Ambrose selected works 6213
06213 The wicked and dishonourable opinions held by Arians, Sabellians, and Manichaeans as concerning their Judge are shortly refuted. Christ’s remonstrances regarding the rest of His adversaries being set forth, St. Ambrose expresses a hope of milder judgment for himself.
108). Let us proceed, then, with your accusations, and see how you gain the favour of your Judge. Speak now, speak, I say, and tell Him: “I consider Thee, O Christ, to be unlike Thy Father;” and He will answer: “Mark, if thou canst, mark, I say, and tell Me wherein thou holdest Me to differ.”
109. Say again: “I judge Thee to be a created being;” and Christ will reply: “If the witness of two men is true, oughtest thou not to have believed both Me and My Father, Who hath called Me His Son?”
110. Then you will say: “I deny Thy [perfect] goodness;” and He will answer: “Be it unto thee according to thy faith; so will I not be good to thee.”
111. “That Thou art Almighty, I hold not;” and He will answer, in turn: “Then can I not forgive thee thy sins.”
112. “Thou art a subject being.” Whereto He will reply: “Why, then, dost thou seek freedom and pardon of Him Whom thou thinkest to be subject as a slave?”
113. I see your accusation halt here. I press you not, forasmuch as I myself know my own sins. I grudge you not pardon, for I myself would obtain indulgence, but I would know the object of your prayers. Look, then, whilst I recite before the Judge your desires. I betray not your sins, but look to behold your prayers and wishes set forth in their order.
114. Speak, therefore, those desires, which all alike would have granted to them. “Lord, make me in the image of God.” Whereto He will answer: “In what image? The image which thou hast denied?”
115. “Make me incorruptible.” Surely His reply will be: “How can I make thee incorruptible, I, Whom thou callest a created being, and so wouldst make out to be corruptible? The dead shall rise purified from corruption—dost thou call Him corruptible Whom thou seest to be God?”
116. “Be good to me.” “Why dost thou ask what thou hast denied [to Me]? I would have had thee to be good, and I said ‘Be ye holy, for I Myself am holy,’165 and thou settest thyself to deny that I am good? Dost thou then look for forgiveness of sins? Nay, none can forgive sins, but God alone.166 Seeing, then, that to thee I am not the true and only God, I cannot by any means forgive thee thy sins.”
117. Thus let the followers of Arius and Photinus speak. “I deny Thy Godhead.” To whom the Lord will make answer: “‘The fool hath said in his heart: There is no God’167 Of whom, think you, is this said?—of Jew or Gentile, or of the devil. Whosoever he be of whom it is said, O disciple of Photinus, he is more to be borne with, who held his peace;168 thou, nevertheless, hast dared to lift up thy voice to utter it, that thou mightest be proved more foolish than the fool. Thou deniest My Godhead, whereas I said, ‘Ye are gods, and ye are all the children of the Most Highest?’169 And thou deniest Him to be God, Whose godlike works thou seest around thee.”
118. Let the Sabellian speak in his turn. “I consider Thee, by Thyself, to be at once Father and Son and Holy Spirit.” To whom the Lord: “Thou hearest neither the Father nor the Son. Is there any doubt on this matter? The Scripture itself teaches thee that it is the Father Who giveth over the judgment, and the Son Who judges.170 Thou hast not given ear to My words: ‘I am not alone, but I and the Father, Who sent Me.’”171
119. Now let the Manichaean have his word. “I hold that the devil is the creator of our flesh.” The Lord will answer him: “What, then, doest thou in the heavenly places? Depart, go thy way to thy creator. ‘My will is that they be with Me, whom my Father hath given Me.’ Thou, Manichaean, holdest thyself for a creature of the devil; hasten, then, to his abode, the place of fire and brimstone, where the fire thereof is not quenched, lest ever the punishment have an end.”
120. I set aside other heretical—not persons, but portents. What manner of judgment awaits them, what shall be the form of their sentence? To all these He will, indeed, reply, rather in sorrow than in anger: “O My people, what have I done unto thee, wherein have I vexed thee? Did I not bring thee up out of Egypt, and lead thee out of the house of bondage into liberty?”172
121. But it is not enough to have brought us out of Egypt into freedom, and to have saved us from the house of bondage: a greater boon than this, Thou hast given Thyself for us. Thou wilt say then: “Have I not borne all your sufferings?173 Have I not given My Body for you? Have I not sought death, which had no part in My Godhead, but was necessary for your redemption? Are these the thanks I am to receive? Is it this that My Blood hath gained, even as I spake in times past by the mouth of the prophet: ‘What profit is there in My Blood, for that I have gone down to corruption?’174 Is this the profit, that you should wickedly deny Me—you, for whom I endured those things?”
