Hilary De Trin., 11.9

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9. Falsehood is always infamous, for the liar throwing off the bridle of shame dares to gainsay the truth, or else at times he hides behind some veil of pretext, that he may appear to defend with modesty what is shameless in intention. But in this case, when they sacrilegiously use the Scriptures to degrade the dignity of our Lord, there is no room for the blush or the false excuse; for there are occasions when even pardon accorded to ignorance is refused, and wilful misconstruction is exposed in its naked profanity. Let us postpone for a moment the exposition of this passage in the Gospel, and ask them first whether they have forgotten the preaching of the Apostle, who said, Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness, which was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, believed on in the world, received up in glory. Who is so dull that he cannot comprehend that the mystery of godliness is simply the Dispensation of the flesh assumed by the Lord? At the outset then, he who does not agree in this confession is not in the faith of God. For the Apostle leaves no doubt that all must confess that the hidden secret of our salvation is not the dishonour of God, but the mystery of great godliness, and a mystery no longer kept from our eyes, but manifested in the flesh; no longer weak through the nature of flesh, but justified in the Spirit. And so by the justification of the Spirit is removed from our faith the idea of fleshly weakness; through the manifestation of the flesh is revealed that which was secret, and in the unknown cause of that which was secret is contained the only confession, the confession of the mystery of great godliness. This is the whole system of the faith set forth by the Apostle in its proper order. From godliness proceeds the mystery, from the mystery the manifestation in the flesh, from the manifestation in the flesh the justification in the Spirit: for the mystery of godliness which was manifested in the flesh, to be truly a mystery, was manifested in the flesh through the justification of the Spirit. Again, we must not forget what manner of justification in the Spirit is this manifestation in the flesh: for the mystery which was manifested in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached among the nations, and believed on in this world, this same mystery was received up in glory. Thus is it in every way a mystery of great godliness, when it is manifested in the flesh, when it is justified in the Spirit, when it is seen of angels, when it is preached among the nations, when it is believed on in the world, and when it is received up in glory. The preaching follows the seeing, and the believing the preaching, and the consummation of all is the receiving up in glory: for the assumption into glory is the mystery of great godliness, and by faith in the Dispensation we are prepared to be received up, and to be conformed to the glory of the Lord. The assumption of flesh is therefore also the mystery of great godliness, for through the assumption of flesh the mystery was manifested in the flesh. But we mast believe that the manifestation in the flesh also is this same mystery of great godliness, for His manifestation in the flesh is His justification in the Spirit, and His assumption into glory. And now what room does our faith leave for any to think that the secret of the Dispensation of godliness is the enfeebling of the divinity, when through the assumption of glory is to be confessed the mystery of great godliness? What was ‘infirmity’ is now the ‘mystery:’ what was ‘necessity’ becomes ‘godliness.’ And now let us turn to the meaning of the Evangelist’s words, that the secret of our salvation and our glory may not be converted into an occasion of blasphemy.