothing men's sorrows with telling them of heavenly things; and do we, then, deny His goodness, when He is the manifestation of goodness, expressing in His Person the likeness of the Eternal Bounty, even as we showed above that it was written, that He is the spotless reflection and counterpart of that Bounty?
[Forasmuch as God is One, the Son of God is God, good and true.]
33. Yet what think ye, who deny the goodness and true Godhead of the Son of God, though it is written that there is no God but One? For although there be gods so-called, would you reckon Christ amongst them which are called gods, but are not, seeing that eternity is of His Essence, and that beside Him there is none other that is good and true God, forasmuch as God is in Him; whilst it follows from the very nature of the Father, that after Him there is no other true God, because God is One, neither confounding [the Persons of] the Father and Son, as the Sabellians do, nor, like the Arians, severing the Father and the Son. For the Father and the Son, as Father and Son, are distinct persons, but they admit no division of their Godhead.
[The omnipotence of the Son of God, demonstrated on the authority of the Old and the New Testament.]
34. Seeing, then, that the Son of God is true and good, surely He is Almighty God. Can there be yet any doubt on this point? We have already cited the place where it is read that "the Lord Almighty is His Name." Because, then, the Son is Lord, and the Lord is Almighty, the Son of God is Almighty.
35. But hear also such a passage as you can build no doubts upon: "Behold, He cometh," saith the Scripture, "with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they which pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of Him. Yea, amen. I am Alpha and Omega, saith the Lord God, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty." Whom, I ask, did they pierce? For Whose coming hope we but the Son's? Therefore, Christ is Almighty Lord, and God.
36. Hear another passage, your sacred Majesty,—hear the voice of Christ. "Thus saith the Lord Almighty: After His glory hath He sent me against the nations which have made spoil of you, forasmuch as he that toucheth you is as he that toucheth the pupil of His eye. For lo, I lay my hand upon them which despoiled you, and I will save you, and they shall be for a spoil, which made spoil of you, and they shall know that the Lord Almighty hath sent Me." Plainly, He Who speaks is the Lord Almighty, and He Who hath sent is the Lord Almighty. By consequence, then, almighty power appertains both to the Father and to the Son; nevertheless, it is One Almighty God, for there is oneness of Majesty.
37. Moreover, that your most excellent Majesty may know that it is Christ which hath spoken as in the Gospel, so also in the prophet, He saith by the mouth of Isaiah, as though foreordaining the Gospel: "I Myself, Who spake, am come," that is to say, I, Who spake in the Law, am present in the Gospel.
38. Elsewhere, again, He saith: "All things that the Father hath are Mine." What meaneth He by "all things"? Clearly, not things created, for all these were made by the Son, but the things that the Father hath—that is to say, Eternity, Sovereignty, Godhead, which are His possession, as begotten of the Father. We cannot, then, doubt that He is Almighty, Who hath all things that the Father hath (for it is written: "All things that the Father hath are Mine").
[Certain passages from Scripture, urged against the Omnipotence of Christ, are resolved; the writer is also at especial pains to show that Christ not seldom spoke in accordance with the affections of human nature.]
39. Although it is written concerning God, "Blessed and only Potentate," yet I have no misgiving that the Son of God is thereby severed from Him, seeing that the Scripture entitled God, not the Father by Himself, the "only Potentate." The Father Himself also declares by the prophet, concerning Christ, that "I have set help upon one that is mighty." It is not the Father alone, then, Who is the only Potentate; God the Son also is Potentate, for in the Father's praise the Son is praised too.
40. Aye, let some one show what there is that the Son of God cannot do. Who was His helper, when He made the heavens,—Who, when He laid the foundations of the world? Had He any need of a helper to set men free, Who needed none in constituting angels and principalities?
41. "It is written," say they: "'My Father, if it be possible, take away this cup from Me.' If, then, He is Almighty, how comes He to doubt of the possibility?" Which means that, because I have proved Him to be Almighty, I have proved Him unable to doubt of possibility.
42. The words, you say, are the words of Christ. True—consider, though, the occasion of His speaking them, and in what character He speaks. He hath taken upon Him the substance of man, and therewith its affections. Again, you find in the place above cited, that "He went forward a little further, and fell on His face, praying, and saying: Father, if it be possible." Not as God, then, but as man, speaketh He, for could God be ignorant of the possibility or impossibility of aught? Or is anything impossible for God, when the Scripture saith: "For Thee nothing is impossible "?
43. Of Whom, howbeit, does He doubt—of Himself, or of the Father? Of Him, surely, Who saith: "Take away from Me,"—being moved as man is moved to doubt. The prophet reckons nothing impossible with God. The prophet doubts not; think you that the Son doubts? Wilt thou put God lower than man? What—God hath doubts of His Father, and is fearful at the thought of death! Christ, then, is afraid—afraid, whilst Peter fears nothing. Peter saith: "I will lay down my life for Thy sake." Christ saith: "My soul is troubled."
44. Both records are true, and it is equally natural that the person who is the less should not fear, as that He Who is the greater should endure this feeling, for the one has all a man's ignorance of the might of death, whilst the other, as being God inhabiting a body, displays the weakness of the flesh, that the wickedness of those who deny the mystery of the Incarnation might have no excuse. Thus, then, hath He spoken, yet the Manichaean believed not; Valentinus denied,and Marcion judged Him to be a ghost.
45. But indeed He so far put Himself on a level with man, such as He showed Himself to be in the reality of His bodily frame, as to say, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt," though truly it is Christ's especial power to will what the Father wills, even as it is His to do what the Father doeth.
46. Here, then, let there be an end of the objection which it is your custom to oppose to us, on the ground that the Lord said, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt;" and again, "For this cause I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me."
[The passages of Scripture above cited are taken as an occasion for a digression, wherein our Lord's freedom of action is proved from the ascription to the Spirit of such freedom, and from places where it is attributed to the Son.]
47. Let us now, for the present, explain more fully why our Lord said, "If it be possible," and so call a truce, as it were, while we show that He possessed freedom of will. Ye deny—so far are ye gone in the way of iniquity—that the Son of God had a free will. Moreover, it is your wont to detract from the Holy Spirit, though you cannot deny that it is written: "The Spirit doth breathe, where He will." "Where He will," saith the Scripture, not "where He is ordered." If, then, the Spirit doth breathe where He will, cannot the Son do what He will? Why, it is the very same Son of God Who in His Gospel saith that the Spirit has power to breathe where He will. Doth the Son, therefore, confess the Spirit to be greater, in that He has power to do what is not permitted to Himself?
48. The Apostle also saith that "all is the work of one and the same Spirit, distributing to each according to His will." "According to His will," mark you—that is, according to the judgment of a free will, not in obedience to compulsion. Furthermore, the gifts distributed by the Spirit are no mean gifts, but such works as God is wont to do,—the gift of healing and of working deeds of power. While the Spirit, then, distributes as He will, the Son of God cannot set free whom He will. But hear Him speak when He does even as He will: "I have willed to do Thy will, O my God;" and again: "I will offer Thee a freewill offering."
49. The holy Apostle later knew that Jesus had it in His power to do as He would, and therefore, seeing Him walk upon the sea, said: "Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come to Thee over the waters." Peter believed that if Christ commanded, the natural conditions could be changed, so that water might support human footsteps, and things discrepant be reduced to harmony and agreement. Peter asks of Christ to command, not to request: Christ requested not, but commanded, and it was done—and Arius denies it!
50. What indeed is there that the Father will have, but the Son will not, or that the Son will have, but the Father will not? "The Father quickeneth whom He will," and the Son quickeneth whom He will, even as it is written.s Tell me now whom the Son hath quickened, and the Father would not quicken. Since, however, the Son quickeneth whom He will, and the action [of Father and Son] is one, you see that not only doeth the Son the Father's will, but the Father also doeth the Son's. For what is quickening but quickening through the passion of Christ? But the passion of Christ is the Father's will. Whom, therefore, the Son quickeneth, He quickeneth by the will of the Father; therefore their will is one.
51. Again, what was the will of the Father, but that Jesus should come into the world and cleanse us from our sins? Hear the words of the leper: "If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean." Christ answered, "I will," and straightway health, the effect, followed. See you not that the Son is master of His own will, and Christ's will is the same as the Father's. Indeed, seeing that He hath said, "All things that the Father hath are Mine," nothing of a certainty being excepted, the Son hath the same will that the Father hath.
[The resolution of the difficulty set forth for consideration is again taken in hand. Christ truly and really took upon Him a human will and affections, the source of whatsoever was not in agreement with His Godhead, and which must be therefore referred to the fact that He was at the same time both God and man.]
52. There is, therefore, unity of will where there is unity of working; for in God His will issues straightway in actual effect. But the will of God is one, and the human will another. Further, to show that life is the object of human will, because we fear death whilst the passion of Christ depended on the Divine Will, that He should suffer for us, the Lord said, when Peter would have detained Him from suffering: "Thou savourest not of the things which be of God, but the things which be of men."
53. My will, therefore, He took to Himself, my grief. In confidence I call it grief, because I preach His Cross. Mine is the will which He called His own, for as man He bore my grief, as man He spake, and therefore said, "Not as I will, but as Thou wilt." Mine was the grief, and mine the heaviness with which He bore it, for no man exults when at the point to die. With me and for me He suffers, for me He is sad, for me He is heavy. In my stead, therefore, and in me He grieved Who had no cause to grieve for Himself.
54. Not Thy wounds, but mine, hurt Thee, Lord Jesus; not Thy death, but our weakness, even as the Prophet saith: "For He is afflicted for our sakes"—and we, Lord, esteemed Thee afflicted, when Thou grievedst not for Thyself, but for me.
55. And what wonder if He grieved for all, Who wept for one? What wonder if, in the hour of death, He is heavy for all, Who wept when at the point to raise Lazarus from the dead? Then, indeed, He was moved by a loving sister's tears, for they touched His human heart,—here by secret grief He brought it to pass that, even as His death made an end of death, and His stripes healed our scars, so also His sorrow took away our sorrow.
56. As being man, therefore, He doubts; as man He is amazed. Neither His power nor His Godhead is amazed, but His soul; He is amazed by consequence of having taken human infirmity upon Him. Seeing, then, that He took upon Himself a soul He also took the affections of a soul, for God could not have been distressed or have died in respect of His being God. Finally, He cried: "My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?" As being man, therefore, He speaks, bearing with Him my terrors, for when we are in the midst of dangers we think ourself abandoned by God. As man, therefore, He is distressed, as man He weeps, as man He is crucified.
57. For so hath the Apostle Paul likewise said: "Because they have crucified the flesh of Christ." And again the Apostle Peter saith: "Christ having suffered according to the flesh." It was the flesh, therefore, that suffered; the Godhead above secure from death; to suffering His body yielded, after the law of human nature; can the Godhead die, then, if the soul cannot?" "Fear not them," said our Lord, "which can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul." If the soul, then, cannot be killed, how can the Godhead?
58. When we read, then, that the Lord of glory was crucified, let us not suppose that He was crucified as in His glory. It is because He Who is God is also man, God by virtue of His Divinity, and by taking upon Him of the flesh, the man Christ Jesus, that the Lord of glory is said to have been crucified; for, possessing both natures, that is, the human and the divine, He endured the Passion in His humanity, in order that without distinction He Who suffered should be called both Lord of glory and Son of man, even as it is written: "Who descended from heaven."
[Christ's saying, "The Father is greater than I," is explained in accordance with the principle just established. Other like sayings are expounded in like fashion. Our Lord cannot, as touching His Godhead, be called inferior to the Father.]
59. It was due to His humanity, therefore, that our Lord doubted and was sore distressed, and rose from the dead, for that which fell doth also rise again. Again, it was by reason of His humanity that He said those words, which our adversaries use to maliciously turn against Him: "Because the Father is greater than I."
60. But when in another passage we read: "I came out from the Father, and am come into the world; again, I leave the world, and go to the Father," how doth He go, except through death, and how comes He, save by rising again? Furthermore, He added, in order to show that He spake concerning His Ascension: "Therefore have I told you before it come to pass, in order that, when it shall have come to pass, ye may believe." For He was speaking of the sufferings and resurrection of His body, and by that resurrection they who before doubted were led to believe—for, indeed, God, Who is always present in every place, passes not from place to place. As it is a man who goes, so it is He Himself Who comes. Furthermore, He says in another place: "Rise, let us go hence." In that, therefore, doth He go and come, which is common to Him and to us.
61. How, indeed, can He be a lesser God when He is perfect and true God Yet in respect of His humanity He is less—and still you wonder that speaking in the person of a man He called the Father greater than Himself, when in the person of a man He called Himself a worm, and not a man, saying: "But I am a worm, and no man; " and again: "He was led as a sheep to the slaughter."
62. If you pronounce Him less than the Father in this respect, I cannot deny it; nevertheless, to speak in the words of Scripture, He was not begotten inferior, but "made lower," that is, made inferior. And how was He "made lower," except that, "being in the form of God, He thought it not a prey that He should be equal with God, but emptied Himself;" not, indeed, parting with what He was, but taking up what He was not, for "He took the form of a servant."
63. Moreover, to the end that we might know Him to have been "made lower," by taking upon Him a body, David has shown that he is prophesying of a man, saying: "' What is man, that Thou art mindful of him, or the son of man, but that Thou visitest him? Thou hast made him a little lower than the angels." And in interpreting this same passage the Apostle says: "For we see Jesus, made a little lower than the angels, crowned with glory and honour because that He suffered death. in order that apart from God He might taste death for all."
