A Select Library of the Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers of the Christian Church. Vol. III St. Augustin on the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises, Moral Treatises, ed. Philip Schaff, LL.D. (Buffalo: The Christian Literature Co., 1887). http://oll.libertyfund.org/titles/2273,
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This volume contains St. Augustine’s On the Holy Trinity, Doctrinal Treatises on Faith, Believing; Moral Treatises on Holy Virginity, Widowhood, Lying, Patience.
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The doctrine of the Divine Unity is a truth of natural religion; the doctrine of the Trinity is a truth of revealed religion. The various systems of natural theism present arguments for the Divine existence, unity, and attributes, but proceed no further. They do not assert and endeavor to demonstrate that the Supreme Being is three persons in one essence. It is because this doctrine is not discoverable by human reason, that the Christian church has been somewhat shy of attempts to construct it analytically; or even to defend it upon grounds of reason. The keen Dr. South expresses the common sentiment, when he remarks that “as he that denies this fundamental article of the Christian religion may lose his soul, so he that much strives to understand it may lose his wits.” Yet all the truths of revelation, like those of natural religion, have in them the element of reason, and are capable of a rational defense. At the very least their self-consistence can be shown, and objections to them can be answered. And this is a rational process. For one of the surest characteristics of reason is, freedom from self contradiction, and consonance with acknowledged truths in other provinces of human inquiry and belief.
It is a remarkable fact, that the earlier forms of Trinitarianism are among the most metaphysical and speculative of any in dogmatic history. The controversy with the Arian and the Semi-Arian, brought out a statement and defense of the truth, not only upon scriptural but ontological grounds. Such a powerful dialectician as Athanasius, while thoroughly and intensely scriptural—while starting from the text of scripture, and subjecting it to a rigorous exegesis—did not hesitate to pursue the Arian and Semi-Arian dialectics to its most recondite fallacy in its subtlest recesses. If any one doubts this, let him read the four Orations of Athanasius, and his defence of the Nicene Decrees. In some sections of Christendom, it has been contended that the doctrine of the Trinity should be received without any attempt at all to establish its rationality and intrinsic necessity. In this case, the tenets of eternal generation and procession have been regarded as going beyond the Scripture data, and if not positively rejected, have been thought to hinder rather than assist faith in three divine persons and one God. But the history of opinions shows that such sections of the church have not proved to be the strongest defenders of the Scripture statement, nor the most successful in keeping clear of the Sabellian, Arian, or even Socinian departure from it.
Those churches which have followed Scripture most implicitly, and have most feared human speculation, are the very churches which have inserted into their creeds the most highly analytic statement that has yet been made of the doctrine of the Trinity. The Nicene Trinitarianism is incorporated into nearly all the symbols of modern Christendom; and this specifies, particularly, the tenets of eternal generation and procession with their corollaries. The English Church, to whose great divines, Hooker, Bull, Waterland, and Pearson, scientific Trinitarianism owes a very lucid and careful statement, has added the Athanasian creed to the Nicene. The Presbyterian churches, distinguished for the closeness of their adherence to the simple Scripture, yet call upon their membership to confess, Edition: current; Page:  that “in the unity of the Godhead there be three persons, of one substance, power, and eternity; God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Ghost. The Father is of none, neither begotten nor proceeding; the Son is eternally begotten of the Father; the Holy Ghost eternally proceeding from the Father and the Son.”1
The treatise of Augustin upon the Trinity, which is here made accessible to the English reader, is one of the ablest produced in the patristic age. The author devoted nearly thirty years of his matured life to its composition (ad 400 to 428). He was continually touching and retouching it, and would have delayed its publication longer than he did, had a copy not been obtained surreptitiously and published. He seems to have derived little assistance from others; for although the great Greek Trinitarians—Athanasius, the two Gregories, and Basil—had published their treatises, yet he informs us that his knowledge of Greek, though sufficient for understanding the exegetical and practical writings of his brethren of the Greek Church, was not adequate to the best use of their dialectical and metaphysical compositions.2 Accordingly, there is no trace in this work of the writings of the Greek Trinitarians, though a substantial agreement with them. The only Trinitarian author to whom he alludes is Hilary—a highly acute and abstruse Trinitarian.
In his general position, Augustin agrees with the Nicene creed; but laying more emphasis upon the consubstantiality of the persons, and definitely asserting the procession of the Spirit from the Father and Son. Some dogmatic historians seem to imply that he differed materially from the Nicene doctrine on the point of subordination. Hagenbach (Smith’s Ed. § 95) asserts that “Augustin completely purified the dogma of the Trinity from the older vestiges of subordination;” and adds that “such vestiges are unquestionably to be found in the most orthodox Fathers, not only in the East but also in the West.” He cites Hilary and Athanasius as examples, and quotes the remark of Gieseler, that “the idea of a subordination lies at the basis of such declarations.” Neander (II. 470, Note 2) says that Augustin “kept at a distance everything that bordered on subordinationism.” These statements are certainly too sweeping and unqualified. There are three kinds of subordination: the filial or trinitarian; the theanthropic; and the Arian. The first is taught, and the second implied, in the Nicene creed. The last is denied and excluded. Accordingly, dogmatic historians like Petavius, Bull, Waterland, and Pearson, contend that the Nicene creed, in affirming the filial, but denying the Arian subordination; in teaching subordination as to person and relationship, but denying it as to essence; enunciates a revealed truth, and that this is endorsed by all the Trinitarian fathers, Eastern and Western. And there certainly can be no doubt that Augustin held this view. He maintains, over and over again, that Sonship as a relationship is second and subordinate to Fatherhood; that while a Divine Father and a Divine Son must necessarily be of the very same nature and grade of being, like a human father and a human son, yet the latter issues from the former, not the former from the latter. Augustin’s phraseology on this point is as positive as that of Athanasius, and in some respects even more bold and capable of misinterpretation. He denominates the Father the “beginning” (principium) of the Son, and the Father and Son the “beginning” (principium) of the Holy Spirit. “The Father is the beginning of the whole divinity, or if it is better so expressed, deity.” IV. xx. 29. “In their mutual relation to one another in the Trinity itself, if the begetter is a beginning (principium) in relation Edition: current; Page:  to that which he begets, the Father is a beginning in relation to the Son, because he begets Him.” V. xiv. 15. Since the Holy Spirit proceeds from both Father and Son, “the Father and Son are a beginning (principium) of the Holy Spirit, not two beginnings.” V. xiv. 15. Compare also V. xiii.; X. iv.; and annotations pp. Augustin employs this term “beginning” only in relation to the person, not to the essence. There is no “beginning,” or source, when the essence itself is spoken of. Consequently, the “subordination” (implied in a “beginning” by generation and spiration) is not the Arian subordination, as to essence, but the trinitarian subordination, as to person and relation.1
Augustin starts with the assumption that man was made in the image of the triune God, the God of revelation; not in the image of the God of natural religion, or the untriune deity of the nations. Consequently, it is to be expected that a trinitarian analogue can be found in his mental constitution. If man is God’s image, he will show traces of it in every respect. All acknowledge that the Divine unity, and all the communicable attributes, have their finite correspondants in the unity and attributes of the human mind. But the Latin father goes further than this. This, in his view, is not the whole of the Divine image. When God says, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness” (Gen. i. 26), Augustin understands these words to be spoken by the Trinity, and of the Trinity—by and of the true God, the God of revelation: the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God. He denies that this is merely the pluralis excellentiæ, and that the meaning of these words would be expressed by a change of the plural to the singular, and to the reading, “Let me make man in my image, after my likeness.” “For if the Father alone had made man without the Son, it would not have been written, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.’ ” City of God XVI. vi.; Trinity I. vii. 14. In Augustin’s opinion, the Old Testament declaration that God is a unity, does not exclude the New Testament declaration that he is a trinity. “For” says he, “that which is written, ‘Hear O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord’ ought certainly not to be understood as if the Son were excepted, or the Holy Spirit were excepted; which one Lord our God we rightly call our Father, as regenerating us by his grace.” Trinity V. xi. 12. How far Moses understood the full meaning of the Divine communication and instruction, is one thing. Who it really and actually was that made the communication to him, is another. Even if we assume, though with insufficient reason for so doing, that Moses himself had no intimation of the Trinity, it does not follow that it was not the Trinity that inspired him, and all the Hebrew prophets. The apostle Peter teaches that the Old Testament inspiration was a Trinitarian inspiration, when he says that “the prophets who prophesied of the grace that should come, searched what the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand of the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.” (1 Pet. i. 10, 11).
In asserting, however, that an image of the Trinity exists in man’s nature, Augustin is careful to observe that it is utterly imperfect and inadequate. He has no thought or expectation of clearing up the mystery by any analogy whatever. He often gives expression to his sense of the inscrutability and incomprehensibility of the Supreme Being, in language of the most lowly and awe-struck adoration. “I pray to our Lord God himself, of whom we ought always to think, and yet of whom we are not able to think worthily, and whom no speech is sufficient to declare, that He will grant me both help for understanding and explaining that which I design, and pardon if in anything I offend.” V. i. 1. “O Lord the one God, God the Trinity, whatever I have said in these books that is of Thine, may they acknowledge who are Thine; if anything of my own, may it be pardoned both by Thee and by those who are Thine. Amen.” XV. xxviii.Edition: current; Page: 
Augustin’s method in this work is (1.) The exegetical; (2.) The rational. He first deduces the doctrine of the Trinity from Scripture, by a careful collation and combination of the texts, and then defends it against objections, and illustrates it by the analogies which he finds in nature generally, and in the human mind particularly. The Scripture argument is contained in the first seven books; the rational in the last eight. The first part is, of course, the most valuable of the two. Though the reader may not be able to agree with Augustin in his interpretation of some Scripture passages, particularly some which he cites from the Old Testament, he will certainly be impressed by the depth, acumen, and accuracy with which the Latin father reaches and exhausts the meaning of the acknowledged trinitarian texts. Augustin lived in an age when the Scriptures and the Greek and Roman classics were nearly all that the student had, upon which to expend his intellectual force. There was considerable metaphysics, it is true, but no physics, and little mathematics. There was consequently a more undivided and exclusive attention bestowed upon revealed religion as embodied in the Scriptures, and upon ethics and natural religion as contained in the classics, than has ever been bestowed by any subsequent period in Christendom. One result was that scripture was expounded by scripture; things spiritual by things spiritual. This appears in the exegetical part of this treatise. Augustin reasons out of the Scriptures; not out of metaphysics or physics.
The second, or speculative division of the work, is that which will be most foreign to the thinking of some trinitarians. In it they will find what seems to them to be a philosophy, rather than an interpretation of the word of God. We shall, therefore, in this introductory essay, specify some of the advantages, as it seems to us, of the general method of defending and illustrating the doctrine of the Trinity employed by Augustin and the patristic Trinitarians.
1. Fuller justice is done to Scripture by this method. Revelation denominates the first trinitarian person the Father, the second the Son, the third the Spirit. These terms are literal, not metaphorical; because the relations denoted by them are eternally in the essence. Scripture clearly teaches that the Father is such from eternity. Consequently, “paternity” (implied in the name Father) can no more be ascribed to the first person of the Godhead in a figurative sense, than eternity can be. For a person that is a father must be so in relation to a son. No son, no father. Consequently, an eternal Father implies an eternal Son. And the same reasoning holds true of the relation of the Father and Son to the Spirit. The terms Father, Son, and Spirit, in the baptismal formula and the apostolic benediction, must designate primary and eternal distinctions. The rite that initiates into the kingdom of God, certainly would not be administered in three names that denote only assumed and temporal relations of God; nor would blessings for time and eternity be invoked from God under such secondary names.
Hence, these trinal names given to God in the baptismal formula and the apostolic benediction, actually force upon the trinitarian theologian, the ideas of paternity, generation, filiation, spiration, and procession. He cannot reflect upon the implication of these names without forming these ideas, and finding himself necessitated to concede their literal validity and objective reality. He cannot say that the first person is the Father, and then deny that he “begets.” He cannot say that the second person is the Son, and then deny that he is “begotten.” He cannot say that the third person is the Spirit, and then deny that he “proceeds” by “spiration” (spiritus quia spiratus) from the Father and Son. When therefore Augustin, like the primitive fathers generally, endeavors to illustrate this eternal, necessary, and constitutional energizing and activity (opera ad intra) in the Divine Essence, whereby the Son issues from the Father and the Spirit from Father and Son, by the emanation of sunbeam from sun, light from light, river from fountain, thought from mind, word Edition: current; Page:  from thought—when the ternaries from nature and the human mind are introduced to elucidate the Trinity—nothing more is done than when by other well-known and commonly adopted analogies the Divine unity, or omniscence, or omnipresence, is sought to be illustrated. There is no analogy taken from the finite that will clear up the mystery of the infinite—whether it be the mystery of the eternity of God, or that of his trinity. But, at the same time, by the use of these analogies the mind is kept close up to the Biblical term or statement, and is not allowed to content itself with only a half-way understanding of it. Such a method brings thoroughness and clearness into the interpretation of the Word of God.
2. A second advantage in this method is, that it shows the doctrine of the Trinity to be inseparable from that of the Unity of God. The Deistical conception of the Divine unity is wholly different from the Christian. The former is that of natural religion, formed by the unassisted human mind in its reflection upon the Supreme Being. The latter is that of revealed religion, given to the human mind by inspiration. The Deistical unity is mere singleness. The Christian unity is a trinality. The former is a unit. The latter a true unity, and union. The former is meagre, having few contents. The latter is a plenitude—what St. Paul denominates “the fullness of the Godhead” (πλήρωμα τῆς θεότητος). Coloss. i. 9.
It follows, consequently, that the Divine unity cannot be discussed by itself without reference to trinality, as the Deist and the Socinian endeavor to do.1 Trinality belongs as necessarily and intrinsically to the Divine unity as eternity does to the Divine essence. “If,” says Athanasius (Oration I. 17) “there was not a Blessed Trinity from eternity, but only a unity existed first, which at length became a Trinity, it follows that the Holy Trinity must have been at one time imperfect, and at another time entire: imperfect until the Son came to be created, as the Arians maintain, and then entire afterwards.” If we follow the teachings of Revelation, and adopt the revealed idea of God, we may not discuss mere and simple unity, nor mere and simple trinality; but we must discuss unity in trinality, and trinality in unity. We may not think of a monad which originally, and in the order either of nature or of time, is not trinal, but becomes so. The instant there is a monad, there is a triad; the instant there is a unity, there are Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. The Christian Trinity is not that of Sabellius: namely, an original untrinal monad that subsequently, in the order of nature if not of time, becomes a triad; whereby four factors are introduced into the problem. God is not one and three, but one in three. There is no primary monad, as such, and without trinality, to which the three distinctions are secondary adjuncts. The monad, or essence, never exists in and by itself as untrinalized, as in the Sabellian scheme. It exists only as in the three Persons; only as trinalized. The Essence, consequently, is not prior to the Persons, either in the order of nature or of time, nor subsequent to them, but simultaneously and eternally in and with them.
The Primitive church took this ground with confidence. Unity and trinality were inseparable in their view. The term God meant for them the Trinity. A “theologian,” in their nomenclature, was a trinitarian. They called the Apostle John δ θεόλογος, because he was enlightened by the Holy Spirit to make fuller disclosures, in the preface to his Gospel, concerning the deity of the Logos and the doctrine of the Trinity, than were the other evangelists. And they gave the same epithet to Gregory Nazianzum, because of the acumen and insight of his trinitarian treatises. This work of Augustin adopts the same position, and defends it with an ability second to none.
3. A third advantage of this method of illustrating the doctrine of the Trinity is, that it goes to show that the personality of God depends upon the trinality of the Divine Essence—that Edition: current; Page:  if there are no interior distinctions in the Infinite Being, he cannot be self-contemplative, self-cognitive, or self-communing.
This is an important and valuable feature of the method in question, when viewed in its bearing upon the modern assertion that an Infinite Being cannot be personal. This treatise of Augustin does not develope the problem upon this point, but it leads to it. In illustrating the Trinity by the ternaries in nature, and especially in the human mind, he aims only to show that trinality of a certain kind does not conflict with unity of a certain kind. Memory, understanding, and will are three faculties, yet one soul. Augustin is content with elucidating the Divine unity by such illustrations. The elucidation of the Divine personality by them, was not attempted in his day nor in the Mediæval and Reformation churches. The conflict with pantheism forced this point upon the attention of the Modern church.
At the same time, these Christian fathers who took the problem of the Trinity into the centre of the Divine essence, and endeavored to show its necessary grounds there, prepared the way for showing, by the same method, that trinality is not only consistent with personality, but is actually indispensable to it. In a brief essay like this, only the briefest hints can be indicated.
If God is personal, he is self-conscious. Self-consciousness is, (1), the power which a rational spirit, or mind, has of making itself its own object; and, (2), of knowing that it has done so. If the first step is taken, and not the second, there is no self-consciousness. For the subject would not know that the object is the self. And the second step cannot be taken, if the first has not been. These two acts of a rational spirit, or mind, involve three distinctions in it, or three modes of it. The whole mind as a subject contemplates the very same whole mind as an object. Here are two distinctions, or modes of one mind. And the very same whole mind perceives that the contemplating subject and the contemplated object are one and the same essence or being. Here are three modes of one mind, each distinct from the others, yet all three going to make up the one self-conscious spirit. Unless there were these three distinctions, there would be no self-knowledge. Mere singleness, a mere subject without an object, is incompatible with self-consciousness.
In denying distinctions in the Divine Essence, while asserting its personality, Deism, with Socinianism and Mohammedanism, contends that God can be self-knowing and self-communing as a single subject without an object. The controversy, consequently, is as much between the deist and the psychologist, as it is between him and the trinitarian. It is as much a question whether his view of personality and self-consciousness is correct, as whether his interpretation of Scripture is. For the dispute involves the necessary conditions of personality. If a true psychology does not require trinality in a spiritual essence in order to its own self-contemplation, and self-knowledge, and self-communion, then the deist is correct; but if it does, then he is in error. That the study of self-consciousness in modern metaphysics has favored trinitarianism, is unquestionable. Even the spurious trinitarianism which has grown up in the schools of the later pantheism goes to show, that a trinal constitution is requisite in an essence, in order to explain self-consciousness, and that absolute singleness, or the absence of all interior distinctions, renders the problem insoluble.1
But the authority of Scripture is higher than that of psychology, and settles the matter. Revelation unquestionably discloses a deity who is “blessed forever;” whose blessedness is independent of the universe which he has made from nonentity, and who must therefore find all the conditions of blessedness within himself alone. He is blessed from eternity, in his own self-contemplation and self-communion. He does not need the universe in order Edition: current; Page:  that he may have an object which he can know, which he can love, and over which he can rejoice. “The Father knoweth the Son,” from all eternity (Matt. xi. 27); and “loveth the Son,” from all eternity (John iii. 35); and “glorifieth the Son,” from all eternity (John xvii. 5). Prior to creation, the Eternal Wisdom “was by Him as one brought up with Him, and was daily His delight, rejoicing always before Him” (Prov. viii. 30); and the Eternal Word “was in the beginning with God” (John i. 2); and “the Only Begotten Son (or God Only Begotten, as the uncials read) was eternally in the bosom of the Father” (John i. 18).
Here is society within the Essence, and wholly independent of the universe; and communion and blessedness resulting therefrom. But this is impossible to an essence without personal distinctions. Not the singular Unit of the deist, but the plural Unity of the trinitarian, explains this. A subject without an object could not know. What is there to be known? Could not love. What is there to be loved? Could not rejoice. What is there to rejoice over? And the object cannot be the universe. The infinite and eternal object of God’s infinite and eternal knowledge, love, and joy, cannot be his creation: because this is neither eternal, nor infinite. There was a time when the universe was not; and if God’s self-consciousness and blessedness depends upon the universe, there was a time when God was neither self-conscious nor blessed. The objective God for the subjective God must, therefore, be very God of very God, begotten not made, the eternal Son of the eternal Father.
The same line of reasoning applies to the third trinitarian person, but there is no need of going through with it. The history of opinion shows, that if the first two eternal distinctions are conceded, there is no denial of the reality and eternity of the third.1
The analogue derived from the nature of finite personality and self-consciousness has one great advantage—namely, that it illustrates the independence of the Divine personality and self-consciousness. The later pantheism (not the earlier of Spinoza) constructs a kind of trinity, but it is dependent upon the universe. God distinguishes Himself from the world, and thereby finds the object required for the subject. But this implies either that the world is eternal, or else, that God is not eternally self-conscious. The Christian trinitarianism, on the contrary, finds all the media and conditions of self-consciousness within the Divine Essence. God distinguishes himself from himself, not from the universe. The eternal Father beholds himself in the eternal Son, his alter ego, the “express image of his own person” (Heb. i. 3). God does not struggle gradually into self-consciousness, as in the Hegelian scheme, by the help of the universe. Before that universe was in existence, and in the solitude of his own eternity and self-sufficiency, he had within his own essence all the media and conditions of self-consciousness. And after the worlds were called into being, the Divine personality remained the same immutable and infinite self-knowledge, unaffected by anything in his handiwork.
While, however, this analogue from the conditions of finite personality approaches nearer to the eternal distinctions in the Godhead than does that ternary which Augustin employs—namely, memory, understanding, and will—yet like all finite analogies to the Infinite it is inadequate. For the subject-ego, object-ego, and ego-percipient, are not so essentially distinct and completely objective to each other, as are the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They cannot employ the personal pronouns in reference to each other. They cannot reciprocally perform acts and discharge functions towards each other, like the Edition: current; Page:  Divine Three. Revelation is explicit upon this point. It specifies at least the following twelve actions and relations, that incontestably prove the conscious distinctness and mutual objectivity of the persons of the Trinity. One divine person loves another (John iii. 35); dwells in another (John xiv. 10, 11); knows another (Matt. xi. 27); sends another (Gen. xvi. 7); suffers from another (Zech. xiii. 7-13); addresses another (Heb. i. 8); is the way to another (John xiv. 6); speaks of another (Luke iii. 22;) glorifies another (John xvii. 5); confers with another (Gen. i. 26; xi. 7); plans with another (Is. ix. 6); rewards another (Phil. ii. 5-11; Heb. ii. 9).
Such are some of the salient features of this important treatise upon the Trinity. It has its defects; but they pertain to the form more than to the matter; to arrangement and style more than to dogma. Literary excellence is not the forte of the patristic writers. Hardly any of them are literary artists. Lactantius among the Latins, and Chrysostom among the Greeks, are almost the only fathers that have rhetorical grace. And none of them approach the beauty of the classic writers, as seen in the harmonious flow and diction of Plato, and the exquisite finish of Horace and Catullus.
Augustin is prolix, repetitious, and sometimes leaves his theme to discuss cognate but distantly related subjects. This appears more in the last eight chapters, which are speculative, than in the first seven, which are scriptural. The material in this second division is capable of considerable compression. The author frequently employs two illustrations when one would suffice, and three or more when two are enough. He discusses many themes which are not strictly trinitarian.
Yet the patient student will derive some benefit from this discursiveness. He will find, for example, in this treatise on the Trinity, an able examination of the subject of miracles (Book III); of creation ex nihilo (III. ix); of vicarious atonement (IV. vii-xiv); of the faculty of memory (XI. x); and, incidentally, many other high themes are touched upon. Before such a contemplative intellect as that of Augustin, all truth lay spread out like the ocean, with no limits and no separating chasms. Everything is connected and fluid. Consequently, one doctrine inevitably leads to and merges in another, and the eager and intense inquirer rushes forward, and outward, and upward, and downward, in every direction. The only aim is to see all that can be seen, and state all that can be stated. The neglect of the form, and the anxiety after the substance, contribute to the discursiveness. Caring little for proportion in method, and nothing for elegance in diction, the writer, though bringing forth a vast amount of truth, does it at the expense of clearness, conciseness, and grace. Such is the case with the North African father—one of the most voluminous and prolix of authors, yet one of the most original, suggestive, and fertilizing of any.
And this particular treatise is perhaps as pregnant and suggestive as any that Augustin, or any other theologian, ever composed. The doctrine of the Trinity is the most immense of all the doctrines of religion. It is the foundation of theology. Christianity, in the last analysis, is Trinitarianism. Take out of the New Testament the persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and there is no God left. Take out of the Christian consciousness the thoughts and affections that relate to the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and there is no Christian consciousness left. The Trinity is the constitutive idea of the evangelical theology, and the formative idea of the evangelical experience. The immensity of the doctrine makes it of necessity a mystery; but a mystery which like night enfolds in its unfathomed depths the bright stars—points of light, compared with which there is no light so keen and so glittering. Mysterious as it is, the Trinity of Divine Revelation is the doctrine that holds in it all the hope of man; for it holds within it the infinite pity of the Incarnation and the infinite mercy of the Redemption.
And it shares its mysteriousness with the doctrine of the Divine Eternity. It is difficult Edition: current; Page:  to say which is most baffling to human comprehension, the all-comprehending, simultaneous, successionless consciousness of the Infinite One, or his trinal personality. Yet no theist rejects the doctrine of the Divine eternity because of its mystery. The two doctrines are antithetic and correlative. On one of the Northern rivers that flows through a narrow chasm whose depth no plummet has sounded, there stand two cliffs fronting each other, shooting their pinnacles into the blue ether, and sending their roots down to the foundations of the earth. They have named them Trinity and Eternity. So stand, antithetic and confronting, in the Christian scheme, the trinity and eternity of God.
The translation of this treatise is the work of the Rev. Arthur West Haddan, Hon. Canon of Worcester, who, according to a note of the publisher, died while it was passing through the press. It has been compared with the original, and a considerable number of alterations made. The treatise is exceedingly difficult to render into English—probably the most so of any in the author’s writings. The changes in some instances were necessary from a misconception of the original; but more often for the purpose of making the meaning of the translator himself more clear. It is believed that a comparison between the original and revised translation will show that the latter is the more intelligible. At the same time, the reviser would not be too confident that in every instance the exact meaning of Augustin has been expressed, by either the translator or reviser.
The annotations of the reviser upon important points in the treatise, it is hoped, will assist the reader in understanding Augustin’s reasoning, and also throw some light upon the doctrine of the Trinity.
The history of St. Augustin’s treatise on the Trinity, as gathered by Tillemont and others from his own allusions to it, may be briefly given. It is placed by him in his Retractations among the works written (which in the present case, it appears, must mean begun) in ad 400. In letters of ad 410, 414, and at the end of ad 415 (Ad Consentium, Ep. 120, and two Ad Evodium, Epp. 162, 169), it is referred to as still unfinished and unpublished. But a letter of ad 412 (Ad Marcellinum, Ep. 143) intimates that friends were at that time importuning him, although without success, to complete and publish it. And the letter to Aurelius, which was sent to that bishop with the treatise itself when actually completed, informs us that a portion of it, while it was still unrevised and incomplete, was in fact surreptitiously made public,—a proceeding which the letters above cited postpone apparently until at least after ad 415. It was certainly still in hand in ad 416, inasmuch as in Book XIII. a quotation occurs from the 12th Book of the De Civitate Dei; and another quotation in Book XV., from the 90th lecture on St. John, indicates most probably a date of at least a year later, viz. ad 417. The Retractations, which refer to it, are usually dated not later than ad 428. The letter to Bishop Aurelius also informs us that the work was many years in progress, and was begun in St. Augustin’s early manhood, and finished in his old age. We may infer from this evidence that it was written by him between ad 400, when he was forty-six years old, and had been Bishop of Hippo about four years, and ad 428 at the latest; but probably it was published ten or twelve years before this date. He writes of it, indeed, himself, as if the “nonum prematur in annum” very inadequately represented the amount of deliberate and patient thought which a subject so profound and so sacred demanded, and which he had striven to give to it; and as if, even at the very last, he shrank from publishing his work, and was only driven to do so in order to remedy the mischief of its partial and unauthorized publication.
His motive for writing on the subject may be learned from the treatise itself. It was not directed against any individual antagonist, or occasioned by any particular controversial emergency. In fact, his labors upon it were, he says, continually interrupted by the distraction of such controversies. Certain ingenious and subtle theories respecting types or resemblances of the Holy Trinity, traceable in human nature as being the image of God, seemed to him to supply, not indeed a logical proof, but a strong rational presumption, of the truth of the doctrine itself; and thus to make it incumbent upon him to expound and unfold them in order to meet rationalizing objectors upon (so to say) their own ground. He is careful not to deal with these analogies or images as if they either constituted a purely argumentative proof or exhausted the full meaning of the doctrine, upon both which assumptions such speculations have at all times been the fruitful parent both of presumptious theorizing and of grievous heresy. But he nevertheless employs them more affirmatively than would perhaps have been the case. While modern theologians would argue negatively, from the triplicity of independent faculties,—united, nevertheless, in the unity of a single human person,—that any presumption of reason against the Trinity of persons in the Godhead is thereby, if not removed, at least materially and enormously lessened, St. Augustin seems to argue positively from analogous grounds, as though they constituted a direct intimation of the doctrine itself. But he takes especial pains, at the same time, to dwell upon the incapacity of human thought to fathom the depths of the nature of God; and he carefully prefaces his reasonings by a statement of the Scripture evidence of the catholic doctrine as a matter of faith and not of reason, and by an explanation of difficult texts upon the subject. One of the most valuable portions, indeed, of the treatise is the eloquent and profound exposition given in this part of it of the rule of interpretation to be applied to Scripture language respecting the person of our Lord. It should be noticed, however, that a large proportion of St. Augustin’s scriptural exegesis Edition: current; Page:  is founded upon a close verbal exposition of the old Latin version, and is frequently not borne out by the original text. And the rule followed in rendering Scripture texts in the present translation has been, accordingly, wherever the argument in the context rests upon the variations of the old Latin, there to translate the words as St. Augustin gives them, while adhering otherwise to the language of the authorized English version. The reader’s attention may allowably be drawn to the language of Book V. c.x., and to its close resemblance to some of the most remarkable phrases of the Athanasian Creed, and again to the striking passage respecting miracles in Book III. c.v., and to that upon the nature of God at the beginning of Book V.; the last named of which seems to have suggested one of the profoundest passages in the profoundest of Dr. Newman’s University Sermons (p. 353, ed. 1843). It may be added, that the writings of the Greek Fathers on the subject were, if not wholly unknown, yet unfamiliar to Augustin, who quotes directly only the Latin work of Hilary of Poictiers.
It remains to say, that the translation here printed was made about four years since by a friend of the writer of this preface, and that the latter’s share in the work has been that of thoroughly revising and correcting it, and of seeing it through the press. He is therefore answerable for the work as now published.
In the Retractations (ii. 15) Augustin speaks of this work in the following terms:—
“I spent some years in writing fifteen books concerning the Trinity, which is God. When, however, I had not yet finished the thirteenth Book, and some who were exceedingly anxious to have the work were kept waiting longer than they could bear, it was stolen from me in a less correct state than it either could or would have been had it appeared when I intended. And as soon as I discovered this, having other copies of it, I had determined at first not to publish it myself, but to mention what had happened in the matter in some other work; but at the urgent request of brethren, whom I could not refuse, I corrected it as much as I thought fit, and finished and published it, with the addition, at the beginning, of a letter that I had written to the venerable Aurelius, Bishop of Carthage, in which I set forth, in the way of prologue, what had happened, what I had intended to do of myself, and what love of my brethren had forced me to do.”
The letter to which he here alludes is the following:—
“To the most blessed Lord, whom he reveres with most sincere love, to his holy brother and fellow-priest, Pope Aurelius, Augustin sends health in the Lord.
“I began as a very young man, and have published in my old age, some books concerning the Trinity, who is the supreme and true God. I had in truth laid the work aside, upon discovering that it had been prematurely, or rather surreptitiously, stolen from me before I had completed it, and before I had revised and put the finishing touches to it, as had been my intention. For I had not designed to publish the Books one by one, but all together, inasmuch as the progress of the inquiry led me to add the later ones to those which precede them. When, therefore, these people had hindered the fulfillment of my purpose (in that some of them had obtained access to the work before I intended), I had given over dictating it, with the idea of making my complaint public in some other work that I might write, in order that whoso could might know that the Books had not been published by myself, but had been taken away from my possession before they were in my own judgment fit for publication. Compelled, however, by the eager demands of many of my brethren, and above all by your command, I have taken the pains, by God’s help, to complete the work, laborious as it is; and as now corrected (not as I wished, but as I could, lest the Books should differ very widely from those which had surreptitiously got into people’s hands), I have sent them to your Reverence by my very dear son and fellow-deacon, and have allowed them to be heard, copied, and read by every one that pleases. Doubtless, if I could have fulfilled my original intention, although they would have contained the same sentiments, they would have been worked out much more thoroughly and clearly, so far as the difficulty of unfolding so profound a subject, and so far, too, as my own powers, might have allowed. There are some persons, however, who have the first four, or rather five, Books without the prefaces, and the twelfth with no small part of its later chapters omitted. But these, if they please and can, will amend the whole, if they become acquainted with the present edition. At any rate, I have to request that you will order this letter to be prefixed separately, but at the beginning of the Books. Farewell. Pray for me.”
in which the unity and equality of the supreme trinity is established from the sacred scriptures, and some texts alleged against the equality of the son are explained.
1. The following dissertation concerning the Trinity, as the reader ought to be informed, has been written in order to guard against the sophistries of those who disdain to begin with faith, and are deceived by a crude and perverse love of reason. Now one class of such men endeavor to transfer to things incorporeal and spiritual the ideas they have formed, whether through experience of the bodily senses, or by natural human wit and diligent quickness, or by the aid of art, from things corporeal; so as to seek to measure and conceive of the former by the latter. Others, again, frame whatever sentiments they may have concerning God according to the nature or affections of the human mind; and through this error they govern their discourse, in disputing concerning God, by distorted and fallacious rules. While yet a third class strive indeed to transcend the whole creation, which doubtless is changeable, in order to raise their thought to the unchangeable substance, which is God; but being weighed down by the burden of mortality, whilst they both would seem to know what they do not, and cannot know what they would, preclude themselves from entering the very path of understanding, by an over-bold affirmation of their own presumptuous judgments; choosing rather not to correct their own opinion when it is perverse, than to change that which they have once defended. And, indeed, this is the common disease of all the three classes which I have mentioned,—viz., both of those who frame their thoughts of God according to things corporeal, and of those who do so according to the spiritual creature, such as is the soul; and of those who neither regard the body nor the spiritual creature, and yet think falsely about God; and are indeed so much the further from the truth, that nothing can be found answering to their conceptions, either in the body, or in the made or created spirit, or in the Creator Himself. For he who thinks, for instance, that God is white or red, is in error; and yet these things are found in the body. Again, he who thinks of God as now forgetting and now remembering, or anything of the same kind, is none the less in error; and yet these things are found in the mind. But he who thinks that God is of such power as to have generated Himself, is so much the Edition: current; Page:  more in error, because not only does God not so exist, but neither does the spiritual nor the bodily creature; for there is nothing whatever that generates its own existence.1
2. In order, therefore, that the human mind might be purged from falsities of this kind, Holy Scripture, which suits itself to babes, has not avoided words drawn from any class of things really existing, through which, as by nourishment, our understanding might rise gradually to things divine and transcendent. For, in speaking of God, it has both used words taken from things corporeal, as when it says, “Hide me under the shadow of Thy wings;”2 and it has borrowed many things from the spiritual creature, whereby to signify that which indeed is not so, but must needs so be said: as, for instance, “I the Lord thy God am a jealous God;”3 and, “It repenteth me that I have made man.”4 But it has drawn no words whatever, whereby to frame either figures of speech or enigmatic sayings, from things which do not exist at all. And hence it is that they who are shut out from the truth by that third kind of error are more mischievously and emptily vain than their fellows; in that they surmise respecting God, what can neither be found in Himself nor in any creature. For divine Scripture is wont to frame, as it were, allurements for children from the things which are found in the creature; whereby, according to their measure, and as it were by steps, the affections of the weak may be moved to seek those things that are above, and to leave those things that are below. But the same Scripture rarely employs those things which are spoken properly of God, and are not found in any creature; as, for instance, that which was said to Moses, “I am that I am;” and, “I Am hath sent me to you.”5 For since both body and soul also are said in some sense to be, Holy Scripture certainly would not so express itself unless it meant to be understood in some special sense of the term. So, too, that which the Apostle says, “Who only hath immortality.”6 Since the soul also both is said to be, and is, in a certain manner immortal, Scripture would not say “only hath,” unless because true immortality is unchangeableness; which no creature can possess, since it belongs to the creator alone.7 So also James says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of Lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.”8 So also David, “Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed; but Thou art the same.”9
3. Further, it is difficult to contemplate and fully know the substance of God; who fashions things changeable, yet without any change in Himself, and creates things temporal, yet without any temporal movement in Hmself. And it is necessary, therefore, to purge our minds, in order to be able to see ineffably that which is ineffable; whereto not having yet attained, we are to be nourished by faith, and led by such ways as are more suited to our capacity, that we may be rendered apt and able to comprehend it. And hence the Apostle says, that “in Christ indeed are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge;”10 and yet has commended Him to us, as to babes in Christ, who, although already born again by His grace, yet are still carnal and psychical, not by that divine virtue wherein He is equal to the Father, but by that human infirmity whereby He was crucified. For he says, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and Him crucified;”11 and then he continues, “And I was with you in weakness, and in fear, and in much trembling.” And a little after he says to them, “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal,12 even as unto babes in Christ. I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.”13 There are some who are angry at language of this kind, and think it is used in slight to themselves, and for the most part prefer rather to believe that they who so speak to them have nothing to say, than that they themselves cannot understand what they have said. And sometimes, indeed, we do allege to them, not certainly that account of the case which they seek in their inquiries about God,—because neither can they themselves receive it, nor can we perhaps either apprehend or express it,—but such an account of it as to demonstrate to them how incapable and utterly unfit they are to understand that which they require of us. But they, on their parts, because Edition: current; Page:  they do not hear what they desire, think that we are either playing them false in order to conceal our own ignorance, or speaking in malice because we grudge them knowledge; and so go away indignant and perturbed.
4. Wherefore, our Lord God helping, we will undertake to render, as far as we are able, that very account which they so importunately demand: viz., that the Trinity is the one and only and true God, and also how the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are rightly said, believed, understood, to be of one and the same substance or essence; in such wise that they may not fancy themselves mocked by excuses on our part, but may find by actual trial, both that the highest good is that which is discerned by the most purified minds, and that for this reason it cannot be discerned or understood by themselves, because the eye of the human mind, being weak, is dazzled in that so transcendent light, unless it be invigorated by the nourishment of the righteousness of faith. First, however, we must demonstrate, according to the authority of the Holy Scriptures, whether the faith be so. Then, if God be willing and aid us, we may perhaps at least so far serve these talkative arguers—more puffed up than capable, and therefore laboring under the more dangerous disease—as to enable them to find something which they are not able to doubt, that so, in that case where they cannot find the like, they may be led to lay the fault to their own minds, rather than to the truth itself or to our reasonings; and thus, if there be anything in them of either love or fear towards God, they may return and begin from faith in due order: perceiving at length how healthful a medicine has been provided for the faithful in the holy Church, whereby a heedful piety, healing the feebleness of the mind, may render it able to perceive the unchangeable truth, and hinder it from falling headlong, through disorderly rashness, into pestilent and false opinion. Neither will I myself shrink from inquiry, if I am anywhere in doubt; nor be ashamed to learn, if I am anywhere in error.
5. Further let me ask of my reader, wherever, alike with myself, he is certain, there to go on with me; wherever, alike with myself, he hesitates, there to join with me in inquiring; wherever he recognizes himself to be in error, there to return to me; wherever he recognizes me to be so, there to call me back: so that we may enter together upon the path of charity, and advance towards Him of whom it is said, “Seek His face evermore.”1 And I would make this pious and safe agreement, in the presence of our Lord God, with all who read my writings, as well in all other cases as, above all, in the case of those which inquire into the unity of the Trinity, of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit; because in no other subject is error more dangerous, or inquiry more laborious, or the discovery of truth more profitable. If, then, any reader shall say, This is not well said, because I do not understand it; such an one finds fault with my language, not with my faith: and it might perhaps in very truth have been put more clearly; yet no man ever so spoke as to be understood in all things by all men. Let him, therefore, who finds this fault with my discourse, see whether he can understand other men who have handled similar subjects and questions, when he does not understand me: and if he can, let him put down my book, or even, if he pleases, throw it away; and let him spend labor and time rather on those whom he understands.2 Yet let him not think on that account that I ought to have been silent, because I have not been able to express myself so smoothly and clearly to him as those do whom he understands. For neither do all things, which all men have written, come into the hands of all. And possibly some, who are capable of understanding even these our writings, may not find those more lucid works, and may meet with ours only. And therefore it is useful that many persons should write many books, differing in style but not in faith, concerning even the same questions, that the matter itself may reach the greatest number—some in one way, some in another. But if he who complains that he has not understood these things has never been able to comprehend any careful and exact reasonings at all upon such subjects, let him in that case deal with himself by resolution and study, that he may Edition: current; Page:  know better; not with me by quarrellings and wranglings, that I may hold my peace. Let him, again, who says, when he reads my book, Certainly I understand what is said, but it is not true, assert, if he pleases, his own opinion, and refute mine if he is able. And if he do this with charity and truth, and take the pains to make it known to me (if I am still alive), I shall then receive the most abundant fruit of this my labor. And if he cannot inform myself, most willing and glad should I be that he should inform those whom he can. Yet, for my part, “I meditate in the law of the Lord,”1 if not “day and night,” at least such short times as I can; and I commit my meditations to writing, lest they should escape me through forgetfulness; hoping by the mercy of God that He will make me hold steadfastly all truths of which I feel certain; “but if in anything I be otherwise minded, that He will himself reveal even this to me,”2 whether through secret inspiration and admonition, or through His own plain utterances, or through the reasonings of my brethren. This I pray for, and this my trust and desire I commit to Him, who is sufficiently able to keep those things which He has given me, and to render those which He has promised.
6. I expect, indeed, that some, who are more dull of understanding, will imagine that in some parts of my books I have held sentiments which I have not held, or have not held those which I have. But their error, as none can be ignorant, ought not to be attributed to me, if they have deviated into false doctrine through following my steps without apprehending me, whilst I am compelled to pick my way through a hard and obscure subject: seeing that neither can any one, in any way, rightly ascribe the numerous and various errors of heretics to the holy testimonies themselves of the divine books; although all of them endeavor to defend out of those same Scriptures their own false and erroneous opinions. The law of Christ, that is, charity, admonishes me clearly, and commands me with a sweet constraint, that when men think that I have held in my books something false which I have not held, and that same falsehood displeases one and pleases another, I should prefer to be blamed by him who reprehends the falsehood, rather than praised by him who praises it. For although I, who never held the error, am not rightly blamed by the former, yet the error itself is rightly censured; whilst by the latter neither am I rightly praised, who am thought to have held that which the truth censures, nor the sentiment itself, which the truth also censures. Let us therefore essay the work which we have undertaken in the name of the Lord.
7. All those Catholic expounders of the divine Scriptures, both Old and New, whom I have been able to read, who have written before me concerning the Trinity, Who is God, have purposed to teach, according to the Scriptures, this doctrine, that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit intimate a divine unity of one and the same substance in an indivisible equality;3 and therefore that they are not three Gods, but one God: although the Father hath begotten the Son, and so He who is the Father is not the Son; and the Son is begotten by the Father, and so He who is the Son is not the Father; and the Holy Spirit is neither the Father nor the Son, but only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, Himself also co-equal with the Father and the Son, and pertaining to the unity of the Trinity. Yet not that this Trinity was born of the Virgin Mary, and crucified under Pontius Pilate, and buried, and rose again the third day, and ascended into heaven, but only the Son. Nor, again, that this Trinity descended in the form of a dove upon Jesus when He was baptized;4 nor that, on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord, when “there came a sound from heaven, as of a rushing mighty wind,”5 the same Trinity “sat upon each of them with cloven tongues like as of fire,” but only the Holy Spirit. Nor yet that this Trinity said from heaven, “Thou art my Son,”6 whether when He was baptized by John, or when the three disciples were with Him in the mount,7 or when the voice sounded, saying, “I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again;”8 but that it was a word of the Father only, spoken to the Son; although the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they are indivisible, so work indivisibly.9 This is also my faith, since it is the Catholic faith.
