Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.06 Book I Part 5

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.06 Book I Part 5

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.06 Book I Part 5

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§25. He Who Asserts that the Father is `Prior' To the Son with Any Thought of an Interval Must Perforce Allow that Even the Father is Not Without Beginning.

But more than this: what exposes still further the untenableness of this view is, that, besides positing a beginning in tithe of the Son's existence, it does not, when followed out, spare the Father even, but proves that He also had his beginning in time. For any recognizing mark that is presupposed for the generation of the Son must certainly define as well the Father's beginning.

To make this clear, it will be well to discuss it more carefully. When he pronounces that the life of the Father is prior to that of the Son, he places a certain interval between the two; now, he must mean, either that this interval is infinite, or that it is included within fixed limits. But the principle of an intervening mean will not allow him to call it infinite; he would annul thereby the very conception of Father and Son and the thought of anything connecting them, as long as this infinite were limited on neither side, with no idea of a Father cutting it short above, nor that of a Son checking it below. The very nature of the infinite is, to be extended in either direction, and to have no bounds of any kind.

Therefore if the conception of Father and Son is to remain firm and immoveable, he will find no ground for thinking this interval is infinite: his school must place a definite interval of time between the Only-begotten and the Father. What I say, then, is this: that this view of theirs will bring us to the conclusion that the Father is not from everlasting, but from a definite point in time. I will convey my meaning by familiar illustrations; the known shall make the unknown clear. When we say, on the authority of the text of Moses, that man was made the fifth day after the heavens, we tacitly imply that before those same days the heavens did not exist either; a subsequent event goes to define, by means of the interval which precedes it, the occurrence also of a previous event. If this example does not make our contention plain, we can give others. We say that `the Law given by Moses was four hundred and thirty years later than the Promise to Abraham.' If alter traversing, step by step upwardshyperlink , the anterior time we reach this end of that number of years, we firmly grasp as well the fact that, before that date, God's Promise was not either. Many such instances could be given, but I decline to be minute and wearisome.

Guided, then, by these examples, let us examine the question before us. Our adversaries conceive of the existences of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit as involving elder and younger, respectively. Well then; if, at the bidding of this heresy, we journey up beyond the generation of the Son, and approach that intervening duration which the mere fancy of these dogmatists supposes between the Father and the Son, and then reach that other and supreme point of time by which they close that duration, there we find the life of the Father fixed as it were upon an apex; and thence we must necessarily conclude that before it the Father is not to be believed to have existed always.

If you still feel difficulties about this, let us again take an illustration. It shall be that of two rulers, one shorter than the other. If we fit the bases of the two together we know from the tops the extra length of the one; from the end of the lesser lying alongside of it we measure this excess, supplementing the deficiency of the shorter ruler by a calculation, and so bringing it up to the end of the longer; a cubit for instance, or whatever be the distance of the one end from the other. So, if there is, as our adversaries say, an excess of some kind in the Father's life as compared with the Son's, it must needs consist in some definite interval of duration: and they will allow that this interval of excess cannot be in the future, for that Both are imperishable, even the foes of the truth will grant. No; they conceive of this difference as in the past, and instead of equalizing the life of the Father and the Son there, they extend the conception of the Father by an interval of living. But every interval must be bounded by two ends: and so for this interval which they have devised we must grasp the two points by which the ends are denoted. The one portion takes its beginning, in their view, from the Son's generation; and the other portion must end in some other point, from which the interval starts, and by which it limits itself. What this is, is for them to tell us; unless, indeed, they are ashamed of the consequences of their own assumptions.

