Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter II. Since it has been proved that the Son is true God, and in that is not inferior to the Father, it is shown that by the word solus (alone) when used of the Father in the Scriptures, the Son is not excluded; nay, that this expression befits Him above all, and Him alone. The Trinity is alone, not amongst all, but above all. The Son alone does what the Father does, and alone has immortality. But we must not for this reason separate Him from the Father in our controversies. We may, however, understand that passage of the Incarnation. Lastly the Father is shut out from a share in the redemption of men by those who would have the Son to be separated from Him.
Since it has been proved that the Son is true God, and in that is not inferior to the Father, it is shown that by the word solus (alone) when used of the Father in the Scriptures, the Son is not excluded; nay, that this expression befits Him above all, and Him alone. The Trinity is alone, not amongst all, but above all. The Son alone does what the Father does, and alone has immortality. But we must not for this reason separate Him from the Father in our controversies. We may, however, understand that passage of the Incarnation. Lastly the Father is shut out from a share in the redemption of men by those who would have the Son to be separated from Him.
27. We have fully demonstrated by passages of Scripture, in the earlier books, that Christ is true, yea, very true God. Therefore if Christ, as it has been taught, is true God, let us enquire why they desire to separate the Son from the Father, when they read that the Father is the only true God.
p. 288 28. If they say that the Father alone is true God, they cannot deny that God the Son alone is the Truth; for Christ is the Truth. Is the Truth then something inferior to Him that is true, seeing that according to the use of terms a man is called true from the word “truth,” as also wise from wisdom, just from justice? We do not deem it so between the Father and the Son. For there is nothing wanting to the Father, because the Father is full of truth; and the Son, because He is the Truth, is equal to Him that is true.
29. But that they may know, when they see the word “alone,” that the Son is in no wise to be separated from the Father, let them remember it was said by God in the Prophets: “I stretched forth the heavens alone.” 2546 The Father certainly did not stretch them forth without the Son. For the Son Himself, Who is the Wisdom of God, says: “When He prepared the heavens I was present with Him.” 2547 And Paul declares that it was said of the Son: “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy hands.” 2548 Whether therefore the Son made the heavens, as also the Apostle would have it understood, whilst He Himself certainly did not alone spread out the heavens without the Father; or as it stands in the Book of Proverbs: “The Lord in wisdom hath founded the earth, in understanding hath He prepared the heavens;” 2549 it is proved that neither the Father made the heavens alone without the Son, nor yet the Son without the Father. And yet He who spread out the heavens is said to be alone.
30. To show indeed how plainly we must understand the expression “alone” of the Son (although we may never believe that He did anything without the knowledge of the Father), we have here also another passage, where it is written: “Which alone spreadeth out the heavens, and walketh as it were on a pavement over the sea.” 2550 For the Gospel of the Lord has taught us that it was not the Father but the Son that walked upon the sea, when Peter asked Him, saying, “Lord, bid me come unto Thee.” 2551 But even prophecy itself gives proof of this. For holy Job prophesied of the coming of the Lord; of Whom he said in truth that He would vanquish the great Leviathan, 2552 and it was done. For that dread Leviathan that is, the devil, He smote, and struck down, and laid low in the last times by the adorable Passion of His own Body. 2553
31. The Son therefore is only and true God for this also is assigned to the Son as His sole right. For of no created being can it be accurately said that he is alone. How can he to whom fellowship in creation belongs be separated from the rest, as though he were alone? Thus man is seen to be a rational being amongst all earthly creatures, yet he is not the only rational being; for we know that the heavenly works of God also are rational, we confess that angels and archangels are rational beings. If then the angels are rational, man cannot be said to be the only rational being.
32. But they say that the sun can be said to be alone, because there is no second sun. But the sun himself has many things in common with the stars, for he travels across the heavens, he is of that ethereal and heavenly substance, he is a creature, and is reckoned amongst all the works of God. He serves God in union with all, blesses Him with all, praises Him with all. 2554 Therefore he cannot accurately be said to be alone, for he is not set apart from the rest.
