Novatian (Cont.)A Treatise of Novatian Concerning the Trinity. (Cont.)

Chap. XIII.

Argument. – That the Same Truth Is Proved from the Sacred Writings of the New Covenant.

And thus also John, describing the nativity of Christ, says: “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full Of grace and truth.” (Joh_1:14) [For Sabellius, see p. 128, supra] For, moreover, “His name is called the Word of God,” (Rev_19:13) and not without reason. “My heart has emitted a good word;” (Psa_45:1) which word He subsequently calls by the name of the King inferentially, “I will tell my works to the King.” (Psa_45:1) For “by Him were made all the works, and without Him was nothing made.” (Joh_1:3) “Whether” says the apostle “they be thrones or dominations, or powers, or mights, visible things and invisible, all things subsist by Him not.” (Col_1:16) Moreover, this is I d which came unto His own, and His own received Him not. For the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not.” (Joh_1:10, Joh_1:11) Moreover, this Word “was in the beginning with God, and God was the Word.” (Joh_1:1) Who then can doubt, when in the last clause it is said, “The Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us,” that Christ, whose is the nativity, and because He was made flesh, is man; and because He is the Word of God, who can shrink from declaring without hesitation that He is God, especially when he considers the evangelical Scripture, that it has associated both of these substantial natures into one concord of the nativity of Christ? For He it is who “as a bride-groom goeth forth from his bride-chamber; He exulted as a giant to run his way. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and His return unto the ends of it.” (Psa_19:6, Psa_19:7) Because, even to the highest, “not any one hath ascended into heaven save He who came down from heaven, the Son of man who is in heaven.” (Joh_3:13) Repeating this same thing, He says: “Father, glorify me with that glory wherewith I was with Thee before the world was.” (Joh_17:5)27 And if this Word came down from heaven as a bridegroom to the flesh, that by the assumption of flesh He might ascend thither as the Son of man, whence the Son of God had descended as the Word, reasonably, while by the mutual connection both flesh wears the Word of God, and the Son of God assumes the frailty of the flesh; when the flesh being espoused ascending thither, whence without the flesh it had descended, it at length receives that glory which in being shown to have had before the foundation of the world, it is most manifestly proved to be God. And, nevertheless, while the world itself is said to have been founded after Him, it is found to have been created by Him; by that very divinity in Him whereby, the world was made, both His glory and His authority are proved. Moreover, if, whereas it is the property of none but God to know the secrets of the heart, Christ beholds the secrets of the heart; and if, whereas it belongs to none but God to remit sins, the same Christ remits sins; and if, whereas it is the portion of no man to come from heaven, He descended by coming from heaven; and if, whereas this word can be true of no man, “I and the Father are one,” (Joh_10:30) Christ alone declared this word out of the consciousness of His divinity; and if, finally, the Apostle Thomas, instructed in all the proofs and conditions of Christ’s divinity, says in reply to Christ, “My Lord and my God;” (Joh_20:28) and if, besides, the Apostle Paul says, “Whose are the fathers, and of whom Christ came according to the flesh, who is over all, God blessed for evermore,” (Rom_9:5) writing in his epistles; and if the same apostle declares that he was ordained “an apostle not by men, nor of man, but by Jesus Christ;” (Gal_1:1 and Gal_1:12) and if the same contends that he learned the Gospel not from men or by man, but received it from Jesus Christ, reasonably Christ is God. Therefore, in this respect, one of two things must needs be established. For since it is evident that all things were made by Christ, He is either before all things, since all things were by Him, and so He is justly God; or because He is man He is subsequent to all things, and justly nothing was made by Him. But we cannot say that nothing was made by Him, when we observe it written that all things were made by Him. He is not therefore subsequent to all things; that is, He is not man only, who is subsequent to all things, but God also, since God is prior to all things. For He is before all things, because all things are by Him, while if He were only man, nothing would be by Him; or if all things were by Him, He would not be man only, because if He were only man, all things would not be by Him; nay, nothing would be by Him. What, then, do they reply? That nothing is by Him, so that He is man only? How then are all things by Him? Therefore He is not man only, but God also, since all things are by Him; so that we reasonably ought to understand that Christ is not man only, who is subsequent to all things, but God also, since by Him all things were made. For how can you say that He is man only, when you see Him also in the flesh, unless because when both aspects are considered, both truths are rightly believed?


Chap. XIV.

Argument. – The Author Prosecutes the Same Argument.

And yet the heretic still shrinks from urging that Christ is God, whom he perceives to be proved God by so many words as well as facts. If Christ is only man, how, when He came into this world, did He come unto His own, since a man could have made no world? If Christ was only man, how is the world said to have been made by Him, when the world was not by man, but man was ordained after the world? If Christ was only man, how was it that Christ was not only of the seed of David; but He was the Word made flesh and dwelt among us? For although the Protoplast was not born of seed, yet neither was the Protoplast formed of the conjunction of the Word and the flesh. For He is not the Word made flesh, nor dwelt in us. If Christ was only man, how does He “who cometh from heaven testify what He hath seen and heard,” (Joh_3:31) when it is plain that man cannot come from heaven, because he cannot be born there? If Christ be only man, how are “visible things and invisible, thrones, powers, and dominions,” said to be created by Him and in Him; when the heavenly powers could not have been made by man, since they must needs have been prior to man? If Christ is only man, how is He present wherever He is called upon; when it is not the nature of man, but of God, that it can be present in every place? If Christ is only man, why is a man invoked in prayers as a Mediator, when the invocation of a man to afford salvation is condemned as ineffectual? If Christ is only man, why is hope rested upon Him, when hope in man is declared to be accursed? If Christ is only man, why may not Christ be denied without destruction of the soul, when it is said that a sin committed against man may be forgiven? If Christ is only man, how comes John the Baptist to testify and say, “He who cometh after me has become before me, because He was prior to me;” (Joh_1:15) when, if Christ were only man, being born after John, He could not be before John, unless because He preceded him, in that He is God? If Christ is only man, how is it that “what things the Father doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise,” (Joh_5:19) when man cannot do works like to the heavenly operations of God? If Christ is only man, how is it that “even as the Father hath life in Himself, so hath He given to the Son to have life in Himself,” (Joh_5:26) when man cannot have life in him after the example of God the Father, because he is not glorious in eternity, but made with the materials of mortality? If Christ is only man, how does He say, “I am the bread of eternal life which came down from heaven,” (Joh_6:51) when man can neither be the bread of life, he himself being mortal, nor could he have come down from heaven, since no perishable material is established in heaven? If Christ is only man, how does He say that “no man hath seen God at any time, save He which is of God; He hath seen God?” (Joh_6:46) Because if Christ is only man, He could not see God, because no man has seen God; but if, being of God, He has seen God, He wishes it to be understood that He is more than man, in that He has seen God. If Christ is only man, why does He say, “What if ye shall see the Son of man ascending thither where He was before?” (Joh_6:62) But He ascended into heaven, therefore He was there, in that He returned thither where He was before. But if He was sent from heaven by the Father, He certainly is not man only; for man, as we have said, could not come from heaven. Therefore as man He was not there before, but ascended thither where He was not. But the Word of God descended which was there, – the Word of God, I say, and God by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. It was not therefore man that thus came thence from heaven, but the Word of God; that is, God descended thence.


