[V. On St. Cyril's Formula]

file 1


but not in
their full


However, though we could bring together all the instances which Antiquity would furnish on the point, still the fact would stand, first, that these terms did not belong to the Word's humanity in the full sense in which they were used of His Divine nature; secondly, that they, or at least [physis], were not ordinarily applied to it in any sense by Catholic writers up to the time of Cyril.




first, on

That they did not apply to it, especially physis, in that full sense in which it belonged to His divinity, was plain on considering what was said of Him in Scripture. He differed from the race, out of which His manhood was taken, in many most important respects. (1) He had no human father, Matt. i. 20; Luke i. 34, 35. Gregory Nyssen, with a reference to this doctrine, says, "He was not a man wholly ([di' holou]), not a man like others altogether ([koinos]), but He was as a man." Antirrh. 21. (2) He had no human [hegemonikon], or sovereign principle {358}
of action in the soul; for if there were two [kuria] or [hegemonika], there were two beings together in Him, which is a tenet contrary to the whole tenor of the Gospels, and when put forth by some early Gnostics, was condemned, as it would seem, by St. John, 1 Epist. iv. 3. (3) He was sinless; and, though sin is not part of our nature, yet St. Paul does call us by nature children of wrath, [physei], Eph. ii. 3, which would be a reason for being cautious of applying the term to the Word's humanity; and, though it is true that St. Paul elsewhere speaks of the law of conscience being [physei], Rom. ii. 14, 15, yet St. Jude speaks of a base knowledge also being [physikon], v. 10. (4) We may consider in addition how transcendent was His state of knowledge, sanctity, etc. (5) His body was different in fact from ours, as regards corruptibility, as would appear from Acts ii. 31, xiii. 35. (6) It had a life-giving virtue peculiar to itself, Matt. vii. 23; John ix. 6. (7) After the resurrection it had transcendent qualities;—came and vanished; entered a closed room; ascended on high, and appeared to St. Paul on his conversion, while it was in heaven.


next, on
of reason.


But besides this argument from the sacred text, there seemed a necessity from the nature of the case to lay down restrictions so great, on the sense in which the Word took our common nature, as almost to deprive it of that name. The divine and human could not be united without some infringement upon the one or the other. {359} There were those indeed, who, like some early teachers of the Gnostic family, whom I just now spoke of, and the Nestorians at a later date, escaped from the difficulty by denying the union; but, granting two contraries were to meet in one, how could that union be, without affecting, in its own special attributes and state, either the human or the divine? Which side of the alternative was to be followed, is plain without a word; [ouk en somati on emoluneto], says Athanasius, [alla mallon kai to soma hegiazen]. Incarn. V.D. 17. There is a similar passage, Nyssen, Antirrh. 26. [ton gar hemeteron rhupon], etc. Here we are concerned with the alternative itself. Either the Word must be absorbed into the man, or the man taken up into the Word. The consideration of these opposite conclusions will carry us nearly to the end of our discussion; I shall pursue the separate investigation of them under the letters a and b.

The divine
physis must
retain the
fulness of
its attri-

(a) The former of these was the conclusion in which resulted the speculations of the Sabellians and Samosatenes, who explained away the "incarnate Word" into a mere divine attribute, virtue, influence, or emanation, which dwelt in the person of one particular man, receiving its perfect development in him, and therefore imperfect before the union, changed in the act of union, dependent on him after the union. Eusebius (whose language, however, is never quite unexceptionable) may be taken as the spokesman of the Catholic body on this point. "The indwelling Word," he says, "though holding familiar intercourse with mortals, did not fall under the sympathy of their affections; nor, after the manner of {360} a man's soul, was fettered down by the body, or changed for the worse, or came short of His proper divinity." de Laud. C. p. 536. And then he has recourse to an illustration, common with the Fathers, and expressed by Eustathius of Antioch thus:—"If the sun, which we see with our eyes, undergoes so many indignities, yet without disgrace or infliction, do we think that the immaterial Wisdom is defiled or changes His nature, though the temple in which He dwells be nailed to the Cross, or suffers dissolution, or sustains a wound, or admits of corruption? No, the temple is affected, but the stainless usia remains absolutely in its unpolluted dignity," ap. Theod. Eran. iii. p. 237. Vid. also Vigil. Thaps. c. Eutych. ii. 9. p. 727. And Anast. Hodeg. 12, in controversy with Apollinarians, Eutychians, etc., who were involved in the same general charge.

