Please help support the mission of New Advent and get the full contents of this website as an instant download. Includes the Catholic Encyclopedia, Church Fathers, Summa, Bible and more all for only $19.99...
If, when a man
strives lawfully 2 Timothy 2:5, he finds a limit to his struggle in the contest by his adversary's either refusing the struggle, and withdrawing of his own accord in favour of his conqueror from his effort for victory, or being thrown according to the rules of wrestling in three falls (whereby the glory of the crown is bestowed with all the splendour of proclamation upon him who has proved victorious in the umpire's judgment), then, since Eunomius, though he has been already twice thrown in our previous arguments, does not consent that truth should hold the tokens of her victory over falsehood, but yet a third time raises the dust against godly doctrine in his accustomed arena of falsehood with his composition, strengthening himself for his struggle on the side of deceit, our statement of truth must also be now called forth to put his falsehood to rout, placing its hopes in Him Who is the Giver and the Judge of victory, and at the same time deriving strength from the very unfairness of the adversaries' tricks of wrestling. For we are not ashamed to confess that we have prepared for our contest no weapon of argument sharpened by rhetoric, that we can bring forward to aid us in the fight with those arrayed against us, no cleverness or sharpness of dialectic, such as with inexperienced judges lays even on truth the suspicion of falsehood. One strength our reasoning against falsehood has — first the very Word Himself, Who is the might of our word, and in the next place the rottenness of the arguments set against us, which is overthrown and falls by its own spontaneous action. Now in order that it may be made as clear as possible to all men, that the very efforts of Eunomius serve as means for his own overthrow to those who contend with him, I will set forth to my readers his phantom doctrine (for so I think that doctrine may be called which is quite outside the truth), and I would have you all, who are present at our struggle, and watch the encounter now taking place between my doctrine and that which is matched with it, to be just judges of the lawful striving of our arguments, that by your just award the reasoning of godliness may be proclaimed as victor to the whole theatre of the Church, having won undisputed victory over ungodliness, and being decorated, in virtue of the three falls of its enemy, with the unfading crown of them that are saved. Now this statement is set forth against the truth by way of preface to his third discourse, and this is the fashion of it:—
Preserving, he says,
natural order, and abiding by those things which are known to us from above, we do not refuse to speak of the Son, seeing He is begotten, even by the name of 'product of generation ,' since the generated essence and the appellation of Son make such a relation of words appropriate. I beg the reader to give his attention carefully to this point, that while he calls God both
Son, he refers the reason of such names to
natural order, and calls to witness to this conception the knowledge possessed from above: so that if anything should be found in the course of what follows contrary to the positions he has laid down, it is clear to all that he is overthrown by himself, refuted by his own arguments before ours are brought against him. And so let us consider his statement in the light of his own words. He confesses that the name of
Son would by no means be properly applied to the Only-begotten God, did not
natural order, as he says, confirm the appellation. If, then, one were to withdraw the order of nature from the consideration of the designation of
Son, his use of this name, being deprived of its proper and natural significance, will be meaningless. And moreover the fact that he says these statements are confirmed, in that they abide by the knowledge possessed from above, is a strong additional support to the orthodox view touching the designation of
Son, seeing that the inspired teaching of the Scriptures, which comes to us from above, confirms our argument on these matters. If these things are so, and this is a standard of truth that admits of no deception, that these two concur — the
natural order, as he says, and the testimony of the knowledge given from above confirming the natural interpretation — it is clear, that to assert anything contrary to these, is nothing else than manifestly to fight against the truth itself. Let us hear again what this writer, who makes nature his instructor in the matter of this name, and says that he abides by the knowledge given to us from above by the instruction of the saints, sets out at length a little further on, after the passage I have just quoted. For I will pretermit for the time the continuous recital of what is set next in order in his treatise, that the contradiction in what he has written may not escape detection, being veiled by the reading of the intervening matter.
The same argument, he says,
will apply also in the case of what is made and created, as both the natural interpretation and the mutual relation of the things, and also the use of the saints, give us free authority for the use of the formula: wherefore one would not be wrong in treating the thing made as corresponding to the maker, and the thing created to the creator. Of what product of making or of creation does he speak, as having naturally the relation expressed in its name towards its maker and creator? If of those we contemplate in the creation, visible and invisible (as Paul recounts, when he says that by Him all things were created, visible and invisible) , so that this relative conjunction of names has a proper and special application, that which is made being set in relation to the maker, that which is created to the creator — if this is his meaning, we agree with him. For in fact, since the Lord is the Maker of angels, the angel is assuredly a thing made by Him that made him: and since the Lord is the Creator of the world, clearly the world itself and all that is therein are called the creature of Him that created them. If however it is with this intention that he makes his interpretation of
natural order, systematizing the appropriation of relative terms with a view to their mutual relation in verbal sense, even thus it would be an extraordinary thing, seeing that every one is aware of this, that he should leave his doctrinal statement to draw out for us a system of grammatical trivialities. But if it is to the Only-begotten God that he applies such phrases, so as to say that He is a thing made by Him that made Him, a creature of Him that created Him, and to refer this terminology to
the use of the saints, let him first of all show us in his statement what saints he says there are who declared the Maker of all things to be a product and a creature, and whom he follows in this audacity of phrase. The Church knows as saints those whose hearts were divinely guided by the Holy Spirit — patriarchs, lawgivers, prophets, evangelists, apostles. If any among these is found to declare in his inspired words that God over all, Who
upholds all things with the word of His power, and grasps with His hand all things that are, and by Himself called the universe into being by the mere act of His will, is a thing created and a product, he will stand excused, as following, as he says, the
use of the saints in proceeding to formulate such doctrines. But if the knowledge of the Holy Scriptures is freely placed within the reach of all, and nothing is forbidden to or hidden from any of those who choose to share in the divine instruction, how comes it that he endeavours to lead his hearers astray by his misrepresentation of the Scriptures, referring the term
creature, applied to the Only-begotten, to
the use of the saints? For that by Him all things were made, you may hear almost from the whole of their holy utterance, from Moses and the prophets and apostles who come after him, whose particular expressions it would be tedious here to set forth. Enough for our purpose, with the others, and above the others, is the sublime John, where in the preface to his discourse on the Divinity of the Only-begotten he proclaims aloud the fact that there is none of the things that were made which was not made through Him , a fact which is an incontestable and positive proof of His being Lord of the creation, not reckoned in the list of created things. For if all things that are made exist by no other but by Him (and John bears witness that nothing among the things that are, throughout the creation, was made without Him), who is so blinded in understanding as not to see in the Evangelist's proclamation the truth, that He Who made all the creation is assuredly something else besides the creation? For if all that is numbered among the things that were made has its being through Him, while He Himself is
in the beginning, and is
with God, being God, and Word, and Life, and Light, and express Image, and Brightness, and if none of the things that were made throughout creation is named by the same names — (not Word, not God, not Life, not Light, not Truth, not express Image, not Brightness, not any of the other names proper to the Deity is to be found employed of the creation) — then it is clear that He Who is these things is by nature something else besides the creation, which neither is nor is called any of these things. If, indeed, there existed in such phrases an identity of names between the creation and its Maker, he might perhaps be excused for making the name of
creation also common to the thing created and to Him Who made it, on the ground of the community of the other names: but if the characteristics which are contemplated by means of the names, in the created and in the uncreated nature, are in no case reconcilable or common to both, how can the misrepresentation of that man fail to be manifest to all, who dares to apply the name of servitude to Him Who, as the Psalmist declares,
rules with His power for ever , and to bring Him Who, as the Apostle says,
in all things has the pre-eminence Colossians 1:18, to a level with the servile nature, by means of the name and conception of
creation? For that all the creation is in bondage the great Paul declares Romans 8:21 — he who in the schools above the heavens was instructed in that knowledge which may not be spoken, learning these things in that place where every voice that conveys meaning by verbal utterance is still, and where unspoken meditation becomes the word of instruction, teaching to the purified heart by means of the silent illumination of the thoughts those truths which transcend speech. If then on the one hand Paul proclaims aloud
the creation is in bondage, and on the other the Only-begotten God is truly Lord and God over all, and John bears witness to the fact that the whole creation of the things that were made is by Him, how can any one, who is in any sense whatever numbered among Christians, hold his peace when he sees Eunomius, by his inconsistent and inconsequent systematizing, degrading to the humble state of the creature, by means of an identity of name that tends to servitude, that power of Lordship which surpasses all rule and all authority? And if he says that he has some of the saints who declared Him to be a slave, or created, or made, or any of these lowly and servile names, lo, here are the Scriptures. Let him, or some other on his behalf, produce to us one such phrase, and we will hold our peace. But if there is no such phrase (and there could never be found in those inspired Scriptures which we believe any such thought as to support this impiety), what need is there to strive further upon points admitted with one who not only misrepresents the words of the saints, but even contends against his own definitions? For if the
order of nature, as he himself admits, bears additional testimony to the Son's name by reason of His being begotten, and thus the correspondence of the name is according to the relation of the Begotten to the Begetter, how comes it that he wrests the significance of the word
Son from its natural application, and changes the relation to
the thing made and its maker — a relation which applies not only in the case of the elements of the universe, but might also be asserted of a gnat or an ant — that in so far as each of these is a thing made, the relation of its name to its maker is similarly equivalent? The blasphemous nature of his doctrine is clear, not only from many other passages, but even from those quoted: and as for that
use of the saints which he alleges that he follows in these expressions, it is clear that there is no such use at all.
