St. Ambrose – Bk 5 – Chapter 2

litanies1aSince it has been proved that the Son is true God, and in that is not inferior to the Father, it is shown that by the word solus (alone) when used of the Father in the Scriptures, the Son is not excluded; nay, that this expression befits Him above all, and Him alone. The Trinity is alone, not amongst all, but above all. The Son alone does what the Father does, and alone has immortality. But we must not for this reason separate Him from the Father in our controversies. We may, however, understand that passage of the Incarnation. Lastly the Father is shut out from a share in the redemption of men by those who would have the Son to be separated from Him.

27. We have fully demonstrated by passages of Scripture, in the earlier books, that Christ is true, yea, very true God. Therefore if Christ, as it has been taught, istrue God, let us enquire why they desire to separate the Son from the Father, when they read that the Father is the only true God.

28. If they say that the Father alone is true God, they cannot deny that God the Son alone is the Truth; for Christ is the Truth. Is the Truth then something inferior to Him that is true, seeing that according to the use of terms a man is called true from the word truth, as also wise from wisdom, just from justice? We do not deem it so between the Father and the Son. For there is nothing wanting to the Father, because the Father is full of truth; and the Son, because He is the Truth, is equal to Him that is true.

29. But that they may know, when they see the word alone, that the Son is in no wise to be separated from the Father, let them remember it was said by Godin the Prophets: I stretched forth the heavens alone. Isaiah 44:24 The Father certainly did not stretch them forth without the Son. For the Son Himself, Who is the Wisdom of God, says: When He prepared the heavens I was present with Him. Proverbs 8:27 And Paul declares that it was said of the Son: You, Lord, in the beginning hast laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of Your hands. Whether therefore the Son made the heavens, as also the Apostlewould have it understood, while He Himself certainly did not alone spread out the heavens without the Father; or as it stands in the Book of Proverbs: The Lordin wisdom has founded the earth, in understanding has He prepared the heavens; Proverbs 3:19 it is proved that neither the Father made the heavens alone without the Son, nor yet the Son without the Father. And yet He who spread out the heavens is said to be alone.

30. To show indeed how plainly we must understand the expression alone of the Son (although we may never believe that He did anything without theknowledge of the Father), we have here also another passage, where it is written: Which alone spreads out the heavens, and walks as it were on a pavement over the sea. Job 9:8 For the Gospel of the Lord has taught us that it was not the Father but the Son that walked upon the sea, when Peter asked Him, saying,Lord, bid me come unto You. Matthew 14:28 But even prophecy itself gives proof of this. For holy Job prophesied of the coming of the Lord; of Whom he said intruth that He would vanquish the great Leviathan, Job 41:8 and it was done. For that dread Leviathan that is, the devil, He smote, and struck down, and laid low in the last times by the adorable Passion of His own Body. Isaiah 27:1

31. The Son therefore is only and true God for this also is assigned to the Son as His sole right. For of no created being can it be accurately said that he is alone. How can he to whom fellowship in creation belongs be separated from the rest, as though he were alone? Thus man is seen to be a rational being among all earthly creatures, yet he is not the only rational being; for we know that the heavenly works of God also are rational, we confess that angels and archangels arerational beings. If then the angels are rational, man cannot be said to be the only rational being.

32. But they say that the sun can be said to be alone, because there is no second sun. But the sun himself has many things in common with the stars, for he travels across the heavens, he is of that ethereal and heavenly substance, he is a creature, and is reckoned among all the works of God. He serves God in union with all, blesses Him with all, praises Him with all. Therefore he cannot accurately be said to be alone, for he is not set apart from the rest.

33. Wherefore since no created being can be compared with the Godhead of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, Which is alone, not among all, but over all (our declaration concerning the Spirit being meanwhile held back); as the Father is said to be the only true God, because He has nothing in common with others; so also is the Son alone the Image of the true God, He alone is the Hand of the Father, He alone is the Virtue and Wisdom of God.

34. Thus the Son alone does what the Father does; for it is written: Whatsoever things I do, He does. John 5:19 And since the work of the Father and of the Son is one, it is well said of the Father and the Son, that God worked alone; wherefore also when we speak of the Creator, we own both the Father and the Son. For assuredly when Paul said, Who served the creature more than the Creator, Romans 1:25 he neither denied the Father to be the Creator, from Whom are all these things, nor yet the Son, through Whom are all things. Romans 11:36

35. And it does not seem out of agreement with this that it is written: Who alone has immortality. 1 Timothy 6:16 For how could He not have immortality Who has life in Himself? He has it in His nature; He has it in His essential Being; and He has it not as a temporal grace, but owing to His eternal Godhead. He has it not by way of a gift as a servant, but by peculiar right of His Generation, as the co-eternal Son. He has it, too, as has the Father. For as the Father has life in Himself, so also has He given to the Son to have life in Himself. John 5:26 As He has it, it says, so He has given it. You have learned already how He gave it, that you may not think it to be a free gift of grace, when it is a secret of His generation. Since, then, there is no divergence of life between the Father and the Son, how can it be supposed that the Father alone has immortality, while the Son has it not?

36. Wherefore let them understand that in this passage the Son is not to be separated from the Father, Who is the only true God. For they cannot prove that the Son is not the only and true God, especially as here also it may be gathered, as I have said, that Christ too is true and only God; or the passage may at least be understood partly in reference to the Godhead of the Father and the Son, and partly to the Incarnation of Christ: for knowledge is not perfect unless it confessesJesus Christ from eternity to be only-begotten God, true Son of God, and, according to the flesh, begotten of a Virgin. Which also this very Evangelist has taught us elsewhere, saying: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, is of God. 1 John 4:2

37. Lastly, the whole of our passage teaches us that it is not improper in this verse to understand a reference to the sacrament of the Incarnation. For thus it is written: Father, the hour has come, glorify Your Son. John 17:1 When, therefore, He states that the hour has come, and prays to be glorified, how can one suppose Him to have spoken but only in accordance with the assumption of our flesh? For the Godhead has no fixed moments of time, nor does eternal light stand in need of glorification. Therefore in the only true God, Who is the Father, we also understand the only true Son of God to be in accordance with the unity of theGodhead. And in the name of Jesus Christ, which He received when born of the Virgin, we acknowledge the sacrament of the Incarnation.

38. But if they wish to separate the Son, when they read that the Father is the only true God, I suppose that when they read of the Incarnation of the Son:This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which has become the head of the corner; and further: There is none other name under heavengiven among men, whereby we must be saved; Acts 4:11-12 then they imagine the Father is to be cut off from the benefit of imparting salvation to us. But there is neither salvation without the Father, nor eternal life without the Son.


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