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· But to return to the word consubstantial: though Origen gave up the word probole, yet he used the word consubstantial, as has already been mentioned“. But shortly after his death, his pupils abandoned it at the celebrated Council held at Antioch (A.D. 264) against Paulus of Samosata. When they would have used it as a test, this heretic craftily objected to it on the very ground on which Origen had surrendered the probole. He urged that, if Father and Son were of one substance, consubstantial, there was some common substance in which they partook, and which consequently was distinct from and prior to the Divine Persons Themselves; a wretched sophism, which of course could not deceive Firmilian and Gregory, but which, being adapted to perplex weak minds, might decide them on withdrawing the word. It is remarkable too, that the Council was held about the time when Manes appeared on the borders of the Antiochene Patriarchate. The disputative school of Paulus pursued the advantage thus gained; and from that time used the charge of materialism as a weapon for attacking all sound expositions of Scripture truth. Having extorted from the Catholics the condemnation of a word long known in the Church, almost found in Scripture, and less figurative and material in its meaning than any which could be selected, and objectionable only in the mouths of heretics, they employed this concession as a ground of attacking expressions more directly 'metaphorical, taken from visible objects, and sanctioned by less weighty authority. In a letter which shall after
4 [But he was not consistent. Vide Hieron. contr. Ruff. ii. 19. Also the dissertation in Jackson's Preface to Novatian, p. xlviii, &c.]
wards be cited, Arius charges the Catholics with teaching the errors of Valentinus and Manes; and in another of the original Arian documents, Eusebius of Nicomedia, maintains in like manner that their doctrine involves the materiality of the Divine Nature. Thus they were gradually silencing the Church by a process which legitimately led to Pantheism, when the Alexandrians gave the alarm, and nobly stood forward in defence of the faith.
It is worth observing that, when the Asiatic Churches had given up the consubstantial, they, on the contrary, had preserved it. Not only Dionysius willingly accepts the challenge of his namesake of Rome, who reminded him of the value of the symbol; but Theognostus also, who presided at the Catechetical School at the end of the third century, recognizes it by implication in the following passage, which has been preserved by Athanasius. “The substance of the Son,” he says, “is not external to the Father, or created; but it is by natural derivation from that of the Father, as the radiance comes from light (Heb. i. 3). For the radiance is not the sun, . . . and yet not foreign to it; and in like manner there is an effluence (åróppoia, Wisd. vii. 25.) from the Father's substance, though it be indivisible from Him. For as the sun remains the same without infringement of its nature, though it pour forth its
s Parallel to the above instances is Basil's objection to yévvnua, when used of the Son, which Athanasius and others apply to Him. Vide Ath. Tr. p. 37, x.]
6 [It may be questioned, however, whether the word substance in this passage is not equivalent to hypostasis or subsistence; vide Appendix, No. 4.]
radiance, so the Father's substance is unchangeable, though the Son be its Image?.”
Some notice of the θελήσει γεννηθέν, or voluntary generation, will suitably follow the discussion of the consubstantial; though the subject does not closely concern theology. It has been already observed that the tendency of the heresies of the first age was towards materialism and fatalism. As it was the object of Revelation to destroy all theories which interfered with the belief of the Divine Omniscience and active Sovereignty, so the Church seconded this design by receiving and promulgating the doctrine of the “He that is," or the Divine “Being” or “ Essence," as a symbol of His essential distinction from the perishable world in which He acts. But when the word substance or essence itself was taken by the Gnostics and Manichees in a material sense, the error was again introduced by the very term which was intended to witness against it. According to the Oriental Theory, the emanations from the Deity were eternal with Him. self, and were considered as the result, not of His will and personal energy, but of the necessary laws to which His nature was subjected; a doctrine which was but fatalism in another shape. The Eclectics honourably distinguished themselves in withstanding this blasphemous, or rather atheistical tenet. Plotinus declares,
7 Athan. de Decr. Nic. 25.
that “God's substance and His will are the same; and if so, as He willed, so He is ; so that it is not a more certain truth that, as is His substance or nature, so is His will and action, than, as His will and action, so is His substance.” Origen had preceded them in their opposition to the same school. Speaking of the simplicity and perfection of the Divine Essence, he says, “God does not even participate in substance, rather He is partaken ; by those, namely, who have the Spirit of God. And our Saviour does not share in holiness, but, being holiness itself, is shared by the holy.” The meaning of this doctrine is clear ;—to protest, in the manner of Athanasius, in a passage lately cited, against the notion that the substance of God is something distinct from God Himself, and not God viewed as self-existent, the one immaterial, intelligent, all-perfect Spirit; but the risk of it lay in its tendency to destroy the doctrine of His individual and real existence (which the Catholic use of substance symbolized), and to introduce in its. stead the notion that a quality or mode of acting was the governing principle of nature; in other words, Pantheism. This is an error of which Origen of course cannot be accused; but it is in its measure chargeable: on the Platonic Masters, and is countenanced even by their mode of speaking of the Supreme Being, as not. substantial, but above the notion of substance 8.”
The controversy did not terminate in the subject of Theism, but was pursued by the heretical party into questions of Christian Theology. The Manichees con
8 ütepovolos. Cudw. Intell. Syst. iv. § 23. Petav. vi. 8, § 19, ibid. t. i. ii, 6, § 9.
sidered the Son and Spirit as necessary emanations from the Father; erring, first, in their classing those Divine Persons with intelligences confessedly imperfect and su! servient; next, in introducing a sort of materialism into their notion of the Deity. The Eclectics on the other hand, maintained, by a strong figure, that the Eternal Son originated from the Father at His own will; meaning thereby, that the everlasting mystery, which constitutes the relation between Father and Son, has no physical or material conditions, and is such as becomes Him who is altogether Mind, and bound by no laws, but those established by His own perfection as a first cause. Thus Iamblichus calls the Son self-begotten'.
The discussion seems hardly to have entered farther into the Ante-Nicene Church, than is implied in the above notice of it: though some suppose that Justin and others referred the divine gennesis or generation to the will of God. However, it is easy to see that the ground was prepared for the introduction of a subtle and irreverent question, whenever the theologizing Sophists should choose to raise it. Accordingly, it was one of the first and principal interrogations put to the Catholics by their Arian opponents, whether the generation of the Son was voluntary or not on the part of the Father; their dilemma being, that Almighty God was subject to laws external to Himself, if it were not voluntary, and that, if on the other hand it was voluntary, the Son was in the number of things created. But of this more in the next Section.