The Lord Created Me.
Perhaps that passage in the Proverbs might be brought forward against us which the champions of heresy are wont to cite as a testimony that the Lord was created — the passage,
The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways, for His works. For because these words are spoken by Wisdom, and the Lord is called Wisdom by the great Paul 1 Corinthians 1:24, they allege this passage as though the Only-begotten God Himself, under the name of Wisdom, acknowledges that He was created by the Maker of all things. I imagine, however, that the godly sense of this utterance is clear to moderately attentive and painstaking persons, so that, in the case of those who are instructed in the dark sayings of the Proverbs, no injury is done to the doctrine of the faith. Yet I think it well briefly to discuss what is to be said on this subject, that when the intention of this passage is more clearly explained, the heretical doctrine may have no room for boldness of speech on the ground that it has evidence in the writing of the inspired author. It is universally admitted that the name of
proverb, in its scriptural use, is not applied with regard to the evident sense, but is used with a view to some hidden meaning, as the Gospel thus gives the name of
proverbs to dark and obscure sayings; so that the
proverb, if one were to set forth the interpretation of the name by a definition, is a form of speech which, by means of one set of ideas immediately presented, points to something else which is hidden, or a form of speech which does not point out the aim of the thought directly, but gives its instruction by an indirect signification. Now to this book such a name is especially attached as a title, and the force of the appellation is at once interpreted in the preface by the wise Solomon. For he does not call the sayings in this book
clear instruction, but
proverbs, and proceeds to add an explanation. What is the force of the signification of this word?
To know, he tells us,
wisdom and instruction Proverbs 1:2 ; not setting before us the course of instruction in wisdom according to the method common in other kinds of learning; he bids a man, on the other hand , first to become wise by previous training, and then so to receive the instruction conveyed by proverb. For he tells us that there are
words of wisdom which reveal their aim
by a turn. For that which is not directly understood needs some turn for the apprehension of the thing concealed; and as Paul, when about to exchange the literal sense of the history for figurative contemplation, says that he will
change his voice Galatians 4:20, so here the manifestation of the hidden meaning is called by Solomon a
turn of the saying, as if the beauty of the thoughts could not be perceived, unless one were to obtain a view of the revealed brightness of the thought by turning the apparent meaning of the saying round about, as happens with the plumage with which the peacock is decked behind. For in him, one who sees the back of his plumage quite despises it for its want of beauty and tint, as a mean sight; but if one were to turn it round and show him the other view of it, he then sees the varied painting of nature, the half-circle shining in the midst with its dye of purple, and the golden mist round the circle ringed round and glistening at its edge with its many rainbow hues. Since then there is no beauty in what is obvious in the saying (for
all the glory of the king's daughter is within , shining with its hidden ornament in golden thoughts), Solomon of necessity suggests to the readers of this book
the turn of the saying, that thereby they may
understand a parable and a dark saying, words of the wise and riddles. Now as this proverbial teaching embraces these elements, a reasonable man will not receive any passage cited from this book, be it never so clear and intelligible at first sight, without examination and inspection; for assuredly there is some mystical contemplation underlying even those passages which seem manifest. And if the obvious passages of the work necessarily demand a somewhat minute scrutiny, how much more do those passages require it where even immediate apprehension presents to us much that is obscure and difficult?
Let us then begin our examination from the context of the passage in question, and see whether the reading of the neighbouring clauses gives any clear sense. The discourse describes Wisdom as uttering certain sayings in her own person. Every student knows what is said in the passage where Wisdom makes counsel her dwelling-place, and calls to her knowledge and understanding, and says that she has as a possession strength and prudence (while she is herself called intelligence), and that she walks in the ways of righteousness and has her conversation in the ways of just judgment, and declares that by her kings reign, and princes write the decree of equity, and monarchs win possession of their own land. Now every one will see that the considerate reader will receive none of the phrases quoted without scrutiny according to the obvious sense. For if by her kings are advanced to their rule, and if from her monarchy derives its strength, it follows of necessity that Wisdom is displayed to us as a king-maker, and transfers to herself the blame of those who bear evil rule in their kingdoms. But we know of kings who in truth advance under the guidance of Wisdom to the rule that has no end — the poor in spirit, whose possession is the kingdom of heaven , as the Lord promises, Who is the Wisdom of the Gospel: and such also we recognize as the princes who bear rule over their passions, who are not enslaved by the dominion of sin, who inscribe the decree of equity upon their own life, as it were upon a tablet. Thus, too, that laudable despotism which changes, by the alliance of Wisdom, the democracy of the passions into the monarchy of reason, brings into bondage what were running unrestrained into mischievous liberty, I mean all carnal and earthly thoughts: for
the flesh lusts against the Spirit Galatians 5:17, and rebels against the government of the soul. Of this land, then, such a monarch wins possession, whereof he was, according to the first creation, appointed as ruler by the Word.
Seeing then that all reasonable men admit that these expressions are to be read in such a sense as this, rather than in that which appears in the words at first sight, it is consequently probable that the phrase we are discussing, being written in close connection with them, is not received by prudent men absolutely and without examination.
If I declare to you, she says,
the things that happen day by day, I will remember to recount the things from everlasting: the Lord created me. What, pray, has the slave of the literal text, who sits listening closely to the sound of the syllables, like the Jews, to say to this phrase? Does not the conjunction,
If I declare to you the things that happen day by day, the Lord created me, ring strangely in the ears of those who listen attentively? As though, if she did not declare the things that happen day by day, she will by consequence deny absolutely that she was created. For he who says,
If I declare, I was created, leaves you by his silence to understand,
I was not created, if I do not declare.
The Lord created me, she says,
in the beginning of His ways, for His works. He set me up from everlasting, in the beginning, before He made the earth, before He made the depths, before the springs of the waters came forth, before the mountains were settled, before all hills, He begets me. What new order of the formation of a creature is this? First it is created, and after that it is set up, and then it is begotten.
