Writings of Gregory of Nyssa - Against Eunomius - Book X

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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 X.


1. The tenth book discusses the unattainable and incomprehensible character of the enquiry into entities. And herein he strikingly sets forth the points concerning the nature and formation of the ant, and the passage in the Gospel, "I am the door" and "the way," and also discusses the attribution and interpretation of the Divine names, and the episode of the children of Benjamin.

Let us, however, keep to our subject. A little further on he contends against those who acknowledge that human nature is too weak to conceive what cannot be grasped, and with lofty boasts enlarges on this topic on this wise, making light of our belief on the matter in these words:--"For it by no means follows that, if some one's mind, blinded by malignity, and for that reason unable to see anything in front or above its head, is but moderately competent for the apprehension of truth, we ought on that ground to think that the discovery of reality is unattainable by the rest of mankind." But I should say to him that he who declares that the discovery of reality is attainable, has of course advanced his own intellect by some method and logical process through the knowledge of existent things, and after having been trained in matters that are comparatively small and easily grasped by way of apprehension, has, when thus prepared, flung his apprehensive fancy upon those objects which transcend all conception. Let, then, the man who boasts that he has attained the knowledge of real existence, interpret to us the real nature of the most trivial object that is before our eyes, that by what is knowable he may warrant our belief touching what is secret: let him explain by reason what is the nature of the ant, whether its life is held together by breath and respiration, whether it is regulated by vital organs like other animals, whether its body has a framework of bones, whether the hollows of the bones are filled with marrow, whether its joints are united by the tension of sinews and ligaments, whether the position of the sinews is maintained by enclosures of muscles and glands, whether the marrow extends along the vertebræ from the sinciput to the tail, whether it imparts to the limbs that are moved the power of motion by means of the enclosure of sinewy membrane; whether the creature has a liver, and in connection with the liver a gall-bladder; whether it has kidneys and heart, arteries and veins, membranes and diaphragm; whether it is externally smooth or covered with hair; whether it is distinguished by the division into male and female; in what part of its body is located the power of sight and hearing; whether it enjoys the sense of smell; whether its feet are undivided or articulated; how long it lives; what is the method in which they derive generation one from another, and what is the period of gestation; how it is that all ants do not crawl, nor are all winged, but some belong to the creatures that move along the ground, while others are borne aloft in the air. Let him, then, who boasts that he has grasped the knowledge of real existence, disclose to us awhile the nature of the ant, and then, and not till then, let him discourse on the nature of the power that surpasses all understanding. But if he has not yet ascertained by his knowledge the nature of the tiny ant, how comes he to vaunt that by the apprehension of reason he has grasped Him Who in Himself controls all creation, and to say that those who own in themselves the weakness of human nature, have the perceptions of their souls darkened, and can neither reach anything in front of them, nor anything above their head?

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But now let us see what understanding he who has the knowledge of existent things possesses beyond the rest of the world. Let us listen to his arrogant utterance:--"Surely it would have been idle for the Lord to call Himself `the door,' if there were none to pass through to the understanding and contemplation of the Father, and it would have been idle for Him to call Himself `the way,' if He gave no facility to those who wish to come to the Father. And how could He be a light, without lightening men, without illuminating the eye of their soul to understand both Himself and the transcendent Light?" Well, if he were here enumerating some arguments from his own head, that evade the understanding of the hearers by their subtlety, there would perhaps be a possibility of being deceived by the ingenuity of the argument, as his underlying thought frequently escapes the reader's notice. But since he alleges the Divine words, of course no one blames those who believe that their inspired teaching is the common property of all. "Since then," he says, "the Lord was named `a door,' it follows from hence that the essence of God may be comprehended by man." But the Gospel does not admit of this meaning. Let us hear the Divine utterance itself. "I am the door," Christ says; "by Me if any man enter in he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and find pasture [926] ." Which then of these is the knowledge of the essence? For as several things are here said, and each of them has its own special meaning, it is impossible to refer them all to the idea of the essence, lest the Deity should be thought to be compounded of different elements; and yet it is not easy to find which of the phrases just quoted can most properly be applied to that subject. The Lord is "the door," "By Me," He says, "if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out and shall find pasture." Are we to say [927] "entrance" of which he speaks in place of the essence of God, or "salvation" of those that enter in, or "going out," or "pasture," or "finding"?--for each of these is peculiar in its significance, and does not agree in meaning with the rest. For to get within appears obviously contrary to "going out," and so with the other phrases. For "pasture," in its proper meaning, is one thing, and "finding" another thing distinct from it. Which, then, of these is the essence of the Father supposed to be? For assuredly one cannot, by uttering all these phrases that disagree one with another in signification, intend to indicate by incompatible terms that Essence which is simple and uncompounded. And how can the word hold good, "No man hath seen God at any time [928] " and, "Whom no man hath seen nor can see [929] " and, "There shall no man see the face of the Lord and live [930] " if to be inside the door, or outside, or the finding pasture, denote the essence of the Father? For truly He is at the same time a "door of encompassing [931] " and a "house of defence [932] " as David calls Him, and through Himself He receives them that enter, and in Himself He saves those who have come within, and again by Himself He leads them forth to the pasture of virtues, and becomes all things to them that are in the way of salvation, that so He may make Himself that which the needs of each demand,--both way, and guide, and "door of encompassing," and "house of defence," and "water of comfort [933] " and "green pasture [934] " which in the Gospel He calls "pasture": but our new divine says that the Lord has been called "the door" because of the knowledge of the essence of the Father. Why then does he not force into the same significance the titles, "Rock," and "Stone," and "Fountain," and "Tree," and the rest, that so he might obtain evidence for his own theory by the multitude of strange testimonies, as he is well able to apply to each of these the same account which he has given of the Way, the Door, and the Light? But, as I am so taught by the inspired Scripture, I boldly affirm that He Who is above every name has for us many names, receiving them in accordance with the variety of His gracious dealings with us [935] , being called the Light when He disperses the gloom of ignorance, and the Life when He grants the boon of immortality, and the Way when He guides us from error to the truth; so also He is termed a "tower of strength [936] ," and a "city of encompassing [937] ," and a fountain, and a rock, and a vine, and a physician, and resurrection, and all the like, with reference to us, imparting Himself under various aspects by virtue of His benefits to us-ward. But those who are keen-sighted beyond human power, who see the incomprehensible, but overlook what may be comprehended, when they use such titles to expound the essences, are positive that they not only see, but measure Him Whom no man hath seen nor can see, but do not with the eye of their soul discern the Faith, which is the only thing within the compass of our observation, valuing before this the knowledge which they obtain from ratiocination. Just so I have heard the sacred record laying blame upon the sons of Benjamin who did not regard the law, but could shoot within a hair's breadth [938] , wherein, methinks, the word exhibited their eager pursuit of an idle object, that they were far-darting and dexterous aimers at things that were useless and unsubstantial, but ignorant and regardless of what was manifestly for their benefit. For after what I have quoted, the history goes on to relate what befel them, how, when they had run madly after the iniquity of Sodom, and the people of Israel had taken up arms against them in full force, they were utterly destroyed. And it seems to me to be a kindly thought to warn young archers not to wish to shoot within a hair's-breadth, while they have no eyes for the door of the faith, but rather to drop their idle labour about the incomprehensible, and not to lose the gain that is ready to their hand, which is found by faith alone.


Footnotes

[926] S. John x. 9 [927] Reading eipomen, for which Oehler's text substitutes eipomen [928] S. John i. 18 [929] 1 Tim. vi. 16. [930] Cf. Exod. xxxiii. 20. [931] Ps. cxli. 3 (LXX.). [932] Ps. xxxi. 3. [933] Ps. xxiii. 2. [934] Ps. xxiii. 2. [935] This point has been already discussed by S. Gregory in the second and third books. See above. pp. 119, 149. It is also dealt with in the short treatise "On the Faith," addressed to Simplicius, which will be found in this volume. [936] Ps. lxi. 3. [937] Ps. xxxi. 21 (LXX.). [938] Cf. Judges xx. 16.


2. He then wonderfully displays the Eternal Life, which is Christ, to those who confess Him not, and applies to them the mournful lamentation of Jeremiah over Jehoiakim, as being closely allied to Montanus and Sabellius.

But now that I have surveyed what remains of his treatise I shrink from conducting my argument further, as a shudder runs through my heart at his words. For he wishes to show that the Son is something different from eternal life, while, unless eternal life is found in the Son, our faith will be proved to be idle, and our preaching to be vain, baptism a superfluity, the agonies of the martyrs all for nought, the toils of the Apostles useless and unprofitable for the life of men. For why did they preach Christ, in Whom, according to Eunomius, there does not reside the power of eternal life? Why do they make mention of those who had believed in Christ, unless it was through Him that they were to be partakers of eternal life? "For the intelligence," he says, "of those who have believed in the Lord, overleaping all sensible and intellectual existence, cannot stop even at the generation of the Son, but speeds beyond even this in its yearning for eternal life, eager to meet the First." What ought I most to bewail in this passage? that the wretched men do not think that eternal life is in the Son, or that they conceive of the Person of the Only-begotten in so grovelling and earthly a fashion, that they fancy they can mount in their reasonings upon His beginning, and so look by the power of their own intellect beyond the life of the Son, and, leaving the generation of the Lord somewhere beneath them, can speed onward beyond this in their yearning for eternal life? For the meaning of what I have quoted is nothing else than this, that the human mind, scrutinizing the knowledge of real existence, and lifting itself above the sensible and intelligible creation, will leave God the Word, Who was in the beginning, below itself, just as it has left below it all other things, and itself comes to be in Him in Whom God the Word was not, treading, by mental activity, regions which lie beyond the life of the Son, there searching for eternal life, where the Only-begotten God is not. "For in its yearning for eternal life," he says, "it is borne in thought, beyond the Son"--clearly as though it had not in the Son found that which it was seeking. If the eternal life is not in the Son, then assuredly He Who said, "I am the life [939] ," will be convicted of falsehood, or else He is life, it is true, but not eternal life. But that which is not eternal is of course limited in duration. And such a kind of life is common to the irrational animals as well as to men. Where then is the majesty of the very life, if even the irrational creation share it? and how will the Word or Divine Reason [940] be the same as the Life, if this finds a home, in virtue of the life which is but temporary, in irrational creatures? For if, according to the great John, the Word is Life [941] , but that life is temporary and not eternal, as their heresy holds, and if, moreover, the temporary life has place in other creatures, what is the logical consequence? Why, either that irrational animals are rational, or that the Reason must be confessed to be irrational. Have we any further need of words to confute their accursed and malignant blasphemy? Do such statements even pretend to conceal their intention of denying the Lord? For if the Apostle plainly says that what is not eternal is temporary [942] , and if these people see eternal life in the essence of the Father alone, and if by alienating the Son from the Nature of the Father they also cut Him off from eternal life, what is this but a manifest denial and rejection of the faith in the Lord? while the Apostle clearly says that those who "in this life only have hope in Christ are of all men most miserable [943] ." If then the Lord is life, but not eternal life, assuredly the life is temporal, and but for a day, that which is operative only for the present time, or else [944] the Apostle bemoans those who have hope, as having missed the true life.

However, they who are enlightened in Eunomius' fashion pass the Son by, and are carried in their reasonings beyond Him, seeking eternal life in Him Who is contemplated as outside and apart from the Only-begotten. What ought one to say to such evils as these,--save whatever calls forth lamentation and weeping? Alas, how can we groan over this wretched and pitiable generation, bringing forth a crop of such deadly mischiefs? In days of yore the zealous Jeremiah bewailed the people of Israel, when they gave an evil consent to Jehoiakim who led the way to idolatry, and were condemned to captivity under the Assyrians in requital for their unlawful worship, exiled from the sanctuary and banished far from the inheritance of their fathers. Yet more fitting does it seem to me that these lamentations be chanted when the imitator of Jehoiakim draws away those whom he deceives to this new kind of idolatry, banishing them from their ancestral inheritance,--I mean the Faith. They too, in a way corresponding to the Scriptural record, are carried away captive to Babylon from Jerusalem that is above,--that is from the Church of God to this confusion of pernicious doctrines,--for [945] Babylon means "confusion." And even as Jehoiakim was mutilated, so this man, having voluntarily deprived himself of the light of the truth, has become a prey to the Babylonian despot, never having learned, poor wretch, that the Gospel enjoins us to behold eternal life alike in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as the Word has thus spoken concerning the Father, that to know Him is life eternal [946] , and concerning the Son, that every one that believeth on Him hath eternal life [947] , and concerning the Holy Spirit, that to Him that hath received His grace it shall be a well of water springing up unto eternal life [948] . Accordingly every one that yearns for eternal life when he has found the Son,--I mean the true Son, and not the Son falsely so called--has found in Him in its entirety what he longed for, because He is life and hath life in Himself [949] . But this man, so subtle in mind, so keen-sighted of heart, does not by his extreme acuteness of vision discover life in the Son, but, having passed Him over and left Him behind as a hindrance in the way to that for which he searches he there seeks eternal life where he thinks the true Life not to be! What could we conceive more to be abhorred than this for profanity, or more melancholy as an occasion of lamentation? But that the charge of Sabellianism and Montanism should be repeatedly urged against our doctrines, is much the same as if one should lay to our charge the blasphemy of the Anomoeans. For if one were carefully to investigate the falsehood of these heresies, he would find that they have great similarity to the error of Eunomius. For each of them affects the Jew in his doctrine, admitting neither the Only-begotten God nor the Holy Spirit to share the Deity of the God Whom they call "Great," and "First." For Whom Sabellius calls God of the three names, Him does Eunomius term unbegotten: but neither contemplates the Godhead in the Trinity of Persons. Who then is really akin to Sabellius let the judgment of those who read our argument decide. Thus far for these matters.


Footnotes

[939] S. John xi. 25 [940] ho logos: the idea of "reason" must be expressed to convey the force required for the argument following. [941] Cf. S. John i. 4 [942] The reference is perhaps to 2 Cor. iv. 18. [943] Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 19. [944] If we might read he for e the sense of the passage would be materially simplified:--"His life is temporal, that life which operates only for the present time, whereon those who hope are the objects of the Apostle's pity." [945] Altering Oehler's punctuation. [946] Cf. S. John xvii. 3 [947] Cf. S. John iii. 36 [948] Cf. S. John iv. 14 [949] Cf. S. John v. 26


3. He then shows the eternity of the Son's generation, and the inseparable identity of His essence with Him that begat Him, and likens the folly of Eunomius to children playing with sand.

