Objection is taken to the following passage: |Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.| To remove it, he shows first the impiety of the Arian explanation; then compares these words with others; and lastly, takes the whole passage into consideration. Hence he gathers that the mission of Christ, although it is to be received according to the flesh, is not to His detriment. When this is proved he shows how the divine mission takes place.
88. There are some, O Emperor Augustus, who in their desire to deny the unity of the divine Substance, strive to make little of the love of the Father and the Son, because it is written: |Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.| But when they say this, what else do they do but adopt a likeness of comparison between the Son of God and men?
89. Can men indeed be loved by God as the Son is, in Whom the Father is well-pleased? He is well-pleasing in Himself; we through Him. For those in whom God sees His own Son after His own likeness, He admits through His Son into the favour of sons. So that as we go through likeness unto likeness, so through the Generation of the Son are we called unto adoption. The eternal love of God's Nature is one thing, that of grace is another.
90. And if they start a debate on the words that are written: |And Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me,| and think a comparison is intended; they must think that the following also was said by way of comparison: |Be ye merciful, as your Father Which is in heaven is merciful;| and elsewhere: |Be ye perfect, as My Father Which is in heaven is perfect.| But if He is perfect in the fulness of His glory, we are but perfect according to the growth of virtue within us. The Son also is loved by the Father according to the fulness of a love that ever abideth, but in us growth in grace merits the love of God.
91. Thou seest, then, how God has given grace to men, and dost thou wish to dissever the natural and indivisible love of the Father and the Son? And dost thou still strive to make nothing of words, where thou dost note the mention of a unity of majesty?
92. Consider the whole of this passage, and see from what standpoint He speaks; for thou hearest Him saying: |Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.| See how He speaks from the standpoint of the first man. For He begs for us in that request those things which, as Man, He remembered were granted in paradise before the Fall, as also He spoke of it to the thief at His Passion: |Verily, verily, I say unto thee, today shalt thou be with Me in paradise.| This is the glory before the world was. But He used the word |world| instead |men,| as also thou hast it: |Lo! the whole world goeth after Him;| and again |That the world may know that Thou hast sent Me.|
93. But that thou mightest know the great God, even the life-giving and Almighty Son of God, He has added a proof of His majesty by saying: |And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine.| He has all things, and dost thou turn aside the fact that He was sent, to wrong Him?
94. But if thou dost not accept the truth of His mission according to the flesh, as the Apostle spoke of it, and dost raise out of a mere word a decision against it, to enable thee to say that inferiors are wont to be sent by superiors; what answer wilt thou give to the fact that the Son was sent to men? For if thou dost think that he who is sent is inferior to him by whom he is sent, thou must learn also that an inferior has sent a superior, and that superiors have been sent to inferiors. For Tobias sent Raphael the archangel, and an angel was sent to Balaam, and the Son of God to the Jews.
95. Or was the Son of God inferior to the Jews to whom He was sent? For of Him it is written: |Last of all He sent unto them His only Son, saying, They will reverence My Son.| And mark that He mentioned first the servants, then the Son, that thou mayest know that God, the only-begotten Son according to the power of His Godhead, has neither name nor lot in common with servants. He is sent forth to be reverenced, not to be compared with the household.
96. And rightly did He add the word |My,| that we might believe He came, not as one of many, nor as one of a lower nature or of some inferior power, but as true from Him that is true, as the Image of the Father's Substance.
97. Suppose, however, that he who is sent is inferior to him by whom he is sent. Christ then was inferior to Pilate; for Pilate sent Him to Herod. But a word does not prejudice His power. Scripture, which says that He was sent from the Father, says that He was sent from a ruler.
98. Wherefore, if we sensibly hold to those things which be worthy of the Son of God, we ought to understand Him to have been sent in such a way that the Word of God, out of the incomprehensible and ineffable mystery of the depths of His majesty, gave Himself for comprehension to our minds, so far as we could lay hold of Him, not only when He |emptied| Himself, but also when He dwelt in us, as it is written: |I will dwell in them.| Elsewhere also it stands that God said: |Go to, let us go down and confound their language.| God, indeed, never descends from any place; for He says: |I fill heaven and earth.| But He seems to descend when the Word of God enters our hearts, as the prophet has said: |Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.| We are to do this, so that, as He Himself promised, He may come together with the Father and make His abode with us. It is clear, then, how He comes.