Translated by The Rev. E. W. Watson, M.A.
The Rev. L. Pullan, M.A. Fellow of St. John's College, Oxford,
Edited by The Rev. W. Sanday, D.D., LL.D.
Published in 1886 by Philip Schaff, New York: Christian Literature Publishing Co.
On the Trinity or De Trinitate - Book V1. Our reply, in the previous books, to the mad and blasphemous doctrines of the heretics has led us with open eyes into the difficulty that our readers incur an equal danger whether we refute our opponents, or whether we forbear. For while unbelief with boisterous irreverence was thrusting upon us the unity of God, a unity which devout and reasonable faith cannot deny, the scrupulous soul was caught in the dilemma that, whether it asserted or denied the proposition, the danger of blasphemy was equally incurred. To human logic it may seem ridiculous and irrational to say that it can be impious to assert, and impious to deny, the same doctrine, since what it is godly to maintain it must be godless to dispute; if it serve a good purpose to demolish a statement, it may seem folly to dream that good can come from supporting it. But human logic is fallacy in the presence of the counsels of God, and folly when it would cope with the wisdom of heaven; its thoughts are fettered by its limitations, its philosophy confined by the feebleness of natural reason. It must be foolish in its own eyes before it can be wise unto God; that is, it must learn the poverty of its own faculties and seek after Divine wisdom. It must become wise, not by the standard of human philosophy, but of that which mounts to God, before it can enter into His wisdom, and its eyes be opened to the folly of the world. The heretics have ingeniously contrived that this folly, which passes for wisdom, shall be their engine. They employ the confession of One God, for which they appeal to the witness of the Law and the Gospels in the words, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One  . They are well aware of the risks involved, whether their assertion be met by contradiction or passed over in silence; and, whichever happens, they see an opening to promote their heresy. If sacred truth, pressed with a blasphemous intent, be met by silence, that silence is construed as consent; as a confession that, because God is One, therefore His Son is not God, and God abides in eternal solitude. If, on the other hand, the heresy involved in their bold argument be met by contradiction, this opposition is branded as a departure from the true Gospel faith, which states in precise terms the unity of God, or else they cast in the opponent's teeth that he has fallen into the contrary heresy, which allows but one Person of Father and of Son  . Such is the deadly artifice, wearing the aspect of an attractive innocence, which the world's wisdom, which is folly with God, has forged to beguile us in this first article of their faith, which we can neither confess nor deny without risk of blasphemy. We walk between dangers on either hand; the unity of God may force us into a denial of the Godhead of His Son, or, if we confess that the Father is God and the Son is God, we may be driven into the heresy of interpreting the unity of Father and of Son in the Sabellian sense. Thus their device of insisting upon the One God would either shut out the Second Person from the Godhead, or destroy the Unity by admitting Him as a second God, or else make the unity merely nominal. For unity, they would plead, excludes a Second; the existence of a Second is destructive of unity; and Two cannot be One.
|BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet Our List of 2,300 Religious Subjects|
3. And so the arrangement of our treatise follows closely the order of the objections raised. Since the next article of their blasphemous and dishonest confession is, We confess One true God  , the whole of this second  book is devoted to the question whether the Son of God be true God. For it is clear that the heretics have ingeniously contrived this arrangement of first naming One God and then One true God, in order to detach the Son from the name and nature of God; since the thought must suggest itself that, truth being inherent in the One God, it must be strictly confined to Him. And therefore, since it is clear beyond a doubt that Moses, when he proclaimed the unity of God, meant therein to assert the Divinity of the Son, let us return to the leading passages in which his teaching is conveyed, and enquire whether or no he wishes us to believe that the Son, Who, as he has taught us, is God, is also true God. It is clear that the truth, or genuineness, of a thing is a question of its nature and its powers. For instance, true wheat is that which grows to a head with the beard bristling round it, which is purged from the chaff and ground to flour, compounded into a loaf and taken for food, and renders the nature and the uses of bread. Thus natural powers are the evidence of truth; and let us see, by this test, whether He, Whom Moses calls God, be true God. We will defer for the present our discourse concerning this One God, Who is also true God, lest, if I fail at once to take up their challenge and uphold the One True God in the two Persons of Father and of Son, eager and anxious souls be oppressed by dangerous doubts.
4. And now, since we accept as common ground the fact that God recognises His Son as God, I ask you: how does the creation of the world disprove our assertion that the Son is true God? There is no doubt that all things are through the Son, for, in the Apostle's words, All things are through Him, and in Him  . If all things are through Him, and all were made out of nothing, and none otherwise than through Him, in what element of true Godhead is He defective, Who possesses both the nature and the power of God? He had at His disposal the powers of the Divine nature, to bring into being the non-existent and to create at His pleasure. For God saw that they were good  .
5. When the Law says, And God said, Let there be a firmament, and then adds, And God made the firmament, it introduces no other distinction than that of Person. It indicates no difference of power or nature, and makes no change of name. Under the one title of God it reveals, first, the thought of Him Who spoke, and then the action of Him Who created. The language of the narrator says nothing to deprive Him of Divine nature and power; nay rather, how precisely does it inculcate His true Godhead. The power to give effect to the word of creation belongs only to that Nature with Whom to speak is the same as to fulfil. How then is He not true God, Who creates, if He is true God, Who commands? If the word spoken was truly Divine, the deed done was truly Divine also. God spoke, and God created; if it was true God Who spoke, He Who created was true God also; unless indeed, while the presence of true Godhead was displayed in the speech of the One, its absence was manifested in the action of the Other. Thus in the Son of God we behold the true Divine nature. He is God, He is Creator, He is Son of God, He is omnipotent. It is not merely that He can do whatever He will, for will is always the concomitant of power; but He can do also whatever is commanded Him. Absolute power is this, that its possessor can execute as Agent whatever His words as Speaker can express. When unlimited power of expression is combined with unlimited power of execution, then this creative power, commensurate with the commanding word, possesses the true nature of God. Thus the Son of God is not false God, nor God by adoption, nor God by gift of the name, but true God. Nothing would be gained by the statement of the arguments by which His true Godhead is opposed. His possession of the name and of the nature of God is conclusive proof. He, by Whom all things were made, is God. So much the creation of the world tells me about Him. He is God, equal with God in name; true God, equal with true God in power. The might of God is revealed to us in the creative word; the might of God is manifested also in the creative act. And now again I ask by what authority you deny, in your confession of Father and Son, the true Divine nature of Him Whose name reveals His power, Whose power proves His right to the Name.
