St. Ambrose – Bk 1 – Chapter 19

St. Ambrose, pray for us.

St. Ambrose, pray for us.

Chapter 19.

Arius is charged with the first of the above-mentioned errors, and refuted by the testimony of St. John. The miserable death of the Heresiarch is described, and the rest of his blasphemous errors are one by one examined and disproved.

123. Arius, then, says: There was a time when the Son of God existed not, but Scripture says: He was, not that He was not. Furthermore, St. John has written: In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. John 1:1-3 Observe how often the verb was appears, whereas was not is nowhere found. Whom, then, are we to believe?— St. John, who lay on Christ’s bosom, or Arius, wallowing amid the outgush of his very bowels?— so wallowing that we might understand how Arius in his teaching showed himself like Judas, being visited with like punishment.

124. For Arius’ bowels also gushed out— decency forbids to say where— and so he burst asunder in the midst, falling headlong, and besmirching those foul lips wherewith he had denied Christ. He was rent, even as the Apostle Peter said of Judas, because he bought a field with the price of evil-doing, and falling headlong he burst asunder in the midst, and all his bowels gushed out. It was no chance manner of death, seeing that like wickedness was visited with like punishment, to the end that those who denied and betrayed the same Lord might likewise undergo the same torment.

125. Let us pass on to further points. Arius says: Before He was born, the Son of God was not, but the Scripture says that all things are maintained in existence by the Son’s office. How, then, could He, Who existed not, bestow existence upon others? Again, when the blasphemer uses the words when and before, he certainly uses words which are marks of time. How, then, do the Arians deny that time was ere the Son was, and yet will have things created in time to exist before the Son, seeing that the very words, when, before, and did not exist once, announce the idea of time?

126. Arius says that the Son of God came into being out of nought. How, then, is He Son of God— how was He begotten from the womb of the Father— how do we read of Him as the Word spoken of the heart’s abundance, save to the end that we should believe that He came forth, as it is written, from the Father’s inmost, unapproachable sanctuary? Now a son is so called either by means of adoption or by nature, as we are called sons by means of adoption. Christ is the Son of God by virtue of His real and abiding nature. How, then, can He, Who out of nothing fashioned all things, be Himself created out of nothing?

127. He who knows not whence the Son is has not the Son. The Jews therefore had not the Son, for they knew not whence He was. Wherefore the Lord said to them: You know not whence I came; John 8:14 and again: You neither have found out Who I am, nor know My Father, for he who denies that the Son is of the Father knows not the Father, of Whom the Son is; and again, he knows not the Son, because he knows not the Father.

128. Arius says: [The Son is] of another Substance. But what other substance is exalted to equality with the Son of God, so that simply in virtue thereof He is Son of God? Or what right have the Arians for censuring us because we speak, in Greek, of theοὐσία, or in Latin, of the Substantia of God, when they themselves, in saying that the Son of God is of another Substance, assert a divine Substantia.

129. Howbeit, should they desire to dispute the use of the words divine Substance or divine Nature, they shall easily be refuted, for Holy Writ oft-times has spoken of οὐσία in Greek, or Substantia in Latin, and St. Peter, as we read, would have us become partakers in the divine Nature. But if they will have it that the Son is of another Substance, they with their own lips confute themselves, in that they both acknowledge the term Substance, whereof they are so afraid, and rank the Son on a level with the creatures above which they feign to exalt Him.

130. Arius calls the Son of God a creature, but not as the rest of the creatures. Yet what created being is not different from another? Man is not as angel, earth is not as heaven, the sun is not as water, nor light as darkness. Arius’ preference, therefore, is empty— he has but disguised with a sorry dye his deceitful blasphemies, in order to take the foolish.

131. Arius declares that the Son of God may change and swerve. How, then, is He God if He is changeable, seeing that He Himself has said: I am, I am, and I change not?

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