Chapter XXIX.—Texts Explained; Twelfthly, Matthew xxvi. 39; John xii. 27, &c. Arian inferences are against the Regula Fidei, as before. p. 423 He wept and the like, as man. Other texts prove Him God. God could not fear. He feared because His flesh feared.
54. Therefore as, when the flesh advanced, He is said to have advanced, because the body was His own, so also what is said at the season of His death, that He was troubled, that He wept, must be taken in the same sense 3168 . For they, going up and down 3169 , as if thereby recommending their heresy anew, allege; “Behold, He wept, and said, Now is My soul troubled, and He besought that the cup might pass away; how then, if He so spoke, is He God, and Word of the Father?” Yea, it is written that He wept, O Gods enemies, and that He said, I am troubled, and on the Cross He said, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani, that is, My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me? and He besought that the cup might pass away 3170 . Thus certainly it is written; but again I would ask you (for the same rejoinder must of necessity be made to each of your objections 3171 ), If the speaker is mere man, let him weep and fear death, as being man; but if He is the Word in flesh 3172 (for one must not be reluctant to repeat), whom had He to fear being God? or wherefore should He fear death, who was Himself Life, and was rescuing others from death? or how, whereas He said, Fear not him that kills the body 3173 , should He Himself fear? And how should He who said to Abraham, Fear not, for I am with thee, and encouraged Moses against Pharaoh, and said to the son of Nun, Be strong, and of a good courage 3174 , Himself feel terror before Herod and Pilate? Further, He who succours others against fear (for the Lord, says Scripture, is on my side, I will not fear what man shall do unto me 3175 ), did He fear governors, mortal men? did He who Himself was come against death, feel terror of death? Is it not both unseemly and irreligious to say that He was terrified at death or hades, whom the keepers of the gates of hades 3176 saw and shuddered? But if, as you would hold, the Word was in terror wherefore, when He spoke long before of the conspiracy of the Jews, did He not flee, nay said when actually sought, I am He? for He could have avoided death, as He said, I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it again; and No one taketh it from Me 3177 .
55. But these affections were not proper to the nature of the Word, as far as He was Word; but in the flesh which was thus affected was the Word, O Christs enemies and unthankful Jews! For He said not all this prior to the flesh; but when the Word became flesh, and has become man, then is it written that He said this, that is, humanly. Surely He of whom this is written was He who raised Lazarus from the dead, and made the water wine, and vouchsafed sight to the man born blind, and said, I and My Father are one 3178 . If then they make His human attributes a ground for low thoughts concerning the Son of God, nay consider Him altogether man from the earth, and not 3179 from heaven, wherefore not from His divine works recognise the Word who is in the Father, and henceforward renounce their self-willed 3180 irreligion? For they are given to see, how He who did the works is the same as He who shewed that His body was passible by His permitting 3181 it to weep and hunger, and to shew other properties of a body. For while by means of such He made it known that, though God impassible, He had taken a passible flesh; yet from the works He shewed Himself the Word of God, who had afterwards become man, saying, Though ye believe not Me, beholding Me clad in a human body, yet believe the works, that ye may know that “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. 3182 ” And Christs enemies seem to me to shew plain shamelessness and blasphemy; for, when they hear I and the Father are one 3183 , they violently distort the sense, and separate the unity of the Father and the Son; but reading of His tears or sweat or sufferings, they do not advert to His body, but on account of these rank in the creation Him by whom the creation was made. What then is left for them to differ from the Jews in? for as the Jews blasphemously ascribed Gods works to Beelzebub, so also will these, ranking with the creatures the Lord who wrought those works, undergo the same condemnation as theirs without mercy.
