The Veil : Contemplating the Christian Tradition

contents


Against Praxeas

Tertullian

Chapter XI

THE IDENTITY OF THE FATHER AND THESON, AS PRAXEAS HELD IT, SHOWN TO BE FULL OF PERPLEXITY AND ABSURDITY. MANY SCRIPTURES QUOTED IN PROOF OF THE DISTINCTION OF THE DIVINE PERSONS OF THE TRINITY.

 

It will be your duty, however, to adduce your proofs out of the Scriptures as plainly as we do, when we prove that He made His Word a Son to Himself. For if He calls Him Son, and if the Son is none other than He who has proceeded from the other Himself, and if the Word has proceeded from the Father Himself, He will then be the Son, and not Himself from whom He proceeded. For the Father Himself did not proceed from Himself. Now, you who say that the Father is the same as the Son, do really make the same Person both to have sent forth from Himself (and at the same time to have gone out from Himself as) that Being which is God. If it was possible for Him to have done this, He at all events did not do it. You must bring forth the proof which I require of you – one like my own; that is, (you must prove to me) that the Scriptures show the Son and the Father to be the same, just as on our side the Father and the Son are demonstrated to be distinct; I say distinct, but not separate: for as on my part I produce the words of God Himself, "My heart has emitted my most excellent Word," so you in like manner ought to adduce in opposition to me some text where God has said, "My heart has emitted Myself as my own most excellent Word," in such a sense that He is Himself both the Emitter and the Emitted, both He who sent forth and He who was sent forth, since He is both the Word and God. I bid you also observe, that on my side I advance the passage where the Father said to the Son, "You art my Son, this day have I begotten You." If you want me to believe Him to be both the Father and the Son, show me some other passage where it is declared, "The Lord said to Himself, I am my own Son, today have I begotten myself;" or again, "Before the morning did I beget myself;" and likewise, "I the Lord possessed Myself the beginning of my ways for my own works; before all the hills, too, did I beget myself;" and whatever other passages are to the same effect. Why, moreover, could God the Lord of all things, have hesitated to speak thus of Himself, if the fact had been so? Was He afraid of not being believed, if He had m so many words declared Himself to be both the Father and the Son? Of one thing He was at any rate afraid – of lying. Of Himself, too, and of His own truth, was He afraid. Believing Him, therefore, to be the true God, I am sure that He declared nothing to exist in any other way than according to His own dispensation and arrangement, and that He had arranged nothing in any other way than according to His own declaration. On your side, however, you must make Him out to be a liar, and an impostor, and a tamperer with His word, if, when He was Himself a Son to Himself, He assigned the part of His Son to be played by another, when all the Scriptures attest the clear existence of, and distinction in (the Persons of) the Trinity, and indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith, that He who speaks; and He of whom He speaks, and to whom He speaks, cannot possibly seem to be One and the Same. So absurd arid misleading a statement would be unworthy of God, that, widen it was Himself to whom He was speaking, He speaks rather to another, and not to His very self. Hear, then, other utterances also of the Father concerning the Son by the mouth of Isaiah: "Behold my Son, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom I am well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles." Hear also what He says to the Son: "Is it a great thing for You, that You shouldest be called my Son to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the dispersed of Israel? I have given You for a light to the Gentiles, that You mayest be their salvation to the end of the earth." Hear now also the Son's utterances respecting the Father: "The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He has anointed me to preach the gospel to men." He speaks of Himself likewise to the Father in the Psalm: "Forsake me not until I have declared the might of Your arm to all the generation that is to come." Also to the same purport in another Psalm: "O Lord, how are they increased that trouble me!" But almost all the Psalms which prophesy of the person of Christ, represent the Son as conversing with the Father – that is, represent Christ (as speaking) to God. Observe also the Spirit speaking of the Father and the Son, in the character of a third Person: "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit You on my right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool." Likewise in the words of Isaiah: "Thus saith the Lord to the Lord mine Anointed." Likewise, in the same prophet, He says to the Father respecting the Son: "Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We brought a report concerning Him, as if He were a little child, as if He were a root in a dry ground, who had no form nor comeliness." These are a few testimonies out of many; for we do not pretend to bring up all the passages of Scripture, because we have a tolerably large accumulation of them in the various heads of our subject, as we in our several chapters call them in as our witnesses in the fulness of their dignity and authority. Still, in these few quotations the distinction of Persons in the Trinity is clearly set forth. For there is the Spirit Himself who speaks, and the Father to whom He speaks, and the Son of whom He speaks. In the same manner, the other passages also establish each one of several Persons in His special character – addressed as they in some cases are to the Father or to the Son respecting the Son, in other cases to the Son or to the Father concerning the Father, and again in other instances to the (Holy) Spirit.

