Writings of Gregory of Nyssa - Against Eunomius - Book VII

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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 VII.


1. The seventh book shows from various statements made to the Corinthians and to the Hebrews, and from the words of the Lord, that the word "Lord" is not expressive of essence, according to Eunomius' exposition, but of dignity. and after many notable remarks concerning "the Spirit" and the Lord, he shows that Eunomius, from his own words, is found to argue in favour of orthodoxy, though without intending it, and to be struck by his own shafts.

Since, however, Eunomius asserts that the word "Lord" is used in reference to the essence and not to the dignity of the Only-begotten, and cites as a witness to this view the Apostle, when he says to the Corinthians, "Now the Lord is the Spirit [811] ," it may perhaps be opportune that we should not pass over even this error on his part without correction. He asserts that the word "Lord" is significative of essence, and by way of proof of this assumption he brings up the passage above mentioned. "The Lord," it says, "is the Spirit [812] ." But our friend who interprets Scripture at his own sweet will calls "Lordship" by the name of "essence," and thinks to bring his statement to proof by means of the words quoted. Well, if it had been said by Paul, "Now the Lord is essence," we too would have concurred in his argument. But seeing that the inspired writing on the one side says, "the Lord is the Spirit," and Eunomius says on the other, "Lordship is essence," I do not know where he finds support for his statement, unless he is prepared to say again [813] that the word "Spirit" stands in Scripture for "essence." Let us consider, then, whether the Apostle anywhere, in his use of the term "Spirit," employs that word to indicate "essence." He says, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our Spirit [814] ," and "no one knoweth the things of a man save the Spirit of man which is in him [815] ," and "the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life [816] ," and "if ye through the Spirit do mortify the deeds of the body, ye shall live [817] ," and "if we live in the Spirit let us also walk in the Spirit [818] ." Who indeed could count the utterances of the Apostle on this point? and in them we nowhere find "essence" signified by this word. For he who says that "the Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit," signifies nothing else than the Holy Spirit Which comes to be in the mind of the faithful; for in many other passages of his writings he gives the name of spirit to the mind, on the reception by which of the communion of the Spirit the recipients attain the dignity of adoption. Again, in the passage, "No one knoweth the things of a man save the spirit of man which is in him," if "man" is used of the essence, and "spirit" likewise, it will follow from the phrase that the man is maintained to be of two essences. Again, I know not how he who says that "the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life," sets "essence" in opposition to "letter"; nor, again, how this writer imagines that when Paul says that we ought "through the Spirit" to destroy "the deeds of the body," he is directing the signification of "spirit" to express "essence"; while as for "living in the Spirit," and "walking in the Spirit," this would be quite unintelligible if the sense of the word "Spirit" referred to "essence." For in what else than in essence do all we who are alive partake of life?--thus when the Apostle is laying down advice for us on this matter that we should "live in essence," it is as though he said "partake of life by means of yourselves, and not by means of others." If then it is not possible that this sense can be adopted in any passage, how can Eunomius here once more imitate the interpreters of dreams, and bid us to take "spirit" for "essence," to the end that he may arrive in due syllogistic form at his conclusion that the word "Lord" is applied to the essence?--for if "spirit" is "essence" (he argues), and "the Lord is Spirit," the "Lord" is clearly found to be "essence." How incontestable is the force of this attempt! How can we evade or resolve this irrefragable necessity of demonstration? The word "Lord," he says, is spoken of the essence. How does he maintain it? Because the Apostle says, "The Lord is the Spirit." Well, what has this to do with essence? He gives us the further instruction that "spirit" is put for "essence." These are the arts of his demonstrative method! These are the results of his Aristotelian science! This is why, in your view, we are so much to be pitied, who are uninitiated in this wisdom! and you of course are to be deemed happy, who track out the truth by a method like this--that the Apostle's meaning was such that we are to suppose "the Spirit" was put by him for the Essence of the Only-begotten!

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Then how will you make it fit with what follows? For when Paul says, "Now the Lord is the Spirit," he goes on to say, "and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty." If then "the Lord is the Spirit," and "Spirit" means "essence," what are we to understand by "the essence of the essence"? He speaks again of another Spirit of the Lord Who is the Spirit,--that is to say, according to your interpretation, of another essence. Therefore in your view the Apostle, when he writes expressly of "the Lord the Spirit," and of "the Spirit of the Lord," means nothing else than an essence of an essence. Well, let Eunomius make what he likes of that which is written; what we understand of the matter is as follows. The Scripture, "given by inspiration of God," as the Apostle calls it, is the Scripture of the Holy Spirit, and its intention is the profit of men. For "every scripture," he says, "is given by inspiration of God and is profitable"; and the profit is varied and multiform, as the Apostle says--"for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness [819] ." Such a boon as this, however, is not within any man's reach to lay hold of, but the Divine intention lies hid under the body of the Scripture, as it were under a veil, some legislative enactment or some historical narrative being cast over the truths that are contemplated by the mind. For this reason, then, the Apostle tells us that those who look upon the body of the Scripture have "a veil upon their heart [820] ," and are not able to look upon the glory of the spiritual law, being hindered by the veil that has been cast over the face of the law-giver. Wherefore he says, "the letter killeth, but the Spirit giveth life," showing that often the obvious interpretation, if it be not taken according to the proper sense, has an effect contrary to that life which is indicated by the Spirit, seeing that this lays down for all men the perfection of virtue in freedom from passion, while the history contained in the writings sometimes embraces the exposition even of facts incongruous, and is understood, so to say, to concur with the passions of our nature, whereto if any one applies himself according to the obvious sense, he will make the Scripture a doctrine of death. Accordingly, he says that over the perceptive powers of the souls of men who handle what is written in too corporeal a manner, the veil is cast; but for those who turn their contemplation to that which is the object of the intelligence, there is revealed, bared, as it were, of a mask, the glory that underlies the letter. And that which is discovered by this more exalted perception he says is the Lord, which is the Spirit. For he says, "when it shall turn to the Lord the veil shall be taken away: now the Lord is the Spirit [821] ." And in so saying he makes a distinction of contrast between the lordship of the spirit and the bondage of the letter; for as that which gives life is opposed to that which kills, so he contrasts "the Lord" with bondage. And that we may not be under any confusion when we are instructed concerning the Holy Spirit (being led by the word "Lord" to the thought of the Only-begotten), for this reason he guards the word by repetition, both saying that "the Lord is the Spirit," and making further mention of "the Spirit of the Lord," that the supremacy of His Nature may be shown by the honour implied in lordship, while at the same time he may avoid confusing in his argument the individuality of His Person. For he who calls Him both "Lord" and "Spirit of the Lord," teaches us to conceive of Him as a separate individual besides the Only-begotten; just as elsewhere he speaks of "the Spirit of Christ [822] ," employing fairly and in its mystic sense this very term which is piously employed in the system of doctrine according to the Gospel tradition. Thus we, the "most miserable of all men," being led onward by the Apostle in the mysteries, pass from the letter that killeth to the Spirit that giveth life, learning from Him Who was in Paradise initiated into the unspeakable mysteries, that all things the Divine Scripture says are utterances of the Holy Spirit. For "well did the Holy Spirit prophesy [823] ,"--this he says to the Jews in Rome, introducing the words of Isaiah; and to the Hebrews, alleging the authority of the Holy Spirit in the words, "wherefore as saith the Holy Spirit [824] ," he adduces the words of the Psalm which are spoken at length in the person of God; and from the Lord Himself we learn the same thing,--that David declared the heavenly mysteries not "in" himself (that is, not speaking according to human nature). For how could any one, being but man, know the supercelestial converse of the Father with the Son? But being "in the Spirit" he said that the Lord spoke to the Lord those words which He has uttered. For if, He says, "David in the Spirit calls him Lord, how is He then his son [825] ?" Thus it is by the power of the Spirit that the holy men who are under Divine influence are inspired, and every Scripture is for this reason said to be "given by inspiration of God," because it is the teaching of the Divine afflatus. If the bodily veil of the words were removed, that which remains is Lord and life and Spirit, according to the teaching of the great Paul, and according to the words of the Gospel also. For Paul declares that he who turns from the letter to the Spirit no longer apprehends the bondage that slays, but the Lord which is the life-giving Spirit; and the sublime Gospel says, "the words that I speak are spirit and are life [826] ," as being divested of the bodily veil. The idea, however, that "the Spirit" is the essence of the Only-begotten, we shall leave to our dreamers: or rather, we shall make use, ex abundanti, of what they say, and arm the truth with the weapons of the adversary. For it is allowable that the Egyptian should be spoiled by the Israelites, and that we should make their wealth an ornament for ourselves. If the essence of the Son is called "Spirit," and God also is Spirit, (for so the Gospel tells us [827] ), clearly the essence of the Father is called "Spirit" also. But if it is their peculiar argument that things which are introduced by different names are different also in nature, the conclusion surely is, that things which are named alike are not alien one from the other in nature either. Since then, according to their account, the essence of the Father and that of the Son are both called "Spirit," hereby is clearly proved the absence of any difference in essence. For a little further on Eunomius says:--"Of those essences which are divergent the appellations significant of essence are also surely divergent, but where there is one and the same name, that which is declared by the same appellation will surely be one also":--so that at all points "He that taketh the wise in their own craftiness [828] " has turned the long labours of our author, and the infinite toil spent on what he has elaborated, to the establishment of the doctrine which we maintain. For if God is in the Gospel called "Spirit," and the essence of the Only-begotten is maintained by Eunomius to be "Spirit," as there is no apparent difference in the one name as compared with the other, neither, surely, will the things signified by the names be mutually different in nature.

And now that I have exposed this futile and pointless sham-argument, it seems to me that I may well pass by without discussion what he next puts together by way of attack upon our master's statement. For a sufficient proof of the folly of his remarks is to be found in his actual argument, which of itself proclaims aloud its feebleness. To be entangled in a contest with such things as this is like trampling on the slain. For when he sets forth with much confidence some passage from our master, and treats it with preliminary slander and contempt, and promises that he will show it to be worth nothing at all, he meets with the same fortune as befalls small children, to whom their imperfect and immature intelligence, and the untrained condition of their perceptive faculties, do not give an accurate understanding of what they see. Thus they often imagine that the stars are but a little way above their heads, and pelt them with clods when they appear, in their childish folly; and then, when the clod falls, they clap their hands and laugh and brag to their comrades as if their throw had reached the stars themselves. Such is the man who casts at the truth with his childish missile, who sets forth like the stars those splendid sayings of our master, and then hurls from the ground,--from his downtrodden and grovelling understanding,--his earthy and unstable arguments. And these, when they have gone so high that they have no place to fall from, turn back again of themselves by their own weight [829] . Now the passage of the great Basil is worded as follows [830] :--

"Yet what sane man would agree with the statement that of those things of which the names are different the essences must needs be divergent also? For the appellations of Peter and Paul, and, generally speaking, of men, are different, while the essence of all is one: wherefore, in most respects we are mutually identical, and differ one from another only in those special properties which are observed in individuals: and hence also appellations are not indicative of essence, but of the properties which mark the particular individual. Thus, when we hear of Peter, we do not by the name understand the essence (and by `essence' I here mean the material substratum), but we are impressed with the conception of the properties which we contemplate in him." These are the great man's words. And what skill he who disputes this statement displays against us, we learn,--any one, that is, who has leisure for wasting time on unprofitable matters,--from the actual composition of Eunomius.

From his writings, I say, for I do not like to insert in my own work the nauseous stuff our rhetorician utters, or to display his ignorance and folly to contempt in the midst of my own arguments. He goes on with a sort of eulogy upon the class of significant words which express the subject, and, in his accustomed style, patches and sticks together the cast-off rags of phrases: poor Isocrates is nibbled at once more, and shorn of words and figures to make out the point proposed,--here and there even the Hebrew Philo receives the same treatment, and makes him a contribution of phrases from his own labours,--yet not even thus is this much-stitched and many-coloured web of words finished off, but every assault, every defence of his conceptions, all his artistic preparation, spontaneously collapses, and, as commonly happens with the bubbles when the drops, borne down from above through a body of waters against some obstacle, produce those foamy swellings which, as soon as they gather, immediately dissolve, and leave upon the water no trace of their own formation--such are the air-bubbles of our author's thoughts, vanishing without a touch at the moment they are put forth. For after all these irrefragable statements, and the dreamy philosophizing wherein he asserts that the distinct character of the essence is apprehended by the divergence of names, as some mass of foam borne downstream breaks up when it comes into contact with any more solid body, so his argument, following its own spontaneous course, and coming unexpectedly into collision with the truth, disperses into nothingness its unsubstantial and bubble-like fabric of falsehood. For he speaks in these words:--"Who is so foolish and so far removed from the constitution of men, as, in discoursing of men to speak of one as a man, and, calling another a horse, so to compare them?" I would answer him,--"You are right in calling any one foolish who makes such blunders in the use of names. And I will employ for the support of the truth the testimony you yourself give. For if it is a piece of extreme folly to call one a horse and another a man, supposing both were really men, it is surely a piece of equal stupidity, when the Father is confessed to be God, and the Son is confessed to be God, to call the one `created' and the other `uncreated,' since, as in the other case humanity, so in this case the Godhead does not admit a change of name to that expressive of another kind. For what the irrational is with respect to man, that also the creature is with respect to the Godhead, being equally unable to receive the same name with the nature that is superior to it. And as it is not possible to apply the same definition to the rational animal and the quadruped alike (for each is naturally differentiated by its special property from the other), so neither can you express by the same terms the created and the uncreated essence, seeing that those attributes which are predicated of the latter essence are not discoverable in the former. For as rationality is not discoverable in a horse, nor solidity of hoofs in a man, so neither is Godhead discoverable in the creature, nor the attribute of being created in the Godhead: but if He be God He is certainly not created, and if He be created He is not God; unless [831] , of course, one were to apply by some misuse or customary mode of expression the mere name of Godhead, as some horses have men's names given them by their owners; yet neither is the horse a man, though he be called by a human name, nor is the created being God, even though some claim for him the name of Godhead, and give him the benefit of the empty sound of a dissyllable." Since, then, Eunomius' heretical statement is found spontaneously to fall in with the truth, let him take his own advice and stand by his own words, and by no means retract his own utterances, but consider that the man is really foolish and stupid who names the subject not according as it is, but says "horse" for "man," and "sea" for "sky," and "creature" for "God." And let no one think it unreasonable that the creature should be set in opposition to God, but have regard to the prophets and to the Apostles. For the prophet says in the person of the Father, "My Hand made all these things" [832] , meaning by "Hand," in his dark saying, the power of the Only-begotten. Now the Apostle says that all things are of the Father, and that all things are by the Son [833] , and the prophetic spirit in a way agrees with the Apostolic teaching, which itself also is given through the Spirit. For in the one passage, the prophet, when he says that all things are the work of the Hand of Him Who is over all, sets forth the nature of those things which have come into being in its relation to Him Who made them, while He Who made them is God over all, Who has the Hand, and by It makes all things. And again, in the other passage, the Apostle makes the same division of entities, making all things depend upon their productive cause, yet not reckoning in the number of "all things" that which produces them: so that we are hereby taught the difference of nature between the created and the uncreated, and it is shown that, in its own nature, that which makes is one thing and that which is produced is another. Since, then, all things are of God, and the Son is God, the creation is properly opposed to the Godhead; while, since the Only-begotten is something else than the nature of the universe (seeing that not even those who fight against the truth contradict this), it follows of necessity that the Son also is equally opposed to the creation, unless the words of the saints are untrue which testify that by Him all things were made.