It admits not of a doubt, then, that they will not be able to find at all the other portion, corresponding to the first portion of their fancied interval, except they were to suppose some beginning of their Ungenerate, whence the middle, that connects with the generation of the Son, may be conceived of as starting. We affirm, then, that when he makes the Son later than the Father by a certain intervening extension of life, he must grant a fixed beginning to the Father's existence also, regulated by this same interval of his devising; and thus their much-vaunted "Ungeneracy" of the Father will be found to be undermined by its own champions' arguments; and they will have to confess that their Ungenerate God did once not exist, but began from a starting-point: indeed, that which has a beginning of being is not inoriginate. But if we must at all risks confess this absence of beginning in the Father, let not such exactitude be displayed in fixing for the life of the Son a point which, as the term of His existence, must cut Him off from the life on the other side of it; let it suffice on the ground of causation only to conceive of the Father as before the Son; and let not the Father's life be thought of as a separate and peculiar one before the generation of the Son, lest we should have to admit the idea inevitably associated with this of an interval before the appearance of the Son which measures the life of Him Who begot Him, and then the necessary consequence of this, that a beginning of the Father's life also must be supposed by virtue of which their fancied interval may be stayed in its upward advance so as to set a limit and a beginning to this previous life of the Father as well: let it suffice for us, when we confess the `coming from Him,' to admit also, bold as it may seem, the `living along with Him;' for we are led by the written oracles to such a belief. For we have been taught by Wisdom to contemplate the brightnesshyperlink of the everlasting light in, and together with, the very everlastingness of that primal light, joining in one idea the brightness and its cause, and admitting no priority. Thus shall we save the theory of our Faith, the Son's life not failing in the upward view, and the Father's everlastingness being not trenched upon by supposing any definite beginning for the Son.

§26. It Will Not Do to Apply This Conception, as Drawn Out Above, of the Rather and Son to the Creation, as They Insist on Doing: But We Must Contemplate the Son Apart with the Father, and Believe that the Creation Had Its Origin from a Definite Point.

But perhaps some of the opponents of this will say, `The Creation also has an acknowledged beginning; and yet the things in it are not connected in thought with the everlastingness of the Father, and it does not check, by having a beginning of its own, the infinitude of the divine life, which is the monstrous conclusion this discussion has pointed out in the case of the Father and the Son. One therefore of two things must follow. Either the Creation is everlasting; or, it must be boldly admitted, the Son is later in time (than the Father). The conception of an interval in time will lead to monstrous conclusions, even when measured from the Creation up to the Creator.'

One who demurs so, perhaps from not attending closely to the meaning of our belief, fights against it with alien comparisons which have nothing to do with the matter in hand. If he could point to anything above Creation which has its origin marked by any interval of time, and it were acknowledged possible by all to think of any time-interval as existing before Creation, he might have occasion for endeavouring to destroy by such attacks that everlastingness of the Son which we have proved above. But seeing that by all the suffrages of the faithful it is agreed that, of all things that are, part is by creation, and part before creation, and that the divine nature is to be believed uncreate (although within it, as our faith teaches, there is a cause, and there is a subsistence produced, but without separation, from the cause), while the creation is to be viewed in an extension of distances,-all order and sequence of time in events can be perceived only in the ages (of this creation), but the nature pre-existent to those ages escapes all distinctions of before and after, because reason cannot see in that divine and blessed life the things which it observes, and that exclusively, in creation. The creation, as we have said, comes into existence according to a sequence of order, and is commensurate with the duration of the ages, so that if one ascends along the line of things created to their beginning, one will bound the search with the foundation of those ages. But the world above creation, being removed from all conception of distance, eludes all sequence of time: it has no commencement of that sort: it has no end in which to cease its advance, according to any discoverable method of order. Having traversed the ages and all that has been produced therein, our thought catches a glimpse of the divine nature, as of some immense ocean, but when the imagination stretches onward to grasp it, it gives no sign in its own case of any beginning; so that one who after inquiring with curiosity into the `priority' of the ages tries to mount to the source of all things will never be able to make a single calculation on which he may stand; that which he seeks will always be moving on before, and no basis will be offered him for the curiosity of thought.

It is clear, even with a moderate insight into the nature of things, that there is nothing by which we can measure the divine and blessed Life. It is not in time, but time flows from it; whereas the creation, starting from a manifest beginning, journeys onward to its proper end through spaces of time; so that it is possible, as Solomon somewherehyperlink says, to detect in it a beginning, an end, and a middle; and mark the sequence of its history by divisions of time. But the supreme and blessed life has no time-extension accompanying its course, and therefore no span nor measure. Created things are confined within the fitting measures, as within a boundary, with due regard to the good adjustment of the whole by the pleasure of a wise Creator; and so, though human reason in its weakness cannot reach the whole way to the contents of creation, yet still we do not doubt that the creative power has assigned to all of them their limits and that they do not stretch beyond creation. But this creative power itself, while circumscribing by itself the growth of things, has itself no circumscribing bounds; it buries in itself every effort of thought to mount up to the source of God's life, and it eludes the busy and ambitious strivings to get to the end of the Infinite. Every discursive effort of thought to go back beyond the ages will ascend only so far as to see that that which it seeks can never be passed through: time and its contents seem the measure and the limit of the movement and the working of human thought, but that which lies beyond remains outside its reach; it is a world where it may not tread, unsullied by any object that can be comprehended by man. No form, no place, no size, no reckoning of time, or anything else knowable, is there: and so it is inevitable that our apprehensive faculty, seeking as it does always some object to grasp, must fall back from any side of this incomprehensible existence, and seek in the ages and in the creation which they hold its kindred and congenial sphere.

