Ambrose selected works 6308

Chapter VIII.

06308 The prophecy of Christ’s Godhead and Manhood, contained in the verse of Isaiah just now cited, is unfolded, and its force in refuting various heresies demonstrated.

54). This beginning did Isaiah see, and therefore he says: “A Child is born, a Son is given to us,” as also did the Magi, and therefore worshipped they, when they saw the little One in the stable, and said: “A Child is born,” and, when they saw the star, declared, “A Son is given to us.” On the one hand, a gift from earth—on the other, a gift from heaven—and both are One Person, perfect in respect of each, without any changeableness in the Godhead, as without any taking away from the fulness of the Manhood. One Person did the Magi adore, to one and the same they offered their gifts, to show that He Who was seen in the stall was the very Lord of heaven.

55. Mc how the two verbs differ in their import: “A Child is born, a Son is given.” Though born of the Father, yet is He not born, but given to us, forasmuch as the Son is not for our sakes, but we for the Son’s. For indeed He was not born to us, being born before us, and the maker of all things created: nor is He now brought to life for the first time, Who was always, and was in the beginning;118 on the other hand, that which before-time was not is born to us. Again we find it thus recorded, how that the angel, when he spoke to the shepherds, said that He had been born: “Who is this day born to us a Saviour, Who is Christ the Lord, in the city of David.”119 To us, then, was born that which was not before—that is, a child of the Virgin, a body from Mary—for this was made after man had been created, whereas [the Godhead] was before us.

56. Some manuscripts read as follows: “A Child is born to us a Son is given to us;”120 that is to say, He, Who is Son of God, is born as Mary’s child for us, and given to us. As for the fact that He is “given,” listen to the prophet’s words: “And grant us Thy salvation.”121 But that which is above us is given: what is from heaven is given: even as indeed we read concerning the Spirit, that “the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, Who is given unto us.”122

57. But note how this passage is as water upon fire to a crowd of heresies. “A Child is born to us,” not to the Jews; “to us,” not to the Manichaeans; “to us,” not to the Marcionites. The prophet says “to us,” that is, to those who believe, not to unbelievers. And He indeed, in His pitifulness, was born for all, but it is the disloyalty of heretics that hath brought it to pass that the birth of Him Who was born for all should not profit all. For the sun is bidden to rise upon the good and the bad, but to them that see not there is no appearance of sunrise.

58. Even as the Child, then, is born not unto all, but unto the faithful: so the Son is given to the faithful and not to the unbelieving. He is given to us, not to the Photinians; for they affirm that the Son of God was not given unto us, but was born and first began to exist amongst us. To us is He given, not to the Sabellians, who will not hear of a Son being given, maintaining that Father and Son are one and the same. Unto us is He given, not unto the Arians, in whose judgment the Son was not given for salvation, but sent over subject and inferior, to whom, moreover, He is no “Counsellor,” inasmuch as they hold that He knows nought of the future, no Son, since they believe not in His eternity, though of the Word of God it is written: “That which was in the beginning;” and again: “In the beginning was the Word.”123 To return to the passage we set before us to discuss. “In the beginning,” saith the Scripture, “before He made the earth, before He made the deeps, before He brought forth the springs of water, before all the hills He begat Me.”124

Chapter IX.

The preceding quotation from Solomon’s Proverbs receives further explanation.

59). Perchance you will ask how I came to cite, as referring to the Incarnation of Christ, the place, “The Lord created Me,” seeing that the creation of the universe took place before the Incarnation of Christ? But consider that the use of holy Scripture is to speak of things to come as though already past, and to make intimation of the union of two natures, Godhead and Manhood, in Christ, lest any should deny either His Godhead or His Manhood.

60. In Isaiah, for example, you may read: “A Child is born unto us, and a Son is given unto us;” so here also [in the Proverbs] the prophet sets forth first the creation of the flesh, and joined thereto the declaration of the Godhead, that you might know that Christ is not two, but One, being both begotten of the Father before the worlds, and in the last times125 created of the Virgin. And thus the meaning is: I, Who am begotten before the worlds, am He Who was created of mortal woman, created for a set purpose.

