We must look at the sense not the wording. The offence excited is at the sense; meaning of the Symbols; the question of their not being in Scripture. Those who hesitate only at coessential,' not to be considered Arians. Reasons why coessential' is better than like-in-essence,' yet the latter may be interpreted in a good sense. Explanation of the rejection of coessential' by the Council which condemned the Samosatene; use of the word by Dionysius of Alexandria; parallel variation in the use of Unoriginate; quotation from Ignatius and another; reasons for using coessential;' objections to it; examination of the word itself; further documents of the Council of Ariminum.
33. But since they are thus minded both towards each other and towards those who preceded them, proceed we to ascertain from them what absurdity they have seen, or what they complain of in the received phrases, that they have proved disobedient to parents' (Rom. i.30), and contend against an Ecumenical Council ? The phrases |of the essence| and |coessential,|' say they, do not please us, for they are an offence to some and a trouble to many.' This then is what they allege in their writings; but one may reasonably answer them thus: If the very words were by themselves a cause of offence to them, it must have followed, not that some only should have been offended, and many troubled, but that we also and all the rest should have been affected by them in the same way; but if on the contrary all men are well content with the words, and they who wrote them were no ordinary persons but men who came together from the whole world, and to these testify in addition the 400 Bishops and more who now met at Ariminum, does not this plainly prove against those who accuse the Council, that the terms are not in fault, but the perverseness of those who misinterpret them? How many men read divine Scripture wrongly, and as thus conceiving it, find fault with the Saints? such were the former Jews, who rejected the Lord, and the present Manichees who blaspheme the Law ; yet are not the Scriptures the cause to them, but their own evil humours. If then ye can shew the terms to be actually unsound, do so and let the proof proceed, and drop the pretence of offence created, lest you come into the condition of the Pharisees of old. For when they pretended offence at the Lord's teaching, He said, Every plant, which My heavenly Father hath not planted, shall be rooted up' (Matt. xv.13). By which He shewed that not the words of the Father planted by Him were really an offence to them, but that they misinterpreted what was well said, and offended themselves. And in like manner they who at that time blamed the Epistles of the Apostle, impeached, not Paul, but their own deficient learning and distorted minds.
34. For answer, what is much to the purpose, Who are they whom you pretend are offended and troubled at these terms? of those who are religious towards Christ not one; on the contrary they defend and maintain them. But if they are Arians who thus feel, what wonder they should be distressed at words which destroy their heresy? for it is not the terms which offend them, but the proscription of their irreligion which afflicts them. Therefore let us have no more murmuring against the Fathers, nor pretence of this kind; or next you will be making complaints of the Lord's Cross, because it is to Jews an offence and to Gentiles foolishness,' as said the Apostle (1 Cor. i.23, 24). But as the Cross is not faulty, for to us who believe it is Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God,' though Jews rave, so neither are the terms of the Fathers faulty, but profitable to those who honestly read, and subversive of all irreligion, though the Arians so often burst with rage as being condemned by them. Since then the pretence that persons are offended does not hold, tell us yourselves, why is it you are not pleased with the phrase of the essence' (this must first be enquired about), when you yourselves have written that the Son is generated from the Father? If when you name the Father, or use the word God,' you do not signify essence, or understand Him according to essence, who is that He is, but signify something else about Him , not to say inferior, then you should not have written that the Son was from the Father, but from what is about Him or in Him ; and so, shrinking from saying that God is truly Father, and making Him compound who is simple, in a material way, you will be authors of a newer blasphemy. And, with such ideas, you must needs consider the Word, and the title Son,' not as an essence but as a name only, and in consequence hold your own views as far as names only, and be talking, not of what you believe to exist, but of what you think not to exist.
35. But this is more like the crime of the Sadducees, and of those among the Greeks who had the name of Atheists. It follows that you will deny that even creation is the handy-work of God Himself that is; at least, if Father' and God' do not signify the very essence of Him that is, but something else, which you imagine: which is irreligious, and most shocking even to think of. But if, when we hear it said, I am that I am,' and, In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,' and, Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord,' and, Thus saith the Lord Almighty' (Ex. iii.14; Gen. i.1; Deut. vi.4), we understand nothing else than the very simple, and blessed, and incomprehensible essence itself of Him that is, (for though we be unable to master what He is, yet hearing Father,' and God,' and Almighty,' we understand nothing else to be meant than the very essence of Him that is ); and if ye too have said, that the Son is from God, it follows that you have said that He is from the essence' of the Father. And since the Scriptures precede you which say, that the Lord is Son of the Father, and the Father Himself precedes them, who says, This is My beloved Son' (Matt. iii.17), and a son is no other than the offspring from his father, is it not evident that the Fathers have suitably said that the Son is from the Father's essence? considering that it is all one to say rightly from God,' and to say from the essence.' For all the creatures, though they be said to have come into being from God, yet are not from God as the Son is; for they are not offsprings in their nature, but works. Thus, it is said, in the beginning God,' not generated,' but made the heaven and the earth, and all that is in them' (Gen. i.1). And not, who generates,' but who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flame of fire' (Ps. civ.4). And though the Apostle has said, One God, from whom all things' (1 Cor. viii.6), yet he says not this, as reckoning the Son with other things; but, whereas some of the Greeks consider that the creation was held together by chance, and from the combination of atoms ; and spontaneously from elements of similar structure , and has no cause; and others consider that it came from a cause, but not through the Word; and each heretic has imagined things at his will, and tells his fables about the creation; on this account the Apostle was obliged to introduce from God,' that he might thereby certify the Maker, and shew that the universe was framed at His will. And accordingly he straightway proceeds: And one Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things' (1 Cor. viii.6), by way of excepting the Son from that all' (for what is called God's work, is all done through the Son; and it is not possible that the things framed should have one origin with their Framer), and by way of teaching that the phrase of God,' which occurs in the passage, has a different sense in the case of the works, from what it bears when used of the Son; for He is offspring, and they are works: and therefore He, the Son, is the proper offspring of His essence, but they are the handywork of his will.
