Three Discourses of Athanasius
against Arianism


Prefatory Note

{153} THE following Three Discourses against Arianism, the greatest work of their Author, are written on a definite plan, though not without some want of method and order in the execution. They consist mainly of a doctrinal comment, both controversial and didactic, upon cardinal passages of Scripture, which the Arians urged as inconsistent with the Catholic dogma of our Lord's proper divinity. Twelve texts, or groups of texts, are examined in this aspect and their real meaning determined, nine of them giving occasion for enlarging on His Divine Nature and His Economical Office, and three on the circumstances and results of His Incarnation.

To this extended comment, which is the rich staple of the work, is prefixed a series of answers to certain elementary formulæ and à priori assumptions of Arianism, such as have been more or less already dealt with in the two preceding Epistles, and which moreover, from their close connexion with each other and the heresy itself, naturally present themselves once more in various places of the exposition of Scripture passages, as in the three chapters introductory of the comment on Prov. viii. 22. Such imperfection in logical arrangement was, in so large a subject and in the instance of a writer with so little leisure, unavoidable: a more noticeable blemish is the dislocation of the chapter answering the Arian question, whether the gennesis was an act of the Divine Will; which, instead of {154} forming one of the subjects of the introductory argumentation, prior to the comments on texts of Scripture, has been thrown to the end of the work, as if a Postscript or Appendix, very much as the chapter on the "Ingenerate" occurs in the de Decretis, supr. p. 49. I have ventured in this Translation to transpose this chapter to what seems its more natural place. Vid. infr. pp. 191-204.

In cutting off the so-called fourth Oration or Discourse from the Three which precede it in Montfaucon's Edition, as if not belonging to Athanasius's work against Arianism, I am exercising the same liberty as the learned Benedictine himself takes as regards these Discourses, in reducing Photius's Five, or Pentabiblus, to Four by cutting off the first of them. My reasons are given in "Theological Tracts," Dissert. i.

As I have mentioned Photius's name, it may be well to cite here the judgment of that great literary authority on St. Athanasius's Pentabiblus, of which these Three Discourses form the substance.

"In his writings Athanasius is ever perspicuous, never wordy, never involved. He is keen, deep, nervous in his mode of arguing, and marvellously fertile. His argumentation has nothing poor or puerile in it (as happens in the case of the young or half-educated), but is philosophical and magnificent, full of thought and with broad views, fortified by testimonies of Scripture and weighty proofs. Especially such is he in his treatises 'against the Greeks,' and 'on the Incarnation;' and in his Pentabiblus against Arius, which is a triumphant defeat of every heresy, and eminently of Arianism. And if we were to say that Gregory Theologus and the divine Basil, as if drawing from a well, derived from this Treatise their beautiful and luminous arguments against the heresy, I consider we should not be far from the mark."


Three Discourses of Athanasius, &c.

Chapter 1.

{155 | ED. BEN. Orat. i. 1.} 1. ALL heresies have in them an element of mad impiety, which, when at length they have gone out from us, is recognised by all, as it was of old time. Indeed, the very fact of that departure is in itself an evidence, as blessed John has written, that, whatever be their doctrine, it does not breathe nor has breathed a Christian spirit. Hence our Saviour says, that they who gather not with us, scatter with the Evil One, and then, while men are slumbering, watch their opportunity for sowing the field of the Church with poisonous seed, that in death they may have companions. One heresy, however, there is, the latest that has gone from us, the Arian, as it is called, which, in its craft and unscrupulousness, is a very forerunner of Antichrist. This heresy, in order to avoid the proscription which is the sure destiny of the whole family of error, affects, like its father in our Lord's Temptation, to array itself in the words of Scripture [Note 1]. By this contrivance it is forcing its way into paradise, and has seduced certain souls to think bitter sweet, and to take and eat, with Eve in the beginning. And this is why I find it necessary, as you {156} exhort me, now to undertake its refutation [Note 2], that they who are far from its influence, may continue firm in shunning it, and that those whom it has deceived may repent, abjuring their good opinion of it, and understanding that to call its adherents Christians, argues little knowledge whether of Scripture, or of Christianity and its faith.

2. For what resemblance to our holy faith have they discovered in it, to make them so wantonly maintain that its supporters propound nothing evil? This in truth is to call even Caiaphas a Christian, and to reckon the traitor Judas still among the Apostles, and to say that they who asked for Barabbas instead of the Saviour did no evil, and to maintain Hymenæus and Alexander as right-minded, and that the Apostle slandered them. But neither would a Christian bear to hear this, nor would he consider the man who dared to say it of sane mind. For with them in place of Christ is Arius, as with the Manichees Manichæus; and for Moses and the other saints they have made the discovery of one Sotades, a man whom even Gentiles laugh at, and of the daughter of Herodias. For of the one has Arius imitated the dissolute and effeminate tone, in the Thalias which he has written; and the other he has rivalled in her dance, reeling and frolicking in his blasphemies against the Saviour; till the victims of his heresy lose their wits and go foolish, and change the Name of the Lord of Glory into the likeness of the image of corruptible man, and for Christians come to be called Arians, bearing this badge of their impiety.

3. Let them not attempt to retort that on this score they are on a par with us, because, as we call them Arians, so {157 | ED. BEN. i. § 1-2.} they in turn may name us from our teachers [Note 3]. No, never at any time did Christian people take their title from the Bishops among them, but from the Lord, on whom we rest our faith. Thus, though the blessed Apostles have become our teachers, and have ministered the Saviour's Gospel, yet not from them have we our title, but from Christ we are and are named Christians. But for those who derive the faith which they profess from private persons, good reason is it such men should bear the name of those whose property they have become. Yes surely; while all of us are and are called Christians after Christ, Marcion broached a heresy time since and was cast out; and those who continued with the Bishop who ejected him remained Christians; but those who followed Marcion were called Christians no more, but henceforth Marcionites. Thus Valentinus also, and Basilides, and Manichæus, and Simon Magus, have imparted their own name to their followers; and are accosted as Valentinians, or as Basilidians, or as Manichees, or as Simonians; and others, Cataphrygians from Phrygia, and from Novatus Novatians. So too Meletius, when ejected by Peter the Bishop and Martyr, called his party no longer Christians but Meletians [Note 4]; and so in consequence when Alexander of blessed memory had cast out Arius, those who remained with Alexander remained Christians; but those who went out with Arius left the Saviour's name to us who were with Alexander, and as to them they were henceforward denominated Arians.

4. Behold then, after Alexander's death too, those who communicate with his successor Athanasius, and those with whom the said Athanasius communicates, are instances of the same rule; none of them bear his {158} name, nor is he named from them, but all in like manner, and as is usual, are called Christians. For though we have a succession of teachers and become their disciples, still, because we are taught by them the things of Christ, we both are, and are called, Christians all the same. But those who follow the heretics, though they have innumerable successors in their heresy, yet for certain bear the name of him who devised it. Thus, though Arius be dead, and many of his party have succeeded him, yet those who think with him, as being known from Arius, are called Arians. And, it is a remarkable evidence of this, that those of the Greeks who even at this time come into the Church, on giving up the superstition of idols, take the name, not of their catechists, but of the Saviour, and are henceforth for Greeks called Christians; while those of them who go off to the heretics, and, again, all who from the Church change to this heresy, abandon Christ's name, and at once are called Arians, as no longer holding Christ's faith, but having become heirs of the mania of Arius.

