Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.32 Answer to Eunomius Part 4

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.32 Answer to Eunomius Part 4

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.32 Answer to Eunomius Part 4

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For to suppose that God used the Hebrew tongue, when there was no one to hear and understand such a language, methinks no reasonable being will consent. We read in the Acts that the Divine power divided itself into many languages for this purpose, that no one of alien tongue might lose his share of the benefit. But if God spoke in human language before the Creation, whom was He to benefit by using it? For that His speech should have some adaptation to the capacity of the hearers, with a view to their profit, no one would conceive to be unworthy of God's love to man, for Paul the follower of Christ knew how to adapt his words suitably to the habits and disposition of his hearers, making himself milk for babes and strong meat for grown menhyperlink . But where no object was to be gained by such use of language, to argue that God, as it were, declaimed such words by Himself, when there was no one in need of the information they would convey-such an idea, methinks, is at once both blasphemous and absurd. Neither, then, did God speak in the Hebrew language, nor did He express Himself according to any form in use among the Gentiles. But whatsoever of God's words are recorded by Moses or the Prophets, are indications of the Divine will, flashing forth, now in one way, now in another, on the pure intellect of those holy men, according to the measure of the grace of which they were partakers. Moses, then, spoke his mother-tongue, and that in which he was educated. But he attributed these words to God, as I have said, repeatedly, on account of the childishness of those who were being brought to the knowledge of God, in order to give a clear representation of the Divine will, and to render his hearers more obedient, as being awed by the authority of the speaker.

But this is denied by Eunomius, the author of all this contumely with which we are assailed, and the companion and adviser of this impious band. For, changing insolence into courtesy, I will present him with his own words. He maintains, in so many words, that he has the testimony of Moses himself to his assertion that men were endowed with the use of the things named, and of their names, by the Creator of nature, and that the naming of the things given was prior in time to the creation of those who should use them. Now, if he is in possession of some Moses of his own, from whom he has learned this wisdom, and, making this his base of operations, relies on such statements as these, viz. that God, as he himself says, lays down the laws of human speech, enacting that things shall be called in one way and not in another, let him trifle as much as he pleases, with his Moses in the background to support his assertions. But if there is only one Moses whose writings are the common source of instruction to those who are learned in the Divine Word, we will freely accept our condemnation if we find ourselves refuted by the law of that Moses. But where did he find this law respecting verbs and nouns? Let him produce it in the very words of the text. The account of the Creation, and the genealogy of the successive generations, and the history of certain events, and the complex system of legislation, and various regulations in regard to religious service and daily life, these are the chief heads of the writings of Moses. But, if he says that there was any legislative enactment in regard to words, let him point it out, and I will hold my tongue. But he cannot; for, if he could, he would not abandon the more striking evidences of the Deity, for such as can only procure him ridicule, and not credit, from men of sense. For to think it the essential point in piety to attribute the invention of words to God, Whose praise the whole world and the wonders that are therein are incompetent to celebrate-must it not be a proceeding of extreme folly so to neglect higher grounds of praise, and to magnify God on such as are purely human? His fiat preluded Creation, but it was recorded by Moses after human fashion, though Divinely issued. That will of God, then, which brought about the creation of the world by His Divine power, consisted, says our careful student of the Scriptures, in the teaching of words. And as though God had said, "Let there be a word," or, "Let speech be created," or, "Let this or that have such or such an appellation," so, in advocacy of his trifling, he brings forward the fact that it was by the impulse of the Divine will that Creation took place. For with all his study and experience in the Scriptures he knows not even this, that the impulse of the mind is frequently spoken of in Scripture as a voice. And for this we have the evidence of Moses himself, whose meaning he frequently perverts, but whom on this point he simply ignores. For who is there, however slightly acquainted with the holy volume, who does not know this, that the people of Israel who had just escapedhyperlink from Egypt were suddenly affrighted in the wilderness by the pursuit of the Egyptians, and when dangers encompassed them on all sides, and on one side the sea cut off their passage as by a wall, while the enemy barred their flight in the rear, the people coming together to the Prophet charged him with being the cause of their helpless condition? And when he comforted them in their abject terror, and roused them to courage, a voice came from God, addressing the Prophet by name, "Wherefore criest thou unto Me?hyperlink " And yet before this the narrative makes no mention of any utterance on the part of Moses. But the thought which the Prophet had lifted up to God is called a cry, though uttered in silence in the hidden thought of his heart. If, then, Moses cries, though without speaking, as witnessed by Him Who hears, those "groanings which cannot be utteredhyperlink ," is it strange that the Prophet, knowing the Divine will, so far as it was lawful for him to tell it and for us to hear it, revealed it by known and familiar words, describing God's discourse after human fashion, not indeed expressed in words, but signified by the effects themselves? "In the beginning," he says, "God created," not the names of heaven and earth, but, "the heaven and the earthhyperlink ." And again, "God said, Let there be light," not the name Light: and having divided the light from the darkness, "God called," he says, "the light Day, and the darkness He called Night."

