The Veil : Contemplating the Christian Tradition

contents


Against Praxeas

Tertullian

Chapter XXI

IN THIS AND THE FOUR FOLLOWING CHAPTERS IT IS SHEWN, BY A MINUTE ANALYSIS OF ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL, THAT THE FATHER AND SON ARE CONSTANTLY SPOKEN OF AS DISTINCT PERSONS.

 

Consider, therefore, how many passages present their prescriptive authority to you in, this very Gospel before this inquiry of Philip, and previous to any discussion on your part. And first of all there comes at once to hand the preamble of John to his Gospel, which shows us what He previously was who had to become flesh. "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God: all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made." Now, since these words may not be taken otherwise than as they are written, there is without doubt shown to be One who was from the beginning, and also One with whom He always was: one the Word of God, the other God although the Word is also God, but God regarded as the Son of God, not as the Father); One through whom were all things, Another by whom were all things. But in what sense we call Him Another we have already often described. In that we called Him Another, we must needs imply that He is not identical – not identical indeed, yet not as if separate; Other by dispensation, not by division. He, therefore, who became flesh was not the very same as He from whom the Word came. "His glory was beheld – the glory as of the only-begotten of the Father;" not, (observe,) as of the Father. He "declared" (what was in) "the bosom of the Father alone;" the Father did not divulge the secrets of His own bosom. For this is preceded by another statement: "No man has seen God at any time." Then, again, when He is designated by John (the Baptist) as "the Lamb of God," He is not described as Himself the same with Him of whom He is the beloved Son. He is, no doubt, ever the Son of God, but yet not He Himself of whom He is the Son. This (divine relationship) Nathanael at once recognised in Him, even as Peter did on another occasion: "You art the Son of God." And He affirmed Himself that they were quite right in their convictions; for He answered Nathanael: "Because I said, I saw you under the fig-tree, therefore do you believe?" And in the same manner He pronounced Peter to be "blessed," inasmuch as "flesh and blood had not revealed it to him" – that he had perceived the Father – "but the Father which is in heaven." By asserting all this, He determined the distinction which is between the two Persons: that is, the Son then on earth, whom Peter had confessed to be the Son of God; and the Father in heaven, who had revealed to Peter the discovery which he had made, that Christ was the Son of God. When He entered the temple, He called it "His Father's house," speaking as the Son. In His address to Nicodemus He says: "So God loved the world, that He gave His only-begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life." And again: "For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believes in Him is not condemned; but he that does not believes is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only-begotten Son of God." Moreover, when John (the Baptist) was asked what he happened to know of Jesus, he said: "The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into His hand. He that believes on the Son has everlasting life; and he that does not believes the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him." Whom, indeed, did He reveal to the woman of Samaria? Was it not "the Messias which is called Christ?" And so lie showed, of course, that He was not the Father, but the Son; and elsewhere He is expressly called "the Christ, the Son of God," and not the Father. He says, therefore," My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work;" whilst to the Jews He remarks respecting the cure of the impotent man, "My Father works hitherto, and I work." "My Father and I" – these are the Son's words. And it was on this very account that "the Jews sought the more intently to kill Him, not only because He broke the Sabbath, but also because He said that God was His Father, thus making Himself equal with God. Then indeed did He answer and say to them, The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for what things soever He does these also does the Son likewise. For the Father loves the Son, and shows Him all things that He Himself does; and He will also show Him greater works than these, that you may marvel. For as the Father raises up the dead and quickens them, even so the Son also quickens whom He will. For the Father judges no man, but has committed all judgment to the Son, that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honours not the Son, honours not the Father, who has sent the Son. Verily, verily, I say to you, He that hears my words, and believes on Him that sent me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but is passed from death to life. Verily I say to you, that the hour is coming, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God; and when they have heard it, they shall live. For as the Father has eternal life in Himself, so also has He given to the Son to have eternal life in Himself; and He has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man" – that is, according to the flesh, even as He is also the Son of God through His Spirit. Afterwards He goes on to say: "But I have greater witness than that of John; for the works which the Father has given me to finish – those very works bear witness of me that the Father has sent me. And the Father Himself, which has sent me, has also borne witness of me." But He at once adds, "You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His shape;" thus affirming that in former times it was not the Father, but the Son, who used to be seen and heard. Then He says at last: "I am come in my Father's name, and you have not received me." It was therefore always the Son (of whom we read) under the designation of the Almighty and Most High God, and King, and Lord. To those also who inquired "what the should do to work the works of God," He answered, This is the work of God, that you believe on Him whom He has sent." He also declares Himself to be "the bread which the Father sent from heaven;" and adds, that "all that the Father gave Him should come to Him, and that He Himself would not reject them," because He had come down from heaven not to do His own will, but the will of the Father; and that the will of the Father was that every one who saw the Son, and believed on Him, should obtain the life (everlasting,) and the resurrection at the last day. No man indeed was able to come to Him, except the Father attracted him; whereas every one who had heard and learnt of the Father came to Him." He goes on then expressly to say, "Not that any man has seen the Father;" thus showing us that it was through the Word of the Father that men were instructed and taught. Then, when many departed from Him, and He turned to the apostles with the inquiry whether "they also would go away," what was Simon Peter's answer? "To whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we believe that You an the Christ." (Tell me now, did they believe) Him to be the Father, or the Christ of the Father?

 

Chapter XXII

SUNDRY PASSAGES OF ST. JOHN QUOTED, TO SHOW THE DISTINCTION BETWEEN THE FATHER AND THE SON. EVEN PRAXEAS' CLASSIC TEXT – I AND MY FATHER ARE ONE – SHOWN TO BE AGAINST HIM.