Chap. XV.28

Argument. – Again He Proves from the Gospel That Christ Is God.

If Christ is only man, how is it that He says, “Though I bear record of myself, yet my record is true: because I know whence I came, and whither I go; ye know not whence I came, and whither I go. Ye judge after the flesh?” (Joh_8:14, Joh_8:15) Behold, also He says, that He shall return thither whence He bears witness that He came before, as being sent, – to wit, from heaven. He came down therefore from whence He came, in the same manner as He goes thither from whence He descended. Whence if Christ were only man, He would not have come thence, and therefore would not depart thither, because He would riot have come thence. Moreover, by coming thence, whence as man He could not have come, He shows Himself to have come as God. For the Jews, ignorant and untaught in the matter of this very descent of His, made these heretics their successors, seeing that to them it is said, “Ye know not whence I come, and whither I go: ye judge after the flesh.” As much they as the Jews, holding that the carnal birth of Christ was the only one, believed that Christ was nothing else than man; not considering this point, that as man could not come from heaven, so as that he might return thither, He who descended thence must be God, seeing that man could not come thence. If Christ is only man, how does He say, “Ye are from below, I am from above; ye are of this world, I am not of this world?” (Joh_8:23) But therefore if every man is of this world, and Christ is for that reason in this world, is He only man? God forbid! But consider what He says: “I am not of this world.” Does He then speak falsely when He says “of this world,” if He is only man? Or if He does not speak falsely, He is not of this world; He is therefore not man only, because He is not of this world. But that it should not be a secret who He was, He declared whence He was: “I,” said He, “am from above,” that is, from heaven, whence man cannot come, for he was not made in heaven. He is God, therefore, who is from above, and therefore He is not of this world; although, moreover, in a certain manner He is of this word: wherefore Christ is not God only, but man also. As reasonably in the way in which He is not of this world according to the divinity of the Word, so He is of this world according to the frailty of the body that He has taken upon Him. For man is joined with God, and God is linked with man. But on that account this Christ here laid more stress on the one aspect of His sole divinity, because the Jewish blindness contemplated in Christ the aspect alone of the flesh; and thence in the present passage He passed over in silence the frailty of the body, which is of the world, and spoke of His divinity alone, which is not of the world: so that in proportion as they had inclined to believe Him to be only man, in that proportion Christ might draw them to consider His divinity, so as to believe Him to be God, desirous to overcome their incredulity concerning His divinity by omitting in the meantime any mention of His human condition, and by setting before them His divinity alone. If Christ is man only, how does He say, “I proceeded forth and came from God,” (Joh_8:42) when it is evident that man was made by God, and did not proceed forth from Him? But in the way in which as man He proceeded not from God, thus the Word of God proceeded, of whom it is said, “My heart hath uttered forth a good Word ;” (Psa_45:1) which, because it is from God, is with reason also with God. And this, too, since it was not uttered without effect, reasonably makes all things: “For all things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made.” (Joh_1:3) But this Word whereby all things were made (is God). “And God,” says he, “was the Word.” (Joh_1:1) Therefore God proceeded from God, in that the Word which proceeded is God, who proceeded forth from God. If Christ is only man, how does He say, “If any man shall keep my word, he shall not see death for ever?” (Joh_8:51) Not to see death for ever! what is this but immortality? But immortality is the associate of divinity, because both the divinity is immortal, and immortality is the fruit of divinity. For every man is mortal; and immortality cannot be from that which is mortal. Therefore from Christ, as a mortal man, immortality cannot arise. “But,” says He, “whosoever keepeth my word, shall not see death for ever;” therefore the word of Christ affords immortality, and by immortality affords divinity. But although it is not possible to maintain that one who is himself mortal can make another immortal, yet this word of Christ not only sets forth, but affords immortality: certainly He is not man only who gives immortality, which if He were only man He could not give; but by giving divinity by immortality, He proves Himself to be God by offering divinity, which if He were not God He could not give. If Christ was only man, how did He say, “Before Abraham was, I Am?” (Joh_8:58) For no man can be before Him from whom he himself is; nor can it be that any one should have been prior to him of whom he himself has taken his origin. And yet Christ, although He is born of Abraham, says that He is before Abraham. Either, therefore, He says what is not true, and deceives, if He was not before Abraham, seeing that He was of Abraham; or He does not deceive, if He is also God, and was before Abraham. And if this were not so, it follows that, being of Abraham, He could not be before Abraham. If Christ was only man, how does He say, “And I know them, and my sheep follow me; and I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish?” (Joh_10:27, Joh_10:28) And yet, since every man is bound by the laws of mortality, and therefore is unable to keep himself for ever, much more will he be unable to keep another for ever. But Christ promises to give salvation for ever, which if He does not give, He is a deceiver; if He gives, He is God. But He does not deceive, for He gives what He promises. Therefore He is God who proffers eternal salvation, which man, being unable to keep himself for ever, cannot be able to give to another. If Christ is only man, what is that which He says, “I and the Father are one?” (Joh_10:30) For how can it be that “I and the Father are one,” if He is not both God and the Son? – who may therefore be called one, seeing that He is of Himself, being both His Son, and being born of Him, being declared to have proceeded from Him, by which He is also God; which when the Jews thought to be hateful, and believed to be blasphemous, for that He had shown Himself in these discourses to be God, and therefore rushed at once to stoning, and set to work passionately to hurl stones, He strongly refuted His adversaries by the example and witness of the Scriptures. “If,” said He, “He called them gods to whom the words of God were given, and the Scriptures cannot be broken, ye say of Him whom the Father sanctified, and sent into this world, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God.” (Joh_10:35, Joh_10:36) By which words He did not deny Himself to be God, but rather He confirmed the assertion that He was God. For because, undoubtedly, they are said to be gods unto whom the words of God were given, much more is He God who is found to be superior to all these. And nevertheless He refuted the calumny of blasphemy in a fitting manner with lawful tact.29 For He wishes that He should be thus understood to be God, as the Son of God, and He would not wish to be understood to be the Father Himself. Thus He said that He was sent, and showed them that He had manifested many good works from the Father; whence He desired that He should not be understood to be the Father, but the Son. And in the latter portion of His defence He made mention of the Son, not the Father, when He said, “Ye say, Thou blasphemest, because I said, I am the Son of God.” Thus, as far as pertains to the guilt of blasphemy, He calls Himself the Son, not the Father; but as pertaining to His divinity, by saying, “I and the Father are one,” He proved that He was the Son of God. He is God, therefore, but God in such a manner as to be the Son, not the Father.


