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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IV:
Against the Arians. (Orationes contra Arianos IV.): Introduction to Proverbs viii. 22 continued. Absurdity of supposing a Son or Word created in order to the creation of other creatures; as to the creation being unable to bear God's immediate hand, God condescends to the lowest. Moreover, if the Son a creature, He too could not bear God's hand, and an infinite series of media will be necessary. Objected, that, as Moses who led out the Israelites was a man, so our Lord; but Moses was not the Agent in creation:--again, that unity is found in created ministrations, but all such ministrations are defective and dependent:--again, that He learned to create, yet could God's Wisdom need teaching? and why should He learn, if the Father worketh hitherto? If the Son was created to create us, He is for our sake, not we for His.

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Chapter XVII.—Introduction to Proverbs viii. 22 continued. Absurdity of supposing a Son or Word created in order to the creation of other creatures; as to the creation being unable to bear God’s immediate hand, God condescends to the lowest. Moreover, if the Son a creature, He too could not bear God’s hand, and an infinite series of media will be necessary. Objected, that, as Moses who led out the Israelites was a man, so our Lord; but Moses was not the Agent in creation:—again, that unity is found in created ministrations, but all such ministrations are defective and dependent:—again, that He learned to create, yet could God’s Wisdom need teaching? and why should He learn, if the Father worketh hitherto? If the Son was created to create us, He is for our sake, not we for His.

24 (continued). And here it were well to ask them also this question 2360 , for a still clearer refutation of their heresy;—Wherefore, when all things are creatures, and all are brought into consistence from nothing, and the Son Himself, according to you, is creature and work, and once was not, wherefore has He made ‘all things through Him’ alone, ‘and without Him was made not one thing 2361 ?’ or why is it, when ‘all things’ are spoken of, that no one thinks the Son is signified in the number, but only things originate; whereas when Scripture speaks of the Word, it does not understand Him as being in the number of ‘all,’ but places Him with the Father, as Him in whom Providence and salvation for ‘all’ are wrought and effected by the Father, though all things surely might at the same command have come to be, at which He was brought into being by God alone? For God is not wearied by commanding 2362 , nor is His strength unequal to the making of all things, that He should alone create the only Son 2363 , and need His ministry and aid for the framing of the rest. For He lets nothing stand over, which He wills to be done; but He willed only 2364 , and all things subsisted, and no one ‘hath resisted His will 2365 .’ Why then were not all things brought into being by God alone at that same command, at which the Son came into being? Or let them tell us, why did all things through Him come to be, who was Himself but originate? How void of reason! however, they say concerning Him, that ‘God willing to create originate nature, when He saw that it could not endure the untempered hand of the Father, and to be created by Him, makes and creates first and alone one only, and calls Him Son and Word, that, through Him as a medium, all things might thereupon be brought to be 2366 .’ This they not only have said, but they have dared to put it into writing, namely, Eusebius, Arius, and Asterius who sacrificed 2367 .

25. Is not this a full proof of that irreligion, p. 362 with which they have drugged themselves with much madness, till they blush not to be intoxicate against the truth? For if they shall assign the toil of making all things as the reason why God made the Son only, the whole creation will cry out against them as saying unworthy things of God; and Isaiah too who has said in Scripture, ‘The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary: there is no searching of His understanding 2368 .’ And if God made the Son alone, as not deigning to make the rest, but committed them to the Son as an assistant, this on the other hand is unworthy of God, for in Him there is no pride. Nay the Lord reproves the thought, when He says, ‘Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing?’ and ‘one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father which is in heaven.’ And again, ‘Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air, for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them; are ye not much better than they? Which of you by taking thought, can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: and yet I say unto you, that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Wherefore if God so clothe the grass of the field which to-day is, and to-morrow is cast into the oven, shall He not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith 2369 ?’ If then it be not unworthy of God to exercise His Providence, even down to things so small, a hair of the head, and a sparrow, and the grass of the field, also it was not unworthy of Him to make them. For what things are the subjects of His Providence, of those He is Maker through His proper Word. Nay a worse absurdity lies before the men who thus speak; for they distinguish 2370 between the creatures and the framing; and consider the latter the work of the Father, the creatures the work of the Son; whereas either all things must be brought to be by the Father with the Son, or if all that is originate comes to be through the Son, we must not call Him one of the originated things.

