Ambrose selected works 6505
06505 Ambrose answers those who press the words of the Lord to the mother of Zebedee’s children, by saying that they were spoken out of kindness, because Christ was unwilling to cause her grief. Ample reason for such tenderness is brought forward. The Lord would rather leave the granting of that request to the Father, than declare it to be impossible. This answer of Christ’s, however, is not to His detriment, as is shown both by His very words, and also by comparing them with other passages.
54. “How,” they say, “can the Son of God be the only true God, like to the Father, when He Himself said to the sons of Zebedee: ‘Ye shall drink indeed of My cup; but to sit on My right hand or on My left, is not Mine to give to you, but to those for whom it has been prepared of My Father’?”79 This, then, is, as you desire, your proof of divine inequality; though in it you ought rather to reverence the Lord’s kindness and to adore His grace; if, that is, you could but perceive the deep secrets of the virtue and wisdom of God.
55. For think of her who, with and for her sons, makes this request. It is a mother, who in her anxiety for the honour of her sons, though somewhat unrestrained in the measure of her desires, may for all that yet find pardon. It is a mother, old in years, devout in her zeal, deprived of consolation; who at that time, when she might have been helped and supported by the aid of her able bodied offspring, suffered her children to leave her, and preferred the reward her sons should receive in following Christ to her own pleasure. For they when called by the Lord, at the first word, as we read, left their nets and their father and followed Him.80
56. She then, somewhat yielding to the devotion of a mother’s zeal, besought the Saviour, saying: “Grant that these my two sons may sit the one on Thy right hand, the other on Thy left in Thy kingdom.”81 Although it was an error, it was an error of a mother’s affections; for a mother’s heart knows no patience. Though eager for the object of her desires, yet her longing was pardonable, for she was not greedy for money, but for grace. Not shameless was her request, for she thought not of herself, but of her children. Contemplate the mother, reflect upon her.
57. But it is nothing wonderful if the feelings of parents for their children seem nothing to you, who think the love of the Almighty Father for His only-begotten Son a trifling matter. The Lord of heaven and earth was ashamed (to speak as accords with the assumption of our flesh and the virtues of the soul)—He was ashamed, I say, and, to use His own word, disturbed, to refuse a share even in His own seat to a mother making request for her sons. You maintain sometimes that the proper Son of the eternal God stands to give service, at other times you would have His co-session to be as that of an attendant, that is, not because there is a oneness of majesty, but because it is the order of the Father; and you deny to the Son of God, Who is true God, that which He plainly was unwilling to refuse to men.
58. For He thought of the mother’s love, who solaced her old age with the thought of her sons’ reward, and, though harassed with a mother’s longings, endured the absence of those dearest pledges of her love.
59. Think also of the woman, that is, the weaker sex, whom the Lord had not yet strengthened by His own Passion. Think, I say, of a descendant of Eve, the first woman, sinking under the inheritance of unrestrained passion, which had been passed on to all; one, too, whom the Lord had not yet redeemed with His own Blood, and from whom He had not yet washed out in His Blood the desire implanted in the hearts of all for unbounded honour even beyond what is right. Thus the woman offended owing to an inherited tendency to wrong.
60. And what wonder if a mother should strive to win preference for her children (which is far better than if she had done it for herself), when even the Apostles themselves, as we read, strove amongst themselves, as to who should have the preference?82
61. The physician, therefore, ought not to wound a mother who has been deprived of all, nor a suffering mind, with shameful reproaches, lest when the request had been made and had been proudly denied, she should grieve over the condemnation of her petition as being unreasonable.
