Cyril of Alexandria, Commentary on John, LFC 43, 48 (1874/1885) Book 1. pp. 6-129.
[Translated by P. E. Pusey]
CHAPTERS IN BOOK I.
CHAPTER 1. That Everlasting and before the ages is the Only-Begotten, on the words, In the beginning was the Word.
CHAPTER 2. That the Son being Consubstantial with the Father is also God in His own Person, even as also the Father, on the words, And the Word was with God.
CHAPTER 3. That the Son is also God by Nature, in nowise either inferior to, or unlike the Father, on the words, And the Word was God.
CHAPTER 4. Against those who dare to say, that the conceived and natural Word in God the Father is one, and He that is called Son by the Divine Scriptures another (such is the misconceit of Eunomius' party), on the words, This was in the beginning with God.
CHAPTER 5. That the Son is by Nature Creator with the Father, as being of His Essence, and not taken to Him as a minister, on the words, All things were made by Him.
CHAPTER 6. That the Son is by Nature Life, and therefore not originate, but of the Essence of God the Father, on the words, That which was made, in it was Life.
CHAPTER 7. That the Son is by Nature Light, and therefore not originate, but of the Essence of God the Father as Very Light' from Very Light, on the words, And the Life was the Light of men.
CHAPTER 8. That the Son of God alone is Very Light, the creature not at all, being participate of Light, as originate, on the words, He was the Very Light.
CHAPTER 9. That the soul of man does not exist prior to the body, nor is the embodiment a consequence of former sins, as some say, on the words, He was the Very Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world: He was in the world.
CHAPTER 10. That the Only-begotten is alone by Nature the Son from the Father, as being of Him and in Him, on the words, No man hath seen God at any time. |7
Archbishop of Alexandria.
Exact of a truth, and God-taught is the mind of the holy Evangelists, from the splendour of their power to behold, as from some lofty mountain-spur and watch-peak, on all sides observing what is of profit to the hearers, and tracking with intent zeal whatever may seem to be of profit to those who thirst after the truth of the Divine dogmas and with good purpose search after the mind that is hidden in the Divine Scriptures. For not in those who search too curiously, and take pleasure in the many-tangled wiles of reasonings, rather than rejoice in the truth, does the Spirit make His revelation, since neither does He enter into a malicious soul, nor otherwise does He suffer His precious 'pearls to be rolled at the feet of swine. But with exceeding pleasure does He have fellowship with simpler minds, as having a more guileless motion, and shunning superfluous subtleties, whereto specially pertains the meeting with sudden fear, and from too great turning aside unto the right hand to err from the straight and royal road. For he that walketh simply walketh surely, as saith Solomon.
But while the holy Evangelists have a marvellous exactness in writing (for it is not they that speak, as the Saviour saith, but the Spirit of the Father which is in them): reasonably may one grant that the Book of John has been composed beyond all marvel, looking both to the supereminence of his thoughts, the keenness of his intellect, and the constant and |8 close-succeeding cumulation of conceptions. For course-fellows are they one with, another in the exposition of the Divine dogmas, and loosing as it were from the starting line they course charioteers to one goal. But a diverse fashion of speech is wrought out by them, and they appear to me to resemble persons, who are ordered to come together unto one city, but care not to approach it by one and the same beaten road. Thus one may see the other Evangelists with great exactness giving the account of our Saviour's genealogy in the Flesh, and bringing down step by step those from Abraham unto Joseph, or again carrying up those from Joseph to Adam. But we find the blessed John not caring to be over-studious about these, but with a most fervent and fire-full motion of intellect endeavouring to lay hold of those very things that are above human mind, and daring to explain the unspeakable and unutterable Generation of God the Word. For he knew that the glory of God hideth speech, and greater than our idea and utterance is the God-befitting dignity, and hard to utter and most difficult of unfolding are the properties of the Divine Nature.
But since it was necessary in some sort to mete out heaven with the span, and to suffer the scant measures of human nature to approach to what is by all unattainable and hard to be explained, that the approach might not be opened out for those who teach otherwise to come against the more simple, in that no voice of the saints who have been eyewitnesses and ministers of the word held in check their ill-surmisings, keen comes he to the very essence of the Divine dogmas, crying aloud, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word, was with God and the Word was God: the Same was in the beginning with God.
But I think that those who are engaged on the Holy Scriptures ought to admit all writings that are honest and good and free from harm. For thus collecting together the varied thoughts of many and bringing them together into one scope and understanding, they will mount up to a good measure of knowledge, and imitating the bee, wise workwoman, will compact the sweet honeycomb of the Spirit. |9
Some then of those of most research, say that after our Saviour's Cross and Ascension into Heaven, certain false shepherds and false teachers falling like wild beasts on the Saviour's flocks terrified them not a little, speaking out of their own heart, as it is written, and not out of the mouth of the Lord; yea rather, not merely out of their own heart, but out of the teachings of their own father, I mean the devil. For if no one can call Jesus Anathema, save in Beelzebub, how is not what we say of them clearly true? What things then are they which these men belched forth against their own head? They ignorantly and impiously affirmed that the Only-Begotten Word of God, the Eternal Light, in Whom we both move and are, was then first called into being, when He was born Man of the Holy Virgin, and taking this our common fashion, shewed Himself upon earth, as it is written, and conversed with men. On those then who are thus disposed, and who dare to slander the ineffable and eternal Generation of the Son, the word of the Prophet comes heavily, saying thus: But draw near hither, ye sons of the sorceress, the seed of the adulteress and the whore, against whom do ye sport yourselves? against whom make ye a wide mouth and draw out the tongue? not bringing forth good things out of a good heart, but spueing forth the venom of the blood-defiled dragon, of whom saith the Psalmist unto the one God That is over all: Thou brakest the heads of the dragons in the waters.
But since there was no slight disturbance in regard to these things amongst them that had believed, and the ill of the scandal thereof was consuming like a plague the souls of the simpler (for some drawn away from the true doctrines by their prattle imagined that the Word was then barely called to the beginning of Being, when He became Man), those of the believers who were wiser being assembled and met together, came to the Disciple of the Saviour (I mean this John) and declared the disease that was pressing upon the brethren, and unfolded to him the prattle of them that teach otherwise, and besought that he would both strenuously assist themselves with the illumination through the Spirit, |10 and stretch forth a saving hand to those who were already within the devil's meshes.
The disciple grieving then over them that were lost and corrupted in mind, and at the same time thinking it most unnatural to take no forethought for those that should succeed and come after, betakes himself to making the book: and the more human side, the genealogy of the legal and natural Birth according to the flesh, he left to the other Evangelists to tell at fuller length; himself with extreme ardour and courage of soul springs upon the prattle of those who are introducing such things, saying, IN THE BEGINNING WAS THE WORD. |11
CHAPTER I. That Everlasting and before the ages is the Only-Begotten.
What do they say to this [namely, In the beginning was the Word] who introduce to us the Son, as one new and of late, that so He may no longer be believed to be even God at all. For, says the Divine Scripture, there shall no new God be in thee. How then is He not new, if He were begotten in the last times? How did He not speak falsely when He said to the Jews, Verily I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am? For plain is it and confessed by all, that many ages after the blessed Abraham was Christ born of the Holy Virgin. How at all will the words was in the beginning remain and come to anything, if the Only-Begotten came into being at the close of the ages? See I pray by the following arguments too how great absurdity, this cutting short the Eternal Being of the Son, and imagining that He came into being in the last times, yields.
But this same word of the Evangelist shall be proposed again for a finer test:
In the Beginning was the Word.
Than the beginning is there nothing older, if it have, retained to itself, the definition of the beginning (for a beginning of beginning there cannot be); or it will wholly depart from being in truth a beginning, if something else be imagined before it and arise before it. Otherwise, if anything can precede what is truly beginning, our language respecting it will go off to infinity, another beginning ever cropping up before, and making second the one under investigation.
There will then be no beginning of beginning, according to exact and true reasoning, but the account of it will recede unto the long-extended and incomprehensive. And |12 since its ever-backward flight has no terminus, and reaches up to the limit of the ages, the Son will be found to have been not made in time, but rather invisibly existing with the Father: for in the beginning was He. But if He was in the beginning, what mind, tell me, can over-leap the force of the was? When will the was stay as at its terminus, seeing that it ever runs before the pursuing reasoning, and springs forward before the conception that follows it?
Astonishment-stricken whereat the Prophet Isaiah says, Who shall declare His generation? for His Life is lifted from the earth. For verily lifted from the earth is the tale of the generation of the Only-Begotten, that is, it is above all understanding of those who are on the earth and above all reason, so as to be in short inexplicable. But if it is above our mind and speech, how will He be originate, seeing that our understanding is not powerless to clearly define both as to time and manner things originate?
To look in another way at the same, In the Beginning was the Word.
It is not possible to take beginning, understood in any way of time, of the Only-Begotten, seeing that He is before all time and hath His Being before the ages, and, yet more, the Divine Nature, shuns the limit of a terminus. For It will be ever the same, according to what is sung in the Psalms, But Thou art the Same and Thy years shall have no end. From what beginning then measured in respect of time and dimension will the Son proceed, Who endureth not to hasten to any terminus, in that He is God by Nature, and therefore crieth, I am the Life? For no beginning will ever be conceived of by itself that does not look to its own end, since beginning is so called in reference to end, end again in reference to beginning. But the beginning we are pointing to in this instance is that relating to time and dimension. Hence, since the Son is elder than the ages themselves, He will be free of any generation in time; and He ever was in the Father as in a Source, according to that which |13 He Himself said, I came forth from the Father and am come. The Father then being considered as the Source, the Word was in Him, being His Wisdom and Power and Express Image and Radiance and Likeness. And if there was no time when the Father was without Word and Wisdom and Express Image and Radiance, needs is it to confess too that the Son Who is all these to the Everlasting Father, is Everlasting. For how at all is He Express Image, how Exact Likeness, except He be plainly formed after that Beauty, Whose Likeness He also is?
Nor is it any objection to conceive of the Son being in the Father as in a Source: for the word source here only means the "whence." But the Son is in the Father, and of the Father, not as made externally, nor in time, but being in the Essence of the Father and flashing forth from Him, as from the sun its radiance, or as from fire its innate heat. For in such examples, one may see one thing generated of another, but yet ever co-existing and inseparable, so that one cannot exist of itself apart from the other, and yet preserve the true condition of its own nature. For how can there be sun which has not radiance, or how radiance without sun being within to irradiate it? how fire, if it have not heat? whence heat, save from fire, or from some other thing not removed from the essential quality of fire? As then in these, the in-existence of the things that are of them does not take away their co-existence, but indicates the things generated ever keeping pace with their generators and possessed of one nature so to speak with them, so too is it with the Son. For even if He be conceived and said to be in the Father and of the Father, He will not come before us as alien and strange and a Being second to Him, but as in Him and co-existing ever, and shining forth from Him, according to the ineffable mode of the Divine generation.
But that God the Father is spoken of by the saints too as the Beginning of the Son in the sense only of "whence," hear the Psalmist through the Holy Ghost foretelling the second Appearance of our Saviour and saying as to the Son: With Thee the Beginning in the Day of Thy Power in the beauty of |14 Thy Saints. For the day of the Son's Power is that whereon He shall judge the world and render to every one according to his works. Yerily shall He then come, Himself in the Father, and having in Himself the Father, the so to say unbeginning Beginning of His Nature in regard only to the "whence," by reason of His Being of the Father.
In the Beginning was the Word.
Unto many and various ideas does our discourse respecting the here signified beginning diversify itself, on all sides zealous to capture things that tend to profit, and after the manner of a hound, tracking the true apprehension of the Divine dogmas, and exactitude in the mysteries. For search, saith the Saviour, the Holy Scriptures, for in them ye think ye have eternal life, and they are they which testify of Me. The Blessed Evangelist, then, seems here to name the Father Ἀρχὴ 1, that is the Power over all, that the Divine Nature Which is over all may be shewn, having under Its feet every thing which is originate, and borne above those things which are by It called into being.
In this Ἀρχὴ then that is above all and over all was the Word, not, with all things, under Its feet, but apart from all things, in It by Nature as Its Co-Eternal Fruit, having the Nature of Him Who begat Him as it were a place the most ancient of all. Wherefore He Begotten Free of Free Father, will with Him possess the Sovereignty over all. What then now too will be the nature of the argument in this, it is meet to see.
Hazardful have certain, as we said above, asserted that the Word of God was then first called into being, when taking the Temple that is of the Holy Virgin He became Man for us. What then will be the consequence, if the Son's Nature be thus, or originate and made and of like nature with all things else, to which birth out of not being, and the name and fact of servitude, are rightfully and truly predicated? For what of things that are made can with impunity escape servitude under the God That is Lord of all? |15 what does not stoop under the sovereignty and power and lordship that is over all, which Solomon himself too signifies to us when he says, For the throne of Sovereignty is established with righteousness? For ready and exceeding prepared unto righteousness is the Throne of the Sovereignty, that I mean which is over all. And what throne that is of which we are now speaking, hear God saying by one of the Saints, The Heaven is My Throne. Ready therefore unto righteousness is the Heaven, that is, the holy spirits in the heavens.
Since then one must needs confess that the Son is with the rest of the creatures subject to God the Father, as having the position of a servant, and together with the rest falling under the authority of the Ἀρχὴ, if He be according to them late in Birth and one of those who have been made in time:----of necessity does the Blessed Evangelist spring with energy on those who teach otherwise, and withdraw the Son from all bondage. And he shews that He is of the Essence that is Free and Sovereign over all, and declares that He is in Him by Nature saying, In the beginning was the Word.
But to the word Ἀρχὴ he fitly annexes the was, that He may be thought of as not only of renown, but also before the ages. For the word was is here put, carrying on the idea of the thinker to some deep and incomprehensible Generation, the Ineffable Generation that is outside of time. For that was, spoken indefinitely, at what point will it rest, its nature being ever to push forward before the pursuing mind, and whatever point of rest any might suppose that it has, that it makes the starting point of its further course? The Word was then in the Ἀρχὴ, that is in Sovereignty over all things, and possessing the dignity of Lord, as being by Nature from It. But if this be true, how is He any longer originate or made? And where the was wholly is, how will the "was not" come in, or what place will it have at all as regards the Son? |16
CHAPTER II. That the Son being Consubstantial with the Father is also God in His Own Person, even as also the Father.
And the Word was with God.
Having sufficiently shewn that already out of date and astray from the truth is the senseless mind of those who hold such opinions, and having, by saying In the beginning was the Word, closed every loophole to those who say that the Son is of the things that are not, and having utterly stripped off all their nonsense in these words, he goes to another akin and most perverse heresy. And like as some gardener at once most excellent and enduring, delights much in the toils of the mattock, and girding his loins, and in the working-dress befitting him, gives all diligence to present the appearance of his park free from the unseemliness of thorns, and ceases not throwing one upon another, and, ever going round about, removes the troublesome root, applying the stern tooth of the mattock; so the blessed John too, bearing in his mind the quick and powerful and most sharp word of God and considering with keenest glance and clearest attention the bitter shoots of the naughtiness of those who think otherwise, comes upon them so to speak at a run, and with mighty resolution cuts them off on every side, to those who read his books ministering defence in the right faith.
For see now again I pray, the vigilance of this bearer within him of the Spirit. He taught in the foregoing, that the Word was in Ἀρχὴ, that is, in God the Father, as we said. But since, with the eye of his understanding illumined, he was not ignorant, as we may suppose, that certain would arise, of their great ignorance saying that the Father and Son are one and the same, and distinguishing the Holy Trinity only |17 by name, but not suffering Them to exist in Their several Persons, so that the Father should be conceived of as in truth Father and not Son, the Son again to be by Himself Son, not Father, as the word of truth is:----needs against this heresy too as already confronting him, and mooted at that time, or about so to be, does he arm himself, and for its destruction, by the side of In the beginning was the Word he puts forthwith, And the Word was with God: every where adding of necessity the was on account of His Generation before the ages, yet by saying that the Word was with God, shewing that the Son is One, having existence by Himself, God the Father again, with Whom was the Word, Another. For how can that which is one in number be conceived of as itself with itself, or beside itself?
But that the reasoning of the heretics about these things also will be found without learning, we will teach by the considerations below, making an exact test of the questions regarding it.
Proof by demonstration and Scripture testimonies, that the Father is in His Own Person, and the Son likewise, the Holy Ghost being counted with Them as God, even though nothing is for the present enquired into regarding Him.
Consubstantial is the Son with the Father and the Father with the Son, wherefore They arrive at an unchangeable Likeness, so that the Father is seen in the Son, the Son in the Father, and Each flashes forth in the Other, even as the Saviour Himself says, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and again, I in the Father and the Father in Me. But even though He be in the Father, and have again the Father in Him, Himself full well, as has been already said, perfectly exact unto the Form of Him Who begat Him, and depicting again in Himself without any shortcome, the Father whence He is:----not therefore will He be deprived of His separate existence, nor will the Father lose His own special Being; but neither will the surpassing Likeness and Resemblance work any confusion of Persons, so that the Father Who begat and the Son Who is Begotten of Him should be considered as one |18 in number. But sameness of Nature will be confessed of Both, yet the Individual Existence of Each will surely follow, so that both the Father should be conceived of as indeed Father, and the Son as Son. For thus, the Holy Ghost being numbered with them and counted as God, the Holy and Adorable Trinity will have Its Proper Fullness.
Another. If the Son Himself is Father too, what place has the distinction of names? For if He begat not at all, why is He called Father? How Son, if He were not begotten of the Father? For the Names ask as of necessity such an idea regarding them. But since the Divine Scriptures preach that the Son was Begotten, and the truth is so, He has therefore an existence by Himself. The Father too is again by Himself, if indeed that which is begotten is plainly one thing from another as regards that which begets.
Another. The blessed Paul writing his letter to the Philippians says of the Son, Who being in the Form of God, thought it not robbery to be Equal with God. Who then is He Who would not that His being Equal with God should be thought robbery? For must one not needs say, that One is He Who is in the Form of God, Another again He Whose Form it was? But this is clear and confessed by all. Therefore not one and the same in number are Father and Son, but of distinct Being and beheld in One Another, according to sameness of Essence, even if They be One of One, to wit the Son of the Father.
Another. I and My Father are One, said the Saviour, as knowing, that is, that Himself has a separate existence and the Father too. But if the truth of the fact be not so, why did He not, keeping what belongs to oneness, say, I and My Father am One? But since He explains what He means by the plural number, clearly He overthrows the surmise of those who think otherwise. For we are will not be with sense taken of one.
Another. At the fashioning of man the voice of God is introduced saying, Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our likeness. If then the amplitude, if I may so call it, of |19 the Holy Trinity is contracted into a One in number, and they impiously take away from the Father and the Son Their separate Existence: who is he who says, and to whom, Let us make man in Our Image? For He ought forsooth to say, if it be as they in their silly nonsense say, Let us make man in my image, after my likeness. But now the writer of the Book, not saying this indeed, but allotting the creation to the plural number and adding Our image, well-nigh with clear and mighty voice proclaims the enumeration of the Holy Trinity to be above One.
Another. If the Son is the Brightness of the Father, as Light of Light, how is He not other than Him, as of distinct Being? For that which is the embrightened, is so in very deed from other, that namely which brightens it, and not itself from itself.
Another. The Son shewing Himself of the Essence of God the Father says again, I came forth from the Father and am come; again I go to the Father. How then will He not be Other than the Father in Person and number, when all reason persuades us to conceive of that which proceeds from ought as other than that from whence it proceeded? Not true therefore is the contrary argument.
Another. Believing in God the Father, in His Only-Begotten Son, and in the Holy Ghost we are justified. Wherefore the Saviour Himself too enjoins His own Disciples saying Go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. If then the difference of the Names is to contribute nothing to our conception, but when one says the Father, he means the Son, and in naming the Son makes mention of the Father, what need was there of bidding that the believers should be baptized not into Unity but into Trinity? But since the tale of the Divine Nature runs forth into the number three, it is I suppose wholly manifest to all that Each of those so numbered exists in His Own Person, but by reason of there being no change in the Nature, It arrives at One Godhead and has the same worship.
Another. The Divine Scripture says that the cities of the |20 Sodomites were burned by the Anger of God, and explaining how the Divine wrath was brought upon them, and clearly describing the mode of the destruction, The Lord, it says, rained upon Sodom brimstone and fire from, the Lord, since this too is the portion of the cup most befitting those who are wont to commit such sins. What Lord then from what Lord sent the fire on and consumed the cities of the Sodomites? It is clear that it was the Father Who worketh all things through the Son, since He is too His Might and His Arm, Who caused Him to rain the fire upon the Sodomites. Since therefore the Lord sends the fire from the Lord upon them, how is not the Father Other, in respect to His own Being, than the Son,, and the Son again than the Father? For the One is here signified as being from One.
Another. Moved by prophetic spirit, and through it foreknowing things to come, the blessed Psalmist had perceived that the human race could no otherwise be saved, except by the alone Appearing of the Son of God, Who is able easily to trans-order all things to whatsoever He will. Wherefore he besought that the Son might be sent to us, as alone able to save those who were under subjection and oppression of the devil, and said, as though to God the Father, O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth. What then the Light is, and what the Truth, hear the Son Himself saying, I am the Light and I am the Truth. But if the Light and the Truth of the Father, that is the Son, be sent to us, how is He not Other than He, as far as His own Being, even if He be One with Him as regards Sameness of Essence? For if any imagine that it is not so, but that Father and Son are one and the Same, why does not he who bears within him the Spirit make the fashion of his prayer different and cry, Come to us, O Light and Truth? But since he says O send out, plainly he knew that One is the Sender, Another the Sent: be the mode of the Sending conceived of as befits God.
Another. The Divine Scriptures say, that through the Son were made all things that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, and thus believing, we the worshippers of the truth go on our way in rightness of conception, |21 and within the dogmas of piety. Let us then scrutinize the expression through the Son, and examine what sense it gives us. It is clear that it would have us conceive of the Doer and Worker as One, Him through Whom all things are wrought as Another. For the expression through the Son gives, as of necessity, a sort of exhibition of two Persons. Else let them say how the word through the Son in His being said to do anything, will rightly and truly admit the one in number and in the reckoning thereto pertaining, if none other be conceived of with Him and concurring with Him. But I suppose that our opponent will be wholly at a loss. But since both the Divine Scriptures proclaim that the Father hath wrought all things through the Son, and we believe it and I suppose that they too: how is it not of necessity to conceive that the Father exists separately and by Himself, and in like manner the Son, nor does this any way overthrow the fact that the Holy Trinity is seen in sameness of Essence. |22
CHAPTER III. That the Son is both God by Nature and in no wise either inferior to or unlike the Father.
And the Word was God.
He who bare within him the Spirit was not ignorant that there should arise some in the last times who should accuse the Essence of the Only Begotten and deny the Lord that bought them, by supposing that the Word Who appeared from God the Father is not by Nature God, but should bring in besides Him some so to speak spurious and false-called god, having about him the name of Sonship and Deity, but not so in truth. Such do they, who give the Jewish impiety of Arius an abode in their own mind; wherefore they put forth out of a dead heart, no life-giving word of pious thought, but that which looketh and tendeth unto death. Their tongue verily is as an arrow shot out; deceitful the words of their mouth.
As though then some one were already resisting the words of truth, and were almost saying to the Holy Evangelist; The Word was with God, Sir, be it so, we agree fully to what you have written as to this. Be the Father and Exist He separately, and the Son likewise. What now ought one to suppose that the Word is by Nature? for His Being with God, does not at all reveal His Essence. But since the Divine Scriptures proclaim One God, we will allot this to the Father only, with Whom the Word was. What then replies Truth's herald? Not only was the Word with God, but He was also God, that through His being with God, He might be known to be Other than the Father and might be believed to be Son distinct and by Himself; through being |23 God, He might be conceived of as Consubstantial and of Him by Nature, as being both God and coming forth from God. For it were inconceivable, since the Godhead is by all confessed to be One, that the Holy Trinity should not in every wise arrive at Sameness of Essence and so reach one relation of Godhead. He was then also God. He did not become so at last, but He was, if indeed eternal being will most specially and surely follow on being God: for that which became in time, or was at all brought from not being into being, will not be by Nature God.
