Chapter XIV. -- Texts explained; Fourthly, Hebrews iii.2 Introduction; the Regula Fidei counter to an Arian sense of the text; which is not supported by the word servant,' nor by made' which occurs in it; (how can the Judge be among the works' which God will bring into judgment?') nor by faithful;' and is confuted by the immediate context, which is about Priesthood; and by the foregoing passage, which explains the word faithful' as meaning trustworthy, as do 1 Pet. iv. fin. and other texts. On the whole made may safely be understood either of the divine generation or the human creation.
1. I did indeed think that enough had been said already against the hollow professors of Arius's madness, whether for their refutation or in the truth's behalf, to insure a cessation and repentance of their evil thoughts and words about the Saviour. They, however, for whatever reason, still do not succumb; but, as swine and dogs wallow in their own vomit and their own mire, rather invent new expedients for their irreligion. Thus they misunderstand the passage in the Proverbs, The Lord hath created me a beginning of His ways for His works ,' and the words of the Apostle, Who was faithful to Him that made Him ,' and straightway argue, that the Son of God is a work and a creature. But although they might have learned from what is said above, had they not utterly lost their power of apprehension, that the Son is not from nothing nor in the number of things originate at all, the Truth witnessing it (for, being God, He cannot be a work, and it is impious to call Him a creature, and it is of creatures and works that we say, out of nothing,' and it was not before its generation'), yet since, as if dreading to desert their own fiction, they are accustomed to allege the aforesaid passages of divine Scripture, which have a good meaning, but are by them practised on, let us proceed afresh to take up the question of the sense of these, to remind the faithful, and to shew from each of these passages that they have no knowledge at all of Christianity. Were it otherwise, they would not have shut themselves up in the unbelief of the present Jews , but would have inquired and learned that, whereas In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,' in consequence, it was when at the good pleasure of the Father the Word became man, that it was said of Him, as by John, The Word became flesh ;' so by Peter, He hath made Him Lord and Christ '; -- as by means of Solomon in the Person of the Lord Himself, The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works ;' so by Paul, Become so much better than the Angels ;' and again, He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant ;' and again, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus, who was faithful to Him that made Him .' For all these texts have the same force and meaning, a religious one, declarative of the divinity of the Word, even those of them which speak humanly concerning Him, as having become the Son of man. But, though this distinction is sufficient for their refutation, still, since from a misconception of the Apostle's words (to mention them first), they consider the Word of God to be one of the works, because of its being written, Who was faithful to Him that made Him,' I have thought it needful to silence this further argument of theirs, taking in hand , as before, their statement.
2. If then He be not a Son, let Him be called a work, and let all that is said of works be said of Him, nor let Him and Him alone be called Son, nor Word, nor Wisdom; neither let God be called Father, but only Framer and Creator of things which by Him come to be; and let the creature be Image and Expression of His framing will, and let Him, as they would have it, be without generative nature, so that there be neither Word, nor Wisdom, no, nor Image, of His proper substance. For if He be not Son , neither is He Image . But if there be not a Son, how then say you that God is a Creator? since all things that come to be are through the Word and in Wisdom, and without This nothing can be, whereas you say He hath not That in and through which He makes all things. For if the Divine Essence be not fruitful itself , but barren, as they hold, as a light that lightens not, and a dry fountain, are they not ashamed to speak of His possessing framing energy? and whereas they deny what is by nature, do they not blush to place before it what is by will ? But if He frames things that are external to Him and before were not, by willing them to be, and becomes their Maker, much more will He first be Father of an Offspring from His proper Essence. For if they attribute to God the willing about things which are not, why recognise they not that in God which lies above the will? now it is a something that surpasses will, that He should be by nature, and should be Father of His proper Word. If then that which comes first, which is according to nature, did not exist, as they would have it in their folly, how could that which is second come to be, which is according to will? for the Word is first, and then the creation. On the contrary the Word exists, whatever they affirm, those irreligious ones; for through Him did creation come to be, and God, as being Maker, plainly has also His framing Word, not external, but proper to Him; -- for this must be repeated. If He has the power of will, and His will is effective, and suffices for the consistence of the things that come to be, and His Word is effective, and a Framer, that Word must surely be the living Will of the Father, and an essential energy, and a real Word, in whom all things both consist and are excellently governed. No one can even doubt, that He who disposes is prior to the disposition and the things disposed. And thus, as I said, God's creating is second to His begetting; for Son implies something proper to Him and truly from that blessed and everlasting Essence; but what is from His will, comes into consistence from without, and is framed through His proper Offspring who is from It.
