Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He then declares that the close relation between names and things is immutable, and thereafter proceeds accordingly, in the most excellent manner, with his discourse concerning “generated” and “ungenerate.”
p. CXCV §2. He then declares that the close relation between names and things is immutable, and thereafter proceeds accordingly, in the most excellent manner, with his discourse concerning “generated” and “ungenerate.”
Now seeing that the Only-begotten is in the Divine Scriptures proclaimed to be God, let Eunomius consider his own argument, and condemn for utter folly the man who parts the Divine into created and uncreated, as he does him who divides “man” into “horse” and “man.” For he himself says, a little further on, after his intermediate nonsense, “the close relation of names to things is immutable,” where he himself by this statement assents to the fixed character of the true connection of appellations with their subject. If, then, the name of Godhead is properly employed in close connection with the Only-begotten God (and Eunomius, though he may desire to be out of harmony with us, will surely concede that the Scripture does not lie, and that the name of the Godhead is not inharmoniously attributed to the Only-begotten), let him persuade himself by his own reasoning that if “the close relation of names to things is immutable,” and the Lord is called by the name of “God,” he cannot apprehend any difference in respect of the conception of Godhead between the Father and the Son, seeing that this name is common to both,—or rather not this name only, but there is a long list of names in which the Son shares, without divergence of meaning, the appellations of the Father,—“good,” “incorruptible,” “just,” “judge,” “long-suffering,” “merciful,” “eternal,” “everlasting,” all that indicate the expression of majesty of nature and power,—without any reservation being made in His case in any of the names in regard of the exalted nature of the conception. But Eunomius passes by, as it were with closed eye, the number, great as it is, of the Divine appellations, and looks only to one point, his “generate and ungenerate,”—trusting to a slight and weak cord his doctrine, tossed and driven as it is by the blasts of error.
He asserts that “no man who has any regard for the truth either calls any generated thing ungenerate, or calls God Who is over all Son or generate.” This statement needs no further arguments on our part for its refutation. For he does not shelter his craft with any veils, as his wont is, but treats the inversion of his absurd statement as equivalent 834 , while he says that neither is any generated thing spoken of as “ungenerate,” nor is God Who is over all called “Son” or “generate,” without making any special distinction for the Only-begotten Godhead of the Son as compared with the rest of the “generated,” but makes his opposition of “all things that have come into being” to “God” without discrimination, not excepting the Son from “all things.” And in the inversion of his absurdities he clearly separates, forsooth, the Son from the Divine Nature, when he says that neither is any generated thing spoken of as “ungenerate,” nor is God called “Son” or “generate,” and manifestly reveals by this contradistinction the horrid character of his blasphemy. For when he has distinguished the “things that have come into being” from the “ungenerate,” he goes on to say, in that antistrophal induction of his, that it is impossible to call (not the “unbegotten,” but) “God,” “Son” or “generate,” trying by these words to show that which is not ungenerate is not God, and that the Only-begotten God is, by the fact of being begotten, as far removed from being God as the ungenerate is from being generated in fact or in name. For it is not in ignorance of the consequence of his argument that he makes an inversion of the terms employed thus inharmonious and incongruous: it is in his assault on the doctrine of orthodoxy that he opposes “the Godhead” to “the generate”—and this is the point he tries to establish by his words, that that which is not ungenerate is not God. What was the true sequence of his argument? that having said “no generated thing is ungenerate,” he should proceed with the inference, “nor, if anything is naturally ungenerate, can it be generate.” Such a statement at once contains truth and avoids blasphemy. But now by his premise that no generated thing is ungenerate, and his inference that God is not generated, he clearly shuts out the Only-begotten God from being God, laying down that because He is not ungenerate, neither is He God. Do we then need any further proofs to expose this monstrous blasphemy? Is not this enough by itself to serve for a record against the adversary of Christ, who by the arguments cited maintains that the Word, Who in the beginning was God, is not God? What need is there to engage further with such men as this? For we do not entangle ourselves in controversy with those who busy themselves with idols and with the blood that is shed upon their altars, not that we acquiesce in the destruction of those who are besotted about idols, but because their disease is too strong for our treatment. Thus, just as the fact itself declares idolatry, and the evil that men do boldly and arrogantly anticipates the reproach of those who p. CXCVI accuse it, so here too I think that the advocates of orthodoxy should keep silence towards one who openly proclaims his impiety to his own discredit, just as medicine also stands powerless in the case of a cancerous complaint, because the disease is too strong for the art to deal with.
That is, in making a rhetorical inversion of a proposition in itself objectionable, he so re-states it as to make it really a different proposition while treating it as equivalent. The original proposition is objectionable as classing the Son with all generated existences: the inversion of it, because the term “God” is substituted illicitly for the term “ungenerate.”
Next: Thereafter he discusses the divergence of names and of things, speaking, of that which is ungenerate as without a cause, and of that which is non-existent, as the Scindapsus, Minotaur, Blityri, Cyclops, Scylla, which never were generated at all, and shows that things which are essentially different, are mutually destructive, as fire of water, and the rest in their several relations. But in the case of the Father and the Son, as the essence is common, and the properties reciprocally interchangeable, no injury results to the Nature.
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