8. Some persons, however, find a difficulty in this faith; when they hear that the Father is God, and the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God, and yet that this Trinity is not three Gods, but one God; and they ask how they are to understand this: especially when it is said that the Trinity works indivisibly in everything that God works, and yet that a certain voice of the Father spoke, which is not the voice of the Son; and that none except the Son was born in the flesh, and suffered, and rose again, and ascended into heaven; and that none except the Holy Spirit came in the form of a dove. They wish to understand how the Trinity uttered that voice which was only of the Father; and how the same Trinity created that flesh in which the Son only was born of the Virgin; and how the very same Trinity itself wrought that form of a dove, in which the Holy Spirit only appeared. Yet, otherwise, the Trinity does not work indivisibly, but the Father does some things, the Son other things, and the Holy Spirit yet others: or else, if they do some things together, some severally, then the Trinity is not indivisible. It is a difficulty, too, to them, in what manner the Holy Spirit is in the Trinity, whom neither the Father nor the Son, nor both, have begotten, although He is the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. Since, then, men weary us with asking such questions, let us unfold to them, as we are able, whatever wisdom God’s gift has bestowed upon our weakness on this subject; neither “let us go on our way with consuming envy.”1 Should we say that we are not accustomed to think about such things, it would not be true; yet if we acknowledge that such subjects commonly dwell in our thoughts, carried away as we are by the love of investigating the truth, then they require of us, by the law of charity, to make known to them what we have herein been able to find out. “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (for, if the Apostle Paul, how much more must I, who lie far beneath his feet, count myself not to have apprehended!); but, according to my measure, “if I forget those things that are behind, and reach forth unto those things which are before, and press towards the mark for the prize of the high calling,”2 I am requested to disclose so much of the road as I have already passed, and the point to which I have reached, whence the course yet remains to bring me to the end. And those make the request, whom a generous charity compels me to serve. Needs must too, and God will grant that, in supplying them with matter to read, I shall profit myself also; and that, in seeking to reply to their inquiries, I shall myself likewise find that for which I was inquiring. Accordingly I have undertaken the task, by the bidding and help of the Lord my God, not so much of discoursing with authority respecting things I know already, as of learning those things by piously discoursing of them.
9. They who have said that our Lord Jesus Christ is not God, or not very God, or not with the Father the One and only God, or not truly immortal because changeable, are proved wrong by the most plain and unanimous voice of divine testimonies; as, for instance, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” For it is plain that we are to take the Word of God to be the only Son of God, of whom it is afterwards said, “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” on account of that birth of His incarnation, which was wrought in time of the Virgin. But herein is declared, not only that He is God, but also that He is of the same substance with the Father; because, after saying, “And the Word was God,” it is said also, “The same was in the beginning with God: all things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made.”3 Not simply “all things;” but only all things that were made, that is, the whole creature. From which it appears clearly, that He Himself was not made, by whom all things were made. And if He was not made, then He is not a creature; but if He is not a creature, then He is of the same substance with the Father. For all substance that is not God is creature; and all that is not creature is God.4 And if the Edition: current; Page:  Son is not of the same substance with the Father, then He is a substance that was made: and if He is a substance that was made, then all things were not made by Him; but “all things were made by Him,” therefore He is of one and the same substance with the Father. And so He is not only God, but also very God. And the same John most expressly affirms this in his epistle: “For we know that the Son of God is come, and hath given us an understanding, that we may know the true God, and that we may be in His true Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God, and eternal life.”1
10. Hence also it follows by consequence, that the Apostle Paul did not say, “Who alone has immortality,” of the Father merely; but of the One and only God, which is the Trinity itself. For that which is itself eternal life is not mortal according to any changeableness; and hence the Son of God, because “He is Eternal Life,” is also Himself understood with the Father, where it is said, “Who only hath immortality.” For we, too, are made partakers of this eternal life, and become, in our own measure, immortal. But the eternal life itself, of which we are made partakers, is one thing; we ourselves, who, by partaking of it, shall live eternally, are another. For if He had said, “Whom in His own time the Father will show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality;” not even so would it be necessarily understood that the Son is excluded. For neither has the Son separated the Father from Himself, because He Himself, speaking elsewhere with the voice of wisdom (for He Himself is the Wisdom of God),2 says, “I alone compassed the circuit of heaven.”3 And therefore so much the more is it not necessary that the words, “Who hath immortality,” should be understood of the Father alone, omitting the Son; when they are said thus: “That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukeable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: whom in His own time He will show, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honor and power everlasting. Amen.”4 In which words neither is the Father specially named, nor the Son, nor the Holy Spirit; but the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; that is, the One and only and true God, the Trinity itself.
11. But perhaps what follows may interfere with this meaning; because it is said, “Whom no man hath seen, nor can see:” although this may also be taken as belonging to Christ according to His divinity, which the Jews did not see, who yet saw and crucified Him in the flesh; whereas His divinity can in no wise be seen by human sight, but is seen with that sight with which they who see are no longer men, but beyond men. Rightly, therefore, is God Himself, the Trinity, understood to be the “blessed and only Potentate,” who “shows the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in His own time.” For the words, “Who only hath immortality,” are said in the same way as it is said, “Who only doeth wondrous things.”5 And I should be glad to know of whom they take these words to be said. If only of the Father, how then is that true which the Son Himself says, “For what things soever the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise?” Is there any, among wonderful works, more wonderful than to raise up and quicken the dead? Yet the same Son saith, “As the Father raiseth up the dead, and quickeneth them, even so the Son quickeneth whom He will.”6 How, then, does the Father alone “do wondrous things,” when these words allow us to understand neither the Father only, nor the Son only, but assuredly the one only true God, that is, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit?7
12. Also, when the same apostle says, “But to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him,”8 who can doubt that he speaks of all things which are created; as does John, when he says, “All things were made by Him”? I ask, therefore, of whom he speaks in another place: “For of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”9 For if of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so as to assign each clause severally to each person: of Him, that is to say, of the Father; through Him, that is to say, through the Son; in Him, that is to say, in the Holy Spirit,—it is manifest that the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one God, inasmuch as the words continue in the singular number, “To whom10 be glory for ever.” Edition: current; Page:  For at the beginning of the passage he does not say, “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge” of the Father, or of the Son, or of the Holy Spirit, but “of the wisdom and knowledge of God!” “How unsearchable are His judgments, and His ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been His counsellor? Or who hath first given to Him and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of Him, and through Him, and in Him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.”1 But if they will have this to be understood only of the Father, then in what way are all things by the Father, as is said here; and all things by the Son, as where it is said to the Corinthians, “And one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things,”2 and as in the Gospel of John, “All things were made by Him?” For if some things were made by the Father, and some by the Son, then all things were not made by the Father, nor all things by the Son; but if all things were made by the Father, and all things by the Son, then the same things were made by the Father and by the Son. The Son, therefore, is equal with the Father, and the working of the Father and the Son is indivisible. Because if the Father made even the Son, whom certainly the Son Himself did not make, then all things were not made by the Son; but all things were made by the Son: therefore He Himself was not made, that with the Father He might make all things that were made. And the apostle has not refrained from using the very word itself, but has said most expressly, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;”3 using here the name of God specially of the Father;4 as elsewhere, “But the head of Christ is God.”5
13. Similar evidence has been collected also concerning the Holy Spirit, of which those who have discussed the subject before ourselves have most fully availed themselves, that He too is God, and not a creature. But if not a creature, then not only God (for men likewise are called gods6), but also very God; and therefore absolutely equal with the Father and the Son, and in the unity of the Trinity consubstantial and co-eternal. But that the Holy Spirit is not a creature is made quite plain by that passage above all others, where we are commanded not to serve the creature, but the Creator;7 not in the sense in which we are commanded to “serve” one another by love,8 which is in Greek δουλεύειν, but in that in which God alone is served, which is in Greek λατρεύειν. From whence they are called idolaters who tender that service to images which is due to God. For it is this service concerning which it is said, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”9 For this is found also more distinctly in the Greek Scriptures, which have λατρεύσεις. Now if we are forbidden to serve the creature with such a service, seeing that it is written, “Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve” (and hence, too, the apostle repudiates those who worship and serve the creature more than the Creator), then assuredly the Holy Spirit is not a creature, to whom such a service is paid by all the saints; as says the apostle, “For we are the circumcision, which serve the Spirit of God,”10 which is in the Greek λατρεύοντες. For even most Latin copies also have it thus, “We who serve the Spirit of God;” but all Greek ones, or almost all, have it so. Although in some Latin copies we find, not “We worship the Spirit of God,” but, “We worship God in the Spirit.” But let those who err in this case, and refuse to give up to the more weighty authority, tell us whether they find this text also varied in the mss.: “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God?” Yet what can be more senseless or more profane, than that any one should dare to say that the members of Christ are the temple of one who, in their opinion, is a creature inferior to Christ? For the apostle says in another place, “Your bodies are members of Christ.” But if the members of Christ are also the temple of the Holy Spirit, then the Holy Spirit is not a creature; because we must needs owe to Him, of whom our body is the Edition: current; Page:  temple, that service wherewith God only is to be served, which in Greek is called λατρεία. And accordingly the apostle says, “Therefore glorify God in your body.”1
14. In these and like testimonies of the divine Scriptures, by free use of which, as I have said, our predecessors exploded such sophistries or errors of the heretics, the unity and equality of the Trinity are intimated to our faith. But because, on account of the incarnation of the Word of God for the working out of our salvation, that the man Christ Jesus might be the Mediator between God and men,2 many things are so said in the sacred books as to signify, or even most expressly declare, the Father to be greater than the Son; men have erred through a want of careful examination or consideration of the whole tenor of the Scriptures, and have endeavored to transfer those things which are said of Jesus Christ according to the flesh, to that substance of His which was eternal before the incarnation, and is eternal. They say, for instance, that the Son is less than the Father, because it is written that the Lord Himself said, “My Father is greater than I.”3 But the truth shows that after the same sense the Son is less also than Himself; for how was He not made less also than Himself, who “emptied4 Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant?” For He did not so take the form of a servant as that He should lose the form of God, in which He was equal to the Father. If, then, the form of a servant was so taken that the form of God was not lost, since both in the form of a servant and in the form of God He Himself is the same only-begotten Son of God the Father, in the form of God equal to the Father, in the form of a servant the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; is there any one who cannot perceive that He Himself in the form of God is also greater than Himself, but yet likewise in the form of a servant less than Himself? And not, therefore, without cause the Scripture says both the one and the other, both that the Son is equal to the Father, and that the Father is greater than the Son. For there is no confusion when the former is understood as on account of the form of God, and the latter as on account of the form of a servant. And, in truth, this rule for clearing the question through all the sacred Scriptures is set forth in one chapter of an epistle of the Apostle Paul, where this distinction is commended to us plainly enough. For he says, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God; but emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and was found in fashion5 as a man.”6 The Son of God, then, is equal to God the Father in nature, but less in “fashion.”7 For in the form of a servant which He took He is less than the Father; but in the form of God, in which also He was before He took the form of a servant, He is equal to the Father. In the form of God He is the Word, “by whom all things are made;”8 but in the form of a servant He was “made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.”9 In like manner, in the form of God He made man; in the form of a servant He was made man. For if the Father alone had made man without the Son, it would not have been written, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.”10 Therefore, because the form of God took the form of a servant, both is God and both is man; but both God, on account of God who takes; and both man, on account of man who is taken. For neither by that taking is the one of them turned and changed into the other: the Divinity is not changed into the creature, so as to cease to be Divinity; nor the creature into Divinity, so as to cease to be creature.
15. As for that which the apostle says, “And when all things shall be subdued unto Him, then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him:” either the text has been so turned, lest any one should think that the “fashion”11 of Christ, which He took according to the human creature, was to be transformed hereafter into the Divinity, or (to express it more precisely) the Godhead itself, who is not a creature, but is the unity of the Trinity,—a nature incorporeal, and unchangeable, and consubstantial, and co-eternal with itself; or if Edition: current; Page:  any one contends, as some have thought, that the text, “Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him,” is so turned in order that one may believe that very “subjection” to be a change and conversion hereafter of the creature into the substance or essence itself of the Creator, that is, that that which had been the substance of a creature shall become the substance of the Creator;—such an one at any rate admits this, of which in truth there is no possible doubt, that this had not yet taken place, when the Lord said, “My Father is greater than I.” For He said this not only before He ascended into heaven, but also before He had suffered, and had risen from the dead. But they who think that the human nature in Him is to be changed and converted into the substance of the Godhead, and that it was so said, “Then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him that put all things under Him,”—as if to say, Then also the Son of man Himself, and the human nature taken by the Word of God, shall be changed into the nature of Him who put all things under Him,—must also think that this will then take place, when, after the day of judgment, “He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” And hence even still, according to this opinion, the Father is greater than that form of a servant which was taken of the Virgin. But if some affirm even further, that the man Christ Jesus has already been changed into the substance of God, at least they cannot deny that the human nature still remained, when He said before His passion, “For my Father is greater than I;” whence there is no question that it was said in this sense, that the Father is greater than the form of a servant, to whom in the form of God the Son is equal. Nor let any one, hearing what the apostle says, “But when He saith all things are put under Him, it is manifest that He is excepted which did put all things under Him,”1 think the words, that He hath put all things under the Son, to be so understood of the Father, as that He should not think that the Son Himself put all things under Himself. For this the apostle plainly declares, when he says to the Philippians, “For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ: who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue2 all things unto Himself.”3 For the working of the Father and of the Son is indivisible. Otherwise, neither hath the Father Himself put all things under Himself, but the Son hath put all things under Him, who delivers the kingdom to Him, and puts down all rule and all authority and power. For these words are spoken of the Son: “When He shall have delivered up,” says the apostle, “the kingdom to God, even the Father; when He shall have put down4 all rule, and all authority, and all power.” For the same that puts down, also makes subject.
16. Neither may we think that Christ shall so give up the kingdom to God, even the Father, as that He shall take it away from Himself. For some vain talkers have thought even this. For when it is said, “He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” He Himself is not excluded; because He is one God together with the Father. But that word “until” deceives those who are careless readers of the divine Scriptures, but eager for controversies. For the text continues, “For He must reign, until He hath put all enemies under His feet;”5 as though, when He had so put them, He would no more reign. Neither do they perceive that this is said in the same way as that other text, “His heart is established: He shall not be afraid, until He see His desire upon His enemies.”6 For He will not then be afraid when He has seen it. What then means, “When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” as though God and the Father has not the kingdom now? But because He is hereafter to bring all the just, over whom now, living by faith, the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, reigns, to that sight which the same apostle calls “face to face;”7 therefore the words, “When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” are as much as to say, When He shall have brought believers to the contemplation of God, even the Father. For He says, “All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him.”8 The Father will then be revealed by the Son, “when He shall have put down all rule, and all authority, and all power;” that is, in such wise that there shall be no more need of any economy of similitudes, by means of angelic rulers, and authorities, and powers. Of whom that is not unfitly understood, which is said in the Song of Songs to the bride, “We will make thee borders9 of gold, with studs of silver, while the King sitteth at His Edition: current; Page:  table;”1 that is, as long as Christ is in His secret place: since “your life is hid with Christ in God; when Christ, who is our2 life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory.”3 Before which time, “we see now through a glass, in an enigma,” that is, in similitudes, “but then face to face.”4
17. For this contemplation is held forth to us as the end of all actions, and the everlasting fullness of joy. For “we are the sons of God; and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him; for we shall see Him as He is.”5 For that which He said to His servant Moses, “I am that I am; thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel, I Am hath sent me to you;”6 this it is which we shall contemplate when we shall live in eternity. For so it is said, “And this is life eternal, that they might know Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”7 This shall be when the Lord shall have come, and “shall have brought to light the hidden things of darkness;”8 when the darkness of this present mortality and corruption shall have passed away. Then will be our morning, which is spoken of in the Psalm, “In the morning will I direct my prayer unto Thee, and will contemplate Thee.”9 Of this contemplation I understand it to be said, “When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;” that is, when He shall have brought the just, over whom now, living by faith, the Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus, reigns, to the contemplation of God, even the Father. If herein I am foolish, let him who knows better correct me; to me at least the case seems as I have said.10 For we shall not seek anything else, when we shall have come to the contemplation of Him. But that contemplation is not yet, so long as our joy is in hope. For “hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for? But if we hope for that we see not, then do we with patience wait for it,”11 viz. “as long as the King sitteth at His table.”12 Then will take place that which is written, “In Thy presence is fullness of joy.”13 Nothing more than that joy will be required; because there will be nothing more than can be required. For the Father will be manifested to us, and that will suffice for us. And this much Philip had well understood, so that he said to the Lord, “Show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.” But he had not yet understood that he himself was able to say this very same thing in this way also: Lord, show Thyself to us, and it sufficeth us. For, that he might understand this, the Lord replied to him, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father.” But because He intended him, before he could see this, to live by faith, He went on to say, “Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me?”14 For “while we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: for we walk by faith, not by sight.”15 For contemplation is the recompense of faith, for which recompense our hearts are purified by faith; as it is written, “Purifying their hearts by faith.”16 And that our hearts are to be purified for this contemplation, is proved above all by this text, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”17 And that this is life eternal, God says in the Psalm, “With long life will I satisfy him, and show him my salvation.”18 Whether, therefore, we hear, Show us the Son; or whether we hear, Show us the Father; it is even all one, since neither can be manifested without the other. For they are one, as He also Himself says, “My Father and I are one.”19 Finally, on account of this very indivisibility, it suffices that sometimes the Father alone, or the Son alone, should be named, as hereafter to fill us with the joy of His countenance.
18. Neither is the Spirit of either thence excluded, that is, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son; which Holy Spirit is specially called “the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive.”20 For to have the fruition of God the Trinity, after whose image we are made, is indeed the fullness of our joy, than which there is no greater. On this account the Holy Spirit is sometimes spoken of as if He alone sufficed to our blessedness: and He does alone so suffice, because He cannot be divided from the Father and the Son; as the Father alone is sufficient, because He cannot be divided from the Son and the Holy Spirit; and the Son alone is sufficient because He cannot be divided from the Father and the Holy Spirit. For what does He mean by saying, “If ye love me, keep my commandments; and I will pray the Father, and He shall give Edition: current; Page:  you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever; even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive,”1 that is, the lovers of the world? For “the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God.”2 But it may perhaps seem, further, as if the words, “And I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter,” were so said as if the Son alone were not sufficient. And that place so speaks of the Spirit, as if He alone were altogether sufficient: “When He, the Spirit of truth, is come, He will guide you into all truth.”3 Pray, therefore, is the Son here excluded, as if He did not teach all truth, or as if the Holy Spirit were to fill up that which the Son could not fully teach? Let them say then, if it pleases them, that the Holy Spirit is greater than the Son, whom they are wont to call less. Or is it, forsooth, because it is not said, He alone,—or, No one else except Himself—will guide you into all truth, that they allow that the Son also may be believed to teach together with Him? In that case the apostle has excluded the Son from knowing those things which are of God, where he says, “Even so the things of God knoweth no one, but the Spirit of God:”4 so that these perverse men might, upon this ground, go on to say that none but the Holy Spirit teaches even the Son the things of God, as the greater teaches the less; to whom the Son Himself ascribes so much as to say, “But because I have said these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth; it is expedient for you that I go away: for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you.”5
But this is said, not on account of any inequality of the Word of God and of the Holy Spirit, but as though the presence of the Son of man with them would be a hindrance to the coming of Him, who was not less, because He did not “empty Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant,”6 as the Son did. It was necessary, then, that the form of a servant should be taken away from their eyes, because, through gazing upon it, they thought that alone which they saw to be Christ. Hence also is that which is said, “If ye loved me, ye would rejoice because I said, “I go unto the Father; for my Father is greater than I:”7 that is, on that account it is necessary for me to go to the Father, because, whilst you see me thus, you hold me to be less than the Father through that which you see; and so, being taken up with the creature and the “fashion” which I have taken upon me, you do not perceive the equality which I have with the Father. Hence, too, is this: “Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father.”8 For touch, as it were, puts a limit to their conception, and He therefore would not have the thought of the heart, directed towards Himself, to be so limited as that He should be held to be only that which He seemed to be. But the “ascension to the Father” meant, so to appear as He is equal to the Father, that the limit of the sight which sufficeth us might be attained there. Sometimes also it is said of the Son alone, that He himself sufficeth, and the whole reward of our love and longing is held forth as in the sight of Him. For so it is said, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father; and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.”9 Pray, because He has not here said, And I will show the Father also to him, has He therefore excluded the Father? On the contrary, because it is true, “I and my Father are one,” when the Father is manifested, the Son also, who is in Him, is manifested; and when the Son is manifested, the Father also, who is in Him, is manifested. As, therefore, when it is said, “And I will manifest myself to him,” it is understood that He manifests also the Father; so likewise in that which is said, “When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” it is understood that He does not take it away from Himself; since, when He shall bring believers to the contemplation of God, even the Father, doubtless He will bring them to the contemplation of Himself, who has said, “And I will manifest myself to him.” And so, consequently, when Judas had said to Him, “Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” Jesus answered and said to him, “If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”10 Behold, that He manifests not only Himself to him by whom He is loved, because He comes to him together with the Father, and abides with him.
19. Will it perhaps be thought, that when the Father and the Son make their abode with him who loves them, the Holy Spirit Edition: current; Page:  is excluded from that abode? What, then, is that which is said above of the Holy Spirit: “Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not: but ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and is in you”? He, therefore, is not excluded from that abode, of whom it is said, “He abideth with you, and is in you;” unless, perhaps, any one be so senseless as to think, that when the Father and the Son have come that they may make their abode with him who loves them, the Holy Spirit will depart thence, and (as it were) give place to those who are greater. But the Scripture itself meets this carnal idea; for it says a little above: “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may abide with you for ever.”1 He will not therefore depart when the Father and the Son come, but will be in the same abode with them eternally; because neither will He come without them, nor they without Him. But in order to intimate the Trinity, some things are separately affirmed, the Persons being also each severally named; and yet are not to be understood as though the other Persons were excluded, on account of the unity of the same Trinity and the One substance and Godhead of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.2
20. Our Lord Jesus Christ, therefore, will so deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father, Himself not being thence excluded, nor the Holy Spirit, when He shall bring believers to the contemplation of God, wherein is the end of all good actions, and everlasting rest, and joy which never will be taken from us. For He signifies this in that which He says: “I will see you again, and your heart shall rejoice; and your joy no man taketh from you.”3 Mary, sitting at the feet of the Lord, and earnestly listening to His word, foreshowed a similitude of this joy; resting as she did from all business, and intent upon the truth, according to that manner of which this life is capable, by which, however, to prefigure that which shall be for eternity. For while Martha, her sister, was cumbered about necessary business, which, although good and useful, yet, when rest shall have succeeded, is to pass away, she herself was resting in the word of the Lord. And so the Lord replied to Martha, when she complained that her sister did not help her: “Mary hath chosen the best part, which shall not be taken away from her.”4 He did not say that Martha was acting a bad part; but that “best part that shall not be taken away.” For that part which is occupied in the ministering to a need shall be “taken away” when the need itself has passed away. Since the reward of a good work that will pass away is rest that will not pass away. In that contemplation, therefore, God will be all in all; because nothing else but Himself will be required, but it will be sufficient to be enlightened by and to enjoy Him alone. And so he in whom “the Spirit maketh intercession with groanings which cannot be uttered,”5 says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I will seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to contemplate the beauty of the Lord.”6 For we shall then contemplate God, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, when the Mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father, so as no longer to make intercession for us, as our Mediator and Priest, Son of God and Son of man;7 but that He Himself too, in so far as He is a Priest that has taken the form of a servant for us, shall be put under Him who has put all things under Him, and under whom He has put all things: so that, in so far as He is God, He with Him will have put us under Himself; in so far as He is a Priest, He with us will be put under Him.8 And therefore as the [incarnate] Son is both God and man, it is rather to be said that the manhood in the Son is another substance [from the Son], than that the Son in the Father [is another substance from the Father]; just as Edition: current; Page:  the carnal nature of my soul is more another substance in relation to my soul itself, although in one and the same man, than the soul of another man is in relation to my soul.1
21. When, therefore, He “shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,”—that is, when He shall have brought those who believe and live by faith, for whom now as Mediator He maketh intercession, to that contemplation, for the obtaining of which we sigh and groan, and when labor and groaning shall have passed away,—then, since the kingdom will have been delivered up to God, even the Father, He will no more make intercession for us. And this He signifies, when He says: “These things have I spoken unto you in similitudes;2 but the time cometh when I shall no more speak unto you in similitudes,2 but I shall declare3 to you plainly of the Father:” that is, they will not then be “similitudes,” when the sight shall be “face to face.” For this it is which He says, “But I will declare to you plainly of the Father;” as if He said, I will plainly show you the Father. For He says, I will “declare” to you, because He is His word. For He goes on to say, “At that day ye shall ask in my name; and I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you: for the Father Himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God. I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.”4 What is meant by “I came forth from the Father,” unless this, that I have not appeared in that form in which I am equal to the Father, but otherwise, that is, as less than the Father, in the creature which I have taken upon me? And what is meant by “I am come into the world,” unless this, that I have manifested to the eyes even of sinners who love this world, the form of a servant which I took, making myself of no reputation? And what is meant by “Again, I leave the world,” unless this, that I take away from the sight of the lovers of this world that which they have seen? And what is meant by “I go to the Father,” unless this, that I teach those who are my faithful ones to understand me in that being in which I am equal to the Father? Those who believe this will be thought worthy of being brought by faith to sight, that is, to that very sight, in bringing them to which He is said to “deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father.” For His faithful ones, whom He has redeemed with His blood, are called His kingdom, for whom He now intercedes; but then, making them to abide in Himself there, where He is equal to the Father, He will no longer pray the Father for them. “For,” He says, “the Father Himself loveth you.” For indeed He “prays,” in so far as He is less than the Father; but as He is equal with the Father, He with the Father grants. Wherefore He certainly does not exclude Himself from that which He says, “The Father Himself loveth you;” but He means it to be understood after that manner which I have above spoken of, and sufficiently intimated,—namely, that for the most part each Person of the Trinity is so named, that the other Persons also may be understood. Accordingly, “For the Father Himself loveth you,” is so said that by consequence both the Son and the Holy Spirit also may be understood: not that He does not now love us, who spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all;5 but God loves us, such as we shall be, not such as we are, For such as they are whom He loves, such are they whom He keeps eternally; which shall then be, when He who now maketh intercession for us shall have “delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father,” so as no longer to ask the Father, because the Father Himself loveth us. But for what deserving, except of faith, by which we believe before we see that which is promised? For by this faith we shall arrive at sight; so that He may love us, being such, as He loves us in order that we may become; and not such, as He hates us because we are, and exhorts and enables us to wish not to be always.
22. Wherefore, having mastered this rule for interpreting the Scriptures concerning the Son of God, that we are to distinguish in them what relates to the form of God, in which He is equal to the Father, and what to the form of a servant which He took, in which He is less than the Father; we shall not be disquieted by apparently contrary and mutually repugnant sayings of the sacred books. For both the Son and the Holy Spirit, according to the form of God, are equal to the Father, Edition: current; Page:  because neither of them is a creature, as we have already shown: but according to the form of a servant He is less than the Father, because He Himself has said, “My Father is greater than I;”1 and He is less than Himself, because it is said of Him, He emptied Himself;”2 and He is less than the Holy Spirit, because He Himself says, “Whosoever speaketh a word against the Son of man, it shall be forgiven him; but whosoever speaketh against the Holy Ghost, it shall not be forgiven Him.”3 And in the Spirit too He wrought miracles, saying: “But if I with the Spirit of God cast out devils, no doubt the kingdom of God is come upon you.”4 And in Isaiah He says,—in the lesson which He Himself read in the synagogue, and showed without a scruple of doubt to be fulfilled concerning Himself,—“The Spirit of the Lord God,” He says, “is upon me: because He hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek He hath sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives,”5 etc.: for the doing of which things He therefore declares Himself to be “sent,” because the Spirit of God is upon Him. According to the form of God, all things were made by Him;6 according to the form of a servant, He was Himself made of a woman, made under the law.7 According to the form of God, He and the Father are one;8 according to the form of a servant, He came not to do His own will, but the will of Him that sent Him.9 According to the form of God, “As the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself;”10 according to the form of a servant, His “soul is sorrowful even unto death;” and, “O my Father,” He says, “if it be possible, let this cup pass from me.”11 According to the form of God, “He is the True God, and eternal life;”12 according to the form of a servant, “He became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”13—23. According to the form of God, all things that the Father hath are His,14 and “All mine,” He says, “are Thine, and Thine are mine;”15 according to the form of a servant, the doctrine is not His own, but His that sent Him.16
Again, “Of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven; neither the Son, but the Father.”17 For He is ignorant of this, as making others ignorant; that is, in that He did not so know as at that time to show His disciples:18 as it was said to Abraham, “Now I know that thou fearest God,”19 that is, now I have caused thee to know it; because he himself, being tried in that temptation, became known to himself. For He was certainly going to tell this same thing to His disciples at the fitting time; speaking of which yet future as if past, He says, “Henceforth I call you not servants, but friends; for the servant knoweth not what his Lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you;”20 which He had not yet done, but spoke as though He had already done it, because He certainly would do it. For He says to the disciples themselves, “I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now.”21 Among which is to be understood also, “Of the day and hour.” For the apostle also says, “I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and Him crucified;”22 because he was speaking to those who were not able to receive higher things concerning the Godhead of Christ. To whom also a little while after he says, “I could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal.”23 He was “ignorant,” therefore, among them of that which they were not able to know from him. And that only he said that he knew, which it was fitting that they should know from him. In short, he knew among the perfect what he knew not among babes; for he there says: “We speak wisdom among them that are perfect.”24 For a man is said Edition: current; Page:  not to know what he hides, after that kind of speech, after which a ditch is called blind which is hidden. For the Scriptures do not use any other kind of speech than may be found in use among men, because they speak to men.
24. According to the form of God, it is said, “Before all the hills He begat me,”1 that is, before all the loftinesses of things created; and, “Before the dawn I begat Thee,”2 that is, before all times and temporal things: but according to the form of a servant, it is said, “The Lord created me in the beginning of His ways.”3 Because, according to the form of God, He said, “I am the truth;” and according to the form of a servant, “I am the way.”4 For, because He Himself, being the first-begotten of the dead,5 made a passage to the kingdom of God to life eternal for His Church, to which He is so the Head as to make the body also immortal, therefore He was “created in the beginning of the ways” of God in His work. For, according to the form of God, He is the beginning,6 that also speaketh unto us, in which “beginning” God created the heaven and the earth;7 but according to the form of a servant, “He is a bridegroom coming out of His chamber.”8 According to the form of God, “He is the first-born of every creature, and He is before all things and by him all things consist;” according to the form of a servant, “He is the head of the body, the Church.”9 According to the form of God, “He is the Lord of glory.”10 From which it is evident that He Himself glorifies His saints: for, “Whom He did predestinate, them He also called; and whom He called, them He also justified; and whom He justified, them He also glorified.”11 Of Him accordingly it is said, that He justifieth the ungodly;12 of Him it is said, that He is just and a justifier.13 If, therefore, He has also glorified those whom He has justified, He who justifies, Himself also glorifies; who is, as I have said, the Lord of glory. Yet, according to the form of a servant, He replied to His disciples, when inquiring about their own glorification: “To sit on my right hand and on my left is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared by my Father.”14
25. But that which is prepared by His Father is prepared also by the Son Himself, because He and the Father are one.15 For we have already shown, by many modes of speech in the divine Scriptures, that, in this Trinity, what is said of each is also said of all, on account of the indivisible working of the one and same substance. As He also says of the Holy Spirit, “If I depart, I will send Him unto you.”16 He did not say, We will send; but in such way as if the Son only should send Him, and not the Father; while yet He says in another place, “These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you; but the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, He shall teach you all things.”17 Here again it is so said as if the Son also would not send Him, but the Father only. As therefore in these texts, so also where He says, “But for them for whom it is prepared by my Father,” He meant it to be understood that He Himself, with the Father, prepares seats of glory for those for whom He will. But some one may say: There, when He spoke of the Holy Spirit, He so says that He Himself will send Him, as not to deny that the Father will send Him; and in the other place, He so says that the Father will send Him, as not to deny that He will do so Himself; but here He expressly says, “It is not mine to give,” and so goes on to say that these things are prepared by the Father. But this is the very thing which we have already laid down to be said according to the form of a servant: viz., that we are so to understand “It is not mine to give,” as if it were said, This is not in the power of man to give; that so He may be understood to give it through that wherein He is God equal to the Father. “It is not mine,” He says, “to give;” that is, I do not give these things by human power, but “to those for whom it is prepared by my Father;” but then take care you understand also, that if “all things which the Father hath are mine,”18 then this certainly is mine also, and I with the Father have prepared these things.
26. For I ask again, in what manner this is said, “If any man hear not my words, I will not judge him?”19 For perhaps He has said here, “I will not judge him,” in the same sense as there, “It is not mine to give.” But what follows here? “I came not,” He says, “to judge the world, but to save the world;” and then He adds, “He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him.” Now here we should understand the Father, unless He had added, “The word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” Well, then, will neither the Son judge, because He says, “I will not judge him,” nor the Father, but the word which the Son hath spoken? Nay, Edition: current; Page:  but hear what yet follows: “For I,” He says, “have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, He gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak; and I know that His commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.” If therefore the Son judges not, but “the word which the Son hath spoken;” and the word which the Son hath spoken therefore judges, because the Son “hath not spoken of Himself, but the Father who sent Him gave Him a commandment what He should say, and what He should speak:” then the Father assuredly judges, whose word it is which the Son hath spoken; and the same Son Himself is the very Word of the Father. For the commandment of the Father is not one thing, and the word of the Father another; for He hath called it both a word and a commandment. Let us see, therefore, whether perchance, when He says, “I have not spoken of myself,” He meant to be understood thus,—I am not born of myself. For if He speaks the word of the Father, then He speaks Himself,1 because He is Himself the Word of the Father. For ordinarily He says, “The Father gave to me;” by which He means it to be understood that the Father begat Him: not that He gave anything to Him, already existing and not possessing it; but that the very meaning of, To have given that He might have, is, To have begotten that He might be. For it is not, as with the creature, so with the Son of God before the incarnation and before He took upon Him our flesh, the Only-begotten by whom all things were made; that He is one thing, and has another: but He is in such way as to be what He has. And this is said more plainly, if any one is fit to receive it, in that place where He says: “For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.”2 For He did not give to Him, already existing and not having life, that He should have life in Himself; inasmuch as, in that He is, He is life. Therefore “He gave to the Son to have life in Himself” means, He begat the Son to be unchangeable life, which is life eternal. Since, therefore, the Word of God is the Son of God, and the Son of God is “the true God and eternal life,”3 as John says in his Epistle; so here, what else are we to acknowledge when the Lord says, “The word which I have spoken, the same shall judge him at the last day,”4 and calls that very word the word of the Father and the commandment of the Father, and that very commandment everlasting life?” “And I know,” He says, “that His commandment is life everlasting.”
27. I ask, therefore, how we are to understand, “I will not judge him; but the Word which I have spoken shall judge him:” which appears from what follows to be so said, as if He would say, I will not judge; but the Word of the Father will judge. But the Word of the Father is the Son of God Himself. Is it to be so understood: I will not judge, but I will judge? How can this be true, unless in this way: viz., I will not judge by human power, because I am the Son of man; but I will judge by the power of the Word, because I am the Son of God? Or if it still seems contradictory and inconsistent to say, I will not judge, but I will judge; what shall we say of that place where He says, “My doctrine is not mine?” How “mine,” when “not mine?” For He did not say, This doctrine is not mine, but “My doctrine is not mine:” that which He called His own, the same He called not His own. How can this be true, unless He has called it His own in one relation; not His own, in another? According to the form of God, His own; according to the form of a servant, not His own. For when He says, “It is not mine, but His that sent me,”5 He makes us recur to the Word itself. For the doctrine of the Father is the Word of the Father, which is the Only Son. And what, too, does that mean, “He that believeth on me, believeth not on me?”6 How believe on Him, yet not believe on Him? How can so opposite and inconsistent a thing be understood—“Whoso believeth on me,” He says, “believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me;”—unless you so understand it, Whoso believeth on me believeth not on that which he sees, lest our hope should be in the creature; but on Him who took the creature, whereby He might appear to human eyes, and so might cleanse our hearts by faith, to contemplate Himself as equal to the Father? So that in turning the attention of believers to the Father, and saying, “Believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me,” He certainly did not mean Himself to be separated from the Father, that is, from Him that sent Him; but that men might so believe on Himself, as they believe on the Father, to whom He is equal. And this He says in express terms in another place, “Ye believe in God, believe also in me:”7 that is, in the same way as you believe in God, so also believe in me; because I and the Father are One God. As therefore, here, He has as it were withdrawn Edition: current; Page:  the faith of men from Himself, and transferred it to the Father, by saying, “Believeth not on me, but on Him that sent me,” from whom nevertheless He certainly did not separate Himself; so also, when He says, “It is not mine to give, but [it shall be given to them] for whom it is prepared by my Father,” it is I think plain in what relation both are to be taken. For that other also is of the same kind, “I will not judge;” whereas He Himself shall judge the quick and dead.1 But because He will not do so by human power, therefore, reverting to the Godhead, He raises the hearts of men upwards; which to lift up, He Himself came down.
28. Yet unless the very same were the Son of man on account of the form of a servant which He took, who is the Son of God on account of the form of God in which He is; Paul the apostle would not say of the princes of this world, “For had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.”2 For He was crucified after the form of a servant, and yet “the Lord of glory” was crucified. For that “taking” was such as to make God man, and man God. Yet what is said on account of what, and what according to what, the thoughtful, diligent, and pious reader discerns for himself, the Lord being his helper. For instance, we have said that He glorifies His own, as being God, and certainly then as being the Lord of glory; and yet the Lord of glory was crucified, because even God is rightly said to have been crucified, not after the power of the divinity, but after the weakness of the flesh:3 just as we say, that He judges as God, that is, by divine power, not by human; and yet the man Himself will judge, just as the Lord of glory was crucified: for so He expressly says, “When the Son of man shall come in His glory, and all the holy angels with Him, and before Him shall be gathered all nations;”4 and the rest that is foretold of the future judgment in that place even to the last sentence. And the Jews, inasmuch as they will be punished in that judgment for persisting in their wickedness, as it is elsewhere written, “shall look upon Him whom they have pierced.”5 For whereas both good and bad shall see the Judge of the quick and dead, without doubt the bad will not be able to see Him, except after the form in which He is the Son of man; but yet in the glory wherein He will judge, not in the lowliness wherein He was judged. But the ungodly without doubt will not see that form of God in which He is equal to the Father. For they are not pure in heart; and “Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.”6 And that sight is face to face,7 the very sight that is promised as the highest reward to the just, and which will then take place when He “shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father;” and in this “kingdom” He means the sight of His own form also to be understood, the whole creature being made subject to God, including that wherein the Son of God was made the Son of man. Because, according to this creature, “The Son also Himself shall be subject unto Him, that put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.”8 Otherwise if the Son of God, judging in the form in which He is equal to the Father, shall appear when He judges to the ungodly also; what becomes of that which He promises, as some great thing, to him who loves Him, saying, “And I will love him, and will manifest myself to him?”9 Wherefore He will judge as the Son of man, yet not by human power, but by that whereby He is the Son of God; and on the other hand, He will judge as the Son of God, yet not appearing in that [unincarnate] form in which He is God equal to the Father, but in that [incarnate form] in which He is the Son of man.10
29. Therefore both ways of speaking may be used; the Son of man will judge, and, the Son of man will not judge: since the Son of man will judge, that the text may be true which says, “When the Son of man shall come, then before Him shall be gathered all nations;” and the Son of man will not judge, that the text may be true which says, “I will not judge him;”11 and, “I seek not mine own glory: there is One that seeketh and judgeth.”12 For in respect to this, that in the judgment, not the form of God, but the form of the Son of man will appear, the Father Himself will not judge; for according to this Edition: current; Page:  it is said, “For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” Whether this is said after that mode of speech which we have mentioned above, where it is said, “So hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself,”1 that it should signify that so He begat the Son; or, whether after that of which the apostle speaks, saying, “Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name:”—(For this is said of the Son of man, in respect to whom the Son of God was raised from the dead; since He, being in the form of God equal to the Father, wherefrom He “emptied” Himself by taking the form of a servant, both acts and suffers, and receives, in that same form of a servant, what the apostle goes on to mention: “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross; wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name; that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, in the Glory of God the Father:”2)—whether then the words, “He hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” are said according to this or that mode of speech; it sufficiently appears from this place, that if they were said according to that sense in which it is said, “He hath given to the Son to have life in Himself,” it certainly would not be said, “The Father judgeth no man.” For in respect to this, that the Father hath begotten the Son equal to Himself, He judges with Him. Therefore it is in respect to this that it is said, that in the judgment, not the form of God, but the form of the Son of man will appear. Not that He will not judge, who hath committed all judgment unto the Son, since the Son saith of Him, “There is One that seeketh and judgeth:” but it is so said, “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son;” as if it were said, No one will see the Father in the judgment of the quick and the dead, but all will see the Son: because He is also the Son of man, so that He can be seen even by the ungodly, since they too shall see Him whom they have pierced.
30. Lest, however, we may seem to conjecture this rather than to prove it clearly, let us produce a certain and plain sentence of the Lord Himself, by which we may show that this was the cause why He said, “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son,” viz. because He will appear as Judge in the form of the Son of man, which is not the form of the Father, but of the Son; nor yet that form of the Son in which He is equal to the Father, but that in which He is less than the Father; in order that, in the judgment, He may be visible both to the good and to the bad. For a little while after He says, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on Him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but shall pass3 from death unto life.” Now this life eternal is that sight which does not belong to the bad. Then follows, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, The hour is coming, and now is, when the dead shall hear the voice of the Son of God, and they that hear shall live.”4 And this is proper to the godly, who so hear of His incarnation, as to believe that He is the Son of God, that is, who so receive Him, as made for their sakes less than the Father, in the form of a servant, that they believe Him equal to the Father, in the form of God. And thereupon He continues, enforcing this very point, “For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself.” And then He comes to the sight of His own glory, in which He shall come to judgment; which sight will be common to the ungodly and to the just. For He goes on to say, “And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.”5 I think nothing can be more clear. For inasmuch as the Son of God is equal to the Father, He does not receive this power of executing judgment, but He has it with the Father in secret; but He receives it, so that the good and the bad may see Him judging, inasmuch as He is the Son of man. Since the sight of the Son of man will be shown to the bad also: for the sight of the form of God will not be shown except to the pure in heart, for they shall see God; that is, to the godly only, to whose love He promises this very thing, that He will show Himself to them. And see, accordingly, what follows: “Marvel not at this,” He says. Why does He forbid us to marvel, unless it be that, in truth, every one marvels who does not understand, that therefore He said the Father gave Him power also to execute judgment, because He is the Son of man; whereas, it might rather have been anticipated that He would say, since He is the Son of God? But because the wicked are not able to see the Son of God as He is in the form of God equal to the Father, Edition: current; Page:  but yet it is necessary that both the just and the wicked should see the Judge of the quick and dead, when they will be judged in His presence; “Marvel not at this,” He says, “for the hour is coming, in the which all that are in the graves shall hear His voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of damnation.”1 For this purpose, then, it was necessary that He should therefore receive that power, because He is the Son of man, in order that all in rising again might see Him in the form in which He can be seen by all, but by some to damnation, by others to life eternal. And what is life eternal, unless that sight which is not granted to the ungodly? “That they might know Thee,” He says, “the One true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent.”2 And how are they to know Jesus Christ Himself also, unless as the One true God, who will show Himself to them; not as He will show Himself, in the form of the Son of man, to those also that shall be punished?3
31. He is “good,” according to that sight, according to which God appears to the pure in heart; for “truly God is good unto Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart.”4 But when the wicked shall see the Judge, He will not seem good to them; because they will not rejoice in their heart to see Him, but all “kindreds of the earth shall then wail because of Him,”5 namely, as being reckoned in the number of all the wicked and unbelievers. On this account also He replied to him, who had called Him Good Master, when seeking advice of Him how he might attain eternal life, “Why askest thou me about good?6 there is none good but One, that is, God.”7 And yet the Lord Himself, in another place, calls man good: “A good man,” He says, “out of the good treasure of his heart, bringeth forth good things: and an evil man, out of the evil treasure of his heart, bringeth forth evil things.”8 But because that man was seeking eternal life, and eternal life consists in that contemplation in which God is seen, not for punishment, but for everlasting joy; and because he did not understand with whom he was speaking, and thought Him to be only the Son of man:9 Why, He says, askest thou me about good? that is, with respect to that form which thou seest, why askest thou about good, and callest me, according to what thou seest, Good Master? This is the form of the Son of man, the form which has been taken, the form that will appear in judgment, not only to the righteous, but also to the ungodly; and the sight of this form will not be for good to those who are wicked. But there is a sight of that form of mine, in which when I was, I thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but in order to take this form I emptied myself.10 That one God, therefore, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, who will not appear, except for joy which cannot be taken away from the just; for which future joy he sighs, who says, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that will I seek after; that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord:”11 that one God, therefore, Himself, I say, is alone good, for this reason, that no one sees Him for sorrow and wailing, but only for salvation and true joy. If you understand me after this latter form, then I am good; but if according to that former only, then why askest thou me about good? If thou art among those who “shall look upon Him whom they have pierced,”12 that very sight itself will be evil to them, because it will be penal. That after this meaning, then, the Lord said, “Why askest thou me about good? there is none good but One, that is, God,” is probable upon those proofs which I have alleged, because that sight of God, whereby we shall contemplate the substance of God unchangeable and invisible to human eyes (which is promised to the saints alone; which the Apostle Paul speaks of, as “face to face;”13 and of which the Apostle John says, “We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is;”14 and of which it is said, “One thing have I desired of the Lord, that I may behold the beauty of the Lord,” and of which the Lord Himself says, “I will both love him, and will manifest myself to him;”15 and on account of which alone we cleanse our hearts by faith, that we may be those “pure in heart who are blessed for they shall see God:”16 and whatever Edition: current; Page:  else is spoken of that sight: which whosoever turns the eye of love to seek it, may find most copiously scattered through all the Scriptures),—that sight alone, I say, is our chief good, for the attaining of which we are directed to do whatever we do aright. But that sight of the Son of man which is foretold, when all nations shall be gathered before Him, and shall say to Him, “Lord, when saw we Thee an hungered, or thirsty, etc.?” will neither be a good to the ungodly, who shall be sent into everlasting fire, nor the chief good to the righteous. For He still goes on to call these to the kingdom which has been prepared for them from the foundation of the world. For, as He will say to those, “Depart into everlasting fire;” so to these, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you.” And as those will go into everlasting burning; so the righteous will go into life eternal. But what is life eternal, except “that they may know Thee,” He says, “the One true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent?”1 but know Him now in that glory of which He says to the Father, “Which I had with Thee before the world was.”2 For then He will deliver up the kingdom to God, even the Father,3 that the good servant may enter into the joy of his Lord,4 and that He may hide those whom God keeps in the hiding of His countenance from the confusion of men, namely, of those men who shall then be confounded by hearing this sentence; of which evil hearing “the righteous man shall not be afraid”5 if only he be kept in “the tabernacle,” that is, in the true faith of the Catholic Church, from “the strife of tongues,”6 that is, from the sophistries of heretics. But if there is any other explanation of the words of the Lord, where He says, “Why asketh thou me about good? there is none good, but One, that is, God;” provided only that the substance of the Father be not therefore believed to be of greater goodness than that of the Son, according to which He is the Word by whom all things were made; and if there is nothing in it abhorrent from sound doctrine; let us securely use it, and not one explanation only, but as many as we are able to find. For so much the more powerfully are the heretics proved wrong, the more outlets are open for avoiding their snares. But let us now start afresh, and address ourselves to the consideration of that which still remains.
augustin pursues his defense of the equality of the trinity; and in treating of the sending of the son and of the holy spirit, and of the various appearances of god, demonstrates that he who is sent is not therefore less than he who sends, because the one has sent, the other has been sent; but that the trinity, being in all things equal, and alike in its own nature unchangeable and invisible and omnipresent, works indivisibly in each sending or appearance.