Seeing then that God the Word has Eternity through the word was, Consubstantiality with the Father through being God, how great punishment and vengeance must we needs think that they shall be found to incur, who think that He is in ought whatever inferior, or unlike Him who begat Him, and shudder not to go forward to that height of impiety, as even to dare to utter such things to others also, understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm?
But that the Son Who is of Him of a truth is in no wise inferior to the Father, we shall know again from the accompanying considerations.
Another. By many and varied names do the Divine Scriptures call the Son. For they say that He is the Wisdom and Power of the Father, according to what is said by Paul, Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God. He is called again both His Light and His Truth, as is sung in the Psalms by one of the Saints, O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth. He is called also Righteousness, as, Quicken me in Thy Righteousness: for the Father quickens in Christ those who believe on Him. He is called also the Counsel of the Father, as it is said, Thou shalt guide me with Thy Counsel, and again, The Counsel of the Lord standeth for ever. Since then the Son is all these to God the Father, let them tell us who fawn on the error of Arius and are filled with that man's folly, how He is lesser than He. For if they be right, it is time to say that the Father is not wholly wise, not wholly Mighty, not wholly Light, not wholly Truth, not wholly Righteous, yea, not even Perfect |24 in Counsel, if the Son Who is all these to Him, by reason of being inferior is shewn to be not Perfect. But to think or say thus is impious. Perfect is the Father, because He has all things perfectly in Himself: Perfect then clearly the Son too, the Wisdom and the Power, the Light and the Truth, the Righteousness and the Counsel of the Father. But He Who fulfilleth Perfection in His own Father, how can He be conceived of as inferior?
Another. If the Son having inferiority to God the Father, is worshipped both by us and by the Holy Angels, we shall be taken in the act of serving two gods, since that which lacks perfection will never attain to sameness of essence with the Perfect; but vast is the difference sundering unto alienship things unlike as regards their nature. But the faith is not in plurality of gods, but One is God the Father, the Son and Holy Ghost attaining unto unity with Him. The charge against the Son then comes to nothing. For how yet will that which is inferior be admitted into unity with the Perfect Father, and be united as to Nature in unity of Essence?
Another. If the Son is fulness (for of His fulness have all we received) how will what is inferior have a place? for things that are contrary to one another are irreconcileable in one subject at the same time.
Another. If the Son who has the lesser filleth all things, where will the greater of the Father have place? For the argument shall be used in more corporeal form, in the way of example, while the superiority and inferiority in the unembodied is otherwise conceived of.
Another. If God is That Which is above every name, and the Son Who is His Heir attains not to be Perfect by reason of the lesser, there is no greatness in that which is above all things, that is God. But it is absurd either to think or to say this: Perfect therefore is the Son, as being above every name, and God.
Another. If the Divine Nature is without quantity, and the lesser is cognizant of degree, how can the Son Who is by Nature God be conceived of as inferior? For He will |25 not be beyond the province of quantity, if they say that He has inferiority to the Father.
Another. The blessed John says of the Son that 2 He giveth not the Spirit by measure, to those that is who are worthy. Since then there is not measure in the Son, He is immeasurable, and surpasses all comprehension in quantity as being God. How then is the not-measured less?
Another. If the Son is lesser, the Father greater, differently, it is plain, and in proportion to the measures that Either hath, will they contribute to our sanctification. And the Father will sanctify in a greater degree, the Son in a less and separately. The Spirit therefore will be twofold, and less in the Son, greater in the Father. And they who are sanctified by the Father will be sanctified perfectly, they who by the Son, not perfectly. But great is the absurdity of reasoning herein. For One is the Holy Ghost, one and perfect the Sanctification, freely given by the Father through the Son Naturally. Not lesser then is He Who has the same operation with the Perfect Father, and Who has the Spirit of Him Who begat Him, a good of His own Nature, Living and inexisting, even as the Father hath.
Another. If the Son were in the Form and Equality of God, as Paul saith, how is He lesser that He? For the mode of the dispensation with Flesh and the humiliation thereupon mentioned, which has the Second Appearance from Heaven as its termination, will not, I suppose, bare the Son of the dignity by Nature belonging to Him. For He will surely come, as we heard Him say, in the glory of His Father. How then is he at all in the glory of the Perfect Father who is inferior to Him?
Another. God the Father is somewhere found to say by one of the prophets, I will not give My glory unto another. We must ask therefore those who impiously dishonour the Son, nay rather through Him the Father too (for he that honoureth not the Son, neither doth he honour the Father), |26 whether the Son being, as they suppose, less than God the Father is Consubstantial with Him, or no? If then they shall say that He is Consubstantial, why do they for nought put on Him the less? For things that are of the same essence and nature, will never have the greater in themselves, as regards the mode of their being: for this altogether is it that is under consideration.
But they will not perhaps agree, nor will grant that the Son is Consubstantial with the Father, He being according to them less: He will therefore be wholly other and alien from the Father. How then has He His glory? For there was given Him, says blessed Daniel, glory and a kingdom. For either God the Father will lie in saying, I will not give My glory unto another: or if He is true, and did give His glory to the Son, then is He not other than He, the Fruit of His Essence and His True Offspring. And He Who is so situated towards the Father in regard of Essence, how will He be less than He?
Others, simple and without connection. If the Father is Almighty, and the Son likewise Almighty, how is He lesser than He? for I do not suppose that according to the law of sequence, the imperfect will mount up to the measure of the perfect. And if the Father is Lord, and the Son likewise Lord; how is He less than He? For He will be not perfectly free, if He be less in lordship, and have not the full dignity in Himself. And if the Father be Light, and the Son likewise Light, how is He less than He? For He will be not perfectly Light, but will be in part comprehended by darkness, and the Evangelist will lie in saying, The darkness comprehended it not. And if the Father is Life, and the Son likewise Life, how is He less than He? For in us life will not exist in perfect measure, even if Christ dwell in the inner man: but they who believe are still to some degree dead, if so be that the Son having the less, is not perfectly life. But since one must needs put as far away as possible the absurdity of this, we say that Perfect is the Son, being . made equal to the Perfect Father by reason of the exact Likeness of His Essence. |27
Another. If the Son be less than the Father, and therefore not Consubstantial; He is as a consequence other by nature and wholly alien: hence He is not Son, yea not even God at all. For how will he be called Son who is not of the Father, or how will he be any longer God who is not of God by Nature? But since our faith is in the Son, we are still it seems in error, not knowing the True God. But this is absurd. Believing therefore in the Son, we believe in the Father too and in the Holy Ghost. The Son is not therefore alien from God the Father as lesser, but has unity with Him, by reason of being of Him by Nature, and is therefore both Equal and Perfect.
Another. If God the Word Who beamed forth from God the Father is in truth Son, of necessity must our opponents even against their will confess that He is of the Essence of the Father; for this is what sonship in truth means. Then how is Such inferior to the Father, if He be Fruit of His Essence, Which is nowise receptive of the lesser within Itself? For all things are in perfect degree in God. But if He be not of the Essence of the Father, neither is He Son, but some counterfeit and falsely-called: yea neither will the Father Himself be rightly and truly called Father. For if there be no Son by Nature, on account of Whom He is Father, how is He conceived of as Father? But this is absurd, for God is Very Father; for so do all the Divine Scriptures cry aloud. He Who is of Him by Nature is therefore surely Son: if so, not lesser; for He is Consubstantial as Son.
Another. The name of family or fathership not God has of right from us, but we rather clearly received it from Him. And trusty is the word of Paul crying on this wise, Of Whom every family in heaven and earth is named. But since God is that which is most ancient of all, by imitation are we fathers, who are called to His Pattern by reason of our being made after His Image. Then how, tell me, are we who are made after His Likeness, by nature fathers of our own children, if this be not the case in the Archetype, after Which we too have been formed? How will any one |28 grant that the name of family or fathership passed even unto the rest from God, if He be not in very deed a Father? For, if it were so, the nature of the thing would be wholly overturned and we should rather give to Him to be called Father in imitation of us, than He give it to us. For this the argument will compel the heretic even against his will to admit. The witness therefore of the truth lies in saying that from Him is every family both in heaven and earth. But to say this is most absurd: for true is he who is bold to say, Do ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me? and from God does the name of family flow down to us also. He is therefore by Nature the Father of the Word, He begat Him in all respects not unlike Himself, through His having the lesser than whatever Himself has. For we who are made after an imitation of Him, do not so have those that are begotten of us, but altogether equal, as regards the nature.
Another. Let not the heretic manifold in arguments deal subtilly with the truth, nor confessing that the Word of God is Son, honour Him in mere words, saying that He is not of the Essence of the Father. For how is He Son at all, except He be so by Nature? Let them then either, stripping off the mask of hypocrisy, blaspheme openly, confessing that He is neither God nor Son: or if convicted by the whole Divine Scripture and wounded by the words of the Saints as by sling-stones they feel shame in presence of the truth, and say that He is Son and God, let them not think that He is lesser than He Who begat Him. For how will the Word, being God, admit of the lesser, compared to God the Father? although man too is both called and is son of man, yet will he not be inferior to his father so far as he is man. For man will not be greater or less than man, in respect of his being man, nor yet angel than angel, in regard of his being angel, nor ought else of things that are that is con-natural to any-thing whatsoever, and has a share of the same essence allotted to it. Therefore if He is truly Son, one must needs say that He is of the Essence of the Father, having all His Father's properties in Himself of Nature. And if the Father be God by Nature, God by Nature plainly is also the Word Who is |29 begotten of That Nature. How then will God be less than God in regard to being God?
Another. Whence, sirs, did ye get the daring to say that the Son is in lesser condition than He Who begat Him? How will He admit the lesser? As regards the date of being, no one I suppose, even though exceeding silly, would surmise. For before the ages is the Son, and Himself is the Maker of the ages: and it will be with reason conceived that He Who has His Generation elder than all time, will not be defined by time. But neither is He lesser than He in the dimension that belongs to size: for the Divine Nature is conceived of and is without size, dimension and body. How then is the lesser to be taken of Him Who is begotten? In glory, perhaps one will say, in power, in wisdom. Let them say then, how great and large the Father is herein (if one must speak thus), in order that the Son may be conceived of as less, when measured with Him? Or if the Father is in good inconceiveable and immeasurable, and that far outstrips the measure of our understanding, whence do the Arians, readily daring all things, say that the Son is lesser, to the overthrow of the dignity that belongs to Him by nature? For the lesser is proved by the juxtaposition of the greater; but if the Dignity of the Father is unmeasured, what is the proof of its diminution in the Son?
Another. One may indeed with truth reply to the abomination of the unholy heretics, Our enemies are without understanding. For how are they not full of all unlearning, understanding neither what they say nor whereof they affirm, as Paul saith? The reason why we think it needful to accuse them is this. If they say that the Son is of a truth begotten God of God the Father, and so believe, how is He lesser than the Father? For great absurdity of ideas will hence be generated, on every side containing blasphemy, and such that one would refuse only to hear them. For if the Son being God by Nature can any whit admit in Himself the lesser, we must needs at length conceive that there is something greater than God. The Essence then of the Father is not conceived of as being in Perfection of every |30 thing, even though He be by Nature God, but He will Himself progress in some direction towards the greater, convicted in the Son His Image that He Himself too is of the essence that admits the lesser. And He will suffer this virtually, even if He have not yet suffered it; since things that are capable of ought, will altogether admit the things whereof they are capable, and when the time calls them to suffer it, they will not refuse it. But great is the blasphemy that is apparent herein. For neither will the Father advance in any direction towards the greater, nor yet will He admit of the lesser, by reason that He is by Nature God. Therefore neither will the Son admit in Himself the lesser, in that He too is God by Nature, lest the syllable or two 2 which was devised by the unlearning of the heretics, should be imagined to be an accusal of the Essence that is above all.
Another. If the Word of God the Father being by Nature His Son is lesser than He, either in regard of God-befitting Dignity, or as not by Nature Unchangeable, or in any sort of inferiority, the accusal will be not so much of Him as of the Essence Whereof He is believed to be, if It altogether generate the lesser, or the worse, than Itself, although the originate and constructed creation would not endure to do such a thing. For everything that is fruit-bearing, brings forth what is wholly like itself. But if they say that the Divine Nature of the Father is above all passion, It will manifestly be beyond this charge, and being the Archetype of the good things that are in us, will beget the Son not lesser, but Equal and Consubstantial, lest the God That is so far above us be inferior even to us.
Another by the method of reductio ad absurdum. Christ shewing that He is Equal with God the Father says to His own Disciples, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. Then how will He that is by Nature Such, and so IS as Himself with truth declares, have the lesser, according to the uncounsel of some? For if being lesser He shews in Himself the Father, without any intervening change, the lesser will reach to the Father, as appearing in His Unchanged |31 Image, the Son. But this is absurd: therefore not lesser is the Son, in whom the Father being Perfect is imaged. Another. And how will the Son admit the lesser, than wherein is the Father, seeing that He says without blame, All things that the Father hath are Mine: and again, as to God the Father, All Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine? For if indeed the Son is, according to the uncounsel of some, lesser; since He speaks truth in saying to the Father, Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine, the lesser will make its way to the Father too, and likewise the greater to the Son, the order of things being indifferent, if what belongs to either are seen in the other, and whatsoever is the Father's, this is the Son's also, and again whatever appears as the special property of the Son, this is the Father's too. Nothing then will hinder our saying that the Father is lesser than the Son, and the Son greater than the Father. But this is most absurd only to conceive of: Equal therefore and not lesser is He Who hath the Prerogatives of Essence in common with the Father.
Another of the same. If all that the Father hath, are wholly the Son's, and the Father hath Perfection, Perfect will be the Son too, Who hath the properties and excellencies of the Father. Therefore is He not lesser, according to the impiety of the heretics.
Another by the method of reductio ad absurdum, with combination of arguments. Let them tell us who are pouring down the flame unquenchable on their own head, and who reject the uprightness that is in the Divine Dogmas, devising wiles of many-coloured arguments unto the deceiving and overthrow of the simpler, whether the Father is superior to the Son, having the greater in comparison with Him, if He be less, as they in their silly talk say, or not? But I entirely suppose that they will say, He is superior: or let them say what advantage the Father hath in possessing the greater, if He be not superior. For if nothing at all, the whole charge against the Son immediately comes to nought: but if there is any great difference, He is then superior, as having the greater. Let them answer then and tell us, if they are indeed wise, |32 why the Father begetting the Son, begat Him not Equal to Himself but lesser. For if it were clearly better to beget the Son in all things Equal to Himself, who hindered His doing it? For if there is ought that hindered as of necessity, they will admit even against their will, that there is somewhat greater than the Father. But if there were nothing at all to hinder, but having the power and knowing that it is better to beget the Son equal He begot Him lesser, this is plainly envy towards Him and an evil eye: for He chose not to give equality to the Son. Either then the Father is impotent in regard to His Begetting, or it will be evil eye, according to the result collected out of the arguments, if the Son have the lesser according to their account. But this is absurd; for the Divine and Untaint Nature is above all passion. Therefore not less is the Son, that He lose not the equality, the Father being in no wise powerless to beget His Offspring equal to Himself, nor yet hindered by evil eye from choosing the better.
Another. The Saviour Himself somewhere says that He is in the Father and the Father likewise in Him. But it is plain to every one, that we are not to suppose that like as one body is in another, or one vessel in another, so the Father is contained in the Son, or the Son again in some way placed in the Father: but One appears in the Other, and He in Him in the Unchanged Sameness of Essence, and in the Unity and Likeness that belongs to Nature. As though a person beholding his own form in an image were to say truly to any, and marvelling at the finished likeness of his figure to cry out, I am in this picture and this picture in me.
Or in another way:----As if the sweetness of the honey when laid on the tongue should say of itself, I am in the honey and the honey in me; or as though again the heat that proceeds naturally from fire, emitting a voice were to say, I am in the fire and the fire in me. For each of the things mentioned is I suppose divisible in idea, but one in nature, and the one proceeding by a sort of indivisible and continuous forthcome from the other, so as to seem to be even |33 severed from that wherein it is. Yet though the force of ideas regarding these things takes this form, still one appears in the other and both are the same as regards essence. If then by reason of the unchangeableness of Their Essence, and the entire exactness in express Image, the Father is in the Son, how will the greater find place and appear in the Son Who is according to them lesser? But since He is wholly in Him, altogether Perfect is the Son, Who is able to contain the Perfect and is the express Image of the Mighty Father. |34
CHAPTER IV. Against those who dare to say that the conceived and Natural word in God the Father is one, and He that is called Son by the Divine Scriptures another: such is the misconceit of Eunomius' party.
2 This was in the beginning with God.
The Evangelist herein made a sort of recapitulation of what had been already before said. But adding the word This, he is seen all-but crying aloud. He Who is in the beginning, the Word with the Father, He Who is God of God, He it is and none other, regarding Whom our august book is set forth. But he seems again not idly to add to what has been said the words, This was in the beginning with God. For he, enlightened by the Divine Spirit unto the knowledge of things to come, was not ignorant, as seems to me and as we may truly say, that certain would appear, perdition's workpeople, the devil's nets, death's snares leading down to the chambers and depth of hell those who from unlearning give heed to the things that them belch forth out of an evil heart. For they will rise up and be valiant against their own head, saying that one is the word that is conceived in God the Father, and that some other most similar and like to the conceived one, is the Son and Word through Whom God works all things; in order that He may be conceived of as word of word and image of image and radiance of radiance.
The Blessed Evangelist then, as though he had already heard them blaspheming and with reason stirred against the absurd follies of their writings, having already defined, and by many words, as was due, shewn that the Word is One, and Only and Very, of God and in God and with God, with |35 flashing eye he adds, This was in the beginning with God, as Son, that is, with the Father, as inborn, as of His Essence, as Only-Begotten; This, there being no second.
But since I deem that we ought, zealously declaring such impiety, to lay yet more open their blasphemy, for the greater security of the simpler ones (for he who has learnt it will give heed and will spring out of its reach, as though a serpent lurking in the midst of the path), needs will I expose their opinion, after the form of antithesis. For it shall receive its refutations in order, according to the modes which God who giveth wisdom to all shall grant.
Eunomius' opinion as to the Son of God.
"The Only-Begotten Son of God, says he, is not of very right His Word, but the conceived word of God the Father moves and is ever in Him; while the son who is said to have been begotten of Him, becoming recipient of his conceived word, knoweth all things from having learnt them and, after the likeness of the former, is called and is word."
Then in confirmation, as he imagines, of his blasphemy, he weaves some such arguments of perverted ideas, that, as it is written, the wretched man may be holden with the cords of his sins.
"If the Son Himself, says he, be the Word Natural and Conceived in God the Father, and is Consubstantial with Him Who begat Him, what hinders the Father too from being and being called Word, as Consubstantial with the Word?"
And again: "If the Son be the Word of God the Father and there is none other than He, by means of what word, says he, is the Father found saying to Him: Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee? For it is very clear that not without a word did the Father address Him, since every thing that is uttered, is altogether uttered in word, and no otherwise. And the Saviour Himself somewhere says, I know the Father and keep His saying, and again, The word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father's Which sent Me. Since then the Father addresses Himself to Him in word, and He Himself acknowledges, one while that He keeps |36 the Father's word, at another again, that the Jews heard, not His word, but the Father's; how will it not, he says, be confessed beyond a doubt, that the Son is other than the word that is conceived or that stands in motion of the mind, whereof participating and replete, the utterer and exponent of the Father's Essence, that is the Son, is called word?"
Such ills then does the foolish man sow to himself and gainsaying all the Divine Scriptures at once is not ashamed, shewing that true is that which is written of himself. When the wicked man cometh into the depth of evils, he despiseth. For verily exceeding deep unto naughtiness hath the fighter against God of his folly dug, refusing the uprightness that is of truth, and halting with the rottenness of his own arguments. For that the Only-Begotten Son of God the Father is of very right His Word, we shall know by the subjoined.
Refutation in order of the misconceit of Eunomius.
Slow to learn is the silly heretic. For how into a malicious soul will wisdom at all enter? or what, tell me, can be more malicious than such men, who, as it is written, turn away their ears from the truth and run more easily unto the fables of their own cogitations, that justly too they may hear, uttering things not of the Divine Scriptures, Woe to them that prophesy of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord? For who speaking out of the mouth of the Lord calleth Jesus Anathema? which thing indeed some do in unbridled haughtiness against the doctrines of piety, and as one of the holy Prophets said, perverting all equity. For they say that the natural and conceived word in God the Father is one, him that is called Son and Word again another: and they bring in support of their own, as they deem, opinion, but more truly, their unbridled impiety, our Lord Jesus Christ in His discourses with the Jews saying, I know the Father and keep His word: and moreover that which was said to Him by the Father, From the womb before the Day-star begat I Thee. Then they say belching forth the venom of their own father, If the speaker is other than he whom he addresses, and the Father addresses the Son by word, the innate word |37 wherewith the Father conversed will be other than the Son. And again: If, says he, the Son Himself declared that He keeps the Father's word, how will not he that keepeth be other than that which is kept? To this it is perhaps not hard to reply (for the Lord will give utterance to them that evangelize with much power). But those who are sick of such unlearning ought to remember Him Who says, Ah they who leave the paths of uprightness to walk in the ways of darkness, and for us it is meet that we should cry unto our Guide Who is in the heavens, Turn away mine eyes from beholding vanity. For vanity of a truth and rubbish and nought else are the vain utterances of their uninstructedness. For not as though He had another word of the Father in Himself did the Son say that He kept the Father's word, nor yet did He declare that He had come to us, bringing him with Him as though a pedagogue, but as Alone in-being in the Father by Nature, and having again likewise in Himself the Father, none else intervening, I, says He, in the Father and, the Father in Me, not the innate, nor yet any other word, but the Father, in Me. How then ought one to conceive of what was said by Him to the Jews, may one ask us, and that with reason. To this we say with truth what comes up upon our mind. The Saviour was teaching the most incredulous people of the Jews and, drawing by little and little His hearers from the worship of the law, did ofttimes call out to them, I am the Truth, all but saying, Throw off, sirs, the yoke of the law, receive the spiritual worship; let shadow now depart, type recede afar, the Truth hath beamed. But He did not seem to all to be doing rightly, subverting Moses' precepts, yea rather leading them to what was more true, so that some even cried, If this man were of God, He would not have broken the Sabbath, which was to openly condemn of sin Him Who knew it not.
To such like follies then of the Jews He replying puts away all boast in His words, and lowlily and darkly designs to teach them, that the Son Who knows not sin would not work ought other than seemed good to God the Father; lest saying more nakedly, I know not sin, He should |38 again stir them up to stone Him. For they straightway boiling with wrath would have sprung upon Him saying, Not to sin belongs to God Alone: Thou then being a Man, utter not the things that beseem God Alone. Which thing they even did at another time, saying that with reason do they stone Him, because being a Man He makes Himself God. Obscurely did the Saviour, in that He was both Man and as under the law with those who were under the law, say that He kept the Father's word, all-but saying, I will never transgress the Father's Will. For by stepping aside from the Divine law is sin born, but I know not sin Who am God by Nature. Therefore I offend not the Father in My teaching. For the rest let no one find fault with Him Who is by Nature Lawgiver, but because of His Likeness unto us is Law-keeper. But He says that He knows the Father, not simply as do we, only the very same thing more simply for that He is God, but from what Himself is does He declare that He understands the Nature of the Father. But since He knows that He Who begat Him knows not to endure change, He knows, it is plain, that Himself is Unchangeable of an Unchangeable Father. And that which knows not change, how can it be said to sin, and not rather to stand unswerving in its own natural endowments?
