Discourse 2

Chapter 15.

Answer to objections from Scripture; Fourthly, Hebrews iii. 2.

{250} 101. I DID indeed think that enough had been said already against the hollow professors of Arius's madness, whether for their refutation or in the truth's behalf. They, however, do not succumb; but even invent new modes for their impiety. Thus they misunderstand the passage in the Proverbs, The Lord hath created Me a beginning of His ways for His Works, and the words of the Apostle, Who was faithful to Him that made Him, and argue outright, that the Son of God is a work and a creature. But although they might have learned from what is said above, had they not utterly lost their power of apprehension, the Truth witnessing it, that the Son is not from nothing nor in the number of things created at all, (for being God, He cannot be a work, and it is a sin to call Him a creature, and it is of creatures and works that we say, "it was out of nothing," and "it was not before its generation,") yet since, as if dreading to desert their own fiction, they are accustomed to allege the aforesaid passages of divine Scripture, which have a good meaning, but are by them practised on, let us proceed afresh to take up the question of the sense of these, in order to remind the faithful, and as to the Arians to show from each of these passages that they have no knowledge at all of Christianity. Were it otherwise, {251 | ED. BEN. ii. 1-2.} they would not have shut themselves up in the unbelief of the present Jews, but would have inquired and learned that, whereas In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, therefore it was on the Word's becoming man at the good pleasure of the Father, that it was suitably said of Him, as by John, The Word became flesh, so by Peter, He hath made Him Lord and Christ; and, as by means of Solomon in the Person of the Lord Himself, The Lord created Me a beginning of His ways for His works, so by Paul, become so much better than the Angels; and again, He emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant; and again, Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus, who was faithful to Him that made Him. For all these texts have the same force and meaning, a religious one, declarative of the divinity of the Word, even those of them which speak humanly concerning Him, as having become Son of man.

102. But, though this distinction is sufficient in itself for their refutation, still, since from a misconception of the Apostle's words, (to mention them first,) they consider the Word of God to be one of the works, because of its being written, Who was faithful to Him that made Him, I have thought it needful to silence this reiterated argument of theirs, taking in hand, as before, their own statement.

103. If then, He be not a Son, let Him be called a work, and let all that is said of works be said of Him, nor let Him and Him alone be designated Son, and Word, and Wisdom; neither let it belong to God Himself to be called Father, but only Framer and Creator of the things which by Him are brought into being; and let the creature be Image and Impress of His framing will, and let Him, as they would have it, be without generative nature, so that there is neither Word, nor Wisdom, no, {252} nor Image, of His proper substance. For if He be not Son, neither is He Image. But again, if there be not a Son, how then say you that God is a Creator? since all things that come to be are through the Word and in Wisdom, and without This nothing can be, whereas you say He hath not That, in and through which He makes all things. For if the Divine Substance be not fruitful Itself, but barren, as they hold, as a light that lightens not, and a dry fountain, are they not ashamed to speak of His possessing framing energy? and whereas they deny That which is by nature, do they not blush to put before It that which is by will? But if He frames things that are external to Him and were not before, by willing them to be, and becomes their Maker, much more will He first be Father of an Offspring from His proper Substance. For if they attribute to God the willing with respect to things which are not, why do they not recognise that in God which lies above the will? now it is a something that surpasses will, that He should have a nature, and should be Father of His proper Word. If then that which comes first, which is according to nature, does not exist, as they would have it in their folly, how can that which is second come to be, which is according to will? for the Word is first, and then the creation.

104. On the contrary, the Word exists, whatever they dare to say, those impious ones; for through Him did creation come to be, and God, as being Maker, plainly hath also His framing Word, not external, but belonging to Him;—for this must be repeated. If He has the power of will, and His will is effective, and suffices for the consistence of the things that come into being, and if again His Word is effective and a Framer, that Word must surely be the Living Will of the Father, and His energy in substance, and His real Word, in whom all things both consist and are excellently governed. No one {253 | ED. BEN. ii. 2-3.} can even doubt, that He who disposes is prior to the disposition and the things disposed. And thus, as I said, God's creating is second to His begetting; for Son implies something proper to Him and truly from that blessed and everlasting Substance; but what is only from His will comes into consistence from without, and is framed through His proper Offspring who is from that Substance.

105. In the judgment of reason then they are guilty of great extravagance who say that the Lord is not Son of God, but a work, and it follows that we all of necessity confess that He is Son. And if He be Son, as indeed He is, and a son is confessedly, not external to his father, but from him, let them not question about the terms, as I said before, which the sacred writers use concerning the Word Himself, (for instance, not "Him that begat Him" but Him that made Him), for as long as it is confessed what His nature is, the particular words used of Him in such instances need raise no question. For terms do not disparage His nature; rather that Nature draws to Itself those terms and changes their sense. For terms are not prior to substances, but substances are first, and terms second [Note 1]. Wherefore also when the substance is a work or creature, then the words He made, and He became, and He created, are used of it properly, and designate the work. But when the Substance is an Offspring and Son, then He made, and He became, and He created, no longer properly belong to it, nor designate a work; but we use He made without question for "He begat."

106. Yet, in spite of what is so plain, they insist upon Who made as some great support of their heresy. But this stay of theirs is but a broken reed; for if they were aware of the style of Scripture, they must at once give sentence {254} against themselves. For I repeat, although parents speak of the sons whom they beget as "being made" and "being created," for all this they do not deny their nature. Thus Ezechias, as is written in Esaias, said in his prayer, From this day I will make children, who shall declare Thy righteousness, O God of my salvation. He then said, I will make; but the Prophet in that very book and the Fourth of Kings, thus speaks, And the sons who shall come forth of thee. He uses then make for "beget," and he calls those who were to spring from him, made, and no one questions whether the term has reference to a natural offspring. Again, Eve, on bearing Cain, said, I have gotten a man from the Lord; thus she too used gotten for "brought forth." For, though she had herself borne the child, she said, I have gotten. Nor would any one consider, because of I have gotten, that Cain was purchased from without, instead of being born of her. Again, the Patriarch Jacob said to Joseph, And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasses, which became thine in Egypt, before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine. And Scripture says about Job, And there came to him seven sons and three daughters. As Moses too has said in the Law, If sons become to any one, and, If he make a son. Here again they have spoken of those who were begotten, as become and made, knowing that, so long as they are acknowledged to be sons, we need not make a question of they became, or I have gotten, or I made. For nature and the truth of the case draw the meaning to themselves.

