Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.05 Book I Part 4

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.05 Book I Part 4

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.05 Book I Part 4

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§20. He Does Wrong in Assuming, to Account for the Existence of the Only-Begotten, an `Energy' That Produced Christ's Person.

That such is his intention in using these phrases will be clear from what follows, where he more plainly materializes and degrades our conception of the Son and of the Spirit. "As the energies are bounded by the works, and the works commensurate with the energies, it necessarily follows that these energies which accompany these Beings are relatively greater and less, some being of a higher, some of a lower order." Though he has studiously wrapt the mist of his phraseology round the meaning of this, and made it hard for most to find out, yet as following that which we have already examined it will easily be marie clear. "The energies," he says, "are bounded by the works." By `works' he means the Son and the Spirit, by `energies' the efficient powers by which they were produced, which powers, he said a little above, `follow' the Beings. The phrase `bounded by' expresses the balance which exists between the being produced and the producing power, or rather the `energy' of that power, to use his own word implying that the thing produced is not the effect of the whole power of the operator, but only of a particular energy of it, only so much of the whole power being exerted as is calculated to be likely to be equal to effect that result. Then he inverts his statement: "and the works are commensurate with the energies of the operators." The meaning of this will be made clearer by an illustration. Let us think of one of the tools of a shoemaker: i.e., a leather-cutter. When it is moved round upon that from which a certain shape has to be cut, the part so excised is limited by the size of the instrument, and a circle of such a radius will be cut as the instrument possesses of length, and, to put the matter the other way, the span of the instrument will measure and cut out a corresponding circle. That is the idea which our theologian has of the divine person of the Only-begotten. He declares that a certain `energy' which `follows' upon the first Being produced, in the fashion of such a tool, a corresponding work, namely our Lord: this is his way of glorifying the Son of God, Who is even now glorified in the glory of the Father, and shall be revealed in the Day of Judgment. He is a `work commensurate with the producing energy.' But what is this energy which `follows' the Almighty and is to be conceived of prior to the Only-begotten, and which circumscribes His being? A certain essential Power, self-subsisting, which works its will by a spontaneous impulse. It is this, then, that is the real Father of our Lord. And why do we go on talking of the Almighty as the Father, if it was not He, but an energy belonging to the things which follow Him externally that produced the Son: and how can the Son be a son any longer, when something else has given Him existence according to Eunomius, and He creeps like a bastard (may our Lord pardon the expression!) into relationship with the Father, and is to be honoured in name only as a Son? How can Eunomius rank our Lord next after the Almighty at all, when he counts Him third only, with that mediating `energy' placed in the second place? The Holy Spirit also according to this sequence will be found not in the third, but in the fifth place, that `energy' which follows the Only-Begotten, and by which the Holy Spirit came into existence necessarily intervening between them.

Thereby, too, the creation of all things by the Sonhyperlink will be found to have no foundation: another personality, prior to Him, has been invented by our neologian, to which the authorship of the world must be referred, because the Son Himself derives His being according to them from that `energy.' If, however, to avoid such profanities, he makes this `energy' which produced the Son into something unsubstantial, he will have to explain to us how non-being can `follow' being, and how what is not a substance can produce a substance: for, if he did that, we shall find an unreality following God, the non-existent author of all existence, the radically unsubstantial circumscribing a substantial nature, the operative force of creation contained, in the last resort, in the unreal. Such is the result of the teaching of this theologian who affirms of the Lord Artificer of heaven and earth and of all the Creation, the Word of God Who was in the beginning, through Whom are all things, that He owes His existence to such a baseless entity or conception as that unnameable `energy' which he has just invented, and that He is circumscribed by it, as by an enclosing prison of unreality. He who `gazes into the unseen 'cannot see the conclusion to which Iris teaching tends. It is this: if this `energy' of God has no real existence, and if the work that this unreality produces is also circumscribed by it, it is quite clear that we can only think of such a nature in the work, as that which is possessed by this fancied producer of the work: in fact, that which is produced from and is contained by an unreality can itself be conceived of as nothing else but a non-entity. Opposites, in the nature of things, cannot be contained by opposites: such as water by fire, life by death, light by darkness, being by non-being. But with all his excessive cleverness he does not see this: or else he consciously shuts his eyes to the truth.

Some necessity compels him to see a diminution in the Son, and to establish a further advance in this direction in the case of the Holy Ghost. "It necessarily follows," he says, "that these energies which accompany these Beings are relatively greater and less." This compelling necessity in the Divine nature, which assigns a greater and a less, has not been explained to us by Eunomius, nor as yet can we ourselves understand it. Hitherto there has prevailed with those who accept the Gospel in its plain simplicity the belief that there is no necessity above the Godhead to bend the Only-begotten, like a slave, to inferiority. But he quite overlooks this belief, though it was worth some consideration; and he dogmatizes that we must conceive of this inferiority. But this necessity of his does not stop there: it lands him still further in blasphemy: as our examination in detail has already shewn. If, that is, the Son was born, not from the Father, but from some unsubstantial `energy,' He must be thought of as not merely inferior to the Father, and this doctrine must end in pure Judaism. This necessity, when followed out, exhibits the, product of a non-entity as not merely insignificant, but as something which it is a perilous blasphemy even for an accuser to name. For as that which has its birth from an existence necessarily exists, so that which is evolved from the non-existent necessarily does the very contrary. When anything is not self-existent, how can it generate another?