26. Next, their folly may be exposed thus:—if even the Word be of originated nature, how, whereas this nature is too feeble to be God’s own handywork, could He alone of all endure to be made by the unoriginate and unmitigated Essence of God, as ye say? for it follows either that, if He could endure it, all could endure it, or, it being endurable by none, it was not endurable by the Word, for you say that He is one of originate things. And again, if because originate nature could not endure to be God’s own handywork, there arose need of a mediator 2371 , it must follow, that, the Word being originate and a creature, there is need of medium in His framing also, since He too is of that originate nature which endures not to be made of God, but needs a medium. But if some being as a medium be found for Him, then again a fresh mediator is needed for that second, and thus tracing back and following out, we shall invent a vast crowd of accumulating mediators; and thus it will be impossible that the creation should subsist, as ever wanting a mediator, and that medium not coming into being without another mediator; for all of them will be of that originate nature which endures not to be made of God alone, as ye say. How abundant is that folly, which obliges them to hold that what has already come into being, admits not of coming! Or perhaps they opine that they have not even come to be, as still seeking their mediator; for, on the ground of their so irreligious and futile notion 2372 , what is would not have subsistence, for want of the medium.

27. But again they allege this:—‘Behold, through Moses too did He lead the people from Egypt, and through him He gave the Law, yet he was a man; so that it is possible for like to be brought into being by like.’ They should veil their face when they say this, to save their much shame. For Moses was not sent to frame the world, nor to call into being things which were not, or to fashion men like himself, but only to be the minister of words to the people, and to King Pharaoh. And this is a very different thing, for to minister is of things originate as of servants, but to frame and to create is of God alone, and of His proper Word and His Wisdom. Wherefore, in the matter of framing, we shall find none but God’s Word; for ‘all things are made in Wisdom,’ and ‘without the Word was made not one thing.’ But as regards ministrations there are, not one only, but man out of their whole number, whomever the Lord will send. For there are many Archangels, many Thrones, and Authorities, and Dominions, thousands of thousands, and myriads of myriads, standing before Him 2373 , minisp. 363 tering and ready to be sent. And many Prophets, and twelve Apostles, and Paul. And Moses himself was not alone, but Aaron with him, and next other seventy were filled with the Holy Ghost. And Moses was succeeded by Joshua the son of Nun, and he by the Judges, and they not by one, but by a number of Kings. If then the Son were a creature and one of things originate, there must have been many such sons, that God might have many such ministers, just as there is a multitude of those others. But if this is not to be seen, but while the creatures are many, the Word is one, any one will collect from this, that the Son differs from all, and is not on a level with the creatures, but proper to the Father. Hence there are not many Words, but one only Word of the one Father, and one Image of the one God 2374 . ‘But behold,’ they say, ‘there is one sun only 2375 , and one earth.’ Let them maintain, senseless as they are, that there is one water and one fire, and then they may be told that everything that is brought to be, is one in its own essence; but for the ministry and service committed to it, by itself it is not adequate nor sufficient alone. For God said, ‘Let there be lights in the firmament of heaven, to give light upon the earth and to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs and for seasons and for days and years.’ And then he says, ‘And God made two great lights, the greater light to rule the day, and the lesser light to rule the night: He made the stars also. And God set them in the firmament of the heaven, to give light upon the earth, and to rule over the day and over the night 2376 .’