When men seek to know God, and bend their minds according to the capacity of human weakness to the understanding of the Trinity; learning, as they must, by experience, the wearisome difficulties of the task, whether from the sight itself of the mind striving to gaze upon light unapproachable, or, indeed, from the manifold and various modes of speech employed in the sacred writings (wherein, as it seems to me, the mind is nothing else but roughly exercised, in order that it may find sweetness when glorified by the grace of Christ);—such men, I say, when they have dispelled every ambiguity, and arrived at something certain, ought of all others most easily to make allowance for those who err in the investigation of so deep a secret. But there are two things most hard to bear with, in the case of those who are in error: hasty assumption before the truth is made plain; and, when it has been made plain, defence of the falsehood thus hastily assumed. From which two faults, inimical as they are to the finding out of the truth, and to the handling of the divine and sacred books, should God, as I pray and hope, defend and protect me with the shield of His good will,1 and with the grace of His mercy, I will not be slow to search out the substance of God, whether through His Scripture or through the creature. For both of these are set forth for our contemplation to this end, that He may Himself be sought, and Himself be loved, who inspired the one, and created the other. Nor shall I be afraid of giving my opinion, in which I shall more desire to be examined by the upright, than fear to be carped at by the perverse. For charity, most excellent and unassuming, gratefully accepts the dovelike eye; but for the dog’s tooth nothing remains, save either to shun it by the most cautious humility, or to blunt it by the most solid truth; and far rather would I be censured by any one whatsoever, than be praised by either the erring or the flatterer. For the lover of truth need fear no one’s censure. For he that censures, must needs be either enemy or friend. And if an enemy reviles, he must be borne with: but a friend, if he errs, must be taught; if he teaches, listened to. But if one who errs praises you, he confirms your error; if one who flatters, he seduces you into error. “Let the righteous,” therefore, “smite me, it shall be a kindness; and let him reprove me; but the oil of the sinner shall not anoint my head.”2
2. Wherefore, although we hold most firmly, concerning our Lord Jesus Christ, what may be called the canonical rule, as it is both disseminated through the Scriptures, and has been demonstrated by learned and Catholic handlers of the same Scriptures, namely, that the Son of God is both understood Edition: current; Page:  to be equal to the Father according to the form of God in which He is, and less than the Father according to the form of a servant which He took;1 in which form He was found to be not only less than the Father, but also less than the Holy Spirit; and not only so, but less even than Himself,—not than Himself who was, but than Himself who is; because, by taking the form of a servant, He did not lose the form of God, as the testimonies of the Scriptures taught us, to which we have referred in the former book: yet there are some things in the sacred text so put as to leave it ambiguous to which rule they are rather to be referred; whether to that by which we understand the Son as less, in that He has taken upon Him the creature, or to that by which we understand that the Son is not indeed less than, but equal to the Father, but yet that He is from Him, God of God, Light of light. For we call the Son God of God; but the Father, God only; not of God. Whence it is plain that the Son has another of whom He is, and to whom He is Son; but that the Father has not a Son of whom He is, but only to whom He is father. For every son is what he is, of his father, and is son to his father; but no father is what he is, of his son, but is father to his son.2
3. Some things, then, are so put in the Scriptures concerning the Father and the Son, as to intimate the unity and equality of their substance; as, for instance, “I and the Father are one;”3 and, “Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God;”4 and whatever other texts there are of the kind. And some, again, are so put that they show the Son as less on account of the form of a servant, that is, of His having taken upon Him the creature of a changeable and human substance; as, for instance, that which says, “For my Father is greater than I;”5 and, “The Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son.” For a little after he goes on to say, “And hath given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of man.” And further, some are so put, as to show Him at that time neither as less nor as equal, but only to intimate that He is of the Father; as, for instance, that which says, “For as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself;” and that other: “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do.”6 For if we shall take this to be therefore so said, because the Son is less in the form taken from the creature, it will follow that the Father must have walked on the water, or opened the eyes with clay and spittle of some other one born blind, and have done the other things which the Son appearing in the flesh did among men, before the Son did them;7 in order that He might be able to do those things, who said that the Son was not able to do anything of Himself, except what He hath seen the Father do. Yet who, even though he were mad, would think this? It remains, therefore, that these texts are so expressed, because the life of the Son is unchangeable as that of the Father is, and yet He is of the Father; and the working of the Father and of the Son is indivisible, and yet so to work is given to the Son from Him of whom He Himself is, that is, from the Father; and the Son so sees the Father, as that He is the Son in the very seeing Him. For to be of the Father, that is, to be born of the Father, is to Him nothing else than to see the Father; and to see Him working, is nothing else than to work with Him: but therefore not from Himself, because He is not from Himself. And, therefore, those things which “He sees the Father do, these also doeth the Son likewise,” because He is of the Father. For He neither does other things in like manner, as a painter paints other pictures, in the same way as he sees others to have been painted by another man; nor the same things in a different manner, as the body expresses the same letters, which the mind has thought; but “whatsoever things,” saith He, “the Father doeth, these same things also doeth the Son likewise.”8 He has said both “these same things,” and “likewise;” and hence the working of both the Father and the Son is indivisible and equal, but it is from the Father to the Son. Therefore the Son cannot do anything of Himself, except what He seeth the Father do. From this rule, then, whereby the Scriptures so speak as to mean, not to set forth one as less than another, but only to show which is of which, some have drawn this meaning, as if the Son were said to be less. And some among ourselves who are more unlearned and least instructed in these things, Edition: current; Page:  endeavoring to take these texts according to the form of a servant, and so mis-interpreting them, are troubled. And to prevent this, the rule in question is to be observed, whereby the Son is not less, but it is simply intimated that He is of the Father, in which words not His inequality but His birth is declared.
4. There are, then, some things in the sacred books, as I began by saying, so put, that it is doubtful to which they are to be referred: whether to that rule whereby the Son is less on account of His having taken the creature; or whether to that whereby it is intimated that although equal, yet He is of the Father. And in my opinion, if this is in such way doubtful, that which it really is can neither be explained nor discerned, then such passages may without danger be understood according to either rule, as that, for instance, “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me.”1 For this may both be taken according to the form of a servant, as we have already treated it in the former book;2 or according to the form of God, in which He is in such way equal to the Father, that He is yet of the Father. For according to the form of God, as the Son is not one and His life another, but the life itself is the Son; so the Son is not one and His doctrine another, but the doctrine itself is the Son. And hence, as the text, “He hath given life to the Son,” is no otherwise to be understood than, He hath begotten the Son, who is life; so also when it is said, He hath given doctrine to the Son, it may be rightly understood to mean, He hath begotten the Son, who is doctrine; so that, when it is said, “My doctrine is not mine, but His who sent me,” it is so to be understood as if it were, I am not from myself, but from Him who sent me.
5. For even of the Holy Spirit, of whom it is not said, “He emptied Himself, and took upon Him the form of a servant;” yet the Lord Himself says, “Howbeit, when He the Spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth. For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear that shall He speak; and He will show you things to come. He shall glorify me; for He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” And except He had immediately gone on to say after this, “All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that He shall take of mine, and shall show it unto you;”3 it might, perhaps, have been believed that the Holy Spirit was so born of Christ, as Christ is of the Father. Since He had said of Himself, “My doctrine is not mine, but His that sent me;” but of the Holy Spirit, “For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever he shall hear, that shall He speak;” and, “For He shall receive of mine, and shall show it unto you.” But because He has rendered the reason why He said, “He shall receive of mine” (for He says, “All things that the Father hath are mine; therefore said I, that He shall take of mine”); it remains that the Holy Spirit be understood to have of that which is the Father’s, as the Son also hath. And how can this be, unless according to that which we have said above, “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth which proceedeth from the Father, He shall testify of me”?4 He is said, therefore, not to speak of Himself, in that He proceedeth from the Father; and as it does not follow that the Son is less because He said, “The Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” (for He has not said this according to the form of a servant, but according to the form of God, as we have already shown, and these words do not set Him forth as less than, but as of the Father), so it is not brought to pass that the Holy Spirit is less, because it is said of Him, “For He shall not speak of Himself, but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak;” for the words belong to Him as proceeding from the Father. But whereas both the Son is of the Father, and the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father, why both are not called sons, and both not said to be begotten, but the former is called the one only-begotten Son, and the latter, viz. the Holy Spirit, neither son nor begotten, because if begotten, then certainly a son, we will discuss in another place, if God shall grant, and so far as He shall grant.5
6. But here also let them wake up if they can, who have thought this, too, to be a testimony on their side, to show that the Father Edition: current; Page:  is greater than the Son, because the Son hath said, “Father, glorify me.” Why, the Holy Spirit also glorifies Him. Pray, is the Spirit, too, greater than He? Moreover, if on that account the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, because He shall receive of that which is the Son’s, and shall therefore receive of that which is the Son’s because all things that the Father has are the Son’s also; it is evident that when the Holy Spirit glorifies the Son, the Father glorifies the Son. Whence it may be perceived that all things that the Father hath are not only of the Son, but also of the Holy Spirit, because the Holy Spirit is able to glorify the Son, whom the Father glorifies. But if he who glorifies is greater than he whom he glorifies, let them allow that those are equal who mutually glorify each other. But it is written, also, that the Son glorifies the Father; for He says, “I have glorified Thee on the earth.”1 Truly let them beware lest the Holy Spirit be thought greater than both, because He glorifies the Son whom the Father glorifies, while it is not written that He Himself is glorified either by the Father or by the Son.
7. But being proved wrong so far, men be-take themselves to saying, that he who sends is greater than he who is sent: therefore the Father is greater than the Son, because the Son continually speaks of Himself as being sent by the Father; and the Father is also greater than the Holy Spirit, because Jesus has said of the Spirit, “Whom the Father will send in my name;”2 and the Holy Spirit is less than both, because both the Father sends Him, as we have said, and the Son, when He says, “But if I depart, I will send Him unto you.” I first ask, then, in this inquiry, whence and whither the Son was sent. “I,” He says, “came forth from the Father, and am come into the world.”3 Therefore, to be sent, is to come forth forth from the Father, and to come into the world. What, then, is that which the same evangelist says concerning Him, “He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not;” and then he adds, “He came unto His own?”4 Certainly He was sent thither, whither He came; but if He was sent into the world, because He came forth from the Father, then He both came into the world and was in the world. He was sent therefore thither, where He already was. For consider that, too, which is written in the prophet, that God said, “Do not I fill heaven and earth?”5 If this is said of the Son (for some will have it understood that the Son Himself spoke either by the prophets or in the prophets), whither was He sent except to the place where He already was? For He who says, “I fill heaven and earth,” was everywhere. But if it is said of the Father, where could He be without His own word and without His own wisdom, which “reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly ordereth all things?”6 But He cannot be anywhere without His own Spirit. Therefore, if God is everywhere, His Spirit also is everywhere. Therefore, the Holy Spirit, too, was sent thither, where He already was. For he, too, who finds no place to which he might go from the presence of God, and who says, “If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there; if I shall go down into hell, behold, Thou art there;” wishing it to be understood that God is present everywhere, named in the previous verse His Spirit; for He says, “Whither shall I go from Thy Spirit? or whither shall I flee from Thy presence?”7
8. For this reason, then, if both the Son and the Holy Spirit are sent thither where they were, we must inquire, how that sending, whether of the Son or of the Holy Spirit, is to be understood; for of the Father alone, we nowhere read that He is sent. Now, of the Son, the apostle writes thus: “But when the fullness of the time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeem them that were under the law.”8 “He sent,” he says, “His Son, made of a woman.” And by this term, woman,9 what Catholic does not know that he did not wish to signify the privation of virginity; but, according to a Hebraism, the difference of sex? When, therefore, he says, “God sent His Son, made of a woman,” he sufficiently shows that the Son was “sent” in this very way, in that He was “made of a woman.” Therefore, in that He was born of God, He was in the world; but in that He was born of Mary, He was sent and came into the world. Moreover, He could not be sent by the Father without the Holy Spirit, not only because the Father, when He sent Him, that is, when He made Him of a woman, is certainly understood not to have so made Him without His own Spirit; but also because it is most plainly and expressly said in the Gospel in answer to the Virgin Mary, when she asked of the angel, Edition: current; Page:  “How shall this be?” “The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee, and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee.”1 And Matthew says, “She was found with child of the Holy Ghost.”2 Although, too, in the prophet Isaiah, Christ Himself is understood to say of His own future advent, “And now the Lord God and His Spirit hath sent me.”3
9. Perhaps some one may wish to drive us to say, that the Son is sent also by Himself, because the conception and childbirth of Mary is the working of the Trinity, by whose act of creating all things are created. And how, he will go on to say, has the Father sent Him, if He sent Himself? To whom I answer first, by asking him to tell me, if he can, in what manner the Father hath sanctified Him, if He hath sanctified Himself? For the same Lord says both; “Say ye of Him,” He says, “whom the Father hath sanctified and sent into the world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God;”4 while in another place He says, “And for their sake I sanctify myself.”5 I ask, also, in what manner the Father delivered Him, if He delivered Himself? For the Apostle Paul says both: “Who,” he says, “spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all;”6 while elsewhere he says of the Saviour Himself, “Who loved me, and delivered Himself for me.”7 He will reply, I suppose, if he has a right sense in these things, Because the will of the Father and the Son is one, and their working indivisible. In like manner, then, let him understand the incarnation and nativity of the Virgin, wherein the Son is understood as sent, to have been wrought by one and the same operation of the Father and of the Son indivisibly; the Holy Spirit certainly not being thence excluded, of whom it is expressly said, “She was found with child by the Holy Ghost.” For perhaps our meaning will be more plainly unfolded, if we ask in what manner God sent His Son. He commanded that He should come, and He, complying with the commandment, came. Did He then request, or did He only suggest? But whichever of these it was, certainly it was done by a word, and the Word of God is the Son of God Himself. Wherefore, since the Father sent Him by a word, His being sent was the work of both the Father and His Word; therefore the same Son was sent by the Father and the Son, because the Son Himself is the Word of the Father. For who would embrace so impious an opinion as to think the Father to have uttered a word in time, in order that the eternal Son might thereby be sent and might appear in the flesh in the fullness of time? But assuredly it was in that Word of God itself which was in the beginning with God and was God, namely, in the wisdom itself of God, apart from time, at what time that wisdom must needs appear in the flesh. Therefore, since without any commencement of time, the Word was in the beginning, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, it was in the Word itself without any time, at what time the Word was to be made flesh and dwell among us.8 And when this fullness of time had come, “God sent His Son, made of a woman,”9 that is, made in time, that the Incarnate Word might appear to men; while it was in that Word Himself, apart from time, at what time this was to be done; for the order of times is in the eternal wisdom of God without time. Since, then, that the Son should appear in the flesh was wrought by both the Father and the Son, it is fitly said that He who appeared in that flesh was sent, and that He who did not appear in it, sent Him; because those things which are transacted outwardly before the bodily eyes have their existence from the inward structure (apparatu) of the spiritual nature, and on that account are fitly said to be sent. Further, that form of man which He took is the person of the Son, not also of the Father; on which account the invisible Father, together with the Son, who with the Father is invisible, is said to have sent the same Son by making Him visible. But if He became visible in such way as to cease to be invisible with the Father, that is, if the substance of the invisible Word were turned by a change and transition into a visible creature, then the Son would be so understood to be sent by the Father, that He would be found to be only sent; not also, with the Father, sending. But since He so took the form of a servant, as that the unchangeable form of God remained, it is clear that that which became apparent in the Son was done by the Father and the Son not being apparent; that is, that by the invisible Father, with the invisible Son, the same Son Himself was sent so as to be visible. Why, therefore, does He say, “Neither came I of myself?” This, we may now say, is said according to the form of a servant, in the same way as it is said, “I judge no man.”10
10. If, therefore, He is said to be sent, in so far as He appeared outwardly in the bodily creature, who inwardly in His spiritual nature is always hidden from the eyes of mortals, it is now easy to understand also of the Holy Edition: current; Page:  Spirit why He too is said to be sent. For in due time a certain outward appearance of the creature was wrought, wherein the Holy Spirit might be visibly shown; whether when He descended upon the Lord Himself in a bodily shape as a dove,1 or when, ten days having past since His ascension, on the day of Pentecost a sound came suddenly from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and cloven tongues like as of fire were seen upon them, and it sat upon each of them.2 This operation, visibly exhibited, and presented to mortal eyes, is called the sending of the Holy Spirit; not that His very substance appeared, in which He himself also is invisible and unchangeable, like the Father and the Son, but that the hearts of men, touched by things seen outwardly, might be turned from the manifestation in time of Him as coming to His hidden eternity as ever present.
11. It is, then, for this reason nowhere written, that the Father is greater than the Holy Spirit, or that the Holy Spirit is less than God the Father, because the creature in which the Holy Spirit was to appear was not taken in the same way as the Son of man was taken, as the form in which the person of the Word of God Himself should be set forth; not that He might possess the word of God, as other holy and wise men have possessed it, but “above His fellows;”3 not certainly that He possessed the word more than they, so as to be of more surpassing wisdom than the rest were, but that He was the very Word Himself. For the word in the flesh is one thing, and the Word made flesh is another; i.e. the word in man is one thing, the Word that is man is another. For flesh is put for man, where it is said, “The Word was made flesh;”4 and again, “And all flesh shall see the salvation of God.”5 For it does not mean flesh without soul and without mind; but “all flesh,” is the same as if it were said, every man. The creature, then, in which the Holy Spirit should appear, was not so taken, as that flesh and human form were taken, of the Virgin Mary. For the Spirit did not beatify the dove, or the wind, or the fire, and join them for ever to Himself and to His person in unity and “fashion.”6 Nor, again, is the nature of the Holy Spirit mutable and changeable; so that these things were not made of the creature, but He himself was turned and changed first into one and then into another, as water is changed into ice. But these things appeared at the seasons at which they ought to have appeared, the creature serving the Creator, and being changed and converted at the command of Him who remains immutably in Himself, in order to signify and manifest Him in such way as it was fit He should be signified and manifested to mortal men. Accordingly, although that dove is called the Spirit;7 and in speaking of that fire, “There appeared unto them,” he says, “cloven tongues, like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them; and they began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance;”8 in order to show that the Spirit was manifested by that fire, as by the dove; yet we cannot call the Holy Spirit both God and a dove, or both God and fire, in the same way as we call the Son both God and man; nor as we call the Son the Lamb of God; which not only John the Baptist says, “Behold the Lamb of God,”9 but also John the Evangelist sees the Lamb slain in the Apocalypse.10 For that prophetic vision was not shown to bodily eyes through bodily forms, but in the spirit through spiritual images of bodily things. But whosoever saw that dove and that fire, saw them with their eyes. Although it may perhaps be disputed concerning the fire, whether it was seen by the eyes or in the spirit, on account of the form of the sentence. For the text does not say, They saw cloven tongues like fire, but, “There appeared to them.” But we are not wont to say with the same meaning, It appeared to me; as we say, I saw. And in those spiritual visions of corporeal images the usual expressions are, both, It appeared to me; and, I saw: but in those things which are shown to the eyes through express corporeal forms, the common expression is not, It appeared to me; but, I saw. There may, therefore, be a question raised respecting that fire, how it was seen; whether within in the spirit as it were outwardly, or really outwardly before the eyes of the flesh. But of that dove, which is said to have descended in a bodily form, no one ever doubted that it was seen by the eyes. Nor, again, as we call the Son a Rock (for it is written, “And that Rock was Christ”11), can we so call the Spirit a dove or fire. For that rock was a thing already created, and after the mode of its action was Edition: current; Page:  called by the name of Christ, whom it signified; like the stone placed under Jacob’s head, and also anointed, which he took in order to signify the Lord;1 or as Isaac was Christ, when he carried the wood for the sacrifice of himself.2 A particular significative action was added to those already existing things; they did not, as that dove and fire, suddenly come into being in order simply so to signify. The dove and the fire, indeed, seem to me more like that flame which appeared to Moses in the bush,3 or that pillar which the people followed in the wilderness,4 or the thunders and lightnings which came when the Law was given in the mount.5 For the corporeal form of these things came into being for the very purpose, that it might signify something, and then pass away.6
12. The Holy Spirit, then, is also said to be sent, on account of these corporeal forms which came into existence in time, in order to signify and manifest Him, as He must needs be manifested, to human senses; yet He is not said to be less than the Father, as the Son, because He was in the form of a servant, is said to be; because that form of a servant inhered in the unity of the person of the Son, but those corporeal forms appeared for a time, in order to show what was necessary to be shown, and then ceased to be. Why, then, is not the Father also said to be sent, through those corporeal forms, the fire of the bush, and the pillar of cloud or of fire, and the lightnings in the mount, and whatever other things of the kind appeared at that time, when (as we have learned from Scripture testimony) He spake face to face with the fathers, if He Himself was manifested by those modes and forms of the creature, as exhibited and presented corporeally to human sight? But if the Son was manifested by them, why is He said to be sent so long after, when He was made of a woman, as the apostle says, “But when the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman,”7 seeing that He was sent also before, when He appeared to the fathers by those changeable forms of the creature? Or if He cannot rightly be said to be sent, unless when the Word was made flesh, why is the Holy Spirit said to be sent, of whom no such incarnation was ever wrought? But if by those visible things, which are put before us in the Law and in the prophets, neither the Father nor the Son but the Holy Spirit was manifested, why also is He said to be sent now, when He was sent also before after these modes?
13. In the perplexity of this inquiry, the Lord helping us, we must ask, first, whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit; or whether, sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, sometimes the Holy Spirit; or whether it was without any distinction of persons, in such way as the one and only God is spoken of, that is, that the Trinity itself appeared to the Fathers by those forms of the creature. Next, whichever of these alternatives shall have been found or thought true, whether for this purpose only the creature was fashioned, wherein God, as He judged it suitable at that time, should be shown to human sight; or whether angels, who already existed, were so sent, as to speak in the person of God, taking a corporeal form from the corporeal creature, for the purpose of their ministry, as each had need; or else, according to the power the Creator has given them, changing and converting their own body itself, to which they are not subject, but govern it as subject to themselves, into whatever appearances they would that were suited and apt to their several actions. Lastly, we shall discern that which it was our purpose to ask, viz. whether the Son and the Holy Spirit were also sent before; and, if they were so sent, what difference there is between that sending, and the one which we read of in the Gospel; or whether in truth neither of them were sent, except when either the Son was made of the Virgin Mary, or the Holy Spirit appeared in a visible form, whether in the dove or in tongues of fire.
14. Let us therefore say nothing of those who, with an over carnal mind, have thought the nature of the Word of God, and the Wisdom, which, “remaining in herself, maketh all things new,”8 whom we call the only Son of God, not only to be changeable, but also to be visible. For these, with more audacity than religion, bring a very dull heart to the inquiry into divine things. For whereas the soul is a spiritual substance, and whereas itself also was made, yet could not be made Edition: current; Page:  by any other than by Him by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing is made,1 it, although changeable, is yet not visible; and this they have believed to be the case with the Word Himself and with the Wisdom of God itself, by which the soul was made; whereas this Wisdom is not only invisible, as the soul also is, but likewise unchangeable, which the soul is not. It is in truth the same unchangeableness in it, which is referred to when it was said, “Remaining in herself she maketh all things new.” Yet these people, endeavoring, as it were, to prop up their error in its fall by testimonies of the divine Scriptures, adduce the words of the Apostle Paul; and take that, which is said of the one only God, in whom the Trinity itself is understood, to be said only of the Father, and neither of the Son nor of the Holy Spirit: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, be honor and glory for ever and ever;”2 and that other passage, “The blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.”3 How these passages are to be understood, I think we have already discoursed sufficiently.4
15. But they who will have these texts understood only of the Father, and not of the Son or the Holy Spirit, declare the Son to be visible, not by having taken flesh of the Virgin, but aforetime also in Himself. For He Himself, they say, appeared to the eyes of the Fathers. And if you say to them, In whatever manner, then, the Son is visible in Himself, in that manner also He is mortal in Himself; so that it plainly follows that you would have this saying also understood only of the Father, viz., “Who only hath immortality;” for if the Son is mortal from having taken upon Him our flesh, then allow that it is on account of this flesh that He is also visible: they reply, that it is not on account of this flesh that they say that the Son is mortal; but that, just as He was also before visible, so He was also before mortal. For if they say the Son is mortal from having taken our flesh, then it is not the Father alone without the Son who hath immortality; because His Word also has immortality, by which all things were made. For He did not therefore lose His immortality, because He took mortal flesh; seeing that it could not happen even to the human soul, that it should die with the body, when the Lord Himself says, “Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.”5 Or, forsooth, also the Holy Spirit took flesh: concerning whom certainly they will, without doubt, be troubled to say—if the Son is mortal on account of taking our flesh—in what manner they understand that the Father only has immortality without the Son and the Holy Spirit, since, indeed, the Holy Spirit did not take our flesh; and if He has not immortality, then the Son is not mortal on account of taking our flesh; but if the Holy Spirit has immortality, then it is not said only of the Father, “Who only hath immortality.” And therefore they think they are able to prove that the Son in Himself was mortal also before the incarnation, because changeableness itself is not unfitly called mortality, according to which the soul also is said to die; not because it is changed and turned into body, or into some substance other than itself, but because, whatever in its own selfsame substance is now after another mode than it once was, is discovered to be mortal, in so far as it has ceased to be what it was. Because then, say they, before the Son of God was born of the Virgin Mary, He Himself appeared to our fathers, not in one and the same form only, but in many forms; first in one form, then in another; He is both visible in Himself, because His substance was visible to mortal eyes, when He had not yet taken our flesh, and mortal, inasmuch as He is changeable. And so also the Holy Spirit, who appeared at one time as a dove, and another time as fire. Whence, they say, the following texts do not belong to the Trinity, but singularly and properly to the Father only: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only wise God;” and, “Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see.”
16. Passing by, then, these reasoners, who are unable to know the substance even of the soul, which is invisible, and therefore are very far indeed from knowing that the substance of the one and only God, that is, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, remains ever not only invisible, but also unchangeable, and that hence it possesses true and real immortality; let us, who deny that God, whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Edition: current; Page:  Spirit, ever appeared to bodily eyes, unless through the corporeal creature made subject to His own power; let us, I say—ready to be corrected, if we are reproved in a fraternal and upright spirit, ready to be so, even if carped at by an enemy, so that he speak the truth—in catholic peace and with peaceful study inquire, whether God indiscriminately appeared to our fathers before Christ came in the flesh, or whether it was any one person of the Trinity, or whether severally, as it were by turns.
17. And first, in that which is written in Genesis, viz., that God spake with man whom He had formed out of the dust; if we set apart the figurative meaning, and treat it so as to place faith in the narrative even in the letter, it should appear that God then spake with man in the appearance of a man. This is not indeed expressly laid down in the book, but the general tenor of its reading sounds in this sense, especially in that which is written, that Adam heard the voice of the Lord God, walking in the garden in the cool of the evening, and hid himself among the trees of the garden; and when God said, “Adam, where art thou?”1 replied, “I heard Thy voice, and I was afraid because I was naked, and I hid myself from Thy face.” For I do not see how such a walking and conversation of God can be understood literally, except He appeared as a man. For it can neither be said that a voice only of God was framed, when God is said to have walked, or that He who was walking in a place was not visible; while Adam, too, says that he hid himself from the face of God. Who then was He? Whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Whether altogether indiscriminately did God the Trinity Himself speak to man in the form of man? The context, indeed, itself of the Scripture nowhere, it should seem, indicates a change from person to person; but He seems still to speak to the first man, who said, “Let there be light,” and, “Let there be a firmament,” and so on through each of those days; whom we usually take to be God the Father, making by a word whatever. He willed to make. For He made all things by His word, which Word we know, by the right rule of faith, to be His only Son. If, therefore, God the Father spake to the first man, and Himself was walking in the garden in the cool of the evening, and if it was from His face that the sinner hid himself amongst the trees of the garden, why are we not to go on to understand that it was He also who appeared to Abraham and to Moses, and to whom He would, and how He would, through the changeable and visible creature, subjected to Himself, while He Himself remains in Himself and in His own substance, in which He is unchangeable and invisible? But, possibly, it might be that the Scripture passed over in a hidden way from person to person, and while it had related that the Father said “Let there be light,” and the rest which it mentioned Him to have done by the Word, went on to indicate the Son as speaking to the first man; not unfolding this openly, but intimating it to be understood by those who could understand it.
18. Let him, then, who has the strength whereby he can penetrate this secret with his mind’s eye, so that to him it appears clearly, either that the Father also is able, or that only the Son and Holy Spirit are able, to appear to human eyes through a visible creature; let him, I say, proceed to examine these things if he can, or even to express and handle them in words; but the thing itself, so far as concerns this testimony of Scripture, where God spake with man, is, in my judgment, not discoverable, because it does not evidently appear even whether Adam usually saw God with the eyes of his body; especially as it is a great question what manner of eyes it was that were opened when they tasted the forbidden fruit;2 for before they had tasted, these eyes were closed. Yet I would not rashly assert, even if that scripture implies Paradise to have been a material place, that God could not have walked there in any way except in some bodily form. For it might be said, that only words were framed for the man to hear, without seeing any form. Neither, because it is written, “Adam hid himself from the face of God,” does it follow forthwith that he usually saw His face. For what if he himself indeed could not see, but feared to be himself seen by Him whose voice he had heard, and had felt His presence as he walked? For Cain, too, said to God, “From Thy face I will hide myself;”3 yet we are not therefore compelled to admit that he was wont to behold the face of God with his bodily eyes in any visible form, although he had heard the voice of God questioning and speaking with him of his sin. But what Edition: current; Page:  manner of speech it was that God then uttered to the outward ears of men, especially in speaking to the first man, it is both difficult to discover, and we have not undertaken to say in this discourse. But if words alone and sounds were wrought, by which to bring about some sensible presence of God to those first men, I do not know why I should not there understand the person of God the Father, seeing that His person is manifested also in that voice, when Jesus appeared in glory on the mount before the three disciples;1 and in that when the dove descended upon Him at His baptism;2 and in that where He cried to the Father concerning His own glorification, and it was answered Him, “I have both glorified, and will glorify again.”3 Not that the voice could be wrought without the work of the Son and of the Holy Spirit (since the Trinity works indivisibly), but that such a voice was wrought as to manifest the person of the Father only; just as the Trinity wrought that human form from the Virgin Mary, yet it is the person of the Son alone; for the invisible Trinity wrought the visible person of the Son alone. Neither does anything forbid us, not only to understand those words spoken to Adam as spoken by the Trinity, but also to take them as manifesting the person of that Trinity. For we are compelled to understand of the Father only, that which is said, “This is my beloved Son.”4 For Jesus can neither be believed nor understood to be the Son of the Holy Spirit, or even His own Son. And where the voice uttered, “I have both glorified, and will glorify again,” we confess it was only the person of the Father; since it is the answer to that word of the Lord, in which He had said, “Father, glorify thy Son,” which He could not say except to God the Father only, and not also to the Holy Spirit, whose Son He was not. But here, where it is written, “And the Lord God said to Adam,” no reason can be given why the Trinity itself should not be understood.
19. Likewise, also, in that which is written, “Now the Lord had said unto Abraham, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and thy father’s house,” it is not clear whether a voice alone came to the ears of Abraham, or whether anything also appeared to his eyes. But a little while after, it is somewhat more clearly said, “And the Lord appeared unto Abraham, and said, Unto thy seed will I give this land.”5 But neither there is it expressly said in what form God appeared to him, or whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit appeared to him. Unless, perhaps, they think that it was the Son who appeared to Abraham, because it is not written, God appeared to him, but “the Lord appeared to him.” For the Son seems to be called the Lord as though the name was appropriated to Him; as e.g. the apostle says, “For though there be that are called gods, whether in heaven or in earth, (as there be gods many and lords many,) but to us there is but one God, the Father, of whom are all things, and we in Him; and one Lord Jesus Christ, by whom are all things, and we by Him.”6 But since it is found that God the Father also is called Lord in many places,—for instance, “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee;”7 and again, “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou at my right hand;”8 since also the Holy Spirit is found to be called Lord, as where the apostle says, “Now the Lord is that Spirit;” and then, lest any one should think the Son to be signified, and to be called the Spirit on account of His incorporeal substance, has gone on to say, “And where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty;”9 and no one ever doubted the Spirit of the Lord to be the Holy Spirit: therefore, neither here does it appear plainly whether it was any person of the Trinity that appeared to Abraham, or God Himself the Trinity, of which one God it is said, “Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”10 But under the oak at Mamre he saw three men, whom he invited, and hospitably received, and ministered to them as they feasted. Yet Scripture at the beginning of that narrative does not say, three men appeared to him, but, “The Lord appeared to him.” And then, setting forth in due order after what manner the Lord appeared to him, it has added the account of the three men, whom Abraham invites to his hospitality in the plural number, and afterwards speaks to them in the singular number as one; and as one He promises him a son by Sara, viz. the one whom the Scripture calls Lord, as in the beginning of the same narrative, “The Lord,” it says, “appeared to Abraham.” He invites them then, and washes their feet, and leads them forth at their departure, as though they were men; but he speaks as with the Lord God, whether when a son is promised to him, or when the destruction is shown to him that was impending over Sodom.11
20. That place of Scripture demands neither a slight nor a passing consideration. For if one man had appeared, what else would those at once cry out, who say that the Son was visible also in His own substance before He was born of the Virgin, but that it was Himself? since it is said, they say, of the Father, “To the only invisible God.”1 And yet, I could still go on to demand, in what manner “He was found in fashion as a man,” before He had taken our flesh, seeing that his feet were washed, and that He fed upon earthly food? How could that be, when He was still “in the form of God, and thought it not robbery to be equal with God?”2 For, pray, had He already “emptied Himself, taking upon Him the form of a servant, and made in the likeness of men, and found in fashion as a man?” when we know when it was that He did this through His birth of the Virgin. How, then, before He had done this, did He appear as one man to Abraham? or, was not that form a reality? I could put these questions, if it had been one man that appeared to Abraham, and if that one were believed to be the Son of God. But since three men appeared, and no one of them is said to be greater than the rest either in form, or age, or power, why should we not here understand, as visibly intimated by the visible creature, the equality of the Trinity, and one and the same substance in three persons?3
21. For, lest any one should think that one among the three is in this way intimated to have been the greater, and that this one is to be understood to have been the Lord, the Son of God, while the other two were His angels; because, whereas three appeared, Abraham there speaks to one as the Lord: Holy Scripture has not forgotten to anticipate, by a contradiction, such future cogitations and opinions, when a little while after it says that two angels came to Lot, among whom that just man also, who deserved to be freed from the burning of Sodom, speaks to one as to the Lord. For so Scripture goes on to say, “And the Lord went His way, as soon as He left communing with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.”4
“But there came two angels to Sodom at even.” Here, what I have begun to set forth must be considered more attentively. Certainly Abraham was speaking with three, and called that one, in the singular number, the Lord. Perhaps, some one may say, he recognized one of the three to be the Lord, but the other two His angels. What, then, does that mean which Scripture goes on to say, “And the Lord went His way, as soon as He had left communing with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place: and there came two angels to Sodom at even?” Are we to suppose that the one who, among the three, was recognized as the Lord, had departed, and had sent the two angels that were with Him to destroy Sodom? Let us see, then, what follows. “There came,” it is said, “two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them, rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground; and he said, Behold now, my lords, turn in, I pray you, into your servant’s house.” Here it is clear, both that there were two angels, and that in the plural number they were invited to partake of hospitality, and that they were honorably designated lords, when they perchance were thought to be men.
22. Yet, again, it is objected that except they were known to be angels of God, Lot would not have bowed himself with his face to the ground. Why, then, is both hospitality and food offered to them, as though they wanted such human succor? But whatever may here lie hid, let us now pursue that which we have undertaken. Two appear; both are called angels; they are invited plurally; he speaks as with two plurally, until the departure from Sodom. And then Scripture goes on to say, “And it came to pass, when they had brought them forth abroad, that they said, Escape for thy life; look not behind thee, neither stay thou in all the plain; escape to the mountain, and there thou shalt be saved,5 lest thou be consumed. And Lot said unto them, Oh! not so, my lord: behold now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight,”6 etc. What is meant by his saying to them, “Oh! not so, my lord,” if He who was the Lord had already departed, and had sent the angels? Why is it said, “Oh! not so, my lord,” and not, “Oh! not so, my lords?” Or if he wished to speak to one of them, why does Scripture say, “But Lot said to them, Oh! not so, my lord: behold Edition: current; Page:  now, thy servant hath found grace in thy sight,” etc.? Are we here, too, to understand two persons in the plural number, but when the two are addressed as one, then the one Lord God of one substance? But which two persons do we here understand?—of the Father and of the Son, or of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, or of the Son and of the Holy Spirit? The last, perhaps, is the more suitable; for they said of themselves that they were sent, which is that which we say of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. For we find nowhere in the Scriptures that the Father was sent.1
23. But when Moses was sent to lead the children of Israel out of Egypt, it is written that the Lord appeared to him thus: “Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father-in-law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the back side of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the Angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire, out of the midst of a bush; and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt. And when the Lord saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.”2 He is here also first called the Angel of the Lord, and then God. Was an angel, then, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? Therefore He may be rightly understood to be the Saviour Himself, of whom the apostle says, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.”3 He, therefore, “who is over all, God blessed for ever,” is not unreasonably here understood also to be Himself the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. But why is He previously called the Angel of the Lord, when He appeared in a flame of fire out of the bush? Was it because it was one of many angels, who by an economy [or arrangement] bare the person of his Lord? or was something of the creature assumed by Him in order to bring about a visible appearance for the business in hand, and that words might thence be audibly uttered, whereby the presence of the Lord might be shown, in such way as was fitting, to the corporeal senses of man, by means of the creature made subject? For if he was one of the angels, who could easily affirm whether it was the person of the Son which was imposed upon him to announce, or that of the Holy Spirit, or that of God the Father, or altogether of the Trinity itself, who is the one and only God, in order that he might say, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?” For we cannot say that the Son of God is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob, and that the Father is not; nor will any one dare to deny that either the Holy Spirit, or the Trinity itself, whom we believe and understand to be the one God, is the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. For he who is not God, is not the God of those fathers. Furthermore, if not only the Father is God, as all, even heretics, admit; but also the Son, which, whether they will or not, they are compelled to acknowledge, since the apostle says, “Who is over all, God blessed for ever;” and the Holy Spirit, since the same apostle says, “Therefore glorify God in your body;” when he had said above, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost, which is in you, which ye have of God?”4 and these three are one God, as catholic soundness believes: it is not sufficiently apparent which person of the Trinity that angel bare, if he was one of the rest of the angels, and whether any person, and not rather that of the Trinity itself. But if the creature was assumed for the purpose of the business in hand, whereby both to appear to human eyes, and to sound in human ears, and to be called the Angel of the Lord, and the Lord, and God; then cannot God here be understood to be the Father, but either the Son or the Holy Spirit. Although I cannot call to mind that the Holy Spirit is anywhere else called an angel, which yet may be understood from His work; for it is said of Him, “And He will show you5 things to come;”6 and “angel” in Greek is certainly equivalent to “messenger”7 in Latin: but we read most evidently of the Lord Jesus Christ in the prophet, that He is Edition: current; Page:  called “the Angel of Great Counsel,”1 while both the Holy Spirit and the Son of God is God and Lord of the angels.
24. Also in the going forth of the children of Israel from Egypt it is written, “And the Lord went before them, by day in a pillar of cloud to lead them the way, and by night in a pillar of fire. He took not away the pillar of the cloud by day, nor the pillar of fire by night, from before the people.”2 Who here, too, would doubt that God appeared to the eyes of mortal men by the corporeal creature made subject to Him, and not by His own substance? But it is not similarly apparent whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit, or the Trinity itself, the one God. Nor is this distinguished there either, in my judgment, where it is written, “The glory of the Lord appeared in the cloud, and the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, I have heard the murmurings of the children of Israel,”3 etc.