Chap. XVI.30

Argument. – Again from the Gospel He Proves Christ to Be God.

If Christ was only man, how is it that He Himself says, “And every one that believeth in me shall not die for evermore?” (Joh_11:26) And yet he who believes in man by himself alone is called accursed; but he who believes on Christ is not accursed, but is said not to die for evermore. Whence, if on the one hand He is man only, as the heretics will have it, how shall not anybody who believes in Him die eternally, since he who trusts in man is held to be accursed? Or on the other, if he is not accursed, but rather, as it is read, destined for the attainment of everlasting life, Christ is not man only, but God also, in whom he who believes both lays aside all risk of curse, and attains to the fruit of righteousness. If Christ was only man, how does He say that the Paraclete “shall take of His, those things which He shall declare?” (Joh_16:14) For neither does the Paraclete receive anything from man, but the Paraclete offers knowledge to man; nor does the Paraclete learn things future from man, but instructs man concerning futurity. Therefore either the Paraclete has not received from Christ, as man, what He should declare, since man could give nothing to the Paraclete, seeing that from Him man himself ought to receive, and Christ in the present instance is both mistaken and deceives, in saying that the Paraclete shall receive from Him, being a man, the things which He may declare; or He does not deceive us, – as in fact He does not, – and the Paraclete has received from Christ what He may declare. But if He has received from Christ what He may declare to us, Christ is greater than the Paraclete, because the Paraclete would not receive from Christ unless He were less than Christ. But the Paraclete being less than Christ, moreover, by this very fact proves Christ to be God, from whom He has received what He declares: so that the testimony of Christ’s divinity is immense, in the Paraclete being found to be in this economy less than Christ, and taking from Him what He gives to others; seeing that if Christ were only man, Christ would receive from the Paraclete what He should say, not the Paraclete receive from Christ what He should declare. If Christ was only man, wherefore did He lay down for us such a rule of believing as that in which He said, “And this is life eternal, that they should know Thee, the only and true God, and Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent?” (Joh_17:3) Had He not wished that He also should be understood to be God, why did He add, “And Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent,” except because He wished to be received as God also? Because if He had not wished to be understood to be God, He would have added, “And the man Jesus Christ, whom Thou hast sent;” but, in fact, He neither added this, nor did Christ deliver Himself to us as than only, but associated Himself with God, as He wished to be understood by this conjunction to be God also, as He is. We must therefore believe, according to the rule prescribed,31 on the Lord, the one true God, and consequently on Him whom He has sent, Jesus Christ, who by no means, as we have said, would have linked Himself to the Father had He not wished to be understood to be God also: for He would have separated Himself from Him had He not wished to be understood to be God. He would have placed Himself among men only, had He known Himself to be only man; nor would He have linked Himself with God had He not known Himself to be God also. But in this case He is silent about His being man, because no one doubts His being man, and with reason links Himself to God, that He might establish the formula of His divinity31 for those who should believe. If Christ was only man, how does He say, “And now glorify me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was?” (Joh_17:5) If, before the world was, He had glory with God, and maintained His glory with the Father, He existed before the world, for He would not have had the glory unless He Himself had existed before, so as to be able to keep the glory. For no one could possess anything, unless he himself should first be in existence to keep anything. But now Christ has the glory before the foundation of the world; therefore He Himself was before the foundation of the world. For unless He were before the foundation of the world, He could not have glory before the foundation of the world, since He Himself was not in existence. But indeed man could not have glory before the foundation of the world, seeing that he was after the world; but Christ had – therefore He was before the world. Therefore He was not man only, seeing that He was before the world. He is therefore God, because He was before the world, and held His glory before the world. Neither let this be explained by predestination, since this is not so expressed, or let them add this who think so, but woe is denounced to them who add to, even as to those who take away from, that which is written. Therefore that may not be said, which may not be added. And thus, predestination being set aside, seeing it is not so laid down, Christ was in substance before the foundation of the world. For He is “the Word by which all things were made, and without which nothing was made.” Because even if He is said to be glorious in predestination, and that this predestination was before the foundation of the world, let order be maintained, and before Him a considerable number of men was destined to glory. For in respect of that destination, Christ will be perceived to be less than others if He is designated subsequent to them. For if this glory was in predestination, Christ received that predestination to glory last of all; for prior to Him Adam will be seen to have been predestinated, and Abel, and Enoch, and Noah, and Abraham, and many others. For since with God the order of all, both persons and things, is arranged, many will be said to have been predestinated before this predestination of Christ to glory. And on these terms Christ is discovered to be inferior to other men, although He is really found to be better and greater, and more ancient than the angels themselves. Either, then, let all these things be set on one side, that Christ’s divinity may be destroyed; or if these things cannot be set aside, let His proper divinity be attributed to Christ by the heretics.


