Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.15 Book III Part 2

Online Resource Library

Commentary Index | Return to | Download

Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.15 Book III Part 2

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.15 Book III Part 2

Other Subjects in this Topic:

§3. He Then Shows, from the Instance of Adam and Abel, and Other Exam Files, the Absence of Alienation of Essence in the Case of the "Generate" And "Ungenerate."

Now seeing that Eunomius' conflict with himself has been made manifest, where he has been shown to contradict himself, at one time saying, "He ought to be called `Son,' according to nature, because He is begotten," at another that, because He is created, He is no more called "Son," but a "product," I think it right that the careful and attentive reader, as it is not possible, when two statements are mutually at variance, that the truth should be found equally in both, should reject of the two that which is impious and blasphemous-that, I mean, with regard to the "creature" and the "product," and should assent to that only which is of orthodox tendency, which confesses that the appellation of "Son" naturally attaches to the Only-begotten God: so that the word of truth would seem to be recommended even by the voice of its enemies.

I resume my discourse, however, taking up that point of his argument which we originally set aside. "We do not refuse," he says, "to call the Son. seeing He is generate, even by the name of `product of generationhyperlink ,' since the generated essence itself, and the appellation of `Son,' make such a relation of words appropriate" Meanwhile let the reader who is critically following the argument remember this, that in speaking of the "generated essence" in the case of the Only-begotten, he by consequence allows us to speak of the "ungenerate essence" in the case of the Father, so that neither absence of generation, nor generation, can any longer be supposed to constitute the essence, but the essence must be taken separately, and its being, or not being begotten, must be conceived separately by means of the peculiar attributes contemplated in it. Let us, however, consider more carefully his argument on this point. He says that an essence has been begotten, and that the name of this generated essence is "Son." Well, at this point our argument will convict that of our opponents on two grounds, first, of an attempt at knavery, secondly, of slackness in their attempt against ourselves. For he is playing the knave when he speaks of "generation of essence," in order to establish his opposition between the essences, when once they are divided in respect of a difference of nature between "generate" and "ungenerate": while the slackness of their attempt is shown by the very positions their knavery tries to establish. For he who says the essence is generate, clearly defines generation as being something else distinct from the essence, so that the significance of generation cannot be assigned to the word "essence." For he has not in this passage represented the matter as he often does, so as to say that generation is itself the essence, but acknowledges that the essence is generated, so that there is produced in his readers a distinct notion in the case of each word: for one conception arises in him who hears that it was generated, and another is called up by the name of "essence." Our argument may be made clearer by example. The Lord says in the Gospelhyperlink that a woman, when her travail is drawing near, is in sorrow, but afterwards rejoices in gladness because a man is born into the world. As then in this passage we derive from the Gospel two distinct conceptions,-one the birth which we conceive to be by way of generation, the other that which results from the birth (for the birth is not the man, but the man is by the birth),-so here too, when Eunomius confesses that the essence was generated, we learn by the latter word that the essence comes from something, and by the Former we conceive that subject itself which has its real being from something. If then the signification of essence is one thing, and the word expressing generation suggests to us another conception, their clever contrivances are quite gone to ruin, like earthen vessels hurled one against the other, and mutually smashed to pieces. For it will no longer be possible for them, if they apply the opposition of "generate" and "ungenerate" to the essence of the Father and the Son, to apply at the same time to the things themselves the mutual conflict between these nameshyperlink . For as it is confessed by Eunomius that the essence is generate (seeing that the example from the Gospel explains the meaning of such a phrase, where, when we hear that a man is generated, we do not conceive the man to be the same thing as his generation, but receive a separate conception in each of the two words), heresy will surely no longer be permitted to express by such words her doctrine of the difference of the essences. In order, however, that our account of these matters may be cleared up as far as possible, let us once more discuss the point in the following way. He Who framed the universe made the nature of man with all things in the beginning, and after Adam was made, He then appointed for men the law of generation one from another, saying, "Be fruitful and multiplyhyperlink ." Now while Abel came into existence by way of generation, what reasonable man would deny that, in the actual sense of human generation, Adam existed ungenerately? Yet the first man had in himself the complete definition of man's essential nature, and he who was generated of him was enrolled under the same essential name. But if the essence that was generated was made anything other than that which was not generated, the same essential name would not apply to both: for of those things whose essence is different, the essential name also is not the same. Since, then, the essential nature of Adam and of Abel is marked by the same characteristics, we must certainly agree that one essence is in both, and that the one and the other are exhibited in the same nature. For Adam and Abel are both one so far as the definition of their nature is concerned, but are distinguished one from the other without confusion by the individual attributes observed in each of them. We cannot therefore properly say that Adam generated another essence besides himself, but rather that of himself he generated another self, with whom was produced the whole definition of the essence of him who generated him. What, then, we learn in the case of human nature by means of the inferential guidance afforded to us by the definition, this I think we ought to take for our guidance also to the pure apprehension of the Divine doctrines. For when we have shaken off from the Divine and exalted doctrines all carnal and material notions, we shall be most surely led by the remaining conception, when it is purged of such ideas, to the lofty and unapproachable heights. It is confessed even by our adversaries that God, Who is over all, both is and is called the Father of the Only-begotten, and they moreover give to the Only-begotten God, Who is of the Father, the name of "begotten," by reason of His being generated. Since then among men the word "father" has certain significances attaching to it, from which the pure nature is alien, it behoves a man to lay aside all material conceptions which enter in by association with the carnal significance of the word "father," and to form in the case of the God and Father a conception befitting the Divine nature, expressive only of the reality of the relationship. Since, therefore, in the notion of a human father there is included not only all that the flesh suggests to our thoughts, but a certain notion of interval is also undoubtedly conceived with the idea of human fatherhood, it would be well, in the case of the Divine generation, to reject, together with bodily pollution, the notion of interval also, that so what properly belongs to matter may be completely purged away, and the transcendent generation may be clear, not only from the idea of passion, but from that of interval. Now he who says that God is a Father will unite with the thought that God is, the further thought that He is something: for that which has its being from some beginning, certainly also derives from something the beginning of its being, whatever it is: but He in Whose case being had no beginning, has not His beginning from anything, even although we contemplate in Him some other attribute than simple existence. Well, God is a Father. It follows that He is what He is from eternity: for He did not become, but is a Father: for in God that which was, both is and will be. On the other hand, if He once was not anything, then He neither is nor will be that thing: for He is not believed to be the Father of a Being such that it may be piously asserted that God once existed by Himself without that Being. For the Father is the Father of Life, and Truth, and Wisdom, and Light, and Sanctification, and Power, and all else of a like kind that the Only-begotten is or is called. Thus when the adversaries allege that the Light "once was not," I know not to which the greater injury is done, whether to the Light, in that the Light is not, or to Him that has the Light, in that He has not the Light. So also with Life and Truth and Power, and all the other characters in which the Only-begotten fills the Father's bosom, being all things in His own fulness. For the absurdity will be equal either way, and the impiety against the Father will equal the blasphemy against the Son: for in saying that the Lord "once was not," you will not merely assert the non-existence of Power, but you will be saying that the Power of God, Who is the Father of the Power, "was not." Thus the assertion made by your doctrine that the Son "once was not," establishes nothing else than a destitution of all good in the case of the Father. See to what an end these wise men's acuteness leads, how by them the word of the Lord is made good, which says, "He that despiseth Me despiseth Him that sent Mehyperlink :" for by the very arguments by which they despise the existence at any time of the Only-begotten, they also dishonour the Father, stripping off by their doctrine from the Father's glory every good name and conception.

