Book IX. After a summary (§ 1) of the results already obtained, Hilary returns, in § 2, to certain of the Arian proof-texts, and warns his readers that their life depends on the recognition in Christ of true God and true man, for it is this twofold nature which makes Him the Mediator (§ 3). Universal analogy and our consciousness of the capacity to rise to the life in God convince us of these two natures in Him, Who makes this rise possible (§ 4). But heresy lays hold of words spoken by Christ Incarnate, appropriate to His humility as Man, and assigns them to Him in His previous state; thus they make Him deny His true Godhead. But His utterances before the Incarnation, during His life on earth, and after His return to glory, must be carefully distinguished (§§ 5, 6). Hilary now examines the aims and achievements of Christ Incarnate, and shows that His work for men was a Divine work, accomplished by Him for us only because He was throughout both God and Man, the two natures in Him being inseparable (§§ 7-14). After reaching this conclusion from a general survey of Christ's life on earth, he examines in the light of it the Arian arguments from isolated words. They assert that Christ refused to be called Good or Master. He refused neither title, and yet declared that both belong to God only (§§ 15-18). And, indeed, He could not have associated Himself more closely than He did with the Father, while yet He kept His Person distinct (§ 19). The Father Himself bears witness to the Son; and the sin and loss of the Jews is this, that, seeing the Father's works done by Christ, they did not see in Him the Son (§§ 20, 21). The honour and glory of Christ is inseparable from that of God (§§ 22, 23). The Scribe did well to confess the Divine unity, but was still outside the Kingdom because He did not believe in Christ as God (§§ 24-27). Next, the Arian argument from the words, This is life eternal, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ Whom You have sent, is refuted by comparison with cognate passages (§§ 28-35). For, indeed, if the Father be the only true God, the Son must also be the only true God (§ 36). That Divine nature which is common to Father and Son is subject to no limitations, and the eternal generation can be illustrated by no analogy of created things (§ 37). Christ took humanity, and, since the Father's nature did not share in this, the unity was so far impaired. But humanity has been raised in Christ to God; and this could only be because His unity in the Divine nature with the Father was perfect. Otherwise the flesh which Christ took could not have entered into the Divine glory (§ 38). There is but one glory of Father and of Son; the Son sought in the Incarnation not glory for the Word but for the flesh (§§ 39, 40). The glory of Father and Son is one; in that unity the Son bestows, as well as receives, glory (§§ 41, 42), and this glory, common to Both, is evidence that the Divine nature also is common to Both (§ 42). Again, the Arians allege the words, The Son can do nothing of Himself, which Hilary shows, by an examination of the context, to be a support of the Catholic cause (§§ 43-46). The Son does the Father's work, not under compulsion as an inferior, but because They are One. His will is free, yet in perfect harmony with that of the Father, because of their unity of nature (§§ 47-50). The Arians also appeal to the text, The Father is greater than I. The Father is, in fact, greater, first as being the Unbegotten, and secondly inasmuch as the Son has condescended to the state of man, yet without forfeiting His Godhead (§ 51). But He is not greater in nature than the Son, Who is His Image; or rather, the Begetter is the greater, while the Son, as the Begotten, is not less than He, for, although begotten, He had no beginning of existence (§§ 52-57). Next, the allegation of ignorance, based on St. Mark xiii. 32, and therefore of difference in nature from God Omniscient is refuted (§§ 58-62), both by express statements of Scripture and by a consideration of the Divine character. It is only in figurative senses that God is stated in the Old Testament sometimes to come to know, sometimes to be ignorant of, particular facts (§§ 63, 64). And so it is with Christ; His ignorance is but a wise and merciful concealment of knowledge (§§ 65-67). Yet the Arians, though they admit that Christ, being superior to man, knows all the secrets of humanity, assert that He cannot penetrate the mysteries of God (§ 68). But Christ expressly declares that He can and does, for Each is in the Other and is mirrored in the Other (§ 69). The ignorance can be nothing but concealment. Only the Father knows, i.e. He has told none but the Son; the Son does not know, i.e. He wills not to reveal His knowledge (§§ 70, 71). God is unlimited; unlimited therefore in knowledge. The nature of Father and Son being one, it is impossible that the Son should be ignorant of what the Father knows. As in will, so in knowledge, They are One (§§ 72-74). And the Apostles, by repeating their question after the Resurrection, show that they were aware that His ignorance meant reserve. And Christ did not, this time, speak of ignorance, though He withheld the knowledge which they asked (§ 75).
1. In the last book we treated of the indistinguishable nature of God the Father and God the Son, and demonstrated that the words, I and the Father are One John 10:30, go to prove not a solitary God, but a unity of the Godhead unbroken by the birth of the Son: for God can be born only of God, and He that is born God of God must be all that God is. We reviewed, although not exhaustively, yet enough to make our meaning clear, the sayings of our Lord and the Apostles, which teach the inseparable nature and power of the Father and the Son; and we came to the passage in the teaching of the Apostle, where he says, Take heed lest there shall be any one that leads you astray through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ; for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Colossians 2:8-9 We pointed out that here the words, in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, prove Him true and perfect God of His Father's nature, neither severing Him from, nor identifying Him with, the Father. On the one hand we are taught that, since the incorporeal God dwelt in Him bodily, the Son as God begotten of God is in natural unity with the Father: and on the other hand, if God dwelt in Christ, this proves the birth of the personal Christ in Whom He dwelt. We have thus, it seems to me, more than answered the irreverence of those who refer to a unity or agreement of will such words of the Lord as, He that has seen Me has seen the Father John 14:9, or, The Father is in Me and I in the Father , or, I and the Father are One , or, All things whatsoever the Father has are Mine. Not daring to deny the words themselves, these false teachers, in the mask of religion, corrupt the sense of the words. For instance, it is true that where the unity of nature is proclaimed the agreement of will cannot be denied; but in order to set aside that unity which follows from the birth, they profess merely a relationship of mutual harmony. But the blessed Apostle, after many indubitable statements of the real truth, cuts short their rash and profane assertions, by saying, in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, for by the bodily indwelling of the incorporeal God in Christ is taught the strict unity of Their nature. It is, therefore, not a matter of words, but a real truth that the Son was not alone, but the Father abode in Him: and not only abode, but also worked and spoke: not only worked and spoke, but also manifested Himself in Him. Through the Mystery of the birth the Son's power is the power of the Father, His authority the Father's authority, His nature the Father's nature. By His birth the Son possesses the nature of the Father: as the Father's image, He reproduces from the Father all that is in the Father, because He is the reality as well as the image of the Father, for a perfect birth produces a perfect image, and the fullness of the Godhead dwelling bodily in Him indicates the truth of His nature.
2. All this is indeed as it is: He, Who is by nature God of God, must possess the nature of His origin, which God possesses, and the indistinguishable unity of a living nature cannot be divided by the birth of a living nature. Yet nevertheless the heretics, under cover of the saving confession of the Gospel faith, are stealing on to the subversion of the truth: for by forcing their own interpretations on words uttered with other meanings and intentions, they are robbing the Son of His natural unity. Thus to deny the Son of God, they quote the authority of His own words, Why do you call Me good? None is good, save one, God. These words, they say, proclaim the Oneness of God: anything else, therefore, which shares the name of God, cannot possess the nature of God, for God is One. And from His words, This is life eternal, that they should know You the only true God John 17:3, they attempt to establish the theory that Christ is called God by a mere title, not as being very God. Further, to exclude Him from the proper nature of the true God, they quote, The Son can do nothing of Himself except that which He has seen the Father do. John 5:19 They use also the text, The Father is greater than I. Finally, when they repeat the words, Of that day and that hour knows no one, neither the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only , as though they were the absolute renunciation of His claim to divinity, they boast that they have overthrown the faith of the Church. The birth, they say, cannot raise to equality the nature which the limitation of ignorance degrades. The Father's omniscience and the Son's ignorance reveal unlikeness in the Divinity, for God must be ignorant of nothing, and the ignorant cannot be compared with the omniscient. All these passages they neither understand rationally, nor distinguish as to their occasions, nor apprehend in the light of the Gospel mysteries, nor realize in the strict meaning of the words and so they impugn the divine nature of Christ with crude and insensate rashness, quoting single detached utterances to catch the ears of the unwary, and keeping back either the sequel which explains or the incidents which prompted them, though the meaning of words must be sought in the context before or after them.
3. We will offer later an explanation of these texts in the words of the Gospels and Epistles themselves. But first we hold it right to remind the members of our common faith, that the knowledge of the Eternal is presented in the same confession which gives eternal life. He does not, he cannot know his own life, who is ignorant that Christ Jesus was very God, as He was very man. It is equally perilous, whether we deny that Christ Jesus was God the Spirit, or that He was flesh of our body: Every one therefore who shall confess Me before men, him will I also confess before My Father which is in Heaven. But whosoever shall deny Me before men, him will I also deny before My Father which is in heaven. Matthew 10:32-33 So said the Word made flesh; so taught the man Jesus Christ, the Lord of majesty, constituted Mediator in His own person for the salvation of the Church, and being in that very mystery of Mediatorship between men and God, Himself one Person, both man and God. For He, being of two natures united for that Mediatorship, is the full reality of each nature; while abiding in each, He is wanting in neither; He does not cease to be God because He becomes man, nor fail to be man because He remains for ever God. This is the true faith for human blessedness, to preach at once the Godhead and the manhood, to confess the Word and the flesh, neither forgetting the God, because He is man, nor ignoring the flesh, because He is the Word.
4. It is contrary to our experience of nature, that He should be born man and still remain God; but it accords with the tenor of our expectation, that being born man, He still remained God, for when the higher nature is born into the lower, it is credible that the lower should also be born into the higher. And, indeed, according to the laws and habits of nature, the working of our expectation even anticipates the divine mystery. For in every thing that is born, nature has the capacity for increase, but has no power of decrease. Look at the trees, the crops, the cattle. Regard man himself, the possessor of reason. He always expands by growth, he does not contract by decrease; nor does he ever lose the self into which he has grown. He wastes indeed with age, or is cut off by death; he undergoes change by lapse of time, or reaches the end allotted to the constitution of life, yet it is not in his power to cease to be what he is; I mean that he cannot make a new self by decrease from his old self, that is, become a child again from an old man. So the necessity of perpetual increase, which is imposed on our nature by natural law, leads us on good grounds to expect its promotion into a higher nature, since its increase is according to, and its decrease contrary to, nature. It was God alone Who could become something other than before, and yet not cease to be what He had ever been; Who could shrink within the limits of womb, cradle, and infancy, yet not depart from the power of God. This is a mystery, not for Himself, but for us. The assumption of our nature was no advancement for God, but His willingness to lower Himself is our promotion, for He did not resign His divinity but conferred divinity on man.
5. The Only-begotten God, therefore, when He was born man of the Virgin, and in the fullness of time was about in His own person to raise humanity to divinity, always maintained this form of the Gospel teaching. He taught, namely, to believe Him the Son of God, and exhorted to preach Him the Son of Man; man saying and doing all that belongs to God; God saying and doing all that belongs to man. Yet never did He speak without signifying by the twofold aspect of these very utterances both His manhood and His divinity. Though He proclaimed one God the Father, He declared Himself to be in the nature of the one God, by the truth of His generation. Yet in His office as Son and His condition as man, He subjected Himself to God the Father, since everything that is born must refer itself back to its author, and all flesh must confess itself weak before God. Here, accordingly, the heretics find opportunity to deceive the simple and ignorant. These words, uttered in His human character, they falsely refer to the weakness of His divine nature; and because He was one and the same Person in all His utterances, they claim that He spoke always of His entire self.
6. We do not deny that all the sayings which are preserved of His, refer to His nature. But, if Jesus Christ be man and God, neither God for the first time, when He became man, nor then ceasing to be God, nor after He became Man in God less than perfect man and perfect God, then the mystery of His words must be one and the same with that of His nature. When according to the time indicated, we disconnect His divinity from humanity, then let us also disconnect His language as God from the language of man; when we confess Him God and man at the same time, let us distinguish at the same time His words as God and His words as man; when after His manhood and Godhead, we recognise again the time when His whole manhood is wholly God, let us refer to that time all that is revealed concerning it. It is one thing, that He was God before He was man, another, that He was man and God, and another, that after being man and God, He was perfect man and perfect God. Do not then confuse the times and natures in the mystery of the dispensation, for according to the attributes of His different natures, He must speak of Himself in relation to the mystery of His humanity, in one way before His birth, in another while He was yet to die, and in another as eternal.