If, then, this energy which `follows' the Deity, and produces the Son, has no existence of its own, no one can be so blind as not to see the conclusion, and that his aim is to deny our Saviour's deity: and if the personality of the Son is thus stolen by their doctrine from the Faith, with nothing left of it but the name, it will be a long time before the Holy Ghost, descended as He will be from a lineage of unrealities, will be believed in again. The energy which `follows' the Deity has no existence of its own: then common sense requires the product of this to be unreal: then a second unsubstantial energy follows this product: then it is declared that the Holy Ghost is formed by this energy: so that their blasphemy is plain enough: it consists in nothing less than in denying that after the Ingenerate God there is any real existence: and their doctrine advances into shadowy and unsubstantial fictions, where there is no foundation of any actual subsistence. In such monstrous conclusions does their teaching strand the argument.

§21. The Blasphemy of These Heretics is Worse Than the Jewish Unbelief.

But let us assume that this is not so: for they allow, forsooth, in theoretic kindness towards humanity, that the Only-begotten and the Holy Spirit have some personal existence: and if, in allowing this, they had granted too the consequent conceptions about them, they would not have been waging battle about the doctrine of the Church, nor cut themselves off from the hope of Christians. But if they have lent an existence to the Son and the Spirit, only to furnish a material on which to erect their blasphemy, perhaps it might have been better for them, though it is a bold thing to say, to abjure the Faith and apostatize to the Jewish religion, rather than to insult the name of Christian by this mock assent. The Jews at all events, though they have persisted hitherto in rejecting the Word, carry their impiety only so far as to deny that Christ has come, but to hope that He will come: we do not hear from them any malignant or destructive conception of the glory of Him Whom they expect. But this school of the new circumcisionhyperlink , or rather of "the concision," while they own that He has come, resemble nevertheless those who insulted our Lord's bodily presence by their wanton unbelief. They wanted to stone our Lord: these men stone Him with their blasphemous titles. They urged His humble and obscure origin, and rejected His divine birth before the ages: these men in the same way deny His grand, sublime, ineffable generation from the Father, and would prove that He owes His existence to a creation, just as the human race, and all that is born, owe theirs. In the eyes of the Jews it was a crime that our Lord should be regarded as Son of the Supreme: these men also are indignant against those who are sincere in making this confession of Him. The Jews thought to honour the Almighty by excluding the Son from equal reverence: these men, by annihilating the glory of the Son, think to bestow more honour on the Father. But it would be difficult to do justice to the number and the nature of the insults which they heap upon the Only-begotten: they invent an `energy' prior to the personality of the Son and say that He is its work and product: a thing which the Jews hitherto have not dared to say. Then they circumscribe His nature shutting Him off within certain limits of the power which made Him: the amount of this productive energy is a sort of measure within which they enclose Him: they have devised it as a sort of cloak to muffle Him up in. We cannot charge the Jews with doing this.

§22. He Has No Right to Assert a Greater and Less in the Divine Being. A Systematic Statement of the Teaching of the Church.

Then they discover in His being a certain shortness in the way of deficiency, though they do not tell us by what method they measure that which is devoid of quantity and size: they are able to find out exactly by how much the size of the Only-begotten falls short of perfection, and therefore has to be classed with the inferior and imperfect: much else they lay down, partly by open assertion, partly by underhand inference: all the time making their confession of the Son and the Spirit a mere exercise-ground for their unbelieving spirit. How, then, can we fail to pity them more even than the condemned Jews, when views never ventured upon by the latter are inferred by the former? He who makes the being of the Son and of the Spirit comparatively less, seems, so far as words go perhaps, to commit but a slight profanity: but if one were to test his view stringently it will be found the height of blasphemy. Let us look into this, then, and let indulgence be shown me, if, for the sake of doctrine, and to place in a clear light the lie which they have demonstrated, I advance into an exposition of our own conception of the truth.

Now the ultimate division of all being is into the Intelligible and the Sensible. The Sensible world is called by the Apostle broadly "that which is seen." For as all body has colour, and the sight apprehends this, he calls this world by the rough and ready name of "that which is seen," leaving out all the other qualities, which are essentially inherent in its framework. The common term, again, for all the intellectual world, is with the Apostle "that which is not seenhyperlink :" by withdrawing all idea of comprehension by the senses he leads the mind on to the immaterial and intellectual. Reason again divides this "which is not seen" into the uncreate and the created, inferentially comprehending it: the uncreate being that which effects the Creation, the created that which owes its origin and its force to the uncreate. In the Sensible world, then, is found everything that we comprehend by our organs of bodily sense, and in which the differences of qualities involve the idea of more and less, such differences consisting in quantity, quality, and the other properties.

