GREGORY OF NYSSA
ANSWER TO EUNOMIUS'
SECOND BOOK
PART 1

THE first part of my contentions against Eunomius has with God's help been sufficiently established in the preceding work, as all who will may see from what I have worked out, how in that former part his fallacy has been completely exposed, and its falsehood has no further force against the truth, except in the case of those who show a very shameless animus against her. But since, like some robber's ambuscade, he has got together a second work against orthodoxy, again with God's help the truth takes up arms through me against the array of her enemies, commanding my arguments like a general and directing them at her pleasure against the foe; following whose steps I shall boldly venture on the second part of my contentions, nothing daunted by the array of falsehood, notwithstanding its display of numerous arguments. For faithful is He who has promised that "a thousand shall be chased by one," and that "ten thousand shall be put to flight by two"(2), victory in battle being due not to numbers, but to righteousness. For even as bulky Goliath, when he shook against the Israelites that ponderous spear we read of, inspired no fear in his opponent, though a shepherd and unskilled in the tactics of war, but having met him in fight loses his own head by a direct reversal of his expectations, so our Goliath, the champion of this alien system, stretching forth his blasphemy against his opponents as though his hand were on a naked sword, and flashing the while with sophisms fresh from his whetstone, has failed to inspire us, though no soldiers, with any fear of his prowess, or to find himself free to exult in the dearth of adversaries; on the contrary, he has found us warriors improvised from the Lord's sheepfold, untaught in logical warfare, and thinking it no detriment to be so, but simply slinging our plain, rude argument of truth against him. Since then, that shepherd who is in the record, when he had cast down the alien with his sling, and broken his helmet with the stone, so that it gaped under the violence of the blow, did not confine his valour to gazing on his fallen foe, but running in upon him, and depriving him of his head, returns bearing it as a trophy to his people, parading that braggart head through the host of his countrymen; looking to this example it becomes us also to advance nothing daunted to the second part of our labours, but as far as possible to imitate David's valour, and, like him, after the first blow to plant our foot upon the fallen foe, so that enemy of the truth may be exhibited as much as possible as a headless trunk. For separated as he is from the true faith he is far more truly beheaded than that Philistine. For since Christ is the head of every man, as saith the Apostle(3), and it is only reasonable that the believer alone should be so termed (for Christ, I take it, cannot be the head of the unbelieving also), it follows that he who is severed from the saving faith must be headless like Goliath, being severed from the true head by his own sword which he had whetted against the truth; which head it shall be our task not to cut off, but to show that it is cut off.

And let no one suppose that it is through pride or desire of human reputation that I go down to this truceless and implacable warfare to engage with the foe. For if it were allowed me to pass a peaceful life meddling with no one, it would be far enough from my disposition to wantonly disturb my tranquillity, by voluntarily provoking and stirring up a war against myself. But now that God's city, the Church, is besieged, and the great wall of the faith is shaken, battered by the encircling engines of heresy, and there is no small risk of the word of the Lord being swept into captivity through their devilish onslaught, deeming it a dreadful thing to decline taking part in the Christian conflict, I have not turned aside to repose, but have looked on the sweat of toil as more honourable than the relaxation of repose, knowing well that just as every man, as saith the Apostle, shall receive his own reward(4) according to his own labour, so as a matter of course he shall receive punishment for neglect of labour proportioned to his strength. Accordingly I supported the first encounter in the discussion with good courage, discharging from my shepherd's scrip, i.e. from the teaching of the Church, my natural and unpremeditated arguments for the subversion of this blasphemy, needing not at all the equipment of arguments from profane sources to qualify me for the contest; and now also I do not hang back from the second part of the encounter, fixing my hope like great David(5) on Him "Who teacheth my hands to war, and my fingers to fight," if haply the hand of the writer may in my case also be guided by Divine power to the overthrow of these heretical opinions, and my fingers may serve for the overthrow of their malignant array by directing my argument with skill and precision against the foe. But as in human conflicts those who excel in valour and might, secured by their armour and having previously acquired military skill by their training for facing danger, station themselves at the head of their column, encountering danger for those ranged behind them, while the rest of the company, though serving only to give an appearance of numbers, seem nevertheless, if only by their serried shields, to conduce to the common good, so in these our conflicts that noble soldier of Christ and vehement champion against the aliens, the mighty spiritual warrior Basil--equipped as he is with the whole armour described by the Apostle, and secured by the shield of faith, and ever holding before him that weapon of defence, the sword of the spirit--fights in the van of the Lord's host by his elaborated argument against this heresy, alive and resisting and prevailing over the foe, while we the common herd, sheltering ourselves beneath the shield of that champion of the faith, shall not hold back from any conflicts within the compass of our power, according as our captain may lead us on against the foe. As he, then, in his refutation of the false and untenable opinion maintained by this heresy, affirms that "ungenerate" cannot be predicated of God except as a mere notion or conception, whereof he has adduced proofs supported by common sense and the evidence of Scripture, while Eunomius, the author of the heresy, neither falls in with his statements nor is able to overturn them, but in his conflict with the truth, the more clearly the light of true doctrine shines forth, the more, like nocturnal creatures, does he shun the light, and, no longer able to find the sophistical hiding-places to which he is accustomed, he wanders about at random, and getting into the labyrinth of falsehood goes round and round in the same, place, almost the whole of his second treatise being taken up with this empty trifling--it is well accordingly that our battle with those opposed to us should take place on the same ground whereon our champion by his own treatise has been our leader.

First of all, however, I think it advisable to run briefly over our own doctrinal views and our opponent's disagreement with them, so that our review of the propositions in question may proceed methodically. Now the main point of Christian orthodoxy(6) is to believe that the Only-begotten God, Who is the truth and the true light, and the power of God and the life, is truly all that He is said to be, both in other respects and especially in this, that He is God and the truth, that is to say, God in truth, ever being what He is conceived to be and what He is called, Who never at any time was not, nor ever will cease to be, Whose being, such as it is essentially, is beyond the reach of the curiosity that would try to comprehend it. But to us, as saith the word of Wisdom,(7) He makes Himself known that He is "by the greatness and beauty of His creatures proportionately" to the things that are known, vouchsafing to us the gift of faith by the operations of His hands, but not the comprehension of what He is. Whereas, then, such is the opinion prevailing among all Christians, (such at least as are truly worthy of the appellation, those, I mean, who have been taught by the law to worship nothing that is not very God, and by that very act of worship confess that the Only-begotten is God in truth, and not a God falsely so called,) there arose this deadly blight of the Church, bringing barrenness on the holy seeds of the faith, advocating as it does the errors of Judaism, and partaking to a certain extent in the impiety of the Greeks. For in its figment of a created God it advocates the error of the Greeks, and in not accepting the Son it supports that of the Jews. This school, then, which would do away with the very Godhead of the Lord and teach men to conceive of Him as a created being, and not that which the Father is in essence and power and dignity, since these misty ideas find no support when exposed on all sides to the light of truth, have overlooked all those names supplied by Scripture for the glorification of God, and predicated in like manner of the Father and of the Son, and have betaken themselves to the word "ungenerate," a term fabricated by themselves to throw contempt on the greatness of the Only-begotten God. For whereas an orthodox confession teaches us to believe in the Only-begotten God so that all men should honour the Son even as they honour the Father, these men, rejecting the orthodox terms whereby the greatness of the Son is signified as on a par with the dignity of the Father, draw from thence the beginnings and foundations of their heresy in regard to His Divinity. For as the Only-begotten God, as the voice of the Gospel teaches, came forth from the Father and is of Him, misrepresenting this doctrine by a change of terms, they make use of them to rend the true faith in pieces. For whereas the truth teaches that the Father is from no pre-existing cause, these men have given to such a view the name of "ungeneracy," and signify the substance of the Only-begotten from the Father by the term "generation,"--then comparing the two terms "ungenerate" and "generate" as contradictories to each other, they make use of the opposition to mislead their senseless followers. For, to make the matter clearer by an illustration, the expressions, He was generated and He was not generated, are much the same as, He is seated and He is not seated, and all such-like expressions. But they, forcing these expressions away from the natural significance of the terms, are eager to put another meaning upon them with a view to the subversion of orthodoxy. For whereas, as has been said, the words "is seated" and "is not seated" are not equivalent in meaning (the one expression being contradictory of the other), they pretend that this formal contradiction in expression indicates an essential difference, ascribing generation to the Son and non-generation to the Father as their essential attributes. Yet, as it is impossible to regard a man's sitting down or not as the essence of the man (for one would not use the same definition for a man's sitting as for the man himself), so, by the analogy of the above example, the non-generated essence is in its inherent idea something wholly different from the thing expressed by "not having been generated." But our opponents, with an eye to their evil object, that of establishing their denial of the Godhead of the Only-begotten, do not say that the essence of the Father is ungenerate, but, conversely, they declare ungeneracy to be His essence, in order that by this distinction in regard to generation they may establish, by the verbal opposition, a diversity of natures. In the direction of impiety they look with ten thousand eyes, but with regard to the impracticability of their own contention they are as incapable of vision as men who deliberately close their eyes. For who but one whose mental optics are utterly purblind can fail to discern the loose and unsubstantial character of the principle of their doctrine, and that their argument in support of ungeneracy as an essence has thing to stand upon? For this is the way in which their error would establish itself.

But to the best of my ability I will raise my voice to rebut our enemies' argument. They say that God is declared to be without generation, that the Godhead is by nature simple, and that which is simple admits of no composition. If, then, God Who is declared to be without generation is by His nature without composition, His title of Ungenerate must belong to His very nature, and that nature is identical with ungeneracy. To whom we reply that the terms incomposite and ungenerate are not the same thing, for the former represents the simplicity of the subject, the other its being without origin, and these expressions are not convertible in meaning, though both are predicated of one subject. But from the appellation of Ungenerate we have been taught that He Who is so named is without origin, and from the appellation of simple that He is free from all admixture (or composition), and these terms cannot be substituted for each other. There is therefore no necessity that, because the Godhead is by its nature simple, that nature should be termed ungeneracy; but in that He is indivisible and without composition, He is spoken of as simple, while in that He was not generated, He is spoken of as ungenerate.

Now if the term ungenerate did not signify the being without origin, but the idea of simplicity entered into the meaning of such a term, and He were called ungenerate in their heretical sense, merely because He is simple and incomposite, and if the terms simple and ungenerate are the same in meaning, then too must the simplicity of the Son be equivalent with ungeneracy. For they will not deny that God the Only-begotten is by His nature simple, unless they are prepared to deny that He is God. Accordingly the term simplicity will in its meaning have no such connection with being ungenerate as that, by reason of its incomposite character, His nature should be termed ungeneracy; or they draw upon themselves one of two absurd alternatives, either denying the Godhead of the Only-begotten, or attributing ungeneracy to Him also. For if God is simple, and the term simplicity is, according to them, identical with ungenerate, they must either make out the Son to be of composite nature, by which term it is implied that neither is He God, or if they allow His Godhead, and God (as I have said) is simple, then they make Him out at the same time to be ungenerate, if the terms simple and ungenerate are convertible. But to make my meaning clearer I will recapitulate. We affirm that each of these terms has its own peculiar meaning, and that the term indivisible cannot be rendered by ungenerate, nor ungenerate by simple; but by simple we understand uncom-pounded, and by ungenerate we are taught to understand what is without origin. Furthermore we hold that we are bound to believe that the Son of God, being Himself God, is Himself also simple, because God is free from all compositeness; and in like manner in speaking of Him also by the appellation of Son we neither denote simplicity of substance, nor in simplicity do we include the notion of Son, but the term Son we hold to indicate that He is of the substance of the Father, and the term simple we hold to mean what the word bears upon its face. Since, then, the meaning of the term simple in regard to essence is one and the same whether spoken of the Father or of the Son, differing in no degree, while there is a wide difference between generate and ungenerate (the one containing a notion not contained in the other), for this reason we assert that there is no necessity that, the Father being ungenerate, His essence should, because that essence is simple, be defined by the term ungenerate. For neither of the Son, Who is simple, and Whom also we believe to be generated, do we say that His essence is simplicity. But as the essence is simple and not simplicity, so also the essence is ungenerate and not ungeneracy. In like manner also the Son being generated, our reason is freed from any necessity that, because His essence is simple, we should define that essence as generateness; but here again each expression has its peculiar force. For the term generated suggests to you a source whence, and the term simple implies freedom from composition. But this does not approve itself to them. For they maintain that since the essence of the Father is simple, it cannot be considered as other than ungeneracy; on which account also He is said to be ungenerate. In answer to whom we may also observe that, since they call the Father both Creator and Maker, whereas He Who is so called is simple in regard to His essence, if is high time for such sophists to declare the essence of the Father to be creation and making, since the argument about simplicity introduces into His essence any signification of any name we give Him. Either, then, let them separate ungeneracy from the definition of the Divine essence, allowing the term no more than its proper signification, or, if by reason of the simplicity of the subject they define His essence by the term ungeneracy, by a parity of reasoning let them likewise see creation and making in the essence of the Father, not as though the power residing in the essence created and made, but as though the power itself meant creation and making. But if they reject this as bad and absurd, let them be persuaded by what logically follows to reject the other proposition as well. For as the essence of the builder is not the thing built, no more is ungeneracy the essence of the Ungenerate. But for the sake of clearness and conciseness I will restate my arguments. If the Father is called ungenerate, not by reason of His having never been generated, but because His essence is simple and incomposite, by a parity of reasoning the Son also must be called ungenerate, for He too is a simple and incomposite essence. But if we are compelled to confess the Son to be generated because He was generated, it is manifest that we must address the Father as ungenerate, because He was not generated. But if we are compelled to this conclusion by truth and the force of our premises, it is clear that the term ungenerate is no part of the essence, but is indicative of a difference of conceptions, distinguishing that which is generated from that which is ungenerate. But let us discuss this point also in addition to what I have said. If they affirm that the term ungenerate signifies the essence(8) (of the Father), and not that He has His substance without origin, what term will they use to denote the Father's being without origin, when they have set aside the term ungenerate to indicate His essence? For if we are not taught the distinguishing difference of the Persons by the term ungenerate, but are to regard it as indicating His very nature as flowing in a manner from the subject-matter, and disclosing what we seek in articulate syllables, it must follow that God is not, or is not to be called, ungenerate, there being no word left to express such peculiar significance in regard to Him. For inasmuch as according to them the term ungenerate does not mean without origin, but indicates the Divine nature, their argument will be found to exclude it altogether, and the term ungenerate slips out of their teaching in respect to God. For there being no other word or term to represent that the Father is ungenerate, and that term signifying, according to their fallacious argument, something else, and not that He was not generated, their whole argument falls and collapses into Sabellianism. For by this reasoning we must hold the Father to be identical with the Son, the distinction between generated and ungenerate having been got rid of from their teaching, so that they are driven to one of two alternatives: either they must again adopt the view of the term as denoting a difference in the attributes proper to either Person, and not as denoting the nature, or, abiding by their conclusions as to the word, they must side with Sabellius. For it is impossible that the difference of the persons should be without confusion, unless there be a distinction between generated and ungenerate. Accordingly if the term denotes difference, essence will in no way be denoted by the appellation. For the definitions of difference and essence are by no means the same. But if they divert the meaning of the word so as to signify nature, they must be drawn into the heresy of those who are called "Son-Fathers(9)," all accuracy of definition in regard to the Persons being rejected from their account. But if they say that there is nothing to hinder the distinction between generated and ungenerate from being rendered by the term ungenerate, and that term represents the essence too, let them distinguish for us the kindred meanings of the word, so that the notion of ungenerate may properly apply to either of them taken by itself. For the expression of the difference by means of this term involves no ambiguity, consisting as it does of a verbal opposition. For as an equivalent to saying "The Son has, and the Father has not, been generated," we too assent to the statement that the latter is ungenerate and the former generated, by a sort of verbal correlation. But from what point of view a clear manifestation of essence can be made by this appellation, this they are unable to say. But keeping silence on this head, our novel theologian weaves us a web of trifling subtleties in his former treatise. Because God, saith he, being simple, is called ungenerate, therefore God is ungeneracy. What has the notion of simplicity to do with the idea of ungenerate? For not only is the Only-begotten generated, but, without controversy, He is simple also. But, saith he, He is without parts also, and incomposite. But what is this to the point? For neither is the Son multiform and composite: and yet He is not on that account ungenerate.

