Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 10: 30.01.29 Christian Faith Book I Pt 2

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Church Fathers: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 10: 30.01.29 Christian Faith Book I Pt 2

TOPIC: Post-Nicene Fathers Vol 10 (Other Topics in this Collection)
SUBJECT: 30.01.29 Christian Faith Book I Pt 2

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Chapter VI.

By way of leading up to his proof that Christ is not different from the Father, St. Ambrose cites the more famous leaders of the Arian party, and explains how little their witness agrees, and shows what defence the Scriptures provide against them.

43. The Arians, then, say that Christ is unlike the Father; we deny it. Nay, indeed, we shrink in dread from the word. Nevertheless I would not that your sacred Majesty should trust to argument and our disputation. Let us enquire of the Scriptures, of apostles, of prophets, of Christ. In a word, let us enquire of the Father, Whose honour these men say they uphold, if the Son be judged inferior to Him. But insult to the Son brings no honour to the good Father. It cannot please the good Father, if the Son be judged inferior, rather than equal, to His Father.

44. I pray your sacred Majesty to suffer me, if for a little while I address myself particularly to these men. But whom shall I choose out to cite? Eunomius?hyperlink or Arius and Aetius,hyperlink his instructors? For there are many names, but one unbelief, constant in wickedness, but in conversation divided against itself; without difference in respect of deceit, but in common enterprise breeding dissent. But wherefore they will not agree together I understand not.

45. The Arians reject the person of Eunomius, but they maintain his unbelief and walk in the ways of his iniquity. They say that he has too generously published the writings of Arius. Truly, a plentiful lavishing of error! They praise him who gave the command, and deny him who executed it! Wherefore they have now fallen apart into several sects. Some follow after Eunomius or Aëtius, others after Palladius or Demophilus and Auxentius, or the inheritors of this form of unbelief.hyperlink Others, again, follow different teachers. Is Christ, then, divided?hyperlink Nay; but those who divide Him from the Father do with their own hands cut themselves asunder.

46. Seeing, therefore, that men who agree not amongst themselves have all alike conspired against the Church of God, I shall call those whom I have to answer by the common name of heretics. For heresy, like some hydra of fable, hath waxed great from its wounds, and, being ofttimes lopped short, hath grown afresh, being appointed to find meet destruction in flames of fire.hyperlink Or, like some dread and monstrous Scylla, divided into many shapes of unbelief, she displays, as a mask to her guile, the pretence of being a Christian sect, but those wretched men whom she finds tossed to and fro in the waves of her unhallowed strait, amid the wreckage of their faith, she, girt with beastly monsters, rends with the cruel fang of her blasphemous doctrine.hyperlink

47. This monster's cavern, your sacred Majesty, thick laid, as seafaring men do say it is, with hidden lairs, and all the neighbourhood thereof, where the rocks of unbelief echo to the howling of her black dogs, we must pass by with ears in a manner stopped. For it is written: "Hedge thine ears about with thorns;"hyperlink and again: "Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers;"hyperlink and yet again: "A man that is an heretic, avoid after the first reproof, knowing that such an one is fallen, and is in sin, being condemned of his own judgment."hyperlink So then, like prudent pilots, let us set the sails of our faith for the course wherein we may pass by most safely, and again follow the coasts of the Scriptures.hyperlink

Chapter VII.

The likeness of Christ to the Father is asserted on the authority of St. Paul, the prophets, and the Gospel, and especially in reliance upon the creation of man in God's image.

48. The Apostle saith that Christ is the image of the Father-for he calls Him the image of the invisible God, the first-begotten of all creation. First-begotten, mark you, not first-created, in order that He may be believed to be both begotten, in virtue of His nature,hyperlink and first in virtue of His eternity. In another place also the Apostle has declared that God made the Son "heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds, Who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His substance."hyperlink The Apostle calls Christ the image of the Father, and Arius says that He is unlike the Father. Why, then, is He called an image, if He hath no likeness? Men will not have their portraits unlike them, and Arius contends that the Father is unlike the Son, and would have it that the Father has begotten one unlike Himself, as though unable to generate His like.

49. The prophets say: "In Thy light we shall see light;"hyperlink and again: "Wisdom is the brightness of everlasting light, and the spotless mirror of God's majesty, the image of His goodness."hyperlink See what great names are declared! "Brightness," because in the Son the Father's glory shines clearly: "spotless minor," because the Father is seen in the Son:hyperlink "image of goodness," because it is not one body seen reflected in another, but the whole power [of the Godhead] in the Son. The word "image" teaches us that there is no difference; "expression," that He is the counterpart of the Father's form; and "brightness" declares His eternity.hyperlink The "image" in truth is not that of a bodily countenance, not one made up of colours, nor modelled in wax, but simply derived from God, coming out from the Father, drawn from the fountainhead.