But in the Intelligible world,-that part of it, I mean, which is created,-the idea of such differences as are perceived in the Sensible cannot find a place: another method, then, is devised for discovering the degrees of greater and less. The fountain, the origin, the supply of every good is regarded as being in the world that is uncreate, and the whole creation inclines to that, and touches and shares the Highest Existence only by virtue of its part in the First Good: therefore it follows from this participation in the highest blessings varying in degree according to the amount of freedom in the will that each possesses, that the greater and less in this creation is disclosed according to the proportion of this tendency in eachhyperlink . Created intelligible nature stands on the borderline between good and the reverse, so as to be capable of either, and to incline at pleasure to the things of its choice, as we learn from Scripture; so that we can say of it that it is more or less in the heights of excellence only in proportion to its removal from the evil and its approach to the good. Whereashyperlink uncreate intelligible nature is far removed from such distinctions: it does not possess the good by acquisition, or participate only in the goodness of some good which lies above it: in its own essence it is good, and is conceived as such: it is a source of good, it is simple, uniform, incomposite, even by the confession of our adversaries. But it has distinction within itself in keeping with the majesty of its own nature, but not conceived of with regard to quantity, as Eunomius supposes: (indeed the man who introduces the notion of less of good into any of the things believed to be in the Holy Trinity must admit thereby some admixture of the opposite quality in that which fails of the good: and it is blasphemous to imagine this in the case either of the Only-begotten, or of the Holy Spirit): we regard it as consummately perfect and incomprehensibly excellent yet as containing clear distinctions within itself which reside in the peculiarities of each of the Persons: as possessing invariableness by virtue of its common attribute of uncreatedness, but differentiated by the unique character of each Person. This peculiarity contemplated in each sharply and clearly divides one from the other the Father, for instance, is uncreate and ungenerate as well: He was never generated any more than He was created. While this uncreatedness is common to Him and the Son, and the Spirit, He is ungenerate as well as the Father. This is peculiar and uncommunicable, being not seen in the other Persons. The Son in His uncreatedness touches the Father and the Spirit, but as the Son and the Only-begotten He has a character which is not that of the Almighty or of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit by the uncreatedness of His nature has contact with the Son and Father, but is distinguished from them by His own tokens. His most peculiar characteristic is that He is neither of those things which we contemplate in the Father and the Son respectively. He is simply, neither as ungeneratehyperlink , nor as only-begotten: this it is that constitutes His chief peculiarity. Joined to the Father by His uncreatedness, He is disjoined from Him again by not being `Father.' United to the Son by the bond of uncreatedness, and of deriving His existence from the Supreme, He is parted again from Him by the characteristic of not being the Only-begotten of the Father, and of having been manifested by means of the Son Himself. Again, as the creation was effected by the Only-begotten, in order to secure that the Spirit should not be considered to have something in common with this creation because of His having been manifested by means of the Son, He is distinguished from it by His unchangeableness, and independence of all external goodness. The creation does not possess in its nature this unchangeableness, as the Scripture says in the description of the fall of the morning star, the mysteries on which subject are revealed by our Lord to His disciples: "I saw Satan falling like lightning from heavenhyperlink ." But the very attributes which part Him from the creation constitute His relationship to the Father and the Son. All that is incapable of degenerating has one and the same definition of "unchangeable."

Having stated thus much as a preface we are in a position to discuss the rest of our adversaries' teaching. "It necessarily follows," he says in his system of the Son and the Spirit, "that the Beings are relatively greater and less." Let us then inquire what is the meaning of this necessity of difference. Does it arise from a comparison formed from measuring them one with another in some material way, or from viewing them on the spiritual ground of more or less of moral excellence, or on that of pure being? But in the case of this last it has been shown by competent thinkers that it is impossible to conceive of any difference whatever, if one abstracts being from attributes and properties, and looks at it according to its bare definition. Again, to conceive of this difference as consisting in the case of the Only-begotten and the Spirit in the intensity or abatement of moral excellence, and in consequence to hint that their nature admits of change in either direction, so as to be equally capable of opposites, and to be placed in a borderland between moral beauty and its opposite-that is gross profanity. A man who thinks this will be proving that their nature is one thing in itself, and becomes something else by virtue of its participation in this beauty or its opposite: as happens with iron for example: if it is approached some time to the fire, it assumes the quality of heat while remaining iron: if it is put in snow or ice, it changes its quality to the mastering influence, and lets the snow's coldness pass into its pores.