64. Thus, the Son of God was made lower than, not only the Father, but angels also. And if you will turn this to His dishonour; [I ask] is then the Son, in respect of His Godhead, less than His angels who serve Him and minister to Him? Thus, in your purpose to diminish His honour, you run into the blasphemy of exalting the nature of angels above the Son of God. But "the servant is not above his master." Again, angels ministered to Him even after His Incarnation, to the end that you should acknowledge Him to have suffered no loss of majesty by reason of His bodily nature, for God could not submit to any loss of Himself, whilst that which He has taken of the Virgin neither adds to nor takes away from His divine power.
65. He, therefore, possessing the fulness of Divinity and glory, is not, in respect of His Divinity, inferior. Greater and less are distinctions proper to corporeal existences; one who is greater is so in respect of rank, or qualities, or at any rate of age. These terms lose their meaning when we come to treat of the things of God. He is commonly entitled the greater who instructs and informs another, but it is not the case with God's Wisdom that it has been built up by teaching received from another, forasmuch as Itself hath laid the foundation of all teaching. But how wisely wrote the Apostle: "In order that apart from God He might taste death for all,"—lest we should suppose the Godhead, not the flesh, to have endured that Passion!
66. If our opponents, then, have found no means to prove [the Father] greater [than the Son], let them not pervert words unto false reports, but seek out their meaning. I ask them, therefore, as touching what do they esteem the Father the greater? If it is because He is the Father, then [I answer] here we have no question of age or of time—the Father is not distinguished by white hairs, nor the Son by youthfulness —and it is on these conditions that the greater dignity of a father depends." But "father" and "son" are names, the one of the parent, the other of the child—names which seem to join rather than separate; for dutifulness inspires no loss of personal worth, inasmuch as kinship binds men together, and does not rend them asunder.
67. If, then, they cannot make the order of nature a support for any questioning, let them now believe the witness [of Scripture]. Now the Evangelist testifies that the Son is not lower [than the Father] by reason of being the Son; nay, he even declares that, in being the Son, He is equal, saying, "For the Jews sought to kill Him for this cause, that not only did He break the Sabbath, but even called God His own Father, making Himself equal to God."
68. This is not what the Jews said—it is the Evangelist who testifies that, in calling Himself God's own Son, He made Himself equal to God, for the Jews are not presented as saying, "For this cause we sought to kill Him;" the Evangelist, speaking for himself, says, "For the Jews sought to kill Him for this cause." Moreover, he has discovered the cause, [in saying] that the Jews were stirred with desire to slay Him because, when as God He broke the Sabbath, and also claimed God as His own Father, He ascribed to Himself not only the majesty of divine authority in breaking the Sabbath, but also, in speaking of His Father, the right appertaining to eternal equality.
69. Most fitting was the answer which the Son of God made to these Jews, proving Himself the Son and equal of God. "Whatsoever things," He said, "the Father hath done, the Son doeth also in like wise." The Son, therefore, is both entitled and proved the equal of the Father—a true equality, which both excludes difference of Godhead, and discovers, together with the Son, the Father also, to Whom the Son is equal; for there is no equality where there is difference, nor again where there is but one person, inasmuch as none is by himself equal to himself. Thus hath the Evangelist shown why it is fitting that Christ should call Himself the Son of God, that is, make Himself equal with God.
70. Hence the Apostle, following this revelation, hath said: "He thought it not a prey that He should be equal with God." For that which a man has not he seeks to carry off as a prey. Equality with the Father, therefore, which, as God and Lord, He possessed in His own substance, He had not as a spoil wrongfully seized. Wherefore the Apostle added [the words]: "He took the form of a servant." Now surely a servant is the opposite of an equal. Equal, therefore, is the Son, in the form of God, but inferior in taking upon Him of the flesh and in His sufferings as a man. For how could the same nature be both lower and equal? And how, if [the Son] be inferior, can He do the same things, in like manner, as the Father doeth? How, indeed, can there be sameness of operation with diversity of power? Can the inferior ever work such effects as the greater, or can there be unity of operation where there is diversity of substance?
71. Admit, therefore, that Christ, as touching His Godhead, cannot be called inferior [to the Father]. Christ speaks to Abraham: "By Myself have I sworn." Now the Apostle shows that He Who swears by Himself cannot be lower than any. Thus he saith, "When God rewarded Abraham with His promise, He swore by Himself, forasmuch as He had none other that was greater, saying, Surely with blessing will I bless thee, and with multiplying will I multiply thee." Christ had, therefore, none greater, and for that cause sware He by Himself. Moreover, the Apostle has rightly added, "for men swear by one greater than themselves," forasmuch as men have one who is greater than themselves, but God hath none.
72. Otherwise, if our adversaries will understand this passage as referred to the Father, then the rest of the record does not agree with it. For the Father did not appear to Abraham, nor did Abraham wash the feet of God the Father, but the feet of Him in Whom is the image of the man that shall be. Moreover, the Son of God saith, "Abraham saw My day, and rejoiced." It is He, therefore, Who sware by Himself, [and] Whom Abraham saw.
73. And how, indeed, hath He any greater than Himself Who is one with the Father in Godhead? Where there is unity, there is no dissimilarity, whereas between greater and less there is a distinction. The teaching, therefore, of the instance from Scripture before us, with regard to the Father and the Son, is that neither is the Father greater, nor hath the Son any that is above Him, inasmuch as in Father and Son there is no difference of Godhead parting them, but one majesty.
[The objection that the Son, being sent by the Father, is, in that regard at least, inferior, is met by the answer that He was also sent by the Spirit, Who is yet not considered greater than the Son. Furthermore, the Spirit, in His turn, is sent by the Father to the Son, in order that Their unity in action might be shown forth. It is our duty, therefore, carefully to distinguish what utterances are to be fitly ascribed to Christ as God, and what to be ascribed to Him as man.]
74. I have no fears in the matter of that commonly advanced objection, that Christ is inferior because He was sent. For even if He be inferior, yet this is not so proved; on the other hand, His equal title to honour is in truth proved. Since all honour the Son as they honour the Father, it is certain that the Son is not, in so far as being sent, inferior.
75. Regard not, therefore, the narrow bounds of human language, but the plain meaning of the words, and believe facts accomplished. Bethink you that our Lord Jesus Christ said in Isaiah that He had been sent by the Spirit. Is the Son, therefore, less than the Spirit because He was sent by the Spirit? Thus you have the record, that the Son declares Himself sent by the Father and His Spirit. "I am the beginning," He saith, "and I live for ever, and My hand hath laid the foundations of the earth, My right hand hath made the heaven to stand abidingly;" and further on: "I have spoken, and I have called; I have brought him, and have made his way to prosper. Draw ye near to Me, and hear these things: not in secret have I spoken from the beginning. When they were made, I was there: and now hath the Lord and His Spirit sent Me." Here, indeed, He Who made the heaven and the earth Himself saith that He is sent by the Lord and His Spirit. Ye see, then, that the poverty of language takes not from the honour of His mission. He, then, is sent by the Father; by the Spirit also is He sent.
76. And that you may gather that there is no separating difference of majesty, the Son in turn sends the Spirit, even as He Himself hath said: "But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from My Father—the Spirit of truth, who cometh forth from My Father." That this same Comforter is also to be sent by the Father He has already taught, saying, "But the Comforter, that Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name. " Behold their unity, inasmuch as whom God the Father sends, the Son sends also, and Whom the Father sends, the Spirit sends also. Else, if the Arians will not admit that the Son was sent, because we read that the Son is the right hand of the Father, then they themselves will confess with respect to the Father, what they deny concerning the Son, unless perchance they discover for themselves either another Father or another Son.
77. A truce, then, to vain wranglings over words, for the kingdom of God, as it is written, consisteth not in persuasive words, but in power plainly shown forth. Let us take heed to the distinction of the Godhead from the flesh. In each there speaks one and the same Son of God, for each nature is present in Him; yet while it is the same Person Who speaks, He speaks not always in the same manner. Behold in Him, now the glory of God, now the affections of man. As God He speaks the things of God, because He is the Word; as man He speaks the things of man, because He speaks in my nature.
78. "This is the living bread, which came down from heaven." This bread is His flesh, even as He Himself said: "This bread which I will give is My flesh." This is He Who came down from heaven, this is He Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into this world. Even the letter itself teaches us that not the Godhead but the flesh needed sanctification, for the Lord Himself said, "And I sanctify Myself for them," in order that thou mayest acknowledge that He is both sanctified in the flesh for us, and sanctifies by virtue of His Divinity.
79. This is the same One Whom the Father sent, but "born of a woman, born under the law," as the Apostle hath said. This is He Who saith: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; wherefore He hath anointed Me, to bring good tidings to the poor hath He sent Me:" This is He Who saith: My doctrine is not Mine, but His, Who sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself." Doctrine that is of God, then, is one thing; doctrine that is of man, another; and so when the Jews, regarding Him as man, called in question His teaching, and said," How knoweth this man letters, having never learnt?" Jesus answered and said, "My doctrine is not Mine," for, in teaching without elegance of letters, He seems to teach not as man, but rather as God, having not learned, but devised His doctrine.
80. For He hath found and devised all the way of discipline, as we read above, inasmuch as of the Son of God it hath been said: "This is our God, and none other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him, Who hath found all the way of discipline. After these things He was seen on earth, and conversed with men." How, then, could He, as divine, not have His own doctrine—He Who hath found all the way of discipline before He was seen on earth? Or how is He inferior, of Whom it is said, "None shall be accounted of in comparison with Him"? Surely He is entitled incomparable, in comparison of Whom none other can be accounted of—yet so that He cannot be accounted of before the Father. Now if men suppose that the Father is spoken of, they shall not escape running into the blasphemy of Sabellius, of ascribing the assumption of human nature to the Father.
81. Let us proceed with what follows. "He who speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory. " See the unity wherein Father and Son are plainly revelled. He who speaks cannot but be; yet that which He speaks cannot be solely from Him, for in Him all that is, is naturally derived from the Father.
82. What now is the meaning of the words "seeketh his own glory"? That is, not a glory in which the Father has no part—for indeed the Word of God is His glory. Again, our Lord saith: "that they may see My glory." But that glory of the Word is also the glory of the Father, even as it is written: "The Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father." In regard of His Godhead, therefore, the Son of God so hath His own glory, that the glory of Father and Son is one: He is not, therefore, inferior in splendour, for the glory is one, nor lower in Godhead, for the fulness of the Godhead is in Christ.
83. How, then, you ask, is it written, "Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son?" He Who saith these words needs to be glorified, say you. Thus far you have eyes to see; the remainder of the Scripture you have not read, for it proceeds: "that Thy Son may glorify Thee." Hath ever the Father need of any, in that He is to be glorified by the Son ?
[The objection taken on the ground of the Son's obedience is disproved, and the unity of power, Godhead, and operation in the Trinity set forth, Christ's obedience to His mother, to whom He certainly cannot be called inferior, is noticed.]
84. In like manner our adversaries commonly make a difficulty of the Son's obedience, forasmuch as it is written: "And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient even unto death." The writer has not only told us that the Son was obedient even unto death, but also first shown that He was man, in order that we might understand that obedience unto death was the part not of His Godhead but of His Incarnation, whereby He took upon Himself both the functions and the names belonging to our nature.
85. Thus we have learnt that the power of the Trinity is one, as we are taught both in and after the Passion itself: for the Son suffers through His body, which is the earnest of it; the Holy Spirit is poured upon the apostles: into the Father's hands the spirit is commended; furthermore, God is with a mighty voice proclaimed the Father. We have learnt that there is one form, one likeness, one sanctification, of the Father and of the Son, one activity, one glory, finally, one Godhead.
86. There is, therefore, but one only God, for it is written: "Thou shall worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shall thou serve." One God, not in the sense that the Father and the Son are the same Person, as the ungodly Sabellius affirms—but forasmuch as there is one Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. But where there is one Godhead, there is one will, one purpose.
87. Again, that thou mayest know that the Father is, and the Son is, and that the work of the Father and of the Son is one, follow the saying of the Apostle: "Now may God Himself, and our Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ direct our way unto you." Both Father and Son are named, but there is unity of direction, because unity of power. So also in another place we read: "Now may our Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, and God and our Father, Who hath loved us, and given us eternal consolation, and good hope in grace, console and strengthen your hearts." How perfect a unity it is that the Apostle presents to us, insomuch that the fount of consolation is not many, but one. Let doubt be dumb, then, or, if it will not be overcome by reason, let the thought of our Lord's gracious kindliness bend it.
88. Let us call to mind how kindly our Lord hath dealt with us, in that He taught us not only faith but manners also. For, having taken His place in the form of man, He was subject to Joseph and Mary. Was He less than all mankind, then, because He was subject? The part of dutifulness is one, that of sovereignty is another, but dutifulness doth not exclude sovereignty. Wherein, then, was He subject to the Father's law? In His body, surely, wherein He was subject to His mother.
[The purpose and healing effects of the Incarnation. The profitableness of faith, whereby we know that Christ bore all infirmities for our sakes,— Christ, Whose Godhead revealed Itself in His Passion; whence we understand that the mission of the Son of God entailed no subservience, which belief we need not fear lest it displease the Father, Who declares Himself to be well pleased in His Son.]
89. Let us likewise deal kindly, let us persuade our adversaries of that which is to their profit, "let us worship and lament before the Lord our Maker." For we would not overthrow, but rather heal; we lay no ambush for them, but warn them as in duty bound. Kindliness often bends those whom neither force nor argument will avail to overcome. Again, our Lord cured with oil and wine the man who, going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell among thieves; having forborne to treat him with the harsh remedies of the Law or the sternness of Prophecy.
90. To Him, therefore, let all come who would be made whole. Let them receive the medicine which He hath brought down from His Father and made in heaven, preparing it of the juices of those celestial fruits that wither not. This is of no earthly growth, for nature nowhere possesseth this compound. Of wondrous purpose took He our flesh, to the end that He might show that the law of the flesh had been subjected to the law of the mind, He was incarnate, that He, the Teacher of men, might overcome as man.
