Hilary De Trin., 6.36f; cf 2.22f; 6.20f

6.36. A belief that the Son of God is Son in name only and not in nature, is not the faith of the Gospels and of the Apostles. If this be a mere title, to which adoption is His only claim; if He be not the Son in virtue of having proceeded forth from God, whence, I ask, was it that the blessed Simon Bar-Jona confessed to Him, Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God? Because He shared with all mankind the power of being born as one of the sons of God through the sacrament of regeneration? If Christ be the Son of God only in this titular way, what was the revelation made to Peter, not by flesh and blood, but by the Father in heaven? What praise could he deserve for making a declaration which was universally applicable? What credit was due to Him for stating a fact of general knowledge? If He be Son by adoption, wherein lay the blessedness of Peter’s confession, which offered a tribute to the Son to which, in that case, He had no more title than any member of the company of saints? The Apostle’s faith penetrates into a region closed to human reasoning. He had, no doubt, often heard, He that receiveth you receiveth Me, and He that receiveth Me receiveth Him that sent Me. Hence he knew well that Christ had been sent; he had heard Him, Whom he knew to have been sent, making the declaration, All things are delivered unto Me of the Father, and no one knoweth the Son but the Father, neither knoweth any one the Father save the Son. What then is this truth, which the Father now reveals to Peter, which receives the praise of a blessed confession? It cannot have been that the names of ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ were novel to him; he had heard them often. Yet he speaks words which the tongue of man had never framed before:–Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God. For though Christ, while dwelling in the body, had avowed Himself to be the Son of God, yet now for the first time the Apostle’s faith had recognised in Him the presence of the Divine nature. Peter is praised not merely for his tribute of adoration, but for his recognition of the mysterious truth; for confessing not Christ only, but Christ the Son of God. It would clearly have sufficed for a payment of reverence, had he said, Thou art the Christ, and nothing more. But it would have been a hollow confession, had Peter only hailed Him as Christ, without confessing Him the Son of God. And so his words Thou art declare that what is asserted of Him is strictly and exactly true to His nature. Next, the Father’s utterance, This is My Son, had revealed to Peter that he must confess Thou art the Son of God, for in the words This is, God the Revealer points Him out, and the response, Thou art, is the believer’s welcome to the truth. And this is the rock of confession whereon the Church is built. But the perceptive faculties of flesh and blood cannot attain to the recognition and confession of this truth. It is a mystery, Divinely revealed, that Christ must be not only named, but believed, the Son of God. Was it only the Divine name; was it not rather the Divine nature that was revealed to Peter? If it were the name, he had heard it often from the Lord, proclaiming Himself the Son of God. What honour, then, did he deserve for announcing the name? No; it was not the name; it was the nature, for the name had been repeatedly proclaimed.

37. This faith it is which is the foundation of the Church; through this faith the gates of hell cannot prevail against her. This is the faith which has the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatsoever this faith shall have loosed or bound on earth shall be loosed or bound in heaven. This faith is the Father’s gift by revelation; even the knowledge that we must not imagine a false Christ, a creature made out of nothing, but must confess Him the Son of God, truly possessed of the Divine nature. What blasphemous madness and pitiful folly is it, that will not heed the venerable age and faith of that blessed martyr, Peter himself, for whom the Father was prayed that his faith might not fail in temptation; who twice repeated the declaration of love for God that was demanded of him, and was grieved that he was tested by a third renewal of the question, as though it were a doubtful and wavering devotion, and then, because this third trial had cleansed him of his infirmities, had the reward of hearing the Lord’s commission, Feed My sheep, a third time repeated; who, when all the Apostles were silent, alone recognised by the Father’s revelation the Son of God, and won the pre-eminence of a glory beyond the reach of human frailty by his confession of his blissful faith! What are the conclusions forced upon us by the study of his words? He confessed that Christ is the Son of God; you, lying bishop of the new apostolate, thrust upon us your modern notion that Christ is a creature, made out of nothing. What violence is this, that so distorts the glorious words? The very reason why he is blessed is that he confessed the Son of God. This is the Father’s revelation, this the foundation of the Church, this the assurance of her permanence. Hence has she the keys of the kingdom of heaven, hence judgment in heaven and judgment on earth. Through revelation Peter learnt the mystery hidden from the beginning of the world, proclaimed the faith, published the Divine nature, confessed the Son of God. He who would deny all this truth and confess Christ a creature, must first deny the apostleship of Peter, his faith, his blessedness, his episcopate, his martyrdom. And when he has done all this, he must learn that he has severed himself from Christ; for it was by confessing Him that Peter won these glories.


