Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.57 The Great Catechism Part 1

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05: 25.01.57 The Great Catechism Part 1

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 05 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 25.01.57 The Great Catechism Part 1

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The Great Catechism


The Trinity

Prologue and Chapter 1.-The belief in God rests on the art and wisdom displayed in the order of the world: the belief in the Unity of God, on the perfection that must belong to Him in respect of power, goodness, wisdom, etc. Still, the Christian who combats polytheism has need of care lest in contending against Hellenism he should fall unconsciously into Judaism. For God has a Logos: else He would be without reason. And this Logos cannot be merely an attribute of God. We are led to a more exalted conception of the Logos by the consideration that in the measure in which God is greater than we, all His predicates must also be higher than those which belong to us. Our logos is limited and transient; but the subsistence of the Divine Logos must be indestructible; and at the same time living, since the rational cannot be lifeless, like a stone. It must also have an independent life, not a participated life, else it would lose its simplicity; and, as living, it must also have the faculty of will. This will of the Logos must be equalled by his power: for a mixture of choice and impotence would, again, destroy the simplicity. His will, as being Divine, must be also good. From this ability and will to work there follows the realization of the good; hence the bringing into existence of the wisely and artfully adjusted world. But since, still further, the logical conception of the Word is in a certain sense a relative one, it follows that together with the Word He Who speaks it, i. e. the Father of the Word, must be recognized as existing. Thus the mystery of the faith avoids equally the absurdity of Jewish monotheism, and that of heathen polytheism. On the one hand, we say that the Word has life and activity; on the other, we affirm that we find in the Logoj, whose existence is derived from the Father, all the attributes of the Father's nature.

Chapter II.-By the analogy of human breath, which is nothing but inhaled and exhaled fire, i. e. an object foreign to us, is demonstrated the community of the Divine Spirit with the essence of God, and yet the independence of Its existence.

Chapter III.-From the Jewish doctrine, then, the unity of the Divine nature has been retained: from Hellenism the distinction into hypostases.

Chapter IV.-The Jew convicted from Scripture.

Reasonableness of the Incarnation.

Chapters V. and VI.- God created the world by His reason and wisdom; for He cannot have proceeded irrationally in that work; but His reason and wisdom are, as above shown, not to be conceived as a spoken word, or as the mere possession of knowledge, but as a personal and willing potency. If the entire world was created by this second Divine hypostasis, then certainly was man also thus created; yet not in view of any necessity, but from superabounding love, that there might exist a being who should participate in the Divine perfections. If man was to be receptive of these, it was necessary that his nature should contain an element akin to God; and, in particular, that he should be immortal. Thus, then, man was created in the image of God. He could not therefore be without the gifts of freedom, independence, self-determination; and his participation in the Divine gifts was consequently made dependent on his virtue. Owing to this freedom he could decide in favour of evil, which cannot have its origin in the Divine will, but only in our inner selves, where it arises in the form of a deviation from good, and so a privation of it. Vice is opposed to virtue only as the absence of the better. Since, then, all that is created is subject to change, it was possible that, in the first instance, one of the created spirits should turn his eye away from the good, and become envious, and that from this envy should arise a leaning towards badness, which should, in natural sequence, prepare the way for all other evil. He seduced the first men into the folly of turning away from goodness, by disturbing the Divinely ordered harmony between their sensuous and intellectual natures; and guilefully tainting their wills with evil.

Chapters VII. and VIII.-God did not, on account of His foreknowledge of the evil that would result from man's creation, leave man uncreated; for it was better to bring back sinners to original grace by the way of repentance and physical suffering than not to create man at all. The raising up of the fallen was a work befitting the Giver of life, Who is the wisdom and power of God; and for this purpose He became man.

Chapter IX.-The Incarnation was not unworthy of Him; for only evil brings degradation.

Chapter X.-The objection that the finite cannot contain the infinite, and that therefore the human nature could not receive into itself the Divine, is founded on the false supposition that the Incarnation of the Word means that the infinity of God was contained in the limits of the flesh, as in a vessel.-Comparison of the flame and wick.

Chapters XI., XII., XIII.-For the rest, the manner in which the Divine nature was united to the human surpasses our power of comprehension; although we are not permitted to doubt the fact of that union in Jesus, on account of the miracles which He wrought. The supernatural character of those miracles bears witness to their Divine origin.

Chapters XIV., XV., XVI., XVII.-The scheme of the Incarnation is still further drawn out, to show that this way for man's salvation was preferable to a single fiat of God's will. Christ took human weakness upon Him; but it was physical, not moral, weakness. In other words the Divine goodness did not change to its opposite, which is only vice. In Him soul and body were united, and then separated, according to the course of nature; but after He had thus purged human life, He reunited them upon a more general scale, for all, and for ever, in the Resurrection.

Chapter XVIII.-The ceasing of demon-worship, the Christian martyrdoms, and the devastation of Jerusalem, are accepted by some as proofs of the Incarnation-

Chapters XIX., XX.-But not by the Greek and the Jew. To return, then, to its reasonableness. Whether we regard the goodness, the power, the wisdom, or the justice of God, it displays a combination of all these acknowledged attributes, which, if one be wanting, cease to be Divine. It is therefore true to the Divine perfection.

