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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XV. St. Ambrose deprecates any praise of his own merits: in any case, the Faith is sufficiently defended by the authoritative support of holy Scripture, to whose voice the Arians, stubborn as the Jews, are deaf. He prays that they may be moved to love the truth; meanwhile, they are to be avoided, as heretics and enemies of Christ.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XV.

St. Ambrose deprecates any praise of his own merits: in any case, the Faith is sufficiently defended by the authoritative support of holy Scripture, to whose voice the Arians, stubborn as the Jews, are deaf. He prays that they may be moved to love the truth; meanwhile, they are to be avoided, as heretics and enemies of Christ.

129. These arguments, your Majesty, I have set forth, briefly and summarily, in the rough, rather than in any form of full explanation and exact order. If indeed the Arians regard them as imperfect and unfinished, I indeed confess that they are scarce even begun; if they think that there be any still to be brought forward, I allow that there be well-nigh all; for whereas the unbelievers are in uttermost need of arguments, the faithful have enough and to spare. Indeed, Peter’s single confession was abundant to warrant faith in Christ: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;” 2077 for it is enough to know His Divine Generation, without division or diminution, being neither derivation nor creation. 2078

130. This, indeed, is declared in the books of Holy Writ, one and all, and yet is still doubted by misbelievers: “For,” as it is written, “the heart of this people is become gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes have they darkened, lest ever they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand in their heart.” 2079 For, like the Jews, the Arians’ wont is to stop their ears, or make an uproar, as often as the Word of salvation is heard.

131. And what wonder, if unbelievers doubt the word of man, when they refuse to believe the Word of God? The Son of God, as you will find it written in the Gospel, said: “Father, glorify Thy Name,” and from heaven was heard the voice of the Father, saying: “I have both glorified it, and again will glorify.” 2080 These words the unbelievers heard, but believed not. The Son spake, the Father answered, and the Jews said: “A peal of thunder answered Him;” others said: “An angel spake to Him.” 2081

132. Paul, moreover, as it is written in the Acts of the Apostles, 2082 when by the Voice of Christ he received the call of grace, several companions journeying with him at the same time, alone said that he had heard Christ’s Voice. Thus, your sacred Majesty, he who believes, hears—and he hears, that he may believe, whilst he who believes not, hears not, nay, he will not, he cannot hear, lest he should believe!

133. As for me, indeed, would that they might have a will to hear, that they might believe—to hear with true love and meekness, as men seeking what is true, and not assailing all truth. For it is written that we pay no heed to “endless fables and genealogies, which do rather raise disputes than set forward the godly edification, which is in faith. But the aim of the charge is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, whence some have erred and betaken themselves to empty babbling, desirous of being teachers p. 241 of the law, without understanding the words they say, nor the things whereof they speak with assurance.” 2083 In another place also the same Apostle saith: “But foolish and ignorant questionings do thou avoid.” 2084

134. Such men, who sow disputes—that is to say, heretics—the Apostle bids us leave alone. Of them he says in yet another place, that “certain shall depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits, and the doctrines of devils.” 2085

135. John, likewise, saith that heretics are Antichrists, 2086 plainly marking out the Arians. For this [Arian] heresy began to be after all other heresies, and hath gathered the poisons of all. As it is written of the Antichrist, that “he opened his mouth to blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His Name, and to make war with His saints,” 2087 so do they also dishonour the Son of God, and His martyrs have they not spared. Moreover, that which perchance Antichrist will not do, they have falsified the holy Scriptures. And thus he who saith that Jesus is not the Christ, the same is Antichrist; he who denies the Saviour of the world, denies Jesus; he who denies the Son, denies the Father also, for it is written; “Every one which denieth the Son, denieth the Father likewise.” 2088



S. Matt. 16:16, Mark 8:30. Cf. Peter’s other confession, S. John vi. 69, and Martha’s confession in S. John xi. 27.


“Without division or diminution,” i.e. the generation of the Son entails no division or partition of the Godhead, still less any diminution of it. The Father is none the less God. His Godhead loses nothing by His begetting His Eternal Son. Some manuscripts have “demutatam” instead of “deminutam” here—i.e. “changed” for “diminished.” Certainly the begetting of the Son can make no change whatever in the Being of the Father, for the Divine Generation is “from everlasting to everlasting,” and is necessarily implied in the very Fatherhood, the personal essence of the Father. Hurter quotes St. Hilary, De Trin. 6, 10. “The Church knows of no apportionment made to the Son, but knows Him as perfect God of perfect God, as One begotten of One, not shorn off from Him, but born: she knows the Nativity to entail no diminution of Him Who begets, nor weakness in Him Who is born.” The fact is a spiritual relation, metaphysical in the highest sense, transcending our intelligence, and only to be apprehended by faith, simply as a fact—as the ἀρχή, or principle, which is sufficient for us. The “how” we must wait to have revealed to us hereafter, if we shall ever be able to receive it.


Isa. vi. 10.


S. John xii. 28.


S. John xii. 29.


Acts xxii. 9.


1 Tim. i. 4 ff.


2 Tim. ii. 23.


1 Tim. iv. 1.


1 John ii. 18 ff.


Rev. xiii. 6.


1 John ii. 23.

Next: Chapter XVI. St. Ambrose assures Gratian of victory, declaring that it has been foretold in the prophecies of Ezekiel. This hope is further stayed upon the emperor's piety, the former disasters being the punishment of Eastern heresy. The book closes with a prayer to God, that He will now show His mercy, and save the army, the land, and the sovereign of the faithful.

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