50. By means of this image the Lord showed Philip the Father, saying, "Philip, he that sees Me, sees the Father also. How then dost thou say, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?"hyperlink Yes, he who looks upon the Son sees, in portrait, the Father.hyperlink Mark what manner of portrait is spoken of. It is Truth, Righteousness, the Power of God:hyperlink not dumb, for it is the Word; not insensible, for it is Wisdom; not vain and foolish, for it is Power; not soulless, for it is the Life; not dead, for it is the Resurrection.hyperlink You see, then, that whilst an image is spoken of, the meaning is that it is the Father, Whose image the Son is, seeing that no one can be his own image.

51. More might I set down from the Son's testimony; howbeit, lest He perchance appear to have asserted Himself overmuch, let us enquire of the Father. For the Father said, "Let us make man in Our image and likeness."hyperlink The Father saith to the Son "in Our image and likeness," and thou sayest that the Son of God is unlike the Father.

52. John saith, "Beloved, we are sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: we know that if He be revealed, we shall be like Him."hyperlink O blind madness! O shameless obstinacy! We are men, and, so far as we may, we shall be in the likeness of God: dare we deny that the Son is like God?

53. Therefore the Father hath said: "Let us make man in Our image and likeness." At the beginning of the universe itself, as I read, the Father and the Son existed, and I see one creation. I hear Him that speaketh.hyperlink I acknowledge Him that doeth:hyperlink but it is of one image, one likeness, that I read. This likeness belongs not to diversity but to unity. What, therefore, thou claimest for thyself, thou takest from the Son of God, seeing, indeed, that thou canst not be in the image of God, save by help of the image of God.

Chapter VIII.

The likeness of the Son to the Father being proved, it is not hard to prove the Son's eternity, though, indeed, this may be established on the authority of the Prophet Isaiah and St. John the Evangelist, by which authority the heretical leaders are shown to be refuted.

54. It is plain, therefore, that the Son is not unlike the Father, and so we may confess the more readily that He is also eternal, seeing that He Who is like the Eternal must needs be eternal. But if we say that the Father is eternal, and yet deny this of the Son, we say that the Son is unlike the Father, for the temporal differeth from the eternal. The Prophet proclaims Him eternal, and the Apostle proclaims Him eternal; the Testaments, Old and New alike, are full of witness to the Son's eternity.

55. Let us take them, then, in their order. In the Old Testament-to cite one out of a multitude of testimonies-it is written: "Before Me hath there been no other God, and after Me shall there be none."hyperlink I will not comment on this place, but ask thee straight: "Who speaks these words,-the Father or the Son?" Whichever of the two thou sayest, thou wilt find thyself convinced, or, if a believer, instructed. Who, then, speaks these words, the Father or the Son? If it is the Son, He says, "Before Me hath there been no other God;" if the Father, He says, "After Me shall there be none." The One hath none before Him, the Other none that comes after; as the Father is known in the Son, so also is the Son known in the Father, for whensoever you speak of the Father, you speak also by implication of His Son, seeing that none is his own father; and when you name the Son, you do also acknowledge His Father, inasmuch as none can be his own son. And so neither can the Son exist without the Father, nor the Father without the Son.hyperlink The Father, therefore, is eternal, and the Son also eternal.

56. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God."hyperlink "Was," mark you, "with God." "Was"-see, we have "was" four times over. Where did the blasphemer find it written that He "was not." Again, John, in another passage-in his Epistle-speaketh of "That which was in the beginning."hyperlink The extension of the "was" is infinite. Conceive any length of time you will, yet still the Son "was."hyperlink

57. Now in this short passage our fisherman hath barred the way of all heresy. For that which was "in the beginning" is not comprehended in time, is not preceded by any beginning. Let Arius, therefore, hold his peace.hyperlink Moreover, that which was "with God" is not confounded and mingled with Him, but is distinguished by the perfection unblemished which it hath as the Word abiding with God; and so let Sabellius keep silence.hyperlink And "the Word was God," This Word, therefore, consisteth not in uttered speech, but in the designation of celestial excellence, so that Photinus' teaching is refuted. Furthermore, by the fact that in the beginning He was with God is proven the indivisible unity of eternal Godhead in Father and Son, to the shame and confusion of Eunomius.hyperlink Lastly, seeing that all things are said to have been made by Him, He is plainly shown to be author of the Old and of the New Testament alike; so that the Manichaean can find no ground for his assaults.hyperlink Thus hath the good fisherman caught them all in one net, to make them powerless to deceive, albeit unprofitable fish to take.

Chapter IX.

