Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.19 Book V Part 2

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.19 Book V Part 2

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.19 Book V Part 2

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§4. He Thaws the Falsehood of Eunomius' Calumnious Charge that the Great Basil Had Said that "Man Was Emptied to Become Man," And Demonstrates that the "Emptying" Of the Only-Begotten Took Place with a View to the Restoration to Life of the Man Who Had Sufferedhyperlink .

He asserts that we say that man has emptied Himself to become man, and that He Who by obedience humbled Himself to the form of the servant shared the form of men even before He took that form. No change has been made in the wording; we have simply transferred the very words from his speech to our own. Now if there is anything of this sort in our writings, for I call my master's writings ours) let no one blame our orator for calumny. I ask for all regard for the truth: and we ourselves will give evidence. But if there is nothing of all this in our writings, while his language not merely lays blame upon us, but is indignant and wrathful as if the waiter were clearly proved, calling us full of absurdity, nonsense, confusion, inconsistency, and so on, I am at a loss to see the right course to take. Just as men who are perplexed at the groundless rages of madmen can decide upon no plan to follow, so I myself can find no device to meet this perplexity. Our master says (for I will again recite his argument verbally), "He is not setting forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but the terms which belong to the Incarnation." Our accuser starts from this point, and says that we maintain that man emptied Himself to become man! What community is there between one statement and the other? If we say that the Apostle has not set forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but points by his phrase to the dispensation of the Passion, we are on this ground charged with speaking of the "emptying" of man to become man, and with saying that the "form of the servant" had pretemporal existence, and that the Man Who was born of Mary existed before the coming in the flesh! Well, I think it superfluous to spend time in discussing what is admitted, seeing that truth itself frees us from the charge. In a case, indeed, where one may have given the calumniators some handle against oneself, it is proper to resist accusers: but where there is no danger of being suspected of some absurd charge, the accusation becomes a proof, not of the false charge made against him who is calumniated, but of the madness of the accuser. As, however, in dealing with the charge of being ashamed of the Cross, we showed by our examination that the charge recoiled upon the accuser, so we shall show how this charge too returns upon those who make it, since it is they, and not we, who lay down the doctrine of the change of the Son from like lo like in the dispensation of the Passion. We will examine briefly, bringing them side by side, the statements of each party. We say that the Only-begotten God, having by His own agency brought all things into being, by Himselfhyperlink has full power over all things, while the nature of man is also one of the things that were made by Him: and that when this had fallen away to evil, and come to be in the destruction of death, He by His own agency drew it up once more to immortal life, by means of the Man in whom He tabernacled, taking to Himself humanity in completeness, and that He mingled His life-giving power with our mortal and perishable nature, and changed, by the combination with Himself, our deadness to living grace and power. And this we declare to be the mystery of the Lord according to the flesh, that He Who is immutable came to be in that which is mutable, to the end that altering it for the better, and changing it from the worse, He might abolish the evil which is mingled with our mutable condition, destroying the evil in Himself. For "our God is a consuming firehyperlink ," by whom all the material of wickedness is done away. This is our statement. What does our accuser say? Not that He Who was immutable and uncreated was mingled with that which came into being by creation, and which had therefore suffered a change in the direction of evil; but he does say that He, being Himself created, came to that which was kindred and homogeneous with Himself, not coming from a transcendent nature to put on the lowlier nature by reason of His love to man, but becoming that very thing which He was.