62. Lastly, the Lord, Who knew that a mother’s affection is to be honoured, answered not the woman, but her sons, saying: “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?” When they say: “We are able,” Jesus says to them: “Ye shall drink indeed of My cup; but to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give to you, but to those for whom it is prepared of My Father.”83
63. How patient and kind the Lord is; how deep is His wisdom and good His love! For wishing to show that the disciples asked for no slight thing, but one they could not obtain, He reserved His own peculiar rights for His Father’s honour, not fearing to detract aught from His own rights: “Who thought it not robbery to be equal with God;”84 and loving, too, His disciples (for “He loved them,” as it is written, “unto the end”),85 He was unwilling to seem to refuse to those whom He loved what they desired; He, I say, the good and holy Lord, Who would rather keep some of His own prerogative secret, than lay aside aught of His love. “For charity suffereth long, and is kind; charity envieth not, and seeketh not her own.”86
64. Lastly, that you may learn it was no sign of weakness, but rather of tenderness, that He said: “It is not Mine to give to you;” note that when the sons of Zebedee make the request without their mother, He said nothing about the Father; for thus it is written: “It is not Mine to give to you, but those for whom it has been prepared.”87 So the Evangelist Marc has stated it. But when the mother makes this request on her sons’ behalf, as we find it in Matthew, He says: “It is not Mine to give to you, but to those for whom it has been prepared of My Father.”88 Here He added: “of My Father,” for a mother’s feelings demanded greater tenderness.
65. But if they think that by saying, “For whom it hath been prepared of My Father,” He assigned greater power to His Father, or detracted aught from His own; let them say whether they think there is any detraction from the Father’s power, because the Son in the Gospel says of the Father: “The Father judgeth no man.”89
66. But if we think it impious to believe that the Father has handed over all judgment to the Son in such wise that He has it not Himself,—for He has it, and cannot lose what the Divine Majesty has by its very nature,—we ought to consider it equally impious to suppose that the Son cannot give what either men can merit, or any creature can receive; especially as He Himself has said: “I go unto My Father, and whatsoever ye shall ask of Him in My name, that will I do.”90 For if the Son cannot give what the Father can give, the Truth has lied, and cannot do what the Father has been asked for in His name. He therefore did not say: “For whom it has been prepared of My Father,” in order that requests should be made only of the Father. For all things which are asked of the Father, He has declared that He will give. Lastly, He did not say: “Whatsoever ye shall ask of Me, that will I do;” but: “Whatsoever ye shall ask of Him in My name, that will I do.”
06506 Wishing to answer the above-stated objection somewhat more fully, he maintains that this request, had it not been impossible in itself, would have been possible for Christ to grant; especially as the Father has given all judgment to Him; which gift we must understand to have been given without any feature of imperfection. However, he proves that the request must be reckoned amongst the impossibilities. To make it really possible, he teaches that Christ’s answer must be taken in accordance with His human nature, and shows this next by an exposition of the passage. Lastly, he once more confirms the reply he as given on the impossibility of Christ’s session.
67). I Ask now whether they think the request made by the wife and sons of Zebedee was possible or impossible to human circumstances, or to any created being? If it was possible, how is it that He Who made all things which were not had not the power of granting a seat to His apostles on His right hand and on His left? or how was it that He, to Whom the Father gave all judgment, could not judge of men’s merits?
68. We know well in what way He gave it; for how did the Son, who created all things out of nothing, receive it as though in want? Had He not the judgment of those whose natures He had made? The Father gave all judgment to the Son, “that all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father.”91 It is not therefore the power of the Son, but our knowledge of it, that increases; nor does what is learnt by us add aught to His being, but only to our advantage; so that by knowing the Son of God, we may have eternal life.
69. As, then, in our knowledge of the Son of God His honour, but our profit, not His, is concerned; if any one thinks that the power of God is augmented by that honour, He must also believe that God the Father can receive augmentation; for He is glorified by our knowledge of Him, as is the Son: as it is written on the word of the Son: “I have glorified Thee upon the earth.”92 Therefore if that which was asked for was at all possible, it certainly was in the power of the Son to grant it.
70. Let them show, if they consider it possible, who of men or of other created beings sits either on the right hand or the left of God. For the Father says to the Son: “Sit Thou on My right hand.”93 Therefore if any one sits on the right hand of the Son, the Son is found to be sitting (to speak in human wise) between Himself and the Father.