the human
physis must
have a re-

(b) But, on the other hand, if the divinity remains unchanged, change must happen to the humanity; and accordingly, the Fathers are eloquent upon the subject of this change, which from the very nature of the case, and independent of the direct testimony of scripture and tradition, was necessary. To say nothing of the celebrated passages in Nyssen, who has no special connection with the Alexandrian Church, I shall content myself with a passage from Origen: "Si massa aliqua ferri semper in igne sit posita, omnibus suis poris omnibusque venis ignem recipiens, et tota ignis effecta, si neque ignis ab ea cesset aliquando, neque ipsa ab igne separetur, nunquidnam dicimus hanc ... posse frigus aliquando recipere? … Sicut ... totam ignem effectam dicimus, quoniam {361} nec aliud in ea nisi ignis cernitur, sed et si quis contingere atque attrectare tentaverit, non ferri, sed ignis vim sentiat; hoc ergo modo, etiam illa anima, quæ, quasi ferrum in igne, sic semper in Verbo, semper in Sapientia, semper in Deo posita est, omne quod agit, quod sentit, quod intelligit, Deus est," etc. de Princ. ii. 6, n. 6; vid. contr. Cels. iii. 41, p. 474. Hence Isidore, another Alexandrian, says that the Word called Himself bread, because He, as it were, baked His human substance—([ten zumen tou anthropeiou phuramatos]; vid. [phurama] also Hippol. Elench. p. 338)—"in the fire of His own divinity." Epist. i. 360. Passages from Cyril, Damascene, etc., might be quoted to the same effect, e.g. Cyr. Quod unus, p. 776. Damasc. c. Jacob. p. 409. Hence it was usual with Athanasius and other Fathers to call the incarnation a [theosis] or [theopoiesis] of the [anthropinon] (vid. Concil. Antioch, infr. p. 374. Athan. de Decr. 14 fin. de Syn. 51. Orat. i. 42, etc. etc.), from the great change which took place in its state, or rather difference in its state from human nature generally.


How then
is there a
physis at


But, if the humanity assumed was thus extricated from the common usia or physis, to which, under other circumstances, it would have belonged, and, being grafted upon the Word, existed from the very first in a super-natural state, how could it be properly called nature? In the words of Damascene, [he men physis tes sarkos theoutai, ou sarkoi de ten physin tou logou. theoi men to proslemma, ou sarkoutai de]. c. Jacob. 52, p. 409. It is but in accordance {362} with this train of thought to lay down, that there is only one nature in Christ. Here, then, we see the meaning of Cyril's Formula.

Hence the
force of

It means (a), first, that when the Divine Word became man, He remained one and the same in essence, attributes, and personality; in all respects the same as before, and therefore [mia physis].

It means (b), secondly, that the manhood, on the contrary, which He assumed, was not in all respects the same nature as that massa, usia, physis, etc., out of which it was taken, 1, from the very circumstance that it was only an addition or supplement to what He was already, not a being complete in itself; and 2, because in the act of assuming it, He changed it in its qualities.

This added nature, then, was best expressed, not by a second substantive, as if collateral in its position, but by an adjective or participle, as [sesarkomene]. The three words answered to St. John's [ho logos sarx egeneto], i.e. [sesarkomenos en].


Council of


We have an apposite illustration of this account of the Formula in an early passage of history, as contained in the fragmentary documents which remain to us of the Great Council of Antioch, A.D. 264-272 (to which I have already referred), in which Paul of Samosata was condemned, Malchion being the principal disputant against him. Paul denied that the Divine Being was in Christ in essence or personality; I say "in essence or personality," {363} for, as I have explained above, since the Divine Essence cannot be without personality, to deny the one was to deny the other, and the further question, whether that personality was single or trine, did not directly come into controversy. By such a doctrine, both points of Cyril's subsequent formula were sacrificed:—(a) the divine physis in Emmanuel was explained away, and (b) the flesh, being denied its hypostatic union, was no longer [hyperphues], but remained in its strictly natural usia, as any other individual of our race who was in the divine favour. The Synodal Epistle strikes at (a) the former of these errors; and the fragments of Malchion's disputation (b) at the latter.


the un-
ness of the
one divine


(a) Paul said that the Word was not incarnate as an usia, but only as a quality; the Fathers of the Council therefore declare that, on the contrary, He really was an usia and hypostasis (for they use the terms as equivalent) Routh. Rell. t. 2, p. 466; a [zosa energeia enupostatos], p. 469; the Creator of the universe, p. 468; and Son and God before the creation, p. 466; and that He became incarnate [atreptos]. Still further to destroy the notion of a separation into two beings, they call this pre-existing Word Christ, p. 474, and they assert that He is [hen kai to auto tei ousiai], from first to last, on earth and in heaven. In thus speaking, they are evidently entering a protest against another contemporaneous aspect of the same doctrine, into which even Catholics had, as far as language {364} goes, been betrayed. The opinion I have in mind is that of the [prophorikos logos], or that the Word or Son, at first nascent or inchoate, had been perfected by the Incarnation. Not only had Tertullian said, speaking of the "Fiat Lux" at creation, "Hæc est nativitas perfecta sermonis," c. Prax. 7, but Hippolytus even, that the "Word, before His incarnation and [kath' heauton], was not [teleios huios], though [teleios logos on monogenes]." c. Noët. 15. Vid. supr. pp. 272, 280.

