§ 14. The Western Writers

{265} The theological literature of the East in the first centuries can hardly be said to have suggested Arianism; but it was a sort of shelter for it, when it made its appearance. I shall have to speak in very much the same way of certain writers of the West during the same period, who were more copious and more able than the Orientals. St. Justin or St. Theophilus cannot pretend, in force of intellect or originality, to vie with Tertullian, or with Hippolytus in fertility or in authority.

The theological writers in the West during the period which I have taken in Asia and Egypt, (viz., down to the middle of the fourth century, to Eusebius and Athanasius inclusive), are St. Hippolytus of Rome, the Roman author of the lately discovered Elenchus Hæresium, Tertullian of Rome and Carthage, Novatian also of Rome; St. Zeno of Verona, St. Hilary and St. Phœbadius of France, and Lactantius and Victorinus of Africa.

Of the four Roman writers in this list, three were in direct variance with the Holy See on matters of discipline, which they maintained ought to be stricter than the Popes judged to be prudent. The earliest of these three seems to be the author of the Elenchus Hæresium, discovered some twenty or thirty years ago, who is so scandalous in his treatment of two contemporary Popes, Zephyrinus and Callistus; a learned and able writer, but fierce and reckless in his enmities, and incontrollable in {266} his temper. Another, the African Tertullian, is the most powerful writer of the early centuries. He is said to have lived in Rome, for many years apparently, and was there ordained Priest; then, when at length driven to his own country by the hostility of the Roman clergy, he set himself to inveigh against the laxity of morals which he considered to be tolerated by the Popes, and died in the profession of Montanism. The third is Novatian, a Roman priest, so highly placed and so specially respected, that, during the vacancy of the Holy See, he was chosen by the Roman clergy to be their spokesman in their correspondence with St. Cyprian of Carthage; a man of unblemished, or rather austere character, and dying for the Christian faith in the Valerian persecution. He too, scandalised by the relaxation of discipline in his day, became the author of the unhappy schism which goes by his name. His sectaries stood by the Catholics, and suffered with them for the cause of orthodoxy, during the Arian tyranny. He is said to be the first Anti-Pope, and to have contrived his own consecration by means quite unworthy of his high character; but, bearing in mind how Pope Callistus suffers from his unscrupulous adversary, I am slow to admit what may really be a party representation of him. He, as Callistus, has no opportunity of speaking for himself.

Greater still in reputation, without any slur upon his character or conduct (though some have attributed to him a temporary Novatianism some twenty or thirty years before Novatian) is Hippolytus. He stands, or rather stood, while his writings were extant, in point of {267} authority, range of subject, and ability, in the very first rank of theologians in the Ante-Nicene times, and perhaps has no rival at all, as a theologian, during that period, except his master, St. Irenæus. At present we have little more than fragments of his writings, and it is a mystery how Origen's works have come down to us, who has ever been in the shade, and not those of Hippolytus who has ever been in the brightest light of ecclesiastical approbation. A senator of Rome, as some consider, before he became a servant of the Church, he is said to have been a disciple of the holy Bishop of Lyons, and he followed him in being in succession Bishop, Doctor, and Martyr. Within a century of his death a church had been erected near the Basilica of St. Laurence in honour of a martyr of his name, and it became a popular shrine and resort of pilgrims; and there is reason for concluding that he was the Hippolytus to whom it was dedicated [Note 1]. I say so, because there it was that in the 16th century a marble statue of him was found, which is still to be seen in the Vatican, an historical portrait, as some consider, with a list of his works engraven upon the episcopal chair on which he is seated. He is the first commentator in extenso upon Scripture among Christian writers, and his annotations are said to have been used by St. Ambrose in his own Hexameron. He is on the Catalogue of theologians {268} given us by Eusebius, St. Jerome, Theodoret, and Leontius, and, together with St. Irenæus, is quoted largely by Theodoret in that writer's controversies with the heretics of his day. Moreover, Pope Gelasius, A.D. 500, uses him as one of his authorities in his work against the Eutychians, and Pope Martin in the Lateran Council of A.D. 649 appeals to him in his own condemnation of the Monothelites.

That a name so singularly honoured, a name which a breath of ecclesiastical censure has never even dimmed, should belong, as so many men think just now, to the author of that malignant libel on his contemporary Popes, which is appended to the lately discovered Elenchus, is to my mind simply incredible,—incredible, not simply considering the gravity of tone in what remains to us of his writings, and mainly indeed in the Elenchus itself, but especially because his name and his person were, as I have been pointing out, so warmly cherished at Rome by Popes of the fourth, fifth, and seventh centuries. Rome has a long memory of injuries offered to her majesty; and that special honours should have been paid there to a pamphleteer, as we now speak, who did not scruple in set words to call Pope Zephyrinus a weak and venal dunce, and Pope Callistus a sacrilegious swindler, an infamous convict, and an heresiarch ex cathedra, is an hypothesis which requires more direct evidence for its acceptance than has hitherto been produced. I grant that that portion of the work which relates to the Holy Trinity as closely resembles the works of Hippolytus in style and in teaching, as the libellous matter which has got a place in it is incompatible {269} with his reputation;—in the present discussion, however, it matters not what becomes of a difficulty which is mainly historical or biographical. Here I shall place him first among the Western writers, on account of the weight of his authority in early times, the clearness and terseness of his style, and the completeness of his doctrinal view. After him I shall proceed to his companions, Tertullian and Novatian.

1. HIPPOLYTUS, contr. Noetum, 10.

"God, existing ([huparchon]) alone, and having nothing contemporaneous ([sunchronon]) with Himself, purposed to create the world."