122. As for me, Lord Jesu, though I am conscious within myself of great sin, yet will I say: “I have not denied Thee; Thou mayest pardon the infirmity of my flesh. My transgression I confess; my sin I deny not.175 If Thou wilt Thou canst make me clean.176 For this saying, the leper obtained his request. Enter not, I pray, into judgment with Thy servant.177 I ask, not that Thou mayest judge, but that Thou mayest forgive.”
06214 The sentence of the Judge is set forth, the counterpleas of the opposers are considered, and the finality of the sentence, from which there is no appeal, proved.
123). What verdict do we look for from Christ? That do I know. Do I say, what verdict will He give? Nay, He hath already pronounced sentence. We have it in our hands. “Let all,” saith He, “honour the Son, even as they honour the Father. He that honoureth not the Son, honoureth not the Father, Who hath sent Him.”178
124. If the sentence please you not, appeal to the Father, cancel the judgment that the Father hath given. Say that He hath a Son Who is unlike Him. He will reply: “Then have I lied, I, Who said to the Son, ‘Let us make man in Our image and likeness.’”179
125. Tell the Father that He hath created the Son, and He will answer: “Why, then, hast thou worshipped One Whom thou thoughtest to be a created being?”
126. Tell Him that He hath begotten a Son Who is inferior to Himself, and He will reply: “Compare Us, and let Us see.”
127. Tell Him that you owed no credence to the Son, whereto He will answer: “Did I not say to thee, ‘This is My well-beloved Son, in Whom I am well pleased: hear ye Him’?”180 What mean these words “hear ye Him,” if not “Hear Him when He saith: ‘All things that the Father hath are Mine’”?181 This did the apostles hear, even as it is written: “And they fell upon their faces, and were greatly afraid.”182 If they who confessed Him fell to the earth, what shall they do who have denied Him? But Jesus laid His hand upon His apostles, and raised them up—you He will suffer to lie prone, that ye may see not the glory ye have denied.
128. Let us look to it, then, forasmuch as whom the Son condemneth, the Father condemneth also, and therefore let us honour the Son, even as we honour the Father, that by the Son we may be able to come to the Father.
06215 St. Ambrose deprecates any praise of his own merits: in any case, the Faith is sufficiently defended by the authoritative support of holy Scripture, to whose voice the Arians, stubborn as the Jews, are deaf. He prays that they may be moved to love the truth; meanwhile, they are to be avoided, as heretics and enemies of Christ.
129). These arguments, your Majesty, I have set forth, briefly and summarily, in the rough, rather than in any form of full explanation and exact order. If indeed the Arians regard them as imperfect and unfinished, I indeed confess that they are scarce even begun; if they think that there be any still to be brought forward, I allow that there be well-nigh all; for whereas the unbelievers are in uttermost need of arguments, the faithful have enough and to spare. Indeed, Peter’s single confession was abundant to warrant faith in Christ: “Thou art the Christ, the Son of the living God;”183 for it is enough to know His Divine Generation, without division or diminution, being neither derivation nor creation.184
130. This, indeed, is declared in the books of Holy Writ, one and all, and yet is still doubted by misbelievers: “For,” as it is written, “the heart of this people is become gross, and with their ears they have been dull of hearing, and their eyes have they darkened, lest ever they should see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand in their heart.”185 For, like the Jews, the Arians’ wont is to stop their ears, or make an uproar, as often as the Word of salvation is heard.
131. And what wonder, if unbelievers doubt the word of man, when they refuse to believe the Word of God? The Son of God, as you will find it written in the Gospel, said: “Father, glorify Thy Name,” and from heaven was heard the voice of the Father, saying: “I have both glorified it, and again will glorify.”186 These words the unbelievers heard, but believed not. The Son spake, the Father answered, and the Jews said: “A peal of thunder answered Him;” others said: “An angel spake to Him.”187
132. Paul, moreover, as it is written in the Ac of the Apostles,188 when by the Voice of Christ he received the call of grace, several companions journeying with him at the same time, alone said that he had heard Christ’s Voice. Thus, your sacred Majesty, he who believes, hears—and he hears, that he may believe, whilst he who believes not, hears not, nay, he will not, he cannot hear, lest he should believe!
