The Holy Trinity in Unity

{315} WHEN the Church speaks of Three Persons in One Divine Essence, it seems at first sight that she must imply and mean, if she would avoid contradiction of ideas, either that the "Three" or that the "One" expresses an abstraction of our minds.

If God is numerically one, if the Divine Essence is undivided and simple in that strict sense in which we speak of each man as an individual, then the term Person must surely denote nothing more than some aspect, character, office, or assemblage of attributes, which belongs to the Almighty, as when our Lord is spoken of as Prophet, Priest, and King, which are mere titles or appellatives, not existing re but ratione. But this is Sabellianism.

On the other hand, we may consider the Three Persons actually to exist, not being mere ideas or modes of our viewing God, but as realities, intrinsically distinct from each other, separate and complete one by one, re as well as ratione, Persons as we men are persons, or at least in some analogous way. In that case we should go on to consider, as a necessary inference, that "One" expressed only a logical unity, Ens unum in multis, a nature or class, as when we say "Man is mortal;" but this conclusion brings us either to Arianism or to Tritheism. {316}

There is no incompatibility of ideas involved in the doctrine of Sabellian, Arian, or Tritheist, that is, no mystery; but the Catholic believes and holds as an article of faith that the Divine Three, and again the Divine One, both as One and as Three, exist re not ratione; and therefore he has to answer the objection, "Either the word 'Trinity' denotes a mere abstraction, or the word 'Unity' does; for how can it be at once a fact that Each of Three, who are eternally distinct one from another, is really God, and also a fact that there really is but one God?" This however is the doctrine of the creed of S. Athanasius, and certainly is to be received and held by every faithful member of the Church, viz., that the Father is God and all that God is, and so too is the Son, and so too is the Holy Ghost, yet there is but one God; that the word God may be predicated of an objective Triad, yet also belong to only One Being, to a Being individual and sole, all-perfect, self-existent, and everlasting.

To state this in the language of Petavius, who is the most learned expositor of the doctrine of the Fathers as distinct from the medieval Church, "Non omittendum Personas Tres, etsi invicem reapse distant, re tamen idem esse cum essentia, et ab eâ non nisi ratione discrepare." de Trin. iii. 11, 7. It is a Three or Triad, Each of whom is intrinsically and everlastingly distinct from Each, (as Prophet, Priest, and King are not, but as Priest and his people, King and his subjects, Teacher and taught are,) yet Each is One and the Same individual Divine Essence.

Let it be observed the mystery lies, not in any one {317} of the statements which constitute the doctrine, but in their combination. The meaning of each proposition is on a level with our understanding. There is no intellectual difficulty in apprehending any one of them. "God is a Father; God is a Son; God is a Holy Spirit; the Father is not the Son; the Son is not the Holy Ghost; the Holy Ghost is not the Father; God is numerically One; there are not Three Gods." In which of these propositions do we not sufficiently understand what is meant to be told us? For devotion, then (and for devotion we may conceive these high truths to be revealed to us), the mystery is no difficulty; such understanding of its separate constituent propositions as we have is sufficient for devotion, which lives and thrives upon single objects rather than on a collection.

The difficulty then is not in understanding each sentence of which the doctrine consists, but in its incompatibility (taken as a whole, and in the only words possible for conveying it to our minds) with certain of our axioms of thought indisputable in themselves, but foreign and inapplicable to a sphere of existences of which we have no experience whatever.

What in fact do we know of pure spirit? What do we know of the infinite? Of the latter just a little, by means of mathematical science, that is, under the conditions of number, quantity, space, distance, direction, and shape; just enough to tell us how little we know, and how little we are able to draw arguments and inferences when infinites are in question. Mathematical science tells us that one and one infinite do not, put together, make two; that there may be innumerable {318} infinites, and that all put together are not greater than one of them; that there are orders of infinites. It is plain we are utterly unable to determine what is possible and what is impossible in this high region of realities. And then again, in the case of infinitesimals, do not three lines become one line when one is placed upon another? yet how can we say, supposing them respectively coloured white, red, and blue, that they would not remain three, after they had coalesced into one, as entirely as they were really three before?

Nor in its doctrine of infinites only, does mathematical science illustrate the mysteries of Theology. Geometry, for instance, may be used to a certain point as an exponent of algebraical truth; but it would be irrational to deny the wider revelations of algebra, because they do not admit of a geometrical expression. The fourth power of a quantity may be received as a fact, though a fourth dimension in space is inconceivable. Again, a polygon or an ellipse is a figure different in kind from a circle; yet we may tend towards a conception of the latter by using what we know of either of the former. Thus it is by economical expedients that we teach and transmit the mysteries of religion, separating them into parts, viewing them in aspects, adumbrating them by analogies, and so approximating to them by means of words which say too much or too little. And if we consent to such ways of thought in our scientific treatment of "earthly things," is it wonderful that we should be forced to them in our investigation of "heavenly"?