Now just as we cannot name the material of the iron from the quality now to be observed upon it (for we do not give the name of fire or ice to that which is tempered with either of these), so the moment we grant the view of these heretics, that in the casehyperlink of the Life-giving Power good does not reside in It essentially, but is imparted to it only, it will become impossible to call it properly good: such a conception of it will compel us to regard it as something different, as not eternally exhibiting the good, as not in itself to be classed amongst genuine goods, but as such that the good is at times not in it, and is at times not likely to be in it. If these existences become good only by sharing in a something superior to themselves, it is plain that before this participation they were not good, and if, being other than good, they were then coloured by the influence of good they must certainly, if again isolated from this, be considered other than good: so that, if this heresy prevails, the Divine Nature cannot be apprehended as transmissive of good, but rather as itself needing goodness: for how can one impart to another that which he does not himself possess? If it is in a state of perfection, no abatement of that can be conceived, and it is absurd to talk of less of perfection. If on the other hand its participation of good is an imperfect one, and this is what they mean by `less,' mark the consequence that anything in that state can never help an inferior, but will be busied in satisfying its own want: so that, according to them, Providence is a fiction, and so is the judgment and the Dispensation of the Only-begotten, and all the other works believed to be done, and still doing by Him: for He will necessarily be employed in taking care of His own good, and must abandon the supervision of the Universehyperlink .

If, then, this surmise is to have its way, namely, that our Lord is not perfected in every kind of good, it is very easy to see the conclusion of the blasphemy. This being so, our faith is vain, and our preaching vain; our hopes, which take their substance from our faith, are unsubstantial. Why are they baptized into Christhyperlink , if He has no power of goodness of His own? God forgive me for saying it! Why do they believe in the Holy Ghost, if the same account is given of Him? How are they regeneratehyperlink by baptism from their mortal birth, if the regenerating Power does not possess in its own nature infallibility and independence? How can their `vile body' be changed, while they think that He who is to change it Himself needs change, i.e. another to change Him? For as long as a nature is in defect as regards the good, the superior existence exerts upon this inferior one a ceaseless attraction towards itself: and this craving for more will never stop: it will be stretching out to something not yet grasped: the subject of this deficiency will be always demanding a supply, always altering into the grander nature, and yet will never touch perfection, because it cannot find a goal to grasp, and cease its impulse upward. The First Good is in its nature infinite, and so it follows of necessity that the participation in the enjoyment of it will be infinite also, for more will be always being grasped, and yet something beyond that which has been grasped will always be discovered, and this search will never overtake its Object, because its fund is as inexhaustible as the growth of that which participates in it is ceaselesshyperlink .

Such, then, are the blasphemies which emerge from their making differences between the Persons as to the good. If on the other band the degrees of more or less are to be understood in this case in some material sense, the absurdity of this surmise will be obvious at once, without examination in detail. Ideas of quality and distance, weight and figure, and all that goes to complete the notion of a body, will perforce be introduced along with such a surmise into the view of the Divine Nature: and where a compound is assumed, there the dissolution also of that compound must be admitted. A teaching so monstrous, which dares to discover a smaller and a larger in what is sizeless and not concrete lands us in these and suchlike conclusions, a few samples only of which are here indicated: nor indeed would it be easy to unveil all the mischief that lurks beneath it. Still the shocking absurdity that results from their blasphemous premiss will be clear from ibis brief notice. We now proceed to their next position, after a short defining and confirmation of our own doctrine. For an inspired testimony is a sure test of the truth of any doctrine: and so it seems to me that ours may be well guaranteed by a quotation from the divine words.

In the division of all existing things, then, we find these distinctions. There is, as appealing to our perceptions, the Sensible world: and there is, beyond this, the world which the mind, led on by objects of sense, can view: I mean the Intelligible: and in this we detect again a further distinction into the Created and the Uncreate: to the latter of which we have defined the Holy Trinity to belong, to the former all that can exist or can be thought of after that. But in order that this statement may not be left without a proof, but may be confirmed by Scripture, we will add that our Lord was not created, but came forth from the Father, as the Word with His own lips attests in the Gospel, in a manner of birth or of proceeding ineffable and mysterious: and what truer witness could be found than this constant declaration of our Lord all through the Gospel, that the Very Father was a father, not a creator, of Himself, and that He was not a work of God, but Son of God? Just as when He wished to name His connexion with humanity according to the flesh, He called that phase of his being Son of Man, indicating thereby His kinship according to the nature of the flesh with her from whom He was born, so also by the title of Son he expresses His true and real relationship to the Almighty, by that name of Son showing this natural connexion: no matter if there are some who, for the contradiction of the truth, do take literally and without any explanation, words used with a hidden meaning in the dark form of parable, and adduce the expression `created,' put into the mouth of Wisdom by the author of the Proverbshyperlink , to support their perverted views. They say, in tact, that "the Lord created me" is a proof that our Lord is a creature, as if the Only-begotten Himself in that word confessed it. But we need not heed such an argument. They do not give reasons why we must refer that text to our Lord at all: neither will they be able to show that the idea of the word in the Hebrew leads to this and no other meaning, seeing that the other translators have rendered it by "possessed" or "constituted:" nor, finally, even if this was the idea in the original text, would its real meaning be so plain and on the surface: for these proverbial discourses do not show their aim at once, but rather conceal it, revealing it only by an indirect import, and we may judge of the obscurity of this particular passage from its context where he says, "When He set His throne upon the windshyperlink ," and all the similar expressions. What is God's throne? Is it material or ideal? What are the winds? Are they these winds so familiar to us, which the natural philosophers tell us are formed from vapours and exhalations: or are they to be understood in another way not familiar to man, when they are called the bases of His throne? What is this throne of the immaterial, incomprehensible, and formless Deity? Who could possibly understand all this in a literal sense?