6. My reader must bear in mind that I am silent about the current objections through no forgetfulness, and no distrust of my cause. For that constantly cited text, The Father is greater than I, and its cognate passages are perfectly familiar to me, and I have my interpretation of them ready, which makes them witness to the true Divine nature of the Son. But it serves my purpose best to adhere in reply to the order of attack, that our pious effort may follow close upon the progress of their impious scheme, and when we see them diverge into godless heresy we may at once obliterate the track of error. To this end we postpone to the end of our work the testimony of the Evangelists and Apostles, and join battle with the blasphemers for the present on the ground of the Law and the Prophets, silencing their crooked argument, based on misinterpretation and deceit, by the very texts with which they strive to delude us. The sound method of demonstrating a truth is to expose the fallacy of the objections raised against it; and the disgrace of the deceiver is complete if his own lie be converted into an evidence for the truth. And, indeed, the universal experience of mankind has learned that falsehood and truth are incompatible, and cannot be reconciled or made coherent; that by their very nature they are among those opposites which are eternally repugnant, and can never combine or agree.
7. This being the case, I ask how a distinction can be made in the words, Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness, between a true God and a false. The words express a meaning, the meaning is the outcome of thought; the thought is set in motion by truth. Let us follow the words back to their meaning, and learn from the meaning the thought, and from the thought attain to the underlying truth. Thy enquiry is, whether He to Whom the words Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness were spoken, was not thought of as true by Him Who spoke; for they undoubtedly express the feeling and thought of the Speaker. In saying Let Us make, He clearly indicates One in no discord with Himself, no alien or powerless Being, but One endowed with power to do the thing of which He speaks. His own words assure us that this is the sense in which we must understand that they were spoken.
8. To assure us still more fully of the true Godhead manifested in the nature and work of the Son, He, Who expressed His meaning in the words I have cited, shews that His thought was suggested by the true Divinity of Him to Whom He said, After Our own image and likeness. How is He falsely called God, to Whom the true God says, After Our own image and likeness? Our is inconsistent with isolation, and with difference either in purpose or in nature. Man is created, taking the words in their strict sense, in Their common image. Now there can be nothing common to the true and to the false. God, the Speaker, is speaking to God; man is being created in the image of Father and of Son. The Two are One in name and One in nature. It is only one image after which man is made. The time has not yet come for me to discuss this matter; hereafter I will explain what is this image of God the Father and of God the Son into which man was created. For the present we will stick to the question, was, or was not, He true God, to Whom the true God said, Let Us make man after Our own image and likeness? Separate, if you can, the true from the false elements in this image common to Both; in your heretical madness divide the indivisible. For They Two are One, of Whose one image and likeness man is the one copy.
9. But now let us continue our reading of this Scripture, to shew how the consistency of truth is unaffected by these dishonest objections. The next words are, And God made man; after the image of God made He him. The image is in common; God made man after the image of God. I would ask him who denies that God's Son is true God, in what God's image he supposes that God made man? He must bear constantly in mind that all things are through the Son; heretical ingenuity must not, for its own purposes, twist this passage into action on the part of the Father. If, therefore, man is created through God the Son after the image of God the Father, he is created also after the image of the Son; for all admit that the words After Our image and likeness were spoken to the Son. Thus His true Godhead is as explicitly asserted by the Divine words as manifested in the Divine action; so that it is God Who moulds man into the image of God, Who reveals Himself as God, and, moreover, as true God. For His joint possession of the Divine image proves Him true God, while His creative action displays Him as God the Son.
10. What wild insanity of abandoned souls! What blind audacity of reckless blasphemy! You hear of God and God; you hear of Our image. Why suggest that One is, and One is not, true God? Why distinguish between God by nature and God in name? Why, under pretext of defending the faith, do you destroy the faith? Why struggle to pervert the revelation of One God, One true God, into a denial that God is One and true? Not yet will I stifle your insane efforts with the clear words of Evangelists and Prophets, in which Father and Son appear not as one Person, but as One in nature, and Each as true God. For the present the Law, unaided, annihilates you. Does the Law ever speak of One true God, and One not true? Does it ever speak of Either, except by the name of God, which is the true expression of Their nature? It speaks of God and God; it speaks also of God as One. Nay, it does more than so describe Them. It manifests Them as true God and true God, by the sure evidence of Their joint image. It begins by speaking of Them first by their strict name of God; then it attributes true Godhead to Both in common. For when man, Their creature, is created after the image of Both, sound reason forces the conclusion that Each of Them is true God.
11. But let us travel once more in our journey of instruction over the lessons taught in the holy Law of God. The Angel of God speaks to Hagar; and this same Angel is God. But perhaps His being the Angel of God means that He is not true God. For this title seems to indicate a lower nature; where the name points to a difference in kind, it is thought that true equality must be absent. The last book has already exposed the hollowness of this objection; the title of Angel informs us of His office, not of His nature. I have prophetic evidence for this explanation; Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire  . That flaming fire is His ministers; that spirit which comes, His angels. These figures shew the nature and the power of His messengers, or angels, and of His ministers. This spirit is an angel, that flaming fire a minister, of God. Their nature adapts them for the function of messenger or minister. Thus the Law, or rather God through the Law, wishing to indicate God the Son as a Person, yet as bearing the same name with the Father, calls Him the Angel, that is, the Messenger, of God. The title Messenger proves that He has an office of His own; that His nature is truly Divine is proved when He is called God. But this sequence, first Angel, then God, is in the order of revelation, not in Himself. For we confess Them Father and Son in the strictest sense, in such equality that the Only-begotten Son, by virtue of His birth, possesses true Divinity from the Unbegotten Father. This revelation of Them as Sender and as Sent is but another expression for Father and Son; not contradicting the true Divine nature of the Son, nor cancelling His possession of the Godhead as His birthright. For none can doubt that the Son by His birth partakes congenitally of the nature of His Author, in such wise that from the One there comes into being an indivisible Unity, because One is from One.
