Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He then gives a notable explanation of the saying of the Lord to Philip, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father;” and herein he excellently discusses the suffering of the Lord in His love to man, and the impassibility, creative power, and providence of the Father, and the composite nature of men, and their resolution into the elements of which they were composed.
§3. He then gives a notable explanation of the saying of the Lord to Philip, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father;” and herein he excellently discusses the suffering of the Lord in His love to man, and the impassibility, creative power, and providence of the Father, and the composite nature of men, and their resolution into the elements of which they were composed.
Sufficient defence has been offered on these points, and as for that which Eunomius says by way of calumny against our doctrine, that “Christ was emptied to become Himself” there has been sufficient discussion in what has been said above, where he has been shown to be attributing to our doctrine his own blasphemy. 780 For it is not one who confesses that the immutable Nature has put on the created and perishable, who speaks of the transition from like to like, but one who conceives that there is no change from the majesty of Nature to that which is more lowly. For if, as their doctrine asserts, He is created, and man is created also, the wonder of the doctrine disappears, and there is nothing marvellous in what is alleged, since the created nature comes to be in itself 781 . But we who have learnt from prophecy of “the change of the right hand of the Most High 782 ,”—and by the “Right Hand” of the Father we understand that Power of God, which made all things, which is the Lord (not in the sense of depending upon Him as a part upon a whole, but as being indeed from Him, and yet contemplated in individual existence),—say thus: that neither does the Right Hand vary from Him Whose Right Hand It is, in regard to the idea of Its Nature, nor can any other change in It be spoken of besides the dispensation of the Flesh. For verily the Right Hand of God was God Himself; manifested in the flesh, seen through that same flesh by those whose sight was clear; as He did the work of the Father, being, both in fact and in thought, the Right Hand of God, yet being changed, in respect of the veil of the flesh by which He was surrounded, as regarded that which was seen, from that which He was by Nature, as a subject of contemplation. Therefore He says to Philip, who was gazing only at that which was changed, “Look through that which is changed to that which is unchangeable, and if thou seest this, thou hast seen that Father Himself, Whom thou seekest to see; for he that hath seen Me—not Him Who appears in a state of change, but My very self, Who am in the Father—will have seen that Father Himself in Whom I am, because the very same character of Godhead is beheld in both 783 .” If, then, we believe that the immortal and impassible and uncreated Nature came to be in the passible Nature of the creature, and conceive the “change” to consist in this, on what grounds are we charged with saying that He “was emptied to become Himself,” by those who keep prating their own statements about our doctrines? For the participation of the created with the created is no “change of the Right Hand.” To say that the Right Hand of the uncreated Nature is created belongs to Eunomius alone, and to those who adopt such opinions as he holds. For the man with an eye that looks on the truth will discern the p. CLXXXVI Right Hand of the Highest to be such as he sees the Highest to be,—Uncreated of Uncreated, Good of Good, Eternal of Eternal without prejudice to Its eternity by Its being in the Father by way of generation. Thus our accuser has unawares been employing against us reproaches that properly fall upon himself.
But with reference 784 to those who stumble at the idea of “passion,” and on this ground maintain the diversity of the Essences,—arguing that the Father, by reason of the exaltation of His Nature, does not admit passion, and that the Son on the other hand condescended, by reason of defect and divergence, to the partaking of His sufferings,—I wish to add these remarks to what has been already said:—That nothing is truly “passion” which does not tend to sin, nor would one strictly call by the name of “passion” the necessary routine of nature, regarding the composite nature as it goes on its course in a kind of order and sequence. For the mutual concurrence of heterogeneous elements in the formation of our body is a kind of a combination harmoniously conjoined out of several dissimilar elements; but when, at the due time, the tie is loosed which bound together this concurrence of the elements, the combined nature is once more dissolved into the elements of which it was composed. This then is rather a work than a passion of the nature 785 . For we give the name of “passion” only to that which is opposed to the virtuous unimpassioned state and of this we believe that He Who granted us salvation was at all times devoid, Who “was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin 786 .” Of that, at least, which is truly passion, which is a diseased condition of the will, He was not a partaker; for it says “He did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth 787 ”; but the peculiar attributes of our nature, which, by a kind of customary abuse of terms, are called by the same name of “passion,”—of these, we confess, the Lord did partake,—of birth, nourishment, growth, of sleep and toil, and all those natural dispositions which the soul is wont to experience with regard to bodily inconveniences,—the desire of that which is lacking, when the longing passes from the body to the soul, the sense of pain, the dread of death, and all the like, save only such as, if followed, lead to sin. As, then, when we perceive His power extending through all things in heaven, and air, and earth, and sea, whatever there is in heaven, whatever there