Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.16 Book IV Part 1

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.16 Book IV Part 1

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.16 Book IV Part 1

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Book IV

§1. The Fourth Book Discusses the Account of the Nature of the "Product of Generation," And of the Passionless Generation of the Only-Begotten, and the Text, "In the Beginning Was the Word," And the Birth of the Virgin.

It is, perhaps, time to examine in our discourse that account of the nature of the "product of generation" which is the subject of his ridiculous philosophizing. He says, then (I will repeat word for word his beautifully composed argument against the truth):-"Who is so indifferent and inattentive to the nature of things as not to know, that of all bodies which are on earth, in their generating and being generated, in their activity and passivity, those which generate are found on examination to communicate their own essence, and those which are generated naturally receive the same, inasmuch as the material cause and the supply which flows in from without are common to both; and the things begotten are generated by passion, and those which beget, naturally have an action which is not pure, by reason of their nature being linked with passions of all kinds?" See in what fitting style he discusses in his speculation the pro-temporal generation of the Word of God that was in the beginning! he who closely examines the nature of things, bodies on the earth, and material causes, and passion of things generating and generated, and all the rest of it,-at which any man of understanding would blush, even were it said of ourselves, if it were our nature, subject as it is to passion, which is thus exposed to scorn by his words. Yet such is our author's brilliant enquiry into nature with regard to the Only-begotten God. Let us lay aside complaints, however, (for what will sighing do to help us to overthrow the malice of our enemy?) and make generally known, as best we may, the sense of what we have quoted-concerning what sort of "product" the speculation was proposed,-that which exists according to the flesh, or that which is to be contemplated in the Only-begotten God.

As the speculation is two-fold, concerning that life which is Divine, simple, and immaterial, and concerning that existence which is material and subject to passion, and as the word "generation" is used of both, we must needs make our distinction sharp and clear, lest the ambiguity of the term "generation" should in any way pervert the truth. Since, then, the entrance into being through the flesh is material, and is promoted by passion, while that which is bodiless, impalpable, without form, and free from any material commixture, is alien from every condition that admits of passion, it is proper to consider about what sort of generation we are enquiring-that which is pure and Divine, or that which is subject to passion and pollution. Now, no one, I suppose, would deny that with regard to the Only-begotten God, it is pre-temporal existence that is proposed for the considerationhyperlink of Eunomius' discourse. Why, then, does he linger over this account of corporeal nature, defiling our nature by the loathsome presentment of his argument, and setting forth openly the passions that gather round human generation, while he deserts the subject. set before him? for it was not about this animal generation, that is accomplished by means of the flesh, that we had any need to learn. Who is so foolish, when he looks on himself, and considers human nature in himself, as to seek another interpreter of his own nature, and to need to be told all the unavoidable passions which are included in the thought of bodily generation-that he who begets is affected in one way, that which is begotten in another-so that the man should learn from this instruction that he himself begets by means of passion, and that passion was the beginning of his own generation? For it is all the same whether these things are passed over or spoken, and whether one publishes these secrets at length, or keeps hidden in silence things that should be left unsaid, we are not ignorant of the fact that our nature progresses by way of passion. But what we are seeking is that a clear account should be given of the exalted and unspeakable existence of the Only-begotten, whereby He is believed to be of the Father.

Now, while this is the enquiry set before him, our new theologian enriches his discourse with "flowing," and "passion," and "material cause," and some "action" which "is not pure" from pollution, and all other phrases of this kindhyperlink . I know not under what influence it is that he who says, in the superiority of his wisdom, that nothing incomprehensible is left beyond his own knowledge, and promises to explain the unspeakable generation of the Son, leaves the question before him, and plunges like an eel into the slimy mud of his arguments, after the fashion of that Nicodemus who came by night, who, when our Lord was teaching him of the birth from above, rushed in thought to the hollow of the womb, and raised a doubt how one could enter a second time into the womb, with the words, "How can these things be?hyperlink " thinking that he would prove the spiritual birth impossible, by the fact that an old man could not again be born within his mother's bowels. But the Lord corrects his erroneous idea, saying that the properties of the flesh and the spirit are distinct. Let Eunomius also, if he will, correct himself by the like reflection. For he who ponders on the truth ought, I imagine, to contemplate his subject according to its own properties, not to slander the immaterial by a charge against things material. For if a man, or a bull, or any other of those things which are generated by the flesh, is not free from passion in generating or being generated, what has this to do with that Nature which is without passion and without corruption? The fact that we are mortal is no objection to the immortality of the Only-begotten, nor does men's propensity to vice render doubtful the immutability that is found in the Divine Nature, nor is any other of our proper attributes transferred to God; but the peculiar nature of the human and the Divine life is separated, and without common ground, and their distinguishing properties stand entirely apart, so that those of the latter are not apprehended in the former, nor, conversely, those of the former in the latter.