61. Again, immediately before the declaration, “The Lord created Me,” He says, “I will tell of the things which are from eternity,” and before saying, “He begat,” He premised, “In the beginning, before He made the earth, before all hills.” In its extent, the preposition “before” reaches back into the past without end or limit, and so “Before Abraham was, I am,”126 clearly need not mean “after Adam,” just as “before the Morning Star”127 need not mean “after the angels.” But when He said “before,” He intended, not that He was included in any one’s existence, but that all things are included in His, for thus it is the custom of Holy Writ to show the eternity of God. Finally, in another passage you may read: “Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever the earth and the world were made, Thou art from everlasting to everlasting.”128

62. Before all created things, then, is the Son begotten; within all and for the good of all is He made; begotten of the Father, above the Law,129 brought forth of Mary, under the Law.130

Chapter X.

06310 Observations on the words of Jn the Baptist (John i. 30), which may be referred to divine fore-ordinance, but at any rate, as explained by the foregoing considerations, must be understood of the Incarnation. The precedence of Christ is mystically expounded, with reference to the history of Ruth.

63). But [say they] it is written: “After me cometh a Man, Who is made before me, because He was before me;”131 and so they argue: “See, He Who was aforetime is ‘made.’” Let us take the words by themselves. “After me cometh a Man.” He, then, Who came is a Man, and this is the Man Who “was made.” But the word “man” connotes sex, and sex is attributed to human nature, but never to the Godhead.

64. I might argue: The Man [Christ Jesus] was in pre-existence so far as His body was foreknown, though His power is from everlasting—for both the Church and the Saints were foreordained before the worlds began. But here I lay aside this argument, and urge that the being made concerns not the Godhead, but the nature of the Incarnation, even as Jn himself said: “This is He of Whom I said: After me cometh a Man, Who was made before me.”

65. The Scripture, then, having, as I showed above, discovered the twofold nature in Christ, that you might understand the presence of both Godhead and Manhood, here begins with the flesh; for it is the cutsom of Holy Writ to begin without fixed rule sometimes with the Godhead of Christ, and descend to the visible tokens of Incarnation; sometimes, on the other hand, to start from its humility, and rise to the glory of the Godhead, as oftentimes in the Prophets and Evangelists, and in St. Paul. Here, then, after this use, the writer begins with the Incarnation of our Lord, and then proclaims His Divinity, not to confound, but to distinguish, the human and the divine. But Arians, like Jew vintners,132 mix water with the wine, confounding the divine generation with the human, and ascribing to the majesty of God what is properly said only of the lowliness of the flesh.

66. I have no fears of a certain objection they are likely to put forward, namely, that in the words cited we have “a man”—for some have, “Who cometh after me.” But here, too, let them observe what precedes. “The Word,” it is said, “was made flesh.”133 Having said that the Word was made flesh, the Evangelist added no mention of man. We understand “man” there in the mention of “flesh,” and “flesh” by the mention of “man.” After the statement made, then, that “the Word was made flesh,” there was no need here to particularly mention “man,” whom he already intended by using the name “flesh.”

67. Later on, St. Jn uses the lamb, that “taketh away the sins of the world,” as an example; and to teach you plainly the Incarnation of Him, of Whom he had spoken before, he says: “This is He of Whom I said before: After me cometh a Man, Who is made before me,” to wit, of Whom I said that He was “made” as being man, not as being God. However, to show that it was He Who was before the worlds, and none other, that became flesh, lest we should suppose two Sons of God, he adds: “because He was before me.” If the words “was made” had referred to the divine generation, what need was there that the writer should add this, and repeat himself? But, having first said, with regard to the Incarnation only, “After me cometh a Man, Who is made before me,” he added: “because He was before me,” because it was needful to teach the eternity of [Christ’s] Godhead; and this is the reason why St. Jn acknowledged Christ’s priority, that He, Who is His own Father’s eternal Power, may be presented as on that account duly preferred.134

