Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.35 Answer to Eunomius Part 7

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.35 Answer to Eunomius Part 7

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.35 Answer to Eunomius Part 7

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Either, he says, that which is endless is distinct. in meaning from that which is imperishable, or else the two must make one. But if he call both one, he will be supporting our argument. But if he say that the meaning of the imperishable is one thing, and that that of being unending is another, then of necessity, in the case of things differing from each other, the force of the one cannot be equivalent to the force of the other. If, then, the idea of the imperishable is one, and that of being endless is another, and each of these is what the other is not, neither will he grant that the imperishable is unending, nor that the unending is imperishable, but the unending will be perishable, and the imperishable will be terminable. But I must beg my readers not to turn a ridiculous method of condemnation against us. We have been compelled to adopt such a sportive vein against the mockeries of our opponent, that we might thereby break through the puerile toil of his sophistries. But if it would not be too wearisome to my readers, it would not be out of place again to set forth what Eunomius says in his own words. "If," says he, "God is imperishable only by reason of the unending in His Life, and ungenerate only by reason of the unbeginning, then wherein He is not imperishable He is perishable, and wherein He is not ungenerate He is generated." Then returning to the charge, he repeats, "He will then be, as unbeginning, at once ungenerate and perishable: and, as unending, at once imperishable and generated;" for I pass over the superfluous and unseasonable remarks which he has interspersed here, as in no way contributing to the proving of his point. Now I think it is easy for any one to see, by his own words, that the drift of our argument has no connection whatever with the accusation which he lays against us. "For we call the God of the universe imperishable and ungenerate," says the Master, "using these words with different applications." "His transcending," he continues, "every limit of the ages, and every distance in temporal extension, whether we consider the previous or the subsequent, this absence of limit or circumscription on either hand in the Eternal Life we mark in the one case with the name of imperishability, and in the other case with the name of ungeneracy." But Eunomius would make out that we say that the being without beginning is His essence, and again that the being without end is His essence, as though we brought forward two contradictory segments of essence; and in this way he establishes an absurdity, and while laying down, and then fighting against, positions of his own, and reducing notions of his own concoction to an absurdity, he lays no hold on our argument in any single point. For that God is imperishable only wherein His Life is unending, is his statement, not ours. In like manner, that the imperishable is not without beginning, is an invention of that same subtle cleverness which would constitute a negative attribute an essence; whereas we do not define any such negative attribute as an essence. Now it is a negative attribute of God, that neither does the Life cease in dissolution, nor did It have a commencement in generation; and this we express by these two words, imperishability and ungeneracy. But Eunomius, mixing up his own folly with our teaching, does not seem to understand that he is publishing his own disgrace by his calumnious accusations. For, in defining ungeneracy as an essence, he will logically arrive at the same pitch of absurdity which he ascribes to our teaching. For as beginning meanshyperlink one thing, and end means another, by virtue of an intervening extension, if any one allow the privation of the first of these to be essence, he must suppose His Life to be only half subsisting in this being without beginning, and not to extend further, by virtue of His nature, to the being without end, if ungeneracy be regarded as itself His nature. But if any one insist that both are essence, then, according to the definition put forward by Eunomius, each of these terms must necessarily, by virtue of its inherent meaning, be counted as essence, being just as much as, and no more than, is indicated by the meaning of the term; and thus the argument of Eunomius will not be without force, inasmuch as that which is without beginning does not involve the notion of being without end, and vice versa, since according to his account each of the things mentioned is an essence, and there is no confusion between the two in their relation to each other, the notion of beginning being different to that of ending, while the words which express privation of these also differ in their significations.

But that he himself also may be brought to the knowledge of his own trifling, we will convict him from his own statements. For in the course of his argument he says that God, in that He is without end, is ungenerate, and that, in that He is ungenerate, He is without end, as if the meanings of the two terms were identical. If, then, by reason of His being without end He is ungenerate, and the being without end and ungenerate are convertible terms, and he admits that the Son also is without end, by a parity of reasoning he must necessarily admit that the Son is ungenerate, if (as he has said) His being without end and His being without beginning are identical in meaning. For just as in the ungenerate he sees that which is without beginning, so he allows that in that which is without end also he sees that which is without beginning. For otherwise he would not have made the terms wholly convertible. But God, he says, is ungenerate by nature, and not by contrast with the ages. Well, who is there that contends that God is not by nature all that He is said to be? For we do not say that God is just, and almighty, and Father, and imperishable, by contrast with the ages, nor by His relation to any other thing that exists. But in connection with the subject itself, whatever He may be in His nature, we entertain every idea that is a reverent idea; so that supposing neither ages, nor any other created thing, had been made, God would no less be what we believe Him to be, being in no need of the ages to constitute Him what He is. "But," says Eunomius, "He has a Life that is not extraneous, nor composite, nor admitting of differences; for He Himself is Life eternal by virtue of that Life itself immortal, by virtue of that immortality imperishable." This we are taught respecting the Only-begotten as well; nor can any one impugn this teaching without openly opposing the declaration of S. John. For life was not brought in from without upon the Son either (for He says, "I am the Lifehyperlink "), nor is His Life either composite, nor does it admit difference, but by virtue of that life itself He is immortal (for in what else but in life can we see immortality?), and by virtue of that immortality He is imperishable. For that which is stronger than death must naturally be incapable of corruption.