How comes it, therefore, that Eunomius, when the Divine generation is the subject for discourse, leaves his subject, and discusses at length the things of earth, when on this matter we have no dispute with him? Surely our craftsman's aim is clear,-that by the slanderous insinuation of passion he may raise an objection to the generation of the Lord. And here I pass by the blasphemous nature of his view, and admire the man for his acuteness,-how mindful he is of his own zealous endeavour, who, having by his previous statements established the theory that the Son must be, and must be called, a "product of generation," now contends for the view that we ought not to entertain regarding Him the conception Of generation. For, if all generation, as this author imagines, has linked with it the condition of passion, we are hereby absolutely compelled to admit that what is foreign to passion is alien also from generation: for if these things, passion and generation, are considered as conjoined, He that has no share in the one would not have any participation in the other. How then does he call Him a "product" by reason of His generation, of Whom he tries to show by the arguments he now uses, that He was not generated? and for what cause does he fight against our masterhyperlink , who counsels us in matters of Divine doctrine not to presume in name-making, but to confess that He is generated without transforming this conception into the formula of a name, so as to call Him Who is generated "a product of generation," as this term is properly applied in Scripture to things inanimate, or to those which are mentioned "as a figure of wickednesshyperlink "? When we speak of the propriety of avoiding the use of the term "product," he prepares for action that invincible rhetoric of his, and takes also to support him his frigid grammatical phraseology, and by his skilful misuse of names, or equivocation, or whatever one may properly call his processes-by these means, I say, he brings his syllogisms to their conclusion, "not refusing to call Him Who is begotten by the name of `product of generation.'" Then, as soon as we admit the term, and proceed to examine the conception involved in the name, on the theory that thereby is vindicated the community of essence, he again retracts his own words, and contends for the view that the "product of generation" is not generated, raising an objection by his foul account of bodily generation, against the pure and Divine and passionless generation of the Son, on the ground that it is not possible that the two things, the true relationship to the Father, and exemption of His nature from passion, should be found to coincide in God, but that, if there were no passion, there would be no generation, and that, if one should acknowledge the true relationship, he would thereby, in admitting generation, certainly admit passion also.

Not thus speaks the sublime John, not thus that voice of thunder which proclaims the mystery of the Theology, who both names Him Son of God and purges his proclamation from every idea of passion. For behold how in the very beginning of his Gospel he prepares our ears, how great forethought is shown by the teacher that none of his hearers should fall into low ideas on the subject, slipping by ignorance into any incongruous conceptions. For in order to lead the untrained hearing as far away as possible from passion, he does not speak in his opening words of "Son," or "Father," or "generation," that no one should either, on hearing first of all of a "Father," be hurried on to the obvious signification of the word, or, on learning the proclamation of a "Son," should understand that name in the ordinary sense, or stumble, as at a "stone of stumblinghyperlink ," at the word "generation"; but instead of "the Father," he speaks of "the Beginning": instead of "was begotten," he says "was": and instead of "the Son," he says "the Word": and declares "In the Beginning was the Wordhyperlink ." What passion, pray, is to be found in these words, "beginning," and "was," and "Word"? Is "the beginning" passion? does "was" imply passion? does "the Word" exist by means of passion? Or are we to say, that as passion is not to be found in the terms used, so neither is affinity expressed by the proclamation? Yet how could the Word's community of essence, and real relationship, and co eternity with the Beginning, be more strongly shown by other words than by these? For he does not say, "Of the Beginning was begotten the Word," that he may not separate the Word from the Beginning by any conception of extension in time, but he proclaims together with the Beginning Him also Who was in the Beginning, making the word "was" common to the Beginning and to the Word, that the Word may not linger after the Beginning, but may, by entering in together with the faith as to the Beginning, by its proclamation forestall our hearing, before this admits the Beginning itself in isolation. Then he declares, "And the Word was with God." Once more the Evangelist fears for our untrained state, once more he dreads our childish and untaught condition: he does not yet entrust to our ears the appellation of "Father," lest any of the more carnally minded, learning of "the Father," may be led by his understanding to imagine also by consequence a mother. Neither does he yet name in his proclamation the Son; for he still suspects our customary tendency to the lower nature, and fears lest any, hearing of the Son, should humanize the Godhead by an idea of passion. For this reason, resuming his proclamation, he again calls him "the Word," making this the account of His nature to thee in thine unbelief. For as thy word proceeds from thy mind, without requiring the intervention of passion, so here also, in hearing of the Word, thou shalt conceive that which is from something, and shalt not conceive passion. Hence, once more resuming his proclamation, he says, "And the Word was with God." O, how does he make the Word commensurate with God! rather, how does he extend the infinite in comparison with the infinite! "The Word was with God"-the whole being of the Word, assuredly, with the whole being of God. Therefore, as great as God is, so great, clearly, is the Word also that is with Him; so that if God is limited, then will the Word also, surely, be subject to limitation. But if the infinity of God exceeds limit, neither is the Word that is contemplated with Him comprehended by limits and measures. For no one would deny that the Word is contemplated together with the entire Godhead of the Father, so that he should make one part of the Godhead appear to be in the Word, and another destitute of the Word. Once more the spiritual voice of John speaks, once more the Evangelist in his proclamation takes tender care for the hearing of those who are in childhood: not yet have we so much grown by the hearing of his first words as to hear of "the Son," and yet remain firm without being moved from our footing by the influence of the wonted sense. Therefore our herald, crying once more aloud, still proclaims in his third utterance "the Word," and not "the Son," saying, "And the Word was God." First he declared wherein He was, then with whom He was, and now he says what He is, completing, by his third repetition, the object of his proclamation. For he says, "It is no Word of those that are readily understood, that I declare to you, but God under the designation of the Word." For this Word, that was in the Beginning, and was with God, was not anything else besides God, but was also Himself God. And forthwith the herald, reaching the full height of his lofty speech, declares that this God Whom his proclamation sets forth is He by Whom all things were made, and is life, and the light of men, and the true light that shineth in darkness, yet is not obscured by the darkness, sojourning with His own, yet not received by His own: and being made flesh, and tabernacling, by means of the flesh, in man's nature. And when he has first gone through this number and variety of statements, he then names the Father and the Only-begotten, when there can be no danger that what has been purified by so many precautions should be allowed, in consequence of the sense of the word "Father," to Sink down to any meaning tainted with pollution, for, "we beheld His glory," he says, "the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father."