36. The Council, then, comprehending this , and aware of the different senses of the same word, that none should suppose, that the Son was said to be from God' like the creation, wrote with greater explicitness, that the Son was from the essence.' For this betokens the true genuineness of the Son towards the Father; whereas, by the simple phrase from God,' only the Creator's will in framing is signified. If then they too had this meaning, when they wrote that the Word was from the Father,' they had nothing to complain of in the Council; but if they meant of God,' in the instance of the Son, as it is used of the creation, then as understanding it of the creation, they should not name the Son, or they will be manifestly mingling blasphemy with religiousness; but either they have to cease reckoning the Lord with the creatures, or at least to refrain from unworthy and unbecoming statements about the Son. For if He is a Son, He is not a creature; but if a creature, then not a Son. Since these are their views, perhaps they will be denying the Holy Laver also, because it is administered into Father and into Son and not into Creator and Creature, as they account it. But,' they say, all this is not written: and we reject these words as unscriptural.' But this, again, is an unblushing excuse in their mouths. For if they think everything must be rejected which is not written, wherefore, when the Arian party invent such a heap of phrases, not from Scripture , Out of nothing,' and the Son was not before His generation,' and Once He was not,' and He is alterable,' and the Father is ineffable and invisible to the Son,' and the Son knows not even His own essence;' and all that Arius has vomited in his light and irreligious Thalia, why do not they speak against these, but rather take their part, and on that account contend with their own Fathers? And, in what Scripture did they on their part find Unoriginate,' and the term essence,' and there are three subsistences,' and Christ is not very God,' and He is one of the hundred sheep,' and God's Wisdom is ingenerate and without beginning, but the created powers are many, of which Christ is one?' Or how, when in the so-called Dedication, Acacius and Eusebius and their fellows used expressions not in Scripture, and said that the First-born of the creation' was the exact Image of the essence and power and will and glory,' do they complain of the Fathers, for making mention of unscriptural expressions, and especially of essence? For they ought either to complain of themselves, or to find no fault with the Fathers.
37. Now, if certain others made excuses of the expressions of the Council, it might perhaps have been set down, either to ignorance or to caution. There is no question, for instance, about George of Cappadocia , who was expelled from Alexandria; a man, without character in years past, nor a Christian in any respect; but only pretending to the name to suit the times, and thinking religion to be a' means of gain' (1 Tim. vi.5). And therefore there is no reason to complain of his making mistakes about the faith, considering he knows neither what he says, nor whereof he affirms; but, according to the text, goeth after all, as a bird' (1 Tim. i.7; Prov. vii.22, 23, not LXX.?) But when Acacius, and Eudoxius, and Patrophilus say this, do not they deserve the strongest reprobation? for while they write what is unscriptural themselves, and have accepted many times the term essence' as suitable, especially on the ground of the letter of Eusebius, they now blame their predecessors for using terms of the same kind. Nay, though they say themselves, that the Son is God from God,' and Living Word,' Exact Image of the Father's essence;' they accuse the Nicene Bishops of saying, that He who was begotten is of the essence' of Him who begat Him, and Coessential' with Him. But what marvel if they conflict with their predecessors and their own Fathers, when they are inconsistent with themselves, and fall foul of each other? For after publishing, in the so-called Dedication at Antioch, that the Son is exact Image of the Father's essence, and swearing that so they held and anathematizing those who held otherwise, nay, in Isauria, writing down, We do not decline the authentic faith published in the Dedication at Antioch ,' where the term essence' was introduced, as if forgetting all this, shortly after, in the same Isauria, they put into writing the very contrary, saying, We reject the words coessential,' and like-in-essence,' as alien to the Scriptures, and abolish the term essence,' as not contained therein .
38. Can we then any more account such men Christians? or what sort of faith have they who stand neither to word nor writing, but alter and change every thing according to the times? For if, O Acacius and Eudoxius, you do not decline the faith published at the Dedication,' and in it is written that the Son is Exact Image of God's essence,' why is it ye write in Isauria, we reject the Like in essence?' for if the Son is not like the Father according to essence, how is He exact image of the essence?' But if you are dissatisfied at having written Exact Image of the essence,' how is it that ye anathematize those who say that the Son is Unlike?' for if He be not according to essence like, He is surely unlike: and the Unlike cannot be an Image. And if so, then it does not hold that he that hath seen the Son, hath seen the Father' (John xiv.9), there being then the greatest possible difference between Them, or rather the One being wholly Unlike the Other. And Unlike cannot possibly be called Like. By what artifice then do you call Unlike like, and consider Like to be unlike, and pretend to say that the Son is the Father's Image? for if the Son be not like the Father in essence, something is wanting to the Image, and it is not a complete Image, nor a perfect radiance . How then read you, In Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily?' and, from His fulness all we received' (Coloss. ii.9; John i.16)? how is it that you expel the Arian Aetius as an heretic, though ye say the same with him? for he is your companion, O Acacius, and he became Eudoxius's master in this so great irreligion ; which was the reason why Leontius the Bishop made him deacon, that using the name of the diaconate as sheep's clothing, he might be able with impunity to pour forth the words of blasphemy.
