Imperial Titles and Honours

{184} EUSEBIUS was emphatically the court bishop, but he did not observe the ecclesiastical rule in calling Constantine "most pious," § 14, Lett. App. Decr. "most wise and most religious," § 4, "most religious," § 8, § 10. (Nic. n. 47, &c.) He goes in his Vit. Const. further than this, and assigns to him the office of determining the faith (Constantine being as yet unbaptised). E.g. "When there were differences between persons of different countries, the Emperor, as if some common bishop appointed by God, convened Councils of God's ministers; and, not disdaining to be present, and to sit amid their conferences," &c. i. 44. When he came into the Nicene Council, "it was," says Eusebius, "as some heavenly Angel of God," iii. 10, alluding to the brilliancy of the imperial purple. He confesses, however, he did not sit down until the Bishops bade him. Again, at the same Council, "with pleasant eyes, looking serenity itself into them all, collecting himself, and in a quiet and gentle voice," he made an oration to the Fathers upon peace. Constantine had been an instrument in conferring such vast benefits, humanly speaking, on the Christian body, that it is not wonderful that other writers of the day besides Eusebius should praise him. Hilary speaks of him as "of sacred memory," Fragm. 5, init. {185} Athanasius calls him "most pious," Apol. contr. Arian. 9, "of blessed memory," Ep. Æg. 18, 19. Epiphanius "most religious and of ever-blessed memory," Hær. 70, 9. Posterity, as was natural, was still more grateful.

Up to the year 356, when Constantius took up the Anomœans, this was Athan.'s tone in speaking of him also. In his Apol. contr. Arian. init. (A.D. 350,) ad Ep. Æg. 5, (356,) and his Apol. ad Constant. passim (356,) he calls the Emperor most pious, religious, &c. At the end of the last-mentioned work, § 27, the news comes to him while in exile of the persecution of the Western Bishops and the measures against himself. He still in the peroration calls Constantius, "blessed and divinely favoured Augustus," and urges on him that he is a "Christian, [philochristos], Emperor." Vid. supr. art. Athanasius.

The honour paid to the Imperial Statues is well known. "He who crowns the Statue of the Emperor of course honours him whose image he has crowned." Ambros. in Psalm. 118, x. 25. vid. also Chrysost. Hom. on Statues, Oxf. Tr. pp. 355, 6, &c. Fragm. in Act. Conc. vii. (t. 4, p. 89, Hard.) Chrysostom's second persecution arose from his interfering with a statue of the Empress, which was so near the Church that the acclamations of the people before it disturbed the services. Socr. vi. 18. The Seventh Council speaks of the images sent by the Emperors into provinces instead of their coming in person; Ducange in v. Lauratum. Vid. a description of the imperial statues and their honours in Gothofred, Cod. Theod. t. 5, pp. 346, 347, and in {186} Philostorg. ii. 18, xii. 10. vid. also Molanus de Imaginibus ed. Paquot, p. 197.

From the custom of paying honour to the Imperial Statues, the Cultus Imaginum was introduced into the Eastern Church. The Western Church, not having had the civil custom, resisted. vid. Döllinger, Church History, vol. iii. p. 55. E. Tr. Certain Fathers, e.g. S. Jerome, set themselves against the civil custom, as idolatrous, comparing it to that paid to Nebuchadnezzar's statue, vid. Hieron. in Dan. iii. 18. Incense was burnt before those of the Emperors; as afterwards before the Images of the Saints. {187}

The Incarnation

1. Considered in its purpose

"THE need of man preceded His becoming man," says Athan., "apart from which He had not put on flesh. And what the need was for which He became man, He Himself thus signifies, I came down from heaven ... to do the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him that sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing; but, &c. &c. (John vi. 38-40), and again, I am come a Light into the World, &c., and again, To this end was I born, &c., that I should bear witness unto the truth (John xviii. 37), and John hath written, For this was manifested the Son of God, that he might destroy the works of the devil (1 John iii. 8). To give a witness, then, and for our sakes to undergo death, to raise men up and loose the works of the devil, the Saviour came, and this is the reason of His Incarnate Presence." Orat. ii. § 54.

However, there are theologians of great name, who consider that the decree of the Incarnation was independent of Adam's fall; and certainly by allowing that it was not absolutely necessary (vid. infra) for the divine forgiveness of sin, and that it was the actual and immediate means of the soul's renewal and sanctification, as we shall see presently, Athan. goes far towards {188} countenancing that belief. "Dico ex vi præentis decreti," says Viva (Curs. Theol. de Incarn. p. 74,) "Adamo non peccante Verbum fuisse incarnatum; atque adeo motivum Incarnationis non fuit sola redemptio, sed etiam et principalius ipsa Christi excellentia ac humanæ naturæ exaltatio. Ita Scotistæ, Suar. Martinon. et alii contra Thomistas. Angelicus vero qu. 1 a. 3 sententiam nostram censet probabilem, quamvis probabiliorem putet oppositam."

It is the general teaching of the Fathers in accordance with Athan., that our Lord would not have been incarnate had not man sinned. "Our cause was the occasion of His descent, and our transgression called forth the Word's love of man. Of His incarnation we became the ground." Athan. de Incarn. V. D. 4. vid. Thomassin, at great length, de Incarn. ii. 5-11, also Petav. de Incarn. ii. 17, 7-12. Vasquez. in 3 Thom. Disp. x. 4 and 5.