Footnotes

[811] 2 Cor. iii. 17. [812] 2 Cor. iii. 17. [813] It is not quite clear whether palin is to be constructed with legoi or with keisthai, but the difference in sense is slight. [814] Rom. viii. 16. [815] 1 Cor. ii. 11. [816] 2 Cor. iii. 6. [817] Rom. viii. 13. [818] Gal. v. 25. [819] 2 Tim. iii. 16. [820] 2 Cor. iii. 15. [821] 2 Cor. iii. 16, 17. [822] Rom. viii. 9. [823] Cf. Acts xxviii. 25. [824] Heb. iii. 7. [825] S. Matt. xxii. 45; Cf. Ps. cx. 1. [826] Cf. S. John vi. 63 [827] S. John iv. 24 [828] 1 Cor. iii. 19; cf. Job v. 13. [829] Altering Oehler's punctuation slightly. [830] S. Basil adv. Eunomium II. 4 (p. 240 C.). The quotation as here given is not in exact verbal agreement with the Benedictine text. [831] Altering Oehler's punctuation. [832] Is. lxvi. 2. Not verbally from the LXX. [833] Cf. 1 Cor. viii. 6.


2. He then declares that the close relation between names and things is immutable, and thereafter proceeds accordingly, in the most excellent manner, with his discourse concerning "generated" and "ungenerate."

Now seeing that the Only-begotten is in the Divine Scriptures proclaimed to be God, let Eunomius consider his own argument, and condemn for utter folly the man who parts the Divine into created and uncreated, as he does him who divides "man" into "horse" and "man." For he himself says, a little further on, after his intermediate nonsense, "the close relation of names to things is immutable," where he himself by this statement assents to the fixed character of the true connection of appellations with their subject. If, then, the name of Godhead is properly employed in close connection with the Only-begotten God (and Eunomius, though he may desire to be out of harmony with us, will surely concede that the Scripture does not lie, and that the name of the Godhead is not inharmoniously attributed to the Only-begotten), let him persuade himself by his own reasoning that if "the close relation of names to things is immutable," and the Lord is called by the name of "God," he cannot apprehend any difference in respect of the conception of Godhead between the Father and the Son, seeing that this name is common to both,--or rather not this name only, but there is a long list of names in which the Son shares, without divergence of meaning, the appellations of the Father,--"good," "incorruptible," "just," "judge," "long-suffering," "merciful," "eternal," "everlasting," all that indicate the expression of majesty of nature and power,--without any reservation being made in His case in any of the names in regard of the exalted nature of the conception. But Eunomius passes by, as it were with closed eye, the number, great as it is, of the Divine appellations, and looks only to one point, his "generate and ungenerate,"--trusting to a slight and weak cord his doctrine, tossed and driven as it is by the blasts of error.

He asserts that "no man who has any regard for the truth either calls any generated thing `ungenerate,' or calls God Who is over all `Son' or `generate.'" This statement needs no further arguments on our part for its refutation. For he does not shelter his craft with any veils, as his wont is, but treats the inversion of his absurd statement as equivalent [834] , while he says that neither is any generated thing spoken of as "ungenerate," nor is God Who is over all called "Son" or "generate," without making any special distinction for the Only-begotten Godhead of the Son as compared with the rest of the "generated," but makes his opposition of "all things that have come into being" to "God" without discrimination, not excepting the Son from "all things." And in the inversion of his absurdities he clearly separates, forsooth, the Son from the Divine Nature, when he says that neither is any generated thing spoken of as "ungenerate," nor is God called "Son" or "generate," and manifestly reveals by this contradistinction the horrid character of his blasphemy. For when he has distinguished the "things that have come into being" from the "ungenerate," he goes on to say, in that antistrophal induction of his, that it is impossible to call (not the "unbegotten," but) "God," "Son" or "generate," trying by these words to show that which is not ungenerate is not God, and that the Only-begotten God is, by the fact of being begotten, as far removed from being God as the ungenerate is from being generated in fact or in name. For it is not in ignorance of the consequence of his argument that he makes an inversion of the terms employed thus inharmonious and incongruous: it is in his assault on the doctrine of orthodoxy that he opposes "the Godhead" to "the generate"--and this is the point he tries to establish by his words, that that which is not ungenerate is not God. What was the true sequence of his argument? that having said "no generated thing is ungenerate," he should proceed with the inference, "nor, if anything is naturally ungenerate, can it be generate." Such a statement at once contains truth and avoids blasphemy. But now by his premise that no generated thing is ungenerate, and his inference that God is not generated, he clearly shuts out the Only-begotten God from being God, laying down that because He is not ungenerate, neither is He God. Do we then need any further proofs to expose this monstrous blasphemy? Is not this enough by itself to serve for a record against the adversary of Christ, who by the arguments cited maintains that the Word, Who in the beginning was God, is not God? What need is there to engage further with such men as this? For we do not entangle ourselves in controversy with those who busy themselves with idols and with the blood that is shed upon their altars, not that we acquiesce in the destruction of those who are besotted about idols, but because their disease is too strong for our treatment. Thus, just as the fact itself declares idolatry, and the evil that men do boldly and arrogantly anticipates the reproach of those who accuse it, so here too I think that the advocates of orthodoxy should keep silence towards one who openly proclaims his impiety to his own discredit, just as medicine also stands powerless in the case of a cancerous complaint, because the disease is too strong for the art to deal with.


Footnotes

[834] That is, in making a rhetorical inversion of a proposition in itself objectionable, he so re-states it as to make it really a different proposition while treating it as equivalent. The original proposition is objectionable as classing the Son with all generated existences: the inversion of it, because the term "God" is substituted illicitly for the term "ungenerate."


3. Thereafter he discusses the divergence of names and of things, speaking, of that which is ungenerate as without a cause, and of that which is non-existent, as the Scindapsus, Minotaur, Blityri, Cyclops, Scylla, which never were generated at all, and shows that things which are essentially different, are mutually destructive, as fire of water, and the rest in their several relations. But in the case of the Father and the Son, as the essence is common, and the properties reciprocally interchangeable, no injury results to the Nature.

Since, however, after the passage cited above, he professes that he will allege something stronger still, let us examine this also, as well as the passage cited, lest we should seem to be withdrawing our opposition in face of an overwhelming force. "If, however," he says, "I am to abandon all these positions, and fall back upon my stronger argument, I would say this, that even if all the terms that he advances by way of refutation were established, our statement will none the less be manifestly shown to be true. If, as will be admitted, the divergence of the names which are significant of properties marks the divergence of the things, it is surely necessary to allow that with the divergence of the names significant of essence is also marked the divergence of the essences. And this would be found to hold good in all cases, I mean in the case of essences, energies, colours, figures, and other qualities. For we denote by divergent appellations the different essences, fire and water, air and earth, cold and heat, white and black, triangle and circle. Why need we mention the intelligible essences, in enumerating which the Apostle marks, by difference of names, the divergence of essence?"

Who would not be dismayed at this irresistible power of attack? The argument transcends the promise, the experience is more terrible than the threat. "I will come," he says, "to my stronger argument." What is it? That as the differences of properties are recognized by those names which signify the special attributes, we must of course, he says, allow that differences of essence are also expressed by divergence of names. What then are these appellations of essences by which we learn the divergence of Nature between the Father and the son? He talks of fire and water, air and earth, cold and heat, white and black, triangle and circle. His illustrations have won him the day: his argument carries all before it: I cannot contradict the statement that those names which are entirely incommunicable indicate difference of natures. But our man of keen and quick-sighted intellect has just missed seeing these points:--that in this case the Father is God and the Son is God; that "just," and "incorruptible," and all those names which belong to the Divine Nature, are used equally of the Father and of the Son; and thus, if the divergent character of appellations indicates difference of natures, the community of names will surely show the common character of the essence. And if we must agree that the Divine essence is to be expressed by names [835] , it would behove us to apply to that Nature these lofty and Divine names rather than the terminology of "generate" and "ungenerate," because "good" and "incorruptible," "just" and "wise," and all such terms as these are strictly applicable only to that Nature which passes all understanding, whereas "generated" exhibits community of name with even the inferior forms of the lower creation. For we call a dog, and a frog, and all things that come into the world by way of generation, "generated." And moreover, the term "ungenerate" is not only employed of that which exists without a cause, but has also a proper application to that which is nonexistent. The Scindapsus [836] is called ungenerate, the Blityri [837] is ungenerate, the Minotaur is ungenerate, the Cyclops, Scylla, the Chimæra are ungenerate, not in the sense of existing without generation, but in the sense of never having come into being at all. If, then, the names more peculiarly Divine are common to the Son with the Father, and if it is the others, those which are equivocally employed either of the non-existent or of the lower animals--if it is these, I say, which are divergent, let his "generate and ungenerate" be so: Eunomius' powerful argument against us itself upholds the cause of truth in testifying that there is no divergence in respect of nature, because no divergence can be perceived in the names [838] . But if he asserts the difference of essence to exist between the "generate" and the "ungenerate," as it does between fire and water, and is of opinion that the names, like those which he has mentioned in his examples, are in the same mutual relation as "fire" and "water," the horrid character of his blasphemy will here again be brought to light, even if we hold our peace. For fire and water have a nature mutually destructive, and each is destroyed, if it comes to be in the other, by the prevalence of the more powerful element. If, then, he lays down the doctrine that the Nature of the Ungenerate differs thus from that of the Only-begotten, it is surely clear that he logically makes this destructive opposition to be involved in the divergence of their essences, so that their nature will be, by this reasoning, incompatible and incommunicable, and the one would be consumed by the other, if both should be found to be mutually inclusive or co-existent.

How then is the Son "in the Father" without being destroyed, and how does the Father, coming to be "in the Son," remain continually unconsumed, if, as Eunomius says, the special attribute of fire, as compared with water, is maintained in the relation of the Generate to the Ungenerate? Nor does their definition regard communion as existing between earth and air, for the former is stable, solid, resistent, of downward tendency and heavy, while air has a nature made up of the contrary attributes. So white and black are found in opposition among colours, and men are agreed that the circle is not the same with the triangle, for each, according to the definition of its figure, is precisely that which the other is not. But I am unable to discover where he sees the opposition in the case of God the Father and God the Only-begotten Son. One goodness, wisdom, justice, providence, power, incorruptibility,--all other attributes of exalted significance are similarly predicated of each, and the one has in a certain sense His strength in the other; for on the one hand the Father makes all things through the Son, and on the other hand the Only-begotten works all in Himself, being the Power of the Father. Of what avail, then, are fire and water to show essential diversity in the Father and the Son? He calls us, moreover, "rash" for instancing the unity of nature and difference of persons of Peter and Paul, and says we are guilty of gross recklessness, if we apply our argument to the contemplation of the objects of pure reason by the aid of material examples. Fitly, fitly indeed, does the corrector of our errors reprove us for rashness in interpreting the Divine Nature by material illustrations! Why then, deliberate and circumspect sir, do you talk about the elements? Is earth immaterial, fire an object of pure reason, water incorporeal, air beyond the perception of the senses? Is your mind so well directed to its aim, are you so keen-sighted in all directions in your promulgation of this argument, that your adversaries cannot lay hold of, that you do not see in yourself the faults you blame in those you are accusing? Or are we to make concessions to you when you are establishing the diversity of essence by material aid, and to be ourselves rejected when we point out the kindred character of the Nature by means of examples within our compass?


Footnotes

[835] On this point, besides what follows here, see the treatise against Tritheism addressed to Ablabius. [836] These are names applied to denote existences purely imaginary; the other names belong to classical mythology. [837] These are names applied to denote existences purely imaginary; the other names belong to classical mythology. [838] That is, in the names more peculiarly appropriate to the Divine Nature.


4. He says that all things that are in creation have been named by man, if, as is the case, they are called differently by every nation, as also the appellation of "Ungenerate" is conferred by us: but that the proper appellation of the Divine essence itself which expresses the Divine Nature, either does not exist at all, or is unknown to us.

But Peter and Paul, he says, were named by men, and hence it comes that it is possible in their case to change the appellations. Why, what existing thing has not been named by men? I call you to testify on behalf of my argument. For if you make change of names a sign of things having been named by men, you will thereby surely allow that every name has been imposed upon things by us, since the same appellations of objects have not obtained universally. For as in the case of Paul who was once Saul, and of Peter who was formerly Simon, so earth and sky and air and sea and all the parts of the creation have not been named alike by all, but are named in one way by the Hebrews, and in another way by us, and are denoted by every nation by different names. If then Eunomius' argument is valid when he maintains that it was for this reason, to wit, that their names had been imposed by men, that Peter and Paul were named afresh, our teaching will surely be valid also, starting as it does from like premises, which says that all things are named by us, on the ground that their appellations vary according to the distinctions of nations. Now if all things are so, surely the Generate and the Ungenerate are not exceptions, for even they are among the things that change their name. For when we gather, as it were, into the form of a name the conception of any subject that arises in us, we declare our concept by words that vary at different times, not making, but signifying, the thing by the name we give it. For the things remain in themselves as they naturally are, while the mind, touching on existing things, reveals its thought by such words as are available. And just as the essence of Peter was not changed with the change of his name, so neither is any other of the things we contemplate changed in the process of mutation of names. And for this reason we say that the term "Ungenerate" was applied by us to the true and first Father Who is the Cause of all, and that no harm would result as regards the signifying of the Subject, if we were to acknowledge the same concept under another name. For it is allowable instead of speaking of Him as "Ungenerate," to call Him the "First Cause" or "Father of the Only-begotten," or to speak of Him as "existing without cause," and many such appellations which lead to the same thought; so that Eunomius confirms our doctrines by the very arguments in which he makes complaint against us, because we know no name significant of the Divine Nature. We are taught the fact of Its existence, while we assert that an appellation of such force as to include the unspeakable and infinite Nature, either does not exist at all, or at any rate is unknown to us. Let him then leave his accustomed language of fable, and show us the names which signify the essences, and then proceed further to divide the subject by the divergence of their names. But so long as the saying of the Scripture is true that Abraham and Moses were not capable of the knowledge of the Name, and that "no man hath seen God at any time [839] ," and that "no man hath seen Him, nor can see [840] ," and that the light around Him is unapproachable [841] , and "there is no end of His greatness [842] ";--so long as we say and believe these things, how like is an argument that promises any comprehension and expression of the infinite Nature, by means of the significance of names, to one who thinks that he can enclose the whole sea in his own hand! for as the hollow of one's hand is to the whole deep, so is all the power of language in comparison with that Nature which is unspeakable and incomprehensible.


