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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter II. The incidents properly affecting the body which Christ for our sake took upon Him are not to be accounted to His Godhead, in respect whereof He is the Most Highest. To deny which is to say that the Father was incarnate. When we read that God is one, and that there is none other beside Him, or that He alone has immortality, this must be understood as true of Christ also, not only to avoid the sinful heresy above-mentioned (Patripassianism), but also because the activity of the Father and the Son is declared to be one and the same.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter II.

The incidents properly affecting the body which Christ for our sake took upon Him are not to be accounted to His Godhead, in respect whereof He is the Most Highest. To deny which is to say that the Father was incarnate. When we read that God is one, and that there is none other beside Him, or that He alone has immortality, this must be understood as true of Christ also, not only to avoid the sinful heresy above-mentioned (Patripassianism), but also because the activity of the Father and the Son is declared to be one and the same.

7. It was a bodily weakness, then, that is to say, a weakness of ours, that He hungered; when He wept, and was sorrowful even unto death, it was of our nature. Why ascribe the properties and incidents of our nature to the Godhead? That He was even, as we are told, “made,” is a property of a body. Thus, indeed, we read: “Sion our mother shall say: ‘He is a man,’ and in her He was made man, and the Most High Himself laid her foundations.” 2108 “He was made man,” mark you, not “He was made God.” 2109

8. But what is He Who is at once the Most High and man, what but “the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus Who gave Himself as a ransom for us”? 2110 This place indeed refers properly to His Incarnation, for our redemption was made by His Blood, our pardon comes through His Power, our life is secured through His Grace. He gives as the Most High, He prays as man. The one is the office of the Creator, the other of a Redeemer. Be the gifts as distinct as they may, yet the Giver is one, for it was fitting 2111 that our Maker should be our Redeemer.

9. Who indeed can deny that we have plain evidence that Christ is the Most High? He who knows otherwise makes the sacrament of Incarnation to be the work of God the Father. 2112 But that Christ is the Most High is removed beyond doubt by what Scripture hath said in another place, concerning the mystery of the Passion: “The Most High sent forth His Voice, and the earth was shaken.” 2113 And in the Gospel you may read: “And thou, child, shalt be called the Prophet of the Highest; for thou shalt go before the face of the Lord, to prepare His ways.” 2114 Who is “the Highest”? The Son of God. He, then, Who is the Most High God is Christ.

10. Again, whilst God is everywhere said to be One God, the Son of God is not separated from this Unity. For He Who is the p. 244 Most High is alone, as it is written: “And let them know that Thy Name is the Lord: Thou alone art Most High over all the earth.” 2115

11. And so the adversaries’ injurious conclusion is rejected with contempt and disgrace, which they drew from the Scripture speaking of God: “Who alone hath immortality and dwelleth in light unapproachable;” 2116 for these words are written of God, which Name belongs equally to Father and to Son.

12. If, indeed, wheresoever they read the Name of God, they deny that there is any thought of the Son [as well as the Father], they blaspheme, inasmuch as they deny the Son’s Divine Sovereignty, and they shall appear as though they shared the sinful error of the Sabellians in teaching the Incarnation of the Father. Let them, indeed explain how they can fail to interpret in a sense blasphemous to the Father the words of the Apostle: “In Whom ye did also rise again, by faith in the working of God, Who raised Him from the dead.” 2117 Let them also take warning from what follows of what they are running upon—for this is what comes after: “And though ye were dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He quickened us with Him, pardoning us all our offences, blotting out the handwriting of the Ordinance, which was opposed to us, and removed it from our midst, nailing it to His Cross, divesting Himself of the flesh.” 2118

13. We are not, then, to suppose that the Father Who raised the flesh is alone [God]; nor, again, are we to suppose the like of the Son, Whose Body 2119 was raised again. He Who raised, did surely also quicken; and He who quickened, also pardoned sins; He who pardoned sins, also blotted out the handwriting; He Who blotted out the handwriting, also nailed it to the Cross: He who nailed it to the Cross, divested Himself of the flesh. But it was not the Father Who divested Himself of the flesh; for not the Father, but, as we read, the Word was made flesh. 2120 You see, then, that the Arians, in dividing the Father from the Son, run into danger of saying that the Father endured the Passion.

14. We, however, can easily show that the words treat of the Son’s action, for the Son Himself indeed raised His own Body again, as He Himself said: “Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it again.” 2121 And He Himself quickens us together with His Body: “For as the Father raiseth the dead and quickeneth them, so also the Son quickeneth Whom He will.” 2122 And He Himself hath granted forgiveness for sins, saying, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” 2123 He too hath nailed the handwriting of the record to His Cross, in that He was crucified, and suffered in the body. Nor did any divest Himself of the flesh, save the Son of God, Who invested Himself therewith. He, therefore, Who hath achieved the work of our resurrection is plainly pointed out to be very God.


Footnotes

243:2108

Ps. lxxxvii. 5. The R.V. renders “Yea, of Zion it shall be said, This one and that one was born in her.” The verse is rather prophetic of the universality of Christ’s Church than of the Incarnation.

243:2109

He could not “be made” God if we use the Name “God” in its proper sense, but St. Ambrose probably had in his mind the sense which the Arians attached to the name, as applicable to the Son. According to them, it was a sort of “courtesy-title.”

243:2110

1 Tim. ii. 5.

243:2111

Cf. Anselm. “Cur Deus Homo?” I. 5; II. 6.

243:2112

The Incarnation was a sacrament, being the outward visible sign of the divine love.

243:2113

Ps. 18:7, 14.

243:2114

S. Luke i. 76.

244:2115

Ps. lxxxiii. 18.

244:2116

1 Tim. vi. 16.

244:2117

Col. ii. 12.

244:2118

Col. ii. 13-14.

244:2119

“Body”—in the orig. “templum.” Cf. 1 Cor. vi. 19.

244:2120

S. John i. 14.

244:2121

S. John ii. 19.

244:2122

S. John v. 21.

244:2123

S. Luke v. 20.


Next: Chapter III. That the Father and the Son must not be divided is proved by the words of the Apostle, seeing that it is befitting to the Son that He should be blessed, only Potentate, and immortal, by nature, that is, and not by grace, as even the angels themselves are immortal, and that He should dwell in the unapproachable light. How it is that the Father and the Son are alike and equally said to be “alone.”

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