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Works And Letters Of St Ambrose by St. Ambrose

Chapter III. That the Father and the Son must not be divided is proved by the wordsà

That the Father and the Son must not be divided is proved by the words of the Apostle, seeing that it is befitting to the Son that He should be blessed, only Potentate, and immortal, by nature, that is, and not by grace, as even the angels themselves are immortal, and that He should dwell in the unapproachable light. How it is that the Father and the Son are alike and equally said to be |alone.|

15. When, therefore, you read the Name |God,| separate neither Father nor Son, for the Godhead of the Father and the Son is one and the same, and therefore separate them not, when you read the words |blessed and only Potentate,| for the words are spoken of God, even as you may read: |I charge thee before God, Who quickeneth all things.| Christ also indeed doth quicken, and therefore the Name of God is meetly given both to the Father and to the Son, inasmuch as the effect of their activity is in agreement. Let us go on to the words following: |I charge thee,| he says, |before God, Who quickeneth all things, and Jesus Christ.|

16. The Word is in God, even as it is written: |In God will I praise His Word.| In God is His Eternal Power, even Jesus; in [speaking of] God, therefore, the Apostle hath witnessed to the unity of the Godhead, whilst by the Name of Christ he hath witnessed to the sacrament of the Incarnation.

17. Furthermore, to show that he hath spoken of the Incarnation of Christ, he added: |Who bore witness under Pontius Pilate with the good confession,| [I charge thee] |keep undefiled the commandment, until the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, Which in His own good time the blessed and only Potentate shall manifest, the King of kings and Lord of lords, Who alone hath immortality, and dwelleth in light unapproachable, Whom no man hath seen, nor can see.| Those words, then, are written with regard to God, of which Name the dignity and truth are common to [both the Father and] the Son.

18. Why, then, should there be no thought of the Son in this place, seeing that all these things hold good of the Son also? If they do not so, then deny His Godhead, and so mayest thou deny what is proper to be said of God. His Blessedness cannot be denied, Who bestows blessings, for |Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven.| He cannot but be called |Blessed,| Who hath given us wholesome teaching, even as it is written: |Which is according to the Gospel of the beauty of the Blessed God.| His Power cannot be denied, of Whom the Father saith: |I have laid help upon One that is mighty.| And who dare refuse to acknowledge Him to be immortal, when He Himself hath made others also immortal, as it is written of the Wisdom of God: |By her shall I possess immortality.|

19. But the immortality of His Nature is one thing, that of ours is another. Things perishable are not to be compared to things divine. The Godhead is the one only Substance that death cannot touch, and therefore it is that the Apostle, though knowing both the [human] soul and angels to be immortal, declared that God only had immortality. In truth, even the soul may die: |The soul that sinneth, it shall die,| and an angel is not absolutely immortal, his immortality depending on the will of the Creator.

20. Do not hastily reject this, because Gabriel dies not, nor Rapha√ęl, nor Uriel. Even in their nature there is a capacity of sin, though not one of improvement by discipline, for every reasonable creature is exposed to influences from without itself, and liable to judgment. It is on the influences which work upon us that the award of judgment, and corruption, or advance to perfection, do depend, and therefore Ecclesiastes saith: |For God shall bring all His work to judgment.| Every creature, then, has within it the possibility of corruption and death, even though it do not [at present] die or commit sin; nor, if in anything it deliver not itself over to sin, hath it this boon of its immortal nature, but of discipline or of grace. Immortality, then, that is of a gift is one thing: immortality without the possibility of change is another.

21. Do we deny the immortality of Christ's Godhead, because He tasted death for all in the flesh? Then is Gabriel better than Christ, for Gabriel never died, but Christ gave up the ghost. But the servant is not above his lord, and we must discern the weakness of flesh from the eternity of Godhead. Christ's Death had its source in the flesh, immortality is of the nature of Christ's sovereignty. But if the Godhead brought it to pass that the flesh saw not corruption, the flesh being surely by nature liable to corruption, how could the Godhead itself have died?

22. And how is it that the Son dwelleth not in light unapproachable, if He is in the bosom of the Father, if the Father is Light, and the Son also is Light, because God is Light? Or, if we suppose some other light, beside the Light of the Godhead, to be the unapproachable Light, is, then, this Light better than the Father, so that He is not in that Light, Who, as it is written, is both with the Father and in the Father? Let men, therefore, not exclude the thought of the Son, when they read only of |God| -- and let them not exclude that of the Father, when they read of |the Son| only.

23. On earth, the Son is not without the Father, and thou thinkest that the Father is without the Son in heaven? The Son is in the flesh -- (when I say |He is in the flesh| or |He is on earth,| I speak as though we lived in the days whose story is in the Gospel, for now we no longer know Christ |after the flesh| ) -- He is in the flesh, and He is not alone, as it is written: |And I am not alone, because the Father is with Me,| and think you that the Father dwells alone in the Light?

24. Lest you should regard this argument as mere speculation take this sentence of authority. |No man,| saith the Scripture, |hath seen God at any time, save the Only-begotten Son, Who is in the bosom of the Father; He hath revealed Him.| How can the Father be in solitude, if the Son be in the bosom of the Father? How doth the Son reveal Him, Whom He seeth not? The Father, then, exists not alone.

25. Observe now what the |solitude| of the Father and of the Son is. The Father is alone, because there is no other Father; the Son is alone, because there is no other Son; God is alone, because the Godhead of the Trinity is One.

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