But since, in what follows, he is active in stirring up the ill savour of his disgusting attempts, whereby he tries to make out that the Only-begotten God "once was not," it will be well, as our mind on this head has been made pretty clear by our previous arguments, no longer to plunge our argument also in what is likewise bad, except perhaps that it is not unseasonable to add this one point, having selected it from the multitude. He says (some one having remarked that "the property of not being begotten is equally associated with the essence of the Father [950] "), "The argument proceeds by like steps to those by which it came to a conclusion in the case of the Son." The orthodox doctrine is clearly strengthened by the attack of its adversaries, the doctrine, namely, that we ought not to think that not to be begotten or to be begotten are identical with the essence [951] , but that these should be contemplated, it is true, in the subject, while the subject in its proper definition is something else beyond these, and since no difference is found in the subject, because the difference of "begotten" and "unbegotten" is apart from the essence, and does not affect it, it necessarily follows that the essence must be allowed to be in both Persons without variation. Let us moreover inquire, over and above what has been already said, into this point, in what sense he says that "generation" is alien from the Father,--whether he does so conceiving of it as an essence or an operation. If he conceives it to be an operation, it is clearly equally connected with its result and with its author, as in every kind of production one may see the operation alike in the product and the producer, appearing in the production of the effects and not separated from their artificer. But if he terms "generation" an essence separate from the essence of the Father, admitting that the Lord came into being therefrom, then he plainly puts this in the place of the Father as regards the Only-begotten, so that two Fathers are conceived in the case of the Son, one a Father in name alone, Whom he calls "the Ungenerate," Who has nothing to do with generation, and the other, which he calls "generation," performing the part of a Father to the Only-begotten.

And this is brought home even more by the statements of Eunomius himself than by our own arguments. For in what follows, he says:--"God, being without generation, is also prior to that which is generate," and a little further on, "for He Whose existence arises from being generated did not exist before He was generated." Accordingly, if the Father has nothing to do with generation, and if it is from generation that the Son derives His being, then the Father has no action in respect of the subsistence of the Son, and is apart from all connection with generation, from which the Son draws His being. If, then, the Father is alien from the generation of the Son, they either invent for the Son another Father under the name of "generation," or in their wisdom make out the Son to be self-begotten and self-generated. You see the confusion of mind of the man who exhibits his ignorance to us up and down in his own argument, how his profanity wanders in many paths, or rather in places where no path is, without advancing to its mark by any trustworthy guidance; and as one may see in the case of infants, when in their childish sport they imitate the building of houses with sand, that what they build is not framed on any plan, or by any rules of art, to resemble the original, but first they make something at haphazard, and in silly fashion, and then take counsel what to call it,--this penetration I discern in our author. For after getting together words of impiety according to what first comes into his head, like a heap of sand, he begins to cast about to see whither his unintelligible profanity tends, growing up as it does spontaneously from what he has said, without any rational sequence. For I do not imagine that he originally proposed to invent generation as an actual subsistence standing to the essence of the Son in the place of the Father, nor that it was part of our rhetorician's plan that the Father should be considered as alien from the generation of the Son, nor was the absurdity of self-generation deliberately introduced. But all such absurdities have been emitted by our author without reflection, so that, as regards them, the man who so blunders is not even worth much refutation, as he knows, to borrow the Apostle's words, "neither what he says, nor whereof he affirms [952] ."

"For He Whose existence arises from generation," he says, "did not exist before generation." If he here uses the term "generation" of the Father, I agree with Him, and there is no opponent. For one may mean the same thing by either phrase, by saying either that Abraham begat Isaac, or, that Abraham was the father of Isaac. Since then to be father is the same as to have begotten, if any one shifts the words from one form of speech to the other, paternity will be shown to be identical with generation. If, therefore, what Eunomius says is this, "He Whose existence is derived from the Father was not before the Father," the statement is sound, and we give our vote in favour of it. But if he is recurring in the phrase to that generation of which we have spoken before, and says that it is separated from the Father but associated with the Son, then I think it waste of time to linger over the consideration of the unintelligible. For whether he thinks generation to be a self-existent object, or whether by the name he is carried in thought to that which has no actual existence, I have not to this day been able to find out from his language. For his fluid and baseless argument lends itself alike to either supposition, inclining to one side or to the other according to the fancy of the thinker.


Footnotes

[950] Presumably the quotation from the unknown author, if completed, would run, "as that of being begotten is associated with the essence of the Son." [951] If the property of not being begotten is "associated with" the essence, it clearly cannot be the essence, as Eunomius elsewhere maintains it to be: hence the phrase which he here adopts concedes S. Gregory's position on this point. [952] 1 Tim. i. 7.


4. After this he shows that the Son, who truly is, and is in the bosom of the Father, is simple and uncompounded, and that, He Who redeemed us from bondage is not under dominion of the Father, nor in a state of slavery: and that otherwise not He alone, but also the Father Who is in the Son and is One with Him, must be a slave; and that the word "being" is formed from the word to "be." And having excellently and notably discussed all these matters, he concludes the book.

But not yet has the most grievous part of his profanity been examined, which the sequel of his treatise goes on to add. Well, let us consider his words sentence by sentence. Yet I know not how I can dare to let my mouth utter the horrible and godless language of him who fights against Christ. For I fear lest, like some baleful drugs, the remnant of the pernicious bitterness should be deposited upon the lips through which the words pass. "He that cometh unto God," says the Apostle, "must believe that He is [953] ." Accordingly, true existence is the special distinction of Godhead. But Eunomius makes out Him Who truly is, either not to exist at all, or not to exist in a proper sense, which is just the same as not existing at all; for he who does not properly exist, does not really exist at all; as, for example, he is said to "run" in a dream who in that state fancies he is exerting himself in the race, while, since he untruly acts the semblance of the real race, his fancy that he is running is not for this reason a race. But even though in an inexact sense it is so called, still the name is given to it falsely. Accordingly, he who dares to assert that the Only-begotten God either does not properly exist, or does not exist at all, manifestly blots out of his creed all faith in Him. For who can any longer believe in something non-existent? or who would resort to Him Whose being has been shown by the enemies of the true Lord to be improper and unsubstantial?

But that our statement may not be thought to be unfair to our opponents, I will set side by side with it the language of the impious persons, which runs as follows:--"He Who is in the bosom of the Existent, and Who is in the beginning and is with God, not being, or at all events not being in a strict sense, even though Basil, neglecting this distinction and addition, uses the title of `Existent' interchangeably, contrary to the truth--" What do you say? that He Who is in the Father is not, and that He Who is in the beginning, and Who is in the bosom of the Father, is not, for this very reason, that He is in the beginning and is in the Father, and is discerned in the bosom of the Existent, and hence does not in a strict sense exist, because He is in the Existent? Alas for the idle and irrational tenets! Now for the first time we have heard this piece of vain babbling,--that the Lord, by Whom are all things, does not in a strict sense exist. And we have not yet got to the end of this appalling statement; but something yet more startling remains behind, that he not only affirms that He does not exist, or does not strictly speaking exist, but also that the Nature in which He is conceived to reside is various and composite. For he says "not being, or not being simple." But that to which simplicity does not belong is manifestly various and composite. How then can the same Person be at once non-existent and composite in essence? For one of two alternatives they must choose: if they predicate of Him non-existence they cannot speak of Him as composite, or if they affirm Him to be composite they cannot rob Him of existence. But that their blasphemy may assume many and varied shapes, it jumps at every godless notion when it wishes to contrast Him with the existent, affirming that, strictly speaking, He does not exist, and in His relation to the uncompounded Nature denying Him the attribute of simplicity:--"not existing, not existing simply, not existing in the strict sense." Who among those who have transgressed the word and forsworn the Faith was ever so lavish in utterances denying the Lord? He has stood up in rivalry with the divine proclamation of John. For as often as the latter has attested "was" of the Word, so often does he apply to Him Who is an opposing "was not." And he contends against the holy lips of our father Basil, bringing against him the charge that he "neglects these distinctions," when he says that He Who is in the Father, and in the beginning, and in the bosom of the Father, exists, holding the view that the addition of "in the beginning," and "in the bosom of the Father," bars the real existence of Him Who is. Vain learning! What things the teachers of deceit teach! what strange doctrines they introduce to their hearers! they instruct them that that which is in something else does not exist! So, Eunomius, since your heart and brain are within you, neither of them, according to your distinction, exists. For if the Only-begotten God does not, strictly speaking, exist, for this reason, that He is in the bosom of the Father, then everything that is in something else is thereby excluded from existence. But certainly your heart exists in you, and not independently; therefore, according to your view, you must either say that it does not exist at all, or that it does not exist in the strict sense. However, the ignorance and profanity of his language are so gross and so glaring, as to be obvious even before our argument, at all events to all persons of sense: but that his folly as well as his impiety may be more manifest, we will add thus much to what has gone before. If one may only say that that in the strict sense exists, of which the word of Scripture attests the existence detached from all relation to anything else, why do they, like those who carry water, perish with thirst when they have it in their power to drink? Even this man, though he had at hand the antidote to his blasphemy against the Son, closed his eyes and ran past it as though fearing to be saved, and charges Basil with unfairness for having suppressed the qualifying words, and for only quoting the "was" by itself, in reference to the Only-Begotten. And yet it was quite in his power to see what Basil saw and what every one who has eyes sees. And herein the sublime John seems to me to have been prophetically moved, that the mouths of those fighters against Christ might be stopped, who on the ground of these additions deny the existence, in the strict sense, of the Christ, saying simply and without qualification "The Word was God," and was Life, and was Light [954] , not merely speaking of Him as being in the beginning, and with God, and in the bosom of the Father, so that by their relation the absolute existence of the Lord should be done away. But his assertion that He was God, by this absolute declaration detached from all relation to anything else, cuts off every subterfuge from those who in their reasonings run into impiety; and, in addition to this, there is moreover something else which still more convincingly proves the malignity of our adversaries. For if they make out that to exist in something is an indication of not existing in the strict sense, then certainly they allow that not even the Father exists absolutely, as they have learnt in the Gospel, that just as the Son abides in the Father, so the Father abides in the Son, according to the words of the Lord [955] . For to say that the Father is in the Son is equivalent to saying that the Son is in the bosom of the Father. And in passing let us make this further inquiry. When the Son, as they say, "was not," what did the bosom of the Father contain? For assuredly they must either grant that it was full, or suppose it to have been empty. If then the bosom was full, certainly the Son was that which filled the bosom. But if they imagine that there was some void in the bosom of the Father, they do nothing else than assert of Him perfection by way of augmentation, in the sense that He passed from the state of void and deficiency to the state of fulness and perfection. But "they knew not nor understood," says David of those that "walk on still in darkness [956] ." For he who has been rendered hostile to the true Light cannot keep his soul in light. For this reason it was that they did not perceive lying ready to their hand in logical sequence that which would have corrected their impiety, smitten, as it were, with blindness, like the men of Sodom.

But he also says that the essence of the Son is controlled by the Father, his exact words being as follows:--"For He Who is and lives because of the Father, does not appropriate this dignity, as the essence which controls even Him attracts to itself the conception of the Existent." If these doctrines approve themselves to some of the sages "who are without," let not the Gospels nor the rest of the teaching of the Holy Scripture be in any way disturbed. For what fellowship is there between the creed of Christians and the wisdom that has been made foolish [957] ? But if he leans upon the support of the Scriptures, let him show one such declaration from the holy writings, and we will hold our peace. I hear Paul cry aloud, "There is one Lord Jesus Christ [958] ." But Eunomius shouts against Paul, calling Christ a slave. For we recognize no other mark of a slave than to be subject and controlled. The slave is assuredly a slave, but the slave cannot by nature be Lord, even though the term be applied to Him by inexact use. And why should I bring forward the declarations of Paul in evidence of the lordship of the Lord? For Paul's Master Himself tells His disciples that He is truly Lord, accepting as He does the confession of those who called Him Master and Lord. For He says, "Ye call Me Master and Lord; and ye say well, for so I am [959] ." And in the same way He enjoined that the Father should be called Father by them, saying, "Call no man master upon earth: for one is your Master, even Christ: and call no man father upon earth, for one is your Father, Which is in heaven [960] ." To which then ought we to give heed, as we are thus hemmed in between them? On one side the Lord Himself, and he who has Christ speaking in him [961] , enjoin us not to think of Him as a slave, but to honour Him even as the Father is honoured, and on the other side Eunomius brings his suit against the Lord, claiming Him as a slave, when he says that He on Whose shoulders rests the government of the universe is under dominion. Can our choice what to do be doubtful, or is the decision which is the more advantageous course unimportant? Shall I slight the advice of Paul, Eunomius? shall I deem the voice of the Truth less trustworthy than thy deceit? But "if I had not come and spoken unto them, they had not had sin [962] ." Since then, He has spoken to them, truly declaring Himself to be Lord, and that He is not falsely named Lord (for He says, "I am," not "I am called"), what need is there that they should do that, whereon the vengeance is inevitable because they are forewarned?