107. This being so, when men ask whether the Lord is a creature or work, it is proper to ask of them this first, whether He is or is not Son and Word and Wisdom. For if this is shown, the surmise about work and creation falls to the ground at once and is ended. For what is a work could never be a Son and Word; nor could the Son be a work. And the Lord being proved to be the Father's Son {255 | ED. BEN. ii. 3-5.} naturally and genuinely, and Word, and Wisdom, though He made be used concerning Him, or He became, this is not said of Him as if a work, but the sacred writers use the words indiscriminately as in the case of Solomon, and Ezechias's children. For though the fathers had begotten them from themselves, still it is written, I have made, and I have gotten, and He became. Therefore God's enemies, in spite of their repeated allegation of such trifling words, ought now, however late in the day, after what has been said, to put away their impious thoughts, and think of the Lord as of a true Son, Word, and Wisdom of the Father, not a work, not a creature. For if the Son be a creature, by what word and by what wisdom was He made? for all the works were made through the Word and the Wisdom, as it is written, In Wisdom hast Thou made them all, and All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made. But if it be He who is the Word and the Wisdom, by which all things come to be, it follows that He is not in the number of works, nor in short of any things that are made, but the Offspring of the Father.

108. And as made is used for begat, so, as I have said, is servant used for Son. Fathers call the sons born of them their servants, yet without denying the genuineness of their nature; and often they affectionately call their own servants children, yet without putting out of sight their purchase of them originally; for they use the one appellation from their authority as being fathers, but in the other they speak from affection. Thus Sara called Abraham lord, though not a servant but a wife; and, while to Philemon who purchased him the Apostle joined Onesimus the servant as a brother, Bethsabe, although mother, called her son servant, saying to his father, Thy servant Solomon;—afterwards also Nathan the Prophet came in and repeated her words to David, Solomon thy servant. Nor did they think it mattered {256} to call the son a servant, for while David heard it, he recognised what his nature was, and they too, while they spoke it, forgot not his genuine sonship, praying that he might be made his father's heir, though they gave him the name of servant; for he to David was son by nature. As then, when we read this we interpret it fairly, without accounting Solomon a servant because we hear him so called, but a son natural and genuine, so also, if, concerning the Saviour, who is confessed to be in truth the Son, and to be the Word by nature, the sacred writers say, Who was faithful to Him that made Him, or if He say of Himself, The Lord created Me, and I am thy servant and the Son of Thine handmaid, and the like, let not any on this account deny that He is proper to the Father and from Him; but, as in the case of Solomon and David, let them have a right idea of the Father and the Son. For if, though they hear Solomon called a servant, they acknowledge him to be a son, are they not deserving of many deaths [Note 2], who instead of holding to the same explanation in the instance of the Lord, whenever they hear "Offspring," and "Word," and "Wisdom," forcibly misinterpret and deny the generation, natural and genuine, of the Son from the Father; and on hearing language and terms proper to a work, forthwith drop down to the notion of His being a work by nature, and deny the Word; and this, though it is possible, from His having been made man, to refer all these terms to His humanity? And are they not also proved to be an abomination unto the Lord, as having diverse weights with them, and with this weight estimating those other instances, and with that blaspheming the Lord?

109. Our Lord then, since a Son, cannot be a work: and now consider what grave consequences follow from so considering {257 | ED. BEN. ii. 5-6.} Him. Solomon says in one place in Ecclesiastes, that God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing whether it be good or whether it be evil. If then the Word be a work, do you mean that He as well as others will be brought into judgment? and what room is there for judgment, when the Judge is on trial? who is there to give to the just their blessing, who to the unworthy their punishment, if the Lord, as you must suppose, is standing on trial with the rest? by what law shall the Lawgiver Himself be judged? These things belong to the works, blessing and punishment from the Son. Henceforth then fear your Judge, and listen to Solomon. For if God shall bring the works one and all into judgment, but the Son is not in the number of those works put on trial, but rather is Himself the Judge of works one and all, is not the proof clearer than the sun, that He is not a work but the Father's Word, in whom all the works both come into being and come into judgment?

110. Further, if the expression, Who was faithful, is a difficulty to them, from the thought that faithful is used of Him as of others, as if He makes acts of faith and so receives the reward of faith, they must proceed at this rate to find fault with Moses, for saying, God faithful and true, and with St. Paul for writing, God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able. But when the sacred writers spoke thus, they were not thinking of God in a human way, but they acknowledged two senses of the word faithful in Scripture, first believing, then trustworthy, of which the former belongs to man, the latter to God. Thus Abraham was faithful, because he had faith in God's Word; and God faithful, for, as David says in the Psalm, The Lord is faithful in all His words, or is trustworthy, and cannot lie. Again, If any faithful woman have widows, she is so called for her right faith; but, It is a faithful saying, because what God hath spoken, has a claim {258} on our faith, for it is true, and nothing but truth. Accordingly the words, Who is faithful to Him that made Him, implies no parallel with others, nor means that by having faith He became well-pleasing; but that being Son of the True God, He too is faithful, and ought to be believed in all He says and does, Himself remaining unalterable and not changed in His human economy and incarnate presence.