For as regards the general character of the appellation, the name of "creature" is one, as predicated of all things that have come into bring from nothing, while the divisions into sections of the things which we contemplate as included in the term "creature", are separated one from the other by the variation of their properties: so that if He is created, and man is created. He was "emptied," to use Eunomius' phrase, to become Himself, and changed His place, not from the transcendent to the lowly, but from what is similar in kind to what (save in regard of the special character of body and the incorporeal) is similar in dignity. To whom now will the just vote of those who have to try our cause be given, or who will seem to them to be under the weight of these charges? he who says that the created was saved by the uncreated God, or he who refers the cause of our salvation to the creature? Surely the judgment of pious men is not doubt-rid. For any one who knows clearly the difference which there is between the created and the uncreated, (terms of which the divergence is marked by dominion and slavery. since the uncreated God, as the prophet says, "ruleth with His power for everhyperlink ," while all things in the creation are servants to Him, according to the voice of the same prophet, which says "all things serve Theehyperlink ,") he, I say, who carefully considers these matters, surely cannot fail to recognize the person who makes the Only-begotten change from servitude to servitude. For if, according to Paul, the whole creation "is in bondagehyperlink ," and if, according to Eunomius, the essential nature of the Only-begotten is created, our adversaries maintain, surely, by their doctrines, not that the master was mingled with the servant, but that a servant came to be among servants. As for our saying that the Lord was in the form of a servant before His presence in the flesh, that is just like charging us with saying that the stars are black and the sun misty, and the sky low, and water dry, and so on:-a man who does not maintain a charge on the ground of what he has heard, but makes up what seems good to him at his own sweet will, need not be sparing in making against us such charges as these. It is just the same thing for us to be called to account for the one set of charges as for the other, so far as concerns the fact that they have no basis for them in anything that we have said. How could one who says distinctly that the true Son was in the glory of the Father, insult the eternal glory of the Only-begotten by conceiving it to have been "in the form of a servant"? When our author thinks proper to speak evil of us, and at the same time takes care to present his case with some appearance of truth, it may perhaps not be superfluous or useless to rebut his unfounded accusations.

§5. Thereafter He Shows that There are Not Two Christs or Two Lords, But One Christ and One Lord, and that the Divine Nature, After Mingling with Human, Preserved the Properties of Each Nature Without Confusion, and Declares that the Operations Are, by Reason of the Union, Predicated of the Two Natures in Common, in the Sense that the Lord Took Upon Himself the Sufferings of the Servant, and the Humanity is Glorified with Him in the Honour that is the Lord's, and that by the Power of the Divine Nature that is Made Anew, Conformably with that Divine Nature Itself.

His next charge too has its own absurdity of the same sort. For he reproaches us with saying that there are "two Christs," and "two Lords," without being able to make good his charge from our words, but employing falsehood at discretion to suit his fancy. Since, then, he deems it within his power to say what he likes, why does he utter his falsehood with such care about detail, and maintain that we speak but of two Christs? Let him say, if he likes, that we preach ten Christs, or ten times ten, or extend the number to a thousand, that he may handle his calumny more vigorously. For blasphemy is equally involved in the doctrine of two Christs, and in that of more, and the character of the two charges is also equally devoid of proof. When he shows, then, that we do speak of two Christs, let him have a verdict against us, as much as though he had given proof of ten thousand. But he says that he convicts us by our own statements. Well, let us look once more at those words of our master by means of which he thinks to raise his charges against us. He says "he" (he, that is, who says "Him God made Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified") "is not setting forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but the terms which belong to the Incarnation ...laying stress by the demonstrative word on that in Him which was human and was seen by all." This is what he wrote. But whence has Eunomius managed by these words to bring on the stage his "two Christs"? Does saying that the demonstrative word lays stress on that which is visible, convey the proof of maintaining "two Christs"? Ought we (to avoid being charged with speaking of "two Highests") to deny the fact that by Him the Lord was highly exalted after His Passion? seeing that God the Word, Who was in the beginning, was Highest, and was also highly exalted after His Passion when He rose from the dead, as the Apostle says. We must of necessity choose one of two courses-either say that He was highly exalted after the Passion (which is just the same as saying that He was made Lord and Christ), and be impeached by Eunomius, or, if we avoid the accusation, deny the confession of the high exaltation of Him Who suffered.