is beneath the earth, we believe that He is universally present, and yet do not say that He is any of those things in which He is (for He is not the Heaven, Who has marked it out with His enfolding span, nor is He the earth, Who upholds the circle of the earth, nor yet is He the water, Who encompasses the liquid nature), so neither do we say that in passing through those sufferings of the flesh of which we speak He was “subject to passion,” but, as we say that He is the cause of all things that are, that He holds the universe in His grasp, that He directs all that is in motion and keeps upon a settled foundation all that is stationary, by the unspeakable power of His own majesty, so we say that He was born among us for the cure of the disease of sin, adapting the exercise of His healing power in a manner corresponding to the suffering, applying the healing in that way which He knew to be for the good of that part of the creation which He knew to be in infirmity. And as it was expedient that He should heal the sufferings by touch, we say that He so healed it; yet is He not, because He is the Healer of our infirmity, to be deemed on this account to have been Himself passible. For even in the case of men, ordinary use does not allow us to affirm such a thing. We do not say that one who touches a sick man to heal him is himself partaker of the infirmity, but we say that he does give the sick man the boon of a return to health, and does not partake of the infirmity: for the suffering does not touch him, it is he who touches the disease. Now if he who by his art works any good in mens bodies is not called dull or feeble, but is called a lover of men and a benefactor and the like, why do they slander the dispensation to usward as being mean and inglorious, and use it to maintain that the essence of the Son is “divergent by way of inferiority,” on the ground that the Nature of the Father is superior to sufferings, while that of the Son is not pure from passion? Why, if the aim of the dispensation of the Incarnation was not that the Son should be subject to suffering, but that He should be manifested as a lover of men, while the Father also is undoubtedly a lover of men, it follows that if one will but regard the aim, the Son is in the same case with the Father. But if it was not the Father Who wrought the destruction of death, marvel not,—for all judgment also He hath committed unto the Son, Himself judging no man 788 ; not doing all things by the Son for the reason that He is unable either to save the lost or judge the sinner, but because He does these things too by His own Power, by which He works all things. Then they who were saved by the Son were saved by the Power of the Father, and they who are judged by Him undergo judgment by the p. CLXXXVII Righteousness of God. For “Christ,” as the Apostle says, “is the Righteousness of God 789 ,” which is revealed by the Gospel; and whether you look at the world as a whole, or at the parts of the world which make up that complete whole, all these are works of the Father, in that they are works of His Power; and thus the word which says both that the Father made all things, and that none of these things that are came into being without the Son, speaks truly on both points; for the operation of the Power bears relation to Him Whose Power It is. Thus, since the Son is the Power of the Father, all the works of the Son are works of the Father. That He entered upon the dispensation of the Passion not by weakness of nature but by the power of His will, one might bring countless passages of the Gospel to show; but these, as the matter is clear, I will pretermit, that my discourse may not be prolonged by dwelling on points that are admitted. If, then, that which comes to pass is evil, we have to separate from that evil not the Father only, but the Son also; but if the saving of them that were lost is good, and if that which took place is not “passion 790 ,” but love of men, why do you alienate from our thanksgiving for our salvation the Father, Who by His own Power, which is Christ, wrought for men their freedom from death?
See above, Book V. §4.CLXXXV:781
That is, in a nature created like itself.CLXXXV:782
Ps. lxxvii. 10 (LXX.). This application of the passage is also made by Michael Ayguan (the “Doctor Incognitus”), who is the only commentator mentioned by Neale and Littledale as so interpreting the text.CLXXXV:783
Cf. S. John 14:9, 10.CLXXXVI:784
Oehlers punctuation, while it does not exactly follow that of the earlier editions, still seems to admit of emendation here.CLXXXVI:785
The word πάθος, like the English word “passion,” has a double sense: in one sense it connotes a tendency to evil action or evil habit—and in this sense Christ was not subject to passion. In another sense it has no such connotation, and it is in this sense (a sense, Gregory would say, somewhat inexact), that the term is used to express the sufferings of Christ:—to this case, it may be said, the inexact use of the English word is for the most part restricted.CLXXXVI:786
Heb. iv. 15.CLXXXVI:787
1 Pet. ii. 22.CLXXXVI:788
Cf. S. John v. 22CLXXXVII:789
Rom. i. 17.CLXXXVII:790
That is, “passion” in the sense defined above, as something with evil tendency. If the γινόμενον (i.e. the salvation of men) is evil, then Father and Son alike must be “kept clear” from any participation in it. If it is good, and if, therefore, the means (the actual events) are not “passion” as not tending to evil, while, considered in regard to their aim, they are φιλανθρωπία, then there is no reason why a share in their fulfilment should be denied to the Father, Who, as well as the Son, is φιλάνθρωπος, and Who by His own Power (that is, by Christ) wrought the salvation of men.
Next: Then returning to the words of Peter, “God made Him Lord and Christ,” he skilfully explains it by many arguments, and herein shows Eunomius as an advocate of the orthodox doctrine, and concludes the book by showing that the Divine and Human names are applied, by reason of the commixture, to either Nature.
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