133. As for me, indeed, would that they might have a will to hear, that they might believe—to hear with true love and meekness, as men seeking what is true, and not assailing all truth. For it is written that we pay no heed to “endless fables and genealogies, which do rather raise disputes than set forward the godly edification, which is in faith. But the aim of the charge is love from a pure heart, and a good conscience, and faith unfeigned, whence some have erred and betaken themselves to empty babbling, desirous of being teachers of the law, without understanding the words they say, nor the things whereof they speak with assurance.”189 In another place also the same Apostle saith: “But foolish and ignorant questionings do thou avoid.”190
134. Such men, who sow disputes—that is to say, heretics—the Apostle bids us leave alone. Of them he says in yet another place, that “certain shall depart from the faith, giving heed to deceitful spirits, and the doctrines of devils.”191
135. John, likewise, saith that heretics are Antichrists,192 plainly marking out the Arians. For this [Arian] heresy began to be after all other heresies, and hath gathered the poisons of all. As it is written of theAntichrist, that “he opened his mouth to blasphemy against God, to blaspheme His Name, and to make war with His saints,”193 so do they also dishonour the Son of God, and His martyrs have they not spared. Moreover, that which perchance Antichrist will not do, they have falsified the holy Scriptures. And thus he who saith that Jesus is not the Christ, the same is Antichrist; he who denies the Saviour of the world, denies Jesus; he who denies the Son, denies the Father also, for it is written; “Every one which denieth the Son, denieth the Father likewise.”194
06216 St. Ambrose assures Gratian of victory, declaring that it has been foretold in the prophecies of Ezekiel. This hope is further stayed upon the emperor’s piety, the former disasters being the punishment of Eastern heresy.195 The book doses with a prayer to God, that He will now show His mercy, and save the army, the land, and the sovereign of the faithful.
136). I Must no further detain your Majesty, in this season of preparation for war, and the achievement of victory over the Barbarians. Go forth, sheltered, indeed, under the shield of faith, and girt with the sword of the Spirit; go forth to the victory, promised of old time, and foretold in oracles given by God.
137. For Ezekiel, in those far-off days, already prophesied the minishing of our people, and the Gothic wars, saying: “Prophesy, therefore, Son of Man, and say: O Gog, thus saith the Lord—Shalt thou not, in that day when My people Israel shall be established to dwell in peace, rise up and come forth from thy place, from the far north, and many nations with thee, all riders upon horses, a great and mighty gathering, and the valour of many hosts? Yea, go up against my people Israel, as clouds to cover the land, in the last days.”196
138. That Gog is the Goth, whose coming forth we have already seen, and over whom victory in days to come is promised, according to the word of the Lord: “And they shall spoil them, who had been their despoilers, and plunder them, who had carried off their goods for a prey, saith the Lord. And it shall be in that day, that I will give to Gog”—that is, to the Goths—“a place that is famous, for Israel an high-heaped tomb of many men, of men who have made their way to the sea, and it shall reach round about, and close the mouth of the valley, and there [the house of Israel shall] overthrow Gog and all his multitude, and it shall be called the valley of the multitude of Gog: and the house of Israel shall overwhelm them, that the land may be cleansed.”197
139. Nor, furthermore, may we doubt, your sacred Majesty, that we, who have undertaken the contest with alien unbelief, shall enjoy the aid of the Catholic Faith that is strong in you. Plainly indeed the reason of God’s wrath has been already made manifest, so that belief in the Roman Empire was first overthrown, where faith in God gave way.198
140. No desire have I to recount the deaths, tortures, and banishments of confessors, the offices of the faithful made into presents for traitors.199 Have we not heard, from all along the border,—from Thrace, and through Dacia by the river, Moesia, and all Valeria of the Pannonians,—a mingled tumult of blasphemers preaching and barbarians invading? What profit could neighbours so bloodthirsty bring us, or how could the Roman State be safe with such defenders?200
141. Enough, yea, more than enough, Almighty God, have we now atoned for the deaths of confessors, the banishment of priests, and the guilt of wickedness so overweening, by our own blood, our own banishment—sufficiently plain is it that they, who have broken faith, cannot be safe. Turn again, O Lord, and set up the banners of Thy faith.
142. No military eagles, no flight of birds,201 here lead the van of our army, but Thy Name, Lord Jesus, and Thy worship. This is no land of unbelievers, but the land whose custom it is to send forth confessors—Italy; Italy, ofttimes tempted, but never drawn away; Italy, which your Majesty hath long defended, and now again rescued from the barbarian. No wavering mind in our emperor, but faith firm fixed.
