Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.04 Book I Part 3

Online Resource Library

Commentary Index | Return to | Download

Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.04 Book I Part 3

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.04 Book I Part 3

Other Subjects in this Topic:

§13. Résumé of His Dogmatic Teaching. Objections to It in Detail.

But somehow our discourse has swerved considerably from the mark; it has had to turn round and face each of this slanderer's insults. To Eunomius indeed it is no small advantage that the discussion should linger upon such points, and that the indictment of his offences against man should delay our approach to his graver sins. But it is profitless to abuse for hastiness of speech one who is on his trial for murder; (because the proof of the latter is sufficient to get the verdict of death passed, even though hastiness of speech is not proved along with it); just so it seems best to subject to proof his blasphemy only, and to leave his insults alone. When his heinousness on the most important points has been detected, his other delinquencies are proved potentially without going minutely into them. Well then; at the head of all his argumentations stands this blasphemy against the definitions of the Faith-both in his former work and in that which we are now criticizing-and his strenuous effort to destroy and cancel and completely upset all devout conceptions as to the Only-Begotten Son of God and the Holy Spirit. To show, then, how false and inconsistent are his arguments against these doctrines of the truth, I will first quote word for word his whole statement, and then I will begin again and examine each portion separately. "The whole account of our doctrines is summed up thus; there is the Supreme and Absolute Being, and another Being existing by reason of the First, but after Ithyperlink though before all others; and a third Being not ranking with either of these, but inferior to the one, as to its cause, to the other, as to the energy which produced it: there must of course be included in this account the energies that follow each Being, and the names germane to these energies. Again, as each Being is absolutely single, and is in fact and thought one, and its energies are bounded by its works, and its works commensurate with its energies, necessarily, of course, the energies which follow these Beings are relatively greater and less, some being of a higher, some of a lower order; in a word, their difference amounts to that existing between their works: it would in fact not be lawful to say that the same energy produced the angels or stars, and the heavens or man: but a pious mind would conclude that in proportion as some works are superior to and more honourable than others, so does one energy transcend another, because sameness of energy produces sameness of work, and difference of work indicates difference of energy. These things being so, and maintaining an unbroken connexion in their relation to each other, it seems fitting for those who make their investigation according to the order germane to the subject, and who do not insist on mixing and confusing all together, in case of a discussion being raised about Being, to prove what is in course of demonstration, and to settle the points in debate, by the primary energies and those attached to the Beings, and again to explain by the Beings when the energies are in question, yet still to consider the passage from the first to the second the more suitable and in all respects the more efficacious of the two."

Such is his blasphemy systematized! May the Very God, Son of the Very God, by the leading of the Holy Spirit, direct our discussion to the truth! We will repeat his statements one by one. He asserts that the "whole account of his doctrines is summed up in the Supreme and Absolute Being, and in another Being existing by reason of the First, but after It though before all others, and in a third Being not ranking with either of these but inferior to the one as to its cause, to the other as to the energy" The first point, then, of the unfair dealings in this statement to be noticed is that in professing to expound the mystery of the Faith, he corrects as it were the expressions in the Gospel, and will not make use of the words by which our Lord in perfecting our faith conveyed that mystery to us: he suppresses the names of `Father, Son and Holy Ghost,' and speaks of a `Supreme and Absolute Being' instead of the Father, of `another existing through it, but after it' instead of the Son, and of `a third ranking with neither of these two' instead of the Holy Ghost. And yet if those had been the more appropriate names, the Truth Himself would not have been at a loss to discover them, nor those men either, on whom successively devolved the preaching of the mystery, whether they were from the first eye-witnesses and ministers of the Word, or, as successors to these, filled the whole world with the Evangelical doctrines, and again at various periods after this defined in a common assembly the ambiguities raised about the doctrine; whose traditions are constantly preserved in writing in the churches. If those had been the appropriate terms, they would not have mentioned, as they did, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, granting indeed it were pious or safe to remodel at all, with a view to this innovation, the terms of the faith; or else they were all ignorant men and uninstructed in the mysteries, and unacquainted with what he calls the appropriate names-those men who had really neither the knowledge nor the desire to give the preference to their own conceptions over what had been handed down to us by the voice of God.

