Fathers of the Church
On the Trinity, Books IV-VII
by Hilary of Poitiers in 360 | translated by E. W. Watson, M.A
1. THE earlier books of this treatise, written some time ago, contain, I think, an invincible proof that we hold and profess the faith in Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, which is taught by the Evangelists and Apostles, and that no commerce is possible between us and the heretics, inasmuch as they deny unconditionally, irrationally, and recklessly, the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ. Yet certain points remained which I have felt myself bound to include in this and the following books, in order to make our assurance of the faith even more certain by exposure of every one of their falsehoods and blasphemies. Accordingly, we will enquire first What are the dangers of their teaching, the risks involved by such irreverence; next, what principles they hold, and what arguments they advance against the apostolic faith to which we adhere, and by what sleight of language they impose upon the can dour of their hearers; and lastly, by what method of comment they disarm the words of Scripture of their force and meaning.
2. We are well aware that neither the speech of men nor the analogy of human nature can give us a full insight into the things of God. The ineffable cannot submit to the bounds and limits of definition; that which is spiritual is distinct from every class or instance of bodily things. Yet, since our subject is that of heavenly natures, we must employ ordinary natures and ordinary speech as our means of expressing what our mind apprehends; a means no doubt unworthy of the majesty of God, but forced upon us by feebleness of our intellect, which can use only our own circumstances and our own words to convey to others our perceptions and our conclusions. This truth has been enforced already in the first book, but is now repeated in order that, in any analogies from human affairs which we adduce, we may not be supposed to think of God as resembling embodied natures, or to compare spiritual Beings with our passible selves, but rather be regarded as advancing the outward appearance of visible things as a clue to the inward meaning of things invisible.
3. For the heretics say that Christ is not from God, that is, that the Son is not born from the Father, and is God not by nature but by appointment; in other words, that He has received an adoption which consists in the giving of a name, being God's Son in the sense m which many are sons of God; again, that Christ's majesty is an evidence of God's widespread bounty, He being God in the sense in which there are gods many; although they admit that in His adoption and naming as God a more liberal affection than in other cases was shewn, His adoption being the first in order of time, and He greater than other adopted sons, and first in rank among the creatures because of the greater splendour which accompanied His creation. Some add, by way of confessing the omnipotence of God, that He was created into God's likeness, and that it was out of nothing that He, like other creatures, was raised up to be the Image of the eternal Creator, bidden at a word to spring from non-existence into being by the power of God, Who can frame out of nothing the likeness of Himself.
4. Moreover, they use their knowledge of the historical fact that bishops of a former time have taught that Father and Son are of one substance, to subvert the truth by the ingenious plea that this is a heretical notion. They say that this term 'of one substance,' in the Greek homoousion, is used to mean and express that the Father is the same as the Son; that is, that He extended Himself out of infinity into the Virgin, and took a body from her, and gave to Himself, in the body which He had taken, the name of Son. This is their first lie concerning the homoousion. Their next lie is that this word homoousion implies that Father and Son participate in something antecedent to Either and distinct from Both, and that a certain imaginary substance, or ousia, anterior to all matter whatsoever, has existed heretofore and been divided and wholly distributed between the Two; which proves, they say, that Each of the Two is of a nature pro-existent to Himself, and Each identical in matter with the Other. And so they profess to condemn the confession of the homoousion on the ground that term does not discriminate between Father and Son, and makes the Father subsequent in time to that matter which He has in common with the Son. And they have devised this third objection to the word homoousion, that its meaning, as they explain it, is that the Son derives His origin from a partition of the Father's substance, as though one object had been cut in two and He were the severed portion. The meaning of 'one substance,' they say, is that the part cut off from the whole continues to share the nature of that from which it has been severed; but God, being impossible, cannot be divided, for, if He must submit to be lessened by division. He is subject to change, and will be rendered imperfect if His perfect substance leave Him to reside in the severed portion.
5. They think also that they have a compendious refutation of Prophets, Evangelists and Apostles alike, in their assertion that the Son was born within time. They pronounce us illogical for saying that the Son has existed from everlasting; and, since they reject the possibility of His eternity, they are forced to believe that He was born at a point in time. For if He has not always existed, there was a time when He was not; and if there be a time when He was not, time was anterior to Him. He who has not existed everlastingly began to exist within time, while He Who is free from the limits of time is necessarily eternal. The reason they give for their rejection of the eternity of the Son is that His everlasting existence contradicts the faith in His birth; as though by confessing that He has existed eternally, we made His birth impossible.
6. What foolish and godless fears! What impious anxiety on God's behalf! The meaning which they profess to detect in the word homoousion, and in the assertion of the eternity of the Son, is detested, rejected, denounced by the Church. She confesses one God front Whom are all things; she confesses one Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom are all things; One from Whom, One through Whom; One the Source of all, One the Agent through Whom all were created. In the One from Whom are all things she recognises the Majesty which has no beginning, and in the One through Whom are all things she recognises a might coequal with His Source; for Both are jointly supreme in the work of creation and in rule over created things. In the Spirit she recognises God as Spirit, impossible and indivisible, for she has learnt from the Lord that Spirit has neither flesh nor bones; a warning to save her from supposing that God, being Spirit, could be burdened with bodily suffering and loss. She recognises one God, unborn from everlasting; she recognises also one Only-begotten Son of God. She confesses the Father eternal and without beginning; she confesses also that the Son's beginning is from eternity. Not that He has no beginning, but that He is Son of the Father Who has none; not that He is self-originated, but that He is from Him Who is unbegotten from everlasting; born from eternity, receiving, that is, His birth from the eternity of the Father. Thus our faith is free from the guesswork of heretical perversity; it is expressed in fixed and published terms, though as yet no reasoned defence of our confession has been put forth. Still, lest any suspicion should linger around the sense in which the Fathers have used the word homoousion and round our confession of the eternity of the Son, I have set down the proofs whereby we may be assured that the Son abides ever in that substance wherein He was begotten from the Father, and that the birth of His Son has not diminished ought of that Substance wherein the Father was abiding; that holy men, inspired by the teaching of God, when they said that the Son is homoousios with the Father pointed to no such flaws or defects as I have mentioned. My purpose has been to counteract the impression that this ousia, this assertion that He is homoousios with the Father, is a negation of the nativity of the Only-begotten Son.
7. To assure ourselves of the needfulness of these two phrases, adopted and employed as the best of safeguards against the heretical rabble of that day, I think it best to reply to the obstinate misbelief of our present heretics, and refute their vain and pestilent teaching by the witness of the evangelists and apostles. They flatter themselves that they can furnish a proof for each of their propositions; they have, in fact, appended to each some passages or other from holy Writ; passages so grossly misinterpreted as to ensnare none but the illiterate by the semblance of truth with which perverted ingenuity has masked their explanation.
8. For they attempt, by praising the Godhead of the Father only, to deprive the Son of His Divinity, pleading that it is written, Hear, 0 Israel, the Lord thy God is One, and that the Lord repeats this in His answer to the doctor of the Law who asked Him what was the greatest commandment in the Law;—Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One. Again, they say that Paul proclaims, For there is One God, and One Mediator between God and men. And furthermore, they insist that God alone is wise, in order to leave no wisdom for the Son, relying upon the words of the Apostle, Now to Him that is able to stablish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according, to the revelation of the mystery which hath been kept in silence through age-long times, but now is manifested through the scriptures of the prophets according to the commandment of the eternal God Who is made known unto all nations unto obedience of faith; to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to Whom be glory far ever and every. They argue also that He alone is true, for Isaiah says, They shall bless Thee, the true God, and the Lord Himself has borne witness in the Gospel, saying, And this is life eternal that they should know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom Thou hast sent Again they reason that He alone is good, to leave no goodness for the Son, because it has been said through Him, There is none goad save One, even God; and that He alone has power, because Paul has said, Which in His own times He shall skew to us, Who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings and Lord of lords. And further, they profess themselves certain that in the Father there is no change nor turning, because He has said through the prophet, I am the Lord your God, and I am not changed, and the apostle James, With Whom there is no change; certain also that He is the righteous Judge, for it is written, God is the righteous Judge, strong and patient; that He cares for all, because the Lord has said, speaking of the birds, And your heavenly. Father feedeth them, and, Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? And not one of them falleth upon the ground without the will of your Father; but the very hairs of your head are numbered. They say that the Father has prescience of all things, as the blessed Susanna says, O eternal God, that knowest secrets, and knowest all things before they be; that He is incomprehensible, as it is written, The heaven is My throne, and the earth is the footstool of My feet. What house will ye build Me, or what is the place of My rest? For these things hath My hand made, and all these things are mine; that He contains all things, as Paul bears witness, For in Him we live and move and have our being, and the psalmist, Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit, and whither shall I fly from Thy face? If I climb up into heaven, Thou art there; if I go down to hell, Thou art present. If I take my wings before the light and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even thither Thy hand shall lead me and Thy right hand shall hold me; that He is without body, for it is written, For God is Spirit, and they that warship Him must worship in spirit and in truth; that He is immortal and invisible, as Paul says, Who only hath immortality, and dwelleth in light unapproachable, whom no man hath seen nor can sees, and the Evangelist, No one hath seen God at any time, except the Only-begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father; that He alone abides eternally unborn, for it is written, I Am That I Am, and Thus shall thou say to the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me unto you, and through Jeremiah, O Lord, Who art Lord.
9. Who can fail to observe that these statements are full of fraud and fallacy? Cleverly as issues have been confused and texts combined, malice and folly is the character indelibly imprinted upon this laborious effort of cunning and clumsiness. For instance, among their points of faith they have included this, that they confess the Father only to be unborn; as though any one on our side could suppose that He, Who begot Him through Whom are all things, derived His being from any external source. The very fact that He bears the name of Father reveals Him as the cause of His Son's existence. That name of lather gives no hint that He who bears it is Himself descended from another, while it tells us plainly from Whom it is that the Son is begotten. Let us therefore leave to the Father His own special and incommunicable property, confessing that in Him reside the eternal powers of an omnipotence without beginning. None, I am sure, can doubt that the reason why, in their confession of God the Father, certain attributes are dwelt upon as peculiarly and inalienably His own, is that He may be left in isolated possession of them. For when they say that He alone is true, alone is righteous, alone is wise, alone is invisible, alone is good, alone is mighty, alone is immortal, they are raising up this word alone as a barrier to cut off the Son from His share in these attributes. He Who is alone, they say, has no partner in His properties. But if we suppose that these attributes reside in the Father only, and not in the Son also, then we must believe that God the Son has neither truth nor wisdom; that He is a bodily being compact of visible and material elements, ill- disposed and feeble and void of immortality; for we exclude Him from all these attributes of which we make the Father the solitary Possessor.
10. We, however, who propose to discourse of that most perfect majesty and fullest Divinity which appertains to the Only-begotten Son of God, have no fear lest our readers should imagine that amplitude of phrase in speaking of the Son is a detraction from the glory of God the Father, as though every praise assigned to the Son had first been withdrawn from Him. For, on the contrary, the majesty of the Son is glory to the Father; the Source must be glorious from which He Who is worthy of such glory comes. The Son has nothing but by virtue of His birth; the Father shares all veneration received by that birthright. Thus the suggestion that we diminish the Father's honour is put to silence, for all the glory which, as we shall teach, is inherent in the Son will be reflected back, to the increased glory of Him who has begotten a Son so great.
11. Now that we have exposed their plan of belittling the Son under cover of magnifying the Father, the next step is to listen to the exact terms in which they express their own belief concerning the Son. For, since we have to answer in succession each of their allegations and to display on the evidence of Holy Scripture the impiety of their doctrines, we must append, to what they say of the Father, the decisions which they bare put on record concerning the Son, that by a comparison of their confession of the Father with their confession of the Son we may follow a uniform order in our solution of the questions as they arise. They state as their verdict that the Son is not derived from any pre-existent matter, for through Him all things were created, nor yet begotten from God, for nothing can be withdrawn from God; but that He was made out of what was nonexistent, that is, that He is a perfect creature of God, though different from His other creatures. They argue that He is a creature, because it is written, The Lord hath created Me for a beginning of His ways; that He is the perfect handiwork of God, though different from His other works, they prove, as to the first point, by what Paul writes to the Hebrews, Being made so much belief than the angels, as He possesseth a more excellent name than they, and again, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus Christ, who is faithful to Him that made Him. For their depreciation of the might and majesty and Godhead of the Son they rely chiefly on His own words, The Father is greater than I. But they admit that He is not one of the common herd of creatures on the evidence of All things were made through Him. And so they sum up the whole of their blasphemous teaching in these words which follow:—
12. "We confess One God, alone unmade, alone eternal, alone unoriginate, alone true, alone possessing immortality, alone good, alone mighty, Creator, Ordainer and Disposer of all things, unchangeable and unalterable, righteous and good, of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament. We believe that this God gave birth to the Only-begotten Son before all worlds, through Whom He made the world and all things; that He gave birth to Him not in semblance, but in truth, following His own Will, so that He is unchangeable and unalterable, God's perfect creature but not as one of His other creatures, His handiwork, but not as His Other works; not, as Valentinus maintained, that the Son is a development of the Father; nor, as Manichaeus has declared of the Son, a consubstantial part of the Father; nor, as Sabellius, who makes two out of one, Son and Father at once; nor, as Hieracas, a light from a light, or a lamp with two flames; nor as if He was previously in being and afterwards born or created afresh to be a Son, a notion often condemned by thyself, blessed Pope, publicly in the Church and in the assembly of the brethren. But, as we have affirmed, we believe that He was created by the will of God before times and worlds, and has His life and existence from the Father, Who gave Him to share His own glorious perfections. For, when the Father gave to Him the inheritance of all things, He did not thereby deprive Himself of attributes which are His without origination, He being the source of all things.
13. "So there are three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost. God, for His part, is the cause of all things, utterly unoriginate and separate from all; while the Son, put forth by the Father outside time, and created and established before the worlds, did not exist before He was born, but, being born outside time before the worlds, came into being as the Only Son of the Only Father. For He is neither eternal, nor co-eternal, nor co-uncreate with the Father, nor has He an existence collateral with the Father, as some say, who postulate two unborn principles. But God is before all things, as being indivisible and the beginning of all. Wherefore He is before the Son also, as indeed we have learnt from thee in thy public preaching. Inasmuch then as He hath His being from God, and His glorious perfections, and His life, and is entrusted with all things, for this reason God is His source, and hath rule over Him, as being His God, since He is before Him. As to such phrases as from Him, and from the womb, and I went out from the Father and am came, if they be understood to denote that the Father extends a part and, as it were, a development of that one substance, then the Father will be of a compound nature and divisible and changeable and corporeal, according to them; and thus, as far as their words go, the incorporeal God will be subjected to the properties of matter."
14. Such is their error, such their pestilent teaching; to support it they borrow the words of Scripture, perverting its meaning and using the ignorance of men as their opportunity of gaining credence for their lies. Yet it is certainly by these same words of God that we must come to understand the things of God. For human feebleness cannot by any strength of its own attain to the knowledge of heavenly things; the faculties which deal with bodily matters can form no notion of the unseen world. Neither our created bodily substance, nor the reason given by God for the purposes of ordinary life, is capable of ascertaining and pronouncing upon the nature and work of God. Our wits cannot rise to the level of heavenly knowledge, our powers of perception lack the strength to apprehend that limitless might. We must believe God's word concerning Himself, and humbly accept such insight as He vouchsafes to give. We must make our choice between rejecting His witness, as the heathen do, or else believing in Him as He is, and this in the only possible way, by thinking of Him in the aspect in which He presents Himself to us. Therefore let private judgment cease; let human reason refrain from passing barriers divinely set. In this spirit we eschew all blasphemous and reckless assertion concerning God, and cleave to the very letter of revelation. Each point in our enquiry shall be considered in the light of His instruction, Who is our theme; there shall be no stringing together of isolated phrases whose context is suppressed, to trick and misinform the unpractised listener. The meaning of words shall be ascertained by considering the circumstances under which they were spoken words must be explained by circumstances not circumstances forced into conformity will words. We, at any rate, will treat our subject completely; we will state both the circumstances under which words were spoken, and the true purport of the words. Each point shall be considered in orderly sequence.
15. Their starting-point is this; We confess, they say, One only God, because Moses says, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One. But is this a truth which anyone has ever dared to doubt? Or was any believer ever known to confess otherwise than that there is One God from Whom are all things, One Majesty which has no birth, and that He is that unoriginated Power? Yet this fact of the Unity of God offers no chance for denying the Divinity of His Son. For Moses, or rather God through Moses, laid it down as His first commandment to that people, devoted both in Egypt and in the Desert to idols and the worship of imaginary gods, that they must believe in One God. There was truth and reason in the commandment, for God, from Whom are all things, is One. But let us see whether this Moses have not confessed that He, through Whom are all things, is also God. God is not robbed, He is still God, if His Son share the Godhead. For the case is that of God from God, of One from One, of God Who is One because God is from Him. And conversely the Son is not less God because God the Father is One, for He is the Only-begotten Son of God; not eternally unborn, so as to deprive the Father of His Oneness, nor yet different from God, for He is born from Him. We must not doubt that He is God by virtue of that birth from God which proves to us who believe that God is One; yet let us see whether Moses, who announced to Israel, The Lord thy God is One, has also proclaimed the Godhead of the Son. To make good our confession of the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ we must employ the evidence of that same witness on whom the heretics rely for the confession of One Only God, which they imagine to involve the denial of the Godhead of the Son.
16. Since, therefore, the words of the Apostle, One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and one Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things, form an accurate and complete confession concerning God, let us see what Moses has to say of the beginning of the world. His words are, And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the water, and let it divide the water from the water. And it was so, and God made the firmament and God divided the water through the midst. Here, then, you have the God from Whom, and the God through Whom. If you deny it, you must tell us through whom it was that God's work in creation was done, or else point for your explanation to an obedience in things yet uncreated, which, when God said Let there be a firmament, impelled the firmament to establish itself. Such suggestions are inconsistent with the clear sense of Scripture. For all things, as the Prophet says, were made out of nothing; it was no transformation of existing things, but the creation into a perfect form of the non-existent. Through whom? Hear the Evangelist: All things were made through Him. If you ask Who this is, the same Evangelist will tell you: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him. If you are minded to combat the view that it was the Father Who said, Let there be a firmament, the prophet will answer you: He spake, and they were made; He commanded, and they were created. The recorded words, Let there be a firmament, reveal to us that the Father spoke. But in the words which follow, And it was so, in the statement that God did this thing, we must recognise the Person of the Agent. He spake, and they, were made; the Scripture does not say that He willed it, and did it. He commanded, and they were created; you observe that it does not say they came into existence, because it was His pleasure. In that case there would be no office for a Mediator between God and the world which was awaiting its creation. God, from Whom are all things, gives the order for creation which God, through Whom are all things, executes. Under one and the same Name we confess Him Who gave and Him Who fulfilled the command. If you dare to deny that God made is spoken of the Son, how do you explain All things were made through Him? Or the Apostle's words, One resets Christ, our Lord, through, Whom are all things? Or, He spake, and they were made? If these inspired words succeed in convincing your stubborn mind, you will cease to regard that text, Hear, O Israel, the lord Hey God is One, as a refusal of Divinity to the Son of God, since at the very foundation of the world He Who spoke it proclaimed that His Son also is God. But let us see what increase of profit we may draw from this distinction of God Who commands and God Who executes. For though it is repugnant even to our natural reason to suppose that in the words, He commanded, and they were made, one single and isolated Person is intended, yet, for the avoidance of all doubts, we must expound the events which followed upon the creation of the world.
17. When the world was complete and its inhabitant was to be created, the words spoken concerning him were, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness. I ask you, Do you suppose that God spoke those words to Himself? Is it not obvious that He was addressing not Himself, but Another? If you reply that He was alone, then out of His own mouth He confutes you, for He says, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness. God has spoken to us through the Lawgiver in the way which is intelligible to us; that is, He makes us acquainted with His action by means of language, the faculty with which He has been pleased to endow us. There is, indeed, an indication of the Son of God through Whom all things were made, in the words, And God said, Let there be a firmament, and in, And God maple the firmament, which follows: but lest we should think these words of God were wasted and meaningless, supposing that He issued to Himself the command of creation, and Himself obeyed it,—for what notion could be further from the thought of a solitary God than that of giving a verbal order to Himself, when nothing was necessary except an exertion of His will?—He determined to give us a more perfect assurance that these words refer to Another beside Himself. When He said, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness, His indication of a Partner demolishes the theory of His isolation. For an isolated being cannot be partner to himself; and again, the words, Let Us make, are inconsistent with solitude, while Our cannot be used except to a companion. Both words, Us and Our are inconsistent with the notion of a solitary God speaking to Himself, and equally inconsistent with that of the address being made to a stranger who has nothing in common with the Speaker. If you interpret the passage to mean that He is isolated, I ask you whether you suppose that He was speaking with Himself? If you do not understand that He was speaking with Himself, how can you assume that He was isolated? If He were isolated, we should find Him described as isolated; if He had a companion, then as not isolated. I and Mine would describe the former state; the latter is indicated by Us and Our.
18. Thus, when we read, Let Us make man after Our image and likeness, these two words Us and Our reveal that there is neither one isolated God, nor yet one God in two dissimilar Persons; and our confession must be framed in harmony with the second as well as with the first truth. For the words our image—not our images—prove that there is one nature possessed by Both But an argument from words is an insufficient proof; unless its result be confirmed by the evidence of facts; and accordingly it is written, And God made man; after the image of God made He him. If the words He spoke, I ask, were the soliloquy of an isolated God, what meaning shall we assign to this last statement? For in it I see a triple allusion, to the Maker, to the being made, and to the image. The being made is man; God made him, and made him in the image of God. If Genesis were speaking of an isolated God, it would certainly have been And made him after His own image. But since the book was foreshowing the Mystery of the Gospel, it spoke not of two Gods, but of God and God, for it speaks of man made through God in the image of God. Thus we find that God wrought man after an image and likeness common to Himself and to God; that the mention of an Agent forbids us to assume that He was isolated; and that the work, done after an image and likeness which was that of Both, proves that there is no difference in kind between the Godhead of the One and of the Other.
19. It may seem waste of time to bring forward further arguments, for truths concerning God gain no strength by repetition; a single statement suffices to establish them. Yet it is well for us to know all that has been revealed upon the subject, for though we are not responsible for the words of Scripture, yet we shall have to render an account for the sense we have assigned to them. One of the many commandments which God gave to Noah is, Whoso sheddeth man's blood for his blood shall his life be shed, far after the image of God made 1 man. Here again is the distinction between likeness, creature, and Creator. God bears wireless that He made man after the image of God. When He was about to make man, because He was speaking of Himself, yet not to Himself, God said, After our image; and again, after man was made, God made man after the image of God. It would have been no inaccuracy of language, had He said, addressing Himself, I have made man after My image, for He had shewn that the Persons are one in nature by, Let us make man after Our image. But for the more perfect removal of all doubt as to whether God be, or be not, a solitary Being, when He made man He made him, we are told, After the image of God.
20. If you still wish to assert that God the Father in solitude said these words to Him self, I can go with you as far as to admit the possibility that He might in solitude nave spoken to Himself as if He were conversing with a companion, and that it is credible that He wished the words I have made man after the image of God to be equivalent to I have made man after My own image. But your own confession of faith will refute you. For you have confessed that all things are from the Father, but all through the Son; and the words, Let Us make man, shew that the Source from Whom are all things is He Who spoke thus, while God made him after the image of God clearly points to Him through Whom the work was done.
21. And furthermore, to make all self-deception unlawful, that Wisdom, which you have yourself confessed to be Christ, shall confront you with the words, When tare was establishing the fountains under the heaven, when He was making strong the foundations of the earth. I was with Him, setting them in order. It was I, over Whom He rejoiced. Moreover, I was daily rejoicing in His sight, all the while that He was rejoining in the world that He hart made, and in the sans of men. Every difficulty is removed; error itself must recognise the truth. There is with God Wisdom, begotten before the worlds; and not only present with Him, but setting in order, for She was with Him, setting them in order. Mark this work of setting in order, or arranging. The Father, by His commands, is the Cause; the Son, by His execution of the things commanded, sets in order. The distinction between the Persons is marked by the work assigned to Each. When it says Let us make, creation is identified with the word of command; but when it is written, I was with Him, setting them in order, God reveals that He did not do the work in isolation. For He was rejoicing before Him, Who, He tells us, rejoiced in return; Moreover, I was daily rejoicing in His sight, all the while that He was rejoicing in the world that He had made, and in the sans of men. Wisdom has taught us the reason of Her joy. She rejoiced because of the joy of the Father, Who rejoices over the completion of the world and over the sons of men. For it is written, And God saw that they were good. She rejoices that God is well pleased with His work, which has been made through Her, at His command. She avows that Her joy results from the Father's gladness over the finished world and over the sons of men; over the sons of men, because in the one man Adam the whole human race had begun its course. Thus in the creation of the world there is no mere soliloquy of an isolated Father; His Wisdom is His partner in the work, and rejoices with Him when their conjoint labour ends.
22. I am aware that the full explanation of these words involves the discussion of many and weighty problems. I do not shirk them, but postpone them for the present, reserving their consideration for later stages of the enquiry. For the present I devote myself to that article of the blasphemers' faith, or rather faithlessness, which asserts that Moses proclaims the solitude of God. We do not forget that the assertion is true in the sense that there is One God, from Whom are all things; but neither do we forget that this truth is no excuse for denying the Godhead of the Son, since Moses throughout the course of his writings clearly indicates the existence of God and God. We must examine bow the history of God's choice, and of the giving of the Law, proclaims God co-ordinate with God.
23. After God had often spoken with Abraham, Sarah was moved to wrath against Hagar, being jealous that she, the mistress, was barren, while her handmaid had conceived a son. Then, when Hagar had departed from her sight, the Spirit speaks thus concerning her, And the angel of the Lord said unto Hagar, Return to thy mistress, and submit thyself under her hands. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, and it shall not be numbered for multitude, and again, And she called the Name of the Lord that spake with her. Thou art God, Who hast seen me. It is the Angel of God Who speaks, and speaks of things far beyond the powers which a messenger, for that is the meaning of the word, could have. He says, I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, and it shall not be numbered for multitude. The power of multiplying nations lies outside the ministry of an angel. Yet what says the Scripture of Him Who is called the Angel of God, yet speaks words which belong to God alone? And she calico the Name of the Lord that spake with her, Thou art God, Who hast seen me. First He is the Angel of God; then He is the Lord, for She called the Name of the Lord; then, thirdly, He is God, for Thou art God, Who hast seen me. He Who is called the Angel of God is also Lord and God. The Son of God is also, according to the prophet, the Angel of great counsel. To discriminate clearly between the Persons, He is called the Angel of God; He Who is God from God is also the Angel of God. but, that He may have the honour which is His due, He is entitled also Lord and God.
24. In this passage the one Deity is first the Angel of God, anti then, successively. Lord and God. But to Abraham He is God only. For when the distinction of Persons had first been made, as a safeguard against the delusion that God is a solitary Being, then His true and unqualified name could safely be uttered. And so it is written. And God said to Abraham, Behold Sarah thy wife shall bear thee a son, and thou shalt call his name Isaac; and I will establish My covenant with him for an everlasting covenant, and with his seed after him. And as far Ishmael, behold. I have heard thee and have blessed him, and will multiply him exceedingly; twelve nations shall he beget, and I will make him a great nation. Is it possible to doubt that He Who was previously called the Angel of God is here, in the sequel, spoken of as God? In both instances He is speaking of Ishmael; in both it is the same Person Who shall multiply him. To save us from supposing that this was a different Speaker from Him who had addressed Hagar, the Divine words expressly attest the identity, saying, And I have blessed him, and will multiply him. The blessing is repeated from a former occasion, for Hagar had already been addressed; the multiplication is promised for a future day, for this is God's first word to Abraham concerning Ishmael. Now it is God Who speaks to Abraham; to Hagar the Angel of God had spoken. Thus God and the Angel of God are One; He Who is the Angel of God is also God the Son of God. He is called the Angel because He is the Angel of great counsel; but afterwards He is spoken of as Go I, lest we should suppose that He Who is God is only an angel. Let us now repeat the facts in order. The Angel of the Lord spoke to Hagar; He spoke also to Abraham as God. One Speaker addressed both. The blessing was given to Ishmael, and the promise that he should grow into a great people.
25. In another instance the Scripture reveals through Abraham that it was God Who spoke. He receives the further promise of a son, Isaac. Afterwards there appear to him three men. Abraham, though he sees three, worships One, and acknowledges Him as Lord. Three were standing before him, Scripture says, but he knew well Which it was that he must worship and confess. There was nothing in outward appearance to distinguish them, but by the eye of faith, the vision of the soul, he knew his Lord. Then the Scripture goes on, And He said unto him, I will certainly return unto thee at this time hereafter, and Sarah thy wife shall have a son; and afterwards the Lord said to Him, I will not conceal from Abraham My servant the things that I will do; and again, Moreover the Lord said, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is filled up, and their sins are exceeding great. Then after long discourse, which for the sake of brevity shall be omitted, Abraham, distressed at the destruction which awaited the innocent as well as the guilty, said, In no wise wilt Thou, Who judgest the earth, execute this judgment. And the Lord said, If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes. Afterwards, when the warning to Lot, Abraham's brother, was ended, the Scripture says, And the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and, after a while, And the Lord visited Sarah as He had said, and did unto Sarah as He had spoken, and Sarah conceived and bare Abraham a son in his old age, at the set time of which God had spoken to him. And afterwards, when the handmaid with her son had been driven from Abraham's house, and was dreading test her child should die in the wilderness for want of water, the same Scripture says And the Lord God heard the voice of the lad, where he was, and the Angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, What is it, Hagar? Fear not, for God hath heard the voice of the lad from the place where he is. Arise, and take the lad and hold his hand, for I will make him a great nation.
