Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He thus proceeds to a magnificent discourse of the interpretation of “Mediator,” “Like,” “Ungenerate,” and “generate,” and of “The likeness and seal of the energy of the Almighty and of His Works.”
§12. He thus proceeds to a magnificent discourse of the interpretation of “Mediator,” “Like,” “Ungenerate,” and “generate,” and of “The likeness and seal of the energy of the Almighty and of His Works.”
Again, what is the manifold mediation which with wearying iteration he assigns to God, calling Him “Mediator in doctrines, Mediator in the Law 411 ”? It is not thus that we are taught by the lofty utterance of the Apostle, who says that having made void the law of commandments by His own doctrines, He is the mediator between God and man, declaring it by this saying, “There is one God, and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus 412 ;” where by the distinction implied in the word “mediator” he reveals to us the whole aim of the mystery of godliness. Now the aim is this. Humanity once revolted through the malice of the enemy, and, brought into bondage to sin, was also alienated from the true Life. After this the Lord of the creature calls back to Him His own creature, and becomes Man while still remaining God, being both God and Man in the entirety of the two several natures, and thus humanity was indissolubly united to God, the Man that is in Christ conducting the work of mediation, to Whom, by the first-fruits assumed for us, all the lump is potentially united 413 . Since, then, a mediator is not a mediator of one 414 , and God is one, not divided among the Persons in Whom we have been taught to believe (for the Godhead in the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost is one), the Lord, therefore, becomes a mediator once for all betwixt p. CXXIII God and men, binding man to the Deity by Himself. But even by the idea of a mediator we are taught the godly doctrine enshrined in the Creed. For the Mediator between God and man entered as it were into fellowship with human nature, not by being merely deemed a man, but having truly become so: in like manner also, being very God, He has not, as Eunomius will have us consider, been honoured by the bare title of Godhead.
What he adds to the preceding statements is characterized by the same want of meaning, or rather by the same malignity of meaning. For in calling Him “Son” Whom, a little before, he had plainly declared to be created, and in calling Him “only begotten God” Whom he reckoned with the rest of things that have come into being by creation, he affirms that He is like Him that begat Him only “by an especial likeness, in a peculiar sense.” Accordingly, we must first distinguish the significations of the term “like,” in how many senses it is employed in ordinary use, and afterwards proceed to discuss Eunomius positions. In the first place, then, all things that beguile our senses, not being really identical in nature, but producing illusion by some of the accidents of the respective subjects, as form, colour, sound, and the impressions conveyed by taste or smell or touch, while really different in nature, but supposed to be other than they truly are, these custom declares to have the relation of “likeness,” as, for example, when the lifeless material is shaped by art, whether carving, painting, or modelling, into an imitation of a living creature, the imitation is said to be “like” the original. For in such a case the nature of the animal is one thing, and that of the material, which cheats the sight by mere colour and form, is another. To the same class of likeness belongs the image of the original figure in a mirror, which gives appearances of motion, without, however, being in nature identical with its original. In just the same way our hearing may experience the same deception, when, for instance, some one, imitating the song of the nightingale with his own voice, persuades our hearing so that we seem to be listening to the bird. Taste, again, is subject to the same illusion, when the juice of figs mimics the pleasant taste of honey: for there is a certain resemblance to the sweetness of honey in the juice of the fruit. So, too, the sense of smell may sometimes be imposed upon by resemblance, when the scent of the herb camomile, imitating the fragrant apple itself, deceives our perception: and in the same way with touch also, likeness belies the truth in various modes, since a silver or brass coin, of equal size and similar weight with a gold one, may pass for the gold piece if our sight does not discern the truth.