39. What then has persuaded you to contradict each other, and to procure to yourselves so great a disgrace? You cannot give any good account of it; this supposition only remains, that all you do is but outward profession and pretence, to secure the patronage of Constantius and the gain from thence accruing. And ye make nothing of accusing the Fathers, and ye complain outright of the expressions as being unscriptural; and, as it is written, opened your legs to every one that passed by' (Ez. xvi.25); so as to change as often as they wish, in whose pay and keep you are. Yet, though a man use terms not in Scripture, it makes no difference so that his meaning be religious . But the heretic, though he use scriptural terms, yet, as being equally dangerous and depraved, shall be asked in the words of the Spirit, Why dost thou preach My laws, and takest My covenant in thy mouth' (Ps. l.16)? Thus whereas the devil, though speaking from the Scriptures, is silenced by the Saviour, the blessed Paul, though he speaks from profane writers, The Cretans are always liars,' and, For we are His offspring,' and, Evil communications corrupt good manners,' yet has a religious meaning, as being holy, -- is doctor of the nations, in faith and verity,' as having the mind of Christ' (Tit. i.12; Acts xvii.28; 1 Cor. xv.33; 1 Tim. ii.7; 1 Cor. ii.16), and what he speaks, he utters religiously. What then is there even plausible, in the Arian terms, in which the caterpillar' (Joel ii.25) and the locust' are preferred to the Saviour, and He is reviled with Once Thou wast not,' and Thou wast created,' and Thou art foreign to God in essence,' and, in a word, no irreverence is unused among them? But what did the Fathers omit in the way of reverence? or rather, have they not a lofty view and a Christ-loving religiousness? And yet these, they wrote, We reject;' while those others they endure in their insults towards the Lord, and betray to all men, that for no other cause do they resist that great Council but that it condemned the Arian heresy. For it is on this account again that they speak against the term Coessential, about which they also entertain wrong sentiments. For if their faith was right, and they confessed the Father as truly Father, believed the Son to be genuine Son, and by nature true Word and Wisdom of the Father, and as to saying that the Son is from God,' if they did not use the words of Him, as of themselves, but understood Him to be the proper offspring of the Father's essence, as the radiance is from light, they would not every one of them have found fault with the Fathers; but would have been confident that the Council wrote suitably; and that this is the right faith concerning our Lord Jesus Christ.
40. But,' say they, the sense of such expressions is obscure to us;' for this is another of their pretences, -- We reject them ,' say they, because we cannot master their meaning.' But if they were true in this profession, instead of saying, We reject them,' they should ask instruction from the well informed; else ought they to reject whatever they cannot understand in divine Scripture, and to find fault with the writers. But this were the venture of heretics rather than of us Christians; for what we do not understand in the sacred oracles, instead of rejecting, we seek from persons to whom the Lord has revealed it, and from them we ask for instruction. But since they thus make a pretence of the obscurity of such expressions, let them at least confess what is annexed to the Creed, and anathematize those who hold that the Son is from nothing,' and He was not before His generation,' and the Word of God is a creature and work,' and He is alterable by nature,' and from another subsistence;' and in a word let them anathematize the Arian heresy, which has originated such irreligion. Nor let them say any more, We reject the terms,' but that we do not yet understand them;' by way of having some reason to shew for declining them. But I know well, and am sure, and they know it too, that if they could confess all this and anathematize the Arian heresy, they would no longer deny those terms of the Council. For on this account it was that the Fathers, after declaring that the Son was begotten from the Father's essence, and Co-essential with Him, thereupon added, But those who say' -- what has just been quoted, the symbols of the Arian heresy, -- we anathematize;' I mean, in order to shew that the statements are parallel, and that the terms in the Creed imply the disclaimers subjoined, and that all who confess the terms, will certainly understand the disclaimers. But those who both dissent from the latter and impugn the former, such men are proved on every side to be foes of Christ.
41. Those who deny the Council altogether, are sufficiently exposed by these brief remarks; those, however, who accept everything else that was defined at Nicæa, and doubt only about the Coessential, must not be treated as enemies; nor do we here attack them as Ario-maniacs, nor as opponents of the Fathers, but we discuss the matter with them as brothers with brothers , who mean what we mean, and dispute only about the word. For, confessing that the Son is from the essence of the Father, and not from other subsistence, and that He is not a creature nor work, but His genuine and natural offspring, and that He is eternally with the Father as being His Word and Wisdom, they are not far from accepting even the phrase, Coessential.' Now such is Basil, who wrote from Ancyra concerning the faith . For only to say like according to essence,' is very far from signifying of the essence,' by which, rather, as they say themselves, the genuineness of the Son to the Father is signified. Thus tin is only like to silver, a wolf to a dog, and gilt brass to the true metal; but tin is not from silver, nor could a wolf be accounted the offspring of a dog. But since they say that He is of the essence' and Like-in-essence,' what do they signify by these but Coessential ?' For, while to say only Like-in-essence,' does not necessarily convey of the essence,' on the contrary, to say Coessential,' is to signify the meaning of both terms, Like-in-essence,' and of the essence.' And accordingly they themselves in controversy with those who say that the Word is a creature, instead of allowing Him to be genuine Son, have taken their proofs against them from human illustrations of son and father , with this exception that God is not as man, nor the generation of the Son as issue of man, but such as may be ascribed to God, and is fit for us to think. Thus they have called the Father the Fount of Wisdom and Life, and the Son the Radiance of the Eternal Light, and the Offspring from the Fountain, as He says, I am the Life,' and, I Wisdom dwell with Prudence' (John xiv.6; Prov. viii.12). But the Radiance from the Light, and Offspring from Fountain, and Son from Father, how can these be so fitly expressed as by Coessential?' And is there any cause of fear, lest, because the offspring from men are coessential, the Son, by being called Coessential, be Himself considered as a human offspring too? perish the thought! not so; but the explanation is easy. For the Son is the Father's Word and Wisdom; whence we learn the impassibility and indivisibility of such a generation from the Father . For not even man's word is part of him, nor proceeds from him according to passion ; much less God's Word; whom the Father has declared to be His own Son, lest, on the other hand, if we merely heard of Word,' we should suppose Him, such as is the word of man, impersonal; but that, hearing that He is Son, we may acknowledge Him to be living Word and substantive Wisdom.