26. What blind faithlessness it is, what dulness of an unbelieving heart, what headstrong impiety, to abide in ignorance of all this, or else to know and yet neglect it! Assuredly it is written for the very purpose that error or oblivion may not hinder the recognition of the truth. If, as we shall prove, it is impossible to escape knowledge of the facts, then it must be nothing less than blasphemy to deny them. This record begins with the speech of the Angel to Hagar, His promise to multiply Ishmael into a great nation and to give him a countless offspring. She listens, and by her confession reveals that He is Lord and God. The story begins with His appearance as the Angel of God; at its termination He stands confessed as God Himself. Thus He Who, while He executes the ministry of declaring the great counsel is God's Angel, is Himself in name and nature God. The name corresponds to the nature; the nature is not falsified to make it conform to the name. Again, God speaks to Abraham of this same matter; he is told that Ishmael has already received a blessing, and shall be increased into a nation; I have blessed him, God says. This is no change from the Person indicated before; He shews that it was He Who had already given the blessing. The Scripture has obviously been consistent throughout in its progress from mystery to clear revelation; it began with the Angel of God, and proceeds to reveal that it was God Himself Who had spoken in this same matter.
27. The course of the Divine narrative is accompanied by a progressive development of doctrine. In the passage which we have discussed God speaks to Abraham. and promises that Sarah shall bear a son. Afterwards three men stand by him; he worships One and acknowledges Him as Lord. After this worship and acknowledgment by Abraham, the One promises that He will return hereafter at the same season, and that then Sarah shall have her son. This One again is seen by Abraham in the guise of a man, and salutes him with the same promise. The change is one of name only; Abraham's acknowledgment in each case is the same. It was a Man whom he saw, yet Abraham worshipped Him as Lord; he beheld, no doubt, in a mystery the coming Incarnation. Faith so strong has not missed its recognition; the Lord says in the Gospel, Your father Abraham rejoined to see My day; and he saw it, and was glade. To continue the history; the Man Whom he saw promised that He would return at the same season. Mark the fulfilment of the promise, remembering meanwhile that it was a Man Who made it. What says the Scripture? And the Lord visited Sarah. So this Man is the Lord, fulfilling His own promise. What follows next? And God did unto Sarah as He had said. The narrative calls His words those of a Man, relates that Sarah was visited by the Lord, proclaims that the result was the work of God. You are sure that it was a Man who spoke, for Abraham not only heard, but saw Him. Can you be less certain that He was God, when the same Scripture, which had called Him Man, confesses Him God? For its words are, And Sarah conceived, and bare Abraham a son in his old age, and at the set time of which God had spoken to him. But it was the Man who had promised that He would come. Believe that He was nothing more than man; unless, in fact, He Who came was God and Lord. Connect the incidents. It was, confessedly, the Man who promised that He would come that Sarah might conceive and bear a son. And now accept instruction, and confess the faith; it was the Lord God Who came that she might conceive and bear. The Man made the promise in the power of God; by the same power God fulfilled the promise. Thus God reveals Himself both in word and deed. Next, two of the three men whom Abraham saw depart; He Who remains behind is Lord and God. And not only Lord and God, but also Judge, for Abraham stood before the Lord and said, In no wise shall Thou do this things, to slay the righteous with the wicked, for then the righteous shall be as the wicked. In no wise wilt Thou Who judgest the whole earth, execute this judgment. Thus by all his words Abraham instructs us in that faith, for which he was justified; he recognises the Lord from among the three, he worships Him only, and confesses that He is Lord and Judge.
28. Lest you fall into the error of supposing that this acknowledgment of the One was a payment of honor to all the three whom Abraham saw in company, mark the words of Lot when he saw the two who had departed; And when Lot saw them, he rose up to meet them, and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; and he said, Behold, my lords, turn in to your servant's house. Here the plural lords shews that this was nothing more than a vision of angels; in the other case the faithful patriarch pays the honour due to One only. Thus the sacred narrative makes it clear that two of the three were mere angels; it had previously proclaimed the One as Lord and God by the words, And the lord said unto Abraham, Wherefore did Sarah laugh, saying, Shall I then bear a child? But I am grown old. Is anything from God impossible? this season I will return to thee hereafter, and Sarah shall have a son. The Scripture is accurate and consistent; we detect no such confusion as the plural used of the One God and Lord, no Divine honours paid to the two angels. Lot, no doubt, calls them lords, while the Scripture calls them angels. The one is human reverence, the other literal truth.
29. And now there fails on Sodom and Gomorrah the vengeance of a righteous judgment. What can we learn from it for the purposes of our enquiry? The Lord rained brimstone and fire from the Lord. It is The Lord from the Lord; Scripture makes no distinction, by difference of name, between Their natures, but discriminates between Themselves. For we read in the Gospel, The Father judgeth no man, but hath given all judgment to the Son. Thus what the Lord gave, the Lord had received from the Lord.
30. You have now had evidence of God the Judge as Lord and Lord; learn next that there is the same joint ownership of name in the case of God and God. Jacob, when he fled through fear of his brother, saw in his dream a ladder resting upon the earth and reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending upon it, and the Lord resting above it, Who gave him all the blessings which He had bestowed upon Abraham and Isaac. At a later time God spoke to him thus: And God said unto Jacob, Arise, go up to the place Bethel, and dwell there, and make there an altar unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of thy brother. God demands honour for God, and makes it clear that demand is on behalf of Another than Himself. He who appeared to thee when than fleddest are His words: He guards carefully against any confusion of the Persons. It is God Who speaks, and God of Whom He speaks. Their majesty is asserted by the combination of Both under Their true Name of God, while the words plainly declare Their several existence.
31. Here again there occur to me considerations which must be taken into account in a complete treatment of the subject. But the order of defence must adapt itself to the order of attack, and I reserve these outstanding questions for discussion in the next book. For the present, in regard to God Who demanded honour for God, it will suffice for me to point out that He Who was the Angel of God, when He spoke with Hagar, was God and Lord when tie spoke of the same matter with Abraham; that the Man Who spoke with Abraham was also God and Lord, while the two angels, who were seen with the Lord and whom He sent to Lot, are described by the prophet as angels, and nothing more. Nor was it to Abraham only that God appeared in human guise; He appeared as Man to Jacob also. And not only did He appear, but, so we are told, He wrestled; and not only did He wrestle, but He was vanquished by His adversary. Neither the time at my disposal, nor the subject, will allow me to discuss the typical meaning of this wrestling. It was certainly God Who wrestled, for Jacob prevailed against God, and Israel saw God.
32. And now let us enquire whether elsewhere than in the case of Hagar the Angel of God has been discovered to be God Himself. He has been so discovered, and found to be not only God, but the God of Abraham and of Isaac and of Jacob. For the Angel of the Lord appeared to Moses from the bush; and Whose voice, think you, are we to suppose was heard? The voice of Him Who was seen, or of Another? There is no room for deception; the words of Scripture are clear: And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire from a bush, and again, The Lord called unto him from the bush, Moses, Moses, and he answered, What is it? And the Lord said, Draw not nigh hither, put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. And He said unto him, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, He who appeared in the bush speaks from the bush; the place of the vision and of the voice is one; He Who speaks is none other than He Who was seen. He Who is the Angel of God when the eye beholds Him is the Lord when the ear hears Him, and the Lord Whose voice is heard is recognised as the God of Abraham, and of Isaac, and of Jacob. When He is styled the Angel of God, the fact is revealed that He is no self-contained and solitary Being: for He is the Angel of God. When He is designated Lord and God, He receives the full title which is due to His nature and His name. You have, then, in the Angel Who appeared from the bush, Him Who is Lord and God.
33. Continue your study of the witness borne by Moses; mark how diligently he seizes every opportunity of proclaiming the Lord and God. You take note of the passage, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One. Note also the words of that Divine song of his; See, See, that I am the Lord, and there is no God beside Me. While God has been the Speaker throughout the poem, he ends with, Rejoice, ye heavens, together with Him and let all the sans of God praise Him. Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people, and let all the Angels of God do Him honour. God is to be glorified by the Angels of God, and He says, For I am the Lord, and there is no Gad beside Me. For He is God the Only-begotten, and the title 'Only-begotten' excludes all partnership in that character, just as the title 'Unoriginate' denies that there is, in that regard, any who shares the character of the Unoriginate Father. The Son is One from One. There is none unoriginate except God the Unoriginate, and so likewise there is none only-begotten except God the Only-begotten. They stand Each single and alone, being respectively the One Unoriginate and the One Only-begotten. And so They Two are One God, for between the One, and the One Who is His offspring there lies no gulf of difference of nature in the eternal Godhead. Therefore He must be worshipped by the sons of God and glorified by the angels of God. Honour and reverence is demanded for God from the sons and from the angels of God. Notice Who it is that shall receive this honour, and by whom it is to lie paid. It is God, and they are the sons and angels of God. And test you should imagine that honour is not demanded for God Who shares our nature, but that Moses is thinking here of reverence due to God the Father,—though, indeed, it is in the Son that the Father must be honoured- -examine the words of the blessing bestowed by God upon Joseph, at the end of the same book. They are, And let the things that are well-pleasing to Him that appeared in the bush came upon the head and crown of Joseph. Thus God is to be worshipped by the sons of God; but God Who is Himself the Son of God. And God is to be reverenced by the angels of God; but God Who is Himself the Angel of God. For God appeared from the bush as the Angel of God, and the prayer for Joseph is that he may receive such blessings as He shall please, He is none the less God because He is the Angel of God; and none the less the Angel of God because He is God. A clear indication is given of the Divine Persons; the line is definitely drawn between the Unbegotten and the Begotten. A revelation of the mysteries of heaven is granted, and we are taught not to dream of God as dwelling in solitude, when angels and sons of God shall worship Him, Who is God's Angel and Its Son.
34. Let this be taken as our answer from the books of Moses, or rather as the answer of Moses himself. The heretics imagine that they can use his assertion of the Unity of God in disproof of the Divinity of God the Son; a blasphemy in defiance of the clear warning of their own witness, for whenever he confesses that God is One he never fails to teach the Son's Divinity. Our next step must be to adduce the manifold utterance of the prophets concerning the same Son.
35. You know the words, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One; would that you knew them aright! As you interpret them, I seek in vain for their sense. It is said in the Psalms, God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee . Impress upon the reader's mind the distinction between the Anointer and the Anointed; discriminate between the Thee and the Thy: make it clear to Whom and of Whom the words are spoken. For this definite confession is the conclusion of the preceding passage, which runs thus; Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a right sceptre. Thou hast loved righteousness and hated iniquity. And then he continues, Therefore God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. Thus the God of the eternal kingdom, in reward for His love of righteousness and hatred of iniquity, is anointed by His God. Surely some broad difference is drawn, some gap too wide for our mental span, between these names? No; the distinction of Persons is indicated by Thee and Thy, but nothing suggests a difference of nature. Thy points to the Author, Thee to Him Who is the Author's offspring. For He is God from God, as these same words of the prophet declare, God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. And His own words bear wireless that there is no God anterior to God the Unoriginate; Be ye My witnesses, and I am witness, saith the Lord God, and My Servant Whom I have chosen, that ye may know and believe and understand that I am, and before? Me there is no other God, nor shall be after Me. Thus the majesty of Him that has no beginning is declared, and the glory of Him that is from the Unoriginate is safeguarded; for God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. That word Thy declares His birth, yet does not contradict His nature; Thy God means that the Son was born from Him to share the Godhead. But the fact that the Father is God is no obstacle to the Son's being God also, for God, Thy God, hath anointed Thee. Mention is made both of Father and of Son; the one title of God conveys the assurance that in character and majesty They are One.
36. But lest these words, For I am, and before Me there is no other God, nor shall be after Me, be made a handle for blasphemous presumption, as proving that the Son is not God, since after the God, Whom no God precedes, there follows no other God, the purpose of the passage must be considered. God is His own best interpreter, but His chosen Servant joins with Him to assure us that there is no God before Him, nor shall be after Him. His oxen witness concerning Himself is, indeed, sufficient, but He has added the witness of the Servant Whom He has chosen. Thus we have the united testimony of the Two, that there is no God before Him; we accept the truth, because all things are from Him. We have Their witness also that there shall be no God after Him; but They do not deny that God has been born from Him in the past. Already there was the Servant speaking thus, and bearing witness to the Father; the Servant born in that tribe from which God's elect was to spring. He sets forth also the same truth in the Gospels: Behold, My Servant Whom I have chosen, My Beloved in Whom My soul is well pleased. This is the sense, then, in which God says, There is no other God before Me, nor shall be after Me. He reveals the infinity of His eternal and unchanging majesty by this assertion that there is no God before or after Himself. But He gives His Servant a share both in the bearing of wireless and in the possession of the Name of God.
37. The fact is obvious from His own words. For He says to Hosea the prophet, I will no more have mercy upon the house of Israel, but will altogether be their enemy. But I will have mercy upon the children Judah, and will save them in the Lord their God. Here God the Father gives the name of God, without any ambiguity, to the Son, in Whom also He chose us before countless ages. Their God, He says, for while the Father, being Unoriginate, is independent of all, He has given us for an inheritance to His Son. In like manner we read, Ask of Me, and I will give Thee the Gentiles for Thine inheritance. None can be God to Him from Whom are all things, for He is eternal and has no beginning; but the Son has God, from Whom He was born, for His Father. Yet to us the Father is God and the Son is God; the Father reveals to us that the Son is our God, and the Son teaches that the Father is God over us. The point for us to remember is that in this passage the Father gives to the Son the name of God, the title of His own unoriginate majesty. But I have commented sufficiently on these words of Hosea.
38. Again, how clear is the declaration made by God the Father through Isaiah concerning our Lord! He says, For thus saith the Lord, the holy God of Israel, Who made the things to came, Ask me concerning your sons and your daughters, and concerning the works of My hands command ye Me. I have made the earth and man upon it, I have commanded all the stars, I have raised up a King with righteousness, and all His ways are straight. He shall build My city, and shall turn back the captivity of My people, not for price nor reward, saith the Lord of Sabaoth. Egypt shall labour, and the merchandise of the Ethiopians and Sabeans. Men of stature shall come over unto Thee and shall be Thy servants, and shall follow after Thee, bound in chains, and shall worship Thee and make supplication unto Thee, for God is in Thee and there is no God beside Thee. For Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour. All that resist Him shall be ashamed and confounded, and shall walk in confusion. Is any opening left for gainsaying, or excuse for ignorance? If blasphemy continue, is it not in brazen defiance that it survives? God from Whom are all things, Who made all by His command, asserts that He is the Author of the universe, for, unless He had spoken, nothing had been created. He asserts that He has raised up a righteous King, who builds for Himself, that is, for God, a city, and turns back the captivity of His people, for no gift nor reward, for freely are we all saved. Next, He tells how after the labours of Egypt, and after the traffic of Ethiopians and Sabeans, men of stature shall come over to Him. How shall we understand these labours in Egypt, this traffic of Ethiopians and Sabeans? Let us call to mind how the Magi of the East worshipped and paid tribute to the Lord; let us estimate the weariness of that long pilgrimage to Bethlehem of Judah. In the toilsome journey of the Magian princes we see the labours of Egypt to which the prophet alludes. For when the Magi executed, in their spurious, material way, the duty ordained for them by the power of God, the whole heathen world was offering in their person the deepest reverence of which its worship was capable. And these same Magi presented gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh from the merchandise of the Ethiopians and Sabeans; a thing foretold by another prophet, who has said, The Ethiopians shall full down before His face, and is enemies shall lick the dust. The Kings of Tharsis shall offer presents, the Kings of the Arabians and Sabeans shall bring gifts, and there shall be given to Him of the gold of Arabia? The Magi and their offerings stand for the labour of Egypt and for the merchandise of Ethiopians and Sabeans; the adoring Magi represent the heathen world, and offer the choicest gifts of the Gentiles to the Lord Whom they adore.
39. As for the men of stature who shall come over to Him and follow Him in chains, there is no doubt who they are. Turn to the Gospels; Peter, when he is to follow his Lord, is girded up. Read the Apostles: Paul, the servant of Christ, boasts of his bonds. Let us see whether this 'prisoner of Jesus Christ' conforms in his teaching to the prophecies uttered by God concerning God His Son. God hart said, They shall make supplication, for God is in Thee. Now mark and digest these words of the Apostle:—God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself. And then the prophecy continues, And there is no God beside Thee. The Apostle promptly matches this with For there is one Jesus Christ our Lord, through Whom are all things. Obviously there can be none other but He, for He is One. The third prophetic statement is, Thou art God and we knew it not. But Paul, once the persecutor of the Church, says, Whose are the fathers, from Whom is Christ, Who is God over all. Such is to be the message of these men in chains; men of stature, indeed, they will be, and shall sit on twelve thrones to judge the tribes of Israel, and shall follow their Lord, witnesses to Him in teaching and in martyrdom.
40. Thus God is in God, and it is God in Whom God dwells. But how is There is no God beside Thee true, if God be within Him? Heretic! In support of your confession of a solitary Father you employ the words, There is no God beside Me; what sense can you assign to the solemn declaration of God the Father, There is no God beside Thee, if your explanation of There is no God beside Me be a denial of the Godhead of the Son? To whom, in that case, can God have said, There is no God beside Thee? You cannot suggest that this solitary Being said it to Himself. It was to the King Whom He summoned that the Lord said, by the mouth of the men of stature who worshipped and made supplication, For God is in Thee. The facts are inconsistent with solitude. In Thee implies that there was One present within range, if I may say so, of the Speaker's voice. The complete sentence, God is in Thee, reveals not only God present, but also God abiding in Him Who is present. The words distinguish the Indweller from Him in Whom He dwells, but it is a distinction of Person only, not of character. God is in Him, and He, in Whom God is, is God. The residence of God cannot be within a nature strange and alien to His own. He abides in One Who is His own, born from Himself. God is in God, because God is from God. Far Than art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour
41. My next book is devoted to the refutation of your denial that God is in God; for the prophet continues, All that resist Him shall be ashamed and confounded and shall walk in confusion. This is God's sentence, passed upon your unbelief. You set yourself in opposition to Christ, and it is on His account that the Father's voice is raised in solemn reproof; for He, Whose Godhead you deny, is God. And you deny it under cloak of reverence for God, because He says, There is no other God beside Me. Submit to shame and confusion; the Unoriginate God has no need of the dignity you offer; He has never asked for this majesty of isolation which you attribute to Him. He repudiates your officious interpretation which would twist His words, There is no other God beside Me, into a denial of the Godhead of the Son Whom He begot from Himself. To frustrate your purpose of demolishing the Divinity of the Son by assigning the Godhead in some special sense to Himself, He rounds off the glories of the Only-begotten by the attribution of absolute Divinity:—And there is no God beside Thee. Why make distinctions between exact equivalents? Why separate what is perfectly matched? It is the peculiar characteristic of the Son of God that there is no God beside Him; the peculiar characteristic of God the Father that there is no God apart from Him. Use His words concerning Himself; confess Him in His own terms, and entreat Him as King; For God is in Thee, and there is no God beside Thee. For Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour. A confession couched in words so reverent is free from the taint of presumption: its terms can excite no repugnance. Above all, we must remember that to refuse it means shame and ignominy. Brood in thought over these words God; employ them in your confession of Him, and so escape the threatened shame. For if you deny the Divinity of the Son of God, you will not be augmenting the glory of God by adoring Him in lonely majesty; you will be slighting the Father by refusing to reverence the Son. In faith and veneration confess of the Unoriginate God that there is no God beside Him; claim for God the Only-begotten that apart from Him there is no God.
42. As you have listened already to Moses and Isaiah, so listen now to Jeremiah inculcating the same truth as they:—This is our God, and there shall be none other likened unto Him, Who hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He shew Himself upon earth and dwelt among men. For previously he had said, And He is Man, and Who shall know Him? Thus you have God seen on earth and dwelling among men. Now I ask you what sense you would assign to No one hath seen Gad at any time, save the Only- begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, when Jeremiah proclaims God seen on earth and dwelling among men? The Father confessedly cannot be seen except by the Son; Who then is This who was seen and dwelt among men? He must be our God, for He is God visible in human form, Whom men can handle. And take to heart the prophet's words, There shall be none other likened to Him. If you ask how this can be, listen to the remainder of the sentence, lest you be tempted to deny to the Father His share of the confession. Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One. The whole passage is, There shall be none likened unto Him, Who hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant and to Israel His beloved. Afterward did He skew Himself upon earth and dwelt among men. For there is one Mediator between God and Men, Who is both God and Man; Mediator both in giving of the Law and in taking of our body. Therefore none other can be likened unto Him, for He is One, born from God into God, and the it was through Whom all things were created in heaven and earth, through Whom times and worlds were made. Everything, in fine, that exists owes its existence to His action. He it is that instructs Abraham, that speaks with Moses, that testifies to Israel, that abides in the prophets, that was born through the Virgin from the Holy Ghost, that nails to the cross of His passion the powers that are our foes, that slays death in hell, that strengthens the assurance of our hope by His Resurrection, that destroys the corruption of human flesh by the glory of His Body. Therefore none shall be likened unto Him. For these are the peculiar powers of God the Only-begotten; He alone was born from God, the blissful Possessor of such great prerogatives. No second god can be likened unto Him, for He is God from God, not born from any alien being. There is nothing new or strange or modern created in Him. When Israel hears that its God is one, and that no second god is likened, that men may deem him God, to God Who is God's Son, the revelation means that God the Father and God the Son are One altogether, not by confusion of Person but by unity of substance. For the prophet forbids us, because God the Son is God, to liken Him to some second deity.
1. OUR reply, in the previous books, to the mad and blasphemous doctrines of the heretics has led us with open eyes into the difficulty that our readers incur an equal danger whether we refute our opponents, or whether we forbear. For while unbelief with boisterous irreverence was thrusting upon us the unity of God, a unity which devout and reasonable faith cannot deny, the scrupulous soul was caught in the dilemma that, whether it asserted or denied the proposition, the danger of blasphemy was equally incurred. To human logic it may seem ridiculous and irrational to say that it can be impious to assert, and impious to deny, the same doctrine, since what it is godly to maintain it must be godless to dispute; if it serve a good purpose to demolish a statement, it may seem folly to dream that good can come from supporting it. But human logic is fallacy in the presence of the counsels of God, and folly when it would cope with the wisdom of heaven; its thoughts are fettered by its limitations, its philosophy confined by the feebleness of natural reason. It must be foolish in its own eyes before it can be wise unto God; that is, it must learn the poverty of its own faculties and seek after Divine wisdom. It must become wise, not by the standard of human philosophy, but of that which mounts to God, before it can enter into His wisdom, and its eyes be opened to the folly of the world. The heretics have ingeniously contrived that this folly, which passes for wisdom, shall be their engine. They employ the confession of One God, for which they appeal to the witness of the Law and the Gospels in the words, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One. They are well aware of the risks involved, whether their assertion be met by contradiction or passed over in silence; and, whichever happens, they see an opening to promote their heresy. If sacred truth, pressed with a blasphemous intent, be met by silence, that silence is construed as consent; as a confession that, because God is One, therefore His Son is not God, and God abides in eternal solitude. If, on the other hand, the heresy involved in their bold argument be met by contradiction, this opposition is branded as a departure from the true Gospel faith, which states in precise terms the unity of God, or else they cast in the opponent's teeth that he has fallen into the contrary heresy, which allows but one Person of Father and of Son. Such is the deadly artifice, wearing the aspect of an attractive innocence, which the world's wisdom, which is folly with God, has forged to beguile us in this first article of their faith, which we can neither confess nor deny without risk of blasphemy. We walk between dangers on either hand; the unity of God may force us into a denial of the Godhead of His Son, or, if we confess that the Father is God and the Son is God, we may be driven into the heresy of interpreting the unity of Father and of Son in the Sabellian sense. Thus their device of insisting upon the One God would either shut out the Second Person from the Godhead, or destroy the Unity by admitting Him as a second God, or else make the unity merely nominal. For unity, they would plead, excludes a Second; the existence of a Second is destructive of unity; and Two cannot be One.
2. But we who have attained this wisdom of God, which is folly to the world, and purpose, by means of the sound and saving profession of true faith in the Lord, to unmask the snake-like treachery of their teaching; we have so laid out the plan of our undertaking as to gain a vantage ground for the display of the truth without entangling ourselves in the dangers of heretical assertion. We carefully avoid either extreme; not denying that God is One, yet setting forth distinctly, on the evidence of the Lawgiver who proclaims the unity of God, the truth that there is God and God. We teach that it is by no confusion of the Two that God is One; we do not rend Him in pieces by preaching a plurality of Gods, nor yet do we profess a distinction only in name. But we present Him as God and God, postponing at present for fuller discussion hereafter the question of the Divine unity. For the Gospels tell us that Moses taught the truth when he proclaimed that God is One; and Moses by his proclamation of One God confirms the lesson of the Gospels, which tell of God and God. Thus we do not contradict our authorities, but base our teaching upon them, proving that the revelation to Israel of the unity of God gives no sanction to the refusal of Divinity to the Son of God; since he who is our authority for asserting that there is One God is our authority also for confessing the Godhead of His Son.
3. And so the arrangement of our treatise follows closely the order of the objections raised. Since the next article of their blasphemous and dishonest confession is, We confess One true God, the whole of this second book is devoted to the question whether the Son of God be true God. For it is clear that the heretics have ingeniously contrived this arrangement of first naming One God and then One true God, in order to detach the Son from the name and nature of God; since the thought must suggest itself that, truth being inherent in the One God, it must be strictly confined to Him. And therefore, since it is clear beyond a doubt that Moses, when he proclaimed the unity of God, meant therein to assert the Divinity of the Son, let us return to the leading passages in which his teaching is conveyed, and enquire whether or no he wishes us to believe that the Son, Who, as he has taught us, is God, is also true God. It is clear that the truth, or genuineness, of a thing is a question of its nature and its powers. For instance, true wheat is that which grows to a head with the beard bristling round it, which is purged from the chaff and ground to flour, compounded into a loaf and taken for food, and renders the nature and the uses of bread. Thus natural powers are the evidence of truth; and let us see, by this test, whether He, Whom Moses calls God, be true God. We will defer for the present our discourse concerning this One God, Who is also true God, lest, if I fail at once to take up their challenge and uphold the One True God in the two Persons of Father and of Son, eager and anxious souls be oppressed by dangerous doubts.
4. And now, since we accept as common ground the fact that God recognises His Son as God, I ask you: how does the creation of the world disprove our assertion that the Son is true God? There is no doubt that all things are through the Son, for, in the Apostle's words, All things are through Him, and in Him. If all things are through Him, and all were made out of noticing, and none otherwise than through Him, in what element of true Godhead is He defective, Who possesses both the nature and the power of God? He bad at His disposal the powers of the Divine nature, to bring into being the non-existent and to create at His pleasure. For God saw that they were good.
5. When the Law says, And God said, Let there be a firmament, and then adds, And God made the firmament, it introduces no other distinction than that of Person. It indicates no difference of power or nature, and makes no change of name. Under the one title of God it reveals, first, the thought of Him Who spoke, and then the action of Him Who created. The language of the narrator says nothing to deprive Him of Divine nature and power; nay rather, how precisely does it inculcate His true Godhead. The power to give effect to the word of creation belongs only to that Nature with Whom to speak is the same as to fulfil. How then is He not true God, Who creates, if He is true God, Who commands? If the word spoken was truly Divine, the deed done was truly Divine also. God spoke, and God created; if it was true God Who spoke, He Who created was true God also; unless indeed, while the presence of true Godhead was displayed in the speech of the One, its absence was manifested in the action of the Other. Thus in the Son of God we behold the true Divine nature. He is God, He is Creator, He is Son of God, He is omnipotent. It is not merely that He can do whatever He will, for will is always the concomitant of power; but He can do also whatever is commanded Him. Absolute power is this, that its possessor can execute as Agent whatever His words as Speaker can express. When unlimited power of expression is combined with unlimited power of execution, then this creative power, commensurate with the commanding word, possesses the true nature of God. Titus the Son of God is not false God, nor God by adoption, nor God by gift of the name, but true God. Nothing would be gained by the statement of the arguments by which His true Godhead is opposed. His possession of the name and of the nature of God is conclusive proof. He, by Whom all things were made, is God. So much the creation of the world tells me about Him. He is God, equal with God in name; true God, equal with true God in power. The might of God is revealed to us in the creative word; the might of God is manifested also in the creative act. And now again I ask by what authority you deny, in your confession of Father and Son, the true Divine nature of Him Whose name reveals His power, Whose power proves His right to the Name.
6. My reader must bear in mind that I am silent about the current objections through no forgetfulness, and no distrust of my cause. For that constantly cited text, The Father is greater than I, and its cognate passages are perfectly familiar to me, and I have my interpretation of them ready, which makes them witness to the true Divine nature of the Son. But it serves my purpose best to adhere in reply to the order of attack, that our pious effort may follow close upon the progress of their impious scheme, and when we see them diverge into godless heresy we may at once obliterate the track of error. To this end we postpone to the end of our work the testimony of the Evangelists and Apostles, and join battle with the blasphemers for the present on the ground of the Law and the Prophets, silencing their crooked argument, based on misinterpretation and deceit, by the very texts with which they strive to delude us. The sound method of demonstrating a truth is to expose the fallacy of the objections raised against it; and the disgrace of the deceiver is complete if his own lie be converted into an evidence for the truth. And, indeed, the universal experience of mankind has learned that falsehood and truth are incompatible, and cannot be reconciled or made coherent; that by their very nature they are among those opposites which are eternally repugnant, and can never combine or agree.
