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Sermon Podcast | Audio | Video : Christian Books : Chapter XVI.--Introductory to Proverbs viii. 22, that the Son is not a Creature. Arian formula, a creature but not as one of the creatures; but each creature is unlike all other creatures; and no creature can create. The Word then differs from all creatur

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Chapter XVI.--Introductory to Proverbs viii. 22, that the Son is not a Creature. Arian formula, a creature but not as one of the creatures; but each creature is unlike all other creatures; and no creature can create. The Word then differs from all creatur

18. (continued). Now in the next place let us consider the passage in the Proverbs, The Lord created me a beginning of His ways for His works ;' although in shewing that the Word is no work, it has been also shewn that He is no creature. For it is the same to say work or creature, so that the proof that He is no work is a proof also that He is no creature. Whereas one may marvel at these men, thus devising excuses to be irreligious, and nothing daunted at the refutations which meet them upon every point. For first they set about deceiving the simple by their questions, Did He who is make from that which was not one that was not or one that was ?' and, Had you a son before begetting him ?' And when this had been proved worthless, next they invented the question, Is the Unoriginate one or two ?' Then, when in this they had been confuted, straightway they formed another, Has He free-will and an alterable nature ?' But being forced to give up this, next they set about saying, Being made so much better than the Angels ;' and when the truth exposed this pretence, now again, collecting them all together, they think to recommend their heresy by work' and creature .' For they mean those very things over again, and are true to their own perverseness, putting into various shapes and turning to and fro the same errors, if so be to deceive some by that variousness. Although then abundant proof has been given above of this their reckless expedient, yet, since they make all places sound with this passage from the Proverbs, and to many who are ignorant of the faith of Christians, seem to say somewhat, it is necessary to examine separately, He created' as well as Who was faithful to Him that made Him ;' that, as in all others, so in this text also, they may be proved to have got no further than a fantasy.

19. And first let us see the answers, which they returned to Alexander of blessed memory, in the outset, while their heresy was in course of formation. They wrote thus: He is a creature, but not as one of the creatures; a work, but not as one of the works; an offspring, but not as one of the offsprings .' Let every one consider the profligacy and craft of this heresy; for knowing the bitterness of its own malignity, it makes an effort to trick itself out with fair words, and says, what indeed it means, that He is a creature, yet thinks to be able to screen itself by adding, but not as one of the creatures.' However, in thus writing, they rather convict themselves of irreligion; for if, in your opinion, He is simply a creature, why add the pretence , but not as one of the creatures?' And if He is simply a work, how not as one of the works?' In which we may see the poison of the heresy. For by saying, offspring, but not as one of the offsprings,' they reckon many sons, and one of these they pronounce to be the Lord; so that according to them He is no more Only begotten, but one out of many brethren, and is called offspring and son. What use then is this pretence of saying that He is a creature and not a creature? for though ye shall say, Not as one of the creatures,' I will prove this sophism of yours to be foolish. For still ye pronounce Him to be one of the creatures; and whatever a man might say of the other creatures, such ye hold concerning the Son, ye truly fools and blind .' For is any one of the creatures just what another is , that ye should predicate this of the Son as some prerogative ? And all the visible creation was made in six days: -- in the first, the light which He called day; in the second the firmament; in the third, gathering together the waters, He bared the dry land, and brought out the various fruits that are in it; and in the fourth, He made the sun and the moon and all the host of the stars; and on the fifth, He created the race of living things in the sea, and of birds in the air; and on the sixth, He made the quadrupeds on the earth, and at length man. And the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made ;' and neither the light is as the night, nor the sun as the moon; nor the irrational as rational man; nor the Angels as the Thrones, nor the Thrones as the Authorities, yet they are all creatures, but each of the things made according to its kind exists and remains in its own essence, as it was made.

