Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): Subject Continued. Objection, that the Son's eternity makes Him coordinate with the Father, introduces the subject of His Divine Sonship, as a second proof of His eternity. The word Son is introduced in a secondary, but is to be understood in real sense. Since all things partake of the Father in partaking of the Son, He is the whole participation of the Father, that is, He is the Son by nature; for to be wholly participated is to beget.
Chapter V.—Subject Continued. Objection, that the Sons eternity makes Him coordinate with the Father, introduces the subject of His Divine Sonship, as a second proof of His eternity. The word Son is introduced in a secondary, but is to be understood in real sense. Since all things partake of the Father in partaking of the Son, He is the whole participation of the Father, that is, He is the Son by nature; for to be wholly participated is to beget.
14. When these points are thus proved, their profaneness goes further. If there never was, when the Son was not, say they, but He is eternal, and coexists with the Father, you call Him no more the Fathers Son, but brother 1914 . O insensate and contentious! For if we said only that He was eternally with the Father, and not His Son, their pretended scruple would have some plausibility; but if, while we say that He is eternal, we also confess Him to be Son from the Father, how can He that is begotten be considered brother of Him who begets? And if our faith is in Father and Son, what brotherhood is there between them? and how can the Word be called brother of Him whose Word He is? This is not an objection of men really ignorant, for they comprehend how the truth lies; but it is a Jewish pretence, and that from those who, in Solomons words, through desire separate themselves 1915 from the truth. For the Father and the Son were not generated from some pre-existing origin 1916 , that we may account Them brothers, but the Father is the Origin of the Son and begat Him; and the Father is Father, and not born the Son of any; and the Son is Son, and not brother. Further, if He is called the eternal offspring 1917 of the Father, He is rightly so called. For never was the essence of the Father imperfect, that what is proper to it should be added afterwards 1918 ; nor, as man from man, p. 315 has the Son been begotten, so as to be later than His Fathers existence, but He is Gods offspring, and as being proper Son of God, who is ever, He exists eternally. For, whereas it is proper to men to beget in time, from the imperfection of their nature 1919 , Gods offspring is eternal, for His nature is ever perfect 1920 . If then He is not a Son, but a work made out of nothing, they have but to prove it; and then they are at liberty, as if imagining about a creature, to cry out, There was once when He was not; for things which are originated were not, and have come to be. But if He is Son, as the Father says, and the Scriptures proclaim, and Son is nothing else than what is generated from the Father; and what is generated from the Father is His Word, and Wisdom, and Radiance; what is to be said but that, in maintaining Once the Son was not, they rob God of His Word, like plunderers, and openly predicate of Him that He was once without His proper Word and Wisdom, and that the Light was once without radiance, and the Fountain was once barren and dry 1921 ? For though they pretend alarm at the name of time, because of those who reproach them with it, and say, that He was before times, yet whereas they assign certain intervals, in which they imagine He was not, they are most irreligious still, as equally suggesting times, and imputing to God an absence of Reason 1922 .
15. But if on the other hand, while they acknowledge with us the name of Son, from an unwillingness to be publicly and generally condemned, they deny that the Son is the proper offspring of the Fathers essence, on the ground that this must imply parts and divisions 1923 ; what is this but to deny that He is very Son, and only in name to call Him Son at all? And is it not a grievous error, to have material thoughts about what is immaterial, and because of the weakness of their proper nature to deny what is natural and proper to the Father? It does but remain, that they should deny Him also, because they understand not how God is 1924 , and what the Father is, now that, foolish men, they measure by themselves the Offspring of the Father. And persons in such a state of mind as to consider that there cannot be a Son of God, demand our pity; but they must be interrogated and exposed for the chance of bringing them to their senses. If then, as you say, the Son is from nothing, and was not before His generation, He, of course, as well as others, must be called Son and God and Wisdom only by participation; for thus all other creatures consist, and by sanctification are glorified. You have to tell us then, of what He is partaker 1925 . All other things partake of the Spirit, but He, according to you, of what is He partaker? of the Spirit? Nay, rather the Spirit Himself takes from the Son, as He Himself says; and it is not reasonable to say that the latter is sanctified by the former. Therefore it is the Father that He partakes; for this only remains to say. But this, which is participated, what is it or whence 1926 ? If it be something external provided by the Father, He will not now be partaker of the Father, but of what is external to Him; and no longer will He be even second after the Father, since He has before Him this other; nor can He be called Son of the Father, but of that, as partaking which He has been called Son and God. And if this be unseemly and irreligious, when the Father says, This is My Beloved Son 1927 , and when the Son says that God is His own Father, it follows that what is partaken is not external, but from the essence of the Father. And as to this again, if it be other than the essence of the Son, an equal extravagance will meet us; there being in that case something between this that is from the Father and the essence of the Son, whatever that be 1928 .
