Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.33 Answer to Eunomius Part 5

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.33 Answer to Eunomius Part 5

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.33 Answer to Eunomius Part 5

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But I fear that all we shall find in the discourse of Eunomius will turn out to be mere tumours and sea lungs, so that what has been said must necessarily close our argument, as his writings will supply no material to work on. For as a smoke or a mist makes the air in which it resides heavy and thick, and incapacitates the eye for the discharge of its natural function, yet does not form itself into so dense a body that he who will may grasp and hold it in his palms, and offer resistance to its stroke, so if one should say the same of his pompous piece of writing, the comparison would not be untrue. Much nonsense is worked up in his tumid and viscous discourse, and to one not gifted with over-much discernment, like a mist to one viewing it from afar, it seems to have some substance and shape, but if you come up to it and scrutinize what is said, the theories slip from your hold like smoke, and vanish into nothing, nor have they any solidity or resistance to oppose to the stroke of your argument. It is difficult, therefore, to know what to do. For to those who like to complain either alternative will seem objectionable; whether, leaping over his empty wordiness, as over a ravine, we direct the course of our argument to the level and open country, against those points which seem to have any strength against the truth, or form our absurd battle along the whole line of his inanities. For in the latter case, to those who do not love hard work, our labour, extending over some thousands of lines to no useful purpose, will be wearisome and unprofitable. But if we attack those points only which seem to have some force against the truth, we shall give occasion to our adversaries to accuse us of passing over arguments of theirs which we are unable to refute. Since, then, two courses are open to us, either to take all their arguments seriatim, or to run through those only which are more important-the one course tedious to our hearers, the other liable to be suspected by our assailants-I think it best to take a middle course, and so, as far as possible, to avoid censure on either hand. What, then, is our method? After clearing his vain productions, as well as we can, of the rubbish they have accumulated, we will summarily run through the main points of his argument in such a way as neither to plunge needlessly into the profundities of his nonsense, nor to leave any of his statements unexamined. Now his whole treatise is an ambitious attempt to show that God speaks after the manner of men, and that the Creator of all things gives them suitable names, indicative of the things themselves. And, therefore, opposing himself to him who contended that such names are given by that rational nature which we have received from God, he accuses him of error, and of desertion from his fundamental proposition: and having brought this charge against him, he uses the following arguments in support of his position.

Basil, he says, asserts that after we have obtained our first idea of a thing, the more minute and accurate investigation of the thing under consideration is called conception. And Eunomius disproves this, as he thinks, by the following argument, that where this first, and this second notion, i.e. one more minute and accurate than the other, are not found, the operation which we call thought and conception does not find place. Here, however, he will be convicted of dishonesty by all who have ears to hear. For it was not of all thought and conception that our master (Basil) laid down this definition, but, after making a special subdivision of the objects of thought and conception (not to encumber the question with too many words), and having made this part clear, he left men of sense to reason out the whole from the part for themselves. And as, if any one should say that we get our definition of an animal from considering a number of animals of different species, he could not be convicted of missing the truth in making man an instance in point, nor would there be any need to correct him as deviating from the fact, unless he should give the same definition of a winged, or four-footed, or aquatic animal as of a man, so, when the points of view from which we may consider this conception are so many and various, it is no refutation of Basil's statement to say that it is improperly so called in one case because there is another species. Accordingly, even if another species come under consideration, it by no means follows that the one previously given is erroneously so called. Now if, says he, one of the Apostles or Prophets could be shown to have used these names of Christ, the falsehood would have something for its encouragement. To what industrious study of the word of God on the part of our opponent do not these words bear testimony! None of the Prophets or Apostles has spoken of our Lord as Bread, or a Stone, or a Fountain, or an Axe, or Light, or a Shepherd! What, then, saith David, and of whom? "The Lord shepherds me." "Thou Who shepherdest Israel, give earhyperlink ." What difference does it make whether He is spoken of as shepherding, or as a Shepherd? And again, "With Thee is the Well of lifehyperlink ." Does he deny that our Lord is called a "Well"? And again, "The Stone which the builders rejectedhyperlink ." And John, too,-where, representing our Lord's power to uproot evil under the name of an axe, he says, "And now also the Axe is laid to the root of the treeshyperlink "-is he not a weighty and credible witness to the truth of our words?