St. Ambrose questions the heretics and exhibits their answer, which is, that the Son existed, indeed, before all time, yet was not co-eternal with the Father, whereat the Saint shows that they represent the Godhead as changeable, and further, that each Person must be believed to be eternal.

58. Tell me, thou heretic,-for the surpassing clemency of the Emperor grants me this indulgence of addressing thee for a short space, not that I desire to confer with thee, or am greedy to hear thy arguments, but because I am willing to exhibit them,-tell me, I say, whether there was ever a time when God Almighty was not the Father, and yet was God. "I say nothing about time," is thy answer. Well and subtly objected! For if thou bringest time into the dispute, thou wilt condemn thyself, seeing that thou must acknowledge that there was a time when the Son was not, whereas the Son is the ruler and creator of time.hyperlink He cannot have begun to exist after His own work. Thou, therefore, must needs allow Him to be the ruler and maker of His work.

59. "I do not say," answerest thou, "that the Son existed not before time;" but when I call Him "Son," I declare that His Father existed before Him, for, as you say, father exists before son."hyperlink But what means this? Thou deniest that time was before the Son, and yet thou wilt have it that something preceded the existence of the Son-some creature of time,-and thou showest certain stages of generation intervening, whereby thou dost give us to understand that the generation from the Father was a process in time. For if He began to be a Father, then, in the first instance, He was God, and afterwards He became a Father. How, then, is God unchangeable?hyperlink For if He was first God, and then the Father, surely He has undergone change by reason of the added and later act of generation.

60. But may God preserve us from this madness; for it was but to confute the impiety of the heretics that we brought in this question. The devout spirit affirms a generation that is not in time, and so declares Father and Son to be co-eternal, and does not maintain that God has ever suffered change.

61. Let Father and Son, therefore, be associated in worship, even as They are associated in Godhead; let not blasphemy put asunder those whom the close bond of generation hath joined together. Let us honour the Son, that we may honour the Father also, as it is written in the Gospel.hyperlink The Son's eternity is the adornment of the Father's majesty. If the Son hath not been from everlasting, then the Father hath suffered change; but the Son is from all eternity, therefore hath the Father never changed, for He is always unchangeable. And thus we see that they who would deny the Son's eternity would teach that the Father is mutable.

Chapter X.

Christ's eternity being proved from the Apostle's teaching, St. Ambrose admonishes us that the Divine Generation is not to be thought of after the fashion of human procreation, nor to be too curiously pried into. With the difficulties thence arising he refuses to deal, saying that whats ever terms, taken from our knowledge of body, are used in speaking of this Divine Generation, must be understood with a spiritual meaning.

65. Hear now another argument, showing clearly the eternity of the Son. The Apostle says that God's Power and Godhead are eternal, and that Christ is the Power of God-for it is written that Christ is "the Power of God and the Wisdom of God."hyperlink If, then, Christ is the Power of God, it follows that, forasmuch as God's Power is eternal, Christ also is eternal.

63. Thou canst not, then, heretic, build up a false doctrine from the custom of human procreation, nor yet gather the wherewithal for such work from our discourse, for we cannot compass the greatness of infinite Godhead, "of Whose greatness there is no end,"hyperlink in our straitened speech. If thou shouldst seek to give an account of a man's birth, thou must needs point to a time. But the Divine Generation is above all things; it reaches far and wide, it rises high above all thought and feeling. For it is written: "No man cometh to the Father, save by Me."hyperlink Whatsoever, therefore, thou dost conceive concerning the Father-yea, be it even His eternity-thou canst not conceive aught concerning Him save by the Son's aid, nor can any understanding ascend to the Father save through the Son. "This is My dearly-beloved Son,"hyperlink the Father saith. "Is" mark you-He Who is, what He is, forever. Hence also David is moved to say: "O Lord, Thy Word abideth for ever in heaven,"hyperlink -for what abideth fails neither in existence nor in eternity.

64. Dost thou ask me how He is a Son, if He have not a Father existing before Him? I ask of thee, in turn, when, or how, thinkest thou that the Son was begotten. For me the knowledge of the mystery of His generation is more than I can attain to,hyperlink -the mind fails, the voice is dumb-ay, and not mine alone, but the angels' also. It is above Powers, above Angels, above Cherubim, Seraphim, and all that has feeling and thought, for it is written: "The peace of Christ, which passeth all understanding."hyperlink If the peace of Christ passes all understanding, how can so wondrous a generation but be above all understanding?

65. Do thou, then (like the angels), cover thy face with thy hands,hyperlink for it is not given thee to look into surpassing mysteries! We are suffered to know that the Son is begotten, not to dispute upon the manner of His begetting. I cannot deny the one; the other I fear to search into, for if Paul says that the words which he heard when caught up into the third heaven might not be uttered,hyperlink how can we explain the secret of this generation from and of the Father, which we can neither hear nor attain to with our understanding?