"You have the Son, you have the Father; fear not {319} duality ... There is One God, because Father is One, and Son is God, having identity as Son towards Father ... The Father is the whole fulness of Godhead as Father, and the Son is the whole fulness of Godhead as Son ... The Father has Being perfect and without defect, being root and fount of the Son and the Spirit; and the Son is in the fulness of Godhead, a Living Word and Offspring of the Father without defect. And the Spirit is full of the Son, not being part of another, but whole in Himself ... Let us understand that the Face (nature [eidos]) is One of Three truly subsisting, beginning in Father, beaming in Son, and manifested through Spirit." Pseudo-Ath. c. Sab. Greg. 5-12. "I hardly arrive at contemplating the One, when I am encircled with the radiance of the Three; I hardly arrive at distinguishing the Three, when I am carried back to the One. When I have imaged to myself One of the Three, I think It the whole, and my sight is filled, and what is more escapes me ... And when I embrace the Three in my contemplation, I see but One Luminary, being unable to distinguish or to measure the Light which becomes One." Greg. Naz. Orat. 40. 41. "The fulness of Godhead is in the Father, and the fulness of Godhead is in the Son, yet not differing, but one Godhead ... If of all believers there was one soul and one heart, ... if every one who cleaves to the Lord is one spirit, ... if man and wife are one flesh, if all of us men in respect of nature are of one substance, if Scripture thus speaks of human things, that many are one, of which there can be no comparison with {320} things divine, how much more are Father and Son one in Godhead, where there is no difference of substance or of will," &c. Ambros. de Fid. i. n. 18. "This Trinity is of one and the same nature and substance, not less in Each than in All, nor greater in All than in Each; but so great in Father alone or in Son alone, as in Father and Son together ... For the Father did not lessen Himself to have a Son for Himself, but so begat of Himself another Self, as to remain whole in Himself, and to be in the Son as great as He is by Himself. And so the Holy Ghost, whole from whole, doth not precede That whence He proceeds, but is as great with Him as He is from Him, and neither lessens Him by proceeding nor increases by adhering ... Moreover, He who hath given to so many hearts of His faithful to be one heart, how much more doth He maintain in Himself that these Three and Each of Them should be God, and yet all together, not Three Gods, but One God?" August. Ep. 170, 5.

It is no inconsistency to say that the Father is first, and the Son first also, for comparison or number is not equal to the expression of this mystery. Since Each is [holos theos], Each, as contemplated by our finite reason, at the moment of contemplation excludes the Other. Though we profess Three Persons, Person cannot be made one abstract idea, certainly not as containing under it three individual subjects, but it is a term applied to the One God in three ways. It is the doctrine of the Fathers, that, though we use words expressive of a Trinity, yet that God is beyond our numbering, and that {321} Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, though eternally distinct from each other, can scarcely be viewed together in common, except as One substance, as if they could not be generalised into Three Any-whatever; and as if it were, strictly speaking, incorrect to speak of a Person, or otherwise than of the Person, whether of Father, or of Son, or of Spirit. The question has almost been admitted by S. Austin, whether it is not possible to say that God is One Person (Trin. vii. 8), for He is wholly and entirely Father, and at the same time wholly and entirely Son, and wholly and entirely Holy Ghost. Vid. also Orat. iv. § 1 and 2, where Athan. argues against the Sabellian hypothesis as making the Divine Nature compound (the Word being a something in It), whereas the Catholic doctrine preserves unity because the Father is the One God simply and entirely, and the Son the One God simply and entirely (vid. next paragraph); the Word not a sound, he says, which is nothing, nor a quality which is unworthy of God, but a substantial Word and a substantial Wisdom. "As," he continues, "the Origin is One substance, so Its Word and Wisdom is One, substantial and subsistent; for as from God is God, and from Wise Wisdom, and from Rational ([logikou]) a Word, and from Father a Son, so from a subsistence is He subsistent, and from substance substantial and substantive, and from existing existent," &c. Vid. art. Coinherence.

Nothing is more remarkable than the confident tone in which Athan. accuses Arians, as in Orat. ii. § 38, and Sabellians, Orat. iv. § 2, of considering the Divine Nature as compound, as if the Catholics were in no respect open to such a charge. Nor are they; {322} though in avoiding it, they are led to enunciate the most profound and ineffable mystery. vid. supr. art. Son of God. The Father is the One Simple Entire Divine Being, and so is the Son. They do in no sense share divinity between Them; Each is [holos Theos]. This is not ditheism or tritheism, for They are the same God; nor is it Sabellianism, for They are eternally distinct and substantive Persons; but it is a depth and height beyond our intellect, how what is Two in so full a sense can also in so full a sense be One, or how the Divine Nature does not come under number in the sense in which we have earthly experience of numbers. Thus, "being incomposite in nature," says Athan., "He is Father of One Only Son," Decr. § 11. In truth the distinction into Persons, as Petavius remarks, "avails especially towards the unity and simplicity of God," vid. de Deo ii. 4, 8.

