Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: His dictum that 'the manner of the likeness must follow the manner of the generation' is unintelligible.
§32. His dictum that the manner of the likeness must follow the manner of the generation is unintelligible.
But to prevent such a thought being entertained, and pretending to be forced somehow away from it, he says that he withdraws from all these results of Providence, and goes back to the manner of the Sons generation, because “the manner of His likeness must follow the manner of His generation.” What an irresistible proof! How forcibly does this verbiage compel assent! What skill and precision there is in the wording of this assertion! Then, if we know the manner of the generation, we shall know by that the manner of the likeness. Well, then; seeing that all, or at all events most, animals born by parturition have the same manner of generation, and, according to their logic, the manner of likeness follows this manner of generation, these animals, following as they do the same model in their production, will resemble entirely those similarly generated; for things that are like the same thing are like one another. If, then, according to the view of this heresy, the manner of the generation makes every thing generated just like itself, and it is a fact that this manner does not vary at all in diversified kinds of animals but remains the same in the greatest part of them, we shall find that this sweeping and unqualified assertion of his establishes, by virtue of this similarity of birth, a mutual resemblance between men, dogs, camels, mice, elephants, leopards, and every other animal which Nature produces in the same manner. Or does he mean, not, that things brought into the world in a similar way are all like each other, but that each one of them is like that being only which is the source of its life. But if so, he ought to have declared that the child is like the parent, not that the “manner of the likeness” resembles the “manner of the generation.” But this, which is so probable in itself, and is observed as a fact in Nature, that the begotten resembles the begetter, he will not admit as a truth; it would reduce his whole argumentation to a proof of the contrary of what he intended. If he allowed the offspring to be like the parent, his laboured store of arguments to prove the unlikeness of the Beings would be refuted as evanescent and groundless.
So he says “the manner of the likeness follows the manner of the generation.” This, when tested by the exact critic of the meaning of any idea 166 , will be found completely unintelp. LXXVII ligible. It is plainly impossible to say what a “manner of generation” can mean. Does it mean the figure of the parent, or his impulse, or his disposition; or the time, or the place, or the completing of the embryo by conception; or the generative receptacles; or nothing of that kind, but something else of the things observed in generation. It is impossible to find out what he means. The impropriety and vagueness of the word “manner” causes perplexity as to its signification here; every possible one is equally open to our surmises, and presents as well an equal want of connexion with the subject before us. So also with this phrase of his “manner of likeness;” it is devoid of any vestige of meaning, if we fix our attention on the examples familiarly known to us. For the thing generated is not to be likened there to the kind or the manner of its birth. Birth consists, in the case of animal birth, in a separation of body from body, in which the animal perfectly moulded in the womb is brought forth; but the thing born is a man, or horse, or cow, or whatever it may chance to be in its existence through birth. How, therefore, the “manner of the likeness of the offspring follows the manner of its generation” must be left to him, or to some pupil of his in midwifery, to explain. Birth is one thing: the thing born is another: they are different ideas altogether. No one with any sense would deny that what he says is perfectly untrue in the case of animal births. But if he calls the actual making and the actual fashioning a “manner of the generation,” which the “manner of the likeness” of the thing produced is to “follow,” even so his statement is removed from all likelihood, as we shall see from some illustrations. Iron is hammered out by the blows of the artificer into some useful instrument. How, then, the outline of its edge, if such there happen to be, can be said to be similar to the hand of the worker, or to the manner of its fashioning, to the hammers, for instance, and the coals and the bellows and the anvil by means of which he has moulded it, no one could explain. And what can be said in one case fits all, where there is any operation producing a result; the thing produced cannot be said to be like the “manner of its generation.” What has the shape of a garment got to do with the spool, or the rods, or the comb, or with the form of the weavers instruments at all? What has an actual seat got to do with the working of the blocks; or any finished production with the build of him who achieved it?—But I think even our opponents would allow that this rule of his is not in force in sensible and material instances.
It remains to see whether it contributes anything further to the proof of his blasphemy. What, then, was he aiming at? The necessity of believing in accordance with their being in the likeness or unlikeness of the Son to the Father; and, as we cannot know about this being from considerations of Providence, the necessity of having recourse to the “manner of the generation,” whereby we may know, not indeed whether the Begotten is like the Begetter (absolutely), but only a certain “manner of likeness” between them; and as this manner is a secret to the many, the necessity of going at some length into the being of the Begetter. Then has he forgotten his own definitions about the beings having to be known from their works? But this begotten being, which he calls the work of the supreme being, has as yet no light thrown upon it (according to him); so how can its nature be dealt with? And how can he “mount above this lower and therefore more directly comprehensible thing,” and so cling to the absolute and supreme being? Again, he always throughout his discourse lays claim to an accurate knowledge of the divine utterances; yet here he pays them scant reverence, ignoring the fact that it is not possible to approach to a knowledge of the Father except through the Son. “No man knoweth the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son shall reveal Him 167 .” Yet Eunomius, while on every occasion, where he can insult our devout and God-adoring conceptions of the Son, he asserts in plain words the Sons inferiority, establishes His superiority unconsciously in this device of his for knowing the Deity; for he assumes that the Fathers being lends itself the more readily to our comprehension, and then attempts to trace and argue out the Sons nature from that.
Matt. xi. 27.
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