12. Faith burns with passionate ardour; the burden of silence is intolerable, and my thoughts imperiously demand an utterance. Already, in the preceding book I have departed from the intended method of my demonstration. I was denouncing that blasphemous sense in which the heretics speak of One God, and expounding the passages in which Moses speaks of God and God. I hastened on with a precipitate, though devout, zeal to the true sense in which we hold the unity of God. And now again, wrapped up in the pursuit of another enquiry, I have suffered myself to wander from the course, and, while I was engaged upon the true Divinity of the Son, the ardour of my soul has hurried me on before the time to make the confession of true God as Father and as Son. But our own faith must wait its proper place in the treatise. This preliminary statement of it has been made as a safeguard for the reader; it shall be so developed and explained hereafter as to frustrate the schemes of the gainsayer.
13. To resume the argument; this title of office indicates no difference of nature, for He, Who is the Angel of God, is God. The test of His true Godhead shall be, whether or no His words and acts were those of God. He increases Ishmael into a great people, and promises that many nations shall bear his name. Is this, I ask, within an angel's power? If not, and this is the power of God, why do you refuse true Divinity to Him Who, on your own confession, has the true power of God? Thus He possesses the true and perfect powers of the Divine nature. True God, in all the types in which He reveals Himself for the world's salvation, is not, nor ever can be, other than true God.
14. Now first, I ask, what is the meaning of these terms, `true God' and `not true God'? If any one says to me `This is fire, but not true fire; water, but not true water,' I can attach no intelligible meaning to his words. What difference in kind can there be between one true specimen, and another true specimen, of the same class? If a thing be fire, it must be true fire; while its nature remains the same it cannot lose this character of true fire. Deprive water of its watery nature, and by so doing you destroy it as true water; let it remain water, and it will inevitably still be true water. The only way in which an object can lose its nature is by losing its existence; if it continue to exist it must be truly itself. If the Son of God is God, then He is true God; if He is not true God, then in no possible sense is He God at all. If He has not the nature, then He has no right to the name; if, on the contrary, the name which indicates the nature is His by inherent right, then it cannot be that He is destitute of that nature in its truest sense.
15. But perhaps it will be argued that, when the Angel of God is called God, He receives the name as a favour, through adoption, and has in consequence a nominal, not a true, Godhead. If He gave us an inadequate revelation of His Divine nature at the time when He was styled the Angel of God, judge whether He has not fully manifested His true Godhead under the name of a nature lower than the angelic. For a Man spoke to Abraham, and Abraham worshipped Him as God. Pestilent heretic! Abraham confessed Him, you deny Him, to be God. What hope is there for you, in your blasphemy, of the blessings promised to Abraham? He is Father of the Gentiles, but not for you; you cannot go forth from your regeneration to join the household of his seed, through the blessings given to his faith. You are no son, raised up to Abraham from the stones; you are a generation of vipers, an adversary of his belief. You are not the Israel of God, the heir of Abraham, justified by faith; for you have disbelieved God, while Abraham was justified and appointed to be the Father of the Gentiles through that faith wherein he worshipped the God Whose word he trusted. God it was Whom that blessed and faithful Patriarch worshipped then; and mark how truly He was God, to Whom, in His own words, all things are possible. Is there any, but God alone, to Whom nothing is impossible? And He, to Whom all things are possible, does He fall short of true Divinity?
16. I ask further, Who is this God Who overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah? For the Lord rained from the Lord  ; was it not the true Lord from the true Lord? Have you any alternative to this Lord, and Lord? Or any other meaning for the terms, except that in Lord, and Lord, their Persons are distinguished? Bear in mind that Him Whom you have confessed as Alone true, you have also confessed as Alone the righteous Judge  . Now mark that the Lord who rains from the Lord, and slays not the just with the unjust, and judges the whole earth, is both Lord and also righteous Judge, and also rains from the Lord. In the face of all this, I ask you Which it is that you describe as alone the righteous Judge. The Lord rains from the Lord; you will not deny that He Who rains from the Lord is the righteous Judge, for Abraham, the Father of the Gentiles--but not of the unbelieving Gentiles--speaks thus: In no wise shalt Thou do this thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, for then shall the righteous be as the wicked. In no wise shalt Thou, Who judgest the earth, execute this judgment  . This God, then, the righteous Judge, is clearly also the true God. Blasphemer! Your own falsehood confutes you. Not yet do I bring forward the witness of the Gospels concerning God the Judge; the Law has told me that He is the Judge. You must deprive the Son of His judgeship before you can deprive Him of His true Divinity. You have solemnly confessed that He Who is the only righteous Judge is also the only true God; your own statements bind you to the admission that He Who is the righteous Judge is also true God. This Judge is the Lord, to Whom all things are possible, the Promiser of eternal blessings, Judge of righteous and of wicked. He is the God of Abraham, worshipped by him. Fool and blasphemer that you are, your shameless readiness of tongue must invent some new fallacy, if you are to prove that He is not true God.
17. His merciful and mysterious self-revelations are in no wise inconsistent with His true heavenly nature; and His faithful saints never fail to penetrate the guise He has assumed in order that faith may see Him. The types of the Law foreshew the mysteries of the Gospel; they enable the Patriarch to see and to believe what hereafter the Apostle is to gaze on and publish. For, since the Law is the shadow of things to come, the shadow that was seen was a true outline of the reality which cast it. God was seen and believed and worshipped as Man, Who was indeed to be born as Man in the fulness of time. He takes upon Him, to meet the Patriarch's eye, a semblance which foreshadows the future truth. In that old day God was only seen, not born, as Man; in due time He was born, as well as seen. Familiarity with the human appearance, which He took that men might behold Him, was to prepare them for the time when He should, in very truth, be born as Man. Then it was that the shadow took substance, the semblance reality, the vision life. But God remained unchanged, whether He were seen in the appearance, or born in the reality, of manhood. The resemblance was perfect between Himself, after His birth, and Himself, as He had been seen in vision. As He was born, so He had appeared; as He had appeared, so was He born. But, since the time has not yet come for us to compare the Gospel account with that of the prophet Moses, let us pursue our chosen course through the pages of the Law. Hereafter we shall prove from the Gospels that it was the true Son of God Who was born as Man; for the present, we are shewing from the Law that it was true God, the Son of God, Who appeared to the Patriarchs in human form. For when One appeared to Abraham as Man, He was worshipped as God and proclaimed as Judge; and when the Lord rained from the Lord, beyond a doubt the Law tells us that the Lord rained from the Lord in order to reveal to us the Father and the Son. Nor can we for a moment suppose that when the Patriarch, with full knowledge, worshipped the Son as God, he was blind to the fact that it was true God Whom he worshipped.