"The Father," says Athan., "having given all things to the Son, in the Son still hath all things; and the Son having, still the Father hath them; for the Son's Godhead is the Father's Godhead, and thus the Father in the Son takes the oversight of all things." Orat. iii. 36. Thus iteration is not duplication in respect to God; though how this is, is the inscrutable Mystery of the Trinity in Unity. Nothing can be named which the Son is in Himself, as distinct from the Father; but we are told His relation towards the Father; and distinct from and beyond that relation, He is but the One God, who is also the Father. Such statements are not here intended to explain, but to bring home to the mind what it is which faith receives. We {323} say, "Father, Son, and Spirit," a transcendent Three, but when we would abstract a general idea of Them in order to number Them as we number things on earth, our abstraction really does but carry us back to the One Substance. There will be different ways of expressing this, but such seems the meaning of such passages as the following: "Those who taunt us with tritheism," says St. Basil, "must be told that we confess One God not in number, but in nature. For what is one in number is not really one, nor single in nature; for instance, we call the world one in number, but not one in nature, for we divide it into its elements; and man again is one in number, but compounded of body and soul ... If then we say that God is in nature one, how do they impute number to us, who altogether banish it from that blessed and spiritual nature? For number belongs to quantity, and number is connected with matter," &c. Basil. Ep. 8, 2. "That which saveth us, is faith, but number has been devised to indicate quantity ... We pronounce Each of the Persons once, but when we would number them up, we do not proceed by an unlearned numeration to the notion of a polytheism." (vid. the whole passage,) ibid. de Sp. S. c. 18. "Why, passing by the First Cause, does he [S. John] at once discourse to us of the Second? We will decline to speak of 'first' and 'second;' for the Godhead is higher than number and succession of times." Chrysost. in Joan. Hom. ii. 3 fin. "In respect of the Adorable and most Royal Trinity, 'first' and 'second' have no place; for the Godhead is higher than number and times." Isid. Pel. Ep. 3, 18. {324} "He calls," says S. Maximus, commenting on Pseudo-Dionysius, "fecundity, the Father's incomprehensible progression to the production of the Son and the Holy Ghost; and suitably does he say, 'as a Trinity,' since not number, but glory is expressed in 'The Lord God is one Lord.'" in Dionys. Opp. t. 2, p. 101. "We do not understand 'one' in the Divine Substance, as in the creatures; in whom what is properly one is not to be seen; for what is one in number, as in our case, is not properly one ... It is not one in number, or as the beginning of number, any more than It is as magnitude, or as the beginning of magnitude ... That One is ineffable and indescribable; since It is Itself the cause of all that is one, [pases henados henopoion]." Eulog. ap. Phot. 230, p. 864. "Three what? I answer, Father and Son and Holy Ghost. See, he urges, you have said Three; but explain Three what? Nay, do you number, for I have said all about the Three, when I say, Father and Son and Holy Ghost. Not, as there are two men, so are They two Gods; for there is here something ineffable, which cannot be put into words, viz., that there should both be number, and not number. For see if there does not seem to be number, Father and Son and Holy Spirit, a Trinity. If Three, Three what? number fails. Then God neither is without number, nor is under number ... They imply number, only relatively to Each Other, not in Themselves." August. in Joan. 39, 3 and 4. "We say Three 'Persons,' as many Latins of authority have said in treating the subject, because they found no more suitable way of declaring an idea in words which {325} they had without words. Since the Father is not the Son, and the Son not the Father, and the Holy Ghost neither Father nor Son, there are certainly Three; but when we ask, Three what? we feel the great poverty of human language. However, we say Three 'Persons,' not for the sake of saying that, but of not saying nothing." Aug. de Trin. v. 10. "Unity is not number, but is itself the principle of all things." Ambros. de Fid. i. n. 19. "That is truly one, in which there is no number, nothing in It beyond That which is ... There is no diversity in It, no plurality from diversity, no multitude from accidents, and therefore no number ... but unity only. For when God is thrice repeated, and Father, Son, and Holy Ghost is named, three Unities do not make plurality of number in That which They are (in eo quod ipsæ sunt). [Note] ... This repetition of Unities is iteration rather than numeration ... A trine numeration does not make number, which they rather run into who make some difference between the Three." Boeth. Trin. unus Deus, p. 959.

