REFUTATION IX. – OF THE MONOTHELITE HERESY, THAT THERE IS BUT ONE NATURE AND ONE OPERATION ONLY IN CHRIST.
- Those heretics who believe that there is only one will in Christ are called Monothelites, and the name is derived from two Greek words, Monos, one, and Thelema, will, and on that account many of the Arians, who asserted that Christ had no soul, but that the Word took the place of it, can be called Monothelites, as may, in like manner, many Apollinarists, who admitted that Christ had a soul, but without mind, and, consequently, without will. The true Monothelites, however, formed them selves into a sect, in the reign of the Emperor Heraclius, about the year 626. The chief author of this sect was Athanasius, Patriarch of the Jacobites, as we remarked in the History (Chap, vii, . 4), and his first followers were the Patriarchs who succeeded him, Sergius, Cirus, Macarius, Pirrus, and Paul. These admitted two Natures in Christ, the Divine and the human, but denied the two wills, and the two operations belonging to each Nature, asserting that he had but one will, that is, the Divine will, and one operation, the Divine one also; this they called Theandric, or belonging to the Man-God, but not in the Catholic sense, in which the operations of Christ in his humanity are called Theandric, as being the operation of the Man-God, and are attributed to the Person of the Word, which sustains and is the term of this humanity, but in a heretical sense, for they believed that the Divine will alone moved the faculties of his human nature, and used them as a mere passive and inanimate instrument. Some of the Monothelites called this operation Deodecibilem, or fitted to God, and this expression gives more clearly the peculiar meaning of their heretical tenets. It was a debated question among the ancients, whether the Moriothelites, by the word ” will,” meant the faculty of wishing, or the act of volition itself. Petavius thinks it most probable (1) that they understood by it, not the act of volition itself, but the power of wishing at all, which they say the humanity of Christ did not possess. The Catholic dogma, however, rejects it in both senses, and teaches that as in Christ there were two Natures, so there were Divine will and volition with the Divine operation, and human will and volition with the human operation.
(1) Petav. l. 8, de Incar. c. 4, et seq.
IT IS PROVED THAT THERE ARE TWO DISTINCT WILLS IN CHRIST, DIVINE AND HUMAN, ACCORDING TO THE TWO NATURES, AND TWO OPERATIONS, ACCORDING TO THE TWO WILLS.
- It is proved, in the first place, by the Scriptures, that Christ has a Divine will, for every text that proves his Divinity, proves that, as the will cannot be separated from the Divinity. We have already quoted all these texts against the Nestorians and Eutychians, so there is no necessity of repeating them here, especially as the Monothelites do not deny the Divine, but only the human will, in Christ. There are, however, numberless texts to prove that our Redeemer had a human will likewise. St. Paul, in his Epistle to the Hebrews (x, 5), applies to Christ the words of the 39th Psalm (ver. 8, 9) : ” Wherefore, when he cometh into the world he said Behold, I come; in the head of the book it is written of me, that I should do the will of God.” In the 39th Psalm, also, we find : ” In the head of the book it is written of me, that I should do thy will, my God; I have desired it, and thy law in the midst of my heart” (ver. 9). Now, here both wills are distinctly marked the Divine, ” that I may do thy will, God ;” and the human will, subject to the Divine will, ” my God, I have desired it.” Christ himself draws the same distinction in many places; thus in John (v, 30), he says : ” I seek not my own will, but the will of him who sent me.” And again : ” I came down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (vi, 38). St. Leo explains this in his Epistle to the Emperor, for he says, that according to the form of a servant, “secundum formam servi,” that is, as man, he came not to do his own will, but the will of him who sent him.
- Christ, who says in St. Matthew (xxvi, 39) : ” My Father, if it is possible, let this chalice pass from me, nevertheless, not as I will, but as thou wilt.” And in St. Mark (xiv, 36) : “Abba, Father, all things are possible to thee, remove this chalice from me, but not what I will, but what thou wilt.” Now, the two texts clearly show the Divine will which Christ had, in common with the Father, and the human will which he subjected to the will of his Father. Hence, St. Athanasius, writing against Apollinares, says : ” Duas voluntates hic ostendit, humanam quidem quæ est carnis, alteram vero Divinam. Humana enim propter carnis imbecillitatem recusat passionem, Divina autem ejus voluntas est promta.” And St. Augustine says (1) : ” In eo quod ait, non quod ego volo, aliud se ostendit voluisse, quam Pater, quod nisi humano corde non potest; nunquam enim posset immutabilis ilia natura quidquam aliud vellc, quam Pater.”
(1) St. Augus. l. 2, Adv. Maximin. c. 20.
- The Catholic dogma is proved also by all those texts in which Christ is said to have obeyed his Father. In St. John, (xii, 49), we read : ” For I have not spoken of myself, but the Father who sent me, he gave me commandment what I should say, and what I should speak.” And again : “As the Father giveth me commandment, so do il” (xiv, 31). And St. Paul, writing to the Philippians, says, “that he was made obedient unto death, even unto the death of the Cross.” Many other texts are of the same tenor. All this proves that there must be a human will, for he who has no will can neither obey nor be commanded. It is most certain that the Divine will cannot be commanded, as it recognizes no will superior to itself. The obedience of Christ, therefore, to his Father, proves that he must have had a human will : ” Qua,” says Pope Agatho, ” a lumine veritatis se adeo separavit, ut audeat dicere, Dominum nostrum Jesum Cristum voluntate suæ Divinitatis Patri obedisse, cui est æqualis in omnibus, et vult ipse quoque in omnibus, quod Pater ?”