 

Again, whose doctrine does He announce, at which all were astonished? Was it His own or the Father's? So, when they were in doubt among themselves whether He were the Christ (not as being the Father, of course but as the Son), He says to them "You are not ignorant whence I am; and I am not come of myself, but He that sent me is true, whom you know not; but I know Him, because I am from Him." He did not say, Because I myself am He; and, I have sent mine own self: but His words are, "He has sent me." When, likewise, the Pharisees sent men to apprehend Him, He says: "Yet a little while am I with you, and (then) I go to Him that sent me." When, however, He declares that He is not alone, and uses these words, "but I and the Father that sent me," does He not show that there are Two – Two, and yet inseparable? Indeed, this was the sum: and substance of what He was teaching them, that they were inseparably Two; since, after citing the law when it affirms the truth of two men's testimony, He adds at once: "I am one who am bearing witness of myself; and the Father (is another,) who has sent me, and bears witness of me." Now, if He were one – being at once both the Son and the Father – He certainly would not have quoted the sanction of the law, which requires not the testimony of one, but of two. Likewise, when they asked Him where His Father was, He answered them, that they had known neither Himself nor the Father; and in this answer He plainly told them of Two, whom they were ignorant of. Granted that "if they had known Him, they would have known the Father also," this certainly does not imply that He was Himself both Father and Son; but that, by reason of the inseparability of the Two, it was impossible for one of them to be either acknowledged or unknown without the other. "He that sent me," says He, "is true; and I am telling the world those things which I have heard of Him." And the Scripture narrative goes on to explain in an exoteric manner, that "they understood not that He spake to them concerning the Father," although they ought certainly to have known that the Father's words were uttered in the Son, because they read in Jeremiah, "And the Lord said to me, Behold, I have put my words in thy mouth;" and again in Isaiah, "The Lord has given to me the tongue of learning that I should understand when to speak a word in season." In accordance with which, Christ Himself says: "Then shall you know that I am He and that I am saying nothing of my own self; but that, as my Father has taught me, so I speak, because He that sent me is with me." This also amounts to a proof that they were Two, (although) undivided. Likewise, when upbraiding the Jews in His discussion with them, because they wished to kill Him, He said, "I speak that which I have seen with my Father, and you do that which you have seen with your father;" "but now you seek to kill me, a man that has told you the truth which I have heard of God;" and again, "If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded forth and came from God" (still they are not hereby separated, although He declares that He proceeded forth from the Father. Some persons indeed seize the opportunity afforded them in these words to propound their heresy of His separation; but His coming out from God is like the ray's procession from the sun, and the river's from the fountain, and the tree's from the seed); "I have not a devil, but I honour my Father;" again, "If I honour myself, my honour is nothing: it is my Father that honours me, of whom you say, that He is your God: yet ye have not known Him, but I know Him; and if I should say, I know Him not, I shall be a liar like to you; but I know Him, and keep His saying." But when He goes on to say, "Your father Abraham rejoiced to see my day; and he saw it, and was glad," He certainly proves that it was not the Father that appeared to Abraham, but the Son. In like manner He declares, in the case of the man barn blind, "that He must do the works of the Father which had sent Him;" and after He had given the man sight, He said to him, "Do you believe in the Son of God?" Then, upon the man's inquiring who He was, He proceeded to reveal Himself to him, as that Son of God whom He had announced to him as the right object of his faith. In a later passage He declares that He is known by the Father, and the Father by Him; adding that He was so wholly loved by the Father, that He was laying down His life, because He had received this commandment from the Father. When He was asked by the Jews if He were the very Christ (meaning, of course, the Christ of God; for to this day the Jews expect not the Father Himself, but the Christ of God, it being nowhere said that the Father will come as the Christ), He said to them, "I am telling you, and yet you do not believe: the works which I am doing, in my Father's name, they actually bear witness of me." Witness of what? Of that very thing, to be sure, of which they were making in-quiry – whether He were the Christ of God. Then, again, concerning His sheep, and (the assurance) that no man should pluck them out of His hand, He says, "My Father, which gave them to me, is greater than all;" adding immediately, "I am and my Father are one." Here, then, they take their stand, too infatuated, nay, too blind, to see in the first place that there is in this passage an intimation of Two Beings – "I and my Father;" then that there is a plural predicate, "are," inapplicable to one person only; and lastly, that (the predicate terminates in an abstract, not a personal noun) – "we are one thing" Unum, not "one person" Unus. For if He had said "one Person," He might have rendered some assistance to their opinion. Unus, no doubt, indicates the singular number; but (here we have a case where) "Two" are still the subject in the masculine gender. He accordingly says Unum, a neuter term, which does not imply singularity of number, but unity of essence, likeness, conjunction, affection on the Father's part, who loves the Son, and submission on the Son's, who obeys the Father's will. When He says, "I and my Father are one" in essence – Unum – He shows that there are Two, whom He puts on an equality and unites in one. He therefore adds to this very statement, that He "had showed them many works from the Father," for none of which did He deserve to be stoned. And to prevent their thinking Him deserving of this fate, as if He had claimed to be considered as God Himself, that is, the Father, by having said, "I and my Father are One," representing Himself as the Father's divine Son, and not as God Himself, He says, "If it is written in your law, I said, You are gods; and if the Scripture cannot be broken, say you of Him whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world, that He blasphemes, because He said, I am the Son of God? If I do not the works of my Father, believe me not; but if I do, even if you will not believe me, still believe the works; and know that I am in the Father, and the Father in me." It must therefore be by the works that the Father is in the Son, and the Son in the Father; and so it is by the works that we understand that the Father is one with the Son. All along did He therefore strenuously aim at this conclusion, that while they were of one power and essence, they should still be believed to be Two; for otherwise, unless they were believed to be Two, the Son could not possibly be believed to have any existence at all.

