Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He convicts Eunomius of having used of the Only-begotten terms applicable to the existence of the earth, and thus shows that his intention is to prove the Son to be a being mutable and created.
§2. He convicts Eunomius of having used of the Only-begotten terms applicable to the existence of the earth, and thus shows that his intention is to prove the Son to be a being mutable and created.
And this he shows very plainly by his contention against our arguments, where he says that “the essence of the Son came into being from the Father, not put forth by way of extension, not separated from its conjunction with Him that generated Him by flux or division, not perfected by way of growth, not transformed by way of change, but obtaining existence by the mere will of the Generator.” Why, what man whose mental senses are not closed up is left in ignorance by this utterance that by these statements the Son is being represented by Eunomius as a part of the creation? What hinders us from saying all this word for word as it stands, about every single one of the things we contemplate in creation? Let us apply, if you will, the definition to any of the things that appear in creation, and if it does not admit the same sequence, we will condemn ourselves for having examined the definition slightingly, and not with the care that befits the truth. Let us exchange, then, the name of the Son, and so read the definition word by word. We say that the essence of the earth came into being from the Father, not separated by way of extension or division from its conjunction with Him Who generated it, nor perfected by way of growth, nor put forth by way of change, but obtaining existence by the mere will of Him Who generated it. Is there anything in what we have said that does not apply to the existence of the earth? I think no one would say so: for God did not put forth the earth by being extended, nor bring its essence into existence by flowing or by dissevering Himself from conjunction with Himself, nor did He bring it by means of gradual growth from being small to completeness of magnitude, nor was He fashioned into the form of earth by undergoing mutation or alteration, but His will sufficed Him for the existence of all things that were made: “He spake and they were generated 616 ,” so that even the name of “generation” does not fail to accord with the existence of the earth. Now if these things may be truly said of the parts of the universe, what doubt is still left as to our adversaries doctrine, that while, so far as words go, they call Him “Son,” they represent Him as being one of the things that came into existence by creation, set before the rest only in precedence of order? just as you might say about the trade of a smith, that from p. CLVI it come all things that are wrought out of iron; but that the instrument of the tongs and hammer, by which the iron is fashioned for use, existed before the making of the rest; yet, while this has precedence of the rest, there is not on that account any difference in respect of matter between the instrument that fashions and the iron that is shaped by the instrument, (for both one and the other are iron,) but the one form is earlier than the other. Such is the theology of heresy touching the Son,—to imagine that there is no difference between the Lord Himself and the things that were made by Him, save the difference in respect of order.
Who that is in any sense classed among Christians admits that the definition 617 of the essence of the parts of the world, and of Him Who made the world, is the same? For my own part I shudder at the blasphemy, knowing that where the definition of things is the same neither is their nature different. For as the definition of the essence of Peter and John and other men is common and their nature is one, in the same way, if the Lord were in respect of nature even as the parts of the world, they must acknowledge that He is also subject to those things, whatever they may be, which they perceive in them. Now the world does not last for ever: thus, according to them, the Lord also will pass away with the heaven and the earth, if, as they say, He is of the same kind with the world. If on the other hand He is confessed to be eternal, we must needs suppose that the world too is not without some part in the Divine nature, if, as they say, it corresponds with the Only-begotten in the matter of creation. You see where this fine process of inference makes the argument tend, like a stone broken off from a mountain ridge and rushing down-hill by its own weight. For either the elements of the world must be Divine, according to the foolish belief of the Greeks, or the Son must not be worshipped. Let us consider it thus. We say that the creation, both what is perceived by the mind, and that which is of a nature to be perceived by sense, came into being from nothing: this they declare also of the Lord. We say that all things that have been made consist by the will of God: this they tell us also of the Only-begotten. We believe that neither the angelic creation nor the mundane is of the essence of Him that made it: and they make Him also alien from the essence of the Father. We confess that all things serve Him that made them: this view they also hold of the Only-begotten. Therefore, of necessity, whatever else it may be that they conceive of the creation, all these attributes they will also attach to the Only-begotten: and whatever they believe of Him, this they will also conceive of the creation: so that, if they confess the Lord as God, they will also deify the rest of the creation. On the other hand, if they define these things to be without share in the Divine nature, they will not reject the same conception touching the Only-begotten also. Moreover no sane man asserts Godhead of the creation. Then neither—I do not utter the rest, lest I lend my tongue to the blasphemy of the enemy. Let those say what consequence follows, whose mouth is well trained in blasphemy. But their doctrine is evident even if they hold their peace. For one of two things must necessarily happen:—either they will depose the Only-begotten God, so that with them He will no more either be, or be called so: or, if they assert Godhead of Him, they will equally assert it of all creation:—or, (for this is still left to them,) they will shun the impiety that appears on either side, and take refuge in the orthodox doctrine, and will assuredly agree with us that He is not created, that they may confess Him to be truly God.
