Tertullian Adv Prax. 2 ect.

Chapter II.—The Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity and Unity, Sometimes Called the Divine Economy, or Dispensation of the Personal Relations of the Godhead.

In the course of time, then, the Father forsooth was born, and the Father suffered, God Himself, the Lord Almighty, whom in their preaching they declare to be Jesus Christ. We, however, as we indeed always have done (and more especially since we have been better instructed by the Paraclete, who leads men indeed into all truth), believe that there is one only God, but under the following dispensation, or οἰκονομία , as it is called, that this one only God has also a Son, His Word, who proceeded from Himself, by whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made. Him we believe to have been sent by the Father into the Virgin, and to have been born of her—being both Man and God, the Son of Man and the Son of God, and to have been called by the name of Jesus Christ; we believe Him to have suffered, died, and been buried, according to the Scriptures, and, after He had been raised again by the Father and taken back to heaven, to be sitting at the right hand of the Father, and that He will come to judge the quick and the dead; who sent also from heaven from the Father, according to His own promise, the Holy Ghost, the Paraclete, the sanctifier of the faith of those who believe in the Father, and in the Son, and in the Holy Ghost. That this rule of faith has come down to us from the beginning of the gospel, even before any of the older heretics, much more before Praxeas, a pretender of yesterday, will be apparent both from the lateness of date which marks all heresies, and also from the absolutely novel character of our new-fangled Praxeas. In this principle also we must henceforth find a presumption of equal force against all heresies whatsoever—that whatever is first is true, whereas that is spurious which is later in date. But keeping this prescriptive rule inviolate, still some opportunity must be given for reviewing (the statements of heretics), with a view to the instruction and protection of divers persons; were it only that it may not seem that each perversion of the truth is condemned without examination, and simply pre- judged; especially in the case of this heresy, which supposes itself to possess the pure truth, in thinking that one cannot believe in One Only God in any other way than by saying that the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost are the very selfsame Person. As if in this way also one were not All, in that All are of One, by unity (that is) of substance; while the mystery of the dispensation is still guarded, which distributes the Unity into a Trinity, placing in their order the three Persons—the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost: three, however, not in condition, but in degree; not in substance, but in form; not in power, but in aspect; yet of one substance, and of one condition, and of one power, inasmuch as He is one God, from whom these degrees and forms and aspects are reckoned, under the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost. How they are susceptible of number without division, will be shown as our treatise proceeds.

Chapter III.-Sundry Popular Fears and Prejudices. The Doctrine of the Trinity in Unity Rescued from These Misapprehensions.

The simple, indeed, (I will not call them unwise and unlearned, ) who always constitute the majority of believers, are startled at the dispensation25 (of the Three in One), on the ground that their very rule of faith withdraws them from the world’s plurality of gods to the one only true God; not understanding that, although He is the one only God, He must yet be believed in with His own oi0konomi/a. The numerical order and distribution of the Trinity they assume to be a division of the Unity; whereas the Unity which derives the Trinity out of its own self is so far from being destroyed, that it is actually supported by it. They are constantly throwing out against us that we are preachers of two gods and three gods, while they take to themselves pre-eminently the credit of being worshippers of the One God; just as if the Unity itself with irrational deductions did not produce heresy, and the Trinity rationally considered constitute the truth. We, say they, maintain the Monarchy (or, sole government of God). And so, as far as the sound goes, do even Latins (and ignorant ones too) pronounce the word in such a way that you would suppose their understanding of the monarxi/a (or Monarchy) was as complete as their pronunciation of the term. Well, then Latins take pains to pronounce the monarxi/a (or Monarchy), while Greeks actually refuse to understand the oi0konomi/a, or Dispensation (of the Three in One). As for myself, however, if I have gleaned any knowledge of either language, I am sure that monarxi/a (or Monarchy) has no other meaning than single and individual rule; but for all that, this monarchy does not, because it is the government of one, preclude him whose government it is, either from having a son, or from having made himself actually a son to himself, or from ministering his own monarchy by whatever agents he will. Nay more, I contend that no dominion so belongs to one only, as his own, or is in such a sense singular, or is in such a sense a monarchy, as not also to be administered through other persons most closely connected with it, and whom it has itself provided as officials to itself. If, moreover, there be a son belonging to him whose monarchy it is, it does not forthwith become divided and cease to be a monarchy, if the son also be taken as a sharer in it; but it is as to its origin equally his, by whom it is communicated to the son; and being his, it is quite as much a monarchy (or sole empire), since it is held together by two who are so inseparable. Therefore, inasmuch as the Divine Monarchy also is administered by so many legions and hosts of angels, according as it is written, “Thousand thousands ministered unto Him, and ten thousand times ten thousand stood before Him; ” and since it has not from this circumstance ceased to be the rule of one (so as no longer to be a monarchy), because it is administered by so many thousands of powers; how comes it to pass that God should be thought to suffer division and severance in the Son and in the Holy Ghost, who have the second and the third places assigned to them, and who are so closely joined with the Father in His substance, when He suffers no such (division and severance) in the multitude of so many angels? Do you really suppose that Those, who are naturally members of the Father’s own substance, pledges of His love, instruments of His might, nay, His power itself and the entire system of His monarchy, are the overthrow and destruction thereof? You are not right in so thinking. I prefer your exercising yourself on the meaning of the thing rather than on the sound of the word. Now you must understand the overthrow of a monarchy to be this, when another dominion, which has a framework and a state peculiar to itself (and is therefore a rival), is brought in over and above it: when, e.g., some other god is introduced in opposition to the Creator, as in the opinions of Marcion; or when many gods are introduced, according to your Valentinuses and your Prodicuses. Then it amounts to an overthrow of the Monarchy, since it involves the destruction of the Creator.

