St. Ambrose – Bk 2 – Chapter 13

christ the king1The wicked and dishonourable opinions held by Arians, Sabellians, and Manichæans as concerning their Judge are shortly refuted. Christ’s remonstrances regarding the rest of His adversaries being set forth, St. Ambrose expresses a hope of milder judgment for himself.

108. Let us proceed, then, with your accusations, and see how you gain the favour of your Judge. Speak now, speak, I say, and tell Him: I consider You, O Christ, to be unlike Your Father; and He will answer: Mark, if you can, mark, I say, and tell Me wherein you hold Me to differ.

109. Say again: I judge You to be a created being; and Christ will reply: If the witness of two men is true, ought you not to have believed both Me and My Father, Who has called Me His Son?

110. Then you will say: I deny Your [perfect] goodness; and He will answer: Be it unto you according to your faith; so will I not be good to you.

111. That You are Almighty, I hold not; and He will answer, in turn: Then can I not forgive you your sins.

112. You are a subject being. Whereto He will reply: Why, then, do you seek freedom and pardon of Him Whom you think to be subject as a slave?

113. I see your accusation halt here. I press you not, forasmuch as I myself know my own sins. I grudge you not pardon, for I myself would obtain indulgence, but I would know the object of your prayers. Look, then, while I recite before the Judge your desires. I betray not your sins, but look to behold your prayers and wishes set forth in their order.

114. Speak, therefore, those desires, which all alike would have granted to them. Lord, make me in the image of God. Whereto He will answer: In what image? The image which you have denied?

115. Make me incorruptible. Surely His reply will be: How can I make you incorruptible, I, Whom you call a created being, and so would make out to be corruptible? The dead shall rise purified from corruption— do you call Him corruptible Whom you see to be God?

116. Be good to me. Why do you ask what you have denied [to Me]? I would have had you to be good, and I said ‘Be holy, for I Myself am holy,’ Leviticus 19:2 and you set yourself to deny that I am good? Do you then look for forgiveness of sins? Nay, none can forgive sins, but God alone. Mark 2:7 Seeing, then, that to you I am not the true and only God, I cannot by any means forgive you your sins.

117. Thus let the followers of Arius and Photinus speak. I deny Your Godhead. To whom the Lord will make answer: ‘The fool has said in his heart: There is no God?’ Of whom, think you, is this said?— of Jew or Gentile, or of the devil. Whosoever he be of whom it is said, O disciple of Photinus, he is more to be borne with, who held his peace; thou, nevertheless, hast dared to lift up your voice to utter it, that you might be proved more foolish than the fool. You deny My Godhead, whereas I said, ‘You are gods, and you are all the children of the Most High?’ And you deny Him to be God, Whose godlike works you see around you.

118. Let the Sabellian speak in his turn. I consider You, by Yourself, to be at once Father and Son and Holy Spirit. To whom the Lord: You hear neither the Father nor the Son. Is there any doubt on this matter? The Scripture itself teaches you that it is the Father Who gives over the judgment, and the Son Who judges. John 5:22 You have not given ear to My words: ‘I am not alone, but I and the Father, Who sent Me.’

119. Now let the Manichæan have his word. I hold that the devil is the creator of our flesh. The Lord will answer him: What, then, are you doing in the heavenly places? Depart, go your way to your creator. ‘My will is that they be with Me, whom my Father has given Me.’ John 17:24 You, Manichæan, hold yourself for a creature of the devil; hasten, then, to his abode, the place of fire and brimstone, where the fire thereof is not quenched, lest ever the punishment have an end.

120. I set aside other heretical— not persons, but portents. What manner of judgment awaits them, what shall be the form of their sentence? To all these He will, indeed, reply, rather in sorrow than in anger: O My people, what have I done unto you, wherein have I vexed you? Did I not bring you up out of Egypt, and lead you out of the house of bondage into liberty?

121. But it is not enough to have brought us out of Egypt into freedom, and to have saved us from the house of bondage: a greater boon than this, You have given Yourself for us. You will say then: Have I not borne all your sufferings? Isaiah 53:4 Have I not given My Body for you? Have I not sought death, which had no part in My Godhead, but was necessary for your redemption? Are these the thanks I am to receive? Is it this that My Blood has gained, even as I spoke in times past by the mouth of the prophet: ‘What profit is there in My Blood, for that I have gone down to corruption?’ Is this the profit, that you should wickedly deny Me— you, for whom I endured those things?

122. As for me, Lord Jesu, though I am conscious within myself of great sin, yet will I say: I have not denied You; You may pardon the infirmity of my flesh. My transgression I confess; my sin I deny not. If You will You can make me clean. Matthew 8:2 For this saying, the leper obtained his request. Enter not, I pray, into judgment with Your servant. I ask, not that You may judge, but that You may forgive.

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