Click to View

Early Church Fathers
Click to ViewMaster Index
Click to ViewPower Search

 Click to View

107 Matt. iii. 17.

108 Here is taught us the strict unity of the Divine Essence. When it is said that the First Person of the Holy Trinity communicates divinity to the Second, it is meant that that one Essence which is the Father, also is the Son. Hence the force of the word omoousion, which was in consequence accused of Sabellianism, but was distinguished from it by the particle omou, `together,' which implied a difference as well as unity; whereas tautoousion or sunousion implied, with the Sabellians, an identity or a confusion. The Arians, on the other hand, as in the instance of Eusebius, &c., supr. p. 75, note 7; de Syn. 26, note 3; considered the Father and the Son two ousiai. The Catholic doctrine is that, though the Divine Essence is both the Father Ingenerate and also the Only-begotten Son, it is not itself agennhtoj or gennhth; which was the objection urged against the Catholics by Aetius, Epiph. Haer. 76. 10. Cf. de Decr. §30, Orat. iii. §36 fin., Expos. Fid. 2. vid. de Syn. 45, note 1. `Vera et aeterna substantia in se tota permanens, totam se coaeternae veritati nativitatis indulsit.' Fulgent. Resp. 7. And S. Hilary, `Filius in Patre est et in Filio Pater, non per transfusionem, refusionemque mutuam, sed per viventis naturae perfectam nativitatem.' Trin. vii. 31.

109 De Decr. §31.

110 2 Pet i. 4.

111 1 Cor. iii. 16; 2 Cor. vi. 16.

112 ennoia, vid. de Syn. §48 fin.

113 de Decr. 17, 24.

114 John x. 30.

115 de Decr. 1, note.

116 de Decr. 25, note 2.

117 Vid. Orat. iv. §13.

118 §8, note 8.

119 De Decr. §31.

120 Jer. ii. 13.

121 Ib. xvii. 12, 13.

122 Bar. iii. 12.

123 John xiv. 6.

124 Prov. viii. 12.

125 Supr. §15.

126 Isa. lviii. 11.

127 Ps. civ. 24.

128 Prov. iii. 19.

129 John i. 3. See Westcott's additional note on the passage.]

130 1 Cor. viii. 6.

131 Vid. Petav. de Trin. ii. 12, §4.

132 De Decr. §30.

133 De Decr. §17.

134 alogon. Vid. note on de Decr. §§1, 15, where other instances are given from Athan. and Dionysius of Rome; vid. also Orat. iv. 2, 4. Sent. D. 23. Origen, supr. p. 48. Athenag. Leg. 10. Tat. contr. Graec. 5. Theoph. ad. Autol. ii. 10. Hipp. contr. Noet. 10. Nyssen. contr. Eunom. vii. p. 215. viii. pp. 230, 240. Orat, Catech. 1. Naz. Orat. 29. 17 fin. Cyril. Thesaur. xiv. p. 145 (vid. Petav. de Trin. vi. 9). It must not be supposed from these instances that the Fathers meant that our Lord was literally what is called the attribute of reason or wisdom in the Divine Essence, or in other words, that He was God merely viewed as He is wise; which would be a kind of Sabellianism. But, whereas their opponents said that He was but called Word and Wisdom after the attribute (vid. de Syn. 15, note), they said that such titles marked, not only a typical resemblance to the attribute, but so full a correspondence and (as it were) coincidence in nature with it, that whatever relation that attribute had to God, such in kind had the Son;-that the attribute was His symbol, and not His mere archetype; that our Lord was eternal and proper to God, because that attribute was, which was His title, vid. Ep. Aeg. 14, that our Lord was that Essential Reason and Wisdom,-not by which the Father is wise, but without which the Father was not wise;-not, that is, in the way of a formal cause, but in fact. Or, whereas the Father Himself is Reason and Wisdom, the Son is the necessary result of that Reason and Wisdom, so that, to say that there was no Word, would imply there was no Divine Reason; just as a radiance implies a light; or, as Petavius remarks, l.c. quoting the words which follow shortly after in the text, the eternity of the Original implies the eternity of the Image; thj upostasewj uparxoushj, pantwj euquj einai dei ton xarkthra kai thn eikona tauthj, §20. vid. also infr. §31, de Decr. §13, p. 21, §§29, 23, pp. 35, 40. Theod. H. E. i. 3. p. 737.