We have thus generally described in a few words the several cases in which objects, because they are deemed to be different from what they really are, produce delusions in our senses. It is possible, of course, by a more laborious investigation, to extend ones enquiry through all things which are really different in kind one from another, but are nevertheless thought, by virtue of some accidental resemblance, to be like one to the other. Can it possibly be such a form of “likeness” as this, that he is continually attributing to the Son? Nay, surely he cannot be so infatuated as to discover deceptive similarity in Him Who is the Truth. Again, in the inspired Scriptures, we are told of another kind of resemblance by Him Who said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness 415 ;” but I do not suppose that Eunomius would discern this kind of likeness between the Father and the Son, so as to make out the Only-begotten God to be identical with man. We are also aware of another kind of likeness, of which the word speaks in Genesis concerning Seth,—“Adam begat a son in his own likeness, after his image 416 ”; and if this is the kind of likeness of which Eunomius speaks, we do not think his statement is to be rejected. For in this case the nature of the two objects which are alike is not different, and the impress and type imply community of nature. These, or such as these, are our views upon the variety of meanings of “like.” Let us see, then, with what intention Eunomius asserts of the Son that “especial likeness” to the Father, when he says that He is “like the Father with an especial likeness, in a peculiar sense, not as Father to Father, for they are not two Fathers.” He promises to show us the “especial likeness” of the Son to the Father, and proceeds by his definition to establish the position that we ought not to conceive of Him as being like. For by saying, “He is not like as Father to Father,” he makes out that He is not like; and again when he adds, “nor as Ungenerate to Ungenerate,” by this phrase, too, he forbids us to conceive a likeness in the Son to the Father; and finally, by subjoining “nor as Son to Son,” he introduces a third conception, by which he entirely subverts the meaning of “like.” So it is that he follows up his own statements, and conducts his demonstration of likeness by establishing unlikeness. And now let us examine the discernment and frankness which he displays in these distinctions. After saying that the Son is like the Father, he guards the statement by adding that we ought not to think that the Son is like the Father, “as Father to Father.” Why, what man on p. CXXIV earth is such a fool as, on learning that the Son is like the Father, to be brought by any course of reasoning to think of the likeness of Father to Father? “Nor as Son to Son”:—here, again, the acuteness of the distinction is equally conspicuous. When he tells us that the Son is like the Father, he adds the further definition that He must not be understood to be like Him in the same way as He would be like another Son. These are the mysteries of the awful doctrines of Eunomius, by which his disciples are made wiser than the rest of the world, by learning that the Son, by His likeness to the Father, is not like a Son, for the Son is not the Father: nor is He like “as Ungenerate to Ungenerate,” for the Son is not ungenerate. But the mystery which we have received, when it speaks of the Father, certainly bids us understand the Father of the Son, and when it names the Son, teaches us to apprehend the Son of the Father. And until the present time we never felt the need of these philosophic refinements, that by the words Father and Son are suggested two Fathers or two Sons, a pair, so to say, of ungenerate beings.
Now the drift of Eunomius excessive concern about the Ungenerate has been often explained before; and it shall here be briefly discovered yet again. For as the term Father points to no difference of nature from the Son, his impiety, if he had brought his statement to a close here, would have had no support, seeing that the natural sense of the names Father and Son excludes the idea of their being alien in essence. But as it is, by employing the terms “generate” and “ungenerate,” since the contradictory opposition between them admits of no mean, just like that between “mortal” and “immortal,” “rational” and “irrational,” and all those terms which are opposed to each other by the mutually exclusive nature of their meaning,—by the use of these terms, I repeat, he gives free course to his profanity, so as to contemplate as existing in the “generate” with reference to the “ungenerate” the same difference which there is between “mortal” and “immortal”: and even as the nature of the mortal is one, and that of the immortal another, and as the special attributes of the rational and of the irrational are essentially incompatible, just so he wants to make out that the nature of the ungenerate is one, and that of the generate another, in order to show that as the irrational