Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He explains the phrase “The Lord created Me,” and the argument about the origination of the Son, the deceptive character of Eunomius' reasoning, and the passage which says, “My glory will I not give to another,” examining them from different points of view.
§10. He explains the phrase “The Lord created Me,” and the argument about the origination of the Son, the deceptive character of Eunomius reasoning, and the passage which says, “My glory will I not give to another,” examining them from different points of view.
But of course they bring forward the passage in the book of Proverbs which says, “The Lord created Me as the beginning of His ways, for His works 367 .” Now it would require a lengthy discussion to explain fully the real meaning of the passage: still it would be possible even in a few words to convey to well-disposed readers the thought intended. Some of those who are accurately versed in theology do say this, that the Hebrew text does not read “created,” and we have ourselves read in more ancient copies “possessed” instead of “created.” Now assuredly “possession” in the allegorical language of the Proverbs marks that slave Who for our sakes “took upon Him the form of a slave 368 .” But if any one should allege in this passage the reading which prevails in the Churches, we do not reject even the expression “created.” For this also in allegorical language is intended to connote the “slave,” since, as the Apostle tells us, “all creation is in bondage 369 .” Thus we say that this expression, as well as the other, admits of an orthodox interpretation. For He Who for our sakes became like as we are, was in the last days truly created,—He Who in the beginning being Word and God afterwards became Flesh and Man. For the nature of flesh is created: and by partaking in it in all points like as we do, yet without sin, He was created when He became man: and He was created “after God 370 ,” not after man, as the Apostle says, in a new manner and not according to human wont. For we are taught that this “new man” was created—albeit of the Holy Ghost and of the power of the Highest—whom Paul, the hierophant of unspeakable mysteries, bids us to “put on,” using two phrases to express the garment that is to be put on, saying in one place, “Put on the new man which after God is created 371 ,” and in another, “Put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ 372 .” For thus it is that He, Who said “I am the Way 373 ,” becomes to us who have put Him on the beginning of the ways of salvation, that He may make us the work of His own hands, new modelling us from the evil mould of sin once more to His own image. He is at once our foundation before the world to come, according to the words of Paul, who says, “Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid 374 ,” and it is true that “before the springs of the waters came forth, before the mountains were settled, before He made the depths, and before all hills, He begetteth Me 375 .” For it is possible, accordp. CXVIII ing to the usage of the Book of Proverbs, for each of these phrases, taken in a tropical sense, to be applied to the Word 376 . For the great David calls righteousness the “mountains of God 377 ,” His judgments “deeps 378 ,” and the teachers in the Churches “fountains,” saying “Bless God the Lord from the fountains of Israel 379 ”; and guilelessness he calls “hills,” as he shows when he speaks of their skipping like lambs 380 . Before these therefore is born in us He Who for our sakes was created as man, that of these things also the creation may find place in us. But we may, I think, pass from the discussion of these points, inasmuch as the truth has been sufficiently pointed out in a few words to well-disposed readers; let us proceed to what Eunomius says next.
“Existing in the Beginning,” he says, “not without beginning.” In what fashion does he who plumes himself on his superior discernment understand the oracles of God? He declares Him Who was in the beginning Himself to have a beginning: and is not aware that if He Who is in the beginning has a beginning, then the Beginning itself must needs have another beginning. Whatever He says of the beginning he must necessarily confess to be true of Him Who was in the beginning: for how can that which is in the beginning be severed from the beginning? and how can any one imagine a “was not” as preceding the “was”? For however far one carries back ones thought to apprehend the beginning, one most certainly understands as one does so that the Word which was in the beginning (inasmuch as It cannot be separated from the beginning in which It is) does not at any point of time either begin or cease its existence therein. Yet let no one be induced by these words of mine to separate into two the one beginning we acknowledge. For the beginning is most assuredly one, wherein is discerned, indivisibly, that Word Who is completely united to the Father. He who thus thinks will never leave heresy a loophole to impair his piety by the novelty of the term “ungenerate.” But in Eunomius next propositions his statements are like bread with a large admixture of sand. For by mixing his heretical opinions with sound doctrines, he makes uneatable even that which is in itself nutritious, by the gravel which he has mingled with it. For he calls the Lord “living wisdom,” “operative truth,” subsistent power, and “life”:—so far is the nutritious portion. But into these assertions he instils the poison of heresy. For when he speaks of the “life” as “generate” he makes a reservation by the implied opposition to the “ungenerate” life, and does not affirm the Son to be the very Life. Next he says:—“As Son of God, quickening the dead, the true light, the light that lighteneth every man coming into the world 381 , good, and the bestower of good things.” All these things he offers for honey to the simple-minded, concealing his deadly drug under the sweetness of terms like these. For he immediately introduces, on the heels of these statements, his pernicious principle, in the words “Not partitioning with Him that begat Him His high estate, not dividing with another the essence of the Father, but becoming by generation glorious, yea, the Lord of glory, and receiving glory from the Father, not sharing His glory with the Father, for the glory of the Almighty is incommunicable, as He hath said, My glory will I not give to another. 382 ” These are his deadly poisons, which they alone can discover who have their souls senses trained so to do: but the mortal mischief of the words is disclosed by their conclusion:—Receiving glory from the Father, not sharing glory with the Father, for the glory of the Almighty is incommunicable, as He hath said, My glory will I not give to another. Who is that “other” to whom God has said that He will not give His glory? The prophet speaks of the adversary of God, and Eunomius refers the prophecy to the only begotten God Himself! For when the prophet, speaking in the person of God, had said, “My glory will I not give to another,” he added, “neither My praise to graven images.” For when men were beguiled to offer to the adversary of God the worship and adoration due to God alone, paying homage in the representations of graven images to the enemy of God, who appeared in many shapes amongst men in the forms furnished by idols, He Who healeth them that are sick, in pity for mens ruin, foretold by the prophet the loving-kindness which in the latter days He would show in the abolishing of idols, saying, “When My truth shall have been manifested, My glory shall no more be given to another, nor My praise bestowed upon graven images: for men, when they come to know My glory, shall no more be in bondage to them that by nature are no gods.” All therefore that the prophet says in the person of the Lord concerning the power of the adversary, this fighter against God, refers to the Lord Himself, Who spake these words by the prophet! Who among the tyrants is recorded to have been such a persecutor of the faith as this? Who maintained such blasphemy as this, that He Who, as we believe, was manifested in the flesh for the salvation of our souls, is not very God, but the adversary of God, who puts his p. CXIX guile into effect against men by the instrumentality of idols and graven images? For it is what was said of that adversary by the prophet that Eunomius transfers to the only-begotten God, without so much as reflecting that it is the Only-begotten Himself Who spoke these words by the prophet, as Eunomius himself subsequently confesses when he says, “this is He Who spake by the prophets.”
