[On Councils held at Ariminum and Seleucia]

Chapter 5.


{123} [Note 1] 38. BUT since they are thus minded both towards each other {124} and towards their predecessors, let us ask them at once and ascertain what extravagance they have seen, or what phrases they complain of, that they should thus disobey their fathers, and contend against an Ecumenical Council? They will answer, "The phrases 'Of the substance' and 'Consubstantial' do not please us, for they are a scandal to some and a trouble to many." [Note 2] This is what they have said in writing; and the reply is obvious. If really there was aught in these phrases of a nature to scandalise or trouble, not merely some would be scandalised and many troubled, but all men, we and every one else, would feel the effect of them. But there has been nothing of the kind; on the contrary, I can affirm that these phrases content all men; no common men were the original authors of them; Bishops gathered together from all parts of the world adopted them, and just now above 400 at Ariminum are furnishing an additional testimony to their excellence. Does not this plainly prove against them that not the Nicene Fathers are in fault, but the perverseness of those who misinterpret them? How many there are {125 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} who misunderstand Scripture, and in consequence quarrel with its holy authors!—as the Jews of old, who rejected our Lord, or the Manichees now, who blaspheme the Law,—yet without Scripture being in fault, but its evil-minded critics [Note 3]. If then you can point out what is wrong in these phrases, do so by all means; let us see your proof; but drop the pretence of offence created by them, lest you come into the condition of the Pharisees of old, to whom, on their pretending offence at the Lord's teaching, He answered, Every plant, which My Heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up. By which He showed that, not the words of the Father as planted by Him were really an offence to them, but that they misinterpreted good words and were their own stumbling block. And in like manner they who at that time blamed the Epistles of the Apostle, impeached not Paul, but their own deficient learning and distorted minds.

39. For answer me, what is much to the purpose, Who are they whom you pretend to be scandalised and troubled at these terms? those who are religious towards Christ? not one; they on the contrary make much of these terms and maintain them. But if they are Arians who thus feel, what wonder they should be distressed at words which destroy their heresy? for it is not the terms which are a scandal to them, but the placarding of their impiety which is their trouble. Therefore let us have no more murmuring against the Fathers, nor any pretence of this kind; or you will be making complaints next of the Lord's Cross, that it is to Jews an offence and to Gentiles foolishness, as said the Apostle. But as the Cross is not faulty, for to us who believe it is Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God, though Jews rave, so neither are the terms of the Fathers faulty, but profitable to those who rightly read, and subversive of all impiety, though the Arians so often burst {126} with rage as being by them condemned. The plea of scandal then will not stand: especially since you yourselves have distinctly written, "From the Father is generated the Son?" I ask then of you, when you speak of "the Father," as being "God," do you mean the divine Substance, "Essence," "Being," "Qui est"? or do you view Him apart from, short of, not to say inferior to Him, I mean, to His substance? If the latter, which I do not like to suppose, you should not have pronounced the Son to be from the Father, but from what invests the Father or belongs to him, and then you would have avoided saying that God is in any true sense a Father by making Him composite and material [Note 4], that is, by starting a new blasphemy with a view of a "Son," who is not a substance, but only a name, (for such He will be to you,) and by thus substituting for things which are, imaginations which are not.

40. Nor is this all. If God, when viewed as Father, be not identical with the Divine Being or Substance, then I am led to ask, whether He be such when viewed as Creator? Do you not open the door to Greek atheism, to a creation by chance or by atoms? What is the Divine Substance but that One Being who both generates and creates? Hence in Scripture we read, "God is I am," "God creates," "God is one," "God is a Father," "God is almighty," without discriminating between Father and Creator. Both are predicated of One and the Same; both imply acts of Him, acts of that simple and blessed and incomprehensible Reality or Substance which is He; and, if you have gone only just so far as to confess that the Son is "from God," you have really, with the Nicene {127 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} Fathers, confessed that He is from God's substance. Perhaps you will ask us, "If this be so plain, if it be all the same to speak of the Divine Being or Substance as to speak absolutely of God, why are you not satisfied with 'from God'? why do you insist on 'from the Substance'"? For this reason: because "from God" bears two senses. Thus, when we speak of God as a Creator, we say that all things are "from Him;" and so again, the Son is "from Him," but not as a creation; for as a Creator, God brings all things out of nothing, but, as a Father, He has brought the Son out of Himself, and He gives His whole Being to His Word, or Son, without ceasing to be what He is.

41. The Council, then, comprehending this, and aware of the different senses of the phrase, that none should suppose that the Son was said to be from God as the creation is, wrote with greater explicitness that the Son was "from the substance." [Note 5] For this determines the genuine relation of the Son towards the Father; whereas, in its being said simply "from God," only the will of the Creator concerning the framing of all things is signified. If then these critics meant distinctly "offspring," when they wrote that the Word was "from the Father," they had nothing to complain of in the Council's decision; but if, on the contrary, by "from God," they meant, in the instance of the Word, what it means as used of the creation, then they should not call the Word "Son," or they will be mingling what is blasphemous with what is pious with a manifest inconsistency. For if He is a Son, He is not a creature; but if a creature, then not a Son. Since these are their notions, perhaps they will be denying Holy Baptism, because it is administered into Father and Son; and not into Creator and creature, as they account Him. {128}