 

Chapter XXIII

MORE PASSAGES FROM THE SAME GOSPEL IN PROOF OF THE SAME PORTION OF THE CATHOLIC FAITH. PRAXEAS' TAUNT OF WORSHIPPING TWO GODS REPUDIATED.

 

Again, when Martha in a later passage acknowledged Him to be the Son of God, she no more made a mistake than Peter" and Nathanael had; and yet, even if she had made a mistake, she would at once have learnt the truth: for, behold, when about to raise her brother from the dead, the Lord looked up to heaven, and, addressing the Father, said – as the Son, of course: "Father, I thank You that You always hear me; it is because of these crowds that are standing by that I have spoken to You, that they may believe that You have sent me." "But in the trouble of His soul, (on a later occasion,) He said: "What shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause is it that I am come to this hour; only, O Father, do You glorify Your name" – in which He spake as the Son. (At another time) He said: "I am come in my Father's name." Accordingly, the Son's voice was indeed alone sufficient, (when addressed) to the Father. But, behold, with an abundance (of evidence) the Father from heaven replies, for the purpose of testifying to the Son: "This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased; hear Him." So, again, in that asseveration, "I have both glorified, and will glorify again," how many Persons do you discover, obstinate Praxeas? Are there not as many as there are voices? You have the Son on earth, you have the Father in heaven. Now this is not a separation; it is nothing but the divine dispensation. We know, however, that God is in the bottomless depths, and exists everywhere; but then it is by power and authority. We are also sure that the Son, being indivisible from Him, is everywhere with Him. Nevertheless, in the Economy or Dispensation itself, the Father willed that the Son should be regarded as on earth, and Himself in heaven; whither the Son also Him. self looked up, and prayed, and made supplication of the Father; whither also He taught us to raise ourselves, and pray, "Our Father Who art in heaven," etc., – although, indeed, He is everywhere present. This heaven the Father willed to be His own throne; while He made the Son to be "a little lower than the angels," by sending Him down to the earth, but meaning at the same time to "crown Him with glory and honour," even by taking Him back to heaven. This He now made good to Him when He said: "I have both glorified You, and will glorify You again." The Son offers His request from earth, the Father gives His promise from heaven. Why, then, do you make liars of both the Father and the Son? If either the Father spake from heaven to the Son when He Himself was the Son on earth, or the Son prayed to the Father when He was Himself the Son in heaven, how happens it that the Son made a request of His own very self, by asking it of the Father, since the Son was the Father? Or, on the other hand, how is it that the Father made a promise to Himself, by making it to the Son, since the Father was the Son? Were we even to maintain that they are two separate gods, as you are so fond of throwing out against us, it would be a more tolerable assertion than the maintenance of so versatile and changeful a God as yours! Therefore it was that in the passage before us the Lord declared to the people present: "Not on my own account has this voice addressed me, but for your sakes," that these likewise may believe both in the Father and in the Son, severally, in their own names and persons and positions. "Then again, Jesus exclaims, and says, He that believes on me, believes not on me, but on Him that sent me;" because it is through the Son that men believe in the Father, while the Father also is the authority whence springs belief in the Son. "And he that sees me, sees Him that sent me." How so? Even because, (as He afterwards declares,) "I have not spoken from myself, but the Father which sent me: He has given me a commandment what I should say, and what I should speak." For "the Lord God has given me the tongue of the learned, that I should know when I ought to speak" the word which I actually speak. "Even as the Father has said to me, so do I speak." Now, in what way these things were said to Him, the evangelist and beloved disciple John knew better than Praxeas; and therefore he adds concerning i his own meaning: "Now before the feast of the passover, Jesus knew that the Father had given all things into His hands, and that He had come from God, and was going to God." Praxeas, however, would have it that it was the Father who proceeded forth from Himself, and had returned to Himself; so that what the devil put into the heart of Judas was the betrayal, not of the Son, but of the Father Himself. But for the matter of that, things have not turned out well either for the devil or the heretic; because, even in the Son's case, the treason which the devil wrought against Him contributed nothing to his advantage. It was, then, the Son of God, who was in the Son of man, that was betrayed, as the Scripture says afterwards: "Now is the Son of man glorified, and God is glorified in Him." Who is here meant by "God?" Certainly not the Father, but the Word of the Father, who was in the Son of man – that is in the flesh, in which Jesus had been already glorified by the divine power and word. "And God," says He, "shall also glorify Him in Himself;" that is to say, the Father shall glorify the Son, because He has Him within Himself; and even though prostrated to the earth, and put to death, He would soon glorify Him by His resurrection, and making Him conqueror over death.

 

Chapter XXIV

ON ST. PHILIP'S CONVERSATION WITH CHRIST. HE THAT HATH SEEN ME, HATH SEEN THE FATHER. THIS TEXT EXPLAINED IN AN ANTI-PRAXEAN SENSE.