Existing alone; so Tatian, [monos anarchos, huparchon arche], supr. p. 253; and infr. p. 276, Tertullian, "Ante omnia Deus erat solus;" (vid. also Marcellus, [plen theou, ouden heteron en]. Euseb. supr. p. 24.)

"He conceived in thought ([ennoetheis]) the world (A); He willed, spoke, and made it. To Him forthwith presented itself the thing that came into being ([genomenon]) as He would."

Clement says, [he idea, ennoema tou theou; hoper hoi barbaroi logon eirekasi tou theou]. Strom. v. 3, ed. Potter. In Hippolytus, then, [ennoetheis] may perhaps refer to the Word as endiathetic.

"It is enough for us to know only this, that contemporaneous with God there was nothing besides Himself; and that He being sole ([monos]) was many ([polus]); for not Word-less (intellect-less), or Wisdom-less, or Power-less, or Thought-less ([abouleutos]) was He, (A) but all things were in Him, and He was the whole ([to pan])." {270}

"When He would, as He would, He manifested His Word (B), at seasons determined with Him [i.e. Himself], by whom He made all things (C). When He wills, He does; and when He has in mind, He performs; and when He speaks, He manifests; and when He moulds, He exercises wisdom ([sophizetai]). For all things that have come into being ([genomena]) He contrives, by means of Word (Reason) and Wisdom, by Word creating and by Wisdom embellishing. He did then as He would, for He was God."

"Embellishing" or "furnishing" is a reference to Gen. ii. 1, "So the heavens and the earth were finished, and [pas ho kosmos auton]," "et omnis ornatus eorum." So Justin and Tatian, supr. pp. 250, 253. And so Methodius, de Creatis, vii. ap. Galland, t. 3, p. 802.

"And of the things which were coming into being He begat ([egenna]) the Word to be His Leader, and Counsellor, and Operator ([archegon, sumboulon, ergaten])."

And so Theophilus, [egennesen ton logon, hupourgon, archen, sumboulon], &c., supr. p. 256.

"Which Word having in Himself invisible (A) He makes visible (B) to the world, during its process of creation ([ktizomenoi]). Speaking a first voice, and begetting Light from Light (B), He sent Him forth ([proeken]), a Lord to the creation ([kurion]).

Tatian, [propedai logos], supr. p. 253; and Theophilus, [archei ho logos kai kurieuei panton], supr. p. 256.

"His own Mind ([noun]), to Himself alone hitherto existing as visible (A), but to the world, that was coming into being, invisible, Him He makes visible, that, by becoming {271} manifest, the world might see Him and might thereby be sustained ([sothenai dunethei]) (C)."

This salvation or preservation through the presence and manifestation of the Word, is that indwelling virtue of the Primogenitus, on which Athanasius dwells in such various ways. The sight of Him is life or salvation to the Universe, as His incarnate birth is said by Methodius, supr. p. 258, to be a manifestation of the unknown.

"And thus there stood by Him Another (B). In saying Another, I do not say two Gods, but as Light from Light, or as water from a fountain, or as a ray from the Sun."

Here is the doctrine of the Monarchia, against which Eusebius offends and the holders of the Three [archikai hypostaseis]. Also the doctrine of the Homoüsion; whereas Eusebius, supr. p. 261, says, that the Father and Son are not like light and radiance, so far as this, that the Father can have been without the Son, and that the Son is not the necessary complement of the Father.

"There is one Power, that from the All-in-all ([ek tou pantos]); and the All is the Father, from whom there is a Power, the Word (A). And He is Mind ([nous]), which, progressing ([probas]) in the world (B), was manifested as the Minister ([pais]) of God (C). All things are through Him, and He alone from ([ek]) the Father." contr. Nöet. 11.

[Pais] is elsewhere too used in this sense by Hippolytus, as in de Antichrist. 3 and 61. It was by His Syncatabasis in the creation of all things that, though a [huios], the Word became the Primogenitus, or [pais theou]. The term also belongs to Him as incarnate, vid. Act. iv. 27-30.

Hippolytus presently adds:—[All' erei moi tis; xenon {272} moi phereis, logon legon huion … Ho makarios Paulos legei … ho theos ton heautou huion pempsas en homoiomati sarkos hamartias, … poion oun huion heautou ho theos dia tes sarkos katepempsen all' e ton logon, hon huion prosegoreue dia to mellein auton genesthai; … oute gar asarkos kai kath' heauton ho logos teleios en huios, kaitoi teleios logos on monogenes; outh' he sarx kath' heauten dicha tou logou hupostanai edunato, dia to en logoi ten sustasin echein. Houtos oun heis huios teleios theou ephanerothe]. Ibid. 15.

This passage is too important not to be set down in the Greek. Bull and others attempt to soften what is extreme in its statement, but they hardly can be said to do so with complete success. St. Theophilus, as supr. p. 255, says, that at the epoch of creation "nought" had attained the fulness of maturity but God, who was ever all-perfect, as if the Son, while "in utero Patris," had not arrived at His perfection. St. Hippolytus seems to carry this idea further, viz. that, as the Son was necessary as the hypostasis of His human nature, so again His human nature co-operated towards the perfection of His Sonship. Marcellus parallels Hippolytus's [dia to mellein auton genesthai] with his own [prophetikos], &c. supr. pp. 28-33.

I find one passage in Hippolytus in which he makes a statement which I had not found elsewhere except among the Alexandrians, and which ought to be recorded. In his Didascalia, ed. Fabric. part i. p. 246, we read [ho pro aionon monogenes]. There is a stronger passage in the Vienna Catena, ed. Fabr. ii. p. 29: [aei en toi idioi sunuparchon gennetori], &c. Neither of them is inconsistent with the doctrine of the "in utero." Also, it is difficult to trust {273} the superscription of names in such collections; e.g. in some of them Hippolytus is called "Bishop of Rome," vid. also supr. p. 88, note. I should add, I cannot accept as genuine the fragments contra Beronem et Helicem, as Bull and Fabricius do.