66. But if you will constrain me to the rule of human generation, that you may be allowed to say that the Father existed before the Son, then consider whether instances, taken from the generation of earthly creatures, are suitable to show forth the Divine Generation.hyperlink If we speak according to what is customary amongst men, you cannot deny that, in man, the changes in the father's existence happen before those in the son's. The father is the first to grow, to enter old age, to grieve, to weep. If, then, the son is after him in time, he is older in experience than the son. If the child comes to be born, the parent escapes not the shame of begetting.hyperlink

67. Why take such delight in that rack of questioning?hyperlink You hear the name of the Son of God; abolish it, then, or acknowledge His true nature. You hear speak of the womb-acknowledge the truth of undoubted begetting.hyperlink Of His heart-know that here is God's word.hyperlink Of H is right hand-confess His power.hyperlink Of His face-acknowledge His wisdom.hyperlink These words are not to be understood, when we speak of God, as when we speak of bodies. The generation of the Son is incomprehensible, the Father begets impassibly,hyperlink and yet of Himself and in ages inconceivably remote hath very God begotten very God. The Father loves the Son,hyperlink and you anxiously examine His Person; the Father is well. pleased in Him,hyperlink you, joining the Jews, look upon Him with an evil eye; the Father knows the Son,hyperlink and you join the heathen in reviling Him.hyperlink

Chapter XI.

It cannot be proved from Scripture that the Father existed before the Son, nor yet can arguments taken from human reproduction avail to this end, since they bring in absurdities without end. To dare to affirm that Christ began to exist in the course of time is the height of blasphemy.

68. You ask me whether it is possible that He Who is the Father should not be prior in existence. I ask you to tell me when the Father existed, the Son as yet being not; prove this, gather it from argument or evidence of Scripture. If you lean upon arguments, you have doubtless been taught that God's power is eternal. Again, you have read the Scripture that saith: "O Israel, if thou wilt hearken unto Me, there shall be no new God in thee, neither shalt thou worship a strange God."hyperlink The first of these commands betokens [the Son's] eternity, the second His possession of an identical nature, so that we can neither believe Him to have come into existence after the Father, nor suppose Him the Son of another Divinity. For if He existed not always with the Father, He is a "new" [God]; if He is not of one Divinity with the Father, He is a "strange" [God]. But He is not after the Father, for He is not "a new God;" nor is He "a strange God," for He is begotten of the Father, and because, as it is written, He is "God above all, blessed for ever."hyperlink

69. But if the Arians believe Him to be a strange God, why do they worship Him, when it is written: "Thou shalt worship no strange God"? Else, if they do not worship the Son, let them confess thereto, and the case is at an end,-that they deceive no one by their professions of religion. This, then, we see, is the witness of the Scriptures. If you have any others to produce, it will be your business to do so.

70. Let us now go further, and gather the truth in conclusion from arguments. For although arguments usually give place, even to human evidence,hyperlink still, heretic, argue as thou wilt. "Experience teaches us," you say, "that the being which generates is prior to that which is generated." I answer: Follow our customary experience through all its departments, and if the rest agree herewith, I oppose not your claim that your point be granted; but if there be no such agreement, how can you claim assent on this one point, when in all the rest you lack support? Seeing, then, that you call for what is customary, it comes about that the Son, when He was begotten of the Father, was a little child. You have seen Him an infant, crying in the cradle. As the years passed, He has gone forward from strength to strength-for if He was weak with the weakness of things begotten, He must also have fallen under the weakness, not only of birth, but of life also.

71. But perchance you run to such a pitch of folly as not to flinch from asserting these things of the Son of God, measuring Him, as you do, by the rule of human infirmity. What, then, if, while you cannot refuse Him the name of God, you are bent to prove Him, by reason of weakness, to be a man? What if, whilst you examine the Person of the Son, you are calling the Father in question, and whilst you hastily pass sentence upon the Former, you include the Latter in the same condemnation!

72. If the Divine Generation has been subject to the limits of time,-if we suppose this, borrowing from the custom of human generation, then it follows, further, that the Father bare the Son in a bodily womb, and laboured under the burden whilst ten months sped their courses. But how can generation, as it commonly takes place, be brought about without the help of the other sex? You see that the common order of generation was not the commencement, and you think that the courses of generation, which are ruled by certain necessities whereunto bodies are subject, have always prevailed. You require the customary course, I ask for difference of sex: you demand the supposition of time, I that of order: you enquire into the end, I into the beginning. Now surely it is the end that depends on the beginning, not the beginning on the end.