And Moses, seeing God in the light, and John calling Him the true Lighthyperlink , and in the same way Paul, when our Lord first appeared to him, and a Light shone round about him, and afterwards when he heard the words of the Light saying, "I am Jesus, Whom thou persecutesthyperlink ,"-is he not a competent witness? And as regards the name "Bread," let him read the Gospel and see how the bread given by Moses, and supplied to Israel from heaven, was taken by our Lord as a type of Himself: "For Moses gave you not that Bread, but My Father giveth you the true Bread (meaning Himself) which cometh down from heaven and giveth life unto the worldhyperlink ." But this genuine hearer of the law says that none of the Prophets or Apostles has applied these names to Christ. What shall we say, then, of what follows? "Even if our Lord Himself adopts them, yet, since in the Saviour's names there is no first or second, none more minute or accurate than another, for He knows them all at once with equal accuracy, it is not possible to accommodate his (Basil's) account of the operation of conception to any of His names."

I have deluged my discourse with much nonsense of his, but I trust my hearers will pardon me for not leaving unnoticed even the most glaring of his inanities; not that we take pleasure in our author's indecorum, (for what advantage can we derive from the refutation of our adversaries' folly?) but that truth may be advanced by confirmation from whatever quarter. "Since," says he, "our Lord applies these appellations to Himself, not deeming any one of them first, or second, or more minute and accurate than the rest, you cannot say that these names are the result of conception." Why, he has forgotten his own object! How comes he by the knowledge of the words against which he declares war? Our master and guide had made mention of an example familiar to all, in illustration of the doctrine of conception, and having explained his meaning by lower illustrations, he lifts the consideration of the question to higher things. He had said that the word "corn," regarded by itself, is one thing only as to substance, but that, as to the various properties we see in it, it varies its appellations, being called seed, and fruit, and food, and the like. Similarly, says he, our Lord is in respect to Himself what He is essentially, but when named according to the differences of His operations, He has not one appellation in all cases, but takes a different name according to each notion produced in us from the operation. How, then, does what he says disprove our theory that it is possible for many appellations to be attached with propriety, according to the diversity of His operations, and His relation to their effects, to the Son of God, though one in respect of the underlying force, even as corn, though one, has various names apportioned to it, according to the point of view from which we regard it? How, then, can what is said be overthrown by our saying that Christ used all these names of Himself? For the question was not, who ascribed them, but about the meaning of the names, whether they denote essence, or whether they are derived from His operations by the process of conception. But our shrewd and strong-minded opponent, overturning our theory of conception, which declares that it is possible to find many appellations for one and the same subject, according to the significances of its operations, attacks us vigorously, asserting that such names were not given to our Lord by another. But what has this to do with the case in point? Since these names are used by our Lord, will he not allow that they are names, or appellations, or words expressive of ideas? For if he will not admit them to be names, then, in doing away with the appellations, he does away at the same time with the conception. But if he does not deny that these words are names, what harm can he do to our doctrine of conception by showing that such titles were given to our Lord, not by some one else, but by Himself? For what was said was this, that, as in the instance of corn, our Lord, though substantively One, bears epithets suitable to His operations. And as it is admitted that corn has its names by virtue of our conception of its associations, it was shown that these terms significative of our Lord are not of His essence, but are formed by the method of conception in our minds respecting Him. But our antagonist studiously avoids attacking these positions, and maintains that our Lord received these names from Himself, in the same way as, if one sought for the true interpretation of the name "Isaac," whether it means laughterhyperlink , as some say, or something else, one of Eunomius' way of thinking should confidently reply that the name was given to him as a child by his mother: but that, one might say, was not the question, i.e. by whom the name was given, but what does it mean when translated into our language? And this being the point of the inquiry, whether our Lord's various appellations were the result of conception, instead of being indicative of His essence, he who thus seeks to demonstrate that they are not so derived because they are used by our Lord Himself,-how can he be numbered among men of sense, warring as he does against the truth, and equipping himself with such alliances for the war as serve to show the superior strength of his enemy?

Then going farther, as if his object were thus far attained, he takes up other charges against us, more difficult, as he thinks, to deal with than the former, and with many preliminary groans and attempts to prejudice his hearers against us, and to whet their appetite for his address, accusing us withal of seeking to establish doctrines savouring of blasphemy, and of ascribing to our own conception names assigned by God (though he nowhere mentions what assignment he refers to, nor when and where it took place), and, further, of throwing everything into confusion, and identifying the essence of the Only-begotten with his operation, without arguing the matter, or showing how we prove the identity of the essence and the operation, he winds up with the same list of charges, as follows: "And now, passing beyond this, he (Basil) asperses even the Most High with the vilest blasphemies, using at the same time broken language, and illustrations wide of the mark." Now prior to inquiry, I should like to be told what our language is "broken" from, and what mark it is "wide of"; not that I want to know, except to show the confusion and obscurity of his address, which he dins into the ears of the old wives among our men, pluming himself on his nice phrases, which he mouths out to the admirers of such things, ignorant, as it would seem, that in the judgment of educated men this address of his will serve only as a memorial of his own infamy.