91. Of what profit would it have been to me, had He, as God, bared the arm of His power, and only displayed His Godhead inviolate? Why should He take human nature upon Him, but to suffer Himself to be tempted Under the conditions of my nature and my weakness? It was right that He should be tempted, that He should suffer with me. to the end that I might know how to conquer when tempted, how to escape when hard pressed. He overcame by force of continence, of contempt of riches, of faith; He trampled upon ambition, fled from intemperance, bade wantonness be far from Him.
93. This medicine Peter beheld, and left His nets, that is to say, the instruments and security of gain, renouncing the lust of the flesh as a leaky ship, that receives the bilge, as it were, of multitudinous passions. Truly a mighty remedy, that not only removed the scar of an old wound, but even cut the root and source of passion. O Faith, richer than all treasure- houses; O excellent remedy, healing our wounds and sins!
93. Let us bethink ourselves of the profitableness of right belief. It is profitable to me to know that for my sake Christ bore my infirmities, submitted to the affections of my body, that for me, that is to say, for every man, He was made sin, and a curse, that for me and in me was He humbled and made subject, that for me He is the Lamb, the Vine, the Rock, the Servant, the Son of an handmaid, knowing not the day of judgment, for my sake ignorant of the day and the hour.
94. For how could He, Who hath made days and times, be ignorant of the day? How could He not know the day, Who hath declared both the season of Judgment to come, and the cause? A curse, then, He was made not in respect of His Godhead, but of His flesh; for it is written: "Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree." In and after the flesh, therefore, He hung, and for this cause He, Who bore our curses, became a curse. He wept that thou, man, mightest not weep long. He endured insult, that thou mightest not grieve over the wrong done to thee.
95. A glorious remedy—to have consolation of Christ! For He bore these things with surpassing patience for our sakes—and we forsooth cannot bear them with common patience for the glory of His Name! Who may not learn to forgive, when assailed, seeing that Christ, even on the Cross, prayed,— yea, for them that persecuted Him? See you not that those weaknesses, as you please to call them, of Christ's are your strength? Why question Him in the matter of remedies for us? His tears wash us, His weeping cleanses us,—and there is strength in this doubt, at least, that if you begin to doubt, you will despair. The greater the insult, the greater is the gratitude due.
96. Even in the very hour of mockery and insult, acknowledge His Godhead. He hung upon the Cross, and all the elements did Him homage. The sun withdrew his rays, the daylight vanished, darkness came down and covered the land, the earth trembled; yet He Who hung there trembled not. What was it that these signs betokened, but reverence for the Creator? That He hangs upon the Cross—this, thou Arian, thou regardest; that He gives the kingdom of God—this, thou regardest not. That He tasted of death, thou readest, but that He also invited the robber into paradise, to this thou givest no heed. Thou dost gaze at the women weeping by the tomb, but not upon the angels keeping watch by it. What He said, thou readest: what He did, thou dost not read. Thou sayest that the Lord said to the Canaanitish woman: "I am not sent, but to the lost sheep of the house of Israel," thou dost not say that He did what He was besought by her to do.
97. Thou shouldst hereby understand that His being "sent" means not that He was compelled, at the command of another, but that He acted, of free will, according to His own judgment, otherwise thou dost accuse Him of despising His Father. For if, according to thine expounding, Christ had come into Jewry, as one executing the Father's commands, to relieve the inhabitants of Jewry, and none besides, and yet before that was accomplished, set free the Canaanitish woman's daughter from her complaint, surely He was not only the executor of another's instruction, but was free to exercise His own judgment. But where there is freedom to act as one will, there can be no transgressing the terms of one's mission.
98. Fear not that the Son's act displeased the Father, seeing that the Son Himself saith: "Whatsoever things are His good pleasure, I do always," and "The works that I do, He Himself doeth." How, then, could the Father be displeased with that which He Himself did through the Son? For it is One God, Who, as it is written, "hath justified circumcision in consequence of faith, and uncircumcision through faith."
99. Read all the Scriptures, mark all diligently, you will then find that Christ so manifested Himself that God might be discerned in man. Misunderstand not maliciously the Son's exultation in the Father, when you hear the Father declaring His pleasure in the Son.
[Do the Catholics or the Arians take the better course to assure themselves of the favour of Christ as their Judge? An objection grounded on Ps. cx. 1 is disposed of, it being shown that when the Son is invited by the Father to sit at His right hand, no subjection is intended to be signified—nor yet any preferment, in that the Son sits at the Father's right hand. The truth of the Trinity of Persons in God, and of the Unity of their Nature, is shown to be proved by the angelic Trisagion.]
100. Howbeit, if our adversaries cannot be turned by kindness, let us summon them before the Judge. To what Judge, then, shall we go? Surely to Him Who hath the Judgment. To the Father, then? Nay, but "the Father judgeth no man, for He hath given all judgment to the Son." He hath given, that is to say, not as of largess, but in the act of generation. See, then, how unwilling He was that thou shouldst dishonour His Son—even so that He gave Him to be thy Judge.
101. Let us see, then, before the judgment which hath the better cause, thou or I? Surely it is the care of a prudent party to a suit to gain first the favourable regard of the judge. Thou dost honour man,—dost thou not honour God? Which of the two, I ask, wins the favour of the magistrate— respect or contempt? Suppose that I am in error—as I certainly am not: is Christ displeased with the honour shown Him? We are all sinners—who, then, will deserve forgiveness, he who renders worship, or he who displays insolence?
102. If reasoning move thee not, at least let the plain aspect of the judgment move thee! Raise thine eyes to the Judge, see Who it is that is seated, with Whom He is seated, and where. Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father. If with thine eyes thou canst not perceive this, hear the words of the prophet: "The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand." The Son, therefore, sitteth at the right hand of the Father. Tell me now, thou who holdest that the things of God are to be judged of from the things of this world—say whether thou thinkest Him Who sits at the right hand to be lower? Is it any dishonour to the Father that He sits at the Son's left hand? The Father honours the Son, and thou makest it to be insult! The Father would have this invitation to be a sign of love and esteem, and thou wouldst make it an overlord's command! Christ hath risen from the dead, and sitteth at the right hand of God.
103. "But," you object, "the Father said." Good, hear now a passage where the Father doth not speak, and the Son prophesies: "Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power." This He said with regard to taking back to Himself His body—to Him the Father said: "Sit Thou at My right hand." If indeed you ask of the eternal abode of the Godhead, He said—when Pilate asked Him whether He were the King of the Jews—"For this I was born." And so indeed the Apostle shows that it is good for us to believe that Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, not by command, nor of any boon, but as God's most dearly beloved Son. For it is written for you: "Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God; savour the things that are above." This is to savour the things that be above—to believe that Christ, in His sitting, does not obey as one who receives a command, but is honoured as the well-beloved Son. It is with regard, then, to Christ's Body that the Father saith: "Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool."
104. If, again, you seek to pervert the sense of these words, "I will make Thine enemies Thy footstool," I answer that the Father also bringeth to the Son such as the Son raiseth up and quickeneth. For "No man," saith Christ, "can come to Me, except the Father, Which hath sent Me, draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day." And you say that the Son of God is subject by reason of weakness—the Son, to Whom the Father bringeth men that He may raise them up in the last day. Seemeth this in your eyes to be subjection, I pray you, where the kingdom is prepared for the Father, and the Father bringeth to the Son and there is no place for perversion of words, since the Son giveth the kingdom to the Father, and none is preferred before Him? For inasmuch as the Father rendereth to the Son, and the Son, again, to the Father, here are plain proofs of love and regard: seeing that They so render, the One to the Other, that neither He Who receiveth obtaineth as it were what was another's, nor He That rendereth loseth.
105. Moreover, the sitting at the right hand is no preferment, nor doth that at the left hand betoken dishonour, for there are no degrees in the Godhead, Which is bound by no limits of space or time, which are the weights and measures of our puny human minds. There is no difference of love, nothing that divideth the Unity.
106. But wherefore roam so far afield? Thou hast looked upon all around thee, thou hast seen the Judge, thou hast remarked the angels proclaiming Him. They praise, and thou revilest Him! Dominations and powers fall down before Him—thou speakest evil of His Name! All His Saints adore Him. but the Son of God adores not, nor the Holy Spirit. The seraphim say: "Holy, Holy, Holy!"
107. What meaneth this threefold utterance of the same name "Holy"? If thrice repeated, why is it but one act of praise? If one act of praise, why a threefold repetition? Why the threefold repetition, unless that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one in holiness? The seraph spake the name, not once, lest he should exclude the Son; not twice, lest he should pass by the Holy Spirit; not four times, lest he should conjoin created beings [in the praise of the Creator]. Furthermore, to show that the Godhead of the Trinity is One, he, after the threefold "Holy," added in the singular number "the Lord God of Sabaoth." Holy, therefore, is the Father, holy the Son, holy likewise the Spirit of God, and therefore is the Trinity adored, but adores not, and is praised, but praises not. As for me, I will rather believe as the seraphim, and adore after the manner of all the principalities and powers of heaven.
[The wicked and dishonourable opinions held by Arians, Sabellians, and Manichaeans 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,' and 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. 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' 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; 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?' 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. Thou hast not given ear to My words: 'I am not alone, but I and the Father, Who sent Me.'"
119. Now let the Manichaean 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.' Thou, Manichaean, 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?"
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? 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?' 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. If Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean. For this saying, the leper obtained his request. Enter not, I pray, into judgment with Thy servant. I ask, not that Thou mayest judge, but that Thou mayest forgive."
[The sentence of the Judge is set forth, the counter-pleas of the opposers are considered, and the finality of the sentence, from which there is no appeal, proved.]
123. What verdict do we look for from Christ? That do I know. Do I say, what verdict will He give? Nay, He hath already pronounced sentence. We have it in our hands. "Let all," saith He, "honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, Who hath sent Him. "
124. If the sentence please you not, appeal to the Father, cancel the judgment that the Father hath given. Say that He hath a Son Who is unlike Him. He will reply: "Then have I lied, I, Who said to the Son, 'Let us make man in Our image and likeness.'"
125. Tell the Father that He hath created the Son, and He will answer: "Why, then, hast thou worshipped One Whom thou thoughtest to be a created being?"
126. Tell Him that He hath begotten a Son Who is inferior to Himself, and He will reply: "Compare Us, and let Us see."
127. Tell Him that you owed no credence to the Son, whereto He will answer: "Did I not say to thee, ' This is My well-beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him'?" What mean these words "hear ye Him," if not "Hear Him when He saith: 'All things that the Father hath are Mine' "? This did the apostles hear, even as it is written: "And they fell upon their faces, and were greatly afraid." If they who confessed Him fell to the earth, what shall they do who have denied Him? But Jesus laid His hand upon His apostles, and raised them up—you He will suffer to lie prone, that ye may see not the glory ye have denied.
128. Let us look to it, then, forasmuch as whom the Son condemneth, the Father condemneth also, and therefore let us honour the Son, even as we honour the Father, that by the Son we may be able to come to the Father.
[St. Ambrose deprecates any praise of his own merits: in any case, the Faith is sufficiently defended by the authoritative support of holy Scripture, to whose voice the Arians, stubborn as the Jews, are deaf. He prays that they may be moved to love the truth; meanwhile, they are to be avoided, as heretics and enemies of Christ.]
129. These arguments, your Majesty, I have set forth, briefly and summarily, in the rough, rather than in any form of full explanation and exact order. If indeed the Arians regard them as imperfect and unfinished, I indeed confess that they are scarce even begun; if they think that there be any still to be brought forward, I allow that there be well-nigh all; for whereas the unbelievers are in uttermost need of arguments, the faithful have enough and to spare. Indeed, Peter's single confession was abundant to warrant faith in Christ: "Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;" for it is enough to know His Divine Generation, without division or diminution, being neither derivation nor creation.
130. This, indeed, is declared in the books of Holy Writ, one and all, and yet is still doubted by misbelievers: "For," as it is written, "the heart of this people is become gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes have they darkened, lest ever they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand in their heart." For, like the Jews, the Arians' wont is to stop their ears, or make an uproar, as often as the Word of salvation is heard.
131. And what wonder, if unbelievers doubt the word of man, when they refuse to believe the Word of God? The Son of God, as you will find it written in the Gospel, said: "Father, glorify Thy Name," and from heaven was heard the voice of the Father, saying: "I have both glorified it, and again will glorify." These words the unbelievers heard, but believed not. The Son spake, the Father answered, and the Jews said: "A peal of thunder answered Him;" others said: "An angel spake to Him."
132. Paul, moreover, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, when by the Voice of Christ he received the call of grace, several companions journeying with him at the same time, alone said that he had heard Christ's Voice. Thus, your sacred Majesty, he who believes, hears— and he hears, that he may believe, whilst he who believes not, hears not, nay, he will not, he cannot hear, lest he should believe!
133. As for me, indeed, would that they might have a will to hear, that they might believe—to hear with true love and meekness, as men seeking what is true, and not assailing all truth. For it is written that we pay no heed to "endless fables and genealogies, which do rather raise disputes than set forward the godly edification, which is in faith. But the aim of the charge is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, whence some have erred and betaken themselves to empty babbling, desirous of being teachers of the law, without understanding the words they say, nor the things whereof they speak with assurance." In another place also the same Apostle saith: "But foolish and ignorant questionings do thou avoid."
134. Such men, who sow disputes—that is to say, heretics—the Apostle bids us leave alone. Of them he says in yet another place, that "certain shall depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits, and the doctrines of devils."
135. John, likewise, saith that heretics are Antichrists, plainly marking out the Arians. For this [Arian] heresy began to be after all other heresies, and hath gathered the poisons of all. As it is written of the Antichrist, that "he opened his mouth to blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His Name, and to make war with His saints," so do they also dishonour the Son of God, and His martyrs have they not spared. Moreover, that which perchance Antichrist will not do, they have falsified the holy Scriptures. And thus he who saith that Jesus is not the Christ, the same is Antichrist; he who denies the Saviour of the world, denies Jesus; he who denies the Son, denies the Father also, for it is written; "Every one which denieth the Son, denieth the Father likewise."