On these passages it is probable that our opponents will take their stand. And I will agree for them with what is said, and will myself take advantage of their positionshyperlink further on in our inquiry, in order that what we teach may be more firmly established, no point in controversy being left without due examination. "God called," he says, "the firmament Heaven, and He called the dry land Earth, and the light Day, and the darkness He called Night." How comes it, then, they will ask, when the Scripture admits that their appellations were given them by God, that you say that their names are the work of human invention? What, then, is our reply? We return to our plain statement, and we assert, that He Who brought all creation into being out of nothing is the Creator of things seen in substantial existence, not of unsubstantial words having no existence but in the sound of the voice and the lisp of the tongue. But things are named by the indication of the voice in conformity with the nature and qualities inherent in each, the names being adapted to the things according to the vernacular language of each several race.

But since the nature of most things that are seen in Creation is not simple, so as to allow of all that they connote being comprehended in one word, as, for instance, in the case of fire, the element itself is one thing in its nature, while the word which denotes it is another (for fire itself possesses the qualities of shining, of burning, of drying and heating, and consuming whatever fuel it lays hold of, but the name is but a brief word of one syllable), on this account speech, which distinguishes the powers and qualities seen in fire, gives each of them a name of its own, as I have said before. And one cannot say that only a name has been given to fire when it is spoken of as bright, or consuming, or anything else that we observe it to be. For such words denote qualities physically inherent in it. So likewise, in the case of heaven and the firmament, though one nature is signified by each of these words, their difference represents one or other of its peculiar characteristics, in looking at which we learn one thing by the appellation "heaven," and another by "firmament." For when speech would define the limit of sensible creation, beyond which it is succeeded by the transmundane void apprehended by the mind alone, in contrast with the intangible and incorporeal and invisible, the beginning and the end of all material subsistences is called the firmament. And when we survey the environment of terrestrial things, we call that which encompasses all material nature, and which forms the boundary of all things visible, by the name of heaven. In the same manner with regard to earth and dry land, since all heavy and downward-tending nature was divided into these two elements, earth and water, the appellation "dry" defines to a certain extent its opposite, for earth is called dry in opposition to moist, since having thrown off, by Divine command, the water that overspread it, it appeared in its own character. But the name "earth" does not continue to express the signification of some one only of its qualities, but, by virtue of its meaning, it embraces all that the word connotes, e.g. hardness, density, weight, resistance, capability of supporting animal and vegetable life. Accordingly, the word "dry" was not changed by speech to the last name put upon it (for its new name did not make it cease to be called so), but while both the appellations remained, a peculiar signification attached itself to each, the one distinguishing it in nature and property from its opposite, the other embracing all its attributes collectively. And so in light and day, and again in night and darkness, we do not find a pronunciation of syllables created to suit them by the Maker of all things, but rather through these appellations we note the substance of the things which they signify. At the entrance of light, by the will of God the darkness that prevailed over the earliest creation is scattered. But the earth lying in the midst, and being upheld on all sides by its surrounding of different elements, as Job saith, "He hangeth the earth upon nothinghyperlink ," it was necessary when light travelled over one side and the earth obstructed it on the opposite by its own bulk, that a side of darkness should be left by the obscuration, and so, as the perpetual motion of the heavens cannot but carry along with it the darkness resulting from the obscuration, God ordained this revolution for a measure of duration of time. And that measure is day and night. For this reason Moses, according to his wisdom, in his historical elucidation of these matters, named the shadow resulting from the earth's obstruction, a dividing of the light from the darkness, and the constant and measured alternation of light and darkness over the surface of the earth he called day and night. So that what was called light was not named day, but as "there was light," and not the bare name of light, so the measure of time also was created and the name followed, not created by God in