Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. V:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises.: Section 1
p. CCXXX Book XI.
§1. The eleventh book shows that the title of “Good” is due, not to the Father alone, as Eunomius, the imitator of Manichæus and Bardesanes, alleges, but to the Son also, Who formed man in goodness and loving-kindness, and reformed him by His Cross and Death.
Let us now go on to the next stage in his argument:—“….the Only-begotten Himself ascribing to the Father the title due of right to Him alone. For He Who has taught us that the appellation good belongs to Him alone Who is the cause of His own 972 goodness and of all goodness, and is so at all times, and Who refers to Him all good that has ever come into being, would be slow to appropriate to Himself the authority over all things that have come into being, and the title of the Existent.” Well, so long as he concealed his blasphemy under some kind of veil, and strove to entangle his deluded hearers unawares in the mazes of his dialectic, I thought it necessary to watch his unfair and clandestine dealings, and as far as possible to lay bare in my argument the lurking mischief. But now that he has stripped his falsehood of every mask that could disguise it, and publishes his profanity aloud in categorical terms, I think it superfluous to undergo useless labour in bringing logical modes of confutation to bear upon those who make no secret of their impiety. For what further means could we discover to demonstrate their malignity so efficacious as that which they themselves show us in their writings ready to our hand? He says that the Father alone is worthy of the title of “good,” that to Him alone such a name is due, on the plea that even the Son Himself agrees that goodness belongs to Him alone. Our accuser has pleaded our cause for us: for perhaps in my former statements I was thought by my readers to show a certain wanton insolence when I endeavoured to demonstrate that the fighters against Christ made Him out to be alien from the goodness of the Father. But I think it has now been proved by the confession of our opponents that in bringing such a charge against them we were not acting unfairly. For he who says that the title of “good” belongs of right to the Father only, and that such an address befits Him alone, publishes abroad, by thus disclosing his real meaning, the villainy which he had previously wrapped up in disguise. He says that the title of “good” befits the Father only. Does he mean the title with the signification which belongs to the expression, or the title detached from its proper meaning? If on the one side he merely ascribes to the Father the title of “good” in a special sense, he is to be pitied for his irrationality in allowing to the Father merely the sound of an empty name. But if he thinks that the conception expressed by the term “good” belongs to God the Father only, he is to be abominated for his impiety, reviving as he does the plague of the Manichæan heresy in his own opinions. For as health and disease, even so goodness and badness exist on terms of mutual destruction, so that the absence of the one is the presence of the other. If then he says that goodness belongs to the Father only, he cuts off these from every conceivable object in existence except the Father, so that, along with all, the Only-begotten God is shut out from good. For as he who affirms that man alone is capable of laughter implies thereby that no other animal shares this property, so he who asserts that good is in the Father alone separates all things from that property. If then, as Eunomius declares, the Father alone has by right the title of “good,” such a term will not be properly applied to anything else. But every impulse of the will either operates in accordance with good, or tends to the contrary. For to be inclined neither one way nor the other, but to remain in a state of equipoise, is the property of creatures inanimate or insensible. If the Father alone is good, having goodness not as a thing acquired, but in His nature, and if the Son, as heresy will have it, does not share in the nature of the Father, then he who does not share the good essence of the Father is of course at the same time excluded also from part and lot in the title of “good.” But he who has no claim either to the nature or p. CCXXXI to the name of “good”—what he is assuredly not unknown, even though I forbear the blasphemous expression. For it is plain to all that the object for which Eunomius is so eager is to import into the conception of the Son a suspicion of that which is evil and opposite to good. For what kind of name belongs to him who is not good is manifest to every one who has a share of reason. As he who is not brave is cowardly, as he who is not just is unjust, and as he who is not wise is foolish, so he who is not good clearly has as his own the opposite name, and it is to this that the enemy of Christ wishes to press the conception of the Only-begotten, becoming thereby to the Church another Manes or Bardesanes. These are the sayings in regard of which we say that our utterance would be no more effective than silence. For were one to say countless things, and to arouse all possible arguments, one could not say anything so damaging of our opponents as what is openly and undisguisedly proclaimed by themselves. For what more bitter charge could one invent against them for malice than that of denying that He is good “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God 973 ,” but yet condescended to the low estate of human nature, and did so solely for the love of man? In return for what, tell me, “do ye thus requite the Lord 974 ?” (for I will borrow the language of Moses to the Israelites); is He not good, Who when thou wast soulless dust invested thee with Godlike beauty, and raised thee up as an image of His own power endowed with soul? Is He not good, Who for thy sake took on Him the form of a servant, and for the joy set before Him 975 did not shrink from bearing the sufferings due to thy sin, and gave Himself a ransom for thy death, and became for our sakes a curse and sin?
That is, of the Sons goodness: for S. Gregorys comment on the awkward use of the pronoun σφετέρας, see p. 233, inf.CCXXXI:973
Cf. Phil. ii. 6CCXXXI:974
Deut. xxxii. 6.CCXXXI:975
Heb. xii. 2.
Next: He also ingeniously shows from the passage of the Gospel which speaks of “Good Master,” from the parable of the Vineyard, from Isaiah and from Paul, that there is not a dualism in the Godhead of good and evil, as Eunomius' ally Marcion supposes, and declares that the Son does not refuse the title of “good” or “Existent,” or acknowledge His alienation from the Father, but that to Him also belongs authority over all things that come into being.
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