§14. He Did Wrong, When Mentioning Life Doctrines of Salvation, in Adopting Terms of His Own Choosing Instead of the Traditional Terms Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

The reason for this invention of new words I take to be manifest to every one-namely: that every one, when the words father and son are spoken, at once recognizes the proper and natural relationship to one another which they imply. This relationship is conveyed at once by the appellations themselves. To prevent it being understood of the Father, and the Only-begotten Son, he robs us of this idea of relationship which enters the ear along with the words, and abandoning the inspired terms, expounds the Faith by means of others devised to injure the truth.

One thing, however, that he says is true: that his own teaching, not the Catholic teaching, is summed up so. Indeed any one who reflects can easily see the impiety of his statement. It will not be out of place now to discuss in detail what his intention is in ascribing to the being of the Father alone the highest degree of that which is supreme and proper, while not admitting that the being of the Son and of the Holy Ghost is supreme and proper. For my part I think that it is a prelude to his complete denial of the `being' of the Only-begotten and of the Holy Ghost, and that this system of his is secretly intended to effect the setting aside of all real belief in their personality, while in appearance and in mere words confessing it. A moment's reflection upon his statement will enable any one to perceive that this is so. It does not look like one who thinks that the Only-begotten and the Holy Ghost really exist in a distinct personality to be very particular about the names with which he thinks the greatness of Almighty God should be expressed. To grant the facthyperlink , and then go into minute distinctions about the appropriate phraseshyperlink would be indeed consummate folly: and so in ascribing a being that is in the highest degree supreme and proper only to the Father, he makes us surmise by this silence respecting the other two that (to him) they do not properly exist. How can that to which a proper being is denied be said to really exist? When we deny proper being to it, we must perforce affirm of it all the opposite terms. That which cannot be properly said is improperly said, so that the demonstration of its not being properly said is a proof of its not really subsisting: and it is at this that Eunomius seems to aim in introducing these new names into his teaching. For no one can say that he has strayed from ignorance into some silly fancy of separating, locally, the supreme from that which is below, and assigning to the Father as it were the peak of some hill, while he seats the Son lower down in the hollows. No one is so childish as to conceive of differences in space, when the intellectual and spiritual is under discussion. Local position is a property of the material: but the intellectual and immaterial is confessedly removed from the idea of locality. What, then, is the reason why he says that the Father alone has supreme being? For one can hardly think it is from ignorance that he wanders off into these conceptions, being one who, in the many displays he makes, claims to be wise, even "making himself overwise," as the Holy Scripture forbids us to dohyperlink .

§15. He Does Wrong in Making the Being of the Father Alone Proper and Supreme, Implying by His Omission of the Son and the Spirit that Theirs is Improperly Spoken Of, and is Inferior.

But at all events he will allow that this supremacy of being betokens no excess of power, or of goodness, or of anything of that kind. Every one knows that, not to mention those whose knowledge is supposed to be very profound; viz., that the personality of the Only-begotten and of the Holy Ghost has nothing lacking in the way of perfect goodness, perfect power, and of every quality like that. Good, as long as it is incapable of its opposite, has no bounds to its goodness: its opposite alone can circumscribe it, as we may see by particular examples. Strength is stopped only when weakness seizes it; life is limited by death alone; darkness is the ending of light: in a word, every good is checked by its opposite, and by that alone. If then he supposes that the nature of the Only-begotten and of the Spirit can change for the worse, then he plainly diminishes the conception of their goodness, making them capable of being associated with their opposites. But if the Divine and unalterable nature is incapable of degeneracy, as even our foes allow, we must regard it as absolutely unlimited in its goodness: and the unlimited is the same as the infinite. But to suppose excess and defect in the infinite and unlimited is to the last degree unreasonable: for how can the idea of infinitude remain, if we posited increase and loss in it? We get the idea of excess only by a comparison of limits: where there is no limit, we cannot think of any excess. Perhaps, however, this was not what he was driving at, but he assigns this superiority only by the prerogative of priority in time, and, with this idea only, declares the Father's being to be alone the supreme one. Then he must tell us on what grounds he has measured out more length of life to the Father, while no distinctions of time whatever have been previously conceived of in the personality of the Son.