But perhaps, in answer to this, he will again put forth his accustomed logic, and will say that the same Being is both slave and Lord, dominated by the controlling power but lording it over the rest. These profound distinctions are talked of at the cross-roads, circulated by those who are enamoured of falsehood, who confirm their idle notions about the Deity by illustrations from the circumstances of ordinary life. For since the occurrences of this world give us examples of such arrangements [963] (thus in a wealthy establishment one may see the more active and devoted servant set over his fellow-servants by the command of his master, and so invested with superiority over others in the same rank and station), they transfer this notion to the doctrines concerning the Godhead, so that the Only-begotten God, though subject to the sovereignty of His superior, is no way hindered by the authority of His sovereign in the direction of those inferior to Him. But let us bid farewell to such philosophy, and proceed to discuss this point according to the measure of our intelligence. Do they confess that the Father is by nature Lord, or do they hold that He arrived at this position by some kind of election? I do not think that a man who has any share whatever of intellect could come to such a pitch of madness as not to acknowledge that the lordship of the God of all is His by nature. For that which is by nature simple, uncompounded, and indivisible, whatever it happens to be, that it is throughout in all its entirety, not becoming one thing after another by some process of change, but remaining eternally in the condition in which it is. What, then, is their belief about the Only-begotten? Do they own that His essence is simple, or do they suppose that in it there is any sort of composition? If they think that He is some multiform thing, made up of many parts, assuredly they will not concede Him even the name of Deity, but will drag down their doctrine of the Christ to corporeal and material conceptions: but if they agree that He is simple, how is it possible in the simplicity of the subject to recognize the concurrence of contrary attributes? For just as the contradictory opposition of life and death admits of no mean, so in its distinguishing characteristics is domination diametrically and irreconcilably opposed to servitude. For if one were to consider each of these by itself, one could not properly frame any definition that would apply alike to both, and where the definition of things is not identical, their nature also is assuredly different. If then the Lord is simple and uncompounded in nature, how can the conjunction of contraries be found in the subject, as would be the case if servitude mingled with lordship? But if He is acknowledged to be Lord, in accordance with the teaching of the saints, the simplicity of the subject is evidence that He can have no part or lot in the opposite condition: while if they make Him out to be a slave, then it is idle for them to ascribe to Him the title of lordship. For that which is simple in nature is not parted asunder into contradictory attributes. But if they affirm that He is one, and is called the other, that He is by nature slave and Lord in name alone, let them boldly utter this declaration and relieve us from the long labour of answering them. For who can afford to be so leisurely in his treatment of inanities as to employ arguments to demonstrate what is obvious and unambiguous? For if a man were to inform against himself for the crime of murder, the accuser would not be put to any trouble in bringing home to him by evidence the charge of blood-guiltiness. In like manner we shall no longer bring against our opponents, when they advance so far in impiety, a confutation framed after examination of their case. For he who affirms the Only-begotten to be a slave, makes Him out by so saying to be a fellow-servant with himself: and hence will of necessity arise a double enormity. For either he will despise his fellow-slave and deny the faith, having shaken off the yoke of the lordship of Christ, or he will bow before the slave, and, turning away from the self-determining nature that owns no Lord over it, will in a manner worship himself instead of God. For if he sees himself in slavery, and the object of his worship also in slavery, he of course looks at himself, seeing the whole of himself in that which he worships. But what reckoning can count up all the other mischiefs that necessarily accompany this pravity of doctrine? For who does not know that he who is by nature a slave, and follows his avocation under the constraint imposed by a master, cannot be removed even from the emotion of fear? And of this the inspired Apostle is a witness, when he says, "Ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear [964] ." So that they will be found to attribute, after the likeness of men, the emotion of fear also to their fellow-servant God.

Such is the God of heresy. But what we, who, in the words of the Apostle, have been called to liberty by Christ [965] , Who hath freed us from bondage, have been taught by the Scriptures to think, I will set forth in few words. I take my start from the inspired teaching, and boldly declare that the Divine Word does not wish even us to be slaves, our nature having now been changed for the better, and that He Who has taken all that was ours, on the terms of giving to us in return what is His, even as He took disease, death, curse, and sin, so took our slavery also, not in such a way as Himself to have what He took, but so as to purge our nature of such evils, our defects being swallowed up and done away with in His stainless nature. As therefore in the life that we hope for there will be neither disease, nor curse, nor sin, nor death, so slavery also along with these will vanish away. And that what I say is true I call the Truth Himself to witness, Who says to His disciples "I call you no more servants, but friends [966] ." If then our nature will be free at length from the reproach of slavery, how comes the Lord of all to be reduced to slavery by the madness and infatuation of these deranged men, who must of course, as a logical consequence, assert that He does not know the counsels of the Father, because of His declaration concerning the slave, which tells us that "the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth [967] "? But when they say this, let them hear that the Son has in Himself all that pertains to the Father, and sees all things that the Father doeth, and none of the good things that belong to the Father is outside the knowledge of the Son. For how can He fail to have anything that is the Father's, seeing He has the Father wholly in Himself? Accordingly, if "the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth," and if He has in Himself all things that are the Father's, let those who are reeling with strong drink at last become sober, and let them now, if never before, look up at the truth, and see that He who has all things that the Father has is lord of all, and not a slave. For how can the personality that owns no lord over it bear on itself the brand of slavery? How can the King of all fail to have His form of like honour with Himself? how can dishonour--for slavery is dishonour--constitute the brightness of the true glory? and how is the King's son born into slavery? No, it is not so. But as He is Light of Light, and Life of Life, and Truth of Truth, so is He Lord of Lord, King of King, God of God, Supreme of Supreme; for having in Himself the Father in His entirety, whatever the Father has in Himself He also assuredly has, and since, moreover, all that the Son has belongs to the Father, the enemies of God's glory are inevitably compelled, if the Son is a slave, to drag down to servitude the Father as well. For there is no attribute of the Son which is not absolutely the Father's. "For all Mine are Thine," He says, "and Thine are Mine [968] ." What then will the poor creatures say? Which is more reasonable--that the Son, Who has said, "Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them [969] ," should be glorified in the sovereignty of the Father, or that insult should be offered to the Father by the degradation involved in the slavery of the Son? For it is not possible that He Who contains in Himself all that belongs to the Son, and Who is Himself in the Son, should not also absolutely be in the slavery of the Son, and have slavery in Himself. Such are the results achieved by Eunomius' philosophy, whereby he inflicts upon his Lord the insult of slavery, while he attaches the same degradation to the stainless glory of the Father.

Let us however return once more to the course of his treatise. What does Eunomius say concerning the Only-begotten? That He "does not appropriate the dignity," for he calls the appellation of "being" a "dignity." A startling piece of philosophy! Who of all men that have ever been, whether among Greeks or barbarian sages, who of the men of our own day, who of the men of all time ever gave "being" the name of "dignity"? For everything that is regarded as subsisting [970] is said, by the common custom of all who use language, to "be": and from the word "be" has been formed the term "being." But now the expression "dignity" is applied in a new fashion to the idea expressed by "being." For he says that "the Son, Who is and lives because of the Father, does not appropriate this dignity," having no Scripture to support his statement, and not conducting his statement to so senseless a conclusion by any process of logical inference, but as if he had taken into his intestines some windy food, he belches forth his blasphemy in its crude and unmethodized form, like some unsavoury breath. "He does not appropriate this dignity." Let us concede the point of "being" being called "dignity." What then? does He Who is not appropriate being? "No," says Eunomius, "because He exists by reason of the Father." Do you not then say that He Who does not appropriate being is not? for "not to appropriate" has the same force as "to be alien from", and the mutual opposition of the ideas [971] is evident. For that which is "proper" is not "alien," and that which is "alien" is not "proper." He therefore Who does not "appropriate" being is obviously alien from being: and He Who is alien from being is nonexistent.

But his cogent proof of this absurdity he brings forward in the words, "as the essence which controls even Him attracts to itself the conception of the Existent." Let us say nothing about the awkwardness of the combination here: let us examine his serious meaning. What argument ever demonstrated this? He superfluously reiterates to us his statement of the Essence of the Father having sovereignty over the Son. What evangelist is the patron of this doctrine? What process of dialectic conducts us to it. What premises support it? What line of argument ever demonstrated by any logical consequence that the Only-begotten God is under dominion? "But," says he, "the essence that is dominant over the Son attracts to itself the conception of the Existent." What is the meaning of the attraction of the existent? and how comes the phrase of "attracting" to be flung on the top of what he has said before? Assuredly he who considers the force of words will judge for himself. About this, however, we will say nothing: but we will take up again that argument that he does not grant essential being to Him to Whom he does not leave the title of the Existent. And why does he idly fight with shadows, contending about the non-existent being this or that? For that which does not exist is of course neither like anything else, nor unlike. But while granting that He is existent he forbids Him to be so called. Alas for the vain precision of haggling about the sound of a word while making concessions on the more important matter! But in what sense does He, Who, as he says, has dominion over the Son, "attract to Himself the conception of the Existent"? For if he says that the Father attracts His own essence, this process of attraction is superfluous: for existence is His already, without being attracted. If, on the other hand, his meaning is that the existence of the Son is attracted by the Father, I cannot make out how existence is to be wrenched from the Existent, and to pass over to Him Who "attracts" it. Can he be dreaming of the error of Sabellius, as though the Son did not exist in Himself, but was painted on to the personal existence of the Father? is this his meaning in the expression that the conception of the Existent is attracted by the essence which exercises domination over the Son? or does he, while not denying the personal existence of the Son, nevertheless say that He is separated from the meaning conveyed by the term "the Existent"? And yet, how can "the Existent" be separated from the conception of existence? For as long as anything is what it is, nature does not admit that it should not be what it is.


Footnotes

[953] Heb. xi. 6. [954] Cf. S. John i. 1, 4 [955] S. John xiv. 11 [956] Cf. Ps. lxxxii. 5. [957] Cf. 1 Cor. i. 20 [958] Cf. 1 Cor. viii. 6. [959] Cf. S. John xiii. 13. [960] Cf. S. Matt. xxiii. 8-10. [961] Cf. 2 Cor. xiii. 3. [962] S. John xv. 22 [963] Oehler's punctuation seems here to require alteration. [964] Rom. viii. 15. [965] Cf. Gal. v. 13 [966] Cf. S. John xv. 15 [967] Cf. S. John xv. 15 [968] S. John xvii. 10. [969] S. John xvii. 10. [970] en hupostasei theoroumenon [971] The ideas of "own" implied in "appropriate," and that of incongruity implied in "alienation."

.


Book XI.


1. The eleventh book shows that the title of "Good" is due, not to the Father alone, as Eunomius, the imitator of Manichæus and Bardesanes, alleges, but to the Son also, Who formed man in goodness and loving-kindness, and reformed him by His Cross and Death.

Let us now go on to the next stage in his argument:--"....the Only-begotten Himself ascribing to the Father the title due of right to Him alone. For He Who has taught us that the appellation `good' belongs to Him alone Who is the cause of His own [972] goodness and of all goodness, and is so at all times, and Who refers to Him all good that has ever come into being, would be slow to appropriate to Himself the authority over all things that have come into being, and the title of `the Existent.'" Well, so long as he concealed his blasphemy under some kind of veil, and strove to entangle his deluded hearers unawares in the mazes of his dialectic, I thought it necessary to watch his unfair and clandestine dealings, and as far as possible to lay bare in my argument the lurking mischief. But now that he has stripped his falsehood of every mask that could disguise it, and publishes his profanity aloud in categorical terms, I think it superfluous to undergo useless labour in bringing logical modes of confutation to bear upon those who make no secret of their impiety. For what further means could we discover to demonstrate their malignity so efficacious as that which they themselves show us in their writings ready to our hand? He says that the Father alone is worthy of the title of "good," that to Him alone such a name is due, on the plea that even the Son Himself agrees that goodness belongs to Him alone. Our accuser has pleaded our cause for us: for perhaps in my former statements I was thought by my readers to show a certain wanton insolence when I endeavoured to demonstrate that the fighters against Christ made Him out to be alien from the goodness of the Father. But I think it has now been proved by the confession of our opponents that in bringing such a charge against them we were not acting unfairly. For he who says that the title of "good" belongs of right to the Father only, and that such an address befits Him alone, publishes abroad, by thus disclosing his real meaning, the villainy which he had previously wrapped up in disguise. He says that the title of "good" befits the Father only. Does he mean the title with the signification which belongs to the expression, or the title detached from its proper meaning? If on the one side he merely ascribes to the Father the title of "good" in a special sense, he is to be pitied for his irrationality in allowing to the Father merely the sound of an empty name. But if he thinks that the conception expressed by the term "good" belongs to God the Father only, he is to be abominated for his impiety, reviving as he does the plague of the Manichæan heresy in his own opinions. For as health and disease, even so goodness and badness exist on terms of mutual destruction, so that the absence of the one is the presence of the other. If then he says that goodness belongs to the Father only, he cuts off these from every conceivable object in existence except the Father, so that, along with all, the Only-begotten God is shut out from good. For as he who affirms that man alone is capable of laughter implies thereby that no other animal shares this property, so he who asserts that good is in the Father alone separates all things from that property. If then, as Eunomius declares, the Father alone has by right the title of "good," such a term will not be properly applied to anything else. But every impulse of the will either operates in accordance with good, or tends to the contrary. For to be inclined neither one way nor the other, but to remain in a state of equipoise, is the property of creatures inanimate or insensible. If the Father alone is good, having goodness not as a thing acquired, but in His nature, and if the Son, as heresy will have it, does not share in the nature of the Father, then he who does not share the good essence of the Father is of course at the same time excluded also from part and lot in the title of "good." But he who has no claim either to the nature or to the name of "good"--what he is assuredly not unknown, even though I forbear the blasphemous expression. For it is plain to all that the object for which Eunomius is so eager is to import into the conception of the Son a suspicion of that which is evil and opposite to good. For what kind of name belongs to him who is not good is manifest to every one who has a share of reason. As he who is not brave is cowardly, as he who is not just is unjust, and as he who is not wise is foolish, so he who is not good clearly has as his own the opposite name, and it is to this that the enemy of Christ wishes to press the conception of the Only-begotten, becoming thereby to the Church another Manes or Bardesanes. These are the sayings in regard of which we say that our utterance would be no more effective than silence. For were one to say countless things, and to arouse all possible arguments, one could not say anything so damaging of our opponents as what is openly and undisguisedly proclaimed by themselves. For what more bitter charge could one invent against them for malice than that of denying that He is good "Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God [973] ," but yet condescended to the low estate of human nature, and did so solely for the love of man? In return for what, tell me, "do ye thus requite the Lord [974] ?" (for I will borrow the language of Moses to the Israelites); is He not good, Who when thou wast soulless dust invested thee with Godlike beauty, and raised thee up as an image of His own power endowed with soul? Is He not good, Who for thy sake took on Him the form of a servant, and for the joy set before Him [975] did not shrink from bearing the sufferings due to thy sin, and gave Himself a ransom for thy death, and became for our sakes a curse and sin?


