As he is going to reply to the slanders of his opponents he implores the aid of Divine graceto teach a prayer to be used by those who undertake to dispute with heretics.
As it happens to those who having escaped the perils of the sea, are in terror of the sandsthat stretch before the harbour, or the rocks that line the shore, so it is in my case that, -as Ihave kept to the last some of the slandersof the heretics, - although I have reached the limit of thework which I set myself, yet I am beginning to dread the close, which I had longed to reach. But, asthe Prophet says,"The Lord is my helper; I will not fear what man can do to me,"(1) so we will not fear the pitfalls which craftyheretics have dug in front of us, nor the paths thickly strewn with horrid thorns. For as they makeour road difficult but do not close it, there is before us the trouble of clearing them away, ratherthan the fear of not being able to do so. For when, as we are walking feebly along the right road,they come in our way, and frighten the walkers rather than hurt them, our work and business has moreto do in clearing them away, than to fear from the difficulty of this: And so, laying our hands uponthat monstrous head of the deadly serpent, and longing to lay hold of all the limbs that areentangled in the huge folds and coils of his body, again and again do we pray to Thee, O Lord Jesus,to whom we have ever prayed, that Thou wouldst give us words by opening our mouth "to the pullingdown of strongholds, destroying counsels, and every height that exalteth itself against the knowledgeof God, and bringing into captivity every understanding unto Thine obedience:"(2) for he is indeed free, who has begun to be ledcaptive by Thee. Do Thou then be present to this work of thine, and to those of Thine who arestriving for Thee above the measure of their strength. Grant us to bruise the gaping mouths of thisnew serpent, and its neck that swells with deadly poison, O Thou who makest the feet of believers totread unharmed on serpents and scorpions, and to go upon the adder and basilisk, to tread under footthe lion and the dragon.(3) And grant thatthrough the fearless boldness of steadfast innocence, the sucking child may play on the hole of theasp, and the weaned child thrust his hand into the den of the basilisk.(4) Grant then to us also that we may thrust our handsunharmed into the den of this monstrous and most wicked basilisk; and if it has in any holes, i.e.,in the human heart, a lurking or resting place, or has laid its eggs there, or left a trace of itsslimy course, do Thou remove from them all the foul and deadly pollution of this most noxiousserpent. Take away the uncleanness their blasphemy has brought on them, and purify with the fan ofThy sacred cleansing(5) the souls that areplunged in stinking mud, so that the "dens of thieves" may become "houses of prayer:"(6) and that in those which are now, as is written,the dwellings where hedgehogs and monsters,(7)and satyrs, and all kinds of strange creatures dwell, there the gifts of Thy Holy Spirit, namely thebeauty of faith and holiness may shine forth. And as once Thou didst destroy idolatry and cast outimages, and make shrines of virtue out of the temples of devils, and let into the dens of serpentsand scorpions the rays of shining light, and make out of the dens of error and shame the homes ofbeauty and splendour, so do Thou pour upon all whose eyes the darkness of heretical obstinacy hasblinded, the light of Thy compassion and truth, that they may at length with clear and unveiled sightbehold the great and life-giving mystery of Thine Incarnation, and so come to know Thee to have beenborn as Very man of that sacred womb of a pure Virgin, and yet to acknowledge that Thou wast alwaysVery God.
He meets the objection taken from these words: No one gave birth to one who had existedbefore her.
And before I begin to speak of those things of which I have given no foretaste in the earlierbooks, I think it right to try to carry out what I have already promised, that when I have thoroughlyredeemed my pledge, I may begin to speak more freely of what has not been touched upon, after havingsatisfied my promise. So then that new serpent, in order to destroy the faith of the holy nativity,hisses out against the Church of God and says: "No one ever gives birth to one older than herself."To begin with then I think that you know neither what you say nor where you get it from. For if youknew or understood where you got it from, you would never regard the nativity of the only begotten ofGod in the light of human fancies, nor would you try to settle by merely human propositions, aboutHim who was born without His conception originating from man: nor would you bring humanimpossibilities as objections against Divine Omnipotence if you knew that with God nothing wasimpossible. No one then, you say, gives birth to one older than herself. Tell me then, I pray, ofwhat cases are you speaking, for the nature of what creatures do you think that you can lay downrules? Do you suppose that you can fix laws for men or beasts or birds or cattle? Those (and othersof the same kind) are the things of which such assertions can be made. For none of them is able toproduce one older than itself; for what has already been produced cannot return to it again so as tobe born again by a new creation. And so no one can bear one older than herself, as no one can begetone older than himself: for the opportunity of bearing only results where there is the possibility ofbegetting. Do you then imagine that in reference to the nativity of Almighty God regard must be hadto the same considerations as in the birth of earthly creatures? And do you bring the nature of man'sconditions as a difficulty in the case of Him who is Himself the author of nature? You see then that,as I said above, you know not whence or of whom you are talking, as you are comparing creatures tothe Creator; and in order to calculate the power of God are drawing an instance from those thingswhich would never have existed at all, but that the very fact of their existence comes from God. Godthen came as He would, when He would, and of her whom He would. Neither time nor person, nor themanner of men, nor the custom of creatures was any difficulty with Him; for the law ofthe creaturescould not stand in the way of Him who is Himself the Creator of them all.And whatever He would havepossible was ready to His hand, for the power of willing itwas His. Do you want to know how far theomnipotence of God extends, and how greatit is? I believe that the Lord could do that even in thecase of His creatures which youdo not believe that He could do in His own case. For all livingcreatures which now bearthings younger than themselves could, if only God gave the word, bear thingsmuch olderthan themselves. For even food and drink, if it were God's will, could be turned intothefoetus and offspring: and even water, which has been flowing from the beginning of things,andwhich all living creatures use, could, if God gave the word, be made a body in the womb, and havebirth given to it. For who can set a limit to divine works, or circumscribe Divine Providence? or who(to use the words of Scripture) can say to Him "What doest thou?"(8) If you deny that God can do all things, then deny,that, when God was born, one older than Mary could be born of her. But if there is nothing impossiblewith God, why do you bring as an objection against His coming an impossibility, when you know thatfor Him nothing is impossible in anything?
He replies to the cavil that the one who is born must be of onesubstance with the one whobears.
The second blasphemous slander or slanderous blasphemy of your heresy is when you say thatthe one who is born must be of one substance with the one who bears. It is not very different fromthe previous one, for it differs from it in terms rather than in fact and reality. For when we aretreating of the birth of God, you maintain that one of greater power could not be born of Mary justas above you maintain than one older could not be begotten. And so you may take it that the sameanswer may be given to this as to what you said before: or you may conceive that the answer given tothis assertion, which you are now making, applies to that also. You say then that the one who is bornmust be of one substance with the one who bears. If this refers to earthly creatures, it is mostcertainly the case. But if it refers to the birth of God, why in the case of His birth do you regardprecedents from nature? for appointments are subject to Him who appointed them, and not the appointerto His appointments. But would you like to know more fully how these slanders of yours are not onlywicked but foolish, and the idle talk of one who does not in the least see the omnipotence of God?Tell me, I pray, you who think that like things can only be produced from like things, whence was theorigin of that unaccountable host of quails in thewilderness of old time to feed the children ofIsrael, for nowhere do we read that they had been previously born of mother birds, but that they werebrought up and came suddenly. Again whence came that heavenly food which for forty years fell on thecamp of the Hebrews? Did manna produce manna? But these refer to ancient miracles. And what of morerecent ones? With a few loaves and small fishes the Lord Jesus Christ fed countless hosts ofthepeople that followed Him, and not once only. The reason that they were satisfied lay not in thefood: for a secret and unseen cause satisfied the hungry folk, especially as there was much more leftwhen they were filled than there had been set before them when they were hungry. And how was all thisbrought about that when those who ate were satisfied, the food itself was multiplied by anextraordinary increase? We read that in Galilee wine was produced from water. Tell me how what was ofone nature produced something of an altogether different substance from its own quality? Especiallywhen (which exactly applies to the birth of the Lord) it was the production of a nobler substancefrom what was inferior to it? Tell me then how from merewater there could be produced rich andsplendid wine? How was it that one thing was drawn out, another poured in? Was the cistern a well ofsuch a nature as to change the water drawn from it into the best wine? Or did the character of thevessels or the diligence of the servants effect this? Most certainly neither of these. And how is itthat the manner of the fact is not understood by the thoughts of the heart, though thetruth of the fact is firmly held by the conscience? In the gospel clay was placed on the eyesof a blind man and when it was washed off(9)eyes were produced. Had water the power of giving birth to eyes, or clay of creating light? Certainlynot, especially as water could be of no use to a blind man, and clay would actually hinder the sightof those who could see. And how was it that a thing that itself in its own nature was injurious,became the means of restoring health; and that what was ordinarily hurtful to sound people, was thenmade the instrument of healing? You say that the power of God brought it about, and the remedy of Godcaused it, and that all these things of which we have been speaking were simply brought about byDivine Omnipotence; which is able to fashion new things from unwonted material, and to makeserviceable things out of their opposites, and to change what belongs to the realm of thingsimpossible and impracticable into possibilities and actual performances.