Thus far our argument goes with him. But the riddle with which he accompanies his words we must leave to those trained in the wisdom of Prunicushyperlink to interpret: for he seems to have produced what he has said from that system. "Being incorruptible without beginning, He is ungenerate without end, being so called absolutely, and independently of aught beside Himself." Now whoever has purged ears and an enlightened understanding knows, even without my saying it, that beyond the jingle of words produced by their extraordinary combination, there is no trace of sense in what he says; and if any shadow of an idea could be found in such a din of words, it would prove to be either profane or ridiculous. For what do you mean when you say that He is without beginning as being without end, and without end as being without beginning? Do you think beginning identical with end, and that the two words are employed in the same sense, just as the appellations Simon and Peter represent one and the same subject, and on this account, in accordance with your thinking beginning and end the same, did you, combining under one signification these two words which denote privation of each other,-end, I mean, and beginning,-and taking the being without end as convertible with the being without end, blend and confound one word with the other; and is this the meaning of such a mixing up of words, when you say that He is ungenerate as being without end, and that He is without end as being ungenerate? Yet how is it that you did not see the profanity as well as the ridiculous folly of your words? For if by this novel confusion of the words they are made convertible, so that ungenerate means ungenerate without end, and that which is without end is such ungenerately, it follows by necessity that that which is without end must needs be so as being ungenerate: and thus it comes to pass, my good friend, that your much-talked-of ungeneracy, which you say is the only characteristic of the Father's essence, will be found to be shared with whatever is immortal, and to be making all things con-substantial with the Father, because it is alike apparent in all things whose life, by reason of their immortality, goes on to infinity, archangels, that is, angels, human souls, and, it may be also, in the Apostate host, the Devil and his daemons. For if that which is without end, and imperishable, must also by your argument be ungenerately imperishable, then in whatsoever is without end and imperishable there must be connoted ungeneracy. These are the absurdities into which those men fall who, before they have learnt what it is fitting for them to learn, only publish their own ignorance by what they attempt to teach. For if he had any faculty of discernment, he would not be ignorant of the peculiar sense inherent in his terms, "without beginning," and "without end," and that the term without end is common to all things whose life we believe capable of extension to infinity, while the term without beginning belongs to Him alone Who is without originating cause, How, then, is it possible for us to regard that which is common to them all, as equivalent to that which is believed by all to be a special attribute of the Deity alone, so that we thereby either extend ungeneracy to everything that shares in immortality, or else must not allow immortality to any one of them, seeing that the being without end is to belong only to the ungenerate, and vice versa, the being ungenerate is to belong only to that which is without end? Thus everything without end would have to be regarded as ungenerate.

But let us leave this, and along with it the usual foul deluge of calumny in his words; and let us go on to his subsequent quotations (of Basil). But I think it would perhaps be well to pass without examination over most of these subsequent words. For in all of them he shows himself the same, not grappling with that which we have really said, but only inventing for himself points for refutation which he pretends are taken from our statement. To go carefully through these would be pronounced useless by any one possessed of judgment; for any understanding reader of his book can from his very words perceive his scurrility. He says that God's Glory is prior to our leader's "conception." We too do not deny that. For God's glory, whatever we are to think of it, is prior not only to this present generation of ours, but to all creation; it transcends the ages. What, then, is gained for his argument from this fact, that God's glory is conceded to be superior not only to Basil, but to all the ages? "Yes, but this name is His glory," he says. But pray tell us, in order that we may assent to this statement, who has proved that the appellation is identical with the glory? "A law of our nature," he replies, "teaches us that, in naming realities, the dignity of the names does not depend on the will of those who give them." What is this law of nature? And how is it that it is not in force amongst all? If nature had really enacted such a law, it ought to have authority amongst all who share the common nature, just as the other things peculiar to that nature have. If, in fine, it was the law of nature that caused the appellations to spring up for us from the objects, just as her plants spring up from seeds and roots, and she did not entrust the significant naming of each of the subjects to the choice of those who had to indicate the objects, then all mankind would be of one tongue. For if the names imposed upon these objects did not vary, we should not differ from one another in the department of speech. He says it is "a holy thing, and most closely connected with the designs of Providence, that their sounds should be imposed upon realities from a source above us." How, is it, then, that the Prophets were ignorant of this holy thing, and were not instructed in this design of Providence, who according to your account did not make God at all of this Ungeneracy? How, too, is it that the Deity Himself never knew of this kind of holiness, when He did not give names from above to the animals which He had formed, but gave away this power of name-giving to Adam? If it is closely connected with the designs of Providence, as Eunomius says, and a holy thing, that their sounds should be imposed from above upon realities, it is certainly an unholy thing, and an unfitting thing, that these names should have been fitted to the things that are by any here below. "But the universal Guardian," he says, "thought it right to engraft these names in our minds by a law of His creation." And how was it, then, if these were engrafted in the minds of men, that from Adam onward to your transgression no fruits of this folly were produced, grafted as they were, according to you, in those minds, so that ungeneracy should be the name of the Father's essence? Adam and all in succession after him would have pronounced this word, if such had been grafted by God in his nature. For as all that now grows upon the earth continues always, owing to a transmission of its seed from the first creation, and not one single seed at the present time innovates upon the natural form, so this word, if it had been, as you say, grafted by God in our nature, would have sprung up along with the first utterances of the first-formed human beings, and would have accompanied the line of their posterity. But seeing that this word did not exist at the first (for no one in former generations and up to the present ever uttered such a word, except this man), it is plain that it is a bastard invention, that has sprung up from the seed of tares, not from that good seed which God has sown, to use evangelic words, in the field of our nature. For all the things that characterize our common nature do not have their beginning now, but appeared with that nature at its first formation; such, for instance, as the operation of the senses, the appetitive, or contrary, instinct of the man with regard to anything, and other generally acknowledged accompaniments of his nature, none of which a particular epoch has introduced amongst those born in it; but our humanity is preserved continually, from first to last, within the same circle of qualities, losing none which it had at the beginning, any more than it acquires any which it had not then. But just as, while sight is a faculty common to our nature, scientific observation comes by training to those who have devoted themselves to some science (it is not every one, for instance, who can observe with the theodolite, or prove a theorem by means of lines in geometry, or do anything else, where art has introduced, not mere sight, but a special use of sight), so too, while one might pronounce the possession of reason to be a common property of humanity united to the very essence of our nature from above, the invention of terms significative of realities is the work of men who, possessing from above the power of reason, are continually finding out, according as they wish for them towards the elucidation of that which they plainly see, certain words expressive of these things. "But if these views are to prevail," says he, "one of two things is proved; either that conception is anterior to those who conceive, or that the names naturally befitting the Deity, and pre-existent to everything, are posterior to the beginning of man." Ought we to continue the fight against such assertions, and join issue with such manifest absurdity?