Footnotes

[972] That is, of the Son's goodness: for S. Gregory's comment on the awkward use of the pronoun spheteras, see p. 233, inf. [973] Cf. Phil. ii. 6 [974] Deut. xxxii. 6. [975] Heb. xii. 2.


2. He also ingeniously shows from the passage of the Gospel which speaks of "Good Master," from the parable of the Vineyard, from Isaiah and from Paul, that there is not a dualism in the Godhead of good and evil, as Eunomius' ally Marcion supposes, and declares that the Son does not refuse the title of "good" or "Existent," or acknowledge His alienation from the Father, but that to Him also belongs authority over all things that come into being.

Not even Marcion himself, the patron of your opinions, supports you in this. It is true that in common with you he holds a dualism of gods, and thinks that one is different in nature from the other, but it is the more courteous view to attribute goodness to the God of the Gospel. You however actually separate the Only-begotten God from the nature of good, that you may surpass even Marcion in the depravity of your doctrines. However, they claim the Scripture on their side, and say that they are hardly treated when they are accused for using the very words of Scripture. For they say that the Lord Himself has said, "There is none good but one, that is, God [976] ." Accordingly, that misrepresentation may not prevail against the Divine words, we will briefly examine the actual passage in the Gospel. The history regards the rich man to whom the Lord spoke this word as young--the kind of person, I suppose, inclined to enjoy the pleasures of this life--and attached to his possessions; for it says that he was grieved at the advice to part with what he had, and that he did not choose to exchange his property for life eternal. This man, when he heard that a teacher of eternal life was in the neighbourhood, came to him in the expectation of living in perpetual luxury, with life indefinitely extended, flattering the Lord with the title of "good,"--flattering, I should rather say, not the Lord as we conceive Him, but as He then appeared in the form of a servant. For his character was not such as to enable him to penetrate the outward veil of flesh, and see through it into the inner shrine of Deity. The Lord, then, Who seeth the hearts, discerned the motive with which the young man approached Him as a suppliant,--that he did so, not with a soul intently fixed upon the Divine, but that it was the man whom he besought, calling Him "Good Master," because he hoped to learn from Him some lore by which the approach of death might be hindered. Accordingly, with good reason did He Who was thus besought by him answer even as He was addressed [977] . For as the entreaty was not addressed to God the Word, so correspondingly the answer was delivered to the applicant by the Humanity of Christ, thereby impressing on the youth a double lesson. For He teaches him, by one and the same answer, both the duty of reverencing and paying homage to the Divinity, not by flattering speeches but by his life, by keeping the commandments and buying life eternal at the cost of all possessions, and also the truth that humanity, having been sunk in depravity by reason of sin, is debarred from the title of "Good": and for this reason He says, "Why callest Thou Me good?" suggesting in His answer by the word "Me" that human nature which encompassed Him, while by attributing goodness to the Godhead He expressly declared Himself to be good, seeing that He is proclaimed to be God by the Gospel. For had the Only-begotten Son been excluded from the title of God, it would perhaps not have been absurd to think Him alien also from the appellation of "good." But if, as is the case, prophets, evangelists, and Apostles proclaim aloud the Godhead of the Only-begotten, and if the name of goodness is attested by the Lord Himself to belong to God, how is it possible that He Who is partaker of the Godhead should not be partaker of the goodness too? For that both prophets, evangelists, disciples and apostles acknowledge the Lord as God, there is none so uninitiated in Divine mysteries as to need to be expressly told. For who knows not that in the forty-fourth [978] Psalm the prophet in his word affirms the Christ to be God, anointed by God? And again, who of all that are conversant with prophecy is unaware that Isaiah, among other passages, thus openly proclaims the Godhead of the Son, where he says: "The Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and shall be servants unto thee: they shall come after thee bound in fetters, and in thee shall they make supplication, because God is in thee, and there is no God beside thee; for thou art God [979] ." For what other God there is Who has God in Himself, and is Himself God, except the Only-begotten, let them say who hearken not to the prophecy; but of the interpretation of Emmanuel, and the confession of Thomas after his recognition of the Lord, and the sublime diction of John, as being manifest even to those who are outside the faith, I will say nothing. Nay, I do not even think it necessary to bring forward in detail the utterances of Paul, since they are, as one may say, in all men's mouths, who gives the Lord the appellation not only of "God," but of "great God" and "God over all," saying to the Romans, "Whose are the fathers, and of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, Who is over all, God blessed for ever [980] ," and writing to his disciple Titus, "According to the appearing of Jesus Christ the great God and our Saviour [981] ," and to Timothy, proclaims in plain terms, "God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the spirit [982] ." Since then the fact has been demonstrated on every side that the Only-begotten God is God [983] , how is it that he who says that goodness belongs to God, strives to show that the Godhead of the Son is alien from this ascription, and this though the Lord has actually claimed for Himself the epithet "good" in the parable of those who were hired into the vineyard? For there, when those who had laboured before the others were dissatisfied at all receiving the same pay, and deemed the good fortune of the last to be their own loss, the just judge says to one of the murmurers [984] , "Friend, I do thee no wrong: did I not agree with thee for a penny a day? Lo, there thou hast that is thine [985] : I will bestow upon this last even as upon thee. Have I not power to do what I will with mine own? Is thine eye evil because I am good?" Of course no one will contest the point that to distribute recompense according to desert is the special function of the judge; and all the disciples of the Gospel agree that the Only-begotten God is Judge; "for the Father," He saith, "judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son [986] ." But they do not set themselves in opposition [987] to the Scriptures. For they say that the word "one" absolutely points to the Father. For He saith, "There is none good but one, that is God." Will truth then lack vigour to plead her own cause? Surely there are many means easily to convict of deception this quibble also. For He Who said this concerning the Father spake also to the Father that other word, "All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine, and I am glorified in them [988] ." Now if He says that all that is the Father's is also the Son's, and goodness is one of the attributes pertaining to the Father, either the Son has not all things if He has not this, and they will be saying that the Truth lies, or if it is impious to suspect the very Truth of being carried away into falsehood, then He Who claimed all that is the Father's as His own, thereby asserted that He was not outside of goodness. For He Who has the Father in Himself, and contains all things that belong to the Father, manifestly has His goodness with "all things." Therefore the Son is Good. But "there is none good," he says, "but one, that is God." This is what is alleged by our adversaries: nor do I myself reject the statement. I do not, however, for this cause deny the Godhead of the Son. But he who confesses that the Lord is God, by that very confession assuredly also asserts of Him goodness. For if goodness is a property of God, and if the Lord is God, then by our premises the Son is shown to be God. "But," says our opponent, "the word `one' excludes the Son from participation in goodness." It is easy, however, to show that not even the word "one" separates the Father from the Son. For in all other cases, it is true, the term "one" carries with it the signification of not being coupled with anything else, but in the case of the Father and the Son "one" does not imply isolation. For He says, "I and the Father are one [989] ." If, then, the good is one, and a particular kind of unity is contemplated in the Father and the Son, it follows that the Lord, in predicating goodness of "one," claimed under the term "one" the title of "good" also for Himself, Who is one with the Father, and not severed from oneness of nature.


Footnotes

[976] Cf. S. Matt. xix. 17. [977] i.e.as man, and not as God. [978] Ps. xlv. 7, 8. (The Psalm is the 44th in the LXX. numeration, and is so styled by S. Gregory.) [979] Cf. Is. xlv. 14, 15 (LXX.). [980] Rom. ix. 5. [981] Cf. Tit. ii. 13. The quotation is not verbal; and here the rendering of the A.V. rather obscures the sense which it is necessary for S. Gregory's argument to bring out. [982] 1 Tim. iii. 16 (reading Theos, or, if the citation is to be considered as verbal, ho Theos). [983] Reading tou Theon einai ton monogene Theon for tou Theou einai k.t.l. The reading of the texts does not give the sense required for the argument. [984] Compare with what follows S. Matt. xx. 13, 15. S. Gregory seems to be quoting from memory; his Greek is not so close to that of S. Matthew as the translation to the A.V. [985] Cf. S. Matt. xxv. 25, from which this phrase is borrowed, with a slight variation. [986] S. John v. 22 [987] This seems a sense etymologically possible for kathistantai with a genitive, a use of which Liddell and Scott give no instances. The statement must of course be taken as that of the adversaries themselves. [988] S. John xvii. 10. [989] Cf. S. John x. 30


3. He then exposes the ignorance of Eunomius, and the incoherence and absurdity of his arguments, in speaking of the Son as "the Angel of the Existent," and as being as much below the Divine Nature as the Son is superior to the things created by Himself. And in this connection there is a noble and forcible counter-statement and an indignant refutation, showing that He Who gave the oracles to Moses is Himself the Existent, the Only-begotten Son, Who to the petition of Moses, "If Thou Thyself goest not with us, carry me not up hence," said, "I will do this also that thou hast said"; Who is also called "Angel" both by Moses and Isaiah: wherein is cited the text, "Unto us a Child is born."

But that the research and culture of our imposing author may be completely disclosed, we will consider sentence by sentence his presentment of his sentiments. "The Son," he says, "does not appropriate the dignity of the Existent," giving the name of "dignity" to the actual fact of being:--(with what propriety he knows how to adapt words to things!)--and since He is "by reason of the Father," he says that He is alienated from Himself on the ground that the essence which is supreme over Him attracts to itself the conception of the Existent. This is much the same as if one were to say that he who is bought for money, in so far as he is in his own existence, is not the person bought, but the purchaser, inasmuch as his essential personal existence is absorbed into the nature of him who has acquired authority over him. Such are the lofty conceptions of our divine: but what is the demonstration of his statements?...."the Only-begotten," he says, "Himself ascribing to the Father the title due of right to Him alone," and then he introduces the point that the Father alone is good. Where in this does the Son disclaim the title of "Existent"? Yet this is what Eunomius is driving at when he goes on word for word as follows:--"For He Who has taught us that the appellation `good' belongs to Him alone Who is the cause of His own goodness and of all goodness, and is so at all times, and Who refers to Him all good that has ever come into being, would be slow to appropriate to Himself the authority over all things that have come into being, and the title of `the Existent.'" What has "authority" to do with the context? and how along with this is the Son also alienated from the title of "Existent"? But really I do not know what one ought rather to do at this,--to laugh at the want of education, or to pity the pernicious folly which it displays. For the expression, "His own," not employed according to the natural meaning, and as those who know how to use language are wont to use it, attests his extensive knowledge of the grammar of pronouns, which even little boys get up with their masters without trouble, and his ridiculous wandering from the subject to what has nothing to do either with his argument or with the form of that argument, considered as syllogistic, namely, that the Son has no share in the appellation of "Existent"--an assertion adapted to his monstrous inventions [990] ,--this and similar absurdities seem combined together for the purpose of provoking laughter; so that it may be that readers of the more careless sort experience some such inclination, and are amused by the disjointedness of his arguments. But that God the Word should not exist, or that He at all events should not be good (and this is what Eunomius maintains when he says that He does not "appropriate the title" of "Existent" and "good"), and to make out that the authority over all things that come into being does not belong to him,--this calls for our tears, and for a wail of mourning.

For it is not as if he had but let fall something of the kind just once under some headlong and inconsiderate impulse, and in what followed had striven to retrieve his error: no, he dallies lingeringly with the malignity, striving in his later statements to surpass what had gone before. For as he proceeds, he says that the Son is the same distance below the Divine Nature as the nature of angels is subjected below His own, not indeed saying this in so many words, but endeavouring by what he does say to produce such an impression. The reader may judge for himself the meaning of his words: they run as follows,--"Who, by being called `Angel,' clearly showed by Whom He published His words, and Who is the Existent, while by being addressed also as God, He showed His superiority over all things. For He Who is the God of all things that were made by Him, is the Angel of the God over all." Indignation rushes into my heart and interrupts my discourse, and under this emotion arguments are lost in a turmoil of anger roused by words like these. And perhaps I may be pardoned for feeling such emotion. For whose resentment would not be stirred within him at such profanity, when he remembers how the Apostle proclaims that every angelic nature is subject to the Lord, and in witness of his doctrine invokes the sublime utterances of the prophets:--"When He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him," and, "Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever," and, "Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail [991] "? When the Apostle has gone through all this argument to demonstrate the unapproachable majesty of the Only-begotten God, what must I feel when I hear from the adversary of Christ that the Lord of Angels is Himself only an Angel,--and when he does not let such a statement fall by chance, but puts forth his strength to maintain this monstrous invention, so that it may be established that his Lord has no superiority over John and Moses? For the word says concerning them, "This is he of whom it is written, `Behold I send my angel before thy face [992] .'" John therefore is an angel. But the enemy of the Lord, even though he grants his Lord the name of God, yet makes Him out to be on a level with the deity of Moses, since he too was a servant of the God over all, and was constituted a god to the Egyptians [993] . And yet this phrase, "over all," as has been previously observed, is common to the Son with the Father, the Apostle having expressly ascribed such a title to Him, when he says, "Of whom, as concerning the flesh, Christ came, Who is God over all [994] ." But this man degrades the Lord of angels to the rank of an angel, as though he had not heard that the angels are "ministering spirits," and "a flame of fire [995] ." For by the use of these distinctive terms does the Apostle make the difference between the several subjects clear and unmistakable, defining the subordinate nature to be "spirits" and "fire," and distinguishing the supreme power by the name of Godhead. And yet, though there are so many that proclaim the glory of the Only-begotten God, against them all Eunomius lifts up his single voice, calling the Christ "an angel of the God over all," defining Him, by thus contrasting Him with the "God over all," to be one of the "all things," and, by giving Him the same name as the angels, trying to establish that He no wise differs from them in nature: for he has often previously said that all those things which share the same name cannot be different in nature. Does the argument, then, still lack its censors, as it concerns a man who proclaims in so many words that the "Angel" does not publish His own word, but that of the Existent? For it is by this means that he tries to show that the Word Who was in the beginning, the Word Who was God, is not Himself the Word, but is the Word of some other Word, being its minister and "angel." And who knows not that the only opposite to the "Existent" is the nonexistent? so that he who contrasts the Son with the Existent, is clearly playing the Jew, robbing the Christian doctrine of the Person of the Only-begotten. For in saying that He is excluded from the title of the "Existent," he is assuredly trying to establish also that He is outside the pale of existence: for surely if he grants Him existence, he will not quarrel about the sound of the word.

