Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter V. Passages brought forward from Scripture to show that “made” does not always mean the same as “created;” whence it is concluded that the letter of Holy Writ should not be made the ground of captious arguments, after the manner of the Jews, who, however, are shown to be not so bad as the heretics, and thus the principle already set forth is confirmed anew.
Passages brought forward from Scripture to show that “made” does not always mean the same as “created;” whence it is concluded that the letter of Holy Writ should not be made the ground of captious arguments, after the manner of the Jews, who, however, are shown to be not so bad as the heretics, and thus the principle already set forth is confirmed anew.
35. At the same time, becoming 2166 does not always imply creation; for we read: “Lord, Thou art become our refuge,” 2167 and “Thou hast become my salvation.” 2168 Plainly, here is no statement of the fact or purpose of a creation, but God is said to have become my “refuge” and have turned to my “salvation,” 2169 even as the Apostle hath said: “Who became for us 2170 Wisdom from God, and Righteousness, and Sanctification, and Redemption,” 2171 that is, that Christ was “made” for us, of the Father, not created. Again, the writer has explained in the sequel in what sense he says that Christ was made Wisdom for us: “But we preach the Wisdom of God in doctrine of mystery, which Wisdom is hidden, foreordained by God before the existence of the world 2172 for our glory, and which none of the princes of this world knew, for had they known they would never have crucified the Lord of glory.” 2173 When the mystery of the Passion is set forth, surely there is no speaking of an eternal process of generation.
36. The Lords Cross, then, is my wisdom; the Lords Death my redemption; for we are redeemed with His precious blood, as the Apostle Peter hath said. 2174 With His blood, then, as man, the Lord redeemed us, Who also, as God, hath forgiven sins. 2175
p. 248 37. Let us not, therefore, lay snares as it were in words, and eagerly seek out entanglements therein; let us not, because misbelievers make out the written word to mean that it means not, set forth only what this letter bears on the face of it, instead of the underlying sense. This way went the Jews to destruction, despising the deep-hidden meaning, and following only after the bare form of the word, for “the letter killeth, but the Spirit maketh alive.” 2176
38. And yet, of these two grievous impieties, to ascribe to the Godhead what is true only of manhood is perchance more detestable than to attribute to spirit what belongs only to letter. The Jews feared to believe in manhood taken up into God, and therefore have lost the grace of redemption, because they reject that on which salvation depends; the Arians degrade the majesty of Godhead to the weakness of humanity. Detestable as are the Jews, who crucified the Lords flesh, more detestable still do I hold them who have believed that the Godhead of Christ was nailed to the Cross. So one who ofttimes had dealings with Jews said: “An heretic avoid, after once reproving him” 2177
39. Nor, again, are these men careful to avoid doing dishonour to the Father, in their impious application of the fact, that Christ was “made” Wisdom for us, to His incomprehensible generation, that transcends all limits and divisions of time; for, leaving it out of account that dishonour done to the Son is an insult to the Father, they do even carry their blasphemy in assault upon the Father, of Whom it is written: “Let God be made truthful, but every man a liar.” 2178 If indeed they think that the Son is spoken of, they do not foreclose against His generation, 2179 but in that they rest on the authority of this text they do confess that which they reject, namely, that Christ is God, and true God.
40. It would be a lengthy matter were I to pass in review each several place where we read of His being “made,” not indeed by nature, but by way of gracious dispensation. Moses, for example, saith: “Thou art made my Helper and Protector, to save me;” 2180 and David: “Be unto me for a God of salvation, and an house of refuge, that Thou mayest save me;” 2181 and Isaiah: “He is become an Helper for every city that is lowly.” 2182 Of a surety the holy men say not to God: “Thou hast been created,” but “By Thy grace Thou art made a Protector and Helper unto us.”
i.e.we are not to infer from the fact that the Word became flesh, that the Word is a created being. For that which becomes is already existing—that which is created did not exist before it was made.247:2167
Ps. xc. 1. The R.V. runs: “Lord, thou hast been our refuge” (hast been, and still art).247:2168
Ps. cxviii. 14. The “becoming” is rather in us. It is we who have come into being, to find a refuge and salvation in the Lord.247:2169
Lat. “conversus ad salutem.”247:2170
1 Cor. i. 30.247:2171
Note that it is Christ Himself Who is our justification, etc., not a certain course of life; in other words the saving power is not so much in the mere example of Christs life on earth, but primarily and necessarily in Himself, now seated in heaven at the Fathers right hand, interceding for us, and communicating His grace, especially through the sacraments.247:2172
Cf. 1 Pet. 1:19, Eph. 1:4, Col. 1:26, 27.247:2173
1 Cor. ii. 6 ff.247:2174
1 Pet. i. 19.247:2175
S. Mark ii. 8-12.248:2176
2 Cor. iii. 6.248:2177
Titus iii. 10.248:2178
Rom. iii. 4.248:2179
Because generation is quite distinct from absolute creation.248:2180
Ex. xv. 2.248:2181
Ps. xxxi. 3.248:2182
Isa. xxv. 4.
Next: Chapter VI. In order to dispose of an objection grounded on a text in St. John, St. Ambrose first shows that the Arian interpretation lends countenance to the Manichæans; then, after setting forth the different ways of dividing the words in this same passage, he shows plainly that it cannot, without dishonour to the Father, be understood with such reference to the Godhead as the Arians give it, and expounds the true meaning thereon.
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