25. But now of the clouds, and voices, and lightnings, and the trumpet, and the smoke on Mount Sinai, when it was said, “And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire, and the smoke thereof ascended as the smoke of a furnace; and all the people that was in the camp trembled; and when the voice of the trumpet sounded long and waxed louder and louder, Moses spake, and God answered him by a voice.”4 And a little after, when the Law had been given in the ten commandments, it follows in the text, “And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking.” And a little after, “And [when the people saw it,] they removed and stood afar off, and Moses drew near unto the thick darkness5 where God was, and the Lord said unto Moses,”6 etc. What shall I say about this, save that no one can be so insane as to believe the smoke, and the fire, and the cloud, and the darkness, and whatever there was of the kind, to be the substance of the word and wisdom of God which is Christ, or of the Holy Spirit? For not even the Arians ever dared to say that they were the substance of God the Father. All these things, then, were wrought through the creature serving the Creator, and were presented in a suitable economy (dispensatio) to human senses; unless, perhaps, because it is said, “And Moses drew near to the cloud where God was,” carnal thoughts must needs suppose that the cloud was indeed seen by the people, but that within the cloud Moses with the eyes of the flesh saw the Son of God, whom doting heretics will have to be seen in His own substance. Forsooth, Moses may have seen Him with the eyes of the flesh, if not only the wisdom of God which is Christ, but even that of any man you please and howsoever wise, can be seen with the eyes of the flesh; or if, because it is written of the elders of Israel, that “they saw the place where the God of Israel had stood,” and that “there was under His feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness,”7 therefore we are to believe that the word and wisdom of God in His own substance stood within the space of an earthly place, who indeed “reacheth firmly from end to end, and sweetly ordereth all things;”8 and that the Word of God, by whom all things were made,9 is in such wise changeable, as now to contract, now to expand Himself; (may the Lord cleanse the hearts of His faithful ones from such thoughts!) But indeed all these visible and sensible things are, as we have often said, exhibited through the creature made subject in order to signify the invisible and intelligible God, not only the Father, but also the Son and the Holy Spirit, “of whom are all things, and through whom are all things, and in whom are all things;”10 although “the invisible things of God, from the creation of the world, are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead.”11
26. But as far as concerns our present undertaking, neither on Mount Sinai do I see how it appears, by all those things which were fearfully displayed to the senses of mortal men, whether God the Trinity spake, or the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit severally. But if it is allowable, without rash assertion, to venture upon a modest and hesitating conjecture from this passage, if it is possible to understand it of one person of the Trinity, why do we not rather understand the Holy Spirit to be spoken of, since the Law itself also, which was given there, is said to have been written upon tables of stone with the Edition: current; Page:  finger of God,1 by which name we know the Holy Spirit to be signified in the Gospel.2 And fifty days are numbered from the slaying of the lamb and the celebration of the Passover until the day in which these things began to be done in Mount Sinai; just as after the passion of our Lord fifty days are numbered from His resurrection, and then came the Holy Spirit which the Son of God had promised. And in that very coming of His, which we read of in the Acts of the Apostles, there appeared cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them:3 which agrees with Exodus, where it is written, “And Mount Sinai was altogether on a smoke, because the Lord descended upon it in fire;” and a little after, “And the sight of the glory of the Lord,” he says, “was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel.”4 Or if these things were therefore wrought because neither the Father nor the Son could be there presented in that mode without the Holy Spirit, by whom the Law itself must needs be written; then we know doubtless that God appeared there, not by His own substance, which remains invisible and unchangeable, but by the appearance above mentioned of the creature; but that some special person of the Trinity appeared, distinguished by a proper mark, as far as my capacity of understanding reaches, we do not see.
26. There is yet another difficulty which troubles most people, viz. that it is written, “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend;” whereas a little after, the same Moses says, “Now therefore, I pray Thee, if I have found grace in Thy sight, show me now Thyself plainly, that I may see Thee, that I may find grace in Thy sight, and that I may consider that this nation is Thy people;” and a little after Moses again said to the Lord, “Show me Thy glory.” What means this then, that in everything which was done, as above said, God was thought to have appeared by His own substance; whence the Son of God has been believed by these miserable people to be visible not by the creature, but by Himself; and that Moses, entering into the cloud, appeared to have had this very object in entering, that a cloudy darkness indeed might be shown to the eyes of the people, but that Moses within might hear the words of God, as though he beheld His face; and, as it is said, “And the Lord spake unto Moses face to face, as a man speaketh unto his friend;” and yet, behold, the same Moses says, “If I have found grace in Thy sight, show me Thyself plainly?” Assuredly he knew that he saw corporeally, and he sought the true sight of God spiritually. And that mode of speech accordingly which was wrought in words, was so modified, as if it were of a friend speaking to a friend. Yet who sees God the Father with the eyes of the body? And that Word, which was in the beginning, the Word which was with God, the Word which was God, by which all things were made,5—who sees Him with the eyes of the body? And the spirit of wisdom, again, who sees with the eyes of the body? Yet what is, “Show me now Thyself plainly, that I may see Thee,” unless, Show me Thy substance? But if Moses had not said this, we must indeed have borne with those foolish people as we could, who think that the substance of God was made visible to his eyes through those things which, as above mentioned, were said or done. But when it is here demonstrated most evidently that this was not granted to him, even though he desired it; who will dare to say, that by the like forms which had appeared visibly to him also, not the creature serving God, but that itself which is God, appeared to the eyes of a mortal man?
28. Add, too, that which the Lord afterward said to Moses, “Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see my face, and live. And the Lord said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shall stand upon a rock: and it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee into a watch-tower6 of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: and I will take away my hand, and thou shalt see my back parts; but my face shall not be seen.”7
Not unfitly is it commonly understood to be prefigured from the person of our Lord Jesus Christ, that His “back parts” are to be taken to be His flesh, in which He was Edition: current; Page:  born of the Virgin, and died, and rose again; whether they are called back parts1 on account of the posteriority of mortality, or because it was almost in the end of the world, that is, at a late period,2 that He deigned to take it: but that His “face” was that form of God, in which He “thought it not robbery to be equal with God,”3 which no one certainly can see and live; whether because after this life, in which we are absent from the Lord,4 and where the corruptible body presseth down the soul,5 we shall see “face to face,”6 as the apostle says—(for it is said in the Psalms, of this life, “Verily every man living is altogether vanity;”7 and again, “For in Thy sight shall no man living be justified;”8 and in this life also, according to John, “It doth not yet appear what we shall be, but we know,” he says, “that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is,”9 which he certainly intended to be understood as after this life, when we shall have paid the debt of death, and shall have received the promise of the resurrection);—or whether that even now, in whatever degree we spiritually understand the wisdom of God, by which all things were made, in that same degree we die to carnal affections, so that, considering this world dead to us, we also ourselves die to this world, and say what the apostle says, “The world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”10 For it was of this death that he also says, “Wherefore, if ye be dead with Christ, why as though living in the world are ye subject to ordinances?”11 Not therefore without cause will no one be able to see the “face,” that is, the manifestation itself of the wisdom of God, and live. For it is this very appearance, for the contemplation of which every one sighs who strives to love God with all his heart, and with all his soul, and with all his mind; to the contemplation of which, he who loves his neighbor, too, as himself builds up his neighbor also as far as he may; on which two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.12 And this is signified also in Moses himself. For when he had said, on account of the love of God with which he was specially inflamed, “If I have found grace in thy sight, show me now Thyself plainly, that I may find grace in Thy sight;” he immediately subjoined, on account of the love also of his neighbor, “And that I may know that this nation is Thy people.” It is therefore that “appearance” which hurries away every rational soul with the desire of it, and the more ardently the more pure that soul is; and it is the more pure the more it rises to spiritual things; and it rises the more to spiritual things the more it dies to carnal things. But whilst we are absent from the Lord, and walk by faith, not by sight,13 we ought to see the “back parts” of Christ, that is His flesh, by that very faith, that is, standing on the solid foundation of faith, which the rock signifies,14 and beholding it from such a safe watch-tower, namely in the Catholic Church, of which it is said, “And upon this rock I will build my Church.”15 For so much the more certainly we love that face of Christ, which we earnestly desire to see, as we recognize in His back parts how much first Christ loved us.
29. But in the flesh itself, the faith in His resurrection saves and justifies us. For, “If thou shalt believe,” he says, “in thine heart, that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved;”16 and again, “Who was delivered,” he says, “for our offenses, and was raised again for our justification.”17 So that the reward of our faith is the resurrection of the body of our Lord.18 For even His enemies believe that that flesh died on the cross of His passion, but they do not believe it to have risen again. Which we believing most firmly, gaze upon it as from the solidity of a rock: whence we wait with certain hope for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body;19 because we hope for that in the members of Christ, that is, in ourselves, which by a sound faith we acknowledge to be perfect in Him as in our Head. Thence it is that He would not have His back parts seen, unless as He passed by, that His resurrection may be believed. For that which is Pascha in Hebrew, is translated Passover.20 Whence John the Evangelist also says, “Before the feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world unto the Father.”21
30. But they who believe this, but believe it not in the Catholic Church, but in some schism or in heresy, do not see the back parts of the Lord from “the place that is by Him.” For what does that mean which the Lord says, “Behold, there is a place by me, and thou Edition: current; Page:  shalt stand upon a rock?” What earthly place is “by” the Lord, unless that is “by Him” which touches Him spiritually? For what place is not “by” the Lord, who “reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly doth order all things,”1 and of whom it is said, “Heaven is His throne, and earth is His footstool;” and who said, “Where is the house that ye build unto me, and where is the place of my rest? For has not my hand made all those things?”2 But manifestly the Catholic Church itself is understood to be “the place by Him,” wherein one stands upon a rock, where he healthfully sees the “Pascha Domini,” that is, the “Passing by”3 of the Lord, and His back parts, that is, His body, who believes in His resurrection. “And thou shalt stand,” He says, “upon a rock while my glory passeth by.” For in reality, immediately after the majesty of the Lord had passed by in the glorification of the Lord, in which He rose again and ascended to the Father, we stood firm upon the rock. And Peter himself then stood firm, so that he preached Him with confidence, whom, before he stood firm, he had thrice from fear denied;4 although, indeed, already before placed in predestination upon the watch-tower of the rock, but with the hand of the Lord still held over him that he might not see. For he was to see His back parts, and the Lord had not yet “passed by,” namely, from death to life; He had not yet been glorified by the resurrection.
31. For as to that, too, which follows in Exodus, “I will cover thee with mine hand while I pass by, and I will take away my hand and thou shalt see my back parts;” many Israelites, of whom Moses was then a figure, believed in the Lord after His resurrection, as if His hand had been taken off from their eyes, and they now saw His back parts. And hence the evangelist also mentions that prophesy of Isaiah, “Make the heart of this people fat, and make their ears heavy, and shut their eyes.”5 Lastly, in the Psalm, that is not unreasonably understood to be said in their person, “For day and night Thy hand was heavy upon me.” “By day,” perhaps, when He performed manifest miracles, yet was not acknowledged by them; but “by night,” when He died in suffering, when they thought still more certainly that, like any one among men, He was cut off and brought to an end. But since, when He had already passed by, so that His back parts were seen, upon the preaching to them by the Apostle Peter that it behoved Christ to suffer and rise again, they were pricked in their hearts with the grief of repentance,6 that that might come to pass among the baptized which is said in the beginning of that Psalm, “Blessed are they whose transgressions are forgiven, and whose sins are covered;” therefore, after it had been said, “Thy hand is heavy upon me,” the Lord, as it were, passing by, so that now He removed His hand, and His back parts were seen, there follows the voice of one who grieves and confesses and receives remission of sins by faith in the resurrection of the Lord: “My moisture,” he says, “is turned into the drought of summer. I acknowledged my sin unto Thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord, and Thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin.”7 For we ought not to be so wrapped up in the darkness of the flesh, as to think the face indeed of God to be invisible, but His back visible, since both appeared visibly in the form of a servant; but far be it from us to think anything of the kind in the form of God; far be it from us to think that the Word of God and the Wisdom of God has a face on one side, and on the other a back, as a human body has, or is at all changed either in place or time by any appearance or motion.8
32. Wherefore, if in those words which were spoken in Exodus, and in all those corporeal appearances, the Lord Jesus Christ was manifested; or if in some cases Christ was manifested, as the consideration of this passage persuades us, in others the Holy Spirit, as that which we have said above admonishes us; at any rate no such result follows, as that God the Father never appeared in any such form to the Fathers. For many such appearances happened in those times, without either the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit being expressly named and designated in them; but yet with some intimations given through certain very probable interpretations, so that it would be too rash to say that God the Father never appeared by any visible forms to the fathers or the prophets. For they gave birth to this opinion who were not able to understand in respect to the unity of the Trinity such texts as, “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God;”9 and, “Whom no man hath seen, nor Edition: current; Page:  can see.”1 Which texts are understood by a sound faith in that substance itself, the highest, and in the highest degree divine and unchangeable, whereby both the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit is the one and only God. But those visions were wrought through the changeable creature, made subject to the unchangeable God, and did not manifest God properly as He is, but by intimations such as suited the causes and times of the several circumstances.
33. 2I do not know in what manner these men understand that the Ancient of Days appeared to Daniel, from whom the Son of man, which He deigned to be for our sakes, is understood to have received the kingdom; namely, from Him who says to Him in the Psalms, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten Thee; ask of me, and I shall give Thee the heathen for Thine inheritance;”3 and who has “put all things under His feet.”4 If, however, both the Father giving the kingdom, and the Son receiving it, appeared to Daniel in bodily form, how can those men say that the Father never appeared to the prophets, and, therefore, that He only ought to be understood to be invisible whom no man has seen, nor can see? For Daniel has told us thus: “I beheld,” he says, “till the thrones were set,5 and the Ancient of Days did sit, whose garment was white as snow, and the hair of His head like the pure wool: His throne was like the fiery flame, and His wheels as burning fire; a fiery stream issued and came forth from before Him: thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him: the judgment was set, and the books were opened,” etc. And a little after, “I saw,” he says, “in the night visions, and behold, one like the Son of man came with the clouds of heaven, and came to the Ancient of Days, and they brought Him near before Him. And there was given Him dominion, and glory, and a kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him: His dominion is an everlasting dominion, which shall not pass away, and His kingdom that which shall not be destroyed.”6 Behold the Father giving, and the Son receiving, an eternal kingdom; and both are in the sight of him who prophesies, in a visible form. It is not, therefore, unsuitably believed that God the Father also was wont to appear in that manner to mortals.
34. Unless, perhaps, some one shall say, that the Father is therefore not visible, because He appeared within the sight of one who was dreaming; but that therefore the Son and the Holy Spirit are visible, because Moses saw all those things being awake; as if, forsooth, Moses saw the Word and the Wisdom of God with fleshly eyes, or that even the human spirit which quickens that flesh can be seen, or even that corporeal thing which is called wind;—how much less can that Spirit of God be seen, who transcends the minds of all men, and of angels, by the ineffable excellence of the divine substance? Or can any one fall headlong into such an error as to dare to say, that the Son and the Holy Spirit are visible also to men who are awake, but that the Father is not visible except to those who dream? How, then, do they understand that of the Father alone, “Whom no man hath seen, nor can see.”? When men sleep, are they then not men? Or cannot He, who can fashion the likeness of a body to signify Himself through the visions of dreamers, also fashion that same bodily creature to signify Himself to the eyes of those who are awake? Whereas His own very substance, whereby He Himself is that which He is, cannot be shown by any bodily likeness to one who sleeps, or by any bodily appearance to one who is awake; but this not of the Father only, but also of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. And certainly, as to those who are moved by the visions of waking men to believe that not the Father, but only the Son, or the Holy Spirit, appeared to the corporeal sight of men,—to omit the great extent of the sacred pages, and their manifold interpretation, such that no one of sound reason ought to affirm that the person of the Father was nowhere shown to the eyes of waking men by any corporeal appearance;—but, as I said, to omit this, what do they say of our father Abraham, who was certainly awake and ministering, when, after Scripture had premised, “The Lord appeared unto Abraham,” not one, or two, but three men appeared to him; no one of whom is said to have stood prominently above the others, no one more than the others to have shone with greater glory, or to have acted more authoritatively?7
35. Wherefore, since in that our threefold division we determined to inquire,8 first, Edition: current; Page:  whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit; or whether sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, sometimes the Holy Spirit; or whether, without any distinction of persons, as it is said, the one and only God, that is, the Trinity itself, appeared to the fathers through those forms of the creature: now that we have examined, so far as appeared to be sufficient, what places of the Holy Scriptures we could, a modest and cautious consideration of divine mysteries leads, as far as I can judge, to no other conclusion, unless that we may not rashly affirm which person of the Trinity appeared to this or that of the fathers or the prophets in some body or likeness of body, unless when the context attaches to the narrative some probable intimations on the subject. For the nature itself, or substance, or essence, or by whatever other name that very thing, which is God, whatever it be, is to be called, cannot be seen corporeally: but we must believe that by means of the creature made subject to Him, not only the Son, or the Holy Spirit, but also the Father, may have given intimations of Himself to mortal senses by a corporeal form or likeness. And since the case stands thus, that this second book may not extend to an immoderate length, let us consider what remains in those which follow.
the question is discussed with respect to the appearances of god spoken of in the previous book, which were made under bodily forms, whether only a creature was formed, for the purpose of manifesting god to human sight in such way as he at each time judged fitting; or whether angels, already existing, were so sent as to speak in the person of god; and this, either by assuming a bodily appearance from the bodily creature, or by changing their own bodies into whatever forms they would, suitable to the particular action, according to the power given to them by the creator; while the essence itself of god was never seen in itself.
1. I would have them believe, who are willing to do so, that I had rather bestow labor in reading, than in dictating what others may read. But let those who will not believe this, but are both able and willing to make the trial, grant me whatever answers may be gathered from reading, either to my own inquiries, or to those interrogations of others, which for the character I bear in the service of Christ, and for the zeal with which I burn that our faith may be fortified against the error of carnal and natural men,1 I must needs bear with; and then let them see how easily I would refrain from this labor, and with how much even of joy I would give my pen a holiday. But if what we have read upon these subjects is either not sufficiently set forth, or is not to be found at all, or at any rate cannot easily be found by us, in the Latin tongue, while we are not so familiar with the Greek tongue as to be found in any way competent to read and understand therein the books that treat of such topics, in which class of writings, to judge by the little which has been translated for us, I do not doubt that everything is contained that we can profitably seek;2 while yet I cannot resist my brethren when they exact of me, by that law by which I am made their servant, that I should minister above all to their praiseworthy studies in Christ by my tongue and by my pen, of which two yoked together in me, Love is the charioteer; and while I myself confess that I have by writing learned many things which I did not know: if this be so, then this my labor ought not to seem superfluous to any idle, or to any very learned reader; while it is needful in no small part, to many who are busy, and to many who are unlearned, and among these last to myself. Supported, then, very greatly, and aided by the writings we have already read of others on this subject, I have undertaken to inquired into and to discuss, whatever it seems to my judgment can be reverently inquired into and discussed, concerning the Trinity, the one supreme and supremely good God; He himself exhorting me to the inquiry, and helping me in the discussion of it; in order that, if there are no other writings of the kind, there may be something for those to have and read who Edition: current; Page:  are willing and capable; but if any exist already, then it may be so much the easier to find some such writings, the more there are of the kind in existence.
2. Assuredly, as in all my writings I desire not only a pious reader, but also a free corrector, so I especially desire this in the present inquiry, which is so important that I would there were as many inquirers as there are objectors. But as I do not wish my reader to be bound down to me, so I do not wish my corrector to be bound down to himself. Let not the former love me more than the catholic faith, let not the latter love himself more than the catholic verity. As I say to the former, Do not be willing to yield to my writings as to the canonical Scriptures; but in these, when thou hast discovered even what thou didst not previously believe, believe it unhesitatingly; while in those, unless thou hast understood with certainty what thou didst not before hold as certain, be unwilling to hold it fast: so I say to the latter, Do not be willing to amend my writings by thine own opinion or disputation, but from the divine text, or by unanswerable reason. If thou apprehendest anything of truth in them, its being there does not make it mine, but by understanding and loving it, let it be both thine and mine; but if thou convictest anything of falsehood, though it have once been mine, in that I was guilty of the error, yet now by avoiding it let it be neither thine nor mine.
3. Let this third book, then, take its beginning at the point to which the second had reached. For after we had arrived at this, that we desired to show that the Son was not therefore less than the Father, because the Father sent and the Son was sent; nor the Holy Spirit therefore less than both, because we read in the Gospel that He was sent both by the one and by the other; we undertook then to inquire, since the Son was sent thither, where He already was, for He came into the world, and “was in the world;”1 since also the Holy Spirit was sent thither, where He already was, for “the Spirit of the Lord filleth the world, and that which containeth all things hath knowledge of the voice;”2 whether the Lord was therefore “sent” because He was born in the flesh so as to be no longer hidden, and, as it were, came forth from the bosom of the Father, and appeared to the eyes of men in the form of a servant; and the Holy Spirit also was therefore “sent,” because He too was seen as a dove in a corporeal form,3 and in cloven tongues, like as of fire;4 so that, to be sent, when spoken of them, means to go forth to the sight of mortals in some corporeal form from a spiritual hiding-place; which, because the Father did not, He is said only to have sent, not also to be sent. Our next inquiry was, Why the Father also is not sometimes said to be sent, if He Himself was manifested through those corporeal forms which appeared to the eyes of the ancients. But if the Son was manifested at these times, why should He be said to be “sent” so long after, when the fullness of time was come that He should be born of a woman;5 since, indeed, He was sent before also, viz., when He appeared corporeally in those forms? Or if He were not rightly said to be “sent,” except when the Word was made flesh;6 why should the Holy Spirit be read of as “sent,” of whom such an incarnation never took place? But if neither the Father, nor the Son, but the Holy Spirit was manifested through these ancient appearances; why should He too be said to be “sent” now, when He was also sent before in these various manners? Next we subdivided the subject, that it might be handled most carefully, and we made the question threefold, of which one part was explained in the second book, and two remain, which I shall next proceed to discuss. For we have already inquired and determined, that not only the Father, nor only the Son, nor only the Holy Spirit appeared in those ancient corporeal forms and visions, but either indifferently the Lord God, who is understood to be the Trinity itself, or some one person of the Trinity, whichever the text of the narrative might signify, through intimations supplied by the context.
4. Let us, then, continue our inquiry now in order. For under the second head in that division the question occurred, whether the creature was formed for that work only, wherein God, in such way as He then judged it to be fitting, might be manifested to human sight; or whether angels, who already existed, were so sent as to speak in the person of God, assuming a corporeal appearance from the corporeal creature for the purpose of their ministry; or else changing and turning their own body itself, to which they are not subject, but govern it as subject to themselves, into whatever forms they would, that were appropriate and fit for their actions, according to the power given to them by the Creator. And when this part of the question shall have been investigated, so far as God permit, then, lastly, Edition: current; Page:  we shall have to see to that question with which we started, viz., whether the Son and the Holy Spirit were also “sent” before; and if it be so, then what difference there is between that sending and the one of which we read in the Gospel; or whether neither of them were sent, except when either the Son was made of the Virgin Mary, or when the Holy Spirit appeared in a visible form, whether as a dove or in tongues of fire.1
5. I confess, however, that it reaches further than my purpose can carry me to inquire whether the angels, secretly working by the spiritual quality of their body abiding still in them, assume somewhat from the inferior and more bodily elements, which, being fitted to themselves, they may change and turn like a garment into any corporeal appearances they will, and those appearances themselves also real, as real water was changed by our Lord into real wine;2 or whether they transform their own bodies themselves into that which they would, suitably to the particular act. But it does not signify to the present question which of these it is. And although I be not able to understand these things by actual experience, seeing that I am a man, as the angels do who do these things, and know them better than I know them, viz., how far my body is changeable by the operation of my will; whether it be by my own experience of myself, or by that which I have gathered from others; yet it is not necessary here to say which of these alternatives I am to believe upon the authority of the divine Scriptures, lest I be compelled to prove it, and so my discourse become too long upon a subject which does not concern the present question.
6. Our present inquiry then is, whether the angels were then the agents both in showing those bodily appearances to the eyes of men, and in sounding those words in their ears, when the sensible creature itself, serving the Creator at His beck, was turned for the time into whatever was needful; as it is written in the book of Wisdom, “For the creature that serveth Thee, who art the Maker, increaseth his strength against the unrighteous for their punishment, and abateth his strength for the benefit of such as put their trust in Thee. Therefore, even then was it altered into all fashions, and was obedient to Thy grace, that nourisheth all things according to the desire of them that longed for Thee.”3 For the power of the will of God reaches through the spiritual creature even to visible and sensible effects of the corporeal creature. For where does not the wisdom of the omnipotent God work that which He wills, which “reacheth from one end to another mightily, and sweetly doth order all things”?4
7. But there is one kind of natural order in the conversion and changeableness of bodies, which, although itself also serves the bidding of God, yet by reason of its unbroken continuity has ceased to cause wonder; as is the case, for instance, with those things which are changed either in very short, or at any rate not long, intervals of time, in heaven, or earth, or sea; whether it be in rising, or in setting, or in change of appearance from time to time; while there are other things, which, although arising from that same order, yet are less familiar on account of longer intervals of time. And these things, although the many stupidly wonder at them, yet are understood by those who inquire into this present world, and in the progress of generations become so much the less wonderful, as they are the more often repeated and known by more people. Such are the eclipses of the sun and moon, and some kinds of stars, appearing seldom, and earthquakes, and unnatural births of living creatures, and other similar things; of which not one takes place without the will of God; yet, that it is so, is to most people not apparent. And so the vanity of philosophers has found license to assign these things also to other causes, true causes perhaps, but proximate ones, while they are not able to see at all the cause that is higher than all others, that is, the will of God; or again to false causes, and to such as are not even put forward out of any diligent investigation of corporeal things and motions, but from their own guess and error.
8. I will bring forward an example, if I can, that this may be plainer. There is, we know, in the human body, a certain bulk of flesh and an outward form, and an arrangement and distinction of limbs, and a temperament of health; and a soul breathed into it governs this body, and that soul a rational one; which, therefore, although changeable, yet can be partaker of that unchangeable wisdom, so that “it may partake of that which is in and of itself;”5 as Edition: current; Page:  it is written in the Psalm concerning all saints, of whom as of living stones is built that Jerusalem which is the mother of us all, eternal in the heavens. For so it is sung, “Jerusalem is builded as a city, that is partaker of that which is in and of itself.”1 For “in and of itself,” in that place, is understood of that chiefest and unchangeable good, which is God, and of His own wisdom and will. To whom is sung in another place, “Thou shalt change them, and they shall be changed; but Thou art the same.”2
Let us take, then, the case of a wise man, such that his rational soul is already partaker of the unchangeable and eternal truth, so that he consults it about all his actions, nor does anything at all, which he does not by it know ought to be done, in order that by being subject to it and obeying it he may do rightly. Suppose now that this man, upon counsel with the highest reason of the divine righteousness, which he hears with the ear of his heart in secret, and by its bidding, should weary his body by toil in some office of mercy, and should contract an illness; and upon consulting the physicians, were to be told by one that the cause of the disease was overmuch dryness of the body, but by another that it was overmuch moisture; one of the two no doubt would allege the true cause and the other would err, but both would pronounce concerning proximate causes only, that is, corporeal ones. But if the cause of that dryness were to be inquired into, and found to be the self-imposed toil, then we should have come to a yet higher cause, which proceeds from the soul so as to affect the body which the soul governs. Yet neither would this be the first cause, for that doubtless was a higher cause still, and lay in the unchangeable wisdom itself, by serving which in love, and by obeying its ineffable commands, the soul of the wise man had undertaken that self-imposed toil; and so nothing else but the will of God would be found most truly to be the first cause of that illness. But suppose now in that office of pious toil this wise man had employed the help of others to co-operate in the good work, who did not serve God with the same will as himself, but either desired to attain the reward of their own carnal desires, or shunned merely carnal unpleasantnesses;—suppose, too, he had employed beasts of burden, if the completion of the work required such a provision, which beasts of burden would be certainly irrational animals, and would not therefore move their limbs under their burdens because they at all thought of that good work, but from the natural appetite of their own liking, and for the avoiding of annoyance;—suppose, lastly, he had employed bodily things themselves that lack all sense, but were necessary for that work, as e.g. corn, and wine, and oils, clothes, or money, or a book, or anything of the kind;—certainly, in all these bodily things thus employed in this work, whether animate or inanimate, whatever took place of movement, of wear and tear, of reparation, of destruction, of renewal or of change in one way or another, as places and times affected them; pray, could there be, I say, any other cause of all these visible and changeable facts, except the invisible and unchangeable will of God, using all these, both bad and irrational souls, and lastly bodies, whether such as were inspired and animated by those souls, or such as lacked all sense, by means of that upright soul as the seat of His wisdom, since primarily that good and holy soul itself employed them, which His wisdom had subjected to itself in a pious and religious obedience?
9. What, then, we have alleged by way of example of a single wise man, although of one still bearing a mortal body and still seeing only in part, may be allowably extended also to a family, where there is a society of such men, or to a city, or even to the whole world, if the chief rule and government of human affairs were in the hands of the wise, and of those who were piously and perfectly subject to God; but because this is not the case as yet (for it behoves us first to be exercised in this our pilgrimage after mortal fashion, and to be taught with stripes by force of gentleness and patience), let us turn our thoughts to that country itself that is above and heavenly, from which we here are pilgrims. For there the will of God, “who maketh His angels spirits, and His ministers a flaming fire,”3 presiding among spirits which are joined in perfect peace and friendship, and combined in one will by a kind of spiritual fire of charity, as it were in an elevated and holy and secret seat, as in its own house and in its own temple, thence diffuses itself through all things by certain most perfectly Edition: current; Page:  ordered movements of the creature; first spiritual, then corporeal; and uses all according to the unchangeable pleasure of its own purpose, whether incorporeal things or things corporeal, whether rational or irrational spirits, whether good by His grace or evil through their own will. But as the more gross and inferior bodies are governed in due order by the more subtle and powerful ones, so all bodies are governed by the living spirit; and the living spirit devoid of reason, by the reasonable living spirit; and the reasonable living spirit that makes default and sins, by the living and reasonable spirit that is pious and just; and that by God Himself, and so the universal creature by its Creator, from whom and through whom and in whom it is also created and established.1 And so it comes to pass that the will of God is the first and the highest cause of all corporeal appearances and motions. For nothing is done visibly or sensibly, unless either by command or permission from the interior palace, invisible and intelligible, of the supreme Governor, according to the unspeakable justice of rewards and punishments, of favor and retribution, in that far-reaching and boundless commonwealth of the whole creature.
10. If, therefore, the Apostle Paul, although he still bare the burden of the body, which is subject to corruption and presseth down the soul,2 and although he still saw only in part and in an enigma,3 wishing to depart and be with Christ,4 and groaning within himself, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of his body,5 yet was able to preach the Lord Jesus Christ significantly, in one way by his tongue, in another by epistle, in another by the sacrament of His body and blood (since, certainly, we do not call either the tongue of the apostle, or the parchments, or the ink, or the significant sounds which his tongue uttered, or the alphabetical signs written on skins, the body and blood of Christ; but that only which we take of the fruits of the earth and consecrate by mystic prayer, and then receive duly to our spiritual health in memory of the passion of our Lord for us: and this, although it is brought by the hands of men to that visible form, yet is not sanctified to become so great a sacrament, except by the spirit of God working invisibly; since God works everything that is done in that work through corporeal movements, by setting in motion primarily the invisible things of His servants, whether the souls of men, or the services of hidden spirits subject to Himself): what wonder if also in the creature of heaven and earth, of sea and air, God works the sensible and visible things which He wills, in order to signify and manifest Himself in them, as He Himself knows it to be fitting, without any appearing of His very substance itself, whereby He is, which is altogether unchangeable, and more inwardly and secretly exalted than all spirits whom He has created?
11. For since the divine power administers the whole spiritual and corporeal creature, the waters of the sea are summoned and poured out upon the face of the earth on certain days of every year. But when this was done at the prayer of the holy Elijah; because so continued and long a course of fair weather had gone before, that men were famished; and because at that very hour, in which the servant of God prayed, the air itself had not, by any moist aspect, put forth signs of the coming rain; the divine power was apparent in the great and rapid showers that followed, and by which that miracle was granted and dispensed.6 In like manner, God works ordinarily through thunders and lightnings: but because these were wrought in an unusual manner on Mount Sinai, and those sounds were not uttered with a confused noise, but so that it appeared by most sure proofs that certain intimations were given by them, they were miracles.7 Who draws up the sap through the root of the vine to the bunch of grapes, and makes the wine, except God; who, while man plants and waters, Himself giveth the increase?8 But when, at the command of the Lord, the water was turned into wine with an extraordinary quickness, the divine power was made manifest, by the confession even of the foolish.9 Who ordinarily clothes the trees with leaves and flowers except God? Yet, when the rod of Aaron the priest blossomed, the Godhead in some way conversed with doubting humanity.10 Again, the earthy matter certainly serves in common to the production and formation both of all kinds of wood and of the flesh of all animals: and who makes these things, but He who said, Let the earth bring them forth;11 and who governs and guides by the same word of His, those things which He has created? Yet, when He changed the same matter out of the rod of Moses into the flesh of a serpent, immediately and quickly, Edition: current; Page:  that change, which was unusual, although of a thing which was changeable, was a miracle.1 But who is it that gives life to every living thing at its birth, unless He who gave life to that serpent also for the moment, as there was need.2
And who is it that restored to the corpses their proper souls when the dead rose again,3 unless He who gives life to the flesh in the mother’s womb, in order that they may come into being who yet are to die? But when such things happen in a continuous kind of river of ever-flowing succession, passing from the hidden to the visible, and from the visible to the hidden, by a regular and beaten track, then they are called natural; when, for the admonition of men, they are thrust in by an unusual changeableness, then they are called miracles.
12. I see here what may occur to a weak judgment, namely, why such miracles are wrought also by magic arts; for the wise men of Pharaoh likewise made serpents, and did other like things. Yet it is still more a matter of wonder, how it was that the power of those magicians, which was able to make serpents, when it came to very small flies, failed altogether. For the lice, by which third plague the proud people of Egypt were smitten, are very short-lived little flies; yet there certainly the magicians failed, saying, “This is the finger of God.”4 And hence it is given us to understand that not even those angels and powers of the air that transgressed, who have been thrust down into that lowest darkness, as into a peculiar prison, from their habitation in that lofty ethereal purity, through whom magic arts have whatever power they have, can do anything except by power given from above. Now that power is given either to deceive the deceitful, as it was given against the Egyptians, and against the magicians also themselves, in order that in the seducing of those spirits they might seem admirable by whom they were wrought, but to be condemned by the truth of God; or for the admonishing of the faithful, lest they should desire to do anything of the kind as though it were a great thing, for which reason they have been handed down to us also by the authority of Scripture; or lastly, for the exercising, proving, and manifesting of the patience of the righteous. For it was not by any small power of visible miracles that Job lost all that he had, and both his children and his bodily health itself.5
13. Yet it is not on this account to be thought that the matter of visible things is subservient to the bidding of those wicked angels; but rather to that of God, by whom this power is given, just so far as He, who is unchangeable, determines in His lofty and spiritual abode to give it. For water and fire and earth are subservient even to wicked men, who are condemned to the mines, in order that they may do therewith what they will, but only so far as is permitted. Nor, in truth, are those evil angels to be called creators, because by their means the magicians, withstanding the servant of God, made frogs and serpents; for it was not they who created them. But, in truth, some hidden seeds of all things that are born corporeally and visibly, are concealed in the corporeal elements of this world. For those seeds that are visible now to our eyes from fruits and living things, are quite distinct from the hidden seeds of those former seeds; from which, at the bidding of the Creator, the water produced the first swimming creatures and fowl, and the earth the first buds after their kind, and the first living creatures after their kind.6 For neither at that time were those seeds so drawn forth into products of their several kinds, as that the power of production was exhausted in those products; but oftentimes, suitable combinations of circumstances are wanting, whereby they may be enabled to burst forth and complete their species. For, consider, the very least shoot is a seed; for, if fitly consigned to the earth, it produces a tree. But of this shoot there is a yet more subtle seed in some grain of the same species, and this is visible even to us. But of this grain also there is further still a seed, which, although we are unable to see it with our eyes, yet we can conjecture its existence from our reason; because, except there were some such power in those elements, there would not so frequently be produced from the earth things which had not been sown there; nor Edition: current; Page:  yet so many animals, without any previous commixture of male and female; whether on the land, or in the water, which yet grow, and by commingling bring forth others, while themselves sprang up without any union of parents. And certainly bees do not conceive the seeds of their young by commixture, but gather them as they lie scattered over the earth with their mouth.1 For the Creator of these invisible seeds is the Creator of all things Himself; since whatever comes forth to our sight by being born, receives the first beginnings of its course from hidden seeds, and takes the successive increments of its proper size and its distinctive forms from these as it were original rules. As therefore we do not call parents the creators of men, nor farmers the creators of corn,—although it is by the outward application of their actions that the power2 of God operates within for the creating these things;—so it is not right to think not only the bad but even the good angels to be creators, if, through the subtilty of their perception and body, they know the seeds of things which to us are more hidden, and scatter them secretly through fit temperings of the elements, and so furnish opportunities of producing things, and of accelerating their increase. But neither do the good angels do these things, except as far as God commands, nor do the evil ones do them wrongfully, except as far as He righteously permits. For the malignity of the wicked one makes his own will wrongful; but the power to do so, he receives rightfully, whether for his own punishment, or, in the case of others, for the punishment of the wicked, or for the praise of the good.
14. Accordingly, the Apostle Paul, distinguishing God’s creating and forming within, from the operations of the creature which are applied from without, and drawing a similitude from agriculture, says, “I planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.”3 As, therefore, in the case of spiritual life itself, no one except God can work righteousness in our minds, yet men also are able to preach the gospel as an outward means, not only the good in sincerity, but also the evil in pretence;4 so in the creation of visible things it is God that works from within; but the exterior operations, whether of good or bad, of angels or men, or even of any kind of animal, according to His own absolute power, and to the distribution of faculties, and the several appetites for things pleasant, which He Himself has imparted, are applied by Him to that nature of things wherein He creates all things, in like manner as agriculture is to the soil. Wherefore I can no more call the bad angels, evoked by magic arts, the creators of the frogs and serpents, than I can say that bad men were creators of the corn crop, which I see to have sprung up through their labor.
15. Just as Jacob, again, was not the creator of the colors in the flocks, because he placed the various colored rods for the several mothers, as they drank, to look at in conceiving.5 Yet neither were the cattle themselves creators of the variety of their own offspring, because the variegated image, impressed through their eyes by the sight of the varied rods, clave to their soul, but could affect the body that was animated by the spirit thus affected only through sympathy with this commingling, so far as to stain with color the tender beginnings of their offspring. For that they are so affected from themselves, whether the soul from the body, or the body from the soul, arises in truth from suitable reasons, which immutably exist in that highest wisdom of God Himself, which no extent of place contains; and which, while it is itself unchangeable, yet quits not one even of those things which are changeable, because there is not one of them that is not created by itself. For it was the unchangeable and invisible reason of the wisdom of God, by which all things are created, which caused not rods, but cattle, to be born from cattle; but that the color of the cattle conceived should be in any degree influenced by the variety of the rods, came to pass through the soul of the pregnant cattle being affected through their eyes from without, and so according to its own measure drawing inwardly within itself the rule of formation, which it received from the innermost power of its own Creator. How great, however, may be the power of the soul in affecting and changing corporeal substance (although certainly it cannot be called the creator of the body, because every cause of changeable and sensible substance, and all its Edition: current; Page:  measure and number and weight, by which are brought to pass both its being at all and its being of such and such a nature, arise from the intelligible and unchangeable life, which is above all things, and which reaches even to the most distant and earthly things), is a very copious subject, and one not now necessary. But I thought the act of Jacob about the cattle should be noticed, for this reason, viz. in order that it might be perceived that, if the man who thus placed those rods cannot be called the creator of the colors in the lambs and kids; nor yet even the souls themselves of the mothers, which colored the seeds conceived in the flesh by the image of variegated color, conceived through the eyes of the body, so far as nature permitted it; much less can it be said that the creators of the frogs and serpents were the bad angels, through whom the magicians of Pharaoh then made them.
16. For it is one thing to make and administer the creature from the innermost and highest turning-point of causation, which He alone does who is God the Creator; but quite another thing to apply some operation from without in proportion to the strength and faculties assigned to each by Him, so that what is created may come forth into being at this time or at that, and in this or that way. For all these things in the way of original and beginning have already been created in a kind of texture of the elements, but they come forth when they get the opportunity.1 For as mothers are pregnant with young, so the world itself is pregnant with the causes of things that are born; which are not created in it, except from that highest essence, where nothing either springs up or dies, either begins to be or ceases. But the applying from without of adventitious causes, which, although they are not natural, yet are to be applied according to nature, in order that those things which are contained and hidden in the secret bosom of nature may break forth and be outwardly created in some way by the unfolding of the proper measures and numbers and weights which they have received in secret from Him “who has ordered all things in measure and number and weight:”2 this is not only in the power of bad angels, but also of bad men, as I have shown above by the example of agriculture.
17. But lest the somewhat different condition of animals should trouble any one, in that they have the breath of life with the sense of desiring those things that are according to nature, and of avoiding those things that are contrary to it; we must consider also, how many men there are who know from what herbs or flesh, or from what juices or liquids you please, of whatever sort, whether so placed or so buried, or so bruised or so mixed, this or that animal is commonly born; yet who can be so foolish as to dare to call himself the creator of these animals? Is it, therefore, to be wondered at, if just as any, the most worthless of men, can know whence such or such worms and flies are produced; so the evil angels in proportion to the subtlety of their perceptions discern in the more hidden seeds of the elements whence frogs and serpents are produced, and so through certain and known opportune combinations applying these seeds by secret movements, cause them to be created, but do not create them? Only men do not marvel at those things that are usually done by men. But if any one chance to wonder at the quickness of those growths, in that those living beings were so quickly made, let him consider how even this may be brought about by men in proportion to the measure of human capability. For whence is it that the same bodies generate worms more quickly in summer than in winter, or in hotter than in colder places? Only these things are applied by men with so much the more difficulty, in proportion as their earthly and sluggish members are wanting in subtlety of perception, and in rapidity of bodily motion. And hence it arises that in the case of any kind of angels, in proportion as it is easier for them to draw out the proximate causes from the elements, so much the more marvellous is their rapidity in works of this kind.
18. But He only is the creator who is the chief former of these things. Neither can any one be this, unless He with whom primarily rests the measure, number, and weight of all things existing; and He is God the one Creator, by whose unspeakable power it comes to pass, also, that what these angels were able to do if they were permitted, they are therefore not able to do because they are not permitted. For there is no other reason why they who made frogs and serpents were not able to make the most minute flies, unless because Edition: current; Page:  the greater power of God was present prohibiting them, through the Holy Spirit; which even the magicians themselves confessed, saying, “This is the finger of God.”1 But what they are able to do by nature, yet cannot do, because they are prohibited; and what the very condition of their nature itself does not suffer them to do; it is difficult, nay, impossible, for man to search out, unless through that gift of God which the apostle mentions when he says, “To another the discerning of spirits.”2 For we know that a man can walk, yet that he cannot do so if he is not permitted; but that he cannot fly, even if he be permitted. So those angels, also, are able to do certain things if they are permitted by more powerful angels, according to the supreme commandment of God; but cannot do certain other things, not even if they are permitted by them; because He does not permit from whom they have received such and such a measure of natural powers: who, even by His angels, does not usually permit what He has given them power to be able to do.
19. Excepting, therefore, those corporeal things which are done in the order of nature in a perfectly usual series of times, as e.g., the rising and setting of the stars, the generations and deaths of animals, the innumerable diversities of seeds and buds, the vapors and the clouds, the snow and the rain, the lightnings and the thunder, the thunderbolts and the hail, the winds and the fire, cold and heat, and all like things; excepting also those which in the same order of nature occur rarely, such as eclipses, unusual appearances of stars, and monsters, and earthquakes, and such like;—all these, I say, are to be excepted, of which indeed the first and chief cause is only the will of God; whence also in the Psalm, when some things of this kind had been mentioned, “Fire and hail, snow and vapor, stormy wind,” lest any one should think those to be brought about either by chance or only from corporeal causes, or even from such as are spiritual, but exist apart from the will of God, it is added immediately, “fulfilling His word.”3
Excepting, therefore, all these things as I just now said, there are some also of another kind; which, although from the same corporeal substance, are yet brought within reach of our senses in order to announce something from God, and these are properly called miracles and signs; yet is not the person of God Himself assumed in all things which are announced to us by the Lord God. When, however, that person is assumed, it is sometimes made manifest as an angel; sometimes in that form which is not an angel in his own proper being, although it is ordered and ministered by an angel. Again, when it is assumed in that form which is not an angel in his own proper being; sometimes in this case it is a body itself already existing, assumed after some kind of change, in order to make that message manifest; sometimes it is one that comes into being for the purpose, and that being accomplished, is discarded. Just as, also, when men are the messengers, sometimes they speak the words of God in their own person, as when it is premised, “The Lord said,” or, “Thus saith the Lord,”4 or any other such phrase, but sometimes without any such prefix, they take upon themselves the very person of God, as e.g.: “I will instruct thee, and teach thee in the way wherein thou shalt go:”5 so, not only in word, but also in act, the signifying of the person of God is imposed upon the prophet, in order that he may bear that person in the ministering of the prophecy; just as he, for instance, bore that person who divided his garment into twelve parts, and gave ten of them to the servant of King Solomon, to the future king of Israel.6 Sometimes, also, a thing which was not a prophet in his own proper self, and which existed already among earthly things, was assumed in order to signify this; as Jacob, when he had seen the dream, upon waking up did with the stone, which when asleep he had under his head.7 Sometimes a thing is made in the same kind, for the mere purpose; so as either to continue a little while in existence, as that brazen serpent was able to do which was lifted up in the wilderness,8 and as written records are able to do likewise; or so as to pass away after having accomplished its ministry, as the bread made for the purpose is consumed in the receiving of the sacrament.
