ž 13. The Asiatic Writers

{242} We have seen how emphatically the Alexandrians, from first to last, are witnesses of the co-eternity of the Son, as Son, with the Father. This being their unanimous profession or understanding, it is, at first sight, natural to expect that writers in the other parts of Christendom will be found to profess the same doctrine, and to profess it as unequivocally. It is a reasonable expectation; because, as we have seen above, the writers in question are in such full agreement with the Alexandrians in the substance and in the details of their teaching on the subject of the Holy Trinity. Their silence on a twentieth point, it may be urged in their favour, after agreement with the School of Alexandria upon nineteen, may equitably, or even must reasonably, be supplied from the view which the Alexandrians actually take of the sacred dogma. Again, their own teaching on those nineteen points obliges us, it may be said, to think that in mere logical consistency with themselves, they really did hold that twentieth point, on which they happen to be silent. If they hold that our Lord is consubstantial with the Father, in accordance with the subsequent Nicene formula, if they hold our Lord to be an hypostasis, or to have a personality, whether they consider Him Word or Son, if they believe that distinct hypostasis to have existed from eternity in the unity of the Father, what room is there for difference between them and the {243} Alexandrians? What is the subtlety, which modern criticism can hit upon, to throw doubt upon what is so clear?

Such anticipations, I grant, are reasonable;—however, there is a silence which speaks; and there are subtleties which belong, not to the critic, but to the subject-matter of his criticism. Whether the silence, and whether the language, of the writers in question be such as to bear out what I have said of them, we have now to inquire.

I have adduced nine Alexandrians stating in one way or another, that the Divine gennesis is from eternity. No other Alexandrian can be found to speak otherwise. I am going to adduce as many writers from other parts of Christendom, and in like manner shall suppress none. Is it unreasonable to expect that all of them, or that some of them, will in one way or other say what the Alexandrians say? Will it not be a strange accident if a first eight all speak in behalf of a certain truth, and a second eight are all silent, or at least not distinct upon it, if the second eight held it as well as the first eight? That truth is, that the Word was the Son of God from eternity; does not the unanimity in speech and in silence on one side and on the other, go for something in proof, not only that those who all speak, held it, but also that those who are all silent, did not hold it?

What I want is that any one of those Asiatics and Westerns to whom I am now betaking myself, should say, in behalf of the eternal gennesis, what all, or almost all, the Alexandrians say. I want them to say with Gregory, "True Son of True Father, Eternal of Eternal;" or with Origen, in St. Augustine's language, "Semper gignit {244} Pater, semper gignitur Filius;" or with Dionysius, "The Son is [aeigennes];" or with Clement, "He is [anarchos arche];" or with Alexander, "Ever Father, ever Son;" nay, even with Athenagoras, that the Son at and after the era of creation was in the Father as well as from Him, and was its [idea] as well as its [energeia]. Nay, it would be something if I found them concordant in professing that the gennesis was [pro aionon] as well as [pro ktismaton]. How is it that, even before the Arian controversy, the Alexandrians abound in such statements, and the writers, to whom I am proceeding, during the same period, are so wanting in them?

This surely is a strong negative argument against their really holding what, as I have shown, they even do not profess to hold; but there is a positive argument against them also. They have a doctrine of their own; I do not mean that every one of them brings it out in fulness, but that it is one to which all of them contribute, and to which they one and all converge; for, as I thought it reasonable, when collecting testimonies on the doctrine of the Holy Trinity, to interpret one writer by another, when they evidently all belonged to one family of thought, so here too I consider I shall be able to show such an intrinsic and substantial agreement between these writers on the point in question, as to allow me fairly to take the incomplete and indirect statements upon it, one by one, to which they commit themselves, as complements and elucidations of each other.

Their doctrine then, which was consistent with their holding firmly the consubstantial and co-eternal unity of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity, was this:—that the {245} Word was with God from eternity; One with Him, yet distinct from Him, and not merely an attribute or power;—that He was in "corde" or "in utero Patris," till the universe was to be created, and then He was born in order to be its Creator; the external act by which God surrounded Himself with beings animate and inanimate, spiritual and material, being accompanied by a corresponding internal act in the Divine Essence. Thus the Alexandrian teaching was symbolized by the text, "Ego hodie genui te," "hodie" meaning eternity; and the opinion, which I am now inquiring into, is symbolized by the text, "Ex utero ante luciferum genui te;" the doctrine of the Syncatabasis and the Primogenitus, as I have described it, being held by all alike, whether at Alexandria or elsewhere.