§4. He Thus Shows the Oneness of the Eternal Son with the Father the Identity of Essence and the Community of Nature (Wherein is a Natural Inquiry into the Production of Wine), and that the Terms "Son" And "Product" In the Naming of the Only-Begotten Include a Like Idea of Relationship.

What has been said, therefore, has clearly exposed the slackness which is to be found in the knavery of our author, who, while he goes about to establish the opposition of the essence of the Only-begotten to that of the Father, by the method of calling the one "ungenerate," and the other "generate," stands convicted of playing the fool with his inconsistent arguments. For it was shown from his own words, first, that the name of "essence" means one thing, and that of "generation" another; and next, that there did not come into existence, with the Son, any new and different essence besides the essence of the Father, but that what the Father is as regards the definition of His nature, that also He is Who is of the Father, as the nature does not change into diversity in the Person of the Son, according to the truth of the argument displayed by our consideration of Adam and Abel. For as, in that instance, he that was not generated after a like sort was yet, so far as concerns the definition of essence, the same with him that was generated, and Abel's generation did not produce any change in the essence, so, in the case of these pure doctrines, the Only-begotten God did not, by His own generation, produce in Himself any change in the essence of Him Who is ungenerate (coming forth, as the Gospel says, from the Father, and being in the Father,) but is, according to the simple and homely language of the creed we profess, "Light of Light, very God of very God," the one being all that the other is, save being that other. With regard, however, to the aim for the sake of which he carries on this system-making, I think there is no need for me at present to express any opinion, whether it is audacious and dangerous, or a thing allowable and free from danger, to transform the phrases which are employed to signify the Divine nature from one to another, and to call Him Who is generated by the name of "product of generation."