42. "But," they say, "this is not written, and we reject these words as unscriptural." But this, again, in their mouths, is an audacious argument. For if they think everything must be rejected which is not written, wherefore, when the Arian party invent such a heap of phrases, not from Scripture, such as "Out of nothing," and "the Son was not before His generation," and "Once He was not," and "He is alterable," and "the Father is ineffable and invisible to the Son," and "the Son knows not even His own Substance," and all that Arius has vomited in his absurd and impious Thalia, why do not they speak against these, but rather battle for them; and on that account are at war with their own Fathers? And, in what place of Scripture did they on their part find "Ingenerate," and the very name of "substance," and "there are three subsistences," and "Christ is not very God," and "He is one of the hundred sheep," and "God's Wisdom is ingenerate and unoriginate, but the created powers are many, of which Christ is one"? Or how, when at the so-called Dedication, the party of Acacius and Eusebius used expressions not in Scripture, and said that "the First-born of the creation" was "the exact Image" of the divine substance, and power, and will of God, how can they complain of the Fathers, for introducing unscriptural expressions, and especially "substance"? For they ought either to complain of themselves, or to find no fault with the Fathers.

43. Now, if certain others made the Council's phrases their excuse, it might perhaps have been set down either to ignorance or to reverence. There is no question, for instance, about George of Cappadocia [Note 6], who was expelled from Alexandria,—a man, without character in years past, nor a Christian in any respect; but only pretending to {129 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} the name to suit the times, and thinking religion is a trade. And therefore reason is there none for complaining of his making mistakes about the faith, considering he knows neither what he says nor whereof he affirms; but, according to the text, as a bird maketh haste to the snare. But when Acacius and Eudoxius, and Patrophilus say this, do not they deserve extreme reprobation? for while they use words which are not in Scripture themselves, and have accepted many times the term "substance" as suitable, especially on the ground of the letter of Eusebius, they now blame their predecessors for using terms of the same kind. Nay, though they say themselves, that the Son is "God from God," and "Living Word," "exact Image of the Father's substance," they accuse the Nicene Bishops of saying, that He who was begotten is "of the substance of Him who begat Him," and "consubstantial" with Him. But what marvel is this conflict with their predecessors and own Fathers, when they are inconsistent with themselves, and fall foul of each other? For after publishing, at the Dedication so-called at Antioch, that the Son is "exact Image" of the Father's substance, and swearing that so they held, and anathematising those who held otherwise, nay, in Isauria, writing down, "We do not decline the authentic faith published at the Dedication at Antioch," where the term "substance" was introduced, still, shortly after, in the same Isauria, as if forgetting all this, they put into writing the very contrary, saying, "We reject the words 'Consubstantial' and 'Like-in-substance,' as alien to the Scriptures, and put away from us 'substance,' as not contained therein."

44. What sort of faith then have they who stand neither to their word nor writing, but alter and change everything according to the season? For if, O Acacius and Eudoxius, you "do not decline the faith published at the Dedication," {130} and in it is written that the Son is "exact [Note 7] Image of substance," why is it ye write in Isauria, "We reject 'the Like-in-substance'"? for if the Son is not like the Father in respect of substance, how is He "exact Image of the substance"? But if you are dissatisfied at having written "exact Image of the substance," how is it that ye "anathematise those who say that the Son is Unlike"? for if He be not according to substance like, He is altogether unlike: and the Unlike cannot be an Image. And if so, then it does not hold that he that hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father, there being then the greatest difference possible between Them, or rather the One being wholly Unlike the Other. And Unlike cannot possibly be called Like [Note 8]. By what artifice then do ye call Unlike like, and consider Like to be unlike, and thus are hypocrites enough to say that the Son is the Father's Image? for if the Son be not like the Father in substance, something is wanting to the Image, and it is not a complete Image, nor a perfect Radiance. How then read ye, In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily? and, from His fulness have all we received? How is it that ye expel the Arian Aetius [Note 9] as a heretic, though ye say the same with him? for thy companion is he, O Acacius, and he became Eudoxius's master to the extreme of such impiety; which was the reason why Leontius the Bishop made him deacon, that using the name of the diaconate as a sheep's clothing, he might be able with impunity to vomit forth the words of blasphemy. What then has persuaded you to contradict each other, and to earn for yourselves so great a disgrace? You cannot give any good account of it; this supposition only {131 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} remains, that all you do is but outward profession and pretence, in order to secure the countenance of Constantius and the gain from thence accruing. And ye make nothing of accusing the Fathers, and ye complain outright of their language as being unscriptural; and, as it is written, have prostituted yourselves to everyone that passed by; so as to change as often as they wish, in whose pay and keep you are.

45. Yet, though a man use terms not in Scripture, this is no serious matter, provided that his meaning is right [Note 10]. But, on the other hand, the heretic, even though he use scriptural terms, yet as being not the less an object of suspicion and unsound within, shall be asked by the Spirit, Why dost thou preach My laws, and takest My covenant in thy mouth? Thus, whereas the devil, though speaking from the Scriptures, was silenced by the Saviour, the blessed Paul, though he speaks even from profane writers, The Cretans are always liars, and, For we are His offspring, and, Evil communications corrupt good manners, yet, having a religious meaning, as being himself holy, he is doctor of the nations, in faith and verity, as having the mind of Christ, and what he speaks comes to us with a religious sound. But what is there to approve in the Arian terms, in which the caterpillar and the locust are put before the Saviour, and He is reviled with "Once Thou wast not," and "Thou wast created," and "Thou art foreign to God in {132} substance," and, in a word, no insult is spared against Him? On the other hand, what good word have the Fathers of the Council omitted? yea, rather have they not a lofty view and a Christ-loving piety? And yet these Acacians have written down, "We reject their words;" at the same time that they endure the insults of the Arians towards the Lord, and make it clear to all men that for no other cause do they resist that Great Council than because it condemned the Arian heresy. For it is on this account again that they misinterpret and are hostile to the term Consubstantial. If their faith was orthodox, and they confessed the Father as truly Father, and believed the Son to be genuine Son, and by nature true Word and Wisdom of the Father, and if, in saying that the Son is from God, they applied those words to Him, not in the sense in which they use them of themselves, but understood Him to be the proper Offspring of the Father's substance, as the radiance is from light, they would not any one of them have found fault with the Nicene Fathers, but would have been confident that the Council wrote suitably; and that this is the orthodox faith concerning our Lord Jesus Christ.