Footnotes

[839] S. John i. 18 [840] 1 Tim. vi. 16. [841] 1 Tim. vi. 16. [842] Ps. cxlv. 3.


5. After much discourse concerning the actually existent, and ungenerate and good, and upon the consubstantiality of the heavenly powers, showing the uncharted character of their essence, yet the difference of their ranks, he ends the book.

Now in saying these things we do not intend to deny that the Father exists without generation, and we have no intention of refusing to agree to the statement that the Only-begotten God is generated;--on the contrary the latter has been generated, the former has not been generated. But what He is, in His own Nature, Who exists apart from generation, and what He is, Who is believed to have been generated, we do not learn from the signification of "having been generated," and "not having been generated." For when we say "this person was generated" (or "was not generated"), we are impressed with a two-fold thought, having our eyes turned to the subject by the demonstrative part of the phrase, and learning that which is contemplated in the subject by the words "was generated" or "was not generated,"--as it is one thing to think of that which is, and another to think of what we contemplate in that which is. But, moreover, the word "is" is surely understood with every name that is used concerning the Divine Nature,--as "just," "incorruptible," "immortal," and "ungenerate," and whatever else is said of Him; even if this word does not happen to occur in the phrase, yet the thought both of the speaker and the hearer surely makes the name attach to "is," so that if this word were not added, the appellation would be uttered in vain. For instance (for it is better to present an argument by way of illustration), when David says, "God, a righteous judge, strong and patient [843] ," if "is" were not understood with each of the epithets included in the phrase, the enumerations of the appellations will seem purposeless and unreal, not having any subject to rest upon; but when "is" is understood with each of the names, what is said will clearly be of force, being contemplated in reference to that which is. As, then, when we say "He is a judge," we conceive concerning Him some operation of judgment, and by the "is" carry our minds to the subject, and are hereby clearly taught not to suppose that the account of His being is the same with the action, so also as a result of saying, "He is generated (or ungenerate)," we divide our thought into a double conception, by "is" understanding the subject, and by "generated," or "ungenerate," apprehending that which belongs to the subject. As, then, when we are taught by David that God is "a judge," or "patient," we do not learn the Divine essence, but one of the attributes which are contemplated in it, so in this case too when we hear of His being not generated, we do not by this negative predication understand the subject, but are guided as to what we must not think concerning the subject, while what He essentially is remains as much as ever unexplained. So too, when Holy Scripture predicates the other Divine names of Him Who is, and delivers to Moses the Being without a name, it is for him who discloses the Nature of that Being, not to rehearse the attributes of the Being, but by his words to make manifest to us its actual Nature. For every name which you may use is an attribute of the Being, but is not the Being,--"good," "ungenerate," "incorruptible,"--but to each of these "is" does not fail to be supplied. Any one, then, who undertakes to give the account of this good Being, of this ungenerate Being, as He is, would speak in vain, if he rehearsed the attributes contemplated in Him, and were silent as to that essence which he undertakes by his words to explain. To be without generation is one of the attributes contemplated in the Being, but the definition of "Being" is one thing, and that of "being in some particular way" is another; and this [844] has so far remained untold and unexplained by the passages cited. Let him then first disclose to us the names of the essence, and then divide the Nature by the divergence of the appellations;--so long as what we require remains unexplained, it is in vain that he employs his scientific skill upon names, seeing that the names [845] have no separate existence.

Such then is Eunomius' stronger handle against the truth, while we pass by in silence many views which are to be found in this part of his composition; for it seems to me right that those who run in this armed race [846] against the enemies of the truth should arm themselves against those who are fairly fenced about with the plausibility of falsehood, and not defile their argument with such conceptions as are already dead and of offensive odour. His supposition that whatever things are united in the idea of their essence [847] must needs exist corporeally and be joined to corruption (for this he says in this part of his work), I shall willingly pass by like some cadaverous odour, since I think every reasonable man will perceive how dead and corrupt such an argument is. For who knows not that the multitude of human souls is countless, yet one essence underlies them all, and the consubstantial substratum in them is alien from bodily corruption? so that even children can plainly see the argument that bodies are corrupted and dissolved, not because they have the same essence one with another, but because of their possessing a compound nature. The idea of the compound nature is one, that of the common nature of their essence is another, so that it is true to say, "corruptible bodies are of one essence," but the converse statement is not true at all, if it be anything like, "this consubstantial nature is also surely corruptible," as is shown in the case of the souls which have one essence, while yet corruption does not attach to them in virtue of the community of essence. And the account given of the souls might properly be applied to every intellectual existence which we contemplate in creation. For the words brought together by Paul do not signify, as Eunomius will have them do, some mutually divergent natures of the supra-mundane powers; on the contrary, the sense of the names clearly indicates that he is mentioning in his argument, not diversities of natures, but the varied peculiarities of the operations of the heavenly host: for there are, he says, "principalities," and "thrones," and "powers," and "mights," and "dominions [848] ." Now these names are such as to make it at once clear to every one that their significance is arranged in regard to some operation. For to rule, and to exercise power and dominion, and to be the throne of some one,--all these conceptions would not be held by any one versed in argument to apply to diversities of essence, since it is clearly operation that is signified by every one of the names: so that any one who says that diversities of nature are signified by the names rehearsed by Paul deceives himself, "understanding," as the Apostle says, "neither what he says, nor whereof he affirms [849] ," since the sense of the names clearly shows that the Apostle recognizes in the intelligible powers distinctions of certain ranks, but does not by these names indicate varieties of essences.


Footnotes

[843] Cf. Ps. vii. 8 [844] What "this" means is not clear: it may be "the Being," but most probably is the distinction which S. Gregory is pointing out between the Being and Its attributes, which he considers has not been sufficiently recognized. [845] Reading ton onomaton ouk onton with the Paris editions. Oehler reads noematon, but does not give any authority for the change. [846] The metaphor seems slightly confused, being partly taken from a tournament, or gladiatorial contest, partly from a race in armour. [847] The word ousia seems to have had in Eunomius' mind something of the same idea of corporeal existence attaching to it which has been made to attach to the Latin "substantia," and to the English "substance." [848] Cf. Col. i. 16, and Eph. i. 21. [849] 1 Tim. i. 7.

.


Book VIII.


1. The eighth book very notably overthrows the blasphemy of the heretics who say that the Only-begotten came from nothing, and that there was a time when He was not, and shows the Son to be no new being, but from everlasting, from His having said to Moses, "I am He that is," and to Manoah, "Why askest thou My name? It also is wonderful";--moreover David also says to God, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail;" and furthermore Isaiah says, "I am God, the first, and hereafter am I:" and the Evangelist, "He was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God:"--and that He has neither beginning nor end: --and he proves that those who say that He is new and comes from nothing are idolaters. And herein he very finely interprets "the brightness of the glory, and the express image of the Person."

These, then, are the strong points of Eunomius' case; and I think that when those which promised to be powerful are proved by argument to be so rotten and unsubstantial, I may well keep silence concerning the rest, since the others are practically refuted, concurrently with the refutation of the stronger ones; just as it happens in warlike operations that when a force more powerful than the rest has been beaten, the remainder of the army are no longer of any account in the eyes of those by whom the strong portion of it has been overcome. But the fact that the chief part of his blasphemy lies in the later part of his discourse forbids me to be silent. For the transition of the Only-begotten from nothing into being, that horrid and godless doctrine of Eunomius, which is more to be shunned than all impiety, is next maintained in the order of his argument. And since every one who has been bewitched by this deceit has the phrase, "If He was, He has not been begotten, and if He has been begotten, He was not," ready upon his tongue for the maintenance of the doctrine that He Who made of nothing us and all the creation is Himself from nothing, and since the deceit obtains much support thereby, as men of feebler mind are pressed by this superficial bit of plausibility, and led to acquiesce in the blasphemy, we must needs not pass by this doctrinal "root of bitterness," lest, as the Apostle says, it "spring up and trouble us [850] ." Now I say that we must first of all consider the actual argument itself, apart from our contest with our opponents, and thus afterwards proceed to the examination and refutation of what they have set forth.

One mark of the true Godhead is indicated by the words of Holy Scripture, which Moses learnt by the voice from heaven, when He heard Him Who said, "I am He that is [851] ." We think it right, then, to believe that to be alone truly Divine which is represented as eternal and infinite in respect of being; and all that is contemplated therein is always the same, neither growing nor being consumed; so that if one should say of God, that formerly He was, but now is not, or that He now is, but formerly was not, we should consider each of the sayings alike to be godless: for by both alike the idea of eternity is mutilated, being cut short on one side or the other by non-existence, whether one contemplates "nothing" as preceding "being [852] ," or declares that "being" ends in "nothing"; and the frequent repetition of "first of all" or "last of all" concerning God's non-existence does not make amends for the impious conception touching the Divinity. For this reason we declare the maintenance of their doctrine as to the non-existence at some time of Him Who truly is, to be a denial and rejection of His true Godhead; and this on the ground that, on the one hand, He Who showed Himself to Moses by the light speaks of Himself as being, when He says, "I am He that is [853] ," while on the other, Isaiah (being made, so to say, the instrument of Him Who spoke in him) says in the person of Him that is, "I am the first, and hereafter am I [854] ," so that hereby, whichever way we consider it, we conceive eternity in God. And so, too, the word that was spoken to Manoah shows the fact that the Divinity is not comprehensible by the significance of His name, because, when Manoah asks to know His name, that, when the promise has come actually to pass, he may by name glorify his benefactor, He says to him, "Why askest thou this? It also is wonderful [855] "; so that by this we learn that there is one name significant of the Divine Nature--the wonder, namely, that arises unspeakably in our hearts concerning It. So, too, great David, in his discourses with himself, proclaims the same truth, in the sense that all the creation was brought into being by God, while He alone exists always in the same manner, and abides for ever, where he says, "But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail [856] ." When we hear these sayings, and others like them, from men inspired by God, let us leave all that is not from eternity to the worship of idolaters, as a new thing alien from the true Godhead. For that which now is, and formerly was not, is clearly new and not eternal, and to have regard to any new object of worship is called by Moses the service of demons, when he says, "They sacrificed to devils and not to God, to gods whom their fathers knew not; new gods were they that came newly up [857] ." If then everything that is new in worship is a service of demons, and is alien from the true Godhead, and if what is now, but was not always, is new and not eternal, we who have regard to that which is, necessarily reckon those who contemplate non-existence as attaching to Him Who is, and who say that "He once was not," among the worshippers of idols. For we may also see that the great John, when declaring in his own preaching the Only-begotten God, guards his own statement in every way, so that the conception of non-existence shall find no access to Him Who is. For he says [858] that He "was in the beginning," and "was with God," and "was God," and was light, and life, and truth, and all good things at all times, and never at any time failed to be anything that is excellent, Who is the fulness of all good, and is in the bosom of the Father. If then Moses lays down as a law for us some such mark of true Godhead as this, that we know nothing else of God but this one thing, that He is (for to this point the words, "I am He that is [859] "); while Isaiah in his preaching declares aloud the absolute infinity of Him Who is, defining the existence of God as having no regard to beginning or to end (for He Who says "I am the first, and hereafter am I," places no limit to His eternity in either direction, so that neither, if we look to the beginning, do we find any point marked since which He is, and beyond which He was not, nor, if we turn our thought to the future, can we cut short by any boundary the eternal progress of Him Who is),--and if the prophet David forbids us to worship any new and strange God [860] (both of which are involved in the heretical doctrine; "newness" is clearly indicated in that which is not eternal, and "strangeness" is alienation from the Nature of the very God),--if, I say, these things are so, we declare all the sophistical fabrication about the non-existence at some time of Him Who truly is, to be nothing else than a departure from Christianity, and a turning to idolatry. For when the Evangelist, in his discourse concerning the Nature of God, separates at all points non-existence from Him Who is, and, by his constant repetition of the word "was," carefully destroys the suspicion of non-existence, and calls Him the Only-begotten God, the Word of God, the Son of God, equal with God, and all such names, we have this judgment fixed and settled in us, that if the Only-begotten Son is God, we must believe that He Who is believed to be God is eternal. And indeed He is verily God, and assuredly is eternal, and is never at any time found to be non-existent. For God, as we have often said, if He now is, also assuredly always was, and if He once was not, neither does He now exist at all. But since even the enemies of the truth confess that the Son is and continually abides the Only-begotten God, we say this, that, being in the Father, He is not in Him in one respect only, but He is in Him altogether, in respect of all that the Father is conceived to be. As, then, being in the incorruptibility of the Father, He is incorruptible, good in His goodness, powerful in His might, and, as being in each of these attributes of special excellence which are conceived of the Father, He is that particular thing, so, also, being in His eternity, He is assuredly eternal. Now the eternity of the Father is marked by His never having taken His being from nonexistence, and never terminating His being in non-existence. He, therefore, Who hath all things that are the Father's [861] , and is contemplated in all the glory of the Father, even as, being in the endlessness of the Father, He has no end, so, being in the unoriginateness of the Father, has, as the Apostle says, "no beginning of days [862] ," but at once is "of the Father," and is regarded in the eternity of the Father: and in this respect, more especially, is seen the complete absence of divergence in the Likeness, as compared with Him Whose Likeness He is. And herein is His saying found true which tells us, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father [863] ." Moreover, it is in this way that those words of the Apostle, that the Son is "the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His Person [864] ," are best understood to have an excellent and close application. For the Apostle conveys to those hearers who are unable, by the contemplation of purely intellectual objects, to elevate their thought to the height of the knowledge of God, a sort of notion of the truth, by means of things apparent to sense. For as the body of the sun is expressly imaged by the whole disc that surrounds it, and he who looks on the sun argues, by means of what he sees, the existence of the whole solid substratum, so, he says, the majesty of the Father is expressly imaged in the greatness of the power of the Son, that the one may be believed to be as great as the other is known to be: and again, as the radiance of light sheds its brilliancy from the whole of the sun's disc (for in the disc one part is not radiant, and the rest dim), so all that glory which the Father is, sheds its brilliancy from its whole extent by means of the brightness that comes from it, that is, by the true Light; and as the ray is of the sun (for there would be no ray if the sun were not), yet the sun is never conceived as existing by itself without the ray of brightness that is shed from it, so the Apostle delivering to us the continuity and eternity of that existence which the Only-begotten has of the Father, calls the Son "the brightness of His glory."