Yain then is the accusal of the Jews imagining that the Son thinks ought beside the Counsel of the Father: for He keeps, as He says, His word, and by Nature knows not sinning: for He knows that the Father cannot suffer this, with Whom He is Consubstantial as Very Son. But since they meet this by citing what has been annexed to their objection, From the womb before the Day-star begat I Thee, come let us unfold the word of piety as to this also. For not because the Father says such things to the Son, ought we therefore to think, that there is in Him an innate word and to conceive of the Son as other than it. But first of all let us think this with ourselves that a prophet versed in uttering mysteries in the Spirit puts on for us the person of the Son, and introduces Him hearing of the Father, Thou art My Son, and what follows. And the form of speech, in that it is constructed after human |39 fashion, will not I presume at all compel us to conceive of two words, but referring to our own habits [of speech] the unavoidable arrangement herein, we shall blame, if we do rightly, the weakness of our own nature, which has neither words, nor modes of idea which accurately serve unto the mysteries that are above us, or that are adequate to express faultlessly things more Divine: and to the Divine Nature again we shall attribute the superiority over our mind and speech, not conceiving of Its relations exactly as they are spoken of, but as befit It and as It wills. Or if any of the unholy heretics imagine that we unrightly abuse such words, and do not admit that the form of speech comes up to our usage of it, they will rightly hear: Let the Father be conceived of as also begetting as we do, let Him not deny the womb and the pangs of birth. For from the womb begat I Thee, says He to the Son. But perchance, yea rather of a certainty, they will say that from the likeness to us the Father's True Begetting of the Son is signified. Therefore let the other too be piously understood, even if it be uttered in human guise, and their bitter and unholy difficulty is solved.
And these things were, I suppose, sufficient. But since we thought that we ought to smite down the difficulties devised of their stubbornness (as it were some swarm of foes), with the uprightness of pious dogmas, come let us now bringing them forward in the manner befitting each, raise up against each its opponent, and with more zealous thoughts let us arm against them the ever victorious truth. The objection again, as from them, shall be set forth in order before the arguments which confute it, inciting the vigilance of the argument to proceed to more accurate test, and like the rush of some mountain-torrent, ever bearing down headlong the good readiness of the readers to desire ever to learn the answer.
Oppositions or objections, as from the heretics.
"If there exist not, says he, in God the Father a word essential and conceived, other than the Only-Begotten Son That |40 is of Him, Who is also called word in imitation of that one, the result will be absurd, and we who deem we think rightly must needs confess, that if the Word is Consubstantial with the Father and the Father with the Word, there is nothing yet to hinder the Father from being and being called word, as Consubstantial with the Word."
Refutation of this.
No argument, O most excellent, will ever constrain us to think that we ought to believe and call the Father Word, or even to believe that He could be so, because He is Consubstantial with the Word. For in no wise will things that are of the same essence admit of a mutual interchange, and receive a sort of mixture, as from one into the other, so that the things named could be reduced from many into one, or from duality into unity. For not because our forefather Adam was consubstantial with the son born of him, will father therefore advance unto son, son again mount up into father; but being one with him as far as regards the unity of essential quality, he will retain what is his own: and he who is of any father will be conceived of as a son, and again the begetter of any will clearly be father. But if ye imagine that ye are constructing a clever argument hereupon, and that consubstantiality will surely constrain consubstantial to be one with consubstantial, and will suffer no distinction to prevail, so that each should exist by itself and in whatever it is, what was it persuaded the Judge of all not to punish the father for the son, nor to demand of the son satisfaction for the father? For the soul, says he, that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father, neither shall the father bear the iniquity of the son. But since the sentence of Him Who judges righteously does not bring down the father, albeit consubstantial with the son, into the position of sonship, nor yet does it bring up the son into the condition of fatherhood, but knoweth each individually, not this progressing into that, nor that stepping into this; it is I suppose evident, that no argument will constrain God the Father, because He is Consubstantial with the Word, to change into being the Word. |41 For He abideth wholly in Himself, that is Father, even though He Who is begotten of Him be conceived to be and be Word and therefore Son, that things Divine may not appear in worse state than ours are.
Another in equal guise with the objection, by the method of reductio ad absurdum.
The Son, as having no difference from His Father, but being His most exact Likeness and the express Image of His Person, is found saying to His disciples, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. But if He being thus, is Consubstantial with the Father, and things consubstantial admit of utter confusion with one another, there will be nothing it seems to hinder the Son from being conceived of as Father, in that He is Consubstantial with the Father, and capable of passing over into this, nought hindering it, if consubstantiality suffice unto this kind of change or transposition. Let the Son then be conceived of as Father, and let Him say, as now being so, to the real Father, From the womb before the Day-star begat I Thee; and let Him assume to Himself every word in short that belongs to the Father. When this at length has taken place, every thing is now thrown into confusion, and That Which ever so existeth, I mean the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity will be reduced to Unity, if That which rightly and separately belongs to Each vanishes on account of the Con-substantiality, and the sameness of nature overthrows the distinction of Persons. But this is absurd. Hence the Father will not be the Word, because Consubstantial with the Word, but will abide unchanged, being What He is, even though He have Co-nature or Consubstantiality with His Own Word. And their objection has been proved to be nought.
Another. If every word be the word of some one, pouring it forth from the tongue, that is, or belching it forth and bringing it up from the heart; and the Father be Word, because He is Consubstantial with the Word: He will be His own word, or rather no one's, or will even have no existence at all (for how will there be word, when he whose word it is, is not?). But this is absurd: for never will the Divine and Untaint Nature be receptive of non-being, nor will the Father |42 ever pass into the Word, even though He be Consubstantial with the Word, but will remain Father, Whose Wordalso the Son is.
Another. If the Divine Nature be believed non-recipient of all turn and change as regards Essence, how will the Father, leaving His own position, pass into being the Word? For He will be recipient of change, suffering it as of necessity, and will not be the same, as not keeping what He was from the beginning. But if this be absurd (for to change is wholly foreign from the Divine Nature), the Father will not have the change into the Word, but will be Father ever, having immutability and unchange as God.
Another as of the same, at length.
The Only-Begotten Word and Son of God, shewing that He is Very God of Very God the Father says, All things that the Father hath are Mine. But though the Son is Heir of all the properties that are in the Father of Nature, as being of Him by Nature, yet He will never have that of being Father (for this too is one thing that belongs to the Father); but the Son will remain bereft of nought that is inherent in the Father, though He be not deemed of as Father, but having in Himself perfectly all the properties and endowments of the Father's Essence. Applying this very same method of reasoning to the Person of the Father also, we say that He has all the properties of the Son by Nature, yet not the power of passing into sonship and into being Word, but that as un-turning by Nature He remains what He is, that in addition to being God the Father, He may be also without change, having Unchanged in Himself the Word That appeared from Him, the Son.
Another. God the Lawgiver found fault with certain by the holy Prophets saying, They have put no difference between the holy and profane. For great indeed is the difference or contrariety of manners which is seen between them by those who will discern. But if it be admissible to commingle the nature of things consubstantial one with another, and things that are in separate and individual persons can run off to whatever they please of congenerate or connatural;----what is there to separate the profane from |43 the holy, if the distinction of separate being or of who one is, is never seen, but one exists in another because of sameness of essence? Be then (the knowledge in regard to each being hence indifferent), all jumbled up together, and let the traitor Judas be Peter or Paul, because consubstantial with Peter and Paul; be Peter again or Paul, Judas, because consubstantial with him. But so to think is most unreasoning; and the being of the same substance will by no means take away the difference of things congenerate or connatural from one another. Our weakness then will not so set itself to contend with the Divine Essence, as to compel God the Father to be called and be the Word, because He is Consubstantial with the Word. For He abides ever Father, in no wise able to lose the distinction of what He is in regard to this, nor yielding to sameness of Essence that He should possess nothing distinctively. And He will no way wrong the Son by this, but rather will shew Him as His own, and possessing from Him by Nature the Unturning and Unchangeableness of Him That begat Him, both by His possessing properly and alone Sonship and not being changed into the Father, even as neither does He into Son.
Opposition, or another objection as on the part of the heretics.
"Not reasonably, say they, do ye blame as not thinking rightly those who say that the Word innate in God the Father is other than the Son, although ye hear Him clearly say in the Gospel narrative, I know Him and keep His word. But if, as Himself affirmed, He keeps the Father's word, other in all respects, I suppose, and of necessity will he be than him; since needs must the distinction of being other exist between him who keeps and that which is kept."
Different solutions in order shewing clearly that the Son is the Word of God the Father.
If the Only-Begotten Son of God the Father is not Himself His Word, but some other than He, which they call conceived, exists in God, let those who put forth this contrary opinion tell us whether the word which is the conception of their own ignorance be hypostatic or no. For if they say |44 that it exists of itself conceived of as in separate being, they will surely confess that there are two sons: but if they say that it has no existence, then, since nothing any longer conies between and severs the Son, how will He be third from the Father and not rather next Him, as Son with Father?
Another by the same considerations. The opponents define that there is in God the Father a word, the conceived, by means of which, according to their most unlovely imagination, the Son is taught the counsel of the Father. But how great folly their dogma hereupon has, we must see.
"We must consider the argument about this matter thus. The name father, has of necessity no mean in relation to the son. For what will be the mean of father as regards the son, or again of son as regards the father? But if, according to their unlearning, there severs the Son from the Father an intervening will and a conceived word, which they say is interpretative thereof, no longer will the Father be conceived of as altogether father nor yet the Son as son, if we conceive that the will of God and the word that interprets it, exist in their own hypostases. But if we grant that these are without hypostasis, then the Son is in God the Father without any thing mediate and next to Him; where then will the conceived word retire, or what place will the will have, conceived of as other than the Son?
Another by the reductio ad absurdum. We believe that the Holy and Adorable Trinity is Consubstantial, even if the madness of the heretics will it not. But I think that there ought to be admitted with regard to things consubstantial, a likeness also with one another in all things, in regard to natural properties. If then there be, according to the uncounsel of some, in God the Father some conceived word other than the Son, the Son too will surely have a conceived word in Himself, as being His Likeness and the unchangeable Express Image of His Person, as it is written: the Holy Ghost will have one equally with Him, according to the equal analogy of conceptions. The Trinity then has come to be in double, and the Divine Nature is shewn to be compound. But this is absurd. But in simple essences, there is nothing whatever save |45 themselves. Nothing then will hinder the Holy and Consubstantial Trinity from being closely connected, nought intervening. Another at length. When Divine Scripture puts forth nouns with the article prefixed, then it means some one thing which alone is properly and truly that which it is said to be; but when it does not prefix the article, it makes a more general declaration of every thing that is so called, as for example (for our discourse shall attain clear demonstration) many are called gods, but when God is spoken of with the article it signifies Him Who alone and properly is so; more simply and without the article, one perchance of those called hereto by grace. And again there are many men. But when the Saviour says with the article, The son of man, He signifies Himself as one picked out of ten thousand. Since then names have this character in Divine Scripture, how ought we to understand, In the beginning was the Word? For if every word of God is hereby meant as being in the beginning, let them shew it, and it is we who are the triflers. But if the Evangelist prefixing the article, signifies One and that is so properly, crying, In the beginning was the Word, why strive they in vain, bringing in another besides, only that they may expel the Son from the Essence of the Father? But we ought, considering the absurdity herein, to refuse the uncounsel of those who think otherwise.
Another, shewing that not after the conceived word, as they say, is the Son formed, but He is the Likeness of the Father Himself.
If the Only-Begotten Son of God is and is called, according to them, therefore Word, because, receiving the conceived word of the Father, He is as it were formed thereafter, why is He not found to say to His Disciples, I and the word of the Father are one, He that hath seen Me hath seen the word of the Father? But since overstepping all things, He likens Himself Alone to the Father Alone, none intermediate coming forward to the Likeness, the Son will be conceived of as likening Himself to Him Who begat Him, and to none other than Him.
Opposition, as from the opponents.
"We find, they say, the Son to be other than the |46 conceived word of God, giving heed not to our own thoughts thereon, but to considerations from the Divine Scripture. For what shall we say when we hear the Son saying to the Father, Glorify Thy Son, the Father again answering and saying, I have both glorified, and will glorify again? Shall we not altogether acknowledge that the Father replies to the Son in a word? How then is not he through whom the Father answers the Son other than He?"
Different solutions to this in order.
Worthy of utter marvel, yea rather of mourning too, are the unholy heretics, and moreover that one should say over them that which is spoken in the Prophets: Weep ye not for the dead, neither bemoan him, but weep sore for him that thinketh and sayeth such things respecting the Only Begotten. For what more wretched than such, if they fancied that this was actually and truly the voice of the Father, which not only the Saviour heard, but also this crowd of the Jews which stood around, yea rather the choir of the holy disciples? For they should rather have imagined God-befitting excellencies, and not have attempted to submit things above us to the laws that guide our affairs. For upon the bodily hearing strikes a bodily voice, and noise which through the lips is emitted into the air, or contrived by any other instrument. But the Will of the Father, in ineffable voice gently and as it were in the mind revolved, the Son Alone knoweth Who is in Him by Nature as His Wisdom. But to suppose that God uses a voice consisting in sound is wholly incredible, if we would retain to the Nature That is above all things Its superiority to the creation. Besides, our Lord Jesus Christ Himself says that this was not the voice of God the Father, and moreover shews that He needs no interpretation from another to be able to learn the Father's will saying, This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes. He should rather have said, my good friends, if ye are right in holding such opinions regarding Him, Ye have heard with Me the voice of the Father; but now, turning His declaration right round to the exact contrary, He avers that He had no need |47 of the voice, but asserts that it came rather for their sakes, not that it was uttered by the Father, but came and that for their sakes. And if God the Father works all things through Him, through Him altogether was this also, yea rather He was Himself the voice, not to Himself interpreting the disposition of the Father (for He knew it as Son), but to the hearing of the by-standers, that they might believe.
Another. If they say that the Son needs some innate word, that thereby He may be taught the Will of God the Father, what will become of Paul who says, Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God? For how is the Son the Wisdom of the Father, if lacking in wisdom He receive perfection from another, through learning what forsooth He knows not? or how must one not needs say, that the wisdom which is in the Father is not perfect? and if the Son be the Wisdom of the Father, how can His Will be conceived of as other than He? We come then to say that the Will of God the Father is not perfected in wisdom. But great is the impiety of this, and full of blasphemy the statement. Not therefore as partaker of instruction from another does the Son know what belongs to His own Father, but as Himself the Word and the Wisdom and the Will, does He search all things, yea, the deep things of God, as it is written concerning the Spirit too.
Another. As the Likeness and the exact express Image of the Father do the Divine Scriptures introduce to us the Son: and the Saviour Himself saith, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. But if with that likeness to Him, He knows not of Himself what is in Him, but needs so to speak expositions from another in order to learn it, it is time to think that the Father Himself is in the same case, if He is in the Likeness of the Son, and He will Himself too need one to unfold to Him what lies hid in His Offspring. And thus in addition to the absurdities that result from hence, the Divine Nature becomes also a recipient of ignorance. But since it is impious thus to think, we must betake ourselves to more fitting thoughts: for this clearly is what is profitable and helpful.
Another. The Spirit, says the blessed Paul, searcheth |48 all things, yea the deep things of God; and he adds, For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man but the Spirit of God That is in Him. Since then the Holy Spirit Which accurately discerneth all things, is Spirit not only of the Father, but of the Son too, how can He having within Him by Nature the Spirit Which knoweth all things be yet ignorant of ought that is in the Father? Superfluous then in truth does it plainly appear to imagine that the Son learns of another the Will of the Father; and utterly will vanish the need of a word to mediate in vain, according to their ill-instructedness. For the Son knows all things of Himself.
Another, by the method of reductio ad absurdum. They who accuse the Essence of the Only-Begotten, saying that He knew not the Will of the Father, but made use of in order to learn, another teacher, the word invented by them, which they call conceived, let them tell us, if they think that their own opinion hereupon ought to prevail, whether they will say that the conceived word is by nature equal to the Son (for let it be supposed to have a separate existence of itself) or not equal, but inferior perchance or even superior. If then they suppose it inferior, they will commit impiety against the Father Himself also: for there will be of a surety in Him what is worse than He, and other than He, the conceived word. But if they do not say worse, but shall allot to it a superiority to the Son, the charge against the Son will operate two-fold against the Father. For first of all He will be found to have begotten what is in worse condition than Himself. Then moreover He too will have the conceived word superior to Him, if the Father is Consubstantial with the Son who according to them has got an inferior position. But it is likely I suppose that the opponents will start back from the blasphemy that results from either alternative: and will say that the conceived word of the Father is equal to the Son as regards essence. The question then is at an end. For how will the one teach the other, as one who knows one who does not know, if both are equal by nature? The argument of these people being |49 then on all sides weak, it will be superfluous to imagine that the Son has any mean, and not rather to believe that He is in God the Father, God the "Word Who was in the beginning.
Another. The blessed Paul says that in the Son are hid the treasures of all wisdom and all knowledge. But if he is true in saying such things, how yet shall we suppose that He needed teaching from another, or in whom shall we any more seek perfectness in knowledge, if He Who has it all is made wise by another? how is he Wisdom who is made wise? But since we must needs give heed not to their words, but to those through the Spirit, and the Son hath, as Paul saith, in Himself the treasures of wisdom and of all knowledge, not from any one else will He know the things whereby He is wisdom, but being in the Father He knows all that is the Father's, as His Wisdom. |50
CHAPTER V. That the Son is by Nature Creator with the Father, as being of His Essence, and not taken to Him as a minister.
3 All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.
The blessed Evangelist, having overthrown the intricate objections of the unholy heretics, and having completed his subtil and most exact utterance respecting the Only-Begotten, comes to another snare of the devil compounded of the ancient deceit, and putting forth to us the sting of the polytheic error, which has wounded and cast down many, and widening the way of perdition, and throwing open the broad and spacious gate of death, heaped up souls of men in herds unto hell and set rich food as it were before the devil and brought before him choice meat. For since the children of the Greeks applying themselves to the wisdom of the world, and having plenteously in their mind the spirit of the ruler of this world, were carried away unto polytheic error, and perverted the beauty of the truth and, like to those who walk in mist and darkness, went down to the pit of their own ignorance, serving lifeless idols, and saying to a stock, Thou art my father, and to a stone, Thou hast brought me forth: others again transgressing akin to them, devising nevertheless a more polished error, deemed that they ought to worship the creature more than the Creator, and lavished the glory that befitted the Divine Nature Alone on the elements that were made by It, of necessity does the Divine introduce to us the Only-Begotten as Maker and Creator by Nature, saying that all things were made by Him and that without Him nothing passed into being, that he might close for the future the entrance for their deceits, and might shew to them that know Him |51 not the Creator of all things, and by the very words wherein he says that the creation was made, might clearly teach that other than it is He Who called it into being, and by His Ineffable Power brought things that are from not being unto birth. For thus at length was it possible by the beauty of the creatures proportionally to see the Maker, and to recognize Him Who is in truth God, through Whom all things have been already made, and made are preserved. Against the false-worship then of the Greeks do I deem that he thus well arrayed the Gospel word, and for this cause do we believe that the Only-Begotten was introduced by the voice of the saint as Maker and Creator.
But since it is meet to consider the crooked inventions of the heretics, I think that we ought looking to their ways too to say again a little.
All things, says he, were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.
This God-befitting dignity too does he put about the Son, on all sides shewing that He is Consubstantial with God Who begat Him and saying that all things that belong to Him by Nature are in His Offspring: that He may be conceived of as truly God of God, not (as we) having the appellation adventitious and accruing to us by grace alone, according to the words, I have said, Ye are gods and all of you are children of the most High. For if all things were made by Him, He will be Other than they all. For in this, All things, there is nothing which is not seen among all things. As the blessed Paul too is found to have understood the all things: for when in one of his Epistles he was discoursing of our Saviour and said that all things were put in subjection under His feet, excellently does he subjoin, For in that he saith all, he left nothing that is not put under Him. Therefore since we believe that all things were made by the Son, we will not think that He is one of all, but will conclude that He is external to all, and severing Him from the nature and kin of things originate, will at length confess that He is none else save God of God by Nature. For what will intervene between |52 God and the creature? I do not mean in regard of essence, for much intervenes, but only in regard to the position of anything that is, in conception. Or what other position will the Son have, Who surpasses the nature of things made, yea rather is Himself the Maker? For all things were made "by Him, as by the Power, as by the Wisdom of God the Father, not hidden in the Nature of Him Who begat Him, as in man is for instance his innate wisdom and power, but existing separately and by Himself, yet proceeding according to the ineffable mode of Generation from the Father, that the Wisdom and Power of the Father may be conceived of as truly-existing Son.
But though the blessed Evangelist says that all things were made through Him, the saying will not I deem at all minister damage to the words concerning Him. For not because it is said that the things that are were made through Him, will the Son be introduced as an underworker, or a minister of others' wills, so that He should be no longer conceived of as being by Nature Creator, nor will He be one given the power of Creation by some other, but rather being Himself Alone the Strength of God the Father, as Son, as Only-Begotten, He works all things, the Father and the Holy Ghost co-working and co-with Him: for all things are from the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost. And we conceive of the Father as co-with the Son, not as though He were powerless to work ought of things that are, but as being wholly in Him, by reason of unchangeableness of Essence, and His entire kin and the absence of any medium towards His Natural Procession from Him. As though one were to say that to the sweet scent of a flower, the flower itself was co-present for the operation of the sweet scent, since it proceeds from it naturally. But the force of the example is slight and the Nature That is above all will overpass this too, receiving of it little-impresses of ideas. Since how shall we understand, My Father worketh hitherto and I work? For not separately and by Himself does the Son say that God the Father works ought regarding things that are, and that Himself again likewise works apart from the Father, the Essence |53 Whence He is after some sort resting: for so the Creator would be two and not One, if Either work apart and separately. Moreover the Father will be recipient of the power of not having the Son ever in Him, and the Son likewise will be seen to not have the Father ever in Him, if it were possible that Either should work apart and separately with regard to things that are, as we said before, and the Son will not be true, when He says, I am in the Father and the Father in Me. For it is not, I suppose, merely after likeness of Essence, that we see the Son in the Father as Express Image, or again the Father in the Son as Archetype; but we hold that the Son beams forth by Generation from the Essence of the Father, and is and subsists in It and of It in distinct Being, God the Word: and that the Father again is in the Son, as in Consubstantial Offspring, Connaturally, yet severally, according to simply the difference of being, and being conceived of as that which He is. For the Father remains that which He is, even though He be Connaturally in the Son, as we say that the Sun is in its brightness. And the Son again will be conceived of, as not other than He is, even if He be Connaturally in the Father, as in the sun its brightness. For thus, the Father being conceived of and being in truth Father, the Son again being and conceived of as Son, the Holy Ghost having His place with them, the number of the Holy Trinity mounts to One and the Same Godhead.
For how will God be at all conceived of as One, if Each of the Persons mentioned withdraw into a complete individuality, and, while wholly removed from Connature and Essential participation with the Other, be called God? Therefore let us conceive of Father, Son and Spirit, according to the mode of individual being, not mixing up the difference of the Persons or names in regard to That Which Each IS: but while we reserve severally to each the being and being called what He IS, and thus believe, referring them still of Nature to One Godhead, and refusing to hold a complete severance, because the Son is called the Word and Wisdom and Brightness and Express Image and Might of the Father. For He is Word and |54 Wisdom, by reason of these being, immediately and without any intervention, of the mind and in the mind, and because of the reciprocal interpassing into one another so to say of both. For the mind is seen in word and wisdom, and word in its turn in the mind, and there is nought that intervenes, or severs the one from the other. He is called Power again, as being a quality inherent without any interval in those who have it, and that can nowise be severed from them in the manner of an accident, apart from the destruction of the subject: Express Image again, as being even connate, and unable to be severed from the essence of which it is the express image.
Hence since Either is naturally and of necessity in Other, when the Father works the Son will work, as being His Natural and Essential and Hypostatic Power. Likewise when the Son works, the Father too works, as the Source, of the Creating Word, Naturally In-existent in His Own Offspring, even as the fire too in the heat that proceeds from it.