But, saith he, He is without both quantity and magnitude. Granted: for the Son also is unlimited by quantity and magnitude, and yet is He the Son. But this is not the point. For the task set before us is this: in what signification of ungenerate is essence declared? For as this word marks the difference of the properties, so they maintain that the essence also is indicated without ambiguity by one of the things signified by the appellation.

But this thing he leaves untold, and only says that ungeneracy should not be predicated of God as a mere conception. For what is so spoken, saith he, is dissolved, and passes away with its utterance. But what is there that is uttered but is so dissolved? For we do not keep undissolved, like those who make pots or bricks, what we utter with our voice in the mould of the speech which we form once for all with our lips, but as soon as one speech has been sent forth by our voice, what we have said ceases to exist. For the breath of our voice being dispersed again into the air, no trace of our words is impressed upon the spot in which such dispersion of our voice has taken place: so that if he makes this the distinguishing characteristic of a term that expresses a mere conception, that it does not remain, but vanishes with the voice that gives it utterance, he may as well at once call every term a mere conception, inasmuch as no substance remains in any term subsequent to its utterance. No, nor will he be able to show that ungeneracy itself, which he excepts from the products of conception, is indissoluble and fixed when it has been uttered, for this expression of the voice through the lips does not abide in the air. And from this we may see the unsubstantial character of his assertions; because, even if without speech we describe in writing our mental conceptions, it is not as though the substantial objects of our thoughts will acquire their significance from the letters, while the non-substantial will have no part in what the letters express. For whatever comes into our mind, whether intellectually existing, or otherwise, it is possible for us at our discretion to store away in writing. And the voice and letters are of equal value for the expression of thought, for we communicate what we think by the latter as well as by the former. What he sees, then, to justify his making the mental conception perish with the voice only, I fail to comprehend. For in the case of all speech uttered by means of sound, the passage of the breath indeed which conveys the voice is towards its kindred element, but the sense of the words spoken is engraved by hearing on the memory of the hearer's soul, whether it be true or false. Is not this, then, a weak interpretation of this "conception" of his that our writer offers, when he characterizes and defines it by the dissolution of the voice? And for this reason the understanding hearer, as saith Isaiah, objects to this inconceivable account of mental conception, showing it, to use the man's own words, to be a veritably dissoluble and unsubstantial one, and he discusses scientifically the force inherent in the term, advancing his argument by familiar examples to the contemplation of doctrine. Against whom Eunomius exalting himself with this pompous writing, endeavours to overthrow the true account of mental conception, after this manner.

But before we examine what he has written it may be better to enquire with what purpose it is that he refuses to admit that ungenerate can be predicated of God by way of conception. Now the tenet which has been held in common by all who have received the word of our religion is, that all hope of salvation should be placed in Christ, it being impossible for any to be found among the righteous, unless faith in Christ supply what is desired. And this conviction being firmly established in the souls of the faithful, and all honour and glory and worship being due to the Only-begotten God as the Author of life, Who doeth the works of the Father, as the Lord Himself saith in the Gospel(1), and Who falls short of no excellence in all knowledge of that which is good, I know not how they have been so perverted by malignity and jealousy of the Lord's honour, that, as though they judged the worship paid by the faithful to the Only-begotten God to be a detriment to themselves, they oppose His Divine honours, and try to persuade us that nothing that is said of them is true. For with them neither is He very God, though called so, it would seem, by Scripture, nor, though called Son, has He a nature that makes good the appellation, nor has He a community of dignity or of nature with the Father. For, say they, it is not possible for Him that is begotten to be of equal honour with Him Who made Him, either in dignity, or in power, or in nature, because the life of the latter is infinite, and His existence from eternity, while the life of the Son is in a manner circumscribed, the beginning of His being begotten limiting His life at the commencement, and preventing it from being coextensive with the eternity of the Father, so that His life also is to be regarded as defective; and the Father was not always what He now is and is said to be, but, having been something else before, He afterwards determined that He would be a Father, or rather that He would be so called. For not even of the Son was He rightly called Father, but of a creature supposititiously invested with the title of son. And every way, say they, the younger is of necessity inferior to the elder, the finite to the eternal, that which is begotten by the will of the begetter, to the begetter himself, both in power, and dignity, and nature, and precedence due to age, and all other prerogatives of respect. But how can we justly dignify with the honours due to the true God that which is wanting in the perfection of the diviner attributes? Thus they would establish the doctrine that one who is limited in power, and wanting in the perfection of life, and subject to a superior, and doing nothing of himself but what is sanctioned by the authority of the more powerful, is in no divine honour and consideration, but that, while we call him God, we are employing a term empty of all grandeur in its significance. And since such statements as these, when stripped of their plausible dress, move indignation and make the hearer shudder at their strangeness (for Who can tolerate an evil counsellor nakedly and unadvisably urging the overthrow of the majesty of Christ?), they therefore try to pervert foolish hearers with these foreign notions by enveloping their malignant and insidious arguments in a number of seductive fallacies. For after laying down such premises as might naturally lead the mind of the hearers in the desired direction, they leave the hearer to draw his conclusion for himself.

For after saying that the Only-begotten God is not the same in essence with the true Father, and after sophistically inferring this from the opposition between generate and ungenerate, they work in silence to the conclusion, their impiety prevailing by the natural course of inference. And as the poisoner makes his drug acceptable to his victim by sweetening its deadliness with honey, and, as for himself, has only to offer it, while the drug insinuating itself into the vitals without further action on the part of the poisoner does its deadly work,--so, too, do our opponents act. For qualifying their pernicious teaching with their sophistical refinements, as with honey, when they have infused into the mind of the hearer the venomous fallacy that God the Only-begotten is not very God, they cause all the rest to be inferred without saying a word. For when they are persuaded that He is not truly God, it follows as a matter of course that no other Divine attribute is truly applicable. For if He is truly neither Son nor God, except by an abuse of terms, then the other names which are given to Him in Holy Scripture are a divergence from the truth. For the one thing cannot be predicated of Him with truth, and the other be destitute of it; but they must needs follow one another, so that, if He be truly God, it follows that He is Judge and King, and that His several attributes are such as they are described, while, if His godhead be falsely asserted, neither will the truth hold respecting any of His other attributes. They, then, having been deceived into the persuasion that the attribute of Godhead is falsely applied to the Only-begotten, it follows that He is not rightly the object of worship and adoration, or, in fact, of any of the honours that are paid to God. In order, then, to render their attack upon the Saviour efficacious, this is the blasphemous method that they have adopted. There is no need, they urge, of looking at the collective attributes by which the Son's equality in honour and dignity with the Father is signified, but from the opposition between generate and un-generate we must argue a distinctive difference of nature; for the Divine nature is that which is denoted by the term ungenerate. Again, since all men of sense regard it as impracticable to indicate the ineffable Being by any force of words, because neither does our knowledge extend to the comprehension of what transcends knowledge, nor does the ministry of words have such power in us as to avail for the full enunciation of our thought, where the mind is engaged on anything eminently lofty and divine,--these wise folk, on the contrary, convicting men in general of want of sense and ignorance of logic, assert their own knowledge of such matters, and their ability to impart it to whomsoever they will; and accordingly they maintain that the divine nature is simply ungeneracy per se, and declaring this to be sovereign and supreme, they make this word comprehend the whole greatness of Godhead, so as to necessitate the inference that if ungeneracy is the main point of the essence, and the other divine attributes are bound up with it, viz. Godhead, power, im-perishableness and so on--if (I say) ungeneracy mean these, then, if this ungeneracy cannot be predicated of something, neither can the rest. For as reason, and risibility, and capacity of knowledge are proper to man, and what is not humanity may not be classed among the properties of his nature, so, if true Godhead consists in ungeneracy, then, to whatsoever thing the latter name does not properly belong, no one at all of the other distinguishing attributes of Godhead will be found in it. If, then, ungeneracy is not predicable of the Son, it follows that no other of His sublime and godlike attributes are properly ascribed to Him. This, then, they define as a right comprehension of the divine mysteries--the rejection of the Son's Godhead--all but shouting in the ear of those who would listen to them; "To you it is given to be perfect in knowledge(2), if only you believe not in God the Only-begotten as being very God, and honour not the Son as the Father is honoured, but regard Him as by nature a created being, not Lord and Master, but slave and subject." For this is the aim and object of their design, though the blasphemy is cloaked in different terms.

Accordingly, enveloping his former special-pleading in the mazy evolutions of his sophistries, and dealing subtly with the term ungener-ate, he steals away the intelligence of his dupes, saying to them, "Well, then, if neither by way of conception it is so, nor by deprivation, nor by division (for He is without parts), nor as being another in Himself(3) (for He is the one only ungenerate), He Himself must be, in essence, ungenerate.

Seeing, then, the mischief resulting to the dupes of this fallacious reasoning--that to assent to His not being very God is a departure from our confession of Him as our Lord, to which conclusion indeed his words would bring his teaching--our master does not indeed deny that ungenerate is no partial predicate of God, himself also admitting that God is without quantity, or magnitude, or parts; but the statement that this term ought not to be applied to Him by way of mental conception he impugns, and gives his proofs. But again, shifting from this position, our writer in the second of his treatises meets us with his sophistry, combating his own statements in regard to mental conception.

It will presently be time to bring to their own recollection the method of this argument. Suffice it first to say this. There is no faculty in human nature adequate to the full comprehension of the divine essence. It may be that it is easy to show this in the case of human capacity alone, and to say that the incorporeal creation is incapable of taking in and comprehending that nature which is infinite will not be far short of the truth, as we may see by familiar examples; for as there are many and various things that have fleshly life, winged things, and things of the earth, some that mount above the clouds by virtue of their wings, others that dwell in hollows or burrow in the ground, on comparing which it would appear that there was no small difference between the inhabitants of air and of land; while, if the comparison be extended to the stars and the fixed circumference, it will be seen that what soars aloft on wings is not less widely removed from heaven than from the animals that are on the earth; so, too, the strength of angels compared with our own seems preeminently great, because, undisturbed by sensation, it pursues its lofty themes with pure naked intelligence. Yet, if we weigh even their comprehension with the majesty of Him Who really is, it may be that if any one should venture to say that even their power of understanding is not far superior to our own weakness, his conjecture would fall within the limits of probability, for wide and insurmountable is the interval that divides and fences off untreated from created nature. The latter is limited, the former not. The latter is confined within its own boundaries according to the pleasure of its Maker. The former is bounded only by infinity. The latter stretches itself out within certain degrees of extension, limited by time and space: the former transcends all notion of degree, baffling curiosity from every point of view. In this life we can apprehend the beginning and the end of all things that exist, but the beatitude that is above the creature admits neither end nor beginning, but is above all that is connoted by either, being ever the same, self-dependent, not travelling on by degrees from one point to another in its life; for there is no participation of other life in its life, such that we might infer end and beginning; but, be it what it may, it is life energizing in itself, not becoming greater or less by addition or diminution. For increase has no place in the infinite, and that which is by its nature passionless excludes all notion of decrease. And as, when looking up to heaven, and in a measure apprehending by the visual organs the beauty that is in the height, we doubt not the existence of what we see, but if asked what it is, we are unable to define its nature, but we simply admire as we contemplate the overarching vault, the reverse planetary motion(4), the so-called Zodiac graven obliquely on the pole, whereby astronomers observe the motion of bodies revolving in an opposite direction, the differences of luminaries according to their magnitude, and the specialities of their rays, their risings and settings that take place according to the circling year ever at the same seasons undeviatingly, the conjunctions of planets, the courses of those that pass below, the eclipses of those that are above, the obumbrations of the earth, the reappearance of eclipsed bodies, the moon's multiform changes, the motion of the sun midway within the poles, and how, filled with his own light, and crowned with his encircling beams, and embracing all things in his sovereign light, he himself also at times suffers eclipse (the disc of the moon, as they say, passing before him), and how, by the will of Him Who has so ordained, ever running his own particular course, he accomplishes his appointed orbit and progress, opening out the four seasons of the year in succession; we, as I say, when we contemplate these phenomena by the aid of sight, are in no doubt of their existence, though we are as far from comprehending their essential nature as if sight had not given us any glimpse whatever of what we have seen; and even so, with regard to the Creator of the world, we know that He exists, but of His essential nature we cannot deny that we are ignorant. But, boasting as they do that they know these things, let them first tell us about the things of inferior nature; what they think of the body of the heavens, of the machinery which conveys the stars in their eternal courses, or of the sphere in which they move; for, however far speculation may proceed, when it comes to the uncertain and incomprehensible it must stop. For though any one say that another body, like in fashion (to that body of the heavens), fitting to its circular shape, checks its velocity, so that, ever turning in its course, it revolves conformably to that other upon itself, being retained by the force that embraces it from flying off at a tangent, yet how can he assert that these bodies will remain unspent by their constant friction with each other? And how, again, is motion produced in the case of two coeval bodies mutually conformed, when the one remains motionless (for the inner body, one would have thought, being held as in a vice by the motionlessness of that which embraces it, will be quite unable to act); and what is it that maintains the embracing body in its fixedness, so that it remains unshaken and unaffected by the motion of that which fits into it? And if in restless curiosity of thought we should conceive of some position for it that should keep it stationary, we must go on in logical consistency to search for the base of that base, and of the next, and of the next, and so on, and so the inquiry, proceeding from like to like, will go on to infinity, and end in helpless perplexity, still, even when some body has been put for the farthest foundation of the system of the universe, reaching after what is beyond, so that there is no stopping in our inquiry after the limit of the embracing circles. But not so, say others: but (according to the vain theory of those who have speculated on these matters) there is an empty space spread over the back of the heavens, working in which vacuum the motion of the universe revolves i upon itself, meeting with no resistance from any solid body capable of retarding it by opposition and of checking its course of revolution. What, then, is that vacuum, which they say is neither a body nor an idea? How far does it extend, and what succeeds it, and what relation exists between the firm, resisting body, and that void and unsubstantial one? What is there to unite things so contrary by nature? and how can the harmony of the universe consist out of elements so incongruous; and what can any one say of Heaven itself? That it is a mixture of the elements which it contains, or one of them or something else beside them? What, again, of the stars themselves? whence comes their radiance? What is it and how is it composed? and what is the reason of their difference in beauty and magnitude? and the seven inner orbs revolving in an opposite direction to the motion of the universe, what are they, and by what influence are they propelled? Then, too, what is that immaterial and ethereal empyrean, and the intermediate air which forms a wall of partition between that element in nature which gives heat and consumes, and that which is moist and combustible? And how does earth below form the foundation of the whole, and what is it that keeps it firmly in its place? what is it that controls its downward tendency? If any one should interrogate us on these and such-like points, will any of us be found so presumptuous as to promise an explanation of them? No! the only reply that can be given by men of sense is this:--that He Who made all things in wisdom can alone furnish an account of His creation. For ourselves, "through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God," as saith the Apostle(5).