How God has shown His Omnipotence in His birth in timeas well as in everything else.
Confess then the same truth in respect of the actual nativity of the Lord, as in respect ofeverything else. Believe that God was born when He would, for you do not deny that He could do whatHe would; unless possibly you think that that power which belonged to Himfor all other things wasdeficient as regards Himself, and that His Omnipotence though proceeding from Him and penetrating allthings, was insufficient to bring about His own nativity. In the case of the Lord's nativity youbring this as an objection against me: No one gives birth to one who is anterior in time: and inregard of the birth which Almighty God underwent you say that the one who is born ought to be of onesubstance with the one who bears; as if you had to do with human laws as in the case of any ordinaryman, to whom you might bring the impossibility as an objection, as you include him in the weakness ofearthly things. You say that for all men there are common conditions of birth, and but one law ofgeneration; and that a thing could not possibly happen to one man only out of the whole of humanity,which God has forbidden to happen to all. You do not understand of whom you are speaking; nor do yousee of whom you are talking; for He is the Author of all conditions, and the very Law of all natures,through whom exists whatever man can do, and whatever man cannot do: for He certainly has laid downthe limits of both; viz., how far his powers should extend, and the bounds beyond which his weaknessshould not advance. How wildly then do you bring human impossibilities as an objection in the case ofHim, who possesses all powers and possibilities. If you estimate the Person of the Lord by earthlyweaknesses, and measure God's Omnipotence by human rules, you will most certainly fail to findanything which seems appropriate to God as concerns the sufferings of His Body. For if it can seem toyou unreasonable that Mary could give birth to God who was anterior to her, how will it seemreasonable that God was crucified by men? And yet the same God who was crucified Himself predicted:"Shall a man afflict God, for you afflict Me?"(10) If then we cannot think that the Lord was born ofa Virgin because He who was born was anterior to her who bore Him, how can we believe that God hadblood? And yet it was said to the Ephesian elders: "Feed the Church of God which He has purchasedwith His own Blood."(11) Finally how can wethink that the Author of life was Himself deprived of life: And yet Peter says: "Ye have killed theAuthor of life."(12) No one who is set onearth can be in heaven: and how does the Lord Himself say: "The Son of man who is in heaven"?(13) If then you think that God was not born of aVirgin because the one who is born must be of one substance with the one who bears, how will youbelieve that different things can be produced from different natures?Thus according to you the winddid not suddenly bring the quails, nor did the manna fall, nor was water turned into wine nor weremany thousands of men fed with a few loaves, nor did the blind man receive his sight after the clayhad been put on him. But if all these things seem incredible and contrary to nature, unless webelieve that they were wrought by God, why should you deny in the matter of His nativity, what youadmit in the matter of His works? Or was He unable to contribute to His own nativity and advent whatHe did not refuse for the succour and profit of men?
He shows by proofs drawn from nature itself, that the law which his opponents lay down; viz.,that the one born ought to be of one substance with the one who bears, fails to hold good in manycases.
IT would be tedious and almost childish to speak further on this subject. But still in orderto refute that folly and madness of yours, in which you maintain that the one born ought to be of onesubstance with the one who bears, i.e., that nothing can produce something of a different nature toitself, I will bring forward some instances of earthly things, to convince you that many creaturesare produced from things of a different nature. Not that it is possible or right to make anycomparison in such a case as this: but that you may not doubt the possibility of that happening inthe case of the holy Nativity, which as you see takes place in these frail earthly things. Bees,tiniest of creatures though they are, are yet so clever and cunning that we read that they can beproduced and spring from things of an entirely different nature. For as they are creatures ofmarvellous intelligence, and well endowed not merely with sense but with foresight, they are producedfrom the gathered flowers of plants. What greater instance do you think can be produced and quoted?Living creatures are produced from inanimate: sensate from insensate.(14) What artificer, whatarchitect was there? Whoformed their bodies? Who breathed in their souls? Who gave them articulate sounds by which toconverse with each other? Who fashioned and arranged these harmonies of their feet, the cunning oftheir mouths, the neatness of their wings? Their powers, wrath, foresight, movements, calmness,harmony, differences, wars, peace, arrangements, contrivances, business, government, all those thingsindeed which they have in common with men-from whose teaching, or whose gift did they receive them?from whose implanting or instruction? Did they gain this through generation? or learn it in theirmother's womb or from her flesh? They never were in the womb, and had no experience of generation. Itwas only that flowers which they culled were brought into the hive and from this by a marvellouscontrivance bees issued forth.(15) Then thewomb of the mother imparted nothing to the offspring: nor are bees produced from bees. They are buttheir artificers, not their authors. From the blossoms of plants living creatures proceed. What isthere akin in plants and animals? I fancy then that you see who is the contriver of those things. Gonow and inquire whether the Lord could bring about that in the case of His own nativity, which yousee that He procured in the case of these tiniest of creatures. Perhaps it is needless after this toadd anything further. But still let us add in support of the argument what may not be necessary toprove the point. We see how the air is suddenly darkened, and the earth filled with locusts. Show metheir seed-their birth-their mothers. For, as you see, they proceed thence, whence they have theirbirth. Assertin all these cases that the one who is born must be of one substance with the one whobears. And in these assertions you will be shown to be as silly, as you are wild in your denial ofthe Nativity of the Lord. And what next? Do even you think that we must go on any further? Butstill we will add something else. There is no doubt that basilisks are produced from the eggs of thebirds which in Egypt they call the Ibis. What is there of kindred or relationship between a bird anda serpent? Why is the thing born not of one substance with that which bears it? And yet those whobear are not the authors of all these things, nor do those who are born understand them: but theyresult from secret causes, and from some inexplicable and manifold law of nature which produces them.And you are bringing as objections to His Nativity your petty assertions from earthly notions, whileyou cannot explain the origin of those things, which are produced by His bidding and command, whosewill does everything, whose sway causes everything: whom nothing can oppose or resist; and whose willis sufficient for everything which can possibly be done.
He refutes another argument of Nestorius, in which he tried to make out that Christ was likeAdam in every point.