Chapter IV.-The Unity of the Godhead and the Supremacy and Sole Government of the Divine Being. The Monarchy Not at All Impaired by the Catholic Doctrine.

But as for me, who derive the Son from no other source but from the substance of the Father, and (represent Him) as doing nothing without the Father’s will, and as having received all power from the Father, how can I be possibly destroying the Monarchy from the faith, when I preserve it in the Son just as it was committed to Him by the Father? The same remark (I wish also to be formally) made by me with respect to the third degree in the Godhead, because I believe the Spirit to proceed from no other source than from the Father through the Son. Look to it then, that it be not you rather who are destroying the Monarchy, when you overthrow the arrangement and dispensation of it, which has been constituted in just as many names as it has pleased God to employ. But it remains so firm and stable in its own state, notwithstanding the introduction into it of the Trinity, that the Son actually has to restore it entire to the Father; even as the apostle says in his epistle, concerning the very end of all: “When He shall have delivered up the kingdom to God, even the Father; for He must reign till He hath put all enemies under His feet; ” following of course the words of the Psalm: “Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool.” “When, however, all things shall be subdued to Him, (with the exception of Him who did put all things under Him, ) then shall the Son also Himself be subject unto Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all.” We thus see that the Son is no obstacle to the Monarchy, although it is now administered by the Son; because with the Son it is still in its own state, and with its own state will be restored to the Father by the Son. No one, therefore, will impair it, on account of admitting the Son (to it), since it is certain that it has been committed to Him by the Father, and by and by has to be again delivered up by Him to the Father. Now, from this one passage of the epistle of the inspired apostle, we have been already able to show that the Father and the Son are two separate Persons, not only by the mention of their separate names as Father and the Son, but also by the fact that He who delivered up the kingdom, and He to whom it is delivered up-and in like manner, He who subjected (all things), and He to whom they were subjected-must necessarily be two different Beings.

Chapter V.-The Evolution of the Son or Word of God from the Father by a Divine Procession. Illustrated by the Operation of the Human Thought and Consciousness.

But since they will have the Two to be but One, so that the Father shall be deemed to be the same as the Son, it is only right that the whole question respecting the Son should be examined, as to whether He exists, and who He is and the mode of His existence. Thus shall the truth itself secure its own sanction from the Scriptures, and the interpretations which guard them. There are some who allege that even Genesis opens thus in Hebrew: “In the beginning God made for Himself a Son.” As there is no ground for this, I am led to other arguments derived from God’s own dispensation, in which He existed before the creation of the world, up to the generation of the Son. For before all things God was alone-being in Himself and for Himself universe, and space, and all things. Moreover, He was alone, because there was nothing external to Him but Himself. Yet even not then was He alone; for He had with Him that which He possessed in Himself, that is to say, His own Reason. For God is rational, and Reason was first in Him; and so all things were from Himself. This Reason is His own Thought (or Consciousness) which the Greeks call lo/goj, by which term we also designate Word or Discourse and therefore it is now usual with our people, owing to the mere simple interpretation of the term, to say that the Word was in the beginning with God; although it would be more suitable to regard Reason as the more ancient; because God had not Word from the beginning, but He had Reason even before the beginning; because also Word itself consists of Reason, which it thus proves to have been the prior existence as being its own substance. Not that this distinction is of any practical moment. For although God had not yet sent out His Word, He still had Him within Himself, both in company with and included within His very Reason, as He silently planned and arranged within Himself everything which He was afterwards about to utter through His Word. Now, whilst He was thus planning and arranging with His own Reason, He was actually causing that to become Word which He was dealing with in the way of Word or Discourse. And that you may the more readily understand this, consider first of all, from your own self, who are made “in the image and likeness of God,” for what purpose it is that you also possess reason in yourself, who are a rational creature, as being not only made by a rational Artificer, but actually animated out of His substance. Observe, then, that when you are silently conversing with yourself, this very process is carried on within you by your reason, which meets you with a word at every movement of your thought, at every impulse of your conception. Whatever you think, there is a word; whatever you conceive, there is reason. You must needs speak it in your mind; and while you are speaking, you admit speech as an interlocutor with you, involved in which there is this very reason, whereby, while in thought you are holding converse with your word, you are (by reciprocal action) producing thought by means of that converse with your word. Thus, in a certain sense, the word is a second person within you, through which in thinking you utter speech, and through which also, (by reciprocity of process, ) in uttering speech you generate thought. The word is itself a different thing from yourself. Now how much more fully is all this transacted in God, whose image and likeness even you are regarded as being, inasmuch as He has reason within Himself even while He is silent, and involved in that Reason His Word! I may therefore without rashness first lay this down (as a fixed principle) that even then before the creation of the universe God was not alone, since He had within Himself both Reason, and, inherent in Reason, His Word, which He made second to Himself by agitating it within Himself.


Chapter VIII.-Though the Son or Word of God Emanates from the Father, He is Not, Like the Emanations of Valentinus, Separable from the Father. Nor is the Holy Ghost Separable from Either. Illustrations from Nature.