I let these matters pass, that my discourse may not busy itself too much in the strife against lesser points, and neglect the greater; but I say that we ought carefully to consider the question whether the natural relation does introduce the use of these terms: for this surely Eunomius asserts, that with the affinity of the appellations there is also asserted an essential relationship. For he would not say, I presume, that the mere names themselves, apart from the sense of the things signified, have any mutual relation or affinity; but all discern the relationship or diversity of the appellations by the meanings which the words express. If, therefore, he confesses that "the Son" has a natural relation with "the Father," let us leave the appellations, and consider the force that is found in their significations, whether in their affinity we discern diversity of essence, or that which is kindred and characteristic. To say that we find diversity is downright madness. For how does something without kinship or community "preserve order," connected and conformable, in the names, where "the generated essence itself," as he says, "and the appellation of `Son,' make such a relation of words appropriate"? If, on the other hand, he should say that these appellations signify relationship, he will necessarily appear in the character of an advocate of the community of 'essence, and as maintaining the fact that by affinity of names is signified also the connection of subjects: and this he often does in his composition without being aware of ithyperlink . For, by the arguments wherewith he endeavours to destroy the truth, he is often himself unwittingly drawn into an advocacy of the very doctrines against which he is contending: Some such thing the history tells us concerning Saul, that once, when moved with wrath against the prophets, he was overcome by grace, and was found as one of the inspired, (the Spirit of prophecy willing, as I suppose, to instruct the apostate by means of himself,) whence the surprising nature of the event became a proverb in his after life, as the history records such an expression by way of wonder, "Is Saul also among the prophetshyperlink ?"

At what point, then, does Eunomius assent to the truth? When he says that the Lord Himself, "being the Son of the living God, not being ashamed of His birth from the Virgin, often named Himself, in His own sayings, `the Son of Man'"? For this phrase we also allege for proof of the community of essence, because the name of "Son" shows the community of nature to be equal in both cases. For as He is called the Son of Man by reason of the kindred of His flesh to her of whom He was born, so also He is conceived, surely, as the Son of God, by reason of the connection of His essence with that from which He has His existence, and this argument is the greatest weapon of the truth. For nothing so clearly points to Him Who is the "mediator between God and manhyperlink " (as the great Apostle called Him), as the name of "Son," equally applicable to either nature, Divine or Human. For the same Person is Son of God, and was made, in the Incarnation, Son of Man, that, by His communion with each, He might link together by Himself what were divided by nature. Now if, in becoming Son of Man, he were without participation in human nature, it would be logical to say that neither. does He share in the Divine essence, though He is Son of God. But if the whole compound nature of man was in Him (for He was "in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sinhyperlink ), it is surely necessary to believe that every property of the transcendent essence is also in Him, as the Word "Son" claims for Him both alike-the Human in the man, but in the God the Divine.

