1.1 It is the persistent habit of a pious man, dear friend, to venerate the All in silence, and with loud thanksgiving to to praise God his Benefactor, according to that saying of Scripture which runs, He will sit alone, and be silent and quiet, and do his own business. The words “alone” and “his own business’ mean that he will order his own conduct with judgment, and attend seriously to the commandment of God. But since you have become aware of a very heavy weariness among those who seem to say the same things, you have asked me about the faith that is in us., and wherein lies the fault of those who think themselves orthodox, yet who in their great extravagances fear not to utter unshallowed opinions, whereby persons unstable in the faith are carried away, and know not that they are off the right path (for had they been established in the faith, they would not have yielded to language of that kind: but it is because their minds were unemployed that they have become capable of accepting such traditions, from which arise extravagant conceit and vast wickedness: and they, being blinded by antipathy, pervert the revelations of the prophets, and the teachings of the Apostles, and the injunctions of the fathers, and the very and manifest sayings of the Master) it is necessary to undertake to confute them, in order that they may either wake up and see how the case stands, or may be disabled from deceiving any persons by promising them a very distinct comprehension of Christ, understanding neither what they say nor of whom they affirm.
1.4 But you say, that “it became incarnate though its union with the uncreated One.” But thereby you error will exhibit itself as self-confuted; for the union of the flesh with the Godhead of the Word took place from the womb; for from thence did the Word establish it when He came from heaven; since it had not existed before His coming, or before Mary the Mother of God, whose descent alone is deduced from Adam, and traced in genealogy from Abraham, and from David, together with Joseph who espoused to her, both of them being one flesh, flesh, as it is written, not by cohabitation, but by their being derived from one, for it is well attested that they continued to inviolate. christ then is born in Bethlehem of Judae, calling Joseph, who together with Mary was from David, “father;” laid to rest in swaddling clothes, and held by Symeon in the arms in the Temple, and brought to circumcision of the flesh according to the law, and increasing in stature. If then “it became uncreate through the union,” how is it that it was not seen as fully complete, but, as the Word willed, as increase of body took place? But to ascribe increase to Him Who is uncreate is impious. For “uncreate” we mean what is by nature uncreate, admitting neither increase of diminution. But that which shared with, or was united with, the uncreate, is said to belong to the uncreate, but is not called itself uncreate, lest the benefit involved in the union should be forgotten, and the obligation of the benefit cancelled, and humanity, being still left in weakness, should fall into despair, being taught, as you hold, that it has no close tie to God, and the grace should be made to disappear. For who, on hearing that the Lord’s Body is uncreate, while he knows that he himself has been made and created, will not conceive of the notion that the Holy Scriptures are false, and that he himself has no communion with Christ? If the Uncreated One assumed an uncreated body, the first creation is in that case annulled: the archetypal Adam, who posterity we are to this day by succession of fleshly descent, and has perished. How then did Christ render us partakers of Himself? and how is it that the Apostle saith, For He who sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all from one?
1.7 This being so, and being acknowledged in the Catholic Church of God, how is it that again you say that the body was wrought from Heaven, and why did Christ do this? Tell us, was it that He might bring His body down from heaven upon earth, and make the invisible, and that which could be outraged susceptible of outrage, and impassible, passible and mortal? And what benefit was involve in this, O meaningless men, if you say that that took place in Christ which took place in the protoplast Adam, unless Christ, having appeared in the likeness of sinful flesh, condemned sin in the flesh, had restored by an incomparable restoration that which fell in Adam: so that He both lived in flesh on earth, and exhibited flesh as incapable of sin, that flesh which Adam had in a sinless state from his first creation, and by his transgression made capable of sin, and fell down into corruption and death? This flesh He raised up in a condition of being by nature sinless, that He might shew that the Maker was not the cause of sin, and He established it in accordance with the original creation of its own nature, that He Himself might be the exhibition of sinlessness. Vain, then, are their imaginations who go astray and say that the Lord’s body was from heaven. Rather, what Adam brought down from heaven to earth, Christ carried up from earth to heaven: and what Adam brought down into corruption, and condemnation to death, when it had been sinless and uncondemned, that did Christ show forth as incorruptible, and capable of delivering from death, so that He had authority on earth to forgive sins, to exhibit incorruption (by rising) out of the sepulchre, and by visiting Hades to destroy death, and to proclaim to all the good tidings of resurrection, because God created man to be immortal, and made him the image of His own eternity, but by the devil’s envy, death came into the world, and when it was under the reign of death unto corruption, He did not overlook it, for He Himself became man; not that He was turned into the form of man, nor that, as if neglecting real human existence, He exhibited Himself merely under a shadow,—but He who is by nature God was born man, that these two might be one, perfect in all things, exhibiting His birth as natural and most true. Therefore it is said, And He gave to Him the same which is above every name, to reign over the heavens and have authority to execute judgment.
