Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: Discussion as to the exact nature of the 'energies' which, this man declares, 'follow' the being of the Father and of the Son.
§17. Discussion as to the exact nature of the energies which, this man declares, follow the being of the Father and of the Son.
Then he says “there must of course be included in this account the energies that accompany each Being, and the names appropriate to these energies.” Shrouded in such a mist of vagueness, the meaning of this is far from clear: but one might conjecture it is as follows. By the energies of the Beings, he means those powers which have produced the Son and the Holy Spirit, and by which the First Being made the Second, and the Second the Third: and he means that the names of the results produced have been provided in a manner appropriate to those results. We have already exposed the mischief of these names, and will again, when we return to that part of the question, should additional discussion of it be required.
But it is worth a moments while now to consider how energies follow beings: what these energies are essentially: whether different to the beings which they follow, or part of them, and of their inmost nature: and then, if different, how and whence they arise: if the same, how they have got cut off from them, and instead of co-existing follow p. LV them externally only. This is necessary, for we cannot learn all at once from his words whether some natural necessity compels the energy, whatever that may be, to follow the being, the way heat and vapour follow fire, and the various exhalations the bodies which produce them. Still I do not think that he would affirm that we should consider the being of God to be something heterogeneous and composite, having the energy inalienably contained in the idea of itself, like an accident in some subject-matter: he must mean that the beings, deliberately and voluntarily moved, produce by themselves the desired result. But, if this be so, who would style this free result of intention as one of its external consequences? We have never heard of such an expression used in common parlance in such cases; the energy of the worker of anything is not said to follow that worker. We cannot separate one from the other and leave one behind by itself: but, when one mentions the energy, one comprehends in the idea that which is moved with the energy, and when one mentions the worker one implies at once the unmentioned energy.
An illustration will make our meaning clearer. We say a man works in iron, or in wood, or in anything else. This single expression conveys at once the idea of the working and of the artificer, so that if we withdraw the one, the other has no existence. If then they are thus thought of together, i.e. the energy and he who exercises it, how in this case can there be said to “follow” upon the first being the energy which produces the second being, like a sort of go-between to both, and neither coalescing with the nature of the first, nor combining with the second: separated from the first because it is not its very nature, but only the exercise of its nature, and from that which results afterwards because it does not therein reproduce a mere energy, but an active being.
Next: He has no reason for distinguishing a plurality of beings in the Trinity. He offers no demonstration that it is so.
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