But he strives to prop up his absurdity by the testimony of Scripture, and puts forth Moses as his advocate against the truth. For as though that were the source from which he drew his arguments, he freely sets forth to us his own fables, saying, "He Who sent Moses was the Existent Himself, but He by Whom He sent and spake was the Angel of the Existent, and the God of all else." That his statement, however, is not drawn from Scripture, may be conclusively proved by Scripture itself. But if he says that this is the sense of what is written, we must examine the original language of Scripture. Moreover let us first notice that Eunomius, after calling the Lord God of all things after Him, allows Him no superiority in comparison with the angelic nature. For neither did Moses, when he heard that he was made a god to Pharaoh [996] , pass beyond the bounds of humanity, but while in nature he was on an equality with his fellows, he was raised above them by superiority of authority, and his being called a god did not hinder him from being man. So too in this case Eunomius, while making out the Son to be one of the angels, salves over such an error by the appellation of Godhead, in the manner expressed, allowing Him the title of God in some equivocal sense. Let us once more set down and examine the very words in which he delivers his blasphemy. "He Who sent Moses was the Existent Himself, but He by Whom He sent was the Angel of the Existent"--this, namely "Angel," being the title he gives his Lord. Well, the absurdity of our author is refuted by the Scripture itself, in the passage where Moses beseeches the Lord not to entrust an angel with the leadership of the people, but Himself to conduct their march. The passage runs thus: God is speaking, "Go, get thee down, guide this people unto the place of which I have spoken unto thee: behold Mine Angel shall go before thee in the day when I visit [997] ." And a little while after He says again, "And I will send Mine Angel before thee [998] ." Then, a little after what immediately follows, comes the supplication to God on the part of His servant, running on this wise, "If I have found grace in Thy sight, let my Lord go among us [999] ," and again, "If Thou Thyself go not with us, carry me not up hence [1000] "; and then the answer of God to Moses, "I will do for thee this thing also that thou hast spoken: for thou hast found grace in My sight, and I know thee above all men [1001] ." Accordingly, if Moses begs that the people may not be led by an angel, and if He Who was discoursing with him consents to become his fellow-traveller and the guide of the army, it is hereby manifestly shown that He Who made Himself known by the title of "the Existent" is the Only-begotten God.

If any one gainsays this, he will show himself to be a supporter of the Jewish persuasion in not associating the Son with the deliverance of the people. For if, on the one hand, it was not an angel that went forth with the people, and if, on the other, as Eunomius would have it, He Who was manifested by the name of the Existent is not the Only-begotten, this amounts to nothing less than transferring the doctrines of the synagogue to the Church of God. Accordingly, of the two alternatives they must needs admit one, namely, either that the Only-begotten God on no occasion appeared to Moses, or that the Son is Himself the "Existent," from Whom the word came to His servant. But he contradicts what has been said above, alleging the Scripture itself [1002] which informs us that the voice of an angel was interposed, and that it was thus that the discourse of the Existent was conveyed. This, however, is no contradiction, but a confirmation of our view. For we too say plainly, that the prophet, wishing to make manifest to men the mystery concerning Christ, called the Self-Existent "Angel," that the meaning of the words might not be referred to the Father, as it would have been if the title of "Existent" alone had been found throughout the discourse. But just as our word is the revealer and messenger (or "angel") of the movements of the mind, even so we affirm that the true Word that was in the beginning, when He announces the will of His own Father, is styled "Angel" (or "Messenger"), a title given to Him on account of the operation of conveying the message. And as the sublime John, having previously called Him "Word," so introduces the further truth that the Word was God, that our thoughts might not at once turn to the Father, as they would have done if the title of God had been put first, so too does the mighty Moses, after first calling Him "Angel," teach us in the words that follow that He is none other than the Self-Existent Himself, that the mystery concerning the Christ might be foreshown, by the Scripture assuring us by the name "Angel," that the Word is the interpreter of the Father's will, and, by the title of the "Self-Existent," of the closeness of relation subsisting between the Son and the Father. And if he should bring forward Isaiah also as calling Him "the Angel of mighty counsel [1003] ," not even so will he overthrow our argument. For there, in clear and uncontrovertible terms, there is indicated by the prophecy the dispensation of His Humanity; for "unto us," he says, "a Child is born, unto us a Son is given, and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name is called the Angel of mighty counsel." And it is with an eye to this, I suppose, that David describes the establishment of His kingdom, not as though He were not a King, but in the view that the humiliation to the estate of a servant to which the Lord submitted by way of dispensation, was taken up and absorbed into the majesty of His Kingdom. For he says, "I was established King by Him on His holy hill of Sion, declaring the ordinance of the Lord." [1004] Accordingly, He Who through Himself reveals the goodness of the Father is called "Angel" and "Word," "Seal" and "Image," and all similar titles with the same intention. For as the "Angel" (or "Messenger") gives information from some one, even so the Word reveals the thought within, the Seal shows by Its own stamp the original mould, and the Image by Itself interprets the beauty of that whereof It is the image, so that in their signification all these terms are equivalent to one another. For this reason the title "Angel" is placed before that of the "Self-Existent," the Son being termed "Angel" as the exponent of His Father's will, and the "Existent" as having no name that could possibly give a knowledge of His essence, but transcending all the power of names to express. Wherefore also His name is testified by the writing of the Apostle to be "above every name [1005] ," not as though it were some one name preferred above all others, though still comparable with them, but rather in the sense that He Who verily is is above every name.


Footnotes

[990] Oehler's punctuation is here apparently erroneous. The position of sumperastiko is peculiar and the general construction of the passage a little obscure: but if the text is to be regarded as sound, the meaning must be something like that here given. [991] Cf. Heb. i. 6-12. The passages there cited are Ps. xcvii. 7; Ps. xlv. 6; Ps. cii. 25, sqq. [992] S. Matt. xi. 10, quoting Mal. iii. 1. The word translated "messenger" in A.V. is angelos, which the argument here seems to require should be rendered by "angel." [993] Cf. Exod. vii. 1 [994] Rom. ix. 5. [995] Cf. Heb. i. 14 and 7. [996] Cf. Exod. vii. 1 [997] Cf. Exod. xxxii. 34 (LXX.). [998] Cf. Exod. xxxiii. 2; the quotation is not verbally from LXX. [999] Cf. Exod. xxxiv. 9 (LXX.). [1000] Exod. xxxiii. 15 (LXX.). [1001] Cf. Exod. xxxiii. 17 (LXX.). [1002] Cf. Exod. iii. 2 [1003] Is. ix. 6 (LXX.). [1004] Ps. ii. 6 (LXX.). [1005] Phil. ii. 9.


4. After this, fearing to extend his reply to great length, he passes by most of his adversary's statements as already refuted. But the remainder, for the sake of those who deem them of much force, he briefly summarizes, and refutes the blasphemy of Eunomius, who says of the Lord also that He is what animals and plants in all creation are, non-existent before their own generation; and so with the production of frogs; alas for the blasphemy!

But I must hasten on, for I see that my treatise has already extended beyond bounds, and I fear that I may be thought garrulous and inordinate in my talk, if I prolong my answer to excess, although I have intentionally passed by many parts of my adversary's treatise, that my argument might not be spun out to many myriads of words. For to the more studious even the want of conciseness gives an occasion for disparagement; but as for those whose mind looks not to what is of use, but to the fancy of those who are idle and not in earnest, their wish and prayer is to get over as much of the journey as they can in a few steps. What then ought we to do when Eunomius' profanity draws us on? Are we to track his every turn? or is it perhaps superfluous and merely garrulous to spend our energies over and over again on similar encounters? For all their argument that follows is in accordance with what we have already investigated, and presents no fresh point in addition to what has gone before. If then we have succeeded in completely overthrowing his previous statements, the remainder fall along with them. But in case the contentious and obstinate should think that the strongest part of their case is in what I have omitted, for this reason it may perhaps be necessary to touch briefly upon what remains.

He says that the Lord did not exist before His own generation--he who cannot prove that He was in anything separated from the Father. And this he says, not quoting any Scripture as a warrant for his assertion, but maintaining his proposition by arguments of his own. But this characteristic has been shown to be common to all parts of the creation. Not a frog, not a worm, not a beetle, not a blade of grass, nor any other of the most insignificant objects, existed before its own formation: so that what by aid of his dialectic skill he tries with great labour and pains to establish to be the case with the Son, has previously been acknowledged to be true of any chance portions of the creation, and our author's mighty labour is to show that the Only-begotten God, by participation of attributes, is on a level with the lowest of created things. Accordingly the fact of the coincidence of their opinions concerning the Only-begotten God, and their view of the mode in which frogs come into being, is a sufficient indication of their doctrinal pravity. Next he urges that not to be before His generation, is equivalent in fact and meaning to not being ungenerate. Once more the same argument will fit my hand in dealing with this too,--that a man would not be wrong in saying the same thing of a dog, or a flea, or a snake, or any one you please of the meanest creatures, since for a dog not to exist before his generation is equivalent in fact and meaning to his not being ungenerate. But if, in accord with the definition they have so often laid down, all things that share in attributes share also in nature, and if it is an attribute of the dog, and of the rest severally, not to exist before generation, which is what Eunomius thinks fit to maintain also of the Son, the reader will by logical process see for himself the conclusion of this demonstration.


5. [1006] Eunomius again speaks of the Son as Lord and God, and Maker of all creation intelligible and sensible, having received from the Father the power and the commission for creation, being entrusted with the task of creation as if He were an artizan commissioned by some one hiring Him, and receiving His power of creation as a thing adventitious, ab extra, as a result of the power allotted to Him in accordance with such and such combinations and positions of the stars, as destiny decrees their lot in life to men at their nativity. Thus, passing by most of what Eunomius had written, he confutes his blasphemy that the Maker of all things came into being in like manner with the earth and with angels, and that the subsistence of the Only-begotten differs not at all from the genesis of all things, and reproaches Him with reverencing neither the Divine mystery nor the custom of the Church, nor following in his attempt to discover godliness any teacher of pious doctrine, but Manichæus, Colluthus, Arius, Aetius, and those like to them, supposing that Christianity in general is folly, and that the customs of the Church and the venerable sacraments are a jest, wherein he differs in nothing from the pagans, who borrowed from our doctrine the idea of a great God supreme over all. So, too, this new idolater preaches in the same fashion, and in particular that baptism is "into an artificer and creator," not fearing the curse of those who cause addition or diminution to the Holy Scriptures. And he closes his book with showing him to be Antichrist.

Afterwards, however, he gives his discourse a more moderate turn, imparting to it even a touch of gentleness, and, though he had but a little earlier partitioned off the Son from the title of Existent, he now says,--"We affirm that the Son is not only existent, and above all existent things, but we also call Him Lord and God, the Maker of every being [1007] , sensible and intelligible." What does he suppose this "being" to be? created? or uncreated? For if he confesses Jesus to be Lord, God, and Maker of all intelligible being, it necessarily follows, if he says it is uncreated, that he speaks falsely, ascribing to the Son the making of the uncreated Nature. But if he believes it to be created, he makes Him His own Maker. For if the act of creation be not separated from intelligible nature in favour of Him Who is independent and uncreated, there will no longer remain any mark of distinction, as the sensible creation and the intelligible being will be thought of under one head [1008] . But here he brings in the assertion that "in the creation of existent things He has been entrusted by the Father with the construction of all things visible and invisible, and with the providential care over all that comes into being, inasmuch as the power allotted to Him from above is sufficient for the production of those things which have been constructed [1009] ." The vast length to which our treatise has run compels us to pass over these assertions briefly: but, in a sense, profanity surrounds the argument, containing a vast swarm of notions like venomous wasps. "He was entrusted," he says, "with the construction of things by the Father." But if he had been talking about some artizan executing his work at the pleasure of his employer, would he not have used the same language? For we are not wrong in saying just the same of Bezaleel, that being entrusted by Moses with the building of the tabernacle, he became the constructor of those things there [1010] mentioned, and would not have taken the work in hand had he not previously acquired his knowledge by Divine inspiration, and ventured upon the undertaking on Moses' entrusting him with its execution. Accordingly the term "entrusted" suggests that His office and power in creation came to Him as something adventitious, in the sense that before He was entrusted with that commission He had neither the will nor the power to act, but when He received authority to execute the works, and power sufficient for the works, then He became the artificer of things that are, the power allotted to Him from on high being, as Eunomius says, sufficient for the purpose. Does he then place even the generation of the Son, by some astrological juggling [1011] , under some destiny, just as they who practise this vain deceit affirm that the appointment of their lot in life comes to men at the time of their birth, by such and such conjunctions or oppositions of the stars, as the rotation above moves on in a kind of ordered train, assigning to those who are coming into being their special faculties? It may be that something of this kind is in the mind of our sage, and he says that to Him that is above all rule, and authority, and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come, there has been allotted, as though He were pent in some hollow spaces, power from on high, measured out in accordance with the quantity of things which come into being. I will pass over this part of his treatise also summarily, letting fall from a slight commencement of investigation, for the more intelligent sort of readers, seeds to enable them to discern his profanity. Moreover, in what follows, there is ready written a kind of apology for ourselves. For we cannot any longer be thought to be missing the intention of his discourse, and misinterpreting his words to render them subject to criticism, when his own voice acknowledges the absurdity of his doctrine. His words stand as follows:--"What? did not earth and angel come into being, when before they were not?" See how our lofty theologian is not ashamed to apply the same description to earth and angels and to the Maker of all! Surely if he thinks it fit to predicate the same of earth and its Lord, he must either make a god of the one, or degrade the other to a level with it.