20. Let the Word then be excepted from the works, and as Creator be restored to the Father, and be confessed to be Son by nature; or if simply He be a creature, then let Him be assigned the same condition as the rest one with another, and let them as well as He be said every one of them to be a creature but not as one of the creatures, offspring or work, but not as one of the works or offsprings.' For ye say that an offspring is the same as a work, writing generated or made .' For though the Son excel the rest on a comparison, still a creature He is nevertheless, as they are; since in those which are by nature creatures one may find some excelling others. Star, for instance, differs from star in glory, and the rest have all of them their mutual differences when compared together; yet it follows not for all this that some are lords, and others servants to the superior, nor that some are efficient causes , others by them come into being, but all have a nature which comes to be and is created, confessing in their own selves their Framer: as David says in the Psalms, The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament sheweth His handy work ;' and as Zorobabel the wise says, All the earth calleth upon the Truth, and the heaven blesseth it: all works shake and tremble at it .' But if the whole earth hymns the Framer and the Truth, and blesses, and fears it, and its Framer is the Word, and He Himself says, I am the Truth ,' it follows that the Word is not a creature, but alone proper to the Father, in whom all things are disposed, and He is celebrated by all, as Framer; for I was by Him disposing ;' and My Father worketh hitherto, and I work .' And the word hitherto' shews His eternal existence in the Father as the Word; for it is proper to the Word to work the Father's works and not to be external to Him.

21. But if what the Father worketh, that the Son worketh also , and what the Son createth, that is the creation of the Father, and yet the Son be the Father's work or creature, then either He will work His own self, and will be His own creator (since what the Father worketh is the Son's work also), which is absurd and impossible; or, in that He creates and worketh the things of the Father, He Himself is not a work nor a creature; for else being Himself an efficient cause , He may cause that to be in the case of things caused, which He Himself has become, or rather He may have no power to cause at all.

For how, if, as you hold, He is come of nothing, is He able to frame things that are nothing into being? or if He, a creature, withal frames a creature, the same will be conceivable in the case of every creature, viz. the power to frame others. And if this pleases you, what is the need of the Word, seeing that things inferior can be brought to be by things superior? or at all events, every thing that is brought to be could have heard in the beginning God's words, Become' and be made,' and so would have been framed. But this is not so written, nor could it be. For none of things which are brought to be is an efficient cause, but all things were made through the Word: who would not have wrought all things, were He Himself in the number of the creatures. For neither would the Angels be able to frame, since they too are creatures, though Valentinus, and Marcion, and Basilides think so, and you are their copyists; nor will the sun, as being a creature, ever make what is not into what is; nor will man fashion man, nor stone devise stone, nor wood give growth to wood. But God is He who fashions man in the womb, and fixes the mountains, and makes wood grow; whereas man, as being capable of science, puts together and arranges that material, and works things that are, as he has learned; and is satisfied if they are but brought to be, and being conscious of what his nature is, if he needs aught, knows to ask it of God.

