St. Ambrose – Bk 2 – Chapter 12

Hans Memling, Christ as Judge detai, Muzeum Narodowe, Gdansk, 1467-71lDo the Catholics or the Arians take the better course to assure themselves of the favour of Christ as their Judge? An objection grounded on Psalm 110:1 is disposed of, it being shown that when the Son is invited by the Father to sit at His right hand, no subjection is intended to be signified— nor yet any preferment, in that the Son sits at the Father’s right hand. The truth of the Trinity of Persons in God, and of the Unity of their Nature, is shown to be proved by the angelic Trisagion.

100. Howbeit, if our adversaries cannot be turned by kindness, let us summon them before the Judge. To what Judge, then, shall we go? Surely to Him Who has the Judgment. To the Father, then? Nay, but the Father judges no man, for He has given alljudgment to the Son. John 5:22 He has given, that is to say, not as of largess, but in the act of generation. See, then, how unwilling He was that you should dishonour His Son— even so that He gave Him to be your Judge.

101. Let us see, then, before the judgment which has the better cause, thou or I? Surely it is the care of a prudent party to a suit to gain first the favourable regard of the judge. You honour man—do you not honour God? Which of the two, I ask, wins the favour of the magistrate— respect or contempt? Suppose that I am in error— as I certainly am not: is Christ displeased with thehonour shown Him? We are all sinners— who, then, will deserve forgiveness, he who renders worship, or he who displays insolence?

102. If reasoning move you not, at least let the plain aspect of the judgment move you! Raise your eyes to the Judge, see Who it is that is seated, with Whom He is seated, and where. Christ sits at the right hand of the Father. If with your eyes you can not perceive this, hear the words of the prophet: The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit on My right hand. The Son, therefore, sits at the right hand of the Father. Tell me now, thou who holdest that the things of God are to be judged of from the things of this world— say whether you think Him Who sits at the right hand to be lower? Is it any dishonour to the Father that He sits at the Son’s left hand? The Father honours the Son, and you make it to be insult! The Father would have this invitation to be a sign of love and esteem, and you would make it an overlord’s command! Christ has risen from the dead, and sits at the right hand of God.

103. But, you object, the Father said. Good, hear now a passage where the Father does not speak, and the Son prophesies:Hereafter you shall see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of power. Matthew 26:64 This He said with regard to taking back to Himself His body— to Him the Father said: Sit at My right hand. If indeed you ask of the eternal abode of the Godhead, He said— when Pilate asked Him whether He were the King of the Jews— For this I was born. And so indeed the Apostle shows that it is good for us to believe that Christ sits at the right hand of God, not by command, nor of any boon, but as God’s most dearly beloved Son. For it is written for you: Seek the things that are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God; savour the things that are above. Colossians 3:2 This is to savour the things that be above— to believe that Christ, in His sitting, does not obey as one who receives a command, but is honoured as the well-beloved Son. It is with regard, then, to Christ’s Body that the Father says: Sit at My right hand, until I make Your enemies Your footstool.

104. If, again, you seek to pervert the sense of these words, I will make Your enemies Your footstool, I answer that the Father also brings to the Son such as the Son raises up and quickens. For No man, says Christ, can come to Me, except the Father, Which has sent Me, draw him, and I will raise him up at the last day. John 6:44 And you say that the Son of God is subject byreason of weakness— the Son, to Whom the Father brings men that He may raise them up in the last day. Seems this in your eyes to be subjection, I pray you, where the kingdom is prepared for the Father, and the Father brings to the Son and there is no place for perversion of words, since the Son gives the kingdom to the Father, and none is preferred before Him? For inasmuch as the Father renders to the Son, and the Son, again, to the Father, here are plain proofs of love and regard: seeing that They so render, the One to the Other, that neither He Who receives obtains as it were what was another’s, nor He That renders loses.

105. Moreover, the sitting at the right hand is no preferment, nor does that at the left hand betoken dishonour, for there are no degrees in the Godhead, Which is bound by no limits of space or time, which are the weights and measures of our puny humanminds. There is no difference of love, nothing that divides the Unity.

106. But wherefore roam so far afield? You have looked upon all around you, you have seen the Judge, you have remarked the angels proclaiming Him. They praise, and thou revilest Him! Dominations and powers fall down before Him— you speak evil of His Name! All His Saints adore Him, but the Son of God adores not, nor the Holy Spirit. The seraphim say: Holy, Holy, Holy!Isaiah 6:3

107. What means this threefold utterance of the same name Holy? If thrice repeated, why is it but one act of praise? If one actof praise, why a threefold repetition? Why the threefold repetition, unless that the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit are one in holiness? The seraph spoke the name, not once, lest he should exclude the Son; not twice, lest he should pass by the Holy Spirit; not four times, lest he should conjoin created beings [in the praise of the Creator]. Furthermore, to show that the Godhead of the Trinity is One, he, after the threefold Holy, added in the singular number the Lord God of Sabaoth. Holy, therefore, is the Father, holy the Son, holy likewise the Spirit of God, and therefore is the Trinity adored, but adores not, and is praised, but praises not. As for me, I will rather believe as the seraphim, and adore after the manner of all the principalities and powers of heaven.

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