3. As we have shewn then they are guilty of great extravagance who say that the Lord is not Son of God, but a work, and it follows that we all of necessity confess that He is Son. And if He be Son, as indeed He is, and a son is confessed to be not external to his father but from him, let them not question about the terms, as I said before, which the sacred writers use of the Word Himself, viz. not to Him that begat Him,' but to Him that made Him;' for while it is confessed what His nature is, what word is used in such instances need raise no question . For terms do not disparage His Nature; rather that Nature draws to Itself those terms and changes them. For terms are not prior to essences, but essences are first, and terms second. Wherefore also when the essence is a work or creature, then the words He made,' and He became,' and He created,' are used of it properly, and designate the work. But when the Essence is an Offspring and Son, then He made,' and He became,' and He created,' no longer properly belong to it, nor designate a work; but He made' we use without question for He begat.' Thus fathers often call the sons born of them their servants, yet without denying the genuineness of their nature; and often they affectionately call their own servants children, yet without putting out of sight their purchase of them originally; for they use the one appellation from their authority as being fathers, but in the other they speak from affection. Thus Sara called Abraham lord, though not a servant but a wife; and while to Philemon the master the Apostle joined Onesimus the servant as a brother, Bathsheba, although mother, called her son servant, saying to his father, Thy servant Solomon ;' -- afterwards also Nathan the Prophet came in and repeated her words to David, Solomon thy servant .' Nor did they mind calling the son a servant, for while David heard it, he recognised the nature,' and while they spoke it, they forgot not the genuineness,' praying that he might be made his father's heir, to whom they gave the name of servant; for to David he was son by nature.
4. As then, when we read this, we interpret it fairly, without accounting Solomon a servant because we hear him so called, but a son natural and genuine, so also, if, concerning the Saviour, who is confessed to be in truth the Son, and to be the Word by nature, the saints say, Who was faithful to Him that made Him,' or if He say of Himself, The Lord created me,' and, I am Thy servant and the Son of Thine handmaid ,' and the like, let not any on this account deny that He is proper to the Father and from Him; but, as in the case of Solomon and David, let them have a right idea of the Father and the Son. For if, though they hear Solomon called a servant, they acknowledge him to be a son, are they not deserving of many deaths , who, instead of preserving the same explanation in the instance of the Lord, whenever they hear Offspring,' and Word,' and Wisdom,' forcibly misinterpret and deny the generation, natural and genuine, of the Son from the Father; but on hearing words and terms proper to a work, forthwith drop down to the notion of His being by nature a work, and deny the Word; and this, though it is possible, from His having been made man, to refer all these terms to His humanity? And are they not proved to be an abomination' also unto the Lord,' as having diverse weights ' with them, and with this estimating those other instances, and with that blaspheming the Lord? But perhaps they grant that the word servant' is used under a certain understanding, but lay stress upon Who made' as some great support of their heresy. But this stay of theirs also is but a broken reed; for if they are aware of the style of Scripture, they must at once give sentence against themselves. For as Solomon, though a son, is called a servant, so, to repeat what was said above, although parents call the sons springing from themselves made' and created' and becoming,' for all this they do not deny their nature. Thus Hezekiah, as it is written in Isaiah, said in his prayer, From this day I will make children, who shall declare Thy righteousness, O God of my salvation .' He then said, I will make;' but the Prophet in that very book and the Fourth of Kings, thus speaks, And the sons who shall come forth of thee .' He uses then make' for beget,' and he calls them who were to spring from him, made,' and no one questions whether the term has reference to a natural offspring. Again, Eve on bearing Cain said, I have gotten a man from the Lord ;' thus she too used gotten' for brought forth.' For, first she saw the child, yet next she said, I have gotten.' Nor would any one consider, because of I have gotten,' that Cain was purchased from without, instead of being born of her. Again, the Patriarch Jacob said to Joseph, And now thy two sons, Ephraim and Manasseh, which became thine in Egypt, before I came unto thee into Egypt, are mine .' And Scripture says about Job, And there came to him seven sons and three daughters .' As Moses too has said in the Law, If sons become to any one,' and If he make a son .' Here again they speak of those who are begotten, as become' and made,' knowing that, while they are acknowledged to be sons, we need not make a question of they became,' or I have gotten,' or I made .' For nature and truth draw the meaning to themselves.
