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Chapter 21.

Answer to objections from Scripture; sixthly, Proverbs viii. 22

{316} 173. FOR the passage in the Proverbs, as I have said before, signifies, not the Substance, but the manhood of the Word; for if He says that He was created for the works, He thereby shows His intention of signifying, not His Substance, but the Economy which took place for His works, which comes second into existence. For things which are in formation and creation are made specially that they may be and may exist, and next they have to do whatever the Word bids them, as may be seen in the case of things generally. For Adam was made, not that he might work, but that first he might be man; for it was after this that he received the command to work. And Noe came into being, not because of the ark, but that first he might exist and become a man; for after this he received commandment to prepare the ark. And the like will be found in every case on inquiring into it;—thus the great Moses first was born a man, and next was entrusted with the government of the people. Therefore here too we must suppose the like; for thou seest, that the Word is not created in order to be, but In the beginning was the Word, and He is afterwards created for the works and the economy towards them. For before the works were made, the Son was ever, nor was there yet need that He should be created; but when the works were created and need arose afterwards of the Economy for their restoration, then it was that the Word took upon Himself this condescension and assimilation to the works; which He has shown us by the word He created. And through the Prophet Esaias, willing to signify the like, He says again: And now thus saith the Lord, who formed Me from the womb {317 | ED. BEN. ii. 51.} to be His servant, to gather together Jacob unto Him and Israel, I shall be brought together and be glorified before the Lord.

174. See here too, He is formed not that He may have being, but in order to gather together the tribes, which were in existence before He was formed. For as in the former passage stands He created, so in this He formed; and as there for the works, so here to gather together; so that in every point of view it appears that He created and He formed are said after the Word was, and in order not to His having existence, but to His undertaking an office. For, as before that forming the tribes existed, for whose sake He was formed, so does it appear that the works existed, for which He was created. And when in the beginning was the Word, not yet were the works, as I have said before; but when the works were made and the need required, then He created was said; and as if some son, when servants were lost and in the hands of the enemy by their own carelessness, and need was urgent, were sent by his father to succour and recover them, and on setting out were to put over him the like dress with them, and should fashion himself as they, lest the capturers, recognising [Note 1] him as the master, should take to flight and prevent his descending to those who were hidden under the earth by them; and then were any one to inquire of him why he did so, were to make answer, "My father thus formed and prepared me for his works," while in thus speaking, he neither implies that he is a servant nor one of the works, nor speaks of the beginning of his generation, but of the subsequent charge given him over the works,—in the {318} same way the Lord also, having put over Him our flesh, and being found in fashion as a man, if He were questioned by those who saw Him thus and marvelled, would say, The Lord created Me the beginning of His ways for His works, and He formed Me to gather together Israel.

175. This again the Spirit foretells in the Psalms, saying, Thou didst set Him over the Works of Thine hands; which elsewhere the Lord signified of Himself, I am set as King by Him upon His holy hill of Sion. And as, when He shone in the body upon Sion, He had not His beginning of existence or of reign, but being God's Word and everlasting King, He vouchsafed that His kingdom should shine in a human way in Sion, that redeeming them and us from the sin which reigned in them, He might bring them under His Father's Kingdom, so, on being set for the works, He is not set for things which did not yet exist, but for such as already were and needed restoration. He created, then, and He formed and He set, have the same meaning, not denoting the beginning of His existence, nor His substance as created, but that beneficent renovation which He brought about for us. Accordingly, though He thus speaks, yet He also taught us that He Himself existed before this, when He said, Before Abraham was made, I am; and When He prepared the heavens, I was present with Him; and I was with Him disposing all things. And as He Himself was before Abraham was made, and Israel was made after Abraham, and plainly He exists first and is formed afterwards, and His forming signifies, not His beginning of being, but His taking manhood, wherein also He collects together the tribes of Israel; so, as being always with the Father, He Himself is Framer of the creation, and His works are evidently later than Himself, and He created signifies not His beginning of being, but the economy which took place for the works, which He fulfilled in the flesh. For it became Him, as being {319 | ED. BEN. ii. 52-54.} other than the works, nay rather their Framer, to take upon Himself their renovation, that, whereas He is created for us, all things may be now created in Him. For when He said He created, He forthwith added the reason, naming the works, that His creation for the works might signify His becoming man for their renovation.

176. And this is usual with divine Scripture [Note 2]; for when it signifies the fleshly generation of the Son, it adds also the cause for which He became man; but when He speaks or His servants announce anything of His Godhead, all is said in simple diction, and with an absolute sense, and without reason being involved. For He is the Father's Radiance; and as the Father exists, but not for any reason, neither must we seek the reason of the existence of that Radiance. Thus it is written, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God; and the wherefore it assigns not; but when the Word was made flesh, then it adds the reason why, saying, And dwelt among us. And again the Apostle says, Who being in the form of God, but he has introduced no reason, till, He took on Him the form of a servant; for then he continues, He humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross; for it was for this that He both became flesh and took the form of a servant. And the Lord Himself has spoken many things in proverbs; but when giving us notices about Himself, He has spoken absolutely: I in the Father and the Father in Me, and I and the Father are one, and He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father, and I am the Light of the world, and I am the Truth; not setting down in each case the reason, nor the wherefore, lest He Himself should seem second to those things for which He was made. Else, that reason, without which He had not been brought into {320} being, would needs take precedence of Him. Paul, for instance, separated as an Apostle for the Gospel, which the Lord had promised afore by the Prophets, was thereby made subordinate to the Gospel, of which he was made minister, and John, being chosen to prepare the Lord's way, was made subordinate to the Lord; but the Lord, not being made subordinate to any reason why He should be Word, save only that He is the Father's Offspring and Only-begotten Wisdom, when He becomes man, then assigns the reason, wherefore He is about to bear flesh.

177. For the need of man precedes His becoming man, apart from which He had not put on flesh. And what the need was for which He became man, the Lord Himself thus signifies, I came down from heaven not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of My Father, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise Him up at the last day. And again: I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me should not abide it darkness. And again He says: To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world; that I should bear witness unto the truth. And John has written: For this was manifested the Son of God, that He might destroy the works of the devil. To give a witness then, and for our sakes to undergo death, to raise man up and undo the works of the devil, the Saviour came, and this is the reason of His incarnate presence. For otherwise a resurrection had not been, unless there had been death; and how had death been, unless He had had a mortal body?

178. This the Apostle, learning from Him, thus sets forth: Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that {321 | ED. BEN. ii. 54-55.} through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver them who through fear of death were all their life-time subject to bondage. And, Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead. And again, For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin condemned sin in the flesh; that the righteousness of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit. And John says, For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. And again, the Saviour has spoken in His own person, For judgment am I come into this world, that they who see not might see, and that they which see might be made blind. Not for Himself then, but for our salvation, and to abolish death, and to condemn sin, and to give sight to the blind, and to raise up all from the dead, therefore has He come; but if not for Himself He has come, but for us, by consequence not for Himself but for us is He created. But if not for Himself is He created, but for us, then is He not Himself a creature, but, as having put on our flesh, He uses such language.