It is clear then, that vainly has been iterated the accusation of the opponents against the Only-Begotten, who introduce Him to us as creator by having learnt, yea rather as minister too; because of the Blessed Evangelist saying, All things were made through Him and without Him, was not anything made. Much do I marvel at the unholy heretics: for whatever seems any way to undo the Dignity of the Only-Begotten and to shew Him second to Him Who begat Him, according to their own view, this they hunt with much zeal, and from all sides bring to it the drugs of their own stubbornness; whatever again are healthfully and rightly said and bring the Son up to the Glory of the Father, these things they bury most surely in deep silence, as having one sole aim, to in vain revile Him Who is glorified of all the creation. For when they hear that All things were made through Him, they hotly bring on Him the name of service, dreaming that the Son is bond instead of free, and worshipper rather than Lord. But when they learn that without Him was not anything made, they do not mount up to think ought great and marvellous of Him. For since it is not in God the Father to create otherwise than by His own Offspring, Which is His Wisdom |55 and Power, the Evangelist says that nought at all was made without Him. For therefore is the Only-Begotten the Glory of God the Father (for He is glorified as Creator through the Son); for He worketh all things and bringeth into being things that are not.
And well will one conceive of the words, without Him, was not anything made, if he consider with himself what was said at the creation of man. For Let us make man, says he, in Our image after Our likeness. For here specially one can behold in the Son of a truth nought that is lowly, as in a minister according to their phrase. For God the Father does not command the Word, Make man, but as Co-with Him by Nature and His inseparably so to say In-existing Co-worker, He made Him also Partaker of His Counsel respecting man, not anticipating the knowledge that is in the Son in regard to any conception, but as Mind inseparably and apart from time manifested in the in-imaged and in-existing Word.
Let God-befitting contemplations again be above the reach of the example. Yet we say that He co-works with the Son, not conceiving as of two severally, lest there be conceived to be two gods, nor yet as though both together were one, in order that neither the Son be compressed into Father, nor again the Father into Son, but rather in such sort as if one allowed to be co-existent in the brightness from light the light whence it flashed forth: for in such examples the generator seems to be separated in idea from the generated and that which springs forth from it indivisibly; yet are both one and the same by nature, and the one in no wise separate from the other. But above this too will God again be, inasmuch as He is both Super-substantial and has nothing wholly like Him in things originate, that it should be taken as a image of the Holy Trinity, without any difference, in exactness of doctrine. But if they deem that the word, through Whom, said of the Son, can bring down His Essence from Equality and Natural likeness to the Father, so as to be minister rather than Creator, let those insane consider and come forward and make answer, what we are to conceive of |56 the Father Himself also, and Whom we are to suppose Him too to be, seeing that He clearly receives the words through Whom in the Divine Scripture: for God, says he, is faithful, through Whom ye were called unto the fellowship of His Son, and Paul an Apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God: and again Paul writeth to some, Wherefore thou art no more a servant but a son; and if a son, then an heir through God 3. All these then have reference to the Person of God the Father, and no one I suppose will rush to that extreme of madness (except perchance he hold with the above mentioned), as to say that the name and fact of service, is reasonably predicated of the very glory of the Father, because the word through Whom is applied to Him too. For the Divine Scripture is sometimes indifferent in regard to its words, in no wise wronging the subject thereby, but applying to the things signified in a less proper sense both the words themselves and those whereby it deems that they are well explained. But it is well to say of those, that The glory of the Lord veileth speech. For little in truth is all might of words unto the exact exposition of the Ineffable and God-befitting glory. Wherefore one must not be offended at the meanness of the things uttered, but must rather yield supremacy, and might in tongue, and keenness of every mind, to the Divine and unutterable Nature, for thus shall we be and not in small degree pious. |57
CHAPTER VI. That the Son is by Nature Life and therefore not originate, but of the Essence of God the Father.
4 4 That which was made, in it was Life.
Yet doth the Blessed Evangelist make to us his discourse concerning God the Word, and he seemeth to me profitably to go through all that pertains to Him by Nature, that he may both put to shame the outrages of the heretics, and may fortify those who would fain excel in right faith, with reasonings thereunto tending, not providing from words of worldly wisdom unpersuasion, but in demonstration of the Spirit marvelling at the beauty of the truth.
What he would then teach through the words before us, is this. He shewed us just now that the Son is by Nature Maker and Creator, saying that all things were made by Him and that without Him not so much as one thing was called into being. But since on the creation He bestows not only to be called into being, but also holds it together when made through Himself, immingling in some way Himself with those who have not by their own nature eternity of being, and becoming life to those that are, that having become they may abide, and that each may be preserved according to its own limit of nature;----needs does he say, That which was made, in it was life. Not only, says he, were all things made by Him, but also whatever was made, in it was the Life, that is, the Only-Begotten Word of God, the Beginning and Subsistence of all things both visible and invisible, heavenly and earthly and infernal. For Himself being the by-Nature Life, bestows manifoldly on things that are, being and life and motion, not in any way of partition and change passing into each one of things that are by nature distinct: but their |58 nature, viewed by itself, is variously fashioned by the ineffable Power and Wisdom of the Creator, while One is the Life of all passing into each, in such sort as befits it, and it is able to partake thereof. But since that which is brought from not being into being must needs also decay, and that which has beginning surely hasteth unto its end (for to the Divine and All-superior Nature Alone beseemeth the being preceded by no beginning and being free from ending): the Creator wisely deviseth for the weakness that is in things made, and contriveth for them by His skill an eternity. For the perpetual succession unto each of its like, and the natural progression of things connatural or kin unto one another looking ever towards onward course, make the creation ever-visible and ever-co-enduring with God its Maker. And this (contrivance) is that every one of things that are, soweth seed in itself after its kind and after its likeness, according to the unspeakable sentence of its Creator. In all then was the Life; for this is our subject. But, excellent sir, may one with reason say to the heretic warring against the truth, what will you say to this too, when you hear him who bears within him the Spirit say, that in all things that were made was the Life, that is, the Word That is in the beginning? Will you dare to say now too, that the Son is not of the Essence of God the Father, that He may be deemed of as originate and created? How then will one not cry out against thine unlearning, O thou, and that with justice? For if in things that were made was the Word, as Life by Nature, immingling Himself by participation with things that are, He is then Other than those wherein He is believed to be. But He being by Nature Other than what the creation is, how will He not be the God over all? But if you remain shameless, and cease not to imagine that originate is the Son Who is in things made, as Life:----first of all He will be conceived of as being somewhat in Himself, then besides. He will Himself be partaker of Himself 5, and |59 Life, if being in things made, He be conceived to be Himself too one of them. But the fighter against God sees surely himself too, how great the absurdity of thinking thus. Therefore if the Word Who quickens them is by participation in things originate, He will not be Himself too among the participators, but other than they. And if so, not originate, but in them as by Nature Life.
This again we shall see by the subjoined considerations.
Thoughts or arguments.
If the Son be not of the Essence of God the Father, but from without He have subordinated Him according to them, He is originate and made. How then does He quicken all things, Who is among things made? Or what distinction shall we find any longer in the Divine Nature? or how does the most wise Paul say, as something admirable of Him That is by Nature God, Who quickeneth all things? For if the Son being originate, quickeneth all things, the creation quickeneth itself, in no wise needing thereto God its Maker. There is then nothing in God more than in the creation; For it inworketh not less than God can do. But this is absurd. Not originate then is the Son, but God and therefore by Nature Life also.
Another. The Psalmist marvelleth exceedingly and that with reason at the Divine Nature, and in particular attributeth to It a most fair dignity saying, For with Thee is the Fountain of life. But if the Father have set the Son below Him, and have Him not of His own Nature, and He even being so, quickens things originate and is by Nature Life as quickening, why vainly strives the Psalmist saying that the fountain of life is with God Alone? For the nature of things originate also is recipient of this, if the Son, albeit not of the Divine Essence according to the uncounsel of some, quickens. But this is absurd. Therefore Life by Nature is the Son, as God of God, and Life of Life.
Another. If the Son being by Nature Life be originate and created, as not having His Being of the Essence of God the Father, according to their fantasy, the nature of things originate will be recipient of being and being called life, and |60 all things will be life in potential, even if they have not yet the exercise of the thing itself. For that which has the natural power of being ought, will surely be so I ween, even if it be not so as yet; for it has the power inherent in its nature. When then the being life is common to the creature, the special and alone prerogative of none, why vainly does the Son vaunt of Himself, I am the Life? for He should, I suppose, have rather said, I am along with you the life. This would I suppose have been truer, if being indeed originate He is Life too. But since He puts about Himself Alone as His special good the being Life, it is at length clear that He classes Himself, not with things originate, but with the Divine Essence of the Father, whereto the being Life also pertains.
Another. That which is participate of life is not in its own right life, for it is clearly in it as other than itself. If then the Son is by participation in things originate as Life, He will be other than the things that are participate of Him and lack life. Therefore not originate is He, nor seeking to be quickened by another. He is therefore God as quickening; but if so, He will be confessedly of the Essence of the Father, if we worship One God, and serve none other than Him Who is.
Another. Accurately testing the nature of things that are, we see God and the creation and nought else besides. For whatever falleth short of being God by Nature, that is surely originate; and whatever escapeth the catalogue of creation, will surely be within the limits of Deity. Since then we have well established this, let them tell us who thrust forth the Son from the Essence of God the Father, how He can quicken as Life, seeing that the Divine Nature has this as its own property, and yields it to none else. But if being originate He can be Life also, the grace of the excellence will surely overtake all things that are originate, and all will be by nature life. What need will they have therefore of participation of the Son, or what more will they gain hence? for they too possess the being by nature life. But this is not true, but they partake of necessity as |61 needing life, of the Son. Alone then is the Only-Begotten by Nature Life, and therefore will He not be reckoned among things originate, but will mount up unto the Nature of Him Who begat Him: for Life by Nature is the Father too.
Another. The Son being by Nature Life, is either Other than the creation, I mean by nature, or con-natural with it. If then He be connatural and consubstantial, how will He not lie in saying, I am the Bread of Life Which cometh down from Heaven and giveth life unto the world? for the creation hath from its own the being life, but life is imparticipate of life, that it may shew itself life. But if He is not connatural, He will also escape being originate, withdrawing from the creation together with Himself His own proper good also. For the creation will not be by nature Life, but rather lacking and participate of life.
Another. If the Son being by Nature Life is connatural with things made, by reason of not being of the Essence of God the Father, according to their speech, wherefore does the blessed Psalmist say that the heavens shall perish, and shall wax old like a garment: but to Him did he attribute His own proper prerogative, crying aloud, But Thou art the Same and Thy years shall have no end? For either He will perish and fail along with us, as connatural, and will no longer be conceived of as Life, or our natural connection with Him will draw up us too to be ever the same and to unfailing number of years. But verily He shall be ever the same, and we shall fail: He is therefore not originate as we; but since He is of the Life by Nature He will also quicken as Life the things that lack life.
Another. If nought is participate of itself, but the creation partakes of the Son as Life; He is not the creation, nor yet is the creation Life, which the Son is.
Another. If to quicken is one thing, to be quickened another, as action and passion, and the Son quickens, the creation is quickened: therefore not the same is Son and creation, since neither is the inworker with the inwrought. |62
CHAPTER VII. That the Son is by Nature Light and therefore not originate, but of the Essence of God the Father, as Very Light from Very Light.
And the Life was the light of men.
In these words too does the blessed Evangelist shew us that the Son is by Nature God and Essentially Heir of the good things of Him Who begat Him. For having taught before that being by Nature Life, He was in all things that were made by Him, holding them together and quickening them and granting them of His unutterable Power to pass from not being into being, and preserving them when made, he advances to another train of ideas, from all sides minded to lead us by the hand unto the apprehension of the truth, as was right. Therefore in things made was the Word, as Life. But since the rational living creature among them on earth recipient both of mind and knowledge and participant of the wisdom that is from God, is man, needs does the Spirit-bearer shew us clearly the Word as Bestower of the wisdom that is in man, that God the Father may be conceived of being all things in all through the Son;----life in them that lack life, light again and life in them that lack life and light. And therefore he says, And the Life was the light of men, that is, God the Word Who quickeneth all things, the Life in all that are, both enlighteneth the rational creature, and lavisheth understanding upon those who are recipient of understanding: that so that may be kept and have full force that is said to the creature, for what hast thou that thou didst not receive? For nought of wealth from itself hath the originate and created nature, but whatever it is seen to possess, this is surely of God, Who bestoweth both being, and |63 how one ought to be. And well was the was put of the life, that it might signify in every way the eternal Being of the Word, and might cut off the triflings of those void of understanding, who introduce to us the Son, of the things that are not, which manifestly warreth against the whole of Divine Scripture.
In regard then of the Eternity of the Word with the Father;----having already sufficiently gone through it both in the present Book, and in that called the Thesaurus, we deem that we may be silent. But what the mind of the words before us introduces, this with all readiness examining to the extent of our power, we will be diligent to profit both ourselves and those who shall hereafter read it, God again opening to us both doors and a mouth to our words.
What then will the fighter against Christ say to us, when he learns that the Life, that is, the ever-living God the Word, is the Light of men? What arguments will he sling at us, when we come forward and say, If the Son be not by Nature God, and Fruit of the Essence That begat Him, if He have not beamed forth to us Very Light from Very Light, but Himself too being from without is subordinated according to your unlearning: He is connatural with things made, and will in no wise escape being originate. How then, O ye filled full of all folly, doth He illuminate, they receive illumination from Him? For is not that which illuminates one thing, that which is illuminated another? but this is plain and clear to every one. For if we grant that they are the same, as regards kind of essence and the mode of existence, what is there more in that which has power of illumining, what again less in that which lacketh light? For whatsoever cometh, will come to both of them, and apart to each, and that which is in need of light will be light, and the light will not differ from the illumined. But great is the confusion of ideas manifest herein, and necessity of reason severs each of the things named and puts in its own proper nature the supplier herein apart from the supplied. Not therefore connatural with things made is the Son, but He will abide in the Essence of the Father, being Very Light of Very Light. |64
And it were nothing hard, by transferring the method of reasoning in the foregoing, which we made concerning the Son being by Nature Life, and demonstrated that He is Other than the things wherein He is, to give clear proof in this chapter too.----But in order not to leave the labour of this to others, nor to appear overmastered by sloth, I myself will endeavour, so far as I can, to transfer the form of argument used in the foregoing reasonings. For as in those, He being Life by Nature, is shewn to be Other than those wherein He is, so here too, said to be and in verity being the Light of men, He will be found to be Other than things that lack light and partake thereof; as we shall see more clearly in the following.
Proofs by demonstrations, that the Son who illumineth is Other than the creation that is illumined.
If the Word was in the things spoken of, as Light by Nature, immingling Himself by means of participation in things that are, He is then Other than the things wherein He is believed to be. But He That is by Nature Other than what the creation participant of Him and by Him illumined is, how will He not needs be the God Who is over all?
Another. If the fighter against God says that the Son being by Nature Light is in things originate as originate, illumining things that lack light:----first of all He will be conceived of as being in Himself, then besides, He will Himself be partaker of Himself and Light, if being in things originate, He one and the same be conceived to be of them. But he that has applied his heart unto wisdom, as it is written, sees surely how great the absurdity of thinking thus. Therefore if the Word Who illuminateth them is by participation in things originate, He will not Himself be among the participants and illumined, but Other therefore than they. And if so, He is then not originate, but as Light by Nature and God in things that lack Light.
Another. If the Son be not of the Essence of God the Father, but being from without He have subordinated Him according to them, He is then originate and created: how |65 then is He in things made, enlightening them? or what special shall we find any longer in the Divine Essence? or how does the most wise Psalmist say as something marvellous of Him Who is by Nature God, In Thy Light shall we see light? For if the Son being originate illumines all things, the creation will illumine itself, having no wise need thereto of God its Maker. There is then nothing more in God than in the creature, and it inworks no less than God could do. But this is absurd. The Son then is not originate, but God rather, and therefore Light by Nature, as is the Father.
Another of the same. If the Son being the Light of God the Father (as is said, In Thy Light shall we see Light and, O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth), is originate and brought into being, there is no longer ought to hinder, by equal analogy, all things originate from being called the Light of God the Father. For if the nature of things created at all admits this, it will be in potential common to them all, and not the own property of the One Son. But this is absurd: for to the Son Alone will it pertain to be called and to be the Light of God the Father. Not therefore originate is He, but Light, as God from God Who illumineth through Him things lacking light.
Another. If the Son being by Nature Light is not of the Essence of the Father, but being from without is subordinated, according to the uninstructed speech of the fighters against God, it follows that He is connatural and kin to things created, as having forsooth fallen away from the Divine Essence. How then is He called and is Light, but of the holy Baptist it is said, He was not the Light, albeit the blessed Baptist is light in potential, and not he alone, if it be once granted that the Son being originate, can be by Nature Light? For that which has once had place in the nature, is I suppose common to each that partakes of such nature, according to the law of consequence. But John was not Light, the Son Light. Other therefore by Nature is He and not connatural with things made.
Another of the same. If the Son being by Nature Light is originate and created, as not possessing forsooth the being |66 of the Essence of God the Father, as some surmise, the nature of things originate will admit of being and being called light; it will be altogether light according to the law of potential. For that which has in its nature to be anything, will I suppose surely be so, even if it have not yet been. Since then the being light is common to the nature of things originate, and the property in aloneness of none, why in vain does the Son vaunt of Himself, saying, I am the Light? for He ought I suppose to say, I am with you the Light. But since He puts it about Himself Alone as His own proper good, joining to Himself no one else, He clearly classes Himself, not with things originate, but with the Divine Essence of God the Father, whereto belongs the being by Nature Light..
Another. That which is participate of light is not in its own right the Light; for it is clearly one thing in another. If then the Son be by participation in things originate, as Light; He will be other than those that partake of Him and lack Light. Therefore not originate is He, nor seeking, as things originate, to be illumined by another: it remains therefore that He is God and able to illuminate. If so, He will be conceived of also as sprung of the Essence of the Father, if we worship One God, and serve none other than the True God.
Another. Accurately testing the nature of things that are, we behold God and the creature, and nought else besides. For whatever faileth of being by Nature God, is wholly originate, and whatever escapeth the category of being made, is wholly and entirely within the limits of Divinity. Since then we have established this, let them tell us who thrust forth the Son from being of the Essence of God the Father, how He can illumine as Light, seeing the Divine Nature retaineth this as Its own, and yields it to none else. But if the Son being originate, can be also Light, the grace of this excellence will surely overtake all things originate, and all will be by nature light. What further need then have they of participation with the Son, or what more will they gain hence, having themselves too the being by |67 nature light, even as the Son hath it in them? But the creature does need the Illuminator, not having this of its own. God then by Nature is the Son, and therefore Light, as able to illumine things that lack Light.
Another. The Son being by Nature Light, is either Other than the creature, in regard that is of the mode of being, or connatural with it. If then He be cognate and consubstantial, vainly, as it seems, did He come to us saying, I am come a Light into the world; for the creation has of its own itself also the being light: but light is impartici-pate of light, that it may be understood to be light. But if He be not connatural, but the creature lack light to whom belongs, What hast thou that thou didst not receive? needs will the Son escape being originate, withdrawing from the creation together with Himself His own proper good. For the creature will not be by nature light, but rather lacking and participate of light.
Another. If nought be participate of itself and the creature partake of the Son as Light: He is not a creature, nor yet the creature Light, which the Son is.
Another. If to illumine be one thing, to be illumined another, as action and passion, and the Son illumines, the creature is illumined; therefore not the same is Son and creature, since neither is the inworker with the inwrought.
5 And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.
Needs does the most wise Evangelist hasten to expand to us by this too that is now before us the thought expressed above. For he did not think, I suppose, that it would suffice to the hearers unto being able to think unerringly of God the Word, that He is verily the Light of men, by only saying, And the Life was the Light of men. For it was like I suppose that some would arise who should hear the things uttered without weighing them, and should moreover set forth or try to teach others also that the Word of God is indeed verily Light, but not Giver of light to all, but in whomsoever He will He infuses the light of understanding, approving him who |68 ought to receive it and is worthy of so bright a gift: and that the nature of the rest of the rational creation either gets the power of understanding from its natural seed, or God the Father ingrafts into it mind and understanding, as though the Son were unable to do this. In order then that God the Word, Who was in God the Father, may be clearly shewn to be both Life and Light, not of some individually, of others not, but by some ineffable mode of participation, as wisdom and understanding (which is what is called light in things rational), immingling Himself in all things that are, that the things rational may become rational, and things recipient of sense may have sense, which in no other way they could have had:----needs does he say, And the Light shineth in darkness and the darkness comprehended it not.
As though he with all exactitude crieth aloud to his hearers after this sort: I said, sirs, teaching the truth with all my power, that the Life was the Light of men, not that any should suppose from these words that they who shew themselves righteous and good receive from another, as the reward of their conduct, the illumination from Him, but that ye might learn, that as the Word is Life in all things that have been made, quickening things recipient of life; so He is in them Light also, rendering things recipient of understanding and sense, what they are. For God the Father through the Son in the Spirit is all things in all.
Darkness he calls the nature that lacks illumination, i. e. the whole originate nature. For since he calls Him the Light, to shew that the rational creation which lacks and is imparticipate thereof is other than It, he turns the force of the epithet used to the very contrary, doing this also, after my judgment, not without an aim, but considering in himself this above all, that the nature of things originate, producing nothing whatever from its own self, but receiving its whole being and well-being such as it is from its Creator, has rightly said to it, What hast thou that thou didst not receive? And since along with the rest, it has light itself also God-given, not possessing it does it receive it: but that which has not of itself light, how will it not be the contrary, or how |69 will it not be called darkness? For that the Light shineth in darkness is a credible demonstration (yea rather one following from very necessity), that the creation is darkness, the Word of God Light. For if the nature of things originate receive the Word of God by participation, as Light, or as of Light: it receives it then as itself darkness, and the Son shineth in it, as the light doth in darkness, even though the darkness know not a whit the Light. For this, I suppose, is the meaning of The darkness comprehended it not. For the Word of God shineth upon all things that are receptive of His Irradiance, and illumineth without exception things that have a nature receptive of illumining. But He is unknown of the darkness. For that which is the rational nature upon earth, I mean man, served the creature more than the Creator: it comprehended not the Light, for it knew not the Creator, the Fountain of wisdom, the beginning of understanding, the root of sense. Things originate possess nevertheless, of His love to man, the light, and are provided with the power of perception implanted concurrently with their passing into being.
But we must again note here, that no argument will permit to suppose that the Son of God is originate or created, but in every way does He surpass our measure, and rise above the nature of the creature, and is wholly Other than they are and far removed as regards quality of essence, even as the light is not the same as darkness, but soothly contrary and parted by incomparable diversity into physical alieniety.
Having now sufficiently gone through the method of reasoning hereupon in the foregoing, we will go on to what follows.
6, 7 There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.
Having before Explained about God the Word, and most accurately gone through the things whereby He is shewn to be by Nature Son of God the Father, he fortifies their faith in what they had already heard by his words. And since (according to what was said by God through Moses), At |70 the mouth of two and three witnesses shall every word be established, wisely does he bring in addition to himself the blessed Baptist, and introduces him along with himself a most noteworthy witness. For he did not suppose that he ought, even if of gravest weight, to demand of the readers in his book concerning our Saviour credence above that of the law, and that they should believe him by himself when declaring things above our understanding and sense.
Therefore the blessed Evangelist himself testifies that The Word was in the beginning and the Word was God and was in the beginning with God and that all things were made by Him, and He was in the things made as Life, and that the Life was the Light of men, that by all these he might shew that the Son is by Nature God. And the Divine Baptist too testifies in addition to him, crying aloud, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make straight the paths of our God. For soothly one will say that He is Very God, in Whom is by Nature inherent the dignity of lordship and it accrues not to any other rightly and truly, since to us there is one God the Father, and one Lord Jesus Christ, as Paul saith; and though there be many called gods by grace and lords both in heaven and earth, yet the Son is One with the Father Very God.