§23. These Doctrines of Our Faith Witnessed to and Confirmed by Scripture Passages.

It is therefore clear that these are metaphors, which contain a deeper meaning than the obvious one: so that there is no reason from them that any suspicion that our Lord was created should be entertained by reverent inquirers, who have been trained according to the grand words of the evangelist, that "all things that have been made were made by Him" and "consist in Him." "Without Him was not anything made that was made." The evangelist would not bare so defined it if he had believed that our Lord was one among the things made. How could all things be made by Him and in Him consist, unless their Maker possessed a nature different from theirs, and so produced, not Himself, but them? If the creation was by Him, but He was not by Himself, plainly He is something outside the creation. And after the evangelist has by these words so plainly declared that the things that were made were made by the Son, and did not pass into existence by any other channel, Paulhyperlink follows and, to leave no ground at all for this profane talk which numbers even the Spirit amongst the things that were made, he mentions one after another all the existencies which the evangelist's words imply: just as David in fact, after having said that "all things" were put in subjection to man, adds each species which that "all" comprehends, that is, the creatures on land, in water, and in air, so does Paul the Apostle: expounder of the divine doctrines, after saying that all things were made by Him, define by numbering them the meaning of "all." He speaks of "the things that are seenhyperlink " and "the things that are not seen:" by the first he gives a general name to all things cognizable by the senses, as we have seen: by the latter he shadows forth the intelligible world.

Now about the first there is no necessity of going into minute detail. No one is so carnal, so brutelike, as to imagine that the Spirit resides in the sensible world. But after Paul has mentioned "the things that are not seen" he proceeds (in order that none may surmise that the Spirit, because He is of the intelligible and immaterial world, on account of this connexion subsists therein) to another most distinct division into the things that have been made in the way of creation, and the existence that is above creation. He mentions the several classes of these created intelligibles: "hyperlink thrones," "dominions," "principalities," "powers," conveying his doctrine about these unseen influences in broadly comprehensive terms: but by his very silence he separates from his list of things created that which is above them. It is just as if any one was required to name the sectional and inferior officers in some army, and after he had gone through them all, the commanders of tens, the commanders of hundreds, the captains and the colonelshyperlink , and all the other names given to the authorities over divisions, omitted after all to speak of the supreme command which extended over all the others: not from deliberate neglect, or from forgetfulness, but because when required or intending to name only the several ranks which served under it, it would have been an insult to include this supreme command in the list of the inferior. So do we find it with Paul, who once in Paradise was admitted to mysteries, when he had been caught up there, and had become a spectator of the wonders that are above the heavens, and saw and heard "things which it is not lawful for a man to utterhyperlink ." This Apostle proposes to tell us of all that has been created by our Lord, and he gives them under certain comprehensive terms: but, having traversed all the angelic and transcendental world, he stops his reckoning there, and refuses to drag down to the level of creation that which is above it. Hence there is a clear testimony in Scripture that the Holy Spirit is higher than the creation. Should any one attempt to refute this, by urging that neither are the Cherubim mentioned by Paul, that they equally with the Spirit are left out, and that therefore this omission must prove either that they also are above the creation, or that the Holy Spirit is not any more than they to be believed above it, let him measure the full intent of each name in the list: and he will find amongst them that which from not being actually mentioned seems, but only seems, omitted. Under "thrones" he includes the Cherubim, giving them this Greek name, as more intelligible than the Hebrew name for them. He knew that "God sits upon the Cherubim:" and so he calls these Powers the thrones of Him who sits thereon. In the same way there are included in the list Isaiah's Seraphimhyperlink , by whom the mystery of the Trinity was luminously proclaimed, when they uttered that marvellous cry "Holy," being awestruck With the beauty in each Person of the Trinity. They are named under the title of "powers" both by the mighty Paul, and by the prophet David. The latter says, "Bless ye the Lord all ye His powers, ye ministers of His that do His pleasurehyperlink :" and Isaiah instead of saying"Bless ye" has written the very words of their blessing, "Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God of hosts: the whole earth is full of His glory" and he has revealed by what one of the Seraphim did (to him) that these powers are ministers that do God's pleasure, effecting the `purging of sin' according to the will of Him Who sent them: for this is the ministry of these spiritual beings, viz., to be sent forth for the salvation of those who are being saved.

That divine Apostle perceived this. He understood that the same matter is indicated under different names by the two prophets, and he took the best known of the two words, and called those Seraphim "powers:" so that no ground is left to our critics for saying that any single one of these beings is omitted equally with the Holy Ghost from the catalogue of creation. We learn from the existences detailed by Paul that while some existences have been mentioned, others have been passed over: and while he has taken count of the creation in masses as it were, he has (elsewhere) mentioned as units those things which are conceived of singly. For it is a peculiarity of the Holy Trinity that it is to be proclaimed as consisting of individuals: one Father, one Son, one Holy Ghost: whereas those existences aforesaid are counted in masses, "dominions," "principalities," "lordships," "powers," so as to exclude any suspicion that the Holy Ghost was one of them. Paul is wisely silent upon our mysteries; he understands how, after having heard those unspeakable words in paradise, to refrain from proclaiming those secrets when he is making mention of lower beings.