But all this is beside our purpose. Would that our charges against him were limited to this, and that he could be thought to err only in his delivery, and not in matters of faith; since it would have been of comparatively little importance to him to be praised or blamed for expressing himself in one style or another. But however that may be, the sequel of his charges against us contains this in addition: "Considering the case of corn (he says), and of our Lord, after exercising his conceptions in various ways upon them, hehyperlink declares that even in like manner the most holy essence of God admits of the same variety of conception." This is the gravest of his accusations, and it is in prosecuting this that he rehearses those heavy invectives of his, charging what we have said with blasphemy, absurdity, and so forth. What, then, is the proof of our blasphemy? "Hehyperlink has mentioned" (says Eunomius) "certain well-known facts about corn,-perceiving how it grows, and how when ripe it affords food, growing, multiplying, and being dispensed by certain forces of nature-and, having mentioned these, he adds that it is only reasonable to suppose that the Only-begotten Son also admits of different modes of being conceived ofhyperlink , by reason of certain differences of operation, certain analogies, proportions, and relations. For he uses these terms respecting Him to satiety. And is it not absurd, or rather blasphemous, to compare the Ungenerate with such objects as these?"-What objects? Why, corn, and God the Only-begotten! You see his artfulness. He would show that insignificant corn and God the Only-begotten are equally removed from the dignity of the Ungenerate. And to show that we are not treating his words unfairly, we may learn his meaning from the very words he has written. "For," he asks, "is it not absurd, or rather blasphemous, to compare theUngenerate with these?" And in thus speaking, he instances the case of corn and of our Lord as on a level in point of dignity, thinking it equally absurd to compare God with either. Now every one knows that things equally distant from a given object are possessed of equality as regards each other, so that according to our wise theologian the Maker of the worlds, Who holds all nature in His hand, is shown to be on a par with the most insignificant seed, since He and corn to the same degree fall short of comparison with God. To such a pitch of blasphemy has he come!

But it is time to examine the argument that leads to this profanity, and see how, as regards itself, it is logically connected with his whole discourse. For after saying that it is absurd to compare God with corn and with Christ, he says of God that He is not, like them, subject to change; but in respect to the Only-begotten, keeping silence on the question whether He too is not subject to change, and thereby clearly suggesting that He is of lower dignity, in that we cannot compare Him, any more than we can compare corn, with God, he breaks off his discourse without using any argument to prove that the Son of God cannot be compared with the Father, as though our knowledge of the grain were sufficient to establish the inferiority of the Son in comparison with the Father. But he discourses of the indestructibility of the Father, as not in actuality attaching to the Son. But if the True Life is an actuality, actuating itself, and if to live everlastingly means the same thing as never to be dissolved in destruction, I for myself do not as yet assent to his argument, but will reserve myself for a more proper occasion. That, however, there is but one single notion in indestructibilityhyperlink , considered in reference to the Father and to the Son alike, and that the indestructibility of the Father differs in no respect from that of the Son, no difference as to indestructibility being observable either in remission and intension, or in any other phase of the process of destruction, this, I say, it is seasonable both now and at all times to assert, so as to preclude the doctrine that in respect of indestructibility the Son has no communion with the Father. For as this indestructibility is understood in respect of the Father, so also it is not to be disputed in respect of the Son. For to be incapable of dissolution means nearly, or rather precisely, the same thing in regard to whatever subject it is attributed to. What, then, induces him to assert, that only to the Ungenerate Deity does it belong to have this indestructibility not attaching to Him by reason of any energy, as though he would thereby show a difference between the Father and the Son? For if he supposes his own created God destructible, he well shows the essential divergence of natures by the difference between the destructible and the indestructible. But if neither is subject to destruction,-and no degrees are to be found in pure indestructibility,-how does he show that the Father cannot be compared with the Only-begotten Son, or what is meant by saying that indestructibility is not witnessed in the Father by reason of any energy? But he reveals his purpose in what follows. It is not because of His operations or energies, he says, that He is ungenerate and indestructible, but because He is Father and Creator. And here I must ask my hearers to give me their closest attention. How can he think the creative power of God and His Fatherhood identical in meaning? For he defines each alike as an energy, plainly and expressly affirming, "God is not indestructible by reason of His energy, though He is called Father and Creator by reason of energies." If, then, it is the same thing to call Him Father and Creator of the world because either name is due to an energy as its cause, the results of His energies must be homogeneous, inasmuch as it is through an energy, that they both exist. But to what blasphemy this logically tends is clear to every one who can draw a conclusion. For myself, I should like to add my own deductions to my disquisition. It is impossible that an energy or operation productive of a result should subsist of itself without there being something to set the energy in motion; as we say that a smith operates or works, but that the material on which his art is exercised is operated upon, or wrought. These faculties, therefore, that of operating, and that of being operated upon, must needs stand in a certain relation to each other, so that if one be removed, the remaining one cannot subsist of itself. For where there is nothing operated upon there can be nothing operating. What, then, does this prove? If the energy which is productive of anything does not subsist of itself, there being nothing for it to operate upon, and if the Father, as they affirm, is nothing but an energy, the Only-begotten Son is thereby shown to be capable of being acted upon, in other words, moulded in accordance with the motive energy that gives Him His subsistence. For as we say that the Creator of the world, by laying down some yielding material, capable of being acted upon, gave His creative being a field for its exercise, in the case of things sensible skilfully investing the subject with various and multiform qualities for production, but in the case of intellectual essences giving shape to the subject in another way, not by qualities, but by impulses of choice, so, if any one define the Fatherhood of God as an energy, he cannot otherwise indicate the subsistence of the Son than by comparing it with some material acted upon and wrought to completion. For if it could not be operated upon, it would of necessity offer resistance to the operator: whose energy being thus hindered, no result would be produced. Either, then, they must make the essence of the Only-begotten subject to be acted upon, that the energy may have something to work upon, or, if they shrink from this conclusion, on account of its manifest impiety, they are driven to the conclusion that it has no existence at all. For what is naturally incapable of being acted upon, cannot itself admit the creative energy. He, then, who defines the Son as the effect of an energy, defines Him as one of those things which are subject to be acted upon, and which are produced by an energy. Or, if he deny such susceptibility, he must at the same time deny His existence. But since impiety is involved in either alternative of the dilemma, that of asserting His non-existence, and that of regarding Him as capable of being acted upon, the truth is made manifest, being brought to light by the removal of these absurdities. For if He verily exists, and is not subject to be acted upon, it is plain that He is not the result of an energy, but is proved to be very God of very God the Father, without liability to be acted upon, beaming from Him and shining forth from everlasting.

