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Nicene and Ante-Nicene Fathers, Ser. II, Vol. X:
Dogmatic Treatises, Ethical Works, and Sermons.: Chapter XIII. The majesty of the Son is His own, and equal to that of the Father, and the angels are not partakers, but beholders thereof.

Early Church Fathers  Index     

Chapter XIII.

The majesty of the Son is His own, and equal to that of the Father, and the angels are not partakers, but beholders thereof.

103. Now, we having already laid down that the Father and the Son are of one image and likeness, 2280 it remains for us to show that They are also of one majesty. And we need not go far afield for proof, inasmuch as the Son Himself has said of Himself: “When the Son of Man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him, then shall He sit upon the throne of His majesty.” 2281 Behold, then, the majesty of the Son declared! What lacketh He yet, Whose uncreated majesty cannot be denied? 2282 Majesty, then, belongeth to the Son.

104. Let our adversaries now hold it proved beyond doubt that the majesty of the Father and of the Son is one, forasmuch as the Lord Himself hath said: “For he who shall be ashamed of Me and of My words, of Him shall the Son of Man be ashamed, when He cometh in His majesty and His Father’s, and the majesty of the holy angels.” 2283 What is the force of the words “and the majesty of the holy angels,” but that the servants derive honour from the worship of their Lord?

105. The Son, therefore, ascribed His majesty to His Father as well as to Himself, not, indeed, in such sort that the angels should share in that majesty on equal terms with the Father and the Son, but that they should behold the surpassing glory of God; for truly not even angels possess a majesty of their own, after the manner in which Scripture speaks of the Son: “When He shall sit upon the throne of His majesty,” but they stand in the presence, that they may see the glory of the Father and the Son, in such degrees of vision as they are either worthy of or able to bear.

106. Furthermore, the God-given words themselves declare their own meaning, that you may understand that glory of the Father and the Son not to be held in common with them by angels, for thus they run: “But when the Son of Man shall come in His majesty, and all the angels with Him.” Again, to show that His Father’s majesty and glory and His own majesty and glory are one and the same, our Lord Himself saith in another book: “And the Son of Man shall confound him, when He shall come in the glory of His Father, with the holy angels.” 2284 The angels come in obedience, He comes in glory: they are His retainers, He sits upon His throne: they stand, He is seated—to borrow terms of the daily dealings of human life, He is the Judge: they are the officers of the court. Note that He did not place first His Father’s divine majesty, and then, in the second place, His own and the angels’, lest He should seem to have made out a sort of descending order, from the highest to lower natures. He placed His own majesty first, and then spoke of His Father’s, and the majesty of the angels (because the Father could not appear lower than they), in order that He might not, by placing mention of Himself between that of His Father and that of the angels, seem to have made out some ascending scale, leading from angels to the Father through increase of His own dignity; nor, again, be believed to have, contrariwise, shown a descent from the Father to angels, entailing diminution of that dignity. Now we who confess one Godhead of the Father and the Son suppose no such order of distinction as the Arians do. 2285


Footnotes

257:2280

Bk. I. vii.

257:2281

S. Matt. xxv. 31.

257:2282

The majesty of the Universal Judge cannot take its rise in or be derived from any human or any created source—it must transcend all created existences, even angels and archangels, cherubim and seraphim—it must be eternal, divine.

257:2283

S. Luke ix. 26.

257:2284

S. Mark viii. 38.

257:2285

i.e. no such gradation as will lead without a break from angels to the Father through the Son, ignoring the difference of creature and Creator.


Next: Chapter XIV. The Son is of one substance with the Father.

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