Table of Contents
Examination of the meaning of 'subjection:' in that he says that the nature of the Holy Spirit is subject to that of the Father and the Son. It is shewn that the Holy Spirit is of an equal, not inferior, rank to the Father and the Son.
It will not do to apply this conception, as drawn out above, of the Father and Son to the Creation, as they insist on doing: but we must contemplate the Son apart with the Father, and believe that the Creation had its origin from a definite point.
The second book declares the Incarnation of God the Word, and the faith delivered by the Lord to His disciples, and asserts that the heretics who endeavour to overthrow this faith and devise other additional names are of their father the devil.
Gregory proceeds to discuss the relative force of the unnameable name of the Holy Trinity and the mutual relation of the Persons, and moreover the unknowable character of the essence, and the condescension on His part towards us, His generation of the Virgin, and His second coming, the resurrection from the dead and future retribution.
Gregory further shows that the Only-Begotten being begotten not only of the Father, but also impassibly of the Virgin by the Holy Ghost, does not divide the substance; seeing that neither is the nature of men divided or severed from the parents by being begotten, as is ingeniously demonstrated from the instances of Adam and Abraham.
Gregory again discusses the generation of the Only-Begotten, and other different modes of generation, material and immaterial, and nobly demonstrates that the Son is the brightness of the Divine glory, and not a creature.
He explains the phrase “The Lord created Me,” and the argument about the origination of the Son, the deceptive character of Eunomius' reasoning, and the passage which says, “My glory will I not give to another,” examining them from different points of view.
After expounding the high estate of the Almighty, the Eternity of the Son, and the phrase “being made obedient,” he shows the folly of Eunomius in his assertion that the Son did not acquire His sonship by obedience.
He expounds the passage of the Gospel, “The Father judgeth no man,” and further speaks of the assumption of man with body and soul wrought by the Lord, of the transgression of Adam, and of death and the resurrection of the dead.
He proceeds to discuss the views held by Eunomius, and by the Church, touching the Holy Spirit; and to show that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are not three Gods, but one God. He also discusses different senses of “Subjection,” and therein shows that the subjection of all things to the Son is the same as the subjection of the Son to the Father.
Lastly he displays at length the folly of Eunomius, who at times speaks of the Holy Spirit as created, and as the fairest work of the Son, and at other times confesses, by the operations attributed to Him, that He is God, and thus ends the book.
This third book shows a third fall of Eunomius, as refuting himself, and sometimes saying that the Son is to be called Only-begotten in virtue of natural generation, and that Holy Scripture proves this from the first; at other times, that by reason of His being created He should not be called a Son, but a “product,” or “creature.”
He thus shows the oneness of the Eternal Son with the Father the identity of essence and the community of nature (wherein is a natural inquiry into the production of wine), and that the terms “Son” and “product” in the naming of the Only-Begotten include a like idea of relationship.
The fourth book discusses the account of the nature of the “product of generation,” and of the passionless generation of the Only-Begotten, and the text, “In the beginning was the Word,” and the birth of the Virgin.
He proceeds again to discuss the impassibility of the Lord's generation; and the folly of Eunomius, who says that the generated essence involves the appellation of Son, and again, forgetting this, denies the relation of the Son to the Father: and herein he speaks of Circe and of the mandrake poison.
He again shows Eunomius, constrained by truth, in the character of an advocate of the orthodox doctrine, confessing as most proper and primary, not only the essence of the Father, but the essence also of the Only-begotten.
He then exposes argument about the “Generate,” and the “product of making,” and “product of creation,” and shows the impious nature of the language of Eunomius and Theognostus on the “immediate” and “undivided” character of the essence, and its “relation to its creator and maker.”
He then clearly and skilfully criticises the doctrine of the impossibility of comparison with the things made after the Son, and exposes the idolatry contrived by Eunomius, and concealed by the terminology of “Son” and “Only-begotten,” to deceive his readers.
He proceeds to show that there is no “variance” in the essence of the Father and the Son: wherein he expounds many forms of variation and harmony, and explains the “form,” the “seal,” and the “express image.”
Then, distinguishing between essence and generation, he declares the empty and frivolous language of Eunomius to be like a rattle. He proceeds to show that the language used by the great Basil on the subject of the generation of the Only-begotten has been grievously slandered by Eunomius, and so ends the book.
