II- THE DIVINITY OF THE WORD PROVED BY THE AUTHORITY OF HOLY FATHERS AND COUNCILS.

 

23. The unceasing opposition of the Arians to the Council of Nice was on account of the Consubstantiality attributed to the Word. This term, consubstantiality, was never used, they said, by the ancient Fathers of the Church; but St. Athanasius, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Hilary, and St. Augustine, attest that the Nicene Fathers took this word from the constant tradition of the first Doctors of the Church. Besides, the learned remark, that many works of the Fathers cited by St. Athanasius, St. Basil, and even by Eusebius, were lost, through the lapse of ages. We should also remember that the ancient Fathers who wrote previous to the existence of heresy, did not always write with the same caution as the Fathers who succeeded them, when the truths of the Faith were confirmed by the decrees of Councils. The doubts stirred up by our enemies, says St. Augustine, have caused us to investigate more closely, and to establish the dogmas which we are bound to believe. ” Ab adversario mota quasstio discendi existit occasio”(l). The Socinians do not deny that all the Fathers posterior to the Council of Nice, held the sentence of that Council, in admitting the consubstantiality of the Son with the Father, but they say that those who wrote previous to the Council, held quite another opinion.

 

(1) St. Aug. l. 16, de Civ. c. 2.

 

In order, therefore, to prove that the Socinians in this are totally astray, we will confine our quotations to the works of the Fathers who preceded the Council, who, if they have not made use of the very word consubstantial, or of the same substance as the Father, have still clearly expressed the same thing in equivalent terms.

 

24. The Martyr St. Ignatius, the successor of St. Peter in the See of Antioch, who died in the year 108, attests, in several places, the Divinity of Christ. In his Epistle ad Trallianos, he writes : ” Who was truly born of God and the Virgin, but not in the same manner ;” and afterwards : ” The true God, the Word born of the Virgin, he who in himself contains all mankind, was truly begotten in the womb.” Again, in his Epistle to the Ephesians : ” There is one carnal and spiritual physician, made and not made, God in man, true life in death, and both from Mary and from God ;” and again, in his Epistle to the Magnesians : “Jesus Christ, who was with the Father before all ages, at length appeared,” and, immediately after, he says : ” There is but one God, who made himself manifest by Jesus Christ, his Son, who is his eternal Word.”

 

25. St. Polycarp was a disciple of St. John, and Bishop of Smyrna; he lived in the year 167. Eusebius (2) quotes a celebrated Epistle written by the Church of Smyrna to that of Pontus, giving an account of his martyrdom, and in it we read, that just before his death he thus expressed himself; ” Wherefore in all things I praise Thee, I bless Thee, I glorify Thee, by the eternal Pontiff, Jesus Christ, thy beloved Son, through whom, to Thee, with him, in the Holy Ghost, be glory, now and for ever more. Amen.” First, therefore, St. Polycarp calls Christ the eternal Pontiff, but nothing but God alone is eternal. Second He glorifies the Son, together with the Father, giving him equal glory, which he would not have done unless he believed that the Son was God equal to the Father. In his letter to the Philippians he ascribes equally to the Son and to the Father the power of giving grace and salvation. ” May God the Father,” he says, ” and Jesus Christ, sanctify you in faith and truth and give you lot and part among his Saints.”

 

(2) Euseb. His. l. 4, c. 13.

 

26. St. Justin, the Philosopher and Martyr, who died about the year 161, clearly speaks of the Divinity of Christ. He says in his first Apology : ” Christ, the Son of God the Father, who alone is properly called his Son and his Word, because with Him before all creatures he existed and is begotten.” Mark how the Saint calls Christ properly the Son and the Word, existing with the Father before all creatures, and generated by him; the Word, therefore, is the proper Son of God, existing with the Father before all creatures, and is not, therefore, a creature himself. In his second Apology he says : ” When the Word is the first-born of God, he is also God.” In his Dialogue with Triphon, he proves that Christ in the Old Testament was called the Lord of Hosts, the God of Israel, and he then concludes by addressing the Jews : ” If,” says he, ” you understood the prophets, you would not deny that he is God, the Son of the only and self-existing God.” I omit many other passages of the same tenor, and I pass on to answer the objections of the Socinians. St. Justin, they say, in his Dialogue with Triphon, and in his Apology, asserts that the Father is the cause of the Word, and existed before the Word. To this we answer : the Father is called the cause of the Son, not as creator, but as generator, and the Father is said to be before the Son, not in time, but in origin, and, therefore, some Fathers have called the Father the cause of the Son, as being the principle of the Son. They also object that St. Justin calls the Son the Minister of God” Administrum esse Deo.” We reply he is God’s Minister as man, that is, according to human nature. They make many other captious objections of this sort, which are refuted in Juenin’s Theology (3), but the few words of the Saint already quoted : ” Cum verbuni Deus etiam est” when the Word is also God, are quite enough to answer them all.     

 

27. St. Iræneus, a disciple of St. Polycarp, and Bishop of Lyons, who died in the beginning of the second century, says (4) that the Son is true God, like the Father. ” Neither,” he says, ” the Lord (the Father) nor the Holy Ghost would have absolutely called him God, if he was not true God.” And again (5), he says, ” the Father is the measure, and he is infinite, and the Son containing him must be infinite likewise.”

 

(3) Juenin, Theol. t. 3, c. 1, s. 1. (4) St. Iræn, ad Hær. l. 3 c 6 (5) Idem, l. 4, r. 8.

 

They object that St. Iræneus has said that the day of judgment is known to the Father alone, and that the Father is greater than the Son; but this has been already answered (vide n. 10); and again, in another place, where the Saint says, ” Christ, with the Father, is the God of the living” (6).