a sound of words, but because the very nature of the thing assumed this vocal notation. And as, if it had been plainly said by the Lawgiver that nothing that is seen or named is of spontaneous generation or unfashioned, but that it has its subsistence from God, we might have concluded of ourselves that God made the world and all its parts, and the order which is seen in them, and the faculty of distinguishing them, so also by what he says he leads us on to understand and believe that nothing which exists is without beginning. And with this view he describes the successive events of Creation in orderly method, enumerating them one after another. But it was impossible to represent them in language, except by expressing their signification by words that should indicate it. Since, then, it is written that God called the light day, it must be understood that God made the day from light, being something different, by the force of the term. For you cannot apply the same definition to "light" and "day," but light is what we understand by the opposite of darkness, and day is the extent of the measure of the interval of light. In the same way you may regard night and darkness by the same difference of description, defining darkness as the negation of light, and calling night the extent of the encompassing darkness. Thus in every way our argument is confirmed, though not, perhaps, drawn out in strict logical form-showing that God is the Maker of things, not of empty words. For things have their names not for His sake but for ours. For as we cannot always have all things before our eyes, we take knowledge of some of the things that are present with us from time to time, and others we register in our memories. But it would be impossible to keep memory unconfused unless we had the notation of words to distinguish the things that are stored up in our minds from one another. But to God all things are present, nor does He need memory, all things being within the range of His penetrating vision. What need, then, in His case, of parts of speech, when His own wisdom and power embraces and holds the nature of all things distinct and unconfused? Wherefore all things that exist substantially are from God; but, for our guidance, all things that exist are provided with names to indicate them. And if any one say that such names were imposed by the arbitrary usage of mankind, he will be guilty of no offence against the scheme of Divine Providence. For we do not say that the nature of things was of human invention, but only their names. The Hebrew calls Heaven by one name, the Canaanite by another, but both of them understand it alike, being in no way led into error by the difference of the sounds that convey the idea of the object. But the over-cautious and timid will-worship of these clever folk, on whose authority he asserts that, if it were granted that words were given to things by men, men would be of higher authority than God, is proved to be unsubstantial even by the example which we find recorded of Moses. For who gave Moses his name? Was it not Pharaoh's daughter who named him from what had happenedhyperlink ? For water is called Moses in the language of the Egyptians. Since, then, in consequence of the tyrant's order, his parents had placed the babe in an ark and consigned it to the stream (for so some related concerning him), but by the will of God the ark was floated by the current and carried to the bank, and found by the princess, who happened just then to be taking the refreshment of the bath, as the child had been gained "from the water," she is said to have given him his name as a memorial of the occurrence,-a name by which God Himself did not disdain to address His servant, nor did He deem it beneath Him to allow the name given by the foreign woman to remain the Prophet's proper appellation.

In like manner before him Jacob, having taken hold of his brother's heel, was called a supplanterhyperlink , from the attitude in which he came to the birth. For those who are learned in such matters tell us that such is the interpretation of the word "Jacob," as translated into Greek. So, too, Pharez was so named by his nurse from the incident at his birthhyperlink , yet no one on that account, like Eunomius, displayed any jealousy of his assuming an authority above that of God. Moreover the mothers of the patriarchs gave them their names, as Reuben, and Simeon, and Levihyperlink , and all those who came after them. And no one started up, like our new author, as patron of Divine providence, to forbid women to usurp Divine authority by the imposition of names. And what shall we say of other particulars in the sacred record, such as the "waters of strife," and the "place of mourning," and the "hill of the foreskins," and the "valley of the cluster," and the "field of blood," and such-like names, of human imposing, but oftentimes recorded to have been uttered by the Person of God, from which we may learn that men may notify the meaning of things by words without presumption, and that the Divine nature does not depend on words for its evidence to itself?