It will be convenient, then, to reduce the doctrine of these Asiatics and Latins to these three heads: first, the Logos in the bosom of the Father, or (to use the philosophical word) Endiathetic, which I shall denote by the letter A; next, the Logos born to be a Son, or Prophoric, B; and, lastly, the Logos Prototocos, C.

Under the name of East I include the countries from Thrace to the borders of Egypt; the countries especially illuminated, in the middle of the fourth century, by Basil and Gregory Nazianzen of the school of Origen, who took up the work which Athanasius had so long carried on before them. And again, the writers of those countries, prior to the time of these Fathers, are such as these:—Ignatius, Polycarp, the writer to Diognetus, Justin, IrenŠus, Tatian, Theophilus, Methodius, and Eusebius. To these may be added, as a witness to the doctrine {246} taught him, (whether by Asiatics or Latin ecclesiastics, certainly not by Egyptians, for he seems never to have known them,) the Emperor Constantine.

Of these I put aside St. Ignatius, St. Polycarp, and St. IrenŠus from my inquiry. Neither Ignatius nor Polycarp indeed asserts the eternity of the Son; IrenŠus does, and his assertion of it, considering his relation to Polycarp, may fairly be taken to speak both for Polycarp and for Ignatius. It would be strange, indeed, if they could be supposed to hold any contrary doctrine, since they are rightly included in what may be called the Apostolic family; and that is why I contrast them with those who came after them whether of the East or the West. They are historically connected with each other; they have not the like historical connexion with others. That these two primitive saints and martyrs should not give expression to the doctrine of the eternity of the gennesis is not wonderful, considering how little we have of their writing, and that neither of them wrote about the Holy Trinity. Of IrenŠus it might be expected, because he writes at great length, and on a variety of heresies relating to the Object of our worship; and IrenŠus, as I have said, does make profession of it.

In contr. HŠr. iii. 20, he says, "Non tunc cœpit Filius Dei, existens semper apud Patrem;" and, ibid. ii. 55, fin. he speaks of the "semper co-existens Filius Patri."

Leaving those, then, who necessarily had the immediate tradition of the Apostles, and whose testimony, as far as given, concurs with that of the unanimous Alexandrian {247} School, with the authoritative decisions (as we shall see) of the Ante-Nicene Church, and with the doctors of the Fourth and Fifth centuries, let us inquire into the Asiatic writers who were between these two eras of St. Ignatius and of St. Augustine, and contemporaneous with the Alexandrians aforesaid.

But here, again, I must pass over Hermas too, be he a Greek or Latin author, for the same reason that also leads me to pass over St. Cyprian, because he nowhere treats theologically of our Lord, either as Word or as Son of God.

1. I begin, then, with the EPISTOLA AD DIOGNETUM; though neither can this beautiful fragment of a very ancient author give us clear information on the definite point which I am inquiring about. He says, speaking of the Logos:—

[Houtos ho ap' arches, ho kainos phaneis, kai palaios heuretheis, kai pantote neos en hagion kardiais gennomenos; houtos ho aei, semeron huios logistheis], c. 11. Certainly there is nothing here implying the Temporal Gennesis; on the contrary, the unknown writer will be maintaining the Eternal, supposing, with Origen, he understood by [semeron] the day of eternity. But I doubt if the context will admit of this interpretation of the word. Vid. Methodius, infra, p. 258. He seems to me to contrast [houtos ho aei] with [semeron huios], and again the [huios] is evidently to be explained by the words [en kardiais gennomenos], as if he said, "He, the Word, was from everlasting, (A) and is now, as the first-born in the hearts of His holy people, the Archetypal Son (C)." {248}

I fear I must say that Bishop Bull is not as exact as I should wish him to be in his treatment of this passage. He paraphrases it thus:—"Habet Filius Dei novas aliquas et quasi recentes nativitates ... nunquam tamen revera novus et recens ipse fuit, sed Filius Dei Patris semper et ab Šterno extitit." Where does the author, whom Bull is paraphrasing, say one word of any "nativitas" except the "nova," which is mystical? where does he contrast a true generation with that mystical? where does he say that the Son of God is from eternity? He speaks of the Word, not of the Son, as eternal, unless indeed [semeron] means "eternal." This Bull does not pretend to show, yet he says, "Filius Dei … [ho aei] … aperte dicitur, nempe in Epistola ad Diognetum," &c., p. 168; ed. 1721.