46. "But," say they, "the sense of such expressions is obscure to us;" for this is another of their pretences. "We reject them," say they, "because we cannot master their meaning." But if they were true in this profession, instead of saying, "We reject them," they should ask instruction from those who know; else ought they to reject whatever they cannot understand in divine Scripture, and to find fault with the writers. But this would be the crime of heretics rather than of us Christians; for what we do not understand in the sacred oracles, instead of rejecting, we inquire about from persons to whom the Lord has revealed it, and from them we ask for instruction. However, if they would make this pretence of obscurity avail, let them at least confess what is annexed {133 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} to the Creed, and anathematise those who hold that "the Son is from nothing," and "He was not before His generation;" also that "the Word of God is a creature and work," and "He is alterable by nature," and "from another subsistence;" and in a word let them anathematise the Arian heresy, which has originated such impiety. Nor let them say any more, "We reject the terms," but that "we do not yet understand them;" if they must find some reason for declining them. But well know I, and am sure, and they know it too, that if they could disavow these propositions and anathematise the Arian heresy, they would have no difficulty about those terms of the Council. For on this account it was that the Fathers, after declaring that the Son was begotten from the Father's substance, and consubstantial with Him, thereupon added, "But those who say 'The Son is from nothing,' &c., &c., and so on, we anathematise;" on this account, I mean, in order to show that the statements are parallel to each other, and that the terms in the Creed imply the disclaimers subjoined, and that all who confess the terms, will certainly understand the disclaimers. But those who both dissent from the anathemas and impugn the definition, such men are proved on every side to be foes of Christ.

Chapter 6.

47. THOSE who deny the Council altogether, are sufficiently exposed by these brief remarks; but there are men to whom the above does not quite apply, I mean men who would not shrink from the anathema, though they have difficulties about the definition. To speak frankly then, those who accept everything else that {134} was settled at Nicĉa, and quarrel only about the "Consubstantial," must not be regarded as enemies; nor do we here attack them as Ario-maniacs, nor as opponents of the Synodal Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers, who mean what we mean, and dispute only about the word. For, confessing that the Son is from the substance of the Father, and not from other subsistence, and that He is not a creature nor work, but His genuine and natural offspring, and that He is eternally with the Father, as being His Word and Wisdom, they are not very far from accepting even the phrase "One in substance;" of whom is Basil [Note 11] of Ancyra, in what he has written concerning the faith. For only to say "Like-according-to-substance," does not quite express "Of the substance," by which phrase rather, as they have themselves allowed, the genuine relation of the Son to the Father is signified. Thus tin is only "like" to silver, an elm to a beech, and gilt brass to the true metal; but tin is not "from" silver, nor could an elm be accounted the seedling of a beech [Note 12]. But since they say that He is "Of-the-substance" and "Like-in-substance," what do they signify by these but "One-in-substance"? [Note 13] For, while to say only "Like-in-substance" does not necessarily convey "Of-the-substance," on the contrary, to say "One-in-substance," or "Consubstantial," is to signify the meaning of both terms, "Like-in-substance," and "Of-the-substance." And accordingly they themselves in controversy with those who maintain that the Word is not a {135 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} real Son, but a creature, have [Note 14] before now taken their proofs against them from human illustrations of son and father, with this exception, that God is not as man, nor the generation of the Son as an offspring of man, but as an act which may befittingly be ascribed to God, and which it becomes us to imagine. Thus they have called the Father the Fount of Wisdom and Life, and the Son the Radiance of the Eternal Light, and the Offspring from the Fountain, as He says, I am the Life, and I Wisdom dwell with Prudence. But the Radiance from the Light, and Offspring from the Fountain, and Son from Father, how can these be so suitably expressed as by "Consubstantial"?

