An Exact Exposition of the Orthodox Faith
St. John of Damascus, ca 675-749 A. D.
AN EXACT EXPOSITION OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH, BOOK I, CHAPTER I
'No man hath seen God at any time: the only-begotten Son who is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.' The God-head, then, is ineffable and incomprehensible. For 'no one knoweth the Father but the Son: neither doth any one know the Son, but the Father.' Furthermore, the Holy Spirit knows the things of God, just as the spirit of man knows what is in man. After the first blessed state of nature, no one has ever known God unless God Himself revealed it to him--not only no man, but not even any of the supramundane powers: the very Cherubim and Seraphim, I mean.
Nevertheless, God has not gone so far as to leave us in complete ignorance, for through nature the knowledge of the existence of God has been revealed by Him to all men. The very creation of its harmony and ordering proclaims the majesty of the divine nature. Indeed, He has given us knowledge of Himself in accordance with our capacity, at first through the Law and the Prophets and then afterwards through His only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ. Accordingly, we accept all those things that have been handed down by the Law and the Prophets and the Apostles and the Evangelists, and we know and revere them, and over and above these things we seek nothing else. For, since God is good, He is the author of all good and is not subject to malice or to any affection. For malice is far removed from the divine nature, which is the unaffected and only good. Since, therefore, He knows all things and provides for each in accordance with his needs, He has revealed to us what it was expedient for us to know, whereas that which we were unable to bear He has withheld. With these things let us be content and in them let us abide and let us not step over the ancient bounds or pass beyond the divine tradition.
Now, one who would speak or hear about God should know beyond any doubt that in what concerns theology and the Dispensation not all things are inexpressible and not all are capable of expression, and neither are all things unknowable nor are they all knowable. That which can be known is one thing, whereas that which can be said is another, just as it is one thing to speak and another to know. Furthermore, many of those things about God which are not clearly perceived cannot be fittingly described, so that we are obliged to express in human terms things which transcend the human order. Thus, for example, in speaking about God we attribute to Him sleep, anger, indifference, hands and feet, and the alike.
Now, we both know and confess that God is without beginning and without end, everlasting and eternal, uncreated, unchangeable, inalterable, simple, uncompounded, incorporeal, invisible, impalpable, uncircumscribed, unlimited, incomprehensible, uncontained, unfathomable, good, just, the maker of all created things, all-powerful, all-ruling, all-seeing, the provider, the sovereign, and the judge of all. We furthermore know and confess that God is one, that is to say, one substance, and that He is both understood to be and is in three Presons--I mean the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost--and that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one in all things save in the being unbegotten, the being begotten, and the procession. We also know and convess that for our salvation the Word of God through the bowels of His mercy, by the good pleasure of the Father and with the cooperation of the All-Holy Spirit, was conceived without seed and chastely begotten of the holy Virgin and Mother of God, Mary, by the Holy Ghost and of her became perfect man, being of two natures, the divinity and the humanity, and in two intellectual natures endowed with will and operation and liberty--or, to put it simply, perfect in accordance with the definition and principle befitting each, the divinity, I mean, and the humanity, but with one compound hypostasis. And we know and confess that He hungered and thirsted and was weary, and that He was crucified, and that for three days He suffered death and the tomb, and that He returned into heaven whence He had come to us and whence He will come back to us at a later time. To all this holy Scriputre and all the company of the saints bear witness.
But what the substance of God is, or how it is in all things, or how the only-begotten Son, who was God, emptied Himself out and became man from a virgin's blood, being formed by another law that transcended nature, or how He walked dry-shod upon the waters, we neither understand nor can say. And so it is impossible either to say or fully to understand anything about God beyond what has been divinely proclaimed to us, whether told or revealed, by the sacred declarations of the Old and New Testaments.
Now, the fact that God exists is not doubted by those who accept the sacred Scriptures--both the Old and New Testaments, I mean--nor by the majority of the Greeks, for, as we have said, the knowledge of God's existence has been revealed to us through nature. However, since the wickedness of the Evil One has so prevailed over men's nature as even to drag some of them down to the most unspeakable and extremely wicked abyss of perdition and to make them say that there is no God (of whose folly the Prophet David said: 'The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God'), then the Lord's disciples and Apostles, made wise by the All-Holy Spirit, did by His power and grace show signs from God and draw up those people alive in the net of their miracles from the depths of the ignorance of God to the light of his knowledge. Similarly, the shepherds and teachers who succeeded to their grace of the Spirit and by the power of their miracles and the word of their grace enlightened those who were in darkness and converted those who were in error. Now, let us who have not received the gifts of miracles and teaching, because by our being given to material pleasures we have made ourselves unworthy, let us invoke the aid of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost, and discuss some few of the things which the expounders of grace have handed down to us.
All things are either created or uncreated. Now, if they are created, then they are also definitely changeable, for things whose being originated with a change are definitely subject to change, whether it be by corruption or by voluntary alternation. If, on the other hand, they are uncreated, then it logically follows that they are definitely unchangeable. For, of those things whose being is contrary, the manner of being, which is to say, properties, is also contrary. Who, then, will not agree that all beings that fall within our experience, including even the angels, are subject to change and alteration and to being moved in various ways? The intellectual beings--by which I mean angels and souls and demons--change by free choice, progressing in good or receding, exerting themselves or slackening; whereas the rest change by generation or corruption, increase or decrease, change in quality or change in position. Consequently, things which are changeable must definitely be created. Created beings have certainly been created by something. But the creator must be uncreated, for, if he has been created, then he has certainly been created by some one else--and so on until we arrive at something which has not been created. Therefore, the creator is an uncreated and entirely unchangeable being. And what else would that be but God?
What is more, the very harmony of creation, its preservation and governing, teach us that there is a God who has put all this together and keeps it together, ever maintaining it and providing for it. For how could such contrary natures as fire and water, earth and air, combine with one another to form one world and remain undissolved, unless there were some all-powerful force to bring them together and always keep them that way?
What is it that has ordered the things of heaven and those of earth, the things which move through the air and those which move in the water--nay, rather, the things which preceded them: heaven and earth and the natures of fire and water? What is it that combined and arranged them? What is it that set them in motion and put them on their unceasing and unhindered courses? Or is it that they had no architect to set a principle in them all by which the whole universe be moved and controlled? But who is the architect of these things? Or did not he who made them also bring them into being? We shall certainly not attribute such power to spontaneity. Even grant that they came into being spontaneously; then, whence came their arrangement? Let us grant this, also, if you wish. Then, what maintains and keeps the principles by which they subsisted in the first place? It is most certainly some other thing than mere chance. What else is this, if it is not God?
Thus, it is clear that God exists, but what He is in essence and nature is unknown and beyond all understanding. That He is without a body is obvious, for how could a body contain that which is limitless, boundless, formless, impalpable, invisible, simple, and uncompounded? How could it be immutable, if it were circumscribed and subject to change? And how could that which is composed of elements and reducible to them be not subject to change? Composition is the cause of conflict, conflict the cause of separation and separation the cause of dissolution--but dissolution is altogether foreign to God.
And again, how can the principle be maintained that God permeates and fills all things, as scripture says: 'Do not I fill heaven and earth, saith the Lord'? For it is impossible for one body to permeate others without dividing and being divided, without being blended and contrasted, just as when a number of liquids are mixed together and blended.
Now, should some people speak of an immaterial body, the so-called fifth body of the Greek philosophers, which is impossible, then this will be subject to motion just like the heavens, which they call a fifth body. But, since everything that is moved is moved by another, then who is it that moves this? And who is it that moves that? And so we go on endlessly in this way until such time as we arrive at something that is immoveable. For the first mover is unmoved, and it is just this that is the Divinity. Furthermore, how can that which is not locally contained be moved? Therefore, only the Divinity is unmoved, and by His immovability He moves all things. Consequently, one can only answer that the Divinity is without body.
All this, however, is by no means indicative of His essence--no more than is the fact of His being unbegotten, without beginning, immutable, and incorruptible, or any of those other things which are affirmed of God or about Him. These do not show what He is, but, rather, what He is not. One who would declare the essence of something must explain what it is, but not what it is not. However, as regards what God is, it is impossible to say what He is in His essence, so it is better to discuss Him by abstraction from all things whatsoever. For He does not belong to the number of beings, not because He does not exist, but because He transcends all beings and being itself. And, if knowledge respects beings, then that which transcends knowledge will certainly transcend essence, and, conversely, what transcends essence will transcend knowledge.
The Divinity, then, is limitless and incomprehensible, and this His limitlessness and incomprehensibility is all that can be understood about Him. All that we state affirmatively about God does not show His nature, but only what relates to His nature. And, if you should ever speak of good, or justice, or wisdom, or something else of the sort, you will not be describing the nature of God, but only things relating to His nature. There are, moreover, things that are stated affirmatively of God, but which have the force of extreme negation. For example, when we speak of darkness in God we do not really mean darkness. What we mean is that He is not light, because He transcends light. In the same way, when we speak of light we mean that it is not darkness.
It has been sufficiently demonstrated that God exists and that His essence is incomprehensible. Furthermore, those who believe in sacred Scripture have no doubt that He is one and not several. For the Lord says at the beginning of His lawgiving: 'I am the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt. Thou shalt not have strange gods before me.' And again: 'Hear, O Isreal: the Lord they God is one Lord.' And through the mouth of the Prophet Isaias: 'I am,' He says, 'the first God and I am the last and there is no God besides me. Before me there was no God and after me there shall be none, and beside me there is none.' And the Lord speaks thus to His Father in the holy Gospels: 'This is eternal life: that they may know thee, the only true God.' With those who do not believe in sacred Scripture we shall reason as follows.