If, then, the lower creation which comes under our organs of sense transcends human knowledge, how can He, Who by His mere will made the worlds, be within the range of our apprehension? Surely this is vanity, and lying madness, as saith the Prophet(6), to think it possible to comprehend the things which are incomprehensible. So may we see tiny children busying themselves in their play. For oft-times, when a sunbeam streams down upon them through a window, delighted with its beauty they throw themselves on what they see, and are eager to catch the sunbeam in their hands, and struggle with one another, and grasp the light in the clutch of their fingers, and fancy they have imprisoned the ray in them, but presently when they unclasp their hands and find that the sunbeam which they held has slipped through their fingers, they laugh and clap their hands. In like manner the children of our generation, as saith the parable, sit playing in the market-places; for, seeing the power of God shining in upon their souls through the dispensations of His providence, and the wonders of His creation like a warm ray emanating from the natural sun, they marvel not at the Divine gift, nor adore Him Whom such things reveal, but passing beyond the limits of the soul's capabilities, they seek with their sophistical understanding to grasp that which is intangible, and think by their reasonings to lay hold of what they are persuaded of; but when their argument unfolds itself and discloses the tangled web of their sophistries, men of discernment see at once that what they have apprehended is nothing at all; so pettily and so childishly labouring in vain at impossibilities do they set themselves to include the inconceivable nature of God in the few syllables of the term "ungenerate," and applaud their own folly, and imagine God to be such that human reasoning can include Him under one single term: and while they pretend to follow the teaching of the sacred writers, they are not afraid of raising themselves above them. For what cannot be shown to have been said by any of those blessed ones, any words of whose are recorded in the sacred books, these things, as saith the Apostle, "understanding neither what they say, nor whereof they affirm(7)," they nevertheless say they know, and boast of guiding others to such knowledge. And on this account they declare that they have apprehended that God the Only-begotten is not what He is called. For to this conclusion they are compelled by their premises.

How pitiable are they for their cleverness! how wretched, how fatal is their over-wise philosophy! Who is there who goes of his own accord to the pit so eagerly as these men labour and bestir themselves to dig out their lake of blasphemy? How far have they separated themselves from the hope of the Christian! What a gulf have they fixed between themselves and the faith which saves! How far have they withdrawn themselves from Abraham the father of the faith! He indeed, if in the lofty spirit of the Apostle we may take the words allegorically, and so penetrate to the inner sense of the history, without losing sight of the truth of its facts--he, I say, went out by Divine command from his own country and kindred on a journey worthy of a prophet eager for the knowledge of God(8). For no local migration seems to me to satisfy the idea of the blessings which it is signified that he found. For going out from himself and from his country, by which I understand his earthly and carnal mind, and raising his thoughts as far as possible above the common boundaries of nature, and forsaking the soul's kinship with the senses,--so that untroubled by any of the objects of sense his eyes might be open to the things which are invisible, there being neither sight nor sound to distract the mind in its work,--"walking," as saith the Apostle, "by faith, not by sight," he was raised so high by the sublimity of his knowledge that he came to be regarded as the acme of human perfection, knowing as much of God as it was possible for finite human capacity at its full stretch to attain. Therefore also the Lord of all creation, as though He were a discovery of Abraham, is called specially the God of Abraham. Yet what saith the Scripture respecting him? That he went out not knowing whither he went, no, nor even being capable of learning the name of Him whom he loved, yet in no wise impatient or ashamed on account of such ignorance.

This, then, was the meaning of his safe guidance on the way to what he sought--that he was not blindly led by any of the means ready to hand for his instruction in the things of God, and that his mind, unimpeded by any object of sense, was never hindered from its journeying in quest of what lies beyond all that is known, but having gone by reasoning far beyond the wisdom of his countrymen, (I mean the philosophy of the Chaldees, limited as it was to the things which do appear,) and soaring above the things which are cognizable by sense, from the beauty of the objects of contemplation, and the harmony of the heavenly wonders, he desired to behold the archetype of all beauty. And so, too, all the other things which in the course of his reasoning he was led to apprehend as he advanced, whether the power of God, or His goodness, or His being without beginning, or His infinity, or whatever else is conceivable in respect to the divine nature, using them all as supplies and appliances for his onward journey, ever making one discovery a stepping-stone to another, ever reaching forth unto those things which were before, and setting in his heart, as saith the Prophet, each fair stage of his advance(9), and passing by all knowledge acquired by his own ability as falling short of that of which be was in quest, when he had gone beyond every conjecture respecting the divine nature which is suggested by any name amongst all our conceptions of God, having purged his reason of all such fancies, and arrived at a faith unalloyed and free from all prejudice, he made this a sure and manifest token of the knowledge of God, viz. the belief that He is greater and more sublime than any token by which He may be known. On this account, indeed, after the ecstasy which fell upon him, and after his sublime meditations, falling back on his human weakness, "I am," saith he, "but dust and ashes(10)," that is to say, without voice or power to interpret that good which his mind had conceived. For dust and ashes seem to denote what is lifeless and barren; and so there arises a law of faith for the life to come, teaching those who would come to God, by this history of Abraham, that it is impossible to draw near to God, unless faith mediate, and bring the seeking soul into union with the incomprehensible nature of God. For leaving behind him the curiosity that arises from knowledge, Abraham, says the Apostle, "believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness(1)." "Now it was not written for his sake," the Apostle says, "but for us," that God counts to men for righteousness their faith, not their knowledge. For knowledge acts, as it were, in a commercial spirit, dealing only with what is known. But the faith of Christians acts otherwise. For it is the substance, not of things known, but of things hoped for. Now that which we have already we no longer hope for. "For what a man hath," says the Apostle, "why doth he yet hope for(2)"? But faith makes our own that which we see not, assuring us by its own certainty of that which does not appear. For so speaks the Apostle of the believer, that "he endured as seeing Him Who is invisible(3)."

Vain, therefore, is he who maintains that it is possible to take knowledge of the divine essence, by the knowledge which puffeth up to no purpose. For neither is there any man so great that he can claim equality in understanding with the Lord, for, as saith David, "Who is he among the clouds that shall be compared unto the Lord?(4)" nor is that which is sought so small that it can be compassed by the reasonings of human shallowness. Listen to the preacher exhorting not to be hasty to utter anything before God, "for God," (saith he,) "is in heaven above, and thou upon earth beneath(5)."

He shows, I think, by the relation of these elements to each other, or rather by their distance, how far the divine nature is above the speculations of human reason. For that nature which transcends all intelligence is as high above earthly calculation as the stars are above the touch of our fingers; or rather, many times more than that.

Knowing, then, how widely the Divine nature differs from our own, let us quietly remain within our proper limits. For it is both safer and more reverent to believe the majesty of God to be greater than we can understand, than, after circumscribing His glory by our misconceptions, to suppose there is nothing beyond our conception of it.

And on other accounts also it may be called safe to let alone the Divine essence, as unspeakable, and beyond the scope of human reasoning. For the desire of investigating what is obscure and tracing out hidden things by the operation of human reasoning gives an entrance to false no less than to true notions, inasmuch as he who aspires to know the unknown will not always arrive at truth, but may also conceive of falsehood itself as truth. But the disciple of the Gospels and of Prophecy believes that He Who is, is; both from what he has learnt from the sacred writers, and from the harmony of things which do appear, and from the works of Providence. But what He is and how--leaving this as a useless and unprofitable speculation, such a disciple will open no door to falsehood against truth. For in speculative enquiry fallacies readily find place. But where speculation is entirely at rest, the necessity of error is precluded. And that this is a true account of the case, may be seen if we consider how it is that heresies in the churches have wandered off into many and various opinions in regard to God, men deceiving themselves as they are swayed by one mental impulse or another; and how these very men with whom our treatise is concerned have slipped into such a pit of profanity. Would it not have been safer for all, following the counsel of wisdom, to abstain from searching into such deep matters, and in peace and quietness to keep inviolate the pure deposit of the faith? But since, in fact, human nothingness has commenced intruding recklessly into matters that are above comprehension, and supporting by dogmatic teaching the figments of their vain imagination, there has sprung up in consequence a whole host of enemies to the truth, and among them these very men who are the subject of this treatise; dogmatizers of deceit who seek to limit the Divine Being, and all but openly idolize their own imagination, in that they deify the idea expressed by this "ungeneracy" of theirs, as not being only in a certain relation discernible in the Divine nature, but as being itself God, or the essence of God. Yet perchance they would have done better to look to the sacred company of the Prophets and Patriarchs, to whom "at sundry times, and in divers manners(6)," the Word of truth spake, and, next in order, those who were eye-witnesses and ministers of the word, that they might give honour due to the claims on their belief of the things attested by the Holy Spirit Himself, and abide within the limits of their teaching and knowledge, and not venture on themes which are not comprehended in the canon of the sacred writers. For those writers, by revealing God, so long unknown to human life by reason of the prevalence of idolatry, and making Him known to men, both from the wonders which manifest themselves in His works, and from the names which express the manifold variety of His power, lead men, as by the hand, to the understanding of the Divine nature, making known to them the bare grandeur of the thought of God; while the question of His essence, as one which it is impossible to grasp, and which bears no fruit to the curious enquirer, they dismiss without any attempt at its solution. For whereas they have set forth respecting all other things, that they were created, the heaven, the earth, the sea, times, ages, and the creatures that are therein, but what each is in itself, and how and whence, on these points they are silent; so, too, concerning God Himself, they exhort men to "believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him(7)," but in regard to His nature, as being above every name, they neither name it nor concern themselves about it. For if we have learned any names expressive of the knowledge of God, all these are related and have analogy to such names as denote human characteristics. For as they who would indicate some person unknown by marks of recognition speak of him as of good parentage and descent, if such happen to be the case, or as distinguished for his riches or his worth, or as in the prime of life, or of such or such stature, and in so speaking they do not set forth the nature of the person indicated, but give certain notes of recognition (for neither advantages of birth, nor of wealth, nor of reputation, nor of age, constitute the man; they are considered, simply as being observable in the man), thus too the expressions of Holy Scripture devised for the glory of God set forth one or another of the things which are declared concerning Him, each inculcating some special teaching. For by these expressions we are taught either His power, or that He admits not of deterioration, or that He is without cause and without limit, or that He is supreme above all things, or, in short, something, be it what it may, respecting Him. But His very essence, as not to be conceived by the human intellect or expressed in words, this it has left untouched as a thing not to be made the subject of curious enquiry, ruling that it be revered in silence, in that it forbids the investigation of things too deep for us, while it enjoins the duty of being slow to utter any word before God. And therefore, whosoever searches the whole of Revelation will find therein no doctrine of the Divine nature, nor indeed of anything else that has a substantial existence, so that we pass our lives in ignorance of much, being ignorant first of all of ourselves, as men, and then of all things besides. For who is there who has arrived at a comprehension of his own soul? Who is acquainted with its very essence, whether it is material or immaterial, whether it is purely incorporeal, or whether it exhibits anything of a corporeal character; how it comes into being, how it is composed, whence it enters into the body, how it departs from it, or what means it possesses to unite it to the nature of the body; how, being intangible and without form, it is kept within its own sphere, what difference exists among its powers, how one and the same soul, in its eager curiosity to know the things which are unseen, soars above the highest heavens, and again, dragged down by the weight of the body, falls back on material passions, anger and fear, pain and pleasure, pity and cruelty, hope and memory, cowardice and audacity, friendship and hatred, and all the contraries that are produced in the faculties of the soul? Observing which things, who has not fancied that he has a sort of populace of souls crowded together in himself, each of the aforesaid passions differing widely from the rest, and, where it prevails, holding lordship over them all, so that even the rational faculty falls under and is subject to the predominating power of such forces, and contributes its own co-operation to such impulses, as to a despotic lord? What word, then, of the inspired Scripture has taught us the manifold and multiform character of what we understand in speaking of the soul? Is it a unity composed of them all, and, if so, what is it that blends and harmonizes things mutually opposed, so that many things become one, while each element, taken by itself, is shut up in the soul as in some ample vessel? And how is it that we have not the perception of them all as being involved in it, being at one and the same time confident and afraid, at once hating and loving and feeling in ourselves the working as well of all other emotions confused and intermingled; but, on the contrary, take knowledge only of their alternate control, when one of them prevails, the rest remaining quiescent? What in short is this composition and arrangement, and this capacious void within us, such that to each is assigned its own post, as though hindered by middle walls of partition from holding intercourse with its neighbour? And then again what account has explained whether passion is the fundamental essence of the soul, or fear, or any of the other elements which I have mentioned; and what emotions are unsubstantial? For if these have an independent subsistence, then, as I have said, there is comprehended in ourselves not one soul, but a collection of souls, each of them occupying its distinct position as a particular and individual soul. But if we must suppose these to be a kind of emotion without subsistence, how can that which has no essential existence exercise lordship over us, having reduced us as it were to slave under whichsoever of these things may have happened to prevail? And if the soul is something that thought only can grasp, how can that which is manifold and composite be contemplated as such, when such an object ought to be contemplated by itself, independently of these bodily qualities? Then, as to the soul's power of growth, of desire, of nutrition, of change, and the fact that all the bodily powers are nourished, while feeling does not extend through all, but, as in things without life, some of our members are destitute of feeling, the bones for example, the cartilages, the nails, the hair, all of which take nourishment, but do not feel,--tell me who is there that understands this only half-complete operation of the soul as to these? And why do I speak of the soul? Even the inquiry as to that thing in the flesh itself which assumes all the corporeal qualities has not been pursued to any definite result. For if any one has made a mental analysis of that which is seen into its component parts, and, having stripped the object of its qualities, has attempted to consider it by itself, I fail to see what will have been left for investigation. For when you take from a body its colour, its shape, its degree of resistance, its weight, its quantity, its position, its forces active or passive, its relation to other objects, what remains, that can still be called a body, we can neither see of ourselves, nor are we taught it by Scripture. But how can he who is ignorant of himself take knowledge of anything that is above himself? And if a man is familiarized with such ignorance of himself, is he not plainly taught by the very fact not to be astonished at any of the mysteries that are without? Wherefore also, of the elements of the world, we know only so much by our senses as to enable us to receive what they severally supply for our living. But we possess no knowledge of their substance, nor do we count it loss to be ignorant of it. For what does it profit me to inquire curiously into the nature of fire, how it is struck out, how it is kindled, how, when it has caught hold of the fuel supplied to it, it does not let it go till it has devoured and consumed its prey; how the spark is latent in the flint, how steel, cold as it is to the touch, generates fire, how sticks rubbed together kindle flame how water shining in the sun causes a flash; and then again the cause of its upward tendency, its power of incessant motion?--Putting aside all which curious questions and investigations, we give heed only to the subservience of this fire to life, seeing that he who avails himself of its service fares no worse than he who busies himself with inquiries into its nature.

