Ambrose selected works 6120
06120 St. Ambrose declares his desire that some angel would fly to him to purify him, as once the Seraph did to Isaiah—nay more, that Christ Himself would come to him, to the Emperor, and to his readers, and finally prays that Gratian and the rest of the faithful may be exalted by the power and spell of the Lord’s Cup, which he describes in mystic language.
132). Howbeit, now must I needs confess the Prophet Isaiah’s confession, which he makes before declaring the word of the Lord: “Woe is me, my heart is smitten, for I, a man of unclean lips, and living in the midst of a people of unclean lips, have seen the Lord of Sabaoth.”222 Now if Isaiah said “Woe is me,” who looked upon the Lord of Sabaoth, what shall I say of myself, who, being “a man of unclean lips,” am constrained to treat of the divine generation? How shall I break forth into speech of things whereof I am afraid, when David prays that a watch may be set over his mouth in the matter of things whereof he has knowledge?223 O that to me also one of the Seraphim would bring the burning coal from the celestial altar, taking it in the tongs of the two testaments, and with the fire thereof purge my unclean lips!
133. But forasmuch as then the Seraph came down in a vision to the Prophet, whilst Thou, O Lord, in revelation of the mystery hast come to us in the flesh,224 do Thou, not by any deputy, nor by any messenger, but Thou Thyself cleanse my conscience from my secret sins, that I too, erstwhile unclean, but now by Thy mercy made clean through faith, may sing in the words of David: “I will make music to Thee upon a harp, O God of Israel, my lips shall rejoice, in all my song to Thee, and so, too, shall my soul, whom Thou hast redeemed.”225
134. And so, O Lord, leaving them that slander and hate Thee, come unto us, sanctify the ears of our sovereign ruler, Gratian, and all besides into whose hands this little book shall come—and purge my ears, that no stains of the infidelity they have heard remain anywhere. Cleanse thoroughly, then, our ears, not with water of well, river, or rippling and purling brook, but with words cleansing like water, clearer than any water, and purer than any snow—even the words Thou hast spoken—“Though your sins be as scarlet, I will make them white as snow.”226
135. Moreover, there is a Cup, wherewith Thou dost use to purify the hidden chambers of the soul, a Cup not of the old order,227 nor filled from a common Vine,—a new Cup, brought down from heaven to earth,228 filled with wine pressed from the wondrous cluster, which hung in fleshly form upon the tree of the Cross, even as the grape hangs upon the Vine. From this Cluster, then, is the Wine that maketh glad the heart of man,229 uplifts the sorrowful, is fragrant with, pours into us, the ecstasy of faith, true devotion, and purity.
136. With this Wine, therefore, O Lord my God, cleanse the spiritual ears of our sovereign Emperor, to the end that, just as men, being uplifted with common wine, love rest and quietness, cast out the fear of death, have no feeling of injuries,230 seek not that which belongs to others, and forget their own; and so he, too, intoxicated with thy wine, may love peace, and, confident in the exultation of faith, may never know the death of unbelief, and may display loving patience, have no part in other men’s profanities,231 and hold the faith of more account even than kindred and children, as it is written: “Leave all that thou hast, and come, follow Me.”232
137. With this Wine, also, Lord Jesus, purify our senses, that we may adore Thee, and worship Thee, the Creator of things visible and invisible. Truly, Thou canst not fail of being Thyself invisible and good, Who hast given invisibility and goodness to the works of Thy Hands).
222 (Is 6,5, the Vulgate—Vae mihi, quia tacui, quia vir pollutus labiis ego sum, et in media papuli polluta labia habentis ego habito, et regem, Dominum exercituum vidi oculis meis; and the LXX.—w talaz egw oti katanenugmai (compuncto corde sum) oti anqrwpoz wn kai akaqarta ceilh ecwn …k. t. Is 50,50, kai ton basilea kurion sabawq xidov toiz ofqalmoiz mou." A.V. 1611—"Woe is me, for I am undone. …and mine eyes have seen the King, the Lord of Hosts.
223 (Ps 39,1-2 Ps 141,3-4,
224 St. Ambrose contrasts the appearance of the Seraph to Isaiah in a vision with our Lord’s appearance to men in everyday life, in the flesh, see Is 6,6-7, and 1Tm 3,16.
225 (Ps 71,22-23.
