Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. IX:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
John of Damascus: Exposition of the Orthodox Faith.: Why it was the Son of God, and not the Father or the Spirit, that became man: and what having became man He achieved.
Chapter IV.—Why it was the Son of God, and not the Father or the Spirit, that became man: and what having became man He achieved.
The Father is Father 2259 and not Son 2260 : the Son is Son and not Father: the Holy Spirit is Spirit and not Father or Son. For the individuality 2261 is unchangeable. How, indeed, could individuality continue to exist at all if it were ever changing and altering? Wherefore the Son of God became Son of Man in order that His individuality might endure. For since He was the Son of God, He became Son of Man, being made flesh of the holy Virgin and not losing the individuality of Sonship 2262 .
Further, the Son of God became man, in order that He might again bestow on man that favour for the sake of which He created him. For He created him after His own image, endowed with intellect and free-will, and after His own likeness, that is to say, perfect in all virtue so far as it is possible for mans nature to attain perfection. For the following properties are, so to speak, marks of the divine nature: viz. absence of care and distraction and guile, goodness, wisdom, justice, freedom from all vice. So then, after He had placed man in communion with Himself (for having made him for incorruption 2263 , He led him up through communion with Himself to incorruption), and when moreover, through the transgression of the command we had confused and obliterated the marks of the divine image, and had become evil, we were stripped of our communion with God (for what communion hath light with darkness 2264 ?): and having been shut out from life we became subject to the corruption of death: yea, since He gave us to share in the better part, and we did not keep it secure, He shares in the inferior part, I mean our own nature, in order that through Himself and in Himself He might renew that which was made after His image and likeness, and might teach us, too, the conduct of a virtuous life, making through Himself the way thither easy for us, and might by the communication of life deliver us from corruption, becoming Himself the firstfruits of our resurrection, and might renovate the useless and worn vessel calling us to the knowledge of God that He might redeem us from the tyranny of the devil, and might strengthen and teach us how to overthrow the tyrant through patience and humility 2265 .
The worship of demons then has ceased: creation has been sanctified by the divine blood: altars and temples of idols have been overthrown, the knowledge of God has been implanted in mens minds, the co-essential Trinity, the uncreate divinity, one true God, Creator and Lord of all receives mens service: virtues are cultivated, the hope of resurrection has been granted through the resurrection of Christ, the demons shudder at those men who of old were under their subjection. And the marvel, indeed, is that all this has been successfully brought about through His cross and passion and death. Throughout all the earth the Gospel of the knowledge of God has been preached; no wars or weapons or armies being used to rout the enemy, but only a few, naked, poor, illiterate, persecuted and tormented men, who with their lives in their hands, preached Him Who was crucified in the flesh and died, and who became victors over the wise and powerful. For the omnipotent power of the Cross accompanied them. Death itself, which once was mans chiefest terror, has been overthrown, and now that which was once the object of hate and loathing is preferred to life. These are the achievements of Christs presence: these are the tokens of His power. For it was not one people that He saved, as when through Moses He divided the sea and delivered Israel out of Egypt and the bondage of Pharaoh 2266 ; nay, rather He rescued all mankind from the corruption of death and the bitter tyranny of sin: not leading them by force to virtue, not overwhelming them with earth or burning them with fire, or ordering the sinners to be stoned, but persuading men by gentleness and long-suffering to choose virtue and vie with one another, and find pleasure in the struggle to attain it. For, formerly, it was sinners who were persecuted, and yet they clung all the closer to sin, and sin was looked upon by them as their God: but now for the sake of piety and virtue men choose persecutions and crucifixions and death.
Hail! O Christ, the Word and Wisdom and Power of God, and God omnipotent! What can we helpless ones give Thee in return for p. 76b all these good gifts? For all are Thine, and Thou askest naught from us save our salvation, Thou Who Thyself art the Giver of this, and yet art grateful to those who receive it, through Thy unspeakable goodness. Thanks be to Thee Who gave us life, and granted us the grace of a happy life, and restored us to that, when we had gone astray, through Thy unspeakable condescension.
Greg. Naz., Orat. 37; Fulg., De fid. ad Petrum; Thomas Aquinas, III., quæst. 3, Art. 6.75b:2260
Greg. Naz., Orat. 39.75b:2261
ἡ ἰδιότης, Latin, proprietas, the propriety, that which is distinctive of each.75b:2262
Text, καὶ οὐκ ἐκστὰς τῆς ὑ& 187·κῆς ἰδιότητος. R. 1 has, καὶ οὐκ ἐξέστη τῆς οἰκείας ἰδιότητος, and the old trans. is “et non secessit a propria proprietate.”75b:2263
Wisd. ii. 23.75b:2264
2 Cor. vi. 14.75b:2265
Athan., De Incarn.; Cyril, In Joan., bk. i.75b:2266
Ex. xiv. 16.
Next: In reply to those who ask if Christ's subsistence is create or uncreate.
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