Ambrose selected works 6000
On the eve of setting out for the East, to aid his uncle Valens in repelling a Gothic invasion, Gratian, the Emperor of the West, requested St. Ambrose to write him a treatise in proof of the Divinity of Jesus Christ. Gratian’s object in making this request was to secure some sort of preservative against the corrupting influence of Arianism, which at that time (a.d. 378) had gained the upper hand of Orthodoxy in the Eastern provinces of the Empire, owing to its establishment at the Imperial Court. In compliance with Gratian’s wish, the Bishop of Milan composed a treatise, which now forms the first two Books of the De Fide. With this work the Emperor was so much pleased that on his return from the East, after the death of Valens at Hadrianople, he wrote to St. Ambrose, begging for a fresh copy of the treatise, and further, for its enlargement by the addition of a discourse on the Divinity of the Holy Spirit. The original treatise was, indeed, enlarged by St. Ambrose in 379, but the additional Books dealt, not with the Divinity of the Holy Spirit, but rather with new objections raised by the Arian teachers, and points which had either been passed over or not fully discussed already. In this way St. Ambrose’s Exposition was brought into its present form.
The object of the Exposition is, as has already been indicated, to prove the Divinity of Jesus Christ, and His co-eternity, co-equality, and consubstantiality, as God the Son, with God the Father. This the author does by constant appeal to the Scriptures, both of the Old and of the New Testament, which the Arians had in many cases forced into the mould of false interpretation to make them fit their doctrine.
Besides the title of De Fide, that of De Trinitate was one by which this treatise was largely known in after ages; it is certain, though, that the former was that assigned by St. Ambrose himself).
The notes to the first four books of the De Fide have in some instances been taken over from those in Father Hurter’s Edition of the treatise (Innsbruck: Wagner), which has been used in preparing the translation of these books. These notes are distinguished by the letter "H." placed at the end.
The citations from Scripture embodied in the text have been translated as they stood in the original. This will account for any divergence from the renderings in the English Bible and Prayer-book, whilst any agreement may be set down to reminiscences of the more familiar versions. It was thought best to adopt this treatment of St. Ambrose’s citations, inasmuch as the divergences are worth noticing, and indeed, in some cases, the argument rather turns upon them. The references are, throughout, made to chapters and verses in the English Bible, and not to the Vulgate, unless especially stated so to be.
The Prefaces and Summaries of Contents are based on those in Father Hurter’s Edition).
The author praises Gratian’s zeal for instruction in the Faith, and speaks lowly of his own merits. Taught of God Himself, the Emperor stands in no need of human instruction; yet this his devoutness prepares the way to victory. The task appointed to the author is difficult: in the accomplishment whereof he will be guided not so much by reason and argument as by authority, especially that of the Nicene Council.
1). The Queen of the South, as we read in the Book of the Kings, came to hear the wisdom of Solomon.1 Likewise King Hiram sent to Solomon that he might prove him.2 So also your sacred Majesty, following these examples of old time, has decreed to hear my confession of faith. But I am no Solomon, that you should wonder at my wisdom, and your Majesty is not the sovereign of a single people; it is the Augustus, ruler of the whole world, that has commanded the setting forth of the Faith in a book, not for your instruction, but for your approval.
2. For why, august Emperor, should your Majesty learn that Faith which, from your earliest childhood, you have ever devoutly and lovingly kept? “Before I formed thee in thy mother’s belly I knew thee,” saith the Scripture, “and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee.”3 Sanctification, therefore, cometh not of tradition, but of inspiration; therefore keep watch over the gifts of God. For that which no man hath taught you, God hath surely given and inspired.
3. Your sacred Majesty, being about to go forth to war, requires of me a book, expounding the Faith, since your Majesty knows that victories are gained more by faith in the commander, than by valour in the soldiers. For Abraham led into battle three hundred and eighteen men,4 and brought home the spoils of countless foes; and having, by the power of that which was the sign of our Lord’s Cross and Name,5 overcome the might of five kings and conquering hosts, he both avenged his neighbour and gained victory and the ransom of his brother’s son. So also Joshua the son of Nun, when he could not prevail against the enemy with the might of all his army,6 overcame by sound of seven sacred trumpets, in the place where he saw and knew the Captain of the heavenly host.7 For victory, then, your Majesty makes ready, being Christ’s loyal servant and defender of the Faith, which you would have me set forth in writing.