Chapters XXI., XXII., XXIII.-What, then, is the justice in it? We must remember that man was necessarily created subject to change (to better or to worse). Moral beauty was to be the direction in which his free will was to move; but then he was deceived, to his ruin, by an illusion of that beauty. After we had thus freely sold ourselves to the deceiver, He who of His goodness sought to restore us to liberty could not, because He was just too, for this end have recourse to measures of arbitrary violence. It was necessary therefore that a ransom should be paid, which should exceed in value that which was to be ransomed; and hence it was necessary that the Son of God should surrender Himself to the power of death. God's justice then impelled Him to choose a method of exchange, as His wisdom was seen in executing it.Chapters XXIV., XXV.-But how about the power? That was more conspicuously displayed in Deity descending to lowliness, than in all the natural wonders of the universe. It was like flame being made to stream downwards. Then, after such a birth, Christ conquered death.

Chapter XXVI.-A certain deception was indeed practised upon the Evil one, by concealing the Divine nature within the human; but for the latter, as himself a deceiver, it was only a just recompense that he should be deceived himself: the great adversary must himself at last find that what has been done is just and salutary, when he also shall experience the benefit of the Incarnation. He, as well as humanity, will be purged.

Chapters XXVII., XXVIII.-A patient, to be healed, must be touched; and humanity had to be touched by Christ. It was not in "heaven"; so only through the Incarnation could it be healed.-It was, besides, no more inconsistent with His Divinity to assume a human than a "heavenly" body; all created beings are on a level beneath Deity. Even "abundant honour" is due to the instruments of human birth.

Chapters XXIX., XXX., XXXI.-As to the delay of the Incarnation, it was necessary that human degeneracy should have reached the lowest point, before the work of salvation could enter in. That, however, grace through faith has not come to all must be laid to the account of human freedom; if God were to break down our opposition by violent means, the praise-worthiness of human conduct would be destroyed.

Chapter XXXII.-Even the death on the Cross was sublime: for it was the culminating and necessary point in that scheme of Love in which death was to be followed by blessed resurrection for the whole "lump" of humanity: and the Cross itself has a mystic meaning.

The Sacraments.

Chapters XXXIII., XXXIV., XXXV., XXXVI.-The saving nature of Baptism depends on three things; Prayer, Water, and Faith. 1. It is shown how Prayer secures the Divine Presence. God is a God of truth; and He has promised to come (as Miracles prove that He has come already) if invoked in a particular way. 2. It is shown how the Deity gives life from water. In human generation, even without prayer, He gives life from a small beginning. In a higher generation He transforms matter, not into soul, but into spirit. 3. Human freedom, as evinced in faith and repentance, is also necessary to Regeneration. Being thrice dipped in the water is our earliest mortification; coming out of it is a forecast of the ease with which the pure shall rise in a blessed resurrection: the whole process is an imitation of Christ.

Chapter XXXVII.-The Eucharist unites the body, as Baptism the soul, to God. Our bodies, having received poison, need an Antidote; and only by eating and drinking can it enter. One Body, the receptacle of Deity, is this Antidote, thus received. But how can it enter whole into each one of the Faithful? This needs an illustration. Water gives its own body to a skin-bottle. So nourishment (bread and wine) by becoming flesh and blood gives bulk to the human frame: the nourishment is the body. Just as in the case of other men, our Saviour's nourishment (bread and wine) was His Body; but these, nourishment and Body, were in Him changed into the Body of God by the Word indwelling. So now repeatedly the bread and wine, sanctified by the Word (the sacred Benediction), is at the same time changed into the Body of that Word; and this Flesh is disseminated amongst all the Faithful.

Chapters XXXVIII., XXXIX.-It is essential for Regeneration to believe that the Son and the Spirit are not created spirits, but of like nature with God the Father; for he who would make his salvation dependent (in the baptismal Invocation) on anything created would trust to an imperfect nature, and one itself needing a saviour.

Chapter XL.-He alone has truly become a child of God who gives evidence of his regeneration by putting away from himself all vice