All, I say, with any insight, however moderate, into the nature of things, know that the world's Creator laid time and space as a background to receive what was to be; on this foundation He builds the universe. It is not possible that anything which has come or is now coming into being by way of creation can be independent of space or time. But the existence which is all-sufficient, everlasting, world-enveloping, is not in space, nor in time: it is before these, and above these in an ineffable way; self-contained, knowable by faith alone; immeasurable by ages; without the accompaniment of time; seated and resting in itself, with no associations of past or future, there being nothing beside and beyond itself, whose passing can make something past and something future. Such accidents are confined to the creation, whose life is divided with time's divisions into memory and hope. But within that transcendent and blessed Power all things are equally present as in an instant: past and future are within its all-encircling grasp and its comprehensive view.

This is the Being in which, to use the words of the Apostle, all things are formed; and we, with our individual share in existence, live and move, and have our beinghyperlink . It is above beginning, and presents no marks of its inmost nature: it is to be known of only in the impossibility of perceiving it. That indeed is its most special characteristic, that its nature is too high for any distinctive attribute. A very different account to the Uncreate must be given of Creation: it is this very thing that takes it out of all comparison and connexion with its Maker; this difference, I mean, of essence, and this admitting a special account explanatory of its nature which has nothing in common with that of Him who made it. The Divine nature is a stranger to these special marks in the creation: It leaves beneath itself the sections of time, the `before' and the `after,' and the ideas of space: in fact `higher' cannot properly be said of it at all. Every conception about that uncreate Power is a sublime principle, and involves the idea of what is proper in the highest degreehyperlink .

We have shewn, then, by what we have said that the Only-begotten and the Holy Spirit are not to be looked for in the creation but are to be believed above it; and that while the creation may perhaps by the persevering efforts of ambitious seekers be seized in its own beginning, whatever that may be, the supernatural will not the more for that come within the realm of knowledge, for no mark before the ages indicative of its nature can be found. Well, then, if in this uncreate existence those wondrous realities, with their wondrous names of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, are to be in our thoughts, how can we imagine, of that pre-temporal world, that which our busy, restless minds perceive in things here below by comparing one of them with another and giving it precedence by an interval of time? For there, with the Father, unoriginate, ungenerate, always Father, the idea of the Son as coming from Him yet side by side with Him is inseparably joined; and through the Son and yet with Him, before any vague and unsubstantial conception comes in between, the Holy Spirit is found at once in closest union; not subsequent in existence to the Son, as if the Son could be thought of as ever having been without the Spirit; but Himself also owning the same cause of His being, i.e. the God over all, as the Only-begotten Light, and having shone forth in that very Light, being divisible neither by duration nor by an alien nature from the Father or from the Only-begotten. There are no intervals in that pre-temporal world: and difference on the score of being there is none. It is not even possible, comparing the uncreate with the uncreated, to see differences; and the Holy Ghost is uncreate, as we have before shewn.

This being the view held by all who accept in its simplicity the undiluted Gospel, what occasion was there for endeavouring to dissolve this fast union of the Son with the Father by means of the creation, as if it were necessary to suppose either that the Son was from everlasting along with the creation, or that He too, equally with it, was later? For the generation of the Son does not fall within timehyperlink , any more than the creation was before time: so that it can in no kind of way be right to partition the indivisible, and to insert, by declaring that there was a time when the Author of all existence was not, this false idea of time into the creative Source of the Universe.