2. The author of the Elenchus, who comes next to be considered, writes upon the subject in discussion as if he had Hippolytus's treatise before him or by heart. He says:—

"God who is one, the first and only, and Creator and Lord of all things, had nothing contemporaneous with Himself" (x. 32, p. 334).

"Only," [monos]; as Hippolytus, Tatian, Tertullian, and Novatian. [sunchronon eschen ouden] is almost verbatim from Hippolytus.

"He then being the Only God and Universal, first having conceived in thought (A), begets,"—

[ennoetheis] as Hippolytus: [apogennai] brings out the idea of [ennoetheis], which I have suggested above is intended by Hippolytus to refer to the Endiathetic Word. The author proceeds to speak still more plainly,—

"Begets Him (B), not a logos as a mere utterance ([phonen]), but as being an Endiathetic [logismos]," (that is, a [dunamis], not an act,) "of the All-in-all ([tou pantos])." 33.

He who was begotten or born, or became a Son, was the aboriginal Logos or [logismos], that connatural indwelling Power called Logos, not a mere accidental, external sound, or voice from God. It was the Endiathetic Word, born into Prophoric action. He uses the [to pan], as Hippolytus, supr. p. 269.

"Him alone of all beings He begat: for Being the {274} Father Himself was, the gennesis from whom ([ex ou to gennethenai]) was the cause (of existence, [aition]) to those things which were coming into being (C). The Word was in Him, undertaking ([pheron]) the will of Him who begat Him (C), not being unskilled in the Father's conception ([ouk apeiros tes ennoias])."

Here seems to be the same shade of error which leads Methodius and others to speak of our Lord as a Son acting [kata mimesin tou patros]. The idea is continued in the words which next follow, in which too, as in St. Justin, the Son is spoken of as the "First-born of God," not "First-born of the Universe," as St. Athanasius would speak.

"For together with His going forth ([proelthein]) from Him who begat Him (B), having become His First-born (C), He has, as an utterance ([phonen]) in Himself, the ideas conceived in the Father's mind ([ennoetheisas en toi patrikoi]); whence, at the bidding of the Father ([keleuontos patros]) that the world should come into being, did the Word accomplish every separate portion of it, thus pleasing God (C) ... Whatsoever things God willed, did God make. These things He fashioned ([edemiourgei]) by His Word, nor could they become otherwise than they became ... And besides them He framed out of all composite substances the ruler of them all, [Adam?] fashioning him ([demiourgon], qu. [demiourgon]), not wishing to make him a god and failing, nor an angel (be not deceived) [Note 2], but a man. For had He wished to make thee a god, He could have done it; thou hast the Word {275} as the Archetype" [by which to frame such a hypothetical creature] ([echeis tou logou to paradeigma]); "but he wished to make a man, and a man He has made thee …"

I thus interpret [paradeigma] as characteristic of the [prototokos]; for if we translate it, "you see what He can do by the instance of what He did in the case of the Word," as if our Lord were not true God from the Father's substance, but a made god, we contradict the words that follow: "His Word is alone from ([ek]) Him ... therefore He is God, existing as the substance of God ([ousia huparchon theou])." This is the doctrine of the Homoüsion.

Lastly, he says :—[Ta panta dioikei ho logos ho theou, ho protogonos patros pais (C), he pro heosphorou phosphoros phone] (B).

He is [pais], servant or minister, as in Hippolytus, supr. p. 271, by reason of His Syncatabasis. [Pro heosphorou]; this seems to be his substitute for [pro ktismaton], a phrase which I do not find in this author, nor in Hippolytus: nor the phrase [pro ton aionon], except supr. p. 272; but I have not confidence enough in my own accuracy to assert a negative.

3. TERTULLIAN must have this credit given to him, that, as I showed above, he, among all the Ante-Nicene writers, is most accurate and explicit in his general statements of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity. Especially is he clear upon the Homoüsion. This is a merit which remains to him, into whatever extravagances he fell in other points; and it must be kept in view, much as we may lament his error on the particular question before us. {276}

I have already quoted from his Treatise against Hermogenes one passage, supr. p. 232, in which he lays down distinctly the proposition which, except on the hypothesis that the Eternal Logos was "generatus in Filium," is simply Arian; viz. "Fuit tempus cum Filius non fuit." In his treatise against Praxeas, he gives fuller expression to that tenet, and in singular accordance with the doctrine of Hippolytus and Theophilus: he says, c. 5-7:—

"Before all things God was alone; He Himself was world, place, and all things for Himself. He was alone, for there was nothing external to Him."

Here is that initial statement, which we have found, on starting, in Tatian and others, as to the aboriginal solitariness of God. And of His Self-sufficiency;—as the [autos heautou topos, anendees oe], of Theophilus, and the [to on en] of the Elenchus. Tertullian continues:—

"However, not even then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He had in His own Self, that is to say, his Reason (Ratio) (A). For God has Reason (rationalis Deus), and Reason was in Him before [all things]; and thus it was that all things were from Him. Which Reason is His Intelligence (Sensus)."

Bull (Def. F. N. iii. 10, p. 209) says that the Greek of sensus is [ennoia]. If so, Tertullian is pursuing the line of exposition taken by Hippolytus and the Elenchus, supr. pp. 269, 273.

"This Reason the Greeks called Logos, which also stands for our word Sermo (Word); and therefore it has become a custom with our people, translating roughly, to say that the Word was in the first beginning (primordio) {277} with God; whereas it is more exact to consider Reason more ancient. For God had not the Word (non Sermonalis Deus) from the beginning (B), but Reason (Rationalis Deus) (A), and that even before the beginning (principium); and because the Word Itself, as being informed (consistens) by Reason, evidences Reason to be prior, as being the Word's substance (substantiam suam)."

