On the Consubstantiality of the Son – George Bull

Chapter 1

THE SUBJECT PROPOSED, THE WORD ὁμοούσιος, “OF ONE SUBSTANCE”a EXPLAINED AT LENGTH. THE NICENE FATHERS CLEARED FROM THE SUSPICION OF EMPLOYING NEW AND STRANGE LANGUAGE1 IN USING THIS WORD TO EXPRESS THE TRUE GODHEAD OF THE SON. THE OPPOSITION2 BETWEEN THE COUNCIL OF ANTIOCH AGAINST PAUL OF SAMOSATA, AND THE COUNCIL OF NICE AGAINST ARIUS, RECONCILED. PROOF THAT THE TERM ὁμοούσιος WAS NOT DERIVED FROM HERETICS. A BRIEF REVIEW OF THE HEADS OF THE ARGUMENTS BY WHICH THE ANTE-NICENE DOCTORS CONFIRMED “THE CONSUBSTANTIALITY.”

1. On the question of the Consubstantiality of the Son of God we shall dwell longer, since it is the hinge on which the whole controversy between the Catholics and the Arians turns. On this subject, then, we propose, for very copious illustration and confirmation, the following Proposition.

Proposition.
It was the settled and unanimous opinion3 of the Catholic Doctors, who nourished in the first three centuries, that the Son of God was of one substance,5 or consubstantial with God the Father that is, that He was not of any created or mutable essence, but of altogether the same divine and unchangeable nature with His Father; and, therefore, very God of very God.

Before, however, we proceed to the proof of the proposition, it will be necessary to premise some observations on the true meaning and ancient use of the word ὁμοούσιος, “of one substance,” which was placed by the Nicene fathers in their Creed. The followers of Arius in old time spoke in a way so strangely tragical about that term, that at length not a few, even amongst the Catholics, wearied out by their unfortunate clamours, in their love of peace began to disapprove of the word, as we learn from Hilary, in his book On the Synods, and from other writers. That impious and restless faction pretended, at one time, that the phrase ὁμοούσιος favoured Sabellianism; at another, by reasoning altogether opposite, that it set up a division of the divine essence; and, lastly, what was mere trifling, that it introduced a substance prior both to the Father and the Son, of which afterwards the Father and the Son were equally partakers. I shall clearly shew, however, that this contest about words1 was raised by them without any just grounds.


1. καινοφωνία

2. ἀντιλογία

3. contstans concorsque sententia

4. ὁμοούσιος sive consubstantialis


a. [The Greek word ὁμοούσιος has been translated by the English words “consubstantial” “of the same substance or essence,” (when Bp. Bull had used ejusdem substantiæ, or essentiæ,) and “of one substance.” The last has been preferred, as being that to which we accustomed in the Nicene Creed]


2. By approved Greek writers, that is styled ὁμοούσιον, “consubstantial,” which is of the same substance, essence, or nature with some other; a sense which the very etymology of the word carries on the face of it: Porphyry, On Abstinence from Animal Food, book i. n. 19, says; “Since the souls of animals are ὁμοούσιοι, of the same essence with ours.” The anonymous author of the celebrated Opinions respecting the Soul, published with the Philocalia of Origen, quotes a passage of Aristotle, wherein he says; “All the stars are of the same essence or nature.” In the same sense Irenaeus frequently uses this word in explaining the doctrines of the Valentinians; for instance, (in book i. chap. 1,) he says that those heretics taught that, “whatsoever is spiritual could not by any means have been formed Achamoth since it was ὁμοούσιον, of the same essence with her.” And presently afterwards he says; “In the first place [they say that] she (Achamoth) out of living substance formed the parent and king of all things, both of those things which are of the same essence with him, (τῶν τὲ ὁμοούσιων αὐτῷ,) and of those which were engendered of passion and matter.” Again in the same chapter after some interval; that “Hylicus was in image very like unto God, but not of the same essence with Him, (παραπλήσιον μὲν, ἀλλ’ οὐχ ὁμοούσιον τῷ θεῷ.)” And after a few intervening words; “Not even the Demiurge knew of the offspring of the mother Achamoth, which she brought forth through the contemplation of those angels by whom the Saviour is surrounded, in that it was a spiritual offspring of the same essence with its mother, (ὁμοούσιον ὑπάρχον τῇ μητρὶ πνευματικόν.)” The same word, used in the same sense by the Gnostics, is also found in the extracts from Theodotus, at the end of the works of Clement of Alexandria.e And here, (to mention it by the way,) I am quite of opinion that these heretics accommodated this word, which was at that time in use among the Catholics in speaking of the most Holy Trinity, to their Æons, as they did many others. And this view receives no slight confirmation from the circumstance, that the author of a book entitled Ποιμάνδρης, a very early Christian writer,f and (whatever else his madness may have been) far enough removed from the mad dreams of the Gnostics, expressly called the Word, or Son of God, ὁμοούσιος, “of one substance” with the Father, as we shall afterwards shew. But to return from our digression. The author of the treatise which bears the title of Questions of the Greeks to the Christians, published amongst the works of Justin, thus writes concerning the soul;g “We say that the reasonable soul is a spirit endued with thinking powers, vital and possessing the power of self-motion; with which, we say, that both the angels and the demons are consubstantial.” Where the word ὁμοούσιος is joined with a genitive case, as in the extracts from Theodotus; though it more frequently governs the dative case. Agapius in Photius (Bibliothec. clxxix) is said to have taught amongst other impious doctrines “that the soul is consubstantial with God.” Afterwards in the same place Photius says concerning this same Agapius;h “With shameless irreverence he descants of the sun and the moon as of divine things, and proclaims them to be consubstantial with God.” Lastly, Theodoret, in his dialogue “ἀσυγχυτός,”  adduces a passage from Apollinaris, where he says;i “men are of the same substance (ὁμοούσιοι) with brutes, as touching their irrational body; but of another substance (ἑτερούσιοι) so far as they are rational.”


5. partum κύημα

6. ἧς ὁμοούσις εἶναι φαμὲν τυύς ἀγγέλους καὶ τούς δαίμονας

7. τὴν ψυχὴν ὁμοούσιον εἶναι τῷ Θεῷ


e. p. 796, 797. [c. 42. p. 979 and c. 50. p. 981]

f. [Who seems to have flourished about the year 120. Cave in Herm—Bowyer—[the editor of the works of Dionysius of Alexandria, preface. p. xxxvii., contends that this writer was not a Christian, but flourished in the reign of Ptolemy Philadelphus—B.]

g. p. 203 [p. 538]

h. ἥλιον δὲ καὶ σελήνην ἀναισχύντως θεολογεῖ, καὶ ὁμοούσια κηρύττει Θεῷ—Phot. bibl. c. 179

i. οἱ ἄνθρωποι τοῖς ἀλόγοις ζώοις ὁμοούσιο κατὰ τὸ σῶμα τὸ ἄλογον ἑτερούσιοι δὲ, καθὸ λογικοί


3. That was the very sense in which the bishops at Nice called the Son “of one substance,”8 with the Father will be manifest to all men who are fair minded and not of a temper thoroughly contentious, from the terms of the Nicene Creed.j For after saying that the Son of God is “begotten of the Father, only begotten,” the fathers immediately add the words, “that is, of the substance of the Father;”9 and then they shew the meaning of that expression in the words which follow; God of God,10 Light of Light, very God of very God begotten not made.” Lastly, they subjoin ὁμοούσιον τῷ πατρὶ, “of one substance with the Father,” as if it comprised all that had been before said of the Son. Again, at the end of the Creed they shew plainly enough what they meant to be understood by the word ὁμοούσιος, when they anathematize the Arians, “who assert that the Son of God is of another substance or essence11 or that He was created, or is capable of change or alteration.” It is evident, then, that the Nicene bishops called the Son of God “of one substance” with the Father, in a sense opposed to the blasphemies of the Arians; that is to say, that He is not of any essence that is created, or other than that12 of the Father, or changeable; but altogether of the same divine and immutable nature as His Father. In this way entirely the word ὁμοούσιος was interpreted by those Catholic doctors, who (it is reasonable to suppose) best understood the mind and view of the Nicene fathers. For thus speaks the great Athanasius, when disputing against those Arians, who falsely pretended that they embraced the Nicene Creed in all other respects, and only shrunk with dread from the term ὁμοούσιος, as new and dangerous:k “Now if even after all this—even after both the testimony of the bishops of former times, and the subscription of their own fathers, they pretend (as if in ignorance) to dread the word ὁμοούσιος, let them in simplicity and truth confess and believe that the Son is Son by nature; and let them also anathematize (as the council enjoined) such as say that the Son of God was made or created; or that He was made out of what existed not; or that there was a time when He was not; and that He is liable to change and alteration, and is of another substance; and thus let them flee from the Arian heresy; and we have full confidence that in sincerely anathematising these things they do therein confess that the Son is ‘of the substance of the Father’ and ‘of one substance with Him.’ For on this account it was that the fathers, after having asserted that the Son is of ‘one substance’ immediately added, ‘Those who say that the Son is made or created, or that He was made out of what existed not, or that there was a time when He was not, the Catholic Church anathematises;’ in order that they may make it known hereby, that this is what the expression ὁμοούσιος, ‘of one substance’ signifies; and the force of the word ὁμοούσιος is ascertained from [the assertion that] the Son is ‘neither created nor made᾽ and that whosoever says that He is ‘of one substance’ does not believe the Word to be a creature; and whosoever anathematizes the before-mentioned propositions, does at the same time believe the Son to be ‘of one substance’ with the Father; and whosoever says that He is ‘of one substance’ acknowledges the Son of God to be the real and true [Son,] and whosoever calls Him the real [Son,] understands that saying, ‘I and the Father are one’ ”


8. ὁμοούσιος

9. ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας

10. Θεὸν ἐκ Θεὸν κ.τ.λ.

11. ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως ἢ οὐσίας, κ.τ.λ.