If any man from this shall think that I am introducing some that is to say, some prolation of one thing out of another, as Valentinus does when he sets forth Aeon from Aeon, one after another-then this is my first reply to you: Truth must not therefore refrain from the use of such a term, and its reality and meaning, because heresy also employs it. The fact is, heresy has rather taken it from Truth, in order to mould it into its own counterfeit. Was the Word of God put forth or not? Here take your stand with me, and flinch not. If He was put forth, then acknowledge that the true doctrine has a prolation; and never mind heresy, when in any point it mimics the truth. The question now is, in what sense each side uses a given thing and the word which expresses it. Valentinus divides and separates his prolations from their Author, and places them at so great a distance from Him, that the Aeon does not know the Father: he longs, indeed, to know Him, but cannot; nay, he is almost swallowed up and dissolved into the rest of matter. With us, however, the Son alone knows the Father, and has Himself unfolded “the Father’s bosom.” He has also heard and seen all things with the Father; and what He has been commanded by the Father, that also does He speak. And it is not His own will, but the Father’s, which He has accomplished, which He had known most intimately, even from the beginning. “For what man knoweth the things which be in God, but the Spirit which is in Him? ” But the Word was formed by the Spirit, and (if I may so express myself) the Spirit is the body of the Word. The Word, therefore, is both always in the Father, as He says, “I am in the Father; ” and is always with God, according to what is written, “And the Word was with God; ” and never separate from the Father, or other than the Father, since “I and the Father are one.” This will be the prolation, taught by the truth, the guardian of the Unity, wherein we declare that the Son is a prolation from the Father, without being separated from Him. For God sent forth the Word, as the Paraclete also declares, just as the root puts forth the tree, and the fountain the river, and the sun the ray. For these are probolai/or emanations, of the substances from which they proceed. I should not hesitate, indeed, to call the tree the son or offspring of the root, and the river of the fountain, and the ray of the sun; because every original source is a parent, and everything which issues from the origin is an offspring. Much more is (this true of) the Word of God, who has actually received as His own peculiar designation the name of Son. But still the tree is not severed from the root, nor the river from the fountain, nor the ray from the sun; nor, indeed, is the Word separated from God. Following, therefore, the form of these analogies, I confess that I call God and His Word-the Father and His Son-two. For the root and the tree are distinctly two things, but correlatively joined; the fountain and the river are also two forms, but indivisible; so likewise the sun and the ray are two forms, but coherent ones. Everything which proceeds from something else must needs be second to that from which it proceeds, without being on that account separated: Where, however, there is a second, there must be two; and where there is a third, there must be three. Now the Spirit indeed is third from God and the Son; just as the fruit of the tree is third from the root, or as the stream out of the river is third from the fountain, or as the apex of the ray is third from the sun. Nothing, however, is alien from that original source whence it derives its own properties. In like manner the Trinity, flowing down from the Father through intertwined and connected steps, does not at all disturb the Monarchy, whilst it at the same time guards the state of the Economy.

Chapter IX.-The Catholic Rule of Faith Expounded in Some of Its Points. Especially in the Unconfused Distinction of the Several Persons of the Blessed Trinity.

Bear always in mind that this is the rule of faith which I profess; by it I testify that the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit are inseparable from each other, and so will you know in what sense this is said. Now, observe, my assertion is that the Father is one, and the Son one, and the Spirit one, and that They are distinct from Each Other. This statement is taken in a wrong sense by every uneducated as well as every perversely disposed person, as if it predicated a diversity, in such a sense as to imply a separation among the Father, and the Son, and the Spirit. I am, moreover, obliged to say this, when (extolling the Monarchy at the expense of the Economy) they contend for the identity of the Father and Son and Spirit, that it is not by way of diversity that the Son differs from the Father, but by distribution: it is not by division that He is different, but by distinction; because the Father is not the same as the Son, since they differ one from the other in the mode of their being. For the Father is the entire substance, but the Son is a derivation and portion of the whole, as He Himself acknowledges: “My Father is greater than I.” In the Psalm His inferiority is described as being “a little lower than the angels.” Thus the Father is distinct from the Son, being greater than the Son, inasmuch as He who begets is one, and He who is begotten is another; He, too, who sends is one, and He who is sent is another; and He, again, who makes is one, and He through whom the thing is made is another. Happily the Lord Himself employs this expression of the person of the Paraclete, so as to signify not a division or severance, but a disposition (of mutual relations in the Godhead); for He says, “I will pray the Father, and He shall send you another Comforter … even the Spirit of truth,” thus making the Paraclete distinct from Himself, even as we say that the Son is also distinct from the Father; so that He showed a third degree in the Paraclete, as we believe the second degree is in the Son, by reason of the order observed in the Economy. Besides, does not the very fact that they have the distinct names of Father and Son amount to a declaration that they are distinct in personality? For, of course, all things will be what their names represent them to be; and what they are and ever will be, that will they be called; and the distinction indicated by the names does not at all admit of any confusion, because there is none in the things which they designate. “Yes is yes, and no is no; for what is more than these, cometh of evil.”


Chapter XI.-The Identity of the Father and the Son, as Praxeas Held It, Shown to Be Full of Perplexity and Absurdity. Many Scriptures Quoted in Proof of the Distinction of the Divine Persons of the Trinity.