And yet supposing for a moment, for the sake of argument, that this was so, what superiority does the being which is prior in time have over that which follows, on the score of pure being, that he can say that the one is supreme and proper, and the other is not? For while the lifetime of the elder as compared with the younger is longer, yet his being has neither increase nor decrease on that account. This will be clear by an illustration. What disadvantage, on the score of being, as compared with Abraham, had David who lived fourteen generations after? Was any change, so far as humanity goes, effected in the latter? Was he less a human being, because he was later in time? Who would be so foolish as to assert this? The definition of their being is the same for both: the lapse of time does not change it. No one would assert that the one was more a man for being first in time, and the other less because he sojourned in life later; as if humanity had been exhausted on the first, or as if time had spent its chief power upon the deceased. For it is not in the power of time to define for each one the measures of nature, but nature abides self-contained, preserving herself through succeeding generations: and time has a course of its own, whether surrounding, or flowing by, this nature, which remains firm and motionless within her own limits. Therefore, not even supposing, as our argument did for a moment, that an advantage were allowed on the score of time, can they properly ascribe to the Father alone the highest supremacy of being: but as there is really no difference whatever in the prerogative of time, how could any one possibly entertain such an idea about these existencies which are pre-temporal? Every measure of distance that we could discover is beneath the divine nature: so no ground is left for those who attempt to divide this pre-temporal and incomprehensible being by distinctions of superior and inferior.

We have no hesitation either in asserting that what is dogmatically taught by them is an advocacy of the Jewish doctrine, setting forth, as they do, that the being of the Father alone has subsistence, and insisting that this only has proper existence, and reckoning that of the Son and the Spirit among non-existencies, seeing that what does not properly exist can be said nominally only, and by an abuse of terms, to exist at all. The name of man, for instance, is not given to a portrait representing one, but to so and so who is absolutely such, the original of the picture, and not the picture itself; whereas the picture is in word only a man, and does not possess absolutely the quality ascribed to it, because it is not in its nature that which it is called. In the case before us, too, if being is properly ascribed to the Father, but ceases when we come to the Son and the Spirit, it is nothing short of a plain denial of the message of salvation. Let them leave the church and fall back upon the synagogues of the Jews, proving, as they do, the Son's non-existence in denying to Him proper being. What does not properly exist is the same thing as the non-existent.

Again, he means in all this to be very clever, and has a poor opinion of those who essay to write without logical force. Then let him tell us, contemptible though we are, by what sort of skill he has detected a greater and a less in pure being. What is his method for establishing that one being is more of a being than another being,-taking being in its plainest meaning, for he must not bring forward those various qualities and properties, which are comprehended in the conception of the being, and gather round it, but are not the subject itself? Shade, colour, weight, force or reputation, distinctive manner, disposition, any quality thought of in connection with body or mind, are not to be considered here: we have to inquire only whether the actual subject of all these, which is termed absolutely the being, differs in degree of being from another. We have yet to learn that of two known existencies, which still exist, the one is more, the other less, an existence. Both are equally such, as long as they are in the category of existence, and when all notions of more or less value, more or less force, have been excluded.

If, then, he denies that we can regard the Only-begotten as completely existing,-for to this depth his statement seems to lead,-in withholding from Him a proper existence, let him deny it even in a less degree. If, however, he does grant that the Son subsists in some substantial way-we will not quarrel now about the particular way-why does he take away again that which he has conceded Him to be, and prove Him to exist not properly, which is tantamount, as we have said, to not at all? For as humanity is not possible to that which does not possess the complete connotation of the term `man,' and the whole conception of it is cancelled in the case of one who lacks any of the properties, so in every thing whose complete and proper existence is denied, the partial affirmation of its existence is no proof of its subsisting at all; the demonstration, in fact, of its incomplete being is a demonstration of its effacement in all points. So that if he is well-advised, he will come over to the orthodox belief, and remove from his teaching the idea of less and of incompleteness in the nature of the Son and the Spirit: but if he is determined to blaspheme, and wishes for some inscrutable reason thus to requite his Maker and God and Benefactor, let him at all events part with his conceit of possessing some amount of showy learning, unphilosophically piling, as he does, being over being, one above the other one proper, one not such, for no discoverable reason. We have never heard that any of the infidel philosophers have committed this folly, any more than we have met with it in the inspired writings, or in the common apprehension of mankind.