The last remark is also found in Naz. Orat. 31. 18. Many of these passages are taken from Thomassin de Trin. 17. Petavius, de Trin. iv. 16, fin., quotes St. Anselm as saying, "Though there be not many eternities, yet, if we say eternity in eternity, there is but one eternity. And so whatever is said of God's essence, if returned into itself, does not increase quantity, nor admit number; since there is nothing out of God, when God is born of God." Infinity does not add to infinity; the treatment of infinities is above us. With this remark I end as I began. {326}


The words from Boethius here translated "in Him which They are," are in the original (p. 273, Ed Lugd., and p. 1122, Ed. Basil.), "in eo quod ipsæ sunt," that is, rather, "in That which They are."
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Unity of Emmanuel

IT is well known that the illustration in the Athan. Creed, "As the reasonable soul and flesh is one man, so God and man is one Christ," was taken by the Monophysites to imply that the Divine Nature was made dependent on the flesh, and was influenced and circumscribed by it. Man is partly soul and partly body; he is of body and soul, not body and soul; but Christ is wholly God, and wholly man, [holos Theos, holos anthropos], Orat. iv. 35. He is as simply God as if He were not man, as simply man as if He were not God; "unus atque idem est," says S. Leo, "et totus hominis filius propter carnem, et totus Dei filius propter unam cum Patre deitatem," Ep. 165, 8. Athan. has anticipated the heresy which denied this doctrine in a very distinct passage written apparently even before the rise of Arianism. "It is the function of the soul," he says, "to contemplate in its thoughts what is within its own body; but not to operate in things beyond its own body, or to act by its presence on what is far from the body. Certainly man at a distance never moves or transposes such things; nor could a man sit at home and think of things in heaven, and thereby move the sun, or turn the heaven round ... Not thus is the {327} Word of God in man's nature; for He was not bound up with the body ([sunededeto]), but rather He hath Himself dominion over it, so that He was not in it only, but in all things; nay, He was external to the whole universe and in the sole Father," Incarn. V. D. 17. The same passage occurs in Serm. Maj. de Fid. 11.

It could not be otherwise. The Divine Word was not a mere presence or manifestation of God in man, but He was God Himself incarnate. He was still what He had ever been, and will be from first to last, One,—one and the same, impassible, immutable, in His [autotes], so to speak, as being one of the Eternal Trinity. His Divine Nature carried with It on His incarnation that [autotes] or Personality. So necessary, so cardinal is this truth for the right holding of the great doctrine under consideration, that the Alexandrians, St. Cyril at least, and perhaps St. Athanasius, spoke of there being only "One Nature" in the Incarnate Lord, meaning thereby one Person (for Person and Nature could not be divided; and, if our Lord's Nature was divine, His Person was divine also), and by saying "only one," was meant that, in comparison of the Divine Person who had taken flesh, what He had taken was not so much a nature, (though it was strictly a nature,) as the substance of a manhood which was not substantive.

Whereas the Apostle says, "One Lord Jesus Christ," that unity does not lie in the unity of two natures, (for they are two, not one,) but in His Person, which brings the two natures together, which is and ever has been indivisible from His Divine Nature, and has absorbed {328} into Itself, and is sovereign over, not destroying thereby, but perpetuating, Its human nature.

Hence, while it be true to say "Man is God," as well as to say "God is man," it is not true that "man became God," or "took on him divinity," as it is true to say "God became man," because from first to last the Son and Word is supreme, independent, and one and the same; and it is a first point in all orthodox teaching of the Incarnation to make this clear and definite. He is "Jesus Christ," indeed, but at the same time, "heri, et hodie, ipse et in sæcula; "He is now, and He was from everlasting.

"While He received no hurt ([ouden eblapteto]) himself by bearing our sins in His body on the tree, we men were redeemed from our affections ([pathon])," Orat. iii. § 31. And so [eblapteto men autos ouden] Incarn. § 54, [me blaptomenos] ibid. § 34. In these passages [autos] means "in that which is Himself," i.e., in His own Person or Divine Self, [autos] being used when the next century would have used "Person." "For the sun, too, which He made, and we see, makes its circuit in the sky and is not defiled by touching," &c., Incarn. § 17. "As the rays of sun-light would not suffer at all, though filling all things and touching bodies dead and unclean, thus and much more the spiritual virtue of God the Word would suffer nothing in substance nor receive hurt," &c., Euseb. de Laud. Const. p. 536 and 538; also Dem. Evang. vii. p. 348. "The insults of the passion even the Godhead bore, but the passion His flesh alone felt; as we rightly say that a sunbeam or a body of flame can be cut indeed by a sword but {329} not divided ... I will speak yet more plainly: the Godhead [divinitas] was fixed with nails, but could not Itself be pierced, since the flesh was exposed and offered room for the wound, but God remained invisible," &c., Vigil. contr. Eutych. ii. 9, p. 503 (Bibl. Patrum, ed. 1624). "There were five together on the Cross, when Christ was nailed to it: the sun-light, which first received the nails and the spear, and remained undivided from the Cross and unhurt by the nails, next," &c., Anast. Hodeg. c. 12, p. 220 (ed. 1606); also p. 222; vid. also the beautiful passage in Pseudo-Basil: "God in flesh, not working with aught intervening as in the prophets, but having taken to Him a manhood connatural with Himself ([symphue], i.e. joined to His nature), and made one, and, through His flesh akin to us, drawing up to Him all humanity ... What was the manner of the Godhead in flesh? as fire in iron, not transitively, but by communication. For the fire does not dart into the iron, but remains there and communicates to it of its own virtue, not impaired by the communication, yet filling wholly its recipient." Basil, t. 2, p. 596, ed. Ben. Also Ruffin. on Symb. 12; Cyril, Quod unus, t. v. p. 776; Dam. F.O., iii. 6 fin.; Aug. Serm. 7, p. 26, ed. 1842, Suppl. It is to show at once the intimacy of the union of natures and the absolute sovereignty of the divine, that such strong expressions are in use as God's body, God's death, God's mother, &c.