16. Such thoughts then being evidently unseemly and untrue, we are driven to say that what is from the essence of the Father, and proper to Him, is entirely the Son; for it is all one to say that God is wholly participated, and that He p. 316 begets; and what does begetting signify but a Son? And thus of the Son Himself, all things partake according to the grace of the Spirit coming from Him 1929 ; and this shews that the Son Himself partakes of nothing, but what is partaken from the Father, is the Son; for, as partaking of the Son Himself, we are said to partake of God; and this is what Peter said that ye may be partakers in a divine nature 1930 ; as says too the Apostle, Know ye not, that ye are a temple of God? and, We are the temple of a living God 1931 . And beholding the Son, we see the Father; for the thought 1932 and comprehension of the Son, is knowledge concerning the Father, because He is His proper offspring from His essence. And since to be partaken no one of us would ever call affection or division of Gods essence (for it has been shewn and acknowledged that God is participated, and to be participated is the same thing as to beget); therefore that which is begotten is neither affection nor division of that blessed essence. Hence it is not incredible that God should have a Son, the Offspring of His own essence; nor do we imply affection or division of Gods essence, when we speak of Son and Offspring; but rather, as acknowledging the genuine, and true, and Only-begotten of God, so we believe. If then, as we have stated and are shewing, what is the Offspring of the Fathers essence be the Son, we cannot hesitate, rather we must be certain, that the same 1933 is the Wisdom and Word of the Father, in and through whom He creates and makes all things; and His Brightness too, in whom He enlightens all things, and is revealed to whom He will; and His Expression and Image also, in whom He is contemplated and known, wherefore He and His Father are one 1934 , and whoso looketh on Him looketh on the Father; and the Christ, in whom all things are redeemed, and the new creation wrought afresh. And on the other hand, the Son being such Offspring, it is not fitting, rather it is full of peril, to say, that He is a work out of nothing, or that He was not before His generation. For he who thus speaks of that which is proper to the Fathers essence, already blasphemes the Father Himself 1935 ; since he really thinks of Him what he falsely imagines of His offspring.
This was an objection urged by Eunomius, cf. de Syn. 51, note 8. It is implied also in the Apology of the former, §24, and in Basil. contr. Eunom. ii. 28. Aetius was in Alexandria with George of Cappadocia, a.d. 356–8, and Athan. wrote these Discourses in the latter year, as the de Syn. at the end of the next. It is probable then that he is alluding to the Anomœan arguments as he heard them reported, vid. de Syn. l.c. where he says, they say, “as you have written,” §51. ᾽Ανόμοιος κατ᾽ οὐσίαν is mentioned infr. §17. As the Arians here object that the First and Second Persons of the Holy Trinity are ἀδελφοὶ, so did they say the same in the course of the controversy of the Second and Third. vid. Serap. i. 15. iv. 2.314:1915
Prov. xviii. 1.314:1916
Vid. de Syn. §51.314:1917
In other words, by the Divine γεννησις is not meant an act but an eternal and unchangeable fact, in the Divine Essence. Arius. not admitting this, objected at the outset of the controversy to the phrase always Father, always Son, Theod. H. E. i. 4. p. 749, and Eunomius argues that, if the Son is co-eternal with the Father, the Father was never such in act, ἐνεργὸς, but was ἀργός. Cyril. Thesaur. v. p. 41. S. Cyril answers that works, ἔργα, are made ἔξωθεν, from without; but that our Lord, as S. Athanasius here says, is neither a work nor from without. And hence he says elsewhere that, while men are fathers first in posse then in act, God is δυνάμει τε καὶ ἐνεργεί& 139· πατήρ. Dial. 2. p. 458. (vid. supr. p. 65. note m). Victorinus in like manner, says, that God is potentia et actione Deus sed in æterna, Adv. Ar. i. p. 202; and he quotes S. Alexander, speaking apparently in answer to Arius, of a semper generans generatio. And Arius scoffs