But since we cannot (as we should much prefer) ignore them, it is now time to expose the restof your more subtle and insidious blasphemies that at least they may not deceive ignorant folk. Inone of your pestilent treatises you have maintained and said that "Since man is the image of theDivine nature, and the devil dragged this down and shattered it, God grieved over His image, as anEmperor over his statue, and repairs the shattered image: and formed without generation a nature fromthe Virgin, like that of Adam who was born without generation; and raises up man's nature by means ofman: for as by man came death, so also by man came the resurrection of the dead." They tell usthatsome poisoners have a custom of mixing honey with the poison in the cups which they prepare; that theinjurious ingredient may be concealed by the sweet: and while a man is charmed with the sweetness ofthe honey, he may be destroyed by the deadly poison. So then, when you say that man is the image ofthe Divine nature, and that the devil dragged this down and shattered it, and that God grieved overHis image as an Emperor over his statue, you smear (so to speak) the lips of the cup with somethingsweet like honey, that men may drain the cup offered to them, and not perceive its deadliness, whilethey taste what is alluring. You put forward God's name, in order to speak falsehoods in the name ofreligion. You set holy things in the front, in order to persuade men of what is untrue: and by meansof your confession of God you contrive to deny Him whom you are confessing. For who is there who doesnot see whither you are going? What you are contriving? You say indeed that God grieved over Hisimage as an Emperor over his statue, and repaired the shattered image, and formed without generationa nature from the Virgin, like that of Adam who was born without generation, and raises up man'snature by man, for as by man came death, so also by man came the resurrection of the dead. So thenwith all your earnestness, with all your professions, you crafty plotter, you have managed by yoursmooth assertions, by naming God in the forefront, to come down to a (mere) man in the conclusion:and in the end you degrade Him to the condition of a mere man, from whom under colour of humility youhave already taken away the glory of God. You say then that the Divine goodness has restored theimage of God which the devil shattered and destroyed, for you say that He restores the shatteredimage. Now with what craft you say that He restores the shattered image in order to persuade us thatthere was nothing more in Him, in whom the image is restored, than there was in the actual image, ofwhich the restoration was brought about. And thus you make out that the Lord is only the same as Adamwas: that the restorer of the image is nothing more than the actual destructible image. Finally inwhat follows you show what you are aiming and driving at, when you say that He formed withoutgeneration a nature from the Virgin like that of Adam, who was born without generation, and raises upman's nature by man. You maintain that the Lord Jesus Christ was in all respects like Adam: that theone was without generation, and the other without generation: the one a mere man, and the other amere man. And thus you see that you have carefully guarded and provided against our thinking of theLord Jesus Christ as in any way greater or better than Adam: since you have compared them together bythe same standard, so that you would think that you detracted something from Adam's perfection, ifyou added anything more to Christ.
Heretics usually cover their doctrines with a cloak of holyScripture.
"For as," you say, "by man came death, so by man came also the resurrection of the dead." Doyou actually try to prove your wrong and impious notion by the witness of the Apostle? And do youbring the "chosen vessel" into disgrace by mixing him up with your wicked ideas? I mean, that, as youcannot understand the author of your Salvation, therefore the Apostle must be made out to have deniedGod. And yet, if you wanted to make use of Apostolic witnesses, why did you rest contented with one,and pass over all the others in silence? and why did you not at once add this: "Paul, an Apostle notof men neither by man, but by Jesus Christ:"(16) or this: "We speak wisdom among the perfect:" andpresently: "Whom none," says he, "of the princes of this world knew; for had they known, they wouldnot have crucified the Lord of glory."(17) Orthis: "For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily."(18) And: "One Lord Jesus Christ through whom are allthings."(19) Or do you partly agree, andpartly disagree with the Apostle, and only receive him so far as in consequence of theIncarnation(20) he names Christ man, andrepudiate him where he speaks of Him as God? For Paul does not deny that Jesus is man, but still heconfesses that man is God: and declares that to mankind the resurrection came by man in such a waythat he shows that in that man God arose. For see whether he declares that He who rose was God, as hebears his witness that He who was crucified was the Lord of glory.
The heretics attribute to Christ only the shadow of Divinity, and so assert that he is to beworshipped together with God but not as God.
But still in order to avoid thinking of the Lord Jesus as one of the whole mass of people,you have given to Him some glory, by attributing to Him honour as a saint, but not Deity as true manand true God. For what do you say? "God brought about the Lord's Incarnation. Let us honour the formof the Theodochos(21) together with God, asone form of Godhead, as a figure that cannot be severed from the Divine link, as an image of the un-seen God." Above you said that Adam was the image of God, here you call Christ the image: the one youspeak of as a statue, andthe other also as a statue. But I suppose we ought for God's honour to begrateful to you, because you grant that the form of the Theodochos should be worshipped together withGod: in which you wrong Him rather thanhonour Him. For in this you do not attribute to the Lord JesusChrist the glory of Deity,but you deny it. By a subtle and wicked art you say that He is to beworshipped together with God in order that you may not have to confess that He is God, and by thevery statement in which you seem deceitfully to join Him with God, you really sever Him from God. Forwhen you blasphemously say that He is certainly not to be adored as God, but to be worshippedtogether with God, you thus grant to Him an union of nearness to Divinity, in order to get rid of thetruth of His Divinity. Oh, you most wicked and crafty enemy of God, you want to perpetrate the crimeof denying God under pretext of confessing Him. You say: Let us worship Him as a figure that cannotbe severed from the Divine will, as an image of the unseen God. It is I suppose, then, owing to Hiskind acts that our Lord Jesus Christ has obtained among us honour as Creator and Redeemer. If then wewere redeemed by Him from eternal destruction, in calling our Redeemer a figure we are endeavouringindeed to respond to His kindness and goodness, by a worthy service and a worthy allegiance, if wetry to get rid of that glory which He did not refuse to bring low for our sakes.
How those. are wrong who say that the birth of Christ was a secret, since it was clearlyshown even to the patriarch Jacob.
But I suppose you excuse the degradation offered to the Lord by means of a subordinatehonour, by the words "as the image of the secret God." By the fact that you term Him an image youcompare Him to man's estate. In speaking of Him as the image of the secret God, you detract from thehonour plainly due to Him. For "God," says David, "shall plainly come; our God, and shall not keepsilence."(22) And He surely came and did notkeep silence, who before that He in His own person uttered anything after His birth, made known Hisadvent by both earthly and heavenly witnesses alike, while the star points Him out, the magi adoreHim, and angels declare Him. What more do you want? His voice was yet silent on earth, and His glorywas already crying aloud in heaven. Do you say then that God was and is secret in Him? But this wasnot the announcement of the Prophets, of the Patriarchs, aye and of the whole Law. For they did notsay that He would be secret, whose coming they all foretold. You err in your wretched blindness,seeking grounds for blasphemy and not finding them. You say that He was secret even after His advent.I maintain that He was notsecret even before His advent. For did the mystery of God to be born of aVirgin escape the knowledge of that celebrated Patriarch on whom the vision of God present with himconferred a title, whereby from the name of Supplanter he rose to the name of Israel? Who, when fromthe struggle with the man who wrestled with him he understood the mystery of the Incarnation yet tocome, said, "I have seen God face to face, and my life is preserved."(23) What, I pray you, had he seen, for him to believethat he had seen God? Did God manifest Himself to him in the midst of thunder and lightning? or whenthe heavens were opened, did the dazzling face of the Deity show itself to him? Most certainly not:but rather on the contrary he saw a man and acknowledged a God. O truly worthy of the name hereceived, as with the eyes of the soul rather than of the body he earned the honour of a title givenby God! He saw a human form wrestling with him, and declared that he saw God. He certainly knew thathuman form was indeed God: for in that form in which God then appeared, in the selfsame form He wasin very truth afterwards to come. Although why should we be surprised that so great a patriarchunhesitatingly believed what God Himself so plainly showed in His own Person to him, when he said, "Ihave seen God face to face and my life is preserved." How did God show to him so much of the presenceof Deity, that he could say that the face of God was shown to him? For it seems that only a man hadappeared to him, whom he had actually beaten in the struggle. But God was certainly bringing thisabout by precursory signs, that there might not be any one to disbelieve that God was born of man,when already long before the Patriarch had seen God in human form.
He collects more witnesses of the same fact.
But why am I lingering so long over one instance, as if many were wanting? For even then howcould the fact that God was to come in the flesh escape the knowledge of men, when the Prophet saidopenly as if to all mankind of Him: "Behold your God;" and elsewhere: "Behold our God." And this:"God the mighty, the Father of the world to come, the Prince of Peace;" and: "of His kingdom thereshall be no end."(24) But also when He hadalready come, could the fact of His having come escape the knowledge of those who openly confessedthat He had come? Was Peter ignorant of the coming of God, when he said, "Thou art the Christ, theSon of the living God?"(25) Did not Marthaknow what she was saying or whom she believed in, when she said, "Yea, Lord, I have believed thatThou art the Christ, the Son of the living God, who art come into this world?"(26) And all those men, who sought from Him the cureof their sicknesses, or the restoration of their limbs, or the life of their dead, did they ask thesethings from man's weakness, or from God's omnipotence?
How the devil was forced by many reasons to the view thatChrist was God.
