Against Praxeas by Tertullian
Chapter XI.--The Identity of the Father and the Son, 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 Father 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 hath 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 hath 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, |Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.| 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 unto Himself, I am my own Son, to-day 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 in 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 and misleading a statement would be unworthy of God, that, when 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 Thee, that Thou shouldest be called my Son to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the dispersed of Israel? I have given Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou 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 hath anointed me to preach the gospel unto men.| He speaks of Himself likewise to the Father in the Psalm: |Forsake me not until I have declared the might of Thine 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 unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy 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 hath 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.