But who, pray, is so simple as to be harmed by such arguments, and to imagine that if names are once believed to be an outcome of the reasoning faculty, he must allow that the utterance of names is anterior to those who utter them, or else that he must think he is sinning against the Deity, in that every man continues to name the Deity, according as each after birth is capable of conceiving Him? As to this last supposition, it has been already explained that the Supreme Being has no need Himself of words as delivered by a voice and a tongue; and it would be superfluous to repeat what would only encumber the argument. In fine, a Being Whose nature is neither lacking nor redundant, but simply perfect, neither fails to possess anything that is necessary, nor possesses what is not necessary. Since, then, we have proved previously, and all thinking men unanimously agree, that the calling by names is not a necessity of the Deity, no one can deny the extreme profanity of thus assigning to Him what is not a necessity.

But I do not think that we need linger on this, nor minutely examine that which follows. To the more attentive reader, the argument elaborated by our opponent will itself appear in the light of a special pleader on the side of orthodoxy. He says, for instance, that imperishability and immortality are the very essence of the Deity. For my part I see no need to contend with him, no matter whether these qualities aforesaid only accrue to the Deity, or whether they are, by virtue of their signification, His essence; whichever of these two views is adopted, it will completely support our argument. For if the being imperishable only accrues to the essence, the not being generated will also most certainly only accrue to it; and so the idea of ungeneracy will be ejected from being the mark of the essence. If, on the other hand, because God is not subject to destruction, one affirms imperishability to be His essence, and, because He is stronger than death, one therefore defines immortality to be His very essence, and if the Son is imperishable and immortal (as He is), imperishability and immortality will also be the essence of the Only-begotten. If, then, the Father is imperishability, and the Son imperishability, and each of these imperishabilities is the essence, and no difference exists between them as regards the idea of imperishability, one essence will differ from the other essence in no way at all, seeing that in both equally the nature is a stranger to any corruption. Even if he should resume the same method as before, and place us on the horns of his dilemma from which, as he thinks, there is no escape, saying that, if we distinguish that which accrues from that which is, we make the Deity composite, whereas if we acknowledge His simplicity, then the imperishability and the ungeneracy are seen at once to be significative of His very essence-even then again we can show that he is fighting for our side. For if he will have it that God is made composite by our saying that anything accrues to Him, then he certainly cannot eject the Fatherhood either from the essence, but must confess that He is Father by His nature as much as He is imperishable and immortal; and so without intending it he must admit the Son also to partake of that intimate nature; for it will not be possible, if God is essentially Father, to exclude the Son from a relationship to Him thus essential. But if he says that the Fatherhood accrues to God, but is outside the circle of the substance, then he must concede to us that we may say anything we like accrues to the Deity, since the Divine simplicity is in no way marred, if His quality of ungeneracy is made to mean something outside the essence. If, however, he declares that the imperishability and the ungeneracy do mean the essence, and if he insists that these two words are equivalent, since, by reason of the same meaning lying in each, there is no difference between them, and if he thus assert that the very idea of imperishability and ungeneracy is one and the same, the One who is the first of these must necessarily be the second too. But that the Son is imperishable, let us observe, even these men entertain no doubt; therefore, by Eunomius' argument, the Son also is ungenerate, if imperishability and ungeneracy are to mean the same thing. So that he must accept one of two alternatives; either he must agree with us that ungeneracy is other than imperishability, or, if he abides by his assertions, he must in various ways speak blasphemy about the Only-begotten, making Him, for instance, perishable, in order that he may not have to say that He is ungenerate; or ungenerate, in order that he may not prove Him perishable.

But now I do not know which it is best to do; to pursue step by step this subject, or to put an end here to our contest with such folly. Well, as in the case of those who are selling destructive drugs, a very slight experiment guarantees to the purchasers the destructive power latent in all the drug, and no one doubts, after he has found out by an experiment its partial deadliness, that the drug sold is entirely of this deadly character, so I think it can be no longer doubtful to reflecting persons that this poisonous dose of argument, of which a specimen has been shown in what we have already examined, will continue throughout to be such as that which we have just refuted. For this reason I think it better not to prolong this detailed dwelling upon his absurdities. Nevertheless, seeing that the champions of this error discover plausibility for it from many quarters, and there is reason to fear lest to have overlooked any of their efforts will be made a specious pretext for misrepresenting us as having shirked their strongest point, I beg for this reason those who follow us out in this work to accompany our argument still, without charging us with prolixity, while it expands itself to meet the attacks of error along the whole line. Observe, then, that he has scarcely ceased weaving in the depths of his slumber this dream about conception before he arms himself again from his storehouse with those monstrous and senseless methods, and turns his argument into another dream much more meaningless than his previous illusion. But we may best know how absurd his efforts are by observing his treatment of "privation"; though to grapple with his nonsense in all its range would require a Eunomius, or one of his school, men who have never spent a thought on serious realities. We will, however, in a concise way run over the heads of it, that while none of his charges is omitted, no meaningless item may help to prolong the discussion to an absurd length.