 

Chapter XII

OTHER QUOTATIONS FROM HOLY SCRIPTURE ADDUCED IN PROOF OF THE PLURALITY OF PERSONS IN THE GODHEAD.

 

If the number of the Trinity also offends you, as if it were not connected in the simple Unity, I ask you how it is possible for a Being who is merely and absolutely One and Singular, to speak in plural phrase, saying, "Let us make man in our own image, and after our own likeness;" whereas He ought to have said, "Let me make man in my own image, and after my own likeness," as being a unique and singular Being? In the following passage, however, "Behold the man is become as one of us," He is either deceiving or amusing us in speaking plurally, if He is One only and singular. Or was it to the angels that He spoke, as the Jews interpret the passage, because these also acknowledge not the Son? Or was it because He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, that He spoke to Himself in plural terms, making Himself plural on that very account? Nay, it was because He had already His Son close at His side, as a second Person, His own Word, and a third Person also, the Spirit in the Word, that He purposely adopted the plural phrase, "Let us make;" and, "in our image;" and, "become as one of us." For with whom did He make man? and to whom did He make him like? (The answer must be), the Son on the one hand, who was one day to put on human nature; and the Spirit on the other, who was to sanctify man. With these did He then speak, in the Unity of the Trinity, as with His ministers and witnesses In the following text also He distinguishes among the Persons: "So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him." Why say "image of God?" Why not "His own image" merely, if He was only one who was the Maker, and if there was not also One in whose image He made man? But there was One in whose image God was making man, that is to say, Christ's image, who, being one day about to become Man (more surely and more truly so), had already caused the man to be called His image, who was then going to be formed of clay – the image and similitude of the true and perfect Man. But in respect of the previous works of the world what says the Scripture? Its first statement indeed is made, when the Son has not yet appeared: "And God said, Let there be light, and there was light." Immediately there appears the Word, "that true light, which lights man on his coming into the world," and through Him also came light upon the world. From that moment God willed creation to be effected in the Word, Christ being present and ministering to Him: and so God created. And God said, "Let there be a firmament, ... and God made the firmament;" and God also said. "Let there be lights (in the firmament); and so God made a greater and a lesser light." But all the rest of the created things did He in like manner make, who made the former ones – I mean the Word of God. "through whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made." Now if He too is God, according to John, (who says.) "The Word was God," then you have two Beings – One that commands that the thing be made. and the Other that executes the order and creates. In what sense, however, you ought to understand Him to be another. I have already explained, on the ground of Personality, not of Substance – in the way of distinction, not of division. But although I must everywhere hold one only substance in three coherent and inseparable (Persons), yet I am bound to acknowledge, from the necessity of the case, that He who issues a command is different from Him who executes it. For, indeed, He would not be issuing a command if He were all the while doing the work Himself, while ordering it to be done by the second. But still He did issue the command, although He would not have intended to command Himself if He were only one; or else He must have worked without any command, because He would not have waited to command Himself.

 

Chapter XIII

THE FORCE OF SUNDRY PASSAGES OF SCRIPTURE ILLUSTRATED IN RELATION TO THE PLURALITY OF PERSONS AND UNITY OF SUBSTANCE. THERE IS NO POLYTHEISM HERE, SINCE THE UNITY IS INSISTED ON AS A REMEDY AGAINST POLYTHEISM.

 