111. Hitherto from a simple explanation of "made," I have shown how far that term is from an argument in behalf of the Word of God being a work. But this will be still clearer if we consider the occasion when it was used and for what purpose. Let it be observed then that the Apostle is not discussing things before the creation when he so speaks, but when the Word became flesh; for thus it is written, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus, who was faithful to Him that made Him. Now, when became He Apostle, but when He put on our flesh? and when became He High Priest of our profession, but when, after offering Himself for us, He raised His Body from the dead, and, as now, Himself brings near and offers to the Father those who in His faith approach Him, redeeming all, and for all propitiating God? Not then as wishing to signify the Substance of the Word nor His natural generation from the Father, did the Apostle say, Who was faithful to Him that made Him,—(perish the thought! for the Word is not made, but makes,)—but as signifying His descent to mankind and High-priesthood which was a coming to be, as—in the case of Priests—we may easily see from the account given of the Law and of Aaron.

112. I mean, Aaron was not born a high-priest, but a man; and in process of time, when God willed, he became high-priest; yet became so, not without conditions, nor by token of his ordinary garments, but putting over them the {259 | ED. BEN. ii. 6-8.} ephod, the breastplate, the long vestments, which the women wrought at God's command, and going in them into the holy place, he offered the sacrifice for the people; and in them, as it were, mediated between the vision of God and the sacrifices of men. Thus then the Lord also, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; but when the Father willed that ransoms should be paid for all, and to all grace should be given, then truly the Word, as Aaron his vestment, so did He take earthly flesh, having Mary for the Mother of His Body as if virgin earth, that, as a High Priest, having an offering as others, He might offer Himself to the Father, and cleansing us all from sins in His own blood, might raise us from the dead. For what happened of old was a shadow of this; and what the Saviour did on His coming, this Aaron shadowed out according to the Law. As then Aaron was the same and did not change by putting on the high-priestly dress, but remaining the same was only vested, so that, had any one seen him offering, and had said, "Lo, Aaron has this day become high-priest," he had not implied that he then had been born man, for man he was even before he became high-priest, but that he had been made high-priest in his ministry, on putting on the garments made and prepared for the high-priesthood; in the same way it is possible in the Lord's instance also to understand suitably, that He did not become other than Himself on taking the flesh, but, being the same as before, He was robed in it; and the expressions He became and He was made, must not be understood as if the Word, considered as the Word, were made, but that the Word, being Framer of all, afterwards was made High Priest, by putting on a body which was brought into being and made, and such as He can offer for us, wherefore He is said to be made. If then indeed the Lord did not become man, that is a point for the Arians to battle; but if the Word became {260} flesh, what ought to have been said concerning Him when become man, but Who was faithful to Him that made Him? for as it is proper to the Word to have it said of Himself, In the beginning was the Word, so it is proper to a man to become and to be made. Who then, on seeing the Lord as a man going to and fro, and yet appearing to be God from His works, would not have asked, Who made Him man? and who again, if asked such a question, would not have answered, that the Father made Him man, and sent Him to us as High Priest? [Note 3]

113. And this meaning, and time, and character [Note 4], the Apostle himself, the writer of the words, Who is faithful to Him that made Him, will best make plain to us, if we attend to what goes before them. For there is one train of thought, and the passage is all about One and the Same. He writes then in the Epistle to the Hebrews thus: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For nowhere doth He take hold of the Angels; but He taketh hold of the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus; who was faithful to Him that {261 | ED. BEN. ii. 8-9.} made Him. Who can read this whole passage without condemning the Arians, and admiring the blessed Apostle who has spoken so well? for when was Christ made, when became He Apostle, except when, like us, He took part in flesh and blood? And when became He a merciful and faithful High Priest, except when in all things He was made like unto His brethren? And then was He made like, when He became man, having put upon Him our flesh. Wherefore Paul was writing concerning the Word's human economy, when he said, Who was faithful to Him that made Him, and not concerning His Substance. Have not therefore any more the madness to say that the Word of God is a thing made, whereas He is Son by nature Only-begotten; and then had brethren, when He took on Him flesh like ours; which, moreover, Himself offering by Himself, He was named High Priest, and became merciful and faithful,—merciful, because in mercy to us He offered Himself for us, and faithful, not as sharing faith with us, nor as having faith in any one as we have, but as deserving to have faith placed in Him in all He says and does, and as offering a faithful sacrifice, one which remains and does not fail. For those which were offered according to the Law, had not this faithfulness, passing away with the day and needing a further cleansing; but the Saviour's sacrifice, taking place once, has perfected the whole, and is become faithful as remaining for ever. And Aaron had successors, and in a word the priesthood under the Law exchanged its first ministers as time and death went on; but the Lord, having a high-priesthood without transition and without succession, has become a faithful High Priest, as continuing for ever; and faithful too by promise, that He may hear and not mislead those who come to Him.

114. This may be also learned from the Epistle of great Peter, who says, Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit their souls to a faithful Creator. For He {262} is faithful as not changing, but abiding ever, and rendering what He has promised. Now the so-called gods of the Greeks, unworthy the name, are faithful neither in their essence nor in their promises; for the same are not everywhere, nay, the local deities are wasting away as time goes on, and are undergoing a natural dissolution; wherefore the Word cries out against them, that faith is not strong in them, but they are waters that fail, and in them there is no faith. But the one only and really and true God of all, is faithful, who is ever the same, and says, See now, that I, even I am He, and I change not; and therefore His Son too is faithful, being ever the same and unchanging, deceiving neither in His essence nor in His promise;—as again says the Apostle, writing to the Thessalonians, Faithful is He who calleth you, who also will do it; for in doing what He promises, He is faithful to His words. And he thus writes to the Hebrews, showing that the epithet means "unchangeable:" If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself. Therefore reasonably the Apostle, discoursing concerning the bodily presence of the Word, says, an Apostle and faithful to Him that made Him, showing us that, even when made man, Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today, and for ever is unchangeable. And as the Apostle makes mention in his Epistle of His being made man, when mentioning His High Priesthood, so too he kept no long silence about His Godhead, but rather mentions it forthwith, furnishing to us a safeguard on every side, and most of all when He speaks of His humiliation, that we may forthwith know His loftiness and His majesty which is the Father's. For instance, he says, Moses as a servant, but Christ as a Son; and the former faithful in his house, and the latter over the house, as having Himself built it, and being its Lord and Framer, and as God sanctifying it. For Moses, a man by nature, became faithful, as believing God who spoke to him by {263 | ED. BEN. ii. 10-11.} His Word; but the Word was not as one of things which are made out of nothing in a bodily form, nor as creature in creature, but as God in flesh, and Framer and Builder of all in that which was built by Him. And men are clothed in flesh in order to be and to subsist; but the Word of God became man in order to sanctify the flesh, and, though He was Lord, was in the form of a servant; for the whole creation is the Word's servant, which by Him came to be and was made.