42. Accordingly, as in saying offspring,' we have no human thoughts, and, though we know God to be a Father, we entertain no material ideas concerning Him, but while we listen to these illustrations and terms, we think suitably of God, for He is not as man, so in like manner, when we hear of coessential,' we ought to transcend all sense, and, according to the Proverb, understand by the understanding what is set before us' (Prov. xxiii.1); so as to know, that not by will, but in truth, is He genuine from the Father, as Life from Fountain, and Radiance from Light. Else why should we understand offspring' and son,' in no corporeal way, while we conceive of coessential' as after the manner of bodies? especially since these terms are not here used about different subjects, but of whom offspring' is predicated, of Him is coessential' also. And it is but consistent to attach the same sense to both expressions as applied to the Saviour, and not to interpret offspring' in a good sense, and coessential' otherwise; since to be consistent, ye who are thus minded and who say that the Son is Word and Wisdom of the Father, should entertain a different view of these terms also, and understand Word in another sense, and Wisdom in yet another. But, as this would be absurd (for the Son is the Father's Word and Wisdom, and the Offspring from the Father is one and proper to His essence), so the sense of Offspring' and Coessential' is one, and whoso considers the Son an offspring, rightly considers Him also as coessential.'
43. This is sufficient to shew that the meaning of the beloved ones is not foreign nor far from the Coessential.' But since, as they allege (for I have not the Epistle in question), the Bishops who condemned the Samosatene have said in writing that the Son is not coessential with the Father, and so it comes to pass that they, for caution and honour towards those who have so said, thus feel about that expression, it will be to the purpose cautiously to argue with them this point also. Certainly it is unbecoming to make the one conflict with the others; for all are fathers; nor is it religious to settle, that these have spoken well, and those ill; for all of them fell asleep in Christ. Nor is it right to be disputatious, and to compare the respective numbers of those who met in the Councils, lest the three hundred seem to throw the lesser into the shade; nor to compare the dates, lest those who preceded seem to eclipse those that came after. For all, I say, are fathers; and yet not even the three hundred laid down nothing new, nor was it in any self-confidence that they became champions of words not in Scripture, but they fell back upon fathers, as did the others, and used their words. For there have been two of the name of Dionysius, much older than the seventy who deposed the Samosatene, of whom one was of Rome, and the other of Alexandria. But a charge had been laid by some persons against the Bishop of Alexandria before the Bishop of Rome, as if he had said that the Son was made, and not coessential with the Father. And, the synod at Rome being indignant, the Bishop of Rome expressed their united sentiments in a letter to his namesake. And so the latter, in defence, wrote a book with the title of Refutation and Defence;' and thus he writes to the other:
44. And I wrote in another Letter a refutation of the false charge which they bring against me, that I deny that Christ is coessential with God. For though I say that I have not found or read this term anywhere in holy Scripture, yet my remarks which follow, and which they have not noticed, are not inconsistent with that belief. For I instanced a human production, which is evidently homogeneous, and I observed that undeniably fathers differed from their children, only in not being the same individuals; otherwise there could be neither parents nor children. And my Letter, as I said before, owing to present circumstances, I am unable to produce, or I would have sent you the very words I used, or rather a copy of it all; which, if I have an opportunity, I will do still. But I am sure from recollection, that I adduced many parallels of things kindred with each other, for instance, that a plant grown from seed or from root, was other than that from which it sprang, and yet altogether one in nature with it; and that a stream flowing from a fountain, changed its appearance and its name, for that neither the fountain was called stream, nor the stream fountain, but both existed, and that the fountain was as it were father, but the stream was what was generated from the fountain.