4. Truly, I would rather take upon me the duty of exhortation to keep the Faith, than that of disputing thereon; for the former means devout confession, whereas the latter is liable to rash presumption. Howbeit, forasmuch as your Majesty has no need of exhortation, whilst I may not pray to be excused from the duty of loyalty, I will take in hand a bold enterprise, yet modestly withal, not so much reasoning and disputing concerning the Faith as gathering together a multitude of witness.8
5. Of the Ac of Councils, I shall let that one be my chief guide which three hundred and eighteen priests, appointed, as it were, after the judgment of Abraham,9 made (so to speak) a trophy raised to proclaim their victory over the infidel throughout the world, prevailing by that courage of the Faith, wherein all agreed. Verily, as it seems to me, one may herein see the hand of God, forasmuch as the same number is our authority in the Councils of the Faith, and an example of loyalty in the records of old.
06101 The author distinguishes the faith from the errors of Pagans,10 Jews, and Heretics, and after explaining the significance of the names “God” and “Lord,” shows clearly the difference of Persons in Unity of Essence.11 In dividing the Essence, the Arians not only bring in the doctrine of three Gods, but even overthrow the dominion of the Trinity.
6). Now this is the declaration of our Faith, that we say that God is One, neither dividing His Son from Him, as do the heathen,12 nor denying, with the Jews, that He was begotten of the Father before all worlds,13 and afterwards born of the Virgin; nor yet, like Sabellius,14 confounding the Father with the Word, and so maintaining that Father and Son are one and the same Person; nor again, as doth Photinus,15 holding that the Son first came into existence in the Virgin’s womb: nor believing, with Arius,16 in a number of diverse Powers,17 and so, like the benighted heathen, making out more than one God. For it is written: “Hear, O Israel: the Lord thy God is one God.”18
7. For God and Lord is a name of majesty, a name of power, even as God Himself saith: “The Lord is My name,”19 and as in another place the prophet declareth: “The Lord Almighty is His name.”20 God is He, therefore, and Lord, either because His rule is over all, or because He beholdeth all things, and is feared by all, without difference.21
8. If, then, God is One, one is the name, one is the power, of the Trinity. Christ Himself, indeed, saith: “Go ye, baptize the nations in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”22 In the name, mark you, not in the names."23
9. Moreover, Christ Himself saith: “I and the Father are One.”24 “One,” said He, that there be no separation of power and nature; but again, “We are,” that you may recognize Father and Son, forasmuch as the perfect Father is believed to have begotten the perfect Son,25 and the Father and the Son are One, not by confusion of Person, but by unity of nature.26
10. We say, then, that there is one God, not two or three Gods, this being the error into which the impious heresy of the Arians doth run with its blasphemies. For it says that there are three Gods, in that it divides the Godhead of the Trinity; whereas the Lord, in saying, “Go, baptize the nations in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” hath shown that the Trinity is of one power. We confess Father, Son, and Spirit, understanding in a perfect Trinity both fulness of Divinity and unity of power.27
11. “Every kingdom divided against itself shall quickly be overthrown,” saith the Lord. Now the kingdom of the Trinity is not divided. If, therefore, it is not divided, it is one; for that which is not one is divided. The Arians, however, would have the kingdom of the Trinity to be such as may easily be overthrown, by division against itself. But truly, seeing that it cannot be overthrown, it is plainly undivided. For no unity is divided or rent asunder, and therefore neither age nor corruption has any power over it.28
06102 The Emperor is exhorted to display zeal in the Faith. Christ’s perfect Godhead is shown from the unity of will and working which He has with the Father. The attributes of Divinity are shown to be proper to Christ, Whose various titles prove His essential unity, with distinction of Person. In no other way can the unity of God be maintained.