with Catholic

Now, all these points, the oneness and identity of the Word considered in usia, His unalterableness in His incarnation, His perfection from eternity, His one sonship, and the impiety of dividing Word and Son, or holding two sons, were traditional matters for Catholic teaching and preaching (against those who imagined some change or other in His nature or state), from the date of this Council, two hundred years before Cyril, down to that of the Council of Chalcedon, after his death, to say nothing of other periods of history. Cyril comes in merely as one instance of the inculcation of this doctrine out of a hundred like his. His peculiarity is his using the term physis of the Word (which, as I have instanced supr. p. 352, was a specially Alexandrian word for usia or hypostasis), and yet not using it for our Lord's humanity.

with Atha-

All this may be illustrated from Athanasius, who, in controversy not only with Apollinarians, but with teachers of the Samosatene school, had to protest against any degradation of the Word's nature, and therefore to maintain His unity, His unchangeableness, and His perfection. "They fall into the same folly as the Arians," he says, {365} "for the Arians say that He was created that He might create; as if God waited till creation, for His probole ([hina probaletai]), as these say" (vid. e.g. Tertullian supr.), "or His creation, as those" (the Arians). He goes on to condemn the notion that [ho logos, en toi theoi ateles gennetheis], is [teleios] (vid. Hippolytus supr.); "He was not anything, that He is not now, nor is He what He was not" (here is the "one and the same" of the Council supr.), "otherwise He will have to be imperfect and alterable." Orat. iv. 11, 12. Again: "The world was made by Him; if the world is one and the creation one, it follows that Son and Word are one and the same before all creation, for by Him it came into being." 19. "As the Father is one," he says, "so also the [monogenes] is one." 20. [Tauton ho huios kai logos]. 29. "Those men degrade the Divine incarnation and think as heathens do, who conceive that it involves an alteration, [trope], of the Word; ... but let a man understand the divine mystery, to be one and simple," 32. Again: "God's Word is one and the same; as God is one, His Image is one, His Word one, and one His Wisdom." Orat. ii. 36. Elsewhere he says, "God's Word is not merely [prophorikos], nor by His Son is meant His command," e.g. Fiat lux, "but He is [teleios ek teleiou]," ibid. ii. 35. Vid. also iii. 52, Epiph. Hær. 76, p. 945, Hilar. Trin. ii. 8. Also Didym. Trin. i. 10, fin. 20, p. 63, 32, p. 99, iii. 6, p. 357. Nyssen, Antirrh. 21 and 56.

and other

So again, [autos atreptos menon kai me alloioumenos en tei anthropinei oikonomiai kai tei ensarkoi parousiai], Athan. Orat. ii. 6. And so again contr. Apoll. ii. 3, 7. And so Pseudo-Athanasius, ap. Phot.: "The Word took flesh {366} to fulfil the economy, and not [eis auxesin ousias]." And so, [Ousia menousa hoper esti], Chryst. in Joan. Hom. xi. 1, Naz. Orat. 29, 19, Procl. ad. Arm. p. 615, Maxim. Opp. t. 2, p. 286. And so, "Manens id quod erat, factus quod non erat," August. Cons. Ev. i. 53. Vid. also Hilar. Trin. iii. 16; Vigil. c. Eut. i. 3, p. 723. And in like manner Leo, "Simplex et incommutabilis natura Deitatis [in Verbo] tota in sua sit semper essentia (usia), nec damnum sui recipiens aut augmentum, assumptam naturam beatificans." Epist. 35, 2. And again, "In se incommutabilis perseverans; deitas enim, quæ illi cum Patre communis est (i.e. [he physis tou theou logou]) nullum detrimentum omnipotentiæ subiit (i.e. [mia estin]); ... quia summa et sempiterna essentia (i.e. [ousia mia])," etc. etc. Leon. Serm. 27, 1.

who there-
fore attri-
bute the
to the ope-
ration of
the Word.

