Writings of Gregory of Nyssa - Against Eunomius - Book IV

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Translated, with prolegomena, notes, and indices,

by William Moore, M.A., Rector of Appleton,
Late Fellow of Magdalen College, Oxford;

and Henry Austin Wilson, M.A.,
Fellow and librarian of Magdalen College, Oxford.

Edited by Henry Wace,
Kings College, London, 6th November, 1892.

Against Eunomius.

Book IV.


1. The fourth book discusses the account of the nature of the "product of generation," and of the passionless generation of the Only-Begotten, and the text, "In the beginning was the Word," and the birth of the Virgin.

It is, perhaps, time to examine in our discourse that account of the nature of the "product of generation" which is the subject of his ridiculous philosophizing. He says, then (I will repeat word for word his beautifully composed argument against the truth):--"Who is so indifferent and inattentive to the nature of things as not to know, that of all bodies which are on earth, in their generating and being generated, in their activity and passivity, those which generate are found on examination to communicate their own essence, and those which are generated naturally receive the same, inasmuch as the material cause and the supply which flows in from without are common to both; and the things begotten are generated by passion, and those which beget, naturally have an action which is not pure, by reason of their nature being linked with passions of all kinds?" See in what fitting style he discusses in his speculation the pre-temporal generation of the Word of God that was in the beginning! he who closely examines the nature of things, bodies on the earth, and material causes, and passion of things generating and generated, and all the rest of it,--at which any man of understanding would blush, even were it said of ourselves, if it were our nature, subject as it is to passion, which is thus exposed to scorn by his words. Yet such is our author's brilliant enquiry into nature with regard to the Only-begotten God. Let us lay aside complaints, however, (for what will sighing do to help us to overthrow the malice of our enemy?) and make generally known, as best we may, the sense of what we have quoted--concerning what sort of "product" the speculation was proposed,--that which exists according to the flesh, or that which is to be contemplated in the Only-begotten God.

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As the speculation is two-fold, concerning that life which is Divine, simple, and immaterial, and concerning that existence which is material and subject to passion, and as the word "generation" is used of both, we must needs make our distinction sharp and clear, lest the ambiguity of the term "generation" should in any way pervert the truth. Since, then, the entrance into being through the flesh is material, and is promoted by passion, while that which is bodiless, impalpable, without form, and free from any material commixture, is alien from every condition that admits of passion, it is proper to consider about what sort of generation we are enquiring--that which is pure and Divine, or that which is subject to passion and pollution. Now, no one, I suppose, would deny that with regard to the Only-begotten God, it is pre-temporal existence that is proposed for the consideration [605] of Eunomius' discourse. Why, then, does he linger over this account of corporeal nature, defiling our nature by the loathsome presentment of his argument, and setting forth openly the passions that gather round human generation, while he deserts the subject set before him? for it was not about this animal generation, that is accomplished by means of the flesh, that we had any need to learn. Who is so foolish, when he looks on himself, and considers human nature in himself, as to seek another interpreter of his own nature, and to need to be told all the unavoidable passions which are included in the thought of bodily generation--that he who begets is affected in one way, that which is begotten in another--so that the man should learn from this instruction that he himself begets by means of passion, and that passion was the beginning of his own generation? For it is all the same whether these things are passed over or spoken, and whether one publishes these secrets at length, or keeps hidden in silence things that should be left unsaid, we are not ignorant of the fact that our nature progresses by way of passion. But what we are seeking is that a clear account should be given of the exalted and unspeakable existence of the Only-begotten, whereby He is believed to be of the Father.

Now, while this is the enquiry set before him, our new theologian enriches his discourse with "flowing," and "passion," and "material cause," and some "action" which "is not pure" from pollution, and all other phrases of this kind [606] . I know not under what influence it is that he who says, in the superiority of his wisdom, that nothing incomprehensible is left beyond his own knowledge, and promises to explain the unspeakable generation of the Son, leaves the question before him, and plunges like an eel into the slimy mud of his arguments, after the fashion of that Nicodemus who came by night, who, when our Lord was teaching him of the birth from above, rushed in thought to the hollow of the womb, and raised a doubt how one could enter a second time into the womb, with the words, "How can these things be? [607] " thinking that he would prove the spiritual birth impossible, by the fact that an old man could not again be born within his mother's bowels. But the Lord corrects his erroneous idea, saying that the properties of the flesh and the spirit are distinct. Let Eunomius also, if he will, correct himself by the like reflection. For he who ponders on the truth ought, I imagine, to contemplate his subject according to its own properties, not to slander the immaterial by a charge against things material. For if a man, or a bull, or any other of those things which are generated by the flesh, is not free from passion in generating or being generated, what has this to do with that Nature which is without passion and without corruption? The fact that we are mortal is no objection to the immortality of the Only-begotten, nor does men's propensity to vice render doubtful the immutability that is found in the Divine Nature, nor is any other of our proper attributes transferred to God; but the peculiar nature of the human and the Divine life is separated, and without common ground, and their distinguishing properties stand entirely apart, so that those of the latter are not apprehended in the former, nor, conversely, those of the former in the latter.

How comes it, therefore, that Eunomius, when the Divine generation is the subject for discourse, leaves his subject, and discusses at length the things of earth, when on this matter we have no dispute with him? Surely our craftsman's aim is clear,--that by the slanderous insinuation of passion he may raise an objection to the generation of the Lord. And here I pass by the blasphemous nature of his view, and admire the man for his acuteness,--how mindful he is of his own zealous endeavour, who, having by his previous statements established the theory that the Son must be, and must be called, a "product of generation," now contends for the view that we ought not to entertain regarding Him the conception of generation. For, if all generation, as this author imagines, has linked with it the condition of passion, we are hereby absolutely compelled to admit that what is foreign to passion is alien also from generation: for if these things, passion and generation, are considered as conjoined, He that has no share in the one would not have any participation in the other. How then does he call Him a "product" by reason of His generation, of Whom he tries to show by the arguments he now uses, that He was not generated? and for what cause does he fight against our master [608] , who counsels us in matters of Divine doctrine not to presume in name-making, but to confess that He is generated without transforming this conception into the formula of a name, so as to call Him Who is generated "a product of generation," as this term is properly applied in Scripture to things inanimate, or to those which are mentioned "as a figure of wickedness [609] "? When we speak of the propriety of avoiding the use of the term "product," he prepares for action that invincible rhetoric of his, and takes also to support him his frigid grammatical phraseology, and by his skilful misuse of names, or equivocation, or whatever one may properly call his processes--by these means, I say, he brings his syllogisms to their conclusion, "not refusing to call Him Who is begotten by the name of `product of generation.'" Then, as soon as we admit the term, and proceed to examine the conception involved in the name, on the theory that thereby is vindicated the community of essence, he again retracts his own words, and contends for the view that the "product of generation" is not generated, raising an objection by his foul account of bodily generation, against the pure and Divine and passionless generation of the Son, on the ground that it is not possible that the two things, the true relationship to the Father, and exemption of His nature from passion, should be found to coincide in God, but that, if there were no passion, there would be no generation, and that, if one should acknowledge the true relationship, he would thereby, in admitting generation, certainly admit passion also.

Not thus speaks the sublime John, not thus that voice of thunder which proclaims the mystery of the Theology, who both names Him Son of God and purges his proclamation from every idea of passion. For behold how in the very beginning of his Gospel he prepares our ears, how great forethought is shown by the teacher that none of his hearers should fall into low ideas on the subject, slipping by ignorance into any incongruous conceptions. For in order to lead the untrained hearing as far away as possible from passion, he does not speak in his opening words of "Son," or "Father," or "generation," that no one should either, on hearing first of all of a "Father," be hurried on to the obvious signification of the word, or, on learning the proclamation of a "Son," should understand that name in the ordinary sense, or stumble, as at a "stone of stumbling [610] ," at the word "generation"; but instead of "the Father," he speaks of "the Beginning": instead of "was begotten," he says "was": and instead of "the Son," he says "the Word": and declares "In the Beginning was the Word [611] ." What passion, pray, is to be found in these words, "beginning," and "was," and "Word"? Is "the beginning" passion? does "was" imply passion? does "the Word" exist by means of passion? Or are we to say, that as passion is not to be found in the terms used, so neither is affinity expressed by the proclamation? Yet how could the Word's community of essence, and real relationship, and coeternity with the Beginning, be more strongly shown by other words than by these? For he does not say, "Of the Beginning was begotten the Word," that he may not separate the Word from the Beginning by any conception of extension in time, but he proclaims together with the Beginning Him also Who was in the Beginning, making the word "was" common to the Beginning and to the Word, that the Word may not linger after the Beginning, but may, by entering in together with the faith as to the Beginning, by its proclamation forestall our hearing, before this admits the Beginning itself in isolation. Then he declares, "And the Word was with God." Once more the Evangelist fears for our untrained state, once more he dreads our childish and untaught condition: he does not yet entrust to our ears the appellation of "Father," lest any of the more carnally minded, learning of "the Father," may be led by his understanding to imagine also by consequence a mother. Neither does he yet name in his proclamation the Son; for he still suspects our customary tendency to the lower nature, and fears lest any, hearing of the Son, should humanize the Godhead by an idea of passion. For this reason, resuming his proclamation, he again calls him "the Word," making this the account of His nature to thee in thine unbelief. For as thy word proceeds from thy mind, without requiring the intervention of passion, so here also, in hearing of the Word, thou shalt conceive that which is from something, and shalt not conceive passion. Hence, once more resuming his proclamation, he says, "And the Word was with God." O, how does he make the Word commensurate with God! rather, how does he extend the infinite in comparison with the infinite! "The Word was with God"--the whole being of the Word, assuredly, with the whole being of God. Therefore, as great as God is, so great, clearly, is the Word also that is with Him; so that if God is limited, then will the Word also, surely, be subject to limitation. But if the infinity of God exceeds limit, neither is the Word that is contemplated with Him comprehended by limits and measures. For no one would deny that the Word is contemplated together with the entire Godhead of the Father, so that he should make one part of the Godhead appear to be in the Word, and another destitute of the Word. Once more the spiritual voice of John speaks, once more the Evangelist in his proclamation takes tender care for the hearing of those who are in childhood: not yet have we so much grown by the hearing of his first words as to hear of "the Son," and yet remain firm without being moved from our footing by the influence of the wonted sense. Therefore our herald, crying once more aloud, still proclaims in his third utterance "the Word," and not "the Son," saying, "And the Word was God." First he declared wherein He was, then with whom He was, and now he says what He is, completing, by his third repetition, the object of his proclamation. For he says, "It is no Word of those that are readily understood, that I declare to you, but God under the designation of the Word." For this Word, that was in the Beginning, and was with God, was not anything else besides God, but was also Himself God. And forthwith the herald, reaching the full height of his lofty speech, declares that this God Whom his proclamation sets forth is He by Whom all things were made, and is life, and the light of men, and the true light that shineth in darkness, yet is not obscured by the darkness, sojourning with His own, yet not received by His own: and being made flesh, and tabernacling, by means of the flesh, in man's nature. And when he has first gone through this number and variety of statements, he then names the Father and the Only-begotten, when there can be no danger that what has been purified by so many precautions should be allowed, in consequence of the sense of the word "Father," to sink down to any meaning tainted with pollution, for, "we beheld His glory," he says, "the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father."

Repeat, then, Eunomius, repeat this clever objection of yours to the Evangelist: "How dost thou give the name of `Father' in thy discourse, how that of Only-begotten, seeing that all bodily generation is operated by passion?" Surely truth answers you on his behalf, that the mystery of theology is one thing, and the physiology of unstable bodies is another. Wide is the interval by which they are fenced off one from the other. Why do you join together in your argument what cannot blend? how do you defile the purity of the Divine generation by your foul discourse? how do you make systems for the incorporeal by the passions that affect the body? Cease to draw your account of the nature of things above from those that are below. I proclaim the Lord as the Son of God, because the gospel from heaven, given through the bright cloud, thus proclaimed Him; for "This," He saith, "is My beloved Son [612] ." Yet, though I was taught that He is the Son, I was not dragged down by the name to the earthly significance of "Son," but I both know that He is from the Father and do not know that He is from passion. And this, moreover, I will add to what has been said, that I know even a bodily generation which is pure from passion, so that even on this point Eunomius' physiology of bodily generation is proved false, if, that is to say, a bodily birth can be found which does not admit passion. Tell me, was the Word made flesh, or not? You would not, I presume, say that It was not. It was so made, then, and there is none who denies it. How then was it that "God was manifested in the flesh [613] "? "By birth," of course you will say. But what sort of birth do you speak of? Surely it is clear that you speak of that from the virginity, and that "that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Ghost [614] ," and that "the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, and she brought forth [615] ," and none the less was her purity preserved in her child-bearing. You believe, then, that that birth which took place from a woman was pure from passion, if you do believe, but you refuse to admit the Divine and incorruptible generation from the Father, that you may avoid the idea of passion in generation. But I know well that it is not passion he seeks to avoid in his doctrine, for that he does not discern at all in the Divine and incorruptible nature; but to the end that the Maker of all creation may be accounted a part of creation, he builds up these arguments in order to a denial of the Only-begotten God, and uses his pretended caution about passion to help him in his task.


Footnotes

[605] Reading, with the older editions, te theori& 139;. Oehler substitutes ten theorian (a variation which seems to give no good sense, unless theoria be translated as "subject of contemplation"), but alleges no ms. authority for the change. [606] Oehler's punctuation seems less clear than that of the older editions, which is here followed. [607] S. John iii. 10 [608] i.e.S. Basil. [609] The reference is to S. Basil's treatise against Eunomius (ii. 7-8; p. 242-4 in the Benedictine ed.). Oehler's punctuation is apparently wrong, for Gregory paraphrases not only the rule, but the reason given for it, from S. Basil, from whom the last words of the sentence are a direct quotation. [610] 1 S. Pet. ii. 8. [611] S. John i. 1 [612] S. Matt. xvii. 5. [613] 1 Tim. iii. 16. Here, as elsewhere in Gregory's writings, it appears that he read theos in this passage. [614] S. Matt. i. 20 [615] S. Luke ii. 6, 7.


2. He convicts Eunomius of having used of the Only-begotten terms applicable to the existence of the earth, and thus shows that his intention is to prove the Son to be a being mutable and created.

And this he shows very plainly by his contention against our arguments, where he says that "the essence of the Son came into being from the Father, not put forth by way of extension, not separated from its conjunction with Him that generated Him by flux or division, not perfected by way of growth, not transformed by way of change, but obtaining existence by the mere will of the Generator." Why, what man whose mental senses are not closed up is left in ignorance by this utterance that by these statements the Son is being represented by Eunomius as a part of the creation? What hinders us from saying all this word for word as it stands, about every single one of the things we contemplate in creation? Let us apply, if you will, the definition to any of the things that appear in creation, and if it does not admit the same sequence, we will condemn ourselves for having examined the definition slightingly, and not with the care that befits the truth. Let us exchange, then, the name of the Son, and so read the definition word by word. We say that the essence of the earth came into being from the Father, not separated by way of extension or division from its conjunction with Him Who generated it, nor perfected by way of growth, nor put forth by way of change, but obtaining existence by the mere will of Him Who generated it. Is there anything in what we have said that does not apply to the existence of the earth? I think no one would say so: for God did not put forth the earth by being extended, nor bring its essence into existence by flowing or by dissevering Himself from conjunction with Himself, nor did He bring it by means of gradual growth from being small to completeness of magnitude, nor was He fashioned into the form of earth by undergoing mutation or alteration, but His will sufficed Him for the existence of all things that were made: "He spake and they were generated [616] ," so that even the name of "generation" does not fail to accord with the existence of the earth. Now if these things may be truly said of the parts of the universe, what doubt is still left as to our adversaries' doctrine, that while, so far as words go, they call Him "Son," they represent Him as being one of the things that came into existence by creation, set before the rest only in precedence of order? just as you might say about the trade of a smith, that from it come all things that are wrought out of iron; but that the instrument of the tongs and hammer, by which the iron is fashioned for use, existed before the making of the rest; yet, while this has precedence of the rest, there is not on that account any difference in respect of matter between the instrument that fashions and the iron that is shaped by the instrument, (for both one and the other are iron,) but the one form is earlier than the other. Such is the theology of heresy touching the Son,--to imagine that there is no difference between the Lord Himself and the things that were made by Him, save the difference in respect of order.

Who that is in any sense classed among Christians admits that the definition [617] of the essence of the parts of the world, and of Him Who made the world, is the same? For my own part I shudder at the blasphemy, knowing that where the definition of things is the same neither is their nature different. For as the definition of the essence of Peter and John and other men is common and their nature is one, in the same way, if the Lord were in respect of nature even as the parts of the world, they must acknowledge that He is also subject to those things, whatever they may be, which they perceive in them. Now the world does not last for ever: thus, according to them, the Lord also will pass away with the heaven and the earth, if, as they say, He is of the same kind with the world. If on the other hand He is confessed to be eternal, we must needs suppose that the world too is not without some part in the Divine nature, if, as they say, it corresponds with the Only-begotten in the matter of creation. You see where this fine process of inference makes the argument tend, like a stone broken off from a mountain ridge and rushing down-hill by its own weight. For either the elements of the world must be Divine, according to the foolish belief of the Greeks, or the Son must not be worshipped. Let us consider it thus. We say that the creation, both what is perceived by the mind, and that which is of a nature to be perceived by sense, came into being from nothing: this they declare also of the Lord. We say that all things that have been made consist by the will of God: this they tell us also of the Only-begotten. We believe that neither the angelic creation nor the mundane is of the essence of Him that made it: and they make Him also alien from the essence of the Father. We confess that all things serve Him that made them: this view they also hold of the Only-begotten. Therefore, of necessity, whatever else it may be that they conceive of the creation, all these attributes they will also attach to the Only-begotten: and whatever they believe of Him, this they will also conceive of the creation: so that, if they confess the Lord as God, they will also deify the rest of the creation. On the other hand, if they define these things to be without share in the Divine nature, they will not reject the same conception touching the Only-begotten also. Moreover no sane man asserts Godhead of the creation. Then neither--I do not utter the rest, lest I lend my tongue to the blasphemy of the enemy. Let those say what consequence follows, whose mouth is well trained in blasphemy. But their doctrine is evident even if they hold their peace. For one of two things must necessarily happen:--either they will depose the Only-begotten God, so that with them He will no more either be, or be called so: or, if they assert Godhead of Him, they will equally assert it of all creation:--or, (for this is still left to them,) they will shun the impiety that appears on either side, and take refuge in the orthodox doctrine, and will assuredly agree with us that He is not created, that they may confess Him to be truly God.

What need is there to take time to recount all the other blasphemies that underlie his doctrine, starting from this beginning? For by what we have quoted, one who considers the inference to be drawn will understand that the father of falsehood, the maker of death, the inventor of wickedness, being created in a nature intellectual and incorporeal, was not by that nature hindered from becoming what he is by way of change. For the mutability of essence, moved either way at will, involves a capacity of nature that follows the impulse of determination, so as to become that to which its determination leads it. Accordingly they will define the Lord as being capable even of contrary dispositions, drawing Him down as it were to a rank equal with the angels, by the conception of creation [618] . But let them listen to the great voice of Paul. Why is it that he says that He alone has been called Son? Because He is not of the nature of angels, but of that which is more excellent. "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, `Thou art My Son, This day have I begotten Thee'? and when again He bringeth the first-begotten into the world He saith, `And let all the angels of God worship Him.' And of the angels He saith, `Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire': but of the Son He saith, `Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom [619] ,'" and all else that the prophecy recites together with these words in declaring His Godhead. And he adds also from another Psalm the appropriate words, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thine hands," and the rest, as far as "But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail [620] ," whereby he describes the immutability and eternity of His nature. If, then, the Godhead of the Only-begotten is as far above the angelic nature as a master is superior to his slaves, how do they make common either with the sensible creation Him Who is Lord of the creation, or with the nature of the angels Him Who is worshipped by them [621] , by detailing, concerning the manner of His existence, statements which will properly apply to the individual things we contemplate in creation, even as we already showed the account given by heresy, touching the Lord, to be closely and appropriately applicable to the making of the earth?


Footnotes

[616] Cf. Ps. xxxiii. 9, and Ps. cxlviii. 5, in LXX. (reading egennethesan). [617] The force of logos here appears to be nearly equivalent to "idea," in the sense of an exact expression of the nature of a thing. Gulonius renders it by "ratio." [618] The argument appears to be this:--The Anomoeans assert, on the ground that He is created, that the Son's essence is trepton, liable to change; where there is the possibility of change, the nature must have a capacity of inclining one way or the other, according to the balance of will determining to which side the nature shall incline: and that this is the condition of the angels may be seen from the instance of the fallen angels, whose nature was inclined to evil by their proairesis. It follows that to say the Son is treptos implies that He is on a level with the angelic nature, and might fall even as the angels fell. [619] Cf. Heb. i. 4, and foll. It is to be noted that Gregory connects palin in v. 6, with eisagage, not treating it, as the A.V. does, as simply introducing another quotation. This appears from his later reference to the text. [620] Cf. Ps. cii. 25, 26. [621] Oehler's punctuation here seems to be unsatisfactory.