Footnotes

[850] Cf. Heb. xii. 15 [851] Exod. iii. 4. [852] Reading protheoroie for prostheoroie [853] Exod. iii. 4. [854] See note 4 on Book V. 1, where these words are also treated of. [855] Cf. Judges xiii. 18 (LXX.). [856] Ps. cii. 27. [857] Cf. Deut. xxxii. 17 (LXX.). The quotation is not exact. [858] Cf. S. John i [859] Exod. iii. 4. [860] Cf. Ps. lxxxi. 10. [861] S. John xvi. 15 [862] Heb. vii. 3. [863] S. John xiv. 8 [864] Heb. i. 3.


2. He then discusses the "willing" of the Father concerning the generation of the Son, and shows that the object of that good will is from eternity, which is the Son, existing in the Father, and being closely related to the process of willing, as the ray to the flame, or the act of seeing to the eye.

After these distinctions on our part no one can well be longer in doubt how the Only-begotten at once is believed to be "of the Father," and is eternally, even if the one phrase does not at first sight seem to agree with the other,--that which declares Him to be "of the Father" with that which asserts His eternity. But if we are to confirm our statement by further arguments, it may be possible to apprehend the doctrine on this point by the aid of things cognizable by our senses. And let no one deride our statement, if it cannot find among existing things a likeness of the object of our enquiry such as may be in all respects sufficient for the presentation of the matter in hand by way of analogy and resemblance. For we should like to persuade those who say that the Father first willed and so proceeded to become a Father, and on this ground assert posteriority in existence as regards the Word, by whatever illustrations may make it possible, to turn to the orthodox view. Neither does this immediate conjunction exclude the "willing" of the Father, in the sense that He had a Son without choice, by some necessity of His Nature, nor does the "willing" separate the Son from the Father, coming in between them as a kind of interval: so that we neither reject from our doctrine the "willing" of the Begetter directed to the Son, as being, so to say, forced out by the conjunction of the Son's oneness with the Father, nor do we by any means break that inseparable connection, when "willing" is regarded as involved in the generation. For to our heavy and inert nature it properly belongs that the wish and the possession of a thing are not often present with us at the same moment; but now we wish for something we have not, and at another time we obtain what we do not wish to obtain. But, in the case of the simple and all-powerful Nature, all things are conceived together and at once, the willing of good as well as the possession of what He wills. For the good and the eternal will is contemplated as operating, indwelling, and co-existing in the eternal Nature, not arising in it from any separate principle, nor capable of being conceived apart from the object of will: for it is not possible that with God either the good will should not be, or the object of will should not accompany the act of will, since no cause can either bring it about that that which befits the Father should not always be, or be any hindrance to the possession of the object of will. Since, then, the Only-begotten God is by nature the good (or rather beyond all good), and since the good does not fail to be the object of the Father's will, it is hereby clearly shown, both that the conjunction of the Son with the Father is without any intermediary, and also that the will, which is always present in the good Nature, is not forced out nor excluded by reason of this inseparable conjunction. And if any one is listening to my argument in no scoffing spirit, I should like to add to what I have already said something of the following kind.

Just as, if one were to grant (I speak, of course, hypothetically) the power of deliberate choice to belong to flame, it would be clear that the flame will at once upon its existence will that its radiance should shine forth from itself, and when it wills it will not be impotent (since, on the appearance of the flame, its natural power at once fulfils its will in the matter of the radiance), so that undoubtedly, if it be granted that the flame is moved by deliberate choice, we conceive the concurrence of all these things simultaneously--of the kindling of the fire, of its act of will concerning the radiance, and of the radiance itself; so that the movement by way of choice is no hindrance to the dignity of the existence of the radiance,--even so, according to the illustration we have spoken of, you will not, by confessing the good act of will as existing in the Father, separate by that act of will the Son from the Father. For it is not reasonable to suppose that the act of willing that He should be, could be a hindrance to His immediately coming into being; but just as, in the eye, seeing and the will to see are, one an operation of nature, the other an impulse of choice, yet no delay is caused to the act of sight by the movement of choice in that particular direction [865] ,--(for each of these is regarded separately and by itself, not as being at all a hindrance to the existence of the other, but as both being somehow interexistent, the natural operation concurring with the choice, and the choice in turn not failing to be accompanied by the natural motion)--as, I say, perception naturally belongs to the eye, and the willing to see produces no delay in respect to actual sight, but one wills that it should have vision, and immediately what he wills is, so also in the case of that Nature which is unspeakable and above all thought, our apprehension of all comes together simultaneously--of the eternal existence of the Father, and of an act of will concerning the Son, and of the Son Himself, Who is, as John says, "in the beginning," and is not conceived as coming after the beginning. Now the beginning of all is the Father; but in this beginning the Son also is declared to be, being in His Nature that very thing which the Beginning is. For the Beginning is God, and the Word Who "was in the Beginning" is God. As then the phrase "the beginning" points to eternity, John well conjoins "the Word in the Beginning," saying that the Word was in It; asserting, I suppose, this fact to the end that the first idea present to the mind of his hearer may not be "the Beginning" alone by itself, but that, before this has been impressed upon him, there should also be presented to his mind, together with the Beginning the Word Who was in It, entering with It into the hearer's understanding, and being present to his hearing at the same time with the Beginning.


Footnotes

[865] Oehler's punctuation here seems faulty.


3. Then, thus passing over what relates to the essence of the Son as having been already discussed, he treats of the sense involved in "generation," saying that there are diverse generations, those effected by matter and art, and of buildings,--and that by succession of animals,--and those by efflux, as by the sun and its beam. The lamp and its radiance, scents and ointments and the quality diffused by them,--and the word produced by the mind; and cleverly discusses generation [866] from rotten wood; and from the condensation of fire, and countless other causes.

Now that we have thus thoroughly scrutinized our doctrine, it may perhaps be time to set forth and to consider the opposing statement, examining it side by side in comparison with our own opinion. He states it thus:--"For while there are," he says, "two statements which we have made, the one, that the essence of the Only-begotten was not before its own generation, the other that, being generated, it was before all things, he [867] does not prove either of these statements to be untrue; for he did not venture to say that He was before that supreme [868] generation and formation, seeing that he is opposed at once by the Nature of the Father, and the judgment of sober-minded men. For what sober man could admit the Son to be and to be begotten before that supreme generation? and He Who is without generation needs not generation in order to His being what He is." Well, whether he speaks truly, when he says that our master [869] opposed his antitheses to no purpose, all may surely be aware who have been conversant with that writer's works. But for my own part (for I think that the refutation of his calumny on this matter is a small step towards the exposure of his malice), I will leave the task of showing that this point was not passed over by our master without discussion, and turn my argument to the discussion, as far as in me lies, of the points now advanced. He says that he has in his own discourse spoken of two matters,--one, that the essence of the Only-begotten was not before Its own generation, the other, that, being generated, It was before all things. Now I think that by what we have already said, the fact has been sufficiently shown that no new essence was begotten by the Father besides that which is contemplated in the Father Himself, and that there is no need for us to be entangled in a contest with blasphemy of this kind, as if the argument were now propounded to us for the first time; and further, that the real force of our argument must be directed to one point, I mean to his horrible and blasphemous utterance, which clearly states concerning God the Word that "He was not." Moreover, as our argument in the foregoing discourse has already to some extent dealt with the question of his blasphemy, it would perhaps be superfluous again to establish by like considerations what we have proved already. For it was to this end that we made those former statements, that by the earlier impression upon our hearers of an orthodox mode of thought, the blasphemy of our adversaries, who assert that non-existence preceded existence in the case of the Only-begotten God, might be more manifest.

It seems at this point well to investigate in our argument, by a more careful examination, the actual significance of "generation." That this name presents to us the fact of being as the result of some cause is clear to every one, and about this point there is, I suppose, no need to dispute. But since the account to be given of things which exist as the result of cause is various, I think it proper that this matter should be cleared up in our discourse by some sort of scientific division. Of things, then, which are the result of something, we understand the varieties to be as follows. Some are the result of matter and art, as the structure of buildings and of other works, coming into being by means of their respective matter, and these are directed by some art that accomplishes the thing proposed, with a view to the proper aim of the results produced. Others are the results of matter and nature; for the generations of animals are the building [870] of nature, who carries on her own operation by means of their material bodily subsistence. Others are the result of material efflux, in which cases the antecedent remains in its natural condition, while that which flows from it is conceived separately, as in the case of the sun and its beam, or the lamp and its brightness, or of scents and ointments and the quality they emit; for these, while they remain in themselves without diminution, have at the same time, each concurrently with itself, that natural property which they emit: as the sun its beam, the lamp its brightness, the scents the perfume produced by them in the air. There is also another species of "generation" besides these, in which the cause is immaterial and incorporeal, but the generation is an object of sense and takes place by corporeal means;--I speak of the word which is begotten by the mind: for the mind, being itself incorporeal, brings forth the word by means of the organs of sense. All these varieties of generation we mentally include, as it were, in one general view. For all the wonders that are wrought by nature, which changes the bodies of some animals to something of a different kind, or produces some animals from a change in liquids, or a corruption of seed, or the rotting of wood, or out of the condensed mass of fire transforms the cold vapour that issues from the firebrands, shut off in the heart of the fire, to produce an animal which they call the salamander,--these, even if they seem to be outside the limits we have laid down, are none the less included among the cases we have mentioned. For it is by means of bodies that nature fashions these varied forms of animals; for it is such and such a change of body, disposed by nature in this or that particular way, which produces this or that particular animal; and this is not a distinct species of generation besides that which is accomplished as the result of nature and matter.


Footnotes

[866] To make the grammar of the sentence exact ten should here be substituted for ton, the object of the verb being apparently gennesin not logon. The whole section of the analysis is rather confused, and does not clearly reproduce S. Gregory's division of the subject. A large part of this section, and of that which follows it, is repeated with very slight alteration from Bk. II. 9 (see pp. 113-115 above). The resemblances are much closer in the Greek text than they appear in the present translation, in which different hands have been at work in the two books. [867] i.e.S. Basil. [868] anotato may be "supreme," in the sense of "ultimate" or "most remote," or in the more ordinary sense of "most exalted." [869] i.e.S. Basil. [870] Or (reading as proposed above, p. 114, oikonomei for oikodomei), "the ordering of nature."


4. He further shows the operations of God to be expressed by human illustrations; for what hands and feet and the other parts of the body with which men work are, that, in the case of God, the will alone is, in place of these. And so also arises the divergence of generation; wherefore He is called Only-begotten, because He has no community with other generation such as is observed in creation [871] , but in that He is called the "brightness of glory," and the "savour of ointment," He shows the close conjunction and co-eternity of His Nature with the Father [872]

Now these modes of generation being well known to men, the loving dispensation of the Holy Spirit, in delivering to us the Divine mysteries, conveys its instruction on those matters which transcend language by means of what is within our capacity, as it does also constantly elsewhere, when it portrays the Divinity in bodily terms, making mention, in speaking concerning God, of His eye, His eyelids, His ear, His fingers, His hand, His right hand, His arm, His feet, His shoes [873] , and the like,--none of which things is apprehended to belong in its primary sense to the Divine Nature,--but turning its teaching to what we can easily perceive, it describes by terms well worn in human use, facts that are beyond every name, while by each of the terms employed concerning God we are led analogically to some more exalted conception. In this way, then, it employs the numerous forms of generation to present to us, from the inspired teaching, the unspeakable existence of the Only-begotten, taking just so much from each as may be reverently admitted into our conceptions concerning God. For as its mention of "fingers," "hand," and "arm," in speaking of God, does not by the phrase portray the structure of the limb out of bones and sinews and flesh and ligaments, but signifies by such an expression His effective and operative power, and as it indicates by each of the other words of this kind those conceptions concerning God which correspond to them, not admitting the corporeal senses of the words, so also it speaks indeed of the forms of these modes of coming into being as applied to the Divine Nature, yet does not speak in that sense which our customary knowledge enables us to understand. For when it speaks of the formative power, it calls that particular energy by the name of "generation," because the word expressive of Divine power must needs descend to our lowliness, yet it does not indicate all that is associated with formative generation among ourselves,--neither place nor time nor preparation of material, nor the co-operation of instruments, nor the purpose in the things produced, but it leaves these out of sight, and greatly and loftily claims for God the generation of the things that are, where it says, "He spake and they were begotten, He commanded and they were created [874] ." Again, when it expounds that unspeakable and transcendent existence which the Only-begotten has from the Father, because human poverty is incapable of the truths that are too high for speech or thought, it uses our language here also, and calls Him by the name of "Son,"--a name which our ordinary use applies to those who are produced by matter and nature. But just as the word, which tells us in reference to God of the "generation" of the creation, did not add the statement that it was generated by the aid of any material, declaring that its material substance, its place, its time, and all the like, had their existence in the power of His will, so here too, in speaking of the "Son," it leaves out of sight both all other things which human nature sees in earthly generation (passions, I mean, and dispositions, and the co-operation of time and the need of place, and especially matter), without all which earthly generation as a result of nature does not occur. Now every such conception of matter and interval being excluded from the sense of the word "Son," nature alone remains, and hereby in the word "Son" is declared concerning the Only-begotten the close and true character of His manifestation from the Father. And since this particular species of generation did not suffice to produce in us an adequate idea of the unspeakable existence of the Only-begotten, it employs also another species of generation, that which is the result of efflux, to express the Divine Nature of the Son, and calls Him "the brightness of glory [875] ," the "savour of ointment [876] ," the "breath of God [877] ," which our accustomed use, in the scientific discussion we have already made, calls material efflux. But just as in the previous cases neither the making of creation nor the significance of the word "Son" admitted time, or matter, or place, or passion, so here also the phrase, purifying the sense of "brightness" and the other terms from every material conception, and employing only that element in this particular species of generation which is suitable to the Divinity, points by the force of this mode of expression to the truth that He is conceived as being both from Him and with Him. For neither does the word "breath" present to us dispersion into the air from the underlying matter, nor "savour" the transference that takes place from the quality of the ointment to the air, nor "brightness" the efflux by means of rays from the body of the sun; but this only, as we have said, is manifested by this particular mode of generation, that He is conceived to be of Him and also with Him, no intermediate interval existing between the Father and that Son Who is of Him. And since, in its abundant loving-kindness, the grace of the Holy Spirit has ordered that our conceptions concerning the Only-begotten Son should arise in us from many sources, it has added also the remaining species of things contemplated in generation,--that, I mean, which is the result of mind and word. But the lofty John uses especial foresight that the hearer may not by any means by inattention or feebleness of thought fall into the common understanding of "Word," so that the Son should be supposed to be the voice of the Father. For this reason he prepares us at his first proclamation to regard the Word as in essence, and not in any essence foreign to or dissevered from that essence whence It has Its being, but in that first and blessed Nature. For this is what he teaches us when he says the Word "was in the beginning [878] ," and "was with God [879] ," being Himself also both God and all else that the "Beginning" is. For thus it is that he makes his discourse on the Godhead, touching the eternity of the Only-begotten. Seeing then that these modes of generation (those, I mean, which are the result of cause) are ordinarily known among us, and are employed by Holy Scripture for our instruction on the subjects before us, in such a way as it might be expected that each of them would be applied to the presentation of Divine conceptions, let the reader of our argument "judge righteous judgement [880] ," whether any of the assertions that heresy makes have any force against the truth.