1.21 Those also talk groundlessly who say, that the Word so came, as He did to one of the prophets. for which of the prophets is it true that he, being God, became man? On that theory, why did the Law make nothing perfect? and why too did death reign over those who had not sinned in like manner to the protoplasts? and why again, did the Lord say, If the Son shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed? Was it not in reference to that newness which was in Him, and by the perfection we also, who have believed, are made new, as we imitate and participate in the perfect newness of Christ? But you have resorted to every device, for the sake of making out one conclusion, that of negation. And you call the soul paraphrastically, sometimes a “mind distracted,” sometimes “sin subsisting,” and sometimes you thrust it out as ” a worker of sin;” and the flesh you call sometimes “uncreate,” sometimes, “heavenly,” sometimes “coessential with the Word,” in order that you may completely confirm your negation. And as Arius, having lapsed from the belief in the ineffable and most true generation of the Son from the Father, found out such terms as “passion,” “cutting,” and “flux,” in order that by these unhallowed words he might cast down the unstable into the pit of transgression; (for the mouth of the transgressor is a deep pit) so also Sabellius, who supposed the Son to have no real subsistence , and the Holy Spirit to be non-existent, and charged his opponents with dividing the Godhead, and making a number of principles and Gods, settled himself in Judaical sentiments; also Manichaeus, disbelieving in the Lord’s Incarnation, and in His becoming Man, became altogether impious, saying that man was subject to two Makers, an evil and a good: in like manner you also calumniously say, that we say there are two Sons, and call us “man-worshippers,” or make an objection on the score of “sin,” not in order that you may be truly religious, but that you may show off your own error as making good way by help of your evil intentions, and turn away the unstable from faith by means of your own impious words. yet the solid foundation of God standeth, having this seal.
1.22 This I have written, dear friend, although, in the truest sense, the Evangelic tradition being sufficient, nothing more was necessary to be written, but I have written you because you asked about the faith that is in us, and also for the sake of those who like to talk at random about their inventions, and do not consider that he who speaketh from what is his own, speaketh a lie. For it does not come within the reach of man’s mind to express beauty or glory of Christ’s body; but at any rate, it is possible to acknowledge what has taken place as it is described in Scripture, and to worship the God who is, that His love may be glorified and acknowledged, and we may have a hope of salvation, in Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.