The Lord made, she says,
lands, even uninhabited, and the inhabited extremes of the earth under heaven. Of what Lord does she speak as the maker of land both uninhabited and inhabited? Of Him surely, who made wisdom. For both the one saying and the other are uttered by the same person; both that which says,
the Lord created me, and that which adds,
the Lord made land, even uninhabited. Thus the Lord will be the maker equally of both, of Wisdom herself, and of the inhabited and uninhabited land. What then are we to make of the saying,
All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made ? For if one and the same Lord creates both Wisdom (which they advise us to understand of the Son), and also the particular things which are included in the Creation, how does the sublime John speak truly, when he says that all things were made by Him? For this Scripture gives a contrary sound to that of the Gospel, in ascribing to the Creator of Wisdom the making of land uninhabited and inhabited. So, too, with all that follows :— she speaks of a Throne of God set apart upon the winds, and says that the clouds above are made strong, and the fountains under the heaven sure; and the context contains many similar expressions, demanding in a marked degree that interpretation by a minute and clear-sighted intelligence, which is to be observed in the passages already quoted. What is the throne that is set apart upon the winds? What is the security of the fountains under the heaven? How are the clouds above made strong? If any one should interpret the passage with reference to visible objects , he will find that the facts are at considerable variance with the words. For who knows not that the extreme parts of the earth under heaven, by excess in one direction or in the other, either by being too close to the sun's heat, or by being too far removed from it, are uninhabitable; some being excessively dry and parched, other parts superabounding in moisture, and chilled by frost, and that only so much is inhabited as is equally removed from the extreme of each of the two opposite conditions? But if it is the midst of the earth that is occupied by man, how does the proverb say that the extremes of the earth under heaven are inhabited? Again, what strength could one perceive in the clouds, that that passage may have a true sense, according to its apparent intention, which says that the clouds above have been made strong? For the nature of cloud is a sort of rather slight vapour diffused through the air, which, being light, by reason of its great subtlety, is borne on the breath of the air, and, when forced together by compression, falls down through the air that held it up, in the form of a heavy drop of rain. What then is the strength in these, which offer no resistance to the touch? For in the cloud you may discern the slight and easily dissolved character of air. Again, how is the Divine throne set apart on the winds that are by nature unstable? And as for her saying at first that she is
created, finally, that she is
begotten, and between these two utterances that she is
set up, what account of this could any one profess to give that would agree with the common and obvious sense? The point also on which a doubt was previously raised in our argument, the declaring, that is, of the things that happen day by day, and the remembering to recount the things from everlasting, is, as it were, a condition of Wisdom's assertion that she was created by God.
Thus, since it has been clearly shown by what has been said, that no part of this passage is such that its language should be received without examination and reflection, it may be well, perhaps, as with the rest, so not to interpret the text,
The Lord created me, according to that sense which immediately presents itself to us from the phrase, but to seek with all attention and care what is to be piously understood from the utterance. Now, to apprehend perfectly the sense of the passage before us, would seem to belong only to those who search out the depths by the aid of the Holy Spirit, and know how to speak in the Spirit the divine mysteries: our account, however, will only busy itself with the passage in question so far as not to leave its drift entirely unconsidered. What, then, is our account? It is not, I think, possible that that wisdom which arises in any man from divine illumination should come alone, apart from the other gifts of the Spirit, but there must needs enter in therewith also the grace of prophecy. For if the apprehension of the truth of the things that are is the peculiar power of wisdom, and prophecy includes the clear knowledge of the things that are about to be, one would not be possessed of the gift of wisdom in perfection, if he did not further include in his knowledge, by the aid of prophecy, the future likewise. Now, since it is not mere human wisdom that is claimed for himself by Solomon, who says,
God has taught me wisdom , and who, where he says
all my words are spoken from God , refers to God all that is spoken by himself, it might be well in this part of the Proverbs to trace out the prophecy that is mingled with his wisdom. But we say that in the earlier part of the book, where he says that
Wisdom has built herself a house , he refers darkly in these words to the preparation of the flesh of the Lord: for the trite Wisdom did not dwell in another's building, but built for Itself that dwelling-place from the body of the Virgin. Here, however, he adds to his discourse that which of both is made one — of the house, I mean, and of the Wisdom which built the house, that is to say, of the Humanity and of the Divinity that was commingled with man ; and to each of these he applies suitable and fitting terms, as you may see to be the case also in the Gospels, where the discourse, proceeding as befits its subject, employs the more lofty and divine phraseology to indicate the Godhead, and that which is humble and lowly to indicate the Manhood. So we may see in this passage also Solomon prophetically moved, and delivering to us in its fullness the mystery of the Incarnation. For we speak first of the eternal power and energy of Wisdom; and here the evangelist, to a certain extent, agrees with him in his very words. For as the latter in his comprehensive phrase proclaimed Him to be the cause and Maker of all things, so Solomon says that by Him were made those individual things which are included in the whole. For he tells us that God by Wisdom established the earth, and in understanding prepared the heavens, and all that follows these in order, keeping to the same sense: and that he might not seem to pass over without mention the gift of excellence in men, he again goes on to say, speaking in the person of Wisdom, the words we mentioned a little earlier; I mean,
I made counsel my dwelling-place, and knowledge, and understanding , and all that relates to instruction in intellect and knowledge.
After recounting these and the like matters, he proceeds to introduce also his teaching concerning the dispensation with regard to man, why the Word was made flesh. For seeing that it is clear to all that God Who is over all has in Himself nothing as a thing created or imported, not power nor wisdom, nor light, nor word, nor life, nor truth, nor any at all of those things which are contemplated in the fullness of the Divine bosom (all which things the Only-begotten God is, Who is in the bosom of the Father , the name of
creation could not properly be applied to any of those things which are contemplated in God, so that the Son Who is in the Father, or the Word Who is in the Beginning, or the Light Who is in the Light, or the Life Who is in the Life, or the Wisdom Who is in the Wisdom, should say,
the Lord created me. For if the Wisdom of God is created (and Christ is the Power of God and the Wisdom of God 1 Corinthians 1:24), God, it would follow, has His Wisdom as a thing imported, receiving afterwards, as the result of making, something which He had not at first. But surely He Who is in the bosom of the Father does not permit us to conceive the bosom of the Father as ever void of Himself. He Who is in the beginning is surely not of the things which come to be in that bosom from without, but being the fullness of all good, He is conceived as being always in the Father, not waiting to arise in Him as the result of creation, so that the Father should not be conceived as at any time void of good, but He Who is conceived as being in the eternity of the Father's Godhead is always in Him, being Power, and Life, and Truth, and Wisdom, and the like. Accordingly the words
created me do not proceed from the Divine and immortal nature, but from that which was commingled with it in the Incarnation from our created nature. How comes it then that the same, called wisdom, and understanding, and intelligence, establishes the earth, and prepares the heavens, and breaks up the deeps, and yet is here
created for the beginning of His works ? Such a dispensation, he tells us, is not set forward without great cause. But since men, after receiving the commandment of the things we should observe, cast away by disobedience the grace of memory, and became forgetful, for this cause,
that I may declare to you the things that happen day by day for your salvation, and may put you in mind by recounting the things from everlasting, which you have forgotten (for it is no new gospel that I now proclaim, but I labour at your restoration to your first estate) — for this cause I was created, Who ever am, and need no creation in order to be; so that I am the beginning of ways for the works of God, that is for men. For the first way being destroyed, there must needs again be consecrated for the wanderers a new and living way , even I myself, Who am the way. And this view, that the sense of
created me has reference to the Humanity, the divine apostle more clearly sets before us by his own words when he charges us,
Put on the Lord Jesus Christ Romans 13:14, and also where (using the same word) he says,
Put on the new man which after God is created. Ephesians 4:24 For if the garment of salvation is one, and that is Christ, one cannot say that
the new man, which after God is created, is any other than Christ, but it is clear that he who has
put on Christ has
put on the new man which after God is created. For actually He alone is properly named
the new man, Who did not appear in the life of man by the known and ordinary ways of nature, but in His case alone creation, in a strange and special form, was instituted anew. For this reason he names the same Person, when regarding the wonderful manner of His birth ,
the new man, which after God is created, and, when looking to the Divine nature, which was blended in the creation of this
new man, he calls Him
Christ: so that the two names (I mean the name of
Christ and the name of
the new man which after God is created) are applied to one and the same Person.