The Divinity is perfect and without deficiency in goodness or wisdom or power. He is without beginning, without end, eternal, uncircumscribed; to put it simply, He is perfect in all things. Now, if we say that there are several gods, there must be some difference to be found among them. For if there is no difference at all among them, then there is one God rather than several. But, if there is some difference, then where is the perfection? For, if one should come short of perfection in goodness, or power, or wisdom, or time, or place, then he would not be God. The identity of God in all things shows Him to be one and not several.
And again, if there are several gods, how can one support the fact of God's being uncircumscribed? For where there is one there cannot be another.
And, since there is bound to be conflict among several governing, how can the world be governed by several gods without being broken up and utterly destroyed? Now, should any one say that each one rules over a part, then what was it that arranged for this and made the distribution among them? This last being would more likely be God. God, then, is one, perfect, uncircumscribed, the maker of the universe, the maintainer of order and governor, preceding and transcending all perfection.
Besides all this, it is naturally necessary that the originating principle of duality be unity.
Now, this one sole God is not without a Word. And, if He has a Word, this Word will not be non-subsistent, nor will it have any beginning or end of being. For there never was a time when God the Word was not. God always has His Word begotten of Himself--not like our speech, which is non-subsistent and dissipated in the air, but distinctly subsistent, living and perfect, not passing out from Him but always existing within Him. for where will He be if He is outside of God? Because our nature is mortal and subject to dissolution, for this reason our speech is non-subsistent. But, since God is existing always and is perfect, His Word must be always existing, living, perfect, distinctly subsistent, and having all things that His Begetter has. Now, our speech in proceeding from our mind is not entirely distinct from it. For, in so far as it comes from the mind, it is something distinct from it; whereas, in so far as it reveals the mind itself, it is not entirely distinct from it. Actually, it is identical with it in nature while distinct from it in its subject. Similarly, the Word of God, in so far as He subsists in Himself, is distinct from Him from whom He has His subsistence. But, since He exhibits in Himself thsoe same things which are discerned in God, then in His nature He is identical with God. For, just as perfection in all things is to be found in the Father, so is it also to be found in the Word begotten of Him.
It is further necessary that the Word have a Spirit. Thus, even our own speech is not devoid of breath, although in our case the breath is not of our substance. It is an inhaling and exhaling of the air which is breathed in and out for the sustainment of the body. It is this which on the occasion of articulation becomes the vocal expression of speech and evidences in itself the power of speech. Now, in the simple and uncompounded divine nature the existence of a Spirit of God is piously to be confessed, for the Word of God is no more deficient than our own word. It would be impious to reckon the Spirit as something foreign to God and later introduced from outside, as is the case with us who are compounded. On the contrary, it is as when we heard there was a Word of God and did not conceive of this as not being distinctly subsistent, or as accruing from learning, or as being expressed vocally and being difffused in the air and lost. Rather, we conceived of Him as substantially subsisting, endowed with will and operation, and all-powerful. In the same way, too, having learned that there is a Spirit of God, we conceive of Him as associated with the Word and making the operation of the Word manifest. We do not conceive of Him as an impersonal breath of air, for the majesty of the divine nature would be reduced to low estate if its Spirit were likened to our own breath. Rather, we conceive of Him as a substantial power found in its own individuating personality, proceeding from the Father, coming to rest in the Word and declaring Him, not separated from God in essence or from the Word with whom it is associated, having might, not dissipated away into non-existence, but distinctly subsistent like the Word--living, endowed with will, self-moving, active, at all times willing good, exercising His power for the prosecution of every design in accordance with His will, without beginning and without end. For the Word fell short of the Father in nothing, and the Spirit did not fall short of the Word in anything.
Thus, on the one hand, the unity in nature exposes the polytheistic error of the Greeks; on the other hand, the doctrine of the Word and the Spirit demolishes the teaching of the Jews. At the same time, the good in both of these heresies remain: from the Jewish opinion the unity of nature; and from Hellenism the unique distinction according to persons.
Should the Jew gainsay the doctrine of the Word and the Spirit, then let sacred Scripture refute him and reduce him to silence. Thus the divine David says concerning the Word: 'For ever, O Lord, thy word standeth firm in heaven.' And again: 'He sent his word and healed them.' But a spoken word is not sent and neither does it stand firm forever. Concerning the Spirit the same David says: 'Thou shalt send forth thy spirit, and they shall be created.' And again: 'By the word of the Lord the heavens were established and all the power of them by the spirit of his mouth.' Job likewise says: 'The spirit of God made me: and the breath of the Almighty maintaineth me.' Now a spirit which is sent, and acts, and strengthens, and maintains is not breath which is dissipated any more than the mouth of God is a bodily member. Both in fact are to be understood as appropriately referring to God.
Therefore, we believe in one God: one principle, without beginning, uncreated, unbegotten, indestructible and immortal, eternal, unlimited, uncircumscribed, unbounded, infinite in power, simple, uncompounded, incorporeal, unchanging, unaffected, unchangeable, inalterate, invisible, source of goodness and justice, light intellectual and inaccessible; power which no measure can give any idea of but which is measured only by His own will, for He can do all things whatsoever He pleases; maker of all things both visible and invisible, holding together all things and conserving them, provider for all, governing and dominating and ruling over all in unending and immortal reign; without contradiction, filling all things, contained by nothing, but Himself containing all things, being their conserver and first possessor; pervading all substances without being defiled, removed far beyond all things and every substance as being supersubstantial and surpassing all, supereminently divine and good and replete; appointing all the principalities and orders, set above every principality and order, above essence and life and speech and concept; light itself and goodness and being insofar as having neither being nor anything else that is from any other; the very source of being for all things that are, of life to the living, of speech to the articulate, and the cause of all good things for all; knowing all things before they begin to be; one substance, one godhead, one virtue, one will, one operation, one principality, one power, one domination, one kingdom; known in three perfect Persons and adored with one adoration, believed in and worshiped by every rational creature, united without confusion and distinct without separation, which is beyond understanding. We believe in Father and Son and Holy Ghost in whom we have been baptized. For it is thus that the Lord enjoined the Apostles: 'Baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.'
We believe in one Father, the principle and cause of all things, begotten of no one, who alone is uncaused and unbegotten, the maker of all things and by nature Father of His one and only-begotten Son, our Lord and God and Saviour, Jesus Christ, and Emitter of the All-Holy Spirit. We also believe in one Son of God, the only-begotten, our Lord Jesus Christ, who was begotten of the Father before all the ages, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father, by whom all things were made; in regard to whom, when we say that He is before all ages, we mean that His begetting is outside of time and without beginning, for the Son of God was not brought from nothing into being; who is the brightness of the glory and the figure of the substance of the Father, His living power and wisdom, the subsistent Word, the substantial and perfect and living image of the invisible God. Actually, He was always with the Father, being begotten of Him eternally and without beginning. For the Father never was when the Son was not, but the Father and the Son begotten of Him exist together simultaneously, because the Father could not be so called without a Son. Now, if He was not Father when He did not have the Son, and then later became Father without having been Father before, then He was changed from not being Father to being Father, which is the worst of all blasphemies. For it is impossible to speak of God as naturally lacking the power of begetting. And the power of begetting is the power to beget of oneself, that is, of one's own substance, offspring similar to oneself in nature.
Accordingly, it is impious to say that time intervened in the begetting of the Son and that the Son came into existence after the Father. For we say that the begetting of the Son is of the Father, that is to say, of His nature; and if we do not grant that the Son begotten of the Father exists together with Him from the beginning, then we are introducing a change into the substance of the Father; namely, that He once was not Father, but became Father later. Now, creation, even if it was made at a later time, was not of the substance of God, but was brought from nothing into being by His will and power and does not involve any change in the nature of God. Begetting means producing of the substance of the begetter an offspring similar in substance to the begetter. Creation, on the other hand-- making--is the bringing into being, from the outside and not from the substance of the creator, of something created and made entirely dissimilar [in substance].
Therefore, neither the act of begetting nor that of creation has any effect on the one, unaffected, unvarying, unchanging, and ever-the-same God. For, being simple and uncompounded and, consequently, by nature unaffected and unchanging, He is by nature not subject to passion or change, whether from begetting or from creating, nor does He stand in neeed of any cooperation. On the contrary, because the begetting is an action belonging to His nature and proceeding from His substance, it is without beginning and eternal, so that the Begetter undergoes no change and so that He is not a first God and a later God, but receives no addition. But, since with God creation is a work of His will, it is not co-eternal with Him--which is because it is not of the nature of that which is produced from nothing to be co-eternal with that which is without beginning and always existing. Indeed, God and man do not make in the same way. Thus, man does not bring anything from non-being into being. What man makes he makes from already existing material, not by just willing but by thinking it out beforehand and getting an idea of what he is to make and then working with his hands, toiling and troubling and oftentimes failing because the object of his endeavor does not turn out as he wishes. God, on the other hand, has brought all things from nothing into being by a mere act of His will. Hence, God and man do not beget in the same way. For, since God is without time and without beginning, unaffected, unchanging, incorporeal, unique, and without end, He begets without time and without beginning, unaffectedly unchangingly, and without copulation. Neither does His unfathomable begetting have beginning or end. It is without beginning, because He is immutable; it is unchanging, because He is unaffected and incorporeal; it is without copulation, also because He is incorporeal and because He is the only one God and without need of any other; it is unending and unceasing, because He is without time and without end and ever the same--for that which is without beginning is without end, although that which is without end by a gift of grace is by no means without beginning, as is the case with the angels.