5. This being so , when persons ask whether the Lord is a creature or work, it is proper to ask of them this first, whether He is Son and Word and Wisdom. For if this is shewn, the surmise about work and creation falls to the ground at once and is ended. For a work could never be Son and Word; nor could the Son be a work. And again, this being the state of the case, the proof is plain to all, that the phrase, To Him who made Him' does not serve their heresy, but rather condemns it. For it has been shewn that the expression He made' is applied in divine Scripture even to children genuine and natural; whence, the Lord being proved to be the Father's Son naturally and genuinely, and Word, and Wisdom, though He made' be used concerning Him, or He became,' this is not said of Him as if a work, but the saints make no question about using the expression, -- for instance in the case of Solomon, and Hezekiah's children. For though the fathers had begotten them from themselves, still it is written, I have made,' and I have gotten,' and He became.' Therefore God's enemies, in spite of their repeated allegation of such phrases , ought now, though late in the day, after what has been said, to disown their irreligious thoughts, and think of the Lord as of a true Son, Word, and Wisdom of the Father, not a work, not a creature. For if the Son be a creature, by what word then and by what wisdom was He made Himself ? for all the works were made through the Word and the Wisdom, as it is written, In wisdom hast Thou made them all,' and, All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made .' But if it be He who is the Word and the Wisdom, by which all things come to be, it follows that He is not in the number of works, nor in short of things originate, but the Offspring of the Father.
6. For consider how grave an error it is, to call God's Word a work. Solomon says in one place in Ecclesiastes, that God shall bring every work into judgment, with every secret thing, whether it be good or whether it be evil .' If then the Word be a work, do you mean that He as well as others will be brought into judgment? and what room is there for judgment, when the Judge is on trial? who will give to the just their blessing, who to the unworthy their punishment, the Lord, as you must suppose, standing on trial with the rest? by what law shall He, the Lawgiver, Himself be judged? These things are proper to the works, to be on trial, to be blessed and to be punished by the Son. Now then fear the Judge, and let Solomon's words convince you. For if God shall bring the works one and all into judgment, but the Son is not in the number of things put on trial, but rather is Himself the Judge of works one and all, is not the proof clearer than the sun, that the Son is not a work but the Father's Word, in whom all the works both come to be and come into judgment? Further, if the expression, Who was faithful,' is a difficulty to them, from the thought that faithful' is used of Him as of others, as if He exercises faith and so receives the reward of faith, they must proceed at this rate to find fault with Moses for saying, God faithful and true ,' and with St. Paul for writing, God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able .' But when the saints spoke thus, they were not thinking of God in a human way, but they acknowledged two senses of the word faithful' in Scripture, first believing,' then trustworthy,' of which the former belongs to man, the latter to God. Thus Abraham was faithful, because He believed God's word; and God faithful, for, as David says in the Psalm, The Lord is faithful in all His words ,' or is trustworthy, and cannot lie. Again, If any faithful woman have widows ,' she is so called for her right faith; but, It is a faithful saying ,' because what He hath spoken has a claim on our faith, for it is true, and is not otherwise. Accordingly the words, Who is faithful to Him that made Him,' implies no parallel with others, nor means that by having faith He became well-pleasing; but that, being Son of the True God, He too is faithful, and ought to be believed in all He says and does, Himself remaining unalterable and not changed in His human Economy and fleshly presence.