Repeat, then, Eunomius, repeat this clever objection of yours to the Evangelist: "How dost thou give the name of `Father' in thy discourse, how that of Only-begotten, seeing that all bodily generation is operated by passion?" Surely truth answers you on his behalf, that the mystery of theology is one thing, and the physiology of unstable bodies is another. Wide is the interval by which they are fenced off one from the other. Why do you join together in your argument what cannot blend? how do you defile the purity of the Divine generation by your foul discourse? how do you make systems for the incorporeal by the passions that affect the body? Cease to draw your account of the nature of things above from those that are below. I proclaim the Lord as the Son of God, because the gospel from heaven, given-through the bright cloud, thus proclaimed Him; for "This," He saith, "is My beloved Sonhyperlink ." Yet, though I was taught that He is the Son, I was not dragged down by the name to the earthly significance of "Son," but I both know that He is from the Father and do not know that He is from passion. And this, moreover, I will add to what has been said, that I know even a bodily generation which is pure from passion, so that even on this point Eunomius' physiology of bodily generation is proved false, if, that is to say, a bodily birth can be found which does not admit passion. Tell me, was the Word made flesh, or not? You would not, I presume, say that It was not. It was so made, then, and there is none who denies it. How then was it that "God was manifested in the fleshhyperlink "? "By birth," of course you will say. But what sort of birth do you speak of? Surely it is clear that you speak of that from the virginity, and that "that which was conceived in her was of the Holy Ghosthyperlink ," and that "the days were accomplished that she should be delivered, and she brought forthhyperlink ," and none the less was her purity preserved in her child-bearing. You believe, then, that that birth which took place from a woman was pure from passion, if you do believe, but you refuse to admit the Divine and incorruptible generation from the Father, that you may avoid the idea of passion in generation. But I know well that it is not passion he seeks to avoid in his doctrine, for that he does not discern at all in the Divine and incorruptible nature; but to the end that the Maker of all creation may be accounted a part of creation, he builds up these arguments in order to a denial of the Only-begotten God, and uses his pretended caution about passion to help him in his task.

§2. He Convicts Eunomius of Having Used of the Only-Begotten Terms Applicable to the Existence of the Earth, and Thus Shows that His Intention is to Prove the Son to Be a Being Mutable and Created.

And this he shows very plainly by his contention against our arguments, where he says that "the essence of the Son came into being from the Father, not put forth by way of extension, not separated from its conjunction with Him that generated Him by flux or division, not perfected by way of growth, not transformed by way of change, but obtaining existence by the mere will of the Generator." Why, what man whose mental senses are not closed up is left in ignorance by this utterance that by these statements the Son is being represented by Eunomius as a part of the creation? What hinders us from saying all this word for word as it stands, about every single one of the things we contemplate in creation? Let us apply, if you will, the definition to any of the things that appear in creation, and if it does not admit the same sequence, we will condemn ourselves for having examined the definition slightingly, and not with the care that befits the truth. Let us exchange, then, the name of the Son, and so read the definition word by word. We say that the essence of the earth came into being from the Father, not separated by way of extension or division from its conjunction with Him Who generated it, nor perfected by way of growth, nor put forth by way of change, but obtaining existence by the mere will of Him Who generated it. Is there anything in what we have said that does not apply to the existence of the earth? I think no one would say so: for God did not put forth the earth by being extended, nor bring its essence into existence by flowing or by dissevering Himself from conjunction with Himself, nor did He bring it by means of gradual growth from being small to completeness of magnitude, nor was He fashioned into the form of earth by undergoing mutation or alteration, but His will sufficed Him for the existence of all things that were made: "He spake and they were generatedhyperlink ," so that even the name of "generation" does not fail to accord with the existence of the earth. Now if these things may be truly said of the parts of the universe, what doubt is still left as to our adversaries' doctrine, that while, so far as words go, they call Him "Son," they represent Him as being one of the things that came into existence by creation, set before the rest only in precedence of order? just as you might say about the trade of a smith, that from it come all things that are wrought out of iron; but that the instrument of the tongs and hammer, by which the iron is fashioned for use, existed before the making of the rest; yet, while this has precedence of the rest, there is not on that account any difference in respect of matter between the instrument that fashions and the iron that is shaped by the instrument, (for both one and the other are iron,) but the one form is earlier than the other. Such is the theology of heresy touching the Son,-to imagine that there is no difference between the Lord Himself and the things that were made by Him, save the difference in respect of order.

