Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter IX. A passage of St. Paul abused by heretics, to prove a distinction between the Divine Persons, is explained, and it is proved that the whole passage can be rightly said of each Person, though it refers specially to the Son. It is then proved that each member of the passage is applicable to each Person, and as to say, of Him are all things is applicable to the Father, so may all things are through Him and in Him also be said of Him.
A passage of St. Paul abused by heretics, to prove a distinction between the Divine Persons, is explained, and it is proved that the whole passage can be rightly said of each Person, though it refers specially to the Son. It is then proved that each member of the passage is applicable to each Person, and as to say, of Him are all things is applicable to the Father, so may all things are through Him and in Him also be said of Him.
85. Another similar passage is that which they say implies difference, where it is written: “But to us there is one Father, of Whom are all things and we unto Him, and one Lord Jesus Christ, through Whom are all things, and we through Him.” 1127 For they pretend that when it is said “of Him,” the matter is signified, when “through Him,” either the instrument of the work or some office, but when it is said “in Him,” either the place or the time in which all things that are made are seen.
86. So, then, their desire is to prove that there is some difference of substance, being anxious to make a distinction between as it were the instrument, and the proper worker or author, and also between time or place and the instrument. But is the Son, then, alien as regards His Nature from the Father, because an instrument is alien from the p. 126 worker or author? or is the Son alien from the Spirit, because either time or place is not of the same class as an instrument?
87. Compare now our assertions. They will have it that matter is of God as though of the nature of God, as when you say that a chest is made of wood or a statue of stone; that after this fashion matter has come forth from God, and that the same matter has been made by the Son as if by some sort of instrument; so that they declare that the Son is not so much the Artificer as the instrument of the work; and that all things have been made in the Spirit, as if in some place or time; they attribute each part severally to each Person severally and deny that all are in common.
88. But we show that all things are so of God the Father, that God the Father has suffered no loss because all things are either through Him or in Him, and yet all things are not of Him as if of matter; then, too, that all things are through the Lord the Son, so that He is not deprived of the attribute that all things are of the Son and in Him; and that all things are in the Spirit, so that we may teach that all things are through the Spirit, and all things from the Spirit.
89. For these particles, like those of which we have spoken before, imply each other. For the Apostle did not so say, All things are of God, and all things are through the Son, as to signify that the substance of the Father and the Son could be severed, but that he might teach that by a distinction without confusion the Father is one, the Son another. Those particles, then, are not as it were in opposition to each other, but are as it were allied and agreed, so as often to suit even one Person, as it is written: “For of Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things.” 1128
90. But if you really consider whence the passage is taken you will have no doubt that it is said of the Son. For the Apostle says, according to the prophecy of Isaiah, “Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?” 1129 And he adds: “For of Him and in Him are all things.” Which Isaiah had said of the Artificer of all, as you read: “Who hath measured out the water with his hand, and the heaven with a span, and all the earth with his closed hand? Who hath placed the mountains in scales and the hills in a balance? Who hath known the mind of the Lord, or who hath been His counsellor?” 1130
91. And the Apostle added: “For of Him, and through Him, and in Him are all things.” What is “of Him”? That the nature of everything is of His will, and He is the Author of all things which have come into being. “Through Him” means what? That the establishment and continuance of all things is His gift. What is “in Him”? That all things by a wonderful kind of longing and unspeakable love look upon the Author of their life, and the Giver of their graces and functions, according to that which is written: “The eyes of all look unto Thee,” and “Thou openest Thine hand and fillest every living creature with Thy good pleasure.” 1131
92. And of the Father, too, you may rightly say “of Him,” for of Him was the operative Wisdom, Which of His own and the Fathers will gave being to all things which were not. “Through Him,” because all things were made through His Wisdom. “In Him,” because He is the Fount of substantial Life, in Whom we live and move and have our being.
93. Of the Spirit also, as being formed by Him, strengthened by Him, established in Him, we receive the gift of eternal life.
