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Select Works And Letters Or Athanasius by Athanasius

Chapter XXX.--Objections continued...

Chapter XXX. -- Objections continued, as in Chapters vii. -- x. Whether the Son is begotten of the Father's will? This virtually the same as whether once He was not? and used by the Arians to introduce the latter question. The Regula Fidei answers it at once in the negative by contrary texts. The Arians follow the Valentinians in maintaining a precedent will; which really is only exercised by God towards creatures. Instances from Scripture. Inconsistency of Asterius. If the Son by will, there must be another Word before Him. If God is good, or exist, by His will, then is the Son by His will. If He willed to have reason or wisdom, then is His Word and Wisdom at His will. The Son is the Living Will, and has all titles which denote connaturality. That will which the Father has to the Son, the Son has to the Father. The Father wills the Son and the Son wills the Father.

58. (continued). But , as it seems, a heretic is a wicked thing in truth, and in every respect his heart is depraved and irreligious. For behold, though convicted on all points, and shewn to be utterly bereft of understanding, they feel no shame; but as the hydra of Gentile fable, when its former serpents were destroyed, gave birth to fresh ones, contending against the slayer of the old by the production of new, so also they, hostile and hateful to God , as hydras , losing their life in the objections which they advance, invent for themselves other questions Judaic and foolish, and new expedients, as if Truth were their enemy, thereby to shew the rather that they are Christ's opponents in all things.

59. After so many proofs against them, at which even the devil who is their father had himself been abashed and gone back, again as from their perverse heart they mutter forth other expedients, sometimes in whispers, sometimes with the drone of gnats; Be it so,' say they; interpret these places thus, and gain the victory in reasonings and proofs; still you must say that the Son has received being from the Father at His will and pleasure;' for thus they deceive many, putting forward the will and the pleasure of God. Now if any of those who believe aright were to say this in simplicity, there would be no cause to be suspicious of the expression, the right intention prevailing over that somewhat simple use of words . But since the phrase is from the heretics and the words of heretics are suspicious, and, as it is written, The wicked are deceitful,' and The words of the wicked are deceit ,' even though they but make signs , for their heart is depraved, come let us examine this phrase also, lest, though convicted on all sides, still, as hydras, they invent a fresh word, and by such clever language and specious evasion, they sow again that irreligion of theirs in another way. For he who says, The Son came to be at the Divine will,' has the same meaning as another who says, Once He was not,' and The Son came to be out of nothing,' and He is a creature.' But since they are now ashamed of these phrases, these crafty ones have endeavoured to convey their meaning in another way, putting forth the word will,' as cuttlefish their blackness, thereby to blind the simple , and to keep in mind their peculiar heresy. For whence bring they by will and pleasure?' or from what Scripture? let them say, who are so suspicious in their words and so inventive of irreligion. For the Father who revealed from heaven His own Word, declared, This is My beloved Son;' and by David He said, My heart uttered a good Word;' and John He bade say, In the beginning was the Word;' and David says in the Psalm, With Thee is the well of life, and in Thy light shall we see light;' and the Apostle writes, Who being the Radiance of Glory,' and again, Who being in the form of God,' and, Who is the Image of the invisible God .'