68. But the abounding activity of the spiritual understanding makes it a pleasing exercise to sally forth and drive into a corner the Arians, who will understand the term “made” in this passage, not of the manhood, but of the Godhead [of Christ]. What ground, indeed, is left for them to take their stand upon, when the Baptist has declared that “after me cometh One Who is made before me,” that is, Who, though in the course of earthly life He comes after me, yet is placed above the degree of my worth and grace, and Who has title to be worshipped as God. For the words “cometh after me” belong to an event in time, but “was before me” signify Christ’s eternity; and “is made before me” refer to His pre-eminence, forasmuch as, indeed, the mystery of the Incarnation is above human deserving.135

69. Again, St. Jn Baptist also taught in less weighty language what ideas they were he had combined, saying: “After me cometh a Man, Whose shoes I am not worthy to bear,” setting forth at least the more excellent dignity [of Christ], though not the eternity of His Divine Generation. Now these words are so fully intended of the Incarnation, that Scripture hath given us, in an earlier book, a human counterpart of the mystic sandal. For, by the Law, when a man died, the marriage bond with his wife was passed on to his brother, or other man next of kin, in order that the seed of the brother or next of kin might renew the life of the house, and thus it was that Ruth, though she was foreign-born, but yet had possessed a husband of the Jewish people, who had left a kinsman of near relation, being seen and loved of Boaz whilst gleaning and maintaining herself and her mother-in-law with that she gleaned, was yet not taken of Boaz to wife, until she had first loosed the shoe from [the foot of] him whose wife she ought, by the Law, to have become.136