20. But because these things are known to men, in that they are done by men, they may well meet with reverence as being holy things, but they cannot cause wonder as being miracles. And therefore those things which are done by angels are the more wonderful to us, in that they are more difficult and more unknown; but they are known and easy to them as being their own actions. An angel speaks in the person of God to man, saying, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, Edition: current; Page:  and the God of Jacob;” the Scripture having said just before, “The angel of the Lord appeared to him.”1 And a man also speaks in the person of God, saying, “Hear, O my people, and I will testify unto thee, O Israel: I am the Lord thy God.”2 A rod was taken to serve as a sign, and was changed into a serpent by angelical power;3 but although that power is wanting to man, yet a stone was taken also by man for a similar sign.4 There is a wide difference between the deed of the angel and the deed of the man. The former is both to be wondered at and to be understood, the latter only to be understood. That which is understood from both, is perhaps one and the same; but those things from which it is understood, are different. Just as if the name of God were written both in gold and in ink; the former would be the more precious, the latter the more worthless; yet that which is signified in both is one and the same. And although the serpent that came from Moses’ rod signified the same thing as Jacob’s stone, yet Jacob’s stone signified something better than did the serpents of the magicians. For as the anointing of the stone signified Christ in the flesh, in which He was anointed with the oil of gladness above His fellows;5 so the rod of Moses, turned into a serpent, signified Christ Himself made obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.6 Whence it is said, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life;”7 just as by gazing on that serpent which was lifted up in the wilderness, they did not perish by the bites of the serpents. For “our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed.”8 For by the serpent death is understood, which was wrought by the serpent in paradise,9 the mode of speech expressing the effect by the efficient. Therefore the rod passed into the serpent, Christ into death; and the serpent again into the rod, whole Christ with His body into the resurrection; which body is the Church;10 and this shall be in the end of time, signified by the tail, which Moses held, in order that it might return into a rod.11 But the serpents of the magicians, like those who are dead in the world, unless by believing in Christ they shall have been as it were swallowed up by,12 and have entered into, His body, will not be able to rise again in Him. Jacob’s stone, therefore, as I said, signified something better than did the serpents of the magicians; yet the deed of the magicians was much more wonderful. But these things in this way are no hindrance to the understanding of the matter; just as if the name of a man were written in gold, and that of God in ink.
21. What man, again, knows how the angels made or took those clouds and fires in order to signify the message they were bearing, even if we supposed that the Lord or the Holy Spirit was manifested in those corporeal forms? Just as infants do not know of that which is placed upon the altar and consumed after the performance of the holy celebration, whence or in what manner it is made, or whence it is taken for religious use. And if they were never to learn from their own experience or that of others, and never to see that species of thing except during the celebration of the sacrament, when it is being offered and given; and if it were told them by the most weighty authority whose body and blood it is; they will believe nothing else, except that the Lord absolutely appeared in this form to the eyes of mortals, and that that liquid actually flowed from the piercing of a side,13 which resembled this. But it is certainly a useful caution to myself, that I should remember what my own powers are, and admonish my brethren that they also remember what theirs are, lest human infirmity pass on beyond what is safe. For how the angels do these things, or rather, how God does these things by His angels, and how far He wills them to be done even by the bad angels, whether by permitting, or commanding, or compelling, from the hidden seat of His own supreme power; this I can neither penetrate by the sight of the eyes, nor make clear by assurance of reason, nor be carried on to comprehend it by reach of intellect, so as to speak thereupon to all questions that may be asked respecting these matters, as certainly as if I were an angel, or a prophet, or an apostle. “For the thoughts of mortal men are miserable, and our devices are but uncertain. For the corruptible body presseth down the soul, and the earthly tabernacle weigheth down the mind, that museth upon many things. And hardly do we guess aright at things that are upon earth, and with labor do we find the things that are before us; but the things that are in heaven, who hath searched out?” But because it goes on to say, “And Thy counsel who hath known, except Thou give wisdom, and send Thy Holy Spirit from above;”14 therefore we refrain indeed from searching out the things which are in heaven, under which kind are contained both angelical bodies according to their proper Edition: current; Page:  dignity, and any corporeal action of those bodies; yet, according to the Spirit of God sent to us from above, and to His grace imparted to our minds, I dare to say confidently, that neither God the Father, nor His Word, nor His Spirit, which is the one God, is in any way changeable in regard to that which He is, and whereby He is that which He is; and much less is in this regard visible. Since there are no doubt some things changeable, yet not visible, as are our thoughts, and memories, and wills, and the whole incorporeal creature; but there is nothing that is visible that is not also changeable.
Wherefore the substance, or, if it is better so to say, the essence of God,1 wherein we understand, in proportion to our measure, in however small a degree, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, since it is in no way changeable, can in no way in its proper self be visible.
22. It is manifest, accordingly, that all those appearances to the fathers, when God was presented to them according to His own dispensation, suitable to the times, were wrought through the creature. And if we cannot discern in what manner He wrought them by ministry of angels, yet we say that they were wrought by angels; but not from our own power of discernment, lest we should seem to any one to be wise beyond our measure, whereas we are wise so as to think soberly, as God hath dealt to us the measure of faith;2 and we believe, and therefore speak.3 For the authority is extant of the divine Scriptures, from which our reason ought not to turn aside; nor by leaving the solid support of the divine utterance, to fall headlong over the precipice of its own surmisings, in matters wherein neither the perceptions of the body rule, nor the clear reason of the truth shines forth. Now, certainly, it is written most clearly in the Epistle to the Hebrews, when the dispensation of the New Testament was to be distinguished from the dispensation of the Old, according to the fitness of ages and of times, that not only those visible things, but also the word itself, was wrought by angels. For it is said thus: “But to which of the angels said He at any time, Sit on my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool? Are they not all ministering spirits, sent forth to minister for them who shall be heirs of salvation?”4 Whence it appears that all those things were not only wrought by angels, but wrought also on our account, that is, on account of the people of God, to whom is promised the inheritance of eternal life. As it is written also to the Corinthians, “Now all these things happened unto them in a figure: and they are written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world arecome.”5 And then, demonstrating by plain consequence that as at that time the word was spoken by the angels, so now by the Son; “Therefore,” he says, “we ought to give the more earnest heed to the things which we have heard, lest at any time we should let them slip. For if the word spoken by angels was steadfast, and every transgression and disobedience received a just recompense of reward; how shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation?” And then, as though you asked, What salvation?—in order to show that he is now speaking of the New Testament, that is, of the word which was spoken not by angels, but by the Lord, he says, “Which at the first began to be spoken by the Lord, and was confirmed unto us by them that heard Him; God also bearing them witness, both with signs and wonders, and with divers miracles, and gifts of the Holy Ghost, according to His own will.”6
23. But some one may say, Why then is it written, “The Lord said to Moses;” and not, rather, The angel said to Moses? Because, when the crier proclaims the words of the judge, it is not usually written in the record, so and so the crier said, but so and so the judge. In like manner also, when the holy prophet speaks, although we say, The prophet said, we mean nothing else to be understood than that the Lord said; and if we were to say, The Lord said, we should not put the prophet aside, but only intimate who spake by him. And, indeed, these Scriptures often reveal the angel to be the Lord, of whose speaking it is from time to time said, “the Lord said,” as we have shown already. But on account of those who, since the Scripture in that place specifies an angel, will have the Son of God Himself and in Edition: current; Page:  Himself to be understood, because He is called an angel by the prophet, as announcing the will of His Father and of Himself; I have therefore thought fit to produce a plainer testimony from this epistle, where it is not said by an angel, but “by angels.”
24. For Stephen, too, in the Acts of the Apostles, relates these things in that manner in which they are also written in the Old Testament: “Men, brethren, and fathers, hearken,” he says; “The God of glory appeared unto our father Abraham, when he was in Mesopotamia.”1 But lest any one should think that the God of glory appeared then to the eyes of any mortal in that which He is in Himself, he goes on to say that an angel appeared to Moses. “Then fled Moses,” he says, “at that saying, and was a stranger in the land of Midian, where he begat two sons. And when forty years were expired, there appeared to him in the wilderness of mount Sinai an angel of the Lord in a flame of fire in a bush. When Moses saw it, he wondered at the sight: and as he drew near to behold it, the voice of the Lord came unto him, saying, I am the God of thy fathers, the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. Then Moses trembled, and durst not behold. Then said the Lord to him, Put off thy shoes from thy feet,”2 etc. Here, certainly, he speaks both of angel and of Lord; and of the same as the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob; as is written in Genesis.
25. Can there be any one who will say that the Lord appeared to Moses by an angel, but to Abraham by Himself? Let us not answer this question from Stephen, but from the book itself, whence Stephen took his narrative. For, pray, because it is written, “And the Lord God said unto Abraham;”3 and a little after, “And the Lord God appeared unto Abraham;”4 were these things, for this reason, not done by angels? Whereas it is said in like manner in another place, “And the Lord appeared to him in the plains of Mamre, as he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;” and yet it is added immediately, “And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him:”5 of whom we have already spoken. For how will these people, who either will not rise from the words to the meaning, or easily throw themselves down from the meaning to the words,—how, I say, will they be able to explain that God was seen in three men, except they confess that they were angels, as that which follows also shows? Because it is not said an angel spoke or appeared to him, will they therefore venture to say that the vision and voice granted to Moses was wrought by an angel because it is so written, but that God appeared and spake in His own substance to Abraham because there is no mention made of an angel? What of the fact, that even in respect to Abraham an angel is not left unmentioned? For when his son was ordered to be offered up as a sacrifice, we read thus: “And it came to pass after these things that God did tempt Abraham, and said unto him, Abraham: and he said, Behold, here I am. And He said, Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah; and offer him there for a burnt-offering upon one of the mountains that I will tell thee of.” Certainly God is here mentioned, not an angel. But a little afterwards Scripture hath it thus: “And Abraham stretched forth his hand, and took the knife to slay his son. And the angel of the Lord called unto him out of heaven, and said, Abraham, Abraham: and he said, Here am I. And he said, Lay not thine hand upon the lad, neither do thou anything unto him.” What can be answered to this? Will they say that God commanded that Isaac should be slain, and that an angel forbade it? and further, that the father himself, in opposition to the decree of God, who had commanded that he should be slain, obeyed the angel, who had bidden him spare him? Such an interpretation is to be rejected as absurd. Yet not even for it, gross and abject as it is, does Scripture leave any room, for it immediately adds: “For now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, on account of me.”6 What is “on account of me,” except on account of Him who had commanded him to be slain? Was then the God of Abraham the same as the angel, or was it not rather God by an angel? Consider what follows. Here, certainly, already an angel has been most clearly spoken of; yet notice the context: “And Abraham lifted up his eyes, and looked, and behold behind him a ram caught in a thicket by his horns: and Abraham went and took the ram, and offered him up for a burnt-offering in the stead of his son. And Abraham called the name of that place, The Lord saw:7 as it is said to this day, In the mount the Lord was seen.”8 Just as that Edition: current; Page:  which a little before God said by an angel, “For now I know that thou fearest God;” not because it was to be understood that God then came to know, but that He brought it to pass that through God Abraham himself came to know what strength of heart he had to obey God, even to the sacrificing of his only son: after that mode of speech in which the effect is signified by the efficient,—as cold is said to be sluggish, because it makes men sluggish; so that He was therefore said to know, because He had made Abraham himself to know, who might well have not discerned the firmness of his own faith, had it not been proved by such a trial. So here, too, Abraham called the name of the place “The Lord saw,” that is, caused Himself to be seen. For he goes on immediately to say, “As it is said to this day, In the mount the Lord was seen.” Here you see the same angel is called Lord: wherefore, unless because the Lord spake by the angel? But if we pass on to that which follows, the angel altogether speaks as a prophet, and reveals expressly that God is speaking by the angel. “And the angel of the Lord,” he says, “called unto Abraham out of heaven the second time, and said, By myself I have sworn, saith the Lord; for because thou hast done this thing, and hast not withheld thy son, thine only son, on account of me,”1 etc. Certainly these words, viz. that he by whom the Lord speaks should say, “Thus saith the Lord,” are commonly used by the prophets also. Does the Son of God say of the Father, “The Lord saith,” while He Himself is that Angel of the Father? What then? Do they not see how hard pressed they are about these three men who appeared to Abraham, when it had been said before, “The Lord appeared to him?” Were they not angels because they are called men? Let them read Daniel, saying, “Behold the man Gabriel.”2
26. But why do we delay any longer to stop their mouths by another most clear and most weighty proof, where not an angel in the singular nor men in the plural are spoken of, but simply angels; by whom not any particular word was wrought, but the Law itself is most distinctly declared to be given; which certainly none of the faithful doubts that God gave to Moses for the control of the children of Israel, or yet, that it was given by angels. So Stephen speaks: “Ye stiff-necked,” he says, “and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye. Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? and they have slain them which showed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers: who have received the Law by the disposition of angels,3 and have not kept it.”4 What is more evident than this? What more strong than such an authority? The Law, indeed, was given to that people by the disposition of angels; but the advent of our Lord Jesus Christ was by it prepared and pre-announced; and He Himself, as the Word of God, was in some wonderful and unspeakable manner in the angels, by whose disposition the Law itself was given. And hence He said in the Gospel, “For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me.”5 Therefore then the Lord was speaking by the angels; and the son of God, who was to be the Mediator of God and men, from the seed of Abraham, was preparing His own advent by the angels, that He might find some by whom He would be received, confessing themselves guilty, whom the Law unfulfilled had made transgressors. And hence the apostle also says to the Galatians, “Wherefore then serveth the Law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made, which [seed] was ordered6 through angels in the hand of a mediator;”7 that is, ordered through angels in His own hand. For He was not born in limitation, but in power. But you learn in another place that he does not mean any one of the angels as a mediator, but the Lord Jesus Christ Himself, in so far as He deigned to be made man: “For there is one God,” he says, “and one Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.”8 Hence that passover in the killing of the lamb:9 hence all those things which are figuratively spoken in the Law, of Christ to come in the flesh, and to suffer, but also to rise again, which Law was given by the disposition of angels; in which angels, were certainly the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and in which, sometimes the Father, sometimes the Son, sometimes the Holy Spirit, and sometimes God, without any distinction of person, was figuratively signified by them, although appearing in visible and sensible forms, yet by His own creature, not by His substance, in order to the seeing of which, hearts are cleansed through all those things which are seen by the eyes and heard by the ears.
27. But now, as I think, that which we had undertaken to show in this book has been Edition: current; Page:  sufficiently discussed and demonstrated, according to our capacity; and it has been established, both by probable reason, so far as a man, or rather, so far as I am able, and by strength of authority, so far as the divine declarations from the Holy Scriptures have been made clear, that those words and bodily appearances which were given to these ancient fathers of ours before the incarnation of the Saviour, when God was said to appear, were wrought by angels: whether themselves speaking or doing something in the person of God, as we have shown that the prophets also were wont to do, or assuming from the creature that which they themselves were not, wherein God might be shown in a figure to men; which manner of showing also, Scripture teaches by many examples, that the prophets, too, did not omit. It remains, therefore, now for us to consider,—since both in the Lord as born of a virgin, and in the Holy Spirit descending in a corporeal form like a dove,1 and in the tongues like as of fire, which appeared with a sound from heaven on the day of Pentecost, after the ascension of the Lord,2 it was not the Word of God Himself by His own substance, in which He is equal and co-eternal with the Father, nor the Spirit of the Father and of the Son by His own substance, in which He Himself also is equal and co-eternal with both, but assuredly a creature, such as could be formed and exist in these fashions, which appeared to corporeal and mortal senses,—it remains, I say, to consider what difference there is between these manifestations and those which were proper to the Son of God and to the Holy Spirit, although wrought by the visible creature;3 which subject we shall more conveniently begin in another book.
explains for what the son of god was sent, viz. that by christ’s dying for sinners, we were to be convinced how great is god’s love for us, and also what manner of men we are whom he loved. that the word came in the flesh, to the purpose also of enabling us to be so cleansed as to contemplate and cleave to god. that our double death was abolished by his death, being one and single. and hereupon is discussed, how the single of our saviour harmonizes to salvation with our double; and the perfection is treated at length of the senary number, to which the ratio itself of single to double is reducible. that all are gathered together from many into one by the one mediator of life, viz. christ, through whom alone is wrought the true cleansing of the soul. further it is demonstrated that the son of god, although made less by being sent, on account of the form of a servant which he took, is not therefore less than the father according to the form of god, because he was sent by himself: and that the same account is to be given of the sending of the holy spirit.
1. The knowledge of things terrestrial and celestial is commonly thought much of by men. Yet those doubtless judge better who prefer to that knowledge, the knowledge of themselves; and that mind is more praiseworthy which knows even its own weakness, than that which, without regard to this, searches out, and even comes to know, the ways of the stars, or which holds fast such knowledge already acquired, while ignorant of the way by which itself to enter into its own proper health and strength. But if any one has already become awake towards God, kindled by the warmth of the Holy Spirit, and in the love of God has become vile in his own eyes; and through wishing, yet not having strength to come in unto Him, and through the light He gives, has given heed to himself, and has found himself, and has learned that his own filthiness cannot mingle with His purity; and feels it sweet to weep and to entreat Him, that again and again He will have compassion, until he have put off all his wretchedness; and to pray confidently, as having already received of free gift the pledge of salvation through his only Saviour and Enlightener of man:—such an one, so acting, and so lamenting, knowledge does not puff up, because charity edifieth;1 for he has preferred knowledge to knowledge, he has preferred to know his own weakness, rather than to know the walls of the world, the foundations of the earth, and the pinnacles of heaven. And by obtaining this knowledge, he has obtained also sorrow;2 but sorrow for straying away from the desire of reaching his own proper country, and the Creator of it, his own blessed God. And if among men such as these, in the family of Thy Christ, O Lord my God, I groan among Thy poor, give me out of Thy bread to answer men who do not hunger and thirst after righteousness, but are sated and abound.3 But it is the vain image of those things that has sated them, not Thy truth, which they have repelled and shrunk from, and so fall into their own vanity. I certainly know how many figments the human heart gives birth to. And what is my own heart but a human heart? But I Edition: current; Page:  pray the God of my heart, that I may not vomit forth (eructuem) into these writings any of these figments for solid truths, but that there may pass into them only what the breath of His truth has breathed into me; cast out though I am from the sight of His eyes,1 and striving from afar to return by the way which the divinity of His only-begotten Son has made by His humanity. And this truth, changeable though I am, I so far drink in, as far as in it I see nothing changeable: neither in place and time, as is the case with bodies; nor in time alone, and in a certain sense place, as with the thoughts of our own spirits; nor in time alone, and not even in any semblance of place, as with some of the reasonings of our own minds. For the essence of God, whereby He is, has altogether nothing changeable, neither in eternity, nor in truth, nor in will; since there truth is eternal, love eternal; and there love is true, eternity true; and there eternity is loved, and truth is loved.
2. But since we are exiled from the unchangeable joy, yet neither cut off nor torn away from it so that we should not seek eternity, truth, blessedness, even in those changeable and temporal things (for we wish neither to die, nor to be deceived, nor to be troubled); visions have been sent to us from heaven suitable to our state of pilgrimage, in order to remind us that what we seek is not here, but that from this pilgrimage we must return thither, whence unless we originated we should not here seek these things. And first we have had to be persuaded how much God loved us, lest from despair we should not dare to look up to Him. And we needed to be shown also what manner of men we are whom He loved, lest being proud, as if of our own merits, we should recede the more from Him, and fail the more in our own strength. And hence He so dealt with us, that we might the rather profit by His strength, and that so in the weakness of humility the virtue of charity might be perfected. And this is intimated in the Psalm, where it is said, “Thou, O God, didst send a spontaneous rain, whereby Thou didst make Thine inheritance perfect, when it was weary.”2 For by “spontaneous rain” nothing else is meant than grace, not rendered to merit, but given freely,3 whence also it is called grace; for He gave it, not because we were worthy, but because He willed. And knowing this, we shall not trust in ourselves; and this is to be made “weak.” But He Himself makes us perfect, who says also to the Apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness.”4 Man, then, was to be persuaded how much God loved us, and what manner of men we were whom He loved; the former, lest we should despair; the latter, lest we should be proud. And this most necessary topic the apostle thus explains: “But God commendeth,” he says, “His love towards us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of His Son; much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by His life.”5 Also in another place: “What,” he says, “shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how has He not with Him also freely given us all things?”6 Now that which is declared to us as already done, was shown also to the ancient righteous as about to be done; that through the same faith they themselves also might be humbled, and so made weak; and might be made weak, and so perfected.
3. Because therefore the Word of God is One, by which all things were made, which is the unchangeable truth, all things are simultaneously therein, potentially and unchangeably; not only those things which are now in this whole creation, but also those which have been and those which shall be. And therein they neither have been, nor shall be, but only are; and all things are life, and all things are one; or rather it is one being and one life. For all things were so made by Him, that whatsoever was made in them was not made in Him, but was life in Him. Since, “in the beginning,” the Word was not made, but “the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and all things were made by Him;” neither had all things been made by Him, unless He had Himself been before all things and not made. But in those things which were made by Him, even body, which is not life, would not have been made by Him, except it had been life in Him before it was made. For “that which was made was already life in Him;” and not life of any kind soever: for the soul also is the life of the body, but this too is made, for it is Edition: current; Page:  changeable; and by what was it made, except by the unchangeable Word of God? For “all things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” “What, therefore, was made was already life in Him;” and not any kind of life, but “the life [which] was the light of men;” the light certainly of rational minds, by which men differ from beasts, and therefore are men. Therefore not corporeal light, which is the light of the flesh, whether it shine from heaven, or whether it be lighted by earthly fires; nor that of human flesh only, but also that of beasts, and down even to the minutest of worms. For all these things see that light: but that life was the light of men; nor is it far from any one of us, for in it “we live, and move, and have our being.”1
4. But “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not.” Now the “darkness” is the foolish minds of men, made blind by vicious desires and unbelief. And that the Word, by whom all things were made, might care for these and heal them, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” For our enlightening is the partaking of the Word, namely, of that life which is the light of men. But for this partaking we were utterly unfit, and fell short of it, on account of the uncleanness of sins. Therefore we were to be cleansed. And further, the one cleansing of the unrighteous and of the proud is the blood of the Righteous One, and the humbling of God Himself;2 that we might be cleansed through Him, made as He was what we are by nature, and what we are not by sin, that we might contemplate God, which by nature we are not. For by nature we are not God: by nature we are men, by sin we are not righteous. Wherefore God, made a righteous man, interceded with God for man the sinner. For the sinner is not congruous to the righteous, but man is congruous to man. By joining therefore to us the likeness of His humanity, He took away the unlikeness of our unrighteousness; and by being made partaker of our mortality, He made us partakers of His divinity. For the death of the sinner springing from the necessity of comdemnation is deservedly abolished by the death of the Righteous One springing from the free choice of His compassion, while His single [death and resurrection] answers to our double [death and resurrection].3 For this congruity, or suitableness, or concord, or consonance, or whatever more appropriate word there may be, whereby one is [united] to two, is of great weight in all compacting, or better, perhaps, co-adaptation, of the creature. For (as it just occurs to me) what I mean is precisely that co-adaptation which the Greeks call ἁρμονία. However this is not the place to set forth the power of that consonance of single to double which is found especially in us, and which is naturally so implanted in us (and by whom, except by Him who created us?), that not even the ignorant can fail to perceive it, whether when singing themselves or hearing others. For by this it is that treble and bass voices are in harmony, so that any one who in his note departs from it, offends extremely, not only trained skill, of which the most part of men are devoid, but the very sense of hearing. To demonstrate this, needs no doubt a long discourse; but any one who knows it, may make it plain to the very ear in a rightly ordered monochord.
5. But for our present need we must discuss, so far as God gives us power, in what manner the single of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ answers to, and is, so to say, in harmony with our double to the effect of salvation. We certainly, as no Christian doubts, are dead both in soul and body: in soul, because of sin; in body, because of the punishment of sin, and through this also in body because of sin. And to both these parts of ourselves, that is, both to soul and to body, there was need both of a medicine and of resurrection, that what had been changed for the worse might be renewed for the better. Now the death of the soul is ungodliness, and the death of the body is corruptibility, through which comes also a departure of the soul from the body. For as the soul dies when God leaves it, so the body dies when the soul leaves it; whereby the former becomes foolish, the latter lifeless. For the soul is raised up again by repentance, and the renewing of life is begun in the body still mortal by faith, by which men believe on Him who justifies Edition: current; Page:  the ungodly;1 and it is increased and strengthened by good habits from day to day, as the inner man is renewed more and more.2 But the body, being as it were the outward man, the longer this life lasts is so much the more corrupted, either by age or by disease, or by various afflictions, until it come to that last affliction which all call death. And its resurrection is delayed until the end; when also our justification itself shall be perfected ineffably. For then we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.3 But now, so long as the corruptible body presseth down the soul,4 and human life upon earth is all temptation,5 in His sight shall no man living be justified,6 in comparison of the righteousness in which we shall be made equal with the angels, and of the glory which shall be revealed in us. But why mention more proofs respecting the difference between the death of the soul and the death of the body, when the Lord in one sentence of the Gospel has made either death easily distinguishable by any one from the other, where He says, “Let the dead bury their dead”?7 For burial was the fitting disposal of a dead body. But by those who were to bury it He meant those who were dead in soul by the impiety of unbelief, such, namely, as are awakened when it is said, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”8 And there is a death which the apostle denounces, saying of the widow, “But she that liveth in pleasure is dead while she liveth.”9 Therefore the soul, which was before ungodly and is now godly, is said to have come alive again from the dead and to live, on account of the righteousness of faith. But the body is not only said to be about to die, on account of that departure of the soul which will be; but on account of the great infirmity of flesh and blood it is even said to be now dead, in a certain place in the Scriptures, namely, where the apostle says, that “the body is dead because of sin, but the spirit is life because of righteousness.”10 Now this life is wrought by faith, “since the just shall live by faith,”11 But what follows? “But if the spirit of Him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, He that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by His Spirit which dwelleth in you.”12
6. Therefore on this double death of ours our Saviour bestowed His own single death; and to cause both our resurrections, He appointed beforehand and set forth in mystery and type His own one resurrection. For He was not a sinner or ungodly, that, as though dead in spirit, He should need to be renewed in the inner man, and to be recalled as it were to the life of righteousness by repentance; but being clothed in mortal flesh, and in that alone dying, in that alone rising again, in that alone did He answer to both for us; since in it was wrought a mystery as regards the inner man, and a type as regards the outer. For it was in a mystery as regards our inner man, so as to signify the death of our soul, that those words were uttered, not only in the Psalm, but also on the cross: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me?”13 To which words the apostle agrees, saying, “Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin;” since by the crucifixion of the inner man are understood the pains of repentance, and a certain wholesome agony of self-control, by which death the death of ungodliness is destroyed, and in which death God has left us. And so the body of sin is destroyed through such a cross, that now we should not yield our members as instruments of unrighteousness unto sin.14 Because, if even the inner man certainly is renewed day by day,15 yet undoubtedly it is old before it is renewed. For that is done inwardly of which the same apostle speaks: “Put off the old man, and put on the new;” which he goes on to explain by saying, “Wherefore, putting away lying, speak every man truth.”16 But where is lying put away, unless inwardly, that he who speaketh the truth from his heart may inhabit the holy hill of God?17 But the resurrection of the body of the Lord is shown to belong to the mystery of our own inner resurrection, where, after He had risen, He says to the woman, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father;”18 with which mystery the apostle’s words agree, where he says, “If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God; set your thoughts19 on things above.”20 For not to touch Christ, unless when He had ascended to the Father, means not to have thoughts21 of Christ after a fleshly manner. Again, the death of the flesh of our Lord contains a type of the death of our outer man, since it is by such suffering most of all that He exhorts Edition: current; Page:  His servants that they should not fear those who kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul.1 Wherefore the apostle says, “That I may fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh.”2 And the resurrection of the body of the Lord is found to contain a type of the resurrection of our outward man, because He says to His disciples, “Handle me, and see; for a spirit hath not flesh and bones, as ye see me have.”3 And one of the disciples also, handling His scars, exclaimed, “My Lord and my God!”4 And whereas the entire integrity of that flesh was apparent, this was shown in that which He had said when exhorting His disciples: “There shall not a hair of your head perish.”5 For how comes it that first is said, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father;”6 and how comes it that before He ascends to the Father, He actually is touched by the disciples; unless because in the former the mystery of the inner man was intimated, in the latter a type was given of the outer man? Or can any one possibly be so without understanding, and so turned away from the truth, as to dare to say that He was touched by men before He ascended, but by women when He had ascended? It was on account of this type, which went before in the Lord, of our future resurrection in the body, that the apostle says, “Christ the first-fruits; afterward they that are Christ’s.”7 For it was the resurrection of the body to which this place refers, on account of which he also says, “Who has changed our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body.”8 The one death therefore of our Saviour brought salvation to our double death, and His one resurrection wrought for us two resurrections; since His body in both cases, that is, both in His death and in His resurrection, was ministered to us by a kind of healing suitableness, both as a mystery of the inner man, and as a type of the outer.
7. Now this ratio of the single to the double arises, no doubt, from the ternary number, since one added to two makes three; but the whole which these make reaches to the senary, for one and two and three make six. And this number is on that account called perfect, because it is completed in its own parts: for it has these three, sixth, third, and half; nor is there any other part found in it, which we can call an aliquot part. The sixth part of it, then, is one; the third part, two; the half, three. But one and two and three complete the same six. And Holy Scripture commends to us the perfection of this number, especially in this, that God finished His works in six days, and on the sixth day man was made in the image of God.9 And the Son of God came and was made the Son of man, that He might re-create us after the image of God, in the sixth age of the human race. For that is now the present age, whether a thousand years apiece are assigned to each age, or whether we trace out memorable and remarkable epochs or turning-points of time in the divine Scriptures, so that the first age is to be found from Adam until Noah, and the second thence onwards to Abraham, and then next, after the division of Matthew the evangelist, from Abraham to David, from David to the carrying away to Babylon, and from thence to the travail of the Virgin,10 which three ages joined to those other two make five. Accordingly, the nativity of the Lord began the sixth, which is now going onwards until the hidden end of time. We recognize also in this senary number a kind of figure of time, in that threefold mode of division, by which we compute one portion of time before the Law; a second, under the Law; a third, under grace. In which last time we have received the sacrament of renewal, that we may be renewed also in the end of time, in every part, by the resurrection of the flesh, and so may be made whole from our entire infirmity, not only of soul, but also of body. And thence that woman is understood to be a type of the church, who was made whole and upright by the Lord, after she had been bowed by infirmity through the binding of Satan. For those words of the Psalm lament such hidden enemies: “They bowed down my soul.”11 And this woman had her infirmity eighteen years, which is thrice six. And the months of eighteen years are found in number to be the cube of six, viz. six times six times six. Nearly, too, in the same place in the Gospel is that fig tree, which was convicted also by the third year of its miserable barrenness. But intercession was made for it, that it might be let alone that year, that year, that if it bore fruit, well; if otherwise, it should be cut down.12 For both three years Edition: current; Page:  belong to the same threefold division, and the months of three years make the square of six, which is six times six.
8. A single year also, if the whole twelve months are taken into account, which are made up of thirty days each (for the month that has been kept from of old is that which the revolution of the moon determines), abounds in the number six. For that which six is, in the first order of numbers, which consists of units up to ten, that sixty is in the second order, which consists of tens up to a hundred. Sixty days, then, are a sixth part of the year. Further, if that which stands as the sixth of the second order is multiplied by the sixth of the first order, then we make six times sixty, i.e. three hundred and sixty days, which are the whole twelve months. But since, as the revolution of the moon determines the month for men, so the year is marked by the revolution of the sun; and five days and a quarter of a day remain, that the sun may fulfill its course and end the year; for four quarters make one day, which must be intercalated in every fourth year, which they call bissextile, that the order of time may not be disturbed: if we consider, also, these five days and a quarter themselves, the number six prevails in them. First, because, as it is usual to compute the whole from a part, we must not call it five days, but rather six, taking the quarter days for one day. Next, because five days themselves are the sixth part of a month; while the quarter of a day contains six hours. For the entire day, i.e. including its night, is twenty-four hours, of which the fourth part, which is a quarter of a day, is found to be six hours. So much in the course of the year does the sixth number prevail.
9. And not without reason is the number six understood to be put for a year in the building up of the body of the Lord, as a figure of which He said that He would raise up in three days the temple destroyed by the Jews. For they said, “Forty and six years was this temple in building.”1 And six times forty-six makes two hundred and seventy-six. And this number of days completes nine months and six days, which are reckoned, as it were, ten months for the travail of women; not because all come to the sixth day after the ninth month, but because the perfection itself of the body of the Lord is found to have been brought in so many days to the birth, as the authority of the church maintains upon the tradition of the elders. For He is believed to have been conceived on the 25th of March, upon which day also He suffered; so the womb of the Virgin, in which He was conceived, where no one of mortals was begotten, corresponds to the new grave in which He was buried, wherein was never man laid,2 neither before nor since. But He was born, according to tradition, upon December the 25th. If, then you reckon from that day to this you find two hundred and seventy-six days which is forty-six times six. And in this number of years the temple was built, because in that number of sixes the body of the Lord was perfected; which being destroyed by the suffering of death, He raised again on the third day. For “He spake this of the temple of His body,”3 as is declared by the most clear and solid testimony of the Gospel; where He said, “For as Jonas was three days and three nights in the whale’s belly, so shall the Son of man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.”4
10. Scripture again witnesses that the space of those three days themselves was not whole and entire, but the first day is counted as a whole from its last part, and the third day is itself also counted as a whole from its first part; but the intervening day, i.e. the second day, was absolutely a whole with its twenty-four hours, twelve of the day and twelve of the night. For He was crucified first by the voices of the Jews in the third hour, when it was the sixth day of the week. Then He hung on the cross itself at the sixth hour, and yielded up His spirit at the ninth hour.5 But He was buried, “now when the even was come,” as the words of the evangelist express it;6 which means, at the end of the day. Wheresoever then you begin,—even if some other explanation can be given, so as not to contradict the Gospel of John,7 but to understand that He was suspended on the cross at the third hour,—still you cannot make the first day an entire day. It will be reckoned then an entire day from its last part, as the third from its first part. For the night up to the dawn, when the resurrection of the Lord was made known, belongs to the third day; because God (who commanded Edition: current; Page:  the light to shine out of darkness,1 that through the grace of the New Testament and the partaking of the resurrection of Christ the words might be spoken to us “For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord”2) intimates to us in some way that the day takes its beginning from the night. For as the first days of all were reckoned from light to night, on account of the future fall of man;3 so these on account of the restoration of man, are reckoned from darkness to light. From the hour, then, of His death to the dawn of the resurrection are forty hours, counting in also the ninth hour itself. And with this number agrees also His life upon earth of forty days after His resurrection. And this number is most frequently used in Scripture to express the mystery of perfection in the fourfold world. For the number ten has a certain perfection, and that multiplied by four makes forty. But from the evening of the burial to the dawn of the resurrection are thirty-six hours which is six squared. And this is referred to that ratio of the single to the double wherein there is the greatest consonance of co-adaptation. For twelve added to twenty-four suits the ratio of single added to double and makes thirty-six: namely a whole night with a whole day and a whole night, and this not without the mystery which I have noticed above. For not unfitly do we liken the spirit to the day and the body to the night. For the body of the Lord in His death and resurrection was a figure of our spirit and a type of our body. In this way, then, also that ratio of the single to the double is apparent in the thirty-six hours, when twelve are added to twenty-four. As to the reasons, indeed, why these numbers are so put in the Holy Scriptures, other people may trace out other reasons, either such that those which I have given are to be preferred to them, or such as are equally probable with mine, or even more probable than they are; but there is no one surely so foolish or so absurd as to contend that they are so put in the Scriptures for no purpose at all, and that there are no mystical reasons why those numbers are there mentioned. But those reasons which I have here given, I have either gathered from the authority of the church, according to the tradition of our forefathers, or from the testimony of the divine Scriptures, or from the nature itself of numbers and of similitudes. No sober person will decide against reason, no Christian against the Scriptures, no peaceable person against the church.
11. This mystery, this sacrifice, this priest, this God, before He was sent and came, being made of a woman—of Him, all those things which appeared to our fathers in a sacred and mystical way by angelical miracles, or which were done by the fathers themselves, were similitudes; in order that every creature by its acts might speak in some way of that One who was to be, in whom there was to be salvation in the recovery of all from death. For because by the wickedness of ungodliness we had recoiled and fallen away in discord from the one true and supreme God, and had in many things become vain, being distracted through many things and cleaving fast to many things; it was needful, by the decree and command of God in His mercy, that those same many things should join in proclaiming the One that should come, and that One should come so proclaimed by these many things, and that these many things should join in witnessing that this One had come; and that so, freed from the burden of these many things, we should come to that One, and dead as we were in our souls by many sins, and destined to die in the flesh on account of sin, that we should love that One who, without sin, died in the flesh for us; and by believing in Him now raised again, and by rising again with Him in the spirit through faith, that we should be justified by being made one in the one righteous One; and that we should not despair of our own resurrection in the flesh itself, when we consider that the one Head had gone before us the many members; in whom, being now cleansed through faith, and then renewed by sight, and through Him as mediator reconciled to God, we are to cleave to the One, to feast upon the One, to continue one.
12. So the Son of God Himself, the Word of God, Himself also the Mediator between God and men, the Son of man,4 equal to the Father through the unity of the Godhead, and partaker with us by the taking upon Him of humanity, interceding for us with the Father in that He was man,5 yet not concealing that He was God, one with the Father, among other things speaks thus: “Neither pray I for these alone,” He says, “but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one; as Edition: current; Page:  Thou, Father, art in me, and I in Thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that Thou hast sent me. And the glory which Thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one.”1
He did not say, I and they are one thing;2 although, in that He is the head of the church, which is His body,3 He might have said, I and they are, not one thing,4 but one person,5 because the head and the body is one Christ; but in order to show His own Godhead consubstantial with the Father (for which reason He says in another place, “I and my Father are one”6), in His own kind, that is, in the consubstantial parity of the same nature, He wills His own to be one,7 but in Himself; since they could not be so in themselves, separated as they are one from another by divers pleasures and desires and uncleannesses of sin; whence they are cleansed through the Mediator, that they may be one8 in Him, not only through the same nature in which all become from mortal men equal to the angels, but also through the same will most harmoniously conspiring to the same blessedness, and fused in some way by the fire of charity into one spirit. For to this His words come, “That they may be one, even as we are one;” namely, that as the Father and Son are one, not only in equality of substance, but also in will, so those also may be one, between whom and God the Son is mediator, not only in that they are of the same nature, but also through the same union of love. And then He goes on thus to intimate the truth itself, that He is the Mediator, through whom we are reconciled to God, by saying, “I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one.”9
13. Therein is our true peace and firm bond of union with our Creator, that we should be purified and reconciled through the Mediator of life, as we had been polluted and alienated, and so had departed from Him, through the mediator of death. For as the devil through pride led man through pride to death; so Christ through lowliness led back man through obedience to life. Since, as the one fell through being lifted up, and cast down [man] also who consented to him; so the other was raised up through being abased, and lifted up [man] also who believed in Him. For because the devil had not himself come thither whither he had led the way (inasmuch as he bare indeed in his ungodliness the death of the spirit, but had not undergone the death of the flesh, because he had not assumed the covering of the flesh), he appeared to man to be a mighty chief among the legions of devils, through whom he exercises his reign of deceits; so puffing up man the more, who is eager for power more than righteousness, through the pride of elation, or through false philosophy; or else entangling him through sacrilegious rites, in which, while casting down headlong by deceit and illusion the minds of the more curious and prouder sort, he holds him captive also to magical trickery; promising too the cleansing of the soul, through those initiations which they call τελεταί, by transforming himself into an angel of light,10 through divers machinations in signs and prodigies of lying.
14. For it is easy for the most worthless spirits to do many things by means of aerial bodies, such as to cause wonder to souls which are weighed down by earthly bodies, even though they be of the better inclined. For if earthly bodies themselves, when trained by a certain skill and practice, exhibit to men so great marvels in theatrical spectacles, that they who never saw such things scarcely believe them when told; why should it be hard for the devil and his angels to make out of corporeal elements, through their own aerial bodies, things at which the flesh marvels; or even by hidden inspirations to contrive fantastic appearances to the deluding of men’s senses, whereby to deceive them, whether awake or asleep, or to drive them into frenzy? But just as it may happen that one who is better than they in life and character may gaze at the most worthless of men, either walking on a rope, or doing by various motions of the body many things difficult of belief, and yet he may not at all desire to do such things, nor think those men on that account to be preferred to himself; so the faithful and pious soul, not only if it sees, but even if on account of the frailty of the flesh it shudders at, the miracles of demons, yet will not for that either deplore its own want of power to do such things, or judge Edition: current; Page:  them on this account to be better than itself; especially since it is in the company of the holy, who, whether they are men or good angels, accomplish, through the power of God, to whom all things are subject, wonders which are far greater and the very reverse of deceptive.
15. In no wise therefore are souls cleansed and reconciled to God by sacrilegious imitations, or curious arts that are impious, or magical incantations; since the false mediator does not translate them to higher things, but rather blocks and cuts off the way thither through the affections, malignant in proportion as they are proud, which he inspires into those of his own company; which are not able to nourish the wings of virtues so as to fly upwards, but rather to heap up the weight of vices so as to press downwards; since the soul will fall down the more heavily, the more it seems to itself to have been carried upwards. Accordingly, as the Magi did when warned of God,1 whom the star led to adore the low estate of the Lord; so we also ought to return to our country, not by the way by which we came, but by another way which the lowly King has taught, and which the proud king, the adversary of that lowly King, cannot block up. For to us, too, that we may adore the lowly Christ, the “heavens have declared the glory of God, when their sound went into all the earth, and their words to the ends of the world.”2 A way was made for us to death through sin in Adam. For, “By one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, in whom all have sinned.”3 Of this way the devil was the mediator, the persuader to sin, and the caster down into death. For he, too, applied his one death to work out our double death. Since he indeed died in the spirit through ungodliness, but certainly did not die in the flesh: yet both persuaded us to ungodliness, and thereby brought it to pass that we deserved to come into the death of the flesh. We desired therefore the one through wicked persuasion, the other followed us by a just condemnation; and therefore it is written, “God made not death,”4 since He was not Himself the cause of death; but yet death was inflicted on the sinner, through His most just retribution. Just as the judge inflicts punishment on the guilty; yet it is not the justice of the judge, but the desert of the crime, which is the cause of the punishment. Whither, then, the mediator of death caused us to pass, yet did not come himself, that is, to the death of the flesh, there our Lord God introduced for us the medicine of correction, which He deserved not, by a hidden and exceeding mysterious decree of divine and profound justice. In order, therefore, that as by one man came death, so by one man might come also the resurrection of the dead;5 because men strove more to shun that which they could not shun, viz. the death of the flesh, than the death of the spirit, i.e. punishment more than the desert of punishment (for not to sin is a thing about which either men are not solicitous or are too little solicitous; but not to die, although it be not within reach of attainment, is yet eagerly sought after); the Mediator of life, making it plain that death is not to be feared, which by the condition of humanity cannot now be escaped, but rather ungodliness, which can be guarded against through faith, meets us at the end to which we have come, but not by the way by which we came. For we, indeed, came to death through sin; He through righteousness: and, therefore, as our death is the punishment of sin, so His death was made a sacrifice for sin.