 

But there were some who even then did not understand. For Thomas, who was so long incredulous, said: "Lord, we know not where You goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus says to him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man comes to the Father, but by me. If you had known me, you would have known the Father also: but henceforth you know Him, and have seen Him." And now we come to Philip, who, roused with the expectation of seeing the Father, and not understanding in what sense he was to take "seeing the Father," says: "Show us the Father, and it suffices us." Then the Lord answered him: "Have I been so long time with you, and yet have you not known me, Philip?" Now whom does He say that they ought to have known? – for this is the sole point of discussion. Was it as the Father that they ought to have known Him, or as the Son? If it was as the Father, Praxeas must tell us how Christ, who had been so long time with them, could have possibly ever been (I will not say understood, but even) supposed to have been the Father. He is clearly defined to us in all Scriptures – in the Old Testament as the Christ of God, in the New Testament as the Son of God. In this character was He anciently predicted, in this was He also declared even by Christ Himself; nay, by the very Father also, who openly confesses Him from heaven as His Son, and as His Son glorifies Him. "This is my beloved Son;" "I have glorified Him, and I will glorify Him." In this character, too, was He believed on by His disciples, and rejected by the Jews. It was, moreover, in this character that He wished to be accepted by them whenever He named the Father, and gave preference to the Father, and honoured the Father. This, then, being the case, it was not the Father whom, after His lengthened intercourse with them, they were ignorant of, but it was the Son; and accordingly the Lord, while upbraiding Philip for not knowing Himself who was the object of their ignorance, wished Himself to be acknowledged indeed as that Being whom He had reproached them for being ignorant of after so long a time – in a word, as the Son. And now it may be seen in what sense it was said, "He that has seen me has seen the Father," – even in the same in which it was said in a previous passage, "I and my Father are one." Wherefore? Because "I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world" and, "I am the way: no man comes to the Father, but by me;" and, "No man can come to me, except the Father draw him;" and, "All things are delivered to me by the Father;" and, "As the Father quickens (the dead), so also doth the Son;" and again, "If you had known me, you would have known the Father also." "For in all these passages He had shown Himself to be the Father's Commissioner," through whose agency even the Father could be seen in His works, and heard in His words, and recognised in the Son's administration of the Father's words and deeds. The Father indeed was invisible, as Philip had learnt in the law, and ought at the moment to have remembered: "No man shall see God, and live." So he is reproved for desiring to see the Father, as if He were a visible Being, and is taught that He only becomes visible in the Son from His mighty works, and not in the manifestation of His person. If, indeed, He meant the Father to be understood as the same with the Son, by saying, "He who sees me sees the Father," how is it that He adds immediately afterwards, "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?" He ought rather to have said: "Don't you believe that I am the Father?" With what view else did He so emphatically dwell on this point, if it Were not to clear up that which He wished men to understand – namely, that He was the Son? And then, again, by saying, "Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and the Father in me," He laid the greater stress on His question on this very account, that He should not, because He had said, "He that has seen me, has seen the Father," be supposed to be the Father; because He had never wished Himself to be so regarded, having always professed Himself to be the Son, and to have come from the Father. And then He also set the conjunction of the two Persons in the clearest light, in order that no wish might be entertained of seeing the Father as if He were separately visible, and that the Son might be regarded as the representative of the Father. And yet He omitted not to explain how the Father was in the Son and the Son in the Father. "The words," says He, "which I speak to you, are not mine," because indeed they were the Father's words; "but the Father that dwells in me, He does the works." It is therefore by His mighty works, and by the words of His doctrine, that the Father who dwells in the Son makes Himself visible – even by those wards and works whereby He abides in Him, and also by Him in whom He abides; the special properties of Both the Persons being apparent from this very circumstance, that He says, "I am in the Father, and the Father is in me." Accordingly He adds: "Believe – " What? That I am the Father? I do not find that it is so written, but rather, "that I am in the Father, and the Father in me; or else believe me for my works' sake;" meaning those works by which the Father manifested Himself to be in the Son, not indeed to the sight of man, but to his intelligence.

 

Chapter XXV

THE PARACLETE, OR HOLY GHOST. HE IS DISTINCT FROM THE FATHER AND THE SON AS TO THEIR PERSONAL EXISTENCE. ONE AND INSEPARABLE FROM THEM AS TO THEIR DIVINE NATURE. OTHER QUOTATIONS OUT OF ST. JOHN'S GOSPEL.

 

What follows Philip's question, and the Lord's whole treatment of it, to the end of John's Gospel, continues to furnish us with statements of the same kind, distinguishing the Father and the Son, with the properties of each. Then there is the Paraclete or Comforter, also, which He promises to pray for to the Father, and to send from heaven after He had ascended to the Father. He is called "another Comforter," indeed; but in what way He is another we have already shown, "He shall receive of mine," says Christ, just as Christ Himself received of the Father's. Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are, one essence, not one Person, as it is said, "I and my Father are One," in respect of] unity of substance not singularity of number. Run through the whole Gospel, and you will find that He whom you believe to be the Father (described as acting for the Father, although you, for your part, forsooth, suppose that "the Father, being the husbandman," must surely have been on earth) is once more recognised by the Son as in heaven, when, "lifting up His eyes thereto," He commended His disciples to the safe-keeping of the Father. We have, moreover, in that other Gospel a clear revelation, i.e. of the Son's distinction from the Father, "My God, why have You forsaken me?" and again, (in the third Gospel,) "Father, into Your hands I commend my spirit." But even if (we had not these passages, we meet with satisfactory evidence) after His resurrection and glorious victory over death. Now that all the restraint of His humiliation is taken away, He might, if possible, have shown Himself as the Father to so faithful a woman (as Mary Magdalene) when she approached to touch Him, out of love, not from curiosity, nor with Thomas' incredulity. But not so; Jesus saith to her, "Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren" (and even in this He proves Himself to be the Son; for if He had been the Father, He would have called them His children, (instead of His brethren), "and say to them, I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God." Now, does this mean, I ascend as the Father to the Father, and as God to God? Or as the Son to the Father, and as the Word to God? Wherefore also does this Gospel, at its very termination, intimate that these things were ever written, if it be not, to use its own words, "that you might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God?" Whenever, therefore, you take any of the statements of this Gospel, and apply them to demonstrate the identity of the Father and the Son, supposing that they serve your views therein, you are contending against the definite purpose of the Gospel. For these things certainly are not written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Father, but the Son.