73. "Everything," say you, "that is begotten has a beginning, and therefore because the Son is the Son, He has a beginning, and came first into existence within limits of time. Let this be taken as the word of their own mouth; as for myself, I confess that the Son is begotten, but the rest of their declaration makes me shudder. Man, dost thou confess God, and diminish His honour by such slander? From this madness may God deliver us.

Chapter XII.

Further objections to the Godhead of the Son are met by the same answer-to wit, that they may equally be urged against the Father also. The Father, then, being in no way confined by time, place, or anything else created, no such limitation is to be imposed upon the Son, Whose marvellous generation is not only of the Father, but of the Virgin also, and therefore, since in His generation of the Father no distinction of sex, or the like, was involved, neither was it in His generation of the Virgin.

74. The next objection is this: "If the Son has not those properties which all sons have, He is no Son." May Father, Son, and Holy Spirit pardon me, for I would propound the question in all devoutness. Surely the Father is, and abides for ever: created things, too, are as God hath ordained them. Is there any one, then, amongst these creatures which is not subject to the limitations of place, time, or the fact of having been created, or to some originating cause or creator,hyperlink Surely, none. What, then?Is there any one of them whereof the Father stands in need? So to say were blasphemy. Cease, then, to apply to the Godhead what is proper only to created existences, or, if you insist upon forcing the comparison, bethink you whither your wickedness leads. God forbid that we should even behold the end thereof.

75. We maintain the answer given by piety. God is Almighty, and therefore God the Father needs none of those things, for in Him there is no changing, nor any place for such help as we need, we whose weakness is supported by means of things of this kind. But He Who is Almighty, plainly He is uncreate, and not confined to any place, and surpasses time. Before God was not anything-nay, even to speak about anything being before God is a grave sin. If, then, you grant that in the nature of God the Father there is nought that implies a being sustained, because He is God, it follows that nothing of this sort can be supposed to exist in the Son of God, nothing that connotes a beginning, or growth, forasmuch as He is "very God of very God."hyperlink

76. Seeing, then, that we find not the customary order prevailing, be content, Arian, to believe in a miraculous generation of the Son. Be content, I say, and if you believe me not, at least have respect unto the voice of God saying, "To whom have ye esteemed Me to be like?"hyperlink and again: "God is not like a man that He should repent."hyperlink If, indeed, God works mysteriously, seeing that He doth not work any work, or fashion anything, or bring it to completion, by labor of hands, or in any course of days, "for He spake, and they were made; He gave the word and they were created,"hyperlink why should we not believe that He Whom we acknowledge as a Creator, mysteriously working, discerning it in His works, also begat His Son in a mysterious manner? Surely it is fitting that He should be regarded as having begotten the Son in a special and mysterious way. Let Him Who hath the grace of majesty unrivalled likewise have the glory of mysterious generation.

77. Not only Christ's generation of the Father, but His birth also of the Virgin, demands our wonder. You say that the former is like unto the manner wherein we men are conceived. I will show-nay more, I will compel you yourself to confess, that the latter also hath no likeness to the manner of our birth. Tell me how it was that He was born of Mary, with what law did His conception in a Virgin's womb agree, how there could be any birth without the seed of a man, how a maiden could become great with child, how she became a mother before experience of such intercourse as is between wives and husbands. There was no [visible] cause,-and yet a son was begotten. How, then, came about this birth, under a new law?

78. If, then, the common order of human generation was not found in the case of the Virgin Mary, how can you demand that God the Father should beget in such wise as you were begotten in? Surely the common order is determined by difference of sex; for this is implanted in the nature of our flesh, but where flesh is not, how can you expect to find the infirmity of flesh? No man calls in question one who is better than he is: to believe is enjoined upon you, without permission to question. For it is written, "Abraham believed God, and it was accounted to him for righteousness."hyperlink Language is vain to set forth, not only the generation of the Son, but even the works of God, for it is written: "All His works are executed in faithfulness;"hyperlink His works, then, are done in faithfulness, but not His generation? Ay, we call in question that which we see not, we who are bidden to believe rather than enquire of that we see.


91 Eunomius, at one time Bishop of Cyzicus, came into prominence about 355 a.d. Like Arius, he taught that the Son was a creature, though the first and most perfect of God's creatures; His office being to guide other creatures to knowledge of the source of their existence. Religion then in his view consisted in a right and complete intellectual apprehension of a metaphysical principle, and no more. The generation of the Son he regarded as an event in time, not supra-temporal. The point where Eunomius went beyond Arius was the assertion of the comprehensibility for the human mind of the Divine Essence. Those, he said, who declared God to be in His Essence incomprehensible, who taught that He could only know in part and by token, preached an unknown God, and denied all possible knowledge of God, and therefore, since without knowledge of God there could be no Christianity, did not even deserve the name of Christians.