"Substantia sua," that is, the hypostasis, or substantial stay of the Word; as if the Word was by itself a manifestation, and Reason the reality in God. We may argue hence, Bull says, that Reason, being a substance, is a Person. This, indeed, Tertullian says distinctly presently, and says that the Word, as identical with Reason, is that Person, using the term Persona; but I do not see with Bull that the term substance or hypostasis means Person here, but stay, stay of the Word; in the same sense, as God is the hypostasis of creation.

"… With His Reason thinking and disposing (disponens), He made that to become His Word, (viz. Reason,) which by the Word He was exercising (B) … When you silently converse with yourself, this inward action you will observe is carried on by reason, which suggests to you a word for every movement of your thought and every stirring of your intelligence (sensus). Every act of thought is a word; every act of intelligence is reason ... Therefore the word is in some sense your double (secundus), by means of which you speak when you are thinking, and think when you are speaking. How much more fully then does this take place in God, {278} whose image and likeness you are even accounted (vid. Dionysius in Athan. de S. D. 23) ... Accordingly, I may without rashness lay down, first of all, that, even then, before the framing of the Universe, God was not alone, as having in Himself Reason, and the Word in Reason, so as to make that Word His Second (secundum a se) by exercising it within Himself (agitando intra se) (B)."

All this answers to the doctrine of the Logos Endiathetic and Prophoric; and this intrinsic agitation of which he speaks, is, as will appear lower down, the gennesis of the Word, the transition of the Ratio into the Sermo; and the very word "agitando," which is used literally, (not morally,) evidences, as I have said, that the radical error of these early theologians lies in their imperfect apprehension of the Nature of God, Its simplicity and Immutability, as if His Essence allowed of internal alteration.

"This force and disposition of the Divine Intelligence (vis et dispositio sensûs) is in Scripture signified also by the name of Wisdom; for what is wiser than the Reason or the Word of God? Hear then Wisdom, which had been laid deep (conditam) as a Second Person (A). First of all, 'The Lord created Me a beginning of His ways for His works; before He made the earth, before the mountains were placed, and before all the hills He begat Me.' That is to say, in His own Intelligence laying deep and begetting. Next, recognize in the passage Wisdom's presence with Him (assistentem) in this fact of Its being separated off from Him. 'When He was preparing the heaven,' he says, 'I was with Him … for {279} I was delighted every day with His Person.' … Then it is that the Word Himself takes His form (speciem) and His clothing (ornatum), His sound and voice, when God says, 'Let there be Light.' This is the perfect nativity of the Word (B)."

"Sophia assistens" is parallel to the [kai houtos paristato autoi heteros] of Hippolytus; and this expression, "stood by Him," or "was present to Him," answering to the [ho logos en pros ton theon] of St. John, separates off the doctrine of these Fathers from the Sabellianizers, such as those spoken of by St. Justin, or the party of Marcellus, or such as Praxeas, against whom Tertullian is writing, who, if Marcellus may be taken to represent them, were disposed to substitute [en toi theoi] for [pros ton theon], in order to obscure the personality of the Word, vid. supr. p. 24. Tertullian has spoken of the Ratio of God being "in semetipso." supr. p. 276.

For the right meaning of "the Lord hath created Me," I refer, supr. p. 205, to Athanasius.

"Haec est perfecta nativitas Sermonis:"—therefore that nativity was once imperfect. This reminds us of the [sunekmasen ouden autoi] of Theophilus; also of the [teleios huios] of Hippolytus, though he associates the Incarnation with [teleiotes]. The Second Person, according to them, had from the first, from eternity, the nature of a Son, even when Endiathetic or in utero, as Tertullian speaks presently, but that Sonship came to its perfection in His becoming, or as He became, prophoric.

Let me add that Phœbadius (ap. Galland, t. 5, p. 253) seems to be referring to Tertullian, and setting him right, {280} when he says "Haec est nativitas perfecta Sermonis, hoc est, principium sine principio." That is, the [anarchos arche] of Clement. Tertullian continues:—

"This is the perfect birth of the Word, while He proceeds from God, being laid deep (conditus) by Him first in order to the thought [of creation] under the name of Wisdom (A), then generated (B) to give effect [to that thought] (C)."

"Conditus" might almost be translated "conceived" in contrast with actual birth.

"Then generated to give effect to that thought, viz. 'when He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him,' [and] thereupon making God a Father to Himself [parem leg. patrem], by proceeding from whom He became a Son,—being First-born as generated before all, and Only-begotten as alone begotten from God, in a proper sense, from the womb of His heart, as the Father testifies, 'My heart has burst forth with a Word most good' (B)."

Here Tertullian, like Justin, understands the title of "First-born" to refer to the Divine Sonship, not like Athanasius to the Word's Syncatabasis. "Ex vulva cordis ipsius" answers to the [en tois splanchnois] and [en kardiai] of Theophilus, and the "cordis ejus nobilis inquilinus" of Zeno, and the "in gremio" and "in [metrai]" of Victorinus, as we shall find infra.

… "Nor need I longer insist on this point, as if the Word were not from God both under the name of Wisdom and Reason and of the whole Divine Mind and Spirit; who was made the Son of that God, from whom by going forth He was generated (B). You ask me, do I lay down that {281} the Word is some Substance formed (constructam) by the [Divine] Spirit and the carrying on [traditione] of Wisdom? Just so ... I say that nothing could have proceeded from God empty and void, inasmuch as not being put forth [prolatum] from what is empty and void, and that That cannot be without a substance which proceeded from so great a Substance, and has produced so great substances ... Whatever, then, was the Word's substance, That I call a Person, and for That I claim the name of Son; and, in acknowledging Him for a Son, I am maintaining that He is the Father's Second."