16. Wherefore, since the spirit is to be preferred to the body, and the death of the spirit means that God has left it, but the death of the body that the spirit has left it; and since herein lies the punishment in the death of the body, that the spirit leaves the body against its will, because it left God willingly; so that, whereas the spirit left God because it would, it leaves the body although it would not; nor leaves it when it would, unless it has offered violence to itself, whereby the body itself is slain: the spirit of the Mediator showed how it was through no punishment of sin that He came to the death of the flesh, because He did not leave it against His will, but because He willed, when He willed, as He willed. For because He is so commingled [with the flesh] by the Word of God as to be one, He says: “I have power to lay down my life, and I have power to take it again. No man taketh it from me, but I lay down my life that I might take it again.”6 And, as the Gospel tells us, they who were Edition: current; Page:  present were most astonished at this, that after that [last] word, in which He set forth the figure of our sin, He immediately gave up His spirit. For they who are hung on the cross are commonly tortured by a prolonged death. Whence it was that the legs of the thieves were broken, in order that they might die directly, and be taken down from the cross before the Sabbath. And that He was found to be dead already, caused wonder. And it was this also, at which, as we read, Pilate marvelled, when the body of the Lord was asked of him for burial.1
17. Because that deceiver then,—who was a mediator to death for man, and feignedly puts himself forward as to life, under the name of cleansing by sacrilegious rites and sacrifices, by which the proud are led away,—can neither share in our death, nor rise again from his own: he has indeed been able to apply his single death to our double one; but he certainly has not been able to apply a single resurrection, which should be at once a mystery of our renewal, and a type of that waking up which is to be in the end. He then who being alive in the spirit raised again His own flesh that was dead, the true Mediator of life, has cast out him, who is dead in the spirit and the mediator of death, from the spirits of those who believe in Himself, so that he should not reign within, but should assault from without, and yet not prevail. And to him, too, He offered Himself to be tempted, in order that He might be also a mediator to overcome his temptations, not only by succor, but also by example. But when the devil, from the first, although striving through every entrance to creep into His inward parts, was thrust out, having finished all his alluring temptation in the wilderness after the baptism;2 because, being dead in the spirit, he forced no entrance into Him who was alive in the spirit, he betook himself, through eagerness for the death of man in any way whatsoever, to effecting that death which he could, and was permitted to effect it upon that mortal element which the living Mediator had received from us. And where he could do anything, there in every respect he was conquered; and wherein he received outwardly the power of slaying the Lord in the flesh, therein his inward power, by which he held ourselves, was slain. For it was brought to pass that the bonds of many sins in many deaths were loosed, through the one death of One which no sin had preceded. Which death, though not due, the Lord therefore rendered for us, that the death which was due might work us no hurt. For He was not stripped of the flesh by obligation of any authority, but He stripped Himself. For doubtless He who was able not to die, if He would not, did die because He would: and so He made a show of principalities and powers, openly triumphing over them in Himself.3 For whereas by His death the one and most real sacrifice was offered up for us, whatever fault there was, whence principalities and powers held us fast as of right to pay its penalty, He cleansed, abolished, extinguished; and by His own resurrection He also called us whom He predestinated to a new life; and whom He called, them He justified; and whom He justified, them He glorified.4 And so the devil, in that very death of the flesh, lost man, whom he was possessing as by an absolute right, seduced as he was by his own consent, and over whom he ruled, himself impeded by no corruption of flesh and blood, through that frailty of man’s mortal body, whence he was both too poor and too weak; he who was proud in proportion as he was, as it were, both richer and stronger, ruling over him who was, as it were, both clothed in rags and full of troubles. For whither he drove the sinner to fall, himself not following, there by following he compelled the Redeemer to descend. And so the Son of God deigned to become our friend in the fellowship of death, to which because he came not, the enemy thought himself to be better and greater than ourselves. For our Redeemer says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”5 Wherefore also the devil thought himself superior to the Lord Himself, inasmuch as the Lord in His sufferings yielded to him; for of Him, too, is understood what is read in the Psalm, “For Thou hast made Him a little lower than the angels:”6 so that He, being Himself put to death, although innocent, by the unjust one acting against us as it were by just right, might by a most just right overcome him, and so might lead captive the captivity wrought through sin,7 and free us from a captivity that was just on account of sin, by blotting out the handwriting, and redeeming us who were to be justified although sinners, through His own righteous blood unrighteously poured out.
18. Hence also the devil mocks those who are his own until this very day, to whom he presents himself as a false mediator, as though they would be cleansed or rather entangled and drowned by his rites, in that he very Edition: current; Page:  easily persuades the proud to ridicule and despise the death of Christ, from which the more he himself is estranged, the more is he believed by them to be the holier and more divine. Yet those who have remained with him are very few, since the nations acknowledge and with pious humility imbibe the price paid for themselves, and in trust upon it abandon their enemy, and gather together to their Redeemer. For the devil does not know how the most excellent wisdom of God makes use of both his snares and his fury to bring about the salvation of His own faithful ones, beginning from the former end, which is the beginning of the spiritual creature, even to the latter end, which is the death of the body, and so “reaching from the one end to the other, mightily and sweetly ordering all things.”1 For wisdom “passeth and goeth through all things by reason of her pureness, and no defiled thing can fall into her.”2 And since the devil has nothing to do with the death of the flesh, whence comes his exceeding pride, a death of another kind is prepared in the eternal fire of hell, by which not only the spirits that have earthly, but also those who have aerial bodies, can be tormented. But proud men, by whom Christ is despised, because He died, wherein He bought us with so great a price,3 both bring back the former death, and also men, to that miserable condition of nature, which is derived from the first sin, and will be cast down into the latter death with the devil. And they on this account preferred the devil to Christ, because the former cast them into that former death, whither he himself fell not through the difference of his nature, and whither on account of them Christ descended through His great mercy: and yet they do not hesitate to believe themselves better than the devils, and do not cease to assail and denounce them with every sort of malediction, while they know them at any rate to have nothing to do with the suffering of this kind of death, on account of which they despise Christ. Neither will they take into account that the case may possibly be, that the Word of God, remaining in Himself, and in Himself in no way changeable, may yet, through the taking upon Him of a lower nature, be able to suffer somewhat of a lower kind, which the unclean spirit cannot suffer, because he has not an earthly body. And so, whereas they themselves are better than the devils, yet, because they bear a body of flesh, they can so die, as the devils certainly cannot die, who do not bear such a body. They presume much on the deaths of their own sacrifices, which they do not perceive that they sacrifice to deceitful and proud spirits; or if they have come to perceive it, think their friendship to be of some good to themselves, treacherous and envious although they are, whose purpose is bent upon nothing else except to hinder our return.
19. They do not understand, that not even the proudest of spirits themselves could rejoice in the honor of sacrifices, unless a true sacrifice was due to the one true God, in whose stead they desire to be worshipped: and that this cannot be rightly offered except by a holy and righteous priest; nor unless that which is offered be received from those for whom it is offered; and unless also it be without fault, so that it may be offered for cleansing the faulty. This at least all desire who wish sacrifice to be offered for themselves to God. Who then is so righteous and holy a priest as the only Son of God, who had no need to purge His own sins by sacrifice,4 neither original sins, nor those which are added by human life? And what could be so fitly chosen by men to be offered for them as human flesh? And what so fit for this immolation as mortal flesh? And what so clean for cleansing the faults of mortal men as the flesh born in and from the womb of a virgin, without any infection of carnal concupiscence? And what could be so acceptably offered and taken, as the flesh of our sacrifice, made the body of our priest? In such wise that, whereas four things are to be considered in every sacrifice,—to whom it is offered, by whom it is offered, what is offered, for whom it is offered,—the same One and true Mediator Himself, reconciling us to God by the sacrifice of peace, might remain one with Him to whom He offered, might make those one in Himself for whom He offered, Himself might be in one both the offerer and the offering.
20. There are, however, some who think themselves capable of being cleansed by their own righteousness, so as to contemplate God, and to dwell in God; whom their very pride itself stains above all others. For there is no Edition: current; Page:  sin to which the divine law is more opposed, and over which that proudest of spirits, who is a mediator to things below, but a barrier against things above, receives a greater right of mastery; unless either his secret snares be avoided by going another way, or if he rage openly by means of a sinful people (which Amalek, being interpreted, means), and forbid by fighting the passage to the land of promise, he be overcome by the cross of the Lord, which is prefigured by the holding out of the hands of Moses.1 For these persons promise themselves cleansing by their own righteousness for this reason, because some of them have been able to penetrate with the eye of the mind beyond the whole creature, and to touch, though it be in ever so small a part, the light of the unchangeable truth; a thing which they deride many Christians for being not yet able to do, who, in the meantime, live by faith alone. But of what use is it for the proud man, who on that account is ashamed to embark upon the ship of wood,2 to behold from afar his country beyond the sea? Or how can it hurt the humble man not to behold it from so great a distance, when he is actually coming to it by that wood upon which the other disdains to be borne?
21. These people also blame us for believing the resurrection of the flesh, and rather wish us to believe themselves concerning these things. As though, because they have been able to understand the high and unchangeable substance by the things which are made,3 for this reason they had a claim to be consulted concerning the revolutions of mutable things, or concerning the connected order of the ages. For pray, because they dispute most truly, and persuade us by most certain proofs, that all things temporal are made after a science that is eternal, are they therefore able to see clearly in the matter of this science itself, or to collect from it, how many kinds of animals there are, what are the seeds of each in their beginnings, what measure in their increase, what numbers run through their conceptions, births, ages, settings; what motions in desiring things according to their nature, and in avoiding the contrary? Have they not sought out all these things, not through that unchangeable wisdom, but through the actual history of places and times, or have trusted the written experience of others? Wherefore it is the less to be wondered at, that they have utterly failed in searching out the succession of more lengthened ages, and in finding any goal of that course, down which, as though down a river, the human race is sailing, and the transition thence of each to its own appropriate end. For these are subjects which historians could not describe, inasmuch as they are far in the future, and have been experienced and related by no one. Nor have those philosophers, who have profited better than others in that high and eternal science, been able to grasp such subjects with the understanding; otherwise they would not be inquiring as they could into past things of the kind, such as are in the province of historians, but rather would foreknow also things future; and those who are able to do this are called by them soothsayers, but by us prophets:
22.—although the name of prophets, too, is not altogether foreign to their writings. But it makes the greatest possible difference, whether things future are conjectured by experience of things past (as physicians also have committed many things to writing in the way of foresight, which they themselves have noted by experience; or as again husbandmen, or sailors, too, foretell many things; for if such predictions are made a long while before, they are thought to be divinations), or whether such things have already started on their road to come to us, and being seen coming far off, are announced in proportion to the acuteness of the sense of those who see them, by doing which the aerial powers are thought to divine (just as if a person from the top of a mountain were to see far off some one coming, and were to announce it beforehand to those who dwelt close by in the plain); or whether they are either foreannounced to certain men, or are heard by them and again transmitted to other men, by means of holy angels, to whom God shows those things by His Word and His Wisdom, wherein both things future and things past consist; or whether the minds of certain men themselves are so far borne upwards by the Holy Spirit, as to behold, not through the angels, but of themselves, the immoveable Edition: current; Page:  causes of things future, in that very highest pinnacle of the universe itself. [And I say, behold,] for the aerial powers, too, hear these things, either by message through angels, or through men; and hear only so much as He judges to be fitting, to whom all things are subject. Many things, too, are foretold by a kind of instinct and inward impulse of such as know them not: as Caiaphas did not know what he said, but being the high priest, he prophesied.1
23. Therefore, neither concerning the successions of ages, nor concerning the resurrection of the dead, ought we to consult those philosophers, who have understood as much as they could the eternity of the Creator, in whom “we live, and move, and have our being.”2 Since, knowing God through those things which are made, they have not glorified Him as God, neither were thankful; but professing themselves wise, they became fools.3 And whereas they were not fit to fix the eye of the mind so firmly upon the eternity of the spiritual and unchangeable nature, as to be able to see, in the wisdom itself of the Creator and Governor of the universe, those revolutions of the ages, which in that wisdom were already and were always, but here were about to be so that as yet they were not; or, again, to see therein those changes for the better, not of the souls only, but also of the bodies of men, even to the perfection of their proper measure; whereas then, I say, they were in no way fit to see these things therein, they were not even judged worthy of receiving any announcement of them by the holy angels; whether externally through the senses of the body, or by interior revelations exhibited in the spirit; as these things actually were manifested to our fathers, who were gifted with true piety, and who by foretelling them, obtaining credence either by present signs, or by events close at hand, which turned out as they had foretold, earned authority to be believed respecting things remotely future, even to the end of the world. But the proud and deceitful powers of the air, even if they are found to have said through their soothsayers some things of the fellowship and citizenship of the saints, and of the true Mediator, which they heard from the holy prophets or the angels, did so with the purpose of seducing even the faithful ones of God, if they could, by these alien truths, to revolt to their own proper falsehoods. But God did this by those who knew not what they said, in order that the truth might sound abroad from all sides, to aid the faithful, to be a witness against the ungodly.
24. Since, then, we were not fit to take hold of things eternal, and since the foulness of sins weighed us down, which we had contracted by the love of temporal things, and which were implanted in us as it were naturally, from the root of mortality, it was needful that we should be cleansed. But cleansed we could not be, so as to be tempered together with things eternal, except it were through things temporal, wherewith we were already tempered together and held fast. For health is at the opposite extreme from disease; but the intermediate process of healing does not lead us to perfect health, unless it has some congruity with the disease. Things temporal that are useless merely deceive the sick; things temporal that are useful take up those that need healing, and pass them on healed, to things eternal. And the rational mind, as when cleansed it owes contemplation to things eternal; so, when needing cleansing, owes faith to things temporal. One even of those who were formerly esteemed wise men among the Greeks has said, The truth stands to faith in the same relation in which eternity stands to that which has a beginning. And he is no doubt right in saying so. For what we call temporal, he describes as having had a beginning. And we also ourselves come under this kind, not only in respect to the body, but also in respect to the changeableness of the soul. For that is not properly called eternal which undergoes any degree of change. Therefore, in so far as we are changeable, in so far we stand apart from eternity. But life eternal is promised to us through the truth, from the clear knowledge of which, again, our faith stands as far apart as mortality does from eternity. We then now put faith in things done in time on our account, and by that faith itself we are cleansed; in order that when we have come to sight, as truth follows faith, so eternity may follow upon mortality. And therefore, since our faith will become truth, when we have attained to that which is promised to us who believe: and that which is promised us is eternal life; and the Truth (not that which shall come to be according as our faith shall be, but that truth which is always, because in it is eternity,—the Truth then) has said, “And this is life eternal, that Edition: current; Page:  they might know Thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent:”1 when our faith by seeing shall come to be truth, then eternity shall possess our now changed mortality. And until this shall take place, and in order that it may take place,—because we adapt the faith of belief to things which have a beginning, as in things eternal we hope for the truth of contemplation, lest the faith of mortal life should be at discord with the truth of eternal life,—the Truth itself, co-eternal with the Father, took a beginning from earth,2 when the Son of God so came as to become the Son of man, and to take to Himself our faith, that He might thereby lead us on to His own truth, who so undertook our mortality, as not to lose His own eternity. For truth stands to faith in the relation in which eternity stands to that which has a beginning. Therefore, we must needs so be cleansed, that we may come to have such a beginning as remains eternal, that we may not have one beginning in faith, and another in truth. Neither could we pass to things eternal from the condition of having a beginning, unless we were transferred, by union of the eternal to ourselves through our own beginning, to His own eternity. Therefore our faith has, in some measure, now followed thither, whither He in whom we have believed has ascended; born,3 dead, risen again, taken up. Of these four things, we knew the first two in ourselves. For we know that men both have a beginning and die. But the remaining two, that is, to be raised, and to be taken up, we rightly hope will be in us, because we have believed them done in Him. Since, therefore, in Him that, too, which had a beginning has passed over to eternity, in ourselves also it will so pass over, when faith shall have arrived at truth. For to those who thus believe, in order that they might remain in the word of faith, and being thence led on to the truth, and through that to eternity, might be freed from death, He speaks thus: “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed.” And as though they would ask, With what fruit? He proceeds to say, “And ye shall know the truth.” And again, as though they would say, Of what good is truth to mortal men? “And the truth,” He says, “shall make you free.”4 From what, except from death, from corruption, from changeableness? Since truth remains immortal, incorrupt, unchangeable. But true immortality, true incorruptibility, true unchangeableness, is eternity itself.
25. Behold, then, why the Son of God was sent; nay, rather behold what it is for the Son of God to be sent. Whatever things they were which were wrought in time, with a view to produce faith, whereby we might be cleansed so as to contemplate truth, in things that have a beginning, which have been put forth from eternity, and are referred back to eternity: these were either testimonies of this mission, or they were the mission itself of the Son of God. But some of these testimonies announced Him beforehand as to come, some testified that He had come already. For that He was made a creature by whom the whole creation was made, must needs find a witness in the whole creation. For except one were preached by the sending of many [witnesses] one would not be bound to, the sending away of many. And unless there were such testimonies as should seem to be great to those who are lowly, it would not be believed, that He being great should make men great, who as lowly was sent to the lowly. For the heaven and the earth and all things in them are incomparably greater works of the Son of God, since all things were made by Him, than the signs and the portents which broke forth in testimony of Him. But yet men, in order that, being lowly, they might believe these great things to have been wrought by Him, trembled at those lowly things, as if they had been great.
26. “When, therefore, the fullness of time was come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law;”5 to such a degree lowly, that He was “made;” in this way therefore sent, in that He was made. If, therefore, the greater sends the less, we too, acknowledge Him to have been made less; and in so far less, in so far as made; and in so far made, in so far as sent. For “He sent forth His Son made of a woman.” And yet, because all things were made by Him, not only before He was made and sent, but before all things were at all, we confess the same to be equal to the sender, whom we call less, as having been sent. In what way, then, could He be seen by the fathers, when certain angelical visions were shown to them, before that fullness of time at which it was fitting He should be sent, and so before He was sent, at a time when not yet sent He was seen as He is equal with the Father? For Edition: current; Page:  how does He say to Philip, by whom He was certainly seen as by all the rest, and even by those by whom He was crucified in the flesh, “Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me, hath seen the Father also;” unless because He was both seen and yet not seen? He was seen, as He had been made in being sent; He was not seen, as by Him all things were made. Or how does He say this too, “He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me; and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him,”1 at a time when He was manifest before the eyes of men; unless because He was offering that flesh, which the Word was made in the fullness of time, to be accepted by our faith; but was keeping back the Word itself, by whom all things were made, to be contemplated in eternity by the mind when cleansed by faith?
27. But if the Son is said to be sent by the Father on this account, that the one is the Father, and the other the Son, this does not in any manner hinder us from believing the Son to be equal, and consubstantial, and co-eternal with the Father, and yet to have been sent as Son by the Father. Not because the one is greater, the other less; but because the one is Father, the other Son; the one begetter, the other begotten; the one, He from whom He is who is sent; the other, He who is from Him who sends. For the Son is from the Father, not the Father from the Son. And according to this manner we can now understand that the Son is not only said to have been sent because “the Word was made flesh,”2 but therefore sent that the Word might be made flesh, and that He might perform through His bodily presence those things which were written; that is, that not only is He understood to have been sent as man, which the Word was made but the Word, too, was sent that it might be made man; because He was not sent in respect to any inequality of power, or substance, or anything that in Him was not equal to the Father; but in respect to this, that the Son is from the Father, not the Father from the Son; for the Son is the Word of the Father, which is also called His wisdom. What wonder, therefore, if He is sent, not because He is unequal with the Father, but because He is “a pure emanation (manatio) issuing from the glory of the Almighty God?” For there, that which issues, and that from which it issues, is of one and the same substance. For it does not issue as water issues from an aperture of earth or of stone, but as light issues from light. For the words, “For she is the brightness of the everlasting light,” what else are they than, she is light of everlasting light? For what is the brightness of light, except light itself? and so co-eternal, with the light, from which the light is. But it is preferable to say, “the brightness of light,” rather than “the light of light;” lest that which issues should be thought to be darker than that from which it issues. For when one hears of the brightness of light as being light itself, it is more easy to believe that the former shines by means of the latter, than that the latter shines less. But because there was no need of warning men not to think that light to be less, which begat the other (for no heretic ever dared say this, neither is it to be believed that any one will dare to do so), Scripture meets that other thought, whereby that light which issues might seem darker than that from which it issues; and it has removed this surmise by saying, “It is the brightness of that light,” namely, of eternal light, and so shows it to be equal. For if it were less, then it would be its darkness, not its brightness; but if it were greater, then it could not issue from it, for it could not surpass that from which it is educed. Therefore, because it issues from it, it is not greater than it is; and because it is not its darkness, but its brightness, it is not less than it is: therefore it is equal. Nor ought this to trouble us, that it is called a pure emanation issuing from the glory of the Almighty God, as if itself were not omnipotent, but an emanation from the Omnipotent; for soon after it is said of it, “And being but one, she can do all things.”3 But who is omnipotent, unless He who can do all things? It is sent, therefore, by Him from whom it issues; for so she is sought after by him who loved and desired her. “Send her,” he says, “out of Thy holy heavens, and from the throne of Thy glory, that, being present, she may labor with me;”4 that is, may teach me to labor [heartily] in order that I may not labor [irksomely]. For her labors are virtues. But she is sent in one way that she may be with man; she has been sent in another way that she herself may be man. For, Edition: current; Page:  “entering into holy souls, she maketh them friends of God and prophets;”1 so she also fills the holy angels, and works all things fitting for such ministries by them.2 But when the fullness of time was come, she was sent,3 not to fill angels, nor to be an angel, except in so far as she announced the counsel of the Father, which was her own also; nor, again, to be with men or in men, for this too took place before, both in the fathers and in the prophets; but that the Word itself should be made flesh, that is, should be made man. In which future mystery, when revealed, was to be the salvation of those wise and holy men also, who, before He was born of the Virgin, were born of women; and in which, when done and made known, is the salvation of all who believe, and hope, and love. For this is “the great mystery of godliness, which4 was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”5
28. Therefore the Word of God is sent by Him, of whom He is the Word; He is sent by Him, from whom He was begotten (genitum); He sends who begot, That is sent which is begotten. And He is then sent to each one, when He is apprehended and perceived by each, in so far as He can be apprehended and perceived, in proportion to the comprehension of the rational soul, either advancing towards God, or already perfect in God. The Son, therefore, is not properly said to have been sent in that He is begotten of the Father; but either in that the Word made flesh appeared to the world, whence He says, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world;”6 or in that from time to time, He is perceived by the mind of each, according to the saying, “Send her, that, being present with me, she may labor with me.”7 What then is born (natum) from eternity is eternal, “for it is the brightness of the everlasting light;” but what is sent from time to time, is that which is apprehended by each. But when the Son of God was made manifest in the flesh, He was sent into this world in the fullness of time, made of a woman. “For after that, in the wisdom of God, the world by wisdom knew not God” (since “the light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not”), it “pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe,”8 and that the Word should be made flesh, and dwell among us.9 But when from time to time He comes forth and is perceived by the mind of each, He is said indeed to be sent, but not into this world; for He does not appear sensibly, that is, He does not present Himself to the corporeal senses. For we ourselves, too, are not in this world, in respect to our grasping with the mind as far as we can that which is eternal; and the spirits of all the righteous are not in this world, even of those who are still living in the flesh, in so far as they have discernment in things divine. But the Father is not said to be sent, when from time to time He is apprehended by any one, for He has no one of whom to be, or from whom to proceed; since Wisdom says, “I came out of the mouth of the Most High,”10 and it is said of the Holy Spirit, “He proceedeth from the Father,”11 but the Father is from no one.
29. As, therefore, the Father begat, the Son is begotten; so the Father sent, the Son was sent. But in like manner as He who begat and He who was begotten, so both He who sent and He who was sent, are one, since the Father and the Son are one.12 So also the Holy Spirit is one with them, since these three are one. For as to be born, in respect to the Son, means to be from the Father; so to be sent, in respect to the Son, means to be known to be from the Father. And as to be the gift of God in respect to the Holy Spirit, means to proceed from the Father; so to be sent, is to be known to proceed from the Father. Neither can we say that the Holy Spirit does not also proceed from the Son, for the same Spirit is not without reason said to be the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son.13 Nor do I see what else He intended to signify, when He breathed on the face of the disciples, and said, “Receive ye the Holy Ghost.”14 For that bodily breathing, proceeding from the body with the feeling of bodily touching, was not the substance of the Holy Spirit, but a declaration by a fitting sign, that the Holy Spirit proceeds not only from the Father, but also from the Son. For the veriest of madmen would not say, that it was one Spirit which He gave when He breathed on them, and another which He sent after His ascension.15 For the Spirit of God is one, the Spirit of the Father and of the Son, the Holy Spirit, who worketh all in all.16 But that He was given twice was certainly a significant economy, which we will Edition: current; Page:  discuss in its place, as far as the Lord may grant. That then which the Lord says,—“Whom I will send unto you from the Father,”1—shows the Spirit to be both of the Father and of the Son; because, also, when He had said, “Whom the Father will send,” He added also, “in my name.”2 Yet He did not say, Whom the Father will send from me, as He said, “Whom I will send unto you from the Father,”—showing, namely, that the Father is the beginning (principium) of the whole divinity, or if it is better so expressed, deity.3 He, therefore, who proceeds from the Father and from the Son, is referred back to Him from whom the Son was born (natus). And that which the evangelist says, “For the Holy Ghost was not yet given, because that Jesus was not yet glorified;”4 how is this to be understood, unless because the special giving or sending of the Holy Spirit after the glorification of Christ was to be such as it had never been before? For it was not previously none at all, but it had not been such as this. For if the Holy Spirit was not given before, wherewith were the prophets who spoke filled? Whereas the Scripture plainly says, and shows in many places, that they spake by the Holy Spirit. Whereas, also, it is said of John the Baptist, “And he shall be filled with the Holy Ghost, even from his mother’s womb.” And his father Zacharias is found to have been filled with the Holy Ghost, so as to say such things of him. And Mary, too, was filled with the Holy Ghost, so as to foretell such things of the Lord, whom she was bearing in her womb.5 And Simeon and Anna were filled with the Holy Spirit, so as to acknowledge the greatness of the little child Christ.6 How, then, was “the Spirit not yet given, since Jesus was not yet glorified,” unless because that giving, or granting, or mission of the Holy Spirit was to have a certain speciality of its own in its very advent, such as never was before? For we read nowhere that men spoke in tongues which they did not know, through the Holy Spirit coming upon them; as happened then, when it was needful that His coming should be made plain by visible signs, in order to show that the whole world, and all nations constituted with different tongues, should believe in Christ through the gift of the Holy Spirit, to fulfill that which is sung in the Psalm, “There is no speech nor language where their voice is not heard; their sound is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world.”7
30. Therefore man was united, and in some sense commingled, with the Word of God, so as to be One Person, when the fullness of time was come, and the Son of God, made of a woman, was sent into this world, that He might be also the Son of man for the sake of the sons of men. And this person angelic nature could prefigure beforehand, so as to pre-announce, but could not appropriate, so as to be that person itself.
But with respect to the sensible showing of the Holy Spirit, whether by the shape of a dove,8 or by fiery tongues,9 when the subjected and subservient creature by temporal motions and forms manifested His substance co-eternal with the Father and the Son, and alike with them unchangeable, while it was not united so as to be one person with Him, as the flesh was which the Word was made;10 I do not dare to say that nothing of the kind was done aforetime. But I would boldly say, that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, of one and the same substance, God the Creator, the Omnipotent Trinity, work indivisibly; but that this cannot be indivisibly manifested by the creature, which is far inferior, and least of all by the bodily creature: just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit cannot be named by our words, which certainly are bodily sounds, except in their own proper intervals of time, divided by a distinct separation, which intervals the proper syllables of each word occupy. Since in their proper substance wherein they are, the three are one, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, the very same, by no temporal motion, above the whole creature, without any interval of time and place, and at once one and the same from eternity to eternity, as it were eternity itself, which is not without truth Edition: current; Page:  and charity. But, in my words, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are separated, and cannot be named at once, and occupy their own proper places separately invisible letters. And as, when I name my memory, and intellect, and will, each name refers to each severally, but yet each is uttered by all three; for there is no one of these three names that is not uttered by both my memory and my intellect and my will together [by the soul as a whole]; so the Trinity together wrought both the voice of the Father, and the flesh of the Son, and the dove of the Holy Spirit, while each of these things is referred severally to each person. And by this similitude it is in some degree discernible, that the Trinity, which is inseparable in itself, is manifested separably by the appearance of the visible creature; and that the operation of the Trinity is also inseparable in each severally of those things which are said to pertain properly to the manifesting of either the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit.
31. If then I am asked, in what manner either words or sensible forms and appearances were wrought before the incarnation of the Word of God, which should prefigure it as about to come, I reply that God wrought those things by the angels; and this I have also shown sufficiently, as I think, by testimonies of the Holy Scriptures. And if I am asked how the incarnation itself was brought to pass, I reply that the Word of God itself was made flesh, that is, was made man, yet not turned and changed into that which was made; but so made, that there should be there not only the Word of God and the flesh of man, but also the rational soul of man, and that this whole should both be called God on account of God, and man on account of man. And if this is understood with difficulty, the mind must be purged by faith, by more and more abstaining from sins, and by doing good works, and by praying with the groaning of holy desires; that by profiting through the divine help, it may both understand and love. And if I am asked, how, after the incarnation of the Word, either a voice of the Father was produced, or a corporeal appearance by which the Holy Spirit was manifested: I do not doubt indeed that this was done through the creature; but whether only corporeal and sensible, or whether by the employment also of the spirit rational or intellectual (for this is the term by which some choose to call what the Greeks name νοερόν), not certainly so as to form one person (for who could possibly say that whatever creature it was by which the voice of the Father sounded, is in such sense God the Father; or whatever creature it was by which the Holy Spirit was manifested in the form of a dove, or in fiery tongues, is in such sense the Holy Spirit, as the Son of God is that man who was made of a virgin?), but only to the ministry of bringing about such intimations as God judged needful; or whether anything else is to be understood: is difficult to discover, and not expedient rashly to affirm. Yet I see not how those things could have been brought to pass without the rational or intellectual creature. But it is not yet the proper place to explain, as the Lord may give me strength, why I so think; for the arguments of heretics must first be discussed and refuted, which they do not produce from the divine books, but from their own reasons, and by which, as they think, they forcibly compel us so to understand the testimonies of the Scriptures which treat of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit, as they themselves will.
32. But now, as I think, it has been sufficiently shown, that the Son is not therefore less because He is sent by the Father, nor the Holy Spirit less because both the Father sent Him and the Son. For these things are perceived to be laid down in the Scriptures, either on account of the visible creature; or rather on account of commending to our thoughts the emanation [within the Godhead];1 but not on account of inequality, or imparity, or unlikeness of substance; since, even if God the Father had willed to appear visibly through the subject creature, yet it would be most absurd to say that He was sent either by the Son, whom He begot, or by the Holy Spirit, who proceeds from Him. Let this, therefore, be the limit of the present book. Henceforth in the rest we shall see, the Lord helping, of what sort are those crafty arguments of the heretics, and in what manner they may be confuted.
proceeds to treat of the arguments put forward by the heretics, not from scripture, but from their own reason. those are refuted, who think the substance of the father and of the son to be not the same, because everything predicated of god is, in their opinion, predicated of him according to substance; and therefore it follows, that to beget and to be begotten, or to be begotten and unbegotten, being diverse, are diverse substances; whereas it is here demonstrated that not everything predicated of god is predicated according to substance, in such manner as he is called good and great according to substance, or anything else that is predicated of him in respect to himself; but that some things are also predicated of him relatively, i. e. not in respect to himself, but to something not himself, as he is called father in respect to the son, and lord in respect to the creature that serveth him; in which case, if anything thus predicated relatively, i. e. in respect to something not himself, is even predicated as happening in time, as e. g. “lord, thou hast become our refuge,” yet nothing happens to god so as to work a change in him, but he himself remains absolutely unchangeable in his own nature or essence.
1. Beginning, as I now do henceforward, to speak of subjects which cannot altogether be spoken as they are thought, either by any man, or, at any rate, not by myself; although even our very thought, when we think of God the Trinity, falls (as we feel) very far short of Him of whom we think, nor comprehends Him as He is; but He is seen, as it is written, even by those who are so great as was the Apostle Paul, “through a glass and in an enigma:”1 first, I pray to our Lord God Himself, of whom we ought always to think, and of whom we are not able to think worthily, in praise of whom blessing is at all times to be rendered,2 and whom no speech is sufficient to declare, that He will grant me both help for understanding and explaining that which I design, and pardon if in anything I offend. For I bear in mind, not only my desire, but also my infirmity. I ask also of my readers to pardon me, where they may perceive me to have had the desire rather than the power to speak, what they either understand better themselves, or fail to understand through the obscurity of my language, just as I myself pardon them what they cannot understand through their own dullness.
2. And we shall mutually pardon one another the more easily, if we know, or at any rate firmly believe and hold, that whatever is said of a nature, unchangeable, invisible and having life absolutely and sufficient to itself, must not be measured after the custom of things visible, and changeable, and mortal, or not self-sufficient. But although we labor, and yet fail, to grasp and know even those things which are within the scope of our corporeal senses, or what we are ourselves in the inner man; yet it is with no shamelessness that faithful piety burns after those divine and unspeakable things which are above: piety, I say, not inflated by the arrogance of its own power, but inflamed by the grace of Edition: current; Page:  its Creator and Saviour Himself. For with what understanding can man apprehend God, who does not yet apprehend that very understanding itself of his own, by which he desires to apprehend Him? And if he does already apprehend this, let him carefully consider that there is nothing in his own nature better than it; and let him see whether he can there see any outlines of forms, or brightness of colors, or greatness of space, or distance of parts, or extension of size, or any movements through intervals of place, or any such thing at all. Certainly we find nothing of all this in that, than which we find nothing better in our own nature, that is, in our own intellect, by which we apprehend wisdom according to our capacity. What, therefore, we do not find in that which is our own best, we ought not to seek in Him who is far better than that best of ours; that so we may understand God, if we are able, and as much as we are able, as good without quality, great without quantity, a creator though He lack nothing, ruling but from no position, sustaining all things without “having” them, in His wholeness everywhere, yet without place, eternal without time, making things that are changeable, without change of Himself, and without passion. Whoso thus thinks of God, although he cannot yet find out in all ways what He is, yet piously takes heed, as much as he is able, to think nothing of Him that He is not.
3. He is, however, without doubt, a substance, or, if it be better so to call it, an essence, which the Greeks call οὐσία. For as wisdom is so called from the being wise, and knowledge from knowing; so from being1 comes that which we call essence. And who is there that is, more than He who said to His servant Moses, “I am that I am;” and, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, He who is hath sent me unto you?”2 But other things that are called essences or substances admit of accidents, whereby a change, whether great or small, is produced in them. But there can be no accident of this kind in respect to God; and therefore He who is God is the only unchangeable substance or essence, to whom certainly being itself, whence comes the name of essence, most especially and most truly belongs. For that which is changed does not retain its own being; and that which can be changed, although it be not actually changed, is able not to be that which it had been; and hence that which not only is not changed, but also cannot at all be changed, alone falls most truly, without difficulty or hesitation, under the category of being.
4. Wherefore,—to being now to answer the adversaries of our faith, respecting those things also, which are neither said as they are thought, nor thought as they really are:—among the many things which the Arians are wont to dispute against the Catholic faith, they seem chiefly to set forth this, as their most crafty device, namely, that whatsoever is said or understood of God, is said not according to accident, but according to substance: and therefore, to be unbegotten belongs to the Father according to substance, and to be begotten belongs to the Son according to substance; but to be unbegotten and to be begotten are different; therefore the substance of the Father and that of the Son are different. To whom we reply, If whatever is spoken of God is spoken according to substance, then that which is said, “I and the Father are one,”3 is spoken according to substance. Therefore there is one substance of the Father and the Son. Or if this is not said according to substance, then something is said of God not according to substance, and therefore we are no longer compelled to understand unbegotten and begotten according to substance. It is also said of the Son, “He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”4 We ask, equal according to what? For if He is not said to be equal according to substance, then they admit that something may be said of God not according to substance. Let them admit, then, that unbegotten and begotten are not spoken according to substance. And if they do not admit this, on the ground that they will have all things to be spoken of God according to substance, then the Son is equal to the Father according to substance.
5. That which is accidental commonly implies that it can be lost by some change of the thing to which it is an accident. For although some accidents are said to be inseparable, which in Greek are called ὰχώριστα, as the color black is to the feather of a raven; Edition: current; Page:  yet the feather loses that color, not indeed so long as it is a feather, but because the feather is not always. Wherefore the matter itself is changeable; and whenever that animal or that feather ceases to be, and the whole of that body is changed and turned into earth, it loses certainly that color also. Although the kind of accident which is called separable may likewise be lost, not by separation, but by change; as, for instance, blackness is called a separable accident to the hair of men, because hair continuing to be hair can grow white; yet, if carefully considered, it is sufficiently apparent, that it is not as if anything departed by separation away from the head when it grows white, as though blackness departed thence and went somewhere, and whiteness came in its place, but that the quality of color there is turned and changed. Therefore there is nothing accidental in God, because there is nothing changeable or that may be lost. But if you choose to call that also accidental, which, although it may not be lost, yet can be decreased or increased,—as, for instance, the life of the soul: for as long as it is a soul, so long it lives, and because the soul is always, it always lives; but because it lives more when it is wise, and less when it is foolish, here, too, some change comes to pass, not such that life is absent, as wisdom is absent to the foolish, but such that it is less;—nothing of this kind, either, happens to God, because He remains altogether unchangeable.
6. Wherefore nothing in Him is said in respect to accident, since nothing is accidental to Him, and yet all that is said is not said according to substance. For in created and changeable things, that which is not said according to substance, must, by necessary alternative, be said according to accident. For all things are accidents to them, which can be either lost or diminished, whether magnitudes or qualities; and so also is that which is said in relation to something, as friendships, relationships, services, likenesses, equalities, and anything else of the kind; so also positions and conditions,1 places and times, acts and passions. But in God nothing is said to be according to accident, because in Him nothing is changeable; and yet everything that is said, is not said according to substance. For it is said in relation to something, as the Father in relation to the Son and the Son in relation to the Father, which is not accident; because both the one is always Father, and the other is always Son: yet not “always,” meaning from the time when the Son was born [natus], so that the Father ceases not to be the Father because the Son never ceases to be the Son, but because the Son was always born, and never began to be the Son. But if He had begun to be at any time, or were at any time to cease to be, the Son, then He would be called Son according to accident. But if the Father, in that He is called the Father, were so called in relation to Himself, not to the Son; and the Son, in that He is called the Son, were so called in relation to Himself, not to the Father; then both the one would be called Father, and the other Son, according to substance. But because the Father is not called the Father except in that He has a Son, and the Son is not called Son except in that He has a Father, these things are not said according to substance; because each of them is not so called in relation to Himself, but the terms are used reciprocally and in relation each to the other; nor yet according to accident, because both the being called the Father, and the being called the Son, is eternal and unchangeable to them. Wherefore, although to be the Father and to be the Son is different, yet their substance is not different; because they are so called, not according to substance, but according to relation, which relation, however, is not accident, because it is not changeable.
7. But if they think they can answer this reasoning thus,—that the Father indeed is so called in relation to the Son, and the Son in relation to the Father, but that they are said to be unbegotten and begotten in relation to themselves, not in relation each to the other; for that it is not the same thing to call Him unbegotten as it is to call Him the Father, because there would be nothing to hinder our calling Him unbegotten even if He had not begotten the Son; and if any one beget a son, he is not therefore himself unbegotten, for men, who are begotten by other men, themselves also beget others; and therefore they say the Father is called Father in relation to the Son, and the Son is called Son in relation to the Father, but unbegotten is said in relation to Himself, and begotten in relation to Himself; and therefore, if whatever is said in relation to oneself is said according to substance, Edition: current; Page:  while to be unbegotten and to be begotten are different, then the substance is different:—if this is what they say, then they do not understand that they do indeed say something that requires more careful discussion in respect to the term unbegotten, because neither is any one therefore a father because unbegotten, nor therefore unbegotten because he is a father, and on that account he is supposed to be called unbegotten, not in relation to anything else, but in respect to himself; but, on the other hand, with a wonderful blindness, they do not perceive that no one can be said to be begotten except in relation to something. For he is therefore a son because begotten; and because a son, therefore certainly begotten. And as is the relation of son to father, so is the relation of the begotten to the begetter; and as is the relation of father to son, so is the relation of the begetter to the begotten. And therefore any one is understood to be a begetter under one notion, but understood to be unbegotten under another. For though both are said of God the Father, yet the former is said in relation to the begotten, that is to the Son, which, indeed, they do not deny; but that He is called unbegotten, they declare to be said in respect to Himself. They say then, If anything is said to be a father in respect to itself, which cannot be said to be a son in respect to itself, and whatever is said in respect to self is said according to substance; and He is said to be unbegotten in respect to Himself, which the Son cannot be said to be; therefore He is said to be unbegotten according to substance; and because the Son cannot be so said to be, therefore He is not of the same substance. This subtlety is to be answered by compelling them to say themselves according to what it is that the Son is equal to the Father; whether according to that which is said in relation to Himself, or according to that which is said in relation to the Father. For it is not according to that which is said in relation to the Father, since in relation to the Father He is said to be Son, and the Father is not Son, but Father. Since Father and Son are not so called in relation to each other in the same way as friends and neighbors are; for a friend is so called relatively to his friend, and if they love each other equally, then the same friendship is in both; and a neighbor is so called relatively to a neighbor, and because they are equally neighbors to each other (for each is neighbor to the other, in the same degree as the other is neighbor to him), there is the same neighborhood in both. But because the Son is not so called relatively to the Son, but to the Father, it is not according to that which is said in relation to the Father that the Son is equal to the Father; and it remains that He is equal according to that which is said in relation to Himself. But whatever is said in relation to self is said according to substance: it remains therefore that He is equal according to substance; therefore the substance of both is the same. But when the Father is said to be unbegotten, it is not said what He is, but what He is not; and when a relative term is denied, it is not denied according to substance, since the relative itself is not affirmed according to substance.
8. This is to be made clear by examples. And first we must notice, that by the word begotten is signified the same thing as is signified by the word son. For therefore a son, because begotten, and because a son, therefore certainly begotten. By the word unbegotten, therefore, it is declared that he is not son. But begotten and unbegotten are both of them terms suitably employed; whereas in Latin we can use the word “filius,” but the custom of the language does not allow us to speak of “infilius.” It makes no difference, however, in the meaning if he is called “non filius;” just as it is precisely the same thing if he is called “non genitus,” instead of “ingenitus.” For so the terms of both neighbor and friend are used relatively, yet we cannot speak of “invicinus” as we can of “inimicus.” Wherefore, in speaking of this thing or that, we must not consider what the usage of our own language either allows or does not allow, but what clearly appears to be the meaning of the things themselves. Let us not therefore any longer call it unbegotten, although it can be so called in Latin; but instead of this let us call it not begotten, which means the same. Is this then anything else than saying that he is not a son? Now the prefixing of that negative particle does not make that to be said according to substance, which, without it, is said relatively; but that only is denied, which, without it, was affirmed, as in the other predicaments. When we say he is a man, we denote substance. He therefore who says he is not a man, enunciates no other kind of predicament, but only denies that. As therefore I affirm according to substance in saying he is a man, so I deny according to substance in saying he is not a man. And when the question is asked, how large he is? and I say he is quadrupedal, that is, four feet in measure, Edition: current; Page:  I affirm according to quantity, and he who says he is not quadrupedal, denies according to quantity. I say he is white, I affirm according to quality; if I say he is not white, I deny according to quality. I say he is near, I affirm according to relation; if I say he is not near, I deny according to relation. I affirm according to position, when I say he lies down; I deny according to position, when I say he does not lie down. I speak according to condition,1 when I say he is armed; I deny according to condition, when I say he is not armed; and it comes to the same thing as if I should say he is unarmed. I affirm according to time, when I say he is of yesterday; I deny according to time, when I say he is not of yesterday. And when I say he is at Rome, I affirm according to place; and I deny according to place, when I say he is not at Rome. I affirm according to the predicament of action, when I say he smites; but if I say he does not smite, I deny according to action, so as to declare that he does not so act. And when I say he is smitten, I affirm according to the predicament of passion; and I deny according to the same, when I say he is not smitten. And, in a word, there is no kind of predicament according to which we may please to affirm anything, without being proved to deny according to the same predicament, if we prefix the negative particle. And since this is so, if I were to affirm according to substance, in saying son, I should deny according to substance, in saying not son. But because I affirm relatively when I say he is a son, for I refer to the father; therefore I deny relatively if I say he is not a son, for I refer the same negation to the father, in that I wish to declare that he has not a parent. But if to be called son is precisely equivalent to the being called begotten (as we said before), then to be called not begotten is precisely equivalent to the being called not son. But we deny relatively when we say he is not son, therefore we deny relatively when we say he is not begotten. Further, what is unbegotten, unless not begotten? We do not escape, therefore, from the relative predicament, when he is called unbegotten. For as begotten is not said in relation to self, but in that he is of a begetter; so when one is called unbegotten, he is not so called in relation to himself, but it is declared that he is not of a begetter. Both meanings, however, turn upon the same predicament, which is called that of relation. But that which is asserted relatively does not denote substance, and accordingly, although begotten and unbegotten are diverse, they do not denote a different substance; because, as son is referred to father, and not son to not father, so it follows inevitably that begotten must be referred to begetter, and not-begotten to not-begetter.2
9. Wherefore let us hold this above all, that whatsoever is said of that most eminent and divine loftiness in respect to itself, is said in respect to substance, but that which is said in relation to anything, is not said in respect to substance, but relatively; and that the effect of the same substance in Father and Son and Holy Spirit is, that whatsoever is said of each in respect to themselves, is to be taken of them, not in the plural in sum, but in the singular. For as the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Spirit is God, which no one doubts to be said in respect to substance, yet we do not say that the very supreme Trinity itself is three Gods, but one God. So the Father is great, the Son great, and the Holy Spirit great; yet not three greats, but one great. For it is not written of the Father alone, as they perversely suppose, but of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, “Thou art great: Thou art God alone.”3 And the Father is good, the Son good, and the Holy Spirit good; yet not three goods, but one good, of whom it is said, “None is good, save one, that is, God.” For the Lord Jesus, lest He should be understood as man only by him who said, “Good Master,” as addressing a man, does not therefore say, There is none good, save the Father alone; but, “None is good, save one, that is, God.”4 For the Father by Himself is declared by the name of Father; but by the name of God, both Himself and the Son and the Holy Spirit, because the Trinity is one God. But position, and condition, and places, and times, Edition: current; Page:  are not said to be in God properly, but metaphorically and through similitudes. For He is both said to dwell between the cherubims,1 which is spoken in respect to position; and to be covered with the deep as with a garment,2 which is said in respect to condition; and “Thy years shall have no end,”3 which is said in respect of time; and, “If I ascend up into heaven, Thou art there,”4 which is said in respect to place. And as respects action (or making), perhaps it may be said most truly of God alone, for God alone makes and Himself is not made. Nor is He liable to passions as far as belongs to that substance whereby He is God. So the Father is omnipotent, the Son omnipotent, and the Holy Spirit is omnipotent; yet not three omnipotents, but one omnipotent:5 “For of Him are all things, and through Him are all things, and in Him are all things; to whom be glory.”6 Whatever, therefore, is spoken of God in respect to Himself, is both spoken singly of each person, that is, of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit; and together of the Trinity itself, not plurally but in the singular. For inasmuch as to God it is not one thing to be, and another thing to be great, but to Him it is the same thing to be, as it is to be great; therefore, as we do not say three essences, so we do not say three greatnesses, but one essence and one greatness. I say essence, which in Greek is called οὐσία, and which we call more usually substance.