12. τρεπτὸν ἢ ἀλλοιωτόν

13. aliena


i. οἰ ἄνθρωποι τοῖς ἀλόγοις ζώοις ὁμοούσιοι κατὰ τὸ σῶμα τὸ ἄλογον· ἑτερούσιοι δὲ, καθὸ λογικοὶ.

j. [See the Greek Creed above p. 13]

k. εἰ δὲ καὶ μετὰ τοσαῦτα, μετὰ καὶ τὴν μαρτυρίαν τῶν ἀρχαίων ἐπισκόπων, καὶ μετὰ τὴν ὑπογραφὴν τῶν ἰδίων πατέρων, προσποιοῦνται, ὡς ἀγνοοῦντες, τὴν λέξιν φοβεῖσθαι, τοῦ ὁμοουσίου, εἰπάτωσαν καὶ φρονείτωσαν ἁπλούστερον μὲν καὶ ἀληθῶς τὸν υἱὸν, φύσει υἱόν, ἀναθεματισάτωσαν δε, ὡς παρήγγειλεν ἡ σύνοδος, τοὺς λέγοντας κτίσμα ἢ ποίημα, ἢ ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων, ἢ ἦν ποτε ὅτι οὐκ ἦν ὁ υἱός τοῦ Θεοῦ· καὶ ὅτι τρεπτὸς καὶ ἀλλοιωτός ἐστι, καὶ ἐξ ἑτέρας ὑποστάσεως· καὶ οὕτως φευγέτωσαν ἀπο τῆς Ἀρειανῆς αἱρέσεως, καὶ θαρροῦμεν, ὅτι γνήσιως ταῦτα ἀναθεματίζοντες ὁμολογοῦσιν εὐθύς, ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας καὶ ὁμοούσιον εἶναι τὸν υἱὸν τῷ Πατρί. διὰ τοῦτο γὰρ καὶ οἱ πατέρες εἰρηκότες ὁμοούσιον εἶναι τὸν υἱόν ἐπήγαγον εὐθυς, Τους δὲ λέγοντας κτίσμα, ἢ ποίημα, ἢ ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων, ἢ ἦν ποτε ὅτε οὐκ ἦν, ἀναθεματίζει ἡ καθολική ἐκκλησία· ἵνα διὰ ταῦτα σμαίνει τὸ ὁμοούσιον· καὶ ἡ τοῦ ὁμοουσίου δύναμις γινώσκεται ἐκ τοῦ μὴ εἶναι κτίσμα ἢ ποίημα τὸν υἱόν· καὶ ὅτι ὁ Λέγων ὁμοούσιον οὐ φρονεῖ κτίσμα εἶναι τὸν λόγον· καὶ ὁ ἀναθεματίζων τὰ προειρημένα ὁμοούσιον ἅμα φρονεῖ εἶναι τὸν υἱόν τῷ Πατρί· καὶ ὁ ὁμοούσιον λέγων γνέσιον καὶ ἀληθινόν λέγει τὸν υἰόν τοῦ Θεοῦ· καὶ ὁ γνήσιον λέγων νοεῖ τὸ Ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ Πατήρ ἕν ἐσμεν.—In Epist Ad African. Episcop., vol. i p. 940. edit Paris. 1627. [§ 9 vol. i. p. 898].

l. Dispkicet, inquit, cuiquam in synodo Nicæna homoousion esse susceptum? hoc si cui displicet, necesse est placeat, quod ab Arianis est negatum. Negatum enim ideirco est homoousion, ne ex substantia Dei Patris Deus Filius natus, sed sucundum creaturas ex nihilo conditus prædicaretur. Nihil novum loquimur: pluribus edita literis ipsa Arianorum perfidia sibi testis est. Si propter negantium impietatem pia tum fuit intelligenitia confitentium, quæ cur hodie convellatur, quod tum pie susceptum est, quia impie negabatur? Si pie susceptum est, cur venit constitutio pietatis in crimen, quæ impietatem pie per ea ipsa, quibus impiabatur, extinxit? Videamus igitur, quid Nicæna synodus statuerit [ed. Benedict. l. studerit,] homoousion, id est, unius substantiæ, confitendo: non utique hæresim parturire, quæ de homoousii vitiosa opinione concipitur. Non, opinor, illud loquentur, quod unam anteriorem substantiam suam pa tiendo diviserint . . . Non hic sanctissima religiosorum virorum synodus, nescio quam priorem, quæ in duos divisa sit, substantiam introducit; sed Filium natum de substantia Patris Numquid et nos negamus? aut quid aliud confitemur? Et post cæteras communis fidei expositiones ait, Natum, non factum, unius substantiœ cum Patre, quod Græce dicunt ὁμοούσιον. Quæ hic vitiosæ intelligentiæ occasio est? natus esse de substantia Patris Filius, non factus, prædicatur; ne nativitas divinitatis factura sit creationis. Idcirco autem unius substantiæ; non ut unus subsistat, aut solus, sed ut ex substantia Dei natus non aliunde subsitat; neque ut in aliqua dissidentis substantiæ diversitate subsistat. Aut numquid non hæc fides nostra est, ut non aliunde subsistat, neque quod indissimilis subsistat? Aut aliud hic testatur homoousion, quam ut una atque indissimilis duum sit secundum naturæ propaginem [ed. Benedict l. progeniem] essentia, quia essentia Filii non sit aliunde; quæ  quia aliunde non est, unius recte esse ambo credentur essentiæ; quia substantiam nativitatis Filius non habeat nisi de paternæ auctoritate naturæ?—pp. 241, 242. ed. Basil. 1570. [§ 83. p. 1197]


5. In the same manner Hilary also, in his treatise On Synods against the Arians says “Is anyone; displeased that the term homoousion [‘of one substance’] was adopted in the Nicene Council? If so, he must necessarily be pleased that the Arians refused to admit it. For they refused to admit the homoousion, that it might be said of God the Son, not that He is begotten of the substance of God the Father, but that He was formed out of nothing, after the manner of created beings. It is nothing new that I am saying; the faithlessness of the Arians is published in many works, and witnesses against itself. If on account of the irreligion of those who denied [the homoousion], the meaning put on it by those who confessed it at that time was irreligious, I ask why at his day it is sought to do away with that which at that time it was religious to adopt, because it was irreligious to refuse to admit it. If it was religious to adopt it, why has an appointment of religion come to be matter of accusation, which religiously extinguished irreligion by the very means by which irreligion was caused? Let us see then what the Nicene Council laid down14 in confessing the homoousion, that the [article] ‘of one substance;’ not surely to bring to birth that heresy which is conceived of an erroneous notion of the homoousion. They will not, I imagine, say this, that the Father and the Son divided by partition one anterior substance as to form their own substance.” Then after reciting the Nicene Creed, he thus proceeds; “Surely in these words the most holy council of religious men is not introducing a prior substance, one know not what, such as to have been divided into two; but the Son begotten of the substance of the Father. and do we at all deny it? or [if we do] what else do we confess? Further, after setting forth those other statements of our common faith, it says, ‘begotten, not made; of one substance with the Father’ which they express in Greek by the word ὁμοούσιος. What opening is there here for an erroneous meaning? The Son is declare to be begotten of the substance of the Father, not made, lest the begetting of the Godhead be accounted a handy-work of creation. And therefore it is, ‘of one substance’ not as though He subsist singly and alone, but to express that [the Son], being begotten of the substance of God, hath not His subsistence from any other; nor yet that He subsists in any difference of [a] diverse substance. Or will it be said that our faith is not this, that His subsistence is not from any other [than the Father,] and that it is not a dissimilar subsistence? Or does the homoousion here witness to anything other than that there is one essence of the two, and that no way dissimilar, according to natural propagation, because the essence of the Son is not from any other [than the Father]: and inasmuch as it is not from any other, it will be correct to believe that both are of one essence; because the Son hath the substance which was begotten from no other original than from the nature of the Father.”


14 “had in view.” ed. Ben.


6. The great Basil, in his three hundredth Epistle,m arguing against such as embraced the Nicene Creed in all other particulars save that they were unwilling to admit the expression “of one substance15″ after other things, which will be brought forward hereafter in a more suitable place, thus writes;n “And forasmuch as there were still at that time some who affirmed that the Son was brought into being out of what existed not, to cut off this impiety also [the fathers of Nicaea] used in addition the words ‘of one substance;’ for the union of the Son with the Father is without time or interval.16 The preceding words, indeed, sufficiently prove that this was their meaning; for after they had said ‘light of light’ and that the Son was ‘begotten of the substance of the Father, not made,’ they introduced after this the words ‘of one substance;’ shewing, as by an example, that whatever definition of light one would give in the case of the Father, the same will apply also in the case of the Son; inasmuch as true light compared with true light (as respects the mere notion of light) will allow of no difference. Since, therefore, the Father is light, without original, and the Son is light, begotten; and both of them are severally light, [the fathers] justly used the term ‘of one substance’ in order to set forth the equal dignity of their nature: for not those things which are near akin17 to one another, are said to be ‘of one sub stance’ as some have conceived; but when both the cause, and that which has its being from the cause, are of the same nature, they are [in that case] said to be of one substance.”


15. ὁμοούσιος

16. ἁδιάστατος “uninterrupted.”

17. ἄδελφα


m. [Ep. l.ii.2]

n. καὶ ἐπειδὴ ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων εἰς τὸ εἶναι παρῆχθαι τὸν υἱὸν ἔτι τότε ἦσαν οἱ λέγοντες, ἵνα καὶ ταύτην τὴν ἀσέβειαν, τὸ ὁμοούσιον προσειρήκασιν. ἄχρονος γὰρ καὶ ἀδιάστατος ἠ τοῦ υἱόυ πρὸς τὸν Πατέρα συνάφεια. δηλοῖ δὲ καὶ τὰ προλαβόντα ῥήματα, ταύτην εἶναι τῶν ἀνδρῶν τὴν διάνοιαν. εἴποντες γὰρ φῶς ἐκ φωτὸς, καὶ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρὸς τὸν υἱὸν γεγεννῆσθαι, οὐχὶ δὲ πεποιῆσθαι, ἐπήγαγον τούτοις τὸ ὁμοούσιον· παραδεικνύντες, ὄτι ὅνπερ ἄν τις ἀποδῷ φωτὸς λόγον ἐπὶ Πατρὸς, οὗτος ἁρμόσει καὶ ἐπὶ υἱοῦ. φῶς γὰρ ἀληθινὸυ, πρὸς φῶς ἀληθινόν, κατ’ αὐτὴν τοῦ φωτὸς τὴν ἔννοιαν, οὐδεμίαν ἕξει παραλλαγήν. ἐπεὶ οὖν ἐστιν ἄναρχον φῶς ὁ Πατὴρ, γεννητὸν δὲ φῶς ὁ υἱὸς, φῶς δὲ καὶ φῶς ἑκάτερος, ὁμοούσιον εἶπαν δικαίως, ἴνα τὸ τῆς φύσιως ὁμότιμον παραστήσωσιν. οὐ γὰρ τὰ ἀδελφὰ ἀλλήλοις ὁμοούσια λέγεται, ὅπερ τινὲς ὑπειλήφασιν· ἀλλ’ ὄταν καὶ τὸ αἴτον, καὶ τὸ ἐκ τοῦ αἰτίου τὴν ὔπαρξιν ἔχον, τῆς αὐτῆς ὑπάρχῃ φύσεως, ὁμοούσια λέγεται—vol. iii. p. 292. edit Paris. 1638. [vol. iii. p. 145].