18. But godless unbelief finds it very hard to apprehend the true faith. Their capacity for devotion has never been expanded by belief, and is too narrow to receive a full presentment of the truth. Hence the unbelieving soul cannot grasp the great work done by God in being born as Man to accomplish the salvation of mankind; in the work of its salvation it fails to see the power of God. They think of the travail of His birth, the feebleness of infancy, the growth of childhood, the attainment of maturity, of bodily suffering and of the Cross with which it ended, and of the death upon the Cross; and all this conceals His true Godhead from their eyes. Yet He had called into being all these capacities for Himself, as additions to His nature; capacities which in His true Divine nature He had not possessed. Thus He acquired them without loss of His true Divinity, and ceased not to be God when He became Man; when He, Who is God eternally, became Man at a point in time. They cannot see an exercise of the true God's power in His becoming what He was not before, yet never ceasing to be His former Self. And yet there would have been no acceptance of our feeble nature, had not He by the strength of His own omnipotent nature, while remaining what He was, come to be what previously He was not. What blindness of heresy, what foolish wisdom of the world, which cannot see that the reproach of Christ is the power of God, the folly of faith the wisdom of God! So Christ in your eyes is not God because He, Who was from eternity, was born, because the Unchangeable grew with years, the Impassible suffered, the Living died, the Dead lives; because all His history contradicts the common course of nature! Is not all this simply to say that He, being God, was omnipotent? Not yet, ye holy and venerable Gospels, do I turn your pages, to prove from them that Christ Jesus, amid these changes and sufferings, is God. For the Law is the forerunner of the Gospels, and the Law must teach us that, when God clothed Himself in infirmity, He lost not His Godhead. The types of the Law are our convincing assurance of the mysteries of the Gospel faith.
19. Be with me now in thy faithful spirit, holy and blessed Patriarch Jacob, to combat the poisonous hissings of the serpent of unbelief. Prevail once more in thy wrestling with the Man, and, being the stronger, once more entreat His blessing. Why pray for what thou mightest demand from thy weaker Opponent? Thy strong arm has vanquished Him Whose blessing thou prayest. Thy bodily victory is in broad contrast to thy soul's humility, thy deeds to thy thoughts. It is a Man whom thou holdest powerless in thy strong grasp; but in thine eye this Man is true God, and God not in name only, but in nature. It is not the blessing of a God by adoption that thou dost claim, but the true God's blessing. With Man thou strivest; but face to face thou seest God. What thou seest with the bodily eye is different far from what thou beholdest with the vision of faith. Thou hast felt Him to be weak Man; but thy soul has been saved because it saw God in Him. When thou wast wrestling thou wast Jacob; thou art Israel now, through faith in the blessing which thou didst claim. According to the flesh, the Man is thy inferior, for a type of His passion in the flesh; but thou canst recognise God in that weak flesh, for a sign of His blessing in the Spirit. The witness of the eye does not disturb thy faith; His feebleness does not mislead thee into neglect of His blessing. Though He is Man, His humanity is no bar to His being God, His Godhead no bar to His being true God; for, being God, He must indeed be true  .
20. The Law in its progress still follows the sequence of the Gospel mystery, of which it is the shadow; its types are a faithful anticipation of the truths taught by the Apostles. In the vision of his dream the blessed Jacob saw God; this was the revelation of a mystery, not a bodily manifestation. For there was shown to him the descent of angels by the ladder, and their ascent to heaven, and God resting above the ladder; and the vision, as it was interpreted, foretold that his dream should some day become a revealed truth. The Patriarch's words, The house of God and the gate of heaven, shew us the scene of His vision; and then, after a long account of what he did, the narrative proceeds thus: And God said unto Jacob, Arise, and go up to the place Bethel, and dwell there: and make there a Sacrifice unto God, that appeared unto thee when thou fleddest from the face of Esau  . If the faith of the Gospel has access through God the Son to God the Father, and if it is only through God that God can be apprehended, then shew us in what sense This is not true God, Who demands reverence for God, Who rests above the heavenly ladder. What difference of nature separates the Two, when Both bear the one name which indicates the one nature? It is God Who was seen; it is also God Who speaks about God Who was seen. God cannot be apprehended except through God; even as also God accepts no worship from us except through God. We could not understand that the One must be reverenced, unless the Other had taught us reverence for Him; we could not have known that the One is God, unless we had known the Godhead of the Other. The revelation of mysteries holds its appointed course; it is by God that we are initiated into the worship of God. And when one name, which tells of one nature, combines the Father with the Son, how can the Son so fall beneath Himself as to be other than true God?
21. Human judgment must not pass its sentence upon God. Our nature is not such that it can lift itself by its own forces to the contemplation of heavenly things. We must learn from God what we are to think of God; we have no source of knowledge but Himself. You may be as carefully trained as you will in secular philosophy; you may have lived a life of righteousness. All this will contribute to your mental satisfaction, but it will not help you to know God. Moses was adopted as the son of the queen, and instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; he had, moreover, out of loyalty to his race avenged the wrong of the Hebrew by slaying the Egyptian  , and yet he knew not the God Who had blessed his fathers. For when he left Egypt through fear of the discovery of his deed, and was living as a shepherd in the land of Midian, he saw a fire in the bush, and the bush unconsumed. Then it was that he heard the voice of God, and asked His name, and learned His nature. Of all this he could have known nothing except through God Himself. And we, in like manner, must confine ourselves, in whatever we say of God, to the terms in which He has spoken to our understanding concerning Himself.