But in His very essence, he says, God is indestructible. Well, what other conceivable attribute of God does not attach to the very essence of the Son, as justice, goodness, eternity, incapacity for evil, infinite perfection in all conceivable goodness? Is there one who will venture to say that any of the virtues in the Divine nature are acquired, or to deny that all good whatsoever springs from and is seen in it? "For whatsoever is good is from Him, and whatsoever is lovely is from Himhyperlink ." But he appends to this, that He is in His very essence ungenerate too. Well, if he means by this that the Father's essence is ungenerate, I agree with what is said, and do not oppose his doctrine: for not one of the orthodox maintains that the Father of the Only-begotten is Himself begotten. But if, while the form of his expression indicates only this, he maintains that the ungeneracy itself is the essence, I say that we ought not to leave such a position unexamined, but expose his attempt to gain the assent of the unwary to his blasphemy.

Now that the ideahyperlink of ungeneracy and the belief in the Divine essence are quite different things may be seen by what he himself has put forward. God, he says, is indestructible and ungenerate by His very essence, as being unmixed and pure from all diversity and difference. This he says of God, Whose essence he declares to he indestructibility and ungeneracy. There are three names, then, that he applies to God, being, indestructibility, ungeneracy. If the idea of these three words in respect of God is one, it follows that the Godhead and these three are identical. Just as if any one, wanting to describe a man, should say that he was a rational, risible, and broad-nailed creature; whereupon, because there is no essential variation from these in the individuals, we say that the terms are equivalent to each other, and that the three things seen in the subject are one thing, viz. the humanity described by these names. If, then, Godhead means this, ungeneracy, indestructibility, being, by doing away with one of these he necessarily does away with the Godhead. For just as we should say that a creature which was neither rational nor risible was not man either, so in the case of these three terms (ungeneracy, indestructibility, being), if the Godhead is described by these, should one of the three be absent, its absence destroys the definition of Godhead. Let him tell us, then, in reply, what opinion he holds of God the Only-begotten. Does he think Him generate or ungenerate? Of course he must say generate, unless he is to contradict himself. If, then, being and indestructibility are equivalent to ungeneracy, and by all of these Godhead is denoted, to Whom ungeneracy is wanting, to Him being and indestructibility must needs be wanting also, and in that case the Godhead also must necessarily be taken away. And thus his blasphemous logic brings him to a twofold conclusion. For if being, and indestructibility, and ungeneracy are applied to God in the same sense, our new God-maker is clearly convicted of regarding the Son created by Him as destructible, by his not regarding Him as ungenerate, and not only so, but altogether without being, through his inability to see Him in the Godhead, as one in whom ungeneracy and indestructibility are not found, since he takes the ungeneracy and indestructibility to be identical with the being. But since in this there is manifest perdition, let some one counsel these unhappy folk to turn to the only course which is left them, and, instead of setting themselves in open opposition to the truth, to allow that each of these terms has its own proper signification, such as may be seen still better from their contraries. For we find ungenerate set against generate, and we understand the indestructible by its opposition to the destructible, and being by contrast with that which has no subsistence. For as that which was not generated is called ungenerate, and that which is not destructible is called indestructible, so that which is not non-existent we call being, and, conversely, as we do not call the generate ungenerate, nor the destructible indestructible, so that which is non-existent we do not call being. Being, then, is discernible in the being this or that, goodness or indestructibility in the being of this or of that kind, generacy or ungeneracy in the manner of the being. And thus the ideas of being, manner, and quality are distinct from each other.