Moreover, I do not think it a refinement to suggest that this was one reason why so many of the Fathers interpret Luke i. 35 of the Word, not of the Spirit. It was their wish to enforce His personal being and omnipotent life before and in the first beginnings of the economy; as is done by Athanasius by saying [logos en toi pneumati eplatte to soma]. Serap. 1, 31, and elsewhere by referring to Prov. ix. 1; e.g. Orat. ii. 44, and so Leo, Epist. 31, 2. Thus Irenæus (after insisting on the real existence of both natures, and saying, "if what had existed in truth, [ouk emeine pneuma] after the incarnation, truth was not in Him") proceeds to say that the "Verbum Patris et Spiritus Dei viventem et perfectum effecit hominem." Hær. v. 1. Hilary too, after laying down "Forma Dei manebat," Trin. ix. 14, adds, "ut manens Spiritus Christus, idem Christus homo esset," with a {367} reference to the passage in St. Luke. Clement, too, says, contrasting the personality of the Christian [logos] with the Platonic, [ho logos heauton gennai], Strom. v. 3. This doctrine of one [huiotes] with a double [gennesis], must not be confounded with the Sabellian tenet of the [huiopator], which related to the Trinity, not the Incarnation. It is with the same purport that the creed in Epiphanius speaks of the Son as "not in man, [eis heauton sarka anaplasanta, eis mian hagian henoteta]." Ancor. fin.


Cyril, too,
by the One


So much on the light thrown upon the [mia physis] (viz. [tou theou logou]), by the language of other Fathers. Cyril, too, in like manner, does but teach that the [physis] of the Word is [mia], one and the same. His "One nature of God" implies, with the Council of Antioch, a protest against that alterableness and imperfection, which the anti-Catholic schools affixed to their notion of the Word. The Council says "one and the same in usia:" it is not speaking of a human usia in Christ, but of the divine. The case is the same in Cyril's Formula; he speaks of a [mia theia physis] in the Word. He has, in like manner, written a treatise entitled "Quod unus sit Christus;" and in one of his Paschal Epistles he enlarges on the text, "Jesus Christ yesterday and today the same and for ever." His great theme in these works is, not the coalescing of the two natures into one, but the error of making two sons, one before and one upon the Incarnation, one divine, one human, or again of degrading the {368} divine usia by making it subject to the humanity. Vid. also his Answers adv. Oriental. et Theod. passim.

the Word's

Thus, for instance, he says to Nestorius: "It is at once ignorant and impious even to imagine that the Word of the Father should be called to a second beginning of being, or to have taken flesh of the Holy Virgin, as some kind of root of his own existence," c. Nest. i. p. 7. Vid. also ibid. p. 5, c.


So to Successus, "There is one Son, one Lord, before the incarnation and after; the Word was not one Son, and the child of the Virgin another; but [autos ekainos ho proaionios], man, not by change of nature, but by economical good pleasure." Ep. 1, pp. 136-7. Vid. c. Nest. iv. fin. [Christon hena kai huion kai kurion apoteteleke ton auton onta theon kai anthropon], ibid. ii. 58. "The nature of the Word remained what it was," ibid. i. p. 15. [Meneneke en anthropoteti theos], ibid. iii. p. 73. "He is one, [kai ou dicha sarkos], who in His own nature is [exo sarkos], ibid. p. 45. [Heis noeitai meta sarkos]," ibid. 55. Vid. also ii. p. 60 A, and ad Succ. Ep. 2, p. 145.


And when he is formally called on to explain his Formula, his language is still more explicit in the same sense. "He remained what He was, [physei theos]; and He remained one Son; but not without flesh," ad Succ. Ep. 2, p. 142. "The [physis] of the Word has not changed into [ten tes sarkos physin], nor the reverse; but each remaining and being recognized [en idioteti tei kata physin] by an ineffable union, He shows to us [mian huiou physin], but that [physin sesarkomenen]," ibid. "Had we," he continues, "stopped without adding [sesarkomene], they might have had some pretence {369} for speaking, but [he en anthropoteti teleiotes] and [he kath' hemas ousia] is conveyed in the word [sesarkomene]," ibid. p. 144, etc.


The same
that the
the huma-


(b) Now we come in the next place to [sesarkomene], and must return to the Council of Antioch and Paul of Samosata, and to Malchion, who was appointed by the Council to dispute with him.