Accordingly, the ever-existing God begets without beginning and without end His own Word as a perfect being, lest God, whose nature and existence are outside of time, should beget in time. Now, it is obvious that man begets in quite another manner, since he is subject to birth and death and flux and increase, and since he is clothed with a body and has the male and female in his nature--for the male has need of the female's help. May He be propitious to us who is beyond all things and surpasses all understanding and comprehension.
Therefore, the holy Catholic and apostolic Church teaches that the Father exists simultaneously with His only-begotten Son, who is begotten of Him without time or change or passion and in a manner beyond understanding, as only the God of all knows. They exist simultaneously, as does the fire with its light--without the fire being first and the light afterwards, but both simultaneously. And just as the light is ever being begotten of the fire, is always in it, and is in no way separated from it, so also is the Son begotten of the Father without in any way being separated from Him, but always existing in Him. However, the light, which is inseparably begotten of the fire and always remains in it, does not have any individual existence apart from the fire, because it is a natural quality of the fire. On the other hand, the only-begotten Son of God, who was inseparably and indivisibly begotten of the Father and abides in Him always, does have His own individual existence apart from that of the Father.
Now the Word is also called 'Brightness' because He was begotten of the Father without copulation, without passion, without time, without change, and without separation. He is also called 'Son' and 'Figure of the substance of the Father' because He is perfect and distinctly subsistent and in all things like the Father except in the Father's being unbegotten. And He is called 'Only-begotten' because He alone was begotten alone of the only Father. For neither is there any other begetting like that of the Son of God, nor is there any other Son of God. Thus, although the Holy Ghost does proceed from the Father, this is not by begetting but by procession. This is another manner of existence and is just as incomprehensible and unknowable as is the begetting of the Son. Hence, the Son has all things whatsoever the Father has, except the Father's being unbegotten, which does not imply any difference in substance, nor any quality, but, rather, a manner of existence. Thus, in the same way, Adam is unbegotten, because he was formed by God, while Seth is begotten, because he is the son of Adam; Eve, too, was not begotten, because she was produced from the rib of Adam. Yet, they do not differ in nature, because they are all human beings; they only differ in the manner of their existence.
Now, one ought to know that ageneton written with one "n" means that which has not been created, or, in other words, that which is unoriginated; while agenneton written with two "n"'s means that which has not been begotten. Therefore, the first meaning implies a difference in essence, for it means that one essence is uncreated, or agenetos with one "n", while some other is created, or originated. On the other hand, the second meaning does not imply any difference in essence, because the first individual substance of every species of living being is unbegotten but not unoriginated. For they were created by the Creator, being brought into existence by His Word. But they were certainly not begotten, because there was no other like substance pre-existing from which they might have been begotten.
Thus, the first meaning applies to all three of the super-divine Persons of the sacred Godhead, for they are uncreated and of the same substance. On the other hand, the second meaning definitely does not apply to all three, because the Father alone is unbegotten insofar as He does not have His being from another person. And only the Son is begotten, for He is begotten of the substance of the Father without beginning and independently of time. And only the Holy Ghost proceeds: not begotten, but proceeding from the substance of the Father. Such is the teaching of sacred Scripture, but as to the manner of the begetting and the procession, this is beyond understanding.
This also should be known, that the terms 'paternity,' 'sonship,' and 'procession' as applied to the blessed Godhead did not originate with us, but, on the contrary, were handed down to us from Scripture, as the divine Apostle says: 'For this cause I bow my knee to the Father, of whom all paternity in heaven and earth is named.'
And if we say that the Father is the principle of the Son and greater than the Son, we are not giving to understand that He comes before the Son either in time or in nature, for 'by him he made the world,' nor in any other thing save causality. That is to say, we mean that the Son is begotten of the Father, and not the Father of the Son, and that the Father is naturally the cause of the Son. Similarly, we do not say that the fire comes from the light, but that the light comes from the fire. So, when we hear that the Father is the principle of the Son and greater than He, let us understand this as being by reason of His being the cause. And just as we do not say that the fire is of one substance and the light of another, neither is it proper to say that the Father is of one substance and the Son of another; on the contrary, they are of one and the same substance. What is more, just as we say that the fire is made visible by the light coming from it, yet do not make the fire's light a subsidiary organ of the fire but, rather, a natural power; in the same way, we say that the Father does all things whatsoever through His only-begotten Son, not as through a subsidiary organ, but as through a natural and distinctly subsistent force. And just as we say that the fire gives light, and, again, that the fire's light gives light, so: 'What things soever the Fother doth, these the Son also doth in like manner.' But the light was not created an individual substance apart from the fire, whereas the Son is a perfect individual substance inseparable from that of the Father, as we have set forth above. For it is impossible to find in creation any image which exactly protrays the manner of the Holy Trinity in Itself. For that which is created is also compounded, variable, changeable, circumscribed, having shape, and corruptible; so, how shall it show with any clarity the supersubstantial divine essence which is far removed from all such? It is evident that all creation is subject to these several conditions and that it is of its own nature subject to corruption.
We likewise believe in the Holy Ghost, the Lord and Giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and abides in the Son; who is adored and glorified together with the Father and the Son as consubstantial and co-eternal with Them; who is the true and authoritative Spirit of God and the source of wisdom and life and sanctification; who is God together with the Father and the Son and is so proclaimed; who is uncreated, complete, creative, almighty, all-working, all-powerful, infinite in power; who dominates all creation but is not dominated; who deifies but is not deified; who fills but is not filled; who is shared in but does not share; who sanctifies but is not sanctified; who, as receivng the intercessions of all, is the Intercessor; who is like the Father and the Son in all things; who proceeds from the Father and is communicated through the Son and is participated in by all creation; who through Himself creates and gives substance to all things and sanctifies and preserves them; who is distinctly subsistent and exists in His own Person indivisible and inseparable from the Father and the Son; who has all things whatsoever the Father and the Son have except the being unbegotten and the being begotten. For the Father is uncaused and unbegotten, because He is not from anything, but has His being from Himself and does not have from any other anything whatsoever that He has. Rather, He Himself is the principle and cause by which all things naturally exist as they do. And the Son is begotten of the Father, while the Holy Ghost is Himself also of the Father--although not by begetting, but by procession. Now, we have learned that there is a difference between begetting and procession, but what the manner of this difference is we have not learned at all. However, the begetting of the Son and the procession of the Holy Ghost from the Father are simultaneous.
Accordingly, all things whatsoever the Son has from the Father the Spirit also has, including His very being. And if the Father does not exist, then neither does the Son or the Spirit; and if the Father does not have something, then neither has the Son or the Spirit. Furthermore, because of the Father, that is, because of the fact that the Father is, the Son and the Spirit are; and because of the Father, the Son and the Spirit have everything that they have, that is to say, because of the fact that the Father has them, excepting the being unbegotten, the begetting, and the procession. For it is only in these personal properties that the three divine Persons differ from one antoher, being indivisibly divided by the distinctive note of each individual Person.
We say that each of the three has perfect distinct subsistence; not, however, in such a way as to understand one perfect nature compounded of three imperfect natures, but one simple essence, eminently and antecedently perfect, in three Persons. For, anything that is made up of imperfect things is most definitely compounded, and it is impossible for there to be a compound of perfect individual substances. Hence, we do not say that the species is of the Persons, but in the Persons. Those things which do not retain the species of the thing made of them we call imperfect. Thus, stone, wood, and iron are each perfect in themselves according to their individual natures; but in relation to a house built of them they are all imperfect, because no one of them by itself is a house.
And so we speak of perfect individual substances to avoid giving any idea of composition in the divine nature. For composition is the cause of disintegration. And again, we say that the three Persons are in one another, so as not to introduce a whole swarm of gods. By the three Persons we understand that God is uncompounded and without confusion; by the consubstantiality of the Persons and their existence in othe another and by the indivisibility of the identity of will, operation, virtue, power, and, so to speak, motion we understand that God is one. For God and His Word and His Spirit are really one God.
One should know that it is one thing actually to observe something and another to see it through reason and thought. Thus, in all creatures there is an actual distinction to be seen between the individual substances. Peter is seen to be actually distinct from Paul. But, that which is held in common, the connection, and the unity is seen by reason and thought. Thus, in our mind we see that Peter and Paul are of the same nature and have one common nature, for each is a rational mortal animal and each is a body animated by a rational and understanding soul. Hence, this common nature is perceived by the reason. Now, individual persons do not exist in one another at all, but each one is separate and by itself, that is to say, is distinct and considered in itself, since it has a great many things to distinguish it from the other. For, truly, they are separated in place and the differ in time, judgment, strength, form--or shape, habit, temperament, dignity, manner of life, and all the other distinctive properties--but most of all they differ by the fact that they do not exist in each other but separately. Hence, we speak of two, or three, or several men.