71. A thing impossible for man, then, was asked of Him. But He was unwilling to say that men could not sit with Him; seeing that He desired His divine glory should be veiled, and not revealed before He rose again.94 For before this, when He had appeared in glory between His attendants Moses and Elias, He had warned His disciples that they should tell no man what they had seen.
72. Therefore if it was not possible for men or other created beings to merit this, the Son ought not to seem to have less power because He gave not to His apostles, what the Father has not given to men or other created beings. Or else let them say to which of them He has given it. Certainly not to the angels; of whom Scripture says that all the angels stood round about the throne.95 Thus Gabriel said that he stands, as it says: “I am Gabriel that stand before God.”96
73. Not to the angels, then, has He given it, nor to the elders who worship Him that sitteth; for they do not sit upon the seat of majesty, but as the Scripture has said, round about the throne; for there are four and twenty other seats, as we have it in the Revelation of John: “And upon the seats four and twenty elders sitting.”97 In the Gospel also the Lord Himself says: “When the Son of Man shall sit in the throne of His glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”98 He did not say that a share in His own throne could be given to the apostles, but that there were those other twelve thrones; which, however, we ought not to think of as referring to actual sitting down, but as showing the happy issue of spiritual grace.
74. Lastly, in the Book of the Kings, Micaiah the prophet said: “I saw the Lord God of Israel sitting on His throne, and all the host of heaven standing around Him, on His right hand and on His left.”99 How then, when the angels stand on the right hand and on the left of the Lord God, when all the host of heaven stands, shall men sit on the right hand of God or on His left, to whom is promised as a reward for virtue likeness to the angels, as the Lord says: “Ye shall be as the angels in heaven?”100 “As the angels,” He says, not “more than the angels.”
75. If, then, the Father has given nothing more than the Son, the Son certainly has given nothing less than the Father. Therefore the Son can in no wise be less than the Father.
76. Suppose, however, that it had been possible for men to obtain what was desired; what does it mean when He says: “But to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give to you”?101 What is “Mine”? Above He said: “Ye shall drink indeed of My cup;” and again He added: “It is not Mine to give to you.” Above He said “Mine,” and again lower down He said “Mine.” He made no change. And so the earlier passages tell us why He said “Mine.”
77. For being asked by a woman as man to allow her sons to sit on His right hand and His left, because she asked Him as man, the Lord also as though only man answered concerning His Passion: “Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of?”102
78. Therefore because He spoke according to the flesh of the Passion of His Body, He wished to show that according to the flesh He left behind Him an example and pattern to us of the endurance of suffering; but that according to His position as man He could not grant them fellowship in the throne above. This is the reason why He said: “It is not Mine;” as also in another place He says: “My doctrine is not Mine.”103 It is not, He says, spoken after my flesh; for the words which are divine belong not to the flesh.
79. But how plainly He showed His tenderness for His disciples, whom He loved, saying first: “Will ye drink of My cup?” For as He could not grant what they sought, He offered them something else, so that He might mention what He would assign to them, before He denied them anything; in order that they might understand that the failure lay more in the equity of their request to Him, than in the wish of their Lord to show kindness.
80. “Ye shall indeed drink of My cup,” He says; that is, “I will not refuse you the suffering, which My flesh will undergo. For all that I have taken on Myself as man, ye can imitate. I have granted you the victory of suffering, the inheritance of the cross. ‘But to sit on My right hand and on My left is not Mine to give to you.’” He did not say, “It is not Mine to give,” but: “It is not Mine to give to you;” meaning by this, not that He lacked the power, but that His creatures were wanting in merit.
81. Or take in another way the words: “It is not Mine to give to you,” that is. “It is not Mine, for I came to teach humility; it is not Mine, for I came, not to be ministered unto, but to minister; it is not Mine, for I show justice, not favour.”