Since, then, Christ is Wisdom, let the intelligent reader consider our opponent's account of the matter, and our own, and judge which is the more pious, which better preserves in the text those conceptions which are befitting the Divine nature; whether that which declares the Creator and Lord of all to have been made, and places Him on a level with the creation that is in bondage, or that rather which looks to the Incarnation, and preserves the due proportion with regard to our conception alike of the Divinity and of the Humanity, bearing in mind that the great Paul testifies in favour of our view, who sees in the
new man creation, and in the true Wisdom the power of creation. And, further, the order of the passage agrees with this view of the doctrine it conveys. For if the
beginning of the ways had not been created among us, the foundation of those ages for which we look would not have been laid; nor would the Lord have become for us
the Father of the age to come , had not a Child been born to us, according to Isaiah, and His name been called, both all the other titles which the prophet gives Him, and withal
The Father of the age to come. Thus first there came to pass the mystery wrought in virginity, and the dispensation of the Passion, and then the wise master-builders of the Faith laid the foundation of the Faith: and this is Christ, the Father of the age to come, on Whom is built the life of the ages that have no end. And when this has come to pass, to the end that in each individual believer may be wrought the divine decrees of the Gospel law, and the varied gifts of the Holy Spirits — (all which the divine Scripture figuratively names, with a suitable significance,
hills, calling righteousness the
mountains of God, and speaking of His judgments as
deeps , and giving the name of
earth to that which is sown by the Word and brings forth abundant fruit; or in that sense in which we are taught by David to understand peace by the
mountains, and righteousness by the
hills ) — Wisdom is begotten in the faithful, and the saying is found true. For He Who is in those who have received Him, is not yet begotten in the unbelieving. Thus, that these things may be wrought in us, their Maker must be begotten in us. For if Wisdom is begotten in us, then in each of us is prepared by God both land, and land uninhabited — the land, that which receives the sowing and the ploughing of the Word, the uninhabited land, the heart cleared of evil inhabitants — and thus our dwelling will be upon the extreme parts of the earth. For since in the earth some is depth, and some is surface, when a man is not buried in the earth, or, as it were, dwelling in a cave by reason of thinking of things beneath (as is the life of those who live in sin, who
stick fast in the deep mire where no ground is , whose life is truly a pit, as the Psalm says,
let not the pit shut her mouth upon me )— if, I say, a man, when Wisdom is begotten in him, thinks of the things that are above, and touches the earth only so much as he needs must, such a man inhabits
the extreme parts of the earth under heavens, not plunging deep in earthly thought; with him Wisdom is present, as he prepares in himself heaven instead of earth: and when, by carrying out the precepts into act, he makes strong for himself the instruction of the clouds above, and, enclosing the great and widespread sea of wickedness, as it were with a beach, by his exact conversation, hinders the troubled water from proceeding forth from his mouth; and if by the grace of instruction he be made to dwell among the fountains, pouring forth the stream of his discourse with sure caution, that he may not give to any man for drink the turbid fluid of destruction in place of pure water, and if he be lifted up above all earthly paths and become aerial in his life, advancing towards that spiritual life which he speaks of as
the winds, so that he is set apart to be a throne of Him Who is seated in him (as was Paul separated for the Gospel to be a chosen vessel to bear the name of God, who, as it is elsewhere expressed, was made a throne, bearing Him that sat upon him)— when, I say, he is established in these and like ways, so that he who has already fully made up in himself the land inhabited by God, now rejoices in gladness that he is made the father, not of wild and senseless beasts, but of men (and these would be godlike thoughts, which are fashioned according to the Divine image, by faith in Him Who has been created and begotten, and set up in us — and faith, according to the words of Paul, is conceived as the foundation whereby wisdom is begotten in the faithful, and all the things that I have spoken of are wrought)— then, I say, the life of the man who has been thus established is truly blessed, for Wisdom is at all times in agreement with him, and rejoices with him who daily finds gladness in her alone. For the Lord rejoices in His saints, and there is joy in heaven over those who are being saved, and Christ, as the father, makes a feast for his rescued son. Though we have spoken hurriedly of these matters, let the careful man read the original text of the Holy Scripture, and fit its dark sayings to our reflections, testing whether it is not far better to consider that the meaning of these dark sayings has this reference, and not that which is attributed to it at first sight. For it is not possible that the theology of John should be esteemed true, which recites that all created things are the work of the Word, if in this passage He Who created Wisdom be believed to have made together with her all other things also. For in that case all things will not be by her, but she will herself be counted with the things that were made.
And that this is the reference of the enigmatical sayings is clearly revealed by the passage that follows, which says,
Now therefore hearken unto me, my son: and blessed is he that keeps my ways , meaning of course by
ways the approaches to virtue, the beginning of which is the possession of Wisdom. Who, then, who looks to the divine Scripture, will not agree that the enemies of the truth are at once impious and slanderous?— impious, because, so far as in them lies, they degrade the unspeakable glory of the Only-begotten God, and unite it with the creation, striving to show that the Lord Whose power over all things is only-begotten, is one of the things that were made by Him: slanderous, because, though Scripture itself gives them no ground for such opinions, they arm themselves against piety as though they drew their evidence from that source. Now since they can by no means show any passage of the Holy Scriptures which leads us to look upon the pre-temporal glory of the Only-begotten God in conjunction with the subject creation, it is well, these points being proved, that the tokens of victory over falsehood should be adduced as testimony to the doctrine of godliness, and that sweeping aside these verbal systems of theirs by which they make the creature answer to the creator, and the thing made to the maker, we should confess, as the Gospel from heaven teaches us, the well-beloved Son — not a bastard, not a counterfeit; but that, accepting with the name of Son all that naturally belongs to that name, we should say that He Who is of Very God is Very God, and that we should believe of Him all that we behold in the Father, because They are One, and in the one is conceived the other, not overpassing Him, not inferior to Him, not altered or subject to change in any Divine or excellent property.
Now seeing that Eunomius' conflict with himself has been made manifest, where he has been shown to contradict himself, at one time saying,
He ought to be called 'Son,' according to nature, because He is begotten, at another that, because He is created, He is no more called
Son, but a
product, I think it right that the careful and attentive reader, as it is not possible, when two statements are mutually at variance, that the truth should be found equally in both, should reject of the two that which is impious and blasphemous— that, I mean, with regard to the
creature and the
product, and should assent to that only which is of orthodox tendency, which confesses that the appellation of
Son naturally attaches to the Only-begotten God: so that the word of truth would seem to be recommended even by the voice of its enemies.
I resume my discourse, however, taking up that point of his argument which we originally set aside.