But it will be well, I think, to pass over his nauseating observations (for such we must term his senseless attacks on the method of conception), and dwell more pleasurably on the subject matter of our thought. For all the venom that our disputant has disgorged with the view of overthrowing our Master's speculations in regard to conception, is not of such a kind as to be dangerous to those who come in its way, however stupid they may be and liable to be imposed on. For who is so devoid of understanding as to think that there is anything in what Eunomius says, or to see any ingenuity in his artifices against the truth when he takes our Master's reference to corn (which he meant simply by way of illustration, thereby providing his hearers with a sort of method and introduction to the study of higher instances), and applies it literally to the Lord of all? To think of his assertion that the most becoming cause for God's begetting the Son was His sovereign authority and power, which may be said not only in regard to the universe and its elements, but in regard to beasts and creeping things; and of our reverend theologian teaching that the same is becoming in our conception of God the Only-begotten-or again, of his saying that God was called ungenerate, or Father, or any other name, even before the existence of creatures to call Him such, as being afraid lest, His name not being uttered among creatures as yet unborn, He should be ignorant or forgetful of Himself, through ignorance of His own nature because of His name being unspoken! To think, again, of the insolence of his attack upon our teaching; what acrimony, what subtlety does he display, while attempting to establish the absurdity of what he (Basil) said, namely that He Who was in a manner the Father before all worlds and time, and all sensitive and intellectual nature, must somehow wait for man's creation in order to be named by means of man's conception, not having been so named, either by the Son or by any of the intelligent beings of His creation! Why no one, I imagine, can be so densely stupid as to be ignorant that God the Only-begotten, Who is in the Fatherhyperlink , and Who seeth the Father in Himself, is in no need of any name or title to make Him known, nor is the mystery of the Holy Spirit, Who searcheth out the deep things of Godhyperlink , brought to our knowledge by a nominal appellation, nor can the incorporeal nature of supramundane powers name God by voice and tongue. For, in the case of immaterial intellectual nature, the mental energy is speech which has no need of material instruments of communication. For even in the case of human beings, we should have no need of using words and names if we could otherwise inform each other of our pure mental feelings and impulses. But (as things are), inasmuch as the thoughts which arise in us are incapable of being so revealed, because our nature is encumbered with its fleshly surrounding, we are obliged to express to each other what goes on in our minds by giving things their respective names, as signs of their meaning.

But if it were in any way possible by some other means to lay bare the movements of thought, abandoning the formal instrumentality of words, we should converse with one another more lucidly and clearly, revealing by the mere action of thought the essential nature of the things which are under consideration. But now, by reason of our inability to do so, we have given things their special names, calling one Heaven, another Earth, and so on, and as each is related to each, and acts or suffers, we have marked them by distinctive names, so that our thoughts in regard to them may not remain uncommunicated and unknown. But supramundane and immaterial nature being free and independent of bodily envelopment, requires no words or names either for itself or for that which is above it, but whatever utterance on the part of such intellectual nature is recorded in Holy Writ is given for the sake of the hearers, who would be unable otherwise to learn what is to be set forth, if it were not communicated to them by voice and word. And if David in the spirit speaks of something being said by the Lord to the Lordhyperlink , it is David himself who is the speaker, being unable otherwise to make known to us the teaching of what is meant except by interpreting by voice and word his own knowledge of the mysteries given him by Divine inspiration.