Who that is in any sense classed among Christians admits that the definitionhyperlink of the essence of the parts of the world, and of Him Who made the world, is the same? For my own part I shudder at the blasphemy, knowing that where the definition of things is the same neither is their nature different. For as the definition of the essence of Peter and John and other men is common and their nature is one, in the same way, if the Lord were in respect of nature even as the parts of the world, they must acknowledge that He is also subject to those things, whatever they may be, which they perceive in them. Now the world does not last for ever: thus, according to them, the Lord also will pass away with the heaven and the earth, if, as they say, He is of the same kind with the world. If on the other hand He is confessed to be eternal, we must needs suppose that the world too is not without some part in the Divine nature, if, as they say, it corresponds with the Only-begotten in the matter of creation. You see where this fine process of inference makes the argument tend, like a stone broken off from a mountain ridge and rushing down-hill by its own weight. For either the elements of the world must be Divine, according to the foolish belief of the Greeks, or the Son must not be worshipped. Let us consider it thus. We say that the creation, both what is perceived by the mind, and that which is of a nature to be perceived by sense, came into being from nothing: this they declare also of the Lord. We say that all things that have been made consist by the will of God: this they tell us also of the Only-begotten. We believe that neither the angelic creation nor the mundane is of the essence of Him that made it: and they make Him also alien from the essence of the Father. We confess that all things serve Him that made them: this view they also hold of the Only-begotten. Therefore, of necessity, whatever else it may be that they conceive of the creation, all these attributes they will also attach to the Only-begotten: and whatever they believe of Him, this they will also conceive of the creation: so that, if they confess the Lord as God, they will also deify the rest of the creation. On the other hand, if they define these things to be without share in the Divine nature, they will not reject the same conception touching the Only-begotten also. Moreover no sane man asserts Godhead of the creation. Then neither-I do not utter the rest, lest I lend my tongue to the blasphemy of the enemy. Let those say what consequence follows, whose mouth is well trained in blasphemy. But their doctrine is evident even if they hold their peace. For one of two things must necessarily happen:-either they will depose the Only-begotten God, so that with them He will no more either be, or be called so: or, if they assert Godhead of Him, they will equally assert it of all creation:-or, (for this is still left to them,) they will shun the impiety that appears on either side, and take refuge in the orthodox doctrine, and will assuredly agree with us that He is not created, that they may confess Him to be truly God.

What need is there to take time to recount all the other blasphemies that underlie his doctrine, starting from this beginning? For by what we have quoted, one who considers the inference to be drawn will understand that the father of falsehood, the maker of death, the inventor of wickedness, being created in a nature intellectual and incorporeal, was not by that nature hindered from becoming what he is by way of change. For the mutability of essence, moved either way at will, involves a capacity of nature that follows the impulse of determination, so as to become that to which its determination leads it. Accordingly they will define the Lord as being capable even of contrary dispositions, drawing Him down as it were to a rank equal with the angels, by the conception of creationhyperlink . But let them listen to the great voice of Paul. Why is it that he says that He alone has been called Son? Because He is not of the nature of angels, but of that which is more excellent. "For unto which of the angels said He at any time, `Thou art My Son, This day have I begotten Thee'? and when again He bringeth the first-begotten into the world He saith, `And let all the angels of God worship Him.' And of the angels He saith, `Who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire': but of the Son He saith, `Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdomhyperlink ,'" and all else that the prophecy recites together with these words in declaring His Godhead. And he adds also from another Psalm the appropriate words, "Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thine hands," and the rest, as far as "But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not failhyperlink ," whereby he describes the immutability and eternity of His nature. If, then, the Godhead of the Only-begotten is as far above the angelic nature as a master is superior to his slaves, how do they make common either with the sensible creation Him Who is Lord of the creation, or with the nature of the angels Him Who is worshipped by themhyperlink , by detailing, concerning the manner of His existence, statements which will properly apply to the individual things we contemplate in creation, even as we already showed the account given by heresy, touching the Lord, to be closely and appropriately applicable to the making of the earth?

§3. He Then Again Admirably Discussed the Term Prwtotokoz As It is Four Times Employed Apostle.

But that the readers of our work may find no ambiguity left of such a kind as to afford any support to the heretical doctrines, it may be worth while to add to the passages examined by us this point also from Holy Scripture. They will perhaps raise a question from the very apostolic writings which we quoted: "How could He be called `the first-born of creationhyperlink ' if He were not what creation is? for every first-born is the first-born not of another kind, but of its own as Reuben, having precedence in respect of birth of those who are counted after him, was the first-born, a man the first-born of men; and many others are called the first-born of the brothers who are reckoned with them." They say then, "We assert that He Who is `the first-born of creation' is of that same essence which we consider the essence of all creation. Now if the whole creation is of one essence with the Father of all, we will not deny that the first born of creation is this also: but if the God of all differs in essence from the creation, we must of necessity say that neither has the first-born of creation community in essence with God." The structure of this objection is not. I think, at all less imposing in the form in which it is alleged by us, than in the form in which it would probably be brought against us by our adversaries. But what we ought to know as regards this point shall now, so far as we are able, be plainly set forth in our discourse.