60. All everywhere tell us of the being of the Word, but none of His being by will,' nor at all of His making; but they, where, I ask, did they find will or pleasure precedent ' to the Word of God, unless forsooth, leaving the Scriptures, they simulate the perverseness of Valentinus? For Ptolemy the Valentinian said that the Unoriginate had a pair of attributes, Thought and Will, and first He thought and then He willed; and what He thought, He could not put forth , unless when the power of the Will was added. Thence the Arians taking a lesson, wish will and pleasure to precede the Word. For them then, let them rival the doctrine of Valentinus; but we, when we read the divine discourses, found He was' applied to the Son, but of Him only did we hear as being in the Father and the Father's Image; while in the case of things originate only, since also by nature these things once were not, but afterwards came to be , did we recognise a precedent will and pleasure, David saying in the hundred and thirteenth Psalm, As for our God He is in heaven, He hath done whatsoever pleased Him,' and in the hundred and tenth, The works of the Lord are great, sought out unto all His good pleasure;' and again, in the hundred and thirty-fourth, Whatsoever the Lord pleased, that did He in heaven, and in earth, and in the sea, and in all deep places .' If then He be work and thing made, and one among others, let Him, as others, be said by will' to have come to be, and Scripture shews that these are thus brought into being. And Asterius, the advocate for the heresy, acquiesces, when he thus writes, For if it be unworthy of the Framer of all, to make at pleasure, let His being pleased be removed equally in the case of all, that His Majesty be preserved unimpaired. Or if it be befitting God to will, then let this better way obtain in the case of the first Offspring. For it is not possible that it should be fitting for one and the same God to make things at His pleasure, and not at His will also.' In spite of the Sophist having introduced abundant irreligion in his words, namely, that the Offspring and the thing made are the same, and that the Son is one offspring out of all offsprings that are, He ends with the conclusion that it is fitting to say that the works are by will and pleasure.

61. Therefore if He be other than all things, as has been above shewn , and through Him the works rather came to be, let not by will' be applied to Him, or He has similarly come to be as the things consist which through Him come to be. For Paul, whereas he was not before, became afterwards an Apostle by the will of God ;' and our own calling, as itself once not being, but now taking place afterwards, is preceded by will, and, as Paul himself says again, has been made according to the good pleasure of His will .' And what Moses relates, Let there be light,' and Let the earth appear,' and Let Us make man,' is, I think, according to what has gone before , significant of the will of the Agent. For things which once were not but happened afterwards from external causes, these the Framer counsels to make; but His own Word begotten from Him by nature, concerning Him He did not counsel beforehand; for in Him the Father makes, in Him frames, other things whatever He counsels; as also James the Apostle teaches, saying, Of His own will begat He us with the Word of truth .' Therefore the Will of God concerning all things, whether they be begotten again or are brought into being at the first, is in His Word, in whom He both makes and begets again what seems right to Him; as the Apostle again signifies, writing to Thessalonica; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.' But if, in whom He makes, in Him also is the will, and in Christ is the pleasure of the Father, how can He, as others, come into being by will and pleasure? For if He too came to be as you maintain, by will, it follows that the will concerning Him consists in some other Word, through whom He in turn comes to be; for it has been shewn that God's will is not in the things which He brings into being, but in Him through whom and in whom all things made are brought to be. Next, since it is all one to say By will' and Once He was not,' let them make up their minds to say, Once He was not,' that, perceiving with shame that times are signified by the latter, they may understand that to say by will' is to place times before the Son; for counselling goes before things which once were not, as in the case of all creatures. But if the Word is the Framer of the creatures, and He coexists with the Father, how can to counsel precede the Everlasting as if He were not? for if counsel precedes, how through Him are all things? For rather He too, as one among others is by will begotten to be a Son, as we too were made sons by the Word of Truth; and it rests, as was said, to seek another Word, through whom He too has come to be, and was begotten together with all things, which were according to God's pleasure.