Therefore, most noteworthy is the pair of holy witnesses, and credence no longer capable of blame is due to the things said, both as having received the fulness of the law, and supported by the notability of the persons. For the blessed Evangelist then to say ought concerning himself, and to take hold of his own praises, were in truth burdensome and moreover ill-instructed. For he would rightly have heard, Thou bearest record of thyself, thy record is not true. Therefore he commits to those who know him to form their opinion of him, and goes to his namesake, doing well in this too, and says that he was sent by God. For it behoved him to shew that not of his own accord nor with self-invited zeal does the holy Baptist come to his testimony respecting our Saviour, but yielding to the commands from above, and ministering to the Divine Will of the Father. Wherefore he |71 says, There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
But we must notice how unerringly and fitly he expressed himself as to each, and correspondently to the nature of the things indicated. For in the case of God the Word, was is fitly introduced indicating every way His Eternity, and His being more ancient than all beginning that is in time, and removing the idea of His having been created. For that which always is, how can it be conceived of as originate? But of the blessed Baptist, befittingly does he say, There was a man sent from God, as of a man having an originate nature. And very unerringly does the Evangelist herein seem to me not merely to say that There was, but by adding the word a man, to overthrow the most unadvised surmise of some.
For already was there a report bruited of many, commonly saying that the holy Baptist was not really a man by nature but one of the holy angels in heaven, making use of human body and sent by God to preach. And the plea for this surmise they found in its being said by God, Behold I send, My messenger before Thy Face, which shall prepare Thy way; before Thee. But they err from the truth who imagine thus, not considering that the name of Angel is indicative of ministry rather than of essence, even as in the history of the blessed Job messengers 6 one after the other run to announce . his manifold sufferings and ministering to those incurable afflictions. Something like this does the most wise Paul himself define respecting the holy angels, writing thus: Are l they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?
John the blessed Baptist then is called an angel by the mouth of the Lord, not as being actually by nature an angel, but as sent to announce and crying aloud, Prepare ye the way of the Lord. Very profitably does he declare moreover that the angel was sent by God, shewing that his witness is most sure. For he that was sent by God to preach, would not |72 utter anything in his teaching that was not wholly according to the will of Him Who put the mission on him. True therefore is the witness as being God-taught. For the most wise Paul also telling us that he was sent by Jesus Christ, affirmed that he learned the power of the mystery not of any other, but by revelation of Him Who sent him, signifying the revelation in sum so to say and briefly, in saying that he was sent by Jesus Christ. Hence the being God-taught wholly follows on being sent by God. And that freedom from lying is wholly the aim of the ministers of the truth is undoubted.
The man's name he says was John. It needed that he who was sent should be recognized by the mark of the name, which introduces, as I suppose, great authenticity to what is said. For an angel (namely Gabriel that stand in the presence of God, as himself says) when he declared to Zacharias the good tidings of his birth of Elizabeth, added this to what he said, namely that his name shall be John. It is I suppose clear and confessed by all that he was so named of the angel according to the Divine purpose and appointment. How then will not he who was crowned by God with so great honour be conceived of as above all praise? Wherefore the mention of his name is profitably and necessarily brought in.
But since the Evangelist has added that the holy Baptist was sent by God for a witness that all men through him might believe, we will further say when our opponents fall foul and say, "Why did not all believe the God-sent? how came he who was fore-appointed by the decree from above to be powerless to persuade any?"----It is meet, sirs, that we should not blame John for want of zeal herein, but should exclaim against the obstinacy of those who disbelieved. For so far as pertains to the aim of the herald, and the mode of his apostolate from above, none would have been found imparticipate in the teaching, nor would have remained in unbelief: but since there was diversity of disposition in the hearers and each has power over his own free-choice, some receiving not the faith missed what was profitable. Wherefore we must say to them (as it is in the prophet), He that heareth, let him hear; and he that forbeareth, let him forbear. |73
This man came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light.
The word This is full of declaration of virtue and praise of person. For he that was sent, he says, from God, he that with reason struck with astonishment the whole of Judaea, by the gravity of his life and its marvellous exercise in virtue, he that is fore-announced by the voice of the holy Prophets: called by Isaiah, The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, and by the blessed David, a lamp fore-ordained for Christ 7; This man came for a witness to hear witness of the Light. He here calls God the Word Light, and shews that He is One and strictly the very actual Light, with Whom there is by nature nought else that has the property of illumining, and that is not lacking light. Therefore foreign and, so to say, of other nature than the creature is the Word of God, since verily and truly is He strictly Light, the creature participate of light. He then that is unclassed with things made, and conceived of therefore as being of other nature than they, how will He be originate, rather how will He not be within the limits of Deity and replete with the Good Nature of Him who begat Him?
8 He was not the Light, but was sent to bear witness of the Light.
The Baptist having esteemed desert-abodes above the haunts of the cities, and having shewn forth an unwonted persistence in exercise of virtue, and having mounted to the very summit of the righteousness attainable by man, was most rightly wondered at, and even by some imagined to be Christ Himself. And indeed the rulers of the Jews led by his achievements in virtue to some such notion, send some to him bidding them to inquire if he be the Christ. The blessed Evangelist then not ignorant of the things that were by many bruited of him, of necessity puts, He was not the Light, that he might both uproot the error as to this, and again build up some weight of credence to him who was sent from God for a witness. For how is he not eminent exceedingly, how is he not every way worthy of marvel, who is so clad with great virtue and so illustrious in righteousness as to imitate |74 Christ Himself, and by the choice beauty of his piety, to be even imagined to be the Light Itself?
He was not then, says he, the Light, but sent to bear witness of the Light. In saying the Light, with the addition of the article, he shews that it is really one: for so it is in truth. For that both the blessed Baptist and each of the other saints, may be rightly called light we will not deny, seeing that it is said of them by our Saviour, Ye are the light of the world. And again it is said of the holy Baptist, I have ordained a lamp for My Christ, and, He was a burning and a shining light, and ye were willing for a season to rejoice in his light. But even though the saints be light, and the Baptist a lamp, we are not ignorant of the grace that was given them and of their supply from the Light. For neither is the light in the lamp its own, nor the illumination in the saints, but they are rendered bright and lightsome by the enlightening of the Truth and are lights in the world, holding forth the word of life. And what is the Life, whose word they holding forth are called light, save surely the Only-Begotten, Who saith, I am the Life? Therefore, One of a truth is That Which is verily Light, lighting, not enlightened: and by participation of the One, whatever is called light, will be so deemed of by imitation of It. |75
CHAPTER VIII. That the Son of God alone is Very Light, the creature not at all, being participate of Light, as originate.
9 That was the true Light.
The Divine Evangelist again profitably recapitulates what has been said, and clearly marks off That Which is in truth the Light, the Only-Begotten, from those that are not so, namely things originate: he severs clearly That Which is by nature from them which are by grace, That Which is partaken of from those which are participate of it, That Which ministereth Itself to those who lack from those who are in enjoyment of Its largess. And if the Son is Very Light, nought save He is in truth Light, nor hath of its own in potential the being called and being Light, nor yet will things originate produce this as fruit of their own nature; but just as from not being they are, so from not being Light will they mount up to being light, and by receiving the beams of the Very Light, and irradiated by the participation of the Divine Nature, will they in imitation of It alike be called and be light.
And the Word of God is Essentially Light, not being so of grace by participation, nor having this dignity as an accident in Himself, nor yet imported, as grace, but the unchangeable and immutable good of the Uncreated Nature, passing through from the Father into the Heir of His Essence. But the creature, not so will it bear about it the being light, but as not having it receives, as darkness it is illumined, it has, as an accruing grace, the dignity from the love to man of Him Who giveth it. Hence the One is Very Light, the other not at all. So great therefore being the difference |76 between, and so great a notion severing off, the Son of God from the creature in respect to sameness of nature, how must one not and with reason deem that they are foolish, yea rather outside of all good understanding, who say that He is originate, and rank with things made the Creator of all, not seeing, as seems to me, how great impiety their daring will risk, not knowing either what they say nor whereof they affirm.
For that to those who are used to test more accurately the truth in the words before us, the Only-Begotten, that is, the True Light, will be shewn to be in no way originate or made, or in any thing at all con-natural with the creature, one may on all sides see and that very easily, and not least through the thoughts that are in order subjoined, collected for the consideration of what is before us.
Thoughts or syllogisms whereby one may learn that the Son Alone is Very Light, the creature not at all; hence neither is He connatural therewith.
If the Son being the Brightness of the glory of God the Father, is therefore Very Light, He will not be connatural with the creature, that the creature too be not conceived of as the brightness of the glory of God the Father, having in potential the being by nature this which the Son is.
Another. If the whole creation have the power of being Very Light, why is this attributed to the Son Alone? For one ought I suppose by reason of equality to give to things made also the title of being the Very Light. But no one of things originate will this befit, but it will be predicated of the Alone Essence of the Son. Of right therefore and truly will it rest on Him, on created things not at all. How then will He be connatural with the creation, and not rather belong to what is above the creation, as being above it with the Father?
Another. If that which is not in truth light be not the same as the in truth Light (for the enunciation of either has somewhat of diversity), and the Son be called Very Light, and be so of a truth: the creature will therefore not be Very Light. |77 Hence neither are things thus severed from one another connatural.
Another. If not only the Only-Begotten be the Very Light, but the creature too possesseth the being very light, wherefore does He light every man that cometh into the world? For since the originate nature too possesseth this of its own, the being lightened by the Son were superfluous. Yet verily doth He light, all we are partakers of Him. Not therefore the same in regard to quality of essence, are the Son and the creature: as neither with the participator that whereof it is participate.
Another. If not only to the Son by Nature accrues the being Very Light, but the creature too have it, clearly of superfluity as I think will the Psalmist say to some, Look unto Him and be ye lightened. For that which is wholly of a truth light, will not become light by participation of some other, neither will it be illumined by enlightenment from other, but rather will be endowed with perfect purity from its own nature. But we see that man lacks light, being of created nature; and true is the Psalmist crying aloud as to the Word of God, For Thou wilt light my candle, the Lord my God will enlighten my darkness. Not then of a truth light are we, but rather participate of the Word that lighteth, and alien by nature from the Very Light, which is the Son.
Another of the same. If the mind of man is called a candle, as it is sung in the Psalms, For Thou wilt light my candle, how shall we be of a truth light? for to the candle the light is imported and given. And if the Only-Begotten Alone lights the darkness that is in us, how is not He rather of a truth light, we not at all? But if this be true, how can He be connatural with the creature, Who is so far above it?
Another. If to be very light can accrue to the creature, even as to the Son, man will be very light, as being a portion of it. To whom then did God the Father promise by the holy Prophets saying, But unto you that fear My Name shall the Sun of Righteousness arise? For whatever need of the Sun to illumine it had the of a truth light? Yet did God the Father promise to give it us as being in need, and we have |78 received it and are lighted. Other then than we and the creature in regard to identity of essence is the Only-Begotten, being Very Light and able to lighten things that need light.
Another. If not the Son Alone is Very Light, but the creature too possess this, it will be consequently in us too. What then induced the saints to cry aloud to God, O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth? Wherein thinking to help us thereby did they oftentimes send forth, tell me, those words? For if they knew that man is in need of light and that he lacks this addition from another, how will any say with truth, that he too is Very Light? but if he needed not the lighting word, why to no purpose did they call on Him Who could in no wise aid them? But one cannot say that the mind of the saints failed of the truth, and God the Father Himself sends the Son as to those who lack light. Other therefore by Nature in respect of the creature is the Only-Begotten, as lighting things that lack Light.
Another. If we say that the creature lacks light, and that the Only-Begotten lightens it, the creature does not bring itself to the Light; hence neither is it Very Light as the Son is.
Another. If that which is by nature and truth light does not admit of darkness, and the Only-Begotten is Very Light, and the creature likewise Very Light, why does the Scripture say of the Son, The darkness comprehended it not: but of us Paul saith, In whom the god of this world hath blinded the eyes of them which believe not? and again the Saviour Himself, While ye have the light, walk in the light, lest darkness come upon you. For it is I suppose clear to all, that unless it were possible for some of us to be apprehended by the darkness, our Saviour would not have said ought of this. How then will any longer be the same in nature the Only-Begotten and the creature, the Unchangeable with the changing, He Who may not suffer ought that injures with the darkened and that can acquire lighting, as something, that is, accruing to it, and not inherent in it by nature?
Another. If the Only-Begotten be not Alone Very Light, but the creature have it too, as connatural with Him, how |79 cry we aloud to God the Father, In Thy Light shall we see light? For if we be very light, how shall we be enlightened in another? But if we as needing light from without us say this, we clearly are not in truth light. Hence neither are we connatural with the Word Who is by Nature so far above us.
Another expository. Our Lord Jesus Christ is found to say in the Gospel, And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light. But if the Only-Begotten is the Very Light, and the creature is capable of being likewise very light: how cometh He in order to lighten it, and it loved darkness? How at all cometh it not to the light, if itself be the very light? For things that pertain to any by nature have their possession inherent: things that are eligible of the will, have not that inherence: as for example;----not of one's own will does one attain to being a rational man; for one has it by nature: but one will have it of one's own will to be bad or good, and will likewise of one's own power love righteousness or the reverse. If the creature is by nature the light (for this is the meaning of very), how cometh it not to the light? or how loveth it the darkness, as though it possessed not by nature the being very light, but made through choice rather its inclination to the better or the worse?
Either therefore let our opponents dare to say that the endowments above those of the creature are not naturally inherent in the Son, that they may be convicted of more naked blasphemy and may hear from all, The Lord shall cut off all deceitful lips, and the tongue that speaketh proud things, or if they surely confess that these goods are in Him Essentially, let them not connect with Him in unity of nature, the nature that is not so, as we have just shewn.
Another. If the Word of God be not Alone the Very Light, but the creature too possess the being very light, as He does, why does He say, I am the light of the world? or how shall we endure one to despoil our nature of its most |80 excellent prerogative, if it is any way possible that we too should be very light, the originate nature likewise possessing this? But if the Only-Begotten says truly, I am the Light of the world, by participation it is plain with Him, and no otherwise, will the creature be light. If so, it is not connatural with Him.
Another. If the Son be not Alone in truth Light, but this exist in things originate also:----what shall we say, when the most wise Paul writes to us, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Light? For what kind of darkness at all is there in us, or in what darkness were we, being ourselves also the in truth light? how have we been called unto the light, who are not in darkness? But neither does the herald of truth speak untrulySvho was bold to say, Do ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me? and we are called into His marvellous Light, as from darkness that is, and no otherwise. But if this be true, the creature is not of a truth light, but the Son is alone truly and strictly Light, and things originate are so by participation of Him, and therefore they are not connatural with Him.
Others with citation of utterances, gathering the readers by simpler thoughts to the confession that the Son of God Alone is the Very Light, the nature of things originate lighted by largess from Him, not possessing the being light essentially as He is.
The Psalmist says, The light of Thy Countenance was impressed upon us, O Lord. And what is the Countenance of God the Father Whose Light has been impressed upon us? Is it not surely the Only-Begotten Son of God, the Express Image, and Which therefore says, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father? But it was impressed on us, making us of like form with Himself and engraving the illumination which is through His own Spirit as a Divine Image upon those who believe on Him, that they too may now be called as He both gods and sons of God. But if ought of things originate were the very light, how was it impressed upon us? For |81 the Light shineth in darkness, according to the unlying voice of the Spirit-clad. For how will light be manifest in light?
Another. The Psalmist says, Light sprang up for the righteous. If to him who hath and lacketh not, it is superfluous. But if the Light springeth up as to one who hath it not, the Only-Begotten Alone is Light, the creature participate of Light and therefore alien-in-nature.
Another. The Psalmist says, For they got not the land in possession with their own sword, neither did their own arm save them: but Thy Right Hand and Thine Arm and the Light of Thy Countenance. The light of the countenance of God the Father he here calls His revelation from the Son through the Spirit, and His conducting thereof unto all things that are, which alone was what saved Israel and liberated them from the tyranny of the Egyptians. If then not the Only-Begotten Alone be the very light, but an equal dignity be inherent in the creature too, why were these of whom he speaks not saved by their own light, but are set forth as supplied by additions from an alien and needless light? But it is clear that the Only Begotten shone forth as on those lacking Light. Hence is He (and that alone) the Very Light, and the creature borrows of Him the grace. If so, how will it any longer be connatural with Him?
Another. The Psalmist says, Blessed is the people that know the joyful sound: they shall walk, O Lord, in the Light of Thy Countenance. Why shall not they too walk rather in their own light? why, tell me, do they gathering illumination from another, hardly attain for themselves salvation, if they too are in truth light, as is the Countenance of God the Father, that is, the Son? But it is I suppose plain to every one from this too, that the Word bestoweth illumination on the creature, as lacking it, it is saved by receiving what it has not. How then are the Only-Begotten and the things made through Him any longer the same in essence?
Another. The Psalmist says, Unto the upright He hath sent forth light in the darkness. How was the upright in darkness at all, being himself too very light, if the nature of |82 things originate have this, just as the Only-Begotten? But if the Light is sent to the upright as not having it, we shall not need many words; for the very nature of things will proclaim aloud that not the same in essence is the needy with the Perfect, the Bestower out of abundance with the lacking.
Another. Arise, shine, O Jerusalem: for thy Light is come, and the glory of the Lord is risen upon thee. If the nature of things originate have light from its own resources, and this be strictly what we say that the Only-Begotten is in regard of being Very Light, how did Jerusalem lack one to light her? But since she receives illumination as a grace, Very Light Alone is the Son Who lights her and gives her what she has not. If so, how is He not wholly Other by Nature than she?
Another. Behold I have given Thee for a covenant of the people, for a light of the Gentiles. For how should the rational creature that is on earth at all need light, if to be very light is inherent in it by nature? For God the Father gives His Own Son to it as having it not already: and it receiving Him proclaims by the very nature of the thing, both the poverty of its own nature and the Rich Dignity of Him Who lights it.
Another. O house of Jacob, come ye and let us walk in the light of the Lord. Why do these not rather walk in their own light, but the Only-Begotten holds forth light to them, implanting in them the own good of His Essence? But trusting not in what is their own, do they borrow what is another's: as not having therefore, they know how to do this.
Another. The Saviour saith, I am the Light of the world: he that followeth Me shall not walk in darkness but shall have the Light of life. Let the creature too dare to utter such a word, if it too be by nature light. But if it shrink back from the word, it will also flee the thing itself, confessing the true Light, that is, the Son.
Another. The Lord saith, While ye have light, believe in the Light, that ye may be the children of light. Would they who were by nature light, by not believing, lose the light? if it |83 be indeed any way possible for the originate essence to be the very light. And how could this be? For not as to things that of essence accrue to any does the loss of them at all happen through negligence, but as to things whereof the will works the possession, and that can accrue and depart without the damage of the subject. As for example, a man is rational by nature, a ship-builder by will, or infirm in body by accident. He cannot at all become irrational; he may lose his ship-building experience, if for example he be negligent, and he may drive away what befalls him of sickness, hastening to improvement through medicine. Therefore things that accrue to any essentially have their position radical. If then the nature of things originate can at all be the very light, how do they who will not believe lose the light, or how will they who believe become children of light? For if they too are by nature the light, they are called children of themselves. And what is the reward to them that believe? for they who do not receive the faith are rather their own children. From such considerations inferring the truth, we shall say that the Only Begotten is Alone the Very Light, the creature lacking light and hence other in nature.
Another. Jesus then said unto them, Yet a little while is the light with you: walk while ye have the light, lest darkness come upon you. To this too you may apply well the argument used above. For that which is by nature light, will never be apprehended by darkness.
Another. John saith, He that saith he is in the light and hateth his brother is in darkness even until now. Of choice then is the light in us, and of will rather than of essence accrues it to things originate, if he that hateth his brother is in darkness. But the Only-Begotten is Light by Nature, for He hath not the dignity as the fruit of choice. Hence neither is He connatural to things originate Who is so far above them.
Another akin to this. He that loveth his brother abideth in the light. Love imparteth to things originate what they have not, Light that is, but the Only-Begotten is Light: Other therefore is He than they in whom through love He is. |84
CHAPTER IX. That the soul of man does not exist prior to the body, nor is the embodiment as some say a consequence of former sins.
Which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Sure is the Divine, for he not only thinks that he ought to declare that the Only-Begotten is indeed the Very Light, but he adds forthwith to the things that he has said the demonstration thereof, all but crying aloud with most earnest voice, I say that He is the Very Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.
Do then, (may one say who would fain receive the Divine doctrines not without search,) the angels not lighten the mind of men? Cornelius, tell me, from whom did he learn that he must by Baptism be saved by God? And Manoah the father of Sampson, was he not by an angel's voice fore-instructed of things to come? The Prophet Zechariah likewise does he not clearly tell us, And the angel that talked with me said unto me I will shew thee what these be? And again going through the same words, does he not clearly shew that angels used to reveal the knowledge of hidden things spiritually to him? And behold, says he, the angel that talked with me went forth and another angel went out to meet him and said unto him Run, speak to this young man saying, Jerusalem shall be inhabited as towns without walls for the multitude of men and cattle therein. What, tell me, does not the most wise Daniel too, falling in with marvellous visions, gain through the voice of angels the revelation of the things beheld by him? For hear him saying And it came to pass when I, I Daniel had seen the vision and sought for the meaning, then behold there stood before me as the |85 appearance of a man, and I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai which called and said Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. Hence the power of lighting is in angels, and not only in them, but even man too borrows illumination from man. And of a truth that Eunuch eager after learning when he understood not the prophecies about our Saviour says to Philip, I pray thee, of whom speak-eth the Prophet this? of himself or of some other man? And they who hasten to this world's teachers, go to them I suppose for no other reason than this alone. And why do we yet linger in these things, when it is in our power to free ourselves easily, producing as proof what was said by our Saviour to the holy Apostles, Ye are the light of the world?
Such things is it like that one in his perplexity will say, but he will hear from us the reply, We see my friend that in the creature is what is compound, and nought of simple is in it: hence he who can give wisdom to others, if he be originate, is not wisdom itself, but a minister of the wisdom that is in him: for in wisdom is the wise man wise. And he who teaches the prudent, is not prudence itself, but the minister of prudence that is in him; for in prudence are these too prudent. And he again who has skill to enlighten others, is not the light itself, but the lender of the light that is in him, imparting it to others also by teaching, and communicating to the rest the good that he has received. Wherefore it was said to the holy Apostles also, Freely ye have received, freely give. For whatever goods there were in them, these were surely God-given, and the nature of men may not a whit boast itself of its own goods, nor yet that of the holy Angels. For after the being called into being, each of things that are has of God the mode of its existence, and we lay it down for certain that nought is in them essentially which is not a gift of the liberality of Him Who created, and has for its root the Favour of the Maker.
Since therefore things originate are compound, there will be in them no light strictly and simply or without compound, but this too with everything else they will have of participation and receiving it of God. But the Very Light, |86 is that which lightens, not which is lighted of another; and this the Only-Begotten is, considered in simple and uncompounded nature: for the God-head withdraws from ought of double.
These things then are thus. But the opponent will haply say again to us, If the saints were not by nature light, why did the Saviour call them not partakers of light, but light? And how is the creature other in nature than He, if as He is called Light, so too is the rational creation? For Ye are the light of the world, did the disciples hear.
What then, excellent sir, will we reply? Sons of God and gods are we called by the Divine Scriptures, according as it is said, I have said Ye are gods and all of you are children of the Most High. Shall we then, leaving off being what we are, mount up to the Divine and unutterable Essence, and deposing the Word of God from His very Sonship, in place of Him sit with the Father and make the kindness of Him Who honours us a pretext for impiety? God forbid; but the Son will be unchangeably in that which He is, we, adopted unto sonship and gods by grace, not ignorant of what we are: and in this way do we believe that the saints are light.
I think that we should consider and look at this also. The rational portion of the preation being enlightened enlightens by participation of ideas out of the mind inpoured into another's understanding, and such sort of enlightenment will rightly be called teaching rather than revelation. But the Word of God lighteth every man that cometh into the world, not after the manner of teaching, as the angels for example or men, but rather as God after the mode of creation He engrafteth in each of those that are called unto being, the seed of wisdom or of Divine knowledge, and implanteth a root of understanding and so rendereth the living creature rational, shewing it participate of His own Nature, and sending into the mind as it were certain luminous vapours of the Unutterable Brightness, in way and mode that Himself knoweth: for one may not, I deem, say on these subjects anything overmuch. Therefore our forefather |87 Adam too is seen to have attained the being wise not in time, as we, but straightway from the first beginnings of his being does he appear perfect in understanding, preserving in himself the illumination given of God to his nature as yet untroubled and pure, and holding the dignity of his nature unadulterated.