5. How then can they be Christians, who for Christians are Ario-maniacs? or how are they of the Catholic Church, who have shaken off the Apostolical faith, and become authors of what is new and evil? who, after abandoning the oracles of divine Scripture, call Arius's Thalias a new wisdom? and with reason too, for a novelty that wisdom is. And hence a man may marvel that, whereas many have written many treatises and abundant homilies upon the Old Testament and the New, yet in none of them is a Thalia found; nay nor among the more respectable of the Greeks, but among those only who sing such strains over their cups, amid cheers and jokes, when men are merry, that the rest may laugh; till this marvellous Arius, who, taking no grave pattern, and ignorant even of what is respectable, while he stole largely from other heresies, would in the {159 | ED. BEN. i. § 3-5.} ludicrous go nothing short of Sotades [Note 5]. For what beseemed him more, when he would dance forth against the Saviour, than to throw his impious words into dissolute and abandoned metres? that, while a man, as Wisdom says, is known from the utterance of his word, so from those numbers should be seen the writer's effeminate soul and corruption of thought. So much for his style of writing; now let us inquire into the matter of which it is the expression.

Chapter 2.

6. THUS he starts:—

"According to faith of God's elect, God's prudent ones,
 Holy children, rightly dividing, God's Holy Spirit receiving,
 Have I learned this from the partakers of wisdom,
 Accomplished, divinely taught, and wise in all things.
 Along their track have I been walking, with like opinions,
 I the very famous, the much suffering for God's glory;
 And taught of God, I have acquired wisdom and knowledge."

Then follow his blasphemies:—"God was not always a Father;" but "once God was alone and not yet a Father, but afterwards He became a Father." "The Son was not always;" for, whereas all things were made out of nothing, and all things are creatures and works, so the Word of God Himself "was made out of nothing," and "once was not," and "was not before His generation," but as others "had an origin of creation." "For God," he says, "was alone, and the Word as yet was not, nor the Wisdom. Then, wishing to frame us, thereupon He {160} made a certain being, and named Him Word and Wisdom and Son, that He might form us by means of Him." Accordingly he says that there are two Wisdoms, first, the attribute co-existent with God, and next, that by this Wisdom the Son was generated, and was only named Wisdom and Word as partaking of it. "For Wisdom," saith he, "at the will of the wise God, had its existence by Wisdom." In like manner, he says, that there is another Word in God besides the Son, and that the Son again, as partaking of it, is named Word and Son according to grace. And this too is an idea proper to their heresy, as shown in other works of theirs, that there are many powers, one of which is God's own by nature and eternal; but that Christ, again, is not the true power of God: but, as others, one of the so-called powers; one of which, namely, the locust and the caterpillar, is called in Scripture, not merely the power but the great power. The others are many and are like the Son, and of them David speaks in the Psalms, when he says the Lord of Hosts or powers. And by nature, as all beings, so the Word Himself is alterable, and remains good by His own free will, while He chooseth; when, however, He wills, He can alter as we can, as being of an alterable nature. For "therefore," saith he, "as foreknowing that He would be good, did God by anticipation bestow on Him this glory, which afterwards, as man, He attained from virtue. Thus in consequence of His works foreknown, did God bring it to pass that He, being such, should come into being."

7. Moreover he has dared to say, that "the Word is not the true God;" that "though He is called God He is not very God," but "by participation of grace, He, as all the others, is God only in name." And, whereas all beings are unlike and foreign to God in substance, so too is "the Word unlike and alien in all things to the Father's substance and essence," and belongs to things {161 | ED. BEN. i. § 5-7.} created, and is one of these. Afterwards, he says that "even to the Son the Father is invisible," and "the Word cannot perfectly and exactly either see or know His own Father;" but even what He knows and what He sees, He knows and sees "in proportion to His own measure," as we also know according to our own capacity. For the Son, too, he says, not only knows not the Father exactly, for He fails in comprehension, but "He knows not even His own substance;"—and that "the substances of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, are separate in nature, and apart, and disconnected, and alien, and without participation of each other;" and, in his own words, "utterly unlike to each other in substance and glory, infinitely so." Thus as to "likeness of glory and substance," he says that the Word is entirely foreign to both the Father and the Holy Ghost. In such words hath the impious spoken; declaring that the Son is distinct by Himself, and in no respect partaker of the Father.

8. Who can hear all this without losing self-command? The heaven, as the Prophet says, was astonished, and the earth shuddered at the transgression of the Law. But the sun, with greater horror once, impatient of the bodily contumelies which the common Lord of us all voluntarily encountered for us, turned away, and, withdrawing his rays, made that day sunless. And shall not all human kind at Arius's blasphemies be struck speechless, and stop their ears, and shut their eyes, to escape hearing them or seeing their author? Rather, will not the Lord Himself have reason to denounce the unthankfulness, as well as the impiety, of such men, in the words which He hath already uttered by the Prophet Hosea? Woe unto them, for they have fled from Me; destruction upon them because they have transgressed against Me; though I have redeemed them yet they have spoken lies against Me. {162} And soon after, They imagine mischief against Me; they turn away to a nothing. For to turn away from the Word of God, which is, and to fashion to themselves one that is not, is to fall to what is nothing. For this was why the Ecumenical Council, when Arius thus spoke, cast him from the Church, and anathematised him, as impatient of such impiety [Note 6]. And ever since has Arius's error been reckoned for a heresy more than ordinary, he being known as Christ's foe, and forerunner of Antichrist. Though then so great a condemnation of this impious teaching be sufficient in a special way to make all men flee from it, as I said above, yet since certain persons called Christian, either in ignorance or in pretence, think it an indifferent matter in relation to the Truth, and call its professors Christians, proceed we to put some questions to them, according to our powers, thereby to expose its unscrupulous character. Perhaps, when thus encountered, they will be silenced, and flee from it, as from the sight of a serpent [Note 7].

Chapter 3.

The Son of God uncreate and from everlasting

9. If then they consider that the use of certain phrases of divine Scripture changes the blasphemy of the Thalia into praise and blessing, then of course they ought simply to disown Christ with the present Jews, when they see how those Jews study the Law and the Prophets; perhaps too they will deny the Law and the Prophets like Manichees, considering the latter read some portions of the Gospels. But what is the use of appealing to the Scriptures, if it is an {163 | ED. BEN. i. § 8.} imperfect appeal? To believe in one doctrine avails not, if you deny the rest. Arius then has lost his all of faith, and betrays his ignorance of our whole creed, and does but play the hypocrite when he denounces other heresies. For how can he speak truth concerning the Father, who denies the Son that reveals Him to us? or how can he be orthodox concerning the Spirit, while he speaks profanely of the Word from whom is Its supply? and who will trust his teaching concerning the Resurrection, denying, as he does, Christ, for our sakes the First-begotten from the dead? and how shall he not err in respect to His incarnate presence also, who is simply ignorant of the Son's genuine and true generation from the Father? For thus, the old Jews also, denying the Word, and saying, We have no king but Cæsar, were forthwith stripped of all they had, and forfeited the light of the Lamp, the fragrance of ointment, the knowledge of prophecy, and the Truth itself; till now they understand nothing, but are walking as in darkness.