62. If then there is another Word of God, then be the Son originated by a word; but if there be not, as is the case, but all things by Him have come to be, which the Father has willed, does not this expose the many-headed craftiness of these men? that feeling shame at saying work,' and creature,' and God's Word was not before His generation,' yet in another way they assert that He is a creature, putting forward will,' and saying, Unless He has by will come to be, therefore God had a Son by necessity and against His good pleasure.' And who is it then who imposes necessity on Him, O men most wicked, who draw everything to the purpose of your heresy? for what is contrary to will they see; but what is greater and transcends it has escaped their perception. For as what is beside purpose is contrary to will, so what is according to nature transcends and precedes counselling . A man by counsel builds a house, but by nature he begets a son; and what is in building began to come into being at will, and is external to the maker; but the son is proper offspring of the father's essence, and is not external to him; wherefore neither does he counsel concerning him, lest he appear to counsel about himself. As far then as the Son transcends the creature, by so much does what is by nature transcend the will . And they, on hearing of Him, ought not to measure by will what is by nature; forgetting however that they are hearing about God's Son, they dare to apply human contrarieties in the instance of God, necessity' and beside purpose,' to be able thereby to deny that there is a true Son of God. For let them tell us themselves, -- that God is good and merciful, does this attach to Him by will or not? if by will, we must consider that He began to be good, and that His not being good is possible; for to counsel and choose implies an inclination two ways, and is incidental to a rational nature. But if it be too unseemly that He should be called good and merciful upon will, then what they have said themselves must be retorted on them, -- therefore by necessity and not at His pleasure He is good;' and, who is it that imposes this necessity on Him?' But if it be unseemly to speak of necessity in the case of God, and therefore it is by nature that He is good, much more is He, and more truly, Father of the Son by nature and not by will.

63. Moreover let them answer us this: -- (for against their shamelessness I wish to urge a further question, bold indeed, but with a religious intent; be propitious, O Lord !) -- the Father Himself, does He exist, first having counselled, then being pleased, or before counselling? For since they are so bold in the instance of the Word, they must receive the like answer, that they may know that this their presumption reaches even to the Father Himself. If then they shall themselves take counsel about will, and say that even He is from will, what then was He before He counselled, or what gained He, as ye consider, after counselling? But if such a question be unseemly and self-destructive, and shocking even to ask (for it is enough only to hear God's Name for us to know and understand that He is He that Is), will it not also be against reason to have parallel thoughts concerning the Word of God, and to make pretences of will and pleasure? for it is enough in like manner only to hear the Name of the Word, to know and understand that He who is God not by will, has not by will but by nature His own Word. And does it not surpass all conceivable madness, to entertain the thought only, that God Himself counsels and considers and chooses and proceeds to have a good pleasure, that He be not without Word and without Wisdom, but have both? for He seems to be considering about Himself, who counsels about what is proper to His Essence. There being then much blasphemy in such a thought, it will be religious to say that things originate have come to be by favour and will,' but the Son is not a work of will, nor has come after , as the creation, but is by nature the own Offspring of God's Essence. For being the own Word of the Father, He allows us not to account of will as before Himself, since He is Himself the Father's Living Counsel , and Power, and Framer of the things which seemed good to the Father. And this is what He says of Himself in the Proverbs; Counsel is mine and security, mine is understanding, and mine strength .' For as, although Himself the Understanding,' in which He prepared the heavens, and Himself Strength and Power' (for Christ is God's Power and God's Wisdom' ), He here has altered the terms and said, Mine is understanding' and Mine strength,' so while He says, Mine is counsel,' He must Himself be the Living Counsel of the Father; as we have learned from the Prophet also, that He becomes the Angel of great Counsel ,' and was called the good pleasure of the Father; for thus we must refute them, using human illustrations concerning God.