If then the appellations, as Eunomius says, indicate relationship, and the existence of relationship is observed in the things, not in the mere sound of the words (and by things I mean the things conceived in themselves, if it be not over-bold thus to speak of the Son and the Father), who would deny that the very champion of blasphemy has by his own action been dragged into the advocacy of orthodoxy, overthrowing by his own means his own arguments, and proclaiming community of essence in the case of the Divine doctrines? For the argument that he unwillingly casts into the scale on the side of truth does not speak falsely as regards this point,-that He would not have been called Son if the natural conception of the names did not verify this calling. For as a bench is not called the son of the workman, and no sane man would say that the builder engendered the house, and we do not say that the vineyard is the "producthyperlink " of the vine-dresser, but call what a man makes his work, and him who is begotten of him the son of a man, (in order, I suppose, that the proper meaning might be attached by means of the names to the respective subjects,) so too, when we are taught that the Only-begotten is Son of God, we do not by this appellation understand a creature of God, but what the word "Son" in its signification really displays. And even though wine be named by Scripture the "producthyperlink " of the vine, not even so will our argument with regard to the orthodox doctrine suffer by this identity of name. For we do not call wine the "product" of the oak, nor the acorn the "product" of the vine, but we use the word only if there is some natural community between the "product" and that from which it comes. For the moisture in the vine, which is drawn out from the root through the stem by the pith, is, in its natural power, water: but, as it passes in orderly sequence along the ways of nature, and flows from the lowest to the highest, it changes to the quality of wine, a change to which the rays of the sun contribute in some degree, which by their warmth draw out the moisture from the depth to the shoots, and by a proper and suitable process of ripening make the moisture wine: so that, so far as their nature is concerned, there is no difference between the moisture that exists in the vine and the wine that is produced from it. For the one form of moisture comes from the other, and one could not say that the cause of wine is anything else than the moisture which naturally exists in the shoots. But, so far as moisture is concerned, the differences of quality produce no alteration, but are found when some peculiarity discerns the moisture which is in the form of wine from that which is in the shoots, one of the two forms being accompanied by astringency, or sweetness, or sourness, so that in substance the two are the same, but are distinguished by qualitative differences. As, therefore, when we hear from Scripture that the Only-begotten God is Son of man, we learn by the kindred expressed in the name His kinship with true man, so even, if the Son be called, in the adversaries' phrase, a "product," we none the less learn, even by this name, His kinship in essence with Him that has "producedhyperlink " Him, by the fact that wine, which is called the "product" of the vine has been found not to be alien, as concerns the idea of moisture, from the natural power that resides in the vine. Indeed, if one were judiciously to examine the things that are said by our adversaries, they tend to our doctrine, and their sense cries out against their own fabrications, as they strive at all points to establish their "difference in essence." Yet it is by no means an easy matter to conjecture whence they were led to such conceptions. For if the appellation of "Son" does not merely signify "being from something," but by its signification presents to us specially, as Eunomius himself says, relationship in point of nature, and wine is not called the "product" of an oak, and those "products" or "generation of vipershyperlink ," of which the Gospel somewhere speaks, are makes and not sheep, it is clear, that in the case of the Only-begotten also, the appellation of "Son" or of "product" would not convey the meaning of relationship to something of another kind: but even if, according to our adversaries' phrase, He is called a "product of generation," and the name of "Son," as they confess, has reference to nature, the Son is surely of the essence of Him Who has generated or "produced" Him, not of that of some other among the things which we contemplate as external to that nature. And if He is truly from Him, He is not alien from all that belongs to Him from Whom He is, as in the other cases too it was shown that all that has its existence from anything by way of generation is clearly of the same kind as that from whence it came.

§5. He Discusses the Incomprehensibility of the Divine Essence, and the Saying to the Woman of Samaria, "Ye Worship Ye Know Not What."

Now if any one should ask for some interpretation, and description, and explanation of the Divine essence, we are not going to deny that this kind of wisdom we are unlearned, acknowledging only so much as this, that it is not possible that which is by nature infinite should be comprehended in any conception expressed by words. The fact that the Divine greatness has no limit is proclaimed by prophecy, which declares expressly that of His splendour, His glory, His holiness, "there is no endhyperlink :" and if His surroundings have no limit, much more is He Himself in His essence, whatever it may be, comprehended by no limitation in any way. If then interpretation by way of words and names implies by its meaning some sort of comprehension of the subject, and if, on the other hand, that which is unlimited cannot be comprehended, no one could reasonably blame us for ignorance, if we are not bold in respect of what none should venture upon. For by what name can I describe the incomprehensible? by what speech can I declare the unspeakable? Accordingly, since the Deity is too excellent and lofty to be expressed in words, we have learnt to honour in silence what transcends speech and thought: and if he who "thinketh more highly than he ought to thinkhyperlink ," tramples upon this cautious speech of ours making a jest of our ignorance of things incomprehensible, and recognizes a difference of unlikeness in that which is without figure, or limit, or size, or quantity (I mean in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit), and brings forward to reproach our ignorance that phrase which is continually alleged by the disciples of deceit, "`Ye worship ye know not whathyperlink ,' if ye know not the essence of that which ye worship," we shall follow the advice of the prophet, and not fear the reproach of foolshyperlink , nor be led by their reviling to talk boldly of things unspeakable, making that unpractised speaker Paul our teacher in the mysteries that transcend knowledge, who is so far from thinking that the Divine nature is within the reach of human perception, that he calls even the judgments of God "unsearchable," and His ways "past finding outhyperlink ," and affirms that the things promised to them that love Him, for their good deeds done in this life, are above comprehension so that it is not possible to behold them with the eye, nor to receive them by hearing, nor to contain them in the hearthyperlink . Learning this, therefore, from Paul, we boldly declare that, not only are the judgments of God too high for those who try to search them out, but that the ways also that lead to the knowledge of Him are even until now untrodden and impassable. For this is what we understand that the Apostle wishes to signify, when he calls the ways that lead to the incomprehensible "past finding out," showing by the phrase that that knowledge is unattainable by human calculations, and that no one ever yet set his understanding on such a path of reasoning, or showed any trace or sign of an approach, by way of perception, to the things incomprehensible.