10. A great darkness surely this heresy! for who was ever yet a hearer of such a doctrine? or whence or from whom did its abettors and hirelings [Note 8] gain it? who thus expounded to them when they were at school? who told them, "Abandon creature-worship and then draw near and worship a creature and a work"? [Note 9] But if they themselves own that now for the first time they have heard it, let them not deny that this heresy is foreign to Christians, and not from our fathers? But what is not from our fathers, but has been lighted on in this day, how can it be but that of which the blessed Paul has foretold, that in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, in the hypocrisy of liars, cauterized in their own conscience, and turning away from the truth? [Note 10] {164}

11. For, behold, we take Divine Scripture, and out of it discourse with freedom concerning the holy Faith, and set it up as a light upon its candlestick, and say:—"He is true Son of the Father, natural and genuine, and proper to His substance, Wisdom Only-begotten, True and only Word of God, not a creature, nor a work, but an Offspring proper to the Father's substance. And therefore it is that He is True God, because from the True Father He exists consubstantially. As to other beings, to whom He has said, I said ye are gods, only by participation of the Word through the Spirit have they this grace; but He is the Impress of the Father's Person [Note 11], and Light from Light, and Power, and true Image of the Father's substance. For this too the Lord has said, He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father. And He ever was and is, and never was not. For the Father being everlasting, His Word and His Wisdom must be everlasting also;" such is our holy faith, but those champions of Arius, what have they to show us from the infamous Thalia? What but this? that "God was not always a Father, but became so afterwards; the Son was not always, for He was not before His generation; He is not from the Father, but He, as others, has come into subsistence out of nothing; He is not proper to the Father's substance, for He is a creature and work"? And "Christ is not true God, but He, as others, was made God by participation; the Son has not exact knowledge of the Father, nor does the Word see the Father perfectly; and neither exactly understands nor knows the Father. He is not the true and only Word of the Father, but is in name only called Word and Wisdom, and is called by grace Son and Power. He is not unalterable, as the Father is, but alterable in nature, as the creatures, and He comes short of perfect knowledge of the Father reaching to comprehension." {165 | ED. BEN. i. § 9-10.}

12. Wonderful this heresy, not plausible even, but making speculations against Him that is, that He be not, and everywhere putting forward blasphemy for blessing! Were any one, after inquiring into both sides, to be asked, whether of the two he would follow in faith, or whether of the two spoke fitly of God,—nay, if these fosterers of impiety themselves be asked, what ought they to answer? For this is the cardinal question, Was He, or was He not? ever, or not before His generation? without beginning, or from this and from them? true Son, or by adoption and from participation and as a conception? Is it right to call Him one of God's works, or to unite Him to the Father; to consider Him unlike the Father in substance, or like and proper to Him; a creature, or Him through whom the creatures came to be? shall we say that He is the Father's Word, or that there is another Word beside Him, and that by this other He was made, and by another Wisdom; and that He is only named Wisdom and Word, and is a partaker of this Wisdom, and second to it?

13. Which of these theologies, I say, in its language concerning the Lord Jesus, is consonant with Scripture? [Note 12] and, if there is only one answer to be made, why do you not make it? For there is no middle path, and they know this well; but in their craft, I say, they conceal it, not having the courage to speak out, but uttering something else. For should they speak, a condemnation would follow; and should they be suspected, proofs from Scripture will be cast at them from every side. Wherefore, in their craft, as children of this world, after feeding their so-called lamp from the wild olive, and fearing lest {166} it should soon be quenched (for it is said, the light of the wicked shall be put out), they hide it under the bushel of their hypocrisy, and make a different profession, and boast of patronage of friends and authority of Constantius, that what with their hypocrisy and their boasts, those who come to them may be kept from seeing how foul their heresy is.

14. Is it not detestable, again, on this very score, that it dares not speak out, but is kept hid by its own friends, and fostered as serpents are? for from what sources have they got together these words of theirs? or from whom have they received what they venture to say? Not any one man can they specify who has supplied it. For who is there in all mankind, Greek or Barbarian, who ventures to rank among creatures Him whom he confesses the while to be God, and says, that He was not till He was made? or who is there, who to the God in whom he has put faith refuses to give credit, when He says, This is My Beloved Son, on the pretence that He is not a Son, but a creature? rather, such madness would rouse a universal indignation. Nor, again, does Scripture afford them any pretext; for it has been often shown, and it shall be shown now, that what they teach is alien to the divine oracles. Therefore, since all that remains is to say that from the devil came their mania, (for of such opinions he alone is sower,) proceed we to resist him; for with him is our real conflict, and they are but instruments;—that, the Lord aiding us, and the enemy, as he is wont, being overcome with arguments, they may be put to shame, when they see him without resource who sowed this heresy in them, and may learn, though late, that, as being Arians, they are not Christians. {167 | ED. BEN. i. § 10-11.}

Chapter 4.

Answer to intellectual objections to the doctrine

15. AT his suggestion then ye have maintained, and ye think, that "there was once when the Son was not;" this is the first cloak of your theory of doctrine which has to be stripped off. Say then what was once when the Son was not, O slanderous and impious men! [Note 13] If ye say the Father, your blasphemy is but greater; for it is impious to say that He was at one time, or to signify Him in the word "once." For He is ever, and is now, and as the Son is, so is He, and is Himself He that is, and Father of the Son. But if ye say that the Son was once, when He Himself was not, the answer is unmeaning. For how could He both be and not be? In this difficulty, you can but answer, that there was a time when the Word was not; for your very adverb "once" naturally signifies this. And your other, "The Son was not before His generation," is equivalent to saying, "There was once when He was not," for both the one and the other signify that there is a time before the Word.

16. Whence then this your discovery? for no passage of Holy Scripture has used such language of the Saviour, but rather "always" and "eternal" and "co-existent always with the Father." For, In the beginning was the Word, {168} and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And in the Apocalypse he says, Who is and who was and who is to come. Now who can rob "who is" and "who was" of eternity? This too in confutation of the Jews hath Paul written in his Epistle to the Romans, Of whom as concerning the flesh is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever; and to shame the Greeks, he has said, The invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead; but who the Power of God is, he teaches us elsewhere himself, saying, Christ God's Power and God's Wisdom. Surely in these words it is not the Father whom he designates, as ye often have whispered one to another, affirming that the Father is His eternal power. This is not so; for he says not, "God Himself is the power," but "His is the power." Very plain is it to all that "His" is not "He;" yet not something alien but rather something proper to Him.

17. Study too the context, and turn to the Lord; to that Lord whom the Apostle elsewhere calls the Spirit, to that Son, whom here he calls the Power of God. Then you will see that it is the Son of whom he speaks. For after making mention of the creation, he fitly speaks of the Framer's Power as seen in it, which Power, I say, is the Word of God, by whom all things came to be. Creation is not sufficient of itself to make God known. You may as well say it was sufficient to come into being of itself. As it was through the Son that it was made, so through the Son it speaks of God [Note 14]. As in Him all things consist, so {169 | ED. BEN. i. § 11-12.} of necessity, a rightly ordered mind sees the framing Word in it, and through Him begins to apprehend the Father. And if, as the Saviour also says, No one knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whom the Son shall reveal Him, and if on Philip's asking, Show us the Father, He said not, "Behold the creation," but, He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father, reasonably doth Paul, while accusing the Greeks of contemplating the harmony and order of the creation without reflecting on the Framing Word within it, (for the creatures witness to their own Framer,) and as desirous that through the creatures they might apprehend the true God, and abandon creature-worship, reasonably, I say, doth He speak of His eternal Power and Godhead, in order thereby to signify that through the Son alone can they interpret creation aright.