[theou en soma], Orat. iii. § 31; also ad Adelph. 3 ad Max. 2, and so [ten ptocheusasan physin theou holen genomenen], c. Apoll. ii. 11. [to pathos tou logou], ibid. 16, [sarx tou logou], Orat. iii. 34. [soma sophias], 53, also [theos {330} en sarki], Orat. ii. § 10; [theos en somati], ii. § 12 and 15; [logos en sarki], iii. 54; [logos en somati], Sent. D. 8 fin. [pathos Christou tou theou mou], Ignat. Rom. 6. [ho theos peponthen], Melit. ap. Anast. Hodeg. 12. Dei passiones, Tertull. de Carn. Christ. 5. Dei interemptores, ibid. caro Deitatis, Leon. Serm. 65 fin. Deus mortuus et sepultus, Virgil. c. Eut. ii. p. 502. Vid. supr. p. 294. Yet Athan. objects to the phrase, "God suffered in the flesh," i.e. as used by the Apollinarians. Vid. contr. Apoll. ii. 13 fin. Vid. article [mia phyis].


Vid. art. [aporrhoe]. {331}

Two Wills in Christ

THE Monothelite tenet does not come into the range of subjects included in the foregoing Treatises; but as far as I understand it, it argued as follows:—

It was faulty in considering that no distinction was to be drawn between the physical and psychical emotions and volitions which belong to our nature, and which are not sinful, (such as the horror of death,) and those two acts of will, good and bad, which proceed from deliberate purpose and determination, and, as in the case in question, are of an ethical character. The Monothelites held mere volition to be an act of will, and to have the nature of sin, or at least to be inconsistent with that moral perfection which is possible to human nature, and was realised in our Lord. It follows that He could not have among His special constituents as man one which was of so dubious a complexion; in other words, He had no human will, and therefore He had but one will, viz., that which He had by being God.

Such a resolution of the true doctrine led by a few steps to Eutychianism, that is, to a confusion of the received teaching on the Incarnation, and was seen to be dangerous when it came before the Schools and Councils of the Church, but till then it serves as an {332} instance of the verbal mistakes into which the clearest and most saintly intellects may fall by living a little too early to have the experience necessary for a judgment on dogmatic questions. Athanasius says:—

"And as to His saying, If it be possible, let the cup pass, observe how, though He thus spake, He rebuked Peter, saying, Thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men. For He willed what He deprecated, for therefore had He come; but His was the willing, (since for it He came,) but the terror belonged to the flesh. Wherefore as man He utters this speech also, and yet both were said by the Same, to show that He was God, willing in Himself, but when He had become man, having a flesh that was in terror. For the sake of this flesh He combined His own will with human weakness, that destroying this affection He might in turn make man undaunted in the thought of death." Orat. iii. § 57.

Several centuries later Anastasius says:—"I say not, perish the thought, that there are two wills in Christ at variance with each other, as you consider, and in opposition; nor at all a will of flesh, or of passion, or evil ... But, since it was perfect man that He took on Him, that He might save him whole, and He is perfect in manhood, therefore we call that sovereign disposal of His orders and commands by the name of the Divine will in Christ, and we understand by human will the intellectual soul's power of willing, given it after the image and likeness of God, and breathed into it by God, when it was made, by means of this power to prefer and to obey, and to do the {333} divine will and the divine orders. If then the soul of Christ was destitute of the power of reason, will, and preference, it is not indeed after the image of God, nor consubstantial with our souls ... and Christ cannot be called perfect in manhood. Christ then, being in the form of God, has, according to the Godhead, that lordly will which is common to Father and Holy Ghost; and, as having taken the form of a servant, He does also the will of His intellectual and immaculate soul, &c. ... Else if this will be taken away, He will according to the Godhead be subject, and fulfil the Father's will as a servant ... as if there were two wills in the Godhead of Father and of Son, the Father's that of a Lord, the Son's that of a servant." Anast. Hodeg. i. p. 12. {334}


