...talisman of lead...

Four discourses against the arians

CHAPTER III.

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE SUBJECT.

The Arians affect Scripture language, but their doctrine new, as well as

unscriptural. Statement of the Catholic doctrine, that the Son is proper to

the Father's substance, and eternal. Restatement of Arianism in contrast, that

He is a creature with a beginning: the controversy comes to this issue,

whether one whom we are to believe in as God, can be so in name only, and is

merely a creature. What pretence then for being indifferent in the

controversy? The Arians rely on state patronage, and dare not avow their

tenets.

8. If then the use of certain phrases of divine Scripture changes, in

their opinion, the blasphemy of the Thalia into reverent language, of course

they ought also to deny Christ with the present Jews, when they see how they

study the Law and the Prophets; perhaps too they will deny the Law(1) and the

Prophets like Manichees(2), because. the latter read some portions of the

Gospels. If such bewilderment and empty speaking be from ignorance, Scripture

will teach them, that the devil, the author of heresies, because of the ill

savour which attaches to evil, borrows Scripture language, as a cloak

wherewith to sow the ground with his own poison also, and to seduce the

simple. Thus he deceived Eve; thus he framed former heresies; thus he

persuaded Arius at this time to make a show of speaking against those former

ones, that he might introduce his own without observation. And yet, after all,

the man of craft did not escape. For being irreligious towards the Word of

God, he lost his all at once(2a), and betrayed to all men his ignorance of

other heresies too(3); and having not a particle of truth in his belief, does

but pretend to it. For how can he speak truth concerning the Father, who

denies the Son, that reveals concerning Him? or how can he be orthodox

concerning the Spirit, while he speaks profanely of the Word that supplies the

Spirit? anti who will trust him concerning the Resurrection, denying, as he

does, Christ for us the first-begotten from the dead? and how shall he not err

in respect to His incarnate presence, who is simply ignorant of the Son's

genuine and true generation from the Father? For thus, the former Jews also,

denying the Word, and saying, 'We have no king but Caesar(4),' were forthwith

stripped of all they had, and forfeited the light of the Lamp, the odour of

ointment, knowledge of prophecy, and the Truth itself; till now they

understand nothing, but are walking as in darkness. For who was ever yet a

hearer of such a doctrines(5)? or whence or from whom did the abettors and

hirelings(6) of the heresy gain it? who thus expounded to them when they were

at school(7)? who told them, 'Abandon the worship of the creation, and then

draw near and worship a creature and a works(8)?' But if they themselves own

that they have heard it now for the first time, how can they deny that this

heresy is foreign, and not from our fathers(9)? But wha is not from our

fathers, but has come to light in this day, how can it be but that of which

the blessed Paul(10) has foretold, that 'in the latter times some shall depart

from the sound faith,

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giving heed to seducing spirits and doctrines of devils, in the hypocrisy of

liars; cauterized in their own conscience, and turning from the truth"?'

9. For, behold, we take divine Scripture, and thence discourse with

freedom of the religious Faith, and set it up as a light upon its candlestick,

saying:--Very Son of the Father, natural and genuine, proper to His essence,

Wisdom Only-begotten, and Very and Only Word of God is He; not a creature or

work, but an offspring proper to the Father's essence. Wherefore He is very

God, existing one[12] in essence with the very Father; while other beings, to

whom He said, 'I said ye are Gods[1],' had this grace from the Father, only by

participation[2] of the Word, through the Spirit. For He is the expression of

the Father's Person and Light from Light, and Power, and very Image of the

Father's essence. For this too the Lord has said, 'He that hath seen Me, hath

seen the Father[3].' And He ever was and is and never was not. For the Father

being everlasting, His Word and His Wisdom must be everlasting[4]. On the

other hand, what have these persons to shew us from the infamous Thalia? Or,

first of all, let them read it themselves, and copy the tone of the writer; at

least the mockery which they will encounter from others may instruct them how

low they have fallen; and then let them proceed to explain themselves. For

what can they say from it, but that 'God was not always a Father, but became

so afterwards; the Son was not always, for He was not before His generation;