Footnotes

[871] This passage is clearly corrupt: the general sense as probably intended is given here. [872] See note 7 in the last section. [873] The reference is probably to Ps. lx. 8, and Ps. cviii. 9. [874] Ps. cxlviii. 5 (LXX.). [875] Heb. i. 3. [876] Perhaps Cant. i. 3. [877] Wisd. vii. 25. [878] Cf. S. John i. 1 [879] Cf. S. John i. 1 [880] S. John vii. 24


5. Then, after showing that the Person of the Only-begotten and Maker of things has no beginning, as have the things that were made by Him, as Eunomius says, but that the Only-begotten is without beginning and eternal, and has no community, either of essence or of names, with the creation, but is co-existent with the Father from everlasting, being, as the all-excellent Wisdom says, "the beginning and end and midst of the times," and after making many observations on the Godhead and eternity of the Only-begotten, and also concerning souls and angels, and life and death, he concludes the book.

I will now once more subjoin the actual language of my opponent, word for word. It runs thus:--"While there are," he says, "two statements which we have made, the one, that the essence of the Only-begotten was not before its own generation, the other, that, being generated, it was before all things--"What kind of generation does our dogmatist propose to us? Is it one of which we may fittingly think and speak in regard to God? And who is so godless as to pre-suppose non-existence in God? But it is clear that he has in view this material generation of ours, and is making the lower nature the teacher of his conceptions concerning the Only-begotten God, and since an ox or an ass or a camel is not before its own generation, he thinks it proper to say even of the Only-begotten God that which the course of the lower nature presents to our view in the case of the animals, without thinking, corporeal theologian that he is, of this fact, that the predicate "Only-begotten", applied to God, signifies by the very word itself that which is not in common with all begetting, and is peculiar to Him. How could the term "Only-begotten" be used of this "generation," if it had community and identity of meaning with other generation? That there is something unique and exceptional to be understood in His case, which is not to be remarked in other generation, is distinctly and suitably expressed by the appellation of "Only-begotten"; as, were any element of the lower generation conceived in it, He Who in respect of any of the attributes of His generation was placed on a level with other things that are begotten would no longer be "Only-begotten." For if the same things are to be said of Him which are said of the other things that come into being by generation, the definition will transform the sense of "Only-begotten" to signify a kind of relationship involving brotherhood. If then the sense of "Only-begotten" points to absence of mixture and community with the rest of generated things, we shall not admit that anything which we behold in the lower generation is also to be conceived in the case of that existence which the Son has from the Father. But non-existence before generation is proper to all things that exist by generation: therefore this is foreign to the special character of the Only-begotten, to which the name "Only-begotten" bears witness that there attaches nothing belonging to the mode of that form of common generation which Eunomius misapprehends. Let this materialist and friend of the senses be persuaded therefore to correct the error of his conception by the other forms of generation. What will you say when you hear of the "brightness of glory" or of the "savour of ointment [881] ?" That the "brightness" was not before its own generation? But if you answer thus, you will surely admit that neither did the "glory" exist, nor the "ointment": for it is not possible that the "glory" should be conceived as having existed by itself, dark and lustreless, or the "ointment" without producing its sweet breath: so that if the "brightness" "was not," the "glory" also surely "was not," and the "savour" being non-existent, there is also proved the non-existence of the "ointment." But if these examples taken from Scripture excite any man's fear, on the ground that they do not accurately present to us the majesty of the Only-begotten, because neither is essentially the same with its substratum--neither the exhalation with the ointment, nor the beam with the sun--let the true Word correct his fear, Who was in the Beginning and is all that the Beginning is, and existent before all; since John so declares in his preaching, "And the Word was with God, and the Word was God [882] ." If then the Father is God and the Son is God, what doubt still remains with regard to the perfect Divinity of the Only-begotten, when by the sense of the word "Son" is acknowledged the close relationship of Nature, by "brightness" the conjunction and inseparability, and by the appellation of "God," applied alike to the Father and the Son, their absolute equality, while the "express image," contemplated in reference to the whole Person [883] of the Father, marks the absence of any defect in the Son's proper greatness, and the "form of God" indicates His complete identity by showing in itself all those marks by which the Godhead is betokened.

Let us now set forth Eunomius' statement once more. "He was not," he says, "before His own generation." Who is it of Whom he says "He was not"? Let him declare the Divine names by which He Who, according to Eunomius, "once was not," is called. He will say, I suppose, "light," and "blessedness," "life" and "incorruptibility," and "righteousness" and "sanctification," and "power," and "truth," and the like. He who says, then, that "He was not before His generation," absolutely proclaims this,--that when He "was not" there was no truth, no life, no light, no power, no incorruptibility, no other of those pre-eminent qualities which are conceived of Him: and, what is still more marvellous and still more difficult for impiety to face, there was no "brightness," no "express image." For in saying that there was no brightness, there is surely maintained also the non-existence of the radiating power, as one may see in the illustration afforded by the lamp. For he who speaks of the ray of the lamp indicates also that the lamp shines, and he who says that the ray "is not," signifies also the extinction of that which gives light: so that when the Son is said not to be, thereby is also maintained as a necessary consequence the non-existence of the Father. For if the one is related to the other by way of conjunction, according to the Apostolic testimony--the "brightness" to the "glory," the "express image" to the "Person," the "Wisdom" to God--he who says that one of the things so conjoined "is not," surely by his abolition of the one abolishes also that which remains; so that if the "brightness" "was not," it is acknowledged that neither did the illuminating nature exist, and if the "express image" had no existence, neither did the Person imaged exist, and if the wisdom and power of God "was not," it is surely acknowledged that He also was not, Who is not conceived by Himself without wisdom and power. If, then, the Only-begotten God, as Eunomius says, "was not before His generation," and Christ is "the power of God and the wisdom of God [884] ," and the "express image" [885] and the "brightness [886] ," neither surely did the Father exist, Whose power and wisdom and express image and brightness the Son is: for it is not possible to conceive by reason either a Person without express image, or glory without radiance, or God without wisdom, or a Maker without hands, or a Beginning without the Word [887] , or a Father without a Son; but all such things, alike by those who confess and by those who deny, are manifestly declared to be in mutual union, and by the abolition of one the other also disappears with it. Since then they maintain that the Son (that is, the "brightness of the glory,") "was not" before He was begotten, and since logical consequence involves also, together with the non-existence of the brightness, the abolition of the glory, and the Father is the glory whence came the brightness of the Only-begotten Light, let these men who are wise over-much consider that they are manifestly supporters of the Epicurean doctrines, preaching atheism under the guise of Christianity. Now since the logical consequence is shown to be one of two absurdities, either that we should say that God does not exist at all, or that we should say that His being was not unoriginate, let them choose which they like of the two courses before them,--either to be called atheist, or to cease saying that the essence of the Father is un-originate. They would avoid, I suppose, being reckoned atheists. It remains, therefore, that they maintain that God is not eternal. And if the course of what has been proved forces them to this, what becomes of their varied and irreversible conversions of names? What becomes of that invincible compulsion of their syllogisms, which sounded so fine to the ears of old women, with its opposition of "Generated" and "Ungenerate"?

Enough, however, of these matters. But it might be well not to leave his next point unanswered; yet let us pass over in silence the comic interlude, where our clever orator shows his youthful conceit, whether in jest or in earnest, under the impression that he will thereby have an advantage in his argument. For certainly no one will force us to join either with those whose eyes are set askance in distorting our sight, or with those who are stricken with strange disease in being contorted, or in their bodily leaps and plunges. We shall pity them, but we shall not depart from our settled state of mind. He says, then, turning his discourse upon the subject to our master, as if he were really engaging him face to face, "Thou shalt be taken in thine own snare." For as Basil had said [888] that what is good is always present with God Who is over all, and that it is good to be the Father of such a Son,--that so what is good was never absent from Him, nor was it the Father's will to be without the Son, and when He willed He did not lack the power, but having the power and the will to be in the mode in which it seemed good to Him, He also always possessed the Son by reason of His always willing that which is good (for this is the direction in which the intention of our father's remarks tends), Eunomius pulls this in pieces beforehand, and puts forward to overthrow what has been said some such argument as this, introduced from his extraneous philosophy:--"What will become of you," he says, "if one of those who have had experience of such arguments should say, `If to create is good and agreeable to the Nature of God, how is it that what is good and agreeable to His Nature was not present with Him unoriginately, seeing that God is unoriginate? and that when there was no hindrance of ignorance or impediment of weakness or of age in the matter of creation,"--and all the rest that he collects together and pours out upon himself,--for I may not say, upon God. Well, if it were possible for our master to answer the question in person, he would have shown Eunomius what would have become of him, as he asked, by setting forth the Divine mystery with that tongue that was taught of God, and by scourging the champion of deceit with his refutations, so that it would have been made clear to all men what a difference there is between a minister of the mysteries of Christ and a ridiculous buffoon or a setter-forth of new and absurd doctrines. But since he, as the Apostle says, "being dead, speaketh [889] " to God, while the other puts forth such a challenge as though there were no one to answer him, even though an answer from us may not have equal force when compared with the words of the great Basil, we shall yet boldly say this in answer to the questioner:--Your own argument, put forth to overthrow our statement, is a testimony that in the charges we make against your impious doctrine we speak truly. For there is no other point we blame so much as this, that you [890] think there is no difference between the Lord of creation and the general body of creation, and what you now allege is a maintaining of the very things which we find fault with. For if you are bound to attach exactly what you see in creation also to the Only-begotten God, our contention has gained its end: your own statements proclaim the absurdity of the doctrine, and it is manifest to all, both that we keep our argument in the straight way of truth, and that your conception of the Only-begotten God is such as you have of the rest of the creation.

Concerning whom was the controversy? Was it not concerning the Only-begotten God, the Maker of all the creation, whether He always was, or whether He came into being afterwards as an addition to His Father? What then do our master's words say on this matter? That it is irreverent to believe that what is naturally good was not in God: for that he saw no cause by which it was probable that the good was not always present with Him Who is good, either for lack of power or for weakness of will. What does he who contends against these statements say? "If you allow that God the Word is to be believed eternal, you must allow the same of the things that have been created"--(How well he knows how to distinguish in his argument the nature of the creatures and the majesty of God! How well he knows about each, what befits it, what he may piously think concerning God, what concerning the creation!)--"if the Maker," he says, "begins from the time of His making: for there is nothing else by which we can mark the beginning of things that have been made, if time does not define by its own interval the beginnings and the endings of the things that come into being."