The aforesaid is true of all creation, but is quite the contrary in the case of the holy, supersubstantial, all-transcendent, and incomprehensible Trinity. For, here, that which is common and one is considered in actuality by reason of the co-eternity and identity of substance, operation, and will, and by reason of the agreement in judgment and the identity of power, virtue, and goodness--I did not say *similarity,* but *identity*--and by reason of the one surge of motion. For there is one essence, one goodness, one virtue, one intent, one operation, one power--one and the same, not three similar one to another, but one and the same motion of the three Persons. And the oneness of each is not less with the others than it is with itself, that is to say, the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one in all things except the being unbegotten, the being begotten, and the procession. It is by thought that the distinction is perceived. For we know one God and Him in the properties of fatherhood, and sonship, and procession only. The difference we conceive of according to cause and effect and the perfection of the Person, that is to say, His manner of existing. For with the uncircumscribed Godhead we cannot speak of any difference in place, as we do with ourselves, because the Persons exist in one another, not so as to be confused, but so as to adhere closely together as expressed in the words of the Lord when He said: 'I in the Father and the Father in me.' Neither can we speak of a difference in will, or judgment, or operation, or vitue, or any other whatsoever of those things which in us give rise to a definite real distinction. for that reason, we do not call the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost three Gods, but one God, the Holy Trinity, in whom the Son and the Holy Ghost are related to one Cause without any composition or blending such as is the coalescence of Sabellius. For they are united, as we said, so as not to be confused, but to adhere closely together, and they have their circumincession one in the other without any blending or mingling and without change or division in substance such as is the division held by Arius. Thus, must one put it concisely, the Godhead is undivided in things divided, just as in three suns joined together without any intervening interval there is one blending and the union of the light. So, when we contemplate the Godhead, and the First Cause, and the Monarchy, and the unity and identity, so to speak, of the motion and will of the Godhead, and the identity of substance, virtue, operation, and dominion, then that which appears to us is One. But, when we contemplate the things in which the Godhead exists, or, to put it more accurately, those things which are the Godhead and which come from the First Cause independently of time, with equal glory, and inseparably--that is, the Persons of the Son and the Spirit--then we adore Three. One Father, the Father without beginning, that is to say, uncaused, for He is from no one. One Son, the Son who is not without beginning, that is to say, not uncaused, for He is from the Father; but, should you take the beginning as being in time, then He is without beginning, because He is the maker of the ages and not subject to time. One Spirit, the Holy Ghost coming forth from the Father, not by filiation but by procession. And, as the Father does not cease to be unbegotten because He has begotten, nor the Son cease to be begotten because He is begotten of the Unbegotten--for how could He?--so neither does the Spirit change into the Father or the Son, because He proceeds and is God. The property is unchangeable, since how would it otherwise remain a property should it be changed and transformed? Thus, if the Son is the Father, then He is not properly the Father, because there is only one who is properly the Father; and, if the Father is the Son, He is not properly the Son, because there is only one who is properly the Son, and only one who is properly the Holy Ghost.
One should know that we do not say that the Father is of anyone, but that we do say that He is the Father of the Son. We do not say that the Son is a cause or a father, but we do say that He is from the Father and is the son of the Father. And we do say that the Holy Ghost is of the Father and we call Him the Spirit of the Father. Neither do we say that the Spirit is from the Son, but we call Him the Spirit of the Son--'Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ,' says the divine Apostle, 'he is none of his.' We also confess that He was manifested and communicated to us through the Son, for 'He breathed,' it says, 'and he said to his disciples: Receive ye the Holy Ghost.' It is just like the rays and brightness coming from the sun, for the sun is the source of its rays and brightness and the brightness is communicated to us through the rays, and that it is which lights us and is enjoyed by us. Neither do we say that the Son is of the Spirit, nor, most certainly, from the Spirit.
The Divinity is simple and uncompounded. But, that which is composed of several different things is compounded. Consequently, should we say that the increate, unoriginate, incorporeal, immortal, eternal, good, creative, and the like are essential differences in God, then, since He is composed of so many things, He will not be simple but compounded, which is impious to the last degree. Therefore, one should not suppose that any one of these things which are affirmed of God is indicative of what He is in essence. Rather, they show either what He is not, or some relation to some one of those things that are contrasted with Him, or something of those things which are consequential to His nature or operation.
Now, it seems that of all the names given to God the more proper is that of HE WHO IS, as when in conversing with Moses on the mountain He says: 'Say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS hath sent me.' For, like some limitless and boundless sea of essence, He contains all being in Himself. But then, as St. Dionysius says, He is 'The Good,' for in God one may not say that the being comes first and then the good afterwards.
A second name is Theos, which derives from Theein, to run, because of His running through all things and having care for them. Or it is from aitho, that is, to burn, because God is a fire consuming all evil. Or it is from his Theasthai, or seeing all things, because nothing escapes Him and He watches over all, and because He saw all things before they came to pass. For He conceived of them independently of time and each one comes to pass at the foreordained time in accordance with the predetermination and image and exemplar contained in His timeless will and design.
The former name, then is expressive of His existence and His essence, while the latter is expressive of His opearation. But the names 'Without beginning,' 'Incorruptible,' 'Unoriginate' or 'Uncreated,' 'Incorporeal,' 'Invisible,' and the like all show that He had no beginning of being, that He is not corruptible, is not created, is not a body, and is not visible. The names 'Good,' 'Just,' 'Holy,' and the like are consequential to His nature and are not indicative of the essence itself. Those of 'Lord,' 'King,' and the like are indicative of a relation to things that are contrasted with Him. Thus, of those that are lorded over He is called Lord, of those that are ruled over He is called King, of those that are created He is called Creator, and of those that are shepherded He is called Shepherd.
All the aforesaid names are to be taken as applying in common, in the same manner, simply, indivisibly, and unitedly to the whole Godhead. But the names 'Father' and 'Son' and 'Spirit,' 'Uncaused' and 'Caused,' 'Unbegotten' and 'Begotten' and 'Proceeding' are to be taken as applying in a different way, because they declare not the essence but the mutual relationship and manner of existence [of the Persons].
Even when we have perceived these things and have been guided by them to the Divine Essence, we still do not grasp the essence itself, but only things relating to it. Just as, although we may know that the soul is without body, without quantity, and without shape, even then we have not grasped its essence. And in the same way, if we happen to know that the body is white or black, we have not comprehended the essence of the body, but only something related to it. True reason teaches us that the Divinity is simple and has one simple operation which is good and which effects all things, like the rays of the sun which warm all things and exercise their force in each in accordance with the natural capacity of each, having received such power of operation from God who created them.
On the other hand, everything that pertains to the divine and benevolent incarnation of the Word of God has a distinct application. For, in these, neither the being Father nor the being Spirit is in any way communicated save by good pleasure and the ineffable wondrous operation which God the Word worked, when, while being God unchangeable and the Son of God, He became a man like us.
Since in sacred Scripture we find many things said symbolically of God as if He had a body, one should know that since we are men clothed in this gross flesh, we are unable to think or speak of the divine, lofty, and immaterial operations of the Godhead unless we have recourse to images, types, and symbols that correspond to our own nature. Consequently, everything that is said of God as if He had a body is said symbolically and has a loftier meaning. Thus, by the eyes and eyelids and sight of God let us understand His power of penetrating all things and His unescapable knowledge, by analogy with our own acquisition of more complete knowledge and certainty through this particular sense. By His ears and hearing let us understand His gracious acceptance of our supplications, for by this sense we, too, become well disposed toward them that petition us and more favorably incline our ear to them. By His mouth and speech let us understand the expression of His will, by analogy with our own expression of our innermost thoughts by mouth and speech. By His food and drink let us understand our concurrence with His will, for by the sense of taste we, too, satisfy the necessary appetite of our nature. By His smelling let us understand His acceptance of our good will toward Him and our thoughts, by analogy with our own perception of fragrance through this sense. By His face let us understand His being declared and revealed through His works, inasmuch as we ourselves are discovered by our faces. By His hands let us understand the prosecution of His operation, for it is by means of our hands that we successfully perform necessary and most worthy works. By His right hand let us understand His aid in advantageous things, by analogy with our own use of our right hand in the performance of the more noble and worthy actions and those which require our full strength. By His touching let us understand His most accurate discernment and exaction of exceedingly minute and hidden things, because those whom we feel all over are unable to conceal anything upon their persons. By His feet and walking let us understand His coming to the aid of the needy, or to work vengeance on enemies, or to do some other thing, by analogy with our accomplishing our own coming through the use of our feet. By His swearing let us understand the immutability of His will, because it is by oaths that we make conventions with one another. By His wrath and indignation let us understand His aversion to evil and His hatred of it, for we, too, hate things which are against our wishes and we are angry at them. By His forgetfulness and His sleep and His drowsiness let us understand His putting off vengeance on His enemies and His delaying aid for His own. Thus, to put it simply, all these things which are affirmed of God as if He had a body contain some hidden meaning which, through things corresponding to our nature, teaches us things which exceed our nature--except it be something said respecting the presence of the Word of God in the flesh. For, for our salvation He took on the whole man, both the intellectual soul and the body, and the peculiar properties of human nature as well as the natural but not blameworthy passions.
In these things, then, have we been instructed by the sacred sayings, as the divine Dionysius the Areopagite has said, namely, that God is the Cause and Principle of all things, the Essence of things that are, the Life of the living, the Reason of the rational, the Understanding of them that have understanding, the Revival and the raising up of them that fall away from Him, the Remaking and Reforming of them that are by nature corruptible, the holy Support of them that are tossed on an unholy sea, the sure Support of them that stand, and the Way and the outstretched guiding Hand to them that are drawn to Him. Moreover, I shall add that He is the Father of them that have been made by Him. For our God, who has brought us from nothing into being, is more properly our Father than they who have begotten us, but who have received from Him both their being and their power to beget. He is the Shepherd of them that follow after Him and are led by Him. He is the Illumination of the enlightened. He is the Initiation of the initiate. He is the Godliness of the godly. He is the Reconciliation of them that are at variance. He is the Simplicity of them that are become simple. He is the Unity of them that seek unity. As Principle of Principles He is the transcendent Principle of every principle. He is the good communication of His hidden things, that is, of His knowledge, insofar as is allowable and meets with the capacity of each individual.