Malchion views Paul's doctrine in its consequences to the humanity assumed. He accuses him of denying [ousiosthai en toi holoi soteri ton huion ton monogene], Routh. Rell. t. 2, p. 476; [ten sophian sungegenesthai toi anthropinoi ousiodos], p. 484; [di' heautes epidedemekenai ousiodos en toi somati], p. 485; [ousian einai ousiomenen en somati], p. 485; [theon sunousiomenon toi anthropoi], p. 486; that is, of denying that the divine usia in its fulness had simply taken possession of, occupied, and permeated an individual of our race, and that all that was in His human nature, totum quantumcumque, was lived in by, and assumed into, the usia of the Word. What had been from eternity an usia only in itself, now manifested itself as [en tei ktisei] or [en tois genetois]; whereas Paul held nothing more than that a human usia had received the Divine Wisdom [kata poioteta], p. 484. In a fragment of Africanus (A.D. 220), we find a statement parallel to Malchion's, the same prominence being given to the Divine Nature in contrast with the economy. [En tei oikonomiai, hos kata ten ousian holen ousiotheis, anthropos legetai], ibid. p. 125; that is, His {370} absolute and whole divinity, not an emanation, or virtue, or attribute, simply filled, energetically appropriated, and sovereignly ruled a human nature as an adjunct; and he refers to Col. ii. 9, in which it is said that in Him, that is, in the human nature, dwells the whole fullness of the Divinity [somatikos], substantially. Vid. the striking passage in Cyril, c. Nest. i. p. 28, a. b. and [pachunetai], Damasc. c. Jacob. p. 409. In these statements, the usia of the Word is put so prominently forward as to imply prima facie that in His economy there is no usia besides it. Compare with them Athanasius's words, in his de Decretis:—"As we, by receiving the Spirit, do not lose our proper usia, so the Lord, when made man for us, and bearing a body, was no less God: for He was not lessened by the envelopment of the body, but rather deified it and rendered it immortal;" 14. If we were to bring out in a formal statement the impression which such a parallel creates, it would be this—that the Word had one usia, divine; and we one usia, human; and that as our proper usia remains one and the same, [mia physis], though it received grace, so the divine usia remained one and the same, though it took upon it humanity, as an adjunct or possession. And, in like manner, Didymus, on Acts ii. 36, after contrasting the usia of the Word with the Word as "conformed to our humiliation," says, "To describe a thing as being in this way or that, is not to declare its usia;" Trin. iii. 6.

and that
the huma-
nity is
taken up
into the

Now there is another way of expressing the same doctrine, viz., to say, not that the Word came as an usia into a created nature, but became an usia to, or the usia {371} of, a created nature. In this mode of statement it is not said that the Word [ousiothe en tei ktisei], but [he ktisis ousiothe] in the Word; but the meaning is the same, for in both cases only one Usia is spoken of, who, besides being what He is in and for Himself, [kath' heauton, eph' heautou], etc., also makes Himself, and serves as, an usia to the created nature which He assumes. Thus (for illustration, but illustration only), fire [ousiothe] in iron, or is in iron, because its real and substantial presence is in every part of the mass, which is simply mastered by it; and iron [ousiothe] in fire, or is in fire, in the sense that it is transformed into a new nature, which depends for what it is solely on the presence of the fire. Accordingly Nazianzen, after saying [theou d' holou meteschen anthropou physis], that is [theos ousiothe en physei anthropou], goes on to speak of human nature as [ousiotheis] (i.e. [en theoi]) [hosper augais helios], de Vit. sua, v. 642, the material body of the sun being flooded with light. Here then, as little as in the former form of speech, are two usias spoken of.

as analo-
gously the
also is esta-
blished in
His usia.

This latter mode of speaking will be illustrated by the parallel use of it by Athanasius in relation to the creation generally, not to the hypostatic union. He says (analogously) that the whole universe depends for its stability upon the Word; that the [physis ton geneton], as having its hypostasis [ex ouk onton] (i.e. from what has no [ousia]), is evanescent, and must be protected against itself. Accordingly, the Creator, [ousiosas ten ktisin] in His Word, does not abandon it [tei heautes physei pheresthai], etc., c. Gent. 41, vid. Didym. Trin. iii. 4, p. 351.

and usia

And this illustration enables us to advance a step {372} further. Even in Nazianzen's verses supr. usia is contrasted with physis as with something inferior to itself; the contrast is brought out more pointedly in the last statement of Athanasius, and it will appear that, if there were reasons for backwardness in calling the Word's humanity an usia, lest it should introduce the notion of a second and independent being, so there were even stronger reasons against calling it a physis.


of physis


Physis is a word of far wider extent of meaning than usia, and may be said to be a predicate of which usia may be made the subject. When applied to the Supreme Being, it means His attributes; as, [idion gnorisma tes theias physeos he philanthropia], Nyssen. Orat. Catech. 15. When applied to the universe, it means phænomena; hence, those who investigate them, as distinct from ontologists, whose subject is usia, are called physicists. When applied to man, it means his moral disposition, etc., as the poet's "Naturam expellas furca," etc., and as we speak of good and ill nature. When applied to the moral (as well as to the material) world, it means the constitution or laws which characterize it; Butler saying, that "the only distinct meaning of the word is stated, fixed, settled," Anal., part i. ch. i. Hence, though in the Catholic doctrine of Holy Eucharist, the substance of the bread ceases to be, the natura, as being what schoolmen have called the accidents, may be said to remain, as in the Epistle to Cæsarius ascribed to Chrysostom, in which we read, {373} "divina sanctificante gratia, mediante Sacerdote, dignus habitus est, [panis] dominici corporis appellatione etiamsi natura panis in ipso permansit."