7. This being the case, I ask how a distinction can be made in the words, Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness between a true God and a false. The words express a meaning, the meaning is the outcome of thought; the thought is set in motion by truth. Let us follow the words back to their meaning, and learn from the meaning the thought, and from the thought attain to the underlying truth. Thy enquiry is, whether He to Whom the words Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness were spoken, was not thought of as true by Him Who spoke; for they undoubtedly express the feeling and thought of the Speaker. In saying Let Us make, He clearly indicates One in no discord with Himself, no alien or powerless Being, but One endowed with power to do the thing of which He speaks. His own words assure us that this is the sense in which we must understand that they were spoken.
8. To assure us still more fully of the true Godhead manifested in the nature and work of the Son, He, Who expressed His meaning in the words I have cited, shews that His thought was suggested by the true Divinity of Him to Whom He said, After Our own image and likeness. How is He falsely called God, to Whom the true God says, After Our own image and likeness? Our is inconsistent with isolation, and with difference either in purpose or in nature. Man is created, taking the words in their strict sense, in Their common image. Now there can be nothing common to the true and to the false. God, the Speaker, is speaking to God; man is being created in the image of Father and of Son. The Two are One in name and One in nature. It is only out image after which man is made. The time has not yet come for me to discuss this matter; hereafter I will explain what is this image of God the Father and of God the Son into which man was created. For the present we will stick to the question, was, or was not, He true God, to Whom the true God said, La Us make man after Our own image and likeness? Separate, if you can, the true from the false elements in this image common to Both; in your heretical madness divide the indivisible. For They Two are One, of Whose one image and likeness man is the one copy.
9. But now let us continue our reading of this Scripture, to shew how the consistency of truth is unaffected by these dishonest objections. The next words are, And God made man; after the image of God made He him. The image is in common; God made man after the image of God. I would ask him who denies that God's Son is true God, in what God's image he supposes that God made man? He must bear constantly in mind that all things are through the Son; heretical ingenuity must not, for its own purposes, twist this passage into action on the part of the Father. If, therefore, man is created through God the Son after the image of God the Father, he is created also after the image of the Son; for all admit that the words After Our image and likeness were spoken to the Son. Thus His true Godhead is as explicitly asserted by the Divine words as manifested in the Divine action; so that it is God Who moulds man into the image of God, Who reveals Himself as God, and, moreover, as true God. For His joint possession of the Divine image proves Him true God, while His creative action displays Him as God the Son.
10. What wild insanity of abandoned souls! What blind audacity of reckless blasphemy! You hear of God and God; you hear of Our image. Why suggest that One is, and One is not, true God? Why distinguish between God by nature and God in name? Why, under pretext of defending the faith, do you destroy the faith? Why struggle to pervert the revelation of One God, One true God, into a denial that God is One and true? Not yet will I stifle your insane efforts with the clear words of Evangelists and Prophets, in which Father and Son appear not as one Person, but as One in nature, and Each as true God. For the present the Law, unaided, annihilates you. Does the Law ever speak of One true God, and One not true? Does it ever speak of Either, except by the name of God, which is the true expression of Their nature? It speaks of God and God; it speaks also of God as One. Nay, it does more than so describe Them. It manifests Them as true God and true God, by the sure evidence of Their joint image. It begins by speaking of Them first by their strict name of God; then it attributes true Godhead to Both in common. For when man, Their creature, is created after the image of Both, sound reason forces the conclusion that Each of Them is true God.
11. But let us travel once more in our journey of instruction over the lessons taught in the holy Law of God. The Angel of God speaks to Hagar; and this same Angel is God. But perhaps His being the Angel of God means that He is not true God. For this title seems to indicate a lower nature y where the name points to a difference in kind, it is thought that true equality must be absent. The last book has already exposed the hollowness of this objection; the title of Angel informs us of His office, not of His nature. I have prophetic evidence for this explanation; Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire. That flaming fire is His ministers; that spirit which comes, His angels. These figures shew the nature and the power of His messengers, or angels, and of His ministers. This spirit is an angel, that flaming fire a minister, of God. Their nature adapts them for the function of messenger or minister. Thus the Law, or rather God through the Law, wishing to indicate God the Son as a Person, yet as bearing the same name with the Father, calls Him the Angel, that is, the Messenger, of God. The title Messenger proves that He has an office of His own; that His nature is truly Divine is proved when lie is called God. But this sequence, first Angel, then God, is in the order of revelation, not in Himself. For we confess Them Father and Son in the strictest sense, in such equality that the Only-begotten Son, by virtue of His birth, possesses true Divinity from the Unbegotten Father. This revelation of Them as Sender and as Sent is but another expression for Father and Son; not contradicting the true Divine nature of the Son, nor cancelling His possession of the Godhead as His birthright. For none can doubt that the Son by His birth partakes congenitally of the nature of His Author, in such wise that from the One there comes into being an indivisible Unity, because One is from One.
12. Faith burns with passionate ardour; the burden of silence is intolerable, and my thoughts imperiously demand an utterance. Already, in the preceding book I have departed from the intended method of my demonstration. I was denouncing that blasphemous sense in which the heretics speak of One God, and expounding the passages in which Moses speaks of God and God. I hastened on with a precipitate, though devout, zeal to the true sense in which we hold the unity of God. And now again, wrapped up in the pursuit of another enquiry, I have suffered myself to wander from the course, and, while I was engaged upon the true Divinity of the Son, the ardour of my soul has hurried me on before the time to make the confession of true God as Father and as Son. But our own faith must wait its proper place in the treatise. This preliminary statement of it has been made as a safeguard for the reader; it shall be so developed and explained hereafter as to frustrate the schemes of the gainsayer.
13. To resume the argument; this title of office indicates no difference of nature, for He, Who is the Angel of God, is God. The test of His true Godhead shall be, whether or no His words and acts were those of God. He increases Ishmael into a great people, and promises that many nations shall bear his name. Is this, I ask, within an angel's power? If not, and this is the power of God, why do you refuse true Divinity to Him Who, on your own confession, has the true power of God? Thus He possesses the true and perfect powers of the Divine nature. True God, in all the types in which He reveals Himself for the world's salvation, is not, nor ever can be, other than true God.
14. Now first, I ask, what is the meaning of these terms, 'true God' and 'not true God'? If any one says to me 'This is fire, but not true fire; water, but not true water,' I can attach no intelligible meaning to his words. What difference in kind can there be between one true specimen, and another true specimen, of the same class? If a thing be fire, it must be true fire; while its nature remains the same it cannot lose this character of true fire. Deprive water of its watery nature, and by so doing you destroy it as true water; let it remain water, and it will inevitably still be true water. The only way in which an object can lose its nature is by losing its existence; if it continue to exist it must be truly itself. If the Son of God is God, then He is true God; if He is not true God, then in no possible sense is tie God at all. If He has not the nature, then He has no right to the name; if, on the contrary, the name which indicates the nature is His by inherent right, then it cannot be that He is destitute of that nature in its truest sense.
15. But perhaps it will be argued that, when the Angel of God is called God, He receives the name as a favour, through adoption, and has in consequence a nominal, not a true, Godhead. If He gave us an inadequate revelation of His Divine nature at the time when He was styled the Angel of God, judge whether He has not fully manifested His true Godhead under the name of a nature lower than the angelic. For a Man spoke to Abraham, and Abraham worshipped Him as God. Pestilent heretic! Abraham confessed Him, you deny Him, to be God. What hope is there for you, in your blasphemy, of the blessings promised to Abraham? He is Father of the Gentiles, but not for you; you cannot go forth from your regeneration to join the household of his seed, through the blessings given to his faith. You are no son, raised up to Abraham from the stones; you are a generation of vipers, an adversary of his belief. You are not the Israel of God, the heir of Abraham, justified by faith; for you have disbelieved God, while Abraham was justified and appointed to be the Father of the Gentiles through that faith wherein he worshipped the God Whose word he trusted. God it was Whom that blessed and faithful Patriarch worshipped then; and mark how truly He was God, to Whom, in His own words, all things are possible. Is there any, but God alone, to Whom nothing is impossible? And He, to Whom all things are possible, does He fall short of true Divinity?
16. I ask further, Who is this God Who overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah? For the Lord rained from the Lord; was it not the true Lord from the true Lord? Have you any alternative to this Lord, and Lord? Or any other meaning for the terms, except that in Lord, and Lord, their Persons are distinguished? Bear in mind that Him Whom you have confessed as Alone true, you have also confessed as Alone the righteous Judge 9. Now mark that the Lord who rains from the Lord, and slays not the just with the unjust, and judges the whole earth, is both Lord and also righteous Judge, and also rains from the Lord. In the face of all this, I ask you Which it is that you describe as alone the righteous Judge. The Lord rains from the Lord; you will not deny that He Who rains from the Lord is the righteous, Judge, for Abraham, the Father of the Gentiles—but not of the unbelieving Gentiles—speaks thus: In no wise shall Thou do tills thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, for then shall the righteous be as the wicked. In no wise shall Thou, Who judgest the earth, execute this judgment. This God, then, the righteous Judge, is clearly also the true God. Blasphemer! Your own falsehood confutes you. Not yet do I bring forward the witness of the Gospels concerning God the Judge; the Law has told me that He is the Judge. You must deprive the Son of His judgeship before you can deprive Him of His true Divinity. You have solemnly confessed that He Who is the only righteous Judge is also the only true God; your own statements bind you to the admission that He Who is the righteous Judge is also true God. This Judge is the Lord, to Whom all things are possible, the Promiser of eternal blessings, Judge of righteous and of wicked. He is the God of Abraham, worshipped by him. Fool and blasphemer that you are, your shameless readiness of tongue must invent some new fallacy, if you are to prove that He is not true God.
17. His merciful and mysterious self-revelations are in no wise inconsistent with His true heavenly nature; and His faithful saints never fail to penetrate the guise He has assumed in order that faith may see Him. The types of the Law foreshew the mysteries of the Gospel; they enable the Patriarch to see and to believe what hereafter the Apostle is to gaze on and publish. For, since the Law is the shadow of things to come, the shadow that was seen was a true outline of the reality which cast it. God was seen and believed and worshipped as Man, Who was indeed to be born as Man in the fulness of time. He takes upon Him, to meet the Patriarch's eye, a semblance which foreshadows the future truth. In that old day God was only seen, not born, as Man; in due time He was born, as well as seen. Familiarity with the human appearance, which He took that men might behold Him, was to prepare them for the time when He should, in very truth, be born as Man. Then it was that the shadow took substance, the semblance reality, the vision life. But God remained unchanged, whether He were seen in the appearance, or born in the reality, of manhood. The resemblance was perfect between Himself, after His birth, and Himself, as He had been seen in vision. As He was born, so He had appeared; as He had appeared, so was He born. But, since the time has not yet come for us to compare the Gospel account with that of the prophet Moses, let us pursue our chosen course through the pages of the Law. Hereafter we shall prove from the Gospels that it was the true Son of God Who was born as Man; for the present, we are shewing from the Law that it was true God, the Son of God, Who appeared to the Patriarchs in human form. For when One appeared to Abraham as Man, He was worshipped as God and proclaimed as Judge; and when the Lord rained from the Lord, beyond a doubt the Law tells us that the Lord rained from the Lord in order to reveal to us the Father and the Son. Nor can we for a moment suppose that when the Patriarch, with full knowledge, worshipped the Son as God, he was blind to the fact that it was true God Whom he worshipped.
18. But godless unbelief finds it very hard to apprehend the true faith. Their capacity for devotion has never been expanded by belief, and is too narrow to receive a full presentment of the truth. Hence the unbelieving soul cannot grasp the great work done by God in being born as Man to accomplish the salvation of mankind; in the work of its salvation it fails to see the power of God. They think of the travail of His birth, the feebleness of infancy, the growth of childhood, the attainment of maturity, of bodily suffering and of the Cross with which it ended, and of the death upon the Cross; and all this conceals His true Godhead from their eyes. Yet He had called into being all these capacities for Himself, as additions to His nature; capacities which in His true Divine nature He had not possessed. Thus He acquired them without loss of His true Divinity, and ceased not to be God when He became Man; when He, Who is God eternally, became Man at a point in time. They cannot see an exercise of the true God's power in His becoming what He was not before, yet never ceasing to be His former Self. And yet there would have been no acceptance of our feeble nature, had not He by the strength of His own omnipotent nature, while remaining what He was, come to be what previously He was not. What blindness of heresy, what foolish wisdom of the world, which cannot see that the reproach of Christ is the power of God, the folly of faith the wisdom of God! So Christ in your eyes is not God because He, Who was from eternity, was born, because the Unchangeable grew with years, the Impassible suffered, the Living died, the Dead lives; because all His history contradicts the common course of nature! Is not all this simply to say that He, being God, was omnipotent? Not yet, ye holy and venerable Gospels, do I turn your pages, to prove from them that Christ Jesus, amid these changes and sufferings, is God. For the Law is tile forerunner of the Gospels, and the Law must teach us that, when God clothed Himself in infirmity, He lost not His Godhead. The types of the Law are our convincing assurance of the mysteries of the Gospel faith.
19. Be with me now in thy faithful spirit, holy and blessed Patriarch Jacob, to combat the poisonous hissings of the serpent of unbelief. Prevail once more in thy wrestling with the Man, and, being the stronger, once more entreat His blessing. Why pray for what thou mightest demand from thy weaker Opponent? Thy strong arm has vanquished Him Whose blessing thou prayest. Thy bodily victory is in broad contrast to thy soul's humility, thy deeds to thy thoughts. It is a Man whom thou holdest powerless in thy strong grasp; but in thine eye this Man is true God, and God not in name only, but in nature. It is not the blessing of a God by adoption that thou dost claim, but the true God's blessing. With Man thou strivest; but face to face thou seest God. What thou seest with the bodily eye is different far from what thou beholdest with the vision of faith. Thou hast felt Him to be weak Man; but thy soul has been saved because it saw God in Him. When thou wast wrestling thou wast Jacob; thou art Israel now, through faith in the blessing which thou didst claim. According to the flesh, the Man is thy inferior, for a type of His passion in the flesh; but thou canst recognise God in that weak flesh, for a sign of His blessing in the Spirit. The witness of the eye does not disturb thy faith; His feebleness does not mislead thee into neglect of His blessing. Though He is Man, His humanity is no bar to His being God, His Godhead no bar to His being true God; for, being God, He must indeed be true.
20. The Law in its progress still follows the sequence of the Gospel mystery, of which it is the shadow; its types are a faithful anticipation of the truths taught by the Apostles. In the vision of his dream the blessed Jacob saw God; this was the revelation of a mystery, not a bodily manifestation. For there was shown to him the descent of angels by the ladder, and their ascent to heaven, and God resting above the ladder; and the vision, as it was interpreted, foretold that his dream should some day become a revealed truth. The Patriarch's words, The house of God and the gate of heaven, skew us the scene of Iris vision; and then, after a long account of what he did, the narrative proceeds thus: And God said unto Jacob, Arise, and go up to the place Bethel, and dwell there: and make there a Sacrifice unto God, that appeared unto thee widen thou fleddest from the face of Esau. If the faith of the Gospel has access through God the Son to God the Father, and if it is only through God that God can be apprehended, then shew us in what sense This is not true God, Who demands reverence for God, Who rests above the heavenly ladder. What difference of nature separates the Two, when Both bear the one name which indicates the one nature? It is God Who was seen; it is also God Who speaks about God Who was seen. God cannot be apprehended except through God; even as also God accepts no worship from us except through God. We could not understand that the One must be reverenced, unless the Other had taught us reverence for Him; we could not have known that the One is God, unless we had known the Godhead of the Other. The revelation of mysteries holds its appointed course; it is by God that we are initiated into the worship of God. And when one name, which tells of one nature, combines the Father with the Son, how can the Son so fall beneath Himself as to be other than true God?
21. Human judgment must not pass its sentence upon God. Our nature is not such that it Can lift itself by its own forces to the contemplation of heavenly things. We must learn from God what we are to think of God; we have no source of knowledge but Himself. You may be as carefully trained as you will in secular philosophy; you may have lived a life of righteousness. All this will contribute to your mental satisfaction, but it will not help you to know God. Moses was adopted as the son of the queen, and instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; he had, moreover, out of loyalty to his race avenged the wrong of the Hebrew by slaying the Egyptian, and yet he knew not the God Who had blessed his fathers. For when he left Egypt through fear of the discovery of his deed, and was living as a shepherd in the land of Midian, he saw a fire in the bush, and the bush unconsumed. Then it was that he heard the voice of God, and asked His name, and learned His nature. Of all this he could have known nothing except through God Himself. And we, in like manner, must confine ourselves, in whatever we say of God, to the terms in which He has spoken to our understanding concerning Himself.
22. It is the Angel of God Who appeared in the fire from the bush; and it is God Who spoke from the bush amid the fire. He is manifested as Angel; that is His office, not His nature. The name which expresses His nature is given you as God; for the Angel of God is God. But perhaps He is not true God. Is the God of Abraham, then, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, not true God? For the Angel Who speaks from the bush is their God eternally. And, lest you insinuate that the name is His only by adoption, it is the absolute God Who speaks to Moses. These are His words:—And the Lord said unto Moses, I Am that I Am; and He said, Thus shale thou say unto the children of Israel, He that is hath sent me unto you. God's discourse began as the speech of the Angel, in order to reveal the mystery of human salvation in the Son. Next He appears as the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, that we may know the name which is His by nature. Finally it is the God that is Who sends Moses to Israel, that we may have full assurance that in the absolute sense He is God.
23. What further fictions can the futile folly of insane blasphemy devise? Do you still persist in your nightly sowing of tares, predestined to be burnt, among the pure wheat, when the knowledge of all the Patriarchs contradicts you? Nay more: if you believed Moses, you would believe also in God, the Son of God; unless perchance you deny that it was of Him that Moses spoke. If you propose to deny that, you must listen to the words of God:—For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me also, far he wrote of Me. Moses, indeed, will refute you with the whole volume of the Law, ordained through angels, which he received by the hand of the Mediator. Enquire whether He, Who gave the Law, were not true God; for the Mediator was the Giver. And was it not to meet God that Moses led out the people to the Mount? Was it not God Who came down into the Mount? Or was it, perhaps, only by a fiction or an adoption, and not by right of nature, that He, Who did all this, bore the name of God? Mark the blare of the trumpets, the flashing of the torches, the clouds of smoke, as from a furnace, rolling over the mountain, the terror of conscious impotence on the part of man in the presence of God, the confession of the people, when they prayed Moses to be their spokesman, that at the voice of God they would die. Is He, in your judgment, not true God, when simple dread lest He should speak filled Israel with the fear of death? He Whose voice could not be borne by human weakness? In your eyes is He not God, because He addressed you through the weak faculties of a man, that you might hear, and live? Moses entered the Mount; in forty days and nights he gained the knowledge of the mysteries of heaven, and set it all in order according to the vision of the truth which was revealed to him there. From intercourse with God, Who spoke with him, he received the reflected splendour of that glory on which none may gaze? his corruptible countenance was transfigured into the likeness of the unapproachable light of Him, with Whom he was dwelling. Of this God he bears witness, of this God he speaks; he summons the angels of God to come and worship Him amid the gladness of the Gentiles, and prays that the blessings which please Him may descend upon the head of Joseph. In face of such evidence as this, dare any man say that He has nothing but the name of God, and deny His true Divinity?
24. This long discussion has, I believe, brought out the truth that no sound argument has ever been adduced in favour of a distinction between One Who is, and One Who is not, true God, in those passages where the Law speaks of God and God, of Lord and Lord. I have proved that these terms are inconsistent with difference between Them in name or in nature, and that we can use the name as a test of the nature, and the nature as a clue to the name. Thus I have shewn that the character, the power, the attributes, the name of God are inherent in Him Whom the Law has called God. I have shewn also that the Law, gradually unfolding the Gospel mystery, reveals the Son as a Person by manifesting God as obedient, in the creation of the world, to the words of God, and in the formation of man making what is the joint image of God, and of God; and again, that in the judgment of the men of Sodom the Lord is Judge from the Lord; that, in the giving of blessings and ordaining of the mysteries of the Law, the Angel of God is God. Thus, in support of the saving confession of God as ever manifested in the Persons of Father and of Son, we have shewn how the Law teaches the true Godhead by the use of the strict name of God; for, while the Law states clearly that They are Two, it casts no shadow of doubt upon the true Godhead of either.
25. And now the time has come for us to put a stop to that cunning artifice of heresy, by which they pervert the devout and godly teachings of the Law into a support for their own godless delusion. They preface their denial of the Son of God with the words, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One; and then, because their blasphemy would be refuted by the identity of name, since the Law speaks of God and God, they invoke the authority of the prophetic words, They shall bless Thee, the true God, to prove that the name is not used in the true sense. They argue that these words teach that God is One, and that God, the Son of God, has His name only and not His nature; and that therefore we must conclude that the true God is one Person only. But perhaps you imagine, fool, that we shall contradict these texts of yours, and so deny that there is one true God. Assuredly we do not contradict them by a confession conceived in your sense. Our faith receives them, our reason accepts them, our words declare them. We recognise One God, and Him true God. The name of God has no dangers for our confession, which proclaims that in the nature of the Son there is the One true God. Learn the meaning of your own words, recognise the One true God, and then you will be able to make a faithful confession of God, One and true. It is the words of our faith which you are turning into the instrument of your blasphemy, preserving the sound and perverting the sense. Masquerading in a foolish garb of imaginary wisdom, under cover of loyalty to truth you are the truth's destroyer. You confess that God is Out and true, on purpose to deny the truth which you confess. Your language claims a reputation for piety on the strength of its impiety, for truth on the strength of its falsehood. Your preaching of One true God leads up to a denial of Him. For you deny that the Son is true God, though you admit that He is God, but God in name only, not in nature. If His birth be in name, not in nature, then you are justified in denying His true right to the name; but if He be truly born as God, how then can He fail to be true God by virtue of His birth? Deny the fact, and you may deny the consequence; if you admit the fact, how can He be other than Himself? No being can alter its own essential nature. About His birth I shall speak presently; meantime I will refute your blasphemous falsehoods concerning His true Divine nature by the utterances of prophets. But I shall take care that in our assertion of the One true God I give no cover to the Sabellian heresy that the Father is one Person with the Son, and none to that slander against the Son's true Godhead, which you evolve out of the unity of the One true God.
26. Blasphemy is incompatible with wisdom; where the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, is absent, no glimmer of intelligence survives. An instance of this is seen in the heretics' citation of the prophet's words, And they shall bless Thee, the true God, as evidence against the Godhead of the Son. First, we see here the folly, which clogs unbelief in the misuderstanding or (if it were understood) in the suppression of the earlier part of the prophecy: and again we see it in their fraudulent interpolation of that one little word, not to be found in the book itself. This proceeding is as stupid as it is dishonest, since no one would trust them so far as to accept their reading without referring for corroboration to the prophetic text. For that text does not stand thus: They shall bless Thee, the true God, but thus: They shall bless the true God. There is no slight difference between Thee, the true God and The true Gad. If Thee be retained, the pronoun of the second person implies that Another is being addressed; if Thee be omitted, True God, the object of the sentence, is the Speaker.
27. To ensure that our explanation of the passage shall be complete and certain, I cite the words in full:—Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, they that serve Me shall eat, but ye shall be hungry, behold, they that serve Me shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty, behold, they that serve Me shall rejoice with gladness, but ye shall cry for sorrow of your heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. For ye shall leave your name for a rejoicing unto My chosen, but the Lord shall slay you. But My servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth; and they shall bless the true God, and they that swear upon the earth shall swear by the true God. There is always a good reason for any departure from the accustomed modes of expression, but novelty is also made an opportunity for misinterpretation. The question here is, Why, when so many earlier prophecies have been uttered concerning God, and the name God, alone and without epithet, has sufficed hitherto to indicate the Divine majesty and nature, the Spirit of prophecy should now foretell through Isaiah that the true God was to be blessed, and that men should swear upon earth by the true God. First, we must bear in mind that this discourse was spoken concerning times to come. Now, I ask, was not He, in the mind of the Jews, true God, Whom men used then to bless, and by whom they swore? The Jews, unaware of the typical meaning of their mysteries, and therefore ignorant of God the Son, worshipped God simply as God, and not as Father; for, if they had worshipped Him as Father, they would have worshipped the Son also. It was God, therefore, Whom they blessed and by Whom they swore. But the prophet testifies that it is trite God Who shall be blessed hereafter; calling Him true God, because the mysteriousness of His Incarnation was to blind the eyes of some to His true Godhead. When falsehood was to be published abroad, it was necessary that the truth should be clearly stated. And now let us review this passage, clause by clause.
28. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, they that serve Me shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, they that serve Me shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty. Note that one clause contains two different tenses, in order to teach truth concerning two different times; They that serve Me shall eat. Present piety is rewarded with a future prize, and similarly present godlessness shall suffer the penalty of future thirst and hunger. Then He adds, Behold, they that serve Me shall rejoice with gladness, but ye shall cry for sorrow of your heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. Here again, as before, there is a revelation for the future and for the present. They who serve now shall rejoice with gladness, while they who do not serve shall abide in crying and howling through sorrow of heart and vexation of spirit. He proceeds, For ye shall leave your name for a rejoicing unto My chosen, but the Lord shall slay you. These words, dealing with a future time, are addressed to the carnal Israel, which is taunted with the prospect of having to surrender its name to the chosen of God. What is this name? Israel, of course; for to Israel the prophecy was addressed. And now I ask, What is Israel to-day? The Apostle gives the answer:—They who are in the spirit, not in the letter, they who walk in the Law of Christ, are the Israel of God.
29. Furthermore, we must form a conclusion why it is that the words cited above, Therefore thus saith the Lord, are followed by But the Lord shall slay you, and as to the meaning of the next sentence, But my servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth. There can be no doubt that both Therefore thus saith the Lord, and afterwards But the Lord shall slay you, prove that it was the Lord Who both spoke, and also purposed to slay, Who meant to reward His servants with that new name, Who was well known to have spoken through the prophets and was to he the judge of the righteous and of the wicked. And thus the remainder of this revelation of the mystery of the Gospel removes all doubt concerning the Lord as Speaker and as Slayer. It continues:—But My servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth Here everything is in the future. What then is this new name of a religion; a name which shall be blessed upon earth? If ever in past ages there were a blessing upon the name Christian, it is not a new name. But if this hallowed name of our devotion towards God be new, then this new title of Christian, awarded to our faith, is that heavenly blessing which is our reward upon earth.
30. And now come words in perfect harmony with the inward assurance of our faith. He says, And they shall bless the true God, and they that swear upon earth shall swear by the true God. And indeed they who in God's service have received the new name shall bless God; and moreover the God by Whom they shall swear is the true God. What doubt is there as to Who this true God is, by Whom men shall swear and Whom they shall bless, through Whom a new and blessed name shall be given to them that serve Him? I have on my side, in opposition to the blasphemous misrepresentations of heresy, the clear and definite evidence of the Church's faith; the witness of the new name which Thou, O Christ, hast given, of the blessed title which Thou hast bestowed in reward of loyal service. It swears that Thou art true God. Every mouth, O Christ, of them that believe tells that Thou art God. The faith of all believers swears that Thou art God, confesses, proclaims, is inwardly assured, that Thou art true God.
31. And thus this passage of prophecy, taken with its whole context, clearly describe, as God both Him Whom we serve for the new name's sake, and Him through Whom the new name is blessed upon earth. It tells us Who it is that is blessed as true God, and Who is sworn by as true God. And this is the confession of faith made, in the fulness of time, by the Church in loyal devotion to Christ her Lord. We can see how exactly the words of prophecy conform to the truth, by their refraining from the insertion of that pronoun of the second person. Had the words been Thee, the true God, then they might have been interpreted as spoken to another. The true God can refer to none but the Speaker. The passage, taken by itself, shews to Whom it refers; the preceding words, taken in connexion with it, declare Who the Speaker is Who makes this confession of God. They are these:—I have appeared openly to them that asked not for Me, and, I have been found of them that sought Me not. I said, Here am I, unto a nation that called not an My name. I have spread out My hands all the day to an unbelieving and gainsaying people. Could a dishonest attempt to suppress the truth be more completely exposed, or the Speaker be more distinctly revealed as true God, than here? Who, I demand, was it that appeared to them that asked not for Him, and was found of them that sought Him not? What nation is it that formerly called not on His name? Who is it that spread out His hands all the day to an unbelieving and gainsaying people? Compare with these words that holy and Divine Song of Deuteronomy, in which God, in His wrath against them that are no Gods, moves the unbelievers to jealousy against those that are no people and a foolish nation. Conclude for yourself, Who it is that makes Himself manifest to them that knew Him not; Who, though one people is His own, becomes the possession of strangers; Who it is that spreads out His hands before an unbelieving and gainsaying people, nailing to the cross the writing of the former sentence against us. For the same Spirit in the prophet, whom we are considering, proceeds thus in the course of this one prophecy, which is connected in argument as well as continous in utterance: But My servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth, and they shall bless the true God, and they that swear upon the earth shall swear by the trite God.
32. If heresy, in its folly and wickedness, shall attempt to entice the simple-minded and uninstructed away from the true belief that these words were spoken in reference to God the Son, by reigning that they are an utterance of God the Father concerning Himself, it shall hear sentence passed upon the lie by the Apostle and Teacher of the Gentiles. He interprets all these prophecies as allusions to the passion of the Lord and to the times of Gospel faith, when he is reproving the unbelief of Israel, which will not recognise that the Lord is come in the flesh. His words are:—For whosoever shall have called upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? But how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, excerpt they hare been sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feel of them that proclaim peace, of them that proclaim good things. But all do not obey the Gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing through the word. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy against them that are no people, and against a foolish nation I will anger you. Moreover Esaias is bold, and saith, I appeared unto them that seek Me not, I was found by them that asked not after Me. But to Israel what saith He? All day long I have stretched forth My hands to a people that hearken not. Who art thou that bast mounted up through the successive heavens, knowing not whether thou wert in the body or out of the body, and canst explain more faithfully than he the words of the prophet? Who art thou that hast heard, and mayst not tell, the ineffable mysteries of the secret things of heaven, and hast proclaimed with greater assurance the knowledge granted thee by God for revelation? Who art thou that hast been fore-ordained to a full share of the Lord's suffering on the Cross, and first has been caught up to Paradise and drawn nobler teaching from the Scriptures of God than this chosen vessel? If there be such a man, has he been ignorant that these are the deeds and words of the true God, proclaimed to us by His own true and chosen Apostle that we may recognise in Him their Author?