7. Moreover, that this is the true meaning of the expression “of one substance,” the semi-Arians themselves at length admitted, in the council of Antioch, [held] under the emperor Jovian; instructed, it would seem, by Meletius, who presided in that council; for that he was a true Catholic is abundantly certain from Basil s statement in his fifty-second, fifty-third, and following Epistles,ο and in his three hundred and twenty-fifth to Epiphanius. For they in their synodical letter to the excellent emperor have these statements respecting the Nicene council;q “Whereas also that which seems to some to be a [new and] strange term in it, we mean that “of one substance,” hath received a safe interpretation among the fathers, intimating that the Son was begotten of the substance of the Father, and that in substance He is like unto the Father: and the term substance is not taken [by the fathers of the council] as if there were any idea of passion18 with respect to that ineffable generation, or according to a certain Greek use of the word; but for the purpose of overthrowing the impious doctrine, which was presumptuously ventured on by Arius, of the Son being out of what existed not.” I apprehend that by this time all sufficiently understand what is the legitimate sense of the expression “of one substance” as it stands in the Nicene Creed.


18. πάθους τινός


o. [Ep. lxix., xxv.]

p. [Ep. cclviii.]

q. ὁπότε καὶ τὸ δοκοῦν ἐν αὐτῇ τισὶ ξένον ὄνομα τὸ τοῦ ὁμοουσίου φαμὲν, ἀσφαλοῦς τετύχηκε παρὰ τοῖς πατράσιν ἐρμηνείας, σημαινούσης ὅτι ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρὸς ὁ υἱός ἐγεννήθη, καὶ ὅτι ὅμοιος κατ’ οὑσίαν τῷ Πατρὶ· οὔτε δὲ ὡς πάθους τινὸς περὶ τὴν ἄρρητον γέννησιν ἑλληνικὴν λαμβάνεται [τοῖς πατράσι] τὸ ὄνομα τῆς οὐσίας· εἰς ἀνατροπὴν δὲ τοῦ ἐξ οὐκ ὄντων περὶ τοῦ υἱοῦ ἀσεβῶς τολμηθέντος Ἀρείῳ.—Apud. Socrat. H. E. iii. 25; et Sozom. H. E. vi. 4.


8. But further, that this word was not first invented by the Nicene fathers, nor yet used by them in a new sense in the question about the Godhead of the Son (as many have thought), but that it had been passed on from the generations which preceded to those which followed, is expressly testified by Eusebius in his Epistle to his own diocese of Caesarea. His words are as follows;r “We were aware that some learned and distinguished bishops and writers [even] among the ancients made use of the term, “Of one substance” in treating of the Godhead of the Father and the Son.” There is no doubt that Eusebius had access to many monuments of primitive antiquity, which are not now extant any where, but have long ago perished, from which he could have most fully established this assertion of his; for even we (notwithstanding the great and deplorable wreck of ancient writers) are not without testimonies such as may sufficiently prove it. Tertullian, at the beginning of his treatise against Praxeas,s expressly says that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are “of one substance:” and affirms19 that this is moreover contained “in the rule of faith” and “the mystery of the dispensation”20 which was observed and kept by the Catholics. But what, I pray you, does the Latin expression unius substantiae denote, but the same as the Greek ὁμοούσιος? nor have I any doubt that Tertullian, as he almost every where studiously imitates the Greek ecclesiastical writers (as learned men are well awaret) so here also translated the word ὁμοούσιος—which he had found used with respect to the most holy Trinity, in writers of that class, of earlier date than himself by the words of his mother tongue, unius substantia. Rufinus (On the Adulteration of the Works of Origen) testifies that this word was often met with in the writings of Origen; when21 he says,u “Is it possible that he could have forgotten himself in the same portion22 of the same book, sometimes (as we have said) in the very next chapter? For example; after he has declared the Father and the Son to be of one substance, (which in Greek is expressed by ὁμοούσιος,) could he possibly, in the very next chapters, pronounce Him to be of another substance and created, whom he had just before asserted to be begotten23 of the very nature of God the Father?” Pamphilus adduces an instance [of his use of it] in his Apology,v where he sets before us the following words of Origen, out of his Commentary on the Epistle to the Hebrews; “These illustrations most plainly shew, that the Son hath a communion24 of substance with the Father. For an effluence25 seems to be consubstantial (ὁμοούσιος,)i. e. of one substance with that body from which it is either an effluence or vapour.” Athanasius, in his treatise On the Views26 of Dionysius of Alexandria, in opposition to the Arians, states that this Dionysius, (who was a disciple of Origen,) in an Epistle to his namesake of Rome, said that Christ was “of one substance” with God, ὁμοούσιος τῷ Θεῷ;x and that Dionysius of Rome had required of him to state this in plain terms, Now it is clear, from this statement of Athanasius, that even in the time of Dionysii the term ὁμοούσιος was in frequent use; and that such as rejected it27 (which falsely laid to the charge of the Alexandrian Dionysius) incurred the censure of the Church. I am therefore astonished at the ignorance or impudence of Sandius, which ever it be, in sayingy that even Athanasius was amongst those who acknowledged that the terms ὁμοούσιος was ultimately28 fabricated in the Nicene council. Nay, in another passage also, this very Athanasius says expressly, that this word, as it stands in the Nicene Creed, was “approved by the testimony of the bishops of former times,” i. e. of those who were anterior to the council of Nice. Look back at the passage which we quoted a little above from Athanasius, out of his letter to the bishops of Africa. But if any doubt the good faith of the great and excellent Athanasius, there is extant at this day an epistle of that very Dionysius of Alexandria against Paul of Samosata, in which he expressly says, thatz “the Son was declared by the holy fathers to be of one substance with the Father.” These words of Dionysius also plainly shew that the holy fathers who preceded him had used the term ὁμοούσιος of the Son; and thus they remarkably confirm the testimony of Eusebius, which I just now quoted. In short, from the circumstance that the martyr Pamphilus in his Apology for Origen, (which, as we shall afterwards shew, rightly bears the name of Pamphilus,) contends that Origen expressly said that the Son was “of one substance” with the Father, and therefore was catholic in the article of the Godhead of the Son; from this very circumstance, I say, it is most evident that the word ὁμοούσιος was in use among Catholics even prior to the Nicene council, and employed in explaining the doctrine concerning the Godhead of the Son; for this Pamphilus received the crown of martyrdoma some years before the council of Nice, in the persecution, that is, under Maximin, as Eusebius, On the Martyrs of Palestine, chap. 7, and Jerome, in his Catalogue, expressly testify. After this, perhaps it may  be worthwhile to observe, that the author of the book entitled Ποιμάνδρης, and attributed to Mercurius Trismegistus, in the first chapter, expressly says that “the Word of God is of one substance with the Father.” It is true that Petavius has proved on solid grounds that the writer was an impostor, that is, not Trismegistus himself, but a Christian falsely assuming his name; yet Petavius also acknowledges, that that forger was of very early times, and lived shortly after the Apostles; which is also clearly shewn by testimonies being cited from him by Justin Martyr.


19. unius substantiæ

20. sacramento οἰκονομίας.

21. dum

22. opere

23. natum

24. communionem

25. aporrhœa

26. sententia

27. abhorruisse

28. demum

29. ὁμοούσιος

30.  solide

31. circulatorem


r. [ἐπεὶ καὶ] τῶν παλαιων τινὰς λογίους καὶ ἐπιφανεῖς ἐπισκόπους καὶ συγγραφέας ἔγνομεν, ἐπὶ τῆς τοῦ Πατρὸς καὶ υἱοῦ θεολογίας τῷ τοῦ ὁμοούσιον συγχρησαμένους ὀνόματι—Apud. Socrat. H. E. i.8 [p. 25].

s. [See below, ch. vii. § 6, where the words of Tertullian are quoted]

t. B. Rhenanus says of Tertullian, that from his constant reading of the Greek authors he had imbibed so much of the Greek forms of speech, as to be unable to forget them even in writing his Latin.

u. Numquid in eodem opere ejusdem libri, interdum, ut diximus, statim in consequenti capitulo oblitus sui esse potuit? V. G. ut qui Patrem et Filium unius substantiæ, quod Græce ὁμοούσιον dicitur, designavit, in consequentibus statim capitulus alterius esse substantiæ et creatum poterat dicere eum, quem paulo ante de ipsa natura De Patris pronuntia verat natum?

v. Quæ similitudines manifestissime ostendunt, communionem substantiæ esse Filio cum Patre; aporrhœa enim ὁμοούσιος videtur, id est, unius substantiæ cum illo corpore, ex quo est vel aporrhœa vel vapor.—[c. 5. p. 33]

x. [vide Dionysii Opera, p. 90]

y. De Script. Eccles., pp. 39, 40. edit. secund. et pp. 121, 122.

z. ὁμοούσιον τῷ Πατρὶ εἰρημένον ὑπὸ τῶν ἁγίων πατέρων.—Biblioth. Patr., tom. xi. p. 277 [opera, 214.]

a. In the year 309. Cave in Pam.—Bowyer.

b. De Trin. i.2. § 3, 4.