82. Then, speaking of the Father, He added: “For whom it has been prepared,” to show that the Father also is not wont to give heed merely to requests, but to merits; for God is not a respecter of persons.104 Wherefore also the Apostle says: “Whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate.”105 He did not predestinate them before He knew them, but He did predestinate the reward of those whose merits He foreknew.
83. Rightly then is the woman checked, who demanded what was impossible, as a special kind of privilege from Him the Lord, Who of His own free gift granted not only to two apostles, but to all the disciples, those things which He had adjudged to be given to the saints; and that too without a prayer from any one, as it is written: “Ye shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.”106
84. Therefore, although we may think the demand to have been possible, there is no room for false attacks. However, when Iread that the seraphim stand,107 how can I suppose that men may sit on the right hand or the left of the Son of God? The Lord sits upon the cherubim, as it says: “Thou that sittest upon the cherubim, show myself.”108 And how shall the apostles sit upon the cherubim?
85. And I do not come to this conclusion of my own mind, but because of the utterances of our Lord’s own mouth. For the Lord Himself later on, in commending the apostles to the Father, says: “Father, I will that they also whom Thou hast given Me be with Me where I am.”109 But if He had thought that the Father would give the divine throne to men, He would have said: “I will that where I sit, they also may sit with Me.” But He says: “I will that they be with Me,” not “that they may sit with Me;” and “where I am,” not “as I am.”
86. Then follow the words: “That they may see My glory.” Here too He did not say: “that they may have My glory,” but “that they may see” it. For the servant sees, the Lord possesses; as David also has taught us, saying: “That I may see the delight of the Lord.”110 And the Lord Himself in the Gospel has revealed it, stating: “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”111 “They shall see,” He says; not “They shall sit with God upon the cherubim.”
87. Let them therefore cease to think little of the Son of God according to His Godhead, lest they should think little also of the Father. For he who believes wrongly of the Son cannot think rightly of the Father; he who thinks wrongly of the Spirit cannot think rightly of the Son. For where there is one dignity, one glory, one love, one majesty, whatsoever thou thinkest is to be withdrawn in the case of any one of the Three Persons, is withdrawn from all alike, For that can never have completeness which thou canst separate and divide into various portions.
06507 Objection is taken to the following passage: “Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.” To remove it, he shows first the impiety of the Arian explanation; then compares these words with others; and lastly, takes the whole passage into consideration. Hence he gathers that the mission of Christ, although it is to be received according to the flesh, is not to His detriment. When this is proved he shows how the divine mission takes place.
88). There are some, O Emperor Augustus, who in their desire to deny the unity of the divine Substance, strive to make little of the love of the Father and the Son, because it is written: “Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me.”112 But when they say this, what else do they do but adopt a likeness of comparison between the Son of God and men?
89. Can men indeed be I loved by God as the Son is, in Whom the Father is well-pleased?113 He is well-pleasing in Himself; we through Him. For those in whom God sees His own Son after His own likeness, He admits through His Son into the favour of sons. So that as we go through likeness unto likeness, so through the Generation of the Son are we called unto adoption. The eternal love of God’s Nature is one thing, that of grace is another.
90. And if they start a debate on the words that are written: “And Thou hast loved them, as Thou hast loved Me,” and think a comparison is intended; they must think that the following also was said by way of comparison: “Be ye merciful, as your Father Which is in heaven is merciful;”114 and elsewhere: “Be ye perfect, as My Father Which is in heaven is perfect.”115 But if He is perfect in the fulness of His glory, we are but perfect according to the growth of virtue within us. The Son also is loved by the Father according to the fulness of a love that ever abideth, but in us growth in grace merits the love of God.
91. Thou seest, then, how God has given grace to men, and dost thou wish to dissever the natural and indivisible love of the Father and the Son? And dost thou still strive to make nothing of words, where thou dost note the mention of a unity of majesty?
