Discussion of the Divine Generation is continued. St. Ambrose illustrates its method by the same example as that employed by the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews. The duty of believing what is revealed is shown by the example of Nebuchadnezzar and St. Peter. By the vision granted to St. Peter was shown the Son’s Eternity and Godhead— the Apostle, then, must be believed in preference to the teachers of philosophy, whose authority was everywhere falling into discredit. The Arians, on the other hand, are shown to be like the heathen.
79. It will be asked:
In what sort was the Son begotten? As one who is for ever, as the Word, as the brightness of eternal light,Hebrews 1:3 for brightness takes effect in the instant of its coming into existence. Which example is the Apostle’s, not mine. Think not, then, that there was ever a moment of time when God was without wisdom, any more than that there was ever a time when light was without radiance. Judge not, Arian, divine things by human, but believe the divine where you find not the human.
80. The heathen king saw in the fire, together with the three Hebrew children, the form of a fourth, like as of an angel, Daniel 3:25and because he thought that this angel excelled all angels, he judged Him to be the Son of God, Whom he had not read of, but in Whom he believed. Abraham, also, saw Three, and adored One. Genesis 18:1-3
81. Peter, when he saw Moses and Elias on the mountain, with the Son of God, was not deceived as to their nature and glory. For he enquired, not of them, but of Christ, what he ought to do, inasmuch as though he prepared to do homage to all three, yet he waited for the command of one. But since he ignorantly thought that for three persons three tabernacles should be set up, he was corrected by the sovereign voice of God the Father, saying,
This is My dearly beloved Son: hear Him. Matthew 17:5 That is to say:
Why do you join your fellow-servants in equality with your Lord?
This is My Son. Not
Moses is My Son, nor
Elias is My Son,but
This is My Son. The Apostle was not dull to understand the rebuke; he fell on his face, brought low by the Father’s voice and the glorious beauty of the Son, but he was raised up by the Son, Whose wont it is to raise up them that are fallen. Matthew 17:6-8Then he saw one only, Matthew 17:8 the Son of God alone, for the servants had withdrawn, that He might be seen to be Lordalone, Who alone was entitled Son.
82. What, then, was the purpose of that vision, which signified not that Christ and His servants were equal, but betokened amystery, save that it should be made plain to us that the Law and the Prophets, in agreement with the Gospel, revealed aseternal the Son of God, Whom they had heralded. When we, therefore, hear of the Son coming forth of the womb, the Word from the heart, let us believe that the Son was not fashioned with hands but begotten of the Father, not the work of a craftsman but the offspring of a parent.
83. He, therefore, Who said,
This is My Son, said not,
This is a creature of time, nor
This being is of My creation, My making, My servant, but
This is My Son, Whom you see glorified. This is the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob, Who appeared to Moses in the bush, Exodus 3:14 concerning Whom Moses says,
He Who is has sent me. It was not the Father Who spoke to Moses in the bush or in the desert, but the Son. It was of this Moses that Stephen said,
This is He Who was in thechurch, in the wilderness, with the Angel. Acts 7:38 This, then, is He Who gave the Law, Who spoke with Moses, saying,
I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, the God of Jacob. This, then, is the God of the patriarchs, this is the God of the prophets.
84. It is of the Son, therefore, that we read, your mind understands the reading, let your tongue make confession. Away with arguments, where faith is required; now let dialectic hold her peace, even in the midst of her schools. I ask not what it is thatphilosophers say, but I would know what they do. They sit desolate in their schools. See the victory of faith over argument. They who dispute subtly are forsaken daily by their fellows; they who with simplicity believe are daily increased. Not philosophers but fishermen, not masters of dialectic but tax-gatherers, now find credence. The one sort, through pleasures and luxuries, have bound the world’s burden upon themselves; the other, by fasting and mortification, have cast it off, and so does sorrow now begin to win over more followers than pleasure.
85. Let us now see how far Arians and pagans do differ. The latter call upon gods, who are different in sex and unequal in power; the former affirm a Trinity where there is likewise inequality of power and diversity of Godhead. The pagans assert that their Gods began to exist once upon a time; the Arians lyingly declare that Christ began to exist in the course of time. Have they not all dyed their impiety in the vats of philosophy? But indeed the pagans do extol that which they worship, the Arians maintain that the Son of God, Who is God, is a creature.