7. For our sake, therefore, Jesus Christ, retaining all these attributes, and being born man in our body, spoke after the fashion of our nature without concealing that divinity belonged to His own nature. In His birth, His passion, and His death, He passed through all the circumstances of our nature, but He bore them all by the power of His own. He was Himself the cause of His birth, He willed to suffer what He could not suffer, He died though He lives for ever. Yet God did all this not merely through man, for He was born of Himself, He suffered of His own free will, and died of Himself. He did it also as man, for He was really born, suffered and died. These were the mysteries of the secret counsels of heaven, determined before the world was made. The Only-begotten God was to become man of His own will, and man was to abide eternally in God. God was to suffer of His own will, that the malice of the devil, working in the weakness of human infirmity, might not confirm the law of sin in us, since God had assumed our weakness. God was to die of His own will, that no power, after that the immortal God had constrained Himself within the law of death, might raise up its head against Him, or put forth the natural strength which He had created in it. Thus God was born to take us into Himself, suffered to justify us, and died to avenge us; for our manhood abides for ever in Him, the weakness of our infirmity is united with His strength, and the spiritual powers of iniquity and wickedness are subdued in the triumph of our flesh, since God died through the flesh.
8. The Apostle, who knew this mystery, and had received the knowledge of the faith through the Lord Himself, was not unmindful, that neither the world, nor mankind, nor philosophy could contain Him, for he writes, Take heed, lest there shall be any one that leads you astray through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Jesus Christ, for in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and in Him you are made full, Who is the head of all principalities and powers. Colossians 2:8-10 After the announcement that in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, follows immediately the mystery of our assumption, in the words, in Him you are made full. As the fullness of the Godhead is in Him, so we are made full in Him. The Apostle says not merely you are made full, but, in Him you are made full; for all who are, or shall be, regenerated through the hope of faith to life eternal, abide even now in the body of Christ; and afterwards they shall be made full no longer in Him, but in themselves, at the time of which the Apostle says, Who shall fashion anew the body of our humiliation, that it may be conformed to the body of His glory. Philippians 3:21 Now, therefore, we are made full in Him, that is, by the assumption of His flesh, for in Him dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily. Nor has this our hope a light authority in Him. Our fullness in Him constitutes His headship and principality over all power, as it is written, That in His name every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things below, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord in the glory of God the Father. Jesus shall be confessed in the glory of God the Father, born in man, yet now no longer abiding in the infirmity of our body, but in the glory of God. Every tongue shall confess this. But though all things in heaven and earth shall bow the knee to Him, yet herein He is head of all principalities and powers, that to Him the whole universe shall bow the knee in submission, in Whom we are made full, Who through the fullness of the Godhead dwelling in Him bodily, shall be confessed in the glory of God the Father.
9. But after the announcement of the mystery of Christ's nature, and our assumption, that is, the fullness of Godhead abiding in Christ, and ourselves made full in Him by His birth as man, the Apostle continues the dispensation of human salvation in the words, In whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the stripping off of the body of the flesh, but with the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with Him in baptism, wherein you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. Colossians 2:11-12 We are circumcised not with a fleshly circumcision but with the circumcision of Christ, that is, we are born again into a new man; for, being buried with Him in His baptism, we must die to the old man, because the regeneration of baptism has the force of resurrection. The circumcision of Christ does not mean the putting off of foreskins, but to die entirely with Him, and by that death to live henceforth entirely to Him. For we rise again in Him through faith in God, Who raised Him from the dead; wherefore we must believe in God, by Whose Working Christ was raised from the dead, for our faith rises again in and with Christ.
10. Then is completed the entire mystery of the assumed manhood, And you being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you I say, did He quicken together with Him, having forgiven you all your trespasses, blotting out the bond written in ordinances, that was against us, which was contrary to us; and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross, and having put off from Himself His flesh, He has made a show of powers, triumphing over them in Himself. The worldly man cannot receive the faith of the Apostle, nor can any language but that of the Apostle explain his meaning. God raised Christ from the dead; Christ in Whom the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily. But He quickened us also together with Him, forgiving us our sins, blotting out the bond of the law of sin, which through the ordinances made aforetime was against us, taking it out of the way, and fixing it to His cross, stripping Himself of His flesh by the law of death, holding up the powers to show, and triumphing over them in Himself. Concerning the powers and how He triumphed over them in Himself, and held them up to show, and the bond which he blotted out, and the life which He gave us, we have already spoken. But who can understand or express this mystery? The working of God raises Christ from the dead; the same working of God quickens us together with Christ, forgives our sins, blots out the bond, and fixes it to the cross; He puts off from Himself His flesh, holds up the powers to show, and triumphs over them in Himself. We have the working of God raising Christ from the dead, and we have Christ working in Himself the very things which God works in Him, for it was Christ who died, stripping from Himself His flesh. Hold fast then to Christ the man, raised from the dead by God, and hold fast to Christ the God, working out our salvation when He was yet to die. God works in Christ, but it is Christ Who strips from Himself His flesh and dies. It was Christ who died, and Christ Who worked with the power of God before His death, yet it was the working of God which raised the dead Christ, and it was none other who raised Christ from the dead but Christ Himself, Who worked before His death, and put off His flesh to die.
11. Do you understand already the Mysteries of the Apostle's Faith? Do you think to know Christ already? Tell me, then, Who is it Who strips from Himself His flesh, and what is that flesh stripped off? I see two thoughts expressed by the Apostle, the flesh stripped off, and Him Who strips it off: and then I hear of Christ raised from the dead by the working of God. If it is Christ Who is raised from the dead, and God Who raises Him; Who, pray, strips from Himself the flesh? Who raises Christ from the dead, and quickens us with Him? If the dead Christ be not the same as the flesh stripped off, tell me the name of the flesh stripped off, and expound me the nature of Him Who strips it off. I find that Christ the God, Who was raised from the dead, is the same as He Who stripped from Himself His flesh, and that flesh, the same as Christ Who was raised from the dead; then I see Him holding principalities and powers up to show, and triumphing in Himself. Do you understand this triumphing in Himself? Do you perceive that the flesh stripped off, and He Who strips it off, are not different from one another? He triumphs in Himself, that is in that flesh which He stripped from Himself. Do you see that thus are proclaimed His humanity and His divinity, that death is attributed to the man, and the quickening of the flesh to the God, though He Who dies and He Who raises the dead to life are not two, but one Person? The flesh stripped off is the dead Christ: He Who raises Christ from the dead is the same Christ Who stripped from Himself the flesh. See His divine nature in the power to raise again, and recognise in His death the dispensation of His manhood. And though either function is performed by its proper nature, yet remember that He Who died, and raised to life, was one, Christ Jesus.
12. I remember that the Apostle often refers to God the Father as raising Christ from the dead; but he is not inconsistent with himself or at variance with the Gospel faith, for the Lord Himself says:— Therefore does the Father love Me, because I lay down My life, that I may take it again. No one shall take it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This command have I received from the Father John 10:17-18: and again, when asked to show a sign concerning Himself, that they might believe in Him, He says of the Temple of His body, Destroy this Temple, and in three days I will raise it up. By the power to take His soul again and to raise the Temple up, He declares Himself God, and the Resurrection His own work: yet He refers all to the authority of His Father's command. This is not contrary to the meaning of the Apostle, when He proclaims Christ, the power of God and the wisdom of God 1 Corinthians 1:24, thus referring all the magnificence of His work to the glory of the Father: for whatever Christ does, the power and the wisdom of God does: and whatever the power and the wisdom of God does, without doubt God Himself does, Whose power and wisdom Christ is. So Christ was raised from the dead by the working of God; for He Himself worked the works of God the Father with a nature indistinguishable from God's. And our faith in the Resurrection rests on the God Who raised Christ from the dead.
13. It is this preaching of the double aspect of Christ's Person which the blessed Apostle emphasises. He points out in Christ His human infirmity, and His divine power and nature. Thus to the Corinthians he writes, For though He was crucified through weakness, yet He lives through the power of God 2 Corinthians 13:4, attributing His death to human infirmity, but His life to divine power: and again to the Romans, For the death, that He died unto sin, He died once: but the life, that He lives, He lives unto God. Even so reckon ye yourselves also to be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus Romans 6:10-11, ascribing His death to sin, that is, to our body, but His life to God, Whose nature it is to live. We ought, therefore, he says, to die to our body, that we may live to God in Christ Jesus, Who after the assumption of our body of sin, lives now wholly unto God, uniting the nature He shared with us with the participation of divine immortality.
14. I have been compelled to dwell briefly on this, lest we should forget our Lord Jesus Christ is being treated of as a Person of two natures, since He, Who was abiding in the form of God, took the form of a servant, in which He was obedient even unto death. The obedience of death has nothing to do with the form of God, just as the form of God is not inherent in the form of a servant. Yet through the Mystery of the Gospel Dispensation the same Person is in the form of a servant and in the form of God, though it is not the same thing to take the form of a servant and to be abiding in the form of God; nor could He Who was abiding in the form of God, take the form of a servant without emptying Himself, since the combination of the two forms would be incongruous. Yet it was not another and a different Person Who emptied Himself and Who took the form of a servant. To take anything cannot be predicated of some one who is not, for he only can take who exists. The emptying of the form does not then imply the abolition of the nature: He emptied Himself, but did not lose His self: He took a new form, but remained what He was. Again, whether emptying or taking, He was the same Person: there is, therefore, a mystery, in that He emptied Himself, and took the form of a servant, but He does not come to an end, so as to cease to exist in emptying Himself, and to be non-existent when He took. The emptying availed to bring about the taking of the servant's form, but not to prevent Christ, Who was in the form of God, from continuing to be Christ, for it was in very deed Christ Who took the form of a servant. When He emptied Himself to become Christ the man, while continuing to be Christ the Spirit, the changing of His bodily fashion, and the assumption of another nature in His body, did not put an end to the nature of His eternal divinity, for He was one and the same Christ when He changed His fashion, and when He assumed our nature.
15. We have now expounded the Dispensation of the Mysteries, through which the heretics deceive certain of the unlearned into ascribing to infirmity in the divinity, what Christ said and did through His assumed human nature, and attributing to the form of God what is appropriate only to the form of the servant. Let us pass on, then, to answer their statements in detail. We can always safely distinguish the two kinds of utterances, since the only true faith lies in the confession of Jesus Christ as Word and flesh, that is, God and Man. The heretics consider it necessary to deny that our Lord Jesus Christ by virtue of His nature was divine, because He said, Why do you call Me good? None is good save one, God. Now a satisfactory answer must stand in direct relation to the matter of enquiry, for only in that case will it furnish a reply to the question put. At the outset, then, I would ask these misinterpreters,
Do you think that the Lord resented being called good? Would He rather have been called bad, as seems to be signified by the words, Why do you call Me good? I do not think any one is so unreasonable as to ascribe to Him a confession of wickedness, when it was He Who said, Come unto Me, all you that labour, and are heavy laden, and I will refresh you. Take My yoke upon you, and learn of Me: for I am meek and lowly of heart, and you shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light. He says He is meek and lowly: can we believe that He was angry because He was called good? The two propositions are inconsistent. He Who witnesses to His own goodness would not repudiate the name of Good. Plainly, then, He was not angry because He was called good: and if we cannot believe that He resented being called good, we must ask what was said of Him which He did resent.
16. Let us see, then, how the questioner styled Him, beside calling Him good. He said, Good Master, what good thing shall I do ? Adding to the title of
good that of master. If Christ then did not chide because He was called good, it must have been because He was called
good Master. Further the manner of His reproof shows that it was the disbelief of the questioner, rather than the name of master, or of good, which He resented. A youth, who provides himself upon the observance of the law, but did not know the end of the law Romans 10:4, which is Christ, who thought himself justified by works, without perceiving that Christ came to the lost sheep of the house of Israel , and to those who believe that the law cannot save through the faith of justification , questioned the Lord of the law, the Only-begotten God, as though He were a teacher of the common precepts and the writings of the law. But the Lord, abhorring this declaration of irreverent unbelief, which addresses Him as a teacher of the law, answered, Why do you call Me good? and to show how we may know, and call Him good, He added, None is good, save one, God, not repudiating the name of good, if it be given to Him as God.
17. Then, as a proof that He resents the name
good master, on the ground of the unbelief, which addresses Him as a man, He replies to the vain-glorious youth, and his boast that he had fulfilled the law, One thing you lack, go, sell whatsoever you have, and give to the poor, and you shall have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me. There is no shrinking from the title of
good in the promise of heavenly treasures, no reluctance to be regarded as
master in the offer to lead the way to perfect blessedness. But there is reproof of the unbelief which draws an earthly opinion of Him from the teaching, that goodness belongs to God alone. To signify that He is both good and God, He exercises the functions of goodness, opening the heavenly treasures, and offering Himself as guide to them. All the homage offered to Him as man He repudiates, but he does not disown that which He paid to God; for at the moment when He confesses that the one God is good, His words and actions are those of the power and the goodness and the nature of the one God.
18. That He did not shrink from the title of good, or decline the office of master, but resented the unbelief which perceived no more in Him than body and flesh, may be proved from the difference of His language, when the apostles confessed Him their Master, You call Me Master, and Lord, and you say well, for so I am John 13:13; and on another occasion, Be not called masters, for Christ is your Master. Matthew 23:10 From the faithful, to whom He is master, He accepts the title with words of praise, but here He rejects the name
good master, when He is not acknowledged to be the Lord and the Christ, and pronounces the one God alone good, but without distinguishing Himself from God, for He calls Himself Lord, and Christ, and guide to the heavenly treasures.