Finally as for the devil himself, when he was tempting Him with every show of allurements,and overly art of his wickedness, what was it that in his ignorance he suspected, or wanted to findout by tempting Him? Or what so greatly moved him, that he sought God under the humble form of man?Had he learned that by previous proofs? Or had he known of anyone who came as God in man's body? Mostcertainly not. But it was by the mighty evidence of signs, by mighty results of actions, by the wordsof the Truth Himself that he was driven to suspect and examine into this matter: inasmuch as he hadalready! once heard from John: "Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him who taketh away the sin of theworld."(27) And again from the same person: "Ihave need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?"(28) The dove also which came down from heaven andstopped over the Lord's head had made itself a clear and open proof of a God who declared Himself.The voice too which was sent from God not in riddles or figures had moved him, when it said: "Thouart My beloved Son, in Thee I am well pleased."(29) And though he saw a man outwardly in Jesus, yethe was searching for the Son of God, when he said: "If Thou art the Son of God, command that thesestones be made bread."(30) Did thecontemplation of the man drive away the devil's suspicions of His Divinity, so that owing to the factthat he saw a man, he did not believe that He could be God? Most certainly not. But what does he say?"If Thou art the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread." Certainly he had no doubtabout the possibility of that, the existence of which he was examining into. His anxiety was aboutits truth. There was no security as to its impossibility.
He compares this notion and reasonable suspicion of the devil with the obstinate andinflexible idea of his opponents, and shows that this last is worse and more blasphemous than theformer.
But he certainly knew that the Lord Jesus Christ was born of Mary: he knew that He waswrapped in swaddling clothes and laid in a manger: that His childhood was that of a poor person atthe commencement of His human life; and His infancy without the proper accessories of cradles:further he did not doubt that He had true flesh, and was born a true man. And why did this seem tohim not enough for him to be secure in? Why did he believe that He could not be God, whom he knew tobe very man? Learn then, you wretched madman, learn, you lunatic, you cruel sinner, learn, I pray,even from the devil, to lessen your blasphemy. He said: "If Thou art the Son of God." You say: "Thouart not the Son of God." You deny what he asked about. No one was ever yet found but you, to outdothe devil in blasphemy. That which he confessed to be possible in the case of the Lord, you do notbelieve to have been possible.
How the devil always retained this notion of Christ's Divinity (because of His secret workingwhich he experienced) even up to His Cross and Death.
But perhaps he afterwards ceased and rested, and when his temptations were van- quished laidaside his suspicion because he found no result? Nay, it rather remained always in him, and even up tothe very cross of the Lord the suspicion lasted in him and was increased by peculiar terrors. Whatneed is there of anything further? Not even then did he cease to think of Him as the Son of God,after that he knew that such licence was granted to His persecutors against Him. But the crafty foesaw even in the midst of His bodily sufferings the signs of Divinity, and though he would have muchpreferred Him to be a (mere) man, was yet forced to suspect that He was God: for though he would havepreferred to believe what he wanted, yet he was driven by surest proofs to that which he feared. Andno wonder: for although he beheld Him spitted on, and scourged, and disgraced, and led to the Cross,yet he saw Divine powers abounding even in the midst of the indignities and wrongs; when the veil ofthe temple is rent, when the sun hides itself, the day is darkened, and all things feel the effectsof the Passion: all things even, which know not God, acknowledge the work of Deity. And therefore thedevil seeing this, and trembling, tried in every way to arrive at the knowledge of His Godhead, evenat the very death of the manhood, saying in the person of those who crucified Him: "If He be the Sonof God, let Him come down now from the Cross, and we will believe Him."(31) He certainty perceived that by His bodily Passionour Lord God was working out the redemption of man's salvation, and also that by it he was beingdestroyed and subdued, while we were being redeemed and saved. And so the enemy of mankind wanted byevery means and every wile to defeat that which he knew was being done for the redemption of all men."If," he says, "He be the Son of God, let Him come down now from the Cross and we will believe Him:"on purpose that the Lord might be moved by the reproach of the words, and destroy the mystery, whileHe avenged the wrong. You see then that the Lord even when hanging on the Cross was termed the Son ofGod. You see that they suspect the fact to which they refer. And so do you learn, as I said above,even from His persecutors, even from the devil, to believe on the Son of God. Who ever came up to theunbelief of the devil? Who went beyond it? He suspected that He was the Son of God even whenHe endured death. You deny it even when He has risen. He suspected that He was God,from whom He hid Himself. You, to whom He has proved it, deny it.
He shows how heretics pervert holy Scripture, by replying to the argument drawn from theApostle's words, "Without father, without mother," etc.: Heb. vii.
You then make use of the holy Scriptures against God, and try to bring His own witnessesagainst Him. But how? Truly so as to become a false accuser not only of God, butof the evidencesthemselves. Nor indeed is it wonderful that, as you cannot do what you want, you only do what youcan: as you cannot turn the sacred witnesses against God, you do what you can, and pervert them. Foryousay: Then Paul tells a lie, when he says of Christ: "Without mother, without genealogy."(32) I ask you, of whom do you think that Paul saidthis? Of the Son and Word of God, or of the Christ, whom you separate from the Son of God, andblasphemously assert to be a mere man? If of the Christ, whom you maintain to be a mere man, howcould a man be born without a mother and without a genealogy on the mother's side? But if of the Wordof God and Son of God-what can we make of it, when the same Apostle, your own witness, as youimpiously imagine, testifies in the same place and by the same witness, that He whom you assert to bewithout mother, was also without father; saying, "Without father, without mother, without genealogy"?It follows then that if you use the Apostle's witness, since you assert that the Son of God was"without mother," you must also be guilty of the blasphemy that He was "without father." You see thenin what a downfall of impiety you have landed yourself, in your eagerness for your perversity andwickedness, so that, while you say that the Son of God had not a mother, you must also deny Him aFather-a thing which no one yet since the world began, except perhaps a madman, ever did. And this,whether with greater wickedness or folly, I hardly know; for what is more foolish and silly than togive the name of Son and to try to keep back the name of Father? But you say I don't keep it back, Idon't deny it. And what madness then drove you to quote that passage, where, while you say that Hehad no mother, you must seem also to deny to Him a Father? For as in the same passage He is said tobe without mother and also without father, it follows that if it can be understood that there He iswithout mother, in the same way in which we understand that He is without mother, we must alsobelieve that He is without father. But that hasty craze for deny- ing God did not see this; and whenit quoted mutilated, what was written entire, it failed to see that the shameless and palpable liecould be refuted by laying open the contents of the sacred volume. O foolish blasphemy, and madness!which, while it failed to see what it ought to follow, had not the wit to see even what could beread: as if, because it could get rid of its own intelligence, it could get rid of the power ofreading from everybody else, or as if everybody would lose their eyes in their heads for reading,because it had lost the eyes of the mind. Hear then, you heretic the passage you have garbled: hearin full and completely, what you quoted mutilated and hacked about. The Apostle wants to make clearto every one the twofold birth of God-and in order to show how the Lord was born in the Godhead andin flesh, he says, "Without father, without mother:" for the one belongs to the birth of Divinity,the other to that of the flesh. For as He was begotten in His Divine nature "without mother," so Heis in the body "without father:" and so though He is neither without father nor without mother, wemust believe in Him "without father and without mother." For if you regard Him as He is begotten ofthe Father, He is without mother: if, as born of His mother, He is without father. And so in each ofthese births He has one: in both together He is without each: for the birth of Divinity had no needof mother, and for the birth of His body, He was Himself sufficient, without a father. Therefore saysthe Apostle "Without mother, without genealogy."
How Christ could be said by the Apostle to be withoutgenealogy.
How does he say that the Lord was "without genealogy," when the Gospel of the EvangelistMatthew begins with the Saviour's genealogy, saying: "The book of the generations of Jesus Christ,the Son of David, the Son of Abraham"?(33)Therefore according to the Evangelist He has a genealogy, and according to the Apostle, He has not:for according to the Evangelist, He has it on the mother's side, according to the Apostle He has not,as He springs from the Father. And so the Apostle well says: "Without father, without mother, withoutgenealogy:" and where he lays down that He was begotten without mother, there also he records that Hewas without genealogy. And thus as regards both the nativities of the Lord, the writings of theEvangelist and of the Apostle agree together. For according to the Evangelist He has a genealogy"without father," when born in the flesh: and according to the Apostle, the Lord has not, whenbegotten in His Divine nature "without mother;" as Isaiah says: "But who shall declare Hisgeneration?"(34)
He shows that like the devil when tempting Christ, the hereticsgarble and pervert holyScripture.