When, then, he is on the point of introducing this treatment of terms of "privation," he takes upon himself to show "the incurable absurdity," as he calls it, of our teaching, and its "simulated and culpable cautionhyperlink ." Such is his promise; but the proof of these accusations is, what? "Some have said that the Deity is ungenerate by virtue only of the privation of generation; but we say, in refutation of these, that neither this word nor this idea is in any way whatever applicable to the Deity." Let him point out the maintainer of such a statement, if any from the first creation of man to the present day, whether in foreign or in Greek lands, has ever committed himself to such an utterance; and we will be silent. But no one in the whole history of mankind will be found to have said such a thing, except some madman. For who was ever so reeling from intoxication, who was ever so beside himself with madness or delirium, as to say, in so many words, that generation belongs naturally to the ungenerate God, but that, deprived of this natural condition, He becomes ungenerate instead of generated? But these are the shifts of rhetoric; namely, to escape when they are refuted from the shame of their refutation by means of some supposititious characters. It was in this way that he has apologized for that celebrated "Apology" of his, transferring as he did the blame for that title to jurymen and accusershyperlink , though unable to show that there were any accusers, any trial, or any court at all. Now, too, with the air of one who would correct another's folly, he pretends that he is driven by necessity to speak in this way. This is what his proof of our "incurable absurdity," and our "simulated and culpable caution," amounts to. But he goes on to say that we do not know what to do in our present position, and that to cover our perplexity we take to abusing him for his worldly learning, while we ourselves claim a monopoly of the teaching of the Holy Spirit. Here is his other dream, namely, that he has got so much of the heathen learning, that he appears by means of it a formidable antagonist to Basil. Just so there have been some men who have imagined themselves enthroned with basilicals, and of an exalted rank, because the deluded vision of their dreams, born of their waking longings, puts such fancies into their hearts. He says that Basil, not knowing what to do after what has been said, abuses him for his worldly learning. He would indeed have set a high value on such abuse, that is, on being thought formidable because of the abundance of his words even by any ordinary hearer, not to mention by Basil, and by men like him (if any are entirely like him, or ever have been). But, as for his intervening argument, if such low scurrility, and such tasteless buffoonery, can be called argument, by which he thinks he impugns our cause, I pass it all over, for I deem it an abominable and ungracious thing to soil our treatise with such pollutions; and I loathe them as men loathe some swollen and noisome ulcer, or turn from the spectacle presented by those whose skin is bloated by excess of humours, and disfigured with tuberous warts. And for a while our argument shall be allowed to expand itself freely, without having to turn to defend itself against men who are ready to scoff at and to tear to pieces everything that is said.

Every term-every term, that is, which is really such-is an utterance expressing some movement of thought. But every operation and movement of sound thinking is directed as far as it is possible to the knowledge and the contemplation of some reality. But then the whole world of realities is divided into two parts; that is, into the intelligible and the sensible. With regard to sensible phaenomena, knowledge, on account of the perception of them being so near at hand, is open for all to acquire; the judgment of the senses gives occasion to no doubt about the subject before them. The differences in colour, and the differences in all the other qualities which we judge of by means of the sense of hearing, or smell, or touch, or taste, can be known and named by all possessing our common humanity; and so it is with all the other things which appear to be more obvious to our apprehension, the things, that is, pertaining to the age in which we live, designed for political and moral ends. But in the contemplation of the intelligible world, on account of that world transcending the grasp of the senses, we move, some in one way, some in another, around the object of our search; and then, according to the idea arising in each of us about it, we announce the result as best we can, striving to get as near as possible to the full meaning of the thing thought about through the medium of expressive phrases. In this, though it is often possible to have achieved the task in both ways, when thought does not fail to hit the mark, and utterance interprets the notion with the appropriate word, yet it may happen that we may fail even in both, or in one, at least, of the two, when either the comprehending faculty or the interpreting capacity is carried beside the proper mark. There being, then, two factors by which every term is made a correct term, the mental exactitude and the verbal utterance, the result which commands approval in both ways, will certainly be the preferable; but it will not be a lesser gain, not to have missed the right conception, even though the word itself may happen to be inadequate to that thought. Whenever then, our thought is intent upon those high and unseen things which sense cannot reach (I mean, upon that divine and unspeakable world with regard to which it is an audacious thing to grasp in thought anything in it at random and more audacious still to trust to any chance word the representing of the conception arising from it), then, I say, turning from the mere sound of phrases, uttered well or ill according to the mental faculty of the speaker, we search for the thought, and that alone, which is found within the phrases, to see whether that itself be sound, or otherwise; and we leave the minutiae of phrase and name to be dealt with by the artificialities of grammarians. Now, seeing that we mark with an appellation only those things which we know, and those things which are above our knowledge it is not possible to seize by any distinctive terms (for how can one put a mark upon a thing we know nothing about?), therefore, because in such cases there is no appropriate term to be found to mark the subject adequately, we are compelled by many and differing names, as there may be opportunity, to divulge our surmises as they arise within us with regard to the Deity. But, on the other hand, all that actually comes within our comprehension is such that it must be of one of these four kinds: either contemplated as existing in an extension of distance, or suggesting the idea of a capacity in space within which its details are detected, or it comes within our field of vision by being circumscribed by a beginning or an end where the non-existent bounds it in each direction (for everything that has a beginning and an end of its existence, begins from the non-existent, and ends in the non-existent), or, lastly, we grasp the phaenomenon by means of an association of qualities wherein dying, and sufferance, and change, and alteration, and such-like are combined. Considering this, in order that the Supreme Being may not appear to have any connection whatever with things below, we use, with regard to His nature, ideas and phrases expressive of separation from all such conditions; we call, for instance, that which is above all times pre-temporal, that which is above beginning unbeginning, that which is not brought to an end unending, that which has a personality removed from body incorporeal, that which is never destroyed imperishable, that which is unreceptive of change, or sufferance, or alteration, passionless, changeless, and unalterable. Such a class of appellations can be reduced to any system that they like by those who wish for one; and they can fix on these actual appellations other appellations "privative," for instance, or "negative," or whatever they like. We yield the teaching and the learning of such things to those who are ambitious for it; and we will investigate the thoughts alone, whether they are within or beyond the circle of a religious and adequate conception of the Deity.