143. Show forth now a plain sign of Thy Majesty, that he who believes Thee to be the true Lord of Hosts, and Captain of the armies of heaven; he who believes that Thou art the true Power and Wisdom of God, no being of time nor of creation, but even as it is written, the eternal Power and Divinity of God,202 may, upheld by the aid of thy Might Supreme, win the prize of victory for his Faith.
1 or “that God’s Son is true God.” “very God.”
2 S. Jn 1,14 Jn 1,18 He 1,5 Rm 9,5.
3 (He 1,3 Jn 14,9 Col 1,15,
4 (1Co 1,24 Jn 14,6 Jn 11,25,
5 i.e., o wn. Ex 3,14 (LXX).—kai eipen o eo" proz Mwushn, legwn Egw eimi o Wn). Cf. S. Jn 8,58 Jn 18,6 Ap 1,4 Ap 1,8 Ap 4,8.
6 S. Jn 8,42 Jn 16,27–8.
7 He 1,3). apangasma th" doxh" kai carakthr th" urostasew" auton. AEipostasi" is rendered “person” in the A.V. The R.V. 1881 has “effulgence of His glory and very image of His substance,” and in the margin “the impress of His substance.” The Son does not reproduce the person of the Father—otherwise there would be no distinction, but confusion, of Persons, but He does reproduce or represent the substance, or essence, of the Father—i.e., the logo" th" ousia" is the same for both Persons.
8 “speculum Dei”—lit. “mirror of God.”
9 (Jr 10,10 Jn 14,6 Jn 17,3 1Jn 5,20,
10 (Dt 5,26 Rm 14,11 Jn 11,25 Jn 5,26 1Jn 1,2 1Jn 5,20,
11 See . The precious stones set in the breastplate are named as follows:
12 Aaron the type of Christ the Priest. See He 4,15.
13 (Ac 17,28,
14 sc. to the name and title of God.
15 See He 1,3. “Splendor” is St. Ambrose’s rendering of apaugasma. Theodoret says: “The radiance” (or “effulgence”) “of a fire comes from it and accompanies it. The fire causes the radiance, but the radiance is inseparable from the fire. Also the radiance of the fire is of the same nature with it; so also is the Son of the same nature with the Father.” Theophylact—“The sun is never seen without his radiance, and we cannot think of a father without his child.” Delitzsch—“It is no nimbus around God that is here called His “glory.” but God’s own inconceivable. spiritual fire and brightness (die ubersinnliche geistige Feuer und Lichtnatur Gottes selber), which He, in order to reveal Himself to Himself, makes an object to Himself” (aus sich heraussetzt).
16 “The act of knowing and comprehending all things necessarily includes the expression of mind-work or wisdom, that is, the Word, and without this it cannot even be conceived of. Rightly, then, did the Fathers deduce the eternity of the Word from the eternity of the Father.”—Hurter, ad loc.
17 St. Ambrose’s rendering of this passage (Jb 38,36) agrees with the LXX.—ti" de edwke gunaixin ufasmoto" sofian, h poikiltikhn elisthmhn. The A.V. 1611 has: “Who hath put wisdom in the inward parts? or who hath given nnderstanding to the heart?” R.V. has “dark clouds” and “meteor” as marginal substitutes for “inward parts” and “heart.” Vulgate—Quis posuit in visceribus hominis sapientiant? vel quis dedit gallo intelligentiam?
18 (Ex 35,27). kai oi arconte" hnegkan tou" liqou" th" smaragdou kai tou" liqou" th" plhrwsew" ei" thn epwmida kai to logeion.— LXX). Lapides onycninos et gemmas ad superhumerale et rationale.—Vulg. “Stones to be set.”—A.V. & R.V. The LXX. gives the closest rendering of the Hebrew).
19 Proverbs 31,21 (22). St Ambrose appears to follow the LXX., whose rendering of the passage is different from the Vulgate, with which our English versions agree. With what follows in the text, cf. Ex 28,33-34, also Ex 28,5-6.