18. And when the sacred writers say Who exists before the ages, and By whom He made the ages, they thereby as clearly preach the eternal and everlasting being of the Son, even while they are designating God Himself. Thus, if Esaias says, The Everlasting God who has furnished the ends of the earth; and Susanna, O Everlasting God; and Baruch wrote, I will cry unto the Everlasting in my days, and shortly after, My hope is in the Everlasting, that He will save you, and joy is come unto me from the Holy One; yet forasmuch as the Apostle, writing to the Hebrews, says, Who being the Reflection of His glory and the Impress of His Person; and David, too, in the eighty-ninth Psalm, And the Brightness of the Lord be upon us, and, In Thy Light shall we see Light, who has so little sense as to doubt of the eternity of the Son? for when did man see light without the reflection of its radiance, that he may say of the Son, "There was once when He was not," or "Before His generation He was not."

19. And the words addressed to the Son in the hundred and forty-fourth Psalm, Thy kingdom is a kingdom of the {170} ages, forbid any one to imagine any interval at all in which the Word did not exist. For if every interval is measured in the ages, and of all the ages the Word is King and Maker, therefore, whereas no interval at all exists prior to Him, it were madness to say, "There was once when the Everlasting was not," and "From nothing is the Son."

20. And whereas the Lord Himself says, I am the Truth, not "I became the Truth;" but always, I am,—I am the Shepherd,—I am the Light,—and again, Call ye Me not, the Lord and the Master? and ye call Me well, for so I am, who, hearing such language from God, from the Wisdom and Word of the Father, speaking of Himself, will any longer hesitate about its truth, and not forthwith believe that in the phrase I am, is signified that the Son is eternal and unoriginate?

21. It is plain then from the above that the Scriptures declare the Son's eternity; it is equally plain from what follows that the Arian phrases "He was not," and "before" and "when," are in the same Scriptures predicated of creatures. Moses, for instance, in his account of the generation of our system, says, And every plant of the field, before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew; for the Lord God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground. And in Deuteronomy, When the Most High divided to the nations. And the Lord said in His own Person, If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice because I said, I go unto the Father, for my Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that when it is come to pass, ye might believe. And concerning the creation He says by Solomon, Or ever the earth was, when there were no depths, I was brought forth; when there were no fountains abounding with water. Before the mountains were settled, before the hills, was I brought forth. And Before Abraham was, I am. And concerning Jeremias He says, Before I formed thee in {171 | ED. BEN. i. § 13-14.} the womb, I knew thee. And David in the Psalm says, Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, Thou art God from everlasting and world without end. And in Daniel, Susanna cried out with a loud voice and said, O everlasting God, that knowest the secrets, and knowest all things before they come to be.

22. Thus it appears that the phrases "once was not," and "before it came to be," and "when," and the like, are fitly used of creatures, which come out of nothing, but are alien to the Word. But if such terms are used in Scripture of things created, but, "ever" of the Word, it follows, that the Son did not come out of nothing, nor is in the number of such things at all, but is the Father's Image and Word eternal, never having not been, but being ever, as the eternal Reflection of a Light which is eternal. Why imagine then times before the Son? or wherefore blaspheme the Word as if He began later than time began,—He by whom even the ages were made? for how did time or age subsist, when the Word, as you say, had not yet appeared, through whom all things were made, and without whom was made not one thing? Or why, when you do really mean time, do you not plainly say, "a time was when the Word was not?" but you hide the word "time" to deceive the simple, but you do not at all conceal your own spirit, nor, even if you did, could you escape discovery. For you still simply mean times, when you say, "There was when He was not," and "He was not before His generation."

Chapter 5.

Answer to intellectual objections

23. THE Son, then, according to Scripture, is eternal, uncreate, and the creating principle of all things. When {172} we thus speak, they make answer, "If so, if He eternally co-exists with the Father, call Him no more the Father's Son, but His brother." O insensate and contentious! For if we said only that He was eternally with the Father, and not His Son, their pretended scruple would have some plausibility; but if, while we say that He is eternal, we also confess Him to be the Son from the Father, how can He that is begotten be considered brother of Him who begets? And if our faith contemplates a Father and a Son, what brotherhood is there between them? and how can the Word be called brother of Him whose Word He is? This is not an objection of men really ignorant, for they comprehend how the truth lies; but it is a Jewish pretence, and that of men who, in Solomon's words, through desire separate themselves from the truth. For the Father and the Son were not generated from some pre-existing origin, that we may account Them brothers, but the Father is the origin of the Son and begat Him; and the Father is Father, and not the Son of any: and the Son is Son, and not brother.

24. Nor can any fault be found, as they would wish, in speaking of an eternal offspring. So far from His not being eternal because He is the Son, I will say that He could not be the Son unless He were eternal. For consider; was the substance of the Father ever imperfect, so that what belonged to it and was a complement necessary for its perfection was added afterwards? Man is an imperfect being, and soon grows into the maturity of his powers; but God's offspring is eternal, because God's nature is ever perfect. If then the Word be not a real Son of God, but a divine work brought out of nothing and merely called a son, if they can prove this, by all means let them cry out, "Once He was not;" but, if He is in truth Son, as the Father says and the Scriptures proclaim, and a son is nothing else than what is generated {173 | ED. BEN. i. § 13-14.} from the father; so that in short the Son of God is to be identified with His Word, and Wisdom, and Radiance; what can we say but that, in maintaining "Once the Son was not," they rob God of His Word, like plunderers, and openly predicate of Him that He was once without His proper Word and Wisdom [Note 15], and that the Light was once without Radiance, and the Fountain was once barren and dry? [Note 16] For though they pretend to shrink from the name of time, because of those who reproach them with it, and say that He was before times, yet whereas they assign certain intervals, in which they imagine He was not, they are most impious still, as equally suggesting times, and imputing to God's nature an absence of His Word.

25. This reasoning they cannot meet, if they really hold Him to be the Son of God; but in truth they do not hold Him to be such. In name indeed they do, in order to evade the condemnation which they would otherwise incur, but they use the word "Son" figuratively, and think that we cannot use it in a literal and real, without using it in a material sense. But is it not a grievous error in them, to have material thoughts about what is immaterial, and because of the weakness of their own nature to deny what is natural and proper to the Father? It comes to this, that they ought to deny the Father also, because they understand not how God is, or what the Father is, if, in their folly, they measure by themselves the Offspring of the Father. And men in such a state of mind as to consider that there cannot be a Son of God, demand our pity; however, they must be interrogated and confuted, for the chance of even thus bringing them to their senses.