Well, then, if God did not exist formerly, or if there be a time when He will not exist, He cannot be called either unending or without beginning; and so also neither inalterable, nor incorporeal, nor imperishable, if there is any suspicion of body, or destruction, or alteration with regard to Him. But if it be part of our religion to attribute to Him none of these things, then it is a sacred duty to use of Him names privative of the things abhorrent to His Nature, and to say all that we have so often enumerated already, viz. that He is imperishable, and unending, and ungenerate, and the other terms of that class, where the sense inherent in each only informs us of the privation of that which is obvious to our perception, but does not interpret the actual nature of that which is thus removed from those abhorrent conditions. What the Deity is not, the signification of these names does point out; but what that further thing, which is not these things, is essentially, remains undivulged. Moreover, even the rest of these names, the sense of which does indicate some position or some state, do not afford that indication of the Divine nature itself, but only of the results of our reverent speculations about it. For when we have concluded generally that no single thing existing, whether an object of sense or of thought, is formed spontaneously or fortuitously, but that everything discoverable in the world is linked to the Being Who transcends all existences, and possesses there the source of its continuance, and we then perceive the beauty and the majesty of the wonderful sights in creation, we thus get from these and such-like marks a new range of thoughts about the Deity, and interpret each one of the thoughts thus arising within us by a special name, following the advice of Wisdom, who says that "by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionately the Maker of them is seenhyperlink ." We address therefore as Creator Him Who has made all mortal things, and as Almighty Him Who has compassed so vast a creation, Whose might has been able to realize His wish. When too we perceive the good that is in our own life, we give in accordance with this the name of Good to Him Who is our life's first cause. Then also having learnt from the Divine writings the incorruptibility of the judgment to come, we therefore call Him Judge and Just, and to sum up in one word, we transfer the thoughts that arise within us about the Divine Being into the mould of a corresponding name; so that there is no appellation given to the Divine Being apart from some distinct intuition about Him. Even the word God (Qeoj) we understand to have come into usage from the activity of His seeing; for our faith tells us that the Deity is everywhere, and sees (qeasqai) all things, and penetrates all things, and then we stamp this thought with this name (Qeoj), guided to it by the Holy Voice. For he who says, "O God, attend unto mehyperlink ," and, "Look, O Godhyperlink ," and, "God knoweth the secrets of the heart plainlyhyperlink ," reveals the latent meaning of this word, viz. that Qeoj is so called from qeasqai. For there is no difference between saying "Attend unto," "Look," and "See." Since, then, the seer must look towards some sight, God is rightly called the Seer of that which is to be seen. We are taught, then, by this word one sectional operation of the Divine Being, though we do not grasp in thought by means of it His substance itself, believing nevertheless that the Divine glory suffers no loss because of our being at a loss for a naturally appropriate name. For this inability to give expression to such unutterable things, while it reflects upon the poverty of our own nature, affords an evidence of God's glory, teaching us as it does, in the words of the Apostle, that the only name naturally appropriate to God is to believe Him to be "above every namehyperlink ." That he transcends every effort of thought, and is far beyond any circumscribing by a name, constitutes a proof to man of His ineffable majestyhyperlink .

Thus much, then, is known to us about the names uttered in any form whatever in reference to the Deity. We have given a simple explanation of them, unencumbered with argument, for the benefit of our candid hearers; as for Eunomius' nerveless contentions about these names, we judge it a thing disgraceful and unbecoming to us seriously to confute them. For what could one say in answer to a man who declares that we "attach more weight to the outward form of the name than to the value of the thing named, giving to names the prerogative over realities, and equality to things unequal"? Such are the words that he gives utterance to. Well, let any one who can do so considerately, judge whether this calumnious charge of his against us has anything in it dangerous enough to make it worth our while to defend ourselves as to our "giving to names the prerogative over realities"; for it is plain to every one that there is no single name that has in itself any substantial reality, but that every name is but a recognizing mark placed on some reality or some idea, having of itself no existence either as a fact or a thought.

How it is possible, then, to assign one's gratuities to the non-subsistent, let this man, who claims to be using words and phrases in their natural force, explain to the followers of his error. I would not, however, have mentioned this at all, if it had not placed a necessity upon me of proving our author's weakness both in thought and expression. As for all the passages from the inspired writings which he drags in, though quite unconnected with his object, formulating thereby a difference of immortalityhyperlink in angels and in men, I do not know what he has in his eye, or what he hopes to prove by them, and I pass them by. The immortal, as long as it is immortal, admits of no degrees of more and less arising from comparison. For if the one member of the comparison is, by the force of contrast, to suffer a diminution or privation as regards its immortality, it must needs be that such a member is not to be called immortal at all; for how can that be called absolutely immortal in which mortality is detected by this juxtaposition and comparison? And to think of that fine hair-splitting of his, in not allowing the idea of privation to be unvarying and general, but in asserting, on the contrary, that while separation from good things is privation, the absence of bad things is not to be marked by that term! If he is to get his way here, he will take the truth from the Apostle's words, which say that He "only hath immortalityhyperlink ," which He gives to others. What this newly-imported dictum of his has to do with his preceding argument, neither we nor any one else amongst reflecting people are able to understand. Yet because we have not the mental strength to take in these scientific subtleties, he calls us "unscientific both in our judgment as to objects, and in our use of terms"; those are his very words. But all this, as having no power to shake the truth, I pass over without further notice; and also how he misrepresents the view we have expounded of the imperishable, and of the unembodied, namely, that of these terms the latter signifies the undimensional, where the threefold extension belonging to all bodies is not to be found, and the former signifies that which is not receptive of destruction: and also how he says, that "we do not think it right to let the shape of these words be lost by extending them to ideas inapplicable to them, or to imagine that each of them is indicative of something not present or not accruing; but rather we think they are indicative of the actual essence"; all this I deem worthy only of silence and deep oblivion, and leave to the reader to detect for himself their mingled folly and blasphemy. He actually asserts that the perishable is not opposed to the imperishable, and that the privative sign does not mark the absence of the bad, but that the word which is the subject of our inquiry means the essence itself!