10. They indeed use also the word hypostasis; but they intend to put a difference, I know not what, between οὐσία and hypostasis: so that most of ourselves who treat these things in the Greek language, are accustomed to say, μίαν οὐσίαν, τρεῖς ὑποστάσεις, or, in Latin, one essence, three substances.7
But because with us the usage has already obtained, that by essence we understand the same thing which is understood by substance; we do not dare to say one essence, three substances, but one essence or substance and three persons: as many writers in Latin, who treat of these things, and are of authority, have said, in that they could not find any other more suitable way by which to enunciate in words that which they understood without words. For, in truth, as the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father, and that Holy Spirit who is also called the gift of God is neither the Father nor the Son, certainly they are three. And so it is said plurally, “I and my Father are one.”8 For He has not said, “is one,” as the Sabellians say; but, “are one.” Yet, when the question is asked, What three? human language labors altogether under great poverty of speech. The answer, however, is given, three “persons,” not that it might be [completely] spoken, but that it might not be left [wholly] unspoken.
11. As, therefore, we do not say three essences, so we do not say three greatnesses, or three who are great. For in things which are great by partaking of greatness, to which it is one thing to be, and another to be great, as a great house, and a great mountain, and a great mind; in these things, I say, greatness is one thing, and that which is great because of greatness is another, and a great house, certainly, is not absolute greatness itself. But that is absolute greatness by which not only a great house is great, and any great mountain is great, but also by which every other thing whatsoever is great, which is called great; so that greatness itself is one thing, and those things are another which are called great from it. And this greatness certainly is primarily great, and in a much more excellent way than those things which are great by partaking of it. But since God is not great with that greatness which is not Himself, so that God, in being great, is, as it were, partaker of that greatness;—otherwise that will be a greatness greater than God, whereas there is nothing greater than God; therefore, He is great with that greatness by which He Himself is that same greatness. And, therefore, as we do not say three essences, so neither do we say three greatnesses; for it is the same thing to God to be, and to be great. For the same reason neither Edition: current; Page:  do we say three greats, but one who is great; since God is not great by partaking of greatness, but He is great by Himself being great, because He Himself is His own greatness. Let the same be said also of the goodness, and of the eternity, and of the omnipotence of God, and, in short, of all the predicaments which can be predicated of God, as He is spoken of in respect to Himself, not metaphorically and by similitude, but properly, if indeed anything can be spoken of Him properly, by the mouth of man.
12. But whereas, in the same Trinity, some things severally are specially predicated, these are in no way said in reference to themselves in themselves, but either in mutual reference, or in respect to the creature; and, therefore, it is manifest that such things are spoken relatively, not in the way of substance. For the Trinity is called one God, great, good, eternal, omnipotent; and the same God Himself may be called His own deity, His own magnitude, His own goodness, His own eternity, His own omnipotence: but the Trinity cannot in the same way be called the Father, except perhaps metaphorically, in respect to the creature, on account of the adoption of sons. For that which is written, “Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God is one Lord,”1 ought certainly not to be understood as if the Son were excepted, or the Holy Spirit were excepted; which one Lord our God we rightly call also our Father, as regenerating us by His grace. Neither can the Trinity in any wise be called the Son, but it can be called, in its entirety, the Holy Spirit, according to that which is written, “God is a Spirit;”2 because both the Father is a spirit and the Son is a spirit, and the Father is holy and the Son is holy. Therefore, since the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are one God, and certainly God is holy, and God is a spirit, the Trinity can be called also the Holy Spirit. But yet that Holy Spirit, who is not the Trinity, but is understood as in the Trinity, is spoken of in His proper name of the Holy Spirit relatively, since He is referred both to the Father and to the Son, because the Holy Spirit is the Spirit both of the Father and of the Son. But the relation is not itself apparent in that name, but it is apparent when He is called the gift of God;3 for He is the gift of the Father and of the Son, because “He proceeds from the Father,”4 as the Lord says; and because that which the apostle says, “Now, if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His,”5 he says certainly of the Holy Spirit Himself. When we say, therefore, the gift of the giver, and the giver of the gift, we speak in both cases relatively in reciprocal reference. Therefore the Holy Spirit is a certain unutterable communion of the Father and the Son; and on that account, perhaps, He is so called, because the same name is suitable to both the Father and the Son. For He Himself is called specially that which they are called in common; because both the Father is a spirit and the Son a spirit, both the Father is holy and the Son holy.6 In order, therefore, that the communion of both may be signified from a name which is suitable to both, the Holy Spirit is called the gift of both. And this Trinity is one God, alone, good, great, eternal, omnipotent; itself its own unity, deity, greatness, goodness, eternity, omnipotence.
13. Neither ought it to influence us—since we have said that the Holy Spirit is so called relatively, not the Trinity itself, but He who is in the Trinity—that the designation of Him to whom He is referred, does not seem to answer in turn to His designation. For we cannot, as we say the servant of a master, and the master of a servant, the son of a father and the father of a son, so also say here—because these things are said relatively. For we speak of the Holy Spirit of the Father; but, on the other hand, we do not speak of the Father of the Holy Spirit, lest the Holy Spirit should be understood to be His Son. So also we speak of the Holy Spirit of the Son; but we do not speak of the Son of the Edition: current; Page:  Holy Spirit, lest the Holy Spirit be understood to be His Father. For it is the case in many relatives, that no designation is to be found by which those things which bear relation to each other may [in name] mutually correspond to each other. For what is more clearly spoken relatively than the word earnest? Since it is referred to that of which it is an earnest, and an earnest is always an earnest of something. Can we, then, as we say, the earnest of the Father and of the Son,1 say in turn, the Father of the earnest or the Son of the earnest? But, on the other hand, when we say the gift of the Father and of the Son, we cannot indeed say the Father of the gift, or the Son of the gift; but that these may correspond mutually to each other, we say the gift of the giver and the giver of the gift; because here a word in use may be found, there it cannot.
14. The Father is called so, therefore, relatively, and He is also relatively said to be the Beginning, and whatever else there may be of the kind; but He is called the Father in relation to the Son, the Beginning in relation to all things, which are from Him. So the Son is relatively so called; He is called also relatively the Word and the Image. And in all these appellations He is referred to the Father, but the Father is called by none of them. And the Son is also called the Beginning; for when it was said to Him, “Who art Thou?” He replied, “Even the Beginning, who also speak to you.”2 But is He, pray, the Beginning of the Father? For He intended to show Himself to be the Creator when He said that He was the Beginning, as the Father also is the beginning of the creature in that all things are from Him. For creator, too, is spoken relatively to creature, as master to servant. And so, when we say, both that the Father is the Beginning, and that the Son is the Beginning, we do not speak of two beginnings of the creature; since both the Father and the Son together is one beginning in respect to the creature, as one Creator, as one God. But if whatever remains within itself and produces or works anything is a beginning to that thing which it produces or works; then we cannot deny that the Holy Spirit also is rightly called the Beginning, since we do not separate Him from the appellation of Creator: and it is written of Him that He works; and assuredly, in working, He remains within Himself; for He Himself is not changed and turned into any of the things which He works. And see what it is that He works: “But the manifestation of the Spirit,” he says, “is given to every man to profit withal. For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit; to another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another the discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: but all these worketh that one and the self-same Spirit, dividing to every man severally as He will;” certainly as God—for who can work such great things but God?—but “it is the same God which worketh all in all.”3 For if we are asked point by point concerning the Holy Spirit, we answer most truly that He is God; and with the Father and the Son together He is one God. Therefore, God is spoken of as one Beginning in respect to the creature, not as two or three beginnings.
15. But in their mutual relation to one another in the Trinity itself, if the begetter is a beginning in relation to that which he begets, the Father is a beginning in relation to the Son, because He begets Him; but whether the Father is also a beginning in relation to the Holy Spirit, since it is said, “He proceeds from the Father,” is no small question. Because, if it is so, He will not only be a beginning to that thing which He begets or makes, but also to that which He gives. And here, too, that question comes to light, as it can, which is wont to trouble many, Why the Holy Spirit is not also a son, since He, too, comes forth from the Father, as it is read in the Gospel.4 For the Spirit came forth, not as born, but as given; and so He is not called a son, because He was neither born, as the Only-begotten, nor made, so that by the grace of God He might be born into adoption, as we are. For that which is born of the Father, is referred to the Father only when called Son, and so the Son is the Son of the Father, and not also our Son; but that which is given is referred both to Him who gave, and to those to whom He gave; and so the Holy Spirit is not only the Spirit of the Father and of the Son who gave Him, but Edition: current; Page:  He is also called ours, who have received Him: as “The salvation of the Lord,”1 who gives salvation, is said also to be our salvation, who have received it. Therefore, the Spirit is both the Spirit of God who gave Him, and ours who have received Him. Not, indeed, that spirit of ours by which we are, because that is the spirit of a man which is in him; but this Spirit is ours in another mode, viz. that in which we also say, “Give us this day our bread.”2 Although certainly we have received that spirit also, which is called the spirit of a man. “For what hast thou,” he says, “which thou didst not receive?”3 But that is one thing, which we have received that we might be; another, that which we have received that we might be holy. Whence it is also written of John, that he “came in the spirit and power of Elias;”4 and by the spirit of Elias is meant the Holy Spirit, whom Elias received. And the same thing is to be understood of Moses, when the Lord says to him, “And I will take of thy spirit, and will put it upon them;”5 that is, I will give to them of the Holy Spirit, which I have already given to thee. If, therefore, that also which is given has him for a beginning by whom it is given, since it has received from no other source that which proceeds from him; it must be admitted that the Father and the Son are a Beginning of the Holy Spirit, not two Beginnings; but as the Father and Son are one God, and one Creator, and one Lord relatively to the creature, so are they one Beginning relatively to the Holy Spirit. But the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is one Beginning in respect to the creature, as also one Creator and one God.6
16. But it is asked further, whether, as the Son, by being born, has not only this, that He is the Son, but that He is absolutely; and so also the Holy Spirit, by being given, has not only this, that He is given, but that He is absolutely—whether therefore He was, before He was given, but was not yet a gift; or whether, for the very reason that God was about to give Him, He was already a gift also before He was given. But if He does not proceed unless when He is given, and assuredly could not proceed before there was one to whom He might be given; how, in that case, was He [absolutely] in His very substance, if He is not unless because He is given? just as the Son, by being born, not only has this, that He is a Son, which is said relatively, but His very substance absolutely, so that He is. Does the Holy Spirit proceed always, and proceed not in time, but from eternity, but because He so proceeded that He was capable of being given, was already a gift even before there was one to whom He might be given? For there is a difference in meaning between a gift and a thing that has been given. For a gift may exist even before it is given; but it cannot be called a thing that has been given unless it has been given.
17. Nor let it trouble us that the Holy Spirit, although He is co-eternal with the Father and the Son, yet is called something which exists in time; as, for instance, this very thing which we have called Him, a thing that has been given. For the Spirit is a gift eternally, but a thing that has been given in time. For if a lord also is not so called unless when he begins to have a slave, that appellation likewise is relative and in time to God; for the creature is not from all eternity, of which He is the Lord. How then shall we make it good that relative terms themselves are not accidental, since nothing happens accidentally to God in time, because He is incapable of change, as we have argued in the beginning of this discussion? Behold! to be the Lord, is not eternal to God; otherwise we should be compelled to say that the creature also is from eternity, since He would not be a lord from all eternity unless the creature also was a servant from all eternity. But as he cannot be a slave who has not a lord, neither can he be a lord who has not a slave. And if there be any one who says that God, indeed, is alone eternal, and that times are Edition: current; Page:  not eternal on account of their variety and changeableness, but that times nevertheless did not begin to be in time (for there was no time before times began, and therefore it did not happen to God in time that He should be Lord, since He was Lord of the very times themselves, which assuredly did not begin in time): what will he reply respecting man, who was made in time, and of whom assuredly He was not the Lord before he was of whom He was to be Lord? Certainly to be the Lord of man happened to God in time. And that all dispute may seem to be taken away, certainly to be your Lord, or mine, who have only lately begun to be, happened to God in time. Or if this, too, seems uncertain on account of the obscure question respecting the soul, what is to be said of His being the Lord of the people of Israel? since, although the nature of the soul already existed, which that people had (a matter into which we do not now inquire), yet that people existed not as yet, and the time is apparent when it began to exist. Lastly, that He should be Lord of this or that tree, or of this or that corn crop, which only lately began to be, happened in time; since, although the matter itself already existed, yet it is one thing to be Lord of the matter (materiæ), another to be Lord of the already created nature (naturæ).1 For man, too, is lord of the wood at one time, and at another he is lord of the chest, although fabricated of that same wood; which he certainly was not at the time when he was already the lord of the wood. How then shall we make it good that nothing is said of God according to accident, except because nothing happens to His nature by which He may be changed, so that those things are relative accidents which happen in connection with some change of the things of which they are spoken. As a friend is so called relatively: for he does not begin to be one, unless when he has begun to love; therefore some change of will takes place, in order that he may be called a friend. And money, when it is called a price, is spoken of relatively, and yet it was not changed when it began to be a price; nor, again, when it is called a pledge, or any other thing of the kind. If, therefore, money can so often be spoken of relatively with no change of itself, so that neither when it begins, nor when it ceases to be so spoken of, does any change take place in that nature or form of it, whereby it is money; how much more easily ought we to admit, concerning that unchangeable substance of God, that something may be so predicated relatively in respect to the creature, that although it begin to be so predicated in time, yet nothing shall be understood to have happened to the substance itself of God, but only to that creature in respect to which it is predicated? “Lord,” it is said, “Thou hast been made our refuge.”2 God, therefore, is said to be our refuge relatively, for He is referred to us, and He then becomes our refuge when we flee to Him; pray does anything come to pass then in His nature, which, before we fled to Him, was not? In us therefore some change does take place; for we were worse before we fled to Him, and we become better by fleeing to Him: but in Him there is no change. So also He begins to be our Father, when we are regenerated through His grace, since He gave us power to become the sons of God.3 Our substance therefore is changed for the better, when we become His sons; and He at the same time begins to be our Father, but without any change of His own substance. Therefore that which begins to be spoken of God in time, and which was not spoken of Him before, is manifestly spoken of Him relatively; yet not according to any accident of God, so that anything should have happened to Him, but clearly according to some accident of that, in respect to which God begins to be called something relatively. When a righteous man begins to be a friend of God, he himself is changed; but far be it from us to say, that God loves any one in time with as it were a new love, which was not in Him before, with whom things gone by have not passed away and things future have been already done. Therefore He loved all His saints before the foundation of the world, as He predestinated them; but when they are converted and find Him, then they are said to begin to be loved by Him, that what is said may be said in that way in which it can be comprehended by human affections. So also, when He is said to be wroth with the unrighteous, and gentle with the good, they are changed, not He: just as the light is troublesome to weak eyes, pleasant to those that are strong; namely, by their change, not its own.
the question is proposed, how the apostle calls christ “the power of god, and the wisdom of god.” and an argument is raised, whether the father is not wisdom himself, but only the father of wisdom; or whether wisdom begat wisdom. but the answer to this is deferred for a little, while the unity and equality of the father, and of the son, and of the holy ghost, are proved; and that we ought to believe in a trinity, not in a threefold (triplicem) god. lastly, that saying of hilary is explained, eternity in the father, appearance in the image, use in the gift.
1. Some think themselves hindered from admitting the equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, because it is written, “Christ, the power of God, and the wisdom of God;” in that, on this ground, there does not appear to be equality; because the Father is not Himself power and wisdom, but the begetter of power and wisdom. And, in truth, the question is usually asked with no common earnestness, in what way God can be called the Father of power and wisdom. For the apostle says, “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”1 And hence some on our side have reasoned in this way against the Arians, at least against those who at first set themselves up against the Catholic faith. For Arius himself is reported to have said, that if He is a Son, then He was born; if He was born, there was a time when the Son was not: not understanding that even to be born is, to God, from all eternity; so that the Son is co-eternal with the Father, as the brightness which is produced and is spread around by fire is co-eval with it, and would be co-eternal, if fire were eternal. And therefore some of the later Arians have abandoned that opinion, and have confessed that the Son of God did not begin to be in time. But among the arguments which those on our side used to hold against them who said that there was a time when the Son was not, some were wont to introduce such an argument as this: If the Son of God is the power and wisdom of God, and God was never without power and wisdom, then the Son is co-eternal with God the Father; but the apostle says, “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God;” and a man must be senseless to say that God at any time had not power or wisdom; therefore there was no time when the Son was not.
2. Now this argument compels us to say that God the Father is not wise, except by having the wisdom which He begat, not by the Father in Himself being wisdom itself. Further, if it be so, just as the Son also Himself is called God of God, Light of Light, we must consider whether He can be called wisdom of wisdom, if God the Father is not wisdom itself, but only the begetter of wisdom. And if we hold this, why is He not the begetter also of His own greatness, and of His own goodness, and of His own eternity, and of His own omnipotence; so that He is not Himself His own greatness, and His own goodness, and His own eternity, and His own omnipotence; but is great with that greatness which He begat, and good with that goodness, and eternal with that eternity, and omnipotent with that omnipotence, which was born of Him; just as He Himself is not His own wisdom, but is wise with that wisdom which was born of Him? For we need not be afraid of being compelled to say Edition: current; Page:  that there are many sons of God, over and above the adoption of the creature, co-eternal with the Father, if He be the begetter of His own greatness, and goodness, and eternity, and omnipotence. Because it is easy to reply to this cavil, that it does not at all follow, because many things are named, that He should be the Father of many co-eternal sons; just as it does not follow that He is the Father of two sons, because Christ is said to be the power of God, and the wisdom of God. For that certainly is the power which is the wisdom, and that is the wisdom which is the power; and in like manner, therefore, of the rest also; so that that is the greatness which is the power, or any other of those things which either have been mentioned above, or may hereafter be mentioned.
3. But if nothing is spoken of the Father as such, except that which is spoken of Him in relation to the Son, that is, that He is His father, or begetter, or beginning; and if also the begetter is by consequence a beginning to that which he begets of himself; but whatever else is spoken of Him is so spoken as with the Son, or rather in the Son; whether that He is great with that greatness which He begat, or just with that justice which He begat, or good with that goodness which He begat, or powerful with that force or power which He begat, or wise with that wisdom which He begat: yet the Father is not said to be greatness itself, but the begetter of greatness; but the Son, as He is called the Son as such, is not so called with the Father but in relation to the Father, so is not great in and by himself, but with the Father, of whom He is the greatness; and so also is called wise with the Father, of whom He Himself is the wisdom; just as the Father is called wise with the Son, because He is wise with that wisdom which He begat; therefore the one is not called without the other, whatever they are called in respect to themselves; that is, whatever they are called that manifests their essential nature, both are so called together;—if these things are so, then the Father is not God without the Son, nor the Son God without the Father, but both together are God. And that which is said, “In the beginning was the Word,” means that the Word was in the Father, Or if “In the beginning” is intended to mean, Before all things; then in that which follows, “And the Word was with God,” the Son alone is understood to be the Word, not the Father and Son together, as though both were one Word (for He is the Word in the same way as He is the Image, but the Father and Son are not both together the Image, but the Son alone is the Image of the Father: just as He is also the Son of the Father, for both together are not the Son). But in that which is added, “And the Word was with God,” there is much reason to understand thus: “The Word,” which is the Son alone, “was with God,” which is not the Father alone, but God the Father and the Son together.1 But what wonder is there, if this can be said in the case of some twofold things widely different from each other? For what are so different as soul and body? Yet we can say the soul was with a man, that is, in a man; although the soul is not the body, and man is both soul and body together. So that what follows in the Scripture, “And the Word was God,”2 may be understood thus: The Word, which is not the Father, was God together with the Father. Are we then to say thus, that the Father is the begetter of His own greatness, that is, the begetter of His own power, or the begetter of His own wisdom; and that the Son is greatness, and power, and wisdom; but that the great, omnipotent, and wise God, is both together? How then God of God, Light of Light? For not both together are God of God, but only the Son is of God, that is to say, of the Father; nor are both together Light of Light, but the Son only is of Light, that is, of the Father. Unless, perhaps, it was in order to intimate and inculcate briefly that the Son is co-eternal with the Father, that it is said, God of God, and Light of Light, or anything else of the like kind: as if to say, This which is not the Son without the Father, of this which is not the Father without the Son; that is, this Light which is not Light without the Father, of that Light, viz. the Father, which is not Light without the Son; so that, when it is said, God which is not the Son without the Father, and of God which is not the Father without the Son, it may be perfectly understood that the Begetter did not precede that which He begot. And if this be so, then this alone cannot be said of them, namely, this or that of this or that, which they are not both together. Just as the Word cannot be said to be of the Edition: current; Page:  Word, because both are not the Word together, but only the Son; nor image of image, since they are not both together the image; nor Son of Son, since both together are not the Son, according to that which is said, “I and my Father are one.”1 For “we are one” means, what He is, that am I also; according to essence, not according to relation.
4. And I know not whether the words, “They are one,” are ever found in Scripture as spoken of things of which the nature is different. But if there are more things than one of the same nature, and they differ in sentiment, they are not one, and that so far as they differ in sentiment. For if the disciples were already one by the fact of being men, He would not say, “That they may be one, as we are one,”2 when commending them to the Father. But because Paul and Apollos were both alike men, and also of like sentiments, “He that planteth,” he says, “and he that watereth are one.”3 When, therefore, anything is so called one, that it is not added in what it is one, and yet more things than one are called one, then the same essence and nature is signified, not differing nor disagreeing. But when it is added in what it is one, it may be meant that something is made one out of things more than one, though they are different in nature. As soul and body are assuredly not one; for what are so different? unless there be added or understood in what they are one, that is, one man, or one animal [person]. Thence the apostle says, “He who is joined to a harlot, is one body;” he does not say, they are one or he is one; but he has added “body,” as though it were one body composed by being joined together of two different bodies, masculine and feminine.4 And, “He that is joined unto the Lord,” he says, “is one spirit:” he did not say, he that is joined unto the Lord is one, or they are one; but he added, “spirit.” For the spirit of man and the Spirit of God are different in nature; but by being joined they become one spirit of two different spirits, so that the Spirit of God is blessed and perfect without the human spirit, but the spirit of man cannot be blessed without God. Nor is it without cause, I think, that when the Lord said so much in the Gospel according to John, and so often, of unity itself, whether of His own with the Father, or of ours interchangeably with ourselves; He has nowhere said, that we are also one with Himself, but, “that they may be one as we also are one.”5 Therefore the Father and the Son are one, undoubtedly according to unity of substance; and there is one God, and one great, and one wise, as we have argued.
5. Whence then is the Father greater? For if greater, He is greater by greatness; but whereas the Son is His greatness, neither assuredly is the Son greater than He who begat Him, nor is the Father greater than that greatness, whereby He is great; therefore they are equal. For whence is He equal, if not in that which He is, to whom it is not one thing to be, and another to be great? Or if the Father is greater in eternity, the Son is not equal in anything whatsoever. For whence equal? If you say in greatness, that greatness is not equal which is less eternal, and so of all things else. Or is He perhaps equal in power, but not equal in wisdom? But how is that power which is less wise, equal? Or is He equal in wisdom, but not equal in power? But how is that wisdom equal which is less powerful? It remains, therefore, that if He is not equal in anything, He is not equal in all. But Scripture proclaims, that “He thought it not robbery to be equal with God.”6 Therefore any adversary of the truth whatever, provided he feels bound by apostolical authority, must needs confess that the Son is equal with God in each one thing whatsoever. Let him choose that which he will; from it he will be shown, that He is equal in all things which are said of His substance.
6. For in like manner the virtues which are in the human mind, although each has its own several and different meaning, yet are in no way mutually separable; so that, for instance, whosoever were equal in courage, are equal also in prudence, and temperance, and justice. For if you say that such and such men are equal in courage, but that one of them is greater in prudence, it follows that the courage of the other is less prudent, and so neither are they equal in courage, since the courage of the former is more prudent. And so you will find it to be the case with the other virtues, if you consider them one by one. For the question is not of the strength of the body, but of the courage of Edition: current; Page:  the mind. How much more therefore is this the case in that unchangeable and eternal substance, which is incomparably more simple than the human mind is? Since, in the human mind, to be is not the same as to be strong, or prudent, or just, or temperate; for a mind can exist, and yet have none of these virtues. But in God to be is the same as to be strong, or to be just, or to be wise, or whatever is said of that simple multiplicity, or multifold simplicity, whereby to signify His substance. Wherefore, whether we say God of God in such way that this name belongs to each, yet not so that both together are two Gods, but one God; for they are in such way united with each other, as according to the apostle’s testimony may take place even in diverse and differing substances; for both the Lord alone is a Spirit, and the spirit of a man alone is assuredly a spirit; yet, if it cleave to the Lord, “it is one spirit:” how much more there, where there is an absolutely inseparable and eternal union, so that He may not seem absurdly to be called as it were the Son of both, when He is called the Son of God, if that which is called God is only said of both together. Or perhaps it is, that whatever is said of God so as to indicate His substance, is not said except of both together, nay of the Trinity itself together? Whether therefore it be this or that (which needs a closer inquiry), it is enough for the present to see from what has been said, that the Son is in no respect equal with the Father, if He is found to be unequal in anything which has to do with signifying His substance, as we have already shown. But the apostle has said that He is equal. Therefore the Son is equal with the Father in all things, and is of one and the same substance.
7. Wherefore also the Holy Spirit consists in the same unity of substance, and in the same equality. For whether He is the unity of both, or the holiness, or the love, or therefore the unity because the love, and therefore the love because the holiness, it is manifest that He is not one of the two, through whom the two are joined, through whom the Begotten is loved by the Begetter, and loves Him that begat Him, and through whom, not by participation, but by their own essence, neither by the gift of any superior, but by their own, they are “keeping the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace;”1 which we are commanded to imitate by grace, both towards God and towards ourselves. “On which two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”2 So those three are God, one, alone, great, wise, holy, blessed. But we are blessed from Him, and through Him, and in Him; because we ourselves are one by His gift, and one spirit with Him, because our soul cleaves to Him so as to follow Him. And it is good for us to cleave to God, since He will destroy every man who is estranged from Him.3 Therefore the Holy Spirit, whatever it is, is something common both to the Father and Son. But that communion itself is consubstantial and co-eternal; and if it may fitly be called friendship, let it be so called; but it is more aptly called love. And this is also a substance, since God is a substance, and “God is love,” as it is written.4 But as He is a substance together with the Father and the Son, so that substance is together with them great, and together with them good, and together with them holy, and whatsoever else is said in reference to substance; since it is not one thing to God to be, and another to be great or to be good, and the rest, as we have shown above. For if love is less great therein [i.e. in God] than wisdom, then wisdom is loved in less degree than according to what it is; love is therefore equal, in order that wisdom may be loved according to its being; but wisdom is equal with the Father, as we have proved above; therefore also the Holy Spirit is equal; and if equal, equal in all things, on account of the absolute simplicity which is in that substance. And therefore they are not more than three: One who loves Him who is from Himself, and One who loves Him from whom He is, and Love itself. And if this last is nothing, how is “God love”? If it is not substance, how is God substance?
8. But if it is asked how that substance is both simple and manifold: consider, first, why the creature is manifold, but in no way really simple. And first, all that is body is composed certainly of parts; so that therein one part is greater, another less, and the whole is greater than any part whatever or how great soever. For the heaven and the earth are parts of the whole bulk of the world; and the earth alone, and the heaven alone, is composed of innumerable parts; and its third part is less than the remainder, and the half of it is less than the whole; and the whole body of the world, which is usually Edition: current; Page:  called by its two parts, viz. the heaven and the earth, is certainly greater than the heaven alone or the earth alone. And in each several body, size is one thing, color another, shape another; for the same color and the same shape may remain with diminished size; and the same shape and the same size may remain with the color changed; and the same shape not remaining, yet the thing may be just as great, and of the same color. And whatever other things are predicated together of body can be changed either all together, or the larger part of them without the rest. And hence the nature of body is conclusively proved to be manifold, and in no respect simple. The spiritual creature also, that is, the soul, is indeed the more simple of the two if compared with the body; but if we omit the comparison with the body, it is manifold, and itself also not simple. For it is on this account more simple than the body, because it is not diffused in bulk through extension of place, but in each body, it is both whole in the whole, and whole in each several part of it; and, therefore, when anything takes place in any small particle whatever of the body, such as the soul can feel, although it does not take place in the whole body, yet the whole soul feels it, since the whole soul is not unconscious of it. But, nevertheless, since in the soul also it is one thing to be skillful, another to be indolent, another to be intelligent, another to be of retentive memory; since cupidity is one thing, fear another, joy another, sadness another; and since things innumerable, and in innumerable ways, are to be found in the nature of the soul, some without others, and some more, some less; it is manifest that its nature is not simple, but manifold. For nothing simple is changeable, but every creature is changeable.
But God is truly called in manifold ways, great, good, wise, blessed, true, and whatsoever other thing seems to be said of Him not unworthily: but His greatness is the same as His wisdom; for He is not great by bulk, but by power; and His goodness is the same as His wisdom and greatness, and His truth the same as all those things; and in Him it is not one thing to be blessed, and another to be great, or wise, or true, or good, or in a word to be Himself.
9. Neither, since He is a Trinity, is He therefore to be thought triple (triplex)1 otherwise the Father alone, or the Son alone, will be less than the Father and Son together. Although, indeed, it is hard to see how we can say, either the Father alone, or the Son alone; since both the Father is with the Son, and the Son with the Father, always and inseparably: not that both are the Father, or both are the Son; but because they are always one in relation to the other, and neither the one nor the other alone. But because we call even the Trinity itself God alone, although He is always with holy spirits and souls, but say that He only is God, because they are not also God with Him; so we call the Father the Father alone, not because He is separate from the Son, but because they are not both together the Father.
Since, therefore, the Father alone, or the Son alone, or the Holy Spirit alone, is as great as is the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit together,2 in no manner is He to be called threefold. Forasmuch as bodies increase by union of themselves. For although he who cleaves to his wife is one body; yet it is a greater body than if it were that of the husband alone, or of the wife alone. But in spiritual things, when the less adheres to the greater, as the creature to the Creator, the former becomes greater than it was, not the latter.3 For in those things which are not great by bulk, to be greater is to be better. And the spirit of any creature becomes better, when it cleaves to the Creator, than if it did not so cleave; and therefore also greater because better. “He,” then, “that is joined unto the Lord is one spirit:”4 but yet the Lord does not therefore become Edition: current; Page:  greater, although he who is joined to the Lord does so. In God Himself, therefore, when the equal Son, or the Holy Spirit equal to the Father and the Son, is joined to the equal Father, God does not become greater than each of them severally; because that perfectness cannot increase. But whether it be the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit. He is perfect, and God the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit is perfect; and therefore He is a Trinity rather than triple.
10. And since we are showing how we can say the Father alone, because there is no Father in the Godhead except Himself, we must consider also the opinion which holds that the only true God is not the Father alone, but the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. For if any one should ask whether the Father alone is God, how can it be replied that He is not, unless perhaps we were to say that the Father indeed is God, but that He is not God alone, but that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are God alone? But then what shall we do with that testimony of the Lord? For He was speaking to the Father, and had named the Father as Him to whom He was speaking, when He says, “And this is life eternal, that they may know Thee the one true God.”1 And this the Arians indeed usually take, as if the Son were not true God. Passing them by, however, we must see whether, when it is said to the Father, “That they may know Thee the one true God,” we are forced to understand it as if He wished to intimate that the Father alone is the true God; lest we should not understand any to be God, except the three together, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Are we therefore, from the testimony of the Lord, both to call the Father the one true God, and the Son the one true God, and the Holy Spirit the one true God, and the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together, that is, the Trinity itself together, not three true Gods but one true God? Or because He added, “And Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent,” are we to supply “the one true God;” so that the order of the words is this, “That they may know Thee, and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent, the one true God?” Why then did He omit to mention the Holy Spirit? Is it because it follows, that whenever we name One who cleaves to One by a harmony so great that through this harmony both are one, this harmony itself must be understood, although it is not mentioned? For in that place, too, the apostle seems as it were to pass over the Holy Spirit; and yet there, too, He is understood, where he says, “All are yours, and ye are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”2 And again, “The head of the woman is the man, the head of the man is Christ, and the head of Christ is God.”3 But again, if God is only all three together, how can God be the head of Christ, that is, the Trinity the head of Christ, since Christ is in the Trinity in order that it may be the Trinity? Is that which is the Father with the Son, the head of that which is the Son alone? For the Father with the Son is God, but the Son alone is Christ: especially since it is the Word already made flesh that speaks; and according to this His humiliation also, the Father is greater than He, as He says, “for my Father is greater than I;”4 so that the very being of God, which is one to Him with the Father, is itself the head of the man who is mediator, which He is alone.5 For if we rightly call the mind the chief thing of man, that is, as it were the head of the human substance, although the man himself together with the mind is man; why is not the Word with the Father, which together is God, much more suitably and much more the head of Christ, although Christ as man cannot be understood except with the Word which was made flesh? But this, as we have already said, we shall consider somewhat more carefully hereafter. At present the equality and one and the same substance of the Trinity has been demonstrated as briefly as possible, that in whatever way that other question be determined, the more rigorous discussion of which we have deferred, nothing may hinder us from confessing the absolute equality of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
11. A certain writer, when he would briefly intimate the special attributes of each of the persons in the Trinity, tells us that “Eternity is in the Father, form in the Image, use in the Gift.” And since he was a man of no mean authority in handling the Scriptures, and in the assertion of the faith, for it is Hilary who put this in his book (On the Trinity, ii.); I have searched into the hidden meaning of these words as far as I can, that is, of the Father, and the Image, and the Gift, of eternity, and of form, and of use. And I do not think that he intended more by the word eternity, Edition: current; Page:  than that the Father has not a father from whom He is; but the Son is from the Father, so as to be, and so as to be co-eternal with Him. For if an image perfectly fills the measure of that of which it is the image, then the image is made equal to that of which it is the image, not the latter to its own image. And in respect to this image he has named form, I believe on account of the quality of beauty, where there is at once such great fitness, and prime equality, and prime likeness, differing in nothing, and unequal in no respect, and in no part unlike, but answering exactly to Him whose image it is: where there is prime and absolute life, to whom it is not one thing to live, and another to be, but the same thing to be and to live; and prime and absolute intellect, to whom it is not one thing to live, another to understand, but to understand is to live, and is to be, and all things are one: as though a perfect Word (John i. 1), to which nothing is wanting, and a certain skill of the omnipotent and wise God, full of all living, unchangeable sciences, and all one in it, as itself is one from one, with whom it is one. Therein God knew all things which He made by it; and therefore, while times pass away and succeed, nothing passes away or succeeds to the knowledge of God. For things which are created are not therefore known by God, because they have been made; and not rather have been therefore made, even although changeable, because they are known unchangeably by Him. Therefore that unspeakable conjunction of the Father and His image is not without fruition, without love, without joy. Therefore that love, delight, felicity, or blessedness, if indeed it can be worthily expressed by any human word, is called by him, in short, Use; and is the Holy Spirit in the Trinity, not begotten, but the sweetness of the begetter and of the begotten, filling all creatures according to their capacity with abundant bountifulness and copiousness, that they may keep their proper order and rest satisfied in their proper place.
12. Therefore all these things which are made by divine skill, show in themselves a certain unity, and form, and order; for each of them is both some one thing, as are the several natures of bodies and dispositions of souls; and is fashioned in some form, as are the figures or qualities of bodies, and the various learning or skill of souls; and seeks or preserves a certain order, as are the several weights or combinations of bodies and the loves or delights of souls. When therefore we regard the Creator, who is understood by the things that are made1 we must needs understand the Trinity of whom there appear traces in the creature, as is fitting. For in that Trinity is the supreme source of all things, and the most perfect beauty, and the most blessed delight. Those three, therefore, both seem to be mutually determined to each other, and are in themselves infinite. But here in corporeal things, one thing alone is not as much as three together, and two are something more than one; but in that highest Trinity one is as much as the three together, nor are two anything more than one. And They are infinite in themselves. So both each are in each, and all in each, and each in all, and all in all, and all are one. Let him who sees this, whether in part, or “through a glass and in an enigma,”2 rejoice in knowing God; and let him honor Him as God, and give thanks; but let him who does not see it, strive to see it through piety, not to cavil at it through blindness. Since God is one, but yet is a Trinity. Neither are we to take the words, “of whom, and through whom, and to whom are all things,” as used indiscriminately [i.e., to denote a unity without distinctions]; nor yet to denote many gods, for “to Him, be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”3
the question is explained, which had been deferred in the previous book, viz. that god the father, who begat the son, his power and wisdom, is not only the father of power and wisdom, but also himself power and wisdom; and similarly the holy spirit: yet that there are not three powers or three wisdoms, but one power and one wisdom, as there is one god and one essence. inquiry is then made, why the latins say one essence, three persons, in god; but the greeks, one essence, three substances or hypostases: and both modes of expression are shown to arise from the necessities of speech, that we might have an answer to give when asked, what three, while truly confessing that there are three, viz. the father, and the son, and the holy spirit.
1. Let us now inquire more carefully, so far as God grants, into that which a little before we deferred; whether each person also in the Trinity can also by Himself and not with the other two be called God, or great, or wise, or true, or omnipotent, or just, or anything else that can be said of God, not relatively, but absolutely; or whether these things cannot be said except when the Trinity is understood. For the question is raised,—because it is written, “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God,”1—whether He is so the Father of His own wisdom and His own power, as that He is wise with that wisdom which He begat, and powerful with that power which He begat; and whether, since He is always powerful and wise, He always begat power and wisdom. For if it be so, then, as we have said, why is He not also the Father of His own greatness by which He is great, and of His own goodness by which He is good, and of His own justice by which He is just, and whatever else there is? Or if all these things are understood, although under more names than one, to be in the same wisdom and power, so that that is greatness which is power, that is goodness which is wisdom, and that again is wisdom which is power, as we have already argued; then let us remember, that when I mention any one of these, I am to be taken as if I mentioned all. It is asked, then, whether the Father also by Himself is wise, and is Himself His own wisdom itself; or whether He is wise in the same way as He speaks. For He speaks by the Word which He begat, not by the word which is uttered, and sounds, and passes away, but by the Word which was with God, and the Word was God, and all things were made by Him:2 by the Word which is equal to Himself, by whom He always and unchangeably utters Himself. For He is not Himself the Word, as He is not the Son nor the image. But in speaking (putting aside those words of God in time which are produced in the creature, for they sound and pass away,—in speaking then) by that co-eternal Word, He is not understood singly, but with that Word itself, without whom certainly He does not speak. Is He then in such way wise as He is one who speaks, so as to be in such way wisdom, as He is the Word, and so that to be the Word is to be wisdom, that is, also to be power, so that power and wisdom and the Word may be Edition: current; Page:  the same, and be so called relatively as the Son and the image: and that the Father is not singly powerful or wise, but together with the power and wisdom itself which He begat (genuit); just as He is not singly one who speaks, but by that Word and together with that Word which He begat; and in like way great by that and together with that greatness, which He begat? And if He is not great by one thing, and God by another, but great by that whereby He is God, because it is not one thing to Him to be great and another to be God; it follows that neither is He God singly, but by that and together with that deity (deitas) which He begat; so that the Son is the deity of the Father, as He is the wisdom and power of the Father, and as He is the Word and image of the Father. And because it is not one thing to Him to be, another to be God, the Son is also the essence of the Father, as He is His Word and image. And hence also—except that He is the Father [the Unbegotten]—the Father is not anything unless because He has the Son; so that not only that which is meant by Father (which it is manifest He is not called relatively to Himself but to the Son, and therefore is the Father because He has the Son), but that which He is in respect to His own substance is so called, because He begat His own essence. For as He is great, only with that greatness which He begat, so also He is, only with that essence which He begat; because it is not one thing to Him to be, and another to be great. Is He therefore the Father of His own essence, in the same way as He is the Father of His own greatness, as He is the Father of His own power and wisdom? since His greatness is the same as His power, and His essence the same as His greatness.