56. But they ought, when they hear I and the Father are one, to see in Him the oneness of the Godhead and the propriety of the Fathers Essence; and again when they hear, He wept and the like, to say that these are proper to the body; especially since on each side they have an intelligible ground, viz. that this is written as of God and that with reference p. 424 to His manhood. For in the incorporeal, the properties of body had not been, unless He had taken a body corruptible and mortal 3184 ; for mortal was Holy Mary, from whom was His body. Wherefore of necessity when He was in a body suffering, and weeping, and toiling, these things which are proper to the flesh, are ascribed to Him together with the body. If then He wept and was troubled, it was not the Word, considered as the Word, who wept and was troubled, but it was proper to the flesh; and if too He besought that the cup might pass away, it was not the Godhead that was in terror, but this affection too was proper to the manhood. And that the words Why hast Thou forsaken Me? are His, according to the foregoing explanations (though He suffered nothing, for the Word was impassible), is notwithstanding declared by the Evangelists; since the Lord became man, and these things are done and said as from a man, that He might Himself lighten 3185 these very sufferings of the flesh, and free it from them 3186 . Whence neither can the Lord be forsaken by the Father, who is ever in the Father, both before He spoke, and when He uttered this cry. Nor is it lawful to say that the Lord was in terror, at whom the keepers of hells gates shuddered 3187 and set open hell, and the graves did gape, and many bodies of the saints arose and appeared to their own people 3188 . Therefore be every heretic dumb, nor dare to ascribe terror to the Lord whom death, as a serpent, flees, at whom demons tremble, and the sea is in alarm; for whom the heavens are rent and all the powers are shaken. For behold when He says, Why hast Thou forsaken Me? the Father shewed that He was ever and even then in Him; for the earth knowing its Lord 3189 who spoke, straightway trembled, and the vail was rent, and the sun was hidden, and the rocks were torn asunder, and the graves, as I have said, did gape, and the dead in them arose; and, what is wonderful, they who were then present and had before denied Him, then seeing these signs, confessed that truly He was the Son of God 3190 .
57. And as to His saying, If it be possible, let the cup pass, observe how, though He thus spake, He rebuked 3191 Peter, saying, Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. For He willed 3192 what He deprecated, for therefore had He come; but His was the willing (for for it He came), but the terror belonged to the flesh. Wherefore as man He utters this speech also, and yet both were said by the Same, to shew that He was God, willing in Himself, but when He had become man, having a flesh that was in terror. For the sake of this flesh He combined His own will with human weakness 3193 , that destroying this affection He might in turn make man undaunted in face of death. Behold then a thing strange indeed! He to whom Christs enemies impute words of terror, He by that so-called 3194 tenor renders men undaunted and fearless. And so the Blessed Apostles after Him from such words of His conceived so great a contempt of death, as not even to care for those who questioned them, but to answer, We ought to obey God rather than men 3195 . And the other Holy Martyrs were so bold, as to think that they were rather passing to life than undergoing death. Is it not extravagant then, to admire the courage of the servants of the Word, yet to say that the Word Himself was in terror, through whom they despised death? But from that most enduring purpose and courage of the Holy Martyrs is shewn, that the Godhead was not in terror, but the Saviour took away our terror. For as He abolished death by death, and by human means all human evils, so by this so-called terror did He remove our terror, and brought about that never more should men fear death. His word and deed go together. For human were the sayings, Let the cup pass, and Why hast Thou forsaken Me? and divine the act whereby the Same did cause the sun to fail and the dead to rise. Again He said humanly, Now is My soul troubled; and He said divinely, I have power to lay down My life, and power to take it again 3196 . For to be troubled was proper p. 425 to the flesh, and to have power to lay down His life 3197 and take it again, when He will, was no property of men but of the Words power. For man dies, not by his own power, but by necessity of nature and against his will; but the Lord, being Himself immortal, but having a mortal flesh, had power, as God, to become separate from the body and to take it again, when He would. Concerning this too speaks David in the Psalm, Thou shalt not leave My soul in hades, neither shalt Thou suffer Thy Holy One to see corruption 3198 . For it beseemed that the flesh, corruptible as it was, should no longer after its own nature remain mortal, but because of the Word who had put it on, should abide incorruptible. For as He, having come in our body, was conformed to our condition, so we, receiving Him, partake of the immortality that is from Him.
58. Idle then is the excuse for stumbling, and petty the notions concerning the Word, of these Ario-maniacs, because it is written, He was troubled, and He wept. For they seem not even to have human feeling, if they are thus ignorant of mans nature and properties; which do but make it the greater wonder, that the Word should be in such a suffering flesh, and neither prevented those who were conspiring against Him, nor took vengeance of those who were putting Him to death, though He was able, He who hindered some from dying, and raised others from the dead. And He let His own body suffer, for therefore did He come, as I said before, that in the flesh He might suffer, and thenceforth the flesh might be made impassible and immortal 3199 , and that, as we have many times said, contumely and other troubles might determine upon Him and come short of others after Him, being by Him annulled utterly; and that henceforth men might for ever abide 3200 incorruptible, as a temple of the Word 3201 . Had Christs enemies thus dwelt on these thoughts, and recognised the ecclesiastical scope as an anchor for the faith, they would not have made shipwreck of the faith, nor been so shameless as to resist those who would fain recover them from their fall, and to deem those as enemies who are admonishing them to be religious 3202 .
