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NPNF-211. Sulpitius Severus, Vincent of Lerins, John Cassian
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Chapter III.

He replies to the cavil that the one who is born must be of one substance with the one who bears.

The second blasphemous slander or slanderous blasphemy of your heresy is when you say that the one who is born must be of one substance with the one who bears. It is not very different from the previous one, for it differs from it in terms rather than in fact and reality. For when we are treating of the birth of God, you maintain that one of greater power could not be born of Mary just as above you maintain than one older could not be begotten. And so you may take it that the same answer may be given to this as to what you said before: or you may conceive that the answer given to this assertion, which you are now making, applies to that also. You say then that the one who is born must be of one substance with the one who bears. If this refers to earthly creatures, it is most certainly the case. But if it refers to the birth of God, why in the case of His birth do you regard precedents from nature? for appointments are subject to Him who appointed them, and not the appointer to His appointments. But would you like to know more fully how these slanders of yours are not only wicked but foolish, and the idle talk of one who does not in the least see the omnipotence of God? Tell me, I pray, you who think that like things can only be produced from like things, whence was the origin of that unaccountable host of quails in the wilderness of old time to feed the children of Israel, for nowhere do we read that they had been previously born of mother birds, but that they were brought up and came suddenly. Again whence came that heavenly food which for forty years fell on the camp of the Hebrews? Did manna produce manna? But these refer to ancient miracles. And what of more recent ones? With a few loaves and small fishes the Lord Jesus Christ fed countless hosts of the people that followed Him, and not once only. The reason that they were satisfied lay not in the food: for a secret and unseen cause satisfied the hungry folk, especially as there was much more left when they were filled than there had been set before them when they were hungry. And how was all this brought about that when those who ate were satisfied, the food itself was multiplied by an extraordinary increase? We read that in Galilee wine was produced from water. Tell me how what was of one nature produced something of an altogether different substance from its own quality? Especially when (which exactly applies to the birth of the Lord) it was the production of a nobler substance from what was inferior to it? Tell me then how from mere water there could be produced rich and splendid wine? How was it that one thing was drawn out, another poured in? Was the cistern a well of such a nature as to change the water drawn from it into the best wine? Or did the character of the vessels or the diligence of the servants effect this? Most certainly neither of these. And how is it that the manner of the fact is not understood by the thoughts of the heart, though the truth of the fact is firmly held by the conscience? In the gospel clay was placed on the eyes of a blind man and when it was washed off26022602    Abluto eo (Petschenig): Ab luto eo (Gazæus). eyes were produced. Had water the power of giving birth to eyes, or clay of creating light? Certainly not, especially as water could be of no use to a blind man, and clay would actually hinder the sight of those who could see. And how was it that a thing that itself in its own nature was injurious, became the means of restoring health; and that what was ordinarily hurtful to sound people, was then made the instrument of healing? You say that the power of God brought it about, and the remedy of God caused it, and that all these things of which we have been speaking were simply brought about by Divine Omnipotence; which is able to fashion new things from unwonted material, and to make serviceable things out of their opposites, and to change what belongs to the realm of things impossible and impracticable into possibilities and actual performances.


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