« PreviousContinue »
nasius". But at this era, the middle of the third century, a change took place in the use of it and other similar words, which is next to be explained.
The oriental doctrine of Emanations was at a very early period combined with the Christian theology.. According to the system of Valentinus, a Gnostic heresiarch, who flourished in the early part of the second century, the Supreme Intelligence of the world gave existence to a line of Spirits or Eons, who were all more or less partakers of His nature, that is, of a nature specifically the same, and included in His glory (Tanpwua), though individually separate from the true and sovereign Deity. It is obvious, that such a teaching as this abandons the great revealed principle above insisted on, the incommunicable character and individuality of the Divine Essence. It considers all spiritual beings as like God, in the same sense that one man resembles or has the same nature as another: and accordingly it was at liberty to apply, and did actually apply, to the Creator and His creatures the word homoüsion or consubstantial, in the philosophical sense which the word originally bore. We have evidence in the work of Irenæus that the Valentinians did thus employ it. The Manichees followed, about a century later; they too were Emanatists, and spoke of the human soul as being consubstantial or co-essential with God, of one substance with God. Their principles evidently allowed of a kind of Trinitarianism ; the Son and Spirit being considered Eons of a superior order
6 [Vide Ath. Tr. p. 35, t. Also Archelaus speaks of our Lord as “ de substantiâ Dei.” Routh, t. iv. p. 228.]
to the rest, consubstantial with God because Eons, but one with God in no sense which was not true also of the soul of man. It is said, moreover, that they were materialists; and used the word consubstantial as it may be applied to different vessels or instruments, wrought out from some one mass of metal or wood. However, whether this was so or not, it is plain that anyhow the word in question would become unsuitable to express the Catholic doctrine, in proportion as the ears of Christians were familiarized to the terms employed in the Gnostic and Manichean theologies; nor is it wonderful that at length they gave up the use of it.
The history of the word probole or offspring is parallel to that of the consubstantial'. It properly means any thing which proceeds, or is sent forth from the substance of another, as the fruit of a tree, or the rays of the sun; in Latin it is translated by prolatio, emissio, or editio, an offspring or issue. Accordingly Justin employed it, or rather a cognate phrase ", to designate what Cyril calls above the self-existence of the Son, in opposition to the evasions which were necessary for the system of Paulus, Sabellius, and the rest. Tertullian does the same; but by that time, Valentinus had given the word a material signification. Hence Tertullian is obliged to apologize for using it, when writing against Praxeas, the forerunner of the Sabellians. “Can the Word of God,” he asks, “be unsubstantial, who is called the Son, who is even named God ? He is said
7 Beausobre, Hist. Manich. iii. 7, § 6. [Vide Ath. Tr. p. 97, h.]. 8 apobano èv yévvnua. Justin. Tryph. 62. 9 aŭdú apkrov.
to be in the form or image of God. Is not God a body [substance], Spirit though He be? . . Whatever then has been the substance of the Word, that, I call a Person, and claim for it the name of Son, and being such, He comes next to the Father. "Let no one suppose that I am bringing in the notion of any such probole (offspring) as Valentinus imagined, drawing out his Eons the one from the other. Why must I give up the word in a right sense, because heresy uses it in a wrong? besides, heresy borrowed it from us, and has turned truth into a lie. i ... This is the difference between the uses of it. Valentinus separates his probolæ from their Father; they know Him not. But we hold that the Son alone knows the Father, reveals Him, performs His will, and is within Him. He is ever in the Father, as He has said; ever with God, as it is written ; never separated from Him, for He and the Father are one. This is the true probole, the safeguard of unity, sent forth, not divided off.” Soon after Tertullian thus defended his use of the word probole, Origen in another part of the Church gave it up, or rather assailed it, in argument with Candidus, a Valentinian. .“If the Son is a probole of the Father," he says, “who begets Him from Himself, like the birth of animals, then of necessity both offspring and original are of a bodily nature?.” Here we see two writers, with exactly the same theological creed before them, taking opposite views as to the propriety of using a word which heresy had corrupted'.
i Tertull. in Prax. 7, 8, abridged. ? [Periarch: iv. p. 190.] 3 [Vide an apposite note of Coustant. Epp. Pont. Rom. p. 496, on Damasus's Words : “nec prolativum, ut generationem ei demas.]
· But to return to the word consubstantial: though Ori. gen 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
+ [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 (åtrópoia, 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 yévynua, 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.]