2. JUSTIN suffers from a like misinterpretation. How can Bull not know that the point he has to prove as regards certain of his authors, is their witness to the eternal gennesis? He actually discusses the difficulty arising from the fact that a certain number of them seem to deny it. He has to prove the eternity of the Son, not the eternity of the Logos; yet, as in the case of the author last quoted, so as regards St. Justin Martyr, when Justin speaks of the eternal Logos, Bull substitutes the word "Son." He says, "Testimonia quŠdam ex eodem [Justino] adducemus, quŠ co-Šternam [tou logou], sive Filii Dei cum Patre suo existentiam apertissime confirment." F. N. iii. 2, init. ed. 1721. Then he proceeds to quote two passages which speak only of the eternity of the Logos, not of the Son. As to the latter of these, the word "Son," or its equivalent {249} does not occur in it at all; as to the former, Grabe, whose annotations have for their object to defend and to support Bull's hypothesis, candidly confesses that both text and stopping must be corrected in a direction adverse to the necessities of Bull's argument.

Now let us consider St. Justin's theology; for myself, indeed, though I have done my best to master what he has written, I distrust too much whether my eyesight or my power of sustained attention, to speak with the fullest confidence; but, speaking under correction of these defects, I will say, that, though I have found passages in the Alexandrians, I cannot find a single passage in St. Justin, in which the Son, or the only-begotten, or the gennesis, is declared to be from everlasting, except in such phrases as "before all creatures," which are short of the directness of the Alexandrian School.

(1.) The following is the passage, on which Bull principally relies in proof of St. Justin's taking the orthodox view of the point in question. I quote with Grabe's correction and stopping, introducing the three letters, which I have assigned as notes for the Endiathetic Word, the Prophoric, and the Primogenitus respectively.

[Ho huios ekeinou, ho monos legomenos kurios huios, ho logos pro ton poiematon, kai sunon, (A)—kai gennomenos, hote (B) ten archen di' autou panta ektise kai ekosmese (C).] Apol. ii. 6. Grabe's Latin runs: "Verbum ante omnes creaturas et coexistens (Patri); et nascens, quando [non quoniam ...] primitus cuncta per eum condidit et ornavit." p. 170. It is observable Justin does not even use the phrase [pro aionon], but [pro ton poiematon]. {250}

There is no mention in this passage of the eternity of the gennesis; rather it is said to have taken place when the world was to be created. Nor does Bull's second passage or collation of passages, to the effect that our Lord was the "I am" of the burning bush, avail better for his purpose; vid. ad GrŠc. 21, Apol. i. 63, and Tryph. 60. Doubtless our Lord is from eternity, and Justin believed Him to be the One True God; but I am looking for a categorical passage declaring that the Son always existed as the Son; such as Origen's "the Only-begotten Word, ever-coexisting with Him," or "Who dares say, 'Once the Son was not?'" I will set down some other passages of Justin; none of them, I think, rise above the level of the foregoing. I have no doubt of his holding the co-eternity and consubstantiality of the Word; but does he anywhere profess the everlasting gennesis?

(2.) [Iesous Christos, monos idios huios toi theoi gegennetai. logos autou huparchon, kai prototokos kai dunamis]. Apol. i. 23.

(3.) [Huios ... hos, kai logos prototokos (C) on tou theou, kai theos huparchei]. Ibid. 63.

(4.) [Archen, pro panton ton ktismaton, ho theos gegenneke dunamin tina ex heautou logiken, (B) hetis kai doxa kuriou hupo tou pneumatos tou hagiou kaleitai, pote de huios, pote de sophia, pote de angelos, pote de theos, pote de kurios kai logos ... echein gar panta prosonomazesthai, ek te tou huperetein toi patrikoi boulemati (C) kai ek tou apo tou patros thelesei gegennesthai (B). [All' ou?] toiouton hopoion kai eph' hemon genomenon horomen; logon gar tina proballontes, logon gennomen, ou kat' apotomen, hos elattothenai {251} ton en hemin logon proballomenoi, kai hopoion epi puros horomen allo ginomenon], &c. &c. Tryph. 61.