26. Moreover, if, as you say, "the Son is from nothing," and "was not before His generation," He, of course, as well as others, must be called Son and God, and Wisdom, not {174} in the full meaning of the words, but only us a shadow and similitude of the True, that is, He is Son by participation; for thus all other creatures consist, and by sanctification are glorified. You have to tell us, then, of what He is partaker. All other things partake the Spirit, but He, according to you, of what is He partaker? of the Spirit? Nay, rather the Spirit Himself takes from the Son, as He Himself says; and it is not reasonable to say that the latter is sanctified by the former. Therefore it is the Father that the Son partakes; for this only remains to say. Now this, which is participated, what is it or whence? If it be something external, provided by the Father, He will not then be partaker of the Father, but of what is external to Him; and no longer will He be even second after the Father, since He has before Him this other; nor can He be called Son of the Father, but of that, as partaking which, He has been called Son and God. And if this be extravagant and impious, when the Father says, This is my Beloved Son, and when the Son says that God is His own Father, it follows that what is partaken is not external, but from the substance of the Father. And as to this again, if it be other than the substance of the Son, an equal extravagance will meet us; there being in that case something between this that is from the Father and the substance of the Son, whatever that be [Note 17].

27. Therefore it is irrelevant and beside the Truth to say that the Son's participation of the Father consists in anything external to the Father; and if so, it must be of the substance of the Father that He partakes; and if of the substance, it must be a whole participation, for portions and separations are foreign to the idea of things spiritual, and it is all one to say that God is wholly participated and that He begets; and what does begetting {175 | ED. BEN. i. § 15-16.} signify but a real Son? And thus the Son is He of whom all things partake, according to that grace of the Spirit which comes from Him; and this shows that the Son himself partakes of nothing, but what is partaken of by us from the Father is the Son; for, as partaking of the Son Himself, we are said to partake of God; and this is what Peter said, that ye may be partakers in a divine nature; as says too the Apostle [Note 18], Know ye not that ye are the temple of God? and, We are the temple of the Living God. And beholding the Son, we see the Father; for our conception and comprehension of the Son is knowledge concerning the Father, because He is the proper Offspring from His substance. And there is nothing to hinder our belief in a true and literal Son of God; for God is a Spirit, and in consequence, as He can be partaken of by all beings in their measure, without any separation or injury to His substance, as you would yourselves allow, so it is not difficult to conceive that full and entire participation of His substance by our Lord, which is generation, and constitutes him the genuine, the true, the Only-begotten Son of God.

28. Coming back then to the eternity of the Son, it appears that His Sonship is no difficulty in the way of believing that eternity, and He is identified with the Father's Word and Wisdom, in and through whom He creates and makes all things;—and His Radiance too, in whom He enlightens all things, and is revealed to whom He will;and His Impress and Image also, in whom He is contemplated and known, whereby He and His Father are one, and whoso looketh on Him, looketh on the Father;—and the Christ, in whom all things are redeemed, and the new creation wrought afresh. And on the other hand, the Son being such Offspring, it is not fitting, rather it is full of peril, to say that He is a work out of nothing, or that {176} He was not before His generation. Nor is this all:—For he who thus speaks of that which belongs to the Father's substance, already blasphemes the Father Himself; since necessarily wrong thoughts of Him are involved in false imaginations about His Son.

Chapter 6.

Answer to intellectual objections

29. Though this is enough in refutation of the heresy, its heterodoxy will appear from reasons such as the following: if God be Maker of all things by means of His Son, to deprive the Son of this necessary prerogative is, in fact, to deprive the Eternal Father of His creative power. Again, if the Son once was not, then the Triad is not from eternity, but was a Monad first, and afterwards a Triad, and so the true knowledge which we have of God grew, it seems, and took shape [Note 19]. Then again, if the Son has come out of nothing, I suppose the whole Triad came out of nothing too, or, what is more serious still, being Divine, it included in its unity a created thing, which has worship and glory together with Him-who-is ever, and is made up of strange and alien natures and substances. Is this a teaching endurable as regards so august a Truth? Is this an intelligible worship, which is so inconsistent with itself, as being at one time yes, and at another no? For what we know, it will receive, as time goes on, some fresh accession, and so on without limit; since by way of accessions at first {177 | ED. BEN. i. § 16-18.} and at starting it received its consistence. And so doubtless it may decrease on the contrary, for addition plainly admits of subtraction. But this is not so; perish the thought! the Triad is not thus brought into being. It is not generate; but there is an eternal and one Godhead in a Triad; and of that Holy Triad there is one glory; and ye presume to divide it into different natures. The Father is eternal, and yet ye say of the Word which is enthroned with Him, "Once He was not;" and whereas the Son is enthroned with the Father, yet ye think to place Him far from Him. The Triad is Creator and Framer, and yet ye fear not to degrade It to things which are from nothing; ye scruple not to make slaves equal to the Majesty of the Three, and to rank the King, the Lord of Sabaoth, with His subjects.

30. Cease then to confuse together ideas which are incompatible, or rather, confuse not what is-not, with Him-that-is. Such statements do not glorify and honour the Lord of all, but the reverse; for he who dishonours the Son, dishonours also the Father. For if theological truth has its perfection in a Triad now, and this is the true and only divine worship, and this is the good and the truth, it must always have been so, unless the good and the true be something that came after, and the truth of God's nature is completed by additions. I say, it must have been eternally so; but if not eternally, not so at present either, but at present only so as you suppose it was from the first;—so as not to be a Triad now. But such heretics no Christian would bear; for it belongs to Greeks to introduce a Triad which is generate, and to level It with things which came into being; for these do admit of deficiencies and additions; but the faith of Christians acknowledges the blessed Trinity as unalterable and perfect and ever what it was; neither adding to It what is more, nor imputing to It any loss, for both ideas are impious. And therefore that faith dissociates It from all things which came to be, and guards and {178} worships the unity of the Godhead as indivisible, and shuns the Arian blasphemies, and confesses and acknowledges that the Son was ever; for He is eternal, as is the Father, of whom He is the Eternal Word; and now for further proof of this.

31. I say then the eternity of the Son and His unity of substance with the Father are manifested in those titles, which I have already incidentally insisted on, of Stream from the Fountain, Word, Wisdom and Image. For instance, if God be, and be called, the Fountain of Wisdom and Life,—as He says by Jeremiah, They have forsaken Me, the Fountain of living waters; and again, A glorious high throne from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary; O Lord, the Hope of Israel, all that forsake Thee shall be ashamed, and they that depart from Thee shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken the Lord, the Fountain of living waters; and in the book of Baruch it is written, Thou hast forsaken the Fountain of Wisdom,—this implies that Life and Wisdom are not foreign to the Substance of the Fountain, but belong to It, nor were at any time without existence, but were always. Now the Son is all this, who says, I am the life, and, I Wisdom dwell with prudence. Is it not then impious to say, "Once the Son was not"? for it is all one with saying, "Once the Fountain was dry, destitute of Life and Wisdom." But a fountain it would then cease to be; for what begetteth not from itself cannot be called a fountain. What a freight of extravagance is here! for God promises that those who do His will shall be as a fountain which the water fails not, saying by Isaiah the prophet, And the Lord shall satisfy thy soul in drought, and make thy bones fat; and thou shalt be like a watered garden, and like a spring of water, whose waters fail not. And yet these men, whereas God is called and is a Fountain of Wisdom, dare to insult Him as barren and void once of His proper Wisdom. {179 | ED. BEN. i. § 19.} But their doctrine is false; truth witnessing that God is the eternal Fountain of His proper Wisdom; and, if the Fountain be eternal, the Wisdom also must needs be eternal. For in It were all things made, as David says in the Psalm, In Wisdom hast Thou made them all; and Solomon says, The Lord by Wisdom hath formed the earth, by understanding hath He established the heavens.