We do not refuse, he says,
to call the Son, seeing He is generate, even by the name of 'product of generation ,' since the generated essence itself, and the appellation of 'Son,' make such a relation of words appropriate. Meanwhile let the reader who is critically following the argument remember this, that in speaking of the
generated essence in the case of the Only-begotten, he by consequence allows us to speak of the
ungenerate essence in the case of the Father, so that neither absence of generation, nor generation, can any longer be supposed to constitute the essence, but the essence must be taken separately, and its being, or not being begotten, must be conceived separately by means of the peculiar attributes contemplated in it. Let us, however, consider more carefully his argument on this point. He says that an essence has been begotten, and that the name of this generated essence is
Son. Well, at this point our argument will convict that of our opponents on two grounds, first, of an attempt at knavery, secondly, of slackness in their attempt against ourselves. For he is playing the knave when he speaks of
generation of essence, in order to establish his opposition between the essences, when once they are divided in respect of a difference of nature between
ungenerate: while the slackness of their attempt is shown by the very positions their knavery tries to establish. For he who says the essence is generate, clearly defines generation as being something else distinct from the essence, so that the significance of generation cannot be assigned to the word essence, but acknowledges that the essence is generated, so that there is produced in his readers a distinct notion in the case of each word: for one conception arises in him who hears that it was generated, and another is called up by the name of Gospel that a woman, when her travail is drawing near, is in sorrow, but afterwards rejoices in gladness because a man is born into the world. As then in this passage we derive from the Gospel two distinct conceptions — one the birth which we conceive to be by way of generation, the other that which results from the birth (for the birth is not the man, but the man is by the birth) — so here too, when Eunomius confesses that the essence was generated, we learn by the latter word that the essence comes from something, and by the former we conceive that subject itself which has its real being from something. If then the signification of essence is one thing, and the word expressing generation suggests to us another conception, their clever contrivances are quite gone to ruin, like earthen vessels hurled one against the other, and mutually smashed to pieces. For it will no longer be possible for them, if they apply the opposition of
ungenerate to the essence of the Father and the Son, to apply at the same time to the things themselves the mutual conflict between these names. For as it is confessed by Eunomius that the essence is generate (seeing that the example from the Gospel explains the meaning of such a phrase, where, when we hear that a man is generated, we do not conceive the man to be the same thing as his generation, but receive a separate conception in each of the two words), heresy will surely no longer be permitted to express by such words her doctrine of the difference of the essences. In order, however, that our account of these matters may be cleared up as far as possible, let us once more discuss the point in the following way. He Who framed the universe made the nature of man with all things in the beginning, and after Adam was made, He then appointed for men the law of generation one from another, saying,
Be fruitful and multiply Genesis 1:28 . Now while Abel came into existence by way of generation, what reasonable man would deny that, in the actual sense of human generation, Adam existed ungenerately? Yet the first man had in himself the complete definition of man's essential nature, and he who was generated of him was enrolled under the same essential name. But if the essence that was generated was made anything other than that which was not generated, the same essential name would not apply to both: for of those things whose essence is different, the essential name also is not the same. Since, then, the essential nature of Adam and of Abel is marked by the same characteristics, we must certainly agree that one essence is in both, and that the one and the other are exhibited in the same nature. For Adam and Abel are both one so far as the definition of their nature is concerned, but are distinguished one from the other without confusion by the individual attributes observed in each of them. We cannot therefore properly say that Adam generated another essence besides himself, but rather that of himself he generated another self, with whom was produced the whole definition of the essence of him who generated him. What, then, we learn in the case of human nature by means of the inferential guidance afforded to us by the definition, this I think we ought to take for our guidance also to the pure apprehension of the Divine doctrines. For when we have shaken off from the Divine and exalted doctrines all carnal and material notions, we shall be most surely led by the remaining conception, when it is purged of such ideas, to the lofty and unapproachable heights. It is confessed even by our adversaries that God, Who is over all, both is and is called the Father of the Only-begotten, and they moreover give to the Only-begotten God, Who is of the Father, the name of
begotten, by reason of His being generated. Since then among men the word
father has certain significances attaching to it, from which the pure nature is alien, it behooves a man to lay aside all material conceptions which enter in by association with the carnal significance of the word
father, and to form in the case of the God and Father a conception befitting the Divine nature, expressive only of the reality of the relationship. Since, therefore, in the notion of a human father there is included not only all that the flesh suggests to our thoughts, but a certain notion of interval is also undoubtedly conceived with the idea of human fatherhood, it would be well, in the case of the Divine generation, to reject, together with bodily pollution, the notion of interval also, that so what properly belongs to matter may be completely purged away, and the transcendent generation may be clear, not only from the idea of passion, but from that of interval. Now he who says that God is a Father will unite with the thought that God is, the further thought that He is something: for that which has its being from some beginning, certainly also derives from something the beginning of its being, whatever it is: but He in Whose case being had no beginning, has not His beginning from anything, even although we contemplate in Him some other attribute than simple existence. Well, God is a Father. It follows that He is what He is from eternity: for He did not become, but is a Father: for in God that which was, both is and will be. On the other hand, if He once was not anything, then He neither is nor will be that thing: for He is not believed to be the Father of a Being such that it may be piously asserted that God once existed by Himself without that Being. For the Father is the Father of Life, and Truth, and Wisdom, and Light, and Sanctification, and Power, and all else of a like kind that the Only-begotten is or is called. Thus when the adversaries allege that the Light
once was not, I know not to which the greater injury is done, whether to the Light, in that the Light is not, or to Him that has the Light, in that He has not the Light. So also with Life and Truth and Power, and all the other characters in which the Only-begotten fills the Father's bosom, being all things in His own fullness. For the absurdity will be equal either way, and the impiety against the Father will equal the blasphemy against the Son: for in saying that the Lord
once was not, you will not merely assert the non-existence of Power, but you will be saying that the Power of God, Who is the Father of the Power,
was not. Thus the assertion made by your doctrine that the Son
once was not, establishes nothing else than a destitution of all good in the case of the Father. See to what an end these wise men's acuteness leads, how by them the word of the Lord is made good, which says,
He that despises Me despises Him that sent Me : for by the very arguments by which they despise the existence at any time of the Only-begotten, they also dishonour the Father, stripping off by their doctrine from the Father's glory every good name and conception.
productin the naming of the Only-Begotten include a like idea of relationship.
What has been said, therefore, has clearly exposed the slackness which is to be found in the knavery of our author, who, while he goes about to establish the opposition of the essence of the Only-begotten to that of the Father, by the method of calling the one
ungenerate, and the other
generate, stands convicted of playing the fool with his inconsistent arguments. For it was shown from his own words, first, that the name of
generation another; and next, that there did not come into existence, with the Son, any new and different essence besides the essence of the Father, but that what the Father is as regards the definition of His nature, that also He is Who is of the Father, as the nature does not change into diversity in the Person of the Son, according to the truth of the argument displayed by our consideration of Adam and Abel. For as, in that instance, he that was not generated after a like sort was yet, so far as concerns the definition of essence, the same with him that was generated, and Abel's generation did not produce any change in the essence, so, in the case of these pure doctrines, the Only-begotten God did not, by His own generation, produce in Himself any change in the essence of Him Who is ungenerate (coming forth, as the Gospel says, from the Father, and being in the Father,) but is, according to the simple and homely language of the creed we profess,
Light of Light, very God of very God, the one being all that the other is, save being that other. With regard, however, to the aim for the sake of which he carries on this system-making, I think there is no need for me at present to express any opinion, whether it is audacious and dangerous, or a thing allowable and free from danger, to transform the phrases which are employed to signify the Divine nature from one to another, and to call Him Who is generated by the name of
product of generation.