All his argument, then, in opposition to the doctrine of conception I think it best to pass over, though he charge with madness those who think that the name of God, as used by mankind to indicate the Supreme Being, is the result of this conception. For what he is thinking of when he considers himself bound to revile that doctrine, all who will may learn from his own words. What opinion we ourselves hold on the use of words we have already stated, viz. that, things being as they are in regard to their nature, the rational faculty implanted in our nature by God invented words indicative of those actual things. And if any one ascribe their origin to the Giver of the faculty, we would not contradict him, for we too maintain mat motion, and sight, and the rest of the operations carried on by the senses are effected by Him Who endowed us with such faculties. So, then, the cause of our naming God, Who is by His nature what He is, is referable by common consent to Himself, but the liberty of naming all things that we conceive of in one way or another lies in that thing in our nature, which, whether a man wish to call it conception or something else, we are quite indifferent. And there is this one sure evidence in our favour, that the Divine Being is not named alike by all, but that each interprets his idea as he thinks best. Passing over, then, in silence his rubbishy twaddle about conception, let us hold to our tenets, and simply note by the way some of the observations that occur in the midst of his empty speeches, where he pretends that God, seating Himself by our first parents, like some pedagogue or grammarian, gave them a lesson in words and names; wherein he says that they who were first formed by God, or those who were born from them in continuous succession, unless they had been taught how each several thing should be called and named, would have lived together in dumbness and silence, and would have been unequal to the discharge of any of the serviceable functions of life, the meaning of each being uncertain through lack of interpreters,-verbs forsooth, and nouns. Such is the infatuation of this writer; he thinks the faculty implanted in our nature by God insufficient for any method of reasoning, and that unless it be taught each thing severally, like those who are taught Hebrew or Latin word by word, one must be ignorant of the nature of the things, having no discernment of fire, or water, or air, or anything else, unless one have acquired the knowledge of them by the names that they bear. But we maintain that He Who made all things in His wisdom, and Who moulded this living rational creature, by the simple fact of His implanting reason in his nature, endowed him with all his rational faculties. And as naturally possessing our faculties of perception by the gift of Him Who fashioned the eye and planted the ear, we can of ourselves employ them for their natural objects, and have no need of any one to name the colours, for instance, of which the eye takes cognizance, for the eye is competent to inform itself in such matters; nor do we need another to make us acquainted with the things which we perceive by hearing, or taste, or touch, possessing as we do in ourselves the means of discerning all of which our perception informs us. And so, again, we maintain that the intellectual faculty, made as it was originally by God, acts thenceforward by itself when it looks out upon realities, and that there be no confusion in its knowledge, affixes some verbal note to each several thing as a stamp to indicate its meaning. Great Moses himself confirms this doctrine when he sayshyperlink that names were assigned by Adam to the brute creation, recording the fact in these words: "And out of the ground God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air, and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them, and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to an the beasts of the field."

But, like some viscous and sticky clay, the nonsense he has concocted in contravention of our teaching of conception seems to hold us back, and prevent us from applying ourselves to more important matters. For how can one pass over his solemn and profound philosophy, as when he says that God's greatness is seen not only in the works of His hands, but that His wisdom is displayed in their names also, adapted as they are with such peculiar fitness to the nature of each work of His creationhyperlink ? Having perchance fallen in with Plato's Cratylus, or hearing from some one who had met with it, by reason, I suppose, of his own poverty of ideas, he attached that nonsense patchwise to his own, acting like those who get their bread by begging. For just as they, receiving some trifle from each who bestows it on them, collect their bread from many and various sources, so the discourse of Eunomius, by reason of his scanty store of the true bread, assiduously collects scraps of phrases and notions from all quarters. And thus, being struck by the beauty of the Platonic style, he thinks it not unseemly to make Plato's theory a doctrine of the Church. For by how many appellations, say, is the created firmament called according to the varieties of language? For we call it Heaven, the Hebrew calls it Samaim, the Roman coelum, other names are given to it by the Syrian, the Mede, the Cappadocian, the African, the Scythian, the Thracian the Egyptian: nor would it be easy to enumerate the multiplicity of names which are applied to Heaven and other objects by the different nations that employ them. Which of these, then, tell me, is the appropriate word wherein the great wisdom of God is manifested? If you prefer the Greek to the rest, the Egyptian haply will confront you with his own. And if you give the first place to the Hebrew, there is the Syrian to claim precedence for his own word, nor will the Roman yield the supremacy, nor the Mede allow himself to be outdone; while of the other nations each will claim the prize. What, then, will be the fate of his dogma when torn to pieces by the claimants for so many different languages? But by these, says he, as by laws publicly promulgated, it is shown that God made names exactly suited to the nature of the things which they represent. What a grand doctrine! What grand views our theologian allows to the Divine teachings, such indeed as men do not grudge even to bathing-attendants! For we allow them to give names to the operations they engage in, and yet no one invests them with Divine honours for the invention of such names as foot-baths, depilatories, towels, and the like-words which appropriately designate the articles in question.