226 (Is 1,18,
227 i.e., not of the old Dispensation—not provided for in the Mosaic ritual; also, not belonging to the old Creation, but a pledge and premonition of the new (Ap 21,5).
228 Cf. S. Jn 6,32.
229 (Jg 9,13,
230 St. Ambrose seems to refer to the phenomena of narcosis rather than those of alcoholic inebriation).
231 Cf. 1Tm 5,22: mhde koinwnei amartiaiz allotriai".
232 S. Mt 19,21.
Twelve names of the Son of God are recounted, being distributed into three classes. These names are so many proofs of the eternity not only of the Son, but of the Father also. Furthermore, they are compared with the twelve stones in the High Priest’s breastplate, and their inseparability is shown by a new distribution of them. Returning to the comparison with the High Priest’s breastplate, the writer sets forth the beauty of the woven-work and the precious stones of the mystic raiment, and the hidden meaning of that division into woven-work and precious stones, which being done, he expounds the comparison drawn by him, showing that faith must be woven in with works, and adds a short summary of the same faith, as concerning the Son.
1). Enough hath been said, as I think, your sacred Majesty, in the book preceding to show that the Son of God is an eternal being, not diverse from the Father, begotten, not created: we have also proved, from passages of the Scriptures, that God’s true Son is God,1 and is declared so to be by the evident tokens of His Majesty.
2. Wherefore, albeit what hath already been set forth is plentiful even to overflowing for maintaining the Faith—seeing that the greatness of a river is mostly judged of from the manner in which its springs rise and flow forth—still, to the end that our belief may be the plainer to sight, the waters of our spring ought, methinks, to be parted off into three channels. There are, then, firstly, plain tokens declaring essential inherence in the Godhead; secondly, the expressions of the likeness of the Father and the Son; and lastly, those of the undoubtable unity of the Divine Majesty. Now of the first sort are the names “begetting,” “God,” “Son,” “The Word;”2 of the second, “brightness,” “expression,” “mirror,” “image;”3 and of the third, “wisdom,” “power,” “truth,” “life.”4
3. These tokens so declare the nature of the Son, that by them you may know both that the Father is eternal, and that the Son is not diverse from Him; for the source of generation is He Who is,5 and as begotten of the Eternal, He is God; coming forth from the Father, He is the Son;6 from God, He is the Word; He is the radiance of the Father’s glory, the expression of His substance,7 the counterpart of God,8 the image of His majesty; the Bounty of Him Who is bountiful, the Wisdom of Him Who is wise, the Power of the Mighty One, the Truth of Him Who is true,9 the Life of the Living One.10 In agreement, therefore, stand the attributes of Father and Son, that none may suppose any diversity, or doubt but that they are of one Majesty. For each and all of these names would we furnish examples of their use were we not constrained by a desire to maintain our discourse within bounds.
4. Of these twelve, as of twelve precious stones, is the pillar of our faith built up. For these are the precious stones—sardius, jasper, smaragd, chrysolite, and the rest,—woven into the robe of holy Aaron,11 even of him who bears the likeness of Christ,12 that is, of the true Priest; stones set in gold, and inscribed with the names of the sons of Israel, twelve stones close joined and fitting one into another, for if any should sunder or separate them, the whole fabric of the faith falls in ruins.
5. This, then, is the foundation of our faith—to know that the Son of God is begotten; if He be not begotten, neither is He the Son. Nor yet is it sufficient to call Him Son, unless you shall also distinguish Him as the Only-begotten Son. If He is a creature, He is not God; if He is not God, He is not the Life; if He is not the Life, then is He not the Truth.
6. The first three tokens, therefore, that is to say, the names “generation,” “Son,” “Only-begotten,” do show that the Son is of God originally and by virtue of His own nature.
7. The three that follow—to wit, the names “God,” “Life,” “Truth,” reveal His Power, whereby He hath laid the foundations of, and upheld, the created world. “For,” as Paul said, “in Him we live and move and have our being;”13 and therefore, in the first three the Son’s natural right,14 in the other three the unity of action subsisting between Father and Son is made manifest.
