St. Ambrose – Bk 1 – Chapter 16

ST. AMBROSE, pray for us!

ST. AMBROSE, pray for us!

The Arians blaspheme Christ, if by the words created and begotten they mean and understand one and the same thing. If, however, they regard the words as distinct in meaning, they must not speak of Him, of Whom they have read that He was begotten, as if He were a created being. This rule is upheld by the witness of St. Paul, who, professing himself a servant of Christ, forbade worship of a created being. God being a substance pure and uncompounded, there is no created nature in Him; furthermore, the Son is not to be degraded to the level of things created, seeing that in Him the Father is well pleased.

100. Now will I enquire particularly of the Arians, whether they think that begotten and created are one and the same. If they call them the same, then is there no difference between generation and creation. It follows, then, that forasmuch as we also arecreated, there is between us and Christ and the elements no difference. Thus much, however, great as their madness is, they will not venture to say.

101. Furthermore— to concede that which is no truth, to their folly— I ask them, if there is, as they think, no difference in the words, why do they not call upon Him Whom they worship by the better title? Why do they not avail themselves of the Father’s word? Why do they reject the title of honour, and use a dishonouring name?

102. If, however, there is— as I think there is— a distinction between created and begotten, then, when we have read that He is begotten, we shall surely not understand the same by the terms begotten and created. Let them therefore confess Him to be begotten of the Father, born of the Virgin, or let them say how the Son of God can be both begotten and created. A singlenature, above all, the Divine Being, rejects strife (within itself).

103. But in any case let our private judgment pass: let us enquire of Paul, who, filled with the Spirit of God, and so foreseeing these questionings, has given sentence against pagans in general and Arians in particular, saying that they were by God’sjudgment condemned, who served the creature rather than the Creator. Thus, in fact, you may read: God gave them over to thelusts of their own heart, that they might one with another dishonour their bodies, they who changed God’s truth into a lie, andworshipped and served the thing created rather than the Creator, Who is God, blessed for ever. Romans 1:24-25

104. Thus Paul forbids me to worship a creature, and admonishes me of my duty to serve Christ. It follows, then, that Christ is not a created being. The Apostle calls himself Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, Romans 1:1 and this good servant, who acknowledges his Lord, will likewise have us not worship that which is created. How, then, could he have been himself a servant of Christ, if he thought that Christ was a created person? Let these heretics, then, cease either to worship Him Whom they call acreated being, or to call Him a creature, Whom they feign to worship, lest under colour of being worshippers they fall into worse impiety. For a domestic is worse than a foreign foe, and that these men should use the Name of Christ to Christ’s dishonour increases their guilt.

105. What better expounder of the Scriptures do we indeed look for than that teacher of the Gentiles, that chosen vessel— chosen from the number of the persecutors? He who had been the persecutor of Christ confesses Him. He had read Solomon more, in any case, than Arius has, and he was well learned in the Law, and so, because he had read, he said not that Christ wascreated, but that He was begotten. For he had read, He spoke, and they were made: He commanded, and they were created.Was Christ, I ask, made at a word? Was He created at a command?

106. Moreover, how can there be any created nature in God? In truth, God is of an uncompounded nature; nothing can be added to Him, and that alone which is Divine has He in His nature; filling all things, yet nowhere Himself confounded with anything; penetrating all things, yet Himself nowhere to be penetrated; present in all His fullness at one and the same moment, in heaven, in earth, in the deepest depth of the sea, to sight invisible, by speech not to be declared, by feeling not to be measured; to be followed by faith, to be adored with devotion; so that whatsoever title excels in depth of spiritual import, in setting forth gloryand honour, in exalting power, this you may know to belong of right to God.

107. Since, then, the Father is well pleased in the Son; believe that the Son is worthy of the Father, that He came out from God, as He Himself bears witness, saying: I went out from God, and have come; John 8:42 and again: I went out from God.John 16:27 He Who proceeded and came forth from God can have no attributes but such as are proper to God.

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