33. But it may be argued that the Apostle was not inspired by the Spirit of prophecy when he borrowed these prophetic words; that he was only interpreting at random the words of another man, and though, no doubt, everything the Apostle says of himself comes to him by revelation from Christ, yet his knowledge of the words of Isaiah is only derived from the book. I answer that in the beginning of that utterance in which it is said that the servants of the true God shall bless Him and swear by Him, we read this adoration by the prophet:—From everlasting we have not heard, nor have our eyes seen God, except Thee, and Thy works which Thou wilt do for them that await Thy mercy. Isaiah says that he has seen no God but Him. For he did actually see the glory of God, the mystery of Whose taking flesh from the Virgin he foretold. And if you, in your heresy, do not know that it was God the Only-begotten Whom the prophet saw in that glory, listen to the Evangelist:—These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him. The Apostle, the Evangelist, the Prophet combine to silence your objections. Isaiah did see God; even though it is written, No one hath seen God at any time, save the Only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father; He hath declared Him, it was God Whom the prophet saw. He gazed upon the Divine glory, and men were filled with envy at such honour vouchsafed to his prophetic greatness. For this was the reason why the Jews passed sentence of death upon him.
34. Thus the Only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, has told us of God, Whom no man has seen. Either disprove the fact that the Son has thus informed us, or else believe Him Who has been seen, Who appeared to them who knew Him not, and became the God of the Gentiles who called not upon Him and spread out His bands before a gainsaying people. And believe this also concerning Him, that they who serve Him are called by a new name, and that on earth men bless Him and swear by Him as true God. Prophecy tells, the Gospel confirms, the Apostle explains, the Church confesses, that He Who was seen is true God; but none venture to say that God the Father was seen. And yet the madness of heresy has run to such lengths that, while they pro-less to recognise this truth, they really deny it. They deny it by means of the newfangled and godless device of evading the truth, while making a studied pretence of adhesion to it. For when they confess one God, alone true and alone righteous, alone wise, alone unchangeable, alone immortal, alone mighty, they attach to Him a Son different in substance, not born from God to be God, but adopted through creation to be a Son, having the name of God not by nature, but as a title received by adoption; and thus they inevitably deprive the Son of all those attributes which they accumulate upon the Father in His lonely majesty.
35. The distorted mind of heresy is incapable of knowing and confessing the One true God; the sound faith and reason necessary for such confession is incompatible with unbelief. We must confess Father and Son before we can apprehend God as One awl true. When we have known the mysteries of man's salvation, accomplished in us through the power of regeneration unto life in the Father and the Son, then we may hope to penetrate the mysteries of the Law and the Prophets. Godless ignorance of the teaching of Evangelists and Apostles cannot frame the thought of One true God. Out of the teaching of Evangelists and Apostles we shall present the sound doctrine concerning Him, In accurate agreement with the faith of true believers. We shall present Him in such wise that the Only-begotten, Who is of the substance of the Father, shall be known as indivisible and inseparable in nature, not in Person. We shall set forth God as One, because God is from the nature of God. But we shall also establish this doctrine of the perfect unity of God upon the words of the Prophets, and make them the foundations of the Gospel structure, proving that there is One God, with one Divine nature, by the fact that God the Only-begotten is never classed apart as a second God. For throughout this book of our treatise we have followed the same course as in its predecessor; the same methods which proved there that the Son is God, have proved here that He is true God. I trust that our explanation of each passage has been so convincing that we have now manifested Him as true God as effectually as we formerly demonstrated His Godhead. The remainder of the book shall be devoted to the proof that He, Who is now recognised as true God, must not be regarded as a second God. Our disproof of the notion of a second God will further establish the unity; and this truth shall be displayed as not inconsistent with the personal existence of the Son, while yet it maintains the unity of nature in God and God.
36. The true method of our enquiry demands that we should begin with him, through whom God first manifested Himself to the world, that is, with Moses, by whose mouth God the Only-begotten thus declared Himself; See, see that I am God, and there is no God beside Me. That godless heresy must not assign these words to God, the unbegotten Father, is clear by the sense of the passage and by the evidence of the Apostle who, as we have already stated, has taught us to understand this whole discourse as spoken by God the Only-begotten. The Apostle also points out the words, Rejoice, 0 ye nations, with His people as those of the Son, and in corroboration further cites this:—And there shall be a root of Jesse, and One that shall arise to rule the nations; in Him shall the nations trust. Thus Moses by the words, Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people indicates Him Who said, There is no Gad beside Me; and the Apostle refers the same words to our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Only-begotten, in Whose rising as a king from the root of Jesse, according to the flesh, the hope of the Gentiles rests. And therefore we must now consider the meaning of these words, that we, who know that they were spoken by Him, may ascertain in what sense He spoke them.
37. That true and absolute and perfect doctrine, which forms our faith, is the confession of God from God and God in God, by no bodily process but by Divine power, by no transfusion from nature into nature but through the secret and mighty working of the One nature; God from God, not by division or extension or emanation, but by the operation of a nature which brings into existence, by means of birth, a nature One with itself. The facts shall receive a fuller treatment in the next book, which is to be devoted to an exposition of the teaching of the Evangelists and Apostles; for the present we must maintain our assertion and belief by means of the Law and the Prophets. The nature with which God is born is necessarily the same as that of His Source. He cannot come into existence as other than God, since His origin is from none other than God. His nature is the same, not in the sense that the Begetter also was begotten—for then the Unbegotten, having been begotten, would not be Himself—but that the substance of the Begotten consists in all those elements which are summed up in the substance of the Begetter, Who is His only Origin. Thus it is due to no external cause that His origin is from the One, and that His existence partakes the Unity; their is no novel element in Him, because His life is from the Living; no element absent, because the Living begot Him to partake His own life. Hence, in the generation of the Son, the incorporeal and unchangeable God begets, in accordance with His own nature, God incorporeal and unchangeable; and this perfect birth of incorporeal and unchangeable God from incorporeal and unchangeable God involves, as we see in the light of the revelation of God from God, no diminution of the Begetter's substance. And so God the Only-begotten bears witness through the holy Moses; See, see that I am God, and there is no God beside Me. For there is no second Divine nature, and so there can be no God beside Him, since He is God, yet by the powers of His nature God is also in Him. And because He is God and God is in Him, there is no God beside Him; for God, than Whom there is no other Source of Deity, is in Him, and consequently there is within Him not only His own existence, but the Author of that existence.
38. This saving faith which we profess is sustained by the spirit of prophecy, speaking with one voice through many mouths, and never, through long and changing ages, bearing an uncertain witness to the truths of revelation. For instance, the words which, as we are told through Moses, were spoken by God the Only-begotten, are confirmed for our better instruction by the prophetic spirit, speaking this time through those men of stature,—For God is in Thee, and there is no God beside Thee. Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God Israel, the Saviour. Let heresy fling itself with its utmost effort of despair and rage against this declaration of a name and nature inseparably joined, and rend in twain, if its furious struggles can, a union perfect in title and in fact. God is in God and beside Him there is no God. Let heresy, if it can, divide the God within from the God within Whom He is, and classify, Each after His kind, the members of that mystic union. For when He says God is in Thee, He teaches that the true nature of God the Father is present in God the Son; for we must understand that it is the God Who is that is in Him. And when He adds, And there is no God beside Thee, He shews that outside Him there is no God, since God's dwelling is within Himself. And the third assertion, Thou art God and we knew it not, sets forth for our instruction what must be the confession of the devout and believing soul. When it has learnt the mysteries of the Divine birth, and the name Emmanuel which the angel announced to Joseph, it must cry, Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour. It must recognise the subsistence of the Divine nature in Him, inasmuch as God is in God, and the nonexistence of any other God except the true. For, He being God and God being in Him, the delusion of another God, of what kind soever, must be surrendered. Such is the message of the prophet Isaiah; he bears witness to the indivisible and inseparable Godhead of Father and of Son.
39. Jeremiah also, a prophet equally inspired, has taught that God the Only-begotten is of a nature one with that of God the Father. His words are:—This is our God, and there shall be none other likened unto Him, hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved Afterward He was seen upon earth, and dwelt among men. Why try to transform the Son of God into a second God? Learn to recognise and to confess the One True God. No second God is likened to Christ, and so can claim to be God. He is God from God by nature and by birth, for the Source of His Godhead is God. And, again, He is not a second God, for no other is likened unto Him; the truth that is in Him is nothing else than the truth of God. Why link together, in pretended devotion to the unity of God, true and false, base and genuine, unlike and unlike? The Father is God and the Son is God. God is in God; beside Him there is no God, and none other is likened unto Him so as to be God. If in these Two you shall recognise the Unity, instead of the solitude, of God, you will share the Church's faith, which confesses the Father in the Son. But if, in ignorance of the heavenly mystery, you insist that God is One in order to enforce the doctrine of His isolation, then you are a stranger to the knowledge of God, for you deny that God is in God.
1. It is with a full knowledge of the dangers and passions of the time that I have ventured to attack this wild and godless heresy, which asserts that the Son of God is a creature. Multitudes of Churches, in almost every province of the Roman Empire, have already caught the plague of this deadly doctrine; error, persistently inculcated and falsely claiming to be the truth, has become ingrained in minds which vainly imagine that they are loyal to the faith. I know how hardly the will is moved to a thorongh recantation, when zeal for a mistaken cause is encouraged by the sense of numbers and confirmed by the sanction of general approval. A multitude under delusion can only be approached with difficulty and danger. When the crowd has gone astray, even though it know that it is in the wrong, it is ashamed to return. It claims consideration for its numbers, and has the assurance to command that its folly shall be accounted wisdom. It assumes that its size is evidence of the correctness of its opinions; and thus a falsehood which has found general credence is boldly asserted to have established its truth.
2. For my own part, it was not only the claim which my vocation has upon me, the duty of diligently preaching the Gospel which, as a bishop, I owe to the Church, that has led me on. My eagerness to write has increased with the increasing numbers endangered and enthralled by this heretical theory. There was a rich prospect of joy in the thought of multitudes who might be saved, if they could know the mysteries of the right faith in God, and abandon the blasphemous principles of bureau folly, desert the heretics and surrender themselves to God; if they would forsake the bait with which the fowler snares his prey, and soar aloft in freedom and safety, following Christ as Leader, prophets as instructors, apostles as guides, and accepting the perfect faith and sure salvation in the confession of Father and of Son. So would they, in obedience to the words of the Lord, He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him, be setting themselves to honour the Father, through honour paid to the Son.
3. For of late the infection of a mortal evil has gone abroad among mankind, whose ravages have dealt destruction and death on every hand. The sudden desolation of cities smitten, with their people in them, by earthquake to the ground, the terrible slaughter of recurring wars, the widespread mortality of an irresistible pestilence, have never wrought such fatal mischief as the progress of this heresy throughout the world. For God, unto Whom all the dead live, destroys those only who are self- destroyed. From Him Who is to be the Judge of all, Whose Majesty will temper with mercy the punishment allotted to the mistakes of ignorance, they who deny Him can expect not even judgment, but only denial.
4. For this mad heresy does deny; it denies the mystery of the true faith by means of statements borrowed from our confession, which it employs for its own godless ends. The confession of their misbelief, which I have already cited in an earlier book, begins thus:—"We confess one God, alone unmade, alone eternal, alone unoriginate, alone true, alone possessing immortality, alone good, alone mighty." Thus they parade the opening words of our own confession, which runs, "One God, alone unmade and alone unoriginate," that this semblance of truth may serve as introduction to their blasphemous additions. For, after a multitude of words in which an equally insincere devotion to the Son is expressed, their confession continues, "God's perfect creature, but not as one of His other creatures, His Handiwork, but not as His other works." And again, after an interval in which true statements are occasionally interspersed in order to veil their impious purpose of alleging, as by sophistry they try to prove, that He came into existence out of nothing, they add, "He, created and established before the worlds, did not exist before He was born." And lastly, as though every point of their false doctrine, that He is to be regarded neither as Son nor as God, were guarded impregnably against assault, they continue:— "As to such phrases as from Him, and from the womb, and I went out from the Father and am come, if they be understood to denote that the Father extends a part and, as it were, a development of that one substance, then the Father will be of a compound nature and divisible and changeable and corporeal, according to them; and thus, as far as their words go, the incorporeal God will be subjected to the properties of matter." But, as we are now about to cover the whole ground once more, employing this time the language of the Gospels as our weapon against this most godless heresy, it has seemed best to repeat here, in the sixth book, the whole heretical document, though we have already given a full copy of it in the fourth, in order that our opponents may read it again, and compare it, point by point, with our reply, and so be forced, however reluctant and argumentative, by the clear teaching of the Evangelists and Apostles, to recognise the truth. The heretical confession is as follows:—
5. "We confess one God, alone unmade, alone eternal, alone unoriginate, alone posessing immortality, alone good, alone mighty, Creator, Ordainer and Disposer of all things, unchangeable and unalterable, righteous and good, of the Law and the Prophets and the New Testament. We believe that this God gave birth to the Only-begotten Son before all worlds, through Whom He made the world and all things, that He gave birth to Him not in semblance, but in truth, following His own will, so that He is unchangeable and unalterable, God's perfect Creature, but not as one of His other creatures, His Handiwork, but not as His other works; not, as Valentinus maintained, that the Son is a development of the Father, nor, as Manichaeus has declared of the Son, a consubstantial part of the Father, nor, as Sabellius, who makes two out of One, Son and Father at once, nor, as Hieracas, a light from a light, or a lamp with two flames, nor, as if He was previously in being and afterwards born, or created afresh, to be a Son, a notion often condemned by thyself, blessed Pope, publicly in the Church, and in the assembly of the brethren. But, as we have affirmed, we believe that He was created by the will of God before times and worlds, and has His life and existence from the Father, Who gave Him to share His own glorious perfections. For, when the Father gave to Him the inheritance of all things, He did not thereby deprive Himself of attributes which are His without origination, He being the source of all things.
6. "So there are three Persons, Father, Son and Holy Ghost. God, for His part, is the Cause of all things, utterly unoriginate and separate from all; while the Son, put forth by the Father outside time, and created and established before the worlds, did not exist before He was born, but, being born outside time before the worlds, came into being as the Only Son of the Only Father. For He is neither eternal, nor co-eternal, nor co-uncreate with the Father, nor has He an existence collateral with the Father, as some say who postulate two unborn principles. But God is before all things, as being indivisible and the beginning of all. Wherefore He is before the Son also, as indeed we have learnt from thee in thy public preaching. Inasmuch then as He has His being from God, and His glorious perfections, and His life, and is entrusted with all things, for this reason God is His Source. For He rules over Him, as being His God, since He is before Him. As to such phrases as from Him, and from the womb, and I went out from the Father and am come, if they be understood to denote that the Father extends a part and, as it were, a development of that one Substance, then the Father will be of a compound nature and divisible and changeable and corporeal, according to them; and thus, as far as their words go, the incorporeal God will be subjected to the properties of matter."
7. Who can fail to see here the slimy windings of the serpent's track: the coiled adder, with forces concentrated for the spring, concealing the deadly weapon of its poisonous fangs within its folds? Presently we shall stretch it out and examine it, and expose the venom of this hidden head. For their plan is first to impress with certain sound statements, and then to infuse the poison of their heresy. They speak us fair, in order to work us secret harm. Yet, amid all their specious professions, I nowhere hear God's Son entitled God; I never hear sonship attributed to the Son. They say much about His having the name of Son, but nothing about His having the nature. That is kept out of sight, that He may seem to have no right even to the name. They make a show of unmasking other heresies to conceal the fact that they are heretics themselves. They strenuously assert that there is One only, One true God, to the end that they may strip the Son of God of His true and personal Divinity.
8. And therefore, although in the two last books I have proved from the teaching of the Law and Prophets that God and God, true God and true God, true God the Father and true God the Son, must be confessed as One true God, by unity of nature and not by confusion of Persons, yet, for the complete presentation of the faith, I must also adduce the teaching of the Evangelists and Apostles. I must show from them that true God, the Son of God, is not of a different, an alien nature from that of the Father, but possesses the same Divinity while having a distinct existence through a true birth. And, indeed, I cannot think that any soul exists so witless as to fancy that, although we know God's self-revelations, yet we cannot understand them; that, if they can be understood, would not wish to understand, or would dream that human reason can devise improvements upon them. But before I begin to discuss the facts contained in these saving mysteries, I must first humble the pride with which these heretics rebuke the names of other heresies. I shall hold up to the light this ingenious cloak for their own impiety. I shall shew that this very means of concealing the deadliness of their teaching serves rather to reveal and betray it, and is a widely effectual warning of the true character of this honeyed poison.
9. For instance, these heretics would have it that the Son of God is not from God; that God was not born from God out of, and in, the nature of God. To this end, when they have solemnly borne witness to "One God, alone true," they refrain from adding "The Father." And then, in order to escape from confessing one true Godhead of Father anti of Son by a denial of the true birth, they proceed, "Not, as Valentinus maintained, that the Son is a development of the Father." Thus they think to cast discredit upon the birth of God from God by calling it a "development," as though it were a form of the Valentinian heresy. For Valentinus was the author of foul and foolish imaginations; beside the chief God, he invented a whole household of deities and countless powers called aeons, and taught that our Lord Jesus Christ was a development mysteriously brought about by a secret action of will. The faith of the Church, the faith of the Evangelists and Apostles, knows nothing of this imaginary development, sprung from the brain of a reckless and senseless dreamer. It knows nothing of the "Depth" and "Silence" and the thrice ten aeons of Valentinus. It knows none but One God the Father, from Whom are all things, and One Jesus Christ, our Lord, through Whom are all things, Who is God born from God. But it occurred to them that He, in being born as God from God, neither withdrew anything from the Divinity of His Author nor was Himself born other than God; that He became God not by a new beginning of Deity but by birth from the existing God; and that every birth appears, as far as human faculties can judge, to be a development, so that even that birth might be regarded as a development. And these considerations have induced them to make an attack upon the Valentinian heresy of development as a means of destroying faith in the true birth of the Son. For the experience of common life leads worldly wisdom to suppose that there is no great difference between a birth and a development. The mind of man, dull and slow to grasp the things of God, needs to be constantly reminded of the principle, which I have stated more than once, that analogies drawn from human experience are not of perfect application to the mysteries of Divine power; that their only value is that this comparison with material objects imparts to the spirit such a notion of heavenly things that we may rise, as by a ladder of nature, to an apprehension of the majesty of God. But the birth of God must not be judged by such development as takes place in human births. When One is born from One, God born from God, the circumstances of human birth enable us to apprehend the fact; but a birth which presupposes intercourse and conception and time and travail can give us no clue to the Divine method. When we are told that God was born from God, we must accept it as true that He was born, and be content with that. We shall, however, in the proper place discourse of the truth of the Divine birth, as the Gospels and the Apostles set it forth. Our present duty has been to expose this device of heretical ingenuity, this attack upon the true birth of Christ, concealed under the form of an attack upon a so-called development.
10. And then, in continuation of this same fraudulent assault upon the faith, their confession proceeds thus:—"Nor, as Manichaeus has declared of the Son, a consubstantial part of the Father." They have already denied that He is a development, in order to escape from the admission of His birth; now they introduce, labelled with the name of Manichaeus, the doctrine that the Son is a portion of the one Divine substance, and deny it, in order to subvert the belief in God from God. For Manichaeus, the furious adversary of the Law and Prophets, the strenuous champion of the devil's cause and blind worshipper of the sun, taught that That which was in the Virgin's womb was a portion of the one Divine substance, and that by the Son we must understand a certain piece of God's substance which was cut off, and made its appearance in the flesh. And so they make the most of this heresy that in the birth of the Son there was a division of the one substance and use it as a means of evading the doctrine of the birth of the Only-begotten, and the very name of the unity of substance. Because it is sheer blasphemy to speak of a birth re-suiting from division of the one substance they deny any birth; all forms of birth are joined in the condemnation which they pass upon the Manichaean notion of birth by severance. And again, they abolish the unity of substance, both name and thing, because the heretics hold that the unity is divisible; and deny that the Son is God from God, by refusing to believe that He is truly possessed of the Divine nature. Why does this mad heresy profess a fictitious reverence, a senseless anxiety? The faith of the Church does, as these insane propounders of error remind us, condemn Manichaeus, for she knows nothing of the Son as a portion. She knows Him as whole God from whole God, as One from One, not severed but born. She is assured that the birth of God involves neither impoverishment of the Begetter nor inferiority of the Begotten. If this be the Church's own imagining, reproach her with the follies of a wisdom falsely claimed; but if she have learned it from her Lord, confess that the Begotten knows the manner of His begetting. She has learnt from God the Only-begotten these truths, that Father and Son are One, and that in the Son the fulness of the Godhead dwells. And therefore she loathes this attribution to the Son of a portion of the one substance; and, because she knows that He was truly born of God, she worships the Son as rightful Possessor of true Divinity. But, for the present, let us defer our full answer to these several allegations, and hasten through the rest of their denunciations.
11. What follows is this:—"Nor, as Sabellius, who makes two out of One, Son and Father at once." Sabellius holds this in wilful blindness to the revelation of the Evangelists and Apostles. But what we see here is not one heretic honestly denouncing other. It is the wish to leave no point of union between Father and Son that prompts them to reproach Sabellius with his division of an indivisible Person; a division which does not result in the birth of a second Person, but cuts the One Person into two parts, one of which enters the Virgin's womb. But we confess a birth; we reject this confusion of two Persons in One, while yet we cleave to the Divine unity. That is, we hold that God from God means unity of nature; for that Being, Who, by a true birth from God, became God, can draw His substance from no other source than the Divine. And since He continues to draw His being, as He drew it at first, from God, He must remain true God for ever; and hence They Two are One, for He, Who is God from God, has no other than the Divine nature, and no other than the Divine origin. But the reason why this blasphemous Sabellian confusion of two Persons into One is here condemned is that they wish to rob the Church of her true faith in Two Persons in One God. But now I must examine the remaining instances of this perverted ingenuity, to save myself from the reputation of a censorious judge of sincere enquirers, moved rather by dislike than genuine fear. I shall shew, by the terms with which they wind up their confession, what is the deadly conclusion which they have skilfully contrived shall be its inevitable issue.
12. Their next clause is:—"Nor, as Hieracas, a light from a light, or a lamp with two flames, nor as if He was previously in being, and afterwards born, or created afresh, to be a Son." Hieracas ignores the birth of the Only-begotten, and, in complete unconsciousness of the meaning of the Gospel revelations, talks of two flames from one lamp. This symmetrical pair of flames, fed by the supply of oil contained in one bowl, is His illustration of the substance of Father and Son. It is as though that substance were something separate from Either Person, like the oil in the lamp, which is distinct from the two flames, though they depend upon it for their existence; or like the wick, of one material throughout and burning at both ends, which is distinct from the flames, yet provides them and connects them together. All this is a mere delusion of human folly, which has trusted to itself, and not to God, for knowledge. But the true faith asserts that God is born from God, as light from light, which pours itself forth without self-diminution, giving what it has yet having what it gave. It asserts that by His birth He was what He is, for as He is so was He born; that His birth was the gift of the existing Life, a gift which did not lessen the store from which it was taken; and that They Two are One, for He, from Whom He is born, is as Himself, and He that was born has neither another source nor another nature, for He is Light from Light. It is in order to draw men's faith away from this, the true doctrine, that this lantern or lamp of Hieracas is cast in the teeth of those who confess Light from Light. Because the phrase has been used in an heretical sense, and condemned both now and in earlier days, they want to persuade us that there is no true sense in which it can be employed. Let heresy forthwith abandon these groundless fears, and refrain from claiming to be the protector of the Church's faith on the score of a reputation for zeal earned so dishonestly. For we allow nothing bodily, nothing lifeless, to have a place among the attributes of God; whatever is God is perfect God. In Him is nothing but power, life, light, blessedness, Spirit. That nature contains no dull, material elements; being immutable, it has no incongruities within it. God, because He is God, is unchangeable; and the unchangeable God begat God. Their bond of union is not, like that of two flames, two wicks of one lamp, something outside Themselves. The birth of the Only-begotten Son from God is not a prolongation in space, but a begetting; not an extension, but Light from Light. For the unity of light with light is a unity of nature, not unbroken continuation.
13. And again, what a wonderful example of heretical ingenuity is this:—"Nor as if He were previously in being, and afterwards born or created afresh, to be a Son." God, since He was born from God, was assuredly not born from nothing, nor from things non-existent. His birth was that of the eternally living nature. Yet, though He is God, He is not identical with the pre-existing God; God was born from God Who existed before Him; in, and by, His birth He partook of the nature of His Source. If we are speaking words of our own, all this is mere irreverence; but if, as we shall prove, God Himself has taught us how to speak, then the necessity is laid upon us of confessing the Divine birth in the sense revealed by God. And it is this unity of nature in Father and in Son, this ineffable mystery of the living birth, which the madness of heresy is struggling to banish from belief, when it says, "Nor as if He were previously in being, and afterwards born, or created afresh, to be a Son." Now who is senseless enough to suppose that the Father ceased to be Himself; that the same Person Who had previously existed was afterwards born, or created afresh, to be the Son? That God disappeared, and that His disappearance was followed by an emergence in birth, when, in fact, that birth is evidence of the continuous existence of its Author? Or who is so insane as to suppose that a Son can come into existence otherwise than through birth? Who so void of reason as to say that the birth of God resulted in anything else than in God being born? The abiding God was not born, but God was born from the abiding God; the nature bestowed in that birth was the very nature of the Begetter. And God by His birth, which was from God into God, received, because His was a true birth, not things new- created but things which were and are the permanent possession of God. Thus it is not the pre-existent God that was born; yet God was born, and began to exist, out of and with the properties of God. And thus we see how heresy, throughout this long prelude, has been treacherously leading up to this most blasphemous doctrine. Its object being to deny God the Only- begotten, it starts with what purports to be a defence of truth, to go on to the assertion that Christ is born not from God but out of nothing, and that His birth is due to the Divine counsel of creation from the non- existent.
14. And then again, after an interval designed to prepare us for what is coming, their heresy delivers this assault;—"While the Son, put forth outside time, and created and established before the worlds, did not exist before He was born." This "He did not exist before He was born" is a form of words by which the heresy flatters itself that it gains two ends; support for its blasphemy, and a screen for itself if its doctrine be arraigned. A support for its blasphemy, because, if He did not exist before He was born, He cannot be of one nature with His eternal Origin. He must have His beginning out of nothing, if He have no powers but such as are coeval with His birth. And a screen for its heresy, for if this statement be condemned, it furnishes a ready answer. He that did exist, it will be said, could not be born; being in existence already, He could not possibly come into being by passing through the process of birth, for the very meaning of birth is the entry into existence of the being that is born. Fool and blasphemer! Who dreams of birth in the case of Him Who is the unborn and eternal? How can we think of God, Who is, being born, when being born implies the process of birth? It is the birth of God the Only- begotten from God His Father that you are striving to disprove, and it was your purpose to escape the confession of that truth by means of this "He did not exist before He was born;" the confession that God, from Whom the Son of God was born, did exist eternally, and that it is from His abiding nature that God the Son draws His existence through birth. If, then, the Son is born from God, you must confess that His is a birth of that abiding nature; not a birth of the pre-existing God, but a birth of God from God the pre-existent.
15. But the fiery zeal of this heresy is such that it cannot restrain itself from passionate outbreak. In its effort to prove, in conformity with its assertion that He did not exist before He was born, that the Son was born from the non-existent, that is, that He was not born from God the Father to be God the Son by a true and perfect birth, it winds up its confession by rising in rage and hatred to the highest pitch of possible blasphemy:—"As to such phrases as from Him, and from the womb, and I went out front the Father and am come, if they be understood to denote that the Father extends a part, and, as it were, a development of that one substance, then the Father will be of a compound nature and divisible and changeable and corporeal, according to them; and thus, as far as their words go, the incorporeal God will be subjected to the properties of matter." The defence of the true faith against the falsehoods of heresy would indeed be a task of toil and difficulty, if it were needful for us to follow the processes of thought as far as they have plunged into the depths of godlessness. Happily for our purpose it is shallowness of thought that has engendered their eagerness to blaspheme. And hence, while it is easy to refute, the folly, it is difficult to amend the fool, for he will neither think out right conclusions for himself, nor accept them when offered by another. Yet I trust that they who in pious ignorance, not in wilful folly bred of self-conceit, are enchained by error, will welcome correction. For our demonstration of the truth will afford convincing proof that heresy is nothing else than folly.
