Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He then explains the phrase of S. Peter, “Him God made Lord and Christ.” And herein he sets forth the opposing statement of Eunomius, which he made on account of such phrase against S. Basil, and his lurking revilings and insults.
§2. He then explains the phrase of S. Peter, “Him God made Lord and Christ.” And herein he sets forth the opposing statement of Eunomius, which he made on account of such phrase against S. Basil, and his lurking revilings and insults.
Now that we have had presented to us this preliminary view of existences, it may be opportune to examine the passage before us. It is said, then, by Peter to the Jews, “Him God made Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified 696 ,” while on our part it is said that it is not pious to refer the word “made” to the Divine Nature of the Only-begotten, but that it is to be referred to that “form of a servant 697 ,” which came into being by the Incarnation 698 , in the due time of His appearing in the flesh; and, on the other hand, those who press the phrase the contrary way say that in the word “made” the Apostle indicates the pretemporal generation of the Son. We shall, p. CLXXIV therefore, set forth the passage in the midst, and after a detailed examination of both the suppositions, leave the judgment of the truth to our reader. Of our adversaries view Eunomius himself may be a sufficient advocate, for he contends gallantly on the matter, so that in going through his argument word by word we shall completely follow out the reasoning of those who strive against us: and we ourselves will act as champion of the doctrine on our side as best we may, following so far as we are able the line of the argument previously set forth by the great Basil. But do you, who by your reading act as judges in the cause, “execute true judgment,” as one of the prophets 699 says, not awarding the victory to contentious preconceptions, but to the truth as it is manifested by examination. And now let the accuser of our doctrines come forward, and read his indictment, as in a court of law.
“In addition, moreover, to what we have mentioned, by his refusal to take the word made as referring to the essence of the Son, and withal by his being ashamed of the Cross, he ascribes to the Apostles what no one even of those who have done their best to speak ill of them on the score of stupidity, lays to their charge; and at the same time he clearly introduces, by his doctrines and arguments, two Christs and two Lords; for he says that it was not the Word Who was in the beginning Whom God made Lord and Christ, but He Who emptied Himself to take the form of a servant 700 , and was crucified through weakness 701 . At all events the great Basil writes expressly as follows 702 :—Nor, moreover, is it the intention of the Apostle to present to us that existence of the Only-begotten which was before the ages (which is now the subject of our argument), for he clearly speaks, not of the very essence of God the Word, Who was in the beginning with God, but of Him Who emptied Himself to take the form of a servant, and became conformable to the body of our humiliation 703 , and was crucified through weakness. And again, This is known to any one who even in a small degree applies his mind to the meaning of the Apostles words, that he is not setting forth to us the mode of the Divine existence, but is introducing the terms which belong to the Incarnation; for he says, Him God made Lord and Christ, this Jesus Whom ye crucified, evidently laying stress by the demonstrative word on that in Him which was human and was seen by all 704 .
“This, then, is what the man has to say who substitutes,—for we may not speak of it as application, lest any one should blame for such madness men holy and chosen for the preaching of godliness, so as to reproach their doctrine with a fall into such extravagance,—who substitutes his own mind 705 for the intention of the Apostles! With what confusion are they not filled, who refer their own nonsense to the memory of the saints! With what absurdity do they not abound, who imagine that the man emptied himself to become man, and who maintain that He Who by obedience humbled himself to take the form of a servant was made conformable to men even before He took that form upon Him! Who, pray, ye most reckless of men, when he has the form of a servant, takes the form of a servant? and how can any one empty himself to become the very thing which he is? You will find no contrivance to meet this, bold as you are in saying or thinking things uncontrivable. Are you not verily of all men most miserable, who suppose that a man has suffered death for all men, and ascribe your own redemption to him? For if it is not of the Word Who was in the beginning and was God that the blessed Peter speaks, but of him who was seen, and who emptied Himself, as Basil says, and if the man who was seen emptied Himself to take the form of a servant, and He Who emptied Himself to take the form of a servant, emptied Himself to come into being as man, then the man who was seen emptied himself to come into being as man 706 . The very nature of things is repugnant to this; and it is expressly contradicted by that writer 707 who celebrates this dispensation in his discourse concerning the Divine Nature, when he says not that the man who was seen, but that the Word Who was in the beginning and was God took upon Him flesh, which is equivalent in other words to taking the form of a servant. If, then, you hold that these things are to be believed, depart from your error, and cease to believe that the man emptied himself to become man. And if you are not able to persuade those who will not be