It will be your duty, however, to adduce your proofs out of the Scriptures as plainly as we do, when we prove that He made His Word a Son to Himself. For if He calls Him Son, and if the Son is none other than He who has proceeded from the Father Himself, and if the Word has proceeded from the Father Himself, He will then be the Son, and not Himself from whom He proceeded. For the Father Himself did not proceed from Himself. Now, you who say that the Father is the same as the Son, do really make the same Person both to have sent forth from Himself (and at the same time to have gone out from Himself as) that Being which is God. If it was possible for Him to have done this, He at all events did not do it. You must bring forth the proof which I require of you-one like my own; that is, (you must prove to me) that the Scriptures show the Son and the Father to be the same, just as on our side the Father and the Son are demonstrated to be distinct; I say distinct, but not separate: for as on my part I produce the words of God Himself, “My heart hath emitted my most excellent Word,” so you in like manner ought to adduce in opposition to me some text where God has said, “My heart hath emitted Myself as my own most excellent Word,” in such a sense that He is Himself both the Emitter and the Emitted, both He who sent forth and He who was sent forth, since He is both the Word and God. I bid you also observe, that on my side I advance the passage where the Father said to the Son, “Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten Thee.” If you want me to believe Him to be both the Father and the Son, show me some other passage where it is declared, “The Lord said unto Himself, I am my own Son, to-day have I begotten myself; “or again, “Before the morning did I beget myself; ” and likewise, “I the Lord possessed Myself the beginning of my ways for my own works; before all the hills, too, did I beget myself; ” and whatever other passages are to the same effect. Why, moreover, could God the Lord of all things, have hesitated to speak thus of Himself, if the fact had been so? Was He afraid of not being believed, if He had in so many words declared Himself to be both the Father and the Son? Of one thing He was at any rate afraid-of lying. Of Himself, too, and of His own truth, was He afraid. Believing Him, therefore, to be the true God, I am sure that He declared nothing to exist in any other way than according to His own dispensation and arrangement, and that He had arranged nothing in any other way than according to His own declaration. On your side, however, you must make Him out to be a liar, and an impostor, and a tamperer with His word, if, when He was Himself a Son to Himself, He assigned the part of His Son to be played by another, when all the Scriptures attest the clear existence of, and distinction in (the Persons of) the Trinity, and indeed furnish us with our Rule of faith, that He who speaks; and He of whom He speaks, and to whom He speaks, cannot possibly seem to be One and the Same. So absurd arid misleading a statement would be unworthy of God, that, widen it was Himself to whom He was speaking, He speaks rather to another, and not to His very self. Hear, then, other utterances also of the Father concerning the Son by the mouth of Isaiah: “Behold my Son, whom I have chosen; my beloved, in whom I am well pleased: I will put my Spirit upon Him, and He shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. “Hear also what He says to the Son: “Is it a great thing for Thee, that Thou shouldest be called my Son to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the dispersed of Isreal? I have given Thee for a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be their salvation to the end of the earth. ” Hear now also the Son’s utterances respecting the Father: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because He hath anointed me to preach the gospel unto men.” He speaks of Himself likewise to the Father in the Psalm: “Forsake me not until I have declared the might of Thine arm to all the generation that is to come. ” Also to the same purport in another Psalm: “O Lord, how are they increased that trouble me!” But almost all the Psalms which prophesy of the person of Christ, represent the Son as conversing with the Father-that is, represent Christ (as speaking) to God. Observe also the Spirit speaking of the Father and the Son, in the character of a third Person: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand, until I make Thine enemies Thy footstool. ” Likewise in the words of Isaiah: “Thus saith the Lord to the Lord mine Anointed. ” Likewise, in the same prophet, He says to the Father respecting the Son: “Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? We brought a report concerning Him, as if He were a little child, as if He were a root in a dry ground, who had no form nor comeliness.” These are a few testimonies out of many; for we do not pretend to bring up all the passages of Scripture, because we have a tolerably large accumulation of them in the various heads of our subject, as we in our several chapters call them in as our witnesses in the fulness of their dignity and authority. Still, in these few quotations the distinction of Persons in the Trinity is clearly set forth. For there is the Spirit Himself who speaks, and the Father to whom He speaks, and the Son of whom He speaks. In the same manner, the other passages also establish each one of several Persons in His special character-addressed as they in some cases are to the Father or to the Son respecting the Son, in other cases to the Son or to the Father concerning the Father, and again in other instances to the (Holy) Spirit.

Chapter XII.-Other Quotations from Holy Scripture Adduced in Proof of the Plurality of Persons in the Godhead.

If the number of the Trinity also offends you, as if it were not connected in the simple Unity, I ask you how it is possible for a Being who is merely and absolutely One and Singular, to speak in plural phrase, saying, “Let us make man in our own image, and after our own likeness; ” whereas He ought to have said, “Let me make man in my own image, and after my own likeness,” as being a unique and singular Being? In the following passage, however, “Behold the man is become as one of us,” He is either deceiving or amusing us in speaking plurally, if He is One only and singular. Or was it to the angels that He spoke, as the Jews interpret the passage, because these also acknowledge not the Son? Or was it because He was at once the Father, the Son, and the Spirit, that He spoke to Himself in plural terms, making Himself plural on that very account? Nay, it was because He had already His Son close at His side, as a second Person, His own Word, and a third Person also, the Spirit in the Word,that He purposely adopted the plural phrase, “Let us make; “and, “in our image; “and, “become as one of us.” For with whom did He make man? and to whom did He make him like? (The answer must be), the Son on the one hand, who was one day to put on human nature; and the Spirit on the other, who was to sanctify man. With these did He then speak, in the Unity of the Trinity, as with His ministers and witnesses In the following text also He distinguishes among the Persons: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God created He him.” Why say “image of God? “Why not “His own image” merely, if He was only one who was the Maker, and if there was not also One in whose image He made man? But there was One in whose image God was making man, that is to say, Christ’s image, who, being one day about to become Man (more surely and more truly so), had already caused the man to be called His image, who was then going to be formed of clay-the image and similitude of the true and perfect Man. But in respect of the previous works of the world what says the Scripture? Its first statement indeed is made, when the Son has not yet appeared: “And God said, Let there be light, and there was light.” Immediately there appears the Word, “that true light, which lighteth man on his coming into the world,” and through Him also came light upon the world. From that moment God willed creation to be effected in the Word, Christ being present and ministering unto Him: and so God created. And God said, “Let there be a firmament, … and God made the firmament; “and God also said. “Let there be lights (in the firmament); and so God made a greater and a lesser light.” But all the rest of the created things did He in like manner make, who made the former ones-I mean the Word of God. “through whom all things were made, and without whom nothing was made.” Now if He too is God, according to John, (who says.) “The Word was God,” then you have two Beings-One that commands that the thing be made. and the Other that executes the order and creates. In what sense, however, you ought to understand Him to be another. I have already explained, on the ground of Personality, not of Substance-in the way of distinction, not of division. But although I must everywhere hold one only substance in three coherent and inseparable (Persons), yet I am bound to acknowledge, from the necessity of the case, that He who issues a command is different from Him who executes it. For, indeed, He would not be issuing a command if He were all the while doing the work Himself, while ordering it to be done by the second. But still He did issue the command, although He would not have intended to command Himself if He were only one; or else He must have worked without any command, because He would not have waited to command Himself.