45. Thus the Bishop. If then any one finds fault with those who met at Nicæa, as if they contradicted the decisions of their predecessors, he might reasonably find fault also with the seventy, because they did not keep to the statements of their own predecessors; but such were the Dionysii and the Bishops assembled on that occasion at Rome. But neither these nor those is it pious to blame; for all were charged with the embassy of Christ, and all have given diligence against the heretics, and the one party condemned the Samosatene, while the other condemned the Arian heresy. And rightly have both these and those written, and suitably to the matter in hand. And as the blessed Apostle, writing to the Romans, said, The Law is spiritual, the Law is holy, and the commandment holy and just and good' (Rom. vii.14, 12); and soon after, What the Law could not do, in that it was weak' (ib. viii.3), but wrote to the Hebrews, The Law has made no one perfect' (Heb. vii.19); and to the Galatians, By the Law no one is justified' (Gal. iii.11), but to Timothy, The Law is good, if a man use it lawfully' (1 Tim. i.8); and no one would accuse the Saint of inconsistency and variation in writing, but rather would admire how suitably he wrote to each, to teach the Romans and the others to turn from the letter to the spirit, but to instruct the Hebrews and Galatians to place their hopes, not in the Law, but in the Lord who had given the Law; -- so, if the Fathers of the two Councils made different mention of the Coessential, we ought not in any respect to differ from them, but to investigate their meaning, and this will fully show us the agreement of both the Councils. For they who deposed the Samosatene took Coessential in a bodily sense, because Paul had attempted sophistry and said, Unless Christ has of man become God, it follows that He is Coessential with the Father; and if so, of necessity there are three essences, one the previous essence, and the other two from it;' and therefore guarding against this they said with good reason, that Christ was not Coessential . For the Son is not related to the Father as he imagined. But the Bishops who anathematized the Arian heresy, understanding Paul's craft, and reflecting that the word Coessential' has not this meaning when used of things immaterial , and especially of God, and acknowledging that the Word was not a creature, but an offspring from the essence, and that the Father's essence was the origin and root and fountain of the Son, and that he was of very truth His Father's likeness, and not of different nature, as we are, and separate from the Father, but that, as being from Him, He exists as Son indivisible, as radiance is with respect to Light, and knowing too the illustrations used in Dionysius's case, the fountain,' and the defence of Coessential' and before this the Saviour's saying, symbolical of unity , I and the Father are one' and he that hath seen Me hath seen the Father' (John x.30; xiv.9), on these grounds reasonably asserted on their part, that the Son was Coessential. And as, according to a former remark, no one would blame the Apostle, if he wrote to the Romans about the Law in one way, and to the Hebrews in another; in like manner, neither would the present Bishops find fault with the ancient, having regard to their interpretation, nor again in view of theirs and of the need of their so writing about the Lord, would the ancient censure their successors. Yes surely, each Council has a sufficient reason for its own language; for since the Samosatene held that the Son was not before Mary, but received from her the origin of His being, therefore those who then met deposed him and pronounced him heretic; but concerning the Son's Godhead writing in simplicity, they arrived not at accuracy concerning the Coessential, but, as they understood the word, so spoke they about it. For they directed all their thoughts to destroy the device of the Samosatene, and to shew that the Son was before all things, and that, instead of becoming God from man, He, being God, had put on a servant's form, and being Word, had become flesh, as John says (Phil. ii.7; Joh. i.14). This is how they dealt with the blasphemies of Paul; but when Eusebius, Arius, and their fellows said that though the Son was before time, yet was He made and one of the creatures, and as to the phrase from God,' they did not believe it in the sense of His being genuine Son from Father, but maintained it as it is said of the creatures, and as to the oneness of likeness between the Son and the Father, did not confess that the Son is like the Father according to essence, or according to nature as a son resembles his father, but because of Their agreement of doctrines and of teaching ; nay, when they drew a line and an utter distinction between the Son's essence and the Father, ascribing to Him an origin of being, other than the Father, and degrading Him to the creatures, on this account the Bishops assembled at Nicæa, with a view to the craft of the parties so thinking, and as bringing together the sense from the Scriptures, cleared up the point, by affirming the Coessential;' that both the true genuineness of the Son might thereby be known, and that to things originate might be ascribed nothing in common with Him. For the precision of this phrase detects their pretence, whenever they use the phrase from God,' and gets rid of all the subtleties with which they seduce the simple. For whereas they contrive to put a sophistical construction on all other words at their will, this phrase only, as detecting their heresy, do they dread; which the Fathers set down as a bulwark against their irreligious notions one and all.
46. Let then all contention cease, nor let us any longer conflict, though the Councils have differently taken the phrase Coessential,' for we have already assigned a sufficient defence of them; and to it the following may be added: -- We have not derived the word Unoriginate' from Scripture, (for no where does Scripture call God Unoriginate,) yet since it has many authorities in its favour, I was curious about the term, and found that it too has different senses . Some, for instance, call what is, but is neither generated, nor has any personal cause at all, unoriginate; and others, the uncreate. As then a person, having in view the former of these senses, viz. that which has no personal cause,' might say that the Son was not unoriginate, yet would not blame any one whom he perceived to have in view the other meaning, not a work or creature but an eternal offspring,' and to affirm accordingly that the Son was unoriginate, (for both speak suitably with a view to their own object); so, even granting that the Fathers have spoken variously concerning the Coessential, let us not dispute about it, but take what they deliver to us in a religious way, when especially their anxiety was directed in behalf of religion.
47. Ignatius, for instance, who was appointed Bishop in Antioch after the Apostles, and became a martyr of Christ, writes concerning the Lord thus: There is one physician, fleshly and spiritual, originate and unoriginate ,' God in man, true life in death, both from Mary and from God;' whereas some teachers who followed Ignatius, write in their turn, One is the Unoriginate, the Father, and one the genuine Son from Him, true offspring, Word and Wisdom of the Father .' If therefore we have hostile feelings towards these writers, then have we right to quarrel with the Councils; but if, knowing their faith in Christ, we are persuaded that the blessed Ignatius was right in writing that Christ was originate on account of the flesh (for He became flesh), yet unoriginate, because He is not in the number of things made and originated, but Son from Father; and if we are aware too that those who have said that the Unoriginate is One, meaning the Father, did not mean to lay down that the Word was originated and made, but that the Father has no personal cause, but rather is Himself Father of Wisdom, and in Wisdom has made all things that are originated; why do we not combine all our Fathers in religious belief, those who deposed the Samosatene as well as those who proscribed the Arian heresy, instead of making distinctions between them and refusing to entertain a right opinion of them? I repeat, that those, in view of the sophistical explanation of the Samosatene, wrote, He is not coessential ;' and these, with an apposite meaning, said that He was. For myself, I have written these brief remarks, from my feeling towards persons who were religious to Christ-ward; but were it possible to come by the Epistle which we are told that the former wrote, I consider we should find further grounds for the aforesaid proceeding of those blessed men. For it is right and meet thus to feel, and to maintain a good conscience toward the Fathers, if we be not spurious children, but have received the traditions from them, and the lessons of religion at their hands.