115. Hence it holds that the Apostle's expression, He made, does not prove that the Word is made, but that body, which He took like ours; and in consequence He is called our brother, as having become man. But since it has been shown that even though the term made be referred to the Very Word, it is used for "begat," what further perverse expedient will they be able to fall upon, now that the present discussion has cleared up the term in every point of view, and shown that the Son is not a work, but in His Substance indeed the Father's Offspring, while in the Economy, according to the good pleasure of the Father, He was on our behalf made, and consists as man? For this reason then we read in the Apostle, Who was faithful to Him that made Him; and in the Proverbs, even His creation is spoken of. For so long as we are confessing that He became man, there is no question, as was observed before, whether we shall say "He became," or "He has been made," or "created," or "formed," or was "servant," or "son of a handmaid," or "son of man," or "was constituted," or "took a far journey," or "was bridegroom," or "brother's son," or "brother." All these terms happen to be proper to man's nature; and such as these do not designate the Substance of the Word, but that He has become man. {264}

Chapter 16.

Answer to objections from Scripture; Fifthly, Acts ii. 36

116. THE same too is the meaning of the passage in the Acts which they also allege, viz., that in which Peter says, that He hath made both Lord and Christ that same Jesus whom ye have crucified. For here too it is not written, "He made for Himself a Son," or "He made Himself a Word," to countenance them in such notions. If then it has not escaped their memory, that they are speaking concerning the Son of God, let them make search whether it is anywhere written, "God made Himself a Son," or "He created for Himself a Word;" or again, whether it is anywhere written, in plain terms, "The Word is a work of creation;" for this is the point, and then let them proceed to make their case, that here too they may receive their answer. But if they can produce nothing of the kind, and only catch at such stray expressions as He made and He has been made, it is to be feared lest from hearing, In the beginning God made the heaven and the earth, and He made the sun and the moon, and He made the sea, they should come in time to call the Word the heaven, and the Light which took place on the first day, and the earth, and each particular thing that has been made, so as to end in resembling the Stoics, as they are called, the one drawing out their god into all things, the other putting God's Word on a level with each work in particular; which they have well-nigh done already, saying that He is one of His works.

117. But here they must have the same answer as before, and first be told, as before, that the Word is a Son and not a work, and that such terms are not to be understood of His Godhead, but the reason and manner of them investigated. To persons who so inquire the human economy will plainly present itself, which He undertook for our {265 | ED. BEN. ii. 11-12.} sake. For Peter, after saying, He hath made Lord and Christ, straightway added, this Jesus whom ye crucified; which makes it plain to any one, (even, perhaps, to them, provided they attend to the context,) that not the Substance of the Word, but He according to His manhood is said by Peter to have been made. For what was crucified but the body? and how could be signified what was bodily in the Word, except by saying He made?

118. Especially has that word, He made, a meaning in that place consistent with orthodox teaching [Note 5]; in that Peter has not said, as I observed before, "He made Him Word," but He made Him Lord, nor that in general terms, but towards you, and in the midst of you, as much as to say, "He manifested Him." And this very thing has Peter himself, starting from this master doctrine, carefully expressed, when he said to them, Ye men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man manifested of God towards you by miracles, and wonders, and signs, which God did by Him in the midst of you, as ye yourselves know. Consequently the term which he uses in the end, made, this he has explained in the beginning by manifested, for by the signs and wonders which the Lord did, He was manifested to be not merely man, but God in a body and Lord also, that is, the Christ. Such also signifies John in the Gospel, Therefore the more did the Jews persecute Him, because He not only had broken the Sabbath, but said also that God was His own Father, making Himself equal with God. For the Lord did not then fashion Himself to be God, nor indeed is a made God conceivable, but He made Himself God by so manifesting Himself in the works, saying, Though ye believe not Me, believe My works, that ye may know that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. Thus then it is that the Father has made Him Lord and King in the midst of us, and towards us, who were once disobedient; and it is plain that He {266} who is now displayed as Lord and King, does not now begin to be King and Lord, but begins to show His Lordship, and to extend it even over the disobedient. If then they suppose that the Saviour was not Lord and King, even before He became man and endured the Cross, but then began to be Lord, let them know that they are openly reviving the statements of the Samosatene. But if, as we have noted and declared above, He is Lord and King everlasting, seeing that Abraham worships Him as Lord, and Moses says, Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven; and David in the Psalms, The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand; and, Thy Throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy Kingdom, and Thy Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, it is plain that even before He became man, He was King and Lord everlasting, existing as Image and Word of the Father. And the Word being everlasting Lord and King, it is very plain again that Peter did not say that the Substance of the Son was made, but spoke of His lordship as extended over us, which became when He became man, and, redeeming all by the Cross, became Lord of all and King.