64. Therefore if the works subsist by will and favour,' and the whole creature is made at God's good pleasure,' and Paul was called to be an Apostle by the will of God,' and our calling has come about by His good pleasure and will,' and all things have come into being through the Word, He is external to the things which have come to be by will, but rather is Himself the Living Counsel of the Father, by which all these things have come to be; by which David also gives thanks in the seventy-second Psalm. Thou hast holden me by my right hand; Thou shalt guide me with Thy Counsel .' How then can the Word, being the Counsel and Good Pleasure of the Father, come into being Himself by good pleasure and will,' like every one else? unless, as I said before, in their madness they repeat that He has come into being through Himself, or through some other . Who then is it through whom He has come to be? let them fashion another Word; and let them name another Christ, rivalling the doctrine of Valentinus ; for Scripture it is not. And though they fashion another, yet assuredly he too comes into being through some one; and so, while we are thus reckoning up and investigating the succession of them, the many-headed heresy of the Atheists is discovered to issue in polytheism and madness unlimited; in the which, wishing the Son to be a creature and from nothing, they imply the same thing in other words by pretending the words will and pleasure, which rightly belong to things originate and creatures. Is it not irreligious then to impute the characteristics of things originate to the Framer of all? and is it not blasphemous to say that will was in the Father before the Word? for if will precedes in the Father, the Son's words are not true, I in the Father;' or even if He is in the Father, yet He will hold but a second place, and it became Him not to say I in the Father,' since will was before Him, in which all things were brought into being and He Himself subsisted, as you hold. For though He excel in glory, He is not the less one of the things which by will come into being. And, as we have said before, if it be so, how is He Lord and they servants ? but He is Lord of all, because He is one with the Father's Lordship; and the creation is all in bondage, since it is external to the Oneness of the Father, and, whereas it once was not, was brought to be.

65. Moreover, if they say that the Son is by will, they should say also that He came to be by understanding; for I consider understanding and will to be the same. For what a man counsels, about that also he has understanding; and what he has in understanding, that also he counsels. Certainly the Saviour Himself has made them correspond, as being cognate, when He says, Counsel is mine and security; mine is understanding, and mine strength .' For as strength and security are the same (for they mean one attribute), so we may say that Understanding and Counsel are the same, which is the Lord. But these irreligious men are unwilling that the Son should be Word and Living Counsel; but they fable that there is with God , as if a habit , coming and going , after the manner of men, understanding, counsel, wisdom; and they leave nothing undone, and they put forward the Thought' and Will' of Valentinus, so that they may but separate the Son from the Father, and may call Him a creature instead of the proper Word of the Father. To them then must be said what was said to Simon Magus; the irreligion of Valentinus perish with you ;' and let every one rather trust to Solomon, who says, that the Word is Wisdom and Understanding. For he says, The Lord by Wisdom founded the earth, by Understanding He established the heavens.' And as here by Understanding, so in the Psalms, By the Word of the Lord were the heavens made.' And as by the Word the heavens, so He hath done whatsoever pleased Him.' And as the Apostle writes to Thessalonians, the will of God is in Christ Jesus .' The Son of God then, He is the Word' and the Wisdom;' He the Understanding' and the Living Counsel;' and in Him is the Good Pleasure of the Father;' He is Truth' and Light' and Power' of the Father. But if the Will of God is Wisdom and Understanding, and the Son is Wisdom, he who says that the Son is by will,' says virtually that Wisdom has come into being in wisdom, and the Son is made in a son, and the Word created through the Word ; which is incompatible with God and is opposed to His Scriptures. For the Apostle proclaims the Son to be the own Radiance and Expression, not of the Father's will , but of His Essence Itself, saying, Who being the Radiance of His glory and the Expression of His Subsistence .' But if, as we have said before, the Father's Essence and Subsistence be not from will, neither, as is very plain, is what is proper to the Father's Subsistence from will; for such as, and so as, that Blessed Subsistence, must also be the proper Offspring from It. And accordingly the Father Himself said not, This is the Son originated at My will,' nor the Son whom I have by My favour,' but simply My Son,' and more than that, in whom I am well pleased;' meaning by this, This is the Son by nature; and in Him is lodged My will about what pleases Me.'