48. Such then, as we confess and believe, being the sense of the Fathers, proceed we even in their company to examine once more the matter, calmly and with a kindly sympathy, with reference to what has been said before, viz. whether the Bishops collected at Nicæa do not really prove to have thought aright. For if the Word be a work and foreign to the Father's essence, so that He is separated from the Father by the difference of nature, He cannot be one in essence with Him, but rather He is homogeneous by nature with the works, though He surpass them in grace . On the other hand, if we confess that He is not a work but the genuine offspring of the Father's essence, it would follow that He is inseparable from the Father, being connatural, because He is begotten from Him. And being such, good reason He should be called Coessential. Next, if the Son be not such from participation, but is in His essence the Father's Word and Wisdom, and this essence is the offspring of the Father's essence , and its likeness as the radiance is of the light, and the Son says, I and the Father are One,' and, he that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father' (John x.30; xiv.9), how must we understand these words? or how shall we so explain them as to preserve the oneness of the Father and the Son? Now as to its consisting in agreement of doctrines, and in the Son's not disagreeing with the Father, as the Arians say, such an interpretation is a sorry one; for both the Saints, and still more Angels and Archangels, have such an agreement with God, and there is no disagreement among them. For he who disagreed, the devil, was beheld to fall from the heavens, as the Lord said. Therefore if by reason of agreement the Father and the Son are one, there would be things originated which had this agreement with God, and each of these might say, I and the Father are One.' But if this be absurd, and so it truly is, it follows of necessity that we must conceive of Son's and Father's oneness in the way of essence. For things originate, though they have an agreement with their Maker, yet possess it only by influence , and by participation, and through the mind; the transgression of which forfeits heaven. But the Son, being an offspring from the essence, is one by essence, Himself and the Father that begat Him.
49. This is why He has equality with the Father by titles expressive of unity , and what is said of the Father, is said in Scripture of the Son also, all but His being called Father . For the Son Himself said, All things that the Father hath are Mine' (John xvi.15); and He says to the Father, All Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine' (John xvii.10), -- as for instance , the name God; for the Word was God;' -- Almighty, Thus saith He that is, and that was, and that is to come, the Almighty' (John i.1; Apoc. i.8): -- the being Light, I am,' He says, the Light' (John viii.12): -- the Operative Cause, All things were made by Him,' and, whatsoever I see the Father do, I do also' (John i.3; v.19): -- the being Everlasting, His eternal power and godhead,' and, In the beginning was the Word,' and, He was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world;' -- the being Lord, for, The Lord rained fire and brimstone from the Lord,' and the Father says, I am the Lord,' and, Thus saith the Lord, the Almighty God;' and of the Son Paul speaks thus, One Lord Jesus Christ, through whom all things' (Rom. i.20; John i.1, 9; Gen. xix.24; Isa. xlv.5; Am. v.16; 1 Cor. viii.6). And on the Father Angels wait, and again the Son too is worshipped by them, And let all the Angels of God worship Him;' and He is said to be Lord of Angels, for the Angels ministered unto Him,' and the Son of Man shall send His Angels.' The being honoured as the Father, for that they may honour the Son,' He says, as they honour the Father;' -- being equal to God, He counted it not a prize to be equal with God' (Heb. i.6; Matt. iv.11; xxiv.31; John v.23; Phil. ii.6): -- the being Truth from the True, and Life from the Living, as being truly from the Fountain, even the Father; -- the quickening and raising the dead as the Father, for so it is written in the Gospel. And of the Father it is written, The Lord thy God is One Lord,' and, The God of gods, the Lord, hath spoken, and hath called the earth;' and of the Son, The Lord God hath shined upon us,' and, The God of gods shall be seen in Sion.' And again of God, Isaiah says, Who is a God like unto Thee, taking away iniquities and passing over unrighteousness?' (Deut. vi.4; Ps. l.1; cxviii.27; lxxxiv.7, LXX.; Mic. vii.18). But the Son said to whom He would, Thy sins are forgiven thee;' for instance, when, on the Jews murmuring, He manifested the remission by His act, saying to the paralytic, Rise, take up thy bed, and go unto thy house.' And of God Paul says, To the King eternal;' and again of the Son, David in the Psalm, Lift up your gates, O ye rulers, and be ye lift up ye everlasting doors, and the King of glory shall come in.' And Daniel heard it said, His Kingdom is an everlasting Kingdom, and His Kingdom shall not be destroyed' (Matt. ix.5; Mark ii.11; 1 Tim. i.17; Ps. xxiv.7; Dan. iv.3; vii.14). And in a word, all that you find said of the Father, so much will you find said of the Son, all but His being Father, as has been said.
50. If then any think of other beginning, and other Father, considering the equality of these attributes, it is a mad thought. But if, since the Son is from the Father, all that is the Father's is the Son's as in an image and Expression, let it be considered dispassionately, whether an essence foreign from the Father's essence admit of such attributes; and whether such a one be other in nature and alien in essence, and not coessential with the Father. For we must take reverent heed, lest transferring what is proper to the Father to what is unlike Him in essence, and expressing the Father's godhead by what is unlike in kind and alien in essence, we introduce another essence foreign to Him, yet capable of the properties of the first essence , and lest we be silenced by God Himself, saying, My glory I will not give to another,' and be discovered worshipping this alien God, and be accounted such as were the Jews of that day, who said, Wherefore dost Thou, being a man, make Thyself God?' referring, the while, to another source the things of the Spirit, and blasphemously saying, He casteth out devils through Beelzebub' (Isa. xlii.8; John x.33; Luke xi.15). But if this is shocking, plainly the Son is not unlike in essence, but coessential with the Father; for if what the Father has is by nature the Son's, and the Son Himself is from the Father, and because of this oneness of godhead and of nature He and the Father are one, and He that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father, reasonably is He called by the Fathers Coessential;' for to what is other in essence, it belongs not to possess such prerogatives.