119. However, if they continue the argument on the ground of its being written, He made, as unwilling that He made should be taken in the sense of He manifested, either from want of apprehension, or from their Christ-assailing purpose, let them attend to another sound exposition of Peter's words. For he who becomes Lord of others, comes into the possession of beings already in existence; but if the Lord is Framer of all, and everlasting King, and when He became man, then gained possession of us, here too is a way in which Peter's language evidently does not signify that the Substance of the Word is a work, but denotes the subsequent subjection of all things, and the Saviour's Lordship over all which "became." And this coincides with what {267 | ED. BEN. ii. 13-14.} we said before; for as we then introduced the words, Become my God and defence, and the Lord became a refuge for the oppressed, and it stood to reason that these expressions do not show that God has come into being, but that His beneficence becomes such towards each individual; such a sense hath the expression of Peter also. For the Son of God indeed, being Himself the Word, is Lord of all; but we formerly and originally were subject to the slavery of corruption and the curse of the Law, and then by degrees fashioning for ourselves things that were not, we served, as says the blessed Apostle, them which by nature are no Gods, and ignorant of the true God, we preferred things that were not to That which was; but afterwards, as the ancient people in Egypt groaned under their burdens, so, when we too had the Law implanted within us, and according to the unutterable moanings of the spirit made our intercession, O Lord our God, take possession of us, then, as He became for a house of refuge and a God and defence, so also He became our Lord. It was not that He then began to be, but we began to have Him for our Lord. For upon this, God being good and Father of the Lord, in pity, and desiring to be known by all, makes His own Son put on Him a human body and become man, and be called Jesus, that in this body offering Himself for all, He might deliver all from false worship and corruption, and might Himself become of all the Lord and King.

120. His becoming therefore in this way Lord and King, this it is that Peter means by, He hath made Him Lord and hath sent Him as Christ; as much as to say that the Father in making Him man, (for to be made belongs to man,) did not simply make Him man, but has made Him man in order to His being Lord of all men, and to His hallowing all through His own Anointing. For though the Word existing in the form of God took a servant's form, yet the assumption of the flesh did not make a servant of the {268} Word, who was by nature Lord; but rather, not only was it that emancipation of all humanity which takes place by the Word, but that very Word who was by nature Lord, and was then made man, hath by means of a servant's form been made Lord of all and Christ, that is, in order to hallow all by the Spirit. And as the great God, when becoming a God and defence, and saying, I will be a God to them, does not then become God more than He was before, but becomes such, at His pleasure, to those who need Him, so Christ, also being by nature Lord and King everlasting, does not, upon His mission, become Lord more than He was, nor then begin to be Lord and King, but then is made according to the flesh what in substance He had been ever; and, having redeemed all, He becomes thereby a second time Lord of quick and dead. For Him henceforth do all things serve, and this is David's meaning in the Psalm, The Lord said unto My Lord, sit Thou on My right hand until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. For it was fitting that the redemption should take place through none other than Him who is the Lord by nature, lest, though created by the Son, we should name another as our Lord, and fall into the Arian and Greek folly, serving the creature beyond the all-creating God.

121. This, at least according to my nothingness, is the meaning of this passage; moreover, a true and a good meaning have these words of Peter as regards the Jews. For the Jews have wandered from the truth, while expecting the Christ as to come, in not reckoning that He undergoes a passion, saying what they understand not, viz., We know that when the Christ cometh, He abideth for ever, and how sayest Thou that He must be lifted up? Next they suppose Him, not the Word coming in flesh, but a mere man, as were all the kings. The Lord then, admonishing Cleophas and the other, taught them that the Christ must first suffer; and the rest of the Jews that God must sojourn {269 | ED. BEN. ii. 14-16.} among them, saying, If He called them gods to whom the word of God came, and the Scripture cannot be broken, say ye of Him whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said I am the Son of God? Peter then, having learned this from the Saviour, in both points set the Jews right, saying, "O Jews, the divine Scriptures announce that Christ cometh, and you consider Him a mere man as one of David's descendants, whereas what is written of Him shows Him to be not such as you say, but rather announces Him as Lord and God, and immortal, and dispenser of life. For Moses has said, Ye shall see your Life hanging before your eyes [Note 6]. And David in the hundred and ninth Psalm, The Lord said unto My Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand, till I make Thine enemies Thy footstool; and in the fifteenth, Thou shalt not leave My soul in hell, neither shalt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption. Now that these passages have not David for their scope he himself witnesses, avowing that He who was coming was his own Lord. Nay you yourselves know that he is dead, and his relics are with you.

122. "That the Christ then must be such as the Scriptures say, you will all confess yourselves. For those announcements come from God, and in them falsehood cannot {270} be. If then ye can state that such a one has come before, and can prove him God from the signs and wonders which he did, ye have reason for maintaining the contest; but if ye are not able to prove that He has come, but are expecting Him still, recognise the true season of His coming from Daniel, for his words relate to the present time. But if this present season be that which was of old afore-announced, and ye have seen what has taken place among us, be sure that this Jesus, whom ye crucified, this is the expected Christ. For David and all the Prophets are dead, and the sepulchres of all of them are with you, but that Resurrection which has now taken place has shown that the scope of these passages is Jesus. For His crucifixion is denoted by Ye shall see your Life hanging, and the wound in His side by the spear answers to He was led as a sheep to the slaughter, and the resurrection, nay more, the rising of the ancient dead from out their sepulchres, (for these most of you have seen,) this is, Thou shalt not leave My soul in hell, and He swallowed up death in His strength, and again, God will wipe away. For the signs which He actually displayed show that He who was in a body was God, and that He was the Life and Lord of death. For it became the Christ, when giving life to others, Himself not to be detained by death; but this could not have happened, had He, as you suppose, been a mere man. But in truth He is the Son of God, for to death all men are subjected.

