Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter IX. The objection that the Son, being sent by the Father, is, in that regard at least, inferior, is met by the answer that He was also sent by the Spirit, Who is yet not considered greater than the Son. Furthermore, the Spirit, in His turn, is sent by the Father to the Son, in order that Their unity in action might be shown forth. It is our duty, therefore, carefully to distinguish what utterances are to be fitly ascribed to Christ as God, and what to be ascribed to Him as man.
The objection that the Son, being sent by the Father, is, in that regard at least, inferior, is met by the answer that He was also sent by the Spirit, Who is yet not considered greater than the Son. Furthermore, the Spirit, in His turn, is sent by the Father to the Son, in order that Their unity in action might be shown forth. It is our duty, therefore, carefully to distinguish what utterances are to be fitly ascribed to Christ as God, and what to be ascribed to Him as man.
74. I have no fears in the matter of that commonly advanced objection, that Christ is inferior because He was sent. For even if He be inferior, yet this is not so proved; 2005 on the other hand, His equal title to honour is in truth proved. Since all honour the Son as they honour the Father, 2006 it is certain that the Son is not, in so far as being sent, inferior.
75. Regard not, therefore, the narrow bounds of human language, but the plain meaning of the words, and believe facts accomplished. Bethink you that our Lord Jesus Christ said in Isaiah that He had been sent by the Spirit. 2007 Is the Son, therefore, less than the Spirit because He was sent by the Spirit? Thus you have the record, that the Son declares Himself sent by the Father and His Spirit. “I am the beginning,” He saith, 2008 “and I live for ever, and My hand hath laid the foundations of the earth, My right hand hath made the heaven to stand abidingly;” 2009 and further on: “I have spoken, and I have called; I have brought him, and have made his way to prosper. Draw ye near to Me, and hear these things: not in secret have I spoken from the beginning. When they were made, I was there: and now hath the Lord and His Spirit sent Me.” 2010 Here, indeed, He Who made the heaven and the earth Himself saith that He is sent by the Lord and His Spirit. Ye see, then, that the poverty of language takes not from the honour of His mission. He, then, is sent by the Father; by the Spirit also is He sent.
76. And that you may gather that there is no separating difference of majesty, the Son in turn sends the Spirit, even as He Himself hath said: “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from My Father—the Spirit of truth, who cometh forth from My Father.” 2011 That this same Comforter is also to be sent by the Father He has already taught, saying, “But the Comforter, that Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.” 2012 Behold their unity, inasmuch as whom God the Father sends, the Son sends also, and Whom the Father sends, the Spirit sends also. Else, if the Arians will not admit that the Son was sent, because we read that the Son is the right hand of the Father, then they themselves will confess with respect to the Father, what they deny concerning the Son, unless perchance they discover for themselves either another Father or another Son.
77. A truce, then, to vain wranglings over words, for the kingdom of God, as it is written, consisteth not in persuasive words, but in power plainly shown forth. Let us take heed to the distinction of the Godhead from the flesh. In each there speaks one and the same Son of God, for each nature is present in Him; yet while it is the same Person Who speaks, He speaks not always in the same manner. Behold in Him, now the p. 234 glory of God, now the affections of man. As God He speaks the things of God, because He is the Word; as man He speaks the things of man, because He speaks in my nature.
78. “This is the living bread, which came down from heaven.” 2013 This bread is His flesh, even as He Himself said: “This bread which I will give is My flesh.” 2014 This is He Who came down from heaven, this is He Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into this world. Even the letter itself teaches us that not the Godhead but the flesh needed sanctification, for the Lord Himself said, “And I sanctify Myself for them,” 2015 in order that thou mayest acknowledge that He is both sanctified in the flesh for us, and sanctifies by virtue of His Divinity.
79. This is the same One Whom the Father sent, but “born of a woman, born under the law,” 2016 as the Apostle hath said. This is He Who saith: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; wherefore He hath anointed Me, to bring good tidings to the poor hath He sent Me:” 2017 This is He Who saith: “My doctrine is not Mine, but His, Who sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.” 2018 Doctrine that is of God, then, is one thing; doctrine that is of man, another; and so when the Jews, regarding Him as man, called in question His teaching, 2019 and said, “How knoweth this man letters, having never learnt?” Jesus answered and said, “My doctrine is not Mine,” for, in teaching without elegance of letters, He seems to teach not as man, but rather as God, having not learned, but devised His doctrine.