48. I say, they themselves have dwelt upon the force of the word "Son" as applied to the Lord, as contained in its earthly sense: and yet these very men are afraid, on account of its earthly sense, of the word "consubstantial." But is there in truth any cause of fear, lest, because the offspring from men are consubstantial, the Son, by being called One-in-substance, should be Himself considered as a human offspring too? perish the thought! not so; but the explanation is easy. For the Son is the Father's Word and Wisdom; whence we are reminded of the impassibility and indivisibility of such a generation from the Father. For not even man's word is part of him, nor proceeds from him according to passion; much less God's Word, whom the Father has also declared to be His own Son, only lest, on the other hand, if we merely heard of the "Word," we should suppose Him, such as is the word {136} of man, non-subsistent; but that, hearing that He is Son, we may acknowledge Him to be a living Word and a substantive Wisdom. Accordingly, as in saying "offspring," we have no human thoughts, and, though we know God to be a Father, we entertain no material ideas concerning Him, but while we listen to these illustrations and terms, we think suitably of God, for He is not as man, so in like manner, when we hear of "Consubstantial," we ought to transcend all sense, and, according to the Proverb, understand by the understanding what is set before us; so as to know that not by mere will, but in truth, is He genuine from the Father, as Life from Fountain, and Radiance from Light. Else, why should we understand "Offspring" and "Son" in a sense not corporeal, while we conceive of "Consubstantial" as after the manner of bodies? especially since these terms are not here used respectively about different subjects, but both of them, "Offspring" and "Consubstantial," about one and the same. And it is but consistent to attach the same sense to both expressions, when they are applied to the Saviour, and not to interpret "Offspring" as it should be, and "Consubstantial" as it should not; nay, if you are minded thus to act, then, in speaking of the Son as Word and Wisdom of the Father, you ought to take an opposite view of these two terms also, and understand in the one sense Word and in the other sense Wisdom. But as this would be extravagant, (for the Son is the Father's Word and Wisdom, and the Offspring from the Father is one and proper to His substance,) so the sense of "offspring" and "consubstantial" is one, and whoso considers the Son an offspring, rightly considers Him also as "consubstantial."

49. This is sufficient to show that the term "consubstantial" is not foreign nor far from the meaning of these much-loved persons. But their difficulty seems to them to have weight for another reason. They allege, (for I have {137 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} not myself the Epistle in question,) that the Bishops who condemned Samosatene [Note 15] at Antioch have laid down in writing that the Son is not consubstantial with the Father; accordingly, from reverence and honour due to those Bishops at Antioch, they have not the best of dispositions towards the Nicene term. I think it well respectfully to offer some remarks on this important point. Certainly it is unbecoming to make the one assembly conflict with the other; for all of them are Fathers of the Church; nor is it religious to settle, that these have spoken well, and those ill; for all of them have gone to sleep in Christ. Nor is it right to be disputatious, and to compare the respective numbers of those who met in the Councils, lest the three hundred at Nicĉa may seem to throw the lesser into the shade; nor on the other hand to compare the dates, lest those who preceded seem to eclipse those that came after. For all, I repeat, are Fathers; and, anyhow, the three hundred laid down as doctrine nothing new, nor was it in any self-confidence that they became champions of words not in Scripture, but they started from their Fathers, as the others did, and they used their Fathers' words. For there were two Bishops of the name of Dionysius, much older than the seventy who deposed Samosatene, of whom one was of Rome, and the other of Alexandria; and a charge had been laid by some persons against the Bishop of Alexandria, before the Bishop of Rome, as if he had said that the Son was made, and not consubstantial with the Father. This had given great pain to the members of the Roman Council; and the Bishop of Rome expressed their united sentiments in a letter to his {138} namesake. This led to the latter's writing an explanation which he calls the Book of Refutation and Apology; and his words run thus:—

The Bishop of Alexandria to the Bishop of Rome

50. "And I have written in another Letter, a refutation of the false charge which they bring against me that I deny that Christ is consubstantial with God. For though I say that I have not found or read this term anywhere in holy Scripture, yet my remarks which follow, and which they have passed over, are not inconsistent with my holding it. For I instanced a human issue, which is evidently homogeneous, and I observed that undeniably fathers differed from their children only in not being identical as individuals; otherwise there could be neither parents nor children. And my Letter, as I said before, owing to present circumstances, I am unable to produce, or I would have sent you the very words I used, or rather a copy of it all; which, if I have an opportunity, I will do still. But I am sure from recollection, that I adduced many parallels of things kindred with each other, for instance, that a plant grown from seed or from root, was other than that from which it sprang, and yet altogether one in nature with it; and that a stream flowing from a fountain, changed its appearance and its name, for that neither the fountain was called stream, nor the stream fountain, yet both existed, and that the fountain was as it were father, and the stream was what was generated from the fountain."

51. Thus the Bishop. If then any one finds fault with the Fathers at Nicĉa, as if they contradicted the decisions of their predecessors, he may reasonably find fault also with the seventy, because they did not keep to the statements of their own predecessors; for such were the two Dionysii and the Bishops assembled on that occasion at Rome. But neither these nor those is it religious to blame; for all were ambassadors of the things of Christ, and all used diligence against the heretics, and while the one party condemned Samosatene, the other condemned the Arian heresy. And rightly did both these and those {139 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} define and suitably to the matter in hand. And as the blessed Apostle, writing to the Romans, said, The Law is spiritual, the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good; yet soon after, What the Law could not do, in that it was weak, and wrote to the Hebrews, The Law made no one perfect; and to the Galatians, By the Law no one is justified; yet to Timothy, The Law is good if a man use it lawfully; and no one would accuse the Saint of inconsistency and variation in writing, but rather would admire how suitably he wrote to each, in order to warn the Romans and the others to turn from the letter to the spirit, but to instruct the Hebrews and Galatians to place their hopes not in the Law, but in the Lord who gave the Law;—so, if the Fathers of the two Councils made different mention of the Consubstantial, we ought not in any respect to differ from them, but to investigate their meaning, and this will fully show us the concordant sentiment of both the Councils. For they who deposed Samosatene took Consubstantial in a bodily sense because Paul had attempted sophistry and said, "Unless Christ has of man become God, it follows that He is consubstantial with the Father; and if so, of necessity there are three substances, one the previous substance, and the other two from it;" and therefore guarding against this they said with good reason, that Christ was not consubstantial [Note 16], for the Son is not related to the Father as Paul imagined. But the Bishops who anathematised the Arian heresy, {140} understanding Paul's craft, and reflecting that the word "Consubstantial" has not this meaning when used of things immaterial, and especially of God, and acknowledging that the Word was not a creature, but an offspring from the substance, and that the Father's substance was the origin, and root, and fountain of the Son, and that He was of very truth His Father's Likeness, and not of different nature, as we are, and separate from the Father, but that as being from Him, He exists as Son indivisible, as Radiance is with respect of Light, and knowing too the illustration used in Dionysius's case, the "fountain," and the defence thereby of the word "Consubstantial," and before this the Saviour's saying, indicative of unity, I and the Father are one, and He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, on these grounds they reasonably asserted on their part, that the Son was consubstantial. And as, according to a former remark, no one would blame the Apostle, if he wrote to the Romans about the Law in one way, and to the Hebrews in another; in like manner, neither would the present Bishops find fault with the former, in regard to their interpretation of the term, nor would the former blame those who came after them, on the score of their opposite interpretation and the call there was thus to speak of the Lord.