2.6 . But you say, “If He assumed all, then assuredly He had human thoughts; But it is impossible that in human thoughts there should be sin: and how then will Christ be ‘without sin?'” Tell us then; If God is the maker of thoughts which lead to sin, to god we must refer His own production for He came to refer to Himself what He Himself made; but in that case the judgment which condemns the sinner will be unjust, for if God made thoughts which lead to sin, How can He condemn the sinner? and how is it possible for any such judgment to proceed from God? And if Adam was subject to such thoughts before he disobeyed God’s commandment, how could he be ignorant of good and evil? He was a rational by nature, and free in thought, without experience of evil, knowing only what was good, and it were a “solitary” being: but when he disobeyed God’s commandment, he became subject to thoughts leading to sin; not that God made the thoughts which were taking him captive, but that the devil by deceit sowed them in the rational nature of man, which had come into transgression, and was thrust away from God; so that the devil established in man’s nature both a law of sin, and death as reigning through sinful action; for this cause, then, did the Son of God come that He might destroy the works of the devil. But you say, “He destroyed them in that He sinned not.” But that is not a destruction of sin. For the devil did not originally produce sin in man in order that when He came into the world, and sinned not, sin might be destroyed: but the devil produced sin by sowing it in the rational and intellectual nature of man. Therefore it became impossible for that nature, being rational, and having sinned voluntarily, and incurred condemnation to death, to recall itself to freedom: as the Apostle says: What was impossible for the law, in that it was weak through the flesh. Therefore the Son of God came to restore it by His own act, in His own nature, by a new beginning and a wondrous “generation:” Not by making a partition of the original constitution, but by contradicting that principle of contradiction which had been “sown in” with it, as the Prophet testifies saying, Before the child shall know good or evil, He refuses the evil to choose good. But if sinlessness had not been seen int he nature which had sinned, how could sin have been condemned in the flesh, when that flesh had no capacity for action, and the Godhead knew not sin? And why did the Apostle say, Where sin abounded, grace did not much more abound, (not as if describing a place, but indicating a nature) that, he says, as by one man sin entered the world, and death by sin, so by one Man, Jesus Christ, might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life: so that the nature by which the advance of sin took place, might be the very nature through which the exhibition of righteousness should take place; and in this way, the works of the devil might be destroyed by the emancipation of man’s nature from sin, and God might be glorified?
2.8 But again you say, “but how can the nature which had became so conditioned to sin, and has received the transmission of sin, yet be without sin? It is impossible: Christ on that view, will be like one among men.” This was what Marcion also thought. This was the conclusion which Manichæus also proposed, placing the flesh and the very birth, of man under the influence of the ruler of wickedness, and entitling him “potentate” since he by whom one is overcome is he to whom one is brought into bondage. these are they whose opinions you are reviving, while by a different method you give over the intellectual nature of man, which is understood to be the soul, and define it to be incapable of escaping sin, and have in the plainest terms described the soul as fleshly on whose authority I know not, for this cannot be found in the Holy Scriptures, nor in the general sense of men, since the Lord says, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, but we are not able to kill the soul. And if the soul is as you say, fleshly, why does it not die and decay with the body? And again, why did Peter call the souls contained in Hades spirits? Jesus Christ went to announce the good news of the resurrection to the spirits shut up in prison. But you apply to everything the phrase, contrary to nature, in order to avoid giving a natural account of the Economy. Thereby stating the truth about the Word, that the Word truly became Man. For you have said that it is God’s voice that says, the mind of man is devoted to evil from youth, not understanding that by saying, from youth, He indicated what was sown in the afterwards and perishable. Therefore did the Lord swear a faithful oath unto David, that of the fruit of his body He would raise up the Christ after the flesh: not to be seen as a man in consequence of the change of Godhead—for then what need was there for the Lord to swear unto David? But as having taken the form of a servant, when He submitted to being born of a woman, and to grow in stature as we do, the Apostle says, Since then the children were partakers of flesh and blood, He also Himself likewise partook of the same. ‘Likewise’ because not from seed, but from the Spirit of the same because not from any other source, but from the seed of David, and of Abraham, and of Adam, as it is written.
2.10 Therefore the Word, being God, and the Maker of the first man, came that He might become Man, in order to give life to man, and to overthrow the unrighteous enemy, and was born of a woman, having restored in Himself the form of man as at first created, by an “exhibition” of flesh without carnal desires and human thoughts, as a representative of renewal. For the will belonged to the Godhead only, since the whole nature of the Word (was present) under the exhibition of the human form and visible flesh of the second Adam, not by a division of Persons, but by the real existence of the Godhead and Manhood. For on this account, did the devil draw near to Jesus, as to a man, but his immediate attempt, he was defeated, and gave way in confusion and being enfeebled said, Who is that cometh from Edom, that is, from the land of men, walking with force and strength? Therefore also the Lord said, The prince of the world cometh, and findeth nothing in Me. And het we are taught that the Second Adam has both a soul, and a body, and the whole of the first Adam. for if the word “nothing” had referred to the real being of man, how came he to find the visible body of Him who said “nothing?” But he did not find in him the things which he himself had produced in the first Adam: and thus was sin destroyed by Christ. Therefore also the Scripture testifies, Who did no sin, neither was guilt found in his mouth.