80. For He hath found and devised all the way of discipline, as we read above, inasmuch as of the Son of God it hath been said: “This is our God, and none other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him, Who hath found all the way of discipline. After these things He was seen on earth, and conversed with men.” 2020 How, then, could He, as divine, not have His own doctrine—He Who hath found all the way of discipline before He was seen on earth? Or how is He inferior, of Whom it is said, “None shall be accounted of in comparison with Him”? Surely He is entitled incomparable, in comparison of Whom none other can be accounted of—yet so that He cannot be accounted of before the Father. Now if men suppose that the Father is spoken of, they shall not escape running into the blasphemy of Sabellius, of ascribing the assumption of human nature to the Father.
81. Let us proceed with what follows. “He who speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory.” 2021 See the unity wherein Father and Son are plainly revealed. 2022 He who speaks cannot but be; yet that which He speaks cannot be solely from Him, for in Him all that is, is naturally derived from the Father.
82. What now is the meaning of the words “seeketh his own glory”? That is, not a glory in which the Father has no part—for indeed the Word of God is His glory. Again, our Lord saith: “that they may see My glory.” 2023 But that glory of the Word is also the glory of the Father, even as it is written: “The Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.” 2024 In regard of His Godhead, therefore, the Son of God so hath His own glory, that the glory of Father and Son is one: He is not, therefore, inferior in splendour, for the glory is one, nor lower in Godhead, for the fulness of the Godhead is in Christ. 2025
83. How, then, you ask, is it written, “Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son?” 2026 He Who saith these words needs to be glorified, say you. Thus far you have eyes to see; the remainder of the Scripture you have not read, for it proceeds: “that Thy Son may glorify Thee.” Hath ever the Father need of any, in that He is to be glorified by the Son?
That is to say, it does not follow, from the fact that the Son was sent, that He is inferior in nature.233:2006
S. John v. 23.233:2007
Isa. lxi. 1. “Since the Holy Scriptures frequently, in plain words, teach the equality of the Son with the Father, and the Sons actual deeds likewise testify thereto, it is not permissible to call that truth in question on the strength of a single phrase, which we are compelled to make use of, in speaking of God, by reason of the limitations of human language. For in speaking of God, and the things of God, we make use of terms which we employ in treating of created natures, and which on that account convey the notion of imperfection which is found only in such natures.”—Hurter in loc.233:2008
Isa. xlviii. 12.233:2009
Isa. xlvii. 13. “Mine hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens.”—A.V.233:2010
Isa. 48:15, 16.233:2011
S. John xv. 26.233:2012
S. John xiv. 26.234:2013
S. John vi. 51.234:2014
S. John vii. 52.234:2015
S. John xvii. 19.234:2016
Gal. iv. 4.234:2017
S. Luke 4:18, Isa. 61:1.234:2018
S. John vii. 16.234:2019
“regarding Him as man.” In the original “secundum hominem,” lit. “after the way, or manner, of man.” If the Jews had accepted Jesus Christs teachings as divine, they would not have questioned it. But they acted as though they were confronted with one who was no more than man, and whose authority therefore was properly liable to be called in question.234:2020
Baruch iii. 36 ff.234:2021
S. John. vii. 18.234:2022
“In these words attention is called to the Unity of Nature (or Substance) in distinct Persons, for in the very act of speaking and teaching, the Son shows that He is a Person, but He Who speaks not of Himself, but as the Father hath taught Him, shows that He is distinct from the Father, and yet He has, with the Father, one and the same doctrine, and therefore one and the same nature; for, in God, being and knowing are one and the same.”—Hurter.234:2023
S. John xvii. 24.234:2024
Phil. ii. 11 (another instance of adaptation).234:2025
Col. 1:19, Col. 2:9.234:2026
S. John xvii. 1.
Next: Chapter X. The objection taken on the ground of the Son's obedience is disproved, and the unity of power, Godhead, and operation in the Trinity set forth, Christ's obedience to His mother, to whom He certainly cannot be called inferior, is noticed.
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