179. And that this is the sense of the Scriptures we may learn from the Apostle, who says in his Epistle to the Ephesians, Having broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, to create in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace. But if in Him the twain are created, and these are in His body, reasonably then, bearing the twain in Himself, He is as if Himself created; for those who were created in Himself hath He made one, and He was in them, as if they. And thus, the two being created in Him, He may say suitably, The Lord hath created Me. For as by receiving our infirmities, He is said to be infirm Himself, though not Himself {322} infirm (for He is the power of God, and as He became sin for us and a curse, though not having sinned Himself, but because He Himself bare our sins and our curse), so, by creating us in Himself let Him say, He created Me for the works, though not Himself a creature.

180. For if, as they hold, the Substance of the Word being of created nature, therefore it is that He says, The Lord created Me, as being a creature, He was not created for us; but if He was not created for us, we are not created in Him; and, if not created in Him, we have Him not in ourselves but externally; as, for instance, as receiving instruction from Him as from a teacher. And, it being so with us, sin has not lost its reign over the flesh, being inherent and not cast out of it. But the Apostle opposes such a doctrine a little before when he says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus; and if in Christ we are created, then it is not He of whom creation is predicated, but of us in Him; and the words He created are for our sake. For because of our need, the Word, though being Creator, bore to receive appellations which are used of things under creation; which are not proper to Him, as being the Word, but are ours who are created in Him. And as, since the Father is always, so is His Word, and as being always, says, I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him, and I am in the Father and the Father in Me; so, when for our need He became man, consistently does He use our language, as ourselves, The Lord hath created Me, that by His dwelling in the flesh, sin might perfectly be expelled from the flesh, and we might have our mind free. For what ought He, when made man, to say? "In the beginning I was man?" this were neither suitable to Him nor true; and as it beseemed not to say this, so it is natural and proper in the case of man to say, He created and He made Him.

181. On this account then the reason is added of He created, namely, the need of the works; and where the reason is {323 | ED. BEN. ii. 56-57.} added, that reason happily explains the passage. Thus here, when He says He created, He sets down the reason, the works; on the other hand, when He signifies absolutely His generation from the Father, straightway He adds, Before all the hills He begets Me; but He does not add the "wherefore," as in the case of He created, when He says, for the works, but He says absolutely, He begets Me, as in the passage, In the beginning was the Word. For, though no works had been created, still the Word of God was, and the Word was God. And His becoming man would not have taken place, had not the need of men become a cause. The Son then is not a creature.

Chapter 22.

Answer to objections from Scripture; sixthly, Proverbs viii. 22

182. FOR had He been a creature, He had not said, He begets Me, for the creatures are from without, and are works of the Maker; but the Offspring is not from without as a work, but from the Father, and belongs to His Substance. Wherefore they are creatures, but He God's Word and Only-begotten Son. Certainly, Moses did not say of the creation, "In the beginning He begat;" nor "In the beginning" was, but In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. Nor did David say in the Psalm, Thy hands have "begotten me," but made me and fashioned me, everywhere applying the word made to the creatures, but to the Son contrariwise; for He has not said "I made," but I begat, and He begets Me, and My heart has burst with a good Word. And in the instance of the creation, In the beginning He made; but in the instance of the Son, In the beginning was the Word.

183. And there is this difference, that the creatures are {324} made upon and after the beginning, and have a beginning of existence connected with an interval; wherefore also what is said of them, In the beginning He made, is as much as saying of them, "From the beginning He made:"—as the Lord, knowing what He had made, has taught, when He shamed the Pharisees, with the words, He who made them from the beginning, made them male and female; for from some beginning, when they were not yet, were the works brought into being and created. This too the Holy Spirit has signified in the Psalms, saying, Thou, Lord, at the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth; and again, O think upon Thy congregation which Thou hast purchased from the beginning; now it is plain that what takes place at the beginning has a beginning of creation, and that from some beginning God purchased His congregation. And that In the beginning He made, from His saying made, means "began to make," Moses himself shows by saying, after the completion of all things, And God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because that in it He had rested from all His work which God began to make. Therefore the creatures began to be made; but the Word of God, not having that from which a beginning comes, did not begin to be, nor begin to come to be, but was ever. And the works have their beginning in their making, and their beginning precedes their coming to be; but the Word, not being of things which come to be, rather comes to be Himself the Framer of those which have a beginning. And the being of things made is measured by their becoming, and from some beginning doth God begin to make them through the Word, that it may be known that they were not before their generation; but the Word has His being in no other beginning—that is, origin—than the Father, whom they allow to be unoriginate, so that He too exists unoriginately in the Father, being His Offspring, and not His creature. Thus does divine Scripture recognise the difference between the {325 | ED. BEN. ii. 57-58.} Offspring and things made, and show that the Offspring is a Son, not begun from any beginning, but eternal; but that the thing made, as an external work of the Maker, began to come into being. John therefore, delivering divine doctrine about the Son, and knowing the difference of the phrases, said not, "In the beginning became" or "was made," but In the beginning was the Word; that we might understand "Offspring" by was, and not account of Him by intervals, but believe the Son always and eternally to exist.

184. And with these proofs, why, O Arians, misunderstand the passage in Deuteronomy, and thus venture a fresh act of impiety against the Lord, saying that "He is a work," or "creature," or indeed "offspring"? for offspring and work you take to mean the same thing; but here too you shall be shown to be as unlearned as you are impious. Your first passage is this, Is not He thy Father that hath bought thee? hath He not made thee and created thee? And shortly after in the same Song he says, Of the God that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that nourished thee. Now the meaning conveyed in these passages is very remarkable; for he says not first He begat, lest that term should be taken as indiscriminate with He made, and these men should have a pretence for saying, "Moses tells us indeed that God said from the beginning, Let us make man, but he soon after says himself, Of the God that begat thee thou art unmindful, as if the terms were indifferent; for offspring and work are the same." Not so, for after the words bought and made, he has added last of all begat, that the sentence might carry its own interpretation; for in the word made he accurately denotes what belongs to men by nature, namely, to be works and things made; but in the word begat he shows God's loving-kindness exercised towards men after He had created them. And since they were ungrateful upon this, thereupon Moses reproaches them, saying {326} first, Do ye thus requite the Lord? and then adds, Is not He thy Father that hath bought thee? Hath He not made thee and created thee? And next he says, They sacrificed unto devils, not to God, to gods whom they knew not, to new gods whom your fathers knew not; of the God that begat thee thou art unmindful. For God not only created them to be men, but called them to be sons, as having begotten them. For the term begat is here as elsewhere expressive of a son, as He says by the Prophet, I have begotten sons and exalted them; and generally, when Scripture wishes to signify a son, it does so, not by the term created, but undoubtedly by the term begat.

185. And this John seems to say, He gave to them power to become children of God, even to them that believe on His Name; which were begotten not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And here too a cautious distinction is appositely observed, for first he says become, because they are not called sons by nature but by adoption; then he says were begotten, because like the Jews they had altogether received the name of son, though the chosen people, as says the Prophet, rebelled against their Benefactor. And this is God's kindness to man, that of whom He is Maker, of them according to grace He afterwards becomes Father also; that is, becomes such when men, His creatures, receive into their hearts, as the Apostle says, the Spirit of His Son, crying, Abba, Father. And these are they who, having received the Word, gained power from Him to become sons of God; for they could not become sons, being by nature creatures, otherwise than by receiving the Spirit of the natural and true Son. Wherefore, that this might be, The Word became flesh, that He might make man capable of godhead.