nature has been created in subjection to the rational, so the generate is by a necessity of its being in a state of subordination to the ungenerate. For which reason he attaches to the ungenerate the name of “Almighty,” and this he does not apply to express providential operation, as the argument led the way for him in suggesting, but transfers the application of the word to arbitrary sovereignty, so as to make the Son to be a part of the subject and subordinate universe, a fellow-slave with all the rest to Him Who with arbitrary and absolute sovereignty controls all alike. And that it is with an eye to this result that he employs these argumentative distinctions, will be clearly established from the passage before us. For after those sapient and carefully-considered expressions, that He is not like either as Father to Father, or as Son to Son,—and yet there is no necessity that father should invariably be like father or son like son: for suppose there is one father among the Ethiopians, and another among the Scythians, and each of these has a son, the Ethiopians son black, but the Scythian white-skinned and with hair of a golden tinge, yet none the more because each is a father does the Scythian turn black on the Ethiopians account, nor does the Ethiopians body change to white on account of the Scythian,—after saying this, however, according to his own fancy, Eunomius subjoins that “He is like as Son to Father 417 .” But although such a phrase indicates kinship in nature, as the inspired Scripture attests in the case of Seth and Adam, our doctor, with but small respect for his intelligent readers, introduces his idle exposition of the title “Son,” defining Him to be the image and seal of the energy 418 of the Almighty. “For the Son,” he says, “is the image and seal of the energy of the Almighty.” Let him who hath ears to hear first, I pray, consider this particular point—What is “the seal of the energy”? Every energy is contemplated as exertion in the party who exhibits it, and on the completion of his exertion, it has no independent existence. Thus, for example, the energy of the runner is the motion of his feet, and when the motion has stopped there is no longer any energy. So too about every pursuit the same may be said;—when the exertion of him who is busied about anything ceases, the energy ceases also, and has no independent existence, either when a person is actively engaged in the exertion he undertakes, or when he ceases from that exertion. What then does he tell us that the energy is in itself, which is neither essence, nor image, nor person? So he speaks of the Son as the similitude of the impersonal, and that which is like the non-existent surely has itself no existence at all. This is what his juggling with idle opinions comes to,—belief in nonentity! for that which is like nonentity surely p. CXXV itself is not. O Paul and John and all you others of the band of Apostles and Evangelists, who are they that arm their venomous tongues against your words? who are they that raise their frog-like croakings against your heavenly thunder? What then saith the son of thunder? “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God 419 .” And what saith he that came after him, that other who had been within the heavenly temple, who in Paradise had been initiated into mysteries unspeakable? “Being,” he says, “the Brightness of His glory, and the express Image of His person 420 .” What, after these have thus spoken, are the words of our ventriloquist 421 ? “The seal,” quoth he, “of the energy of the Almighty.” He makes Him third after the Father, with that non-existent energy mediating between them, or rather moulded at pleasure by non-existence. God the Word, Who was in the beginning, is “the seal of the energy”:—the Only-begotten God, Who is contemplated in the eternity of the Beginning of existent things, Who is in the bosom of the Father 422 , Who sustains all things, by the word of His power 423 , the creator of the ages, from Whom and through Whom and in Whom are all things 424 , Who sitteth upon the circle of the earth, and hath meted out heaven with the span, Who measureth the water in the hollow of his hand 425 , Who holdeth in His hand all things that are, Who dwelleth on high and looketh upon the things that are lowly 426 , or rather did look upon them to make all the world to be His footstool 427 , imprinted by the footmark of the Word—the form of God 428 is “the seal” of an “energy.” Is God then an energy, not a Person? Surely Paul when expounding this very truth says He is “the express image,” not of His energy, but “of His Person.” Is the Brightness of His glory a seal of the energy of God? Alas for his impious ignorance! What is there intermediate between God and His own form? and Whom does the Person employ as mediator with His own express image? and what can be conceived as coming between the glory and its brightness? But while there are such weighty and numerous testimonies wherein the greatness of the Lord of the creation is proclaimed by those