32. And this Wisdom is the Word, for by Him, as John says, all things were made, and without Him was made not one thing [Note 20]. And this Word is Christ; for there is One God the Father, from whom are all things, and we for Him; and One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we through Him. And if all things are through Him, He Himself is not to be reckoned within that "all." For he who dares to call Christ, through whom are all things, one of that "all," is bound also to include in that "all" God Himself, from whom are all. But if he shrinks from this as extravagant, and excludes God from that all, it is but consistent that he should also exclude from that all the Only-begotten Son, as being proper to the Father's substance. And, if He be not one of that all, it is a sin to say concerning Him, "He was not," and "He was not before His generation." Such words may be used of the creatures; but as to the Son, He is such as the Father is, of whose substance He is proper Offspring, Word, and Wisdom. For a relation like this belongs to the Son, as regards the Father, and to the Father as regards the Son; so that we may neither say that God was ever without His Rational Word [Note 21], nor that the Son was non-existing. For what is meant by a Son, if He be not from Him? or by Word and Wisdom, except what is ever proper to Him? When then was God without Him who belongs to Him? or how can a man consider that which belongs, as foreign and alien in substance? for other {180} things according to their nature as being creatures, are without likeness in substance to the Maker, but are external to Him, made by the Word at His grace and will, and thus admitting of sometimes ceasing to be, if it so pleases Him who made them; (for such is the nature of things that are made;) but as to what belongs to the Father's substance, (for this we have already found to be the Son,) what daring is it and impiety to say that "This comes from nothing," and that "It was not before its generation," but was adventitious, and can at some time again cease to be?

33. Let a man only dwell upon this thought, and he will discern how the perfection and the plenitude of the Father's substance is impaired by this heresy; still more clearly, however, he will see its extravagance if he considers that the Son is also the Image and Radiance of the Father, and Impress, and Truth. For if, when Light exists, there be withal its Image, viz., Radiance, and if, a Subsistence existing, there be of it the entire Impress, and a Father existing, there be His Truth; let them consider what depths of impiety they fall into, who make time the measure of the Image and Countenance [Note 22] of the Godhead. For if "the Son was not before His generation," Truth was not always in God, which it were a sin to say; for since the Father was, there was ever in Him the Truth, which is the Son, who says, I am the Truth. And the Subsistence existing, of course there was forthwith its Impress and Image; for God's Image is not delineated from without, but God Himself hath begotten it; in which seeing Himself, He has delight, as the Son Himself says, I was His delight. When then did the Father not see Himself in His own Image? or when had He not delight, that a man should dare to say, "The Image is out of nothing," and "The Father had not {181 | ED. BEN. i. § 20-21.} delight before the Image was generated"? and how should the Maker and Creator see Himself in a created and generated substance; for such as is the Father, such must be His Image. Only consider then the attributes of the Father, and then, if the Son be His Image, you will understand what He must be. The Father is eternal, immortal, powerful, Light, King, Sovereign, God, Lord, Creator, and Maker. These attributes must be in the Image, to make it true that he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father. If the Son be not all this, but, as the Arians consider, a thing made, and not eternal, this is not a true Image of the Father, unless indeed they give up shame, and go on to say, that the title of Image, given to the Son, is not a token of a similar substance [Note 23], but is His name only. But this, on the other hand, O ye Christ's enemies, is not an Image, nor is it an Impress. For what is the likeness of a being brought out of nothing to Him who brought what was nothing into being? or how can that which is-not, be like Him that-is, being short of Him in once not-being, and in its having its place among things that have come to be?

34. However, such the Arians wishing Him to be, have contrived arguments of this kind:—"If the Son is the Father's Offspring and Image, and is like in all things to the Father, then it necessarily holds that as He is begotten, so He begets, and He too becomes father of a son. And again, he who is begotten from Him, begets in his turn, and so on without limit; for nothing short of this it is to make the Begotten like Him that begat Him." Authors of blasphemy, verily, are these foes of God! who, sooner than confess that the Son is the Father's Image, conceive material and earthly ideas concerning the Father Himself, ascribing to Him severings and effluences and influences. If then God be as man, let Him become also a parent as {182} man, so that His Son should be father of another, and so in succession one from another, till the series they imagine grows into a multitude of gods. But if God be not as man, as He is not, we must not impute to Him the attributes of man. For brutes and men, after a Framer has set them off, are begotten by succession; and the son, having been begotten of a father who was a son, becomes accordingly in his turn to a son a father, as having in himself from his father that gift by which he himself has come to be. Hence in such instances there is not, properly speaking, either father or son, nor does the idea of father or the idea of son stay in their case, for the same man becomes both son and father, son of his father, and father of his son. But it is not so in the Godhead; for not as man is God; for neither is the Father from Father; (and therefore it is that He doth not beget one who shall beget;) nor is the Son from effluence of the Father, nor is He begotten from a father that was begotten; therefore neither is He so begotten that He should beget. Thus it belongs to the Godhead alone, that the Father is eminently Father, and the Son eminently Son, and in Them, and Them only, does it hold that the Father is ever Father and the Son ever Son.

35. Therefore he who asks why the Son has not a son, must inquire why the Father had not a father. But both suppositions are out of place and impious exceedingly. For as the Father is ever Father, and never could be Son, so the Son is ever Son, and never could be Father. For in this rather is He shown to be the Father's Impress and Image, remaining what He is and not changing, but thus receiving from the Father to be one and the same [Note 24]. If then the Father change, let the Image change; for such is the relation of the Image and Radiance towards Him who begat It. But if the Father is immutable, and what {183 | ED. BEN. i. § 21-22.} He is that He continues to be, necessarily does the Image also continue what He is, and will not alter. Now He is Son from the Father; therefore He will not become other than is proper to the Father's substance. Idly then have the foolish ones devised this objection also, wishing to separate the Image from the Father, that they might level the Son with things generated.

Chapter 7.

Answer to intellectual objections

36. RANKING Him among these, according to the teaching of Eusebius, and accounting Him to be such as are the things which come into being through Him, the Arians revolted from the truth, and at the beginning, when they were commencing this heresy, were used to go about with phrases of craft which they had got together; nay, up to this time some of them, when they fall in with boys in the market-place [Note 25], question them, not out of divine Scripture at all, but thus, as if bursting out with the abundance of their heart:—He-that-is, did He, from Him-that-is, make Him who was-not, or Him-who-was? therefore did He make the Son, whereas He-was, or whereas He-was-not? And again, "Is the ingenerate one or two?" and "Has He free-will, and yet at His own choice does not alter, as being of an alterable nature? for He is not as a stone to remain by Himself without movement." Next they turn to women, and address them in turn in this womanish language, "Hadst thou a son before bearing? now, as thou hadst not, so neither was the Son of God in being before His generation." With such words do the disgraceful men sport and revel, and liken God to men, {184} pretending to be Christians, but changing God's glory into an image made like to corruptible man.

