Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): Objections Continued. How the Word has free will, yet without being alterable. He is unalterable because the Image of the Father, proved from texts.
Chapter X.—Objections Continued. How the Word has free will, yet without being alterable. He is unalterable because the Image of the Father, proved from texts.
35. As to their question whether the Word is alterable 2013 , it is superfluous to examine it; it is enough simply to write down what they say, and so to shew its daring irreligion. How they trifle, appears from the following questions:—Has He free will, or has He not? is He good from choice according to free will, and can He, if He will, alter, being of an alterable nature? or, as wood or stone, has He not His choice free to be moved and incline hither and thither? It is but agreeable to their heresy thus to speak and think; for, when once they have framed to themselves a God out of nothing and a created Son, of course they also adopt such terms, as being suitable to a creature. However, when in their controversies with Churchmen they hear from them of the real and only Word of the Father, and yet venture thus to speak of Him, does not their doctrine then become the most loathsome that can be found? is it not enough to distract a man on mere hearing, though unable to reply, and to make him stop his ears, from astonishment at the novelty of what he hears them say, which even to mention is to blaspheme? For if the Word be alterable and changing, where will He stay, and what will be the end of His development? how shall the alterable possibly be like the Unalterable? How should he who has seen the alterable, be considered to have seen the Unalterable? At what state must He arrive, for us to be able to behold in Him the Father? for it is plain p. 327 that not at all times shall we see the Father in the Son, because the Son is ever altering, and is of changing nature. For the Father is unalterable and unchangeable, and is always in the same state and the same; but if, as they hold, the Son is alterable, and not always the same, but of an ever-changing nature, how can such a one be the Fathers Image, not having the likeness of His unalterableness 2014 ? how can He be really in the Father, if His purpose is indeterminate? Nay, perhaps, as being alterable, and advancing daily, He is not perfect yet. But away with such madness of the Arians, and let the truth shine out, and shew that they are foolish. For must not He be perfect who is equal to God? and must not He be unalterable, who is one with the Father, and His Son proper to His essence? and the Fathers essence being unalterable, unalterable must be also the proper Offspring from it. And if they slanderously impute alteration to the Word, let them learn how much their own reason is in peril; for from the fruit is the tree known. For this is why he who hath seen the Son hath seen the Father; and why the knowledge of the Son is knowledge of the Father.
36. Therefore the Image of the unalterable God must be unchangeable; for Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, to-day, and for ever 2015 . And David in the Psalm says of Him, Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thine hands. They shall perish, but Thou remainest; and they all shall wax old as doth a garment. And as a vesture shalt Thou fold them up, and they shall be changed, but Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail 2016 . And the Lord Himself says of Himself through the Prophet, See now that I, even I am He, and I change not 2017 . It may be said indeed that what is here signified relates to the Father; yet it suits the Son also to say this, specially because, when made man, He manifests His own identity and unalterableness to such as suppose that by reason of the flesh He is changed and become other than He was. More trustworthy are the saints, or rather the Lord, than the perversity of the irreligious. For Scripture, as in the above-cited passage of the Psalter, signifying under the name of heaven and earth, that the nature of all things originate and created is alterable and changeable, yet excepting the Son from these, shews us thereby that He is no wise a thing originate; nay teaches that He changes everything else, and is Himself not changed, in saying, Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail 2018 . And with reason; for things originate, being from nothing 2019 , and not being before their origination, because, in truth, they come to be after not being, have a nature which is changeable; but the Son, being from the Father, and proper to His essence, is unchangeable and unalterable as the Father Himself. For it were sin to say that from that essence which is unalterable was begotten an alterable word and a changeable wisdom. For how is He longer the Word, if He be alterable? or can that be Wisdom which is changeable? unless perhaps, as accident in essence 2020 , so they would have it, viz. as in any particular essence, a certain grace and habit of virtue exists accidentally, which is called Word and Son and Wisdom, and admits of being taken from it and added to it. For they have often expressed this sentiment, but it is not the faith of Christians; as not declaring that He is truly Word and Son of God, or that the wisdom intended is true Wisdom. For what alters and changes, and has no stay in one and the same condition, how can that be true? whereas the Lord says, I am the Truth 2021 . If then the Lord Himself speaks thus concerning Himself, and declares His unalterableness, and the Saints have learned and testify this, nay and our notions of God acknowledge it as religious, whence did these men of irreligion draw this novelty? From their heart as from a seat of corruption did they vomit it forth 2022 .
τρεπτὸς, not changeable but of a moral nature capable of improvement. Arius maintained this in the strongest terms at starting. On being asked whether the Word of God is capable of altering as the devil altered, they scrupled not to say, “Yea, He is capable.” Alex. ap. Socr. i. 6. p. 11.327:2014
Supr. §22. init.327:2015
Heb. xiii. 8.327:2016
Ps. cii. 26-28327:2017
Deut. xxxii. 39; Mal. iii. 6.327:2018
Heb. i. 12.327:2019
Nic. Def. 21. note 9.327:2021
John xiv. 6.327:2022
De Syn. §16 fin.
Next: Texts Explained; And First, Phil. II. 9, 10. Various texts which are alleged against the Catholic doctrine: e.g. Phil. ii. 9, 10. Whether the words 'Wherefore God hath highly exalted' prove moral probation and advancement. Argued against, first, from the force of the word 'Son;' which is inconsistent with such an interpretation. Next, the passage examined. Ecclesiastical sense of 'highly exalted,' and 'gave,' and 'wherefore;' viz. as being spoken with reference to our Lord's manhood. Secondary sense; viz. as implying the Word's 'exaltation' through the resurrection in the same sense in which Scripture speaks of His descent in the Incarnation; how the phrase does not derogate from the nature of the Word.
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