Well then, you reply, if He was God who spoke, and He was also God who created, at this rate, one God spoke and another created; (and thus) two Gods are declared. If you are so venturesome and harsh, reflect a while; and that you may think the better and more deliberately, listen to the psalm in which Two are described as God: "Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Your kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness. You have loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, even Your God, has anointed You or made You His Christ." Now, since He here speaks to God, and affirms that God is anointed by God, He must have affirmed that Two are God, by reason of the sceptre's royal power. Accordingly, Isaiah also says to the Person of Christ: "The Sabaeans, men of stature, shall pass over to You; and they shall follow after You, bound in fetters; and they shall worship You, because God is in You: for You art our God, yet we knew it not; You art the God of Israel." For here too, by saying, "God is in You, and "You art God," he sets forth Two who were God: (in the former expression in You, he means) in Christ, and (in the other he means) the Holy Ghost. That is a still grander statement which you will find expressly made in the Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." There was One "who was," and there was another "with whom" He was. But I find in Scripture the name LORD also applied to them Both: "The Lord said to my Lord, Sit You on my right hand." And Isaiah says this: "Lord, who has believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed?" Now he would most certainly have said Your Arm, if he had not wished us to understand that the Father is Lord, and the Son also is Lord. A much more ancient testimony we have also in Genesis: "Then the Lord rained upon Sodore and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven." Now, either deny that this is Scripture; or else (let me ask) what sort of man you are, that you do not think words ought to be taken and understood in the sense in which they are written, especially when they are not expressed in allegories and parables, but in determinate and simple declarations? If, indeed, you follow those who did not at the time endure the Lord when showing Himself to be the Son of God, because they would not believe Him to be the Lord, then (I ask you)call to mind along with them the passage where it is written, "I have said, You are gods, and ye are children of the Most High;" and again, "God stands in the congregation of gods;" in order that, if the Scripture has not been afraid to designate as gods human beings, who have become sons of God by faith, you may be sure that the same Scripture has with greater propriety conferred the name of the Lord on the true and one-only Son of God. Very well! you say, I shall challenge you to preach from this day forth (and that, too, on the authority of these same Scriptures) two Gods and two Lords, consistently with your views. God forbid, (is my reply.) For we, who by the grace of God possess an insight into both the times and the occasions of the Sacred Writings, especially we who are followers of the Paraclete, not of human teachers, do indeed definitively declare that Two Beings are God, the Father and the Son, and, with the addition of the Holy Spirit, even Three, according to the principle of the divine economy, which introduces number, in order that the Father may not, as you perversely infer, be Himself believed to have been born and to have suffered, which it is not lawful to believe, forasmuch as it has not been so handed down. That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement which at no time proceeds out of our mouth: not as if it were untrue that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and each is God; but because in earlier times Two were actually spoken of as God, and two as Lord, that when Christ should come He might be both acknowledged as God and designated as Lord, being the Son of Him who is both God and Lord. Now, if there were found in the Scriptures but one Personality of Him who is God and Lord, Christ would justly enough be inadmissible to the title of God and Lord: for (in the Scriptures) there was declared to be none other than One God and One Lord, and it must have followed that the Father should Himself seem to have come down (to earth), inasmuch as only One God and One Lord was ever read of (in the Scriptures), and His entire Economy would be involved in obscurity, which has been planned and arranged with so clear a foresight in His providential dispensation as matter for our faith. As soon, however, as Christ came, and was recognised by us as the very Being who had from the beginning caused plurality (in the Divine Economy), being the second from the Father, and with the Spirit the third, and Himself declaring and manifesting the Father more fully (than He had ever been before), the title of Him who is God and Lord was at once restored to the Unity (of the Divine Nature), even because the Gentiles would have to pass from the multitude of their idols to the One Only God, in order that a difference might be distinctly settled between the worshippers of One God and the votaries of polytheism. For it was only right that Christians should shine in the world as "children of light," adoring and invoking Him who is the One God and Lord as "the light of the world." Besides, if, from that perfect knowledge which assures us that the title of God and Lord is suitable both to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, we were to invoke a plurality of gods and lords, we should quench our torches, and we should become less courageous to endure the martyr's sufferings, from which an easy escape would everywhere lie open to us, as soon as we swore by a plurality of gods and lords, as sundry heretics do, who hold more gods than One. I will therefore not speak of gods at all, nor of lords, but I shall follow the apostle; so that if the Father and the Son, are alike to be invoked, I shall call the Father "God," and invoke Jesus Christ as "Lord." But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call Him "God," as the same apostle says: "Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever." For I should give the name of" sun" even to a sunbeam, considered in itself; but if I were mentioning the sun from which the ray emanates, I certainly should at once withdraw the name of sun from the mere beam. For although I make not two suns, still I shall reckon both the sun and its ray to be as much two things and two forms of one undivided substance, as God and His Word, as the Father and the Son.

 

Chapter XIV

THE NATURAL INVISIBILITY OF THE FATHER, AND THE VISIBILITY OF THE SON WITNESSED IN MANY PASSAGES OF THE OLD TESTAMENT. ARGUMENTS OF THEIR DISTINCTNESS, THUS SUPPLIED.