37. Objections so shallow deserve no answer at all; however, lest their heresy appear to have any foundation, it may be right, though we go out of the way for it, to refute them even here, especially on account of the women who are so easily deceived by them. When they thus speak, they should inquire of an architect, whether he can build without materials; and if he cannot, whether it follows that God could not make the universe without materials. Or they should ask whether any one of the whole race of men can be without his place; and if he cannot, whether it follows that God is in place; that so they may be brought to shame even by their audience. Or why is it that, on hearing that God has a Son, they deny Him by the parallel of themselves; whereas, if they hear that He creates and makes, no longer do they object their human parallels? they ought, when they discuss the subject of creation, to introduce their human ideas into it, and to supply God with materials, and so deny Him to be Creator, till they end in herding with Manichees. But if the idea of God transcends such thoughts, and, on very first hearing of Him, one believes and knows that He exists, not as we exist, and yet that He does exist as God, and creates not as men create, but still creates as God, it is plain that He begets also not as men beget, but begets as God. For God does not make man His pattern; but rather we men, because God is eminently, and alone truly, Father of His Son, are also called fathers of our own children; for of Him is every fatherhood in heaven and earth named. Thus their positions, while unscrutinised, have a show of sense; but if any one scrutinise them by reason, they will be found to merit much derision and mockery.

38. For first of all, as to their first question, which is such as this,—how vague it is!—they do not explain who it {185 | ED. BEN. i. § 22-24.} is they ask about, so as to allow of an answer, but they say abstractedly, "He-who-is," "Him who-is-not." [Note 26] They profess to have thrown their question into such a shape as to compel an answer of decisive force against the eternity of the Word; but only apply it to actual instances, and you will find that it will not hold. Who then "is," and what things "are not," O Arians? or who "is," and who "is not"? what things are said "to be," what "not to be"? for He-that-is, can make things which are not, and things which are, and things which were already. For instance, carpenter, and goldsmith, and potter, each, according to his own art, works upon materials previously existing, making what vessels he pleases; and "He that is," namely, the God of all, having taken the dust of the earth, existing and already brought into being, fashions man; and that very earth, again, whereas once it was not, He has in its time brought into being by His own Word. If then this is the meaning of their question, the creature on the one hand before its creation plainly was not before it came to be, and men, on the other, work the existing material, "that which was;" and thus their reasoning is inconsequent, since both "what is" comes to be, and "what is not" comes to be, as these instances show. So much as regards works, which are external to God's substance; but it is otherwise with what is internal to It. If they speak concerning God and His Word, let {186} them complete their question and then ask, Was the God "who-is" ever without rational Word? and, whereas He is Light, was He rayless? or was He always Father of the Word? Or again in this manner, Has the Father "who-is" made the Word "who-is-not," or, as He has been ever, so has He ever had with Him His Word, as the proper Offspring of His substance? But such idle sophistry scarcely requires an answer, in the face of the many Scripture testimonies which I have adduced above, John saying, In the beginning was the Word, and Paul, Who being the Brightness of His glory, and Who is over all, God blessed for ever, Amen.

39. However, if I must answer them, I am forced to use words after their own pattern of irreverence. After many prayers [Note 27] then that God would be gracious to us, thus we might ask them in turn: God who-is, has He too so become, whereas He was-not? or is He also before He came to be? whereas then He-is, did He make Himself, or is He of nothing, and being nothing before, did He suddenly appear? Out of place is such a question, and very blasphemous too, yet parallel with theirs; for whichever answer they give, it abounds in impiety. But if it be blasphemous and utterly impious thus to inquire about God, it will be blasphemous too to make the like inquiries about His Word. I am obliged thus to speak in order to expose their shallow interrogation, for whereas God is, He was eternally; since then the Father is ever, His Radiance ever is, which is His Word. And again, God who is, hath from Himself His Word who also is; and neither hath the Word been added, whereas He was not before, nor was the Father once without a Word. For this assault upon the Son makes the blasphemy recoil upon the Father; as if He devised for Himself a Wisdom, and Word, and Son from without; for whichever of these {187 | ED. BEN. i. § 24-26.} titles we use, we denote the Offspring from the Father, as has been said. As then if a person saw the sun, and then inquired concerning its radiance, and said, "Did that which-is make that which-was, or that which-was-not," he would be held not to reason sensibly, but to have lost his senses, because he fancied that what comes altogether from the light was external to it, and was raising questions, how and where and when it were made; in like manner, thus to speculate concerning the Son and the Father, and thus to inquire, is far greater madness, for it is to speak of the Word of the Father as external to Him, and to image His natural Offspring as a work, with the avowal "He was not before His generation." This is the direct answer to their question; however, if they want another, let them recollect that, when the Word was made flesh, the Father, who-was, "made" the Son who-was,—made Him man. Whereas He was Son of God, He made Him in consummation of the ages also Son of Man; this they must grant, unless forsooth, after Samosatene, they affirm that He did not even exist at all, till He became man.

40. This is sufficient from us in answer to their first question; and now on your part, O Arians, remembering your own words, tell us whether for the framing of the universe, He who-was had need of Him who-was-not, or of Him who-was? You said that He made for Himself His Son out of nothing, as an instrument whereby to make the universe. Which, then, is superior, that which needs or that which supplies the need? or does not each supply the deficiency of the other? You rather prove the weakness of the Maker [Note 28], if He had not power of Himself to make the universe, but provided for Himself an instrument [Note 29] from without, as carpenter might do, or shipwright, unable to work anything without axe and saw? Can anything {188} be more impious! yet why should one dwell on its heinousness, when enough has gone before to show that their doctrine is a mere fantasy?

Chapter 8.

Answer to intellectual objection

41. AS to the question which they put to women, "Hadst thou a son before he was born?" no answer need be given by us but that which has been given already, namely, that it is not right to measure a divine act by the parallel of the nature of man. However, not to insist upon this, but to take their own ground, this at least they must grant, that a son, though necessarily younger than his father, is still his father's offspring, from his substance, and proper to him, not from without, and his image. If then we are to argue from human instances, why do they so insist on the relation of son to father as involving in the son a beginning of being, and are silent about its involving a sameness of nature?

42. This at first sight, but I will go further: the Son of God has no beginning because of that sameness. In the idea of a divine generation, sameness of nature actually precludes a beginning of being. Why that sameness between a human father and son, except that a son has ever been in the father even before his separate existence? Levi was in the loins of his ancestor Abraham from the first. But time is necessary for the operation of man's nature. As soon then as the restraints upon his nature are removed, he becomes father of a child, who hitherto existed within him. So it must be, for man does but grow into his perfection; but who is to introduce restraints and growth into our idea of God? Who is to deny that what {189 | ED. BEN. i. § 26-28.} He is now, that He has been, and all that is His has been, from all eternity? That the Son is eternal is involved in the very idea of sonship, for sonship belongs to the Divine Nature. And the force of this reasoning is confirmed by what we are told about the Son, as the Radiance of the Father, and about the Father as the Fountain of the Son. For when was a fountain without its stream, when was a light without its radiance? Shall these works of God be more perfect than their Maker? Shall His Son which is so one with Him be with an interval before existence, whereas these creatures of His hands have none? Thus the question of heretics to parents exposes their perverseness; they confess the point of nature, and now are put to shame on the point of time.