Our previous contention, therefore, is true, that the everlastingness of the Son is included, along with the idea of His birth, in the Father's ungeneracy; and that, if any interval were to be imagined dividing the two, that same interval would fix a beginning for the life of the Almighty;-a monstrous supposition. But there is nothing to prevent the creation, being, as it is, in its own nature something other than its Creator and in no point trenching on that pure pre-temporal world, from having, in our belief, a beginning of its own, as we have said. To say that the heavens and the earth and other contents of creation were out of things which are not, or, as the Apostle says, out of "things not seen?hyperlink " inflicts no dishonour upon the Maker of this universe; for we know from Scripture that all these things are not from everlasting nor will remain for ever. If on the other hand it could be believed that there is something in the Holy Trinity which does not coexist with the Father, if following out this heresy any thought could be entertained of stripping the Almighty of the glory of the Son and Holy Ghost, it would end in nothing else than in a God manifestly removed from every deed and thought that was good and godlike. But if the Father, existing before the ages, is always in glory, and the pre-temporal Son is His glory, and if in like manner the Spirit of Christ is the Son's glory, always to be contemplated along with the Father and the Son, what training could have led this man of learning to declare that there is a `before' in what is timeless, and a `more honourable' in what is all essentially honourable, and preferring, by comparisons, the one to the other, to dishonour the latter by this partiality? The term in oppositionhyperlink to the more honourable makes it clearer still whither he is tending.

§27. He Falsely Imagines that the Same Energies Produce the Same Works, and that Variation in the Works Indicates Variation in the Energies.

Of the same strain is that which he adds in the next paragraph; "the same energies producing sameness of works, and different works indicating difference in the energies as well." Finely and irresistibly does this noble thinker plead for his doctrine. "The same energies produce sameness of works." Let us test this by facts. The energy of fire is always one and the same; it consists in heating: but what sort of agreement do its results show? Bronze melts in it; mud hardens; wax vanishes: while all other animals are destroyed by it, the salamander is preserved alivehyperlink ; tow burns, asbestos is washed by the flames as if by water; so much for his `sameness of works from one and the same energy.' How too about the sun? Is not his power of warming always the same; and yet while he causes one plant to grow, he withers another, varying the results of his operation in accordance with the latent force of each. `That on the rock' withers; `that in deep earth' yields an hundredfold. Investigate Nature's work, and you will learn, in the case of those bodies which she produces artistically, the amount of accuracy there is in his statement that `sameness of energy effects sameness of result.' One single operation is the cause of conception, but the composition of that which is effected internally therein is so varied that it would be difficult for any one even to count all the various qualities of the body. Again, imbibing the milk is one single operation on the part of the infant, but the results of its being nourished so are too complex to be all detailed. While this food passes from the channel of the mouth into the secretory ductshyperlink , the transforming power of Nature forwards it into the several parts proportionately to their wants; for by digestion she divides its sum total into the small change of multitudinous differences, and into supplies congenial to the subject matter with which she deals; so that the same milk goes to feed arteries, veins, brain and its membranes, marrow, bones, nerveshyperlink , sinews, tendons, flesh, surface, cartilages, fat, hair, nails, perspiration, vapours, phlegm, bile, and besides these, all useless superfluities deriving from the same source. You could not name either an organ, whether of motion or sensation, or anything else making up the body's bulk, which was not formed (in spite of startling differences) from this one and selfsame operation of feeding. If one were to compare the mechanic arts too it will be seen what is the scientific value of his statement; for there we see in them all the same operation, I mean the movement of the hands; but what have the results in common? What has building a shrine to do with a coat, though manual labour is employed on both? The house-breaker and the well-digger both move their hands: the mining of the earth, the murder of a man are results of the motion of the hands. The soldier slays the foe, and the husbandman wields the fork which breaks the clod, with his hands. How, then, can this doctrinaire lay it down that the `same energies produce sameness of work?' But even if we were to grant that this view of his had any truth in it, the essential union of the Son with the Father, and of the Holy Spirit with the Son, is yet again more fully proved. For if there existed any variation in their energies, so that the Son worked His will in a different manner to the Father, then (on the above supposition) it would be fair to conjecture, from this variation,a variation also in the beings which were the result of these varying energies. But if it is true that the manner of the Father's working is likewise the manner always of the Son's, both from our Lord's own words and from what we should have expected a priori-(for the one is not unbodied while the other is embodied, the one is not from this material, the other from that, the one does not work his will in this time and place, the other in that time and place, nor is there difference of organs in them producing difference of result, but the sole movement of their wish and of their will is sufficient, seconded in the founding of the universe by the power that can create anything)-if, I say, it is true that in all respects the Father from Whom are all things, and the Son by Whom are all things in the actual form of their operation work alike, then how can this man hope to prove the essential difference between the Son and the Holy Ghost by any difference and separation between the working of the Son and the Father? The very opposite, as we have just seen, is proved to be the casehyperlink ; seeing that there is no manner of difference contemplated between the working of the Father and that of the Son; and so that there is no gulf whatever between the being of the Son and the being of the Spirit, is shewn by the identity of the power which gives them their subsistence; and our pamphleteer himself confirms this; for these are his words verbatim: "the same energies producing sameness of works." If sameness of works is really produced by likeness of energies, and if (as they say) the Son is the work of the Father and the Spirit the work of the Son, the likeness in mannerhyperlink of the Father's and the Son's energies will demonstrate the sameness of these beings who each result from them.