1 Lat. “In procinctu,” which is primarily a military phrase, procinctus meaning “girding up” or “girdle,” the expression having reference to the girding on of armour for the battle. “Testamen tum facere in procinctu” means “to make one’s will on the eve of battle.” The expression passed into a proverb for readiness in general). E.g.clementiam in procinctu habere,” “to be ready to show mercy.” Here, however, St. Ambrose uses the phrase more in its original sense, with reference to the impending conflict of the Goths and Romans, in which Gratian was expecting to take part, though, as a matter of fact, the battle of Hadrianople had been fought, and Valens was dead, before he arrived on the scene of action.
2 (
Ac 17,28,
3 Meaning that Paul, gifted with a prophet’s insight into divine truth, recognized in these words of the heathen poet a testimony to God, and therefore had no scruples about citing them to this Athenian audience.
4 The Anakim, or “sons of Anak.” Cf. Dt 9,2.
5 The Valley of Rephaim. 2S 5,18).
6 (Is 13,22 — a passage referring to the desolation of Babylon In this verse of Isaiah the LXX. has “onokentaupoi” and “ecinoi” (onocentaurs and hedgehogs), the “sirens” (seirhne") coming in ver. 21b, in combination with “demons” (daimonia). The Vulgate has in 22 “ululoe” (screechowls) and “sirenes,” with “struthiones” (ostriches) and “pilosi” (hairy men) in 21b. A.V. has in 22 “wild beasts of the islands” and “dragons;” in 21b, “owls” (marg. “ostriches,” the Hebrew meaning “daughters of the owl”) and “satyrs.” R.V. in 22, “wolves” and “jackals;” in 21b, “ostriches” and “satyrs” (marg. “he-goats”). The “sirens” then appear to be jackals—though the ground of the comparison is hard to find—the “daughters of sparrows” are ostriches (the Greek name for which means, literally, “sparrow-camel.”
7 (Jr 50,39, LXX. (Jr 27,39) has “fugatepe" seirhnwn;” the Vulg. “struthiones;” A.V. “owls.” For the sirens, see Odyssey, XII. 39–54, 165–200.
8 Odyssey, XII. 178–180, 192–197.
9 (Rm 13,14—“Make not provision for the flesh, to fulfil the lusts thereof.”—A.V.
10 (1Co 9,27,
11 (Is 53,4 Mt 8,17,
12 (Ps 87,5. The R. V. renders “Yea of Zion it shall be said. This one and that one was born in her.” The verse is rather prophetic of the universality of Christ’s Church than of the Incarnation.
13 (He could not “be made” God if we use the Name “God” in its proper sense, but St. Ambrose probably had in his mind the sense which the Arians attached to the name, as applicable to the Son. According to them, it was a sort of “courtesy-title.”
14 (1Tm 2,5,
15 Cf. Anselm. “Cur Deus Homo?” I. 5; II. 6.
16 The Incarnation was a sacrament, being the outward visible sign of the divine love.
17 (Ps 18,7 Ps 18,14,
18 S. Lc 1,76).
19 (Ps 83,18.
20 (1Tm 6,16,
21 (Col 2,12,
22 (.
23 “Body”—in the orig. “templum.” Cf. 1Co 6,19.
24 S. Jn 1,14.
25 S. Jn 2,19.
26 S. Jn 5,21.
27 S. Lc 5,20.
28 That is, in respect of substance or natures though the Persons must be distinguished.
29 (1Tm 6,15,
30 (1Tm 6,13,
31 That is to say, God and Christ Jesus are united in the work of quickening.
32 (Ps 56,10).
33 (1Tm 6,13–16.
34 (Ps 32,1,
35 (1Tm 1,11,
36 (Ps 89,19.
37 (Sg 8,13,
38 (Ez 18,20,
39 “That is to say, immortality is not of the essential nature of an angel as it is of the essential Nature of God. For God’s existence is such that He necessarily exists, He cannot but exist; His existence is not derived from another, but is from the power of His essential Nature, or rather is that very Nature. Not so with the angel, whose existence is a gift of God, and so the angel’s existence is no part of the idea of an angel, but is a property which is, so to speak, added on from without and accessory to the conception of such a being. Hence, in so far as an angel’s existence issues not of the mere force of his essential properties, but only of the Creator’s Will, we may say that by virtue of the said Will, not by force of his own nature, he continues in existence, and so far is immortal, although in another sense immortality may be called a natural property of an angel, inasmuch as there is no created power whereby he may be destroyed, and nothing in him that renders him liable to be destroyed by God—nay rather, everything about him demands that, once he is created, he should be for ever preserved in being.”—H.
40 Hurter observes that St. Ambrose understands mortality in a wide sense, as including the capacity of any and every sort of change. Immortality, then, in accordance with this definition, would connote perfect absence of change. Hurter cites St. Bernard, §81 in Cant.: “Omnis mutatio quoedam mortis imitatio …Si tot mortes quot mutationes, ubi immortalitas?” and Plutarch, in Eusebius, Proepar. Ev. XI. 12. Plutarch’s view perhaps owed something to study of the reliques of Herachtus. Many fathers expounded 1Tm 6,16 on this definition of immortality as=immutability. This definition would exclude angels, who are naturally fallible (as the rebellion of Lucifer and the third part of the host of heaven proved)—or if they are now no longer fallible, they owe it not to their own natural constitution but to grace. In so far then as angels are mutable, whether for better or worse, they are not immortal.
41 Angels being by nature mutable, either for better or for worse, that is, capable of good or evil, and so of death, are de facto sinless, and hence need not, are not meet to be placed under, penal discipline. Or the meaning may be that the angelic nature was not created to be gradually taught in the way of holiness as human nature was.