The Son therefore lights after the manner of creation, as being Himself the Very Light, and by participation with the Light the creature shines forth, and is therefore called and is light, mounting up to what is above its nature by the kindness of Him Who glorified it and Who crowneth it with divers honours, so that each one of those who have been honoured, may with reason come forth and lifting up prayers of thanksgiving, sing with loud voice, Bless the Lord O my soul and forget not all His benefits, Who forgiveth all thine iniquities, Who healeth all thy diseases, Who redeemeth thy life from destruction, Who crowneth thee with loving kindness and tender mercies, Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things. For verily doth the Lord mercies, rendering those that are little and a mere nothing according to their own nature, great and worthy of marvel through His Goodness toward them, even as He has, as God, willed to adorn us ungrudgingly with His own goods, and hence calls us gods and light, and what of good things does He not call us?
What does he say next? That He was in the world. Profitably does the Divine add this also, introducing thereby a thought most needful for us. For when he said, He was the Very Light which lighteth every man coming into the world, and it was not wholly clear to the hearers, whether it meant that the Light lighteth every man that cometh into the world, or that the Very Light itself, passing as from some other place into the world, maketh its illumination of all men: needs does the Spirit-bearer reveal to us the truth and interpret the force of his own words, saying straightway of the Light, that He was in the world: that hence you might understand the words coming into the world of man, and that it might be predicated rather of the enlightened nature, as being called out of not being into being. For like a |88 certain place seen in thought is the not being to things originate, whence in a sort of way passing into being, it takes at length another place, that namely of being. Hence more properly and fitly will the nature of man admit of itself that it was lighted immediately from the first periods, and that it received understanding coincident and co-fashioned with its being from the Light Which is in the world, that is the Only-Begotten, Who fills all things with the unspeakable light of the God-head, and is present with the angels in Heaven, is with those on the earth, leaves not even Hellitself empty of His God-head, and everywhere abiding with all removes from none, so that with reason does the most wise Psalmist marvelling thereat say: Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy Presence? If I ascend up into Heaven, Thou art there: if I make my bed in Hell, behold Thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there shall Thy Hand lead me, and Thy Right Hand shall hold me. For the Divine Hand graspeth every place and all creation, holding together into being things made and drawing together unto life things lacking life, and implanting the spiritual light in things recipient of understanding. Yet It is not in place, as we have already said, nor does it endure motion of place (for this is the property of bodies), but rather fulfils all things as God.
But perhaps some one will say to this, What then do we say, good sir, when any brings forward to us Christ saying, I am come a light into the world? what when the Psalmist speaks, O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth 1 For lo here He Himself clearly says that He is come into the world, as not being in it, that is: and the Psalmist again was entreating that He Who was not yet present should be sent, according, that is, to the meaning of the words, and its declaration of His being sent to us.
To this we say, that the Divine having clad the Only-Begotten with God-befitting dignity says that He is ever and unceasingly in the world, as Life by Nature, as Light by Essence, fulfilling the creation as God, not circumscript |89 by place, not meted by intervals, not comprehended by quantity, neither compassed at all by ought, nor needing to pass from one place to another, but in all He dwells, none He forsakes: yet he asserted that He came in the world (although present therein) by the Incarnation. For He shewed Himself upon earth and conversed with men with flesh, making His Presence in the world more manifest thereby, and He Who was aforetime comprehended by idea, seen at length by the very eyes of the body also, implanted in us a grosser so to speak perception of the knowledge of God, made known by wonders and mighty deeds. And the Psalmist entreats that the Word of God may be sent to us to enlighten the world, in no other way as seems to me, but in this. But I think that the studious should consider this again, that keener is the mind than all speech, sharper the motion of the understanding than the tongue. Hence as far as pertains to the delicacy of the mind and its subtil motion, we behold the varied beauty of the Divine Nature: but we utter the things respecting it in more human wise and in the speech that belongs to us, the tongue not being able to stretch forth unto the measure of the truth. Wherefore Paul too, the steward of the Mysteries of the Saviour, used to ask of God utterance to open his mouth. Nought then will the poverty of our language hurt the Natural Dignities of the Only-Begotten, but what belongs to Him will be conceived of after a Divine sort, but will be uttered as matter of necessity in more human wise, both by Him for our sakes and by the Saints of Him according to the measure of our nature.
It were then, it seems, not amiss to be content with what has been already said in explanation of the words before us. Yet since I deem that the pen that ministers to the Divine doctrines should be above sloth, come let us bringing forward the lection again examine more exactly how the words coming into the world predicated of man, as is fit, should be understood. For the light was in the world, as the Evangelist also himself testified to us, and we have maintained that it was not the Light that cometh into the world but rather the man |90 who is being lighted. Some therefore say, belching forth of their own heart and not out of the mouth of the Lord, as it is "written, that the souls of men were pre-existent in Heaven before the fashioning of their bodies, passing long time in un-embodied bliss, and enjoying more purely the true Good. But when the sate of better things came into them and, declining at length to the worser, they sank to strange thoughts and desires, the Creator justly displeased sends them forth into the world, and entangled them with bodies of earth compelling them to be burdened therewith, and having shut them as it were in some cave of strange pleasures, decreed to instruct them by the very trial itself, how bitter it is to be carried away to the worser, and to make no account of what is good. And in proof of this most ridiculous fable of theirs, they wrest first of all this that is now before us: He was the Very Light Which lighteth every man coming into the world, and, besides, certain other things of the Divine Scripture, such as, Before I was afflicted I went astray, and moreover not ashamed of such foolish prating say, Lo the soul says that before its humiliation, that is, its embodiment, it transgressed and that therefore it was justly afflicted, brought in bondage to death and corruption, even as Paul too stileth the body saying O wretched man that I am I who shall deliver me from, the body of this death? But if the soul, he says, goeth astray before it was afflicted, it also cometh into the world, as having that is a previous being (for how could it sin at at all if it existed not yet?); and cometh into the world, setting out that is from some quarter. Such things as these they stringing against the doctrines of the Church and heaping up the trash of their empty expositions in the ears of the of the faithful will rightly hear, Woe unto the foolish prophets that follow their own spirit and have seen nothing! For visions in truth, and auguries by birds and prophecies of their own heart they setting against the words spoken by the Spirit, do not perceive to how great absurdity their device will run; as the Psalmist says unto God, Thou, Thou art to be feared: and who may stand in Thy Sight when once Thou art angry? |91
But that it is most exceedingly absurd to suppose that the soul pre-exists, and to think that for elder transgressions it was sent down into bodies of earth, we shall endeavour to prove according to our ability by the subjoined considerations, knowing what is written, Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.
Thoughts or considerations of a complex kind in the way of demonstration.
1. If the soul of man have existence prior to the formation of the body, and, declining to evil according to the surmises of some, has for punishment of its transgression a descent into flesh, how, tell me, does the Evangelist say that it is lighted on coming into the world? For this I suppose is honour and the addition of fair gifts. But not by being honoured is one punished, nor yet chastised by being made recipient of the Divine good things, but by meeting with what is of the wrath of the punisher. But since man on his coming into the world is not in this condition, but on the contrary is even lighted, it is I suppose clear that he that is honoured with flesh has not his embodiment for a punishment.
2. Another. If before the body the soul were a mind yet pure, living in bliss, and by turning aside to ill fell, and therefore came to be in flesh, how is it lighted on its entry into the world? For one must needs say that it was destitute of light before it came: if so, how any longer was that pure mind which had then scarce a beginning of being lighted, when it came into the world, and not without flesh?
3. Another. If the soul of man existed before the body; and the mind therefore existed yet pure, attached more properly to the desire of good things, but from turning aside to the worser is sent into earthly body, and being therein, no longer rejects the will to transgress, how is it not wronged, not then specially entrusted with the doing of this, when it existed with a greater aptness for virtue, not as yet in bondage to the ills that proceed from the body, but when it |92 had come into the turbid waters of sin, then out of season compelled to do this? But the Divinity will not miss of the befitting time, nor that injure to Whose Nature doing injury belongeth not. In season then and rightly do we refuse sin when in the flesh, having this season alone of being, in which with bodies we come into the world, leaving the former not being, as though a certain place, and from it passing into a beginning of being.
4. Another. What reason is there, I would fain ask them, in the soul that sinned prior to the body being sent into the body, that it might learn by experience the disgrace of its own lusts? For they are not ashamed to set forth this too, although it ought rather to have been withdrawn from the very imagination of its ills, not thrust down to the very depth of base pleasures. For this rather than the other were a mode of healing. If then it has the embodiment an increase of its disease in order that it may revel in the pleasures of the body, one would not praise the Corrector, injuring that which was sick by the very means whereby He thought to advantage it. But if it has it in order that it may cease from its passions, how is it possible that it having fallen into the very depth of lust should arise, and not rather have spurned the very beginning of the disease, while it was free from that which dragged it down into sin?
5. Another. If the soul in pre-existence transgressed and was for this reason entangled with flesh and blood, receiving this in the nature of punishment, how is it not the duty of them who believe in Christ and who received thereby the remission of sin, to go forthwith out of their bodies and to cast away that which is put about them as a punishment? How, tell me, does the soul of man have perfect remission while yet bearing about it the method of its punishment? But we see that they who believe are so far from wishing to be freed from their bodies, that together with their confessions in Christ they declare the resurrection of the flesh. No method of punishment then will that be which is honoured even with the confession of the faith, |93 witnessing, through its return back to life, to the Divine Power of the Saviour the being able to do all things easily.
6. Another. If the soul pre-existing according to them sinned and was for this reason entangled with flesh, why does the Law order the graver offences to be honoured with death, and suffer him who has committed no crime to live? For I suppose that it would rather have been right to let those who are guilty of the basest ill linger long in their bodies, that they might be the more heavily punished, and to let those who had committed no crime free from their bodies, if the embodiment ranks as a punishment. But on the contrary, the murderer is punished with death, the righteous man suffers nothing in his body. The embodiment does not therefore belong to punishment.
7. Another. If souls were embodied for previous sins, and the nature of the body were invented as a species of punishment for them, how did the Saviour profit us by abolishing death? how was not rather decay a mercy, destroying that which punished us, and putting an end to the wrath against us? Hence one might rather say that it were meeter to give thanks to decay than on the contrary to Him Who laid on us endless infliction through the resurrection of the dead. And yet we give thanks as freed from death and decay through Christ. Hence embodiment is not of the nature of punishment to the soul of man.
8. Another from the same idea. If the souls of men were entangled with earthly bodies in satisfaction of elder transgressions, what thank tell me shall we acknowledge to God Who promises us the Resurrection? For this is clearly a renewal of punishment and a building up of what hurts us, if a long punishment is clearly bitter to every one. It is then hard that bodies should rise which have an office of punishment to their wretched souls. And yet nature has from Christ, as a gift renewing it unto joy, the resurrection. The embodiment is not therefore of the nature of punishment.
9. Another. The Prophetic word appears as publishing to us some great and long desired-feast. For, says it, the |94 dead shall arise, and they that be in the tombs shall be raised. But if the embodiment were indeed of the nature of punishment to the wretched souls of men, how would not the Prophet rather sorrow when proclaiming these things as from God? How will that proclamation be in any way good which brings us the duration of what vexes us? For he should rather have said, if he wished to rejoice those who had received bodies by reason of sin, The dead shall not arise, and the nature of the flesh shall perish. But on the contrary he rejoices them saying that there shall be a resurrection of bodies by the will of God. How then can the body wherein both ourselves rejoice and God is well pleased be (according to the uncounsel of some) of the nature of a punishment?
10. Another. God, in blessing the blessed Abraham promised that his seed should be as the multitude innumerable of the stars. If it be true that the soul sinning before the body is sent down to earth and flesh to be punished, God promised to the righteous man, an ignoble multitude of condemned, runagates from good, and not a seed participant of blessing. But God says this as a blessing to Abraham: hence the origin of bodies is freed from all accusal.
11. Another. The race of the Israelites spread forth into a multitude great and innumerable. And indeed justly marvellous at this does the hierophant Moses pray saying to them, And behold ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude: the Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are. But if it were punishment to the souls of men to be in the world with bodies, and they must needs so be, and not bare of them, Moses' saying will be found to be verily a curse, not a blessing. But it is not so, it was made as a blessing: the embodiment therefore is not of the nature of punishment.
12. Another. To those who attempt to ask amiss God endures not to give. And an unlying witness to us will be the disciple of the Saviour, saying, Ye ash and receive not, because ye ash amiss. If then it were a punishment to a soul to be embodied, how would not one with reason say that Hannah the wife of Elkanah missed widely of what was |95 fit, when she so instantly poured her prayer unto God and asked for a man child. For she was asking for the downfall of a soul and its descent into a body. How then came God to give her the holy Samuel as her son, if it were wholly of necessity that a soul should sin, in order that so, entangled with a body, it might fulfil the woman's request. And yet God gave, to Whom it is inherent to give only good things and, by readily assenting to her, He frees her request from all blame. Hence embodiment is not a result of sin, nor yet of the nature of punishment as some say.
13. Another. If the body has been given as a punishment to the soul of man, what induced Hezekiah the king of Jerusalem, although good and wise, to deprecate not without bitter tears the death of the body, and to shrink from putting off the instrument of his punishment, and to beseech that he might be honoured with an increase of years, although he surely ought, if he were really good, not to have deprecated death, but to have thought it a burden to be entangled with a body and to have acknowledged this rather than the other as a favour. And how did God promise him as a favour saying, Behold I will add unto thy days fifteen years, albeit the promise was an addition of punishment, not a mode of kindness, if these set forth the truth? Yet the promise from above was a gift and the addition a kindness. Hence the embodiment is not a punishment to souls.
14. Another. If the body is given to the soul of man in the light of punishment, what favour did God repay to the Eunuch who brought up Jeremiah out of the dungeon, saying, I will give thy life for a prey and will save thee from the Chaldeans? For He should rather have let him die that He might also honour him, releasing him from the prison and punishment. What tell me did He give to the young men of Israel, in delivering them from the flame and from the cruelty of the Babylonians? why did He rescue the wise Daniel from the cruelty of the lions? But verily He doeth these things in kindness and is glorified because of them. The dwelling in the flesh is not then of the nature of |96 punishment, in order that honour and punishment at God's hands may not be one and the same.
15. Another. Paul teaching us that there shall be in due time an investigation before the Divine Judgment-seat of each man's life says, For we must all appear before the judgement-seat of Christ, that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he done, whether it be good or bad. But if it be only for the things done in the body that a man either receiveth punishment at the hands of the Judge, or is accounted worthy of befitting reward, and no mention is made of prior sins, nor any charge previous to his birth gone into: how had the soul any pre-existence, or how was it humbled in consequence of sin, as some say, seeing that its time with flesh is alone marked out, for that the things alone that were done in it are gone into?
16. Another. If souls were embodied on account of previous sins, how does Paul write to us saying, Present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God? For if in the nature of punishment they were given to our wretched souls, how should we present then for an odour of a sweet smell to God? how will that be acceptable through which we received our sentence? or what kind of virtue at all will that admit of, whose nature is punishment, and root sin?
17. Another. Shewing that corruption is extended against the whole nature of man, because of the transgression in Adam, Paul saith, Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam's transgression. How then does he say that death reigned even over them that had not sinned, if the mortal body were given us in consequence of former sins? For where at all are they that have not sinned, if the embodiment be the punishment of faults, and our being in this life with our body is a pre-existing charge against us? Unlearned then is the proposition of our opponents.
18. Another. The Disciples once made enquiry of our Saviour concerning one born blind, and said, Master who did sin, this man or his parents, that he was born blind? For since it is written in the prophetic Scriptures, of God, that |97 He visits the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, the disciples began to imagine that such was the case with this man. What then does Christ say to this? Verily I say to you, neither hath this man sinned nor his parents, but that the works of God should be made manifest in him. How then does He exempt them from sin, although not free from blame as to their lives? for being men, they were surely liable also to faults. But it is manifest and clear that the discourse pertains to the period prior to birth, during which they not yet existing, neither had they sinned, that Christ may be true.
19. Another. The blessed Prophet Isaiah explaining the reason of the earth being made says, He created it not in vain, He formed it to be inhabited. But it was altogether right that the earth should be inhabited, not filled with bare spirits, nor with fleshless and unclad souls, but with bodies suitable to it. Was it then Divine Counsel that wrought that souls should sin, in order that the nature of bodies should also come into being, and thus at length the earth be shewn to have been created not in vain? But this is absurd; the other therefore has the better.
20. Another. Wisdom the Artificer of all things says of herself in the book of Proverbs I was she in whom He rejoiced, the Creator of all that is, and I daily rejoiced always before Him when He rejoiced in having consummated the world and took delight in the sons of men. When then on His completion of the world, God rejoices exceedingly in the forming of man, how will he not be bereft of all sense who subjects the soul to previous sins and says that it was therefore embodied, and was punished after this fashion? For will not God be the maker of a prison rather than a world? will He not be delighting contrary to reason in those who are undergoing punishment? And how will He be Good who delights in things so absurd? But verily He is Good and therefore the Maker of things good: the embodiment will not therefore be of the nature of punishment.
21. Another. If the soul of man by its entanglement |98 with flesh pays the penalty of transgressions prior to its birth in the world, and the body occupies the position of a punishment to it, why was the Flood brought in upon the world of the ungodly, and Noah being upright was preserved and has this recompense of his faith from God? For ought not rather those who had sinned exceedingly to have lingered longer time in the body that they might be punished also more severely, and the good to have been set free from their bonds of flesh and received the release from the body as the recompense of their piety toward God? But I suppose that the Creator of all being Righteous lays on each rank the sentence due to it. Since then He being Righteous punishes the ungodly with the death of the body, gladdens again the righteous with life together with the body: bodies are no punishment to the souls of men, that God be not unrighteous, punishing the ungodly with favour, honouring again the righteous with punishment.
22. Another. If to pay the penalty of previous offences the soul has descended into flesh and body, how did the Saviour love Lazarus, raising him, and compelling him. who was once set free from his bands to return to them again? But Christ did it helping him and as a friend did He honour the dead by raising him from the dead. To no purpose then is the proposition of the opponents.
23. Another. If, as those in their nonsense say, the body was given to the soul in the light of a punishment, devised on account of former sin of its, it was sin that brought in the nature of human bodies. But again also death entered by sin: sin therefore clearly appears arming itself against itself, undoing the beginning by what follows, and Satan is therefore divided against himself, how then shall his kingdom stand? as our Saviour saith. But verily so to think is incredible: the contrary therefore is true.
24. Another. God created all things in incorruption and He made not death, but through envy of the devil came death into the world. But if it be true, that the body was given in nature of punishment to the soul of man, why, sirs, should we accuse the envy of the devil for bringing in to us the |99 termination of wretchedness and destroying the body which is our punishment? And for what in the world do we offer thanks to the Saviour for having again bound us to the flesh through the resurrection? yet we do indeed give thanks, and the envy of the devil has vexed our nature, procuring corruption to our bodies. No mode of punishment then is the body nor yet is it the wages of our former sin.
And the world was made by Him.
The Evangelist in these words needfully indicates that the world was made through the Very Light, that is, the Only-Begotten. For although, having called Him most distinctly Word at the beginning, he affirmed that all things were made through Him, and that without Him nothing was brought into being, and demonstrated thereby that He was their Maker and Creator: yet it was necessary now most particularly to take this up again anew, that no room of error and perdition might be left to those who are wont to pervert the uprightness of the Divine dogmas. For when he said of the Light that it was in the world, that no one wresting the saying to senseless conceptions, should make the Light connumerate with the visible portions of the universe (as sun and moon and stars for example are in the world, but as parts of the universe, and as limbs of one body), profitably and of necessity does the Evangelist introduce the Only-Begotten as Fashioner and Artificer of the whole universe, and thereby again fully stablishes us and leads us into an unerring and right apprehension of the truth. For who would be so silly or have such great folly in his mind, as not to conceive that wholly other than the universe is He through Whom it is said to have been made, and to put the creature in its own place, to sever off the Creator in reasoning and to conceive that His Nature is Divine? For the thing made must needs be other in nature than the Maker, that maker and made appear not the same.
For if they be conceived of as the same, without any inherent distinction as to the mode of being, the made will mount up to the nature of the Maker, the Creator descend to that of the creatures, and will no longer have Alone the |100 power of bringing into being, but this will be found to exist in potential in things made also, if nothing at all severs them from being consubstantial with God: and so at length the creature will be its own creator and the Evangelist will endow the Only-Begotten with a mere title of honour when he says that He was in the world, and the world, was made by Him. But he knows that the Creator of all things is One in Nature. Not as the same then will made and Maker, God and creature be conceived of by those who know how to believe aright, but the one will be subject as a bondman, acknowledging the limit of its own nature: the Son will reign over it, having Alone with the Father the power both to call things which he not as though they were and by His ineffable Power to bring that which is not yet into being.
But that the Son being by Nature God, is wholly Other than the creature, we having already sufficiently gone through in the Discourse of the Holy Trinity, will say nothing more here. But we will add this for profit, that in saying that the world was made through Him he brings us up to the thought of the Father, and with the "Through Whom" brings in also the "Of Whom." For all things are from the Father through the Son in the Holy Ghost.
And the world knew Him not.
The bearer of the Spirit is watchful and hastens to forestall the sophistry of some; and you may marvel again at the reasoning in his thoughts. He named the Son Very Light, and affirmed that He lighteth every man that cometh into the world, and besides says that He was in the world and the world was made through Him.
But one of our opponents might forthwith say, "If the Word, sirs, were light and if it lighted the heart of every man, unto Divine knowledge that is and unto the under-standing that befits man, and if it were always in the world and were Himself its Maker, how came He to be unknown even during so long periods? He therefore was not lighting nor yet was He at all the Light."
These things the Divine meets with some warmth saying |101 The world knew Him not: not on His own account was He unknown, says he; but let the world blame its own weakness. For the Son lighteth, the creature blunts the grace. It had imparted to it sight to conceive of Him Who is God by Nature, and it squandered the gift, it made things made the limit of its contemplation, it shrank from going further, it buried the illumination under its negligence, it neglected the gift which that it might not befall him Paul commands his disciple to watch. Nought then to the light is the ill of the enlightened. For as the light of the sun rises upon all, but the blind is nothing profited, yet we do not therefore reasonably blame the sun's ray, but rather find fault with the disease of the sight (for the one was lighting, the other received not the lighting): so (I deem) ought we to conceive of the Only-Begotten also, that He is Very Light. But the god of this world, as Paul too saith, hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the knowledge of God should shine among them. We say then that the man was subjected to blindness herein, not that he reached a total deprivation of light (for the God-given understanding is surely preserved in his nature) but that he was quenching it with his more foolish manner of life and that by turning aside to the worse he was wasting and melting away the measure of the grace. Wherefore the most wise Psalmist too when representing to us the character of such an one, then indeed (and rightly) begs to be enlightened, saying to God, Open Thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of Thy law. For He gave them the law to be their help, which re-kindled in us the Divine Light and purged away like a sort of humour from the eyes of the heart the darkness which came upon them from the ancient unlearning.
The world then is under the charge of unthankfulness alike and want of perception in this matter, both as ignorant of its own Creator, and shewing forth no good fruit from being lighted, that that again may be manifestly true of it, which was sung by prophet's voice of the children of Israel, I looked that it should bring forth grapes, but it brought forth |102 thorns. For the fruit of being enlightened is verily the true apprehension of the Only Begotten, hanging like a grape-bunch from the vine branch, I mean man's understanding, and not on the contrary the uncounsel that leads to polytheistic error, like the sharp briar rising up within us and wounding to death our mind with its deceits.