2.22. This faith, and every part of it, is impressed upon us by the evidence of the Gospels, by the teaching of the Apostles, by the futility of the treacherous attacks which heretics make on every side. The foundation stands firm and unshaken in face of winds and rains and torrents; storms cannot overthrow it, nor dripping waters hollow it, nor floods sweep it away. Its excellence is proved by the failure of countless assaults to impair it. Certain remedies are so compounded as to be of value not merely against some single disease but against all; they are of universal efficacy. So it is with the Catholic faith. It is not a medicine for some special malady, but for every ill; virulence cannot master, nor numbers defeat, nor complexity baffle it. One and unchanging it faces and conquers all its foes. Marvellous it is that one form of words should contain a remedy for every disease, a statement of truth to confront every contrivance of falsehood. Let heresy muster its forces and every sect come forth to battle. Let our answer to their challenge be that there is One Unbegotten God the Father, and One Only-begotten Son of God, perfect Offspring of perfect Parent; that the Sun was begotten by no lessening of the Father or subtraction from His Substance, but that He Who possesses all things begot an all-possessing Son; a Son not emanating nor proceeding from the Father, but compact of, and inherent in, the whole Divinity, of Him Who wherever He is present is present eternally; One free from time, unlimited in duration, since by Him all things were mode, and, indeed, He could not be confined within a limit created by Himself. Such is the Catholic and Apostolic Faith which the Gospel has taught us and we avow.

23. Let Sabellius, if he dare, confound Father and Son as two names with one meaning, making of them not Unity but One Person. He shall have a prompt answer from the Gospels, not once or twice, but often repeated, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased. He shall hear the words, The Father is greater than I, and I go to the Father, and Father, I thank Thee, and Glorify Me, Father, and Thou art the Son of the living God. Let Hebion try to sap the faith, who allows the Son of God no life before the Virgin’s womb, and sees in Him the Word only after His life as flesh had begun. We will bid him read again, Father, glorify Me with Thine own Self with that glory which I had with Thee before the world was, and In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, and All things were made through Him, and He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world knew Him not. Let the preachers whose apostleship is of the newest fashion–an apostleship of Antichrist–come forward and pour their mockery and insult upon the Son of God. They must hear, I came out from the Father and The Son in the Father’s bosom, and I and the Father are One, and I in the Father, and the Father in Me. And lastly, if they be wrath, as the Jews were, that Christ should claim God for His own Father, making Himself equal with God, they must take the answer which He gave the Jews, Believe My works, that the Father is in Me and I in the Father. Thus our one immovable foundation, our one blissful rock of faith, is the confession from Peter’s mouth, Thou art the Son of the living God. On it we can base an answer to every objection with which perverted ingenuity or embittered treachery may assail the truth.


6.20. What is this hopeless quagmire of error into which Thou hast plunged me? For I have learnt all this and have come to believe it; this faith is so ingrained into my mind that I have neither the power nor the wish to change it. Why this deception of an unhappy man, this ruin of a poor wretch in body and soul, by deluding him with falsehoods concerning Thyself? After the Red Sea had been divided, the splendour on the face of Moses, descending from the Mount, deceived me. He had gazed, in Thy presence, upon all the mysteries of heaven, and I believed his words, dictated by Thee, concerning Thyself. And David, the man that was found after Thine own heart, has betrayed me to destruction, and Solomon, who was thought worthy of the gift of Divine Wisdom, and Isaiah, who saw the Lord of Sabaoth and prophesied, and Jeremiah consecrated in the womb, before he was fashioned, to be the prophet of nations to be rooted out and planted in, and Ezekiel, the witness of the mystery of the Resurrection, and Daniel, the man beloved, who had knowledge of times, and all the hallowed band of the Prophets; and Matthew also, chosen to proclaim the whole mystery of the Gospel, first a publican, then an Apostle, and John, the Lord’s familiar friend, and therefore worthy to reveal the deepest secrets of heaven, and blessed Simon, who after his confession of the mystery was set to be the foundation-stone of the Church, and received the keys of the kingdom of heaven, and all his companions who spoke by the Holy Ghost, and Paul, the chosen vessel, changed from persecutor into Apostle, who, as a living man abode under the deep sea and ascended into the third heaven, who was in Paradise before his martyrdom, whose martyrdom was the perfect offering of a flawless faith; all have deceived me.

21. These are the men who have taught me the doctrines which I hold, and so deeply am I impregnated with their teaching that no antidote can release me from their influence. Forgive me, O God Almighty, my powerlessness to change, my willingness to die in this belief. These propagators of blasphemy, for so they seem to me, are a product of these last times, too modern to avail me. It is too late for them to correct the faith which I received from Thee. Before I had ever heard their names, I had put my trust in Thee had received regeneration from Thee and become Thine, as still I am. I know that Thou art omnipotent; I look not that Thou shouldst reveal to me the mystery of that ineffable birth which is secret between Thyself and Thy Only-begotten. Nothing is impossible with Thee, and I doubt not that in begetting Thy Son Thou didst exert Thy full omnipotence. To doubt it would be to deny that Thou an omnipotent. For my own birth teaches me that Thou art good, and therefore I am sure that in the birth of Thine Only-begotten Thou didst grudge Him no good gift. I believe that all that is Thine is His, and all that is His is Thine. The creation of the world is sufficient evidence to me that Thou art wise; and I am sure that Thy Wisdom, Who is like Thee, must have been begotten from Thyself. And Thou art One God, in very truth, in my eyes; I will never believe that in Him, Who is God from Thee, there is ought that is not Thine. Judge me in Him, if it be sin in me that, through Thy Son, I have trusted too well in Law and Prophets and Apostles.