shows the
of apply-
ing the
to His

But if physis or natura is thus to be taken for the attributes and properties of humanity generally, as contrasted with usia or essence, it became a grave question whether, in applying it to the Word's humanity, there was not the risk of that very degradation of the divine usia, against which the Catholic writers, as we have seen, so strongly protested. If an human usia involved the risk of two beings or personalities, a human physis implied a contamination with human passions and excesses. St. Hilary, while he adopts the word, illustrates the abuse which might be made of it. "Si assumpta caro," he says, "id est, totus homo, passionum est permissa naturis," &c. Trin. x. 24. Tertullian, on the other hand, taking the word in the same general sense, repudiates it, and adopts substantia (usia) instead, making natura equivalent to culpa. He says that the Word, in taking flesh, abolished, "non carnem peccati sed peccatum carnis, non materiam sed naturam, non substantiam sed culpam." de Carn. Christ. 16. Leo corrects this language pointedly, saying, "Assumpta est natura non culpa." Serm. 22, 3. Athanasius, too, as the Greek Fathers and Catholics generally, reserves the word physis for our moral constitution as it came from the Creator, and refers sin to the will of the individual. He says that it is "the impiety of the Manichees to say that the [physis] of the [sarx], and not merely the [praxis], is sin." c. Apoll. i. 12-19; vid. also ii. 6-9, and Vit. Ant. 20. {374}

which is
in a state

But, on the other hand, in matter of fact, the humanity of the Word was not left in its natural state, but as the Council of Antioch had said, [tetheopoietai]; since then it was beyond all doubt in a state above nature or super-natural, why (as I have said above) should it be any longer called a nature? It was that which would have been a nature, had it not been destined to be united from the first to the Word; but in fact it had been taken out of the massa, the [phurama, ton geneton], and been refashioned, as Isidore said, supr., "by fire of the divinity." "The body itself," says Athanasius, "which had a mortal [physin], rose again [hyper physin], on account of the Word which was in it, and lost the corruption which is [kata physin], and became incorruptible, being clad in the Word, which is [hyper anthropon]." ad Epict. 10. That which had a special fulfilment after the resurrection, was analogously true in the incarnation itself.

When then Cyril said [sesarkomene], he meant to express that our Lord's humanity had neither the [hegemonikon] of an usia, nor the imperfections and faults of a physis.


and there-
fore not
a physis,

till Leo
and the
of Chalce-

as proved
from the


No wonder then, these things being considered, that, after we have done our utmost, we shall be unable to discover more than a few instances in the early Fathers, compared with the multitude of opportunities which the subject-matter of their works admits, of dogmatic statements verbally contrary to Cyril's Formula, while, on the other hand, that Formula admits, or even requires by its {375} very wording, an explanation absolutely consistent with the Catholic dogma, as expressed, at least in Alexandria, up to his time. No wonder that, while the whole body of theologians admitted the [ek duo physeon], it remained for a Pope, who saw with a Pope's instinctive sagacity the need of the times, to explain the old truth, in which all of Christendom agreed, under the comparatively new formula of the [en dusi physesi]. To prove a negative, difficult at all times, cannot be expected here; but as I have given specimens of the Catholic use of physis or natura, in application to the humanity of the Word, which, though not near all which could be found, are sufficient to justify the Council of Chalcedon in adopting it into their formal definition of faith; so now, in conclusion, I will, in addition to the general considerations which I have enlarged on in explanation of Cyril's Formula, set down some instances of the absence of the word physis in great theological authorities and others during the first four centuries, in denoting the Word's humanity, where it might naturally have been expected.


who ap-
the term
to the


1. Thus Athanasius, in a remarkable passage, in which his eagerness to avoid ascribing human imperfections to the Word's humanity makes him speak as if he would deny to it a will (which is contrary to his categorical statement elsewhere, de Incarn. et c. Ar. 21), uses physis simply for His divine nature. "He set up anew," he says, "the form of man in Himself, in the spectacle of a flesh which {376} had no fleshly wills or human thoughts, in an image of renovation. For the will is of the [theotes] alone; since the whole [physis] of the Word was there." c. Apoll. ii. 10. And he argues, against the Arian objection from "The Lord created me," etc., in Prov. viii. 22, not simply that it refers to the Word's human usia, but that it does not refer to His usia (as if He had no usia but one), that it refers to something happening [peri ekeinon], something adventitious, an adjunct or circumstance, which is not such as at all to warrant the inference that "what is said to be created is at once in nature and usia a creature." Orat. ii. 45.