20 (Ps 12,6-7 Pr 30,5,
21 These colours entered into the fashioning of the High Priest’s Ephod (Ex 28,5, 6) and the Vail of the Tabernacle. Probably a little symbolism was attached to the ornaments of Ahasuerus’ palace of Susa, “where were white, green, and blue” (or violet) “hangings fastened with cords of fine linen and purple to silver rings and pillars of marble: the beds were of gold and silver upon a pavement of red and blue and white and black marble.” White and green might represent the earth, blue the air, purple the sea and water generally, in the curtains: whilst in the variegated marble pavement, red would naturally symbolize fire, blue the air, white water (as colourless when pure), black earth (the soil). Notice “the air we breathe,” etc.—“Aëris quem spiramus et cujus carpimus flatum.” Compare Virgil, Aeen. I. 387, 388.
22 This was supposed by some of the Ionic philosophers to be the explanation of perception. We perceived earth, they supposed, by reason of the earthly constituent of our organism.
23 S. .
24 i.e. if it is possible for Him to ascend to a higher plane of existence.
25 i.e. He is a son “by adoption,” as one of ourselves.
26 i.e. He may not have as yet actually sinned, but it is within the range of possibility for Him—He is, as Hurter expresses it in his note, “auctor malitioe si non actu, saltem potentia.”
27 S. Mc 10,18.
28 “Sensus in crimine.” The “sense of a passage” is not something in the passage itself so much as our understanding of it. In other words, the genitive after “sense” is objective, not possessive).
29 Lat.—“non quod singularitatis, sed quod unitatis est, proedicatur.” The Son is “in the nature of God” inasmuch as the eternal Fatherhood of God implies an Eternal Son—His eternal Love an eternal object of that Love.
30 (Ps 51,4,
31 “Hath shown me good things.”— Ps 13,6. For the passage of the Red Sea, vide Ex 14.
32 (Ex 17,6 Nb 20,8 Nb 20,11.
33 (1Co 10,4,
34 (Ex 16,12 ff.; Dt 8,3-4 Dt 29,5 Ps 78,24-25 Ps 105,40 Jn 6,31 1Co 10,3,
35 Cf. S. Mt 13,43 Da 12,3. The radiance of these heavenly choirs is the reflection of Him Who is the Light of the World, the True Light.—S. Jn 1,9 Jn 8,12 Jn 12,46 Ap 21,23 Ap 22,5).
36 S. Jn 10,11 Jn 10,17-18.
37 S. Mt 20,15 (the rendering in the Bible is slightly different).
38 (1Co 2,9 Is 64,4,
39 (Ps 118,8,
40 (Ps 118,1 Ps 136,1 Ps 106,1 Ps 107,1,
41 St. Ambrose’s syllogism appears to be: The Judge is the righteous God, the Son of God is the Judge; therefore, the Son of God is the righteous God.
42 (Ps 45,1,
43 S. Jn 1,1.
44 The reff. in §§30 and 31 are to S. Jn 7,12 and Jn 1,29.
45 Song of Solomon 1,1.
46 Song 7,9.
47 (1Co 8,4,
48 S. Jn 17,22-23.
49 Bk. I. ch. 1,
50 No doubts, because (1) the meaning of the passage is plain; (2) it is taken from an inspired Book.
51 (Ap 1,8,
52 The quotation is from Za 2,8 —“after His glory.” Lat.-“Post honorem.” LXX.—opisw doxh". Vulg.—“Post gloriam.” A.V.—“ After the glory.”
53 (Is 52,6, Vulg. agrees with St. Ambrose. The A. V. has—“They shall know in that day that I am He that doth speak: behold, it is I.” R.V. margin—“here I am.”
54 S. Jn 16,25.
55 (1Tm 5,15,
56 (Ps 89,20.
58 Cf. the Collect for the Feast of St. Michael and all Angels.
59 (Col 1,15-16,
60 S. Mt 26,39 ff.; S. Mt 24,35 ff.; Lc 22,41 ff.
61 i.e. human nature. Cf. “Athanasian” Creed, clause 31.
62 S. Mt 26,39 Mc 14,35.
63 (Jb 22,17).
64 S. Jn 13,37.
65 S. Jn 12,27.
66 The principle common to these and other like heretics (who ignored or misconstrued many passages of Scripture which plainly declare the completeness and truth of our Lord’s humanity) was that matter is inherently and by its very nature evil. Mani, there fore, and the rest were easily led to think shame of attributing to Christ a real, tangible, visible body. For the doctrines of Mani, see note on I. 57. Valentinus was a Gnostic, who lived at Rome (whither he came from Alexandria) between 140 and 160 a.d. Marcion became known as a heresiarch in the papacy of Eleuthe rius (177–190 a.d.). For the doctrines of Valentinus and Marcion, see Robertson’s Church History, Bk. I. ch. iv.
