Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
The Incarnation of the Word.: The Word Incarnate, as is the case with the Invisible God, is known to us by His works. By them we recognise His deifying mission. Let us be content to enumerate a few of them, leaving their dazzling plentitude to him who will behold.
§54. The Word Incarnate, as is the case with the Invisible God, is known to us by His works. By them we recognise His deifying mission. Let us be content to enumerate a few of them, leaving their dazzling plentitude to him who will behold.
As, then, if a man should wish to see God, Who is invisible by nature and not seen at all, he may know and apprehend Him from His works: so let him who fails to see Christ with his understanding, at least apprehend Him by the works of His body, and test whether they be human works or Gods works. 2. And if they be human, let him scoff; but if they are not human, but of God, let him recognise it, and not laugh at what is no matter for scoffing; but rather let him marvel that by so ordinary a means things divine have been manifested to us, and that by death immortality has reached to all, and that by the Word becoming man, the universal Providence has been known, and its Giver and Artificer the very Word of God. 3. For He was made man that we might be made God 347 ; and He manifested Himself by a body that we might receive the idea of the unseen Father; and He endured the insolence of men that we might inherit immortality. For while He Himself was in no way injured, being impossible and incorruptible and very Word and God, men who were suffering, and for whose sakes He endured all this, He maintained and preserved in His own impassibility. 4. And, in a word, the achievements of the Saviour, resulting from His becoming man, are of such kind and number, that if one should wish to enumerate them, he may be compared to men who gaze at the expanse of the sea and wish to count its waves. For as one cannot take in the whole of the waves with his eyes, for those which are coming on baffle the sense of him p. 66 that attempts it; so for him that would take in all the achievements of Christ in the body, it is impossible to take in the whole, even by reckoning them up, as those which go beyond his thought are more than those he thinks he has taken in. 5. Better is it, then, not to aim at speaking of the whole, where one cannot do justice even to a part, but, after mentioning one more, to leave the whole for you to marvel at. For all alike are marvellous, and wherever a man turns his glance, he may behold on that side the divinity of the Word, and be struck with exceeding great awe.
θεοποιηθῶμεν. See Orat. ii. 70, note 1, and many other passages in those Discourses, as well as Letters 60. 4, 61. 2. (Eucharistic reference), de Synodis 51, note 7. (Compare also Iren. IV. xxxviii. 4, non ab initio dii facti sumus, sed primo quidem homines, tunc demum dii, cf. ib. præf. 4. fin. also V. ix. 2, sublevat in vitam Dei. Origen Cels. iii. 28 fin. touches the same thought, but Ath. is here in closer affinity to the idea of Irenæus than to that of Origen.) The New Test. reference is 2 Pet. i. 4, rather than Heb. ii. 9 sqq; the Old Test., Ps. lxxxii. 6, which seems to underlie Orat. iii. 25 (note 5). In spite of the last mentioned passage, God is far preferable as a rendering, in most places, to gods, which has heathenish associations. To us (1 Cor. viii. 6) there are no such things as gods. (The best summary of patristic teaching on this subject is given by Harnack Dg. ii. p. 46 note.)
Next: Summary of foregoing. Cessation of pagan oracles, &c.: propagation of the faith. The true King has come forth and silenced all usurpers.
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