22. It is the Angel of God Who appeared in the fire from the bush; and it is God Who spoke from the bush amid the fire. He is manifested as Angel; that is His office, not His nature. The name which expresses His nature is given you as God; for the Angel of God is God. But perhaps He is not true God. Is the God of Abraham, then, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, not true God? For the Angel Who speaks from the bush is their God eternally. And, lest you insinuate that the name is His only by adoption, it is the absolute God Who speaks to Moses. These are His words:--And the Lord said unto Moses, I Am that I Am; and He said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, He that is hath sent me unto you  . God's discourse began as the speech of the Angel, in order to reveal the mystery of human salvation in the Son. Next He appears as the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, that we may know the name which is His by nature. Finally it is the God that is Who sends Moses to Israel, that we may have full assurance that in the absolute sense He is God.
23. What further fictions can the futile folly of insane blasphemy devise? Do you still persist in your nightly sowing of tares, predestined to be burnt, among the pure wheat, when the knowledge of all the Patriarchs contradicts you? Nay more: if you believed Moses, you would believe also in God, the Son of God; unless perchance you deny that it was of Him that Moses spoke. If you propose to deny that, you must listen to the words of God:--For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed Me also, for he wrote of Me  . Moses, indeed, will refute you with the whole volume of the Law, ordained through angels, which he received by the hand of the Mediator. Enquire whether He, Who gave the Law, were not true God; for the Mediator was the Giver. And was it not to meet God that Moses led out the people to the Mount? Was it not God Who came down into the Mount? Or was it, perhaps, only by a fiction or an adoption, and not by right of nature, that He, Who did all this, bore the name of God? Mark the blare of the trumpets, the flashing of the torches, the clouds of smoke, as from a furnace, rolling over the mountain, the terror of conscious impotence on the part of man in the presence of God, the confession of the people, when they prayed Moses to be their spokesman, that at the voice of God they would die. Is He, in your judgment, not true God, when simple dread lest He should speak filled Israel with the fear of death? He Whose voice could not be borne by human weakness? In your eyes is He not God, because He addressed you through the weak faculties of a man, that you might hear, and live  ? Moses entered the Mount; in forty days and nights he gained the knowledge of the mysteries of heaven, and set it all in order according to the vision of the truth which was revealed to him there. From intercourse with God, Who spoke with him, he received the reflected splendour of that glory on which none may gaze? his corruptible countenance was transfigured into the likeness of the unapproachable light of Him, with Whom he was dwelling. Of this God he bears witness, of this God he speaks; he summons the angels of God to come and worship Him amid the gladness of the Gentiles, and prays that the blessings which please Him may descend upon the head of Joseph. In face of such evidence as this, dare any man say that He has nothing but the name of God, and deny His true Divinity?
24. This long discussion has, I believe, brought out the truth that no sound argument has ever been adduced in favour of a distinction between One Who is, and One Who is not, true God, in those passages where the Law speaks of God and God, of Lord and Lord. I have proved that these terms are inconsistent with difference between Them in name or in nature, and that we can use the name as a test of the nature, and the nature as a clue to the name. Thus I have shewn that the character, the power, the attributes, the name of God are inherent in Him Whom the Law has called God. I have shewn also that the Law, gradually unfolding the Gospel mystery, reveals the Son as a Person by manifesting God as obedient, in the creation of the world, to the words of God, and in the formation of man making what is the joint image of God, and of God; and again, that in the judgment of the men of Sodom the Lord is Judge from the Lord; that, in the giving of blessings and ordaining of the mysteries of the Law, the Angel of God is God. Thus, in support of the saving confession of God as ever manifested in the Persons of Father and of Son, we have shewn how the Law teaches the true Godhead by the use of the strict name of God; for, while the Law states clearly that They are Two, it casts no shadow of doubt upon the true Godhead of either.
25. And now the time has come for us to put a stop to that cunning artifice of heresy, by which they pervert the devout and godly teachings of the Law into a support for their own godless delusion. They preface their denial of the Son of God with the words, Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is One; and then, because their blasphemy would be refuted by the identity of name, since the Law speaks of God and God, they invoke the authority of the prophetic words, They shall bless Thee, the true God, to prove that the name is not used in the true sense. They argue that these words teach that God is One, and that God, the Son of God, has His name only and not His nature; and that therefore we must conclude that the true God is one Person only. But perhaps you imagine, fool, that we shall contradict these texts of yours, and so deny that there is one true God. Assuredly we do not contradict them by a confession conceived in your sense. Our faith receives them, our reason accepts them, our words declare them. We recognise One God, and Him true God. The name of God has no dangers for our confession, which proclaims that in the nature of the Son there is the One true God. Learn the meaning of your own words, recognise the One true God, and then you will be able to make a faithful confession of God, One and true. It is the words of our faith which you are turning into the instrument of your blasphemy, preserving the sound and perverting the sense. Masquerading in a foolish garb of imaginary wisdom, under cover of loyalty to truth you are the truth's destroyer. You confess that God is One and true, on purpose to deny the truth which you confess. Your language claims a reputation for piety on the strength of its impiety, for truth on the strength of its falsehood. Your preaching of One true God leads up to a denial of Him. For you deny that the Son is true God, though you admit that He is God, but God in name only, not in nature. If His birth be in name, not in nature, then you are justified in denying His true right to the name; but if He be truly born as God, how then can He fail to be true God by virtue of His birth? Deny the fact, and you may deny the consequence; if you admit the fact, how can He be other than Himself? No being can alter its own essential nature. About His birth I shall speak presently; meantime I will refute your blasphemous falsehoods concerning His true Divine nature by the utterances of prophets. But I shall take care that in our assertion of the One true God I give no cover to the Sabellian heresy that the Father is one Person with the Son, and none to that slander against the Son's true Godhead, which you evolve out of the unity of the One true God.
