Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Heathen. (Contra Gentes.): Doctrine of Scripture on the subject of Part 3.
§46. Doctrine of Scripture on the subject of Part 3.
Has then the divine teaching, which abolished the godlessness of the heathen or the idols, passed over in silence, and left the race of mankind to go entirely unprovided with the knowledge of God? Not so: rather it anticipates their understanding when it says 179 : “Hear, O Israel, the Lord thy God is one God;” and again, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy strength;” and again, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve, and shalt cleave to Him.” 2. But that the providence and ordering power of the Word also, over all and toward all, is attested by all inspired Scripture, this passage suffices to confirm our argument, where men who speak of God say 180 : “Thou hast laid the foundation of the earth and it abideth. The day continueth according to Thine ordinance.” And again 181 : “Sing to our God upon the harp, that covereth the heaven with clouds, that prepareth rain for the earth, that bringeth forth grass upon the mountains, and green herb for the service of man, and giveth food to the cattle.” 3. But by whom does He give it, save by Him through Whom all things were made? For the providence over all things belongs naturally to Him by Whom they were made; and who is this save the Word of God, concerning Whom in another psalm 182 he says: “By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the host of them by the Breath of His mouth.” For He tells us that all things were made in Him and through Him. 4. Wherefore He also persuades us and says 183 , p. 29 “He spake and they were made, He commanded and they were created;” as the illustrious Moses also at the beginning of his account of Creation confirms what we say by his narrative 184 , saying: and God said, “let us make man in our image and after our likeness:” for also when He was carrying out the creation of the heaven and earth and all things, the Father said to Him 185 , “Let the heaven be made,” and “let the waters be gathered together and let the dry land appear,” and “let the earth bring forth herb” and “every green thing:” so that one must convict Jews also of not genuinely attending to the Scriptures. 5. For one might ask them to whom was God speaking, to use the imperative mood? If He were commanding and addressing the things He was creating, the utterance would be redundant, for they were not yet in being, but were about to be made; but no one speaks to what does not exist, nor addresses to what is not yet made a command to be made. For if God were giving a command to the things that were to be, He must have said, “Be made, heaven, and be made, earth, and come forth, green herb, and be created, O man.” But in fact He did not do so; but He gives the command thus: “Let us make man,” and “let the green herb come forth.” By which God is proved to be speaking about them to some one at hand: it follows then that some one was with Him to Whom He spoke when He made all things. 6. Who then could it be, save His Word? For to whom could God be said to speak, except His Word? Or who was with Him when He made all created Existence, except His Wisdom, which says 186 : “When He was making the heaven and the earth I was present with Him?” But in the mention of heaven and earth, all created things in heaven and earth are included as well. 7. But being present with Him as His Wisdom and His Word, looking at the Father He fashioned the Universe, and organised it and gave it order; and, as He is the power of the Father, He gave all things strength to be, as the Saviour says 187 : “What things soever I see the Father doing, I also do in like manner.” And His holy disciples teach that all things were made “through Him and unto Him;” 8. and, being the good Offspring of Him that is good, and true Son, He is the Fathers Power and Wisdom and Word, not being so by participation 188 , nor as if these qualifies were imparted to Him from without, as they are to those who partake of Him and are made wise by Him, and receive power and reason in Him; but He is the very Wisdom, very Word, and very own Power of the Father, very Light, very Truth, very Righteousness, very Virtue, and in truth His express Image, and Brightness, and Resemblance. And to sum all up, He is the wholly perfect Fruit of the Father, and is alone the Son, and unchanging Image of the Father.
Deut. 6:4, 5, 13.28:180
Ps. cxix. 90.28:181
Ps. cxlvii. 7-9.28:182
Ps. xxxiii. 6.28:183
Ps. cxlviii. 5.29:184
Gen. i. 20.29:185
Gen. i. 6-11.29:186
Prov. viii. 27.29:187
Joh. v. 19; Col. i. 16.29:188
μετοχή, cf. de Syn. 48, 51, 53. This was held by Arians, but in common with Paul Samos. and many of the Monarchian heretics. The same principle in Orig. on Ps. 135 (Lomm. xiii. 134) οὐ κατὰ μετουσίαν ἀλλὰ κατ᾽ οὐσίαν θεός.
Next: Necessity of a return to the Word if our corrupt nature is to be restored.
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