22. If then God also wrought and compounded out of materials, this indeed is a gentile thought, according to which God is an artificer and not a Maker, but yet even in that case let the Word work the materials, at the bidding and in the service of God . But if He calls into existence things which existed not by His proper Word, then the Word is not in the number of things non-existing and called; or we have to seek another Word , through whom He too was called; for by the Word the things which were not have come to be. And if through Him He creates and makes, He is not Himself of things created and made; but rather He is the Word of the Creator God and is known from the Father's works which He Himself worketh, to be in the Father and the Father in Him,' and He that hath seen Him hath seen the Father ,' because the Son's Essence is proper to the Father, and He in all points like Him . How then does He create through Him, unless it be His Word and His Wisdom? and how can He be Word and Wisdom, unless He be the proper offspring of His Essence , and did not come to be, as others, out of nothing? And whereas all things are from nothing, and are creatures, and the Son, as they say, is one of the creatures too and of things which once were not, how does He alone reveal the Father, and none else but He know the Father? For could He, a work, possibly know the Father, then must the Father be also known by all according to the proportion of the measures of each: for all of them are works as He is. But if it be impossible for things originate either to see or to know, for the sight and the knowledge of Him surpasses all (since God Himself says, No one shall see My face and live '), yet the Son has declared, No one knoweth the Father, save the Son ,' therefore the Word is different from all things originate, in that He alone knows and alone sees the Father, as He says, Not that any one hath seen the Father, save He that is from the Father,' and no one knoweth the Father save the Son ,' though Arius think otherwise. How then did He alone know, except that He alone was proper to Him? and how proper, if He were a creature, and not a true Son from Him? (For one must not mind saying often the same thing for religion's sake.) Therefore it is irreligious to think that the Son is one of all things; and blasphemous and unmeaning to call Him a creature, but not as one of the creatures, and a work, but not as one of the works, an offspring, but not as one of the offsprings;' for how not as one of these, if, as they say, He was not before His generation ? for it is proper to the creatures and works not to be before their origination, and to subsist out of nothing, even though they excel other creatures in glory; for this difference of one with another will be found in all creatures, which appears in those which are visible .

23. Moreover if, as the heretics hold, the Son were creature or work, but not as one of the creatures, because of His excelling them in glory, it were natural that Scripture should describe and display Him by a comparison in His favour with the other works; for instance, that it should say that He is greater than Archangels, and more honourable than the Thrones, and both brighter than sun and moon, and greater than the heavens. But he is not in fact thus referred to; but the Father shews Him to be His own proper and only Son, saying, Thou art My Son,' and This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. ' Accordingly the Angels ministered unto Him, as being one beyond themselves; and they worship Him, not as being greater in glory, but as being some one beyond all the creatures, and beyond themselves, and alone the Father's proper Son according to essence . For if He was worshipped as excelling them in glory, each of things subservient ought to worship what excels itself. But this is not the case ; for creature does not worship creature, but servant Lord, and creature God. Thus Peter the Apostle hinders Cornelius who would worship him, saying, I myself also am a man .' And an Angel, when John would worship him in the Apocalypse, hinders him, saying, See thou do it not; for I am thy fellow-servant, and of thy brethren the Prophets, and of them that keep the sayings of this book: worship God .' Therefore to God alone appertains worship, and this the very Angels know, that though they excel other beings in glory, yet they are all creatures and not to be worshipped , but worship the Lord. Thus Manoah, the father of Samson, wishing to offer sacrifice to the Angel, was thereupon hindered by him, saying, Offer not to me, but to God .' On the other hand, the Lord is worshipped even by the Angels; for it is written, Let all the Angels of God worship Him ;' and by all the Gentiles, as Isaiah says, The labour of Egypt and merchandize of Ethiopia and of the Sabeans, men of stature, shall come over unto thee, and they shall be thy servants;' and then, they shall fall down unto thee, and shall make supplication unto thee, saying, Surely God is in thee, and there is none else, there is no God .' And He accepts His disciples' worship, and certifies them who He is, saying, Call ye Me not Lord and Master? and ye say well, for so I am.' And when Thomas said to Him, My Lord and my God ,' He allows his words, or rather accepts him instead of hindering him. For He is, as the other Prophets declare, and David says in the Psalm, the Lord of hosts, the Lord of Sabaoth,' which is interpreted, the Lord of Armies,' and God True and Almighty, though the Arians burst at the tidings.

24. But He had not been thus worshipped, nor been thus spoken of, were He a creature merely. But now since He is not a creature, but the proper offspring of the Essence of that God who is worshipped, and His Son by nature, therefore He is worshipped and is believed to be God, and is Lord of armies, and in authority, and Almighty, as the Father is; for He has said Himself, All things that the Father hath, are Mine .' For it is proper to the Son, to have the things of the Father, and to be such that the Father is seen in Him, and that through Him all things were made, and that the salvation of all comes to pass and consists in Him.

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