Why then, you heretic, did you not in this way quote the whole and entire passage which youhad read? So you see that the Apostle laid down that the Lord was "without mother" in the same way inwhich he laid down that He was born "without father:" that we might know that He is "without mother"in the same way in which we understand Him to be "without father." And as it is impossible to believeHim to be altogether "without father," so we cannot understand that He is altogether "withoutmother." Why then, you heretic, did you not in this way quote what you had read in the Apostle,entire and unmutilated? But you insert part, and omit part; and garble the words of truth in orderthat you may be able to build up your falsenotions by your wicked act. I see who was your master. Wemust believe that you had his instruction, whose example you are following. For so the devilin the gospel when tempting the Lord said: "If Thou art the Son of God, cast Thyself down. For it iswritten that He shall give His angels charge concerning Thee to keep Thee in all Thy ways."(35) And when he had said this, he left out thecontext and what belongs to it; viz., "Thou shalt walk upon the asp and the basilisk: and thou shalttrample under foot the lion and the dragon."(36) Surely he cunningly quoted the previous verse andleft out the latter: for he quoted the one to deceive Him: he held his tongue about the latter toavoid condemning himself. For he knew that he himself was signified by the asp and basilisk, the lionand dragon in the Prophet's words. So then you also bring forward a part and omit a part; and quotethe one to deceive; and omit the other for fear lest if you were to quote the whole, you mightcondemn your own deception. But it is now time to pass on to further matters, for by dwelling toolong on particular points, as we are led to do by the desire of giving a full answer, we exceed thelimits even of a longish book.
That the glory and honour of Christ is not to be ascribed to the Holy Ghost in such a way asto deny that it proceeds from Christ Himself, as if all that excellency, which was in Him, wasanother's and proceeded from another source.
You say then in another discussion, nay rather in another blasphemy of yours, "and Heseparated(37) the Spirit from the Divinenature Who created His humanity. For Scripture says that that which was born of Mary is of the HolyGhost.(38) Who also filled with righteousness(justitia) that which was created: for it says `He appeared in the flesh, was justified in theSpirit.'(39) Again: Who made Him also to befeared by the devils: `For I,' He says, `by the Spirit of God cast out devils.'(40) Who also made His flesh a temple. `For I saw Hisspirit descending like a dove and abiding upon Him.'(41) Again: Who granted to Him His ascension intoHeaven. For it says, "Giving a commandment to the apostles whom He had chosen, by the Holy Ghost Hewas taken up."(42) Finally that it was He whogranted such glory to Christ." The whole of your blasphemy then consists in this: that Christ hadnothing of Himself: nor did He, a mere man, as you say, receive anything from the Word, i.e., the Sonof God; but everything in Him was the gift of the Spirit. If thenwe can show that all that which yourefer to the Spirit, is His own, what remains but that we prove that He whom you therefore would havetaken to be a man, because as you say everything which He has is another's, is therefore God, becauseeverything which He has is His own? And indeed we will prove this not only by discussion andargument, but by the voice of Divinity Itself: for nothing testifies of God better than thingsdivine. And because nothing knows itself better than the very glory of God, we believe nothing on thesubject of God with greater right than those writings in which God Himself is His own witness. Firstthen, as to this that you say that the Holy Spirit created His humanity; we might take it simply, ifwe could acknowledge that you had not brought it forward in the interests of unbelief. For neither dowe deny that the flesh of the Lord was conceived by the Holy Ghost: but we assert that the body wasconceived by the co-operation of the Holy Ghost in such a way that we can say that HisHumanity(43) was created for Himself by theSon of God, as the Holy Spirit Itself says in holy Scripture, testifying that "Wisdom hath buildedfor Itself a house."(44) You see then thatthat which was conceived by the Holy Ghost was built and perfected by the Son of God: not that thework of the Son of God is one thing, and the work of the Holy Ghost another: but that through theunity of the Godhead and glory the operation of the Spirit is the building of the Son of God; and thebuilding of the Son of God is the co-operation of the Holy Ghost. And so we read not only that theHoly Ghost came upon the Virgin, but also that the power of the Most High overshadowed the Virgin;that since Wisdom Itself is the fulness of the Godhead, no one might doubt that when Wisdom builtItself a house all the fulness of the Godhead was present. But the wretched hardness of yourblasphemy, while it tries to sever Christ from the Son of God, fails to see that it is entirelysevering the nature of the Godhead from Itself. Unless perhaps you believe that the house istherefore built for Him by the Holy Ghost because He Himself was insufficient and incapable ofbuilding for Himself an house. But it is as absurd as it is wild, to believe that He, whom we believeto have created the whole universe of things heavenly and earthly by His will, was unable to buildfor Himself a body: especially as the power of the Holy Ghost is His power, and the Divinity andGlory of the Trinity are so united and inseparable, that we cannot think of anything at all in OnePerson of the Trinity, which can be separated from the fulness of the Godhead. Therefore when this islaid down and grasped; viz., that according to the faith of holy Scripture, when the Holy Ghost cameupon (the Virgin) and the power of the Most High overshadowed her, Wisdom builded Itself an house;the rest of the slanders of your blasphemy come to nothing. For neither is it doubtful that He madeall things by Himself and in Himself, in whose name and faith, the faith even of believers can doanything. For neither did He need the aid of another, as neither have they needed it, who havetrusted in His power. And so as for your assertions that He was justified by the Spirit, and that theSpirit made Him to be feared by the devils, and that His flesh became the temple of the Holy Ghost,and that He was taken up by the Spirit into heaven, they are all blasphemous and wild: not because weare to believe that in all these things which He Himself did, the unity and cooperation of the Spiritwas wanting - since the Godhead is never wanting to Itself, and the [power of the Trinity was everpresent in the Saviour's works - but because you will have it that the Holy Ghost gave assistance tothe Lord Jesus Christ as if He had been feeble and powerless; and that He granted those things toHim, which He was unable to procure for Himself. Learn then from sacred witnesses to believe God, andnot to mingle falsehood with truth: for the subject does not admit it, and common sense abhors theidea of mingling the notions of the spirit of the devil with the witnesses that are Divine.
How we are to understand the Apostle's words: "He appeared in the flesh, was justified in theSpirit," etc.
For to begin with this assertion of yours that the Spirit filled with righteousness(justitia) what was created, and your attempts to prove this by the evidence of the Apostle, where hesays that "He appeared in the flesh, was justified in the Spirit," you make each statement in anunsound sense and wild spirit. For you make this assertion; viz., that you will have it that He wasfilled with righteousness by the Spirit, in order to show how He was void of righteousness, as youassert that thebeing filled with it was given to Him. And as for your use of the evidence of theApostle on this matter, you garble the arrangement and meaning of the sacred passage. For theApostle's statement is not as you have quoted it, mutilated and spoilt. For what says the Apostle?"And evidently great is the mystery of Godliness, which was manifested in the flesh, was justified inthe Spirit."(45) You see then that the Apostledeclared that the mystery or sacrament of Godliness was justified. For he was not so forgetful of hisown words and teaching as to say that He was void of righteousness, whom he had always proclaimed asrighteousness, saying: "Who was made unto us righteousness and sanctification and redemption."(46) Elsewhere also he says: "But ye were washed, butye were justified, but ye were sanctified in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ."(47) How far then from Him was it to need being filledwith righteousness, as He Himself filled all things with righteousness, and for His glory to bewithout righteousness, whose very name justifies all things. You see then how foolish and wild areyour blasphemies, since you are trying to take away from our Lord what is ever shed forth by Him uponall believers in such a way that still in its continuous supply it is never diminished.
That it was not only the Spirit, but Christ Himself also whomade Him to be feared.
