Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: After this, fearing to extend his reply to great length, he passes by most of his adversary's statements as already refuted. But the remainder, for the sake of those who deem them of much force, he briefly summarizes, and refutes the blasphemy of Eunomius, who says of the Lord also that He is what animals and plants in all creation are, non-existent before their own generation; and so with the production of frogs; alas for the blasphemy!
§4. After this, fearing to extend his reply to great length, he passes by most of his adversarys statements as already refuted. But the remainder, for the sake of those who deem them of much force, he briefly summarizes, and refutes the blasphemy of Eunomius, who says of the Lord also that He is what animals and plants in all creation are, non-existent before their own generation; and so with the production of frogs; alas for the blasphemy!
But I must hasten on, for I see that my treatise has already extended beyond bounds, and I fear that I may be thought garrulous and inordinate in my talk, if I prolong my answer to excess, although I have intentionally passed by many parts of my adversarys treatise, that my argument might not be spun out to many myriads of words. For to the more studious even the want of conciseness gives an occasion for disparagement; but as for those whose mind looks not to what is of use, but to the fancy of those who are idle and not in earnest, their wish and prayer is to get over as much of the journey as they can in a few steps. What then ought we to do when Eunomius profanity draws us on? Are we to track his every turn? or is it perhaps superfluous and merely garrulous to spend our energies over and over again on similar encounters? For all their argument that follows is in accordance with what we have already investigated, and presents no fresh point in addition to what has gone before. If then we have succeeded in completely overthrowing his previous statements, the remainder fall along with them. But in case the contentious and obstinate should think that the strongest part of their case is in what I have omitted, for this reason it may perhaps be necessary to touch briefly upon what remains.
He says that the Lord did not exist before His own generation—he who cannot prove that He was in anything separated from the Father. And this he says, not quoting any Scripture as a warrant for his assertion, but maintaining his proposition by arguments of his own. But this characteristic has been shown to be common to all parts of the creation. Not a frog, not a worm, not a beetle, not a blade of grass, nor any other of the most insignificant objects, existed before its own formation: so that what by aid of his dialectic skill he tries with great labour and pains to establish to be the case with the Son, has previously been acknowledged to be true of any chance portions of the creation, and our authors mighty labour is to show that the Only-begotten God, by participation of attributes, is on a level with the lowest of created things. Accordingly the fact of the coincidence of their opinions concerning the Only-begotten God, and their view of the mode in which frogs come into being, is a sufficient indication of their doctrinal pravity. Next he urges that not to be before His generation, is equivalent in fact and meaning to not being ungenerate. Once more the same argument will fit my hand in dealing with this too,—that a man would not be wrong in saying the same thing of a dog, or a flea, or a snake, or any one you please of the meanest creatures, since for a dog not to exist before his generation is equivalent in fact and meaning to his not being ungenerate. But if, in accord with the definition they have so often laid down, all things that share in attributes share also in nature, and if it is an attribute of the dog, and of the rest severally, not to exist before generation, which is what Eunomius thinks fit to maintain also of the Son, the reader will by logical process see for himself the conclusion of this demonstration.
Next: Eunomius again speaks of the Son as Lord and God, and Maker of all creation intelligible and sensible, having received from the Father the power and the commission for creation, being entrusted with the task of creation as if He were an artizan commissioned by some one hiring Him, and receiving His power of creation as a thing adventitious, ab extra, as a result of the power allotted to Him in accordance with such and such combinations and positions of the stars, as destiny decrees their lot in life to men at their nativity. Thus, passing by most of what Eunomius had written, he confutes his blasphemy that the Maker of all things came into being in like manner with the earth and with angels, and that the subsistence of the Only-begotten differs not at all from the genesis of all things, and reproaches Him with reverencing neither the Divine mystery nor the custom of the Church, nor following in his attempt to discover godliness any teacher of pious doctrine, but Manichæus, Colluthus, Arius, Aetius, and
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