But I will pass over his other babblings against the truth, possessing as they do no force against our doctrines, for I deem it superfluous to linger any longer over such absurdities. For who can be so wanting in the more important subjects of thought as to waste energy on silly arguments, and to contend with men who speak of us as asserting that "man's forethought is of superior weight and authority to God's guardianship," and that we "ascribe the carelessness which confuses the feebler minds to the providence of God"? These are the exact words of our calumniator. But I, for my part, think it equally as absurd to pay attention to remarks like that, as to occupy myself with old wives' dreams. For to think of securing the dignity of rule and sovereignty to the Divine Being by a form of words, and to show the great power of God to be dependent upon this, and on the other hand to neglect Him and disregard the providence which belongs to Him, and to lay it to our reproach that men, having received from God the faculty of reason, make an arbitrary use of words to signify things-what is this but an old wife's fable, or a drunkard's dream? For the true power, and authority, and dominion, and sovereignty of God do not, we think, consist in syllables. Were it so, any and every inventor of words might claim equal honour with God. But the infinite ages, and the beauties of the universe, and the beams of the heavenly luminaries, and all the wonders of land and sea, and the angelic hosts and supra-mundane powers, and whatever else there is whose existence in the realm above is revealed to us under various figures by Holy Scripture-these are the things that bear witness to God's power over all. Whereas, to attribute the invention of vocal sound to those who are naturally endowed with the faculty of speech, this involves no impiety towards Him Who gave them their voice. Nor indeed do we hold it to be a great thing to invent words significative of things. For the being to whom Holy Scripture in the history of the creation gave the name of "manhyperlink " (anqrwpoj), a word of human devising, that same being Job calls "mortalhyperlink " (brotoj), while of profane writers, some call him "human being" (fwj), and others "articulate speaker" (me/roy)-to say nothing of other varieties of the name. Do we, then, elevate them to equal honour with God, because they also invented names equivalent to that of "man," alike signifying their subject. But, as I have said before, let us leave this idle talk, and make no account of his string of revilings, in which he charges us with lying against the Divine oracles, and uttering slanders with effrontery even against God.

To pass on, then, to what remains. He brings forward once more some of the Master's words, to this effect: "And it is in precisely the same manner that we are taught by Holy Scripture the employment of a conception. Our Lord Jesus Christ, when declaring to men the nature of His Godhead, explains it by certain special characteristics, calling Himself the Door, the Bread, the Way, the Vine, the Shepherd, the Light." Now I think it seemly to pass over his insolent remarks on these words (for it is thus that his rhetorical training has taught him to contend with his opponents), nor will I suffer myself to be disturbed by his ebullitions of childish folly. Let us, however, examine one pungent and "irresistible" argument which he puts forward for our refutation. Which of the sacred writers, he asks, gives evidence that these names were attributed to our Lord by a conception? But which of them, I reply, forbids it, deeming it a blasphemy to regard such names as the result of a conception? For if he maintains that its not being mentioned is a proof that it is forbidden, by a parity of reasoning he must admit that its not being forbidden is an argument that it is permitted. Is our Lord called by these names, or does Eunomius deny this also? If he does deny that these names are spoken of Christ, we have conquered without a battle. For what more signal victory could there be, than to prove our adversary to be fighting against God, by robbing the sacred words of the Gospel of their meaning? But if he admits that it is true that Christ is named by these names, let him say in what manner they may be applied without irreverence to the Only-begotten Son of God. Does he take "the stone" as indicative of His nature? Does he understand His essence under the figure of the Axe (not to encumber our argument by enumerating the rest)? None of these names represents the nature of the Only-begotten, or His Godhead, or the peculiar character of His essence. Nevertheless He is called by these names, and each appellation has its own special fitness. For we cannot, without irreverence, suppose anything in the words of God to be idle and unmeaning. Let him say, then, if he disallows these names as the result of a conception, how do they apply to Christ? For we on our part say this, that as our Lord provided for human life in various forms, each variety of His beneficence is suitably distinguished by His several names, His provident care and working on our behalf passing over into the mould of a name. And such a name is said by us to be arrived at by a conception. But if this is not agreeable to our opponents, let it be as each of them pleases. In his ignorance, however, of the figures of Scripture, our opponent contradicts what is said. For if he had learned the Divine names, he must have known that our Lord is called a Curse and Sinhyperlink , and a Heiferhyperlink , and a lion's Whelphyperlink , and a Bear bereaved of her whelpshyperlink , and a Leopardhyperlink and such-like names, according to various modes of conception, by Holy Scripture, the sacred and inspired writers by such names, as by well-directed shafts, indicating the central point of the idea they had in view; even though these words, when taken in their literal and obvious signification, seem not above suspicion, but each single one of them, unless we allow it to be predicated of God by some process of conception, will not escape the taint of a blasphemous suggestion. But it would be a lengthy task to bring them forward, and elucidate in every case how, in the general idea, these words have been pervertedhyperlink out of their obvious meanings, and how it is only in connection with the conceptive faculty that the names of God can be reconciled with that reverence which is His due.