92 Aëtius was Eunomius' teacher. He became Bishop of Antioch, the see of which was secured for him by the Arian Eudoxius, who obtained Cyzicus for Eunomius. Aetius and Eunomius were, however, deposed about a.d. 360.

93 Demophilus was Bishop of Constantinople under Valens (d. 378 a.d.), but on the accession of Theodosius the Great lie was compelled to resign the see, which was given to Gregory of Nazianzus.

94 1 Cor. i. 13.

95 Hercules found it impossible to slay the Hydro (a monster water snake) of the Lernean marshes by merely striking off its head, inasmuch as whenever one was cut off, two immediately grew in its place. He was compelled to sear the wound with fire. One of the heads was immortal, and Hercules could only dispose of it by crushing it under a huge rock.

96 For Scylla and Charybdis, see Homer, Odyss. XI.; Virgil, Aen. III. 424 f. The strait, bestrewed with wreckage of the faith (1 Tim. i. 19) corresponds to the strait between the rock of Scylla and the whirlpool Charybdis. In order to avoid the latter, mariners were compelled to pass close under the former, whereupon the monster darted out and seized them, dragging them out of a ship as an angler whips a fish out of water (Odyss. XI. 251-255). The language of this passage shows plainly that St. Ambrose, in writing it, drew freely upon Virgil.

97 Ecclus. xxviii. 28.

98 Phil. iii. 2.

99 Tit. iii. 10, Tit. iii. 11.

100 Virgil, Aen. III. 692 f. (Aeneas' coast-voyage routed Sicily).

101 i. e., of His Sonship. St. Ambrose refers to Col. i. 15.

102 Heb. i. 2.

103 Ps. xxxvi. 9.

104 Wis. vii. 26.

105 Cf. S. John xii. 45.

106 The brightness or effulgence of a body lasts as long as that body exists; seeing, then, that the Father is eternal, the Son, Who is His brightness, must be eternal also (H.).

107 S. John xiv. 9-10.

108 Or "He who beholds the Father in the Son, beholds Him in a portrait."

109 Christ the Truth: S. John xiv. 6. Righteousness: Jer. xxxiii. 16; Jer. xxiii. 6; 1 Cor. i. 30. Power of God: 1 Cor. i. 24.

110 Christ the Word: S. John i. 1-18. Wisdom: 1 Cor. i. 24, 30. Lift and Resurrection: S. John xi. 25.

111 Gen. i. 26.

112 2 John iii. 2.

113 The Father.

114 The Son.

115 Is. xliii. 10.

116 This holds good also of human fatherhood and sonship. The terms of a relation involve each the existence of the other-no father, no son, and equally, no son, no father.

117 S. John i. 1 f. St. Ambrose notices especially the quadruple "was" as unmistakably signifying the Son's eternity. We may also notice the climax "The Word was in the beginning. ...was with God . ...was God."

118 1 John i. 1.

119 Hurter cites similar passages from the Fathers of the Church, proving the Son's pre-existence and eternity. "What is the force of those words `In the beginning

0'? Centuries are o'erleaped, ages are swallowed up. Take any beginning you will, yet you cannot include it in time, for that, whence time is reckoned, already was."-Hilary.

"Although the word `was

0' contains the notion of time past, frequently with a beginning, here it must be understood without the thought of a beginning, inasmuch as the text runs `was in the beginning.


If we render the Greek en arxh and the Latin in principio by "at the beginning," in place of the phrase used in the A. V. "in the beginning," we shall perhaps better apprehend its full force and understand these Patristic interpretations.

Other passages cited by Hurter are:

"Thought cannot escape the dominion of the word `was,

0' nor can the imagination pass beyond the `beginning,

0' for however far back you press in thought, you find no point where the `was

0' ceases to hold away, and however diligently you set yourself to see what is beyond the Son, you will not any the more be able to get to aught above the beginning."-Basil.

"For this which was, without any beginning of existence, was truly at the beginning, for if it had begun to be, it would not have been `at the beginning,

0' whereas that in which absolute existence without beginning is essential, is truly spoken of as existing `at the beginning.

0' And so the Evangelist in saying `In the beginning was the Word

0' said much the same as if he had said `The Word was in eternity.


"If the Word Was, the Word was not made: if the Word was made, He was not" [absolutely existent]. "But since He `was

0' He was not made: for whatsoever already is and subsists and so is `in the beginning

0' cannot be said to become or to have been made."-Cyril.

"Nothing before a beginning, so the beginning be one really and truly, for of a beginning there can in no way be any beginning, and if anything else before it is supposed or arises, it ceases to be a true beginning.

"If the Word was `in the beginning,

0' what mind, I would ask, can prevail against the power of that verb `was

0'? When, indeed, will that verb find its limit, and there, as it were, come to a halt, seeing that it even eludes the pursuit of thought and outstrips the fleetness of the mind."-Cyril.