Now at this point it seems right to put forward once more our accuser's statement insupport of our own defence. We shall therefor repeat word for word the statement laiddown by him, which supports our argument as follows:-"The blessed John," he says,"teaches us that God the Word, by Whom allthings were made, has become incarnate, saying`And the Word was made flesh.'" Does he understand what he is writing when he adds this to his own argument? I can hardly myselfthink that the same man can at once be aware of the meaning of these words and contendagainst our statement. For if any one examinesthe words carefully, he will find that there is nomutual conflict between what is said by us and what is said by him. For we both consider the dispensation in the flesh apart, and regard the Divine power in itself: and he, in like manner with ourselves, says that the Word that was in the beginning has been manifested in the flesh: yet no one ever charged him, nor does he charge himself, with preaching "two Words", Him Who was in the beginning, and Him Who was made flesh; for he knows, surely, that the Word is identical with the Word, He who appeared in the flesh with Him Who was with God. But the flesh was not identical with the Godhead, till this too was transformed to the Godhead, so that of necessity one set of attributes befits God the Word, and a different set of attributes befits the "form of the servanthyperlink ." If, then, in view of such a confession, he does not reproach himself with the duality of Words, why are we falsely charged with dividing the object of oar faith into "two Christs"?-we, who say that He Who was highly exalted after His Passion, was made Lord and Christ by His unionhyperlink with Him Who is verily Lord and Christ, knowing by what we have learnt that the Divine Nature is always one and the same, and with the same mode of existence, while the flesh in itself is that which reason and sense apprehend concerning it, but when mixedhyperlink with the Divine no longer remains in its own limitations and properties, but is taken up to that which is overwhelming and transcendent. Our contemplation, however, of the respective properties of the flesh and of the Godhead remains free from confusion, so long as each of these is contemplated by itselfhyperlink , as, for example, "the Word was before the ages, but the flesh came into being in the last times": but one could not reverse this statement, and say that the latter is pretemporal, or that the Word has come into being in the last times. The flesh is of a passible, the Word of an operative nature: and neither is the flesh capable of making the things that are, nor is the power possessed by the Godhead capable of suffering. The Word was in the beginning with God, the man was subject to the trial of death; and neither was the Human Nature from everlasting, nor the Divine Nature mortal: and all the rest of the attributes are contemplated in the same way. It is not the Human Nature that raises up Lazarus, nor is it the power that cannot suffer that weeps for him when he lies in the grave: the tear proceeds from the Man, the life from the true Life. It is not the Human Nature that feeds the thousands, nor is it omnipotent might that hastens to the fig-tree. Who is it that is weary with the journey, and Who is it that by His word made all the world subsist? What is the brightness of the glory, and what is that that was pierced with the nails? What form is it that is buffeted in the Passion, and what form is it that is glorified from everlasting? So much as this is clear, (even if one does not follow the argument into detail,) that the blows belong to the servant in whom the Lord was, the honours to the Lord Whom the servant compassed about, so that by reason of contact and the union of Natures the proper attributes of each belong to bothhyperlink , as the Lord receives the stripes of the servant, while the servant is glorified with the honour of the Lord; for this is why the Cross is said to be the Cross of the Lord of gloryhyperlink , and why every tongue confesses that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Fatherhyperlink .

But if we are to discuss the other points in the same way, let us consider what it is that dies, and what it is that destroys death; what it is that is renewed, and what it is that empties itself. The Godhead "empties" Itself that It may come within the capacity of the Human Nature, and the Human Nature is renewed by becoming Divine through its commixturehyperlink with the Divine. For as air is not retained in water when it is dragged down by some weighty body and left in the depth of the water, but rises quickly to its kindred element, while the water is often raised up together with the air in its upward rush, being moulded by the circle of air into a convex shape with a slight and membrane-like surface, so too, when the true Life that underlay the flesh sped up, after the Passion, to Itself, the flesh also was raised up with It, being forced upwards from corruption to incorruptibility by the Divine immortality. And as fire that lies in wood hidden below the surface is often unobserved by the senses of those who see, or even touch it, but is manifest when it blazes up, so too, at His death (which He brought about at His will, Who separated His soul from His Body, Who said to His own Father "Into Thy hands I commend My Spirithyperlink ," Who, as He says, "had power to lay it down and had power to take it againhyperlink "), He Who, because He is the Lord of glory, despised that which is shame among men, having concealed, as it were, the flame of His life in His bodily Nature, by the dispensation of His deathhyperlink , kindled and inflamed it once more by the power of His own Godhead, fostering into life that which had been brought to death, having infused with the infinity of His Divine power that humble first-fruits of our nature, made it also to be that which He Himself was-making the servile form to be Lord, and the Man born of Mary to be Christ, and Him Who was crucified through weakness to be Life and power, and making all that is piously conceived to be in God the Word to be also in that which the Word assumed, so that these attributes no longer seem to be in either Nature by way of division, but that the perishable Nature being, by its commixture with the Divine, made anew in conformity with the Nature that overwhelms it, participates in the power of the Godhead, as if one were to say that mixture makes a drop of vinegar mingled in the deep to be sea, by reason that the natural quality of Ibis liquid does not continue in the infinity of that which overwhelms ithyperlink . This is our doctrine, which does not, as Eunomius charges against it, preach a plurality of Christs, but the union of the Man with the Divinity, and which calls by the name of "making" the transmutation of the Mortal to the Immortal, of the Servant to the Lord, of Sinhyperlink to Righteousness, of the Cursehyperlink to the Blessing, of the Man to Christ. What further have our slanderers left to say, to show that we preach "two Christs" in our doctrine, if we refuse to say that He Who was in the beginning from the Father uncreatedly Lord, and Christ, and the Word, and God, was "made," and declare that the blessed Peter was pointing briefly and incidentally to the mystery of the Incarnation, according to the meaning now explained, that the Nature which was crucified through weakness has Itself also, as we have said, become, by the overwhelming power of Him Who dwells in It, that which the Indweller Himself is in fact and in name, even Christ and Lord?