But to return. Such names are used of our Lord, and no one familiar with the inspired Scriptures can deny the fact. What then? Does Eunomius affirm that the words are indicative of His nature itself? If so, he asserts that the Divine nature is multiform, and that the variety which it displays in what is signified by the names is very complex. For the meanings of the words Bread and Lion are not the same, nor those of Axe and Waterhyperlink , but to each of them we can assign a definition of its own, of which the others do not partake. They do not, therefore, signify nature or essence, yet no one will presume to say that this nomenclature is quite inappropriate and unmeaning. If, then, these words are given us, but not as indicative of essence, and every word given in Scripture is just and appropriate, how else can these appellations be fitly applied to the Only-begotten Son of God, except in connection with the faculty of conception? For it is clear that the Divine Being is spoken of under various names, according to the variety of His operations, so that we may think of Him in the aspect so named. What harm, then, is done to our reverential ideas of God by this mental operation, instituted with a view to our thinking upon the things done, and which we call conception, though if any one choose to call it by some other name, we shall make no objection.

But, like a mighty wrestler, he will not relinquish his irresistible hold on us, and affirms in so many words, that "these names are the work of human thought and conception, and that, by the exercise of this operation of the mind by some, results are arrived at which no Apostle or Evangelist has taught." And after this doughty onslaught he raises that sanctimonious voice of his, spitting out his foul abuse at us with a tongue well schooled to such language. "For," says he, "to ascribe homonyms, drawn from analogy, to human thought and conception is the work of a mind that has lost all judicial sense, and that studies the words of the Lord with an enfeebled understanding and dishonest habit of thought." Mercy on us! what a logical argument! how scientifically it proceeds to its conclusion! Who after this will dare to speak up for the cause of conception, when such a stench is poured forth from his mouth upon those who attempt speaking? I suppose, then, that we, who do attempt speaking, must forbear to examine his argument, for fear of his stirring up against us the cesspool of his abuse. And verily it is weak-mindedhyperlink to let ourselves be irritated by childish absurdities. We will therefore allow our insolent adversary full liberty to indulge in his method as he will. But we will return to the Master's argument, that thence too we may muster reinforcements for the truth. Eunomius has been reminded of "analogy" and has perceived "the homonyms to be derived from it." Now where or from whom did he learn these terms? Not from Moses, not from the Prophets and Apostles, not from the Evangelists. It is impossible that he should have learned them from the teaching of any Scripture. How came he, then, to use them? The very word which describes this or that signification of a thought as analogy, is it not the invention of the thinking faculty of him who utters ithyperlink ? How is it, then, that he fails to perceive that he is using the views he fights against as his allies in the war? For he makes war against our principle of words being formed by the operation of conception, and would endeavour to establish, by the aid of words formed on that very principle, that it is unlawful to use them. "It is not," says he, "the teaching of any of the sacred writers." To whom, then, of the ancients do you yourself ascribe the term "ungenerate," and its being predicated of the essence of God? or is it allowable for you, when you want to establish some of your impious conclusions, to coin and invent terms to your own liking; but if anything is said by some one else in contravention of your impiety, to deprive your adversary of similar licence? Great indeed would be the power you would assume if you could make good your claim to such authority as this, that what you refuse to others should be allowable to you alone, and that what you yourself presume to do by virtue of it, you should prevent others from doing. You condemn, as by an edict, the doctrine that these names were applied to Christ as a result of conception, because none of the sacred writers have declared that they ought so to be applied. How, then, can you lay down the law that the Divine essence should be denoted by the word "ungenerate"-a term which none of the sacred writers can be shown to have handed down to us? For if this is the test of the right use of words, that only such shall be employed as the inspired word of Scripture shall authorize, the word "ungenerate" must be erased from your own writings, since none of the sacred writers has sanctioned the expression. But perhaps you accept it by reason of the sense that resides in it. Well, we ourselves in the same way accept the term "conception" by reason of the sense that resides in it. Accordingly we will either exclude both from use, or neither, and whichever alternative be adopted, we are equally masters of the field. For if the term "ungenerate" be altogether suppressed, all our adversaries' clamour against the truth is suppressed along with it, and a doctrine worthy of the Only-begotten Son of God will shine forth, inasmuch as logical opposition can furnish no namehyperlink to detract from the majesty of the Lord. But if both be retained, in that case also the truth will prevail, and we along with it, when we have altered the word "ungeneracy" from the substance, into a conception, of the Deity. But so long as he does not exclude the term "ungenerate" from his own writings, let our modern Pharisee admonish himself not to behold the mote that is in our eye, before he has cast out the beam that is in his own.

