A Treatise Of Novatian Concerning The Trinity by Novatian
Chapter XVI. Argument.--Again from the Gospel He Proves Christ to Be God.
If Christ was only man, how is it that He Himself says, |And every one that believeth in me shall not die for evermore?| And yet he who believes in man by himself alone is called accursed; but he who believes on Christ is not accursed, but is said not to die for evermore. Whence, if on the one hand He is man only, as the heretics will have it, how shall not anybody who believes in Him die eternally, since he who trusts in man is held to be accursed? Or on the other, if he is not accursed, but rather, as it is read, destined for the attainment of everlasting life, Christ is not man only, but God also, in whom he who believes both lays aside all risk of curse, and attains to the fruit of righteousness. If Christ was only man, how does He say that the Paraclete |shall take of His, those things which He shall declare?| For neither does the Paraclete receive anything from man, but the Paraclete offers knowledge to man; nor does the Paraclete learn things future from man, but instructs man concerning futurity. Therefore either the Paraclete has not received from Christ, as man, what He should declare, since man could give nothing to the Paraclete, seeing that from Him man himself ought to receive, and Christ in the present instance is both mistaken and deceives, in saying that the Paraclete shall receive from Him, being a man, the things which He may declare; or He does not deceive us, -- as in fact He does not, -- and the Paraclete has received from Christ what He may declare. But if He has received from Christ what He may declare to us, Christ is greater than the Paraclete, because the Paraclete would not receive from Christ unless He were less than Christ. But the Paraclete being less than Christ, moreover, by this very fact proves Christ to be God, from whom He has received what He declares: so that the testimony of Christ's divinity is immense, in the Paraclete being found to be in this economy less than Christ, and taking from Him what He gives to others; seeing that if Christ were only man, Christ would receive from the Paraclete what He should say, not the Paraclete receive from Christ what He should declare. If Christ was only man, wherefore did He lay down for us such a rule of believing as that in which He said, |And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent?| Had He not wished that He also should be understood to be God, why did He add, |And Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent,| except because He wished to be received as God also? Because if He had not wished to be understood to be God, He would have added, |And the man Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent;| but, in fact, He neither added this, nor did Christ deliver Himself to us as man only, but associated Himself with God, as He wished to be understood by this conjunction to be God also, as He is. We must therefore believe, according to the rule prescribed, on the Lord, the one true God, and consequently on Him whom He has sent, Jesus Christ, who by no means, as we have said, would have linked Himself to the Father had He not wished to be understood to be God also: for He would have separated Himself from Him had He not wished to be understood to be God. He would have placed Himself among men only, had He known Himself to be only man; nor would He have linked Himself with God had He not known Himself to be God also. But in this case He is silent about His being man, because no one doubts His being man, and with reason links Himself to God, that He might establish the formula of His divinity for those who should believe. If Christ was only man, how does He say, |And now glorify me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was?| If, before the world was, He had glory with God, and maintained His glory with the Father, He existed before the world, for He would not have had the glory unless He Himself had existed before, so as to be able to keep the glory. For no one could possess anything, unless he himself should first be in existence to keep anything. But now Christ has the glory before the foundation of the world; therefore He Himself was before the foundation of the world. For unless He were before the foundation of the world, He could not have glory before the foundation of the world, since He Himself was not in existence. But indeed man could not have glory before the foundation of the world, seeing that he was after the world; but Christ had -- therefore He was before the world. Therefore He was not man only, seeing that He was before the world. He is therefore God, because He was before the world, and held His glory before the world. Neither let this be explained by predestination, since this is not so expressed, or let them add this who think so, but woe is denounced to them who add to, even as to those who take away from, that which is written. Therefore that may not be said, which may not be added. And thus, predestination being set aside, seeing it is not so laid down, Christ was in substance before the foundation of the world. For He is |the Word by which all things were made, and without which nothing was made.| Because even if He is said to be glorious in predestination, and that this predestination was before the foundation of the world, let order be maintained, and before Him a considerable number of men was destined to glory. For in respect of that destination, Christ will be perceived to be less than others if He is designated subsequent to them. For if this glory was in predestination, Christ received that predestination to glory last of all; for prior to Him Adam will be seen to have been predestinated, and Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and many others. For since with God the order of all, both persons and things, is arranged, many will be said to have been predestinated before this predestination of Christ to glory. And on these terms Christ is discovered to be inferior to other men, although He is really found to be better and greater, and more ancient than the angels themselves. Either, then, let all these things be set on one side, that Christ's divinity may be destroyed; or if these things cannot be set aside, let His proper divinity be attributed to Christ by the heretics.