But he adds, "variation in the works indicates variation in the energies." How, again, is this dictum of his corroborated by facts? Look, if you please, at plain instances. Is not the `energy' of command, in Him who embodied the world and all things therein by His sole will, a single energy? "He spake and they were made. He commanded and they were created." Was not the thing commanded in every case alike given existence: did not His single will suffice to give subsistence to the nonexistent? How, then, when such vast differences are seen coming from that one energy of command, can this man shut his eyes to realities, and declare that the difference of works indicates difference of energies? If our dogmatist insists on this, that difference of works implies difference of energies, then we should have expected the very contrary to that which is the case; viz., that everything in the world should be of one type. Can it be that he does see here a universal likeness, and detects unlikeness only between the Father and the Son?

Let him, then, observe, if he never did before, the dissimilarity amongst the elements of the world, and how each thing that goes to make up the framework of the whole hangs on to its natural opposite. Some objects are light and buoyant, others heavy and gravitating; some are always still, others always moving; and amongst these last some move unchangingly on one planhyperlink , as the heaven, for instance, and the planets, whose courses all revolve the opposite way to the universe, others are transfused in all directions and rush at random, as air and sea for instance, and every substance which is naturally penetratinghyperlink . What need to mention the contrasts seen between heat and cold, moist and dry, high and low position? As for the numerous dissimilarities amongst animals and plants, on the score of figure and size, and all the variations of their products and their qualities, the human mind would fail to follow them.

§28. He Falsely Imagines that We Can Have an Unalterable Series of Harmonious Natures Existing Side by Side.

