Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:Early Church Fathers Index Previous Next
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: 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.
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.
41. We have no reason, therefore, to fear the argument which the Arians, in their reckless manner of expounding, use to construct, showing that the Word of God was “made,” for, say they, it is written: “That which has been made in Him is life.” 2183
42. First of all, let them understand that if they make the words “That which has been made” to refer to the Godhead, they entangle themselves in the difficulties raised by the Manichæans, for these people argue: “If that which has been made in Him is life, then there is something which has not been made in Him, and is death,” so that they may impiously bring in two principles. But this teaching the Church condemns.
43. Again, how can the Arians prove that the Evangelist actually said this? The most part of those who are learned in the Faith read the passage as follows: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that has been made.” Others read thus: “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.” Then they proceed: “What has been made,” and to this they join the words “in Him;” that is to say, “But whatsover is has been made in Him.” But what mean the words “in Him”? The Apostle tells us, when he says: “In Him we have our being, and live, and move.” 2184
44. Howbeit, let them read the passage as they will, they cannot diminish the majesty of God the Word, in referring to His Person, 2185 as subject, the words “That which was made,” 2186 without also doing dishonour to God the Father, of Whom it is written: “But he who doeth the truth cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest that they are wrought in p. 249 God.” 2187 See then—here we read of mans works being wrought in God, and yet for all that we cannot understand the Godhead as the subject of them. We must either recognize the works as wrought through Him, as the Apostles affirmation showeth that “all things are through Him, and were created in Him, and He is before all, and all things exist together in Him,” 2188 or, as the witness of the text here cited teaches us, we ought to regard the virtues whereby the fruit of life eternal is gained, as wrought in God—chastity, piety, devoutness, faith, and others of this kind, whereby the will of God is expressed. 2189
45. Just as the works, then, are the expression of the will and power of God the Father, so are they of Christs, even as we read: “Created in Christ in good works;” 2190 and in the psalm: “Peace be made in Thy power;” 2191 and again: “In wisdom hast Thou made them all.” 2192 “In wisdom hast Thou made,” mark you—not “Thou hast made wisdom;” for since all things have been made in wisdom, and Christ is the Wisdom of God, then this Wisdom is plainly not an accident, but a substance, and an everlasting one, but if the Wisdom hath been made, then is it made in a worse condition than all things, forasmuch as it could not, by itself, be made Wisdom. If, then, being made is oftentimes referred to something accidental, not to the essence of a thing, so may creation also be referred to some end had in view. 2193
S. John i. 4. Observe that St. Ambrose follows a different punctuation to that of our Bible. St. Ambroses stopping is the same as that adopted by Westcott (Commentary on S. John) and by Westcott and Hort in their edition of the Greek text of the N.T.248:2184
Acts xvii. 28.248:2185
Latin “substantia,” which here seems to be used in the sense of the Greek “ὑποστασις.” The distinction of Persons without division of the Godhead is evidently what St. Ambrose here has in view.248:2186
S. John iii. 21.249:2188
Col. i. 16. See the Greek.249:2189
Or, “which are done in,” i.e. “in accordance with, under the impulse of, the Will of God.”249:2190
Eph. ii. 10.249:2191
Ps. cxxii. 7.249:2192
Ps. civ. 24.249:2193
A thing may be said to be “created” relatively, as well as absolutely—i.e. it may be “created” when newly appointed for a certain purpose, as when men were “created” consuls, which did not mean that before the convening of the centuries they were absolutely non-existent.
Next: Chapter VII. Solomon's words, “The Lord created Me,” etc., mean that Christ's Incarnation was done for the redemption of the Father's creation, as is shown by the Son's own words. That He is the “beginning” may be understood from the visible proofs of His virtuousness, and it is shown how the Lord opened the ways of all virtues, and was their true beginning.
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