Then he adds to this something by which his profanity is yet more completely stripped of all disguise, so that its absurdity is obvious even to a child. For he says,--"It would be a long task to detail all the modes of generation of intelligible objects, or the essences which do not all possess the nature of the Existent in common, but display variations according to the operations of Him Who constructed them." Without any words of ours, the blasphemy against the Son which is here contained is glaring and conspicuous, when he acknowledges that that which is predicated of every mode of generation and essence in nowise differs from the description of the Divine subsistence [1012] of the Only-begotten. But it seems to me best to pass over the intermediate passages in which he seeks to maintain his profanity, and to hasten to the head and front of the accusation which we have to bring against his doctrines. For he will be found to exhibit the sacrament of regeneration as an idle thing, the mystic oblation as profitless, and the participation in them as of no advantage to those who are partakers therein. For after those high-wrought æons [1013] in which, by way of disparagement of our doctrine, he names as its supporters a Valentinus, a Cerinthus, a Basilides, a Montanus, and a Marcion, and after laying it down that those who affirm that the Divine nature is unknowable, and the mode of His generation unknowable, have no right or title whatever to the name of Christians, and after reckoning us among those whom he thus disparages, he proceeds to develop his own view in these terms:--"But we, in agreement with holy and blessed men; affirm that the mystery of godliness does not consist in venerable names, nor in the distinctive character of customs and sacramental tokens, but in exactness of doctrine." That when he wrote this, he did so not under the guidance of evangelists, apostles, or any of the authors of the Old Testament, is plain to every one who has any acquaintance with the sacred and Divine Scripture. We should naturally be led to suppose that by "holy and blessed men" he meant Manichæus, Nicolaus, Colluthus, Aetius, Arius, and the rest of the same band, with whom he is in strict accord in laying down this principle, that neither the confession of sacred names, nor the customs of the Church, nor her sacramental tokens, are a ratification of godliness. But we, having learnt from the holy voice of Christ that "except a man be born again of water and of the Spirit he shall not enter into the kingdom of God [1014] " and that "He that eateth My flesh and drinketh My blood, shall live for ever [1015] ," are persuaded that the mystery of godliness is ratified by the confession of the Divine Names--the Names of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, and that our salvation is confirmed by participation in the sacramental customs and tokens. But doctrines have often been carefully investigated by those who have had no part or lot in that mystery, and one may hear many such putting forward the faith we hold as a subject for themselves in the rivalry of debate, and some of them often even succeeding in hitting the truth, and for all that none the less estranged from the faith. Since, then, he despises the revered Names, by which the power of the more Divine birth distributes grace to them who come for it in faith, and slights the fellowship of the sacramental customs and tokens from which the Christian profession draws its vigour, let us, with a slight variation, utter to those who listen to his deceit the word of the prophet:--"How long will ye be slow of heart? Why do ye love destruction and seek after leasing [1016] ?" How is it that ye do not see the persecutor of the faith inviting those who consent unto him to violate their Christian profession? For if the confession of the revered and precious Names of the Holy Trinity is useless, and the customs of the Church unprofitable, and if among these customs is the sign of the cross [1017] , prayer, baptism, confession of sins, a ready zeal to keep the commandment, right ordering of character, sobriety of life, regard to justice, the effort not to be excited by passion, or enslaved by pleasure, or to fall short in moral excellence,--if he says that none of such habits as these is cultivated to any good purpose, and that the sacramental tokens do not, as we have believed, secure spiritual blessings, and avert from believers the assaults directed against them by the wiles of the evil one, what else does he do but openly proclaim aloud to men that he deems the mystery which Christians cherish a fable, laughs at the majesty of the Divine Names, considers the customs of the Church a jest, and all sacramental operations idle prattle and folly? What beyond this do they who remain attached to paganism bring forward in disparagement of our creed? Do not they too make the majesty of the sacred Names, in which the faith is ratified, an occasion of laughter? Do not they deride the sacramental tokens and the customs which are observed by the initiated? And of whom is it so much a distinguishing peculiarity as of the pagans, to think that piety should consist in doctrines only? since they also say that according to their view, there is something more persuasive than the Gospel which we preach, and some of them hold that there is some one great God preeminent above the rest, and acknowledge some subject powers, differing among themselves in the way of superiority or inferiority, in some regular order and sequence, but all alike subject to the Supreme. This, then, is what the teachers of the new idolatry preach, and they who follow them have no dread of the condemnation that abideth on transgressors, as though they did not understand that actually to do some improper thing is far more grievous than to err in word alone. They, then, who in act deny the faith, and slight the confession of the sacred Names, and judge the sanctification effected by the sacramental tokens to be worthless, and have been persuaded to have regard to cunningly devised fables, and to fancy that their salvation consists in quibbles about the generate and the ungenerate,--what else are they than transgressors of the doctrines of salvation?

But if any one thinks that these charges are brought against them by us ungenerously and unfairly, let him consider independently our author's writings, both what we have previously alleged, and what is inferred in logical connection with our citations. For in direct contravention of the law of the Lord--(for the deliverance to us of the means of initiation constitutes a law),--he says that baptism is not into the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as Christ commanded His disciples when He delivered to them the mystery, but into an artificer and creator, and "not only Father," he says, "of the Only-begotten, but also His God [1018] ." Woe unto him who gives his neighbour to drink turbid mischief [1019] ! How does he trouble and befoul the truth by flinging his mud into it! How is it that he feels no fear of the curse that rests upon those who add aught to the Divine utterance, or dare to take aught away? Let us read the declaration of the Lord in His very words--"Go," He says, "teach all nations, baptizing them in the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost." Where did He call the Son a creature? Where did the Word teach that the Father is creator and artificer of the Only-begotten? Where in the words cited is it taught that the Son is a servant of God? Where in the delivery of the mystery is the God of the Son proclaimed? Do ye not perceive and understand, ye who are dragged by guile to perdition, what sort of guide ye have put in charge of your souls,--one who interpolates the Holy Scriptures, who garbles the Divine utterances, who with his own mud befouls the purity of the doctrines of godliness, who not only arms his own tongue against us, but also attempts to tamper with the sacred voices of truth, who is eager to invest his own perversion with more authority than the teaching of the Lord? Do ye not perceive that he stirs himself up against the Name at which all must bow, so that in time the Name of the Lord shall be heard no more, and instead of Christ Eunomius shall be brought into the Churches? Do ye not yet consider that this preaching of godlessness has been set on foot by the devil as a rehearsal, preparation, and prelude of the coming of Antichrist? For he who is ambitious of showing that his own words are more authoritative than those of Christ, and of transforming the faith from the Divine Names and the sacramental customs and tokens to his own deceit,--what else, I say, could he properly be called, but only Antichrist?


Footnotes

[1006] The grammar of this section of the analysis is in parts very much confused; the general drift of its intention, rather than its literal meaning, is given in the translation. Grammatically speaking it appears to attribute to S. Gregory some of the opinions of Eunomius. The construction, however, is so ungrammatical that the confusion is probably in the composer's expression rather than in his interpretation of what he is summarizing. [1007] ousias [1008] The passage is a little obscure: if the force of the dative to kath' heauton aktisto be that assigned to it, the meaning will be that, if no exception is made in the statement that the Son is the Maker of every intelligible being, the Deity will be included among the works of the Son, Who will thus be the Maker of Himself, as of the sensible creation. [1009] It is not quite clear how much of this is citation, and how much paraphrase of Eunomius' words. [1010] The reference is to Exod. xxxv. 30. [1011] Reading terateian for the otherwise unknown word perateian, which Oehler retains. If perateian is the true reading, it should probably be rendered by "fatalism," or "determination." Gulonius renders it by "determinationem." It may be connected with the name "Peratae," given to one of the Ophite sects, who held fatalist views. [1012] hupostaseos [1013] The word seems to be used, as "octads" in Book IX. seems to be used, of sections of Eunomius' production. [1014] Cf. S. John iii. 3 and 6. [1015] Cf. S. John vi. 51 and 54. [1016] Cf. Ps. iv. 2 (LXX.). The alteration made is the substitution of apoleian for mataioteta [1017] ;;E sphragis. The term is used elsewhere by Gregory in this sense, in the Life of S. Gregory Thaumaturgus, and in the Life of S. Macrina. [1018] These last words are apparently a verbal quotation, those preceding more probably a paraphrase of Eunomius statement. [1019] Cf. Hab. ii. 15 (LXX.). It is possible that the reading tholeran for doleran, which appears both in Oehler's text and in the Paris edition, was a various reading of the passage in the LXX., and that S. Gregory intended to quote exactly.

.


Book XII.


1. This twelfth book gives a notable interpretation of the words of the Lord to Mary, "Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father."

But let us see what is the next addition that follows upon this profanity, an addition which is in fact the key of their defence of their doctrine. For those who would degrade the majesty of the glory of the Only-begotten to slavish and grovelling conceptions think that they find the strongest proof of their assertions in the words of the Lord to Mary, which He uttered after His resurrection, and before His ascension into heaven, saying, "Touch Me not, for I am not yet ascended to My Father: but go to My brethren and say unto them, I ascend unto My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God [1020] ." The orthodox interpretation of these words, the sense in which we have been accustomed to believe that they were spoken to Mary, is I think manifest to all who have received the faith in truth. Still the discussion of this point shall be given by us in its proper place; but meantime it is worth while to inquire from those who allege against us such phrases as "ascending," "being seen," "being recognized by touch," and moreover "being associated with men by brotherhood," whether they consider them to be proper to the Divine or to the Human Nature. For if they see in the Godhead the capacity of being seen and touched, of being supported by meat and drink, kinship and brotherhood with men, and all the attributes of corporeal nature, then let them predicate of the Only-begotten God both these and whatsoever else they will, as motive energy and local change, which are peculiar to things circumscribed by a body. But if He by Mary is discoursing with His brethren, and if the Only-begotten has no brethren, (for how, if He had brethren, could the property of being Only-begotten be preserved?) and if the same Person Who said, "God is a Spirit [1021] ," says to His disciples, "Handle Me [1022] ," that He may show that while the Human Nature is capable of being handled the Divinity is intangible, and if He Who says, "I go," indicates local change, while He who contains all things, "in Whom," as the Apostle says, "all things were created, and in Whom all things consist [1023] ," has nothing in existent things external to Himself to which removal could take place by any kind of motion, (for motion cannot otherwise be effected than by that which is removed leaving the place in which it is, and occupying another place instead, while that which extends through all, and is in all, and controls all, and is confined by no existent thing, has no place to which to pass, inasmuch as nothing is void of the Divine fulness,) how can these men abandon the belief that such expressions arise from that which is apparent, and apply them to that Nature which is Divine and which surpasseth all understanding, when the Apostle has in his speech to the Athenians plainly forbidden us to imagine any such thing of God, inasmuch as the Divine power is not discoverable by touch [1024] , but by intelligent contemplation and faith? Or, again, whom does He Who did eat before the eyes of His disciples, and promised to go before them into Galilee and there be seen of them,--whom does He reveal Him to be Who should so appear to them? God, Whom no man hath seen or can see [1025] ? or the bodily image, that is, the form of a servant in which God was? If then what has been said plainly proves that the meaning of the phrases alleged refers to that which is visible, expressing shape, and capable of motion, akin to the nature of His disciples, and none of these properties is discernible in Him Who is invisible, incorporeal, intangible, and formless, how do they come to degrade the very Only-begotten God, Who was in the beginning, and is in the Father, to a level with Peter, Andrew, John, and the rest of the Apostles, by calling them the brethren and fellow-servants of the Only-begotten? And yet all their exertions are directed to this aim, to show that in majesty of nature there is as great a distance between the Father and the dignity, power, and essence of the Only-begotten, as there is between the Only-begotten and humanity. And they press this saying into the support of this meaning, treating the name of the God and Father as being of common significance in respect of the Lord and of His disciples, in the view that no difference in dignity of nature is conceived while He is recognized as God and Father both of Him and of them in a precisely similar manner.