186. This same meaning may be gained also from the Prophet Malachi, who says, Hath not One God created us? Have we not all one Father? for first he puts created, next {327 | ED. BEN. ii. 58-60.} Father, to show, as the other writers, that from the beginning we were creatures by nature, and God is our Creator through the Word; but afterwards we were made sons, and thenceforward God the Creator becomes our Father also. Therefore, the word Father has a relation towards a Son, and a Son, and not a creature, is related towards a Father. This passage also proves, that we are not sons by nature, but it is the Son who is in us; and again, that God is not our Father by nature, but of that Word in us, in whom and because of whom we cry, Abba, Father. And so in like manner, the Father calls them sons in whomsoever He sees His own Son, and says, I begat; since begetting is significant of a Son, and making is indicative of the works. And thus it is that we are not begotten first, but made; for it is written, Let Us make man; but afterwards on receiving the grace of the Spirit, we are said thenceforth to be begotten also; just as the great Moses in his Song with an apposite meaning says first He bought, and afterwards He begat; lest, hearing He begat, they might forget that nature of theirs which was from the beginning; but that they might know that from the beginning they are creatures, but when according to grace they are said to be begotten, as sons, still no less than before are men works according to nature.

187. And that creature and offspring are not the same, but differ from each other in nature and the signification of the words, the Lord Himself shows even in the Proverbs, for having said, The Lord hath created Me a beginning of His ways; He has added, But before all the hills He begat Me. If then the Word were by nature and in His Substance a creature, and there were no difference between offspring and creature, He would not have added, He begat Me, but had been satisfied with He created, as if that term implied He begat; but, as the case stands, after saying, He created Me a beginning of His ways for His works, He has {328} added, not simply begat Me, but has connected it with the conjunction But, as guarding thereby the term created, when He says, But before all the hills He begat Me. For begat Me succeeding in such close connection to created Me, makes the meaning one, and shows that created is said with an object; not so begat Me, which is therefore prior to created Me. For as, if He had said the reverse, "The Lord begat Me," and went on, "But before the hills He created Me," created had certainly preceded begat; so having said first created, and then added But before all the hills He begat Me, He necessarily shows that begat preceded created. For in saying, Before all He begat Me, He intimates that He is other than all things; it having been shown to be true in an earlier place in this book, that no one creature was made before another, but all things that were made subsisted at once together upon one and the same command. Therefore neither do the words which follow created also follow begat Me; but in the case of created is added beginning of ways, but of begat Me, He says not, "He begat me as a beginning," but before all He begat Me. But He who is before all is not a beginning of all, but is other than all; but if other than all, (in which "all" the beginning of all is included,) it follows that He is other than the creatures; and it becomes a clear point, that the Word, being other than all things and before all, afterwards is created a beginning of the ways for works, because He became man, that, as the Apostle has said, He who is the Beginning and First-born from the dead, in all things might have the pre-eminence.

188. Such then being the difference between created and begat Me, and between beginning of ways and before all, God, being Creator first, next, as has been said, becomes Father of men, because of His Word dwelling in them. But in the case of the Word the reverse; for God, being His Father by nature, becomes afterwards both {329 | ED. BEN. ii. 60-62.} His Creator and Maker, when the Word puts on that flesh which was created and made, and becomes man. For, as men, receiving the Spirit of the Son, become children through Him, so the Word of God, when He Himself puts on the flesh of man, then is said both to be created and to have been made. If then we are by nature sons, then is He by nature creature and work; but if we become sons by adoption and grace, then has the Word also, when in grace towards us He became man, said, The Lord hath created Me.

189. And now I come to that further truth which is implied in His being "beginning of ways." When He put on a created nature and became like us in body, reasonably was He therefore called both our Brother and First-born. For though it was after us that He was made man for us, and our brother by similitude of body, still He is therefore called and is the First-born of us, because, all men being lost according to the transgression of Adam, His flesh before all others was saved and liberated, as being the Word's Body; and henceforth we, becoming incorporate with It, are saved after Its pattern. For in It the Lord becomes our guide to the Kingdom of Heaven and to His own Father, saying, I am the Way and the Door, and "through Me all must enter." Whence also is He said to be First-born from the dead, not that He died before us, for we had died first; but because having undergone death for us and abolished it, He was the first to rise, as man, for our sakes raising His own Body. Henceforth He having risen, we too, from Him, and because of Him, rise in due course from the dead.

190. But if He is also called First-born of the creation, still this is not as if He were levelled to the creatures, and only first of them in point of time, (for how should that be since He is Only-begotten?) but it is because of the Word's condescension to the creatures, according to which {330} He hath become the Brother of many. For the term Only-begotten is used where there are no brethren, but First-born is used because of brethren. Accordingly it is nowhere written of Him in the Scriptures, "the first-born of God," any more than "the creature of God;" but it is by Only-begotten and Son and Word and Wisdom, that He is related and belongs to the Father. Thus, We have seen His glory, the glory as of the Only-begotten of the Father; and God sent His Only-begotten Son; and O Lord, Thy Word endureth for ever; and In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God; and Christ the Power of God and the Wisdom of God; and This is My beloved Son; and Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. But First-born, if used of Him, implied the descent to the creation; for of it has He been called first-born; and He created Me implies the Son's grace towards the works, for for them is He created. If then He is Only-begotten, as indeed He is, First-born needs some explanation; but if He be literally First-born, then He is not Only-begotten. For the same cannot be both Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations;—that is, Only-begotten, because of His generation from the Father, as has been said; and First-born, because of His condescension to the creation and the brotherhood which He has made with many. Certainly, those two terms being inconsistent with each other, one should say that the attribute of being Only-begotten has justly the preference in the instance of the Word, in that there is no other Word, or other Wisdom, but He alone is very Son of the Father.

191. Moreover, as was before said, not under circumstances which account for it, but absolutely, it is said of Him, the Only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father; but the word First-born has the creation as a circumstance to account for it, for Paul proceeds to say, For in Him all things were created. But if all the creatures {331 | ED. BEN. ii. 62-63.} were created in Him, He is other than the creatures, and is not a creature, but the Creator of the creatures. Not then because He was from the Father was He called First-born, but because in Him the creation came into being; and as before the creation He was the Son, through whom was the creation, so also before He was called the First-born of the whole creation not the less was the Word Himself with God and the Word was God.

192. Yet they go about saying, "If He is First-born of all creation, it is plain that He too is one of the creation." Men without understanding! if He is simply First-born of the whole creation, as we say, then He is, by the contrast involved in the word "whole," other than the whole creation; for He says not "He is First-born by comparison as being above the rest of the creatures, and thereby among them and one of them," but it is written, of the whole creation, in order that He may appear other than the creation itself [Note 3]. Reuben, for instance, is not said to be first-born of all the children of Jacob, which would imply his being external to them, but of Jacob himself and his brethren; lest he should be thought to be some other beside the children of Jacob. If then the Word also were one of the creatures, Scripture would have said that He was First-born of other {332} creatures; as speaking of His manhood, the Apostle says among many brethren. But now the sacred writers saying that He is First-born of the whole creation, the Son of God is plainly shown to be other than the whole creation and not a creature. For if He is a creature, He will be First-born of Himself. How then is it possible for Him to be before and after Himself? next, if He is a creature, and the whole creation through Him came into existence, and in Him consists, how can He both create the creation and be one of the things which are in Him created?