You say too that the Spirit made Him to be feared by the devils. To reject and refute which,even though the horrible character of the utterance is enough, we will still add some instances. Tellme, I pray, you who say that the fact that the devils feared Him was not His own doing but another's,and who will have it that this was not His own power but a gift, how was it that even His name hadthat power, of which He Himself was, according to you, void? How was it that in His name devils werecast out, sick persons were cured, dead men were raised? For the Apostle Peter says to that lame manwho was sitting at the beautiful gate of the Temple: "In the name of Jesus Christ arise andwalk."(48) And again in the city of Joppa tothe man who had been lying on his bed paralysed for eight years he says, "Aeneas, may the Lord JesusChrist heal thee: arise and make thy bed for thyself."(49) Paul too says to the pythonical spirit: "I chargethee in the name of Jesus Christ come out of her," and the devil came out of her.(50) But understand from this how utterly alien thisweakness was from our Lord: for I do not call even those weak, whom He by His name made strong, sincewe never heard of any devil or infirmity able to resist any of the apostles since the Lord'sresurrection. How then did the Spirit make Him to be feared, who made others to be feared? Or was Hein Himself weak, whose faith even through the instrumentality of others reigned over all things?Finally those men who received power from God, never used that power as if it were their own: butreferred the power to Him from whom they received it: for the power itself could never have any forceexcept through the name of Him who gave it. And so both the apostles and all the servants of Godnever did any thing in their own name, but in the name and invocation of Christ: for the power itselfderived its force from the same source as its origin, and could not be given through theinstrumentality of the ministers, unless it had come from the Author. You then - who say that theLord was the same as one of His servants (for as the apostles had nothing but what they received fromtheir Lord, so you make out that the Lord Himself had nothing but what He received from the Spirit;and thus you make out that everything that He had, He had not as Lord, but had received it as aservant), do you tell me then, how it was that He used this power as His own and not as somethingwhich H e had received? For what do we read of Him? He says to the paralytic: "Arise, take up thybed, and go to thine house."(51) And again toa father who pleads on behalf of his child, He says: "Go thy way: thy son liveth."(52) And where an only son of his mother was beingcarried forth for burial, "Young man," He says, "I say unto thee Arise."(53) Did He then like those who received power fromGod, ask that power might be given to Him for performing these things by the invocation of the DivineName? Why did He not Himself work by the name of the Spirit, just as the apostles wrought by HisName? Finally, what does the gospel itself state about Him? It says: "He was teaching them as onethat had authority, and not like the Scribes and Pharisees."(54) Or do you make out that He was so proud andhaughty as to put to the credit of His own might thepower which (according to you) He had receivedfrom God? But what do we make of the fact that the power never submitted to His servants, exceptthrough the name of its author, and could have no efficacy if the actor claimed any of it as hisown?
He tries by stronger and weightier arguments to destroy thatnotion.
But why are we so long dealing with your wild blasphemy, with arguments that are plain indeedbut still slight? Let us hear God Himself speaking to His disciples: "Heal thesick, raise the dead,cleanse the lepers, cast out devils."(55) Andagain: "In My name," Hesays, "ye shall cast out devils."(56) Had He any need of Another's name for theexercise of His power, who made His own name to be a power? But what is still added? "Behold," Hesays, "I have given you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon all the power of theenemy."(57) He Himself says that He wasgentle, as indeed He was, and humble in heart. And how was it that as regards the greatest possiblepower, He commanded others to work in His own name, if He Himself worked in Another's name? Or did Hegive to others, as if it were His own, what He Himself, according to you, did not possess, unless Hereceived it from Another? But tell me, which of the saints receiving power from God, so worked? Orwould not Peter have been thought a lunatic, or John a madman, or Paul out of his mind, if they hadsaid to any sick folk: "In our name arise;" or to the lame: "In our name walk;" or to the dead: "Inour name live;" or this to some: "We give you power to tread upon serpents and scorpions and upon allthe power of the enemy"? You see then from this your madness: for just as these words are mad if theyspring from man's assurance, so are you utterly mad if you do not see that they come from Divinepower. For you must admit one of two alternatives; either that man could possess and give Divinepower, or at any rate if no man can do this, that He who could do it, was God. For no one can grantof His liberality Divine power, except Him who possesses it by nature.
That it must be ascribed equally to Christ and the Holy Ghost that His flesh and Humanitybecame the temple of God.
But there follows in your blasphemy that His flesh was made a temple of the Holy Ghost, forthis reason, that John has said: "For I saw the Spirit descending from heaven and abiding uponHim."(58) For you try to support even thiswild statement of yours by Scriptural authority: wherefore let us see whether this sacred authorityhas said that which you say. "For I saw," it says, "the Spirit descending like a dove, and abidingupon Him." Discern here, if you can, which is the more powerful, which greater, which more to behonoured? He who descended, or He to whom the descent was made? He who brought down the honour, or Heto whom the honour was brought? Where do you find in this passage that the Spirit made His flesh atemple? or wherein does it lessen the honour of God, if God Himself descended to show God to mankind?For certainly we ought not to think that He is less whose high estate was pointed out, than He whopointed out His high estate. But away with the thought of believing or making any separation in theGodhead: for one and the same Godhead and equal power shut out altogether the wicked notion ofinequality. And so in this matter, where there is the Person of the Father and of the Son and of theHoly Ghost, and where it is the Son of God to whom the descent is made, the Spirit who descends, theFather who gives His witness, no one had more honour, and no one received any slight, but it allredounds equally to the fulness of the Godhead, for each Person of the Trinity contains withinHimself the glory of the whole Trinity. And so nothing further needs to be said, except only to showthe rise and origin of your blasphemy. For thorns and thistles springing up from the roots produceshoots of their own nature, and from their character show their origin. So then you also, a thornyoffshoot of the Pelagian heresy, show in germ just the same that your father is said to have had inthe root. For he(59) (as Leporius his followersaid) declared that our Lord was made the Christ by His baptism: you say that at His baptism He wasmade the temple of God by the Spirit. The words are not altogether identical: but thewrong-headedness is altogether the same.
That the raising up of Christ into heaven is not to be ascribedto the Spirit alone.
But you add this also to those impieties of yours mentioned above; viz., that the Spiritgranted to the Lord His ascension into heaven: showing by this blasphemous notionof yours that youbelieve that the Lord Jesus Christ was so weak and powerless that had not the Spirit raised Him up toheaven, you fancy that He would still at this day have been on earth. But to prove this assertion youbring forward a passage of Scripture: for you say "Giving commands to the apostleswhom He had chosen,by the Holy Ghost He was raised up."(60) Whatam I to call you? What am I to think of you who by corrupting the sacred writings contrive that theirevidences should not have the force of evidences? A new kind of audacity, which strives by itsimpious arguments to manage that truth may seem to confirm falsehood. For the Acts of the Apostlesdoes not say what you make out. For what says the Scripture? "What Jesus began to do and to teachuntil the day in which giving charge to the apostles whom He had chosen by the Holy Ghost, He wastaken up." Which is an instance of Hyperbaton, and must be understood in this way: what Jesus beganto do and to teach until the day in which he was taken up, giving charge to the apostles whom He hadchosen by the Holy Ghost; so that we ought not perhaps to have to give you any further answer in thismatter than that of the passage itself, for the entire passage ought to be sufficient for the fulltruth, if the mutilation of it was available for your falsehood. But still, you, who think that ourLord Jesus Christ could not have ascended into heaven, unless He had been raised up by the Spirit;tell me how is it that He Himself says "No one hath ascended into heaven but He who came down fromheaven, even the Son of man who is in heaven"?(61) Confess then how foolish and absurd your notionis that He could not ascend into heaven, who is said, although He had descended into earth, never tohave been absent from heaven: and say whether to leave the regions below and ascend into heaven waspossible for Him to whom it was easy when still on earth, ever to continue in heaven. But what isthat which He Himself says: "I ascend unto my Father."(62) Did He imply that in this ascension there wouldbe the intervention of Another's help, who by the very fact that He said He would ascend, shows theefficacy of His own power? David also says of the Ascension of the Lord: "God ascended with a merrynoise, the Lord with the sound of the trumpet:"(63) He clearly explained the glory of Him who ascendsby the power of the ascension.