 

Moreover, there comes to our aid, when we insist upon the Father and the Son as being Two, that regulating principle which has determined God to be invisible. When Moses in Egypt desired to see the face of the Lord, saying, "If therefore I have found grace in Your sight, manifest Yourself to me, that I may see You and know You," God said, "You canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live:" in other words, he who sees me shall die. Now we find that God has been seen by many persons, and yet that no one who saw Him died (at the sight). The truth is, they saw God according to the faculties of men, but not in accordance with the full glory of the Godhead. For the patriarchs are said to have seen God (as Abraham and Jacob), and the prophets (as, for instance Isaiah and Ezekiel), and yet they did not die. Either, then, they ought to have died, since they had seen Him – for (the sentence runs), "No man shall see God, and live ;" or else if they saw God, and yet did not die, the Scripture is false in stating that God said, "If a man see my face, he shall not live." Either way, the Scripture misleads us, when it makes God invisible, and when it produces Him to our sight. Now, then, He must be a different Being who was seen, because of one who was seen it could not be predicated that He is invisible. It will therefore follow, that by Him who is invisible we must understand the Father in the fulness of His majesty, while we recognise the Son as visible by reason of the dispensation of His derived existence; even as it is not permitted us to contemplate, the sun, in the full amount of his substance which is in the heavens, but we can only endure with our eyes a ray, by reason of the tempered condition of this portion which is projected from him to the earth. Here some one on the other side may be disposed to contend that the Son is also invisible as being the Word, and as being also the Spirit; and, while claiming one nature for the Father and the Son, to affirm that the Father is rather One and the Same Person with the Son. But the Scripture, as we have said, maintains their difference by the distinction it makes between the Visible and the Invisible. They then go on to argue to this effect, that if it was the Son who then spake to Moses, He must mean it of Himself that His face was visible to no one, because He was Himself indeed the invisible Father in the name of the Son. And by this means they will have it that the Visible and the Invisible are one and the same, just as the Father and the Son are the same; (and this they maintain) because in a preceding passage, before He had refused (the sight of) His face to Moses, the Scripture informs us that "the Lord spake face to face with Moses, even as a man speaks to his friend;" just as Jacob also says, "I have seen God face to face." Therefore the Visible and the Invisible are one and the same; and both being thus the same, it follows that He is invisible as the Father, and visible as the Son. As if the Scripture, according to our exposition of it, were inapplicable to the Son, when the Father is set aside in His own invisibility. We declare, however, that the Son also, considered in Himself (as the Son), is invisible, in that He is God, and the Word and Spirit of God; but that He was visible before the days of His flesh, in the way that He says to Aaron and Miriam, "And if there shall be a prophet amongst you, I will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream; not as with Moses, with whom I shall speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, that is to say, in truth, and not enigmatically" that is to say, in image; as the apostle also expresses it, "Now we see through a glass, darkly (or enigmatically), but then face to face." Since, therefore, He reserves to some future time His presence and speech face to face with Moses – a promise which was afterwards fulfilled in the retirement of the mount (of transfiguration), when as we read in the Gospel," Moses appeared talking with Jesus" – it is evident that in early times it was always in a glass, (as it were,)and an enigma, in vision and dream, that God, I mean the Son of God, appeared – to the prophets and the patriarchs, as also to Moses indeed himself. And even if the Lord did possibly speak with him face to face, yet it was not as man that he could behold His face, unless indeed it was in a glass, (as it were,) and by enigma. Besides, if the Lord so spake with Moses, that Moses actually discerned His face, eye to eye, how comes it to pass that immediately afterwards, on the same occasion, he desires to see His face, which he ought not to have desired, because he had already seen it? And how, in like manner, does the Lord also Say that His face cannot be seen, because He had shown it, if indeed He really had, (as our opponents suppose.) Or what is that fade of God, the sight of which is refused, if there was one which was visible to man? "I have seen God," says Jacob, "face to face, and my life is preserved." There ought to be some other face which kills if it be only seen. Well, then, was the Son visible? (Certainly not, ) although He was the face of God, except only in vision and dream, and in a glass and enigma, because the Word and Spirit (of God) cannot be seen except in an imaginary form. But, (they say,) He calls the invisible Father His face. For who is the Father? Must He not be the face of the Son, by reason of that authority which He obtains as the begotten of the Father? For is there not a natural propriety in saying of some personage greater (than yourself), That man is my face; he gives me his countenance? "My Father," says Christ, "is greater than I." Therefore the Father must be the face of the Son. For what does the Scripture say? "The Spirit of His person is Christ the Lord." As therefore Christ is the Spirit of the Father's person, there is good reason why, in virtue indeed of the unity, the Spirit of Him to whose person He belonged – that is to say, the Father – pronounced Him to be His "face." Now this, to be sure, is an astonishing thing, that the Father can be taken to be the face of the Son, when He is His head; for "the head of Christ is God."