 

Chapter XXVI

A BRIEF REFERENCE TO THE GOSPELS OF ST. MATTHEW AND ST. LUKE. THEIR AGREEMENT WITH ST. JOHN, IN RESPECT TO THE DISTINCT PERSONALITY OF THE FATHER AND THE SON.

 

In addition to Philip's conversation, and the Lord's reply to it, the reader will observe that we have run through John's Gospel to show that many other passages of a clear purport, both before and after that chapter, are only in strict accord with that single and prominent statement, which must be interpreted agreeably to all other places, rather than in opposition to them, and indeed to its own inherent and natural sense. I will not here largely use the support of the other Gospels, which confirm our belief by the Lord's nativity: it is sufficient to remark that He who had to be born of a virgin is announced in express terms by the angel himself as 'the Son of God: "The Spirit of God shall come upon you, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee; therefore also the Holy Thing that shall be born of you shall be called the San of God." On this passage even they will wish to raise a cavil; but truth will prevail. Of course, they say, the Son of God is God, and the power of the highest is the Most High. And they do not hesitate to insinuate what, if it had been true, would have been written. Whom was he so afraid of as not plainly to declare, "God shall come upon you, and the Highest shall overshadow thee?" Now, by saying "the Spirit of God" (although the Spirit of God is God,) and by not directly naming God, he wished that portion of the whole Godhead to be understood, which was about to retire into the designation of "the Son." The Spirit of God in this passage must be the same as the Word. For just as, when John says, "The Word was made flesh," we understand the Spirit also in the mention of the Word: so here, too, we acknowledge the Word likewise in the name of the Spirit. For both the Spirit is the substance of the Word, and the Word is the operation of the Spirit, and the Two are One (and the same). Now John must mean One when he speaks of Him as "having been made flesh," and the angel Another when he announces Him as "about to be born," if the Spirit is not the Word, and the Word the Spirit. For just as the Word of God is not actually He whose Word He is, so also the Spirit (although He is called God) is not actually He whose Spirit He is said to be. Nothing which belongs to something else is actually the very same thing as that to which it belongs. Clearly, when anything proceeds from a personal subject, and so belongs to him, since it comes from him, it may possibly be such in quality exactly as the personal subject himself is from whom it proceeds, and to whom it belongs. And thus the Spirit is God, and the Word is God, because proceeding from God, but yet is not actually the very same as He from whom He proceeds. Now that which is God of God, although He is an actually existing thing, yet He cannot be God Himself (exclusively), but so far God as He is of the same substance as God Himself, and as being an actually existing thing, and as a portion of the Whole. Much more will "the power of the Highest" not be the Highest Himself, because It is not an actually existing thing, as being Spirit – in the same way as the wisdom (of God) and the providence (of God) is not God: these attributes are not substances, but the accidents of the particular substance.

Power is incidental to the Spirit, but cannot itself be the Spirit. These things, therefore, whatsoever they are – (I mean) the Spirit of God, and the Word and the Power – having been conferred on the Virgin, that which is born of her is the Son of God. This He Himself, in those other Gospels also, testifies Himself to have been from His very boyhood: "Didn't you know," says He, "that I must be about my Father's business?" Satan likewise knew Him to be this in his temptations: "Since You art the Son of God." This, accordingly, the devils also acknowledge Him to be: "we know You, who You are, the Holy Son of God." His "Father" He Himself adores. When acknowledged by Peter as the "Christ (the Son) of God," He does not deny the relation. He exults in spirit when He says to the Father, "I thank You, O Father, because You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent." He, moreover, affirms also that to no man is the Father known, but to His Son; and promises that, as the Son of the Father, He will confess those who confess Him, and deny those who deny Him, before His Father. He also introduces a parable of the mission to the vineyard of the Son (not the Father), who was sent after so many servants, and slain by the husbandmen, and avenged by the Father. He is also ignorant of the last day and hour, which is known to the Father only. He awards the kingdom to His disciples, as He says it had been appointed to Himself by the Father. He has power to ask, if He will, legions of angels from the Father for His help. He exclaims that God had forsaken Him. He commends His spirit into the hands of the Father. After His resurrection He promises in a pledge to His disciples that He will send them the promise of His Father; and lastly, He commands them to baptize into the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost, not into a unipersonal God. And indeed it is not once only, but three times, that we are immersed into the Three Persons, at each several mention of Their names.

 

Chapter XXVII

THE DISTINCTION OF THE FATHER AND THE SON, THUS ESTABLISHED, HE NOW PROVES THE DISTINCTION OF THE TWO NATURES, WHICH WERE, WITHOUT CONFUSION, UNITED IN THE PERSON OF THE SON. THE SUBTERFUGES OF PRAXEAS THUS EXPOSED.