"Without His sojourning here at all, God was able to speak the word only and undo the curse ... but then the power indeed of Him who gave command had been shown, but man, though restored to what Adam was before the fall, would have received grace only from without, not had it united to his body ... Then, had he been again seduced by the serpent, a second need had arisen of God's commanding and undoing the curse; and this had gone on without limit, and men had remained under guilt just as before, being in slavery to sin; and ever sinning, they had ever needed pardon, and never been made free, being in themselves carnal, and ever defeated by the Law by reason of the infirmity {189} of the flesh." Orat. ii. 68. And so in Incarn. 7, he says that repentance might have been pertinent, had man merely offended, without corruption following (supra Freedom). vid. also 14. Athan. is supported by Naz. Orat. 19. 13; Theod. adv. Gent. vi. p. 876-7. Aug. de Trin. xiii. 13. The contrary view is taken by St. Anselm, but St. Thomas and the Schoolmen side with the Fathers. vid. Petav. Incarn. ii. 13.

On the subject of God's power, as contrasted with His acts, vid. Petav. de Deo, v. 6.

There were two reasons then for the Incarnation, viz. atonement for sin, and renewal in holiness, and these are ordinarily associated with each other by Athanasius.

These two ends of our Lord's Incarnation, that He might die for us, and that He might renew us, answer nearly to those specified in Rom. iv. 25, "who was delivered for our offences and raised again for our justification." The general object of His coming, including both of these, is treated of by Athanasius in Incarn. 4-20, or rather in the whole Tract, and in the two books against Apollinaris. It is difficult to make accurate references under the former head, (vid. supr. art. Atonement,) without including the latter. "Since all men had to pay the debt of death, on which account especially He came on earth, therefore after giving proofs of His Divinity from His works, next He offered a sacrifice for all," &c., and then the passage runs on into the other fruit of His death. Incarn. 20. Vid. also Orat. ii. § 7-9, where he speaks of our Lord as offering Himself, as offering His flesh to God; also Decr. § 14. And Orat. iv. § 6, he says, "When He is said {190} to hunger, to weep and weary, and to cry Eloi, which are human affections, He receives them from us and offers to His Father, interceding for us, that in Him they may be annulled." And so Theodoret, "Whereas He had an immortal nature, He willed according to the law of equity to put a stop to death's power, taking first on Himself from those who were exposed to death a first-fruit; and, preserving this nature immaculate and guiltless of sin, He surrenders it for death to seize upon as well as upon others, and to satiate its insatiableness; and then on the ground of its want of equity against that first-fruit, He put a stop to its iniquitous tyranny over others." Eran. iii. p. 196, 7. Vigil. Thaps. contr. Eutych. i. § 9, p. 496 (Bibl. Patr. ed. 1624).

And S. Leo speaks of the whole course of redemption, i.e. incarnation, atonement, regeneration, justification, &c., as one sacrament, not drawing the line distinctly between the several agents, elements, or stages in it, but considering it to lie in the intercommunion of Christ's person and ours. Thus he says that our Lord "took on Him all our infirmities which come of sin without sin;" and "the most cruel pains and death," because "none could be rescued from mortality, unless He, in whom our common nature was innocent, allowed Himself to die by the hands of the impious;" "unde," he continues, "in se credentibus et sacramentum condidit et exemplum, ut unum apprehenderent renascendo, alterum sequerentur imitando." Serm. 63, 4. He speaks of His fortifying us against our passions and infirmities, both "sacramento susceptionis" and "exemplo." Serm. 65, 2, and of a "duplex remedium cujus aliud in {191} sacramento, aliud in exemplo." Serm. 67, 5, also 69, 5. Elsewhere he makes the strong statement, "The Lord's passion is continued on [producitur] even to the end of the world; and as in His Saints He is honoured Himself, and Himself is loved, and in the poor He Himself is fed, is clothed Himself, so in all who endure trouble for righteousness' sake, does He Himself suffer together [compatitur]," Serm. 70, 5. vid. also more or less in Serm. pp. 76, 93, 98, 99, 141, 249, 257, 258, 271, fin. and Epist. pp. 1291, 1363, 1364. At other times, however, the atonement is more distinctly separated from its circumstances, pp. 136, 198, 310; but it is very difficult to draw the line. The tone of his teaching is throughout characteristic of the Fathers, and very like that of S. Athanasius. vid. arts. Atonement and Freedom.

2. Considered in itself

THE Two natures, the divine and human, both perfect, though remaining distinct, are in the Christ intimately and for ever one.

"Two natures," says S. Leo, "met together in our Redeemer, and, while what belonged to each remained, so great a unity was made of either substance, that from the time that the Word was made flesh in the Blessed Virgin's womb, we may neither think of Him as God without that which is man, nor as man without that which is God," &c. Vid. art. Two Natures.

And the principle of unity, viz. that in which they were united, was the Person of the Son. From this {192} unity of Person it comes to pass, first, that one and the same act on the part of our Lord may be both divine and human; (e.g. His curing with a touch, this is called the [theandrike energeia];) and secondly, that the acts and attributes of one nature may safely be ascribed as personal to the other; this is called the [antidosis idiomaton]. Thus it is true that "the Creator is the Lamb of God," though there can be no intrinsic union of attribute or act in Him who both in the beginning created and in the fulness of time suffered.