Why should I pursue this part of the subject in more detail? For the words preceding also are tainted with the same profanity—“receiving glory from the Father, not sharing glory with the Father, for the glory of the Almighty God is incommunicable.” For my own part, even had his words referred to Moses who was glorified in the ministration of the Law,—not even then should I have tolerated such a statement, even if it be conceded that Moses, having no glory from within, appeared completely glorious to the Israelites by the favour bestowed on him from God. For the very glory that was bestowed on the lawgiver was the glory of none other but of God Himself, which glory the Lord in the Gospel bids all to seek, when He blames those who value human glory highly and seek not the glory that cometh from God only 383 . For by the fact that He commanded them to seek the glory that cometh from the only God, He declared the possibility of their obtaining what they sought. How then is the glory of the Almighty incommunicable, if it is even our duty to ask for the glory that cometh from the only God, and if, according to our Lords word, “every one that asketh receiveth 384 ?” But one who says concerning the Brightness of the Fathers glory, that He has the glory by having received it, says in effect that the Brightness of the glory is in Itself devoid of glory, and needs, in order to become Himself at last the Lord of some glory, to receive glory from another. How then are we to dispose of the utterances of the Truth,—one which tells us that He shall be seen in the glory of the Father 385 , and another which says, “All things that the Father hath are Mine 386 ”? To whom ought the hearer to give ear? To him who says, “He that is, as the Apostle says, the heir of all things 387 that are in the Father, is without part or lot in His Fathers glory”; or to Him Who declares that all things that the Father hath, He Himself hath also? Now among the “all things,” glory surely is included. Yet Eunomius says that the glory of the Almighty is incommunicable. This view Joel does not attest, nor yet the mighty Peter, who adopted, in his speech to the Jews, the language of the prophet. For both the prophet and the apostle say, in the person of God,—“I will pour out of My Spirit upon all flesh 388 .” He then Who did not grudge the partaking in His own Spirit to all flesh,—how can it be that He does not impart His own glory to the only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father, Who has all things that the Father has? Perhaps one should say that Eunomius is here speaking the truth, though not intending it. For the term “impart” is strictly used in the case of one who has not his glory from within, whose possession of it is an accession from without, and not part of his own nature: but where one and the same nature is observed in both Persons, He Who is as regards nature all that the Father is believed to be stands in no need of one to impart to Him each several attribute. This it will be well to explain more clearly and precisely. He Who has the Father dwelling in Him in His entirety—what need has He of the Fathers glory, when none of the attributes contemplated in the Father is withdrawn from Him?
Prov. viii. 22 (LXX.). The versions of Aquila, Theodotion, and Symmachus (to one or more of which perhaps §9 refers), all render the Hebrew by ἐκτήσατο (“possessed”), not by ἔκτισε (“created”). But Gregory may be referring to mss. of the LXX. version which read ἐκτήσατο. It is clear from what follows that Mr. Gwatkin is hardly justified in his remark (Studies of Arianism, p. 69), that “the whole discussion on Prov. viii. 22 (LXX.), Κύριος ἔκτισέ με, κ.τ.λ., might have been avoided by a glance at the original.” The point of the controversy might have been changed, but that would have been all. Gregory seems to feel that ἐκτήσατο requires an explanation, though he has one ready.CXVII:368
Phil. ii. 7.CXVII:369
Rom. viii. 20-1.CXVII:370
Eph. iv. 24.CXVII:371
Eph. iv. 24.CXVII:372
Rom. xiii. 14.CXVII:373
S. John xiv. 6CXVII:374
1 Cor. iii. 11.CXVII:375
Prov. viii. 23-25 (not quite verbal, from the LXX.).CXVIII:376
Or “to be brought into harmony with Christian doctrine” (ἐφαρμόσθῆναι τῷ λόγω).CXVIII:377
Ps. xxxvi. 6.CXVIII:378
Ps. xxxvi. 6.CXVIII:379
Ps. lxviii. 26 (LXX.).CXVIII:380
Cf. Ps. cxiv. 6CXVIII:381
Cf. S. John i. 9CXVIII:382
Is. xlii. 8.CXIX:383
Cf. S. John v. 44CXIX:384
S. Matt. vii. 8CXIX:385
S. Mark viii. 38.CXIX:386
S. John xvi. 15CXIX:387
Heb. i. 2.CXIX:388
Joel ii. 28; Acts ii. 17.
Next: After expounding the high estate of the Almighty, the Eternity of the Son, and the phrase “being made obedient,” he shows the folly of Eunomius in his assertion that the Son did not acquire His sonship by obedience.
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