and des-
cribe the
as an

2. The force of this last expression [peri ekeinon] will be seen in the de Decr. 22, where he not only denies that the divine usia admits of accidents, but that it has anything "about it" necessary for its perfection; [exothen tina peribolen echein, kai kaluptesthai, e einai tina peri auton]. Such a [peribole] then, or [kalumma], he considers the humanity. Hence, in spite of the Apollinarian perversion of the idea, we find it called a [peribole], Theod. Eran. i. p. 23; [kalumma], Athan. Sabell. Greg. 4; [prokalumma], Theod. ibid. also Gent. vi. p. 877; [katapetasma], Athan. ad Adelph. 5, Cyril. Cat. xii. 26. xiii. 22. Cyril. Alex. Quod unus, p. 761. [propetasma], Athan. Sabell. Greg. 4. [parapetasma], Theod. ibid. p. 22. [stole], ibid. p. 23. Velamen, Leon. Epist. 59, p. 979. Serm. 22, p. 70. 25. p. 84. Vid. also the striking illustration, Athan. Orat. ii. 7, 8.

as an

3. A safer term, which became a term of science, was [proslemma] and the parts of its verb; [ho pros auton lephtheis],  Athan. Orat. iv. 3. [ho proslephtheis anthropos], Nyssen, Antirrh. {377} 35. [to lephthen], Cyril. c. Nest. iii. p. 69. [to proslabon kai to proslephthen], Naz. Orat. xxxvii. 11. [proslabon], Isid. Ep. i. 323. [kata proslepsin], Cyril. ad Succ. Ep. 2, p. 1422. [proslemma] Naz. de Vit. sua, v. 648. Damasc. F. O. iii. 1.

as first-

4. These words denote the humanity in relation to the divine usia; another word, "first-fruits," which is taken from St. Paul, considers it in relation to that universal human physis, from which it was taken; but marks still the same reluctance in theologians to call it distinctly by the latter name. [Aparche ek tes ousias ton anthropon], says Athanasius, de Incarn. et c. Ar. 8. And so Orat. iv. 33. Didym. Trin. iii. 9 fin. Cyril. c. Nest. i. p. 5. Nyssen. Antirrh. 15 fin.

not as ho-

with us,

5. The same reluctant is evidenced by the omission of the phrase [homoousios hemin], in relation to the humanity. This phrase is found in Eustathius and Theophilus ap. Theod. Eran. i. p. 56, ii. p. 154, and in Amphilochius ap. Phot. Cod. 229, p. 789; as is [homophulos] in Procl. ad Arm. pp. 613, 618, and [homogenes] Athan. S. D. 10. But the word [homoousios] itself Athanasius singularly avoids in this last passage, though he has just used it in expounding John xv. 1, etc. And he still more remarkably avoids it in his ad Epict. and contr. Apoll., where it was the natural amendment upon [homoousios tei theoteti], which he is combating; yet he does not use it once, nay, he scarcely once, if ever, uses even [ex ousias Marias], substituting for it simply [ex Marias].

and omit
the ob-
vious con-
trast of
the Two

6. In like manner, in the antithesis between the divine and human natures, which is of constant occurrence in the Fathers, the word physis for the latter is scarcely {378} found, but [anthropotes, sarx, oikonomia], etc. For instance, Athanasius says, "The Word was by nature Son of God, but by economy son of Adam." de Inc. et c. Ar. 8. "He was by nature and usia the Word of God, and, according to the flesh, man." ad Epict. 12. Or, as Basil of Seleucia says, speaking of texts which refer to His mission, "These refer to His economy, not to His usia." Orat. 32, p. 171.