9. Some persons, however, have thought that there is a very strong presumption against the term ὁμοούσιος (“of one substance”) in the fact, that the council of Antioch, which was held against Paul of Samosata about sixty years before the Nicene, expressly repudiated the term. Theologians, both ancient and modernc have been at pains32 to account for the contradictory language of these councils. In accordance with my design, I shall speak only of the ancients. Hilary, towards the end of his book On the Synods, against the Arians, states that Paul of Samosata confessed that word ὁμοούσιος in a bad sense, and that, on this account, the fathers of the council of Antioch rejected the term. “The Samosatene,” he saysd “did ill when he confessed the homoousion. But did the Arians do better in denying it?” In what sense, however, could the Samosatene have confessed it? Petavius gives the following answer:e “He might have admitted the term in the same sense as Sabellius, with whom he coincided in opinion on the doctrine of the Trinity; that is to say, by laying down the substance and essence of the Godhead to be singular, which involved the entire separation of Christ from it; who, that He might not be set down as of one substance with God, must have had His beginning as God in time. For, that the Samosatene asserted the Word to be of one substance in the same sense as Sabellius, is shewn by Hilary in the same passage, when he says, that Paul had that the Son is of one substance34 [with the Father,] a statement which the fathers in the council of Antioch forbad to be used, in as much as by this use of the term ‘of one essence’ he pronounced the Father and the Son to be one only single and solitary Being35′ ” But this, and I say it with all deference to the venerable Hilary, does not seem to me to be by any means likely. For, granting that the Samosatene heretic held precisely the same opinion touching the Son of God as Sabellius, (a position, however, which might with good grounds be questioned,) yet surely Sabellius himself would never have willingly affirmed that the Son is consubstantial (ὁμοούσιος) with the Father, but rather identically-substantial (ταυτοούσιος) Besides, if the Sabellians before the council of Nice had used the word ὁμοούσιος in order to spread their heresy, it is no way credible, that the fathers of Nice, who certainly abhorred the Sabellian, no less than the Arian, heresy, would have inserted that word in their Creed. Sandius,f however, confidently maintains “that the followers of Sabellius embraced the term ‘of one substance’36 that is, of course, before the Nicene council, for if this be not his meaning, his assertion would be nothing to the purpose. Hence in another place he expressly says, that Sabellius himself used the word “of one substance.” Let us see by what evidence he proves this assertion of his. “For they,” his words are, who repudiated the term of ‘one substance’ affirmed that those who approved of it, were introducing afresh the opinions of Montanus and Sabellius, (observe their agreement in doctrine,) and accordingly they called them blasphemers. Socrat. Eccl. Hist. i.23, and Sozom. ii. 18.” My reply is, that Socrates and Sozomen, in the places cited, do, it is true, relate that after the Nicene council there were great contentions concerning the word ὁμοούσιος amongst the very bishops who subscribed to the Nicene Creed, especially between Eusebius Pamphili and Eustathius of Antioch; the former with his party charging Eustathius and his party, who asserted the article “of one substance,” with Montanism and Sabellianism; the latter, again, objecting against them [that they introduced] the polytheism of the heathens; both sides in the meantime professing their belief to be this;g “That the Son of God has a proper subsistence and being; and that there is one God in three persons.”37 For this we have the express testimony of Socrates, and that derived from a careful reading of the tracts and letters which those bishops wrote (in answer) each to the other. It must however be especially observed, that Eusebius and his party no way pretended that the word ὁμοούσιος in itself, or according to its proper signification, went to confirm the heresy of Sabellius, much less that the Nicene fathers wished, by its use, to give the Christian world to taste [the cup of38] Sabellianism; but that he merely said this, that Eustathius and his party, who embraced the term “of one substance,” wished to introduce Sabellianism that is, so interpreted the word as to make it altogether to favour the Sabellian heresy. Indeed it is expressly said by Socrates,h that Eusebius, in the very letter in which he accused Eustathius of Sabellian error in his use of the word ὁμοούσιος, openly professed that “he himself did not transgress the Creed of Nicaea.” Whether Eusebius charged Eustathius justly with Sabellianism, there is no need for us to enquire anxiously. Certainly, however, Marcellus, who was the teacher of Eustathius, maintained pure39 Sabellianism in his writings, as is perfectly clear from the books of Eusebius, which he composed against him. Therefore Hilary, (in his book to Constantius,) and Basil the Great, (in his letters 52, 74, and 78,i) and others, expressly class Marcellus amongst heretics. The circumstance of his being, at least for a considerable time, in very warm favour40 with the great Athanasius, must, I think, altogether be ascribed to his cunning and hypocrisy, and to the zeal and ardour which he displayed against the Arians. With regard to Eustathius himself, (although I should be unwilling without due grounds at all to detract from the reputation or estimation of a man who was held in much esteem by very many Catholics, and who was also ennobled by the friendship of the great Athanasius,) still I candidly confess that I do not know how it could have come to pass, that the bishops assembled at Antioch, although they may have been—the greater part of them—Arians, singled him out from all those who asserted the article “of one substance,” for the charge of “holding rather the opinions of Sabellius, than those which the council of Nice decreed;” and on that account deposed him from the see of Antioch, (which Socrates witnesses to from the relation of others, although he expresses, on very slender grounds indeed, his own doubts of their trustworthiness, i.24,) unless he had himself given them at least some handle and occasion for a charge of such a nature. What is to be said to the fact, that Cyrus, bishop of Beroea, who, (according to the relation of George of Laodicæa, the Arian, in the same passage of Socrates,) was the man who accused Eustathiusk of Sabellianism before the council, was a Catholic, and was afterwards himself deposed by the Arians on account of his maintaining the Catholic doctrine, as Athanasius testifies in his letter To those who were living in Solitude? George indeed, says, that this Cyrus also was deposed for his Sabellian doctrine; but by Sabellian doctrine the heretic in that place had no other idea than the doctrine “of one substance,” as Valesius has correctly observed;l and this observation easily reconciles the apparent discrepancy41 in the statement of George, which perplexed Socrates. But how does all this make for the purpose of Sandius? What sort of conclusion, I ask, is this? Eusebius Pamphili accused Eustathius of Antioch, of so interpreting the expression “of one substance,” which was correctly understood by the Nicene fathers, as to subserve the introduction into the Church of the heresy of Sabellius; therefore the followers of Sabellius, before the council of Nice, employed and embraced “of one substance.” The incidental observation of Sandius, on the agreement of Montanus and Sabellius in their doctrine respecting the most Holy Trinity, we will consider by and by, in a more suitable place. I therefore say again, that it seems to me by no means probable that the Sabellians every used the expression “of one substance” if their own accord and willingly; though, after the word had been sanctioned by the authority of the Nicene council, they endeavoured to drag it (at it were) by force42 into the service of their own heresy. For the expression “of one substance” in itself is so far from agreeing with the Sabellian heresy, that it was plainly repugnant to it; as was excellently observed by the great Basil (Epistle 300) in these words;m “This expression corrects the evil of Sabellius for it takes away the identity of the personal subsistence,42 and introduces the idea of the persons as complete; since a thing is not itself ‘of one substance with itself, but one thing with another. I therefore conclude that Paul of Samosata, as agreeing with Sabellius on the doctrine of the Trinity, did not use the words “of one substance” for the purpose of expressing his heresy: and that the fathers assembled at Antioch did not on that account reject it.


32. de hac . . . ἀντιλογίᾳ . . . laborarunt

33. unicam substantiam . . . et οὐσίαν.

34. ὁμοούσιος

35. solitarium atque unicum sibi

36. homoousion

37. ὑποστάσεσιν

38. propinare

39. purum purum

40. in flagranti gratia

41. ἐναντιοφάνεια

42. oborto quasi collo trahere

43. τὴν ταυτότητα τῆς ὑποστάσεως


c. [The editor of the works of Dionysius of Alex. (Pref. p. xl. &c.) proves by many arguments that the fathers of Antioch did not by any means repudiate the word ὁμοούσιος—B. See Dr Burton’s view fully stated in Mr Faber’s Apostolicity of Trinitarianism, vol. ii. p. 302].

d. Male, inquit, homooysion Samosatenus confessus est; sed numquid melius Ariani negaverunt?—[Hil. de Synod., § 86. p. 1200]

e. Ea ratione potuit admittere, qua Sabellius, cui in Trinitatis dogmate consentaneus erat; uti scilicet unicam substantiam divinitatis et οὐσίαν poneret, a qua plane separandus esset Christus; qui ne ὁμοούσιος Deo constitueretur, in tempore Deus esse cœpisset. Quod enim eodem sensu ὁμοούσιον Verbum esse Samosatenus affirmarit, quo Sabellius, ibidem Hilarius [de Synod., § 81. p. 1196.] ostendit, cum illum dicit ὁμοούσιον esse Filium docuisse, quod in Antiochena synodo Patres usurpari vetuerunt, quia per hanc unius essentiæ nuncupationem solitarium atque unicum sibi esse esse Patrem et Filium prædicabat.—De Trin. iv. 5. 2.

f. Enunc. Histor. Ecclesiast. i. p. 112.

g. ἐνυπόστατον τε καὶ ἐνυπάρχοντα τὸν τοῦ Θεοῦ, ἕνα τε Θεὸν ἐν τρισὶν ὑποστάσεσιν εἶναι. I am persuaded that Eustathius did not use the very word ὑποστάσεσι: but some other term which Socrates considered equivalent to it.

h. [Εὐσεβιος μὲν ἐν Νικαίᾳ πίστιν οὔ φησι παραβίνειν· διαβάλει δὲ Εὐστάθιον ὡς τὴν Σαβελλίου δόξαν εἰσάγοντα. Socrat. E. H. i.23]

i. [Ep. lxix., cclxiii., and  cxxv.]

k. I am quite of the opinion that Eustathius was an over pertinacious maintainer of the one hypostasis (μία ὑπόστασις) in the Godhead; at the same time that perhaps he meant by the term hypostasis nothing else than essence or substance (οὐσίαν): on which account also the party, which after him were called Eustathians, were shunned by other Catholics as Sabellians: and thence followed a great schism at Antioch. See Petavius, de Trinit. iv.4.10 &c.

l. See the note of Valesius on Socrates, p. 14. [i.24 p. 58.]

m. αὕτη δὲ ἡ φωνὴ καὶ τὸ τοῦ Σαβελλίου κακόν ἐπανορθοῦται· ἀναιρεῖ γὰρ τὴν ταῦτότητα τῆς ὑποστάσεως, καὶ εἰσάγει τελείαν τῶν προσώπων τὴν ἔννοιαν· οὐ γὰρ αὐτὸ τί ἐστιν ἑαυτῷ ὁμοούσιον ἀλλ’ ἕτερον ἑτέρῳ.—[Ep. lii. 3. vol. iii. p. 146]