ATHAN. considers that the Eternal Wisdom, one of the proper appellatives of the Son, is that Wisdom which in Prov. ix. 1, viii. 22, &c., is said to be created, and that this creation is to be understood of His taking on Him a created nature. He says, "Wisdom has made herself a house; it is plain that our body, which it took upon itself to become man, is Wisdom's House." Orat. ii. § 44. And he is followed by St. Leo, "ut intra intemerata viscera ædificante sibi sapentiâ domum, Verbum caro fieret." Leon. Epist. 31, 2. Also Didymus de Trin. iii. 3, p. 337 (ed. 1769). August. Civ. D. xvii. 20. Cyril. in Joann. iv. 4, p. 384, 5. Max. Dial. iii. p. 1029 (ap. Theod. ed. Schulz). Hence Clem. Alex. [ho logos heauton gennai]. Strom. v. 3. vid. art. Holy Spirit.

But without denying that our Lord is signified in the above passage, as the Prototype, Author, and Pattern of all wisdom, it is more natural to apply it, as Athan. also does, to the attribute or grace called wisdom as displayed in the creation, whether in the original creation or in the new. Hence he says, "The Only-begotten and very Wisdom of God 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 {335} to the creatures, so as to introduce an impress and semblance of Its Image on all 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." Orat. ii. § 78.

As Athan. in the above passage considers wisdom as the image of the Creator in the Universe, so elsewhere he explains it of the Church, de Incarn. contr. Ar. 6, if it be his (and so Didym. Trin. iii. 3 fin.), where his teaching about the Word is very much the same as in Orat. ii. § 56. S. Jerome understands by it the creation of the new man in holiness, "'Put ye on Christ Jesus;' for He is the new man, in whom all we believers ought to be clad and attired. For what was not new in the man which was taken on Him by our Saviour? ... He therefore who can imitate His conversation and bring out in himself all virtues, he has put on the new man, and can say with the Apostle, 'Not I, but Christ liveth in me.' ... Only in great deeds and works the word 'creation' is used ... The new man is the great work of God, and excels all other creatures, since he is said to be framed, as the world is said to be, and is created the beginning of God's ways, and in the commencement of all the elements." in Eph. iv. 23, 24. Naz. alludes to the interpretation by which Wisdom is the plan, system, {336} or the laws of the Universe, Orat. 30. 2, though he does not so explain it himself. Epiphanius says, "Scripture has nowhere confirmed this application of Prov. viii. 22, nor has any Apostle referred it to Christ." (vid. also Basil. contr. Eunom. ii. 20.) He adds, "How many wisdoms of God are there, improperly so called! but One Wisdom is the Only-begotten, not improperly so called, but in truth ... The very word 'wisdom' does not oblige me to speak of the Son of God." Hær. 69, pp. 743-745. He proceeds to show how it may apply to Him.

Didymus argues at length in favour of interpreting the passage of created wisdom, Trin. iii. l. c. He says that the context makes this interpretation necessary, as speaking of "the fear of God" being the "beginning" of it, of "doing it," and of "kings and rulers" reigning by means of it. Again it is said that wisdom was with the Creator, who was Himself the Son and Word. "The Son and Word, the Framer of all, seeing and being able from the first, long suffering and waiting for repentance in the unrighteous and wrong-thinking multitude, when He had finished all, delighted in wisdom which was in His creatures, and was glad in it, rejoicing in His own work." p. 336. He contrasts with this the more solemn style used by the sacred writer when he speaks of the Uncreated Wisdom: [hyperphuos kai hosper hyp' ekplexeos thaumazon anaphthengetai], e.g. Prov. xxx. 3, p. 338. {337}

The Word of God

LOGOS, verbum, being a term already used in the schools of heathen philosophy, was open to various misunderstandings on its appearance in the theology of Revealed teaching. In the Church it was both synonymous with and corrective of the term "Son;" but heretics had almost as many senses of the term as they had sects.

It is a view familiar to the Fathers that in this consists our Lord's Sonship, viz., that He is the Word, or as S. Augustine says, "Christum ideo Filium quia Verbum." Aug. Ep. 102, n. 11. "If God is the Father of a Word, why is not He who is begotten a Son?" de Decr. § 17; Orat. iv. § 12. "If I speak of Wisdom, I speak of His Offspring." Theoph. ad Autolyc. i. 3. "The Word, the genuine Son of Mind." Clem. Protrept. p. 78; and Dionysius, "[estin ho men oion pater ho nous tou logou]," Sent. Dion. § 23, fin. Petavius discusses this subject accurately with reference to the distinction between Divine Generation and Divine Procession, de Trin. vii. 14.