"But God," he says, "gave the weakest of terrestrial things a share in the most honourable names, though not giving them an equal share of dignity, and to the highest He imparted the names of the lowest, though the natural inferiority of the latter was not transferred to the former along with their names." We quote this in his very words. If they contain some deep and recondite meaning which has escaped us, let those inform us who see what is beyond our range of vision-initiated as they are by him in his esoteric and unspeakable mysteries. But if they admit of no interpretation beyond what is obvious, I scarcely know which of the two are more to be pitied, those who say such things or those who listen to them. To the weakest of terrestrial things, he says, God has given names in common with the most honourable, though not giving them an equal share of dignity. Let us examine what is meant by this. The weakest things, he says, are dignified with the bare name belonging to the honourable, their nature not corresponding with their name. And this he states to be the work of the God of truth-to dignify the worse nature with the worthier appellation! On the other hand, he says that God applies the less honourable names to things superior in their nature, the nature of the latter not being carried over to the former along with the appellation. But that the matter may be made plainer still, the absurdity shall be shown by actual instances. If any one should call a man who is esteemed for every virtue, intemperate; or, on the other hand, a man equally in disrepute for his vices, good and moral, would sensible people think him of sound mind, or one who had any regard for truth, reversing, as would be the case, the meanings of words, and giving them a non-natural signification? I for my part think not. He speaks, then, of things relating to God, out of all keeping with our common ideas and with the holy Scriptures. For in matters of ordinary life it is only those who are unsettled by drink or madness that go wrong in names, and use them out of their proper meaning, calling, it may be, a man a dog, or vice versa. But Holy Scripture is so far from sanctioning such confusion, that we may clearly hear the voice of prophecy lamenting it. "Woe unto him," says Isaiah, "that calls darkness light, and light darkness, that calls bitter sweet, and sweet bitterhyperlink ." Now what induces Eunomius to apply this absurdity to his God? Let those who are initiated in his mysteries say what they judge those weakest of terrestrial things to be, which God has dignified with most honourable appellations. The weakest of existing things are those animals whose generation takes place from the corruption of moist elements, as the most honourable are virtue, and holiness, and whatever else is pleasing in the sight of God. Are flies, then, and midges, and frogs, and whatever insects are generated from dung, dignified with the names of holiness and virtue, so as to be consecrated with honourable names, though not sharing in such high qualities, as saith Eunomius? But never as yet have we heard anything like this, that these weak things are called by high-sounding titles, or that what is great and honourable by nature is degraded by the name of any one of them. Noah was a righteous man, saith the Scripture, Abraham was faithful, Moses meek, Daniel wise, Joseph chaste, Job blameless, David perfect in patience. Let them say, then, whether all these had their names by contraries; or, to take the case of those who are unfavourably spoken of, as Nabal the Carmelite, and Pharaoh the Egyptian, and Abimelech the alien, and all those who are mentioned for their vices, whether they were dignified with honourable names by the voice of God. Not so! But God judges and distinguishes His creatures as they are in nature and truth, not by names contrary to them, but by such appropriate appellations as may give the clearest idea of their meaning.

