...talisman of lead...

Four discourses against the arians



Objection, that the Son's eternity makes Him coordinate with the Father,

introduces the subject of His Divine Sonship, as a second proof of His

eternity. The word Son is introduced in a secondary, but is to be understood

in real sense. Since all things partake of the Father in partaking of the Son,

He is the whole participation of the Father, that is, He is the Son by nature;

for to be wholly participated is to beget.

14. WHEN these points are thus proved, their profaneness goes further. 'If

there never was, when the Son was not,' say they, 'but He is eternal, and

coexists with the Father, you call Him no more the Father's Son, but

brother[1].' O insensate and contentious! For if we said only that He was

eternally with the Father, and not His Son, their pretended scruple would have

some plausibility; but if, while we say that He is eternal, we also confess

Him to be Son from the Father, how can He that is begotten be considered

brother of Him who begets? And if our faith is in Father and Son, what

brotherhood is there between them? and how can the Word be called brother of

Him whose Word He is? This is not an objection of men really ignorant, for

they comprehend how the truth lies; but it is a Jewish pretence, and that from

those who, in Solomon's words, through desire separate themselves[2]' from the

truth. For the Father and the Son were not generated front some pre-existing

origin[3], that we may account Them brothers, but the Father is the Origin of

the Son and begat Him; and the Father is Father, and not born the Son of any;

and the Son is Son, and not brother. Further, if He is called the eternal

offspring[4] of the Father, He is rightly so called. For never was the essence

of the Father imperfect, that what is proper to it should be added

afterwards[5]; nor, as man from man,


has the Son been begotten, so as to be later than His Father's existence, but

He is God's offspring, and as being proper Son of God, who is ever, He exists

eternally. For, whereas it is proper to men to beget in time, from the

imperfection of their nature[6], God's offspring is eternal, for His nature is

ever perfect[7]. If then He is not a Son, but a work made out of nothing, they

have but to prove it; and then they are at liberty, as if imagining about a

creature, to cry out, 'There was once when He was not;' for things which are

originated were not, and have come to be. But if He is Son, as the Father

says, and the Scriptures proclaim, and 'Son' is nothing else than what is

generated from the Father; and what is generated from the Father is His Word,

and Wisdom, and Radiance; what is to be said but that, in maintaining 'Once

the Son was not,' they rob God of His Word, like plunderers, and openly

predicate of Him that He was once without His proper Word and Wisdom, and that

the Light was once without radiance, and the Fountain was once barren and

dry[8]? For though they pretend alarm at the name of time, because of those

who reproach them with it, and say, that He was before times, yet whereas they

assign certain intervals, in which they imagine He was not, they are most

irreligious still, as equally suggesting times, and imputing to God an absence

of Reason[9].

15. But if on the other hand, while they acknowledge with us the name of

'Son,' from an unwillingness to be publicly and generally condemned, they deny

that the Son is the proper offspring of the Father's essence, on the ground

that this must imply parts and divisions[1]; what is this but to deny that He

is very Son, and only in name to call Him Son at all? And is it not a grievous

error, to have material thoughts about what is immaterial, and because of the

weakness of their proper nature to deny what is natural and proper to the

Father? It does but remain, that they should deny Him also, because they

understand not how God is[2], and what the Father is, now that, foolish men,

they measure by themselves the Offspring of the Father. And persons in such a

state of mind as to consider that there cannot be a Son of God, demand our

pity; but they must be interrogated and exposed for the chance of bringing

them to their senses. If then, as you say, 'the Son is from nothing,' and 'was

not before His generation,' He, of course, as well as others, must be called

Son and God and Wisdom only by participation; for thus all other creatures

consist, and by sanctification are glorified. You have to tell us then, of

what He is partaker[3]. All other things partake of the Spirit, but He,

according to you, of what is He partaker? of the Spirit? Nay, rather the

Spirit Himself takes from the Son, as He Himself says; and it is not

reasonable to say that the latter is sanctified by the former. Therefore it is

the Father that He partakes; for this only remains to say. But this, which is

participated, what is it or whence[4]? If it be something external provided by

the Father, He will not now be partaker of the Father, but of what is external

to Him; and no longer will He be even second after the Father, since He has

before Him this other; nor can He be called Son of the Father, but of that, as

partaking which He has been called Son and God. And if this be unseemly and

irreligious, when the Father says, 'This is My Beloved Sons[5],' and when the

Son says that God is His own Father, it follows that what is partaken is not

external, but from the essence of the Father. And as to this again, if it be

other than the essence of the Son, an equal extravagance will meet us; there

being in that case something between this that is from the Father and the

essence of the Son, whatever that be[6].

16. Such thoughts then being evidently unseemly and untrue, we are driven

to say that what is from the essence of the Father, and proper to Him, is

entirely the Son; for it is all one to say that God is wholly participated,

and that He


begets; and what does begetting signify but a Son? And thus of the Son

Himself, all things partake according to the grace of the Spirit coming from

Him[7]; and this shews that the Son Himself partakes of nothing, but what is

partaken from the Father, is the Son; for, as partaking of the Son Himself, we

are said to partake of God; and this is what Peter said that ye may be

partakers in a divine nature[8];' as says too the Apostle, 'Know ye not, that

ye are a temple of God?' and, 'We are the temple of a living God[9].' And

beholding the Son, we see the Father; for the thought[10] and comprehension of

the Son, is knowledge concerning the Father, because He is His proper

offspring from His essence. And since to be partaken no one of us would ever

call affection or division of God's essence (for it has been shewn and

acknowledged that God is participated, and to be participated is the same

thing as to beget); therefore that which is begotten is neither affection nor

division of that blessed essence. Hence it is not incredible that God should

have a Son, the Offspring of His own essence; nor do we imply affection or

division of God's essence, when we speak of 'Son' and 'Offspring;' but rather,

as acknowledging the genuine, and true, and Only-begotten of God, so we

believe. If then, as we have stated and are shewing, what is the Offspring of

the Father's essence be the Son, we cannot hesitate, rather we must be

certain, that the same[11] is the Wisdom and Word of the Father, in and

through whom He creates and makes all things; and His Brightness too, in whom

He enlightens all things, and is revealed to whom He will; and His Expression

and Image also, in whom He is contemplated and known, wherefore 'He and His

Father are one[1],' and whoso looketh on Him looketh on the Father; and the

Christ, in whom all things are redeemed, and the new creation wrought afresh.

And on the other hand, the Son being such Offspring, it is not fitting, rather

it is full of peril, to say, that He is a work out of nothing, or that He was

not before His generation. For he who thus speaks of that which is proper to

the Father's essence, already blasphemes the Father Himself[2]; since he

really thinks of Him what he falsely imagines of His offspring.

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