12. “Not every one that saith unto Me Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven,”29 saith the Scripture. Faith, therefore, august Sovereign, must not be a mere matter of performance, for it is written, “The zeal of thine house hath devoured me.”30 Let us then with faithful spirit and devout mind call upon Jesus our Lord, let us believe that He is God, to the end that whatever we ask of the Father, we may obtain in His name.31 For the Father’s will is, that He be entreated through the Son, the Son’s that the Father be entreated.32
13. The grace of His submission makes for agreement [with our teaching], and the acts of His power are not at variance therewith. For whatsoever things the Father doeth, the same also doeth the Son, in like manner.33 The Son both doeth the same things, and doeth them in like manner, but it is the Father’s will that He be entreated in the matter of what He Himself proposeth to do, that you may understand, not that He cannot do it otherwise, but that there is one power displayed. Truly, then, is the Son of God to be adored and worshipped, Who by the power of His Godhead hath laid the foundations of the world, and by His submission informed our affections.34
14. Therefore we ought to believe that God is good, eternal, perfect, almighty, and true, such as we find Him in the Law and the Prophets, and the rest of the holy Scriptures,35 for otherwise there is no God. For He Who is God cannot but be good, seeing that fulness of goodness is of the nature of God:36 nor can God, Who made time, be in time; nor, again, can God be imperfect, for a lesser being is plainly imperfect, seeing that it lacks somewhat whereby it could be made equal to a greater. This, then, is the teaching of our faith—that God is not evil, that with God nothing is impossible, that God exists not in time, that God is beneath no being. If I am in error, let my adversaries prove it.37
15. Seeing, then, that Christ is God, He is, by consequence, good and almighty and eternal and perfect and true; for these attributes belong to the essential nature of the Godhead. Let our adversaries, therefore, deny the Divine Nature in Christ,—otherwise they cannot refuse to God what is proper to the Divine Nature.
16. Further, that none may fall into error, let a man attend to those signs vouchsafed us by holy Scripture, whereby we may know the Son. He is called the Word, the Son, the Power of God, the Wisdom of God.38 The Word, because He is without blemish; the Power, because He is perfect; the Son, because He is begotten of the Father; the Wisdom, because He is one with the Father, one in eternity, one in Divinity. Not that the Father is one Person with the Son; between Father and Son is the plain distinction that comes of generation;39 so that Christ is God of God, Everlasting of Everlasting, Fulness of Fulness.40
17. Now these are not mere names, but signs of power manifesting itself in works for while there is fulness of Godhead in the Father, there is also fulness of Godhead in the Son, not diverse, but one. The Godhead is nothing confused, for it is an unity: nothing manifold, for in it there is no difference.
18. Moreover, if in all them that believed there was, as it is written, one soul and one heart:41 if every one that cleaveth to the Lord is one spirit,42 as the Apostle hath said: if a man and his wife are one flesh:43 if all we mortal men are, so far as regards our general nature, of one substance: if this is what the Scripture saith of created men, that, being many, they are one,44 who can in no way be compared to Divine Persons, how much more are the Father and the Son one in Divinity, with Whom there is no difference either of substance or of will!
19. For how else shall we say that God is One? Divinity maketh plurality, but unity of power debarreth quantity of number, seeing that unity is not number, but itself is the principle of all numbers.
06103 By evidence gathered from Scripture the unity of Father and Son is proved, and firstly, a passage, taken from the Book of Isaiah, is compared with others and expounded in such sort as to show that in the Son there is no diversity from the Father’s nature, save only as regards the flesh; whence it follows that the Godhead of both Persons is One. This conclusion is confirmed by the authority of Baruch.
20). Now the oracles45 of the prophets bear witness what close unity holy Scripture declares to subsist between the Father and the Son as regards their Godhead. For thus saith the Lord of Sabaoth:46 “Egypt hath laboured, and the commerce of the Ethiopians and Sabeans: mighty men shall come over to thee, and shall be thy servants, and in thy train shall they follow, bound in fetters, and they shall fall down before thee, and to thee shall they make supplication: for God is in thee, and there is no God beside thee. For thou art God, and we knew it not, O God of Israel.”47
21. Hear the voice of the prophet: “In Thee,” he saith, “is God, and there is no God beside Thee.” How agreeth this with the Arians’ teaching? They must deny either the Father’s or the Son’s Divinity, unless they believe, once for all, unity of the same Divinity.
22. “In Thee,” saith he, “is God”—forasmuch as the Father is in the Son. For it is written, “The Father, Who abideth in Me, Himself speaketh,” and “The works that I do, He Himself also doeth.”48 And yet again we read that the Son is in the Father, saying, “I am in the Father, and the Father in Me.”49 Let the Arians, if they can, make away with this kinship50 in nature and unity in work.
23. There is, therefore, God in God, but not two Gods; for it is written that there is one God,51 and there is Lord in Lord,52 but not two Lords, forasmuch as it is likewise written: “Serve not two lords.”53 And the Law saith: “Hear, O Israel! The Lord thy God is one God;”54 moreover, in the same Testament it is written: “The Lord rained from the Lord.”55 The Lord, it is said, sent rain “from the Lord.” So also you may read in Genesis: “And God said,—and God made,”56 and, lower down, “And God made man in the image of God;”57 yet it was not two gods, but one God, that made [man]. In the one place, then, as in the other, the unity of operation and of name is maintained. For surely, when we read “God of God,”58 we do not speak of two Gods.