19. The Lord always maintained this definition of the faith of the Church, which consists in teaching that there is one God the Father, but without separating Himself from the mystery of the one God, for He declared Himself, by the nature which is His by birth, neither a second God, nor the sole God. Since the nature of the One God is in Him, He cannot be God of a different kind from Him; His birth requires that, being Son, it should be with a perfect Sonship. So He can neither be separated from God nor merged in God. Hence He speaks in words deliberately chosen, so that whatever He claims for the Father, He signifies in modest language to be appropriate to Himself also. Take as an instance the command, Believe in God, and believe also in Me. John 14:1 He is identified with God in honour; how, pray, can He be separated from His nature? He says, Believe in Me also, just as He said Believe in God. Do not the words in Me signify His nature? Separate the two natures, but you must separate also the two beliefs. If it be life, that we should believe in God without Christ, strip Christ of the name and qualities of God. But if perfect life is given to those who believe in God, only when they believe in Christ also, let the careful reader ponder the meaning of the saying, Believe in God, and believe in Me also, for these words, uniting faith in Him with faith in God, unite His nature to God's. He enjoins first of all the duty of belief in God, but adds to it the command that we should believe in Himself also; which implies that He is God, since they who believe in God must also believe in Him. Yet He excludes the suggestion of a unity contrary to religion , for the exhortation Believe in God, believe in Me also, forbids us to think of Him as alone in solitude.
20. In many, nay almost all His discourses, He offers the explanation of this mystery, never separating Himself from the divine unity, when He confesses God the Father, and never characterising God as single and solitary, when He places Himself in unity with Him. But nowhere does He more plainly teach the mystery of His unity and His birth than when He says, But the witness which I have is greater than that of John, for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish, the very works that I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me, and the Father which sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. And you have not His word abiding in you, for Whom He sent, Him ye believe not. John 5:36-38 How can the Father be truly said to have borne witness of the Son, when neither He Himself was seen, nor His voice heard? Yet I remember that a voice was heard from Heaven, which said, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I have been well pleased; hear ye Him. How can it be said that they did not hear the voice of God, when the voice which they heard itself asserted that it was the Father's voice? But perhaps the dwellers in Jerusalem had not heard what John had heard in the solitude of the desert. We must ask, then,
How did the Father bear witness in Jerusalem? It is no longer the witness given to John, who heard the voice from heaven, but a witness greater than that of John. What that witness is He goes on to say, The works which the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works which I do, bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. We must admit the authority of the testimony, for no one, except the Son sent of the Father, could do such works. His works are therefore His testimony. But what follows? And the Father, which sent Me, He has borne witness of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form, and you have not His word abiding in you. Are they blameless, in that they did not know the testimony of the Father, Who was never heard or seen among them, and Whose word was not abiding in them? No, for they cannot plead that His testimony was hidden from them; as Christ says, the testimony of His works is the testimony of the Father concerning Him. His works testify of Him that He was sent of the Father; but the testimony of these works is the Father's testimony; since, therefore, the working of the Son is the Father's testimony, it follows of necessity that the same nature was operative in Christ, by which the Father testifies of Him. So Christ, Who works the works, and the Father Who testifies through them, are revealed as possessing one inseparable nature through the birth, for the operation of Christ is signified to be itself the testimony of God concerning Him.
21. They are not, therefore, acquitted of blame for not recognising the testimony; for the works of Christ are the Father's testimony concerning Him. Nor can they plead ignorance of the testimony on the ground that they had not heard the voice of the Testifier, nor seen His form, nor had His word abiding in them. For immediately after the words, You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form, and you have not His word abiding in you, He points out why the voice was not heard, nor the form seen, and the word did not abide in them, though the Father had testified concerning Him: For Whom He sent, Him ye believe not; that is, if they had believed Him, they would have heard the voice of God, and seen the form of God, and His word would have been in them, since through the unity of Their nature the Father is heard and manifested and possessed in the Son. Is He not also the expression of the Father, since He was sent from Him? Does He distinguish Himself by any difference of nature from the Father, when He says that the Father, testifying of Him, was neither heard, nor seen, nor understood, because they did not believe in Him, Whom the Father sent? The Only-begotten God does not, therefore, separate Himself from God when He confesses God the Father; but, proclaiming by the word
Father His relationship to God, He includes Himself in the honour due to God.
22. For, in this very same discourse in which He pronounces that His works testify of Him that He was sent of the Father, and asserts that the Father testifies of Him, that He was sent from Him, He says, The honour of Him, Who alone is God, you seek not. This is not, however, a bare statement, without any previous preparation for the belief in His unity with the Father. Hear what precedes it, You will not come to Me that you may have life. I receive not glory from men. But I know you, that you have not the love of God in yourselves. I have come in My Father's name, and you receive Me not: if another shall come in His name , him you will receive. How can you believe, which receive glory from men, and the glory of Him, Who alone is God, you seek not. John 5:40-44 He disdains the glory of men, for glory should rather be sought of God. It is the mark of unbelievers to receive glory of one another: for what glory can man give to man? He says He knows that the love of God is not in them, and pronounces, as the cause, that they do not receive Him coming in His Father's name.
Coming in His Father's name: what does that mean but
coming in the name of God? Is it not because they rejected Him Who came in the name of God, that the love of God is not in them? Is it not implied that He has the nature of God, when He says, You will not come to Me that you may have life. Hear what He said of Himself in the same discourse, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the hour comes, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and they that hear shall live. John 5:25 He comes in the name of the Father: that is, He is not Himself the Father, yet is in the same divine nature as the Father: for as Son and God it is natural for Him to come in the name of the Father. Then, another coming in the same name they will receive: but he is one from whom men will expect glory, and to whom they will give glory in return, though he will feign to have come in the name of the Father. By this, doubtless, is signified the Antichrist, glorying in his false use of the Father's name. Him they will glorify, and will be glorified of him: but the glory of Him, Who alone is God, they will not seek.
23. They have not the love of God in them, He says, because they rejected Him coming in the name of the Father, but accepted another, who came in the same name, and received glory of one another, but neglected the glory of Him, Who is the only true God. Is it possible to think that He separates Himself from the glory of the only God, when He gives as the reason why they seek not the glory of the only God, that they receive Antichrist, and Himself they will not receive? To reject Him is to neglect the glory of the only God; is not, then, His glory the glory of the only God, if to receive Him steadfastly was to seek the glory of the only God? This very discourse is our witness: for at its beginning we read, That all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father which sent Him. It is only things of the same nature that are equal in honour; equality of honour denotes that there is no separation between the honoured. But with the revelation of the birth is combined, the demand for equality of honour. Since the Son is to be honoured as the Father , and since they seek not the honour of Him, Who is the only God, He is not excluded from the honour of the only God, for His honour is one and the same as that of God: just as He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father also, so he who seeks not the honour of the only God, seeks not the honour of Christ also. Accordingly the honour of Christ is inseparable from the honour of God. By His words, when the news of Lazarus' sickness was brought to Him, He illustrates the complete identification of Father and Son in honour: This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of Man may be glorified through him. Lazarus dies for the glory of God, that the Son of God may be glorified through him. Is there any doubt that the glory of the Son of God is the glory of God, when the death of Lazarus, which is glorious to God, glorifies the Son of God? Thus Christ is declared to be one in nature with God the Father through His birth, since the sickness of Lazarus is for the glory of God, and at the same time the Mystery of the faith is not violated, for the Son of God is to be glorified through Lazarus. The Son of God is to be regarded as God, yet He is none the less to be confessed also Son of God: for by glorifying God through Lazarus, the Son of God is glorified.
24. By the mystery of the divine nature we are forbidden to separate the birth of the living Son from His living Father. The Son of God suffers no such change of kind, that the truth of His Father's nature does not abide in Him. For even where, by the confession of one God only, He seems to disclaim for Himself the nature of God by the term
only, nevertheless, without destroying the belief in one God, He places Himself in the unity of the Father's nature. Thus, when the Scribe asked Him, which is the chief commandment of the law, He answered, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord: you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your spirit, and with all your strength. This is the first commandment. And the second is like it, You shall love your neighbour as yourself. There is none other commandment greater than these. They think that He severs Himself from the nature and worship of the One God when He pronounces as the chief commandment, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, and does not even make Himself the object of worship in the second commandment, since the law bids us to love our neighbour, as it bids us to believe in one God. Nor must we pass over the answer of the Scribe, Of a truth you have well said, that God is one, and there is none other but He: and to love Him with all the heart, and all the strength and all the soul, and to love his neighbour as himself, this is greater than all whole burnt offerings and sacrifices. Mark 12:52, 33 The answer of the Scribe seems to accord with the words of the Lord, for He too proclaims the innermost and inmost love of one God, and professes the love of one's neighbour as real as the love of self, and places love of God and love of one's neighbour above all the burnt offerings of sacrifices. But let us see what follows.
25. And when Jesus saw that he answered discreetly, He said unto him, You are not far from the kingdom of God. What is the meaning of such moderate praise? Believe in one God, and love Him with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your heart, and love your neighbour as yourself; if this be the faith which makes man perfect for the Kingdom of God, why is not the Scribe already within, instead of not far from the Kingdom of Heaven? It is in another strain that He grants the Kingdom of Heaven to those who clothe the naked, feed the hungry, give drink to the thirsty, and visit the sick and the prisoner, Come, you blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world Matthew 25:34; or rewards the poor in spirit, Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven. Their gain is perfect, their possession complete, their inheritance of the kingdom prepared for them is secured. But was this young man's confession short of theirs? His ideal of duty raises love of neighbour to the level of love of self; what more did he want to attain to the perfection of good conduct? To be occasionally charitable, and ready to help, is not perfect love; but perfect love has fulfilled the whole duty of charity, when a man leaves no debt to his neighbour unpaid, but gives him as much as he gives himself. But the Scribe was debarred from perfection, because he did not know the mystery which had been accomplished. He received, indeed, the praise of the Lord for his profession of faith, he heard the reply that he was not far from the kingdom, but he was not put in actual possession of the blessed hope. His course, though ignorant, was favourable; he put the love of God before all things, and charity towards his neighbour on a level with love of self. And when he ranked the love of God even higher than charity towards his neighbour, he broke through the law of burnt offerings and sacrifices; and that was not far from the mystery of the Gospel.
26. We may perceive also, from the words of our Lord Himself, why He said, You are not far from the Kingdom of Heaven, rather than, You shall be in the Kingdom of Heaven. Then follows: And no man after that dared ask Him any question. And Jesus answered and said, as He taught in the Temple, How say the Scribes that the Christ is the Son of David? David himself says in the Holy Spirit, The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on My right hand, till I make Your enemies the footstool of Your feet Psalm 110:1. David himself calls Him Lord, and whence is He his Son Mark 12:34-37 ? The Scribe is not far from the Kingdom of God when he confesses one God, Who is to be loved above all things. But his own statement of the law is a reproach to him that the mystery of the law has escaped him, that he does not know Christ the Lord, the Son of God, by the nature of His birth to be included in the confession of the one God. The confession of one God according to the law seemed to leave no room for the Son of God in the mystery of the one Lord; so He asks the Scribe, how he can call Christ the Son of David, when David calls Him his Lord, since it is against the order of nature that the son of so great a Patriarch should be also his Lord. He would bid the Scribe, who regards Him only in respect of His flesh, and His birth from Mary, the daughter of David, to remember that, in respect of His Spirit, He is David's Lord rather than his son; that the words, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord, do not sever Christ from the mystery of the One Lord, since so great a Patriarch and Prophet calls Him his Lord, as the Son begotten of the Lord before the morning star. He does not pass over the law, or forget that none other is to be confessed Lord, but without violating the faith of the law, He teaches that He is Lord, in that He had His being by the mystery of a natural birth from the substance of the incorporeal God. He is one, born of one, and the nature of the one Lord has made Him by nature Lord.
27. What room is any longer left for doubt? The Lord Himself proclaiming that the chief commandment of the law is to confess and love the one Lord, proves Himself to be Lord not by words of His own, but by the Prophet's testimony, always signifying, however, that He is Lord, because He is the Son of God. By virtue of His birth He abides in the mystery of the one God, for the birth transmitting with it, as it did, the nature of God is not the issuing forth of another God with a different nature; and, because the generation is real, neither is the Father degraded from being Lord, nor is the Son born less than Lord. The Father retains His authority, the Son obtains His nature. God the Father is one Lord, but the Only-begotten God the Lord is not separated from the One, since He derives His nature as Lord from the one Lord. Thus by the law Christ teaches that there is one Lord; by the witness of the prophets He proves Himself Lord also.