The fifth book promises to speak of the words contained in the saying of the Apostle Peter, but delays their exposition. He discourses first of the creation, to the effect that, while nothing therein is deserving of worship, yet men, led astray by their ill-informed and feeble intelligence, and marvelling at its beauty, deified the several parts of the universe. And herein he excellently expounds the passage of Isaiah, “I am God, the first.”
He then explains the phrase of S. Peter, “Him God made Lord and Christ.” And herein he sets forth the opposing statement of Eunomius, which he made on account of such phrase against S. Basil, and his lurking revilings and insults.
A remarkable and original reply to these utterances, and a demonstration of the power of the Crucified, and of the fact that this subjection was of the Human Nature, not that which the Only-Begotten has from the Father. Also an explanation of the figure of the Cross, and of the appellation “Christ,” and an account of the good gifts bestowed on the Human Nature by the Godhead which was commingled with it.
He shows the falsehood of Eunomius' calumnious charge that the great Basil had said that “man was emptied to become man,” and demonstrates that the “emptying” of the Only-begotten took place with a view to the restoration to life of the Man Who had suffered.
Thereafter he shows that there are not two Christs or two Lords, but one Christ and one Lord, and that the Divine nature, after mingling with the Human, preserved the properties of each nature without confusion, and declares that the operations are, by reason of the union, predicated of the two natures in common, in the sense that the Lord took upon Himself the sufferings of the servant, and the humanity is glorified with Him in the honour that is the Lord's, and that by the power of the Divine Nature that is made anew, conformably with that Divine Nature Itself.
The sixth book shows that He Who came for man's salvation was not a mere man, as Eunomius, falsely slandering him, affirmed that the great Basil had said, but the Only-begotten Son of God, putting on human flesh, and becoming a mediator between God and man, on Whom we believe, as subject to suffering in the flesh, but impassible in His Godhead; and demonstrates the calumny of Eunomius.
Then he again mentions S. Peter's word, “made,” and the passage in the Epistle to the Hebrews, which says that Jesus was made by God “an Apostle and High Priest”: and, after giving a sufficient answer to the charges brought against him by Eunomius, shows that Eunomius himself supports Basil's arguments, and says that the Only-begotten Son, when He had put on the flesh, became Lord.
He then gives a notable explanation of the saying of the Lord to Philip, “He that hath seen Me hath seen the Father;” and herein he excellently discusses the suffering of the Lord in His love to man, and the impassibility, creative power, and providence of the Father, and the composite nature of men, and their resolution into the elements of which they were composed.
Then returning to the words of Peter, “God made Him Lord and Christ,” he skilfully explains it by many arguments, and herein shows Eunomius as an advocate of the orthodox doctrine, and concludes the book by showing that the Divine and Human names are applied, by reason of the commixture, to either Nature.
The seventh book shows from various statements made to the Corinthians and to the Hebrews, and from the words of the Lord, that the word “Lord” is not expressive of essence, according to Eunomius' exposition, but of dignity. and after many notable remarks concerning “the Spirit” and the Lord, he shows that Eunomius, from his own words, is found to argue in favour of orthodoxy, though without intending it, and to be struck by his own shafts.
He then declares that the close relation between names and things is immutable, and thereafter proceeds accordingly, in the most excellent manner, with his discourse concerning “generated” and “ungenerate.”
Thereafter he discusses the divergence of names and of things, speaking, of that which is ungenerate as without a cause, and of that which is non-existent, as the Scindapsus, Minotaur, Blityri, Cyclops, Scylla, which never were generated at all, and shows that things which are essentially different, are mutually destructive, as fire of water, and the rest in their several relations. But in the case of the Father and the Son, as the essence is common, and the properties reciprocally interchangeable, no injury results to the Nature.
He says that all things that are in creation have been named by man, if, as is the case, they are called differently by every nation, as also the appellation of “Ungenerate” is conferred by us: but that the proper appellation of the Divine essence itself which expresses the Divine Nature, either does not exist at all, or is unknown to us.
After much discourse concerning the actually existent, and ungenerate and good, and upon the consubstantiality of the heavenly powers, showing the uncharted character of their essence, yet the difference of their ranks, he ends the book.