26. Blasphemy is incompatible with wisdom; where the fear of God, which is the beginning of wisdom, is absent, no glimmer of intelligence survives. An instance of this is seen in the heretics' citation of the prophet's words, And they shall bless Thee, the true God, as evidence against the Godhead of the Son. First, we see here the folly, which clogs unbelief in the misunderstanding or (if it were understood) in the suppression of the earlier part of the prophecy: and again we see it in their fraudulent interpolation of that one little word, not to be found in the book itself. This proceeding is as stupid as it is dishonest, since no one would trust them so far as to accept their reading without referring for corroboration to the prophetic text. For that text does not stand thus: They shall bless Thee, the true God, but thus: They shall bless the true God  . There is no slight difference between Thee, the true God and The true God. If Thee be retained, the pronoun of the second person implies that Another is being addressed; if Thee be omitted, True God, the object of the sentence, is the Speaker.
27. To ensure that our explanation of the passage shall be complete and certain, I cite the words in full:--Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, they that serve Me shall eat, but ye shall be hungry, behold, they that serve Me shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty, behold, they that serve Me shall rejoice with gladness, but ye shall cry for sorrow of your heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. For ye shall leave your name for a rejoicing unto My chosen, but the Lord shall slay you. But My servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth; and they shall bless the true God, and they that swear upon the earth shall swear by the true God  . There is always a good reason for any departure from the accustomed modes of expression, but novelty is also made an opportunity for misinterpretation. The question here is, Why, when so many earlier prophecies have been uttered concerning God, and the name God, alone and without epithet, has sufficed hitherto to indicate the Divine majesty and nature, the Spirit of prophecy should now foretell through Isaiah that the true God was to be blessed, and that men should swear upon earth by the true God. First, we must bear in mind that this discourse was spoken concerning times to come. Now, I ask, was not He, in the mind of the Jews, true God, Whom men used then to bless, and by whom they swore? The Jews, unaware of the typical meaning of their mysteries, and therefore ignorant of God the Son, worshipped God simply as God, and not as Father  ; for, if they had worshipped Him as Father, they would have worshipped the Son also. It was God, therefore, Whom they blessed and by Whom they swore. But the prophet testifies that it is true God Who shall be blessed hereafter; calling Him true God, because the mysteriousness of His Incarnation was to blind the eyes of some to His true Godhead. When falsehood was to be published abroad, it was necessary that the truth should be clearly stated. And now let us review this passage, clause by clause.
28. Therefore thus saith the Lord, Behold, they that serve Me shall eat, but ye shall be hungry; behold, they that serve Me shall drink, but ye shall be thirsty. Note that one clause contains two different tenses, in order to teach truth concerning two different times; They that serve Me shall eat. Present piety is rewarded with a future prize, and similarly present godlessness shall suffer the penalty of future thirst and hunger. Then He adds, Behold, they that serve Me shall rejoice with gladness, but ye shall cry for sorrow of your heart, and shall howl for vexation of spirit. Here again, as before, there is a revelation for the future and for the present. They who serve now shall rejoice with gladness, while they who do not serve shall abide in crying and howling through sorrow of heart and vexation of spirit. He proceeds, For ye shall leave your name for a rejoicing unto My chosen, but the Lord shall slay you. These words, dealing with a future time, are addressed to the carnal Israel, which is taunted with the prospect of having to surrender its name to the chosen of God. What is this name? Israel, of course; for to Israel the prophecy was addressed. And now I ask, What is Israel to-day? The Apostle gives the answer:--They who are in the spirit, not in the letter, they who walk in the Law of Christ, are the Israel of God  .
29. Furthermore, we must form a conclusion why it is that the words cited above, Therefore thus saith the Lord, are followed by But the Lord shall slay you, and as to the meaning of the next sentence, But my servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth. There can be no doubt that both Therefore thus saith the Lord, and afterwards But the Lord shall slay you, prove that it was the Lord Who both spoke, and also purposed to slay, Who meant to reward His servants with that new name, Who was well known to have spoken through the prophets and was to be the judge of the righteous and of the wicked. And thus the remainder of this revelation of the mystery of the Gospel removes all doubt concerning the Lord as Speaker and as Slayer. It continues:--But My servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth. Here everything is in the future. What then is this new name of a religion; a name which shall be blessed upon earth? If ever in past ages there were a blessing upon the name Christian, it is not a new name. But if this hallowed name of our devotion towards God be new, then this new title of Christian, awarded to our faith, is that heavenly blessing which is our reward upon earth.
30. And now come words in perfect harmony with the inward assurance of our faith. He says, And they shall bless the true God, and they that swear upon earth shall swear by the true God. And indeed they who in God's service have received the new name shall bless God; and moreover the God by Whom they shall swear is the true God. What doubt is there as to Who this true God is, by Whom men shall swear and Whom they shall bless, through Whom a new and blessed name shall be given to them that serve Him? I have on my side, in opposition to the blasphemous misrepresentations of heresy, the clear and definite evidence of the Church's faith; the witness of the new name which Thou, O Christ, hast given, of the blessed title which Thou hast bestowed in reward of loyal service. It swears that Thou art true God. Every mouth, O Christ, of them that believe tells that Thou art God. The faith of all believers swears that Thou art God, confesses, proclaims, is inwardly assured, that Thou art true God.