Job xxxviii. 17. LXX.; De Syn. 8, below, §56.423:3177
John xviii. 5; x. 18.423:3178 423:3179 423:3180 423:3181
This our Lords suspense or permission, at His will, of the operations of His manhood is a great principle in the doctrine of the Incarnation. Cf. Theophylact, in Joh. xi. 34. And Cyril, fragm. in Joan. p. 685. Leon. Ep. 35, 3. Aug. in Joan. xlix. 18. vid. note on §57, sub. fin. The Eutychians perverted this doctrine, as if it implied that our Lord was not subject to the laws of human nature, and that He suffered merely by permission of the Word. Leont. ap. Canis. t. i. p. 563. In like manner Marcion or Manes said that His flesh appeared from heaven in resemblance, ὡς ἠθέλησεν. Athan. contr. Apoll. ii. 3.423:3182
John x. 38; xiv. 10.423:3183 424:3184 424:3185 424:3186 424:3187
Job xxxviii. 17, LXX.424:3188 424:3189 424:3190
Vid. Matt. xxvii. 54. Vid. Or. ii. 16; 35, n. 2. Cf. Leos Tome (Ep. 28.) 4. Nyssen, contr. Eunom. iv. p. 161. Ambros. Epist. i. 46. n. 7. vid. Hil. Trin. x. 48. Also vid. Athan. Sent. D. fin. Serm. Maj. de Fid. 24.424:3191
Matt. xvi. 23, cf. §§40, 41.424:3192 424:3193
It is observable that, as elsewhere we have seen Athan. speak of the nature of the Word, and of, not the nature of man as united to Him, but of flesh, humanity, &c. (vid. Or. ii. 45, n. 2.) so here, instead of speaking of two wills, he speaks of the Words willing and human weakness, terror, &c. In another place he says still more pointedly, The will was of the Godhead alone; since the whole nature of the Word was manifested in the second Adams human form and visible flesh. contr. Apoll. ii. 10. Cf. S. Leo on the same passage: The first request is one of infirmity, the second of power; the first He asked in our [character], the second in His own.…The inferior will give way to the superior, &c. Serm. 56, 2. vid. a similar passage in Nyssen. Antirrh. adv. Apol. 32. vid. also 31. An obvious objection may be drawn from such passages, as if the will of the flesh were represented as contrary (vid. foregoing note) to the will of the Word. The whole of our Lords prayer is offered by Him as man, because it is a prayer; the first part is not from Him as man, but the second, which corrects it, from Him as God [i.e. the first part is not human as contrasted with the second]; but the former part is from the sinless infirmity of our nature, the latter from His human will expressing its acquiescence in His Fathers, that is, in His Divine Will. His Will, says S. Greg. Naz. was not contrary to God, being all deified, θεωθὲν ὅλον.424:3194 424:3195 424:3196
John xii. 27; x. 18.425:3197
This might be taken as an illustration of the ut voluit supr. Or. i. 44, n. 11. And so the expressions in the Evangelists, Into Thy hands I commend My Spirit, He bowed the head, He gave up the ghost, are taken to imply that His death was His free act. vid. Ambros. in loc. Luc. Hieron. in loc. Matt. also Athan. Serm. Maj. de Fid. 4. It is Catholic doctrine that our Lord, as man, submitted to death of His free will, and not as obeying an express command of the Father. Cf. S. Chrysostom on John x. 18. Theophylact. in Hebr. xii. 2; Aug. de Trin. iv. 16.425:3198 425:3199 425:3200 425:3201 425:3202
Thus ends the exposition of texts, which forms the body of these Orations. It is remarkable that he ends as he began, with reference to the ecclesiastical scope, or Regula Fidei, which has so often come under our notice, vid. Or. ii. 35. n. 2. 44, n. 1, as if distinctly to tell us, that Scripture did not so force its meaning on the individual as to dispense with an interpreter, and as if his own deductions were not to be viewed merely in their own logical power, great as that power often is, but as under the authority of the Catholic doctrines which they subserve. Vid. Or. iii. 18, n. 3.
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