I let these matters pass, that my discourse may not busy itself too much in the strife against lesser points, and neglect the greater; but I say that we ought carefully to consider the question whether the natural relation does introduce the use of these terms: for this surely Eunomius asserts, that with the affinity of the appellations there is also asserted an essential relationship. For he would not say, I presume, that the mere names themselves, apart from the sense of the things signified, have any mutual relation or affinity; but all discern the relationship or diversity of the appellations by the meanings which the words express. If, therefore, he confesses that
the Son has a natural relation with
the Father, let us leave the appellations, and consider the force that is found in their significations, whether in their affinity we discern diversity of essence, or that which is kindred and characteristic. To say that we find diversity is downright madness. For how does something without kinship or community
preserve order, connected and conformable, in the names, where
the generated essence itself, as he says,
and the appellation of 'Son,' make such a relation of words appropriate? If, on the other hand, he should say that these appellations signify relationship, he will necessarily appear in the character of an advocate of the community of essence, and as maintaining the fact that by affinity of names is signified also the connection of subjects: and this he often does in his composition without being aware of it. For, by the arguments wherewith he endeavours to destroy the truth, he is often himself unwittingly drawn into an advocacy of the very doctrines against which he is contending. Some such thing the history tells us concerning Saul, that once, when moved with wrath against the prophets, he was overcome by grace, and was found as one of the inspired, (the Spirit of prophecy willing, as I suppose, to instruct the apostate by means of himself,) whence the surprising nature of the event became a proverb in his after life, as the history records such an expression by way of wonder,
Is Saul also among the prophets 1 Samuel 19:24?
At what point, then, does Eunomius assent to the truth? When he says that the Lord Himself,
being the Son of the living God, not being ashamed of His birth from the Virgin, often named Himself, in His own sayings, 'the Son of Man'? For this phrase we also allege for proof of the community of essence, because the name of
Son shows the community of nature to be equal in both cases. For as He is called the Son of Man by reason of the kindred of His flesh to her of whom He was born, so also He is conceived, surely, as the Son of God, by reason of the connection of His essence with that from which He has His existence, and this argument is the greatest weapon of the truth. For nothing so clearly points to Him Who is the
mediator between God and man 1 Timothy 2:5 (as the great Apostle called Him), as the name of
Son, equally applicable to either nature, Divine or Human. For the same Person is Son of God, and was made, in the Incarnation, Son of Man, that, by His communion with each, He might link together by Himself what were divided by nature. Now if, in becoming Son of Man, he were without participation in human nature, it would be logical to say that neither does He share in the Divine essence, though He is Son of God. But if the whole compound nature of man was in Him (for He was
in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin Hebrews 4:15), it is surely necessary to believe that every property of the transcendent essence is also in Him, as the Word
Son claims for Him both alike — the Human in the man, but in the God the Divine.
If then the appellations, as Eunomius says, indicate relationship, and the existence of relationship is observed in the things, not in the mere sound of the words (and by things I mean the things conceived in themselves, if it be not over-bold thus to speak of the Son and the Father), who would deny that the very champion of blasphemy has by his own action been dragged into the advocacy of orthodoxy, overthrowing by his own means his own arguments, and proclaiming community of essence in the case of the Divine doctrines? For the argument that he unwillingly casts into the scale on the side of truth does not speak falsely as regards this point — that He would not have been called Son if the natural conception of the names did not verify this calling. For as a bench is not called the son of the workman, and no sane man would say that the builder engendered the house, and we do not say that the vineyard is the
product of the vine-dresser, but call what a man makes his work, and him who is begotten of him the son of a man, (in order, I suppose, that the proper meaning might be attached by means of the names to the respective subjects,) so too, when we are taught that the Only-begotten is Son of God, we do not by this appellation understand a creature of God, but what the word
Son in its signification really displays. And even though wine be named by Scripture the
product of the vine, not even so will our argument with regard to the orthodox doctrine suffer by this identity of name. For we do not call wine the
product of the oak, nor the acorn the
product of the vine, but we use the word only if there is some natural community between the
product and that from which it comes. For the moisture in the vine, which is drawn out from the root through the stem by the pith, is, in its natural power, water: but, as it passes in orderly sequence along the ways of nature, and flows from the lowest to the highest, it changes to the quality of wine, a change to which the rays of the sun contribute in some degree, which by their warmth draw out the moisture from the depth to the shoots, and by a proper and suitable process of ripening make the moisture wine: so that, so far as their nature is concerned, there is no difference between the moisture that exists in the vine and the wine that is produced from it. For the one form of moisture comes from the other, and one could not say that the cause of wine is anything else than the moisture which naturally exists in the shoots. But, so far as moisture is concerned, the differences of quality produce no alteration, but are found when some peculiarity discerns the moisture which is in the form of wine from that which is in the shoots, one of the two forms being accompanied by astringency, or sweetness, or sourness, so that in substance the two are the same, but are distinguished by qualitative differences. As, therefore, when we hear from Scripture that the Only-begotten God is Son of man, we learn by the kindred expressed in the name His kinship with true man, so even, if the Son be called, in the adversaries' phrase, a
product, we none the less learn, even by this name, His kinship in essence with Him that has
produced Him, by the fact that wine, which is called the
product of the vine has been found not to be alien, as concerns the idea of moisture, from the natural power that resides in the vine. Indeed, if one were judiciously to examine the things that are said by our adversaries, they tend to our doctrine, and their sense cries out against their own fabrications, as they strive at all points to establish their
difference in essence. Yet it is by no means an easy matter to conjecture whence they were led to such conceptions. For if the appellation of
Son does not merely signify
being from something, but by its signification presents to us specially, as Eunomius himself says, relationship in point of nature, and wine is not called the
product of an oak, and those
generation of vipers , of which the Gospel somewhere speaks, are snakes and not sheep, it is clear, that in the case of the Only-begotten also, the appellation of
Son or of
product would not convey the meaning of relationship to something of another kind: but even if, according to our adversaries' phrase, He is called a
product of generation, and the name of
Son, as they confess, has reference to nature, the Son is surely of the essence of Him Who has generated or
produced Him, not of that of some other among the things which we contemplate as external to that nature. And if He is truly from Him, He is not alien from all that belongs to Him from Whom He is, as in the other cases too it was shown that all that has its existence from anything by way of generation is clearly of the same kind as that from whence it came.
You worship you knownot what.
Now if any one should ask for some interpretation, and description, and explanation of the Divine essence, we are not going to deny that in this kind of wisdom we are unlearned, acknowledging only so much as this, that it is not possible that that which is by nature infinite should be comprehended in any conception expressed by words. The fact that the Divine greatness has no limit is proclaimed by prophecy, which declares expressly that of His splendour, His glory, His holiness,
there is no end : and if His surroundings have no limit, much more is He Himself in His essence, whatever it may be, comprehended by no limitation in any way. If then interpretation by way of words and names implies by its meaning some sort of comprehension of the subject, and if, on the other hand, that which is unlimited cannot be comprehended, no one could reasonably blame us for ignorance, if we are not bold in respect of what none should venture upon. For by what name can I describe the incomprehensible? By what speech can I declare the unspeakable? Accordingly, since the Deity is too excellent and lofty to be expressed in words, we have learned to honour in silence what transcends speech and thought: and if he who
thinks more highly than he ought to think Romans 12:3, tramples upon this cautious speech of ours making a jest of our ignorance of things incomprehensible, and recognizes a difference of unlikeness in that which is without figure, or limit, or size, or quantity (I mean in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), and brings forward to reproach our ignorance that phrase which is continually alleged by the disciples of deceit, prophet, and not fear the reproach of fools , nor be led by their reviling to talk boldly of things unspeakable, making that unpractised speaker Paul our teacher in the mysteries that transcend knowledge, who is so far from thinking that the Divine nature is within the reach of human perception, that he calls even the judgments of God
unsearchable, and His ways
past finding out Romans 11:33, and affirms that the things promised to them that love Him, for their good deeds done in this life, are above comprehension so that it is not possible to behold them with the eye, nor to receive them by hearing, nor to contain them in the heart. Learning this, therefore, from Paul, we boldly declare that, not only are the judgments of God too high for those who try to search them out, but that the ways also that lead to the knowledge of Him are even until now untrodden and impassable. For this is what we understand that the Apostle wishes to signify, when he calls the ways that lead to the incomprehensible
past finding out, showing by the phrase that that knowledge is unattainable by human calculations, and that no one ever yet set his understanding on such a path of reasoning, or showed any trace or sign of an approach, by way of perception, to the things incomprehensible.