42 (Qo 12,14, observes that Goal would not judge rational creatures, were they not capable of advance or retrogression, of becoming better or falling into degradation, and had, as matter of fact, advanced or fallen back.
43 The Arians regarded the Son as immortal de gratia; the Orthodox esteem Him immortal de jure, with true, absolute immortality.
44 i.e. Is Christ God in the true sense of the Name, or not?
45 S. Mt 10,24
46 (1Jn 1,5,
47 S. Jn 1,1 Jn 17,5 Jn 17,21.
48 S. Jn 16,32.
49 l.c. S. Jn 10,30.
50 (2Co 5,16,
51 S. Jn 8,16
52 S. Jn 1,18.
53 Greek exhghsato, “explained,” “expounded.” The Incarnation has taught us something about God and about man that we never knew before and never could have known by ourselves.
54 (Ph 2,7 Ga 4,4 Jn 1,2 cpd. with 1Jn 14
55 (Ps 88,4. See the R.V.
56 “Due” by His own and the Father’s Will. Some reference also, perhaps, to the preaching to the spirits in Hades, a necessary part of our Lord’s work and ministry. 1P 3,19.
57 (Ps 89,20. See ch. 2,p. 243.
58 (1P 3,19 Ac 2,24,
59 (1R 17,20 ff.
60 (2R 4,34,
61 (Rm 8,3, “in the likeness of sinful flesh,” not “in sinful flesh.” Ph 2,7 for the miracle referred to, see 2R 13,21).
62 (Ac 3,6 Ac 9,34,
63 See S. Mc 16,17-18.
64 S. Jn 11,41.
65 S. Lc 4,3.
66 (Rm 1,4,
67 (1Co 2,8,
68 S. Mc 1,13. Cf. Ep 1,21.
69 (Rm 1,3,
70 i.e. we are not to infer from the fact that the Word became flesh, that the Word is a created being. For that which becomes is already existing—that which is created did not exist before it was made.
71 (Ps 90,1, The R.V. runs: “Lord, thou hast been our refuge” (hast been, and still art).
72 (Ps 118,14, “becoming” is rather in us. It is we who have come into being, to find refuge and salvation in the Lord.
73 Lat. “conversus and salutem.
74 (1Co 1,30,
75 Note that it is Christ Himself Who is our justification, etc., not a certain course of life; in other words the saving power is not so much in the mere example of Christ’s life on earth, but primarily and necessarily in Himself, now seated in heaven at the Father’s right hand, interceding for us, and communicating His grace, especially through the sacraments.
76 Cf. .
77 (1Co 2,6 ff.
78 (1P 1,19,
79 S. ).
80 (2Co 3,6,
81 Tt 3,10.
82 (Rm 3,4,
83 Because generation is quite distinct from absolute creation.
84 (Ex 15,2,
85 (Ps 31,3,
86 (Is 25,4,
87 S. Jn 1,4. Observe that St. Ambrose follows a different punctuation to that of our Bible. St. Ambrose’s stopping is the same as that adopted by Westcott (Commentary on S. John) and by Westcott and Hort in their edition of the Creek text of the N.T.
88 (Ac 17,28,
89 Latin “substantia,” which here seems to be used in the sense of the Greek “upostasi"” The distinction of Persons without division of the Godhead is evidently what St. Ambrose here has in view.
90 Loc. cit.
91 S. Jn 3,21.
92 (Col 1,16, the Greek.
93 Or, “which are done in,” i.e. “in accordance with, under the impulse of, the Will of God.”
94 (Ep 2,10,
95 (Ps 122,7.
96 (Ps 104,24,
97 A thing may be said to be “created” relatively, as well as absolutely—i.e. it may be “created” when newly appointed for a certain purpose, as when men were “created” consuls, which did not mean that before the convening of the centuries they were absolutely non-existent.
98 (Pr 8,22,
99 (Col 1,16,
100 (He 2,10,
101 S. Jn 9,4. “In him” is, in our Bible, attached to the preceding verse.
102 S. Jn 9,5.
103 S. Mt 28,20.
104 S. Jn 8,25. St. Ambrose’s words: “Principium quod et looquor vobis.
105 (Col 1,18
106 Cf. Ep 4,15-16).
107 S. Jn 20,17.
108 “secundum incarnationem,” “as a result of the Incarnation.”
109 (Za 3,7,
110 S. Jn 14,6.
111 Cf. the “Te Deum,” ver. 17.
112 (Ps 25,4,
113 (Ps 139,24,
114 Cf. 1Co 7,29 and 1Co 7,34. It seems unwarrantable to suppose a reference to 2Co 11,2.
115 (1Co 8,9,
116 (1P 2,23 Ph 2,7,
117 (Is 9,6, Ambrose’ version is “Filius datus est nobis, cujus principium super humeros ejus.”
118 S. Jn 1,1.
119 S. Lc 2,11.
120 This is the right rendering. See Driver’s Life and Times of Isaiah, p. 30, note 2.
121 (Ps 85).
122 (Rm 5,5,
123 S. Jn 1,1-2.
124 (Pr 8,23 ff.
125 (1P 1,21 He 1,1-2 Ga 4,4,
126 S. Jn 8,58.
127 (Ps 110,3,
128 (Ps 90,2,
129 S. Mc 2,28.
130 (Ga 4,4,
131 S. Jn 1,30).
132 Cf. Athanasius, Third Oration Against the Arians, §35—“But should any man, noticing the divinity revealed in the action of the Word, deny the reality of the body, or marking the things peculiar to the body, deny the presence of the Word in flesh or judging from His human experiences and behaviour, conceive a low esteem of the Word, such a person, like the Jew vintner, mixing water with his wine, will hold the Cross a scandal, and, like a heathen philosopher, regard the preaching as folly—which is just the state of the ungodly followers of Arius.” Horace, Sat. I. 5, 3, 4—“inde Forum Appî, Differetum nautis, cauponibus atque malignis.
133 S. Jn 1,14.
134 The explanation of St. John Baptist’s words in the Fourth Gospel is to be found, indeed, in the same Gospel (i. 27) and in the other three Gospels. See Mt 3,11 Mc 1,7 Lc 3,16. In S. Jn 1,30, the Baptist says of Jesus Christ not merely “protero" mouhn” but “prwto"”—i.e. “first in relation to me” (and every other human being), “the principle of my very being.” The Arians understood the phrase as if the ordinary comparative, suitable for expressing the ordinary priority of human beings to each other, had been used.
135 Or the meaning may be understood by reference to the fact that in the Man Christ Jesus there was seen, and felt, grace, authority, and power such as was more than earthly, more than human. “Full of grace are Thy lips, because God hath blessed thee for ever.” So it was that He spake as never man spake, teaching with authority, and not as the scribes.
136 (.