This it is that our strong-minded opponent, who accuses us of dishonesty, and charges us with being irrational in judgment,-this it is that he pretends to know of the Divine nature. These are the opinions that he puts forth respecting God, as though He mocked His creatures with names untrue to their meaning, bestowing on the weakest the most honourable appellations, and pouring contempt on the honourable by making them synonymous with the base. Now a virtuous man, if carried, even involuntarily, beyond the limits of truth, is overwhelmed with shame. Yet Eunomius thinks it no shame to God that He should seem to give a false colour to things by their appellations. Not such is the testimony of the Scriptures to the Divine nature. "God is long-suffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth," says Davidhyperlink . But how can He be a God of truth Who gives false names to things, and Who perverts the truth in the meanings of their names? Again, He is called by him a righteous Lordhyperlink . Is it, then, a righteous thing to dignify things without honour by honourable names, and, while giving the bare name, to grudge the honour that it denotes? Such is the testimony of these Theologians to their new-fangled God. This is the end of their boasted dialectic cleverness, to display God Himself delighting in deceit, and not superior to the passion of jealousy. For surely it is no better than deceit not to name weak things, as they are in their true nature and worth, but to invest them with empty names, derived from superior things, not proportioning their value to their name; and it is no better than jealousy if, having it in His power to bestow the more honourable appellation on things to be named for some superiority, He grudged them the honour itself, as deeming the happiness of the weak a loss to Himself personally. But I should recommend all who are wise, even if the God of these Gnosticshyperlink is by stress of logic shown to be of such a character, not to think thus of the true God, the Only-begotten, but to look at the truth of facts, giving each of them their due, and thence to deduce His name. "Come, ye blessed," saith our Lord; and again, "Depart, ye cursedhyperlink ," not honouring him who deserves cursing with the name of "blessed," nor, on the other hand, dismissing him who has treasured up for himself the blessing, along with the wicked.

But what is our author's meaning, and what is the object of this argument of his? For no one need imagine that, for lack of something to say, in order that he may seem to extend his discourse to the utmost, he has indulged in all this senseless twaddle. Its very senselessness is not without a meaning, and smacks of heresy. For to say that the most honourable names are applied to the weakest things, though not having by nature an equal apportionment of dignity, secretly paves the way, as it were, for the blasphemy to follow, that he may teach his disciples this; that although the Only-begotten is called God, and Wisdom, and Power, and Light, and the Truth, and the Judge, and the King, and God over all, and the great God, and the Prince of peace, and the Father of the world to come, and so forth, His honour is limited to the name.

He does not, in fact, partake of that dignity which the meaning of those names indicates; and whereas wise Daniel, in setting right the Babylonians' error of idolatry, that they should not worship the brazen image or the dragon, but reverence the name of God, which men in their folly had ascribed to them, clearly showed by what he did that the high and lofty name of God had no likeness to the reptile, or to the image of molten brass-this enemy of God exerts himself in his teaching to prove the very opposite of this in regard to the Only-begotten Son of God, exclaiming in the style which he affects, "Do not regard the names of which our Lord is a partaker, so as to infer His unspeakable and sublime nature. For many of the weakest things are likewise invested with names of honour, lofty indeed in sound, though their nature is not transformed so as to come up to the grandeur of their appellations." Accordingly he says that inferior things receive their honour from God only so far as their names go, no equality of dignity accompanying their appellations. When, therefore, we have learned all the names of the Son that are of lofty signification, we must bear in mind that the honour which they imply is ascribed to Him only so far as the words go, but that, according to the system of nomenclature which they adopt, He does not partake of the dignity implied by the words.