8. The Son of God is also called the “image” and “effulgence” and “expression” [of God], for these names have disclosed the Father’s incomprehensible and unsearchable Majesty dwelling in the Son, and the expression of His likeness in Him. These three names, then, as we see, refer to [the Son’s] likeness [to the Father].15
9. We have yet the operations of Power, Wisdom, and Justice left, wherewith, severally, to prove [the Son’s] eternity.16
10. This, then, is that robe, adorned with precious stones; this is the amice of the true Priest; this the bridal garment; here is the inspired weaver, who well knew how to weave that work. No common woven work is it, whereof the Lord spake by His Prophet: "Who gave to women their skill in weaving?’17 No common stones again, are they—stones, as we find them called, “of filling;”18 for all perfection depends on this condition, that there be nought lacking. They are stones joined together and set in gold—that is, of a spiritual kind; the joining of them by our minds and their setting in convincing argument. Finally Scripture teaches us how far from common are these stones, inasmuch as, whilst some brought one kind, and others another, of less precious offerings, these the devout princes brought, wearing them upon their shoulders, and made of them the “breastplate of judgment,” that is, a piece of woven work. Now we have a woven work, when faith and action go together.
11. Let none suppose me to be misguided, in that I made at first a threefold division, each part containing four, and afterwards a fourfold division, each part containing three terms. The beauty of a good thing pleases the more, if it be shown under various aspects. For those are good things, whereof the texture of the priestly robe was the token, that is to say, either the Law, or the Church, which latter hath made two garments for her spouse, as it is written19 —the one of action, the other of spirit, weaving together the threads of faith and works. Thus, in one place, as we read, she makes a groundwork of gold, and afterwards weaves thereon blue, and purple, with scarlet, and white. Again, [as we read] elsewhere, she first makes little flowerets of blue and other colours, and attaches gold, and there is made a single priestly robe, to the end that adornments of diverse grace and beauty, made up of the same bright colours, may gain fresh glory by diversity of arrangement.
12. Moreover (to complete our interpretation of these types), it is certain that by refined gold and silver are designated the oracles of the Lord, whereby our faith stands firm. “The oracles of the Lord are pure oracles, silver tried in the fire, refined of dross, purified seven times.”20 Now blue is like the air we breathe and draw in; purple, again, represents the appearance of water; scarlet signifies fire; and white linen, earth, for its origin is in the earth.21 Of these four elements, again, the human body is composed.22
13. Whether, then, you join to faith already present in the soul, bodily acts agreeing thereto; or acts come first, and faith be joined as their companion, presenting them to God—here is the robe of the minister of religion, here the priestly vestment.
14. Faith is profitable, therefore, when her brow is bright with a fair crown of good works.23 This faith—that I may set the matter forth shortly—is contained in the following principles, which cannot be overthrown. If the Son had His origin in nothing, He is not Son; if He is a creature, He is not the Creator; if He was made, He did not make all things; if He needs to learn, He hath no foreknowledge; if He is a receiver, He is not perfect; if He progress,24 He is not God. If He is unlike (the Father) He is not the (Father’s) image; if He is Son by grace, He is not such by nature;25 if He have no part in the Godhead, He hath it in Him to sin.26 “There is none good, but Godhead.”27
06201 The Arian argument from S. Mc 10,18, “There is none good but one, that is, God,” refuted by explanation of these words of Christ.
15). The objection I have now to face, your sacred Majesty, fills me with bewilderment, my soul and body faint at the thought that there should be men, or rather not men, but beings with the outward appearance of men, but inwardly full of brutish folly—who can, after receiving at the hands of the Lord benefits so many and so great, say that the Author of all good things is Himself not good.
16. It is written, say they, that “There is none good but God alone.” I acknowledge the Scripture—but there is no falsehood in the letter; would that there were none in the Arians’ exposition thereof. The written signs are guiltless, it is the meaning in which they are taken28 that is to blame. I acknowledge the words as the words of our Lord and Saviour—but let us bethink ourselves when, to whom, and with what comprehension He speaks.
17. The Son of God is certainly speaking as man, and speaking to a scribe,—to him, that is, who called the Son of God “Good Master,” but would not acknowledge Him as God. What he believes not, Christ further gives him to understand, to the end that he may believe in God’s Son not as a good master, but as the good God, for if, wheresoever the “One God” is named, the Son of God is never sundered from the fulness of that unity, how, when God alone is said to be good, can the Only-begotten be excluded from the fulness of Divine Goodness? The Arians must therefore either deny that the Son of God is God, or confess that God is good.