70. The story is a simple one, but deep are its hidden meanings, for that which was done was the outward betokening of somewhat further. If indeed we should rack the sense so as to fit the letter exactly, we should almost find the words an occasion of a certain shame and horror, that we should regard them as intending and conveying the thought of common bodily intercourse; but it was the foreshadowing of One Who was to arise from Jewry—whence Christ was, after the flesh—Who should, with the seed of heavenly teaching, revive the seed of his dead kinsman, that is to say, the people, and to Whom the precepts of the Law, in their spiritual significance, assigned the sandal of marriage, for the espousals of the Church.

71. Moses was not the Bridegroom, for to him cometh the word, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot,”137 that he might give place to his Lord. Nor was Joshua, the son of Nun, the Bridegroom, for to him also it was told, saying, “Loose thy shoe from off thy foot,”138 lest, by reason of the likeness of his name, he should be thought the spouse of the Church. None other is the Bridegroom but Christ alone, of Whom St. Jn said: “He Who hath the bride is the Bridegroom.”139 They, therefore, loose their shoes, but His shoe cannot be loosed, even as St. Jn said: “I am not worthy to loose the latchet of His shoe.”140

72. Christ alone, then, is the Bridegroom to Whom the Church, His bride, comes from the nations, and gives herself in wedlock; aforetime poor and starving, but now rich with Christ’s harvest; gathering in the hidden bosom of her mind handfuls of the rich crop and gleanings of the Word, that so she may nourish with fresh food her who is worn out, bereaved by the death of her son, and starving, even the mother of the dead people,—leaving not the widow and destitute, whilst she seeks new children.