And the mode in which they logically maintain their profanity is as follows;--that either by the relative term employed there is expressed community of essence also between the disciples and the Father, or else we must not by this phrase bring even the Lord into communion in the Father's Nature, and that, even as the fact [1026] that the God over all is named as their God implies that the disciples are His servants so by parity of reasoning, it is acknowledged, by the words in question, that the Son also is the servant of God. Now that the words addressed to Mary are not applicable to the Godhead of the Only-begotten, one may learn from the intention with which they were uttered. For He Who humbled Himself to a level with human littleness, He it is Who spake the words. And what is the meaning of what He then uttered, they may know in all its fulness who by the Spirit search out the depths of the sacred mystery. But as much as comes within our compass we will set down in few words, following the guidance of the Fathers. He Who is by nature Father of existent things, from Whom all things have their birth, has been proclaimed as one, by the sublime utterance of the Apostle. "For there is one God," he says, "and Father, of Whom are all things [1027] ." Accordingly human nature did not enter into the creation from any other source, nor grow spontaneously in the parents of the race, but it too had for the author of its own constitution none other than the Father of all. And the name of Godhead itself, whether it indicates the authority of oversight or of foresight [1028] , imports a certain relation to humanity. For He Who bestowed on all things that are, the power of being, is the God and overseer of what He has Himself produced. But since, by the wiles of him that sowed in us the tares of disobedience, our nature no longer preserved in itself the impress of the Father's image, but was transformed into the foul likeness of sin, for this cause it was engrafted by virtue of similarity of will into the evil family of the father of sin: so that the good and true God and Father was no longer the God and Father of him who had been thus outlawed by his own depravity, but instead of Him Who was by Nature God, those were honoured who, as the Apostle says, "by nature were no Gods [1029] ," and in the place of the Father, he was deemed father who is falsely so called, as the prophet Jeremiah says in his dark saying, "The partridge called, she gathered together what she hatched not [1030] ." Since, then, this was the sum of our calamity, that humanity was exiled from the good Father, and was banished from the Divine oversight and care, for this cause He Who is the Shepherd of the whole rational creation, left in the heights of heaven His unsinning and supramundane flock, and, moved by love, went after the sheep which had gone astray, even our human nature [1031] . For human nature, which alone, according to the similitude in the parable, through vice roamed away from the hundred of rational beings, is, if it be compared with the whole, but an insignificant and infinitesimal part. Since then it was impossible that our life, which had been estranged from God, should of itself return to the high and heavenly place, for this cause, as saith the Apostle, He Who knew no sin is made sin for us [1032] , and frees us from the curse by taking on Him our curse as His own [1033] , and having taken up, and, in the language of the Apostle, "slain" in Himself "the enmity [1034] " which by means of sin had come between us and God,--(in fact sin was "the enmity")--and having become what we were, He through Himself again united humanity to God. For having by purity brought into closest relationship with the Father of our nature that new man which is created after God [1035] , in Whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily [1036] , He drew with Him into the same grace all the nature that partakes of His body and is akin to Him. And these glad tidings He proclaims through the woman, not to those disciples only, but also to all who up to the present day become disciples of the Word,--the tidings, namely, that man is no longer outlawed, nor cast out of the kingdom of God, but is once more a son, once more in the station assigned to him by his God, inasmuch as along with the first-fruits of humanity the lump also is hallowed [1037] . "For behold," He says, "I and the children whom God hath given Me [1038] ." He Who for our sakes was partaker of flesh and blood has recovered you, and brought you back to the place whence ye strayed away, becoming mere flesh and blood by sin [1039] . And so He from Whom we were formerly alienated by our revolt has become our Father and our God. Accordingly in the passage cited above the Lord brings the glad tidings of this benefit. And the words are not a proof of the degradation of the Son, but the glad tidings of our reconciliation to God. For that which has taken place in Christ's Humanity is a common boon bestowed on mankind generally. For as when we see in Him the weight of the body, which naturally gravitates to earth, ascending through the air into the heavens, we believe according to the words of the Apostle, that we also "shall be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air [1040] ," even so, when we hear that the true God and Father has become the God and Father of our First-fruits, we no longer doubt that the same God has become our God and Father too, inasmuch as we have learnt that we shall come to the same place whither Christ has entered for us as our forerunner [1041] . And the fact too that this grace was revealed by means of a woman, itself agrees with the interpretation which we have given. For since, as the Apostle tells us, "the woman, being deceived, was in the transgression [1042] ," and was by her disobedience foremost in the revolt from God, for this cause she is the first witness of the resurrection, that she might retrieve by her faith in the resurrection the overthrow caused by her disobedience, and that as, by making herself at the beginning a minister and advocate to her husband of the counsels of the serpent, she brought into human life the beginning of evil, and its train of consequences, so, by ministering [1043] to His disciples the words of Him Who slew the rebel dragon, she might become to men the guide to faith, whereby with good reason the first proclamation of death is annulled. It is likely, indeed, that by more diligent students a more profitable explanation of the text may be discovered. But even though none such should be found, I think that every devout reader will agree that the one advanced by our opponents is futile, after comparing it with that which we have brought forward. For the one has been fabricated to destroy the glory of the Only-begotten, and nothing more: but the other includes in its scope the aim of the dispensation concerning man. For it has been shown that it was not the intangible, immutable, and invisible God, but the moving, visible, and tangible nature which is proper to humanity, that gave command to Mary to minister the word to His disciples.


Footnotes

[1020] S. John xx. 17 [1021] S. John iv. 24 [1022] S. Luke xxiv. 39. [1023] Col. i. 16, 17. [1024] Cf. Acts xvii. The precise reference is perhaps to verse 27. [1025] The reference is perhaps to 1 Tim. vi. 16; but the quotation is not verbal. See also S. John i. 18. [1026] The grammar of the passage is simplified if we read to theon auton onomasthenai, but the sense, retaining Oehler's reading ton theon, is probably the same. [1027] Cf. 1 Cor. viii. 6. [1028] There seems here to be an allusion to the supposed derivation of theos from theaomai, which is also the basis of an argument in the treatise "On `Not three Gods,'" addressed to Ablabius. [1029] Gal. iv. 8. [1030] Jer. xvii. 11 (LXX.). [1031] Cf. Book IV. 3 (p. 158 sup.). With the general statement may be compared the parallel passage in Book II. 8. [1032] Cf. 2 Cor. v. 21 [1033] Cf. Gal. iii. 13 [1034] Cf. Eph. ii. 16 [1035] Cf. Eph. iv. 24 [1036] Cf. Col. ii. 9 [1037] Cf. Rom. xi. 16 [1038] Cf. Heb. ii. 13, quoting Is. viii. 18 [1039] Cf. Heb. ii. 14 [1040] 1 Thess. iv. 16. [1041] Cf. Heb. vi. 20 [1042] 1 Tim. ii. 14. [1043] Reading diakonesasa for the diakomisasa of the Paris ed. and diakomesasa of Oehler's text, the latter of which is obviously a misprint, but leaves us uncertain as to the reading which Oehler intended to adopt. The reading diakonesasa answers to the diakonos genomene above, and is to some extent confirmed by diakonesai occurring again a few lines further on. S. Gregory, when he has once used an unusual word or expression, very frequently repeats it in the next few sentences.


2. Then referring to the blasphemy of Eunomius, which had been refuted by the great Basil, where he banished the Only-begotten God to the realm of darkness, and the apology or explanation which Eunomius puts forth for his blasphemy, he shows that his present blasphemy is rendered by his apology worse than his previous one; and herein he very ably discourses of the "true" and the "unapproachable" Light.

Let us also investigate this point as well,--what defence he has to offer on those matters on which he was convicted of error by the great Basil, when he banishes the Only-begotten God to the realm of darkness, saying, "As great as is the difference between the generate and the ungenerate, so great is the divergence between Light and Light." For as he has already shown that the difference between the generate and the ungenerate is not merely one of greater or less intensity, but that they are diametrically opposed as regards their meaning; and since he has inferred by logical consequence from his premises that, as the difference between the light of the Father and that of the Son corresponds to ungeneracy and generation, we must necessarily suppose in the Son not a diminution of light, but a complete alienation from light. For as we cannot say that generation is a modified ungeneracy, but the signification of the terms gennesis and agennesia are absolutely contradictory and mutually exclusive, so, if the same distinction is to be preserved between the Light of the Father and that conceived as existing in the Son, it will be logically concluded that the Son is not henceforth to be conceived as Light, as he is excluded alike from ungeneracy itself, and from the light which accompanies that condition,--and He Who is something different from light will evidently, by consequence, have affinity with its contrary,--since this absurdity, I say, results from his principles, Eunomius endeavours to explain it away by dialectic artifices, delivering himself as follows: "For we know, we know the true Light, we know Him who created the light after the heavens and the earth, we have heard the Life and Truth Himself, even Christ, saying to His disciples, `Ye are the light of the world [1044] ,' we have learned from the blessed Paul, when he gives the title of `Light unapproachable [1045] ' to the God over all, and by the addition defines and teaches us the transcendent superiority of His Light; and now that we have learnt that there is so great a difference between the one Light and the other, we shall not patiently endure so much as the mere mention of the notion that the conception of light in either case is one and the same." Can he be serious when he advances such arguments in his attempts against the truth, or is he experimenting upon the dulness of those who follow his error to see whether they can detect so childish and transparent a fallacy, or have no sense to discern such a barefaced imposition? For I suppose that no one is so senseless as not to perceive the juggling with equivocal terms by which Eunomius deludes both himself and his admirers. The disciples, he says, were termed light, and that which was produced in the course of creation is also called light. But who does not know that in these only the name is common, and the thing meant in each case is quite different? For the light of the sun gives discernment to the sight, but the word of the disciples implants in men's souls the illumination of the truth. If, then, he is aware of this difference even in the case of that light, so that he thinks the light of the body is one thing, and the light of the soul another, we need no longer discuss the point with him, since his defence itself condemns him if we hold our peace. But if in that light he cannot discover such a difference as regards the mode of operation, (for it is not, he may say, the light of the eyes that illumines the flesh, and the spiritual light which illumines the soul, but the operation and the potency of the one light and of the other is the same, operating in the same sphere and on the same objects,) then how is it that from the difference between the light of the beams of the sun and that of the words of the Apostles, he infers a like difference between the Only-begotten Light and the Light of the Father? "But the Son," he says, "is called the `true' Light, the Father `Light unapproachable.'" Well, these additional distinctions import a difference in degree only, and not in kind, between the light of the Son and the light of the Father. He thinks that the "true" is one thing, and the "unapproachable" another. I suppose there is no one so idiotic as not to see the real identity of meaning in the two terms. For the "true" and the "unapproachable" are each of them removed in an equally absolute degree from their contraries. For as the "true" does not admit any intermixture of the false, even so the "unapproachable" does not admit the access of its contrary. For the "unapproachable" is surely unapproachable by evil. But the light of the Son is not evil; for how can any one see in evil that which is true? Since, then, the truth is not evil, no one can say that the light which is in the Father is unapproachable by the truth. For if it were to reject the truth it would of course be associated with falsehood. For the nature of contradictories is such that the absence of the better involves the presence of its opposite. If, then, any one were to say that the Light of the Father was contemplated as remote from the presentation of its opposite, he would interpret the term "unapproachable" in a manner agreeable to the intention of the Apostle. But if he were to say that "unapproachable" signified alienation from good, he would suppose nothing else than that God was alien from, and at enmity with, Himself, being at the same time good and opposed to good. But this is impossible: for the good is akin to good. Accordingly the one Light is not divergent from the other. For the Son is the true Light, and the Father is Light unapproachable. In fact I would make bold to say that the man who should interchange the two attributes would not be wrong. For the true is unapproachable by the false, and on the other side, the unapproachable is found to be in unsullied truth. Accordingly the unapproachable is identical with the true, because that which is signified by each expression is equally inaccessible to evil. What is the difference then, that is imagined to exist in these by him who imposes on himself and his followers by the equivocal use of the term "Light"? But let us not pass over this point either without notice, that it is only after garbling the Apostle's words to suit his own fancy that he cites the phrase as if it came from him. For Paul says, "dwelling in light unapproachable [1046] ." But there is a great difference between being oneself something and being in something. For he who said, "dwelling in light unapproachable," did not, by the word "dwelling," indicate God Himself, but that which surrounds Him, which in our view is equivalent to the Gospel phrase which tells us that the Father is in the Son. For the Son is true Light, and the truth is unapproachable by falsehood; so then the Son is Light unapproachable in which the Father dwells, or in Whom the Father is.


Footnotes

[1044] S. Matt. v. 14 [1045] Cf. 1 Tim. vi. 16. The quotation, as S. Gregory points out, is inexact. [1046] 1 Tim. vi. 16.


3. He further proceeds notably to interpret the language of the Gospel, "In the beginning was the Word," and "Life" and "Light," and "The Word was made flesh," which had been misinterpreted by Eunomius; and overthrows his blasphemy, and shows that the dispensation of the Lord took place by loving-kindness, not by lack of power, and with the co-operation of the Father.

But he puts his strength into his idle contention and says, "From the facts themselves, and from the oracles that are believed, I present the proof of my statement." Such is his promise, but whether the arguments he advances bear out his professions, the discerning reader will of course consider. "The blessed John," he says, "after saying that the Word was in the beginning, and after calling Him Life, and subsequently giving the Life the further title of `Light,' says, a little later, `And the Word was made flesh [1047] .' If then the Light is Life, and the Word is Life, and the Word was made flesh, it thence becomes plain that the Light was incarnate." What then? because the Light and the Life, and God and the Word, was manifested in flesh, does it follow that the true Light is divergent in any degree from the Light which is in the Father? Nay, it is attested by the Gospel that, even when it had place in darkness, the light remained unapproachable by the contrary element: for "the Light," he says, "shined in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not [1048] ." If then the light when it found place in darkness had been changed to its contrary, and overpowered by gloom, this would have been a strong argument in support of the view of those who wish to show how far inferior is this Light in comparison with that contemplated in the Father. But if the Word, even though it be in the flesh, remains the Word, and if the Light, even though it shines in darkness, is no less Light, without admitting the fellowship of its contrary, and if the Life, even though it be in death, remains secure in Itself, and if God, even though He submit to take upon Him the form of a servant, does not Himself become a servant, but takes away the slavish subordination and absorbs it into lordship and royalty, making that which was human and lowly to become both Lord and Christ,--if all this be so, how does he show by this argument variation of the Light to inferiority, when each Light has in equal measure the property of being inconvertible to evil, and unalterable? And how is it that he also fails to observe this, that he who looked on the incarnate Word, Who was both Light and Life and God, recognized, through the glory which he saw, the Father of glory, and says, "We beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father [1049] "?