But the heretics, says Athan., "dare to separate Word and Son, and to say that the Word is one and the Son another, and that first was the Word and then the Son. Now their presumption takes various forms; for some say that the man whom the Saviour assumed {338} is the Son; and others, that both the man and the Word then became Son when they were united. And others say that the Word Himself then became Son when He became man; for from being Word, they say, He became Son, not being Son before, but only Word." Orat. iv. § 15. The Valentinians, in their system of Eons, had already divided the Son from the Word; but they considered the [monogenes] first, the [logos] next.

The title "Word" implies the ineffable mode of the Son's generation, as distinct from material parallels, vid. Gregory Nyssen, contr. Eunom. iii. p. 107; Chrysostom in Joan. Hom. 2, § 4; Cyril Alex. Thesaur. 5, p. 37. Also it implies that there is but One Son.

"As there is one Origin," says Athan., "and therefore one God, so one is that Substance and Subsistence ([ousia kai hypostasis]) which indeed and truly and really is, and which said I am that I am, and not two, lest there be two Origins; and from the One, a Son in nature and truth is Its proper Word, Its Wisdom, Its Power, and inseparable from It. And as there is not another substance, lest there be two Origins, so the Word which is from that One Substance has no dissolution, is not a sound significative, but is a substantial Word and substantial Wisdom, which is the true Son. For were He not substantial, God would be speaking into the air, and having a body in nothing different from that of men; but since He is not man, neither is His Word according to the infirmity of man. For as the Origin is one Substance, so Its Word is one, substantial, and subsisting, and Its Wisdom. For as He is God from God, and Wisdom from the Wise, and Word from the {339} Rational, and Son from Father, so is He from Subsistence Subsistent, and from Substance Substantial and Substantive, and Being from Being." Orat. iv. § 1.

For the contrast between the Divine Word and the human which is Its shadow, vid. also Orat. iv. 1, above; Iren. Hær. ii. 13, n. 8; Origen. in Joan. t. i., p. 23, 25; Euseb. Demonstr. v. 5, p. 230; Cyril. Cat. xi. 10; Basil, Hom. div. xvi. 3; Nyssen contr. Eunom. xii. p. 350; Orat. Cat. i. p. 478; Damasc. F. O. i. 6; August. in Psalm. 44, 5.

"Men have many words, and after those many, not any one of them all; for the speaker has ceased, and thereupon his word fails. But God's Word is one and the same, and as it is written, remaineth for ever, not changed, not first one and then another, but existing the same always. For it behoved that, God being one, one should be His Image, one His Word, one His Wisdom." Orat. ii. § 36. vid. contr. Gent. 41. ad Ep. Æg. 16. Epiph. Hær. 65, 3. Nyss. in Eun. xii. p. 349. Origen. (in a passage, however, of questionable doctrine) says, "as there are gods many, but to us one God the Father, and many lords, but to us one Lord Jesus Christ, so there are many words, but we pray that in us may exist the Word that was in the beginning, with God, and was God," in Joan. Tom. ii. 3. "Many things, it is acknowledged, does the Father speak to the Son," say the Semi-Arians at Ancyra, "but the words which God speaks to the Son are not sons. They are not substances of God, but vocal energies; but the Son, though a Word, is not such, but, being a Son, is a substance." Epiph. Hær. 73, 12. The Semi-Arians are {340} here speaking against Sabellianism, which took the same ground here as Arianism.

Vid. the article on the Nicene Tests for those ante-Nicene theologians, who, though they undoubtedly were upholders of the Homoüsion and good Catholics when they wrote, nevertheless seem to have held that the Word, after existing from eternity, was born to be a Son at "the beginning," and on the beginning of time, and then became the Creator, the Pattern, the conservative power of the whole universe:—these writers were such as Tatian, Tertullian, Novatian, &c. There was a parallel theory to theirs, and by which they were apparently influenced, in the heathen and Jewish schools. The view of the Logos as [endiathetos] and as [prophorikos], as the Word conceived and the Word uttered, the Word mental and the Word active and effectual—to distinguish the two senses of Logos, thought and speech—came from the Stoics, and is found in Philo, and was, under certain limitations, allowed in Catholic theology. Damasc. F. O. ii. 21. To use, indeed, either of the two absolutely and to the exclusion of the other, would have involved some form of Sabellianism, or Arianism, as the case might be; but each term might correct the defective sense of the other. That the use was not oversafe would appear from its history in the Church, into which the above theologians, by their mode of teaching the [gennesis] of the Word, introduce us. Theophilus does not scruple, in teaching it, to use the very terms, endiathetic and prophoric. God made all things out of nothing, he says ... "Having His own Word endiathetic in His {341} own womb, He begat Him together with His own Wisdom, bringing Him forth before the universe was." Again he speaks of "the Word of God, who also is His Son, who was ever ([diapantos]) endiathetic in the heart of God, ... God begat Him to be prophoric, the first-born of all creation." ad Autol. ii. 10, 22.