Learning these things, then, from the lofty words of the Apostle, we argue, by the passage quoted, in this way:-If His judgments cannot be searched out, and His ways are not traced, and the promise of His good things transcends every representation that our conjectures can frame, by how much more is His actual Godhead higher and loftier, in respect of being unspeakable and unapproachable, than those attributes which are conceived as accompanying it, whereof the divinely instructed Paul declares that there is no knowledge:-and by this means we confirm in ourselves the doctrine they d ride, confessing ourselves inferior to them in the knowledge of those things which are beyond the range of knowledge, and declare that we really worship what we know. Now we know the loftiness of the glory of Him Whom we worship, by the very fact that we are not able by reasoning to comprehend in our thoughts the incomparable character of His greatness; and that saying of our Lord to the Samaritan woman, which is brought forward against us by our enemies, might more properly be addressed to them. For the words, "Ye worship ye know not what," the Lord speaks to the Samaritan woman, prejudiced as she was by corporeal ideas in her opinions concerning God: and to her the phrase well applies, because the Samaritans, thinking that they worship God, and at the same time supposing the Deity to be corporeally settled in place, adore Him in name only, worshipping something else, and not God. For nothing is Divine that is conceived as being circumscribed, but it belongs to the Godhead to be in all places, and to pervade all things, and not to be limited by anything: so that those who fight against Christ find the phrase they adduce against us turned into an accusation of themselves. For, as the Samaritans, supposing the Deity to be compassed round by some circumscription of place, were rebuked by the words they heard, "`Ye worship ye know not what,' and your service is profitless to you, for a God that is deemed to be settled in any place is no God,"-so one might well say to the new Samaritans, "In supposing the Deity to be limited by the absence of generation, as it were by some local limit, `ye worship ye know not what,' doing service to Him indeed as God, but not knowing that the infinity of God exceeds all the significance and comprehension that names can furnish."

§6. Thereafter He Expounds the Appellation of "Son," And of "Product of Generation," And Very Many Varieties of "Sons," Of God, of Men, of Rams, of Perdition, of Light, and of Day.

But our discourse has diverged too far from the subject before us, in following one the questions which arise from time to time by way of inference. Let us therefore once more resume its sequence, as I imagine that the phrase trader examination has been sufficiently shown, by what we have said, to be contradictory not only to the truth, but also to itself. For if, according to their view, the natural relation to the Father is established by the appellation of "the Son," and so with that of the "product of generation" to Him Who has begotten Him (as these men's wisdom falsely models the terms significant of the Divine nature into a verbal arrangement, according to some grammatical frivolity), no one could longer doubt that the mutual relation of the names which is established by nature is a proof of their kindred, or rather of their identity of essence. But let not our discourse merely turn about our adversaries' words, that the orthodox doctrine may not seem to gain the victory only by the weakness of those who fight against it, but appear to have an abundant supply of strength in itself. Let the adverse argument, therefore, be strengthened as much as may be by us ourselves with more energetic advocacy, that the superiority of our force may be recognized with full confidence, as we bring to the unerring test of truth those arguments also which our adversaries have omitted. He who contends on behalf of our adversaries will perhaps say that the name of "Son," or "product of generation," does not by any means establish the fact of kindred in nature. For in Scripture the term "child of wrathhyperlink " is used, and "son of perditionhyperlink ," and "product of a viperhyperlink ;" and in such names Surely no community of nature is apparent. For Judas, who is called "the son of perdition," is not in his substance the same with perdition, according to what we understand by the wordhyperlink . For the signification of the "man" in Judas is one thing, and that of "perdition" is another. And the argument may be established equally from an opposite instance. For those who are called in a certain sense "children of light," and "children of the dayhyperlink ," are not the same with light and day in respect of the definition of their nature, and the stones are made Abraham's childrenhyperlink when they claim their kindred with him by faith and works; and those who are "led by the Spirit of God," as the Apostle says, are called "Sons of Godhyperlink ," without being the same with God in respect of nature; and one may collect many such instances from the inspired Scripture, by means of which deceit, like some image decked with the testimonies of Scripture, masquerades in the likeness of truth.