3. He then again admirably discusses the term prototokos as it is four times employed by the Apostle.

But that the readers of our work may find no ambiguity left of such a kind as to afford any support to the heretical doctrines, it may be worth while to add to the passages examined by us this point also from Holy Scripture. They will perhaps raise a question from the very apostolic writings which we quoted: "How could He be called `the first-born of creation [622] ' if He were not what creation is? for every first-born is the first-born not of another kind, but of its own: as Reuben, having precedence in respect of birth of those who are counted after him, was the first-born, a man the first-born of men; and many others are called the first-born of the brothers who are reckoned with them." They say then, "We assert that He Who is `the first-born of creation' is of that same essence which we consider the essence of all creation. Now if the whole creation is of one essence with the Father of all, we will not deny that the first-born of creation is this also: but if the God of all differs in essence from the creation, we must of necessity say that neither has the first-born of creation community in essence with God." The structure of this objection is not, I think, at all less imposing in the form in which it is alleged by us, than in the form in which it would probably be brought against us by our adversaries. But what we ought to know as regards this point shall now, so far as we are able, be plainly set forth in our discourse.

Four times the name of "first-born" or "first-begotten" is used by the Apostle in all his writings: but he has made mention of the name in different senses and not in the same manner. For now he speaks of "the first-born of all creation [623] ," and again of "the first-born among many brethren [624] ," then of "the first-born from the dead [625] ;" and in the Epistle to the Hebrews the name of "first-begotten" is absolute, being mentioned by itself: for he speaks thus, "When again He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, `Let all the angels worship Him [626] .'" As these passages are thus distinct, it may be well to interpret each of them separately by itself, how He is the "first-born of creation," how "among many brethren," how "from the dead," and how, spoken of by Himself apart from each of these, when He is again brought into the world, He is worshipped by all His angels. Let us begin then, if you will, our survey of the passages before us with the last-mentioned.

"When again He bringeth in," he says, "the first-begotten into the world." The addition of "again" shows, by the force of this word, that this event happens not for the first time: for we use this word of the repetition of things which have once happened. He signifies, therefore, by the phrase, the dread appearing of the Judge at the end of the ages, when He is seen no more in the form of a servant, but seated in glory upon the throne of His kingdom, and worshipped by all the angels that are around Him. Therefore He Who once entered into the world, becoming the first-born "from the dead," and "of His brethren," and "of all creation," does not, when He comes again into the world as He that judges the world in righteousness [627] , as the prophecy saith, cast off the name of the first-begotten, which He once received for our sakes; but as at the name of Jesus, which is above every name, every knee bows [628] , so also the company of all the angels worships Him Who comes in the name of the First-begotten, in their rejoicing over the restoration of men, wherewith, by becoming the first-born among us, He restored us again to the grace which we had at the beginning [629] . For since there is joy among the angels over those who are rescued from sin, (because until now that creation groaneth and travaileth in pain at the vanity that affects us [630] , judging our perdition to be their own loss,) when that manifestation of the sons of God takes place which they look for and expect, and when the sheep is brought safe to the hundred above, (and we surely--humanity that is to say--are that sheep which the Good Shepherd saved by becoming the first-begotten [631] ,) then especially will they offer, in their intense thanksgiving on our behalf, their worship to God, Who by being first-begotten restored him that had wandered from his Father's home.

Now that we have arrived at the understanding of these words, no one could any longer hesitate as to the other passages, for what reason He is the first-born, either "of the dead," or "of the creation," or "among many brethren." For all these passages refer to the same point, although each of them sets forth some special conception. He is the first-born from the dead, Who first by Himself loosed the pains of death [632] , that He might also make that birth of the resurrection a way for all men [633] . Again, He becomes "the first-born among many brethren," Who is born before us by the new birth of regeneration in water, for the travail whereof the hovering of the Dove was the midwife, whereby He makes those who share with Him in the like birth to be His own brethren, and becomes the first-born of those who after Him are born of water and of the Spirit [634] : and to speak briefly, as there are in us three births, whereby human nature is quickened, one of the body, another in the sacrament of regeneration, another by that resurrection of the dead for which we look, He is first-born in all three:--of the twofold regeneration which is wrought by two (by baptism and by the resurrection), by being Himself the leader in each of them; while in the flesh He is first-born, as having first and alone devised in His own case that birth unknown to nature, which no one in the many generations of men had originated. If these passages, then, have been rightly understood, neither will the signification of the "creation," of which He is first-born, be unknown to us. For we recognize a twofold creation of our nature, the first that whereby we were made, the second that whereby we were made anew. But there would have been no need of the second creation had we not made the first unavailing by our disobedience. Accordingly, when the first creation had waxed old and vanished away, it was needful that there should be a new creation in Christ, (as the Apostle says, who asserts that we should no longer see in the second creation any trace of that which has waxed old, saying, "Having put off the old man with his deeds and his lusts, put on the new man which is created according to God [635] ," and "If any man be in Christ," he says, "he is a new creature: the old things are passed away, behold all things are become new [636] :") --for the maker of human nature at the first and afterwards is one and the same. Then He took dust from the earth and formed man: again, He took dust from the Virgin, and did not merely form man, but formed man about Himself: then, He created; afterwards, He was created: then, the Word made flesh; afterwards, the Word became flesh, that He might change our flesh to spirit, by being made partaker with us in flesh and blood. Of this new creation therefore in Christ, which He Himself began, He was called the first-born, being the first-fruits of all, both of those begotten into life, and of those quickened by resurrection of the dead, "that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living [637] ," and might sanctify the whole lump [638] by means of its first-fruits in Himself. Now that the character of "first-born" does not apply to the Son in respect of His pre-temporal existence the appellation of "Only-begotten" testifies. For he who is truly only-begotten has no brethren, for how could any one be only-begotten if numbered among brethren? but as He is called God and man, Son of God and Son of man,--for He has the form of God and the form of a servant [639] , being some things according to His supreme nature, becoming other things in His dispensation of love to man,--so too, being the Only-begotten God, He becomes the first-born of all creation,--the Only-begotten, He that is in the bosom of the Father, yet, among those who are saved by the new creation, both becoming and being called the first born of the creation. But if, as heresy will have it, He is called first-born because He was made before the rest of the creation, the name does not agree with what they maintain concerning the Only-begotten God. For they do not say this,--that the Son and the universe were from the Father in like manner,--but they say, that the Only-begotten God was made by the Father, and that all else was made by the Only-begotten. Therefore on the same ground on which, while they hold that the Son was created, they call God the Father of the created Being, on the same ground, while they say that all things were made by the Only-begotten God, they give Him the name not of the "first-born" of the things that were made by Him, but more properly of their "Father," as the same relation existing in both cases towards the things created, logically gives rise to the same appellation. For if God, Who is over all, is not properly called the "First-born," but the Father of the Being He Himself created, the Only-begotten God will surely also be called, by the same reasoning, the "father," and not properly the "first-born" of His own creatures, so that the appellation of "first-born" will be altogether improper and superfluous, having no place in the heretical conception.


Footnotes

[622] Cf. Col. i. 15 Prototokos may be, as it is in the Authorized Version, translated either by "first born," or by "first-begotten." Compare with this passage Book II. 8, where the use of the word in Holy Scripture is discussed. [623] Cf. Col. i. 15 [624] Rom. viii. 29. [625] Col. i. 18. [626] Cf. Heb. i. 6 [627] Ps. xcviii. 10. [628] Cf. Phil. ii. 10 [629] Oehler's punctuation, which is probably due to a printer's error, is here a good deal altered. [630] Cf. Rom. viii. 19-23. [631] This interpretation is of course common to many of the Fathers, though S. Augustine, for instance, explains the "ninety and nine" otherwise, and his explanation has been often followed by modern writers and preachers. The present interpretation is assumed in a prayer, no doubt of great antiquity, which is found in the Liturgy of S. James, both in the Greek and the Syriac version, and also in the Greek form of the Coptic Liturgy of S. Basil, where it is said to be "from the Liturgy of S. James." [632] Acts ii. 24. [633] See Book II. 4 and 8, and note on the former passage. [634] With this passage may be compared the parallel passage in Bk. II. 8. The interpretation of the "many brethren" of those baptized suggests that Gregory understood the "predestination" spoken of in Rom. viii. 29 to be predestination to baptism. [635] Cf. Col. iii. 9, and Eph. iv. 24. [636] Cf. 2 Cor. v. 17 [637] Rom. xiv. 9. [638] Cf. Rom. xi. 16 [639] Cf. Phil. ii. 6


4. He proceeds again to discuss the impassibility of the Lord's generation; and the folly of Eunomius, who says that the generated essence involves the appellation of Son, and again, forgetting this, denies the relation of the Son to the Father: and herein he speaks of Circe and of the mandrake poison.

We must, however, return to those who connect passion with the Divine generation, and on this account deny that the Lord is truly begotten, in order to avoid the conception of passion. To say that passion is absolutely linked with generation, and that on this account, in order that the Divine nature may continue in purity beyond the reach of passion, we ought to consider that the Son is alien to the idea of generation, may perhaps appear reasonable in the eyes of those who are easily deceived, but those who are instructed in the Divine mysteries [640] have an answer ready to hand, based upon admitted facts. For who knows not that it is generation that leads us back to the true and blessed life, not being the same with that which takes place "of blood and of the will of the flesh [641] ," in which are flux and change, and gradual growth to perfection, and all else that we observe in our earthly generation: but the other kind is believed to be from God, and heavenly, and, as the Gospel says, "from above [642] ," which excludes the passions of flesh and blood? I presume that they both admit the existence of this generation, and find no passion in it. Therefore not all generation is naturally connected with passion, but the material generation is subject to passion, the immaterial pure from passion. What constrains him then to attribute to the incorruptible generation of the Son what properly belongs to the flesh, and, by ridiculing the lower form of generation with his unseemly physiology, to exclude the Son from affinity with the Father? For if, even in our own case, it is generation that is the beginning of either life,--that generation which is through the flesh of a life of passion, that which is spiritual of a life of purity, (and no one who is in any sense numbered among Christians would contradict this statement,)--how is it allowable to entertain the idea of passion in thinking of generation as it concerns the incorruptible Nature? Let us moreover examine this point in addition to those we have mentioned. If they disbelieve the passionless character of the Divine generation on the ground of the passion that affects the flesh, let them also, from the same tokens, (those, I mean, to be found in ourselves,) refuse to believe that God acts as a Maker without passion. For if they judge of the Godhead by comparison of our own conditions, they must not confess that God either begets or creates; for neither of these operations is exercised by ourselves without passion. Let them therefore either separate from the Divine nature both creation and generation, that they may guard the impassibility of God on either side, and let them, that the Father may be kept safely beyond the range of passion, neither growing weary by creation, nor being defiled by generation, entirely reject from their doctrine the belief in the Only-begotten, or, if they agree [643] that the one activity is exercised by the Divine power without passion, let them not quarrel about the other: for if He creates without labour or matter, He surely also begets without labour or flux.

And here once more I have in this argument the support of Eunomius. I will state his nonsense concisely and briefly, epitomizing his whole meaning. That men do not make materials for us, but only by their art add form to matter,--this is the drift of what he says in the course of a great quantity of nonsensical language. If, then, understanding conception and formation to be included in the lower generation, he forbids on this ground the pure notion of generation, by consequence, on the same reasoning, since earthly creation is busied with the form, but cannot furnish matter together with the form, let him forbid us also, on this ground, to suppose that the Father is a Creator. If, on the other hand, he refuses to conceive creation in the case of God according to man's measure of power, let him also cease to slander Divine generation by human imperfections. But, that his accuracy and circumspection in argument may be more clearly established, I will again return to a small point in his statements. He asserts that "things which are respectively active and passive share one another's nature," and mentions, after bodily generation, "the work of the craftsman as displayed in materials." Now let the acute hearer mark how he here fails in his proper aim, and wanders about among whatever statements he happens to invent. He sees in things that come into being by way of the flesh the "active and passive conceived, with the same essence, the one imparting the essence, the other receiving it." Thus he knows how to discern the truth with accuracy as regards the nature of existing things, so as to separate the imparter and the receiver from the essence, and to say that each of these is distinct in himself apart from the essence. For he that receives or imparts is surely another besides that which is given or received, so that we must first conceive some one by himself, viewed in his own separate existence, and then speak of him as giving that which he has, or receiving that which he has not [644] . And when he has sputtered out this argument in such a ridiculous fashion, our sage friend does not perceive that by the next step he overthrows himself once more. For he who by his art forms at his will the material before him, surely in this operation acts; and the material, in receiving its form at the hand of him who exercises the art, is passively affected: for it is not by remaining unaffected and unimpressionable that the material receives its form. If then, even in the case of things wrought by art, nothing can come into being without passivity and action concurring to produce it, how can our author think that he here abides by his own words? seeing that, in declaring community of essence to be involved in the relation of action and passion, he seems not only to attest in some sense community of essence in Him that is begotten with Him that begat Him, but also to make the whole creation of one essence [645] with its Maker, if, as he says, the active and the passive are to be defined as mutually akin in respect of nature. Thus, by the very arguments by which he establishes what he wishes, he overthrows the main object of his effort, and makes the glory of the coessential Son more secure by his own contention. For if the fact of origination from anything shows the essence of the generator to be in the generated, and if artificial fabrication (being accomplished by means of action and passion) reduces both that which makes and that which is produced to community of essence, according to his account, our author in many places of his own writings maintains that the Lord has been begotten. Thus by the very arguments whereby he seeks to prove the Lord alien from the essence of the Father, he asserts for Him intimate connexion. For if, according to his account, separation in essence is not observed either in generation or in fabrication, then, whatever he allows the Lord to be, whether "created" or a "product of generation," he asserts, by both names alike, the affinity of essence, seeing that he makes community of nature in active and passive, in generator and generated, a part of his system.

Let us turn however to the next point of the argument. I beg my readers not to be impatient at the minuteness of examination which extends our argument to a length beyond what we would desire. For it is not any ordinary matters on which we stand in danger, so that our loss would be slight if we should hurry past any point that required more careful attention, but it is the very sum of our hope that we have at stake. For the alternative before us is, whether we should be Christians, not led astray by the destructive wiles of heresy, or whether we should be completely swept away into the conceptions of Jews or heathen. To the end, then, that we may not suffer either of these things forbidden, that we may neither agree with the doctrine of the Jews by a denial of the verily begotten Son, nor be involved in the downfall of the idolaters by the adoration of the creature, let us perforce spend some time in the discussion of these matters, and set forth the very words of Eunomius, which run thus:--

"Now as these things are thus divided, one might reasonably say that the most proper and primary essence, and that which alone exists by the operation of the Father, admits for itself the appellations of `product of generation,' `product of making,' and `product of creation':" and a little further on he says, "But the Son alone, existing by the operation of the Father, possesses His nature and His relation to Him that begat Him, without community [646] ." Such are his words. But let us, like men who look on at their enemies engaged in a factious struggle among themselves, consider first our adversaries' contention against themselves, and so proceed to set forth on the other side the true doctrine of godliness. "The Son alone," he says, "existing by the operation of the Father, possesses His nature and His relation to Him that begat Him, without community." But in his previous statements, he says that he "does not refuse to call Him, that is begotten a `product of generation,' as the generated essence itself, and the appellation of Son, make such a relation of words appropriate."

The contradiction existing in these passages being thus evident, I am inclined to admire for their acuteness those who praise this doctrine. For it would be hard to say to which of his statements they could turn without finding themselves at variance with the remainder. His earlier statement represented that the generated essence, and the appellation of "Son," made such a relation of words appropriate. His present system says the contrary:--that "the Son possesses His relation to Him that begat Him without community." If they believe the first statement, they will surely not accept the second: if they incline to the latter, they will find themselves opposed to the earlier conception. Who will stay the combat? Who will mediate in this civil war? Who will bring this discord into agreement, when the very soul is divided against itself by the opposing statements, and drawn in different ways to contrary doctrines? Perhaps we may see here that dark saying of prophecy which David speaks of the Jews--"They were divided but were not pricked at heart [647] ." For lo, not even when they are divided among contrariety of doctrines have they a sense of their discordancy, but they are carried about by their ears like wine-jars, borne around at the will of him who shifts them. It pleased him to say that the generated essence was closely connected with the appellation of "Son": straightway, like men asleep, they nodded assent to his remarks. He changed his statement again to the contrary one, and denies the relation of the Son to Him that begat Him: again his well-beloved friends join in assent to this also, shifting in whatever direction he chooses, as the shadows of bodies change their form by spontaneous mimicry with the motion of the advancing figure, and even if he contradicts himself, accepting that also. This is another form of the drought that Homer tells us of, not changing the bodies of those who drink its poison into the forms of brutes, but acting on their souls to produce in them a change to a state void of reason. For of those men, the tale tells that their mind was sound, while their form was changed to that of beasts, but here, while their bodies remain in their natural state, their souls are transformed to the condition of brutes. And as there the poet's tale of wonder says that those who drank the drug were changed into the forms of various beasts, at the pleasure of her who beguiled their nature, the same thing happens now also from this Circe's cup. For they who drink the deceit of sorcery from the same writing are changed to different forms of doctrine, transformed now to one, now to another. And meanwhile these very ridiculous people, according to the revised edition of the fable, are still well pleased with him who leads them to such absurdity, and stoop to gather the words he scatters about, as if they were cornel fruit or acorns, running greedily like swine to the doctrines that are shed on the ground, not being naturally capable of fixing their gaze on those which are lofty and heavenly. For this reason it is that they do not see the tendency of his argument to contrary positions, but snatch without examination what comes in their way: and as they say that the bodies of men stupefied with mandrake are held in a sort of slumber and inability to move, so are the senses of these men's souls affected, being made torpid as regards the apprehension of deceit. It is certainly a terrible thing to be held in unconsciousness by hidden guile, as the result of some fallacious argument: yet where it is involuntary the misfortune is excusable: but to be brought to make trial of evil as the result of a kind of forethought and zealous desire, not in ignorance of what will befall, surpasses every extreme of misery. Surely we may well complain, when we hear that even greedy fish avoid the steel when it comes near them unbaited, and take down the hook only when hope of food decoys them to a bait: but where the evil is apparent, to go over of their own accord to this destruction is a more wretched thing than the folly of the fish: for these are led by their greediness to a destruction that is concealed from them, but the others swallow with open mouth the hook of impiety in its bareness, satisfied with destruction under the influence of some unreasoning passion. For what could be clearer than this contradiction--than to say that the same Person was begotten and is a thing created, and that something is closely connected with the name of "Son," and, again, is alien from the sense of "Son"? But enough of these matters.


Footnotes

[640] That is, in the sacramental doctrine with regard to Holy Baptism. [641] S. John i. 13 [642] S. John iii. 3, where anothen may be interpreted either "from above" or as in A.V. [643] Reading ei for eis, according to Oehler's suggestion. [644] It is not quite clear whether any of this passage, or, if so, how much of it, is a direct quotation from Eunomius. Probably only the phrase about the imparting and receiving of the essence is taken from him, the rest of the passage being Gregory's expansion of the phrase into a distinction between the essence and the thing of which it is the essence, so that the thing can be viewed apart from its own essence. [645] homoousion [646] This seems to be the force of akoinoneton: it is clear from what follows that it is to be understood as denying community of essence between the Father and the Son, not as asserting only the unique character alike of the Son and of His relation to the Father. [647] This is the LXX. version of the last part of Ps. xxxv. 15, a rendering with which the Vulgate version practically agrees.


5. He again shows Eunomius, constrained by truth, in the character of an advocate of the orthodox doctrine, confessing as most proper and primary, not only the essence of the Father, but the essence also of the Only-begotten.

It might, however, be useful to look at the sense of the utterance of Eunomius that is set before us in orderly sequence, recurring to the beginning of his statement. For the points we have now examined were an obvious incitement to us to begin our reply with the last passage, on account of the evident character of the contradiction involved in his words.