 

But why should I linger over matters which are so evident, when I ought to be attacking points on which they seek to obscure the plainest proof? For, confuted on all sides on the distinction between the Father and the Son, which we maintain without destroying their inseparable union – as (by the examples) of the sun and the ray, and the fountain and the river – yet, by help of (their conceit)an indivisible number, (with issues)of two and three, they endeavour to interpret this distinction in a way which shall nevertheless tally with their own opinions: so that, all in one Person, they distinguish two, Father and Son, understanding the Son to be flesh, that is man, that is Jesus; and the Father to be spirit, that is God, that is Christ. Thus they, while contending that the Father and the Son are one and the same, do in fact begin by dividing them rather than uniting them. For if Jesus is one, and Christ is another, then the Son will be different from the Father, because the Son is Jesus, and the Father is Christ. Such a monarchy as this they learnt, I suppose, in the school of Valentinus, making two – Jesus and Christ. But this conception of theirs has been, in fact, already confuted in what we have previously advanced, because the Word of God or the Spirit of God is also called the power of the Highest, whom they make the Father; whereas these relations are not themselves the same as He whose relations they are said to be, but they proceed from Him and appertain to Him. However, another refutation awaits them on this point of their heresy. See, say they, it was announced by the angel: "Therefore that Holy Thing which shall be born of you shall be called the Son of God." Therefore, (they argue,) as it was the flesh that was born, it must be the flesh that is the Son of God. Nay, (I answer,) this is spoken concerning the Spirit of God. For it was certainly of the Holy Spirit that the virgin conceived; and that which He conceived, she brought forth. That, therefore, had to be born which was conceived and was to be brought forth; that is to say, the Spirit, whose "name should be called Emmanuel which, being interpreted, is, God with us." Besides, the flesh is not God, so that it could not have been said concerning it, "That Holy Thing shall be called the Son of God," but only that Divine Being who was born in the flesh, of whom the psalm also says, "Since God became man in the midst of it, and established it by the will of the Father." Now what Divine Person was born in it? The Word, and the Spirit which became incarnate with the Word by the will of the Father. The Word, therefore, is incarnate; and this must be the point of our inquiry: How the Word became flesh, – whether it was by having been transfigured, as it were, in the flesh, or by having really clothed Himself in flesh. Certainly it was by a real clothing of Himself in flesh. For the rest, we must needs believe God to be unchangeable, and incapable of form, as being eternal. But transfiguration is the destruction of that which previously existed. For whatsoever is transfigured into some other thing ceases to be that which it had been, and begins to be that which it previously was not. God, however, neither ceases to be what He was, nor can He be any other thing than what He is. The Word is God, and "the Word of the Lord remains for ever," – even by holding on unchangeably in His own proper form. Now, if He admits not of being transfigured, it must follow that He be understood in this sense to have become flesh, when He comes to be in the flesh, and is manifested, and is seen, and is handled by means of the flesh; since all the other points likewise require to be thus understood. For if the Word became flesh by a transfiguration and change of substance, it follows at once that Jesus must be a substance compounded of two substances – of flesh and spirit, – a kind of mixture, like electrum, composed of gold and silver; and it begins to be neither gold (that is to say, spirit) nor silver (that is to say, flesh), – the one being changed by the other, and a third substance produced. Jesus, therefore, cannot at this rate be God for He has ceased to be the Word, which was made flesh; nor can He be Man incarnate for He is not properly flesh, and it was flesh which the Word became. Being compounded, therefore, of both, He actually is neither; He is rather some third substance, very different from either. But the truth is, we find that He is expressly set forth as both God and Man; the very psalm which we have quoted intimating (of the flesh), that "God became Man in the midst of it, He therefore established it by the will of the Father," – certainly in all respects as the Son of God and the Son of Man, being God and Man, differing no doubt according to each substance in its own especial property, inasmuch as the Word is nothing else but God, and the flesh nothing else but Man. Thus does the apostle also teach respecting His two substances, saying, "who was made of the seed of David;" in which words He will be Man and Son of Man. "Who was declared to be the Son of God, according to the Spirit;" in which words He will be God, and the Word – the Son of God. We see plainly the twofold state, which is not confounded, but conjoined in One Person – Jesus, God and Man. Concerning Christ, indeed, I defer what I have to say. (I remark here), that the property of each nature is so wholly preserved, that the Spirit s on the one hand did all things in Jesus suitable to Itself, such as miracles, and mighty deeds, and wonders; and the Flesh, on the other hand, exhibited the affections which belong to it. It was hungry under the devil's temptation, thirsty with the Samaritan woman, wept over Lazarus, was troubled even to death, and at last actually died. If, however, it was only a tertium quid, some composite essence formed out of the Two substances, like the electrum (which we have mentioned), there would be no distinct proofs apparent of either nature. But by a transfer of functions, the Spirit would have done things to be done by the Flesh, and the Flesh such as are effected by the Spirit; or else such things as are suited neither to the Flesh nor to the Spirit, but confusedly of some third character. Nay more, on this supposition, either the Word underwent death, or the flesh did not die, if so be the Word was converted into flesh; because either the flesh was immortal, or the Word was modal. Forasmuch, however, as the two substances acted distinctly, each in its own character, there necessarily accrued to them severally their own operations, and their own issues. Learn then, together with Nicodemus, that "that which is born in the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is Spirit."

Neither the flesh becomes Spirit, nor the Spirit flesh. In one Person they no doubt are well able to be co-existent. Of them Jesus consists – Man. of the flesh; of the Spirit, God – and the angel designated Him as "the Son of God," in respect of that nature, in which He was Spirit, reserving for the flesh the appellation "Son of Man." In like manner, again, the apostle calls Him "the Mediator between God and Men,"" and so affirmed His participation of both substances. Now, to end the matter, will you, who interpret the Son of God to be flesh, be so good as as to show us what the Son of Man is? Will He then, I want to know, be the Spirit? But you insist upon it that the Father Himself is the Spirit, on the ground that "God is a Spirit," just as if we did not read also that there is "the Spirit of God;" in the same manner as we find that as "the Word was God," so also there is "the Word of God."

 

Chapter XXVIII

CHRIST NOT THE FATHER, AS PRAXEAS SAID. THE INCONSISTENCY OF THIS OPINION, NO LESS THAN ITS ABSURDITY, EXPOSED. THE TRUE DOCTRINE OF JESUS CHRIST ACCORDING TO ST. PAUL, WHO AGREES WITH OTHER SACRED WRITERS.