The Benedictine Editor who follows Bull in his explanations, fully admits that St. Justin is not here speaking of an eternal gennesis, but of one before and in order to creation; at the same time, with Bull, he will not allow that Justin speaks of a real, but of a figurative and improper gennesis. Where does Justin speak of any other gennesis but this temporal one? and what grounds are there for saying this is not real and natural?

(5.) [Touto to toi onti apo tou patros problethen gennema, (B) pro panton ton poiematon sunen toi patri kai toutoi ho pater prosomilei (A) ... arche (C) pro panton ton poiematon tout' auto kai gennema hupo tou theou egegenneto]. 62.

(6.) [Prouparchein theon onta pro aionon (A), touton ton Christon, eita kai gennethenai anthropon genomenon hupomeinai]. Ibid. 48.

(7.) [Huion auton legontes, nenoekamen, kai pro panton poiematon, apo tou patros dunamei autou kai boulei proelthonta] (B). Ibid. 100.

(8.) [Monogenes gar, hoti en toi patri ton holon houtos, (A) idios ex autou logos kai dunamis gegenemenos, (B) kai husteron anthropos dia tes parthenou genomenos]. Ibid. 105. This is a near approach to the statement which I am looking for. To say that "the Word was born" is like saying that the birth was from everlasting, for the Word is eternal; still, St. Justin may have meant "that the Word was born into Sonship or to become a Son;" that is, became the Logos Prophoricus. In like manner, above, (n. 3, p. 250,) he speaks of [logos prototokos]; where Bishop Kaye would {252} interpose [kai] unnecessarily. Vid. also above, p. 251, [logon gennomen]. And Tatian, [ho logos gennetheis], and Theophilus, [tou logon egennese prophorikon], infra, p. 253, 4, &c.

(9.) [Epalaisen Iakob meta tou phainomenou men, ek tou tei tou patros boulei huperetein, theou de, ek tou einai teknon prototokon ton holon ktismaton] (C). Ibid. 125.

(10.) [Ten dunamin tauten gegennesthai apo tou patros, dunamei kai boulei autou, all' ou kat' apotomen, hos apomerizomenes tes tou patros ousias], &c. Ibid. 128.

I have referred to this passage, because it is contains an avowal of the HomoŘsion, as supr. n. 4.

In none of the above passages is the gennesis said to be [aei], from eternity; nay, it is not even said to be "before all time," [pro aionon]; the idea commonly in Justin's mind is creation, and the birth of the Son "before creation," [pro ton ktismaton]. In the one passage, in which he speaks of "before ages" supra (6), he is not speaking of our Lord's gennesis, but of His Divinity. There is nothing to show that he confines [prototokos], as Athanasius, to denote a word of office. His usual word to express the Son's ministration is rather [huperetes], [huperetein].

3. TATIAN, the disciple of Justin, is far more explicit in his statement of that doctrine which is not altogether foreign to the theology of his master. I am obliged to make a long quotation from him:—