On this ground he says that the Maker of time must commence His existence from a like beginning. Well, the creation has the ages for its beginning, but what beginning can you conceive of the Maker of the ages? If any one should say, "The `beginning' which is mentioned in the Gospel"--it is the Father Who is there signified, and the confession of the Son together with Him is there pointed to, nor can it be that He Who is in the Father [891] , as the Lord says, can begin His being in Him from any particular point. And if any one speaks of another beginning besides this, let him tell us the name by which he marks this beginning, as none can be apprehended before the establishment of the ages. Such a statement, therefore, will not move us a whit from the orthodox conception concerning the Only-begotten, even if old women do applaud the proposition as a sound one. For we abide by what has been determined from the beginning, having our doctrine firmly based on truth, to wit, that all things which the orthodox doctrine assumes that we assert concerning the Only-begotten God have no kindred with the creation, but the marks which distinguish the Maker of all and His works are separated by a wide interval. If indeed the Son had in any other respect communion with the creation, we surely ought to say that He did not diverge from it even in the manner of His existence. But if the creation has no share in such things as are all those which we learn concerning the Son, we must surely of necessity say that in this matter also He has no communion with it. For the creation was not in the beginning, and was not with God, and was not, God, nor life, nor light, nor resurrection, nor the rest of the Divine names, as truth, righteousness, sanctification, Judge, just, Maker of all things, existing before the ages, for ever and ever; the creation is not the brightness of the glory, nor the express image of the Person, nor the likeness of goodness, nor grace, nor power, nor truth, nor salvation, nor redemption; nor do we find any one at all of those names which are employed by Scripture for the glory of the Only-begotten, either belonging to the creation or employed concerning it,--not to speak of those more exalted words, "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me [892] ," and, "He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father [893] ," and, "None hath seen the Son, save the Father [894] ." If indeed our doctrine allowed us to claim for the creation things so many and so great as these, he might have been right in thinking that we ought to attach what we observe in it to our conceptions of the Only-begotten also, since the transfer would be from kindred subjects to one nearly allied. But if all these concepts and names involve communion with the Father, while they transcend our notions of the creation, does not our clever and sharp-witted friend slink away in shame at discussing the nature of the Lord of the Creation by the aid of what he observes in creation, without being aware that the marks which distinguish the creation are of a different sort? The ultimate division of all that exists is made by the line between "created" and "uncreated," the one being regarded as a cause of what has come into being, the other as coming into being thereby. Now the created nature and the Divine essence being thus divided, and admitting no intermixture in respect of their distinguishing properties, we must by no means conceive both by means of similar terms, nor seek in the idea of their nature for the same distinguishing marks in things that are thus separated. Accordingly, as the nature that is in the creation, as the phrase of the most excellent Wisdom somewhere tells us, exhibits "the beginning, ending, and midst of the times [895] " in itself, and extends concurrently with all temporal intervals, we take as a sort of characteristic of the subject this property, that in it we see some beginning of its formation, look on its midst, and extend our expectations to its end. For we have learnt that the heaven and the earth were not from eternity, and will not last to eternity, and thus it is hence clear that those things are both started from some beginning, and will surely cease at some end. But the Divine Nature, being limited in no respect, but passing all limitations on every side in its infinity, is far removed from those marks which we find in creation. For that power which is without interval, without quantity, without circumscription, having in itself all the ages and all the creation that has taken place in them, and over-passing at all points, by virtue of the infinity of its own nature, the unmeasured extent of the ages, either has no mark which indicates its nature, or has one of an entirely different sort, and not that which the creation has. Since, then, it belongs to the creation to have a beginning, that will be alien from the uncreated nature which belongs to the creation. For if any one should venture to suppose the existence of the Only-begotten Son to be, like the creation, from any beginning comprehensible by us, he must certainly append to his statement concerning the Son the rest also of the sequence [896] ; for it is not possible to avoid acknowledging, together with the beginning, that also which follows from it. For just as if one were to admit some person to be a man in all [897] the properties of his nature, he would observe that in this confession he declared him to be an animal and rational, and whatever else is conceived of man, so by the same reasoning, if we should understand any of the properties of creation to be present in the Divine essence, it will no longer be open to us to refrain from attaching to that pure Nature the rest of the list of the attributes contemplated therein. For the "beginning" will demand by force and compulsion that which follows it; for the "beginning," thus conceived, is a beginning of what comes after it, in such a sense, that if they are, it is, and if the things connected with it are removed, the antecedent also would not remain [898] . Now as the book of Wisdom speaks of "midst" and "end" as well as of "beginning," if we assume in the Nature of the Only-begotten, according to the heretical dogma, some beginning of existence defined by a certain mark of time, the book of Wisdom will by no means allow us to refrain from subjoining to the "beginning" a "midst" and an "end" also. If this should be done we shall find, as the result of our arguments, that the Divine word shows us that the Deity is mortal. For if, according to the book of Wisdom, the "end" is a necessary consequence of the "beginning," and the idea of "midst" is involved in that of extremes, he who allows one of these also potentially maintains the others, and lays down bounds of measure and limitation for the infinite Nature. And if this is impious and absurd, the giving a beginning to that argument which ends in impiety deserves equal, or even greater censure; and the beginning of this absurd doctrine was seen to be the supposition that the life of the Son was circumscribed by some beginning. Thus one of two courses is before them: either they must revert to sound doctrine under the compulsion of the foregoing arguments, and contemplate Him Who is of the Father in union with the Father's eternity, or if they do not like this, they must limit the eternity of the Son in both ways, and reduce the limitless character of His life to non-existence by a beginning and an end. And, granted that the nature both of souls and of the angels has no end, and is no way hindered from going on to eternity, by the fact of its being created, and having the beginning of its existence from some point of time, so that our adversaries can use this fact to assert a parallel in the case of Christ, in the sense that He is not from eternity, and yet endures everlastingly,--let any one who advances this argument also consider the following point, how widely the Godhead differs from the creation in its special attributes. For to the Godhead it properly belongs to lack no conceivable thing which is regarded as good, while the creation attains excellence by partaking in something better than itself; and further, not only had a beginning of its being, but also is found to be constantly in a state of beginning to be in excellence, by its continual advance in improvement, since it never halts at what it has reached, but all that it has acquired [899] becomes by participation a beginning of its ascent to something still greater, and it never ceases, in Paul's phrase, "reaching forth to the things that are before," and "forgetting the things that are behind [900] ." Since, then, the Godhead is very life, and the Only-begotten God is God, and life, and truth, and every conceivable thing that is lofty and Divine, while the creation draws from Him its supply of good, it may hence be evident that if it is in life by partaking of life, it will surely, if it ceases from this participation, cease from life also. If they dare, then, to say also of the Only-begotten God those things which it is true to say of the creation, let them say this too, along with the rest, that He has a beginning of His being like the creation, and abides in life after the likeness of souls. But if He is the very life, and needs not to have life in Himself ab extra, while all other things are not life, but are merely participants in life, what constrains us to cancel, by reason of what we see in creation, the eternity of the Son? For that which is always unchanged as regards its nature, admits of no contrary, and is incapable of change to any other condition: while things whose nature is on the boundary line have a tendency that shifts either way, inclining at will to what they find attractive [901] . If, then, that which is truly life is contemplated in the Divine and transcendent nature, the decadence thereof will surely, as it seems, end in the opposite state [902] .

Now the meaning of "life" and "death" is manifold, and not always understood in the same way. For as regards the flesh, the energy and motion of the bodily senses is called "life," and their extinction and dissolution is named "death." But in the case of the intellectual nature, approximation to the Divine is the true life, and decadence therefrom is named "death": for which reason the original evil, the devil, is called both "death," and the inventor of death: and he is also said by the Apostle to have the power of death [903] . As, then, we obtain, as has been said, from the Scriptures, a twofold conception of death, He Who is truly unchangeable and immutable "alone hath immortality," and dwells in light that cannot be attained or approached by the darkness of wickedness [904] : but all things that participate in death, being far removed from immortality by their contrary tendency, if they fall away from that which is good, would, by the mutability of their nature, admit community with the worse condition, which is nothing else than death, having a certain correspondence with the death of the body. For as in that case the extinction of the activities of nature is called death, so also, in the case of the intellectual being, the absence of motion towards the good is death and departure from life; so that what we perceive in the bodiless creation [905] does not clash with our argument, which refutes the doctrine of heresy. For that form of death which corresponds to the intellectual nature (that is, separation from God, Whom we call Life) is, potentially, not separated even from their nature; for their emergence from non-existence shows mutability of nature; and that to which change is in affinity is hindered from participation in the contrary state by the grace of Him Who strengthens it: it does not abide in the good by its own nature: and such a thing is not eternal. If, then, one really speaks truth in saying that we ought not to estimate the Divine essence and the created nature in the same way, nor to circumscribe the being of the Son of God by any beginning, lest, if this be granted, the other attributes of creation should enter in together with our acknowledgment of this one, the absurd character of the teaching of that man, who employs the attributes of creation to separate the Only-begotten God from the eternity of the Father, is clearly shown. For as none other of the marks which characterize the creation appears in the Maker of the creation, so neither is the fact that the creation has its existence from some beginning a proof that the Son was not always in the Father,--that Son, Who is Wisdom, and Power, and Light, and Life, and all that is conceived of in the bosom of the Father.


Footnotes

[881] Heb. i. 3, and Cant. i. 3, referred to above. [882] S. John i. 1 [883] hupostasei [884] 1 Cor. i. 24. [885] Heb. i. 3. [886] Heb. i. 3. [887] Or perhaps "or an irrational first cause," (alogon archen.) [888] The reference is to S. Basil adv. Eunomium II. 12 (p. 247 in Ben. ed.) [889] Cf. Heb. xi. 4 [890] Reading humas for hemas. If the reading hemas, which Oehler follows, is retained, the force would seem to be "that you think we ought not to make any difference," but the construction of the sentence in this case is cumbrous. [891] S. John xiv. 10 [892] S. John xiv. 10 [893] S. John xiv. 9 [894] Apparently an inexact quotation of S. Matt. xi. 27. [895] Wisd. vii. 18. [896] That is, he must also acknowledge a "middle" and an "end" of the existence which has a "beginning." [897] Oehler's emendation, for which he gives weighty ms. authority, is certainly an improvement on the earlier text, but in sense it is a little unsatisfactory. The argument seems to require the hypothesis not of some one acknowledging a person to be a man in all, but in some attributes. The defect, however, may possibly be in S. Gregory's argument, not in the text. [898] i.e."if the `middle' and `end' are not admitted, at the `beginning,' which is the `beginning' of a sequence, is thereby implicitly denied." Oehler's punctuation has been somewhat altered here, and at several points in the remainder of the book, where it appears to require emendation. [899] Reading ktethen, with the Paris ed. of 1638. Oehler's reading ktisthen hardly seems to give so good a sense, and he does not give his authority for it. [900] Phil. iii. 13. [901] Reading with Oehler, tois kata gnomen prosklinomene. The reading proskinoumenois, found in the earlier editions, gives a tolerable sense, but appears to have no ms. authority. [902] Or (if pantos be constructed with antikeimenon), "will end, as it seems, in that state which is absolutely opposed to life." [903] Cf. Heb. ii. 14 [904] Cf. 1 Tim. iii. 16. [905] i.e.the order of spiritual beings, including angels and human souls. Of these S. Gregory argues that they are capable of an akinesia pros to agathon which is death in them, as the absence of motion and sense is bodily death: and that they may therefore be said to have an end, as they had a beginning: so far as they are eternal it is not by their own power, but by their mutable nature being upheld by grace from this state of akinesia pros to agathon. On both these grounds therefore--that they have an end, and that such eternity as they possess is not inherent, but given ab extra, and contingent--he says they are not properly eternal, and he therefore rejects the proposed parallel.

.


Book IX.


1. The ninth book declares that Eunomius' account of the Nature of God is, up to a certain point, well stated. Then in succession he mixes up with his own argument, on account of its affinity, the expression from Philo's writings, "God is before all other things, which are generated," adding also the expression, "He has dominion over His own power." Detesting the excessive absurdity, Gregory strikingly confutes it [906]

But he now turns to loftier language, and elevating himself and puffing himself up with empty conceit, he takes in hand to say something worthy of God's majesty. "For God," he says, "being the most highly exalted of all goods, and the mightiest of all, and free from all necessity--" Nobly does the gallant man bring his discourse, like some ship without ballast, driven unguided by the waves of deceit, into the harbour of truth! "God is the most highly exalted of all goods." Splendid acknowledgment! I suppose he will not bring a charge of unconstitutional conduct against the great John, by whom, in his lofty proclamation, the Only-begotten is declared to be God, Who was with God and was God [907] . If he, then, the proclaimer of the Godhead of the Only-begotten, is worthy of credit, and if "God is the most highly exalted of all goods," it follows that the Son is alleged by the enemies of His glory, to be "the most highly exalted of all goods." And as this phrase is also applied to the Father, the superlative force of "most highly exalted" admits of no diminution or addition by way of comparison. But, now that we have obtained from the adversary's testimony these statements for the proof of the glory of the Only-begotten, we must add in support of sound doctrine his next statement too. He says, "God, the most highly exalted of all goods, being without hindrance from nature, or constraint from cause, or impulse from need, begets and creates according to the supremacy of His own authority, having His will as power sufficient for the constitution of the things produced. If, then, all good is according to His will, He not only determines that which is made as good, but also the time of its being good, if, that is to say, as one may assume, it is an indication of weakness to make what one does not will [908] ." We shall borrow so far as this, for the confirmation of the orthodox doctrines, from our adversaries' statement, percolated as that statement is by vile and counterfeit clauses. Yes, He Who has, by the supremacy of His authority, power in His will that suffices for the constitution of the things that are made, He Who created all things without hindrance from nature or compulsion from cause, does determine not only that which is made as good, but also the time of its being good. But He Who made all things is, as the gospel proclaims, the Only-begotten God. He, at that time when He willed it, did make the creation; at that time, by means of the circumambient essence, He surrounded with the body of heaven all that universe that is shut off within its compass: at that time, when He thought it well that this should be, He displayed the dry land to view, He enclosed the waters in their hollow places; vegetation, fruits, the generation of animals, the formation of man, appeared at that time when each of these things seemed expedient to the wisdom of the Creator:--and He Who made all these things (I will once more repeat my statement) is the Only-begotten God Who made the ages. For if the interval of the ages has preceded existing things, it is proper to employ the temporal adverb, and to say "He then willed" and "He then made": but since the age was not, since no conception of interval is present to our minds in regard to that Divine Nature which is not measured by quantity or by interval, the force of temporal expressions must surely be void. Thus to say that the creation has had given to it a beginning in time, according to the good pleasure of the wisdom of Him Who made all things, does not go beyond probability: but to regard the Divine Nature itself as being in a kind of extension measured by intervals, belongs only to those who have been trained in the new wisdom. What a point is this, embedded in his words, which I intentionally passed by in my eagerness to reach the subject! I will now resume it, and read it to show our author's cleverness.

"For He Who is most highly exalted in God Himself [909] before all other things that are generated," he says, "has dominion over His own power." The phrase has been transferred by our pamphleteer word for word from the Hebrew Philo to his own argument, and Eunomius' theft will be proved by Philo's works themselves to any one who cares about it. I note the fact, however, at present, not so much to reproach our speech-monger with the poverty of his own arguments and thoughts, as with the intention of showing to my readers the close relationship between the doctrine of Eunomius and the reasoning of the Jews. For this phrase of Philo would not have fitted word for word into his argument had there not been a sort of kindred between the intention of the one and the other. In the Hebrew author you may find the phrase in this form: "God, before all other things that are generated"; and what follows, "has dominion over His own power," is an addition of the new Judaism. But what an absurdity this involves an examination of the saying will clearly show. "God," he says, "has dominion over His own power." Tell me, what is He? over what has He dominion? Is He something else than His own power, and Lord of a power that is something else than Himself? Then power is overcome by the absence of power. For that which is something else than power is surely not power, and thus He is found to have dominion over power just in so far as He is not power. Or again, God, being power, has another power in Himself, and has dominion over the one by the other. And what contest or schism is there, that God should divide the power that exists in Himself, and overthrow one section of His power by the other. I suppose He could not have dominion over His own power without the assistance to that end of some greater and more violent power! Such is Eunomius' God: a being with double nature, or composite, dividing Himself against Himself, having one power out of harmony with another, so that by one He is urged to disorder, and by the other restrains this discordant motion. Again, with what intent does He dominate the power that urges on to generation? lest some evil should arise if generation be not hindered? or rather let him explain this in the first place,--what is that which is naturally under dominion? His language points to some movement of impulse and choice, considered separately and independently. For that which dominates must needs be one thing, that which is dominated another. Now God "has dominion over His power"--and this is--what? a self-determining nature? or something else than this, pressing on to disquiet, or remaining in a state of quiescence? Well, if he supposes it to be quiescent, that which is tranquil needs no one to have dominion over it: and if he says "He has dominion," He "has dominion" clearly over something which impels and is in motion: and this, I presume he will say, is something naturally different from Him Who rules it. What then, let him tell us, does he understand in this idea? Is it something else besides God, considered as having an independent existence? How can another existence be in God? Or is it some condition in the Divine Nature considered as having an existence not its own? I hardly think he would say so: for that which has no existence of its own is not: and that which is not, is neither under dominion, nor set free from it. What then is that power which was under dominion, and was restrained in respect of its own activity, while the due time of the generation of Christ was still about to come, and to set this power free to proceed to its natural operation? What was the intervening cause of delay, for which God deferred the generation of the Only-begotten, not thinking it good as yet to become a Father? And what is this that is inserted as intervening between the life of the Father and that of the Son, that is not time nor space, nor any idea of extension, nor any like thing? To what purpose is it that this keen and clear-sighted eye marks and beholds the separation of the life of God in regard to the life of the Son? When he is driven in all directions he is himself forced to admit that the interval does not exist at all.