While S. Theophilus speaks of our Lord as both endiathetic and prophoric, S. Cyril seems to consider Him endiathetic, in Joan. i. 4, p. 39, though he also says, "This word of ours, [prophorikos], is generated from mind and unto mind, and seems to be other than that which stirs in the heart, &c., &c. ... so too the Son of God, proceeding from the Father without division, is the expression and likeness of what is proper to Him, being a subsistent Word, and living from a Living Father." Thesaur. p. 47. When the Fathers deny that our Lord is the [prophorikos logos], they only mean that that title is not, even in the fulness of its philosophical idea, an adequate representative of Him, a word spoken being insubstantive, vid. Athan. Orat. ii. 35. Hil. de Syn. 46. Cyr. Catech. xi. 10. Damas. Ep. ii. p. 203, "nec prolativum, ut generationem ei demas," for this was the Arian doctrine. The first Sirmian Council of the Arians anathematises those who use of the Son either name. So does the Arian Macrostich. "The Son," said Eunomius, "is other than the endiathetic Word, or Word in intellectual action, of which partaking and being filled He is called the Prophoric Word, and expressive of the Father's substance, that is, the Son." Cyril in Joan. p. 31. The Gnostics seem to have held the [logos prophorikos]. Iren. Hær. ii. 12, n. 5. Marcellus is said by {342} Eusebius to have considered our Lord as first the one and then the other. Eccl. Theol. ii. 15. Sabellius thought our Lord the [prophorikos], according to Epiph. Hær. p. 398. cf. Damasc. Hær. 62. Paul of Samosata, the [endiathetos]. Epiph. Hær. 65, passim. Eusebius, Eccles. Theol. ii. 17, describes our Lord as the [prophorikos] while disowning the word.

Athan. speaks, contr. Gent., of man as "having, besides grace, from the Giver, also his own natural virtue proper from the Father's Word;" of the mind "seeing the Word, and in Him the Word's Father also," 2; of "the way to God being, not as God Himself, above us and far off, or external to us, but in us," 30, &c., &c. vid. also Basil. de Sp. S. n. 19. Athan. also speaks of the seed of Wisdom as being "a reason combined and connatural with everything that came into being, which some are wont to call seminal, inanimate indeed and unreasoning and unintelligent, but operating only by external art according to the science of Him who sowed it." contr. Gent. 40.

This is drawn out somewhat differently, and very strikingly, in contr. Gent. 43, &c. The Word indeed is regarded more as the Governor than as the Life of the world, but He is said to be, [ho paradoxopoios kai thaumatopoios tau theou logos photizon zoopoion ... hekastoi ten idian energeian apodidous], &c. 44. Shortly before the Word is spoken of as the Principle of permanence, 41 fin.

"For it was fitting," says Ath. elsewhere, "whereas God is One, that His Image should be One also, and {343} His Word One, and One His Wisdom. Wherefore I am in wonder how, whereas God is One, these men, after their private notions, introduce many images and wisdoms and words, and say that the Father's proper and natural Word is other than the Son, by whom He even made the Son, and that He who is really Son is but notionally called Word, as vine, and way, and door, and tree of life; and that He is called Wisdom also only in name, the proper and true Wisdom of the Father, which co-exists ingenerately with Him, being other than the Son, by which He even made the Son, and named Him Wisdom as partaking of Wisdom." Orat. ii. § 37. That is, they allowed Him to be really the Son, though they went on to explain away the name, and argued that He was but by a figure the Word, [polloi logoi] since there were, and He was not [oud' ek pollon heis], Sent. D. 25. Also Ep. Æg. 14; Origen in Joan. tom. ii. 3; Euseb. Demonstr. v. 5, p. 229, fin.; contr. Marc. p. 4, fin.; contr. Sabell. i. p. 4; August. in Joan. Tract. i. 8. Also vid. Philo's use of [logoi] for Angels, as commented on by Burton, Bampt. Lect. p. 556. The heathens called Mercury by the name of [logos]. Vid. Benedictine note f. in Justin, Ap. i. 21.

"If the Wisdom which is in the Father is other than the Lord, Wisdom came into being in Wisdom; and if God's Word is Wisdom, the Word too has come into being in a Word; and if God's Word is the Son, the Son too has been made in the Son." Ep. Æg. 14. vid. also Decr. § 8, and Orat. iii. 2, 64. And so S. Austin, "If the Word of God was {344} Himself made, by what other Word was He made? If you say, that it is the Word of the Word, by whom that Word is made, this I say is the only Son of God. But if you say the Word of the Word, grant that He is not made by whom all things are made; for He could not be made by means of Himself, by whom are made all things," in Joan. Tract. i. 11. Vid. a parallel argument with reference to the Holy Spirit, Athan. Serap. i. 25.

[Contributed by Dan Meardon, Cary, NC, USA]


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