Wherefore Holy Scripture omits all idle inquiry into substance as superfluous and unnecessary. And methinks it was for this that John, the Son of Thunder, who with the loud voice of the doctrines contained in his Gospel rose above that of the preaching which heralded them, said at the close of his Gospel, "There are also many other things which Jesus did, the which if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written(8)." He certainly does not mean by these the miracles of healing, for of these the narrative leaves none unrecorded, even though it does not mention the names of all who were healed. For when he tells us that the dead were raised, that the blind received their sight, that the deaf heard, that the lame walked, and that He healed all manner of sickness and all manner of disease, he does not in this leave any miracle unrecorded, but embraces each and all in these general terms. But it may be that the Evangelist means this in his profound wisdom: that we are to learn the majesty of the Son of God not by the miracles alone which He did in the flesh. For these are little compared with the greatness of His other work. "But look thou up to Heaven! Behold its glories! Transfer your thought to the wide compass of the earth, and the watery depths! Embrace with your mind the whole world, and when you have come to the knowledge of supramundane nature, learn that these are the true works of Him Who sojourned for thee in the flesh," which (saith he), "if each were written"--and the essence, manner, origin, and extent of each given--the world itself could not contain the fulness of Christ's teaching about the world itself. For since God hath made all things in wisdom, and to His wisdom there is no limit (for "His understanding," saith the Scripture, "is infinite"(9)), the world, that is bounded by limits of its own, cannot contain within itself the account of infinite wisdom. If, then, the whole world is too little to contain the teaching of the works of God, how many worlds could contain an account of the Lord of them all? For perhaps it will not be denied even by the tongue of the blasphemer that the Maker of all things, which have been created by the mere fiat of His will, is infinitely greater than all. If, then, the whole creation cannot contain what might be said respecting itself (for so, according to our explanation, the great Evangelist testifies), how should human shallowness contain all that might be said of the Lord of Creation? Let those grand talkers inform us what man is, in comparison with the universe, what geometrical point is so without magnitude, which of the atoms of Epicurus is capable of such infinitesimal reduction in the vain fancy of those who make such problems the object of their study, which of them falls so little short of non-existence, as human shallowness, when compared with the universe. As saith also great David, with a true insight into human weakness, "Mine age is as nothing unto Thee(1)," not saying that it is absolutely nothing, but signifying, by this comparison to the non-existent, that what is so exceedingly brief is next to nothing at all.

But, nevertheless, with only such a nature for their base of operations, they open their mouths wide against the unspeakable Power, and encompass by one appellation the infinite nature, confining the Divine essence within the narrow limits of the term ungeneracy, that they may thereby pave a way for their blasphemy against the Only-begotten; but although the great Basil had corrected this false opinion, and pointed out, in regard to the terms, that they have no existence in nature, but are attached as conceptions to the things signified, so far are they from returning to the truth, that they stick to what they have once advanced, as to birdlime, and will not loose their hold of their fallacious mode of argument, nor do they allow the term "ungeneracy" to be used in the way of a mental conception, but make it represent the Divine nature itself. Now to go through their whole argument, and to attempt to overthrow it by discussing word by word their frivolous and long-winded nonsense, would be a task requiring much leisure, and time, and freedom from calls of business. Just as I hear that Eunomius, after applying himself at his leisure, and laboriously, for a number of years exceeding those of the Trojan war, has fabricated this dream for himself in his deep slumbers studiously seeking, not how to interpret any of the ideas which he has arrived at, but how to drag and force them into keeping with his phrases, and going round and collecting out of certain books the words in them that sound grandest. And as beggars in lack of clothing pin and tack together tunics for themselves out of rags, so he, cropping here a phrase and there a phrase, has woven together for himself the patchwork of his treatise, glueing in and fixing together the joinings of his diction with much labour and pains, displaying therein a petty and juvenile ambition for combat, which any man who has an eye to actuality would disdain, just as a steadfast wrestler, no longer in the prime of life, would disdain to play the woman by over-niceness in dress. But to me it seems that, when the scope of the whole question has been briefly run through, his roundabout flourishes may well be let alone.

I have said, then (for I make my master's words my own), that reason supplies us with but a dim and imperfect comprehension of the Divine nature; nevertheless, the knowledge that: we gather from the terms which piety allows us to apply to it is sufficient for our limited capacity. Now we do not say that all these terms have a uniform significance; for some of them express qualities inherent in God, and others qualities that are not, as when we say that He is just or incorruptible, by the term "just" signifying that justice is found in Him, and by "incorruptible" that corruption is not. Again, by a change of meaning, we may apply terms to God in the way of accommodation, so that what is proper to God may be represented by a term which in no wise belongs to Him, and what is foreign to His nature may be represented by what belongs to Him. For whereas justice is the contradictory of injustice, and everlastingness the contrary of destruction, we may filly and without impropriety employ contraries in speaking of God, as when we say that He is ever existent, or that He is not unjust, which is equivalent to saying that He is just, and that He admits not of corruption. So, too, we may say that other names of God, by a certain change of signification, may be suitably employed to express either meaning, for example "good," and "immortal," and all expressions of like formation; for each of these terms, according as it is taken, is capable of indicating what does or what does not appertain to the Divine nature, so that, notwithstanding the formal change, our orthodox opinion in regard to the object remains immovably fixed. For it amounts to the same, whether we speak of God as unsusceptible of evil, or whether we call Him good; whether we confess that He is immortal, or say that He ever liveth. For we understand no difference in the sense of these terms, but we signify one and the same thing by both, though the one may seem to convey the notion of affirmation, and the other of negation. And so again, when we speak of God as the First Cause of all things, or again, when we speak of Him as without cause, we are guilty of no contradiction in sense, declaring as we do by either name that God is the prime Ruler and First Cause of all. Accordingly when we speak of Him as without cause, and as Lord of all, in the former case we signify what does not attach to Him, in the latter case what does; it being possible, as I have said, by a change of the things signified, to give an opposite sense to the words that express them, and to signify a property by a word which for the time takes a negative form, and vice versa. For it is allowable, instead of saying that He Himself has no primal cause, to describe Him as the First Cause of all, and again, instead of this, to hold that He alone exists ungenerately, so that while the words seem by the formal change to be at variance with each other, the sense remains one and the same. For the object to be aimed at, in questions respecting God, is not to produce a dulcet and melodious harmony of words, but to work out an orthodox formula of thought, whereby a worthy conception of God may be ensured. Since, then, it is only orthodox to infer that He Who is the First Cause of all is Himself without cause, if this opinion is established, what further contention of words remains for men of sense and judgment, when every word whereby such a notion is conveyed to us has the same signification? For whether you say that He is the First Cause and Principle of all, or speak of Him as without origin, whether you speak of Him as of ungenerate or eternal subsistence, as the Cause of all or as alone without cause, all these words are, in a manner, of like force, and equivalent to one another, as far as the meaning of the things signified is concerned; and it is mere folly to contend for this or that vocal intonation, as if orthodoxy were a thing of sounds and syllables rather than of the mind. This view, then, has been carefully enunciated by our great master, whereby all whose eyes are not blindfolded by the veil of heresy may clearly see that, whatever be the nature of God, He is not to be apprehended by sense, and that He transcends reason, though human thought, busying itself with curious inquiry, with such help of reason as it can command, stretches out its hand and just touches His unapproachable and sublime nature, being neither keen-sighted enough to see clearly what is invisible, nor yet so far withheld from approach as to be unable to catch some faint glimpse of what it seeks to know. For such knowledge it attains in part by the touch of reason, in part from its very inability to discern it, finding that it is a sort of knowledge to know that what is sought transcends knowledge (for it has learned what is contrary to the Divine nature, as well as all that may fittingly be conjectured respecting it). Not that it has been able to gain full knowledge of that nature itself about which it reasons, but from the knowledge of those properties which are, or are not, inherent in it, this mind of man sees what alone can be seen, that that which is far removed from all evil, and is understood in all good, is altogether such as I should pronounce ineffable and incomprehensible by human reason.

But although our great master has thus cleared away all unworthy notions respecting the Divine nature, and has urged and taught all that may be reverently and fittingly held concerning it, viz. that the First Cause is neither a corruptible thing, nor one brought into being by any birth, but that it is outside the range of every conception of the kind; and that from the negation of what is not inherent, and the affirmation of what may be with reverence conceived to be inherent therein, we may best apprehend what He is--nevertheless this vehement adversary of the truth opposes these teachings, and hopes with the sounding word "ungeneracy" to supply a clear definition of the essence of God.

And yet it is plain to every one who has given any attention to the uses of words, that the word incorruption denotes by the privative particle that neither corruption nor birth appertains to God: just as many other words of like formation denote the absence of what is not inherent rather than the presence of what is; e.g. harmless, painless, guileless, undisturbed, passionless, sleepless, undiseased(2), impossible, unblamable, and the like. For all these terms are truly applicable to God, and furnish a sort of catalogue and muster of evil qualities from which God is separate. Yet the terms employed give no positive account of that to which they are applied. We learn from them what it is not; but what it is, the force of the words does not indicate. For if some one, wishing to describe the nature of man, were to say that it is not lifeless, not insentient, not winged, not four-fooled, not amphibious, he would not indicate what it is: he would simply declare what it is not, and he would be no more making untrue statements respecting man than he would be positively defining his subject. In the same way, from the many things which are predicated of the Divine nature, we learn under what conditions we may conceive God as existing, but what He is essentially, such statements do not inform us.

While, however, we strenuously avoid all concurrence with absurd notions in our thoughts of God, we allow ourselves in the use of many diverse appellations in regard to Him, adapting them to our point of view. For whereas no suitable word has been found to express the Divine nature, we address God by many names, each by some distinctive touch adding something fresh to our notions respecting Him,--thus seeking by variety of nomenclature to gain some glimmerings for the comprehension of what we seek. For when we question and examine ourselves as to what God is, we express our conclusions variously, as that He is that which presides over the system and working of the things that are, that His existence is without cause, while to all else He is the Cause of being; that He is that which has no generation or beginning, no corruption, no turning backward, no diminution of supremacy; that He is that in which evil finds no place, and from which no good is absent.

And if any one would distinguish such notions by words, he would find it absolutely necessary to call that which admits of no changing to the worse unchanging and invariable, and to call the First Cause of all ungenerate, and that which admits not of corruption incorruptible; and that which ceases at no limit immortal and never failing; and that which presides over all Almighty. And so, framing names for all other Divine attributes in accordance with reverent conceptions of Him, we designate them now by one name, now by another, according to our varying lines of thought, as power, or strength, or goodness, or ungeneracy, or perpetuity.

I say, then, that men have a right to such word-building, adapting their appellations to their subject, each man according to his judgment; and that there is no absurdity in this, such as our controversialist makes a pretence of, shuddering at it as at some gruesome hobgoblin, and that we are fully justified in allowing the use of such fresh applications of words in respect to all things that can be named, and to God Himself.

For God is not an expression, neither hath He His essence in voice or utterance. But God is of Himself what also He is believed to be, but He is named, by those who call upon Him, not what He is essentially (for the nature of Him Who alone is is unspeakable), but He receives His appellations from what are believed to be His operations in regard to our life. To take an instance ready to our hand; when we speak of Him as God, we so call Him from regarding Him as overlooking and surveying all things, and seeing through the things that are hidden. But if His essence is prior to His works, and we understand His works by our senses, and express them in words as we are best able, why should we be afraid of calling things by words of later origin than themselves? For if we stay to interpret any of the attributes of God till we understand them, and we understand them only by what His works teach us, and if His power precedes its exercise, and depends on the will of God, while His will resides in the spontaneity of the Divine nature, are we not clearly taught that the words which represent things are of later origin than the things themselves, and that the words which are framed to express the operations of things are reflections of the things themselves? And that this is so, we are clearly taught by Holy Scripture, by the mouth of great David, when, as by certain peculiar and appropriate names, derived from his contemplation of the works of God, he thus speaks of the Divine nature: "The Lord is full of compassion and mercy, long-suffering, and of great goodness(3)." Now what do these words tell us? Do they indicate His operations, or His nature? No one will say that they indicate aught but His operations. At what time, then, after showing mercy and pity, did God acquire His name from their display? Was it before man's life began? But who was there to be the object of pity? Was it, then, after sin entered into the world? But sin entered after man. The exercise, therefore, of pity, and the name itself, came after man. What then? will our adversary, wise as he is above the Prophets, convict David of error in applying names to God derived from his opportunities of knowing Him? or, in contending with him, will he use against him the pretence in his stately passage as out of a tragedy, saying that "he glories in the most blessed life of God with names drown from human imagination, whereas it gloried in itself alone, long before men were born to imagine them"? The Psalmist's advocate will readily admit that the Divine nature gloried in itself alone even before the existence of human imagination, but will contend that the human mind can speak only so much in respect of God as its capacity, instructed by His works, will allow. "For," as saith the Wisdom of Solomon, "by the greatness and beauty of the creatures proportionably the Maker of them is seen(4)."

But in applying such appellations to the Divine essence, "which passeth all understanding," we do not seek to glory in it by the names we employ, but to guide our own selves by the aid of such terms towards the comprehension of the things which are hidden. "I said unto the Lord," saith the Prophet, "Thou art my God, my goods are nothing unto Thee(5)." How then are we glorifying the most blessed life of God, as this man affirms, when (as saith the Prophet) "our goods are nothing unto Him"? Is it that he takes "call" to mean "glory in"? Yet those who employ the latter word rightly, and who have been trained to use words with propriety, tell us that the word "glory in" is never used of mere indication, but that that idea is expressed by such words as "to make known," "to show," "to indicate," or some other of the kind, whereas the word for "glory in" means to be proud of, or delight in a thing, and the like. But he affirms that by employing names drawn from human imagination we "glory in" the blessed life. We hold, however, that to add any honour to the Divine nature, which is above all honour, is more than human infirmity can do. At the same time we do not deny that we endeavour, by words and names devised with due reverence, to give some notion of its attributes. And so, following studiously in the path of due reverence, we apprehend that the first cause is that which has its subsistence not from any cause superior to itself. Which view, if so be one accepts it as true, is praiseworthy for its truth alone. But if one should judge it to be superior to other aspects of the Divine nature, and so should say that God, exulting and rejoicing in this alone, glories in it, as of paramount excellence, one would find support only from the Muse by whom Eunomius is inspired, when he says, that "ungeneracy" glories in itself, that which, mark you, he calls God's essence, and styles the blessed and Divine life.