That Person which our Lord is after the Incarnation, He was before; His human nature is not a separate being; that is the heresy of the Nestorians. vid. Unity, &c. It has no personality belonging to it; but that human nature, though perfect as a nature, lives in and belongs to and is possessed by Him, the second Person of the Trinity, as an attribute or organ or inseparable accident of being, not as what is substantive, independent, or co-ordinate. Vid. articles [organon] and [parapetasma].

Personality is not necessary in order to a nature being perfect, as we see in the case of brute animals.

Nothing then follows from the union of the two natures, which circumscribes or limits the Divine Son; so to teach was the heresy of the Monophysites, who held that the Divinity and Manhood of Christ made up together one nature, as soul and body in man are one compound nature; from which it follows that neither of them is perfect. Vid. article [Mia physis]. {193}

The Divine Indwelling

OUR Lord, by becoming man, has found a way whereby to sanctify that nature, of which His own manhood is the pattern specimen. He inhabits us personally, and this inhabitation is effected by the channel of the Sacraments.

"Since the Word bore our body," says Athanasius, "and came to be in us ([gegonen]), therefore, by reason of the Word in us, is God called our Father." Decr. § 31. Vid. [ton en hemin huion]. Orat. ii. § 59, [ho logos theos en sarki ... heneka tou hagiazein ten sarka gegonen anthropos]. ibid. § 10, also § 56, and [ton en autois oikounta logon], § 61. Also Orat. i. § 50, iii. 23-25, iv. § 21. "We rise from the earth, the curse of sin being removed, because of Him who is in us," iii. § 33.

In thus teaching Athan. follows the language of Scripture, in which [en] means in our nature, though sometimes among us; vid. [ontos en hemin theos], 1 Cor. xiv. 25. [en emoi], Gal. i. 24. [entos humon], Luke xvii. 21. [eskenosen en hemin], John i. 14; also xiv. 17, 23; 1 Cor. vi. 20; 1 John iii. 24, &c.

By this indwelling our Lord is the immediate [arche] of spiritual life to each of His elect individually. [Ouk ho logos estin ho beltioumenos, eichen gar panta, all' hoi anthropoi hoi archen echontes tou lambanein en autoi {194} kai di autou]. Orat. i. 48. Vid. also what he says on the phrase [arche hodon]. Orat. ii. 48, &c. Also the note of the Benedictine editor on Justin's Tryphon. 61, referring to Tatian. c. Gent. S. Athenag. Apol. 10. Iren. Hær. iv. 20, n. 4. Origen in Joan. tom. i. 39. Tertull. Prax. 6, and Ambros. de Fid. iii. 7.

"Flesh being first sanctified in Him," says Athan., "and He being said on account of it to have received as man [the anointing], we have the sequel of the Spirit's grace receiving out of His fulness." Orat. i. 50. vid. art. Grace. Other Fathers use still stronger language. S. Chrysostom explains, "He is born of our Substance: you will say, 'This does not pertain to all;' yea, to all. He mingles ([anamignusin]) Himself with the faithful individually, through the mysteries, and whom He has begotten those He nurses from Himself, not puts them out to other hands," &c. Hom. 82, 5, in Matt., &c., &c. vid. art. Freedom.

In Orat. iii. § 33 S. Athanasius uses the strong phrase [logotheises tes sarkos], of regenerate human nature. Damascene speaks of the [logosis] of the flesh, but he means principally our Lord's flesh, F. O. iv. 18, p. 286, ed. Ven. For the words [theousthai], &c. vid. supr. art. Deification; also vid. The Flesh.

Nor is this all; we must go on to the results of this doctrine, as indicated in the following passages of Scripture which are referred to above: "Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?" 1 Cor. iii. 16, 17; vi. 15-20. 2 Cor. vi. 16, &c. It is plain that there is a special presence of God in those who are {195} real members of our Lord. To this St. Paul seems to refer when he says, "They glorified God in me," Gal. i. 24. To this and to other passages noted supr. Athanasius refers, when he says, "Because of our relationship to His Body we too have become God's temple, and in consequence are made God's sons, so that even in us the Lord is now worshipped, and beholders report, as the Apostle says, that God is in them of a truth." Orat. i. § 43. And S. Basil, arguing for the worship of the Holy Spirit, says, "Man in common is crowned with glory and honour, and glory and honour and peace are reserved in the promises for every one who doeth good. And there is a certain glory of Israel peculiar, and the Psalmist speaks of a glory of his own, 'Awake up my glory;' and there is a glory of the sun, and according to the Apostle even a ministration of condemnation with glory. So many then being glorified, choose you that the Spirit alone of all should be without glory?" de Sp. S. c. 24.

We are led on to a farther remark:—If even while we are in the flesh, soul and body become, by the in-dwelling of the Word, so elevated above their natural state, so sacred, that to profane them is a sacrilege, is it wonderful that the Saints above should so abound in prerogatives and privileges, and should claim a religious cultus, when once in the pleroma, and in the sight as in the fruition of the exuberant infinitude of God? {196}