Well, what do we say to this? The divine Scripture knows how to use the word "Son" in both senses, so that in some cases such an appellation is derived from nature, in others it is adventitious and artificial. For when it speaks of "sons of men," or "sons of ramshyperlink ," it marks the essential relation of that which is begotten to that from which it has its being: but when it speaks of "sons of power," or "children of God," it presents to us that kinship which is the result of choice. And, moreover, in the opposite sense, too, the same persons are called "sons of Eli," and "sons of Belialhyperlink ," the appellation of "sons" being easily adapted to either idea. For when they are called "sons of Eli," they are declared to have natural relationship to him, but in being called "sons of Belial," they are reproved for the wickedness of their choice, as no longer emulating their father in their life, but addicting their own purpose to sin. In the case, then, of this lower nature of ours, and of the things with which we are concerned, by reason of human nature being equally inclined to either side (I mean, to vice and to virtue), it is in our power to become sons either of night or of day, while our nature yet remains, so far as the chief part of it is concerned, within its proper limits. For neither is he 'who by sin becomes a child of wrath alienated from his human generation, nor does he who by choice addicts himself to good reject his human origin by the refinement of his habits, but, while their nature in each case remains the same, the differences of their purpose assume the names of their relationship, according as they become either children of God by virtue, or of the opposite by vice.

But how does Eunomius, in the case of the divine doctrines at least-he who "preserves the natural order" (for I will use our author's very words), "and abides by those things which are known to us from the beginning, and does not refuse to call Him that is begotten by the name of `product of generation,' since the generated essence itself" (as he says) "and the appellation of `Son' makes such a relation of words appropriate",-how does he alienate the Begotten from essential kindred with Him that begat Him? For in the case of those who are called "sons" or "products" by way of reproach, or again where some praise accompanies such names, we cannot say that any one is called "a child of wrath," being at the same time actually begotten by wrath; nor again had any one the day for his mother, in a corporeal sense, that he should be called its son; but it is the difference of their will which gives occasion for names of such relationship. Here, however, Eunomius says, "we do not refuse to call the Son, seeing He is begotten, by the name of `product of generation,' since the generated essence," he tells us, "and the appellation of `Son,' makes such a relation of words appropriate." If, then, he confesses that such a relation of words is made appropriate by the fact that the Son is really a "product of generation," how is it opportune to assign such a rationale of names, alike to those which are used inexactly by way of metaphor, and to those where the natural relation, as Eunomius tells us, makes such a use of names appropriate? Surely such an account is true only in the case of those whose nature is a border-land between virtue and vice, where one often shares in turn opposite classes of names, becoming a child, now of light, then again of darkness, by reason of affinity to the good or to its opposite. But where contraries have no place, one could no longer say that the word "Son" is applied metaphorically, in like manner as in the case of those who by choice appropriate the title to themselves. For one could not arrive at this view, that, as a man casting off the works of darkness becomes, by his decent life, a child of light, so too the Only-begotten God received the more honourable name as the result of a change from the inferior state. For one who is a man becomes a son of God by being joined to Christ by spiritual generation: but He Who by Himself makes the man to be a son of God does not need another Son to bestow on Him the adoption of a son, but has the name also of that which He is by nature. A man himself changes himself, exchanging the old man for the new; but to what shall God be changed, so that He may receive what He has not? A man puts off himself, and puts on the Divine nature; but what does He put off, or in what does He array Himself, Who is always the same? A man becomes a son of God, receiving what he has not, and laying aside what he has; but He Who has never been in the state of vice has neither anything to receive nor anything to relinquish. Again, the man may be on the one hand truly called some one's son, when one speaks with reference to his nature; and, on the other hand, he may be so called inexactly, when the choice of his life imposes the name. But God, being One Good, in a single and uncompounded nature, looks ever the same way, and is never changed by the impulse of choice, but always wishes what He is, and is, assuredly, what He wishes: so that He is in both respects properly and truly called Son of God, since His nature contains the good, and His choice also is never severed from that which is more excellent, so that this word is employed, without inexactness, as His name. Thus there is no room for these arguments (which, in the person of our adversaries, we have been opposing to ourselves), to be brought forward by our adversaries as a demurrer to the affinity in respect of nature.

§7. Then He Ends the Book with an Exposition of the Divine and Human Names of the Only-Begotten, and a Discussion of the Terms "Generate" And "Ungenerate."