The presiding ministers of the "mystery of godliness"hyperlink have need of a system in their instructions, in order that the Church may be replenished by the accession of such as should be savedhyperlink , through the teaching of the word of Faith being brought home to the hearing of unbelievers. Not that the same method of instruction will be suitable in the case of all who approach the word. The catechism must be adapted to the diversities of their religious worship; with an eye, indeed, to the one aim and end of the system, but not using the same method of preparation in each individual case. The Judaizer has been preoccupied with one set of notions, one conversant with Hellenism, with others; while the Anomoean, and the Manichee, with the followers of Marcionhyperlink , Valentinus, and Basilideshyperlink , and the rest on the list of those who have wandered into heresy, each of them being prepossessed with their peculiar notions, necessitate a special controversy with their several. opinions. The method of recovery must be adapted to the form of the disease. You will not by the same means cure the polytheism of the Greek, and the unbelief of the Jew as to the Only-begotten God: nor as regards those who have wandered into heresy will you, by the same arguments in each case, upset their misleading romances as to the tenets of the Faith. No one could set Sabelliushyperlink right by the same instruction as would benefit the Anomoeanhyperlink . The controversy with the Manichee is profitless against the Jewhyperlink . It is necessary, therefore, as I have said, to regard the opinions which the persons have taken up, and to frame your argument in accordance with the error into which each has fallen, by advancing in each discussion certain principles and reasonable propositions, that thus, through what is agreed upon on both sides, the truth may conclusively be brought to light. When, then, a discussion is held with one of those who favour Greek ideas, it would be well to make the ascertaining of this the commencement of the reasoning, i.e. whether he presupposes the existence of a God, or concurs with the atheistic view. Should he say there is no God, then, from the consideration of the skilful and wise economy of the Universe he will be brought to acknowledge that there is a certain overmastering power manifested through these channels. If, on the other hand, he should have no doubt as to the existence of Deity, but should be inclined to entertain the presumption of a plurality of Gods, then we will adopt against him some such train of reasoning as this: "does he think Deity is perfect or defective?" and if, as is likely, he bears testimony to the perfection in the Divine nature, then we will demand of him to grant a perfection throughout in everything that is observable in that divinity, in order that Deity may not be regarded as a mixture of opposites, defect and perfection. But whether as respects power, or the conception of goodness, or wisdom and imperishability and eternal existence, or any other notion besides suitable to the nature of Deity, that is found to lie close to the subject of our contemplation, in all he will agree that perfection is the idea to be entertained of the Divine nature, as being a just inference from these premises. If this, then, be granted us, it would not be difficult to bring round these scattered notions of a plurality of Gods to the acknowledgment of a unity of Deity. For if he admits that perfection is in every respect to be ascribed to the subject before us, though there is a plurality of these perfect things which are marked with the same character, he must be required by a logical necessity, either to point out the particularity in each of these things which present no distinctive variation, but are found always with the same marks, or, if (he cannot do that, and) the mind can grasp nothing in them in the way of particular, to give up the idea of any distinction. For if neither as regards "more and less" a person can detect a difference (in as much as the idea of perfection does not admit of it), nor as regards "worse" and "better" (for he cannot entertain a notion of Deity at all where the term "worse" is not got rid of), nor as regards "ancient" and "modern" (for what exists not for ever is foreign to the notion of Deity), but on the contrary the idea of Godhead is one and the same, no peculiarity being on any ground of reason to be discovered in any one point, it is an absolute necessity that the mistaken fancy of a plurality of Gods would be forced to the acknowledgment of a unity of Deity. For if goodness, and justice, and wisdom, and power may be equally predicated of it, then also imperishability and eternal existence, and every orthodox idea would be in the same way admitted. As then all distinctive difference in any aspect whatever has been gradually removed, it necessarily follows that together with it a plurality of Gods has been removed from his belief, the general identity bringing round conviction to the Unity.

Chapter I.

But since our system of religion is wont to observe a distinction of persons in the unity of the Nature, to prevent our argument in our contention with Greeks sinking to the level of Judaism there is need again of a distinct technical statement in order to correct all error on this point.

For not even by those who are external to our doctrine is the Deity held to be without Logoshyperlink . Now this admission of theirs will quite enable our argument to be unfolded. For he who admits that God is not without Logos, will agree that a being who is not without Logos (or word) certainly possesses Logos. Now it is to be observed that the utterance of man is expressed by the same term. If, then, he should say that he understands what the Logos of God is according to the analogy of things with us, he will thus be led on to a loftier idea, it being an absolute necessity for him to believe that the utterance, just as everything else, corresponds with the nature. Though, that is, there is a certain sort of force, and life, and wisdom, observed in the human subject, yet no one from the similarity of the terms would suppose that the life, or power, or wisdom, were in the case of God of such a sort as that, but the significations of all such terms are lowered to accord with the standard of our nature. For since our nature is liable to corruption and weak, therefore is our life short, our strength unsubstantial, our word unstablehyperlink . But in that transcendent nature, through the greatness of the subject contemplated, every thing that is said about it is elevated with it. Therefore though mention be made of God's Word it will not be thought of as having its realization in the utterance of what is spoken, and as then vanishing away, like our speech, into the nonexistent. On the contrary, as our nature, liable as it is to come to an end, is endued with speech which likewise comes to an end, so that, imperishable and ever-existing nature has eternal, and substantial speech. If, then, logic requires him to admit this eternal subsistence of God's Word, it is altogether necessary to admit also that the subsistencehyperlink of that word consists in a living state; for it is an impiety to suppose that the Word has a soulless subsistence after the manner of stones. But if it subsists, being as it is something with intellect and without body, then certainly it lives, whereas if it be divorced from life, then as certainly it does not subsist; but this idea that the Word of God does not subsist, has been shown to be blasphemy. By consequence, therefore, it has also been shown that the Word is to be considered as in a living condition. And since the nature of the Logos is reasonably believed to be simple, and exhibits in itself no duplicity or combination, no one would contemplate the existence of the living Logos as dependent on a mere participation of life, for such a supposition, which is to say that one thing is within another, would not exclude the idea of compositeness; but, since the simplicity has been admitted, we are compelled to think that the Logos has an independent life, and not a mere participation of life. If, then, the Logos, as being life, liveshyperlink , it certainly has the faculty of will, for no one of living creatures is without such a faculty. Moreover that such a will has also capacity to act must be the conclusion of a devout mind. For if you admit not this potency, you prove the reverse to exist. But no; impotence is quite removed from our conception of Deity. Nothing of incongruity is to be observed in connection with the Divine nature, but it is absolutely necessary to admit that the power of that word is as great as the purpose, lest mixture, or concurrence, of contradictions be found in an existence that is incomposite, as would be the case if, in the same purpose, we were to detect both impotence and power, if, that is, there were power to do one thing, but no power to do something else. Also we must suppose that this will in its power to do all things will have no tendency to anything that is evil (for impulse towards evil is foreign to the Divine nature), but that whatever is good, this it also wishes, and, wishing, is able to perform, and, being able, will not fail to performhyperlink ; but that it will bring all its proposals for good to effectual accomplishment. Now the world is good, and all its contents are seen to be wisely and skilfully ordered. All of them, therefore, are the works of the Word, of one who, while He lives and subsists, in that He is God's Word, has a will too, in that He lives; of one too who has power to effect what He wills, and who wills what is absolutely good and wise and all else that connotes superiority. Whereas, then, the world is admitted to be something good, and from what has been said the world has been shown to be the work of the Word, who both wills and is able to effect the good, this Word is other than He of whom He is the Word. For this, too, to a certain extent is a term of "relation," inasmuch as the Father of the Word must needs be thought of with the Word, for it would not be word were it not a word of some one. If, then, the mind of the hearers, from the relative meaning of the term, makes a distinction between the Word and Him from whom He proceeds, we should find that the Gospel mystery, in its contention with the Greek conceptions, would not be in danger of coinciding with those who prefer the beliefs of the Jews. But it will equally escape the absurdity of either party, by acknowledging both that the living Word of God is an effective and creative being, which is what the Jew refuses to receive, and also that the Word itself,and He from whom He is, do not differ in their nature. As in our own case we say that the word is from the mind, and no more entirely the same as the mind, than altogether other than it (for, by its being from it, it is something else, and not it; still by its bringing the mind in evidence it can no longer be considered as something other than it; and so it is in its essence one with mind, while as a subject it is different), in like manner, too, the Word of God by its self-subsistence is distinct from Him from whom it has its subsistence; and yet by exhibiting in itself those qualities which are recognized in God it is the same in nature with Him who is recognizable by the same distinctive marks. For whether one adopts goodnesshyperlink , or power, or wisdom, or eternal existence, or the incapability of vice, death, and decay, or an entire perfection, or anything whatever of the kind, to mark one's conception of the Father, by means of the same marks he will find the Word that subsists from Him.