who were entrusted with the proclamation of the Gospel, what sort of language does this forerunner of the final apostasy hold concerning Him? What says he? “As image,” he says, “and seal of all the energy and power of the Almighty.” How does he take upon himself to emend the words of the mighty Paul? Paul says that the Son is “the Power of God 429 ”; Eunomius calls Him “the seal of a power,” not the Power. And then, repeating his expression, what is it that he adds to his previous statement? He calls Him “seal of the Fathers works and words and counsels.” To what works of the Father is He like? He will say, of course, the world, and all things that are therein. But the Gospel has testified that all these things are the works of the Only-begotten. To what works of the Father, then, was He likened? of what works was He made the seal? what Scripture ever entitled Him “seal of the Fathers works”? But if any one should grant Eunomius the right to fashion his words at his own will, as he desires, even though Scripture does not agree with him, let him tell us what works of the Father there are of which he says that the Son was made the seal, apart from those that have been wrought by the Son. All things visible and invisible are the work of the Son: in the visible are included the whole world and all that is therein; in the invisible, the supramundane creation. What works of the Father, then, are remaining to be contemplated by themselves, over and above things visible and invisible, whereof he says that the Son was made the “seal”? Will he perhaps, when driven into a corner, return once more to the fetid vomit of heresy, and say that the Son is a work of the Father? How then does the Son come to be the seal of these works when He Himself, as Eunomius says, is the work of the Father? Or does he say that the same Person is at once a work and the likeness of a work? Let this be granted: let us suppose him to speak of the other works of which he says the Father was the creator, if indeed he intends us to understand likeness by the term “seal.” But what other “words” of the Father does Eunomius know, besides that Word Who was ever in the Father, Whom he calls a “seal”—Him Who is and is called the Word in the absolute, true, and primary sense? And to what counsels can he possibly refer, apart from the Wisdom of God, to which the Wisdom of God is made like, in becoming a “seal” of those counsels? Look at the want of discrimination and circumspection, at the confused muddle of his statement, how he brings the mystery into ridicule, without understanding either what he says or what he is arguing about. For He Who has the Father in His entirety in Himself, and is Himself in His entirety in the Father, as Word and Wisdom and Power and Truth, as His express image and brightness, Himself is all things in the Father, and does not come to be the image and seal and likeness of certain other things discerned in the Father prior to Himself.
p. CXXVI Then Eunomius allows to Him the credit of the destruction of men by water in the days of Noah, of the rain of fire that fell upon Sodom, and of the just vengeance upon the Egyptians, as though he were making some great concessions to Him Who holds in His hand the ends of the world, in Whom, as the Apostle says, “all things consist 430 ,” as though he were not aware that to Him Who encompasses all things, and guides and sways according to His good pleasure all that hath already been and all that will be, the mention of two or three marvels does not mean the addition of glory, so much as the suppression of the rest means its deprivation or loss. But even if no word be said of these, the one utterance of Paul is enough by itself to point to them all inclusively—the one utterance which says that He “is above all, and through all, and in all 431 .”
Here again the exact connexion of the quotation from Eunomius with the extracts preceding is uncertain.CXXII:412
Cf. 1 Tim. ii. 5CXXII:413
Cf. Rom. xi. 16CXXII:414
Gal. iii. 20.CXXIII:415
Gen. i. 26.CXXIII:416
Gen. v. 3.CXXIV:417
This is apparently a quotation from Eunomius in continuation of what has gone before.CXXIV:418
The word employed is ἐνέργεια; which might be translated by “active force,” or “operation,” as elsewhere.CXXV:419
S. John i. 1CXXV:420
Heb. i. 3.CXXV:421
Cf. the use of ἐγγαστρίμυθος in LXX. (e.g. Lev. xix. 31, Is. xliv. 25).CXXV:422
S. John i. 18CXXV:423
Cf. Heb. i. 3CXXV:424
Cf. Rom. xi. 36CXXV:425
Cf. Isa. xl. 12-22.CXXV:426
Cf. Ps. cxxxviii. 6.CXXV:427
Cf. Isa. lxvi. 1CXXV:428
Cf. Phil. ii. 5CXXV:429
1 Cor. i. 24.CXXVI:430
Col. i. 17.CXXVI:431
Eph. iv. 6. The application of the words to the Son is remarkable.
Next: He expounds the passage of the Gospel, “The Father judgeth no man,” and further speaks of the assumption of man with body and soul wrought by the Lord, of the transgression of Adam, and of death and the resurrection of the dead.
Like & share St-Takla.org
© Saint Takla Haymanout Website: Coptic Orthodox Church - Alexandria, Egypt / URL: https://st-takla.org / Contact us at