Learning these things, then, from the lofty words of the Apostle, we argue, by the passage quoted, in this way:— If His judgments cannot be searched out, and His ways are not traced, and the promise of His good things transcends every representation that our conjectures can frame, by how much more is His actual Godhead higher and loftier, in respect of being unspeakable and unapproachable, than those attributes which are conceived as accompanying it, whereof the divinely instructed Paul declares that there is no knowledge:— and by this means we confirm in ourselves the doctrine they deride, confessing ourselves inferior to them in the knowledge of those things which are beyond the range of knowledge, and declare that we really worship what we know. Now we know the loftiness of the glory of Him Whom we worship, by the very fact that we are not able by reasoning to comprehend in our thoughts the incomparable character of His greatness; and that saying of our Lord to the Samaritan woman, which is brought forward against us by our enemies, might more properly be addressed to them. For the words,
You worship you know not what, the Lord speaks to the Samaritan woman, prejudiced as she was by corporeal ideas in her opinions concerning God: and to her the phrase well applies, because the Samaritans, thinking that they worship God, and at the same time supposing the Deity to be corporeally settled in place, adore Him in name only, worshipping something else, and not God. For nothing is Divine that is conceived as being circumscribed, but it belongs to the Godhead to be in all places, and to pervade all things, and not to be limited by anything: so that those who fight against Christ find the phrase they adduce against us turned into an accusation of themselves. For, as the Samaritans, supposing the Deity to be compassed round by some circumscription of place, were rebuked by the words they heard,
'You worship you know not what,' and your service is profitless to you, for a God that is deemed to be settled in any place is no God,— so one might well say to the new Samaritans,
product of generation,and very many varieties of
sons,of God, of men, of rams, of perdition, of light, and of day.
But our discourse has diverged too far from the subject before us, in following out the questions which arise from time to time by way of inference. Let us therefore once more resume its sequence, as I imagine that the phrase under examination has been sufficiently shown, by what we have said, to be contradictory not only to the truth, but also to itself. For if, according to their view, the natural relation to the Father is established by the appellation of
the Son, and so with that of the
product of generation to Him Who has begotten Him (as these men's wisdom falsely models the terms significant of the Divine nature into a verbal arrangement, according to some grammatical frivolity), no one could longer doubt that the mutual relation of the names which is established by nature is a proof of their kindred, or rather of their identity of essence. But let not our discourse merely turn about our adversaries' words, that the orthodox doctrine may not seem to gain the victory only by the weakness of those who fight against it, but appear to have an abundant supply of strength in itself. Let the adverse argument, therefore, be strengthened as much as may be by us ourselves with more energetic advocacy, that the superiority of our force may be recognized with full confidence, as we bring to the unerring test of truth those arguments also which our adversaries have omitted. He who contends on behalf of our adversaries will perhaps say that the name of
product of generation, does not by any means establish the fact of kindred in nature. For in Scripture the term
child of wrath is used, and
son of perdition John 17:12, and
product of a viper ; and in such names surely no community of nature is apparent. For Judas, who is called
the son of perdition, is not in his substance the same with perdition, according to what we understand by the word. For the signification of the
man in Judas is one thing, and that of
perdition is another. And the argument may be established equally from an opposite instance. For those who are called in a certain sense
children of light, and
children of the day 1 Thessalonians 5:5, are not the same with light and day in respect of the definition of their nature, and the stones are made Abraham's children when they claim their kindred with him by faith and works; and those who are
led by the Spirit of God, as the Apostle says, are called
Sons of God Romans 8:14, without being the same with God in respect of nature; and one may collect many such instances from the inspired Scripture, by means of which deceit, like some image decked with the testimonies of Scripture, masquerades in the likeness of truth.
Well, what do we say to this? The divine Scripture knows how to use the word
Son in both senses, so that in some cases such an appellation is derived from nature, in others it is adventitious and artificial. For when it speaks of
sons of men, or
sons of rams , it marks the essential relation of that which is begotten to that from which it has its being: but when it speaks of
sons of power, or
children of God, it presents to us that kinship which is the result of choice. And, moreover, in the opposite sense, too, the same persons are called
sons of Eli, and
sons of Belial , the appellation of
sons being easily adapted to either idea. For when they are called
sons of Eli, they are declared to have natural relationship to him, but in being called
sons of Belial, they are reproved for the wickedness of their choice, as no longer emulating their father in their life, but addicting their own purpose to sin. In the case, then, of this lower nature of ours, and of the things with which we are concerned, by reason of human nature being equally inclined to either side (I mean, to vice and to virtue), it is in our power to become sons either of night or of day, while our nature yet remains, so far as the chief part of it is concerned, within its proper limits. For neither is he who by sin becomes a child of wrath alienated from his human generation, nor does he who by choice addicts himself to good reject his human origin by the refinement of his habits, but, while their nature in each case remains the same, the differences of their purpose assume the names of their relationship, according as they become either children of God by virtue, or of the opposite by vice.
But how does Eunomius, in the case of the divine doctrines at least — he who
preserves the natural order (for I will use our author's very words),
and abides by those things which are known to us from the beginning, and does not refuse to call Him that is begotten by the name of 'product of generation,' since the generated essence itself (as he says)
and the appellation of 'Son' makes such a relation of words appropriate, — how does he alienate the Begotten from essential kindred with Him that begot Him? For in the case of those who are called
products by way of reproach, or again where some praise accompanies such names, we cannot say that any one is called
a child of wrath, being at the same time actually begotten by wrath; nor again had any one the day for his mother, in a corporeal sense, that he should be called its son; but it is the difference of their will which gives occasion for names of such relationship. Here, however, Eunomius says,
we do not refuse to call the Son, seeing He is begotten, by the name of 'product of generation,' since the generated essence, he tells us,
and the appellation of 'Son,' makes such a relation of words appropriate. If, then, he confesses that such a relation of words is made appropriate by the fact that the Son is really a
product of generation, how is it opportune to assign such a rationale of names, alike to those which are used inexactly by way of metaphor, and to those where the natural relation, as Eunomius tells us, makes such a use of names appropriate? Surely such an account is true only in the case of those whose nature is a border-land between virtue and vice, where one often shares in turn opposite classes of names, becoming a child, now of light, then again of darkness, by reason of affinity to the good or to its opposite. But where contraries have no place, one could no longer say that the word
Son is applied metaphorically, in like manner as in the case of those who by choice appropriate the title to themselves. For one could not arrive at this view, that, as a man casting off the works of darkness becomes, by his decent life, a child of light, so too the Only-begotten God received the more honourable name as the result of a change from the inferior state. For one who is a man becomes a son of God by being joined to Christ by spiritual generation: but He Who by Himself makes the man to be a son of God does not need another Son to bestow on Him the adoption of a son, but has the name also of that which He is by nature. A man himself changes himself, exchanging the old man for the new; but to what shall God be changed, so that He may receive what He has not? A man puts off himself, and puts on the Divine nature; but what does He put off, or in what does He array Himself, Who is always the same? A man becomes a son of God, receiving what he has not, and laying aside what he has; but He Who has never been in the state of vice has neither anything to receive nor anything to relinquish. Again, the man may be on the one hand truly called some one's son, when one speaks with reference to his nature; and, on the other hand, he may be so called inexactly, when the choice of his life imposes the name. But God, being One Good, in a single and uncompounded nature, looks ever the same way, and is never changed by the impulse of choice, but always wishes what He is, and is, assuredly, what He wishes: so that He is in both respects properly and truly called Son of God, since His nature contains the good, and His choice also is never severed from that which is more excellent, so that this word is employed, without inexactness, as His name. Thus there is no room for these arguments (which, in the person of our adversaries, we have been opposing to ourselves), to be brought forward by our adversaries as a demurrer to the affinity in respect of nature.