[St. Ambrose assures Gratian of victory, declaring that it has been foretold in the prophecies of Ezekiel. This hope is further stayed upon the emperor's piety, the former disasters being the punishment of Eastern heresy. The book doses with a prayer to God, that He will now show His mercy, and save the army, the land, and the sovereign of the faithful.]
136. I must no further detain your Majesty, in this season of preparation for war, and the achievement of victory over the Barbarians. Go forth, sheltered, indeed, under the shield of faith, and girt with the sword of the Spirit; go forth to the victory, promised of old time, and foretold in oracles given by God.
137. For Ezekiel, in those far-off days, already prophesied the minishing of our people, and the Gothic wars, saying: "Prophesy, therefore, Son of Man, and say: O Gog, thus saith the Lord—Shalt thou not, in that day when My people Israel shall be established to dwell in peace, rise up and come forth from thy place, from the far north, and many nations with thee, all riders upon horses, a great and mighty gathering, and the valour of many hosts? Yea, go up against my people Israel, as clouds to cover the land, in the last days."
138. That Gog is the Goth, whose coming forth we have already seen, and over whom victory in days to come is promised, according to the word of the Lord: "And they shall spoil them, who had been their despoilers, and plunder them, who had carried off their goods for a prey, saith the Lord. And it shall be in that day, that I will give to Gog"—that is, to the Goths—"a place that is famous, for Israel an high-heaped tomb of many men, of men who have made their way to the sea, and it shall reach round about, and close the mouth of the valley, and there [the house of Israel shall] overthrow Gog and all his multitude, and it shall be called the valley of the multitude of Gog: and the house of Israel shall overwhelm them, that the land may be cleansed."
139. Nor, furthermore, may we doubt, your sacred Majesty, that we, who have undertaken the contest with alien unbelief, shall enjoy the aid of the Catholic Faith that is strong in you. Plainly indeed the reason of God's wrath has been already made manifest, so that belief in the Roman Empire was first overthrown, where faith in God gave way.
140. No desire have I to recount the deaths, tortures, and banishments of confessors, the offices of the faithful made into presents for traitors. Have we not heard, from all along the border,—from Thrace, and through Dacia by the river, Moesia, and all Valeria of the Pannonians,- -a mingled tumult of blasphemers preaching and barbarians invading? What profit could neighbours so bloodthirsty bring us, or how could the Roman State be safe with such defenders?
141. Enough, yea, more than enough, Almighty God, have we now atoned for the deaths of confessors, the banishment of priests, and the guilt of wickedness so overweening, by our own blood, our own banishment— sufficiently plain is it that they, who have broken faith, cannot be safe. Turn again, O Lord, and set up the banners of Thy faith.
142. No military eagles, no flight of birds, here lead the van of our army, but Thy Name, Lord Jesus, and Thy worship. This is no land of unbelievers, but the land whose custom it is to send forth confessors— Italy; Italy, ofttimes tempted, but never drawn away; Italy, which your Majesty hath long defended, and now again rescued from the barbarian. No wavering mind in our emperor, but faith firm fixed.
143. Show forth now a plain sign of Thy Majesty, that he who believes Thee to be the true Lord of Hosts, and Captain of the armies of heaven; he who believes that Thou art the true Power and Wisdom of God, no being of time nor of creation, but even as it is written, the eternal Power and Divinity of God, may, upheld by the aid of thy Might Supreme, win the prize of victory for his Faith.
[Statement of the reasons wherefore the matters, treated of shortly in the two former, are dealt with more at length in the three later books. Defence of the employment of fables, which is supported by the example of Holy Writ, wherein are found various figures of poetic fable, in particular the Sirens, which are figures of sensual pleasures, and which Christians ought to be taught to avoid, by the words of Paul and the deeds of Christ.]
1. Forasmuch as your most gracious Majesty had laid command upon me to write for your own instruction some treatise concerning the Faith, and had yourself called me to your preesence and encouraged my timidity, I, being as one on the eve of battle, composed but two books only, for the pointing out of certain ways and paths by which our faith progresses.
2. Seeing, however, that certain malicious minds, bent on sowing disputes, have not yet exhausted the force of their assaults, whilst your gracious Majesty's pious anxiety calls me to further labours, inasmuch as you desire to try in more things him whom you have proved in a few, I am resolved to deal somewhat more particularly with the matters whereof I have already treated in a few words, lest it should be thought, not that I have advanced those propositions in quietness and confidence, but that I, having asserted them, doubted and so abandoned their defence.
3. Again, seeing that we spoke of the Hydra and Scylla (I. vi. 46), and brought them in by way of comparison, to show how we must beware, whether of the ever-renewed outgrowths of infidelity, or the ill-omened shipwrecks made upon its shallows, if any one holds that such embellishments of an argument, borrowed from the romances of poets, are unlawful, and, from lack of opportunity to speak evil of my faith, assails something in my language, then let him know that not only phrases but complete verses of poetry have been woven into the text of Holy Writ.
4. Whence, for instance, came that verse, "His offspring truly are we," whereof Paul, by prophetic experience, taught, makes use? The course of prophetic speech avoids neither the Giants nor the Valley of the Titans, and Isaiah spake of sirens and the daughters of ostriches. Jeremiah also hath prophesied concerning Babylon, that the daughters of sirens shall dwell therein, in order to show that the snares of Babylon, that is, of the tumult of this world, are to be likened to stories of old-time lust, that seemed upon this life's rocky shores to sing some tuneful song, but deadly withal, to catch the souls of youth,— which the Greek poet himself tells us that the wise man escaped through being bound, as it were, in the chains of his own prudence. So hard a thing, before Christ's coming, was it esteemed, even for the stronger, to save themselves from the deceitful shows and allurements of pleasure.
5. But if the poet judged the enticement of worldly pleasure and licence destructive of men's minds and a sure cause of shipwreck, what ought we to think, for whom it hath been written: "Train not the flesh in concupiscence"? And again: "I chastise my body and bring it into servitude, lest whilst I preach to others, I myself become a castaway."
6. Truly, Christ won salvation for us, not by luxury but by fasting. Moreover, it was not to obtain favour for Himself, but to instruct us, that He fasted. Nor yet did He hunger because He was overcome by the weakness of the body, but by His hunger He proved that He had verily taken upon Himself a body; that so He might teach us that He had taken not only our body, but also the weaknesses of that body, even as it is written: "Surely He hath taken our infirmities and borne our sicknesses."
[The incidents properly affecting the body which Christ for our sake took upon Him are not to be accounted to His Godhead, in respect whereof He is the Most Highest. To deny which is to say that the Father was incarnate. When we read that God is one, and that there is none other beside Him, or that He alone has immortality, this must be understood as true of Christ also, not only to avoid the sinful heresy above-mentioned (Patripassianism), but also because the activity of the Father and the Son is declared to be one and the same.]
7. It was a bodily weakness, then, that is to say, a weakness of ours, that He hungered; when He wept, and was sorrowful even unto death, it was of our nature. Why ascribe the properties and incidents of our nature to the Godhead? That He was even, as we are told, "made," is a property of a body. Thus, indeed, we read: "Sion our mother shall say: 'He is a man,' and in her He was made man, and the Most High Himself laid her foundations." "He was made man," mark you, not "He was made God."
8. But what is He Who is at once the Most High and man, what but "the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus Who gave Himself as a ransom for us"? This place indeed refers properly to His Incarnation, for our redemption was made by His Blood, our pardon comes through His Power, our life is secured through His Grace. He gives as the Most High, He prays as man. The one is the office of the Creator, the other of a Redeemer. Be the gifts as distinct as they may, yet the Giver is one, for it was fitting that our Maker should be our Redeemer.
9. Who indeed can deny that we have plain evidence that Christ is the Most High? He who knows otherwise makes the sacrament of Incarnation to be the work of God the Father. But that Christ is the Most High is removed beyond doubt by what Scripture hath said in another place, concerning the mystery of the Passion: "The Most High sent forth His Voice, and the earth was shaken." And in the Gospel you may read: "And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare His ways." Who is "the Highest"? The Son of God. He, then, Who is the Most High God is Christ.
10. Again, whilst God is everywhere said to be One God, the Son of God is not separated from this Unity. For He Who is the Most High is alone, as it is written: "And let them know that Thy Name is the Lord: Thou alone art Most High over all the earth."
11. And so the adversaries' injurious conclusion is rejected with contempt and disgrace, which they drew from the Scripture speaking of God: "Who alone hath immortality and dwelleth in light unapproachable; for these words are written of God which Name belongs equally to Father and to Son.
12. If, indeed, wheresoever they read the Name of God, they deny that there is any thought of the Son [as well as the Father], they blaspheme, inasmuch as they deny the Son's Divine Sovereignty, and they shall appear as though they shared the sinful error of the Sabellians in teaching the Incarnation of the Father. Let them, indeed explain how they can fail to interpret in a sense blasphemous to the Father the words of the Apostle: "In Whom ye did also rise again, by faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead." Let them also take warning from what follows of what they are running upon—for this is what comes after: "And though ye were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He quickened us with Him, pardoning us all our offences, blotting out the handwriting of the Ordinance, which was opposed to us, and removed it from our midst, nailing it to His Cross, divesting Himself of the flesh."
13. We are not, then, to suppose that the Father Who raised the flesh is alone [God]; nor, again, are we to suppose the like of the Son, Whose Body s was raised again. He Who raised, did surely also quicken; and He who quickened, also pardoned sins; He who pardoned sins, also blotted out the handwriting; He Who blotted out the handwriting, also nailed it to the Cross: He who nailed it to the Cross, divested Himself of the flesh. But it was not the Father Who divested Himself of the flesh; for not the Father, but, as we read, the Word was made flesh. You see, then, that the Arians, in dividing the Father from the Son, run into danger of saying that the Father endured the Passion.
14. We, however, can easily show that the words treat of the Son's action, for the Son Himself indeed raised His own Body again, as He Himself said: "Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it again." And He Himself quickens us together with His Body: "For as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, so also the Son quickeneth Whom He will." And He Himself hath granted forgiveness for sins, saying, "Thy sins be forgiven thee." He too hath nailed the handwriting of the record to His Cross, in that He was crucified, and suffered in the body. Nor did any divest Himself of the flesh, save the Son of God, Who invested Himself therewith. He, therefore, Who hath achieved the work of our resurrection is plainly pointed out to be very God.
[That the Father and the Son must not be divided is proved by the words of the Apostle, seeing that it is befitting to the Son that He should be blessed, only Potentate, and immortal, by nature, that is, and not by grace, as even the angels themselves are immortal, and that He should dwell in the unapproachable light. How it is that the Father and the Son are alike and equally said to be "alone."]
15. When, therefore, you read the Name "God," separate neither Father nor Son, for the Godhead of the Father and the Son is one and the same, and therefore separate them not, when you read the words "blessed and only Potentate," for the words are spoken of God, even as you may read: "I charge thee before God, Who quickeneth all things." Christ also indeed doth quicken, and therefore the Name of God is meetly given both to the Father and to the Son, inasmuch as the effect of their activity is in agreement. Let us go on to the words following: "I Charge thee," he says, "before God, Who quickeneth all things, and Jesus Christ."
16. The Word is in God, even as it is written: "In God will I praise His Word." In God is His Eternal Power, even Jesus; in [speaking of] God, therefore, the Apostle hath witnessed to the unity of the Godhead, whilst by the Name of Christ he hath witnessed to the sacrament of the Incarnation.
17. Furthermore, to show that he hath spoken of the Incarnation of Christ, he added: "Who bore witness under Pontius Pilate with the good confession," [I charge thee] "keep undefiled the commandment, until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Which in His own good time the blessed and only Potentate shall manifest, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone hath immortality, and dwelleth in light unapproachable, Whom no man hath seen, nor can see." Those words, then, are written with regard to God, of which Name the dignity and truth are common to [both the Father and] the Son.
18. Why, then, should there be no thought of the Son in this place, seeing that all these things hold good of the Son also? If they do not so, then deny His Godhead, and so mayest thou deny what is proper to be said of God. His Blessedness cannot be denied, Who bestows blessings, for "Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven." He cannot but be called "Blessed," Who hath given us wholesome teaching, even as it is written: "Which is according to the Gospel of the beauty of the Blessed God." His Power cannot be denied, of Whom the Father saith: "I have laid help upon One that is mighty." And who dare refuse to acknowledge Him to be immortal, when He Himself bath made others also immortal, as it is written of the Wisdom of God: "By her shall I possess immortality."
19. But the immortality of His Nature is one thing, that of ours is another. Things perishable are not to be compared to things divine. The Godhead is the one only Substance that death cannot touch, and therefore it is that the Apostle, though knowing both the [human] soul and angels to be immortal, declared that God only had immortality. In truth, even the soul may die: "The soul that sinneth, it shall die," and an angel is not absolutely immortal, his immortality depending on the will of the Creator.
20. Do not hastily reject this, because Gabriel dies not, nor Raphael, nor Uriel. Even in their nature there is a capacity of sin, though not one of improvement by discipline, for every reasonable creature is exposed to influences from without itself, and liable to judgment. It is on the influences which work upon us that the award of judgment, and corruption, or advance to perfection, do depend, and therefore Ecclesiastes saith: "For God shall bring all His work to judgment." Every creature, then, has within it the possibility of corruption and death, even though it do not [at present] die or commit sin; nor, if in anything it deliver not itself over to sin, hath it this boon of its immortal nature, but of discipline or of grace. Immortality, then, that is of a gift is one thing: immortality without the possibility of change is another.