16. You said in your unreason, and you are still repeating to-day, ignorant that your wisdom is a defiance of God, "As to such phrases as from Him, and from the womb, and I went out from the Father and am come," I ask you, Are these phrases, or are they not, words of God? They certainly are His; and, since they are spoken by God about Himself, we are bound to accept them exactly as they were spoken. Concerning the phrases themselves, and the precise force of each, we shall speak i in the proper place. For the present I will only put this question to the intelligence of every reader; When we see From Himself, are we to take it as equivalent to "From sortie one else," or to "From nothing," or are we to accept it as the truth? It is not "From some one else," for it is From Himself; that is, His Godhead has no other source than God. It is not "From nothing," for it is From Himself; a declaration of the nature from which His birth is. It is not "Himself," but From Himself; a statement that They are related as Father and Son. And next, when the revelation From the womb is made, I ask whether we can possibly believe that He is born from nothing, when the truth of His birth is clearly indicated in terms borrowed from bodily functions. It is not because He has bodily members, that God records the generation of the Son in the words, I bore Thee from the womb before the morning star . He uses language which assists our understanding to assure us that His Only-begotten Son was ineffably born of His own true Godhead. His purpose is to educate the faculties of men up to the knowledge of the faith, by clothing Divine verities in words descriptive of human circumstances. Thus, when He says, From the womb, He is teaching us that His Only-begotten was, in the Divine sense, born, and did not come into existence by means of creation out of nothing. And lastly, when the Son said, I went forth from the Father and am come, did He leave it doubtful whether His Divinity were, or were not, derived from the Father? He went out from the Father; that is, He had a birth, and the Father, and no other, gave Him that birth. He bears witness that He, from Whom He declares that He came forth, is the Author of His being. The proof and interpretation of all this shall be given hereafter.
17. But meanwhile let us see what ground these men have for the confidence with which they forbid us to accept as true the utterances of God concerning Himself; utterances, the authenticity of which they do not deny. What more grievous insult could be flung by human folly and insolence at God's self-revelation, than a condemnation of it, shewn in correction? For not even doubt and Criticism will satisfy them. What more grievous than this profane handling and disputing of the nature and power of God? Than the presumption of saying that, if the Son is from God, then God is changeable and corporeal, since He has extended or developed a part of Himself to be His Son? Whence this anxiety to prove the immutability of God? We confess the birth, we proclaim the Only-begotten, for so God has taught us. You, in order to banish the birth and the Only-begotten from the faith of the Church, confront us with an unchangeable God, incapable, by His nature, of extension or development. I could bring forward instances of birth, even in natures belonging to this world, which would refute this wretched delusion that every birth must be an extension. And I could save you from the error that a being can come into existence only at the cost of loss to that which begets it, for there are many examples of life transmitted, without bodily intercourse, from one living creature to another. But it would be impious to deal in evidences, when God has spoken; and the utmost excess of madness to deny His authority to give us a faith, when our worship is a confession that He alone can give us life. For if life comes through Him alone, must not He be the Author of the faith which is the condition of that life? And if we hold Him an untrustworthy witness concerning Himself, how can we be sure of the life which is His gift?
18. For you attribute, most godless of heretics, the birth of the Son to an act of creative will; you say that He is not born from God, but that He was created and came into existence by the choice of the Creator. And the unity of the Godhead, as you interpret it, will not allow Him to be God, for, since God remains One, the Son cannot retain His original nature in that state into which He has been born. He has been endowed, through creation, you say, with a substance different from the Divine, although, being in a sense the Only-begotten, He is superior to God's other creatures and works. You say that He was raised up, that He in His turn might perform the task committed to Him of raising up the created world; but that His birth did not confer upon Him the Divine nature. He was born, according to you, in the sense that He came into existence out of nothing. You call Him a Son, not because He was born from God, but because He was created by God. For you call to mind that God has deemed even holy men worthy of this title, and you consider that it is assigned to the Son in exactly the same sense in which the words, I have said, Ye are Gods, and all of you sons of the Most High , were spoken; that is, that He bears the name through the Giver's condescension, and not by right of nature. Thus, in your eyes, He is Son by adoption, God by gift of the title, Only-begotten by favour, First-born in date, in every sense a creature, in no sense God. For you hold that His generation was not a birth from God, in the natural sense, but the beginning of the life of a created substance.
19. And now, Almighty God, I first must pray Thee to forgive my excess of indignation, and permit me to address Thee; and next to grant me, dust and ashes as I am, yet bound in loyal devotion to Thyself, freedom of utterance in this debate. There was a time when I, poor wretch, was not; before my life and consciousness and personality began to exist. It is to Thy mercy that I owe my life; and I doubt not that Thou, in Thy goodness, didst give me my birth for my good, for Thou, Who hast no need of me, wouldst never have made the beginning of my life the beginning of evil. And then, when Thou hadst breathed into me the breath of life and endowed me with the power of thought, Thou didst instruct me in the knowledge of Thyself, by means of the sacred volumes given us through Thy servants Moses and the prophets. From them I learnt Thy revelation, that we must not worship Thee as a lonely God. For their pages taught me of God, not different from Thee in nature but One with Thee in mysterious unity of substance. I learnt that Thou art God in God, by no mingling or confusion but by Thy very nature, since the Divinity which is Thyself dwells in Him Who is from Thee. But the true doctrine of the perfect birth revealed that Thou, the Indwelt, and Thou, the Indweller, are not One Person, yet that Thou dost dwell in Him Who is from Thee. And the voices of Evangelists and Apostles repeat the lesson, and the very words which fell from the holy mouth of Thy Only-begotten are recorded, telling how Thy Son, God the Only- begotten from Thee the Unbegotten God, was born of the Virgin as man to fulfil the mystery of my salvation; holy Thou dwellest in Him, by virtue of His true generation from Thyself, and He in Thee, because of the nature given in His abiding birth from Thee.
20. What is this hopeless quagmire of error into which Thou hast plunged me? For I have learnt all this and have come to believe it; this faith is so ingrained into my mind that I have neither the power nor the wish to change it. Why this deception of an unhappy man, this ruin of a poor wretch in body and soul, by deluding him with falsehoods concerning Thyself? After the Red Sea had been divided, the splendour on the face of Moses, descending from the Mount, deceived me. He had gazed, in Thy presence, upon all the mysteries of heaven, and I believed his words, dictated by Thee, concerning Thyself. And David, the man that was found after Thine own heart, has betrayed me to destruction, and Solomon, who was thought worthy of the gift of Divine Wisdom, and Isaiah, who saw the Lord of Sabaoth and prophesied, and Jeremiah consecrated in the womb, before he was fashioned, to be the prophet of nations to be rooted out and planted in, and Ezekiel, the witness of the mystery of the Resurrection, and Daniel, the man beloved, who had knowledge of times, and all the hallowed band of the Prophets; and Matthew also, chosen to proclaim the whole mystery of the Gospel, first a publican, then an Apostle, and John, the Lord's familiar friend, and therefore worthy to reveal the deepest secrets of heaven, and blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and all his companions who spoke by the Holy Ghost, and Paul, the chosen vessel, changed from persecutor into Apostle, who, as a living man abode under the deep sea and ascended into the third heaven, who was in Paradise before his martyrdom, whose martyrdom was the perfect offering of a flawless faith; all have deceived me.
21. These are the men who have taught me the doctrines which I hold, and so deeply am I impregnated with their teaching that no antidote can release me from their influence. Forgive me, O God Almighty, my powerlessness to change, my willingness to die in this belief. These propagators of blasphemy, for so they seem to me, are a product of these last times, too modern to avail me. It is too late for them to correct the faith which I received from Thee. Before I had ever heard their names, I had put my trust in Thee had received regeneration from Thee and become Thine, as still I am. I know that Thou art omnipotent; I look not that Thou shouldst reveal to me the mystery of that ineffable birth which is secret between Thyself and Thy Only-begotten. Nothing is impossible with Thee, and I doubt not that in begetting Thy Son Thou didst exert Thy full omnipotence. To doubt it would be to deny that Thou an omnipotent. For my own birth teaches me that Thou art good, and therefore I am sure that in the birth of Thine Only-begotten Thou didst grudge Him no good gift. I believe that all that is Thine is His, and all that is His is Thine. The creation of the world is sufficient evidence to me that Thou art wise; and I am sure that Thy Wisdom, Who is like Thee, must have been begotten from Thyself. And Thou art One God, in very truth, in my eyes; I will never believe that in Him, Who is God from Thee, there is ought that is not Thine. Judge me in Him, if it be sin in me that, through Thy Son, I have trusted too well in Law and Prophets and Apostles.
22. But this wild talk must cease; the rhetoric of exposing heretical folly must give place to the drudgery of framing arguments. So, I trust, those among them who are capable of being saved will set their faces towards the true faith taught by the Evangelists and Apostles, and recognise Him Who is the true Son of God, not by adoption but by nature. For the plan of our reply must be that of first proving that He is the Son of God, and therefore fully endowed with that Divine nature in the possession of which His Sonship consists. For the chief aim of the heresy, which we are considering, is to deny that our Lord Jesus Christ is true God and truly the Son of God. Many evidences assure us that our Lord Jesus Christ is, and is revealed to be, God the Only-begotten, truly the Son of God. His Father bears witness to it, He Himself asserts it, the Apostles proclaim it, the faithful believe it, devils confess it, Jews deny it, the heathen at His passion recognised it. The name of God is given Him in the right of absolute ownership, not because He has been admitted to joint use with others of the title. Every work and word of Christ transcends the power of those who bear the title of sons; the foremost lesson that we learn from all that is most prominent in His life is that He is the Son of God, and that He does not hold the name of Son as a title shared with a widespread company of friends.
23. I will not weaken the evidence for this truth by intermixing words of my own. Let us hear the Father, when the baptism of Jesus Christ was accomplished, speaking, as often, concerning His Only-begotten, in order to save us from being misled by His visible body into a failure to recognise Him as the Son. His words are:—This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased . Is the truth presented here with dim outlines? Is the proclamation made in uncertain tones? The promise of the Virgin birth brought by the angel from the Holy Ghost, the guiding star of the Magi, the reverence paid Him in His cradle, the majesty, attested by the Baptist, of Him Who condescended to be baptized; all these are deemed an insufficient witness to His glory. The Father Himself speaks from heaven, and His words are, This is My Son. What means this evidence, not of titles, but of pronouns? Titles may be appended to names at will; pronouns are a sure indication of the persons to whom they refer. And here we have, in This and My, the clearest of indications. Mark the true meaning aid the purpose of the words. You have read, I have begotten sons, and have raised them up ; but you did not read there My sons, for He had begotten Himself those sons by division among the Gentiles, and from the people of His inheritance. And lest we should suppose that the name Son was given as an additional title to God the Only-begotten, to signify His share by adoption in some joint heritage, His true nature is expressed by the pronoun which gives the indubitable sense of ownership. I will allow you to interpret the word Son, if you will, as signifying that Christ is one of a number, if you can furnish an instance where it is said of another of that number, This is My Son. If, on the other hand, This is My Son be His peculiar designation, why accuse the Father, when He asserts His ownership, of making an unfounded claim? When He says This is My Son, may we not paraphrase His meaning thus:—"He has given to others the title of sons, but He Himself is My own Son; I have given the name to multitudes by adoption, but this Son is My very own. Seek not for another lest you lose your faith that This is He. By gesture and by voice, by This, and My, and Son, I declare Him to you." And now what reasonable excuse remains for lack of faith? This, and nothing less than this, it was that the Father's voice proclaimed. He willed that we should not be left in ignorance of the nature of Him Who came to be baptized, that He might fulfil all righteousness; that by the voice of God we might recognise as the Son of God Him Who was visible as Man, to accomplish the mystery of our salvation.
24. And again, because the life of believers was involved in the confession of this faith,—for there is no other way to eternal life than the assurance that Jesus Christ, God the Only-begotten, is the Son of God— the Apostles heard once more the voice from heaven repeating the same message, in order to strengthen this life-giving belief, in negation of which is death. When the Lord, apparelled in splendour, was standing upon the Mountain, with Moses and Elias at His side, and the three Pillars of the churches who had been chosen as witnesses to the truth of the vision and the voice, the Father spoke thus from heaven:-This is My beloved Son in Whom I am well pleased; hear Him . The glory which they saw was not sufficient attestation of His majesty; the voice proclaims, This is My Son. The Apostles cannot face the glory of God; mortal eyes grow dim in its presence. The trust of Peter and James and John fails them, and they are prostrate in fear. But this solemn declaration, spoken from the Father's knowledge, comes to their relief; He is revealed as His Father's own true Son. And over and above the witness of This and My to His true Sonship, the words are uttered, Hear Him. It is the witness of the Father from heaven, in confirmation of the witness borne by the Son on earth; for we are bidden to hear Him. Though this recognition by the Father of the Son removes all doubt, yet we are bidden also to accept the Son's self-revelation. When the Father's voice commands us to shew our obedience by hearing Him, we are ordered to repose an absolute confidence in the words of the Son. Since, therefore, the Father has manifested His will in this message to us to hear the Son, let us hear what it is that the Son has told us concerning Himself.
25. I can conceive of no man so destitute of ordinary-reason as to recognise in each of the Gospels confessions by the Son of the humiliation to which He has submitted in taking a body upon Him,—as for instance His words, often repeated, Father, glorify Me , and Ye shall see the Son of Man , and The Father is greater than I , and, more strongly, Now is My soul troubled exceedingly , and even this, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken me "? and many more, of which I shall speak in due time,— and yet, in the face of these constant expressions of His humility, to charge Him with presumption because He calls God His Father, as when He says, Every plant, which my heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up , or, Ye have made my Father's house an house of merchandise . I can conceive of no one foolish enough to regard His assertion, consistently made, that God is His Father, not as the simple truth sincerely stated from certain knowledge, but as a bold and baseless claim. We cannot denounce this constantly professed humility as an insolent demand for the rights of another, a laying of hands on what is not His own, an appropriation of powers which only God can wield. Nor, when He calls Himself the Son, as in, For God sent not His Son into this world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved , and in, Dost thou believe on the Son of God ? can we accuse Him of what would be an equal presumption with that of calling God His Father. But what else is it than such an accusation, if we allow to Jesus Christ the name of Son by adoption only? Do we not charge Him, when He calls God His Father, with daring to make a baseless claim? The Father's voice from heaven says Hear Him. I hear Him saying, Father I thank Thee , and Say ye that I blasphemed, because l said, I am the Son of God ? If I may not believe these names, and assume that they mean what they assert, how am I to trust and to understand? No hint is given of an alternative meaning. The Father bears witness from heaven, This is My Son; the Son on His part speaks of My Father's house, and My Father. The confession of that name gives salvation, when faith is demanded in the question, Dost thou believe an the Son of God? The pronoun My indicates that the noun which follows belongs to the speaker. What right, I demand, have you heretics to suppose it otherwise? You contradict the Father's word the Son's assertion; you empty language of its meaning, and distort the words of God into a sense they cannot bear. On you alone rests the guilt of this shameless blasphemy, that God has lied concerning Himself.
26. And thus, although nothing but a sincere belief that these names are truly significant,—that, when we read, This is My Son and My Father, the words really indicate Persons of Whom, and to Whom, they were spoken— can make them intelligible, yet, lest it be supposed that Son and Father are titles the one merely of adoption, the other merely of dignity, let us see what are the attributes attached, by the Son Himself, to His name of Son. He says, All things are delivered Me of My Father, and no one knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any the Father save the Son, and he to Whom the Son will reveal Him . Are the words of which we are speaking, This is My Son and My Father, consistent, or are they not, with No one knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any the Father save the Son? For it is only by witness mutually borne that the Son can be known through the Father, and the Father through the Son. We hear the voice from heaven; we hear also the words of the Son. We have as little excuse for not knowing the Son, as we have for not knowing the Father. All things are delivered unto Him; from this All there is no exception. If They possess an equal might; if They share an equal mutual knowledge, hidden from us; if these names of Father and Son express the relation between Them, then, I demand, are They not in truth what They are in name, wielders of the same omnipotence, shrouded in the same impenetrable mystery? God does not speak in order to deceive. The Fatherhood of the Father, the Sonship of the Son, are literal truths. And now learn how facts bear out the verities which these names reveal.
27. The Son speaks thus:—For the works which the Father hath given Me to finish, the same works which I do, bear witness of Me that the Father hath sent Me; and the Father Himself which hath sent Me hath borne witness of Me . God the Only-begotten proves His Sonship by an appeal not only to the name, but to the power; the works which He does are evidence that He has been sent by the Father. What, I ask, is the fact which these works prove? That He was sent. That He was sent, is used as a proof of His sonlike obedience and of His Father's authority: for the works which He does could not possibly be done by any other than Him Who is sent by the Father. Yet the evidence of His works fails to convince the unbelieving that the Father sent Him. For He proceeds, And the Father Himself which hath sent Me hath borne witness of Me; and ye have neither heard His voice nor seen His shape . What was this witness of the Father concerning Him? Turn over the pages of the Gospels and review their contents. Read us other of the attestations given by the Father beside those which we have heard already; This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased, and Than art My Son. John, who heard these words, needed them not, for He knew the truth already. It was for our instruction that the Father spoke. But this is not all. John in the wilderness was honoured with this revelation; the Apostles were not to be denied the same assurance. It came to them in the very same words, but with an addition which John did not receive. He had been a prophet from the womb, and needed not the commandment, Hear Him. Yes; I will hear Him, and will hear none but Him and His Apostle, who heard for my instruction. Even though the books contained no further witness, borne by the Father to the Son, than that He is the Son, I have, for confirmation of the truth, the evidence of His Father's works which He does. What is this modern slander that His name is a gift by adoption, His Godhead a lie, His titles a pretence? We have the Father's witness to His Sonship; by works, equal to the Father's, the Son bears witness to His own equality with the Father. Why such blindness to His obvious possession of the true Sonship which He both claims and displays. It is not through condescending kindness on the part of God the Father that Christ bears the name of Son; not by holiness that He has earned the title, as many have won it by enduring hardness in confession of the faith. Such sonship is not of right; it is by a favour, worthy of Himself, that God bestows the title. But that which is indicated by This, and My, and Hear Him, is different in kind from the other. It is the true and real and genuine Sonship.
28. And indeed the Son never makes for Himself a lower claim than is contained in this designation, given Him by His Father. The Father's words, This is My Son, reveal His nature; those which follow, Hear Him, are a summons to us to listen to the mystery and the faith which He came down from heaven to bring; to learn that, if we would be saved, our confession must be a copy of His teaching. And in like manner the Son Himself teaches us, in words of His own, that He was truly born and truly came;—Ye neither know Me, nor know ye whence I am, for I am not came of Myself, but He that sent Me is true, Whom ye know not, but I know Him, for I am from Him, and He hath sent Me (9a). No man knows the Father; the Son often assures us of this. The reason why He says that none knows Him but Himself, is that He is from the Father. Is it, I ask, as the result of an act of creation, or of a genuine birth, that He is from Him? If it be an act of creation, then all created things are from God. How then is it that none of them know the Father, when the Son says that the reason why He has this knowledge is that He is from Him? If He be created, not born, we shall observe in Him a resemblance to other beings who are from God. Since all, on this supposition, are from God, why is He not as ignorant of the Father as are the others? But if this knowledge of the Father be peculiar to Him, Who is from the Father, must not this circumstance also, that He is from the Father, be peculiar to Him? That is, must He not be the true Son born from the nature of God? For the reason why He alone knows God is that He alone is from God. You observe, then, a knowledge, which is peculiar to Himself, resulting from a birth which also is peculiar to Himself. You recognise that it is not by an act of creative power, but through a true birth, that He is from the Father; and that this is why He alone knows the Father, Who is unknown to all other beings which are from Him.
29. But He immediately adds, For I am from Him, and He hath sent Me, to debar heresy from the violent assumption that His being from God dates from the time of His Advent. The Gospel revelation of the mystery proceeds in a logical sequence; first He is born, then He is sent. Similarly, in the previous declaration, we were told of ignorance , first as to Who He is, and then as to whence He is. For the words, I am from Him, and He hath sent Me, contain two separate statements, as also do the words, Ye neither know Me, nor know ye whence I am. Every man is born in the flesh; yet does not universal consciousness make every man spring from God? How then can Christ assert that either He, or the source of His being, is unknown? He can only do so by assigning His immediate parentage to the ultimate Author of existence; and, when He has done this, He can demonstrate their ignorance of God by their ignorance of the fact that He is the Son of God. Let the victims of this wretched delusion reflect upon the words, Ye neither know Me, nor know ye whence I am. All things, they argue, are from nothing; they allow of no exception. They even dare to misrepresent God the Only-begotten as sprung from nothing. How can we explain this ignorance of Christ, and of the origin of Christ, on the part of the blasphemers? The very fact that, as the Scripture says, they know not whence He is, is an indication of that unknowable origin from which He springs. If we can say of a thing that it came into existence out of nothing, then we are not ignorant of its origin; we know that it was made out of nothing, and this is a piece of definite knowledge. Now He Who came is not the Author of His own being; but He Who sent Him is true, Whom the blasphemers know not. He it was Who sent Him; and they know not that He was the Sender. Thus the Sent is from the Sender; from Him Whom they know not as His Author. The reason why they know not Who Christ is, is that they know not from Whom He is. None can confess the Son who denies that He was born; none can understand that He was born who has formed the opinion that He is from nothing. And indeed He is so far from being made out of nothing, that the heretics cannot tell whence He is.
30. They are blankly ignorant who separate the Divine name from the Divine nature; ignorant, and content to be ignorant. But let them listen to the reproof which the Son inflicts upon unbelievers for their want of this knowledge, when the Jews said that God was their Father:—If God were your Father, ye would surely love Me; for I went forth from God, and am come; neither am I come of Myself, but He sent Me. The Son of God has here no word of blame for the devout confidence of those who combine the confession that He is true God, the Son of God, with their own claim to be God's sons. What He is blaming is the insolence of the Jews in daring to claim God as their Father, when meanwhile they did not love Him, the Son:—If God were your Father, ye would surely love Me; for I went forth from God. All, who have God for their Father through faith, have Him for Father through that same faith whereby we confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. But to confess that He is the Son in a sense which covers the whole company of saints; to say, in effect, that He is one of the sons of God;—what faith is there in that? Are not all the rest, feeble created beings though they be, in that sense sons? In what does the eminence of a faith, which has confessed that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, consist, if He, as one of a multitude of sons, have the name only, and not the nature, of the Son? This unbelief has no love for Christ; it is a mockery of the faith for these perverters of the truth to claim God as their Father. If He were their Father, they would love Christ because He had gone forth from God. And now I must enquire the meaning of this going forth from God. His going forth is obviously different from His coming, for the two are mentioned side by side in this passage, I went forth from God and am come. In order to elucidate the separate meanings of I went forth from God and I am come, He immediately subjoins, Neither am I come of Myself, but He sent Me. He tells us that He is not the source of His own existence in the words, Neither am I come of Myself. In them He tells us that He has proceeded forth a second time from God, and has been sent by Him. But when He tells us that they who call God their Father must love Himself because He has gone forth from God, He makes His birth the reason for their love. Went forth carries back our thoughts to the incorporeal birth, for it is by love of Christ, Who was born from Him, that we must gain the right of devoutly claiming God for our Father. For when the Son says, He that hateth Me hateth My Father also, this My is the assertion of a relation to the Father which is shared by none. On the other hand, He condemns the man who claims God as his Father, and loves not the Son, as using a wrongful liberty with the Father's name; since he who hates Him, the Son, must hate the Father also, and none can be devoted to the Father save those who love the Son. For the one and only reason which He gives for loving the Son is His origin from the Father. The Son, therefore, is from the Father, not by His Advent, but by His birth; and love for the Father is only possible to those who believe that the Son is from Him.
31. To this the Lord's words bear witness;—I will not say unto you that I will pray the Father for you, for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved Me, and believe that I went forth from God, and am come from the Father into this world. A complete faith concerning the Son, which accepts and loves the truth that He went forth from God, has access to the Father without need of His intervention. The confession that the Son was born and sent from God wins for it direct audience and love from Him. Thus the narrative of His birth and coming must be taken in the strictest and most literal sense. I went forth from God, He says, conveying that His nature is exactly that which was given Him by His birth; for what being but God could go forth from God, that is, could enter upon existence by birth from Him? Then He continues, And am come from the Father into this world. To assure us that this going forth from God means birth from the Father, He tells us that He came from the Father into this world. The latter statement refers to His incarnation, the former to His nature. And again, His putting on record first the fact of His going forth from God, and then His coming from the Father, forbids us to identify the going with the coming. Coming from the Father, and going forth from God, are not synonymous; they might be paraphrased as 'Birth' and 'Presence,' and are as different in meaning as these. It is one thing to have gone forth from God, and entered by birth upon a substantial existence; another to have come from the Father into this world to accomplish the mysteries of our salvation.
32. In the order of our defence, as I have arranged it in my mind, this has seemed the most convenient place for proving that, thirdly, the Apostles believed our Lord Jesus Christ to be the Son of God, not merely in name but in nature, not by adoption but by birth. It is true that there remain unmentioned many and most weighty words of God the Only-begotten concerning Himself, in which the truth of His Divine birth is set so clearly forth as to silence any whisper of objection. Yet since it would be unwise to burden the reader's mind with an accumulation of evidence, and ample proof has been already given of the genuineness of His birth, I will hold back the remainder of His utterances till later stages of our enquiry. For we have so arranged I the course of our argument that now, after hearing the Father's witness and the Son's self-revelation, we are to be instructed by the Apostles' faith in the true and, as we must confess, the truly born Son of God. We must see whether they could find in the words of the Lord, I went forth from God, any other meaning than this, that there was in Him a birth of the Divine nature.
33. After many dark sayings, spoken in parables by Him Whom they already knew as the Christ foretold by Moses and the Prophets, Whom Nathanael had confessed as the Son of God and King of Israel, Who had Himself reproached Philip, in his question about the Father, for not perceiving, by the works which He did, that the Father was in Him and He in the Father; after He had already often taught them that He was sent from the Father; still, it was not till they had heard Him assert that He had gone forth from God that they confessed, in the words which immediately follow in the Gospel;—His disciples say unto Him, Now speakest Thou plainly, and speakest no proverb. Now therefore we are sure that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee; by this we believe that Thou wentest forth from God. What was there so marvellous in this form of words, Went forth from God, which He had used? Had ye seen, O holy and blessed men, who for the reward of your faith have received the keys of the kingdom of heaven and power to bind and to loose in heaven and earth, works so great, so truly Divine, wrought by our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God; and do ye yet profess that it was not until He had first told you that He had gone forth from God that ye attained the knowledge of the truth? And yet ye had seen water at the marriage turned into the marriage wine; one nature becoming another nature, whether it were by change, or by development, or by creation. And your hands had broken up the five loaves into a meal for that great multitude, and when all were satisfied ye had found that twelve baskets were needed to contain the fragments of the loaves; a small quantity of matter, in the process of relieving hunger, had multiplied into a great quantity of matter of the same nature. And ye had seen withered hands recover their suppleness, the tongues of dumb men loosened into speech, the feet of the lame made swift to run, the eyes of the blind endowed with vision, and life restored to the dead. Lazarus, who stank already, had risen to his feet at a word. He was summoned from the tomb and instantly came forth, without a pause between the word and its fulfilment. He was standing before you, a living man, while yet the air was carrying the odour of death to your nostrils. I speak not of other exertions of His mighty, His Divine powers. And is it, in spite of all this, only after ye heard Him say, I went forth from God, that ye understood Who He is that had been sent from heaven? Is this the first time that the truth had been told you without a proverb? The first time that the powers of His nature made it manifest to you that He went forth from God? And this in spite of His silent scrutiny of the purposes of your will, of His needing not to ask you concerning anything as though He were ignorant, of His universal knowledge? For all these things, done in the power and in the nature of God, are evidence that He must have gone forth from God.
34. By this the holy Apostles did not understand that He had gone forth, in the sense of having been sent, from God. For they had often heard Him confess, in His earlier discourses, that He was sent; but what they hear now is the express statement that He had gone forth from God. This opens their eyes to perceive from His works His Divine nature. The fact that He had gone forth from God makes clear to them His true Divinity, and so they say, Now therefore we are sure that Thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask Thee; by this we believe that Thou wentest forth from God. The reason why they believe that He went forth from God is that He both can, and does, perform the works of God. Their perfect assurance of His Divine nature is the result of their knowledge, not that He is come from God, but that He did go forth from God. Accordingly we find that it is this truth, now heard for the first time, which clenches their faith. The Lord had made two statements; I went forth from God, and I am come from the Father into this world. One of these, I am come from the Father into this world, they had often heard, and it awakens no surprise. But their reply makes it manifest that they now believe and understand the other, that is, I went forth from God. Their answer, By this we believe that Thou wentest forth from God, is a response to it, and to it only; they do not add, 'And art come from the Father into this world.' The one statement is welcomed with a declaration of faith; the other is passed over in silence. The confession was wrung from them by the sudden presentation of a new truth, which convinced their reason and constrained them to avow their certainty. They knew already that He, like God, could do all things; but His birth, which accounted for that omnipotence, had not been revealed. They knew that He had been sent from God, but they knew not that He had gone forth from God. Now at last, taught by this utterance to understand the ineffable and perfect birth of the Son, they confess that He had spoken to them without a proverb.
35. For God is not born from God by the ordinary process of a human childbirth; this is no case of one being issuing from another by the exertion of natural forces. That birth is pure and perfect and stainless; indeed, we must call it rather a proceeding forth than a birth. For it is One from One; no partition, or withdrawing, or lessening, or efflux, or extension, or suffering of change, but the birth of living nature from living nature. It is God going forth from God, not a creature picked out to bear the name of God. His existence did not take its beginning out of nothing, but went forth from the Eternal; and this going forth is rightly entitled a birth, though it would be false to call it a beginning. For the proceeding forth of God from God is a thing entirely different from the coming into existence of a new substance. And though our apprehension of this truth, which is ineffable, cannot be defined in words, yet the teaching of the Son, as He reveals to us that He went forth from God, imparts to it the certainty of an assured faith.