But let us hear how, "in the way most needed, and the form that preceded" (for with such rhymes he again gives us a taste of the flowers of style), let us hear, I say, how by such means he proposes to refute the opinion formed of him, and to keep in the dark the ignorance of those whom he has deluded. For I will use our dithyrambist's own verbal inflections and phraseology. When, says he, we assert that words by which thought is expressed die as soon as they are uttered, we add that whether words are uttered or not, whether they are yet in existence or not, God was and is ungenerate. Let us learn, then, what connection there is between the conception or the formation of words, and the things which we signify by this or that mode of utterance. Accordingly, if God is ungenerate before the creation of man, we must esteem as of no account the words which indicate that thought, inasmuch as they are dispersed along with the sounds that express them, if such thought happen to be named after human notion. For to be, and to be called, are not convertible terms. But God is by His nature what He is, but He is called by us by such names as the poverty of our nature will allow us to make use of, which is incapable of enunciating thought except by means of voice and words. Accordingly, understanding Him to be without origin, we enunciate that thought by the term ungenerate. And what harm is it to Him Who indeed is, that He should be named by us as we conceive Him to be? For His ungenerate existence is not the result of His being called ungenerate, but the name is the result of the existence. But this our acute friend fails to see, nor does he take a clear view of his own positions. For if he did, he would certainly have left off reviling those who flamed the word ungeneracy to express the idea in their minds. For look at what he says, "Words so spoken perish as soon as they are spoken; but God both is and was ungenerate, both after the words were spoken and before. You see that the Supreme Being is what He is, before the creation of all things, whether silent or not, being what He is neither in greater nor in less degree; while the use of words and names was not devised till after the creation of man, endowed by God with the faculty of reason and speech."

If, then, the creation is of later date than its Creator, and man is the latest in the scale of creation, and if speech is a distinctive characteristic of man, and verbs and nouns are the component elements of speech, and ungeneracy is a noun, how is it that he does not understand that he is combating his own arguments? For we, on our side, say that by human thought and intelligence words have been devised expressive of things which they represent, and he, on his side, allows that those who employ speech are demonstrably later in point of time than the Divine life, and that the Divine nature is now, and ever has been, without generation. If, then, he allows the blessed life to be anterior to man (for to that point I return), and we do not deny man's later creation, but contend that we have used forms of speech ever since we came into being and received the faculty of reason from our Maker, and if ungeneracy is a word expressive of a special idea, and every word is a part of human speech, -- it follows that he who admits that the Divine nature was anterior to man must at the same time admit that the name invented by man to express that nature was itself later in being. For it was not likely that the use of speech should be exercised before the existence of creatures to use it, any more than that farming should be exercised before the existence of farmers, or navigation before that of navigators, or in fact any of the occupations of life before that of life itself. Why, then, does he contend with us, instead of following his premises to their legitimate conclusion?

He says that God was what He is, before the creation of man. Nor do we deny it. For whatsoever we conceive of God existed before the creation of the world. But we maintain that it received its name after the namer came into being. For if we use words for this purpose, that they may supply us with teaching about the things which they signify, and it is ignorance alone that requires teaching, while the Divine Nature, as comprehending all knowledge, is above all teaching, it follows that names were invented to denote the Supreme Being, not for His sake, but for our own. For He did not attach the term ungeneracy to His nature in order that He Himself might be instructed. For He Who knoweth all things has no need of syllables and words to instruct Him as to His own nature and majesty.

But that we might gain some sort of comprehension of what with reverence may be thought respecting Him, we have stamped our different ideas with certain words and syllables, labelling, as it were, our mental processes with verbal formulae to serve as characteristic notes and indications, with the object of giving a clear and simple declaration of our mental processes by means of words attached to, and expressive of, our ideas. Why, then, does he find fault with our contention that the term ungeneracy was devised to indicate the existence of God without origin or beginning, and that, independently of all exercise of speech, or silence, or thought, and before the very idea of creation, God was and remains ungenerate? If, indeed, any one Should argue that God was not ungenerate till the name ungeneracy had been found, the man might be pardonable for writing as he has written, in contravention of such an absurdity. But if no one denies that He existed before speech and reason, whereas, while the form of words by which the meaning is expressed is said by us to have been devised by mental conception, the end and aim of his controversy with us is to show that the name is not of man's device, but that it existed before our creation, though by whom it was spoken I do not know(6), what has the assertion that God existed ungenerately before all things, and the contention that(7) mental conception is posterior to God, got to do with this aim of his? For that God is not a conception has been fully demonstrated, so that we may press him with the same sort of argument, and reply, so to say, in his own words, e.g. "It is utter folly to regard understanding as of earlier birth than those who exercise it"; or again, as he proceeds a little below, "Nor as though we intended this, i.e. to make men, the latest of God's works of creation, anterior to the conceptions of their own understanding." Great indeed would be the force of the argument, if any one of us, out of sheer folly and madness, should argue that God was a conception of the mind. But if this is not so, nor ever has been, (for who would go to such a pitch of folly as to assert that He Who alone is, and Who brought all else whatsoever into being, has no substantial existence of His own, and to make Him out to be a mere conception of a name?) why does he fight with shadows, contending with imaginary propositions? Is not the cause of this unreasonable litigiousness clear, that, feeling ashamed of the fallacy respecting ungeneracy with which his dupes have been deluded (since it has been proved that the word is very far removed from the Divine essence), he is deliberately shuffling up his arguments, shifting the controversy from words to things, so that by throwing all into confusion the unwary may more easily be seduced, by imagining that God has been described by us either as a conception, or as posterior in existence to the invention of human terminology; and thus, leaving our argument unrefuted, he is shifting his position to another quarter of the field? For our conclusion was, as I have said, that the term ungeneracy does not indicate the Divine nature, but is applicable to it as the result of a conception by which the fact that God subsists without prior cause is pointed at. But what they were for establishing was this: that the word was indicative of the Divine essence itself. Yet how has it been established that the word has this force? I suppose the handling of this question is in reserve in some other of his writings. But here he makes it his main object to show that God exists ungenerately, just as though some one were simply questioning him on such points as these--what view he held as to the term ungenerate, whether he thought it invented to show that the First Cause was without beginning and origin, or as declaring the Divine essence itself; and he, with much assumption of gravity and wisdom, were replying that he, for his part, had no doubt that God was the Maker of heaven and earth. How widely this method of proceeding differs from, and is unconnected with, his first contention, you may see, in the same way as you may see how little his fine description of his controversy with us is connected with the question at issue. For let us look at the matter in this wise.

They say that God is ungenerate, and in this we agree. But that ungeneracy itself constitutes the Divine essence, here we take exception. For we maintain that this term is declarative of God's ungenerate subsistence, but not that ungeneracy is God. But of what nature is his refutation? It is this: that before man's creation God existed ungenerately. But what has this to do with the point which he promises to establish, that the term and its Subject are identical? For he lays it down that ungeneracy is the Divine essence. But what sort of a fulfilment of his promise is it, to show that God existed before beings capable of speech? What a wonderful, what an irresistible demonstration! what perfection of logical refinement! Who that has not been initiated in the mysteries of the awful craft may venture to look it in the face? Yet in particularizing the meanings of the term "conception," he makes a solemn travesty of it. For, saith he, of words used to express a conception of the mind, some exist only in pronunciation, as for instance those which signify nonentity, while others have their peculiar meaning; and of these some have an amplifying force, as in the case of things colossal, others a diminishing, as in that of pigmies, others a multiplying, as in that of many-headed monsters, others a combinative, as in that of centaurs. After thus reducing the force of the term "conception" to its lowest value, our clever friend will allow it, you see, no further extension. He says that it is without sense and meaning, that it fancies the unnatural, either contracting or extending the limits of nature, or putting heterogeneous notions together, or juggling with strange and monstrous combinations.

With such gibes at the term "conception," he shows, to the best of his ability, that it is useless and unprofitable for the life of man. What, then, was the origin of our higher branches of learning, of geometry, arithmetic, the logical and physical sciences, of the inventions of mechanical art, of the marvels of measuring time by the brazen dial and the water-clock? What, again, of ontology, of the science of ideas, in short of all intellectual speculation as applied to great and sublime objects? What of agriculture, of navigation, and of the other pursuits of human life? how comes the sea to be a highway for man? how are things of the air brought into the service of things of the earth, wild things tamed, objects of terror brought into subjection, animals stronger than ourselves made obedient to the rein? Have not all these benefits to human life been achieved by conception? For, according to my account of it, conception is the method by which we discover things that are unknown, going on to further discoveries by means of what adjoins to and follows(8) from our first perception with regard to the thing studied. For when we have formed some idea of what we seek to know, by adapting what follows to the first result of our discoveries we gradually conduct our inquiry to the end of our proposed research.

But why enumerate the greater and more splendid results of this faculty? For every one who is not unfriendly to truth can see for himself that all else that Time has discovered for the service and benefit of human life, has been discovered by no other instrumentality than that of conception. And it seems to me, that any one who should judge this faculty more precious than any other with the exercise of which we are gifted in this life by Divine Providence would not be far mistaken in his judgment. And in saying this I am supported by Job's teaching, where he represents God as answering His servant by the tempest and the clouds, saying both other things meet for Him to say, and that it is He Who hath set man over the arts, and given to woman her skill in weaving and embroidery(9).

Now that He did not teach us such things by some visible operation, Himself presiding over the work, as we may see in matters of bodily teaching, no one would gainsay whose nature is not altogether animal and brutish. But still it has been said that our first knowledge of such arts is from Him, and, if such is the case, surely He Who endowed our nature with such a faculty of conceiving and finding out the objects of our investigation was Himself our Guide to the arts. And by the law of causation, whatever is discovered and established by conception must be ascribed to Him Who is the Author of that faculty. Thus human life invented the Art of Healing, but nevertheless he would be right who should assert that Art to be a gift from God. And whatever discovery has been made in human life, conducive to any useful purposes of peace or war, came to us from no other quarter but from an intelligence conceiving and discovering according to our several requirements; and that intelligence is a gift of God. It is to God, then, that we owe all that intelligence supplies to us. Nor do I deny the objection made by our adversaries, that lying wonders also are fabricated by this faculty. For their contention as to this makes for our own side in the argument. For we too assert that the science of opposites is the same, whether beneficial or the reverse; e.g. in the case of the arts of healing and navigation, and so on. For he who knows how to relieve the sick by drugs will also know, if indeed he were to turn his art to an evil purpose, how to mix some deleterious ingredient in the food of the healthy. And he who can steer a boat with its rudder into port can also steer it for the reef or the rock, if minded to destroy those on board. And the painter, with the same art by which he depicts the fairest form on his canvas, could give us an exact representation of the ugliest. So, too, the wrestling-master, by the experience which he has gained in anointing, can set a dislocated limb, or, should he wish to do so, dislocate a sound one. But why encumber our argument by multiplying instances? As in the above-mentioned cases no one would deny that he who has learned to practise an art for right purposes can also abuse it for wrong ones, so we say that the faculty of thought and conception was implanted by God in human nature for good, but, with those who abuse it as an instrument of discovery, it frequently becomes the handmaid of pernicious inventions. But although it is thus possible for this faculty to give a plausible shape to what is false and unreal, it is none the less competent to investigate what actually and in very truth subsists, and its ability for the one must in fairness be regarded as an evidence of its ability for the other.

For that one who proposes to himself to terrify or charm an audience should have plenty of conception to effect such a purpose, and should display to the spectators many-handed, many-headed, or fire-breathing monsters, or men enfolded in the coils of serpents, or that he should seem to increase their stature, or enlarge their natural proportions to a ridiculous extent, or that he should describe men metamorphosed into fountains and trees and birds, a kind of narrative which is not without its attraction for such as take pleasure in things of that sort;--all this, I say, is the clearest of demonstrations that it is possible to arrive at higher knowledge also by means of this inventive faculty.

For it is not the case that, while the intelligence implanted in us by the Giver is fully competent to conjure up non-realities, it is endowed with no faculty at all for providing us with things that may profit us. But as the impulsive and elective faculty of the soul is established in our nature, to incite us to what is good and noble, though a man may also abuse it for what is evil, and no one can call the fact that the elective faculty sometimes inclines to evil a proof that it never inclines to what is good--so the bias of conception towards what is vain and unprofitable does not prove its inability for what is profitable, but, on the contrary, is a demonstration of its not being unserviceable for what is beneficial and necessary to the mind. For as, in the one case, it discovers means to produce pleasure or terror, so, in the other, it does not fail to find ways for getting at truth. Now one of the objects of inquiry was whether the First Cause, viz. God, exists without beginning, or whether His existence is dependent on some beginning. But perceiving, by the aid of thought, that that cannot be a First Cause which we conceive of as the consequence of another, we devised a word expressive of such a notion, and we say that He who is without anterior cause exists without origin, or, so to say, ungenerately. And Him Who so exists we call ungenerate and without origin, indicating, by that appellation, not what He is, but what He is not.

But as far as possible to elucidate the idea, I will endeavour to illustrate it by a still plainer example. Let us suppose the inquiry to be about some tree, whether it is cultivated or wild. If the former, we call it planted, if the latter, not planted. And such a term exactly hits the truth, for the tree must needs be after this manner or that. And yet the word does not indicate the peculiar nature of the plant. From the term "not-planted" we learn that it is of spontaneous growth; but whether what is thus signified is a plane, or a vine, or some other such plant, the name applied to it does not inform us.

This example being understood, it is time to go on to the thing which it illustrates. This much we comprehend, that the First Cause has His existence from no antecedent one. Accordingly, we call God ungenerate as existing ungenerately, reducing this notion of ungeneracy into verbal form. That He is without origin or beginning we show by the force of the term. But what that Being is which exists ungenerately, this appellation does not lead us to discern. Nor was it to be supposed that the processes of conception could avail to raise us above the limits of our nature, and open up the incomprehensible to our view, and enable us to compass the knowledge of that which no knowledge can approach(1). Nevertheless, our adversary storms at our Master, and tries to tear to pieces his teaching respecting the faculty of thought and conception, and derides what has been said, revelling as usual in the rattle of his jingling phraseology, and saying that he (Basil) shrinks from adducing evidence respecting those things of which he presumes to be the interpreter. For, quoting certain of the Master's speculations on the faculty of conception, in which he shows that its exercise finds place, not only in reference to vain and trivial objects, but that it is competent to deal also with weightier matters, he, by means of his speculation about the corn, and seed, and other food (in Genesis), brings Basil into court with the charge, that his language is a following of pagan philosophy(2), and that he is circumscribing Divine Providence, as not allowing that words were given to things by God, and that he is fighting in the ranks of the Atheists, and taking arms against Providence, and that he admires the doctrines of the profane rather than the laws of God, and ascribes to them the palm of wisdom, not having observed in the earliest of the sacred records, that before the creation of man, the naming of fruit and seed are mentioned in Holy Writ.