135 This was but the opposite aspect of the tenet of our Lord's consubstantiality or eternal generation. For if He came into being at the will of God, by the same will He might cease to be; but if His existence is unconditional and necessary, as God's attributes might be, then as He had no beginning, so can He have no end; for He is in, and one with, the Father, who has neither beginning nor end. On the question of the `will of God' as it affects the doctrine, vid. Orat. iii. §59, &c.

136 §29, note.

137 De Decr. 22, note 9.

138 John xiv 6.

139 Athan. argues from the very name Image for our Lord's eternity. An Image, to be really such, must be an expression from the Original, not an external and detached imitation. vid. supr. note 10, infr. §26. Hence S. Basil, `He is an Image not made with the hand, or a work of art, but a living Image,' &c. vid. also contr. Eunom. ii. 16, 17. Epiph Hoer. 76. 3. Hilar. Trin. vii. 41 fin. Origen observes that man, on the contrary, is an example of an external or improper image of God. Periarch. i. 2. §6. It might have been more direct to have argued from the name of Image to our Lord's consubstantiality rather than eternity, as, e.g. S. Gregory Naz. `He is Image as one in essence, omoousion, ...for this is the nature of an image, to be a copy of the archetype.' Orat. 30. 20. vid. also de Decr. §§20, 23, but for whatever reason Athan. avoids the word omoousion in these Discourses. S. Chrys. on Col. i. 15.

140 Prov. viii 30.

141 John xiv. 9.

142 omoiaj ousiaj. And so §20 init. omoion kat' ousian, and omoioj thj ousiaj, §26. omoioj kat' ousian, iii. 26. and omoioj kata thn ousian tou patroj. Ep. Aeg. 17. Also Alex. Ep. Encycl. 2. Considering what he says in the de Syn. §38, &c., in controversy with the semi-Arians a year or two later, this use of their formula, in preference to the omoousion (vid. foregoing note), deserves our attention.

143 De Decr. §16.

144 De Syn. 27 (5) note 1, and infr. §40.

145 The objection is this, that, if our Lord be the Father's Image, He ought to resemble Him in being a Father. S. Athanasius answers that God is not as man; with us a son becomes a father because our nature is reusth, transitive and without stay, ever shifting and passing on into new forms and relations; but that God is perfect and ever the same, what He is once that He continues to be; God the Father remains Father, and God the Son remains Son. Moreover men become fathers by detachment and transmission, and what is received is handed on in a succession; whereas the Father, by imparting Himself wholly, begets the Son: and a perfect nativity finds its termination in itself. The Son has not a Son, because the Father has not a Father. Thus the Father is the only true Father, and the Son alone true Son; the Father only a Father, the Son only a Son; being really in their Persons what human fathers are but by office, character, accident, and name; vid. De Decr. 11, note 6. And since the Father is unchangeable as Father, in nothing does the Son more fulfil the idea of a perfect Image than in being unchangeable too. Thus S. Cyril also, Thesaur. 10. p. 124. And this perhaps may illustrate a strong and almost startling implication of some of the Greek Fathers, that the First Person in the Holy Trinity, is not God [in virtue of His Fatherhood]. E.g. ei de qeoj o uioj, ouk epei uioj: omoiwj kai o pathr, ouk epei pathr, qeoj: all' epei ousia toiade, eij esti pathr kai o uioj qeoj. Nyssen. t. i. p. 915. vid. Petav. de Deo i. 9. §13. Should it be asked, `What is the Father if not God?' it is enough to answer, `the Father.' Men differ from each other as being individuals, but the characteristic difference between Father and Son is, not that they are individuals, but that they are Father and Son. In these extreme statements it must he ever horne in mind that we are contemplating divine things according to our notions. not in fact: i.e. speaking of the Almighty Father, as such; there being no real separation between His Person and His Substance. It may be added, that, though theologians differ in their decisions, it would appear that our Lord is not the Image of the Father's person, but of the Father's substance; in other words, not of the Father considered as Father, but considered as God That is, God the Son is like and equal to God the Father, because they are both the same God. De Syn. 49. note 4, also next note