Footnotes

[906] This section of the analysis is so confused that it cannot well be literally translated. In the version given above the general sense rather than the precise grammatical construction has been followed. [907] S. John i. 1 [908] This quotation would appear from what follows not to be a consecutive extract, but one made "omissis omittendis." [909] This seems to be the force of the phrase if we are to follow Oehler's mss. and read ho gar exochotatos autou theou. The autos theos of the earlier editions gives a simpler sense. The phrase as read by Oehler certainly savours more of Philo than of Eunomius: but it is worth noting that S. Gregory does not dwell upon this part of the clause as being borrowed from Philo (though he may intend to include it in the general statement), but upon what follows it: and from his citation from Philo it would seem that the latter spoke (not of ho exochotatos theou but) of ho Theos pro ton allon hosa genneta.


2. He then ingeniously shows that the generation of the Son is not according to the phrase of Eunomius, "The Father begat Him at that time when He chose, and not before:" but that the Son, being the fulness of all that is good and excellent, is always contemplated in the Father; using for this demonstration the support of Eunomius' own arguments.

However, though there is no interval between them, he does not admit that their communion is immediate and intimate, but condescends to the measure of our knowledge, and converses with us in human phrase as one of ourselves, himself quietly confessing the impotence of reasoning and taking refuge in a line of argument that was never taught by Aristotle and his school. He says, "It was good and proper that He should beget His Son at that time when He willed: and in the minds of sensible men there does not hence arise any questioning why He did not do so before." What does this mean, Eunomius? Are you too going afoot like us unlettered men? are you leaving your artistic periods and actually taking refuge in unreasoning assent? you, who so much reproached those who take in hand to write without logical skill? You, who say to Basil, "You show your own ignorance when you say that definitions of the terms that express things spiritual are an impossibility for men," who again elsewhere advance the same charge, "you make your own impotence common to others, when you declare that what is not possible for you is impossible for all"? Is this the way that you, who say such things as these, approach the ears of him who questions about the reason why the Father defers becoming the Father of such a Son? Do you think it an adequate explanation to say, "He begat Him at that time when He chose: let there be no questioning on this point"? Has your apprehensive fancy grown so feeble in the maintenance of your doctrines? What has become of your premises that lead to dilemmas? What has become of your forcible proofs? how comes it that those terrible and inevitable syllogistic conclusions of your art have dissolved into vanity and nothingness? "He begat the Son at that time when He chose: let there be no questioning on this point!" Is this the finished product of your many labours, of your voluminous undertakings? What was the question asked? "If it is good and fitting for God to have such a Son, why are we not to believe that the good is always present with Him [910] ?" What is the answer he makes to us from the very shrine of his philosophy, tightening the bonds of his argument by inevitable necessity? "He made the Son at that time when He chose: let there be no questioning as to why He did not do so before." Why, if the inquiry before us were concerning some irrational being, that acts by natural impulse, why it did not sooner do whatever it may be,--why the spider did not make her webs, or the bee her honey, or the turtle-dove her nest,--what else could you have said? would not the same answer have been ready--"She did it at that time when she chose: let there be no questioning on this matter"? Nay, if it were concerning some sculptor or painter who works in paintings or in sculptures by his imitative art, whatever it may be (supposing that he exercises his art without being subject to any authority), I imagine that such an answer would meet the case of any one who wished to know why he did not exercise his art sooner,--that, being under no necessity, he made his own choice the occasion of his operation. For men, because they do not always wish the same things [911] , and commonly have not power co-operating with their will, do something which seems good to them at that time when their choice inclines to the work, and they have no external hindrance. But that nature which is always the same, to which no good is adventitious, in which all that variety of plans which arises by way of opposition, from error or from ignorance, has no place, to which there comes nothing as a result of change, which was not with it before, and by which nothing is chosen afterwards which it had not from the beginning regarded as good,--to say of this nature that it does not always possess what is good, but afterwards chooses to have something which it did not choose before,--this belongs to wisdom that surpasses us. For we were taught that the Divine. Nature is at all times full of all good, or rather is itself the fulness of all goods, seeing that it needs no addition for its perfecting, but is itself by its own nature the perfection of good. Now that which is perfect is equally remote from addition and from diminution; and therefore, we say that perfection of goods which we behold in the Divine Nature always remains the same, as, in whatsoever direction we extend our thoughts, we there apprehend it to be such as it is. The Divine Nature, then, is never void of good: but the Son is the fulness of all good: and accordingly He is at all times contemplated in that Father Whose Nature is perfection in all good. But he says, "let there be no questioning about this point, why He did not do so before:" and we shall answer him,--"It is one thing, most sapient sir, to lay down as an ordinance some proposition that you happen to approve [912] , and another to make converts by reasoning on the points of controversy. So long, therefore, as you cannot assign any reason why we may piously say that the Son was "afterwards" begotten by the Father, your ordinances will be of no effect with sensible men."

Thus it is then that Eunomius brings the truth to light for us as the result of his scientific attack. And we for our part shall apply his argument, as we are wont to do, for the establishment of the true doctrine, so that even by this passage it may be clear that at every point, constrained against their will, they advocate our view. For if, as our opponent says, "He begat the Son at that time when He chose," and if He always chose that which is good, and His power coincided with His choice, it follows that the Son will be considered as always with the Father, Who always both chooses that which is excellent, and is able to possess what He chooses. And if we are to reduce his next words also to truth, it is easy for us to adapt them also to the doctrine we hold:--"Let there be no questioning among sensible men on this point, why He did not do so before"--for the word "before" has a temporal sense, opposed to what is "afterwards" and "later": but on the supposition that time does not exist, the terms expressing temporal interval are surely abolished with it. Now the Lord was before times and before ages: questioning as to "before" or "after" concerning the Maker of the ages is useless in the eyes of reasonable men: for words of this class are devoid of all meaning, if they are not used in reference to time. Since then the Lord is antecedent to times, the words "before" and "after" have no place as applied to Him. This may perhaps be sufficient to refute arguments that need no one to overthrow them, but fall by their own feebleness. For who is there with so much leisure that he can give himself up to such an extent to listen to the arguments on the other side, and to our contention against the silly stuff? Since, however, in men prejudiced by impiety, deceit is like some ingrained dye, hard to wash out, and deeply burned in upon their hearts, let us spend yet a little time upon our argument, if haply we may be able to cleanse their souls from this evil stain. After the utterances that I have quoted, and after adding to them, in the manner of his teacher Prunicus, [913] some unconnected and ill-arranged octads of insolence and abuse, he comes to the crowning point of his arguments, and, leaving the illogical exposition of his folly, arms his discourse once more with the weapons of dialectic, and maintains his absurdity against us, as he imagines, syllogistically.


Footnotes

[910] Cf. S. Basil adv. Eun. II. 12, quoted above, p. 207. [911] Reading tauta for tauta, which appears in the text of Oehler as well as in the earlier editions. [912] Reading ti ton kata gnomen, for ti ton katagnomon, which is the reading of the editions, but introduces a word otherwise apparently unknown. [913] So in Book I. proton men tes Prounikou sophias ginetai mathetes, and Book XIII. p. 844 (Paris Edit.). It may be questioned whether the phrase in Books I. and XIII., and that here, refers to a supposed connection of Eunomius with Gnosticism. The Prounikos Sophia of the Gnostics was a "male-female," and hence the masculine ton paideuten might properly be applied to it. If this point were cleared up, we might be more certain of the meaning to be attached to the word oktadas, which is also possibly borrowed from the Gnostic phraseology, being akin to the form ogdoadas. [On the Gnostic conception of "Prunicus," see the note on the subject in Harvey's Irenæus (vol. I. p. 225), and Smith and Wace's Dict. Chr. Biogr. s.v. On the Gnostic Ogdoads, see Mansel's Gnostic Heresies, pp. 152 sqq., 170 sqq., and the articles on Basilides and Valentinus in Dict. Chr. Biogr.]


3. He further shows that the pretemporal generation of the Son is not the subject of influences drawn from ordinary and carnal generation, but is without beginning and without end, and not according to the fabrications constructed by Eunomius, in ignorance of His power, from the statements of Plato concerning the soul and from the sabbath rest of the Hebrews.

What he says runs thus:--"As all generation is not protracted to infinity, but ceases on arriving at some end, those who admit the origination of the Son are absolutely obliged to say that He then ceased being generated, and not to look incredulously on the beginning of those things which cease being generated, and therefore also surely begin: for the cessation of generation establishes a beginning of begetting and being begotten: and these facts cannot be disbelieved, on the ground at once of nature itself and of the Divine laws [914] ." Now since he endeavours to establish his point inferentially, laying down his universal proposition according to the scientific method of those who are skilled in such matters, and including in the general premise the proof of the particular, let us first consider his universal, and then proceed to examine the force of his inferences. Is it a reverent proceeding to draw from "all generation" evidence even as to the pre-temporal generation of the Son? and ought we to put forward ordinary nature as our instructor on the being of the Only-begotten? For my own part, I should not have expected any one to reach such a point of madness, that any such idea of the Divine and unsullied generation should enter his fancy. "All generation," he says, "is not protracted to infinity." What is it that he understands by "generation"? Is he speaking of fleshly, bodily birth, or of the formation of inanimate objects? The affections involved in bodily generation are well known--affections which no one would think of transferring to the Divine Nature. In order therefore that our discourse may not, by mentioning the works of nature at length, be made to appear redundant, we shall pass such matters by in silence, as I suppose that every sensible man is himself aware of the causes by which generation is protracted, both in regard to its beginning and to its cessation: it would be tedious and at the same time superfluous to express them all minutely, the coming together of those who generate, the formation in the womb of that which is generated, travail, birth, place, time, without which the generation of a body cannot be brought about,--things which are all equally alien from the Divine generation of the Only-begotten: for if any one of these things were admitted, the rest will of necessity all enter with it. That the Divine generation, therefore, may be clear of every idea connected with passion, we shall avoid conceiving with regard to it even that extension which is measured by intervals. Now that which begins and ends is surely regarded as being in a kind of extension, and all extension is measured by time, and as time (by which we mark both the end of birth and its beginning) is excluded, it would be vain, in the case of the uninterrupted generation, to entertain the idea of end or beginning, since no idea can be formed to mark either the point at which such generation begins or that at which it ceases. If on the other hand it is the inanimate creation to which he is looking, even in this case, in like manner, place, and time, and matter, and preparation, and power of the artificer, and many like things, concur to bring the product to perfection. And since time assuredly is concurrent with all things that are produced, and since with everything that is created, be it animate or inanimate, there are conceived also bases of construction relative to the product, we can find in these cases evident beginnings and endings of the process of formation. For even the procuring of material is actually the beginning of the fabric, and is a sign of place, and is logically connected with time. All these things fix for the products their beginnings and endings; and no one could say that these things have any participation in the pretemporal generation of the Only-begotten God, so that, by the aid of the things now under consideration, we are able to calculate, with regard to that generation, any beginning or end.

Now that we have so far discussed these matters, let us resume consideration of our adversaries' argument. It says, "As all generation is not protracted to infinity, but ceases on arriving at some end." Now, since the sense of "generation" has been considered with respect to either meaning,--whether he intends by this word to signify the birth of corporeal beings, or the formation of things created (neither of which has anything in common with the unsullied Nature), the premise is shown to have no connection with the subject [915] . For it is not a matter of absolute necessity, as he maintains, that, because all making and generation ceases at some limit, therefore those who accept the generation of the Son should circumscribe it by a double limit, by supposing, as regards it, a beginning and an end. For it is only as being circumscribed in some quantitative way that things can be said either to begin or to cease on arriving at a limit, and the measure expressed by time (having its extension concomitant with the quantity of that which is produced) differentiates the beginning from the end by the interval between them. But how can any one measure or treat as extended that which is without quantity and without extension? What measure can he find for that which has no quantity, or what interval for that which has no extension? or how can any one define the infinite by "end" and "beginning?" for "beginning" and "end" are names of limits of extension, and, where there is no extension, neither is there any limit. Now the Divine Nature is without extension, and, being without extension, it has no limit; and that which is limitless is infinite, and is spoken of accordingly. Thus it is idle to try to circumscribe the infinite by "beginning" and "ending"--for what is circumscribed cannot be infinite. How comes it, then, that this Platonic Phædrus disconnectedly tacks on to his own doctrine those speculations on the soul which Plato makes in that dialogue? For as Plato there spoke of "cessation of motion," so this writer too was eager to speak of "cessation of generation," in order to impose upon those who have no knowledge of these matters, with fine Platonic phrases. "And these facts," he tells us, "cannot be disbelieved, on the ground at once of nature itself and of the Divine laws." But nature, from our previous remarks, appears not to be trustworthy for instruction as to the Divine generation,--not even if one were to take the universe itself as an illustration of the argument: since through its creation also, as we learn in the cosmogony of Moses, there ran the measure of time, meted out in a certain order and arrangement by stated days and nights, for each of the things that came into being: and this even our adversaries' statement does not admit with regard to the being of the Only-begotten, since it acknowledges that the Lord was before the times of the ages.