But as, I know not how or why, they hate and abhor the truth, they give Him indeed the name of
Son, but in order to avoid the testimony which this word would give to the community of essence, they separate the word from the sense included in the name, and concede to the Only-begotten the name of
Son as an empty thing, vouchsafing to Him only the mere sound of the word. That what I say is true, and that I am not taking a false aim at the adversaries' mark, may be clearly learned from the actual attacks they make upon the truth. Such are those arguments which are brought forward by them to establish their blasphemy, that we are taught by the divine Scriptures many names of the Only-begotten — a stone, an axe, a rock, a foundation, bread, a vine, a door, a way, a shepherd, a fountain, a tree, resurrection, a teacher, light, and many such names. But we may not piously use any of these names of the Lord, understanding it according to its immediate sense. For surely it would be a most absurd thing to think that what is incorporeal and immaterial, simple, and without figure, should be fashioned according to the apparent senses of these names, whatever they may be, so that when we hear of an axe we should think of a particular figure of iron, or when we hear of light, of the light in the sky, or of a vine, of that which grows by the planting of shoots, or of any one of the other names, as its ordinary use suggests to us to think; but we transfer the sense of these names to what better becomes the Divine nature, and form some other conception, and if we do designate Him thus, it is not as being any of these things, according to the definition of His nature, but as being called these things while He is conceived by means of the names employed as something else than the things themselves. But if such names are indeed truly predicated of the Only-begotten God, without including the declaration of His nature, they say that, as a consequence, neither should we admit the signification of
Son, as it is understood according to the prevailing use, as expressive of nature, but should find some sense of this word also, different from that which is ordinary and obvious. These, and others like these, are their philosophical arguments to establish that the Son is not what He is and is called. Our argument was hastening to a different goal, namely to show that Eunomius' new discourse is false and inconsistent, and argues neither with the truth nor with itself. Since, however, the arguments which we employ to attack their doctrine are brought into the discussion as a sort of support for their blasphemy , it may be well first briefly to discuss his point, and then to proceed to the orderly examination of his writings.
What can we say, then, to such things without relevance? That while, as they say, the names which Scripture applies to the Only-begotten are many, we assert that none of the other names is closely connected with the reference to Him that begot Him. For we do not employ the name
Light, or any of the rest, as we do the name
Son of the Father, with a reference to the God of all. It is possible to make a twofold division of the signification of the Divine names, as it were by a scientific rule: for to one class belongs the indication of His lofty and unspeakable glory; the other class indicates the variety of the providential dispensation: so that, as we suppose, if that which received His benefits did not exist, neither would those words be applied with respect to them which indicate His bounty. All those on the other hand, that express the attributes of God, are applied suitably and properly to the Only-begotten God, apart from the objects of the dispensation. But that we may set forth this doctrine clearly, we will examine the names themselves. The Lord would not have been called a vine, save for the planting of those who are rooted in Him, nor a shepherd, had not the sheep of the house of Israel been lost, nor a physician, save for the sake of them that were sick, nor would He have received for Himself the rest of these names, had He not made the titles appropriate, in a manner advantageous with regard to those who were benefited by Him, by some action of His providence. What need is there to mention individual instances, and to lengthen our argument upon points that are acknowledged? On the other hand, He is certainly called
Right Hand, and
Power, and all other such relative names, as being named together with the Father in a certain relative conjunction. For He is called the
Power of God, and the
Right Hand of God, and the
Wisdom of God, and the
Son and Only-begotten of the Father, and the
Word with God, and so of the rest. Thus, it follows from what we have stated, that in each of the names we are to contemplate some suitable sense appropriate to the subject, so that we may not miss the right understanding of them, and go astray from the doctrine of godliness. As, then, we transfer each of the other terms to that sense in which they may be applied to God, and reject in their case the immediate sense, so as not to understand material light, or a trodden way, or the bread which is produced by husbandry, or the word that is expressed by speech, but, instead of these, all those thoughts which present to us the magnitude of the power of the Word of God — so, if one were to reject the ordinary and natural sense of the word
Son, by which we learn that He is of the same essence as Him that begot Him, he will of course transfer the name to some more divine interpretation. For since the change to the more glorious meaning which has been made in each of the other terms has adapted them to set forth the Divine power, it surely follows that the significance of this name also should be transferred to what is loftier. But what more Divine sense could we find in the appellation of
Son, if we were to reject, according to our adversaries' view, the natural relation to Him that begot Him? I presume no one is so daring in impiety as to think that, in speech concerning the Divine nature, what is humble and mean is more appropriate than what is lofty and great. If they can discover, therefore, any sense of more exalted character than this, so that to be of the nature of the Father seems a thing unworthy to conceive of the Only-begotten, let them tell us whether they know, in their secret wisdom, anything more exalted than the nature of the Father, that, in raising the Only-begotten God to this level, they should lift Him also above His relation to the Father. But if the majesty of the Divine nature transcends all height, and excels every power that calls forth our wonder, what idea remains that can carry the meaning of the name
Son to something greater still? Since it is acknowledged, therefore, that every significant phrase employed of the Only-begotten, even if the name be derived from the ordinary use of our lower life, is properly applied to Him with a difference of sense in the direction of greater majesty, and if it is shown that we can find no more noble conception of the title
Son than that which presents to us the reality of His relationship to Him that begot Him, I think that we need spend no more time on this topic, as our argument has sufficiently shown that it is not proper to interpret the title of
Son in like manner with the other names.
But we must bring back our enquiry once more to the book. It does not become the same persons
not to refuse (for I will use their own words)
to call Him that is generated a 'product of generation,' since both the generated essence itself and the appellation of Son make such a relation of words appropriate, and again to change the names which naturally belong to Him into metaphorical interpretations: so that one of two things has befallen them — either their first attack has failed, and it is in vain that they fly to
natural order to establish the necessity of calling Him that is generated a
product of generation; or, if this argument holds good, they will find their second argument brought to nought by what they have already established. For the person who is called a
product of generation because He is generated, cannot, for the very same reason, be possibly called a
product of making, or a
product of creation. For the sense of the several terms differs very widely, and one who uses his phrases advisedly ought to employ words with due regard to the subject, that we may not, by improperly interchanging the sense of our phrases, fall into any confusion of ideas. Hence we call that which is wrought out by a craft the work of the craftsman, and call him who is begotten by a man that man's son; and no sane person would call the work a son, or the son a work; for that is the language of one who confuses and obscures the true sense by an erroneous use of names. It follows that we must truly affirm of the Only-begotten one of these two things — if He is a Son, that He is not to be called a
product of creation, and if He is created, that He is alien from the appellation of
Son , just as heaven and sea and earth, and all individual things, being things created, do not assume the name of
Son. But since Eunomius bears witness that the Only-begotten God is begotten (and the evidence of enemies is of additional value for establishing the truth), he surely testifies also, by saying that He is begotten, to the fact that He is not created. Enough, however, on these points: for though many arguments crowd upon us, we will be content, lest their number lead to disproportion, with those we have already adduced on the subject before us.
Source. Translated by H.A. Wilson. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 5. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1893.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/290103.htm>.
Contact information. The editor of New Advent is Kevin Knight. My email address is feedback732 at newadvent.org. (To help fight spam, this address might change occasionally.) Regrettably, I can't reply to every letter, but I greatly appreciate your feedback — especially notifications about typographical errors and inappropriate ads.