Well, if the term imperishable or indestructible is not considered by this maker of an empty system to be privative of destruction, then by a stern necessity it must follow that this shape given to the word indicates the very reverse (of the privation of destruction). If, that is, indestructibility is not the negation of destruction, it must be the assertion of something incongruous with itself; for it is the very nature of opposites that, when you take away the one, you admit the other to come in in its place. But as for the bitter task which he necessitates of proving that the Deity is unreceptive of death, as if there existed any one who held the contrary opinion, we leave it to take care of itself. For we hold that in the case of opposites, it makes no difference at all whether we say that something is A, or that it is not the opposite of A; for instance, in the present discussion, when we have said that God is Life, we implicitly forbid by this assertion the thought of death in connection with Him, even though we do not express this in speech; and when we assert that He is unreceptive of death, we in the same breath show Him to be Life.

"But I do not see," he rejoins, "how God can be above His own works simply by virtue of such things as do not belong to Himhyperlink ." And on the strength of this clever sally he calls it a union of folly and profanity, that our great Basil has ventured on such terms. But I would counsel him not to indulge his ribaldry too freely against those who use these terms, lest he should be unconsciously at the same moment heaping insults on himself. For I think that he himself would not gainsay that the very grandeur of the Divine Nature is recognized in this, viz. in the absence of all participation in those things which the lower natures are shown to possess. For if God were involved in any of these peculiarities, He would not possess His superiority, but would be quite identified with any single individual amongst the beings who share that peculiarity. But if He is above such things, by reason, in fact, of His not possessing them, then He stands also above those who do possess them; just as we say that the Sinless is superior to those in sin. The fact of being removed from evil is an evidence of abounding in the best. But let him heap these insults on us to his heart's content. We will only remark, in passing, on a single one of the points mentioned under this head, and will then return to the discussion of the main question.

He declares that God surpasses mortal beings as immortal, destructible beings as indestructible, generated beings as ungenerate, just in the same degree. Is it not, then, plain to all what this blasphemy of a fighter against God would prove? or must we by verbal demonstration unveil the profanity? Well, who does not know the axiom, that things which are distanced to the same amount (by something else) are level with one another? If, then, the destructible and the generated are surpassed in the same degree by the Deity, and if our Lord is generated, it will be for Eunomius to draw the blasphemous conclusion resulting from these data. For it is clear that he regards generation as the same thing as destruction and death, just as in his previous discussions he declares the ungenerate to be the same thing as the indestructible. If, then, he looks upon destruction and generation as upon the same level, and asserts that the Deity is equally removed from both of them, and if our Lord is generated, let no one demand from ourselves that we should apply the logical conclusion, but let him draw it for himself; if indeed it is true, as he says, that from the generated and from the destructible God is equally removed. "But," he proceeds, "it is not allowable for us to call Him indestructible and immortal by virtue of any absence of death and destruction." Let those who are led by the nose, and turn in any direction that each successive teacher pleases, believe this, and let them declare that destruction and death do belong to God, to make it possible for Him to be called immortal and indestructible! For if these terms of privation, as Eunomius says, "do not indicate the absence of death and destruction," then the presence in Him of the things opposite to, and estranged from, these is most certainly proved by this treatment of terms. Each one amongst conceivable things is either absent from something else, or it is not absent: for instance, light, darkness; life, death; health, disease, and so on. In all these cases, if one asserts that the one conception is absent, he will necessarily demonstrate that the other is present. If, then, Eunomius denies that God can be called immortal by reason of the absence of death, he will plainly prove the presence of death in Him, and so deny any immortality in the case of the universal Deity. But perhaps some one will say that we fix unfairly on his words; for that no one is so mad as to affirm that God is not immortal. But then, when none of mankind possess any knowledge of that which certain people secretly imagine, it is by their words that we have to make our guess about those secret things.

Therefore let us again handle this dictum of his: "God is not called immortal by virtue of the absence of death." How are we to accept this statement, that death is not absent from the Deity though He be called immortal? If he really commands us to think like this, Eunomius' God will be certainly mortal, and subject to destruction; for he from whom death is not absent is not in his essence immortal. But again; if these terms signify the absence neither of death nor of destruction, either they are applied falsely to the God overall, or else they comprise within themselves some different meaning. What this meaning is, our system-maker must explain to us. Whereas we, the people who according to Eunomius are unscientific in our judgment of objects and in our use of terms, have been taught to call sound (for instance), not the man from whom strength is absent, but the man from whom disease is absent; and unmutilated, not the man who keeps away from drinking-parties, but the man who has no mutilation upon him; and other qualities in the same way we name from the presence or the absence of something; manly, for instance, and unmanly; sleepy and sleepless; and all the other terms like that, which custom sanctions.