Since the Divinity is incomprehensible, He must remain absolutely nameless. Accordingly, since we do not know His essence, let us not look for a name for His essence, for names are indicative of what things are. However, although God is good and has brought us from nothing into being to share His goodness and has given us knowledge, yet, since He did not communicate His essence to us, so neither did He communicate the knowledge of His essence. It is impossible for a nature to know a nature of a higher order perfectly; but, if knowledge is of things that are, then how will that which is superessential be known? So, in His ineffable goodness He sees fit to be named from things which are on the level of our nature, that we may not be entirely bereft of knowledge of Him but may have at least some dim understanding. Therefore, insofar as He is incomprehensible, He is also unnameable. But, since He is the cause of all things and possesses beforehand in Himself the reasons and causes of all, so He can be named after all things--even after things which are opposites, such as light and darkness, water and fire--so that we may know that He is not these things in essence, but is superessential and unnameable. Thus, since He is the cause of all beings, He is named after all things that are caused.
Wherefore, some of the divine names are said by negation and show His superessentiality, as when He is called 'Insubstantial,' 'Timeless,' 'Without beginning,' 'Invisible'--not because He is inferior to anything or lacking in anything, for all things are His and from Him and by Him were made and in Him consist, but because He is pre-eminently set apart from all beings. The names that are given by negation are predicted of Him as being the cause of all things. For, insofar as He is the cause of all beings and of every essence, He is called 'Being' and 'Essence.' As the cause of all reason and wisdom, and as that of the reasoning and the wise, He is called 'Wisdom' and 'Wise.' In the same way, He is called 'Mind' and 'Understanding,' 'Life' and 'Living,' 'Might' and 'Mighty,' and so on with all the rest. But especially may He be named after those more noble things which approach Him more closely. Immaterial things are more noble than material, the pure more so than the sordid, the sacred more so than the profane, and they approach Him more closely because they participate in Him more. Consequently, He may be called sun and light much more suitably than darkness, day more suitably than night, life more suitably than death, and fire, air, and water (since these are life-giving) more suitably than earth. And, above all, He may be called goodness rather than evil, which is the same thing as to say being rather than non-being, because good is existence and the cause of existence. These are all negations and affirmations, but the most satisfactory is the combination of both, as, for example, the 'superessential Essence,' the 'superdivine Godhead,' the 'Principle beyond all principles,' and so on. There are also some things which are affirmed of God positively, but which have the force of extreme negation, as, for example, darkness--not because God is darkness, but because He is light and more than light.
And so, God is called 'Mind,' and 'Reason,' and 'Spirit,' and 'Wisdom,' because He is the cause of these, and because He is immaterial, and because He is all-working and all-powerful. And these names, both those given by negation and those given by affirmation, are applied jointly to the whole Godhead. They also apply in the same way, identically, and without exception, to each one of the Persons of the Holy Trinity. Thus, when I think of one of the Persons, I know that He is perfect God, a perfect substance, but when I put them together and combine them, I know one perfect God. For the Godhead is not compounded, but is one perfect, indivisible, and uncompounded being in three perfect beings. However, whenever I think of the negation of the Persons to one another, I know that the Father is a supersubstantial sun, a well-spring of goodness, an abyss of essence, reason, wisdom, power, light, and divinity, a begetting and emitting well-spring of the good hidden in Himself. Thus, He is 'Mind,' 'Abyss of reason,' 'Begetter of the Word,' and, through the Word, 'Emitter' of the revealing Spirit. And, not to speak at too great length, the Father has no reason, wisdom, power, or will other than the Son, who is the only power of the Father and the primordial force of the creation of all things. As a perfect hypostasis begotten of a perfect hypostasis, in a manner which He alone knows, is He who is the Son and is so called. Then there is the Holy Ghost, a power of the Father revealing the hidden things of the Godhead and proceeding from the Father through the Son, not by begetting, but in a manner which He alone knows. Wherefore the Holy Ghost is also perfecter of the creation of all things. Consequently, whatsoever pertains to the Father as cause, well-spring, and begetter must be attributed to the Father alone. Whatsoever pertains to the Son as caused, begotten son, word, primordial force, will, and wisdom must be attributed to the Son alone. And whatsoever pertains to the caused, proceeding, revealing, and perfecting power must be attributed to the Holy Ghost. The Father is well-spring and cause of Son and Holy Ghost--He is Father of the only Son and Emitter of the Holy Ghost. The Son is son, word, wisdom, power, image, radiance, and type of the Father, and He is from the Father. And the Holy Ghost is not a son of the Father, but He is the Spirit of the Father as proceeding from the Father. For, without the Spirit, there is no impulsion. And He is the Spirit of the Son, not as being from Him, but as proceeding through Him from the Father--for the Father alone is Cause.
Place is physical, being the limits of the thing containing within which the thing contained is contained. The air, for example, contains and the body is contained, but not all of the containing air is the place of the contained body, but only those limits of the containing air which are adjacent to the contained body. And this is necessarily so, because the thing containing is not in the thing contained.
However, there is also an intellectual place where the intellectual and incorporeal nature is thought of as being and where it actually is. There it is present and acts; and it is not physically contained, but spiritually, because it has no form to permit it to be physically contained. Now, God, being immaterial and uncircumscribed, is not in a place. For He, who fills all things and is over all things and Himself encompasses all things, is His own place. However, God is also said to be in a place; and this place where God is said to be is there where His operation is plainly visible. Now, He does pervade all things without becoming mixed with them, and to all things He communicates His operation in accordance with the fitness and receptivitiy of each--in accordance with their purity of nature and will, I mean to say. For the immaterial things are purer than the material and the virtuous more pure than such as are partisan to evil. Thus, the place where God is said to be is that which experiences His operation and grace to a greater extent. For this reason, heaven is His Throne, because it is in heaven that the angels are who do his will and glorify Him unceasingly. For heaven is His resting place and the earth his footstool, because on the earth He conversed in the flesh with men. and the sacred flesh of God has been called His foot. The Church, too, is called the place of God, because we have set it apart for His glorification as a sort of hallowed spot in which we also make our intercessions to him. In the same way, those places in which His operation is plainly visible to us, whether it is realized in the flesh or out of the flesh, are called places of God.
Moreover, one must know that the Divinity is without parts and that He is wholly everywhere in His entirety, not being physically distributed part for part, but wholly in all things and wholly over the universe.
Although the angel is not contained physically in a place so as to assume form and shape, he is said to be in a place because of his being spiritually present there and acting according to his nature, and because of his being nowhere else but remaining spiritually circumscribed there where he acts. For he cannot act in different places at the same time, because only God can act everywhere at the same time. For the angel acts in different places by virtue of a natural swiftness and his ability to pass without delay, that is, swiftly, from place to place; but the Divinity being everywhere and beyond all at the same time acts in different places by one simple operation.
The soul is united with the body, the entire soul with the entire body and not part for part. And it is not contained by the body, but rather contains it, just as heat does iron, and, although it is in the body, carries on its own proper activities.
Now, to be circumscribed means to be determined by place, time, or comprehension, while to be contained by none of these is to be uncircumscribed. So the Divinity alone is uncircumscribed, who is without beginning and without end, who embraces all things and is grasped by no comprehension at all. For He alone is incomprehensible, undefinable, and known by no one; and He alone has a clear vision of Himself. The angel, however, is circumscribed by time, because he had a beginning of being; and by place, even though it be spiritually, as we have said before; and by comprehension, because their natures are to some extent known to each other and because they are completely defined by the Creator. Bodies also are circumscribed by beginning, end, physical place, and comprehension.
The Divinity, therefore, is absolutely unchangeable and inalterable. For, all things which are not in our power He predetermined by His foreknowledge, each one in its own proper time and place. It is in this sense that it is said: 'Neither does the Father judge any man: but hath given all judgment to the Son.' For, of course, the Father has judged, and so has the Son of God, and so has the Holy Ghost. But, as man, the Son Himself will come down in His body and sit upon the throne of glory--for both the coming down and the sitting will be of His circumscribed body--and He will judge the whole world in equity.
All things are far from God: not in place, but in nature. With us, prudence and wisdom and counsel come and go like habits, but that is certainly not the case with God. With Him, nothing comes into being or ceases to be, and one must not speak of accidents, because He is inalterable and unchangeable. The good is concomitant to His essence. He sees God who always longs for Him, for all things that are are dependent upon Him who is, so that it is impossible for anything to be, unless it have its being in Him who is. Indeed, insofar as He sustains their nature, God is mixed in with all things. God the Word, however, was united to His sacred body hypostatically and was combined with our nature without being mingled with it.
No one sees the Father, except the Son and the Spirit.
The Son is the counsel, the wisdom, and the power of the Father. For we must not speak of quality in God, lest we say that He is composed of substance and quality.
The Son is from the Father, and whatsoever He has He has from Him. For that reason, He can do nothing of Himself. Thus, He has no operation that it is distinct from the Father.
That God, although invisible by nature, becomes visible through His operations we know from the arrangement of the world and from its governing.
The Son is image of the Father, and image of the Son is the Spirit, through whom the Christ dwelling in man gives it to him to be to the image of God.
The Holy Ghost is God. He is the median of the Unbegotten and the Begotten and He is joined with the Father through the Son. He is called Spirit of God, Spirit of Christ, Mind of Christ, Spirit of the Lord, True Lord, Spirit of adoption, freedom, and wisdom--for He is the cause of all these. He fills all things with His essence and sustains all things. In His essence He fills the world, but in His power the world does not contain Him.
God is substance eternal, unchangeable, creative of the things that are, and to be adored with devout consideration.
The Father is also God. It is He who is ever-unbegotten, because He was never begotten of anyone, but He has begotten a co-eternal Son. The Son is also God. It is He who is ever with the Father, having been begotten of Him timelessly, eternally, without change, without passion, and without cease. The Holy Ghost is also God. He is a sanctifying force that is subsistent, that proceeds unceasingly from the Father and abides in the Son, and that is of the same substance as the Father and the son.