92. Consider the whole of this passage, and see from what standpoint He speaks; for thou hearest Him saying: “Father, glorify Thou Me with the glory which I had with Thee before the world was.”116 See how He speaks from the standpoint of the first man. For He begs for us in that request those things which, as Man, He remembered were granted in paradise before the Fall, as also He spoke of it to the thief at His Passion: “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, today shall thou be with Me in paradise.”117 This is the glory before the world was. But He used the word “world” instead “men,” as also thou hast it: “Lo! the whole world goeth after Him;”118 and again “That the world may know that Thou hast sent Me.”119
93. But that thou mightest know the great God, even the life-giving and Almighty Son of God, He has added a proof of His majesty by saying: “And all Mine are Thine, and Thine are Mine.”120 He has all things, and dost thou turn aside the fact that He was sent, to wrong Him?
94. But if thou dost not accept the truth of His mission according to the flesh, as the Apostle spoke of it,121 and dost raise out of a mere word a decision against it, to enable thee to say that inferiors are wont to be sent by superiors; what answer wilt thou give to the fact that the Son was sent to men? For if thou dost think that he who is sent is inferior to him by whom he is sent, thou must learn also that an inferior has sent a superior, and that superiors have been sent to inferiors. For Tobias sent Raphael the archangel,122 and an angel was sent to Balsam,123 and the Son of God to the Jews.
95. Or was the Son of God inferior to the Jews to whom He was sent? For of Him it is written: “Last of all He sent unto them His only Son, saying, They will reverence My Son.”124 And mark that He mentioned first the servants, then the Son, that thou mayest know that God, the only-begotten Son according to the power of His Godhead, has neither name nor lot in common with servants. He is sent forth to be reverenced, not to be compared with the household.
96. And rightly did He add the word “My,” that we might believe He came, not as one of many, nor as one of a lower nature or of some inferior power, but as true from Him that is true, as the Image of the Father’s Substance.
97. Suppose, however, that he who is sent is inferior to him by whom he is sent. Christ then was inferior to Pilate; for Pilate sent Him to Herod. But a word does not prejudice His power. Scripture, which says that He was sent from the Father, says that He was sent from a ruler.
98. Wherefore, if we sensibly hold to those things which be worthy of the Son of God, we ought to understand Him to have been sent in such a way that the Word of God, out of the incomprehensible and ineffable mystery of the depths of His majesty, gave Himself for comprehension to our minds, so far as we could lay hold of Him, not only when He “emptied” Himself, but also when He dwelt in us, as it is written: “I will dwell in them.”125 Elsewhere also it stands that God said: “Go to, let us go down and confound their language.”126 God, indeed, never descends from any place; for He says: “I fill heaven and earth.”127 But He seems to descend when the Word of God enters our hearts, as the prophet has said: “Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make His paths straight.”128 We are to do this, so that, as He Himself promised, He may come together with the Father and make His abode with us.129 It is clear, then, how He comes.
Christ, so far as He is true Son of God, has no Lord, but only so far as He is Man; as is shown by His words in which He addressed at one time the Father, at another the Lord. How many heresies are silenced by one verse of Scripture! We must distinguish between the things that belong to Christ as Son of God or as Son of David. For under the latter title only must we ascribe it to Him that He was a servant. Lastly, he points out that many passages cannot be taken except as referring to the Incarnation.
99). Wherefore also it is plain how He calls Him Lord, Whom He knew as Father. For He says: “I confess to Thee, Father, Lord of heaven and earth.”130 First Wisdom spoke of His own Father, and then proclaimed Him Lord of creation. For this reason the Lord shows in His Gospel that no lordship is exercised where there is a true offspring, saying: “What think ye of Christ? Whose Son is He? They say unto Him, The son of David. Jesus saith to them, How then doth David in spirit call Him Lord, saying: The Lord said unto my Lord: Sit Thou on My right hand”? Then he added: “If David in spirit then call Him Lord. how is He his son? And no man was able to answer Him a word.”131
100. With what care did the Lord provide for the faith in this witness because of the Arians! For He did not say: “The spirit calls Him Lord,” but that “David spake in spirit;” in order that men might believe that as He is his, that is, David’s son according to the flesh, so also He is his Lord and God according to His Godhead. Thou seeest, then, that there is a distinction between the titles that are used of relationship and of lordship.