11 He came unto His own and His own received Him not.
The Evangelist pursues his plea that the world knew not its Illuminer, that is the Only-Begotten, and from the worse sin of the children of Israel, he hastens to clench the charges against the Gentiles and shews the disease of ignorance alike and unbelief which lay upon the whole world. Very appositely does he drive forward to discourse of the Incarnation, and from speaking of the Godhead 8, he comes down by degrees to the exposition of the Dispensation with Flesh, which the Son made for our sakes.
For it were no marvel if the world knew not, says he, the Only-Begotten, seeing that it had left the understanding that befits man, and was ignorant that it is and was made in honour, and compared to the beasts that perish, as the Divine Psalmist also said; when the very people who were supposed above all to belong to Him shook Him off when present with the Flesh and would not receive Him when He came among them for salvation to all, recompensing to faith the kingdom of Heaven. But observe how exact is his language about these things. For the world he accuses of not at all knowing Him Who lighteth it, elaborating for it a pardon so to speak just on this account, and preparing beforehand reasonable causes for the grace given to it: but of those of Israel who were reckoned among those specially belonging to Him, he says, Received Him not. For it would not have been true to say, Knew Him not, when the older law preached Him, the Prophets who came after led them by the hand to the apprehension of the truth. The sentence therefore of severity 9 upon them was just, even as the |103 goodness too upon the Gentiles. For the world, or the Gentiles, having lost their relation 10 with God through their downfall into evil, lost besides the knowledge of Him Who enlighteneth them: but the others, who were rich in knowledge through the law and called to a polity pleasing to God, were at length voluntarily falling away from it, not receiving the Word of God Who was already known to them and Who came among them as to His own. For the whole world is God's own, in regard of its creation, and its being brought into being from Him and through Him: but Israel will more fitly be called His own 11, and will gain the glory hereof, both on account of the election of the holy fathers and for that he was named the beginning and the first-born of the children of God. For Israelis My son, My first-born, says God somewhere to Moses: whom also setting apart for Himself as one and picked out, He was wont to call His own people, saying to Pharaoh king of Egypt Let My people go. Proof from the books of Moses also shews that Israel specially pertains unto God. For when, it says, the Most High was dividing the nations, when he was separating the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the nations according to the member of the angels of God, and his people Jacob became the Lord's portion, Israel the lot of his inheritance. Among whom He also walked, as in His own lot and special portion, saying, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel.
But when He was not received, He transfers the grace to the Gentiles, and the world which knew Him not at the beginning is lighted through repentance and faith, and Israel returns to the darkness whence he had come forth. Wherefore the Saviour too saith, For judgement I am come into this world, that they which see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind.
12 But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, to them that believe on His Name.
A right judgement verily and worthy of God! The firstborn, Israel, is cast out; for he would not abide in ownness |104 with God, nor did lie receive the Son, Who came among His own, he rejected the Bestower of Nobility, he thrust away the Giver of Grace: the Gentiles received Him by faith. Therefore will Israel with reason receive the wages of their folly, they will mourn the loss of good things, they will receive the bitter fruit of their own ill-counsel, bereft of the sonship; and the Gentiles will delight them selves in the good things that are through faith, they shall find the bright rewards of their obedience and shall be planted out in his place. For they shall be cut out of the olive tree which is wild by nature, and be grafted contrary to nature into a good olive tree. And Israel shall hear, Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters, they have forsaken the Lord, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger: but one of Christ's disciples shall say to the Gentiles, But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people, that ye should shew forth the praises of Him Who hath called you out of darkness into His marvellous Light. For since they received the Son through faith, they receive the power to be ranked among the sons of God. For the Son gives what is His alone and specially and of nature to be in their power, setting it forth as common, making this a sort of image of the love for man that is inherent to Him, and of His love for the world. For in none other way could we who bore the image of the earthy escape corruption, unless the beauty of the image of the heavenly were impressed upon us, through our being called to sonship. For being partakers of Him through the Spirit, we were sealed unto likeness with Him and mount up to the primal character of the Image after which the Divine Scripture says we were made. For thus hardly recovering the pristine beauty of our nature, and re-formed unto that Divine Nature, shall we be superior to the ills that have befallen us through the transgression. Therefore we mount up unto dignity above our nature for Christ's sake, and we too shall be sons of God, not like Him in exactitude, but by grace in imitation of Him. For He is Very Son, existing from the Father; we adopted by His Kindness, through |105 grace receiving I have said, Ye are gods and all of you are children of the Most High. For the created and subject nature is called to what is above nature by the mere nod and will of the Father: but the Son and God and Lord will not possess this being God and Son, by the will of God the Father, nor in that He wills it only, but beaming forth of the Very Essence of the Father, He receives to Himself by Nature what is Its own Good. And again He is clearly seen to be Very Son, proved by comparison with ourselves. For since that which is by Nature has another mode of being from that which is by adoption, and that which is in truth from that which is by imitation, and we are called sons of God by adoption and imitation: hence He is Son by Nature and in truth, to Whom we made sons too are compared, gaining the good by grace instead of by natural endowments.
13 Which were begotten, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man but of God.
They who, he says, have been called by faith in Christ unto sonship with God, put off the littleness of their own nature, and adorned with the grace of Him Who honoureth them as with a splendid robe mount up unto dignity above nature: for no longer are they called children of flesh, but rather offspring of God by adoption.
But note how great guardedness the blessed Evangelist used in his words. For since he was going to say that those who believe are begotten of God, lest any should suppose that they are in truth born of the Essence of God the Father and arrive at an exact likeness with the Only-Begotten, or that of Him too is less properly said, From the womb before the Day star begat I Thee, and so at length He too should be brought down to the nature of creatures, even though He be said to be begotten of God, needs does he contrive this additional caution. For when he had said that power was given to them from Him Who is by Nature Son, to become sons of God, and had hereby first introduced that which is of adoption and grace, without peril does he |106 afterwards add were begotten of God; that he might shew the greatness of the grace which was conferred on them, gathering as it were into kinness of nature that which was alien from God the Father and raising up the bond to the nobility of its Lord, by means of His warm love to it.
What more then, will one perchance say, or what special have they who believe in Christ over Israel, since he too is said to have been begotten of God, as in, I begat and exalted sons, but they rejected Me? To this I think one must say, first, that the Law having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things, did not give to the children of Israel to have even this in truth, but limned as in type and outline upon them, until the time of reformation, as it is written, wherein they should at length be manifested who should more fitly and truly call God Father, because the Spirit of the Only-Begotten dwells in them. For the one had the spirit of bondage to fear, the other the spirit of adoption unto liberty, whereby we cry Abba, Father. Therefore the people who should attain unto sonship through faith that is in Christ, were fore-described in Israel as it were in shadow, even as we conceive that the circumcision in Spirit was fore-typified in theirs of old in the flesh, and in short, all of ours were in them in type. Besides, we say that Israel was called to sonship typically through the mediator Moses. Wherefore they were baptized into him too, as Paul saith, in the cloud and in the sea, and were refashioned out of idolatry unto the law of bondage, the commandment contained in the letter being ministered by angels: but they who by faith in Christ attain unto sonship with God, are baptized into nought originate, but into the Holy Trinity Itself, through the Word as Mediator, Who conjoined to Himself things human through the Flesh which was united to Him, being conjoined of nature to the Father, in that He is by Nature God. For so mounteth up the bond unto sonship, through participation with the in truth Son, called and so to say raised up to the dignity which is in Him by Nature. Wherefore we who have received the regeneration by the Spirit through faith, are called and are begotten of God. |107
But since some in mad peril dare to lie, as against the Son, so against the Holy Ghost too, saying that He is originate and created, and to thrust Him forth altogether from. Consubstantiality with God the Father, come let us again arraying the word of the true Faith against their unbridled tongues, beget occasions of profit both to ourselves and to our readers. For if neither God by Nature, O sirs, nor yet of God, is He Who is His Own Spirit and therefore Essentially inexistent in Him, but is other than He, and not removed from being connatural with things made, how are we who are begotten through Him said to be begotten of God? For either we shall say that the Evangelist certainly lies, or (if he is true and it be so and not otherwise), the Spirit will be God and of God by Nature, of Whom we too being accounted worthy to partake through faith to Christ-ward, are rendered partakers of the Divine Nature and are said to be begotten of God, and are therefore called gods, not by grace alone winging our flight to the glory that is above us, but as having now God too indwelling and lodging in us, according to what is said in the prophet, I will dwell in them and walk in them.
For let them tell us who are filled full with so great unlearning, how, having the Spirit dwelling in us, we are according to Paul temples of God, unless He be God by Nature. For if He be a creature and originate, wherefore does God destroy us, as defiling the temple of God when we defile the body wherein the Spirit indwells, having the whole Natural Property of God the Father and likewise of the Only-Begotten? And how will the Saviour be true in saying: If a man love Me, he will keep My Words: and My Father will love him and we will come unto him and make Our abode with him and rest in him? albeit it is the Spirit Who dwells in us, and through Him do we believe that we have the Father and the Son, even as John himself said again in his epistles, Hereby know we that we dwell in Him and He in us, because He hath given us of His Spirit. And how at all will He be called Spirit of God, if He be not of Him and in Him by Nature and therefore God? For if being, as those say, originate, He is the Spirit of God, there is nothing to hinder |108 the other creatures too from being called spirits of God. For this will have already overtaken them in potential, if it is at all possible that originate essence should be Spirit of God.
And it were meet in truth to set forth a long discourse upon these things and to satiate more at length, overturning the uncounsels of the heretics. But having already sufficiently gone through what relates to the Holy Ghost, in the De Trinitate, we shall therefore forbear to say much yet.
14 And the Word was made Flesh.
He has now entered openly upon the declaration of the Incarnation. For he plainly sets forth that the Only-Begotten became and is called son of man; for this and nought else does his saying that the Word was made Flesh signify: for it is as though he said more nakedly The Word was made Man. And in thus speaking he introduces again to us nought strange or unwonted, seeing that the Divine Scripture ofttimes calls the whole creature by the name of flesh alone, as in the prophet Joel: I will pour out My Spirit upon all flesh. And we do not suppose that the Prophet says that that the Divine Spirit should be bestowed upon human flesh soul-less and alone (for this would be by no means free from absurdity): but comprehending the whole by the part, he names man from the flesh: for thus it was right and not otherwise. And why, it is needful I suppose to say.
Man then is a creature rational, but composite, of soul that is and of this perishable and earthly flesh. And when it had been made by God, and was brought into being, not having of its own nature incorruption and imperishableness (for these things appertain essentially to God Alone), it was sealed with the spirit of life, by participation with the Divinity gaining the good that is above nature (for He breathed, it says, into his nostrils the breath of life and man became a living soul). But when he was being punished for his transgressions, then with justice hearing Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return, he was bared of the grace; the breath of life, that is the Spirit of Him Who says I am the Life, departed from the earthy body and the creature falls |109 into death, through the flesh alone, the soul being kept in immortality, since to the flesh too alone was it said, Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return. It needed therefore that that in us which was specially imperilled, should with the greater zeal be restored, and by intertwining again with Life That is by Nature be recalled to immortality: it needed that at length the sentence. Dust thou art and unto dust shalt thou return should be relaxed, the fallen body being united ineffably to the Word That quickeneth all things. For it needed that becoming His Flesh, it should partake of the immortality that is from Him. For it were a thing most absurd, that fire should have the power of infusing into wood the perceptible quality of its inherent power and of all but transfashioning into itself the things wherein it is by participation, and that we should not fully hold that the Word of God Which is over all, would in-work in the flesh His own Good, that is Life.
For this reason specially I suppose it was that the holy Evangelist, indicating the creature specially from the part affected, says that the Word of God became Flesh, that so we might see at once the wound and the medicine, the sick and the Physician, that which had fallen unto death and Him Who raised it unto life, that which was overcome of corruption and Him Who chased away the corruption, that which was holden of death and Him Who is superior to death, that which was bereft of life and the Giver of life.
But he says not that the Word came into flesh but that It was made Flesh, that you may not suppose that He came to it as in the case of the Prophets or other of the Saints by participation, but did Himself become actual Flesh, that is man: for so we just now said. Wherefore He is also God by Nature in Flesh and with Flesh, as having it His own, and conceived of as being Other than it, and worshipped in it and with it, according to what is written in the prophet Isaiah, Men of stature shall come over unto thee and they shall be thine: they shall come after thee; in chains they shall come over and they shall fall down unto thee, they shall make supplication unto thee, for God is in thee, and there is no God |110 beside thee. Lo they say that God is in Him, not severing the Flesh from the Word; and again they affirm that there is none other God save He, uniting to the Word that which He bears about Him, as His very own, that is the temple of the Virgin: for He is One Christ of Both.
And dwelt among us.
The Evangelist profitably goes over again what he has said, and brings the force of the thought to a clearer comprehension. For since he said that the Word of God was made Flesh, lest any out of much ignorance should imagine that He forsook His own Nature, and was in truth changed into flesh, and suffered, which were impossible (for the Godhead is far removed from all. variableness and change into ought else as to mode of being): the Divine exceeding well added straightway And dwelt among us, that considering that the things mentioned are two, the Dweller and that wherein is the dwelling, you might not suppose that He is transformed into flesh, but rather that He dwelt in Flesh, using His own Body, the Temple that is from the Holy Virgin. For in Him dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead bodily, as Paul saith.
But profitably does he affirm that the Word dwelt in us, unveiling to us this deep Mystery also: for we were all in Christ, and the community of human nature mounteth up unto His Person; since therefore was He named the last Adam,, giving richly to the common nature all things that belong to joy and glory, even as the first Adam what pertained to corruption and dejection. The Word then dwelt in all through one that the One being declared the Son of God with power according to the Spirit of holiness, the dignity might come unto all the human nature and thus because of One of us, I have said Ye are gods and all of you are children of the Most High might come to us also. Therefore in Christ verily is the bond made free, mounting up unto mystic union with Him Who bare the form of the servant; yet in us after the likeness of the One because of the relation after the flesh. For why doth He take on Him not the nature of |111 angels but the seed of Abraham, whence in all things it behoved Him to he made like unto His brethren, and to become in truth Man? Is it not clear to all, that He descended unto the condition of bondage, not Himself giving thereby ought to Himself, but bestowing Himself on us, that we through His Poverty might be rich, and, soaring up through likeness to Him unto His own special good, might be made gods and children of God through faith? For He Who is by Nature Son and God dwelt in us, wherefore in His Spirit do we cry Abba Father. And the Word dwells in One Temple taken for our sakes and of us, as in all, in order that having all in Himself, He might reconcile all in one body unto the Father, as Paul saith.
And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.
Having said that the Word was made Flesh, that is Man, and having brought Him down to brotherhood with things made and in bondage, he preserves even thus His Divine dignity intact and shews Him again full of the own Nature of the Father inherent to Him. For the Divine Nature has truly stability in Itself, not enduring to suffer change to ought else, but rather always unvarying and abiding in Its own Endowments. Hence even though the Evangelist says that the Word was made Flesh, he yet affirms that It was not overcome by the infirmities of the flesh, nor fell from Its pristine Might and Glory, when It clad Itself in our frail and inglorious body. For we saw, he says, His Glory surpassing that of others, and such as one may confess befits the Only-Begotten Son of God the Father: for full was He of grace and truth. For if one looks at the choir of the saints and measures the things that are wondrously achieved by each, one will with reason marvel and be delighted at the good things that belong to each and will surely say that they are filled with glory from God. But the Divines and witnesses say that they have seen the glory and grace of the Only-Begotten, not competing with that of the rest, but very far surpassing it and mounting up by incomparable excellencies, having no measured grace, as though another gave it, but perfect and |112 true as in the Perfect, that is, not imported nor supplied from without in the way of accession, but essentially in-existent, and the fruit of the Father's essential Property passing Naturally to the Son Who is of Him.
And if it seem good to any to test more largely what has been said, let him consider with himself both the deeds that are wonderfully done by each of the saints and those of our Saviour Christ and he will find the difference as great as we have just said. And there is this besides;----they are true servants about the house, He as a Son over his own house. And the Divine Scripture says of the Only-Begotten Blessed be he that cometh in the Name of the Lord, but of the saints God the Father says, I have even sent unto you all my servants the prophets. And the one were recipients of the grace from above, the other as Lord of Hosts says, If I do not the works of My Father, believe Me not: but if I do, though ye believe not Me, believe My works. If then the Only-Begotten is seen by the very works to be as great in power as the Father, He will conformably be celebrated by equal honours, as the Doer of equal works, and will surely as much surpass, even when in the Flesh, those who have been called unto brotherhood, as God by Nature overleaps the limits of men, and the Very Son the sons by adoption.
But since it is written in the blessed Luke, And Jesus increased in wisdom and grace, we must observe here that the Spirit-clad said that the Son hath His glory full of grace. Whither then will that which is full advance, or what addition will that at all admit, beyond which there is nought? Hence He is said to increase, not in that He is Word and God, but because He ever more greatly marvelled at, appeared more full of grace to those who saw Him, through His achievements, the disposition of those who marvelled advancing, as is more true to say, in grace, than He Who is Perfect as God. Be these things then spoken for profit, though they be somewhat discursive.
15 John bare witness of Him and cried.
The most wise Evangelist follows again the course of his |113 thoughts and makes the sequel duly correspondent to what preceded. For when he said of the Son of God, we beheld His Glory, the Glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, that he might not appear to alone say this (the word we have seen not suiting a single person), he joins with himself his namesake witness, having one and the same piety with himself. I then, says he, bear witness (for I have beheld what I said), and the Baptist likewise bears witness. A most weighty pair of Spirit-clad, and a notable pair of men foster-brothers in truth and unknowing how to lie.
But see how exceeding forcible he made his declaration. For he not only says that John bears witness of Him, but profitably adds and cried, taking his proof from the words The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, and this too exceeding well. For it was possible that some of the opponents might say, When did the Baptist witness to the Only-Begotten or to whom did he impart the things regarding Him? He cried then, says he, that is, not in a corner does he utter them, not gently and in secret does he bear witness: you may hear him crying aloud more clear than a trumpet, (not you alone hearing these things,) widespread and to all is his speech, glorious the herald, remarkable the voice, great and not unknown the Forerunner.
This was He of Whom I spake, He that cometh after me is preferred [has become] before me, for He was before me.
Having named the witness same-minded and same-named with himself, and having shewn that he used a great voice for the service of his preaching, he profitably adds the mode too of his testimony: for it is in this in particular that the whole question lies. What then do we find the great John crying regarding the Only-Begotten? He that cometh after me has become before me for He was before me. Deep is the saying and one that demands keen search into its meaning.
For the obvious and received meaning is thus: As far as belongs to the time of the Birth according to the Flesh, the Baptist preceded the Saviour, and Emmanuel clearly followed and came after by six whole months, as the blessed |114 Luke related. Some suppose that John said this, that it may be understood thus, He that cometh after me, in point of age, is preferred before me. But he who fixes a keener eye on the Divine thoughts may see, in the first place, that this view introduces us to futile ideas and carries us far from the needful subject of consideration. For the holy Baptist is introduced as a witness, not in order to shew that Christ was once later, then again earlier in the time of His Birth, but as a co-witness of His Glory, the Glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father full of grace and truth.
What meaning then can one give to such unseasonably introduced explanations as these? or how can one give us any clear interpretation, by understanding of time the words before us, He That cometh after me became before me? For be it laid down beyond a doubt that the Lord came after the Baptist, as being second to him in time according to the Flesh: how will He be also before him, I mean in time? for due order and sequence call us to this sense analogously to what preceded. But I think that it is evident to every one, that this is an impossibility. For that which cometh short of anything in point of time will never have the start of its leader. Hence it is a thing utterly senseless and altogether past belief, to imagine that the holy Baptist said of time after the Flesh,. He that cometh after me has become before me. But understanding it rather in accordance with the line of thought that preceded, we will believe that it was said in some such sense as this. The blessed Baptist meetly carries up his mode of speaking from a customary phrase to its spiritual import, and advances as it were from an image drawn from our affairs to the exposition of subtler thoughts.
For that which leads is ever considered to be more glorious than those which are said to follow, and things which succeed yield the palm to those that precede them. As for example, he who is a skilled worker in brass, or carpenter, or weaver, takes the lead and has superiority over him who is conceived as following by being a learner and advancing to perfect knowledge. But when such an one has surpassed the skill of his teacher and leaving that behind attains |115 to something superior, I deem that he who is surpassed may not unfitly say of his outstripping pupil, He that cometh after me, has become before me.
Transferring then after this sort the force of our idea to our Saviour Christ and the holy Baptist, you will rightly understand it. Take now the account of each from the beginning. The Baptist was being admired by all, he was making many disciples, a great multitude of those who came for Baptism was always surrounding him: Christ, albeit superior, was unknown, they knew not that He was Very God. Since then He was unknown, while the Baptist was admired, He seemed I suppose to fall short of him; He came a little after him who had still the higher position in honour and glory from men. But He That cometh after has become before, being shewn to be greater and superior to John. For the One was at length revealed by His works to be God, the other not surpassing the measure of human nature, is found at last to have become after.
Hence the blessed Baptist said darkly, He that cometh after me has become before me, instead of, He who was once behind me in honour, is beheld to be more glorious, and surpasses by incomparable excellencies the measure that befits and belongs to me. Thus understanding the words, we shall find him a witness of the Glory of the Only-Begotten and not an unseasonable setter forth of useless things. For his saying that Christ is greater than himself who has a great reputation for holiness, what else is it than witnessing to His especial glory?
For He was before me.
Having said that He has become before me, he needfully adds, For He was before me, ascribing to Him glory most ancient, and affirming that the precedence of all things accrued not to Him in time, but is inherent in Him from the beginning as God by Nature. For He was before me, says he, instead of, Always and every-way superior and more glorious. And by His being compared with one among things originate, the judgment against all is concentrated in |116 behalf of Him Who is above all. For we do not contemplate the great and glorious dignity of the Son as consisting in this alone that He surpassed the glory of John, but in His surpassing every originate essence.
16 And of His fulness have all we received.
The Evangelist in these words accepts the true testimony of the Baptist, and makes clear the proof of the superiority of our Saviour, and of His possessing essentially the surpassing every thing originate, both in respect of glory itself (whereof he is now more especially speaking) and of the bright catalogue of all the other good things.
For most excellently, says he, and most truly does the Baptist appear to me to say of the Only-Begotten, For He was before me, that is far surpassing and superior. For all we too, who have been enrolled in the choir of the saints, enjoy the riches of His proper good, and the nature of man is ennobled with His rather than its own excellences, when it is found to have ought that is noble. For from the fulness of the Son, as from a perennial fountain, the gift of the Divine graces springing forth comes to each soul that is found worthy to receive it. But if the Son supplies as of His Natural fulness, the creature is supplied:----how will He not be conceived of as having glory not similar to the rest, but such as will beseem the Only-Begotten of God, having the superiority over all as the fruit of His own Nature, and the pre-eminence as the Dignity of His Father's Being? And I think that the most wise Paul too when defining as to the nature of all things, was moved thereby to true ideas, so as hence at length to address the creature, For what hast thou that thou didst not receive? For together with being, the well-being after such and such wise, is God's gift to the creature, and it has nothing of its own, but becomes rich only with the munificence of Him Who gives to it. But we must note again that he says that the Son is full, that is, All-perfect in all things, and so greatly removed from being lacking in anything whatever, that He can bestow even on all, refusing diminution, and preserving the greatness of His own excellence always the same. |117
17 And grace for grace, for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.
Having said that the glory of the Only-Begotten was found more brilliant than any fame among men, and introducing the greatness in holiness incomparable above all saints that is in Him, he studies to prove this from those who have mounted up to the height of virtue. Of John then the Saviour saith, Verily I say unto you, Among them that are horn of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist. But this so great and exalted man, he brought forward but now, as himself says, crying and saying with a loud voice, He that cometh after me is preferred before me for He was before me. But since John's glory was inferior and gave place to the Only-Begotten, how must one not needs suppose that no one of the saints besides is brought up to equal measure with the Saviour Christ in regard of the glory which appears in the splendour of their actions? The Saints then that lived at the time of the Advent, not being able to surpass the virtue of John, nor mounting up to the measure that accrued to him, will with him yield the victor's palm to Christ, if the blessed Baptist gaining the highest summit in what is good, and having failed in no manner of excellence, receives not through the voice of another the judgment of inferiority to Him, but himself sealed it against himself, speaking, as a saint, truly. But since it was necessary that Emmanuel should be shewn to be greater and better than the saints of old, needs does the blessed Evangelist come to the hierophant Moses first; to whom it was said by God, I know thee before all and thou didst find grace in My sight. For that he was known before all to God, we shall know by this again: If, he says, there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make Myself known unto him in a vision and will speak unto him in a dream. My servant Moses is not so, who is faithful in all Mine house. With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently and not in dark speeches. The all-wise Moses having therefore so great excellency above the elder saints, he shews that the Only-Begotten is in every way superior and of more renown, that He might be shewn in all things to have |118 the pre-eminence, as Paul saith: and therefore he says, And grace for grace, for the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ: for I think that the blessed Evanglist would indicate something of this kind: The great Baptist, he says, made true confession declaring openly respecting the Only-Begotten, He that cometh after me is preferred before me, for He was before me, for of His fulness have all we received. And let no one suppose that the Only-Begotten surpasses John or the rest of the saints who belonged to the times of the Advent, but came short of the glory of the elder saints, who were illustrious in holiness in the times before the Advent; for he will see Him, says he, far surpassing the measure of Moses, although he possessed the superiority in holiness as compared with them; for the Lawgiver clearly affirmed that He knew him before all. John then was convicted by his own mouth of coming behind the glory of Christ: he comes short of His splendour, and there is no question at all about him, or anything to embarrass the finding out of the truth.