The Word is He who is ever present with the Father substantially. In another sense, a word is the natural movement of the mind, by which the mind moves and thinks and reasons, as if it were the light and radiance of the mind. And again, a word is that internal thought which is spoken in the heart. Still again, there is the spoken word which is a messenger of the mind. Now, God the Word is both substantial and subsistent, while the other three kinds of word are faculties of the soul and are not found to exist in their own hypostases. The first of these is a product of the mind, ever springing naturally from the mind. The second is called internal, and the third called spoken.
The term 'spirit' is understood in several ways. There is the Holy Spirit. And the powers of this Holy Spirit are also called spirits. The good angel is likewise a spirit, and so is the demon and the soul. There are times when even the mind is called spirit. The wind is also a spirit, and so is the air.
The uncreate, the unoriginate, the immortal, the boundless, the eternal, the immaterial, the good, the creative, the just, the enlightening, the unchangeable, the passionless, the uncircumscribed, the uncontained, the unlimited, the indefinable, the invisible, the inconceivable, the wanting nothing, the having absolute power and authority, the life-giving, the almighty, the infinitely powerful, the sanctifying and communicating, the containing and sustaining all things, and the providing for all--all these and the like He possesses by His nature. They are not received from any other source; on the contrary, it is His nature that communicates all good to His own creatures in accordance with the capacity of each.
The abiding and resting of the Persons in one another is not in such a manner that they coalesce or become confused, but, rather, so that they adhere to one another, for they are without interval between them and inseparable and their mutual indwelling is without confusion. for the Son is in the Father and the Spirit, and the Spirit is in the Father and the Son, and the Father is in the Son and the Spirit, and there is no merging or blending or confusion. And there is one surge and one movement of the three Persons. It is impossible for this to be found in any created nature.
Then there is the fact that the divine irradiation and operation is one, simple, and undivided; and that, while it is apparently diversely manifested in divisible things, dispensing to all of them the components of their proper nature, it remains simple. Indivisibly, it is multiplied in divisible things, and, gathering them together, it reverts them to its own simplicity. For, toward Him all things tend, and in Him they have their existence, and to all things He communicates their being in accordance with the nature of each. He is the being of things that are, the life of the living, the reason of the rational, and the intelligence of intelligent beings. He surpasses intelligence, reason, life, and essence.
And then again, there is His pervading of all things without Himself being contaminated, whereas nothing pervades Him. And yet again, there is His knowing of all things by a simple act of knowing. And there is His distinctly seeing with His divine, all-seeing, and immaterial eye all things at once, both present and past and future, before they come to pass. And there is His sinlessness, His forgiving of sins and saving. And, finally, there is the fact that all that He wills He can do, even though He does not will all the things that He can do--for He can destroy the world, but He does not will to do so.
END OF BOOK I
SAINT JOHN OF DAMASCUS
AN EXACT EXPOSITION OF THE ORTHODOX FAITH, BOOK THREE
And so, man succumbed to the assault of the demon, the author of evil; he failed to keep the Creator's commandment and was stripped of grace and deprived of that familiarity which he had enjoyed with God; he was clothed with the roughness of his wretched life--for this is what the fig leaves signify--and put on death, that is to say, the mortality and grossness of the flesh--for this is what the garment of skins signifies; he was excluded from paradise by the just judgment of God; and was condemned to death and made subject to corruption.
Even then the Compassionate One, who had given him his being and had favored him with a blessed existence, did not disregard him. On the contrary, He first schooled him and exhorted him to conversion in many ways--by groaning and trembling, by a flood of waters and the near destruction of the entire race, by the confusion and division of tongues, by the tutelage of angels, by the destruction of cities by fire, by prefigurative divine appearances, by war, victories and defeats, by signs and portents, by diverse influences, by the Law and the Prophets, all of which were directed to the destruction of that sin which had abounded under many forms and had enslaved man and heaped every sort of evil into his life, and to his return to the blessed existence.
Since it was by sin that death had come into the world like some wild and savage beast to destroy the life of man, it was necessary for the one who was to effect a redemption to be sinless and not liable to the death which is due to sin. And it was further necessary for human nature to be strengthened and renewed, to be taught by experience, and to learn the way of virtue which turns back from destruction and leads to eternal life.
Finally, the great sea of His benevolence toward man was made manifest, for the Creator and Lord Himself took up the struggle in behalf of His own creation and became a teacher in deed. And, since the enemy had caught man with the bait of the hope of divinity, he himself was taken with the bait of the barrier of the flesh; and at the same time the goodness and wisdom and justice and power of God were made manifest. His goodness, because He did not despise the weakness of His own handiwork, but, when he fell, had compassion on him and stretched out His hand to him. His justice, because, when man had suffered defeat, He did not have another conquer the tyrant nor did He snatch man away from death by force, but He, the Good and Just, made him victor against whom death had once enslaved through sin; and like He rescued by like, which was most difficult to do. And His wisdom, because He found the most fitting solution for this most difficult problem.
For by the good pleasure of God the Father the only-begotten Son and Word of God and God, who is in the bosom of God the Father, consubstantial with the Father and with the Holy Ghost, existing before the ages, without beginning, who was in the beginning and was with God the Father and was God, He, being in the form of God, bowed down the heavens and descended-- that is, without lowering it, He brought down His exalted sublimity and condescended to His servants with an ineffable and incomprehensible condescension, for such is the meaning of the term condescension. And He, while being perfect God, became perfect man and accomplished the newest of all new things, the only new thing under the sun, by which the infinite power of God was clearly shown. For what is greater than for God to become man? So, without suffering change, the Word was made flesh of the Holy Ghost and the holy and ever-virgin Mary, Mother of God. And He stands as mediator between God and men. He, the only loving One, was conceived in the immaculate womb of the Virgin not by the will of man, nor by concupiscence, nor by the intervention of a husband, nor by pleasurable generation, but of the Holy Ghost and the first offspring of Adam. And He became obedient to the Father by healing our disobedience with that which is like to us and which was taken from us, and by becoming to us a model of that obedience without which it is impossible to attain salvation.
Now, an angel of the Lord was sent to the holy Virgin, who was descended from the tribe of David, 'for it is evident that our Lord sprung out of Juda: of which tribe no one attended on the altar,' as the divine Apostle said and concerning which we shall speak more fully later on. Bringing the good tidings to her, he said: 'Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee.' And she was troubled at his saying, and the angel said to her: 'Fear not, Mary, for thou hast found grace with God, and thou shalt bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for he shall save his people from their sins.' it is for this reason that the name Jesus is interpreted as meaning saviour. And she was troubled and said: 'How shall this be done to me, because I know not man?' Again the angel spoke to her: 'The Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Most High shall overshadow thee. And therefore also the Holy which shall be born to thee shall be called the Son of God.' Then she said to him: 'Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to thy word.'
And so, after the holy Virgin had given her assent, the Holy Ghost came upon her according to the Lord's word, which the angel had spoken, and purified her and gave her the power both to receive the divinity of the Word and to beget. Then the subsistent Wisdom and Power of the Most High, the Son of God, the Consubstantial with the Father, overshadowed her like a divine seed and from her most chaste and pure blood compacted for Himself a body animated by a rational and intellectual soul as first-fruits of our clay. This was not by seed, but by creation through the Holy Ghost, with the form not being put together bit by bit, but being completed all at once with the Word of God Himself serving as the person to the flesh. For the divine Word was not united to an already self-subsistent flesh, but, without being circumscribed, came in His own person to dwell in the womb of the holy Virgin and from the chaste blood of the ever-virgin made flesh subsist animated by a rational and intellectual soul. Taking to Himself the first-fruits of the human clay, the very Word became person to the body. Thus, there was a body which was at once the body of God the Word and an animate, rational, intellectual body.
Therefore, we do not say that man became God, but that God became man. For, while He was by nature perfect God, the same became by nature perfect man. He did not change His nature and neither did He just appear to become man. On the contrary, without confusion or alteration or division He became hypostatically united to the rationally and intellectually animated flesh which He had from the holy Virgin and which had its existence in Him. He did not transform the nature of his divinity into the substance of His flesh, nor the substance of His flesh into the nature of His divinity, and neither did He effect one compound nature out of His divine nature and the human nature which He had assumed.
The natures were united to each other without change and without alteration. The divine nature did not give up its proper simplicity, and the human nature was certainly not changed into the nature of the divinity, nor did it become non-existent. Neither was there one compound nature made from the two natures. For the compounded nature can in no wise be consubstantial with either one of the natures from which it has been compounded, since from diverse natures it has been made into something else. For example, the body, which is made up of the four elements, is not said to be consubstantial with fire, nor is it called fire, nor is it called water or earth or air either, nor is it consubstantial with any one of these.
Accordingly, if Christ had one compound nature after the union, having changed from one simple nature to a compound one, as the heretics say, then he is neither consubstantial with His Father, who has a simple nature, nor with His Mother, because she was not composed of divinity and humanity. Nor, indeed, will He belong to divinity or humanity, nor can He be called God or man, but just Christ alone, and, according to them, 'Christ' will not be the name of the person but the name of the one nature.
We, however, declare that Christ has a compound nature, not in the sense of something new made from different things, as man is made up of body and soul or as the body is composed of the four elements, but in the sense of being made up of different things which remain the same. For we confess that from divinity and humanity there is the same perfect God and that He both is and is said to be of two natures and in two natures. We say that the term 'Christ' is the name of the person and that it is not used in a restricted sense, but as signifying what is of the two natures. Thus, He anointed Himself--as God, anointing His body with His divinity, but as man, being anointed, because He is both the one and the other. Moreover, the anointing of the humanity is the divinity. Now, if Christ, who is consubstantial with the Father, has one compounded nature, then the Father, too, will certainly be compounded and consequently consubstantial wit the flesh, which is absurd and redolent of every blasphemy.