193. Such a notion being simply extravagant, it is certain that He is First-born among many brethren in His relation to the flesh, and First-born from the dead, because the resurrection of the dead is from Him and after Him; and First-born of the whole creation, because of the Father's love to man, which brought it to pass that in His Word not only all things consist, but that the creation itself, of which the Apostle speaks, waiting for the manifestation of the sons of God, shall be delivered one time from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. Of this creation thus set free, the Lord will be First-born, both of it and of all those who become its children, that by His being named first, those that come after Him may abide, as all depending on the Word as a beginning.

194. And I think that these men themselves will be shamed by this consideration: if the case stands not as we have said, but as they would rule it, viz., that He is First-born of the whole creation as being in His substance a creature among creatures, let them reflect that they will be conceiving of Him as brother and fellow of the things without reason and life. For of the whole creation these also are parts; and the First-born, in the sense they wish to take the word, must be first indeed in point of time, but only in this respect, being in kind and similitude the same with all. How then can they say this without exceeding all measures {333 | ED. BEN. ii. 63-64.} of impiety? For it is evident to all, that neither for Himself, as if a creature, nor as having any connection according to substance with the whole creation, has He been called First-born of it; but because the Word, when at the beginning He framed the creatures, condescended to things which were to have a beginning, or to be made, that it might be possible for them to come into being [Note 4]. For they could not have endured His absolute nature and His splendour from the Father, unless, condescending by the Father's love for man, He had supported them and taken hold of them and brought them into substance; and next, because, by this condescension of the Word, the creation too is made a son through Him, that He might be in all respects First-born of it, as has been said, both in creating the world, and also in being brought into it for the sake of all therein. For so it is written, When He bringeth the First-born into the world, He saith, Let all the Angels of God worship Him. Let Christ's enemies hear and tear themselves in pieces because it is His coming into the world which gives Him the name of First-born of all; and thus the Son is the Father's Only-begotten, because He alone is from the Father, and He is the First-born of creation, because of this adoption in Him of all creatures as sons [Note 5].

195. And as He is first-born among brethren and rose from the dead, the first fruits of them that slept; so, since it became Him in all things to be first, therefore He is created a Beginning of ways, that we, setting out thereon and entering through Him who says, I am the Way and {334} the Door, and partaking of the knowledge of the Father, may also hear the words, Blessed are the undefiled in the Way, and Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. And He is Beginning of ways, because when the first way, which was through Adam, was lost, and in place of paradise we deviated into death, and heard the word, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, therefore the Word of God, who loves man, puts on Him created flesh at the Father's will, that whereas the first man had made it dead through the transgression, He Himself might quicken it in the blood of His proper Body, and might open for us a way new and living, as the Apostle says, through the veil, that is to say, His flesh. This he signifies elsewhere thus, Wherefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creation; old things are passed away, behold, all things are become new. But if a new creation has taken place, some one must be first of this creation; mere man then, made of earth only, such as we are become from the transgression, could not be he. For in the first creation men had become unfaithful, and through them that first creation had been lost; and there was need of some one else to renew the first, and to preserve what was renewed.

196. Therefore from love to man none other than the Lord, the beginning of the new creation, is created as the Way, and consistently says, The Lord created Me a beginning of ways for His works; that man might no longer pass his lifetime according to that first creation, but, there being a beginning of a new creation, and in it the Christ a beginning of ways, we might follow Him henceforth, while He says to us, I am the Way: as the blessed Apostle teaches in his Epistle to the Colossians, saying, He is the Head of the body, the Church, who is the Beginning, the First-born from the dead, that in all things He might have the pre-eminence. For if, as has been said, because of the resurrection {335 | ED. BEN. ii. 64-66.} from the dead, He is called a beginning, and then a resurrection took place when He, bearing our flesh, had given Himself to death for us, it is evident that His words, He created Me a beginning of ways, is indicative not of His substance, but of His bodily presence. For, as death belonged to the body, so in like manner to the bodily presence are the words proper, The Lord created Me a beginning of His ways. For since the Saviour was thus created according to the flesh, and had become a beginning of things to be new created, and possessed the first fruits of our race, viz., that human flesh which He took to Himself, therefore after Him, as is fit, is created also the people to come, David saying, This shall be written for another generation, and the people that shall be created shall praise the Lord. And again in the twenty-first Psalm, They shall come, and the heavens shall declare His righteousness, unto a people that shall be born whom the Lord hath made. For we shall no more hear, In the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die; but, Where I am, there ye shall be also; so that we may say, We are His workmanship, created unto good works.

197. And again, since God's work, that is, man, though created perfect, has become wanting through the transgression, and dead in sin, and it was unbecoming that the work of God should remain imperfect, (hence all the saints beseech concerning this, for instance in the hundred and thirty-seventh Psalm, saying, The Lord shall make good His loving-kindness towards me; despise not then the works of Thine own hands;) therefore the perfect Word of God puts around Him an imperfect body, and is said to be created for the works; that, paying the debt in our stead, He might, by Himself, perfect what was wanting to man. Now immortality was wanting to him, and the way to paradise. This then is what our Saviour says, I have glorified Thee on the earth, I have perfected the work which {336} Thou gavest Me to do; and again, The works which the Father hath given Me to perform, the same works that I do, bear witness of Me; but the works He here says that the Father had given Him to perfect, are those for which He is created, saying in the Proverbs, The Lord hath created Me a beginning of His ways, for His works; for it is all one to say, The Father hath given Me the works, and The Lord hath created Me for the works.

198. When then received He the works to perfect, O God's enemies? for this also will throw light on He created. If ye say, "At the beginning when He brought them into being out of what was not," this is not true; for they were not yet made; whereas He appears to speak as undertaking what was already in being. Nor is it pious in answer to refer to a time previous to the Word's becoming flesh, lest His coming should thereupon seem superfluous, since for the sake of these works that coming took place. Therefore it remains for us to say that when He became man, then He took the works. For then He perfected them, by healing our wounds and vouchsafing to us the resurrection from the dead. But if, when the Word became flesh, then were committed to Him the works, plainly when He became man, then also is He created for the works. Not of His substance then is this phrase "He created" indicative, as has many times been said, but of His bodily coming into being. For then, because God's works were become imperfect and mutilated from the transgression, He is said in respect to the body to be created; that by perfecting them and making them whole, He might present the Church unto the Father, as the Apostle says, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but holy and without blemish. Mankind then is perfected in Him and restored, as it was made at the beginning, nay, with greater grace. For, on rising from the dead, we shall no longer fear death, but shall ever reign in Christ in the heavens. {337 | ED. BEN. ii. 66-68.}

199. And this has been done, since the proper Word of God Himself, who is from the Father, has put on the flesh, and become man. For if, being a creature, He had become man, man had remained just what he was, not joined to God; for how had a work been joined to the Creator by a work? or what succour had come from like to like, when one as well as the other needed it? And how, were the Word a creature, had He power to undo God's sentence, and to remit sin, whereas it is written in the Prophets that this is God's doing? For who is a God like unto Thee, that pardoneth iniquity, and passeth by transgression? For whereas, God having said, Dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return, men have become mortal, how then could things which were created undo sin? but the Lord is He who has undone it, as He says Himself, Unless the Son shall make you free; and the Son, who made free, has shown in truth that He is no creature, nor one of things brought into being, but the proper Word and Image of the Father's Substance, who at the beginning sentenced, and alone remitteth sins. For since by the Word it was said, Dust thou art, and unto dust thou shalt return, suitably it is through the Word Himself and in Him that the freedom and the undoing of the condemnation has come to pass.