Chapter II.

As, then, by the higher mystical ascenthyperlink from matters that concern ourselves to that transcendent nature we gain a knowledge of the Word, by the same method we shall be led on to a conception of the Spirit, by observing in our own nature certain shadows and resemblances of His ineffable power. Now in us the spirit (or breath) is the drawing of the air, a matter other than ourselves, inhaled and breathed out for the necessary sustainment of the body. This, on the occasion of uttering the word, becomes an utterance which expresses in itself the meaning of the word. And in the case of the Divine nature it has been deemed a point of our religion that there is a Spirit of God, just as it has been allowed that there is a Word of God, because of the inconsistency of the Word of God being deficient as compared with our word, if, while this word of ours is contemplated in connection with spirit, that other Word were to be believed to be quite unconnected with spirit. Not indeed that it is a thought proper to entertain of Deity, that after the manner of our breath something foreign from without flows into God, and in Him becomes the Spirit; but when we think of God's Word we do not deem the Word to be something unsubstantial, nor the result of instruction, nor an utterance of the voice, nor what after being uttered passes away, nor what is subject to any other condition such as those which are observed in our word, but to be essentially self-subsisting, with a faculty of will ever-working, all-powerful. The like doctrine have we received as to God's Spirit; we regard it as that which goes with the Word and manifests its energy, and not as a mere effluence of the breath; for by such a conception the grandeur of the Divine power would be reduced and humiliated, that is, if the Spirit that is in it were supposed to resemble ours. But we conceive of it as an essential power, regarded as self-centred in its own proper person, yet equally incapable of being separated from God in Whom it is, or from the Word of God whomit accompanies, as from melting into nothingness; but as being, after the likeness of God's Word, existing as a personhyperlink , able to will, self-moved, efficient, ever choosing the good, and for its every purpose having its power concurrent with its will.

Chapter III.

And so one who severely studies the depths of the mystery, receives secretly in his spirit, indeed, a moderate amount of apprehension of the doctrine of God's nature, yet he is unable to explain clearly in words the ineffable depth of this mystery. As, for instance, how the same thing is capable of being numbered and yet rejects numeration, how it is observed with distinctions yet is apprehended as a monad, how it is separate as to personality yet is not divided as to subject matterhyperlink . For, in personality, the Spirit is one thing and the Word another, and yet again that from which the Word and Spirit is, another. But when you have gained the conception of what the distinction is in these, the oneness, again, of the nature admits not division, so that the supremacy of the one First Cause is not split and cut up into differing Godships, neither does the statement harmonize with the Jewish dogma, but the truth passes in the mean between these two conceptions, destroying each heresy, and yet accepting what is useful to it from each. The Jewish dogma is destroyed by the acceptance of the Word, and by the belief in the Spirit; while the polytheistic error of the Greek school is made to vanish by the unity of the Nature abrogating this imagination of plurality. While yet again, of the Jewish conception, let the unity of the Nature stand; and of the Hellenistic, only the distinction as to persons; the remedy against a profane view being thus applied, as required, on either side. For it is as if the number of the triad were a remedy in the case of those who are in error as to the One, and the assertion of the unity for those whose beliefs are dispersed among a number of divinities.

Chapter IV.