Chap. XVII.32

Argument. – It Is, Moreover, Proved by Moses in the Beginning of the Holy Scriptures.

What if Moses pursues this same rule of truth, and delivers to us in the beginning of his sacred writings, this principle by which we may learn that all things were created and rounded by the Son of God, that is, by the Word of God? For He says the same that John and the rest say; nay, both John and the others are perceived to have received from Him what they say. For if John says, “All things were made by Him, and without Him was nothing made,” (Joh_1:3) the prophet David too says, “I tell my works to the King.” (Psa_45:1) Moses, moreover, introduces God commanding that there should be light at the first, that the heaven should be established, that the waters should be gathered into one place, that the dry land should appear, that the fruit should be brought forth according to its seed, that the animals should be produced, that lights should be established in heaven, and stars. He shows that none other was then present to God – by whom these works were commanded that they should be made – than He by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. And if He is the Word of God – ”for my heart has uttered forth a good Word” (Psa_45:1) [As understood by the Father passim. See Justin, vol. 1. p. 213; Theophilus, vol. 2. 98; Tertullian, vol. 3 p. 365; Origen, 4. pp. 352, sec. 5, 421; and Cyprian, p. 516, supra.] – He shows that in the beginning the Word was, and that this Word was with the Father, and besides that the Word was God, and that all things were made by Him. Moreover, this “Word was made flesh and dwelt among us,” (Joh_1:14) – to wit, Christ the Son of God; whom both on receiving subsequently as man according to the flesh, and seeing before the foundation of the world to be the Word of God, and God, we reasonably, according to the instruction of the Old and New Testament, believe and hold to be as well God as man, Christ Jesus. What if the same Moses introduces God saying, “Let us make man after our image and likeness;” (Gen_1:26) and below, “And God made man; in the image of God made He him, male and female made He them?” (Gen_1:27) If, as we have already shown, it is the Son of God by whom all things were made, certainly it was the Son of God by whom also man was ordained, on whose account all things were made. Moreover, when God commands that man should be made, He is said to be God who makes man; but the Son of God makes man, that is to say, the Word of God, “by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made.” And this Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us: therefore Christ is God; therefore man was made by Christ as by the Son of God. But God made man in the image of God; He is therefore God who made man in the image of God; therefore Christ is God: so that with reason neither does the testimony of the Old Testament waver concerning the person of Christ, being supported by the manifestation of the New Testament; nor is the power of the New Testament detracted from, while its truth is resting on the roots of the same Old Testament. Whence they who presume Christ the Son of God and man to be only man, and not God also, do so in opposition to both Old and New Testaments, in that they corrupt the authority and the truth both of the Old and New Testaments. What if the same Moses everywhere introduces God the Father infinite and without end, not as being enclosed in any place, but as one who includes every place; nor as one who is in a place, but rather one in whom every place is, containing all things and embracing all things, so that with reason He can neither descend nor ascend, because He Himself both contains and fills all things, and yet nevertheless introduces God descending to consider the tower which the sons of men were building, asking and saying, “Come;” and then, “Let us go down and there confound their tongues, that each one may not understand the words of his neighbour.” (Gen_11:7) Whom do they pretend here to have been the God who descended to that tower, and asking to visit those men at that time? God the Father? Then thus He is enclosed in a place; and how does He embrace all things? Or does He say that it is an angel descending with angels, and saying, “Come;” and subsequently, “Let us go down and there confound their tongues?” And yet in Deuteronomy we observe that God told these things, and that God said, where it is written, “When He scattered abroad the children of Adam, He determined the bounds of the nations according to the number of the angels of God.” (Deu_32:8)33 Neither, therefore, did the Father descend, as the subject itself indicates; nor did an angel command these things, as the fact shows. Then it remains that He must have descended, of whom the Apostle Paul says, “He who descended is the same who ascended above all the heavens, that He might fill all things,” (Eph_4:10) that is, the Son of God, the Word of God. But the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us. This must be Christ. Therefore Christ must be declared to be God.


Chap. XVIII.34

Argument. – Moreover Also, from the Fact That He Who Was Seen of Abraham Is Called God; Which Cannot Be Understood of the Father, Whom No Man Hath Seen at Any Time; but of the Son in the Likeness of an Angel.

Behold, the same Moses tells us in another place that “God was seen of Abraham.” (Gen_12:7) And yet the same Moses hears from God, that “no man can see God and live.” (Exo_33:20) If God cannot be seen, how was God seen? Or if He was seen, how is it that He cannot be seen? For John also says, “No man hath seen God at any time;” (1Jo_4:12) and the Apostle Paul, “Whom no man hath seen, nor can see.” (1Ti_6:16) But certainly the Scripture does not lie; therefore, truly, God was seen. Whence it may be understood that it was not the Father who was seen, seeing that He never was seen; but the Son, who has both been accustomed to descend, and to be seen because He has descended. For He is the image of the invisible God, as the imperfection and frailty of the human condition was accustomed sometimes even then to see God the Father in the image of God, that is, in the Son of God. For gradually and by progression human frailty was to be strengthened by the image to that glory of being able one day to see God the Father. For the things that are great are dangerous if they are sudden. For even the sudden light of the sun after darkness, with its too great splendour, will not make manifest the light of day to unaccustomed eyes, but will rather strike them with blindness.