28. May the faith of the Gospel ever profit thus by the rash contentions of the ungodly to defend itself with the weapons of their attack, and conquering with the arms prepared for its destruction, prove that the words of the one Spirit are the doctrine of the one faith! For Christ is none other than He is preached, namely the true God, and abiding in the glory of the one true God. Just as He proclaims Himself Lord out of the law, even when He seems to deny the fact, so in the Gospels He proves Himself the true God, even when He appears to confess the opposite. To escape the acknowledgment that He is the true God, the heretics plead that He said, And this is life eternal, that they should know You, the only true God. and Him Whom You sent, even Jesus Christ. John 17:3 When He says, You, the only true God, they think He excludes Himself from the reality of God by the restriction of solitariness; for the only true God cannot be understood except as a solitary God. It is true the Apostolic faith does not suffer us to believe in two true Gods, for nothing which is foreign to the nature of the one God can be put on equality with the truth of that nature; and there is more than one God in the reality of the one God, if there exists outside the nature of the only true God a true God of another kind, not possessing by virtue of His birth the same nature with Him.
29. But by these very words He proclaims Himself plainly to be true God in the nature of the only true God. To understand this, let our answer proceed from statements which He made previously, though the connection is unbroken right down to these words. We can then establish the faith step by step, and let the confidence of our freedom rest at last on the summit of our argument, the true Godhead of Christ. There comes first the mystery of His words, He that has seen Me, has seen the Father; and, Do ye not believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me? The words that I say unto you, I speak not from Myself; but the Father abiding in Me, Himself does His works. Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works' sake. John 14:9-11 At the close of this discourse, teeming with deep mysteries, follows the reply of the disciples, Now know we that You know all things, and needest not that any man should ask you: by this we believe that You came forth from God. They perceived in Him the nature of God by the divine powers which He exercised; for to know all things, and to read the thoughts of the heart belongs to the Son, not to the mere messenger of God. They confessed, therefore, that He had come from God, because the power of the divine nature was in Him.
30. The Lord praised their understanding, and answered not that He was sent from, but that He had come out from, God, signifying by the words
come out from the great fact of His birth from the incorporeal God. He had already proclaimed the birth in the same language, when He said, You love Me, and believe that I came out from the Father, and came from the Father into this world. He had come from the Father into this world, because He had come out from God. To show that He signifies His birth by the coming out, He adds that He has come from the Father; and since He had come out from God, because He had come from the Father, that
coming out, followed, as it is, by the confession of the Father's name, is simply and solely the birth. To the Apostles, then, as understanding this mystery of His coming out, He continues, You believe now, Behold the hour comes, yea has come, that you shall be scattered, every man to his own, and shall leave Me alone: yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. He would show that the
coming out is not a separation from God the Father, but a birth, which by His being born continues in Him the nature of God the Father, and therefore He adds that He is not alone, but the Father is with Him; in power, that is, and unity of nature, for the Father was abiding in Him, speaking in His words, and working in His works. Lastly to show the reason of this whole discourse, He adds, These things I have spoken to you, that in Me ye may have peace. In this world you shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer, for I have overcome the world. John 16:33 He has spoken these things unto them, that in Him they may abide in peace, not torn asunder by the passion of dissension over debates about the faith. He was left alone, but was not alone, for He had come out from God, and there abode still in Him the God, from Whom He had come out. Therefore he bade them, when they were harassed in the world, to wait for His promises, for since He had come out from God, and God was still in Him, He had conquered the world.
31. Then, finally, to express in words the whole Mystery, He raised His eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour has come: glorify Your Son, that Your Son may glorify You. Even as You gave Him authority over all flesh, that, whatsoever You have given Him, to them He should give eternal life. Do you call Him weak because He asks to be glorified? So be it, if He does not ask to be glorified in order that He may Himself glorify Him by Whom He is glorified. Of the receiving and giving of glory we have spoken in another book , and it would be superfluous to go over the question again. But of this at least we are certain, that He prays for glory in order that the Father may be glorified by granting it. But perhaps He is weak in that He receives power over all flesh. And indeed the receiving of power might be a sign of weakness if He were not able to give to those whom He receives life eternal. Yet the very fact of receiving is used to prove inferiority of nature. It might, if Christ were not true God by birth as truly as is the Unbegotten. But if the receiving of power signifies neither more nor less than the Birth, by which He received all that He has, that gift does not degrade the Begotten, because it makes Him perfectly and entirely what God is. God Unbegotten brought God Only-begotten to a perfect birth of divine blessedness: it is, then, the mystery of the Father to be the Author of the Birth, but it is no degradation to the Son to be made the perfect image of His Author by a real birth. The giving of power over all flesh, and this, in order that to all flesh might be given eternal life, postulates the Fatherhood of the Giver and the Divinity of the Receiver: for by giving is signified that the One is the Father, and in receiving the power to give eternal life, the Other remains God the Son. All power is therefore natural and congenital to the Son of God; and though it is given, that does not separate Him from His Author, for that which is given is the property of His Author, power to bestow eternal life, to change the corruptible into the incorruptible. The Father gave all, the Son received all; as is plain from His words, All things, whatsoever the Father has, are Mine. John 16:15 He is not speaking here of species of created things, and processes of material change , but He unfolds to us the glory of the blessed and perfect Divinity, and teaches us that God is here manifested as the sum of His attributes, His power, His eternity, His providence, His authority; not that we should think that He possesses these as something extraneous to Himself, but that by these His qualities He Himself has been expressed in terms partly comprehensible by our sense. The Only-begotten, therefore, taught that He had all that the Father has, and that the Holy Spirit should receive of Him: as He says, All things, whatsoever the Father has, are Mine; therefore I said, He shall take of Mine. All that the Father has are His, delivered and received: but these gifts do not degrade His divinity, since they give Him the same attributes as the Father.
32. These are the steps by which He advances the knowledge of Himself. He teaches that He has come out from the Father, proclaims that the Father is with Him, and testifies that He has conquered the world. He is to be glorified of the Father, and will glorify Him: He will use the power He has received, to give to all flesh eternal life. Then hear the crowning point, which concludes the whole series, And this is life eternal, that they should know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You sent, even Jesus Christ. Learn, heretic, to confess, if you cannot believe, the faith which gives eternal life. Separate, if you can, Christ from God, the Son from the Father, God over all from the true God, the One from the Only: if, as you say, eternal life is to believe in one only true God without Jesus Christ. But if there is no eternal life in a confession of the only true God, which separates Christ from Him, how, pray, can Christ be separated from the true God for our faith, when He is not separable for our salvation?
33. I know that laboured solutions of difficult questions do not find favour with the reader, but it will perhaps be to the advantage of the faith if I permit myself to postpone for a time the exposition of the full truth, and wrestle against the heretics with these words of the Gospel. You hear the statement of the Lord, This is life eternal, that they should know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You sent, even Jesus Christ. What is it, pray, which suggests to you that Christ is not the true God? No further indication is given to show you what you should think of Christ. There is nothing but Jesus Christ: not Son of Man, as He generally called Himself: not Son of God, as He often declared Himself: not the living bread which comes down from Heaven John 6:51, as He repeated to the scandal of many. He says, You, the only true God, and Him Whom You sent, even Jesus Christ, omitting all His usual names and titles, natural and assumed. Hence, if the confession of the only true God, and of Jesus Christ, gives us eternal life, without doubt the name Jesus Christ has here the full sense of that of God.
34. But perhaps by saying, You the only, Christ severs Himself from communion and unity with God. Yes, but after the words, You the only true God, does He not immediately continue, and Him Whom You sent, even Jesus Christ? I appeal to the sense of the reader: what must we believe Christ to be, when we are commanded to believe in Him also, as well as the Father the only true God? Or, perhaps, if the Father is the only true God, there is no room for Christ to be God. It might be so, if, because there is one God the Father, Christ were not the one Lord. The fact that God the Father is one, leaves Christ none the less the one Lord: and similarly the Father's one true Godhead makes Christ none the less true God: for we can only obtain eternal life if we believe in Christ, as well as in the only true God
35. Come, heretic, what will your fatuous doctrine instruct us to believe of Christ; Christ, Who dispenses eternal life, Who is glorified of, and glorifies, the Father, Who overcame the world, Who, deserted, is not alone, but has the Father with Him, Who came out from God, and came from the Father? He is born with such divine powers; what of the nature and reality of God will you allow Him? It is in vain that we believe in the only true God the Father, unless we believe also in Him, Whom He sent, even Jesus Christ. Why do you hesitate? Tell us, what is Christ to be confessed? You deny what has been written: what is left, but to believe what has not been written? O unhappy wilfulness! O falsehood striving against the truth! Christ is united in belief and confession with the only true God the Father: what faith is it, pray, to deny Him to be true God, and to call Him a creature, when it is no faith to believe in the only true God without Christ? But you are narrow, heretic, and unable to receive the Holy Spirit. The sense of the heavenly words escapes you; stung with the asp's poison of error, you forget that Christ is to be confessed true God in the faith of the only true God, if we would obtain eternal life.
36. But the faith of the Church, while confessing the only true God the Father, confesses Christ also. It does not confess Christ true God without the Father the only true God; nor the Father the only true God without Christ. It confesses Christ true God, because it confesses the Father the only true God. Thus the fact that God the Father is the only true God constitutes Christ also true God. The Only-begotten God suffered no change of nature by His natural birth: and He Who, according to the nature of His divine origin was born God from the living God, is, by the truth of that nature, inalienable from the only true God. Thus there follows from the true divine nature its necessary result, that the outcome of true divinity must be a true birth, and that the one God could not produce from Himself a God of a second kind. The mystery of God consists neither in simplicity, nor in multiplicity: for neither is there another God, Who springs from God with qualities of His own nature, nor does God remain as a single Person, for the true birth of the Son teaches us to confess Him as Father. The begotten God did not, therefore, lose the qualities of His nature: He possesses the natural power of Him, Whose nature He retains in Himself by a natural birth. The divinity in Him is not changed, or degenerate, for if His birth had brought with it any defect, it would more justly cast upon the Nature, through which He came into being, the reflection of having failed to implant in its offspring the properties of itself. The change would not degrade the Son, Who had passed into a new substance by birth, but the Father, Who had been unable to maintain the constancy of His nature in the birth of the Son, and had brought forth something external and foreign to Himself.
37. But, as we have often said, the inadequacy of human ideas has no corresponding inadequacy in the unity of God the Father and God the Son: as though there were extension, or series, or flux, like a spring pouring forth its stream from the source, or a tree supporting its branch on the stem, or fire giving out its heat into space. In these cases we have expansion without any separation: the parts are bound together and do not exist of themselves, but the heat is in the fire, the branch in the tree, the stream in the spring. So the thing itself alone has an independent existence; the one does not pass into the other, for the tree and the branch are one and the same, as also the fire and the heat, the spring and the stream. But the Only-begotten God is God, subsisting by virtue of a perfect and ineffable birth, true Scion of the Unbegotten God, incorporeal offspring of an incorporeal nature, living and true God of living and true God, God of a nature inseparable from God. The fact of birth does not make Him God with a different nature, nor did the generation, which produced His substance, change its nature in kind.
38. Put in the dispensation of the flesh which He assumed, and through the obedience whereby He emptied Himself of the form of God, Christ, born man, took to Himself a new nature, not by loss of virtue or nature but by change of fashion. He emptied Himself of the form of God and took the form of a servant, when He was born. But the Father's nature, with which He was in natural unity, was not affected by this assumption of flesh; while Christ, though abiding in the virtue of His nature, yet in respect of the humanity assumed in this temporal change, lost together with the form of God the unity with the divine nature also. But the Incarnation is summed up in this, that the whole Son, that is, His manhood as well as His divinity, was permitted by the Father's gracious favour to continue in the unity of the Father's nature, and retained not only the powers of the divine nature, but also that nature's self. For the object to be gained was that man might become God. But the assumed manhood could not in any wise abide in the unity of God, unless, through unity with God, it attained to unity with the nature of God. Then, since God the Word was in the nature of God, the Word made flesh would in its turn also be in the nature of God. Thus, if the flesh were united to the glory of the Word, the man Jesus Christ could abide in the glory of God the Father, and the Word made flesh could be restored to the unity of the Father's nature, even as regards His manhood, since the assumed flesh had obtained the glory of the Word. Therefore the Father must reinstate the Word in His unity, that the offspring of His nature might again return to be glorified in Himself: for the unity had been infringed by the new dispensation, and could only be restored perfect as before if the Father glorified with Himself the flesh assumed by the Son.
