Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. XI:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Works of John Cassian.: Chapter III. Follows up the same argument with passages from the Old Testament.
Follows up the same argument with passages from the Old Testament.
But as there is an abundant supply of witnesses to the holy nativity; viz., all that has been on this account written, to hear witness to it, let us examine in some slight degree an announcement about God even in the Old Testament, that you may know that the fact that the birth of God was to be from a virgin was not only then announced when it actually came to pass, but had been foretold from the very beginning of the world, that, as the event to be brought about was ineffable, incredulity of the fact when actually present might be removed by its having been previously announced while still future. And so the prophet Isaiah says: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which is interpreted God with us.” 2396 What room is there here for doubt, you incredulous person? 2397 The prophet said that a virgin should conceive: a virgin has conceived: that a Son should be born: a Son has been born: that He should be called God: He is called God. For He is called by that name as being of that nature. Therefore when the Spirit of God said that He should be called God, He proved that He is without the Spirit of God who makes himself a stranger to all fellowship with the Divine title. “Behold then,” he says, “a virgin shall conceive and bear a Son, and they shall call His name Emmanuel, which is interpreted God with us.” But here is a point on which it is possible that your shuffling incredulity may fasten; viz., by saying that this which the prophet declared He should be called referred not to the glory of His Divinity, but to the name by which He should be addressed. But what are we to do because Christ is never spoken of by this name in the gospels, though the Spirit of God cannot be said to have spoken falsely through the prophet? How is it then? Surely that we should understand that that prophecy then foretold the name of His Divine nature and not of His humanity. For since in His manhood united to the Godhead 2398 He received another name p. 558 in the gospel, it is certainly clear that this name belonged to His humanity, that to His Divinity. But let us proceed further and summon other true witnesses to establish the truth: For where we are speaking about the Godhead, the Divinity cannot be better established than by His own witnesses. So then the same prophet says elsewhere: “For unto us a Son is born: unto us a child is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called the angel of great counsel, God the mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of peace.” 2399 Just as above the prophet had expressly said that He should be called Emmanuel, so here he says that He should be called “the angel of great counsel, and God the mighty, and the Father of the world to come and the prince of peace” (although we certainly never read that He was called by these names in the gospel): of course that we may understand that these are not terms belonging to His human, but to His Divine nature; and that the name used in the gospel belonged to the manhood which He took upon Him, 2400 and this one to His innate power. And because God was to be born in human form, these names were so distributed in the sacred economy, that to the manhood a human name was given and to the Divinity a Divine one. Therefore he says: “He shall be called the angel of great counsel, God the mighty, the Father of the world to come, the prince of peace.” Not, O heretic, whoever you may be, not that here the prophet, full as he was of the Holy Spirit, followed your example and compared Him who was born to a molten image and a figure fashioned without sense. 2401 For “a Son,” he says, “is born to us, a Child is given to us; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and His name shall be called the angel of great counsel, God the mighty.” And that you may not imagine Him whom He announced as God 2402 to be other than Him who was born in the flesh, he adds a term referring to His birth, saying: “A child is born to us: a son is given to us.” Do you see how many titles the prophet used to make clear the reality of His birth in the body? for he called Him both Son and child on purpose that the manner of the child which was born might be more clearly shown by a name referring to His infancy; and the Holy Spirit foreseeing without doubt this perversity of blasphemous heretics, showed to the whole world that it was God who was born, by the very terms and words used; that even if a heretic was determined to utter blasphemy, he might not find any loophole for his blasphemy. Therefore he says: “A Son is born to us; a child is given to us; and the government shall be upon His shoulder; and His name shall be called the