21. Do we deny the immortality of Christ's Godhead, because He tasted death for all in the flesh? Then is Gabriel better than Christ, for Gabriel never died, but Christ gave up the ghost. But the servant is not above his lord, and we must discern the weakness of flesh from the eternity of Godhead. Christ's Death had its source in the flesh, immortality is of the nature of Christ's sovereignty. But if the Godhead brought it to pass that the flesh saw not corruption, the flesh being surely by nature liable to corruption, how could the Godhead itself have died?
22. And how is it that the Son dwelleth not in light unapproachable, if He is in the bosom of the Father, if the Father is Light, and the Son also is Light, because God is Light? Or, if we suppose some other light, beside the Light of the Godhead, to be the unapproachable Light, is, then, this Light better than the Father, so that He is not in that Light, Who, as it is written, is both with the Father and in the Father? Let men, therefore, not exclude the thought of the Son, when they read only of "God"—and let them not exclude that of the Father, when they read of "the Son" only.
23. On earth, the Son is not without the Father, and thou thinkest that the Father is without the Son in heaven? The Son is in the flesh— (when I say "He is in the flesh" or "He is on earth," I speak as though we lived in the days whose story is in the Gospel, for now we no longer know Christ "after the flesh")—He is in the flesh, and He is not alone, as it is written: "And I am not alone, because the Father is with Me," and think you that the Father dwells alone in the Light?
24. Lest you should regard this argument as mere speculation take this sentence of authority. "No man," saith the Scripture, "hath seen God at any time, save the Only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father; He hath revealed Him." How can the Father be in solitude, if the Son be in the bosom of the Father? How doth the Son reveal Him, Whom He seeth not? The Father, then, exists not alone.
25. Observe now what the "solitude" of the Father and of the Son is. The Father is alone, because there is no other Father; the Son is alone, because there is no other Son; God is alone, because the Godhead of the Trinity is One.
[We are told that Christ was only "made" so far as regards the flesh. For the redemption of mankind He needed no means of aid, even as He needed none in order to His Resurrection, whereas others, in order to raise the dead, had need of recourse to prayer. Even when Christ prayed, the prayer was offered by Him in His capacity as human; whilst He must be accounted divine from the fact that He commanded (that such and such things should be done). On this point the devil's testimony is truer than the Arians' arguments. The discussion concludes with an explanation of the reason why the title of "mighty" is given to the Son of Man.]
26. It is now sufficiently made plain that the Father is not God in solitude, without the Son, and that the Son cannot be thought of as God alone, without the Father, for it is in respect of His flesh that we read that the Son of God was "made," not in respect of His generation from God the Father.
27. Indeed, in what sense He was "made" He has declared by the mouth of the holy patriarch, saying: "For My soul is filled with sorrow to overflowing, and My life hath drawn near unto hell. I have been counted with them that go down into the pit; I have been made as a man free, without help, amongst the dead." Here, then, we read: "I have been made as a man," not "I have been made as God;" and again: "My soul overfloweth with sorrows." "My soul," mark you, not "My Godhead." He was "made" in so far as that was concerned wherein He was due to hell, wherein He was reckoned with others, for the Godhead admits of no likeness which may be ground for classing it with others. Yet mark how the majesty of Godhead shows itself in Christ, even in that flesh which was appointed to death. Although He was "made" as a man, and "made" as flesh, yet He was made free amongst the dead, "free, without help."
28. But how can the Son say here that He was without help, when it has already been said: "I have laid help upon One that is mighty"? Distinguish here also the two natures present. The flesh hath need of help, the Godhead hath no need. He is free, then, because the chains of death had no hold upon Him. He was not made prisoner by the powers of darkness, it is He Who exerted power amongst them. He is "without help," because He Himself, the Lord, hath by no office of messenger or ambassador, but by His own might, saved His people. How could He, Who raised others to life, require any help in order to raise His own body?
29. And though men also have raised the dead, still they did this not of their own power, but in the Name of Christ. To ask is one thing, to command is another; to obtain is different from bestowing.
30. Elijah, then, raised the dead, but he prayed—he did not command. Elisha raised one to life after laying himself upon the dead body, in accordance with its posture; and, again, the very contact of Elisha's corpse gave life to the dead, that the prophet might foreshow the coming of Him, Who, being sent in the likeness of sinful flesh, should, even after His burial, raise the dead to life.
31. Peter, again, when he healed Aeneas, said: "In the Name of Jesus of Nazareth, rise and walk." Not in his own name, but in the Name of Christ. But "rise" is a command; on the other hand, it is an instance of confidence in one's right, not an arrogant claim to power, and the authority of the command stood in the effective influence of the Name, not in its own might. What answer, then, make the Arians? Peter commands in the Name of Christ,—this on the one hand: on the other, they will have it that the Son of God did not command, but requested.
32. We read, they objected, of His uttering a prayer. But take note of the difference. He prays as Son of Man, He commands as Son of God. Will you not ascribe unto the Son of God what even the devil has ascribed? Will you accuse yourselves of greater wickedness than Satan's? The devil saith: "If Thou be the Son of God, command this stone that it become bread." Satan saith "command," you say "entreat." The devil believes that, at the word of God's Son, the nature of an elementary substance may be exchanged for that of a composite one; you think that, unless the Son of God prefers a request, even His Will cannot be done. Again, the devil thinks that the Son of God is to be esteemed from His power, you that He is to be esteemed from His infirmity. The devil's temptations are more tolerable than the Arians' disputings.
33. Let us not, then, be troubled if we find the Son of Man entitled "mighty" in one place, and yet in another, that the Lord of glory was crucified. What might is greater than sovereignty over the powers of heaven? But this was in the hands of Him Who ruled over thrones, principalities, angels; for, although He was amongst the wild beasts, as it is written, yet angels ministered to Him, that you may perceive the difference between what is proper to the Incarnation, and what is proper to Sovereignty. So far as His flesh is concerned, then, He endures the assault of wild beasts; in regard of His Godhead, He is adored by angels.
34. We have learnt, then, that He was made man, and that His being made must be referred to His manhood. Furthermore, in another passage of Scripture, you may read: "Who was made for Him of the seed of David," that is to say, in respect of the flesh He was "made" of the seed of David, but He was God begotten of God before the worlds.
[Passages brought forward from Scripture to show that "made" does not always mean the same as "created;" whence it is concluded that the letter of Holy Writ should not be made the ground of captious arguments, after the manner of the Jews, who, however, are shown to be not so bad as the heretics, and thus the principle already set forth is confirmed anew.]
35. At the same time, becoming does not always imply creation; for we read: "Lord, Thou art become our refuge," and "Thou hast become my salvation." Plainly, here is no statement of the fact or purpose of a creation, but God is said to have become my "refuge" and have turned to my "salvation," even as the Apostle hath said: "Who became for us Wisdom from God, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption," that is, that Christ was "made" for us, of the Father, not created. Again, the writer has explained in the sequel in what sense he says that Christ was made Wisdom for us: "But we preach the Wisdom of God in doctrine of mystery, which Wisdom is hidden, foreordained by God before the existence of the world s for our glory, and which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known they would never have crucified the Lord of glory." When the mystery of the Passion is set forth, surely there is no speaking of an eternal process of generation.
36. The Lord's Cross, then, is my wisdom; the Lord's Death my redemption; for we are redeemed with His precious blood, as the Apostle Peter bath said. With His blood, then, as man, the Lord redeemed us, Who also, as God, hath forgiven sins.
37. Let us not, therefore, lay snares as it were in words, and eagerly seek out entanglements therein; let us not, because misbelievers make out the written word to mean that it means not, set forth only what this letter bears on the face of it, instead of the underlying sense. This way went the Jews to destruction, despising the deep-hidden meaning, and following only after the bare form of the word, for "the letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive."
38. And yet, of these two grievous impieties, to ascribe to the Godhead what is true only of manhood is perchance more detestable than to attribute to spirit what belongs only to letter. The Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends; the Arians degrade the majesty of Godhead to the weakness of humanity. Detestable as are the Jews, who crucified the Lord's flesh, more detestable still do I hold them who have believed that the Godhead of Christ was nailed to the Cross. So one who ofttimes had dealings with Jews said: "An heretic avoid, after once reproving him"
39. Nor, again, are these men careful to avoid doing dishonour to the Father, in their impious application of the fact, that Christ was "made" Wisdom for us, to His incomprehensible generation, that transcends all limits and divisions of time; for, leaving it out of account that dishonour done to the Son is an insult to the Father, they do even carry their blasphemy in assault upon the Father, of Whom it is written: "Let God be made truthful, but every man a liar." If indeed they think that the Son is spoken of, they do not foreclose against His generation, but in that they rest on the authority of this text they do confess that which they reject, namely, that Christ is God, and true God.
40. It would be a lengthy matter were I to pass in review each several place where we read of His being "made," not indeed by nature, but by way of gracious dispensation. Moses, for example, saith: "Thou art made my Helper and Protector, to save me;" and David: "Be unto me for a God of salvation, and an house of refuge, that Thou mayest save me;" and Isaiah: "He is become an Helper for every city that is lowly." Of a surety the holy men say not to God: "Thou hast been created," but "By Thy grace Thou art made a Protector and Helper unto us."
[In order to dispose of an objection grounded on a text in St. John, St. Ambrose first shows that the Arian interpretation lends countenance to the Manichaeans; then, after setting forth the different ways of dividing the words in this same passage, he shows plainly that it cannot, without dishonour to the Father, be understood with such reference to the Godhead as the Arians give it, and expounds the true meaning thereon.]
41. We have no reason, therefore, to fear the argument which the Arians, in their reckless manner of expounding, use to construct, showing that the Word of God was "made," for, say they, it is written: "That which has been made in Him is life."
42. First of all, let them understand that if they make the words "That which has been made" to refer to the Godhead, they entangle themselves in the difficulties raised by the Manichaeans, for these people argue: "If that which has been made in Him is life, then there is something which has not been made in Him, and is death," so that they may impiously bring in two principles. But this teaching the Church condemns.
43. Again, how can the Arians prove that the Evangelist actually said this? The most part of those who are learned in the Faith read the passage as follows: "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that has been made." Others read thus: "All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made." Then they proceed: "What has been made," and to this they join the words "in Him;" that is to say, "But whatsover is has been made in Him." But what mean the words "in Him"? The Apostle tells us, when he says: "In Him we have our being, and live, and move."
44. Howbeit, let them read the passage as they will, they cannot diminish the majesty of God the Word, in referring to His Person, as subject, the words "That which was made," without also doing dishonour to God the Father, of Whom it is written: "But he who doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest that they are wrought in God." See then—here we read of man's works being wrought in God, and yet for all that we cannot understand the Godhead as the subject of them. We must either recognize the works as wrought through Him, as the Apostle's affirmation showeth that "all things are through Him, and were created in Him, and He is before all, and all things exist together in Him," or, as the witness of the text here cited teaches us, we ought to regard the virtues whereby the fruit of life eternal is gained, as wrought in God—chastity, piety, devoutness, faith, and others of this kind, whereby the will of God is expressed.
45. Just as the works, then, are the expression of the will and power of God the Father, so are they of Christ's, even as we read: "Created in Christ in good works;" and in the psalm: "Peace be made in Thy power;" and again: "In wisdom hast Thou made them all." "In wisdom hast Thou made," mark you—not "Thou hast made wisdom;" for since all things have been made in wisdom, and Christ is the Wisdom of God, then this Wisdom is plainly not an accident, but a substance, and an everlasting one, but if the Wisdom hath been made, then is it made in a worse condition than all things, forasmuch as it could not, by itself, be made Wisdom. If, then, being made is oftentimes referred to something accidental, not to the essence of a thing, so may creation also be referred to some end had in view.
[Solomon's words, "The Lord created Me," etc., mean that Christ's Incarnation was done for the redemption of the Father's creation, as is shown by the Son's own words. That He is the "beginning" may be understood from the visible proofs of His virtuousness, and it is shown how the Lord opened the ways of all virtues, and was their true beginning.]
46. Hereby we are brought to understand that the prophecy of the Incarnation, "The Lord created me the beginning of His ways for His works," means that the Lord Jesus was created of the Virgin for the redeeming of the Father's works. Truly, we cannot doubt that this is spoken of the mystery of the Incarnation, forasmuch as the Lord took upon Him our flesh, in order to save the works of His hands from the slavery of corruption, so that He might, by the sufferings of His own body, overthrow him who had the power of death. For Christ's flesh is for the sake of things created, but His Godhead existed before them, seeing that He is before all things, whilst all things exist together in Him.
47. His Godhead, then, is not by reason of creation, but creation exists because of the Godhead; even as the Apostle showed, saying that all things exist because of the Son of God, for we read as follows: "But it was fitting that He, through Whom and because of Whom are all things, after bringing many sons to glory, should, as Captain of their salvation, be made perfect through suffering." Has he not plainly declared that the Son of God, Who, by reason of His Godhead, was the Creator of all, did in after time, for the salvation of His people, submit to the taking on of the flesh and the suffering of death?
48. Now for the sake of what works the Lord was "created" of a virgin, He Himself, whilst healing the blind man, has shown, saying: "In Him must I work the works of Him that sent Me." Furthermore He said in the same Scripture, that we might believe Him to speak of the Incarnation: "As long as I am in this world, I am the Light of this world," for, so far as He is man, He is in this world for a season, but as God He exists at all times. In another place, too, He says: "Lo, I am with you even unto the end of the world."
49. Nor is there any room for questioning with respect to "the beginning," seeing that when, during His earthly life, He was asked, "Who art Thou?" He answered: "The beginning, even as I tell you." This refers not only to the essential nature of the eternal Godhead, but also to the visible proofs of virtues, for hereby hath He proved Himself the eternal God, in that He is the beginning of all things, and the Author of each several virtue, in that He is the Head of the Church, as it is written: "Because He is the Head of the Body, of the Church; Who is the beginning, first-begotten from the dead."