[Theos ho kath' hemas ouk echei sustasin en chronoi, monos anarchos on, kai autos huparchon ton holon arche; pneuma ho theos ... Theos en en archei, ten de archen logou dunamin pareilephamen. ho gar despotes ton holon, autos huparchon tou {253} pantos he hypostasis, kata men ten medepo gegenemenen poiesin monos en; katho de pasa dunamis, horaton te kai aoraton autos hypostasis en; sun autoi ta panta (sun autoi gar) dia logikes dunameos autos kai ho logos, hos en en autoi, (A), hupestese. Thelemati de tes haplotetos autou [at His absolute will] propedai logos [vid. [helato], Sap. xviii. 15.] (B). ho de logos, ou kata kenou choresas [i.e. creating as He went forward] ergon prototokon tou patros ginetai (C). touton ismen tou kosmou ten archen. gegone de kata merismon, ou kat' apokopen; [with a participation of God, not a separation;] to gar apotmethen tou protou kechoristai, to de meristhen, oikonomias ten hairesin proslabon, [as taking upon itself the office of an economy] ouk endea ton hothen eileptai pepoieken. hosper gar apo mias dados, &c. &c., houto kai ho logos, proelthon ek tes tou patros dunameos, ouk alogon pepoieke ton gegennekota. kai gar autos ego lalo, (B) kai ... diakosmein ton en humin akosmeton hulen proeiremai. (C) kai, kathaper ho logos en archei gennetheis, (B) antegennese ten kath' hemas poiesin (C), autos heautoi ten hulen demiourgesas, (C) houto kaigo, &c. ... Logos gar ho epouranios, pneuma gegonos apo tou patros, kai logos ek tes logikes dunameos, (A) kata ten tou gennesanto (B) auton patros mimesin, eikona tes athanasias ton anthropon epoiesen], (C) &c. contr. GrŠc. 4-7.

In this passage, which displays a force and clearness superior to Justin's, Tatian follows his master in professing the HomoŘsion, by his use of Justin's illustration of the "fire from fire." This illustration, too, shows that, in what he says of the procession of the Logos, he is speaking of a real and proper gennesis, not an allegorical, while at {254} the same time, as Maran the Benedictine editor admits, he is evidently speaking of a temporal gennesis. It is observable that he does not use the word "Son" once.

The words in the last sentence, [logos ho epouranios, pneuma gegonos apo patros], call for a remark. They may be thought to imply that the (everlasting) Word was begotten, which would be an eternal gennesis, or at least they identify the two ideas of Word and Son, so that either the Word is but temporal, or the Son is eternal. However, I should translate the words [logos pneuma gegonos] (and the [logos gennetheis],) as I have translated Justin's [logos gegenemenos] (n. 8, p. 251, 2, and infra, p. 283) of "the Prophoric Word." It must be allowed, indeed, since, according to the remark of Dionysius of Alexandria, our words are in some sense our children, that the everlasting Word is, as such, in some sense a Son of God, and so far the gennesis in Justin's sense is eternal. This admission, however, does not exclude its being temporal more exactly, if, as I think, these Fathers considered our Lord's gennesis as a process. From eternity He was conceived, as if "in utero," and before time and creation He was born. He was not born from eternity.

With Athanasius Tatian connects the title "First-born" with the Word's work of creating and informing all things; in calling the First-born Himself a work, he has the sanction of St. Athanasius and St. Thomas, whom I have quoted above. The phrase [proslabon ten hairesin] suggests the voluntariness of His Syncatabasis, an idea which I do not find in Justin, who seems rather to make the [oikonomia] or [huperesia] to belong to our Lord's Nature; {255} but I have softened the harshness of this notion, supr. "On the temporal procession."

His [kata ten mimesin] is wrong theology, as I have noted above, when referring to St. Methodius and Novatian, supr. p. 219. It connects his view of doctrine with that of writers, who, historically, have no relations with him; as his emphatic start, "God was alone," will be presently seen to connect him with Novatian, St. Hippolytus and Tertullian.

Tatian at length fell into heresy; but it was not a heresy affecting his belief in the Holy Trinity; and it was after his writing the treatise from which the above extracts are made.

4. ST. THEOPHILUS writes with more authority than Justin or Tatian. He was a bishop, and of the great see of Antioch, being the sixth in descent from St. Peter. His testimony is in point of distinctness an advance upon Tatian's, as Tatian's is upon St. Justin's.

[Ex ouk onton ta panta epoiesen. ou gar ti toi theoi sunekmasen; all' autos heautou topos on, kai anendees on, kai huperechon pro ton aionon, ethelesen anthropon poiesai hoi gnosthei; toutoi oun proetoimase ton kosmon; ho gar genetos kai prosdees estin, ho de agenetos oudenos prosdeitai. echon oun ho theos ton heautou logon endiatheton en tois idiois splanchnois (A), egennesen auton meta tes heautou sophias exereuxamenos pro ton holon (B). Touton ton logon eschen hupourgon ton hup' autou gegenemenon, kai di' autou ta panta pepoieken. houtos legetai arche, hoti archei kai kurieuei panton ton di' autou dedemiourgemenon (C). Houtos oun on pneuma theou, kai arche, kai sophia, kai dunamis hupsistou, katercheto eis tous {256} prophetas, k.t.l. ... ou gar esan hoi prophetai hote ho kosmos egineto; all' he sophia he en autoi ousa he tou theou (C) kai ho logos ho hagios autou ho aei sumparon autoi] (A). ad Autol. ii. 10.

