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SermonIndex.net : Christian Books : Chapter IX. The objection that the Son, being sent by the Fatherà

Works And Letters Of St Ambrose by St. Ambrose

Chapter IX. The objection that the Son, being sent by the Fatherà

The objection that the Son, being sent by the Father, is, in that regard at least, inferior, is met by the answer that He was also sent by the Spirit, Who is yet not considered greater than the Son. Furthermore, the Spirit, in His turn, is sent by the Father to the Son, in order that Their unity in action might be shown forth. It is our duty, therefore, carefully to distinguish what utterances are to be fitly ascribed to Christ as God, and what to be ascribed to Him as man.

74. I have no fears in the matter of that commonly advanced objection, that Christ is inferior because He was sent. For even if He be inferior, yet this is not so proved; on the other hand, His equal title to honour is in truth proved. Since all honour the Son as they honour the Father, it is certain that the Son is not, in so far as being sent, inferior.

75. Regard not, therefore, the narrow bounds of human language, but the plain meaning of the words, and believe facts accomplished. Bethink you that our Lord Jesus Christ said in Isaiah that He had been sent by the Spirit. Is the Son, therefore, less than the Spirit because He was sent by the Spirit? Thus you have the record, that the Son declares Himself sent by the Father and His Spirit. |I am the beginning,| He saith, |and I live for ever, and My hand hath laid the foundations of the earth, My right hand hath made the heaven to stand abidingly;| and further on: |I have spoken, and I have called; I have brought him, and have made his way to prosper. Draw ye near to Me, and hear these things: not in secret have I spoken from the beginning. When they were made, I was there: and now hath the Lord and His Spirit sent Me.| Here, indeed, He Who made the heaven and the earth Himself saith that He is sent by the Lord and His Spirit. Ye see, then, that the poverty of language takes not from the honour of His mission. He, then, is sent by the Father; by the Spirit also is He sent.

76. And that you may gather that there is no separating difference of majesty, the Son in turn sends the Spirit, even as He Himself hath said: |But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send you from My Father -- the Spirit of truth, who cometh forth from My Father.| That this same Comforter is also to be sent by the Father He has already taught, saying, |But the Comforter, that Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name.| Behold their unity, inasmuch as whom God the Father sends, the Son sends also, and Whom the Father sends, the Spirit sends also. Else, if the Arians will not admit that the Son was sent, because we read that the Son is the right hand of the Father, then they themselves will confess with respect to the Father, what they deny concerning the Son, unless perchance they discover for themselves either another Father or another Son.

77. A truce, then, to vain wranglings over words, for the kingdom of God, as it is written, consisteth not in persuasive words, but in power plainly shown forth. Let us take heed to the distinction of the Godhead from the flesh. In each there speaks one and the same Son of God, for each nature is present in Him; yet while it is the same Person Who speaks, He speaks not always in the same manner. Behold in Him, now the glory of God, now the affections of man. As God He speaks the things of God, because He is the Word; as man He speaks the things of man, because He speaks in my nature.

78. |This is the living bread, which came down from heaven.| This bread is His flesh, even as He Himself said: |This bread which I will give is My flesh.| This is He Who came down from heaven, this is He Whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into this world. Even the letter itself teaches us that not the Godhead but the flesh needed sanctification, for the Lord Himself said, |And I sanctify Myself for them,| in order that thou mayest acknowledge that He is both sanctified in the flesh for us, and sanctifies by virtue of His Divinity.

79. This is the same One Whom the Father sent, but |born of a woman, born under the law,| as the Apostle hath said. This is He Who saith: |The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me; wherefore He hath anointed Me, to bring good tidings to the poor hath He sent Me:| This is He Who saith: |My doctrine is not Mine, but His, Who sent Me. If any man will do His will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of Myself.| Doctrine that is of God, then, is one thing; doctrine that is of man, another; and so when the Jews, regarding Him as man, called in question His teaching, and said, |How knoweth this man letters, having never learnt?| Jesus answered and said, |My doctrine is not Mine,| for, in teaching without elegance of letters, He seems to teach not as man, but rather as God, having not learned, but devised His doctrine.

80. For He hath found and devised all the way of discipline, as we read above, inasmuch as of the Son of God it hath been said: |This is our God, and none other shall be accounted of in comparison with Him, Who hath found all the way of discipline. After these things He was seen on earth, and conversed with men.| How, then, could He, as divine, not have His own doctrine -- He Who hath found all the way of discipline before He was seen on earth? Or how is He inferior, of Whom it is said, |None shall be accounted of in comparison with Him|? Surely He is entitled incomparable, in comparison of Whom none other can be accounted of -- yet so that He cannot be accounted of before the Father. Now if men suppose that the Father is spoken of, they shall not escape running into the blasphemy of Sabellius, of ascribing the assumption of human nature to the Father.

81. Let us proceed with what follows. |He who speaketh of himself, seeketh his own glory.| See the unity wherein Father and Son are plainly revealed. He who speaks cannot but be; yet that which He speaks cannot be solely from Him, for in Him all that is, is naturally derived from the Father.

82. What now is the meaning of the words |seeketh his own glory|? That is, not a glory in which the Father has no part -- for indeed the Word of God is His glory. Again, our Lord saith: |that they may see My glory.| But that glory of the Word is also the glory of the Father, even as it is written: |The Lord Jesus Christ is in the glory of God the Father.| In regard of His Godhead, therefore, the Son of God so hath His own glory, that the glory of Father and Son is one: He is not, therefore, inferior in splendour, for the glory is one, nor lower in Godhead, for the fulness of the Godhead is in Christ.

83. How, then, you ask, is it written, |Father, the hour is come; glorify Thy Son?| He Who saith these words needs to be glorified, say you. Thus far you have eyes to see; the remainder of the Scripture you have not read, for it proceeds: |that Thy Son may glorify Thee.| Hath ever the Father need of any, in that He is to be glorified by the Son?

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