Chapter XIII.-The Force of Sundry Passages of Scripture Illustrated in Relation to the Plurality of Persons and Unity of Substance. There is No Polytheism Here, Since the Unity is Insisted on as a Remedy Against Polytheism.

Well then, you reply, if He was God who spoke, and He was also God who created, at this rate, one God spoke and another created; (and thus) two Gods are declared. If you are so venturesome and harsh, reflect a while; and that you may think the better and more deliberately, listen to the psalm in which Two are described as God: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever; the sceptre of Thy kingdom is a sceptre of righteousness. Thou hast loved righteousness, and hated iniquity: therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee or made Thee His Christ.” Now, since He here speaks to God, and affirms that God is anointed by God, He must have affirmed that Two are God, by reason of the sceptre’s royal power. Accordingly, Isaiah also says to the Person of Christ: “The Sabaeans, men of stature, shall pass over to Thee; and they shall follow after Thee, bound in fetters; and they shall worship Thee, because God is in Thee: for Thou art our God, yet we knew it not; Thou art the God of Isreal.” For here too, by saying, “God is in Thee, and “Thou art God,” he sets forth Two who were God: (in the former expression in Thee, he means) in Christ, and (in the other he means) the Holy Ghost. That is a still grander statement which you will find expressly made in the Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” There was One “who was,” and there was another “with whom” He was. But I find in Scripture the name Lord also applied to them Both: “The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit Thou on my right hand.” And Isaiah says this: “Lord, who hath believed our report, and to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? ” Now he would most certainly have said Thine Arm, if he had not wished us to understand that the Father is Lord, and the Son also is Lord. A much more ancient testimony we have also in Genesis: “Then the Lord rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the Lord out of heaven.” Now, either deny that this is Scripture; or else (let me ask) what sort of man you are, that you do not think words ought to be taken and understood in the sense in which they are written, especially when they are not expressed in allegories and parables, but in determinate and simple declarations? If, indeed, you follow those who did not at the time endure the Lord when showing Himself to be the Son of God, because they would not believe Him to be the Lord, then (I ask you)call to mind along with them the passage where it is written, “I have said, Ye are gods, and ye are children of the Most High; ” and again, “God standeth in the congregation of gods; ” in order that, if the Scripture has not been afraid to designate as gods human beings, who have become sons of God by faith, you may be sure that the same Scripture has with greater propriety conferred the name of the Lord on the true and one-only Son of God. Very well! you say, I shall challenge you to preach from this day forth (and that, too, on the authority of these same Scriptures) two Gods and two Lords, consistently with your views. God forbid, (is my reply.) For we, who by the grace of God possess an insight into both the times and the occasions of the Sacred Writings, especially we who are followers of the Paraclete, not of human teachers, do indeed definitively declare that Two Beings are God, the Father and the Son, and, with the addition of the Holy Spirit, even Three, according to the principle of the divine economy, which introduces number, in order that the Father may not, as you perversely infer, be Himself believed to have been born and to have suffered, which it is not lawful to believe, forasmuch as it has not been so handed down. That there are, however, two Gods or two Lords, is a statement which at no time proceeds out of our mouth: not as if it were untrue that the Father is God, and the Son is God, and the Holy Ghost is God, and each is God; but because in earlier times Two were actually spoken of as God, and two as Lord, that when Christ should come He might be both acknowledged as God and designated as Lord, being the Son of Him who is both God and Lord. Now, if there were found in the Scriptures but one Personality of Him who is God and Lord, Christ would justly enough be inadmissible to the title of God and Lord: for (in the Scriptures) there was declared to be none other than One God and One Lord, and it must have followed that the Father should Himself seem to have come down (to earth), inasmuch as only One God and One Lord was ever read of (in the Scriptures), and His entire Economy would be involved in obscurity, which has been planned and arranged with so clear a foresight in His providential dispensation as matter for our faith. As soon, however, as Christ came, and was recognised by us as the very Being who had from the beginning caused plurality (in the Divine Economy), being the second from the Father, and with the Spirit the third, and Himself declaring and manifesting the Father more fully (than He had ever been before), the title of Him who is God and Lord was at once restored to the Unity (of the Divine Nature), even because the Gentiles would have to pass from the multitude of their idols to the One Only God, in order that a difference might be distinctly settled between the worshippers of One God and the votaries of polytheism. For it was only right that Christians should shine in the world as “children of light,” adoring and invoking Him who is the One God and Lord as “the light of the world.” Besides, if, from that perfect knowledge which assures us that the title of God and Lord is suitable both to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost, we were to invoke a plurality of gods and lords, we should quench our torches, and we should become less courageous to endure the martyr’s sufferings, from which an easy escape would everywhere lie open to us, as soon as we swore by a plurality of gods and lords, as sundry heretics do, who hold more gods than One. I will therefore not speak of gods at all, nor of lords, but I shall follow the apostle; so that if the Father and the Son, are alike to be invoked, I shall call the Father “God,” and invoke Jesus Christ as “Lord.” But when Christ alone (is mentioned), I shall be able to call Him “God,” as the same apostle says: “Of whom is Christ, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” For I should give the name of” sun” even to a sunbeam, considered in itself; but if I were mentioning the sun from which the ray emanates, I certainly should at once withdraw the name of sun from the mere beam. For although I make not two suns, still I shall reckon both the sun and its ray to be as much two things and two forms of one undivided substance, as God and His Word, as the Father and the Son.