Again: [ho logos ho tou theou, hos esti kai huios autou ... hos aletheia diegeitai, ton logon, ton onta diapantos endiatheton en kardiai theou (A). pro gar ti ginesthai, touton eiche sumboulon, heautou noun kai phronesin onta, hopote de ethelesen ho theos poiesai hosa ebouleusato, touton ton logon egennese prophorikon (B), prototokon pases ktiseos (C), ou kenotheis autos tou logou, alla logon gennesas, kai toi logoi autou diapantos homilon ... theos oun on ho logos, kai ek theou pephukos, k.t.l.] Ibid. 22.

Here, as in the foregoing authors, there is a clear expression of a belief in the HomoŘsion; our Lord is in the Father's [idiois splanchnois, en kardiai theou, endiatheton, ek theou pephukos], &c. &c. And, moreover, in such expressions, as in the passage of Tatian, we have the plain proof that the gennesis thus spoken of is a real proper gennesis, and not a metaphorical; for if metaphorical, there was nothing in it to call for these phrases which insist on His proceeding from the very [ousia] of God. Moreover, in Theophilus the philosophical words, Endiathetic and Prophoric, at length come to the surface, which are implied as ideas in Justin and Tatian, as also in Hippolytus and others, as we shall see infra. Further, Theophilus knows of no other gennesis but the temporal, for he confines the idea of gennesis to the Word's becoming prophoric; [hopote ethelesen poiesai, egennese prophorikon]. And the phrases [en splanchnois, en kardiai] are to be remarked, in connection with the "ex utero" of {257} Psalm 109, on which I have already insisted; and still more so with the singular word [sunekmasen]. God is always from eternity in His perfection or maturity; "but," says Theophilus, "nothing was in its maturity with God;" in other words, the Logos was [en kardiai theou], but had not yet attained that perfection which took place when He became prophoric, or was born into Sonship. This idea will be further illustrated when we come to consider the doctrine of St. Hippolytus. I understand Theophilus's word [hupourgos] of the Syncatabasis, though it is a less honourable title than Justin's [huperetes], and perhaps than the [pais] of Athenagoras and Hippolytus, and far below the dignity of [prototokos]. However, it is corrected, if it needs correction (for Athanasius seems to use it, Orat. ii. 22), by the words [archei] and [kurieuei] which follow, and by [sumboulos], which also strongly expresses the Word's personality; vid. also [boethos], ad Autol. ii. 18. Also, it must be observed that he uses the phrase [pro ton aionon] for the divine eternity, as Justin, supr. pp. 252.

5. ST. MELITO was Bishop of Sardis in the latter part of the second century. There is nothing in what remains of him specially bearing upon the subject before us; it may be noted, however, that twice he uses the phrase "before the ages;" viz. [pro ton aionon] (Routh, Relliqu., t. i. p. 112) and [proaionios] (ibid. p. 116), and in both places in the sense of eternity (as being applied to the Word's divinity), with Justin and Theophilus.

6. ST. METHODIUS, bishop, first of Patara in Asia {258} Minor, then of Tyre, is best known as having written against Origen, though he agrees with him, as we have seen, in those representations of the ministrative office of the Son and Spirit, which I have had to explain. There is a passage in his Convivium Virginum which is asserted on all hands as decisive of his adhesion to the doctrine of the eternal gennesis; it is as follows:—

"Those who are receiving the illumination [of baptism] [photizomenoi], receive the lineaments, features, and manly aspect of Christ, the resemblance of the Word being stamped upon them ... [Hence] the oracular voice from above from the Father Himself to Christ, on His coming for the purification of water in the Jordan. 'Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten Thee.' He declared that He was His Son without the mention of limit or time, [aoristos kai achronos. 'Ei' gar autoi ephe, kai ou 'gegonas'; emphainon mete prosphaton auton tetuchenai tes huiothesias, mete au prouparxanta meta tauta telos eschekenai, alla progennethenta kai esesthai kai einai ton auton. to de, Ego semeron gegenneka se, hoti proonta ede pro ton aionon en tois ouranois, eboulethen kai toi kosmoi gennesai, ho de esti, prosthen agnooumenon gnorisai]. Conviv. viii. 9, ap. Galland, t. 3, p. 719.

