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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter XX.--Texts Explained; Sixthly, Proverbs viii. 22 Continued. Our Lord is said to be created for the works,' i.e. with a particular purpose, which no mere creatures are ever said to be. Parallel of Isai. xlix. 5, &c. When His manhood is spoken of, a

Select Works And Letters Or Athanasius by Athanasius

Chapter XX.--Texts Explained; Sixthly, Proverbs viii. 22 Continued. Our Lord is said to be created for the works,' i.e. with a particular purpose, which no mere creatures are ever said to be. Parallel of Isai. xlix. 5, &c. When His manhood is spoken of, a

51 (continued). For the passage in the Proverbs, as I have said before, signifies, not the Essence, but the manhood of the Word; for if He says that He was created for the works,' He shews His intention of signifying, not His Essence, but the Economy which took place for His works,' which comes second to being. For things which are in formation and creation are made specially that they may be and exist , and next they have to do whatever the Word bids them, as may be seen in the case of all things. For Adam was created, not that He might work, but that first he might be man; for it was after this that he received the command to work. And Noah was created, not because of the ark, but that first he might exist and be a man; for after this he received commandment to prepare the ark. And the like will be found in every case on inquiring into it; -- thus the great Moses first was made a man, and next was entrusted with the government of the people. Therefore here too we must suppose the like; for thou seest, that the Word is not created into existence, but, In the beginning was the Word,' and He is afterwards sent for the works' and the Economy towards them. For before the works were made, the Son was ever, nor was there yet need that He should be created; but when the works were created and need arose afterwards of the Economy for their restoration, then it was that the Word took upon Himself this condescension and assimilation to the works; which He has shewn us by the word He created.' And through the Prophet Isaiah willing to signify the like, He says again: And now thus saith the Lord, who formed me from the womb to be His servant, to gather together Jacob unto Him and Israel, I shall be brought together and be glorified before the Lord .'

52. See here too, He is formed, not into existence, but in order to gather together the tribes, which were in existence before He was formed. For as in the former passage stands He created,' so in this He formed;' and as there for the works,' so here to gather together;' so that in every point of view it appears that He created' and He formed' are said after the Word was.' For as before His forming the tribes existed, for whose sake He was formed, so does it appear that the works exist, for which He was created. And when in the beginning was the Word,' not yet were the works, as I have said before; but when the works were made and the need required, then He created' was said; and as if some son, when the servants were lost, and in the hands of the enemy by their own carelessness, and need was urgent, were sent by his father to succour and recover them, and on setting out were to put over him the like dress with them, and should fashion himself as they, lest the capturers, recognising him as the master, should take to flight and prevent his descending to those who were hidden under the earth by them; and then were any one to inquire of him, why he did so, were to make answer, My Father thus formed and prepared me for his works,' while in thus speaking, he neither implies that he is a servant nor one of the works, nor speaks of the beginning of His origination, but of the subsequent charge given him over the works, -- in the same way the Lord also, having put over Him our flesh, and being found in fashion as a man,' if He were questioned by those who saw Him thus and marvelled, would say, The Lord created Me the beginning of His ways for His works,' and He formed Me to gather together Israel.' This again the Spirit foretells in the Psalms, saying, Thou didst set Him over the works of Thine hands ;' which elsewhere the Lord signified of Himself, I am set as King by Him upon His holy hill of Sion .' And as, when He shone in the body upon Sion, He had not His beginning of existence or of reign, but being God's Word and everlasting King, He vouchsafed that His kingdom should shine in a human way in Sion, that redeeming them and us from the sin which reigned in them, He might bring them under His Father's Kingdom, so, on being set for the works,' He is not set for things which did not yet exist, but for such as already were and needed restoration.

53. He created' then and He formed' and He set,' having the same meaning, do not denote the beginning of His being, or of His essence as created, but His beneficent renovation which came to pass for us. Accordingly, though He thus speaks, yet He taught also that He Himself existed before this, when He said, Before Abraham came to be, I am ;' and when He prepared the heavens, I was present with Him;' and I was with Him disposing things .' And as He Himself was before Abraham came to be, and Israel had come into being after Abraham, and plainly He exists first and is formed afterwards, and His forming signifies not His beginning of being but His taking manhood, wherein also He collects together the tribes of Israel; so, as being always with the Father,' He Himself is Framer of the creation, and His works are evidently later than Himself, and He created' signifies, not His beginning of being, but the Economy which took place for the works, which He effected in the flesh. For it became Him, being other than the works, nay rather their Framer, to take upon Himself their renovation , that, whereas He is created for us, all things may be now created in Him. For when He said He created,' He forthwith added the reason, naming the works,' that His creation for the works might signify His becoming man for their renovation. And this is usual with divine Scripture ; for when it signifies the fleshly origination of the Son, it adds also the cause for which He became man; but when he speaks or His servants declare anything of His Godhead, all is said in simple diction, and with an absolute sense, and without reason being added. For He is the Father's Radiance; and as the Father is, but not for any reason, neither must we seek the reason of that Radiance. Thus it is written, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God ;' and the wherefore it assigns not ; but when the Word was made flesh ,' then it adds the reason why, saying, And dwelt among us.' And again the Apostle saying, Who being in the form of God,' has not introduced the reason, till He took on Him the form of a servant;' for then he continues, He humbled Himself unto death, even the death of the cross ;' for it was for this that He both became flesh and took the form of a servant.