MARCELLUS was Bishop of Ancyra in Galatia. In the early years of S. Athanasius's episcopate, he wrote his Answer to the Arian Asterius and others, which was the occasion, and forms the subject of Eusebius's "contra Marcellum" and "Ecclesiastica Theologia," and which is the only authentic existing document recording his opinions. "Now he replies to Asterius," says Eusebius, "now to the great Eusebius [of Nicomedia], and then he turns upon that man of God, that indeed thrice blessed person, Paulinus [of Tyre]. Then he goes to war with Origen ... Next he marches out against Narcissus, and pursues the other Eusebius," himself. "In a word, he counts for nothing all the Ecclesiastical Fathers, being satisfied with no one but himself." contr. Marc. i. 4. He was in consequence condemned in several Arian Councils, and retired to Rome, as did S. Athanasius, about the year 341, when both of them were formally acquitted of heterodoxy by the Pope in Council. Both were present, and both were again acquitted, at the Council of Sardica in 347. From this very date, however, the charges against him, which had hitherto been confined to the Arians, begin to find a voice among the Catholics. S. Cyril in his Catechetical Lectures, A.D. 347, speaks of the heresy which had lately arisen in Galatia, which denied Christ's {197} eternal reign, a description which both from country and tenet is evidently levelled at Marcellus. He is followed by S. Paulinus at the Council of Arles, and by S. Hilary, in the years which follow; but S. Athanasius seems to have acknowledged him down to about A.D. 360. At length the latter began to own that Marcellus "was not far from heresy," vid. below, and S. Hilary and S. Sulpicius say that he separated from his communion. S. Hilary adds (Fragm. ii. 21) that Athanasius was decided in this course, not by Marcellus's work against Asterius, but by publications posterior to the Council of Sardica. Photinus, the disciple of Marcellus, who had published the very heresy imputed to the latter before A.D. 345, had now been deposed for some years, with the unanimous consent of all parties.

Thus for ten years Marcellus was disowned by the Saint with whom he had shared so many trials; but in the very end of S. Athanasius's life a transaction took place between himself, S. Basil, and the Galatian school, which issued in his being induced again to think more favourably of Marcellus, or at least to think it right in charity to consider him in communion with the Church. S. Basil had taken a strong part against him, and wrote to S. Athanasius on the subject, Ep. 69, 2, thinking that Athanasius's apparent countenance of him did harm to the Catholic cause. Upon this the accused party sent a deputation to Alexandria, with a view of setting themselves right with Athanasius. Eugenius, deacon of their Church, was their representative, and he, in behalf of his brethren, subscribed a statement in {198} vindication of his and their orthodoxy, which was countersigned by the clergy of Alexandria and apparently by S. Athanasius, though his name does not appear among the extant signatures. This important document, which was brought to light and published by Montfaucon, speaks in the name of "the Clergy and the others assembled in Ancyra of Galatia, with our father Marcellus." He, as well as Athanasius himself, died immediately after this transaction, Marcellus in extreme age, being at least twenty years older than Athanasius, who himself lived till past the age of seventy. One might trust that the life of the former was thus prolonged, till he really recanted the opinions which go under his name; yet viewing him historically, and not in biography, it still seems right, and is in accordance with the usage of the Church in other cases, to consider him rather in his works and in his school and its developments, than in his own person and in his penitence.

Whether S. Athanasius wrote the controversial passages which form Orat. iv. against him or against his school, in either case it was prior to the date of the explanatory document signed by Eugenius; nor is its interpretation affected by that explanation. As to S. Hilary's statement, that S. Athanasius did not condemn the particular work of Marcellus against Asterius, of which alone portions remain to us, his evidence in other parts of the history is not sufficiently exact for us to rely on his evidence in Marcellus's favour, against the plainly heretical import of the statements made in that work. Those statements were as follows:—

Marcellus held, according to Eusebius, that (1) there {199} was but one person, [prosopon], in the Divine Nature; but he differed from Sabellius in maintaining, (2) not that the Father was the Son and the Son the Father, (which is called the doctrine of the [huiopator],) but that (3) Father and Son were mere names or titles, and ( 4) not expressive of essential characteristics,—names or titles given to Almighty God and (5) to His Eternal Word, on occasion of the Word's appearing in the flesh, in the person, or subsistence ([hypostasis]) of Jesus Christ the Son of Mary. The Word, he considered, was from all eternity in the one God, being analogous to man's reason within him, or the [endiathetos logos] of the philosophical schools. (6) This One God or [monas], has condescended to extend or expand Himself, [platunesthai], to effect our salvation. (7 and 8) The expansion consists in the action, [energeia], of the [logos], which then becomes the [logos prophorikos] or voice of God, instead of His inward Reason. (9) The incarnation is a special divine expansion, viz. an expansion in the flesh of Jesus, Son of Mary; (10) in order to which the Word went forth, as at the end of the dispensation He will return. Consequently the [logos] is not (11) the Son, nor (12) the Image of God, nor the Christ, nor the First-begotten, nor King, but Jesus is all these; and if these titles are applied to the Word in Scripture, they are applied prophetically, in anticipation of His manifestation in the flesh. (13) And when He has accomplished the object of His coming, they will cease to apply to Him; for He will leave the flesh, return to God, and be merely the Word as before; and His Kingdom, as being the {200} Kingdom of the flesh or manhood, will come to an end.

This account of the tenets of Marcellus comes, it is true, from an enemy, who was writing against him, and moreover from an Arian or Arianiser, who was least qualified to judge of the character of tenets which were so opposite to his own. Yet there is no reason to doubt its correctness on this account. Eusebius supports his charges by various extracts from Marcellus's works, and he is corroborated by the testimony of others. Moreover, if Athanasius's account of the tenets against which he himself writes in his fourth Oration, answers to what Eusebius tells us of those of Marcellus, as in fact they do, the coincidence confirms Eusebius as well as explains Athanasius. And further, the heresy of Photinus, the disciple of Marcellus, which consisted in the very doctrines which Eusebius deduces from the work of Marcellus, gives an additional weight to such deductions.