200. "Yet," they say, "supposing the Saviour were a creature, God surely by speaking the word only could undo the curse." And so another will tell them in like manner, "Without His incarnation at all, God was able just to speak and undo the curse;" but we must consider what was expedient for mankind, and not what simply is possible with God. He could have destroyed, before the ark of Noah, the then transgressors; but He did it after the ark. He could too, without Moses, have spoken the word only, and have brought the people out of Egypt; but it profited to do it through Moses. And God was able without the judges to save His people; but it was profitable for the {338} people that for a season judges should be raised up to them. The Saviour too might have come among us from the beginning, or on His coming might not have been delivered to Pilate; but He came at the fulness of the ages, and only when sought for said, I am He. For what He does, that is profitable for men, and was not fitting in any other way; and what is profitable and fitting, for that He provides. Accordingly He came, not that He might be ministered unto, but that He might minister, and might work our salvation. Certainly He was able to speak the Law from heaven, but He saw that it was expedient to men for Him to speak from Sinai; and this He did, that it might be possible for Moses to go up, and for them, hearing the word near them, the rather to believe. Moreover, with what good reason He acted may be seen thus: if God had simply spoken, because that was in His power, and so the curse had been undone, the power had been shown of Him who gave the word, but man, though restored to what Adam was before the transgression, had received grace only from without [Note 6], and not had it united to his body; such would he have been, but, so restored to Paradise, perhaps he had become worse, because he had learned to transgress. Such then being his condition, had he again been seduced by the serpent, there had been fresh need for God to give command and undo the curse; and thus the need had become interminable, and men had remained under guilt not less than before, as being enslaved to sin; and ever sinning, would have ever needed one to pardon them, and had never become free, being in flesh themselves, and ever worsted by the Law because of the infirmity of the flesh.

201. Again, if the Son were a creature, man had remained mortal as before, not being joined to God; for a creature {339 | ED. BEN. ii. 68-69.} would not have joined creatures to God, as itself seeking what would join them; nor could any portion of the creation have been the creation's salvation, as needing salvation itself. To provide against this also, He sends His own Son, who becomes Son of Man by taking created flesh; that, since all men were under sentence of death, He, being other than them all, might Himself for all offer to death His own body; and that henceforth, all having died in Him, the word of that sentence might be accomplished, (for all died in Christ,) and that all through Him might thereupon become free from sin and from the curse which came upon sin, and might truly abide for ever, risen from the dead and clothed in immortality and incorruption. For, the Word being clothed in the flesh, as has many times been explained, every wound which the serpent had inflicted was absolutely staunched; and whatever evil sprang from the motions of the flesh henceforth was cut away, and with these death also was abolished, the companion of sin, as the Lord Himself says, The prince of this world cometh, and findeth nothing in Me; and For this end was He manifested, as John has written, that He might destroy the works of the devil. And these being destroyed from out the flesh, we all were thus liberated as regards our relationship with that flesh, and henceforward are joined, even we, to the Word. And being joined to God, no longer have we earth for our home; but, as He Himself has said, where He is there shall we be also; and henceforward we shall fear no longer the serpent, for he was brought to nought when he was assailed by the Saviour in the flesh, and heard Him say, Get thee behind Me, Satan, and thus he is cast out of paradise into the eternal fire. Nor shall we have to watch against woman [Note 7] seducing us, for in the resurrection they neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the {340} Angels; and in Christ Jesus it shall be a new creation, and neither male nor female, but all and in all Christ; and where Christ is, what fear, what danger can still happen? But this would not have come to pass had the Word been a creature; for with a creature the devil, himself a creature, would have ever continued the battle, and man, being between the two, had been ever in peril of death, not having one in whom and through whom he might be joined to God and delivered from all fear.

202. Whence truth shows us that the Word is not of the things which came into being, but rather is Himself their Framer. For therefore did He assume the body created and human, that having renewed it as its Framer, He might deify it in Himself, and thus might introduce us all into the kingdom of heaven after His likeness. For man had not been made god anew if joined to a creature, nor unless the Son were very God; nor had man stood in the Father's presence unless it had been His natural and true Word who stood clad in that body which belonged to man. And, as we had not been freed from sin and the curse, had it not been human flesh in its nature which the Word put on, (for we should have had nothing common with what was foreign,) so also man had not been made god, unless the Word who became man had in His nature been from the Father and true and proper to Him. For therefore was the union such, in order that He might unite what is man by nature to Him who is in the nature of the Godhead, and man's salvation and deification might be sure. Therefore, let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His Substance, deny also that He took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin; for in neither case had it been of profit to us men, whether the Word were not true and naturally Son of God, or the flesh not true which He assumed. But surely He took true flesh, though Valentinus rave; and {341 | ED. BEN. ii. 69-71.} the Word was by nature Very God, though Ario-maniacs rave; and in that flesh He has become the beginning of our new creation, He being created man for our sake, and having made for us that new way, as has been said.

203. The Word then is neither creature nor work; for "creature," "thing made," "work," are all one; and were He creature and thing made, He would also be a work. Accordingly He has not said, "He created Me as a work," nor "He made me with the works," lest He should appear to be in nature and substance a creature; nor, "He created Me to make works," lest on the other hand, according to the perverseness of the impious, He should be accounted as an instrument made for our sake. Nor again has He declared, "He created Me before the works," lest, as He really is before all, as an Offspring, so, if created also before the works, He should give one and the same sense to "Offspring" and to He created. But He has said with exact discrimination, unto or into the works; as if to say, "The Father has made Me into flesh, that I might be man,"—which again shows that He is not a work, but an offspring, for as He who comes into a house, is not part of the house, but is other than the house, so He who is created unto the works, must be by nature distinct from the works.

204. But if otherwise, as you hold, O Arians, the Word of God be a work, by what Hand and Wisdom did He Himself come into being? for all things that came to be, came by the Hand and Wisdom of God, who Himself says, My Hand hath made all these things; and David says in the Psalm, And Thou, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Thy Hands; and again, in the hundred and forty-second Psalm, I do remember the time past, I muse upon all Thy works, yea I exercise myself in the works of Thy Hands. Therefore, if by the hand of God the works are wrought, and it is written that all things were made through the Word, {342} and without Him was made not one thing, and again, One Lord Jesus, through whom are all things, and in Him all things consist, it is very plain that the Son cannot be a work, but He is the Hand of God and the Wisdom. This knowing, the martyrs in Babylon, Ananias, Azarias, and Misael, arraign the Arian impiety. For when they say, O all ye works of the Lord, bless ye the Lord, they recount things in heaven, things on earth, and the whole creation, as works; but the Son they name not. For they say not, "Bless, O Word, and praise, O Wisdom;" in order to show that all other things are both engaged in praise and are works; but the Word is not a work nor of those that praise, but is praised with the Father and worshipped and confessed as God, being His Word and Wisdom, and of the works the Framer.