"The Father's Second," that is, a Reiteration of the Father, not a name, or quality, or act, but a substantial Person, as he has said all along.

Such is Tertullian's teaching, as clear and decided in character,—as grand, viewed as an exposition of Catholic Truth on the general doctrine of the Trinity,—as it is distinctly faulty as to one point, the Son's co-eternity, considered as the Son—the consequence of an error which has its root, I repeat, in his defective apprehension of the Divine Attributes.

4. NOVATION is commonly considered to be the author of the Treatise de Trinitate, as if on the authority of St. Jerome, but nothing depends on the Treatise being Novatian's, as in any case it is a work of the Ante-Nicene period.

"What shall we say then? Does Scripture set forth two Gods? How then does it say, that God is One? or is Christ not God?" &c. c. 30, p. 231, ed. Jackson.

Here is the same objection proposed, on the score of the {282} Monarchia, which we find in Hippolytus, supr. p. 271, and in Tertullian, adv. Prax. c. 4.

"God the Father is Founder and Creator of all things; alone without origin, the invisible, illimitable, immortal, eternal, and one God." c. 31, p. 236.

This is like the start of Tatian, Theophilus, Hippolytus, and Tertullian, supra.

"Out of whom, when He willed, The Word, His Son, was born," or "The Word was born to be a Son (B)," (Sermo Filius natus est.) In the former of these renderings he will agree in the use of terms with Tertullian; in the latter, Him, whom Tertullian calls Ratio before and Sermo after His birth, Novatian calls Sermo before it. In either rendering Novatian considers the gennesis temporal, for he says "quando voluit." So [hopote ethelesen], Theophilus, supr. p. 256, and Hippolytus, p. 269.

"Whom we understand to be not a mere voice, &c. ... but the substance of a virtue sent forth from God (prolatæ a Deo)."

"He then, whereas He is begotten from the Father, still is ever in the Father, [i.e. a parte ante]: I say 'ever in,' not as maintaining that He was not born, but that He was born. But we must pronounce Him to be ever in the Father, who is before all time, for no time can be assigned to Him, who is before time."

Here Novatian understands "before time" to mean "from eternity," with Justin and Melito, supr. pp. 251, 257, and Zeno, infra.

"For He is ever in the Father, or else the Father is not ever Father." Here Novatian implies that the Father {283} has been ever a Father, in opposition to Tertullian; but, since he has said above that the birth of the Son was "quando voluit Pater," which is inconsistent with eternity, I think it natural to take the words in one of those other senses which they admit, in which they are in harmony with the "quando."

For instance, Tertullian himself, though He denied that God was a Father from eternity, would probably or certainly allow that He was Father in posse, together with the Arian Theognis and the Emperor Constantine. And such an explanation or evasion receives some shelter from St. Thomas's solution of the parallel question about creation. "Actio (not merely the posse) Dei est æterna, sed effectus non est æternus." Vid. Sylv. in Quæst. 45, p. 344.

Also, if Novatian, as the other authors I have quoted considered that the Word's inherence in God before the gennesis was an existence "in vulva cordis ipsius," as Tertullian speaks, this would be assigning not only a potential, but actually an incipient Paternity to the Father from everlasting.

And further, it is plain that the very idea of "the Word" implies a filietas, and if the Word is eternal, so is the filietas. I have already referred to Dionysius, who says, "Words are our children," vid. Athan. de Sent. Dion. 23. Vid. the [logopator] of Marcellus and Photinus, supr. p. 23.

Novatian, then, might hold that the Father was Father from eternity, because there lay hid within Him He, who had the nature of a Son (both as being the Word, and as being the Son in the event), yet might hold also {284} that the actual gennesis or nativitas was temporal. He proceeds:—

"He then, when the Father willed, proceeded from the Father; and, whereas He was in the Father, He proceeded out of the Father; and, whereas He was in the Father, because He was out of the Father, henceforth (postmodum) He was with the Father, because He proceeded from the Father, namely, that Divine Substance, whose name is the Word (B)."

The "cum Patre" answers to St. John's [pros ton theon], John i. 1, and to Hippolytus's [paristato] and to Tertullian's "assistens;" and they all interpret St. John as speaking of the state of the Word, not before, but after the gennesis.

"Worthily is He before all things; but He is after the Father, since by Him all things were made, who proceeded from Him, at whose will all things were made (C). He was God, proceeding out of God, constituting the Second Person, after the Father, as being the Son, but not robbing the Father of His prerogative of being the One God," &c.

A passage presently follows so remarkable for beauty and completeness of statement, and for concurrence in the later theology, that I will quote it in the original:—

"Unus Deus ostenditur verus et æternus Pater; a quo solo hæc vis Divinitatis emissa, etiam in Filium tradita et directa, rursum per substantiæ communionem ad Patrem revolvitur. Deus quidem ostenditur Filius, cui Divinitas tradita et porrecta conspicitur; et tamen nihilominus unus Deus Pater probatur, dum gradatim reciproco {285} meatu illa Majestas atque Divinitas ad Patrem, qui dederat eam, rursum ab illo ipso Filio revertitur et retorquetur."

Here are the doctrines of the Consubstantiality and Coinherence.