But should it be the Jew who gainsays these arguments, our discussion with him will no longer present equal difficultyhyperlink , since the truth will be made manifest out of those doctrines on which he has been brought up. For that there is a Word of God, and a Spirit of God, powers essentially subsisting, both creative of whatever has come into being, and comprehensive of things that exist, is shown in the clearest light out of the Divinely-inspired Scriptures. It is enough if we call to mind one testimony, and leave the discovery of more to those who are inclined to take the trouble. "By the Word of the Lord," it is said, "the heavens were established, and all the power of them by the breath of His mouthhyperlink ." What word and what breath? For the Word is not mere speech, nor that breath mere breathing. Would not the Deity be brought down to the level of the likeness of our human nature, were it held as a doctrine that the Maker of the universe used such word and such breath as this? What power arising from speech or breathing could there be of such a kind as would suffice for the establishment of the heavens and the powers that are therein? For if the Word of God is like our speech, and His Breath is like our breath, then from these like things there must certainly come a likeness of power; and the Word of God has just so much force as our word, and no more. But the words that come from us and the breath that accompanies their utterance are ineffective and unsubstantial. Thus, they who would bring down the Deity to a similarity with the word as with us render also the Divine word and spirit altogether ineffective and unsubstantial. But if, as David says, "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens established, and their powers had their framing by His breath," then has the mystery of the truth been confirmed, which instructs us to speak of a word as in essential being, and a breath as in personality.

Chapter V.

That there is, then, a Word of God, and a Breath of God, the Greek, with his "innate ideas"hyperlink , and the Jew, with his Scriptures, will perhaps not deny. But the dispensation as regards the Word of God, whereby He became man, both parties would perhaps equally reject, as being incredible and unfitting to be told of God. By starting, therefore, from another point we will bring these gainsayers to a belief in this fact. They believe that all things came into being by thought and skill on the part of Him Who framed the system of the universe; or else they hold views that do not conform to this opinion. But should they not grant that reason and wisdom guided the framing of the world, they will install unreason and unskilfulness on the throne of the universe. But if this is an absurdity and impiety, it is abundantly plain that they must allow that thought and skill rule the world. Now in what has been previously said, the Word of God has been shown not to be this actual utterance of speech, or the possession of some science or art, but to be a power essentially and substantially existing, willing all good, and being possessed of strength to execute all its will; and, of a world that is good, this power appetitive and creative of good is the cause. If, then, the subsistence of the whole world has been made to depend on the power of the Word, as the train of the argument has shown, an absolute necessity prevents us entertaining the thought of there being any other cause of the organization of the several parts of the world than the Word Himself, through whom all things in it passed into being. If any one wants to call Him Word, or Skill, or Power, or God, or anything else that is high and prized, we will not quarrel with him. For whatever word or name be invented as descriptive of the subject, one thing is intended by the expressions, namely the eternal power of God which is creative of things that are, the discoverer of things that are not, the sustaining cause of things that are brought into being, the foreseeing cause of things yet to be. This, then, whether it be God, or Word, or Skill, or Power, has been shown by inference to be the Maker of the nature of man, not urged to framing him by any necessity, but in the superabundance of love operating the production of such a creature. For needful it was that neither His light should be unseen, nor His glory without witness, nor His goodness unenjoyed, nor that any other quality observed in the Divine nature should in any case lie idle, with none to share it or enjoy it. If, therefore, man comes to his birth upon these conditions, namely to be a partaker of the good things in God, necessarily he is framed of such a kind as to be adapted to the participation of such good. For as the eye, by virtue of the bright ray which is by nature wrapped up in it, is in fellowship with the light, and by its innate capacity draws to itself that which is akin to it, so was it needful that a certain affinity with the Divine should be mingled with the nature of man, in order that by means of this correspondence it might aim at that which was native to it. It is thus even with the nature of the unreasoning creatures, whose lot is cast in water or in air; each of them has an organization adapted to its kind of life, so that by a peculiar formation of the body, to the one of them the air, to the other the water, is its proper and congenial element. Thus, then, it was needful for man, born for the enjoyment of Divine good, to have something in his nature akin to that in which he is to participate. For this end he has been furnished with life, with thought, with skill, and with all the excellences that we attribute to God, in order that by each of them he might have his desire set upon that which is not strange to him. Since, then, one of the excellences connected with the Divine nature is also eternal existence, it was altogether needful that the equipment of our nature should not be without the further gift of this attribute, but should have in itself the immortal, that by its inherent faculty it might both recognize what is above it, and be possessed with a desire for the divine and eternal lifehyperlink . In truth this has been shown in the comprehensive utterance of one expression, in the description of the cosmogony, where it is said that man was made "in the image of God"hyperlink . For in this likeness, implied in the word image, there is a summary of all things that characterize Deity; and whatever else Moses relates, in a style more in the way of history, of these matters, placing doctrines before us in the form of a story, is connected with the same instruction. For that Paradise of his, with its peculiar fruits, the eating of which did not afford to them who tasted thereof satisfaction of the appetite, but knowledge and eternity of life, is in entire agreement with what has been previously considered with regard to man, in the view that our nature at its beginnings was good, and in the midst of good. But, perhaps, what has been said will be contradicted by one who looks only to the present condition of things, and thinks to convict our statement of untruthfulness, inasmuch as man is seen no longer under those primeval circumstances, but under almost entirely opposite ones. "Where is the divine resemblance in the soul? Where the body's freedom from suffering? Where the eternity of life? Man is of brief existence, subject to passions, liable to decay, and ready both in body and mind for every form of suffering." By these and the like assertions, and by directing the attack against human nature, the opponent will think that he upsets the account that has been offered respecting man. But to secure that our argument may not have to be diverted from its course at any future stage, we will briefly discuss these points. That the life of man is at present subject to abnormal conditions is no proof that man was not created in the midst of good. For since man is the work of God, Who through His goodness brought this creature into being, no one could reasonably suspect that he, of whose constitution goodness is the cause, was created by his Maker in the midst of evil. But there is another reason for our present circumstances being what they are, and for our being destitute of the primitive surroundings: and yet again the starting-point of our answer to this argument against us is not beyond and outside the assent of our opponents. For He who made man for the participation of His own peculiar good, and incorporated in him the instincts for all that was excellent, in order that his desire might be carried forward by a corresponding movement in each case to its like, would never have deprived him of that most excellent and precious of all goods; I mean the gift implied in being his own master, and having a free will. For if necessity in any way was the master of the life of man, the "image" would have been falsified in that particular part, by being estranged owing to this unlikeness to its archetype. How can that nature which is under a yoke and bondage to any kind of necessity be called an image of a Master Being? Was it not, then, most right that that which is in every detail made like the Divine should possess in its nature a self-ruling and independent principle, such as to enable the participation of good to be the reward of its virtue? Whence, then, comes it, you will ask, that he who had been distinguished throughout with most excellent endowments exchanged these good things for the worse? The reason of this also is plain. No growth of evil had its beginning in the Divine will. Vice would have been blameless were it inscribed with the name of God as its maker and father. But the evil is, in some way or other, engenderedhyperlink from within, springing up in the will at that moment when there is a retrocession of the soul from the beautifulhyperlink , For as sight is an activity of nature, and blindness a deprivation of that natural operation, such is the kind of opposition between virtue and vice. It is, in fact, not possible to form any other notion of the origin of vice than as the absence of virtue. For as when the light has been removed the darkness supervenes, but as long as it is present there is no darkness, so, as long as the good is present in the nature, vice is a thing that has no inherent existence; while the departure of the better state becomes the origin of its opposite. Since then, this is the peculiarity of the possession of a free will, that it chooses as it likes the thing that pleases it, you will find that it is not God Who is the author of the present evils, seeing that He has ordered your nature so as to be its own master and free; but rather the recklessness that makes choice of the worse in preference to the better.