- We pass over other Scripture arguments, and come to Tradition; and, first of all, we shall see what the Fathers who lived before the rise of the heresy said on the subject. St. Ambrose says (2) : ” Quod autem ait: Non mea voluntas, sed tua fiat, suam, ad hominem retulit; Patris, ad Divinitatem : voluntas enim hominis, temporalis; voluntas Divinitatis, æterna.” St. Leo, in his Epistle 24 (a. 10, c. 4), to St. Flavian, against Eutyches, thus writes : ” Qui verus est Deus, idem verus est homo; et nullam est in hac unitate mendacium, dum invicem sunt, et humilitas hominis, et altitude Deitatis Agit enim utraque forma cum alterius communione, quod proprium est; Verbo scilicet operante, quod Verbi est, et carne exequente, quod carnis est.” I omit many other authorities from St. Chrysostom, St. Cyril of Alexandria, St. Jerome, and others referred to by Petavius (3). Sophronius compiled two whole books of them against Sergius, as we find from the petition of Stephen Duresius to the Council of Lateran, under Martin I., in 649. It is proved also by the Creeds, in which it is professed that Christ is at the same time true God and true man, perfect in both Natures. If Christ had not human will, one of the natural faculties of the soul, he would not be a perfect man, no more than he would be perfect God, if he had not Divine will.
(2) St. Ambros. l. 20, in Luc. n. 69, &60. (3) Petav. l. 3, de Incarn. c. 8 & 9.
The Councils whose Decrees we have already quoted against Nestorius, have defined that there are two
Natures in Christ, distinct and perfect in all their properties, and that could not be the fact, unless each of the two Natures had its proper natural will and natural operation. A Portuguese writer, Hippolitus, in his Fragments against Vero, from the distinction of the different operations in Christ, argued that there was a distinction of the two Natures, because if there was but one will and one operation in Christ, there would be but one Nature : ” Quæ sunt inter se ejusdem operationis, et cognitionis, et omnino idem patiuntur, nullam naturæ differ entiam recipiunt.”
- All these things being taken into consideration, in the Third General Council of Constantinople, under Pope Agatho, it was thought proper to condemn, in one Decree, (Act. 18), all the heresies against the Incarnation condemned in the five preceding General Councils. Here is the Decree, in the very words : ” Assequti quoque sancta quinque universalia Concilia, et sanctos atque probabiles Patres, consonanterque confiteri definientes, D.N. Jesum Christum verum Deum nostrum, unum de sancta, et consubstantiali, et vitas originem præbente Trinitate, perfectum in Deitate, et perfectum eundem in humanitate, Deum vere, et hominem vere, eundem ex Anima rationali et corpore, consubstantialem Patri secundum Deitatem, et consubstantialem nobis secunduin humanitatem, per omnia similem nobis absque peccato; ante secula quidem ex Patre genitum secundum Deitatem, in ultimis diebus autem eundem propter nos et propter nostram salutem de Spiritu Sancto, et Maria Virgine proprie, et veraciter Dei Genitrice secundum humanitatem, unum eundemque Christum Filium Dei unigenitum in duabus naturis inconfuse, inconvertibiliter, inseparabiliter, indivise cognoscendum, nusquam extincta harum naturarum differentia propter unitatem, salvataque magis proprietate utriusque naturæ, et in unam Personam, et in unam subsistentiam concurrente, non in duas Personas partitam, vel divisam, sed unum eundemque unigenitum Filium Dei, Verbum D. N. Jesum Christum; et duas naturales voluntates in eo, et duas naturales operationes indivise, inconvertibiliter, inseparabiliter, inconfuse secundum Ss. Patrum doctrinam, adcoque prædicamus; et duas naturales voluntates, non contrarias, absit, juxta quod impii asserucrunt Hæretici, sod sequentem ejus humanam voluntatem, et non resistentcin, vel reluctantem, sed potius, et subjectam Divinæ ejus, atque omnipotenti voluntati ….. His igitur cum omni undique cautela, atque diligentia a nobis formatis, definimus aliam Fidem nulli licere profcrre, aut conscribere, compenere, aut fovere, vel etiam aliter docere.”
- The principal proofs from reason alone against this heresy have been already previously given. First Because Christ having a perfect human nature, he must have, besides, a human will, without which his humanity would be imperfect, being deprived of one of its natural powers. Secondly Because Christ obeyed, prayed, merited, and satisfied for us, and all this could not be done without a created human will, for it would be absurd to attribute it to the Divine will. Thirdly We prove it from that principle of St. Gregory of Nazianzen, adopted by the other Fathers, that what the Word assumed he healed, and hence St. John of Damascus (3) concludes that as he healed human will he must have had it : ” Si non assumsit humanam voluntatem, remedium ei non attulit, quod primum sauciatum erat; quod enim assumtum non est, nec est curatum, ut ait Gregorius Theologus. Ecquid enim offenderat, nisi voluntas ?”
(3) St. Joan. Damas. Ora. de duab. Chris. Volunt,