What need is there to take time to recount all the other blasphemies that underlie his doctrine, starting from this beginning? For by what we have quoted, one who considers the inference to be drawn will understand that the father of falsehood, the maker of death, the inventor of wickedness, being created in a nature intellectual and incorporeal, was not by that nature hindered from becoming what he is by way of change. For the mutability of essence, moved either way at will, involves a capacity of nature that follows the impulse of determination, so as to become that to which its determination leads it. Accordingly they will define the Lord as being capable even of contrary dispositions, drawing Him down as it were to a rank equal with the angels, by the conception of creation 618 . But let them listen to the great voice of Paul. Why is it that he says that He alone has been called Son? Because He is not of the nature of angels, but of that which is more excellent. “For unto which of the angels said He at any time, Thou art My Son, This day have I begotten Thee? and when again He bringeth the first-begotten into the world He saith, And let all the angels of God worship Him. And of the angels He saith, Who maketh His angels spirits, and His p. CLVII ministers a flame of fire: but of the Son He saith, Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; a sceptre of righteousness is the sceptre of Thy kingdom 619 ,” and all else that the prophecy recites together with these words in declaring His Godhead. And he adds also from another Psalm the appropriate words, “Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the works of Thine hands,” and the rest, as far as “But Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail 620 ,” whereby he describes the immutability and eternity of His nature. If, then, the Godhead of the Only-begotten is as far above the angelic nature as a master is superior to his slaves, how do they make common either with the sensible creation Him Who is Lord of the creation, or with the nature of the angels Him Who is worshipped by them 621 , by detailing, concerning the manner of His existence, statements which will properly apply to the individual things we contemplate in creation, even as we already showed the account given by heresy, touching the Lord, to be closely and appropriately applicable to the making of the earth?
Cf. Ps. 33:9, Ps. 148:5Ps. xxxiii. 9, and Ps. cxlviii. 5, in LXX. (reading ἐγεννήθησαν).CLVI:617
The force of λόγος here appears to be nearly equivalent to “idea,” in the sense of an exact expression of the nature of a thing. Gulonius renders it by “ratio.”CLVI:618
The argument appears to be this:—The Anomœans assert, on the ground that He is created, that the Sons essence is τρεπτὸν, liable to change; where there is the possibility of change, the nature must have a capacity of inclining one way or the other, according to the balance of will determining to which side the nature shall incline: and that this is the condition of the angels may be seen from the instance of the fallen angels, whose nature was inclined to evil by their προαίρεσις. It follows that to say the Son is τρεπτὸς implies that He is on a level with the angelic nature, and might fall even as the angels fell.CLVII:619
Cf. Heb. i. 4, and foll. It is to be noted that Gregory connects πάλιν in Heb. 1.6, with εἰσαγάγῃ, not treating it, as the A.V. does, as simply introducing another quotation. This appears from his later reference to the text.CLVII:620
Cf. Ps. 2:25, 26.CLVII:621
Oehlers punctuation here seems to be unsatisfactory.
Next: He then again admirably discusses the term πρωτότοκος as it is four times employed by the Apostle.
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