52. Yes surely, each Council had a sufficient reason for its own language; for since Samosatene held that the Son was not before Mary, but received from her the origin of His being, therefore the Fathers at Antioch deposed him and pronounced him heretic; but concerning the Son's Godhead, writing in simplicity, they were not perfectly accurate in their treatment of the term Consubstantial, but, as they understood it, so spoke they about it. For they directed all their thoughts to destroy the device of Samosatene, and to show that the Son was before all things, and that, instead of becoming God after having been a {141 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} man, God had put on a servant's form, and the Word had become flesh, as John says. This is how they dealt with the blasphemies of Paul; but when the party of Eusebius and Arius began to teach that, though the Son was before time, yet was He made and one of the creatures, and as to the phrase "from God," they did not believe it in the sense of His being genuine Son from Father, but maintained it as it is said of creatures and a Creator, and as to the oneness of likeness between Son and Father, they did not confess that the Son is like the Father according to substance, or according to nature, but because of His agreement with Him in doctrines and in teaching; nay, when they drew a line and made the Son's substance absolutely foreign from the Father, and degrading Him to the creatures, on this account the Bishops assembled at Nicĉa, with a view to the craft of the parties so holding, and as bringing together the sense from the Scriptures, cleared up the point, by affirming the "Consubstantial;" that both the true genuineness of the Son might thereby be known, and that things which were made might have nothing ascribed to them in common with Him. For the preciseness of this phrase detects their pretence, whenever they would use "from God," and gets rid of all the subtleties with which they seduce the simple. For whereas they contrive to put a sophistical construction on all other words at their will, this phrase only, as detecting their heresy, do they dread, which the Fathers did set down as a bulwark against their impious speculations one and all.

53. And here the parallel case of the term "Ingenerate," as a title of the Supreme Being, supplies us with an illustration in point. This, too, is a word not found in Scripture, but taken from the philosophical schools, and, like "Consubstantial," has various senses. I understand that it is sometimes used for what exists without origin or cause; sometimes for uncreate. Now in the first of {142} these senses a man might rightly say that the Word is not ingenerate, only the Father, plainly because He is a Son; but in the second he might rightly say that He was ingenerate, because He was not a creature. And in consequence holy writers of times past seem to contradict each other by using it in these two senses respectively. For instance, Ignatius, who was appointed Bishop in Antioch after the Apostles, and became a martyr of Christ, writes concerning the Lord thus: "There is one physician, fleshly and spiritual, generate and ingenerate, God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God;"—here he says that the Lord is ingenerate, meaning that He is uncreate; but some teachers who follow Ignatius, write in their turn [Note 17], "One is the Ingenerate, the Father, and one the genuine Son from Him, true Offspring, Word and Wisdom of the Father," implying that the Son is not ingenerate, that is, because, in their sense, to be ingenerate is to be without Father as well as without Creator. If, therefore, we are unfavourably disposed towards these writers, then have we right to quarrel with the Councils; but if, knowing their faith in Christ, we are persuaded that the blessed Ignatius was orthodox in writing that Christ was generate on account of the flesh, (for He was made flesh,) yet ingenerate, because He is not in the number of things made and generated, but Son from Father, and are aware too that the parties who have said that the Ingenerate is One, meaning the Father, had no intention of pronouncing that the Word was generated {143 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} and made, but that the Father has no cause, but rather is Himself Father of Wisdom, and in Wisdom hath made all things that have been brought into being, why do we not combine, in one religious belief all our Fathers, those who deposed Samosatene as well as those who proscribed the Arian heresy, instead of making distinctions between them and refusing to entertain a right opinion of them? I repeat, that these, looking towards the sophistical explanation of Samosatene, wrote, "He is not consubstantial," and those, with an excellent meaning, said that He was. For myself, my respectful feeling towards those good Fathers at Antioch has led me in their behalf thus to write, however briefly; but could I come by the letter which they are alleged to have written, I consider we should find some further grounds for the aforesaid proceeding of those sainted men. For it is right and meet thus to feel, and to maintain a good understanding with our Fathers, if we be not spurious children, but have received our tradition from them, and our lessons of religion at their hands. Such then being, as we believe and maintain, the sense of the Fathers at Antioch, let us proceed, as with them before us, to inquire once again, calmly and with a good intent, whether the Bishops congregated at Nicĉa did not also really exercise an excellent judgment upon it.