I set down some instances of this contrast:—
  1. [theos en anthropoteti]. Cyril c. Nest. iii. p. 84.
  2. [theos en sarki]. Athan. Orat. ii. 71. ad Epict. 10.
  3. [theos en somati]. Orat. ii. 12. ad Epict. 10. Nyssen Antirrh. 55.
  4. [demiourgos en somati]. Athan. ad Epict. 10.
  5. [huios en somati]. Orat. i. 44.
  6. [logos en somati]. Sent. D. 8.
  7. [kurios en somati]. Orat. i. 43.
  8. [logos en sarki]. ibid. iii. 54.
  9. [kurios] and his [sarx]. Nyssen. Antirrh. 44.
10. [logos] and his [sarx]. Athan. Orat. i. 47. iii. 38.
11. [logos] and his [anthropos]. ibid. iv. 7.
12. [logos] and his [enanthropesis]. Cyril. c. Nest. iv. p. 109.
13. [logos] and his [oikonomia]. Didym. Trin. iii. 21. Cyril. c. Nest. iii. p. 58.
14. [huios] and his [oikonomia]. Athan. Orat. ii. 76.
15. his [ousia] and his [oikonomia]. ibid. ii. 45, iii. 51.
16. his [ousia] and his [diakonia]. ibid. i. 12.
17. his [ousia] and his [epidemia]. Origen. Caten. in Joan. i. p. 45.
18. his [ousia] and his [epiphaneia]. Origen. c. Cels. viii. 12. {379}
19. his [ousia] and his [tapeinotes]. Didym. Trin. iii. 6.
20. his [ousia] and his [doulike morphe]. Nyssen. Antirrhet. 25.
21. his [ousia] and his [anthropinon]. Athan. Orat. iii. 51.
22. his [ousia] and his [anthropos]. Origen. c. Cels. vii. 16.
23. his [hypostasis] and his [anthropos]. Athan. Orat. iv. 35.
24. his [physis] and his [anthropos]. Origen. in Joan. tom. i. 30.
25. his [physis] and his [anthropotes]. Cyril. Schol. 25.
26. his [physis] and his [soma]. Athan. Orat. p. 57.
27. his [physis] and his [sarx]. Athan. Orat. iii. 34. Cyril. c. Nest. v. p. 132.
28. his [theotes] and his [sarx]. Didym. Trin. iii. 8.
29. his [ensarkos epidemia]. Athan. Orat. i. 59.
30. his [ensarkos parousia]. ibid. i. 8, 49, etc. etc. Incarn. 20. Sent. D. 9. Ep. Æg. 4. Serap. i. 3, 9. Cyril. Cat. iii. 11 et alibi. Epiph. Hær. 77, 67, etc. etc.
31. his [somatike parousia]. Athan. Orat. ii. 10.

The term

It may seem to some readers that the word [anthropos], which occurs among these instances, expresses the doctrine of a human nature even more strongly than [physis] could do, and even with some sort of countenance of the Nestorian doctrine of a double personality. But the word is in too frequent use with the Alexandrian and other divines to admit of the suspicion. I will set down one or two specimens of the parallel use of homo among the Latins. "Deus cum homine miscetur; hominem induit." Cyprian. Idol. Van. p. 538. "Assumptus a Dei Filio {380} homo." Hilar. in Ps. 64. 6, "Assumptus homo in Filium Dei." Leon. Serm. 28, p. 101. "Suus," the Word's, "homo." ibid. 22, p. 70. "Hic homo." Leon. Ep. 31, p. 855. "Ille homo, quem Deus suscepit." Augustin. Ep. 24, 3.

Parallel of

The word "assumptus" in some of these passages is the Latin of the [proslephtheis] spoken of above, and reminds us of Hilary's division of the Word's attributes into naturalia and assumpta, from which we might draw an additional illustration, did we choose to pursue it, of the early theological language, and that the more striking, because, as we have seen, that Father has no difficulty of using the word natura, when the occasion calls for it, of the Word's humanity. Vid. the Benedictine Preface in Hilar. Opera.




To recapitulate the conclusions to which we have arrived, concerning the sense of the Formula, [mia physis sesarkomene].


1. [physis] is the Divine Essence, substantial and personal, in the fulness of its attributes—the One God. And, [tou logou] being added, it is that One God, considered in the Person of the Son.

is one

2. It is called [mia] (1) because, even after the Incarnation, it and no other nature is, strictly speaking, [idia], His own, the flesh being "assumpta;" (2) because it, and no other, has been His from the first; and (3) because it has ever been one and the same, in nowise affected as to its perfection by the incarnation.

and incar-

3. It is called [sesarkomene], in order to express the dependence, {381} subordination, and restriction of His humanity, which (1) has neither [hegemonikon] nor personality; (2) has no distinct [huiotes], though it involved a new [gennesis]; (3) is not possessed of the fulness of characteristics which attaches to any other specimen of our race. On which account, while it is recognized as a perfect nature, it may be spoken of as existing after the manner of an attribute rather than of a substantive being, which it really is, as in a parallel way Catholics speak of its presence in the Eucharist, though corporeal, being after the manner of a spirit.


of the


It only remains to add concerning the Formula, that, in spite of the misapprehensions to which it has given rise, and the suspicion with which it has been viewed, it is of recognized authority in the Catholic Church. Whether Athanasius himself used it, is a contested point. Flavian admitted it at the Latrocinium, A.D. 449, in the presence of its partisans, the Eutychians, who condemned and murdered him there. It was indirectly recognized at the fourth General Council at Chalcedon, A.D. 452, in the Council's reception of Flavian's confession, which contained it. It was also received in the fifth General, and in the Lateran of A.D. 649. But, for this point of history, I refer the reader to Petavius de Incarn. iv. 6, who brings together all that has to be said upon it in the course of a few pages.

It is perhaps scarcely necessary to observe, that my {382} reason for not referring in the above inquiry to the works of the Areopagite, to the disputation between Dionysius and Paul of Samosata, to Hippolytus contr. Beron. et Helic. and some other works and fragments, has been a disbelief of their genuineness.

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