But I will pass over both this and their reading of Epicurus' nature-system, which he says is equivalent to our conception, maintaining that the doctrine of atoms and empty space, and the fortuitous generation of things, is akin to what we mean by conception. What an understanding of Epicurus! If we ascribe words expressive of things to the logical faculty in our nature, we thereby stand convicted of holding the Epicurean doctrine of indivisible bodies, and combinations of atoms, and the collision and rebound of particles, and so on. I say nothing of Aristotle, whom he takes as his own patron, and the ally of his system, whose opinion, he says, in his subsequent remarks, coincides with our views about conception. For he says that that philosopher taught that Providence does not extend through all nature, nor penetrate into the region of terrestrial things, and this, Eunomius contends, corresponds to our discoveries in the field of conception. Such is his idea of determining a doctrine with accuracy! But he goes on to say that we must either deny the creation of things to God, or, if we concede it, we must not deprive Him of the imposition of names. And yet even in respect to the brute creation, as we have said already, we are taught the very opposite (of both these alternatives) by Holy Scripture-that neither did Adam make the animals, nor did God name them, but the creation was the work of God, and the naming of the things created was the work of man, as Moses has recorded. Then in his own speech he gives us an encomium of speech in general (as though some one wished to disparage it), and after his eminently abusive and bombastic conglomeration of words, he says that, by a law and rule of His providence, God has combined the transmission of words with our knowledge and use of things necessary for our service; and after pouring forth twaddle of this kind in the profundity of his slumbers, he passes on in his discourse to his irresistible and unanswerable argument. I will not state it in so many words, but simply give the drift of it. We are not, he says, to ascribe the invention of words to poets, who are much mistaken in their notions of God. What a generous concession does he make to God in investing Him with the inventions of the poetic faculty, so that God may thereby seem to men more sublime and august, when the disciples of Eunomius believe that such expressions as those used by Homer for "side-ways," "rang out," "aside," "mixhyperlink ," "clung to his hand," "hissed," "thumped," "rattled," "clashed," "rang terribly," "twanged," "shouted," "pondered," and many others, are not used by poets by a certain arbitrary licence, but that they introduce them into their poems by some mysterious initiation from God! Let this, too, be passed over, and withal that clever and irresistible attempt, that it is not in our power to quote Scriptural instances of holy men who have invented new terms. Now if human nature had been imperfect up to the time of such men's appearance, and not as yet completed by the gift of reason, it would have been well for them to seek that the deficiency might be supplied. But if from the very first man's nature existed self-sufficing and complete for all purposes of reason and thought, why should any one, in order to establish this doctrine of conception, humour them so far as to seek for instances where holy men initiated sounds or names? Or, if we cannot adduce any instances, why should any one regard it as a sufficient proof that such and such syllables and words were appointed by God Himself?

But, says he, since God condescends to commune with His servants, we may consequently suppose that from the very beginning He enacted words appropriate to things. What, then, is our answer? We account for God's willingness to admit men to communion with Himself by His love towards mankind. But since that which is by nature finite cannot rise above its prescribed limits, or lay hold of the superior nature of the Most High, on this account He, bringing His power, so full of love for humanity, down to the level of human weakness, so far as it was possible for us to receive it, bestowed on us this helpful gift of grace. For as by Divine dispensation the sun, tempering the intensity of his full beams with the intervening air, pours down light as well as heat on those who receive his rays, being himself unapproachable by reason of the weakness of our nature, so the Divine power, after the manner of the illustration I have used, though exalted far above our nature and inaccessible to all approach, like a tender mother who joins in the inarticulate utterances of her babe, gives to our human nature what it is capable of receiving; and thus in the various manifestations of God to man He both adapts Himself to man and speaks in human language, and assumes wrath, and pity, and such-like emotions, so that through feelings corresponding to our own our infantile life might be led as by hand, and lay hold of the Divine nature by means of the words which His foresight has given. For that it is irreverent to imagine that God is subject to any passion such as we see in respect to pleasure, or pity, or anger, no one will deny who has thought at all about the truth of things. And yet the Lord is said to take pleasure in His servants, and to be angry with the backsliding people, and, again, to have mercy on whom He will have mercy, and to show compassion-the word teaching us in each of these expressions that God's providence helps our infirmity by using our own idioms of speech, so that such as are inclined to sin may be restrained from committing it by fear of punishment, and that those who are overtaken by it may not despair of return by the way of repentance when they see God's mercy, while those who are walking uprightly and strictly may yet more adorn their life with virtue, as knowing that by their own life they rejoice Him Whose eyes are over the righteous. But just as we cannot call a man deaf who converses with a deaf man by means of signs,-his only way of hearing,-so we must not suppose speech in God because of His employing it by way of accommodation in addressing man. For we ourselves are accustomed to direct brute beasts by clucking and whistling and the like, and yet this, by which we reach their ears, is not our language, but we use our natural speech in talking to one another, while, in regard to cattle, some suitable noise or sound accompanied with gesture is sufficient for all purposes of communication.


