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

The fourth kind of impossibility (§49) is now taken into consideration, and it is shown that the Son does nothing that the Father approves not, there being between Them perfect unity of will and power.

64. The Son, moreover,—to consider now our fourth premiss,—is not self-assertive, for He, the Divine Assessor,23912391    Lat. “consiliarius.” Cf. Prov. viii. 29, 30. hath done nought that is not in agreement with His Father’s Will. Further, the Father hath seen the things that the Son made, and pronounced them very good; for so it is written in Genesis: “And God said, Let there be light; and there was light. And God saw the light that it was good.”23922392    Gen. i. 3, 4.

65. Now, did the Father say on that occasion, “Let there be such light as I Myself have made,” or “Let there be light”—light having as yet not existed; or did the Son ask what sort of light the Father made?23932393    Or “what sort of thing He made it to be.” How could the Son ask such a question, being Himself the true Light? S. John i. 9. Nay, the Son made light, according to His own Will, and so far in accordance with the Father’s good pleasure, that He approved. It is of new, original work by the Son that the place speaks.

66. Again, if, as Arian, expositions of the Scriptures make out, it is a discredit to the Son to have made what He saw, whereas the Scriptures present Him as having made what He [before] saw not, and to have given being to things which as yet were not, what should they say of the Father, Who praised that He had seen, as though He could not have foreseen the things that were to be made?

67. The Son, therefore, sees the Father’s work in like manner as the Father sees the Son’s, and the Father praises not the work as one would praise work of another’s doing, but recognizes it as His own, for “whatsoever things the Father hath done, the same doeth the Son, in like manner.” [So was it written, that] you might understand one and the same work to be the work both of the Father and of the Son. And thus the Son does nothing save what is approved of by the Father, praised by the Father, willed by the Father, because His whole Being is of the Father; and He is not as the created being, which commits many faults, ofttimes offending the Will of its Creator, in lusting after and falling into sin. Nought, then, is of the Son’s doing, save what is pleasing to the Father, forasmuch as one Will, one Purpose, is Theirs, one true Love, one effect of action.

68. Furthermore, to prove to you that it comes of Love, that the Son can do nothing of Himself save what He hath seen the Father doing, the Apostle has added to the words, “Whatsoever the Father hath done, the same things doeth the Son also, in like manner,” this reason: “For the Father loveth the Son,” and thus Scripture refers the Son’s inability to do, whereof it testifies, to unity in Love that suffers no separation or disagreement.

69. But if the inseparableness of the Persons in Love rest, as it truly does, upon [identity of] nature, then surely they are also inseparable, for the same reason, in action, and it is impossible that the work of the Son should not be in agreement with the Father’s Will, when what the Son works, the Father works also, and what the Father works, the Son works also, and what the Son speaks, the Father speaks also, as it is written: “My Father, Who dwelleth in Me, He it is that speaketh, and the works that I do He Himself doeth.”23942394    S. John xiv. 10. For the Father appointed nought save by the exercise of His Power and Wisdom, forasmuch as He made all things wisely, as it is written: “In wisdom hast Thou made them all;”23952395    Ps. civ. 24. and likewise, God the Word made nought without the Father’s participation.

70. Not without the Father does He work; not without His Father’s Will did He offer Himself for that most holy Passion, the Victim slain for the salvation of the whole world;23962396    Heb. x. 10–12; S. John iii. 16, 17; i. 29. not without His Father’s Will concurring did He raise the dead to life. For example, when He was at the point to raise Lazarus to life, He lifted up His eyes and said, “Father, I thank Thee, for that Thou hast heard Me. And I knew that Thou dost always hear Me, but for the sake of the multitude that standeth round I spake, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me,”23972397    S. John xi. 40. in order that, though speaking agreeably to His assumed character of man, in the flesh,23982398    Lat. “ex personæ hominis incarnati susceptione.” St. Ambrose does not mean that there were two Persons in Christ—the Divine Logos or Word and the man Jesus. “Persona” is here used in its dramatic rather than its strict theological sense. He might still express His oneness with the Father in will and operation, in that the Father hears all and sees all that the Son wills, and therefore also the Father sees the Son’s doings, hears the utterances of His Will, for the Son made no request, and yet said that He had been heard.

71. Again, we cannot suppose that the Father hears not all, whatsoever the Son’s will resolves; and to show that He is always heard by the Father, not as a servant, not as a prophet, but as Son, He said: “And I knew that Thou dost always hear Me, but for the sake of the multitude which standeth round I spake, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.”

72. It is for our sakes, therefore, that He renders thanks, lest we should suppose that the Father and the Son are one and the same Person, when we hear of one and the same work being wrought by the Father and the Son. Further, to show us that His rendering of thanks had not been the tribute due from one wanting in power, that, on the contrary, He, as Son of God, ever claimed for Himself the possession of divine authority, He cried, “Lazarus, come forth.” Here, surely, is the voice of command, not of prayer.


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