This, then, is what Eunomius says at the beginning:--

"Now, as these things are thus divided, one might reasonably say that the most proper and primary essence, and that which alone exists by the operation of the Father, admits for itself the appellations of `product of generation,' `product of making,' and `product of creation.'" First, then, I would ask those who are attending to this discourse to bear in mind, that in his first composition he says that the essence of the Father also is "most proper," introducing his statement with these words, "The whole account of our teaching is completed with the supreme and most proper essence." And here he calls the essence of the Only-begotten "most proper and primary." Thus putting together Eunomius' phrases from each of his books, we shall call him himself as a witness of the community of essence, who in another place makes a declaration to this effect, that "of things which have the same appellations, the nature also is not different" in any way. For our self-contradictory friend would not indicate things differing in nature by identity of appellation, but it is surely for this reason, that the definition of essence in Father and Son is one, that he says that the one is "most proper," and that the other also is "most proper." And the general usage of men bears witness to our argument, which does not apply the term "most proper" where the name does not truly agree with the nature. For instance, we call a likeness, inexactly, "a man," but what we properly designate by this name is the animal presented to us in nature. And similarly, the language of Scripture recognizes the appellation of "god" for an idol, and for a demon, and for the belly: but here too the name has not its proper sense; and in the same way with all other cases. A man is said to have eaten food in the fancy of a dream, but we cannot call this fancy food, in the proper sense of the term. As, then, in the case of two men existing naturally, we properly call both equally by the name of man, while if any one should join an inanimate portrait in his enumeration with a real man, one might perhaps speak of him who really exists and of the likeness, as "two men," but would no longer attribute to both the proper meaning of the word, so, on the supposition that the nature of the Only-begotten was conceived as something else than the essence of the Father, our author would not have called each of the essences "most proper." For how could any one signify things differing in nature by identity of names? Surely the truth seems to be made plain even by those who fight against it, as falsehood is unable, even when expressed in the words of the enemy, utterly to prevail over truth. Hence the doctrine of orthodoxy is proclaimed by the mouth of its opponents, without their knowing what they say, as the saving Passion of the Lord for us had been foretold in the case of Caiaphas, not knowing what he said [648] . If, therefore, true propriety of essence is common to both (I mean to the Father and the Son), what room is there for saying that their essences are mutually divergent? Or how is a difference by way of superior power, or greatness, or honour, contemplated in them, seeing that the "most proper" essence admits of no diminution? For that which is whatever it is imperfectly, is not that thing "most properly," be it nature, or power, or rank, or any other individual object of contemplation, so that the superiority of the Father's essence, as heresy will have it, proves the imperfection of the essence of the Son. If then it is imperfect, it is not proper; but if it is "most proper" it is also surely perfect. For it is not possible to call that which is deficient perfect. But neither is it possible, when, in comparing them, that which is perfect is set beside that which is perfect, to perceive any difference by way of excess or defect: for perfection is one in both cases, as in a rule, not showing a hollow by defect, nor a projection by excess. Thus, from these passages Eunomius' advocacy in favour of our doctrine may be sufficiently seen--I should rather say, not his earnestness on our behalf, but his conflict with himself. For he turns against himself those devices whereby he establishes our doctrines by his own arguments. Let us, however, once more follow his writings word for word, that it may be clear to all that their argument has no power for evil except the desire to do mischief.


Footnotes

[648] S. John xi. 51


6. He then exposes argument about the "Generate," and the "product of making," and "product of creation," and shows the impious nature of the language of Eunomius and Theognostus on the "immediate" and "undivided" character of the essence, and its "relation to its creator and maker."

Let us listen, then, to what he says. "One might reasonably say that the most proper and primary essence, and that which alone exists by the operation of the Father, admits for itself the appellations of `product of generation,' `product of making,' and `product of creation.'" Who knows not that what separates the Church from heresy is this term, "product of creation," applied to the Son? Accordingly, the doctrinal difference being universally acknowledged, what would be the reasonable course for a man to take who endeavours to show that his opinions are more true than ours? Clearly, to establish his own statement, by showing, by such proofs as he could, that we ought to consider that the Lord is created. Or omitting this, should he rather lay down a law for his readers that they should speak of matters of controversy as if they were acknowledged facts? For my own part, I think he should take the former course, and perhaps all who possess any share of intelligence demand this of their opponents, that they should, to begin with, establish upon some incontrovertible basis the first principle of their argument, and so proceed to press their theory by inferences. Now our writer leaves alone the task of establishing the view that we should think He is created, and goes on to the next steps, fitting on the inferential process of his argument to this unproved assumption, being just in the condition of those men whose minds are deep in foolish desires, with their thoughts wandering upon a kingdom, or upon some other object of pursuit. They do not think how any of the things on which they set their hearts could possibly be, but they arrange and order their good fortune for themselves at their pleasure, as if it were theirs already, straying with a kind of pleasure among non-existent things. So, too, our clever author somehow or other lulls his own renowned dialectic to sleep, and before giving a demonstration of the point at issue, he tells, as if to children, the tale of this deceitful and inconsequent folly of his own doctrine, setting it forth like a story told at a drinking-party. For he says that the essence which "exists by the operation of the Father" admits the appellation of "product of generation," and of "product of making," and of "product of creation." What reasoning showed us that the Son exists by any constructive operation, and that the nature of the Father remains inoperative with regard to the Personal existence [649] of the Son? This was the very point at issue in the controversy, whether the essence of the Father begat the Son, or whether it made Him as one of the external things which accompany His nature [650] . Now seeing that the Church, according to the Divine teaching, believes the Only-begotten to be verily God, and abhors the superstition of polytheism, and for this cause does not admit the difference of essences, in order that the Godheads may not, by divergence of essence, fall under the conception of number (for this is nothing else than to introduce polytheism into our life)--seeing, I say, that the Church teaches this in plain language, that the Only-begotten is essentially God, very God of the essence of the very God, how ought one who opposes her decisions to overthrow the preconceived opinion? Should he not do so by establishing the opposing statement, demonstrating the disputed point from some acknowledged principle? I think no sensible man would look for anything else than this. But our author starts from the disputed points, and takes, as though it were admitted, matter which is in controversy as a principle for the succeeding argument. If it had first been shown that the Son had His existence through some operation, what quarrel should we have with what follows, that he should say that the essence which exists through an operation admits for itself the name of "product of making"? But let the advocates of error tell us how the consequence has any force, so long as the antecedent remains unestablished. For supposing one were to grant by way of hypothesis that man is winged, there will be no question of concession about what comes next: for he who becomes winged will fly in some way or other, and lift himself up on high above the earth, soaring through the air on his wings. But we have to see how he whose nature is not aerial could become winged, and if this condition does not exist, it is vain to discuss the next point. Let our author, then, show this to begin with, that it is in vain that the Church has believed that the Only-begotten Son truly exists, not adopted by a Father falsely so called, but existing according to nature, by generation from Him Who is, not alienated from the essence of Him that begat Him. But so long as his primary proposition remains unproved, it is idle to dwell on those which are secondary. And let no one interrupt me, by saying that what we confess should also be confirmed by constructive reasoning: for it is enough for proof of our statement, that the tradition has come down to us from our fathers, handed on, like some inheritance, by succession from the apostles and the saints who came after them. They, on the other hand, who change their doctrines to this novelty, would need the support of arguments in abundance, if they were about to bring over to their views, not men light as dust, and unstable, but men of weight and steadiness: but so long as their statement is advanced without being established, and without being proved, who is so foolish and so brutish as to account the teaching of the evangelists and apostles, and of those who have successively shone like lights in the churches, of less force than this undemonstrated nonsense?

Let us further look at the most remarkable instance of our author's cleverness; how, by the abundance of his dialectic skill, he ingeniously draws over to the contrary view the more simple sort. He throws in, as an addition to the title of "product of making," and that of "product of creation," the further phrase, "product of generation," saying that the essence of the Son "admits these names for itself"; and thinks that, so long as he harangues as if he were in some gathering of topers, his knavery in dealing with doctrine will not be detected by any one. For in joining "product of generation" with "product of making," and "product of creation," he thinks that he stealthily makes away with the difference in significance between the names, by putting together what have nothing in common. These are his clever tricks of dialectic; but we mere laymen in argument [651] do not deny that, so far as voice and tongue are concerned, we are what his speech sets forth about us, but we allow also that our ears, as the prophet says, are made ready for intelligent hearing. Accordingly, we are not moved, by the conjunction of names that have nothing in common, to make a confusion between the things they signify: but even if the great Apostle names together wood, hay, stubble, gold, silver, and precious stones [652] , we reckon up summarily the number of things he mentions, and yet do not fail to recognize separately the nature of each of the substances named. So here, too, when "product of generation" and "product of making" are named together, we pass from the sounds to the sense, and do not behold the same meaning in each of the names; for "product of creation" means one thing, and "product of generation" another: so that even if he tries to mingle what will not blend, the intelligent hearer will listen with discrimination, and will point out that it is an impossibility for any one nature to "admit for itself" the appellation of "product of generation," and that of "product of creation." For, if one of these were true, the other would necessarily be false, so that, if the thing were a product of creation, it would not be a product of generation, and conversely, if it were called a product of generation, it would be alienated from the title of "product of creation." Yet Eunomius tells us that the essence of the Son "admits for itself the appellations of `product of generation,' `product of making,' and `product of creation'"!

Does he, by what still remains, make at all more secure this headless and rootless statement of his, in which, in its earliest stage, nothing was laid down that had any force with regard to the point he is trying to establish? or does the rest also cling to the same folly, not deriving its strength from any support it gets from argument, but setting out its exposition of blasphemy with vague details like the recital of dreams? He says (and this he subjoins to what I have already quoted)--"Having its generation without intervention, and preserving indivisible its relation to its Generator, Maker, and Creator." Well, if we were to leave alone the absence of intervention and of division, and look at the meaning of the words as it stands by itself, we shall find that everywhere his absurd teaching is cast upon the ears of those whom he deceives, without corroboration from a single argument. "Its Generator, and Maker, and Creator," he says. These names, though they seem to be three, include the sense of but two concepts, since two of the words are equivalent in meaning. For to make is the same as to create, but generation is another thing distinct from those spoken of. Now, seeing that the result of the signification of the words is to divide the ordinary apprehension of men into different ideas, what argument demonstrates to us that making is the same thing with generation, to the end that we may accommodate the one essence to this difference of terms? For so long as the ordinary significance of the words holds, and no argument is found to transfer the sense of the terms to an opposite meaning, it is not possible that any one nature should be divided between the conception of "product of making," and that of "product of generation." Since each of these terms, used by itself, has a meaning of its own, we must also suppose the relative conjunction in which they stand to be appropriate and germane to the terms. For all other relative terms have their connection, not with what is foreign and heterogeneous, but, even if the correlative term be suppressed, we hear spontaneously, together with the primary word, that which is linked with it, as in the case of "maker," "slave," "friend," "son," and so forth. For all names that are considered as relative to another, present to us, by the mention of them, each its proper and closely connected relationship with that which it declares, while they avoid all mixture of that which is heterogeneous [653] . For neither is the name of "maker" linked with the word "son," nor the term "slave" referred to the term "maker," nor does "friend" present to us a "slave," nor "son" a "master," but we recognize clearly and distinctly the connection of each of these with its correlative, conceiving by the word "friend" another friend; by "slave," a master; by "maker," work; by "son," a father. In the same way, then, "product of generation" has its proper relative sense; with the "product of generation," surely, is linked the generator, and with the "product of creation" the creator; and we must certainly, if we are not prepared by a substitution of names to introduce a confusion of things, preserve for each of the relative terms that which it properly connotes.

Now, seeing that the tendency of the meaning of these words is manifest, how comes it that one who advances his doctrine by the aid of logical system failed to perceive in these names their proper relative sense? But he thinks that he is linking on the "product of generation" to "maker," and the "product of making" to "generator," by saying that the essence of the Son "admits for itself the appellations of `product of generation,' `product of making,' and `product of creation,'" and "preserves indivisible its relation to its Generator, Maker, and Creator." For it is contrary to nature, that a single thing should be split up into different relations. But the Son is properly related to the Father, and that which is begotten to him that begat it, while the "product of making" has its relation to its "maker"; save if one might consider some inexact use, in some undistinguishing way of common parlance, to overrule the strict signification.

By what reasoning then is it, and by what arguments, according to that invincible logic of his, that he wins back the opinion of the mass of men, and follows out at his pleasure this line of thought, that as the God Who is over all is conceived and spoken of both as "Creator" and as "Father," the Son has a close connection with both titles, being equally called both "product of creation" and "product of generation"? For as customary accuracy of speech distinguishes between names of this kind, and applies the name of "generation" in the case of things generated from the essence itself, and understands that of "creation" of those things which are external to the nature of their maker, and as on this account the Divine doctrines, in handing down the knowledge of God, have delivered to us the names of "Father" and "Son," not those of "Creator" and "work," that there might arise no error tending to blasphemy (as might happen if an appellation of the latter kind repelled the Son to the position of an alien and a stranger), and that the impious doctrines which sever the Only-begotten from essential affinity with the Father might find no entrance--seeing all this, I say, he who declares that the appellation of "product of making" is one befitting the Son, will safely say by consequence that the name of "Son" is properly applicable to that which is the product of making; so that, if the Son is a "product of making," the heaven is called "Son," and the individual things that have been made are, according to our author, properly named by the appellation of "Son." For if He has this name, not because He shares in nature with Him that begat Him, but is called Son for this reason, that He is created, the same argument will permit that a lamb, a dog, a frog, and all things that exist by the will of their maker, should be named by the title of "Son." If, on the other hand, each of these is not a Son and is not called God, by reason of its being external to the nature of the Son, it follows, surely, that He Who is truly Son is Son, and is confessed to be God by reason of His being of the very nature of Him that begat Him. But Eunomius abhors the idea of generation, and excludes it from the Divine doctrine, slandering the term by his fleshly speculations. Well, our discourse, in what precedes, showed sufficiently on this point that, as the Psalmist says, "they are afraid where no fear is [654] ." For if it was shown in the case of men that not all generation exists by way of passion, but that that which is material is by passion, while that which is spiritual is pure and incorruptible, (for that which is begotten of the Spirit is spirit and not flesh, and in spirit we see no condition that is subject to passion,) since our author thought it necessary to estimate the Divine power by means of examples among ourselves, let him persuade himself to conceive from the other mode of generation the passionless character of the Divine generation. Moreover, by mixing up together these three names, of which two are equivalent, he thinks that his readers, by reason of the community of sense in the two phrases, will jump to the conclusion that the third is equivalent also. For since the appellation of "product of making," and "product of creation," indicate that the thing made is external to the nature of the maker, he couples with these the phrase, "product of generation," that this too may be interpreted along with those above mentioned. But argument of this sort is termed fraud and falsehood and imposition, not a thoughtful and skilful demonstration. For that only is called demonstration which shows what is unknown from what is acknowledged; but to reason fraudulently and fallaciously, to conceal your own reproach, and to confound by superficial deceits the understanding of men, as the Apostle says, "of corrupt minds [655] ," this no sane man would call a skilful demonstration.

Let us proceed, however, to what follows in order. He says that the generation of the essence is "without intervention," and that it "preserves indivisible its relation to its Generator, Maker, and Creator." Well, if he had spoken of the immediate and indivisible character of the essence, and stopped his discourse there, it would not have swerved from the orthodox view, since we too confess the close connection and relation of the Son with the Father, so that there is nothing inserted between them which is found to intervene in the connection of the Son with the Father, no conception of interval, not even that minute and indivisible one, which, when time is divided into past, present, and future, is conceived indivisibly by itself as the present, as it cannot be considered as a part either of the past or of the future, by reason of its being quite without dimensions and incapable of division, and unobservable, to whichever side it might be added. That, then, which is perfectly immediate, admits we say, of no such intervention; for that which is separated by any interval would cease to be immediate. If, therefore, our author, likewise, in saying that the generation of the Son is "without intervention," excluded all these ideas, then he laid down the orthodox doctrine of the conjunction of Him Who is with the Father. When, however, as though in a fit of repentance, he straightway proceeded to add to what he had said that the essence "preserves its relation to its Generator, Maker, and Creator," he polluted his first statement by his second, vomiting forth his blasphemous utterance upon the pure doctrine. For it is clear that there too his "without intervention" has no orthodox intention, but, as one might say that the hammer is mediate between the smith and the nail, but its own making is "without intervention," because, when tools had not yet been found out by the craft, the hammer came first from the craftsman's hands by some inventive process, not [656] by means of any other tool, and so by it the others were made; so the phrase, "without intervention," indicates that this is also our author's conception touching the Only-begotten. And here Eunomius is not alone in his error as regards the enormity of his doctrine, but you may find a parallel also in the works of Theognostus [657] , who says that God, wishing to make this universe, first brought the Son into existence as a sort of standard of the creation; not perceiving that in his statement there is involved this absurdity, that what exists, not for its own sake, but for the sake of something else, is surely of less value than that for the sake of which it exists: as we provide an implement of husbandry for the sake of life, yet the plough is surely not reckoned as equally valuable with life. So, if the Lord also exists on account of the world, and not all things on account of Him, the whole of the things for the sake of which they say He exists, would be more valuable than the Lord. And this is what they are here establishing by their argument, where they insist that the Son has His relation to His Creator and Maker "without intervention."


Footnotes

[649] hupostasin [650] At a later stage Gregory points out that the idea of creation is involved, if the thing produced is external to the nature of the Maker. [651] This phrase seems to be quoted from Eunomius. The reference to the "prophet" may possibly be suggested by Is. vi. 9-10: but it is more probably only concerned with the words otia and akoen, as applied to convey the idea of mental alertness. [652] Cf. 1 Cor. iii. 12. [653] E.g."A thing made" suggests to us the thought of a "maker," "a maker" the thought of the thing made; and they suggest also a close connection as existing between the two correlative terms of one of which the name is uttered; but neither suggests in the same way any term which is not correlative, or with which it is not, in some manner, in pari materia. [654] Cf. Ps. liii. 6 [655] 2 Tim. iii. 8. [656] It seems necessary for the sense to read ou di' heterou tinos organou, since the force of the comparison consists in the hammer being produced immediately by the smith: otherwise we must understand di' heterou tinos organou to refer to the employment of some tool not properly belonging to the techne of the smith: but even so the parallel would be destroyed. [657] Theognostus, a writer of the third century, is said to have been the head of the Catechetical School at Alexandria, and is quoted by S. Athanasius as an authority against the Arians. An account of his work is to be found in Photius, and this is extracted and printed with the few remaining fragments of his actual writings in the 3rd volume of Routh's Reliquiæ Sacræ.


7. He then clearly and skilfully criticises the doctrine of the impossibility of comparison with the things made after the Son, and exposes the idolatry contrived by Eunomius, and concealed by the terminology of "Son" and "Only-begotten," to deceive his readers.