40 This seems to be the sense of the Greek title. The Latin version of the earlier editions appears to represent a different reading, "contigisse, quando in passione homo Christus passus est."

41 This seems to be the force of autw&Eaxute\ auton might give a simpler construction, but the sense would not be changed. Oehler, who here restores some words which were omitted in the earlier editions, makes no mention of any variation of reading.

42 Heb. xii. 29.

43 Ps. lxvi. 6 (LXX.).

44 Ps. cxix. 91.

45 Cf. Rom. viii. 21.

46 This statement would seem to imply that, at some time after the Incarnation, the Humanity of Christ was transformed to the Divine Nature, and made identical with It. From other passages in what has preceded, it would seem that this change in the mutual relation of the two Natures might, according to the words of S. Gregory, be conceived as taking place after the Passion. Thus it might be said that S. Gregory conceived the union of the two Natures to be, since the Passion (or, more strictly, since the "exaltation'), what the Monophysites conceived it to be from the moment of the Incarnation. But other phrases, again, seem to show that he conceived the two Natures still to remain distinct (see note 4 inf.). There is, however, ample justification in S. Gregory's language for the remark of Bp. Hefele, that S. Gregory "cannot entirely free himself from the notion of a transmutation of the Human Nature into the Divine." (Hefele, Hist. of the Councils, Eng. Trans. vol. iii. p. 4.)

47 enwsewj.

48 anakraqeisa proj to qeion.

49 Here S. Gregory seems to state accurately the differentiation of the two Natures, while he recognizes the possibility of the communicatio idiomatum: but it is not clear that he would acknowledge that the two Natures still remain distinct. Even this, however, seems to be implied in his citation of Phil. ii. 11, at a later point.

50 Here is truly stated the ground of the communicatio idiomatum: while the illustrations following seem to show that S. Gregory recognized this communicatio as existing at the time of our Lord's humiliation, and as continuing to exist after His "exaltation"; that he acknowledged, that is, the union of the two Natures before the "exaltation," and the distinction of the two Natures after that event.

51 1 Cor ii. 8.

52 Phil. i. 2.

53 anakrasewj

54 S. Luke xxiii. 46.

55 S. John x. 18.

56 Altering Oehler's punctuation, which would connect en th kata ton qanaton oikonomia, not with sugkaluyaj, but with anhye.

57 Here may be observed at once a conformity to the phraseology of the Monophysites (bearing in mind that S. Gregory is not speaking, as they were, of the union of the two Natures in the Incarnation, but of the change wrought by the "exaltation"), and a suggestion that the Natures still remain distinct, as otherwise it would be idle to speak of the Human Nature as participating in the power of the Divine.

58 Cf. 2 Cor. v. 21.

59 Cf. Gal. iii. 13.