28. Behold there are many lights, and not the sun only, nor the moon only, but each is one in essence, and yet the service of all is one and common; and what each lacks, is supplied by the other, and the office of lighting is performed by all 2377 . Thus the sun has authority to shine throughout the day and no more; and the moon through the night; and the stars together with them accomplish the seasons and years, and become for signs, each according to the need that calls for it. Thus too the earth is not for all things, but for the fruits only, and to be a ground to tread on for the living things that inhabit it. And the firmament is to divide between waters and waters, and to be a place to set the stars in. So also fire and water, with other things, have been brought into being to be the constituent parts of bodies; and in short no one thing is alone, but all things that are made, as if members of each other, make up as it were one body, namely, the world. If then they thus conceive of the Son, let all men throw stones 2378 at them, considering the Word to be a part of this universe, and a part insufficient without the rest for the service committed to Him. But if this be manifestly irreligious, let them acknowledge that the Word is not in the number of things originate, but the sole and proper Word of the Father, and their Framer. ‘But,’ say they, ‘though He is a creature and of things originate; yet as from a master and artificer has He 2379 learned to frame, and thus ministered 2380 to God who taught Him.’ For thus the Sophist Asterius, on the strength of having learned to deny the Lord, has dared to write, not observing the absurdity which follows. For if framing be a thing to be taught, let them beware lest they say that God Himself be a Framer not by nature but by science, so as to admit of His losing the power. Besides, if the Wisdom of God attained to frame by teaching, how is He still Wisdom, when He needs to learn? and what was He before He learned? For it was not Wisdom, if it needed teaching; it was surely but some empty thing, and not essential Wisdom 2381 , but from advancement it had the name of Wisdom, and will be only so long Wisdom as it can keep what it has learned. For what has accrued not by any nature, but from learning, admits of being one time unlearned. But to speak thus of the Word of God, is not the part of Christians but of Greeks.

29. For if the power of framing accrues to anyone from teaching, these insensate men are ascribing jealousy and weakness 2382 to God;—jealousy, in that He has not taught many how to frame, so that there may be around Him, as Archangels and Angels many, so framers many; and weakness, in that He could not make by Himself, but needed a fellow-worker, or under-worker; and that, though it has been already shewn that created nature admits of being made by God alone, since they consider the Son to be of such a nature and so made. But God is deficient in nothing: perish the thought! for He has said Himself, ‘I am full 2383 .’ Nor did the Word become Framer of all from teaching; but being the Image and Wisdom of the Father, He does the things of the Father. Nor hath He made the Son for the making of things created; for behold, though the Son exists, still 2384 the Father is seen to work, as the Lord Himself says, ‘My Father worketh hitherto and I work 2385 .’ If p. 364 however, as you say, the Son came into being for the purpose of making the things after Him, and yet the Father is seen to work even after the Son, you must hold even in this light the making of such a Son to be superfluous. Besides, why, when He would create us, does He seek for a mediator at all, as if His will did not suffice to constitute whatever seemed good to Him? Yet the Scriptures say, ‘He hath done whatsoever pleased Him 2386 ,’ and ‘Who hath resisted His will 2387 ?’ And if His mere will 2388 is sufficient for the framing of all things, you make the office of a mediator superfluous; for your instance of Moses, and the sun and the moon has been shewn not to hold. And here again is an argument to silence you. You say that God, willing the creation of originated nature, and deliberating concerning it, designs and creates the Son, that through Him He may frame us; now, if so, consider how great an irreligion 2389 you have dared to utter.