101. And rightly did the Lord speak of His own Father, but of the Lord of heaven and earth; so that thou, when thou readest of the Father and the Lord, mayest understand it is the Father of the Son, and the Lord of Creation. In the one title rests the claim of nature, in the other the authority to rule. For taking on Himself the form of a servant, He calls Him Lord, because He has submitted to service; being equal to Him in the form of God, but being a servant in the form of His body: for service is the due of the flesh, but lordship is the due of the Godhead. Wherefore also the Apostle says: “The God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory,”132 that is, terming Him God of the adoption of humanity but the Father of glory. Did God have two Sons, Christ and Glory? Certainly not. Therefore if there is one Son of God, even Christ, Christ is Glory. Why dost thou strive to belittle Him who is the glory of the Father?
102. If then the Son is glory, and the Father is glory (for the Father of glory cannot be anything else than glory), there is no separation of glories, but glory is one. Thus glory is referred to its own proper nature, but lordship to the service of the body that was assumed. For if the flesh is subject to the soul of a just man as it is written: “I chastise my body and bring it into subjection;”133 how much more is it subject to the Godhead, of Which it is said: “For all things serve Thee”?134
103. By one question the Lord has shut out both Sabellians and Photinians and Arians. For when He said that the Lord spoke to the Lord, Sabellius is set aside, who will have it that the same Person is both Father and Son. Photinus is set aside, who thinks of Him merely as man; for none could be Lord of David the King, but He Who is God, for it is written: “Thou shalt worship the Lord ’thy God, and Him only shalt thou serve.”135 Would the prophet who ruled under the Law act contrary to the Law? Arius is set aside, who hears that the Son sits on the right hand of the Father; so that if he argues from human ways, he refutes himself, and makes the poison of his blasphemous arguments to flow back upon himself. For in interpreting the inequality of the Father and the Son by the analogy of human habits (wandering from the truth in either case), he puts Him first Whom he makes little of, confessing Him to be the First, Whom he hears to be at the right hand. The Manichaean also is set aside, for he does not deny that He is the Son of David according to the flesh, Who, at the cry of the blind men, “Jesus, Thou Son of David, have mercy on us,”136 was pleased at their faith and stood and healed them. But He does deny that this refers to His eternity, if He is called Son of David alone by those who are false.
104. For “Son of God” is against Ebion,137 “Son of David,” is against the Manichees;138 “Son of God” is against Photinus,139 “Son of David” is against Marcion;140 “Son of God” is against Paul of Samosata,141 “Son of David” is against Valentinus;142 “Son of God” is against Arius and Sabellius, the inheritors of heathen errors. “Lord of David” is against the Jews, who beholding the Son of God in the flesh, in impious madness believed Him to be only man.
105. But in the faith of the Church one and the same is both Son of God the Father and Son of David. For the mystery of the Incarnation of God is the salvation of the whole of creation, according to that which is written: “That without God He should taste death for every man;”143 that is, that every creature might be redeemed without any suffering at the price of the blood of the Lord’s Divinity, as it stands elsewhere: “Every creature shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.”144
106. It is one thing to be named Son according to the divine Substance, it is another thing to be so called according to the adoption of human flesh. For, according to the divine Generation, the Son is equal to God the Father; and, according to the adoption of a body, He is a servant to God the Father. “For,” it says, “He took upon Him the form of a servant.”145 The Son is, however, one and the same. On the other hand, according to His glory, He is Lord to the holy patriarch David, but his Son in the line of actual descent, not abandoning aught of His own, but acquiring for Himself the rights that go with the adoption into our race.
