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

The resolution of the difficulty set forth for consideration is again taken in hand. Christ truly and really took upon Him a human will and affections, the source of whatsoever was not in agreement with His Godhead, and which must be therefore referred to the fact that He was at the same time both God and man.

52. There is, therefore, unity of will where there is unity of working; for in God His will issues straightway in actual effect. But the will of God is one, and the human will another. Further, to show that life is the object of human will, because we fear death, whilst the passion of Christ depended on the Divine Will, that He should suffer for us, the Lord said, when Peter would have detained Him from suffering: “Thou savourest not of the things which be of God, but the things which be of men.”19701970    S. Matt. xvi. 23.

53. My will, therefore, He took to Himself, my grief. In confidence I call it grief, because I preach His Cross. Mine is the will which He called His own, for as man He bore my grief, as man He spake, and therefore said, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Mine was the grief, and mine the heaviness with which He bore it, for no man exults when at the point to die. With me and for me He suffers, for me He is sad, for me He is heavy. In my stead, therefore, and in me He grieved Who had no cause to grieve for Himself.

54. Not Thy wounds, but mine, hurt Thee, Lord Jesus; not Thy death, but our weakness, even as the Prophet saith: “For He is afflicted for our sakes”19711971    Isa. liii. 4.—and we, Lord, esteemed Thee afflicted, when Thou grievedst not for Thyself, but for me.

55. And what wonder if He grieved for all, Who wept for one? What wonder if, in the hour of death, He is heavy for all, Who wept when at the point to raise Lazarus from the dead? Then, indeed, He was moved by a loving sister’s tears, for they touched His human heart,—here by secret grief He brought it to pass that, even as His death made an end of death, and His stripes healed our scars, so also His sorrow took away our sorrow.19721972    It is a very beautiful doctrine of the Fathers that Christ submitted to the conditions and experiences of our life in order to restore and sanctify and endue them with the virtue of His merits. Hence Thomassini, after the Fathers, thus discourses in his treatise on the Incarnation: “The Fathers have been careful to attribute to the Word of God” (incarnate) “not only the physical parts—body and soul—but even the smallest and most particular things: grief, fear, tears; and all the emotions: conception, birth, babyhood; all the stages of life and growth: hunger, thirst, fatigue, and sadness, in order that a remedy might be applied at every place where sin had crept in, and that, as death had corrupted all, so upon all might the water of life be sprinkled.” Gregory of Nazianzus strikingly observes (Or. 37): “Perchance indeed He sleeps, in order to bless sleep: perchance, again, He is weary, in order to sanctify weariness: and perchance weeps, to give dignity to tears.” Hurter ad loc., who also cites Cyril of Alexandria on S. John xii. 27—“You will find each and every human experience duly represented in Christ, and that the affections of the flesh were called out into energy, not that, as in us, they might gain the upper hand, but that, by the might of the Word dwelling in flesh, they might be tamed and kept within bounds, and our nature transformed into a better state.”

56. As being man, therefore, He doubts; as man He is amazed. Neither His power nor His Godhead is amazed, but His soul; He is amazed by consequence of having taken human infirmity upon Him. Seeing, then, that He took upon Himself a soul He also took the affections of a soul,19731973    Such as Aristotle enumerates in the Ethics, II. ch. 4 (5). for God could not have been distressed or have died in respect of His being God. Finally, He cried: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”19741974    Ps. xxii. 1; S. Matt. xxviii. 46; S. Mark xv. 34. As being man, therefore, He speaks, bearing with Him my terrors, for when we are in the midst of dangers we think ourself abandoned by God. As man, therefore, He is distressed, as man He weeps, as man He is crucified.

57. For so hath the Apostle Paul likewise said: “Because they have crucified the flesh of Christ.”19751975    Gal. v. 24. (St. Ambrose has made a curious use of this text). And again the Apostle Peter saith: “Christ having suffered according to the flesh.”19761976    1 Pet. iv. 1. It was the flesh, therefore, that suffered; the Godhead above secure from death; to suffering His body yielded, after the law of human nature; can the Godhead die, then, if the soul cannot? “Fear not them,” said our Lord, “which can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”19771977    S. Matt. x. 28. If the soul, then, cannot be killed, how can the Godhead?

58. When we read, then, that the Lord of glory was crucified, let us not suppose that He was crucified as in His glory.19781978    1 Cor. ii. 8. It is because He Who is God is also man, God by virtue of His Divinity, and by taking upon Him of the flesh, the man Christ Jesus, that the Lord of glory is said to have been crucified; for, possessing both natures, that is, the human and the divine, He endured the Passion in His humanity, in order that without distinction He Who suffered should be called both Lord of glory and Son of man, even as it is written: “Who descended from heaven.”19791979    S. John iii. 13.


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