Four times the name of "first-born" or "first-begotten" is used by the Apostle in all his writings: but he has made mention of the name in different senses and not in the same manner. For now he speaks of "the first-born of all creationhyperlink ," and again of "the first-born among many brethrenhyperlink ," then of "the first-born from the deadhyperlink ;" and in the Epistle to the Hebrews the name of "first-begotten" is absolute, being mentioned by itself: for he speaks thus, "When again He bringeth the first-begotten into the world, He saith, `Let all the angels worship Himhyperlink .'" As these passages are thus distinct, it may be well to interpret each of them separately by itself, how He is the "first-born of creation," how "among many brethren," how "from the dead," and how, spoken of by Himself apart from each of these, when He is again brought into the world, He is worshipped by all His angels. Let us begin then, if you will, our survey of the passages before us with the last-mentioned.

"When again He bringeth in," he says, "the first-begotten into the world." The addition of "again" shows, by the force of this word, that this event happens not for the first time: for we use this word of the repetition of things which have once happened. He signifies, therefore, by the phrase, the dread appearing of the Judge at the end of the ages, when He is seen no more in the form of a servant, but seated in glory upon the throne of His kingdom, and worshipped by all the angels that are around Him. Therefore He Who once entered into the world, becoming the first-born "from the dead," and "of His brethren," and "of all creation," does not, when He comes again into the world as He that judges the world in righteousnesshyperlink , as the prophecy saith, east off the name of the first-begotten, which He once received for our sakes; but as at the name of Jesus, which is above every name, every knee bowshyperlink , so also the company of all the angels worships Him Who comes in the name of the First-begotten, in their rejoicing over the restoration of men, wherewith, by becoming the first-born among us, He restored us again to the grace which we had at the beginninghyperlink . For since there is joy among the angels over those who are rescued from sin, (because until now that creation groaneth and travaileth in pain at the vanity that affects ushyperlink , judging our perdition to be their own loss,) when that manifestation of the sons of God takes place which they look for and expect, and when the sheep is brought safe to the hundred above, (and we surely-humanity that is to say-are that sheep which the Good Shepherd saved by becoming the first begottenhyperlink ,) then especially will they offer, in their intense thanksgiving on our behalf, their worship to God, Who by being first-begotten restored him that bad wandered from his Father's home.

Now that we have arrived at the understanding of these words, no one could any longer hesitate as to the other passages, for what reason He is the first-born, either "of the dead," or "of the creation," or "among many brethren." For all these passages refer to the same point, although each of them sets forth some special conception. He is the first-born from the dead, Who first by Himself loosed the pains of deathhyperlink , that He might also make that birth of the resurrection a way for all menhyperlink . Again, He becomes "the first-born among many brethren," Who is born before us by the new birth of regeneration in water, for the travail whereof the hovering of the Dove was the midwife, whereby He makes those who share with Him in the like birth to be His own brethren, and becomes the first-born of those who after Him are born of water and of the Spirithyperlink : and to speak briefly, as there are in us three births, whereby human nature is quickened, one of the body, another in the sacrament of regeneration, another by that resurrection of the dead for which we look, He is first-born in all three:-of the twofold regeneration which is wrought by two (by baptism and by the resurrection), by being Himself the leader in each of them; while it, the flesh He is first-born, as having first and alone devised in His own case that birth unknown to nature, which no one in the many generations of men had originated. If these passages, then, have been rightly understood, neither will the signification of the "creation," of which He is first-born, be unknown to as. For we recognize a twofold creation of our nature, the first that whereby we were made, the second that whereby we were made anew. But there would have been no need of the second creation had we not made the first unavailing by our disobedience. Accordingly, when the first creation had waxed old and vanished away, it was needful that there should be a new creation in Christ, (as the Apostle says, who asserts that we should no longer see in the second creation any trace of that which has waxed old, saying, "Having put off the old man with his deeds and his lusts, put on the new man which is created according to Godhyperlink ," and "If any man be in Christ," he says, "he is a new creature: the old things are passed away, behold all things are become newhyperlink :") -for the maker of human nature at the first and afterwards is one and the same. Then He took dust from the earth and formed man: again, He took dust from the Virgin, and did not merely form man, but formed man about Himself: then, He created; afterwards, He was created: then, the Word made flesh; afterwards, the Word became flesh, that He might change our flesh to spirit, by being made partaker with us in flesh and blood. Of this new creation therefore in Christ, which He Himself began, He was called the first-born, being the first-fruits of all, both of those begotten into life, and of those quickened by resurrection of the dead, "that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the livinghyperlink ," and might sanctify the whole lumphyperlink by means of its first-fruits in Himself. Now that the character of "first-born" does not apply to the Son in respect of His pre-temporal existence the appellation of "Only-begotten" testifies. For he who is truly only-begotten has no brethren, for bow could any one be only-begotten if numbered among brethren? but as He is called God and man, Son of God and Son of man,-for He has the form of God and the form of a servanthyperlink , being some things according to His supreme nature, becoming other things in His dispensation of love to man,-so too, being the Only-begotten God, He becomes the first-born of all creation,-the Only-begotten, He that is in the bosom of the Father, yet, among the e who are saved by the new creation, both becoming and being called the first born of the creation. But if, as heresy will have it, He is called first-born because He was made before the rest of the creation, the name does not agree with what they maintain concerning the Only-begotten God. For they do not say this,-that the Son and the universe were from the Father in like manner,-but they say, that the Only-begotten God was made by the Father, and that all else was made by the Only-begotten. Therefore on the same ground on which, while they hold that the Son was created, they call God the Father of the created Being, on the same ground, while they say that all things were made by the Only-begotten God, they give Him the name not of the "first-born" of the things that were made by Him, but more properly of their "Father," as the same relation existing in both cases towards the things created, logically gives rise to the same appellation. For if God, Who is over all, is not properly called the "First-born," but the Father of the Being He Himself created, the Only-begotten God will surely also be called, by the same reasoning, the "father," and not properly the "first-born" of His own creatures, so that the appellation of "first-born" will be altogether improper and superfluous, having no place in the heretical conception,