He wrote his work against Asterius not later than 335, the year of the Arian Council of Jerusalem, which at once took cognisance of it, and cited Marcellus to appear before them. The same year a Council held at Constantinople condemned and deposed him, about the time that Arius came thither for re-admission into the Church. From that time his name is frequently introduced into the Arian anathemas, vid. Macrostich, Syn. § 26. By adding in that document "those who communicate with him," the Eusebians intended to strike at the Roman see, which had acquitted Marcellus in a Council held in June of the same year. {201}

The Arians of Alexandria, writing to Alexander, (Syn. § 16) speak of the Son "not as existing before, and afterwards generated or new created into a Son." One school of theologians may be aimed at, who held our Lord's [sunkatabasis] to create the world was His [gennesis], and certainly such language as that of Hippol. contr. Noet. § 15, favours the supposition. But a class of the Sabellians may more probably be intended, who held that the Word became the Son, on His incarnation, such as Marcellus, vid. Euseb. Eccles. Theol. i. 1. contr. Marc. ii. 3. vid. also Eccles. Theol ii. 9, p. 114. b. [med' allote allen k. t. l.]. Also the Macrostich says, "We anathematise those who call Him the mere Word of God, ... not allowing Him to be Christ and Son of God before all ages, but from the time He took on Him our flesh ... such are the followers of Marcellus and Photinus, &c." Syn. § 26. Again, Athanasius, Orat. iv. 15, says that of those who divide the Word from the Son, some called our Lord's manhood the Son, some the two Natures together, and some said "that the Word Himself became the Son when He was made man." It makes it the more likely that Marcellus is meant, that Asterius seems to have written against him before the Nicene Council, and that Arius in other of his writings borrowed from Asterius, vid. de Decret. § 8; though it must not be forgotten that some of the early Fathers spoke unadvisedly on this subject, vid. the author's Theological Tracts.

In the fourth (Arian) Confession of Antioch (supr. vol. i. p. 101) words are used which answer to those added in the second General Council (381) to the Creed, and are {202} directed against the doctrine of Marcellus, who taught that the Word was but a divine energy, manifested in Christ and retiring from Him at the consummation of all things, when the manhood or flesh of Christ would consequently no longer reign. "How can we admit," says Marcellus in Eusebius, "that that flesh, which is from the earth and profiteth nothing, should co-exist with the Word in the ages to come as serviceable to Him?" de Eccl. Theol. iii. 8. Again, "If He has received a beginning of His Kingdom not more than four hundred years past, it is no paradox that He who gained that kingdom so short a while since, should be said by the Apostle to deliver it up to God. What are we to gather about the human flesh, which the Word bore for us, not four hundred years since? will the Word have it in the ages to come, or only to the judgment season?" iii. 17. And, "Should any ask whether that flesh which is in the Word has become immortal, we say to him, that we count it not safe to pronounce on points of which we learn not for certain from divine Scripture." Ibid. 10.

Pope Julius acquitted Marcellus, Athan. Apol. Ar. 32, A.D. 341, but it would seem that he did not eventually preserve himself from heresy, even if he deserved a favourable judgment at that time. Athan. also sides with him, de Fug. 3. Hist. Arian. 6, but Epiphanius records, that, once on his asking Athan. what he (Athan.) thought of Marcellus, a smile came on his face, as if he had an opinion of him which he did not like to express, or which Epiphanius ought not to have asked for. Hær. 72, 4. And S. Hilary says that {203} Athan. separated Marcellus from his communion, because he agreed with his disciple, Photinus. He is considered heretical by Epiphanius, l.c.; by Basil, Epp. 69, 125, 263, 265; Chrysost. in Heb. i. 8; Theod. Hær. ii. 10; by Petavius, far more strongly by Bull. Montfaucon defends him, Tillemont, and Natal. Alex. {204}

The Blessed Mary

1. Mary Ever-Virgin

THIS title is found in Athan. Orat. ii. § 70. "Let those who deny that the Son is from the Father by nature and proper to His substance, deny also that He took true human flesh of Mary Ever-Virgin." Vid. also Athan. Comm. in Luc. in Collect. Nov. t. 2, p. 43. Epiph. Hær. 78, 5. Didym. Trin. i. 27, p. 84. Rufin. Fid. i. 43. Lepor. ap. Cassian. Incarn. i. 5. Leon. Ep. 28, 2. Pseudo-Basil, t. 2, p. 598. Cæsarius has [aepiais]. Qu. 20. On the doctrine itself, vid. the controversial Tract of S. Jerome against Helvidius; also a letter of S. Ambrose and his brethren to Siricius, and the Pope's letter in response. Coust. Ep. Pont. t. i. p. 669-682.

Pearson, Bishop of Chester, writes well upon this subject. Creed, Art. 3. (A passage from him is also incidentally quoted infr. art. [eusebeia].) He says here, "As we are taught by the predictions of the Prophets that a Virgin was to be Mother of the promised Messias, so are we assured by the infallible relation of the Evangelists, that this Mary 'was a Virgin when she bare Him.' ... Neither was her act of parturition more contradictory to virginity than that former [act] of conception. Thirdly, we believe the Mother of our {205} Lord to have been, not only before and after His nativity, but also for ever, the most immaculate and blessed Virgin ... The peculiar eminency and unparalleled privilege of that Mother, the special honour and reverence due unto her Son and ever paid by her, the regard of that Holy Ghost who came upon her, the singular goodness and piety of Joseph to whom she was espoused, have persuaded the Church of God in all ages to believe that she still continued in the same virginity, and therefore is to be acknowledged as the Ever-Virgin Mary." Creed, Art. 3.