1 1 Tim. iii. 16.

2 Acts ii. 47.

3 Marcion, a disciple of Cerdo, added a third Principle to the two which his master taught. The first is an unnamed, invisible, and good God, but no creator; the second is a visible and creative God, i. e. the Demiurge; the third intermediate between the invisible and visible God, i. e. the Devil. The Demiurge is the God and Judge of the Jews. Marcion affirmed the Resurrection of the soul alone. He rejected the Law and the Prophets as proceeding from the Demiurge; only Christ came down from the unnamed and invisible Father to save the soul, and to confute this God of the Jews. The only Gospel he acknowledged was S. Luke's, omitting the beginning which details our Lord's Conception and Incarnation. Other portions also both in the middle and the end he curtailed. Besides this broken Gospel of S. Luke he retained ten of the Apostolic letters, but garbled even them. Gregory says elsewhere that the followers of Eunomius got their "duality of Gods" from Marcion, but went beyond him in denying essential goodness to the Only-begotten, the "God of the Gospel."

4 Of the Gnostics Valentinus and Basilides the truest and best account is given in H. L. Mansel's Gnostics, and in the articles upon them in the Dictionary of Christian Biography. It is there shown how all their visions of celestial Hierarchies, and the romances connected with them, were born of the attempt to solve the insoluble problem, i. e. how that which in modern philosophy would be called the Infinite is to pass into the Finite. They fell into the fatalism of the Emanationist view of the Deity, but still the attempt was an honest one.

5 Sabellius. The Sabellian heresy was rife in the century preceding: i. e. that Personality is attributed to the Deity only from the exigency of human language, that consequently He is sometimes characterized as the Father, when operations and works more appropriate to the paternal relation are spoken of; and so in like manner of the Son, and the Holy Ghost; as when Redemption is the subject, or Sanctification. In making the Son the Father, it is the opposite pole to Arianism.

6 "We see also the rise (i.e. a.d. 350) of a new and more defiant Arian school, more in earnest than the older generation, impatient of their shuffling diplomacy, and less pliant to court influences. Aetius.... came to rest in a clear and simple form of Arianism. Christianity without mystery seems to have been his aim. The Anomoean leaders took their stand on the doctrine of Arius himself and dwelt with emphasis on its most offensive aspects. Arius had long ago laid down the absolute unlikeness of the Son to the Father, but for years past the Arianizers had prudently softened it down. Now, however, `unlike

0' became the watchword of Aetius and Eunomius": Gwatkin's Arians. For the way in which this school treated the Trinity see Against Eunomius, p. 50.

7 I. e. an argument against Dualism would only confirm the Jew in his stern monotheism. Manes had taught also that "those souls who believe Jesus Christ to be the Son of God renounce the worship of the God of the Jews, who is the Prince of Darkness," and that "the Old Testament was the work of this Prince, who was substituted by the Jews in the place of the true God."