67 S. Mt 26,39.
68 S. Jn 6,38.
69 S. Jn 3,8. The same word in Greek at least, serves to denote “wind” and “spirit”—the invisible and yet sensible and real air, wind, or breath being taken as the best emblem of the spirit, which is known and its presence realized only by its effects Spiritus, “spirit,” primarily means “breath.”
70 (1Co 12,11,
71 (Ps 40,10,
72 (Ps 54,8,
73 S. Mt 14,28.
74 S. Jn 5,21).
75 S. Mt 8,2.
76 S. Jn 16,15.
77 S. Mt 16,23.
78 (Is 53,4,
79 It is a very beautiful doctrine of the Fathers that Christ submitted to the condition* and experiences of our life in order to restore and sanctify and endue them with the virtue of His merit. Hence Thomassini, after the Fathers, thus discourses in his treatise on the Incarnation: “The Fathers have been careful to attribute to the Word of God” (incarnate) “not only the physical parts—body and soul—out even the smallest and most particular things: grief, fear, tears; and all the emotions: conception, birth, babyhood; all the stages of life and growth: hunger, thirst, fatigue, and sadness, in order that a remedy might be applied at every place where sin had crept in, and that, as death had corrupted all, so upon all might the water of life be sprinkled.” Gregory of Nazianzus strikingly ob serves (Or. 37): “Perchance indeed He sleeps, in order to bless sleep: perchance, again, He is weary, in order to sanctify weariness: and perchance weeps, to give dignity to tears?” Hurter ad loc., who also cites Cyril of Alexandria on S. John xii. 27—“ You will find each and every human experience duly represented in Christ, and that the affections of the flesh were called out into energy, not that, as in us, they might gain the upper hand, but that, by the might of the Word dwelling in flesh, they might be tamed and kept within bounds, and our nature transformed into a better state.”
80 Such as Aristotle enumerates in the Ethics, II. ch. 4 (5).
81 (Ps 22,1 Mt 28,46 Mc 15,34,
82 (Ga 5,24,
83 (1P 4,1,
84 S. Mt 10,28.
85 (1Co 2,8).
86 S. Jn 3,13.
87 S. Jn 14,28.
88 S. Jn 16,28.
89 S. Jn 14,20.
90 S. Jn 14,31.
91 (Ps 22,6,
92 (Is 53,7,
93 (He 2,9,
94 (Ph 2,6-7,
95 (Ph 2,6-7,
96 (Ps 8,5-6,
97 (He 2,9,
98 S. Mt 10,24.
99 For if that were so, God might cease to be God.
100 (Col 2,9).
101 “In respect of age only does a father take precedence of his son amongst men, for in regard to generic nature the father is on a level with the son, and in other respects the son may even excel his father. But where the Persons are eternal, there is no difference constituted by age. Still, as St. Ambrose acutely remarks, the names ‘Father0’ and ‘Son0’ indicate indeed a distinction of Persons and mutual relations of those Persons, yet not diversity of nature—rather, in fact, suppose equality and unity of nature.”—Hurter in loc.
102 S. Jn 5,10.
103 loc. cit.
104 S. Jn 5,19.
105 (Ph 2,6, and in §62 I have rendered “rapinam” in accordance with Lightfoot’s rendering of the original “arpagmo".”
106 “Surely it is clear that the Son, in respect of His Godhead, is not inferior to the Father, for there is, in the Father and the Son, one and the same Godhead. Still, the Greek Fathers allow that the Father is not only greater than the Son in respect of the latter’s human nature, but also in regard to personal properties, or a certain ‘personal dignity0’—(ax wma upostatikon).”—Hurter in loc. Canon Mason, in his Faith of the Gospel, remarks that whilst it is quite right to speak of “God and His Son” or “God’s Son,” the converse language, “God and His Father,” “God’s Father,” is not right. Yet S. Ambrose says, “Dubitat de Patre Deus.” See §43.
107 (Gn 22,16,
108 (He 6,13-14).
109 (1Jn 3,2-3 Gn 18,4
110 S. Jn 8,56.
111 S. Jn 10,30.
112 That is to say, it does not follow, from the fact that the Son was sent, that He is inferior in nature.
113 S. Jn 5,23.
114 (Is 61,1, the Holy Scriptures frequently, in plain words, teach the equality of the Son with the Father, and the Son’s actual deeds likewise testify thereto, it is not permissible to call that truth in question on the strength of single phrase, which we are compelled to make use of, in speaking of God, by reason of the limitations of human language. For in speaking of God, and the things of God, we make use of terms which we employ in treating of created natures, and which on that account convey the notion of imperfection which is found only in such natures.”—Hurter in loc.