Such are his charges against us; not indeed his notions as expressed in his own phraseology, for we have made such alterations as were required to correct the ruggedness and harshness of his style. What, then, is our answer to this careful guardian of Divine Providence? He asserts that we are in error, because, while we do not deny man's having been created a rational being by God, we ascribe the invention of words to the logical faculty implanted by God in man's nature. And this is the bitterest of his accusations, whereby our teacher of righteousness is charged with deserting to the tenets of the Atheists, and is denounced as partaking with and supporting their lawless company, and indeed as guilty of all the most atrocious offences. Well, then, let this corrector of our blunders tell us, did God give names to the things which He created? For so says our new interpreter of the mysteries: "Before the creation of man God named germ, and herb, and grass, and seed, and tree, and the like, when by the word of His power He brought them severally into being." If, then, he abides by the bare letter, and so far Judaizes, and has yet to learn that the Christian is a disciple not of the letter but of the Spirit (for the letter killeth, says the Apostle, but the Spirit giveth life(3)), and quotes to us the bare literal reading of the words as though God Himself pronounced them--if, I say, he believes this, that, after the similitude of men, God made use of fluency of speech, expressing His thoughts by voice and accent--if, I repeat, he believes this, he cannot reasonably deny what follows as its logical consequence. For our speech is uttered by the organs of speech, the windpipe, the tongue, the teeth, and the mouth, the inhalation of air from without and the breath from within working together to produce the utterance. For the windpipe, fitting into the throat like a flute, emits a sound from below; and the roof of the mouth, by reason of the void space above extending to the nostrils, like some musical instrument, gives volume from above to the voice. And the checks, too, are aids to speech, contracting and expanding in accordance with their structural arrangement, or propelling the voice through a narrow passage by various movements of the tongue, which it effects now with one part of itself now with another, giving hardness or softness to the sound which passes over it by contact with the teeth or with the palate. Again, the service of the lips contributes not a little to the result, affecting the voice by the variety of their distinctive movements, and helping to shape the words as they are uttered.

If, then, God gives things their names as our new expositor of the Divine record assures us, naming germ, and grass, and tree, and fruit, He must of necessity have pronounced each of these words not otherwise than as it is pronounced; i. e. according to the composition of the syllables, some of which are sounded by the lips, others by the tongue, others by both. But if none of these words could be uttered, except by the operation of vocal organs producing each syllable and sound by some appropriate movement, he must of necessity ascribe the possession of such organs to God, and fashion the Divine Being according to the exigencies of speech. For each adaptation of the vocal organs must be in some form or other, and form is a bodily limitation. Further, we know very well that all bodies are composite, but where you see composition you see also dissolution, and dissolution, as the notion implies, is the same thing as destruction. This, then, is the upshot of our controversialist's victory over us; to show us the God of his imagining whom he has fashioned by the name ungeneracy--speaking, indeed, that He may not lose His share in the invention of names, but provided with vocal organs with which to utter them, and not without bodily nature to enable Him to employ them (for you cannot conceive of formal utterance in the abstract apart from a body), and gradually going on to the congenital affections of the body--through the composite to dissolution, and so finding His end in destruction.

Such is the nature of this new-fangled Deity; as deducible from the words of our new God-maker. But he takes his stand on the Scriptures, and maintains that Moses explicitly declares this, when he says, "God said," adding His words, "Let there be light," and, "Let there be a firmament." and, "Let the waters be gathered together ... and let the dry land appear," and, "Let the earth bring forth," and, "Let the waters bring forth," and whatsoever else is written in its order. Let us, then, examine the meaning of what is said. Who does not know, even if he be the merest simpleton, that there is a natural correlation between hearing and speech, and that, as it is impossible for hearing to discharge its function when no one is speaking, so speech is ineffectual unless directed to hearing? If, then, he means literally that "God said," let him tell us also to what hearing His words were addressed. Does he mean that He said them to Himself? If so, the commands which He issues, He issues to Himself. Yet who will accept this interpretation, that God sits upon His throne prescribing what He Himself must do, and employing Himself as His minister to do His bidding? But even supposing one were to allow that it was not blasphemy to say this, who has any need of words and speech for himself, even though a man? For every one's own mental action suffices him to produce choice and volition. But he will doubtless say that the Father held converse with the Son. But what need of vocal utterance for that? For it is a property of bodily nature to signify the thoughts of the heart by means of words, whence also written characters equivalent to speech were invented for the expression of thought. For we declare thought equally by speaking and by writing, but in the case of those who are not too far distant we reach their hearing by voice, but declare our mind to those who are at a distance by written characters; and in the case of those present with us, in proportion to their distance from us, we raise or lower the tones of our voice, and to those close by us we sometimes point out what they are to do simply by a nod; and such or such an expression of the eye is sufficient to convey our determination, or a movement of the hand is sufficient to signify our approval or disapproval of something going on. If, then, those who are encompassed by the body are able to make known the hidden working of their minds to their neighbours, even without voice, or speech, or correspondence by means of letters, and silence causes no hindrance to the despatch of business, can it be that in the case of the immaterial, and intangible, and, as Eunomius says, the Supreme and first Being, there is any need of words to indicate the thought of the Father and to make known His will to the Only-Begotten Son--words, which, as he himself says, are wont to perish as soon as they are uttered? No one, methinks, who has common sense will accept this as the truth, especially as all sound is poured forth into the air. For voice cannot be produced unless it takes consistence in air. Now, even they themselves must suppose some medium of communication between the speaker and him to whom he speaks. For if there were no such medium, how could the voice travel from the speaker to the hearer? What, then, will they say is the medium or interval by which they divide the Father from the Son? Between bodies, indeed, there is an interval of atmospheric space, differing in its nature from the nature of human bodies. But God, Who is intangible, and without form, and pure from all composition, in communicating His counsels with the Only-Begotten Son, Who is similarly, or rather in the same manner, immaterial and without body--if He made His communication by voice, what medium would He have had through which the word, transmitted as in a current, might reach the ears of the Only-Begotten? For we need hardly stop to consider that God is not separable into apprehensive faculties, as we are, whose perceptions separately apprehend their corresponding objects; e. g. sight apprehends what may be seen, hearing what may be heard, so that touch does not taste, and hearing has no perception of odours and flavours, but each confines itself to that function to which it was appointed by nature, holding itself insensible, as it were, to those with which it has no natural correspondence, and incapable of tasting the pleasure enjoyed by its neighbour sense. But with God it is otherwise. All in all, He is at once sight, and hearing, and knowledge; and there we stop, for it is not permitted us to ascribe the more animal perceptions to that refined nature. Still we take a very low view of God, and drag down the Divine to our own grovelling standard, if we suppose the Father speaking with His mouth, and the Son's ear listening to His words. What, then, are we to suppose is the medium which conveys the Father's voice to the hearing of the Son? It must be created or uncreate. But we may not call it created; for the Word was before the creation of the world: and beside the Divine nature there is nothing uncreate. If, therefore, there was no creation then, and the Word spoken of in the cosmogony was older than creation, will he, who maintains that speech and a voice are meant by "the Word," suggest what medium existed between the Father and the Son, whereby those words and sounds were expressed? For if a medium exist, it must needs exist in a nature of its own, so as to differ in nature both from the Father and the Son. Being, then, something of necessity different, it divides the Father and the Son from each other, as though inserted between the two. What, then, could it be? Not created, for creation is younger than the Word. Generated we have learnt the Only-begotten (and Him alone) to be. Except the Father, none is ungenerate. Truth, therefore, obliges us to the conclusion that there is no medium between the Father and the Son. But where separation is not conceived of the closest connection is naturally implied. And what is so connected needs no medium for voice or speech. Now by "connected," I mean here what is in all respects inseparable. For in the case of a spiritual nature the term connection does not mean corporeal connection, but the union and blending of spiritual with spiritual through identity of will. Accordingly, there is no divergence of will between the Father and the Son, but the image of goodness is after the Archetype of all goodness and beauty, and as, if a man should look at himself in a glass (for it is perfectly allowable to explain the idea by corporeal illustrations), the copy will in all respects be conformed to the original, the shape of the man who is reflected being the cause of the shape on the glass, and the reflection making no spontaneous movement or inclination unless commenced by the original, but, if it move, moving along with it,--in like manner we maintain that our Lord, the Image of the invisible God, is immediately and inseparably one with the Father in every movement of His Will. If the Father will anything, the Son Who is in the Father knows the Father's will, or rather He is Himself the Father's will. For, if He has in Himself all that is the Father's, there is nothing of the Father's that He cannot have. If, then, He has all things that are the Father's in Himself, or, say we rather, if He has the Father Himself, then, along with the Father and the things that are the Father's, He must needs have in Himself the whole of the Father's will. He needs not, therefore, to know the Father's will by word, being Himself the Word of the Father, in the highest acceptation of the term. What, then, is the word that can be addressed to Him who is the Word indeed? And how can He Who is the Word indeed require a second word for instruction?

But it may be said that the voice of the Father was addressed to the Holy Spirit. But neither does the Holy Spirit require instruction by speech, for being God, as saith the Apostle, He "searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God(4)." If, then, God utters any word, and all speech is directed to the ear, let those who maintain that God expresses Himself in the language of continuous discourse, inform us what audience He addressed. Himself He needs not address. The Son has no need of instruction by words. The Holy Ghost searcheth even the deep things of God. Creation did not yet exist. To whom, then, was God's word addressed?

But, says he, the record of Moses does not lie, and from it we learn that God spake. No! nor is great David of the number of those who lie, and he expressly says; "The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament showeth His handy work. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night showeth knowledge;" and after saying that the heavens and the firmament declare, and that day and that night showeth knowledge and speech, he adds to what he has said, that "there is neither speech nor language, and that their voices are not heard(5)." Yet how can such declaring and showing forth be other than words, and how is it that no voice addresses itself to the ear? Is the prophet contradicting himself, or is he stating an impossibility, when he speaks of words without sound, and declaration without language, and announcement without voice? or, is there not rather the very perfection of truth in his teaching, which tells us, in the words which I have quoted, that the declaration of the heavens, and the word shouted forth by the day, is no articulate voice nor language of the lips, but is a revelation of the power of God to those who are capable of hearing it, even though no voice be heard?

What, then, do we think of this passage? For it may be that, if we understand it, we shall also understand the meaning of Moses. It often happens that Holy Scripture, to enable us more clearly to comprehend a matter to be revealed, makes use of a bodily illustration, as would seem to be the case in this passage from David, who teaches us by what he says that none of the things which are have their being from chance or accident, as some have imagined that our world and all that is therein was framed by fortuitous and undesigned combinations of first elements, and that no Providence penetrated the world. But we are taught that there is a cause of the system and government of the Universe, on Whom all nature depends, to Whom it owes its origin and cause, towards Whom it inclines and moves, and in Whom it abides. And since, as saith the Apostle, His eternal power and godhead are understood, being clearly seen through the creation of the world(6), therefore all creation and, before all, as saith the Scripture, the system of the heavens, declare the wisdom of the Creator in the skill displayed by His works. And this is. what it seems to me that he is desirous to set forth, viz. the testimony of the things which do appear to the fact that the worlds were framed with wisdom and skill, and abide for ever by the power of Him who is the Ruler over all. The very heavens, he says, in displaying the wisdom of Him Who made them, all but shout aloud with a voice, and, though without voice, proclaim the wisdom of their Creator. For we can hear as it were words teaching us: "O men, when ye gaze upon us and behold our beauty and magnitude, and this ceaseless revolution, with its well-ordered and harmonious motion, working in the same direction and in the same manner, turn your thoughts to Him Who presides over our system, and, by aid of the beauty which you see, imagine to yourselves the beauty of the invisible Archetype. For in us there is nothing without its Lord, nothing that moves of its own proper motion: but all that appears, or that is conceivable in respect to us, depends on a Power Who is inscrutable and sublime." This is not given in articulate speech, but by the things which are seen, and it instils into our minds the knowledge of Divine power more than if speech proclaimed it with a voice. As, then, the heavens declare, though they do not speak, and the firmament shows God's handy-work, yet requires no voice for the purpose, and the day uttereth speech, though there is no speaking, and no one can say that Holy Scripture is in error--in like manner, since both Moses and David have one and the same Teacher, I mean the Holy Spirit, Who says that the fiat went before the creation, we are not told that God is the Creator of words, but of things made known to us by the signification of our words. For, lest we should suppose the creation to be without its Lord, and spontaneously originated, He says that it was created by the Divine Being, and that it is established in an orderly and connected system by Him. Now it would be a work of time to discuss the order of what Moses didactically records in his historical summary respecting the creation of the world. Or (if we did)(7) each second passage would serve to prove more clearly the erroneous and futile character of our adversaries' opinion. But whoever cares to do so may read what we have written on Genesis, and judge whether our teaching or theirs is the more reasonable.

But to return to the matter in question. We assert that the words "He said" do not imply voice and words on the part of God; but the writer, in showing(8) the power of God to be concurrent with His will, renders the idea more easy of apprehension. For since by the will of God all things were created, and it is the ordinary way of men to signify their will first of all by speech, and so to bring their work into harmony with their will, and the scriptural account of the Creation is the learner's introduction, as it were, to the knowledge of God, representing to our minds the power of the Divine Being by objects more ready to our comprehension (for sensible apprehension is an aid to intellectual knowledge), on this account, Moses, by saying that God commanded all things to be, signifies to us the inciting power of His will, and by adding, "and it was so," he shows that in the case of God there is no difference between will and performance; but, on the contrary, that though the purposing initiates God's activity, the accomplishment keeps pace with the purpose, and that the two are to be considered together and at once, viz. the deliberate motion of the mind, and the power that effects its purpose. For the idea of the Divine purpose and action leaves no conceivable interval between them, but as light is produced along with the kindling of fire, at once coming out from it and shining forth along with it--in the same manner the existence of things created is an effect of the Divine will, but not posterior to it in time.

For the case is different from that of men endowed by nature with practical ability, where you may look at capability and execution apart from each other. For example, we say of a man who possesses the art of shipbuilding, that he is always a shipbuilder in respect of his ability to build ships, but that he operates only when he displays his skill in working. It is otherwise with God; for all that we can conceive as in Him is entirely work and action, His will passing over immediately to its object. As, then, the mechanism of the heavens testifies to the glory of their Creator and confesses Him Who made them, and needs no voice for the purpose, so on the other hand any one who is acquainted with the Mosaic Scripture will see that God speaks of the world as His creation, having brought the whole into being by the fiat of His will, and that He needs no words to make known His mind. As, then, he who heard the heavens declaring the glory of God looked not for set speech on the occasion (for, to those who can understand it, the universe speaks through the things which are being done, without regard or care for verbal explanation), so, even if any one hears Moses telling how God gave order and arrangement to each several part of Creation by name, let him not suppose the prophet to speak falsely, nor degrade the contemplation of sublime verities by mean and grovelling notions, thus, as it were, reducing God to a mere human standard, and supposing that after the manner of men he directs His operations by the instrumentality of speech; but let His fiat mean His will only, and let the names of those created things denote the mere reality of their coming into being. And thus he will learn these two things from what is recorded:(1) That God made all things by His will, and(2) that without any trouble or difficulty the Divine Will became nature.

