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Commentary On The Gospel According To Saint John Volumes 1&2

That the Son being Consubstantial with the Father is also God in His Own Person, even as also the Father.

And the Word was with God.

HAVING sufficiently shewn that already out of date and astray from the truth is the senseless mind of those who hold such opinions, and having, by saying In the beginning was the Word, closed every loophole to those who say that the Son is of the things that are not, and having utterly stripped off all their nonsense in these words, he goes to another akin and most perverse heresy. And like as some gardener at once most excellent and enduring, delights much in the toils of the mattock, and girding his loins, and in the working-dress befitting him, gives all diligence to present the appearance of his park free from the unseemliness of thorns, and ceases not throwing one upon another, and, ever going round about, removes the troublesome root, applying the stern tooth of the mattock; so the blessed John too, bearing in his mind the quick and powerful and most sharp word of God and considering with keenest glance and clearest attention the bitter shoots of the naughtiness of those who think otherwise, comes upon them so to speak at a run, and with mighty resolution cuts them off on every side, to those who read his books ministering defence in the right faith.

For see now again I pray, the vigilance of this bearer within him of the Spirit. He taught in the foregoing, that the Word was in Ἀρχὴ, that is, in God the Father, as we said. But since, with the eye of his understanding illumined, he was not ignorant, as we may suppose, that certain would arise, of their great ignorance saying that the Father and Son are one and the same, and distinguishing the Holy Trinity only by name, but not suffering Them to exist in Their several Persons, so that the Father should be conceived of as in truth Father and not Son, the Son again to be by Himself Son, not Father, as the word of truth is:—needs against this heresy too as already confronting him, and mooted at that time, or about so to be, does he arm himself, and for its destruction, by the side of In the beginning was the Word he puts forthwith, And the Word was with God: every where adding of necessity the was on account of His Generation before the ages, yet by saying that the Word was with God, shewing that the Son is One, having existence by Himself, God the Father again, with Whom was the Word, Another. For how can that which is one in number be conceived of as itself with itself, or beside itself?

But that the reasoning of the heretics about these things also will be found without learning, we will teach by the considerations below, making an exact test of the questions regarding it.

Proof by demonstration and Scripture testimonies, that the Father is in His Own Person, and the Son likewise, the Holy Ghost being counted with Them as God, even though nothing is for the present enquired into regarding Him.

Consubstantial is the Son with the Father and the Father with the Son, wherefore They arrive at an unchangeable Likeness, so that the Father is seen in the Son, the Son in the Father, and Each flashes forth in the Other, even as the Saviour Himself says, He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father, and again, I in the Father and the Father in Me. But even though He be in the Father, and have again the Father in Him, Himself full well, as has been already said, perfectly exact unto the Form of Him Who begat Him, and depicting again in Himself without any shortcome, the Father whence He is:—not therefore will He be deprived of His separate existence, nor will the Father lose His own special Being; but neither will the surpassing Likeness and Resemblance work any confusion of Persons, so that the Father Who begat and the Son Who is Begotten of Him should be considered as one in number. But sameness of Nature will be confessed of Both, yet the Individual Existence of Each will surely follow, so that both the Father should be conceived of as indeed Father, and the Son as Son. For thus, the Holy Ghost being numbered with them and counted as God, the Holy and Adorable Trinity will have Its Proper Fullness.

Another. If the Son Himself is Father too, what place has the distinction of names? For if He begat not at all, why is He called Father? How Son, if He were not begotten of the Father? For the Names ask as of necessity such an idea regarding them. But since the Divine Scriptures preach that the Son was Begotten, and the truth is so, He has therefore an existence by Himself, The Father too is again by Himself, if indeed that which is begotten is plainly one thing from another as regards that which begets.

Another. The blessed Paul writing his letter to the Philippians says of the Son, Who being in the Form of God, thought it not robbery to be Equal with God. Who then is He Who would not that His being Equal with God should be thought robbery? For must one not needs say, that One is He Who is in the Form of God, Another again He Whose Form it was? But this is clear and confessed by all. Therefore not one and the same in number are Father and Son, but of distinct Being and beheld in One Another, according to sameness of Essence, even if They be One of One, to wit the Son of the Father.

Another. I and My Father are One, said the Saviour, as knowing, that is, that Himself has a separate existence and the Father too. But if the truth of the fact be not so, why did He not, keeping what belongs to oneness, say, I and My Father am One? But since He explains what He means by the plural number, clearly He overthrows the surmise of those who think otherwise. For we are will not be with sense taken of one.

