Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XIX. The Saint having turned to God the Father, explains why he does not deride that the Son is inferior to the Father, then he declares it is not for him to measure the Son of God, since it was given to an angel--nay, perhaps even to Christ as man--to measure merely Jerusalem. Arius, he says, has shown himself to be an imitator of Satan. It is a rash thing to hold discussions on the divine Generation. Since so great a sign of human generation has been given by Isaiah, we ought not to make comparisons in divine things. Lastly he shows how carefully we ought to avoid the pride of Arius, by putting before us various examples of Scriptures.
The Saint having turned to God the Father, explains why he does not deride that the Son is inferior to the Father, then he declares it is not for him to measure the Son of God, since it was given to an angel—nay, perhaps even to Christ as man—to measure merely Jerusalem. Arius, he says, has shown himself to be an imitator of Satan. It is a rash thing to hold discussions on the divine Generation. Since so great a sign of human generation has been given by Isaiah, we ought not to make comparisons in divine things. Lastly he shows how carefully we ought to avoid the pride of Arius, by putting before us various examples of Scriptures.
227. To Thee now, Almighty Father, do I direct my words with tears. I indeed have readily called Thee inapproachable, incomprehensible, inestimable; but I dared not say Thy Son was inferior to Thyself. For when I read that He is the Brightness of Thy glory, and the Image of Thy Person, 2814 I fear lest, in saying that the Image of Thy Person is inferior, I should seem to say that Thy Person is inferior, of which the Son is the Image; for the fulness of Thy Godhead is wholly in the Son. I have often read, I freely believe, that Thou and Thy Son and the Holy Spirit are boundless, unmeasurable, inestimable, ineffable. And therefore I cannot appraise Thee so as to weigh Thee.
228. But be it so, that I desired with a daring and rash spirit to measure Thee? From whence, I ask, shall I measure Thee? The prophet saw a line of flax with which the angel measured Jerusalem. An angel was measuring, not Arius. And he was measuring Jerusalem, not God. And perchance even an angel could not measure Jerusalem, for it was a man. Thus it is written: “I raised mine eyes and saw and beheld a man, and in his hand there was a p. 314 line of flax.” 2815 He was a man, for a type of the body that was to be assumed was thus shown. He was a man, of whom it was said: “There cometh a man after me, Whose shoes latchet I am not worthy to unloose.” 2816 Therefore Christ in a type measures Jerusalem. Arius measures God.
229. Even Satan transforms himself into an angel of light; 2817 what wonder then if Arius imitates his Author in taking upon himself what is forbidden? Though his father the devil did it not in his own case, that man with intolerable blasphemy assumes to himself the knowledge of divine secrets and the mysteries of the heavenly Generation. For the devil confessed the true Son of God, Arius denies Him.
230. If, then, I cannot measure Thee, Almighty Father, can I without blasphemy discuss the secrets of Thy Generation? Can I say there is anything more or less between Thee and Thy Son when He Himself Who was begotten of Thee, says: “All things which the Father hath are Mine.” 2818 Who has made Me a judge and a divider of human affairs? This the Son says, 2819 and do we claim to make a division and to give judgment between the Father and the Son? A right feeling of duty avoids arbiters even in the division of an inheritance. And shall we become arbiters, to divide between Thee and Thy Son the glory of the uncreated Substance?
231. “This generation,” it says, “is an evil generation. It seeketh a sign, and there shall no sign be given it, but the sign of Jonas the prophet.” 2820 A sign of the Godhead then is not given, but only of the Incarnation. Thus when about to speak of the Incarnation the prophet says: “Ask thee a sign.” And when the king had said: “I will not ask, neither will I tempt the Lord,” the answer was: “Behold a Virgin shall conceive.” 2821 Therefore we cannot see a sign of the Godhead, and do we seek a measure of it? Alas! woe is me! we impiously dare to discuss Him, to Whom we cannot worthily pray!
232. Let the Arians see to what they do. I have unlawfully compared Thee, O Father, with Thy works in saying that Thou art greater than all. If greater than Thy Son, as Arius maintains, I have judged wickedly. Concerning Thee first will that judgment be. For no choice can be made except by comparison, nor can anyone be put before another without a decision being first given on Himself.
233. It is not lawful for us to swear by heaven, but it is lawful to judge about God. Yet Thou hast given to Thy Son alone judgment over all.
234. John feared to baptize the flesh of the Lord, John forbade Him, saying: “I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?” 2822 And shall I bring Christ under my judgment?
235. Moses excuses himself from the Priesthood, Peter is for avoiding the obedience demanded in the Ministry; and does Arius examine even the deep things of God? But Arius is not the Holy Spirit. Nay, it was said even to Arius and to all men: “Seek not that which is too deep for thee.” 2823
236. Moses is prevented from seeing the face of God; 2824 Arius merited to see it in secret. Moses and Aaron among His Priests. Moses who appeared with the Lord in glory, that Moses then saw only the back parts of God in appearance; Arius beholds God wholly face to face! But “no one,” it says, “can see My face and live.” 2825
237. Paul also speaks of inferior beings: “We know in part and we prophesy in part.” 2826 Arius says: “I know God altogether and not in part.” Thus Paul is inferior to Arius, and the vessel of election knows in part, but the vessel of perdition knows wholly. “I know,” he says, “a man, whether in the body or out of the body, I cannot tell, God knoweth, how he was caught up into Paradise and heard unspeakable words.” 2827 Paul carried up to the third heaven, knew not himself; Arius rolling in filth, knows God. Paul says of himself: “God knows;” Arius says of God: “I know.”
238. But Arius was not caught up to heaven, although he followed him who with accursed boastfulness presumed on what was divine, saying: “I will set my throne upon the clouds; I will be like the Most High.” 2828 For as he said: “I will be like the Most High,” so too Arius wishes the Most High Son of God to seem like himself, Whom he does not worship in the eternal glory of His Godhead, but measures by the weakness of the flesh.
Heb. i. 3.314:2815
Ezek. xl. 3.314:2816
S. John i. 27.314:2817
2 Cor. xi. 14.314:2818
S. John xvi. 15.314:2819
S. Luke xii. 14.314:2820
S. Luke xi. 29.314:2821
Isa. vii. 11 ff.314:2822
S. Matt. iii. 4.314:2823
Ex. xxxiii. 23.314:2825
Ex. xxxiii. 20.314:2826
1 Cor. xiii. 9.314:2827
2 Cor. 13:3, 4.314:2828
Isa. xiv. 14.
Next: On the Mysteries.
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