Still I cannot see what profit there is in deigning to examine such nonsense. For a man like myself, who has lived to gray hairshyperlink , and whose eyes are fixed on truth alone, to take upon his lips the absurd and flippant utterances of a contentious foe, incurs no slight danger of bringing condemnation on himself. I will therefore pass over both those words and the adjoining passage; this, for instance, "Truth gives no evidence of any union of natures with God." Well, if these words had not been spoken, who ever was there (except yourself) who mentioned a double nature in the Deity at all? You, however, unite each idea of each name with the essence of the Father, and deny that anything externally accrues to Him, centering every one of His names in that essence. Again, "Neither does she write in the statute-book of our religion any idea that is external and fabricated by ourselves." With regard to these words again I shall deprecate the idea that I have quoted them with a view of amusing the reader with their absurdity; rather I have done so with a view to show with what a slender equipment of arguments this man, after rating us for our want of system, advances to take these audacious liberties with the name of Truth. What is he in reasoning, and what is he in speech, that he should thus revel in showing himself off before his hidebound readers, who applaud him as victorious over everybody by force of argument when he has brought these disjointed utterances of his dry bombastic jargon to an endhyperlink . "Immortality," he says, "is the essence itself." But what, then, do you assert to be the essence of the Only-begotten? I ask you that: is it immortality, or is it not? For remember that in His essence also the singleness admits, as you say, of no complexity of nature. If, then Eunomius denies that immortality is the essence of the Son, it is clear what he is aiming at; for it does not require an exceedingly penetrating understanding to discover what is the direct opposite to the immortal. Just as the logic of dichotomy exhibits the destructible instead of the indestructible, and the mutable instead of the immutable, so it exhibits the mortal instead of the immortal. What, therefore, will this setter forth of new doctrine do? What proper name will he give us for the essence of the Only-begotten? Again I put this question to our author. He must either grant that it is immortality, or deny it. If, then, he will not assent to its being immortality, he must assent to the contradictory proposition; by negativing the superior term he proves that it is death. If, on the other hand, he shrinks from anything so monstrous, and names the essence of the Only-begotten also as immortality, he must perforce agree with us that there is in consequence no difference whatever, as to essence, between them. If the nature of the Father and the nature of the Son are equally immortality, and if immortality does not divide itself by any manner of difference, then it is confessed by our foes themselves, that on the score of essence no manner of difference is discoverable between the Father and the Son.

But it is time now to expose that angry accusation which he brings against us at the close of his treatise, saying that we affirm the Father to be from what is absolutely non-existent. Stealing an expression from its context, from which he drags it, as from its surrounding body, into a naked isolation, he tries to carp at it by worrying the word, or rather covering it with the slaver of his maddened teeth. I will therefore first give the meaning of the passage in which our Master explained this point to us; then I will quote it word for word: by so doing the man who intrudes uponhyperlink the expository work of orthodox writers, only to undermine the truth itself, will be revealed in his true colours. Our Master, in introducing us in his own treatise to the true meaning of ungenerate, suggested a way to arrive at a real knowledge of the term in dispute somewhat as follows, pointing out at the same time that it had a meaning very far removed from any idea of essence. He says that the Evangelisthyperlink , in beginning our Lord's lineage according to the flesh from Joseph, and then going back to the generation continually preceding, and then ending the genealogy in Adam, and, because there was no earthly father anterior to this first-formed creature, saying that he was "the son of God," makes it obvious to every reader's intelligence with regard to the Deity, that He, from Whom Adam was, has not Himself His subsistence from another, after the likeness of the human lives just given. When, having passed through the whole of it, we at last grasp the thought of the Deity, we perceive at the same moment the First Cause of it all. But if any such cause be found dependent on something else, then it is not a first cause. Therefore, if God is the First Cause of the Universe, there will be nothing whatever transcending this cause of all things. Such was our Master's exposition of the meaning of ungenerate; and in order that our testimony about it may not go beyond the exact truth, I will quote the passage.

"The evangelist Luke, when giving the genealogy according to the flesh of our God and Saviour Jesus Christ, and stepping up from the last to the first, begins with Joseph, saying that he was `the son of Heli, which was the son of Matthat,' and so by ascending brings his enumeration up to Adam; but when he has come to the top and said, that Seth `was the son of Adam, which was the son of God,' then he stops this process. As, then, he has said that Adam was the son of God, we will ask these men, `But God, who is He the son of?' Is it not obvious to every one's intelligence that God is the son of no one? But to be the son of no one is to be without a cause, plainly; and to be without a cause is to be ungenerate. Now in the case of men, the being son of somebody is not the essencehyperlink ; no more, in the case of the Deity Who rules the world, is it possible to say that the being ungenerate is the essence."