 

Chapter XV

NEW TESTAMENT PASSAGES QUOTED. THEY ATTEST THE SAME TRUTH OF THE SON'S VISIBILITY CONTRASTED WITH THE FATHER'S INVISIBILITY.

 

If I fail in resolving this article (of our faith) by passages which may admit of dispute out of the Old Testament, I will take out of the New Testament a confirmation of our view, that you may not straightway attribute to the Father every possible (relation and condition) which I ascribe to the Son. Behold, then, I find both in the Gospels and in the (writings of the) apostles a visible and an invisible God (revealed to us), under a manifest and personal distinction in the condition of both. There is a certain emphatic saying by John: "No man has seen God at any time;" meaning, of course, at any previous time But he has indeed taken away all question of time, by saying that God had never been seen. The apostle confirms this statement; for, speaking of God, he says, "Whom no man has seen, nor can see;" because the man indeed would die who should see Him. But the very same apostles testify that they had both seen and "handled" Christ." Now, if Christ is Himself both the Father and the Son, how can He be both the Visible and the Invisible? In order, however, to reconcile this diversity between the Visible and the Invisible, will not some one on the other side argue that the two statements are quite correct: that He was visible indeed in the flesh, but was invisible before His appearance in the flesh; so that He who as the Father was invisible before the flesh, is the same as the Son who was visible in the flesh? If, however, He is the same who was invisible before the incarnation, how comes it that He was actually seen in ancient times before (coming in) the flesh? And by parity of reasoning, if He is the same who was visible after (coming in) the flesh, how happens it that He is now declared to be invisible by the apostles? How, I repeat, can all this be, unless it be that He is one, who anciently was visible only in mystery and enigma, and became more clearly visible by His incarnation, even the Word who was also made flesh; whilst He is another whom no man has seen at any time, being none else than the Father, even Him to whom the Word belongs? Let us, in short, examine who it is whom the apostles saw. "That," says John, "which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life." Now the Word of life became flesh, and was heard, and was seen, and was handled, because He was flesh who, before He came in the flesh, was the "Word in the beginning with God" the Father, and not the Father with the Word. For although the Word was God, yet was He with God, because He is God of God; and being joined to the Father, is with the Father. "And we have seen His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father;" that is, of course, (the glory) of the Son, even Him who was visible, and was glorified by the invisible Father. And therefore, inasmuch as he had said that the Word of God was God, in order that he might give no help to the presumption of the adversary, (which pretended) that he had seen the Father Himself and in order to draw a distinction between the invisible Father and the visible Son, he makes the additional assertion, ex abundanti as it were: "No man has seen God at any time." What God does he mean? The Word? But he has already said: "Him we have seen and heard, and our hands have handled the Word of life." Well, (I must again ask,) what God does he mean? It is of course the Father, with whom was the Word, the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and has Himself declared Him. He was both heard and seen and, that He might not be supposed to be a phantom, was actually handled. Him, too, did Paul behold; but yet he saw not the Father. "Have I not," he says, "seen Jesus Christ our Lord?" Moreover, he expressly called Christ God, saying: "Of whom are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever." He shows us also that the Son of God, which is the Word of God, is visible, because He who became flesh was called Christ. Of the Father, however, he says to Timothy: "Whom none among men has seen, nor indeed can see;" and he accumulates the description in still ampler terms: "Who only has immortality, and dwells in the light which no man can approach to." It was of Him, too, that he had said in a previous passage: "Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to the only God;" so that we might apply even the contrary qualities to the Son Himself – mortality, accessibility – of whom the apostle testifies that "He died according to the Scriptures," and that "He was seen by himself last of all," – by means, of course, of the light which was accessible, although it was not without imperilling his sight that he experienced that light. A like danger to which also befell Peter, and John, and James, (who confronted not the same light) without risking the loss of their reason and mind; and if they, who were unable to endure the glory of the Son, had only seen the Father, they must have died then and there: "For no man shall see God, and live." This being the case, it is evident that He was always seen from the beginning, who became visible in the end; and that He, (on the contrary,) was not seen in the end who had never been visible from the beginning; and that accordingly there are two – the Visible and the Invisible. It was the Son, therefore, who was always seen, and the Son who always conversed with men, and the Son who has always worked by the authority and will of the Father; because "the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do" – "do" that is, in His mind and thought. For the Father acts by mind and thought; whilst the Son, who is in the Father's mind and thought, gives effect and form to what He sees. Thus all things were made by tile Son, and without Him was not anything made.

 

Chapter XVI

EARLY MANIFESTATIONS OF THE SON OF GOD, AS RECORDED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT; REHEARSALS OF HIS SUBSEQUENT INCARNATION.