18. With divinely inspired comprehension, then, our Lord said, not “There is none good but the Father alone,” but “There is none good but God alone,” and “Father” is the proper name of Him Who begets. But the unity of God by no means excludes the Godhead of the Three Persons, and therefore it is His Nature that is extolled. Goodness, therefore, is of the nature of God, and in the nature of God, again, exists the Son of God—wherefore that which the predicate expresses belongs not to one single Person, but to the [complete] unity [of the Godhead].29
19. The Lord, then, doth not deny His goodness—He rebukes this sort of disciple. For when the scribe said, “Good Master,” the Lord answered, “Why callest thou Me good?”—which is to say, “It is not enough to call Him good, Whom thou believest not to be God.” Not such do I seek to be My disciples—men who rather consider My manhood and reckon Me a good master, than look to My Godhead and believe Me to be the good God."
06202 The goodness of the Son of God is proved from His works, namely, His benefits that He showed towards the people of Israel under the Old Covenant, and to Christians under the New. It is to one’s own interest to believe in the goodness of Him Who is one’s Lord and Judge. The Father’s testimony to the Son. No small number of the Jewish people bear witness to the Son; the Arians therefore are plainly worse than the Jews. The words of the Bride, declaring the same goodness of Christ.
20). Howbeit, I would not that the Son should rely on the mere prerogative of His nature and the claims of peculiar rights of His Majesty. Let us not call Him good, if He merit not the title; and if He merit not this by works, by acts of lovingkindness, let Him waive the right He enjoys by virtue of His nature, and be submitted to our judgment. He Who is to judge us disdains not to be brought to judgment, that He may be “justified in His saying, and clear when He is judged.”30
21. Is He then not good, Who hath shown me good things? Is He not good, Who when six hundred thousand of the people of the Jews fled before their pursuers, suddenly opened the tide of the Red Sea, an unbroken mass of waters?—so that the waves flowed round the faithful, and were walls to them, but poured back and overwhelmed the unbelievers.31
22. Is He not good, at Whose command the seas became firm ground for the feet of them that fled, and the rocks gave forth water for the thirsty?32 so that the handiwork of the true Creator might be known, when the fluid became solid, and the rock streamed with water? That we might acknowledge this as the handiwork of Christ, the Apostle said: “And that rock was Christ.”33
23. Is He not good, Who in the wilderness fed with bread from heaven such countless thousands of the people, lest any famine should assail them, without need of toil, in the enjoyment of rest?—so that, for the space of forty years, their raiment grew not old, nor were their shoes worn,34 a figure to the faithful of the Resurrection that was to come, showing that neither the glory of great deeds, nor the beauty of the power wherewith He hath clothed us, nor the stream of human life is made for nought?
24. Is He not good, Who exalted earth to heaven, so that, just as the bright companies of stars reflect His glory in the sky, as in a glass, so the choirs of apostles, martyrs, and priests, shining like glorious stars, might give light throughout the world.35
25. Not only, then, is He good, but He is more. He is a good Shepherd, not only for Himself, but to His sheep also, “for the good shepherd layeth down his life for his sheep.” Aye, He laid down His life to exalt ours—but it was in the power of His Godhead that He laid it down and took it again: “I have power to lay down My life, and I have power to take it. No man taketh it from Me, but I lay it down of Myself.”36
26. Thou seest His goodness, in that He laid it down of His own accord: thou seest His power, in that He took it again—dost thou deny His goodness, when He has said of Himself in the Gospel, “If I am good, why is thine eye evil”?37 Ungrateful wretch what doest thou? Dost thou deny His goodness, in Whom is thy hope of good things—if, indeed, thou believest this? Dost thou deny His goodness, Who hath given us what “eye hath not seen, nor ear heard?”38
27. It concerns my interest to believe Him to be good, for “It is a good thing to trust in the Lord.”39 It is to my interest to confess Him Lord, for it is written: “Give thanks unto the Lord, for He is good.”40
28. It is to my interest to esteem my Judge to be good, for the Lord is a righteous Judge to the house of Israel. If, then, the Son of God is Judge, surely, seeing that the Judge is the righteous God and the Son of God is Judge, [it follows that] He who is Judge and Son of God is the righteous God.41
29. But perchance thou believest not others, nor the Son. Hear, then, the Father saying: “My heart hath brought forth out of its depth the good Word.”42 The Word, then, is good—the Word, of Whom it is written: “And the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”43 If, therefore, the Word is good, and the Son is the Word of God, surely, though it displease the Arians, the Son of God is God. Let them now at least blush for shame.