94. Since, then, these expressions seem suitable either to the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, it is certain that nothing derogatory is spoken of in them, since we both say that many things are of the Son, and many through the Father, as you find it said of the Son: “That we may be increased through all things in Him, Who is Christ the Head, from Whom,” says he, “the whole body, framed and knit together through every joint of the supply for the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the building up of itself in love.” 1132 And again, writing to the Colossians of those who have not the knowledge of the Son of God, he says: “Because they hold not the Head, from Whom all the body being supplied and joined together through joints and bands, increaseth to the increase of God.” 1133 For we said above that Christ is the Head of the Church. And in another place you read: “Of His fulness have all we received.” 1134 And the Lord Himself said: “He shall take of Mine and show it unto you.” 1135 And before, He said: “I perceive that virtue is gone out of Me.” 1136
95. In like manner that you may recognize the Unity, it is also said of the Spirit: “For he that soweth in the Spirit shall of the Spirit p. 127 reap eternal life.” 1137 And John says: “Hereby we know that He is in us because He hath given us of His Spirit.” 1138 And the Angel says: “That Which shall be born of her is of the Holy Spirit.” 1139 And the Lord says: “That which is born of the Spirit is Spirit.” 1140
96. So, then, as we read that all things are of the Father, so, too, that all things can be said to be of the Son, through Whom are all things; and we are taught by proof that all things are of the Spirit in Whom are all things.
97. Now let us consider whether we can teach that anything is through the Father. But it is written: “Paul the servant of Christ through the will of God;” 1141 and elsewhere: “Wherefore thou art now not a servant but a son, and if a son an heir also through God;” 1142 and again: “As Christ rose from the dead by the glory of God.” 1143 And elsewhere God the Father says to the Son: “Behold proselytes shall come to Thee through Me.” 1144
98. You will find many other passages, if you look for things done through the Father. Is, then, the Father less because we read that many things are in the Son and of the Son, and find in the heavenly Scriptures very many things done or given through the Father?
99. But in like manner we also read of many things done through the Spirit, as you find: “But God hath revealed them to us through His Spirit;” 1145 and in another place: “Keep the good deposit through the Holy Spirit;” 1146 and to the Ephesians: “to be strengthened through His Spirit;” 1147 and to the Corinthians: “To another is given through the Spirit the word of wisdom;” 1148 and in another place: “But if through the Spirit ye mortify the deeds of the flesh, ye shall live;” 1149 and above: “He Who raised Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies through the indwelling of His Spirit in you.” 1150
100. But perhaps some one may say, Show me that we can read expressly that all things are of the Son, or that all things are of the Spirit. But I reply, Let them also show that it is written that all things are through the Father. But since we have proved that these expressions suit either the Father or the Son or the Holy Spirit, and that no distinction of the divine power can arise from particles of this kind, there is no doubt but that all things are of Him through Whom all things are; and that all things are through Him through Whom all are; and that we must understand that all things are through Him or of Him in Whom all are. For every creature exists both of the will, and through the operation and in the power of the Trinity, as it is written: “Let Us make man after Our image and likeness;” 1151 and elsewhere: “By the word of the Lord were the heavens established, and all their power by the Spirit of His mouth.” 1152
1 Cor. viii. 6.126:1128
Rom. xi. 36.126:1129
Isa. xl. 13.126:1130
Isa. xl. 12.126:1131
Ps. 145:15, 16.126:1132
Eph. 4:15, 16.126:1133
Col. ii. 19.126:1134
S. John i. 16.126:1135
S. John xvi. 14.126:1136
S. Luke viii. 46.127:1137
Gal. vi. 8.127:1138
1 John iv. 13.127:1139
S. Matt. i. 20.127:1140
S. John iii. 6.127:1141
1 Cor. i. 1.127:1142
Gal. iv. 7.127:1143
Rom. vi. 4.127:1144
Isa. liv. 15 [LXX.].127:1145
1 Cor. ii. 10.127:1146
1 Tim. vi. 20.127:1147
Eph. iii. 16.127:1148
1 Cor. xii. 8.127:1149
Rom. viii. 13.127:1150
Rom. viii. 11.127:1151
Gen. i. 26.127:1152
Ps. xxxiii. 6.
Next: Chapter X. Being about to prove that the will, the calling, and the commandment of the Trinity is one, St. Ambrose shows that the Spirit called the Church exactly as the Father and the Son did, and proves this by the selection of SS. Paul and Barnabas, and especially by the mission of St. Peter to Cornelius. And by the way he points out how in the Apostle's vision the calling of the Gentiles was shadowed forth, who having been before like wild beasts, now by the operation of the Spirit lay aside that wildness. Then having quoted other passages in support of this view, he shows that in the case of Jeremiah cast into a pit by Jews, and rescued by Abdemelech, is a type of the slighting of the Holy Spirit by the Jews, and of His being honoured by the Gentiles.
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