 

But you must not suppose that only the works which relate to the (creation of the) world were made by the Son, but also whatsoever since that time has been done by God. For "the Father who loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand," loves Him indeed from the beginning, and from the very first has handed all things over to Him. Whence it is written, "From the beginning the Word was with God, and the Word was God;" to whom "is given by the Father all power in heaven and on earth." "The Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son" – from the very beginning even. For when He speaks of all power and all judgment, and says that all things were made by Him, and all things have been delivered into His hand, He allows no exception (in respect) of time, because they would not be all things unless they were the things of all time. It is the Son, therefore, who has been from the beginning administering judgment, throwing down the haughty tower, and dividing the tongues, punishing the whole world by the violence of waters, raining upon Sodom and Gomorrah fire and brimstone, as the LORD from the LORD. For He it was who at all times came down to hold converse with men, from Adam on to the patriarchs and the prophets, in vision, in dream, in mirror, in dark saying; ever from the beginning laying the foundation of the course of His dispensations, which He meant to follow out to the very last. Thus was He ever learning even as God to converse with men upon earth, being no other than the Word which was to be made flesh. But He was thus learning (or rehearsing), in order to level for us the way of faith, that we might the more readily believe that the Son of God had come down into the world, if we knew that in times past also something similar had been done. For as it was on our account and for our learning that these events are described in the Scriptures, so for our sakes also were they done – (even ours, I say), "upon whom the ends of the world are come." In this way it was that even then He knew full well what human feelings and affections were, intending as He always did to take upon Him man's actual component substances, body and soul, making inquiry of Adam (as if He were ignorant), "Where art thou, Adam?" – repenting that He had made man, as if He had lacked foresight; tempting Abraham, as if ignorant of what was in man; offended with persons, and then reconciled to them; and whatever other (weaknesses and imperfections) the heretics lay hold of (in their assumptions) as unworthy of God, in order to discredit the Creator, not considering that these circumstances are suitable enough for the Son, who was one day to experience even human sufferings – hunger and thirst, and tears, and actual birth and real death, and in respect of such a dispensation "made by the Father a little less than the angels." But the heretics, you may be sure, will not allow that those things are suitable even to the Son of God, which you are imputing to the very Father Himself, when you pretend that He made Himself less (than the angels) on our account; whereas the Scripture informs us that He who was made less was so affected by another, and not Himself by Himself. What, again, if He was One who was "crowned with glory and honour," and He Another by whom He was so crowned, – the Son, in fact, by the Father? Moreover, how comes it to pass, that the Almighty Invisible God, "whom no man has seen nor can see; He who dwells in light unapproachable;" "He who dwells not in temples made with hands;" "from before whose sight the earth trembles, and the mountains melt like wax;" who holds the whole world in His hand "like a nest;" "whose throne is heaven, and earth His footstool;" in whom is every place, but Himself is in no place; who is the utmost bound of the universe; – how happens it, I say, that He (who, though) the Most High, should yet have walked in paradise towards the coal of the evening, in quest of Adam; and should have shut up the ark after Noah had entered it; and at Abraham's tent should have refreshed Himself under an oak; and have called to Moses out of the burning bush; and have appeared as "the fourth" in the furnace of the Babylonian monarch (although He is there called the Son of man), – unless all these events had happened as an image, as a mirror, as an enigma (of the future incarnation)? Surely even these things could not have been believed even of the Son of God, unless they had been given us in the Scriptures; possibly also they could not have been believed of the Father, even if they had been given in the Scriptures, since these men bring Him down into Mary's womb, and set Him before Pilate's judgment-seat, and bury Him in the sepulchre of Joseph. Hence, therefore, their error becomes manifest; for, being ignorant that the entire order of the divine administration has from the very first had its course through the agency of the Son, they believe that the Father Himself was actually seen, and held converse with men. and worked, and was athirst, and suffered hunger (in spite of the prophet who says: "The everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, shall never thirst at all, nor be hungry;" much more, shall neither die at any time, nor be buried!), and therefore that it was uniformly one God, even the Father, who at all times did Himself the things which were really done by Him through the agency of the Son.

 

Chapter XVII

SUNDRY AUGUST TITLES, DESCRIPTIVE OF DEITY, APPLIED TO THE SON, NOT, AS PRAXEAS WOULD HAVE IT, ONLY TO THE FATHER.