146 Ep. Eus. 7, de Decr. 11, note 8.

147 kuriwj, de Decr. 11, note 6. Elsewhere Athan. says, `The Father being one and only is Father of a Son one and only; and in the instance of Godhead only have the names Father and Son stay and are ever; for of men if any one be called father, yet he has been son of another; and if he be called son, yet is he called father of another; so that in the case of men the names father and son do not properly, kuriwj, hold.' ad Serap. i. 16. also ibid. iv. 4 fin. and 6. vid. also kuriwj, Greg. Naz. Orat. 29. 5. alhqwj, Orat. 25, 16. ontwj, Basil. contr. Eunom. i. 5. p. 215.

148 This miserable procedure, of making sacred and mysterious subjects a matter of popular talk and debate, which is a sure mark of heresy, had received a great stimulus about this time by the rise of the Anomoeans. Eusebius's testimony to the profaneness which attended Arianism upon its rise will be given de Syn. 2, note 1. The Thalia is another instance of it. S. Alexander speaks of the interference, even judicial, in its behalf against himself, of disobedient women, di' entuxiaj gunaikariwn ataktwn a hpathsan, and of the busy and indecent gadding about of the younger, ek tou peritroxazein pasan aguian asemnwj. ap. Theod. H.E. i. 3. p. 730, also p. 747; also of the men's buffoon conversation, p. 731. Socrates says that `in the Imperial Court, the officers of the bedchamber held disputes with the women, and in the city in every house there was a war of dialectics.' Hist. ii. 2. This mania raged especially in Constantinople, and S. Gregory Naz. speaks of `Jezebels in as thick a crop as hemlock in a field.' Orat. 35. 3, cf. de Syn. 13, n. 4. He speaks of the heretics as `aiming at one thing only, how to make good or refute points of argument,' making `every market-place resound with their words, and spoiling every entertainment with their trifling and offensive talk.' Orat. 27. 2. The most remarkable testimony of the kind though not concerning Constantinople, is given by S. Gregory Nyssen, and often quoted, `Men of yesterday and the day before, mere mechanics, off-hand dogmatists in theology, servants too and slaves that have been flogged, runaways from servile work, are solemn with us and philosophical about things incomprehensible. ...With such the whole city is full; its smaller gates, forums, squares, thoroughfares; the clothes-venders, the money-lenders, the victuallers. Ask about pence, and he will discuss the Generate and Ingenerate; inquire the price of bread, he answers, Greater is the Father, and the Son is subject; say that a bath would suit you, mad he defines that the Son is out of nothing.' t. 2. p. 898.

149 Matt. xii. 34.

150 This objection is found in Alex. Ep. Encycl. 2. o wn qeoj ton mh onta ek tou mh ontoj. Again, onta gegennhke h ouk onta. Greg. Orat. 29. 9. who answers it. Pseudo-Basil. contr. Eunom. iv. p. 281. 2. Basil calls the question poluqrullhton, contr. Eunom. ii. 14. It will be seen to be but the Arian formula of `He was not before His generation,' in another shape; being but this, that the very fact of His being begotten or a Son, implies a beginning, that is, a time when He was not: it being by the very force of the words absurd to say that `God begat Him that was,' or to deny that `God begat Him that was not.' For the symbol, ouk hn prin gennhqh, vid. Excursus B. at the end of this Discourse.

151 Rom. i. 23, and §2.

152 De Decr. 7 11, esp. note 6.

153 De Decr. 31, note 5.

154 Eph. iii. 15.

155 John i. 1.

156 Heb. i. 3.

157 Rom. ix. 5.

158 Vid. Basil, contr. Eunom. ii. 17.

159 This cautious and reverent way of speaking is a characteristic of S. Athanasius, ad Serap. i. 1. vid. ii. init. ad Epict. 13 fin. ad Max. init. contr. Apoll. i. init. `I must ask another question, bolder, yet with a religious intention; be propitious, O Lord, &c.' Orat. iii. 63, cf. de Decr. 12, note 8, 15, note 6, de Syn. 51, note 4.