In the remainder of the passage, however, he becomes conciliatory, and says that the essence "is not compared with any of the things that were made by it and after it [658] ." Such are the gifts which the enemies of the truth offer to the Lord [659] , by which their blasphemy is made more manifest. Tell me what else is there of all things in creation that admits of comparison with a different thing, seeing that the characteristic nature that appears in each absolutely rejects community with things of a different kind [660] ? The heaven admits no comparison with the earth, nor this with the stars, nor the stars with the seas, nor water with stone, nor animals with trees, nor land animals with winged creatures, nor four-footed beasts with those that swim, nor irrational with rational creatures. Indeed, why should one take up time with individual instances, in showing that we may say of every single thing that we behold in the creation, precisely what was thrown to the Only-begotten, as if it were something special--that He admits of comparison with none of the things that have been produced after Him and by Him? For it is clear that everything which you conceive by itself is incapable of comparison with the universe, and with the individual things which compose it; and it is this, which may be truly said of any creature you please, which is allotted by the enemies of the truth, as adequate and sufficient for His honour and glory, to the Only-begotten God! And once more, putting together phrases of the same sort in the remainder of the passage, he dignifies Him with his empty honours, calling Him "Lord" and "Only-begotten": but that no orthodox meaning may be conveyed to his readers by these names, he promptly mixes up blasphemy with the more notable of them. His phrase runs thus:--"Inasmuch," he says, "as the generated essence leaves no room for community to anything else (for it is only-begotten [661] ), nor is the operation of the Maker contemplated as common." O marvellous insolence! as though he were addressing his harangue to brutes, or senseless beings "which have no understanding [662] ," he twists his argument about in contrary ways, as he pleases; or rather he suffers as men do who are deprived of sight; for they too behave often in unseemly ways before the eyes of those who see, supposing, because they themselves cannot see, that they are also unseen. For what sort of man is it who does not see the contradiction in his words? Because it is "generated," he says, the essence leaves other things no room for community, for it is only-begotten; and then when he has uttered these words, really as though he did not see or did not suppose himself to be seen, he tacks on, as if corresponding to what he has said, things that have nothing in common with them, coupling "the operation of the maker" with the essence of the Only-begotten. That which is generated is correlative to the generator, and the Only-begotten, surely, by consequence, to the Father; and he who looks to the truth beholds, in co-ordination with the Son, not "the operation of the maker," but the nature of Him that begat Him. But he, as if he were talking about plants or seeds, or some other thing in the order of creation, sets "the operation of the maker" by the side of the existence [663] of the Only-begotten. Why, if a stone or a stick, or something of that sort, were the subject of consideration, it would be logical to pre-suppose "the operation of the maker"; but if the Only-begotten God is confessed, even by His adversaries, to be a Son, and to exist by way of generation, how do the same words befit Him that befit the lowest portions of the creation? how do they think it pious to say concerning the Lord the very thing which may be truly said of an ant or a gnat? For if any one understood the nature of an ant, and its peculiar ties in reference to other living things, he would not be beyond the truth in saying that "the operation of its maker is not contemplated as common" with reference to the other things. What, therefore, is affirmed of such things as these, this they predicate also of the Only-begotten, and as hunters are said to intercept the passage of their game with holes, and to conceal their design by covering over the mouths of the holes with some unsound and unsubstantial material, in order that the pit may seem level with the ground about it, so heresy contrives against men something of the same sort, covering over the hole of their impiety with these fine-sounding and pious names, as it were with a level thatch, so that those who are rather unintelligent, thinking that these men's preaching is the same with the true faith, because of the agreement of their words, hasten towards the mere name of the Son and the Only-begotten, and step into emptiness in the hole, since the significance of these titles will not sustain the weight of their tread, but lets them down into the pitfall of the denial of Christ. This is why he speaks of the generated essence that leaves nothing room for community, and calls it "Only-begotten." These are the coverings of the hole. But when any one stops before he is caught in the gulf, and puts forth the test of argument, like a hand, upon his discourse, he sees the dangerous downfall of idolatry lying beneath the doctrine. For when he draws near, as though to God and the Son of God, he finds a creature of God set forth for his worship. This is why they proclaim high and low the name of the Only-begotten, that the destruction may be readily accepted by the victims of their deceit, as though one were to mix up poison in bread, and give a deadly greeting to those who asked for food, who would not have been willing to take the poison by itself, had they not been enticed to what they saw. Thus he has a sharp eye to the object of his efforts, at least so far as his own opinion goes. For if he had entirely rejected from his teaching the name of the Son, his falsehood would not have been acceptable to men, when his denial was openly stated in a definite proclamation; but now leaving only the name, and changing the signification of it to express creation, he at once sets up his idolatry, and fraudulently hides its reproach. But since we are bidden not to honour God with our lips [664] , and piety is not tested by the sound of a word, but the Son must first be the object of belief in the heart unto righteousness, and then be confessed with the mouth unto salvation [665] , and those who say in their hearts that He is not God, even though with their mouths they confess Him as Lord, are corrupt and became abominable [666] , as the prophet says,--for this cause, I say, we must look to the mind of those who put forward, forsooth, the words of the faith, and not be enticed to follow their sound. If, then, one who speaks of the Son does not by that word refer to a creature, he is on our side and not on the enemy's; but if any one applies the name of Son to the creation, he is to be ranked among idolaters. For they too gave the name of God to Dagon and Bel and the Dragon, but they did not on that account worship God. For the wood and the brass and the monster were not God.


Footnotes

[658] Oehler's proposal to read "vel invitis libris quod sententia flagitat ton di autou kai met' auton" does not seem necessary. autes and auten refer to ousia, the quotation being made (not verbally) from Eunomius, not from Theognostus, and following apparently the phrase about "preserving the relation," etc. If the clause were a continuation of the quotation from Theognostus, we should have to follow Oehler's proposal. [659] Reading, according to Cotelerius' suggestion, (mentioned with approval by Oehler, though not followed by him,) dorophorousin for doruphorousin [660] That is to say, because there is no "common measure" of the distinct natures. [661] Altering Oehler's punctuation; it is the fact that the essence is monogenes which excludes all other things from community with it. [662] Ps. xxxii. 9. [663] hupostase. [664] Cf. Is. xxix. 13 [665] Cf. Rom. x. 10 [666] Cf. Ps. xiii. 2


8. He proceeds to show that there is no "variance" in the essence of the Father and the Son: wherein he expounds many forms of variation and harmony, and explains the "form," the "seal," and the "express image."

But what need is there in our discourse to reveal his hidden deceit by mere guesses at his intention, and possibly to give our hearers occasions for objection, on the ground that we make these charges against our enemies untruly? For lo, he sets forth to us his blasphemy in its nakedness, not hiding his guile by any veil, but speaking boldly in his absurdities with unrestrained voice. What he has written runs thus:--"We, for our part," he says, "as we find nothing else besides the essence of the Son which admits of the generation, are of opinion that we must assign the appellations to the essence itself, or else we speak of `Son' and `begotten' to no purpose, and as a mere verbal matter, if we are really to separate them from the essence; starting from these names, we also confidently maintain that the essences are variant from each other [667] ."

There is no need, I imagine, that the absurdity here laid down should be refuted by arguments from us. The mere reading of what he has written is enough to pillory his blasphemy. But let us thus examine it. He says that the essences of the Father and the Son are "variant." What is meant by "variant"? Let us first of all examine the force of the term as it is applied by itself [668] , that by the interpretation of the word its blasphemous character may be more clearly revealed. The term "variance" is used, in the inexact sense sanctioned by custom, of bodies, when, by palsy or any other disease, any limb is perverted from its natural co-ordination. For we speak, comparing the state of suffering with that of health, of the condition of one who has been subjected to a change for the worse, as being a "variation" from his usual health; and in the case of those who differ in respect of virtue and vice, comparing the licentious life with that of purity and temperance, or the unjust life with that of justice, or the life which is passionate, warlike, and prodigal of anger, with that which is mild and peaceful--and generally all that is reproached with vice, as compared with what is more excellent, is said to exhibit "variance" from it, because the marks observed in both--in the good, I mean, and the inferior--do not mutually agree. Again, we say that those qualities observed in the elements are "at variance" which are mutually opposed as contraries, having a power reciprocally destructive, as heat and cold, or dryness and moisture, or, generally, anything that is opposed to another as a contrary; and the absence of union in these we express by the term "variation"; and generally everything which is out of harmony with another in their observed characteristics, is said to be "at variance" with it, as health with disease, life with death, war with peace, virtue with vice, and all similar cases.

Now that we have thus analyzed these expressions, let us also consider in regard to our author in what sense he says that the essences of the Father and the Son are "variant from each other." What does he mean by it? Is it in the sense that the Father is according to nature, while the Son "varies" from that nature? Or does he express by this word the perversion of virtue, separating the evil from the more excellent by the name of "variation," so as to regard the one essence in a good, the other in a contrary aspect? Or does he assert that one Divine essence also is variant from another, in the manner of the opposition of the elements? or as war stands to peace, and life to death, does he also perceive in the essences the conflict which so exists among all such things, so that they cannot unite one with another, because the mixture of contraries exerts upon the things mingled a consuming force, as the wisdom of the Proverbs saith of such a doctrine, that water and fire never say "It is enough [669] ," expressing enigmatically the nature of contraries of equal force and equal balance, and their mutual destruction? Or is it in none of these ways that he sees "variance" in the essences? Let him tell us, then, what he conceives besides these. He could not say, I take it, even if he were to repeat his wonted phrase [670] , "The Son is variant from Him Who begat Him"; for thereby the absurdity of his statements is yet more clearly shown. For what mutual relation is so closely and concordantly engrafted and fitted together as that meaning of relation to the Father expressed by the word "Son"? And a proof of this is that even if both of these names be not spoken, that which is omitted is connoted by the one that is uttered, so closely is the one implied in the other, and concordant with it: and both of them are so discerned in the one that one cannot be conceived without the other. Now that which is "at variance" is surely so conceived and so called, in opposition to that which is "in harmony," as the plumb-line is in harmony with the straight line, while that which is crooked, when set beside that which is straight, does not harmonize with it. Musicians also are wont to call the agreement of notes "harmony," and that which is out of tune and discordant "inharmonious." To speak of things as at "variance," then, is the same as to speak of them as "out of harmony." If, therefore, the nature of the Only-begotten God is at "variance," to use the heretical phrase, with the essence of the Father, it is surely not in harmony with it: and inharmoniousness cannot exist where there is no possibility of harmony [671] . For the case is as when, the figure in the wax and in the graying of the signet being one, the wax that has been stamped by the signet, when it is fitted again to the latter, makes the impression on itself accord with that which surrounds it, filling up the hollows and accommodating the projections of the engraving with its own patterns: but if some strange and different pattern is fitted to the engraving of the signet, it makes its own form rough and confused, by rubbing off its figure on an engraved surface that does not correspond with it. But He Who is "in the form of God [672] " has been formed by no impression different from the Father, seeing that He is "the express image" of the Father's Person [673] , while the "form of God" is surely the same thing as His essence. For as, "being made in the form of a servant [674] ," He was formed in the essence of a servant, not taking upon Him the form merely, apart from the essence, but the essence is involved in the sense of "form," so, surely, he who says that He is "in the form of God" signified essence by "form." If, therefore, He is "in the form of God," and being in the Father is sealed with the Father's glory, (as the word of the Gospel declares, which saith, "Him hath God the Father sealed [675] ,"--whence also "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father [676] ,") then "the image of goodness" and "the brightness of glory," and all other similar titles, testify that the essence of the Son is not out of harmony with the Father. Thus by the text cited is shown the insubstantial character of the adversaries' blasphemy. For if things at "variance" are not in harmony, and He Who is sealed by the Father, and displays the Father in Himself, both being in the Father, and having the Father in Himself [677] , shows in all points His close relation and harmony, then the absurdity of the opposing views is hereby overwhelmingly shown. For as that which is at "variance" was shown to be out of harmony, so conversely that which is harmonious is surely confessed beyond dispute not to be at "variance." For as that which is at "variance" is not harmonious, so the harmonious is not at "variance." Moreover, he who says that the nature of the Only-begotten is at "variance" with the good essence of the Father, clearly has in view variation in the good itself. But as for what that is which is at variance with the good--"O ye simple," as the Proverb saith, "understand his craftiness [678] !"


Footnotes

[667] The whole passage is rather obscure, and Oehler's punctuation renders it perhaps more obscure than that which is here adopted. The argument seems to be something like this:--"The generated essence is not compared with any of the things made by it, or after it, because being only-begotten it leaves no room for a common basis of comparison with anything else, and the operation of its maker is also peculiar to itself (since it is immediate, the operation in the case of other things being mediate). The essence of the Son, then, being so far isolated, it is to it that the appellations of gennema, poiema, and ktisma are to be assigned; otherwise the terms `Son' and `Only-begotten' are meaningless. Therefore the Son, being in essence a poiema or ktisma, is alien from the Father Who made or created Him." The word parellachthai, used to express the difference of essence between the Father and the Son, is one for which it is hard to find an equivalent which shall suit all the cases of the use of the word afterwards instanced: the idea of "variation," however, seems to attach to all these cases, and the verb has been translated accordingly. [668] Following Oehler's suggestion and reading eph' heautes. [669] Cf. Prov. xxx. 15 (LXX.). [670] The sense given would perhaps be clearer if we were to read (as Gulonius seems to have done) asunethe for sunethe. This might be interpreted, "He could not say, I take it, even if he uses the words in an unwonted sense, that the Son is at variance with Him Who begat Him." The sunethe would thus be the senses already considered and set aside: and the point would be that such a statement could not be made without manifest absurdity, even if some out-of-the-way sense were attached to the words. As the passage stands, it must mean that even if Eunomius repeats his wonted phrase, that can suggest no other sense of "variance" than those enumerated. [671] The reading of Oehler is here followed: but the sense of the clause is not clear either in his text or in that of the Paris editions. [672] Phil. ii. 6. [673] Heb. i. 3. [674] Phil. ii. 7. [675] S. John vi. 27 [676] S. John xiv. 9 [677] Cf. S. John xiv. 10 [678] Prov. viii. 5 (LXX.).


9. Then, distinguishing between essence and generation, he declares the empty and frivolous language of Eunomius to be like a rattle. He proceeds to show that the language used by the great Basil on the subject of the generation of the Only-begotten has been grievously slandered by Eunomius, and so ends the book.

I will pass by these matters, however, as the absurdity involved is evident; let us examine what precedes. He says that nothing else is found, "besides the essence of the Son, which admits of the generation." What does he mean when he says this? He distinguishes two names from each other, and separating by his discourse the things signified by them, he sets each of them individually apart by itself. "The generation" is one name, and "the essence" is another. The essence, he tells us, "admits of the generation," being therefore of course something distinct from the generation. For if the generation were the essence (which is the very thing he is constantly declaring), so that the two appellations are equivalent in sense, he would not have said that the essence "admits of the generation": for that would amount to saying that the essence admits of the essence, or the generation the generation,--if, that is, the generation were the same thing as the essence. He understands, then, the generation to be one thing, and the essence to be another, which "admits of generation": for that which is taken cannot be the same with that which admits it. Well, this is what the sage and systematic statement of our author says: but as to whether there is any sense in his words, let him consider who is expert in judging. I will resume his actual words.

He says that he finds "nothing else besides the essence of the Son which admits of the generation"; that there is no sense in his words however, is clear to every one who hears his statement at all: the task which remains seems to be to bring to light the blasphemy which he is trying to construct by aid of these meaningless words. For he desires, even if he cannot effect his purpose, to produce in his hearers by this slackness of expression, the notion that the essence of the Son is the result of construction: but he calls its construction "generation," decking out his horrible blasphemy with the fairest phrase, that if "construction" is the meaning conveyed by the word "generation," the idea of the creation of the Lord may receive a ready assent. He says, then, that the essence "admits of generation," so that every construction may be viewed, as it were, in some subject matter. For no one would say that that is constructed which has no existence, so extending "making" in his discourse, as if it were some constructed fabric, to the nature of the Only-begotten God [679] . "If, then," he says, "it admits of this generation,"--wishing to convey some such meaning as this, that it would not have been, had it not been constructed. But what else is there among the things we contemplate in the creation which is without being made? Heaven, earth, air, sea, everything whatever that is, surely is by being made. How, then, comes it that he considered it a peculiarity in the nature of the Only begotten, that it "admits generation" (for this is his name for making) "into its actual essence," as though the humble-bee or the gnat did not admit generation into itself [680] , but into something else besides itself. It is therefore acknowledged by his own writings, that by them the essence of the Only-begotten is placed on the same level with the smallest parts of the creation: and every proof by which he attempts to establish the alienation of the Son from the Father has the same force also in the case of individual things. What need has he, then, for this varied acuteness to establish the diversity of nature, when he ought to have taken the short cut of denial, by openly declaring that the name of the Son ought not to be confessed, or the Only-begotten God to be preached in the churches, but that we ought to esteem the Jewish worship as superior to the faith of Christians, and, while we confess the Father as being alone Creator and Maker of the world, to reduce all other things to the name and conception of the creation, and among these to speak of that work which preceded the rest as a "thing made," which came into being by some constructive operation, and to give Him the title of "First created," instead of Only-begotten and Very Son. For when these opinions have carried the day, it will be a very easy matter to bring doctrines to a conclusion in agreement with the aim they have in view, when all are guided, as you might expect from such a principle, to the consequence that it is impossible that He Who is neither begotten nor a Son, but has His existence through some energy, should share in essence with God. So long, however, as the declarations of the Gospel prevail, by which He is proclaimed as "Son," and "Only-begotten," and "of the Father," and "of God," and the like, Eunomius will talk his nonsense to no purpose, leading himself and his followers astray by such idle chatter. For while the title of "Son" speaks aloud the true relation to the Father, who is so foolish that, while John and Paul and the rest of the choir of the Saints proclaim these words,--words of truth, and words that point to the close affinity,--he does not look to them, but is led by the empty rattle of Eunomius' sophisms to think that Eunomius is a truer guide than the teaching of these who by the Spirit speak mysteries [681] , and who bear Christ in themselves? Why, who is this Eunomius? Whence was he raised up to be the guide of Christians?

But let all this pass, and let our earnestness about what lies before us calm down our heart, that is swollen with jealousy on behalf of the faith against the blasphemers. For how is it possible not to be moved to wrath and hatred, while our God, and Lord, and Life-giver, and Saviour is insulted by these wretched men? If he had reviled my father according to the flesh, or been at enmity with my benefactor, would it have been possible to bear without emotion his anger against those I love? And if the Lord of my soul, Who gave it being when it was not, and redeemed it when in bondage, and gave me to taste of this present life, and prepared for me the life to come, Who calls us to a kingdom, and gives us His commands that we may escape the damnation of hell,--these are small things that I speak of, and not worthy to express the greatness of our common Lord--He that is worshipped by all creation, by things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, by Whom stand the unnumbered myriads of the heavenly ministers, to Whom is turned all that is under rule here, and that has the desire of good--if He is exposed to reviling by men, for whom it is not enough to associate themselves with the party of the apostate, but who count it loss not to draw others by their scribbling into the same gulf with themselves, that those who come after may not lack a hand to lead them to destruction, is there any one [682] who blames us for our anger against these men? But let us return to the sequence of his discourse.

He next proceeds once more to slander us as dishonouring the generation of the Son by human similitudes, and mentions what was written on these points by our father [683] , where he says that while by the word "Son" two things are signified, the being formed by passion, and the true relationship to the begetter, he does not admit in discourses upon things divine the former sense, which is unseemly and carnal, but in so far as the latter tends to testify to the glory of the Only-begotten, this alone finds a place in the sublime doctrines. Who, then, dishonours the generation of the Son by human notions? He who sets far from the Divine generation what belongs to passion and to man, and joins the Son impassibly to Him that begat Him? or he who places Him Who brought all things into being on a common level with the lower creation? Such an idea, however, as it seems,--that of associating the Son in the majesty of the Father,--this new wisdom seems to regard as dishonouring; while it considers as great and sublime the act of bringing Him down to equality with the creation that is in bondage with us. Empty complaints! Basil is slandered as dishonouring the Son, who honours Him even as he honours the Father [684] , and Eunomius is the champion of the Only-begotten, who severs Him from the good nature of the Father! Such a reproach Paul also once incurred with the Athenians, being charged therewith by them as "a setter forth of strange gods [685] ," when he was reproving the wandering among their gods of those who were mad in their idolatry, and was leading them to the truth, preaching the resurrection by the Son. These charges are now brought against Paul's follower by the new Stoics and Epicureans, who "spend their time in nothing else," as the history says of the Athenians, "but either to tell or to hear some new thing [686] ." For what could be found newer than this,--a Son of an energy, and a Father of a creature, and a new God springing up from nothing, and good at variance with good? These are they who profess to honour Him with due honour by saying that He is not that which the nature of Him that begat Him is. Is Eunomius not ashamed of the form of such honour, if one were to say that he himself is not akin in nature to his father, but has community with something of another kind? If he who brings the Lord of the creation into community with the creation declares that he honours Him by so doing, let him also himself be honoured by having community assigned him with what is brute and senseless: but, if he finds community with an inferior nature hard and insolent treatment, how is it honour for Him Who, as the prophet saith, "ruleth with His power for ever [687] ," to be ranked with that nature which is in subjection and bondage? But enough of this.


Footnotes

[679] This whole passage, as it stands in Oehler's text, (which has here been followed without alteration,) is obscure: the connection between the clauses themselves is by no means clear; and the general meaning of the passage, in view of the succeeding sentences, seems doubtful. For it seems here to be alleged that Eunomius considered the kataskeue to imply the previous existence of some material, so to say, which was moulded by generation--on the ground that no one would say that the essence, or anything else, was constructed without being existent. On the other hand it is immediately urged that this is just what would be said of all created things. If the passage might be emended thus:--hin', hosper en hupokeimeno tini pragmati pasa kataskeue theoreitai, (ou gar an tis eipoi kataskeuasthai ho me huphesteken), houtos hoion kataskeuasmati te tou monogenous phusei proteine to logo ten poiesin--we should have a comparatively clear sense--"in order that as all construction is observed in some subject matter, (for no one would say that that is constructed which has not existence) so he may extend the process of `making' by his argument to the nature of the Only-begotten God, as to some product of construction." The force of this would be, that Eunomius is really employing the idea of "receiving generation," to imply that the essence of the Only-begotten is a kataskeuasma: and this, Gregory says, puts him at once on a level with the physical creation. [680] Oehler's punctuation seems faulty here. [681] Cf. 1 Cor. xiv. 2. [682] Reading hara tis for ara tis of Oehler's text. [683] That is, by S. Basil: the reference seems to be to the treatise Adv. Eunomium ii. 24 (p. 260 C. in the Benedictine edition), but the quotation is not exact. [684] Cf. S. John v. 23 [685] Acts xvii. 18. [686] Acts xvii. 21. [687] Ps. lxvi. 6 (LXX.).

.


Book V.