50. It is clear, then, that the words "beginning of His ways," which, as it seems, we must refer to the mystery of the putting on of His body, are a prophecy of the Incarnation. For Christ's purpose in the Incarnation was to pave for us the road to heaven. Mark how He says: "I go up to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God." Then, to give you to know that the Almighty Father appointed His ways to the Son, after the Incarnation, you have in Zechariah the words of the angel speaking to Joshua clothed in filthy garments: "Thus saith the Lord Almighty: If thou wilt walk in My ways and observe My precepts." What is the meaning of that filthy garb save the putting on of the flesh?
51. Now the ways of the Lord are, we may say, certain courses taken in a good life, guided by Christ, Who says, "I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life." The way, then, is the surpassing power of God, for Christ, is our way, and a good way, too, is He, a way which hath opened the kingdom of heaven to believers. Moreover, the ways of the Lord are straight, as it is written: "Make Thy ways known unto me, O Lord." Chastity is a way, faith is a way, abstinence is a way. There is, indeed, a way of virtue, and there is a way of wickedness; for it is written: "And see if there be any way of wickedness in me."
52. Christ, then, is the beginning of our virtue. He is the beginning of purity, Who taught maidens not to look for the embraces of men, but to yield the purity of their bodies and minds to the service of the Holy Spirit rather than to a husband. Christ is the beginning of frugality, for He became poor, though He was rich. Christ is the beginning of patience, for when He was reviled, He reviled not again, when He was struck, He did not strike back. Christ is the beginning of humility, for He took the form of a servant, though in the majesty of His power He was equal with God the Father. From Him each several virtue has taken its origin.
53. For this cause, then, that we might learn these divers virtues, "a Son was given us, Whose beginning was upon His shoulder." That "beginning" is the Lord's Cross—the beginning of strong courage, wherewith a way has been opened for the holy martyrs to enter the sufferings of the Holy War.
[The prophecy of Christ's Godhead and Manhood, contained in the verse of Isaiah just now cited, is unfolded, and its force in refuting various heresies demonstrated.]
54. This beginning did Isaiah see, and therefore he says: "A Child is born, a Son is given to us," as also did the Magi, and therefore worshipped they, when they saw the little One in the stable, and said: "A Child is born," and, when they saw the star, declared, "A Son is given to us." On the one hand, a gift from earth—on the other, a gift from heaven—and both are One Person, perfect in respect of each, without any changeableness in the Godhead, as without any taking away from the fulness of the Manhood. One Person did the Magi adore, to one and the same they offered their gifts, to show that He Who was seen in the stall was the very Lord of heaven.
55. Mark how the two verbs differ in their import: "A Child is born, a Son is given." Though born of the Father, yet is He not born, but given to us, forasmuch as the Son is not for our sakes, but we for the Son's. For indeed He was not born to us, being born before us, and the maker of all things created: nor is He now brought to life for the first time, Who was always, and was in the beginning; on the other hand, that which before- time was not is born to us. Again we find it thus recorded, how that the angel, when he spoke to the shepherds, said that He had been born: "Who is this day born to us a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David." To us, then, was born that which was not before—that is, a child of the Virgin, a body from Mary—for this was made after man had been created, whereas [the Godhead] was before us.
56. Some manuscripts read as follows: "A Child is born to us a Son is given to us;" that is to say, He, Who is Son of God, is born as Mary's child for us, and given to us. As for the fact that He is "given," listen to the prophet's words: "And grant us Thy salvation." But that which is above us is given: what is from heaven is given: even as indeed we read concerning the Spirit, that "the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who is given unto us."
57. But note how this passage is as water upon fire to a crowd of heresies. "A Child is born to us," not to the Jews; "to us," not to the Manichaeans; "to us," not to the Marcionites. The prophet says "to us," that is, to those who believe, not to unbelievers. And He indeed, in His pitifulness, was born for all, but it is the disloyalty of heretics that hath brought it to pass that the birth of Him Who was born for all should not profit all. For the sun is bidden to rise upon the good and the bad, but to them that see not there is no appearance of sunrise.
58. Even as the Child, then, is born not unto all, but unto the faithful: so the Son is given to the faithful and not to the unbelieving. He is given to us, not to the Photinians; for they affirm that the Son of God was not given unto us, but was born and first began to exist amongst us. To us is He given, not to the Sabellians, who will not hear of a Son being given, maintaining that Father and Son are one and the same. Unto us is He given, not unto the Arians, in whose judgment the Son was not given for salvation, but sent over subject and inferior, to whom, moreover, He is no "Counsellor," inasmuch as they hold that He knows nought of the future, no Son, since they believe not in His eternity, though of the Word of God it is written: "That which was in the beginning;" and again: "In the beginning was the Word." To return to the passage we set before us to discuss. "In the beginning," saith the Scripture, "before He made the earth, before He made the deeps, before He brought forth the springs of water, before all the hills He begat Me."
[The preceding quotation from Solomon's Proverbs receives further explanation.]
59. Perchance you will ask how I came to cite, as referring to the Incarnation of Christ, the place, "The Lord created Me," seeing that the creation of the universe took place before the Incarnation of Christ? But consider that the use of holy Scripture is to speak of things to come as though already past, and to make intimation of the union of two natures, Godhead and Manhood, in Christ, lest any should deny either His Godhead or His Manhood.
60. In Isaiah, for example, you may read: "A Child is born unto us, and a Son is given unto us;" so here also [in the Proverbs] the prophet sets forth first the creation of the flesh, and joined thereto the declaration of the Godhead, that you might know that Christ is not two, but One, being both begotten of the Father before the worlds, and in the last times created of the Virgin. And thus the meaning is: I, Who am begotten before the worlds, am He Who was created of mortal woman, created for a set purpose.
61. Again, immediately before the declaration, "The Lord created Me," He says, "I will tell of the things which are from eternity," and before saying, "He begat," He premised, "In the beginning, before He made the earth, before all hills." In its extent, the preposition "before" reaches back into the past without end or limit, and so "Before Abraham was, I am," clearly need not mean "after Adam," just as "before the Morning Star" need not mean "after the angels." But when He said "before," He intended, not that He was included in any one's existence, but that all things are included in His, for thus it is the custom of Holy Writ to show the eternity of God. Finally, in another passage you may read: "Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, Thou art from everlasting to everlasting."
62. Before all created things, then, is the Son begotten; within all and for the good of all is He made; begotten of the Father, above the Law, brought forth of Mary, under the Law.
[Observations on the words of John the Baptist (John i. 30), which may be referred to divine fore-ordinance, but at any rate, as explained by the foregoing considerations, must be understood of the Incarnation. The precedence of Christ is mystically expounded, with reference to the history of Ruth.]
63. But [say they] it is written: "After me cometh a Man, Who is made before me, because He was before me;" and so they argue: "See, He Who was aforetime is 'made.'" Let us take the words by themselves. "After me cometh a Man." He, then, Who came is a Man, and this is the Man Who "was made." But the word "man" connotes sex, and sex is attributed to human nature, but never to the Godhead.
64. I might argue: The Man [Christ Jesus] was in pre-existence so far as His body was foreknown, though His power is from everlasting—for both the Church and the Saints were foreordained before the worlds began. But here I lay aside this argument, and urge that the being made concerns not the Godhead, but the nature of the Incarnation, even as John himself said: "This is He of Whom I said: After me cometh a Man, Who was made before me."
65. The Scripture, then, having, as I showed above, discovered the twofold nature in Christ, that you might understand the presence of both Godhead and Manhood, here begins with the flesh; for it is the cutsom of Holy Writ to begin without fixed rule sometimes with the Godhead of Christ, and descend to the visible tokens of Incarnation; sometimes, on the other hand, to start from its humility, and rise to the glory of the Godhead, as oftentimes in the Prophets and Evangelists, and in St. Paul. Here, then, after this use, the writer begins with the Incarnation of our Lord, and then proclaims His Divinity, not to confound, but to distinguish, the human and the divine. But Arians, like Jew vintners, mix water with the wine, confounding the divine generation with the human, and ascribing to the majesty of God what is properly said only of the lowliness of the flesh.
66. I have no fears of a certain objection they are likely to put forward, namely, that in the words cited we have "a man"—for some have, "Who cometh after me." But here, too, let them observe what precedes. "The Word," it is said, "was made flesh." Having said that the Word was made flesh, the Evangelist added no mention of man. We understand "man" there in the mention of "flesh," and "flesh" by the mention of "man." After the statement made, then, that "the Word was made flesh," there was no need here to particularly mention "man," whom he already intended by using the name "flesh."
67. Later on, St. John uses the lamb, that "taketh away the sins of the world," as an example; and to teach you plainly the Incarnation of Him, of Whom he had spoken before, he says: "This is He of Whom I said before: After me cometh a Man, Who is made before me," to wit, of Whom I said that He was "made" as being man, not as being God. However, to show that it was He Who was before the worlds, and none other, that became flesh, lest we should suppose two Sons of God, he adds: "because He was before me." If the words "was made" had referred to the divine generation, what need was there that the writer should add this, and repeat himself? But, having first said, with regard to the Incarnation only, "After me cometh a Man, Who is made before me," he added: "because He was before me," because it was needful to teach the eternity of [Christ's] Godhead; and this is the reason why St. John acknowledged Christ's priority, that He, Who is His own Father's eternal Power, may be presented as on that account duly preferred.
68. But the abounding activity of the spiritual understanding makes it a pleasing exercise to sally forth and drive into a corner the Arians, who will understand the term "made" in this passage, not of the manhood, but of the Godhead [of Christ]. What ground, indeed, is left for them to take their stand upon, when the Baptist has declared that "after me cometh One Who is made before me," that is, Who, though in the course of earthly life He comes after me, yet is placed above the degree of my worth and grace, and Who has title to be worshipped as God. For the words "cometh after me" belong to an event in time, but "was before me" signify Christ's eternity; and "is made before me" refer to His pre-eminence, forasmuch as, indeed, the mystery of the Incarnation is above human deserving.
69. Again, St. John Baptist also taught in less weighty language what ideas they were he had combined, saying: "After me cometh a Man, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear," setting forth at least the more excellent dignity [of Christ], though not the eternity of His Divine Generation. Now these words are so fully intended of the Incarnation, that Scripture hath given us, in an earlier book, a human counterpart of the mystic sandal. For, by the Law, when a man died, the marriage bond with his wife was passed on to his brother, or other man next of kin, in order that the seed of the brother or next of kin might renew the life of the house, and thus it was that Ruth, though she was foreign-born, but yet had possessed a husband of the Jewish people, who had left a kinsman of near relation, being seen and loved of Boaz whilst gleaning and maintaining herself and her mother-in-law with that she gleaned, was yet not taken of Boaz to wife, until she had first loosed the shoe from [the foot of] him whose wife she ought, by the Law, to have become.
70. The story is a simple one, but deep are its hidden meanings, for that which was done was the outward betokening of somewhat further. If indeed we should rack the sense so as to fit the letter exactly, we should almost find the words an occasion of a certain shame and horror, that we should regard them as intending and conveying the thought of common bodily intercourse; but it was the foreshadowing of One Who was to arise from Jewry—whence Christ was, after the flesh—Who should, with the seed of heavenly teaching, revive the seed of his dead kinsman, that is to say, the people, and to Whom the precepts of the Law, in their spiritual significance, assigned the sandal of marriage, for the espousals of the Church.
71. Moses was not the Bridegroom, for to him cometh the word, "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot," that he might give place to his Lord. Nor was Joshua, the son of Nun, the Bridegroom, for to him also it was told, saying, "Loose thy shoe from off thy foot," test, by reason of the likeness of his name, he should be thought the spouse of the Church. None other is the Bridegroom but Christ alone, of Whom St. John said: "He Who hath the bride is the Bridegroom." They, therefore, loose their shoes, but His shoe cannot be loosed, even as St. John said: "I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe."
72. Christ alone, then, is the Bridegroom to Whom the Church, His bride, comes from the nations, and gives herself in wedlock; aforetime poor and starving, but now rich with Christ's harvest; gathering in the hidden bosom of her mind handfuls of the rich crop and gleanings of the Word, that so she may nourish with fresh food her who is worn out, bereaved by the death of her son, and starving, even the mother of the dead people,— leaving not the widow and destitute, whilst she seeks new children.
73. Christ, then, alone is the Bridegroom, grudging not even to the synagogue the sheaves of His harvest. Would that the synagogue had not of her own will shut herself out! She had sheaves that she might herself have gathered, but, her people being dead, she, like one bereaved by the death of her son, began to gather sheaves, whereby she might live, by the hand of the Church—the which sheaves they who come in joyfulness shall carry, even as it is written: "Yet surely shall they come with joy, bringing their sheaves with them."
74. Who, indeed, but Christ could dare to claim the Church as His bride, whom He alone, and none other, hath called from Libanus, saying: "Come hither from Libanus, my bride; come hither from Libanus"? Or of Whom else could the Church have said: "His throat is sweetness, and He is altogether desirable"? And seeing that we entered upon this discussion from speaking of the shoes of His feet,—to Whom else but the Word of God incarnate can those words apply? "His legs are pillars of marble, set upon bases of gold." For Christ alone walks in the souls and makes His path in the minds of His saints, in which, as upon bases of gold and foundations of precious stone the heavenly Word has left His footprints ineffaceably impressed.
75. Clearly we see, then, that both the man and the type point to the mystery of the Incarnation.
[St. Ambrose returns to the main question, and shows that whenever Christ is said to have "been made" (or "become"), this must be understood with reference to His Incarnation, or to certain limitations. In this sense several passages of Scripture—especially of St. Paul—are expounded. The eternal Priesthood of Christ, prefigured in Melchizedek. Christ possesses not only likeness, but oneness with the Father.]
