Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: His unsuccessful attempt to be consistent with his own statements after Basil has confuted him.
§40. His unsuccessful attempt to be consistent with his own statements after Basil has confuted him.
For notice how bitter he is against one who did detect the rottenness and weakness of his work of mischief; how he revenges himself all he can, and that is only by abuse and vilification: in these, however, he possesses abundant ability. Those who would give elegance of style to a discourse have a way of filling out the places that want rhythm with certain conjunctive particles 221 , whereby they introduce more euphony and connexion into the assembly of their phrases; so does Eunomius garnish his work with abusive epithets in most of his passages, as though he wished to make a display of this overflowing power of invective. Again we are fools, again we fail in correct reasoning, and meddle in the controversy without the preparation which its importance requires, and miss the speakers meaning. Such, and still more than these, are the phrases used of our Master by this decorous orator. But perhaps after all there is good reason in his anger; and this pamphleteer is justly indignant. For why should Basil have stung him by thus exposing the weakness of this teaching of his? Why should he have uncovered to the sight of the simpler brethren the blasphemy veiled beneath his plausible sophistries? Why should he not have let silence cover the unsoundness of this view? Why gibbet the wretched man, when he ought to have pitied him, and kept the veil over the indecency of his argument? He actually finds out and makes a spectacle of one who has somehow got to be admired amongst his private pupils for cleverness and shrewdness! Eunomius had said somewhere in his works that the attribute of being ungenerate “follows” the deity. Our Master remarked upon this phrase of his that a thing which “follows” must be amongst the externals, whereas the actual Being is not one of these, but indicates the very existence of anything, so far as it does exist. Then this gentle yet unconquerable opponent is furious, and pours along a copious stream of invective, because our Master, on hearing that phrase, apprehended the sense of it as well. But what did he do wrong, if he firmly insisted only upon the meaning of your own writings. If indeed he had seized illogically on what was said, all that you say would be true, and we should have to ignore what he did; but seeing that you are blushing at his reproof, why do you not erase the word from your pamphlet, instead of abusing the reprover? Yes, but he did not understand the drift of the argument. Well, how do we do wrong, if being human, we guessed at the meaning from your actual words, having no comprehension of that which was buried in your heart? It is for God to see the inscrutable, and to inspect the characters of that which we have no means of comprehending, and to be cognizant of unlikeness 222 in the invisible world. We can only judge by what we hear.
conjunctive particles, σύνδεσμοι. In Aristotles Poetics (xx. 6), these are reckoned as one of the 8 parts of speech. The term σύνδεσμος is illustrated by the examples μὲν, ἤτοι, δὴ, which leaves no doubt that it includes at all events conjunctions and particles. Its general character is defined in his Rhetoric iii. 12, 4: “It makes many (sentences) one.” Harris (Hermes ii. c. 2), thus defines a conjunction, “A part of speech devoid of signification itself, but so formed as to help signification by making two or more significant sentences to be one significant sentence,” a definition which manifestly comes from Aristotle.
The comparison here seems to be between these constantly recurring particles, themselves devoid of signification, in an elegant discourse, and the perpetually used epithets, “fools,” &c., which, though utterly meaningless, serve to connect his dislocated paragraphs. The assembly (σύναξις, always of the synagogue or the Communion. See Suicer) of his words is brought, it is ironically implied, into some sort of harmony by these means.XCVI:222
A hit at the Anomœans. Your subtle distinctions, in the invisible world of your own mind, between the meanings of “following” are like the unlikenesses which you see between the Three Persons.
Next: The thing that follows is not the same as the thing that it follows.
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