36. A belief that the Son of God is Son in name only and not in nature, is not the faith of the Gospels and of the Apostles. If this be a mere title, to which adoption is His only claim; if He be not the Son in virtue of having proceeded forth from God, whence, I ask, was it that the blessed Simon Bar-Jona confessed to Him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God? Because He shared with all mankind the power of being born as one of the sons of God through the sacrament of regeneration? If Christ be the Son of God only in this titular way, what was the revelation made to Peter, not by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven? What praise could he deserve for making a declaration which was universally applicable? What credit was due to Him for stating a fact of general knowledge? If He be Son by adoption, wherein lay the blessedness of Peter's confession, which offered a tribute to the Son to which, in that case, He had no more title than any member of the company of saints? The Apostle's faith penetrates into a region closed to human reasoning. He had, no doubt, often heard, He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and He that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. Hence he knew well that Christ had been sent; he had heard Him, Whom he knew to have been sent, making the declaration, All things are delivered unto Me of the Father, and no one knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any one tire Father save the Son. What then is this truth, which the Father now reveals to Peter, which receives the praise of a blessed confession? It cannot have been that the names of 'Father' and 'Son' were novel to him; he had heard them often. Yet he speaks words which the tongue of man had never framed before:—Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. For though Christ, while dwelling in the body, had avowed Himself to be the Son of God, yet now for the first time the Apostle's faith had recognised in Him the presence of the Divine nature. Peter is praised not merely for his tribute of adoration, but for his recognition of the mysterious truth; for confessing not Christ only, but Christ the Son of God. It would clearly have sufficed for a payment of reverence, had he said, Thou art the Christ, and nothing more. But it would have been a hollow confession, had Peter only hailed Him as Christ, without confessing Him the Son of God. And so his words Thou art declare that what is asserted of Him is strictly and exactly true to His nature. Next, the Father's utterance, This is My Son, had revealed to Peter that he must confess Thou art the Son of God, for in the words This is, God the Revealer points Him out, and the response, Thou art, is the believer's welcome to the truth. And this is the rock of confession whereon the Church is built. But the perceptive faculties of flesh and blood cannot attain to the recognition and confession of this truth. It is a mystery, Divinely revealed, that Christ must be not only named, but believed, the Son of God. Was it only the Divine name; was it not rather the Divine nature that was revealed to Peter? If it were the name, he had heard it often from the Lord, proclaiming Himself the Son of God. What honour, then, did he deserve for announcing the name? No; it was not the name; it was the nature, for the name had been repeatedly proclaimed.
37. This faith it is which is the foundation of the Church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. This is the faith which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever this faith shall have loosed or bound on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven. This faith is the Father's gift by revelation; even the knowledge that we must not imagine a false Christ, a creature made out of nothing, but must confess Him the Son of God, truly possessed of the Divine nature. What blasphemous madness and pitiful folly is it, that will not heed the venerable age and faith of that blessed martyr, Peter himself, for whom the Father was prayed that his faith might not fail in temptation; who twice repeated the declaration of love for God that was demanded of him, and was grieved that he was tested by a third renewal of the question, as though it were a doubtful and wavering devotion, and then, because this third trial had cleansed him of his infirmities, had the reward of hearing the Lord's commission, Feed My sheep, a third time repeated; who, when all the Apostles were silent, alone recognised by the Father's revelation the Son of God, and won the pre-eminence of a glory beyond the reach of human frailty by his confession of his blissful faith! What are the conclusions forced upon us by the study of his words? He confessed that Christ is the Son of God; you, lying bishop of the new apostolate, thrust upon us your modern notion that Christ is a creature, made out of nothing. What violence is this, that so distorts the glorious words? The very reason why he is blessed is that he confessed the Son of God. This is the Father's revelation, this the foundation of the Church, this the assurance of her permanence. Hence has she the keys of the kingdom of heaven, hence judgment in heaven and judgment on earth. Through revelation Peter learnt the mystery hidden from the beginning of the world, proclaimed the faith, published the Divine nature, confessed the Son of God. He who would deny all this truth and confess Christ a creature, must first deny the apostleship of Peter, his faith, his blessedness, his episcopate, his martyrdom. And when he has done all this, he must learn that he has severed himself from Christ; for it was by confessing Him that Peter won these glories.
38. Do you think, wretched heretic of today, that Peter would have been the more blessed now, if he had said, 'Thou art Christ, God's perfect creature, His handiwork, though excelling all His other works. Thy beginning was from nothing, and through the goodness of God, Who alone is good, the name of Son has been given Thee by adoption, although in fact Thou wast not born from God?' What answer, think you, would have been given to such words as these, when this same Peter's reply to the announcement of the Passion, Be it far from Thee, Lord; this shall not be, was rebuked with, Get thee behind Me, Satan, thou art an offence unto Me? Yet Peter could plead his human ignorance in extenuation of his guilt, for as yet the Father had not revealed all the mystery of the Passion; still, mere defect of faith was visited with this stern condemnation. Now, why was it that the Father did not reveal to Peter your true confession, this faith in an adopted creature? I fancy that God must have grudged him the knowledge of the truth; that He wanted to postpone it to a later age, and keep it as a novelty for your modern preachers. Yes; you may have a change of faith, if the keys of heaven are changed. You may have a change of faith, if there is a change in that Church against which the gates of hell shall not prevail. You may have a change of faith, if there shall be a fresh apostolate, binding and loosing in heaven what it has bound and loosed on earth. You may have a change of faith, if another Christ the Son of God, beside the true Christ, shall be preached. But if that faith which confesses Christ as the Son of God, and that faith only, received in Peter's person every accumulated blessing, then perforce the faith which proclaims Him a creature, made out of nothing, holds not the keys of the Church and is a stranger to the apostolic faith and power. It is neither the Church's faith, nor is it Christ's.
39. Let us therefore cite every example of a statement of the faith made by an Apostle. All of them, when they confess the Son of God, confess Him not as a nominal and adoptive Son, but as Son by possession of the Divine nature. They never degrade Him to the level of a creature, but assign Him the splendour of a true birth from God. Let John speak to us, while he is waiting, just as he is, for the coming of the Lord; John, who was left behind and appointed to a destiny hidden in the counsel of God, for he is not told that he shall not die, but only that he shall tarry. Let him speak to us in his own familiar voice:—No one hath seen God at any time, except the Only-begotten Son, Which is in the bosom of the Father. It seemed to him that the name of Son did not set forth with sufficient distinctness His true Divinity, unless he gave an external support to the peculiar majesty of Christ by indicating the difference between Him and all others. Hence he not only calls Him the Son, but adds the further designation of the Only-begotten, and so cuts away the last prop from under this imaginary adoption. For the fact that He is Only-begotten is proof positive of His right to the name of Son.
40. I defer the consideration of the words, which is in the bosom of the Father, to a more appropriate place. My present enquiry is into the sense of Only-begotten, and the claim upon us which that sense may make. And first let us see whether the word mean, as you assert, a perfect creature of God; Only-begotten being equivalent to perfect, and Son a synonym for creature. But John described the Only-begotten Son as God, not as a perfect creature. His words, Which is in the bosom of the Father, shew that he anticipated these blasphemous designations; and, indeed, he had heard his Lord say, For God so loved the world that He gave His Only- begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. God, Who loved the world, gave His Only-begotten Son as a manifest token of His love. If the evidence of His love be this, that He bestowed a creature upon creatures, gave a worldly being on the world's behalf, granted one raised up from nothing for the redemption of objects equally raised up from nothing, this cheap and petty sacrifice is a poor assurance of His favour towards us. Gifts of price are the evidence of affection the greatness of the surrender of the greatness of the love. God, Who loved the world, gave not an adopted Son, but His own, His Only- begotten. Here is personal interest, true Sonship, sincerity; not creation, or adoption, or pretence. Herein is the proof of His love and affection, that He gave His own, His Only-begotten Son.
41. I appeal not now to any of the titles which are given to the Son; there is no loss in delay when it is the result of an embarrassing abundance of choice. My present argument is that a successful result implies a sufficient cause; some clear and cogent motive must underlie every effectual performance. And so the Evangelist has been obliged to reveal his motive in writing. Let us see what is the purpose which he confesses;—But these things are written that ye may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. The one reason which he alleges for writing his Gospel is that all may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God. If it be sufficient for salvation to believe that He is the Christ, why does he add The Son of God? But if the true faith be nothing less than the belief that Christ is not merely Christ, but Christ the Son of God, then assuredly the name of Son is not attached to Christ as a customary appendage due to adoption, seeing that it is essential to salvation. If then salvation consists in the confession of the name, must not the name express the truth? If the name express the truth, by what authority can He be called a creature? It is not the confession of a creature, but the confession of the Son, which shall give us salvation.
42. To believe, therefore, that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is true salvation, is the acceptable service of an unfeigned faith. For we have no love within us towards God the Father except through faith in the Son. Let us hear Him speaking to us in the words of the Epistle;—Every one that loveth the Father loveth Him that is born from Him. What, I ask, is the meaning of being born from Him? Can it mean, perchance, being created by Him? Does the Evangelist lie in saying that He was born from God, while the heretic more correctly teaches that He was created? Let us all listen to the true character of this teacher of heresy. It is written, He is antichrist, that denieth the Father and the Son. What will you do now, champion of the creature, conjurer up of a novel Christ out of nothing? Hear the title which awaits you, if you persist in your assertion. Or do you think that perhaps you may still describe the Father and the Son as Creator and Creature, and yet by an ingenious ambiguity of language escape being recognised as antichrist? If your confession embraces a Father in the true sense, and a Son in the true sense, then I am a slanderer, assailing you with a title of infamy which you have not deserved. But if in your confession all Christ's attributes are spurious and nominal, and not His own, then learn from the Apostle the right description of such a faith as yours; and hear what is the true faith which believes in the Son. The words which follow are these;—He that denieth the Son, the same hath not the Father: he that confesseth the Son hath both the Son and the Father. He that denies the Son is destitute of the Father; he that confesses and has the Son has the Father also. What room is there here for adoptive names? Does not every word tell of the Divine nature? Learn how completely that nature is present.
43. John speaks thus;—For we know that the Son of God is came, and was incarnate for us, and suffered, and rose again from tire dead and took us for Himself, and gave us a good understanding that we may know Him that is true, and may be in His true Son Jesus Christ. He is true and is life eternal and our resurrection. Wisdom doomed to an evil end, void of the Spirit of God, destined to possess the spirit and the name of Antichrist, blind to the truth that the Son of God came to fulfil the mystery of our salvation, and unworthy in that blindness to perceive the light of that sovereign knowledge! For this wisdom asserts that Jesus Christ is no true Son of God, but a creature of His, Who bears the Divine name by adoption. In what dark oracle of hidden knowledge was the secret learnt? To whose research do we owe this, the great discovery of the day? Were you he that lay upon the bosom of the Lord? You he to whom in the familiar intercourse of love He revealed the mystery? Was it you that alone followed Him to the foot of the Cross? And while He was charging you to receive Mary as your Mother, did He teach you this secret, as the token of His peculiar love for yourself? Or did you run to the Sepulchre, and reach it sooner even than Peter, and so gain this knowledge there? Or was it amid the throngs of angels, and sealed books whose clasps none can open, and manifold influences of the signs of heaven, and unknown songs of the eternal choirs, that the Lamb, your Guide, revealed to you this godly doctrine, that the Father is no Father, the Son no Son, nor nature, nor truth? For you transform all these into lies. The Apostle, by that most excellent knowledge that was granted him, speaks of the Son of God as true. You assert His creation, proclaim His adoption, deny His birth. While the true Son of God is eternal life and resurrection to us, for him, in whose eyes He is not true, there is neither eternal life nor resurrection. And this is the lesson taught by John, the disciple beloved of the Lord.
44. And the persecutor, who was converted to be an Apostle and a chosen vessel, delivers the very same message. What discourse is there of his which does not presuppose the confession of the Son? What Epistle of his that does not begin with a confession of that mysterious truth? When he says, We were reconciled to God by the death of His Son, and, God sent His Son to be the likeness of the flesh of sin, and again, God is faithful, by Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son, is any loophole left for heretical misrepresentation? His Son, Son of God; so we read, but nothing is said of His adoption, or of God's creature. The name expresses the nature; He is God's Son, and therefore the Sonship is true. The Apostle's confession asserts the genuineness of the relation. I see not how the Divine nature of the Son could have been more completely stated. That Chosen Vessel has proclaimed in no weak or wavering voice that Christ is the Son of Him Who, as we believe, is the Father. The Teacher of the Gentiles, the Apostle of Christ, has left us no uncertainty, no opening for error in his presentation of the doctrine. He is quite clear upon the Subject of children by adoption; of those who by faith attain so to be and so to be named. in his own words, For as many as are led by tire Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again unto fear, but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. This is the name granted to us, who believe, through the sacrament of regeneration; our confession of the faith wins us this adoption. For our work done in obedience to the Spirit of God gives us the title of sons of God. Abba, Father, is the cry which we raise, not the expression of our essential nature. For that essential nature of ours is untouched by that tribute of the voice. It is one thing for God to be addressed as Father; another thing for Him to be the Father of His Son.
45. But now let us learn what is this faith concerning the Son of God, which the Apostle holds. For though there is no single discourse, among the many which he delivered concerning the Church's doctrine, in which he mentions the Father without also making confession of the Son, yet, in order to display the truth of the relation which that name conveys with the utmost definiteness of which human language is capable, he speaks thus:— What then? If God be for us, who can be against us? Who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us. Can Son, by any remaining possibility, be a title received through adoption, when He is expressly called God's own Son? For the Apostle, wishing to make manifest the love of God towards us, uses a kind of comparison, to enable us to estimate how great that love is, when He says that it was His own Son Whom God did not spare. He suggests the thought that this was no sacrifice of an adopted Son, on behalf of those whom He purposed to adopt, of a creature for creatures, but of His Son for strangers, His own Son for those to whom He had willed to give a share in the name of sons. Seek out the full import of the term, that you may understand the extent of the love. Consider the meaning of own; mark the genuineness of the Sonship which it implies. For the Apostle now describes Him as God's own Soil; previously he had often spoken of Him as God's Son, or Son of God. And though many manuscripts, through a want of apprehension on the part of the translators, read in this passage His Son, instead of His own, Son, yet the original Greek, the tongue in which the Apostle wrote, is more exactly rendered by His own than by His. And though the casual reader may discern no great difference between His own and His, yet the Apostle, who in all his other statements had spoken of His Son, which is, in the Greek, to`n heautou^ huio'n, in this passage uses the words ho's ge tou^ idi'ou huio'n ouk ephei'sato, that is, Who spared not His own Son, expressly and emphatically indicating His true Divine nature. Previously he had declared that through the Spirit of adoption there are many sons; now his object is to point to God's own Son, God the Only-begotten.
46. This is no universal and inevitable error; they who deny the Son cannot lay the fault upon their ignorance, for ignorance of the truth which they deny is impossible. They describe the Son of God as a creature who came into being out of nothing. If the Father has never asserted this, nor the Son confirmed it, nor the Apostles proclaimed it, then the dating which prompts their allegation is bred not of ignorance, but of hatred for Christ. When the Father says of His Son, This is, and the Son of Himself, It is He that talketh with Thee, and when Peter confesses Thou art, and John assures us, This is the true God, and Paul is never weary of proclaiming Him as God's own Son, I can conceive of no other motive for this denial than hatred. The plea of want of familiarity with the subject cannot be urged in extenuation of their guilt. It is the suggestion of that Evil One, uttered now through these prophets and forerunners of his coming; he will utter it himself hereafter when he comes as Antichrist. He is using this novel engine of assault to shake us m our saving confession of the faith. His first object is to pluck from our hearts the confident assurance of the Divine nature of the Son; next, he would fill our minds with the notion of Christ's adoption, and leave no room for the memory of His other claims. For they who hold that Christ is but a creature, must regard Christ as Antichrist, since a creature cannot be God's own Son, and therefore He must lie in calling Himself the Son of God. Hence also they who deny that Christ is the Son of God must have Antichrist for their Christ.
47. What is the hope of which this futile passion of yours is in pursuit? What is the assurance of your salvation which emboldens you with blasphemous licence of tongue to maintain that Christ is a creature, and not a Son? It was your duty to know this mystery, from the Gospels, and to hold the knowledge fast. For though the Lord can do all things, yet He resolved that every one who prays for His effectual help must earn it by a true confession of Himself. Not, indeed, that the suppliant's confession could augment the power of Him, Who is the Power of God; but the earning was to be the reward of faith. So, when He asked Martha, who was entreating Him for Lazarus, whether she believed that they who had believed in Him should not die eternally, her answer expressed the trust of her soul;—Yea, Lord, I believe that Than art the Christ, the Son of God, Who art come into this world. This confession is eternal life; this faith has immortality. Martha, praying for her brother's life, was asked whether she believed this. She did so believe. What life does the denier expect, from whom does he hope to receive it, when this belief, and this only, is eternal life? For great is the mystery of this faith, and perfect the blessedness which is the fruit of this confession.
48. The Lord had given sight to a man blind from his birth; the, Lord of nature had removed a defect of nature. Because this blind man had been born for the glory of God, that God's work might be made manifest in the work of Christ, the Lord did not delay till the man had given evidence of his faith by a confession of it. But though he knew not at the time Who it was that had bestowed the great gift of eyesight, yet afterwards he earned a knowledge of the faith. For it was not the dispelling of his blindness that won him eternal life. And so, when the man was already healed and had suffered ejection from the synagogue, the Lord put to him the question, Dost thou believe on the Son of God? This was to save him from the thought of loss, in exclusion from the synagogue, by the certainty that confession of the true faith had restored him to immortality. When the man, his soul still unenlightened, made answer, Who is He, Lord, that I may believe on Him? The Lord's reply was, Thou hast bath seen Him, and it is He that talketh with thee. For He was minded to remove the ignorance of the man whose sight he had restored, and whom He was now enriching with the knowledge of so glorious a faith. Does the Lord demand from this man, as from others, who prayed Him to heal them, a confession of faith as the price of their recovery? Emphatically not. For the blind man could already see when he was thus addressed. The Lord asked the question in order to receive the answer, Lord, I believe. The faith which spoke in that answer was to receive not sight, but life. And now let us examine carefully the force of the words. The Lord asks of the man, Dost thou believe an the Son of God? Surely, if a simple confession of Christ, leaving His nature in obscurity, were a complete expression of the faith, the terms of the question would have been, 'Dost thou believe in Christ?' But in days to come almost every heretic was to make a parade of that name, confessing Christ and yet denying that He is the Son; and therefore He demands, as the condition of faith, that we should believe in what is peculiar to Himself, that is, in His Divine Sonship. What is the profit of faith in the Son of God, if it be faith in a creature, when He requires of us faith in Christ, not the creature, but the Son, of God.
49. Did devils fail to understand the full meaning of this name of Son? For we are valuing the heretics at their true worth if we refute them no longer by the teaching of Apostles, but out of the mouth of devils. They cry, and cry often, What have I to do with Thee, Jesus, Thou Son of God most High? Truth wrung this confession from them against their will; their reluctant obedience is a witness to the force of the Divine nature within Him. When they fly from the bodies they have long possessed, it is His might that conquers them; their confession of His nature is an act of reverence. These transactions display Christ as the Son of God both in power and in name. Can you hear, amid all these cries of devils confessing Him, Christ once styled a creature, or God's condescension in adopting Him once named?
50. If you will not learn Who Christ is from those that know Him, learn it at least from those that know Him not. So shall the confession, which their ignorance is forced to make, rebuke your blasphemy. The Jews did not recognise Christ, come in the body, though they knew that the true Christ must be the Son of God. And so, when they were employing false witnesses, without one word of truth in their testimony, against Him, their priest asked Him, Art Thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? They knew not that in Him the mystery was fulfilled; they knew that the Divine nature was the condition of its fulfilment. They did not ask whether Christ be the Son of God; they asked whether He were Christ, the Son of God. They were wrong as to the Person, not as to the Sonship, of Christ. They did not doubt that Christ is the Son of God; and thus, while they asked whether He were the Christ, they asked without denying that the Christ is the Son of God. What, then, of your faith, which leads you to deny what even they, in their blindness, confessed? The perfect knowledge is this, to be assured that Christ, the Son of God, Who existed before the worlds, was also born of the Virgin. Even they, who know nothing of His birth from Mary, know that He is the Son of God. Mark the fellowship with Jewish wickedness in which your denial of the Divine Sonship has involved you! For they have put on record the reason of their condemnation:—And by our Law He aught to die, because He made Himself the Son of God. Is not this the same charge which you are blasphemously bringing against Him, that, while you pronounce Him a creature, He calls Himself the Son? He confesses Himself the Son, and they declare Him guilty of death: you too deny that He is the Son of God. What sentence do you pass upon Him? You have the same repugnance to His claim as had the Jews. You agree with their verdict; I want to know whether you will quarrel about the sentence. Your offence, in denying that He is the Son of God, is exactly the same as theirs, though their guilt is less, for they sinned in ignorance. They knew not that Christ was born of Mary, yet they never doubted that Christ must be the Son of God. You are perfectly aware of the fact that Christ was born of Mary, yet you refuse Him the name of Son of God. If they come to the faith, there awaits them an unimperilled salvation, because of their past ignorance. Every gate of safety is shut to you, because you persist in denying a truth which is obvious to you. For you are not ignorant that He is the Son of God; you know it so well that you allow Him the name as a title of adoption, and feign that He is a creature adorned, like others, with the right to call Himself a Son. You rob Him, as far as you can, of the Divine nature; if you could, you would rob Him of the Divine name as well. But, because you cannot, you divorce the name from the nature; He is called a Son, but He shall not be the true Son of God.
51. The confession of the Apostles, for whom by a word of command the raging wind and troubled sea were restored to calm, was an opportunity for you. You might have confessed, as they did, that He is God's true Son; you might have borrowed their very words, Of a truth, this is the Son of God. But an evil spirit of madness is driving you on to shipwreck of your life; your reason is distracted and overwhelmed, like the ocean tormented by the fury of the storm.
52. If this witness of the voyagers seem inconclusive to you because they were Apostles,—though to me it comes with the greater weight for the same reason, though it surprises me the less,—accept at any rate a corroboration given by the Gentiles. Hear how the soldier of the Roman cohort, one of the stern guard around the Cross, was humbled to the faith. The centurion sees the mighty workings of Christ's power; and this is the witness borne by him:—Truly this was the Son of God. The truth was forced upon him, after Christ had given up the ghost, by the torn veil of the Temple, and the earth that shook, and the rocks that were rent, and the sepulchres that were opened, and the dead that rose. And it was the confession of an unbeliever. The deeds that were done convinced him that Christ's nature was omnipotent; he names Him the Son of God, being assured of His true Divinity. So cogent was the proof, so strong the man's conviction, that the force of truth conquered his will, and even he who had nailed Christ to the Cross was driven to confess that He is the Lord of eternal glory, truly the Son of God.
1. This is the seventh book of our treatise against the wild extravagance of modern heresy. In order of place it must follow its predecessors; in order of importance, as an exposition of the mysteries of the right faith, it precedes. and excels them all. I am well aware how hard and steep is the path of evangelical instruction up which we are mounting. The fears inspired by consciousness of my own incapacity are plucking me back, but the warmth of faith urges me on; the assaults of heresy heat my blood, and the dangers of the ignorant excite my compassion. I fear to speak, and yet I cannot be silent. A double dread subdues my spirit; it may be that speech, it may be that silence, will render me guilty of a desertion of the truth. For this cunning heresy has hedged itself round with marvellous devices of perverted ingenuity. First there is the semblance of devotion; then the language carefully chosen to lull the suspicions of a candid listener; and again, the accommodation of their views to secular philosophy; and finally, their withdrawing of attention from manifest truth by a pretended explanation of Divine methods. Their loud profession of the unity of God is a fraudulent imitation of the faith; their assertion that Christ is the Son of God a play upon words for the delusion of their hearers; their saying that He did not exist before He was born a bid for the support of the world's philosophers; their confession of God as incorporeal and immutable leads, by a display of fallacious logic, up to a denial of the birth of God from God. They turn our arguments against ourselves; the Church's faith is made the engine of its own destruction. They have contrived to involve us in the perplexing position of an equal danger, whether we reason with them or whether we refrain. For they use the fact that we allow certain of their assumptions to pass unchallenged as an argument on behalf of those which we do contradict.
2. We call to mind that in the preceding books the reader has been urged to study the whole of that blasphemous manifesto, and mark how it is animated throughout by the one aim of propagating the belief that our Lord Jesus Christ is neither God, nor Son of God. Its authors argue that He is permitted to use the names of God and of Son by virtue of a certain adoption, though neither Godhead nor Sonship be His by nature. They use the fact, true in itself, that God is immutable and incorporeal, as an argument against the birth of the Son from Him. They value the truth, that God the Father is One, only as a weapon against our faith in the Godhead of Christ; pleading that an incorporeal nature cannot be rationally conceived as generating another, and that our faith in One God is inconsistent with the confession of God from God. But our earlier books have already refuted and foiled this argument of theirs by an appeal to the Law and the Prophets. Our defence has followed, step by step, the course of their attack. We have set forth God from God, and at the same time confessed One true God; shewing that this presentation of the faith neither falls short of the truth by ascribing singleness of Person to the One true God, nor adds to the faith by asserting the existence of a second Deity. For we confess neither an isolated God, nor yet two Gods. Thus, neither denying that God is One nor maintaining that He is alone, we hold the straight road of truth. Each Divine Person is in the Unity, yet no Person is the One God. Next, our purpose being to demonstrate the irrefragable truth of this mystery by the evidence of the Evangelists and Apostles, our first duty has been to make our readers acquainted with the nature, truly subsisting and truly born, of the Son of God; to demonstrate that He has no origin external to God, and was not created out of nothing, but is the Son, born from God. This is a truth which the evidence adduced in the last book has placed beyond all doubt. The assertion that He bears the name of Son by virtue of adoption has been put to silence, and He stands forth as a true Son by a true birth. Our present task is to prove from the Gospels that, because He is true Son, He is true God also. For unless He be true Son He cannot be true God, nor true God unless He be true Son.
3. Nothing is more harassing to human nature than the sense of impending danger. If calamities unknown or unanticipated befall us, we may need pity, yet we have been free from care; no load of anxiety has oppressed us. But he whose mind is full of possibilities of trouble suffers already a torment in his fear. I who now am venturing out to sea, am a mariner not unused to shipwreck, a traveller who knows by experience holy brigands lurk in the forests, an explorer of African deserts aware of the danger from scorpions and asps and basilisks. I enjoy no instant of relief from the knowledge and fear of present danger. Every heretic is on the watch, noting every word as it drops from my mouth. The whole progress of my argument is infested with ambuscades and pitfalls and snares. It is not of the road, of its hardness or steepness, that I complain; I am following in the footsteps of the Apostles, not choosing my own path. My trouble is the constant peril, the constant dread, of wandering into some ambush, of stumbling into some pit, of being entangled in some net. My purpose is to proclaim the unity of God, in the sense of the Law and Prophets and Apostles. Sabellius is at hand, eager with cruel kindness to welcome me, on the strength of this unity, and swallow me up in his own destruction. If I withstand him, and deny that, in the Sabellian sense, God is One a fresh heresy is ready to receive me, pointing out that I teach the existence of two Gods. Again, if I undertake to tell holy the Son of God was born from Mary, Photinus, the Ebion of our day, will be prompt to twist this assertion of the truth into a confirmation of his lie. I need mention no other heresies save one; all the world knows that they are alien from the Church. It is one that has been often denounced, often rejected, yet it preys upon our vitals still. Galatia has reared a large brood of godless assertors of the unity of God. Alexandria has sown broadcast, over almost the whole world, her denial, which is an affirmation, of the doctrine of two Gods. Pannonia upholds her pestilent doctrine that the only birth of Jesus Christ was from the Virgin. And the Church, distracted by these rival faiths, is in danger of being led by means of truth into a rejection of truth. Doctrines are being forced upon her for godless ends, which, according to the use that is made of them, will either support or overthrow the faith. For instance, we cannot, as true believers, assert that God is One, if we mean by it that He is alone; for faith in a lonely God denies the Godhead of the Son. If, on the other hand, we assert, as we truly can, that the Son is God, we are in danger, so they fondly imagine, of deserting the truth that God is One. We are in peril on either hand; we may deny the unity or we may maintain the isolation. But it is a danger which has no terrors for the foolish things of the word. Our adversaries are blind to the fact that His assertion that He is not alone is consistent with unity; that though He is One He is not solitary.
4. But I trust that the Church, by the light of her doctrine, will so enlighten the world's vain wisdom, that, even though it accept not the mystery of the faith, it will recognise that in our conflict with heretics we, and not they, are the true representatives of that mystery. For great is the force of truth; not only is it its own sufficient witness, but the more it is assailed the more evident it becomes; the daily shocks which it receives only increase its inherent stability. It is the peculiar property of the Church that when she is buffeted she is triumphant, when she is assaulted with argument she proves herself in the right, when she is deserted by her supporters she holds the field. It is her wish that all men should remain at her side and in her bosom; if it lay with her, none would become unworthy to abide under the shelter of that august mother, none would be cast out or suffered to depart from her calm retreat. But when heretics desert her or she expels them, the loss she endures, in that she cannot save them, is compensated by an increased assurance that she alone can offer bliss. This is a truth which the passionate zeal of rival heresies brings into the clearest prominence. The Church, ordained by the Lord and established by His Apostles, is one for all; but the frantic folly of discordant sects has severed them from her. And it is obvious that these dissensions concerning the faith result from a distorted mind, which twists the words of Scripture into conformity with its opinion, instead of adjusting that opinion to the words of Scripture. And thus, amid the clash of mutually destructive errors, the Church stands revealed not only by her own teaching, but by that of her rivals. They are ranged, all of them, against her; and the very fact that she stands single and alone is her sufficient answer to their godless delusions. The hosts of heresy assemble themselves against her; each of them can defeat all the others, but not one can win a victory for itself. The only victory is the triumph which the Church celebrates over them all. Each heresy wields against its adversary some weapon already shattered, in another instance, by the Church's condemnation. There is no point of union between them, and the outcome of their internecine struggles is the confirmation of the faith.