But he has reached the irrefutable argument which we long ago detected lurking in the sequel of his statements [1050] , but which is here proclaimed aloud without disguise. For he wishes to show that the essence of the Son is subject to passion, and to decay, and in no wise differs from material nature, which is in a state of flux, that by this means he may demonstrate His difference from the Father. For he says, "If he can show that the God Who is over all, Who is the Light unapproachable, was incarnate or could be incarnate, came under authority, obeyed commands, came under the laws of men, bore the Cross, let him say that the Light is equal to the Light." If these words had been brought forward by us as following by necessary consequence from premises laid down by Eunomius, who would not have charged us with unfairness, in employing an over-subtle dialectic to reduce our adversaries' statement to such an absurdity? But as things stand, the fact that they themselves make no attempt to suppress the absurdity that naturally follows from their assumption, helps to support our contention that it was not without due reflection that, with the help of truth, we censured the argument of heresy. For behold, how undisguised and outspoken is their striving against the Only-begotten God! Nay, by His enemies His work of mercy is reckoned a means of disparaging and maligning the Nature of the Son of God, as though not of deliberate purpose, but by a compulsion of His Nature he had slipped down to life in the flesh, and to the suffering of the Cross! And as it is the nature of a stone to fall downward, and of fire to rise upward, and as these material objects do not exchange their natures one with another, so that the stone should have an upward tendency, and fire be depressed by its weight and sink downwards, even so they make out that passion was part of the very Nature of the Son, and that for this cause He came to that which was akin and familiar to Him, but that the Nature of the Father, being free from such passions, remained unapproachable by the contact of evil. For he says, that the God Who is over all, Who is Light unapproachable, neither was incarnate nor could be incarnate. The first of the two statements was quite enough, that the Father did not become incarnate. But now by his addition a double absurdity arises; for he either charges the Son with evil, or the Father with powerlessness. For if to partake of our flesh is evil, then he predicates evil of the Only-begotten God; but if the lovingkindness to man was good, then he makes out the Father to be powerless for good, by saying that it would not have been in His power to have effectually bestowed such grace by taking flesh. And yet who in the world does not know that life-giving power proceeds to actual operation both in the Father and in the Son? "For as the Father raiseth up the dead and quickeneth them," He says, "even so the Son quickeneth whom He will [1051] ,"--meaning obviously by "dead" us who had fallen from the true life. If then it is even so as the Father quickeneth, and not otherwise, that the Son brings to operation the same grace, how comes it that the adversary of God moves his profane tongue against both, insulting the Father by attributing to Him powerlessness for good, and the Son by attributing to Him association with evil. But "Light," he says, "is not equal to Light," because the one he calls "true," and the other "unapproachable." Is then the true considered to be a diminution of the unapproachable? Why so? and yet their argument is that the Godhead of the Father must be conceived to be greater and more exalted than that of the Son, because the one is called in the Gospel "true God [1052] ," the other "God [1053] " without the addition of "true." How then does the same term, as applied to the Godhead, indicate an enhancement of the conception, and, as applied to Light, a diminution? For if they say that the Father is greater than the Son because He is true God, by the same showing the Son would be acknowledged to be greater than the Father, because the former is called "true Light [1054] ," and the latter not so. "But this Light," says Eunomius, "carried into effect the plan of mercy, while the other remained inoperative with respect to that gracious action." A new and strange mode of determining priority in dignity! They judge that which is ineffective for a benevolent purpose to be superior to that which is operative. But such a notion as this neither exists nor ever will be found amongst Christians,--a notion by which it is made out that every good that is in existent things has not its origin from the Father. But of goods that pertain to us men, the crowning blessing is held by all right-minded men to be the return to life; and it is secured by the dispensation carried out by the Lord in His human nature; not that the Father remained aloof, as heresy will have it, ineffective and inoperative during the time of this dispensation. For it is not this that He indicates Who said, "He that sent Me is with Me [1055] ," and "The Father that dwelleth in Me, He doeth the works [1056] ." With what right then does heresy attribute to the Son alone the gracious intervention on our behalf, and thereby exclude the Father from having any part or lot in our gratitude for its successful issue? For naturally the requital of thanks is due to our benefactors alone, and He Who is incapable of benefiting us is outside the pale of our gratitude. See you how the course of their profane attack upon the Only-begotten Son has missed its mark, and is working round in natural consequence so as to be directed against the majesty of the Father? And this seems to me to be a necessary result of their method of proceeding. For if he that honoureth the Son honoureth the Father [1057] , according to the Divine declaration, it is plain on the other side that an assault upon the Son strikes at the Father. But I say that to those who with simplicity of heart receive the preaching of the Cross and the resurrection, the same grace should be a cause of equal thankfulness to the Son and to the Father, and now that the Son has accomplished the Father's will (and this, in the language of the Apostle, is "that all men should be saved [1058] "), they ought for this boon to honour the Father and the Son alike, inasmuch as our salvation would not have been wrought, had not the good will of the Father proceeded to actual operation for us through His own power. And we have learnt from the Scripture that the Son is the power of the Father [1059] .


Footnotes

[1047] Cf. S. John i. 4 and 14. [1048] S. John i. 5 (A.V., following the Vulgate). The word katelabe is perhaps better rendered by "overtook." "As applied to light this sense includes the further notion of overwhelming, eclipsing. The relation of darkness to light is one of essential antagonism. If the darkness is represented as pursuing the light, it can only be to overshadow and not to appropriate it." (Westcott on S. John ad loc.) [1049] S. John i. 14 [1050] The passage has already been cited by S. Gregory, Book V 3 (p. 176 sup.). [1051] S. John v. 21 [1052] S. John xvii. 3 [1053] S. John i. 1 [1054] S. John i. 9 [1055] Cf. S. John v. 37, and xvi. 32. [1056] S. John xiv. 10 [1057] Cf. S. John v. 23 [1058] 1 Tim. ii. 4. [1059] 1 Cor. i. 24.


4. He then again charges Eunomius with having learnt his term agennesiafrom the hieroglyphic writings, and from the Egyptian mythology and idolatry, and with bringing in Anubis, Osiris, and Isis to the creed of Christians, and shows that, considered as admitting His sufferings of necessity and not voluntarily, the Only-begotten is entitled to no gratitude from men: and that fire has none for its warmth, nor water for its fluidity, as they do not refer their results to self-determining power, but to necessity of nature [1060] .

Let us once more notice the passage cited. "If he can show," he says, "that the God Who is over all, Who is the Light unapproachable, was incarnate, or could be incarnate,....then let him say that the Light is equal to the Light." The purport of his words is plain from the very form of the sentence, namely, that he does not think that it was by His almighty Godhead that the Son proved strong for such a form of loving-kindness, but that it was by being of a nature subject to passion that He stooped to the suffering of the Cross. Well, as I pondered and inquired how Eunomius came to stumble into such notions about the Deity, as to think that on the one side the ungenerate Light was unapproachable by its contrary, and entirely unimpaired and free from every passion and affection, but that on the other the generate was intermediate in its nature, so as not to preserve the Divine unsullied and pure in impassibility, but to have an essence mixed and compounded of contraries, which at once stretched out to partake of good, and at the same time melted away into a condition subject to passion, since it was impossible to obtain from Scripture premises to support so absurd a theory, the thought struck me, whether it could be that he was an admirer of the speculations of the Egyptians on the subject of the Divine, and had mixed up their fancies with his views concerning the Only-begotten. For it is reported that they say that their fantastic mode of compounding their idols, when they adapt the forms of certain irrational animals to human limbs, is an enigmatic symbol of that mixed nature which they call "dæmon," and that this is more subtle than that of men, and far surpasses our nature in power, but has the Divine element in it not unmingled or uncompounded, but is combined with the nature of the soul and the perceptions of the body, and is receptive of pleasure and pain, neither of which finds place with the "ungenerate God." For they too use this name, ascribing to the supreme God, as they imagine Him, the attribute of ungeneracy. Thus our sage theologian seems to us to be importing into the Christian creed an Anubis, Isis, or Osiris from the Egyptian shrines, all but the acknowledgment of their names: but there is no difference in profanity between him who openly makes profession of the names of idols, and him who, while holding the belief about them in his heart, is yet chary of their names. If, then, it is impossible to get out of Holy Scripture any support for this impiety, while their theory draws all its strength from the riddles of the hieroglyphics, assuredly there can be no doubt what right-minded persons ought to think of this. But that this accusation which we bring is no insulting slander, Eunomius shall testify for us by his own words, saying as he does that the ungenerate Light is unapproachable, and has not the power of stooping to experience affections, but affirming that such a condition is germane and akin to the generate: so that man need feel no gratitude to the Only-begotten God for what He suffered, if, as they say, it was by the spontaneous action of His nature that He slipped down to the experience of affections, His essence, which was capable of being thus affected, being naturally dragged down thereto, which demands no thanks. For who would welcome as a boon that which takes place by necessity, even if it be gainful and profitable? For we neither thank fire for its warmth nor water for its fluidity, as we refer these qualities to the necessity of their several natures, because fire cannot be deserted by its power of warming, nor can water remain stationary upon an incline, inasmuch as the slope spontaneously draws its motion onwards. If, then, they say that the benefit wrought by the Son through His incarnation was by a necessity of His nature, they certainly render Him no thanks, inasmuch as they refer what He did, not to an authoritative power, but to a natural compulsion. But if, while they experience the benefit of the gift, they disparage the lovingkindness that brought it, I fear lest their impiety should work round to the opposite error, and lest they should deem the condition of the Son, that could be thus affected, worthy of more honour than the freedom from such affections possessed by the Father, making their own advantage the criterion of good. For if the case had been that the Son was incapable of being thus affected, as they affirm of the Father, our nature would still have remained in its miserable plight, inasmuch as there would have been none to lift up man's nature to incorruption by what He Himself experienced;--and so it escapes notice that the cunning of these quibblers, by the very means which it employs in its attempt to destroy the majesty of the Only-begotten God, does but raise men's conceptions of Him to a grander and loftier height, seeing it is the case that He Who has the power to act, is more to be honoured than one who is powerless for good.


Footnotes

[1060] The grammar of this section of the analysis is very much confused.


5. Then, again discussing the true Light and unapproachable Light of the Father and of the Son, special attributes, community and essence, and showing the relation of "generate" and "ungenerate," as involving no opposition in sense [1061] , but presenting an opposition and contradiction admitting of no middle term, he ends the book.

But I feel that my argument is running away with me, for it does not remain in the regular course, but, like some hot-blooded and spirited colt, is carried away by the blasphemies of our opponents to range over the absurdities of their system. Accordingly we must restrain it when it would run wild beyond the bounds of moderation in demonstration of absurd consequences. But the kindly reader will doubtless pardon what we have said, not imputing the absurdity that emerges from our investigation to us, but to those who laid down such mischievous premises. We must, however, now transfer our attention to another of his statements. For he says that our God also is composite, in that while we suppose the Light to be common, we yet separate the one Light from the other by certain special attributes and various differences. For that is none the less composite which, while united by one common nature, is yet separated by certain differences and conjunctions of peculiarities [1062] . To this our answer is short and easily dismissed. For what he brings as matter of accusation against our doctrines we acknowledge against ourselves, if he is not found to establish the same position by his own words. Let us just consider what he has written. He calls the Lord "true" Light, and the Father Light "unapproachable." Accordingly, by thus naming each, he also acknowledges their community in respect to light. But as titles are applied to things because they fit them, as he has often insisted, we do not conceive that the name of "light" is used of the Divine Nature barely, apart from some meaning, but rather that it is predicated by virtue of some underlying reality. Accordingly, by the use of a common name, they recognize the identity of the objects signified, since they have already declared that the natures of those things which have the same name cannot be different. Since, then, the meaning of "Light" is one and the same, the addition of "unapproachable" and "true," according to the language of heresy, separates the common nature by specific differences, so that the Light of the Father is conceived as one thing, and the Light of the Son as another, separated one from the other by special properties. Let him, then, either overthrow his own positions to avoid making out by his statements that the Deity is composite, or let him abstain from charging against us what he may see contained in his own language. For our statement does not hereby violate the simplicity of the Godhead, since community and specific difference are not essence, so that the conjunction of these should render the subject composite [1063] . But on the one side the essence by itself remains whatever it is in nature, being what it is, while, on the other, every one possessed of reason would say that these--community and specific difference--were among the accompanying conceptions and attributes: since even in us men there may be discerned some community with the Divine Nature, but Divinity is not the more on that account humanity, or humanity Divinity. For while we believe that God is good, we also find this character predicated of men in Scripture. But the special signification in each case establishes a distinction in the community arising from the use of the homonymous term. For He Who is the fountain of goodness is named from it; but he who has some share of goodness also partakes in the name, and God is not for this reason composite, that He shares with men the title of "good." From these considerations it must obviously be allowed that the idea of community is one thing, and that of essence another, and we are not on that account any the more to maintain composition or multiplicity of parts in that simple Nature which has nothing to do with quantity, because some of the attributes we contemplate in It are either regarded as special, or have a sort of common significance.

But let us pass on, if it seems good, to another of his statements, and dismiss the nonsense that comes between. He who laboriously reiterates against our argument the Aristotelian division of existent things, has elaborated "genera," and "species," and "differentiæ," and "individuals," and advanced all the technical language of the categories for the injury of our doctrines. Let us pass by all this, and turn our discourse to deal with his heavy and irresistible argument. For having braced his argument with Demosthenic fervour, he has started up to our view as a second Pæanian of Oltiseris [1064] , imitating that orator's severity in his struggle with us. I will transcribe the language of our author word for word. "Yes," he says, "but if, as the generate is contrary to the ungenerate, the Generate Light be equally inferior to the Ungenerate Light, the one will be found to be [1065] light, the other darkness." Let him who has the leisure learn from his words how pungent is his mode of dealing with this opposition, and how exactly it hits the mark. But I would beg this imitator of our words either to say what we have said, or to make his imitation of it as close as may be, or else, if he deals with our argument according to his own education and ability, to speak in his own person and not in ours. For I hope that no one will so miss our meaning as to suppose that, while "generate" is contradictory in sense to "ungenerate," one is a diminution of the other. For the difference between contradictories is not one of greater or less intensity, but rests its opposition upon their being mutually exclusive in their signification: as, for example, we say that a man is asleep or not asleep, sitting or not sitting, that he was or was not, and all the rest after the same model, where the denial of one is the assertion of its contradictory. As, then, to live is not a diminution of not living, but its complete opposite, even so we conceived having been generated not as a diminution of not having been generated, but as an opposite and contradictory not admitting of any middle term, so that which is expressed by the one has nothing whatever to do with that which is expressed by the other in the way of less or more. Let him therefore who says that one of two contradictories is defective as compared with the other, speak in his own person, not in ours. For our homely language says that things which correspond to contradictories differ from one another even as their originals do. So that, even if Eunomius discerns in the Light the same divergence as in the generate compared with the Ungenerate, I will re-assert my statement, that as in the one case the one member of the contradiction has nothing in common with its opposite, so if "light" be placed on the same side as one of the two contradictories, the remaining place in the figure must of course be assigned to "darkness," the necessity of the antithesis arranging the term of light over against its opposite, in accordance with the analogy of the previous contradictory terms "generate" and "ungenerate." Such is the clumsy answer which we, who as our disparaging author says, have attempted to write without logical training, deliver in our rustic dialect to our new Pæanian. But to see how he contended with this contradiction, advancing against us those hot and fire-breathing words of his with Demosthenic intensity, let those who like to have a laugh study the treatise of our orator itself. For our pen is not very hard to rouse to confute the notions of impiety, but is quite unsuited to the task of ridiculing the ignorance of untutored minds.


Footnotes

[1061] The composer of the analysis seems to have been slightly confused by the discussion on the nature of contradictory opposition. [1062] It is not clear how far the preceding sentences are an exact reproduction of Eunomius: they are probably a summary of his argument. [1063] Oehler's punctuation seems rather to obscure the sense. [1064] That is, a new Demosthenes, with a difference. Demosthenes' native place was the Attic deme of Pæania. Eunomius, according to S. Gregory, was born at Oltiseris (see p. 38, note 6, sup.). [1065] Reading genesetai


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