Page images


The ävapxov (unoriginate). As is implied in the word monarchia, as already explained, the Father alone is the arche, or origin, and the Son and Spirit are not origins. The heresy of the Tritheists made it necessary to insist upon this. Hence the condemnation, in the (so-called) Apostolical Canons, of those who baptized “into the name of Three Unoriginate.” And Athanasius says, “We do not teach three Origins, as our illustration shows; for we do not speak of three Suns, but of the Sun and its radiance.” For the same reason the early writers spoke of the Father as the Fount of Divinity. At the same time, lest they should in word dishonour the Son, they ascribed to Him “an unoriginate generation” or “birth 5.” Thus Alexander, the first champion of orthodox truth against Arius, in his letter to his namesake of Byzantium : “We must reserve to the unbegotten (or unborn) Father His peculiar prerogative, confessing that no one is the cause of His existence, and to the Son we must pay the due honour, attributing to Him the unoriginate generation from the Father, and as we have said already, paying Him worship, so as ever to speak of Him piously and reverently, as pre-existent, ever-living,' and 'before the worlds."" This distinction

3 Bull, Defens. iv. 1, § 6.

4 Cudw. Intell. Syst. 4, § 36 [p. 709, ed. Mosheim. But the Bene. dictine Ed. in Cyril, Catech. xi., says that Athanasius maintained the Son's åvapxov. Epiphanius, from 1 Cor. xi. 3, argues that the Father is the reparń, not the åpxh, of the Son. Hær. 76, fin.]

5 Suicer. Symb. Nicen. c. viii. 6 Theod. Hist. i. 4, p. 18.

however, as might be expected, was but partially received among the Catholics. Contrasted with all created beings, the Son and Spirit are of necessity Unoriginate in the Unity of the Father. Clement, for instance, calls the Son, “the everlasting, unoriginate, origin and commencement of all things?.” It was not till they became alive to the seeming ditheism of such phrases, which the Sabellian controversy was sure to charge upon them, that they learned the accurate discrimination observed by Alexander. On the other hand, when the Arian contest urged them in the contrary direction to Sabellius, then they returned more or less to the original language of Clement, though with a fuller explanation of their own meaning. Gregory Nyssen gives the following plain account of the variations of their practice:“Whereas the word Origin has many significations ... sometimes we say that the appellation of the Unoriginate is not unsuitable to the Son. For when it is taken to mean derivation of substance from no cause, this indeed we ascribe to the Father alone. But according to the other senses of the word, since creation, time, the order of the world are referred to an origin, in respect of these we ascribe to the Only-begotten, superiority to any origin; so as to believe Him to be beyond creation, time, and mundane order, through whom were made all things. And thus we confess Him, who is not unoriginate in regard to His subsistence, in all other respects to be unoriginate, and, while the Father is unoriginate and unborn, the Son to be unoriginate in the sense explained, but not unborn 8.”

7 την άχρονον, άναρχον, αρχήν τε και απαρχήν των πάντων. & Gregory Nazianzen says the same more concisely : 8 Tiós, dày ds 9 However, here too we have a variation in the use of the word : altios being sometimes applied to the Son in the sense of åpxò. The Latin word answering to attios is sometimes causa, more commonly principium or auctor. Bull, Defens. iv. 1, § 2; § 4. Petav. v. 5, $ 10.

The word cause (airios) used in this passage, as a substitute for that use of Origin which peculiarly applies to the Father as the Fount of Divinity, is found as carly as the time of Justin Martyr, who in his dialogue with Trypho, declares the Father is to the Son the airios, or cause of His being; and it was resumed by the PostNicene writers, when the Arian controversy was found to turn in no small degree on the exact application of such terms. Thus Gregory Nazianzen says, “There is One God, seeing that the Son and Spirit are referred to One Cause'."

The Ante-Nicene history of the word homoüsion or consubstantial, which the Council of Nicæa adopted as its test, will introduce a more important discussion.

It is one characteristic of Revelation, that it clears up all doubts about the existence of God, as separate from, and independent of nature; and shows us that the course of the world depends not merely on a system, but on a Being, real, living, and individual. What we ourselves witness, evidences to us the operation of laws, physical and moral; but it leaves us unsatisfied, whether or not the principle of these be a mere nature or fate, whether the life of all things be a mere Anima Mundi, a spirit connatural with the body in which it acts, or an

[ocr errors]

Agent powerful to make or unmake, to change or supersede, according to His will. It is here that Revelation supplies the deficiency of philosophical religion ; miracles are its emblem, as well as its credentials, forcing on the imagination the existence of an irresponsible self-dependent Being, as well as recommending a particular message to the reason. This great truth, conveyed in the very circumstances under which Revelation was made, is explicitly recognized in its doctrine. Among other modes of inculcating it, may be named the appellation under which Almighty God disclosed Himself to the Israelites; Jehovah (or, as the Septuagint translates it, ó öv) being an expressive appellation of Him, who is essentially separate from those variable and perishable beings or substances, which creation presents to our observation. Accordingly, the description of Him as tò öv, or in other words, the doctrine of the ovoia of God, that is, of God viewed as Being and as the one Being, became familiar to the minds of the primitive Christians; as' embodying the spirit of the Scriptures, and indirectly witnessing against the characteristic error of pagan philosophy, which considered the Divine Mind, not as a reality, but as a mere abstract name, or generalized law of nature, or at best as a mere mode, principle, or an animating soul, not a Being external to creation, and possessed of individuality. Cyril of Alexandria defines the word ovoia, (usia, being, substance,) to be “ that which has existence in itself, independent of every thing else to constitute it?;" that is, an individual.

[ocr errors]

This sense of the word must be carefully borne in mind, since it was not that in which it is used by philosophers, who by it denoted the genus or species, or the “ens unum in multis,”—a sense which of course it could not bear when applied to the One Incommunicable God. The word, thus appropriated to the service of the God of Revelation, was from the earliest date used to express the reality and subsistence of the Son; and no word could be less metaphorical and more precise for this purpose, although the Platonists chose to refine, and from an affectation of reverence refused to speak of God except as hyperusios?. Justin Martyr, for instance, speaks of heretics, who considered that God put forth and withdrew His Logos when it pleased Him, as if He were an influence, not a Person ®, somewhat in the sense afterwards adopted by Paulus of Samosata and others. To meet this error, he speaks of Him as inseparable from the substance or being, usia, of the Father; that is, in order to exclude all such evasions of Scripture, as might represent the man Christ as inhabited by a divine glory, power, nature, and the like, evasions which in reality lead to the conclusion that He is not God at all.

For this purpose the word homoüsion or consubstantial was brought into use among Christian writers; viz. to express the real divinity of Christ, and that, as being derived from, and one with the Father's. Here again, as in the instance of its root, the word was adopted,

3 [Or étéKELVA oùolas] Petav. [t. i. i. 6] t. ii. iv. 5, § 8. [Brucker, t. 2, p. 395. Plot. Enn. v. lib. i. We find 'nepovolos or ÉTÉKELVA ovolas in Orig. c. Cels. vi. 64. Damasc. F. O. i. 4, 8, and 12.]

3 Justin, Tryph. 128.

« PreviousContinue »