39. For this reason, having already so well prepared their minds for the understanding of this belief, the Lord follows up the words, And this is eternal life, that they should know You, the only true God, and Him Whom You sent, even Jesus Christ, with a reference to the obedience displayed in His incarnation, I have glorified You on the earth, I have accomplished the work which You gave Me to do. John 17:3-4 And then, that we might know the reward of His obedience, and the secret purpose of the whole divine plan, He continued, And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Your own self, with the glory which I had with You before the world was. Does any one deny that Christ remained in the nature of God or believe Him separable and distinct from the only true God? Let him tell us what is the meaning of this prayer. And now, O Father, glorify Thou Me with Your own self. For what purpose should the Father glorify Him with His own self? What is the signification of these words? What follows from their signification? The Father neither stood in need of glory, nor had He emptied Himself of the form of His glory. How should He glorify the Son with His own self, and with that glory which He had with Him before the world was made? And what is the sense of which He had with Him? Christ does not say,
The glory which I had before the world was made, when I was with You, but, The glory which I had with You. When I was with You would signify,
when I dwelt by Your side: but which I had with You teaches the Mystery of His nature. Further, Glorify Me with Yourself is not the same as
Glorify Me. He does not ask merely that He may be glorified, that He may have some special glory of His own, but prays that He may be glorified of the Father with Himself. The Father was to glorify Him with Himself, that He might abide in unity with Him as before, since the unity with the Father's glory had left Him through the obedience of the Incarnation. And this means that the glorifying should reinstate Him in that nature, with which He was united by the Mystery of His divine birth; that He might be glorified of the Father with Himself; that He should resume all that He had had with the Father before; that the assumption of the servant's form should not estrange from Him the nature of the form of God, but that God should glorify in Himself the form of the servant, that it might become for ever the form of God, since He, Who had before abode in the form of God, was now in the form of a servant. And since the form of a servant was to be glorified in the form of God, it was to be glorified in Him in Whose form the fashion of the servant's form was to be honoured.
40. But these words of the Lord are not new, or attested now for the first time in the teaching of the Gospels, for He testified to this very mystery of God the Father glorifying the Son with Himself by the noble joy at the fulfilment of His hope, with which He rejoiced at the very moment when Judas went forth to betray Him. Filled with joy that His purpose was now to be fully accomplished, He said, Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, He has glorified Him in Himself, and straightway has He glorified Him. John 13:31-32 How can we whose souls are burdened with bodies of clay, whose minds are polluted and stained with foul consciousness of sin, be so puffed up as to judge of His divine claim? How can we set up ourselves to criticise His heavenly nature, rebelling against God with our unhallowed and blasphemous disputations? The Lord enunciated the faith of the Gospel in the simplest words that could be found, and fitted His discourses to our understanding, so far as the weakness of our nature allowed Him, without saying anything unworthy of the majesty of His own nature. The signification of His opening words cannot, I think, be doubted, Now is the Son of Man glorified; that is, all the glory which He obtains is not for the Word but for His flesh: not for the birth of His Godhead, but for the dispensation of His manhood born into the world. What then, may I ask, is the meaning of what follows, And God is glorified in Him? I hear that God is glorified in Him; but what that can be according to your interpretation, heretic, I do not know. God is glorified in Him, in the Son of Man, that is: tell me, then, is the Son of Man the same as the Son of God? And since the Son of Man is not one and the Son of God another, but He Who is Son of God is Himself also Son of Man, Who, pray, is the God Who is glorified in this Son of Man, Who is also Son of God?
41. So God is glorified in the Son of Man, Who is also Son of God. Let us see, then, what is this third clause which is added, If God is glorified in Him, God has also glorified Him in Himself. What, pray, is this secret mystery? God, in the glorified Son of Man, glorifies a glorified God in Himself! The glory of God is in the Son of Man, and the glory of God is in the glory of the Son of Man. God glorifies in Himself, but man is not glorified through himself. Again the God Who is glorified in the man, though He receives the glory, yet is Himself none other than God. But since in the glorifying of the Son of Man, the God, Who glorifies, glorifies God in Himself, I recognise that the glory of Christ's nature is taken into the glory of that nature which glorifies His nature. God does not glorify Himself; but He glorifies in Himself God glorified in man. And this
glorifies in Himself, though it is not a glorifying of Himself, yet means that He took the nature, which He glorified, into the glory of His own nature since the God, Who glorifies the God glorified in man, glorifies Him in Himself, He proves that the God Whom He glorifies is in Himself, for He glorifies Him in Himself. Come, heretic, whoever you be, produce the inextricable objections of your tortuous doctrine; though they bind themselves in their own tangles, yet, marshal them as you will, we shall not be in danger of sticking in their snares. The Son of Man is glorified; God is glorified in Him; God glorifies in Himself Him, Who is glorified in the man. It is not the same that the Son of Man is glorified, as that God is glorified in the Son of Man, or that God glorifies in Himself Him, Who is glorified in the man. Express in the terms of your unholy belief, what you mean by God being glorified in the Son of Man. It must certainly be either Christ Who is glorified in the flesh, or the Father Who is glorified in Christ. If it is Christ, Christ is manifestly God, Who is glorified in the flesh. If it is the Father, we are face to face with the mystery of the unity, since the Father is glorified in the Son. Thus, if you allow it to be Christ, despite yourself you confess Him God; if you understand it of God the Father, you cannot deny the nature of God the Father in Christ. Let this be enough concerning the glorified Son of Man and God glorified in Him. But when we consider that God glorifies in Himself God, Who is glorified in the Son of Man, by what loophole, pray, can your profane doctrine escape from the confession that Christ is very God according to the verity of His nature? God glorifies in Himself Christ, Who was born a man; is Christ then outside Him, when He glorifies Him in Himself? He restores to Christ in Himself the glory which He had with Himself, and now that the servant's form, which He assumed, is in turn assumed into the form of God, God Who is glorified in man is glorified in Himself; He was in God's self before the dispensation, by which He emptied Himself, and now He is united with God's self, both in the form of the servant, and in the nature belonging to His birth. For His birth did not make Him God of a new and foreign nature, but by generation He was made natural Son of a natural Father. After His human birth, when He is glorified in His manhood, He shines again with the glory of His own nature; the Father glorifies Him in Himself, when He is assumed into the glory of His Father's nature, of which He had emptied Himself in the dispensation.
42. The words of the Apostle's faith are a barrier against your reckless and frenzied profanity, which forbids you to turn the freedom of speculation into licence, and wander into error. Every tongue, he says, shall confess that Jesus is Lord in the glory of God the Father. The Father has glorified Him in Himself, therefore He must be confessed in the glory of the Father. And if He is to be confessed in the Father's glory, and the Father has glorified Him in Himself, is He not plainly all that His Father is, since the Father has glorified Him in Himself and He is to be confessed in the Father's glory? He is now not merely in the glory of God, but in the glory of God the Father. The Father glorifies Him, not with a glory from without, but in Himself. By taking Him back into that glory, which belongs to Himself, and which He had with Him before, the Father glorifies Him with Himself and in Himself. Therefore this confession is inseparable from Christ even in the humiliation of His manhood, as He says, And this is eternal life, that they should know You, the only true God, Him, Whom You sent, even Jesus Christ John 17:3; for firstly there is no life eternal in the confession of God the Father without Jesus Christ, and secondly Christ is glorified in the Father. Eternal life is precisely this, to know the only true God and Him, Whom He sent, even Jesus Christ; deny that Christ is true God, if you can have life by believing in God without Him. As for the truth that God the Father is the only true God; let this be untrue of the God Christ, unless Christ's glory is wholly in the only true God the Father. For if the Father glorifies Him in Himself, and the Father is the only true God, Christ is not outside the only true God, since the Father, Who is the only true God, glorifies in Himself Christ, Who is raised into the glory of God. And in that He is glorified by the only true God in Himself, He is not estranged from the only true God, for He is glorified by the true God in Himself, the only God.
43. But perhaps the godless unbeliever meets the pious believer with the assertion that we cannot understand of the true God a confession of powerlessness, such as, Verily, verily, I say unto you, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father doing. John 5:19 If the twofold anger of the Jews had not demanded a twofold answer, it would indeed have been a confession of weakness, that the Son could do nothing of Himself, except what He had seen the Father doing. But Christ was answering in the same sentence the double charge of the Jews, who accused Him of violating the Sabbath, and of making Himself equal with God by calling God His Father. Do you think, then, that by fixing attention upon the form of His reply you can withdraw it for the substance? We have already treated of this passage in another book ; yet as the exposition of the faith gains rather than loses by repetition, let us ponder once more on the words, since the occasion demands it of us.
44. Hear how the necessity for the reply arose:— And for this cause did the Jews persecute Jesus, and sought to kill Him, because He did these things on the Sabbath. John 5:16 Their anger was so kindled against Him, that they desired to kill Him, because He did His works on the Sabbath. But let us see also what the Lord answered, My Father works even until now, and I work. Tell us, heretic, what is that work of the Father; since through the Son, and in the Son, are all things, visible and invisible? You, who are wise beyond the Gospels, have doubtless obtained from some other secret source of learning the knowledge of the Father's work, to reveal Him to us. But the Father works in the Son, as the Son Himself says, The words that I say unto you, I speak not from Myself, but the Father who abides in Me, He does His works. Do you grasp the meaning of the words, My Father works even until now? He speaks that we may recognise in Him the power of the Father's nature employing the nature, which has that power, to work on the Sabbath. The Father works in Him while He works; without doubt, then, He works along with the working of the Father, and therefore He says, My Father works even until now, that this present work of His words and actions may be regarded as the working of the Father's nature in Himself. This works even until now identifies the time with the moment of speaking, and therefore we must regard Him as referring to that very work of the Father's which He was then doing, for it implies the working of the Father at the very time of His words. And lest the Faith, being restricted to a knowledge of the Father only, should fail of the hope of eternal life, He adds at once, And I work; that is, what the Father works even until now, the Son also works. Thus He expounds the whole of the faith; for the work which is now, belongs to the present time; and if the Father works, and the Son works, no union exists between them, which merges them into a single Person. But the wrath of the bystanders is now redoubled. Hear what follows, For this cause, therefore, the Jews sought the more to kill Him, because He not only broke the Sabbath, but because He called God His own Father, making Himself equal with God. John 5:18 Allow me here to repeat that, by the judgment of the Evangelist and by common consent of mankind, the Son is in equality with the Father's nature; and that equality cannot exist except by identity of nature. The begotten cannot derive what it is save from its source and the thing generated cannot be foreign to that which generates it, since from that alone has it come to be what it is. Let us see, then, what the Lord replied to this double outburst of wrath, Verily, verily, I say unto you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father doing: for what things soever He does, these the Son also does in like manner.
45. Unless we regard these words as an integral part of His statement, we do them violence by forcing upon them an arbitrary and unbelieving interpretation. But if His answer refers to the grounds of their anger, our faith expresses rightly what He meant to teach, and the perversity of the ungodly is left without support for its profane delusion. Let us see then whether this reply is suitable to an accusation of working on the Sabbath. The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father doing. He has said just above, My Father works even until now, and I work. If by virtue of the authority of the Father's nature within Him, all that He works, He works with the Father in Him, and the Father works even until now on the Sabbath, then the Son, Who pleads the authority of the Father's working, is acquitted of blame. For the words, can do nothing, refer not to strength but to authority; He can do nothing of Himself, except what He has seen. Now, to have seen does not confer the power to do, and therefore He is not weak, if He can do nothing without having seen, but His authority is shown to depend on seeing. Again the words, unless He has seen, signify the consciousness derived from seeing, as when He says to the Apostles, Behold I say unto you, Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, that they are white already unto harvest. John 4:35 With the consciousness that the Father's nature is abiding in Him, and working in Him when He works, to forestall the idea that the Lord of the Sabbath has violated the Sabbath, He pronounces that, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father doing. And thus He demonstrates that His every action springs from His consciousness of the nature working within Him; when He works on the Sabbath, the Father works even until now on the Sabbath. In what follows, however, He refers to the second cause of their indignation, For what things soever He does, the Son does in like manner. Is it false that, what things soever the Father does, the Son does in like manner? Does the Son of God admit a distinction between the Father's power and working and His own? Does He shrink from claiming the equality of homage befitting an equal in power and nature? If He does, disdain His weakness, and degrade Him from equality of nature with the Father. But He Himself says only a little later, That all may honour the Son, even as they honour the Father, He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father which sent Him. Discover, if you can, the inferiority, when Both are equal in honour; make out the weakness, when Both work with the same power.
46. Why do you misrepresent the occasion of the reply in order to detract from His divinity? To the working on the Sabbath He answers that He can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father doing: to demonstrate His equality, He professes to do what things soever the Father does. Enforce your charge of weakness, by His answer concerning the Sabbath, if you can disprove that what things soever the Father does, the Son does in like manner. But if what things soever includes all things without exception; in what is He found weak, when there is nothing that the Father does, which He cannot also do? Where is His claim to equality refuted by any episode of weakness, when one and the same honour is demanded for Him and for the Father? If Both have the same power in operation, and both claim the same reverence in worship, I cannot understand what dishonour of inferiority can exist, since Father and Son possess the same power of operation, and equality of honour.