24. Again, you may read in the forty-fourth psalm59 how the prophet not only calls the Father “God” but also proclaims the Son as God, saying: “Thy throne, O God, is for ever and ever.”60 And further on: “God, even thy God, hath anointed thee with the oil of gladness above thy fellows.”61 This God Who anoints, and God Who in the flesh is anointed, is the Son of God. For what fellows in His anointing hath Christ, except such as are in the flesh? You see, then, that God is by God anointed, but being anointed in taking upon Him the nature of mankind, He is proclaimed the Son of God; yet is the principle of the Law not broken.
25. So again, when you read, “The Lord rained from the Lord,” acknowledge the unity of Godhead, for unity in operation doth not allow of more than one individual God, even as the Lord Himself has shown, saying: “Believe Me, that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me: or believe Me for the very works’ sake.”62 Here, too, we see that unity of Godhead is signified by unity in operation.
26. The Apostle, careful to prove that there is one Godhead of both Father and Son, and one Lordship, lest we should run into any error, whether of heathen or of Jewish ungodliness, showed us the rule we ought to follow, saying: “One God, the Father, from Whom are all things, and we in Him, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, by Whom are all things, and we by Him.”63 For just as, in calling Jesus Christ “Lord,” he did not deny that the Father was Lord, even so, in saying, “One God, the Father,” he did not deny true Godhead to the Son, and thus he taught, not that there was more than one God, but that the source of power was one, forasmuch as Godhead consists in Lordship, and Lordship in Godhead, as it is written: “Be ye sure that the Lord, He is God. It is He that hath made us, and not we ourselves.”64
27. “In thee,” therefore, “is God,” by unity of nature, and “there is no God beside Thee,” by reason of personal possession of the Substance, without any reserve or difference.65
28. Again, Scripture speaks, in the Book of Jeremiah, of One God, and yet acknowledges both Father and Son. Thus we read: “He is our God, and in comparison with Him none other shall be accounted of. He hath discovered all the way of teaching, and given it to Jacob, His servant, and to Israel, His beloved. After these things He appeared upon earth, and conversed with men.”
29. The prophet speaks of the Son, for it was the Son Himself Who conversed with men, and this is what he says: “He is our God, and in comparison with Him none other shall be accounted of.” Why do we call Him in question, of Whom so great a prophet saith that no other can be compared with Him? What comparison of another can be made, when the Godhead is One? This was the confession of a people set in the midst of dangers; reverencing religion, and therefore unskilled in strife of argument.
30. Come, Holy Spirit, and help Thy prophets, in whom Thou art wont to dwell, in whom we believe. Shall we believe the wise of this world, if we believe not the prophets? But where is the wise man, where is the scribe? When our peasant planted figs, he found that whereof the philosopher knew nothing, for God hath chosen the foolish things of this world to confound the strong.66 Are we to believe the Jews? for God was once known in Jewry. Nay, but they deny that very thing, which is the foundation of our belief, seeing that they know not the Father, who have denied the Son.67
06104 The Unity of God is necessarily implied in the order of Nature, in the Faith, and in Baptism. The gifts of the Magi declare (1) the Unity of the Godhead; (2) Christ’s Godhead and Manhood. The truth of the doctrine of the Trinity in Unity is shown in the Angel walking in the midst of the furnace with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego.
31). All nature testifies to the Unity of God, inasmuch as the universe is one. The Faith declares that there is one God, seeing that there is one belief in both the Old and the New Testament. That there is one Spirit, all holy,68 grace witnesseth, because there is one Baptism, in the Name of the Trinity. The prophets proclaim, the apostles hear, the voice of one God. In one God did the Magi believe, and they brought, in adoration, gold, frankincense, and myrrh to Christ’s cradle, confessing, by the gift of gold, His Royalty, and with the incense worshipping Him as God. For gold is the sign of kingdom, incense of God, myrrh of burial.69
32. What, then, was the meaning of the mystic offerings in the lowly cattle-stalls, save that we should discern in Christ the difference between the Godhead and the flesh? He is seen as man,70 He is adored as Lord. He lies in swaddling-clothes, but shines amid the stars; the cradle shows His birth, the stars His dominion;71 it is the flesh that is wrapped in clothes, the Godhead that receives the ministry of angels. Thus the dignity of His natural majesty is not lost, and His true assumption of the flesh is proved.