 

They more readily supposed that the Father acted in the Son's name, than that the Son acted in the Father's; although the Lord says Himself, "I am come in my Father's name;" and even to the Father He declares, "I have manifested Your name to these men;" whilst the Scripture likewise says, "Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord," that is to say, the Son in the Father's name. And as for the Father's names, God Almighty, the Most High, the Lord of hosts, the King of Israel, the "One that is," we say (for so much do the Scriptures teach us) that they belonged suitably to the Son also, and that the Son came under these designations, and has always acted in them, and has thus manifested them in Himself to men. "All things," says He, "which the Father has are mine." Then why not His names also? When, therefore, you read of Almighty God, and the Most High, and the God of hosts, and the King of Israel the "One that is," consider whether the Son also be not indicated by these designations, who in His own right is God Almighty, in that He is the Word of Almighty God, and has received power over all; is the Most High, in that He is "exalted at the right hand of God," as Peter declares in the Acts; is the Lord of hosts, because all things are by the Father made subject to Him; is the King of Israel because to Him has especially been committed the destiny of that nation; and is likewise "the One that is," because there are many who are called Sons, but are not. As to the point maintained by them, that the name of Christ belongs also to the Father, they shall hear (what I have to say) in the proper place. Meanwhile, let this be my immediate answer to the argument which they adduce from the Revelation of John: "I am the Lord which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty;" and from all other passages which in their opinion make the designation of Almighty God unsuitable to the Son. As if, indeed, He which is to came were not almighty; whereas even the Son of the Almighty is as much almighty as the Son of God is God.

 

Chapter XVIII

THE DESIGNATION OF THE ONE GOD IN THE PROPHETIC SCRIPTURES. INTENDED AS A PROTEST AGAINST HEATHEN IDOLATRY, IT DOES NOT PRECLUDE THE CORRELATIVE IDEA OF THE SON OF GOD. THE SON IS IN THE FATHER.

 

But what hinders them from readily perceiving this community of the Father's titles in the Son, is the statement of Scripture, whenever it determines God to be but One; as if the selfsame Scripture had not also set forth Two both as God and Lord, as we have shown above. Their argument is: Since we find Two and One, therefore Both are One and the Same, both Father and Son. Now the Scripture is not in danger of requiring the aid of any one's argument, lest it should seem to be self-contradictory. It has a method of its own, both when it sets forth one only God, and also when it shows that there are Two, Father and Son; and is consistent with itself. It is clear that the Son is mentioned by it. For, without any detriment to the Son, it is quite possible for it to have rightly determined that God is only One, to whom the Son belongs; since He who has a Son ceases not on that account to exist, – Himself being One only, that is, on His own account, whenever He is named without the Son. And He is named without the Son whensoever He is defined as the principle (of Deity)in the character of "its first Person," which had to be mentioned before the name of the Son; because it is the Father who is acknowledged in the first place, and after the Father the Son is named.

Therefore "there is one God," the Father, "and without Him there is none else." And when He Himself makes this declaration, He denies not the Son, but says that there is no other God; and the Son is not different from the Father. Indeed, if you only look carefully at the contexts which follow such statements as this, you will find that they nearly always have distinct reference to the makers of idols and the worshippers thereof, with a view to the multitude of false gods being expelled by the unity of the Godhead, which nevertheless has a Son; and inasmuch as this Son is undivided and inseparable from the Father, so is He to be reckoned as being in the Father, even when He is not named. The fact is, if He had named Him expressly, He would have separated Him, saying in so many words: "Beside me there is none else, except my Son." In short He would have made His Son actually another, after excepting Him from others. Suppose the sun to say, "I am the Sun, and there is none other besides me, except my ray," would you not have remarked how useless was such a statement, as if the ray were not itself reckoned in the sun? He says, then, that there is no God' besides Himself in respect of the idolatry both of the Gentiles as well as of Israel; nay, even on account of our heretics also, who fabricate idols with their words, just as the heathen do with their hands; that is to say, they make another God and another Christ. When, therefore, He attested His own unity, the Father took care of the Son's interests, that Christ should not be supposed to have come from another God, but from Him who had already said, "I am God and there is none other beside me," who shows us that He is the only God, but in company with His Son, with whom "He stretches out the heavens alone."

 

Chapter XIX

THE SON IN UNION WITH THE FATHER IN THE CREATION OF ALL THINGS. THIS UNION OF THE TWO IN CO-OPERATION IS NOT OPPOSED TO THE TRUE UNITY OF GOD. IT IS OPPOSED ONLY TO PRAXEAS' IDENTIFICATION THEORY.