5. Sabellius sweeps away the birth of the Son, and then preaches the unity of God; but he does not doubt that the mighty Nature, which acted in the human Christ, was God. He shuts his eyes to the revealed mystery of the Sonship; the works done seem to him so marvellous that he cannot believe that He who performed them could undergo a true generation. When he hears the words, He that hath, seen Me hath seen the Father also, he jumps to the blasphemous conclusion of an inseparable and indistinguishable identity of nature in Father and Son, because he fails to see that the revelation of the birth is the mode in which Their unity of nature is manifested to. us. For the fact that the Father is seen in the Son is a proof of the Son's Divinity, not a disproof of His birth. Thus our knowledge of Each of Them is conditioned-by our knowledge of the Other, for there is no difference of nature between them and, since in this respect they are One, a reverent study of the character of Either will give us a true insight into the nature of Both For, indeed, it is certain that He, Who was in the form of God, must in His self-revelation present Himself to us in the exact aspect of the form of God. Again, this perverse and insane delusion derives a further encouragement from the words, I and the Father are One. From the fact of unity in the same nature they have impiously deduced a confusion of Persons; their interpretation, that the words signify a single Power, contradicts the tenour of the passage. For I and the Father are One does not indicate a solitary God. The use of the conjunction and shews clearly that more than one Person is signified; and are requires a plurality of subject. Moreover, the One is not incompatible with a birth. Its sense is, that the Two Persons have the one nature in common. The One is inconsistent with difference; the are with identity.
6. Set our modern heresy in array against the delusion, equally wild, of Sabellius; let them make the best of their case. The new heretics will advance the passage. The Father is greater than I. Neglecting the mystery of the Divine birth, and the mystery of God's emptying Himself and taking flesh, they will argue the inferiority of His nature from His assertion that the Father is the greater. They will plead against Sabellius that Christ is a Son, in so far as One can be a Son who is inferior to the Father and needs to ask for restoration to His glory, and fears to die and indeed did die. In reply Sabellius will adduce His deeds in evidence of His Divine nature; and while our novel heresy, to escape the admission of Christ's true Sonship, will heartily agree with him that God is One, Sabellius will emphatically assert the same article of the faith, in the sense that no Son exists. The one side lays stress upon the action of the Son; the other urges that in that action God is manifest. the one will demonstrate the unity, the other disprove the identity. Sabellius will defend his position thus:—"The works that were done could have been done by no other nature than the Divine. Sins were remitted, the sick were healed, the lame ran, the blind saw, the dead lived. God alone has power for this. The words I and the Father are One could only have been spoken from self-knowledge; no nature, outside the Father's, could have uttered them. Why then suggest a second substance, and urge me to believe in a second God? These works are peculiar to God; the One God wrought them." His adversaries, animated by a hatred, equally venomous, for the faith, will argue that the Son is unlike in nature to God the Father:—"You are ignorant of the mystery of your salvation. You must believe in a Son through Whom the worlds were made, through Whom man was fashioned, Who gave the Law through Angels, Who was born of Mary, Who was sent by the Father, was crucified, dead and buried, Who rose again from the dead and is at the right hand of God, Who is the Judge of quick and dead. Unto Him we must use again, we must confess Him, we must earn our place in His kingdom." Each of the two enemies of the Church is fighting the Church's battle. Sabellius displays Christ as God by the witness of the Divine nature manifested in His works; Sabellius' antagonists confess Christ, on the evidence of the revealed faith, to be the Son of God.
7. Again, how glorious a victory for our faith is that in which Ebionin other words, Photinus—both wins the day and loses it! He castigates Sabellius for denying that the Son of God is Man, and in his turn has to submit to the reproaches of Arian fanatics for failing to see that this Man is the Son of God. Against Sabellius he calls the Gospels to his aid, with their evidence concerning the Son of Mary; Arius deprives him of this ally by proving that the Gospels make Christ something more than the Son of Mary. Sabellius denies that there is a Son of God; against him Photinus elevates man to the place of Son. Photinus will hear nothing of a Son born before the worlds; against him, Arius denies that the only birth of the Son of God was His human birth. Let them defeat one another to their hearts' content, for every victory which each of them wins is balanced by a defeat Our present adversaries are ranted in the matter of the Divine nature of the Son; Sabellius in the matter of the Son's revealed existence; Photinus is convicted of ignorance, or else of falsehood, in his denial of the Son's birth before the worlds. Meanwhile the Church, whose faith is based upon the teaching of Evangelists and Apostles, holds fast, against Sabellius, her assertion that the Son exists; against Arius, that He is God by nature; against Photinus, that He created the universe. And she is the more convinced of her faith, in that they cannot combine to contradict it. For Sabellius points to the works of Christ in proof of the Divinity of Him Who wrought them, though he knows not that the Son was their Author. The Arians grant Him tile name of Son, though they confess not that the true nature of God dwelt in Him. Photinus maintains His manhood, though in maintaining it he forgets that Christ was born as God before the worlds. Thus, in their several assertions and denials, there are points in which each heresy is in the right in defence or attack; and the result of their conflicts is that the truth of our confession is brought into clearer light.
8. I felt that I must spare a little space to point this out. It has been from no love for amplification, but that it might serve as a warning. First, I wished to expose the vague and confused character of this crowd of heresies, whose mutual feuds turn, as we have seen, to our advantage. Secondly, in my warfare against the blasphemous doctrines of modern heresy; that is, in my task of proclaiming that both God the Father and God the Son are God,—in other words, that Father and Son are One in name, One in nature, One in the kind of Divinity which they possess,—I wished to shield myself from any charge which might be brought against me, either as an advocate of two Gods or of one lonely and isolated Deity. For in God the Father and God the Son, as I have set them forth, no confusion of Persons can be detected; nor in my exposition of Their common nature can any difference between the Godhead of the One and of the Other be discerned. In the preceding book I have sufficiently refuted, by the witness of the Gospels, those who deny the subsistence of I God the Son by a true birth from God; my present duty is to shew that He, Who in the truth of His nature is Son of God, is also in the truth of His nature God. But this proof must not degenerate into the fatal profession of a solitary God, or of a second God. It shall manifest God as One yet not alone; but in its care to avoid the error of making Him lonely it shall not fall into the error of denying His unity.
9. Thus we have all these different assurances of the Divinity of our Lord Jesus Christ:—His name, His birth, His nature, His power, His own assertion. As to the name, I conceive that no doubt is possible. It is written, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. What reason can there be for suspecting that He is not what His name indicates? And does not this name clearly describe His nature? If a statement be contradicted, it must be for some reason. What reason, I demand, is there in this instance for denying that He is God? The name is given Him, plainly and distinctly, and unqualified by any incongruous addition which might raise a doubt. The Word, we read, which was made flesh, was none other than God. Here is no loophole for any such conjecture as that He has received this name as a favour or taken it upon Himself, so possessing a titular Godhead which is not His by nature.
10. Consider the other recorded instances in which this name was given by favour or assumed. To Moses it was said, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh. Does not this addition, to Pharaoh, account for the title? Did God impart to Moses the Divine nature? Did He not rather make Moses a god in the sight of Pharaoh, who was to be smitten with terror when Moses' serpent swallowed the magic serpents and returned into a rod, when he drove back the venomous flies which he had called forth, when he stayed the hail by the same power wherewith he had summoned it, and made the locusts depart by the same might which had brought them; when in the wonders that he wrought the magicians saw the finger of God? That was the sense in which Moses was appointed to be god to Pharaoh; he was feared and entreated, he chastised and healed. It is one thing to be appointed a god; it is another thing to be God. He was made a god to Pharaoh; he had not that nature and that name wherein God consists. I call to mind another instance of the name being given as a title; that where it is written, I have said, Ye are gods. But this is obviously the granting of a favour. I have said proves that it is no definition, but only a description by One Who chooses to speak thus, A definition gives us knowledge of the object defined; a description depends on the arbitrary will of the speaker. When a speaker is manifestly conferring a title, that title has its origin only in the speaker's words, not in the thing itself. The title is not the name which expresses its nature and kind.
11. But in this case the Word in very truth is God; the essence of the Godhead exists in the Word, and that essence is expressed in the Word's name. For the name Word is inherent in the Son of God as a consequence of His mysterious birth, as are also the names Wisdom and Power. These, together with the substance which is His by a true birth, were called into existence to be the Son of God; yet, since they are the elements of God's nature, they are still immanent in Him in undiminished extent, although they were born from Him to be His Son. For, as we have said so often, the mystery which we preach is that of a Son Who owes His existence not to division but to birth. He is not a segment cut off, and so incomplete, but an Offspring born, and therefore perfect; for birth involves no diminution of the Begetter, and has the possibility of perfection for the Begotten. And therefore the titles of those substantive properties are applied to God the Only-begotten, for when He came into existence by birth it was they which constituted His perfection; and this although they did not thereby desert the Father, in Whom, by the immutability of His nature, they are eternally present. For instance, the Word is God the Only-begotten, and yet the Unbegotten Father is never without His Word. Not that the nature of the Son is that of a sound which is uttered. He is God from God, subsisting through a true birth; God's own Son, born from the Father, indistinguishable from Him in nature, and therefore inseparable. This is the lesson which His title of the Word is meant to teach us. And in the same way Christ is the Wisdom and the Power of God; not that He is, as He is often regarded, the inward activity of the Father's might or thought, but that His nature, possessing through birth a true substantial existence, is indicated by these names of inward forces. For an object, which has by birth an existence of its own, cannot be regarded as a property; a property is necessarily inherent in some being and can have no independent existence. But it was to save us from concluding that the Son is alien from the Divine nature of His Father that He, the Only-begotten from the eternal God His Father, born as God into a substantial existence of His own, has had Himself revealed to us under these names of properties, of which the Father, out of Whom He came into existence, has suffered no diminution. Thus He, being God, is nothing else than God. For when I hear the words, And the Word was God, they do not merely tell me that the Son was called God; they reveal to my understanding that He is God. In those previous instances, where Moses was called god and others were styled gods, there was the mere addition of a name by way of title. Here a solid essential truth is stated; The Word was God. That was indicates no accidental title, but an eternal reality, a permanent element of His existence, an inherent character of His nature.
12. And now let us See whether the confession of Thomas the Apostle, when he cried, My Lord and My God, corresponds with this assertion of the Evangelist. We see that he speaks of Him, Whom he confesses to be God, as My God. Now Thomas was undoubtedly familiar with those words of the Lord, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One. How then could the faith of an Apostle become so oblivious of that primary command as to confess Christ as God, when life is conditional upon the confession of the Divine unity? It was because, in the light of the Resurrection, the whole mystery of the faith had become visible to the Apostle. He had often heard such words as, I and the Father are One, and, All things that the Father hath are Mine, and, I in the Father and the Father in Me; and now he can confess that the name of God expresses the nature of Christ, without peril to the faith. Without breach of loyalty to the One God, the Father, his devotion could now regard the Son of God as God, since he believed that everything contained in the nature of the Son was truly of the same nature with the Father. No longer need he fear that such a confession as his was the proclamation of a second God, a treason against the unity of the Divine nature; for it was not a second God Whom that perfect birth of the Godhead had brought into being. Thus it was with full knowledge of the mystery of the Gospel that Thomas confessed his Lord and his God. It was not a title of honour; it was a confession of nature. He believed that Christ was God in substance and in power. And the Lord, in turn, shews that this act of worship was the expression not of mere reverence, but of faith, when He says, Because than hast seen, thou hast believed; blessed are they which have not seen, and have believed. For Thomas had seen before he believed. But, you ask, What was it that Thomas believed? That, beyond a doubt, which is expressed in his words, My Lord and my God. No nature but that of God could have risen by its own might from death to life; and it is this fact, that Christ is God, which was confessed by Thomas with the confidence of an assured faith. Shall we, then, dream that His name of God is not a substantial reality, when that name has been proclaimed by a faith based upon certain evidence? Surely a Son devoted to His Father, One Who did not His own will but the will of Him that sent Him, Who sought not His own glory but the glory of Him from Whom He came, would have rejected the adoration involved in such a name as destructive of that unity of God which had been the burden of His teaching. Yet, in fact, He confirms this assertion of the mysterious truth, made by the believing Apostle; He accepts as His own the name which belongs to the nature of the Father. And He teaches that they are blessed who, though they have not seen Him rise from the dead, yet have believed, on the assurance of the Resurrection, that He is God.
13. Thus the name which expresses His nature proves the truth of our confession of the faith. For the name, which indicates any single substance, points out also any other substance of the same kind; and, in this instance, there are not two substances but one substance, of the one kind. For the Son of God is God; this is the truth expressed in His name. The one name does not embrace two Gods; for the one name God is the name of one indivisible nature. For since the Father is God and the Son is God, and that name which is peculiar to the Divine nature is inherent in Each, therefore the Two are One. For the Son, though He subsists through a birth from the Divine nature, yet preserves the unity in His name; and this birth of the Son does not compel loyal believers to acknowledge two Gods, since our confession declares that Father and Son are One, both in nature and in name. Thus the Son of God has the Divine name as the result of His birth. Now the second step in our demonstration was to be that of shewing that it is by virtue of His birth that He is God. I have still to bring forward the evidence of the Apostles that the Divine name is used of Him in an exact sense; but for the present I purpose to continue our enquiry into the language of the Gospels.
14. And first I ask what new element, destructive of His Godhead, can have been imported by birth into the nature of the Son? Universal reason rejects the supposition that a being can become different in nature, by the process of birth, from the being to which its birth is due; although we recognise the possibility that from parents, different in kind, an offspring sharing the nature of both, yet diverse from either, may be propagated. The fact is familiar in the case of beasts, both tame and wild. But even in this case there is no real novelty; the new qualities already exist, concealed in the two different parental natures, and are only developed by the connexion. The birth of their joint offspring is not the cause of that offspring's difference from its parents. The difference is a gift from them of various diversities, which are received and combined in one frame. When this is the case as to the transmission and reception even of bodily differences, is it not a form of madness to assert that the birth of God the Only-begotten was the birth from God of a nature inferior to Himself? For the giving of birth is a function of the true nature of the transmitter of life; and without the presence and action of that true nature there can be no birth. The object of all this heat and passion is to prove that there was no birth, but a creation, of the Son of God; that the Divine nature is not His origin and that He does not possess that nature in His personal subsistence, but draws, from what was non-existent, a nature different in kind from the Divine. They are angry because He says, That which is barn of the flesh is flesh, and that which is barn of the Spirit is Spirit. For, since God is a Spirit, it is clear that in One born from Him there can be nothing alien or different froth that Spirit from which He was born. Thus the birth of God constitutes Him perfect God. And hence also it is clear that we must not say that He began to exist, but only that He was born. For there is a sense in which beginning is different from birth. A thing which begins to exist either comes into existence out of nothing, or developes out of one state into another, ceasing to be what it was before; so, for instance, gold is formed out of earth, solids melt into liquids, cold changes to warmth, white to red, water breeds moving creatures, lifeless objects torn into living. In contrast to all this, the Son of God did not begin, out of nothing, to be God, but was born as God; nor had He an existence of another kind before the Divine. Thus He Who was born to be God had neither a beginning of His Godhead, nor yet a development up to it. His birth retained for Him that nature out of which He came into being; the Son of God, in His distinct existence, is what God is, and is nothing else.
15. Again, any one who is in doubt concerning this matter may gain from the Jews an accurate knowledge of Christ's nature; or rather learn that He was truly born from the Gospel, where it is written, Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill Him because He not only broke the Sabbath, but said also that God was His own Father, making Himself equal with God. This passage is unlike most others in not giving us the words spoken by the Jews, but the Apostle's explanation of their motive in wishing to kill the Lord. We see that no plea of misapprehension can excuse the wickedness of these blasphemers; for we have the Apostle's evidence that the true nature of Christ was fully revealed to them. They could speak of His birth:—He said that God was His Father, making Himself equal with God. Was not His clearly a birth of nature from nature, when He published the equality of His nature by speaking of God, by name, as His own Father? Now it is manifest that equality consists in the absence of difference between those who are equal. Is it not also manifest that the result of birth must be a nature in which there is an absence of difference between Son and Father? And this is the only possible origin of true equality; birth can only bring into existence a nature equal to its origin. But again, we can no more hold that there is equality where there is confusion, than we can where there is difference. Thus equality, as of the image, is incompatible with isolation and with diversity; for equality cannot dwell with difference, nor yet in solitude.
16. And now, although we have found the sense of Scripture, as we understand it, in harmony with the conclusions of ordinary reason, the two agreeing that equality is incompatible either with diversity or with isolation, yet we must seek a fresh support for Our contention from actual words of our Lord. For only so can we check that licence of arbitrary interpretation whereby these bold traducers of the faith would even venture to cavil at the Lord's solemn self-revelation. His answer to the Jews was this:—The Son can do nothing of Himself but what He seeth the Father do; for what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth; and He will shew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. For the Father judgeth no man, but hath given all judgment to the Son, that all may honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father which hath sent Him. The course of our argument, as I had shaped it in my mind, required that each several point of the debate should be handled singly; that, since we had been taught that our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, is God in name, in birth, in nature, in power, in self-revelation, our demonstration of the faith should establish each successive point in that order. But His birth is a barrier to such a treatment of the question; for a consideration of it includes a consideration of His name and nature and power and self- revelation. For His birth involves all these, and they are His by the fact that He is born. And thus our argument concerning His birth has taken such a course that it is impossible for us to keep these other matters back for separate discussion in their turn.
17. The chief reason why the Jews wished to kill the Lord was that, in calling God His Father, He had made Himself equal with God; and therefore He put His answer, in which He reproved their evil passion, into the form of an exposition of the whole mystery of our faith. For just before this, when He had healed the paralytic and they had passed their judgment upon Him that He was worthy of death for breaking the Sabbath, He had said, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. Their jealousy had been inflamed to the utmost by the raising of Himself to the level of God which was involved in this use of the name of Father. And now He wishes to assert His birth and to reveal the powers of His nature, and so He says, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do. These opening words of His reply are aimed at that wicked zeal of the Jews, which hurried them on even to the desire of slaying Him. It is in reference to the charge of breaking the Sabbath that He says, My Father worketh hitherto, and I work. He wished them to understand that His practice was justified by Divine authority; and He taught them by the same words that His work must be regarded as the work of the Father, Who was working in Him all that He wrought. And again, it was to subdue the jealousy awakened by His speaking of God as His Father that He uttered those words, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do. Lest this making of Himself equal to God, as having the name and nature of God's Son, should withdraw men's faith from the truth that He had been born, He says that the Son can do nothing but what He sees the Father do. Next, in confirmation of the saving harmony of truths in our confession of Father and of Son, He displays this nature which is His by birth; a nature which derives its power of action not from successive gifts of strength to do particular deeds, but from knowledge. He shews that this knowledge is not imparted by the Father's performance of any bodily work, as a pattern, that the Son may imitate what the Father has previously done; but that, by the action of the Divine nature, He had come to share the subsistence of the Divine nature, or, in other words, had been born as Son from the Father. He told them that, because the power and the nature of God dwelt consciously within Him, it was impossible for Him to do anything which He had not seen the Father doing; that, since it is in the might of the Father that God the Only-begotten performs His works His liberty of action coincides in its range with His knowledge of the powers of the nature of God the Father; a nature inseparable from Himself, and lawfully owned by Him in virtue of His birth. For God sees not after a bodily fashion, but possesses, by His nature, the vision of Omnipotence.
18. The next words are, For what things soever He—the Father—doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. This likewise is added to indicate His birth; whatsoever and same to indicate the true Divinity of His nature. Whatsoever and same make it impossible that there should be any actions of His that are different from or outside, the actions of the Father. Thus He, Whose nature has power to do all the same things as the Father, is included in the same nature with the Father. But when, in contrast with this, we read that all these same things are done by the Son likewise, the fact that the works are like those of Another is fatal to the supposition that He Who does them works in isolation. Thus the same things that the Father does are all done likewise by the Son. Here we have clear proof of His true birth, and at the same time a convincing attestation of the Mystery of our faith, which, with its foundation in the Unity of the nature of God, confesses that there resides in Father and Son an indivisible Divinity. For the Son does the same things as the Father, and does them likewise; while acting in like manner He does the same things. Two truths are combined in one proposition; that His works are done likewise proves His birth; that they are the same works proves His nature.
19. Thus the progressive revelation contained in our Lord's reply is at one with the progressive statement of truth in the Church's confession of faith. Neither of them divides the nature, and both declare the birth. For the next words of Christ are, For the Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth; and He will skew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Rather raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. Can there be any other purpose in this revelation of the manner in which God works, except that of inculcating the true birth; the faith in a subsisting Son born from the subsisting God, His Father? The only other explanation is that God the Only-begotten was so ignorant that He needed the instruction conveyed in this showing; but the reckless blasphemy of the suggestion makes this alternative impossible. For He, knowing, as He does, everything that He is taught, has no need of the teaching. And accordingly, after the words, The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things that Himself doeth, we are next informed that all this skewing is for our instruction in the faith; that the Father and the Son may have their equal share in our confession, and we be saved, by this statement that the Father shews all that He does to the Son, from the delusion that the Son's knowledge is imperfect. With this object He goes on to say, And He will skew Him greater works than these, that ye may marvel. For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. We see that the Son has full knowledge of the future works which the Father will shew Him hereafter. He knows that He will be shewn how, after His Father's example, He is to give life to the dead. For He says that the Father will shew to the Son things at which they shall marvel; and at once proceeds to tell them what these things are;—For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will. The power is equal because the nature is one and the same. The skewing of the works is an aid, not to ignorance in Him, but to faith in us. It conveys to the Son no knowledge of things unknown, but it imparts to us the confidence to proclaim His birth, by assuring us that the Father has shewn to Him all the works that He Himself can do. The terms used in this Divine discourse have been chosen with the utmost deliberation, lest any vagueness of language should suggest a difference of nature between the Two. Christ says that the Father's works were shewn Him, instead of saying that, to enable Him to perform them, a mighty nature was given Him. Hereby He wishes to reveal to us that this shewing was a substantive part of the process of His birth, since, simultaneously with that birth, there was imparted to Him by the Father's love a knowledge of the works which the Father willed that He should do. And again, to save us from being led, by this declaration of the shewing, to suppose that the Son's nature is ignorant and therefore different from the Father's, He makes it clear that He already knows the things that are to be shewn Him. So far, indeed, is He from needing the authority of precedent to enable Him to act, that He is to give life to whom He will. To will implies a free nature, subsisting with power to choose in the blissful exercise of omnipotence.
20. And next, lest it should seem that to give life to whom He will is not within the power of One Who has been truly born, but is only the prerogative of ingenerate Omnipotence, He hastens to add, For the _Father judgeth no man, but hath given all judgment to the Son. The statement that all judgment is given teaches both His birth and His Sonship; for only a nature which is altogether one with the Father's could possess all things; and a Son can possess nothing, except by gift. But all judgment has been given Him for He quickens whom He will. Now we cannot suppose that judgment is taken away from the Father, although He does not exercise it; for the Son's whole power of judgment proceeds from the Father's, being a gift from Him. And there is no concealment of the reason why judgment has been given to the Son, for the words which follow are, But He hath given all judgment to the Son, that all men may honour the Son even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father Which hath sent Him. What possible excuse remains for doubt, or for the irreverence of denial? The reason for the gift of judgment is that the Son may receive an honour equal to that which is paid to the Father; and thus he who dishonours the Son is guilty of dishonouring the Father also. How, after this proof, can we imagine that the nature given Him by birth is different from the Father's, when He is the Father's equal in work, in power, in honour, in the punishment awarded to gainsayers? Thus this whole Divine reply is nothing else than an unfolding of the mystery of His birth. And the only distinction that it is right or possible to make between Father and Son is that the Latter was born; yet born in such a sense as to be One with His Father.
21. Thus the Father works hitherto and the Son works. In Father and Son you have the names which express Their nature in relation to Each other. Note also that it is the Divine nature, that through which God works, that is working here. And remember, lest you fall into the error of imagining that the operation of two unlike natures is here described, how it was said concerning the blind man, But that the works of God may be made manifest in him, I must work the works of Him that sent Me. You see that in his case the work wrought by the Son is the Father's work; and the Son's work is God's work. The remainder of the discourse which we are considering also deals with works; but my defence is at present only concerned with assigning the whole work to Both, and pointing out that They are at one in Their method of working, since the Son is employed upon that work which the Father does hitherto. The sanction contained in this fact that, by virtue of His Divine birth, the Father is working with Him in all that He does, will save us from supposing that the Lord of the Sabbath was doing wrong in working on the Sabbath. His Sonship is not affected, for there is no confusion of His Divinity with the Father's, and no negation of it; His Godhead is not affected, for His Divine nature is untouched. Their unity is not affected, for no difference is revealed to sever Them; and Their unity is not presented in such a light as to contradict Their distinct existence. First recognise the Sonship of the Son; The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do Here His birth is manifest; because of it He can do nothing of Himself till He sees it bring done. He cannot be unbegotten, because He can do nothing of Himself; He has no power of initiation, and therefore He must have been born. But the fact that He can see the Father's works proves that He has the comprehension which belongs to the conscious Possessor of Divinity. Next, mark that He does possess this true Divine nature;—For what things soever He doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise. And now that we have seen Him endowed with the powers of that nature, note how this results in unity, how one nature dwells in the Two;—That all men may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. And then, lest reflection on this unity entangle you in the delusion of a solitary and self-contained God, take to heart the mystery of the faith manifested in these words, He that honoureth not the Son honoureth not the Father Which hath sent Him. The rage and cunning of heresy may do their worst; our position is impregnable. He is the Son, because He can do nothing of Himself; He is God, because, whatever the Father does, He does the same; They Two are One, because He is equal in honour to the Father and does the very same works; He is not the Father, because He is sent. So great is the wealth of mysterious truth contained in this one doctrine of the birth! It embraces His name, His nature, His power, His self- revelation; for everything conveyed to Him in His birth must be contained in that nature from which His birth is derived. Into His nature no element of any substance different in kind from that of His Author is introduced, for a nature which springs from one nature only must be entirely one with that nature which is its parent. An unity is that which, containing no discordant elements, is one in kind with itself; an unity constituted through birth cannot be solitary; for solitude can have but a single occupant, while an unity constituted through birth implies the conjunction of Two.
22. And furthermore, let His own Divine words bear witness to Himself. He says, They that are of My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them of My hand. That which My Father hath given Me is greater than all, and no man shall be able to pluck them out of My Father's hand. I and the Father are one. What lethargy can blunt so utterly, the edge of our understanding as to render so precise a statement for one moment obscure to us? What proud sophistry can play such pranks with human docility as to persuade those, who have learnt from these words the knowledge of what God is that they must not recognise God in Him Whose Godhead was here revealed to them? Heresy ought either to bring forward other Gospels in support of its doctrine; or else, if our existing Gospels are the only documents which teach of God, why do they not believe the lessons taught? If they are the only source of knowledge, why not draw faith, as well as knowledge, from them? Yet now we find that their faith is held in defiance of their knowledge; and hence it is a faith rooted not in knowledge, but in sin; a faith of bold irreverence, instead of reverent humility, towards the truth confessedly known. God the Only-begotten, as we have seen, fully assured of His own nature, reveals with the utmost precision of language the mystery of His birth. He reveals it, ineffable though it is, in such wise that we can believe and confess it; that we can understand that He was born and believe that He has the nature of God and is One with the Father, and One with Him in such a sense that God is not alone nor Son another name for Father, but that in very truth He is the Son. For, firstly, He assures us of the powers of His Divine nature, saying of His sheep, and no man shall pluck them out of My hand. It is the utterance of conscious power, this confession of free and irresistible energy, that will allow no man to pluck His sheep from His hand. But more than this; not only has He the nature of God, but He would have us know that nature is His by birth from God, and hence He adds, That which the Father has given Me is greater than all. He makes no secret of His birth from the Father, for what He received from the Father He says is greater than all. And He Who received it, received it at His birth, not after His birth, and yet it came to Him from Another, for He received it. But He, Who received this gift from Another, forbids us to suppose that He Himself is different in kind from That Other, and does not eternally subsist with the same nature as that of Him Who gave the gift, by saying, No man shall be able to pluck them out of My, Father's hand. None can pluck them out of His hand, for He has received from His Father that which is greater than all things. What, then, means this contradictory assertion that none can pluck them from His Father's hand? It is the Son's hand which received them from the Father, the Father's hand which gave them to the Son: in what sense is it said that what cannot be plucked from the Son's hand cannot be plucked from the Father's hand? Hear, if you wish to know:—I and the Father are one. The Son's hand is the Father's hand. For the Divine nature does not deteriorate or cease to be the same in passing through birth: nor yet is this sameness a bar to our faith in the birth, for in that birth no alien element was admitted into His nature. And here He speaks of the Son's hand, which is the hand of the Father, that by a bodily similitude you may learn the power of the one Divine nature which is in Both; for the nature and the power of the Father is in the Son. And lastly, that in this mysterious truth of the birth you may discern the true and indistinguishable unity of the nature of God, the words were spoken, I and the Father are One. They were spoken that in this unity we might see neither difference nor solitude; for They are Two, and yet no second nature came into being through that true birth and generation.