51. And again, if, as we have said before, the Son is not such by participation, but, while all things originated have by participation the grace of God, He is the Father's Wisdom and Word of which all things partake , it follows that He, being the deifying and enlightening power of the Father, in which all things are deified and quickened, is not alien in essence from the Father, but coessential. For by partaking of Him, we partake of the Father; because that the Word is the Father's own. Whence, if He was Himself too from participation, and not from the Father His essential Godhead and Image, He would not deify , being deified Himself. For it is not possible that He, who merely possesses from participation, should impart of that partaking to others, since what He has is not His own, but the Giver's; and what He has received, is barely the grace sufficient for Himself. However, let us fairly examine the reason why some, as is said, decline the Coessential,' whether it does not rather shew that the Son is coessential with the Father. They say then, as you have written, that it is not right to say that the Son is coessential with the Father, because he who speaks of coessential' speaks of three, one essence pre-existing, and that those who are generated from it are coessential: and they add, If then the Son be coessential with the Father, then an essence must be previously supposed, from which they have been generated; and that the One is not Father and the Other Son, but they are brothers together. ' As to all this, though it be a Greek interpretation, and what comes from them does not bind us , still let us see whether those things which are called coessential and are collateral, as derived from one essence presupposed, are coessential with each other, or with the essence from which they are generated. For if only with each other, then are they other in essence and unlike, when referred to that essence which generated them; for other in essence is opposed to coessential; but if each be coessential with the essence which generated them, it is thereby confessed that what is generated from any thing, is coessential with that which generated it; and there is no need of seeking for three essences, but merely to seek whether it be true that this is from that . For should it happen that there were not two brothers, but that only one had come of that essence, he that was generated would not be called alien in essence, merely because there was no other from the essence than he; but though alone, he must be coessential with him that begat him. For what shall we say about Jephtha's daughter; because she was only-begotten, and he had not,' says Scripture, other child' (Jud. xi.34); and again, concerning the widow's son, whom the Lord raised from the dead, because he too had no brother, but was only-begotten, was on that account neither of these coessential with him that begat? Surely they were, for they were children, and this is a property of children with reference to their parents. And in like manner also, when the Fathers said that the Son of God was from His essence, reasonably have they spoken of Him as coessential. For the like property has the radiance compared with the light. Else it follows that not even the creation came out of nothing. For whereas men beget with passion , so again they work upon an existing subject matter, and otherwise cannot make. But if we do not understand creation in a human way , when we attribute it to God, much less seemly is it to understand generation in a human way, or to give a corporeal sense to Coessential; instead of receding from things originate, casting away human images, nay, all things sensible, and ascending to the Father , lest we rob the Father of the Son in ignorance, and rank Him among His own creatures.
52. Further, if, in confessing Father and Son, we spoke of two beginnings or two Gods as Marcion and Valentinus , or said that the Son had any other mode of godhead, and was not the Image and Expression of the Father, as being by nature born from Him, then He might be considered unlike; for such essences are altogether unlike each other. But if we acknowledge that the Father's godhead is one and sole, and that of Him the Son is the Word and Wisdom; and, as thus believing, are far from speaking of two Gods, but understand the oneness of the Son with the Father to be, not in likeness of their teaching, but according to essence and in truth, and hence speak not of two Gods but of one God; there being but one Form of Godhead, as the Light is one and the Radiance; (for this was seen by the Patriarch Jacob, as Scripture says, The sun rose upon him when the Form of God passed by,' Gen. xxxii.31, LXX.); and beholding this, and understanding of whom He was Son and Image, the holy Prophets say, The Word of the Lord came to me;' and recognising the Father, who was beheld and revealed in Him, they made bold to say, The God of our fathers hath appeared unto me, the God of Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob' (Exod. iii.16); this being so, wherefore scruple we to call Him coessential who is one with the Father, and appears as doth the Father, according to likeness and oneness of godhead? For if, as has been many times said, He has it not to be proper to the Father's essence, nor to resemble, as a Son, we may well scruple: but if this be the illuminating and creative Power, specially proper to the Father, without Whom He neither frames nor is known (for all things consist through Him and in Him); wherefore, perceiving the fact, do we decline to use the phrase conveying it? For what is it to be thus connatural with the Father, but to be one in essence with Him? for God attached not to Him the Son from without , as needing a servant; nor are the works on a level with the Creator, and honoured as He is, or to be thought one with the Father. Or let a man venture to make the distinction, that the sun and the radiance are two lights, or different essences; or to say that the radiance accrued to it over and above, and is not a simple and pure offspring from the sun; such, that sun and radiance are two, but the light one, because the radiance is an offspring from the Sun. But, whereas not more divisible, nay less divisible is the nature of the Son towards the Father, and the godhead not accruing to the Son, but the Father's godhead being in the Son, so that he that hath seen the Son hath seen the Father in Him; wherefore should not such a one be called Coessential?