§4. He Proceeds Again to Discuss the Impassibility of the Lord's Generation; And the Folly of Eunomius, Who Says that the Generated Essence Involves the Appellation of Son, and Again, Forgetting This, Denies the Relation of the Son to the Father: and Herein He Speaks of Circe and of the Mandrake Poison.

We must, however, return to those who connect passion with the Divine generation, and on this account deny that the Lord is truly begotten, in order to avoid the conception of passion. To say that passion is absolutely linked with generation, and that on this account, in order that the Divine nature may continue in purity beyond the reach of passion, we ought to consider that the Son is alien to the idea of generation, may perhaps appear reasonable in the eyes of those who are easily deceived, but those who are instructed in the Divine mysterieshyperlink have an answer ready to band, based upon admitted facts. For who knows not that it is generation that leads us back to the true and blessed life, not being the same with that which takes place "of blood and of the will of the fleshhyperlink ," in which are flux and change, and gradual growth to perfection, and all else that we observe in our earthly generation: but the other kind is believed to be from God, and heavenly, and, as the Gospel says, "from abovehyperlink ," which excludes the passions of flesh and blood? I presume that they both admit the existence of this generation, and find no passion in it. Therefore not all generation is naturally connected with passion, but the material generation is subject to passion, the immaterial pure from passion. What constrains him then to attribute to the incorruptible generation of the Son what properly belongs to the flesh, and, by ridiculing the lower form of generation with his unseemly physiology, to exclude the Son from affinity with the Father? For if, even in our own case, it is generation that is the beginning of either life,-that generation which is through the flesh of a life of passion, that which is spiritual of a life of purity, (and no one who is in any sense numbered among Christians would contradict this statement,)-how is it allowable to entertain the idea of passion in thinking of generation as it concerns the incorruptible Nature? Let us moreover examine this point in addition to those we have mentioned. If they disbelieve the passionless character of the Divine generation on the ground of the passion that affects the flesh, let them also, from the same tokens, (those, I mean, to be found in ourselves,) refuse to believe that God acts as a Maker without passion. For if they judge of the Godhead by comparison of our own conditions, they must not confess that God either begets or creates; for neither of these operations is exercised by ourselves without passion. Let them therefore either separate from the Divine nature both creation and generation, that they may guard the impassibility of God on either side, and let them, that the Father may be kept safely beyond the range of passion, neither growing weary by creation, nor being defiled by generation, entirely reject front their doctrine the belief in the Only-begotten, or, if they agreehyperlink that the one activity is exercised by the Divine power without passion, let them not quarrel about the other: for if He creates without labour or matter, He surely also begets without labour or flux.

And here once more I have in this argument the support of Eunomius. I will state his nonsense concisely and briefly, epitomizing his whole meaning. That men do not make materials for us, but only by their art add form to matter,-this is the drift of what he says in the course of a great quantity of nonsensical language. If, then, understanding conception and formation to be included in the lower generation, he forbids on this ground the pure notion of generation, by consequence, on the same reasoning, since earthly creation is busied with the form, but cannot furnish matter together with the form, let him forbid us also, on this ground, to suppose that the Father is a Creator. If, on the other hand, he refuses to conceive creation in the case of God according to man's measure of power, let him also cease to slander Divine generation by human imperfections. But, that his accuracy and circumspection? argument may be more clearly established, I will again return to a small point in his statements. He asserts that "things which are respectively active and passive share one another's nature," and mentions, after bodily generation, "the work of the craftsman as displayed in materials." Now let the acute hearer mark how he here fails in his proper aim, and wanders about among whatever statements he happens to invent. He sees in things that come into being by way of the flesh the "active and passive conceived, with the same essence, the one imparting the essence, the other receiving it." Thus he knows how to discern the truth with accuracy as regards the nature of existing things, so as to separate the imparter and the receiver from the essence, and to say that each of these is distinct in himself apart from the essence. For he that receives or imparts is surely another besides that which is given or received, so that we must first conceive some one by himself, viewed in his own separate existence, and then speak of him as giving that which he has, or receiving that which he has nothyperlink . And when he has sputtered out this argument in such a ridiculous fashion, our sage friend does not perceive that by the next step he overthrows himself once more. For he who by his art forms at his will the material before him, surely in this operation acts; and the material, in receiving its form at the hand of him who exercises the art, is passively affected: for it is not by remaining unaffected and unimpressionable that the material receives its form. If then, even in the case of things wrought by art, nothing can come into being without passivity and action concurring to produce it, how can our author think that he here abides by his own words? seeing that, in declaring community of essence to be involved in the relation of action and passion, he seems not only to attest in some sense community of essence in Him that is begotten with Him that begat Him, but also to make the whole creation of one essencehyperlink with its Maker, if, as he says, the active and the passive are to be defined as mutually akin in respect of nature. Thus, by the very arguments by which he establishes what he wishes, he overthrows the main object of his effort, and makes the glory of the coessential Son more secure by his own contention. For if the fact of origination from anything shows the essence of the generator to be in the generated, and if artificial fabrication (being accomplished by means of action and passion) reduces both that which makes and that which is produced to community of essence, according to his account, our author in many places of his own writings maintains that the Lord has been begotten. Thus by the very arguments whereby he seeks to prove the Lord alien from the essence of the Father, he asserts for Him intimate connexion. For if, according to his account, separation in essence is not observed either in generation or in fabrication, then, whatever he allows the Lord to be, whether "created" or a "product of generation," he asserts, by both names alike, the affinity of essence, seeing that he makes community of nature in active and passive, in generator and generated, a part of his system.