And lest this should occur to the injury of human eyes, the darkness is broken up and scattered by degrees; and the rising of that luminary, mounting by small and unperceived increments, gently accustoms men’s eyes to bear its full orb by the gentle increase of its rays. Thus, therefore, Christ also – that is, the image of God, and the Son of God – is looked upon by men, inasmuch as He could be seen. And thus the weakness and imperfection of the human destiny is nourished, led up, and educated by Him; so that, being accustomed to look upon the Son, it may one day be able to see God the Father Himself also as He is, that it may not be stricken by His sudden and intolerable brightness, and be hindered from being able to see God the Father, whom it has always desired.35 Wherefore it is the Son who is seen; but the Son of God is the Word of God: and the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and this is Christ. What in the world is the reason that we should hesitate to call Him God, who in so many ways is acknowledged to be proved God? And if, moreover, the angel meets with Hagar, Sarah’s maid, driven from her home as well as turned away, near the fountain of water in the way to Shur; asks and learns the reason of her flight, and after that offers her advice that she should humble herself; and, moreover, gives her the hope of the name of mother, and pledges and promises that from her womb there should be a numerous seed, and that she should have Ismael to be born from her; and with other things unfolds the place of his habitation, and describes his mode of life; yet Scripture sets forth this angel as both Lord and God – for He would not have promised the blessing of seed unless the angel had also been God. Let them ask what the heretics can make of this present passage. Was that the Father that was seen by Hagar or not? For He is declared to be God. But far be it from us to call God the Father an angel, lest He should be subordinate to another whose angel He would be. But they will say that it was an angel. How then shall He be God if He was an angel? Since this name is nowhere conceded to angels, except that on either side the truth compels us into this opinion, that we ought to understand it to have been God the Son, who, because He is of God, is rightly called God, because He is the Son of God. But, because He is subjected36 to the Father, and the Announcer of the Father’s will, He is declared to be the Angel of Great Counsel.37 Therefore, although this passage neither is suited to the person of the Father, lest He should be called an angel, nor to the person of an angel, lest he should be called God; yet it is suited to the person of Christ that He should be both God because He is the Son of God, and should be an angel because He is the Announcer of the Father’s mind. And the heretics ought to understand that they are setting themselves against the Scriptures, in that, while they say that they believe Christ to have been also an angel, they are unwilling to declare Him to have been also God, when they read in the Old Testament that He often came to visit the human race. To this, moreover, Moses added the instance of God seen of Abraham at the oak of Mature, when he was sitting at the opening of his tent at noon-day. And nevertheless, although he had beheld three men, note that he called one of them Lord; and when he had washed their feet, he offers them bread baked on the ashes, with butter and abundance of milk itself, and urges them that, being detained as guests, they should eat. And after I this he hears also that he should be a father, and learns that Sarah his wife should bring forth a son by him; and acknowledges concerning the destruction of the people of Sodom, what they deserve to suffer; and learns that God had come down on account of the cry of Sodom. in which place, if they will have it that the Father was seen at that time to have been received with hospitality in company with two angels, the heretics have believed the Father to be visible. But if an angel, although of the three angels one is called Lord, why, although it is not usual, is an angel called God? Unless because, in order that His proper invisibility may be restored to the Father, and the proper inferiority36 be remitted to the angel, it was only God the Son, who also is God, who was seen by Abraham, and was believed to have been received with hospitality. For He anticipated sacramentally what He was hereafter to become. He was made a guest of Abraham, being about to be among the sons of Abraham. And his children’s feet, by way of proving what He was, He washed; returning in the children the claim of hospitality which formerly the Father had put out to interest to Him. Whence also, that there might be no doubt but that it was He who was the guest of Abraham on the destruction of the people of Sodom, it is declared: “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrha fire and brimstone from the Lord out of heaven.” (Gen_19:24) For thus also said the prophet in the person of God: “I have overthrown you, as the Lord overturned Sodom and Gomorrha.” (Amo_4:11) Therefore the Lord overturned Sodom, that is, God overturned Sodom; but in the overturning of Sodom, the Lord rained fire from the Lord. And this Lord was the God seen by Abraham; and this God was the guest of Abraham, certainly seen because He was also touched. But although the Father, being invisible, was assuredly not at that time seen, He who was accustomed to be touched and seen was seen and received to hospitality. But this the Son of God, “The Lord rained from the Lord upon Sodom and Gomorrha brimstone and fire.” And this is the Word of God. And the Word of God was made flesh, and dwelt among us; and this is Christ. It was not the Father, then, who was a guest with Abraham, but Christ. Nor was it the Father who was seen then, but the Son; and Christ was seen. Rightly, therefore, Christ is both Lord and God, who was not otherwise seen by Abraham, except that as God the Word He was begotten of God the Father before Abraham himself. Moreover, says the Scripture, the same Angel and God visits and consoles the same Hagar when driven with her son from the dwelling of Abraham. For when in the desert she had exposed the infant, because the water had fallen short from the pitcher; and when the lad had cried out, and she had lifted up her weeping and lamentation, “God heard,” says the Scripture, “the voice of the lad from the place where he was.” (Gen_21:17, etc.) Having told that it was God who heard the voice of the infant, it adds: “And the angel of the Lord called Hagar herself out of heaven,” saying that that was an angel37 whom it had called God, and pronouncing Him to be Lord whom it had set forth as an angel; which Angel and God moreover promises to Hagar herself greater consolations, in saying, “Fear not; for I have heard the voice of the lad from the place where he was. Arise, take up the lad, and hold him; for I will make of him a great nation.” (Gen_21:18) Why does this angel, if angel only, claim to himself this right of saying, I will make of him a great nation, since assuredly this kind of power belongs to God, and cannot belong to an angel? Whence also He is confirmed to be God, since He is able to do this; because, by way of proving this very point, it is immediately added by the Scripture: “And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of running water; and she went and filled the bottle from the well, and gave to the lad: and God was with the lad.” (Gen_21:20) If, then, this God was with the Lord, who opened the eyes of Hagar that she might see the well of running water, and might draw the water on account of the urgent need of the lad’s thirst, and this God who calls her from heaven is called an angel when, in previously hearing the voice of the lad crying, He was rather God; is not understood to be other than angel, in like manner as He was God also. And since this cannot be applicable or fitting to the Father, who is God only, but may be applicable to Christ, who is declared to be not only God, but angel also, [see vol. 1. p. 184] it manifestly appears that it was not the Father who thus spoke to Hagar, but rather Christ, since He is God; and to Him also is applied the name of angel, since He became the “angel of great counsel.” (Isa_9:6, LXX) And He is the angel, in that He declares the bosom of the Father, as John sets forth. For if John himself says, that He Himself who sets forth the bosom of the Father, as the Word, became flesh in order to declare the bosom of the Father, assuredly Christ is not only man, but angel also; and not only angel, but He is shown by the Scriptures to be Cod also. And this is believed to be the case by us; so that, if we will not consent to apprehend that it was Christ who then spoke to Hagar, we must either make an angel God, or we must reckon God the Father Almighty among the angels. [Among the apparitions are noted Gen_32:24, Exo_3:1-22, Num_22:21, Jos_5:13, 1 Kings 28:11]


