Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): The Importance of the Subject. The Arians affect Scripture language, but their doctrine new, as well as unscriptural. Statement of the Catholic doctrine, that the Son is proper to the Father's substance, and eternal. Restatement of Arianism in contrast, that He is a creature with a beginning: the controversy comes to this issue, whether one whom we are to believe in as God, can be so in name only, and is merely a creature. What pretence then for being indifferent in the controversy? The Arians rely on state patronage, and dare not avow their tenets.
Chapter III.—The Importance of the Subject. The Arians affect Scripture language, but their doctrine new, as well as unscriptural. Statement of the Catholic doctrine, that the Son is proper to the Fathers substance, and eternal. Restatement of Arianism in contrast, that He is a creature with a beginning: the controversy comes to this issue, whether one whom we are to believe in as God, can be so in name only, and is merely a creature. What pretence then for being indifferent in the controversy? The Arians rely on state patronage, and dare not avow their tenets.
8. If then the use of certain phrases of divine Scripture changes, in their opinion, the blasphemy of the Thalia into reverent language, of course they ought also to deny Christ with the present Jews, when they see how they study the Law and the Prophets; perhaps too they will deny the Law 1853 and the Prophets like Manichees 1854 , because the latter read some portions of the Gospels. If such bewilderment and empty speaking be from ignorance, Scripture will teach them, that the devil, the author of heresies, because of the ill savour which attaches to evil, borrows Scripture language, as a cloak wherewith to sow the ground with his own poison also, and to seduce the simple. Thus he deceived Eve; thus he framed former heresies; thus he persuaded Arius at this time to make a show of speaking against those former ones, that he might introduce his own without observation. And yet, after all, the man of craft did not escape. For being irreligious towards the Word of God, he lost his all at once 1855 , and betrayed to all men his ignorance of other heresies too 1856 ; and having not a particle of truth in his belief, does but pretend to it. For how can he speak truth concerning the Father, who denies the Son, that reveals concerning Him? or how can he be orthodox concerning the Spirit, while he speaks profanely of the Word that supplies the Spirit? and who will trust him concerning the Resurrection, denying, as he does, Christ for us the first-begotten from the dead? and how shall he not err in respect to His incarnate presence, who is simply ignorant of the Sons genuine and true generation from the Father? For thus, the former Jews also, denying the Word, and saying, We have no king but Cæsar 1857 , were forthwith stripped of all they had, and forfeited the light of the Lamp, the odour of ointment, knowledge of prophecy, and the Truth itself; till now they understand nothing, but are walking as in darkness. For who was ever yet a hearer of such a doctrine 1858 ? or whence or from whom did the abettors and hirelings 1859 of the heresy gain it? who thus expounded to them when they were at school 1860 ? who told them, Abandon the worship of the creation, and then draw near and worship a creature and a work 1861 ? But if they themselves own that they have heard it now for the first time, how can they deny that this heresy is foreign, and not from our fathers 1862 ? But what is not from our fathers, but has come to light in this day, how can it be but that of which the blessed Paul 1863 has foretold, that in the latter times some shall depart from the sound faith, p. 311 giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, in the hypocrisy of liars; cauterized in their own conscience, and turning from the truth 1864 ?