73. Christ, then, alone is the Bridegroom, grudging not even to the synagogue the sheaves of His harvest. Would that the synagogue had not of her own will shut herself out! She had sheaves that she might herself have gathered, but, her people being dead, she, like one bereaved by the death of her son, began to gather sheaves, whereby she might live, by the hand of the Church—the which sheaves they who come in joyfulness shall carry, even as it is written: “Yet surely shall they come with joy, bringing their sheaves with them.”141

74. Who, indeed, but Christ could dare to claim the Church as His bride, whom He alone, and none other, hath called from Libanus, saying: “Come hither from Libanus, my bride; come hither from Libanus”?142 Or of Whom else could the Church have said: “His throat is sweetness, and He is altogether desirable”?143 And seeing that we entered upon this discussion from speaking of the shoes of His feet,—to Whom else but the Word of God incarnate can those words apply? “His legs are pillars of marble, set upon bases of gold.”144 For Christ alone walks in the souls and makes His path in the minds of His saints, in which, as upon bases of gold and foundations of precious stone the heavenly Word has left His footprints ineffaceably impressed.

75. Clearly we see, then, that both the man and the type point to the mystery of the Incarnation).

Chapter XI.

06311 St. Ambrose returns to the main question, and shows that whenever Christ is said to have “been made” (or “become”), this must be understood with reference to His Incarnation, or to certain limitations. In this sense several passages of Scripture—especially of St. Paul—are expounded. The eternal Priesthood of Christ, prefigured in Melchizedek. Christ possesses not only likeness, but oneness with the Father.

76). When, therefore, Christ is said to have been “made,” to have “become,” the phrase relates, not to the substance of the Godhead, but often to the Incarnation—sometimes indeed to a particular office; for if you understand it of His Godhead, then God was made into an object of insult and derision inasmuch as it is written: “But thou hast rejected thy Christ,145 and brought Him to nought; thou hast driven Him to wander;” and again: “And He was made the derision of His neighbours.”146 Of His neighbours, mark you—not of them of His household, not of them who clave to Him, for “he who cleaveth to the Lord is one Spirit;”147 he who is neighbour doth not cleave to Him. Again, “He was made a derision,” because the Lord’s Cross is to Jews a stumbling-block, and to Greeks is foolishness:148 for to them that are wise He is, by that same Cross, made higher than the heavens, higher than angels, and is made the Mediator of the better covenant, even as He was Mediator of the former.

77. Mc how I repeat the phrase; so far am I from seeking to avoid it. Yet take notice in what sense He is “made.”

78. In the first place, “having made purification, He sitteth on the right hand of Majesty on high, being made so much better than the angels.”149 Now where purification is, there is a victim; where there is a victim, there is also a body; where a body is, there is oblation; where there is the office of oblation, there also is sacrifice made with suffering.

79. In the next place, He is the Mediator of a better covenant. But where there is testamentary disposition, the death of the testator must first come to pass,150 as it is written a little further on. Howbeit, the death is not the death of His eternal Godhead, but of His weak human frame.

80. Furthermore, we are taught how He is made “higher than the heavens.” “Unspotted,” saith the Scripture,151 “separate from sinners, and made higher than the heavens; not having daily need, as the priests have need, to offer a victim first for his own sins, and then for those of the people. For this He did by sacrificing Himself once and for all.” None is said to be made higher, save he who has in some respect been lower; Christ, then, is, by His sitting at the right hand of the Father, made higher in regard of that wherein, being made lower than the angels, He offered Himself to suffer.

81. Finally, the Apostle himself saith to the Philippians, that “being made in the likeness of man, and found in outward appearance as a man, He humbled Himself, being made obedient even unto death.”152 Mc that, in regard whereof He is “made,” He is made, the Apostle saith, in the likeness of man, not in respect of Divine Sovereignty, and He was made obedient unto death, so that He displayed the obedience proper to man, and obtained the kingdom appertaining of right to Godhead.

82. How many passages need we cite further in evidence that His “being made” must be understood with reference to His Incarnation, or to some particular dispensation? Now whatsoever is made, the same is also created, for “He spake and they were made; He gave also the word, and they were created.”153 “The Lord created me.” These words are spoken with regard to His Manhood; and we have also shown, in our First Book, that the word “created” appears to have reference to the Incarnation.