107. Not only does He undergo service in the character of man by reason of His descent from David, but also by reason of His name, as it is written: “I have found David My Servant;”146 and elsewhere: “Behold I will send unto you My Servant, the Orient is His name.”147 And the Son Himself says: “Thus saith the Lord, that formed Me from the womb to be His servant, and said unto Me: It is a great thing for Thee to be called My Servant. Behold I have set Thee up for a witness to My people, and a light to the Gentiles, that Thou mayest be for salvation unto the ends of the earth.”148 To whom is this said, if not to Christ? Who being in the form of God, emptied Himself and took upon Him the form of a servant.149 But what can be in the form of God, except that which exists in the fulness of the Godhead?
108. Learn, then, what this means: “He took upon Him the form of a servant.” It means that He took upon Him all the perfections of humanity in their completeness, and obedience in its completeness. And so it says in the thirtieth Psalm: “Thou hast set my feet in a large room. I am made a reproach above all mine enemies. Make Thy face to shine upon Thy servant.”150 “Servant” means the Man in whom He was sanctified; it means the Man in whom He was anointed; it means the Man in whom He was made under the law, made of the Virgin; and, to put it briefly, it means the Man in whose person He has a mother, as it is written: “O Lord, I am Thy Servant, I am Thy Servant, and the Son of Thy hand-maid;”151 and again: “I am cast down and sore humbled.”152
109. Who is sore humbled, but Christ, Who came to free all through His obedience? “For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.”153 Who received the cup of salvation? Christ the High Priest, or David who never held the priesthood, nor endured suffering? Who offered the sacrifice of Thanksgiving?154
110. But that is insufficient; take again: “Preserve My soul, for I am holy.”155 Did David say this of himself? Nay, He says it, Who also says: “Thou wilt not leave My soul in hell, neither wilt Thou suffer Thine Holy One to see corruption.”156 The Same then says both of these.
111. He has added further: “Save Thy Servant;”157 and, further on: “Give Thy strength to Thy servant, and to the Son of Thy handmaid;”158 and, elsewhere, that is, in Ezekiel: “And I will set up one Shepherd over them, and He shall rule them, even My Servant David. He shall feed them, and He shall be their Shepherd. And I the Lord will be their God, and My Servant David a prince among them.”159 Now David the Son of Jesse was already dead. Therefore he speaks of Christ, Who for our sakes was made the Son of a handmaiden in the form of man; for according to His divine Generation He has no Mother, but a Father only: nor is He the fruit of earthly desire, but the eternal Power of God.
112. And so, also, when we read that the Lord said: “My time is not yet full come;”160 and: “Yet a little while I am with you;” and: “I go unto Him that sent Me;”161 and: “Now is the Son of Man glorified;”162 we ought to refer all this to the sacrament of the Incarnation. But when we read: “And God is glorified in Him, and God hath glorified Him;”163 what doubt is there here, where the Son is glorified by the Father, and the Father is glorified by the Son?
113. Next, to make clear the faith of the Unity, and the Union of the Trinity, He also said that He would be glorified by the Spirit, as it stands: “He shall receive of Mine, and shall glorify Me.”164 Therefore the Holy Spirit also glorifies the Son of God. How, then, did He say: “If I glorify Myself, My glory is nothing.”165 Is then the glory of the Son nothing? It is blasphemy to say so, unless we apply these words to His flesh; for the Son spoke in the character of man, for by comparison with the Godhead, there is no glory of the flesh.
114. Let them cease from their wicked objections which are but thrown back upon their own falseness. For they say, it is written: “Now is the Son of Man glorified.” I do not deny that it is written: “The Son of Man is glorified.” But let them see what follows:
“And God is glorified in Him.” I can plead some excuse for the Son of Man, but He has none for His Father; for the Father took not flesh upon Himself. I can plead an excuse, but do not use it. He has none, and is falsely attacked. I can either understand it in its plain sense, or I can apply to the flesh what concerns the flesh. A devout mind distinguishes between the things which are spoken after the flesh or after the Godhead. An impious mind turns aside to the dishonour of the Godhead, all that is said with regard to the littleness of the flesh).
Ambrose selected works 6505