Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: He then wonderfully displays the Eternal Life, which is Christ, to those who confess Him not, and applies to them the mournful lamentation of Jeremiah over Jehoiakim, as being closely allied to Montanus and Sabellius.
p. CCXXII §2. He then wonderfully displays the Eternal Life, which is Christ, to those who confess Him not, and applies to them the mournful lamentation of Jeremiah over Jehoiakim, as being closely allied to Montanus and Sabellius.
But now that I have surveyed what remains of his treatise I shrink from conducting my argument further, as a shudder runs through my heart at his words. For he wishes to show that the Son is something different from eternal life, while, unless eternal life is found in the Son, our faith will be proved to be idle, and our preaching to be vain, baptism a superfluity, the agonies of the martyrs all for nought, the toils of the Apostles useless and unprofitable for the life of men. For why did they preach Christ, in Whom, according to Eunomius, there does not reside the power of eternal life? Why do they make mention of those who had believed in Christ, unless it was through Him that they were to be partakers of eternal life? “For the intelligence,” he says, “of those who have believed in the Lord, overleaping all sensible and intellectual existence, cannot stop even at the generation of the Son, but speeds beyond even this in its yearning for eternal life, eager to meet the First.” What ought I most to bewail in this passage? that the wretched men do not think that eternal life is in the Son, or that they conceive of the Person of the Only-begotten in so grovelling and earthly a fashion, that they fancy they can mount in their reasonings upon His beginning, and so look by the power of their own intellect beyond the life of the Son, and, leaving the generation of the Lord somewhere beneath them, can speed onward beyond this in their yearning for eternal life? For the meaning of what I have quoted is nothing else than this, that the human mind, scrutinizing the knowledge of real existence, and lifting itself above the sensible and intelligible creation, will leave God the Word, Who was in the beginning, below itself, just as it has left below it all other things, and itself comes to be in Him in Whom God the Word was not, treading, by mental activity, regions which lie beyond the life of the Son, there searching for eternal life, where the Only-begotten God is not. “For in its yearning for eternal life,” he says, “it is borne in thought, beyond the Son”—clearly as though it had not in the Son found that which it was seeking. If the eternal life is not in the Son, then assuredly He Who said, “I am the life 939 ,” will be convicted of falsehood, or else He is life, it is true, but not eternal life. But that which is not eternal is of course limited in duration. And such a kind of life is common to the irrational animals as well as to men. Where then is the majesty of the very life, if even the irrational creation share it? and how will the Word or Divine Reason 940 be the same as the Life, if this finds a home, in virtue of the life which is but temporary, in irrational creatures? For if, according to the great John, the Word is Life 941 , but that life is temporary and not eternal, as their heresy holds, and if, moreover, the temporary life has place in other creatures, what is the logical consequence? Why, either that irrational animals are rational, or that the Reason must be confessed to be irrational. Have we any further need of words to confute their accursed and malignant blasphemy? Do such statements even pretend to conceal their intention of denying the Lord? For if the Apostle plainly says that what is not eternal is temporary 942 , and if these people see eternal life in the essence of the Father alone, and if by alienating the Son from the Nature of the Father they also cut Him off from eternal life, what is this but a manifest denial and rejection of the faith in the Lord? while the Apostle clearly says that those who “in this life only have hope in Christ are of all men most miserable 943 .” If then the Lord is life, but not eternal life, assuredly the life is temporal, and but for a day, that which is operative only for the present time, or else 944 the Apostle bemoans those who have hope, as having missed the true life.
However, they who are enlightened in Eunomius fashion pass the Son by, and are carried in their reasonings beyond Him, seeking eternal life in Him Who is contemplated as outside and apart from the Only-begotten. What ought one to say to such evils as these,—save whatever calls forth lamentation and weeping? Alas, how can we groan over this wretched and pitiable generation, bringing forth a crop of such deadly mischiefs? In days of yore the zealous Jeremiah bewailed the people of Israel, when they gave an evil consent to Jehoiakim who led the way to idolatry, and were condemned to captivity under the Assyrians in requital for their unlawful worship, exiled from the sanctuary and banished far from the inheritance of their fathers. Yet more fitting does it seem to me that these lamentations be chanted when the imitator of Jehoiakim draws away those whom he deceives to this new kind of idolatry, banishing them from their ancestral inheritance,—I mean the Faith. They too, in a way corresponding to the Scriptural record, are p. CCXXIII carried away captive to Babylon from Jerusalem that is above,—that is from the Church of God to this confusion of pernicious doctrines,—for 945 Babylon means “confusion.” And even as Jehoiakim was mutilated, so this man, having voluntarily deprived himself of the light of the truth, has become a prey to the Babylonian despot, never having learned, poor wretch, that the Gospel enjoins us to behold eternal life alike in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, inasmuch as the Word has thus spoken concerning the Father, that to know Him is life eternal 946 , and concerning the Son, that every one that believeth on Him hath eternal life 947 , and concerning the Holy Spirit, that to Him that hath received His grace it shall be a well of water springing up unto eternal life 948 . Accordingly every one that yearns for eternal life when he has found the Son,—I mean the true Son, and not the Son falsely so called—has found in Him in its entirety what he longed for, because He is life and hath life in Himself 949 . But this man, so subtle in mind, so keen-sighted of heart, does not by his extreme acuteness of vision discover life in the Son, but, having passed Him over and left Him behind as a hindrance in the way to that for which he searches he there seeks eternal life where he thinks the true Life not to be! What could we conceive more to be abhorred than this for profanity, or more melancholy as an occasion of lamentation? But that the charge of Sabellianism and Montanism should be repeatedly urged against our doctrines, is much the same as if one should lay to our charge the blasphemy of the Anomœans. For if one were carefully to investigate the falsehood of these heresies, he would find that they have great similarity to the error of Eunomius. For each of them affects the Jew in his doctrine, admitting neither the Only-begotten God nor the Holy Spirit to share the Deity of the God Whom they call “Great,” and “First.” For Whom Sabellius calls God of the three names, Him does Eunomius term unbegotten: but neither contemplates the Godhead in the Trinity of Persons. Who then is really akin to Sabellius let the judgment of those who read our argument decide. Thus far for these matters.
S. John xi. 25CCXXII:940
ὁ λόγος: the idea of “reason” must be expressed to convey the force required for the argument following.CCXXII:941
Cf. S. John i. 4CCXXII:942
The reference is perhaps to 2 Cor. iv. 18.CCXXII:943
Cf. 1 Cor. xv. 19.CCXXII:944
If we might read ᾑ for ἢ the sense of the passage would be materially simplified:—“His life is temporal, that life which operates only for the present time, whereon those who hope are the objects of the Apostles pity.”CCXXIII:945
Altering Oehlers punctuation.CCXXIII:946
Cf. S. John xvii. 3CCXXIII:947
Cf. S. John iii. 36CCXXIII:948
Cf. S. John iv. 14CCXXIII:949
Cf. S. John v. 26
Next: He then shows the eternity of the Son's generation, and the inseparable identity of His essence with Him that begat Him, and likens the folly of Eunomius to children playing with sand.
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