10. No one could have understood this question better than the great Athanasius; for he was himself present at the council of Nice, where, when they were most carefully examining all points respecting the article “of one substance,” this main objection (concerning the definition of the fathers in the council of Antioch) must without any doubt have been among the first to be discussed. He declares in his book, On the Synods of Ariminum and Seleucia, that Paul of Samosata did not acknowledge the article “of one substance,” but rather, out of that term, which had been employed by the Catholics in explaining the doctrine of the Divinity of the Son, contrived a sophism, for the purpose of overthrowing that doctrine; and that it was for this reason that the fathers at Antioch decided that the word should be suppressed.44 We will quote his own words, which most clearly explain this whole subject, but only in Latin, contrary to my custom, because the extract is a long one.n Athanasius then, in that work, after shewing, that, prior to the synod of Antioch, the phrase “of one substance” had received the sanction of Dionysius, bishop of Rome, and of a council of bishops assembled under him at Rome to consider the case of Dionysius of Alexandria, and had further been acknowledged also by that Dionysius of Alexandria himself, afterwards proceeds to treat fully of the discrepancy between the councils of Antioch and Nice;o “If, then, any one blames45 the Nicene bishops as having spoken contrary to what their predecessors had decreed, he may also with (equal) justice46 blame the seventy (bishops)” who were assembled at Antioch against Paul of Samosata, as not “having kept to the statements of their predecessors; for such were the two Dionysii and the (other) bishops, who were assembled on that occasion at Rome. But it is not right to blame either these or those; for they all cared for the things of Christ47 and all directed their zeal against the heretics. One party, indeed, condemned the Samosatene, and the other the Arian, heresy; but both these and those defined rightly and well according to the matter before them. And as the blessed Apostle, in his Epistle to the Romans, said, ‘the law is spiritual, the law is holy; and the commandment holy and just and good;48 and yet a little after added, for what the law could not do, that it was weak,’49 &c. . . . and yet no one would charge the saint, on this account, with writing what was inconsistent and contradictory, but would rather admire him as writing unto each suitably to the occasion, &c. . . . ; so also, if the fathers of the two councils used different50 expressions in speaking of the term of ‘one substance’ still we ought not for that reason by any means to dissent from them, but to search out their meaning and view;51 by doing which we shall certainly discover that both councils agree in opinion. For they who deposed the Samosatene, apprehending52 One substance in a corporeal sense;—Paul (that is) wishing to sophisticate, and saying, “If Christ did not of man become God, then is He of one substance with the Father; whence it necessarily follows, that there are three substances, one which is prior,53 and the other two which have their origin from it:—on this account with good reason, guarding against sophism such as this on the part of Paul, they said that Christ was not ‘of one substance;’ for the Son is not so related to the Father as he imagined. They, however, who anathematized the Arian heresy, having perceived the craft of Paul, and having considered that the expression of one substance has not this meaning, when applied to things incorporeal, and especially to God; knowing, moreover, that the Word is not a creature, but an offspring of the substance54 [of the Father,] and that the substance of the Father is the origin, root and fountain of the Son; and He was the very true55 likeness of Him that begat; not as of separate growth, as we are, is He parted, from the Father: but as of Him56 a Son, He exists undivided; as the radiance is to the light; and having likewise before their eyes the illustrations of Dionysius, that of the fountain for instance, and (what else is contained in) his Apology for the words of ‘one substance’ and especially57 that saying of the Saviour, expressive of unity,58 ‘I and the Father are one’ and, ‘he that hath seen Me hath seen My Father also’  on these grounds they also, with good reason, were led to declare59 that the Son is ‘of one substance.’ ” He then after a few words goes on to say; “For since the Samosatene held that the Son was not before Mary, but received from her the beginning of His being, on this account the assembled bishops condemned the man as a heretic and deposed him; but touching the Godhead of the Son, writing in simple fashion, they did not busy themselves about the exact meaning of the expression of ‘one substance’ but, as they apprehended60 the ‘One substance,’ so did they speak of it; for they only were intent on overthrowing what the Samosatene had devised, and on setting forth that the Son was before all things, and that He did not become God from being man, but being God, He put on the form of a servant; and being the Word, He became flesh, as St. John said. And thus was the blasphemy of Paul dealt with. But when the party of Eusebius and Arius taught that the Son was indeed before all time, yet that He was made, and was one of the creatures; and as to the expression ‘Of God,’ did not believe it in the sense that He was the true Son of the Father, but affirmed that to be ‘of God’ held good of Him in the same sense as of the creatures; and, as to the oneness of likeness of the Son to the Father, did not confess that it is in respect of essence61 or nature, that the Son is like the Father, but is on account of the agreement of doctrines and of teaching; nay and also severed off, and made entirely alien the substance of the Son from the Father, devising for Him another origin of being, and bringing Him down to the number of the creatures: on this account the bishops who assembled at Nice, having perceived the craftiness of those who held this opinion, and having brought together62 the sense out of the Scriptures used the phrase ‘of one substance’ to express it more clearly63 in order that by this the truth and genuineness of His Sonship might be known, and that created beings64 might have nothing in common with Him. For the precision of this term both detects their hypocrisy, if they use the formula ‘of God’ and also excludes all their plausible arguments, whereby they seduce the simple-minded.65 At any rate, they are able to put a sophistical construction upon, and to change the meaning of all other words as they please; this phrase only, as detecting their heresy, they dread; which very phrase the fathers set down as a bulwark against all their impious speculations.” Thus far the great Athanasius.


44. supprimendam

45. culpat

46. εἰκότως pari jure

47. ἑπρέσβευον τά Χριστοῦ quæ Christi sunt curavere

48. Rom 7.12

49. Rom 8.3

50. diversimode

51. διανοίαν mentem ac sententiam

52. ἐκλαμβάνοντες

53. προηγουμένην

54. γέννημα ἐκ τῆς ουσίας

55. αὐτοαληθὴς verum undecumque

56. ἐκ αὐτοῦ

57. πρὸ τούτων imprimis

58. unitricem ἐνοειδῆ

59. inducti sunt ut dicerent

60. ἐξειλήφασι

61. οὐσίας essentia

62. συναγάγοντες

63. λευκότερον ἔγραψαν

64. γενητὰ

65. ὑφαρπάζουσι


n. [The Greek is here supplied, see next note]

o. εἴπερ οὖν μέμφεταί τις τοῖς ἐν Νικαίᾳ συνελθοῦσιν, ὡς εἰρηκόσι παρὰ τὰ δόξαντα τοῖς πρὸ αὐτῶν, [The old reading was ὡς εἰρηκόσι πάντα τὰ δόξαντα τοῖς πρὸ αὐτῶν, which Bp. Bull, not without cause, seems to have corrected to ὡς μὴ εἰρηκόσι, κ.τ.λ. The Benedictine reading however is better, ὡς εἰρηκόσι παρὰ τὰ δόξαντα.—B. This has been followed in the translation. Some of the words added in the Latin version of this extract given by Bull, are retained in parentheses] ὁ αὐτὸς μέμψαιτ’ ἄν εἰκότως καὶ τοῖς ἑβδομήκοντα, ὅτι μὴ τὰ τῶν πρὸ αὐτῶν ἐφύλαξαν· πρὸ ἀυτῶν γὰρ ἦσαν οἱ Διονύσιοι, καὶ Ῥώμῃ τὸ τηνικαῦτα συνελθόντες ἐπίσκοποι. ἀλλ’ οὔτε τούτους, οὔτε ἐκείνους ὅσιον αἰτιάσασθαι· πάντες γὰρ ἐπρέσβευον τὰ Χριστοῦ, καὶ πάντες σπουδὴν ἐσχάκασι κατὰ τῶν αἱρετικῶν· και οἱ μὲν τὸν Σαμοσατέα, οἱ δὲ τὴν Ἁρειανήν αἵρεσιν κατέκριναν. ὀρθῶς δὲ καὶ οὗτοι κακεῖνοι, καὶ καλῶς πρὸς τὴν ὑποκειμένην ὑπόθεσιν γεγράφασι. καὶ ὥσπερ ὁ μακάριος ἀπόστολος Ῥωμαίοις μὲν ἐπιστέλλων ἔλεγεν, ὁ νὀμος πνευματικός ἐστιν· καὶ ὁ νόμος ἅγιος· καὶ ἐντολὴ ἁγία, καὶ δικαία, καὶ ἀγαθή· καὶ μετ’ ὀλίγον, τὸ γὰρ ἀδύνατον τοῦ νόμου ἐν ᾧ ἠσθένει· . . καὶ οὐκ ἄν τις αἰτιάσαιτο τὸν ἅγιου ὡς ἐναντία καὶ μαχόμενα γράφοντα, ἀλλὰ καὶ μᾶλλον θαυμάσειεν ἁρμοζόντως πρὸς ἑκάστους ἐπιστέλλοντα, κ.τ.λ., . . . οὕτως εἰ ἀμφοτέρων τῶν συνόδων οἱ πατέρες διαφόρως ἐμνημόνευσαν περὶ τοῦ ὁμοουσίου, οὐ χρὴ πάντως ἡμᾶς διαφέρεσθαι πρὸς αὐτοὺς, ἀλλὰ τὴν διάνοιαν αὐτῶν ἐρευνᾶν, καὶ πάντως εὐρήσομεν ἀμφοτέρων τῶν συνόδων τὴν ὁμόνοιαν. οἱ γὰρ τὸν Σαμοσατέα καθελόντες, σωματικῶς ἐκλαμβάνοντες τὸ ὁμοούσιον, τοῦ Παύλου σοφίζεσθαί τε θέλοντος καὶ λέγοντος, εἰ μή ἐξ ἀνθρώπου γέγονεν ὁ Χριστὸς Θεὸς, οὐκοῦν ὁμοούσιος ἐστι τῷ πατρὶ, καὶ ἀνάγκη τρεῖς οὐσίας εἶναι, μίαν μὲν προηγουμένην, τας δὲ δύο ἐξ ἐκείνης. διὰ τοῦτ’ εἰκότως εὐλαβηθέντες τὸ τοιοῦτο σόφισμα τοῦ Σαμοσατέως, εἰρήκασι μὴ εἶναι τὸν Χριστὸν ὁμοούσιον. οὐκ ἔστι γὰρ οὔτως ὁ υἱὸς πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, ὡς ἐκεῖνος ἐνόει. οἱ δὲ τὴν Ἀρειανὴν αἵρεσιν ἀναθεματίσαντες, θεωρήσαντες τὴν πανουργίαν τοῦ Παύλου, καὶ λογισάμενοι μὴ οὕτως καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἀσωμάτον, καὶ μάλιστα ἐπὶ Θεοῦ τὸ ὁμοούσιον σημαίνεσθαι, γινώσκοντες το μὴ κτίσμα, ἀλλ’ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας γέννημα εἶναι τὸν λόγον, καὶ τὴν οὐσίαν τοῦ πατρὸς ἀρχὴν, καὶ ῥίζαν, καὶ πηγὴν εἶναι τοῦ υἱοῦ· καὶ αὐτοαληθὴς ὁμοιότης ἦν τοῦ γεννήσαντος, οὐχ ὡς ἐτεροφυνὴς, ὡσπὲρ ἡμεῖς ἐσμεν, χωριζόμενος ἐστι τοῦ πατρὸς ἀλλ᾽ ὡς ἐξ αὐτοῦ υἱὸς ἀδιαίρετος ὑπάρχει, ὡς ἔστι τὸ ἀπαύγασμα πρὸς τὸ φῶς· ἔχοντεσ δὲ καὶ τὰ περὶ Διονύσιον παραδείγματα, τὴν πηγὴν, καὶ τὴν περὶ τοῦ ὁμοουσίου ἀπολογίαν· πρὸ δὲ τοῦτων τὴν τοῦ Σωτῆρος ἑνοειδῆ φωνήν· ἐγὼ καὶ ὁ πατὴρ ἕν ἐσμεν· καὶ, ὁ ἑωρακὼς ἐμὲ, ἑώρακε τὸν πατέρα· τούτου ἔνεκεν εἰκότως εἰρήκασι καὶ αὐτοὶ ὁμοούσιον τὸν υἱὸν . . . ἐπειδὴ γὰρ ὁ Σαμοσατεὺς ἐφρόνειμὴ εἶνααι πρὸ Μαρίας τὸν υἱὸν, ἀλλ᾽ ἀπ᾽ αὐτῆς ἀρχὴν ἐσχηκέναι τοῦ εἶναι, τούτου ἕνεκεν οἱ τότε σθνελθόντες, καθεῖλον μὲν αὐτὸν καὶ αἱρετικὸν ἀπέφῃναν· περὶ δὲ τῆς τοῦ υἱοῦ θεότητος ἁπλούστερον γράφοντεσ, οὐ κατεγένοντο περὶ τὴν τοῦ ὁμοουσίου ἀκρίβειαν, ἀλλ᾽ οὕτως ὡς ἐξειλήφασι περὶ τοῦ ὁμοουσίου εἰρήκασι· τὴν φροντίδα γὰρ εἶχον πᾶσαν ὅπερ ἐπενόησεν ὁ Σαμοσατεὺς, ἀνελεῖν, καὶ δεῖξαι, πρὸ πάντων εἶναι τὸν υἱὸν, καὶ ὅτι οὐκ ἐξ ἀνθρώπων γέγονε Θεὸς, ἀλλὰ Θεὸς ὢν, ἐνεδύσατο δούλου μορφήν· καὶ λόγος ὢν, γέγονε σάρξ, ὡς εἶπεν Ἱωάννης· καὶ οὔτω μὲν κατὰ τῆς βλασφηνίας Παύλου πέπρακται. ἐπειδὴ δὲ οἱ περὶ Εὐσέβιον καὶ Ἄρειον, πρὸ χρόνων μὲν εἶναι τὸν υἱόν ἔλεγον, πεποιῆσθαι μέντοι, καὶ ἕνα τῶν κτισμάτων αὐτὸν ἐδίδασκον, καὶ τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ, οὐχ ὡς υἱὸν ἐκ πατρὸς γνήσιον, ἐπίστευον, ἀλλ᾽ ὡς τὰ κτίσματα, οὕτω καὶ ἐπ᾽ αὐτοῦ τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ εἶναι διαβεβαιοῦντο, τήν τε ὁμοιώσεως ἑνότητα τοῦ υἱοῦ πρὸς τὸν πατέρα, οὐκ ἔλεγον κατὰ τὴν οὐσίαν οὔδε κατὰ τὴν φύσιν ὠς ἔστιν υἱὸς ὅμοιος πατρὶ, ἀλλὰ διὰ τὴν συμφωνίαν τῶν δογμάτων καὶ τῆς διδασκαλίας, ἀλλὰ γὰρ καὶ ἀπεσχοίνιζον καὶ ἀπεξενοῦντο παντελῶς τὴν οὐσίαν τοῦ υἱοῦ ἀπὸ τοῦ πατρὸς, ἑτέραν ἀρχὴν αὐτῷ τοῦ εἶναι ἐπινοοῦντες, καὶ εἰς τὰ κτίσματα καταφἐροντες αὐτόν· τούτου χάριν οἱ ἐν Νικαίᾳ σθνελθόντες, θεωρήσαντες τὴν πανουργίαν τῶν οὕτω φρονούντων, καὶ συνάγαγοντες ἐκ των γραφῶν τὴν διάνιοαν, λευκότερον γράφοντες, εἰρήκασι τὸ ὁμοούσιον· ἵνα καὶ τὸ γνήσιον ἀληθῶς ἐκ τοὺτου γνωσθῇ τοῦ υἱοῦ, καὶ μηδὲν κοινὸν ἔχῃ πρὸς τοῦτον τὰ γενητά· ἡ γὰρ τῆς λέξεως ταύτης ἀκρίβεια τήν τε ὑπόκρισιν αὐτῶν, ἑὰν λέγωσι τὸ ἐκ τοῦ Θεοῦ ῥητὸν, διελέγχει. καὶ πάσας αὐτῶν τὰς πιθανότητας, εν αἷς ὑφαρπάζουσι τοὺς ἀκεραίους, ἐκβάλλει. πάντα γοῦν δυνάμενοι σοφίζεσθαι καὶ μεταποιεῖν, ὡς θέλουσι, ταύτην μόνην τὴν λέξιν, ὡς διελέγχουσαν αὐτῶν τὴν αἵρεσιν δεδίασιν· ἣν οἱ πατέρες, ὡσπὲρ ἐπιτείχισμα κατὰ πάσης ἀσεβοῦς ἐπινοίας αὐτῶν ἔγραφον.—Athan. tom. i. pp. 919-20. edit. Paris. 1627. [§ 45. vol. i. p. 758].