But in dwelling on such nonsense I fear that I am secretly gratifying our adversaries. For in setting the truth against their vain and empty words, I seem to myself to be wearing out the patience of my audience before we come to the brunt of the battle. These points, then, I will leave it to my more learned hearers to dispose of, and proceed with my task. Nor will I now notice a thing he has said, which, however, is closely connected with our inquiry; viz. that these things have been so arranged that human thought and conception can claim no authority over names. But who is there that maintains that what is not seen in its own subsistence has authority over anything? For only those creatures that are governed by their own deliberate will are capable of acting with authority. But thought and conception are an operation of the mind, which depends on the deliberate choice of those who speak, having no independent subsistence, but subsisting only in the force of the things said. But this, he says, belongs to God, the Creator of all things, who, by limitations and rules of relation, operation, and proportion, applies suitable appellations to each of the things named. But this either is sheer nonsense, or contradicts his previous assertions. For if he now professes that God affixes names suitable to their subjects, why does he argue, as we have seen that God bestows lofty names on things without honour, not allowing them a share in the dignity which their names indicate, and again, that He degrades things of a lofty nature by names without honour, their nature not being affected by the meanness of their appellations? But perhaps we are unfair to him in subjecting his senseless collocation of phrases to such accusations as these. For they are altogether alien to any sense (I do not mean only to a sense in keeping with reverence), and they will be found to be utterly devoid of reason by all who understand how to form an accurate judgment in such matters. Since, then, like the fish called the sea-lung, what we see appears to have bulk and volume, which turns out, however, to be only viscous matter disgusting to look at, and still more disgusting to handle, I shall pass over his remarks in silence, deeming that the best answer to his idle effusions. For it would be better that we should not inquire what law governs "operation," and "proportion," and "relation," and who it is that prescribes laws to God in respect to rules and modes of proportion and relation, than that, by busying ourselves in such matters, we should nauseate our hearers, and digress from more important matters of inquiry.


64 ta parateqenta par ekeinwn anqupoisw. He does this below. "And we will return to his a argument that even thence we may muster reinforcements for the Truth." Gregory there goes on to show that Eunomius, who attacks the doctrine that the names of God are the result of Conception, and makes their Scriptural use a proof that they are God's own direct teaching, himself seeks to overthrow this doctrine by means of the term Ungenerate, which is not in Scripture: hence, by his own showing, this theory about the Scripture names is not true. The above is the reading of the Munich ms.: Oehler has the vox nihili pareqenta.

65 Job xxvi. 7.

66 Exod. ii. 10.

67 Gen. xxv. 26.

68 Gen. xxxviii. 29.

69 Gen. xxix. 32-35.

70 Gen. i. 26.

71 Job xiv. 1. brotoj gar gennhtoj gunaikoj, oligobioj kai plhrhj orghj.

72 Gal. iii. 13.

73 Heb. ix. 13.

74 Gen. xlix. 9.

75 Hosea xiii. 3.

76 Hosea xiii. 7.

77 diabeblhtai. The Latin, "vulgo usurpata sunt," misses the force of the Greek. Or "are disliked because of their obvious meaning." Cf. above "even though these words ...seem not above suspicion (diabeblhoqai dokei)." For this use of diaballesqai (to be brought into suspicion or odium), cf. Origen c. Cels. iii. 58, diabeblhmenw proj arethn kai kalokagaqian, i. e. "who has quite broken with virtue and decency?" and vi. 42, where Celsus blasphemously says, that "the Son of God ought to have himself punished the Devil, rather than frighten with his threats that mankind which had been dragged into the quarrel by himself" (toij up' autou diabeblhmenoij anqrwpoij): a passage quite missed in the Latin.

78 S. John vii. 37.

79 #H mikroyuxwn k. t. l. Oehler's stopping here (and accent) is better than that of the Codices. i.e. upokinhseien h k. t. l.

80 In other words, analogy implies thought (logoj).

81 i.e. no other name. See note on 'Agennhtoj, p. 100.

82 Is. v. 20.

83 Ps. lxxxvi. 15.

84 Ps. xcii. 15.

85 Oehler has restored gnwstikwn from his Codices, and notices that Cotelerius, Eccl. Gr. Monum. tom. ii. p. 622, had made the same change. Gulonius translates Gnosticorum. But the Editt. have gnwristikwn.

86 S. Matt. xxv. 34.