30. The Jews used to say: “He is good.” Though some said: “He is not,” yet others said: “He is good,”—and ye do all deny His goodness.
31. He is good who forgives the sin of one man; is He not good Who has taken away the sin of the world? For it was of Him that it was said: “Behold the Lamb of God, behold Him Who taketh away the sin of the world.”44
32. But why do we doubt? The Church hath believed in His goodness all these ages, and hath confessed its faith in the saying: “Let Him kiss me with the kisses of His mouth; for thy breasts are better than wine;”45 and again: “And thy throat is like the goodliest wine.” Of His goodness, therefore. He nourisheth us with the breasts of the Law and Grace, soothing men’s sorrows with telling them of heavenly things; and do we, then, deny His goodness, when He is the manifestation of goodness, expressing in His Person the likeness of the Eternal Bounty, even as we showed above that it was written, that He is the spotless reflection and counterpart of that Bounty?46
06203 Forasmuch as God is One, the Son of God is God, good and true.
33). Yet what think ye, who deny the goodness and true Godhead of the Son of God, though it is written that there is no God but One?47 For although there be gods so-called, would you reckon Christ amongst them which are called gods, but are not, seeing that eternity is of His Essence, and that beside Him there is none other that is good and true God, forasmuch as God is in Him;48 whilst it follows from the very nature of the Father, that after Him there is no other true God, because God is One, neither confounding [the Persons of] the Father and Son, as the Sabellians do, nor, like the Arians, severing the Father and the Son. For the Father and the Son, as Father and Son, are distinct persons, but they admit no division of their Godhead.
The omnipotence of the Son of God, demonstrated on the authority of the Old and the New Testament.
34). Seeing, then, that the Son of God is true and good, surely He is Almighty God. Can there be yet any doubt on this point? We have already cited the place where it is read that “the Lord Almighty is His Name.”49 Because, then, the Son is Lord, and the Lord is Almighty, the Son of God is Almighty.
35. But hear also such a passage as you can build no doubts upon:50 “Behold, He cometh,” saith the Scripture, “with the clouds, and every eye shall see Him, and they which pierced Him, and all the tribes of the earth shall mourn because of Him. Yea, amen. I am Alpha and Omega, saith the Lord God, Who is, and Who was, and Who is to come, the Almighty.”51 Whom, I ask, did they pierce? For Whose coming hope we but the Son’s? Therefore, Christ is Almighty Lord, and God.
36. Hear another passage, your sacred Majesty,—hear the voice of Christ. “Thus saith the Lord Almighty: After His glory52 hath He sent me against the nations which have made spoil of you, forasmuch as he that toucheth you is as he that toucheth the pupil of His eye. For lo, I lay my hand upon them which despoiled you, and I will save you, and they shall be for a spoil, which made spoil of you, and they shall know that the Lord Almighty hath sent Me.” Plainly, He Who speaks is the Lord Almighty, and He Who hath sent is the Lord Almighty. By consequence, then, almighty power appertains both to the Father and to the Son; nevertheless, it is One Almighty God, for there is oneness of Majesty.
37. Moreover, that your most excellent Majesty may know that it is Christ which hath spoken as in the Gospel, so also in the prophet, He saith by the mouth of Isaiah, as though foreordaining the Gospel: “I Myself, Who spake, am come,”53 that is to say, I, Who spake in the Law, am present in the Gospel.
38. Elsewhere, again, He saith: “All things that the Father hath are Mine.”54 What meaneth He by “all things”? Clearly, not things created, for all these were made by the Son, but the things that the Father hath—that is to say, Eternity, Sovereignty, Godhead, which are His possession, as begotten of the Father. We cannot, then, doubt that He is Almighty, Who hath all things that the Father hath (for it is written: “All things that the Father hath are Mine”).
06205 Certain passages from Scripture, urged against the Omnipotence of Christ, are resolved; the writer is also at especial pains to show that Christ not seldom spoke in accordance with the affections of human nature.
39). Although it is written concerning God, “Blessed and only Potentate,”55 yet I have no misgiving that the Son of God is thereby severed from Him, seeing that the Scripture entitled God, not the Father by Himself, the “only Potentate.” The Father Himself also declares by the prophet, concerning Christ, that “I have set help upon one that is mighty.”56 It is not the Father alone, then, Who is the only Potentate; God the Son also is Potentate, for in the Father’s praise the Son is praised too.