But if any one would give a more sensuous interpretation to the words "God said," as proving that articulate speech was His creation, by a parity of reason he must understand by the words "God saw," that He did so by faculties of perception like our own, through the organs of vision; and so again by the words "The Lord heard me and had mercy upon me," and again, "He smelled a sweet savour(9)," and whatever other sensuous expressions are employed by Scripture in reference to head, or foot, or hand, or eyes, or fingers, or sandals, as appertaining to God, taking them, I say, in their plain literal acceptation, he will present to us an anthropomorphous deity, after the similitude of what is seen among ourselves. But if any one hearing that the heavens are the work of His fingers, that He has a strong hand, and a mighty arm, and eyes, and feet, and sandals, deduces from such words ideas worthy of God, and does not degrade the idea of His pure nature by carnal and sensuous imaginations, it will follow that on the one hand he will regard the verbal utterances as indications of the Divine will, but on the other He will not conceive of them as articulate sounds, but will reason thus; that the Creator of human reason has gifted us with speech proportionally to the capacity of our nature, so that we might be able thereby to signify the thoughts of our minds; but that, so far as the Divine nature differs from ours, so great will be the degree of difference between our notions respecting it and its own inherent majesty and godhead. And as our power compared with God's, and our life with His life, is as nothing, and all else that is ours, compared with what is in Him, is "as nothing in comparison(1)" with Him, as saith the inspired Teaching, so also our word as compared with Him, Who is the Word indeed, is as nothing(2). For this word of yours was not in the beginning, but was created along with our nature, not is it to be regarded as having any reality of its own, but, as our master (Basil) somewhere has said, it vanishes along with the sound of the voice, nor is any operation of the word discernible, but it has its subsistence in voice only, or in written characters. But the word of God is God Himself, the Word that was in the beginning and that abideth for ever, through Whom all things were and are, Who ruleth over all, and hath all power over the things in heaven and the things on earth, being Life, and Truth, and Righteousness, and Light, and all that is good, and upholding all things in being. Such, then, and so great being the word, as we understand it, of God, our opponent allows God, as some great thing, the power of language, made up of nouns, verbs, and conjunctions, not perceiving that, as He Who conferred practical powers on our nature is not spoken of as fabricating each of their several results, but, while He gave our nature its ability, it is by us that a house is constructed, or a bench, or a sword, or a plough, and whatsoever thing our life happens to be in need of, each of which things is our own work, although it may be ascribed to Him Who is the author of our being, and Who created our nature capable of every science,--so also our power of speech is the work of Him Who made our nature what it is, but the invention of each several term required to denote objects in hand is of our own devising. And this is proved by the fact that many terms in use are of a base and unseemly character, of which no man of sense would conceive God the inventor: so that, if certain of our familiar expressions are ascribed by Holy Scripture to God as the speaker, we should remember that the Holy Spirit is addressing us in language of our own, as e.g. in the history of the Acts we are told that each man received the teaching of the disciples in his own language wherein he was born, understanding the sense of the words by the language which he knew. And, that this is true, may be seen yet more clearly by a careful examination of the enactments of the Levitical law. For they make mention of pans, and cakes, and fine flours, and the like, in the mystic sacrifices, instilling wholesome doctrine under the veil of symbol and enigma. Mention, too, is made of certain measures then in use, such as ephah, and nebel(4), and hin, and the like. Are we, then, to suppose that God made these names and appellations, or that in the beginning He commanded them to be such, and to be so named, calling one kind of grain wheat, and its pith flour, and flat sweetmeats, whether heavy or light, cakes; and that He commanded a vessel of the kind in which a moist lump is boiled or baked to be called a pan, or that He spoke of a certain liquid measure by the name of hin or nebel, and measured dry produce by the homer? surely it is trifling and mere Jewish folly, far removed from the grandeur of Christian simplicity, to think that God, Who is the Most High and above every name and thought, Who by sole virtue of His will governs the world, which He brought into existence, and upholds it in being, should set Himself like some schoolmaster to settle the niceties of terminology. Rather let us say, that as we indicate to the deaf what we want them to do, by gestures and signs, not because we have no voice of our own, but because a verbal communication would be utterly useless to those who cannot hear, so, inasmuch as human nature is in a sense deaf and insensible to higher truths, we maintain that the grace of God at sundry times and in divers manners spake by the Prophets, ordering their voices conformably to our capacity and the modes of expression with which we are familiar, and that by such means it leads us, as with a guiding hand, to the knowledge of higher truths, not teaching us in terms proportioned to their inherent sublimity, (for how can the great be contained by the little?) but descending to the lower level of our limited comprehension. And as God, after giving animals their power of motion, no longer prescribes each step they take, for their nature, having once for all taken its beginning from the Creator, moves of itself, and makes its way, adapting its power of motion to its object from time to time (except in so far as it is said that a man's steps are directed by the Lord), so our nature, having received from God the power of speech and utterance and of expressing the will by the voice, proceeds on its way through things, giving them distinctive names by varying inflections of sound; and these signs are the verbs and nouns which we use, and through which we signify the meaning of the things. And though the word "fruit" is made use of by Moses before the creation of fruit, and "seed" before that of seed, this does not disprove our assertion, nor is the sense of the lawgiver opposed to what we have said in respect to thought and conception. For that end of past husbandry which we speak of as fruit, and that beginning of future husbandry which we speak of as seed, this thing, I mean, underlying these names,--whether wheat or some other produce which is increased and multiplied by sowing--does not, he teaches us, grow spontaneously, but by the will of Him Who created them to grow with their peculiar power, so as to be the same fruit and to reproduce themselves as seed, and to support mankind with their increase. And by the Divine will the thing is produced, not the name, so that the substantial things is the work of the Creator, but the distinguishing names of things, by which speech furnishes us with a clear and accurate description of them, are the work and the invention of man's reasoning faculty, though the reasoning faculty itself and its nature are a work of God. And since all men are endowed with reason, differences of language will of necessity be found according to differences of country. But if any one maintain that light, or heaven, or earth, or seed were named after human fashion by God, he will certainly conclude that they were named in some special language. What that was, let him show. For he who knows the one thing will not, in all probability, be ignorant of the other. For at the river Jordan, after the descent of the Holy Ghost, and again in the hearing of the Jews, and at the Transfiguration, there came a voice from heaven, teaching men not only to regard the phenomenon as something more than a figure, but also to believe the beloved Son of God to be truly God. Now that voice was fashioned by God, suitably to the understanding of the hearers, in airy substance, and adapted to the language of the day, God, "who willeth that all men should be saved and come to the knowledge of the truth(6)," having so articulated His words in the air with a view to the salvation of the hearers, as our Lord also saith to the Jews, when they thought it thundered because the sound took place in the air. "This voice came not because of Me, but for your sakes(7)." But before the creation of the world, inasmuch as there was no one to hear the word, and no bodily element capable of accentuating the articulate voice, how can he who says that God used words give any air of probability to his assertion? God Himself is without body, creation did not yet exist. Reason does not suffer us to conceive of anything material in respect to Him. They who might have been benefited by the hearing were not yet created. And if men were not yet in being, neither had any form of language been struck out in accordance with national peculiarities, by what arguments, then, can he who looks to the bare letter make good his assertion, that God spoke thus using human parts of speech?

And the futility of such assertions may be seen also by this. For as the natures of the elements, which are the work of the Creator, appear alike to all, and there is no difference to human sense in men's experience of fire, or air, or water, but the nature of each is one and unchanging, working in the same way, and suffering no modification from the differences of those who partake of it, so also the imposition of names, if applied to things by God, would have been the same for all. But, in point of fact, while the nature of things as constituted by God remains the same, the names which denote them are divided by so many differences of language, that it were no easy task even to calculate their number.

And if any one cites the confusion of tongues that took place at the building of the tower, as contradicting what I have said, not even there is God spoken of as creating men's languages, but as confounding the existing one(8), that all might not hear all. For when all lived together and were not as yet divided by various differences of race, the aggregate of men dwelt together with one language among them; but when by the Divine will it was decreed that all the earth should be replenished by mankind, then, their community of tongue being broken up, men were dispersed in various directions and adopted this and that form of speech and language, possessing a certain bond of union in similarity of tongue, not indeed disagreeing from others in their knowledge of things, but differing in the character of their names. For a stone or a stick does not seem one thing to one man and another to another, but the different peoples call them by different names. So that our position remains unshaken, that human language is the invention of the human mind or understanding. For from the beginning, as long as all men had the same language, we see from Holy Scripture that men received no teaching of God's words, nor, when men were separated into various differences of language, did a Divine enactment prescribe how each man should talk. But God, willing that men should speak different languages, gave human nature full liberty to formulate arbitrary sounds, so as to render their meaning more intelligible. Accordingly, Moses, who lived many generations after the building of the tower, uses one of the subsequent languages in his historical narrative of the creation, and attributes certain words to God, relating these things in his own tongue in which he had been brought up, and with which he was familiar, not changing the names for God by foreign peculiarities and turns of speech, in order by the strangeness and novelty of the expressions to prove them the words of God Himself(9).

But some who have carefully studied the Scriptures tell us that the Hebrew tongue is not even ancient(10) like the others, but that along with other miracles this miracle was wrought in behalf of the Israelites, that after the Exodus from Egypt, the language was hastily improvised(1) for the use of the nation. And there is a(2) passage in the Prophet which confirms this. For he says, "when he came out of the land of Egypt he heard a strange language(3)." If, then, Moses was a Hebrew, and the language of the Hebrews was subsequent to the others, Moses, I say, who was born some thousands of years after the Creation of the world, and who relates the words of God in his own language--does he not clearly teach us that he does not attribute to God such a language of human fashion, but that he speaks as he does because it was impossible otherwise than in human language to express his meaning, though the words he uses have some Divine and profound significance?

For to suppose that God used the Hebrew tongue, when there was no one to hear and understand such a language, methinks no reasonable being will consent. We read in the Acts that the Divine power divided itself into many languages for this purpose, that no one of alien tongue might lose his share of the benefit. But if God spoke in human language before the Creation, whom was He to benefit by using it? For that His speech should have some adaptation to the capacity of the hearers, with a view to their profit, no one would conceive to be unworthy of God's love to man, for Paul the follower of Christ knew how to adapt his words suitably to the habits and disposition of his hearers, making himself milk for babes and strong meat for grown men(4). But where no object was to be gained by such use of language, to argue that God, as it were, declaimed such words by Himself, when there was no one in need of the information they would convey--such an idea, methinks, is at once both blasphemous and absurd. Neither, then, did God speak in the Hebrew language, nor did He express Himself according to any form in use among the Gentiles. But whatsoever of God's words are recorded by Moses or the Prophets, are indications of the Divine will, flashing forth, now in one way, now in another, on the pure intellect of those holy men, according to the measure of the grace of which they were partakers. Moses, then, spoke his mother-tongue, and that in which he was educated. But he attributed these words to God, as I have said, repeatedly, on account of the childishness of those who were being brought to the knowledge of God, in order to give a clear representation of the Divine will, and to render his hearers more obedient, as being awed by the authority of the speaker.

But this is denied by Eunomius, the author of all this contumely with which we are assailed, and the companion and adviser of this impious band. For, changing insolence into courtesy, I will present him with his own words. He maintains, in so many words, that he has the testimony of Moses himself to his assertion that men were endowed with the use of the things named, and of their names, by the Creator of nature, and that the naming of the things given was prior in time to the creation of those who should use them. Now, if he is in possession of some Moses of his own, from whom he has learned this wisdom, and, making this his base of operations, relies on such statements as these, viz. that God, as he himself says, lays down the laws of human speech, enacting that things shall be called in one way and not in another, let him trifle as much as he pleases, with his Moses in the background to support his assertions. But if there is only one Moses whose writings are the common source of instruction to those who are learned in the Divine Word, we will freely accept our condemnation if we find ourselves refuted by the law of that Moses. But where did he find this law respecting verbs and nouns? Let him produce it in the very words of the text. The account of the Creation, and the genealogy of the successive generations, and the history of certain events, and the complex system of legislation, and various regulations in regard to religious service and daily life, these are the chief heads of the writings of Moses. But, if he says that there was any legislative enactment in regard to words, let him point it out, and I will hold my tongue. But he cannot; for, if he could, he would not abandon the more striking evidences of the Deity, for such as can only procure him ridicule, and not credit, from men of sense. For to think it the essential point in piety to attribute the invention of words to God, Whose praise the whole world and the wonders that are therein are incompetent to celebrate--must it not be a proceeding of extreme folly so to neglect higher grounds of praise, and to magnify God on such as are purely human? His fiat preluded Creation, but it was recorded by Moses after human fashion, though Divinely issued. That will of God, then, which brought about the creation of the world by His Divine power, consisted, says our careful student of the Scriptures, in the teaching of words. And as though God had said, "Let there be a word," or, "Let speech be created," or, "Let this or that have such or such an appellation," so, in advocacy of his trifling, he brings forward the fact that it was by the impulse of the Divine will that Creation took place. For with all his study and experience in the Scriptures he knows not even this, that the impulse of the mind is frequently spoken of in Scripture as a voice. And for this we have the evidence of Moses himself, whose meaning he frequently perverts, but whom on this point he simply ignores. For who is there, however slightly acquainted with the holy volume, who does not know this, that the people of Israel who had just escaped(5) from Egypt were suddenly affrighted in the wilderness by the pursuit of the Egyptians, and when dangers encompassed them on all sides, and on one side the sea cut off their passage as by a wall, while the enemy barred their flight in the rear, the people coming together to the Prophet charged him with being the cause of their helpless condition? And when he comforted them in their abject terror, and roused them to courage, a voice came from God, addressing the Prophet by name, "Wherefore criest thou unto Me?(6)" And yet before this the narrative makes no mention of any utterance on the part of Moses. But the thought which the Prophet had lifted up to God is called a cry, though uttered in silence in the hidden thought of his heart. If, then, Moses cries, though without speaking, as witnessed by Him Who hears, those "groanings which cannot be uttered(7)," is it strange that the Prophet, knowing the Divine will, so far as it was lawful for him to tell it and for us to hear it, revealed it by known and familiar words, describing God's discourse after human fashion, not indeed expressed in words, but signified by the effects themselves? "In the beginning," he says, "God created," not the names of heaven and earth, but, "the heaven and the earths(8)." And again, "God said, Let there be light," not the name Light: and having divided the light from the darkness, "God called," he says, "the light Day, and the darkness He called Night."

On these passages it is probable that our opponents will take their stand. And I will agree for them with what is said, and will myself take advantage of their positions(9) further on in our inquiry, in order that what we teach may be more firmly established, no point in controversy being left without due examination. "God called," he says, "the firmament Heaven, and He called the dry land Earth, and the tight Day, and the darkness He called Night." How comes it, then, they will ask, when the Scripture admits that their appellations were given them by God, that you say that their names are the work of human invention? What, then, is our reply? We return to our plain statement, and we assert, that He Who brought all creation into being out of nothing is the Creator of things seen in substantial existence, not of unsubstantial words having no existence but in the sound of the voice and the lisp of the tongue. But things are named by the indication of the voice in conformity with the nature and qualities inherent in each, the names being adapted to the things according to the vernacular language of each several race.