Let us turn however to the next point of the argument. I beg my readers not to be impatient at the minuteness of examination which extends our argument to a length beyond what we would desire. For it is not any ordinary matters on which we stand in danger, so that our loss would be slight if we should hurry past any point that required more careful attention, but it is the very sum of our hope that we have at stake. For the alternative before us is, whether we should be Christians, not led astray by the destructive wiles of heresy, or whether we should be completely swept away into the conceptions of Jews or heathen. To the end, then, that we may not suffer either of these things forbidden, that we may neither agree with the doctrine of the Jews by a denial of the verily begotten Son, nor be involved in the downfall of the idolaters by the adoration of the creature, let us perforce spend some time in the discussion of these matters, and set forth the very words of Eunomius, which run thus:-

"Now as these things are thus divided, one might reasonably say that the most proper and primary essence, and that which alone exists by the operation of the Father, admits for itself the appellations of `product of generation,' `product of making,' and `product of creation':" and a little further on he says, "But the Son alone, existing by the operation of the Father, possesses His nature and His relation to Him that begat Him, without communityhyperlink ." Such are his words. But let us, like men who look on at their enemies engaged in a factious struggle among themselves, consider first our adversaries' contention against themselves, and so proceed to set forth on the other side the true doctrine of godliness. "The Son alone," he says, "existing by the operation of the Father, possesses His nature and His relation to Him that begat Him, without community." But in his previous statements, he says that he "does not refuse to call Him, that is begotten a `product of generation,' as the generated essence itself, and the appellation of Son, make such a relation of words appropriate."

The contradiction existing in these passages being thus evident, I am inclined to admire for their acuteness those who praise this doctrine. For it would be hard to say to which of his statements they could turn without finding themselves at variance with the remainder. His earlier statement represented that the generated essence, and the appellation of "Son," made such a relation of words appropriate. His present system says the contrary:-that "the Son possesses His relation to Him that begat Him without community." If they believe the first statement, they will surely not accept the second: if they incline to the latter, they will find themselves opposed to the earlier conception. Who will stay the combat? Who will mediate in this civil war? Who will bring this discord into agreement, when the very soul is divided against itself by the opposing statements, and drawn in different ways to contrary doctrines? Perhaps we may see here that dark saying of prophecy which David speaks of the Jews-"They were divided but were not pricked at hearthyperlink ." For lo, not even when they are divided among contrariety of doctrines have they a sense of their discordancy, but they are carried about by their ears like wine-jars, borne around at the will of him who shifts them. It pleased him to say that the generated essence was closely connected with the appellation of "Son": straightway, like men asleep, they nodded assent to his remarks. He changed his statement again to the contrary one, and denies the relation of the Son to Him that begat Him: again his well-beloved friends join in assent to this also, shifting in whatever direction he chooses, as the shadows of bodies change their form by spontaneous mimicry with the motion of the advancing figure, and even if he contradicts himself, accepting that also. This is another form of the drought that Homer tells us of, not changing the bodies of those who drink its poison into the forms of brutes, but acting on their souls to produce in them a change to a state void of reason. For of those men, the tale tells that their mind was sound, while their form was changed to that of beasts, but here, while their bodies remain in their natural state, their souls are transformed to the condition of brutes. And as there the poet's tale of wonder says that those who drank the drug were changed into the forms of various beasts, at the pleasure of her who beguiled their nature, the same thing happens now also from this Circe's cup. For they who drink the deceit of sorcery from the same writing are changed to different forms of doctrine, transformed now to one, now to another. And meanwhile these very ridiculous people, according to the revised edition of the fable, are still well pleased with him who leads them to such absurdity, and stoop to gather the words he scatters about, as if they were cornel fruit or acorns, running greedily like swine to the doctrines that are shed on the ground, not being naturally capable of fixing their gaze on those which are lofty and heavenly. For this reason it is that they do not see the tendency of his argument to contrary positions, but snatch without examination what comes in their way: and as they say that the bodies of men stupefied with mandrake are held in a sort of slumber and inability to move, so are the senses of these men's souls affected, being made torpid as regards the apprehension of deceit. It is certainly a terrible thing to be held in unconsciousness by hidden guile, as the result of some fallacious argument: yet where it is involuntary the misfortune is excusable: but to be brought to make trial of evil as the result of a kind of forethought and zealous desire, not in ignorance of what will befall, surpasses every extreme of misery. Surely we may well complain, when we hear that even greedy fish avoid the steel when it comes near them unbaited, and take down the hook only when hope of food decoys them to a bait: but where the evil is apparent, to go over of their own accord to this destruction is a more wretched thing than the folly of the fish: for these are led by their greediness to a destruction that is concealed from them, but the others swallow with open mouth the hook of impiety in its bareness, satisfied with destruction under the influence of some unreasoning passion. For what could be clearer than this contradiction-than to say that the same Person was begotten and is a thing created, and that something is closely connected with the name of "Son," and, again, is alien from the sense of "Son"? But enough of these matters.