He adds that "many have taken the boldness to deny this truth, because not recorded in the sacred writ," but "with no success." He replies to the argument from "until" in Matt. i. 25 by referring to Gen. xxviii. 15, Deut. xxxiv. 6, 1 Sam. xv. 35, 2 Sam. vi. 23, Matt. xxviii. 20.

He might also have referred to Psalm cix. 1 and 1 Cor. xv. 25, which are the more remarkable because they were urged by the school of Marcellus as a proof that our Lord's kingdom would have an end, and are explained by Euseb. himself, Eccl. Theol. iii. 13, 14. Vid. also Cyr. Cat. 15, 29, Naz. Orat. 30. 4, where the true force of "until" is well brought out,—"He who is King before He subdued His enemies, how shall He not the rather be King after He has got the mastery over them?"

I have said in a note on the word in the Aurea Catena, that the word "till" need not imply a termination at a certain point of time, but may be given as information up to a certain point from which onwards there is {206} already no doubt. Supposing an Evangelist thought the very notion shocking that Joseph should have considered the Blessed Virgin as his wife, after he was witness of her bearing the Son of God, he would only say that the vision had its effect upon him up to that date, when the idea was monstrous. If one said of a profligate, that, in consequence of some awful warning, he had said a prayer for grace every night up to the time of his conversion, no one would gather thence that he left off praying on being converted. "Michal the daughter of Saul had no child to the day of her death;" had she children after it? This indeed is one of Pearson's references. Vid. also Suicer de Symb. Niceno-Const. p. 231. Spanheim, Dub. Evang. part i. 28, 11.

Athan. elsewhere compares the Virgin's flesh to the pure earth of Paradise out of which Adam was formed. She is [anergastos ge]. Orat. ii. § 7, and so Iren. Hær. iii. 21 fin., and Tertullian, "That virgin earth, not yet watered by rains, nor impregnated by showers, from which man was formed in the beginning, from which Christ is now born according to the flesh from a Virgin." Adv. Jud. 13, vid. de Carn. Christ 17. "Ex terra virgine Adam, Christus ex virgine." Ambros. in Luc. lib. iv. 7. Vid. also the parallel drawn out t. v. Serm. 147. App. S. August. and in Proclus, Orat. 2, pp. 103, 4, ed. 1630, vid. also Chrysost. t. 3, p. 113, ed. Ben. and Theodotus at Ephesus, "O earth unsown, yet bearing a salutary fruit, O Virgin, who didst surpass the very Paradise of Eden," &c. Conc. Eph. p. 4 (Hard. t. i. p. 1643). And so Proclus again, "She, the {207} flowering and incorruptible Paradise, in whom the Tree of Life," &c. Orat. 6, p. 227. And Basil of Seleucia, "Hail, full of grace, the amaranthine Paradise of purity, in whom the Tree of Life," &c. Orat. in Annunc. p. 215. And p. 212, "Which, think they, is the harder to believe, that a virgin womb should be with child, or the ground  should be animated?" &c. And Hesychius, "Garden unsown, Paradise of immortality." Bibl. Patr. Par. 1624. t. 2, pp. 421, 423.

Vid. the well-known passage in S. Ignatius, ad Eph. 19, where the devil is said to have been ignorant of the Virginity of Mary, and of the Nativity and the Death of Christ; Orig. Hom. 6, in Luc. Basil, (if Basil,) Hom. in t. 2, App. p. 598, ed. Ben. and Jerome in Matt. i. 18, who quote it; vid. also Leon. Serm. 22, 3. Clement. Eclog. Proph. p. 1002, ed. Potter.

"Many," says Athanasius, "have been made holy and clean from all sin; nay, Jeremias was hallowed even from the womb, and John, while yet in the womb, leapt for joy at the voice of Mary Mother of God." Orat. iii. § 33. vid. Jer. i. 5. And so S. Jerome, S. Leo, &c. as mentioned in Corn. à. Lap. in loc. who adds that S. Ephrem considers Moses also sanctified in the womb, and S. Ambrose Jacob. S. Jerome implies a similar gift in the case of Asella (ad Marcell. Ep. 24, 2). And of S. John Baptist, Maldon. in Luc. i. 15.

It is at first strange that these instances of special exemptions should be named by early writers, without our Lady also being mentioned; or rather it would be strange, unless we bore in mind how little is {208} said of her at all by Scripture or the Fathers up to the Council of Ephesus, A.D. 431. It would seem as if, till our Lord's glory called for it, it required an effort for the reverent devotion of the Church to speak much about her or to make her the subject of popular preaching; but, when by her manifestation a right faith in her Divine Son was to be secured, then the Church was to be guided in a contrary course. It must be recollected that there was a disciplina arcani in the first centuries, and, if it was exercised, as far as might be, as regards the Holy Trinity and the Eucharist, so would it be as regards the Blessed Virgin.