In this passage it is certainly said that the Son "is," not "was made;" that He is the Son without limit of time; that He has not merely obtained a Sonship recently, which will one time come to an end, but that, whereas He was before the ages in heaven, and was afore-begotten, so He will ever be in existence, and so is He one and the same. But granting all this, I am not sure in these statements {259} of any implication of the eternal gennesis. Methodius seems to me to say that "'today' is the day of the Church, during which incessant regenerations take place, of which the Son (who is prior to the Church, nay, prior to all creation, as having no beginning in time, and who will outlive the Church) is the great Archetype, ever coming to the birth, ever coming into the world, for the world's illumination." This, indeed, is nothing else than the doctrine of "the First-born," applied, as in Rom. viii. 29, Hebr. i. 6, Apoc. i. 5, to the new creation. The concluding words "to beget Him to the world, that is, to manifest Him who was before unknown," are parallel to passages in Justin, Tryph. 88, fin. and Epist. ad Diogn. supr., and Hippolytus, infr. p. 270, fin.

7. THE EMPEROR CONSTANTINE has not even the authority of a layman in the Church; but what he so confidently states on the subject of the Divine Sonship, he certainly did not invent himself, but learned from some high persons in the East or West. It will be found substantially to agree with the doctrine of Tertullian as stated above, p. 232, in affirming that God is not a Father from all eternity, except in posse, not actually. "Our most religious Emperor," says Eusebius, "did in a speech prove, that the Son of God was in being even according to His divine gennesis, which is before all ages (A); since, even before His actual gennesis ([prin gennethenai en energeiai]) (B), He was in virtue ([en dunamei]) with the Father without gennesis ([agennetos]), the Father being always Father, as always King and always Saviour." ap. Athan. Decr. fin. {260}

8. And now, by way of contrast, let me refer to the doctrine of that Eusebius who reports to us the theology of Constantine. While I cannot deny that such a theological view, in which the Emperor was sheltered by passages of such orthodox writers as I have named, might easily be misunderstood in an Arian or Semi-Arian sense,—both the heretical party and the authors I have cited speaking of the Son as being formally born, upon and in order to, the creation of the universe, and as if not generated from eternity,—after all there is this vast difference between the heretics and these Catholic Ante-Nicenes, that the Catholics were firm believers in the HomoŘsion, and the others, on the contrary, rejected it. The latter considered that the Son had an individual existence as each of us has, and was in all respects separate from the Father as we are, whether, as Arians, they thought Him a mere creature, or, as Semi-Arians, a second and secondary God. The Catholics, on the other hand, some of whom I have cited and some I have still to cite, testify in set terms to the consubstantiality or simple individuality of Father and Son. I have already given the statements of the Asiatic Ante-Nicenes; now I will show this contrast as exhibited in the language of Eusebius, a Semi-Arian, using for the purpose some of the passages brought together by Petavius, de Trin. i. 11.

He lays it down, for instance, as revealed truth, that "after the unoriginate and ingenerate essence ([ousian]) of the God of the Universe, which is incommunicable and above all comprehension, there is a second essence and divine Power, the origin of all created things, and first {261} subsisting, and begotten ([gegenemenen]) from the First Cause ([aitiou]), the Word, Wisdom, and Power of God." PrŠp. vii. 12, p. 320, ed. 1688;

That "The Only-begotten of God Himself, and First-born of the universe, the origin of all things, exhorts us to account His Father alone as true God, and to worship Him alone." ibid. vii. 15, p. 327;

That "though the Radiance co-exists with the Light ([sunuparchei]) and is its complement (for without its Radiance Light could not subsist), and co-exists together with it and in itself ([kath' hauto]), the Father exists before the Son ([prouparchei]) and subsists before the Son's making ([tes geneseos autou prouphesteken]), in that He alone is ingenerate ([agenetos]); and, whereas the Radiance does not shine forth by any choice on the part of the Light, but by a certain inseparable accident of its essence, the Son subsists the Image of the Father by His purpose and choice." Demonstr. iv. 3, p. 147, 8;

That "he who holds two hypostases is not obliged to admit two Gods; for we do not determine them to be equals in honour;" that "the Son Himself teaches us that His Father is His God;" whereas "the Son, when He Himself is compared to the Father, will not be God of His Father, but ... the Image of the Unseen God, &c., and He venerates, worships, and glorifies His own Father as being God." contr. Marcell. ii. 7, p. 109.