5. LACTANTIUS is of no authority in himself any more than Constantine; nor should I cite him, if he stood alone. The force of his testimony lies in his being one of a number, who may be said to appeal and respond to each other. And in particular his doctrine is in its main points remarkably coincident with that of his fellow-Africans, Tertullian, Zeno, and Victorinus. He would seem then, not indeed in the details, but still in the substance of his statements, to be reporting what he learned from his ecclesiastical teachers. One idea he has, indeed, which must be original with him; I do not find it in the writers I have been enumerating, and it has just the appearance of a clever antithesis of his own or some other private person, by way of systematizing divine truths. He contrasts our Lord with the Archangel who fell, as if they had anything in common. "God," he says, "before He commenced this fabric of the world, produced (produxit) a spirit like to Himself (B), who was possessed (præditus) of the virtues of God the Father ... Then, He made" [he does not say "produced"] "another, in whom the nature (indoles) of his Divine origin (stirpis) did not remain. Accordingly, he was poisoned with his own envy, and passed over from good to evil." Instit. ii. 9, ed. 1748.

But here at least is the temporal gennesis in agreement with Tertulllian and the rest. {286}

"He was twice born; first in spirit, afterwards in flesh. Whence it is said in Jeremias, 'Before I formed Thee in the womb, I knew Thee.'" Inst. iv. 8.

Here again is the expression "in utero," though it directly applies to His human birth; and, as the other three Africans concur in using this image of the Divine Sonship, and among the Greeks Theophilus, we may suppose that Lactantius too, at least includes under it a reference to our Lord's heavenly as well as of His earthly nature. To the same effect he continues:—

"Also in the same prophet: 'Blessed He who was before He was born,' which has happened to no one else but Christ, who, being the Son of God from the beginning, is regenerated anew according to the flesh."

It would be obvious to take the birth spoken of in these words, "He was before He was born," of our Lord's human nature, were it not that it was a known formula in reference to His Divine Nature, the denial of which was anathematized at Nicæa. It is found also, with reference to our Lord's Divine Nature, long after the Nicene Council, in St. Hilary and St. Zeno, as we shall see infra. I do not say that Lactantius understands it in that sense in this passage. I quote the passage merely to give another instance of the common knowledge and use of the formula among Catholics. In respect to its admitting both an orthodox and a heterodox sense, it is somewhat parallel to the [mia phusis sesarkomene].

"Holy Writ teaches ... that that Son of God is God's Word (Sermo), or again, His Reason (Ratio) … Rightly is He called the Sermo and Verbum of God … {287} whom God conceived, not in the womb, but in the mind (non utero, sed mente)."

That is "in utero mentis," a figurative "uterus." It is to be observed, he uses the word "conceived," thus carrying out the idea of a birth, but there is nothing to show that he did not believe at least the conception to be from everlasting.

… "If any one wonders that it should be possible for God from God, by the putting forth (prolatione) of His voice and breath, to be generated, he will cease to wonder, when he has acquainted himself with the sacred voice of the Prophets." Ibid.

Here he speaks of the Sonship as commencing with that "prolatio vocis et spiritûs" which was introductory to creation, that is, of a temporal gennesis.

That, with the foregoing writers, he holds the Consubstantiality and the Coinherence, is plain from the following passage:—

"How is it, that, whereas we profess to worship one God, nevertheless we assert that there are two, God the Father and God the Son? ... Neither can the Father be without the Son nor the Son be separated from the Father ... Since then it is the Father who constitutes the Son, and the Son who constitutes the Father, there is One Mind to both of Them, one Spirit, one Substance; but the Father is, as it were, the exuberant Fount, the Son as if the stream that flows from it; the One is like the Sun, the other as the Ray ... When by the prophets one and the same is called the Hand of God, and the Power, and the Word, certainly there is no division between Them ... The One is as if {288} Two, and the Two as if One ... Rightly Each is called the One God; for, whatever is in the Father flows on to the Son, and what is in the Son comes to Him from the Father." Ibid. iv. 29.

6. ST. HILARY did not teach the same doctrine after his banishment into Phrygia, as he taught before it. When he returned, he taught, as in his work de Trinitate, that our Lord was Son from everlasting; but at first, as in his comment on the Psalms, he used the celebrated formula, which, in agreement with Tertullian, Novatian, and others, seems to imply that the gennesis was temporal. He always held the "Consubstantial," though he did not hear of the Nicene Council or Creed till thirty-one years after the Council was held. "Though I had been regenerated," he says, "and had continued some time in the Episcopate, I never heard the Nicene Faith till I was on the point of exile; but to me the meaning of Homoüsion and Homœüsion was suggested by the Gospels and Apostles." de Synod. 91. In him then we have a specimen of pure Western belief, uninfluenced by the controversies of the day. That this is the right view to take of him is confirmed to us by the parallel avowal of the Gallic Council of Arles, A.D. 360, in its letter to the Orientals:—"Verbum usiam," its Fathers say, "a vobis quondam contra Ariomanitarum hæresim inventum, a nobis semper sancte fideliterque susceptum est." Hil. Opp. p. 1353; where the remarkable words "quondam a vobis" show how little the Gallic Church of that day realized to themselves the true character of the Nicene act. Its Bishops believed, not on the word of a Council "sometime {289} held in the East," but upon the authority of their immemorial tradition.

Such being the significancy of St. Hilary's testimony, what does he tell us in his work on St. Matthew about the Divine gennesis? He tells us that He who was the Word from eternity, became the Son in order to creation. "The Word," he says, "was in the beginning God, and with God from the beginning. He was born from Him who was, and He that was born had this prerogative, viz. that He it is who 'erat antequam nasceretur;' that is, there is the same eternity of Him who begat, and of Him who is begotten." Matt. xxxi. 3.

Here we seem to see the reason why this formula, "Erat antequam nasceretur," which to us has an heretical sound as implying the temporal gennesis, was used by great theologians as Hilary, and was recognized as existing, yet not reprobated, nay, indirectly sanctioned by the Nicene Fathers when they anathematized those who denied it. It was an obvious escape from the Arian argument, "A son has, as such, a beginning of existence." This formula virtually answered, "Yes, as a son He had a beginning, but He was the eternal Word before He was the Son. As in the fulness of the times the Eternal Word became the Son of man, so in the beginning of days He had become the Son of God."