But this man of science still declares that varied works have energies as varied to produce them. Either he knows not yet the nature of the Divine energy, as taught by Scripture,-`All things were made by the word of His command,'-or else he is blind to the differences of existing things. He utters for our benefit these inconsiderate statements, and lays down the law about divine doctrines, as if he had never yet heard that anything that is merely asserted,-where no entirely undeniable and plain statement is made about the matter in hand, and where the asserter says on his own responsibility that which a cannons listener cannot assent to,-is no better than a telling of dreams or of stories over wine. Little then as this dictum of his fits facts, nevertheless,-like one who is deluded by a dream into thinking that he sees one of the objects of his waking efforts, and who grasps eagerly at this phantom and with eyes deceived by this visionary desire thinks that he holds it,-he with this dreamlike outline of doctrines before him imagines that his words possess force, and insists upon their truth, and essays by them to prove all the rest. It is worth while to give the passage. "These 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 Being when the energies are in question." I think the actual phrases of his impiety are enough to prove how absurd is this teaching. If any one had to give a description of the way some disease mars a human countenance, he would explain it better by actually unbandaging the patient, and there would be then no need of words when the eye had seen how he looked. So some mental eye might discern the hideous mutilation wrought by this heresy: its mere perusal might remove the veil. But since it is necessary, in order to make the latent mischief of this teaching clear to the many, to put the finger of demonstration upon it, I will again repeat each word. "This being so." What does this dreamer mean? What is `this?' How has it been stated? "The Father's being is alone proper and in the highest degree supreme; consequently the next being is dependent, and the third more dependent still." In such words he lays down the law. But why? Is it because an energy accompanies the first being, of which the effect and work, the Only-begotten, is circumscribed by the sphere of this producing cause? Or because these Beings are to be thought of as of greater or less extent, the smaller included within and surrounded by the larger, like casks put one inside the other, inasmuch as he detects degrees of size within Beings that are illimitable? Or because differences of products imply differences of producers, as if it were impossible that different effects should be produced by similar energies? Well, there is no one whose mental faculties are so steeped in sleep as to acquiesce directly after hearing such statements in the following assertion, "these being so, and maintaining an unbroken connexion in their relation to one another." It is equal madness to say such things, and to hear them without any questioning. They are placed in a `series' and `an unalterable relation to each other,' and yet they are parted from each other by an essential unlikeness! Either, as our own doctrine insists, they are united in being, and then they really preserve an unalterable relation to each other; or else they stand apart in essential unlikeness, as he fancies. But what series, what relationship that is unalterable can exist with alien entities? And how can they present that `order germane to the matter' which according to him is to rule the investigation? Now if he had an eye only on the doctrine of the truth, and if the order in which be counts the differences was only that of the attributes which Faith sees in the Holy Trinity,-an order so `natural' and `germane' that the Persons cannot be confounded, being divided as Persons, though united in their being-then he would not have been classed at all amongst our enemies, for he would mean the very same doctrine that we teach. But, as it is, he is looking in the very contrary direction, and he makes the order which he fancies there quite inconceivable. There is all the difference in the world between the accomplishment of an act of the will, and that of a mechanical law of nature. Heat is inherent in fire, splendour in the sunbeam, fluidity in water, downward tendency in a stone, and so on. But if a man builds a house, or seeks an office, or puts to sea with a cargo, or attempts anything else which requires forethought and preparation to succeed, we cannot say in such a case that there is properly a rank or order inherent in his operations: their order in each case will result as an after consequence of the motive which guided his choice, or the utility of that which he achieves. Well, then; since this heresy parts the Son from any essential relationship with the Father, and adopts the same view of the Spirit as estranged from any union with the Father or the Son, and since also it affirms throughout that the Son is the work of the Father, and the Spirit the work of the Son, and that these works are the results of a purpose, not of nature, what grounds has he for declaring that this work of a will is an `order inherent in the matter,' and what is the drift of this teaching, which makes the Almighty the manufacturer of such a nature as this in the Son and the Holy Spirit, where transcendent beings are made such as to be inferior the one to the other? If such is really his meaning, why did he not clearly state the grounds he has for presuming in the case of the Deity, that smallness of result will be evidence of all the greater power? But who really could ever allow that a cause that is great and powerful is to be looked for in this smallness of results? As if God was unable to establish His own perfection in anything that comes from Himhyperlink ! And how can he attribute to the Deity the highest prerogative of supremacy while he exhibits His power as thus falling short of His will? Eunomius certainly seems to mean that perfection was not even proposed as the aim of God's work, for fear the honour and glory of One to Whom homage is due for His superiority might be thereby lessened. And yet is there any one so narrow-minded as to reckon the Blessed Deity Himself as not free from the passion of envy? What plausible reason, then, is left why the Supreme Deity should have constituted such an `order' in the case of the Son and the Spirit? "But I did not mean that `order' to come from Him," he rejoins. But whence else, if the beings to which this `order' is connatural are not essentially related to each other? But perhaps he calls the inferiority itself of the being of the Son and of the Spirit this `connatural order.' But I would beg of him to tell me the reason of this very thing, viz., why the Son is inferior on the score of being, when both this being and energy are to be discovered in the same characteristics and attributes. If on the other band there is not to be the samehyperlink definition of being and energy, and each is to signify something different, why does he introduce a demonstration of the thing in question by means of that which is quite different from it? It would be, in that case, just as if, when it was debated with regard to man's own being whether he were a risible animal, or one capable of being taught to read, some one was to adduce the building of a house or ship on the part of a mason or a shipwright as a settling of the question, insisting on the skilful syllogism that we know beings by operations, and a house and a ship are operations of man. Do we then learn, most simple sir, by such premisses, that man is risible as well as broad-nailed? Some one might well retort; `whether man possesses motion and energy was not the question: it was, what is the energizing principle itself; and that I fail to learn from your way of deciding the question.' Indeed, if we wanted to know something about the nature of the wind, you would not give a satisfactory answer by pointing to a heap of sand or chaff raised by the wind, or to dust which it scattered: for the account to be given of the wind is quite different: and these illustrations of yours would be foreign to the subject. What ground, then, has he for attempting to explain beings by their energies, and making the definition of an entity out of the resultants of that entity.