47. Although we have treated this passage as the facts themselves explain it, yet to prove that the Lord's words, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He has seen the Father doing, so far from supporting this unholy degradation of His nature, testify to His conscious possession of the nature of the Father, by Whose authority He worked on the Sabbath, let us show them that we can produce another saying of the Lord, which bears upon the question, I do nothing of Myself, but as the Father taught Me, I speak these things. And He that sent Me is with Me: He has not left Me alone, for I do always the things that are pleasing to Him. John 8:28-29 Do you feel what is implied in the words, The Son can do nothing, but what He has seen the Father doing? Or what a mystery is contained in the saying, I can do nothing of myself, and He has not left me alone, for I do always the things that are pleasing to Him? He does nothing of Himself, because the Father abides in Him; can you reconcile with this the fact that the Father does not leave Him, because He does the things which are pleasing to Him? Your interpretation, heretic, sets up a contradiction between these two statements, that He does nothing of Himself, unless taught of the Father abiding in Him, and that the Father abides in Him, because He does always the things which are pleasing to Him. For if the Father's abiding in Him means that He does nothing of Himself, how could He have deserved that the Father should abide in Him, by doing always the things which are pleasing to the Father. It is no merit, not to do of oneself what one does. Conversely, how are the Son's deeds pleasing to the Father, if the Father Himself, abiding in the Son, be their Author? Impiety, you are in a sore strait; the well-armed piety of the faith has hemmed you in. The Son is either an Agent, or He is not. If He is not an Agent, how does He please by his acts? If He is an Agent, in what sense are deeds, done not of Himself, His own? On the one hand, He must have done the things which are pleasing; on the other, it is no merit to have done, yet not of oneself, what one does.
48. But, my opponent, the unity of Their nature is such, that the several action of Each implies the conjoint action of Both, and Their joint activity a several activity of Each. Conceive the Son acting, and the Father acting through Him. He acts not of Himself, for we have to explain how the Father abides in Him. He acts in His own Person, for in accordance with His birth as the Son, He does Himself what is pleasing. His acting not of Himself would prove Him weak, were it not the case that He so acts that what He does is pleasing to the Father. But He would not be in the unity of the divine nature, if the deeds which He does, and wherein He pleases, were not His own, and He were merely prompted to action by the Father abiding in Him. The Father then in abiding in Him, teaches Him, and the Son in acting, acts not of Himself; while, on the other hand, the Son, though not acting of Himself, acts Himself, for what He does is pleasing. Thus is the unity of Their nature retained in Their action, for the One, though He acts Himself, does not act of Himself, while the Other, Who has abstained from action, is yet active.
49. Connect with this that saying, which you lay hold of to support the imputation of infirmity, All that the Father gives Me shall come unto Me, and him that comes to Me I will in no wise cast out; for I have come down from heaven not to do My own will, but the will of the Father that sent Me. John 6:37-38 But, perhaps you say, the Son has no freedom of will: the weakness of His nature subjects Him to necessity, and He is denied free-will, and subjected to necessity that He may not reject those who are given to Him and come from the Father. Nor was the Lord content to demonstrate the mystery of the Unity by His action in not rejecting those who are given to Him, nor seeking to do His own will instead of the will of him that sent Him, but when the Jews, after the repetition of the words, Him that sent Me, began to murmur, He confirms our interpretation by saying, Every one who hears from the Father and learns, comes unto Me. Not that any man has seen the Father, save He which is from God, He has seen the Father. Verily, verily, I say unto you, he that believes in Me has eternal life. Now, tell me first, where has the Father been heard, and where has He taught His hearers? No one has seen the Father, save Him Who is from God: has any one ever heard Him Whom no one has ever seen? He that has heard from the Father, comes to the Son: and he that has heard the teaching of the Son, has heard the teaching of the Father's nature, for its properties are revealed in the Son. When, therefore, we hear the Son teaching, we must understand that we are hearing the teaching of the Father. No one has seen the Father, yet he who comes to the Son, hears and learns from the Father to come: it is manifest, therefore, that the Father teaches through the words of the Son, and, though seen of none, speaks to us in the manifestation of the Son, because the Son, by virtue of His perfect birth, possesses all the properties of His Father's nature. The Only-begotten God desiring, therefore, to testify of the Father's authority, yet inculcating His own unity with the Father's nature, does not cast out those who are given to Him of the Father, or work His own will instead of the will of Him that sent Him: not that He does not will what He does, or is not Himself heard when He teaches; but in order that He may reveal Him Who sent Him, and Himself the Sent, under the aspect of one indistinguishable nature, He shows all that He wills, and says, and does, to be the will and works of the Father.
50. But He proves abundantly that His will is free by the words, As the Father raises the dead and quickens them, even so the Son also quickens whom He will. John 5:21 When the equality of Father and Son in power and honour is indicated, then the freedom of the Son's will is made manifest: when Their unity is demonstrated, His conformity to the Father's will is signified, for what the Father wills, the Son does. But to do is something more than to obey a will: the latter would imply external necessity, while to do another's will requires unity with him, being an act of volition. In doing the will of the Father the Son teaches that through the identity of Their nature His will is the same in nature with the Father's, since all that He does is the Father's will. The Son plainly wills all that the Father wills, for wills of the same nature cannot dissent from one another. It is the will of the Father which is revealed in the words, For this is the will of My Father, that every one that beholds the Son and believes in Him, should have eternal life, and that I should raise Him up at the last day. Hear now, whether the will of the Son is discordant with the Father's, when He says, Father, those whom You have given Me, I will that where I am they also may be with Me. Here is no doubt that the Son wills: for while the Father wills that those who believe in the Son should have eternal life, the Son wills that the believer should be where He is. For is it not eternal life to dwell together with Christ? And does He not grant to the believer in Him all perfection of blessing when He says, No one has known the Son save the Father, neither has any known the Father save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son wills to reveal Him Matthew 11:27? Has He not freedom of will, when He wills to impart to us the knowledge of the Father's mystery? Is not His will so free that He can bestow on whom He will the knowledge of Himself and His Father? Thus Father and Son are manifestly joint Possessors of a nature common to Both through birth and common through unity: for the Son is free of will, but what He does willingly is an act of the Father's will.
51. He who has not grasped the manifest truths of the faith, obviously cannot have an understanding of its mysteries; because he has not the doctrine of the Gospel he is an alien to the hope of the Gospel. We must confess the Father to be in the Son and the Son in the Father, by unity of nature, by might of power, as equal in honour as Begetter and Begotten. But, perhaps you say, the witness of our Lord Himself is contrary to this declaration, for He says, The Father is greater than I. John 14:28 Is this, heretic, the weapon of your profanity? Are these the arms of your frenzy? Has it escaped you, that the Church does not admit two Unbegotten, or confess two Fathers? Have you forgotten the Incarnation of the Mediator, with the birth, the cradle, the childhood, the passion, the cross and the death belonging to it? When you were born again, did you not confess the Son of God, born of Mary? If the Son of God, of Whom these things are true, says, The Father is greater than I, can you be ignorant that the Incarnation for your salvation was an emptying of the form of God, and that the Father, unaffected by this assumption of human conditions, abode in the blessed eternity of His own incorrupt nature without taking our flesh? We confess that the Only-begotten God, while He abode in the form of God, abode in the nature of God, but we do not at once reabsorb into the substance of the divine unity His unity bearing the form of a servant. Nor do we teach that the Father is in the Son, as if He entered into Him bodily; but that the nature which was begotten by the Father of the same kind as His own, possessed by nature the nature which begot it : and that this nature, abiding in the form of the nature which begot it, took the form of human nature and weakness. Christ possessed all that was proper to His nature: but the form of God had departed from Him, for by emptying Himself of it, He had taken the form of a servant. The divine nature had not ceased to be, but still abiding in Him, it had taken upon itself the humility of earthly birth, and was exercising its proper power in the fashion of the humility it assumed. So God, born of God, being found as man in the form of a servant, but acting as God in His miracles, was at once God as His deeds proved, and yet man, for He was found in the fashion of man.
52. Therefore, in the discourse we have expounded above, He had borne witness to the unity of His nature with the Father's: He that has seen Me, has seen the Father also John 14:9 : The Father is in Me, and I in the Father These two passages perfectly agree, since Both Persons are of equal nature; to behold the Son is the same as to behold the Father; that the One abides in the One shows that They are inseparable. And, lest they should misunderstand Him, as though when they beheld His body, they beheld the Father in Him, He had added, Believe Me, that I am in the Father and the Father in Me: or else believe Me for the very works' sake. His power belonged to His nature, and His working was the exercise of that power; in the exercise of that power, then, they might recognise in Him the unity with the Father's nature. In proportion as any one recognised Him to be God in the power of His nature, he would come to know God the Father, present in that mighty nature. The Son, Who is equal with the Father, showed by His works that the Father could be seen in Him: in order that we, perceiving in the Son a nature like the Father's in its power, might know that in Father and Son there is no distinction of nature.
53. So the Only-begotten God, just before He finished His work in the flesh, and completed the mystery of taking the servant's form, in order to establish our faith, thus speaks, You heard how I said unto you, I go away, and I came unto you. If you loved Me, you would rejoice, because I go unto the Father; for the Father is greater than I. He has already, in an earlier part of this very discourse unfolded in all its aspects the teaching of His divine nature: can we, then, on the strength of this confession deprive the Son of that equality, which His true birth has perfected in Him? Or is it an indignity to the Only-begotten God, that the Unbegotten God is His Father, seeing that His Only-begotten birth from the Unbegotten gives Him the Only-begotten nature? He is not the source of His own being, nor did He, being Himself non-existent, bring to pass His own birth out of nothing; but, existing as a living nature and from a living nature, He possesses the power of that nature, and declares the authority of that nature, by bearing witness to His honour, and in His honour to the grace belonging to the birth He received. He pays to the Father the tribute of obedience to the will of Him Who sent Him, but the obedience of humility does not dissolve the unity of His nature: He becomes obedient unto death, but, after death, He is above every name Philippians 2:8-9 .
54. But if His equality is doubted because the Name is given Him after He put off the form of God, we dishonour Him by ignoring the mystery of the humility which He assumed. The birth of His humanity brought to Him a new nature, and His form was changed in His humility, by the assumption of a servant's form, but now the giving of the Name restores to Him equality of form. Ask yourself what it is, which is given. If the gift be something pertaining to God, the grant to the receiving nature does not impair the divinity of the giving nature. Again, the words, And gave Him the Name, involve a mystery in the giving, but the giving of the Name does not make it another name. To Jesus is given, that to Him, Every knee shall bow of things in heaven, and things on earth, and things under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus is Lord in the glory of God the Father. The honour is given Him that He should be confessed in the glory of God the Father. Do you hear Him say, The Father is greater than I? Know Him also, of Whom it is said in reward of His obedience, And gave unto Him the Name which is above every name ; hear Him Who said, I and the Father are one; He that has seen Me, has seen the Father also; I am in the Father, and the Father in Me. Consider the honour of the confession which is granted Him, that Jesus is Lord in the glory of God the Father. When, then, is the Father greater than the Son? Surely, when He gives Him the Name above every name. And on the other hand, when is it that the Son and the Father are one? Surely, when every tongue confesses that Jesus is Lord in the glory of God the Father. If, then, the Father is greater through His authority to give, is the Son less through the confession of receiving? The Giver is greater: but the Receiver is not less, for to Him it is given to be one with the Giver. If it is not given to Jesus to be confessed in the glory of God the Father, He is less than the Father. But if it is given Him to be in that glory, in which the Father is, we see in the prerogative of giving, that the Giver is greater, and in the confession of the gift, that the Two are One. The Father is, therefore, greater than the Son: for manifestly He is greater, Who makes another to be all that He Himself is, Who imparts to the Son by the mystery of the birth the image of His own unbegotten nature, Who begets Him from Himself into His own form, and restores Him again from the form of a servant to the form of God, Whose work it is that Christ, born God according to the Spirit in the glory of the Father, but now Jesus Christ dead in the flesh, should be once more God in the glory of the Father. When, therefore, Christ says that He is going to the Father, He reveals the reason why they should rejoice if they loved Him, because the Father is greater than He.
55. After the explanation that love is the source of this joy, because love rejoices that Jesus is to be confessed in the glory of God the Father, He next expresses His claim to receive back that glory, in the words, For the prince of this world comes, and he has nothing in Me. John 14:30 The prince of this world has nothing in Him: for being found in fashion as a man, He dwelt in the likeness of the flesh of sin, yet apart from the sin of the flesh, and in the flesh condemned sin by sin. Then, giving obedience to the Father's command as His only motive, He adds, But that the world may know that I love the Father, even as the Father gave Me commandment, so I do. Arise, let us go hence. In His zeal to do the Father's commandment, He rises and hastens to complete the mystery of His bodily passion. But the next moment He unfolds the mystery of His assumption of flesh. Through this assumption we are in Him, as the branches in the vinestock John 15:1-2; and unless He had become the Vine, we could have borne no good fruit. He exhorts us to abide in Himself, through faith in His assumed body, that, since the Word has been made flesh, we may be in the nature of His flesh, as the branches are in the Vine. He separates the form of the Father's majesty from the humiliation of the assumed flesh by calling Himself the Vine, the source of unity for all the branches, and the Father the careful Husbandman, Who prunes away its useless and barren branches to be burnt in the fire. In the words, He that has seen Me, has seen the Father also, and The words that I say unto you, I speak not of Myself, but the Father abiding in Me, He does His works, and Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me, He reveals the truth of His birth and the mystery of His Incarnation. He then continues the thread of His discourse, until He comes to the saying, The Father is greater than I; and after this, to complete the meaning of these words, He hastens to add the illustration of the husbandman, the vine, and the branches, which directs our notice to His submission to bodily humiliation. He says that, because the Father is greater than Himself, He is going to the Father, and that love should rejoice, that He is going to the Father, that is, to receive back His glory from the Father: with Him, and in Him, to be glorified not with a brand-new honour, but with the old, not with some strange honour but with that which He had with Him before. If then Christ shall not enter into Him with glory, to abide in the glory of God, you may disparage His nature: but if the glory which He receives is the proof of His Godhead, recognise that it as Giver of this proof that the Father is the greater.