But these foes of the truth rush in upon the ineffable; they degrade the majesty of the Spirit to the level of the creation; they act as if they had never heard that the Word of God, when confiding to His disciples the secret of knowing God, Himself said that the life of hyperlink the regenerate was to be completed in them and imparted in the name of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, and, thereby ranking the Spirit with the Father and Himself, precluded Him from being confused with the creation. From both, therefore, we may get a reverential and proper conception with regard to Him: from Paul's omitting the Spirit's existence in the mention of the creation, and from our Lord's joining the Spirit with His Father and Himself in mentioning the life-giving power. Thus does our reason, under the guidance of the Scripture, place not only the Only-begotten but the Holy Spirit as well above the creation, and prompt us in accordance with our Saviour's command to contemplate Him by faith in the blessed world of life giving and uncreated existence: and so this unit, which we believe in, above creation, and sharing in the supreme and absolutely perfect nature, cannot be regarded as in any way a `less,' although this teacher of heresy attempt to curtail its infinitude by introducing the idea of degrees, and thus contracting the divine perfection by defining a greater and a less as residing in the Persons.

§24. His Elaborate Account of Degrees and Differences in `Works' And `Energies' Within the Trinity is Absurd.

Now let us see what he adds, as the consequence of this. After saying that we must perforce regard the Being as greater and less and that whilehyperlink the ones, by virtue of a pre-eminent magnitude and value, occupy a leading place, the others must be detruded to a lower place, because their nature and their value is secondary, he adds this; "their difference amounts to that existing between their works: it would in fact be impious to say that the same energy produced the angels or the stars. and the heavens or man; but one would positively maintain about this, that in proportion as some works are older 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."

I suspect that their author himself would find it difficult to tell us what he meant when he wrote those words. Their thought is obscured by the rhetorical mud, which is so thick that one can hardly see beyond any clue to interpret them. "Their difference amounts to that existing between their works" is a sentence which might be suspected of coming from some Loxias of pagan story, mystifying his hearers. But if we may make a guess at the drift of his observations here by following out those which we have already examined, this would be his meaning, viz., that if we know the amount of difference between one work and another, we shall know the amount of that between the corresponding energies. But what "works" he here speaks of, it is impossible to discover from his words. If he means the works to be observed in the creation, I do not see how this hangs on to what goes before. For the question was about Father, Son, and Holy Ghost: what occasion was there, then, for one thinking rationally to inquire one after another into the nature of earth, and water, and air, and fire, and the different animals, and to distinguish some works as older and more honourable than others, and to speak of one energy as transcending another? But if he calls the Only-begotten and the Holy Spirit "works," what does he mean by the "differences" of the energies which produce these works: and what arehyperlink those wonderful energies of this writer which transcend the others? He has neither explained the particular way in which he means them to "transcend" each other; nor has he discussed the nature of these energies: but he has advanced in neither direction, neither proving so far their real subsistence, nor their being some unsubstantial exertion of a will. Throughout it all his meaning hangs suspended between these two conceptions, and oscillates from one to the other. He adds that "it would be impious to say that the same energy produced the angels or the stars, and the heavens or man." Again we ask what necessity there is to draw this conclusion from his previous remarks? I do not see that it is proved any morehyperlink because the energies vary amongst themselves as much as the works do, and because the works are not all from the same source but are stated by him to come from different sources. As for the heavens and each angel, star, and man, or anything else understood by the word "creation," we know from Scripture that they are all the work of One: whereas in their system of theology the Son and the Spirit are not the work of one and the same, the Son being the work of the energy which `follows' the first Being, and the Spirit the further work of that work. What the connexion, then, is between that statement and the heavens, man, angel, star, which he drags in, must be revealed by himself, or some one whom he has initiated into his profound philosophy. The blasphemy intended by his words is plain enough, but the way the profanity is stated is inconsistent with itself. To suppose that within the Holy Trinity there is a difference as wide as that which we can observe between the heavens which envelope the whole creation, and one single man or the star which shines in them, is openly profane: but still the connexion of such thoughts and the pertinence of such a comparison is a mystery to me, and I suspect also to its author himself. If indeed his account of the creation were of this sort, viz., that while the heavens were the work of some transcendent energy each star in them was the result of an energy accompanying the heavens, and that then an angel was the result of that star, and a man of that angel, his argument would then have consisted in a comparison of similar processes, and might have somewhat confirmed his doctrine. But since he grants that it was all made by One (unless he wishes to contradict Scripture downright), while he describes the production of the Persons after a different fashion, what connexion is there between this newly imported view and what went before?