66. Since then the Son is by nature and not by will, is He without the pleasure of the Father and not with the Father's will? No, verily; but the Son is with the pleasure of the Father, and, as He says Himself, The Father loveth the Son, and sheweth Him all things .' For as not from will' did He begin to be good, nor yet is good without will and pleasure (for what He is, that also is His pleasure), so also that the Son should be, though it came not from will,' yet it is not without His pleasure or against His purpose. For as His own Subsistence is by His pleasure, so also the Son, being proper to His Essence, is not without His pleasure. Be then the Son the object of the Father's pleasure and love; and thus let every one religiously account of the pleasure and the not-unwillingness of God. For by that good pleasure wherewith the Son is the object of the Father's pleasure, is the Father the object of the Son's love, pleasure, and honour; and one is the good pleasure which is from Father in Son, so that here too we may contemplate the Son in the Father and the Father in the Son. Let no one then, with Valentinus, introduce a precedent will; nor let any one, by this pretence of counsel,' intrude between the Only Father and the Only Word; for it were madness to place will and consideration between them. For it is one thing to say, Of will He came to be,' and another, that the Father has love and good pleasure towards His Son who is His own by nature. For to say, Of will He came to be,' in the first place implies that once He was not; and next it implies an inclination two ways, as has been said, so that one might suppose that the Father could even not will the Son. But to say of the Son, He might not have been,' is an irreligious presumption reaching even to the Essence of the Father, as if what is His own might not have been. For it is the same as saying, The Father might not have been good.' And as the Father is always good by nature, so He is always generative by nature; and to say, The Father's good pleasure is the Son,' and The Word's good pleasure is the Father,' implies, not a precedent will, but genuineness of nature, and propriety and likeness of Essence. For as in the case of the radiance and light one might say, that there is no will preceding radiance in the light, but it is its natural offspring, at the pleasure of the light which begat it, not by will and consideration, but in nature and truth, so also in the instance of the Father and the Son, one might rightly say, that the Father has love and good pleasure towards the Son, and the Son has love and good pleasure towards the Father.

67. Therefore call not the Son a work of good pleasure; nor bring in the doctrine of Valentinus into the Church; but be He the Living Counsel, and Offspring in truth and nature, as the Radiance from the Light. For thus has the Father spoken, My heart uttered a good Word;' and the Son conformably, I in the Father and the Father in Me .' But if the Word be in the heart, where is will? and if the Son in the Father, where is good pleasure? and if He be Will Himself, how is counsel in Will? it is unseemly; lest the Word come into being in a word, and the Son in a son, and Wisdom in a wisdom, as has been repeatedly said. For the Son is the Father's All; and nothing was in the Father before the Word; but in the Word is will also, and through Him the objects of will are carried into effect, as holy Scriptures have shewn. And I could wish that the irreligious men, having fallen into such want of reason as to be considering about will, would now ask their childbearing women no more, whom they used to ask, Hadst thou a son before conceiving him ?' but the father, Do ye become fathers by counsel, or by the natural law of your will?' or Are your children like your nature and essence ?' that, even from fathers they may learn shame, from whom they assumed this proposition about birth, and from whom they hoped to gain knowledge in point. For they will reply to them, What we beget, is like, not our good pleasure , but like ourselves; nor become we parents by previous counsel, but to beget is proper to our nature; since we too are images of our fathers.' Either then let them condemn themselves , and cease asking women about the Son of God, or let them learn from them, that the Son is begotten not by will, but in nature and truth. Becoming and suitable to them is a refutation from human instances , since the perverse-minded men dispute in a human way concerning the Godhead. Why then are Christ's enemies still mad? for this, as well as their other pretences, is shewn and proved to be mere fantasy and fable; and on this account, they ought, however late, contemplating the precipice of folly down which they have fallen, to rise again from the depth and to flee the snare of the devil, as we admonish them. For Truth is loving unto men and cries continually, If because of My clothing of the body ye believe Me not, yet believe the works, that ye may know that |I am 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 .|' But the Lord according to His wont is loving to man, and would fain help them that are fallen,' as the praise of David says; but the irreligious men, not desirous to hear the Lord's voice, nor bearing to see Him acknowledged by all as God and God's Son, go about, miserable men, as beetles, seeking with their father the devil pretexts for irreligion. What pretexts then, and whence will they be able next to find? unless they borrow blasphemies of Jews and Caiaphas, and take atheism from Gentiles? for the divine Scriptures are closed to them, and from every part of them they are refuted as insensate and Christ's enemies.

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