31. And thus this passage of prophecy, taken with its whole context, clearly describes as God both Him Whom we serve for the new name's sake, and Him through Whom the new name is blessed upon earth. It tells us Who it is that is blessed as true God, and Who is sworn by as true God. And this is the confession of faith made, in the fulness of time, by the Church in loyal devotion to Christ her Lord. We can see how exactly the words of prophecy conform to the truth, by their refraining from the insertion of that pronoun of the second person. Had the words been Thee, the true God, then they might have been interpreted as spoken to another. The true God can refer to none but the Speaker. The passage, taken by itself, shews to Whom it refers; the preceding words, taken in connexion with it, declare Who the Speaker is Who makes this confession of God. They are these:--I have appeared openly to them that asked not for Me, and, I have been found of them that sought Me not. I said, Here am I, unto a nation that called not on My name. I have spread out My hands all the day to an unbelieving and gainsaying people  . Could a dishonest attempt to suppress the truth be more completely exposed, or the Speaker be more distinctly revealed as true God, than here? Who, I demand, was it that appeared to them that asked not for Him, and was found of them that sought Him not? What nation is it that formerly called not on His name? Who is it that spread out His hands all the day to an unbelieving and gainsaying people? Compare with these words that holy and Divine Song of Deuteronomy  , in which God, in His wrath against them that are no Gods, moves the unbelievers to jealousy against those that are no people and a foolish nation. Conclude for yourself, Who it is that makes Himself manifest to them that knew Him not; Who, though one people is His own, becomes the possession of strangers; Who it is that spreads out His hands before an unbelieving and gainsaying people, nailing to the cross the writing of the former sentence against us  . For the same Spirit in the prophet, whom we are considering, proceeds thus in the course of this one prophecy, which is connected in argument as well as continuous in utterance:--But My servants shall be called by a new name, which shall be blessed upon earth, and they shall bless the true God, and they that swear upon the earth shall swear by the true God.
32. If heresy, in its folly and wickedness, shall attempt to entice the simple-minded and uninstructed away from the true belief that these words were spoken in reference to God the Son, by feigning that they are an utterance of God the Father concerning Himself, it shall hear sentence passed upon the lie by the Apostle and Teacher of the Gentiles. He interprets all these prophecies as allusions to the passion of the Lord and to the times of Gospel faith, when he is reproving the unbelief of Israel, which will not recognise that the Lord is come in the flesh. His words are:--For whosoever shall have called upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. How shall they call on Him in Whom they have not believed? But how shall they believe in Him of Whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach, excerpt they have been sent? As it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that proclaim peace, of them that proclaim good things. But all do not obey the Gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report? So then faith cometh by hearing and hearing through the word. But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world. But I say, Did not Israel know? First Moses saith, I will provoke you to jealousy against them that are no people, and against a foolish nation I will anger you. Moreover Esaias is bold, and saith, I appeared unto them that seek Me not, I was found by them that asked not after Me. But to Israel what saith He? All day long I have stretched forth My hands to a people that hearken not  . Who art thou that hast mounted up through the successive heavens, knowing not whether thou wert in the body or out of the body, and canst explain more faithfully than he the words of the prophet? Who art thou that hast heard, and mayst not tell, the ineffable mysteries of the secret things of heaven, and hast proclaimed with greater assurance the knowledge granted thee by God for revelation? Who art thou that hast been fore-ordained to a full share of the Lord's suffering on the Cross, and first has been caught up to Paradise and drawn nobler teaching from the Scriptures of God than this chosen vessel? If there be such a man, has he been ignorant that these are the deeds and words of the true God, proclaimed to us by His own true and chosen Apostle that we may recognise in Him their Author?
33. But it may be argued that the Apostle was not inspired by the Spirit of prophecy when he borrowed these prophetic words; that he was only interpreting at random the words of another man, and though, no doubt, everything the Apostle says of himself comes to him by revelation from Christ, yet his knowledge of the words of Isaiah is only derived from the book. I answer that in the beginning of that utterance in which it is said that the servants of the true God shall bless Him and swear by Him, we read this adoration by the prophet:--From everlasting we have not heard, nor have our eyes seen God, except Thee, and Thy works which Thou wilt do for them that await Thy mercy  . Isaiah says that he has seen no God but Him. For he did actually see the glory of God, the mystery of Whose taking flesh from the Virgin he foretold. And if you, in your heresy, do not know that it was God the Only-begotten Whom the prophet saw in that glory, listen to the Evangelist:--These things said Esaias, when he saw His glory, and spake of Him  . The Apostle, the Evangelist, the Prophet combine to silence your objections. Isaiah did see God; even though it is written, No one hath seen God at any time, save the Only-begotten Son Who is in the bosom of the Father; He hath declared Him  , it was God Whom the prophet saw. He gazed upon the Divine glory, and men were filled with envy at such honour vouchsafed to his prophetic greatness. For this was the reason why the Jews passed sentence of death upon him.
34. Thus the Only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, has told us of God, Whom no man has seen. Either disprove the fact that the Son has thus informed us, or else believe Him Who has been seen, Who appeared to them who knew Him not, and became the God of the Gentiles who called not upon Him and spread out His hands before a gainsaying people. And believe this also concerning Him, that they who serve Him are called by a new name, and that on earth men bless Him and swear by Him as true God. Prophecy tells, the Gospel confirms, the Apostle explains, the Church confesses, that He Who was seen is true God; but none venture to say that God the Father was seen. And yet the madness of heresy has run to such lengths that, while they profess to recognise this truth, they really deny it. They deny it by means of the newfangled and godless device of evading the truth, while making a studied pretence of adhesion to it. For when they confess one God, alone true and alone righteous, alone wise, alone unchangeable, alone immortal, alone mighty, they attach to Him a Son different in substance, not born from God to be God, but adopted through creation to be a Son, having the name of God not by nature, but as a title received by adoption; and thus they inevitably deprive the Son of all those attributes which they accumulate upon the Father in His lonely majesty.
35. The distorted mind of heresy is incapable of knowing and confessing the One true God; the sound faith and reason necessary for such confession is incompatible with unbelief. We must confess Father and Son before we can apprehend God as One and true. When we have known the mysteries of man's salvation, accomplished in us through the power of regeneration unto life in the Father and the Son, then we may hope to penetrate the mysteries of the Law and the Prophets. Godless ignorance of the teaching of Evangelists and Apostles cannot frame the thought of One true God. Out of the teaching of Evangelists and Apostles we shall present the sound doctrine concerning Him, in accurate agreement with the faith of true believers. We shall present Him in such wise that the Only-begotten, Who is of the substance of the Father, shall be known as indivisible and inseparable in nature, not in Person. We shall set forth God as One, because God is from the nature of God. But we shall also establish this doctrine of the perfect unity of God upon the words of the Prophets, and make them the foundations of the Gospel structure, proving that there is One God, with one Divine nature, by the fact that God the Only-begotten is never classed apart as a second God. For throughout this book of our treatise we have followed the same course as in its predecessor; the same methods which proved there that the Son is God, have proved here that He is true God. I trust that our explanation of each passage has been so convincing that we have now manifested Him as true God as effectually as we formerly demonstrated His Godhead. The remainder of the book shall be devoted to the proof that He, Who is now recognised as true God, must not be regarded as a second God. Our disproof of the notion of a second God will further establish the unity; and this truth shall be displayed as not inconsistent with the personal existence of the Son, while yet it maintains the unity of nature in God and God.