123. "Let no one therefore doubt, but let the whole house of Israel know assuredly that this Jesus, whom ye saw in shape a man, doing signs and such works as no one ever yet had done, is Himself the Christ and Lord of all. For though made man, and called Jesus, as was said before, He received no loss by that human passion, but rather, in being made man, He is manifested as Lord of quick and dead. For since, as the Apostle said, in the wisdom of God the {271 | ED. BEN. ii. 16-17.} world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. And so, since we men would not acknowledge God through His Word, nor serve the Word of God our natural Master, it pleased God to show in man His own Lordship, and so to draw all men to Himself. But to do this by a mere man beseemed not; lest, having man for our Lord, we should become worshippers of man. Therefore the Word Himself became flesh, and the Father called His Name Jesus, and so made Him Lord and Christ, as much as to say, 'He made Him to rule and to reign;' that while at the Name of Jesus, whom ye crucified, every knee bows, we may acknowledge as Lord and King both the Son and through Him the Father." This was the true meaning and drift of Peter's speech, and it had its effect upon his hearers. Most of them, on hearing it, came to a better mind [Note 7], although the Arians are where they were.

124. Were it likely to affect them, parallel cases might be mentioned. For instance, Isaac's blessing on his two sons. He said to Jacob, Become thou lord over thy brother; and to Esau, Behold I have made him thy lord. Now though the word made had implied Jacob's substance and coming into being, even then it would not be right in them so much as to imagine the same of the Word of God, for the Son of God is no creature as Jacob was,—a little thought might set their minds right herein. But if they do not understand such words of his substance nor of his coming into being, though Jacob was by nature creature and work, is not their madness worse than the Tempter's, if what in consequence of a parallel phrase they dare not ascribe even to things by nature creatures, this they attach to the Son of God, {272} saying that He is a creature? For Isaac said Become and I have made, signifying neither the coming into being nor the substance of Jacob, (for after thirty years and more from his birth he said this,) but meaning his authority over his brother, which came to pass subsequently.

125. Much more then did Peter say this without intimating that the Substance of the Word was a work; for he knew Him to be God's Son, confessing, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God; but he meant His Kingdom and Lordship which was formed and brought to pass according to grace and relatively to us. For while saying this, he was not silent about the Son of God's everlasting Godhead which is the Father's; moreover, he had said already, that He had poured the Spirit on us; now to give the Spirit with authority is not the act of creature or work, but the Spirit is God's Gift. For the creatures are hallowed by the Holy Spirit; but the Son, in that He is not hallowed by the Spirit, but on the contrary is Himself the Giver of it to all, is therefore no creature, but true Son of the Father. And yet, He who gives the Spirit, the Same is said also to be made; that is, to be made among us Lord by reason of His manhood, while giving the Spirit because He is God's Word. For He ever was and is, as Son, so also Lord and Sovereign King of all, being like in all things to the Father, and having all that is the Father's, as He Himself has said.

Chapter 17.

Answer to objections from Scripture; Sixthly, Introductory to Proverbs viii. 22.

126. NOW in the next place let us consider the passage in the Proverbs, The Lord created Me a beginning of His ways {273 | ED. BEN. ii. 17-18.} for His works [Note 8]; although in showing that the Word is no work, it has been also shown that He is no creature; for it is the same to say creature or work. Wherefore one may marvel at these men, thus inventing for themselves excuses for being impious, and nothing daunted at the refutations which meet them upon every point. For first [Note 9] they set about deceiving the simple by their questions, "Did He who is, make Him that was not, from Him who was not, or Him that was?" and, "Had you a son, before begetting him?" And when this had been proved worthless, next they pitched upon the question, "Is the Ingenerate one or two?" Then, when in this they had been confuted, straightway they formed another, "Has He free-will and an alterable nature?" But being forced to give up this, next they set about saying, Being made so much better than the Angels; and when the Truth exposed this pretence, now again, collecting them all together, they think to recommend their heresy by work and creature. For they mean those very things over again, and are true to their own perverseness, putting into many shapes and turning to and fro the same errors, if so be, to deceive some by their look of richness and variety. Although then abundant proof has been given above of this, yet, since they make all places resound with this passage from the Proverbs, and to many who are ignorant of the faith {274} of Christians, seem to say something telling, it is necessary to examine separately, He created, as well as Who was faithful to Him that made Him; that, as in all other texts, so in this text also, they may be proved to have got no further than a fantasy.

127. And first let us see the answers, which they returned to Alexander of blessed memory, in the outset, while their heresy was in course of formation. They wrote thus: "He is a creature, but not as one of the creatures; a work, but not as one of the works; an offspring, but not as one of the offsprings." [Note 10] Let every one consider the unscrupulous and crafty character of this heresy; for knowing the bitterness of its own malignity, it makes an effort to trick itself out with fair words, and says, what indeed it means, that He is a creature, yet thinks to be able to hide itself by adding, "but not as one of the creatures." However, in thus writing, they rather convict themselves of impiety the more; for if, in your opinion, He is simply a creature, why add the hypocritical exception, "but not as one of the creatures"? And if He is simply a work, how "not as one of the works"? In which we may see the poison of the heresy. For by saying, "offspring, but not as one of the offsprings," they reckon many sons, and one of these they pronounce to be the Lord; so that according to them He is no longer Only-begotten, but one out of many brethren, and is merely called offspring and son.

128. Of what use then is the hypocrisy of saying that He is a creature and then not a creature? for though ye shall say, Not as "one of the creatures," I will prove this sophism of yours to be a poor one. For still ye pronounce {275 | ED. BEN. ii. 19.} Him to be one of the creatures; and whatever a man might say of the other creatures, such ye hold concerning the Son, O truly fools and blind. For is any one of the creatures just what another is, that ye should predicate this of the Son as some prerogative? And all the visible creation was made in six days:—in the first, the light which He called day; and in the second the firmament; and on the third, He gathered together the waters, and bared the dry land, and brought out the various fruits that are in it; and on the fourth, He made the sun and the moon and all the host of the stars; and on the fifth He created the race of living things in the sea, and of birds in the air; and on the sixth, He made the quadrupeds on the earth, and at length man. And the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made; and neither the light is as the night, nor the sun as the moon; nor the irrational works as rational man; nor the Angels as the Thrones, nor the Thrones as the Powers, yet they are all creatures, but each of those things made exists and continues according to its kind and in its own substance, as it was made.