I think that from what has been said it will be clear what is the aim of these newly-devised names. He drops them as the base of operations or foundation-stone of all this work of mischief to the Faith: once he can get the idea into currency that the one Being alone is supreme and proper in the highest degree, he can then assail the other two, as belonging to the inferior and not regarded as properly Being. He shows this especially in what follows, where he is discussing the belief in the Son and the Holy Spirit, and does not proceed with these names, so as to avoid bringing before us the proper characteristic of their nature by means of those appellations: they are passed over unnoticed by this man who is always telling us that minds of the hearers are to be directed by the use of appropriate names and phrases. Yet what name could be more appropriate than that which has been given by the Very Truth? He sets his views against the Gospel, and names not the Son, but `a Being existing through the First, but after It though before all others.' That this is said to destroy the right faith in the Only-begotten will be made plainer still by his subsequent arguments. Still there is only a moderate amount of mischief in these words: one intending no impiety at all towards Christ might sometimes use them: we will therefore omit at present all discussion about our Lord, and reserve our reply to the more open blasphemies against Him. But on the subject of the Holy Spirit the blasphemy is plain and unconcealed: he says that He is not to be ranked with the Father or the Son, but is subject to both. I will therefore examine as closely as possible this statement.

§16. Examination of the Meaning of `Subjection:' In that He Says that the Nature of the Holy Spirit is Subject to that of the Father and the Son. It is Shewn that the Holy Spirit is of an Equal, Not Inferior, Rank to the Father and the Son.

Let us first, then, ascertain the meaning of this word `subjection' in Scripture. To whom is it applied? The Creator, honouring man in his having been made in His own image, `hath placed' the brute creation `in subjection under his feet;' as great David relating this favour (of God) exclaimed in the Psalmshyperlink : "He put all things," he says, "under his feet," and he mentions by name the creatures so subjected. There is still another meaning of `subjection' in Scripture. Ascribing to God Himself the cause of his success in war, the Psalmist sayshyperlink , "He hath put peoples and nations in subjection under our feet," and "He that putteth peoples in subjection under me." This word is often found tires in Scripture, indicating a victory. As for the future subjection of all men to the Only-begotten, and through Him to the Father, in the passage where the Apostle with a profound wisdom speaks of the Mediator between God and man as subject to the Father, implying by that subjection of the Son who shares humanity the actual subjugation of mankind-we will not discuss it now, for it requires a full and thorough examination. But to take only the plain and unambiguous meaning of the word subjection, how can he declare the being of the Spirit to be subject to that of the Son and the Father? As the Son is subject to the Father, according to the thought of the Apostle? But in this view the Spirit is to be ranked with the Son, not below Him, seeing that both Persons are of this lower rank. This was not his meaning? How then? In the way the brute creation is subject to the rational, as in the Psalm? There is then as great a difference as is implied in the subjection of the brute creation, when compared to man. Perhaps he will reject this explanation as well. Then he will have to come to the only remaining one, that the Spirit, at first in the rebellious ranks, was afterwards forced by a superior Force to bend to a Conqueror.

Let him choose which he likes of these alternatives: whichever it is I do not see how he can avoid the inevitable crime of blasphemy: whether he says the Spirit is subject in the manner of the brute creation, as fish and birds and sheep, to man, or were to fetch Him a captive to a superior power after the manner of a rebel. Or does he mean neither of these ways, but uses the word in a different signification altogether to the scripture meaning? What, then, is that signification? Does he lay down that we must rank Him as inferior and not as equal, because He was given by our Lord to His disciples third in order? By the same reasoning he should make the Father inferior to the Son, since the Scripture often places the name of our Lord first, and the Father Almighty second. "I and My Father," our Lord says. "The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of Godhyperlink ," and other passages innumerable which the diligent student of Scripture testimonies might collect: for instance, "there are differences of gifts, but it is the same Spirit: and there are differences of administration, but it is the same Lord: and there are differences of operations, but it is the same God." According to this, then, let the Almighty Father, who is mentioned third, be made `subject' to the Son and the Spirit. However we have never yet heard of a philosophy such as this, which relegates to the category of the inferior and the dependent that which is mentioned second or third only for some particular reason of sequence: yet that is what our author wants to do, in arguing to show that the order observed in the transmission of the Persons amounts to differences of more and less in dignity and nature. In fact he rules that sequence in point of order is indicative of unlikeness of nature: whence he got this fancy, what necessity compelled him to it, is not clear. Mere numerical rank does not create a different nature: that which we would count in a number remains the same in nature whether we count it or not. Number is a mark only of the mere quantity of things: it does not place second those things only which have an inferior natural value, but it makes the sequence of the numerical objects indicated in accordance with the intention of those who are counting. `Paul and Silvanus and Timotheus' are three persons mentioned according to a particular intention. Does the place of Silvanus, second and after Paul, indicate that he was other than a man? Or is Timothy, because he is third, considered by the writer who so ranks him a different kind of being? Not so. Each is human both before and after this arrangement. Speech, which cannot utter the names of all three at once, mentions each separately according to an order which commends itself, but unites them by the copula, in order that the juncture of the names may show the harmonious action of the three towards one end.