160 De Decr. 25, note 2.

161 John i. 14.

162 organon, de Decr. 7, n. 6, de Syn. 27, note 11. This was alleged by Arius, Socr i. 6. and by Eusebius, Eccles. Theol. i. 8. supr. Ep. Eus., and by the Anomoeans, supr. de Decr. 7, note 1.

163 Supr. de Decr. 6. The question was, What was that sense of Son which would apply to the Divine Nature? The Catholics said that its essential meaning could apply, viz. consubstantiality, whereas the point of posteriority to the Father depended on a condition, time, which could not exist in the instance of God. ib. 10. The Arians on the other hand said, that to suppose a true Son, was to think of God irreverently, as implying division, change, &c. The Catholics replied that the notion of materiality was quite as foreign from the Divine Essence as time, and as the Divine Sonship was eternal, so was it also clear both of imperfection or extension.

164 It is from expressions such as this that the Greek Fathers have been accused of tritheism. The truth is, every illustration, as being incomplete on one or other side of it, taken by itself, tends to heresy. The title Son by itself suggests a second God, as the title Word a mere attribute, and the title Instrument a creature. All heresies are partial views of the truth, and are wrong, not so much in what they say, as in what they deny. The truth, on the other hand, is a positive and comprehensive doctrine, and in consequence necessarily mysterious and open to misconception. vid. de Syn. 41, note 1. When Athan, implies that the Eternal Father is in the Son, though remaining what He is, as a man in his child, he is intent only upon the point of the Son's connaturality and equality, which the Arians denied. Cf. Orat. iii. §5; Ps.-Ath. Dial i. (Migne xxviii. 1144 C.). S. Cyril even seems to deny that each individual man may be considered a separate substance except as the Three Persons are such (Dial. i. p. 409); and S. Gregory Nyssen is led to say that, strictly speaking, the abstract man, which is predicated of separate individuals, is still one, and this with a view of illustrating the Divine Unity. ad Ablab. t. 2. p. 449. vid. Petav. de Trin. iv. 9.

165 [But see Or. iii. 65, note 2.]

166 S. Athanasius's doctrine is, that, God containing in Himself all perfection, whatever is excellent in one created thing above another, is found in its perfection in Him. If then such generation as radiance from light is more perfect than that of children from parents, that belongs, and transcendently, to the All-perfect God.

167 This is a view familiar to the Fathers, viz. that in this consists our Lord's Sonship, that He is the Word, or as S Augustine says, Christum ideo Filium quia Verbum. Aug. Ep. 120. 11. Cf. de Decr. §17. `If I speak of Wisdom, I speak of His offspring;' Theoph. ad Autolyc. i. 3. `The Word, the genuine Son of Mind;' Clem. Protrept. p. 58. Petavius discusses this subject accurately with reference to the distinction between Divine Generation and Divine Procession. de Trin. vii. 14.

168 Orat. iii. 67.

169 Heretics have frequently assigned reverence as the cause of their opposition to the Church; and if even Arius affected it, the plea may be expected in any other. `O stultos et impios metus,' says S. Hilary, `et irreligiosam de Deo sollicitudinem.' de Trin. iv. 6. It was still more commonly professed in regard to the Catholic doctrine of the Incarnation. Cf. Acta Archelai [Routh. Rell. v. 169]. August. contr. Secund. 9, contr. Faust. xi. 3. As the Manichees denied our Lord a body, so the Apollinarians denied Him a rational soul, still under pretence of reverence because, as they said, the soul was necessarily sinful. Leontius makes this their main argument, o nouj amarthtikoj esti. de Sect. iv. p. 507. vid. also Greg. Naz. Ep. 101. ad Cledon. p. 89; Athan. in Apoll. i. 2. 14. Epiph. Ancor. 79. 80. Athan., &c., call the Apollinarian doctrine Manichaan in consequence. vid. in Apoll. ii. 8. 9. &c. Again, the Eranistes in Theodoret, who advocates a similar doctrine, will not call our Lord man. Eranist. ii. p. 83. Eutyches, on the other hand, would call our Lord man, but refused to admit His human nature, and still with the same profession. Leon. Ep. 21. 1 fin. `Forbid it,' he says at Constantinople, `that I should say that the Christ was of two natures, or should discuss the nature, fusiologein, of my God.' Concil. t. 2. p. 157 [Act. prima conc. Chalc. t. iv. 1001 ed. Col.] A modern argument for Universal Restitution takes a like form; `Do not we shrink from the notion of another's being sentenced to eternal punishment; and are we more merciful than God?' vid. Matt. xvi. 22, Matt. xvi. 23.