Chap. XIX.38

Argument. – That God also Appeared to Jacob as an Angel; Namely, the Son of God.

What if in another place also we read in like manner that God was described as an angel? For when, to his wives Leah and Rachel, Jacob complained of the injustice of their father, and when he told them that he desired now to go and return into his own land, he moreover inter posed the authority of his dream; and at this time he says that the angel of God had said to him in a dream, “Jacob, Jacob. And I said,” says he, “What is it? Lift up thine eyes, said He, and see, the he-goats and the rams leaping upon the sheep, and the she-goats are black and white, and many-coloured, and grizzled, and speckled: for I have seen all that Laban hath done to thee. I am God, who appeared to thee in the place of God, where thou anointedst for me there the standing stone, and there vowedst a vow unto me: now therefore arise, and go forth from this land, and go unto the land of thy nativity, and I will be with thee.” (Gen_31:11-13) If the Angel of God speaks thus to Jacob, and the Angel himself mentions and says, “I am God, who appeared unto thee in the house of God,” we see without any hesitation that this is declared to be not only an angel, but God also; because He speaks of the vow directed to Himself by Jacob in the place of God, and He does not say, in my place. It is then the place of God, and He also is God. Moreover, it is written simply in the place of God, for it is not said in the place of the angel and God, but only of God; and He who promises those things is manifested to be both God and Angel, so that reasonably there must be a distinction between Him who is called God only, and Him who is declared to be not God simply, but Angel also. Whence if so great an authority cannot here be regarded as belonging to any other angel, that He should also avow Himself to be God, and should bear witness that a vow was made to Him, except to Christ alone, to whom not as angel only, but as to God, a vow can be vowed; it is manifest that it is not to be received as the Father, but as the Son, God and Angel.39 Moreover, if this is Christ, as it is, he is in terrible risk who says that Christ is either man or angel alone, withholding from Him the power of the divine name, – an authority which He has constantly received on the faith of the heavenly Scriptures, which continually say that He is both Angel and God. To all these things, moreover, is added this, that in like manner as the divine Scripture has frequently declared Him both Angel and God, so the same divine Scripture declares Him also both man and God, expressing thereby what He should be, and depicting even then in figure what He was to be in the truth of His substance. “For,” it says, “Jacob remained alone; and there wrestled with him a man even till daybreak. And He saw that He did not prevail against him; and He touched the broad part of Jacob’s thigh while He was wrestling with him and he with Him, and said to him, Let me go, for the morning has dawned. And he said, I will not let Thee go, except Thou bless me. And He said, What is thy name? And he said, Jacob. And He said to him, Thy name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name; because thou hast prevailed with God, and thou an powerful with men.” (Gen_32:24-27) [vol. 4. p. 390, sec. 10, this series.] And it adds, moreover: “And Jacob called the name of that place the Vision of God: for I have seen the Lord face to face, and my soul has been made safe. And the sun arose upon him. Afterwards he crossed over the Vision of God, but he halted upon his thigh.” (Gen_32:30, Gen_32:31) A man, it says, wrestled with Jacob. If this was a mere man, who is he? Whence is he? Wherefore does he contend and wrestle with Jacob? What had intervened? What had happened? What was the cause of so great a dispute as that, and so great a struggle? Why, moreover, is Jacob, who is found to be strong enough to hold the man with whom he is wrestling, and asks for a blessing from Him whom he is holding, asserted to have asked therefore, except because this struggle was prefigured as that which should be between Christ and the sons of Jacob, which is said to be completed in the Gospel? For against this man Jacob’s people struggled, in which struggle Jacob’s people was found to be the more powerful, because against Christ it gained the victory of its iniquity: at which time, on account of the crime that it committed, hesitating and giving way, it began most sorely to halt in the walk of its own faith and salvation; and although it was found the stronger, in respect of the condemnation of Christ, it still needs His mercy, still needs His blessing. But, moreover, the man who wrestled with Jacob says, “Moreover, thy name shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel shall be thy name;” and if lsrael is the man who sees God, the Lord was beautifully showing that it was not only a man who was then wrestling with Jacob, but God also. Certainly Jacob saw God, with whom he wrestled, although he was holding the man in his own struggle. And in order that there might still be no hesitation, He Himself laid down the interpretation by saying, “Because thou hast prevailed with God, and art powerful with men.” For which reason the same Jacob, perceiving already the force of the Mystery, and apprehending the authority of Him with whom he had wrestled, called the name of that place in which he had wrestled, the Vision of God. He, moreover, superadded the reason for his interpretation being offered of the Vision of God: “For I have seen,” said he, “God face to face, and my soul has been saved.” Moreover, he saw God, with whom he wrestled as with a man; but still indeed he held the man as a conqueror, though as an inferior he asked a blessing as from God. Thus he wrestled with God and with man; and thus truly was that struggle prefigured, and in the Gospel was fulfilled, between Christ and the people of Jacob, wherein, although the people had the mastery, yet it proved to be inferior by being shown to be guilty. Who will hesitate to acknowledge that Christ, in whom this type of a wrestling was fulfilled, was not man only, but God also, since even that very type of a wrestling seems to have proved Him man and God? And yet, even after this, the same divine Scripture justly does not cease to call the Angel God, and to pronounce God the Angel. For when this very Jacob was about to bless Manasseh and Ephraim, the sons of Joseph, with his hands placed across on the heads of the lads, he said, “The God which fed me from my youth even unto this day, the Angel who delivered me from all evils, bless these lads.” (Gen_48:14, Gen_48:15) Even to such a point does he affirm the same Being to be an Angel, whom he had called God, as in the end of his discourse, to express the person of whom he was speaking as one, when he said40 “bless these lads.” For if he had meant the one to be understood as God, and the other as an angel, he would have comprised the two persons in the plural number; but now he defined the singular number of one person in the blessing, whence he meant it to be understood that the same person is God and Angel. But yet He cannot be received as God the Father; but as God and Angel, as Christ He can be received. And Him, as the author of this blessing, Jacob also signified by placing his hands crossed upon the lads, as if their father was Christ, and showing, from thus placing his hands, the figure and future form of the passion.41 Let no one, therefore, who does not shrink from speaking of Christ as an Angel, thus shrink from pronouncing Him God also, when he perceives that He Himself was invoked in the blessing of these lads, by the sacrament of the passion, intimated in the type of the crossed hands, as both God and Angel.