87 Ps. xxiii. 1; Ps. lxxx. 1. Cf. S. John xxi. 16, John xxi. 17.

88 Ps. xxxvi. 9.

89 S. Matt. xxi. 42.

90 S. Matt. iii. 10.

91 S. John i. 9.

92 Acts ix. 5.

93 S. John vi. 32, sqq.

94 Gen. xviii. 12; Gen. xxi. 6.

95 he, i.e. Basil. "God's nature can be looked at in as many aspects as corn can (i.e. in its growth, fructification, distribution, &c.)."

96 He, i.e. Basil. The words o Eunomioj, here are the additions of a copy st who did not understand that eipen referred to Basil, or else fhsin must be read with them. Certainly tauta eipwn below must refer to the same subject as eipen.

97 diaforouj dexesqai epinoiaj. Oehler has rightly omitted the words that follow (dia te taj ennoiaj), both because of their irrelevancy, and from the authority of his mss.

98 Indestructibility. Such terms ("not-composite," "indivisible," "imperishable") were the inheritance which Christian controversy received from the former struggle with Stoicism. In the hands of Origen, they had been aimed at the Stoic doctrine of the Deity as that of corporeal Spirit, which does not perish, only because there is no cause sufficient. "If one does not see the consequences of such an assertion, one ought to blush" (in Johann. xiii. 21). The consequences of course are that God, the Word, and our souls, made in His image, are all perishable; for all body, in that it is matter, is by the Stoic assumption, liable to change.

99 Zech. ix. 17 (LXX.).

100 to nohma. There is a lacuna in the Paris Editt., beginning here, and extending to "ungenerate," just below. Oehler's Codices have supplied it.

101 S. John xiv. 9.

102 1 Cor. ii. 10.

103 Ps. cx. 1.

104 Gen. ii. 19, Gen. ii. 20.

105 Compare with this view of Eunomius on the sacredness of names, this striking passage from Origen (c. Cels. v. 43). "We hold, then, that the origin of names is not to be found in any formal agreements on the part of those who gave them, as Aristotle thinks. Human language, in fact, did not have its beginning from man. Any one can see this who reflects upon the real nature of the incantations which in the different languages are associated with the patriarchal names of those languages. The names which have their native power in such and such a language cease to have this influence of their peculiar sound when they are changed into another language. This has been often observed in the names given even to living men: one who from his birth has been called so and so in Greek will never, if we change his name into Egyptian or Roman, be made to feel or act as he can when called by the first name given. ...If this is true in the case of names given to men, what are we to think of the names connected in some way or other with the Deity? For instance, there must be some change in translating Abraham's name into Greek: some new expression given to `Isaac,

0' and `Jacob

0': and, while he who repeats the incantation or the oath names the `God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob,

0' he produces those particular effects by the mere force and working of those names: because the daemons are mustered by him who utters them: but if on the other hand he says, `God of the chosen Father of the Crowd,

0' `of the Laughter,

0' `of the Supplanter,

0' he can do nothing with the names so expressed, any more than with any other powerless instrument. ...We can say the same of `Sabaoth,

0' which is used in many exorcisms: if we change it to `Lord of Powers,

0' or, `Lord of Hosts,

0' or, `Almighty,

0' we can do nothing ..."-and (46), "This, too, is the reason why we ourselves prefer any degradation to that of owning Zeus to be Deity. We cannot conceive of Zeus as the same as Sabaoth: or as Divine in any of all possible meanings. ...If the Egyptians offer us `Ammon,

0' or death, we shall take the latter, rather than pronounce the divinity of `Ammon.

0' The Scythians may tell us that their Papoeus is the God of the Universe, we shall not listen: we firmly believe in the God of the Universe, but we must not call him Papoeus, making that a name for absolute Deity, as the Being who occupies the desert, the nation, and the language of the Scythians would desire: although, indeed, it cannot be sin for any to rise the appellation of the Deity in his own mother tongue, whether it be the Scythian way or the Egyptian."

106 Reading keraire, according to Oehler's conjecture, from Iliad ix. 203. All the Codd. and Editt., read kekaire, however. The Editt., in the Homeric words which follow, show a strange ignorance, which Gulonius has reproduced, viz. Phocheiri, Poudese, Ische! (for fu xeiri, Douphse, !Iaxe.)