But as, I know not how or why, they hate and abhor the truth, they give Him indeed the name of "Son," but in order to avoid the testimony which this word would give to the community of essence, they separate the word from the sense included in the name, and concede to the Only-begotten the name of "Son" as an empty thing, vouchsafing to Him only the mere sound of the word. That what I say is true, and that I am not taking a false aim at the adversaries' mark, may be clearly learnt from the actual attacks they make upon the truth. Such are those arguments which are brought forward by them to establish their blasphemy, that we are taught by the divine Scriptures many names of the Only-begotten-a stone, an axe, a rock, a foundation, bread, a vine, a door, a way, a shepherd, a fountain, a tree, resurrection, a teacher, light, and many such names. But we may not piously use any of these names of the Lord, understanding it according to its immediate sense. For surely it would be a most absurd thing to think that what is incorporeal and immaterial, simple, and without figure, should be fashioned according to the apparent senses of these names, whatever they may be, so that when we hear of an axe we should think of a particular figure of iron, or when we hear of light, of the light in the sky, or of a vine, of that which grows by the planting of shoots, or of any one of the other names, as its ordinary use suggests to us to think; but we transfer the sense of these names to what better becomes the Divine nature, and form some other conception, and if we do designate Him thus, it is not as being any of these things, according to the definition of His nature, but as being called these things while He is conceived by means of the names employed as something else than the things themselves. But if such names are indeed truly predicated of the Only-begotten God, without including the declaration of His nature, they say that, as a consequence, neither should we admit the signification of "Son," as it is understood according to the prevailing use, as expressive of nature, but should find some sense of this word also, different from that which is ordinary and obvious. These, and others like these, are their philosophical arguments to establish that the Son is not what He is and is called. Our argument was hastening to a different goal, namely to show that Eunomius' new discourse is false and inconsistent, and argues neither with the truth nor with itself. Since, however, the arguments which we employ to attack their doctrine are brought into the discussion as a sort of support for their blasphemyhyperlink , it may be well first briefly to discusst his point, and then to proceed to the orderly examination of his writings.

What can we say, then, to such things without relevance? That while, as they say, the names which Scripture applies to the Only-begotten are many, we assert that none of the other names is closely connected with the reference to Him that begat Him. For we do not employ the name "Stone," or "Resurrection," or "Shepherd," or "Light," or any of the rest, as we do the name "Son of the Father," with a reference to the God of all. It is possible to make a twofold division of the signification of the Divine names, as it were by a scientific rule: for to one class belongs the indication of His lofty and unspeakable glory; the other class indicates the variety of the providential dispensation: so that, as we suppose, if that which received His benefits did not exist, neither would those words be applied with respect to themhyperlink which indicate His bounty. All those on the other hand, that express the attributes of God, are applied suitably and properly to the Only-begotten God, apart from the objects of the dispensation. But that we may set forth this doctrine clearly, we wilt examine the names themselves. The Lord would not have been called a vine, save for the planting of those who are rooted in Him, nor a shepherd, had not the sheep of the house of Israel been lost, nor a physician, save for the sake of them that were sick, nor would He have received for Himself the rest of these names, had He not made the titles appropriate, in a manner advantageous with regard to those who were benefited by Him, by some action of His providence. What need is there to mention individual instances, and to lengthen our argument upon points that are acknowledged? On the other hand, He is certainly called "Son," and "Right Hand," and "Only-begotten," and "Word," and "Wisdom," and "Power," and all other such relative names, as being named together with the Father in a certain relative conjunction. For He is called the "Power of God," and the "Right Hand of God," and the "Wisdom of God," and the "Son and Only-begotten of the Father," and the "Word with God," and so of the rest. Thus, it follows from what we have stated, that in each of the names we are to contemplate some suitable sense appropriate to the subject, so that we may not miss the right understanding of them, and go astray from the doctrine of godliness. As, then, we transfer each of the other terms to that sense in which they may be applied to God, and reject in their case the immediate sense, so as not to understand material light, or a trodden way, or the bread which is produced by husbandry, or the word that is expressed by speech, but, instead of these, all those thoughts which present to us the magnitude of the power of the Word of God,-so, if one were to reject the ordinary and natural sense of the word "Son," by which we learn that He is of the same essence as Him that begat Him, he will of course transfer the name to some more divine interpretation. For since the change to the more glorious meaning which has been made in each of the other terms has adapted them to set forth the Divine power, it surely follows that the significance of this name also should be transferred to what is loftier. But what more Divine sense could we find in the appellation of "Son," if we were to reject, according to Our adversaries' view, the natural relation to Him that begat Him? I presume no one is so daring in impiety as to think that, in speech concerning the Divine nature, what is humble and mean is more appropriate than what is lofty and great. If they can discover, therefore, any sense of more exalted character than this, so that to be of the nature of the Father seems a thing unworthy to conceive of the Only-begotten, let them tell us whether they know, in their secret wisdom, anything more exalted than the nature of the Father, that, in raising the Only-begotten God to this level, they should lift Him also above His relation to the Father. But if the majesty of the Divine nature transcends all height, and excels every power that calls forth our wonder, what idea remains that can carry the meaning of the name "Son" to something greater still? Since it is acknowledged, therefore, that every significant phrase employed of the Only-begotten, even if the name be derived from the ordinary use of our lower life, is properly applied to Him with a difference of sense in the direction of greater majesty, and if it is shown that we can find no more noble conception of the title "Son" than that which presents to us the reality of His relationship to Him that begat Him, I think that we need spend no more time on this topic, as our argument has sufficiently shown that it is not proper to interpret the title of "Son" in like manner with the other names.