33. This is our Faith. Thus did God will that He should be known by all, thus believed the three children,72 and felt not the fire into the midst whereof they were cast, which destroyed and burnt up unbelievers,73 whilst it fell harmless as dew upon the faithful,74 for whom the flames kindled by others became cold, seeing that the torment had justly lost its power in conflict with faith. For with them there was One in the form of an angel,75 comforting them,76 to the end that in the number of the Trinity one Supreme Power might be praised. God was praised, the Son of God was seen in God’s angel, holy and spiritual grace spake in the children.77
06105 The various blasphemies uttered by the Arians against Christ are cited. Before these are replied to, the orthodox78 are admonished to beware of the captious arguments of philosophers, forasmuch as in these especially did the heretics put their trust.
34). Now let us consider the disputings of the Arians concerning the Son of God.
35. They say that the Son of God is unlike His Father. To say this of a man would be an insult.79
36. They say that the Son of God had a beginning in time,80 whereas He Himself is the source and ordainer of time and all that therein is.81 We are men, and we would not be limited to time. We began to exist once, and we believe that we shall have a timeless existence. We desire after immortality—how, then, can we deny the eternity of God’s Son, Whom God declares to be eternal by nature, not by grace?
37. They say that He was created.82 But who would reckon an author with his works, and have him seem to be what he has himself made?
38. They deny His goodness.83 Their blaspheming is its own condemnation, and so cannot hope for pardon.
39. They deny that He is truly Son of God, they deny His omnipotence, in that whilst they admit that all things are made by the ministry of the Son, they attribute the original source of their being to the power of God. But what is power, save perfection of nature?84
40. Furthermore, the Arians deny that in Godhead He is One with the Father.85 Let them annul the Gospel, then, and silence the voice of Christ. For Christ Himself has said: “I and the Father are one.”86 It is not I who say this: Christ has said it. Is He a deceiver, that He should lie?87 Is He unrighteous, that He should claim to be what He never was." But of these matters we will deal severally, at greater length, in their proper place.
41. Seeing, then, that the heretic says that Christ is unlike His Father, and seeks to maintain this by force of subtle disputation, we must cite the Scripture: “Take heed that no man make spoil of you by philosophy and vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, and after the rudiments of this world, not according to Christ; for in Him dwelleth all the fulness of Godhead in bodily shape.”88
42. For they store up all the strength of their poisons in dialetical disputation, which by the judgment of philosophers is defined as having no power to establish aught, and aiming only at destruction.89 But it was not by dialectic that it pleased God to save His people; “for the kingdom of God consisteth in simplicity of faith, not in wordy contention.”90
06106 By way of leading up to his proof that Christ is not different from the Father, St. Ambrose cites the more famous leaders of the Arian party, and explains how little their witness agrees, and shows what defence the Scriptures provide against them.
43). The Arians, then, say that Christ is unlike the Father; we deny it. Nay, indeed, we shrink in dread from the word. Nevertheless I would not that your sacred Majesty should trust to argument and our disputation. Let us enquire of the Scriptures, of apostles, of prophets, of Christ. In a word, let us enquire of the Father, Whose honour these men say they uphold, if the Son be judged inferior to Him. But insult to the Son brings no honour to the good Father. It cannot please the good Father, if the Son be judged inferior, rather than equal, to His Father.
44. I pray your sacred Majesty to suffer me, if for a little while I address myself particularly to these men. But whom shall I choose out to cite? Eunomius?91 or Arius and Aetius,92 his instructors? For there are many names, but one unbelief, constant in wickedness, but in conversation divided against itself; without difference in respect of deceit, but in common enterprise breeding dissent. But wherefore they will not agree together I understand not.
45. The Arians reject the person of Eunomius, but they maintain his unbelief and walk in the ways of his iniquity. They say that he has too generously published the writings of Arius. Truly, a plentiful lavishing of error! They praise him who gave the command, and deny him who executed it! Wherefore they have now fallen apart into several sects. Some follow after Eunomius or Aëtius, others after Palladius or Demophilus and Auxentius, or the inheritors of this form of unbelief.93 Others, again, follow different teachers. Is Christ, then, divided?94 Nay; but those who divide Him from the Father do with their own hands cut themselves asunder).