Hecontinues the same argument to show that Christ had no need of another's glory as He had aglory of His own.
But to end let us see the addition with which you sum up your preceding blasphemies. Yourwords are, "Who gave such(64) glory toChrist?" You name glory in order to degrade Him. For by the assertion that the Lord was endowed withglory, in saying that He received it you blasphemously imply that He stood in need of it. For yourperverse notion suggests that the generosity of the giver shows the need of the receiver. O miserableimpiety of yours! and where is that which Divinity itself once foretold of the Lord Jesus Christascending into heaven? Saying: "Lift up your heads, and the King of glory shall come in."(65) And when He (after the fashion of Divineutterances) had made answer to Himself as if in the character of an inquirer: "Who is the King ofglory?" at once He adds: "The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle:" showing under thefigure of a battle fought, the victory of the Lord in His triumph. Then when, to complete theexposition of it, He had repeated the words of the utterance quoted above, He showed by the followingconclusion the majesty of the Lord as He entered heaven, saying "The Lord of hosts, He is the King ofglory." On purpose that the fact of His taking a body might not interfere with the glory of Hismighty Divinity, He taught that the same Person was Lord of hosts and King of heavenly glory, whom Hehad previously proclaimed Victor in the battle below. Go now(66) and say that the glory was given to the Lord,when both prophecy has said that He was the King of glory, and He Himself also has testified ofHimself as follows: "When the Son of man shall come in His glory."(67) Refute it, if you can, and contradict this; viz.,that whereas He testifies that He has glory of His own, you say that He has received Another's.Although we maintain that He has His own glory, in such a way that we do not deny that His veryproperty of glory is common to Him with the Father and the Holy Ghost. For whatever God possessesbelongs to the Godhead: and the kingdom of glory belongs to the Son of God in such a way that it isnot kept back from belonging to the entire Godhead.
He supports this doctrine by the authority of the blessedHilary.
But it is quite time to finish the book, aye and the whole work, if I may however add thesayings of a few saintly men and illustrious priests, to support by the faith of the present day whatwe have already proved by the authority of holy Scripture. Hilary, a man endowed with all virtues andgraces, and famous for his life as well as for his eloquence, who also, as a teacher of the churchesand a priest, advanced not only by his own merits but also by the progress of others, and remained sosteadfast during the storms of persecution that through the fortitude of his unconquered faith heattained the dignity of being a Confessor,(68)- he testifies in the First book on the faiththat the Lord Jesus Christ, Very God of Very God, wasboth begotten before the world, and afterwards born as man. Again in the Second book: "One onlyBegotten God grew in the womb of the holy Virgin into the form of a human body; He who contains allthings, and in whose power all things are, is brought forth according to the law of human birth."Again in the same book: "An angel is witness that He who is born is God with us." Again in the Tenthbook: "We have taught the mystery of God born as man by the birth from the Virgin." Again in the samebook: "For when God was born as man, He was not born on purpose not to remain God."(69) Again in the same writer's preface to hisexposition of the gospel according to Matthew:(70) "For to begin with it was needful for us that forour sakes the only Begotten God should be known to be born as man." Again in what follows: "thatbesides being God, He should be born as man, which He was not yet." Again in the same place: "Thenthis third matter was fitting: that as God was born as man in the world" etc.: Here are a fewpassages out of any number. But still you see even from these which we have quoted, how clearly andplainly he asserts that God was born of Mary. And where then is this saying of yours: "The creaturecould not bring forth the Creator: and that which is born of the flesh, is flesh." It would take toolong to quote passages bearing on this point from each separate writer. I must try to enumerate themrather than to explain them: for they will sufficiently explain themselves.
He shows that Ambrose agrees with S. Hilary.
Ambrose, that illustrious priest of God, who never leaving the Lord's hand, ever shone like ajewel upon the finger of God, thus speaks in his book to the Virgins: "My brother is white andruddy.(71) White because He is the glory ofthe Father: ruddy because He was born of the Virgin. But remember that in Him the tokens of Divinityare of longer standing than the mysteries of the body. For He did not begin to exist from the Virgin,but He who was already in existence, came into the Virgin."(72) Again on Christmas Day: "See the miracle of themother of the Lord: A Virgin conceived, a Virgin brought forth. She was a Virgin when she conceived,a Virgin when with child, a Virgin after the birth. As is said in Ezekiel: "And the gate was shut andnot opened, because the Lord passed through it."(73) A splendid Virginity, and wondrous fruitfulness!The Lord of the world is born: and there are no cries from her who brought Him forth. The womb isleft empty, and a true child is born, and yet the Virginity is not destroyed. It was right that whenGod was born the power of chastity should become greater, and that her purity should not be violatedby the going forth of Him who had come to heal what was corrupt."(74) Again in his exposition of the gospel accordingto Luke he says that "one was especially chosen, to bring forth God, who was espoused to anhusband."(75) He certainly declares that Godwas born of the Virgin. He calls Mary the mother of God. And where is that awful and execrableutterance of yours asking how can she be the mother of one of a different nature from her own. But ifshe is called mother by them, it is the human nature which was born not the Godhead. So, thatillustrious teacher of the faith says both that she who bare Him was human, and that He who was bornis God: and yet that this is no reason for unbelief, but only a miracle of faith.
He adds to the foregoing the testimony of S. Jerome.
Jerome, the Teacher of the Catholics, whose writings shine like divine lamps throughout thewhole world, says in his book to Eustochium: "The Son of God for our salvation was made the Son ofman. He waits ten months in the womb to be born: and He, in whose hand the world is held, iscontained in a narrow manger."(76) Again inhis commentary on Isaiah: "For the Lord of hosts, who is the King of glory, Himself descended intothe Virgin's womb, and entered in and went forth from the East Gate which is ever shut."(77) Of whom Gabriel says to the Virgin: "The HolyGhost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. Wherefore that holything which shall be born of thee shall be called the Son of God." And in Proverbs: "Wisdom hathbuilded herself an house."(78) Compare this ifyou please with your doctrine or rather your blasphemy, in which you assert that God is the Creatorof the months, and was not an offspring of months. For lo, Jerome, a man of the greatest knowledgeand also of the most pure and approved doctrine testifies almost in the very words in which you denythat the Son of God was an offspring of months, that He was an offspring of months. For he says thatHe waits ten months in the womb to be born. But perhaps the authority of this man seems a merenothing to you. You may take it that every one says the same and in the same words, for whoever doesnot deny that the Son of God is the offspring of the Virgin, admits that He is the offspring ofmonths.
To the foregoing he adds Rufinus and the blessed Augustine.
Rufinus also, a Christian philosopher, with no mean place among Ecclesiastical Doctorstestifies as follows of the Lord's Nativity in his Exposition of the Creed. "For the Son of God," hesays, "is born of a Virgin, not chiefly allied to the flesh alone, but generated in the soul which isthe medium between the flesh and God."(79)Does he witness obscurely that God was born of man? Augustine the priest(80) of Hippo Regiensis says: "That men might be bornof God, God was first born of them: for Christ is God. And Christ when born of men only required amother on earth, because He always had a Father in heaven, being born of God through whom we aremade, and also born of a woman, through whom we might be re-created."(81) Again, in this place: "And the Word was madeflesh and dwelt among us. Why then need you wonder that men are born of God? Notice how God Himselfwas born of men." Again in his Epistle to Volusianus: "But Moses himself and the rest of the prophetsmost truly prophesied of Christ the Lord, and gave Him great glory: they declared that He would comenot as one like themselves, nor merely greater in the same sort of power of working miracles, butclearly as the Lord God of all, and as made man for men. Who therefore Himself also willed to do suchthings as they did to prevent the absurdity of His not doing Himself those things which He didthrough them. But still it was right also for Him to do something special; viz., to be born of aVirgin, to rise from the dead, to ascend into heaven. And if anyone thinks that this is too littlefor God, I know not what more he can look for.(82)
As he is going to produce the testimony of Greek or Eastern Bishops, he brings forward in thefirst place S. Gregory Nazianzen.