Whence then shall we find that the hierophant Moses himself also came short of the glory of the Lord? Let the student, he says, diligently examine the evangelic grace given to us by the Sayiour, in contrast with the grace of the law that was through Moses. For then will he see that the Son was as much superior, as He is proved to be the Lawgiver of better things than the polity of the law and introducing things superior to all those which were through Moses. For the law, he says, was given through Moses, grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. What then is the distinction between the law and the grace that comes through the Saviour, let him again see who is fond of search and an ally of good labours; we will say a little out of much, believing that boundless and vast is the number of the thoughts thereto belonging. The Law therefore was condemning the world (for God through it concluded all under sin, as Paul saith) and shewing us subject to punishments, but the Saviour rather sets it free, for He came not to judge the world but to save the world. And the Law too used to give grace |119 to men, calling them to the knowledge of God, and drawing away from the worship of idols those who had been led astray and in addition to this both pointing out evil and teaching good, if not perfectly, yet in the manner of a teacher and usefully: but the truth and grace which are through the Only-Begotten, does not introduce to us the good which is in types, nor limn things profitable as in shadow, but in glorious and most pure ordinances leads us by the hand unto even perfect knowledge of the faith. And the Law used to give the spirit of bondage to fear, but Christ the spirit of adoption unto liberty. The Law likewise brings in the circumcision in the flesh which is nothing (for circumcision is nothing, as Paul writes to certain): but our Lord Jesus Christ is the Giver of circumcision in the spirit and heart. The Law baptizes the defiled with mere water: the Saviour with the Holy Ghost and with fire. The Law brings in the tabernacle, for a figure of the true: the Saviour bears up to Heaven itself and brings into the truer tabernacle, which the Lord pitched and not man. And it were not hard to heap up other proofs besides, but we must respect our limits.
But we will say this for profit and need. The blessed Paul in few words solved the question, saying of the law and of the Saviour's grace, For if the ministration of condemnation be glory, much more doth the ministration of righteousness exceed in glory. For he says that the commandment by Moses is the ministration of condemnation; the grace through the Saviour, he calls the ministration of righteousness, to which he gives to surpass in glory, most perfectly examining the nature of things, as being clad with the Spirit. Since then the Law which condemns was given by Moses, the grace which justifies came by the Only-Begotten, how is not He, he says, superior in glory, through Whom the better things were ordained? The Psalmist then will also be true, crying aloud in the Spirit that our Lord Jesus Christ surpasses the whole illustrious multitude of the saints. For who, he says, among the clouds shall be made equal unto the Lord? or who shall be likened unto the Lord among the sons |120 of God? For the spiritual clouds, that is the holy Prophets, will yield the palm to Christ, and will never think that they ought to aim at equal glory with Him, when he who was above all men known of God, Moses, is brought down to the second place: and they who were called sons of God at the time of the Advent, will not be wholly likened to Him Who is by Nature Son, but will acknowledge their own measure, when the holy Baptist says that he himself is far behind, of whom He That knoweth the hearts says, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist. True therefore is the blessed Evangelist, saying that he has seen His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, that is, which beseems the Only-Begotten Son of God the Father, and not rather those who are called to brotherhood with Him, of whom He is Firstborn. |121
CHAPTER X. That the Only-Begotten is Alone by Nature the Son from the Father, as being of Him and in Him.
18 No man hath seen God at any time; the Only-Begotten God 12, Which is in the Bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.
See again herein the vigilance of the Spirit-clad. He was not ignorant that some would surely say, bitterly searching into the things which are spoken of the Only-Begotten: You said, good sir, that you had beheld His Glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father: then when you ought to unfold to us the explanation of this and to tell us some thing God-befitting and due, you made your demonstration from His superiority to Moses and to the measure of John, as though one could not in any other way see His Glory, although the blessed Prophet Isaiah says, I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne high and lifted up and His train filled the temple. Above it stood the Seraphim, each one had six wings, with twain he covered his face and with twain he covered his feet and with twain he did fly; and one cried unto another and said, Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of His glory: Bzekiel again cried openly to us that he both saw the Cherubim, having a firmament like a sapphire resting upon their heads, and upon a throne likewise the Lord of Hosts: his words are these, And there was a voice, says he, from the firmament that was over their heads, and above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it: and I saw as the colour of |122 amber, from the appearance of his loins even upwards and from the appearance of his loins even downwards, I saw as it were the appearance of fire and it had brightness round about, as the appearance of the bow that is in the cloud in the day of rain, so was the appearance of the brightness round about. This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the Lord.
Since therefore it was not unlikely that not a few of the more unlearned would say some such things to us, needs does the blessed Evangelist hasten to cut short their attempts, saying, No man hath seen God at any time; for the Only-Begotten Himself being God, Which is in the bosom of God the Father, made this declaration to us, saying most clearly to the hierophant Moses, There shall no man see My Face and live: and sometime to His own disciples, Not that any man hath seen the Father, save He Which is of God, He hath seen the Father. For to the Son Alone That is by Nature is the Father visible and that in such wise as one may think that the Divine Nature Divinely sees and is seen, and to none other of things which are. Yet will the speech of the holy Prophets in no way be false when they cry aloud that they saw the Lord of Hosts: for they do not affirm that they saw that very essential Thing that the Nature of God is, but they themselves too openly cry out, This is the appearance of the likeness of the Glory of the LORD. Therefore the fashion of the Divine Glory was darkly formed out of things such as are ours, and was rather a likeness giving things Divine as it were in a picture, while the truth of them mounts up to excellence above mind and speech. Most excellently then does the most wise Evangelist saying, And we beheld His glory, the glory as of the Only-Begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth, bring in the demonstration thereof from His superiority to all. For like as from the beauty of the creatures proportionably is the Power of the Creator of all beheld, and the heavens without voice declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handywork: so again will the Only-Begotten be proved superior in Glory and more resplendent, surpassing apprehension, as regards the |123 power of the eye, as God; and wherein He surpasses the creature, therein deemed of and glorified as being above it. Such thought then and no other I deem that the words now before us are replete with. But we must note again that he both calls the Son Only-Begotten God, and says that He is in the Bosom of the Father, that He may be shewn again to be outside of any connaturality with the creature and to have His own proper Being of the Father and in the Father. For if He is verily Only-Begotten God, how is He not Other in nature than they who are by adoption gods and sons? For the Only-Begotten will be conceived of not among many brethren, but as the Only one from the Father. But since, while there are as Paul saith many who are are called gods in heaven and earth, the Son is Only-Begotten God, He will clearly be outside of the rest and will not be reckoned among those who are gods by grace, but will rather be Very God with the Father. For so does Paul conjoin Him, saying to us, But to us One God the Father of Whom are all things, and One Lord Jesus Christ by Whom are all things. For the Father being by Nature One God, the Word That is of Him and in Him will not remain external from being God, eminent in the ownness of Him Who begat Him, and ascending essentially to equal Dignity, because He is by Nature God.
Therefore does he say that He is in the Bosom of the Father, that you may again conceive His being in Him and of Him according to what is said in the Psalms: From the womb before the day-star begat I Thee. For as here he puts From the womb, because of His being of Him and that really, from likeness of things belonging to us (for things born of men proceed from the womb); so too when he says in the bosom, he would plainly shew the Son all but in the womb of the Father which begat Him forth, (as it were in some Divine gleaming forth and unspeakable forth-come unto His own Person), but which yet possesses Him, since not by cutting away or division after the flesh, did the Divine Offspring come forth of the Father. And indeed the Son somewhere says that He is in the Father and has again the |124 Father in Him. For the very own of the Father's Essence passing essentially into, the Son, shews the Father in Him, and the Father again has the Son rooted in Himself in exact sameness of Essence and begotten of Him, yet not by division or interval of place, but inherent and ever co-existing; thus rather shall we piously understand that the Son is in the Bosom of the Father, not as some of those who are wont to fight against God have taken it, whose damnation is just: for they pervert all equity, as the Prophet says, undoing the ears of the simpler ones and sinning without heed against the brethren, for whom Christ died.
What it is then that these both think and say and try to teach others, we must needs say. When the holy Evangelist says that the Son is in the Bosom of God the Father, and the children of the Church think rightly, and affirm that He is therefore of the Father and in the Father, and contend and that aright, that the true mode of Generation must be preserved; straightway they that are drunk with all unlearning laugh outright and even dare to say: Your opinion, sirs, is all nonsense: for not well-instructedly do ye think of God, deeming that because the Son is said to be in the Bosom of the Father, He is therefore wholly of His Essence, and foolishly imagining that He is the Fruit of the Inoriginate Nature. For have ye not heard, say they, in the Gospel parables, when Christ Himself was discoursing of the Rich man and Lazarus, that it came to pass that Lazarus died and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom? will ye then grant, because Lazarus was in the bosom of Abraham, that therefore he is of him and in him by nature, or will ye not rightly refuse to say this, and yourselves too with us allow that love is meant by the "bosom"? we say therefore that the Son is in the Bosom of God the Father, instead of in His love, as Himself also says, The Father loveth the Son.
But when the fault-finders hit us with these words, though they be zealous to nought but railing, then we too will answer them, arraying against them the right word of the truth: The bosom, good sirs, according to you means love: for this we just now heard you say. Shall we then, since God |125 loved the world, as the Saviour saith, and The Lord loveth the gates of Sion, according to the holy Psalmist, fearlessly say that both the world itself and the gates of Sion are in the bosom of God the Father? And when He says too to the hierophant Moses, Put thine hand into thy bosom, does He bid him, tell me, love his hand and not rather keep it hidden? Then how shall we not incur great laughter hereby, yea rather how shall we not behave with impiety towards the Father Himself, if we say that all things are in His Bosom, and make that common to the rest which is the special prerogative of the Only-Begotten, in order that the Son may have nought above the creature?
Hence bidding good bye to their ill-counsel, we will go on the straight road of thoughts of the Truth, when the Son is said to be in the Bosom of the Father, conceiving of Him as of Him and in Him: and accurately taking in the force of the thought, we shall find it thus and not otherwise. The Only-Begotten God, he says, Which is in the Bosom of the Father, He hath declared. For when he said Only-Begotten and God, he straightway says, Which is in the Bosom of the Father, that He may be conceived of as Son of Him and in Him Naturally, saying Bosom of the Father instead of Essence, as by corporeal simile. For things manifest are types of things spiritual, and things among us lead us by the hand to the apprehension of the things which are above us: and the corporal things are often taken in the way of image and introduce to us the apprehension of subtler thoughts, even though they be in their proper time understood as they were uttered, as I mean that to Moses, Put thine hand into thy bosom. And it will no way hurt our argument to say that Lazarus was laid in Abraham's bosom, but will aid it rather and will go along with our thoughts. For the Divine Scripture says so to speak thus: Lazarus having died and deceased from his life in the body, was carried into Abraham's bosom, instead of "was numbered among Abraham's children." For "I have made thee a father of many nations," said God to him, for so is it somewhere written of him, For a father of many nations have I made thee. |126
19, 20 And this is the record of John, when the Jews sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask him, Who art thou? And he confessed and denied not; but confessed, I am not the Christ.
The Evangelist recalls his own words and endeavours to explain to us more fully (doing exceeding well) what he had already told us told us briefly as in summary. For having said There was a man sent from God, whose name was John: the same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, needs does he bring in the mode also of the witness given by him. For when, he says, the chiefs of the Jewish divisions after the Law, sent priests and Levites to him, bidding them ask him, what he would say of himself, then very clearly did he confess, spurning all shame for the truth's sake. For he said, I am not the Christ. Therefore neither do I, says he, the compiler of this Book, lie saying of him, He was not the Light but to bear witness of the Light.
21 And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias? and he saith, I am not. Art thou that Prophet? And he answered, No.
Having said by way of explanation, he confessed, I am not the Christ; he tries to shew how or in what manner the confession was made; and he appears to me to wish thereby to lay bare the ill-instructedness of the Jews. For professing themselves to be wise they became fools, and puffed up at their knowledge of the Law, and ever putting forward the commandments of Moses and asserting that they were perfectly instructed in the words of the holy Prophets, by their foolish questions they are convicted of being wholly uninstructed. For the hierophant Moses saying that the Lord should be revealed as a Prophet foretold to the children of Israel, The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, unto Him shall ye hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb. The blessed Isaiah, introducing to us the forerunner and fore-messenger, says, The voice of one crying in the wilderness Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight: and in addition to these the Prophet Joel 13 says of |127 the Tishbite (he was Elias) Behold, I send you Elijah the Tishbite 14 who shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.
There being then three, who were promised should come, Christ and John and Elias, the Jews expect that more will come, that they may rightly hear, Ye do err not knowing the Scriptures. For when they enquired of the blessed Baptist and learned that he was not the Christ, they answer, What then? art thou Elias? and on his saying I am not, when they ought to have asked respecting the fore-runner (for he it was that remained) they ignorantly return to Christ Himself, Who was revealed through the Law as a Prophet. For see what they say, not knowing what was told them through Moses, Art thou the Prophet? and he answered, No. For he was not the Christ, as he had already before declared.
22, 23 What sayest thou of thyself? I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness.
He accuses them sharply as knowing nothing, and accredits the design or purpose entrusted to him by Prophetic testimony. For I come, he says, to say nothing else than that He, The Looked for, is at length at the doors, yea rather the Lord within the doors. Be ye ready to go whatsoever way He bids you, ye have gone the way given you through Moses, take up that by Christ: for this the choir of the holy Prophets foretold you.
A setting forth of sayings concerning the way that is after Christ.
Isaiah. Come ye and let us go up to the mountain of the LORD, to the house of the God of Jacob, and He will teach us of His ways and we will walk in His paths.
The same. And an highway shall be there and a way, and it shall be called The way of holiness; no lion shall be there nor any ravenous beast shall go up thereon, but the redeemed shall walk there. |128
The same. I will give beginning 15 to Sign, and will exhort Jerusalem unto the way.
The same. And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not: I will lead them in paths that they have not known.
Jeremiah. Stand ye in the ways and see and ask for the old paths, where is the good way and walk therein, and ye shall find rest for you souls.
What then is the good way and that purifies those who walk in it, let Christ Himself say: I am the Way.
24 And they had been sent from the Pharisees. 16
They who were sent from the Jews (they were Levites and certain of those who belonged to the priesthood) were convicted of asking foolish questions. For supposing that Christ was one person, the Prophet declared by the Law another, they said, after the holy Baptist had said, I am not the Christ, Art thou the Prophet? But lo, the multitude of the Pharisees also is caught in conceit of wisdom rather than having really an accurate knowledge of the Divine oracles. For why, it says, baptizest thou at all, if thou be not the Christ nor Elias neither the Prophet? and they are shewn again to be full of no small senselessness against the Baptist. For they do not, it seems, vouchsafe to put him in the number of those expected, but sick with the haughtiness that was their foster-sister 17, they deem that he is nought, albeit he be fore-announced by the Prophet's voice. For though they heard, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness Prepare ye the way of the Lord: receiving not his word, they rebuke him without restraint saying after this sort: There is nought in thee, Sir, worthy of credit, nor wondrous nor great: why baptizest thou even at all? why dost thou, who art absolutely nothing, take in hand so great a thing? It was the habit of the ungodly Pharisees to act thus, to disparage one who was already |129 come, to pretend to honour one who was to come. For in order that they might always procure for themselves honours at the hand of the Jews, and might procure to themselves incomes of money, they desire that none save themselves should appear illustrious. For thus slew they the heir Himself also, saying Come let us kill Him and let us seize on His inheritance.
26 I baptize with water.
Much enduringly does the blessed Baptist bear with the fault finders: and very seasonably does he make the declaration regarding himself a basis of saving preaching: and teaches those who were sent from the Pharisees now even against their will that Christ was within the doors. For I, he says, am bringing in an introductory Baptism, washing those defiled by sin with water for a beginning of penitence and teaching them to go up from the lower unto the more perfect. For this were to accomplish in act, what I was sent to preach, Prepare ye, I mean, the way of the Lord. For the Giver of the greater and most notable gifts and Supplier of all perfection of good things, standeth among you, unknown as yet by reason of the veil of flesh, but so much surpassing me the Baptist, that I must deem myself not to have the measure even of a servant's place in His Presence. For this I deem is the meaning of, I am not worthy to unloose His shoe-latchet.
And in saying what is true, he works something else that is useful, for he persuades the haughty Pharisee to think lowlily, and brings himself in as an example of this.
But he says that these things were done in Bethabara beyond Jordan, putting this too as a sign of accurate and careful narration. For we are all accustomed, so to speak, in our accounts of things that require it to mention also the places where they happened.
Cyril Arch-Bishop of Alexandria on the Gospel according to John, Book I.
[Page running titles]
8 S. John writes on the Son's Eternal Generation.
Origin of S. John writing his Gospel. 9
10 S. John begins with the Son's Eternal Generation.
12 "Beginning" the most backward point that thought can reach.
Examples of co-existence and in-existence together. 13
14 "Beginning" may also mean Sovereignty.
"Was" prior to any beginning. 15
The Father and Son distinct in Person. 17
18 The Father and the Son One in Essence,
distinct in Person. 19
20 The Father and the Son One in Essence,
distinct in Person. 21
The Son in nothing less than the Father. 23
24 The Son Perfect God.
The Son Perfect even as the Father. 25
26 God the Son Perfect God.
The Son God, because Son. 27
28 The Son God, lest the Father be inferior even to us.
The Son Equal to the Father, because not less. 29
30 The Son Perfect, lest the
Father be imperfect. 31
32 Examples of things
Blasphemies of Eunomius. 35
36 Words uttered against the Son
mere emptiness. 37
38 Christ Lawgiver and Law-keeper.
Human language weak to express things Divine. 39
40 Sameness of nature does
not destroy individuality. 41
42 Properties of the Father and the Son common,
except only being Father and Son. 43
44 Between the Father and the Son nothing intervenes.
The article limits to a strict sense. 45
46 The Jews never heard
the Father's Voice. 47
48 The Son knows Perfectly
His Father. 49
God the Son external to all things. 51
52 The Father and Son co-work, not as separate.
The Persons of the Holy Trinity not severed One from Another. 53
54 Heretics take only what seems on their side.
God the Son created man Equally with the Father. 55
56 Through does not imply inferiority.
58 God the Son in all as Life.
The Son quickens as God. 59
60 God the Son God, because
He gives Life. 61
God the Son, Who giveth Light, God. 63
64 God the Son God because
He giveth Light. 65
66 God the Son God,
Who giveth Light. 67
68 The creature darkness,
the Son Light. 69
70 The Evangelist and Baptist
two witnesses. 71
72 S. John Baptist accredited, as sent.
God the Son Light, the Baptist a lamp. 73
74 The Saints have light, not from themselves.
76 God the Son God,
Who giveth light. 77
78 God the Son Light,
the creature lighted. 79
80 God the Son Light,
the creature lighted. 81
82 Testimonies that God the
Son is our Light. 83
The creature aids from what it receives. 85
86 The Son lights and gladdens
the creature with His own Light. 87
88 Christ in the world and everywhere.
the creature enters at its creation. 89
90 Foolish imagination of some.
The soul not prior to the body. 91
92 Souls not created
before their bodies. 93
94 Souls and bodies alike created
in Blessing to us from God. 95
96 Bodies given us not for punishment
but in God's good pleasure. 97
98 Bodies a kindness, not a punishment.
God the Son Uncreated Light. 99
100 The world knew not God the Son,
through its own fault. 101
102 God the Son not received
by Israel, who was His own. 103
104 Israel rejected,
the Gentiles received. 105
106 Israel had the type,
we the verity. 107
108 God the Son was made Flesh,
giving of His own life to our flesh. 109
110 God the Son made Flesh a new
first-fruit to the whole human nature. 111
112 God the Son works as God, the rest as servants.
The two witnesses to our Lord. 113
114 How to understand, He that cometh
after me has become before me. 115
116 All that we have a gift from the Son's fulness.
S. John the Baptist confessed his Lord's superiority. 117
118 God the Son's gifts contrasted
with those given of old through Moses. 119
120 Christ's glory that of God, the saints' that of men.
122 The Unseen God how said to have been seen.
God the Son in the Father and from the Father. 123
124 The Bosom of the Father, the Intimate
Oneness with Him of God the Son. 125
126 S. John Baptist's testimony.
Prophecies of Christ. 127
128 The Pharisees pretending to honour
the coming, reject the come. 129
[Most of the footnotes, moved to the end and renumbered. The margin contains mainly biblical references and fragments of Greek. These have been omitted]
1. a Taking Ἀρχὴ to include its meaning of Sovereignty.
2. a "For God giveth not the Spirit by measure unto him." E. V. The Alexandrine family of Greek MSS, (to which S. Cyril's copy of New Testament plainly belonged) and the Codex Sinaiticus, omit the nominative.
3. a S. Cyril with the uncial MSS. ABC. has through God in the place of of God through Christ.
4. a S. Cyril punctuates thus, with many of the Fathers and with the uncial MSS. CDL.
5. b S. Cyril means to say that first, He would have His own actual Being: and that over and above this, if He were originate, since all things originate partake of Him as their source of Life, He must needs partake of Himself as source of Life to Himself.
6. a ἄγγελοι. The Greek word "angel" signifying literally a messenger and used in classic Greek in that meaning.
7. b "Mine Anointed," E. V. "My Christ," LXX.
8. a ἐξ ἀκράτου θεολογίας "from pure Theology," speaking of the Divine feature apart from the Dispensation with the Flesh.
9. b ἀποτομίας as in Rom. l. c. "cutting off."
10. c οἰκείωσις, the relation of belonging to the household.
11. d τῷ τῆς ἰδιότητος ἀποκεκλήσεται λόγῳ.
12. a "The Only-Begotten God." So read the uncial MSS. BCL of the Alexandrine family and the Codex Sinaiticus and so S. Cyril here.
13. b Joel. S. Cyril quotes apparently from memory.
14. c Tishbite LXX. "Prophet" Heb.
15. d ἀρχὴν, "beginning" or "sovereignty"; vide supra p. 14.
16. e So the uncial MSS. ABCL & the Codex Sinaiticus read, giving ἀπεσταλμένοι in place of οἱ ἀπεσταλμένοι.
17. f τὴν δὲ ἑαυτοῖς συντεθραμμένην νοσοῦντες ἀλαζανείαν.
This text was transcribed by Roger Pearse, 2005. All material on this page is in the public domain - copy freely.
Greek text is rendered using unicode. Note that the chapter numbers and titles are part of the original work, as is the table of them at the start of the book. The numerals on verses of John are added by the translator.
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