120 The Arian teaching concerning the Son was-hn pote ote ouk hn.'' "There was a time when He was not." This, St. Ambrose says, is irreconcilable with St. John's en arxh hn o logoj. "The Word was `in

0' or `at the beginning.


121 Sabellianism reduced the distinction of three Persons in the Godhead to a distinction of several aspects of the same Person. They did not "divide the substance," but they "confounded the Persons."

122 Non in prolatione sermonis hoc Verbum est. That is to say, the Divine Word or Logos was not such in the sense of logoj proforikoj-i.e. uttered spoken word, and so a creature, but rather in the sense of logoj endiaqetoj-the inherent eternal object of the Divine Consciousness.

Cf. Eunomius (v. s. §44), was a leading Arian teacher. The argument levelled against him here would also have been fitly directed against Arius himself.

123 The heresy of Manes or Maul made its first appearance in Persia, in the reign of Shapur I. (240-272 a.d.). According to the Persian historian Mirkhond, Mani was a member of an ancient priestly house which had preserved the holy fire and the religion of Zoroaster during the dark age of Parthian domination. He attracted the notice of Shapur by pretensions to visions and prophetic powers, and sought to establish himself as another Daniel at the Persian Court. When the king, however, discovered Mani's hostility to the established Zoroastrianism and the Magian hierarchy, the prophet was obliged to flee. Northern India appears to have been Mani's refuge for a season, and thence, after some years of retirement, he reappeared, with an illustrated edition of his doctrines, composed and executed, as he said, by divine hands. Shapur was now dead and his successor Hormuz (272-274) was favourably disposed to Mani. But Hormuz only reigned two years, and was succeeded by a king who was a sworn foe to the new doctrine. Mani was challenged to a public disputation by the Magi. The king presided, so that Mani doubtless knew from the first what the issue would be. He was rayed alive, but he left numerous converts, and his death, which cast a certain halo of martyrdom around him, and their sufferings in persecution, really proved-as in the case of Christianity-conducive to the spread of Manichaean doctrine. The fundamental principle of Mani's system was Dualism-the opposition of mind and matter, and the hypothesis of two co-eternal co-existent powers of good and of evil. In opposition to the Divine Essence, the Good Principle, was placed uncreated Evil, and thus the problem of sin and evil was solved. The purposes of creation and redemption were, in the Manichaean view, entirely self-seeking on the part of the Deity. The world was created by God, not out of free love, but out of the wish to protect Himself against evil, embodied in matter, which in its essence is chaotic. Redemption was the rescue of particles of the ethereal Light, buried amidst the gross darkness of matter, and yet leavening and informing it. Christ was identified with the Divine Principle and the sufferings of His members, the particles of divine Light buried in matter, were the Crucifixion, thus represented as an age-long agony. Jesus Christ was "crucified in the whole world." Mani adopted the story of Eden, but he represented the eating of the fruit of the tree of knowledge not as the cause of Man's fall, but as the first step in redemption, for Jehovah, the God of the Old Testament, was not the true God, but the evil Demon, from whose tyranny man had to be rescued. In order to attain salvation, the body, material and therefore essentially evil, must be mortified and starved. Man really fell when Eve tempted him to indulge fleshly lust, not when he ate the forbidden fruit. The stricter sort of the Manichaeans practised a severe asceticism, abstaining from flesh meat and marriage. They would not even grind corn or make bread, for in grain there was life-i.e. an emanation of the Divine Light-though they would eat bread, quieting their conscience, however, by saying before they took it, "It was not I who reaped or ground the corn to make this bread." At the end of time they held the world was to be destroyed by fire, but matter being, on the Manichaean hypothesis, eternal, the proper inference appears to be that the conflict of Light and Chaotic Darkness would recommence, and proceed usque ad infinitum. The Manichaean system was a strange eclectic farrago, embodying, in chimerical monstrosity, features of Zoroastrianism, Judaism (in so far as the story of Eden was taken over), Gnosticism (appearing in the theory that Jehovah was the Demon and that the eating of forbidden fruit did not cause the Fall), Christianity, and Pantheism (the last, doubtless, an importation from Hindostan). The disciples of the school made their way into the Roman Empire, and we find them, 150 years after the death of Mani, opposed by Augustine of Hippo, who indeed had at one time actually numbered himself amongst them.

124 Time. We should take this term in its fullest meaning, as signifying all that exists in time-the created universe, and all that therein has been, and is, and is to come.