However, St. Hilary unlearned this doctrine after his visit to Asia Minor and Alexandria. In Asia Minor he would have proof of the dangerous use which the Semi-Arians made of the formula, and at Alexandria he became the personal friend of Athanasius, who inherited the {290} Alexandrian antagonistic and true teaching. Perhaps he would read in Athanasius's fourth Oration his condemnation of those who said, [pro tou gennethenai, en toi theoi en ho logos], and, [ho logos en toi theoi ateles, gennetheis, teleios gegonen]. Orat. iv. 11, 12. Accordingly, in his de Trinitate, Hilary, without distinctly condemning the ancient and widely spread opinion which he had himself held, lays down that both the formula in which it was embodied, and its contradictory, are alike unmeaning; for, if the gennesis is from everlasting, our Lord neither was, nor was not, before He was born. "Cum natum semper esse," he says, "nihil aliud sit confitendum esse quam natum, id sensui, antequam nascitur 'vel fuisse,' vel 'non fuisse,' non subjacet." de Trin. xii. 31.

7. However, the opinion did not die with Hilary; it has the sanction of ST. ZENO of Verona some years after Hilary gave it up. Zeno was consecrated in 362, and died close upon the second Ecumenical Council in 381, leaving to posterity a certain number of discourses, doctrinal and hortatory, written with great force and elegance. In these his conformity in all respects with the Nicene doctrine is, as might be expected, entire; he is distinct upon the consubstantiality, co-eternity, co-inherence, and co-equality of the Father and Son; but when he comes to the question, Is the gennesis eternal? he speaks after the usage of his African fellow-countrymen.

"The beginning," he says, in ii. 3, "without controversy, is our Lord Christ, whom the Father before all ages did embrace (amplectebatur) in the profound impenetrable secret of His own Mind (A), and with a {291} knowledge which was all His own, not without the affection felt towards a Son, but without the manifestation of Him. Therefore that ineffable and incomprehensible Wisdom propagates Wisdom, and Omnipotence Omnipotence (B). From God is born God, "De Ingenito Unigenitus, de Solo Solus, de Toto Totus, de Vero Verus, de Perfecto Perfectus, Totum Patris habens, nihil derogans Patri."

Here observe the tenses, "amplectebatur" and "nascitur." That this "nativitas" is not the eternal Ballerini simply grants; but with Bull, he maintains that the word denotes the Father's decree or the Son's procession to create the world, an hypothesis for which I cannot see that he advances any argument, for the connection of two events is no argument for their identity [Note 3]. Also observe the expression, "Filii non sine affectu;" he does not say, "with the affection," in order to signify that it marked the beginning of that relation which was perfected in the "perfecta nativitas," as Tertullian speaks, prior to creation. Of course the love of the First Divine Person to the Second was infinitely full from all eternity; but Zeno is here speaking of the Paternal love towards a Son. He goes on:—

"He proceeds unto a nativity, 'qui erat antequam nasceretur,' equal to the Father in all things, for the Father in ipsum alium so genuit ex se, ex innascibili scilicet sua illa substantia," &c.

Here Zeno uses the very formula, which was sheltered at Nicæa, which we have found in Hilary and Lactantius, and which is the recognized symbol of the temporal {292} gennesis, as held by Tatian, Theophilus, Hippolytus, and the rest, as the homoüsion is of our Lord's proper divinity.

Again, in ii. 4, Zeno says: "Erat ante omnia manens, unus et idem alter, ex semet ipso in semet ipsum Deus, secreti sui solus conscius (A), cujus ex ore, ut rerum natura, quæ non erat, fingeretur, prodivit Unigenitus Filius (B), cordis ejus nobilis inquilinus, exinde visibilis necessario effectus, quia orbem terræ erat ipso facturus (C), humanumque visitaturus genus," &c.

Here by "visibilis effectus," as by "revelamine" in the former passage, he connects his doctrine with the [aoraton onta horaton poiei] of Hippolytus. Observe also the contrast between "cordis inquilinus," and "ex ore," after the manner of Tertullian.

Again, in ii. 5, which is in part a repetition of ii. 3, he says, "Excogitatarum ut ordinem instrueret rerum (C), ineffabilis illa Virtus incomprehensibilisque sapientia e regione cordis eructat Verbum, Omnipotentia se propagat," &c. Here "excogitatarum" seems to answer to the [ennoetheis] of Hippolytus.

It is remarkable that he says a few lines later:—"Temperat se propter rerum naturam Filius, ne exsertæ majestatis Dominum non possit mundi istius mediocritas sustinere." This reminds us of the doctrine of Athanasius, supr. pp. 73, 202. And this explains, as Ballerini suggests, the words of Tertullian, which have been charged with a denial of the co-equality of the Son, whereas he is speaking of the Syncatabasis. "Invisibilem Patrem intelligemus pro plenitudine majestatis, visibilem {293} vero Filium agnoscemus pro modulo derivationis." adv. Prax. 14.

If it needs explanation, that a Saint and Martyr, many years after the Nicene Council, should, as far as his language goes, countenance a tenet which by Augustine's time had been forbidden; I should point on the other hand, to the fact, equally remarkable, that that Council makes mention of the formula which embodied it without condemning it, nay, with an express condemnation of those who denied it, and next, to the assurance which was given by the Alexandrian Council to the whole world in 362, the year of Zeno's consecration, that it was enough to accept the words of the Nicene Creed, with I suppose, its anathemas, in order to be an orthodox believer [Note 4].