30. First, the Son appears rather to have been for us brought to be, than we for Him; for we were not created for Him, but He is made for us 2390 ; so that He owes thanks to us, not we to Him, as the woman to the man. ‘For the man,’ says Scripture, ‘was not created for the woman, but the woman for the man.’ Therefore, as ‘the man is the image and glory of God, and the woman the glory of the man 2391 ,’ so we are made God’s image and to His glory; but the Son is our image, and exists for our glory. And we were brought into being that we might be; but God’s Word was made, as you must hold, not that He might be 2392 ; but as an instrument 2393 for our need, so that not we from Him, but He is constituted from our need. Are not men who even conceive such thoughts, more than insensate? For if for us the Word was made, He has not precedence 2394 of us with God; for He did not take counsel about us having Him within Him, but having us in Himself, counselled, as they say, concerning His own Word. But if so, perchance the Father had not even a will for the Son at all; for not as having a will for Him, did He create Him, but with a will for us, He formed Him for our sake; for He designed Him after designing us; so that, according to these irreligious men, henceforth the Son, who was made as an instrument, is superfluous, now that they are made for whom He was created. But if the Son alone was made by God alone, because He could endure it, but we, because we could not, were made by the Word, why does He not first take counsel about the Word, who could endure His making, instead of taking counsel about us? or why does He not make more of Him who was strong, than of us who were weak? or why making Him first, does He not counsel about Him first? or why counselling about us first, does He not make us first, His will being sufficient for the constitution of all things? But He creates Him first, yet counsels first about us; and He wills us before the Mediator; and when He wills to create us, and counsels about us, He calls us creatures; but Him, whom He frames for us, He calls Son and proper Heir. But we, for whose sake He made Him, ought rather to be called sons; or certainly He, who is His Son, is rather the object of His previous thoughts and of His will, for whom He makes all us. Such the sickness, such the vomit 2395 of the heretics.



These sections 24–26 are very similar to de Decr. 7, 8, yet not in wording or order, as is the case with other passages.


John i. 3.


De Decr. 7.


μόνος μόνον, also infr. 30. this phrase is synonymous with ‘not as one of the creatures,’ vid. μόνος ὑπὸ μόνου, supr. p. 12. also p. 75. note 6. vid. μόνως, de Syn. 26, fin. note 2, though that term is somewhat otherwise explained by S. Greg. Naz. μόνως οὐχ ὡς τὰ σώματα, Orat. 25, 16. Eunomius understood by μονογενής, not μόνος γεννηθεὶς but παρὰ μόνου. It should be observed, however, that this is a sense in which some of the Greek Fathers understand the term, thus contrasting generation with procession. vid. Petav. Trin. vii. 11. §3.


§§29, 31.


Rom. ix. 19.


Vid. de Decr. §8. supr. p. 2. also Cyril. Thesaur. pp. 150, 241. de Trin. p. 523. Basil contr. Eunom. ii. 21. vid. also infr. 29. Orat. iv. 11, 12.


De Decr. 8.


Is. xl. 28.


Matt. x. 29; vi. 25–30


διαίρουσιν, as supr. de Decr. 7.


Vid. ib. 8. vid. also a similar argument in Epiphanius Hær. 76. p. 951. but the arguments of Ath. in these Orations are so generally adopted by the succeeding Fathers, that it is impossible and needless to enumerate the instances of agreement.


And so de Decr. 8.


i. 62. and Ambros. de Fid. iii. 106.


§36, note 4.


Vid. Euseb. Demon. iv. 5 fin.


Gen. i. 14-18




§4, note 2.


Cyril. in Joan. p. 47, c.


§22, note 1.


οὐσιωδὴς σοφία. vid. Orat. iv. 1.


i. 27.


Is. i. 11.


vid. p. 315, note 6. Serap. ii. 2. fin.


John v. 17.


Ps. cxv. 3.


Rom. ix. 19.


§24, note 5.


Notes on §58, and de Decr. 1.


Vid. Orat. iv. 11.


1 Cor. 11:7, 9.


Cf. infr. ch. 20.


ργανον, supr. i. 26, n. 5.


πρῶτος ἡμῶν, §63, note.


μετοι καὶ ναυτίαὶ ναυτίαι sea-sickness; Epictetus, in a somewhat similar sense, ‘There is great danger of pouring forth straightway, what one has not digested.’ Enchirid. 46.

Next: Introduction to Proverbs viii. 22 continued. Contrast between the Father's operations immediately and naturally in the Son, instrumentally by the creatures; Scripture terms illustrative of this. Explanation of these illustrations; which should be interpreted by the doctrine of the Church; perverse sense put on them by the Arians, refuted. Mystery of Divine Generation. Contrast between God's Word and man's word drawn out at length. Asterius betrayed into holding two Unoriginates; his inconsistency. Baptism how by the Son as well as by the Father. On the Baptism of heretics. Why Arian worse than other heresies.

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