53. Even this is sufficient to dissuade you from blaming those who have said that the Son was coessential with the Father, and yet let us examine the very term Coessential,' in itself, by way of seeing whether we ought to use it at all, and whether it be a proper term, and is suitable to apply to the Son. For you know yourselves, and no one can dispute it, that Like is not predicated of essence, but of habits, and qualities; for in the case of essences we speak, not of likeness, but of identity. Man, for instance, is said to be like man, not in essence, but according to habit and character; for in essence men are of one nature. And again, man is not said to be unlike dog, but to be of different nature. Accordingly while the former are of one nature and coessential, the latter are different in both. Therefore, in speaking of Like according to essence, we mean like by participation; (for Likeness is a quality, which may attach to essence), and this would be proper to creatures for they, by partaking, are made like to God. For when He shall appear,' says Scripture, we shall be like Him' (1 John iii.2), like, that is, not in essence but in sonship, which we shall partake from Him. If then ye speak of the Son as being by participation, then indeed call Him Like-in-essence; but thus spoken of, He is not Truth, nor Light at all, nor in nature God. For things which are from participation, are called like, not in reality, but from resemblance to reality; so that they may swerve, or be taken from those who share them. And this, again, is proper to creatures and works. Therefore, if this be out of place, He must be, not by participation, but in nature and truth Son, Light, Wisdom, God; and being by nature, and not by sharing, He would properly be called, not Like-in-essence, but Coessential. But what would not be asserted, even in the case of others (for the Like has been shewn to be inapplicable to essences), is it not folly, not to say violence, to put forward in the case of the Son, instead of the Coessential?'
54. This is why the Nicene Council was correct in writing, what it was becoming to say, that the Son, begotten from the Father's essence, is coessential with Him. And if we too have been taught the same thing, let us not fight with shadows, especially as knowing, that they who have so defined, have made this confession of faith, not to misrepresent the truth, but as vindicating the truth and religiousness towards Christ, and also as destroying the blasphemies against Him of the Ario-maniacs. For this must be considered and noted carefully, that, in using unlike-in-essence, and other-in-essence, we signify not the true Son, but some one of the creatures, and an introduced and adopted Son, which pleases the heretics; but when we speak uncontroversially of the Coessential, we signify a genuine Son born of the Father; though at this Christ's enemies often burst with rage . What then I have learned myself, and have heard men of judgment say, I have written in few words; but do you, remaining on the foundation of the Apostles, and holding fast the traditions of the Fathers, pray that now at length all strife and rivalry may cease, and the futile questions of the heretics may be condemned, and all logomachy ; and the guilty and murderous heresy of the Arians may disappear, and the truth may shine again in the hearts of all, so that all every where may say the same thing' (1 Cor. i.10), and think the same thing , and that, no Arian contumelies remaining, it may be said and confessed in every Church, One Lord, one faith, one baptism' (Eph. iv.5), in Christ Jesus our Lord, through whom to the Father be the glory and the strength, unto ages of ages. Amen.
55. After I had written my account of the Councils , I had information that the most irreligious Constantius had sent Letters to the Bishops remaining in Ariminum; and I have taken pains to get copies of them from true brethren and to send them to you, and also what the Bishops answered; that you may know the irreligious craft of the Emperor, and the firm and unswerving purpose of the Bishops towards the truth.
Interpretation of the Letter .
Constantius, Victorious and Triumphant, Augustus, to all Bishops who are assembled at Ariminum.
That the divine and adorable Law is our chief care, your excellencies are not ignorant; but as yet we have been unable to receive the twenty Bishops sent by your wisdom, and charged with the legation from you, for we are pressed by a necessary expedition against the Barbarians; and as ye know, it beseems to have the soul clear from every care, when one handles the matters of the Divine Law. Therefore we have ordered the Bishops to await our return at Adrianople; that, when all public affairs are well arranged, then at length we may hear and weigh their suggestions. Let it not then be grievous to your constancy to await their return, that, when they come back with our answer to you, ye may be able to bring matters to a close which so deeply affect the well-being of the Catholic Church.
This was what the Bishops received at the hands of three emissaries.
Reply of the Bishops.
The letter of your humanity we have received, most God-beloved Lord Emperor, which reports that, on account of stress of public affairs, as yet you have been unable to attend to our deputies; and in which you command us to await their return, until your godliness shall be advised by them of what we have defined conformably to our ancestors. However, we now profess and aver at once by these presents, that we shall not recede from our purpose, as we also instructed our deputies. We ask then that you will with serene countenance command these letters of our mediocrity to be read; but also that you will graciously receive those, with which we charged our deputies. This however your gentleness comprehends as well as we, that great grief and sadness at present prevail, because that, in these your most happy days, so many Churches are without Bishops. And on this account we again request your humanity, most God-beloved Lord Emperor, that, if it please your religiousness, you would command us, before the severe winter weather sets in, to return to our Churches, that so we may be able, unto God Almighty and our Lord and Saviour Christ, His Only-begotten Son, to fulfil together with our flocks our wonted prayers in behalf of your imperial sway, as indeed we have ever performed them, and at this time make them.
The list of Sirmian confessions' published by Newman as an Excursus to the de Synodis is omitted here. It will be found printed as Appendix iii.' to his Arians of the Fourth Century.
The Excursus on a Creed ascribed (at the Council of Ephesus, see Hard. Conc. i.1640, Hahn. §83; Routh Rell. iii.367) to the 70 bishops who condemned Paul of Samosata, at Antioch a.d.269, and containing the formula homoousion (against this, supr. §§43-47), is also omitted, as bearing only very indirectly on the de Synodis. Caspari Alte und Neue Quellen (xi), p.161, has thoroughly investigated the Confession since Newman wrote, and has proved (what Newman half suspected) that the document is of Apollinarian origin. As Caspari was unaware of Newman's discussion, this result comes as the result of two independent investigations pursued on very different lines.]