persuaded, destroy their incredulity by another saying, a second dep. CLXXV cision against them. Remember him who says, Who being in the form of God thought it not robbery to be equal with God, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a servant. There is none among men who will appropriate this phrase to himself. None of the saints that ever lived was the Only-begotten God and became man:—for that is what it means to take the form of a servant, being in the form of God. If, then, the blessed Peter speaks of Him Who emptied Himself to take the form of a servant, and if He Who was in the form of God did empty Himself to take the form of a servant, and if He Who in the beginning was God, being the Word and the Only-begotten God, is He Who was in the form of God, then the blessed Peter speaks to us of Him Who was in the beginning and was God, and expounds to us that it was He Who became Lord and Christ. This, then, is the conflict which Basil wages against himself, and he clearly appears neither to have applied his own mind to the intention of the Apostles, nor to be able to preserve the sequence of his own arguments; for, according to them, he must, if he is conscious of their irreconcilable character, admit that the Word Who was in the beginning and was God became Lord; or if he tries to fit together statements that are mutually conflicting, and contentiously stands by them, he will add to them others yet more hostile, and maintain that there are two Christs and two Lords. For if the Word that was in the beginning and was God be one, and He Who emptied Himself and took the form of a servant be another, and if God the Word, by Whom are all things, be Lord, and this Jesus, Who was crucified after all things had come into being, be Lord also, there are, according to his view, two Lords and Christs. Our author, then, cannot by any argument clear himself from this manifest blasphemy. But if any one were to say in support of him that the Word Who was in the beginning is indeed the same Who became Lord, but that He became Lord and Christ in respect of His presence in the flesh, He will surely be constrained to say that the Son was not Lord before His presence in the flesh. At all events, even if Basil and his faithless followers falsely proclaim two Lords and two Christs, for us there is one Lord and Christ, by Whom all things were made, not becoming Lord by way of promotion, but existing before all creation and before all ages, the Lord Jesus, by Whom are all things, while all the saints with one harmonious voice teach us this truth and proclaim it as the most excellent of doctrines. Here the blessed John teaches us that God the Word, by Whom all things were made, has become incarnate, saying, And the Word was made flesh 708 ; here the most admirable Paul, urging those who attend to him to humility, speaks of Christ Jesus, Who was in the form of God, and emptied Himself to take the form of a servant, and was humbled to death, even the death of the Cross 709 ; and again in another passage calls Him Who was crucified the Lord of Glory: for had they known it, he says, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory 710 . Indeed, he speaks far more openly than this of the very essential nature by the name of Lord, where he says, Now the Lord is the Spirit 711 . If, then, the Word Who was in the beginning, in that He is Spirit, is Lord, and the Lord of glory, and if God made Him Lord and Christ, it was the very Spirit and God the Word that God so made, and not some other Lord Whom Basil dreams about.”
Acts ii. 36.CLXXIII:697
Phil. ii. 7.CLXXIII:698
Zech. vii. 9.CLXXIV:700
Cf. Phil. ii. 7CLXXIV:701
Cf. 2 Cor. xiii. 4.CLXXIV:702
The quotations are from S. Basil c. Eunomius II. 3. (pp. 239–40 in the Benedictine edition.)CLXXIV:703
Cf. Phil. iii. 21.CLXXIV:704
The latter part of the quotation from S. Basil does not exactly agree with the Benedictine text, but the variations are not material.CLXXIV:705
Reading ἑαυτοῦ for the ἑαυτῶν of Oehlers text, for which no authority is alleged by the editor, and which is probably a mere misprint.CLXXIV:706
The argument here takes the form of a reductio ad absurdum; assuming that S. Peters reference is to the “visible man,” and bearing in mind S. Basils words that S. Peter refers to Him Who “emptied Himself,” it is said “then it was the visible man who emptied himself. But the purpose of that emptying was the taking the form of a servant, which again is the coming into being as man: therefore the visible man emptied himself, to come into being as man, which is absurd.” The wording of S. Basils statement makes the argument in a certain degree plausible;—if he had said that S. Peter referred to the Son, not in regard to his actual essence, but in regard to the fact that He “emptied Himself” to become man, and as so having “emptied Himself” (which is no doubt what he intended his words to mean), then the reductio ad absurdum would not apply; nor would the later arguments, by which Eunomius proceeds to prove that He Who “emptied Himself” was no mere man, but the Word Who was in the beginning, have any force as against S. Basils statement.CLXXIV:707
S. John i. 1 sqq.CLXXV:708
S. John i. 14CLXXV:709
Cf. Phil. 2:7, 8.CLXXV:710
1 Cor. ii. 8.CLXXV:711
2 Cor. iii. 17.
Next: A remarkable and original reply to these utterances, and a demonstration of the power of the Crucified, and of the fact that this subjection was of the Human Nature, not that which the Only-Begotten has from the Father. Also an explanation of the figure of the Cross, and of the appellation “Christ,” and an account of the good gifts bestowed on the Human Nature by the Godhead which was commingled with it.
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