11. He is, moreover, supported in his views by the great Basil, in his three hundredth Epistle; where, having spoken of the publication66 of the Nicene Creed, he subjoins the following words;q “Of this the other portions indeed are altogether incapable of being assailed by calumny; but the word ὁμοούσιος, having been used in a wrong sense by some, there are persons who have not yet accepted it. These one might with justice blame, and yet again, on second thoughts, they might be deemed excusable; for, although a refusal to follow the fathers and to consider the word adopted by them, as of more authority than one’s own opinion, be deserving of blame, as fraught with wilfulness; still on the other hand, the suspecting it, in consequence of its having had an ill name given it67 by others, seems in some measure to exonerate them from that blame. For, in truth, they who were assembled in the matter of Paul of Samosata, did give an ill name68 to this word, as not conveying a good meaning;69 for they said that the term ὁμοούσιος, ‘of one substance’ suggests the idea of a substance and the things which are formed from it; so as that the substance being divided in to parts, gives the appellation ‘of one substance’ to the things into which it is divided. And this notion has some forcer in the case of metal, and the pieces of money made from it; but in the instance of God the Father and God the Son, there is not contemplated any substance elder than or overlying70 both; for to think or assert this were something beyond impiety.” You perceive that in these words Basil expressly testifies, that the word ὁμοούσιος was rejected by the fathers of Antioch only so far as it seemed to denote a certain divine substance anterior to the Father and the Son, which was subsequently divided into the Father and the Son. Now it is most clear, that neither Paul of Samosata nor Sabellius confessed the doctrine “of one substance” in this sense. It therefore follows, that the assertion of Athanasius is quite true, that Paul framed an argument for impugning the divinity of Christ out of the word ὁμοούσιος, which he was aware was in use among Catholics, (and possibly so explained by some of them, as to give occasion to its being spoken ill of,) and that the fathers, accordingly, determined on the suppression of it altogether.


66. de præconio F. N. promulgato

67. διαβληθείσαν

68. διέβαλον

69. ούκ εὔσημον

70. πρεσβύτερα ἤ ὑπερκειμένη.


q. οὗ τὰ μὲν ἄλλα παντάπασιν ἔστὶν ἀσυκοφάντητα, τὴν δὲ τοῦ ὁμοουσίου φωνὴν κακῶς παρά τινων ἐκληφθεῖσαν, εἰσί τινες οἱ μήπῶ παραδεξάμενοι. οὓς καὶ μέμψαιτ᾽ ἄν τις δικαίως, καὶ πάλιν μέν τοι συγγνώμης αὐτοὺς ἀξιώσειεν. τὸ μὲν γὰρ πατράσι μὴ ἀκολουθεῖν, καὶτὴν ἐκείνων φωνὴν κυριωτέραν τίθεσθαι τῆς ἑαυτῶν γνώμης, ἐγκλήματος ἄξιον, ὡς αὐθαδείας γέμον· τὸ δὲ πάλιν ὑφ᾽ἑτέρων διαβληθεῖσαν αὐτήν ὕποπτον ἔχειν τοῦτο πως δοκεῖ τοῦ ἐγκλήματος αὐτοὺς μετρίως ἐλευθεροῦν. καἰ γὰρ τῷ ὄντι οἱ ἐπὶ Παύλῳ τᾡ Σαμοσατεῖ συνελθόντες διέβαλον τὴν λέξιν, ὡς οὐκ εὔσημον. ἔφασαν γὰρ ἐκεῖνοι, τὴν τοῦ ὁμοουσίου φωνὴν παριστᾷν ἔννοιαν οὐσίας τε καὶ τῶν ἀπ᾽αὐτῆς, ὥστε καταμερισθεῖσαν τὴν οὐσίαν παρέχειν τοῦ ὁμοουσίου τὴν προσηγορίαν τοῖς εἰς ἃν διῃρέθη. τοῦτο δὲ ἐπὶ χαλκοῦ μὲν καὶ τῶν ἀπ᾽ἀπ᾽αὐτοῦ νομισμάτον ἔχει τινὰ λόγον τὸ διανόημα·ἐπὶ δὲ Θεοῦ πατρὸς, καὶ Θεοῦ υἱοῦ, οὐκ οὐσία πρεσβυτέρα οὐδ᾽ὑπερκειμένη ἀμφοῖν θεωρεῖται· ἀσεβείας γὰρ ἐπέκεινατοῦτο καὶ νοῆσαι καὶ φθέγξασθαι—Op. Basilii, tom. iii. p. 292. [Ep.lii. l. p. 145.]

r. Hoc quidem verissimum est, &c., is the Latin translation.