76. When, therefore, Christ is said to have been "made," to have "become," the phrase relates, not to the substance of the Godhead, but often to the Incarnation—sometimes indeed to a particular office; for if you understand it of His Godhead, then God was made into an object of insult and derision inasmuch as it is written: "But thou hast rejected thy Christ, and brought Him to nought; thou hast driven Him to wander;" and again: "And He was made the derision of His neighbours." Of His neighbours, mark you—not of them of His household, not of them who clave to Him, for "he who cleaveth to the Lord is one Spirit;" he who is neighbour doth not cleave to Him. Again, "He was made a derision," because the Lord's Cross is to Jews a stumbling-block, and to Greeks is foolishness: for to them that are wise He is, by that same Cross, made higher than the heavens, higher than angels, and is made the Mediator of the better covenant, even as He was Mediator of the former.
77. Mark how I repeat the phrase; so far am I from seeking to avoid it. Yet take notice in what sense He is "made."
78. In the first place, "having made purification, He sitteth on the right hand of Majesty on high, being made so much better than the angels." Now where purification is, there is a victim; where there is a victim, there is also a body; where a body is, there is oblation; where there is the office of oblation, there also is sacrifice made with suffering.
79. In the next place, He is the Mediator of a better covenant. But where there is testamentary disposition, the death of the testator must first come to pass, as it is written a little further on. Howbeit, the death is not the death of His eternal Godhead, but of His weak human frame.
80. Furthermore, we are taught how He is made "higher than the heavens." "Unspotted," saith the Scripture, "separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; not having daily need, as the priests have need, to offer a victim first for his own sins, and then for those of the people. For this He did by sacrificing Himself once and for all." None is said to be made higher, save he who has in some respect been lower; Christ, then, is, by His sitting at the right hand of the Father, made higher in regard of that wherein, being made lower than the angels, He offered Himself to suffer.
81. Finally, the Apostle himself saith to the Philippians, that "being made in the likeness of man, and found in outward appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death." Mark that, in regard whereof He is "made," He is made, the Apostle saith, in the likeness of man, not in respect of Divine Sovereignty, and He was made obedient unto death, so that He displayed the obedience proper to man, and obtained the kingdom appertaining of right to Godhead.
82. How many passages need we cite further in evidence that His "being made" must be understood with reference to His Incarnation, or to some particular dispensation? Now whatsoever is made, the same is also created, for "He spake and they were made; He gave also the word, and they were created." "The Lord created me." These words are spoken with regard to His Manhood; and we have also shown, in our First Book, that the word "created" appears to have reference to the Incarnation.
83. Again, the Apostle himself, by declaring that no worship is to be rendered to a created existence, has shown that the Son has not been created, but begotten, of God. At the same time he shows in other places what there was in Christ that was created, in order to make plain in what sense he has read in Solomon's book: "The Lord created Me."
84. Let us now review a whole passages in order. "Seeing, then, that the sons have parts of flesh and blood, He too likewise was made to have part in the same, to the end that by death He might overthrow him who had the power of death." Who, then, is He Who would have us to be partakers in His own flesh and blood? Surely the Son of God. How, save by means of the flesh, was He made partaker with us, or by what, save by bodily death, brake He the chains of death? For Christ's endurance of death was made the death of Death.This text, then, speaks of the Incarnation.
85. Let us see what follows: "For He did not indeed [straightway] put on Him the nature of angels, but that of Abraham's seed. And thus was He able to be made like to His brethren in all things throughout, that He might become a compassionate and faithful Prince, a Priest unto God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people; for in that He Himself suffered He is able also to help them that are tempted. Wherefore, brethren most holy, ye who have each his share in a heavenly calling, look upon the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus, regard His faithfulness to His Creator, even as Moses was in his house." These, then, are the Apostle's words.
86. You see what it is in respect whereof the writer calls Him created.: "In so far as He took upon Him the seed of Abraham;" plainly asserting the begetting of a body. How, indeed, but in His body did He expiate the sins of the people? In what did He suffer, save in His body— even as we said above: "Christ having suffered in the flesh"? In what is He a priest, save in that which He took to Himself from the priestly nation?
67. It is a priest's duty to offer something, and, according to the Law, to enter into the holy places by means of blood; seeing, then, that God had rejected the blood of bulls and goats, this High Priest was indeed bound to make passage and entry into the holy of holies in heaven through His own blood, in order that He might be the everlasting propitiation for our sins. Priest and victim, then, are one; the priesthood and sacrifice are, however, exercised under the conditions of humanity, for He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.
88. Let no man, therefore, when he beholds an order of human establishment, contend that in it resides the claim of Divinity; for even that Melchizedek, by whose office Abraham offered sacrifice, the Church doth certainly not hold to be an angel (as some Jewish triflers do), but a holy man and priest of God, who, prefiguring our Lord, is described as "without father or mother, without history of his descent, without beginning and without end," in order to show beforehand the coming into this world of the eternal Son of God, Who likewise was incarnate and then brought forth without any father, begotten as God without mother, and was without history of descent, for it is written: "His generation who shall declare?"
89. This Melchizedek, then, have we received as a priest of God made upon the model of Christ, but the one we regard as the type, the other as the original. Now a type is a shadow of the truth, and we have accepted the royalty of the one in the name of a single city, but that of the other as shown in the reconciliation of the whole world; for it is written: "God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself;" that is to say, [in Christ was] eternal Godhead: or, if the Father is in the Son, even as the Son is in the Father, then Their unity in both nature and operation is plainly not denied.
90. But how, indeed, could our adversaries justly deny this, even if they would, when the Scripture saith: "But the Father, Who abideth in Me, even He doeth the works;" and "The works that I do, He Himself worketh"? Not "He also doeth the works," but one should regard it as similarity rather than unity of work; in saying, "The things that I do, He Himself doeth," the Apostle has left it clear that we ought to believe that the work of the Father and the work of the Son is one.
91. On the other hand, when He would have similarity, not unity, of works, to be understood, He said: "He that believeth in Me, the works which I do, shall he do also." Skilfully inserting here the word "also," He hath allowed us similarity, and yet hath not ascribed natural unity. One, therefore, is the work of the Father and the work of the Son, whether the Arians please so to think or not.
[The kingdom of the Father and of the Son is one and undivided, so likewise is the Godhead of each.]
92. I would now ask how they suppose the kingdom of the Father and the Son to be divided, when the Lord hath said, as we showed above: "Every kingdom divided against itself shall be speedily overthrown."
93. Indeed, it was to debar the impious teaching of Arian enmity that Saint Peter himself asserted the dominion of the Father and the Son to be one, saying: "Wherefore, my brethren, labour to make your calling and election sure, for so doing you shall not go astray, for thus your entrance into the eternal realm of God and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ shall be granted with the greater abundance of grace.
94. Now, if it be thought that Christ's dominion alone is spoken of, and the place be therefore understood in such sense that the Father and the Son are regarded as divided in authority—yet it will be still acknowledged that it is the dominion of the Son, and that an eternal one, and thus not only will two kingdoms, separate, and so liable to fail, be brought in, but, furthermore, inasmuch as no kingdom is to be compared with God's kingdom, which they cannot, however greatly they may desire to, deny to be the kingdom of the Son, they must either turn back upon their opinion, and acknowledge the kingdom of the Father and the Son to be one and the same; or they must ascribe to the Father the government of a lesser kingdom— which is blasphemy; or they must acknowledge Him, Whom they wickedly declare to be inferior in respect of Godhead, to possess an equal kingdom, which is inconsistent.
95. But this [their teaching] squares not agrees not, holds not [with its premisses]. Let them confess, then, that the kingdom is one, even as we confess and prove, not indeed on our own evidence, but upon testimony vouchsafed from heaven.
96. To begin with, learn, from further testimonies [of Scripture], how that the kingdom of heaven is also the kingdom of the Son: "Verily, verily, I say unto you, that there are some amongst those which stand here with us, who shall not taste death, until they see the Son of Man coming into His kingdom." There is therefore no room for doubt that the kingdom appertaineth to the Son of God.
97. Now learn that the kingdom of the Son is the very same as the kingdom of the Father: "Verily, I say unto you that there be some of those which stand around us, who shall not taste death until they see the kingdom of God coming in power." So far, indeed, is it one kingdom, that the reward is one, the inheritor is one and the same, and so also the merit, and He Who promises [the reward].
98. How can it but be one kingdom, above all when the Son Himself hath said of Himself: "Then shall the righteous shine like the sun in the kingdom of My Father"? For that which is the Father's, by fitness to His majesty, is also the Son's, by unity in the same glory." The Scripture, therefore, hath declared the kingdom to be the kingdom both of the Father and of the Son.
99. Now learn that where the kingdom of God is named, there is no putting aside of the authority either of the Father or of the Son, because both the kingdom of the Father and the kingdom of the Son is included under the single name of God, saying: "When ye shall see Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God." Do we deny that the prophets are in the kingdom of the Son, when even to a dying robber who said, "Remember me, when Thou comest into Thy kingdom," the Lord made answer: 'Verily, I say unto thee, to-day shalt thou be with Me in paradise." What, indeed, do we understand by being in the kingdom of God, if not the having escaped eternal death? But they who have escaped eternal death see the Son of Man coming into His kingdom.
100. How, then, can He not have in His power that which He gives, saying: "To thee will I give the keys of the kingdom of heaven"? See the gulf between [the one and the other]. The servant opens, the Lord bestows; the One through Himself, the other through Christ; the minister receives the keys, the Lord appoints powers: the one is the right of a giver, the other the duty of a steward.
101. See now yet another proof that the kingdom, the government, of the Father and the Son is one. It is written in the Epistle to Timothy: "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, according to the government of God, our Saviour, and Christ Jesus, our Hope." One, therefore, the kingdom of the Father and the Son is plainly declared to be, even as Paul the Apostle also asserted, saying: "For know this, that no shameless person, none that is impure, or covetous (which meaneth idolatry), hath inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God." It is, therefore, one kingdom, one Godhead.
102. Oneness in Godhead the Law hath proved, which speaks of one God, as also the Apostle, by saying of Christ; "In Whom dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily." For if, as the Apostle saith, all the fulness of the Godhead, bodily, is in Christ, then must the Father and the Son be confessed to be of one Godhead; or if it is desired to sunder the Godhead of the Son from the Godhead of the Father, whilst the Son possesses all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, what is supposed to be further reserved, seeing that nothing remains over and above the fulness of perfection? Therefore the Godhead is one.
[The majesty of the Son is His own, and equal to that of the Father, and the angels are not partaken, but beholders thereof.]
103. Now, we having already laid down that the Father and the Son are of one image and likeness, it remains for us to show that They are also of one majesty. And we need not go far afield for proof, inasmuch as the Son Himself has said of Himself: "When the Son of Man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His majesty." Behold, then, the majesty of the Son declared! What lacketh He yet, Whose uncreated majesty cannot be denied? Majesty, then, belongeth to the Son.
104. Let our adversaries now hold it proved beyond doubt that the majesty of the Father and of the Son is one, forasmuch as the Lord Himself hath said: "For he who shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of Him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in His majesty and His Father's, and the majesty of the holy angels." What is the force of the words "and the majesty of the holy angels," but that the servants derive honour from the worship of their Lord?
105. The Son, therefore, ascribed His majesty to His Father as well as to Himself, not, indeed, in such sort that the angels should share in that majesty on equal terms with the Father and the Son, but that they should behold the surpassing glory of God; for truly not even angels possess a majesty of their own, after the manner in which Scripture speaks of the Son: "When He shall sit upon the throne of His majesty," but they stand in the presence, that they may see the glory of the Father and the Son, in such degrees of vision as they are either worthy of or able to bear.
106. Furthermore, the God-given words themselves declare their own meaning, that you may understand that glory of the Father and the Son not to be held in common with them by angels, for thus they run: "But when the Son of Man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him." Again, to show that His Father's majesty and glory and His own majesty and glory are one and the same, our Lord Himself saith in another book: "And the Son of Man shall confound him, when He shall come in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels." The angels come in obedience, He comes in glory: they are His retainers, He sits upon His throne: they stand, He is seated— to borrow terms of the daily dealings of human life, He is the Judge: they are the officers of the court. Note that He did not place first His Father's divine majesty, and then, in the second place, His own and the angels', lest He should seem to have made out a sort of descending order, from the highest to lower natures. He placed His own majesty first, and then spoke of His Father's, and the majesty of the angels (because the Father could not appear lower than they), in order that He might not, by placing mention of Himself between that of His Father and that of the angels, seem to have made out some ascending scale, leading from angels to the Father through increase of His own dignity; nor, again, be believed to have, contrariwise, shown a descent from the Father to angels, entailing diminution of that dignity. Now we who confess one Godhead of the Father and the Son suppose no such order of distinction as the Arians do.
[The Son is of one substance with the Father.]
108. And now, your Majesty, with regard to the question of the substance, why need I tell you that the Son is of one substance with the Father, when we have read that the Son is the image of the Father's substance, that you may understand that there is nothing wherein, so far as Godhead is regarded, the Son differs from the Father.
109. In virtue of this likeness Christ said: "All things that the Father hath are Mine." We cannot, then, deny substance to God, for indeed He is not unsubstantial, Who hath given to others the ground of their being, though this be different in God from what it is in the creature. The Son of God, by Whose agency all things endure, could not be unsubstantial.
110. And therefore, the Psalmist saith: "My bones are not hidden, which Thou didst make in secret, and my substance in the underworld." For to His power and Godhead, the things that before the foundation of the world were done, though their magnificence was [as yet] invisible, could not be hidden. Here, then, we find mention of "substance."