at ἀειγεννής and ἀγεννητογενής. Theod. Hist. i. 4. p. 749. And Origen had said, ὁ σωτὴρ ἀεὶ γεννᾶται. ap. Routh. Reliq. t. 4. p. 304 and S. Dionysius calls Him the Radiance, ἄναρχὸν καὶ ἀειγενές. Sent. Dion 15. S. Augustine too says, Semper gignit Pater, et semper nascitur Filius. Ep. 238. n. 4. Petav. de Trin. ii. 5. n. 7, quotes the following passage from Theodorus Abucara, Since the Sons generation does but signify His having His existence from the Father, which He has ever, therefore He is ever begotten. For it became Him, who is properly (κυρίως) the Son, ever to be deriving His existence from the Father, and not as we who derive its commencement only. In us generation is a way to existence; in the Son of God it denotes the existence itself; in Him it has not existence for its end, but it is itself an end, τέλος, and is perfect, τέλειον. Opusc 26.314:1918
de Decr. 22, note 9.315:1919
Infr. §26 fin., and de Decr. 12, note 2.315:1920
Vid. supr. note 4. A similar passage is found in Cyril. Thesaur. v. p. 42, Dial. ii. fin. This was retorting the objection; the Arians said, How can God be ever perfect, who added to Himself a Son? Athan. answers, How can the Son not be eternal, since God is ever perfect? vid. Greg. Nyssen, contr. Eunom. Append. p. 142. Cyril. Thesaur. x. p. 78. As to the Sons perfection, Aetius objects ap. Epiph. Hær. 76. pp. 925, 6, that growth and consequent accession from without were essentially involved in the idea of Sonship; whereas S. Greg. Naz. speaks of the Son as not ἀτελῆ πρότερον, εἶτα τέλειον, ὥσπερ νόμος τῆς ἡμετέρας γενέσεως, Orat. 20. 9 fin. In like manner, S. Basil argues against Eunomius, that the Son is τέλειος, because He is the Image, not as if copied, which is a gradual work, but as a χαρακτὴρ, or impression of a seal, or as the knowledge communicated from master to scholar, which comes to the latter and exists in him perfect, without being lost to the former. contr. Eunom. ii. 16 fin.315:1921
de Decr. 12, 15.315:1922
Ib. 22, note 1, infr. §19.315:1923
De Decr. §§10, 11.315:1924
De Syn. §45, 51.315:1926
Nic. Def. 9, note 4.315:1927
Matt. iii. 17.315:1928
Here is taught us the strict unity of the Divine Essence. When it is said that the First Person of the Holy Trinity communicates divinity to the Second, it is meant that that one Essence which is the Father, also is the Son. Hence the force of the word ὁμοούσιον, which was in consequence accused of Sabellianism, but was distinguished from it by the particle ὁμοῦ, together, which implied a difference as well as unity; whereas ταὐτοούσιον or συνούσιον implied, with the Sabellians, an identity or a confusion. The Arians, on the other hand, as in the instance of Eusebius, &c., supr. p. 75, note 7; de Syn. 26, note 3; considered the Father and the Son two οὐσίαι. The Catholic doctrine is that, though the Divine Essence is both the Father Ingenerate and also the Only-begotten Son, it is not itself ἀγέννητος or γεννητή; which was the objection urged against the Catholics by Aetius, Epiph. Hær. 76. 10. Cf. de Decr. §30, Orat. iii. §36 fin., Expos. Fid. 2. vid. de Syn. 45, note 1. Vera et æterna substantia in se tota permanens, totam se coæternæ veritati nativitatis indulsit. Fulgent. Resp. 7. And S. Hilary, Filius in Patre est et in Filio Pater, non per transfusionem, refusionemque mutuam, sed per viventis naturæ perfectam nativitatem. Trin. vii. 31.316:1929
De Decr. §31.316:1930
2 Pet. i. 4.316:1931
1 Cor. iii. 16; 2 Cor. vi. 16.316:1932
ἔννοια, vid. de Syn. §48 fin.316:1933
de Decr. 17, 24.316:1934
John x. 30.316:1935
de Decr. 1, note.
Next: Subject Continued. Third proof of the Son's eternity, viz. from other titles indicative of His coessentiality; as the Creator; One of the Blessed Trinity; as Wisdom; as Word; as Image. If the Son is a perfect Image of the Father, why is He not a Father also? because God, being perfect, is not the origin of a race. Only the Father a Father because the Only Father, only the Son a Son because the Only Son. Men are not really fathers and really sons, but shadows of the True. The Son does not become a Father, because He has received from the Father to be immutable and ever the same.
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