This, however, does not please our new dogmatist. He opposes the arrangement of Scripture. He separates off that equality with the Father and the Son of His proper and natural rank and connexion which our Lord Himself pronounces, and numbers Him with `subjects': he declares Him to be a work of both Personshyperlink , of the Father, as supplying the cause of His constitution, of the Only-begotten, as of the artificer of His subsistence: and defines this as the ground of His `subjection,' without as yet unfolding the meaning of `subjection.'

§17. Discussion as to the Exact Nature of the `Energies' Which, This Man Declares, `Follow' The Being of the Father and of the Son.

Then he says "there must of course be included in this account the energies that accompany each Being, and the names appropriate to these energies." Shrouded in such a mist of vagueness, the meaning of this is far from clear: but one might conjecture it is as follows. By the energies of the Beings, he means those powers which have produced the Son and the Holy Spirit, and by which the First Being made the Second, and the Second the Third: and he means that the names of the results produced have been provided in a manner appropriate to those results. We have already exposed the mischief of these names, and will again, when we return to that part of the question, should additional discussion of it be required.

But it is worth a moment's while now to consider how energies `follow' beings: what these energies are essentially: whether different to the beings which they `follow,' or part of them, and of their inmost nature: and then, if different, how and whence they arise: if the same, how they have got cut off from them, and instead of co-existing `follow' them externally only. This is necessary, for we cannot learn all at once from his words whether some natural necessity compels the `energy,' whatever that may be, to `follow' the being, the way heat and vapour follow fire, and the various exhalations the bodies which produce them. Still I do not think that he would affirm that we should consider the being of God to be something heterogeneous and composite, having the energy inalienably contained in the idea of itself, like an `accident' in some subject-matter: he must mean that the beings, deliberately and voluntarily moved, produce by themselves the desired result. But, if this be so, who would style this free result of intention as one of its external consequences? We have never heard of such an expression used in common parlance in such cases; the energy of the worker of anything is not said to `follow' that worker. We cannot separate one from the other and leave one behind by itself: but, when one mentions the energy, one comprehends in the idea that which is moved with the energy, and when one mentions the worker one implies at once the unmentioned energy.

An illustration will make our meaning clearer. We say a man works in iron, or in wood, or in anything else. This single expression conveys at once the idea of the working and of the artificer, so that if we withdraw the one, the other has no existence. If then they are thus thought of together, i.e. the energy and he who exercises it, how in this case can there be said to "follow" upon the first being the energy which produces the second being, like a sort of go-between to both, and neither coalescing with the nature of the first, nor combining with the second: separated from the first because it is not its very nature, but only the exercise of its nature, and from that which results afterwards because it does not therein reproduce a mere energy, but an active being.

§18. He Has No Reason for Distinguishing a Plurality of Beings in the Trinity. He Offers No Demonstration that It is So.

Let us examine the following as well. He calls one Being the work of another, the second of the first, and the third of the second. On what previous demonstration does this statement rest: what proofs does he make use of, what method, to compel belief in the succeeding Being as a result of the preceding? For even if it were possible to draw an analogy for this from created things, such conjecturing about the transcendent from lower existences would not be altogether sound, though the error in arguing from natural phenomena to the incomprehensible might then be pardonable. But as it is, none would venture to affirm that, while the heavens are the work of God, the sun is that of the heavens, and the moon that of the sun, and the stars that of the moon, and other created things that of the stars: seeing that all are the work of One: for there is one God and Father of all, of Whom are all things. If anything is produced by mutual transmission, such as the race of animals, not even here does one produce another, for nature runs on through each generation. How then, when it is impossible to affirm it of the created world, can he declare of the transcendent existencies that the second is a work of the first, and so on? If, however, he is thinking of animal generation, and fancies that such a process is going on also amongst pure existences, so that the older produces the younger, even so he fails to be consistent: for such productions are of the same type as their progenitors: whereas he assigns to the members of his succession strange and uninherited qualities: and thus displays a superfluity of falsehood, while striving to strike truth with both hands at once, in a clever boxer's fashion. In order to show the inferior rank and diminution in intrinsic value of the Son and Holy Spirit, he declares that "one is produced from another;" in order that those who understand about mutual generation might entertain no idea of family relationship here: he contradicts the law of nature by declaring that "one is produced from another," and at the same time exhibiting the Son as a bastard when compared with His Father's nature.