It remains to consider his support of his point by "the Divine laws," by which he undertakes to show both an end and a beginning of the generation of the Son. "God," he says, "willing that the law of creation should be impressed upon the Hebrews, did not appoint the first day of generation for the end of creation, or to be the evidence of its beginning; for He gave them as the memorial of the creation, not the first day of generation, but the seventh, whereon He rested from His works." Will any one believe that this was written by Eunomius, and that the words cited have not been inserted by us, by way of misrepresenting his composition so as to make him appear ridiculous to our readers, in dragging in to prove his point matters that have nothing to do with the question? For the matter in hand was to show, as he undertook to do, that the Son, not previously existing, came into being; and that in being generated, He took a beginning of generation, and of cessation [916] ,--His generation being protracted in time, as it were by a kind of travail. And what is his resource for establishing this? The fact that the people of the Hebrews, according to the Law, keep sabbath on the seventh day! How well the evidence agrees with the matter in hand! Because the Jew honours his sabbath by idleness, the fact, as he says, is proved that the Lord both had a beginning of birth and ceased being born! How many other testimonies on this matter has our author passed by, not at all of less weight than that which he employs to establish the point at issue!--the circumcision on the eighth day, the week of unleavened bread, the mystery on the fourteenth day of the moon's course, the sacrifices of purification, the observation of the lepers, the ram, the calf, the heifer, the scapegoat, the he-goat. If these things are far removed from the point, let those who are so much interested in the Jewish mysteries tell us how that particular matter is within range of the question. We judge it to be mean and unmanly to trample on the fallen, and shall proceed to enquire, from what follows in his writings, whether there is anything there of such a kind as to give trouble to his opponent. All, then, that he maintains in the next passage, as to the impropriety of supposing anything intermediate between the Father and the Son, I shall pass by, as being, in a sense, in agreement with our doctrine. For it would be alike undiscriminating and unfair not to distinguish in his remarks what is irreproachable, and what is blamable, seeing that, while he fights against his own statements, he does not follow his own admissions, speaking of the immediate character of the connection while refusing to admit its continuity, and conceiving that nothing was before the Son and having some suspicion that the Son was while yet contending that He came into being when He was not. We shall spend but a short time on these points (since the argument has already been established beforehand), and then proceed to handle the arguments proposed.

It is not allowable for the same person to set nothing above the existence of the Only-begotten, and to say that before His generation He was not, but that He was generated then when the Father willed. For "then" and "when" have a sense which specially and properly refers to the denoting of time, according to the common use of men who speak soundly, and according to their signification in Scripture. One may take "then shall they say among the heathen [917] ," and "when I sent you [918] " and "then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened [919] ," and countless similar phrases through the whole of Scripture, to prove this point, that the ordinary Scriptural use employs these parts of speech to denote time. If therefore, as our opponent allows, time was not, the signifying of time surely disappears too: and if this did not exist, it will necessarily be replaced by eternity in our conception [920] . For in the phrase "was not" there is surely implied "once": as, if he should speak of "not being," without the qualification "once," he would also deny his existence now: but if he admits His present existence, and contends against His eternity, it is surely not "not being" absolutely, but "not being" once which is present to his mind. And as this phrase is utterly unreal, unless it rests upon the signification of time, it would be foolish and idle to say that nothing was before the Son, and yet to maintain that the Son did not always exist. For if there is neither place nor time, nor any other creature where the Word that was in the beginning is not, the statement that the Lord "once was not" is entirely removed from the region of orthodox doctrine. So he is at variance not so much with us as with himself, who declares that the Only-begotten both was and was not. For in confessing that the conjunction of the Son with the Father is not interrupted by anything, He clearly testifies to His eternity. But if he should say that the Son was not in the Father, we shall not ourselves say anything against such a statement, but shall oppose to it the Scripture which declares that the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son, without adding to the phrase "once" or "when" or "then," but testifying His eternity by this affirmative and unqualified utterance.


Footnotes

[914] This quotation from Eunomius presents some difficulties, but it is quite as likely that they are due to the obscurity of his style, as that they are due to corruption of the text. [915] i. e.with the subject of discussion, the generation of the Only-begotten. [916] The genitive lexeos is rather awkward; it may be explained, however, as dependent upon archen; "He began to be generated: He began to cease being generated." [917] Ps. cxxvi. 3. [918] S. Luke xxii. 35. [919] S. Matt. xxv. 1 [920] The phrase is obscure, and the text possibly corrupt. To read tas ennoias (as Gulonius seems to have done) would simplify matters: but the general sense is clear--that the denial of the existence of time implies eternity.


4. Then, having shown that Eunomius' calumny against the great Basil, that he called the Only-begotten "Ungenerate," is false, and having again with much ingenuity discussed the eternity, being, and endlessness of the Only-begotten, and the creation of light and of darkness, he concludes the book.

With regard to his attempting to show that we say the Only-begotten God is ungenerate, it is as though he should say that we actually define the Father to be begotten: for either statement is of the same absurdity, or rather of the same blasphemous character. If, therefore, he has made up his mind to slander us, let him add the other charge as well, and spare nothing by which it may be in his power more violently to exasperate his hearers against us. But if one of these charges is withheld because its calumnious nature is apparent, why is the other made? For it is just the same thing, as we have said, so far as the impiety goes, to call the Son ungenerate and to call the Father generated. Now if any such phrase can be found in our writings, in which the Son is spoken of as ungenerate, we shall give the final vote against ourselves: but if he is fabricating false charges and calumnies at his pleasure, making any fictitious statement he pleases to slander our doctrines, this fact may serve with sensible men for an evidence of our orthodoxy, that while truth itself fights on our side, he brings forward a lie to accuse our doctrine and makes up an indictment for unorthodoxy that has no relation to our statements. To these charges, however, we can give a concise answer. As we judge that man accursed who says that the Only-begotten God is ungenerate, let him in turn anathematize the man who lays it down that He who was in the beginning "once was not." For by such a method it will be shown who brings his charges truly, and who calumniously. But if we deny his accusations, if, when we speak of a Father, we understand as implied in that word a Son also, and if, when we use the name "Son," we declare that He really is what He is called, being shed forth by generation from the ungenerate Light, how can the calumny of those who persist that we say the Only-begotten is ungenerate fail to be manifest? Yet we shall not, because we say that He exists by generation, therefore admit that He "once was not." For every one knows that the contradiction between "being" and "not being" is immediate, so that the affirmation of one of these terms is absolutely the destruction of the other, and that, just as "being" is the same in regard to every time at which any of the things that "are" is supposed to have its existence (for the sky, and stars, and sun, and the rest of the things that "are," are not more in a state of being now than they were yesterday, or the day before, or at any previous time), so the meaning of "not being" expresses non-existence equally at every time, whether one speaks of it in reference to what is earlier or to what is later. For any of the things that do not exist [921] is no more in a state of "not being" now than if it were non-existent before, but the idea of "not being" is one applied to that which "is not" at any distance of time. And for this reason, in speaking of living creatures, while we use different words to denote the dissolution into a state of "not being" of that which has been, and the condition of non-existence of that which has never had an entrance into being, and say either that a thing has never come into being at all, or that which was generated has died, yet by either form of speech we equally represent by our words "non-existence." For as day is bounded on each side by night, yet the parts of the night which bound it are not named alike, but we speak of one as "after night-fall," and of the other as "before dawn," while that which both phrases denote is night, so, if any one looks on that which is not in contrast to that which is, he will give different names to that state which is antecedent to formation and to that which follows the dissolution of what was formed, yet will conceive as one the condition which both phrases signify--the condition which is antecedent to formation and the condition following on dissolution after formation. For the state of "not being" of that which has not been generated, and of that which has died, save for the difference of the names, are the same,--with the exception of the account which we take of the hope of the resurrection. Now since we learn from Scripture that the Only-begotten God is the Prince of Life, the very life, and light, and truth, and all that is honourable in word or thought, we say that it is absurd and impious to contemplate, in conjunction with Him Who really is, the opposite conception, whether of dissolution tending to corruption, or of non-existence before formation: but as we extend our thought in every direction to what is to follow, or to what was before the ages, we nowhere pause in our conceptions at the condition of "not being," judging it to tend equally to impiety to cut short the Divine being by non-existence at any time whatever. For it is the same thing to say that the immortal life is mortal, that the truth is a lie, that light is darkness, and that that which is is not. He, accordingly, who refuses to allow that He will at some future time cease to be, will also refuse to allow that He "once was not," avoiding, according to our view, the same impiety on either hand: for, as no death cuts short the endlessness of the life of the Only-begotten, so, as we look back, no period of nonexistence will terminate His life in its course towards eternity, that that which in reality is may be clear of all community with that which in reality is not. For this cause the Lord, desiring that His disciples might be far removed from this error (that they might never, by themselves searching for something antecedent to the existence of the Only-begotten, be led by their reasoning to the idea of non-existence), saith, "I am in the Father, and the Father in Me [922] ," in the sense that neither is that which is not conceived in that which is, nor that which is in that which is not. And here the very order of the phrase explains the orthodox doctrine; for because the Father is not of the Son, but the Son of the Father, therefore He says, "I am in the Father," showing the fact that He is not of another but of Him, and then reverses the phrase to, "and the Father in Me," indicating that he who, in his curious speculation, passes beyond the Son, passes also beyond the conception of the Father: for He who is in anything cannot be found outside of that in which He is: so that the man who, while not denying that the Father is in the Son, yet imagines that he has in any degree apprehended the Father as external to the Son, is talking idly. Idle too are the wanderings of our adversaries' fighting about shadows touching the matter of "ungeneracy," proceeding without solid foundation by means of nonentities. Yet if I am to bring more fully to light the whole absurdity of their argument, let me be allowed to spend a little longer on this speculation. As they say that the Only-begotten God came into existence "later," after the Father, this "unbegotten" of theirs, whatever they imagine it to be, is discovered of necessity to exhibit with itself the idea of evil. Who knows not, that, just as the non-existent is contrasted with the existent, so with every good thing or name is contrasted the opposite conception, as "bad" with "good," "falsehood" with "truth," "darkness" with "light," and all the rest that are similarly opposed to one another, where the opposition admits of no middle term, and it is impossible that the two should co-exist, but the presence of the one destroys its opposite, and with the withdrawal of the other takes place the appearance of its contrary?

Now these points being conceded to us, the further point is also clear to any one, that, as Moses says darkness was before the creation of light, so also in the case of the Son (if, according to the heretical statement, the Father "made Him at that time when He willed"), before He made Him, that Light which the Son is was not; and, light not yet being, it is impossible that its opposite should not be. For we learn also from the other instances that nothing that comes from the Creator is at random, but that which was lacking is added by creation to existing things. Thus it is quite clear that if God did make the Son, He made Him by reason of a deficiency in the nature of things. As, then, while sensible light was still lacking, there was darkness, and darkness would certainly have prevailed had light not come into being, so also, when the Son "as yet was not," the very and true Light, and all else that the Son is, did not exist. For even according to the evidence of heresy, that which exists has no need of coming into being; if therefore He made Him, He assuredly made that which did not exist. Thus, according to their view, before the Son came into being, neither had truth come into being, nor the intelligible Light, nor the fount of life, nor, generally, the nature of any thing that is excellent and good. Now, concurrently with the exclusion of each of these, there is found to subsist the opposite conception: and if light was not, it cannot be denied that darkness was; and so with the rest,--in place of each of these more excellent conceptions it is clearly impossible that its opposite did not exist in place of that which was lacking. It is therefore a necessary conclusion, that when the Father, as the heretics say, "had not as yet willed to make the Son," none of those things which the Son is being yet existent, we must say that He was surrounded by darkness instead of Light, by falsehood instead of truth, by death instead of life, by evil instead of good. For He Who creates, creates things that are not; "That which is," as Eunomius says, "needs not generation"; and of those things which are considered as opposed, the better cannot be non-existent, except by the existence of the worse. These are the gifts with which the wisdom of heresy honours the Father, by which it degrades the eternity of the Son, and ascribes to God and the Father, before the "production" of the Son, the whole catalogue of evils!

And let no one think to rebut by examples from the rest of creation the demonstration of the doctrinal absurdity which results from this argument. One will perhaps say that, as, when the sky was not, there was no opposite to it, so we are not absolutely compelled to admit that if the Son, Who is Truth, had not come into existence, the opposite did exist. To him we may reply that to the sky there is no corresponding opposite, unless one were to say that its non-existence is opposed to its existence. But to virtue is certainly opposed that which is vicious (and the Lord is virtue); so that when the sky was not, it does not follow that anything was; but when good was not, its opposite was; thus he who says that good was not, will certainly allow, even without intending it, that evil was. "But the Father also," he says [923] , "is absolute virtue, and life, and light unapproachable, and all that is exalted in word or thought: so that there is no necessity to suppose, when the Only-begotten Light was not, the existence of that darkness which is His corresponding opposite." But this is just what I say, that darkness never was; for the light never "was not," for "the light," as the prophecy says, "is always in the light [924] ." If, however, according to the heretical doctrine, the "ungenerate light" is one thing, and the "generated light" another, and the one is eternal, while the other comes into existence at a later time, it follows of absolute necessity that in the eternal light we should find no place for the establishment of its opposite; (for if the light always shines, the power of darkness has no place in it;) and that in the case of the light which comes into being, as they say, afterwards, it is impossible that the light should shine forth save out of darkness; and the interval of darkness between eternal light and that which arises later will be clearly marked in every way. [925] For there would have been no need of the making of the later light, if that which was created had not been of utility for some purpose: and the one use of light is that of the dispersion by its means of the prevailing gloom. Now the light which exists without creation is what it is by nature by reason of itself; but the created light clearly comes into being by reason of something else. It must be then that its existence was preceded by darkness, on account of which the light was of necessity created, and it is not possible by any reasoning to make plausible the view that darkness did not precede the manifestation of the Only-begotten Light,--on the supposition, that is, that He is believed to have been "made" at a later time. Surely such a doctrine is beyond all impiety! It is therefore clearly shown that the Father of truth did not make the truth at a time when it was not; but, being the fountain of light and truth, and of all good, He shed forth from Himself that Only-begotten Light of truth by which the glory of His Person is expressly imaged; so that the blasphemy of those who say that the Son was a later addition to God by way of creation is at all points refuted.


Footnotes

[921] Reading ton me huphestoton, as the sense seems to require, unless we connect ton huphestoton with ouk estin. In this case the sense will be practically the same, but the sentence will be extremely involved. The point which S. Gregory desires to enforce is that "not being," or "non-existence," is one and the same thing, whether it is regarded as past, present, or future, and that it is, in any of these aspects, an idea which we cannot without impiety attach to the Divine Person of the Son. [922] S. John xiv. 10 [923] The words are probably those of the imaginary objector; but they may be a citation from Eunomius. [924] The reference is probably to Ps. xxxvi. 9. [925] i.e.the "later light" must have arisen from darkness; therefore darkness must have intervened between the "eternal light" and the "later light."


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