54. And the Lord Himself has spoken many things in proverbs; but when giving us notices about Himself, He has spoken absolutely ; I in the Father and the Father in Me,' and I and the Father are one,' and, He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father,' and I am the Light of the world,' and, I am the Truth ;' not setting down in every case the reason, nor the wherefore, lest He should seem second to those things for which He was made. For that reason would needs take precedence of Him, without which not even He Himself had come into being. Paul, for instance, separated an Apostle for the Gospel, which the Lord had promised afore by the Prophets ,' was thereby made subordinate to the Gospel, of which he was made minister, and John, being chosen to prepare the Lord's way, was made subordinate to the Lord; but the Lord, not being made subordinate to any reason why He should be Word, save only that He is the Father's Offspring and Only-begotten Wisdom, when He becomes man, then assigns the reason why He is about to take flesh. For the need of man preceded His becoming man, apart from which He had not put on flesh . And what the need was for which He became man, He Himself thus signifies, I came down from heaven, not to do Mine own will, but the will of Him that sent Me. And this is the will of Him which hath sent Me, that of all which He hath given Me, I should lose nothing, but should raise it up again at the last day. And this is the will of My Father, that every one which seeth the Son and believeth on Him may have everlasting life, and I will raise him up at the last day .' And again; I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on Me, should not abide in darkness .' And again he says; To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth .' And John has written: For this was manifested the Son of God, that He might destroy the works of the devil .'

55. To give a witness then, and for our sakes to undergo death, to raise man up and destroy the works of the devil , the Saviour came, and this is the reason of His incarnate presence. For otherwise a resurrection had not been, unless there had been death; and how had death been, unless He had had a mortal body? This the Apostle, learning from Him, thus sets forth, 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 bring to nought 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 .' And, Since by man came death, by man came also the resurrection of the dead .' And again, For what the Law could not do, in that it was weak through the flesh, God, sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin, condemned sin in the flesh; that the ordinance of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit .' And John says, For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved .' And again, the Saviour has spoken in His own person, For judgment am I come into this world, that they who see not might see, and that they which see might become blind .' Not for Himself then, but for our salvation, and to abolish death, and to condemn sin, and to give sight to the blind, and to raise up all from the dead, has He come; but if not for Himself, but for us, by consequence not for Himself but for us is He created. But if not for Himself is He created, but for us, then He is not Himself a creature, but, as having put on our flesh, He uses such language. And that this is the sense of the Scriptures, we may learn from the Apostle, who says in Ephesians, Having broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances, to create in Himself of twain one new man, so making peace .' But if in Him the twain are created, and these are in His body, reasonably then, bearing the twain in Himself, He is as if Himself created; for those who were created in Himself He made one, and He was in them, as they. And thus, the two being created in Him, He may say suitably, The Lord created me.' For as by receiving our infirmities, He is said to be infirm Himself, though not Himself infirm, for He is the Power of God, and He became sin for us and a curse, though not having sinned Himself, but because He Himself bare our sins and our curse, so , by creating us in Him, let Him say, He created me for the works,' though not Himself a creature.

56. For if, as they hold, the Essence of the Word being of created nature, therefore He says, The Lord created me,' being a creature, He was not created for us; but if He was not created for us, we are not created in Him; and, if not created in Him, we have Him not in ourselves but externally; as, for instance, as receiving instruction from Him as from a teacher . And it being so with us, sin has not lost its reign over the flesh, being inherent and not cast out of it. But the Apostle opposes such a doctrine a little before, when he says, For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus ;' and if in Christ we are created, then it is not He who is created, but we in Him; and thus the words He created' are for our sake. For because of our need, the Word, though being Creator, endured words which are used of creatures; which are not proper to Him, as being the Word, but are ours who are created in Him. And as, since the Father is always, so is His Word, and always being, always says I was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him ,' and I am in the Father and the Father in Me ;' so, when for our need He became man, consistently does He use language, as ourselves, The Lord hath created Me,' that, by His dwelling in the flesh, sin might perfectly be expelled from the flesh, and we might have a free mind . For what ought He, when made man, to say? In the beginning I was man?' this were neither suitable to Him nor true; and as it beseemed not to say this, so it is natural and proper in the case of man to say, He created' and He made' Him. On this account then the reason of He created' is added, namely, the need of the works; and where the reason is added, surely the reason rightly explains the lection. Thus here, when He says He created,' He sets down the cause, the works;' on the other hand, when He signifies absolutely the generation from the Father, straightway He adds, Before all the hills He begets me ;' but He does not add the wherefore,' as in the case of He created,' saying, for the works,' but absolutely, He begets me,' as in the text, In the beginning was the Word .' For, though no works had been created, still the Word' of God was,' and the Word was God.' And His becoming man would not have taken place, had not the need of men become a cause. The Son then is not a creature.

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