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Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:
Dogmatic Treatises.: A passing repetition of the teaching of the Church.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

§36. A passing repetition of the teaching of the Church.

But if a man keeps steadfast to the sound doctrine, and believes that the Son is of the nature which is divine without admixture, he will find everything in harmony with the other truths of his religion, viz., that Our Lord is the maker of all things, that He is King of the universe, set above it not by an arbitrary act of capricious power, but ruling by virtue of a superior nature; and besides this, he will find that the one First Cause 188 , as taught by us, is not divided by any unlikeness of substance into separate first causes, but one Godhead, one Cause, one Power over all things is believed in, that Godhead being discoverable by the harmony existing between these like beings, and leading on the mind through one like to another like, so that the Cause of all things, which is Our Lord, shines in our hearts by means of the Holy Spirit; (for it is impossible, as the Apostle says, that the Lord Jesus can be truly known, “except by the Holy Spirit 189 ”); and then all the Cause beyond, which is God over all, is found through Our Lord, Who is the Cause of all things; nor, indeed, is it possible to gain an exact knowledge of the Archetypal Good, except as it appears in the (visible) image of that invisible. But then, after passing that summit of theology, I mean the God over all, we turn as it were back again in the racecourse of the mind, and speed through conjoint and kindred ideas from the Father, through the Son, to the Holy Ghost. For once having taken our stand on the comprehension of the Ungenerate Light, we perceive 190 that moment from that vantage ground the Light that streams from Him, like the ray co-existent with the sun, whose cause indeed is in the sun, but whose existence is synchronous with the sun, not being a later addition, but appearing at the first sight of the sun itself: or rather (for there is no necessity to be slaves to this similitude, and so give a handle to the critics to use against our teaching by reason of the inadequacy of our image), it will not be a ray of the sun that we shall perceive, but another sun blazing forth, as an offspring, out of the Ungenerate sun, and simultaneously with our conception of the First, and in every way like him, in beauty, in power, in lustre, in size, p. LXXXV in brilliance, in all things at once that we observe in the sun. Then again, we see yet another such Light after the same fashion sundered by no interval of time from that offspring Light, and while shining forth by means of It yet tracing the source of its being to the Primal Light; itself, nevertheless, a Light shining in like manner as the one first conceived of, and itself a source of light and doing all that light does. There is, indeed, no difference between one light and another light, qua light, when the one shows no lack or diminution of illuminating grace, but by its complete perfection forms part of the highest light of all, and is beheld along with the Father and the Son, though counted after them, and by its own power gives access to the light that is perceived in the Father and Son to all who are able to partake of it. So far upon this.



One First Cause, μοναρχίας. In a notable passage on the Greeks who came up to the Feast (John xii. 20), Cyril (Catena, p. 307), uses the same word. “Such, seeing that some of the Jews’ customs did not greatly differ from their own, as far as related to the manner of sacrifice, and the belief in a One first Cause…came up with them to worship,” &c. Philo had already used the word so (De Charit.). Athanasius opposes it to πολυθεία (Quæst. ad Antioch. I.).


1 Cor. xii. 3.


νοήσαμεν: aorist of instantaneous action.

Next: Defence of S. Basil's statement, attacked by Eunomius, that the terms 'Father' and 'The Ungenerate' can have the same meaning.

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