2. This discussion has arisen from that which is written, that “Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Wherefore our discourse is compressed into these narrow limits, while we desire to speak things unspeakable; that either we must say that Christ is not the power of God and the wisdom of God, and so shamelessly and impiously resist the apostle; or we must acknowledge that Christ is indeed the power of God and the wisdom of God, but that His Father is not the Father of His own power and wisdom, which is not less impious; for so neither will He be the Father of Christ, because Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God; or that the Father is not powerful with His own power, or wise with His own wisdom: and who shall dare to say this? Or yet, again, that we must understand, that in the Father it is one thing to be, another thing to be wise, so that He is not by that by which He is wise: a thing usually understood of the soul, which is at some times unwise, at others wise; as being by nature changeable, and not absolutely and perfectly simple. Or, again, that the Father is not anything in respect to His own substance; and that not only that He is the Father, but that He is, is said relatively to the Son. How then can the Son be of the same essence as the Father, seeing that the Father, in respect to Himself, is neither His own essence, nor is at all in respect to Himself, but even His essence is in relation to the Son? But, on the contrary, much more is He of one and the same essence, since the Father and Son are one and the same essence; seeing that the Father has His being itself not in respect to Himself, but to the Son, which essence He begat, and by which essence He is whatever He is. Therefore neither [person] is in respect to Himself alone; and both exist relatively the one to the other. Or is the Father alone not called Father of himself, but whatever He is called, is called relatively to the Son, but the Son is predicated of in reference to Himself? And if it be so, what is predicated of Him in reference to Himself? Is it His essence itself? But the Son is the essence of the Father, as He is the power and wisdom of the Father, as He is the Word of the Father, and the image of the Father. Or if the Son is called essence in reference to Himself, but the Father is not essence, but the begetter of the essence, and is not in respect to Himself, but is by that very essence which He begat; as He is great by that greatness which He begat: therefore the Son is also called greatness in respect to Himself; therefore He is also called, in like manner, power, and wisdom, and word, and image. But what can be more absurd than that He should be called image in respect to Himself? Or if image and word are not the very same with power and wisdom, but the former are spoken relatively, and the latter in respect to self, not to another; then we get to this, that the Father is not wise with that wisdom which He begat, because He Himself cannot be spoken relatively to it, and it cannot be spoken relatively to Him. For all things which are said relatively are said reciprocally; therefore it remains that even in essence the Son is spoken of relatively to the Father. But from this is educed a most unexpected sense: that essence itself is not essence, or at least that, when it is called essence, not essence but something relative is intimated. As when Edition: current; Page:  we speak of a master, essence is not intimated, but a relative which has reference to a slave; but when we speak of a man, or any such thing which is said in respect to self not to something else, then essence is intimated. Therefore when a man is called a master, man himself is essence, but he is called master relatively; for he is called man in respect to himself, but master in respect to his slave. But in regard to the point from which we started, if essence itself is spoken relatively, essence itself is not essence. Add further, that all essence which is spoken of relatively, is also something, although the relation be taken away; as e.g. in the case of a man who is a master, and a man who is a slave, and a horse that is a beast of burden, and money that is a pledge, the man, and the horse, and the money are spoken in respect to themselves, and are substances or essences; but master, and slave, and beast of burden, and pledge, are spoken relatively to something. But if there were not a man, that is, some substance, there would be none who could be called relatively a master; and if there were no horse having a certain essence, there would be nothing that could be called relatively a beast of burden; so if money were not some kind of substance, it could not be called relatively a pledge. Wherefore, if the Father also is not something in respect to Himself, then there is no one at all that can be spoken of relatively to something. For it is not as it is with color. The color of a thing is referred to the thing colored, and color is not spoken at all in reference to substance, but is always of something that is colored; but that thing of which it is the color, even if it is referred to color in respect to its being colored, is yet, in respect to its being a body, spoken of in respect to substance. But in no way may we think, in like manner, that the Father cannot be called anything in respect to His own substance, but that whatever He is called, He is called in relation to the Son; while the same Son is spoken of both in respect to His own substance and in relation to the Father, when He is called great greatness, and powerful power, plainly in respect to Himself, and the greatness and power of the great and powerful Father, by which the Father is great and powerful. It is not so; but both are substance, and both are one substance. And as it is absurd to say that whiteness is not white, so is it absurd to say that wisdom is not wise; and as whiteness is called white in respect to itself, so also wisdom is called wise in respect to itself. But the whiteness of a body is not an essence, since the body itself is the essence, and that is a quality of it; and hence also a body is said from that quality to be white, to which body to be is not the same thing as to be white. For the form in it is one thing, and the color another; and both are not in themselves, but in a certain bulk, which bulk is neither form nor color, but is formed and colored. True wisdom is both wise, and wise in itself. And since in the case of every soul that becomes wise by partaking of wisdom, if it again becomes foolish, yet wisdom in itself remains; nor when that soul was changed into folly is the wisdom likewise so changed; therefore wisdom is not in him who becomes wise by it, in the same manner as whiteness is in the body which is by it made white. For when the body has been changed into another color, that whiteness will not remain, but will altogether cease to be. But if the Father who begat wisdom is also made wise by it, and to be is not to Him the same as to be wise, then the Son is His quality, not His offspring; and there will no longer be absolute simplicity in the Godhead. But far be it from being so, since in truth in the Godhead is absolutely simple essence, and therefore to be is there the same as to be wise. But if to be is there the same as to be wise, then the Father is not wise by that wisdom which He begat; otherwise He did not beget it, but it begat Him. For what else do we say when we say, that to Him to be is the same as to be wise, unless that He is by that whereby He is wise? Wherefore, that which is the cause to Him of being wise, is itself also the cause to Him that He is; and accordingly, if the wisdom which He begat is the cause to Him of being wise, it is also the cause to Him that He is; and this cannot be the case, except either by begetting or by creating Him. But no one ever said in any sense that wisdom is either the begetter or the creator of the Father; for what could be more senseless? Therefore both the Father Himself is wisdom, and the Son is in such way called the wisdom of the Father, as He is called the light of the Father; that is, that in the same manner as light from light, and yet both one light, so we are to understand wisdom of wisdom, and yet both one wisdom; and therefore also one essence, since, in God, to be, is the same as to be wise. For what to be wise is to wisdom, and to be able is to power, and to be eternal is to eternity, and to be just to justice, and to be great to greatness, that being itself is to essence. And since in the Divine simplicity, to be wise is nothing else than to be, therefore wisdom there is the same as essence.
3. Therefore the Father and the Son together are one essence, and one greatness, and one truth, and one wisdom. But the Father and Son both together are not one Word, because both together are not one Son. For as the Son is referred to the Father, and is not so called in respect to Himself, so also the Word is referred to him whose Word it is, when it is called the Word. Since He is the Son in that He is the Word, and He is the Word in that He is the Son. Inasmuch, therefore, as the Father and the Son together are certainly not one Son, it follows that the Father and the Son together are not the one Word of both. And therefore He is not the Word in that He is wisdom; since He is not called the Word in respect to Himself, but only relatively to Him whose Word He is, as He is called the Son in relation to the Father; but He is wisdom by that whereby He is essence. And therefore, because one essence, one wisdom. But since the Word is also wisdom, yet is not thereby the Word because He is wisdom; for He is understood to be the Word relatively, but wisdom essentially: let us understand, that when He is called the Word, it is meant, wisdom that is born, so as to be both the Son and the Image; and that when these two words are used, namely wisdom (is) born, in one of the two, namely born,1 both Word, and Image, and Son, are understood, and in all these names essence is not expressed, since they are spoken relatively; but in the other word, namely wisdom, since it is spoken also in respect to substance, for wisdom is wise in itself, essence also is expressed, and that being of His which is to be wise. Whence the Father and Son together are one wisdom, because one essence, and singly wisdom of wisdom, as essence of essence. And hence they are not therefore not one essence, because the Father is not the Son, and the Son is not the Father, or because the Father is un-begotten, but the Son is begotten: since by these names only their relative attributes are expressed. But both together are one wisdom and one essence; in which to be, is the same as to be wise. And both together are not the Word or the Son, since to be is not the same as to be the Word or the Son, as we have already sufficiently shown that these terms are spoken relatively.
4. Why, then, is scarcely anything ever said in the Scriptures of wisdom, unless to show that it is begotten or created of God?—begotten in the case of that Wisdom by which all things are made; but created or made, as in men, when they are converted to that Wisdom which is not created and made but begotten, and are so enlightened; for in these men themselves there comes to be something which may be called their wisdom: even as the Scriptures foretell or narrate, that “the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us;”2 for in this way Christ was made wisdom, because He was made man. Is it on this account that wisdom does not speak in these books, nor is anything spoken of it, except to declare that it is born of God, or made by Him (although the Father is Himself wisdom), namely, because wisdom ought to be commended and imitated by us, by the imitation of which we are fashioned [rightly]? For the Father speaks it, that it may be His Word: yet not as a word producing a sound proceeds from the mouth, or is thought before it is pronounced. For this word is completed in certain spaces of time, but that is eternal, and speaks to us by enlightening us, what ought to be spoken to men, both of itself and of the Father. And therefore He says, “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal Him:”3 since the Father reveals by the Son, that is, by His Word. For if that word which we utter, and which is temporal and transitory, declares both itself, and that of which we speak, how much more the Word of God, by which all things are made? For this Word so declares the Father as He is the Father; because both itself so is, and is that which is the Father, in so far as it is wisdom and essence. For in so far as it is the Word, it is not what the Father is; because the Word is not the Father, and Word is spoken relatively, as is also Son, which assuredly is not the Father. And therefore Christ is the power and wisdom of God, because He Himself, being also power and wisdom, is from the Father, who is power and wisdom; as He is light of the Father, who is light, and the fountain of life with God the Father, who is Himself assuredly the fountain Edition: current; Page:  of life. For “with Thee,” He says, “is the fountain of life, and in Thy light shall we see light.”1 Because, “as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself:”2 and, “He was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world:” and this light, “the Word,” was “with God;” but “the Word also was God;”3 and “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all:”4 but a light that is not corporeal, but spiritual; yet not in such way spiritual, that it was wrought by illumination, as it was said to the apostles, “Ye are the light of the world,”5 but “the light which lighteth every man,” that very supreme wisdom itself who is God, of whom we now treat. The Son therefore is Wisdom of wisdom, namely the Father, as He is Light of light, and God of God; so that both the Father singly is light, and the Son singly is light; and the Father singly is God, and the Son singly is God: therefore the Father also singly is wisdom, and the Son singly is wisdom. And as both together are one light and one God, so both are one wisdom. But the Son is “by God made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification;”6 because we turn ourselves to Him in time, that is, from some particular time, that we may remain with Him for ever. And He Himself from a certain time was “the Word made flesh, and dwelt among us.”
5. On this account, then, when anything concerning wisdom is declared or narrated in the Scriptures, whether as itself speaking, or where anything is spoken of it, the Son chiefly is intimated to us. And by the example of Him who is the image, let us also not depart from God, since we also are the Image of God: not indeed that which is equal to Him, since we are made so by the Father through the Son, and not born of the Father, as that is. And we are so, because we are enlightened with light; but that is so, because it is the light that enlightens; and which, therefore, being without pattern, is to us a pattern. For He does not imitate any one going before Him, in respect to the Father, from whom He is never separable at all, since He is the very same substance with Him from whom He is. But we by striving imitate Him who abides, and follow Him who stands still, and walking in Him, reach out towards Him; because He is made for us a way in time by His humiliation, which is to us an eternal abiding-place by His divinity. For since to pure intellectual spirits, who have not fallen through pride, He gives an example in the form of God and as equal with God and as God; so, in order that He might also give Himself as an example of returning to fallen man, who on account of the uncleanness of sins and the punishment of mortality cannot see God, “He emptied Himself;” not by changing His own divinity, but by assuming our changeableness: and “taking upon Him the form of a servant,”7 “He came to us into this world,”8 who “was in this world,” because “the world was made by Him;”9 that He might be an example upwards to those who see God, an example downwards to those who admire man, an example to the sound to persevere, an example to the sick to be made whole, an example to those who are to die that they may not fear, an example to the dead that they may rise again, “that in all things He might have the pre-eminence.”10 So that, because man ought not to follow any except God to blessedness, and yet cannot perceive God; by following God made man, he might follow at once Him whom he could perceive, and whom he ought to follow. Let us then love Him and cleave to Him, by charity spread abroad in our hearts, through the Holy Spirit which is given unto us.11 It is not therefore to be wondered at, if, on account of the example which the Image, which is equal to the Father, gives to us, in order that we may be refashioned after the image of God, Scripture, when it speaks of wisdom, speaks of the Son, whom we follow by living wisely; although the Father also is wisdom, as He is both light and God.
6. The Holy Spirit also, whether we are to call Him that absolute love which joins together Father and Son, and joins us also from beneath, that so that is not unfitly said which is written, “God is love;”12 how is He not also Himself wisdom, since He is light, because “God is light”? or whether after any other way the essence of the Holy Spirit is to be singly and properly named; then, too, since He is God, He is certainly light; and since He is light, He is certainly wisdom. But that the Holy Spirit is God, Scripture proclaims by the apostle, who says, “Know ye not that ye are the temple of God?” and immediately subjoins, “And the Spirit of God dwelleth in you;”13 for God dwelleth in His own temple. For the Spirit of God does not dwell in the temple of God as a servant, since he says more plainly in another place, “Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, and which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? Edition: current; Page:  For ye are bought with a great price: therefore glorify God in your body.”1 But what is wisdom, except spiritual and unchangeable light? For yonder sun also is light, but it is corporeal; and the spiritual creature also is light, but it is not unchangeable. Therefore the Father is light, the Son is light, and the Holy Spirit is light; but together not three lights, but one light. And so the Father is wisdom, the Son is wisdom, and the Holy Spirit is wisdom, and together not three wisdoms, but one wisdom: and because in the Trinity to be is the same as to be wise, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are one essence. Neither in the Trinity is it one thing to be and another to be God; therefore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are one God.
7. For the sake, then, of speaking of things that cannot be uttered, that we may be able in some way to utter what we are able in no way to utter fully, our Greek friends have spoken of one essence, three substances; but the Latins of one essence or substance, three persons; because, as we have already said,2 essence usually means nothing else than substance in our language, that is, in Latin. And provided that what is said is understood only in a mystery, such a way of speaking was sufficient, in order that there might be something to say when it was asked what the three are, which the true faith pronounces to be three, when it both declares that the Father is not the Son, and that the Holy Spirit, which is the gift of God, is neither the Father nor the Son. When, then, it is asked what the three are, or who the three are, we betake ourselves to the finding out of some special or general name under which we may embrace these three; and no such name occurs to the mind, because the supereminence of the Godhead surpasses the power of customary speech. For God is more truly thought than He is uttered, and exists more truly than He is thought. For when we say that Jacob was not the same as Abraham, but that Isaac was neither Abraham nor Jacob, certainly we confess that they are three, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But when it is asked what three, we reply three men, calling them in the plural by a specific name; but if we were to say three animals, then by a generic name; for man, as the ancients have defined him, is a rational, mortal animal: or again, as our Scriptures usually speak, three souls, since it is fitting to denominate the whole from the better part, that is, to denominate both body and soul, which is the whole man, from the soul; for so it is said that seventy-five souls went down into Egypt with Jacob, instead of saying so many men.3 Again, when we say that your horse is not mine, and that a third belonging to some one else is neither mine nor yours, then we confess that there are three; and if any one ask what three, we answer three horses by a specific name, but three animals by a generic one. And yet again, when we say that an ox is not a horse, but that a dog is neither an ox nor a horse, we speak of a three; and if any one questions us what three, we do not speak now by a specific name of three horses, or three oxen, or three dogs, because the three are not contained under the same species, but by a generic name, three animals; or if under a higher genus, three substances, or three creatures, or three natures. But whatsoever things are expressed in the plural number specifically by one name, can also be expressed generically by one name. But all things which are generically called by one name cannot also be called specifically by one name. For three horses, which is a specific name, we also call three animals; but a horse, and an ox, and a dog, we call only three animals or substances, which are generic names, or anything else that can be spoken generically concerning them; but we cannot speak of them as three horses, or oxen, or dogs, which are specific names; for we express those things by one name, although in the plural number, which have that in common that is signified by the name. For Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, have in common that which is man; therefore they are called three men: a horse also, and an ox, and a dog, have in common that which is animal; therefore they are called three animals. So three several laurels we also call three trees; but a laurel, and a myrtle, and an olive, we call only three trees, or three substances, or three natures: and so three stones we call also three bodies; but stone, and wood, and iron, we call only three bodies, or by any other higher generic name by which they can be called. Of the Father, therefore, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, seeing that they are three, let us ask what three they are, and what they have in common. For the being the Father is not common to them, so that they should be interchangeably fathers Edition: current; Page:  to one another: as friends, since they are so called relatively to each other, can be called three friends, because they are so mutually to each other. But this is not the case in the Trinity, since the Father only is there father; and not Father of two, but of the Son only. Neither are they three Sons, since the Father there is not the Son, nor is the Holy Spirit. Neither three Holy Spirits, because the Holy Spirit also, in that proper meaning by which He is also called the gift of God, is neither the Father nor the Son. What three therefore? For if three persons, then that which is meant by person is common to them; therefore this name is either specific or generic to them, according to the manner of speaking. But where there is no difference of nature, there things that are several in number are so expressed generically, that they can also be expressed specifically. For the difference of nature causes, that a laurel, and a myrtle, and an olive, or a horse, and an ox, and a dog, are not called by the specific name, the former of three laurels, or the latter of three oxen, but by the generic name, the former of three trees, and the latter of three animals. But here, where there is no difference of essence, it is necessary that these three should have a specific name, which yet is not to be found. For person is a generic name, insomuch that man also can be so called, although there is so great a difference between man and God.
8. Further, in regard to that very generic (generalis) word, if on this account we say three persons, because that which person means is common to them (otherwise they can in no way be so called, just as they are not called three sons, because that which son means is not common to them); why do we not also say three Gods? For certainly, since the Father is a person, and the Son a person, and the Holy Spirit a person, therefore there are three persons: since then the Father is God, and the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God, why not three Gods? Or else, since on account of their ineffable union these three are together one God, why not also one person; so that we could not say three persons, although we call each a person singly, just as we cannot say three Gods, although we call each singly God, whether the Father, or the Son, or the Holy Spirit? Is it because Scripture does not say three Gods? But neither do we find that Scripture anywhere mentions three persons. Or is it because Scripture does not call these three, either three persons or one person (for we read of the person of the Lord, but not of the Lord as a person), that therefore it was lawful through the mere necessity of speaking and reasoning to say three persons, not because Scripture says it, but because Scripture does not contradict it: whereas, if we were to say three Gods, Scripture would contradict it, which says, “Hear, O Israel; the Lord thy God is one God?”1 Why then is it not also lawful to say three essences; which, in like manner, as Scripture does not say, so neither does it contradict? For if essence is a specific (specialis) name common to three, why are They not to be called three essences, as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called three men, because man is the specific name common to all men? But if essence is not a specific name, but a generic one, since man, and cattle, and tree, and constellation, and angel, are called essences; why are not these called three essences, as three horses are called three animals, and three laurels are called three trees, and three stones three bodies? Or if they are not called three essences, but one essence, on account of the unity of the Trinity, why is it not the case, that on account of the same unity of the Trinity they are not to be called three substances or three persons, but one substance and one person? For as the name of essence is common to them, so that each singly is called essence, so the name of either substance or person is common to them. For that which must be understood of persons according to our usage, this is to be understood of substances according to the Greek usage; for they say three substances, one essence, in the same way as we say three persons, one essence or substance.
9. What therefore remains, except that we confess that these terms sprang from the necessity of speaking, when copious reasoning was required against the devices or errors of the heretics? For when human weakness endeavored to utter in speech to the senses of man what it grasps in the secret places of the mind in proportion to its comprehension respecting the Lord God its creator, whether by devout faith, or by any discernment whatsoever; it feared to say three essences, lest any difference should be understood to exist in that absolute equality. Again, it could not say that there were not three somewhats (tria quædam), for it was because Sabellius said this that he fell into heresy. For it must be devoutly believed, as most certainly known from the Scriptures, and must be grasped by the mental eye with undoubting perception, that there is both Edition: current; Page:  Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit; and that the Son is not the same with the Father, nor the Holy Spirit the same with the Father or the Son. It sought then what three it should call them, and answered substances or persons; by which names it did not intend diversity to be meant, but singleness to be denied: that not only unity might be understood therein from the being called one essence, but also Trinity from the being called three substances or persons. For if it is the same thing with God to be (esse) as to subsist (subsistere), they were not to be called three substances, in such sense as they are not called three essences; just as, because it is the same thing with God to be as to be wise, as we do not say three essences, so neither three wisdoms. For so, because it is the same thing to Him to be God as to be, it is not right to say three essences, as it is not right to say three Gods. But if it is one thing to God to be, another to subsist, as it is one thing to God to be, another to be the Father or the Lord (for that which He is, is spoken in respect to Himself, but He is called Father in relation to the Son, and Lord in relation to the creature which serves Him); therefore He subsists relatively, as He begets relatively, and bears rule relatively: so then substance will be no longer substance, because it will be relative. For as from being, He is called essence, so from subsisting, we speak of substance. But it is absurd that substance should be spoken relatively, for everything subsists in respect to itself; how much more God?1
10. If, however, it is fitting that God should be said to subsist—(For this word is rightly applied to those things, in which as subjects those things are, which are said to be in a subject, as color or shape in body. For body subsists, and so is substance; but those things are in the body, which subsists and is their subject, and they are not substances, but are in a substance: and so, if either that color or that shape ceases to be, it does not deprive the body of being a body, because it is not of the being of body, that it should retain this or that shape or color; therefore neither changeable nor simple things are properly called substances.)—If, I say, God subsists so that He can be properly called a substance, then there is something in Him as it were in a subject, and He is not simple, i.e. such that to Him to be is the same as is anything else that is said concerning Him in respect to Himself; as, for instance, great, omnipotent, good, and whatever of this kind is not unfitly said of God. But it is an impiety to say that God subsists, and is a subject in relation to His own goodness, and that this goodness is not a substance or rather essence, and that God Himself is not His own goodness, but that it is in Him as in a subject. And hence it is clear that God is improperly called substance, in order that He may be understood to be, by the more usual name essence, which He is truly and properly called; so that perhaps it is right that God alone should be called essence. For He is truly alone, because He is unchangeable; and declared this to be His own name to His servant Moses, when He says, “I am that I am;” and, “Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel: He who is hath sent me unto you.”2 However, whether He be called essence, which He is properly called, or substance, which He is called improperly, He is called both in respect to Himself, not relatively to anything; whence to God to be is the same thing as to subsist; and so the Trinity, if one essence, is also one substance. Perhaps therefore they are more conveniently called three persons than three substances.
11. But lest I should seem to favor ourselves [the Latins], let us make this further inquiry. Although they [the Greeks] also, if they pleased, as they call three substances three hypostases, so might call three persons three “prosopa,” yet they preferred that word which, perhaps, was more in accordance with the usage of their language. For the case is the same with the word persons also; for to God it is not one thing to be, another to be a person, but it is absolutely the same thing. For if to be is said in respect to Himself, but person relatively; in this way we should say three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit; just as we speak of three friends, or three relations, or three neighbors, in that they are so mutually, not that each one of them is so in respect to himself. Wherefore any one of these is the friend of the other two, Edition: current; Page:  or the relation, or the neighbor, because these names have a relative signification. What then? Are we to call the Father the person of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, or the Son the person of the Father and of the Holy Spirit, or the Holy Spirit the person of the Father and of the Son? But neither is the word person commonly so used in any case; nor in this Trinity, when we speak of the person of the Father, do we mean anything else than the substance of the Father. Wherefore, as the substance of the Father is the Father Himself, not as He is the Father, but as He is, so also the person of the Father is not anything else than the Father Himself; for He is called a person in respect to Himself, not in respect to the Son, or the Holy Spirit: just as He is called in respect to Himself both God, and great, and good, and just, and anything else of the kind; and just as to Him to be is the same as to be God, or as to be great, or as to be good, so it is the same thing to Him to be, as to be a person. Why, therefore, do we not call these three together one person, as one essence and one God, but say three persons, while we do not say three Gods or three essences; unless it be because we wish some one word to serve for that meaning whereby the Trinity is understood, that we might not be altogether silent, when asked, what three, while we confessed that they are three? For if essence is the genus, and substance or person the species, as some think, then I must omit what I just now said, that they ought to be called three essences, as they are called three substances or persons; as three horses are called three horses, and the same are called three animals, since horse is the species, animal the genus. For in this case the species is not spoken of in the plural, and the genus in the singular, as if we were to say that three horses were one animal; but as they are three horses by the special name, so they are three animals by the generic one. But if they say that the name of substance or person does not signify species, but something singular and individual; so that any one is not so called a substance or person as he is called a man, for man is common to all men, but in the same manner as he is called this or that man, as Abraham, as Isaac, as Jacob, or anyone else who, if present, could be pointed out with the finger: so will the same reason reach these too. For as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob are called three individuals, so are they called three men, and three souls. Why then are both the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, if we are to reason about them also according to genus and species and individual, not so called three essences, as they are called three substances or persons? But this, as I said, I pass over: but I do affirm, that if essence is a genus, then a single essence has no species; just as, because animal is a genus, a single animal has no species. Therefore the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are not three species of one essence. But if essence is a species, as man is a species, but those are three which we call substances or persons, then they have the same species in common, in such way as Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have in common the species which is called man; not as man is subdivided into Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, so can one man also be subdivided into several single men; for this is altogether impossible, since one man is already a single man. Why then is one essence subdivided into three substances or persons? For if essence is a species, as man is, then one essence is as one man is: or do we, as we say that any three human beings of the same sex, of the same constitution of body, of the same mind, are one nature,—for they are three human beings, but one nature,—so also say in the Trinity three substances one essence, or three persons one substance or essence? But this is somehow a parallel case, since the ancients also who spoke Latin, before they had these terms, which have not long come into use, that is, essence or substance, used for them to say nature. We do not therefore use these terms according to genus or species, but as if according to a matter that is common and the same. Just as if three statues were made of the same gold, we should say three statues one gold, yet should neither call the gold genus, and the statues species; nor the gold species, and the statues individuals. For no species goes beyond its own individuals, so as to comprehend anything external to them. For when I define what man is, which is a specific name, every several man that exists is contained in the same individual definition, neither does anything belong to it which is not a man. But when I define gold, not statues alone, if they be gold, but rings also, and anything else that is made of gold, will belong to gold; and even if nothing were made of it, it would still be called gold; since, even if there were no gold statues, there will not therefore be no statues at all. Likewise no species goes beyond the definition of its genus. For when I define animal, since horse is a species of this genus, every horse is an animal; but every statue is not gold. So, although in the case of three golden statues we should rightly say three statues, one gold; yet we do not so say it, as to understand gold to be the genus, and the statues to be species. Therefore neither do we so call the Trinity Edition: current; Page:  three persons or substances, one essence and one God, as though three somethings subsisted out of one matter [leaving a remainder, i. e.]; although whatever that is, it is unfolded in these three. For there is nothing else of that essence besides the Trinity. Yet we say three persons of the same essence, or three persons one essence; but we do not say three persons out of the same essence, as though therein essence were one thing, and person another, as we can say three statues out of the same gold; for there it is one thing to be gold, another to be statues. And when we say three men one nature, or three men of the same nature, they also can be called three men out of the same nature, since out of the same nature there can be also three other such men. But in that essence of the Trinity, in no way can any other person whatever exist out of the same essence. Further, in these things, one man is not as much as three men together; and two men are something more than one man: and in equal statues, three together amount to more of gold than each singly, and one amounts to less of gold than two. But in God it is not so; for the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit together is not a greater essence than the Father alone or the Son alone; but these three substances or persons, if they must be so called, together are equal to each singly: which the natural man does not comprehend. For he cannot think except under the conditions of bulk and space, either small or great, since phantasms or as it were images of bodies flit about in his mind.
12. And until he be purged from this uncleanness, let him believe in the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, one God, alone, great, omnipotent, good, just, merciful, Creator of all things visible and invisible, and whatsoever can be worthily and truly said of Him in proportion to human capacity. And when he is told that the Father only is God, let him not separate from Him the Son or the Holy Spirit; for together with Him He is the only God, together with whom also He is one God; because, when we are told that the Son also is the only God, we must needs take it without any separation of the Father or the Holy Spirit. And let him so say one essence, as not to think one to be either greater or better than, or in any respect differing from, another. Yet not that the Father Himself is both Son and Holy Spirit, or whatever else each is singly called in relation to either of the others; as Word, which is not said except of the Son, or Gift, which is not said except of the Holy Spirit. And on this account also they admit the plural number, as it is written in the Gospel, “I and my Father are one.”1 He has both said “one,”2 and “we are3 one,” according to essence, because they are the same God; “we are,” according to relation, because the one is Father, the other is Son. Sometimes also the unity of the essence is left unexpressed, and the relatives alone are mentioned in the plural number: “My Father and I will come unto him, and make our abode with him.”4 We will come, and we will make our abode, is the plural number, since it was said before, “I and my Father,” that is, the Son and the Father, which terms are used relatively to one another. Sometimes the meaning is altogether latent, as in Genesis: “Let us make man after our image and likeness.”5 Both let us make and our is said in the plural, and ought not to be received except as of relatives. For it was not that gods might make, or make after the image and likeness of gods; but that the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit might make after the image of the Father, and Son, and Holy Spirit, that man might subsist as the image of God. And God is the Trinity. But because that image of God was not made altogether equal to Him, as being not born of Him, but created by Him; in order to signify this, he is in such way the image as that he is “after the image,” that is, he is not made equal by parity, but approaches to Him by a sort of likeness. For approach to God is not by intervals of place, but by likeness, and withdrawal from Him is by unlikeness. For there are some who draw this distinction, that they will have the Son to be the image, but man not to be the image, but “after the image.” But the apostle refutes them, saying, “For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God.”6 He did not say after the image, but the image. And this image, since it is elsewhere spoken of as after the image, is not as if it were said relatively to the Son, who is the image equal to the Father; otherwise he would not say after our image. For how our, when the Son is the image of the Father alone? But man is said to be “after the image,” on account, as we have said, of the inequality of the likeness; and therefore after our image, that man might be the image of the Trinity;7 not equal to the Trinity as the Son is equal to the Father, but approaching to it, as has been Edition: current; Page:  said, by a certain likeness; just as nearness may in a sense be signified in things distant from each other, not in respect of place, but of a sort of imitation. For it is also said, “Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind;”1 to whom he likewise says, “Be ye therefore imitators of God as dear children.”2 For it is said to the new man, “which is renewed to the knowledge of God, after the image of Him that created him.”3 Or if we choose to admit the plural number, in order to meet the needs of argument, even putting aside relative terms, that so we may answer in one term when it is asked what three, and say three substances or three persons; then let no one think of any bulk or interval, or of any distance of howsoever little unlikeness, so that in the Trinity any should be understood to be even a little less than another, in whatsoever way one thing can be less than another: in order that there may be neither a confusion of persons, nor such a distinction as that there should be any inequality. And if this cannot be grasped by the understanding, let it be held by faith, until He shall dawn in the heart who says by the prophet, “If ye will not believe, surely ye shall not understand.”4
explains and proves that not only the father is not greater than the son, but neither are both together anything greater than the holy spirit, nor any two together in the same trinity anything greater than one, nor all three together anything greater than each severally. it is then shown how the nature itself of god may be understood from our understanding of truth, and from our knowledge of the supreme good, and from the innate love of righteousness, whereby a righteous soul is loved even by a soul that is itself not yet righteous. but it is urged above all, that the knowledge of god is to be sought by love, which god is said to be in the scriptures; and in this love is also pointed out the existence of some trace of a trinity.
We have said elsewhere that those things are predicated specially in the Trinity as belonging severally to each person, which are predicated relatively the one to the other, as Father and Son, and the gift of both, the Holy Spirit; for the Father is not the Trinity, nor the Son the Trinity, nor the gift the Trinity: but what whenever each is singly spoken of in respect to themselves, then they are not spoken of as three in the plural number, but one, the Trinity itself, as the Father God, the Son God, and the Holy Spirit God; the Father good, the Son good, and the Holy Spirit good; and the Father omnipotent, the Son omnipotent, and the Holy Spirit omnipotent: yet neither three Gods, nor three goods, nor three omnipotents, but one God, good, omnipotent, the Trinity itself; and whatsoever else is said of them not relatively in respect to each other, but individually in respect to themselves. For they are thus spoken of according to essence, since in them to be is the same as to be great, as to be good, as to be wise, and whatever else is said of each person individually therein, or of the Trinity itself, in respect to themselves. And that therefore they are called three persons, or three substances, not in order that any difference of essence may be understood, but that we may be able to answer by some one word, should any one ask what three, or what three things? And that there is so great an equality in that Trinity, that not only the Father is not greater than the Son, as regards divinity, but neither are the Father and Son together greater than the Holy Spirit; nor is each individual person, whichever it be of the three, less than the Trinity itself. This is what we have said; and if it is handled and repeated frequently, it becomes, no doubt, more familiarly known: yet some limit, too, must be put to the discussion, and we must supplicate God with most devout piety, that He will open our understanding, and take away the inclination of disputing, in order that our minds may discern the essence of the truth, that has neither bulk nor moveableness. Now, therefore, so far as the Creator Himself aids us in His marvellous mercy, let us consider these subjects, into which we will enter more deeply than we entered into those which preceded, although they are in truth the same; preserving the while this rule, that what has not yet been made clear to our intellect, be nevertheless not loosened from the firmness of our faith.
2. For we say that in this Trinity two or three persons are not anything greater than one of them; which carnal perception does not receive, for no other reason except because it perceives as it can the true things which are created, but cannot discern the truth itself by which they are created; for if it could, then the very corporeal light would in no way be more clear than this which we have said. For in respect to the substance of truth, since it alone truly is, nothing is greater, unless because it more truly is.1 But in respect to whatsoever is intelligible and unchangeable, no one thing is more truly than another, since all alike are unchangeably eternal; and that which therein is called great, is not great from any other source than from that by which it truly is. Wherefore, where magnitude itself is truth, whatsoever has more of magnitude must needs have more of truth; whatsoever therefore has not more of truth, has not also more of magnitude. Further, whatsoever has more of truth is certainly more true, just as that is greater which has more of magnitude; therefore in respect to the substance of truth that is more great which is more true. But the Father and the Son together are not more truly than the Father singly, or the Son singly. Both together, therefore, are not anything greater than each of them singly. And since also the Holy Spirit equally is truly, the Father and Son together are not anything greater than He, since neither are they more truly. The Father also and the Holy Spirit together, since they do not surpass the Son in truth (for they are not more truly), do not surpass Him either in magnitude. And so the Son and the Holy Spirit together are just as great as the Father alone, since they are as truly. So also the Trinity itself is as great as each several person therein. For where truth itself is magnitude, that is not more great which is not more true: since in regard to the essence of truth, to be true is the same as to be, and to be is the same as to be great; therefore to be great is the same as to be true. And in regard to it, therefore, what is equally true must needs also be equally great.
3. But in respect to bodies, it may be the case that this gold and that gold may be equally true [real], but this may be greater than that, since magnitude is not the same thing in this case as truth; and it is one thing for it to be gold, another to be great. So also in the nature of the soul; a soul is not called great in the same respect in which it is called true. For he, too, has a true [real] soul who has not a great soul; since the essence of body and soul is not the essence of the truth [reality] itself; as is the Trinity, one God, alone, great, true, truthful, the truth. Of whom if we endeavor to think, so far as He Himself permits and grants, let us not think of any touch or embrace in local space, as if of three bodies, or of any compactness of conjunction, as fables tell of three-bodied Geryon; but let whatsoever may occur to the mind, that is of such sort as to be greater in three than in each singly, and less in one than in two, be rejected without any doubt; for so everything corporeal is rejected. But also in spiritual things let nothing changeable that may have occurred to the mind be thought of God. For when we aspire from this depth to that height, it is a step towards no small knowledge, if, before we can know what God is, we can already know what He is not. For certainly He is neither earth nor heaven; nor, as it were, earth and heaven; nor any such thing as we see in the heaven; nor any such thing as we do not see, but which perhaps is in heaven. Neither if you were to magnify in the imagination of your thought the light of the sun as much as you are able, either that it may be greater, or that it may be brighter, a thousand times as much, or times without number; neither is this God. Neither as2 we think of the pure angels as spirits animating celestial bodies, and changing and dealing with them after the will by which they serve God; not even if all, and there are “thousands of thousands,”3 were brought together into one, and became one; neither is any such thing God. Neither if you were to think of the same spirits as without bodies—a thing indeed most difficult for carnal thought to do. Behold and see, if thou canst, O soul pressed down by the corruptible body, and weighed down by earthly thoughts, many and various; behold and see, if thou canst, that God is truth.4 For it is written that “God is light;”5 not in such Edition: current; Page:  way as these eyes see, but in such way as the heart sees, when it is said, He is truth [reality]. Ask not what is truth [reality]; for immediately the darkness of corporeal images and the clouds of phantasms will put themselves in the way, and will disturb that calm which at the first twinkling shone forth to thee, when I said truth [reality]. See that thou remainest, if thou canst, in that first twinkling with which thou art dazzled, as it were, by a flash, when it is said to thee, Truth [Reality]. But thou canst not; thou wilt glide back into those usual and earthly things. And what weight, pray, is it that will cause thee so to glide back, unless it be the bird-lime of the stains of appetite thou hast contracted, and the errors of thy wandering from the right path?
4. Behold again, and see if thou canst. Thou certainly dost not love anything except what is good, since good is the earth, with the loftiness of its mountains, and the due measure of its hills, and the level surface of its plains; and good is an estate that is pleasant and fertile; and good is a house that is arranged in due proportions, and is spacious and bright; and good are animal and animate bodies; and good is air that is temperate and salubrious; and good is food that is agreeable and fit for health; and good is health, without pains or lassitude; and good is the countenance of man that is disposed in fit proportions, and is cheerful in look, and bright in color; and good is the mind of a friend, with the sweetness of agreement, and with the confidence of love; and good is a righteous man; and good are riches, since they are readily useful; and good is the heaven, with its sun, and moon, and stars; and good are the angels, by their holy obedience; and good is discourse that sweetly teaches and suitably admonishes the hearer; and good is a poem that is harmonious in its numbers and weighty in its sense. And why add yet more and more? This thing is good and that good, but take away this and that, and regard good itself if thou canst; so wilt thou see God, not good by a good that is other than Himself, but the good of all good. For in all these good things, whether those which I have mentioned, or any else that are to be discerned or thought, we could not say that one was better than another, when we judge truly, unless a conception of the good itself had been impressed upon us, such that according to it we might both approve some things as good, and prefer one good to another. So God is to be loved, not this and that good, but the good itself. For the good that must be sought for the soul is not one above which it is to fly by judging, but to which it is to cleave by loving; and what can this be except God? Not a good mind, or a good angel, or the good heaven, but the good good. For perhaps what I wish to say may be more easily perceived in this way. For when, for instance, a mind is called good, as there are two words, so from these words I understand two things—one whereby it is mind, and another whereby it is good. And itself had no share in making itself a mind, for there was nothing as yet to make itself to be anything; but to make itself to be a good mind, I see, must be brought about by the will: not because that by which it is mind is not itself anything good;—for how else is it already called, and most truly called, better than the body?—but it is not yet called a good mind, for this reason, that the action of the will still is wanted, by which it is to become more excellent; and if it has neglected this, then it is justly blamed, and is rightly called not a good mind. For it then differs from the mind which does perform this; and since the latter is praiseworthy, the former doubtless, which does not perform, it is blameable. But when it does this of set purpose, and becomes a good mind, it yet cannot attain to being so unless it turn itself to something which itself is not. And to what can it turn itself that it may become a good mind, except to the good which it loves, and seeks, and obtains? And if it turns itself back again from this, and becomes not good, then by the very act of turning away from the good, unless that good remain in it from which it turns away, it cannot again turn itself back thither if it should wish to amend.
5. Wherefore there would be no changeable goods, unless there were the unchangeable good. Whenever then thou art told of this good thing and that good thing, which things can also in other respects be called not good, if thou canst put aside those things which are good by the participation of the good, and discern that good itself by the participation of which they are good (for when this or that good thing is spoken of, thou understandest together with them the good itself also): if, then, I say thou canst remove these things, and canst discern the good in itself, then thou wilt have discerned God. And if thou shalt cleave to Him with love, thou shalt be forthwith blessed. But whereas other things are not loved, except because they are good, Edition: current; Page:  be ashamed, in cleaving to them, not to love the good itself whence they are good. That also, which is a mind, only because it is a mind, while it is not yet also good by the turning itself to the unchangeable good, but, as I said, is only a mind; whenever it so pleases us, as that we prefer it even, if we understand aright, to all corporeal light, does not please us in itself, but in that skill by which it was made. For it is thence approved as made, wherein it is seen to have been to be made. This is truth, and simple good: for it is nothing else than the good itself, and for this reason also the chief good. For no good can be diminished or increased, except that which is good from some other good. Therefore the mind turns itself, in order to be good, to that by which it comes to be a mind. Therefore the will is then in harmony with nature, so that the mind may be perfected in good, when that good is loved by the turning of the will to it, whence that other good also comes which is not lost by the turning away of the will from it. For by turning itself from the chief good, the mind loses the being a good mind; but it does not lose the being a mind. And this, too, is a good already, and one better than the body. The will, therefore, loses that which the will obtains. For the mind already was, that could wish to be turned to that from which it was: but that as yet was not, that could wish to be before it was. And herein is our [supreme] good, when we see whether the thing ought to be or to have been, respecting which we comprehend that it ought to be or to have been, and when we see that the thing could not have been unless it ought to have been, of which we also do not comprehend in what manner it ought to have been. This good then is not far from every one of us: for in it we live, and move, and have our being.1
6. But it is by love that we must stand firm to this and cleave to this, in order that we may enjoy the presence of that by which we are, and in the absence of which we could not be at all. For as “we walk as yet by faith, and not by sight,”2 we certainly do not yet see God, as the same [apostle] saith, “face to face:”3 whom however we shall never see, unless now already we love. But who loves what he does not know? For it is possible something may be known and not loved: but I ask whether it is possible that what is not known can be loved; since if it cannot, then no one loves God before he knows Him. And what is it to know God except to behold Him and steadfastly perceive Him with the mind? For He is not a body to be searched out by carnal eyes. But before also that we have power to behold and to perceive God, as He can be beheld and perceived, which is permitted to the pure in heart; for “blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God;”4 except He is loved by faith, it will not be possible for the heart to be cleansed, in order that it may be apt and meet to see Him. For where are there those three, in order to build up which in the mind the whole apparatus of the divine Scriptures has been raised up, namely Faith, Hope, and Charity,5 except in a mind believing what it does not yet see, and hoping and loving what it believes? Even He therefore who is not known, but yet is believed, can be loved. But indisputably we must take care, lest the mind believing that which it does not see, feign to itself something which is not, and hope for and love that which is false. For in that case, it will not be charity out of a pure heart, and of a good conscience, and of faith unfeigned, which is the end of the commandment, as the same apostle says.6
7. But it must needs be, that, when by reading or hearing of them we believe in any corporeal things which we have not seen, the mind frames for itself something under bodily features and forms, just as it may occur to our thoughts; which either is not true, or even if it be true, which can most rarely happen, yet this is of no benefit to us to believe in by faith, but it is useful for some other purpose, which is intimated by means of it. For who is there that reads or hears what the Apostle Paul has written, or what has been written of him, that does not imagine to himself the countenance both of the apostle himself, and of all those whose names are there mentioned? And whereas, among such a multitude of men to whom these books are known, each imagines in a different way those bodily features and forms, it is assuredly uncertain which it is that imagines them more nearly and more like the reality. Nor, indeed, is our faith busied therein with the bodily countenance of those men; but only that by the grace of God they so lived and so acted as that Scripture witnesses: this it is which it is both useful to believe, and which must not be despaired of, and must be sought. For even the countenance of our Lord Himself in the flesh is variously fancied by the diversity of countless imaginations, which yet was one, whatever it was. Nor in our faith which we have of our Edition: current; Page:  Lord Jesus Christ, is that wholesome which the mind imagines for itself, perhaps far other than the reality, but that which we think of man according to his kind: for we have a notion of human nature implanted in us, as it were by rule, according to which we know forthwith, that whatever such thing we see is a man or the form of a man.
Our conception is framed according to this notion, when we believe that God was made man for us, as an example of humility, and to show the love of God towards us. For this it is which it is good for us to believe, and to retain firmly and unshakenly in our heart, that the humility by which God was born of a woman, and was led to death through contumelies so great by mortal men, is the chiefest remedy by which the swelling of our pride may be cured, and the profound mystery by which the bond of sin may be loosed. So also, because we know what omnipotence is, we believe concerning the omnipotent God in the power of His miracles and of His resurrection, and we frame conceptions respecting actions of this kind, according to the species and genera of things that are either ingrafted in us by nature, or gathered by experience, that our faith may not be feigned. For neither do we know the countenance of the Virgin Mary; from whom, untouched by a husband, nor tainted in the birth itself, He was wonderfully born. Neither have we seen what were the lineaments of the body of Lazarus; nor yet Bethany; nor the sepulchre, and that stone which He commanded to be removed when He raised Him from the dead; nor the new tomb cut out in the rock, whence He Himself arose; nor the Mount of Olives, from whence He ascended into heaven. And, in short, whoever of us have not seen these things, know not whether they are as we conceive them to be, nay judge them more probably not to be so. For when the aspect either of a place, or a man, or of any other body, which we happened to imagine before we saw it, turns out to be the same when it occurs to our sight as it was when it occurred to our mind, we are moved with no little wonder. So scarcely and hardly ever does it happen. And yet we believe those things most steadfastly, because we imagine them according to a special and general notion, of which we are certain. For we believe our Lord Jesus Christ to be born of a virgin who was called Mary. But what a virgin is, or what it is to be born, and what is a proper name, we do not believe, but certainly know. And whether that was the countenance of Mary which occurred to the mind in speaking of those things or recollecting them, we neither know at all, nor believe. It is allowable, then, in this case to say without violation of the faith, perhaps she had such or such a countenance, perhaps she had not: but no one could say without violation of the Christian faith, that perhaps Christ was born of a virgin.
8. Wherefore, since we desire to understand the eternity, and equality, and unity of the Trinity, as much as is permitted us, but ought to believe before we understand; and since we must watch carefully, that our faith be not feigned; since we must have the fruition of the same Trinity, that we may live blessedly; but if we have believed anything false of it, our hope would be worthless, and our charity not pure: how then can we love, by believing, that Trinity which we do not know? Is it according to the special or general notio