115 (Is 48,12,
116 (Is 47,13, hand also hath laid the foundation of the earth, and My right hand hath spanned the heavens.”—A.V.
117 (Is 48,15-16,
118 S. Jn 15,26.
119 S Jn 14,26).
120 S. Jn 6,51.
121 S. Jn 7,52.
122 S. Jn 17,19.
123 (Ga 4,4,
124 S. Lc 4,18 Is 61,1.
125 S. Jn 7,16.
126 “regarding Him as man.” In the original “secundum homi nem,” lit. “after the way, or manner, of man.” If the Jews had accepted Jesus Christ’s teachings as divine, they would not have questioned it. But they acted as though they were confronted with one who was no more than man, and whose authority therefore was properly liable to be called in question.
127 Ba 3,36 ff.
128 S. Jn 7,18.
129 “In these words attention is called to the Unity of Nature (or Substance) in distinct Persons, for in the very act of speaking arid teaching, the Son shows that He is a Person, but He Who speaks not of Himself, but as the Father hath taught Him, shows that He is distinct from the Father, and yet He has, with the Father, one and the same doctrine, and therefore one and the same nature; for, in God. being and knowing are one and the same.”—Hurter.
130 S. Jn 17,24.
131 (Ph 2,11,
132 (Col 1,19 Col 2,9,
133 S. Jn 17,1).
134 (Ph 2,7-8,
135 (Dt 6,13,
136 (1Th 3,11,
137 The act of direction is one and, correspondingly, the verb “direct” is, in the Latin and the Greek, put in the singular number
138 (2Th 2,15-16,
139 S. Lc 2,51.
140 (Ps 95,6. St. Ambrose follows the LXX).
141 (2Co 5,21 Ga 3,13,
142 S. Jn 1,29 Jn 1,36 Jn 15,1 1Co 10,4.
143 S. Mc 10,45 Jn 13,4-5 Ps 86,16 Ps 116,14 Lc 1,38.
144 S. Mt 24,36. On this place Hurter observes: “We must certainly believe that Christ, as man, knew, through His human understanding, the day and the hour of judgment—though not by virtue of the natural power of that human understanding. Accordingly, unless we are without sufficient reason to charge the holy Doctor with erroneous views, these words must be explained as meaning that Christ behaved Himself as though He knew not the day of judgment, and as though He were a servant, though in reality He was not a servant but the Son of God. And truly Christ did ‘for my sake0’—i.e. in order to set me an example—conceal many titles and powers which He really possessed: thus, for thirty years He did no miracle.” Cf. Bk. V. §53. “He feigns ignorance, that He may make the ignorant wise.”
145 See S. Mt 24,22 Mt 24,29 Ps 96,13 Ps 98,10.
146 (Dt 21,23 Ga 3,13,
147 This it is that has constituted the “offence of the Cross.”— Ga 5,11 1Co 1,22.
148 i.e. the sorrows met with duriug our passage through the world, by reason of human unkindness. Or perhaps the possessive adjective may be taken as equivalent to a subj. genitive, and we should render by “the wrong that thou hast done.”
149 (2Co 12,9 2Co 13,4 1P 2,24 1P 4,13,
150 S. Mt 27,51.
151 S. Lc 23,43.
152 S. Jn 20,11-12.
153 S. Mt 4,24.
154 S. Jn 8,29 Jn 14,12.
155 (Rm 3,30,
156 S. Jn 5,22.
157 (Ps 110,1,
158 S. Mt 26,64.
159 i.e. to the risen Christ. Ep 1,20.
160 St. Ambrose’s words are: “In hoc sum natus.” It is possible that St. Ambrose understands “in hoc” as meaning “wde,” “here;” sc. “at God’s right hand.”
161 (Col 3,2,
162 S. Jn 6,44).
163 This prerogative—viz. of sitting at the right hand of the Father—in itself is sufficient to exclude any dishonourable suspicion that the Son is a subject and servant. (Hurter).
164 (Is 6,3,
165 (Lv 19,2).