1. The fifth book promises to speak of the words contained in the saying of the Apostle Peter, but delays their exposition. He discourses first of the creation, to the effect that, while nothing therein is deserving of worship, yet men, led astray by their ill-informed and feeble intelligence, and marvelling at its beauty, deified the several parts of the universe. And herein he excellently expounds the passage of Isaiah, "I am God, the first."

It is now, perhaps, time to make enquiry into what is said concerning the words of the Apostle Peter [688] , by Eunomius himself, and by our father [689] concerning the latter. If a detailed examination should extend our discourse to considerable length, the fair-minded reader will no doubt pardon this, and will not blame us for wasting time in words, but lay the blame on him who has given occasion for them. Let me be allowed also to make some brief remarks preliminary to the proposed enquiry: it may be that they too will be found not to be out of keeping with the aim of our discussion.

That no created thing is deserving of man's worship, the divine word so clearly declares as a law, that such a truth may be learned from almost the whole of the inspired Scripture. Moses, the Tables, the Law, the Prophets that follow, the Gospels, the decrees of the Apostles, all alike forbid the act of reverencing the creation. It would be a lengthy task to set out in order the particular passages which refer to this matter; but though we set out only a few from among the many instances of the inspired testimony, our argument is surely equally convincing, since each of the divine words, albeit the least, has equal force for declaration of the truth. Seeing, then, that our conception of existences is divided into two, the creation and the uncreated Nature, if the present contention of our adversaries should prevail, so that we should say that the Son of God is created, we should be absolutely compelled either to set at naught the proclamation of the Gospel, and to refuse to worship that God the Word Who was in the beginning, on the ground that we must not address worship to the creation, or, if these marvels recorded in the Gospels are too urgent for us, by which we are led to reverence and to worship Him Who is displayed in them, to place, in that case, the created and the Uncreated on the same level of honour; seeing that if, according to our adversaries' opinion, even the created God is worshipped, though having in His nature no prerogative above the rest of the creation, and if this view should get the upper hand, the doctrines of religion will be entirely transformed to a kind of anarchy and democratic independence. For when men believe that the nature they worship is not one, but have their thoughts turned away to diverse Godheads, there will be none who will stay the conception of the Deity in its progress through creation, but the Divine element, once recognized in creation, will become a stepping-stone to the like conception in the case of that which is next contemplated, and that again for the next in order, and as a result of this inferential process the error will extend to all things, as the first deceit makes its way by contiguous cases even to the very last.

To show that I am not making a random statement beyond what probability admits of, I will cite as a credible testimony in favour of my assertion the error which still prevails among the heathen [690] . Seeing that they, with their untrained and narrow intelligence, were disposed to look with wonder on the beauties of nature, not employing the things they beheld as a leader and guide to the beauty of the Nature that transcends them, they rather made their intelligence halt on arriving at the objects of its apprehension, and marvelled at each part of the creation severally--for this cause they did not stay their conception of the Deity at any single one of the things they beheld, but deemed everything they looked on in creation to be divine. And thus with the Egyptians, as the error developed its force more in respect of intellectual objects, the countless forms of spiritual beings were reckoned to be so many natures of Gods; while with the Babylonians the unerring circuit of the firmament was accounted a God, to whom they also gave the name of Bel. So, too, the foolishness of the heathen deifying individually the seven successive spheres, one bowed down to one, another to another, according to some individual form of error. For as they perceived all these circles moving in mutual relation, seeing that they had gone astray as to the most exalted, they maintained the same error by logical sequence, even to the last of them. And in addition to these, the æther itself, and the atmosphere diffused beneath it, the earth and sea and the subterranean region, and in the earth itself all things which are useful or needful for man's life,--of all these there was none which they held to be without part or lot in the Divine nature, but they bowed down to each of them, bringing themselves, by means of some one of the objects conspicuous in the creation, into bondage to all the successive parts of the creation, in such a way that, had the act of reverencing the creation been from the beginning even to them a thing evidently unlawful, they would not have been led astray into this deceit of polytheism. Let us look to it, then, lest we too share the same fate,--we who in being taught by Scripture to reverence the true Godhead, were trained to consider all created existence as external to the Divine nature, and to worship and revere that uncreated Nature alone, Whose characteristic and token is that it never either begins to be or ceases to be; since the great Isaiah thus speaks of the Divine nature with reference to these doctrines, in his exalted utterance,--who speaks in the person of the Deity, "I am the first, and hereafter am I, and no God was before Me, and no God shall be after Me [691] ." For knowing more perfectly than all others the mystery of the religion of the Gospel, this great prophet, who foretold even that marvellous sign concerning the Virgin, and gave us the good tidings [692] of the birth of the Child, and clearly pointed out to us that Name of the Son,--he, in a word, who by the Spirit includes in himself all the truth,--in order that the characteristic of the Divine Nature, whereby we discern that which really is from that which came into being, might be made as plain as possible to all, utters this saying in the person of God: "I am the first, and hereafter am I, and before Me no God hath been, and after Me is none." Since, then, neither is that God which was before God, nor is that God which is after God, (for that which is after God is the creation, and that which is anterior to God is nothing, and Nothing is not God;--or one should rather say, that which is anterior to God is God in His eternal blessedness, defined in contradistinction to Nothing [693] ;--since, I say, this inspired utterance was spoken by the mouth of the prophet, we learn by his means the doctrine that the Divine Nature is one, continuous with Itself and indiscerptible, not admitting in Itself priority and posteriority, though it be declared in Trinity, and with no one of the things we contemplate in it more ancient or more recent than another. Since, then, the saying is the saying of God, whether you grant that the words are the words of the Father or of the Son, the orthodox doctrine is equally upheld by either. For if it is the Father that speaks thus, He bears witness to the Son that He is not "after" Himself: for if the Son is God, and whatever is "after" the Father is not God, it is clear that the saying bears witness to the truth that the Son is in the Father, and not after the Father. If, on the other hand, one were to grant that this utterance is of the Son, the phrase, "None hath been before Me," will be a clear intimation that He Whom we contemplate "in the Beginning [694] " is apprehended together with the eternity of the Beginning. If, then, anything is "after" God, this is discovered, by the passages quoted, to be a creature, and not God: for He says, "That which is after Me is not God [695] ."


Footnotes

[688] The words referred to are those in Acts ii. 36. [689] S. Basil: the passages discussed are afterwards referred to in detail. [690] With the following passage may be compared the parallel account in the Book of Wisdom (ch. xiii.). [691] Cf. Is. xli. 4, xliv. 6, xlviii. 12 (LXX.). If the whole passage is intended to be a quotation, it is not made exactly from any one of these; the opening words are from the second passage referred to; and perhaps this is the only portion intended to be a quotation, the second clause being explanatory; the words of the second clause are varied in the repetition immediately afterwards. [692] euangelisamenos [693] pros ouden horizomenos; i.e. before the name of "God" could be applied, as now, in contradistinction to creation, it was applied in contradistinction to nothing, and that distinction was in a sense the definition of God. Or the words may be turned, as Gulonius turns them, "nulla re determinatus," "with no limitation"--the contradistinction to creation being regarded as a limitation by way of definition. [694] S. John i. 1 [695] Taking the whole phrase to met' eme on as a loose quotation.


2. He then explains the phrase of S. Peter, "Him God made Lord and Christ." And herein he sets forth the opposing statement of Eunomius, which he made on account of such phrase against S. Basil, and his lurking revilings and insults.

Now that we have had presented to us this preliminary view of existences, it may be opportune to examine the passage before us. It is said, then, by Peter to the Jews, "Him God made Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified [696] ," while on our part it is said that it is not pious to refer the word "made" to the Divine Nature of the Only-begotten, but that it is to be referred to that "form of a servant [697] ," which came into being by the Incarnation [698] , in the due time of His appearing in the flesh; and, on the other hand, those who press the phrase the contrary way say that in the word "made" the Apostle indicates the pretemporal generation of the Son. We shall, therefore, set forth the passage in the midst, and after a detailed examination of both the suppositions, leave the judgment of the truth to our reader. Of our adversaries' view Eunomius himself may be a sufficient advocate, for he contends gallantly on the matter, so that in going through his argument word by word we shall completely follow out the reasoning of those who strive against us: and we ourselves will act as champion of the doctrine on our side as best we may, following so far as we are able the line of the argument previously set forth by the great Basil. But do you, who by your reading act as judges in the cause, "execute true judgment," as one of the prophets [699] says, not awarding the victory to contentious preconceptions, but to the truth as it is manifested by examination. And now let the accuser of our doctrines come forward, and read his indictment, as in a court of law.

"In addition, moreover, to what we have mentioned, by his refusal to take the word `made' as referring to the essence of the Son, and withal by his being ashamed of the Cross, he ascribes to the Apostles what no one even of those who have done their best to speak ill of them on the score of stupidity, lays to their charge; and at the same time he clearly introduces, by his doctrines and arguments, two Christs and two Lords; for he says that it was not the Word Who was in the beginning Whom God made Lord and Christ, but He Who `emptied Himself to take the form of a servant [700] ,' and `was crucified through weakness [701] .' At all events the great Basil writes expressly as follows [702] :--`Nor, moreover, is it the intention of the Apostle to present to us that existence of the Only-begotten which was before the ages (which is now the subject of our argument), for he clearly speaks, not of the very essence of God the Word, Who was in the beginning with God, but of Him Who emptied Himself to take the form of a servant, and became conformable to the body of our humiliation [703] , and was crucified through weakness.' And again, `This is known to any one who even in a small degree applies his mind to the meaning of the Apostle's words, that he is not setting forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but is introducing the terms which belong to the Incarnation; for he says, Him God made Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified, evidently laying stress by the demonstrative word on that in Him which was human and was seen by all [704] .'

"This, then, is what the man has to say who substitutes,--for we may not speak of it as `application,' lest any one should blame for such madness men holy and chosen for the preaching of godliness, so as to reproach their doctrine with a fall into such extravagance,--who substitutes his own mind [705] for the intention of the Apostles! With what confusion are they not filled, who refer their own nonsense to the memory of the saints! With what absurdity do they not abound, who imagine that the man `emptied himself' to become man, and who maintain that He Who by obedience `humbled himself' to take the form of a servant was made conformable to men even before He took that form upon Him! Who, pray, ye most reckless of men, when he has the form of a servant, takes the form of a servant? and how can any one `empty himself' to become the very thing which he is? You will find no contrivance to meet this, bold as you are in saying or thinking things uncontrivable. Are you not verily of all men most miserable, who suppose that a man has suffered death for all men, and ascribe your own redemption to him? For if it is not of the Word Who was in the beginning and was God that the blessed Peter speaks, but of him who was `seen,' and who `emptied Himself,' as Basil says, and if the man who was seen `emptied Himself' to take `the form of a servant,' and He Who `emptied Himself' to take `the form of a servant,' emptied Himself to come into being as man, then the man who was seen emptied himself to come into being as man [706] . The very nature of things is repugnant to this; and it is expressly contradicted by that writer [707] who celebrates this dispensation in his discourse concerning the Divine Nature, when he says not that the man who was seen, but that the Word Who was in the beginning and was God took upon Him flesh, which is equivalent in other words to taking `the form of a servant.' If, then, you hold that these things are to be believed, depart from your error, and cease to believe that the man `emptied himself' to become man. And if you are not able to persuade those who will not be persuaded, destroy their incredulity by another saying, a second decision against them. Remember him who says, `Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant.' There is none among men who will appropriate this phrase to himself. None of the saints that ever lived was the Only-begotten God and became man:--for that is what it means to `take the form of a servant,' `being in the form of God.' If, then, the blessed Peter speaks of Him Who `emptied Himself' to `take the form of a servant,' and if He Who was `in the form of God' did `empty Himself' to `take the form of a servant,' and if He Who in the beginning was God, being the Word and the Only-begotten God, is He Who was `in the form of God,' then the blessed Peter speaks to us of Him Who was in the beginning and was God, and expounds to us that it was He Who became Lord and Christ. This, then, is the conflict which Basil wages against himself, and he clearly appears neither to have `applied his own mind to the intention of the Apostles', nor to be able to preserve the sequence of his own arguments; for, according to them, he must, if he is conscious of their irreconcilable character, admit that the Word Who was in the beginning and was God became Lord; or if he tries to fit together statements that are mutually conflicting, and contentiously stands by them, he will add to them others yet more hostile, and maintain that there are two Christs and two Lords. For if the Word that was in the beginning and was God be one, and He Who `emptied Himself' and `took the form of a servant' be another, and if God the Word, by Whom are all things, be Lord, and this Jesus, Who was crucified after all things had come into being, be Lord also, there are, according to his view, two Lords and Christs. Our author, then, cannot by any argument clear himself from this manifest blasphemy. But if any one were to say in support of him that the Word Who was in the beginning is indeed the same Who became Lord, but that He became Lord and Christ in respect of His presence in the flesh, He will surely be constrained to say that the Son was not Lord before His presence in the flesh. At all events, even if Basil and his faithless followers falsely proclaim two Lords and two Christs, for us there is one Lord and Christ, by Whom all things were made, not becoming Lord by way of promotion, but existing before all creation and before all ages, the Lord Jesus, by Whom are all things, while all the saints with one harmonious voice teach us this truth and proclaim it as the most excellent of doctrines. Here the blessed John teaches us that God the Word, by Whom all things were made, has become incarnate, saying, `And the Word was made flesh [708] '; here the most admirable Paul, urging those who attend to him to humility, speaks of Christ Jesus, Who was in the form of God, and emptied Himself to take the form of a servant, and was humbled to death, even the death of the Cross [709] ; and again in another passage calls Him Who was crucified `the Lord of Glory': `for had they known it,' he says, `they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory [710] '. Indeed, he speaks far more openly than this of the very essential nature by the name of `Lord,' where he says, `Now the Lord is the Spirit [711] '. If, then, the Word Who was in the beginning, in that He is Spirit, is Lord, and the Lord of glory, and if God made Him Lord and Christ, it was the very Spirit and God the Word that God so made, and not some other Lord Whom Basil dreams about."


Footnotes

[696] Acts ii. 36. [697] Phil. ii. 7. [698] oikonomikos genomenen [699] Zech. vii. 9. [700] Cf. Phil. ii. 7 [701] Cf. 2 Cor. xiii. 4. [702] The quotations are from S. Basil c. Eunomius II. 3. (pp. 239-40 in the Benedictine edition.) [703] Cf. Phil. iii. 21. [704] The latter part of the quotation from S. Basil does not exactly agree with the Benedictine text, but the variations are not material. [705] Reading heautou for the heauton of Oehler's text, for which no authority is alleged by the editor, and which is probably a mere misprint. [706] The argument here takes the form of a reductio ad absurdum; assuming that S. Peter's reference is to the "visible man," and bearing in mind S. Basil's words that S. Peter refers to Him Who "emptied Himself," it is said "then it was the `visible man' who `emptied himself.' But the purpose of that `emptying' was the `taking the form of a servant,' which again is the coming into being as man: therefore the `visible man' `emptied himself,' to come into being as man, which is absurd." The wording of S. Basil's statement makes the argument in a certain degree plausible;--if he had said that S. Peter referred to the Son, not in regard to his actual essence, but in regard to the fact that He "emptied Himself" to become man, and as so having "emptied Himself" (which is no doubt what he intended his words to mean), then the reductio ad absurdum would not apply; nor would the later arguments, by which Eunomius proceeds to prove that He Who "emptied Himself" was no mere man, but the Word Who was in the beginning, have any force as against S. Basil's statement. [707] S. John i. 1 sqq. [708] S. John i. 14 [709] Cf. Phil. ii. 7, 8. [710] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [711] 2 Cor. iii. 17.


3. A remarkable and original reply to these utterances, and a demonstration of the power of the Crucified, and of the fact that this subjection was of the Human Nature, not that which the Only-Begotten has from the Father. Also an explanation of the figure of the Cross, and of the appellation "Christ," and an account of the good gifts bestowed on the Human Nature by the Godhead which was commingled with it.

Well, such is his accusation. But I think it necessary in the first place to go briefly, by way of summary, over the points that he urges, and then to proceed to correct by my argument what he has said, that those who are judging the truth may find it easy to remember the indictment against us, which we have to answer, and that we may be able to dispose of each of the charges in regular order. He says that we are ashamed of the Cross of Christ, and slander the saints, and say that a man has "emptied himself" to become man, and suppose that the Lord had the "form of a servant" before His presence by the Incarnation, and ascribe our redemption to a man, and speak in our doctrine of two Christs and two Lords, or, if we do not do this, then we deny that the Only-begotten was Lord and Christ before the Passion. So that we may avoid this blasphemy, he will have us confess that the essence of the Son has been made, on the ground that the Apostle Peter by his own voice establishes such a doctrine. This is the substance of the accusation; for all that he has been at the trouble of saying by way of abuse of ourselves, I will pass by in silence, as being not at all to the point. It may be that this rhetorical stroke of phrases framed according to some artificial theory is the ordinary habit of those who play the rhetorician, an invention to swell the bulk of their indictment. Let our sophist then use his art to display his insolence, and vaunt his strength in reproaches against us, showing off his strokes in the intervals of the contest; let him call us foolish, call us of all men most reckless, of all men most miserable, full of confusion and absurdity, and make light of us at his good pleasure in any way he likes, and we will bear it; for to a reasonable man disgrace lies, not in hearing one who abuses him, but in making retort to what he says. There may even be some good in his expenditure of breath against us; for it may be that while he occupies his railing tongue in denouncing us he will at all events make some truce in his conflict against God. So let him take his fill of insolence as he likes: none will reply to him. For if a man has foul and loathsome breath, by reason of bodily disorder, or of some pestilential and malignant disease, he would not rouse any healthy person to emulate his misfortune so that one should choose, by himself acquiring disease, to repay, in the same evil kind, the unpleasantness of the man's ill odour. Such men our common nature bids us to pity, not to imitate. And so let us pass by everything of this kind which by mockery, indignation, provocation, and abuse, he has assiduously mixed up with his argument, and examine only his arguments as they concern the doctrinal points at issue. We shall begin again, then, from the beginning, and meet each of his charges in turn.