12. And this view of the case receives no little confirmation from the history of the Nicene council. It is, I mean, altogether probable, that the word ὁμοούσιος was rejected by the fathers of Antioch for the very same reason, for which it was also disliked by certain catholic bishops at the council of Nice, that is to say, at first, before the other bishops and Constantine himself explained the word more distinctly. Now what was that reason? Was it because the word in question favoured the opinions of the Samosatene or Sabellius; or that those two heretics had employed it in explaining their heresy? Nothing is further from the truth. The actual reason was, because, on the contrary, the word appeared to some to imply that partition of the divine essence, which I just now mentioned; this is expressly declared by Eusebius Pamphili, in his letter to his diocese of Caesarea, respecting the Nicene council, in the following words;s “After they had dictated this formula,” (i.e. the formula of faith now called the Nicene Creed,) “we did not passover without examination their expressions, ‘of the substance of the Father’ and ‘of one substance with the Father.’ In consequence many questions and answers arose on these points, and the meaning of the terms was tested by discussion; and in particular it was admitted by them, that the expression ‘of the substance,’ was intended to signify that the Son is indeed of the Father, but yet does not exist as a part of the Father. And as to these points it seemed to us also right to assent to the meaning.” Previously, in the same letter, Eusebius had said that Constantine himself satisfied some of the bishops who raised a question about the expression, “of one substance,” by these words;t that “he did not use the words of one substance with reference to what takes place in the case of bodies,71 nor yet, that the Son subsisted72 either by way of73 division or any kind of abscission from the Father inasmuch as it was not possible that the immaterial, intellectual, and incorporeal nature should be the subject of any corporeal affection; but of divine and mysterious terms it is fit that we conceive in like manner [i. e. in divine and mysterious thoughts.] Lastly, before the time of Paul of Samosata, Sabellius also had himself denied the generation of the Son, into a distinct Person, of God the Father Himself, i.e. His being “of one for the same substance,” for the same reason, namely, that there would thence follow a division, and a cutting asunder, as it were, of the Divine Substance; as Alexander informs us, not obscurely, in a letter to his namesake, the bishop of Constantinople, given in Theodoret; where he says that the Son “was begotten, not out of what is not”74 but of the Father who Is; not after the likeness of [material] bodies, by cuttings off, or by streamings off, which imply division, as Sabellius fancies.” These words of Alexander admit plainly of a twofold meaning. Either, first, that Sabellius himself supposed that the Son was begotten of God the Father, after the manner of [material] bodies, by a cutting into or partition of the Father’s substance; or secondly, that that heretic thought that such a partition of the Father’s substance necessarily resulted from the view of the Catholics, who taught that the Son was so begotten of the very substance of the Father as to be a distinct Person75 from the Father, and on that account he rejected that catholic doctrine. The former of these senses is altogether absurd, since it is known to every one that Sabellius taught that God is one Person only;76 and that he recognised no real distinction of Persons in the Divine Essence, much less a partition thereof. It remains, then, that we must certainly take the words in the other sense. And indeed the earliest forerunners of Sabellius, whose heresy is stated and refuted by Justin Martyr, (in his Dialogue with Trypho,) opposed a distinction of Persons in the Godhead by the same argument, as we shall afterwards shew, where we treat of the doctrine of Justin. Nay, it is certain that all the heretics who have ever denied a distinct subsistence of the Son of God in the Divine Essence, (whether they were Sabellians, followers of the Samosatene, or, lastly, Arians,) have invariably placed the chief support of their cause on this very sophism. And I have no doubt that the Nicene fathers wished to counteract this wrong conception of the doctrine of the “consubstantiality” of the Son, when (after saying that the Son is “begotten of the substance of the Father”) they subjoined immediately, “God of God, light of light.” For by these words they signify that the Son of God is so begotten of God the Father, God of God, as light is kindled of another light; not by a simple communication, such as (if any illustration of so great a mystery may be derived from things material) is the communication of light from another light, without any division or diminution of it.


71. κατὰ τὰ τῶν σωμάτων πάθη.

72. ὑποστῆναι

73. κατὰ

74. οὐκ ἐκ τοὺ μὴ ὄντος

75. hypostasis

76. μονοπρόσωπος


s. καὶ δὴ ταύτης τῆς γραφῆς ὑπ᾽ αὐτῶν ὑπαγορευθείσης. ὅπως εἴρηται αὐτοῖς τὸ ἐκ οὐσίας τοῦ Πατρὸς, καὶ τὸ τῷ Πατρὶ ὁμοούσιον, οὐκ ἀνεξέταστον αὐτοῖς καταλιμπάνομεν. ἐπερωτήσεις τοιγαροῦν καὶ ἀποκρίσεις ἐντεῦθεν ἀνεκινοῦντο, ἐβασάνιζεν τε ὁ λόγος τὴν διάνοιαν τῶν εἰρημένων· καὶ δὴ καὶ τὸ ἐκ τῆς οὐσίας ὡμολόγητο πρὸς αὐτῶν δηλωτικὸν εἶναι τοῦ ἐκ μὲν τοῦ πατρὸς εἶναι, οὐ μὴνὡς μέρος ὑπάρχειν τοῦ Πατρός. ταῦτα δὲ καὶ ἡμῖν ἐδόκει καλῶς ἔχειν συγκατατίθεσθαι τῇ διανοίᾳ [τῆς εὐσεβοῦς διδασκαλίας, κ.τ.λ.]—Apud Scrat. Eccl. Hist. i.8 [p. 24.].

t. ὅτι μὴ κατὰ τὰ τῶν σωμάτων πάθη λέγοι τὸ ὁμοούσιον, οὔτε οὖν κατὰ διάρεσιν οὔτε κατὰ τινα ἀποτομὴν ἐκ τοῦ Πατρὸς ὑποστῆναι. μήτε γὰρ δύνασθαι τὴν ἄϋλον, καὶ νοερὰν, καὶ ἀσώματον φύσιν σωματικόν τι πάθος ὑφίστασθαι· θείοις δὲ καὶ ἀπορρέτοις ῥήμασι προσήκει τὰ τοιαῦτα νοεῖν.[ibid.]

u. γεννηθέντα οὐκ ἐκ τοῦ ὄντος, ἀλλ᾽ἐκ τοὺ ὄντος Πατρὸς, οὐ κατὰ τὰς τῶν σωμάτων ὁμοιότητας, ταῖς τομαῖς ἢ ταῖς ἐκ διαιρέσεων ἀπορροίαις, ὥσπερ Σεβελλίῳ δοκεῖ—Eccl. Hist. i. 4. p. 17. edit. valesii. [p. 18].

x. See chap. iv. sect. 4 of this book.


13. And thus after carefully weighing everything, we are led to the decided opinion, that they following is the most simple way of reconciling this apparent contradiction77 between the councils of Antioch and Nice. The Catholics before the time of Paul of Samosata, and the council convened at Antioch against him, were accustomed to say, in discoursing of  the Godhead of the Father and the Son, that the Son is “of one substance” with the Father; as is abundantly proved by the testimonies of the ancient authors prior to the council of Antioch, which we have alleged before. Paul, however, in striving by every means to overthrow the received doctrine of the divinity of the Son, employed a sophistical argument, derived from a wrong understanding of the meaning of the expression “of one substance:” as thus: If the Son be of one substance with the Father, as you (Catholics),  say it will follow that the Divine Substance is, as it were, severed into two parts, whereof one constitutes the Father, and the other the Son and thus that there existed a certain Divine Substance, anterior to the Father and the Son, which afterwards was distributed into those two. The fathers of the council of Antioch with good reason abhorred this interpretation of the word; and therefore, not caring much about words in a question of such moment, they were content to suppress the term itself in silence, in order to cut off all occasion for the cavils of the heretics, provided only that the thing was agreed on, i. e. the true divinity of the Son. When, however, the Arians afterwards denied the thing itself, which is really represented in the word, that is to say, the true divinity of the Son, and adduced (as is probable) the definition of the fathers of Antioch to screen their heresy, the bishops assembled at Nice with good reason formally recalled (as from exile78) and inserted in their Creed, this most fitting expression, which, as they were aware, had been received and approved by holy fathers prior to the council of Antioch, and which Catholics had then had taken from them, simply on account of the absurd cavils of the impious Samosatene; such an explanation being added in the Creed itself, as no one but an heretic could reject. This will be sufficient before fair judges to vindicate the venerable fathers of Nice for adding the word ὁμοούσιος to their Creed; an additional reason, however, is given by Athanasius, in the fore-cited passage, and that with great truth; to the effect that the most holy fathers were by a kind of necessity, driven to place that word in their confession of faith, (although it nowhere occurs in the Scriptures, and even had, on somewhat slight grounds, been rejected by some of their predecessors,) driven that is to say, by reason of the “unprincipled cunning”79 of the Arians, such as can hardly be believed, and such as all good men must simply detest, or (to use another expression of Athanasiusy), “the wickedness80 and evil artifice of their impiety.” For those eminent masters of pretence and dissimulation did not reject any one form of speech, which the Catholics had adopted and used, either out of Scripture or from tradition, with the sole exception of the word ὁμοούσιος; as being a word of which the precision and exactness precluded all attempt at equivocation. When they were asked whether they acknowledged that the Son was begotten of the Father Himself81? they used to assent, understanding, as is plain, the Son to be of God in such sense as all creatures are of God, that is, have the beginning of their existence from Him. When the Catholics enquired of them whether they confessed that the Son of God was God, they forthwith answered, Most  certainly. Nay more, they used of their own accord openly to declare82 that the Son of God is true God.83 But in what sense? Forsooth being made true [God], He is true [God]; that is, He is true God who was truly made God.z Lastly, when they were charged by the Catholics with asserting that the Son of God is a creature, would repel the charge not without some indignation: with the secret reservation of its being in this sense, that the Son of God is not a creature, as all other creatures are; they being created by God mediately through the Word84 not immediately, as the Word Himself. The word ὁμοούσιος “of one substance,” was the only expression which they could not in any way reconcile with their heresy. Read by all means what Athanasius has written on this subject, in his letter to the African bishops, given by Theodoret, (Eccl. Hist. i.8;) where this is especially to be observed, that Athanasius asserts that the Nicene fathers had designed to construct the confession of their faith from passages of Scripture exclusively; and that they would have carried this into effect, had they not been diverted from their purpose by the impious and abominable cunning of the Arians in perverting and wresting the words of the sacred oracles, of which they had full proof before their eyes. As to the observation of Athanasius, that the expression ὁμοούσιος “of one substance,” was the one word upon which the Arians could not put any false colour, it is remarkably confirmed by Ambrose, (in his treatise On the Divinity of the Son, c.4,) in these words:a “In short, even now they might (so far as the word is concerned) use the phrase ὁμοούσιος, as they have all others also, if they knew how to pervert it to another meaning by putting a distorted sense on it; but perceiving themselves to be shut up by this word, they wished that no mention at all should be made of it [in the Creed.”] And, in fact, the complete truth of this declaration of Athanasius and Ambrose is abundantly attested by the various and manifold confessions of the Arians, (as they are recorded by Athanasius himself in his treatise On the Councils of Ariminum and Seleucia, and by Hilary in his work On the Councils against the Arians, and by other writers;) inasmuch as in these confessions the word ὁμοούσιος “of one substance,” is uniformly omitted, although well-nigh all the other statements85 of the Catholics concerning the Son of God are found in them. So that the Arian fanatics, in burning with such excessive fury against that word, seem to me to act like mad dogs, that snarl at the iron chains by which they are confined, and attempt in vain to break them with their teeth.