angel of great counsel, God the mighty, the Father of the world to come, the prince of peace.” He teaches that this child which was born is both prince of peace and Father of the world to come and God the mighty. What room is there then for shuffling? This child which is born cannot be severed from God who is born in Him, for he called Him, whom he spoke of as born, Father of the world to come; Him whom he called a child, he foretold as God the mighty. What is it, O heretic? Whither will you betake yourself? Every place is hedged and shut in: there is no possibility of getting out of it. There is nothing for it but that you should at length be obliged to confess the mistake which you would not understand. But not content with these passages which are indeed enough let us inquire what the Holy Ghost said through another prophet. “Shall a man,” says he, “pierce his God, for you are piercing me?” 2403 In order that the subject of the prophecy might be still clearer the prophet foretells what he proclaimed of the Lords passion as if from the mouth of Him of whom he was speaking. “Shall a man pierce his God, for you are piercing me?” Does not our Lord God, I ask, seem to have said this when He was led to the Cross? Why indeed do you not acknowledge Me as your Redeemer? Why are ye ignorant of God clothed in flesh for you? Are you p. 559 preparing death for your Saviour? Are yon leading forth to death the Author of life? I am your God whom ye are lifting up: your God whom ye are crucifying. What mistake, I ask, is here or what madness is it? “Shall a man pierce his God, for you are piercing me?” Do you see how exactly the words describe what was actually done? Could you ask for anything more express or clearer? Do you see how sacred testimonies follow our Incarnate Lord Jesus Christ from the very cradle to the Cross which He bore, as here you can see that He whom elsewhere you read of as God when born in the flesh was God when pierced on the cross? And so there, where His birth was treated of, He is spoken of by the prophet as God: and here where His crucifixion is concerned, He is most clearly named God; that the taking upon Him of manhood might not in any point prejudice dignity of His Divinity, nor the humiliation of His body and the shame of the passion affect the glory of His majesty; for His condescension to so lowly a birth and His generous goodness in enduring his passion ought to increase our love and devotion to Him; since it is certainly a great and monstrous sin if, the more He lavishes love upon us, the less He is honoured by us.
Isa. vii. 14.557:2397
Incredule (Petschenig). Incredulæ (Gazæus).557:2398
Here is an instance of language which the mature judgment of the Church has rejected, as experience showed how it was capable of being pressed into the service of heresy. Homo unitus Deo, in Cassians mouth evidently means the manhood joined to the Godhead, but the words might easily be taken as implying that a man was united to God, i.e., that there were in the Incarnation two persons, one assuming and the other assumed, which was the essence of Nestorianism. Compare above, the note on Homo to Book I. c. v.558:2399
Isa. ix. 6 where in the LXX. B reads ὅτι παιδίον ἑγεννήθη ἡμῖν, ὑιὸς καὶ ἐδόθη ἡμῖν, οὗ ἡ ἀρχὴ ἐγενήθη ἐπὶ τοὺ ὤμου αὐτοῦ, καὶ καλεῖται τὸ ὄνομα αῦτοῦ Μεγάλης Βουλῆς ἄγγελος ἄζω γὰρ κ.τ.λ. To this, however, א and A add after ἄγγελος, θαυμαστὸς σύμβουλος· Θεὸς (our Θεὸς A) ἰσχυρὸς ἐξουσιαστὴς ἄρχων εἰρήνης πατὴρ τοῦ μέλλοντος αἱῶνος and hence in the main comes the old Latin version, which Cassian here follows. Jeromes version has Parvulus enim natus est nobis et filius datus est nobis; et factus est principatus super humerum ejus: et vocabitur nomen ejus admirabilis consiliarius Deus fortis pater futuri sæculi princeps pacis. The Hebrew has nothing directly corresponding to the “angel of great counsel,” which seems to be intended as a paraphrase of “Wonderful Counsellor” (cf. Judg. xiii. 18), while “Father of the world to come” is an interpretation of the Hebrew “Father of eternity.”558:2400
Suscepti hominis. Cf. the line in the Te Deum, which originally ran “Tu ad liberandum mundum suscepisti hominem: non horruisti virginis uterum.”558:2401
See the language of Nestorius himself quoted below in Book VII. c. vi. and cf. V. iii.558:2402
The text of Gazæus omits Deus.558:2403
Malachi iii. 8. Jeromes rendering is almost identical “Si affiget homo Deum, quia vos configitis me,” where the Douay version strangely departs from the literal sense of the word and renders vaguely “afflict.” It is clear however that it was intended to be understood literally, as it is here taken by Cassian as a direct prophecy of the Crucifixion. The LXX. has πτερνιεῖ. The Hebrew word, which is only found again in Prov. xxii. 23, appears to mean “defraud.”
Next: Chapter IV. He produces testimonies to the same doctrine from the Apostle Paul.
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