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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter VII. Solomon's words, “The Lord created Me,” etc., mean that Christ's Incarnation was done for the redemption of the Father's creation, as is shown by the Son's own words. That He is the “beginning” may be understood from the visible proofs of His virtuousness, and it is shown how the Lord opened the ways of all virtues, and was their true beginning.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter VII.

Solomon’s words, “The Lord created Me,” etc., mean that Christ’s Incarnation was done for the redemption of the Father’s creation, as is shown by the Son’s own words. That He is the “beginning” may be understood from the visible proofs of His virtuousness, and it is shown how the Lord opened the ways of all virtues, and was their true beginning.

46. Hereby we are brought to understand that the prophecy of the Incarnation, “The Lord created me the beginning of His ways for His works,” 2194 means that the Lord Jesus was created of the Virgin for the redeeming of the Father’s works. Truly, we cannot doubt that this is spoken of the mystery of the Incarnation, forasmuch as the Lord took upon Him our flesh, in order to save the works of His hands from the slavery of corruption, so that He might, by the sufferings of His own body, overthrow him who had the power of death. For Christ’s flesh is for the sake of things created, but His Godhead existed before them, seeing that He is before all things, whilst all things exist together in Him. 2195

47. His Godhead, then, is not by reason of creation, but creation exists because of the Godhead; even as the Apostle showed, saying that all things exist because of the Son of God, for we read as follows: “But it was fitting that He, through Whom and because of Whom are all things, after bringing many sons to glory, should, as Captain of their salvation, be made perfect through suffering.” 2196 Has he not plainly declared that the Son of God, Who, by reason of His Godhead, was the Creator of all, did in after time, for the salvation of His people, submit to the taking on of the flesh and the suffering of death?

48. Now for the sake of what works the Lord was “created” of a virgin, He Himself, whilst healing the blind man, has shown, saying: “In Him must I work the works of Him that sent Me.” 2197 Furthermore He said in the same Scripture, that we might believe Him to speak of the Incarnation: “As long as I am in this world, I am the Light of this world,” 2198 for, so far as He is man, He is in this world for a season, but as God He exists at all times. In another place, too, He says: “Lo, I am with you even unto the end of the world.” 2199

49. Nor is there any room for questioning with respect to “the beginning,” seeing that when, during His earthly life, He was asked, “Who art Thou?” He answered: “The beginning, even as I tell you.” 2200 This refers not only to the essential nature of the eternal Godhead, but also to the visible proofs of virtues, for hereby hath He proved Himself the eternal God, in that He is the beginning of all things, and the Author of each several virtue, in that He is the Head of the Church, as it is written: “Because He is the Head of the Body, of the Church; 2201 Who is the beginning, first-begotten from the dead.” 2202

50. It is clear, then, that the words “bep. 250 ginning of His ways,” which, as it seems, we must refer to the mystery of the putting on of His body, are a prophecy of the Incarnation. For Christ’s purpose in the Incarnation was to pave for us the road to heaven. Mark how He says: “I go up to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.” 2203 Then, to give you to know that the Almighty Father appointed His ways to the Son, after the Incarnation, 2204 you have in Zechariah the words of the angel speaking to Joshua clothed in filthy garments: “Thus saith the Lord Almighty: If thou wilt walk in My ways and observe My precepts.” 2205 What is the meaning of that filthy garb save the putting on of the flesh?

51. Now the ways of the Lord are, we may say, certain courses taken in a good life, guided by Christ, Who says, “I am the Way, and the Truth, and the Life.” 2206 The way, then, is the surpassing power of God, for Christ, is our way, and a good way, too, is He, a way which hath opened the kingdom of heaven to believers. 2207 Moreover, the ways of the Lord are straight, as it is written: “Make Thy ways known unto me, O Lord.” 2208 Chastity is a way, faith is a way, abstinence is a way. There is, indeed, a way of virtue, and there is a way of wickedness; for it is written: “And see if there be any way of wickedness in me.” 2209

52. Christ, then, is the beginning of our virtue. He is the beginning of purity, Who taught maidens not to look for the embraces of men, 2210 but to yield the purity of their bodies and minds to the service of the Holy Spirit rather than to a husband. Christ is the beginning of frugality, for He became poor, though He was rich. 2211 Christ is the beginning of patience, for when He was reviled, He reviled not again, when He was struck, He did not strike back. Christ is the beginning of humility, for He took the form of a servant, though in the majesty of His power He was equal with God the Father. 2212 From Him each several virtue has taken its origin.

53. For this cause, then, that we might learn these divers virtues, “a Son was given us, Whose beginning was upon His shoulder.” 2213 That “beginning” is the Lord’s Cross—the beginning of strong courage, wherewith a way has been opened for the holy martyrs to enter the sufferings of the Holy War.


Footnotes

249:2194

Prov. viii. 22.

249:2195

Col. i. 16.

249:2196

Heb. ii. 10.

249:2197

S. John ix. 4. “In him” is, in our Bible, attached to the preceding verse.

249:2198

S. John ix. 5.

249:2199

S. Matt. xxviii. 20.

249:2200

S. John viii. 25. St. Ambrose’s words: “Principium quod et loquor vobis.

249:2201

Col. i. 18.

249:2202

Cf. Eph. 4:15, 16.

250:2203

S. John xx. 17.

250:2204

secundum incarnationem,” “as a result of the Incarnation.”

250:2205

Zech. iii. 7.

250:2206

S. John xiv. 6.

250:2207

Cf. the “Te Deum,” ver. 17.

250:2208

Ps. xxv. 4.

250:2209

Ps. cxxxix. 24.

250:2210

Cf. 1 Cor. 7:29, 34. It seems unwarrantable to suppose a reference to 2 Cor. xi. 2.

250:2211

1 Cor. viii. 9.

250:2212

1 Pet. 2:23, Phil. 2:7.

250:2213

Isa. ix. 6. St. Ambrose’ version is “Filius datus est nobis, cujus principium super humeros ejus.”


Next: Chapter VIII. The prophecy of Christ's Godhead and Manhood, contained in the verse of Isaiah just now cited, is unfolded, and its force in refuting various heresies demonstrated.

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