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Select Works And Letters Or Athanasius by Athanasius

Discourse III.

Chapter XXIII. -- Texts Explained; Seventhly, John xiv.10 Introduction. The doctrine of the coinherence. The Father and the Son Each whole and perfect God. They are in Each Other, because their Essence is One and the Same. They are Each Perfect and have One Essence, because the Second Person is the Son of the First. Asterius's evasive explanation of the text under review; refuted. Since the Son has all that the Father has, He is His Image; and the Father is the One God, because the Son is in the Father.

1. The Ario-maniacs, as it appears, having once made up their minds to transgress and revolt from the Truth, are strenuous in appropriating the words of Scripture, When the impious cometh into a depth of evils, he despiseth ;' for refutation does not stop them, nor perplexity abash them; but, as having a whore's forehead,' they refuse to be ashamed ' before all men in their irreligion. For whereas the passages which they alleged, The Lord created me ,' and Made better than the Angels ,' and First-born ,' and Faithful to Him that made Him ' have a right sense , and inculcate religiousness towards Christ, so it is that these men still, as if bedewed with the serpent's poison, not seeing what they ought to see, nor understanding what they read, as if in vomit from the depth of their irreligious heart, have next proceeded to disparage our Lord's words, I in the Father and the Father in Me ;' saying, How can the One be contained in the Other and the Other in the One?' or How at all can the Father who is the greater be contained in the Son who is the less?' or What wonder, if the Son is in the Father,' considering it is written even of us, In Him we live and move and have our being ?' And this state of mind is consistent with their perverseness, who think God to be material, and understand not what is True Father' and True Son,' nor Light Invisible' and Eternal,' and Its Radiance Invisible,' nor Invisible Subsistence,' and Immaterial Expression' and Immaterial Image.' For did they know, they would not dishonour and ridicule the Lord of glory, nor interpreting things immaterial after a material manner, pervert good words. It were sufficient indeed, on hearing only words which are the Lord's, at once to believe, since the faith of simplicity is better than an elaborate process of persuasion; but since they have endeavoured to profane even this passage to their own heresy, it becomes necessary to expose their perverseness and to shew the mind of the truth, at least for the security of the faithful. For when it is said, I in the Father and the Father in Me,' They are not therefore, as these suppose, discharged into Each Other, filling the One the Other, as in the case of empty vessels, so that the Son fills the emptiness of the Father and the Father that of the Son , and Each of Them by Himself is not complete and perfect (for this is proper to bodies, and therefore the mere assertion of it is full of irreligion), for the Father is full and perfect, and the Son is the Fulness of Godhead. Nor again, as God, by coming into the Saints, strengthens them, thus is He also in the Son. For He is Himself the Father's Power and Wisdom, and by partaking of Him things originate are sanctified in the Spirit; but the Son Himself is not Son by participation, but is the Father's own Offspring . Nor again is the Son in the Father, in the sense of the passage, In Him we live and move and have our being;' for, He as being from the Fount of the Father is the Life, in which all things are both quickened and consist; for the Life does not live in life , else it would not be Life, but rather He gives life to all things.