 

But this very declaration of His they will hastily pervert into an argument of His singleness. "I have," says He, "stretched out the heaven alone." Undoubtedly alone as regards all other powers; and He thus gives a premonitory evidence against the conjectures of the heretics, who maintain that the world was constructed by various angels and powers, who also make the Creator Himself to have been either an angel or some subordinate agent sent to form external things, such as the constituent parts of the world, but who was at the same time ignorant of the divine purpose. If, now, it is in this sense that He stretches out the heavens alone, how is it that these heretics assume their position so perversely, as to render inadmissible the singleness of that Wisdom which says, "When He prepared the heaven, I was present with Him?" – even though the apostle asks, "Who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been His counsellor?" meaning, of course, to except that wisdom which was present with Him. In Him, at any rate, and with Him, did (Wisdom) construct the universe, He not being ignorant of what she was making. "Except Wisdom," however, is a phrase of the same sense exactly as "except the Son," who is Christ, "the Wisdom and Power of God," according to the apostle, who only knows the mind of the Father. "For who knows the things that be in God, except the Spirit which is in Him?" Not, observe, without Him. There was therefore One who caused God to be not alone, except "alone" from all other gads. But (if we are to follow the heretics), the Gospel itself will have to be rejected, because it tells us that all things were made by God through the Word, without whom nothing was made. And if I am not mistaken, there is also another passage in which it is written: "By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made, and all the hosts of them by His Spirit." Now this Word, the Power of God and the Wisdom of God, must be the very Son of God. So that, if (He did) all things by the Son, He must have stretched out the heavens by the Son, and so not have stretched them out alone, except in the sense in which He is "alone" (and apart) from all other gods. Accordingly He says, concerning the Son, immediately afterwards: "Who else is it that frustrates the tokens of the liars, and makes diviners mad, turning wise men backward, and making their knowledge foolish, and confirming the words of His Son?" – as, for instance, when He said, "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him." By thus attaching the Son to Himself, He becomes His own interpreter in what sense He stretched out the heavens alone, meaning alone with His Son, even as He is one with His Son. The utterance, therefore, will be in like manner the Son's, "I have stretched out the heavens alone," because by the Word were the heavens established. Inasmuch, then, as the heaven was prepared when Wisdom was present in the Word, and since all things were made by the Word, it is quite correct to say that even the Son stretched out the heaven alone, because He alone ministered to the Father's work. It must also be He who says, "I am the First, and to all futurity I AM." The Word, no doubt, was before all things. "In the beginning was the Word;" and in that beginning He was sent forth by the Father. The Father, however, has no beginning, as proceeding from none; nor can He be seen, since He was not begotten. He who has always been alone could never have had order or rank. Therefore, if they have determined that the Father and the Son must be regarded as one and the same, for the express purpose of vindicating the unity of God, that unity of His is preserved intact; for He is one, and yet He has a Son, who is equally with Himself comprehended in the same Scriptures. Since they are unwilling to allow that the Son is a distinct Person, second from the Father, lest, being thus second, He should cause two Gods to be spoken of, we have shown above that Two are actually described in Scripture as God and Lord. And to prevent their being offended at this fact, we give a reason why they are not said to be two Gods and two Lords, but that they are two as Father and Son; and this not by severance of their substance, but from the dispensation wherein we declare the Son to be undivided and inseparable from the Father, – distinct in degree, not in state. And although, when named apart, He is called God, He does not thereby constitute two Gods, but one; and that from the very circumstance that He is entitled to be called God, from His union with the Father.

 

Chapter XX

THE SCRIPTURES RELIED ON BY PRAXEAS TO SUPPORT HIS HERESY BUT FEW. THEY ARE MENTIONED BY TERTULLIAN.

 

But I must take some further pains to rebut their arguments, when they make selections from the Scriptures in support of their opinion, and refuse to consider the other points, which obviously maintain the rule of faith without any infraction of the unity of the Godhead, and with the full admission of the Monarchy. For as in the Old Testament Scriptures they lay hold of nothing else than, "I am God, and beside me there is no God ;" so in the Gospel they simply keep in view the Lord's answer to Philip, "I and my Father are one;" and, "He that has seen me has seen the Father; and I am in the Father, and the Father in me." They would have the entire revelation of both Testaments yield to these three passages, whereas the only proper course is to understand the few statements in the light of the many. But in their contention they only act on the principle of all heretics. For, inasmuch as only a few testimonies are to be found (making for them) in the general mass, they pertinaciously set off the few against the many, and assume the later against the earlier. The rule, however, which has been from the beginning established for every case, gives its prescription against the later assumptions, as indeed it also does against the fewer.

Chapters 21-31