But let it be granted to him that this comparison does have some connexion with proving variation amongst the Beings (for this is what he desires to establish); still let us see how that which follows hangs on to what he has just said, `In proportion as one work is prior to another and more precious than it, so would a piers mind affirm that one energy transcends another.' If in this he alludes to the sensible world, the statement is a long way from the matter in hand. There is no necessity whatever that requires one whose subject is theological to philosophize about the order in which the different results achieved in the world-making are to come, and to lay down that the energies of the Creator are higher and lower analogously to the magnitude of each thing then made. But if he speaks of the Persons themselves, and means by works that are `older and more honourable' those `works' which he has just fashioned in his own creed, that is, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, it would be perhaps better to pass over in silence such an abominable view, than to create even the appearance of its being an argument by entangling ourselves with it. For can a `more honourable' be discovered where there is not a less honourable? If he can go so far, and with so light a heart, in profanity as to hint that the expression and the idea `less precious' can be predicated of anything whatever which we believe of the Trinity, then it were well to stop our ears, and get as quickly as possible out of hearing of such wickedness, and the contagion of reasoning which will be transfused into the heart, as from a vessel full of uncleanness.

Can any one dare to speak of the divine and supreme Being in such a way that a less degree of honour in comparison is proved by the argument. "That all," says the evangelist, "may honour the Son, as they honour the Fathers.hyperlink " This utterance (and such an utterance is a law to us) makes a law of this equality in honour: yet this man annuls both the law and its Giver, and apportions to the One more, to the Other less of honour, by some occult method for measuring its extra abundance which he has discovered. By the custom of mankind the differences of worth are the measure of the amount of honour which each in authority receives; so that inferiors do not approach the lower magistracies in the same guise exactly as they do the sovereign, and the greater or less display of fear or reverence on their part indicates the greater or the less worshipfulness in the objects of it: in fact we may discover, in this disposition of inferiors, who are the specially honourable; when, for instance, we see some one feared beyond his neighbours, or the recipient of more reverence than the rest. But in the case of the divine nature, because every perfection in the way of goodness is connoted with the very name of God, we cannot discover, at all events as we look at it, any ground for degrees of honour. Where there is no greater and smaller in power, or glory, or wisdom, or love, or of any other imaginable good whatever, but the good which the Son has is the Father's also, and all that is the Father's is seen in the Son, what possible state of mind can induce us to show the more reverence in the case of the Father? If we think of royal power and worth the Son is King: if of a judge, `all judgment is committed to the Sonhyperlink :' if of the magnificent office of Creation, `all things were made by Himhyperlink :' if of the Author of our life, we know the True Life came down as far as our nature: if of our being taken out of darkness, we know He is the True Light, who weans us from darkness: if wisdom is precious to any, Christ is God's power and Wisdomhyperlink .

Our very souls, then, being disposed so naturally and in proportion to their capacity, and yet so miraculously, to recognize so many and great wonders in Christ, what further excess of honour is left us to pay exclusively to the Father, as inappropriate to the Son? Human reverence of the Deity, looked at in its plainest meaning, is nothing else but an attitude of love towards Him, and a confession of the perfections in Him: and I think that the precept `so ought the Son to be honoured as the Fatherhyperlink ,' is enjoined by the Word in place of love. For the Law commands that we pay to God this fitting honour by loving Him with all our heart and strength and here is the equivalent of that love, in that the Word as Lawgiver thus says, that the Son ought to be honoured as the Father.

It was this kind of honour that the great David fully paid, when he confessed to the Lord in a preludehyperlink of his psalmody that he loved the Lord, and told all the reasons for his love, calling Him his "rock" and "fortress," and "refuge," and "deliverer," and "God-helper," and "hope," and "buckler," and "horn of salvation," and "protector." If the Only-begotten Son is not all these to mankind, let the excess of honour be reduced to this extent as this heresy dictates: but if we have always believed Him to be, and to be entitled to, all this and even more, and to be equal in every operation and conception of the good to the majesty of the Father's goodness, how can it be pronounced consistent, either not to love such a character, or to slight it while we love it? No one can say that we ought to love Him with all our heart and strength, but to honour Him only with half. If, then, the Son is to be honoured with the whole heart in rendering to Him all our love, by what device can anything superior to His honour be discovered, when such a measure of honour is paid Him in the coin of love as our whole heart is capable of? Vainly, therefore, in the case of Beings essentially honourable, will any one dogmatize about a superior honour, and by comparison suggest an inferior honour.

Again; only in the case of the creation is it true to speak of `priority.' The sequence of works was there displayed in the order of the days; and the heavens may be said to have preceded by so much the making of man, and that interval may be measured by the interval of days. But in the divine nature, which transcends all idea of time and surpasses all reach of thought, to talk of a "prior" and a "later" in the honours of time is a privilege only of this new-fangled philosophy. In short he who declares the Father to be `prior' to the subsistence of the Son declares nothing short of this, viz., that the Son is later than the things made by the Sonhyperlink (if at least it is true to say that alI the ages, and alI duration of time was created after the Son, and by the Son).


58 There is of course reference here to John i. 3: and Eunomius is called just below the `new theologian,

0' with an allusion of S. John, who was called by virtue of this passage essentially o qeologoj.