 

And so, most foolish heretic, you make Christ to be the Father, without once considering the actual force of this name, if indeed Christ is a name, and not rather a surname, or designation; for it signifies "Anointed." But Anointed is no more a proper name than Clothed or Shod; it is only an accessory to a name. Suppose now that by some means Jesus were also called Vestitus (Clothed), as He is actually called Christ from the mystery of His anointing, would you in like manner say that Jesus was the Son of God, and at the same time suppose that Vestitus was the Father? Now then, concerning Christ, if Christ is the Father, the Father is an Anointed One, and receives the unction of course from another. Else if it is from Himself that He receives it, then you must prove it to us. But we learn no such fact from the Acts of the Apostles in that ejaculation of the Church to God, "Of a truth, Lord, against Your Holy Child Jesus, whom You have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate with the Gentiles and the people of Israel were gathered together." These then testified both that Jesus was the Son of God, and that being the Son, He was anointed by the Father. Christ therefore must be the same as Jesus who was anointed by the Father, and not the Father, who anointed the Son. To the same effect are the words of Peter: "Let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made that same Jesus, whom you have crucified, both Lord and Christ," that is, Anointed. John, moreover, brands that man as "a liar" who "denies that Jesus is the Christ;" whilst on the other hand he declares that "every one is born of God who believes that Jesus is the Christ." Wherefore he also exhorts us to believe in the name of His (the Father's,) Son Jesus Christ, that "our fellowship may be with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ." Paul, in like manner, everywhere speaks of "God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ." When writing to the Romans, he gives thanks to God through our Lord Jesus Christ. To the Galatians he declares himself to be "an apostle not of men, neither by man, but through Jesus Christ and God the Father." You possess indeed all his writings, which testify plainly to the same effect, and set forth Two – God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father. (They also testify) that Jesus is Himself the Christ, and under one or the other designation the Son of God. For precisely by the same right as both names belong to the same Person, even the Son of God, does either name alone without the other belong to the same Person. Consequently, whether it be the name Jesus which occurs alone, Christ is also understood, because Jesus is the Anointed One; or if the name Christ is the only one given, then Jesus is identified with Him, because the Anointed One is Jesus. Now, of these two names Jesus Christ, the former is the proper one, which was given to Him by the angel; and the latter is only an adjunct, predicable of Him from His anointing, – thus suggesting the proviso that Christ must be the Son, not the Father. How blind, to be sure, is the man who fails to perceive that by the name of Christ some other God is implied, if he ascribes to the Father this name of Christ! For if Christ is God the Father, when He says, "I ascend to my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God," He of course shows plainly enough that there is above Himself another Father and another God. If, again, the Father is Christ, He must be some other Being who "strengthens the thunder, and creates the wind, and declares to men His Christ." And if "the kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord and against His Christ," that Lord must be another Being, against whose Christ were gathered together the kings and the rulers. And if, to quote another passage, "Thus saith the Lord to my Lord Christ," the Lord who speaks to the Father of Christ must be a distinct Being. Moreover, when the apostle in his epistle prays, "That the God of our Lord Jesus Christ may give to you the spirit of wisdom and of knowledge," He must be other (than Christ), who is the God of Jesus Christ, the bestower of spiritual gifts. And once for all, that we may not wander through every passage, He "who raised up Christ from the dead, and is also to raise up our mortal bodies," must certainly be, as the quickener, different from the dead Father, or even from the quickened Father, if Christ who died is the Father.

 

Chapter XXIX

IT WAS CHRIST THAT DIED, THE FATHER IS INCAPABLE OF SUFFERING EITHER SOLELY OR WITH ANOTHER. BLASPHEMOUS CONCLUSIONS SPRING FROM PRAXEAS' PREMISES.

 

Silence! Silence on such blasphemy. Let us be content with saving that Christ died, the Son of the Father; and let this suffice, because the Scriptures have told us so much. For even the apostle, to his declaration – which he makes not without feeling the weight of it – that "Christ died," immediately adds, "according to the Scriptures," in order that he may alleviate the harshness of the statement by the authority of the Scriptures, and so remove offence from the reader. Now, although when two substances are alleged to be in Christ – namely, the divine and the human – it plainly follows that the divine nature is immortal, and that which is human is mortal, it is manifest in what sense he declares "Christ died" – even in the sense in which He was flesh and Man and the Son of Man, not as being the Spirit and the Word and the Son of God. In short, since he says that it was Christ (that is, the Anointed One) that died, he shows us that that which died was the nature which was anointed; in a word, the flesh. Very well, say you; since we on our side affirm our doctrine in precisely the same terms which you use on your side respecting the Son, we are not guilty of blasphemy against the Lord God, for we do not maintain that He died after the divine nature, but only after the human. Nay, but you do blaspheme; because you allege not only that the Father died, but that He died the death of the cross. For "cursed are they which are hanged on a tree," – a curse which, after the law, is compatible to the Son (inasmuch as "Christ has been made a curse for us," but certainly not the Father); since, however, you convert Christ into the Father, you are chargeable with blasphemy against the Father. But when we assert that Christ was crucified, we do not malign Him with a curse; we only re-affirm the curse pronounced by the law: nor indeed did the apostle utter blasphemy when he said the same thing as we. Besides, as there is no blasphemy in predicating of the subject that which is fairly applicable to it; so, on the other hand, it is blasphemy when that is alleged concerning the subject which is unsuitable to it. On this principle, too, the Father was not associated in suffering with the Son. The heretics, indeed, fearing to incur direct blasphemy against the Father, hope to diminish it by this expedient: they grant us so far that the Father and the Son are Two; adding that, since it iS the Son indeed who suffers, the Father is only His fellow-sufferer.

