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NPNF2-10. Ambrose: Selected Works and Letters
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Chapter XIV.

That the Son of God is not a created being is proved by the following arguments: (1) That He commanded not that the Gospel should be preached to Himself; (2) that a created being is given over unto vanity; (3) that the Son has created all things; (4) that we read of Him as begotten; and (5) that the difference of generation and adoption has always been understood in those places where both natures—the divine and the human—are declared to co-exist in Him. All of which testimony is confirmed by the Apostle’s interpretation.

86. It is now made plain, as I believe, your sacred Majesty, that the Lord Jesus is neither unlike the Father, nor one that began to exist in course of time. We have yet to confute another blasphemy, and to show that the Son of God is not a created being. Herein is the quickening18281828    præsens. Cf. Acts vii. 38—“lively oracles.” word that we read as our help, for we have heard the passage read where the Lord saith: “Go ye into all the world, and preach the Gospel to all creation.”18291829    S. Mark xvi. 15. He Who saith “all creation” excepts nothing. How, then, do they stand who call Christ a “creature”? If He were a creature, could He have commanded that the Gospel should be preached to Himself? It is not, therefore, a creature, but the Creator, Who commits to His disciples the work of teaching created beings.

87. Christ, then, is no created being; for “created beings are,” as the Apostle hath said, “given over to vanity.”18301830    Rom. viii. 20. Is Christ given over unto vanity? Again, “creation”—according to the same Apostle—“groans and travails together even until now.” What, then? Doth Christ take any part in this groaning and travailing—He Who hath set us miserable mourners free from death? “Creation,” saith the Apostle, “shall be set free from the slavery of corruption.”18311831    Rom. viii. 21–22. We see, then, that between creation and its Lord there is a vast difference, for creation is enslaved, but “the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.”18321832    2 Cor. iii. 17.

88. Who was it that led first into this error, of declaring Him Who created and made all things to be a creature? Did the Lord, I would ask, create Himself? We read that “all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.”18331833    S. John i. 3. This being so, did He make Himself? We read—and who shall deny?—that in wisdom hath God made all things.18341834    Ps. civ. 24. If so, how can we suppose that wisdom was made in itself?

89. We read that the Son is begotten, inasmuch as the Father saith: “I brought thee forth from the womb before the morning star.”18351835    Ps. cx. 3. We read of the “first-born” Son,18361836    Col. i. 15. of the “only-begotten”18371837    S. John i. 14.—first-born, because there is none before Him; only-begotten, because there is none after Him. Again, we read: “Who shall declare His generation?”18381838    Is. liii. 8. “Generation,” mark you, not “creation.” What argument can be brought to meet testimonies so great and mighty as these?

90. Moreover, God’s Son discovers the difference between generation and grace when He says: “I go up to My Father and your Father, to My God and your God.”18391839    S. John xx. 17. The “grace” of which St. Ambrose speaks is the grace of adoption. Jesus Christ is the Son of God φύσει, we are sons υἱοθεσίᾳ “by adoption.” He did not say, “I go up to our Father,” but “I go up to My Father and your Father.” This distinction is the sign of a difference, inasmuch as He Who is Christ’s Father is our Creator.

91. Furthermore He said, “to My God and your God,” because although He and the Father are One, and the Father is His Father by possession of the same nature, whilst God began to be our Father through the office of the Son, not by virtue of nature, but of grace—still He seems to point us here to the existence in Christ of both natures, Godhead and Manhood,—Godhead of His Father, Manhood of His Mother, the former being before all things, the latter derived from the Virgin. For the first, speaking as the Son, He called God His Father, and afterward, speaking as man, named Him as God.

92. Everywhere, indeed, we have witness in the Scriptures to show that Christ, in naming God as His God, does so as man. “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”18401840    Ps. xxii. 1. Cf. S. Matt. xxvii. 46; S. Mark xv. 24. And again: “From My mother’s womb Thou art My God.”18411841    Ps. xxii. 11. In the former place He suffers as a man; in the latter it is a man who is brought forth from his mother’s womb. And so when He says, “From My mother’s womb Thou art My God,” He means that He Who was always His Father is His God from the moment when He was brought forth from His Mother’s womb.

93. Seeing, then, that we read in the Gospel, in the Apostle, in the Prophets, of Christ as begotten, how dare the Arians to say that He was created or made? But, indeed, they ought to have bethought them, where they have read of Him as created, where as made. For it has been plainly shown that the Son of God is begotten of God, born of God—let them, then, consider with care where they have read that He was made, seeing that He was not made God, but born as God, the Son of God; afterward, however, He was, according to the flesh, made man of Mary.

94. “But when the fulness of time was come, God sent His Son, made of a woman, made under the Law.”18421842    Gal. iv. 4.
   Note on Gal. iv. 4, cited in § 94.—St. Ambrose has factum where St. Paul originally wrote γενόμενον, rendered “born” in the A.V. St. Paul designedly, perhaps, wrote γενόμενον, not γεννηθέντα, the more usual word for “born.” For γίγνεσθαι is used to denote other modes of beginning to exist, besides that in which animals are brought into life; it is used of inanimate, as well as animate existence—e.g., Mark iv. 37: “There ariseth (γίνεται) a great storm of wind;” and thus we get the impersonal εγένετο, “it came to pass,” simply signifying an order of events. The import, then, of the words factum ex muliere, γενόμενον ἐκ γνναικός, is that Christ, in being born in human form, “in the likeness of men,” subjected Himself to the limits of human existence, “came into being,” that is, in the sensual world. This was his self-emptying (Phil. ii. 7). Jesus, the man, the human person was made—“made man” (Nicene Creed)—was made “man of the substance of His mother” (Athanas. Creed); but by this “making,” St. Ambrose points out, we must understand no more than the taking on of fleshly form. The Son, on the other hand, Who is God, never began to exist, as He will never cease; and even if He had not existed from eternity, He must have been pre-existent, in order to assume a fleshly form so that, in any case, birth of the Virgin does not affect His pre-existence as Son of God, whilst to say that He was ever “made” is to confound that birth with the Son’s generation of the Father, eternity with time, the divine with the human order, the self-existent with the created.
His Son,” observe, not as one of many, not as His in common with another, but His own, and in saying “His Son,” the Apostle showed that it is of the Son’s nature that His generation is eternal. Him the Apostle has affirmed to have been afterwards “made” of a woman, in order that the making might be understood not of the Godhead, but of the putting on of a body—“made of a woman,” then, by taking on of flesh; “made under the Law” through observance of the Law. Howbeit, the former, the spiritual generation is before the Law was, the latter is after the Law.


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