8. VICTORINUS, who wrote almost contemporaneously with Zeno, has as little authority, taken by himself, as Lactantius, but is valuable as one of a company of consentient writers, both as supporting and completing their statements. He was an African, and, while a heathen, taught rhetoric at Rome. Augustine relates the circumstances of his conversion, and how, when the hour came for his making profession of his faith, and he had the option given him of making it privately, he declined the {294} considerate suggestion. "When he stood up," says St. Augustine, "the spectators whispered his name one to another, with a voice of congratulation, and there ran a low murmur through the joyful multitude, 'Victorinus, Victorinus!'" The Saint continues: "And, when that man of Thine, Simplician, related this to me, I was on fire to imitate him." Victorinus was converted in 360 or 361; and, as he was advanced in years, the works which he drew up against the Arians cannot have been written much later than that date.

St. Jerome calls them very obscure, and Gennadius considers them deficient in knowledge of Scripture. I am not considering them here in either of these respects; but in respect of their doctrinal enunciations, whether the catechetical instruction, which accompanied his conversion, was given him in Rome or in Carthage. It is enough for my purpose, if he has a clear view of doctrine, and that in coincidence with the writers whom I have quoted, and in illustration of them. Now, while he is clear upon the Consubstantiality, &c., he distinctly teaches that the gennesis was a process; that our Lord from eternity was God and from God, but still only in God, "in corde," "vulva," or "utero;" as such He was the Logos, the "alter et idem" of Zeno, (Victorinus uses the term fœtus,) which was at length to become a Son; that, when the world was to be created, He was born and manifested, became the Son, and acted as the principle of order and beauty, the life, the sustaining power, of the universe. I shall quote him under A, B, and C, symbols which I have all along used as designating respectively the Word Endiathetic, the Word {295} Prophoric, and the Primogenitus. It will be observed that He holds the Homoüsion and the Coinherence.

A. "Erat circa Deum Logos, et in principio. Ergo semper fuit." de Gener. 16; ap. Galland, t. 8.

"'In principio' esse, non generatum esse significat. Non genitus est Logos, quum Deus ipse Logos sit, sed quiescens et silens Logos." Ibid. 17.

"Unigenitus qui est in gremio Patris ... in gremio, et in [metrai] substantiæ [homoousion]; uterque, et substantia et divinitate consistens; uterque in utroque; et cognoscit uterque utrumque." adv. Arium, i. 15.

"Gravida occultum habet quod paritura est. Non enim fœtus non est ante partum, sed in occulto est." de Gen. 14.

B. "Et generatione pervenit in manifestationem [on] operatione, quod fuit [on] potentia. Absconditi manifestatio generatio est." de Gen. 14.

C. "Universalis Logos Filius Dei est, cujus potentia proveniunt et procedunt in generationem omnia et consistunt. Ipsius ergo potentia, procedens et simul existens cum Patre, facit omnia et generat." adv. Arium, i. 22.

"Quod Filius Logos est in actionem festinans substantia; vita enim Logos, et intelligentia Logos, processit in substantiam eorum quæ sunt intellectibilium et hylicorum; et idcirco actio ipsius Logi propter imbecillitatem percipientium ipsum et patitur et passibilis est, vel potius passibilis dicitur." Ibid. i. 24.

These last words excellently express Athanasius's idea of the Syncatabasis. With Justin and the rest, {296} Victorinus recognizes the ministrative, servile, and passible condition of the Primogenitus, (not in His divine nature of course, but) in His voluntary office, terminating as it did in His incarnation and passion, a condition which arose out of the necessary imperfection of that created universe with which, for its exaltation, He condescended to be implicated.

I have already, in speaking of the Asiatic Writers, drawn attention to the striking dogmatic utterance of the great Council of Antioch in the third century, declaratory of the eternity of the Divine Gennesis; a still more authoritative Voice issued about the same time from the West, from the Apostolic See, and to the same effect. It is a great misfortune that the series of dogmatic Tomes of the Ante-Nicene Popes have not been preserved to us; a fragment of one of them remains, and it accidentally contains an assertion, indirect but clear, of the very doctrine we desiderate in certain other writers, the eternal existence of the Son. It is in Pope Dionysius's notice of some supposed heresy at Alexandria, which over-zealous ecclesiastics had brought before the Holy See. The portion which remains to us of his letter is written in a tone of authority and decision befitting an Infallible Voice. After censuring some quasi-tritheistic error, he proceeds:

"Equally must one censure those who hold the Son to be a work, and consider the Lord has come into being, as one of things that really came to be; whereas the divine oracles witness to a generation suitable to Him and becoming, but not to any fashioning or making. A blasphemy {297} then is it, not ordinary, but even the highest, to say that the Lord is in any sort a handiwork; for if He became Son, once He was not; but He was always."

He goes on to explain the words in Proverbs, "The Lord created Me," &c., and it is remarkable how throughout his remarks he ignores the hypothesis of a temporal gennesis, knowing only the temporal birth from Mary and the Divine Sonship from everlasting.

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1. There is no difficulty in believing that other martyrs of the same name were afterwards associated with him in the church which was dedicated to him, as occurs in the instance of other saints.
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2. A parallel [me plano] is found in Hippol. de Antichr. 2.
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3. On this subject vid. "Arians," Note ii. ed. 4th.
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4. Without withdrawing what I have maintained above in Dissert. 3, pp. 57, &c., that the "non erat antequam nasceretur" of the Arians was an enthymeme of their own directed against Catholics, I do not see my way to deny that Tertullian before Arius, and Zeno after him, and various other writers between their dates, used on their part the "Erat antequam nasceretur" deliberately and independently as a positive formula.
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Newman Reader — Works of John Henry Newman
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