With what eyes will you now dare to gaze upon your guide? I speak to you, O flockhyperlink of perishing souls! How can you still turn to listen to this man who has reared such a monument as this of his shamelessness in argument? Are ye not ashamed now, at least, if not before, to take the hand of a man like this to lead you to the truth? Do ye not regard it as a sign of his madness as to doctrine, that he thus shamelessly stands out against the truth contained in Scripture? Is this the way to play the champion of the truth of doctrine-namely, to accuse Basil of deriving the God over all from that which has absolutely no existence? Am I to tell the way he phrases it? Am I to transcribe the very words of his shamelessness? I let the insolence of them pass; I do not blame their invective, for I do not censure one whose breath is of bad odour, because it is of bad odour; or one who has bodily mutilation, beause he is mutilated. Things such as that are the misfortunes of nature; they escape blame from those who can reflect. This strength of vituperation, then, is infirmity in reasoning; it is an affliction of a soul whose powers of sound argument are marred. No word from me, then, about his invectives. But as to that syllogism, with its stout irrefragable folds, in whose conclusion, to effect his darling object, he arrives at this accusation against us, I will write it out in its own precise words. "We will allow him to say that the Son exists by participation in the self-existenthyperlink ; but (instead of this), he has unconsciously affirmed that the God over all comes from absolute nonentity. For if the idea of the absence of everything amounts to that of absolute nonentityhyperlink , and the transposition of equivalents is perfectly legitimate, then the man who says that God comes from nothing says that He comes from nonentity." To which of these statements shall we first direct our attention? Shall we criticize his opinion about the Son "existing by participation" in the Deity, and his bespattering those who will not acquiesce in it with the foulness of his tongue; or shall we examine the sophism so frigidly constructed from the stuff of dreams? However, every one who possesses a spark of practical sagacity is not unaware that it is only poets and moulders of mythology who father sons "by participation" upon the Divine Being. Those, that is, who string together the myths in their poems, fabricate a Dionysus, or a Hercules, or a Minos, and such-like, out of the combination of the superhuman with human bodies; and they exalt such personages above the rest of mankind, representing them as of greater estimation because of their participation in a superior nature. Therefore,with regard to this opinion of his, carrying as it does within itself the evidence of its own folly and profanity, it is best to be silent; and to repeat instead that irrefragable syllogism of his, in order that every poor ignoramus on our side may understand what and how many are the advantages which those who are not trained in his technical methods are deprived of. He says, "If the idea of the absence of everything amounts to that of absolute nonentity, and the transposition of equivalents is perfectly legitimate, then the man who says that God comes from nothing, says that He comes from nonentity." He brandishes over us this Aristotelian weapon, but who has yet conceded to him, that to say that any one has no father amounts to saying that he has been generated from absolute nonentity? He who enumerates those persons whose line is recorded in Scripture is plainly thinking of a father preceding each person mentioned. For what relation is Heli to Joseph? What relation is Matthat to Heli? And what relation is Adam to Seth? Is it not plain to a mere child that this catalogue of names is a list of fathers? For if Seth is the son of Adam, Adam must be the father of one thus born from him; and so tell me, who is the father of the Deity Who is over all? Come, answer this question, open your lips and speak, exert all your skill in expression to meet such an inquiry. Can you discover any expression that will elude the grasp of your own syllogism? Who is the father of the Ungenerate? Can you say? If you can, then He is not ungenerate. Pressed thus, you will say, what indeed necessity compels you to say,-No one is. Well, my dear sir, do you not yet find the weak seams of your sophism giving way? Do you not perceive that you have slavered upon your own lap? What says our great Basil? That the Ungenerate One is from no father. For the conclusion to be drawn from the mention of fathers in the preceding genealogy permits the word father, even in the silence of the evangelist, to be added to this confession of faith. Whereas, you have transformed "no one" into "nothing at all," and again "nothing at all" into "absolute nonentity," thereby concocting that fallacious syllogism of yours. Accordingly this clever result of professional shrewdness shall be turned against yourself. I ask, Who is the father of the Ungenerate One? "No one," you will be obliged to answer; for the Ungenerate One cannot have a father. Then, if no one is the father of the Ungenerate, and you have changed "no one" into "nothing at all," and "nothing at all" is, according to your argument, the same as "absolute nonentity," and the transposition of equivalents is, as you say, perfectly legitimate, then the man (i. e. you) who says that no one is the father of the Ungenerate One, says that the Deity Who is over all comes from absolute nonentity!

Such, to use your own words, is the "evil," as one might expect, not indeed "of valuing the character for being clever before one is really such" (for perhaps this does not amount to a very great misfortune), but of not knowing oneself, and how great the distance is between the soaring Basil and a grovelling reptile. For if those eyes of his, with their divine penetration, still looked on this world, if he still swept over mankind now living on the pinions of his wisdom, he would have shown you with the swooping rush of his words, how frail is that native shell of folly in which you are encased, how great is he whom you oppose with your errors, while, with insults and invectives hurled at him, you are hunting for a reputation amongst decrepit and despicable creatures. Still you need not give up all hope of feeling that great man's talonshyperlink . For this work of ours, while, as compared with his, it will be a great thing for it to be judged the fraction of one such talon, has, as regards yours, ability enough to have broken asunder the outside crust of your heresy, and to have detected the deformity that hides within.


132 The Latin is wrong here, "secundum rerum intellectarum distinctricem significationem;" for nooumenwn without the article must be the gen. absol. Besides this the mss. read paratasin (not parastasin).

133 S. John xi. 25.

134 This may mean "short-hand" i. e. something difficult to decipher. See Book I. vi. note 10.

135 eulabeian tina prospoihton kai epilhpton.

136 See Book I. vii., ix., xi

137 Wisdom xiii. 5.

138 Ps. lv. 2.

139 Ps. cxix. 132.

140 Ps. xliv. 21.

141 Philip. ii. 9.

142 The theology of Gregory and his master Origen rises above the unconscious Stoicism of Tertullian, and even that of Clement, which has an air of materialistic pantheism about it, owing to his attempt, like that of Eunomius, to base our knowledge of God upon abstractions and analogies drawn from nature. The result, indeed, of the "abstraction process" of Clement is only a multiplication of negative terms, "immensity," "simplicity," "eternity," &c. But they will lead to nothing, if there is not already behind them all some positive idea which we have received from a different source. Faith is this source; it is described by Origen as "an ineffable grace of the soul which comes from God in a kind of enthusiasm;" which formula expresses the primary fact of religious consciousness such as Leibnitz demonstrated it: and the positive idea supplied by this faculty is with Origen Goodness (rather than the Good). He would put Will as well as Mind into the Central Idea of Metaphysics, and would have the heart governed as well as the reason. All that he says about the "incomprehensibility" of God does not militate against this: for we must have some idea of that which is incomprehensible to us: and the Goodness of the Deity is the side on which we gain this idea.

143 But there are two meanings of aqanatoj,-and of these perhaps Eunomius was thinking,-i. e. 1. Not dead; 2. Immortal. In Plato's Phaedo there is an argument for the immortality of the soul, certainly not the strongest one, drawn from this. It is assumed there that the thing, whose nature is such that so long as it exists it neither is noir can be dead, can never cease to exist i. e. the soul by virtue of not actually dying, though capable of death, is immortal Perhaps this accounts for Eunomius saying (lower down) that "the perishable is not opposed to the imperishable."

144 1 Tim. vi. 16.

145 The reasoning, which precedes and follows, amounts to this, Basil had said that the terms ungenerate, imperishable, immortal, are privative, i.e. express the absenc