Let us observe, too, what sort of work of the Father it is by which the Father's being, according to him, is to be comprehended. The Son most certainly, he will say, if he says as usual. But this Son of yours, most learned sir, is commensurate in your scheme only with the energy which produced Him, and indicates that alone, while the Object of our search still keeps in the dark, if, as you yourself confess, this energy is only one amongst the things which `followhyperlink ' the first being. This energy, as you say, extends itself into the work which it produces, but it does not reveal therein even its own nature, but only so much of it as we can get a glimpse of in that work. All the resources of a smith are not set in motion to make a gimlet; the skill of that artisan only operates so far as is adequate to form that tool, though it could fashion a large variety of other tools. Thus the limit of the energy is to be found in the work which it produces. But the question now is not about the amount of the energy, but about the being of that which has put forth the energy. In the same way, if he asserts that he can perceive the nature of the Only-begotten in the Spirit (Whom he styles the work of an energy which `follows' the Son), his assertion has no foundation; for here again the energy, while it extends itself into its work, does not reveal therein the nature either of itself or of the agent who exerts it.

But let us yield in this; grant him that beings are known in their energies. The First being is known through His work; and this Second being is revealed in the work proceeding from Him.But what, my learned friend, is to show this Third being? No such work of this Third is to be found. If you insist that these beings are perceived by their energies, you must confess that the Spirit's nature is imperceptible; you cannot infer His nature from any energy put forth by Him to carry on the continuity. Show some substantiated work of the Spirit, through which you think you have detected the being of the Spirit, or all your cobweb will collapse at the touch of Reason. If the being is known by the subsequent energy, and substantiated energy of the Spirit there is none, such as ye say the Father shows in the Son, and the Son in the Spirit, then the nature of the Spirit must be confessed unknowable and not be apprehended through these; there is no energy conceived of in connexion with a substance to show even a side glimpse of it. But if the Spirit eludes apprehension, how by means of that which is itself imperceptible can the more exalted being be perceived? If the Son's work, that is, the Spirit according to them, is unknowable, the Son Himself can never be known; He will be involved in the obscurity of that which gives evidence of Him: and if the being of the Son in this way is hidden, how can the being who is most properly such and most supreme be brought to light by means of the being which is itself hidden; this obscurity of the Spirit is transmitted by retrogressionhyperlink through the Son to the Father; so that in this view, even by our adversaries' confession, the unknowableness of the Fathers being is clearly demonstrated. How, then, can this man, be his eye ever so `keen to see unsubstantial entities,' discern the nature of the unseen and incomprehensible by means of itself; and how can he command us to grasp the beings by means of their works, and their works again from them?

§29. He Vainly This that the Doubt About the Energies is to Be Sowed by the Beings, and Reversely.

Now let us see what comes next. `The doubt about the energies is to be solved by the beings.' What way is there of bringing this man out of his vain fancies down to common sense? If he thinks that it is possible thus to solve doubts about the energies by comprehending the beings themselves, how, if these last are not comprehended, can he change this doubt to any certainty? If the being has been comprehended, what need to make the energy of this importance, as if it was going to lead us to the comprehension of the being. But if this is the very thing that makes an examination of the energy necessary, viz., that we may be thereby guided to the understanding of the befog that exerts it, how can this as yet unknown nature solve the doubt about the energy? The proof of anything that is doubted must be made by means of wellknown truths; but when there is an equal uncertainty about both the objects of our search, how can Eunomius say that they are comprehended by means of each other, both being in themselves beyond our knowledge? When the Father's being is under discussion, he tells us that the question may be settled by means of the energy which follows Him and of the work which this energy accomplishes; but when the inquiry is about the being of tile Only-begotten, whether Eunomius calls Him an energy or a product of the energy (for he does both), then he tells us that the question may be easily solved by looking at the being of His producer!

§30. There is No Word of God that Commands Such Investigations: the Uselessness of the Philosophy Which Makes Them is Thereby Proved.

I should like also to ask him this. Does he mean that energies are explained by the beings which produced them only in the case of the Divine Nature, or does he recognize the nature of the produced by means of the being of the producer with regard to anything whatever that possesses an effective force? If in the case of the Divine Nature only he holds this view, let him show us how he settles questions about the works of God by means of the nature of the Worker. Take an undoubted work of God,-the sky, the earth, the sea, the whole universe. Let it be the being of one of these that, according to our supposition, is being enquired into, and let `sky' be the subject fixed for our speculative reasoning. It is a question what the substance of the sky is; opinions have been broached about it varying widely according to the lights of each natural philosopher. How will the contemplation of the Maker of the sky procure a solution of the question, immaterial, invisible, formless, ungenerate, everlasting, incapable of decay and change and alteration, and all such things, as He is. How will anyone who entertains this conception of the Worker be led on to the knowledge of the nature of the sky? How will he get an idea of a thing which is visible from the Invisible, of the perishable from the imperishable, of that which has a date for its existence from that which never had any generation, of that which has duration but for a time from the everlasting; in fact, of the object of his search from everything which is the very opposite to it. Let this man who has accurately probed the secret of things tell us how it is possible that two unlike things should be known from each other.