What is more, how can one nature comprise different substances that are contradictory? How is it possible for the same nature to be at once created and uncreated, mortal and immortal, circumscribed and uncircumscribed?
Now, were they to say that Christ had one nature and that this was simple, then either they would be confessing Him to be pure God and would be introducing a mere appearance that would not be incarnation, or they would be confessing Him to be mere man after the manner of Nestorius. Then, where is the perfection in divinity and the perfection in humanity? How can they ever say that christ has two natures, while they are asserting that after the union He has one compound nature? For it is obvious to anyone that, before the union, Christ had one nature.
However, the reason for the heretics' error is their saying that nature and hypostasis are the same thing. Now, when we say that men have one nature, it must be understood that we do not say this with the body and soul in mind, because it is impossible to say that the soul and the body as compared to each other have one nature. Nevertheless, when we take a number of human hypostases, all of these are found to admit of the same basis of their nature. All are made up of a soul and a body, all share the nature of the soul and possess the substance of the body, and all have a common species. Thus, we say that several different persons have one nature, because each person has two natures and is complete in these two natures, that is to say, the natures of the soul and of the body.
In the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, however, it is impossible to have a common species, for there never was, nor is, nor ever will be another Christ of divinity and humanity, in divinity and humanity, the same being perfect God and perfect man. Hence, in the case of our Lord Jesus Christ, one cannot speak of one nature made up of divinity and humanity as one can in the case of the individual made up of soul and body. In this last case we have an individual, but Christ is not an individual, because He does not have a predicted species of Christness.
It is precisely for this reason that we say that it was of two perfect natures, the divine and the human, that the union was made. It was not made by mixing, or mingling, or blending, or compounding as was asserted by the fatal Dioscorus, by Eutyches, too, and Severus, and their accursed associates; neither was it apparent (ãpoåwãik¤) nor relative, nor by dignity or harmony of will or equality in honor or identity of name or complaisance as was asserted by that enemy of God, Nestorius, and by Diodorus, too, and Theodore of Mopsuestia, and their hellish band. Rather, it was by composition--hypostatically, that is to say--without change or mingling or alteration or division or separation. And we confess one person of the Son of God incarnate in two natures that remain perfect, and we declare that the Person of His divinity and of His humanity is the same and confess that the two natures are preserved intact in Him after the union. We do not set each nature apart by itself, but hold them to be united to each other in one composite Person. For we say that the union is substantial; that is to say, true and not imaginary. We do not, however, define the substantial union as meaning that the two natures go to make up one compound nature, but as meaning that they are truly united to each other into one composite Person of the Son of God, each with its essential difference maintained intact. Thus, that which was created remained created, and that which was uncreated, uncreated; the mortal remained mortal and the immortal, immortal; the circumscribed remained circumscribed and the uncircumscribed, uncircumscribed; the visible remained visible and the invisible, invisible. 'The one glows with miracles, while the other has succumbed to insults.'
Moreover, the Word makes human things His own, because what is proper to His sacred flesh belongs to Him; and the things which are His own he communicates to His flesh. This is after the manner of exchange on account of the mutual immanence of the parts and the hypostatic union and because He who 'with each form cooperating with the other performed' both divine and human acts was one and the same. Wherefore, the Lord of Glory is even said to have been crucified, although His divine nature did not suffer; and the Son of Man is confessed to have been in heaven before His passion, as the Lord Himself has said. For one and the same was the Lord of Glory and He who was naturally and truly Son of Man, that is, He who became man. And we recognize both the miracles and the sufferings as His, even though it was in one nature that He worked miracles and in aother that He endured suffering. For we know that His one Person thus preserves for itself the essential difference of the natures. How, indeed, would the difference be preserved, were not those things preserved in which the differ from each other? For difference is that by which things that are different differ. Therefore, we say that Christ is joined to the extremes by the fact of His natures differing from each other, that is, by the fact of His essence. On the one hand, He is joined to the Father and the Spirit by His divinity, while on the other He is joined by His humanity to His Mother and to all men. However, because of the fact that His natures are united, we say that He differs both from the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and other men. For His natures are united in His person and have one composite Person, and in this He differs both from the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and us.
We have repeatedly said that *substance* is one thing and *person* another, and that *substance* means the common species including the persons that belong to the same species--as, for example, God, man--while *person* indicates an individual, as Father, Son, Holy Ghost, Peter, Paul. One must furthermore know that the terms *divinity* and *humanity* are indicative of the substances or natures, but that the terms *God* and *man* are used in reference to the nature, as when we say: 'God is an incomprehensible substance' and 'God is one.' But these are also taken as referring to the persons, with the more particular receiving the name of the more general, as when Scripture says: 'Therefore God, thy God, hath anointed thee,' for in this case it means the Father and the Son. And agin, when it says: 'There was a man in the land of Hus,' for it means Job only.
Since, then, in our Lord Jesus Christ we recognize two natures and one composite Person for both, when we are considering the natures, we call them divinity and humanity. But, when we consider the composite Person of the two natures, we sometimes call Christ both God and Man and God incarnate, naming Him from both; and sometimes we name Him from one of the two and call Him just God and Son of God, or just Man and Son of Man. And also, we sometimes name Him from just the sublime attributes and sometimes from just the more humble ones. For He is one who is alike both the one and the other--the one existing uncaused and eternally from the Father; the other come into being at a later time because of love for men.
Therefore, when we speak of the divinity, we do not attribute the properties of the humanity to it. Thus, we never speak of a passible or created divinity. Neither do we predicate the divine properties of the flesh, for we never speak of uncreated flesh or humanity. In the case of the person, however, whether we name it from both of the parts or from one of them, we attribute the properties of both the natures to it. And thus, Christ--which name covers both together--is called both God and man, created and uncreated, passible and impassible. And whenever He is named Son of God and God from one of the parts, He receives the properties of the co-existent nature, of the flesh, that is to say, and can be called passible God and crucified Lord of Glory--not as being God, but insofar as the same one is also man. When, again, He is named Man and the Son of Man, He is given the properties and splendors of the divine nature. He is called Child before the Ages and Man without beginning, not as a child or a man, but as God, who is before the ages and became a child in latter times. Such, then, is the manner of this exchange by which each nature communicates its own properties to the other through the identity of their person and their mutual immanence. This is how we can say of Christ: 'This is our God, who was seen upon earth and conversed with men,' and: 'This man is uncreated, impassible, and uncircumscribed.'
In the Divinity we confess one nature, while we hold three really existing Persons. And we hold everything belonging to the nature and the essence to be simple, while we recognize the difference of the Persons as residing only in the three properties of being uncaused and Father, of being caused and Son, and of being caused and proceeding. And we understand them to be inseparable and without interval between them, and united to one another and mutually immanent without confusion. And we understand them, while being separated without interval, to be united without confusion, for they are three, even though they are united.
For, although each is subsistent in itself, that is to say, is a perfect Person and has its own property or distinct manner of existence, they are united in their essence and natural properties and by their not being separated or removed from the Person of the Father, and they are one God and are so called. In the same way, when it comes to that divine and ineffable Incarnation of one of the Holy Trinity, God the Word and our Lord Jesus Christ, which surpasses all understanding and comprehension, while we confess two natures, a divine and a human, conjoined with each other and hypostaticaly united, we also confess one composite Person made of those natures. We furthermore hold that, even after the union, the two natures are preserved intact in the one composite person, that is to say, in the one Christ, and that they and their natural properties have real existence, being nevertheless united without confusion, differing without separation, and numbered.
Now, just as the three Persons of the Holy Trinity are united without confusion and are distinct without separation and have number without the number causing division, or separation, or estrangement, or severance wmong them--for we recognize that the Father and the Son and the Holy Ghost are one God--so in the same way the natures of Christ, although united, are united without confusion, and, although mutually immanent, do not suffer any change or transformation of one into the other.
For each one keeps its own distinctiveness unchanged. Thus, too, they are numbereed, yet the number does not introduce division. For Christ is one and He is perfect both in divinity and humanity. And number is not by nature a cause of division or union, but is, rather, a sign of the quanitty of the things numbered, whether they be united or divided. Thus, as an example of things that are united, this wall contains fifty stones; or, as an example of things that are divided, thrre are fifty stones lying in this field. Or again, as an example of things that are united, there are two natures in a coal--that of fire, I mean, and that of wood; or these may be divided, because the nature of fire is one thing and that of wood another. And these are not united or divided by their number but in some other manner. And so, just as it is impossible to say that the three Persons are one Person, even though they are united, without bringing about confusion or suppression of the difference, so it is impossible to say that the two hypostatically united natures of Christ are one nature without our bringing about suppression, confusion, or annihiliation of their difference.
Things that are common and universal are predicated of particulars subordinate to them. Now, the substance as a species is a common thing, while the person is a particular. A thing is particular not in that it possesses a part of the nature, because it does not have such a part, but in that it is particular in number, as an individual. Thus, persons are said to differ in number but not in nature. The substance, moreover, is predicated of the person, because the substance is complete in each of the persons of the same species. For that reason, persons do not differ from one another in substance, but rather in the accidents, which are their characteristic properties--characteristic, however, of the person and not of the nature. And this is because the person is defined as a substance plus accidents. Thus, the person has that which is common plus that which is individuating, and, besides this, existence in itself. Substance does not subsist in itself, but is to be found in persons. Accordingly, when one of the persons suffers, then, since the whole nature in which the person has suffered is affected, this whole nature is said to have suffered in one of its persons. This, however, does not necessitate all the persons of the same species suffering together with the one that does suffer.