But we must bring back our enquiry once more to the book. It does not become the same persons "not to refuse" (for I will use their own words) "to call Him that is generated a `product of generation,' since both the generated essence itself and the appellation of Son make such a relation of words appropriate," and again to change the names which naturally belong to Him into metaphorical interpretations: so that one of two things has befallen them,-either their first attack has failed, and it is in vain that they fly to "natural order" to establish the necessity of calling Him that is generated a "product of generation"; or, if this argument holds good, they will find their second argument brought to nought by what they have already established. For the person who is called a "product of generation" because He is generated, cannot, for the very same reason, be possibly called a "product of making," or a "product of creation." For the sense of the several terms differs very widely, and one who uses his phrases advisedly ought to employ words with due regard to the subject, that we may not, by improperly interchanging the sense of our phrases, fall into any confusion of ideas. Hence we call that which is wrought out by a craft the work of the craftsman, and call him who is begotten by a man that man's son; and no sane person would call the work a son, or the son a work; for that is the language of one who confuses and obscures the true sense by an erroneous use of names. It follows that we must truly affirm of the Only-begotten one of these two things,-if He is a Son, that He is not to be called a "product of creation," and if He is created, that He is alien from the appellation of "Sonhyperlink ," just as heaven and sea and earth, and all individual things, being things created, do not assume the name of "Son." But since Eunomius bears witness that the Only-begotten God is begotten (and the evidence of enemies is of aditional value for establishing the truth), he surely testifies also, by saying that He is begotten, to the fact that He is not created. Enough, however, on these points: for though many arguments crowd upon us, we will be content, lest their number lead to disproportion, with those we have already adduced on the subject before us.


53 gennhma. This word, in what follows, is sometimes translated simply by the word "product," where it is not contrasted with poihma (the "product of making"), or where the argument depends especially upon its grammatical form (which indicates that the thing denoted is the result of a process), rather than upon the idea of the particular process.

54 Cf. S. John xvi. 21.

55 If, that is, they speak of the "generated essence" in contra-distinction to "ungenerate essence" they are precluded from saying that the essence of the Son is that He is begotten, and that the essence of the Father is that He is ungenerate: that which constitutes the essence cannot be made an epithet of the essence.

56 Gen. i. 28.

57 S. Luke x. 16.

58 Oehler's punctuation is here slightly altered.

59 1 Sam. xix. 24.

60 1 Tim. ii. 5.

61 Heb. iv. 15.

62 gennhma.

63 gennhma. E. g. S. Matt. xxvi. 29.

64 gegennhkota: which, as answering to gennhma, is here translated "produced" rather than "begotten."

65 gennhmata exidnwn. E. g. S. Matt. iii. 7.

66 Cf. Ps. cxlv. 3.

67 Rom. xii. 3.

68 S. John iv. 22.

69 Cf. Is. Ii. 7.

70 Rom. xi. 33.

71 Cf. 1 Cor. ii 9.

72 Cf. Eph. ii. 3.

73 S. John xvii. 12.

74 Cf. S. Matt. iii. 7.

75 Reading kata to nooumenon, for kata ton nooumenon as the words stand in the text of Oehler, who cites no mss. in favour of the change which he has made.

76 Cf. 1 Thess. v. 5.

77 Cf. S. Matt. iii. 9.

78 Rom. viii. 14.

79 Ps. xxix. 1 (LXX.).

80 1 Sam. ii. 12. The phrase is uioi loimoi, or "pestilent sons," as in the LXX. Gregory's argument would seem to require the reading uioi loimou.

81 The meaning of this seems to be that the Anomoean party make the same charge of "inconsistency" against the orthodox, which Gregory makes against Eunomius, basing that charge on the fact that the title "Son" is not interpreted in the same figurative way as the other titles recited. Gregory accordingly proceeds to show why the name of "Son" stands on a different level from those titles, and is to be treated in a different way.

82 ep autwn: perhaps "with reference to man." the plural being employed here to denote the race of men, spoken of in the preceding clause collectively as to to euergetoumenon.

83 Oehler's punctuation here seems faulty, and is accordingly not followed.