205. This too the Spirit has declared in the Psalms with a most apposite distinction, the Word of the Lord is true, and all His works are faithful; as in another Psalm too He says, O Lord, how great are Thy works! in Wisdom Hast Thou made them all. But if the Word were a work, then certainly He as others had been made in Wisdom; nor would Scripture have distinguished Him from the works, nor, while it named the one as works, would have revealed Him as Word and proper Wisdom of God. But, as it is, distinguishing Him from the works, Scripture shows that Wisdom is Framer of the works, and not a work. This distinction Paul also observes, writing to the Hebrews, The Word of God is quick and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, reaching even to the dividing of soul and spirit, joints and marrow, and a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart, neither is there any creation hidden before Him, but all things are naked and open unto the eyes of Him with whom is our account. For behold He calls things which came into being "creation;" but the Son he recognises as the Word of God, as if He were other than the creatures. {343 | ED. BEN. ii. 71-72.} And again saying, All things are naked and open to the eyes of Him with whom is our account, He signifies that He is other than all of them. For hence it is that it is He that is judge, but each of all created things is bound to give account to Him. And so also, whereas the whole creation is groaning together with us in order to be set free from the bondage of corruption, the Son is thereby shown to be other than the creatures. For if He were creature, He too would be one of those who groan, and would need one who should bring adoption and deliverance to Himself as well as others. And if the whole creation groans together, for the sake of freedom from the bondage of corruption, therefore the Son is not of those that groan nor of those who need freedom, but He it is who gives sonship and freedom to all, saying to the Jews of His time, The servant remains not in the house for ever, but the Son remaineth for ever; if then the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed; from these considerations also it is clearer than the light, that the Word of God is not a creature but true Son, and by nature genuine, of the Father. Concerning then The Lord hath created Me a beginning of the ways, this, though in few words, is sufficient, as I think, to afford matter to the learned to frame more ample refutations of the Asian heresy.

Chapter 23.

Answer to objections from Scripture; sixthly, the context of Proverbs viii. 22, viz., 22-30

206. BUT since the heretics, reading the following verse, take a perverse view of it as well as of the preceding, because it is written, He founded Me before the world, namely, that this is said of the divinity of the Word and not of His {344} incarnate Presence, it is necessary, by explaining this verse also, to show their error.

207. It is written, The Lord in Wisdom hath founded the earth; if then by Wisdom the earth is founded, how can He who founds be founded? nay, this too is said after the manner of proverbs, and we must in like manner investigate its sense. The question is, "He founded Me" to be what? Does he mean "He founded Me" to be Son? or "founded Me" to become beginning and foundation of our new creation and renewal? This is the point. Let it be observed then, that here as before, He says not, "Before the world He hath made Me Word or Son," lest there should be a making and a beginning. For this, as before, we must seek before all things, whether He is Son, and on this point specially search the Scriptures; for this it was, when the Apostles were questioned, that Peter answered, saying, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the Living God. This also the father of the Arian heresy asked, as one of his first questions: If Thou be the Son of God; for he knew that this is the truth and the sovereign principle of our faith; and that, if He were the Son, the tyranny of the devil would have its end; but if He were a creature, He too was no more than one of those descended from that Adam whom he deceived, and he might make himself easy. For the same reason the Jews of the day were angered, because the Lord said that He was Son of God, and that God was His proper Father. For had He called Himself one of the creatures, or said, "I am a work," they had not been startled at the intelligence, nor thought such words blasphemy, knowing, as they did, that Angels too had come among their fathers; but since He called Himself Son, they perceived that such was not the note of a creature, but of Godhead and of the Father's nature. The Arians then ought, even in imitation of their own father the devil, to take some special pains on this point; and if {345 | ED. BEN. ii. 72-74.} He said, "He founded Me to be Word or Son," then to think as they do; but if He has not so spoken, not to invent for themselves what is not to be found.

208. For He says not, "Before the world He founded Me as Word or Son," but simply, He founded Me, to show again, as I have said, that not for His own sake but for those who are built upon Him does He here also speak, after the way of proverbs. For this knowing, the Apostle also writes, Other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ; but let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. And it must be that the foundation should be such as the things built on it, that they may admit of being well compacted together. Being then the Word, He has not, as far as Word, any beings such as Himself, who may be compacted with Him; for He is Only-begotten; but having become man, He has the like of man, of those namely the likeness of whose flesh He has put on. Therefore it is according to His manhood that He is founded, that we, as precious stones, may admit of building upon Him, and may become a temple of the Holy Ghost who dwelleth in us. And as He is a foundation, and we stones built upon Him, so again He is a Vine, and we knit to Him as branches,—not according to the Substance of the Godhead; for this surely is impossible; but according to His manhood, for the branches must be like the Vine, since we are like Him according to the flesh.

209. Moreover, since the heretics have such human notions, we may suitably confute them with human resemblances contained in the very matter they urge. Thus He saith not, "He hath made Me a foundation," lest He might seem to be made and to have a beginning of being, and they might thence find an audacious pretence for impiety; but, He hath founded Me. Now what is founded is founded for the sake of the stones which are raised upon it; it is not a random process, but a stone is first transported from the {346} mountain and set down in the depth of the earth. And while a stone is in the mountain, it is not yet founded; but when need demands, and it be transported, and laid in the depth of the earth, then forthwith if the stone could speak, it would say, "Now he has founded me, who has brought me hither from the mountain." Therefore the Lord also did not when founded take a beginning of existence; for He was the Word before that; but when He put on our body, which He severed and took from Mary, then He says, He hath founded Me; as much as to say, "Me, being the Word, He hath enveloped in a body of earth." For so He is founded for our sakes, taking on Him what is ours, that we, as incorporated and compacted and bound together in Him through the likeness of the flesh, may attain unto a perfect man, and abide immortal and incorruptible.

210. Nor let the words before the world and before He made the earth and before the mountains were settled disturb any one; for they very well accord with founded and created; for here again allusion is made to the Economy according to the flesh. For though the grace which has come to us from the Saviour has but lately appeared, as the Apostle says, and took place when He came among us, yet this grace had been prepared even before we came into being, nay, before the foundation of the world; and the reason why, is excellent and wonderful. It beseemed not that God should counsel concerning us afterwards, lest He should appear ignorant of our future. The God of all then, creating us by His own Word, and knowing our destinies better than we, and foreseeing that, though created good, we should in the event be transgressors of the commandment, and be thrust out of paradise for disobedience, He, being loving and kind, prepared beforehand in His proper Word, by whom also He created us, the Economy of our salvation; that though by the serpent's deceit we fell from Him, we might {347 | ED. BEN. ii. 74-76.} not remain altogether dead, but having in the Word the redemption and salvation which was afore prepared for us, we might rise again and abide immortal, when He should have been created for us a beginning of the ways, and when He who was the First-born of creation should become first-born of His brethren, and again should rise first-fruits of the dead.