The eighth book very notably overthrows the blasphemy of the heretics who say that the Only-begotten came from nothing, and that there was a time when He was not, and shows the Son to be no new being, but from everlasting, from His having said to Moses, “I am He that is,” and to Manoah, “Why askest thou My name? It also is wonderful”;--moreover David also says to God, “Thou art the same, and Thy years shall not fail;” and furthermore Isaiah says, “I am God, the first, and hereafter am I:” and the Evangelist, “He was in the beginning, and was with God, and was God:”--and that He has neither beginning nor end: --and he proves that those who say that He is new and comes from nothing are idolaters. And herein he very finely interprets “the brightness of the glory, and the express image of the Person.”
He then discusses the “willing” of the Father concerning the generation of the Son, and shows that the object of that good will is from eternity, which is the Son, existing in the Father, and being closely related to the process of willing, as the ray to the flame, or the act of seeing to the eye.
Then, thus passing over what relates to the essence of the Son as having been already discussed, he treats of the sense involved in “generation,” saying that there are diverse generations, those effected by matter and art, and of buildings,--and that by succession of animals,--and those by efflux, as by the sun and its beam. The lamp and its radiance, scents and ointments and the quality diffused by them,--and the word produced by the mind; and cleverly discusses generation from rotten wood; and from the condensation of fire, and countless other causes.
He further shows the operations of God to be expressed by human illustrations; for what hands and feet and the other parts of the body with which men work are, that, in the case of God, the will alone is, in place of these. And so also arises the divergence of generation; wherefore He is called Only-begotten, because He has no community with other generation such as is observed in creation, but in that He is called the “brightness of glory,” and the “savour of ointment,” He shows the close conjunction and co-eternity of His Nature with the Father.
Then, after showing that the Person of the Only-begotten and Maker of things has no beginning, as have the things that were made by Him, as Eunomius says, but that the Only-begotten is without beginning and eternal, and has no community, either of essence or of names, with the creation, but is co-existent with the Father from everlasting, being, as the all-excellent Wisdom says, “the beginning and end and midst of the times,” and after making many observations on the Godhead and eternity of the Only-begotten, and also concerning souls and angels, and life and death, he concludes the book.
The ninth book declares that Eunomius' account of the Nature of God is, up to a certain point, well stated. Then in succession he mixes up with his own argument, on account of its affinity, the expression from Philo's writings, “God is before all other things, which are generated,” adding also the expression, “He has dominion over His own power.” Detesting the excessive absurdity, Gregory strikingly confutes it.
He then ingeniously shows that the generation of the Son is not according to the phrase of Eunomius, “The Father begat Him at that time when He chose, and not before:” but that the Son, being the fulness of all that is good and excellent, is always contemplated in the Father; using for this demonstration the support of Eunomius' own arguments.
He further shows that the pretemporal generation of the Son is not the subject of influences drawn from ordinary and carnal generation, but is without beginning and without end, and not according to the fabrications constructed by Eunomius, in ignorance of His power, from the statements of Plato concerning the soul and from the sabbath rest of the Hebrews.
Then, having shown that Eunomius' calumny against the great Basil, that he called the Only-begotten “Ungenerate,” is false, and having again with much ingenuity discussed the eternity, being, and endlessness of the Only-begotten, and the creation of light and of darkness, he concludes the book.
The tenth book discusses the unattainable and incomprehensible character of the enquiry into entities. And herein he strikingly sets forth the points concerning the nature and formation of the ant, and the passage in the Gospel, “I am the door” and “the way,” and also discusses the attribution and interpretation of the Divine names, and the episode of the children of Benjamin.
He then wonderfully displays the Eternal Life, which is Christ, to those who confess Him not, and applies to them the mournful lamentation of Jeremiah over Jehoiakim, as being closely allied to Montanus and Sabellius.
After this he shows that the Son, who truly is, and is in the bosom of the Father, is simple and uncompounded, and that, He Who redeemed us from bondage is not under dominion of the Father, nor in a state of slavery: and that otherwise not He alone, but also the Father Who is in the Son and is One with Him, must be a slave; and that the word “being” is formed from the word to “be.” And having excellently and notably discussed all these matters, he concludes the book.
The eleventh book shows that the title of “Good” is due, not to the Father alone, as Eunomius, the imitator of Manichæus and Bardesanes, alleges, but to the Son also, Who formed man in goodness and loving-kindness, and reformed him by His Cross and Death.