Another. At the fashioning of man the voice of God is introduced saying, Let Us make man in Our Image, after Our likeness. If then the amplitude, if I may so call it, of the Holy Trinity is contracted into a One in number, and they impiously take away from the Father and the Son Their separate Existence: who is he who says, and to whom, Let us make man in Our Image? For He ought forsooth to say, if it be as they in their silly nonsense say, Let us make man in my image, after my likeness. But now the writer of the Book, not saying this indeed, but allotting the creation to the plural number and adding Our image, well-nigh with clear and mighty voice proclaims the enumeration of the Holy Trinity to be above One.

Another. If the Son is the Brightness of the Father, as Light of Light, how is He not other than Him, as of distinct Being? For that which is the embrightened, is so in very deed from other, that namely which brightens it, and not itself from itself.

Another. The Son shewing Himself of the Essence of God the Father says again, I came forth from the Father and am come; again I go to the Father. How then will He not be Other than the Father in Person and number, when all reason persuades us to conceive of that which proceeds from ought as other than that from whence it proceeded? Not true therefore is the contrary argument.

Another. Believing in God the Father, in His Only-Begotten Son, and in the Holy Ghost we are justified. Wherefore the Saviour Himself too enjoins His own Disciples saying Go ye therefore and teach all nations baptizing them in the Name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost If then the difference of the Names is to contribute nothing to our conception, but when one says the Father, he means the Son, and in naming the Son makes mention of the Father, what need was there of bidding that the believers should be baptized not into Unity but into Trinity? But since the tale of the Divine Nature runs forth into the number three, it is I suppose wholly manifest to all that Each of those so numbered exists in His Own Person, but by reason of there being no change in the Nature, It arrives at One Godhead and has the same worship.

Another. The Divine Scripture says that the cities of the Sodomites were burned by the Anger of God, and explaining how the Divine wrath was brought upon them, and clearly describing the mode of the destruction, The Lord, it says, rained upon Sodom brimstone and fire from the Lord, since this too is the portion of the cup most befitting those who are wont to commit such sins. What Lord then from what Lord sent the fire on and consumed the cities of the Sodomites? It is clear that it was the Father Who worketh all things through the Son, since He is too His Might and His Arm, Who caused Him to rain the fire upon the Sodomites. Since therefore the Lord sends the fire from the Lord upon them, how is not the Father Other, in respect to His own Being, than the Son, and the Son again than the Father? For the One is here signified as being from One.

Another. Moved by prophetic spirit, and through it foreknowing things to come, the blessed Psalmist had perceived that the human race could no otherwise be saved, except by the alone Appearing of the Son of God, Who is able easily to trans-order all things to whatsoever He will. Wherefore he besought that the Son might be sent to us, as alone able to save those who were under subjection and oppression of the devil, and said, as though to God the Father, O send out Thy Light and Thy Truth. What then the Light is, and what the Truth, hear the Son Himself saying, I am the Light and I am the Truth. But if the Light and the Truth of the Father, that is the Son, be sent to us, how is He not Other than He, as far as His own Being, even if He be One with Him as regards Sameness of Essence? For if any imagine that it is not so, but that Father and Son are one and the Same, why does not he who bears within him the Spirit make the fashion of his prayer different and cry, Come to us, O Light and Truth? But since he says O send out, plainly he knew that One is the Sender, Another the Sent: be the mode of the Sending conceived of as befits God.

Another. The Divine Scriptures say, that through the Son were made all things that are in heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, and thus believing, we the worshippers of the truth go on our way in rightness of conception, and within the dogmas of piety. Let us then scrutinize the expression through the Son, and examine what sense it gives us. It is clear that it would have us conceive of the Doer and Worker as One, Him through Whom all things are wrought as Another. For the expression through the Son gives, as of necessity, a sort of exhibition of two Persons. Else let them say how the word through the Son in His being said to do anything, will rightly and truly admit the one in number and in the reckoning thereto pertaining, if none other be conceived of with Him and concurring with Him. But I suppose that our opponent will be wholly at a loss. But since both the Divine Scriptures proclaim that the Father hath wrought all things through the Son, and we believe it and I suppose that they too: how is it not of necessity to conceive that the Father exists separately and by Himself, and in like manner the Son, nor does this any way overthrow the fact that the Holy Trinity is seen in sameness of Essence.

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