56. Why do you distort the Incarnation into a blasphemy? Why pervert the mystery of salvation into a weapon of destruction? The Father, Who glorifies the Son, is greater: The Son, Who is glorified in the Father, is not less. How can He be less, when He is in the glory of God the Father? And how can the Father not be greater? The Father therefore is greater, because He is Father: but the Son, because He is Son, is not less. By the birth of the Son the Father is constituted greater: the nature that is His by birth, does not suffer the Son to be less. The Father is greater, for the Son prays Him to render glory to manhood He has assumed. The Son is not less, for He receives back His glory with the Father. Thus are consummated at once the mystery of the Birth, and the dispensation of the Incarnation. The Father, as Father, and as glorifying Him Who now is Son of Man, is greater: Father and Son are one, in that the Son, born of the Father, after assuming an earthly body is taken back to the glory of the Father.
57. The birth, therefore, does not constitute His nature inferior, for He is in the form of God, as being born of God. And though by their very signification, 'Unbegotten' and 'Begotten' seem to be opposed, yet the Begotten cannot be excluded from the nature of the Unbegotten, for there is none other from whom He could derive His substance. He does not indeed share in the supreme majesty of being unbegotten: but He has received from the Unbegotten God the nature of divinity. Thus faith confesses the eternity of the Only-begotten God, though it can give no meaning to begetting or beginning in His case. His nature forbids us to say that He ever began to be, for His birth lies beyond the beginnings of time. But while we confess Him existent before all ages, we do not hesitate to pronounce Him born in timeless eternity, for we believe His birth, though we know it never had a beginning.
58. Seeking to disparage His nature, the heretics lay hold of such sayings as, The Father is greater than I, or, But of that day and hour knows no one, not even the angels in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father only. It is turned to a reproach against the Only-begotten God that He did not know the day and the hour: that, though God, born of God, He is not in the perfection of divine nature, since He is subjected to the limitation of ignorance; that is, an external force stronger than Himself, triumphing, as it were, over His weakness, makes Him captive to this infirmity. And, indeed, it is with an apparent right to claim that this confession is inevitable, that the heretics, in their frenzy, would drive us to such a blasphemous interpretation. The words are those of the Lord Himself, and what, it may be asked, could be more unholy than to corrupt His express assertion by our attempt to explain it away.
59. But, before we investigate the meaning and occasion of these words, let us first appeal to the judgment of common sense. Is it credible, that He, Who stands to all things as the Author of their present and future, should not know all things? If all things are through and in Christ, and in such a way through Christ that they are also in Him, must not that, which is both in Him and through Him, be also in His knowledge, when that knowledge, by virtue of a nature which cannot be nescient, habitually apprehends what is neither in, nor through Him ? But that which derives from Him alone its origin, and has in Him alone the efficient cause of its present state and future development, can that be beyond the ken of His nature, through which is effected, and in which is contained, all that it is and shall be? Jesus Christ knows the thoughts of the mind, as it is now, stirred by present motives, and as it will be tomorrow, aroused by the impulse of future desires. Hear the witness of the Evangelist, For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray Him. John 6:64 By its virtue His nature could perceive the unborn future, and foresee the awakening of passions yet dormant in the mind: do you believe that it did not know what is through itself, and within itself? He is Lord of all that belongs to others, is He not Lord of His own? Remember what is written of Him, All things have been created through Him, and in Him: and He is before all things Colossians 1:16: or again, For it was the good pleasure of the Father, that in Him should all the fullness dwell, and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself , all fullness is in Him, all things were made through Him, and are reconciled in Him, and for that day of reconciliation we wait expectant; did He not, then, know it, when its time was in His hands, and fixed by His mystery, for it is the day of His coming, of which the Apostle wrote, When Christ, Who is your life, shall be manifested, then shall you also with Him be manifested in glory. No one is ignorant of that which is through himself and within himself: shall Christ come, and does He not know the day of His coming? It is His day, for the same Apostle says, The day of the Lord shall come as a thief in the night 1 Thessalonians 5:2: can we believe, then, that He did not know it? Human natures, so far as in them lies, foresee what they determine to do: knowledge of the end desired accompanies the desire to act: does not He Who is born God, know what is in, and through, Himself? The times are through Him, the day is in His hand, for the future is constituted through Him, and the Dispensation of His coming is in His power: is His understanding so dull, that the sense of His torpid nature does not tell Him what He has Himself determined? Is He like the brute and the beast, which, animated by no reason or foresight, not even conscious of acting but driven to and fro by the impulse of irrational desire, proceed to their end with fortuitous and uncertain course?
60. But, again, how can we believe that the Lord of glory, because He was able not to know the day of His own coming, was of a discordant and imperfect nature, subject to the necessity of coming, but ignorant of the day of His coming? This would make God weaker than the power of ignorance, which took from Him the prerogative of knowledge. Then, too, how we redouble occasions of blasphemy, if we impute not only infirmity to Christ, but also defect to God the Father, saying that He defrauded of foreknowledge of this day the Only-begotten God, the Son of His love, and in malice denied Him certainty concerning the future consummation: suffered Him to know the day and hour of His passion, but withheld from Him the day of His power, and the hour of His glory among His Saints: took from Him the knowledge of His blessedness, while He granted Him prescience of His death? The trembling conscience of man dare not presume to think thus of God, or ascribe to Him such taint of human fickleness, that the Father should deny anything to the Son, or the Son, Who was born as God, should possess an imperfect knowledge.
61. But God can never be anything but love, or anything but the Father: and He, Who loves, does not envy; He Who is Father, is wholly and entirely Father. This name admits of no compromise: no one can be partly father, and partly not. A father is father in respect of his whole personality; all that he is is present in the child, for paternity by piecemeal is impossible: not that paternity extends to self-generation, but that a father is altogether father in all his qualities, to the offsprings born of him. According to the constitution of human bodies, which are made of dissimilar elements, and composed of various parts, the father must be father of the whole, since a perfect birth hands on to the child all the different elements and parts, which are in the father. The father is, therefore, father of all that is his; the birth proceeds from the whole of himself, and constitutes the whole of the child. God, however, has no body, but simple essence: no parts, but an all-embracing whole: nothing quickened, but everything living. God is therefore all life, and all one, not compounded of parts, but perfect in His simplicity, and, as the Father, must be Father to His begotten in all that He Himself is, for the perfect birth of the Son makes Him perfect Father in all that He has. So, if He is proper Father to the Son, the Son must possess all the properties of the Father. Yet how can this be, if the Son has not the quality of prescience, if there is anything from His Author, which is wanting in His birth? To say that there is one of God's properties which He has not, is almost equivalent to saying that He has none of them. And what is proper to God, if not the knowledge of the future, a vision, which embraces the invisible and unborn world, and has within its scope that which is not yet, but is to be?
62. Moreover Paul, the teacher of the Gentiles, forestalls the impious falsehood, that the Only-begotten God was partially nescient. Listen to his words, Being instructed in love, unto all riches of the fullness of understanding, unto knowledge of the mystery of God, even Christ, in Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. Colossians 2:2-3 God, even Christ, is the mystery, and all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Him. But a portion is one thing, the whole another: a part is not the same as all, nor can all be called a part. If the Son does not know the day, all the treasures of knowledge are not in Him; but He has all the treasures of knowledge in Him, therefore He is not ignorant of the day. But we must remember that those treasures of knowledge were hidden in Him, though not, because hidden, therefore wanting. As in God, they are in Him: as in the mystery, they are hidden. But Christ, the mystery of God, in Whom are all the treasures of knowledge hidden, is not Himself hidden from our eyes and minds. Since then He is Himself the mystery, let us see whether He is ignorant when He does not know. If elsewhere His profession of ignorance does not imply that He does not know, here also it will be wrong to call Him ignorant, if He does not know. In Him are hidden all the treasures of knowledge, and so His ignorance is an economy rather than ignorance. Thus we can assign a reason for His ignorance, without the assumption that He did not know.
63. Whenever God says that He does not know, He professes ignorance indeed, but is not under the defect of ignorance. It is not because of the infirmity of ignorance that He does not know, but because it is not yet the time to speak, or the divine Plan to act. Thus He says to Abraham, The cry of Sodom and Gomorrha is full, and their sin is very grievous. Therefore I will go down now, and see if they have done altogether according to the cry of it: and if not, I will know. Genesis 18:20-21 Here we perceive God not knowing that which notwithstanding He knows. He knows that their sins are very grievous, but He comes down again to see whether they have done altogether, and to know if they have not. We observe, then, that He is not ignorant, although He does not know, but that, when the time comes for action, He knows. This knowledge is not, therefore, a change from ignorance, but the coming of the fullness of time. He waits still to know, but we cannot suppose that He does not know: therefore His not knowing what He knows, and His knowing what He does not know, is nothing else than a divine economy in word and deed.
64. We cannot, then, doubt that the knowledge of God depends on the occasion and not on any change on His part: by the occasion being meant the occasion, not of obtaining but of declaring knowledge, as we learn from His words to Abraham, Lay not your hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him, for now I know that you fear your God, and hast not withheld your beloved son, for My sake. Genesis 22:12 God knows now, but that now I know is a profession of previous ignorance: yet it is not true, that until now God did not know the faith of Abraham, for it is written, Abraham believed in God, and it was counted to him for righteousness , and therefore this now I know marks the time when Abraham received this testimony, not when God began to know. Abraham had proved, by the sacrifice of his son, the love he bore to God, and God knew it at the time He spoke: but as we cannot suppose that He did not know before, we must for this reason suppose that He took knowledge of it then because He spoke.
By way of example, we have chosen for our consideration this passage out of many in the Old Testament, which treat of the knowledge of God, in order to show that when God does not know, the cause lies, not in His ignorance, but in the occasion.
65. We find our Lord in the Gospels knowing, yet not knowing, many things. Thus He does not know the workers of iniquity, who glory in their mighty works and in His name, for He says to them, Then will swear, I never knew you; depart from Me, all you that work iniquity. Matthew 7:23 He declares with an oath even, that He does not know them, but nevertheless He knows them to be workers of iniquity. He does not know them, not because He does not know, but because by the iniquity of their deeds they are unworthy of His knowledge, and He even confirms His denial with the sanctity of an oath. By the virtue of His nature He could not be ignorant, by the mystery of His will He refused to know. Again the Unbegotten God does not know the foolish virgins; He is ignorant of those who were too careless to have their oil ready, when He entered the chamber of His glorious coming. They come and implore, and so far from not knowing them, He cries, Verily, I say unto you, I know you not. Matthew 25:12 Their coming and their prayer compel Him to recognize them, but His profession of ignorance refers to His will, not to His nature: they are unworthy to be known of Him to Whom nothing is unknown. Hence, in order that we should not impute His ignorance to infirmity, He says immediately to the Apostles, Watch therefore, for you know not the day nor the hour. When He bids them watch, for they know not the day or the hour, He points out that He knew not the virgins, because through sleep and neglect they had no oil, and therefore were unworthy to enter into His chamber.
66. The Lord Jesus Christ, then, Who searches the heart and the reins Revelation 2:23, has no weakness in His nature, that He should not know, for, as we perceive, even the fact of His ignorance proceeds from the omniscience of His nature. Yet if any there be, who impute to Him ignorance, let them tremble, lest He Who knows their thoughts should say to them, Wherefore think ye evil in your hearts Matthew 9:4 ? The All-knowing, though not ignorant of thoughts and deeds, sometimes enquires as if He were, as for instance when He asks the woman who it was that touched the hem of His garment, or the Apostles, why they quarrelled among themselves, or the mourners, where the sepulchre of Lazarus was: but His ignorance was not ignorance, except in words. It is against reason that He should know from afar the death and burial of Lazarus, but not the place of his sepulchre: that He should read the thoughts of the mind, and not recognise the faith of the woman: that He should not need to ask concerning anything , yet be ignorant of the dissension of the Apostles. But He, Who knows all things, sometimes by a practice of economy professes ignorance, even though He is not ignorant. Thus, in the case of Abraham, God concealed His knowledge for a time: in that of the foolish virgins and the workers of iniquity, He refused to recognise the unworthy: in the mystery of the Son of Man, His asking, as if ignorant, expressed His humanity. He accommodated Himself to the reality of His birth in the flesh in everything to which the weakness of our nature is subject, not in such wise that He became weak in His divine nature, but that God, born man, assumed the weaknesses of humanity, yet without thereby reducing His unchangeable nature to a weak nature, for the unchangeable nature was that wherein He mysteriously assumed flesh. He, Who was God is man, but, being man, has not ceased to remain God. Conducting Himself then as one born man, and proving Himself such, though remaining God the Word, He often uses the language of man (though God, speaking as God, makes frequent use of human terms), and does not know that which it is not yet time to declare, or which is not deserving of His recognition.