Thus, then, we confess that the nature of the divinity is entirely and completely in each one of its Persons--all in the Father, all in the Son, all in the Holy Ghost. for this reason, the Father is perfect God, the Son is perfect God, and the Holy Ghost is perfect God. In the same way, we say that in the Incarnation of one of the Holy Trinity, the Word of God, the entire and complete nature of the divinity was united in one of its Persons to the entire human nature, and not a part of one to a part of the other. And so the divine Apostle says that 'in Him dwelleth the fullness of the Godhead corporeally,' that is to say, in His flesh. And his inspired disciple Dionysius, who was most learned in matters divine, says that the Divinity in its entirety has community with us in one of its Persons. But, certainly, let us not be constrained to say that all the Persons of the sacred Godhead, the Three, that is, were hypostatically united to all the persons of humanity. For in no wise did the Father and the Holy Ghost participate in the incarnation of the Word of God except by Their good pleasure and will. We do say that the entire substance of the Divinity was united to the entire human nature, because God the Word lacked none of those things which He implanted in our nature when He formed us in the beginning; He assumed them all--a body and a rational, intellectual soul, together with the properties of both, for the animal which lacks one of these is not a man. He in His entirety assumed me in my entirety and was wholly united to the whole, so that He might bestow the grace of salvation upon the whole. For that which has not been assumed cannot be healed.
And so, the Word of God is united to the flesh by the intermediary of mind which stands midway between the purity of God and the grossness of the flesh. Now, the mind has authority over both soul and body, but, whereas mind is the purest part of the soul, God is the purest part of mind. And when the mind of Christ is permitted by the stronger, then it displays its own authority. However, it is under the control of the stronger and follows it, doing those things which the divine will desires.
Moreover, the mind became the seat of the Divinity which had been hypostatically united to it, just as, of course, the flesh did--but not an associate, as the accursed opinion of the heretics falsely teaches, when, judging immaterial things in a material way, they say that one measure will not hold two. But, how shall Christ have been said to be perfect God and perfect man and consubstantitial both with the Father and with us, if a part of the divine nature is united in Him to a part of the human nature?
Furthermore, when we say that our nature rose from the dead and ascended and sat at the right hand of the Father, we do not imply that all human persons arose and sat at the right hand of the Father, but that our entire nature did so in the Person of Christ. Certainly, the divine Apostle says: 'He hath raised us up together and hath made us sit together in Christ.'
And we also say this: that the union was made of common substances. For every substance is common to the persons included under it. And it is not possible to find a partial and individuating nature of substance, since it would then be necessary to say that the same persons were of the same substance and of different substances, and that the Holy Trinity was in its divinity both of the same substance and of different substances. Consequently, the same nature is found in each one of the Persons. And when, following the blessed Athanasius and Cyril, we say that the nature of the Word became incarnate, we are declaring that the Divinity was united to the flesh. For this reason, we may by no means say: 'The nature of the Word suffered,' because the Divinity did not suffer in Him. But we do say that human nature suffered in Christ without any implication that all human persons did; confessing that Christ suffered in His human nature. thus, when we say 'the nature of the Word,' we mean the Word Himself. And the Word possesses the community of substance and the individuality of person.
We say, then, that the divine Person of God the Word exists before all things timelessly and eternally, simple and uncompounded, uncreated, incorporeal, invisible, intangible, and uncircumscribed. And we say that it has all things that the Father has, since it is consubstantial with Him, and that it differs from the Person of the Father by the manner of its beginning and by relation, that it is perfect and never leaves the Person of the Father. But, at the same time, we say that in latter times, without leaving the bosom of the Father, the Word came to dwell uncircumscribed in the womb of the holy Virgin, without seed and without being contained, but after a manner known to Him, and in the very same Person as exists before the ages He made flesh subsist for Himself from the holy Virgin.
Thus, He was in all things and above all things, and at the same time He was existing in the womb of the holy Mother of God, but He was there by the operation of the Incarnation. And so, He was made flesh and took from her the first-fruits of our clay, a body animated by a rational and intellectual soul, so that the very Person of God the Word was accounted to the flesh. And the Person of the Word which formerly had been simple was made composite. Moreover, it was a composite from two perfect natures, divinity and humanity. And it had that characteristic and distinctive property of sonship by which God the Word is distinct from the Father and the Spirit, and also had those characteristic and distinctive properties of the flesh by which He is distinct both from His Mother and from the rest of men. It further had those properties of the divine nature in which He is one with the Father and the Spirit, and also had those features of human nature in which He is one with His Mother and with us. Moreover, He differs from the Father and the Spirit and from His Mother and us in yet another way, by His being at once both God and man. For this we recognize as a most peculiar property of the Person of Christ.
And so, we confess that even after the Incarnation He is the one Son of God, and we confess that the same is the Son of Man, one Christ, one Lord, the only-begotten Son and Word of God, Jesus our Lord. And we venerate His two begettings--one from the Father before the ages and surpassing cause and reason and time and nature, and one in latter times for our own sake, after our own manner, and surpassing us. For our own sake, because it was for the sake of our salvation; after our own manner, because He was made man from a woman and with a period of gestation; and surpassing us, because, surpassing the law of conception, He was not from seed but from the Holy Ghost and the holy Virgin Mary. And we do not proclaim Him God alone, stripped of our humanity nor do we despoil Him of His divinity and proclaim Him man alone. Neither do we proclaim Him one and another; rather, we proclaim Him to be one and the same, at once both God and man, perfect God and perfect man, God entire and man entire--the same being God entire, even with His flesh, and man entire, even with His most sacred divinity. By saying 'perfect God and perfect man' we show the fullness and completeness of the natures, while by saying 'God entire and man entire' we point out the individuality and the indivisibility of the person.
Following the blessed Cyril, we also confess one incarnate nature of the Word of God and by saying 'incarnate' intend the substance of the flesh. So, the Word was made flesh without giving up His own immateriality and He was wholly made flesh while remaining wholly uncircumscribed. With respect to His body He becomes small and contracted, while with respect to divinity He is uncircumscribed, for His body is not co-extensive with His uncircumscribed divinity.
The whole He, then, is perfect God, but not wholly God, because He is not only God but also man. Likewise, the whole He is perfect man, but not wholly man, because He is not only man but also God. For the 'wholly' is indicative of nature, while the 'whole' is indicative of person, just as 'one thing' is of nature, while 'another one' is of person.
One must know, moreover, that, although we say that the natures of the Lord are mutually immanent, we know that this immanence comes from the divine nature. For this last pervades all things and indwells as it wishes, but nothing pervades it. And it communicates its own splendours to the body while remaining impassible and having no part in the affections of the body. For, if the sun communicates its own operations to us, yet has no part in our own, then how much more so the Creator of the sun who is the Lord?
Should anyone inquire regarding the natures of the Lord as to whether they are reducible to a continuous quantity or to a divided one, we shall reply that the Lord's natures are neither one solid, nor one surface, nor one line, nor are they place or time, so as to be reducible to a continuous quantity--for these are the things which are accounted to be continuous.
It must be known, moreoever, that number belongs to things which differ and that it is impossible for things to be numbered which do not differ at all. It is by that in which they differ that things are numbered. For example, insofar as Peter and Paul are one, they are not numbered. Thus, since they are one by reason of their substance, they cannot be called two natures. Howevere, since they do differ in person, they are called two persons. Hence, things which differ have number, and it is according to the manner in which they differ that they are numbered.
Now, whereas the Lord's natures are hypostatically united without confusion, they are divided without separation by reason and way of their difference. Insofar as they are one, they have no number, for we do not say that Christ has two natures according to person. They are numbered, however, by way of their being divided without separation. For by reason and way of their difference the natures of Christ are two. Thus, being hypostatically one and mutually immanent, they are united without confusion and with each one preserving its own natural difference. And so, since they are numbered by way of their difference only, it is in that way that they will be reducible to a divided quantity.
Christ, then, who is perfect God and perfect man, is one. Him do we adore with the Father and the Spirit together with His immaculate body in one adoration. And we do not say that His body is not to be adored, because it is adored in the one Person of the Word who became Person to it. Yet we do not worship the creature, because we do not adore it as a mere body, but as being one with the divinity, because His two natures belong to the one Person and the one subsistence of the Word of God. I am afraid to touch the burning coal because of the fire which is combined with the wood. I adore the combined natures of Christ because of the divinity which is united to the body. Thus, I do not add a fourth person to the Trinity--God forbid!--but I do confess the person of the Word of God and of His flesh to be one. for, even after the Incarnation of the Word, the Trinity remained Trinity.
To those who inquire as to whether the two natures are reducible to a continuous or divided quantity:
The Lord's natures are neither one solid, nor one surface, nor one line, nor are they place or time, so as to be reducible to a continuous quantity--for these are the things which are accounted to be continuous. Moreover, the Lord's natures are hypostatically united without confusion and they are divided without separation by reason and way of their difference. Insofar as they are one, they have no number. For we do not say that Christ's natures are two Persons or that they are two according to Person. They are numbered, however, by way of their being divided without separation. For there are two natures by reason and way of their difference. Thus, being hypostatically one and mutually immanent, they are united without any confusion or transformation of one into the other and with each preserving its own natural difference for itself. For the created remained created and the uncreated uncreated. And so, since they are numbered by way of their difference only, it is in that way that they will be reducible to a divided quantity. For it is impossible for things to be numbered which do not differ at all. It is by that in which they differ that things are numbered. For example, insofar as Peter and Paul are one, they are not numbered. Thus, since they are one by reason of their substance, they neither are two natures nor are they so called. However, since they do differ in person, they are called two persons. And so their difference is the cause of their number.
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