211. This Paul the blessed Apostle teaches in his writings; for, as interpreting the words of The Proverbs before the world and before the earth He was made, he thus speaks to Timothy: Be partaker of the afflictions of the Gospel according to the power of God, who hath saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, but is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death and brought life to light. And to the Ephesians: Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus, according as He hath chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestinated us to the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to Himself. How then has He chosen us, before we came into existence, but that, as He says Himself, in Him we were represented beforehand? and how at all, before men were created, did He predestinate us unto adoption, but that the Son Himself was founded before the world, taking on Him that economy which was for our sake? or how, as the Apostle goes on to say, have we an inheritance, being predestinated to it, save that the Lord Himself was founded before the world, inasmuch as He had a purpose, for our sakes, to take on Him through the flesh all that inheritance of adverse judgment which lay against us, and henceforth to make us sons in Him? and {348} how did we receive it before eternal times, when we were not yet in being, but afterwards in time, save that in Christ was stored the grace which has reached us? Wherefore also in the Judgment, when every one shall receive according to his conduct, He says, Come, ye blessed of My Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world. How then, or in whom, was it prepared before we came to be, save in the Lord who before the world was founded for this purpose; that we, as built upon Him, might partake, as well-compacted stones, the life and grace which is from Him?

212. And this took place, as naturally suggests itself to the religious mind, in order, as I said, that we, rising after our brief death, may be capable of an eternal life, of which we had not been capable, men as we are, formed of earth, except that before the world there had been prepared for us in Christ the hope of life and salvation. Therefore good reason is there that the Word, who was to enter into our flesh, and to be created in it as a beginning of ways for His works, should withal be laid as a foundation, according as the Father's will was determined in Him before the ages, as has been said, and before land was, and before the mountains were settled, and before the fountains burst forth; that, though the earth and the mountains and the forms of visible nature pass away in the fulness of the present age, we on the contrary may not grow old after their pattern, but may be able to live after them, having the spiritual life and blessing which have been prepared for us before these things in the Word Himself according to election. For thus we shall be capable of a life not temporary, but may ever afterwards abide and live in Christ, since even before our own time our life had been founded and prepared in Christ Jesus.

213. Nor in any other was it fitting that our life should be founded, except in the Lord who is before the ages, {349 | ED. BEN. ii. 76-77.} and through whom the ages were brought to be; that, since that everlasting life was in Him, we too might be able to inherit it. For God is good; and being good always, He willed this as knowing that our weak nature needed the succour and salvation which is from Him. And as a skilled architect, proposing to build a house, anticipates also his repairing it, in case it should at any future time become dilapidated after building, and, as counselling about this, makes preparation from the first, and gives to the workman materials for a repair; and thus the means of the repair are provided before the house is built; in the same way, prior to us is the repair of our salvation founded in Christ, that in Him also we might be new-created. And the will and the purpose were ready before the world; but the work took place when the need required, and the Saviour came among us. For the Lord Himself will stand us in place of all things in the heavens, when He receives us into everlasting life.

214. This then is quite enough to prove that the Word of God is not a creature, but that the doctrine of this passage is concordant with orthodoxy. But since the passage, when scrutinised, has an orthodox sense in every point of view, it may be well to state what that large sense is; for perhaps many words may prevail with these men. Now to do this I must here recur to what has been said before, for what I have to say relates to the same proverb and the same Wisdom. The Word then has not called Himself a creature by nature, but has said in proverbs, The Lord created Me; and He plainly indicates a sense not spoken openly but latent, such as we shall be able to find by taking away the veil from the proverb. I do not shrink from calling it a dark saying; but a man of understanding, says the sacred writer, shall understand a proverb and the interpretation, the words of the wise and their dark sayings.

215. Now the Only-begotten and Auto-Wisdom of God {350} is Creator and Framer of all things; for in Wisdom hast Thou made them all, He says, and the earth is full of Thy creation. But that what came into being might not only be, but be good, it pleased God that His own Wisdom should condescend to the creatures, so as to introduce an impression and semblance of Its Image on all of them in common and on each, that what was made might be manifestly wise works and worthy of God. For as of the Son of God, considered as the Word, our word is an image, so of the same Son, considered as Wisdom, is the wisdom which is implanted in us an image; in which wisdom we, having the power of knowledge and thought, become recipients of the All-framing Wisdom; and through It we are able to know Its Father. For he who hath the Son; saith He, hath the Father also; and he that receiveth Me, receiveth Him that sent Me. Such an impression then of Wisdom being created in us, and being in all the works, with reason does the true and framing Wisdom take to Itself what belongs to Its own impression, and say, The Lord created Me for His works; for what the wisdom in us says, that the Lord Himself speaks as if it were His own; and, whereas He is not Himself created, being Creator, yet because of the image of Him created in the works, He says this as if of Himself. And as the Lord Himself has said, He that receiveth you, receiveth Me, because His impression is in us, so, though He be not among the creatures, yet because His image and impression is created in the works, He says, as if in His own person, The Lord created Me a beginning of His ways for His works. And therefore has this impression of Wisdom in the works been brought into being, that, as I said before, the world might recognise in it its own Creator the Word, and through Him the Father. And this is what Paul said, Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has showed it unto them: for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are {351 | ED. BEN. ii. 78-79.} clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made. But if so, the Word is not a creature in substance; but the wisdom which is in us, and so called, is spoken of in this passage in the Proverbs.

216. But if this too fails to persuade them, let them tell us themselves, whether there is any wisdom in the creatures or not? If not, how is it that the Apostle complains, For after that in the Wisdom of God the world by Wisdom knew not God? or how is it, if there is no wisdom, that a multitude of wise men are found in Scripture? for a wise man feareth and departeth from evil; and through wisdom is a house builded; and the Preacher says, A man's wisdom maketh his face to shine; and he blames those who are headstrong thus, Say not thou, what is the cause that the former days were better than these? for thou dost not inquire wisely concerning this. But if, as the Son of Sirach says, He poured her out upon all His works; she is with all flesh according to His gift, and He hath given her to them that love Him, and if this outpouring is a note, not of the Substance of the Very Wisdom and Only-begotten, but of that wisdom which is imaged in the world, how is it incredible that the All-framing and true Wisdom Itself, whose impression is the wisdom and knowledge poured out in the world, should say, as I have already explained, as if of Itself, The Lord hath created Me for His works?

217. For the wisdom in the world is not creative, but is that which is created in the works, according to which the heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handiwork. This if men have within them, they will acknowledge the true Wisdom of God; and will know that they are made really after God's Image. And, as some son of a king, when the father wished to build a city, might cause his own name to be printed upon each of the works that were rising, both to give security to them {352} that the works would remain, by reason of the mark of his name on everything, and also to make them remember him and his father from the name, and having finished the city might be asked concerning it, how it was made, and then would answer, "It is made securely, for according to the will of my father, I am imaged in every work, for there is a creation of my name in the works;" but saying this, he does not signify that his own substance is created, but the impression of himself by means of his name; in the same manner, to apply the illustration, to those who admire the wisdom in the creatures, the true Wisdom makes answer, The Lord hath created He for the works, for My impress is in them; and I have thus condescended for the framing of all things.