40. Aye, let some one show what there is that the Son of God cannot do. Who was His helper, when He made the heavens,—Who, when He laid the foundations of the world?57 Had He any need of a helper to set men free, Who needed none in constituting58 angels and principalities?59
41. “It is written,” say they: “‘My Father, if it be possible, take away this cup from Me.’60 If, then, He is Almighty, how comes He to doubt of the possibility?” Which means that, because I have proved Him to be Almighty, I have proved Him unable to doubt of possibility.
42. The words, you say, are the words of Christ. True—consider, though, the occasion of His speaking them, and in what character He speaks. He hath taken upon Him the substance of man,61 and therewith its affections. Again, you find in the place above cited, that “He went forward a little further, and fell on His face, praying, and saying: Father, if it be possible.”62 Not as God, then, but as man, speaketh He, for could God be ignorant of the possibility or impossibility of aught? Or is anything impossible for God, when the Scripture saith: “For Thee nothing is impossible”?63
43. Of Whom, howbeit, does He doubt—of Himself, or of the Father? Of Him, surely, Who saith: “Take away from Me,”—being moved as man is moved to doubt. The prophet reckons nothing impossible with God. The prophet doubts not; think you that the Son doubts? Wilt thou put God lower than man? What—God hath doubts of His Father, and is fearful at the thought of death! Christ, then, is afraid—afraid, whilst Peter fears nothing. Peter saith: “I will lay down my life for Thy sake.”64 Christ saith: “My soul is troubled.”65
44. Both records are true, and it is equally natural that the person who is the less should not fear, as that He Who is the greater should endure this feeling, for the one has all a man’s ignorance of the might of death, whilst the other, as being God inhabiting a body, displays the weakness of the flesh, that the wickedness of those who deny the mystery of the Incarnation might have no excuse. Thus, then, hath He spoken, yet the Manichaean believed not;66 Valentinus denied, and Marcion judged Him to be a ghost.
45. But indeed He so far put Himself on a level with man, such as He showed Himself to be in the reality of His bodily frame, as to say, “Nevertheless, not as I will, but as Thou wilt,”67 though truly it is Christ’s especial power to will what the Father wills, even as it is His to do what the Father doeth.
46. Here, then, let there be an end of the objection which it is your custom to oppose to us, on the ground that the Lord said, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt;” and again, “For this cause I came down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him that sent Me.”68
06206 The passages of Scripture above cited are taken as an occasion for a digression, wherein our Lord’s freedom of action is proved from the ascription to the Spirit of such freedom, and from places where it is attributed to the Son.
47). Let us now, for the present, explain more fully why our Lord said, “If it be possible,” and so call a truce, as it were, while we show that He possessed freedom of will. Ye deny—so far are ye gone in the way of iniquity—that the Son of God had a free will. Moreover, it is your wont to detract from the Holy Spirit, though you cannot deny that it is written: “The Spirit doth breathe, where He will.”69 “Where He will,” saith the Scripture, not “where He is ordered.” If, then, the Spirit doth breathe where He will, cannot the Son do what He will? Why, it is the very same Son of God Who in His Gospel saith that the Spirit has power to breathe where He will. Doth the Son, therefore, confess the Spirit to be greater, in that He has power to do what is not permitted to Himself?
48. The Apostle also saith that “all is the work of one and the same Spirit, distributing to each according to His will.”70 “According to His will,” mark you—that is, according to the judgment of a free will, not in obedience to compulsion. Furthermore, the gifts distributed by the Spirit are no mean gifts, but such works as God is wont to do,—the gift of healing and of working deeds of power. While the Spirit, then, distributes as He will, the Son of God cannot set free whom He will. But hear Him speak when He does even as He will: “I have willed to do Thy will, O my God;”71 and again: “I will offer Thee a freewill offering.”72
49. The holy Apostle later knew that Jesus had it in His power to do as He would, and therefore, seeing Him walk upon the sea, said: “Lord, if it be Thou, bid me come to Thee over the waters.”73 Peter believed that if Christ commanded, the natural conditions could be changed, so that water might support human footsteps, and things discrepant be reduced to harmony and agreement. Peter asks of Christ to command, not to request: Christ requested not, but commanded, and it was done—and Arius denies it!