 

28. Athenagoras, a Christian Philosopher of Athens, in his Apology for the Christians, writes to the Emperors Antoninus and Commodus, that the reason why we say that all things were made by the Son is this: “Whereas,” he says, “the Father and the Son are one and the same, and the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son, by the unity and power of the Spirit, the Mind and Word is the Son of God.” In these words : ” Whereas the Father and the Son are one,” he explains the unity of Nature of the Son with the Father; and in the other, ” the Son is in the Father, and the Father in the Son,” that peculiarity of the Trinity called by theologians Circumineession, by which one Person is in the others. He immediately adds : ” We assert that the Son the Word is God, as is also the Holy Ghost united in power.”

 

29. Theophilus, Bishop of Antioch, under the Emperor Marcus Aurelius, says (7) : ” We ought to know that our Lord Christ is true God and true man God from God the Father man from Mary, his human Mother.” Clement of Alexandria (8) writes : ” Now the Word himself has appeared to man, who alone is both at the same time God and man.” And again he says (9) : ” God hates nothing, nor neither does the Word, for both are one, to wit, God, for he has said, In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” Origen (10) wrote against Celsus, who objected to the Christians, that they adored Jesus Christ as God, though he was dead, and he thus expresses himself : ” Be it known to our accusers that we believe this Jesus to be God and the Son of God.” And again he says (II), that although Christ suffered as man, the Word who was God did not suffer.

 

(6) St. Iræn. ad Hær. I. 3, c. 11. (7) Theoph. l. 5; Allegor. in Evang. (8) Clem. Alex, in Admon. ad Græcos. (9) Idem, l. 1; Pædagog. c. 8 (10) Origen, l. 3, cont. Celsum.  (11) Idem, 1. 4, cont. Celsum.

 

“We distinguish,” he says, ” between the Nature of the Divine Word, which is God, and the soul of Jesus. I do not quote the passage which follows, as it is on that theologians found their doubts of the faith of Origen, as the reader may see by consulting Nat. Alexander (12), but there can be no doubt, from the passage already quoted, that Origen confessed that Jesus was God and the Son of God.

 

30. Dionisius Alexandrinus, towards the end of the third century, was accused (13) of denying the consubstantiality of the Word with the Father, but he says : ” I have shown that they falsely charge me with saying that Christ is not consubstantial with God.” St. Gregory Thaumaturgus, one of Origen’s scholars, Bishop of Pontus, and one of the accusers of Paul of Samosata in the Synod of Antioch, says, in his Confession of Faith (14) : ” There is one God, the Father of the living Word, the perfect Father of the perfect, the Father of the only-begotten Son (solus ex solo), God of God. And there is one Holy Ghost from God having existence.” St. Methodius, as St. Jerom informs us (15), Bishop of Tyre, who suffered martyrdom under Diocletian, thus speaks of the Word in his book entitled De Martyribus, quoted by Theodoret (16) : “The Lord and the Son of God, who thought it no robbery to be equal to God.”

 

31. We now come to the Latin Fathers of the Western Church. St. Cyprian, Bishop of Carthage (1 7), proves the Divinity of the Word with the very texts we have already quoted. ” The Lord says : I and the Father are one.” And again, it is written of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, ” and these three are one.” In another place he says (18), ” God is mingled with man; this is our God this is Christ.” I omit the authority of St. Dionisius Romanus, of St. Athanasius, of Arnobius, of Lactantius, of Minutius Felix, of Zeno, and of other eminent writers, who forcibly defend the Divinity of the Word.

 

(12) Nat. Alex. sec. 3, Diss. 16, art. 2. (13) Dionys. Alex, apud St. Athan. t. 1, p. 561. ( (14) St. Greg. Thaum. p. 1, Oper. apud Greg. Nyssen. in Vita Greg. Thaum. (15) St. Hier. de Scrip. Eccles. c. 34. (16) Theodoret, Dial. 1, p. 37. (17) St. Cyprian, de lib. Unit Eccles. (18) Idem, l. de Idol, vanit.

 

I will merely here quote a few passages from Tertullian, whose authority the Socinians abuse. In one part he says, speaking of the Word (34), ” Him have we learned as produced from God (prolatum), and so generated, and therefore he is said to be God, and the Son of God, from the Unity of substance He is, therefore, Spirit from Spirit, God from God, and light from light.” Again he says (35) : ” I and the Father are one, in the unity of substance, and not in the singularity of number.” From these passages it clearly appears that Tertullian held that the Word was God, like the Father, and consubstantial with the Father. Our adversaries adduce some obscure passages from the most obscure part of his works, which they imagine favour their opinion; but our authors have demolished all their quibbles, and the reader can consult them (36).

 

32. It is, however, certain, on the authority of the Fathers of the three first centuries, that the Faith of the Church in the Divinity and consubstantiality of the Word with the Father has been unchangeable, and even Socinus himself is obliged to confess this (37). Guided by this tradition, the three hundred and eighteen Fathers of the General Council of Nice, held in the year 325, thus defined the Faith: “We believe in one Lord Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the only-begotten Son from the Father, that is, from the substance of the Father; God of God, light of lights, true God of true God, consubstantial to the Father, by whom all things were made.” This self-same profession of Faith has been from that always preserved in the subsequent General Councils, and in the whole Church.

 

 (34) Tertull. Apol. c. 21. (35) Idem, lib. con. Praxeam. c. 25. (36) Vide Juvenin. t. 3, q. 2, c. 1, a. 1, sec. 2; Tournely, t. 2, q. 4, art. 3, sec. 2; Antoin. Theol. Trac. de Trin. c. 1, art. 3. (37) Socinus Epist, ad Radoc, in t. 1, suor. Oper.