8 the Deity ...without Logos. In another treatise (De Fide, p. 40) Gregory bases the argument for the eternity of the Logoj on John i. 1, where it is not said, "after the beginning," but "in the beginning." The beginning, therefore, never was without the Logoj.

9 unstable: apaghj (the reading arpagij is manifestly wrong). So afterwards human speech is called epikhroj. Cf. Athanasius (Contr. Arian. 3): "Since man came from the non-existent, therefore his `word

0' also has a pause, and does not last. From man we get, day after day, many different words, because the first abide not, but are forgotten."

10 upostasin. About this oft repeated word the question arises whether we are indebted to Christians or to Platonists for the first skilful use of it in expressing that which is neither substance nor quality. Abraham Tucker (Light of Nature, ii. p. 191) hazards the following remark with regard to the Platonic Triad, i. e. Goodness, Intelligence, Activity, viz. that quality would not do as a general name for these principles, because the ideas and abstract essences existed in the Intelligence, &c., and qualities cannot exist in one another, e. g. yellowness cannot be soft: nor could substance be the term, for then they must have been component parts of the Existent, which would have destroyed the unity of the Godhead: "therefore, he (Plato) styled them Hypostases or Subsistencies, which is something between substance and quality, inexisting in the one, and serving as a receptacle for the other's inexistency within it." But he adds, "I do not recommend this explanation to anybody"; nor does he state the authority for this Platonic use, so lucidly explained, of the word. Indeed, if the word had ever been applied to the principles of the Platonic triad, to express in the case of each of them "the distinct subsistence in a common ousia," it would have falsified the very conception of the first, i. e. Goodness, which was never relative. So that this very word seems to emphasize, so far, the antagonism between Christianity and Platonism. Socrates (E. H. iii. 7) bears witness to the absence of the word from the ancient Greek philosophy: "it appears to us that the Greek philosophers have given us various definitions of ousia, but have not taken the slightest notice of upostasij. is not found in any of the ancients except occasionally in a sense quite different from that which is attached to it at the present day (i.e. fifth century). Thus Sophocles in his tragedy entitled Phoenix uses it to signify `treachery

0'; in Menander it implies `sauces

0' (i. e. sediment). But although the ancient philosophical writers scarcely noticed the word, the more modern ones have frequently used it instead of ousia." But it was, as far as can be traced, the unerring genius of Origen that first threw around the Logoj that atmosphere of a new term, i. e. upostasij, as well as omoousioj, autoqeoj, which afterward made it possible to present the Second Person to the Greek-speaking world as the member of an equal and indivisible Trinity. It was he who first selected such words and saw what they were capable of; though he did not insist on that fuller meaning which was put upon them when all danger within the Church of Sabellianism had disappeared, and error passed in the guise of Arianism to the opposite extreme.

11 lives. This doctrine is far removed from that of Philo, i. e. from the Alexandrine philosophy. The very first statement of S. John represents the Logoj as having a backward movement towards the Deity, as well as a forward movement from Him; as held there, and yet sent thence by a force which he calls Love, so that the primal movement towards the world does not come from the Logoj, but from the Father Himself. The Logoj here is the Word, and not the Reason; He is the living effect of a living cause, not a theory or hypothesis standing at the gateway of an insoluble mystery. The Logoj speaks because the Father speaks, not because the Supreme cannot and will not speak; and their relations are often the reverse of those they hold in Philo; for the Father becomes at times the meditator between the Logoj and the world drawing men towards Him and subduing portions of the Creation before His path. Psychology seems to pour a light straight into the Council-chamber of the Eternal; while Metaphysics had turned away from it, with her finger on her lips. Philo may have used, as Tholuck thinks, those very texts of the Old Testament which support the Christian doctrine of the Word, and in the translation of which the LXX. supplied him with the Greek word. But, however derived, his theology eventually ranged itself with those pantheistic views of the universe which subdued all thinking minds not Christianized, for more than three centuries after him. The majority of recent critics certainly favour the supposition that the Logoj of Philo is a being numerically distinct from the Supreme; but when the relation of the Supreme is attentively traced in each, the actual antagonism of the Christian system and his begins to be apparent. The Supreme of Philo is not and can never be related to the world. The Logoj is a logical necessity as a mediator between the two; a spiritual being certainly, but only the head of a long series of such beings, who succeed at last in filling the passage between the finite and the infinite. In this system there is no mission of love and of free will; such beings are but as the milestones to mark the distance between man and the Great Unknown. It is significant that Vacherot, the leading historian of the Alexandrine school of philosophy, doubts whether John the Evangelist ever even heard of the Jewish philosopher of Alexandria. It is pretty much the same with the members of the Neoplatonic Triad as with the Logoj of Philo. The God of Plotinus and Proclus is not a God in three hypostases: he is simply one, Intelligence and Soul being his necessary emanations; they are in God, but they are not God: Soul is but a hypostasis of a hypostasis. The One is not a hypostasis, but above it. This "Trinity" depends on the distinction and succession of the necessary movements of the Deity; it consists of three distinct and separate principles of things. The Trinity is really peculiar to Christianity. Three inseparable Hypostases make equally a part of the Divine nature, so that to take away one would be to destroy the whole. The Word and Spirit are Divine, not intermediaries disposed in a hierarchy on the route of the world to God. As Plotinus reproached the Gnostics, the Christian mysticism despises the world, and suppressing the intermediaries who in other doctrines serve to elevate the soul gradually to God, it transports it by one impulse as it were into the Divine nature. The Christian goes straight to God by Faith. The Imagination, Reason, and Contemplation of the Neoplatonists, i. e. the three movements of the soul which correspond to their lower "trinity" of Nature, Soul, Intelligence, are no 1onger necessary. There is an antipathy profound between the two systems; How then could the one be said to influence the other? Neoplatonism may have tinged Christianity, while it was still seeking for language in which to express its inner self: but it never influenced the intrinsically moral character of the Christian Creeds. The Alexandrine philosophy is all metaphysics, and its rock was pantheism; all, even matter, proceeds from God necessarily and eternally. The Church never hesitated: she saw the abyss that opens upon that path; and by severe decrees she has closed the way to pantheism.