111. But it may be objected that the mention of His substance is the consequence of His Incarnation. I have shown that the word "substance" is used more than once, and that not in the sense of inherited possessions, as you would construe it. Now, if it please you, let us grant that, in accordance with the mystic prophecy, the substance of Christ was present in the underworld—for truly He did exert His power in the lower world to set free, in the soul which animated His own body, the souls of the dead, to loose the bands of death, to remit sins.
112. And, indeed, what hinders you from understanding, by that substance, His divine substance, seeing that God is everywhere, so that it hath been said to Him: "If I go up into heaven, Thou art there; if I go down into hell, Thou art present."
113. Furthermore, the Psalmist hath in the words following made it plain that we must understand the divine substance to be mentioned when he saith: "Thine eyes did see My being, [as] not the effect of working;" inasmuch as the Son is not made, nor one of God's works, but the begotten Word of eternal power. He called Him "akate'rgaston," meaning that the Word neither made nor created, is begotten of the Father without the witnessing presence of any created being. Howbeit, we have abundance of testimony besides this. Let us grant that the substance here spoken of is the bodily substance, provided you also yourself say not that the Son of God is something effected by working, but confess His uncreated Godhead.
114. Now I know that some assert that the mystic incarnate form was uncreated, forasmuch as nothing was done therein through intercourse with a man, because our Lord was the offspring of a virgin. If, then, many have, on the strength of this passage, asserted that neither that which was brought forth of Mary was produced by creative operation, dare you, disciple of Arius, think that the Word of God is something so produced?
115. But is this the only place where we read of "substance"? Hath it not also been said in another passage: "The gates of the cities are broken down, the mountains are fallen, and His substance is revealed"? What, does the word mean something created here also? Some, I know, are accustomed to say that the substance is substance in money. Then, if you give this meaning to the word, the mountains fell, in order that some one's possessions of money might be seen.
116. But let us remember what mountains fell, those, namely, of which it hath been said: "If ye shall have faith as a grain of mustard seed ye shall say to this mountain: Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea!" By mountains, then, are meant high things that exalt themselves.
117. Moreover, in the Greek, the rendering is this: "The palaces are fallen." What palaces, save the palace of Satan, of whom the Lord said: "How shall His kingdom stand?" We are reading, therefore, of the things which are the devil's palaces as being very mountains, and therefore in the fall of those palaces from the hearts of the faithful, the truth stands revealed, that Christ, Son of God, is of the Father's eternal substance. What, again, are those mountains of bronze, from the midst of which four chariots come forth?
118. We behold that height, lifting up itself against the knowledge of God, cast down by the word of the Lord, when the Son of God said: "Hold thy peace, and come forth, thou foul spirit." Concerning whom the prophet also said: "Behold, I am come to thee, thou mount of corruption!"
119. Those mountains, then, are fallen, and it is revealed that in Christ was the substance of God, in the words of those who had seen Him: "Truly Thou art the Son of God," for it was in virtue of divine, not human power, that He commanded devils. Jeremiah also saith: "Make mourning upon the mountains, and beat your breasts upon the desert tracks, for they have failed; forasmuch as there are no men, they have not heard the word of substance: from flying fowl to beasts of burden, they trembled, they have failed."
120. Nor has it escaped us, that in another place also, setting forth the frailties of man's estate, in order to show that He had taken upon Himself the infirmity of the flesh, and the affections of our minds, the Lord said, by the mouth of His prophet: "Remember, O Lord, what My substance is," because it was the Son of God speaking in the nature of human frailty.
121. Of Him the Scripture saith, in the passage cited, in order to discover the mysteries of the Incarnation: "But Thou hast rejected, O Lord, and counted for nought—Thou hast cast out Thy Christ. Thou hast overthrown the covenant made with Thy Servant, and trampled His holiness in the earth." What was it, in regard whereof the Scripture called Him "Servant," but His flesh?—seeing that "He did not hold equality with God as a prey, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant, being made into the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man." So, then, in that He took upon Himself My nature, He was a servant, but by virtue of His own power He is the Lord.
122. Furthermore, what meaneth it that thou readest: "Who hath stood in the truth (substantia) of the Lord?" and again: "Now if they had stood in My truth, and had given ear to My words, and had taught My people, I would have turned them from their follies and transgressions"?
[The Arians, inasmuch as they assert the Son to be "of another substance," plainly acknowledge substance in God. The only reason why they avoid the use of this term is that they will not, as Eusebius of Nicomedia has made it evident, confess Christ to be the true Son of God.]
123. How can the Arians deny the substance of God? How can they suppose that the word "substance" which is found in many places of Scripture ought to be debarred from use, when they themselves do yet, by saying that the Son is "heteroou'sios," that is, of another substance, admit substance in God?
124. It is not the term itself, then, but its force and consequences, that they shun, because they will not confess the Son of God to be true [God]. For though the process of the divine generation cannot be comprehended in human language, still the Fathers judged that their faith might be fitly distinguished by the use of such a term, as against that of "heteroou'sios," following the authority of the prophet, who saith: "Who hath stood in the truth (substantia) of the Lord, and seen His Word?" Arians, therefore, admit the term "substance" when it is used so as to square with their blasphemy; contrariwise, when it is adopted in accordance with the pious devotion of the faithful, they reject and dispute against it.
125. What other reason can there be for their unwillingness to have the Son spoken of as "homoou'sios," of the same substance, with the Father, but that they are unwilling to confess Him the true Son of God? This is betrayed in the letter of Eusebius of Nicomedia. "If," writes he, "we say that the Son is true God and uncreate, then we are in the way to confess Him to be of one substance (homoou'sios) with the Father." When this letter had been read before the Council assembled at Nicaea, the Fathers put this word in their exposition of the Faith. because they saw that it daunted their adversaries; in order that they might take the sword, which their opponents had drawn, to smite off the head of those opponents' own blasphemous heresy.
126. Vain, however, is their plea, that they avoid the use of the term, because of the Sabellians; whereby they betray their own ignorance, for a being is of the same substance (homoou'sion) with another, not with itself. Rightly, then, do we call the Son "homoou'sios" (of the same substance), with the Father, forasmuch as that term expresses both the distinction of Persons and the unity of nature.
127. Can they deny that the term "ousi'a" is met with in Scripture, when the Lord has spoken of bread, that is, "epiou'sios," and Moses has written "humei^s e'sesthe' moi lao`s periou'sios"? What does "ousi'a" mean, whence comes the name, but from "ou^sa aei'," "that which endures for ever? For He Who is, and is for ever, is God; and therefore the Divine Substance, abiding everlastingly, is called ousi'a. Bread is epiou'sios, because, taking the substance of abiding power from the substance of the Word, it supplies this to heart and soul, for it is written: "And bread strengtheneth man's heart."
128. Let us, then, keep the precepts of our forefathers, nor with rude and reckless daring profane the symbols bequeathed to us. That sealed book of prophecy, whereof we have heard, neither elders, nor powers, nor angels, nor archangels, ventured to open; for Christ alone is reserved the peculiar right of opening it. Who amongst us dare unseal the book of the priesthood, sealed by confessors, and long hallowed by the testimony of many? They who have been constrained to unseal, nevertheless have since, respecting the deceit put upon them, sealed again; they who dared not lay sacrilegious hands upon it, have stood forth as martyrs and confessors. How can we deny the Faith held by those whose victory we proclaim?
[In order to forearm the orthodox against the stratagems of the Arians, St. Ambrose discloses some of the deceitful confessions used by the latter, and shows by various arguments, that though they sometimes call the Son "God," it is not enough, unless they also admit His equality with the Father.]
129. Let none fear, let none tremble; he who threatens gives the advantage to the faithful. The soothing balms of deceitful men are poisoned—then must we be on our guard against them, when they pretend to preach that they do deny. Thus were those aforetime, who lightly trusted to them, deceived, so that they fell into the snares of treachery, when they thought all was good faith.
130. "Let him be accursed," say they, "who says that Christ is a creature, after the manner of the rest of created beings." Plain folks have heard this, and put faith in it, for, as it is written, "the simple man believes every word." Thus have they heard and believed, being taken in by the first sound thereof, and, like birds, eager for the bait of faith, have not noted the net spread for them, and so, pursuing after faith, have caught the hook of ungodly deceit. Wherefore "be ye wise as serpents," saith the Lord, "and harmless as doves." Wisdom is put foremost, in order that harmlessness may be unharmed.
131. For those are serpents, such as the Gospel intends, who put off old habits, in order to put on new manners: "Putting off the old man, together with his acts, and putting on the new man, made in the image of Him Who created him." Let us learn then, the ways of those whom the Gospel calls the serpents, throwing off the slough of the old man, that so, like serpents, we may know how to preserve our life and beware of fraud.
132. It would have been sufficient to say, "Accursed be he who saith that Christ is a created being." Why, then, Arian, dost thou mingle poison with the good that is in thy confession, and so defile the whole body of it? For by addition of "after the manner of the rest of created beings," you deny not that Christ is a being created, but that He is a created being like [all] others—for created being you do entitle Him, albeit you assign to Him dignity transcending the rest of creation. Furthermore, Arius, the first teacher of this ungodly doctrine, said that the Son of God was a perfect created being, and not as the rest of created beings. See you, then, how that you have adopted language bequeathed you from your father. To deny that Christ is a being created is enough: why add "but not as the rest of beings created"? Cut away the gangrened part, lest the contagion spread—it is poisonous, deadly.
133. Again, you say sometimes that Christ is God. Nay, but so call Him true God, as meaning, that you acknowledge Him to possess the fulness of the Father's Godhead—for there are gods, so called, alike in heaven or upon earth. The name "God," then, is not to be used as a mere manner of address and mention, but with the understanding that you affirm, of the Son, that same Godhead which the Father hath, as it is written: "For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son also to have life in Himself;" that is to say, He hath given it to Him, as to His Son, through begetting Him—not by grace, as to one indigent.
134. "And He hath given Him power to execute judgment, because He is the Son of Man." Note well this addition, that you may not take occasion, upon a word, to preach falsehood. You read that He is the Son of Man; do you therefore deny that He accepts [the power given]? Deny God, then, if all things proper to God are not given to the Son, for whereas He has said, "All things that the Father hath are Mine," why not acknowledge that all the properties and attributes of Divinity are in the Son [as they are in the Father]? For He who saith, "All things that the Father hath are Mine," what does He except as having not?
135. Why is it that you recount "with insistence" and in such sincere language, Christ's raising the dead to life, walking upon the waters, healing the sicknesses of men? These powers, indeed, He has given to His bondmen to display as well as Himself. They do the more arouse my wonder when seen present in men, forasmuch as God hath given them power so great. I would hear somewhat concerning Christ that is His distinctly and peculiarly, and cannot be held in common with Him by created beings, now that He is begotten, the only Son of God, very God of very God, sitting at the Father's right hand.
136. Wheresoever I read of the Father and Son sitting side by side, I find the Son always upon the right hand. Is that because the Son is above the Father? Nay, we say not so; but He Whom God's love honours is dishonoured by man's ungodliness. The Father knew that doubts as concerning the Son must needs be sown, and He hath given us an example of reverence for us to follow after, lest we dis-honour the Son.
[An objection based on St. Stephen's vision of the Lord standing is disposed of, and from the prayers of the same saint, addressed to the Son of God, the equality of the Son with the Father is shown.]
137. There is just one place, in which Stephen hath said that he saw the Lord Jesus standing at the right hand of God. Learn now the import of these words, that you may not use them to raise a question upon. Why (you would ask) do we read every where else of the Son as sitting at the right hand of God, but in one place of His standing? He sits as Judge of quick and dead; He stands as His people's Advocate. He stood, then, as a Priest, whilst He was offering to His Father the sacrifice of a good martyr; He stood, as the Umpire, to bestow, as it were, upon a good wrestler the prize of so mighty a contest.
138. Receive thou also the Spirit of God, that thou mayest discern those things, even as Stephen received the Spirit; and thou mayest say, as the martyr said: "Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God." He who hath the heavens opened to him, seeth Jesus at the right hand of God: he whose soul's eye is closed, seeth not Jesus at the right hand of God. Let us, then, confess Jesus at God's right hand, that to us also the heavens may be opened. They who confess otherwise close the gates of heaven against themselves.
139. But if any urge in objection that the Son was standing, let them show upon this passage that the Father was seated, for though Stephen said that the Son of Man was standing, still he did not further say here that the Father was sitting.
140. Howbeit, to make it more abundantly clear and known that the standing implied no dishonour, but rather sovereignty, Stephen prayed to the Son, being desirous to commend himself the more to the Father, saying: "Lord Jesu, receive my spirit." Again, to show that the sovereignty of the Father and of the Son is one and the same, he prayed again, saying, "Lord, lay not this sin to their charge." These are the words that the Lord, in His own Passion, speaks to the Father, as the Son of Man—these the words of Stephen's prayer, in his own martyrdom to the Son of God. When the same grace is sought of both the Father and the Son, the same power is affirmed of each.
141. Otherwise, if our opponents will have it that Stephen addressed himself to the Father, let them consider what, on their own showing, they affirm. We indeed are unmoved by their arguments; howbeit, let them, to whom the letter and sequence is all important, take notice that the first petition is addressed to the Son. Now we, even on their understanding of the passage, prove from it the unity of the Father's and the Son's majesty; for when the Son is addressed in prayer as well as the Father, the equality which the prayer assigns points to unity in action. But if they will not allow that the Son was addressed with the title "Lord," we see that they do indeed seek to deny that He is Lord.
142. Seeing, however, that so great a martyr's crown has been brought forth, let us abate the eagerness of disputation, and bring to-day's discourse to a close. Let us sing the praises of the holy martyr, as is fitting always after a mighty conflict—the martyr bleeding indeed from the enemy's blows, but rewarded with the crown bestowed by Christ.
Taken from "The Early Church Fathers and Other Works" originally published by Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co. in English in Edinburgh, Scotland, beginning in 1867. (LNPF II/X, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.