He also ingeniously shows from the passage of the Gospel which speaks of “Good Master,” from the parable of the Vineyard, from Isaiah and from Paul, that there is not a dualism in the Godhead of good and evil, as Eunomius' ally Marcion supposes, and declares that the Son does not refuse the title of “good” or “Existent,” or acknowledge His alienation from the Father, but that to Him also belongs authority over all things that come into being.
He then exposes the ignorance of Eunomius, and the incoherence and absurdity of his arguments, in speaking of the Son as “the Angel of the Existent,” and as being as much below the Divine Nature as the Son is superior to the things created by Himself. And in this connection there is a noble and forcible counter-statement and an indignant refutation, showing that He Who gave the oracles to Moses is Himself the Existent, the Only-begotten Son, Who to the petition of Moses, “If Thou Thyself goest not with us, carry me not up hence,” said, “I will do this also that thou hast said”; Who is also called “Angel” both by Moses and Isaiah: wherein is cited the text, “Unto us a Child is born.”
After this, fearing to extend his reply to great length, he passes by most of his adversary's statements as already refuted. But the remainder, for the sake of those who deem them of much force, he briefly summarizes, and refutes the blasphemy of Eunomius, who says of the Lord also that He is what animals and plants in all creation are, non-existent before their own generation; and so with the production of frogs; alas for the blasphemy!
Eunomius again speaks of the Son as Lord and God, and Maker of all creation intelligible and sensible, having received from the Father the power and the commission for creation, being entrusted with the task of creation as if He were an artizan commissioned by some one hiring Him, and receiving His power of creation as a thing adventitious, ab extra, as a result of the power allotted to Him in accordance with such and such combinations and positions of the stars, as destiny decrees their lot in life to men at their nativity. Thus, passing by most of what Eunomius had written, he confutes his blasphemy that the Maker of all things came into being in like manner with the earth and with angels, and that the subsistence of the Only-begotten differs not at all from the genesis of all things, and reproaches Him with reverencing neither the Divine mystery nor the custom of the Church, nor following in his attempt to discover godliness any teacher of pious doctrine, but Manichæus, Colluthus, Arius, Aetius, and those like to them, supposing that Christianity in general is folly, and that the customs of the Church and the venerable sacraments are a jest, wherein he differs in nothing from the pagans, who borrowed from our doctrine the idea of a great God supreme over all. So, too, this new idolater preaches in the same fashion, and in particular that baptism is “into an artificer and creator,” not fearing the curse of those who cause addition or diminution to the Holy Scriptures. And he closes his book with showing him to be Antichrist.
Then referring to the blasphemy of Eunomius, which had been refuted by the great Basil, where he banished the Only-begotten God to the realm of darkness, and the apology or explanation which Eunomius puts forth for his blasphemy, he shows that his present blasphemy is rendered by his apology worse than his previous one; and herein he very ably discourses of the “true” and the “unapproachable” Light.
He further proceeds notably to interpret the language of the Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word,” and “Life” and “Light,” and “The Word was made flesh,” which had been misinterpreted by Eunomius; and overthrows his blasphemy, and shows that the dispensation of the Lord took place by loving-kindness, not by lack of power, and with the co-operation of the Father.
He then again charges Eunomius with having learnt his term ἀγεννησία from the hieroglyphic writings, and from the Egyptian mythology and idolatry, and with bringing in Anubis, Osiris, and Isis to the creed of Christians, and shows that, considered as admitting His sufferings of necessity and not voluntarily, the Only-begotten is entitled to no gratitude from men: and that fire has none for its warmth, nor water for its fluidity, as they do not refer their results to self-determining power, but to necessity of nature.
Then, again discussing the true Light and unapproachable Light of the Father and of the Son, special attributes, community and essence, and showing the relation of “generate” and “ungenerate,” as involving no opposition in sense, but presenting an opposition and contradiction admitting of no middle term, he ends the book.
An examination of the question where the ruling principle is to be considered to reside; wherein also is a discussion of tears and laughter, and a physiological speculation as to the inter-relation of matter, nature, and mind.
That the soul proper, in fact and name, is the rational soul, while the others are called so equivocally; wherein also is this statement, that the power of the mind extends throughout the whole body in fitting contact with every part.
A contemplation of the Divine utterance which said--“Let us make man after our image and likeness”; wherein is examined what is the definition of the image, and how the passible and mortal is like to the Blessed and Impassible, and how in the image there are male and female, seeing these are not in the prototype.