23. There still remains, if I read them aright, the same desire in these maddened souls, though their opportunity for fulfilling it is lost. Their bitter hearts still cherish a longing for mischief which they can no longer hope to satisfy. The Lord is on His throne in heaven, and the furious hatred of heresy cannot drag Him, as the Jews did, to the Cross. But the spirit of unbelief is the same, though now it takes the form of rejecting His Godhead. They bid defiance to His words, though they cannot deny that He spoke them. They vent their hatred in blasphemy; instead of stones they shower abuse. If they could they would bring Him down from His throne to a second crucifixion. When the Jews were moved to wrath by the novelty of Christ's teaching we read, The Jews therefore took up stones to stone Him. He answered them, Many good works have I shewed you from the Father; far which of those works do ye stone Me? The Jews answered Him, For a good work we stone Thee not, but for blasphemy; and because Thou, being a man, makest Thyself God. I bid you, heretic, to recognise herein your own deeds, your own words. Be sure that you are their partner, for you have made their unbelief your pattern. It was at the words, I and the Father are One, that the Jews took up stones. Their godless irritation at the revelation of that saving mystery hurried them on even to an attempt to slay. There is no one whom you can stone; but is your guilt in denying Him less than theirs? The will is the same, though it is frustrated by His throne in heaven. Nay, it is you that are more impious than the Jew. He lifted his stone against the Body, you lift yours against the Spirit; he as he thought, against man, you against God; he against a sojourner on earth, you against Him that sits upon the throne of majesty; he against One Whom he knew not, you against Him Whom you confess; he against the mortal Christ, you against the Judge of the universe. The Jew says, Being Man; you say, 'Being a creature.' You and he join in the cry, Makest Thyself God, with the same insolence of blasphemy. You deny that He is God begotten of God; you deny that He is the Son by a true birth; you deny that His words, I and the Father are One, contain the assertion of one and the same nature in Both. You foist upon us in His stead a modern, a strange, an alien god; you make Him God of another kind from the Father, or else not God at all, as not subsisting by a birth from God.
24. The mystery contained in those words, I and the Father are One, moves you to wrath. The Jew answered, Thou, being a man makest Thyself God; your blasphemy is a match for his:—'Thou, being a creature, makest Thyself God.' You say, in effect, 'Thou art not a Son by birth, Thou art not God in truth; Thou art a creature, excelling all other creatures. But Thou wast not born to be God, for I refuse to believe that the incorporeal God gave birth to Thy nature. Thou and the Father are not One. Nay more. Thou art not the Son, Thou art not like God, Thou art not God.' The Lord had His answer for the Jews; an answer that meets the case of your blasphemy even better than it met theirs:—Is it not written in the Law, I said, Ye are gods? If, therefore, He called them gods, unto whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Me, Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into this world, that I have blasphemed, because I said I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of the Father, believe Me not; but if I do, and ye will not believe Me, believe the works, that ye may know and be sure that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. The matter of this reply was dictated by that of the blasphemous attack upon Him. The accusation was that He, being a man, made Himself God. Their proof of this allegation was His own statement, I and the Father are One. He therefore sets Himself to prove that the Divine nature, which is His by birth, gives Him the right to assert that He and the Father are One. He begins by exposing the absurdity, as well as the insolence, of such a charge as that of making Himself God, though He was a man. The Law had conferred the title upon holy men; the word of God, from which there is no appeal, had given its sanction to the public use of the name. What blasphemy, then, could there be in the assumption of the title of Son of God by Him Whom the Father had sanctified and sent into the world? The unalterable record of the Word of God has confirmed the title to those to whom the Law assigned it. There is an end, therefore, of the charge that He, being a man, makes Himself God, when the Law gives the name of gods to those who are confessedly men. And further, if other men may use this name without blasphemy, there can obviously be no blasphemy in its use by the Man Whom the Father has sanctified,—and note here that throughout this argument He calls Himself Man, for the Son of God is also Son of Man—since He excels the rest, who yet are guilty of no irreverence in styling themselves gods. He excels them, in that He has been hallowed to be the Son, as the blessed Paul says, who teaches us of this sanctification:—Which He had promised afore by His prophets in the Holy Scriptures, concerning His Son, Which was made of the seal of David according to the flesh, and was appointed to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of sanctification. Thus the accusation of blasphemy on His part, in making Himself God, falls to the ground. For the Word of God has conferred this name upon many men; and He, Who was sanctified and sent by the Father, did no more than proclaim Himself the Son of God.
25. There remains, I conceive, no possibility of doubt but that the words, I and the Father are One, were spoken with regard to the nature which is His by birth. The Jews had rebuked Him because by these words He, being a man, made Himself God. The coarse of His answer proves that, in this I and the Father are One, He did profess Himself the Son of God, first in name, then in nature, and lastly by birth. For I and Father are the names of substantive Beings; One is a declaration of Their nature, namely, that it is essentially the same in Both; are forbids us to confound Them together; are one, while forbidding confusion, teaches that the unity of the Two is the result of a birth. Now all this truth is drawn out from that name, the Son of God, which He being sanctified by the Father, bestows upon Himself; a name, His right to which is confirmed by His assertion, I and the Father are One. For birth cannot confer any nature upon the offspring other than that of the parent from whom that offspring is born.
26. Once more, God the Only-begotten has summed up for us, in words of' His own, the whole revealed mystery of the faith. When He had given His answer to the charge that He, being a man, made Himself God, He determined to shew that His words, I and the Father are One, are a clear and necessary conclusion; and therefore He thus pursued His argument;—Ye say that I have blasphemed, because I said, I am the Son of God. If I do not the works of the Father, believe Me not; but if I do, and ye will not believe Me, believe the works, that ye may know and be sure that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father. After this, heresy that still persists in its course perpetrates a wilful outrage in conscious despair; the assertion of unbelief is deliberate shamelessness. They who make it take pride in folly and are dead to the faith. for it is not ignorance, but madness, to contradict this saying. The Lord had said, I and the Father are One; and the mystery of His birth, which He revealed, was the unity in nature of Father and Son. Again, when He was accused for claiming the Divine nature, He justified His claim by advancing a reason; —If I do not the works of the Father, believe Me not. We are not to believe His assertion that He is the Son of God, unless He does His Father's works. Hence we see that His birth has given Him no new or alien nature, for His doing of the Father's works is to be the reason why we mast believe that He is the Son. What room is there here for adoption, or for leave to use the name, or for denial that He was born from the nature of God, when the proof that He is God's Son is that He does the works which belong to the Father's nature? No creature is equal or like to God, no nature external to His is comparable in might to Him; it is only the Son, born from Himself, Whom we can without blasphemy liken and equal to Him. Nothing outside Himself can be compared to God without insult to His august majesty. If any being, not born from God's sell, can be discovered that is like Him and equal to Him in power, then God, in admitting a partner to share His throne, forfeits His pre- eminence. No longer is God One, for a second, indistinguishable from Himself, has arisen. On the other hand, there is no insult in making His own true Son His equal. For then that which is like Him is His own; that which is compared with Him is born from Himself; the Power that can do His own works is not external to Him. Nay more, it is an actual heightening of His glory, that He has begotten Omnipotence, and yet not severed that Omnipotent nature from Himself. The Son performs the Father's works, and on that ground demands that we should believe that He is God's Son. This is no claim of mere arrogance; for He bases it upon His works, and bids us examine them. And He bears witness that these works are not His own, but His Father's. He would not have our thoughts distracted by the splendour of the deeds from the evidence for His birth. And because the Jews could not penetrate the mystery of the Body which He had taken, the Humanity born of Mary, and recognise the Son of God, He appeals to His deeds for confirmation of His right to the name;—But if I do them, and ye will not believe Me, believe the works. First, He would not have them believe that He is the Son of God, except on the evidence of God's works which He does. Next, if He does the works, yet seems unworthy, in His bodily humility, to bear the Divine name, He demands that they shall believe the works. Why should the mystery of His human birth hinder our recognition of His birth as God, when He that is Divinely born fulfils every Divine task by the agency of that Manhood which He has assumed? If we believe not the Man, for the works' sake, when He tells us that He is the Son of God, let us believe the works when they, which are beyond a doubt the works of God, are manifestly wrought by the Son of God. For the Son of God possesses, in virtue of His birth, everything that is God's; and therefore the Son's work is the Father's work because His birth has not excluded Him from that nature which is His source and wherein He abides, and because He has in Himself that nature to which He owes it that He exists eternally.
27. And so the Son, Who does the Father's works and demands of us that, if we believe not Him, at least we believe His works, is bound to tell us what the point is as to which we are to believe the works. And He does tell us in the words which follow:—But if I do, and ye will not believe Me, believe the works, that ye may know and be sure that the Father is in Me, and I in Him. It is the same truth as is contained in I am the Son of God, and I and the Father are One. This is the nature which is His by birth; this the mystery of the saving faith, that we must not divide the unity, nor separate the nature from the birth, but must confess that the living God was in truth born from the living God. God, Who is Life, is not a Being built up of various and lifeless portions; He is Power, and not compact of feeble elements, Light, intermingled with no shades of darkness, Spirit, that can harmonise with no incongruities. All that is within Him is One; what is Spirit is Light and Power and Life, and what is Life is Light and Power and Spirit. He Who says, I am, and I change not, can suffer neither change in detail nor transformation in kind. For these attributes, which I have named, are not attached to different portions of Him, but meet and unite, entirely and perfectly, in the whole being of the living God. He is the living God, the eternal Power of the living Divine nature; and that which is born from Him, according to the mysterious truth which He reveals, could not be other than living. For when He said, As the living Father hath sent Me, and I live through the Father, He taught that it is through the living Father that He has life in Himself. And, moreover, when He said, For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son also to have life in Himself, He bore witness that life, to the fullest extent, is His gift from the living God. Now if the living Son was born from the living Father, that birth took place without a new nature coming into existence. Nothing new comes into existence when the Living is begotten by the Living; for life was not sought out from the non-existent to receive birth; and Life, which receives its birth from Life, must needs, because of that unity of nature and because of the mysterious event of that perfect and ineffable birth, live always in Him that lives and have the life of the Living in Himself.
28. I call to mind that, at the beginning of our treatises, I gave the warning that human analogies correspond imperfectly to their Divine counterparts, yet that our understanding receives a real, if incomplete, enlightenment by comparing the latter with visible types. And now I appeal to human experience in the matter of birth, whether the source of their children's being remain not within the parents. For though the lifeless and ignoble matter, which sets in motion the beginnings of life, pass from one parent into the other, yet these retain their respective natural forces. They have brought into existence a nature one with their own, and therefore the begetter is bound up with the existence of the begotten; and the begotten, receiving birth through a force transmitted, yet not lost, by the begetter, abides in that begetter. This may suffice as a statement of what happens in a human birth. It is inadequate as a parallel to the perfect birth of God the Only-begotten; for humanity is born in weakness and from the union of two unlike natures, and maintained in life by a combination of lifeless substances. Again, humanity does not enter at once into the exercise of its appointed life, and never fully lives that life, being always encumbered with a multitude of members which decay and are insensibly discarded. In God, on the other hand, the Divine life is lived in the fullest sense, for God is Life; and from Life nothing that is not truly living can be born. And His birth is not by way of emanation but results from an act of power. Thus, since God's life is perfect in its intensity, and since that which is born from Him is perfect in power, God has the power of giving birth but not of suffering change. His nature is capable of increase, not of diminution, for He continues in, and shares the life of, that Son to Whom He gave in birth a nature like to, and inseparable from, His own. And that Son, the Living born from the Living, is not separated by the event of His birth from the nature that begat Him.
29. Another analogy which casts some light upon the meaning of the faith is that of fire as containing fire in itself and as abiding in fire. Fire contains the brightness of light, the heat which is its essential nature, the property of destroying by combustion the flickering inconstancy of flame. Yet all the while it is fire, and in all these manifestations there is but one nature. Its weakness is that it is dependent for its existence upon inflammable matter, and that it perishes with the matter on which it has lived. A comparison with fire gives us, in some measure, an insight into the incomparable nature of God; it helps us to believe in the properties of God that we find them, to a certain extent, present in an earthly element. I ask, then, whether in fire derived from fire there is any division or separation. When one flame is kindled from another, is the original nature cut off from the derived, so as not to abide in it? Does it not rather follow on, and dwell in the second flame by a kind of increase, as it were by birth? For no portion has been cut off from the nature of the first flame, and yet there is light from light. Does not the first flame live on in the second, which owes its existence, though not by division, to the first? Does not the second still dwell in the first, from which it was not cut off; from which it went forth, retaining its unity with the substance to which its nature belongs? Are not the two one, when it is physically impossible to derive light from light by division, and logically impossible to distinguish between them in nature.
30. These illustrations, I repeat, must only be used as aids to apprehension of the faith, not as standards of comparison for the Divine majesty. Our method is that of using bodily instances as a clue to the invisible. Reverence land reason justify us in using such help, which we find used in God's witness to Himself, while yet we do not aspire to find a parallel to the nature of God. But the minds of simple believers have been distressed by the mad heretical objection that it is wrong to accept a doctrine concerning God which needs, in order to become intelligible, the help of bodily analogies. And therefore, in accordance with that word of our Lord which we have already cited, That which is born of the flesh is flesh, but that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit, we have thought it expedient, since God is Spirit, to give to these comparisons a certain place in our argument. By so doing we shall avert from God the charge that He has deceived us in using these analogies; shewing, as we have done, that such illustrations from the nature of His creatures enable us to grasp the meaning of God's self-revelation to us.
31. We see how the living Son of the living Father, He Who is God from God, reveals the unity of the Divine nature, indissolubly One and the same, and the mystery of His birth in these words, I and the Father are One. Because the seeming arrogance of them engendered a prejudice against Him, He made it more clear that He had spoken in the conscious possession of Divinity by saying, Ye say that I have blasphemed because I said, I am the Son of God; thus shewing that the oneness of His nature with that of God was due to birth from God. And then, to clench their faith in His birth by a positive assertion, and to guard them, at the same time, from imagining that the birth involves a difference of nature, He crowns His argument with the words, Believe the works, that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father. Does His birth, as here revealed, display His Divinity as not His by nature, as not His own by right? Each is in the Other; the birth of the Son is from the Father only; no alien or unlike nature has been raised to Godhead and subsists as God. God from God, eternally abiding, owes His Godhead to none other than God. Import, if you see your opportunity, two gods into the Church's faith; separate Son from Father as far as you can, consistently with the birth which you admit; yet still the Father is in the Son, and the Son is in the Father, and this by no interchange of emanations but by the perfect birth of the living nature. Thus you cannot add together God the Father and God the Son, and count Them as two Gods, for They Two are One God. You cannot confuse Them together, for They Two are not One Person. And so the Apostolic faith rejects two gods; for it knows nothing of two Fathers or two Sons. In confessing the Father it confesses the Son; it believes in the Son in believing in the Father. For the name of Father involves that of Son, since without having a son none can be a father. Evidence of the existence of a son is proof that there has been a father, for a son cannot exist except from a father. When we confess that God is One we deny that He is single; for the Son is the complement of the Father, and to the Father the Son's existence is due. But birth works no change in the Divine nature; both in Father and in Son that nature is true to its kind. And the right expression for us of this unity of nature is the confession that They, being Two by birth and generation, are One God, not one Person.
32. We will leave it to him to preach two Gods, who can preach One God without confessing the unity; he shall proclaim that God is solitary, who can deny that there are two Persons, Each dwelling in the Other by the power of Their nature and the mystery of birth given and received. And that man may assign a different nature to Each of the Two, who is ignorant that the unity of Father and of Son is a revealed truth. Let the heretics blot out this record of the Son's self-revelation I in the Father and the Father in Me; then, and not till then, shall they assert that there are two Gods, or one God in loneliness. There is no hint of more natures than one in what we are told of Their possession of the one Divine nature. The truth that God is from God does not multiply God by two; the birth destroys the supposition of a lonely God. And again, because They are interdependent They form an unity; and that They are interdependent is proved by Their being One from One. For the One, in begetting the One, conferred upon Him nothing that was not His own; and the One, in being begotten, received from the One only what belongs to one. Thus the apostolic faith, in proclaiming the Father, will proclaim Him as One God, and in confessing the Son will confess Him as One God; since one and the same Divine nature exists in Both, and because, the Father being God and the Son being God, and the one name of God expressing the nature of Both, the term 'One God' signifies the Two. God from God, or God in God, does not mean that there are two Gods, for God abides, One from One, eternally with the one Divine nature and the one Divine name; nor does God dwindle down to a single Person, for One and One can never be in solitude.
33. The Lord has not left in doubt or obscurity the teaching conveyed in this great mystery; He has not abandoned us to lose our way in dim uncertainty. Listen to Him as He reveals the full knowledge of this faith to His Apostles;—I am the Way and the Truth and the Life; no man cometh unto the Father but through Me. If ye know Me, ye know My Father also; and from henceforth ye shall know Him, and have seen Him. Philip saith unto Him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and ye have not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Rather? Dost than not believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself, but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth His works. Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; or else believe for the very works' sake. He Who is the Way leads us not into by-paths or trackless wastes: He Who is the Truth mocks us not with lies; He Who is the Life betrays us not into delusions which are death. He Himself has chosen these winning names to indicate the methods which He has appointed for our salvation. As the Way, He will guide us to the Truth; the Truth will establish us in the Life. And therefore it is all-important for us to know what is the mysterious mode, which He reveals, of attaining this life. No man cometh to the Rather but through Me. The way to the Father is through the Son. And now we must enquire whether this is to be by a course of obedience to His teaching, or by faith in His Godhead. For it is conceivable that our way to the Father may be through adherence to the Son's teaching, rather than through believing that the Godhead of the Father dwells in the Son. And therefore let us, in the next place, seek out the true meaning of the instruction given us here. For it is not by cleaving to a preconceived opinion, but by studying the force of the words, that we shall enter into possession of this faith.
34. The words which follow those last cited are, If ye know Me, ye know My Father also. It is the Man, Jesus Christ, Whom they behold. How can a knowledge of Him be a knowledge of the Father? For the Apostles see Him wearing the aspect of that human nature which belongs to Him; but God is not encumbered with body and flesh, and is incognisable by those who dwell in our weak and fleshly body. The answer is given by the Lord, Who asserts that under the flesh, which, in a mystery, He had taken, His Father's nature dwells within Him. He sets the facts in their due order thus;—If ye know Me, ye know My Father also; and from henceforth ye shall know Him, and have seen Him. He makes a distinction between the time of sight, and the time of knowledge. He says that from henceforth they shall know Him Whom they had already seen; and so shall possess. from the time of this revelation on-war I. the knowledge of that nature, on which, in Him, they long had gazed.
35. But the novel sound of these words disturbed the Apostle Philip. A Man is before their eyes; this Man avows Himself the Son of God, and declares that when they have known Him they will know the Father. He tells them that they have seen the Father, and that, because they have seen Him, they shall know Him hereafter. This truth is too broad for the grasp of weak humanity; their faith fails in the presence of these paradoxes. Christ says that the Father has been seen already and shall now be known; and this, although sight, is knowledge. He says that if the Son has been known, the Father has been known also; and this though the Son has imparted knowledge of Himself through the bodily senses of sight and sound, while the Father's nature, different altogether from that of the visible Man, which they know, could not be learnt from their knowledge of the nature of Him Whom they have seen. He has also often borne witness that no man has seen the Father. And so Philip broke forth, with the loyalty and confidence of an Apostle, with the request, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us. He was not tampering with the faith; it was but a mistake made in ignorance. For the Lord had said that the Father had been seen already and henceforth should be known but the Apostle had not understood that He had been seen. Accordingly he did not deny that the Father had been seen, but asked to see Him. He did not ask that the Father should be unveiled to his bodily gaze, but that he might have such an indication as should enlighten him concerning the Father Who had been seen. For he had seen the Son under the aspect of Man, but cannot understand how he could thereby have seen the Father. His adding, And it sufficeth us, to the prayer, Lard, shew us the Father, reveals clearly that it was a mental, not a bodily vision of the Father which he desired. He did not refuse faith to the Lord's words, but asked for such enlightenment to his mind as should enable him to believe; for the fact that the Lord had spoken was conclusive evidence to the Apostle that faith was his duty. The consideration which moved him to ask that the Father might be shewn, was that the Son had said that He had been seen, and should be known because He had been seen. There was no presumption in this prayer that He, Who had already been seen, should now be made manifest.
36. And therefore the Lord answered Philip thus;—Have I been so long time with you, and ye have not known Me, Philip? He rebukes the Apostle for defective knowledge of Himself; for previously He had said that when He was known the Father was known also. But what is the meaning of this complaint that for so long they had not known Him? It means this; that if they had known Him, they must have recognised in Him the Godhead which belongs to His Father's nature. For His works were the peculiar works of God. He walked upon the waves, commanded the winds, manifestly, though none could tell how, changed the water into wine and multiplied the loaves, put devils to flight, healed diseases, restored injured limbs and repaired the defects of nature, forgave sins and raised the dead to life. And all this He did while wearing flesh; and He accompanied the works with the assertion that He was the Son of God. Hence it is that He justly complains that they did not recognise in His mysterious human birth and life the action of the nature of God, performing these deeds through the Manhood which He had assumed.
37. And therefore the Lord reproached them that they had not known Him, though He had so long been doing these works, and answered their prayer that He would shew them the Father by saying, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also. He was not speaking of a bodily manifestation, of perception by the eye of flesh, but by that eye of which He had once spoken;—Say not ye, There are yet four months, and then cometh harvest? Behold, I say unto you, Lift up your eyes and look an the fields; for they are white to harvest. The season of the year, the fields white to harvest are allusions equally incompatible with an earthly and visible prospect. He was bidding them lift the eyes of their understanding to contemplate the bliss of the final harvest. And so it is with His present words, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also. It was not the carnal body, which He had received by birth from the Virgin, that could manifest to them the image and likeness of God. The human aspect which He wore could be no aid towards the mental vision of the incorporeal God. But God was recognised in Christ, by such as recognised Christ as the Son on the evidence of the powers of His Divine nature; and a recognition of God the Son produces a recognition of God the Father. For the Son is in such a sense the Image, as to be One in kind with the Father, and yet to indicate that the Father is His Origin. Other images, made of metals or colours or other materials by various arts, reproduce the appearance of the objects which they represent. Yet can lifeless copies be put on a level with their living originals? Painted or carved or molten effigies with the nature which they imitate? The Son is not the Image of the Father after such a fashion as this; He is the living Image of the Living. The Son that is born of the Father has a nature in no wise different from His; and, because His nature is not different, He possesses the power of that nature which is the same as His own. The fact that He is the Image proves that God the Father is the Author of the birth of the Only-begotten, Who is Himself revealed as the Likeness and Image of the invisible God. And hence the likeness, which is joined in union with the Divine nature, is indelibly His, because the powers of that nature are inalienably His own.
38. Such is the meaning of this passage, Have I been so long time with you, and ye have not known Me, Philip? He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also. How sayest thou, Shew us the Father? Dost thou not believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? It is only the Word of God, of Whom we men are enabled, in our discourse concerning Divine things, to reason. All else that belongs to the Godhead is dark and difficult, dangerous and obscure. If any man propose to express what is known in other words than those supplied by God, he must inevitably either display his own ignorance, or else leave his readers' minds in utter perplexity. The Lord, when He was asked to shew the Father, said, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also. He that would alter this is an antichrist, he that would deny it is a Jew, he that is ignorant a Pagan. If we find ourselves in difficulty, let us lay the fault to our own reason; if God's declaration seem involved in obscurity, let us assume that our want of faith is the cause. These words state with precision that God is not solitary, and yet that there are no differences within the Divine nature. For the Father is seen in the Son, and this could be the case neither if He were a lonely Being, nor yet if He were unlike the Son. it is through the Son that the Father is seen: and this mystery which the Son reveals is that They are One God, but not one Person. What other meaning can you attach to this saying of the Lord's, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also? This is no case of identity; the use of the conjunction also shews that the Father is named in addition to the Son. These words, The Father also, are incompatible with the notion of an isolated and single Person. No conclusion is possible but that the Father was made visible through the Son, because They are One and are alike in nature. And, lest our faith in this regard should be left in any doubt, the Lord proceeded, How safest thou, Shew us the Father? The Father had been seen in the Son; how then could men be ignorant of the Father? What need could there be for Him to be shewn?
39. Again, the unity of Begetter and Begotten, manifested in sameness of nature and true oneness of kind, proves that the Father was seen in His true nature. And this is shewn by the Lord's next words, Believe not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me? In no other words than these, which the Son has used, can the fact be state that Father and Son, being alike in nature, are inseparable. The Son, Who is the Way and the Truth and the Life, is not deceiving us by some theatrical transformation of names and aspects, when He, while wearing Manhood, styles Himself the Son of God. He is not falsely concealing the fact that He is God the Father; He is not a single Persons Who hides His features under a mask, that we may imagine that Two are present. He is not a solitary Being, now posing as His own Son, and again calling Himself the Father; tricking out one unchanging nature with varying names. Far removed from this is the plain honesty of the words. The Father is the Father, and the Son is the Son. But these names, and the realities which they represent, contain no innovation upon the Divine nature, nothing inconsistent, nothing alien. For the Divine nature, being true to itself, persists in being itself; that which is from God is God. The Divine birth imports neither diminution nor difference into the Godhead, for the Son is born into, and subsists with, a nature that is within the Divine nature and is like to it, and the Father sought out no alien element to be mingled in the nature of His Only-begotten Son, but endowed Him with all things that are His own, and this without loss to the Giver. And thus the Son is not destitute of the Divine nature, for, being God, He is from God and from none other; and He is not different from God, but is indeed nothing else than God, for that which is begotten from God is the Son, and the Son only, and the Divine nature, in receiving birth as a Son, has not forfeited its Divinity. Thus the Father is in the Son, the Son is in the Father, God is in God. And this is not by the combination of two harmonious, though different, kinds of being, nor by the incorporating power of an ampler substance exercised upon a lesser; for the properties of matter make it impossible that things which enclose others should also be enclosed by them. It is by the birth of living nature from living nature. The substance remains the same, birth causes no deterioration in the Divine nature; God is not born from God to be ought else than God. Herein is no innovation, no estrangement, no division. It is sin to believe that Father and Son are two Gods, sacrilege to assert that Father and Son are one solitary God, blasphemy to deny the unity, consisting in sameness of kind. of God from God.
40. Lest they, whose faith conforms to the Gospel, should regard this mystery as something vague and obscure, the Lord has expounded it in this order;—Dost thou not believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself, but the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth His works. In what other words than these could, or can, the possession of the Divine nature by Father and Son be declared, consistently with prominence for the Son's birth? When He says, The words that I speak unto you I speak not of Myself, He neither suppresses His personality, nor denies His Sonship, nor conceals the presence in Himself of His Father's Divine nature. While speaking of Himself—and that He does so speak is proved by the pronoun I—He speaks as abiding in the Divine substance; while speaking not of Himself, He bears witness to the birth which took place in Him of God from God His Father. And He is inseparable and indistinguishable in unity of nature from the Father; for He speaks, though He speaks not of Himself. He Who speaks, though He speak not of Himself, necessarily exists, inasmuch as He speaks; and, inasmuch as He speaks not of Himself, He makes it manifest that His words are not His own. For He has added, But the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth His works. That the Father dwells in the Son proves that the Father is not isolated and alone; that the Father works through the Son proves that the Son is not an alien or a stranger. There cannot be one Person only, for He speaks not of Himself; and, conversely, They cannot be separate and divided when the One speaks through the voice of the Other. These words are the revelation of the mystery of Their unity. And again, They Two are not different One from the Other, seeing that by Their inherent nature Each is in the Other; and They are One, seeing that He, Who speaks, speaks not of Himself, and He, Who speaks not of Himself, yet does speak. And then, having taught that the Father both spoke and wrought in Him, the Son establishes this perfect unity as the rule of our faith;—But the Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth His works. Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me; or else believe far the very works' sake. The Father works in the Son; but the Son also works the works of His Father.
41. And so, lest we should believe and say that the Father works in the Son through His own omnipotent energy, and not through the Son's possession, as His birthright, of the Divine nature, Christ says, Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. What means this, Believe Me? Clearly it refers back to the previous, Shew us the Father. Their faith—that faith which had demanded that the Father should be shewn—is confirmed by this command to believe. He was not satisfied with saying, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also. He goes further, and expands our knowledge, so that we can contemplate the Father in the Son, remembering meanwhile that the Son is in the Father. Thus He would save us from the error of imagining a reciprocal emanation of the One into the Other, by teaching Their unity in the One nature through birth given and received. The Lord would have us take Him at His word, lest our hold upon the faith be shaken by His condescension in assuming Humanity. If His flesh, His body, His passion seem to make His Godhead doubtful, let us at least believe, on the evidence of the works, that God is in God and God is flora God, and that They are One. For by the power of Their nature Each is in the Other. The Father loses nothing that is His because it is in the Son, and the Son receives His whole Sonship from the Father. Bodily natures are not created after such a fashion that they mutually contain each other, or possess the perfect unity of one abiding nature. In their case it would be impossible that an Only-begotten Son could exist eternally, inseparable from the true Divine nature of His Father. Yet this is the peculiar property of God the Only-begotten, this the faith revealed in the mystery of His true birth, this the work of the Spirit's power, that to be, and to be in God, is for Christ the same thing; and that this being in God is not the presence of one thing within another, as a body inside another body, but that the life and subsistence of Christ is such that He is within the subsisting God, and within Him, yet having a subsistence of His own. For Each subsists in such wise as not to exist apart from the Other, since They are Two through birth given and received, and therefore only one Divine nature exists. This is the meaning of the words, I and the Father are One, and He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father also, and I in the Father and the Father in Me. They tell us that the Son Who is born is not different or inferior to the Father; that His possession, by right of birth, of the Divine nature as Son of God, and therefore nothing else than God, is the supreme truth conveyed in the mysterious revelation of the One Godhead in Father and Son. And therefore the doctrine of the generation of the Only- begotten is guiltless of ditheism, for the Son of God, in being born into the Godhead, manifested in Himself the nature of God His Begetter.
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/IX, Schaff and Wace). The digital version is by The Electronic Bible Society, P.O. Box 701356, Dallas, TX 75370, 214-407-WORD.