Chap. XX.42

Argument. – It Is Proved from the Scriptures That Christ Was Called an Angel. But yet It Is Shown from Other Parts of Holy Scripture That He Is God Also.

But if some heretic, obstinately struggling against the truth, should persist in all these instances either in understanding that Christ was properly an angel, or should contend that He must be so understood, he must in this respect also be subdued by the force of truth. For if, since all heavenly things, earthly things, and things under the earth, are subjected to Christ, even the angels themselves, with all other creatures, as many as are subjected to Christ, are called gods, [Psa_97:7; Joh_10:36; Hippol., p. 153, supra.] rightly also Christ is God. And if any angel at all subjected to Christ can be called God, and this, if it be said, is also professed without blasphemy, certainly much more can this be fitting for Christ, Himself the Son of God, for Him to be pronounced God. For if an angel who is subjected to Christ is exalted as God, much more, and more consistently, shall Christ, to whom all angels are subjected, be said to be God. For it is not suitable to nature, that what is conceded to the lesser should be denied to the greater. Thus, if an angel be inferior to Christ, and yet an angel is called god, rather by consequence is Christ said to be God, who is discovered to be both greater and better, not than one, but than all angels. And if “God standeth in the assembly of the gods, and in the midst God distinguisheth between the gods,” (Psa_82:1, Psa_82:2, etc.) and Christ stood at various times in the synagogue, then Christ stood in the synagogue as God, – judging, to wit, between the gods, to whom He says, “How long do ye accept the persons of men?” That is to say, consequently, charging the men of the synagogue with not practising just judgments. Further, if they who are reproved and blamed seem even for any reason to attain this name without blasphemy, that they should be called gods, assuredly much more shall He be esteemed God, who not only is said to have stood as God in the synagogue of the gods, but moreover is revealed by the same authority of the reading as distinguishing and judging between gods. But even if they who “fall like one of the princes” are still called gods, much rather shall He be said to be God, who not only does not fall like one of the princes, but even overcomes both the author and prince of wickedness himself. And what in the world is the reason, that although they say that this name was given even to Moses, since it is said, “I have made thee as a god to Pharaoh,” (Exo_7:1) it should be denied to Christ, who is declared to be ordained43 not to Pharaoh only, but to every creature, as both Lord and God? And in the former case indeed this name is given with reserve, in the latter lavishly; in the former by measure, in the latter above all kind of measure: “For,” it is said, “the Father giveth not to the Son by measure, for the Father loveth the Son.” (Joh_3:34, Joh_3:35) In the former for the time, in the latter without reference to time; [Rev_11:15] for He received the power of the divine name, both above all things and for all time. But if he who has received the power of one man, in respect to this limited power given him, still without hesitation attains that name of God, how much more shall He who has power over Moses himself as well be believed to have attained the authority of that name?


Chap. XXI.44

Argument. – That the Same Divine Majesty Is Again Confirmed in Christ by Other Scriptures.