Chapter XIV.-The Natural Invisibility of the Father, and the Visibility of the Son Witnessed in Many Passages of the Old Testament. Arguments of Their Distinctness, Thus Supplied.

Moreover, there comes to our aid, when we insist upon the Father and the Son as being Two, that regulating principle which has determined God to be invisible. When Moses in Egypt desired to see the face of the Lord, saying, “If therefore I have found grace in Thy sight, manifest Thyself unto me, that I may see Thee and know Thee,” God said, “Thou canst not see my face; for there shall no man see me, and live: ” in other words, he who sees me shall die. Now we find that God has been seen by many persons, and yet that no one who saw Him died (at the sight). The truth is, they saw God according to the faculties of men, but not in accordance with the full glory of the Godhead. For the patriarchs are said to have seen God (as Abraham and Jacob), and the prophets (as, for instance Isaiah and Ezekiel), and yet they did not die. Either, then, they ought to have died, since they had seen Him-for (the sentence runs), “No man shall see God, and live ; “or else if they saw God, and yet did not die, the Scripture is false in stating that God said, “If a man see my face, he shall not live.” Either way, the Scripture misleads us, when it makes God invisible, and when it produces Him to our sight. Now, then, He must be a different Being who was seen, because of one who was seen it could not be predicated that He is invisible. It will therefore follow, that by Him who is invisible we must understand the Father in the fulness of His majesty, while we recognise the Son as visible by reason of the dispensation of His derived existence; even as it is not permitted us to contemplate, the sun, in the full amount of his substance which is in the heavens, but we can only endure with our eyes a ray, by reason of the tempered condition of this portion which is projected from him to the earth. Here some one on the other side may be disposed to contend that the Son is also invisible as being the Word, and as being also the Spirit; and, while claiming one nature for the Father and the Son, to affirm that the Father is rather One and the Same Person with the Son. But the Scripture, as we have said, maintains their difference by the distinction it makes between the Visible and the Invisible. They then go on to argue to this effect, that if it was the Son who then spake to Moses, He must mean it of Himself that His face was visible to no one, because He was Himself indeed the invisible Father in the name of the Son. And by this means they will have it that the Visible and the Invisible are one and the same, just as the Father and the Son are the same; (and this they maintain) because in a preceding passage, before He had refused (the sight of) His face to Moses, the Scripture informs us that “the Lord spake face to face with Moses, even as a man speaketh unto his friend; ” just as Jacob also says, “I have seen God face to face.” Therefore the Visible and the Invisible are one and the same; and both being thus the same, it follows that He is invisible as the Father, and visible as the Son. As if the Scripture, according to our exposition of it, were inapplicable to the Son, when the Father is set aside in His own invisibility. We declare, however, that the Son also, considered in Himself (as the Son), is invisible, in that He is God, and the Word and Spirit of God; but that He was visible before the days of His flesh, in the way that He says to Aaron and Miriam, “And if there shall be a prophet amongst you, I will make myself known to him in a vision, and will speak to him in a dream; not as with Moses, with whom I shall speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, that is to say, in truth, and not enigmatically” that is to say, in image; as the apostle also expresses it, “Now we see through a glass, darkly (or enigmatically), but then face to face.” Since, therefore, He reserves to some future time His presence and speech face to face with Moses-a promise which was afterwards fulfilled in the retirement of the mount (of transfiguration), when as we read in the Gospel,” Moses appeared talking with Jesus” -it is evident that in early times it was always in a glass, (as it were, )and an enigma, in vision and dream, that God, I mean the Son of God, appeared-to the prophets and the patriarchs, as also to Moses indeed himself. And even if the Lord did possibly speak with him face to face, yet it was not as man that he could behold His face, unless indeed it was in a glass, (as it were, ) and by enigma. Besides, if the Lord so spake with Moses, that Moses actually discerned His face, eye to eye, how comes it to pass that immediately afterwards, on the same occasion, he desires to see His face, which he ought not to have desired, because he had already seen it? And how, in like manner, does the Lord also Say that His face cannot be seen, because He had shown it, if indeed He really had, (as our opponents suppose.) Or what is that fade of God, the sight of which is refused, if there was one which was visible to man? “I have seen God,” says Jacob, “face to face, and my life is preserved.” There ought to be some other face which kills if it be only seen. Well, then, was the Son visible? (Certainly not, ) although He was the face of God, except only in vision and dream, and in a glass and enigma, because the Word and Spirit (of God) cannot be seen except in an imaginary form. But, (they say, ) He calls the invisible Father His face. For who is the Father? Must He not be the face of the Son, by reason of that authority which He obtains as the begotten of the Father? For is there not a natural propriety in saying of some personage greater (than yourself), That man is my face; he gives me his countenance? “My Father,”says Christ, “is greater than I.” Therefore the Father must be the face of the Son. For what does the Scripture say? “The Spirit of His person is Christ the Lord.” As therefore Christ is the Spirit of the Father’s person, there is good reason why, in virtue indeed of the unity, the Spirit of Him to whose person He belonged-that is to say, the Father-pronounced Him to be His “face.” Now this, to be sure, is an astonishing thing, that the Father can be taken to be the face of the Son, when He is His head; for “the head of Christ is God.”