90 step by step upwards. si analusewj. This does not seem to be used in the Platonic (dialectic) sense, but in the N.T. sense of "return" or "retrogression," cf. Luke xii. 36. Gregory elsewhere Hom. Opif. xxv.), uses analuein in this sense: speaking of the three examples of Christ's power of raising from the dead, he says, `you see ...all these equally at the command of one and the same voice returning ('analuontaj) to life.

0' thus also came to mean "death," as a `return.

0' Cf. Ecclesiast. xi. 7.

91 brightness. Heb. i. 3, apaugasma thj dochj.

92 Compare Eccles. iii. 1-11; and Eccles. viii. 5, "and a wise man's heart discerneth both time and judgment."

93 Acts xvii. 28; Col. i. 17.

94 kai ton tou kuriwtatou logon epexei:

95 The generation of the Son does not fall within time. On this "eternal generation" Denys (De la Philosophie d'Origéne, p. 452) has the following remarks, illustrating the probable way that Athanasians would have dealt with Eunomius: "If we do not see how God's indivisibility remains in the co-existence of the three Persons, we can throw the blame of this difficulty upon the feebleness of our reason: while it is a manifest contradiction to admit at one and the same time the simplicity of the Uncreated, and some change or inequality within His Being. I know that the defenders of the orthodox belief might be troubled with their adversaries' argument. (Eunom. Apol. 22.) `If we admit that the Son, the energy creative of the world, is equal to the Father, it amounts to admitting that He is the actual energy of the Father in Creation, and that this energy is equal to His essence. But that is to return to the mistake of the Greeks who identified His essence and His energy, and consequently made the world coexist with God.

0' A serious difficulty, certainly, and one that has never yet solved, nor will be; as all the questions likewise which refer to the Uncreated and Created, to eternity and time. It is true we cannot explain how God's eternally active energy does prolong itself eternally. But what is this difficulty compared with those which, with the hypothesis of Eunomius, must be swallowed? We must suppose, so that the 'Agennhtoj, since His energy is not eternal, because in a given place and moment, and that He was at the point the Gennhtoj. We must suppose that this activity communicated to a creature that privilege of the Uncreated which is most incommunicable, viz. the power of creating other creatures. We must suppose that these creatures, unconnected as they are with the 'Agennhtoj (since He has not made them), nevertheless conceive of and see beyond their own creator a Being, who cannot be anything to them. [This direct intuition on our part of the Deity was a special tenet of Eunomius.] Finally we must suppose that these creatures, seeing that Eunomius agrees with orthodox believers that the end of this world will be but a commencement, will enter into new relations with this 'Agennhtoj, when the Son shall have submitted all things to the Father."

96 Heb. xi. 1; 2 Cor. iv. 18.

97 antidiastolh.

98 is presented alive; cwogoneitai. This is the LXX., not the classical use, of the word. Cf. Exod. i. 17; Judges viii. 19, &c. It is reproduced in the speech of S. Stephen, Acts vii. 19: cf. Luke xvii. 33, "shall preserve (his life).'

99 apokritikouj, active, so, the Medical writers. The Latin is `in meatus destinato descendit

0' takes it passive (apokritikouj).

100 neura. So since Galen's time: not `tendon.


101 Punctuating paraskeuazetai, epeidh, epeidh, k.t.l. instead of a full stop, as Oehler.

102 Gregory replaces `sameness

0' (in the case of the energies in Eunomius argument) by `likeness

0' since the Father and the Son could not be said to be the same, and their energies, therefore, are not identical but similar.

103 epi to en.

104 ulraj.

105 en panti tw ec autou.

106 Reading autoj; instead of Oehler's autoj.

107 only one thing amongst the things which follow, &c. The Latin translation is manifestly wrong here, "si recte a te assertum est, iis etiam quae ad primam substantian sequuntur aliquam operationem inesse." The Greek is eiper h energeia twn parepomenwn tij einai tu powth ousia memaotuohtai.

108 kata analuoin. So Plutarch, ii. 76 E. and see above (cap. 25, note 6.).