125 The Arians fell into the popular error of supposing that a father, as a father, existed before his son. They also required men to apply to Divine Persons, what only holds good of human beings-to impose on the Being of God those limits to which human existences (as objective facts) are subjected. The existence of the Divine Father and the Divine Son is without, beyond, above time-with the Godhead there is neither past nor future, but an everlasting present. But with man, time-categories are necessary forms of thought-everything is seen as past, present, or to come-and to the human consciousness all objects are presented in time, though the spiritual principle in man which perceives objects as related in succession, is itself supra-temporal, beholding succession, but not itself in succession.

Now it can hardly be denied with any show of reason that a man is not a father until his son begins to exist, is born, though the father, as a person distinct from his son, is in existence before the latter. Again, father and son must be of the same nature-they must both possess the elementary, essential attributes of humanity. Otherwise there is no fatherhood no sonship, properly speaking.

God has revealed Himself as a Father-even in the pagan mythologies we see the idea of Fatherhood implicit in Godhead. If the gods of the heathen did not beget after their kind, they begat heroes and demigods. But created existences cannot claim to be the first and proper object of the Divine Father's love. They are for a time only, and with them Eternal Love could not be satisfied. If God be a true Father, then, He must beget His Like-His Son must be equal to Him in nature, that is, what is true of the Father, what is essential in the Father, as God, must be true or essential in the Son also. Therefore the son must be divine, eternal. But the generation (gennhsij) of the Son is not an event in time. It is a fact, a truth, out of, beyond time, belonging to the divine and eternal and spiritual, not to the temporal and created, order. "To whom amongst the angels does He ever say, Thou art My Son; this day have I begotten Thee? and again, I will be a Father to Him, and He shall be a Son to Me? when, again, He brings His first-be-gotten into the world" (i.e., reveals Him to the created universe as its King), He says: "And let all God's angels worship Him" (Heb. i. 5-6). Since the Divine Son, then, is eternal, even as the Divine Father, the one cannot be before or after the other; the two Persons are co-existent, co-eternal, co-equal. And the mysterious genesis, also, is not an event that happened once, taking place in a series of events, it is ever happening, it is always and for ever.

126 i.e., how do you deal with such Scriptures as "Thou art the same, and thy years shall not fail."-"I am the Lord: I change not, therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."-"The Father of lights, with Whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

127 S. John v. 23.

128 Rom. i. 20-"His eternal power and Godhead." 1 Cor. i. 23-24-"We preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling-block and to the Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are called, and to none other, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God."

129 Ps. cxlv. 3.

130 S. John xiv. 6.

131 S. Matt. xvii. 5; S. Mark ix. 7; S. Luke ix. 35.

132 Ps. cxix. 89.

133 Ps. cxxxix. 5.

134 Phil. iv. 7. The better-known version "The peace of God" is supported by stronger ms. authority.

135 Cf. Is. vi. 2; Exod. iii 6. But perhaps the reference is to Job xxxi. 26-28-"If I beheld the sun when it shined, or the moon walking in brightness, and my heart hath been secretly enticed, and my mouth hath kissed my hand, this also were an iniquity to be punished by the judge, for I should have denied the God that is above." Another passage to which reference may be made is Job xl. 4-"Behold, I am vile, what shall I answer thee? I will lay my hand on my mouth."

136 2 Cor. xii. 2-5.

137 The analogy, as made by the Arians, certainly was open to St. Ambrose's censure. We should remember, however, that a man is not properly a father until his child is born.

138 St. Ambrose perhaps thought that the curse laid upon human conception and birth (Gen. iii. 16) displayed itself as well in the initial as in the final stages.

139 Questionum tormenta. The use of racks and such-like machines (tormenta, fr. torqueo-wist) was resorted to, in the old Roman practice, in the examination (quoestio) of slaves.

140 The ref. is perhaps to Is. xlix. 5.

141 1 Sam xiii. 14; 2 Sam. vii. 21.

142 Ps. xcviii. 2.

143 Ps. xxvii. 9.

144 Without suffering any change in Himself.

145 S. John v. 20.

146 S. Matt. iii. 17; S. Mark i. 11; S. Luke iii. 22.

147 S. John v. 22, John v. 23; John iii. 35; John xvii. 1, John xvii. 2, John xvii. 5.

148 S. Luke xxiii. 36, Luke xxiii. 37

149 Ps. lxxxi. 9, Ps. lxxxi. 10

150 Rom. ix. 5.

151 i.e. a priori determinations respecting any matter cannot be maintained if they are traversed by the statements of eye-witnesses and participators in the affair.

152 St. Ambrose here uses causa in the sense of causa efficiens-arxh thj kinhsewj.

153 Cf. Nicene Creed.

154 Isa. xlvi. 5.

155 Num. xxiii. 19.

156 Ps. cxlviii. 5. Cf. Ps. xxxiii. 6, Ps. xxxiii. 9.

157 Gen. xv. 6.

158 Ps. xxxiii. 4.