7. Thus then we may meet these men who are shameless, and from the single expression He made,' may shew that they err in thinking that the Word of God is a work. But further, since the drift also of the context is orthodox, shewing the time and the relation to which this expression points, I ought to shew from it also how the heretics lack reason; viz. by considering, as we have done above, the occasion when it was used and for what purpose. Now the Apostle is not discussing things before the creation when he thus speaks, but when the Word became flesh;' for thus it is written, Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of the heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession Jesus, who was faithful to Him that made Him.' Now when became He Apostle,' but when He put on our flesh? and when became He High Priest of our profession,' but when, after offering Himself for us, He raised His Body from the dead, and, as now, Himself brings near and offers to the Father those who in faith approach Him, redeeming all, and for all propitiating God? Not then as wishing to signify the Essence of the Word nor His natural generation from the Father, did the Apostle say, Who was faithful to Him that made Him' -- (perish the thought! for the Word is not made, but makes) -- but as signifying His descent to mankind and High-priesthood which did become' -- as one may easily see from the account given of the Law and of Aaron. I mean, Aaron was not born a high-priest, but a man; and in process of time, when God willed, he became a high-priest; yet became so, not simply, nor as betokened by his ordinary garments, but putting over them the ephod, the breastplate , the robe, which the women wrought at God's command, and going in them into the holy place, he offered the sacrifice for the people; and in them, as it were, mediated between the vision of God and the sacrifices of men. Thus then the Lord also, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God;' but when the Father willed that ransoms should be paid for all and to all, grace should be given, then truly the Word, as Aaron his robe, so did He take earthly flesh, having Mary for the Mother of His Body as if virgin earth , that, as a High Priest, having He as others an offering, He might offer Himself to the Father, and cleanse us all from sins in His own blood, and might rise from the dead.
8. For what happened of old was a shadow of this; and what the Saviour did on His coming, this Aaron shadowed out according to the Law. As then Aaron was the same and did not change by putting on the high-priestly dress , but remaining the same was only robed, so that, had any one seen him offering, and had said, Lo, Aaron has this day become high-priest,' he had not implied that he then had been born man, for man he was even before he became high-priest, but that he had been made high-priest in his ministry, on putting on the garments made and prepared for the high-priesthood; in the same way it is possible in the Lord's instance also to understand aright, that He did not become other than Himself on taking the flesh, but, being the same as before, He was robed in it; and the expressions He became' and He was made,' must not be understood as if the Word, considered as the Word , were made, but that the Word, being Framer of all, afterwards was made High Priest, by putting on a body which was originate and made, and such as He can offer for us; wherefore He is said to be made. If then indeed the Lord did not become man , that is a point for the Arians to battle; but if the Word became flesh,' what ought to have been said concerning Him when become man, but Who was faithful to Him that made Him?' for as it is proper to the Word to have it said of Him, In the beginning was the Word,' so it is proper to man to become' and to be made.' Who then, on seeing the Lord as a man walking about, and yet appearing to be God from His works, would not have asked, Who made Him man? and who again, on such a question, would not have answered, that the Father made Him man, and sent Him to us as High Priest? And this meaning, and time, and character, the Apostle himself, the writer of the words, Who is faithful to Him that made Him,' will best make plain to us, if we attend to what goes before them. For there is one train of thought, and the lection is all about One and the Same. He writes then in the Epistle to the Hebrews thus; Forasmuch then as the children are partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise took part of the same; that through death He might destroy him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and deliver them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage. For verily He took not on Him the nature of Angels; but He took on Him the seed of Abraham. Wherefore in all things it behoved Him to be made like unto His brethren, that He might be a merciful and faithful High Priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people. For in that He Himself hath suffered being tempted, He is able to succour them that are tempted. Wherefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider the Apostle and High Priest of our profession, Jesus; who was faithful to Him that made Him .'