50. What indeed is there that the Father will have, but the Son will not, or that the Son will have, but the Father will not? “The Father quickeneth whom He will,” and the Son quickeneth whom He will, even as it is written.74 Tell me now whom the Son hath quickened, and the Father would not quicken. Since, however, the Son quickeneth whom He will, and the action [of Father and Son] is one, you see that not only doeth the Son the Father’s will, but the Father also doeth the Son’s. For what is quickening but quickening through the passion of Christ? But the passion of Christ is the Father’s will. Whom, therefore, the Son quickeneth, He quickeneth by the will of the Father; therefore their will is one.
51. Again, what was the will of the Father, but that Jesus should come into the world and cleanse us from our sins? Hear the words of the leper: “If Thou wilt, Thou canst make me clean.”75 Christ answered, “I will,” and straightway health, the effect, followed. See you not that the Son is master of His own will, and Christ’s will is the same as the Father’s. Indeed, seeing that He hath said, “All things that the Father hath are Mine,”76 nothing of a certainty being excepted, the Son hath the same will that the Father hath.
06207 The resolution of the difficulty set forth for consideration is again taken in hand. Christ truly and really took upon Him a human will and affections, the source of whatsoever was not in agreement with His Godhead, and which must be therefore referred to the fact that He was at the same time both God and an.
52). There is, therefore, unity of will where there is unity of working; for in God His will issues straightway in actual effect. But the will of God is one, and the human will another. Further, to show that life is the object of human will, because we fear death, whilst the passion of Christ depended on the Divine Will, that He should suffer for us, the Lord said, when Peter would have detained Him from suffering: “Thou savourest not of the things which be of God, but the things which be of men.”77
53. My will, therefore, He took to Himself, my grief. In confidence I call it grief, because I preach His Cross. Mine is the will which He called His own, for as man He bore my grief, as man He spake, and therefore said, “Not as I will, but as Thou wilt.” Mine was the grief, and mine the heaviness with which He bore it, for no man exults when at the point to die. With me and for me He suffers, for me He is sad, for me He is heavy. In my stead, therefore, and in me He grieved Who had no cause to grieve for Himself.
54. Not Thy wounds, but mine, hurt Thee, Lord Jesus; not Thy death, but our weakness, even as the Prophet saith: “For He is afflicted for our sakes”78 —and we, Lord, esteemed Thee afflicted, when Thou grievedst not for Thyself, but for me.
55. And what wonder if He grieved for all, Who wept for one? What wonder if, in the hour of death, He is heavy for all, Who wept when at the point to raise Lazarus from the dead? Then, indeed, He was moved by a loving sister’s tears, for they touched His human heart,—here by secret grief He brought it to pass that, even as His death made an end of death, and His stripes healed our scars, so also His sorrow took away our sorrow.79
56. As being man, therefore, He doubts; as man He is amazed. Neither His power nor His Godhead is amazed, but His soul; He is amazed by consequence of having taken human infirmity upon Him. Seeing, then, that He took upon Himself a soul He also took the affections of a soul,80 for God could not have been distressed or have died in respect of His being God. Finally, He cried: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?”81 As being man, therefore, He speaks, bearing with Him my terrors, for when we are in the midst of dangers we think ourself abandoned by God. As man, therefore, He is distressed, as man He weeps, as man He is crucified.
57. For so hath the Apostle Paul likewise said: “Because they have crucified the flesh of Christ.”82 And again the Apostle Peter saith: “Christ having suffered according to the flesh.”83 It was the flesh, therefore, that suffered; the Godhead above secure from death; to suffering His body yielded, after the law of human nature; can the Godhead die, then, if the soul cannot?" “Fear not them,” said our Lord, “which can kill the body, but cannot kill the soul.”84 If the soul, then, cannot be killed, how can the Godhead?
58. When we read, then, that the Lord of glory was crucified, let us not suppose that He was crucified as in His glory.85 It is because He Who is God is also man, God by virtue of His Divinity, and by taking upon Him of the flesh, the man Christ Jesus, that the Lord of glory is said to have been crucified; for, possessing both natures, that is, the human and the divine, He endured the Passion in His humanity, in order that without distinction He Who suffered should be called both Lord of glory and Son of man, even as it is written: “Who descended from heaven.”86
Ambrose selected works 6120