I have brought together other passages of Eusebius, in annotating on Athanasius, vol. ii. art. Eusebius.

If the Semi-Arian Eusebius thus vitally differed {262} from Justin and Theophilus, much more did the Arians [Note].

9. Nor is this all. It must be considered that the authors whom I have cited, whatever be the authority of some of them, cannot be said to speak ex cathedra, even if they had the right to do so; and do not speak as a Council may speak. When a certain number of men meet together, one of them corrects another, and what is personal and peculiar in each, what is local or belongs to schools, is eliminated. Now we have the voice of a great assembly of Asiatic Bishops in the third century speaking on the very doctrine of our Lord's Divinity; I mean the Council or Councils of Antioch, between A.D. 264 and 272. One of these Councils was attended by as many as seventy Bishops. They were convened at Antioch against the heresiarch Metropolitan, Paul of Samosata, and they published an exposition of the Catholic dogma, which supplies us with that very article of it which I desiderate in Tatian and the others. I cannot deny, and indeed I cannot but be pleased, that the Alexandrians had a share in this good work. Dionysius, their then Bishop, was the first to move against Paulus; he wrote against him, and, when he could not attend the Council, as being in his last illness, he sent {263} a formal letter to its Fathers, from his death-bed, on the grave subject of their meeting. Moreover, the most eminent members of the Council were closely connected with Origen as a teacher; Athenodorus and Gregory were his converts, and for many years his pupils; and Firmilian, if not his pupil, as Gregory Nyssen affirms, at least was his warm friend and patron, and studied the Scriptures with him in a long sojourn in Palestine. I do not say this, however, to weaken the authoritative force of the Council as an Asiatic body, though doubtless this Alexandrian element was of the greatest service in its deliberations.

Into their dogmatic Letter they introduce one of those plain cardinal words incompatible with the doctrine of the temporal gennesis, which I have looked for in vain as yet out of Alexandria. They speak of the Son, not merely as before all creatures, or ages, but absolutely as eternal. They say, "This Son, … knowing both in the Old and the New Covenant, we confess and preach as being begotten, the Only-begotten Son, Image of the Invisible God, First-born of all creatures, Wisdom and Word and Power of God, in being before ages, not in foreknowledge, but in substance and hypostasis Son of God ... Him (the Son) we believe, being ever with the Father ([sun toi patri aei onta]), to have accomplished the Father's purpose for the creation of the Universe." Moreover, as if protesting against the mischief done by the doctrine of the "prophoric Word," the "Word begotten into Sonship," they assert that He is "One and the same in substance." Routh, Reliqu. vol. ii. pp. 466, 468, 474. {264}

At the last of these Councils, one of which drew up the Letter in which these words occur, the homoŘsion which the Alexandrians had maintained, I confess, was withdrawn; but it was withdrawn on an objection of Paul's, for which it was thought necessary to consult, not for any reason arising out of the meaning and drift with which it was afterwards used at NicŠa. However, that withdrawal, whatever may be said of it, does not impair the force of what the Council did positively enunciate. What that enunciation brings home to us is this,—that we may follow the facts of ecclesiastical history, whithersoever they lead us (as in this question of the incomplete utterances of early Saints,) without any misgiving that, in doing so, we shall be doing damage to the tradition of the early Church, as a witness in behalf of the faith of St. Athanasius and St. Augustine.

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I am not forgetful of the strong passages brought together by Cave in behalf of Eusebius's orthodoxy. I would gladly believe that he became more orthodox after the Nicene Council, at least upon a main point on which the Arian controversy turned. The passages most in his favour appear to be in his Laud. Constant., written ten years after the Council; but this is too large a subject for a note.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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