Chapter XV.-New Testament Passages Quoted. They Attest the Same Truth of the Son’s Visibility Contrasted with the Father’s Invisibility.

If I fail in resolving this article (of our faith) by passages which may admit of dispute out of the Old Testament, I will take out of the New Testament a confirmation of our view, that you may not straightway attribute to the Father every possible (relation and condition) which I ascribe to the Son. Behold, then, I find both in the Gospels and in the (writings of the) apostles a visible and an invisible God (revealed to us), under a manifest and personal distinction in the condition of both. There is a certain emphatic saying by John: “No man hath seen God at any time; ” meaning, of course, at any previous time But he has indeed taken away all question of time, by saying that God had never been seen. The apostle confirms this statement; for, speaking of God, he says, “Whom no man hath seen, nor can see; ” because the man indeed would die who should see Him. But the very same apostles testify that they had both seen and “handled” Christ. Now, if Christ is Himself both the Father and the Son, how can He be both the Visible and the Invisible? In order, however, to reconcile this diversity between the Visible and the Invisible, will not some one on the other side argue that the two statements are quite correct: that He was visible indeed in the flesh, but was invisible before His appearance in the flesh; so that He who as the Father was invisible before the flesh, is the same as the Son who was visible in the flesh? If, however, He is the same who was invisible before the incarnation, how comes it that He was actually seen in ancient times before (coming in) the flesh? And by parity of reasoning, if He is the same who was visible after (coming in) the flesh, how happens it that He is now declared to be invisible by the apostles? How, I repeat, can all this be, unless it be that He is one, who anciently was visible only in mystery and enigma, and became more clearly visible by His incarnation, even the Word who was also made flesh; whilst He is another whom no man has seen at any time, being none else than the Father, even Him to whom the Word belongs? Let us, in short, examine who it is whom the apostles saw. “That,” says John, “which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” Now the Word of life became flesh, and was heard, and was seen, and was handled, because He was flesh who, before He came in the flesh, was the “Word in the beginning with God” the Father, and not the Father with the Word. For although the Word was God, yet was He with God, because He is God of God; and being joined to the Father, is with the Father. “And we have seen His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father; ” that is, of course, (the glory) of the Son, even Him who was visible, and was glorified by the invisible Father. And therefore, inasmuch as he had said that the Word of God was God, in order that he might give no help to the presumption of the adversary, (which pretended) that he had seen the Father Himself and in order to draw a distinction between the invisible Father and the visible Son, he makes the additional assertion, ex abundanti as it were: “No man hath seen God at any time.” What God does he mean? The Word? But he has already said: “Him we have seen and heard, and our hands have handled the Word of life.” Well, (I must again ask, ) what God does he mean? It is of course the Father, with whom was the Word, the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, and has Himself declared Him. He was both heard and seen and, that He might not be supposed to be a phantom, was actually handled. Him, too, did Paul behold; but yet he saw not the Father. “Have I not,” he says, “seen Jesus Christ our Lord? ” Moreover, he expressly called Christ God, saying: “Of whom are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever.” He shows us also that the Son of God, which is the Word of God, is visible, because He who became flesh was called Christ. Of the Father, however, he says to Timothy: “Whom none among men hath seen, nor indeed can see; “and he accumulates the description in still ampler terms: “Who only hath immortality, and dwelleth in the light which no man can approach unto.” It was of Him, too, that he had said in a previous passage: “Now unto the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to the only God; ” so that we might apply even the contrary qualities to the Son Himself-mortality, accessibility-of whom the apostle testifies that “He died according to the Scriptures,” and that “He was seen by himself last of all,” -by means, of course, of the light which was accessible, although it was not without imperilling his sight that he experienced that light. A like danger to which also befell Peter, and John, and James, (who confronted not the same light) without risking the loss of their reason and mind; and if they, who were unable to endure the glory of the Son, had only seen the Father, they must have died then and there: “For no man shall see God, and live.” This being the case, it is evident that He was always seen from the beginning, who became visible in the end; and that He, (on the contrary, ) was not seen in the end who had never been visible from the beginning; and that accordingly there are two-the Visible and the Invisible. It was the Son, therefore, who was always seen, and the Son who always conversed with men, and the Son who has always worked by the authority and will of the Father; because “the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He seeth the Father do” -“do” that is, in His mind and thought. For the Father acts by mind and thought; whilst the Son, who is in the Father’s mind and thought, gives effect and form to what He sees. Thus all things were made by tile Son, and without Him was not anything made.


Chapter XXV.-The Paraclete, or Holy Ghost. He is Distinct from the Father and the Son as to Their Personal Existence. One and Inseparable from Them as to Their Divine Nature. Other Quotations Out of St. John’s Gospel.