2. But now let us see what Asterius the Sophist says, the retained pleader for the heresy. In imitation then of the Jews so far, he writes as follows; It is very plain that He has said, that He is in the Father and the Father again in Him, for this reason, that neither the word on which He was discoursing is, as He says, His own, but the Father's, nor the works belong to Him, but to the Father who gave Him the power.' Now this, if uttered at random by a little child, had been excused from his age; but when one who bears the title of Sophist, and professes universal knowledge , is the writer, what a serious condemnation does he deserve! And does he not shew himself a stranger to the Apostle , as being puffed up with persuasive words of wisdom, and thinking thereby to succeed in deceiving, not understanding himself what he says nor whereof he affirms ? For what the Son has said as proper and suitable to a Son only, who is Word and Wisdom and Image of the Father's Essence, that he levels to all the creatures, and makes common to the Son and to them; and he says, lawless man, that the Power of the Father receives power, that from this his irreligion it may follow to say that in a son the Son was made a son, and the Word received a word's authority; and, far from granting that He spoke this as a Son, He ranks Him with all things made as having learned it as they have. For if the Son said, I am in the Father and the Father in Me,' because His discourses were not His own words but the Father's, and so of His works, then, -- since David says, I will hear what the Lord God shall say in me ,' and again Solomon , My words are spoken by God,' and since Moses was minister of words which were from God, and each of the Prophets spoke not what was his own but what was from God, Thus saith the Lord,' and since the works of the Saints, as they professed, were not their own but God's who gave the power, Elijah for instance and Elisha invoking God that He Himself would raise the dead, and Elisha saying to Naaman, on cleansing him from the leprosy, that thou mayest know that there is a God in Israel ,' and Samuel too in the days of the harvest praying to God to grant rain, and the Apostles saying that not in their own power they did miracles but in the Lord's grace -- it is plain that, according to Asterius such a statement must be common to all, so that each of them is able to say, I in the Father and the Father in me;' and as a consequence that He is no longer one Son of God and Word and Wisdom, but, as others, is only one out of many.

3. But if the Lord said this, His words would not rightly have been, I in the Father and the Father in Me,' but rather, I too am in the Father, and the Father is in Me too,' that He may have nothing of His own and by prerogative , relatively to the Father, as a Son, but the same grace in common with all. But it is not so, as they think; for not understanding that He is genuine Son from the Father, they belie Him who is such, whom alone it befits to say, I in the Father and the Father in Me.' For the Son is in the Father, as it is allowed us to know, because the whole Being of the Son is proper to the Father's essence , as radiance from light, and stream from fountain; so that whoso sees the Son, sees what is proper to the Father, and knows that the Son's Being, because from the Father, is therefore in the Father. For the Father is in the Son, since the Son is what is from the Father and proper to Him, as in the radiance the sun, and in the word the thought, and in the stream the fountain: for whoso thus contemplates the Son, contemplates what is proper to the Father's Essence, and knows that the Father is in the Son. For whereas the Form and Godhead of the Father is the Being of the Son, it follows that the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son .

4. On this account and reasonably, having said before, I and the Father are One,' He added, I in the Father and the Father in Me, ' by way of shewing the identity of Godhead and the unity of Essence. For they are one, not as one thing divided into two parts, and these nothing but one, nor as one thing twice named, so that the Same becomes at one time Father, at another His own Son, for this Sabellius holding was judged an heretic. But They are two, because the Father is Father and is not also Son, and the Son is Son and not also Father ; but the nature is one; (for the offspring is not unlike its parent, for it is his image), and all that is the Father's, is the Son's . Wherefore neither is the Son another God, for He was not procured from without, else were there many, if a godhead be procured foreign from the Father's ; for if the Son be other, as an Offspring, still He is the Same as God; and He and the Father are one in propriety and peculiarity of nature, and in the identity of the one Godhead, as has been said. For the radiance also is light, not second to the sun, nor a different light, nor from participation of it, but a whole and proper offspring of it. And such an offspring is necessarily one light; and no one would say that they are two lights , but sun and radiance two, yet one the light from the sun enlightening in its radiance all things. So also the Godhead of the Son is the Father's; whence also it is indivisible; and thus there is one God and none other but He. And so, since they are one, and the Godhead itself one, the same things are said of the Son, which are said of the Father, except His being said to be Father : -- for instance , that He is God, And the Word was God ;' Almighty, Thus saith He which was and is and is to come, the Almighty ;' Lord, One Lord Jesus Christ ;' that He is Light, I am the Light ;' that He wipes out sins, that ye may know,' He says, that the Son of man hath power upon earth to forgive sins ;' and so with other attributes. For all things,' says the Son Himself, whatsoever the Father hath, are Mine ;' and again, And Mine are Thine.'