54. For consider; it was their duty to protect the cardinal truth that our Lord was really the Son of God, which a deadly heresy had denied. How were they to exclude the evasions to which the Arians had recourse? They proceeded thus: a son, they said, is an offspring, but, in order to be such, he must spring from that of which he is the offspring; nor does he so spring, unless he is from what that original is,—that is, in other words, from its substance, as the derivation of {144} the word "substance" shows [Note 18]. Thus, to be the Son of God, if He is God's offspring or true Son, is to be "of" or "one with" God's substance,—that is, to be "consubstantial" with Him. Such was the conclusion of the Fathers at Nicĉa; they determined that consubstantiality was bound up with the idea of Sonship, that nothing short of this word adequately expressed their doctrine of the Son's relation to the Father, and that it was a denial of any true Sonship to deny the consubstantiality. Such is the force of I and the Father are One, and He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father. What can they mean, but the Son is One with the One God? As to oneness of teaching, oneness of sentiment and affection, or participation of the Divine fulness, both saints and, still more, angels and archangels, have such unity with God. If this were enough, each of them might say, "I and the Father are One." But, if such a thought be monstrous, as it truly is, nothing is left but to conceive Son's and Father's Oneness in the way of substance. He says, All things that the Father hath are Mine, and All Mine are Thine and Thine are Mine. Thus, as being the exact Image of the Father, as some of you confess, He has all divine attributes, (except indeed as being Father,) and is His Father's equal.

55. This is a thought to enlarge upon. There are those, I say, who allow that the Son is the Image of the Father, yet will not allow that He is One with the Father. See how plainly Scripture speaks about that likeness, for it will lead us to an important conclusion. For instance, the name God; for the Word was God;—Almighty, Thus saith He that is, and that was, and that is to come, the Almighty;—the being Light, {145 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} I am, He says, the Light;—the Creative Cause, All things were made by Him, and, Whatsoever I see the Father do I do also;—His Eternity, His eternal power and Godhead, and, In the beginning was the Word, and, He was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world;—His being Lord, for, The Lord rained fire and brimstone from the Lord, and while the Father says, I am the Lord, and, Thus saith the Lord, the Almighty God, of the Son Paul speaks thus, One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things. And to the Father Angels minister, and again too the Son is worshipped by them, And let all the Angels of God worship Him; and He is said to be Lord of the Angels, for, the Angels ministered unto Him, and the Son of Man shall send His Angels. The being honoured as the Father, for that they may honour the Son, He says, as they honour the Father;—being equal to God, He thought it not robbery to be equal with God;the being Truth from the True, and Life from the Living, as being truly from the Fountain of the Father;—the quickening and raising the dead as the Father, for so we read in the Gospel. And of the Father it is written, The Lord thy God is One Lord, and the God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken, and hath called the earth; and of the Son, The Lord God hath shined upon us, and, The God of gods shall be seen in Sion. And again of God, Esaias says, Who is a God like unto thee, taking away iniquities and passing over unrighteousness? and thus the Son said to whom He would, Thy sins be forgiven thee; for instance, when on the Jews murmuring, He manifested that remission by His act, saying to the paralytic, Rise, take up thy bed and go unto thy house. And of God Paul says, To the King eternal; and again of the Son, David in the Psalm, Lift up your heads, O ye gates, and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in. And Daniel heard it said, His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and {146} His Kingdom shall not be destroyed. And in a word, all that you find said of the Father, so much will you find said of the Son, all but His being Father, as has been said.

56. Can then, a man in his senses fancy that this equality in attributes comes from any origin but the Father Himself? Surely it is but a reasonable inference that no substance other than the Father's admits of such attributes, and that all that is the Father's is the Son's, because the Son, as being such, is the very Reflection of the Father, His Image and Figure. How can He have the Father's attributes without having that substance to which those attributes belong? Let us take reverential heed, lest transferring what is proper to the Father to some being unlike Him in substance, we introduce another substance foreign to Him, yet capable of the properties of Him, the first substance, though He Himself silences the thought in His own words, My glory I will not give to another. The Father and Son, therefore, are One in substance, and the term "consubstantiality" is the safeguard and token of this unity. We shall be professing two Gods, unless we hold that, by the divine generation, the substance in the Father is made over to the Son. The Son is equal to the Father, simply because He is one with Him.

57. Here we see the contrast between the "One-in-substance" of Father and Son and the mere participation [Note 19] in the Divine Fulness which, in various measures, is given to His creatures. The Son is the Father's Word and Wisdom, and thereby His illuminating and deifying power,—not alien, but one in substance with Him, for by partaking of Him we partake of the Father to whom He belongs. Wherefore, if He, too, Himself were from participation and not from the Father, His substantial {147 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} Godhead and Image, He could not deify, as needing deification Himself. For, as to one who possesses only from participation, even what he has is not his own, but the giver's, and what he has received is barely the grace sufficient for himself.

58. You tell me of an objection urged by some against the "One-in-substance," to the effect that to speak of one substance implies three, one pre-existing, and then those are not Father and Son, but two brothers. But this is a Greek explication, and what Greeks say have no claim upon us; or rather let me say that these matters are above the human intellect. God gave birth from His own substance to His Son; but He also created all things out of nothing. Is creation comprehensible? We must not measure divine actions by earthly experience. Even what is earthly we do not understand, much less do we understand heavenly. We must beware of giving a corporeal sense to the Divine substance and to its communication to the Son, when we ought to recede from things generate, and, casting away human images, nay, all things sensible, to ascend to the Father, lest, in our ignorance we rob Him of the Son, and rank the Son among His own creatures.