129. He is either Creator or creature, take your choice, and, if you will not acknowledge Him as Creator, drop down to the extravagance of placing Him on the level of creatures; I repeat, put aside a distinction which will not hold. Let the Word be excepted from the number of the works, and as Creator be restored to the Father, and be confessed to be Son by nature; or if He be simply a creature, then let Him be assigned that same condition as the rest have one with another, and let them as well as Him be said every one of them to be "a creature, but not as one of the creatures," "offspring or work, but not as one of the works or offsprings,"—for ye say that an offspring is the same as a {276} work, writing, "generated or made." [Note 11] But again, you allow that He is "not like one of the creatures." I think so indeed! Star certainly differs from star in glory, and the rest have each of them their mutual differences, when compared together; but what creature is distinguished from others as He is by being their Lord, and having them for His servants, and being an efficient cause of the rest, and bringing them into being instead of being Himself caused? No; all, by the force of their very nature, confess their Framer; as David, when he says in the Psalm, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy work; and as Zorobabel the wise, All the earth called upon the Truth, and the heaven blesseth it: all works shake and tremble at it. And again, who is "the Truth," thus spoken of by Zorobabel, but the Son? for He says, I am the Truth? and who is the Framer of the universe but the Word, whose voice hath gone forth into all lands? And do you mean to say that He who tells us, I was by the Father disposing, and who says, My Father worketh hitherto and I work, marking by the word hitherto His eternal existence in the Father as the Word, who is proper to the Father, who works what the Father works, that He is after all a creature, only not like the other creatures, or that He is in any sense a creature? Nor yet have we got to the bottom of this extravagance. If on the one hand what the {277 | ED. BEN. ii. 20-21.} Father worketh, the Son worketh also, and what the Son creates that is what the Father creates, yet on the other hand the Son is the Father's work or creature, it follows that the Son created Himself, which is absurd and impossible. And once again; if He be a creative cause, and yet a creature, why may not other creatures be creators too? If a creator may be a creature, creatures may be creators, or is it not rather true, that, as soon as we consider Him a creature, we grant that He has no power to create at all?

130. For how, if as you hold, He is come of nothing, is He able to fashion that nothing into being? or if He, a creature, withal frames a creature, the same will be conceivable in the case of every creature, viz., the power to frame others. And if this pleases you, what is the need of the Word, seeing that things inferior in the scale of being can be brought to be by things superior? or at all events, everything that has been brought into being could have heard in the beginning God's words, Become and be made, and so would have been framed. But this is not so written, nor could it be. For of things which are brought into being none is an efficient cause, but all things were made through the Word, who would not have wrought all things, were He Himself in the number of the creatures, for neither would Angels be able to frame, since they too are creatures (though Valentinus, and Marcion, and Basilides think so, whose copyists you are); nor will the sun, as being a creature, ever make what is not into what is; nor will man fashion man, nor stone devise stone, nor wood give growth to wood. But God is He who fashions man in the womb, and fixes the mountains, and makes wood grow; whereas man, as being capable of science, puts together and shapes that material, and works things that are as he has learned to do; and makes much of it if they are but brought to be, and being conscious of what his nature {278} is, if he needs aught, knows to ask it of God. If then God wrought and compounded, as man does, out of existing materials, we countenance a Gentile thought, according to which God is an artificer and not a Maker; yet even in that case let the Word work the materials, at the bidding and in the service of God. But if He calls into existence things which existed not, and that by His proper Word, then the Word is not in the number of things non-existing and called into being; or we have to seek another Word, through whom He too was called; for certainly by God's Word the things which-were-not came to be.

131. And whereas all things are from nothing, and are creatures, then if the Son, as they say, is one of the creatures too, and of things which once were not, how does He alone reveal the Father, and none else but He know the Father? For if He, a work, could possibly know the Father, then must the Father be also known by all according to the proportion of the measures of each: for all of them are works as He is. But if it be impossible for things which have had a beginning either to see or to know Him, for the sight and the knowledge of Him surpasses all, (since God Himself says, No one shall see My face and live,) yet the Son has declared, No one knoweth the Father save the Son, therefore the Word is different from things that have been created, in that He alone knows and alone sees the Father, as He says, Not that any one hath seen the Father, save He that is from the Father, and No one knoweth the Father save the Son, though Arius think otherwise. How then did He alone know, except that He alone was proper to Him? and how proper, if He were a creature, and not a true Son from Him? (for one must not mind saying often the same thing for religion-sake.) Therefore it is irreligious to think that the Son is only one among all things; and blasphemous and unmeaning {279 | ED. BEN. ii. 22-23.} to call Him "a creature, but not as one of the creatures, and a work, but not as one of the works, an offspring, but not as one of the offsprings;" unmeaning, for why not as one of these, if, as they say, He was not before His generation? for it belongs to the creatures and works not to be before their generation, and to subsist out of nothing, even though these excel those in glory; for that difference of one with another will be found in all creatures, which appears in those which are visible.