But how absurd are they even in this conceit! For what is the meaning of "fellow-suffering," but the endurance of suffering along with another? Now if the Father is incapable of suffering, He . is incapable of suffering in company with another; otherwise, if He can suffer with another, He is of course capable of suffering. You, in fact, yield Him nothing by this subterfuge of your fears. You are afraid to say that He is capable of suffering whom you make to be capable of fellow-suffering. Then, again, the Father is as incapable of fellow-suffering as the Son even is of suffering under the conditions of His existence as God. Well, but how could the Son suffer, if the Father did not suffer with Him? My answer is, The Father is separate from the Son, though not from Him as God. For even if a river be soiled with mire and mud, alhough it flows from the fountain identical in nature with it, and is not separated from the fountain, yet the injury which affects the stream reaches not to the fountain; and although it is the water of the fountain which suffers down the stream, still, since it is not affected at the fountain, but only in the river, the fountain suffers nothing, but only the river which issues from the fountain. So likewise the Spirit of God, whatever suffering it might be capable of in the Son, yet, inasmuch as it could not suffer in the Father, the fountain of the Godhead, but only in the Son, it evidently could not have suffered, as the Father. But it is enough for me that the Spirit of God suffered nothing as the Spirit of God, since all that It suffered It suffered in the Son. It was quite another matter for the Father to suffer with the Son in the flesh. This likewise has been treated by us. Nor will any one deny this, since even we are ourselves unable to suffer for God, unless the Spirit of God be in us, who also utters by our instrumentality whatever pertains to our own conduct and suffering; not, however, that He Himself suffers in our suffering, only He bestows on us the power and capacity of suffering.

 

Chapter XXX

HOW THE SON WAS FORSAKEN BY THE FATHER UPON THE CROSS. THE TRUE MEANING THEREOF FATAL TO PRAXEAS. SO TOO, THE RESURRECTION OF CHRIST, HIS ASCENSION, SESSION AT THE FATHER'S RIGHT HAND, AND MISSION OF THE HOLY GHOST.

 

However, if you persist in pushing your views further, I shall find means of answering you with greater stringency, and of meeting you with the exclamation of the Lord Himself, so as to challenge you with the question, What is your inquiry and reasoning about that? You have Him exclaiming in the midst of His passion: "My God, my God, why have You forsaken me?" Either, then, the Son suffered, being "forsaken" by the Father, and the Father consequently suffered nothing, inasmuch as He forsook the Son; or else, if it was the Father who suffered, then to what God was it that He addressed His cry? But this was the voice of flesh and soul, that is to say, of man – not of the Word and Spirit, that is to say, not of God; and it was uttered so as to prove the impassibility of God, who "forsook" His Son, so far as He handed over His human substance to the suffering of death. This verity the apostle also perceived, when he writes to this effect: "If the Father spa. red not His own Son." This did Isaiah before him likewise perceive, when he declared: "And the Lord has delivered Him up for our offences." In this manner He "forsook" Him, in not sparing Him; "forsook" Him, in delivering Him up. In all other respects the Father did not forsake the Son, for it was into His Father's hands that the Son commended His. spirit. Indeed, after so commending it, He instantly died; and as the Spirit remained with the flesh, the flesh cannot undergo the full extent of death, i.e., in corruption and decay. For the Son, therefore, to die, amounted to His being forsaken by the Father. The Son, then, both dies and rises again, according to the Scriptures. It is the Son, too, who ascends to the heights of heaven, and also descends to the inner parts of the earth. "He sits at the Father's right hand" – not the Father at His own. He is seen by Stephen, at his martyrdom by stoning, still sitting at the right hand of God? where He will continue to sit, until the Father shall make His enemies His footstool. He will come again on the clouds of heaven, just as He appeared when He ascended into heaven." Meanwhile He has received from the Father the promised gift, and has shed it forth, even the Holy Spirit – the Third Name in the Godhead, and the Third Degree of the Divine Majesty; the Declarer of the One Monarchy of God, but at the same time the Interpreter of the Economy, to every one who hears and receives the words of the new prophecy; and "the Leader into all truth," such as is in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, according to the mystery of the doctrine of Christ.

 

Chapter XXXI

RETROGRADE CHARACTER OF THE HERESY OF PRAXEAS. THE DOCTRINE OF THE BLESSED TRINITY CONSTITUTES THE GREAT DIFFERENCE BETWEEN JUDAISM AND CHRISTIANITY.

 

But, (this doctrine of yours bears a likeness) to the Jewish faith, of which this is the substance – so to believe in One God as to refuse to reckon the Son besides Him, and after the Son the Spirit. Now, what difference would there be between us and them, if there were not this distinction which you are far breaking down? What need would there be of the gospel, which is the substance of the New Covenant, laying down (as it does) that the Law anti the Prophets lasted until John the Baptist, if thenceforward the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not both believed in as Three, and as making One Only God? God was pleased to renew His covenant with man in such a way as that His Unity might be believed in, after a new manner, through the Son and the Spirit, in order that God might now be known openly," in His proper Names and Persons, who in ancient times was not plainly understood, though declared through the Son and the Spirit. Away, then, with those "Antichrists who deny the Father and the Son." For they deny the Father, when they say that He is the same as the Son; and they deny the Son, when they suppose Him to be the same as the Father, by assigning to Them things which are not Theirs, and taking away from Them things which are Theirs. But "whosoever shall confess that (Jesus) Christ is the Son of God" (not the Father), "God dwells in him, and he in God." We believe not the testimony of God in which He testifies to us of His Son. "He that has not the Son, has not life." And that man has not the Son, who believes Him to be any other than the Son.