I have insisted upon this deep sentiment of reverence in matters of sacred doctrine in my "History of the Arians," written long before I was a Catholic, and I may fairly quote here one of several passages contained in it, in solution of a difficulty with which at that time I was not concerned. For instance, I say, ch. 2, § 1:—"The meaning and practical results of deep-seated religious reverence were far better understood in the primitive times than now, when the infidelity of the world has corrupted the Church. Now, we allow ourselves publicly to canvass the most solemn truths in a careless or fiercely argumentative way; truths, which it is as useless as it is unseemly to discuss before men, as being attainable only by the sober and watchful, by slow degrees, with dependence on the Giver of wisdom, and with strict obedience to the light which has already been granted. Then, they would scarcely express in writing, what now is not only {209} preached to the mixed crowds who frequent our churches, but circulated in prints among all ranks and classes of the unclean and the profane, and pressed upon all who choose to purchase. Nay, so perplexed is the present state of things, that the Church is obliged to change her course of acting, after the spirit of the alteration made at Nicæa, and unwillingly to take part in the theological discussions of the day, as a man crushes venomous creatures of necessity, powerful to do it, but loathing the employment." I am corroborated in my insistence on this principle by the words of Sozomen, who says, "I formerly deemed it necessary to transmit the confession drawn up by the unanimous consent of the Nicene Council, in order that posterity might possess a public record of the truth; but subsequently I was persuaded to the contrary by some godly and learned men, who represented that such matters ought to be kept secret, as only requisite to be known by disciples and their instructors." Hist. i. 20.

In an Anglican Sermon of a later date, I apply this instinctive feeling to the fact of the silence of Scripture about the Blessed Virgin in its narrative of the Resurrection. "Here perhaps," I say, "we learn a lesson from the deep silence which Scripture observes concerning the Blessed Virgin after the Resurrection; as if she, who was too pure and holy a flower to be more than seen here on earth, even during the season of her Son's humiliation, was altogether drawn by the Angels into paradise on His Resurrection," &c. Par. Serm. vol. iv. 23. And I refer in a note to {210} the following passage in the Christian Year:

"God only, and good angels, look
          Behind the blissful screen,—
As when, triumphant o'er His woes,
The Son of God by moonlight rose,
          By all but Heaven unseen;
As when the Holy Maid beheld
          Her risen Son and Lord,
Thought has not colours half so fair,
That we to paint that hour may dare,
          In silence best adored."

Such doubtless were the spirit and the tone of the Church till Nestorius came forward to deny that the Son of God was the Son of Mary. Thenceforward her title of Theotocos, already in use among Christian writers, became dogmatic.

2. Mary Theotocos

Mater Dei. Mother of God. Vid. art. [antidosis idiomaton]. Athanasius gives the title to the Blessed Virgin, Orat. iii. § 14, § 29, § 33. Orat. iv. 32. Incarn. c. Ar. 8, 22.

As to the history of this title, Theodoret, who from his party would rather be disinclined towards it, says that "the most ancient ([ton palai kai propalai]) heralds of the orthodox faith taught the faithful to name and believe the Mother of the Lord [theotokos], according to the Apostolical tradition." Hær. iv. 12. And John of Antioch, whose championship of Nestorius and quarrel {211} with S. Cyril are well known, writes to the former, "This title no ecclesiastical teacher has put aside; those who have used it are many and eminent, and those who have not used it have not attacked those who used it." Concil. Eph. part i. c. 25. (Labb.) And Alexander, the most obstinate or rather furious of all Nestorius's adherents, who died in banishment in Egypt, fully allows the ancient reception of the word, though only into popular use, from which came what he considers the doctrinal corruption. "That in festive solemnities, or in preaching and teaching, [theotokos] should be unguardedly said by the orthodox without explanation, is no blame, because such statements were not dogmatic, nor said with evil meaning. But now after the corruption of the whole world," &c. Lup. Ephes. Epp. 94. He adds that it, as well as [anthropotokos], "was used by the great doctors of the Church." Socrates, Hist. vii. 32, says that Origen, in the first tome of his Commentary on the Romans (vid. de la Rue in Rom. lib. i. 5, the original is lost), treated largely of the word; which implies that it was already in use. "Interpreting," he says, "how [theotokos] is used, he discussed the question at length." Constantine implies the same, with an allusion to pagan mythology of an unpleasant kind; he says, "When He had to draw near to a body of this world, and to tarry on earth, the need so requiring, He contrived a sort of irregular birth of Himself, [nothen tina genesin]; for without marriage was there conception, and childbirth, [eileithuia], from a pure Virgin, and a maid, the Mother of God, [theou meter kore]." Ad. Sanct.. Cœt. p. 480. The idea must have been familiar to {212} Christians before Constantine's date to be recognised by him, a mere catechumen, and to be virtually commented on by such a parallelism.

For instances of the word [theotokos], besides Origen. ap. Socr. vii. 32, vid. Euseb. V. Const. iii. 43, in Psalm. cix. 4, 703, Montf. Nov. Coll.; Alexandr. Ep. ad Alex. ap. Theodor. Hist. i. 3, p. 745; Athan. (supra); Cyril. Cat. x. 19; Julian Imper. ap. Cyril. c. Jul. viii. p. 262; Amphiloch. Orat. 4, p. 41 (if Amphil.) ed. 1644; Nyssen. Ep. ad Eustath. p. 1093; Chrysost. apud Suicer Symb. t. ii. p. 240; Greg. Naz. Orat. 29. 4; Ep. 101, p. 85, ed. Ben. Antiochus and Ammon. ap. Cyril. de Recta Fid. pp. 49, 50; Pseudo-Dion. contr. Samos. 5, p. 240; Pseudo-Basil. Hom. t. 2, p. 600, ed. Ben.