132. It may be added that, if the Son were "creature or work, but not as one of the creatures," as the heretics pretend, merely because of His excelling the rest in glory, it were natural that Scripture should describe and display Him by a comparison in His favour with the other works; for instance, that it should say that He is greater than Archangels, and more honourable than the Thrones, and both brighter than sun and moon, and greater than the heavens. But it does not in fact thus describe Him, but the Father manifests Him to be His own proper and only Son, saying, Thou art My Son, and This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Accordingly the Angels ministered unto Him, as being one beside themselves; and they worship Him, not as being greater in glory, but as being some one beyond all the creatures, and beyond themselves, and alone the Father's proper Son according to substance. For if He was worshipped as excelling them in glory, each of things subordinate ought to worship what excels itself. But this is not the case; for creature does not worship creature, but servant worships Lord, and creature God. Thus Peter the Apostle hinders Cornelius who would worship him, saying, I myself also am a man. And an Angel, when John would worship him in the Apocalypse, hinders him, saying, See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the Prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book: worship God. {280} Therefore to God alone appertains worship, and this the very Angels know, that though they excel other beings in glory, yet they are creatures all, and not of those who receive worship, but of those who worship the Lord. Thus Manoe, the Father of Samson, wishing to offer sacrifice to the Angel, was thereupon hindered by him, saying, Offer not to me, but to God.

138. On the other hand, the Lord is worshipped even by the Angels; for it is written, Let all the Angels of God worship Him; and by all the Gentiles, as Esaias says, The labour of Egypt and merchandise of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto Thee, and they shall be Thine; and then, they shall fall down unto Thee, and shall make supplication unto Thee, saying, Surely God is in Thee, and there is none else, there is no God. And He accepts His disciples' worship; and certifies them who He is, saying, Call ye Me not Lord and Master? and ye say well, for so I am. And when Thomas said to Him, My Lord and my God, He allows his words, rather accepting him than hindering him. For He is, as the other Prophets declare, and David says in the Psalm, the Lord of forces, the Lord of Sabaoth, which is interpreted the Lord of Armies, and God true and Almighty, though the Arians burst at the tidings. But He had not been thus worshipped, nor been thus spoken of, were He in the number of creatures. But now, since He is not a creature, but the proper Offspring of the Substance of that God who is worshipped, and His Son by nature, therefore He is worshipped and is believed to be God, and is Lord of armies, and Sovereign, and Almighty, as the Father is; for He has said Himself, All things that the Father hath are Mine. For it belongs to the Son to have the things of the Father, and to be such that the Father is seen in Him, and that through Him all things were made, and that the salvation of all comes to pass and consists in Him.


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1. Here again, as was noted above, Athan. shows how persistently he starts with an ecclesiastical tradition, and the assumption of a dogma.
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2. Vid. Append., Use of Force.
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3. In such passages as this are taught without technical terms the theological truths that our Lord has but one personality, that it is placed in His Divinity not His humanity, that His humanity acts in Him as if an additional attribute, and that there is an interchange of the properties of Godhead with those of manhood in His one Person.
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4. Vid. supr. p. 237.
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5. Vid. Append. [orthos].
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6. Vid. Iren. Hr. iv. 10, 2. Tertull. in Jud. 11. Cyprian, Testim. iii. 2, n. 20. Lactant. Instit. iv. 18. Cyril, Catech. xiii. 19. August. contr. Faust. xvi. 22, which are referred to in loc. Cypr. (O. Tr.) To which add Leon. Serm. 59, 6. Isidor. Hisp. contr. Jud. i. 35, ii. 6. Origen, in Cels. ii. 75. Epiph. Hr. p. 75. Damasc. F. O. iv. 11, fin. This interpretation, I am told, is recommended even by the letter, which has [tlo'im lcha mineged], [apenanti ton ophthalmon sou]. Sept. Pendebit tibi a regione, Gesenius; who also says, "Since things which are regione of a place, are necessarily a little removed from it, it follows that [mineged] signifies at the same time to be at a small distance," referring to the case of Hagar, who was but a bow-shot from her child. Also, though the word here is [tl'], yet [tlh], which is the same root, is used for hanging on a stake, or crucifixion, e.g. Gen. xx. 19. Deut. xxi. 22. Esth. v. 14; vii. 10.
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7. [hoi pleistoi], vid. [posai muriades], Act. xxi. 20. [polus te ochlos ton hiereon], ibid. vi. 7. Vid. Jenkin on the Christian Religion, vol. ii. ch. 32. Lardner, Jewish and Heathen Test. ch. i. Burton, Eccles. Hist. first Cent. p. 50-52.
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8. We have found this text urged against the Catholic doctrine in the third century to support an Arian doctrine, supr. p. 46. Eusebius Nicomed., in his letter to Paulinus, adduces it against Alexander in the very beginning of the controversy, Theod. Hist. i. 5, p. 752. Athan. says, supr. p. 29, that after this it was again put forward by the Arians about A.D. 350. It is presently explained at greater length than any other of the texts he handles, forming the subject of the rest of this Discourse.
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9. From the methodical manner in which the previous portions of this Discourse are here referred to, it would almost seem as if he were answering in course some Arian work. He does not seem to be intending to trace the controversy historically.
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10. Vid. Arius's letter, supr. p. 97. This was the sophism by means of which Valens succeeded with the Fathers of Ariminum, vid. S. Jerome in Luciferian. 18, vid. also in Eusebius, supr. p. 58, and Append. Eusebius.
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11. [gennethenta e poiethenta]; as if they were synonymous; in opposition to which the Nicene Creed says, [gennethenta ou poiethenta]. In like manner Arius in his letter to Eusebius uses the words, [prin gennethei etoi ktisthei, e oristhei, e themeliothei], Theodor. Hist. p. 750. And to Alexander, [achronos gennetheis kai pro aionon ktistheis kai themeliotheis], supr. p. 85. And Eusebius to Paulinus, [ktiston kai themelioton kai genneton]. Theod., p. 752. The different words profess to be Scriptural, and to explain each other; "created" being in Prov. viii. 22, and "made" in the passages considered in the last two chapters, while "appointed" or "declared" is in Rom. i. 4, and "founded" or "established" in Prov. viii. 23.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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