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a gennesis in order to creation, or with a relation to time; what reason have we for holding that they held any other? and what reason for saying that the gennesis which they connect with creation was not in their minds a real gennesis, that is, such a gennesis as we all now hold, all but, as they expressly state, its not being from eternity ?
In other words, what reason have we for saying that the term gennesis is figurative in their use of it? It is true indeed that both the Son's gennesis and also His forthcoming, mission, or manifestation are sometimes mentioned together by these writers in the same sentence; but that does not prove they are not in their minds separate Divine acts; for His creation of the world is mentioned in such passages too, and as His creation of the world is not His mission, therefore His mission need not be His gennesis; and again, as His creating is (in their teaching) concurrent with His mission, so His mission may (in their teaching) be concurrent with His gennesis.
Nor are such expositions of the title “First-born of creation,” as Athanasius has so beautifully given us, to the purpose of Bull. Bull takes it to show that gennesis may be considered to be a mission or forthcoming; whereas Athanasius does not mean by the “First-born” any gennesis of our Lord from the Father at all, but he simply means His coming to the creature, that is, His exalting the creature into a Divine sonship by a union with His own Sonship. The Son applies His own Sonship to the creation, and makes Himself, who is the real Son, the first and the representative of a family of adopted sons. The term expresses a relation, not towards God, but towards the creature. This Athanasius says expressly : “It is nowhere written [of the Son] in the Scriptures,' the First-born of God, nor 'the creature of God, but it is ‘Only-begotten,' and 'Son,' and ' Word,' and Wisdom,' that have relation to the Father. The same cannot be both Only-begotten and First-born, except in different relations, -Only-begotten because of His gennesis, First-born because of His condescension.” Thus Athanasius expressly denies that, because our Lord is First-born at and to the creation,
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therefore He can be said to be begotten at the creation ; “Only-begotten” is internal to the Divine Essence; “Firstborn" external to It: the one is a word of nature, the other, of office. If then the authors, whom Bull is defending, had wished to express a figurative gennesis, they would always have used the word “First-born,” never “Onlybegotten :” and never have associated the generation from the Father with the coming forth to create. It is true they sometimes associate the Word's creative office with the term “Firstborn;" but they also associate it with “ Only-begotten.”
There seems no reason then why the words of Theophilus, Hippolytus, and the rest should not be taken in their obvious sense; and so far I agree with Petavius against Bull, Fabricius, Maran, the Ballerini, and Routh. But, this being granted, still I am not disposed to follow Petavius in his severe criticism upon those Fathers, and for the following reasons:
1. They considered the “Theos Logos” to be really distinct from God, (that is, the Father,) not a mere attribute, quality, or power, as the Sabellians did, and do.
2. They considered Him to be distinct from God from everlasting.
3. Since, as Dionysius says, “He who speaks is father of his words,” they considered the Logos always to be of the nature of a Son. Hence Zeno says He was from everlasting “Filii non sine affectu,” and Hippolytus, té elos dóyos, ūv Movoyevňs.
4. They considered, to use the Scripture term, that He was “ in utero Patris” before His actual gennesis. Victorinus applies the word “fætus” to Him; “Non enim fætus non est ante partum ; sed in occulto est; generatio est manifestatio” (apud Galland, v. 8, p. 146, col. 2). Zeno says that He “ prodivit ex ore Dei ut rerum naturam fingeret," “ cordis ejus nobilis inquilinus," and was embraced by the Father“ profundo suæ sacræ mentis arcano sine revelamine."
5. Hippolytus even considered that the perfection of His Sonship was not attained till His incarnation, réelos lóyos
viòs årelýs; but even he recognized the identity of the Son with the Logos.
6. Further, this change of the Logos into the Son was internal to the Divine Mind, Tertull. adv. Prax. 8. contr. Hermog. 18, and therefore was unlike the probole of the Gnostics.
7. Such an opinion was not only not inconsistent with the Homoüsion, but implied it. It took for granted that the Son was from the substance of the Father, and consubstantial with Him; though it implied a very defective view of the immutability and simplicity of the Divine Essence.
8. Accordingly, though I cannot allow that it was actually protected at the Council by the anathema on those who said that our Lord “ was not before He was born," at least it was passed over on an occasion when the Arian error had to be definitively reprobated.
This may be said in its favour: but then, on the other hand,
1. It seriously compromised, as I have said, the simplicity and immutability of the Divine Essence.
2. It could be resolved, with very little alteration, into Semi-Arianism on the one hand, or into Sabellianism on the other.
3. On this account it had all along been resisted with definiteness and earnestness by the Fathers of the Alexandrian School, by whom finally it was eradicated. Origen urges the doctrine of the åelyevvés ; “Perfect Son from Perfect Father,"! says Gregory Thaumaturgus in his creed; "The Father being everlasting the Son is everlasting,” says Dionysius; “ The Father,” says Alexander, “ is ever Father of the ever-present Son,” and Athanasius reprobates the lóyos év to beộ åtennis, yevvndeis térelos (Orat. iv. 11). Hence Gregory Nazianzen in like manner condemns the åren Apótepov, cita tédelov, ŐOTEP vópos uétepos yevérews (Orat. xx. 9, fin.). And at length it was classed, and duly, among the heresies. “Alia (hæresis),” says Augustine, “sempiternè natum non intelligens Filium, putat illam nativitatem sumpsisse à tempore
initium ; et tamen volens coæternum Patri Filium confiteri, apud illum fuisse, antequàm de illo nasceretur, existimat; hoc est, semper eum fuisse, veruntamen semper eum Filium non fuisse, sed ex quo de illo natus est, Filium esse coepisse” (Hær. 50).
However, this subject should be treated at greater length than I can allow it here.
THE CONFESSIONS AT SIRMIUM.
(Vide supra, p. 332.)
Aretes togethon is pagyn. 1.0
1. A.D. 351. Confession against Photinus
(First Sirmian Council). This Confession was published at a Council of Eastern Bishops (Coustant. in Hil. p. 1174, Note l), and was drawn up by the whole body, Hil. de Syn. 37 (according to Sirmond. Diatr. 1. Sirm, p. 366, Petavius de Trin. 1. 9. § 8. Animadv. in Epiph. p. 318 init., and Coustant. in Hil. 1. c.); or by Basil of Ancyra (as Valesius conjectures in Soz. iv. 22, and Larroquanus, de Liberio, p. 147); or by Mark of Arethusa, Socr. ii. 30, but Socrates, it is considered, confuses together the dates of the different Confessions, and this ascription is part of his mistake (vide Vales. in loc., Coustant. in Hil. de Syn. 1. c., Petav. Animad. in Epiph. l. c.). It was written in Greek.
Till Petavius, Socrates was generally followed in ascribing all three Sirmian Confessions to this one Council, though at the same time he was generally considered mistaken as to the year. E. g. Baronius places them all in 357. Sirmond defended Baronius against Petavius (though in Facund. x. 6, Note c, he agrees with Petavius); and, assigning the third Confession to 359, adopted the improbable conjecture of two Councils, the one Catholic and the other Arian, held at Sirmium at the same time, putting forth respectively the first and second Creeds, somewhat after the manner of the contemporary rival Councils of Sardica. Pagi, Natalis 1 From the Oxford Translation of Athanasius, p. 160.