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A History Of The Church In Seven Books by Socrates

AFTER the lapse of about three years from the events above recorded, the Eastern bishops again assembled a Synod, and having composed another form of faith, they transmitted it to those in Italy by the hands of Eudoxius at that time bishop of Germanicia, Martyrius, and Macedonius who was bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia. This expression of the Creed, entering into more minute details of doctrine, contained many additions to those which had preceded it, and was set forth in these words:—

“We believe in one God, the Father Almighty, the Creator and Maker of all things, of whom the whole family in heaven and upon earth is named; and in his only-begotten Son Jesus Christ our Lord, begotten of the Father before all ages; God of God; Light of Light; by whom all things in the heavens and upon the earth, both visible and invisible, were made: who is the Word, Wisdom, Power, Life, and true Light: who in the last days for our sake was made man, and was born of the holy virgin; was crucified, and died; was buried, arose again from the dead on the third day, ascended into heaven, is seated at the right hand of the Father, and shall come at the consummation of the ages, to judge the living and the dead, and to render to every one according to his works: whose kingdom being perpetual, shall continue to infinite ages; for he sits at the right hand of the Father, not only in this age, but also in that which is to come. We believe in the Holy Spirit, that is in the Comforter, whom the Lord according to his promise sent to his apostles after his ascension into heaven, to teach them and bring all things to their remembrance: by whom also the souls of those who have sincerely believed on him are sanctified. But the holy catholic Church accounts as aliens those who assert that the Son was made of things not in being, or of another substance, and not of God, or that there was ever a time or age when he did not exist. The holy and catholic Church likewise anathematizes those also who say that there are three Gods, or that Christ is not God before all ages, or that he is neither Christ, nor the Son of God, or that the same person is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, or that the Son was not begotten, or that the Father begat not the Son by his own voluntary will. Neither is it safe to affirm that the Son had his existence from things that were not, since this is nowhere declared concerning him in the divinely-inspired Scriptures. Nor are we taught that he had his being from any other pre-existing substance besides the Father, but that he was truly begotten of God alone: for the Divine word teaches that there is one unbegotten principle without beginning, the Father of Christ. But those who unauthorized by Scripture rashly assert that there was a time when he was not, ought not to preconceive any antecedent interval of time, but God only who without time begat him: for both times and ages were made by him. Yet it must not be thought that the Son is co-inoriginate, or co-unbegotten with the Father: for this could not be predicated where such a relationship exists. But we know that the Father alone being inoriginate and incomprehensible, has ineffably and incomprehensibly to all begotten, and that the Son was begotten before the ages, but is not unbegotten like the Father, but has a beginning, viz. the Father who begat him, for ‘the head of Christ is God’ (1 Cor. 11:3). Now although according to the Scriptures we acknowledge three things or persons, viz. that of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, we do not on that account make three Gods: since we know that there is but one God perfect in himself, unbegotten, inoriginate, and invisible, the God and Father of the only-begotten, who alone has existence from himself, and alone affords existence abundantly to all other things. But while we assert that there is one God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the only unbegotten, we do not therefore deny that Christ is God before the ages, as the followers of Paul of Samosata do, who affirm that after his incarnation he was by exaltation deified, in that he was by nature a mere man. We know indeed that he was subject to his God and Father: nevertheless he was begotten of God, and is by nature true and perfect God, and was not afterwards made God out of man; but was for our sake made man out of God, and has never ceased to be God. Moreover we execrate and anathematize those who falsely style him the mere unsubstantial word of God, having existence only in another, either as the word to which utterance is given, or as the word conceived in the mind: and who pretend that before the ages he was neither the Christ, the Son of God, the Mediator, nor the Image of God; but that he became the Christ, and the Son of God, from the time he took our flesh from the virgin, about 400 years ago. For they assert that Christ had the beginning of his kingdom from that time, and that it shall have an end after the consummation of all things and the judgment. Such persons as these are the followers of Marcellus and Photinus, the Ancyro-Galatians, who under pretext of establishing his sovereignty, like the Jews set aside the eternal existence and deity of Christ, and the perpetuity of his kingdom. But we know him to be not simply the word of God by utterance or mental conception, but God the Word living and subsisting of himself; and Son of God and Christ; and who coexisted and was conversant with his Father before the ages not by prescience only, and ministered to him at the creation of all things, whether visible or invisible: but that he is the substantial Word of the Father, and God of God: for this is he to whom the Father said, ‘Let us make man in our image, and according to our likeness:’ who in his own person appeared to the fathers, gave the law, and spake by the prophets; and being at last made man, he manifested his Father to all men, and reigns to endless ages. Christ has not attained any new dignity; but we believe that he was perfect from the beginning, and like his Father in all things. We also deservedly expel from the church those who say that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are the same person, impiously supposing the three names to refer to one and the same thing and person: because by an incarnation they render the Father who is incomprehensible and insusceptible of suffering, subject to comprehension and suffering. These heretics are denominated Patropassians among the Romans, but by us Sabellians. For we know that the Father who sent, remained in the proper nature of his own immutable deity; but that Christ who was sent, has fulfilled the economy of the incarnation. In like manner we regard as most impious and strangers to the truth, those who irreverently affirm that Christ was begotten not by the will and pleasure of his Father; thus attributing to God an involuntary and reluctant necessity, as if he begat the Son by constraint: because they have dared to determine such things respecting him as are inconsistent with our common notions of God, and are contrary indeed to the sense of the divinely-inspired Scripture. For knowing that God is self-dependent and Lord of himself we devoutly maintain that of his own volition and pleasure he begat the Son. And while we reverentially believe what is spoken concerning him (Prov. 8:22): ‘The Lord created me the beginning of his ways on account of his works:’ yet we do not suppose that he was made similarly to the creatures or works made by him. For it is impious and repugnant to the ecclesiastic faith, to compare the Creator with the works created by him; or to imagine that he had the same manner of generation as things of a nature totally different from himself: although the sacred scriptures teach us that the alone only-begotten Son was absolutely and truly begotten. And when we say that the Son is of himself, and lives and subsists in like manner to the Father; we do not therefore separate him from the Father, as if we supposed them dissociated by the intervention of material space. For we believe that they are united without medium or interval, and that they are incapable of separation from each other: the whole Father embosoming the Son; and the whole Son attached to and eternally reposing in the Father’s bosom. Believing therefore in the altogether perfect and most holy Trinity, and asserting that the Father is God, and that the Son also is God, we do not acknowledge two Gods, but one only, on account of the majesty of the Deity, and the perfect* blending and union of the kingdoms: the Father ruling over all things universally,‡ and even over the Son himself; the Son being subject to the Father, but except him, ruling over all things which were made after him and by him; and by the Father’s will bestowing abundantly on the saints the grace of the Holy Spirit. For the sacred oracles inform us that in this consists the character of the sovereignty which Christ exercises.

“We have been under the necessity of giving this more ample exposition of the creed, since the publication of our former epitome; not to gratify a vain ambition, but to clear ourselves from all strange suspicion respecting our faith which may exist among those who are ignorant of our real sentiments. And that the inhabitants of the West may both be aware of the shameless misrepresentations of the heterodox party; and also know the ecclesiastic opinion of the Eastern bishops concerning Christ, confirmed by the unwrested testimony of the divinely-inspired scriptures, among all those of unperverted minds.”








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