What follows Philip’s question, and the Lord’s whole treatment of it, to the end of John’s Gospel, continues to furnish us with statements of the same kind, distinguishing the Father and the Son, with the properties of each. Then there is the Paraclete or Comforter, also, which He promises to pray for to the Father, and to send from heaven after He had ascended to the Father. He is called “another Comforter,” indeed; but in what way He is another we have already shown, “He shall receive of mine,” says Christ, just as Christ Himself received of the Father’s. Thus the connection of the Father in the Son, and of the Son in the Paraclete, produces three coherent Persons, who are yet distinct One from Another. These Three are, one essence, not one Person, as it is said, “I and my Father are One,” in respect of unity of substance not singularity of number. Run through the whole Gospel, and you will find that He whom you believe to be the Father (described as acting for the Father, although you, for your part, forsooth, suppose that “the Father, being the husbandman,” must surely have been on earth) is once more recognised by the Son as in heaven, when, “lifting up His eyes thereto,” He commended His disciples to the safe-keeping of the Father. We have, moreover, in that other Gospel a clear revelation, i.e. of the Son’s distinction from the Father, “My God, why hast Thou forsaken me? ” and again, (in the third Gospel, ) “Father, into Thy hands I commend my spirit.” But even if (we had not these passages, we meet with satisfactory evidence) after His resurrection and glorious victory over death. Now that all the restraint of His humiliation is taken away, He might, if possible, have shown Himself as the Father to so faithful a woman (as Mary Magdalene) when she approached to touch Him, out of love, not from curiosity, nor with Thomas’ incredulity. But not so; Jesus saith unto her, “Touch me not, for I am not yet ascended to my Father; but go to my brethren” (and even in this He proves Himself to be the Son; for if He had been the Father, He would have called them His children, (instead of His brethren), “and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and to my God and your God.” Now, does this mean, I ascend as the Father to the Father, and as God to God? Or as the Son to the Father, and as the Word to God? Wherefore also does this Gospel, at its very termination, intimate that these things were ever written, if it be not, to use its own words, “that ye might believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God? ” Whenever, therefore, you take any of the statements of this Gospel, and apply them to demonstrate the identity of the Father and the Son, supposing that they serve your views therein, you are contending against the definite purpose of the Gospel. For these things certainly are not written that you may believe that Jesus Christ is the Father, but the Son.


Chapter XXX.-How the Son Was Forsaken by the Father Upon the Cross. The True Meaning Thereof Fatal to Praxeas. So Too, the Resurrection of Christ, His Ascension, Session at the Father’s Right Hand, and Mission of the Holy Ghost.

However, if you persist in pushing your views further, I shall find means of answering you with greater stringency, and of meeting you with the exclamation of the Lord Himself, so as to challenge you with the question, What is your inquiry and reasoning about that? You have Him exclaiming in the midst of His passion: “My God, my God, why hast Thou forsaken me? ” Either, then, the Son suffered, being “forsaken” by the Father, and the Father consequently suffered nothing, inasmuch as He forsook the Son; or else, if it was the Father who suffered, then to what God was it that He addressed His cry? But this was the voice of flesh and soul, that is to say, of man-not of the Word and Spirit, that is to say, not of God; and it was uttered so as to prove the impassibility of God, who “forsook” His Son, so far as He handed over His human substance to the suffering of death. This verity the apostle also perceived, when he writes to this effect: “If the Father spared not His own Son.” This did Isaiah before him likewise perceive, when he declared: “And the Lord hath delivered Him up for our offences.” In this manner He “forsook” Him, in not sparing Him; “forsook” Him, in delivering Him up. In all other respects the Father did not forsake the Son, for it was into His Father’s hands that the Son commended His spirit. Indeed, after so commending it, He instantly died; and as the Spirit remained with the flesh, the flesh cannot undergo the full extent of death, i.e., in corruption and decay. For the Son, therefore, to die, amounted to His being forsaken by the Father. The Son, then, both dies and rises again, according to the Scriptures. It is the Son, too, who ascends to the heights of heaven, and also descends to the inner parts of the earth. “He sitteth at the Father’s right hand ” -not the Father at His own. He is seen by Stephen, at his martyrdom by stoning, still sitting at the right hand of God where He will continue to sit, until the Father shall make His enemies His footstool. He will come again on the clouds of heaven, just as He appeared when He ascended into heaven. Meanwhile He has received from the Father the promised gift, and has shed it forth, even the Holy Spirit-the Third Name in the Godhead, and the Third Degree of the Divine Majesty; the Declarer of the One Monarchy of God, but at the same time the Interpreter of the Economy, to every one who hears and receives the words of the new prophecy; and “the Leader into all truth,” such as is in the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Ghost, according to the mystery of the doctrine of Christ.

Chapter XXXI.-Retrograde Character of the Heresy of Praxeas. The Doctrine of the Blessed Trinity Constitutes the Great Difference Between Judaism and Christianity.

But, (this doctrine of yours bears a likeness) to the Jewish faith, of which this is the substance-so to believe in One God as to refuse to reckon the Son besides Him, and after the Son the Spirit. Now, what difference would there be between us and them, if there were not this distinction which you are for breaking down? What need would there be of the gospel, which is the substance of the New Covenant, laying down (as it does) that the Law anti the Prophets lasted until John the Baptist, if thenceforward the Father, the Son, and the Spirit are not both believed in as Three, and as making One Only God? God was pleased to renew His covenant with man in such a way as that His Unity might be believed in, after a new manner, through the Son and the Spirit, in order that God might now be known openly, in His proper Names and Persons, who in ancient times was not plainly understood, though declared through the Son and the Spirit. Away, then, with those “Antichrists who deny the Father and the Son.” For they deny the Father, when they say that He is the same as the Son; and they deny the Son, when they suppose Him to be the same as the Father, by assigning to Them things which are not Theirs, and taking away from Them things which are Theirs. But “whosoever shall confess that (Jesus) Christ is the Son of God” (not the Father), “God dwelleth in him, and he in God. ” We believe not the testimony of God in which He testifies to us of His Son. “He that hath not the Son, hath not life.” And that man has not the Son, who believes Him to be any other than the Son.