But one might find fault with him, I think, before coming to all this. If, that is, any one else, previously unaccustomed to discussion and unversed in logical expression, delivered his ideas in this chance fashion, some indulgence might be shown him for not using the recognized methods for establishing his views. But considering that Eunomius has such an abundance of this power, that he can advance by his `irresistible' methodhyperlink of proof even into the supra-natural, how can he be ignorant of the starting-point from which this `irresistible' perception of a hidden truth takes its rise in all these logical excursions. Every one knows that all such arguing must start from plain and well-known truths, to compel belief through itself in still doubtful truths: and that none of these last can be grasped without the guidance of what is obvious leading us towards the unknown. If on the other hand that which is adopted to start with for the illustration of this unknown is at variance with universal belief, it will be a long time before the unknown will receive any illustration from it.

The whole controversy, then, between the Church and the Anomoeans turns on this: Are we to regard the Son and the Holy Spirit as belonging to created or uncreated existence? Our opponent declares that to be the case which all deny: he boldly lays it down, without looking about for any proof, that each being is the work of the preceding being. What method of education, what school of thought can warrant him in this, it is difficult to see. Some axiom that cannot be denied or assailed must be the beginning of every process of proof; so as for the unknown quantity to be demonstrated from what has been assumed, being legitimately deduced by intervening syllogisms. The reasoner, therefore, who makes what ought to be the object of inquiry itself a premiss of his demonstration is only proving the obscure by the obscure, and illusion by illusion. He is making `the blind lead the blind,' for it is a truly blind and unsupported statement to say that the Creator and Maker of all things is a creature made: and to this they link on a conclusion that is also blind: namely, that the Son is alien in nature, unlike in being to the Father, and quite devoid of His essential character. But of this enough. Where his thought is nakedly blasphemous, there we too can defer its refutation. We must now return to consider his words which come next in order.

§19. His Acknowledgment that the Divine Being is `Single' Is Only Verbal.

"Each Being has, in fact and in conception, a nature unmixed, single, and absolutely one as estimated by its dignity; and as the works are bounded by the energies of each operator, and the energies by the works, it is inevitable that the energies which follow each Being are greater in the one case than the other, some being of the first, others of the second rank." The intention that runs through all this, however verbosely expressed, is one and the same; namely, to establish that there is no connexion between the Father and the Son, or between the Son and the Holy Ghost, but that these Beings are sundered from each other, and possess natures foreign and unfamiliar to each other, and differ not only in that, but also in magnitude and in subordination of their dignities, so that we must think of one as greater than the other, and presenting every other sort of difference.

It may seem to many useless to linger over what is so obvious, and to attempt a discussion of that which to them is on the face of it false and abominable and groundless: nevertheless, to avoid even the appearance of having to let these statements pass for want of counter-arguments, we will meet them with all our might. He says, "each being amongst them is unmixed, single, and absolutely one, as estimated by its dignity, both in fact and in conception." Then premising this very doubtful statement as an axiom and valuing his own `ipse dixit' as a sufficient substitute for any proof, he thinks he has made a point. "There are three Beings:" for he implies this when he says, `each being amongst them:' he would not have used these words, if he meant only one. Now if he speaks thus of the mutual difference between the Beings in order to avoid complicity with the heresy of Sabellius, who applied three titles to one subject, we would acquiesce in his statement: nor would any of the Faithful contradict his view, except so far as he seems to be at fault in his names, and his mere form of expression in speaking of `beings' instead of `persons:' for things that are identical on the score of being will not all agree equally in definition on the score of personality. For instance, Peter, James, and John are the same viewed as beings, each was a man: but in the characteristics of their respective personalities, they were not alike. If, then, he were only proving that it is not right to confound the Persons, and to fit all the three names on to one Subject, his `saying' would be, to use the Apostle's words, `faithful, and worthy of all acceptationhyperlink .' But this is not his object: he speaks so, not because he divides the Persons only from each other by their recognized characteristics, but because he makes the actual substantial being of each different from that of the others, or rather from itself: and so he speaks of a plurality of beings with distinctive differences which alienate them from each other. I therefore declare that his view is unfounded, and lacks a principle: it starts from data that are not granted, and then it constructs by mere logic a blasphemy upon them. It attempts no demonstration that could attract towards such a conception of the doctrine: it merely contains the statement of an unproved impiety, as if it were telling us a dream. While the Church teaches that we must not divide our faith amongst a plurality of beings, but must recognize no difference of being in three Subjects or Persons, whereas our opponents posit a variety and unlikeness amongst them as Beings, this writer confidently assumes as already proved what never has been, and never can be, proved by argument: maybe he has not even yet found hearers for his talk: or he might have been informed by one of them who was listening intelligently that every statement which is made at random, and without proof, is `an old woman's tale,' and powerless to prove the question, in itself, unaided by any plea whatever fetched from the Scriptures, or from human reasonings. So much for this.