77. ἐναντιοφανείας

78. quasi postliminio

79. τὴν πανουργίαν

80. τἠν κακουργίαν καὶ τὴν τῆς ἀσεβείας κακοτεχνίαν

81. ex ipso Patre

82. ultro prædicabant

83. ἀληθινὸν Θεόν

84. δία τοῦ λόγου

85. præconia


y. [Epist. ad Afric. § 7 vol. i. p. 93]

z. γενόμενος ἀληθινὸς, ἀληθινός ἐστιν i.e. Verus est Deus, qui vere factus est Deus.

a. Denique et nune possent ὁμοούσιον sicut et cætera, verbo tenus nominare, si haberent quomodo illud ad aliam intelligentiam scævo sensu perverterent. Sed cum viderent, se in hoc verbo concludi, nullam omnino hujus mentionem fieri voluerent.—[Several critics deny that this work is by Ambrose. vol. ii Append., p. 351.—B.]


14. For the rest; we are by no means to listen to Stephen Curcellæus,b who could affirm without a blush, that “the insertion of the word ὁμοούσιος into the confession of faith by the Nicene bishops, as a watchword of orthodoxy, after it had been excluded from it as heretical by the council of Antioch sixty years before, happened through an oversight, in that the bishops who met at Nice had heard nothing of the decree of Antioch; and that afterwards when it came to their knowledge, after the council was dissolved, it was no longer open to them to make any alteration.” For what man that is in his senses, and (to use an expression of Curcellæus ) that has not been possessed by a spirit of dizziness, would think it likely, that out of three hundred and eighteen bishops, of whom some (as we have before seen from Eusebius) were remarkable for learning, and others also venerable from their advanced age, there should not be one who knew what had been decreed in a very celebrated council, of which the remembrance was yet fresh. But even supposing we were to allow as a concession to Curcellæus, that all the rest of the prelates were so ignorant of the history of the Church, it was at any rate quite impossible that Eusebius, bishop of Caesarea, should have been unacquainted with this fact; seeing that he was a man, beyond all controversy, most thoroughly acquainted with ecclesiastical matters. What is to be said to the fact that Athanasius, who, as it has been said before, was himself present and taking a part in the Nicene council, expressly testifies, in the passage above quoted, that the fathers assembled at Nice thoroughly understood the craft of Paul, that is, of Paul of Samosata, in his procuring by sophistry, among the bishops at Antioch, the throwing aside of a most apt expression, which had been of old in use among the Catholic doctors; and that, in consequence, they had recalled it again into the use of the Church. Nothing could have been, said more express than this against the fabrication of Curcellæus.


86. integrum

87. τὴν πανουργίαν τοῦ Παύλου

88. figmentum


b. Quatern Dissertat., Dissert. i. p. 138. [§71. p. 852. Op., ed. 1675]


15. But before we bring to a close our enquiry respecting the word “of one substance,” we must once more briefly meet a statement of Sandius, who in the first bookc a of his “Ecclesiastical History open,”89 laid maintains, that the word ὁμοούσιος was first fabricated by heretics, that is to say, by the Valentinians and other Gnostics; from whom the phrase was afterwards taken up by Montanus, Theodotus, Sabellius, Paul of Samosata, and the Manichees; and alleges that this is witnessed to by Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, and others. I ask him what his meaning is, when he says that this word was first fabricated by the Valentinians and other Gnostics. Does he mean this, that the Gnostics were the first to devise the Greek word, and to bring it into use? I suppose he was not so utterly foolish as this. At any rate, as has been already shewn, the heathen writers among the Greeks used the very same word. Or did he mean that the Gnostics used that word respecting some of their Æons? We allow that they did; and no more than this is attested by Irenaeus and other Catholic writers.d But what of that? Surely these same Gnostics also applied to their Æons the words λόγος σωτήρ, παράκλητος, and very many others which were in use among the Catholics in speaking of the divine Persons. Are we then, on this account, to say, that the Gnostics were the first to invent them? and are the words, on this ground, to be excluded from use in the Church? Certainly not. The remark of Tertullian is to the purpose, (against Praxeas, chap. 8e) “The Truth does not refrain from the use of the word, because heresy also uses it. Nay, heresy has rather borrowed it from the truth, to frame it into her own counterfeit.” Lastly, was this what he meant, that the Gnostics were the first to teach that the Word, or Son of God, was of one substance with God the Father ? He must surely allow, either that this was his meaning in the passage I have cited, or that his observations were not at all to the point. Now this is entirely false neither Irenaeus, nor anyone of the ancient writers makes such a statement. On the contrary, it is most certain that the Gnostics (I mean, the Cerinthians, Valentinians, &c.) entirely denied the consubstantiality of the Logos, i.e. of the Word, or Son of God; and were on that account condemned by the Catholics who wrote against them, as guilty of heresy. Indeed they separated the Logos so far from the essence of the most high God, the Father of all, that that Æon was totally ignorant of that his first parent; as we learn from Irenaeus, Tertullian, and others. So also denied the co-eternity90 of the Word, affirming that Silence preceded the Word; and that, consequently, there was a time when the Word did not exist at all; and from this cause also they were vehemently opposed by the most ancient Catholic doctors of the Church. In a word, the heresy, which was afterwards called the Arian, had the Gnostics for its first authors and parents ; as we shall most clearly prove in a subsequent portion of the work.f Of Sabellius and Paul of Samosata, I have already said what may suffice. With regard to Montanus, by what argument will Sandius prove that he was heretical on the article of the most holy
Trinity? His authorities are Socrates, i.23, and Sozomen, ii.18. They associate Montanus with Sabellius, as thinking alike on the doctrine of the most holy Trinity. But let us hear what the excellent Valesius has observed on the passage in Socrates; “It is not clear,” he says, “why Socrates joins Montanus and Sabellius together; for we have the testimony of Epiphanius, (On the Heresy of the Montanists,) and of Theodoret, (in his third book On the Fables of the Heretics,) that Montanus himself made no innovation in the doctrine of the Trinity, but adhered to the faith of the Catholic Church; some of his followers, however, did away with the distinction of persons, with Sabellius, as Theodoret in the passage cited above expressly writes,g ‘Certain of them, almost in the same way as Sabellius, denied the three Persons of the Godhead, alleging that the Father, the son and the Holy Ghost are the same person91.’ ” To the observations of Valesiush I will add this also; Tertullian in his treatise against Praxeas, (a work which was certainly written by him after he had become a Montanist,) most strenuously assailed the heresy which Sabellius embraced; for92 Praxeas entertained the very same opinions as Sabellius afterwards [did.] It is, therefore, more than certain, that neither Montanus himself, nor his earliest followers, entertained the same views as Sabellius on the doctrine of the Trinity. If Sandius had understood this, he might easily have corrected his many mistakes in the first book of his Hist. Eccl. Enucl., in which he treats of Montanus and his heresy. But what, I ask, is the meaning of Sandius, in enumerating Theodotus among the upholders of the word “of one substance.” Does he mean Theodotus the Tanner, who in the time of Pope Victor taught that Christ was a mere man93? But what ancient writer, nay what human being, before Sandius, maintained that Theodotus ever dreamt of the consubstantiality of the Son? Then, with respect to the Manichees, Augustine indeed states, (as Sandius afterwards quotes him, when he is treating of those heretics,) that they acknowledged the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost to be of a nature not unequal. Be it so. But what then? Sandius may sooner draw water from a pumice-stone, than hammer out of these facts anything to suit his purpose! Meanwhile, it is no great merit in the Manichees to confess that the three Persons of the Godhead are of a nature not unequal; for (according to Sandius’ own statement) they thought that angels also, and the souls of men had their existence of the divine substance. And thus far of the word ὁμοούσιος, “of one substance.” Let us now deal with the thing itself.


89. Historiæ Ecclesiasticæ enucleatæ.

90. τὸ συναίδιον

91. τὸν αὐτὸν εἶναι

92. scilicet

93. ψιλὸν ἄνθρωπον


c. p. 122

d. See above, §2

e. Non ideo, inquit, non untatur et veritas volcabulo [isto (sc. προβολὴν) et re et censu ejus,] potius ex veritate accepit, quod ad mendacium suum strueret. [p. 504. The Latin is given in full; the words in brackets were omitted by Bp Bull, and “utatur” altered to “utitur;” the words “utitur imo hæresis” have been restored in the translation, to complete the sense]

f. See Bk iii. 1. §15-16.

g. τινὲς δὲ αὐτῶν τὰς πρεῖς ὑποστάσεις τῆς θεότητος Σαβελλίῳ παραπλησίως ἡρνήσαντο, τὸ αὐτὸν εἶναι λέγοντες καὶ πατέρα, καὶ υἱὸν, καὶ ἅγιον πνεῦμα.—Theodoret. Hæret. Fab. iii.2. vol. iv p. 227.


16. We affirm that it was the concordant and uniform view of the Catholic doctors, who flourished in the first three centuries, that the Son of God is, in the aforesaid sense, of one substance with God the Father; that is, that He is not of any created or mutable essence, but of altogether the same divine and unchangeable nature with His Father; and therefore is true God. The ancient writers, indeed, teach94 this doctrine in many different ways. 1. They teach the doctrine “of one substance,” so often as they affirm that the Son of God is put forth and begotten, not only by the Father,95 but of Him. For that is a most certain axiom. Τὸ ἐκ Θεοῦ γεννηθὲν, Θεός ἐστι,h “What is begotten of God, is God.” 2. They teach the same, so often as they declare that the Son is the true, genuine, proper, and natural Son of God the Father. 3. The very same do they declare by the similes with which they are accustomed, as best they may, to illustrate the generation of the Son. They say that the Son is begotten of96 the Father, as a tree proceeds out of the root, a stream out of the fountain, a ray out of the sun. But the root and the tree, the fountain and the stream, the light in the disc of the sun and that in the ray, are clearly of the same nature; so are the Father and the Son of altogether the same substance. But you will find no simile, in which the fathers take more delight, than in that of light out of light, as when fire is kindled of fire97 or the beam put forth98 out of the sun. Hence the Nicene prelates in their creed inserted that expression φῶς ἐκ φωτός, Light of Light,” in illustration of the article “of one substance” 4. They most openly confirm the doctrine “of one substance,” when (as they all do) they except the Son of God from the number of created beings, and expressly deny that He is a creature; for there is nothing midway between God and a creature. 5. They affirm the same, so often as they ascribe to the Son of God attributes which belong to the true God only. 6. Lastly, they teach this very truth, so often as they explicitly pronounce the Son of God to be not only God, but true God also, God by nature, one God with the Father. In most of the fathers all these arguments for the consubstantiality may be found; whilst most of them occur in all. But let us now hear them speak for themselves.


94. tradunt

95. Patre sed ex ipso “out of Himself”

96. generari ex

97. ex

98. porrigitur


g. [Irenaeus, 1.8.5. p. 41]