59. If, then, not two substances, nor three, are implied in our holding a Father and a Son; if we maintain that the Father in generating a Son from Himself is simply beyond our intellect, as when He creates out of nothing, there is no fear of our holding, with Marcion or Valentinus, two Gods and two Origins, independent, alien, and unlike each other. But, if we acknowledge that the Father's Godhead is one and sole, and that of Him the Son is the Word and Wisdom, and that thereby the likeness between Them consists, not as the heretics say in the likeness merely of Their teaching, but in truth of substance, as the Light is one and the Radiance one, yet they are not two, {148} how do we not follow the holy Prophets who say, The Word of the Lord came to me, yet still, as recognising the Father who was beheld and revealed in Him were bold to say, "The God of our Fathers hath appeared to me." This being so, if He be the illuminating and creative Power, specially proper to the Father, without whom He neither frames nor is known, why should we decline the phrase expressing it? Why do we not pronounce the Son, Homoüsion, One-in-substance with the Father?

60. When we urge this, we are met by the persons I have in view with the word "Homœusion," or "Like-in-substance," as if preferable to "One-in-substance." But do not they see that the mention of "Like" implies the existence of at least two substances? And, if the two are like, they are equal; and this implies in the case before us two Gods. "Like-in-substance" is then not an advisable word, when we would be exact. Nor is this all; strictly speaking, we cannot use the word "like" of substances, but only of the fashion or the quality of a thing. Thus two men compared together are not of like nature but of the same nature; whereas when we speak of their being like each other, we mean in character, or attributes, or circumstances. On the other hand we should not say that a man is unlike a dog, but other than a dog. And as qualities are participated in more or less by different subjects, likeness is a matter of degree, but there are no degrees of sameness and of identity. Thus whereas God is all perfect, but we imperfect, in consequence St. John says, "When He shall be made manifest, we shall be like Him." It is not enough then, if the Word is God, to say with you that He is "Like-in-substance" to the Father, for that is only to be more or less divine, but He is One-in-substance or Consubstantial. I repeat, in speaking of Like-in-substance, we mean like {149 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} by participation; and this is proper to creatures, for they, by partaking, are made like to God. When He shall appear, we shall be like Him; that is, we shall be like the Son in our degree; not in substance but in sonship, which we shall partake from Him. If then you speak of the Son Himself as being merely by participation, then indeed call Him Like-in-substance; but thus spoken of, He is not "Truth," nor "Light" at all, nor in nature God. But He is, not merely by participation, but in nature and truth, Son, Light, Wisdom, God; and being all this by nature, not by sharing, therefore He is properly called, not Like-in-substance, but One-in-substance. This justifies the Nicene Fathers in having laid down, what it was becoming to express, that the Son, begotten from the Father's substance, is One-in-substance or Consubstantial with Him. And if we have been taught as those Bishops were, let us not fight with shadows, especially as knowing that they who have so defined have made this confession of faith, not to misrepresent the truth, but as vindicating it and piety towards Christ, and further as destroying the blasphemies against Him of the Ario-maniacs. For this must be considered and noted carefully, that, in using Unlike-in-substance, and Other-in-substance, we signify not the true Son, but some one of the creatures, and a supposititious and adopted Son, which pleases the heretics; but when we speak uncontroversially of the One-in-substance, we signify a genuine Son born of the Father; though at this Christ's enemies often burst with rage.

61. What then I have learned myself, and have heard men of judgment say in their discussions, I have written in few words; but ye, remaining on the foundation of the Apostles, and holding fast the traditions of the Fathers, pray that now at length all strife and rivalry may cease, and the futile questions of the heretics may be condemned, {150} and all logomachy; and the guilty and murderous heresy of the Arians may disappear, and the Truth may shine again in the hearts of all, so that all everywhere may say the same thing, and think the same thing; and that no Arian contumelies remaining, there may be said and confessed in every Church, One Lord, one faith, one baptism, in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom to the Father be the glory and the strength, unto ages of ages. Amen.



After I had written my account of the Councils, I had information that that most impious Constantius had sent Letters to the Bishops staying in Ariminum; and I took pains to get copies of them from true brethren, and to send them to you, and also what the Bishops answered; that you may know the impious unscrupulousness of the Emperor, and the Bishops' firm and unswerving hold of the Truth.

Translation of his Letter [Note 20]

"Constantius, conquering and triumphant, Augustus, to all Bishops who are assembled at Ariminum.

"That the divine and adorable Law is our chief care, your Excellencies are not the men to be ignorant; but as yet we have been unable to receive the twenty Bishops sent {151 | ED. BEN. § 33-55.} by your wisdom, and charged with the legation from you, as being pressed by a necessary expedition against the barbarians; and, as you know, it beseems to have the soul clear from every care, when one handles the matters of the Divine Law. Therefore we have ordered the Bishops to await at Adrianople our return, that, when all public affairs are well arranged, then at length we may hear and weigh their suggestions. Let it not then be grievous to your patience to await their return, that, when they come back with our answer to you, you may be able to bring matters to a close which so deeply affect the well-being of the Catholic Church."

This was what the Bishops received at the hands of three messengers.