9. Who can read this whole passage without condemning the Arians, and admiring the blessed Apostle, who has spoken well? for when was Christ made,' when became He Apostle,' except when, like us, He took part in flesh and blood?' And when became He a merciful and faithful High Priest,' except when in all things He was made like unto His brethren?' And then was He made like,' when He became man, having put upon Him our flesh. Wherefore Paul was writing concerning the Word's human Economy, when he said, Who was faithful to Him that made Him,' and not concerning His Essence. Have not therefore any more the madness to say that the Word of God is a work; whereas He is Son by nature Only-begotten, and then had brethren,' when He took on Him flesh like ours; which moreover, by Himself offering Himself, He was named and became merciful and faithful,' -- merciful, because in mercy to us He offered Himself for us, and faithful, not as sharing faith with us, nor as having faith in any one as we have, but as deserving to receive faith in all He says and does, and as offering a faithful sacrifice, one which remains and does not come to nought. For those which were offered according to the Law, had not this faithfulness, passing away with the day and needing a further cleansing; but the Saviour's sacrifice, taking place once, has perfected everything, and is become faithful as remaining for ever. And Aaron had successors, and in a word the priesthood under the Law exchanged its first ministers as time and death went on; but the Lord having a high priesthood without transition and without succession, has become a faithful High Priest,' as continuing for ever; and faithful too by promise, that He may hear and not mislead those who come to Him. This may be also learned from the Epistle of the great Peter, who says, Let them that suffer according to the will of God, commit their souls to a faithful Creator .' For He is faithful as not changing, but abiding ever, and rendering what He has promised.
10. Now the so-called gods of the Greeks, unworthy the name, are faithful neither in their essence nor in their promises; for the same are not everywhere, nay, the local deities come to nought in course of time, and undergo a natural dissolution; wherefore the Word cries out against them, that faith is not strong in them,' but they are waters that fail,' and there is no faith in them.' But the God of all, being one really and indeed and true, is faithful, who is ever the same, and says, See now, that I, even I am He,' and I change not ;' and therefore His Son is faithful,' being ever the same and unchanging, deceiving neither in His essence nor in His promise; -- as again says the Apostle writing to the Thessalonians, Faithful is He who calleth you, who also will do it ;' for in doing what He promises, He is faithful to His words.' And he thus writes to the Hebrews as to the word's meaning unchangeable;' If we believe not, yet He abideth faithful; He cannot deny Himself .' Therefore reasonably the Apostle, discoursing concerning the bodily presence of the Word, says, an Apostle and faithful to Him that made Him,' shewing us that, even when made man, Jesus Christ' is the same yesterday, and to-day, and for ever ' is unchangeable. And as the Apostle makes mention in his Epistle of His being made man when mentioning His High Priesthood, so too he kept no long silence about His Godhead, but rather mentions it forthwith, furnishing to us a safeguard on every side, and most of all when he speaks of His humility, that we may forthwith know His loftiness and His majesty which is the Father's. For instance, he says, Moses as a servant, but Christ as a Son ;' and the former faithful in his house,' and the latter over the house,' as having Himself built it, and being its Lord and Framer, and as God sanctifying it. For Moses, a man by nature, became faithful, in believing God who spoke to Him by His Word; but the Word was not as one of things originate in a body, nor as creature in creature, but as God in flesh , and Framer of all and Builder in that which was built by Him. And men are clothed in flesh in order to be and to subsist; but the Word of God was made man in order to sanctify the flesh, and, though He was Lord, was in the form of a servant; for the whole creature is the Word's servant, which by Him came to be, and was made.
11. Hence it holds that the Apostle's expression, He made,' does not prove that the Word is made, but that body, which He took like ours; and in consequence He is called our brother, as having become man. But if it has been shewn, that, even though the word made' be referred to the Very Word, it is used for begat,' what further perverse expedient will they be able to fall upon, now that the present discussion has cleared up the word in every point of view, and shewn that the Son is not a work, but in Essence indeed the Father's offspring, while in the Economy, according to the good pleasure of the Father, He was on our behalf made, and consists as man? For this reason then it is said by the Apostle, Who was faithful to Him that made Him;' and in the Proverbs, even creation is spoken of. For so long as we are confessing that He became man, there is no question about saying, as was observed before, whether He became,' or He has been made,' or created,' or formed,' or servant,' or son of an handmaid,' or son of man,' or was constituted,' or took His journey,' or bridegroom,' or brother's son,' or brother.' All these terms happen to be proper to man's constitution; and such as these do not designate the Essence of the Word, but that He has become man.