And indeed I could set forth the treatment of this subject by all heavenly Scriptures, and set in motion, so to speak, a perfect forest of texts concerning that manifestation of the divinity of Christ, except that I have not so much undertaken to speak against this special form of heresy, as to expound the rule of truth concerning the person of Christ. Although, however, I must hasten to other matters, I do not think that I must pass over this point, that in the Gospel the Lord declared, by way of signifying His majesty, saying, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will build it up again.” (Joh_2:19) Or when, in another passage, and on another subject, He declares, “I have power to lay down my life, and again to take it up; for this commandment I have received of my Father.” (Joh_10:18) Now who is it who says that He can lay down His life, or can Himself recover His life again, because He has received it of His Father? Or who says that He can again resuscitate and rebuild the destroyed temple of His body, except because He is the Word who is from the Father, who is with the Father, “by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made;” (Joh_1:3) the imitator45 of His Father’s works and powers, “the image of the invisible God ;” (Col_1:5) “who came down from heaven;” (Joh_3:31, Joh_3:32) who testified what things he had seen and heard; who “came not to do His own will, but rather to do the will of the Father,” (Joh_4:38) by whom He had been sent for this very purpose, that being made the “Messenger of Great Counsel,” (Isa_9:6) He might unfold to us the laws of the heavenly mysteries; and who as the Word made flesh dwelt among us, of us this Christ is proved to be not man only, because He was the son of man, but also God, because He is the Son of God? And if by the apostle Christ is called “the first-born of every creature,” (Col_1:15)46 how could He be the first-born of every creature, unless because according to His divinity the Word proceeded from the Father before every creature? And unless the heretics receive it thus, they will be constrained to show that Christ the man was the first-born of every creature; which they will not be able to do. Either, therefore, He is before every creature, that He may be the first-born of every creature, and He is not man only, because man is after every creature; or He is man only, and He is after every creature. And how is He the first-born of every creature, except because being that Word which is before every creature; and therefore, the first-born of every creature, He becomes flesh and dwells in us, that is, assumes that man’s nature which is after every creature, and so dwells with him and in him, in us, that neither is humanity taken away from Christ, nor His divinity denied? For if He is only before every creature, humanity is taken away from Him; but if He is only man, the divinity which is before every creature is interfered with. Both of these, therefore, are leagued together in Christ, and both are conjoined, and both are linked with one another. And rightly, as there is in Him something which excels the creature, the agreement of the divinity and the humanity seems to be pledged in Him: for which reason He who is declared as made the “Mediator between God and man” (1Ti_2:5) is revealed to have associated in Himself God and man. And if the same apostle says of Christ, that “having put off the flesh, He spoiled powers, they being openly triumphed over in Himself,” (Col_2:15) he certainly did not without a meaning propound that the flesh was put off, unless because he wished it to be understood that it was again put on also at the resurrection. Who, therefore, is He that thus put off and put on the flesh? Let the heretics seek out. For we know that the Word of God was invested with the substance of flesh, and that He again was divested of the same bodily material, which again He took up in the resurrection and resumed as a garment. And yet Christ could neither have been divested of nor invested with manhood, had He been only man: for man is never either deprived of nor invested with himself. For that must be something else, whatever it may be, which by any other is either taken away or put on. Whence, reasonably, it was the Word of God who put off the flesh, and again in the resurrection put it on, since He put it off because at His birth He had been invested with it. Therefore in Christ it is God who is invested, and moreover must be divested, because He who is invested must also likewise be He who is divested; whereas, as man, He is invested with and divested of, as it were, a certain tunic of the compacted body.47 And therefore by consequence He was, as we have said, the Word of God, who is revealed to be at one time invested, at another time divested of the flesh. For this, moreover, He before predicted in blessings: “He shall wash His garment in wine, and His clothing in the blood of the grape.” (Gen_49:11) If the garment in Christ be the flesh, and the clothing itself be the body, let it be asked who is He whose body is clothing, and garment flesh? For to us it is evident that the flesh is the garment, and the body the clothing of the Word; and He washed His bodily substance, and purified the material of the flesh in blood, that is, in wine, by His passion, in the human character that He had undertaken. Whence, if indeed He is washed, He is man, because the garment which is washed is the flesh; but He who washes is the Word of God, who, in order that He might wash the garment, was made the taker-up of the garment. Rightly, from that substance which is taken that it might be washed, He is revealed as a man, even as from the authority of the Word who washed it He is manifested to be God.





27 [Note this exposition.]

28 According to Pamelius, ch. xxiii.

29 “Dispositione,” scil. οἰκονομίᾳ – Jackson.

30 According to Pamelius, ch. xxiv.

31 [That is, “the prescribed rule” of our Catholic orthodoxy reflects the formula of our Lord’s testimony concerning Himself. Here is a reference to testimony of the early creeds and canons.]

32 According to Pamelius, ch. xxv.

33 [ἔστησεν ὁρια ἐθνῶν κατὰ ἀριθμὸν ἀγγέλων Θεοῦ, Sept.]

34 According to Pamelius, ch. xxvi.

35 [This leading up and educating of humanity to “see God” is here admirably put. Heb_1:3]

36 [De subordinatione, etc.: Bull, Defensio, etc., vol. v. pp. 767, 685. The Nicene doctrine includes the subordination of the Son.]

37 [Isa_9:6, according to the Seventy. Exo_23:20. See Bull, Defensio, vol. v. p. 30. Comp. Hippol., p. 225, supra; Novatian, p. 632, infra.]

38 According to Pamelius, ch. xxvii.

39 [Sirach 5:6. A striking text when compared with the “Angel of the Covenant” (Angelus Testamenti, Vulgate), Mal_3:1]

40 Benedicat.

41 [A very beautiful patristic idea of the dim vision of the cross to which the Fathers were admitted, but which they understood not, even when they predicted it. 1 Peter 10:11.]

42 According to Pamelius, ch. xv.

43 [The full meaning of which only comes out in the Gospel and in 2Pe_1:4. The lie of Gen_3:5, is made true in Christ.]

44 According to Pamelius, ch. xvi.

45 [Joh_5:19. The infirmities of language are such that cunning men like Petavius can construct anti-Nicene doctrine out of scripture itself; and the marvel is, that the Christian Fathers before the Council of Nicaea generally use such precision of language, although they lacked the synodical definitions.]

46 [But not a creature, for the apostle immediately subjoins that He is the Creator and final Cause of the universe. Moreover, the first-born here seems to mean the heir of all creation, for such is the logical force of the verse following. So, πρωτοτοκεῖα (in the Seventy) = heirship. Gen_25:31.]

47 Perhaps the emendation homine instead of homo is right. “He puts on and puts off humanity, as if it were a kind of tunic for a compacted body.”