But let us still scrutinize his words. He declares each of these Beings, whom he has shadowed forth in his exposition, to be single and absolutely one. We believe that the most boorish and simple-minded would not deny that the Divine Nature, blessed and transcendent as it is, was `single.' That which is viewless, formless, and sizeless, cannot be conceived of as multiform and composite. But it will be clear, upon the very slightest reflection, that this view of the supreme Being as `simple,' however finely they may talk of it, is quite inconsistent with the system which they have elaborated. For who does not know that, to be exact, simplicity in the case of the Holy Trinity admits of no degrees. In this case there is no mixture or conflux of qualities to think of; we comprehend a potency without parts and composition; how then, and on what grounds, could any one perceive there any differences of less and more. For he who marks differences there must perforce think of an incidence of certain qualities in the subject. He must in fact have perceived differences in largeness and smallness therein, to have introduced this conception of quantity into the question: or he must posit abundance or diminution in the matter of goodness, strength, wisdom, or of anything else that can with reverence be associated with God: and neither way will he escape the idea of composition. Nothing which possesses wisdom or power or any other good, not as an external gift, but rooted in its nature, can suffer diminution in it; so that if any one says that he detects Beings greater and smaller in the Divine Nature, he is unconsciously establishing a composite and heterogeneous Deity, and thinking of the Subject as one thing, and the quality, to share in which constitutes as good that which was not so before, as another. If he had been thinking of a Being really single and absolutely one, identical with goodness rather than possessing it, he would not be able to count a greater and a less in it at all. It was said, moreover, above that good can be diminished by the presence of evil alone, and that where the nature is incapable of deteriorating, there is no limit conceived of to the goodness: the unlimited, in fact, is not such owing to any relation whatever, but, considered in itself, escapes limitation. It is, indeed, difficult to see how a reflecting mind can conceive one infinite to be greater or less than another infinite. So that if he acknowledges the supreme Being to be `single' and homogenous, let him grant that it is bound up with this universal attribute of simplicity and infinitude. If, on the other hand, he divides and estranges the `Beings' from each other, conceiving that of the Only-begotten as another than the Father's, and that of the Spirit as another than the Only-begotten, with a `more' and `less' in each case, let him be exposed now as granting simplicity in appearance only to the Deity, but in reality proving the composite in Him.

But let us resume the examination of his words in order. "Each Being has in fact and conception a nature unmixed, single, and absolutely one, as estimated by its dignity." Why "as estimated by its dignity?" If he contemplates the Beings in their common dignity, this addition is unnecessary and superfluous, and dwells upon that which is obvious: although a word so out of place might be pardoned, if it was any feeling of reverence which prompted him not to reject it. But here the mischief really is not owing to a mistake about a phrase (that might be easily set right): but it is connected with his evil designs. He says that each of the three beings is `single, as estimated by its dignity,' in order that, on the strength of his previous definitions of the first, second, and third Being, the idea of their simplicity also may be marred. Having affirmed that the being of the Father alone is `Supreme' and `Proper,' and having refused both these titles to that of the Son and of the Spirit, in accordance with this, when he comes to speak of them all as `simple,' he thinks it his duty to associate with them the idea of simplicity in proportion only to their essential worth, so that the Supreme alone is to be conceived of as at the height and perfection of simplicity, while the second, in proportion to its declension from supremacy, receives also a diminished measure of simplicity, and in the case of the third Being also, there is as much variation from the perfect simplicity, as the amount of worth is lessened in the extremes: whence it results that the Father's being is conceived as of pure simplicity, that of the Son as not so flawless in simplicity, but with a mixture of the composite, that of the Holy Spirit as still increasing in the composite, while the amount of simplicity is gradually lessened. Just as imperfect goodness must be owned to share in some measure in the reverse disposition, so imperfect simplicity cannot escape being considered composite.