59 this school of the new circumcision. This accusation is somewhat discounted by Gregory's comparison of Eunomius elsewhere to Bardesanes and Marcion, to the Manichees, to Nicholaus, to Philo (see Book XI. 691, 704, VI. 607, and especially VII. 645), and by his putting him down a scholar of Plato. But a momentary advantage, calculated in accordance with the character and capacities of the great mass of Gregory's audience, could not be lost. The lessons of Libanius, the rhetorician, had not been thrown away on Gregory.

60 Colossians i. 16.

61 i.e. according as each inclines more or less to the First Good.

62 uncreate intelligible nature is far renewed from such distinctions. This was the impregnable position that Athanasius had taken up. To admit that the Son is less than the Father, and the Spirit less than the Son, is to admit the law of emanation such as hitherto conceived, that is, the gradual and successive degradation of God's substance; which had conducted oriental heretics as well as the Neoplatonists to a sort of pantheistic polytheism. Arius had indeed tried to resist this tendency so far as to bring back divinity to the Supreme Being; but it was at the expense of the divinity of the Son, Who was with him just as much a created Intermediate between God and man, as one of the Aeons: and Aetius and Eunomius treated the Holy Ghost also as their master had treated the Son. But Arianism tended at once to Judaism and, in making creatures adorable. to Greek polytheism. There was only one way of cutting short the phantasmagoria of divine emanations, without having recourse to the contradictory hypothesis of Arius: and that was to reject the law of emanation, as hitherto accepted, altogether. Far from admitting that the Supreme Being is always weakening and degrading Himself in that which emanates from Him, Athanasius lays down the principle that He produces within Himself nothing but what is perfect, and first, and divine: and all that is not perfect is a work of the Divine Will, which draws it out of nothing (i.e. creates it), and not out of the Divine Substance. This was the crowning result of the teaching of Alexandria and Origen. See Denys (De la Philosophic d'Origene, p. 432, Paris, 1884).

63 But He is not begotten. Athanasian Creed.

64 Luke x. 18.

65 thj zwopoiou dunamewj.

66 tou pantoj. It is worth while to mention,once for all, the distinction in the names used by the Stoics for the world, which had long since passed from them into the common parlance. Including the Empty, the world is called to pan, without it, olon (to olon, ta ola frequently occurs with the Stoics). The pan, it was said, is neither material nor immaterial, since it consists of both.

67 Ti gar baptizontai eij Xriston. This throws some light on the much discussed passage, `Why are these baptized for the dead?

0' Gregory at all events seems here to take it to mean, `Why are they baptized in the name of a dead Christ?

0' as he is adopting partially S. Paul's words, 1 Cor. xv. 29; as well as Heb. xi. 1 above.

68 anagennwntai.

69 Cf. Gregory's theory of human perfection; De anima et Resurrectione, p. 229, 230. `The All-creating Wisdom fashioned these souls, these receptacles with free wills, as vessels as it were, for this very purpose, that there should be some capacities able to receive His blessings, and become continually larger with the inpouring of the stream. Such are the wonders that the participation in the Divine blessings works; it makes him into whom they come larger and more capacious. ...The fountain of blessings wells up unceasingly, and the partaker's nature, finding nothing superfluous and without a use in that which it receives, makes the whole influx an enlargement of its own proportions. ...It is likely, therefore, that this bulk will mount to a magnitude wherein no limit checks the growth.

70 Proverbs viii. 22 (LXX). For another discussion of this passage, see Book II. ch. 10 (beginning) with note.

71 Proverbs viii, 27 (LXX).

72 in the Canon. (Oehler's stopping is here at fault, i.e. he begins a new paragraph with 'Ekdexetai ton logon touton o Pauloj). We need not speculate whether Gregory was aware that the Epistle to the Colossians (quoted below) is an earlier `Gospel

0' than S. John's.

73 Coloss. i. 16.

74 Coloss. i. 16.

75 taciarxaj kai loxagouj, ekatontarxouj te kai xiliarxouj. The difference between the two pairs seems to be the difference between `non-commissioned

0' and `commissioned

0' officers.

76 2 Corinth. xii. 4.

77 Isaiah vi. 6, Isaiah vi. 7.

78 Psalm ciii. 21.

79 toij anagennwmenoij.

80 taj men, i.e. Ousioj. Eunomius' Arianism here degenerates into mere Emanationism: but even in this system the Substances were living; it is beat on the whole to translate ousia `beeing,

0' and this, as a rule, is adhered to throughout.

81 kakeinai ai energeiai autai.

82 tw parhllacqai, k.t.l. This is Oehler's emendation for the faulty reading to of the editions

83 John v. 23.

84 John v. 22; John i. 3.

85 John v. 22; John i. 3.

86 1 Cor. i. 24. "Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God."

87 John v. 23. The Gospel enjoins honour and means love: the Law enjoins love and means honour.

88 a prelude. See Psalm vii. 1 and Psalm xviii. 1, "fortress," krataiwma; sterewma, LXX.

89 The meaning is that, if the Son is later (in time) than the Father, then time must have already existed for this comparison to be made; i.e. the Son is later than time as well as the Father. This involves a contradiction.