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of certain literal extensions in the Divine Nature ; as if they would distribute it into parts, and divide God the Father, if they could; whereas to entertain even the light suspicion of this, is not only an extreme impiety, but an utter folly also, nay not even intelligible at all, that an incorporeal nature should be capable of divisions.”
To meet more fully this misconception to which the word Son gave rise, the ancient Fathers availed themselves of the other chief appellation given to our Lord in Scripture. The Logos or Sophia, the Word, Reason, or Wisdom of God, is only by St. John distinctly applied to Christ; but both before his time and by his contemporary Apostles it is used in that ambiguous sense, half literal, half evangelical, which, when it is once known to belong to our Lord, guides us to the right interpretation of the metaphor. For instance, when St. Paul declares that “ the Word of God is alive and active, and keener than a two-edged sword, and so piercing as to separate soul and spirit, joints and nerves, and a judge of our thoughts and designs, and a witness of every creature," it is scarcely possible to decide whether the revealed law of God be spoken of, or the Eternal Son. On the whole it would appear that our Lord is called the Word or Wisdom of God in two respects; first, to denote His essential presence in the Father, in as full a sense as the attribute of wisdom is essential to Him ; secondly, His mediatorship, as the Interpreter or Word between God and His creatures. No appellation, surely, could have been more appositely bestowed, in order to counteract the notions of materiality and of distinct individuality, and of beginning of existence, which the title of the Son was likely to introduce into the Catholic doctrine. Accordingly, after the words lately cited, Origen uses it (or a metaphor like it) for this very purpose. Having mentioned the absurd idea, which had prevailed, of parts or extensions in the Divine Nature, he proceeds: “Rather, as will proceeds out of the mind, and neither tears the mind, nor is itself separated or divided from it, in some such manner must we conceive that the Father has begotten the Son, who is His Image.” Elsewhere he says, “It were impious and perilous, merely because our intellect is weak, to deprive God, as far as our words go, of His only-begotten co-eternal Word, viz. the 'wisdom in which He rejoiced. We might as well conceive that He was not for ever in joyo.” Hence it was usual to declare that to deny the eternity of our Lord was all one as saying that Almighty God was once without intelligence?: for instance, Athenagoras says, that the Son is“ the firstborn of the Father; not as made, for God being Mind Eternal, had from the beginning reason in Himself, being eternally intellectual; but as issuing forth upon the chaotic mass as the Idea and Agent of creation?.'' The same interpretation of the sacred figure is continued
8 Bull, Defens. ii. 9, § 19.
9 Bull, Defens. iii. 3, & 1. i groyos.
2 Bull, Defens. iii. 5, $ 2, tov abyov ... doyeds . . . . Apoexo6v ... ιδέα και ενέργεια.
after the Nicene Council ; thus Basil says, “If Christ be the Power of God, and the Wisdom, and these be increate and co-eternal with God, (for He never was without wisdom and power,) then, Christ is increate and coeternal with God.”
But here again the metaphor was necessarily imperfect; and, if pursued, open to misconception. Its obvious tendency was to obliterate the notion of the Son’s Personality, that is, to introduce Sabellianism. Something resembling this was the error of Paulus of Samosata and Marcellus : who, from the fleeting and momentary character of a word spoken, inferred that the Divine Word was but the temporary manifestation of God's glory in the man Christ. And it was to counteract this tendency, that is, to witness against it, that the Fathers speak of Him as the Word in an hypostasis“, the permanent, real, and living Word.
The above is a sketch of the primitive doctrine concerning our Lord's divine nature, as contained in the two chief appellations which are ascribed to Him in Scripture. The opposite ideas they convey may be further denoted respectively by the symbols “of God," and “in God" ;” as though He were so derived from the simple Unity of God as in no respect to be divided or extended from it, (to speak metaphorically,) but to inhere within that ineffable individuality. Of these two
3 Petav. vi. 9, § 2.
conditions of the doctrine, however, the divinity of Christ, and the unity of God, the latter was much more earnestly insisted on in the early times. The divinity of our Lord was, on the whole, too plain a truth to dispute; but in proportion as it was known to the heathen, it would seem to them to involve this consequence,—that, much as the Christians spoke against polytheism, still, after all, they did admit a polytheism of their own instead of the Pagan. Hence the anxiety of the Apologists, while they assail the heathen creed on this account, to defend their own against a similar charge. Thus Athenagoras, in the passage lately referred to, says; “Let no one ridicule the notion that God has a Son. For we have not such thoughts either about God the Father or about the Son as your poets, who, in their mythologies, make the Gods no better than men. But the Son of God is the Word of the Father [as Creator] both in idea and in active power? . . . . the Father and the Son being one. The Son being in the Father, and the Father in the Son, in the unity and power of the Spirit, the Son of God is the Mind and Word of the Father.” Accordingly, the divinity of the Son being assumed, the early writers are earnest in protecting the doctrine of the Unity; protecting it both from the materialism of dividing the Godhead, and the paganism of separating the Son and Spirit from the
6 [Son and Word, “ of God” and “ in God,” however, imply each cther. “If not Son, neither is He Word : if not Word, neither is He Son.” Athan. Orat. iv. 24. “ The Son's Being, because of the Father, is there. fore in the Father.” Athan. iii. 3. “Quia Verbum ideo Filius.” August. n Psalm. vii. 14, § 5.]
i ideą kai įvepyela, as at p. 175.
Father. And to this purpose they made both the “of God," and the “in God," subservient, in a manner which shall now be shown.
First, the “ in God.” It is the clear declaration of Scripture, which we must receive without questioning, that the Son and Spirit are in the one God, and He in Them. There is that remarkable text in the first chapter of St. John which says that the Son is “in the bosom of the Father.” In another place it is said that “the Son is in the Father and the Father in the Son." (John xiv. 11.) And elsewhere the Spirit of God is compared to “ the spirit of a man which is in him” (1 Cor. ii. 11). This is, in the language of theology, the doctrine of the coinherences ; which was used from the earliest times on the authority of Scripture, as a safeguard and witness of the Divine Unity. A passage from Athenagoras to this purpose has just been cited. Clement has the following doxology at the end of his Christian Instructor. “To the One Only Father and Son, Son and Father, Son our guide and teacher, with the Holy Spirit also, to the One in all things, in whom are all things, &c. . . to Him is the glory, &c.” And Gregory of Neocæsarea, if the words form part of his creed, “In the Trinity there is nothing created, nothing subservient, nothing of foreign nature, as if absent from it once, and afterwards added. The Son never failed the Father, nor the Spirit the Son, but the Trinity remains evermore unchangeable, unalterable.” These authorities belong to the early Alexandrian school. The Ante-Nicene school of Rome is still more explicit. Dionysius of Rome says, “We must neither distribute
8 nepixúpnous, or circumincessio.