9. For, behold, we take divine Scripture, and thence discourse with freedom of the religious Faith, and set it up as a light upon its candlestick, saying:—Very Son of the Father, natural and genuine, proper to His essence, Wisdom Only-begotten, and Very and Only Word of God is He; not a creature or work, but an offspring proper to the Fathers essence. Wherefore He is very God, existing one 1865 in essence with the very Father; while other beings, to whom He said, I said ye are Gods 1866 , had this grace from the Father, only by participation 1867 of the Word, through the Spirit. For He is the expression of the Fathers Person, and Light from Light, and Power, and very Image of the Fathers essence. For this too the Lord has said, He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father 1868 . And He ever was and is and never was not. For the Father being everlasting, His Word and His Wisdom must be everlasting 1869 . On the other hand, what have these persons to shew us from the infamous Thalia? Or, first of all, let them read it themselves, and copy the tone of the writer; at least the mockery which they will encounter from others may instruct them how low they have fallen; and then let them proceed to explain themselves. For what can they say from it, but that God was not always a Father, but became so afterwards; the Son was not always, for He was not before His generation; He is not from the Father, but He, as others, has come into subsistence out of nothing; He is not proper to the Fathers essence, for He is a creature and work? And Christ is not very God, but He, as others, was made God by participation; the Son has not exact knowledge of the Father, nor does the Word see the Father perfectly; and neither exactly understands nor knows the Father. He is not the very and only Word of the Father, but is in name only called Word and Wisdom, and is called by grace Son and Power. He is not unalterable, as the Father is, but alterable in nature, as the creatures, and He comes short of apprehending the perfect knowledge of the Father. Wonderful this heresy, not plausible even, but making speculations against Him that is, that He be not, and everywhere putting forward blasphemy for reverent language! Were any one, after inquiring into both sides, to be asked, whether of the two he would follow in faith, or whether of the two spoke fitly of God,—or rather let them say themselves, these abettors of irreligion, what, if a man be asked concerning God (for the Word was God), it were fit to answer 1870 . For from this one question the whole case on both sides may be determined, what is fitting to say,—He was, or He was not; always, or before His birth; eternal, or from this and from then; true, or by adoption, and from participation and in idea 1871 ; to call Him one of things originated, or to unite Him to the Father; to consider Him unlike the Father in essence, or like and proper to Him; a creature, or Him through whom the creatures were originated; that He is the Fathers Word, or that there is another word beside Him, and that by this other He was originated, and by another wisdom; and that He is only named Wisdom and Word, and is become a partaker of this wisdom, and second to it?
10. Which of the two theologies sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as God and Son of the Father, this which you vomited forth, or that which we have spoken and maintain from the Scriptures? If the Saviour be not God, nor Word, nor Son, you shall have leave to say what you will, and so shall the Gentiles, and the present Jews. But if He be Word of the Father and true Son, and God from God, and over all blessed for ever 1872 , is it not becoming to obliterate and blot out those other phrases and that Arian Thalia, as but a pattern of evil, a store of all irreligion, into which, whoso falls, knoweth not that giants perish with her, and reacheth the depths of Hades 1873 ? This they know themselves, and in their craft they conceal it, not having the courage to speak out, but uttering something else 1874 . For if they speak, a condemnation will follow; and if they be suspected, proofs from Scripture will be cast 1875 at them from every side. Wherefore, in their craft, as children of this world, after feeding their p. 312 so-called lamp from the wild olive, and fearing lest it should soon be quenched (for it is said, the light of the wicked shall be put out 1876 ,) they hide it under the bushel 1877 of their hypocrisy, and make a different profession, and boast of patronage of friends and authority of Constantius, that what with their hypocrisy and their professions, those who come to them may be kept from seeing how foul their heresy is. Is it not detestable even in this, that it dares not speak out, but is kept hid by its own friends, and fostered as serpents are? for from what sources have they got together these words? or from whom have they received what they venture to say 1878 ? Not any one man can they specify who has supplied it. For who is there in all mankind, Greek or Barbarian, who ventures to rank among creatures One whom he confesses the while to be God and says, that He was not till He was made? or who is there, who to the God in whom he has put faith, refuses to give credit, when He says, This is My beloved Son 1879 , on the pretence that He is not a Son, but a creature? rather, such madness would rouse an universal indignation. Nor does Scripture afford them any pretext; for it has been often shewn, and it shall be shewn now, that their doctrine is alien to the divine oracles. Therefore, since all that remains is to say that from the devil came their mania (for of such opinions he alone is sower 1880 ), proceed we to resist him—for with him is our real conflict, and they are but instruments;—that, the Lord aiding us, and the enemy, as he is wont, being overcome with arguments, they may be put to shame, when they see him without resource who sowed this heresy in them, and may learn, though late, that, as being Arians, they are not Christians.