83. Again, the Apostle himself, by declaring that no worship is to be rendered to a created existence, has shown that the Son has not been created, but begotten, of God.154 At the same time he shows in other places what there was in Christ that was created, in order to make plain in what sense he has read in Solomon’s book: “The Lord created Me.”

84. Let us now review a whole passage155 in order. “Seeing, then, that the sons have parts of flesh and blood, He too likewise was made to have part in the same, to the end that by death He might overthrow him who had the power of death.”156 Who, then, is He Who would have us to be partakers in His own flesh and blood? Surely the Son of God. How, save by means of the flesh, was He made partaker with us,157 or by what, save by bodily death, brake He the chains of death? For Christ’s endurance of death was made the death of Death.158 This text, then, speaks of the Incarnation.

85. Let us see what follows: “For He did not indeed [straightway] put on Him the nature of angels, but that of Abraham’s seed. And thus was He able to be made like to His brethren in all things throughout, that He might become a compassionate and faithful Prince, a Priest unto God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people; for in that He Himself suffered He is able also to help them that are tempted. Wherefore, brethren most holy, ye who have each his share in a heavenly calling, look upon the Apostle and High Priest of our confession, Jesus, regard His faithfulness to His Creator, even as Moses was in his house.”159 These, then, are the Apostle’s words.

86. You see what it is in respect whereof the writer calls Him created.: “In so far as He took upon Him the seed of Abraham;” plainly asserting the begetting of a body. How, indeed, but in His body did He expiate the sins of the people? In what did He suffer, save in His body—even as we said above: “Christ having suffered in the flesh”? In what is He a priest, save in that which He took to Himself from the priestly nation?160

67. It is a priest’s duty to offer something, and, according to the Law, to enter into the holy places by means of blood; seeing, then, that God had rejected the blood of bulls and goats, this High Priest was indeed bound to make passage and entry into the holy of holies in heaven through His own blood, in order that He might be the everlasting propitiation for our sins. Priest and victim, then, are one; the priesthood and sacrifice are, however, exercised under the conditions of humanity, for He was led as a lamb to the slaughter, and He is a priest after the order of Melchizedek.161

88. Let no man, therefore, when he beholds an order of human establishment, contend that in it resides the claim of Divinity;162 for even that Melchizedek, by whose office Abraham offered sacrifice, the Church doth certainly not hold to be an angel (as some Jewish triflers do), but a holy man and priest of God, who, prefiguring our Lord,163 is described as “without father or mother, without history of his descent, without beginning and without end,”164 in order to show beforehand the coming into this world of the eternal Son of God, Who likewise was incarnate and then brought forth without any father, begotten as God without mother, and was without history of descent, for it is written: “His generation who shall declare?”165

89. This Melchizedek, then, have we received as a priest of God made upon the model of Christ, but the one we regard as the type, the other as the original. Now a type is a shadow of the truth, and we have accepted the royalty of the one in the name of a single city, but that of the other as shown in the reconciliation of the whole world; for it is written: “God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself;”166 that is to say, [in Christ was] eternal Godhead: or, if the Father is in the Son, even as the Son is in the Father, then Their unity in both nature167 and operation is plainly not denied.

90. But how, indeed, could our adversaries justly deny this, even if they would, when the Scripture saith: “But the Father, Who abideth in Me, even He doeth the works;” and “The works that I do, He Himself worketh”?168 Not “He also doeth the works,” but one should regard it as similarity rather than unity of work; in saying, “The things that I do, He Himself doeth,” the Apostle has left it clear that we ought to believe that the work of the Father and the work of the Son is one.

91. On the other hand, when He would have similarity, not unity, of works, to be understood, He said: “He that believeth in Me, the works which I do, shall he do also.”169 Skilfully inserting here the word “also,” He hath allowed us similarity, and yet hath not ascribed natural unity. One, therefore, is the work of the Father and the work of the Son, whether the Arians please so to think or not.

Ambrose selected works 6308