Pearson on the Creed (notes on Art. 3), arguing from Ephrem. ap. Phot. Cod. 228, p. 775, says the phrase Mater Dei originated with St. Leo. On the contrary, besides in Constantine's Oration as above, it is found, before S. Leo. in Ambros. de Virg. ii. 7; Cassian. Incarn. ii. 5, vii. 25; Vincent. Lir. Commonit. 21. It is obvious that [theotokos], though framed as a test against Nestorians, was equally effective against Apollinarians and Eutychians, who denied that our Lord had taken human flesh at all, as is observed by Facundus Def. Trium Cap. i. 4. And so S. Cyril, "Let it be carefully observed, that nearly this whole contest about the faith has been created against us for our maintaining that the Holy Virgin is Mother of God; now, if we hold," as was the calumny, "that the Holy Body of Christ our common Saviour was from heaven, and not born of her, how can she be considered as {213} Mother of God?" Epp. pp. 106, 7. Yet these sects, as the Arians, maintained the term. Vid. supr. Heresies.

As to the doctrine, which the term implies and guards, the following are specimens of it. Vid. S. Cyril's quotations in his de Recta Fide, p. 49, &c. "The fleshless," says Atticus, "becomes flesh, the impalpable is handled, the perfect grows, the unalterable advances, the rich is brought forth in an inn, the coverer of heaven with clouds is swathed, the king is laid in a manger." Antiochus speaks of Him, our Saviour, "with whom yesterday in an immaculate bearing Mary travailed, the Mother of life, of beauty, of majesty, the Morning Star," &c. "The Maker of all," says S. Amphilochius, "is born to us today of a Virgin." "She did compass," says S. Chrysostom, "without circumscribing the Sun of righteousness. Today the Everlasting is born, and becomes what He was not. He who sitteth on a high and lofty throne is placed in a manger, the impalpable, incomposite, and immaterial is wrapped around by human hands; He who snaps the bands of sin, is environed in swathing bands." And in like manner S. Cyril himself, "As a woman, though bearing the body only, is said to bring forth one who is made up of body and soul, and that will be no injury to the interests of the soul, as if it found in flesh the origin of its existence, so also in the instance of the Blessed Virgin, though she is Mother of the Holy Flesh, yet she bore God of God the Word, as being in truth one with it." Adv. Nest. i. p. 18. "God dwelt in the womb, yet was not circumscribed; whom the heaven containeth not, the Virgin's frame did not {214} straiten." Procl. Orat. i. p. 60. "When thou hearest that God speaks from the bush, and Moses falling on his face worships, believest thou, not considering the fire that is seen, but God that speaks? and yet, when I mention the Virgin womb, dost thou abominate and turn away? ... In the bush seest thou not the Virgin, in the fire the loving-kindness of Him who came?" Theodotus of Ancyra ap. Conc. Eph. (p. 1529, Labb.) "Not only did Mary bear her Elder," says Cassian in answer to an objector, "but her Author, and giving birth to Him from whom she received it, she became parent of her Parent. Surely it is as easy for God to give nativity to Himself, as to man; to be born of man, as to make men born. For God's power is not circumscribed in His own Person, that He should not do in Himself what He can do in all." Incarn. iv. 2. "The One God Only-begotten, of an ineffable origin from God, is introduced into the womb of the Holy Virgin, and grows into the form of a human body. He who contrives all ... is brought forth according to the law of a human birth; He at whose voice Archangels tremble ... and the world's elements are dissolved, is heard in the wailing of an infant," &c. Hil. Trin. ii. 25. "'My beloved is white and ruddy;' white truly, because the Brightness of the Father, ruddy, because the Birth of a Virgin. In Him shines and glows the colour of each nature; ... He did not begin from a Virgin, but the Everlasting came into a Virgin." Ambros. Virgin. i. n. 46. "Him, whom, coming in His simple Godhead, not heaven, not earth, not sea, not any creature had endured, {215} Him the inviolate womb of a Virgin carried." Chrysost. ap. Cassian. Incarn. vii. 30. "Happily do some understand by the 'closed gate,' by which only 'the Lord God of Israel enters,' that Prince on whom the gate is closed, to be the Virgin Mary, who both before and after her bearing remained a Virgin." Jerom. in Ezek. 44. init. "Let them tell us," says Capreolus of Carthage, "how is that Man from Heaven, if He be not God conceived in the womb?" ap. Sirm. Opp. t. i. p. 216. "He is made in thee," says S. Austin, "who made thee ... nay, through whom heaven and earth is made; ... the Word of God in thee is made flesh, receiving flesh, not losing Godhead. And the Word is joined, is coupled to the flesh, and of this so high wedding thy womb is the nuptial chamber," &c. Serm. 291, 6. "Say, O blessed Mary," says S. Hippolytus, "what was It which by thee was conceived in the womb, what carried by thee in that virgin frame? It was the Word of God," &c. ap. Theod. Eran. i. p. 55. "There is one physician," says S. Ignatius, "fleshly and spiritual, generate and ingenerate, God come in the flesh, in death true life, both from Mary and from God, first passible, then impassible, Jesus Christ our Lord." Ep. ad Eph. 7.

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


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