Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. III:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Ecclesiastical History, Dialogues, and Letters of Theodoret.: Proofs that the Union was without Confusion.
Proofs that the Union was without Confusion.
1. Those who believe that after the union there was one nature both of Godhead and of manhood, destroy by this reasoning the peculiarities of the natures; and their destruction involves denial of either nature. For the confusion of the united natures prevents us from recognising either that flesh is flesh or that God is God. But if even after the union the difference of the united natures is clear, it follows that there is no confusion and that the union is without confusion. And if this is confessed then the Master Christ is not one nature, but one Son shewing either nature unimpaired.
2. We too assert the union, and ourselves confess that it took place at the conception; if then by the union the natures were mixed and confounded, how was the flesh after the birth not seen to possess any new quality, but exhibited the human character, preserved the dimensions of the babe, was wrapped in swaddling clothes, and sucked a mothers breast? And if all this did not come to pass in mere phantasy and seeming, then they admit of neither phantasy nor seeming; then what was seen was truly a body. And if this be granted then the natures were not confounded by the union, but each remained unimpaired.
3. The authors of this patchwork and incongruous heresy at one time assert that God the Word was made flesh, and at another declare that the flesh underwent a change into nature of Godhead. Either statement is futile and vain and full of falsehood, for if God the Word, as they argue, was made flesh, why then do they call Him God, and this alone, and refuse to name Him man as well, and find great fault with us who in addition to confessing Him as God also call Him man? But if the flesh was changed into the nature of Godhead, wherefore do they substitute the antitypes of the body? For the type is superfluous when the reality is destroyed.
4. An incorporeal nature is not corporeally circumcised, but the word corporeally is added on account of the spiritual circumcision of the heart; so then the circumcision is of a body; but the Master Christ is circumcised after the union. And if this is granted then the argument of the confusion is confuted.
p. 247 5. We have learnt that the Saviour Christ hungered and thirsted, and we have believed that this was so really and not in seeming, but such conditions belong not to a bodiless nature but to a body. The Master Christ then had a body which before the resurrection was affected according to its nature. And to this the divine Apostle bears testimony when he says “For we have not an High Priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities but was in all points tempted like as we are yet without sin.” 1585 For the sin is not of the nature but of the evil will. 1586
6. Of the divine nature the prophet David says, “Behold He that keepeth Israel shall neither slumber nor sleep.” 1587 But the narrative of the Evangelist describes the Master Christ as sleeping in the boat. Now not sleeping and being asleep are two contrary ideas, so the prophet contradicts the Gospels if, as they argue, the Master Christ was God alone. There is no contradiction, for both prophecies and gospels flow from one and the same spirit. The Master Christ therefore had a body, akin to all other bodies, affected by the need of sleep. So the argument for the confusion is proved a fable.
7. Of the divine nature the prophet Isaiah said, “He shall neither be hungry nor weary” 1588 and so on. But the Evangelist says “Jesus being weary with his journey sat thus on the well;” 1589 and “shall not be weary” is contrary to “being weary.” Therefore the prophecy is contrary to the narrative of the gospels. But they are not contrary, for both are of one God. Not being weary is of the uncircumscribed nature which fills all things. But moving from place to place is of the circumscribed nature; and when that which moves is constrained to travel it is subject to the weariness of the wayfarer. Therefore what walked and was weary was a body, for the union did not confound the natures.
8. To the divine Paul when shut up in prison the Master Christ said “Be not afraid Paul” 1590 and so on. But the same Christ, who drove away Pauls fear, Himself so feared, as testifies the blessed Luke that He sweated from all His body drops of blood, and with them sprinkled all the ground about His body, and was strengthened by angelic succour, 1591 and these statements are opposed to one another, for how can fearing be other than contrary to driving away fear? Yet they are not contrary. For the same Christ is by nature God and man; as God He strengthens them that need consolation; as man He receives consolation through an angel. And although the Godhead and the Spirit were present as an anointing, the body and the soul were not then supported either by the Godhead united to them or by the Holy Ghost, but this service was entrusted to an angel in order to exhibit the infirmity both of the soul and of the body and that through the infirmity might be seen the natures of the infirm. Now these things plainly happened by the permission of the divine nature, that, among them that were to live in future times, believers in the assumption of the soul and of the body might be vindicated by these demonstrations, and their opponents by plain proof convicted. If then the union was effected by the conception, and, as they argue, made both natures one, how could the properties of the natures continue unimpaired, the soul agonize, and the body sweat so as to sweat bloody drops from excess of fear? But if the one is natural to the body and the other to the soul, then the union did not effect one nature of flesh and Godhead, but one Son appeared shewing forth in Himself both the human and the divine.
9. Should they say that after the resurrection the body underwent mutation into Godhead they may properly be answered thus. Even after the resurrection the body was seen circumscribed with hands and feet and all the bodys parts; it was tangible and visible; it had wounds and scars, as it had before the resurrection. One then of two alternatives must be maintained. Either these parts must be attributed to the divine nature, if the body when changed into the divine nature had these parts; or on the other hand it must be confessed that the body remained within the bounds of its own nature. Now the divine nature is simple and incomposite, but the body is composite and divided into many parts; therefore it was not changed into the nature of Godhead, but even after the resurrection though immortal, incorruptible and full of divine glory, it remains a body with its own circumscription.
10. To the unbelieving apostles the Lord after His resurrection shewed His hands, His feet, and the prints of the nails; then further to teach them that what they saw was not a vision He added “a spirit hath not flesh and bones as ye see me have.” 1592 p. 248 Therefore the body was not changed into spirit it was flesh and bones and hands and feet. Consequently even after the resurrection the body remained a body.
11. The divine nature is invisible, but the thrice blessed Stephen said that he saw the Lord, 1593 so even after the resurrection the Lords body is a body, and it was seen by the victorious Stephen, since the divine nature cannot be seen.
12. If all mankind shall see the Son of man coming on the clouds of heaven, according to the Lords own words, 1594 and He said to Moses “No man shall see me and live,” 1595 and both are true, then He will come with the body with which He ascended into heaven. For that body is visible, and of this the angel spoke to the Apostles “This same Jesus which is taken up from you into Heaven shall so come in like manner as ye have seen Him go into Heaven.” 1596 If this is true, as true it is, then there is not one nature of flesh and Godhead, but the union is without confusion.
Hebrews iv. 15247:1586
cf. note on page 164.247:1587
Psalm cxxi. 4247:1588
Isaiah xl. 28, lxx.247:1589
John iv. 6247:1590
When Paul was brought into the castle the Lord stood by him and said, “Be of good cheer Paul” (Acts xxiii. 11.) “Fear not Paul” was said when he was being exceedingly tossed in the tempest (Acts xxvii. 24).247:1591
Luke xxii. 44247:1592
Luke xxiv. 39248:1593
Acts vii. 55248:1594
Matt. xxvi. 64248:1595
Exodus xxxiii. 20248:1596
Acts i. 11
Next: Proof that the Divinity of the Saviour is Impassible.
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