de Syn. 33.310:1854
Faustus, in August. contr. Faust. ii. 1. admits the Gospels (vid. Beausobre Manich. t. i. p. 291, &c.), but denies that they were written by the reputed authors. ibid. xxxii. 2. but nescio quibus Semi-judæis. ibid. xxxiii. 3. Accordingly they thought themselves at liberty to reject or correct parts of them. They rejected many of the facts, e.g. our Lords nativity, circumcision, baptism, temptation, &c. ibid. xxxii. 6.310:1855
de Decr. 1, note 6.310:1856
[A note on the intimate mutual connexion of all heresies is omitted here.]310:1857
Joh. xix. 15.310:1858
de Decr. 7, note 2.310:1859
δωροδόκοι, and so κέρδος τῆς φιλοχρηματίας, infr. §53. He mentions προστασίας φίλων, §10. And so S. Hilary speaks of the exemptions from taxes which Constantius granted the Clergy as a bribe to Arianize; contr. Const. 10. And again, of resisting Constantius as hostem blandientem, qui non dorsa cædit, sed ventrem palpat, non proscribit ad vitam, sed ditat in mortem, non caput gladio desecat, sed animum auro occidit. ibid. 5. vid. Coustant. in loc. Liberius says the same, Theod H. E. ii. 13. And S. Gregory Naz. speaks of φιλοχρύσους μᾶλλον ἢ φιλοχρίστους. Orat. 21. 21. On the other hand, Ep. Æg. 22, Athan. contrasts the Arians with the Meletians, as not influenced by secular views. [Prolegg. ch. ii. §3 (2) c. (2).]310:1860
de Syn. §3 and 9.310:1861
Vid. de Decr. 1. note. This consideration, as might be expected, is insisted on by the Fathers. vid. Cyril. Dial. iv. p. 511, &c. v. p. 566. Greg. Naz. 40, 42; Hil. Trin. viii. 28; Ambros. de fid. i. n. 69 and 104.310:1862
Ib. 4, note 8.310:1863
1 Tim. 4:1, 2; Tit. i. 14.311:1864
This passage is commonly taken by the Fathers to refer to the Oriental sects of the early centuries, who fulfilled one or other of those conditions which it specifies. It is quoted against the Marcionists by Clement. Strom. iii. 6. Of the Carpocratians apparently, Iren. Hær. i. 25; Epiph. Hær. 27. 5. Of the Valentinians, Epiph. Hær. 31. 34. Of the Montanists and others, ibid. 48. 8. Of the Saturnilians (according to Huet.) Origen in Matt. xx. 16. Of apostolic heresies, Cyril. Cat. iv. 27. Of Marcionites, Valentinians, and Manichees, Chrysost. de Virg. 5. Of Gnostics and Manichees, Theod. Hær. ii. præf. Of Encratites, ibid. v. fin. Of Eutyches, Ep. Anon. 190 (apud Garner. Diss. v. Theod. p. 901. Pseudo-Justin seems to consider it fulfilled in the Catholics of the fifth century, as being Anti-Pelagians. Quæst. 22. vid. Bened. note in loc. Besides Athanasius, no early author occurs to the writer of this, by whom it is referred to the Arians, cf. Depos. Ar. supr. p. 71, note 29.311:1865
[This is the only occurrence of the word ὁμοούσιος in these three Discourses.]311:1866
Ps. lxxxii. 6.311:1867
de Decr. §14 fin.; de Syn. §51.311:1868
John xiv. 9.311:1869
de Decr. 15, note 6.311:1870
That is, Let them tell us, is it right to predicate this or to predicate that of God (of one who is God), for such is the Word, viz. that He was from eternity or was created, &c., &c.311:1871
κατ᾽ ἐπίνοιαν, vid. Orat. ii. §38.311:1872
Rom. ix. 5.311:1873
Prov. ix. 18. LXX.311:1874
de Decr. 6. note 5; de Syn. 32.311:1875
de Decr. 26, note 6.312:1876
Job xviii. 5.312:1877
Ep. Æg. 18.312:1878
§8, note 5.312:1879
Matt. iii. 17.312:1880
de Decr. 2, note 6.
Next: That the Son is Eternal and Increate. These attributes, being the points in dispute, are first proved by direct texts of Scripture. Concerning the 'eternal power' of God in Rom. i. 20, which is shewn to mean the Son. Remarks on the Arian formula, 'Once the Son was not,' its supporters not daring to speak of 'a time when the Son was not.'
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