1 Reading, with the older editions, th qewria. Oehler substitutes thn qewpian (a variation which seems to give no good sense, unless qewria be translated as "subject of contemplation"), but alleges no ms. authority for the change.

2 Oehler's punctuation seems less clear than that of the older editions, which is here followed.

3 S. John iii. 10.

4 i. e. S. Basil.

5 The reference is to S. Basil's treatise against Eunomius (ii. 7-8; p. 242-4 in the Benedictine ed.). Oehler's punctuation is apparently wrong, for Gregory paraphrases not only the rule, but the reason given for it, from S. Basil, from whom the last words of the sentence are a direct quotation.

6 S. 1 Pet. ii. 8.

7 S. John i. 1.

8 S. Matt. xvii. 5.

9 1 Tim. iii. 16. Here, as elsewhere in Gregory's writings, it appears that he read qeoj in this passage.

10 S. Matt i. 20.

11 S. Luke ii. 6, S. Luke ii. 7.

12 Cf. Ps. xxxiii. 9, and Ps. cxlviii. 5, in LXX. (reading egennhqhsan).

13 The force of logoj here appears to be nearly equivalent to "idea," in the sense of an exact expression of the nature of a thing. Gulonius renders it by "ratio."

14 The argument appears to be this:-The Anomoeans assert, on the ground that He is created, that the Son's essence is trepton, liable to change; where there is the possibility of change, the nature must have a capacity of inclining one way or the other, according to the balance of will determining to which side the nature shall incline: and that this is the condition of the angels may be seen from the instance of the fallen angels, whose nature was inclined to evil by their proairesij. It follows that to say the Son is treptoj implies that He is on a level with the angelic nature, and might fall even as the angels fell.

15 Cf. Heb. i. 4, and foll. It is to be noted that Gregory connects palin in v. 6, with eisagagh, not treating it, as the A.V. does, as simply introducing another quotation. This appears from his later reference to the text

16 Cf. Ps. cii. 25, Ps. cii. 26.

17 Oehler's punctuation here seems to be unsatisfactory.

18 Cf. Col. i. 15. Prwtotokoj may be, as it is in the Authorized Version, translated either by "first born," or by "first-begotten." Compare with this passage Book II. §8, where the use of the word in Holy Scripture is discussed.

19 Cf. Col. i. 15.

20 Rom. viii. 29.

21 Col. i. 18.

22 Cf. Heb. i. 6.

23 Ps. xcviii. 10.

24 Cf. Phil. ii. 10.

25 Oehler's punctuation, which is probably due to a printer's error, is here a good deal altered.

26 Cf. Rom. viii. 19-23.

27 This interpretation is of course common to many of the Fathers, though S. Augustine, for instance, explains the "ninety and nine" otherwise, and his explanation has been often followed by modern writers and preachers. The present interpretation is assumed in a prayer, no doubt of great antiquity, which is found in the Liturgy of S. James, both in the Greek and the Syriac version, and also in the Greek form of the Coptic Liturgy of S. Basil, where it is said to be "from the Liturgy of S. James."

28 Acts ii. 24.

29 See Book II. §§4 and 8, and note on the former passage.

30 With this passage may be compared the parallel passage in Bk. II. §8. The interpretation of the "many brethren" of those baptized suggests that Gregory understood the "predestination" spoken of in Rom. viii. 29 to be predestination to baptism.

31 Cf. Col. iii. 9, and Eph. iv. 24.

32 Cf. 2 Cor. v. 17.

33 Rom. xiv. 9.

34 Cf. Rom. xi. 16.

35 Cf. Phil. ii. 6.

36 That is, in the sacramental doctrine with regard to Holy Baptism.

37 S. John i. 13.

38 S. John iii. 3, where anwqen may be interpreted either "from above" or as in A. V.

39 Reading ei for eij, according to Oehler's suggestion.

40 It is not quite clear whether any of this passage, or, if so, how much of it, is a direct quotation from Eunomius. Probably only the phrase about the imparting and receiving of the essence is taken from him, the rest of the passage being Gregory's expansion of the phrase into a distinction between the essence and the thing of which it is the essence, so that the thing can be viewed apart from its own essence.

41 omoousion.

42 This seems to be the force of akoinwnhton: it is clear from what follows that it is to be understood as denying community of essence between the Father and the Son, not as asserting only the unique character alike of the Son and of His relation to the Father.

43 This is the LXX. version of the last part of Ps. xxxv. 15, a rendering with which the Vulgate version practically agrees.