The beginning of his accusation was that we are ashamed of the Cross of Him Who for our sakes underwent the Passion. Surely he does not intend to charge against us also that we preach the doctrine of dissimilarity in essence! Why, it is rather to those who turn aside to this opinion that the reproach belongs of going about to make the Cross a shameful thing. For if by both parties alike the dispensation of the Passion is held as part of the faith, while we hold it necessary to honour, even as the Father is honoured, the God Who was manifested by the Cross, and they find the Passion a hindrance to glorifying the Only-begotten God equally with the Father that begat Him, then our sophist's charges recoil upon himself, and in the words with which he imagines himself to be accusing us, he is publishing his own doctrinal impiety. For it is clear that the reason why he sets the Father above the Son, and exalts Him with supreme honour, is this,--that in Him is not seen the shame of the Cross: and the reason why he asseverates that the nature of the Son varies in the sense of inferiority is this,--that the reproach of the Cross is referred to Him alone, and does not touch the Father. And let no one think that in saying this I am only following the general drift of his composition, for in going through all the blasphemy of his speech, which is there laboriously brought together, I found, in a passage later than that before us, this very blasphemy clearly expressed in undisguised language; and I propose to set forth, in the orderly course of my own argument, what they have written, which runs thus:--"If," he says, "he can show that the God Who is over all, Who is the unapproachable Light, was incarnate, or could be incarnate, came under authority, obeyed commands, came under the laws of men, bore the Cross, then let him say that the Light is equal to the Light." Who then is it who is ashamed of the Cross? he who, even after the Passion, worships the Son equally with the Father, or he who even before the Passion insults Him, not only by ranking Him with the creation, but by maintaining that He is of passible nature, on the ground that He could not have come to experience His sufferings had He not had a nature capable of such sufferings? We on our part assert that even the body in which He underwent His Passion, by being mingled with the Divine Nature, was made by that commixture to be that which the assuming [712] Nature is. So far are we from entertaining any low idea concerning the Only-begotten God, that if anything belonging to our lowly nature was assumed in His dispensation of love for man, we believe that even this was transformed to what is Divine and incorruptible [713] ; but Eunomius makes the suffering of the Cross to be a sign of divergence in essence, in the sense of inferiority, considering, I know not how, the surpassing act of power, by which He was able to perform this, to be an evidence of weakness; failing to perceive the fact that, while nothing which moves according to its own nature is looked upon as surprisingly wonderful, all things that overpass the limitations of their own nature become especially the objects of admiration, and to them every ear is turned, every mind is attentive, in wonder at the marvel. And hence it is that all who preach the word point out the wonderful character of the mystery in this respect,--that "God was manifested in the flesh [714] ," that "the Word was made flesh [715] ," that "the Light shined in darkness [716] ," "the Life tasted death," and all such declarations which the heralds of the faith are wont to make, whereby is increased the marvellous character of Him Who manifested the superabundance of His power by means external to his own nature. But though they think fit to make this a subject for their insolence, though they make the dispensation of the Cross a reason for partitioning off the Son from equality of glory with the Father, we believe, as those "who from the beginning were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word [717] " delivered to us by the Holy Scriptures, that the God who was in the beginning, "afterwards", as Baruch says, "was seen upon the earth, and conversed with men [718] ," and, becoming a ransom for our death, loosed by His own resurrection the bonds of death, and by Himself made the resurrection a way for all flesh [719] , and being on the same throne and in the same glory with His own Father, will in the day of judgment give sentence upon those who are judged, according to the desert of the lives they have led. These are the things which we believe concerning Him Who was crucified, and for this cause we cease not to extol Him exceedingly, according to the measure of our powers, that He Who by reason of His unspeakable and unapproachable greatness is not comprehensible by any, save by Himself and the Father and the Holy Spirit, He, I say, was able even to descend to community with our weakness. But they adduce this proof of the Son's alienation in nature from the Father, that the Lord was manifested by the flesh and by the Cross, arguing on the ground that the Father's nature remained pure in impassibility, and could not in any way admit of a community which tended to passion, while the Son, by reason of the divergence of His nature by way of humiliation, was not incapable of being brought to experience the flesh and death, seeing that the change of condition was not great, but one which took place in a certain sense from one like state to another state kindred and homogeneous, because the nature of man is created, and the nature of the Only-begotten is created also. Who then is fairly charged with being ashamed of the Cross? he who speaks basely of it [720] , or he who contends for its more exalted aspect? I know not whether our accuser, who thus abases the God Who was made known upon the Cross, has heard the lofty speech of Paul, in what terms and at what length he discourses with his exalted lips concerning that Cross. For he, who was able to make himself known by miracles so many and so great, says, "God forbid that I should glory in anything else, than in the Cross of Christ [721] ." And to the Corinthians he says that the word of the Cross is "the power of God to them that are in a state of salvation [722] ." To the Ephesians, moreover, he describes by the figure of the Cross the power that controls and holds together the universe, when he expresses a desire that they may be exalted to know the exceeding glory of this power, calling it height, and depth, and breadth, and length [723] , speaking of the several projections we behold in the figure of the Cross by their proper names, so that he calls the upper part "height," and that which is below, on the opposite side of the junction, "depth," while by the name "length and breadth" he indicates the cross-beam projecting to either side, that hereby might be manifested this great mystery, that both things in heaven, and things under the earth, and all the furthest bounds of the things that are, are ruled and sustained by Him Who gave an example of this unspeakable and mighty power in the figure of the Cross. But I think there is no need to contend further with such objections, as I judge it superfluous to be anxious about urging arguments against calumny when even a few words suffice to show the truth. Let us therefore pass on to another charge.

He says that by us the saints are slandered. Well, if he has heard it himself, let him tell us the words of our defamation: if he thinks we have uttered it to others, let him show the truth of his charge by witnesses: if he demonstrates it from what we have written, let him read the words, and we will bear the blame. But he cannot bring forward anything of the kind: our writings are open for examination to any one who desires it. If it was not said to himself, and he has not heard it from others, and has no proof to offer from our writings, I think he who has to make answer on this point may well hold his peace: silence is surely the fitting answer to an unfounded charge.

The Apostle Peter says, "God made this Jesus, Whom ye crucified, Lord and Christ [724] ." We, learning this from him, say that the whole context of the passage tends one way,--the Cross itself, the human name, the indicative turn of the phrase. For the word of the Scripture says that in regard to one person two things were wrought,--by the Jews, the Passion, and by God, honour; not as though one person had suffered and another had been honoured by exaltation: and he further explains this yet more clearly by his words in what follows, "being exalted by the right hand of God." Who then was "exalted"? He that was lowly, or He that was the Highest? and what else is the lowly, but the Humanity? what else is the Highest, but the Divinity? Surely, God needs not to be exalted, seeing that He is the Highest. It follows, then, that the Apostle's meaning is that the Humanity was exalted: and its exaltation was effected by its becoming Lord and Christ. And this took place after the Passion. [725] It is not therefore the pre-temporal existence of the Lord which the Apostle indicates by the word "made," but that change of the lowly to the lofty which was effected "by the right hand of God." Even by this phrase is declared the mystery of godliness; for he who says "exalted by the right hand of God" manifestly reveals the unspeakable dispensation of this mystery, that the Right Hand of God, that made all things that are, (which is the Lord, by Whom all things were made, and without Whom nothing that is subsists,) Itself raised to Its own height the Man united with It, making Him also to be what It is by nature. Now It is Lord and King: Christ is the King's name: these things It made Him too. For as He was highly exalted by being in the Highest, so too He became all else,--Immortal in the Immortal, Light in the Light, Incorruptible in the Incorruptible, Invisible in the Invisible, Christ in the Christ, Lord in the Lord. For even in physical combinations. when one of the combined parts exceeds the other in a great degree, the inferior is wont to change completely to that which is more potent. And this we are plainly taught by the voice of the Apostle Peter in his mystic discourse, that the lowly nature of Him Who was crucified through weakness, (and weakness, as we have heard from the Lord, marks the flesh [726] ,) that lowly nature, I say, by virtue of its combination with the infinite and boundless element of good, remained no longer in its own measures and properties, but was by the Right Hand of God raised up together with Itself, and became Lord instead of servant, Christ a King instead of a subject, Highest instead of Lowly, God instead of man. What handle then against the saints did he who pretends to give warning against us in defence of the Apostles find in the material of our writings? Let us pass over this charge also in silence; for I think it a mean and unworthy thing to stand up against charges that are false and unfounded. Let us pass on to the more pressing part of his accusation.


Footnotes

[712] Or "resuming." Cf. Book II. 8 (sup. p. 113, where see note 7). [713] With S. Gregory's language here may be compared that of S. Athanasius (Or. adv. Arian. iii. 53), "It was not the Wisdom, quâ Wisdom, that `advanced'; but the humanity in the Wisdom that did advance, gradually ascending above the human nature and being made Divine (theopoioumenon)." [714] 1 Tim. iii. 16, where it would appear that Gregory read theos; not hos. [715] S. John i. 14 [716] S. John i. 5 (not verbally). [717] S. Luke i. 2 [718] Bar. iii. 37. [719] See Note 2, p. 104, sup. [720] Reading autou (for which Oehler cites good ms. authority), for heautou (the reading of his text, as well as of the Paris editions). [721] Gal. vi. 14 (not verbally). [722] Cf. 1 Cor. i. 18 [723] Cf. Eph. iii. 18 [724] Acts ii. 36. [725] It can hardly be supposed that it is intended by S. Gregory that we should understand that, during the years of His life on earth, our Lord's Humanity was not so united with His Divinity that "the visible man" was then both Lord and Christ. He probably refers more especially to the manifestation of His Messiahship afforded by the Resurrection and Ascension; but he also undoubtedly dwells on the exaltation of the Human Nature after the Passion in terms which would perhaps imply more than he intended to convey. His language on this point may be compared with the more guarded and careful statement of Hooker. (Eccl. Pol. V. lv. 8.) The point of his argument is that S. Peter's words apply to the Human Nature, not to the Divine. [726] Cf. S. Mark xiv. 38


4. He shows the falsehood of Eunomius' calumnious charge that the great Basil had said that "man was emptied to become man," and demonstrates that the "emptying" of the Only-begotten took place with a view to the restoration to life of the Man Who had suffered [727] .

He asserts that we say that man has emptied Himself to become man, and that He Who by obedience humbled Himself to the form of the servant shared the form of men even before He took that form. No change has been made in the wording; we have simply transferred the very words from his speech to our own. Now if there is anything of this sort in our writings, (for I call my master's writings ours) let no one blame our orator for calumny. I ask for all regard for the truth: and we ourselves will give evidence. But if there is nothing of all this in our writings, while his language not merely lays blame upon us, but is indignant and wrathful as if the matter were clearly proved, calling us full of absurdity, nonsense, confusion, inconsistency, and so on, I am at a loss to see the right course to take. Just as men who are perplexed at the groundless rages of madmen can decide upon no plan to follow, so I myself can find no device to meet this perplexity. Our master says (for I will again recite his argument verbally), "He is not setting forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but the terms which belong to the Incarnation." Our accuser starts from this point, and says that we maintain that man emptied Himself to become man! What community is there between one statement and the other? If we say that the Apostle has not set forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but points by his phrase to the dispensation of the Passion, we are on this ground charged with speaking of the "emptying" of man to become man, and with saying that the "form of the servant" had pretemporal existence, and that the Man Who was born of Mary existed before the coming in the flesh! Well, I think it superfluous to spend time in discussing what is admitted, seeing that truth itself frees us from the charge. In a case, indeed, where one may have given the calumniators some handle against oneself, it is proper to resist accusers: but where there is no danger of being suspected of some absurd charge, the accusation becomes a proof, not of the false charge made against him who is calumniated, but of the madness of the accuser. As, however, in dealing with the charge of being ashamed of the Cross, we showed by our examination that the charge recoiled upon the accuser, so we shall show how this charge too returns upon those who make it, since it is they, and not we, who lay down the doctrine of the change of the Son from like to like in the dispensation of the Passion. We will examine briefly, bringing them side by side, the statements of each party. We say that the Only-begotten God, having by His own agency brought all things into being, by Himself [728] has full power over all things, while the nature of man is also one of the things that were made by Him: and that when this had fallen away to evil, and come to be in the destruction of death, He by His own agency drew it up once more to immortal life, by means of the Man in whom He tabernacled, taking to Himself humanity in completeness, and that He mingled His life-giving power with our mortal and perishable nature, and changed, by the combination with Himself, our deadness to living grace and power. And this we declare to be the mystery of the Lord according to the flesh, that He Who is immutable came to be in that which is mutable, to the end that altering it for the better, and changing it from the worse, He might abolish the evil which is mingled with our mutable condition, destroying the evil in Himself. For "our God is a consuming fire [729] ," by whom all the material of wickedness is done away. This is our statement. What does our accuser say? Not that He Who was immutable and uncreated was mingled with that which came into being by creation, and which had therefore suffered a change in the direction of evil; but he does say that He, being Himself created, came to that which was kindred and homogeneous with Himself, not coming from a transcendent nature to put on the lowlier nature by reason of His love to man, but becoming that very thing which He was.

For as regards the general character of the appellation, the name of "creature" is one, as predicated of all things that have come into being from nothing, while the divisions into sections of the things which we contemplate as included in the term "creature", are separated one from the other by the variation of their properties: so that if He is created, and man is created, He was "emptied," to use Eunomius' phrase, to become Himself, and changed His place, not from the transcendent to the lowly, but from what is similar in kind to what (save in regard of the special character of body and the incorporeal) is similar in dignity. To whom now will the just vote of those who have to try our cause be given, or who will seem to them to be under the weight of these charges? he who says that the created was saved by the uncreated God, or he who refers the cause of our salvation to the creature? Surely the judgment of pious men is not doubtful. For any one who knows clearly the difference which there is between the created and the uncreated, (terms of which the divergence is marked by dominion and slavery, since the uncreated God, as the prophet says, "ruleth with His power for ever [730] ," while all things in the creation are servants to Him, according to the voice of the same prophet, which says "all things serve Thee [731] ,") he, I say, who carefully considers these matters, surely cannot fail to recognize the person who makes the Only-begotten change from servitude to servitude. For if, according to Paul, the whole creation "is in bondage [732] ," and if, according to Eunomius, the essential nature of the Only-begotten is created, our adversaries maintain, surely, by their doctrines, not that the master was mingled with the servant, but that a servant came to be among servants. As for our saying that the Lord was in the form of a servant before His presence in the flesh, that is just like charging us with saying that the stars are black and the sun misty, and the sky low, and water dry, and so on:--a man who does not maintain a charge on the ground of what he has heard, but makes up what seems good to him at his own sweet will, need not be sparing in making against us such charges as these. It is just the same thing for us to be called to account for the one set of charges as for the other, so far as concerns the fact that they have no basis for them in anything that we have said. How could one who says distinctly that the true Son was in the glory of the Father, insult the eternal glory of the Only-begotten by conceiving it to have been "in the form of a servant"? When our author thinks proper to speak evil of us, and at the same time takes care to present his case with some appearance of truth, it may perhaps not be superfluous or useless to rebut his unfounded accusations.


Footnotes

[727] This seems to be the sense of the Greek title. The Latin version of the earlier editions appears to represent a different reading, "contigisse, quando in passione homo Christus passus est." [728] This seems to be the force of auto; auton might give a simpler construction, but the sense would not be changed. Oehler, who here restores some words which were omitted in the earlier editions, makes no mention of any variation of reading. [729] Heb. xii. 29. [730] Ps. lxvi. 6 (LXX.). [731] Ps. cxix. 91. [732] Cf. Rom. viii. 21.


5. Thereafter he shows that there are not two Christs or two Lords, but one Christ and one Lord, and that the Divine nature, after mingling with the Human, preserved the properties of each nature without confusion, and declares that the operations are, by reason of the union, predicated of the two natures in common, in the sense that the Lord took upon Himself the sufferings of the servant, and the humanity is glorified with Him in the honour that is the Lord's, and that by the power of the Divine Nature that is made anew, conformably with that Divine Nature Itself.

His next charge too has its own absurdity of the same sort. For he reproaches us with saying that there are "two Christs," and "two Lords," without being able to make good his charge from our words, but employing falsehood at discretion to suit his fancy. Since, then, he deems it within his power to say what he likes, why does he utter his falsehood with such care about detail, and maintain that we speak but of two Christs? Let him say, if he likes, that we preach ten Christs, or ten times ten, or extend the number to a thousand, that he may handle his calumny more vigorously. For blasphemy is equally involved in the doctrine of two Christs, and in that of more, and the character of the two charges is also equally devoid of proof. When he shows, then, that we do speak of two Christs, let him have a verdict against us, as much as though he had given proof of ten thousand. But he says that he convicts us by our own statements. Well, let us look once more at those words of our master by means of which he thinks to raise his charges against us. He says "he" (he, that is, who says "Him God made Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified") "is not setting forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but the terms which belong to the Incarnation...laying stress by the demonstrative word on that in Him which was human and was seen by all." This is what he wrote. But whence has Eunomius managed by these words to bring on the stage his "two Christs"? Does saying that the demonstrative word lays stress on that which is visible, convey the proof of maintaining "two Christs"? Ought we (to avoid being charged with speaking of "two Highests") to deny the fact that by Him the Lord was highly exalted after His Passion? seeing that God the Word, Who was in the beginning, was Highest, and was also highly exalted after His Passion when He rose from the dead, as the Apostle says. We must of necessity choose one of two courses--either say that He was highly exalted after the Passion (which is just the same as saying that He was made Lord and Christ), and be impeached by Eunomius, or, if we avoid the accusation, deny the confession of the high exaltation of Him Who suffered.

Now at this point it seems right to put forward once more our accuser's statement in support of our own defence. We shall therefore repeat word for word the statement laid down by him, which supports our argument as follows:--"The blessed John," he says, "teaches us that God the Word, by Whom all things were made, has become incarnate, saying `And the Word was made flesh.'" Does he understand what he is writing when he adds this to his own argument? I can hardly myself think that the same man can at once be aware of the meaning of these words and contend against our statement. For if any one examines the words carefully, he will find that there is no mutual conflict between what is said by us and what is said by him. For we both consider the dispensation in the flesh apart, and regard the Divine power in itself: and he, in like manner with ourselves, says that the Word that was in the beginning has been manifested in the flesh: yet no one ever charged him, nor does he charge himself, with preaching "two Words", Him Who was in the beginning, and Him Who was made flesh; for he knows, surely, that the Word is identical with the Word, He who appeared in the flesh with Him Who was with God. But the flesh was not identical with the Godhead, till this too was transformed to the Godhead, so that of necessity one set of attributes befits God the Word, and a different set of attributes befits the "form of the servant [733] ." If, then, in view of such a confession, he does not reproach himself with the duality of Words, why are we falsely charged with dividing the object of our faith into "two Christs"?--we, who say that He Who was highly exalted after His Passion, was made Lord and Christ by His union [734] with Him Who is verily Lord and Christ, knowing by what we have learnt that the Divine Nature is always one and the same, and with the same mode of existence, while the flesh in itself is that which reason and sense apprehend concerning it, but when mixed [735] with the Divine no longer remains in its own limitations and properties, but is taken up to that which is overwhelming and transcendent. Our contemplation, however, of the respective properties of the flesh and of the Godhead remains free from confusion, so long as each of these is contemplated by itself [736] , as, for example, "the Word was before the ages, but the flesh came into being in the last times": but one could not reverse this statement, and say that the latter is pretemporal, or that the Word has come into being in the last times. The flesh is of a passible, the Word of an operative nature: and neither is the flesh capable of making the things that are, nor is the power possessed by the Godhead capable of suffering. The Word was in the beginning with God, the man was subject to the trial of death; and neither was the Human Nature from everlasting, nor the Divine Nature mortal: and all the rest of the attributes are contemplated in the same way. It is not the Human Nature that raises up Lazarus, nor is it the power that cannot suffer that weeps for him when he lies in the grave: the tear proceeds from the Man, the life from the true Life. It is not the Human Nature that feeds the thousands, nor is it omnipotent might that hastens to the fig-tree. Who is it that is weary with the journey, and Who is it that by His word made all the world subsist? What is the brightness of the glory, and what is that that was pierced with the nails? What form is it that is buffeted in the Passion, and what form is it that is glorified from everlasting? So much as this is clear, (even if one does not follow the argument into detail,) that the blows belong to the servant in whom the Lord was, the honours to the Lord Whom the servant compassed about, so that by reason of contact and the union of Natures the proper attributes of each belong to both [737] , as the Lord receives the stripes of the servant, while the servant is glorified with the honour of the Lord; for this is why the Cross is said to be the Cross of the Lord of glory [738] , and why every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [739] .

But if we are to discuss the other points in the same way, let us consider what it is that dies, and what it is that destroys death; what it is that is renewed, and what it is that empties itself. The Godhead "empties" Itself that It may come within the capacity of the Human Nature, and the Human Nature is renewed by becoming Divine through its commixture [740] with the Divine. For as air is not retained in water when it is dragged down by some weighty body and left in the depth of the water, but rises quickly to its kindred element, while the water is often raised up together with the air in its upward rush, being moulded by the circle of air into a convex shape with a slight and membrane-like surface, so too, when the true Life that underlay the flesh sped up, after the Passion, to Itself, the flesh also was raised up with It, being forced upwards from corruption to incorruptibility by the Divine immortality. And as fire that lies in wood hidden below the surface is often unobserved by the senses of those who see, or even touch it, but is manifest when it blazes up, so too, at His death (which He brought about at His will, Who separated His soul from His Body, Who said to His own Father "Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit [741] ," Who, as He says, "had power to lay it down and had power to take it again [742] "), He Who, because He is the Lord of glory, despised that which is shame among men, having concealed, as it were, the flame of His life in His bodily Nature, by the dispensation of His death [743] , kindled and inflamed it once more by the power of His own Godhead, fostering into life that which had been brought to death, having infused with the infinity of His Divine power that humble first-fruits of our nature, made it also to be that which He Himself was--making the servile form to be Lord, and the Man born of Mary to be Christ, and Him Who was crucified through weakness to be Life and power, and making all that is piously conceived to be in God the Word to be also in that which the Word assumed, so that these attributes no longer seem to be in either Nature by way of division, but that the perishable Nature being, by its commixture with the Divine, made anew in conformity with the Nature that overwhelms it, participates in the power of the Godhead, as if one were to say that mixture makes a drop of vinegar mingled in the deep to be sea, by reason that the natural quality of this liquid does not continue in the infinity of that which overwhelms it [744] . This is our doctrine, which does not, as Eunomius charges against it, preach a plurality of Christs, but the union of the Man with the Divinity, and which calls by the name of "making" the transmutation of the Mortal to the Immortal, of the Servant to the Lord, of Sin [745] to Righteousness, of the Curse [746] to the Blessing, of the Man to Christ. What further have our slanderers left to say, to show that we preach "two Christs" in our doctrine, if we refuse to say that He Who was in the beginning from the Father uncreatedly Lord, and Christ, and the Word, and God, was "made," and declare that the blessed Peter was pointing briefly and incidentally to the mystery of the Incarnation, according to the meaning now explained, that the Nature which was crucified through weakness has Itself also, as we have said, become, by the overwhelming power of Him Who dwells in It, that which the Indweller Himself is in fact and in name, even Christ and Lord?