But perhaps because those whom we have enumerated came from different parts of the world,their authority may seem to you less valuable. An absurd thing, indeed, because faith is notinterfered with by place, and we have to consider what a man is, not where: especiallysince religion unites all together, and those who are in the one faith may be also known to be in theone body. But still we will bring forward for you some, whom you cannot despise, even from the East.Gregory, that most grand light of knowledge and doctrine, who though he has been for some time dead,yet still lives in authority and faith, and though he has been for some time removed in the body fromthe Churches, yet has not forsaken them in word and authority. "When then," he says, "God had comeforth from the Virgin, in that human nature which He had taken, as He existed in one out of two whichare the opposite of each other; viz., flesh and spirit, the one is taken into God, the other exaltsinto the grace of Deity.(83) O new and unheardof intermingling! O marvellous and exquisite union! He who was, came to be, and the Creator iscreated: and He who is infinite is embraced by the soul which is the medium between God and theflesh: and He who makes all rich, is made poor." Again he says of the Epiphany: "But what happens?What is done concerning us and for us? There is brought about some new and unheard of change ofnatures and God is made man." Again in this passage:(84) "The Son of God began to be also the Son of man,not being changed from what He was, for He is unchangeable, but taking to Himself what He was not:for He is pitiful so that He, who could not be embraced, can now be embraced." You see how grandlyand nobly he asserts the majesty of His Godhead so that He may bring in the condescension of theIncarnation: for that admirable teacher of the faith knew well that of all the blessings which Godgranted to us at His coming into the world this was the chief, without diminishing in any way Hisglory. For whatever God gave to man, ought to increase the love of Him in us, and not to lessen thehonour which we give to Him.
In the next place he puts the authority of S. Athanasius.
Athanasius also, priest of the city of Alexandria, a splendid instance of constancy andvirtue, whom the storm of heretical persecution tested without crushing him: whose life was alwayslike a clear glass, and who had almost obtained the reward of martyrdom before attaining the dignityof confessorship: Let us see what was his view of the Lord Jesus Christ and the mother of the Lord."This then," he says, "is the mind and stamp of Holy Scripture, as we have often said; viz., that inone and the same Saviour two things have to be understood: (1) that He was ever God, and is Son,Word, and Light, and Wisdom of the Father, and (2) that afterwards for our sakes He took flesh of theVirgin Mary the Theotocos, and was made man."(85) Again after some other matter: "Many then weresaints and clean from sin: Jeremiah also was sanctified from the womb, and John, while still in thewomb leapt for joy at the voice of Mary the Theotocos."(86) He certainly says that God, the Son of God, who(to declare the faith of all in his words) is "the Word, and Light and Wisdom of the Father," tookflesh for our sakes; and therefore he calls the Virgin Mary Theotocos, because she was the Mother ofGod.
He adds also S. John Chrysostom.
As for John the glory of the Episcopate of Constantinople, whose holy life obtained thereward of martyrdom without any show of Gentile persecution, hear what he thought and taught on theIncarnation of the Son of God: "And Him," he says, "whom if He had come in unveiled Deity neither theheaven nor the earth nor the sea nor any other creature could have contained, the pure womb of aVirgin bore."(87) This man's faith anddoctrine then, even if you ignore that of others, you ought to follow and hold, as out of love andaffection for him the pious people chose you as their Bishop. For when it took you for its priestfrom the Church of Antioch, from which it had formerly chosen him, it believed that it would receivein you all that it had lost in him.(88) Didnot, I ask you, all these almost with prophetic spirit say all these things in order to confound yourblasphemies. For you declare that our Lord and Saviour Christ is not God: they declare that Christthe Lord is Very God. You blasphemously assert that Mary is Christotocos not Theotocos: they do notdeny that she is Christotocos, while they acknowledge her as Theotocos. Not merely the substance butthe words also are opposed to your blasphemies: that we may clearly see that an impregnable bulwarkwas formerly prepared by God against your blasphemies, to break on the wall of truth ready prepared,the force of the heretical attack which was at some time or other to come. And you, O you most wickedand shameless contaminator of an illustrious city, you disastrous and deadly plague of a Catholic andholy people, do you, dare to stand and teach in the Church of God, and with your wild and blasphemouswords slander the priests of an ever unbroken faith and Catholic confession, and say that the peopleof the city of Constantinople are in error through the fault of their earlier teachers? Are you thenthe corrector of former Bishops, the accuser of ancient priests, are you better than Gregory, moreapproved than Nectarius, greater than John,(89) and all the other Bishops of Eastern cities who,though not of the same renown as those whom I have enumerated, were yet of the same faith? which, asfar as the matter in hind is concerned, is enough:for when it is a question of the faith, all are asgood as the best in so far as they agree with the best.
He bemoans the unhappy lot of Constantinople, owing to the misfortune which has overtaken itfrom that heretic; and at the same time he urges the citizens to stand fast in the ancient Catholicand ancestral faith.
Wherefore I also, humble and insignificant as I am in name as in desert, and although Icannot claim a place as Teacher among those illustrious Bishops of Constantinople, yet venture toclaim the zeal and enthusiasm of a disciple. For I was admitted into the sacred ministry by theBishop John, of blessed memory, and offered to God, and even though I am absent in body yet I amstill there in heart: and though by actual presence I no longer mix with that most dear andhonourable people of God, yet I am still joined to them in spirit. And hence it comes that condolingand sympathizing with them, I broke out just now into the utterance of our common grief and sorrow,and in my weakness cried out (which was all that I could do) by means of the dolorous lamentation ofmy works, as if for my own limbs and members: for if as the Apostle says, when the smaller part ofthe body is grieved, the greater part grieves and sympathizes with it, how much more should thesmaller part sympathize when the greater part is grieved? It is indeed utterly inhuman for thesmaller parts not to feel the sufferings of the greater in one and the same body, if the greater feelthose of the smaller. Wherefore I pray and beseech you, you who live within the circuit ofConstantinople, and who are my fellow-citizens through the love of my country, and my brothersthrough the unity of the faith; separate yourselves from that ravening wolf who (as it is written)devours the people of God, as if they were bread. Touch not, taste not anything of his, for all thosethings lead to death. Come out from the midst of him and be ye separate and touch not the uncleanthing. Remember your ancient teachers, and your priests; Gregory whose fame was spread through theworld, Nectarius renowned for holiness, John a marvel of faith and purity. John, I say; that John wholike John the Evangelist was indeed a disciple of Jesus and an Apostle; and so to speak ever reclinedon the breast and heart of the Lord. Remember him, I say. Follow him. Think of his purity, his faith,his doctrine, and holiness. Remem- ber him ever as your teacher and nurse, in whose bosom andembraces you as it were grew up. Who was the teacher in common both of you and of me: whose disciplesand pupils we are. Read his writings. Hold fast his instruction. Embrace his faith and merits. Forthough to attain this is a hard and magnificent thing: yet even to follow is beautiful and sublime.For in the highest matters, not merely the attainment, but even the attempt to copy is worthy ofpraise. For scarcely anyone entirely misses all parts in that to which he is trying to climb andreach. He then should ever be in your minds and almost in your sight: he should live in your heartsand in your thoughts. He would himself commend to you this that I have written, for it was he whotaught me what I have written: and so do not think of this as mine, so much as his: for the streamcomes from the spring, and whatever you think belongs to the disciple, ought all to be referred tothe honour of the master. But, beyond and above all I pray with all my heart and voice, to Thee, OGod the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, that Thou wouldest fill with the gift of Thy love whateverwe have written by Thy bounteous grace. And because, as the Lord our God Thine Only Begotten SonHimself taught us, Thou hast so loved this world as to send Thine Only Begotten Son to save theworld, grant to Thy people whom Thou hast redeemed that in the Incarnation of Thine Only Begotten Sonthey may perceive both Thy gift and His love: and that all may understand the truth that for us ThineOnly Begotten, our Lord God, was born and suffered and rose again, and may so love it that thecondescension of His glory may increase our love: and let not His Humility lead to a diminution ofHis honour in the hearts of all men, but let it ever produce an increase of love: and may we allrightly and wisely comprehend the blessings of His Sacred Compassion, so as to see that we owe themore to God, in proportion as for our sakes God humbled Himself yet lower.parparpar