218. Moreover, that the son should be speaking of the impress that is within us as if it were Himself, should not startle any one, considering (for we must not care about repetition) that, when Saul was persecuting the Church, in which was His impression and image, He said, as if He were Himself under persecution, Saul, why persecutest thou Me? Therefore, (as has been said,) just as, supposing the impression itself of Wisdom which is in the works had said, The Lord hath created Me for the works, no one would have been startled; so, if He, the True and Framing Wisdom, the Only-begotten Word of God, should use what belongs to His image as about Himself, namely, The Lord hath created Me for the works, let no one, overlooking the wisdom created in the world and in the works, think that He created is said of the Substance of the Very Wisdom, lest, diluting the wine with water [Note 8], he be judged a defrauder of the truth. For Wisdom is Creator and Framer; but Its impression is created in the works, as the copy of an image.

219. And He says, Beginning of ways, since such wisdom {353 | ED. BEN. ii. 79-81.} becomes a sort of beginning, and, as it were, a rudiment of the knowledge of God; for a man entering, as it were, upon this way first, and keeping it in the fear of God, (as Solomon says, The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,) then advancing upwards in his thoughts and perceiving the Framing Wisdom which is in the creation, will perceive in It also Its Father, as the Lord Himself has said, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and as John writes, He who acknowledgeth the Son, hath the Father also. And He says, Before the world hath He founded Me, since in Its impression the works remain settled and eternal. Then, lest any, hearing concerning the wisdom thus created in the works, should think the true Wisdom, God's Son, to be by nature a creature, He has found it necessary to add, Before the mountains, and before the earth, and before the waters, and before all hills, He begets Me, that in saying, "before all creation," (for He includes all the creation under these heads,) He may show that He is not created together with the works according to substance. For if He was created for the works, yet is before them, it follows that He is in being before He was created. He is not then a creature by nature and substance, but as He Himself has added, an Offspring. But in what differs a creature from an offspring, and how it is distinct by nature, has been shown in what has gone before.

220. Moreover, if He proceeds to say, When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him, He must not be supposed to say this as if it was without Wisdom that the Father prepared the heaven or the clouds above; but this is what He says, "All things took place in Me and through Me, and when there was need that Wisdom should be created in the works, in My Substance indeed I was with the Father, but by a condescension to creatures, I was engaged in diffusing over the works My own impression, so that the whole world, as being in one body, might {354} not be at variance but in concord with itself." All those then who with an upright understanding, according to the wisdom given unto them, come to contemplate the creatures, are able to say for themselves, "By Thy appointment all things continue;" but they who make light of this, must be told, Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools; for that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God has revealed it unto them; for the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal Power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse. Because that when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, but served the creature more than the Creator of all, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

221. And they will feel some compunction surely at the words, For after that in the wisdom of God (in the mode we have explained above,) the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For no longer, as in the former times, has God willed to be known by a mere image and shadow of wisdom, that namely which is in the creatures, but He has made the true Wisdom Itself to take flesh, and to become man, and to undergo the death of the cross; that by their faith in Him henceforth all that believe may obtain salvation. However, it is the same Wisdom of God, which in the first instance by means of Its own Image in the creatures, (whence also it is said to be created,) manifested first Itself, and through Itself Its own Father; and afterwards, being Itself the Word, became flesh, as John says, and after abolishing death and saving our race, still further revealed Himself and through Him His own Father, saying, Grant unto them that they may know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent. {355 | ED. BEN. ii. 81-82.}

222. Hence the whole earth is filled with the knowledge of Him; for the knowledge of Father through Son and of Son from Father is one and the same, and the Father delights in Him, and in that joy the Son rejoices in the Father, saying, I was by Him, daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him. And this again proves that the Son is not foreign, but proper to the Father's Substance. For behold, not because of us has He come into being, as they say, nor is He made out of nothing, (for not from without did God procure for Himself a cause of rejoicing,) but the words denote what is proper and like. When then was it that the Father rejoiced not? but if He ever rejoiced, He too was ever, in whom He rejoiced. And in whom does the Father rejoice, except as seeing Himself in His proper Image, which is His Word? And though in sons of men also He had delight, on His finishing the world, as it is written in these same Proverbs, yet this too has a consistent sense. For even in this case He had delight, not with a joy which came to Him from without, but again as seeing the works made after His own Image; so that even this rejoicing of God is on account of His Image. And how too has the Son delight, except as seeing Himself in the Father? for this is the same as saying, He that hath seen He, hath seen the Father, and I am in the Father and the Father in Me.

223. Vain then is your vaunt, as is on all sides shown, O Christ's enemies, and vainly do ye trumpet forth [Note 9] and circulate everywhere your text, The Lord hath created Me a beginning of His ways, perverting its sense, and publishing, not Solomon's meaning, but your own comment. For {356} behold your meaning is proved to be but a phantasy; for the passage in the Proverbs, as well as all that is above said, proves that the Son is not a creature in nature and substance, but the proper Offspring of the Father, true Wisdom and Word, by whom all things were made, and without Him was made not one thing.

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Notes

1. Vid. the well-known passage in S. Ignatius, ad Eph. 19, where the Evil Spirit is said to have been ignorant of the Virginity of Mary, and of the Nativity and the Death of Christ; Orig. Hom. 6, in Luc. Basil (if Basil) Hom. in t. 2, App. p. 598, ed. Ben. and Jerome in Matt. i. 18, who quote it. Vid. also Leon. Serm. 22, 3. August. Trin. ix. 21. Clement, Eclog. Proph. p. 1002, ed. Potter.
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2. [ethos esti tei theai graphei] and infr. n. 251, p. 380. And [tes graphes ethos echouses], and Orat. iv. 27, 33; and elsewhere.
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3. Here the Greek idiom must be kept in view, which differs from the English. As the English comparative, so the Greek superlative implies or admits the exclusion of the subject of which it is used, from the things with which it is contrasted. Thus "Solomon is wiser than the heathen," implies of course that he was not a heathen: but the Greeks can say, "Solomon is wisest of the heathen," or according to Milton's imitation, "the fairest of her daughters Eve." Vid. as regards the very word [protos], John i. 15; and supr. p. 288, [ii. 30, ed. Ben.] also [pleisten e emprosthen exousian] 3 Machab. vii. 21. As in the comparative, to obviate this exclusion, we put in the word other (ante alios immanior omnes), so too in the Greek superlative, "Socrates is wisest of all the heathen." Athanasius then says in this passage, that "first-born of creatures" implies that our Lord was not a creature, whereas it is not said of Him "first-born of brethren," lest He should be excluded from men, but "first-born among brethren," where among is equivalent to other.
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4. He does not here say with Asterius that God could not create man immediately, for the Word is God, but that He did not create him without at the same time infusing a grace or presence from Himself into his creature so as to enable it to endure his external plastic hand; in other words, that it was created in Him, not as something external to Him (in spite of the distinction between [dia] and [en], in Illud super omnia).
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5. Only-begotten, when predicated of the Son, is a word of nature, and First-born a term of office. Hence the former was His from eternity, the latter only from creation.
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6. Vid. Append. Grace.
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7. i.e., as in the instance of Eve.
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8. Vid. pp. 26, 401.
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9. [enepompeusate]. "The ancients said [pompeuein] 'to use bad language,' and the coarse language of the procession, [pompeia]. This arose from the custom of persons in the Bacchanalian cars using bad language towards bystanders, and their retorting it." Erasm. Adag. p. 1158. He quotes Menander—[epi ton hamaxon eisi pompeiai tines sphodra loidoroi].
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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