33. Wherefore since no created being can be compared with the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Which is alone, not amongst all, but over all (our declaration concerning the Spirit being meanwhile held back); as the Father is said to be the only true God, because He has nothing in common with others; so also is the Son alone the Image of the true God, He alone is the Hand of the Father, He alone is the Virtue and Wisdom of God.
34. Thus the Son alone does what the Father does; for it is written: “Whatsoever things I do, He doth.” 2555 And since the work of the Father and of the Son is one, it is well said of the Father and the Son, that God worked alone; wherefore also when we speak of the Creator, we own both the Father and the Son. For assuredly when Paul said, “Who served the creature more than the Creator,” 2556 he neither denied the Father to be the Creator, from Whom are all these things, nor yet the Son, through Whom are all things. 2557
35. And it does not seem out of agreement with this that it is written: “Who alone hath immortality.” 2558 For how could He not have immortality Who has life in Himself? He has it in His nature; He has it in His essential Being; and He has it not as a temporal p. 289 grace, but owing to His eternal Godhead. He has it not by way of a gift as a servant, but by peculiar right of His Generation, as the co-eternal Son. He has it, too, as has the Father. “For as the Father hath life in Himself, so also hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” 2559 As He has it, it says, so He has given it. Thou hast learnt already how He gave it, 2560 that thou mayest not think it to be a free gift of grace, when it is a secret of His generation. Since, then, there is no divergence of life between the Father and the Son, how can it be supposed that the Father alone has immortality, whilst the Son has it not?
36. Wherefore let them understand that in this passage the Son is not to be separated from the Father, Who is the only true God. For they cannot prove that the Son is not the only and true God, especially as here also it may be gathered, as I have said, that Christ too is true and only God; or the passage may at least be understood partly in reference to the Godhead of the Father and the Son, and partly to the Incarnation of Christ: for knowledge is not perfect unless it confesses Jesus Christ from eternity to be only-begotten God, true Son of God, and, according to the flesh, begotten of a Virgin. Which also this very Evangelist has taught us elsewhere, saying: “Every spirit that confesseth that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh, is of God.” 2561
37. Lastly, the whole of our passage teaches us that it is not improper in this verse to understand a reference to the sacrament of the Incarnation. For thus it is written: “Father, the hour is come, glorify Thy Son.” 2562 When, therefore, He states that the hour is come, and prays to be glorified, how can one suppose Him to have spoken but only in accordance with the assumption of our flesh? For the Godhead has no fixed moments of time, nor does eternal light stand in need of glorification. Therefore in the only true God, Who is the Father, we also understand the only true Son of God to be in accordance with the unity of the Godhead. And in the name of Jesus Christ, which He received when born of the Virgin, we acknowledge the sacrament of the Incarnation.
38. But if they wish to separate the Son, when they read that the Father is the only true God, I suppose that when they read of the Incarnation of the Son: “This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner;” and further: “There is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved;” 2563 then they imagine the Father is to be cut off from the benefit of imparting salvation to us. But there is neither salvation without the Father, nor eternal life without the Son.
Isa. xliv. 24.288:2547
Prov. viii. 27.288:2548
Heb. 1:10, Ps. 102:25.288:2549
Prov. iii. 19.288:2550
Job ix. 8.288:2551
S. Matt. xiv. 28.288:2552
Job xli. 8.288:2553
Isa. xxvii. 1.288:2554
Ps. cxlviii. 3.288:2555
S. John v. 19.288:2556
Rom. i. 25.288:2557
Rom. xi. 36.288:2558
1 Tim. vi. 16.289:2559
S. John v. 26.289:2560
De Fide, iv. 6.289:2561
1 John iv. 2.289:2562
S. John xvii. 1.289:2563
Acts 4:11, 12.
Next: Chapter III. To the objection of the Arians, that two Gods are introduced by a unity of substance, the answer is that a plurality of Gods is more likely to be inferred from diversity of substance. Further, their charge recoils upon themselves. Manifold diversity is the reason why two men cannot be said to be one man, though all men are called individually man, where a unity of nature is referred to. There is one nature alone in them, but there is wholly a unity in the Divine Persons. Therefore the Son is not to be severed from the Father, especially as they dare not deny that worship is due to Him.
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