43. Nor is this all. Further to intimate, as regards the Son, both the use and the abuse of this argument from earthly similitudes, Divine Scripture supplies us with other parallels to direct our faith by, when it calls the Son of God His Word and His Wisdom. For the Word of God is His Son, and the Son is Word and Wisdom of the Father; and Word and Wisdom is neither creature nor part of Him whose Word He is, nor the offspring of a passion. Uniting then the two titles [Note 30], Scripture speaks of "Son" in order to preach the natural and true Offspring of His substance; and, on the other hand, that none may think of the Offspring humanly, therefore while signifying His substance it also calls Him Word, Wisdom, and Radiance; to teach us that the generation was without passion, and eternal, and worthy of God. What affection then or what part of the Father is the Word and the Wisdom and the Radiance? So much may be impressed even on these men of folly; for, as they ask women concerning God's Son, so let them inquire of men concerning the Word, and they will find that the word which issues from them {190} is neither an affection of them nor a part of their mind. But if such be the nature of men, who are passible and partitive, why speculate they about passions and portions in the instance of the immaterial and indivisible God, that under pretence of reverence they may deny the true and natural generation of the Son? What is said of the Word may be said of the Wisdom too. Men are capable and are partakers of Wisdom; God partakes of nothing. He is His own Wisdom and is Father thereof; and that His Wisdom is not occasional, mutable, alterable, but an Offspring proper to His substance. Wherefore, if He is now Father, He has ever been Father, for to be Father implies fuller perfection, and He is all perfect.

44. But, observe, say they, God was always a Maker, nor is the power of framing adventitious to Him; does it follow then, that, because He is the Framer of all, therefore His works also are eternal, and is it wicked to say of them, too, that they were not before generation? What a shallow answer! for what likeness is there between Son and work, that they should parallel a father's with a maker's function? How is it that, with that difference between offspring and work, which has been pointed out already, they remain so ill-instructed? I repeat, then, that a work is external to the maker, but a son is the proper offspring of the substance; it follows that a work need not have been always, for the workman frames it when he will; but an offspring is not subject to will, but belongs to the substance. And a man may be and may be called workman, though the works are not as yet; but father he cannot be called, nor can he be, unless a son exist. And if they curiously inquire why God, though always with the power to make, does not always make, (though who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His Counsellor? or how shall the thing formed say to the potter, Why hast thou made me thus? however, not to leave even a {191 | ED. BEN. i. § 28-29.} weak argument unnoticed,) they must be told, that although God from eternity had the power to make, yet creatures had not the capacity for being made from eternity. For they are out of nothing, and therefore were not before they came into being, and therefore could not co-exist with the ever-existing God? Wherefore God, looking to what was good for them, then made them all when He saw that, upon their coming into being, they would be able to abide. And as, though He was able, even from the beginning, in the time of Adam, or Noe, or Moses, to send His own Word, yet He sent Him not until the consummation of the ages, for this He saw to be good for the whole creation; so also, as to His works, He made them when He would, and as was good for them. But the Son, not being a work, but proper to the Father's substance, always is; for, whereas the Father always is, so that which belongs to His substance must always be; and this is His Word and His Wisdom. And that creatures should not be in existence, does not disparage the Maker; for He hath the power of framing them when He wills; but for the Offspring not to be ever with the Father, is a disparagement of the perfection of His substance. Wherefore His works were framed, when He would, through His Word; but the Son not when He would, for He is ever the proper Offspring of the Father's substance.


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1. Vid. Append. Scripture.
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2. In these Orations he scarcely makes mention of the Homoüsion, his object apparently being simply to show the momentous issue of the controversy itself, and the sophistries of the heretics. Vid. Append.
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3. On the attempt, continual but fruitless, to affix some name short of "Catholic" or "Christian" on the children of the Church, vid. Essay on Dev. Doct. p. 254, and App. Catholic.
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4. Vid. Meletius.
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5. Vid. Append. Arius.
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6. Vid. Append. Arius.
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7. "Etiamsi in erroris eorum destructionem nulli conderentur libri, hoc ipsum solum, quod hæretici sunt pronunciati, orthodoxorum securitati sufficeret." Vig. contr. Eutych. i. p. 494.
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8. Vid. Append. Arians.
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9. Vid. Semi-arians.
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10. Vid. supr. p. 7, Enc. n. 5, and App. Alexander.
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11. [hypostasis].
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12. Athan., it may be said, always assumes the traditional or ecclesiastical truth (which the Arians granted) "Christ is God," and then he goes at once to Scripture to illustrate and explain it. Which explanation, he asks, ours or the Arian, best accords with Scripture?
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13. Athan. observes that this formula of the Arians is a mere evasion to escape using the word "time," vid. also, Cyril. Thesaur. iv. pp. 19, 20. Else let them explain,—"There was," what "when the Son was not?" or what was before the Son? since He Himself was before all times and ages, which He created. Did they mean, however, that it was the Father who "was" before the Son? This was true, if "before" was taken, not to imply time, but origination or beginning. And in this sense the first verse of St. John's Gospel may be interpreted, "In the Beginning," or Origin, i.e., in the Father, "was the Word." Thus Athan. himself understands that text, Orat. iv. § 1. Vid. also Orat. iii. § 9. Nyssen. contr. Eunom. iii. p. 106. Cyril. Thesaur, p. 312.
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14. Athan. seems here to give expression to a feeling not uncommon now; that when we contemplate this beautiful visible world, e.g., as its hidden life bursts forth in spring, we recognise in it a unity, power, intelligence, harmony, sweetness, and joyousness, which we may, if we choose, call an anima mundi, but which to an [orthos theoron] is the Primogenitum Verbum Dei witnessing to His Eternal Father. Vid. infr. p. 355.
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15. Vid. App. [gennesis].
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16. Vid. App. [teleios].
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17. Vid. App. The Son.
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18. Vid. Apostle.
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19. As the name of the Holy Trinity has been used from the first and by our Lord's institution as the name of initiation in the instance of every one admitted into the Church, it is a virtual proof of our Lord's divinity prior to and more authoritative than the Scripture texts concerning it and catechetical tradition.
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20. Vid. Scripture.
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21. Vid. App. [alogos].
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22. Vid. App. [eidos].
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23. Here Athan. recognises the Homϟsion of the Semi-arians.
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24. [tautoteta].
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25. Vid. Append. Arians.
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26. This objection is found supr. Encycl. p. 4, [ho on theos ton me onta ek tou me ontos]. Again, [onta gegenneke e ouk onta], Greg. Orat. 29, 9, who answers it. Pseudo-Basil, contr. Eunom. iv. p. 281, 2. Basil calls the question [poluthrulleton], contr. Eunom. ii. 14. It will be seen to be but the Arian formula of "He was not before His generation" in another shape; being but this, that the very fact of His being begotten, that is, a Son, implies a beginning, that is, a time when He was not; it being by the very force of the words absurd to say that "God begat Him that was," or to deny that "God begat Him that was not." For the symbol, [ouk en prin gennethei], vid. Dissert. 3 in the author's Theol. Tracts.
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27. Vid. Append. Athanasius.
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28. Vid. supr. 12, p. 20.
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29. Vid. App. [organon].
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30. Vid. supr. p. 27, and Append. Economical language.
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