67. We can now understand why He said that He knew not the day. If we believe Him to have been really ignorant, we contradict the Apostle, who says, In Whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. Colossians 2:3 There is knowledge which is hidden in Him, and because it has to be hidden, it must sometimes for this purpose be professed as ignorance, for once declared, it will no longer be secret. In order, therefore, that the knowledge may remain hidden, He declares that He does not know. But if He does not know, in order that the knowledge may remain hidden, this ignorance is not due to His nature, which is omniscient, for He is ignorant solely in order that it may be hidden. Nor is it hard to see why the knowledge of the day is hidden. He exhorts us to watch continually with unrelaxing faith, and withholds from us the security of certain knowledge, that our minds may be kept on the stretch by the uncertainty of suspense, and while they hasten towards and continually look for the day of His coming, may always watch in hope; and that, though we know the time must come, its very uncertainty may make us careful and vigilant. Thus the Lord says, Therefore be ye also ready, for you know not what hour the Son of Man shall come Matthew 24:44; and again, Blessed is that servant whom His lord, when He comes, shall find so doing. The ignorance is, therefore, a means not to delude, but to encourage in perseverance. It is no loss to be denied a knowledge which it is an advantage not to have, for the security of knowledge might breed negligence of the faith, which now is concealed, while the uncertainty of expectation keeps us continually prepared, even as the master of the house, with the fear of loss before his eyes, watches and guards against the dreaded coming of the thief, who chooses the time of sleep for his work.
68. Manifestly, therefore, the ignorance of God is not ignorance but a mystery: in the economy of His actions and words and manifestations, He does not know and at the same time He knows, or knows and at the same time does not know. But we must ask, whether it may not be through the Son's infirmity that He knows not what the Father knows. He could perhaps read the thoughts of the human heart, because His stronger nature can unite itself with a weaker in all its movements, and by the force of its power, as it were, pass through and through the feeble nature. But a weaker nature is powerless to penetrate a stronger: light things may be penetrated by heavy, rare by dense, liquid by solid, but the heavy are impenetrable to the light, the dense to the rare, and the solid to the liquid: the strong are not exposed to the weak, but the weak are penetrated by the strong. Therefore, the heretics say, the Son knew not the thoughts of the Father, because, being Himself weak, He could not approach the more powerful and enter into Him, or pass through Him.
69. Should any one presume, not merely to speak thus of the Only-begotten God in the rashness of his tongue, but even to think so in the wickedness of his heart, let him hear what the Apostle thought of the Holy Ghost, from the words he wrote to the Corinthians, But unto us God revealed them through the Spirit: for the Spirit searches all things, yea the deep things of God. For who among men knows the things of a man, which are in him, save the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the things which are in God, none knows, save the Spirit of God. 1 Corinthians 2:10-11 But let us cast aside these empty illustrations of material things, and measure God born of God, Spirit of Spirit, by His own powers and not by earthly conditions. Let us measure Him not by our own senses, but by His divine claims. Let us believe Him Who said, He that has seen Me has seen the Father also. John 14:9 Let us not forget that He said, Believe, if only by My works, that the Father is in Me, and I in the Father , and again, I and the Father are one. If the names which correspond to realities, when intelligibly used, impart to us any true information, then He Who is seen in Another by the eye of understanding is not different in nature from that Other; not different in kind, since He abides in the Father, and the Father in Him; not separate, since Both are One. Perceive their unity in the indivisibility of their nature, and apprehend the mystery of that indivisible nature by regarding the One as the mirror of the Other. But remember that He is the mirror, not as the image reflected by the splendour of a nature outside Himself, but as being a living nature, indistinguishable from the Father's living nature, derived wholly from the whole of His Father's, having the Father's in Him because He is the Only begotten, and abiding in the Father, because He is God.
70. The heretics cannot deny that the Lord used these words to signify the mystery His birth, but they attempt to escape from them by referring them to a harmony of will. They make the unity of God the Father and God the Son not one of divinity, but merely of will: as if the divine teaching were poor in expression and the Lord could not have said, I and the Father are one in will; or as if those words could have the same meaning as I and the Father are one; or as if He meant, He that has seen My will, has seen the will of My Father also, but, being unskilled statement, tried to express that idea in the words, He that has seen Me has seen the Father also: or as if the divine vocabulary did not contain the terms, The will of My Father is in Me, and My will is in the Father, but this thought could be expressed by I in the Father and the Father in Me. All this is nauseous and irreverent nonsense; common sense condemns the judgment of such silly fancies, as that the Lord could not say what He wanted, or did not say what He said. True, we find Him speaking in parables and allegories, but it is a different thing to strengthen one's words with illustrations, or satisfy the dignity of the subject with the help of suggestive proverbs, or adapt one's language to the needs of the moment. But this passage concerning the unity, of which we are speaking, does not allow us to look for the meaning outside the plain sound of the words. If Father and Son are one, in the sense that They are one in will, and if separable natures cannot be one in will, because their diversity of kind and nature must draw them into diversities of will and judgment, how can They be one in will, not being one in knowledge? There can be no unity of will between ignorance and knowledge. Omniscience and nescience are opposites, and opposites cannot be of the same will.
71. But perhaps it may be held to confirm the Son in His confession of ignorance that He says the Father alone knows. But unless He had plainly said that the Father alone knows, it would have been a matter of the greatest danger for our understanding, since we might have thought that He Himself did not know. For, since His ignorance is due to the economy of hidden knowledge, and not to a nature capable of ignorance, now that He says the Father alone knows, we cannot believe that He does not know; for, as we said above, God's knowledge is not the discovery of what He did not know, but its declaration. The fact that the Father alone knows, is no proof that the Son is ignorant: He says that He does not know, that others may not know: that the Father alone knows, to show that He Himself also knows. If we say that God came to know the love of Abraham , when He ceased to conceal His knowledge, it follows that only because He did not conceal it from the Son, can the Father be said to know the day, for God does not learn by sudden perception, but declares His knowledge with the occasion. If, then, the Son according to the mystery does not know the day, that He may not reveal it: on the other hand, only by the fact that He has revealed it can the Father be proved to know the day.
72. Far be it from us to imagine vicissitudes of bodily change in the Father and Son, as though the Father sometimes spoke to the Son, and sometimes was silent. We remember, indeed, that a voice was sometimes uttered from heaven for us, that the power of the Father's words might confirm for us the mystery of the Son, as the Lord says, This voice has not come from Heaven for My sake but for your sakes. John 12:30 But the divine nature can dispense with the various combinations necessary for human functions, the motion of the tongue, the adjustment of the mouth, the forcing of the breath, and the vibration of the air. God is a simple Being: we must understand Him by devotion, and confess Him by reverence. He is to be worshipped, not pursued by our senses, for a conditioned and weak nature cannot grasp with the guesses of its imagination the mystery of an infinite and omnipotent nature. In God is no variability, no parts, as of a composite divinity, that in Him will should follow inaction, speech silence, or work rest, or that He should not will, without passing from some other mental state to volition, or speak, without breaking the silence with His voice, or act, without going forth to labour. He is not subject to the laws of nature, for nature has received its law from Him: He never suffers weakness or change when He acts, for His power is boundless, as the Lord said, Father, all things are possible unto You. Mark 14:36 He can do more than human sense can conceive. The Lord does not deprive even Himself of the quality of omnipotence, for He says, What things soever the Father does, these the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19 Nothing is difficult, when there is no weakness; for only a power which is weak to effect, knows the need of effort. The cause of difficulty is the weakness of the motive force; a force of limitless power rises above the conditions of impotence.
73. We have established this point to exclude the idea that after silence God spoke to the Son, or after ignorance the Son began to know. To reach our intelligence terms must be used applicable to our own nature: thus we do not understand communication except by word of mouth, or comprehend the opposite of nescience except as knowledge. Thus the Son does not know the day for the reason that He does not reveal it: the Father, He says, alone knows it for the reason that He reveals it to the Son alone. But, as we have said, Christ is conscious of no such natural impediments as an ignorance which must be removed before He can come to know, or a knowledge which is not His before the Father begins to speak. He declares the unity of His nature, as the only-begotten, with the Father, by the unmistakable words, All things whatsoever the Father has, are Mine. There is no mention here of coming into possession: it is one thing, to be the Possessor of things external to Him; another, to be self-contained and self-existent. The former is to possess heaven and earth and the universe, the latter to be able to describe Himself by His own properties, which are His, not as something external and subject, but as something of which He Himself subsists. When He says, therefore, that all things which the Father has, are His, He alludes to the divine nature, and not to a joint ownership of gifts bestowed. For referring to His words that the Holy Spirit should take of His , He says, All things whatsoever the Father has are Mine, therefore said I, He shall take of Mine: that is, the Holy Spirit takes of His, but takes also of the Father's: and if He receives of the Father's, He receives also of His. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of God, and does not receive of a creature, but teaches us that He receives all these gifts, because they are all God's. All things that belong to the Father are the Spirit's; but we must not think that whatever He received of the Son, He did not receive of the Father also; for all that the Father has belongs equally to the Son.
74. So the nature of Christ needed no change, or question, or answer, that it should advance from ignorance to knowledge, or ask of One Who had continued in silence, and wait to receive His answer: but, abiding perfectly in mysterious unity with Him, it received of God its whole being as it derived from Him its origin. And, further, it received all that belonged to the whole being of God, namely, His knowledge and His will. What the Father knows, the Son does not learn by question and answer; what the Father wills, the Son does not will by command. Since all that the Father has, is His, it is the property of His nature to will and know, exactly as the Father wills and knows. But to prove His birth He often expounds the doctrine of His Person, as when He says, I came not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. He does the Father's will, not His own, and by the will of Him that sent Me, He means His Father. But that He Himself wills the same, is unmistakeably declared in the words, Father, those whom You have given Me, I will, that, where I am, they also may be with Me. John 17:24 The Father wills that we should be with Christ, in Whom, according to the Apostle, He chose us before the foundation of the world Ephesians 1:4, and the Son wills the same, namely that we should be with Him. His will is, therefore, the same in nature as the Father's will, though to make plain the fact of the birth it is distinguished from the Father's.
75. The Son is ignorant, then, of nothing which the Father knows, nor does it follow because the Father alone knows, that the Son does not know. Father and Son abide in unity of nature, and the ignorance of the Son belongs to the divine Plan of silence, seeing that in Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This the Lord Himself testified, when He answered the question of the Apostles concerning the times, It is not yours to know times or moments, which the Father has set within His own authority. Acts 1:7 The knowledge is denied them, and not only that, but the anxiety to learn is forbidden, because it is not theirs to know these times. Yet now that He is risen, they ask again, though their question on the former occasion had been met with the reply, that not even the Son knew. They cannot possibly have understood literally that the Son did not know, for they ask Him again as though He did know. They perceived in the mystery of His ignorance a divine Plan of silence, and now, after His resurrection, they renew the question, thinking that the time has come to speak. And the Son no longer denies that He knows, but tells them that it is not theirs to know, because the Father has set it within His own authority. If then, the Apostles attributed it to the divine Plan, and not to weakness, that the Son did not know the day, shall we say that the Son knew not the day for the simple reason that He was not God? Remember, God the Father set the day within His authority, that it might not come to the knowledge of man, and the Son, when asked before, replied that He did not know, but now, no longer denying His knowledge, replies that it is theirs not to know, for the Father has set the times not in His own knowledge, but in His own authority. The day and the moment are included in the word 'times': can it be, then, that He, Who was to restore Israel to its kingdom, did not Himself know the day and the moment of that restoration? He instructs us to see an evidence of His birth in this exclusive prerogative of the Father, yet He does not deny that He knows: and while He proclaims that the possession of this knowledge is withheld from ourselves, He asserts that it belongs to the mystery of the Father's authority.
We must not therefore think, because He said He did not know the day and the moment, that the Son did not know. As man He wept, and slept, and sorrowed, but God is incapable of tears, or fear, or sleep. According to the weakness of His flesh He shed tears, slept, hungered, thirsted, was weary, and feared, yet without impairing the reality of His Only-begotten nature; equally so must we refer to His human nature, the words that He knew not the day or the hour.
Source. Translated by E.W. Watson and L. Pullan. From Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers, Second Series, Vol. 9. Edited by Philip Schaff and Henry Wace. (Buffalo, NY: Christian Literature Publishing Co., 1899.) Revised and edited for New Advent by Kevin Knight. <http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/330209.htm>.
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