Copy of the Bishops' Reply

"The Letter of your humanity we have received, most religious Lord Emperor, stating that, on account of stress of public affairs, as yet you have been unable to see our legates, and bidding us to await their return, until your piety shall be advised by them of what we have defined conformably to our ancestors. However, we now profess and aver at once by these presents, that we shall not recede from our purpose, as we also instructed our legates. We claim then that you will with serene countenance command these letters of our mediocrity to be read before you; as well as that you will favourably receive those with which we charge our legates. This, however, in your graciousness you comprehend as well as we, that great grief and sadness at present prevails, from the circumstance that, in these your most happy days, so many Churches are without their Bishops. And next, we request of your humanity, most religious Lord Emperor, that if it {152} please your piety, you would bid us, before the severe winter weather sets in, to return to our Churches, that so we may be able to offer with our people to the Omnipotent God and to our Lord and Saviour Christ, His Only-begotten Son, the full measure of our wonted prayers, in behalf of your imperial sway, as indeed we have ever made them, and as we make them at this present."

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1. The subject of chapters v. and vi. naturally rises out of what has gone before. Athan. has traced out the course of Arianism to what seemed to be its result, the resolution of it into a better element or a worse,—the precipitation of what was really unbelieving in it into its Anomœan form, and the gradual purification of that Semi-arianism which prevailed in the Eastern Sees, vid. supr. p. 91, note 2. The Anomœan creed was hopeless; but with the Semi-arians all that remained was the adjustment of phrases. They had to reconcile their minds to terms which the Church had taken from philosophy and adopted as her own. Accordingly, Athan. goes on to propose such explanations as might clear the way for a reunion of Christendom. What remains of his work then is chiefly devoted to the consideration of the "Consubstantial" or "one-in-substance" (as contrasted with "Like-in-substance") which had confessedly great difficulties in it.
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2. This is only stating what the above Confessions have said again and again. The objections made to it were: 1. that it was not in Scripture; 2. that it had been disowned by the Antiochene Council against Paul of Samosmata; 3. that it was of a material nature, and belonged to the Manichees; 4. that it was of a Sabellian tendency; 5. that it implied that the divine substance was distinct from God.
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3. Vid. infr. Disc. ch. 3, init.
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4. Vid. supr. pp. 40, 41, and App. [peribole]. If God the Supreme Being is not identical with the Divine Essence or Substance, then the idea of Him resolves itself into what modern astronomy would call a nebula.
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5. Supr. pp. 37-41.
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6. Vid. Arian leaders.
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7. Vid. [aparallaktos].
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8. Hence the Anomœans (whose symbol was the Unlike) were directly opposed, not to the orthodox Homoüsians, but to the Homœans and Homœusians, the Acacians and Semi-arians.
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9. Vid. Arian leaders.
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10. Vid. supr. p. 36. And so S. Gregory in a well-known passage: "Why art thou such a slave to the letter, and takest up with Jewish wisdom, and pursuest syllables to the loss of things? For if thou wert to say 'twice five,' or 'twice seven,' and I concluded 'ten' or 'fourteen' from your words, or from 'a reasonable mortal animal' I concluded 'man,' should I seem to you absurd? how so, if I did but give your meaning? for words belong as much to him who demands them as to him who utters." Orat. 31, 24. Vid. also Hil. contr. Constant. 16 August. Ep. 238, n. 4-6. Cyril. Dial. i. p. 301. Petavius refers to other passages, de Trin. iv. 5, § 6.
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11. Vid. Arian leaders.
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12. Vid. Hypoc. Mel. and Hilar. de Syn. § 89. The principle involved is this,—Things that are like, are not the same, and therefore [homoiousion] is not [homoousion]. Vid. Semi-arianism.
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13. Socr. iii. 25, Una substantia religiosè prĉdicabitur, quĉ ex nativitatis proprietate, et ex naturĉ similitudine, ita indiferens sit, ut una dicatur. Hil. de Syn. 67.
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14. Here at last Athan. alludes to the Ancyrene Synodal Letter, vid. Epiph. Hĉr. 37, 5 and 7, about which he has kept a pointed silence above, when tracing the course of the Arian confessions. That is, he treats the Semi-arians as tenderly as S. Hilary, sparing their personal delinquencies, till he can speak kindly of them. The Ancyrene Council of 358 was a protest against the "blasphemia," or second Sirmian Confession, which Hosius signed.
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15. There were three Councils held against Paul of Samosata, of the dates of 264, 269, and an intermediate year. The third is spoken of in the text, which, contrary to the opinion of Pagi, S. Basnage, and Tillemont, Pearson fixes at 265 or 266.
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16. This is in fact the objection which Arius urges against the One-in-substance, supr. p. 85, when he calls it the doctrine of Manichĉus and Hieracas; Vid. Append. Hieracas. The same objection is protested against by St. Basil, contr. Eunom. i. 19, Hilar. de Trin. iv. 4. Yet, while S. Basil agrees with Athan. in his account of the reason of the Council's rejection of the word, St. Hilary on the contrary reports that Paul himself accepted it, i.e., in a Sabellian sense, and therefore the Council rejected it. But vid. Append. Homoüsion.
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17. The writer is not known. The President of Magdalen, Dr. Routh, has pointed out to the Translator the following similar passage in St Clement: [hen men to agenneton, ho pantokrator theos, hen de kai to progennethen di' ou ta panta egeneto, kai choris autou egeneto oude hen]. Strom. vi. 7, p. 769.
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18. [ousia, ousa, homoousios].
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19. Vid. App. [metousia].
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20. These two Letters are in Socr. ii. 37. And the latter in Theod. Hist. ii. 15, in a different version from the Latin.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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