He is not from the Father, but He, as others, has come into subsistence out of

nothing; He is not proper to the Father's essence, for He is a creature and

work?' And 'Christ is not very God, but He, as others, was made God by

participation; the Son has not exact knowledge of the Father, nor does the

Word see the Father perfectly; and neither exactly understands nor knows the

Father. He is not the very and only Word of the Father, but is in name only

called Word and Wisdom, and is called by grace Son and Power. He is not

unalterable, as the Father is, but alterable in nature, as the creatures, and

He comes short of apprehending the perfect knowledge of the Father.' Wonderful

this heresy, not plausible even, but making speculations against Him that is,

that He be not, and everywhere putting forward blasphemy for reverent

language! Were any one, after requiring into both sides, to be asked, whether

of the two he would follow in faith, or whether of the two spoke fitly of

God,--or rather let them say themselves, these abettors of irreligion, what,

if a man be asked concerning God (for 'the Word was God'), it were fit to

answer[5]. For from this one question the whole case on both sides may be

determined, what is fitting to say,--He was, or He was not; always, or before

His birth; eternal, or from this and from then; true, or by adoption, and from

participation and in idea[6]; to call Him one of things originated, or to

unite Him to the Father; to consider Him unlike the Father in essence, or like

and proper to Him; a creature, or Him through whom the creatures were

originated; that He is the Father's Word, or that there is another word beside

Him, and that by this other He was originated, and by another wisdom; and that

He is only named Wisdom and Word, and is become a partaker of this wisdom, and

second to it?

10. Which of the two theologies sets forth our Lord Jesus Christ as God

and Son of the Father, this which you vomited forth, or that which we have

spoken and maintain from the Scriptures? If the Saviour be not God, nor Word,

nor Son, you shall have leave to say what you will, and so shall the Gentiles,

and the present Jews. But if He be Word of the Father and true Son, and God

from God, and 'over all blessed for ever[7],' is it not becoming to obliterate

and blot out those other phrases and that Arian Thalia, as but a pattern of

evil, a store of all irreligion, into which, whoso falls, 'knoweth not that

giants perish with her, and reacheth the depths of Hades[8]?' This they know

themselves, and in their craft they conceal it, not having the courage to

speak out, but uttering something else[9]. For if they speak, a condemnation

will follow; and if they be suspected, proofs from Scripture will be cast[10]

at them from every side. Wherefore, in their craft, as children of this world,

after feeding their

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so-called lamp from the wild olive, and fearing lest it should soon be

quenched (for it is said, 'the light of the wicked shall be put out[1],') they

hide it under the bushel[2] of their hypocrisy, and make a different

profession, and boast of patronage of friends and authority of Constantius,

that what with their hypocrisy and their professions, those who come to them

may be kept from seeing how foul their heresy is. Is it not detestable even in

this, that it dares not speak out, but is kept hid by its own friends, and

fostered as serpents are? for from what sources have they got together these

words? or from whom have they received what they venture to say[3]? Not any

one man can they specify who has supplied it. For who is there in all mankind,

Greek or Barbarian, who ventures to rank among creatures One whom he confesses

the while to be God and says, that He was not till He was made? or who is

there, who to the God in whom he has put faith, refuses to give credit, when

He says, 'This is My beloved Son[4],' on the pretence that He is not a Son,

but a creature? rather, such madness would rouse an universal indignation. Nor

does Scripture afford them any pretext; for it has been often shewn, and it

shall be shewn now, that their doctrine is alien to the divine oracles.

Therefore, since all that remains is to say that from the devil came their

mania (for of such opinions he alone is sower[5]), proceed we to resist

him;for with him is our real conflict, and they are but instruments;--that,

the Lord aiding us, and the enemy, as he is wont, being overcome with

arguments, they may be put to shame, when they see him without resource who

sowed this heresy in them, and may learn, though late, that, as being Arians,

they are not Christians.

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