But since the nature of most things that are seen in Creation is not simple, so as to allow of all that they connote being comprehended in one word, as, for instance, in the case of fire the element itself is one thing in its nature while the word which denotes it is another (for fire itself possesses the qualities of shining, of burning, of drying and heating, and consuming whatever fuel it lays hold of, but the name is but a brief word of one syllable), on this account speech, which distinguishes the powers and qualities seen in fire, gives each of them a name of its own, as I have said before. And one cannot say that only a name has been given to fire when it is spoken of as bright, or consuming, or anything else that we observe it to be. For such words denote qualities physically inherent in it. So likewise, in the case of heaven and the firmament, though one nature is signified by each of these words, their difference represents one or other of its peculiar characteristics, in looking at which we learn one thing by the appellation "heaven," and another by "firmament." For when speech would define the limit of sensible creation, beyond which it is succeeded by the transmundane void apprehended by the mind alone, in contrast with the intangible and incorporeal and invisible, the beginning and the end of all material subsistences is called the firmament. And when we survey the environment of terrestrial things, we call that which encompasses all material nature, and which forms the boundary of all things visible, by the name of heaven. In the same manner with regard to earth and dry land, since all heavy and downward-tending nature was divided into these two elements, earth and water, the appellation "dry" defines to a certain extent its opposite, for earth is called dry in opposition to moist, since having thrown off, by Divine command, the water that overspread it, it appeared in its own character. But the name "earth" does not continue to express the signification of some one only of its qualities, but, by virtue of its meaning, it embraces all that the word connotes, e.g. hardness, density, weight, resistance, capability of supporting animal and vegetable life. Accordingly, the word "dry" was not changed by speech to the last name put upon it (for its new name did not make it cease to be called so), but while both the appellations remained, a peculiar signification attached itself to each, the one distinguishing it in nature and property from its opposite, the other embracing all its attributes collectively. And so in light and day, and again in night and darkness, we do not find a pronunciation of syllables created to suit them by the Maker of all things, but rather through these appellations we note the substance of the things which they signify. At the entrance of light, by the will of God the darkness that prevailed over the earliest creation is scattered. But the earth lying in the midst, and being upheld on all sides by its surrounding of different elements, as Job saith, "He hangeth the earth upon nothing(10)," it was necessary when light travelled over one side and the earth obstructed it on the opposite by its own bulk, that a side of darkness should be left by the obscuration, and so, as the perpetual motion of the heavens cannot but carry along with it the darkness resulting from the obscuration, God ordained this revolution for a measure of duration of time. And that measure is day and night For this reason Moses, according to his wisdom, in his historical elucidation of these matters, named the shadow resulting from the earth's obstruction, a dividing of the light from the darkness, and the constant and measured alternation of light and darkness over the surface of the earth he called day and night. So that what was called light was not named day, but as "there was light," and not the bare name of light, so the measure of time also was created and the name followed, not created by God in a sound of words, but because the very nature of the thing assumed this vocal notation. And as, if it had been plainly said by the Lawgiver that nothing that is seen or named is of spontaneous generation or unfashioned, but that it has its subsistence from God, we might have concluded of ourselves that God made the world and all its parts, and the order which is seen in them, and the faculty of distinguishing them, so also by what he says he leads us on to understand and believe that nothing which exists is without beginning. And with this view he describes the successive events of Creation in orderly method, enumerating them one after another. But it was impossible to represent them in language, except by expressing their signification by words that should indicate it. Since, then, it is written that God called the light day, it must be understood that God made the day from light, being something different, by the force of the term. For you cannot apply the same definition to "light" and "day," but light is what we understand by the opposite of darkness, and day is the extent of the measure of the interval of light. In the same way you may regard night and darkness by the same difference of description, defining darkness as the negation of light, and calling night the extent of the encompassing darkness. Thus in every way our argument is confirmed, though not, perhaps, drawn out in strict logical form--showing that God is the Maker of things, not of empty words. For things have their names not for His sake but for ours. For as we cannot always have all things before our eyes, we take knowledge of some of the things that are present with us from time to time, and others we register in our memories. But it would be impossible to keep memory unconfused unless we had the notation of words to distinguish the things that are stored up in our minds from one another. But to God all things are present, nor does He need memory, all things being within the range of His penetrating vision. What need, then, in His case, of parts of speech, when His own wisdom and power embraces and holds the nature of all things distinct and unconfused? Wherefore all things that exist substantially are from God; but, for our guidance, all things that exist are provided with names to indicate them. And if any one say that such names were imposed by the arbitrary usage of mankind, he will be guilty of no offence against the scheme of Divine Providence. For we do not say that the nature of things was of human invention, but only their names. The Hebrew calls Heaven by one name, the Canaanite by another, but both of them understand it alike, being in no way led into error by the difference of the sounds that convey the idea of the object. But the over-cautious and timid will-worship of these clever folk, on whose authority he asserts that, if it were granted that words were given to things by men, men would be of higher authority than God, is proved to be unsubstantial even by the example which we find recorded of Moses. For who gave Moses his name? Was it not Pharaoh's daughter who named him from what had happened(11)? For water is called Moses in the language of the Egyptians. Since, then, in consequence of the tyrant's order, his parents had placed the babe in an ark and consigned it to the stream (for so some related concerning him), but by the will of God the ark was floated by the current and carried to the bank, and found by the princess, who happened just then to be taking the refreshment of the bath, as the child had been gained "from the water," she is said to have given him his name as a memorial of the occurrence,--a name by which God Himself did not disdain to address His servant, nor did He deem it beneath Him to allow the name given by the foreign woman to remain the Prophet's proper appellation.

In like manner before him Jacob, having taken hold of his brother's heel, was called a supplanter(1), from the attitude in which he came to the birth. For those who are learned in such matters tell us that such is the interpretation of the word "Jacob," as translated into Greek. So, too, Pharez was so named by his nurse from the incident at his birth(2), yet no one on that account, like Eunomius, displayed any jealousy of his assuming an authority above that of God. Moreover the mothers of the patriarchs gave them their names, as Reuben, and Simeon, and Levi(3), and all those who came after them. And no one started up, like our new author, as patron of Divine providence, to forbid women to usurp Divine authority by the imposition of names. And what shall we say of other particulars in the sacred record, such as the "waters of strife," and the "place of mourning," and the "hill of the foreskins," and the "valley of the cluster," and the "field of blood," and such-like names, of human imposing, but oftentimes recorded to have been uttered by the Person of God, from which we may learn that men may notify the meaning of things by words without presumption, and that the Divine nature does not depend on words for its evidence to itself?

But I will pass over his other babblings against the truth, possessing as they do no force against our doctrines, for I deem it superfluous to linger any longer over such absurdities. For who can be so wanting in the more important subjects of thought as to waste energy on silly arguments, and to contend with men who speak of us as asserting that "man's forethought is of superior weight and authority to God's guardianship," and that we "ascribe the carelessness which confuses the feebler minds to the providence of God"? These are the exact words of our calumniator. But I, for my part, think it equally as absurd to pay attention to remarks like that, as to occupy myself with old wives' dreams. For to think of securing the dignity of rule and sovereignty to the Divine Being by a form of words, and to show the great power of God to be dependent upon this, and on the other hand to neglect Him and disregard the providence which belongs to Him, and to lay it to our reproach that men, having received from God the faculty of reason, make an arbitrary use of words to signify things--what is this but an old wife's fable, or a drunkard's dream? For the true power, and authority, and dominion, and sovereignty of God do not, we think, consist in syllables. Were it so, any and every inventor of words might claim equal honour with God. But the infinite ages, and the beauties of the universe, and the beams of the heavenly luminaries, and all the wonders of land and sea, and the angelic hosts and supra-mundane powers, and whatever else there is whose existence in the realm above is revealed to us under various figures by Holy Scripture--these are the things that bear witness to God's power over all. Whereas, to attribute the invention of vocal sound to those who are naturally endowed with the faculty of speech, this involves no impiety towards Him Who gave them their voice. Nor indeed do we hold it to be a great thing to invent words significative of things. For the being to whom Holy Scripture in the history of the creation gave the name of "man(4)" (<greek>anqrwpos</greek>), a word of human devising, that same being Job calls "mortal(5)" (<greek>brotos</greek>), while of profane writers, some call him "human being" (<greek>fws</greek>), and others "articulate speaker" (<greek>meroy</greek>)--to say nothing of other varieties of the name. Do we, then, elevate them to equal honour with God, because they also invented names equivalent to that of "man," alike signifying their subject. But, as I have said before let us leave this idle talk, and make no account of his string of revilings, in which he charges us with lying against the Divine oracles, and uttering slanders with effrontery even against God.

To pass on, then, to what remains. He brings forward once more some of the Master's words, to this effect: "And it is in precisely the same manner that we are taught by Holy Scripture the employment of a conception. Our Lord Jesus Christ, when declaring to men the nature of His Godhead, explains it by certain special characteristics, calling Himself the Door, the Bread, the Way, the Vine, the Shepherd, the Light." Now I think it seemly to pass over his insolent remarks on these words (for it is thus that his rhetorical training has taught him to contend with his opponents), nor will I suffer myself to be disturbed by his ebullitions of childish folly. Let us, however, examine one pungent and "irresistible" argument which he puts forward for our refutation. Which of the sacred writers, he asks, gives evidence that these names were attributed to our Lord by a conception? But which of them, I reply, forbids it, deeming it a blasphemy to regard such names as the result of a conception? For if he maintains that its not being mentioned is a proof that it is forbidden, by a parity of reasoning he must admit that its not being forbidden is an argument that it is permitted. Is our Lord called by these names, or does Eunomius deny this also? If he does deny that these names are spoken of Christ, we have conquered without a battle. For what more signal victory could there be, than to prove our adversary to be fighting against God, by robbing the sacred words of the Gospel of their meaning? But if he admits that it is true that Christ is named by these names, let him say in what manner they may be applied without irreverence to the Only-begotten Son of God. Does he take "the stone" as indicative of His nature? Does he understand His essence under the figure of the Axe (not to encumber our argument by enumerating the rest)? None of these names represents the nature of the Only-begotten, or His Godhead, or the peculiar character of His essence. Nevertheless He is called by these names, and each appellation has its own special fitness. For we cannot, without irreverence, suppose anything in the words of God to be idle and unmeaning. Let him say, then, if he disallows these names as the result of a conception, how do they apply to Christ? For we on our part say this, that as our Lord provided for human life in various forms, each variety of His beneficence is suitably distinguished by His several names, His provident care and working on our behalf passing over into the mould of a name. And such a name is said by us to be arrived at by a conception. But if this is not agreeable to our opponents, let it be as each of them pleases. In his ignorance, however, of the figures of Scripture, our opponent contradicts what is said. For if he had learned the Divine names, he must have known that our Lord is called a Curse and Sin(6), and a Heifer(7), and a lion's Whelp(8), and a Bear bereaved of her whelps(9), and a Leopard(1) and such-like names, according to various modes of conception, by Holy Scripture, the sacred and inspired writers by such names, as by well-directed shafts, indicating the central point of the idea they had in view; even though these words, when taken in their literal and obvious signification, seem not above suspicion, but each single one of them, unless we allow it to be predicated of God by some process of conception, will not escape the taint of a blasphemous suggestion. But it would be a lengthy task to bring them forward, and elucidate in every case how, in the general idea, these words have been perverted(2) out of their obvious meanings, and how it is only in connection with the conceptive faculty that the names of God can be reconciled with that reverence which is His due.

But to return. Such names are used of our Lord, and no one familiar with the inspired Scriptures can deny the fact. What then? Does Eunomius affirm that the words are indicative of His nature itself? If so, he asserts that the Divine nature is multiform, and that the variety which it displays in what is signified by the names is very complex. For the meanings of the words Bread and Lion are not the same, nor those of Axe and Water(3), but to each of them we can assign a definition of its own, of which the others do not partake. They do not, therefore, signify nature or essence, yet no one will presume to say that this nomenclature is quite inappropriate and unmeaning. If, then, these words are given us, but not as indicative of essence, and every word given in Scripture is just and appropriate, how else can these appellations be fitly applied to the Only-begotten Son of God, except in connection with the faculty of conception? For it is clear that the Divine Being is spoken of under various names, according to the variety of His operations, so that we may think of Him in the aspect so named. What harm, then, is done to our reverential ideas of God by this mental operation, instituted with a view to our thinking upon the things done, and which we call conception, though if any one choose to call it by some other name, we shall make no objection.

But, like a mighty wrestler, he will not relinquish his irresistible hold on us, and affirms in so many words, that "these names are the work of human thought and conception, and that, by the exercise of this operation of the mind by some, results are arrived at which no Apostle or Evangelist has taught." And after this doughty onslaught he raises that sanctimonious voice of his, spitting out his foul abuse at us with a tongue well schooled to such language. "For," says he, "to ascribe homonyms, drawn from analogy, to human thought and conception is the work of a mind that has lost all judicial sense, and that studies the words of the Lord with an enfeebled understanding and dishonest habit of thought." Mercy on us! what a logical argument! how scientifically it proceeds to its conclusion! Who after this will dare to speak up for the cause of conception, when such a stench is poured forth from his mouth upon those who attempt speaking? I suppose, then, that we, who do attempt speaking, must forbear to examine his argument, for fear of his stirring up against us the cesspool of his abuse. And verily it is weak-minded(4) to let ourselves be irritated by childish absurdities. We will therefore allow our insolent adversary full liberty to indulge in his method as he will. But we will return to the Master's argument, that thence too we may muster reinforcements for the truth. Eunomius has been reminded of "analogy" and has perceived "the homonyms to be derived from it." Now where or from whom did he learn these terms? Not from Moses, not from the Prophets and Apostles, not from the Evangelists. It is impossible that he should have learned them from the teaching of any Scripture. How came he, then, to use them? The very word which describes this or that signification of a thought as analogy, is it not the invention of the thinking faculty of him who utters it(5)? How is it, then, that he fails to perceive that he is using the views he fights against as his allies in the war? For he makes war against our principle of words being formed by the operation of conception, and would endeavour to establish, by the aid of words formed on that very principle, that it is unlawful to use them. "It is not," says he, "the teaching of any of the sacred writers." To whom, then, of the ancients do you yourself ascribe the term "ungenerate," and its being predicated of the essence of God? or is it allowable for you, when you want to establish some of your impious conclusions, to coin and invent terms to your own liking; but if anything is said by some one else in contravention of your impiety, to deprive your adversary of similar licence? Great indeed would be the power you would assume if you could make good your claim to such authority as this, that what you refuse to others should be allowable to you alone, and that what you yourself presume to do by virtue of it, you should prevent others from doing. You condemn, as by an edict, the doctrine that these names were applied to Christ as a result of conception, because none of the sacred writers have declared that they ought so to be applied. How, then, can you lay down the law that the Divine essence should be denoted by the word "ungenerate"--a term which none of the sacred writers can be shown to have handed down to us? For if this is the test of the right use of words, that only such shall be employed as the inspired word of Scripture shall authorize, the word "ungenerate" must be erased from your own writings, since none of the sacred writers has sanctioned the expression. But perhaps you accept it by reason of the sense that resides in it. Well, we ourselves in the same way accept the term "conception" by reason of the sense that resides in it. Accordingly we will either exclude both from use, or neither, and whichever alternative be adopted, we are equally masters of the field. For if the term "ungenerate" be altogether suppressed, all our adversaries' clamour against the truth is suppressed along with it, and a doctrine worthy of the Only-begotten Son of God will shine forth, inasmuch as logical opposition can furnish no name(6) to detract from the majesty of the Lord. But if both be retained, in that case also the truth will prevail, and we along with it, when we have altered the word "ungeneracy" from the substance, into a conception, of the Deity. But so long as he does not exclude the term "ungenerate" from his own writings, let our modern Pharisee admonish himself not to behold the mote that is in our eye, before he has cast out the beam that is in his own.

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