170 Vid. Orat. iii. §59, &c.

171 Rom. xi. 34; ib. Rom. ix. 20.

172 Athan.'s argument is as follows: that, as it is of the essence of a son to be `connatural' with the father, so is it of the essence of a creature to be of `nothing,' ec ouk ontwn; therefore, while it was not impossible `from the nature of the case,' for Almighty God to be always Father, it was impossible for the same reason that He should be always a Creator. vid. infr. §58: where he takes, `They shall perish,' in the Psalm, not as a fact but as the definition of the nature of a creature. Also ii. §1, where he says, `It is proper to creatures and works to have said of them, ec ouk ontwn and ouk hn prin gennhqh.' vid. Cyril. Thesaur. 9. p. 67. Dial. ii. p. 460. on the question of being a Creator in posse, vid. supra, Ep. Eus. 11 note 3.

173 The word aggen[n]hton was in the philosophical schools synonymous with `God;' hence by asking whether there were two Unoriginates, the Arians implied that there were two Gods, if Christ was God in the sense in which the Father was. Hence Athan. retorts, faskontej, ou legomen duo agenhta, legousi duo qeouj. Orat. iii. 16, also ii. 38. Plato used agennhton of the Supreme God [not so; he used agenhton, see note 2 on de Decr. 28]; the Valentinians, Tertull. contr. Val. 7; and Basilides, Epiph. Hoer. 31. 10. S. Clement uses it, see de Syn. 47, note 7. [The earlier Arians apparently argued mainly, like Asterius, from agenhtoj (cr. Epiph. 64. 8), the later (kainoi, Epiph. Hoer. 73. 19) Anomoeans rather from agennhtoj]; viz. that h agennhsia is the very ousia of God, not an attribute. So Aetius in Epiph. Hoer. 76. S. Athanasius does not go into this question, but rather confines himself to the more popular form of it, viz. the Son is by His very name not agenhtoj, but genhtoj, but all genhta are creatures; which he answers, as de Decr. §28, by saying that Christianity had brought in a new idea into theology, viz. the sacred doctrine of a true Son, ek thj ousiaj. This was what the Arians had originally denied en to agennhton en de to up' autou alhqwj, kai ouk ek thj ousiaj autou gegonoj. Euseb. Nic. ap. Theod. H.E. i. 6. When they were urged what according to them was the middle idea to which the Son answered, if they would not accept the Catholic, they would not define but merely said, gennhma, all' ouk wj en twn gennhuatwn. [See pp. 149, 169, and the reference there to Lightfoot.]

174 De Decr. 18.

175 1 Tim. i. 7.

176 De Decr. 28, note 4.

177 The two first senses here given answer to the two first mentioned, de Decr. §28. and, as he there says, are plainly irrelevant. The third in the de Decr. which, as he there observes, is ambiguous and used for a sophistical purpose, is here divided into third and fourth, answering to the two senses which alone are assigned in the de Syn. §46 [where see note 5], and on them the question turns. This is an instance, of which many occur, how Athan. used his former writings and worked over again his former ground, and simplified or cleared what he had said. In the de Decr. after 350, we have three senses of agenhton, two irrelevant and the third ambiguous; here in Orat. i. (358), he divides the third into two; in the de Syn. (359), he rejects and omits the two first, leaving the two last, which are the critical senses.

Click Your Choice