47 Modestus, the Lord Lieutenant or Count of the East, had sacrificed to the images under Julian, and had been re-baptized as an Arian.

48 there is the Supreme and Absolute Being, and another Being existing through the First, but after It. The language of this exposition of Eunomius is Aristotelian: but the contents nevertheless are nothing more nor less than Gnosticism, as Rupp well points out (Gregors v. Nyssa Leben und Meinungen, p. 132 sq.). Arianism, he says, is nothing but the last attempt of Gnosticism to force the doctrine of emanations into Christian theology, clothing that doctrine on this occasion in a Greek dress. It was still an oriental heresy, not a Greek heresy like Pelagianism in the next century.

Rupp gives two reasons why Arianism may be identified with Gnosticism.

1. Arianism holds the Logoj as the highest being after the Godhead, i.e. as the prwtotokoj thj ktisewj, and as merely the mediator between God and Man: just as it was the peculiar aim of Gnosticism to bridge over the gulf between the Creator and the Created by means of intermediate beings (the emanations).

2. Eunomius and his master adopted that very system of Greek philosophy which had always been the natural ally of Gnosticism: i.e. Aristotle is strong in divisions and differences, weak in `identifications:

0' he had marked with a clearness never attained before the various stages upwards of existencies in the physical world: and this is just what Gnosticism, in its wish to exhibit all things according to their relative distances from the 'Agennhtoj, wanted.

Eunomius has in fact in this formula of his translated all the terms of Scripture straight into those of Aristotle: he has changed the ethical-physical of Christianity into the purely physical; pneuma e.g. becomes ousia: and by thus banishing the spiritual and the moral he has made his 'Agennhtoj as completely `single

0' and incommunicable as the to prwton kinoun akinhton (Arist. Metaph. Xll. 7).

49 i.e. of the equality of Persons.

50 i.e. for the Persons.

51 Eccles. vii. 16.

52 Psalm viii. 6-8.

53 Psalm xlvii. 3 (LXX.).

54 John x. 30; 2 Cor. xiii. 13.

55 he declares Him to be a work of both Persons. With regard to Gregory's own belief as to the procession of tile Holy Spirit, it may be said once for all that there is hardly anything (but see.p. 99, note 5) clear about it to be found in his writings. The question, in fact, remained undecided until the 9th century, the time of the schism of the East and West. But here, as in other points, Origen had approached the nearest to the teaching of the West: for he represents the procession as from Father and Son, just as often as from one Person or the other. Athanasius dues certainly say that the Spirit `unites the creation to the Son, and through the Son to the Father,

0' but with him this expression is not followed up: while in the Roman Church it led to doctrine. For why does the Holy Spirit unite the creation with God continuously and perfectly? Because, to use Bossuet's words, "proceeding from the Father and the Son He is their love and eternal union." Neither Basil, nor Gregory Nazianzen, nor Chrysostom, have anything definite about the procession of the Third Person.

56 kataghptikhj efodou-h kataghymj. These words are taken from the Stoic logic, and refer to the Stoic view of the standard of truth. To the question, How are true perceptions distinguished from false ones, the Stoics answered, that a true perception is one which represents a real object as it really is. To the further question, How may it be known that a perception faithfully represents a reality, they replied by pointing to a relative nor an absolute test-the degree of strength with which certain perceptions force themselves upon our notice. Some of our perceptions are of such a kind that they at once oblige us to bestow on them assent. Such perceptions produce in us that strength of conviction which the Stoics call a conception. Whenever a perception forces itself upon us in this irresistible form, we are no longer dealing with a fiction of the imagination but with something real. The test of irresistibility (kataghyij) was, in the first place, understood to apply to sensations from without, such sensations, according to the Stoic view, alone supplying the material for knowledge. An equal degree of certainty was, however, attached to terms deduced from originally true data, either by the universal and natural exercise of thought, or by scientific processes of proof. It is katagehyeij obtained in this last way that Gregory refers to, and Eunomius was endeavouring to create in the supra-natural world.

57 1 Timothy i. 15.