36. The true method of our enquiry demands that we should begin with him, through whom God first manifested Himself to the world, that is, with Moses, by whose mouth God the Only-begotten thus declared Himself; See, see that I am God, and there is no God beside Me  . That godless heresy must not assign these words to God, the unbegotten Father, is clear by the sense of the passage and by the evidence of the Apostle who, as we have already stated  , has taught us to understand this whole discourse as spoken by God the Only-begotten. The Apostle also points out the words, Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people  as those of the Son, and in corroboration further cites this:--And there shall be a root of Jesse, and One that shall arise to rule the nations; in Him shall the nations trust  . Thus Moses by the words, Rejoice, O ye nations, with His people indicates Him Who said, There is no God beside Me; and the Apostle refers the same words to our Lord Jesus Christ, God the Only-begotten, in Whose rising as a king from the root of Jesse, according to the flesh, the hope of the Gentiles rests. And therefore we must now consider the meaning of these words, that we, who know that they were spoken by Him, may ascertain in what sense He spoke them.
37. That true and absolute and perfect doctrine, which forms our faith, is the confession of God from God and God in God, by no bodily process but by Divine power, by no transfusion from nature into nature but through the secret and mighty working of the One nature; God from God, not by division or extension or emanation, but by the operation of a nature which brings into existence, by means of birth, a nature One with itself. The facts shall receive a fuller treatment in the next book, which is to be devoted to an exposition of the teaching of the Evangelists and Apostles; for the present we must maintain our assertion and belief by means of the Law and the Prophets. The nature with which God is born is necessarily the same as that of His Source. He cannot come into existence as other than God, since His origin is from none other than God. His nature is the same, not in the sense that the Begetter also was begotten--for then the Unbegotten, having been begotten, would not be Himself--but that the substance of the Begotten consists in all those elements which are summed up in the substance of the Begetter, Who is His only Origin. Thus it is due to no external cause that His origin is from the One, and that His existence partakes the Unity; there is no novel element in Him, because His life is from the Living; no element absent, because the Living begot Him to partake His own life. Hence, in the generation of the Son, the incorporeal and unchangeable God begets, in accordance with His own nature, God incorporeal and unchangeable; and this perfect birth of incorporeal and unchangeable God from incorporeal and unchangeable God involves, as we see in the light of the revelation of God from God, no diminution of the Begetter's substance. And so God the Only-begotten bears witness through the holy Moses; See, see that I am God, and there is no God beside Me. For there is no second Divine nature, and so there can be no God beside Him, since He is God, yet by the powers of His nature God is also in Him. And because He is God and God is in Him, there is no God beside Him; for God, than Whom there is no other Source of Deity, is in Him, and consequently there is within Him not only His own existence, but the Author of that existence.
38. This saving faith which we profess is sustained by the spirit of prophecy, speaking with one voice through many mouths, and never, through long and changing ages, bearing an uncertain witness to the truths of revelation. For instance, the words which, as we are told through Moses, were spoken by God the Only-begotten, are confirmed for our better instruction by the prophetic spirit, speaking this time through those men of stature,--For God is in Thee, and there is no God beside Thee. Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour. Let heresy fling itself with its utmost effort of despair and rage against this declaration of a name and nature inseparably joined, and rend in twain, if its furious struggles can, a union perfect in title and in fact. God is in God and beside Him there is no God. Let heresy, if it can, divide the God within from the God within Whom He is, and classify, Each after His kind, the members of that mystic union. For when He says God is in Thee, He teaches that the true nature of God the Father is present in God the Son; for we must understand that it is the God Who is  that is in Him. And when He adds, And there is no God beside Thee, He shews that outside Him there is no God, since God's dwelling is within Himself. And the third assertion, Thou art God and we knew it not, sets forth for our instruction what must be the confession of the devout and believing soul. When it has learnt the mysteries of the Divine birth, and the name Emmanuel which the angel announced to Joseph, it must cry, Thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel, the Saviour. It must recognise the subsistence of the Divine nature in Him, inasmuch as God is in God, and the nonexistence of any other God except the true. For, He being God and God being in Him, the delusion of another God, of what kind soever, must be surrendered. Such is the message of the prophet Isaiah; he bears witness to the indivisible and inseparable Godhead of Father and of Son.
39. Jeremiah also, a prophet equally inspired, has taught that God the Only-begotten is of a nature one with that of God the Father. His words are:--This is our God, and there shall be none other likened unto Him, Who hath found out all the way of knowledge, and hath given it unto Jacob His servant, and to Israel His beloved. Afterward He was seen upon earth, and dwelt among men  . Why try to transform the Son of God into a second God? Learn to recognise and to confess the One True God. No second God is likened to Christ, and so can claim to be God. He is God from God by nature and by birth, for the Source of His Godhead is God. And, again, He is not a second God, for no other is likened unto Him; the truth that is in Him is nothing else than the truth of God. Why link together, in pretended devotion to the unity of God, true and false, base and genuine, unlike and unlike? The Father is God and the Son is God. God is in God; beside Him there is no God, and none other is likened unto Him so as to be God. If in these Two you shall recognise the Unity, instead of the solitude, of God, you will share the Church's faith, which confesses the Father in the Son. But if, in ignorance of the heavenly mystery, you insist that God is One in order to enforce the doctrine of His isolation, then you are a stranger to the knowledge of God, for you deny that God is in God.
E-mail to: BELIEVE
The main BELIEVE web-page (and the index to subjects) is at: BELIEVE Religious Information Source - By Alphabet http://mb-soft.com/believe/indexaz.html