5. And on hearing the attributes of the Father spoken of a Son, we shall thereby see the Father in the Son; and we shall contemplate the Son in the Father, when what is said of the Son is said of the Father also. And why are the attributes of the Father ascribed to the Son, except that the Son is an Offspring from Him? and why are the Son's attributes proper to the Father, except again because the Son is the proper Offspring of His Essence? And the Son, being the proper Offspring of the Father's Essence, reasonably says that the Father's attributes are His own also; whence suitably and consistently with saying, I and the Father are One,' He adds, that ye may know that I am in the Father and the Father in Me .' Moreover, He has added this again, He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father ;' and there is one and the same sense in these three passages. For he who in this sense understands that the Son and the Father are one, knows that He is in the Father and the Father in the Son; for the Godhead of the Son is the Father's, and it is in the Son; and whoso enters into this, is convinced that He that hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father;' for in the Son is contemplated the Father's Godhead. And we may perceive this at once from the illustration of the Emperor's image. For in the image is the shape and form of the Emperor, and in the Emperor is that shape which is in the image. For the likeness of the Emperor in the image is exact ; so that a person who looks at the image, sees in it the Emperor; and he again who sees the Emperor, recognises that it is he who is in the image . And from the likeness not differing, to one who after the image wished to view the Emperor, the image might say, I and the Emperor are one; for I am in him, and he in me; and what thou seest in me, that thou beholdest in him, and what thou hast seen in him, that thou holdest in me .' Accordingly he who worships the image, in it worships the Emperor also; for the image is his form and appearance. Since then the Son too is the Father's Image, it must necessarily be understood that the Godhead and propriety of the Father is the Being of the Son.

6. And this is what is said, Who being in the form of God ,' and the Father in Me.' Nor is this Form of the Godhead partial merely, but the fulness of the Father's Godhead is the Being of the Son, and the Son is whole God. Therefore also, being equal to God, He thought it not a prize to be equal to God;' and again since the Godhead and the Form of the Son is none other's than the Father's , this is what He says, I in the Father.' Thus God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself ;' for the propriety of the Father's Essence is that Son, in whom the creation was then reconciled with God. Thus what things the Son then wrought are the Father's works, for the Son is the Form of that Godhead of the Father, which wrought the works. And thus he who looks at the Son, sees the Father; for in the Father's Godhead is and is contemplated the Son; and the Father's Form which is in Him shews in Him the Father; and thus the Father is in the Son. And that propriety and Godhead which is from the Father in the Son, shews the Son in the Father, and His inseparability from Him; and whoso hears and beholds that what is said of the Father is also said of the Son, not as accruing to His Essence by grace or participation, but because the very Being of the Son is the proper Offspring of the Father's Essence, will fitly understand the words, as I said before, I in the Father, and the Father in Me;' and I and the Father are One .' For the Son is such as the Father is, because He has all that is the Father's. Wherefore also is He implied together with the Father. For, a son not being, one cannot say father; whereas when we call God a Maker, we do not of necessity intimate the things which have come to be; for a maker is before his works . But when we call God Father, at once with the Father we signify the Son's existence. Therefore also he who believes in the Son, believes also in the Father: for he believes in what is proper to the Father's Essence; and thus the faith is one in one God. And he who worships and honours the Son, in the Son worships and honours the Father; for one is the Godhead; and therefore one the honour and one the worship which is paid to the Father in and through the Son. And he who thus worships, worships one God; for there is one God and none other than He. Accordingly when the Father is called the only God, and we read that there is one God , and I am,' and beside Me there is no God,' and I the first and I the last ,' this has a fit meaning. For God is One and Only and First; but this is not said to the denial of the Son , perish the thought; for He is in that One, and First and Only, as being of that One and Only and First the Only Word and Wisdom and Radiance. And He too is the First, as the Fulness of the Godhead of the First and Only, being whole and full God . This then is not said on His account, but to deny that there is other such as the Father and His Word.

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