166 S. Mark. 2,7.
167 (Ps 14,1 Ps 53,1, words mean, not so much that man says “There is no God” because he fool, because he is want ing in intelligence, but rather that when man has left off to have himself wisely and to do good—i. foolishly, that is to say, wickedly—it is because he has said in his heart, “There is no God.”
168 The “fool” (i.e. wicked man) has only said in his heart, secretly, “No God”—he has not ventilated his atheism.
169 (Ps 82,6 S. Jn 10,34 ff.
170 S. Jn 5,22.
171 S. Jn 8,16 Jn 16,32.
172 (Mi 6,3 Ex 20,2,
173 (Is 53,4,
174 (Ps 30,9,
175 (Ps 32,5 Ps 51,3.
176 S. Mt 8,2.
177 (Ps 143,2,
178 S. Jn 5,23.
179 (Gn 1,26).
180 S. Mt 17,5.
181 S. Jn 16,15 Jn 17,10.
182 S. Mt 17,6.
183 S. Mt 16,16 Mc 8,30. Cf. Peter’s other confession, S. Jn 6,69, and Martha’s confession in S. Jn 11,27.
184 “Without division or diminution,” i.e. the generation of the Son entails no division or partition of the Godhead, still less any diminution of it. The Father is none the less God). His Godhead loses nothing by His begetting His Eternal Son. Some manuscripts have “demutatam” instead of “deminutam” here—i.e. “changed” for “diminished.” Certainly the begetting of the Son can make no change whatever in the Being of the Father, for the Divine Generation is “from everlasting to everlasting,” and is necessarily implied in the very Fatherhood, the personal essence of the Father. Hurter quotes St. Hilary, De Trin. 6, 10. “The Church knows of no apportionment made to the Son, but knows Him as perfect God of perfect God, as One begotten of One, not shorn off from Him, but born: she knows the Nativity to entail no diminution of Him Who begets, nor weakness in Him Who is born.” The fact is a spiritual relation, metaphysical in the highest sense, transcending our intelligence, and only to be apprehended by faith, simply as a fact—as the arch, or principle, which is sufficient for us. The “how” we must wait to have revealed to us hereafter, if we shall ever be able to receive it.
185 (Is 6,10,
186 S. Jn 12,28.
187 S. Jn 12,29.
188 (Ac 22,9).
189 (1Tm 1,4 ff.
190 (2Tm 2,23,
191 (1Tm 4,1,
192 (1Jn 2,18 ff.
193 (Ap 13,6,
194 (1Jn 2,23,
195 The disasters here alluded to are the rout of the Roman army, in 378 a.d., at Hadrianople, and the miserable death of the Emperor Valens, who took refuge in a hut, which was surrounded and fired by the Goths, the emperor perishing in the flames. This reverse was regarded by the orthodox as a judgment upon the Arianism of Valens and others in high places.
196 (Ez 38,14 ff.
197 (Ez 39,10 ff.
198 The success of the Goths at Hadrianople encouraged the northern barbarians to fresh invasions of the empire, within which they from now began to form permanent lodgments, and it correspond ingly discouraged the subjects of the empire, and sapped the old belief—a legacy from paganism—in the fortune of Rome.
199 Orthodox bishops and priests were expelled from their sees and offices to make room for “betrayers of the faith,” i.e. men who had apostatized to Arianism. The mingled tumult of blasphemy and foreign onslaughts is a description of the condition of the eastern provinces of the empire, where Arianism was rampant, and all was overrun by the Goths. The latter was regarded by some as the result of the former. Thus St. Jerome: “Our sins are the strength of the barbarians, our vices bring defeat upon the arms of Rome.”—H. The provinces here mentioned lay along the right bank of the Danube, and took in what is now Lower Hungary, Servia, and Bulgaria. The result of the disaster of Hadrianople was to put all these countries in the power of the Goths.
200 The Goths had been driven in upon the Roman frontiers by the inroads of the Huns, who expelled them from their former habitations in S. & S. W. Russia. A treaty had been made between them and the Emperor Valens, who agreed to take them under his protection, but the bad faith with which the Goths soon found themselves treated led to hostilities, and so to the great overthrow at Hadrianople in 378.
201 No auguries—which were taken by observing the flight of birds, as omens were by noting their voices. These observances of course disappeared from the Roman army as soon as the empire became Christian. In saying that the Name of the Saviour leads the troops to war, St. Ambrose probably alludes to the Labarum or banner emblazoned with the monogram which is composed of the two first letters of the Name Criosto".
202 (1Co 1,24,
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