Footnotes

[733] This statement would seem to imply that, at some time after the Incarnation, the Humanity of Christ was transformed to the Divine Nature, and made identical with It. From other passages in what has preceded, it would seem that this change in the mutual relation of the two Natures might, according to the words of S. Gregory, be conceived as taking place after the Passion. Thus it might be said that S. Gregory conceived the union of the two Natures to be, since the Passion (or, more strictly, since the "exaltation"), what the Monophysites conceived it to be from the moment of the Incarnation. But other phrases, again, seem to show that he conceived the two Natures still to remain distinct (see note 4 inf.). There is, however, ample justification in S. Gregory's language for the remark of Bp. Hefele, that S. Gregory "cannot entirely free himself from the notion of a transmutation of the Human Nature into the Divine." (Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Eng. Trans. vol. iii. p. 4.) [734] henoseos. [735] anakratheisa pros to theion. [736] Here S. Gregory seems to state accurately the differentiation of the two Natures, while he recognizes the possibility of the communicatio idiomatum: but it is not clear that he would acknowledge that the two Natures still remain distinct. Even this, however, seems to be implied in his citation of Phil. ii. 11, at a later point. [737] Here is truly stated the ground of the communicatio idiomatum: while the illustrations following seem to show that S. Gregory recognized this communicatio as existing at the time of our Lord's humiliation, and as continuing to exist after His "exaltation"; that he acknowledged, that is, the union of the two Natures before the "exaltation," and the distinction of the two Natures after that event. [738] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [739] Phil. ii. 11. [740] anakraseos [741] S. Luke xxiii. 46. [742] S. John x. 18 [743] Altering Oehler's punctuation, which would connect en te kata ton thanaton oikonomi& 139;, not with sunkalupsas, but with anepse. [744] Here may be observed at once a conformity to the phraseology of the Monophysites (bearing in mind that S. Gregory is not speaking, as they were, of the union of the two Natures in the Incarnation, but of the change wrought by the "exaltation"), and a suggestion that the Natures still remain distinct, as otherwise it would be idle to speak of the Human Nature as participating in the power of the Divine. [745] Cf. 2 Cor. v. 21 [746] Cf. Gal. iii. 13

.


Book VI.


1. The sixth book shows that He Who came for man's salvation was not a mere man, as Eunomius, falsely slandering him, affirmed that the great Basil had said, but the Only-begotten Son of God, putting on human flesh, and becoming a mediator between God and man, on Whom we believe, as subject to suffering in the flesh, but impassible in His Godhead; and demonstrates the calumny of Eunomius.

But I perceive that while the necessities of the subject compelled me to follow this line of thought, I have lingered too long over this passage [747] . I must now resume the train of his complaints, that we may pass by none of the charges brought against us without an answer. And first I propose that we should examine this point, that he charges us with asserting that an ordinary man has wrought the salvation of the world. For although this point has been to some extent already cleared up by the investigations we have made, we shall yet briefly deal with it once more, that the mind of those who are acting as our judges on this slanderous accusation may be entirely freed from misapprehension. So far are we from referring to an ordinary man the cause of this great and unspeakable grace, that even if any should refer so great a boon to Peter and Paul, or to an angel from heaven, we should say with Paul, "let him be anathema [748] ." For Paul was not crucified for us, nor were we baptized into a human name [749] . Surely the doctrine which our adversaries oppose to the truth is not thereby strengthened when we confess that the saving power of Christ is more potent than human nature [750] :--yet it may seem to be so, for their aim is to maintain at all points the difference of the essence of the Son from that of the Father, and they strive to show the dissimilarity of essence not only by the contrast of the Generated with the Ungenerate, but also by the opposition of the passible to the impassible. And while this is more openly maintained in the last part of their argument, it is also clearly shown in their present discourse [751] . For if he finds fault with those who refer the Passion to the Human Nature, his intention is certainly to subject to the Passion the Godhead Itself. For our conception being twofold, and admitting of two developments, accordingly as the Divinity or the Humanity is held to have been in a condition of suffering, an attack on one of these views is clearly a maintaining of the other. Accordingly, if they find fault with those who look upon the Passion as concerning the Man, they will clearly approve those who say that the Godhead of the Son was subject to passion, and the position which these last maintain becomes an argument in favour of their own absurd doctrine. For if, according to their statement, the Godhead of the Son suffers, while that of the Father is preserved in absolute impassibility, then the impassible Nature is essentially different from that which admits passion. Seeing, therefore, that the dictum before us, though, so far as it is limited by number of words, it is a short one, yet affords principles and hypotheses for every kind of doctrinal pravity, it would seem right that our readers should require in our reply not so much brevity as soundness. We, then, neither attribute our own salvation to a man, nor admit that the incorruptible and Divine Nature is capable of suffering and mortality: but since we must assuredly believe the Divine utterances which declare to us that the Word that was in the beginning was God [752] , and that afterward the Word made flesh was seen upon the earth and conversed with men [753] , we admit in our creed those conceptions which are consonant with the Divine utterance. For when we hear that He is Light, and Power, and Righteousness, and Life, and Truth, and that by Him all things were made, we account all these and such-like statements as things to be believed, referring them to God the Word: but when we hear of pain, of slumber, of need, of trouble, of bonds, of nails, of the spear, of blood, of wounds, of burial, of the sepulchre, and all else of this kind, even if they are somewhat opposed to what has previously been stated, we none the less admit them to be things to be believed, and true, having regard to the flesh; which we receive by faith as conjoined with the Word. For as it is not possible to contemplate the peculiar attributes of the flesh as existing in the Word that was in the beginning, so also on the other hand we may not conceive those which are proper to the Godhead as existing in the nature of the flesh. As, therefore, the teaching of the Gospel concerning our Lord is mingled, partly of lofty and Divine ideas, partly of those which are lowly and human, we assign every particular phrase accordingly to one or other of these Natures which we conceive in the mystery, that which is human to the Humanity, that which is lofty to the Godhead, and say that, as God, the Son is certainly impassible and incapable of corruption: and whatever suffering is asserted concerning Him in the Gospel, He assuredly wrought by means of His Human Nature which admitted of such suffering. For verily the Godhead works the salvation of the world by means of that body which encompassed It, in such wise that the suffering was of the body, but the operation was of God; and even if some wrest to the support of the opposite doctrine the words of the Apostle, "God spared not His own Son, [754] " and, "God sent His own Son [755] ," and other similar phrases which seem to refer, in the matter of the Passion, to the Divine Nature, and not to the Humanity, we shall none the less refuse to abandon sound doctrine, seeing that Paul himself declares to us more clearly the mystery of this subject. For he everywhere attributes to the Human element in Christ the dispensation of the Passion, when he says, "for since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead [756] ," and, "God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh [757] " (for he says, "in the flesh," not "in the Godhead"); and "He was crucified through weakness" (where by "weakness" he means "the flesh"), "yet liveth by power [758] " (while he indicates by "power" the Divine Nature); and, "He died unto sin" (that is, with regard to the body), "but liveth unto God [759] " (that is, with regard to the Godhead, so that by these words it is established that, while the Man tasted death, the immortal Nature did not admit the suffering of death); and again; "He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew no sin [760] ," giving once more the name of "sin" to the flesh.


Footnotes

[747] The passage in S. Peter's speech (Acts ii. 36) discussed in the preceding book. [748] Cf. Gal. i. 8, 9 [749] 1 Cor. i. 13. [750] The sense of this passage is rather obscure. S. Gregory intends, it would seem, to point out that, although an acknowledgment that the suffering Christ was more than man may seem at first sight to support the Eunomian view of the passibility of the Godhead of the Son, this is not its necessary effect. Apparently either ou men must be taken as equivalent to ou men alla, or a clause such as that expressed in the translation must be supplied before tois men gar k.t.l. [751] Altering Oehler's punctuation, which here follows that of the earlier editions. [752] Cf. S. John i. 1 [753] Cf. Bar. iii. 37 [754] Rom. viii. 32. [755] Cf. Rom. viii. 3 [756] 1 Cor. xv. 21. [757] Cf. Rom. viii. 3 [758] 2 Cor. xiii. 4. [759] Rom. vi. 10. [760] 2 Cor. v. 21.


2. Then he again mentions S. Peter's word, "made," and the passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which says that Jesus was made by God "an Apostle and High Priest": and, after giving a sufficient answer to the charges brought against him by Eunomius, shows that Eunomius himself supports Basil's arguments, and says that the Only-begotten Son, when He had put on the flesh, became Lord.

And although we make these remarks in passing, the parenthetic addition seems, perhaps, not less important than the main question before us. For since, when St. Peter says, "He made Him Lord and Christ [761] ," and again, when the Apostle Paul says to the Hebrews that He made Him a priest [762] , Eunomius catches at the word "made" as being applicable to His pre-temporal existence, and thinks thereby to establish his doctrine that the Lord is a thing made [763] , let him now listen to Paul when he says, "He made Him to be sin for us, Who knew not sin [764] ." If he refers the word "made," which is used of the Lord in the passages from the Epistle to the Hebrews, and from the words of Peter, to the pretemporal idea, he might fairly refer the word in that passage which says that God made Him to be sin, to the first existence of His essence, and try to show by this, as in the case of his other testimonies, that he was "made", so as to refer the word "made" to the essence, acting consistently with himself, and to discern sin in that essence. But if he shrinks from this by reason of its manifest absurdity, and argues that, by saying, "He made Him to be sin," the Apostle indicates the dispensation of the last times, let him persuade himself by the same train of reasoning that the word "made" refers to that dispensation in the other passages also.

Let us, however, return to the point from which we digressed; for we might gather together from the same Scripture countless other passages, besides those quoted, which bear upon the matter. And let no one think that the divine Apostle is divided against himself in contradiction, and affords by his own utterances matter for their contentions on either side to those who dispute upon the doctrines. For careful examination would find that his argument is accurately directed to one aim; and he is not halting in his opinions: for while he everywhere proclaims the combination of the Human with the Divine, he none the less discerns in each its proper nature, in the sense that while the human weakness is changed for the better by its communion with the imperishable, the Divine power, on the other hand, is not abased by its contact with the lowly form of nature. When therefore he says, "He spared not His own Son," he contrasts the true Son with the other sons, begotten, or exalted, or adopted [765] (those, I mean, who were brought into being at His command), marking the specialty of nature by the addition of "own." And, to the end that no one should connect the suffering of the Cross with the imperishable nature, he gives in other words a fairly distinct correction of such an error, when he calls Him "mediator between God and men [766] " and "man [767] ," and "God [768] ," that, from the fact that both are predicated of the one Being, the fit conception might be entertained concerning each Nature--concerning the Divine Nature, impassibility, concerning the Human Nature, the dispensation of the Passion. As his thought, then, divides that which in love to man was made one, but is distinguished in idea, he uses, when he is proclaiming that nature which transcends and surpasses all intelligence, the more exalted order of names, calling Him "God over all [769] ," "the great God [770] ," "the power" of God, and "the wisdom" of God [771] , and the like; but when he is alluding to all that experience of suffering which, by reason of our weakness, was necessarily assumed with our nature, he gives to the union of the Natures [772] that name which is derived from ours, and calls Him Man, not by this word placing Him Whom he is setting forth to us on a common level with the rest of nature, but so that orthodoxy is protected as regards each Nature, in the sense that the Human Nature is glorified by His assumption of it, and the Divine is not polluted by Its condescension, but makes the Human element subject to sufferings, while working, through Its Divine power, the resurrection of that which suffered. And thus the experience of death is not [773] referred to Him Who had communion in our passible nature by reason of the union with Him of the Man, while at the same time the exalted and Divine names descend to the Man, so that He Who was manifested upon the Cross is called even "the Lord of glory [774] ," since the majesty implied in these names is transmitted from the Divine to the Human by the commixture of Its Nature with that Nature which is lowly. For this cause he describes Him in varied and different language, at one time as Him Who came down from heaven, at another time as Him Who was born of woman, as God from eternity, and Man in the last days; thus too the Only-begotten God is held to be impassible, and Christ to be capable of suffering; nor does his discourse speak falsely in these opposing statements, as it adapts in its conceptions to each Nature the terms that belong to it. If then these are the doctrines which we have learnt from inspired teaching, how do we refer the cause of our salvation to an ordinary man? and if we declare the word "made" employed by the blessed Peter to have regard not to the pre-temporal existence, but to the new dispensation of the Incarnation, what has this to do with the charge against us? For this great Apostle says that that which was seen in the form of the servant has been made, by being assumed, to be that which He Who assumed it was in His own Nature. Moreover, in the Epistle to the Hebrews we may learn the same truth from Paul, when he says that Jesus was made an Apostle and High Priest by God, "being faithful to him that made Him so [775] ." For in that passage too, in giving the name of High Priest to Him Who made with His own Blood the priestly propitiation for our sins, he does not by the word "made" declare the first existence of the Only-begotten, but says "made" with the intention of representing that grace which is commonly spoken of in connection with the appointment of priests. For Jesus, the great High Priest (as Zechariah says [776] ), Who offered up his own lamb, that is, His own Body, for the sin of the world; Who, by reason of the children that are partakers of flesh and blood, Himself also in like manner took part with them in blood [777] (not in that He was in the beginning, being the Word and God, and being in the form of God, and equal with God, but in that He emptied Himself in the form of the servant, and offered an oblation and sacrifice for us), He, I say, became a High Priest many generations later, after the order of Melchisedech [778] . Surely a reader who has more than a casual acquaintance with the discourse to the Hebrews knows the mystery of this matter. As, then, in that passage He is said to have been made Priest and Apostle, so here He is said to have been made Lord and Christ,--the latter for the dispensation on our behalf, the former by the change and transformation of the Human to the Divine (for by "making" the Apostle means "making anew"). Thus is manifest the knavery of our adversaries, who insolently wrest the words referring to the dispensation to apply them to the pretemporal existence. For we learn from the Apostle not to know Christ in the same manner now as before, as Paul thus speaks, "Yea, though we have known Christ after the flesh, yet now know we Him no more [779] ," in the sense that the one knowledge manifests to us His temporary dispensation, the other His eternal existence. Thus our discourse has made no inconsiderable answer to his charges:--that we neither hold two Christs nor two Lords, that we are not ashamed of the Cross, that we do not glorify a mere man as having suffered for the world, that we assuredly do not think that the word "made" refers to the formation of the essence. But, such being our view, our argument has no small support from our accuser himself, where in the midst of his discourse he employs his tongue in a flourishing onslaught upon us, and produces this sentence among others: "This, then, is the conflict that Basil wages against himself, and he clearly appears neither to have `applied his own mind to the intention of the Apostles,' nor to be able to preserve the sequence of his own arguments; for according to them he must, if he is conscious of their irreconcilable character, admit that the Word Who was in the beginning and was God became Lord," or he fits together "statements that are mutually conflicting." Why, this is actually our statement which Eunomius repeats, who says that "the Word that was in the beginning and was God became Lord." For, being what He was, God, and Word, and Life, and Light, and Grace, and Truth, and Lord, and Christ, and every name exalted and Divine, He did become, in the Man assumed by Him, Who was none of these, all else which the Word was and among the rest did become Lord and Christ, according to the teaching of Peter, and according to the confession of Eunomius;--not in the sense that the Godhead acquired anything by way of advancement, but (all exalted majesty being contemplated in the Divine Nature) He thus becomes Lord and Christ, not by arriving at any addition of grace in respect of His Godhead (for the Nature of the Godhead is acknowledged to be lacking in no good), but by bringing the Human Nature to that participation in the Godhead which is signified by the terms "Christ" and "Lord."


Footnotes

[761] Acts ii. 36. [762] Cf. Heb. v. 5 [763] Altering Oehler's punctuation. [764] 2 Cor. v. 21. [765] Reading, as Gulonius seems to have done, and according to Oehler's suggestion (which he does not himself follow), huiothetetheisi for athetesasi. In the latter reading the mss. seem to agree, but the sense is doubtful. It may be rendered, perhaps, "Who were begotten and exalted, and who rejected Him." The quotation from S. Paul is from Rom. viii. 32. [766] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [767] 1 Tim. ii. 5. [768] The reference is perhaps to 1 Tim iii. 16, but more probably to 1 Tim. ii. 5. [769] Rom. ix. 5. [770] Tit. ii. 13. [771] 1 Cor. i. 24. [772] to sunamphoteron [773] Reading oute, in favour of which apparently lies the weight of mss. The reading of the Paris edition gives an easier connection, but has apparently no ms. authority. The distinction S. Gregory draws is this:--"You may not say `God died,' for human weakness does not attach to the Divine Nature; you may say `He who died is the Lord of glory,' for the Human Nature is actually made partaker of the power and majesty of the Divine." [774] 1 Cor. ii. 8. [775] Cf. Heb. iii. 1, 2. [776] Cf. Zech. iii. 1 [777] Cf. Heb. ii. 14 [778] Cf. Heb. vii. 21 [779] Cf. 2 Cor. v. 16


3. He then gives a notable explanation of the saying of the Lord to Philip, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father;" and herein he excellently discusses the suffering of the Lord in His love to man, and the impassibility, creative power, and providence of the Father, and the composite nature of men, and their resolution into the elements of which they were composed.

Sufficient defence has been offered on these points, and as for that which Eunomius says by way of calumny against our doctrine, that "Christ was emptied to become Himself" there has been sufficient discussion in what has been said above, where he has been shown to be attributing to our doctrine his own blasphemy. [780] For it is not one who confesses that the immutable Nature has put on the created and perishable, who speaks of the transition from like to like, but one who conceives that there is no change from the majesty of Nature to that which is more lowly. For if, as their doctrine asserts, He is created, and man is created also, the wonder of the doctrine disappears, and there is nothing marvellous in what is alleged, since the created nature comes to be in itself [781] . But we who have learnt from prophecy of "the change of the right hand of the Most High [782] ,"--and by the "Right Hand" of the Father we understand that Power of God, which made all things, which is the Lord (not in the sense of depending upon Him as a part upon a whole, but as being indeed from Him, and yet contemplated in individual existence),--say thus: that neither does the Right Hand vary from Him Whose Right Hand It is, in regard to the idea of Its Nature, nor can any other change in It be spoken of besides the dispensation of the Flesh. For verily the Right Hand of God was God Himself; manifested in the flesh, seen through that same flesh by those whose sight was clear; as He did the work of the Father, being, both in fact and in thought, the Right Hand of God, yet being changed, in respect of the veil of the flesh by which He was surrounded, as regarded that which was seen, from that which He was by Nature, as a subject of contemplation. Therefore He says to Philip, who was gazing only at that which was changed, "Look through that which is changed to that which is unchangeable, and if thou seest this, thou hast seen that Father Himself, Whom thou seekest to see; for he that hath seen Me--not Him Who appears in a state of change, but My very self, Who am in the Father--will have seen that Father Himself in Whom I am, because the very same character of Godhead is beheld in both [783] ." If, then, we believe that the immortal and impassible and uncreated Nature came to be in the passible Nature of the creature, and conceive the "change" to consist in this, on what grounds are we charged with saying that He "was emptied to become Himself," by those who keep prating their own statements about our doctrines? For the participation of the created with the created is no "change of the Right Hand." To say that the Right Hand of the uncreated Nature is created belongs to Eunomius alone, and to those who adopt such opinions as he holds. For the man with an eye that looks on the truth will discern the Right Hand of the Highest to be such as he sees the Highest to be,--Uncreated of Uncreated, Good of Good, Eternal of Eternal without prejudice to Its eternity by Its being in the Father by way of generation. Thus our accuser has unawares been employing against us reproaches that properly fall upon himself.