46. Seeing, therefore, that men who agree not amongst themselves have all alike conspired against the Church of God, I shall call those whom I have to answer by the common name of heretics. For heresy, like some hydra of fable, hath waxed great from its wounds, and, being ofttimes lopped short, hath grown afresh, being appointed to find meet destruction in flames of fire.95 Or, like some dread and monstrous Scylla, divided into many shapes of unbelief, she displays, as a mask to her guile, the pretence of being a Christian sect, but those wretched men whom she finds tossed to and fro in the waves of her unhallowed strait, amid the wreckage of their faith, she, girt with beastly monsters, rends with the cruel fang of her blasphemous doctrine.96
47. This monster’s cavern, your sacred Majesty, thick laid, as seafaring men do say it is, with hidden lairs, and all the neighbourhood thereof, where the rocks of unbelief echo to the howling of her black dogs, we must pass by with ears in a manner stopped. For it is written: “Hedge thine ears about with thorns;”97 and again: “Beware of dogs, beware of evil workers;”98 and yet again: “A man that is an heretic, avoid after the first reproof, knowing that such an one is fallen, and is in sin, being condemned of his own judgment.”99 So then, like prudent pilots, let us set the sails of our faith for the course wherein we may pass by most safely, and again follow the coasts of the Scriptures.100
06107 The likeness of Christ to the Father is asserted on the authority of St. Paul, the prophets, and the Gospel, and especially in reliance upon the creation of man in God’s image.
48). The Apostle saith that Christ is the image of the Father—for he calls Him the image of the invisible God, the first-begotten of all creation. First-begotten, mark you, not first-created, in order that He may be believed to be both begotten, in virtue of His nature,101 and first in virtue of His eternity. In another place also the Apostle has declared that God made the Son “heir of all things, by Whom also He made the worlds, Who is the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His substance.”102 The Apostle calls Christ the image of the Father, and Arius says that He is unlike the Father. Why, then, is He called an image, if He hath no likeness? Men will not have their portraits unlike them, and Arius contends that the Father is unlike the Son, and would have it that the Father has begotten one unlike Himself, as though unable to generate His like.
49. The prophets say: “In Thy light we shall see light;”103 and again: “Wisdom is the brightness of everlasting light, and the spotless mirror of God’s majesty, the image of His goodness.”104 See what great names are declared! “Brightness,” because in the Son the Father’s glory shines clearly: “spotless minor,” because the Father is seen in the Son:105 “image of goodness,” because it is not one body seen reflected in another, but the whole power [of the Godhead] in the Son. The word “image” teaches us that there is no difference; “expression,” that He is the counterpart of the Father’s form; and “brightness” declares His eternity.106 The “image” in truth is not that of a bodily countenance, not one made up of colours, nor modelled in wax, but simply derived from God, coming out from the Father, drawn from the fountainhead.
50. By means of this image the Lord showed Philip the Father, saying, “Philip, he that sees Me, sees the Father also. How then dost thou say, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in Me?”107 Yes, he who looks upon the Son sees, in portrait, the Father.108 Marc what manner of portrait is spoken of. It is Truth, Righteousness, the Power of God:109 not dumb, for it is the Word; not insensible, for it is Wisdom; not vain and foolish, for it is Power; not soulless, for it is the Life; not dead, for it is the Resurrection.110 You see, then, that whilst an image is spoken of, the meaning is that it is the Father, Whose image the Son is, seeing that no one can be his own image.
51. More might I set down from the Son’s testimony; howbeit, lest He perchance appear to have asserted Himself overmuch, let us enquire of the Father. For the Father said, “Let us make man in Our image and likeness.”111 The Father saith to the Son “in Our image and likeness,” and thou sayest that the Son of God is unlike the Father.
52. Jn saith, “Beloved, we are sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: we know that if He be revealed, we shall be like Him.”112 O blind madness! O shameless obstinacy! We are men, and, so far as we may, we shall be in the likeness of God: dare we deny that the Son is like God?
53. Therefore the Father hath said: “Let us make man in Our image and likeness.” At the beginning of the universe itself, as I read, the Father and the Son existed, and I see one creation. I hear Him that speaketh.113 I acknowledge Him that doeth:114 but it is of one image, one likeness, that I read. This likeness belongs not to diversity but to unity. What, therefore, thou claimest for thyself, thou takest from the Son of God, seeing, indeed, that thou canst not be in the image of God, save by help of the image of God.
Ambrose selected works 6000