12 will not fail to perform; mh anenerghton einai. This is a favourite word with Gregory, and the Platonist Synesius.

13 goodness. "God is love;" but how is this love above or equal to the Power? "Infinite Goodness, according to our apprehensign, requires that it should exhaust omnipotence: that it should give capacities of enjoyment and confer blessings until there were no more to be conferred: but our idea of omnipotence requires that it should be inexhaustible; that nothing should limit its operation, so that it should do no more than it has done. Therefore, it is much easier to conceive an imperfect creature completely good, than a perfect Being who is so. ...Since, then, we find our understanding incapable of comprehending infinite goodness joined with infinite power, we need not be surprised at finding our thoughts perplexed concerning them ...we may presume that the obscurity rises from something wrong in our ideas, not from any inconsistencies in the subjects themselves." Abraham Tucker, L. of N., i. 355.

14 by the higher mystical ascent, anagwgikwj. The common reading was analogikwj, which Hervetus and Morell have translated. But Krabinger, from all his Codd. but one, has rightly restored anagwgikwj. It is not "analogy," but rather "induction," that is here meant; i. e. the arguing from the known to the unknown, from the facts of human nature (ta kaq' hmaj) to those of the Godhead, or from history to spiritual events. 'Anagwgh is the chief instrument in Origen's interpretation of the Bible; it is more important than allegory. It alone gives the "heavenly" meaning, as opposed to the moral and practical though still mystical (cf. Guericke, Hist. Schol. Catech. ii. p. 60) meaning. Speaking of the Tower of Babel, he says that there is a "riddle" in the account. "A competent exposition will have a more convenient season for dealing with this, when there is a direct necessity to explain the passage in its higher mystical meaning" (c. Cels. iv. p. 173). Gregory imitates his master in constantly thus dealing with the Old Testament, i. e. making inductions about the highest spiritual truths from the "history." So Basil would treat the prophecies (in Isai. v. p. 948). Chrysostom, on the Songs of "Degrees" in the Psalms, says that they are so called because they speak of the going up from Babylon, according to history; but, according to their high mysticism, because they lift us into the way of excellence. Here Gregory uses the facts of human nature neither in the way of mere analogy nor of allegory: he argues straight from them, as one reality, to another reality almost of the same class, as it were, as the first, man being "in the image of God"; and so anagwgh here comes nearer induction than anything else.

15 kaq' upostasin. Ueberweg (Hist. of Philosophy, vol. i. 329) remarks: "That the same argumentation, which in the last analysis reposes only on the double sense of upostasij (viz. : (a) real subsistence; (b) individually independent, not attributive subsistence), could be used with reference to each of the Divine attributes, and so for the complete restoration of polytheism, Gregory leaves unnoticed." Yet Gregory doubtless was well aware of this, for he says, just below, that even a severe study of the mystery can only result in a moderate amount of apprehension of it.

16 it is separate as to personality yet is not divided as to subject matter. The words are respectively upostasij and upokeimenon. The last word is with Gregory, whose clearness in philosophical distinctions makes his use of words very observable, always equivalent to ousia, and ousia generally to fusij. The following note of Casaubon (Epist. ad Eustath.) is valuable: In the Holy. Trinity there is neither "confusion," nor "composition," nor "coalescing"; neither the Sabellian "contraction," any more than the Arian "division," neither on the other hand "estrangement," or "difference." There is "distinction" or "distribution" without division. This word "distribution" is used by Tertullian and others to express the effect of the "persons" (idiothtej, upostaseij, proswpa) upon the Godhead which forms the definition of the substance (o thj ousiaj logoj).

17 i. e. as with the Greek.

18 Ps. xxxiii. 4, Septuagint version.

19 innate ideas (koinwn ennoiwn). There is a Treatise of Gregory introducing Christianity to the Greeks "from innate ideas." This title has been, wrongly, attributed by some to a later hand.

20 Cf. Cato's Speech in Addison's Cato:-

It must be so; Plato, thou reasonest well!-

Else whence this pleasing hope, this fond desire

This longing after immortality?

'Tis the divinity that stirs within us;

'Tis heaven itself that points out an hereafter,

And intimates eternity to man.

21 Gen i. 27.

22 S. James i. 15: h epiqumia tiktei ...amartian.

23 to kalon. The Greek word for moral perfection, according to one view of its derivation (kaiein), refers to "brightness"; according to another (cf. kekadmenoj), to "finish" or perfection.