But with reference [784] to those who stumble at the idea of "passion," and on this ground maintain the diversity of the Essences,--arguing that the Father, by reason of the exaltation of His Nature, does not admit passion, and that the Son on the other hand condescended, by reason of defect and divergence, to the partaking of His sufferings,--I wish to add these remarks to what has been already said:--That nothing is truly "passion" which does not tend to sin, nor would one strictly call by the name of "passion" the necessary routine of nature, regarding the composite nature as it goes on its course in a kind of order and sequence. For the mutual concurrence of heterogeneous elements in the formation of our body is a kind of a combination harmoniously conjoined out of several dissimilar elements; but when, at the due time, the tie is loosed which bound together this concurrence of the elements, the combined nature is once more dissolved into the elements of which it was composed. This then is rather a work than a passion of the nature [785] . For we give the name of "passion" only to that which is opposed to the virtuous unimpassioned state and of this we believe that He Who granted us salvation was at all times devoid, Who "was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin [786] ." Of that, at least, which is truly passion, which is a diseased condition of the will, He was not a partaker; for it says "He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth [787] "; but the peculiar attributes of our nature, which, by a kind of customary abuse of terms, are called by the same name of "passion,"--of these, we confess, the Lord did partake,--of birth, nourishment, growth, of sleep and toil, and all those natural dispositions which the soul is wont to experience with regard to bodily inconveniences,--the desire of that which is lacking, when the longing passes from the body to the soul, the sense of pain, the dread of death, and all the like, save only such as, if followed, lead to sin. As, then, when we perceive His power extending through all things in heaven, and air, and earth, and sea, whatever there is in heaven, whatever there is beneath the earth, we believe that He is universally present, and yet do not say that He is any of those things in which He is (for He is not the Heaven, Who has marked it out with His enfolding span, nor is He the earth, Who upholds the circle of the earth, nor yet is He the water, Who encompasses the liquid nature), so neither do we say that in passing through those sufferings of the flesh of which we speak He was "subject to passion," but, as we say that He is the cause of all things that are, that He holds the universe in His grasp, that He directs all that is in motion and keeps upon a settled foundation all that is stationary, by the unspeakable power of His own majesty, so we say that He was born among us for the cure of the disease of sin, adapting the exercise of His healing power in a manner corresponding to the suffering, applying the healing in that way which He knew to be for the good of that part of the creation which He knew to be in infirmity. And as it was expedient that He should heal the sufferings by touch, we say that He so healed it; yet is He not, because He is the Healer of our infirmity, to be deemed on this account to have been Himself passible. For even in the case of men, ordinary use does not allow us to affirm such a thing. We do not say that one who touches a sick man to heal him is himself partaker of the infirmity, but we say that he does give the sick man the boon of a return to health, and does not partake of the infirmity: for the suffering does not touch him, it is he who touches the disease. Now if he who by his art works any good in men's bodies is not called dull or feeble, but is called a lover of men and a benefactor and the like, why do they slander the dispensation to usward as being mean and inglorious, and use it to maintain that the essence of the Son is "divergent by way of inferiority," on the ground that the Nature of the Father is superior to sufferings, while that of the Son is not pure from passion? Why, if the aim of the dispensation of the Incarnation was not that the Son should be subject to suffering, but that He should be manifested as a lover of men, while the Father also is undoubtedly a lover of men, it follows that if one will but regard the aim, the Son is in the same case with the Father. But if it was not the Father Who wrought the destruction of death, marvel not,--for all judgment also He hath committed unto the Son, Himself judging no man [788] ; not doing all things by the Son for the reason that He is unable either to save the lost or judge the sinner, but because He does these things too by His own Power, by which He works all things. Then they who were saved by the Son were saved by the Power of the Father, and they who are judged by Him undergo judgment by the Righteousness of God. For "Christ," as the Apostle says, "is the Righteousness of God [789] ," which is revealed by the Gospel; and whether you look at the world as a whole, or at the parts of the world which make up that complete whole, all these are works of the Father, in that they are works of His Power; and thus the word which says both that the Father made all things, and that none of these things that are came into being without the Son, speaks truly on both points; for the operation of the Power bears relation to Him Whose Power It is. Thus, since the Son is the Power of the Father, all the works of the Son are works of the Father. That He entered upon the dispensation of the Passion not by weakness of nature but by the power of His will, one might bring countless passages of the Gospel to show; but these, as the matter is clear, I will pretermit, that my discourse may not be prolonged by dwelling on points that are admitted. If, then, that which comes to pass is evil, we have to separate from that evil not the Father only, but the Son also; but if the saving of them that were lost is good, and if that which took place is not "passion [790] ," but love of men, why do you alienate from our thanksgiving for our salvation the Father, Who by His own Power, which is Christ, wrought for men their freedom from death?


Footnotes

[780] See above, Book V. 4. [781] That is, in a nature created like itself. [782] Ps. lxxvii. 10 (LXX.). This application of the passage is also made by Michael Ayguan (the "Doctor Incognitus"), who is the only commentator mentioned by Neale and Littledale as so interpreting the text. [783] Cf. S. John xiv. 9, 10. [784] Oehler's punctuation, while it does not exactly follow that of the earlier editions, still seems to admit of emendation here. [785] The word pathos, like the English word "passion," has a double sense: in one sense it connotes a tendency to evil action or evil habit--and in this sense Christ was not subject to passion. In another sense it has no such connotation, and it is in this sense (a sense, Gregory would say, somewhat inexact), that the term is used to express the sufferings of Christ:--to this case, it may be said, the inexact use of the English word is for the most part restricted. [786] Heb. iv. 15. [787] 1 Pet. ii. 22. [788] Cf. S. John v. 22 [789] Rom. i. 17. [790] That is, "passion" in the sense defined above, as something with evil tendency. If the ginomenon (i.e. the salvation of men) is evil, then Father and Son alike must be "kept clear" from any participation in it. If it is good, and if, therefore, the means (the actual events) are not "passion" as not tending to evil, while, considered in regard to their aim, they are philanthropia, then there is no reason why a share in their fulfilment should be denied to the Father, Who, as well as the Son, is philanthropos, and Who by His own Power (that is, by Christ) wrought the salvation of men.


4. Then returning to the words of Peter, "God made Him Lord and Christ," he skilfully explains it by many arguments, and herein shows Eunomius as an advocate of the orthodox doctrine, and concludes the book by showing that the Divine and Human names are applied, by reason of the commixture, to either Nature.

But we must return once more to our vehement writer of speeches, and take up again that severe invective of his against ourselves. He makes it a complaint against us that we deny that the Essence of the Son has been made, as contradicting the words of Peter, "He made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified [791] "; and he is very forcible in his indignation and abuse upon this matter, and moreover maintains certain points by which he thinks that he refutes our doctrine. Let us see, then, the force of his attempts. "Who, pray, ye most reckless of men," he says, "when he has the form of a servant, takes the form of a servant?" "No reasonable man," shall be our reply to him, "would use language of this kind, save such as may be entirely alien from the hope of Christians. But to this class you belong, who charge us with recklessness because we do not admit the Creator to be created. For if the Holy Spirit does not lie, when He says by the prophet, `All things serve Thee [792] ,' and the whole creation is in servitude, and the Son is, as you say [793] , created, He is clearly a fellow-servant with all things, being degraded by His partaking of creation to partake also of servitude. And Him Who is in servitude you will surely invest with the servant's form: for you will not, of course, be ashamed of the aspect of servitude when you acknowledge that He is a servant by nature. Who now is it, I pray, my most keen rhetorician, who transfers the Son from the servile form to another form of a servant? he who claims for Him uncreated being, and thereby proves that He is no servant, or you, rather, who continually cry that the Son is the servant of the Father, and was actually under His dominion before He took the servant's form? I ask for no other judges; I leave the vote on these questions in your own hands. For I suppose that no one is so shameless in his dealings with the truth as to oppose acknowledged facts out of sheer impudence. What we have said is clear to any one, that by the peculiar attributes of servitude is marked that which is by nature servile, and to be created is an attribute proper to servitude. Thus one who asserts that He, being a servant, took upon Him our form, is surely the man who transfers the Only-begotten from servitude to servitude."

He tries, however, to fight against our words, and says, a little further on (for I will pass over at present his intermediate remarks, as they have been more or less fully discussed in my previous arguments), when he charges us with being "bold in saying or thinking things uncontrivable," and calls us "most miserable [794] ,"--he adds, I say, this:--"For if it is not of the Word Who was in the beginning and was God that the blessed Peter speaks, but of Him Who was `seen,' and Who `emptied Himself,' as Basil says, and if the man Who was `seen' `emptied Himself' to take `the form of a servant,' and He Who `emptied Himself' to take the form of a servant,' `emptied Himself' to come into being as man, then the man who was `seen' `emptied himself,' to come into being as man." It may be that the judgment of my readers has immediately detected from the above citation the knavery, and, at the same time, the folly of the argument he maintains: yet a brief refutation of what he says shall be subjoined on our side, not so much to overthrow his blundering sophism, which indeed is overthrown by itself for those who have ears to hear, as to avoid the appearance of passing his allegation by without discussion, under the pretence of contempt for the worthlessness of his argument. Let us accordingly look at the point in this way. What are the Apostle's words? "Be it known," he says, "that God made Him Lord and Christ [795] ." Then, as though some one had asked him on whom such a grace was bestowed, he points as it were with his finger to the subject, saying, "this Jesus, Whom ye crucified." What does Basil say upon this? That the demonstrative word declares that that person was made Christ, Who had been crucified by the hearers;--for he says, "ye crucified," and it was likely that those who had demanded the murder that was done upon Him were hearers of the speech; for the time from the crucifixion to the discourse of Peter was not long. What, then, does Eunomius advance in answer to this? "If it is not of the Word Who was in the beginning and was God that the blessed Peter speaks, but of Him Who was `seen,' and Who `emptied Himself,' as Basil says, and if the man who was `seen' `emptied himself' to take `the form of a servant'"--Hold! who says this, that the man who was seen emptied himself again to take the form of a servant? or who maintains that the suffering of the Cross took place before the manifestation in the flesh? The Cross did not precede the body, nor the body "the form of the servant." But God is manifested in the flesh, while the flesh that displayed God in itself, after having by itself fulfilled the great mystery of the Death, is transformed by commixture to that which is exalted and Divine, becoming Christ and Lord, being transferred and changed to that which He was, Who manifested Himself in that flesh. But if we should say this, our champion of the truth maintains once more that we say that He Who was shown upon the Cross "emptied Himself" to become another man, putting his sophism together as follows in its wording:--"If," quoth he, "the man who was `seen' `emptied himself' to take the `form of a servant,' and He Who `emptied Himself' to take the `form of a servant,' `emptied Himself' to come into being as man, then the man who was `seen' `emptied himself' to come into being as man."

How well he remembers the task before him! how much to the point is the conclusion of his argument! Basil declares that the Apostle said that the man who was "seen" was made Christ and Lord, and this clear and quick-witted over-turner of his statements says, "If Peter does not say that the essence of Him Who was in the beginning was made, the man who was `seen' `emptied himself' to take the `form of a servant,' and He Who `emptied Himself' to take the 'form of a servant, emptied Himself to become man." We are conquered, Eunomius, by this invincible wisdom! The fact that the Apostle's discourse refers to Him Who was "crucified through weakness [796] " is forsooth powerfully disproved when we learn that if we believe this to be so, the man who was "seen" again becomes another, "emptying Himself" for another coming into being of man. Will you never cease jesting against what should be secure from such attempts? will you not blush at destroying by such ridiculous sophisms the awe that hedges the Divine mysteries? will you not turn now, if never before, to know that the Only-begotten God, Who is in the bosom of the Father, being Word, and King, and Lord, and all that is exalted in word and thought, needs not to become anything that is good, seeing that He is Himself the fulness of all good things? What then is that, by changing into which He becomes what He was not before? Well, as He Who knew not sin becomes sin [797] , that He may take away the sin of the world, so on the other hand the flesh which received the Lord becomes Christ and Lord, being transformed by the commixture into that which it was not by nature: whereby we learn that neither would God have been manifested in the flesh, had not the Word been made flesh, nor would the human flesh that compassed Him about have been transformed to what is Divine, had not that which was apparent to the senses become Christ and Lord. But they treat the simplicity of what we preach with contempt, who use their syllogisms to trample on the being of God, and desire to show that He Who by creation brought into being all things that are, is Himself a part of creation, and wrest, to assist them in such an effort to establish their blasphemy, the words of Peter, who said to the Jews, "Be it known to all the house of Israel that God made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified [798] ." This is the proof they present for the statement that the essence of the Only-begotten God is created! What? tell me, were the Jews, to whom the words were spoken, in existence before the ages? was the Cross before the world? was Pilate before all creation? was Jesus in existence first, and after that the Word? was the flesh more ancient than the Godhead? did Gabriel bring glad tidings to Mary before the world was? did not the Man that was in Christ take beginning by way of birth in the days of Cæsar Augustus, while the Word that was God in the beginning is our King, as the prophet testifies, before all ages [799] ? See you not what confusion you bring upon the matter, turning, as the phrase goes, things upside down? It was the fiftieth day after the Passion, when Peter preached his sermon to the Jews and said, "Him Whom ye crucified, God made Christ and Lord." Do you not mark the order of his saying? which stands first, which second in his words? He did not say, "Him Whom God made Lord, ye crucified," but, "Whom ye crucified, Him God made Christ and Lord": so that it is clear from this that Peter is speaking, not of what was before the ages, but of what was after the dispensation.

How comes it, then, that you fail to see that the whole conception of your argument on the subject is being overthrown, and go on making yourself ridiculous with your childish web of sophistry, saying that, if we believe that He who was apparent to the senses has been made by God to be Christ and Lord, it necessarily follows that the Lord once more "emptied Himself" anew to become Man, and underwent a second birth? What advantage does your doctrine get from this? How does what you say show the King of creation to be created? For my own part I assert on the other side that our view is supported by those who contend against us, and that the rhetorician, in his exceeding attention to the matter, has failed to see that in pushing, as he supposed, the argument to an absurdity, he is fighting on the side of those whom he attacks, with the very weapons he uses for their overthrow. For if we are to believe that the change of condition in the case of Jesus was from a lofty state to a lowly one, and if the Divine and uncreated Nature alone transcends the creation, he will, perhaps, when he thoroughly surveys his own argument, come over to the ranks of truth, and agree that the Uncreated came to be in the created, in His love for man. But if he imagines that he demonstrates the created character of the Lord by showing that He, being God, took part in human nature, he will find many such passages to establish the same opinion which carry out their support of his argument in a similar way. For since He was the Word and was God, and "afterwards," as the prophet says, "was seen upon earth and conversed with men [800] ," He will hereby be proved to be one of the creatures! And if this is held to be beside the question, similar passages too are not quite akin to the subject. For in sense it is just the same to say that the Word that was in the beginning was manifested to men through the flesh, and to say that being in the form of God He put on the form of a servant: and if one of these statements gives no help for the establishment of his blasphemy, he must needs give up the remaining one also. He is kind enough, however, to advise us to abandon our error, and to point out the truth which He himself maintains. He tells us that the Apostle Peter declares Him to have been made Who was in the beginning the Word and God. Well, if he were making up dreams for our amusement, and giving us information about the prophetic interpretation of the visions of sleep, there might be no risk in allowing him to set forth the riddles of his imagination at his pleasure. But when he tells us that he is explaining the Divine utterances, it is no longer safe for us to leave him to interpret the words as he likes. What does the Scripture say? "God made Lord and Christ this Jesus whom ye crucified [801] ." When everything, then, is found to concur--the demonstrative word denoting Him Who is spoken of by the Name of His Humanity, the charge against those who were stained with blood-guiltiness, the suffering of the Cross--our thought necessarily turns to that which was apparent to the senses. But he asserts that while Peter uses these words it is the pretemporal existence that is indicated by the word "made" [802] . Well, we may safely allow nurses and old wives to jest with children, and to lay down the meaning of dreams as they choose: but when inspired Scripture is set before us for exposition, the great Apostle forbids us to have recourse to old wives' tattle [803] . When I hear "the Cross" spoken of, I understand the Cross, and when I hear mention of a human name, I understand the nature which that name connotes. So when I hear from Peter that "this" one was made Lord and Christ, I do not doubt that he speaks of Him Who had been before the eyes of men, since the saints agree with one another in this matter as well as in others. For, as he says that He Who was crucified has been made Lord, so Paul also says that He was "highly exalted [804] ," after the Passion and the Resurrection, not being exalted in so far forth as He is God. For what height is there more sublime than the Divine height, that he should say God was exalted thereunto? But he means that the lowliness of the Humanity was exalted, the word, I suppose, indicating the assimilation and union of the Man Who was assumed to the exalted state of the Divine Nature. And even if one were to allow him licence to misinterpret the Divine utterance, not even so will his argument conclude in accordance with the aim of his heresy. For be it granted that Peter does say of Him Who was in the beginning, "God made Him Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified," we shall find that even so his blasphemy does not gain any strength against the truth. "God made Him," he says, "Lord and Christ." To which of the words are we to refer the word made? with which of those that are employed in this sentence are we to connect the word? There are three before us:--"this," and "Lord," and "Christ." With which of these three will he construct the word "made"? No one is so bold against the truth as to deny that "made" has reference to "Christ" and "Lord"; for Peter says that He, being already whatever He was, was "made Christ and Lord" by the Father.

These words are not mine: they are those of him who fights against the Word. For he says, in the very passage that is before us for examination, exactly thus:--"The blessed Peter speaks of Him Who was in the beginning and was God, and expounds to us that it was He Who became Lord and Christ." Eunomius, then, says that He Who was whatsoever He was became Lord and Christ, as the history of David tells us that he, being the son of Jesse, and a keeper of the flocks, was anointed to be king: not that the anointing then made him to be a man, but that he, being what he was by his own nature, was transformed from an ordinary man to a king. What follows? Is it thereby the more established that the essence of the Son was made, if, as Eunomius says, God made Him, when He was in the beginning and was God, both Lord and Christ? For Lordship is not a name of His being but of His being in authority, and the appellation of Christ indicates His kingdom, while the idea of His kingdom is one, and that of His Nature another. Suppose that Scripture does say that these things took place with regard to the Son of God. Let us then consider which is the more pious and the more rational view. Which can we allowably say is made partaker of superiority by way of advancement--God or man? Who has so childish a mind as to suppose that the Divinity passes on to perfection by way of addition? But as to the Human Nature, such a supposition is not unreasonable, seeing that the words of the Gospel clearly ascribe to our Lord increase in respect of His Humanity: for it says, "Jesus increased in wisdom and stature and favour [805] ." Which, then, is the more reasonable suggestion to derive from the Apostle's words?--that He Who was God in the beginning became Lord by way of advancement, or that the lowliness of the Human Nature was raised to the height of majesty as a result of its communion with the Divine? For the prophet David also, speaking in the person of the Lord, says, "I am established as king by Him [806] ," with a meaning very close to "I was made Christ:" and again, in the person of the Father to the Lord, he says, "Be Thou Lord in the midst of Thine enemies [807] ," with the same meaning as Peter, "Be Thou made Lord of Thine enemies." As, then, the establishment of His kingdom does not signify the formation of His essence, but the advance to His dignity, and He Who bids Him "be Lord" does not command that which is non-existent to come into being at that particular time, but gives to Him Who is the rule over those who are disobedient,--so also the blessed Peter, when he says that one has been made Christ (that is, king of all) adds the word "Him" to distinguish the idea both from the essence and from the attributes contemplated in connection with it. For He made Him what has been declared when He already was that which He is. Now if it were allowable to assert of the transcendent Nature that it became anything by way of advancement, as a king from being an ordinary man, or lofty from being lowly, or Lord from being servant, it might be proper to apply Peter's words to the Only-begotten. But since the Divine Nature, whatever it is believed to be, always remains the same, being above all augmentation and incapable of diminution, we are absolutely compelled to refer his saying to the Humanity. For God the Word is now, and always remains, that which He was in the beginning, always King, always Lord, always God and Most High, not having become any of these things by way of advancement, but being in virtue of His Nature all that He is declared to be, while on the other hand He Who was, by being assumed, elevated from Man to the Divinity, being one thing and becoming another, is strictly and truly said to have become Christ and Lord. For He made Him to be Lord from being a servant, to be King from being a subject, to be Christ from being in subordination. He highly exalted that which was lowly, and gave to Him that had the Human Name that Name which is above every name [808] . And thus came to pass that unspeakable mixture and conjunction of human littleness commingled with Divine greatness, whereby even those names which are great and Divine are properly applied to the Humanity, while on the other hand the Godhead is spoken of by human names [809] . For it is the same Person who both has the Name which is above every name, and is worshipped by all creation in the human Name of Jesus. For he says, "at the name of Jesus every knee shall bow, of things in heaven and things in earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father [810] ." But enough of these matters.


Footnotes

[791] Acts ii. 36. [792] Ps. cxix. 91. [793] Reading kath' humas with the earlier editions. Oehler alleges no authority for his reading kath' hemas, which is probably a mere misprint. [794] Oehler's punctuation here seems to require correction. [795] Acts ii. 36. [796] 2 Cor. xiii. 4. [797] Cf. 2 Cor. v. 21 [798] Acts ii. 36. [799] Ps. lxxiv. 12 (LXX.). [800] Bar. iii. 37. [801] Acts ii. 36. [802] Altering Oehler's punctuation, which here seems certainly faulty: some slighter alterations have also been made in what precedes, and in what follows. [803] Cf. 1 Tim. iv. 7. The quotation is not verbal. [804] Cf. Phil. ii. 9 [805] S. Luke ii. 52 [806] Ps. ii. 6 (LXX). [807] Ps. cx. 2. [808] Cf. Phil. ii. 9 [809] This passage may be taken as counterbalancing that in which S. Gregory seems to limit the communicatio idiomatum (see above, page 184, n. 6): but he here probably means no more than that names or titles which properly belong to the Human Nature of our Lord are applied to His Divine Personality. [810] Cf. Phil. ii. 10


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