Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XII. Do the Catholics or the Arians take the better course to assure themselves of the favour of Christ as their Judge? An objection grounded on Ps. cx. 1 is disposed of, it being shown that when the Son is invited by the Father to sit at His right hand, no subjection is intended to be signified--nor yet any preferment, in that the Son sits at the Father's right hand. The truth of the Trinity of Persons in God, and of the Unity of their Nature, is shown to be proved by the angelic Trisagion.
Do the Catholics or the Arians take the better course to assure themselves of the favour of Christ as their Judge? An objection grounded on Ps. cx. 1 is disposed of, it being shown that when the Son is invited by the Father to sit at His right hand, no subjection is intended to be signified—nor yet any preferment, in that the Son sits at the Fathers right hand. The truth of the Trinity of Persons in God, and of the Unity of their Nature, is shown to be proved by the angelic Trisagion.
100. Howbeit, if our adversaries cannot be turned by kindness, let us summon them before the Judge. To what Judge, then, shall we go? Surely to Him Who hath the Judgment. To the Father, then? Nay, but “the Father judgeth no man, for He hath given all judgment to the Son.” 2049 He hath given, that is to say, not as of largess, but in the act of generation. See, then, how unwilling He was that thou shouldst dishonour His Son—even so that He gave Him to be thy Judge.
101. Let us see, then, before the judgment which hath the better cause, thou or I? Surely it is the care of a prudent party to a suit to gain first the favourable regard of the judge. Thou dost honour man,—dost thou not honour God? Which of the two, I ask, wins the favour of the magistrate—respect or contempt? Suppose that I am in error—as I certainly am not: is Christ displeased with the honour shown Him? We are all sinners—who, then, will deserve forgiveness, he who renders worship, or he who displays insolence?
102. If reasoning move thee not, at least let the plain aspect of the judgment move thee! Raise thine eyes to the Judge, see Who it is that is seated, with Whom He is seated, and where. Christ sitteth at the right hand of the Father. If with thine eyes thou canst not perceive this, hear the words of the prophet: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on My right hand.” 2050 The Son, therefore, sitteth at the right hand of the Father. Tell me now, thou who holdest that the things of God are to be judged of from the things of this world—say whether thou thinkest Him Who sits at the right hand to be lower? Is it any dishonour to the Father that He sits at the Sons left hand? The Father honours the Son, and thou makest it to be insult! The Father would have this invitation to be a sign of love and esteem, and thou wouldst make it an overlords command! Christ hath risen from the dead, and sitteth at the right hand of God.
103. “But,” you object, “the Father said.” Good, hear now a passage where the Father doth not speak, and the Son prophesies: “Hereafter ye shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power.” 2051 This He said with regard to taking back to Himself His body—to Him 2052 the Father said: “Sit Thou at My right hand.” If indeed you ask of the eternal abode of the Godhead, He said—when Pilate asked Him whether He were the King of the Jews—“For this I was born.” 2053 And so indeed the Apostle shows that it is good for us to believe that Christ sitteth at the right hand of God, not by command, nor of any boon, but as Gods most dearly beloved Son. For it is written for you: “Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God; savour the things that are above.” 2054 This is to savour the things that be above—to believe that Christ, in His sitting, does not obey as one who receives a command, but is honoured as the well-beloved Son. It is with regard, then, to Christs Body that the Father saith: “Sit Thou at My right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.”
104. If, again, you seek to pervert the sense of these words, “I will make Thine enemies Thy footstool,” I answer that the Father also bringeth to the Son such as the Son raiseth up and quickeneth. For “No man,” saith Christ, “can come to Me, except the Father, Which hath sent Me, draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day.” 2055 And you say that the Son of God is subject p. 238 by reason of weakness—the Son, to Whom the Father bringeth men that He may raise them up in the last day. Seemeth this in your eyes to be subjection, I pray you, where the kingdom is prepared for the Father, and the Father bringeth to the Son and there is no place for perversion of words, since the Son giveth the kingdom to the Father, and none is preferred before Him? 2056 For inasmuch as the Father rendereth to the Son, and the Son, again, to the Father, here are plain proofs of love and regard: seeing that They so render, the One to the Other, that neither He Who receiveth obtaineth as it were what was anothers, nor He That rendereth loseth.
105. Moreover, the sitting at the right hand is no preferment, nor doth that at the left hand betoken dishonour, for there are no degrees in the Godhead, Which is bound by no limits of space or time, which are the weights and measures of our puny human minds. There is no difference of love, nothing that divideth the Unity.
106. But wherefore roam so far afield? Thou hast looked upon all around thee, thou hast seen the Judge, thou hast remarked the angels proclaiming Him. They praise, and thou revilest Him! Dominations and powers fall down before Him—thou speakest evil of His Name! All His Saints adore Him, but the Son of God adores not, nor the Holy Spirit. The seraphim say: “Holy, Holy, Holy!” 2057
107. What meaneth this threefold utterance of the same name “Holy”? If thrice repeated, why is it but one act of praise? If one act of praise, why a threefold repetition? Why the threefold repetition, unless that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one in holiness? The seraph spake the name, not once, lest he should exclude the Son; not twice, lest he should pass by the Holy Spirit; not four times, lest he should conjoin created beings [in the praise of the Creator]. Furthermore, to show that the Godhead of the Trinity is One, he, after the threefold “Holy,” added in the singular number “the Lord God of Sabaoth.” Holy, therefore, is the Father, holy the Son, holy likewise the Spirit of God, and therefore is the Trinity adored, but adores not, and is praised, but praises not. As for me, I will rather believe as the seraphim, and adore after the manner of all the principalities and powers of heaven.
S. John v. 22.237:2050
Ps. cx. 1.237:2051
S. Matt. xxvi. 64.237:2052
i.e. to the risen Christ. Eph. i. 20.237:2053
St. Ambroses words are: “In hoc sum natus.” It is possible that St. Ambrose understands “in hoc” as meaning “ὧδε,” “here;” sc. “at Gods right hand.”237:2054
Col. iii. 2.237:2055
S. John vi. 44.238:2056
This prerogative—viz. of sitting at the right hand of the Father—in itself is sufficient to exclude any dishonourable suspicion that the Son is a subject and servant. (Hurter.)238:2057
Isa. vi. 3.
Next: Chapter XIII. The wicked and dishonourable opinions held by Arians, Sabellians, and Manichæans as concerning their Judge are shortly refuted. Christ's remonstrances regarding the rest of His adversaries being set forth, St. Ambrose expresses a hope of milder judgment for himself.
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